19 March 2018 - District Superior's Letter

Our Lord’s Resurrection came only after His passion and death.  For us also, the peace and joy of Easter depends on our Lenten observance. 

Dear Friends and Benefactors of the Society of St. Pius X,  

Our Lord’s Resurrection came only after His passion and death.  For us also, the peace and joy of Easter depends on our Lenten observance. 

Most practicing Catholics still make efforts to observe the penitential season of Lent.  Inspired by grace, they make resolutions intended to draw them away from earthly attachments and purify their love for God. In these inspirations, the voice of God is easily recognized: it is asking them to prove their love by doing something. Like the father in the parable of the two sons, He bids them go and work in His vineyard.  And like the sons, some do His bidding while others do not. 

This call of God is something that comes to all during this life.  Strange events (in everyone’s life) raise questions in the mind that make one pause and think.  And while many of these can be explained, others cannot.  When someone truly hears God’s voice there is no doubt or possibility of explaining it away, except by self-deception.  Then two things become clear: one knows for certain that there is a God and that He has called him to work and serve Him in some way.  In this the soul has been awakened, as if from sleep, to the reality of God’s presence.  Once he has been awakened and felt the claim of God, he will never be the same again and everything depends upon what he does.  He will either submit to following the will of God or he will resist and turn away.  Either way, he cannot remain as he was before this awakening.  For the one who refuses to follow and turns away, there will be a deterioration and he will find that he falls into such evil as he was never before tempted to commit.   

But most people are not so prompt in obeying or rejecting God’s call when first heard.  The new life they are called to looks very stern, while the claims of the old comfortable life are great.  Thus, they tend to run a middle course: refusing to rise to His demands yet avoiding a deliberate act of rebellion.  The result is usually a life of compromise and torture.  There is neither an enjoyment of the old life nor the obtaining of peace and the reward that surrender to God’s will brings. 

It is an interesting fact of weak human nature that too often the initial response to God’s call is not the final result.  It does not reveal the depth of real character but rather the more superficial side of a natural inclination.  In the parable, we see that to the father’s request to work in the vineyard the first son answered: ‘I will not: but afterward he repented and went’, and the second answered: ‘I go, sir: and went not’.  In each case we see a prompt response but in both sons this was an answer of inclination rather than the final answer of the will.  The call brought out a certain side of their character which was not the strongest but rather a certain inclination in them.  For the first it disclosed a strong inclination to rebel against God’s interference in his life before thinking better of it and submitting.  In the second there is disclosed a weakness of character which, when faced with difficulties and despite the good inclinations and superficial desires, was not strong enough to correspond with God’s will in the end.  In both cases the real test of character was not shown in the initial natural inclination but in the final result. 

Down through history there are examples of men who have had strong demands put upon them and whose first response has been that of inclination and not of will.  On the one hand, there are men of good intentions who in the end were ruled rather by evil inclinations, desires or feelings (e.g Pontius Pilot or Judas Iscariot).  ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’.  On the other hand, some of the holiest men have had the worst tendencies and passions to struggle with, but once these have been subdued, their wills have responded to the true and they chose in the end to stick to what is good (e.g. Sts. Peter and Paul). 

At various times we have all heard the call to do something good in the service of Christ and we have also, no doubt, had to deal with the struggle between our inclinations and wills.  But we must remember that it does not matter that we do not want to do or do not like the work.  We cannot help this; rather the question is whether we do it despite the opposing inclinations.  Christ shrank from drinking the cup of His agony, asking that if it were possible it might pass from Him.  But never, despite the shrinking of nature, did His human will turn away or swerve from the Will of His Father.  The value of a good act of obedience is not lessened by any amount of opposition within the soul, nor is the evil of an act of disobedience diminished by the best of intentions.  Despite the fierceness of evil inclinations, the will may triumph by persevering in following God’s will, or it may, despite a show of eagerness and delight in what is good, fail by stubbornly refusing to do His will. 

For most, the Lenten resolutions may be something of no real consequence: giving up some food, drink or lawful pleasure.  But all of these have a significant role in training our wills, in the struggle against our inclinations, to do it for love of God.  And this, with God’s grace, will help us to persevere in His loving service when something truly heroic is requested of us. 

As we enter Holy Week, may our Lord grant you, through His Blessed Mother Mary, the graces to persevere in His loving service, so that you may truly rejoice in His Resurrection. 

Sincerely in the Risen Christ,

Fr. John Fullerton

District Superior