All prayers used in this calendar are from sources with imprimaturs prior to 1958. Most of them well before that date.
If anyone wishes to view and/or download and print our family calendar you can find it below or in our downloads here. Please note: This is not an official calendar of the Catholic Church. It was put together by a lay person for her own family using the Saint Andrew Daily Missal - Imprimatur 1951, The Catholic Girls Guide - Imprimatur 1908 and With God - Imprimatur 1911 and the Blessed Be God Prayer book - Imprimatur 1925. If you would please bring any mistakes to my attention at: firstname.lastname@example.org, I would appreciate it! God bless you all!
All prayers used in this calendar are from sources with imprimaturs prior to 1958. Most of them well before that date.
In honor of our Guardian Angels I wish to share some handwriting sheets with various prayers to the Guardian Angels. You can find them under downloads - Catholic Homeschool - handwriting. Look under the month of October for a variety of Angel handwriting projects.
We should often think of them, place confidence in them, and pray to them. We owe to our guardian angels reverence, confidence and gratitude. It is God himself who commands us to show reverence for our guardian angels. "Behold," said our Lord to Moses, "I will send my angel who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned, for my name is in him." (Exod. xxiii, 21.) Of such excellence and dignity is the guardian angel, that he is the vivid expression of the Divinity. He is the first ray of God's beauty, the first work of his hands, the first production of his omnipotence, the first masterpiece of his wisdom. St. John, upon seeing him, fell prostrate to adore him, thinking he was the Son of God himself.
St. Anselm assures us that, if an angel could make himself visible in all his glory in place of the sun, the light of the latter would altogether disappear in the light and splendor of the angel. The majesty of a mortal king impresses respect on all those who approach him: with what reverence, then, should we not be filled in the presence of this prince of heaven ! Now, the best manner of showing this reverence in presence of our guardian angels is, as the catechism says, often to think of them, often to remember their presence. "Wherever you may be," says St. Bernard, "in the church, at home, on a journey, in public or private places, your angel is near you. Do not do before him what you would not dare to do before me."
To reverence, we must join confidence in our guardian angels. We should show confidence in their protection. If we had a friend who appeared to us the most enlightened, the most faithful, and the most powerful of all men, what confidence would we place in him ! Now, such friends are the guardian angels, says St. Bernard: "They are wise, faithful and powerful." They cannot be deceived, drawing, as they do, their light from God himself. Much less can they deceive us. They are friends of tried fidelity. Their power is beyond conception. One of them alone can do more for our salvation than all the demons can do to ruin us. One of the chief duties towards the guardian angels which is neglected almost by all men, is the duty of gratitude for the numberless blessings, spiritual and temporal, which God bestows upon us by his holy angels.
After the angel of the Hebrew people had divided the waters of the Red Sea; to make a dry passage for them, he continued to assist them, by the order of God, until he had introduced them into the land of promise. It is thus that our guardian angels act towards us. After we have escaped, by the waters of baptism, the powers of hell, these zealous and charitable protectors accompany us through the dreary desert of this life which we must traverse to arrive at the abode of eternal happiness. Sometimes, like a refreshing cloud, our guardian angels temper the ardor of our passions sometimes, like a column of fire, they enlighten us in
the night of sin. If necessary, they let fall the manna of heavenly consolations, to sweeten the bitter waters of penitence and afflictions of our lives. They make us hear the law of God, and endeavor to engrave it on the living table of our hearts. It is to the Lord, it is true, that we are indebted for all these blessings ; for we would not have guardian angels, had not our dear Lord given them to us." He hath given his angels charge over thee." Glory to God who gave them this command ! But we owe, also, much to those who execute it, especially as they unite to their obedience an admirable charity. If they had a life to offer, and blood to shed, for our salvation, they would willingly give up all. Let us never be ungrateful towards such friends. How should we be grateful to them ? By listening to their words and following their inspirations ; by avoiding what would wound the sanctity of their presence ; by practicing the virtues so dear to them : purity, humility, zeal, charity, and conformity to the will of God. "If thou wilt hear his voice," said the Lord to Moses, "and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and I will afflict them that afflict thee." (Exod. xxiiii, 22.)
Finally, we should also pray to our guardian angels. The good angels often intercede for us, and obtain for us many graces through their prayers. The Patriarch Jacob entreated most earnest the angel with whom he had wrestled, that he would give him his blessing (Gen. xxxii, 26) ; and on his death-bed he prayed the angel who had conducted and protected him, to bless his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasses. (Gen. xlviii, 16.) The Prophet Daniel was informed in his visions how vigorously the guardian angel of Persia interposed in favor of that country, and what good offices St. Michael and other angels did for the Jews, in removing obstacles which retarded their return from the captivity. The Angel Gabriel told Daniel that he had exerted his efforts for this purpose in Persia twenty-one days, and that St. Michael, the prince or guardian of the Jews, came to his help (Dan. x, 13), so that they conquered the impediments. The Angel Gabriel added : "From the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up that he might be strengthened and confirmed" (Dan. xi, 1), viz.: to promote the deliverance of God's people. The
same prophet, speaking of the cruel persecution of Antiochus, says : "At that time Michael shall rise up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people." (Dan. xii, 1.) This implies that St. Michael would support the Machabees, and other defenders of God's people, whose protector he was, by standing up for them, that is, by praying for them.
The Prophet Zacharias was favored with a vision of angels, in the seventieth year of the desolation of Jerusalem. The prophet saw an angel (probably St. Michael), in the shape of a man, standing in a grove of myrtle trees ; and several angels, the guardians of other princes, came to him and said : "We have walked through the earth, and behold, all the earth is inhabited, and is at rest." Then the angel made this prayer : "Lord of hosts ! how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Juda, with which thou hast been angry ? This is now the seventieth year." (Zach. i, 12.) The Lord answered his prayer: he told the angel that he would return to Jerusalem in mercy, and that his house should be built in it. From these examples, and other passages of Holy Scripture, it is clear that the good angels pray for us. The Church has always invoked the holy angels and paid religious honor to them ; and teaches that it is an article of faith that their patronage is piously invoked.
Let us entertain a great devotion to our guardian angels. We read, in the lives of many saints, that their lively faith and tender devotion towards their guardian angels obtained for them the grace of seeing and conversing familiarly with them. We find this especially in the lives of St. Camillus, St. Philip Neri, St. Frances of Rome, St. Rose of Lima, St. Lidwina of Holland. If we recommend ourselves often to them, we shall experience their ardent charity, their wonderful protection, and the miraculous effects of their prayers on many occasions. The great Prophet Isaias had no sooner complained that his lips were defiled, than a seraph purified them with a burning coal from the altar. (Isa. vi.) If the blessings which God has bestowed upon every one through his guardian angel were to be written down, they would fill a large volume. These blessings will become greater and far more numerous from the time that we begin to be more grateful and more devout to the guardian angel. Often repeat this prayer, indulgenced by Pius VI and Pius VII : "Holy angel, to whose care I am committed, enlighten, protect, direct, and govern me this day !"
Source: The Apostles Creed, by Father Michael Muller, Imprimatur 1880
October 2nd - Guardian Angels
Your Guardian Angel is your companion and your friend. He is given to you at the first moment of existence and stays with you to the end. He inspires you with good and holy thoughts. He protects you from many dangers and accidents, and assists you in a thousand ways throughout your life. The Angels are most desirous to be our friends and they love us with all the intensity of their angelic natures. "He hath given His Angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Psalm 91).
The Angels are pure spirits, mighty Princes of Heaven who stand before God. They are burning fires of love, filled with the plenitude of happiness. No two Angels are alike and there are too many to be numbered. All of them are indescribably beautiful. "Thousands and thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him" (Dan 7:10).
St. Frances of Rome saw her own Angel. She said the splendor of her Angel dimmed the light of the sun and moon and stars in comparison. Often she could read her prayers by the light of her Angel. When the Angel rolled back the stone from the holy sepulcher, Sacred Scriptures says that the countenance of the Angel was like lightning and his clothes white as snow. His appearance was so full of majesty that the soldiers at the tomb were terrified and could not look at him. "For an Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow" (Matt 28: 2,3).
