Another Lataste Sermon

Thanks to Sister Pia Elizabeth, O.P., here is another of Pere Lataste's sermons translated.


Preaching by Fr. Lataste to prisoners of Cadillac, during the retreat he preached in 1864 is radically different of what the clerics used to do then in jails. Instead of insisting on the guilt and the crimes of those women, the preacher calls them to love God in their actual situation, just like sisters living in silence, work and enclosure.

Mary Magdalen (5) uses to express her repentance and her love to Christ, the very ways she used to sin and offer to poor creatures her criminal passions: her perfumes, her kisses, her hair (6)…She uses them to serve the Saviour; and she purifies her sultry ways in this sacred relation. That is the way to act. Nothing good comes from other than God and He gave us all that allows us to love Him. Men often make evil with these graces coming from God; yourselves were blessed maybe with those graces: youth, health, maybe some social advantages, maybe a blazing soul open to noble and admirable feelings, a penetrating cleverness, able to understand and enjoy the strong and great joys of piety and faith…and all the gifts of God you abused against God himself.

What is there for you to do now, as you decided to convert yourselves?- Will you try to get rid of all things because they were used to sin, will you damn your youth, your health, your blazing soul, will you try to kill your heart and imprison your brains…No, no, a thousand times no; without mentioning that you could some way eschew that goal, this is not what God asks of you- All what you were given, you were given by God and He wants you to use them for doing good.

Divert all to Him, spend your resources now to serve and love Him, spend them to expiate your sins and make Him forget the past, spend the strength of your age, the activity of your soul, its light, the full tenderness of your heart- Obey the words of the apostle: don’t transform your limbs into limbs of unfairness; but give yourselves to God and, now become alive, as before you were dead, devote your limbs to Him as to make them weapons of justice and sanctity, to serve Him.

And as you employed all your body for the service of impurity and iniquity, employ it now to serve justice, for you to become saints. Follow the example of Magdalen, and dedicate to God what you were given of life, what is good in you; all that you employed for the sole benefit of passion and sin!

And what will happen if you act that way. Here what will happen:

You, disdained and despised by men, either because of your ancient and exposed crimes, or because of an infamous and heavy judgement, you disdained and despised by men, you will be the beloved of God, the preferred children, the blessed souls of the Saviour. Men would not make friends with you, and God, yes God, welcomes you and offers you His friendship. Seeing you, the world would say: poor women, poor girls, they are rejected from society, garbage and scum of the people; and by looking at you with love, your guardian angels will say: blessed souls, poor, miserable and humiliated by the world, these souls keep as a secret and a mystery in their heart, the greatest treasure, the most immense glory, the sweetest joy: they are loved by their God.

One would believe those women soiled, but no, they regained in the tears of their repentance a new innocence, one would believe them devoid of benevolent action, but their daily pains, suffered in a spirit of love and repentance, are written in the Book of Life and will be remembered one day- One thinks they are not free, even if their soul was a slave in a free body; today their bodies live in chains, but they found for their souls the safe freedom of the children of God.

The world despises them but they are loved by God. Jesus loves them most. Yes, don’t doubt, He loves them most. Didn’t I tell you yesterday what our Lord told Himself: there is more joy in heaven and so, more love in the heart of God, for one sinful and remorseful soul than for ninety-nine unrepentant souls.

Indeed this is a brave and hazardous idea, hard to believe, but don’t doubt, it is sure and certain. Yes, if you would, you could arrive with a dark past, and be loved by God more than the sinless souls. Do you know how? By loving Him more. Oh! Innocence, purity, humility are dear to His heart and having lost them one time, one moment, is a great misery, but what God loves more than those virtues, is to be loved!

(5) Homely 95, pronounced on Saturday evening 17th September 1864 in the Cadillac prison. Complete text in “Preacher for charity”, Paris, Cerf publisher, 1992, 123-136.

(6) Like many preachers at that time, Fr. Lataste sees Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalena and the sinner of Simon’s are one and only woman.

Source: Blackfriars Province of France, ed. br. Jean-Marie Gueulette, op, Vice-Postulator of the canonization cause of Pere Lataste


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