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Sermons and Conferences
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Sermons and Conferences
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
MP3 Disc 4 Received from Breslin
These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
.at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to they word.
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.
V.And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
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.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
First of all, my apologies for being absent the last two class days. I assure you I was not loafing. I will try, if it is humanly possible, to make up for at least one of those two classes, depending on, well, our mutual schedule.
In the meantime, I believe, I did assign some reading for you .if Im correct both in the book on Church history and in Veritatis Splendor of the Holy Father.
I have a couple of announcements to make. I went over the papers you turned in, remember, on the I.Q. test on your knowledge of Church history. Some of you did remarkably well. The highest was forty out of forty-five correct. Some, of course, were lower. The one thing that I think it ought to teach you it certainly taught me is that no matter how well we know our Faith, the Churchs teaching on principal, no matter even how faithfully we live the Faith, there really is no substitute for understanding and knowing the history of the Church, because the history of the Church is the biography of the Mystical Body of Christ. And the Church over these, now over nineteen centuries having not just survived, even thrived under persecution, trial, and opposition, a knowledge of Church history enables us to understand more clearly that except for Gods grace, the Church would not only not got off ground, the Church would not have survived, not to say thrived in spite of the same kind of opposition that Christ experienced during his own public ministry in Palestine. A knowledge of Church history, I want to say, is indispensable, is indispensable, to provide credibility for our Faith. In other words, the Churchs endurance, even use the word perdurance over the centuries is one of the signs of her divine origin. In other words, a knowledge of the history of the Church is indispensable, first I repeat, to understand the logic, the factual evidence of the Church being, indeed, divinely instituted. Moreover, a knowledge of the Churchs history enables us to see how the Church has grown, and the Churchs growth is not only in numbers, but the Churchs growth is also in depth, especially in the depth of the Churchs grasp of, not only what Christ revealed originally, but the progress that even penetration into the meaning of our Faith that can only come by a study of the Churchs history.
So then we will return your papers. I had three options in grading the papers: either in just marking how many you got wrong; I thought that would be too humiliating. The other option was how many you people got right. I decided on that. I decided, however, not to give you a grade. And the reason, of course, is because grades from years of teaching, I know, are subjective. You grade not only the object of knowledge that the student has of the matter of studies, but also subjective good will. And the good will, I have no doubt. It should, however, be revealing. I can tell you honestly we have a lot of Church history still to learn.
Then, as I may have told you on a previous occasion, this magazine, Semper Fidelis, I understand, has been withdrawn from circulation. We talked about the editors, a dedicated husband and wife. These copies, however, you are welcome to. It is just a good magazine, published by two lay people whom Ive encouraged. The title, as you know, Semper Fidelis, means always faithful. You are welcome to these copies of Semper Fidelis.
Then, I believe most of you already have copies of the textbook, In Church History. There are some copies here, and were selling these. In any case, copies of the textbook, In Church History, are available. You can pick them up during the break, O.K.?
Then, for todays class. One person, I think I should go back to your quizzes .one person and a special prayer for that person, got three correct out of forty-five. And one person got forty correct. Another, thirty-eight, thirty-two, twenty-nine, and so on.
In any case, these will be returned to you.
I thought we should then continue with the first lecture which is on Veritatis Splendor.
For the new comers, what we are doing in two classes, the first we are taking the Holy Fathers encyclical, The Splendour of Truth, called Veritatis Splendor, which is, I would say, the longest papal document in moral theology ever published by a Vicar of Christ.
Those are the from last class. Ill tell you what, so we dont during class. Lets distribute these right after class. O.K. Is it up to number forty?
In any case, as I mentioned what Im doing is writing a, what will be at least a thin paper back. Theyre calling it The Question and Answer Catechism either on Catholic Morality or simply True Morality. And what Ive been doing is taking section one paragraph to another and then synthesizing the content into a question and answer where the answer will bring out what the Holy Father teaches and the question will spark a mind to think along certain definite lines. Consequently, question forty-one, to make sure you have question forty:
Throughout the first part of the encyclical, the Holy Father concentrates, he concentrates on Christs dialogue with the rich young man. And within that dialogue, the Pope brings out that Christs teaching and this may sound strange Christs teaching in many ways is synthesized his teaching on moral theology is synthesized in what he told that rich young man.
