Today is the Feast of that most beautiful soul in God’s garden, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. As she is a patroness of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, her feast was also celebrated as an external solemnity on Sunday. Canon Aaron Huberfeld of the Institute’s Wausau apostolate was kind enough to give permission to publish his excellent sermon for the feast.
Sermon for the External Solemnity of St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Francis de Sales Oratory, St. Louis
September 30, 2018
The feast of glorious Michael the Archangel inaugurates the novena to the feast of Our Lady of Victory, known in our time as the feast of the Most Holy Rosary. During these nine days we are greeted three times with the same Gospel. The Gospel the deacon sings for the Prince of the Heavenly Host begins with precisely the same words we hear a few days later for the Guardian Angels, and for little St. Therese: unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3). As we make our way to the roses, to “Mary’s garden of delight”, as Therese would say, the only path presented to us is that Little Way of childlike humility.
Yet this is the way which so many of us are tempted to abandon at this moment. For this way entails a childlike trust that our Father will be there to catch us when we fall. Today, it is rather the lamentation of the prophet that comes to mind:
How hath the Lord covered with obscurity the daughter of Sion in his wrath! How hath he cast down from heaven to the earth the glorious one of Israel, and hath not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger! The Lord hath cast down headlong, and hath not spared, all that was beautiful in Jacob: he hath destroyed in his wrath the strongholds of the virgin of Juda, and brought them down to the ground: he hath made the kingdom unclean, and the princes thereof. (Lam. 2:1-2)
We know our faith. We profess that the Church is and always will be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Her divine constitution is indefectible. But how much more of this can we take? In the spirit of a child we ask, Lord, how long? We cry out with the psalmist: Arise, Lord, and judge thy cause! (Ps. 73:22)
We cannot fathom the Lord’s ways. But, if we are angry and discouraged by the state of the Church today, we can well begin to imagine how glorious will be her resurgence tomorrow. The Bride of Christ, now laid so low, will rise again, and the shame she endures today will serve only to make her shine more resplendently in the day of her deliverance. The Lion of Judah is on the move. The Church Militant will come roaring back. A purified hierarchy, united under their visible head, the Vicar of Christ on earth, will reaffirm to the ends of the earth the truths that have been always, everywhere, and by everyone:
That there is one true God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and we live in a world created by him;
That the Divine Son became Man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead;
That this same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ founded one Church of the faithful, outside of which there is no salvation;
That hell truly does exist, and we might go there, for eternal separation from God is a radical possibility of human freedom;
That true love for our fellow men supposes delivering them from the deceits of the devil, so that they may realize the perdition into which they are rushing headlong, and embrace the joy of the Gospel;
That this joy can never be ours if we set our hearts on false loves, for neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
Yes, the Church Militant will come roaring back! The Mass of All Ages will once again be celebrated everywhere, and priests everywhere will have their joy in wearing the cassock and being a sign of contradiction to an unbelieving world.
In these days I never tire of saying to all young men thinking about the priesthood: do not be discouraged. The real men are still here, and we’re waiting for you. Join the true army of Christ the King. For our King is, at this very moment, sounding the call to victory.
May Our Lady of Victory, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, St. Michael and all the Angelic Host, and St. Therese, Patroness of the Missions, intercede for us, and obtain for us the deliverance which we know our loving Father has prepared. Amen.