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Sermons and Conferences


Spiritual Exercises S2

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 2 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

  1. Appearance to Peter and the Disciples of Emmaus: The Institution of the Sacrament of Confession
  2. Questions and Answers

At the same time they’re having religious communities of women - for two hundred years - as again the Holy Father told a bishop friend of mine, and the bishop told me, the Pope wept. Paul VI again, he wept.

What has happened to the Sisters in the United States? What’s happened to them? In Detroit, one community - I’m sure I’ve told you this before - who, then Cardinal Dearden, like in the mid-spring, very nice letter, font letterhead, I know the community: “The enclosed list will give you the thirty-one parish schools which we are leaving this Fall.”

Got nobody’s permission! Nobody! As one of them wrote - great, big, full-page article in the newspaper: “We’re sick and tired of being nurse-maids to other people’s children.” The wonder is it took so long for the forty parishes to be closed in Detroit!

So I want to emphasize, in other words, the Holy Spirit is teaching us something in our day. In other words, the power in the best sense of the word of women to head: we men need the inspiration of women - brought up by my own mother and women boarders until I was sixteen.

Appearance to Peter and the Disciples of Emmaus:
The Institution of the Sacrament of Confession

Finally, the twenty-sixth day. Appearance to Peter and the disciples of Emmaus:

Institution of the Sacrament of Confession

Notice, Christ did appear to Peter, but later on, as you know, our Lord appeared to, well, came to all the disciples, including Peter, which we’ll take up in a later meditation. Then, selectively, Christ chose to appear to Peter. And Peter needed that kind of encouragement. He was not discarded by Christ because he had denied the Master.

Then the disciples at Emmaus. Remember, Easter Sunday, two disciples walking along the road? Christ comes up behind them: What are you talking about? As though He didn’t know. And they tell him: Jesus of Nazareth, have you heard about him? Here we thought he was the Messiah, but our own leaders killed him. And now some women said he rose from the dead. Who remembers what Christ told them? “Oh you of little faith. Was it not necessary…”, that’s the word, “for the Messiah to first suffer and then rise from the dead?”

And then Luke, who tells the narrative. Remember this. Then St. Luke says, the evangelist describing our Lord, remember, shall he allow himself to be persuaded to, well, sit down with the disciples - two of them. And then, Luke’s favourite phrase for the Eucharist: “the breaking of bread”. In other words, because you know our Lord celebrated the Mass - hear it - on Holy Thursday night and Easter Sunday morning. How’s that? And they recognized him. Then he vanished. And they rushed back to the others to tell them what they had seen.

And finally and very importantly, the institution of the Sacrament of Confession.

Twenty-first chapter of John’s Gospel. Pardon me, twentieth chapter of John. There are certain passages in Scripture that the Church has officially defined after their meeting. This is one of them. In other words, the Council of Trent defined that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession on Easter Sunday night when he appeared to the Apostles and told them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them. Whose sins you retain or do not forgive they are not forgiven them.”

And the Church’s logic, first of all, confession of sins goes to the first century.

There’s one resolution I’d urge all of you to make is frequent confession. How frequent? At the very least, once a month. Better twice a month.

And you know the Church’s law on indulgences tells us: To gain a plenary indulgence which you can gain every day we must have received Communion and gone to Confession within eight days either before or after whatever the indulgence prayer or act of piety was.

And the problem there is, you know, is to find a priest. Scout around. Now I’m telling you this and it’s being recorded. If I’m around and you want to go to Confession - even not around. Course I should be in Detroit - don’t ask me to travel to another city. I wish I could give absolution over the telephone. Can’t be done. Find priests who are willing to hear your confession. Enough as so many people have told me, go by the priest: “When did you say the last time you went to Confession was?”

“Two weeks ago.”

“Are you serious?”, the priest asked. “Come around when you’ve got something to confess.”

I think I’ve told you, haven’t I? I’ve gone to Confession to priests that I hadn’t known. Go to Confession. Tell my sins. Then I wait for absolution. He does not know the formula. I think I told you this, didn’t I? More than once I tell the priest, “Repeat after me.” Now this is serious because this is - I can talk this way to you people, but you’re in the world as much as I am. You know what’s going on. Believe me I sure do!

And closing comment. The Sacrament of Penance one name. The Sacrament of Confession another name. But the Sacrament of Peace! Peace! Remember, I think on some occasion we did define what peace of heart means. Peace of heart means that my will is conformed to the Divine Will. Then I’ve got peace of heart.

If there’s anything that torments the human heart it is the sense of guilt. This is where the sacrament is such a precious, precious gift. Infallibly sure we are that what we may have done once we get absolution, we’ve got to believe, but the priest was a sinner, being a priest myself, believe me, priests are sinners, never-the-less have the power to forgive sins. And the peace that results is simply indescribable!

