The following is a beautiful sermon of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre on Charity, given on Pentecost Sunday, 1975:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear friends, my dear brethren: It seems to me that a day such as this could not be better chosen for the conferral of ordinations. If all the Sacraments give the Holy Ghost, it is indeed true and accurate to say that the Sacrament of Ordination confers the Holy Ghost in a very special way upon those who, in the future, will be called upon to pour Him forth, to give Him to souls in the Sacraments which it will be their duty to bestow on the souls confided to their care. Therefore we rejoice today to be able to give the Sacrament of Ordination to the diaconate to one of our seminarians, as well as Ordination to the minor orders: to the two first minor orders, and the second two minor orders.
And we shall take advantage of these few moments to speak to you of what the Feast of Pentecost suggests to us. Let us attempt to imagine to ourselves what the day of the Ascension may have been like, and the moment when Our Lord ascended into heaven. The Apostles, seeing Our Lord ascend towards heaven and disappear in the clouds, kept their eyes fixed on heaven. . . and we can easily understand them. These men who had lived with Our Lord must certainly have had this sentiment – I should say, this instinct, if one may say so, to know and to understand that they had had in their presence heaven itself. For what is heaven if not Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Word of God? They did indeed, then, have heaven in their very hands, after a fashion: they could taste it! And this presence of Our Lord beside them must have enchanted them, and given them an unalterable peace and serenity, an absolute confidence.
But now Our Lord escapes from their view and disappears. And that is why their eyes remained fixed on the heavens. Angels came to say to them, “What are you doing here? Why are you waiting? One day Jesus will return even as He has ascended.” So the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle to await the coming of the Holy Ghost. For that is what Our Lord wished to give them. Heaven had disappeared from their eyes and almost from their hearts. Now it is indeed heaven that Our Lord wished to give them, and to give them through the Holy Ghost: for He is nothing other than that. The Holy Ghost in our hearts, this is heaven in our hearts… paradise begun in our souls! If we understood well who the Holy Ghost is and the grace which God gives us through the Holy Ghost from the day of our Baptism, and in all the Sacraments we receive, and especially in Holy Communion, we should understand that it is heaven that we receive.
The Apostles were filled with the Spirit of Jesus at the moment of Pentecost, and thus heaven took possession of their souls, and of their hearts, and never again did they separate themselves from this Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. They then understood all that Jesus had told them. They understood what heaven was in relation to earth, what the spirit was in relation to the flesh, what these ineffable goods, these eternal goods were next to temporal things. They understood – until then, they had not understood.
And what was the influence of the Holy Ghost in their souls? Saint Paul describes it for us twice – once when he enumerates the different fruits of the Holy Ghost in souls. I will not list them all for you, but he speaks of patience, kindness, meekness, peace: fruits of the Holy Ghost in our hearts. And he repeats it when he speaks of the benefits of charity, the qualities of charity: Caritas benigna est, caritas patiens est; caritas omnia suffert, omnia credit, omnia sperat. Charity is patient, charity suffers, charity believes, charity hopes, charity loves. . .charity remains forever. This is what Saint Paul enumerates and what he describes of charity and the fruits of the Holy Ghost. And that is what the Holy Ghost is; it is in that that we recognize whether we have the Holy Ghost in us – if we are humble, meek, charitable, peace-loving: these are the fruits that Our Lord gives to those who receive the Holy Ghost.
This Holy Ghost Whom we have within us: what does He give us? What does He inspire in us? Let us listen to what the Acts of the Apostles have to recount. The Acts of the Apostles say that, as soon as the Apostles had received the Holy Ghost, they spoke… they spoke. They had received tongues of fire which signed them, which marked them, which manifested the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them; but these tongues of fire designated nothing other than that henceforth they had hearts of fire – hearts of fire which forced them to speak. And speak of whom, of what? Of Our Lord Jesus Christ – for it is the Spirit of Jesus that they had received. -I shall send you my spirit. . . MY spirit.” So it is the Spirit of Our Lord, and they spoke of Our Lord.
And the sentence perhaps the most characteristic of the discourse of Saint Peter when, filled with the Holy Ghost, he could not restrain himself from speaking, from preaching the Gospel, from preaching Our Lord to those who surrounded him. . . He said: “Non est in alio aliquo salus.“ “Non est nomen sub caelum datum hominibus per quem omnes salvi fieri debent.” There is no other name by which we must be saved. There is no name other than that in which all men must receive salvation. This is the essential truth, the capital truth, the truth which summarizes all the truth of the Church. The Church was founded only for that: to bring salvation to souls through Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And consequently, it is the duty of the Church, and it will be your duty, my dear friends, the duty of each one of you, dear friends, when you are priests, when you will have the mission of preaching the Gospel, to preach the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is with that that the Holy Ghost inspired the Apostles: the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is King! He has the right to reign. . .He has the right! And it is an historical fact – His presence in history can no longer be ignored by men; no man can ignore that Our Lord came to save him. And those who know that Our Lord came and, consequently, that God came among men to save us, must accept His reign: the reign of Our Lord. Not only His reign in individuals, in all persons; not only His reign in each one of us: but His reign in the family, in the home. . . but His reign in the State! Ah, here it is something much more difficult: to admit that Our Lord ought to reign over the nations. He is the King of all nations! He it is who will judge – who will judge all princes and kings. This is spoken of already in the Psalms.
And consequently we ought to be heroes of the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what we must preach everywhere – that there will be no happiness here below without the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ; that no good will be done here below without Our Lord Jesus Christ. We can do nothing without the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is He who is the source of all our meritorious acts. We can merit nothing whatsoever toward heaven if we have not in us the grace and spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
These are truths which are evident for Christians, evident for the Church – but which men do not want to receive and which many Catholics no longer want to receive. They find it inadmissible to say that there is no salvation outside of the Church, that there is no salvation outside of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And quite recently, I read in the report of the episcopal synod that one could accept that there are possibilities of salvation through every religion. Now this is absolutely false, contrary to all the doctrine of the Church. There is NO possibility of salvation through a false religion, through an erroneous religion. There is salvific value only in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently in the Catholic Church. And all those who are saved will always be saved through the Catholic Church, even if they are of other religions, even if they have lived in other religions. They cannot be saved, they cannot enter heaven unless through Our Lord Jesus Christ. There will be nothing in heaven other than the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ: that is obvious. How could anyone who is not a member of the Mystical Body go to heaven? For Our Lord Jesus Christ IS heaven! He is God, and God is heaven. Consequently whoever is not united to Our Lord will not be in heaven, will not go to heaven – no one who is not a member of the Mystical Body of Our Lord.
These are truths of which we must remind ourselves. And I believe that I can say for certain that if, unfortunately, our seminary and our work here are persecuted, it is precisely because we affirm these truths. Because the world no longer wants to hear these truths. And because one must conform oneself to ‘modern man,’ one must listen to ‘modern man.’ What is this ‘modern man’? Who is he? What does he represent, if not often the man who does not believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and who does not want to believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ. . .who refuses the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. . .who refuses His grace? Men no longer want to believe in the supernatural; they no longer want to believe in the grace of Our Lord. They now believe only in man – in man, who now by his science seems to want to govern the world in the place of God.
As for us, we affirm the contrary: the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We want Him to reign: and that is why we adore Him, and seek to adore Him in a manner worthy of Him, worthy of His presence in the Holy Eucharist. That is why we love our ceremonies, why we are attached to this Liturgy which truly expresses what we think in our hearts, what we think in the depths of our souls: that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist and that we honor Him as God. He is our King: He has the right to our reverences, He has the right to our genuflections, He has the right to our bows; He has the right to songs worthy of Him, worthy of heaven, which recall the chant of the angels. This is what we wish. We wish to honor Him also in our faith, in the doctrine we teach to the young men who come here to receive it: to receive the true faith, the doctrine which teaches us that God is everything and that man is nothing, that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, and that He is the only means of salvation that we must preach to all those who wish to be saved.
