FROM A SERMON OF MONS. LEFEBVRE:
Our Lord gave us the example during His life, here on earth concerning prayer and penance. Our Lord, thought He was free from concupiscence and sin, still He indeed did penance and offered reparation for our sins, giving us example so that our penance be beneficial not only for ourselves, but also for others.
“Pray and do penance”.
Do penance in order to pray better, in order to be closer to God Almighty. That is what all the saints did, and it is what all the messages of the Blessed Virgin remind us. Would we dare to say that this need is less important in our day than it was in times past? On the contrary, we can and must affirm that today, more than ever, prayer and penance are necessary because every effort has been made to diminish and denigrate these two fundamental elements of the Christian life. Never before had the world sought to satisfy, without any limit, the disorderly instincts of the flesh, even to the point of killing millions of innocent unborn children. In these times, when even the men of the Church align themselves with the spirit of the world, we are witnesses of the disappearance of prayer and penance, particularly in their character of reparation for sins and to obtain forgiveness of sins. At the Council the bishops called for a decrease in fasting and abstinence in such a way that prescriptions have virtually disappeared.
We must recognize the fact that this disappearance is a consequence of the ecumenist and Protestant spirit that denies the need for our participation for the application of the merits of Our Lord for each one of us in the remission of our sins and the restoration of our divine filiation, that is, our character as adopted children of God.
In the past, the Church’s commandments envisioned: Mandatory fasting every day of Lent (except Sundays), the days of the Temporas and in many vigils; Abstinence every Friday of the year, on Saturdays of Lent and, in numerous dioceses, every Saturday of the year. What remained of those prescriptions was fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence for Ash Wednesday and Lent Fridays. One is surprised at the reasons for such a drastic decline. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, for they will be satisfied. Holiness is obtained through the Cross, penance and sacrifice.
If we truly seek perfection, we must follow the Way of the Cross. Let us listen, during this time of Lent, the call of Jesus and Mary, and commit ourselves to follow them in this Crusade of Prayer and Penance. May our prayers, our supplications and our sacrifices reach us from Heaven grace for those who are in places of responsibility in the Church return to the true and holy tradition, which is the only solution to revive and flourish again the institutions of the Church.