Angelic intelligence is immeasurably superior to our own. We plod from truth to truth, studying, steadily investigating in order to understand a topic, but they understand the entire subject at a single glance. In that same glance, they immediately see all the nuances and consequences of a particular action. It is easy to see how important their assistance would be for us, who need help in making decisions each day of our lives.
There are angels in Heaven and also on earth, each with different jobs to do. Nations, cities, families, towns - all have their special Angels. St Thomas Aquinas teaches us that there are Angels that guide the stars, the moon, the sun, and the planets, keeping everything in harmony according to God's plan. Scripture tells us of the Angels that perform duties that some attribute to chance.
It was an Angel that gave its medicinal quality to the pool at Bethesda; an Angel generated the fires on Mount Sinai; the thunder and lightning were the work of Angels; and in the Apocalypse we read of the Angels restraining the winds. Thus, we learn that the course of nature, so marvelous and at times so fearful, is moved by these unseen beings.
Angels act as messengers as in the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary, or as protectors as when Archangel Raphael helped to guide young Tobias on a dangerous journey, or as avengers as when God sent an Angel who killed 70,000 Egyptians in one night as a punishment for the Pharaoh not releasing the Hebrews from slavery.
They are also powerful protectors against the tricks of the devil. They will fight by your side and inspire you on how to resist the temptations of the devil. "Be sober and watch: because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5: 8). The Angels protect us from falling into temptations and avert natural disasters from befalling us - often the person never even realizes the tragedy he narrowly missed.
It is interesting to note that at the time of the Renaissance, Angels began to be portrayed as fat, sweet babies with wings. This artistic style continues to our day. It is a shame for such militant warriors to be reduced to these weak, infantile representations. In the mind of the viewer, the role of the Angel as protector and avenger fades away, replaced by a different idea. It is a subtle way of gradually changing the notion of the principle that life is a war between good and evil with the agents of each side fighting to win the souls of men. There is no spirit of fight in the fat baby angels - in fact, they are so smiling and happy that it appears nothing is amiss in their world.
And yet, there are many incidences in the lives of the Saints that show the militant, protective mission of the Angels toward men. St John Bosco, for example, was a man who fought vigorously against the Waldensian heresy. Many of the heretics hated him for his unrelenting fight and tried to kill him many times. During this dangerous period of his life, a large grey dog appeared and would accompany him as he walked the streets of the city, fighting off any attackers. When the danger passed, the dog disappeared. In his writings, Don Bosco called this dog Grigio [Grey], and he believed that it was an angelic intervention protecting him so many times over a period of 30 years.
Angels also reflect God's goodness, kindness, and generosity. He gave us these Angels to "level out the playing field." Man by himself is no match for the wily Devil, a fallen angel that still retains all his intellectual prowess and powers. Without some kind of supernatural help, we would be certain to make many mistakes, some irreparable.
God in His goodness gave us Angels. Knowing this, wouldn't it be foolish to ignore our Guardian Angels and not ask often for their help?
"Ask us and we will give you a share of all our treasures, all our graces, all our happiness," they seem to say. The only thing standing between us and these benefits is our forgetfulness of these wonderful beings.
A prayer to one's Guardian Angel by St. Gertrude:
O most Holy Angel of God, appointed by Him to be my guardian, I give thee thanks for all the benefits which thou hast ever bestowed on me in body and in soul. I praise and glorify thee that thou didst condescend to assist me with such patient fidelity, and to defend me against all the assault of my enemies. Blessed be the hour in which thou wast assigned me for my guardian, my defender, and my patron. In acknowledgment and return of all thy loving ministries to me from my youth up, I offer thee the infinitely precious and noble Heart of Jesus, and firmly purpose to obey thee henceforth, and most faithfully to serve my God. Amen.
God is so very good to give us His Guardian Angels to help and guide us! What a loving Father he is!!!
O HOLY ANGEL, whom God, by the effect of His goodness and His tender regard for my welfare, has charged with the care of my conduct, and who assists me in all my wants and comforts me in all my afflictions, who supports me when I am discouraged and continually obtains for me new favors, I return thee profound thanks, and I earnestly beseech thee, O most amiable protector, to continue thy charitable care and defense of me against the malignant attacks of all my enemies. Keep me away from all occasions of sin. Obtain for me the grace of listening attentively to thy holy inspirations and of faithfully putting them into practice, In particular, I implore thee to obtain for me the relief and deliverance of all the Souls in Purgatory, the ones who prayed for the Souls themselves while still on earth; the forgotten and abandoned Souls; the souls of my relatives and friends; the souls of priests and religious; the souls of all those to whom I am obligated by charity to pray for and may have neglected by laxity in memory; and most especially for the Soul I here name in this novena.
[Mention the person or think of him.]
Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life. but most especially at the hour of my death, and do not leave me until thou hast conducted me into the presence of my creator in the mansions of everlasting happiness. Amen.
In honor of our wonderful Guardian Angels feast day we have uploaded some lovely coloring pictures. We hope you enjoy coloring them. Don't forget to thank your Guardian Angel for all that he does for you.
All coloring pictures are copyrighted by Crusaders-for-Christ.com
As always our handwriting downloads are FREE for anyone to print and bind themselves and they can find them here. I have had many ask for printed versions and so I have decided to offer printed copies of Saintly ABC's - Our Preschool Letter Recognition and Printing Practice, Catechism in Rhyme, Handwriting with the Saints and the Stabat Mater in both Printing and Handwriting. They are now available to purchase and you can find them here. You can view each of these books in their entirety on our handwriting page.
God bless you all!
My dear Children : "Give an account of thy stewardship." With these words we shall be greeted when we leave this world and appear before Jesus Christ in the world to come. What will we have to say when we have to stand before One who knows even our most secret thoughts? No wonder that the saints lived so piously, no wonder that they mortified themselves continuously. Many saints, like Gregory the Great, Lidwina, Teresa, were afflicted with bodily infirmities all their lives and they bore them patiently. St. Aloysius, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia began already from an early age to prepare for the last hour of their lives.
Towards the middle of the fifteenth century a young man went to the gate of a Carthusian monastery not far from Gand, and asked to be admitted as a monk. His name was Peter of Dume. The superior received him with great kindness, and after the usual probation gave him the habit of the Order. He persevered in his vocation till his happy death, which took place in the year 1490. During all the many years he spent in that monastery he was never seen to smile, and an unwonted earnestness accompanied every one of his actions. It was a long time before the superior discovered the cause of this; but, being commanded to make it known to him, the monk in virtue of obedience, related to him the reason of it in these words:
"I was passing through that part of the country which is watered by the deep river Escaut, and in crossing over it I fell into the water, and sank to the bottom. I felt that I was drowning, and That in a few moments I should be in eternity. I at once was seized with great fear as I thought of the terrible judgment of God which I was soon to undergo, especially as I was thus called out of life so suddenly without time to make any preparation. I thought of Mary my Mother in Heaven, and I prayed to her. 'O Mary, Our Lady of Good Help, come to my assistance’ I said to her. My prayer was not in vain. At that same moment I felt myself lifted from the bottom of the river and laid upon the bank. I fell upon my knees to thank God. Then I took the resolution to spend the rest of my life in preparing myself for a happy death, and on that very day I came to this house, that I might immediately begin to fulfill my resolution. I also at the same time resolved to spend the remainder of my days in the service of Mary, to show my gratitude to her for her maternal protection, and for having saved me from certain death." The holy religious was little known by men, for it was his continual prayer that he should live unknown to the world.
Sometimes, children, you will hear the Church speak of the first and second coming of the Son of God. His first coming was when He came into the world as a little babe, and was born in the stable at Bethlehem. His coming then was in the midst of poverty, suffering and neglect. But His second coming which will be at the end of the world, to judge mankind, will be in power, majesty, and glory. Our Blessed Lord, therefore, will come to judge us all at the end of the world, but He will also judge each of us at the moment of our death. On the day of general judgment the justice of God will be made manifest to everyone. It often happens in this life that the good are poor, persecuted and despised, while the wicked are rich, prosperous, and held in honor and esteem by the world. Thus if we looked no further than the present life, it might seem to some, who do not bear in mind that the peace of a good conscience and the happiness of a virtuous life are far beyond all worldly advantages, as if the wicked rather than the good, are the favorites of Heaven. It will then be seen that the short sufferings of this life, borne with patience for the love of God, have secured for the good an eternity of happiness ; while the false pleasures and sinful enjoyments of the wicked are the cause of their eternal damnation.