Question 39. Remember there are two loves that Christ is talking about as revealed in the Old Law: the love of God and the love of neighbour. Question 39 was: How did Christ witness to the practice of these two loves?
By every word he spoke, every action he performed, and finally by his death on the cross.
Whats this? Out of love for his Father; thats love number one. In loving us; love number two; by shedding his blood for our redemption.
The last question we covered last class: What then are the two indivisible loves of Christianity? They are the love for God and the love for humanity. Separate the two and you no longer have Christianity.
What is the Pope doing? Thats still question number 40. The Pope is universalizing the second commandment; that our love for either the neighbour as in the Old Testament, or our love for one another as expressed in the New Law, that that neighbour or that other, is not just another, another person who, as we say, happens say to be my relative, kinsmen, neighbour, or friend. No! And given the remarkable development in the, what we might call, the unifying of the human race, I would say that for the first time in the history, of what my knowledge of the Papacy tells me, for the first time in papal history, has a Vicar of Christ spoken of the second love as the love not only, though of course also of our neighbour, of another person, singular, or of other persons, even plural, whose lives we touch and who touch our lives. No! This second commandment refers to our love for the human race! Is this ever important! Because given the globalizing of the whole world, becoming, as were saying, a global village, those who do not believe in Christ, they have, do they ever have a keen understanding to the fact that the world, whatever term we use, is shrinking and that consequently, our love for others which is our Faith, means our love for the whole human race.
In other words, the Pope is telling us: we must begin, if we havent yet, begin to universalize our love of others, because the world, take for example the worldwide, what they popularly and demonically call, well, population control. In other words, the unbelieving world is thinking in global terms. Am I clear? Theyre thinking in big terms. The rise in the New Age Movement, by the way. One reason because those who either never had the Christian faith or had it and lost it, they are thinking in terms of not just a person, a man, or a woman, or a child, but in terms of humanity. And that is the Holy Fathers thinking that we should understand.
Now, forty-one. How is the Sermon on the Mount the magna carta of Christian morality?
Answer: Christs Sermon on the Mount is the fulfillment of the Old Testament; is a compendium of the New Law. It is a synthesis of how the followers of Christ are to keep the commandments of Christ.
What are we being asked? How then is the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament, the magna carta, give it whatever sentence you wish, a synthesis, a fore-gathering of everything that Christ wants his followers to do in the moral order.
Man: Excuse me, Father. Are these questions and answers going to be given to us later?
Please? Yes, yes.
Maybe look .yes, lets distribute them so theres no confusion.
Woman: These questions end where youre beginning today.
I see. OK.
As Im going through the Holy Fathers encyclical, Im not surprised when I understand that he literally spent years in assembling the contents of this document. It is highly compact. It is, by the way, what may seem to be extensive number of words, it is compact.
What then are we saying in the answer to forty-one?
We are saying, that even as the Decalogue on Mount Sinai was a synthesis of morality of the Old Law, so the Beatitudes, and what follows the whole Sermon on the Mount, are a compendium of the New Law.
Forty-two. How does Christ bring to fulfillment the Ten Commandments of God? Notice, throughout the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord keeps contrasting, You have been told so and so, but I say such and such. Youve been told not to kill. I tell you not to get angry. Youve been told not to commit adultery. I tell you a man looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Throughout the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ keeps comparing and contrasting the Old Testament morality with the new. And we in the U.S. in general, people living in Anglo-Saxon countries must at the risk of not preserving intact their Christian morality, they simply must understand how Christ elevated far beyond what the Old Testament prescribed for the Jews of, well, of the first Israel, how Christ elevated it because the laws of our nation in the United States, the practices, the customs, the traditions, now over four centuries of deep, penetrating Protestant morality. And as I keep telling people as I have over the years, including my faculty participation in Protestant seminaries, I would tell my Protestant students, for example, (?) Theological: You know my dear friends that Protestantism is Old Testament Christianity. And of course, they kept notes, they better, to have passed the examination. And I told them, as Im telling you, and this is nowhere more dramatically, and I can add more drastically, more tragically illustrated than in the moral order. Protestantism believes only, and this adverb is a result of years, my life time of study .Protestantism is Old Testament morality. Do you hear me? It isnt just the use of names, for example: Hiram this, and Ezra that, among the Protestants use the Old Testament names. No. The two most demanding commandments of Christ where he elevated the old law beyond the reaches of, well the old law beyond the reaches of the Mosaic code, were especially in his elevating the laws of chastity and charity.
