Monday, October 15, 2012

Redeem the Time: Dom. Prosper Gueranger

 The following was sent to me by a correspondent – a homily for this past Sunday, the 20th Sunday after Pentecost in the old calendar (for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass). The Epistle for this Sunday was Ephesians 5:15-21.

I found this very powerful. Read it slowly; reread it. It’s sobering, really, how well it describes what is happening in our society today.

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Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil....Try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
Dom. Prosper Guéranger, OSB (abbot & founder of Solesmes Abbey, 1805-1875):[i]

As the nuptials of the Son of God approach their final completion, there will be, also, on the side of hell, a redoubling of rage against the Bride, with a determination to destroy her. The dragon of the Apocalypse, (12:9) the old serpent who seduced Eve, will vomit his vile foam, as a river, from his mouth, (12:15) — that is, he will urge on all the passions of man, that they may league together for her ruin. But, do what he will, he can never weaken the bond of the eternal alliance; and, having no power against the Church herself, he will turn his fury against the last children of the new Eve, who will have the perilous honor of those final battles, which are described by [St. John,] the Prophet of Patmos. (12:17)

It is then, more than at all previous times, that the Faithful will have to remember the injunction given to us by the Apostle, in today’s Epistle; that is, they will have to comport themselves with that circumspection, which he enjoins, taking every possible care to keep their understanding, no less than their heart, pure, in those evil days.
·         Supernatural light will, in those days, not only have to stand the attacks of the children of darkness, who will put forward their false doctrines;
·         it will, moreover, be minimized and falsified by the very children of the light yielding on the question of principles;
·         it will be endangered by the hesitations, and trimmings, and human prudence, of those who are called far-seeing men.
·         Many will practically ignore the master-truth, that the Church never can be overwhelmed by any created power.

If they do remember that our Lord has promised, himself, to uphold his Church even to the end of the world, (Mt 28:20) they will still have the impertinence to believe, that they do a great service to the good cause, by making certain politically clever concessions, which, if they were tried in the balance of the sanctuary, would be found under weight!

Those future worldly-wise people will quite forget, that our Lord will have no need, for helping him to keep his promise, of crooked schemes, however shrewd those may be; they will entirely overlook this most elementary consideration, — that the co-operation, which Jesus deigns to accept, at the hands of his servants, in the defense of the rights of his Church, never could consist in the garbling, or in the disguisement, of those grand truths, which constitute the power and beauty of the Bride.

Is it possible, that they will forget the Apostle’s maxim, which he lays down in his Epistle to the Romans, — that the conforming oneself to this world, — the attempting an impossible adaptation of the Gospel to a world that is un-Christianized, — is not the means for proving what is the good, and acceptable, and the perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2) So that, it will be a thing of great and rare merit, in many an occurrence of those unhappy times, to merely understand what is the will of God, as our Epistle expresses it.

Look to yourselves, would St. John say to those men, that ye lose not the things which ye have wrought; make yourselves sure of the full reward, which is only given to the persevering thoroughness of doctrine and faith! (2 Jn 8:9) Besides, it will be then, as in all other times, that,
·         according to the saying of the Holy Ghost, the simplicity of the just shall guide them, (Prov. 11:8) and far more safely, than any human ingenuity could do;
·         humility will give them Wisdom; (Prov 11:2) and, keeping themselves closely united to this noble companion, they will be made truly wise by her, and will know what is acceptable to God. (Wis 9:10)

They will understand, that aspiring, like the Church herself, to union with the eternal Word, — fidelity to the Spouse, for them, as it is for the Church, is nothing else than fidelity to the truth; for the Word, who is the one same object of love to both of them, is, in God, no other than the splendor of infinite truth. (Wis 7:25,26)

Their one care, therefore, will ever be, to approach nearer and nearer to their Beloved, by a continually increasing resemblance to him; that is to say, by the completest reproduction, both in their words and works, of the beautiful Truth. By so doing, they will be serving their fellow-creatures in the best possible way, for they will be putting in practice the counsel of Jesus, who bids them seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and confide in him for all the rest. (Mt 6:33)

Others may have recourse to human and accommodating combinations, fitted to please all parties; they may put forward dubious compromises, which, (so their suggestors think,) will keep back, for some weeks, or some months perhaps, the fierce tide of revolution;—but those who have God’s spirit in them, will put a very different construction on the admonition given us, by the Apostle, in today’s Epistle, where he tells us to redeem the time.