Aripart, King of the Lombards, when dissatisfaction broke out in his army, wished to flee into France. He could not bear the thought, however, to leave his treasures behind and therefore took as much gold as he could carry, and fled at night. He was obliged to swim the river Tessino, but the great quantity of gold which he carried frustrated all his exertions, the weight of the precious metal dragged him to the bottom, and he met his death in the water. Thus he who lets his heart cling to gold and the temporal goods this world, is drawn into the abyss of hell.
My dear boys and girls, after your soul has left your body it must appear before Jesus Christ. Christ will be its judge, for to Him the Father has committed the judgment. Christ has been to the soul until its departure a God of love and mercy, and has bestowed on it countless graces. But now He stands before it in another character; now He is its judge, who regards not the person of man, who demands an account of every idle word, who has the power and the will to condemn the impenitent sinner. When Joseph in Egypt made himself known to his brothers and said: "I am Joseph whom you sold," his brothers could not answer him,being struck with exceeding great fear. I leave it to yourselves to judge what anguish and terror must seize the guilty soul when on a sudden it sees itself placed in the presence of an angry judge. "That moment," says St. Basil, "will be to it more painful than all the pains of hell."
Ask yourselves :
Do I love God above all things, and do I show it by this, that I would rather suffer all evils, even death, than offend God by a mortal sin ?
Do I raise my heart frequently to God ?
Do I love to pray?
Do I frequently receive the sacraments?
Do I mean well by everybody?
Do I rejoice at my neighbor's success; have I patience with his failings ; do I love to do him acts of kindness?
These are the questions we ought to put to ourselves everyday so that we might prepare to meet our Judge.
In the court-house of Lubeck is a famous painting, called the dance of death. There you see all classes of ages, children, youth, virgins, men and women, the aged, all dancing, rejoicing and exulting in full pleasure of life, and they do not perceive that the angel of death, with the scythe, walks behind them, to mow down one after the other, to lead them to his realm. Here drops as his victim a child, there an aged man, here a youth, and nevertheless the dance continues in mad enjoyment. Thus it is in the life of man. Daily we see the angel of death walking softly in our midst, demanding his victims, and we know not how, when or where he will call us. All we do know is, that he will not forget us, and behind him is the divine Judge and the momentous eternity, and nevertheless we live in blindness and frivolity, as if our stay here on earth were everlasting.
Let no day pass, children, without heartily repenting of your faults and endeavor to expiate them by various works of penance. If in such a way you judge yourselves, you will not be judged. Jesus will graciously receive you on the day of judgment and greet you as His dear child.
Source: STORY-SERMONETTES FOR THE CHILDREN'S MASS FOR THE SUNDAYS OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR, Imprimatur 1921
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The following is a condensation of the closing pages of Rev. George Hay’s “The Sincere Christian” in Five Volumes, 1871. All five volumes can be read and or downloaded at archive.org. The books are wonderful!!
Every co-operation, in religious matters, with those who are separated from the Catholic Church, is criminal in the sight of God, because every such co-operation implies an approval of their false doctrine, and is, as Saint John expresses it, "a participation in their wicked works" (2 John 11).
Whoever Acknowledges Me
We are strictly obliged to confess our Holy Faith outwardly, acknowledging ourselves to be members of the one Church of Christ, whenever either the honour of God or the good of our neighbor's soul requires it. The Scripture makes this confession an express condition of salvation. Thus, "if thou confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
The internal faith of the heart suffices for our justification, that is, for being reconciled with God through repentance, but if occasion be given, we are also bound to confess outwardly, both by words and actions, without shame, or fear of the world, the faith which we believe in our hearts, in order to obtain salvation.
It is with great reason that Saint Paul affirms this to be a truth of Divine revelation, for Our Lord Himself declaresit to His holy Apostles in these words: "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I too will acknowledge him before My Father Who is in Heaven" (Matthew 10:32). And in another place He repeats it, " I tell you, whoever acknowledges Me before men, him the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).
Now by acknowledging Jesus Christ is not only meant acknowledging our belief of His Person, but also of His doctrine, and consequently, of His Church, in which alone His true doctrine is preserved.
For of Saint Paul before his conversion it is said that he "with every breath he drew threatened the disciples of the Lord with massacre" (Acts 9:1), that is against the Church, as he himself declares, "in my Jewish days I persecuted and ravaged the Church of God" (Galatians 1:13). And further,when Our Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus He said to him, " I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest" (Acts 9:5); from which it is clear that persecuting Christ and persecuting His Church is the same thing, and consequently that confessing Christ and confessing His Church is the same thing also, according to His own words to the pastors of His Church, "He who heareth you heareth Me" (Luke 10:16).
Whoever Denies Me
To deny Christ, or His Faith and Church, is of its very nature a most grievous sin of the deepest dye, for He Himself says "Whoever denies Me before men I too will deny him before My Father Who is in Heaven" (Matthew 10: 33); and again, "whoever denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:9).
"If we deny Him, He will deny us," Saint Paul declares to Saint Timothy (2 Timothy 2:11), and commands him, and in him all the pastors of the Church, to preach the same truth, lest heeding it not we should hear that dreadful sentence, " I know you not, nor whence you have come. Begone from Me, all you doers of iniquity" (Luke 13:27).
Our Lord says that "whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words before this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels will be ashamed of him" (Mark 8:38). It is evident from this that being ashamed not only of Him but also of His words, that is, of His doctrine, and therefore of His Church which is the depository of His doctrine, is of its very nature mortal sin; and if being ashamed of these is mortal sin, how much more denying them?
The Example of the Martyrs
It is never allowable, even in appearance, by any word or sign or act to deny the Faith, though to gain the whole world or to escape the greatest evils. This conviction led thousands upon thousands of the first Catholics to lay down their lives rather than do the smallest thing that could have the slightest appearance of denying their holy religion.
It was not always required of these blessed martyrs openly to renounce their Faith; they were frequently asked but to be present at some heathen service, though their heart took no share in what was done there. Had they complied with this for once, they would seldom have been sought after again, but might follow what religion they pleased, and be left in secure possession of their goods and liberty and life.
And yet they persevered resolute, choosing rather to forfeit all that was near and dear to them in this world, and to undergo the most terrible torments, than do the smallest action contrary to Jesus Christ. Convinced as they were that the slightest co-operation in false religion was unlawful, offensive to God, dishonourable to His Faith, scandalous to their brethren, they cheerfully embraced death in all its horrors rather than be guilty of so great a crime.
When weak brethren, to avoid these tortures, procured for money an attestation from the magistrates that they had complied with what the persecuting laws required of them, though in reality they had not, they were looked upon by the Church as traitors, and as such they were dealt with, so as not to be admitted to participation in the sacred mysteries till, by long and public penance, they had endeavoured to expiate their crime and satisfy for the scandal they had given.
Avoid Their Company
The language of Holy Scripture is unmistakable: all religion other than that of Christ and His Church arises from false teachers, false teachers who are deceivers and antichrists, says Saint John (2 John 7 ) ; liars who organize their followers into sects of perdition, says Saint Peter; impostors who teach the doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1,2), ravening wolves and perverters (Acts 20:29, 30), enemies of the Cross of Christ, says Saint Paul (Philippians 3:18).
Of Saint Paul's command in 2 Corinthians 6:14ff., "Do not be yokefellows with unbelievers. For what partnership have innocence and iniquity? What has light in common with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? How can a believer have part with an unbeliever?"; of this command, the fathers who prepared the Rheims New Testament say, in their note upon this passage: "Here is forbidden dealing with unbelievers in prayers, or meetings at their schismatical service, or other worship service whatsoever."
