The Priest, An Apostle Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
“O bone Jesu, fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum!” “Oportet Illum regnare” (I Cor. 15:25). These two sentences sum up, as it were, the intimate link that exists between the priesthood and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: firstly, that we have a heart like unto the Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then that we consecrate our life to bring about the reign of the Heart of Jesus. These intimate links might be summarized by saying that the priest must consecrate himself to the Heart of Jesus, he must consecrate himself to reparation, and he must be an apostle of the Heart of our Lord.
St. Thomas Aquinas says that man is a debtor in relation to God for two reasons. Firstly, because of the benefits he has received; for example, the whole of creation, the Incarnation, the Redemption, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But he is also a debtor in relation to God because of his sins, and therefore his need to make reparation, expiation, and satisfaction for sin, which offends God. To consecrate oneself means to give to our Lord, to His Heart, our person and our goods—our exterior and interior goods, goods of a material, corporal, and spiritual nature, goods both natural and supernatural. Consecration then involves renouncement of ownership of these goods, and at the same time donation of all.
Consecration is a donation that is by definition entire and for always. At the same time, one dedicates one’s life to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the priest is the man of God, the religious of God. He is consecrated and dedicated to God. His entire life is offered and devoted to God. That is why we, more than anyone else, must fulfill the duty of charity, of love, which fulfills and perfects the essential act of the virtue of religion.
At the same time, this life totally consecrated to our Lord and to His Sacred Heart achieves and establishes the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, as Pope Leo XIII has shown. In his Encyclical Annum Sacrum1 the pope attaches the consecration particularly to the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has a right by nature and by conquest to this consecration and this service. He has real dominion over us, over everything, but desires that, from love and in order to requite His love, truly and spontaneously we should consecrate ourselves to His service and by that very means proclaim His kingship. In other words, devotion and consecration to the Sacred Heart are the best ways to establish the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts, in the hearts of the faithful, and in society. For this devotion defines better than any other the very nature of our Lord’s kingship, which is a kingship of love; this love arises from the love of our Lord—it is established by the charity of our Lord—and of the love that we give Him in return. But the essential characteristic of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is, at the request of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, reparation, the obligation to offer satisfaction, reparation, and expiation for sins—our own, the sins of the faithful, and for the sins of all men. For our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was pre-eminently one who makes reparation, and His love is essentially redemptive and reparative.
Reparation is a kind of compensation offered freely to God, to our Lord, to uncreated love; compensation for the omissions, the indifference, the offenses, outrages, and insults. According to Pope Pius XI, we must offer reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for two reasons: for justice’ sake, but also and especially for the sake of love. That is why, by the spirit of reparation, as you know, we can offer satisfaction for our own sins and for the sins of others. We can offer satisfaction for others; we can make reparation for others. This is what is explicitly demanded in this devotion.
It is especially during the holy sacrifice of the Mass that we can accomplish this and, as Archbishop Lefebvre taught us, we unite ourselves with the reparative spirit of our Lord principally by the holy sacrifice of the Mass, by conforming ourselves to the dispositions of our Lord on the cross. If consecration establishes us firmly in a union of love with our Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of reparation, says Pope Pius XI, establishes us in the same way as the consecration.
This loving union with our Lord is established first when we purify ourselves from sin; then, by making us compassionate the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the motive, arising specifically from love, that makes us embrace the spirit of reparation which is that of compassionating our Lord Jesus Christ patiently suffering and dying on the cross. It also means repairing and compassionating the sufferings of holy Church, which is His mystical body.
Christ continues to suffer in His body which is the Church—we ought to complete in our flesh what is lacking in the Passion of Christ for the Church, which is His body.2 It means making reparation for the offenses committed against our Lord Jesus Christ in His Body which is the holy Church. The passion the Church is undergoing ought to move us to embrace the spirit of reparation and of consolation of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
One consoles someone who is suffering, someone sad. Well, it is we priests of our Lord who ought to make reparation and console. And finally, says Pope Pius XI, the spirit of reparation establishes union with Christ in us, making us offer ourselves as holy, pure, immaculate oblations; by making us like Christ, to immolate ourselves, to sacrifice ourselves for souls and for their salvation.
