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Sermon of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
On the Occasion of the Profession of Three Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X
Low Sunday, 17 April 1977

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

My dear sisters and my dear brethren:

In a few moments in accordance with the custom of the Church and in accordance with Tradition, we are going to bless these religious habits, these crosses, these medals, these rings, these veils and these crucifixes.

And why all of this? Why these blessings? Why these religious habits? Would it not be preferable to abandon these customs which seem no longer to have any significance in our day? We, therefore, ask the Church in her Tradition: why these blessings? Why these religious habits? Why these religious objects? The Church tells us that it is because these persons who are going to be clothed wish to become religious. We again ask the Church: what is a person who becomes a religious? (For the answer) we open the law of the Church which is called Canon Law. We find in Canon Law that a religious is a person who pronounces the three vows of religion: the vows of obedience, of chastity and of poverty. All of this seems so formal, so strict: what then is a person who pronounces these three vows, and what do these three vows signify?

These three vows signify that the person who consecrates herself as a religious abandons henceforth the pleasures of the flesh, abandons all that money is able to procure for us here on earth, and abandons as well her own will. Obedience is the vow by which the religious abandons her will into the hands of her superior. The vow of chastity is that by which the religious sacrifices the joys of maternity, and the vow of poverty signifies that the religious despises henceforth the things, the goods of this world. She does not wish to profit from all that money legitimately or alas illegitimately can procure for us here on earth. All of this seems to have a rather negative aspect, a penitential aspect, an aspect of austerity of renouncement, abnegation. Is it this alone that truly makes the religious? Is there nothing else, no other more elevated motive other than the simple desire to do penance and to appear in the eyes of the world as a person who despises the world? Is there not a more profound motive to pronounce these vows? Yes - indeed! There is a more profound motive! All the rest would mean nothing, absolutely nothing, if there were not. It is He, He who draws the religious to Himself. You know, there is only one name in heaven and on earth which is able to attract souls to the point that they consecrate themselves to Him. It is Our Lord Jesus Christ! There is the key to the mystery. It is He who has touched the heart of the religious, of priests, all Christians. There is only one name here below which has been given in order to save us, in order to have eternal life; one person alone who has shed His blood in order to save us from our sins: Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who then is this Person who has the privilege of this power to draw souls to attract hearts in such a manner that those who wish to become religious abandon all that gives joy — apparent joy — here on earth? Who is, therefore, Our Lord Jesus Christ? What has He done for us?

If one glances at history since Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven one sees the number of martyrs of all ages of all conditions who have given their blood in order to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ because they adored Him, because they loved Him, because they obeyed Him. For His name alone they were ready to shed their blood. So many martyrs! So many nations who, because of their faith, have been massacred: because they believed in Our Lord Jesus Christ! So many vocations! So many monasteries! So many convents which were erected to enclose those who wished to pass their whole life praying, adoring, and serving Our Lord Jesus Christ. What great generosity! What great charity this name alone has raised in the entire world!

In Christian homes the venerated name of Jesus gives the virtues necessary for the family, makes a more Christian home — a home were one respects and honors the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So many souls have dedicated their entire life to serving the sick — to serving the Mystical Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ — to serving the suffering in hospitals, in infirmaries, in leper colonies — wherever there are suffering members of the Mystical Body of Our Lord there have been generous souls to minister to these sufferings. Why? Uniquely for those who are suffering? NO! In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

So many souls have devoted their lives to teaching the Faith, the catechism, to the religious education of children, of families. These souls have spent their lives for Catholic education — for Christian education. Why? In order to make Our Lord Jesus Christ known! And today, do not the Epistle and Gospel say the same thing — that is our faith: we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we believe, therefore, that He is God Himself. Per quern onmia facta sunt — By whom all things were made — We have been made by Our Lord Jesus Christ. We are creatures of Our Lord Jesus Christ and He shed His blood for us. He came upon earth to sacrifice Himself for us: we then also wish to sacrifice ourselves for Him. Thus, this is religion; this is why one becomes a religious.

My dear sisters, if you are not attached to Our Lord Jesus Christ during your entire life, you have no reason to become religious — none. This is why you are going to receive your religious habit, in order to manifest Our Lord Jesus Christ by your religious habit. This is why you are going to receive your veil, your medal and your crucifix. This is why you are going to be blessed in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The fathers and mothers of families might say "It certainly is pleasant to be a religious. Without a doubt, one separates oneself from a great number of joys but also from a great number of difficulties. Certainly convents and monasteries must be paradise on earth since it is the Church itself which says Ubi Jesus, ibi paradisum, there where one finds Jesus, one finds paradise. Thus, if Jesus is in religious communities, paradise is there as well."

Without a doubt, this perhaps should be the case. But the good Lord does not permit paradise to exist upon earth. On the contrary! He has promised us the cross. He has promised us sacrifices in religious communities — even monasteries. It would be a serious mistake to believe that we could find on earth a place where we could be as in paradise. Paradise is reserved until after our death.

During the course of our life we must carry our cross. Whatever one may be: Christian spouses, religious, priests — we all must carry our cross. We cannot find Our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth unless we find Him with His cross. If we find Him, He will impose His cross upon us — "Carry thy cross and follow Me". This is what He tells us: "If thou wish to gain eternal life, carry thy cross and follow Me." He did not say "I will give thee happiness upon earth", but rather He told us "Thou shalt have eternal life in heaven but first carry thy cross."

This is why my dear sisters, do not deceive yourselves, you are beginning the way of the cross but a way of the cross, as Our Lord said "My yoke is sweet and my burden light". Borne with Our Lord Jesus Christ in following Him, the cross becomes light. Remember that this cross assimilates us to Our Lord Jesus Christ; it makes us resemble Our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that by His cross we participate in the redemption of the world. When our blood must flow in carrying this cross, our blood will be mixed with that of Our Lord Jesus Christ and souls will be saved.

All sufferings, the least of the smallest sufferings, are occasions to mix our blood with that of Our Lord for the redemption of the world, for the redemption of our souls. Thus, how good it is to be with Our Lord! This is why the saints and martyrs wished to suffer, they desired the cross.

Remember the words of St. Andrew when seeing the cross to which he was going to be attached — O bona crux! — O good cross! St. Andrew knew that attached to his cross he would resemble even more Our Lord Jesus Christ and that he would ascend to heaven. He knew also that partaking in the sufferings of Our Lord, he would save souls. Thus, perceiving it from afar he cried O bona crux! May you also be able to say everyday of your life when your crosses weigh heavily upon your shoulders O bona crux! They will further unite you to Our Lord Jesus Christ because they will make you understand all of His sufferings.

Moreover, you have as a particular patron the Blessed Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Compassion: Our Lady of Seven Sorrows who had not a single sin, who was immaculate from her conception, who did not commit any sins here on earth: if she merited to suffer with her divine Son in such a way that her heart was pierced with a sword, she who did not deserve these sufferings — shall we who deserve to suffer because of our sins dare not to imitate and resemble the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Ask your holy patron the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Compassion, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, to teach you to suffer with Our Lord Jesus Christ in order that you also will one day share in His glory.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.