Engagements and promise of heaven

Source: District of Asia

Each year, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Society members commit or renew their commitment to serving the Church within the Society of St. Pius X.

There is a traditional belief about the Benedictines that all who die in the order go to heaven. It is possible that such a favor exists among other orders as well. How about our Priestly Society of St. Pius X? Can we not expect the same promise? Well, the answer is obvious, and indeed is very patent in the very form of oblation by which a young man engages himself in the Society. The superior, who stands in the place of God, tells him: “you want to make this oblation freely and spontaneously for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of all souls, especially of your own soul.” It is clear that by entering in the ‘bosom of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X,’ we are treading the safe path towards Christian holiness which the Church herself has officially approved. We are convinced of this. Now on what grounds do we base our conviction? It is worthwhile to examine briefly what the foundation of hopeful belief.

It is definitely not a false sense of security or a pretext for an easy-going religious life. We understand readily that it is not enough just to live and die as a member of a religious institute to go to heaven, regardless of whether one strives to avoid sin. We are dealing here with those members who sincerely live up to what the oblation demands; that is, those who earnestly strive after Christian Perfection as manifested in the statues of our congregation. The oblation is very clear on this: “Do you want to be true and authentic disciples of Christ, according to the very words of Christ reflected in the Gospels?” (cf. Lk 928, Lk 1433 Mt 1921). We also have to mention that this sincere endeavor to be ‘true and authentic disciples of Christ’ is not broken by occasional weakness and failures. Only those members who knowingly neglect this fundamental duty would be wrong in relying on the mere fact of their membership in the Society (or in any religious institute) as a sure basis for certain hope of heaven. But those who take to heart this first obligation to be a ‘true and authentic disciple’ of Christ and who actually make use of the means provided in the statutes may take it as their privilege that perseverance till death is a promise of heaven.

Here we are not contradicting the Church’s teaching about the uncertainty of obtaining the grace of final perseverance which is inherent in our state as viatores. She has infallibly defined that “no man can without a special revelation know with absolute and infallible certainty that he will have the great gift of final perseverance”. (D2 826) Although without a special revelation we can never have an infallible certainty that the gift of final perseverance is ours, yet we can be morally certain -and we must stress this- that, with the help of God’s never failing grace, we are able and are going to persevere till the end. The reason this moral certainty – especially when we speak of the religious life - is implied in the infallible pronouncement of Our Lord: “Everyone that has left house or brethren or sisters for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold and shall possess life everlasting” (Mt 19,29). This promise applies in a true sense to the religious life. All faithful religious may take it as certain that the eternal life promised to those who leave everything for Our Lord’s sake will be their

abundant reward. Of course, we are not saying that this promise of Our Lord exclusively aims at religious and excludes other faithful. Such would be a grave error. But this applies to religious in a very special way in view of their practice of the evangelical counsels.

This promise of eternal life is also based on a proper understanding of what fidelity to a religious vocation truly means. We can call religious faithful to their vocation in the measure that - and as long as - they sincerely fulfill the duties of their state. This fidelity is not a question of words but rather of deeds and life. The spirit of this life is well summarized in our oblation- wherein we see the desire to make a constant effort to become better and a steady striving after perfection in virtue. (“I desire to offer myself to thee in a spontaneous oblation, and to remain forever thine.”)

One may wonder many how we can “remain forever his”; that is, how we are able to fulfill this oblation until the end of our life. Well, all is grace and here it is in an eminent way. It is truly a grace that is refused to no single religious because it is part of the very grace of vocation. When therefore God gives the grace of a religious vocation, he undoubtedly asks His chosen to strive unceasingly after Christian Perfection, but He also most certainly gives them all graces necessary to fulfill that duty.

With that fidelity, a faithful religious not only can escape sins but also grow in many virtues and fill their days with countless good works and thus advance in holiness. For this very reason it is morally certain that they will persevere in grace. Only when they start to tamper with fidelity do they risk the real danger of losing God’s help.

It is no wonder then that after his day of ordination, the most important day of any member of our Society is the day of their engagements, for it the day, in which he is promised eternal life !!

Fr. Therasian Xavier