Something else is also needed, which appears clearly in the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. We must also be apostles of the Heart of Jesus and of devotion to the Sacred Heart. This is precisely the vocation of the priest, to make known and loved the Heart of Jesus, to make it honored and to render it public worship, for it is a devotion of social and public significance. Hence we must apply ourselves to discovering the treasures within the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, treasures of truth and grace, as we have just heard in this beautiful epistle of St. Paul—I desire that we increase in the interior man, by the Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in us by faith so that, being rooted and grounded in charity, we may know, we may taste, we may discover and aid souls to discover the eminent knowledge of the love of Christ.3
Such is the super-eminent science that we must preach and that we must teach souls! It is the knowledge of charity and of the love of Christ, as well as all the treasures of truth and grace, of charity, of virtue and holiness that are enclosed within the Heart of our Lord. If He is not loved more, it is surely because He is not known, or is not known well enough, or deeply enough, or supernaturally enough. Well then, there’s our mission! We must be apostles of the Heart of Jesus.
The popes who’ve spoken about this devotion have shown that it is an extraordinarily powerful means of apostolate and conversion. Our Lord Himself said as much to St. Margaret Mary: the priest who is truly a disciple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and conducts his ministry according to this Heart will be particularly effective in his ministry, and he will know the art of converting even the hardest hearts. The popes have insistently asked of all the faithful, of all Christian people, but particularly priests, to practice, to study, and to live this union with the Heart of Jesus and to practice devotion to the Sacred Heart in the face of the evils worsening day by day, piling up in front of us. Now, it is obvious that this reason is even more valid today.
It is even more valid, for we see on all sides, whether in civil society or in the Church, the situation getting worse. Things keep going from bad to worse. We have to open our eyes. If we look at the world and the political or social situation, we see how the world becomes more and more hardened [in its rejection of Christ]: “We will not have this man to reign over us” [Luke 19:14]—we do not want Jesus Christ to rule over us. And so society slides into the very hatred of our Lord Jesus Christ and of God.
This is what we are faced with, what’s right in front of us. St. Thomas Aquinas asks how it is that man can hate God when God is the sovereign good, perfect, and the source of every good thing for us all, for each one of us. He explains that it is the depraved will of man that does not want to renounce the world, his sins, and that hates God firstly as legislator: He hates God because he does not want to keep God’s laws. Secondly, he hates God as rewarder, as judge. Now, it is indeed our Lord Jesus Christ who is the supreme legislator and who will come to judge the living and the dead. It is for this reason that today we see in society a clear tendency to reject our Lord Jesus Christ, His law, and His judgment. Being legislator and judge is the attribute of a king, and consequently “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
Ultimately, that would be irrelevant but for an infinitely greater, more serious problem: immanent apostasy; and we could even say, to borrow a somewhat modern order of ideas, that this apostasy, from immanent, is becoming transcendent. It consists in the folly of Churchmen bent on being reconciled with the world, the enemy of God and of His Christ, of His Church and of His doctrine. That is the Utopia, the chimera, the madness of these men of the Church who want to be acceptable to God but at the same time to be on good terms with the world, which is moving toward hatred and rejection of Christ and of God! This is what we are living through. God is not a legislator; God does not demand anything of us; God forgives everything! Is that right? Obviously this is a way to evade hatred of God by misrepresenting what God is in Himself, as well as the Catholic Faith as it has been handed on to us by the apostles, by Tradition, and revealed by our Lord.
You see, I think that in order to remain above personalities and to keep a rather general, supernatural outlook, one might say that we have reached the stage of consequences, the maturing of the events which are as it were the most representative fruits of fifty years of the conciliar spirit, that is to say, of a liberal and modernist spirit. For fifty years, the authorities have done nothing but apply—more or less intensely but in every case in the same direction—and gradually establish in holy Church this spirit, this outlook which is profoundly liberal and modernist.
