“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” Jn. xvi, 33
Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!
The following is a good word from Pilgrimage Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, who addressed the following lines via e-mail this morning to his Roman flock at St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
As we are subjected to yet more weeks of social distancing, it is important to remember that fear has been used in every totalitarian regime to divide neighbors and turn them on each other.
What better way to establish a police state than to convince each member that their “duty” is to report their neighbor for congregating with others? Yet, this approach to society is the very opposite of what Christ teaches us.
True Christian charity and the preservation of the common good of society demand that we both desire the best for and assume the best of our neighbor. In Nazi Germany, parents were unable to speak of their discontent with the government for fear that their own children would turn them in. The state had established itself in place of God. The honor due to our parents as commanded by God was undermined by a state which overthrew this Commandment in favor of its own.
We currently have prominent churchmen who claim that the various national, state, or local governments which, in various places, prohibited or restricted the public worship of God, did not violate religious liberty. The reason this might be true is only because the [same churchmen] surrendered [holy Church’s] natural law right and obligation to worship God before [they were] even asked.
In the past, the men who upon learning that their neighboring country might wage war against them, opened their homes and surrendered their weapons to that country, were labeled cowards and traitors. What will history say of us and our leaders?
Regardless of how men view us, we must strive not to become either betrayers of Christ or instruments of an atheistic state.
Judas did not betray Christ because he, Judas, was a thoroughly evil man. He betrayed Christ because he was disillusioned and preferred the goods of this world to those Christ preached. How often have Church leaders watered down the Gospel and moral law so that they might not jeopardize their tax-exempt status?
Chaucer says in the Canterbury Tales, “Radix malorum est cupiditas”: the love of money is a root of evil. [Cf. also I. Tim. vi, 10 — cupidity: lust to acquire mammon, material goods.] Is the promise of government payouts lessening our outrage at the loss of the sacraments? Are we starting to imitate the pagans who have no obligations on Sunday, but treat it as any other day?
Following the French Revolution which was an overthrow and rejection, not only of the monarchy but also the Catholic Church in France, the revolutionary government attempted to make a ten-day week and to rename the days so as to destroy the Lord’s day and erase our attachment to Genesis and our creator. How much are we willing to give up our patrimony?
I send you this letter to ask you to pray and do sacrifices that God will sanctify us and make us holy vessels of His Love. Let us also ask that He intervene and overthrow His enemies both within and outside the Church. Let this overthrow be one of conversion for men who have chosen this world over the kingdom of God.
We know that God desires the repentance and conversion of the sinner rather than his death. May our prayers help to bring this about, lest God sees in us and all the world a people who no longer serve Him and, like in the time of Noah, see the destruction of the world as the best means to purify it of evil.
Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP