Sermon delivered by His Grace, the Most Reverend Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X on Easter Sunday, 26 March 1978 at Ecône, Switzerland
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
"Confidite, nolite timere, ego vinci mundum." It is Our Lord Who leaves us these words before embarking upon the road of His Passion and Death: "Have confidence, fear not, I have overcome the world." And, in fact, Our Lord has overcome the world, the world such as St. John describes it: "what is the world," he asks, "but the concupiscentia oculorum, concupiscentia carnis, superbia uirae?" What does that mean? Riches, honors, the delights and pleasures of the flesh, that is what the world is. And Our Lord has overcome the world!
It suffices to contemplate Our Lord, attached to His Cross, covered with Blood, crowned with thorns, His side opened, to see that Our Lord has truly conquered the world, the world of riches-is anyone poorer than Our Lord upon His Cross? The world of honors—is there anyone more humble than Our Lord dying as one condemned by common law? Finally, the concupiscence of the flesh-is there a better example of sacrifice, of suffering, of sorrow, and of lacerations of the flesh than Our Lord covered with Blood upon His Cross? Indeed, Our Lord has overcome the world: that which the world loved, Our Lord scorned. And why did Our Lord scorn these things? In order to love! To love His Father, to love God, because one cannot serve two masters: one cannot love the world and love God. And Our Lord upon the Cross died of love: He died of love for His Father, He died of love for God, and His outstretched arms and His opened Heart reveal to us that He died of love for His neighbor as well! There is, therefore, a very great lesson in the Victory of Our Lord over the world.
And because He has overcome the world, it had to follow as well that He wins the victory over sin. For that which is at the root of this deviation in which our souls are born, and which we call the world, all that comes to us from original sin, and Our Lord by His Cross has won the victory over sin. Until then, man had not been able to attain Heaven; henceforth, by the Royal Way of the Cross, Heaven is opened, souls can now follow Our Lord and go up to Heaven, sin is overcome! Sin is overcome by the Blood and water which flowed from the side of Our Lord, and which are going to take form in all the Sacraments which Our Lord is going to leave to us, and which will give and apply to us His Blood. In Baptism, particularly: by all the souls which from now on after the death of Our Lord will be baptized, souls which will be delivered from original sin and will be able to aspire towards Heaven, to follow Our Lord. And Our Lord has not only delivered us from original sin, but he delivers us as well from our personal sins by the Sacrament of Penance, by the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—Our Lord truly frees us from our sins!
Nevertheless, are we to think that, delivered from our sins, we may henceforth desist from combat; that there are no more spiritual exercises to realize in our souls? No. Our Lord could have just as well caused that the consequences of original sin vanish from our souls, and consequently removed us from all these false desires, these inordinate desires of the world. Our Lord, however, did not so will it. He willed, as St. Thomas says, that our life be spent in combat, in suffering, in trials, in temptations, in difficulties. Each one of us has his own little drama, his own big drama—the crisis of one's spiritual life, the crisis of one's interior life. Where do we stand vis a vis God, vis a vis Our Lord? Our souls, are they pure, are they full of grace? Are they loving of Our Lord, of our neighbor? Do we accomplish our duties, our duties of state? Are we obedient to the law of God, Who asks us to love both God and our neighbor? Each of us must make the point of knowing where he stands, and fight! In a combat, when there is a truce, the superior officers confer among themselves and ask why a defeat took place in such a location, or they discern where the weak points of the enemy are located, in order that when the combat is resumed, the victory may be won. And likewise, with us, we must at times during our life recollect ourselves, make retreats, in order to know where we stand, how to battle, how to battle the enemy, and so carry off the victory with Our Lord. It is capital that we win the victory! It is essential that we fight!
For if Our Lord has overcome the world, if He has overcome sin, He has also overcome the devil. And nevertheless, we witness everyday the bad influences of the spirits which surround us, as St. Paul says, in the very air about us, and which seek our perdition. And, assuredly, Our Lord has truly conquered the devil because before His Passion, before His Death, before His Resurrection the devil reigned over souls from their interior. He had hold over souls, and he still has it when souls are not baptized, as evidenced by the fact that we must pronounce the exorcisms to drive away the devil from souls. But henceforth, thanks to the Passion of Our Lord, thanks to His Victory— and Our Lord Himself has affirmed it—nunc eiicietur princeps huis mundi—"now the prince of this world will be cast out." Indeed, he is cast out of souls who are baptized, it is true, but he still has an influence in this world. Externally, he can tempt us, he can cause tension in our life by every sort of method—you know it well—by every means which this world puts at his disposition. Yet, nonetheless, his defeat is assured. It is up to us to battle to keep vigil, to keep an eye open to all the diabolical influences which surround us, in order to preserve our souls for Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, Our Lord has won the victory over death, for death is the consequence of sin. And, thus, today we celebrate His Resurrection, the consequence of the Victory of Our Lord. We are assured that we ourselves will one day have the joy of the resurrection, if however, we follow Our Lord, if we love Him, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary as she stood at the foot of the Cross. This phrase which I am going to cite for you is located in the Office of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, on the day of the feast: Dilectus meus candidus et rubiscundus totus spirat amorem, "my Beloved, pure and at the same time rose (by the Blood which flows) in His entirety breathes forth love" caput inclinatum, "His Head inclined," manus expensae, "His Hands extended," pectus apertum, "His Heart opened." Yes, let us contemplate Our Lord Jesus Christ upon His Cross just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did, and let us ask Our Lord to give us this love. But in order to have this love, we must sacrifice, we must struggle. Every aspect of the Cross proves it to us. If we do not battle, if we remain passive, if we fall asleep, then the enemy will be all-powerful and will come once more to gain admission into our souls. And, alas, my dear brethren, today this is the great drama of the Church.