So what is happening? What’s happening is what the popes of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century predicted: firstly, dogmatic relativism—doubt and uncertainty are now alright. Truth is what agrees with life, evolves with life and thus with man; it must adapt to modern man. Principles are left untouched but traditional doctrine is not adequate to respond to today’s pastoral needs. Doctrinal relativism, and therefore relativism of belief, necessarily results over time in what we are actually experiencing in a particular way, somewhat new, in any case more serious. For there has been, all the same, a substantial change. Now we have relativism in the moral order, the calling in question of the moral order itself—in the first instance the revealed moral law, but also the morality inscribed in nature.
“Who am I to judge?” In other words, my function is to help everyone follow his conscience—a postulate and principle of the autonomy of conscience that has no objective relationship with an external law, be it natural, revealed, supernatural, or divine, and certainly not with God. This is what religious indifferentism leads to necessarily. Everything is reduced to the level of opinion, and all the religions are opinions, they are all valid. There may be some that are better, some less good, but in any case they all lead to salvation, and more than that—all these religions can obtain for us natural and supernatural goods, including peace, brotherhood, and concord among men.
This is where we are. This is taken for granted, this is normal, this is what is practiced without any qualms or scruples or concern. According to a great pope, all this results in a kind of naturalism, a humanist naturalism. Everyone stays on the natural level, with natural values, with a humanist, humanitarian veneer.
We reach the starting point of this evolution, religious sentiment. For modernists, religion is a sentiment, a feeling of God, of the sacred, and especially a humanist, brotherly, humanitarian feeling that stands in admiration of the dignity of man, of the greatness of man. We’ve heard it said recently: I believe in man, I believe in what is in man’s heart, I believe in the dignity of man. It’s the echo of what Pope Paul VI said: “We more than anyone else have the cult of man.”4
At the same time, systematic demolition is going on; it’s the melting away of authority—magisterial authority, moral authority, authority in relation to worship and governance. It’s the demolition of the institution, of the hierarchy, of principles, for of course they want to control the situation, they want to steer the ship, after all, while at the same time destroying the notion and the very nature of Catholic authority and of the institution as such: the papacy, the Holy See. Such things have never been seen before.
Do Not Dissolve Jesus
St. Hilary commented on the text where St. John says, “You have heard it said that the Antichrist is going to come.” Now, St. John says that there are already many antichrists (I Jn. 2:18). St. Hilary says that the fact that the Antichrist will be at the end of time—someone, a person, an individual—does not prevent there being over the course of the development of the mystery of iniquity which is already among us, as St. Paul says,5 antichrists, who will abound; they will be numerous and will succeed one another in preparing the advent of the son of perdition.
St. John explains what it means to be an antichrist. An antichrist is one who denies the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, or one who denies His humanity. An antichrist is one who consequently denies what follows upon the divinity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; that’s why he adds: whoever dissolves Jesus Christ,6 that is to say, whoever dissolves the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ and all the consequences of His being true God and true man. An antichrist, St. John also says, denies the doctrine of Christ. St. Hilary comments: One who denies Christ as He has been preached and taught by the apostles and hence handed on by Tradition, such a one is an antichrist, for, he says, properly speaking antichrist signifies someone who is against Christ.
There you have the drama and the passion of the Church; for it is the very authorities of the Church that are against Christ. It’s the starting point of the world that hates God: “We do not want this man to reign over us.” And they began by demolishing the kingship of Christ.
So, as you can see, it is all the more urgent and necessary that we truly be genuine servants of the Heart of Jesus, true repairers and consolers. Faced with all that, we must reaffirm our faith, as we have learned from our founder Archbishop Lefebvre, who centered everything on Christ and on the mystery of Christ and the sacrifice of our Lord wherein the Heart of Jesus is especially revealed.
We must, therefore, first and foremost profess and preach our Lord Jesus Christ, His divinity, His humanity, and all that flows from that reality. We must defend the honor of our Lord, the rights of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what separates us, that is what opposes us, that is the point of contradiction—there is no other. It is our Lord, it is our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, who is the Life and the Way. It is in Him that are all the treasures of knowledge, of wisdom, of truth. He is the author and keeper of our faith and its principal object. It is our Lord Jesus Christ who has the fullness of grace and all holiness and every virtue. But our Lord is also the way as High Priest, and the way as King.
