The Love of Wisdom

May 02, 2020
Source: District of Asia
The Israelites cross the Red Sea, Jordaens

An isolated act is quite different from a habit. There is a whole world of difference in between. For the isolated act, as long as it remains temporary, does not shake our inner balance and does not touch in any way whatsoever our deepest being. Habit, on the other hand, comes with the repetition of acts and it ends up transforming us, slowly but surely, from top to bottom: it establishes in us a second nature, which it will be difficult to return to and against which it will end up being almost impossible to fight. The isolated act is not to be feared, but the habit is formidable. Our enemies, and the first of them, the devil, know this very well.

It is not always true to say, "he who steals an egg steals an ox", for he who steals once in passing is not yet a thief and may never be one. But he who steals every Sunday will end up stealing every day of the week.

So that is the danger that awaits us with this strange situation in which we find ourselves in for more than a month and which will probably last for some time to come: enough time to repeat acts that could create a second nature in us. Here we are deprived of attendance at Mass and Mass is the great habit that marks the ridge of Christian life. Sunday is the day of Mass, and it is because it is that it remains the day of the Lord, the day thanks to which we do not forget that we are Catholics, that is to say, children of God and of the Church. A Sunday without Mass is more than a day without sunshine; it is a dangerous day, because it is a day when nothing reminds us and tells us our deep identity. If this day occurs once in passing, the danger is minimal and the sense of frustration we feel, the disarray, the sadness, the uneasiness that we feel compensate for the lack of landmarks because they exacerbate the need for them: our identity is strengthened, paradoxically, when it is isolated for a single time in a foreign land.

But if Sundays without Mass follow one another and become the general rule, then we risk becoming accustomed to doing without Mass, and we risk losing our main point of reference. Our identity risks becoming blurred, and in the end, it is a new second nature that risks taking the place of the old one. A Catholic used to do without Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a denatured Christian. Such is the Protestant. Such has also become the pseudo-conciliar Catholic, all the less Catholic the more conciliar he is. The theif who steals an egg for the first time feels a certain remorse. The second time he feels less remorse. And at the third time, he feels no remorse at all, and it is then that he is ripe to go and steal an ox.

This does not mean that we are condemned to become Protestants or conciliar people. Nor to lose our profound identity as Catholics. Fatalism should have no hold on us, for it is the Good Lord who takes Mass away from us, provisionally, and for as long as he deems it profitable for us, in his Wisdom. We are not the first to abandon it. But let us be vigilant and not easily resign ourselves to this crossing of the desert. Sundays without Masses, if they follow one another, must all be the same, in the renewed and fervent expectation of the return of Mass. These Sundays without Mass, which last and perhaps will continue to last, must increase in us the great desire and yearning for Mass, a longing which will be great in proportion to the duration of the deprivation. In this way we will not become accustomed to being deprived of Mass and we will not be distorted. On the contrary, we will be purified by a more intense desire. If we think about it, this is exactly the situation and the definition of Purgatory: the intense desire for happiness which we are deprived of and which makes us wait in time, that is what Purgatory is all about. So the plan of God's Wisdom for this year 2020 is probably to make us go through Purgatory and this is the sign that we need to be purified, so that our desire for Mass is not an expression of routine but of sincere love. If we see it this way, this small, hopefully isolated passage in our life will not change our deepest nature, but it will confirm it. In this way God will recognize his own flock in the midst of trial, in the midst of this purgatorial life without the Mass.

 

Abbé Jean Michel Gleize