Ive been telling people: There was no chastity, it did not exist in the Old Testament. It did not exist. God had to become man to both elevate the virtue by living it, and elevate the virtue by making demands on his followers. Simply unknown in the Old Law. And the same with charity. And the two go together. In the Old Testament the commandment of chastity in the new is synthesized in the sixth commandment. And the commandment of charity, which again qua charity, did not exist. But God become man: that is synthesized in the fifth commandment. And whatever else you remember from this course on Veritatis Splendor dont forget those two commandments go together as condition and consequence.
A person, a people, a nation, a culture respects human life only in the measure that that person or a people, or that nation, practices chastity.
I dont say you dont practice charity without practicing chastity. You dont even practice elementary justice! The relationship between the sixth and fifth commandments is so close and interdependent that as the one virtue, namely, chastity grows, with it grows charity and vice versa. As charity rose, so rose chastity. The only reason for abortion, I know Im being taped, the only reason for abortion is because so much of the world no longer believes in chastity.
Christ then elevated back to our question Christ then elevated, even as we use the verb elevated, we better know what were talking about and thats why question forty-two: How does Christ bring the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments of God? And we say he does so in especially three ways: First, by interiorising the observance of the Old Testament Decalogue. And the Holy Father keeps hammering away at that same theme, New Testament morality is inside morality. It is the morality that is to be lived in the mind and will. Again, Christ brought to fulfillment the Ten Commandments of God by elevating the Decalogue to a perfection never known before.
There are degrees and degrees in the observance of the commandments of the laws of God. Christ elevated that observance to a height never before, I dont say practiced, not even known, not even conceivable.
And thirdly, how did he elevate or bring to fulfillment the Ten Commandments? By his own observance of the Law of the God-Man who invites people to follow his example. The Pope makes a great deal of God becoming Man to observe his own commandments. And as well see even today, the following of Christ, therefore, means imitating as far as we can with his grace the kind of life that God himself lived when he became man.
Forty-three. How did Christ interiorize the observance of the Ten Commandments? Notice what were doing? Im going back over what the Holy Father identified as the first of the three ways in which Christ elevated or brought to fulfillment the Old Testament Decalogue. How did he interiorize the observance of the Decalogue? He did so by teaching his followers that the external observance of the Decalogue is not enough. We must obey the laws of God also, and mainly in our minds and hearts. In fact, what Christ brought into the world is that you dont even practice virtue unless you practice deep down in your souls the external practice, no matter what the virtue may be: truth, honesty, patience.
Can a person show remarkable patience under duress and not be really patient? Can they? Sure. In other words I can control the manifestations of my anger, because to control my temper may be good business. Or as Ive told Religious over the years, following the teaching of my Father in God, St. Ignatius, a person can practice what we call obedience of execution: Youre told to do something so you do it, and being a good actor or actress, you even smile. I hope Im clear. But the real, deep-down inside is not obedient. Am I still making sense?
So thats the first way and it covers the whole spectrum of Christian morality. Christ interiorized the practice of virtue.
Question forty-four. How did Christ elevate the Ten Commandments to a perfection never known before?
Remember, this is now the second way in which Christ brought to fulfillment the Old Testament Decalogue.
We answer: He did so by commanding his followers to love God and their neighbour more generously than was ever required by the chosen people in the Old Law. Were asking: How did Christ elevate the observance of the Old Testament; a generic statement. He did so by commanding his followers to love God and their neighbour more generously than was ever required of the chosen people in the Old Law.
But let me tell you: You can use words. You can even know the dictionary definition of a word without really understanding that word. So what do we mean when we say that our Lord told his followers to love God and their neighbour more generously than was ever required of the Israelites?
First: Thus God is to be loved, not only with our whole heart, but with our whole mind. Christ added a most important injunction on how we are to love God. We are to love God with our whole mind, and not only with our whole heart. How do we do that? By submitting our minds in love to the incomprehensible mysteries of Christianity. If you really love someone, you submit your mind to the mind of the one you love. Lets be sure we get it. And this is not merely external conformity. To make friends, well, youve got to think like the person whom you want to befriend. Now this is much deeper. Given what God has done, once God came into the world as man he revealed truths never before known to the human race. Like what? Like the Incarnation. Like the divine maternity of Mary. Only a person possessed by the devil would claim that Christian devotion to Mary detracts from respect for women. Except for Christianity there would be no respect for women in the whole world. Do you hear me?