And so, confronted by this surge of antichristic anti-Christianity, we must more than ever preach and reassert in season and out of season that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator, the only pontiff, the only saviour; that our Lord is the only redeemer, the only repairer, and the only restorer. It is only in Him that we can renew all things.7 He is the only door through which one can go to the Father, and by which one can enter heaven. There is no other foundation on which one can build anything whatsoever in the supernatural order, there is no other name under heaven give us whereby we may be saved. That is our faith, and that is what puts us in opposition to official Rome—or modernist or conciliar Rome, or whatever you prefer to call it.
Apostles of Jesus and Mary
It is always interesting to reread the Book of the Apocalypse, especially to find out what are the particular dispositions that God, the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ, expect us to have during the time when the mystery of iniquity will be growing and will reach its apogee to climax, as we know, in the advent and reign of the Antichrist. Of course, it is essentially a revelation of hope and victory: of hope, because our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has said: “Have confidence; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), “And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20); of victory, for it concerns the definitive, final and eternal victory of our Lord Jesus Christ and of holy Church. But in this revelation we can see what are the particular dispositions needed in the last times. Our Lord Jesus Christ is presented as the truthful witness, faithful and true. Throughout the Apocalypse, St. John stresses that this testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful and true. He tells us that it is by the blood of the Lamb and by the confession of the word that the Christians of the last times will persevere.
So it is indeed by the holy sacrifice of the Mass, by the blood of the Lamb and the profession of the Catholic faith that we will persevere. In the Apocalypse we are shown that what causes God to intervene and our Lord Jesus Christ to come are the prayers of the saints that ascend on the golden altar that is before God, before the Divine Majesty. These prayers accumulate on the altar of God—Christians’ prayers of distress under persecution, the patience of the saints in suffering and persecution. It is the long-suffering patience that we have to have in all adversity and in every trial, those which are already past and those that are doubtless at the door. Patience and meekness and gentleness before what Providence sends us, and, I would even say, love, true love of the cross, for we well know that it is by the cross that redemption is effected and that we priests carry on the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apocalypse also shows us that during these last times the rampart and refuge of Christians will be the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the refuge of the Church, our Lady, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We know that the shortest, quickest, safest, most perfect way to reach our Lord is through our Lady. We well know that the shortest, quickest, safest, and most perfect way to go to the Heart of Jesus is the Heart of the most blessed Virgin Mary.
So, my dear faithful, my dear confreres, let us be more than ever apostles of Jesus and Mary,8 let us be more than ever apostles of the Heart of Jesus and of the Heart of Mary. Amen.
Translated from Nouvelles de Chrétienté, No. 148, July-August 2014, pp. 12-17. The oratorical style of the homily has been kept. The title, headings, and footnotes have been added by the editor. Translated by A. M. Stinnett.
1 Encyclical letter on the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart, May 25, 1899. According to Leo XIII’s declaration, this letter constitutes his spiritual testament.
2 Cf. Col. 1:24.
3 Cf. Eph. 3: 16-19.
4 Paul VI, Closing Speech of the II Vatican Council, December 7, 1965: “The Church of the Council [Vatican II] ...was also much attached with man as he really is today, with living man, with man totally taken up with himself, with man who not only makes himself the centre of his own interests, but who dares to claim that he is the principle and final cause of all reality....Secular, profane, humanism finally revealed itself in all its terrible stature and, in a certain sense, challenged the Council. The religion of God made man has come up against the religion—for there is such a one—of man who makes himself God. And what happened? A clash, a battle, an anathema? That might have taken place, but it did not. It was the old story of the Samaritan that formed the model for the spirituality of the Council. It [the Council] was filled only with an endless sympathy. The discovery of human needs—and these are so much greater now that the son of the earth has made himself greater—absorbed the attention of the Synod. Recognize at least this our merit, you modern humanists who have no place for the transcendence of things supreme, and come to know our new humanism: we also, We, more than anyone else, have the CULT OF MAN.”
5 Cf. II Thessalonians 2:7.
6 Cf. I John 4:3.
7 Cf. Eph. 1:10. It’s the program of the pontificate of St. Pius X.
8 As the statutes of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, drafted by Archbishop Lefebvre, show, its actual name is the Brotherhood of the Apostles of Jesus and Marie.