Sermon by Fr. Régis de Cacqueray, District Superior of France, during the pilgrimage of Christ the King at Lourdes (October 24, 2004)
My dear colleagues,
My very dear brethren,
I firstly I invite you all to be in a spirit of immense gratitude on the occasion of this magnificent traditional pilgrimage, organized this year to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Today, on the occasion of this pilgrimage, we want first of all to express our gratitude to Our Lady for all the graces we have received from her hands, we who are her children, and for this particular grace of being here today, at Lourdes, for this feast in her honor.
The time in which we are living, we must be aware, is a privileged time to gather around our Heavenly Mother and to express our filial love for her. Today may she find on earth, at Lourdes, thousands of hearts truly grateful for the many benefits they have received from her love, hearts that pound and sing in her honor.
That is why I would also like to express my thanks to Bishop Perrier as well as to the rector of the Sanctuary for their welcome, always generous, year after year, and to all the authorities and all the services of the Sanctuary who receive us with so much devotion. I would also like to thank our priests of this region, as well as the Community of Le Rafflay who made this pilgrimage possible.
My very dear brethren, allow me to express my particular joy this year to see so many pilgrims. I think that this Traditional pilgrimage is truly blessed and year after year the number of pilgrims increases. I believe that we have never been so many as we are this year, the anniversary of Our Lady, of the Immaculate Conception. And we are especially fortunate to have with us, like a crown around this altar, our sick people who are present, who our faith knows well to be our treasure through their inner capacity to offer so much suffering to the Good Lord for the sake of Tradition; our treasure, our lightning rods, those who, through total acceptance of the Cross they bear in their bodies and in their hearts, are our intercessors with God. They are our nobility, my dear brethren, whom we love to be able to serve. And it is certainly encouraging for Tradition to see, that we understand more and more that we really should bring our sick to Lourdes, because at Lourdes, Our Lady cures us sometimes our bodies, and always our souls.
Your numerous presence this year, my dear brethren, is due to our unanimous will to celebrate the great feast of the Immaculate Conception. But I believe also that your presence is a sign of the confidence you have in Our Lady in these troubled times which we are living through. Your presence is an encouragement for everyone, it is a sign of this rise, natural and supernatural, of Tradition, the visible sign of the protection of Our Lady.
If you will allow me, I will now talk to you about these different aspects.
First of all, we are present here to celebrate the Anniversary of the Immaculate Conception. And each one of us must have this desire in our souls in coming to Lourdes. We wish, in fact, because the Good Lord likes anniversaries (since anniversaries allow us to remember all the goodness that the Good Lord has given us), we wish,this year at Lourdes, to share in the hommage of the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Today, during this year and especially on December 8, the Angels and Saints of Heaven and the souls which are being purified in purgatory, are inclined in a special way towards Our Lady, in order to express their filial love to her and to sing all her splendor. But we ourselves, like good children, who do not forget to wish her happy birthday, we are gathered first of all in front of the Grotto at Lourdes during this pilgrimage for the same reason. We did not want to let this important anniversary of Our Mother and the celebration of this dogma pass without expressing to the Blessed Virgin our profound joy of knowing that she is so beautiful, so pure and so good. As Saint Bernadette said: If only you knew how good she is, the Virgin Mary.
The particular beauty of Our Lady, thanks to her preservation by God from all sin, even original sin, is a truth which illuminates the souls of those who have the grace to know it, whereas those who do not know it, the poor for whom we must pray, those who do not know this truth, have, on the contrary, their soul plunged into a cold pessimism. We Catholics, by this dogma of the Immaculate Conception, we believe in Gods might, but it is not that which distinguishes us from those who are not Catholics, because they too can believe in Gods might. But we, we believe in a particular power of God, which is unique to God, and which is called the mercy of God. And the Immaculate Conception, without doubt, shows us the power of God, but it also shows us how much more the Good Lord is merciful, how he leans over his creatures in order to do them ceaseless good. We believe in his merciful love through the gifts he showers on us, but which he first of all showered on the Virgin Mary. And we are amazed at his delicacy which desired to give to all men a perfect Mother, who is the honor of our race and our greatest treasure. Yes, we are happy and proud to be Catholics, and we rejoice in contemplating this Mother without blemish whom God has given to us.
Our hearts thrill with joy, most especially at the moment of the Immaculate Conception, which was the first moment of Our Ladys existence on earth, which was the dawn of the Redemption rising on the world. At this instant, when Mary came into existence in the womb of Saint Anne, the redemptive action of Christ was no longer something merely announced by the prophets of the Old Testament, but it was demonstrated by a preceding triumph, the most resounding possible: Mary, our Mother, was not conceived a slave, a slave of Satan, of sin, she was conceived already free, free of all sin, a true daughter of God, radiant with the life of God Himself, securing our own liberation from sin. She is, through the triumph of this preservation from all sin, which is this dogma of the Immaculate Conception, she is for us all henceforth the incarnation of this mercy of God which we poor sinners ask for ourselves. What great hope for all of us! What hope to have Mary, to have a Mother who was immaculate from the moment of her conception.
