The Bishop Speaks

Bishop Louis Vezelis O.F.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the Peace of Our Lord be with you!

I address this Lenten letter to all those who are genuine and loyal Roman Catholics united with me as their shepherd. For, this union constitutes union with a genuine successor of the Apostles which is one of the marks of the true Church.

In a world fraught with disobedience to God, it hardly needs saying that those false shepherds and false teachers of which Jesus Himself warned us ply their evil, hypocritical trade with temporary impunity. More _ they are happily encouraged in their deceitful and delusionary disobedience.

The Holy Ghost is our true superior and the Holy Ghost works through those visible representatives of the Church which God has called.

During the short time that is left in the penitential time of Lent, let us review our lives and the motives that guide them in each day's activities.

First of all, let us be sincerely persuaded that God does not work outside His established order. Therefore, private interpretation of the Scriptures and private visions can only bear the mark of authenticity when they correspond to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.

Human frailty and susceptibility to demonic influences is so great that a serious discernment of spirits is essential to protect every one of the faithful from the clever ruses and traps of the devil.

This is particularly true in this age when subjectivism replaces sound reason and objectvity. Nowhere do we find this dangerous attitude more than in matters of religion that are so important for our eternal salvation.

Secondly, supernatural faith inspires in us an understanding of what we are to believe and serves as a guide as to how we must live as faithful children of God. As children of God, we are citizens of the heavenly city, or, as St. Augustine so properly says: the City of God.

It is only the inspired word of so great a mystic as St. Theresa of Avila that gives me the courage to approach a matter where fools rush in and angels fear to tread.

It is a profound humility and awareness of one's own unworthiness that would urge placing oneself in the line of fire from every malcontent and dissident from the faith. This, I believe, is their stock in trade. Therefore, setting aside all human respect and firm in the conviction of St. Theresa herself, one's duty must overcome any and all sense of one's limitations and apprehensions.

In writing to a prelate who disagreed with her, and did all in his power to dissuade others from giving support and sympathy to her, St.Theresa wrote: "I am not so humble that I would wish to appear proud."

Indeed, who can not but aspire to that divine injunction of our Lord when he said: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart"? But, one's duty must not be ignored under the appearances of false humility that renders the shepherd remiss in his duties.

And, so, I would earnestly speak to each and every member of our little flock to strive daily to imitate our blessed Lord in His passion and death on the ignominious Cross that has become the symbol of our redemption and salvation.

It has become the symbol of our redemption because Jesus suffered and died rather than to be disobedient to His heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and died without our help. This is what we call "redemption." But, Jesus will not save us without our cooperation with His grace. This is what we call "salvation."

The Modernist heretics often confuse these terms in order to deceive the people into following the path to eternal damnation. The need for death to oneself, or, mortification and penance are swallowed up in the demonic slogan of "unconditional love." Nowhere has Christ taught this kind of distorted, repugnant `love.'

Jesus loves us in the measure that we make up in our lives the suffering and death that follow upon perfect obedience to our heavenly Father.This is certainly "conditional love" _ God loves us on the condition that we reflect in our lives His divine goodness. A disorderly life cannot bring upon the soul the blessings promised by God.

The life of the true Christian is a life of sacrifice: It is the `making sacred" of all that we are, all that we have and all that we do. This is the true meaning of `sacrifice.'

Much to our Lord's lament, there are many whose sacrifice is more like that of Cain than that of Abel. Abel gave to God what was the best of all that he had and was; Cain gave only the worst of what he had and nothing of himself.

In truth, God does not need our external sacrifices because all things are His. What do we do but give back to God what He has given us. What God really wants _ and our sacrifices are a visible proof of our interior _ is that we give Him ourselves.

We are all thieves and liars. We are thieves because we attribute to ourselves the blessings which have come to us from God; we are liars, equally, because we refuse to acknowledge this simple truth.

Each of us hangs on a cross with Jesus between us. We have all sinned; but we do not all ask forgiveness of God. The "Good Thief" knew he offended God, but he humbly asked pardon _ and received it. The "Bad Thief" did not care whom he offended and thought only of himself. He died in despair while the other died with a promise of heaven.

Certainly, none of us would be so bold and blind as to think himself worthy of being one with Christ hanging in the middle between the two thieves.

May the coming remembrance of the first day of Resurrection inspire in us all a profound desire to learn of Jesus, for He is meek and humble of heart.

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