"Give a heretic one warning, then a second," says Saint Paul, "and after that avoid his company; he is perverted, and in sin, and is self-condemned" (Titus 3:10, 11). In their note on this text the translators of the Rheims New Testament declare that "heretics must not marvel if we warn all Catholic men, by the word of the Apostle in this place, to take warning against them, and to shun their preaching, books and meeting-places."
Saint Paul, writing to the Ephesians, elaborates upon Our Saviour's warning that we "must beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15). "Let no one deceive you with empty arguments," he says, "these are what brings down the wrath of God on unbelievers; do not associate with them" (Ephesians 5:6, 7). Here is an express command not to have any contact with those who teach false religion, to avoid their meetings and sermons, lest we be deceived by them, and incur the anger of Almighty God, provoking Him to withdraw His grace from us and leave us to ourselves, in punishment of our disobedience.
The same Apostle renews this command in his Epistle to the Romans. "Brethren," he says to them, " I beg of you, watch out for those who are causing dissension and scandals, contrary to the doctrine you have learned, and avoid their company. Such men do not serve our Lord Christ but their own belly; by their pleasing speeches and flatteries they seduce the hearts of the innocent" (Romans 16:17, 18). See here whom we are to avoid: those who cause dissension to the traditional doctrine. And why we are to avoid them: because they are not servants of Christ but slaves to themselves whose appeal is not to faith and reason but to emotions and passions.
"Now these avoid," Saint Paul commands his beloved disciple Saint Timothy, speaking of false teachers, even though Timothy was a bishop of the Church, and fully instructed by the Apostle himself in all the truths of the Faith; because, besides the danger of seduction, which none can escape who voluntarily expose themselves to it, all such communication is evil in itself, and therefore to be avoided by all, and especially by bishops and priests, whose bad example would be most poisonous to others.
Saint John the Evangelist says of the doctrine of the Faith that "if any one comes to you who does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house; do not even greet him; to greet him is to share the guilt of his wicked works" (2 John 10, 11). If the holy Apostle declares that even greeting such people is a participation in their wickedness, what would he say of going to their meeting-places, hearing their sermons or joining in their prayers? It is a great and damnable sin in any one to do any of these things, but a much greater crime in those who are learned and powerful.
The Church's Constant Practice
The conduct of the Catholic Church in this matter has been uniformly the same in all ages with what the Holy Scripture teaches. She has always forbidden her children to have any communication, in religious matters, with those who are separated from her, and this she has sometimes done under the most severe penalties.
In the Apostolic Canons, which are for the most part handed down from the apostolical age, it is thus decreed: "If any bishop or priest or deacon shall join in prayer with heretics, let him be suspended from communion." Also: "If anyone, clergy or lay, shall go into the synagogue of the Jews, or the meetings of heretics, to join in prayer with them, let him be deposed and deprived of communion."
The Council of Carthage held in 398, at which the great Saint Augustine was present, enacted that: "No one must either pray or sing psalms with heretics; whosoever shall communicate with those who are cut off from the communion of the Church, whether clergy or layman, let him be excommunicated."
Pope Paul IV wrote thusly to the Catholics of England, at a time when the most severe persecutions were raised against them, unless they agreed to go from time to time to the Protestant church:
"Great has been the grief of our mind for the calamities you have had to undergo for your adherence to the Catholic Faith; and as we understand that these trials are become more severe at present, our affliction is increased exceedingly. We are informed that you are compelled, under the most grievous penalties, to go to the churches of heretics, to frequent their meetings, and be present at their sermons. But we are fully persuaded that you who with so much fortitude and constancy have hitherto endured almost infinite miseries that you might walk without stain in the law of the Lord will never consent to be defiled by communicating with those who have forsaken the Divine law. Nevertheless, urged by the zeal of our duty, and by our paternal care for you, we admonish and command you that on no account you go to the churches of heretics, or hear their sermons, or join in their rites, lest you incur the wrath of God, for it is not lawful for you to do such things without dishonouring God, and hurting your own souls."
The constant practice of the Church shows that any attempt to authorize or excuse communication in religion with those who are separated from her falls under the curse pronounced by Saint Paul on all novelty in religion, and is contrary to the gospel which has been preached from the beginning and handed down from the holy Apostles.
The Law Unalterable
No power on earth can make that allowable which the law of God forbids; and to say that because there are those who do go to heretical churches and hear heretical sermons and read heretical books,without being censured, it is therefore allowable, is the same as to say that because great numbers curse and lie and drink to excess it is therefore allowable to commit these sins. No, the law is by no means altered by the fact that it is widely disobeyed; it stands as a testimony against those who flaunt it, and though they here and now escape the censure of men, they will not escape the just punishment of their transgression at the tribunal of God.
Whatever is a sin to do, is a sin to appear to do; and it is evident that whoever goes to non-Catholic churches, even though his motive is mere curiosity and no more, appears to join with what is done there, whatever be in his own mind; and Our Lord not only condemns those who deny Him in their hearts, but also all those who deny Him before men, whatever be the inward disposition of their hearts.
Do not the texts of Scripture we have cited forbid the very going to such places at all, do they not command us to avoid them? and how can one be said to avoid them who goes to them, whatever his intention?
Does not the Scripture say that there is no fellowship, no participation, no concord, no part, no agreement between the faithful and the unbeliever? and how can this be said of one who goes to their religious meetings, is present at their service, and hears their preachings? Does not the Scripture expressly affirm that he who so much as greets them, communicates in their wicked works? how much more he who honours their meetings with his presence?
As for the motive of curiosity, it is certainly a disgrace for a Christian to fly to such an excuse for doing a thing forbidden by any lawful authority, but much more for doing what is so frequently, so severely, and for such important reasons, forbidden by the law of God and of His Church. Whatever useful purposes curiosity may serve in the acquisition of knowledge, however blameless it may be when employed about innocent objects, yet curiosity is, without doubt, a very great sin in itself when to gratify it a person either does what is criminal, or prohibited by lawful authority, or exposes himself to the danger of doing so.
The Learned No Less Obliged
It is no argument to say that a person might go to see and hear what passes among heretics so long as he is well grounded in the true Faith, and so unlikely to be seduced from it. ven if we grant that such a person would run no risk of losing his faith, yet this is only aboiding one of those reasons for which going to heretical places is forbidden. It would still be, at least in the eyes of the world, a seeming approbation of the heresy, and a transgression of an express command of God and His Church, and a very grievous scandal to the faithfaul. In fact, the scandal arising from the from others, because every one of the faithful well knows that it is a sin to go to such places, and therefore all must be more offended to see a person who ought to know his duty better than others acting so contrary to it, and the weaker sort among them will be more influenced to do the same from the example of such a person, than if less learned and less instructed in his religion.
But even the most learned cannot answer for themselves when, contrary to their duty, they culpably expose themselves to the danger. Saint Paul assures us that "it is by grace that you are saved, with faith for its instrument, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Our faith, then, being God's gift, our perseverance in it is no less so. If therefore a person, though ever so learned, offends Almighty God by doing what is dishonourable to His holy Faith, is this not provoking God to withdraw that gift from him, of which by his disobedience he renders himself unworthy?
In the primitive ages, Tertullian and Tatian were most learned men, and great champions of the Catholic Faith, having written many excellent things in defence of it, yet by exposing themselves to these very dangers they were miserably seduced, lost their faith, and fell into the most unreasonable heresies.
It is impossible that there should be any solid reason in favour of falsehood capable of convincing the understanding of a person who is well instructed in the Faith of Jesus Christ, but the most learned and best instructed are not proof against their own passions, and the seductions of the heart, and therefore can have no security against these if they culpably expose themselves to the danger, by which they offend God, and provoke Him to withdraw His grace from them, and leave them a prey to their passions. On this account was the command to avoid all fellowship with false teachers given to all without exception, to the learned as well as to the unlearned, to priests as well as to people.
Even Refutation a Poor Excuse
But might a well instructed person go to such heretical meetings that he might be the better able to confute the heretics?