Our hope is our confidence in Our Lady. We place all our hopes in Mary and because of this, we are filled with a glorious confidence. The little child lives many years of its existence enjoying, without knowing too much about it, the benefits of the innumerable cares and sollicitudes of his mother. Moreover, he never realises exactly what she has procured for him. And we men, we find ourselves in the same situation with Mary. Her motherhood has never been half-hearted. She knows all her children, every one by name. She is constantly attentive to their needs, at their side, in order to give them everything that is best for them. Like young children, we are so little aware of these gifts. And yet, my dear brethren, look at the crowd of pilgrims which surrounds us today in this basilica. Mary is the Mother of each and every one of you. Mary knows you personally by your name, and in every instant of your existence. And you all share this conviction so much that none of you is afraid to call Mary your Mother, and to turn to her as a child turns to its mother, absolutely certain that she will listen. And the millions of men who have succeeded one another on earth, if they had known it, they could have said the same thing; all Catholics are always turned towards Mary as to their mother. Therefore, let us make the most of being at Lourdes, by turning to Mary to talk to her, as children talk to their mother, and with the same certainty of faith in our hearts. Yes, certain that everything they ask of their Mother and God knows that our bag of intentions is brimming over! that all that they ask of their Mother, they will receive. Let us make the most of Lourdes to obtain a little of this spiritual and supernatural lucidity, for which we have a real need. Let us ask it of Our Lady, who wants so much to grant it to us, and this lucidity will engender in our hearts so much gratitude toward Mary, from whom we have received everything.
As for me, my very dear brethren, if you will allow it, in the name of you all, on the occasion of this Pilgrimage of Tradition, I would like to thank Our Lady, to thank her for having brought us here again, this year. And I would like to thank her for what we call Tradition, for this gathering, which I am convinced will be the occasion of the many graces which will come to strengthen souls, and thus strengthen Tradition, will turn them more towards the Good Lord, will inspire them with a new vitality in the wonderful mission which has been granted to us Traditional Catholics at this time. I wish to thank Her for all Tradition and I am happy to say that the crowds, which are pressing here all around us this year in ever greater numbers, and growing year by year, illustrate in fact the vital work which they accomplish, from which many souls benefit. My very dear brethren, I want to share with you the joy of knowing that the start of this academic year 2004, the Societys District of France has never, since the beginning of its existence, provided so many children with education in its schools. What a great sign of hope for us, to know that our colleagues work in this field, in all the schools, is work which will allow many children to live in a way which will fortify them from the outset, in these places of grace, in these privileged environments which are our Traditional Catholic schools, and that in these veritable breeding grounds, beautiful vocations from the Good Lord will be allowed to blossom, and that fathers and mothers of families will be formed, who are the hope of Tradition.
And another sign of the blessings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, very evident in Tradition, also this academic year (these are things that have not necessarily been said, but they are actual facts), is that the most significant number of vocations has been registered in many of our communities. And I believe that with such numbers of vocations in our communities, we probably have this year a record number of vocations in France. My very dear brethren, is this not the best blessing that the Good Lord could give to us through the hands of his Mother? Many communities this year register a record number of vocations in all the religious houses in France. What thanks we may offer to the Good Lord for so many, many signs of hope!
And we also see a profound willingness, on the part of so many families, on the part of so many parents to accept, and God knows that this demands sacrifices today, to accept living a truly Catholic life, without worrying about what people will say, about what others will think of their way of educating their children. They accept it with joy, cutting themselves off from the spirit of worldliness, in order to live a completely Catholic life where the generous acceptance of abnegation and sacrifice will finally bring them the deepest joy. Ask our sick brothers and sisters, who are here today, and often, listening to them, you will receive such lessons of faith, of hope and of charity. Because when we understand that the Cross is the true source of joy on earth, how the face of reality changes.
My very dear brethren, this year we must also thank, in a special way, all these fellow religious communities, who have traveled here in such great numbers in order to be with us here, to tell the Society of Saint Pus X how much they share the same combat as us. In order to tell the Society how much they are there to support us in the work we have to accomplish. Confidence, my dear brethren! Many signs of Gods goodness have been given us. Confidence! Because at Lourdes today, how many graces will be given to all those present, allowing Tradition to continue its beautiful work, to continue to grow and allow the flame of Jesus Christ, the Love of Jesus Christ to shine upon the earth. My dear brethren, in spite of storms and tribulations which we must not be too surprized to see hurling torrents of water within the boat, Tradition continues its course. The Society, surrounded by its crown of invalids, but also by its crown of friendly religious communities, continues its work on this earth, this work which the Good Lord has obviously entrusted to it, in the midst of this crisis. A mission, a mysterious vocation, but so necessary today.
