A Question of Faith (2015)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 2nd August 2015 in Prague, Czech republic
10th Sunday after Pentecost
It is a great grief for every zealous missionary that he often cannot be with his faithful in the last moment of their lives. The long distances make the pastoral care very difficult. Many of the faithful die without priest, without confession, without extreme unction, without Holy communion.
“Last winter” – once reported a missionary from Canada – “there were famine and infectious diseases among the Indians.
During a visit on occasion of an apostolic trip, I found eleven dead frozen bodies lying on the ground due to frost of – 40°C. As I approached to pray for them, to my amazement I saw that every body kept a piece of birch bark, a kind of the writing paper in this Nordic land, in their hands.
For a moment I was shocked because I had the terrible suspicion that they had left the Catholic faith and during my long absence went to a medicine man to ask him for help. I took one of the pieces and I could read: “Just our father is allowed to read the following lines.“ They wrote down their confessions!
The good people had felt the coming death. And since they could not confess, they wrote down their sins on a piece of birch bark.
All writings ended: “I ask you, my father, to say Mass for the peace of my soul. For this service I leave you my beaver, a raccoon coat, and my beautiful axe.“
When I read these confessions and testaments, I felt the tears in my eyes. O these lovely big kids! They knew from me that in the case when there is no priest available, an act of perfect contrition could save them and give them full forgiveness of their sins. – So they died with an act of contrition.
More and more we in Europe are in a missionary area.
We would like to attend the Holy Mass as often as we can but unfortunately we are not able to do so because we want to preserve the Catholic faith intact.
Our founder, archbishop Lefebvre, had repeatedly pointed out that Sunday God’s service is not only our duty but that we have to honour Our Lord. If that is not possible, we cannot speak of duty.
After 1988 he did not recommend or encouraged those faithful who lived near Wigratzbad where The Society of st. Peter has a seminary to attend the Holy Mass there even though they say the Tridentine Mass.
It is not only the question of the Holy Mass. It is the question of the Faith itself.
All Ecclesia Dei communities, that means The Society of st. Peter as well, have to accept Vatican II and the post-conciliar sacraments.
In the French Revolution all the priests said the same Mass, only one part of them had taken an oath to the Civil Constitution of 7th December 1790 (French national church), another part refused. To the latter part belonged the priest who provided future Cure of Ars with his first Holy communion.
It was so because it was not only a question of the Holy Mass, it was the question of the Faith.
So if we are not able to attend the Holy Mass on Sunday, let us make an act of contrition, let us pray the prayer of the Missal. Let us listen to a sermon by archbishop Lefebvre, let us make a spiritual reading, a spiritual communion and let us pray the Rosary!
The absolutely necessary sacrament for salvation can be replaced in case of emergency by a desire. The holy baptism by the baptism of desire, the holy confession by an act of contrition and even the Holy communion can be replaced by a desire, by the spiritual Communion.
All people who believe in God and live according to their conscience, i.e. they want to do what God wants them to do, have the baptism of desire. If they knew that they should be baptised, they would immediately ask for baptism. But at the moment, as far as there is no priest in their region, they could not yet ask for it.
If the emergency situation is over, and a missionary arrives, they will immediately ask for baptism with water.
In an emergency case, holy confession may be replaced by an act of contrition. The Holy scripture speaks about this possibility several times:
Saint Mary Magdalene – because of her great love, she was forgiven many sins. She was allowed to stand under the Cross of Jesus and was one of the first women to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection.
The publican in the temple, he prayed: „Lord, be merciful to me, poor sinner!“ And the Holy scripture says about him: „He went away justified.“
And after the denial, the Lord turned looking at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as he had said: Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going out, wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75)
And the robber on the Jesus´s right hand side said to him: „Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.“ (Luke 23:42-43)
Sometimes an act of perfect contrition is the only way for a layman to prepare somebody for the eternity.
In 1950 a traffic accident happened in a big German city. A man was hit by car. The doctor arrived but saw immediately that he could not do much for the person injured. While a lot of people were around, a little girl about 10 years old appeared and said to the injured man slowly and clearly: “Dear Mister, Jesus wants you to have in heaven! You must die soon. But do not be afraid. Jesus is so good. He died for us on the cross.
O my Lord, I regret deeply that I have offended you so much during my life. O Jesus, be merciful to me! Please forgive me all my sins! Amen.“
The man was following the girl’s prayer and when she finished it, he shut his eyes forever.
An act of perfect contrition removes every sin. But when the emergency situation does not exist anymore, one must confess the sins in confessional.
Even the Holy communion can be received spiritually in emergency case. „Lord, I want to receive you sacramentally, but I cannot receive you because I am sick, I have no opportunity, there is no priest.“
Many saints have received the Holy communion in this way several times a day.
We will not lose faith, if we act so, neither did the faithful in Canada. Amen.