Of all people, the unbeliever Sigmund Freud, I may have mentioned this on some occasion, some twenty-five years of psychiatric practice, he said, he does not remember a single person whom he ever treated or counseled whose basic cause of emotional disturbance was not a sense of guilt. That’s Freud! Now he did not even believe in a personal God! But we believe in God, believe that God became man and instituted the sacrament. That’s why twice Christ told the Apostles, “Peace be with you!” He repeated, “Peace be with you.”

Over the years I’ve told people - somebody separated from God: “When can I see him?”

“He doesn’t want to go to Confession. He has nothing to do with it.”

“Where is he?”

Well in the twenty-sixth day which I think carries us to Monday, right? And now whom am I seeing this evening? One, two, three - Lana have I? Would you people mind because I’ve got the call from Washington again at 9:00. But then, look that’s why I’m here, you know, to be of service. So if it takes a little longer, so what. O.K.?

Shall we pray?

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

O Mary, conceived without sin.

Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now I noticed several of you put up your hands about, you know, talking things over. I really mean it. I’ve had my Office almost finished, so 11:00, 11:30…I’m here. O.K.?

Question and Answer

We’re not absolutely sure. In other words, six hundred and thirteen of the laws which the Jews had, were they divinely inspired? Not necessarily. No less than, we have to say, that polygamy, remember polygamy among the Jews was it practiced? Yes. Was it part of the Mosaic Law. Yes. Was Moses acting under divine inspiration when he allowed polygamy? We’re not sure.

What are the needs and/or opportunities to do catechesis in co-operation with the Missionaries of Charity in Russia and Poland?

Well, that’s why I went to Russia. It’s wide open. In other words as the Holy Father told Mother Theresa eight years ago, that he wants her Sisters to become catechists themselves and to train other catechists. That’s what I’ve been doing for eight years. That’s why we have Ignatian- Marian Catechists. Because the Holy Father realizes there’s no way, no way the Faith can be either preserved or promoted without involving the laity in depth.
So yes.
Now what I’m doing, for example, is teaching the Missionaries of Charity and if I weren’t here, I’d be downstairs working on the explanations, the manuscript. About six hundred pages finished, about at least three hundred pages still to go and the pages should be finished by early March. Three hundred pages written by yours truly. Because the Missionaries of Charity need the explanations.
Now there’s two thousand questions. Whether they have a true or false or multiple choice, somebody has to understand what’s behind the answer.
So, yes. And what the Missionaries of Charity are doing is, well, training catechists. And they’ve got over forty-thousand under instruction in Calcutta alone. So in other words, the Holy Father, he wants the Catholic Church’s future to depend, and certainly numerically, mainly on lay catechists.
I’ve never put it so bluntly.
And the Missionaries of Charity, well, are… this is just one evidence of the Holy Father’s concern, ordered the Foundress to change her constitutions. So they’re still caring for the materially poor people, but the constitutions now read, I may have told you: “the free and whole-hearted service of the spiritually and physically poorest of the poor.” And first the spiritually poorest of the poor.
So, that’s where the Missionaries of Charity are in one hundred and four countries.
So just let me know if you’re willing and the sky is the limit!

Does it seem that most missionary priests today are hooking their catechists into liberation theology?

I’m not sure… the question first had “many” missionary priests, and now it’s “most”. I would say certainly quite a few. On the other hand the Church has been very hard hit in mission countries. And that’s because of the, well the Church has been hit, and the theory like the anonymous Christians of Karl Rahner. Meaning that you need Hindus to be good Hindus. Moslems to be good Moslems. Buddhists to be good Buddhists. You don’t try to, quote, “convert” them to Christianity. That’s Karl Rahner. And that has penetrated seminaries all over the world. And he’s done a lot of damage to missionary zeal. So all the more reason - it’s not just the laity, because, look the laity can be taken in as priests can.

Any signs the Jesuits may move into Russia to catechize?

Well I have visited my Jesuits in Moscow. He’s already on the faculty of the University of Moscow. But as I told my Father General, my man in Rome, that I didn’t put it quite in these words, but teaching in a Moscow university is great. But to catechize the masses is greatly needed in Russia. But of course, of course whether they’re teaching at the University of Moscow or catechizing, it better be the true Faith!

For anybody who knows Father Jerome Palmer, O.S.B., he passed away this morning.

Let’s say a Hail Mary for the repose of his soul.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And may Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Some of my Protestant friends are arguing that the Catholic Church is not at all the same as it was in the beginning. How do we know that it is?

Well you can certainly say that not all Catholics who call themselves Catholics are the same today as they not only in the beginning, but as they were, even, twenty-five years ago. So that’s one thing. But as far as the Catholic Church goes, of course, it’s the same. What’s the proof? There’s nothing which the Catholic Church teaches—nothing, zero—now which contradicts which she has been teaching for nineteen hundred years.
By the end of the sixteenth century, talk about Protestants raising the objection. As they say in Rome, “Mama mia!” By the year 1600, there were more Protestant churches, all kinds of them; there were two-hundred interpretations of Christ’s words, “This is by body. This is my blood.” And I would say the single, clearest proof of the Catholic Church being the same today as she was in the beginning of the first century is that the Catholic Church today teaches that abortion is murder and homosexuality is a grave sin against chastity.