Yes it is possible, while celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to make a little digression on our Society of Saint Pius X. All of us here, everyone in his proper place, we are all deeply attached to it, to this Society. We understand well, its determining role, for the perpetuation of the priesthood and of Tradition in the crisis within the Church. As I have told you, independently of these inevitable mud spatterings which inflict us, even within our own boat, how can we fail to give thanks to the Good Lord for the distance we have already covered? And we perceive that as the spiritual desertification intensifies and the compromises of a pseudo-return to Tradition show their weakness, our Society appears, modestly but really, like a light, a point of reference, which one observes, perhaps in order to not let oneself be carried away without realizing it. It is a lighthouse in the storm and the light of this lighthouse appears more and more like the hope on a raging ocean. It is not the Church, obviously, but it has received the responsibility during the crisis of continuing the work of Tradition. It is doing this through men who cannot be followed for what they are, men, but because of their fidelity in transmitting the faith according to the mission which was carried out by its founder. And that is your motive, our shared motive of fidelity to the Society, which must not be easily disturbed by the chaos and the jolts on the road. Yes, this Tradition, this Society, how we will have this close to our hearts this afternoon when we renew its consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, who protects us so well, and whose blessings which I spoke of earlier, she showers on this Tradition.
So, my very dear brethren, let us not be distressed by difficulties. Must we constantly swim against the tide? Yes! Must we consent to an existence which is less easy? No doubt! But is not all that more than worthwhile? To go to Heaven, to find our Mother Mary, and to give to our children on this earth, the grace and the constant smile of a Mother in Heaven, a Mother who is always with us, ever present in the joys and the pains of life! Christian parents, do you know the treasure you pass on to your children, when from a tender age, you accustom them to pray to Mary, to live with Mary, to always have before them, before their faces, the constant smile of this Mother so capable of transforming hearts?
Let me show you the result of this smile of Mary, the result of what could well be called Marian education. We see the example of it in little Bernadette, after the apparitions. One day she had a visit from a libertine who questioned her in these terms: Is it you who sees the Blessed Virgin? Youre making it up. Tell me what you saw. And calmly, she started to speak to him: Its useless, since you dont believe! But the man persisted: At least show me how she smiled. I am a sinner and perhaps this smile will convert me. Then, little Bernadette, evidently inspired by God, gave this astonishing reply: This smile, she explained to him is only seen in Heaven, I could not show it to you. However, since you are a sinner, I will try. I will try to show you this smile of the Immaculate, this smile which is seen only in heaven, I will try to reproduce it for you, for the sole reason that you are a sinner, so that you might understand how she looks upon sinners. Then Bernadette smiled, lifting her eyes to heaven, and her smile so impressed this man that his soul was filled and he was impelled to go to the Grotto, he prayed and was converted
Christian parents, give to your children the joy of Marys smile, of this face before the faces of your children, this smile which will pierce their souls and their hearts, which will communicate to them a smile which comes from heaven, and which, in its turn like a fire of love that the Good Lord wanted to give to the world in order that it might increase can come and rekindle many souls. Because it is that, my dear brethren, which is the mission of Tradition. We want to win back souls to Jesus Christ. And for that, we go through Mary, who listens to us, and through her we have the certainty of being heard by God! We ask for this merciful smile for each one of us, this true Catholic mercy, the mercy of God for souls which comes through Mary; mercy which draws us back to the depths of our souls, as when we went to the Grotto and came away completely changed; mercy which profoundly converts us, mercy which recreates, which remakes souls and gives them this fervour to set out on a missionary conquest around them. My very dear brethren, insofar as Tradition is deeply interior, penetrated by this supernatural life which unites it to God, roused by this contact with Mary because it will have received Marys smile, our Tradition will be profoundly apostolic and missionary. We have hope and this hope is infallible, because its name is Mary.
Our hope has increased greatly today on this pilgrimage, in this Marian renewal of hearts, and it allows this spiritual unfolding which must be fulfiled in our souls. We desire the conversion of all souls to Jesus Christ, we want a return to Tradition. And for this, we know that our souls must be souls which are profoundly Marian, filled with Our Lord Jesus Christ, through Mary. So, how can we be effective, filled with Him, overflowing with Him? How can we communicate Him to others? My very dear brethren, when all is said and done, we need only one thing, we need Traditional souls to be wholly given to Mary, and then how the fire of Jesus Christ, the love of Jesus Christ will set this earth aflame!
Inter omnes mitis
Nos culpis solutos
Mites fac et castos
Unique Virgin, gentle above all others, having purified us, free us from our sins, teach us through this very pardon, divine sweetness and purity. Amen