Abbe Faria’s Sermon (English)

Happiness!

If there is any merit, of which we are worthy, with which we can represent the College, or if by means of rhetoric, whether by using the arts of elocution and by training, Most Holy Father, it is convenient to remember what you have done from the beginning of your Pontificate, and claim it as your right. We owe you praise and thanks because of immortal things of the Apostolic See.

We know how much we have received from the Pontiffs, what we have to do with grateful heart, day and night, remembering also that you have been unanimously elected by the vote of the Fathers, chosen by divine counsel, accepted with voices and applause of the citizens and strangers, who are here gathered. We too express our joy, jubilation and gratefulness.

We were being led also by the fame of your virtues, that was being known by the people, and increased so much that it spread throughout the world.

How much power of intelligence did you not reveal, in such a short time, with such an abundance of your writings?

How much fidelity in your statements? How much integrity in dealing with the public affairs?

Your attributes are too great to be admired by us or by anyone else, we shall evaluate them unjustly, but there are other great realities that are inherent to the highest degree of Priesthood, that others could not achieve and offer to the society.

The attributes that we have mentioned a little above, like intelligence, doctrine, justice, integrity, belong to the Pontiff and are common to the Emperors and to the Princes.

But the concern for the Church, the zeal for the glory of God, that we have admired in you, from the beginning of your Pontificate, belongs to the honour and holiness proper to the Pontiff.

We are moved by these qualities, and consider them above all other qualities, and we congratulate you for the dignity of your Pontifical task, as the Pontiff of the Universal Church.

Desiring to have a monument of such homage, we are happy to have such an occasion, as we have just surmised before, through the favour of God, and through your kindness, that having celebrated the Coming of the Divine Spirit with liturgical ceremonies, in the beginning of our Academic Year, we offer in the name of the whole College our wishes of gratitude towards you.

You have, Holy Father, in this first effort of our Institution, the conflated homage of men, and of people, who are praying for your happiness, and will consider it as a reward, if they know that you have received it graciously.

SPEECH

If in investigating the divine mysteries, Holy Father, we could not hope to achieve above the narrow limits of our human mind, I could have thought it to be misery of our condition rather than boldness of discussing.

Who is endowed with such a strength of mind and philosophical training that can understand what is so far from our senses, who can perceive what is hidden, and deepen such a gamut of mysteries and embrace them with mind? God dwells in an inaccessible light, and his mysteries are so far from the human mind, that their intelligence cannot reach out through efforts to such a truth and splendour of God’s glory and majesty.

But the human race would have been buried for ever in such a miserable condition, if there had not arisen a new light through God’s Spirit, that would not only shine but even add heavenly power to our minds, so that we can see better. The Spirit of God himself who examines everything, even the mysteries of God, that were far from us, brought close to us, and with his light, as Leo the Great said, made as a Sun shining in the darkness.

Endowed with this light we are able to understand, prepared to enjoy what belongs to the kernel of religion, nothing is far, when the Spirit leads us, nothing so deep that cannot be perceived by our mind and spirit.

We recall that the spiritual strength has been spread far and wide, today we celebrate mainly, as last year it was said in this place about the function of Wisdom, what is required by the gifts, may be in their praise. What the divine Dispenser has given us may lead us to praise him.

What else can be thought, deeper than the intelligence, more pleasant than the teaching of God, that is given to us by the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit improves our hardened minds, and guides our intelligence: manifests the illusions of our senses, shows the fallacies, and by eradicating all our false opinions and arguments, furnishes our mind with right principles of divine reason, so that our mind may adhere to the transmitted doctrine.

In this light what is dissonant with mysteries? What is ambiguous in guiding our customs and mores? How much do we understand of God’s nature, that is beyond the limits of our mind? What is that, though it cannot be well understood by thought, yet does not contradict the reason?

We perceive in God the number, the truth of one substance is not removed, yet we recognize the singularity of one substance, that is not increased with the threefold number of the persons. We know the God who became man, who did not cease to be God, but neither do we think that he failed to be man–it did not decrease from God’s perfection…

We think frequently all these things and many more in our mind, when we recollect with joy, pleasure and flavour the understanding that is given to us by the divine Spirit. What shall I say about the world, where we live? What about the knowledge of the visible things?

Are we not thinking that, with the advice of the Spirit, all these things are adapted for the good of men by the Great Good God, as nothing is more beautiful for sight, so nothing better could be thought for our benefit?

For us the earth is clothed with flowers, for us the herbs grow, for us the trees bear fruits, which we receive by inheritance, we enjoy the sky, the fields, the cities, ours are the rivers, ours the lakes, even the domination of Man over the sea, and of the winds because of the skill of the nautical art, and many other utilities of sea.

