A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to John.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Transcription of Sermon
Our Lord speaks about all sorts of strife and struggles that we are to experience in this life. And nonetheless, He speaks about a joy that is immutable. And this is what theologians call the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy. Interestingly, when Paul lays out the fruits of the Holy Spirit, it’s love, peace, joy, there’s a certain logical order to those things. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us is love itself, which brings about peace. As Paul says, God is a God of peace. And joy then is the logical consequence of this possession. And this is what’s called intrinsic joy. So, intrinsic joy is something that is at the level of our soul. Extrinsic joy is mutable, that changes according to what’s going on in my life, how things are going, that’s all variable. Our extrinsic joy changes in degrees, and goes away, comes back. But intrinsic joy, which is considering God in Himself should never change. And this is the joy that the souls in Heaven have. Their extrinsic joy in Heaven is also mutable. When Our Lady of La Salette appeared, she was weeping. Her extrinsic joy was untouchable, but she was expressing an extra extrinsic sorrow even in Heaven. It’s a mystery.
If you read Dante’s Divine Comedy, of Paradise, of Purgatory, of Hell. You see all of the people where they are, no matter where their spot is, according to God’s providential plan. In Hell, in Purgatory, and Heaven, you always see this mix of the earthly and heavenly, this mix of the natural and the supernatural and they’re inextricable because that’s just reality.
Today, we celebrate two saints who, to a certain extent, show us the variance between intrinsic joy and extrinsic joy.
St. Dunstan was an extremely talented man and his talent was the cause of lots of jealousy. He, as a young man, because of his talent and his intellect, he was grabbed by the King of England to be in his court. We’re talking about the early early 10th century, and even before the Norman Conquest. And he became one of the three most important voices in the formation of what would be England, and certainly of Anglo-Saxon England. He was one of the most formidable voices and his life was one of total service to Our Lord as a Benedictine monk but also to the king as a spiritual counselor, and as the kings would change, he would be in favor and out of favor. He was sent into exile several times, called back by the next king. His council was sought after, it was rejected, but Dunston didn’t change. So, Dunston was really kind of an immutable figure in England and people hate that, people loved it.
Because of his artistic talents, and his promotion of that in the monasteries – that was one of the things that he did. He formulated schools of art to reveal created beauty that would point to an uncreated beauty through illuminations, right, you see the paintings in the ancient manuscripts, goldsmith, and beautiful liturgical vessels that were finally made. Well, this was thanks to not only his ability but his promotion of it and his training of others in those schools. He was also made bishop of several different sees and was renowned for his holiness and miracles.
We also celebrate Pope Celestine V, a somewhat enigmatic figure. He was a hermit, who lived in the early early 13th century and lived the Cistercian reform[ed] hermit life and was one of the few popes, when he was elected pope, who was elected under what’s called inspiration, where the College of Cardinals met, the Electors met, and they all said his name and so he was, he was brought in as pope, not happily.
He came in as pope and was filled with his love for Our Lord, which he certainly fomented in his hours of silence and solitude as a hermit. And he named 12 particular cardinals who would-be counselors. He had a beautiful spiritual program, which basically wanted to turn the entire world into a monastery. He was under the influence of Joachim de Fiore. And, well, he was certainly a great aesthetic, a great man of prayer, and didn’t feel like he was cut out for this job as pope. And so, this is the first instance we have of a pope who resigns. He lasted five months.
If you read Dante’s Inferno, he puts him in Hell for resigning. He calls him a coward and not just because of that act, but because of the pope that would follow him, Boniface VIII, who was, shall we just say, a colorful figure. We’ll leave it at that. Boniface VIII was kind of Dante’s enemy and so he put Celestine V in Hell and then Boniface VIII, of course, in Hell, and what do we see in all of this?
Well, that there are things that are immutable, things that are invariable. Our Lord’s Law is the same for all of us. It’s the Natural Law written on our hearts. The revelation of His Law is the same for all of us. And there are ordinary means to salvation and sanctification, namely, the sacraments, prayer, and virtue. And our embracing those ordinary means of salvation then, by degree, determined degree of sanctity, of holiness.
Nobody doubted Celestine’s holiness. He tried to escape the Italic Peninsula to Greece, but he was captured by Boniface VIII’s soldiers and he was brought back and imprisoned. Boniface was a kind of a man of machinations. And so, he was the one who convinced Celestine V that I can actually help you with canonical rules to grease the way for your abdication so that actually he can become pope, which is what he did. And then, he feared this, this man after his own ascension to the papacy and had Celestin V arrested after he tried to escape to Greece to go be a hermit where nobody knew him.
Well, for them, and for us, all of our choices reverberate through the Mystical Body of Christ and through eternity. Things we do. The things we think about in silence, in private, the things we look at, things we say, what we do, all of these things have an eternal consequence. We ought not become neurotic about it, but we ought to just be serious about the choices we make because ultimately, this variable world is passing. God and His Word are not passing. And if we found our thoughts, words, and actions on the will of God, we give Him glory and we are assured a high place in Heaven
In the Name of the Father, of the Son, the Holy Ghost. Amen
— Fr. Ermatinger