This case is the same, as to the danger, as that of reading bad books with the design of confuting them. To read bad books is forbidden by the law of God, by the natural law, and by the law of the Church, precisely because of the danger of being seduced by them to evil. Even a person thoroughly learned and in no probable danger of being seduced by them cannot read them with a safe conscience, even with the design of confuting them, unless he has received permission from his spiritual superiors to do so. Should he read them without such leave, he runs the risk of being hurt by them, all his learning notwithstanding, in punishment of his disobedience to what the law of God requires of him. But if he has the required permission, and reads with the intention of confuting them, he may do it lawfully; and he has reason to hope that God will preserve him from danger.
In like manner, if a learned person, by permission of his lawful superiors, should go to the meetings of those of a false religion, precisely to learn their ways and teachings that he may be able the better to confute them, this will take away the sin as to this one point of exposing himself to the danger; but this will not excuse the other evils of his doing so, namely, its being an apparent communication with a false religion, a seeming approbation of it, and a source of offense and scandal to the faithful, most of whom, hearing of his doing so, and not knowing either the permission he has got, or the intention with which he goes, cannot fail to be greatly offended and scandalized by it.
So except in circumstances where all these evils could also be prevented, such permission could not be granted; and though granted, would not, I fear, give him full security before the tribunal of God—especially when it is considered that there seldom or ever can be a necessity for granting such permission, since the teachings of all false religions can easily be known from their books, or from the relation of others, without doing a thing so detrimental to the honour of the true religion, and so obnoxious in the eyes of all pious members of the Church of Christ.
St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, ascribes to charity all the virtues that make a perfect man: "Charity is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up, is not ambitious; seeketh not her own; is not provoked to anger; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things" (i Cor. xiii. 4-7). And writing to the Colossians he says: "Above all things have charity, which is the bond of perfection" (Col. iii. 14). "Let each one love his brother"; says St. Alphonsus Liguori. "We have each our faults. He, who has to put up with his brother's fault today, will have to be borne with himself tomorrow." "Bear ye one another's burdens," writes the Apostle to the Galatians, "and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ; for if any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself" (Gal. vi. 2, 3). The following homely lines contain a beautiful truth: --
"There is so much bad in the best of us,
There is so much good in the worst of us,
That it ill behooves any of us
To rail at the faults of the rest of us."
Source: "My Prayer Book," Father Lasance, Imprimatur 1908
Our happiness depends to a great extent on our observance of the law of fraternal charity: "Thou Shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and of the golden rule announced by our blessed Saviour: "As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner" (Luke vi. 31). In doing good to others we become like to Christ, of whom we read in the Gospel that "He went about doing good to all." "This commandment we have from God," says the disciple, whom Jesus loved, "that he, who loveth God, love also his brother" (I John iv. 21). And St. Paul observes. "He, who loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law" (Rem. xiii. 8).
What Shakespeare says of mercy, pertains also to charity and kindness: "It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven; it is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes." We reap what we sow. Kindness begets kindness. Man can scarcely enjoy sweeter satisfaction than that which results from good deed generously performed or a kind word unselfishly spoken. "Happy is he, who has charity for every one," says the Blessed Egidius of Assisi; "happy is he, who performs great services for his neighbor, yet does not trouble about receiving anything in return."
Our deeds of disinterested charity are recorded in the Book of Life. On the great day of recompense, our blessed Saviour will say: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me to eat ; I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink; was a stranger and you took Me in; naked, and you covered Me ; sick, and you visited Me ; I was in prison, and you came to Me; . . . As long as you did it to one of these little children you did it to Me" (Matt. xxv. 34-36).
"In charity," says St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, "we must be cheerful and prompt, knowing that by serving our fellow-creatures, we serve God in His members, and that He regards a service done to our neighbor as done to Himself."
Source: "My Prayer Book," Father Lasance, Imprimatur 1908
"If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." (I Cor. xiii. 2).
"Now there remain faith, hope, and charity - these three: but the greatest of these is charity" (I Cor. xiii. 3)
"God is charity. By this hath the charity of God appeared toward us, because God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by Him....
"My dearest, if God hath so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . . Let us love God because God first hath loved us. And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother " (i John iv).
"And this is charity, that we walk according to His commandments" (2 John vi).
"Before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins" (I Peter iv. 8).
"Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. xiii. 10).
"All the law and the prophets depend upon the law of love" (Matt. xxii. 40).
A rightly ordered love moves us to the observance of every law. A loving soul is most obedient to the law. Love is the spring of its actions. Its love impels it to obey. St. Augustine understood this so well, that he hesitated not to say: "Dilige et fac quod vis": "Love, and do what you will" —St. Augustine, Tract. vii, in Epis.
"The end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith" (1 Tim. i. 5).
And this is the "game of love". "By how much the more a man dies to himself, by so much more he lives to God." — St. Catherine Siena, Dialogue on Perfection.
All good things, all great things, in the world, have been accomplished through self-denial and self-control.
St. Teresa says: "Love spurs us on to do great things, and makes all that is bitter sweet and savory." — St. Teresa, Foundat. c. v.
The perfection of charity is attained by self-renunciation, by entire mortification, by purity of heart, and total abandonment to God.
Our Lord says : " Learn of Me;" "He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness" ; "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. viii. 34).
Father Buckler, speaking of charity, the essence of perfection, asks: "How are we to follow Christ?" And he replies: "The answer is, that Our Lord's way is the way of perfect love. He is the divine Lover of God and of men. For the love of God and of men He became incarnate, lived on earth, taught the law of love and the life of love, suffered for love and died for love sent down the Spirit of His love upon the Church, to be the ruling power of our lives and actions, by the charity of God poured forth into our hearts (Rom. v. 5), and left us the marvelous gift of Himself, to the end of the world, in the mystery of love on the altar, wherein He dwells as the divine Lover in the midst of those He loves — working with us, nourishing and perfecting His life of love in the souls of men. 'Be ye followers of God,' says St. Paul, 'and walk in love, as most dear children ' (Eph. v. 2)."
It is by charity that we follow Our Lord in the way of perfection.
Source: "My Prayer Book," Father Lasance, Imprimatur 1908
"Thou Shalt Love the Lord Thy God with Thy Whole Heart"
The human heart craves and seeks unceasingly for happiness in this life because they lose sight of their eternal destiny — the object of their creation — which is to know God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself " (Matt. xxii. 37, 39). The whole law depends on these two commandments; so Our Lord Himself assures us. The fullest measure of happiness even here on earth is attained by harmonizing one's conduct with the commandments of God, by doing well one's duties to God and man; for this means the possession of a peaceful conscience, a clean heart, a sinless soul; and this is essential to happiness; hence, St. Ignatius prays: "Give me, Lord, only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I shall be rich enough; there is nothing more that I desire." To be in the state of grace — to have God's love —that is essentially necessary to true happiness. "Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?" "If God be for us, who is against us?" (Rom. viii. 31.) The end of man's creation is to glorify God. But in promoting God's glory we are at the same time promoting our own. Many find but a small measure of happiness. Ergo, let our watchword be: "Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam!" "All for the greater glory of God!"
"Know then this truth —enough for man to know: Virtue alone is happiness below." --
"Happiness and virtue are the same." — Francis.
"There can be no harmony in our being except our happiness coincides with our duty." --
"Chain down some passion; do some generous deed;
Teach ignorance to see; or grief to smile;
Correct thy friend; befriend thy greatest foe;
With warm heart and confidence divine,
Spring up and lay strong hold on Him who made thee." — Young.
"All who joy would win Must share it —happiness was born a twin." — Byron.Source
Source: "My Prayer Book," Father Lasance, Imprimatur 1908
This was an excellent sermon!
THE HOLY GHOST
You have heard, my dear young people, that our good Lord and Redeemer promised today the coming of the Holy Ghost. He foretold, at the same time, the great persecutions that were to follow His leaving this world: but with the grace of the Holy Ghost His people would be able to overcome all these persecutions, which would redound to their own glory
and the spread of the kingdom of God on earth. But why will these persecutions come and the cruelty of the world to the Apostles? They shall be hated, chased from the synagogues,
and if one is murdered, it will be considered a benefit to the human race. Such were the persecutions of the Christians, and they have continued to the present day; under the guise of religion the most barbarous cruelties have been practiced. Is not this the reason, too, that we are so antagonistic to those who differ from us, that had we the power we would pour our wrath upon them? Be this as it may, whence comes it that men are so wicked and so cruel as to persecute the pure and holy Church of God? Simply because "they know not Me nor My heavenly Father."