I think weve said on a previous occasion, protected by Roman law, the father of every child under the Roman Empire had the right, soon after their child was born, to see the baby. His first question was: Is it a boy or a girl? And most of the girls were killed; protected by Roman law.
Like what? God became Man to reveal the Real Presence. The Catholic Church in our country will survive only, where and when, and in so far as there are still Catholics who really believe in the Real Presence.
Like what? Like the primacy of the Vicar of Christ on earth. If there was ever a mystery that was challenged over the centuries, I know of none that is being more vocally and even violently challenged today than the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome.
These are the truths of our Faith!
Thats the first way.
Second way in which Christ then brought the Ten Commandments to a perfection never known before: our neighbour. The first way is the way in which God is to be loved. Christ made sure that we are to love God not only with our wills, but with our minds, where the will commands the mind: I want you to submit your thinking to the mind of God, and never ask for an explanation, but, to believe.
Secondly: Our neighbour, Christ told us, is to be loved even as Christ has loved us. Talk about elevation! Any spatial comparison becomes meaningless. We are to love our neighbour as Christ has loved us. This surely means loving one another not only as much as we love ourselves, which is plenty, but as God incarnate has loved us by suffering and dying on the cross to redeem us from our sins.
Ill never tire of repeating until my dying breath: Love is shown in suffering! If I love someone, Im not only willing to endure, I want to, I choose to suffer out of love for the one that I claim to love.
Number forty-five. How did Christ invite his followers to imitate him in his own observance of the Law?
The answer: Christ tells us to learn from him who is gentle and humble of heart. He is gentle because his love is merciful. Thats what gentle love is: it is merciful love. Like him we are to forgive those who offend us. But secondly: Christ is humble because he always submitted his human will to the divine will of his Father. So therefore we are to imitate him if and in so far as like him we are to always bend our wills to the mysterious will of God.
In other words: The following of Christ is the norm for practicing Christian morality. And at root: What in the virtues of Christ what two virtues are we especially to imitate in his life by practicing in ours, and they are gentleness and humility.
Number forty-six. What then is the epitome of Christs moral teaching? What is synthesis, compendium, concentration of Christs moral teaching?
Answer, says the Holy Father: It is the eight Beatitudes.
As Jesus told the rich young man in the Gospel, if we wish to be perfect, we must detach ourselves of all creatures, and then follow him. This detachment and the following of Christ is synthesized in the Beatitudes.
There is only one danger in what I will say from now on for sometime and that is that the Holy Fathers teaching will not be grasped in the fullness of his meaning. I can tell you, as I read this encyclical, I said to myself: Now this, this is a major development in the doctrine of Christian morality.
Over the years, and understandably, we would distinguish between what we have to do which is preceptive and what we are invited to do, for which weve coined the words, evangelical counsels. And the distinction is still valid. However, in one paragraph after another, starting with the one that were talking about now, the Pope brings out that were going to follow Christ under the kind of morality he wants us to live. It is not just some chosen souls. No. Every follower of Christ, hear it, is required to go beyond what is binding under sin.
I think I should repeat, because believe me, this is not a cliché. We speak of development of doctrine. In other words, a more intelligible, a more clear, a more certain grasp of certain revealed truths with the passage of time. And this has been going on, well, for almost two thousand years. However, we dont normally, and I would add unfortunately, we dont normally think of development of doctrine in the area of morality. It is not only, say, that our Ladys Assumption, could not it really could not have been defined before 1950, because the Churchs understanding or grasp of the meaning was not yet clear enough. And the Holy Spirit made sure that the Church understood what the Assumption is before then the Vicar of Christ would define the dogma.
Well, the Church is growing in her grasp of the Faith, not only as pertaining to what we are to believe with our minds, but growing in our understanding of the Faith as pertaining to our moral life how we are to use our wills!
And as you read, and even some of this I write on my knees: Lord, that I may grasp what the Pope is saying. It may surprise you, but one conclusion I would draw .
End of CD (Go to Sermons and Conferences 03/14/94 Veritatis Splendor Side 2, Father John Hardon, S.J. MP3 Disc 4 Received from Breslin)
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