In your opinion is there much hope for a full scale revival in Western civilization such as occurred in the thirteenth century and the sixteenth century Counter Reformation, or are we headed inevitably for a new Dark Age of barbarism? Are there any signs in our times similar to the eras which preceeded past revivals?

Yes, and one sign is our meeting here. You people, I mean it, for me, I don’t mean just you physically here in chapel, but the laity….this is unknown, I think, in the history of the Church. And, thank God, the educated laity who have kept the Faith and are concerned and strongly, I might almost say, ambitious to learn their faith, to deepen their faith.
When I taught in a graduate school in Arlington, Virginia (Notre Dame Institute) all total I taught there for thirteen years. Over these years, most of my students, and I’ve have up to sixty, seventy in a class, graduate class, with rare exception most of my students in these thirteen years were lay people. Many in high positions in the government. And the real need is to mobilize, organize, and this is what we’re trying to do here.
Thanks for the question because what I hope it brings out, it’s really clear in my mind, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, that there are people, and of course, I pray that you are among them - lay people who are so aware of the revolution going on in western civilization.
There is no other way, no other way of saving western civilization except by re-Christianizing it. Or better still, re-Catholicizing it. And that we cannot depend on the clergy to do it. And not only because of their numbers, because in so many ways they have been hit by the revolution.
So, oh yes, I am heartened.

This question comes from an evangelical friend. She wants to know if the Jesuits are trained in military tactics or have any kind of military training?

I’m going to save this question. (Laughter) The answer is yes! But see, there are two kinds of warfare, the lower kind of warfare: you know the kind of wars that people commonly associate with the military. And the real warfare. This is what the Church on earth is! And I’m not being symbolic, my friends, I’m not being symbolic.
Am I clear? We sure? In fact, whether we realize it or not, these meetings are part of the military tactics!
You’ve got to know the enemy. And you’ve got to train your own personnel. And then you let them loose.
They’ve got to be organized. Got to be able to take orders. And the orders, well from the, not just the General of the Jesuits, but the General of the Church Militant.

I’ve noticed that many Catholic publishers are advertising themselves as co-publishers of the new Catholic Catechism which will be out in March. Will these be accurate translations? Example: Daughters of Saint Paul, The Wanderer, Alba House and so on.

Well, we had a meeting with the publisher of Vatican Press, and I’m not sure how many were there at the meeting, but I met with the editor and he invited me also. Which you’ve got there, see we are agents for Vatican Press, Intermirifica. I use the word agents deliberately. And also for the Council for the Family.
So, and now, the question about whether they’ll be accurate translations? Well as I’ve said before, pray! Pray for the English translation. But there will be only one English version for the whole English-speaking world. Barring such changes as the spelling of Saviour, you know, “-our”, “favour” and so on. But, keep praying!

Thank you. I’ll pray.

Well, it’s 8:30, but it is worth it don’t you think, even though we didn’t get into the heart of the course, proper. Now I am home next Wednesday and now just to make sure we’ve got our signals straight. Remember, these Wednesday night meetings, call them conferences in chapel, are meant for Ignatian and, for some of you Marian Catechists. I want to be clear about that. These are not classes in religion or theology. And consequently, they have to be, I guess --- pray for me that they have been so far --- that participating in these classes is meant for those who want to be, by God’s grace, whatever your limitations of time and energy are to work for the Church as Marian or Ignatian Catechists. Am I clear?

Now the two, among others, the two conditions for becoming either Ignatian or Marian Catechists are to go through the Course and secondly to have made a 30 - day Spiritual Exercises. And so that, now if you don’t have the course material, what I gave you therefore was to order the Course material. Understand?

Let me tell you. There are by now, there have been, I mean it, thousands, thousands of hours of dedicated labour given by people to make for the Ignatian –Marian Catechists possible. And not one cent of pay! Am I clear? Because the one behind this is the Vicar of Christ. So that, in other words, in fact it’s embarrassing to put that - to call it tuition. The tuition here now at U of D now as an undergraduate is close to $300.00 for a credit hour. One semester! So in other words, and I have to be even more blunt, the people that the Church needs is people who love Christ so much they’d give anything, I mean anything, to extend His message to the world. They’re the kind of people that we want, and they’re the kind that we need. So that those are not just as I say, advertising slips.

Am I still making sense? O.K.?

Shall we close with a prayer?

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Regina sine labe originali concepta

Ora pro nobis.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen


Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and … 1858…remember? Less than twenty years before the definition of Papal Infallibility.

Next Wednesday.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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