It was our Lord who bought time, and at a great price; and he bought it for us, that it might be employed, by his faithful servants, in procuring glory for God. By most men, it is squandered away in sin or folly; but those who are united to Christ, as living members to the Spouse of their souls, will redeem it – that is, they will put such an intensity into their faith and their love, that, as far as it is possible for human nature, not a moment of their time shall be anything but an earnest tribute of service of their Lord. To the insolent and blasphemous things, which are then to be spoken by the Beast, (Apoc 13:5,6) these determined servants of God will give, for their brave answer, the cry of St. Michael, which he uttered against Satan, who was the helper of the Beast: (Apoc 13:2) Who is like unto God !

These closing weeks of the year used, in olden times, to be called: Weeks of the holy Angel. We have seen, in one of these Sundays, (17th) how there was announced the great Archangel’s coming to the aid of God’s people, as Daniel, the Prophet, had foretold would be at the end of the world. (Dn 12:1) When, therefore, the final tribulations shall commence; when exile shall scatter the Faithful, and the sword shall slay them, (Apoc 13:7,10) and the world shall approve all that, prostrate, as it then will be, before the Beast and his image, (Apoc 13:3,4,8,15) — let us not forget, that we have a leader chosen by God, and proclaimed by the Church; a leader who will marshal us during those final combats, in which, the defeat of the saints (Apoc 13:7), will be more glorious than were the triumphs of the Church, in the days when she ruled the world. For, what God will then ask of his servants, will not be success of diplomatical arrangements, nor a victory won by arms, but fidelity to his truth, that is, to his Word; a fidelity all the more generous and perfect, as there will be an almost universal falling off around the little army fighting under the Archangel’s banner. Uttered by a single faithful heart, and under such circumstances, and uttered with the bravery of faith and the ardor of love, — the cry of St. Michael, which heretofore routed the infernal legions, will be a greater honor to God, than will be the insult offered to him by the millions of the degraded followers of the Beast.

Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil....Try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
Let us get thoroughly imbued with these thoughts, which are suggested by the opening lines of our Epistle. Let us, also, master the other instructions it contains, and which, after all, differ but little from the ones we have been developing. On this Sunday, when, formerly, was read the Gospel of the nuptials of the Son of God, and the invitation to his divine banquet, — our holy Mother, the Church, appropriately in the Epistle, bids us observe the immense difference there is between these sacred delights, and the joys of the world’s marriage feasts. The calm, the purity, the peace of the just man, who is admitted into intimacy with God, are a continual feast to his soul; (Prov 15:15) the food served up at that feast is Wisdom; (Ecclus 24:29) Wis- dom, too, is the beloved Guest, who is unfailingly there. (Wis 8:16)

The world is quite welcome to its silly and, often, shameful pleasures; the Word and the soul, which, in a mysterious way, he has filled with the Holy Spirit, (Cant. 1:1) join together to sing to the eternal Father in admirable unison; they will go on, for ever, with their hymns of thanksgiving and praise, for the materials of both are infinite. The hideous sight of the earth’s inhabitants, who will then, by thousands, be paying homage to the harlot, who sits on the Beast, and offers them the golden cup of her abominations, — no, not even that will interfere, in the least, with the bliss caused in heaven by the sight of those happy souls on earth. The convulsions of a world in its last agony, the triumphs of the woman drunk with the blood of the martyrs, (Apoc 17:1-6) — far from breaking in on the harmony which comes from a soul which is united with the Word, they will but give greater fullness to her notes which sound forth the divine, and greater sweetness to the human music of the human song. The Apostle tells all this in his own magnificent way, where he says:

Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? True, it is written : ‘For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’: (Ps 43:22) — but, in all these things, we overcome, because of Him that hath loved us. For, I am sure, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. (Rom 8:35-39)

...Who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns now, and always, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

[i] The Liturgical Year, Vol. 11 (Fitzwilliam, N.H.: Loreto Publications, 2000), pp. 426-431.


  1. Beautiful Jay, thanks so much for posting .
    I will re-read this much to take in .
    The world can do NOTHING to us and we will need to Stand Firm and petition St. Michael daily, as I already do , because he will come to our aid in these evil times.
    Soldiers for Christ ...never really knew what that meant ...or even thought about it . But today I think about it a lot. The Church Militant is what we are . The Holy Catholic which is THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ will be victorious, we have HIS WORD on that. I thank God everyday I am in His Church and a Catholic !

  2. Every night I read from Dom Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year" and I am often (in fact, almost daily) left with the thought: do I belong to the same Church?

    The emphasis in our present Church seems to have dramatically shifted in the opposite direction.

  3. Yes, Lorrain I have had the same thoughts myself .
    The Catholic Church is so different ...but we pray for Holy Mother Church and a return to the Traditional Latin Mass and a return to the complete she is off track and her Bishops better wake up and proclaim and teach the TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH ..Her return to Tradition is a must .


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