My dear young people, what terrible persecution you will have to endure, not of fire and sword, but for your faith and morals in everyday life. Your faith is continually assailed by the wrong theories of our day. To have no religion, or to be a Protestant, we leave to future discussion. How many young men lose their faith in the early days of manhood! Young, strong, and healthy, they do not see the end of their days, and they wish to throw off all restraint of religion; they do not want to believe; it is too much to ask them to make an act of adherence to the Catholic faith.
Many a man's religion is spoiled in his young days; he seems to have no mind for it, and who knows whether he will ever get the grace of God again to take up that which he throws away. Yes, my dear young people, you give your pastors, your parents, and all who are interested in you, great concern for your future. You will have to undergo many temptations, too, from the flesh, which you carry about you; from the devil, who is everywhere watching to find an opportunity to destroy you; from the world, in which all sorts of evil abound, but you are weak and inexperienced in the midst of this great trial. But you must strengthen yourselves by the thought that the same Spirit of fortitude and wisdom who came upon the Apostles will also descend on you, to shield you from all your enemies. In order that you may receive that holy Spirit, you must prepare yourselves carefully to celebrate the feast of Pentecost with sincerity and earnestness. Let us examine a little the necessity of receiving the Holy Ghost, and how we are to prepare for Him.
Every one of you, my dear young people, knows, as did the prophet Job, that this world which we inhabit is a great battlefield, on which we are surrounded by most stubborn and watchful enemies, and that we have to enter on a struggle with them. Hardly have we come into it, and have reached the use of reason, than the fight begins. These enemies aim
at the soul; the life of the body is nothing to them, they wish to ruin the soul. They are powerful enemies, against whom we can do nothing of ourselves. We can easily see, then, that we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit very much.
In the first place, we must fight with the world, our great enemy. The world has an intelligence of its own; it teaches bad doctrines which, though in appearance are most inviting and even most natural, are wrong in principle. For example, the world has the strong conviction that they alone are happy who enjoy themselves; that while you are young, at least, you ought to enjoy the flower of your youth before it withers; that it will be time enough to give up pleasure when old age makes it insipid. How many such poor deluded souls are about us! The world insists that money makes one happy; that one must always have his purse well filled; that one's whole soul should be fully awake to the means of getting wealth, and heaping it up in abundance. One must be smart; by fair means or foul he must procure money. Money is the god of the world; so much so that it forgets real wealth, which is purity of soul and the possession of heaven in course of time. St. Paul tells us that "they that will become rich fall into temptation and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which hurl men into destruction and perdition."
The world would have us consider in the next place that we must look for honors and esteem; and then running after the false honors of the world we forget the real honor, the true greatness of leading a good life and in the end of being placed in paradise by almighty God. Are these not very deceptive doctrines? How can you discover their fallacy unless the Holy Ghost enlightens you? Not only does the world teach you these fallacies, but like a tutor, it shows you an example of the good fortunes of those who have succeeded in gaining wealth. Look at the great number of successful men in the world that have not a spark of religion and who are proud of it. These men are ashamed to be humble followers of Jesus Christ; their charity is turned into philanthropy; they are ashamed to go to church, to hear Mass or a sermon, to go to the sacraments or to show any sign of Christianity. On the contrary, they make a parade of their vices; they prefer them to following Christ. Such are the consequences of the bad doctrines of the world. How thankful you ought to be that you are not like them. It is only by being enlightened by the Holy Ghost that you will continue to love "the better part."
The devil himself is our great adversary on the battle-field of this world. Of what deception and snares does he not make use to lead us to a fall! "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour." St. Stanislaus Kostka while he was at prayer was visited by the devil: what a horrible object he was, perfectly black and hideous; his eyes shone in his head like ominous lights, which seemed to scatter fire on whatever object he directed them; his mouth was like the opening of hell. Stanislaus put this infernal creature to flight by the sign of the cross, and nothing daunted quietly continued his prayers, thanking God that he had the power of getting rid so easily of such an unwelcome visitor. I suppose the devil visited Stanislaus to disturb his peace of mind or even to fill him with fear; but not for a moment could the Evil One induce this good, holy soul to infringe God's law in the least. You need have no fear of receiving a visit from the devil in person; but he puts on the grab of an angel of light, a serpent of beautiful colors. "It goeth in pleasantly, but in the end it will bite like a snake." The devil shows us sin in its most attractive exterior; he tempts you as he did Eve, and will battle with the same arguments. Eve was afraid she would die, but he assured her, "Not at all; you will not die, and you will have all pleasures, which it will not do to miss."
What of the bad companions you go with, my dear young people? The devil will argue, "What harm? You may do some good, you will have a good time. If there is any one in this
world that is a wearisome fellow, it is certainly a pious chap; a certain degree of wickedness is required to make life spicy. And then why live such a timid existence; what kind of a life is it, when at every turn some one says, 'Don't do that.' You pass your days in listening to 'don'ts.' You have to watch your words and your thoughts, no useless talks, you cannot have the pleasure of sin, even in imagination; what a dismal life it is which is a continual struggle! "Give it all up," says the devil, "and lead a happy sort of life; don't be wicked exactly."
The devil tries by every means in his power to get at your soul by the channels of your body and your senses; by your eyes through your sight, by your ears through your hearing, by your sense of feeling, by your imagination, and in this way he keeps up the attack, until he gets possession of you: he is not satisfied with that mischief, he demands more and more, until at last he has corrupted you completely. There is no rest; down we go, because the descent is so easy, until as disciples of the devil we are more wicked than the devil himself; we can at least do much more harm, for the devil makes use of men to corrupt others, and they become his agents afterwards. Thus the good priest sees thousands of souls continually going over to Satan: souls that were good at one time, but now are entirely lost to God; souls who absolutely refuse to hear of God, and who try to persuade themselves that there is no God.
Another enemy on the battle-field is the flesh. This enemy is so intimately connected with us that we continually carry it about, and it is the occasion of many of our falls. The flesh has so many animal propensities, which are wrong, and unworthy of so noble a master as the God-like soul. The flesh is impure and filthy, and wants to satisfy its appetites, like an animal; it is avaricious to possess a great deal, so that a good time may be assured for the body. Is not the soul, the pure, immortal soul, far greater than the flesh? its difficult task is to discipline the unruly body and bring it under subjection and become master of it. The saints succeeded in so doing, but oh, by what great labor! How perseveringly they mortified their bodies, even to their last breath. But how did they succeed in subjecting this flesh? By the blessed Spirit of God, whom we are expecting at this time and whose feast we are celebrating.
Now, my dear young people, come with me to the place where we will find the Apostles gathered together and the Blessed Virgin in the midst of them. They are quiet and retired, they are praying for the coming of the Holy Ghost, and also for detachment from the things of this world. My dear young people, are your hearts detached from this life? Not yet, you will say, but you are trying to cut off more and more the love you have for the world. Your thoughts are still on the earth: does that not make you forget the heavenly paradise for which you are on trial? For the great feast of Pentecost, the Apostles prepared themselves by devout prayer and holy meditation. They retired to the cenacle, a quiet place, and there waited the pleasure of God to send them the Holy Spirit. How do we poor
mortals generally pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit? I think we do not pray at all, for we have very little devotion to the Holy Ghost; but let us, at least at this holy time, pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may come unto our soul; for prayer will surely bring Him to us.
Lastly, the Apostles had a great desire to receive the Holy Ghost; Our Lord Jesus Himself put this desire into their hearts, and therefore they wished the Comforter to come to them. Let us invoke this Holy Spirit with fervent prayers, and have a great desire for Him, that He may come down to us with His choicest gifts.
