Good Shepherd Sunday: Deliver Us From Schismatic Pastors, Supplication to St. Michael
(From “The Liturgical Year,” by Dom Gueranger, O.S.B., (Vol. 8, Paschal Time, Bk. 2)
In his commentary on Good Shepherd Sunday, Dom Gueranger stresses first the primacy of Peter, and the conferring of the keys to him by Christ. He brings out the fact, little known and appreciated today, that it was following the Resurrection — and not at the time Christ announced to Peter that he was changing his name from Simon (“I WILL build My Church,” future tense) — that the papacy was actually bestowed. This we know from the infallible teaching of the Vatican Council: “And upon Simon Peter alone Jesus AFTER HIS RESURRECTION conferred the jurisdiction of the highest pastor and rector over His entire fold, saying, ‘Feed My lambs…feed My sheep,’ (John 21: 15; DZ 1822).”
Dom Gueranger writes, “After saying to him, ‘Thou art Peter,’ (that is, ‘thou art the rock’), he added: ‘And upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Let us weigh the force of these words of the Son of God: ‘I will build my Church.’ He has then a project in view — he intends to ‘build a Church.’ It is not now that He will build it but at some future period…’And the gates of hell shall not prevail against My Church.’ …The foundation that Jesus gives to it shall be one that no power can shake.” And whether we can see that this is the case or not, this is what we must believe; because as St. Paul tells us, faith itself is belief in those things we cannot see. It is no coincidence that for this Sunday, Rev. Goffine in his “The Ecclesiastical Year,” stresses the virtue of hope “especially in time of tribulation and temptation against this virtue,” and encourages us “to bear in patience crosses, adversities, and even unjust persecutions. How otherwise could we be true sheep of this Good Shepherd, if at the least suffering, at the scoffs and mockeries which men cast at us, we should become angry and revengeful, and seek to retaliate with the like?” In his commentary on the Gospel for this Sunday, Dom Gueranger continues:
“Be thou blessed O divine Shepherd! for Thy having thus provided for the necessities of Thy fold, which could not be one were it to have many shepherds without one supreme shepherd. In obedience to thy command, we bow down before Peter with love and submission; we respectfully kiss his sacred feet; for it is by him that we are thy sheep. Preserve us O Jesus, in the fold of Peter which is Thine. Keep us far from the hireling, who usurps the place and rights of the shepherd. He has intruded himself or has been intruded by violence into the fold, and would have us take him as the Master; but he knows not the sheep and the sheep do not know him. Led not by zeal, but by avarice and ambition, he flieth at the approach of danger. He that governs through worldly motives is not a man to lay down his life for others. The schismatic pastor loves himself; he does not love Thy sheep; how could he give his life for them?
“Protect us O Jesus from this hireling! He would separate us from thee by separating us from Peter, whom Thou hast appointed Thy vicar; and we are determined to recognize no other. ANATHEMA TO HIM WHO WOULD COMMAND US IN THY NAME, AND YET NOT BE SENT BY PETER! And yet such a pastor could be but an impostor; he would not rest on the foundation; he would not have the keys of the kingdom of heaven; to follow him would be our ruin. Grant then Good Shepherd Jesus! that we may ever keep close to Thee and St. Peter; that as he rests upon thee we may rest upon him; and thus we may defy every tempest, for Thou, dear Lord, has said: ‘A wise man built his house upon a rock; and the rains fell, and the flood came and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house and it fell not; for it was founded on a ROCK.”
Besides being Mother’s Day, today also is the feast of the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel, who Dom Gueranger says “watches over Jesus’ spouse our Mother, he supports her in her trials and she wins no triumph in which he has not had some part…He wields the sword in defense of the Spouse of Christ; he wars with the dragon, who is ever lying in wait for the Woman and her Child; but at the same time he is attentive to each one of US.” It is St. Michael who cried to Satan: “Who is like unto God?” and it is this very cry we hurl back at those hirelings who dare to present themselves as Christ’s ambassadors, “other Christs,” one of many false shepherds not possessing the keys; not sent by the Good Shepherd and his Vicar. To them all we join in crying ANATHEMA! In his prayer to St. Michael for this day, Dom Gueranger writes:
“Guardian Angel of Holy Church! Now is the time for thee to exert all the might of thine arm. Satan is furious in his efforts against the noble Spouse of thy Master; brandish thou bright sword and give battle to this implacable enemy. The kingdom of Christ is shaken to its very foundations. Is it that the reign of the Man of Sin is about to be proclaimed on earth? Are we near that last day when this guilty world is to be destroyed by fire and thou art to exercise, in the name of the Solemn Judge, the terrible office of separating the goats from the sheep? If this earth is still to exist; if the mission of the Church is not yet completed; is it not time for thee O Michael! to show the dragon of hell that he may not, with impunity, insult on this earth the God who created it, who redeemed it, and whose name is King of kings, and Lord of lords? The forces of error and crime are increasingly dragging world to the brink of the precipice; save it, O glorious Archangel, by confounding the dark plots which are laid for its destruction!
“Watch over us O holy Archangel, lest [at the hour of our death] we should not then deserve thy protection. The dragon is ever threatening us; he makes no secret of his wish to devour us. Teach us, O Michael, to repeat thy beautiful words, ‘Who is like unto God?’ God’s honor, the rights He has over us, our obligation to be faithful to Him, and serve Him, and confess to Him as our Lord in all times and in all places — yes! These thoughts must be our shield in danger and the armour wherewith we must fight, like thee, and win the battle. But we need the sturdy courage which resulted from the love thou hadst within thee. Oh! Pray for us, that we, too, may love our common Lord and Master; then shall we be invincible. Satan cannot make head against a creature that is filled with the love of the great God…Strengthen this love in our hearts, and since we are fighting under thy leadership, guide us, inspirit us; let thy look give us courage; ward off from us the blows of the enemy’s sword.”