ROME, January 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, delivered a homily (read full text below) on the feast of Saint Agnes in his titular church in Rome, Sant Agnese in Agone. In it, he delivered a strong call upon Europe to return to Jesus Christ as the only Savior.
Speaking about the virgin martyr, Saint Agnes, he recalls that, already as a girl, “she knew clearly the way to distinguish between the unique and true God and the many false gods of the pagans.”
“We follow the martyrs' example” he explains, “when we do not fall back into old forms of adoration of hollow idols, their images and statues of wood, stone, and metal.
Cardinal Müller also reminds us that “the faith in gods and demons and the invocation of the elements by shamans darken the truth of salvation,” and that Jesus Christ is the “Son of God and the only Savior of the world.” Saint Agnes, with her own martyrdom, “encourages us publicly to witness to our Catholic faith here in Rome and in Europe, and without fear of men.”
He goes on to warn us against the neo-pagan theories which reject the Christian image of man as being created in the likeness of God and which therefore are “hostile toward life.”
“Christianity teaches us,” Müller continues, “that each human life is holy, from the first moment of conception until one's last breath. Hence comes the categorical 'no' to abortion and euthanasia, to sex change, and to the destruction of the family!” Thus, only in Christianity “does lie the future of Italy. Neo-paganism is her sure doom,” the prelate firmly concludes.
The curial cardinal thus is supportive more of a politician who holds up “symbolically” the Rosary than the one who “literally” takes down the crucifix. It seems to him also a vain attempt to have “dialogues with the old Scalfari, when the atheist concluded from them, and in a confused manner, that the Pope had denied the divinity of Christ.”
The German prelate makes it clear in his homily that “Italy and Europe only have a future by way of a cultural, moral, and religious renewal in the faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Through His Resurrection from the dead, he conquered hatred, sin, and death.”
Please see here the full text of the homily:
Feast of St. Agnes in Agone – Homily 21 January, 2020
by Cardinal Gerhard Müller
Young people inspire us with their gracious appearance, their athletic and academic achievements, and their openness toward the future. Some may also become the examples of their own generation. The 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden has become, in the world, the icon of the Green movement. Let us pray that the media hyperbole does not damage her.
The 12-year-old Roman girl Agnes is not a fleeting ideal of her time, but, rather, an enduring ideal of the Christian faith. Even after 1,700 years, she is not forgotten. In the whole world, Catholics admire this girl for her heroic courage, and they venerate her as a saint. The great church father Ambrose of Milan says the following about her death and her submission to God's Will: “So therefore you have in this one sacrifice a two-fold martyrdom – that of virginity and that of adoration of God: she remained a virgin, she received the crown of martyrdom.” (De virg. II, 9)
Already in childhood, she knew clearly the way to distinguish between the unique and true God and the many false gods of the pagans. The world has been created for the sake of man. It serves him as a dwelling place and a source of nourishment. Man exists for his own sake and has been created unto God [“fecisti nos ad te” St. Augustine]. Only in Him, he finds his rest. He who was created in the image and likeness of God lives in the consciousness of his dignity as son and daughter of God. We do not fear the destructive forces of nature, the ill-tempered power of fate, the wrath of tyrants. We do not exercise a cult of persons with those who are rich, beautiful, and powerful. The fame of the world passes, and all men are mortal. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
The early Christians in Rome fought with the sacrifice of their lives for the freedom of the faith in the only God, against a superior pagan force that seemed unconquerable, in its cult of the emperor, in the high culture of the learned, and in the superstitious mentality of the masses. We follow the martyrs' example when we do not fall back into old forms of adoration of hollow idols, their images and statues of wood, stone, and metal. “We will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands.” (Hos 14:3) Idolatry is not an exciting entering into exotic cultures and into their fertility rites suffused with sexual undertones. And this is so because the faith in gods and demons and the invocation of the elements by shamans darken the truth of salvation, namely, that we, through Jesus Christ, were “set free from bondage to decay and obtained the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:21)
To their own detriment, many contemporaries have now forgotten – or consciously cut off – their Christian roots. Now they again absolutize, in a neo-pagan replacement religion, the cosmos, our planet, evolution, the world wide web, technology. They act as if these passing realities could somehow give man the final foundation and stronghold. In such pagan foolishness, they congratulate themselves for the purported scientific insight that man, indeed, is merely an animal and that after death everything ends. They make fun of our witness to the unchangeable dignity of man. They consider the resurrection of the flesh to be a fairy tale, even though already reason tells us that nature does not produce anything in vain. Does the Creator of nature bring forth man in vain, and should He instill in him the continuous search for truth and the unquenchable thirst for happiness, only in order to make a fool out of him?
With the blood of her young life, Saint Agnes gave witness to Christ, the Son of God and the only Savior of the world. She encourages us publicly to witness to our Catholic faith here in Rome and in Europe, and without fear of men. The faith of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul is the root of the culture which reaches from Rome and Italy into all of Europe and which has given her her Christian identity. Only in Christianity does lie the future of Italy. Neo-paganism is her sure doom. It is a vain effort to have dialogues with the old Scalfari, when the atheist concluded from them, and in a confused manner, that the Pope had denied the divinity of Christ. Because, what else makes the Roman bishop the Pope of the entire Catholic Church if not solely his witnessing, with Saint Peter, by day and night: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. ” (Mt 16:16).
It is better when Catholics work together with all those who are intellectually and morally capable to bear responsibility for the economic, political, cultural, and religious future of Europe. The only source, from which flows the pure water for a revival of the Eternal City and of all of Italy is the Christian image of man. A politician who holds up symbolically the Rosary is more to be trusted than one who literally takes down the Cross of Christ.
The neo-paganism denies that each man is created in the likeness of God and therefore neo-paganism is hostile toward life. Christianity teaches us that each human life is holy, from the first moment of conception until one's last breath. Hence comes the categorical “no” to abortion and euthanasia, to sex change, and to the destruction of the family! For a Christian, the political ideologies of right and left are not what counts. He does not allow himself to be seduced by neo-pagan natural religions, nor does he let himself be blinded by atheism in its neo-liberal and neo-marxist colorations. A mature Catholic is not in need of instructions as to which democratic politician he may elect or not. He who believes in God, knows only one Commandment: the love of God and of neighbor.
Italy and Europe only have a future by way of a cultural, moral, and religious renewal in the faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Through His Resurrection from the dead, he conquered hatred, sin, and death. And in the Sign of His Cross, there exists also a resurrection of Catholic Italy (risorgimento cattolico). Saint Agnes, pray God for your Romans, for Catholic Italy, and for a Christian Europe, Amen.