Source: Sermons for Children's Masses, Imprimatur 1900
I have added two more handwriting books to our little collection. You can find them below and here. If you wish to purchase a printed copy you can do that here.
The Church in Her glory did such wonderful things to help the faithful keep the Faith. Oh how I wish we still did these things. . . . .
ROGATION DAYS or CROSS DAYS
The first Rogation procession was made 1,500 years ago, and its litanies and antiphons were meant to avert God's anger from his people and to call down his blessing on the fruits of the fields. It is not strange that the procession came gradually to make its way over fields and meadows and ploughed land, in fact throughout the whole of the parish. In seaside parishes these processions included prayers for the harvest of the sea and they probably made their way along the sands or cliffs.
In some places the Rogation days were called the Cross days, probably because the procession halted every so often at certain crosses or at certain trees marked with a cross, at which the priest read from the New Testament before the crowd took up the litanies and antiphons once more.
Children in the procession carried green boughs, the girls decorated themselves with flower garlands, the men carried banners and a cross. All the streets were hung with green branches.
In Staffordshire by the early 18th century, the processioning had taken a rather different form; the whole village went out on the three days, led by the children, who bore long poles decorated with every sort of flower, and all together they sang over and over again the psalm: "All ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord."
There are not many processions now over the fields on Rogation days; still, after our answering the litanies at Mass, we might spend the days in something of the old spirit. In a school or club we could have a procession like that once prevailing in Staffordshire,
and thus call on all the created things of God to bless him.
Certainly night or morning prayers might include one or more of the Church's prayers for the fruits of the earth; particularly if those who pray have a garden:
"We implore thy blessing, Almighty God, that thou wilt deign to nourish this earth with temperate winds, to pour over it like a shower of rain thy gracious blessings, granting to thy people to give thanks to thee eternally for thy gifts."
St. Luke tells us that Christ, after he had eaten a meal in the Cenacle, led the whole troop of apostles through the city on the last journey he would make upon earth, and "...when he had led them as far as Bethany he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and even as he blessed them he parted from them and was carried up into heaven." It is easy to understand why on Ascension day the priest led the people in solemn procession before Mass, that this last walk of Christ's might be remembered.
Since this procession has fallen into disuse, one could make a solitary visit to a church during the day. The apostles, of course, saw Christ going before them. But if we cannot, we have no less certainty that he is with us, closer than he was to any of the apostles on that first Ascension day. During that walk to the church we can do what the apostles did--praise and bless God and thank him for the holy Spirit whom he is going to send us.
A custom has survived in some parts of this country of opening the New Testament at random on this day, considering that in the page chosen there may be, as it were, some final message from Jesus as he makes his way back into heaven. Each one in turn opens the New Testament and reads the whole chapter he has lighted on, while the rest of the family or group help him to make that chapter practical for himself.
-A Candle is Lighted, Imprimatur 1945 -
We've added a coloring picture at the end of this post. From the wonderful art of Cecily Mary Barker.
1. Even in the earliest times of Christianity, we find where one or more communities under the guidance of their spiritual directors went in procession, praying and singing psalms, to an appointed place to perform solemn devotional exercises. These processions were held sometimes on special occasions, sometimes on certain days of the year; to the latter, we class the procession of St. Mark's day and the Rogation days.
2. The procession of St. Mark's day is said to have been instituted by Pope Gregory the Great at the time when, in consequence of a great inundation, a pestilence was raging in Rome and vicinity. The symptoms of this dread disease were, yawning or sneezing until the victim dropped dead. Hence originated the custom of saying ''God bless you'' when one sneezes; also of making the sign of the cross on the mouth when yawning. To ward off this terrible disease Pope Gregory commanded a solemn procession to be held, and appointed it to be solemnized yearly on the 25th of April; it must have been, however, an ancient custom, but only became general on the occasion of the pestilence. In the beginning of spring, when all nature awakes, this procession is held to beseech Almighty God to avert various natural calamities—-the dangers of drought, storm and tempest. The faithful having been reconciled to God at Easter, now beg to be reconciled with nature, in order to receive not the curse of sin resting upon it through the fall of Adam, but instead the blessings of our heavenly Father. This procession then is really the celebration of the resurrection of nature. It is placed upon the 25th of April, being the first day upon which Easter cannot occur; for the spiritual resurrection must be accomplished before the curse of sin can be taken from nature. The Feast of St. Mark, celebrated on this day, is of much later origin and has no connection with it.
3. On the three days preceding the Feast of the Ascension, processions are also held, therefore this week is called ''Rogation Week," from the Latin ''rogare"—to ask or to pray. The holy bishop Mamertus of Vienne, France, was the first to introduce these processions towards the close of the fifth century to avert various temporal calamities; they found imitation in France, then gradually throughout Christendom. Formerly these days were days of fast and abstinence, as well as of rest from servile work.
4. These processions have a twofold object, namely, to be reconciled with God by penance, and by prayer to obtain new graces and benefits. Our prayers should be for temporal and spiritual blessings: the prosperity of the harvest, preservation from evil, the love of God and freedom from sin. All these requests are contained in the Litany of the Saints, which is prayed on these days, either in the church or in the processions. The special Mass for these days is read in violet, the penitential color, and is intended to increase the confidence of the faithful, and to enhance the efficacy of their prayers.
5. Processions may be held on other extraordinary occasions to avert great calamities; their celebration is the same as those of Rogation week.
-The Ecclesiastical Year, Imprimatur 1903 -
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The following is taken from the book, "THE CATHOLIC'S READY ANSWER" by BY Rev. M. P. HILL, S.J. IMPRIMATUR 1914 The intention of this book was to give Catholics ready answers when they were confronted about certain subjects concerning the Faith.
The Plea of the Indifferentist.—Religious creeds are a matter of personal preference, and a search for the right creed, if there is any such thing, can not be expected of the average man. On the other hand we all have a grasp of certain principles of morality which are the mainstay of society. With these society may well rest contented.
Our Answer.—We have dealt in another article with the watchword of the indifferentist, "Deeds, not creeds," and have endeavored to show its absurdity. In the present article we aim at being more helpful to the indifferentist by enabling him, if possible, to realize the gravity of the situation in which he finds himself, and by furnishing him with a positive clue to the discovery of the truth.
The indifferentist believes, or tries to make himself believe, that the motto ''Deeds, not creeds" is the embodiment of common sense. Let us sift it a little. Ask a man of this way of thinking what deeds he means. Ask him to draw up a list of those deeds which he thus sets over against the creeds, that is to say, of the acts and habits which he deems morally right. Ask a second and a third, and so on indefinitely, to do the same. You will find that no two such lists will in all points tally, and some will be much longer than others. One man's list of honest deeds will include no more than honesty, sobriety, obedience to the laws (when they can not be evaded), and a care of one's family, with perhaps a bit of philanthropy and public spirit thrown in by way of giving a sort of halo to the rest. These are only the deeds and duties without which even pagan society could not get on at all, and without which the individual would come to grief.
Another vaunter of deeds as against creeds would add a few more virtues to his list. His moral sense is of a finer sort, and hence he adds to the catalogue meekness and patience, charity in words (mere thoughts would be under no moral restraint), and chastity, as a matter of outward behavior.
Another would add sincerity (an approach to humility) and a restraint upon thoughts and desires. One would like to know, in dealing with such persons, where the line is to be drawn between good and bad deeds. Why should one man's list of virtues be longer than another's? Have they any criterion by which to discover whether any one of them is complete and exhaustive? And then, what is their criterion for deciding whether any deed deserves to be called virtuous? Most men who are indifferent
to positive creeds are quite at sea on these points. As to prayer and worship, well—they may have some vague notion of the fitness and reasonableness of the thing, but they would seldom think of entering it on a list of moral duties.
And then the very notion of duty and obligation which underlies all their ideas about virtue and vice—upon what is it based ? The basis is either a rational or an irrational one. If it is a rational one it will resolve itself into a judgment that certain things are right and ought to be done, whilst other things are wrong and ought to be avoided; in other words, into a dictate of conscience. But conscience must be based upon a belief (implied at least) that there is some higher power than our own wills, one to which our wills are subject; for there can be no duty or obligation unless it be imposed by a will which has a sovereign right over ours the will of a personal Deity. Any other basis for the notion of duty is irrational. You may see the expediency or the utility of doing certain things which you consider right, but that it is a duty for you to do them —that you must do them—you would regard as absurd unless you admitted a higher will to which yours was subject.