This is what we affirm; this is what we believe. But that goes against the current of present-day ecumenism, which wants precisely to level this religion, to bring our Catholic religion down to the level of the Protestant religion and of other religions. That we shall never accept. . . never! There is no God other than Our Lord Jesus Christ. We know neither Luther nor Buddha nor those other heads of religions who are and were merely inspired by the devil to turn men away from the truth and from Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We want to consider Our Lord as our King. We want Him to reign in our homes, in our families, in our states. We shall never accept that, in our states, all religions be placed on the same level. Without doubt this is impossible to wish for at once; but we must retain the principle. Otherwise there are no more public rights for the Church: those public rights which give the Church powers in civil societies. The Church is a society which has powers in the civil society, which ought to be recognized by the civil society.
Certainly in our time, through the malice of men, these powers are no longer recognized, or very little. And alas, even in the countries where they are still recognized, these countries are persecuted by those who ought rather to defend them! Who armed the hand that killed Schussnig? Who armed the hand that killed Garcia Moreno? Who harasses Franco and who harassed Salazar when they were Christian men of state who wanted Our Lord to reign in their countries? They are the ones who are persecuted! They are the ones who are investigated! They are the ones who suffer assassination attempts! Because they want Our Lord to reign in their countries. Why was Joan of Arc burned? Because she wanted to establish the reign of Our Lord in our country, in the nation of France.
This is what we must think; this is what we must believe. And this persecution which we are undergoing today is nothing other than that; it must not be placed on any other plane. It is not on details that we are attacked. We are attacked because we want the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ; because we affirm as much, because we do all that this reign might be established – that the reign of God, the reign of Our Lord might be established, the reign as well of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is why we are persecuted; we know it well.
And particularly by those in the Church who collaborate with the enemy. Unfortunately among those who collaborate with the enemy there are some who have important posts in the Church and who, through their important posts, strive to compel us as well into this pact with the enemy; who try to draw us into compromises that are absolutely inadmissible and that are contrary to the royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ, contrary to the honor of God, contrary to the honor of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And that we do not want… none of these intercommunions, for example, of ‘eucharistic hospitalities’ as they are now called. These are all blasphemies and sacrileges which we cannot accept.
“Quis ut Deus?” This is what we must say. “Quis ut Jesus Christus?” Who is like Our Lord Jesus Christ? This is what we must believe. This was the cry of Joan of Arc, the cry of Saint Michael the Archangel that she repeated, and it is this that we ought to repeat, that we ought to keep ever in our hearts.
Whatever the persecutions that we may undergo, we must remain united to Our Lord, united to the Blessed Virgin Mary; united to Our Holy Father the Pope, united to all the bishops of the Church. But perhaps sometimes, in being united to them, at the same time united against them in a certain manner, if they say things which are inadmissible. If on the one hand they say acceptable things and on the other hand they say inadmissible things, we shall be with them when they say admissible things, but we shall be against them when they say things which are inadmissible. For they are destroying themselves, and they are destroying the Church. And we want on the contrary to build up the Church, to construct it on the unchanging foundations, not on foundations of our own making; on foundations such as those of which I have just spoken to you, those which are inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have always been inspired by the Holy Ghost. Such is our desire. Indeed, our goal is none other than that.
And we ask today of the Holy Ghost, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was filled with the Holy Ghost, to keep us ever in this faith, in this love, in this charity, in this unity. We are not seeking to add anything to the unchanging faith. If God gives us the grace to follow tradition, the grace to remain in the light of the Holy Ghost, we shall not take glory in this, but we shall pray that God grant that this light shall illumine once again, as of old, all the nations of Europe and the entire world.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
+ Marcel Lefebvre on Pentecost Sunday, 1975