This victory which Our Lord has won and which manifests itself today on this feast of the Resurrection, comprises necessarily a gigantic combat against the world, against death, against sin. Our Lord has triumphed, but this combat continues, and the entire history of the Church is but the history of this combat, with its diverse, vicissitudes. And today, are we not in an hour of darkness where the devil reigns once again, where the spirit of the world is everywhere and permeates everywhere? Are we not heading for death, for eternal death? And, alas, in the Church itself they no longer will to fight, one must not talk of combat anymore, no more talking of penance, no more talking of renouncement, no more talking of mortification. Such is the great drama which the Church is undergoing today—they have laid down their arms. Thus the devil finds himself all-powerful because they do not fight him anymore. The day will soon come when they will say that the devil no longer exists, that the world is not really as bad as one would make it; that this world is full of good intentions! But we know that to be the instrument of the devil to pervert us. If the world has hated Our Lord, as Our Lord Himself said, the world will hate you as well. Thus, if we ourselves happen to love the world, the world will love us, and as a result we will separate ourselves from Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet today it seems that one is full of complacency for this world-even clerics, even bishops! Yesterday I was reading a declaration made by a cardinal on the "rights of man"—for from now on it is no longer a question of the Decalogue which tells us to love God and our neighbor, it is no longer a question of speaking about our duties vis a vis God, Our Lord, and our neighbor—no, it's only a question of the "rights of man!" And these "rights of man," which are reputedly necessary for human dignity, to what do they reduce themselves? To the sharing of the goods of this world! It is necessary to share the goods of this world, there you have that to which the "rights of man" reduce themselves.
Is that what Our Lord represents to us upon His Cross? Our Lord requires us precisely to scorn the riches of this world, and here you have it that those who ought to teach men to despise these riches, to love the spirit of poverty even if they be rich, to live as poor, poor in spirit, detached from the goods of this world, behold, those who ought to preach these things and preach Our Lord Jesus Christ think only of the allotment of the goods of this world, and thereby arouse once again envy in the hearts of men. Always more, always more than our neighbor, thus fostering jealousy of those who possess a few goods and implanting in the hearts of men this division, this class struggle, which is precisely what the devil wants in order to destroy the world and destroy souls! And will there not be in Brazil this year a meeting of all the delegates of the episcopal conferences to talk of nothing but the "rights of man?" Where is this human dignity? They talk of the "rights of man for human dignity," but to what does it refer? Human dignity consists in loving the truth and loving the good. To the degree that we separate ourselves from the Truth, to the degree that we remove ourselves from the Good, we are no longer worthy of dignity, we shall no longer be worthy of Heaven. Would the devils still be worthy of dignity? Such are the profound errors which have actually entered into the spirits of even those who should preach the truth and who henceforth are prophets of error.
And therefore we must, we, my dear brethren, maintain the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, meditate every day the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and put it everywhere: in our rooms, in our homes, at the crossing of our streets. Let the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ reign and let it be everywhere before our eyes, so that we may have this continual lesson which Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us in such an admirable way! He Who is rich because He is the Creator of all things, and all belongs to Him. He has willed to live poor and die poor. He Who should have had all the honors of the world. He at Whose feet all humanity should have come and prostrated itself to render Him honor and glory. He died as an evildoer! He Who possesses everything and could have offered Himself all the legitimate pleasures which the world can offer, He willed to perish bathed in His Blood! That is the example which Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us if we desire to five truly as Christians. That is what you, my dear friends, will preach in the future: the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, just as did St. Paul. What does he preach? Jesus, and Jesus crucified. You will preach Jesus crucified for the good of souls. And if you do not, you deceive those to whom you are sent, and you will not lead them to Heaven. And it is for this reason that we must maintain firmly the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and as a consequence His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is because the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer honored, and no longer honored in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in particular, that souls are being lost, that souls are disoriented and no longer know where to find the way to Heaven. The road to Heaven is in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is in the Sacrifice of Our Lord, it is in the Cross of Our Lord Who pours out His Blood every day upon our altars. It is by this Cross that we shall go to Heaven, there is no other road, there is no other way of salvation but the Cross of Jesus, Who is the Royal Way of Heaven, Via Regalis Crucis et Caeli\ That my dearly beloved brethren, is what we must maintain at all cost.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us the Cross. She will do so, she will tell us what is truly for us the road of Heaven, and likewise will welcome us when the hour of our death arrives, if we have followed Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us ask also on this day that spirits be enlightened, that the minds of priests, of those who must preach the truth, be enlightened by the Holy Ghost in order that they truly return to this predication of the Cross which is the throne of glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Translated by Joseph Cottins at Ecône—March 1979