All these things indeed cannot be generated nor fed, nor conserved, nor bear any fruit by themselves, without the power and care of God, so we relate all these things to God and to the good of men, and see all these things prepared by the Intelligence of the Spirit for the sake of Man, we have no doubt that all has been created for the sake of men.

Whether you dwell in the cities, whether you are engrossed by the beauty of the fields, whether you go down from earth to the sea, or are brought from the sea to the earth, filled with this Spirit you will discover the generosity and magnanimity of God, that is seen in various ways everywhere, and follows often the ungrateful and the fleeing.

Contemplating all these things, is it possible that the human spirit does not accept the love of divine power, and offer willingly homage to him, who, as it was said by Chrysostom, created man on earth, so that he could be in heaven? However, if any thing adverse happens (in fact many things happen and frequently), the same Spirit of God comes as a companion of pious men in their perils and trials, commands us to be magnanimous, and shows us, as if by a finger, that there will be a time, when after trials and tempests we shall be swimming for some time, and led to the harbour of immortality and serene place of peace we shall rejoice in heart and mind.

With this hope already, from this lowest part of the world, where we dwell, we see heaven and, having been tossed over for long time and intensely by the river of Babylon, we propose Jerusalem as a beginning of our joy. The Spirit of God does not allow us to be without happiness, who tests with hardships in this exile, and through continual struggle prepares us for triumph.

When the happiness of Saints in heaven will consist in the fact that we receive the knowledge of God from the wonderful source itself, and are realized with the most beautiful mirror of divine realities, better than that nothing can happen, nothing more pleasant, the same Spirit of God will help us mortals to be eager for the condition of heavenly souls through the understanding of the heavenly intelligence, and with infinite amplitude, as Epiphanius stated, understanding the profound realities of God, we may contemplate his majesty as if it is before our eyes.

I was thinking of the darkness and opacity of divine realities in my mind, when at the very outset of my Speech I stated that there was in the teaching of the Religion nothing more profound that would be of interest for us to know, and thus by force of Intelligence, with which we are divinely instructed, we could not know clearly. In fact, what is more hidden than the divine nature? What is more immense than divine majesty? What is more sublime than his perfection?

But with the teaching of the divine Spirit we touch God’s nature, we embrace with our spirit the greatness of God, we examine his perfection, and as the great Bishop of Seville (city of Spain, old Hispal) has written at that time, we are taught ineffable realities, that human language cannot utter. We come to know the Father, who generates the Son, the Son who is not inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit who receives from both, and yet he is not inferior to neither of them in dignity.

But I would not have words, nor time, if I wanted to mention all that is perceived through heavenly intelligence by those who have received so much light of divine function in their thought and spirit.

Could a debate, in which in the past our ancestors did not try to study the truth, or did not publicly discuss Christian matters, be rare? Discussion with Gnostics, Novatian, Manichee, Donatus, Arius shows how our ancestors have confronted the enemies, and blandly with the simple and aggressively with the militant, having been instructed by the Spirit of God, could understand the sacred scriptures.

Justin is the witness, who, having shunned the superstitions of the people, has studied the true philosophy.

Irenaeus is the witness, who has progressed in intelligence, so as to refute the heresies with the help of the knowledge of those who preceded him.

Athanasius is the witness who had to suffer persecution on the part of the heretics, but was strengthened by the Intelligence, so that he never feared nor was deceived.

We have as witnesses so many others, like Nazianzen, Basilius, Chrysostom, Cyril, who had to struggle with the Arians and Macedonians, and with Nestorius, with courage, they were not confused with the darkness of these people, but brought light to the human race.

Witness is, likewise, Augustine, who has discussed with the heretics, argued with them, refuted their arguments, more than other have read or heard. But without going further, we have the witness of the See of Peter, that is the guardian of truth, and God has given it the authority, the Magisterium, with the light of the Spirit, has overcome the errors of the Montanists, Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, and of so many others.

But why am I mentioning the past? It is even today the task of the Roman See to fight the battle of the Lord, to defend the doctrine of Christ, received with divine authority, not to defend the doctrine of men.

God has chosen her, and has strengthened through the Spirit of Intelligence, so that she could give us light and show us the way to eternal happiness.

We who belong to the one Church of Christ, we are instructed in true piety, we receive from this source the Spirit of Intelligence, and even if we are being driven by our passions, we are led to enquire, to see, and to perceive with mind and thought, through the Grace of the divine Spirit.

*Abbe Faria

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