The existence of this sovereign power is frequently a matter of doubt, or even of denial, to the one who is a vaunter of deeds and a contemner of creeds. Formally or virtually he is an atheist or an agnostic. What, or how much, do you believe, we would ask the indifferentist, concerning the existence of a God who has brought you into being and has a claim on your obedience ? And what bearing do you suppose obedience to God has upon one 's eternal destiny? You have drawn up a brief list of essential duties: what if obedience to God requires you to extend the list? Whatever be the present state of your mind regarding that subject, the question is one of tremendous importance to you, personally. Your eternal destiny must far outweigh any possible amount of difficulty involved in a search for light on the subject. If the duty of knowing and serving God were but a fancy engendered in weak and ignorant minds it might be set aside as undeserving of attention. But if the brightest and noblest minds in history have accepted it and acted upon it, it surely possesses a special claim to your attention. Even though it had no such high recommendation, the fact that eternity is at stake should be enough to induce you to make an honest inquiry after the truth. Such an inquiry need not be a hopeless one. It is not a matter of traveling into some unknown region of speculation in which there are no landmarks for the guidance of the traveler. These nineteen hundred years a power has been at work in this world which has wrought for the ennobling, elevating, and purifying of the human soul, and which bears upon it the seal of its divine origin. Impeded in its action, at times, by the human instruments which it must employ, nevertheless, by reason of the divine element in it, it has won its way to human hearts and has gradually embraced the greater part of the world within the sphere of its influence. Christianity is the first subject to be studied by any one who is setting about a search for the truth—the more so as Christianity has sprung from and is the perfecting of the oldest, the most consistent, and the noblest tradition of religious teaching in the history of the world—that of the chosen people of God. Tolle et lege-- take up the book of the Gospels—as the angel said to St. Augustine, whose giant intellect was for a time held captive by one of the false philosophies of his day, read with the unbiased mind of an Augustine, and pray with but one tenth of his fervor, and sooner or later light will succeed darkness.
We have been thinking in the above passage of the type of indifferentist who makes light of all religious knowledge, who knows nothing and cares to know nothing about God, revelation, or immortality. But there is one of another type who is something of a Christian and who respects the authority of Christ and the Bible. Bred in childhood to the teaching of one or other of the Christian sects, he has allowed the cares or the pleasures of the world to draw him away from religious worship—or, it may be, he attends religious services intermittently, though he brings to them a set of Christian or half- Christian beliefs of his own making. In either case, when the claims of the one true religion are urged, he takes refuge behind a sort of half-conviction that, after all, it matters little which of the creeds he adopts provided his deeds are in harmony with the Christian code—whatever that may mean to him. An indifferentist of this class should be reminded that the first and foremost of those good deeds of which he makes so much account is to believe—and believe in its totality—what Christ has revealed, and what He has enjoined upon all to believe. That revelation is one and unchangeable, and constitutes a definite body of teachings, placed in the keeping of a Church --one only Church-- which is "the pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim. iii. 15) —against which "the gates of hell shall not prevail" (Matt. xvi. 18)—to whose teachers the promise was given; ''Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matt, xxviii. 20).
That this definite teaching of a visible Church must be accepted by all is plain from the words of Christ: "Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark xvi. 15, 16), or, as the Protestant Authorized Version has it, ** shall be damned." If a rejection of Christ's teaching deserves eternal damnation, an indifference to all creeds must deserve the same penalty. Therefore an effort to find the one true creed is an imperative duty. But, replies the indifferentist, as things are to-day how is it possible to discover the true faith of Christ? Must I examine the claims of seven hundred sects, each asserting its own exclusive possession of the truth? The difficulty you fear is, in the first place, exaggerated. Yet, even if it were much greater than it is, the importance of the object of your quest would far outweigh the difficulty involved in searching for it. It is a matter of obtaining the "pearl of great price" and of providing for eternity. If you were given seven hundred keys of all shapes, and were told that one of them, by a certain number of turns to right and left, would unlock the door of an apartment containing untold treasures, all of which would be yours if you lighted on the right key and discovered how to use it, would you not spend whole days--nay, even months and years—searching for the key and applying it to the lock? Most men would; and not unreasonably, for the treasure would be worth the trouble.
But the search for the truth is not of so intricate a nature. It is true that but one of the seven hundred keys is the right one, but there are ways of simplifying the search. There are tests that may be applied, by means of which you may in a short time eliminate all but the right key. By the use of these tests countless inquirers have, as a matter of fact, been led to the truth. Some have applied to the various Christian sects the historical test, or that of origin: the Church that could trace its history back to the apostles must have superior claims to those churches that have existed only a few centuries, and which were repudiated and cut off from communion by the Church which has undoubtedly existed since the time of the apostles.
Others have applied the test of universality: the Church of Christ must be a world-Church—it must be confined to no single country or race, and above all must not derive all its authority from the secular government of any particular country.
But there is one test which is perhaps the most obvious and the most easily applied—the test of unity—and to this we would ask the special attention of the indifferentist. It needs but little reflection to see that unity should be one of the chief attributes of the Church to which Christ committed the preaching of the word. In the first place, the doctrine He commanded it to preach was to be one and unchanged forever. This, from the nature of the case, should be obvious. No one, not even an angel from heaven, St. Paul admonishes us, was authorized to change it. It is no less clear that perfect agreement should subsist among those who accepted the teaching of the apostles; otherwise it would have been useless for one only doctrine to have been preached to all.
Moreover, oneness of doctrine was to be rooted in oneness of authority—the divinely constituted teaching authority of the Church. Our Lord did not simply exhort His followers to unity of doctrine, but gave them a body of accredited teachers, who were to go forth "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you'' (Matt, xxviii. 20). ''He that believeth [your teaching] and is baptized, shall be saved; he that believeth not, shall be condemned" (Mark xvi. 16). "He that heareth you, heareth Me; he that despiseth you, despiseth Me" (Luke X. 16). "If he will not hear the Church let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican" (Matt, xviii. 17). Such is the visible teaching authority established by Christ. This, and no other, can be the source of all right doctrine, and consequently of all unity of doctrine in the Church.
In any church professing to be Christian and yet not teaching with authority, unity of doctrine is left to chance, or rather is exposed to certain disruption. The Jews said of Our Lord that He spoke as one having authority, and not as the Scribes and the Pharisees; and a consciousness of divine authority showed itself in every word He uttered. The same note of authority rang through the discourse of St. Peter on the day of Pentecost. No less authoritative were the utterances of the Apostle of the Gentiles. And if there is a Church today that perpetuates the mission of Christ and His apostles, its teaching must bear the same stamp of authority. Oneness of doctrine and oneness of authority are, therefore, a characteristic note of the true Church of Christ.
Take unity as your criterion, we would say to the indifferentist, and you will find that the problem of finding the one Church of Christ is rendered comparatively easy. Your seven hundred religions will at once resolve themselves into two classes: those that possess unity and those that do not. In the first class you will find the Catholic Church, and no other. (Catholic and Roman Catholic are the same.) The unity of the Catholic Church is so conspicuous as to force itself on the notice and excite the jealousy of its enemies. Every single Catholic in a grand total of nearly three hundred million believes the same doctrine as every other member of the Church. True, in matters that have not been defined as of faith considerable latitude is permitted to personal opinion, and on these points there has been divergence of opinion ; but, on the other hand, there is a tribunal which is competent to decide, in the first place, what is of faith and what is not, and, in the second place, which of the parties to a controversy is in the right. The unity of the Church consists, then, in the universal acceptance of what is taught as of faith and the readiness to accept the decision of the Church in matters of controversy. With human minds constituted as they are this is the most perfect unity conceivable-- and, indeed, there is no parallel to it in human society.
Outside the Catholic Church we find an enormous number of sects all bearing the name of Christian. Taken as a body, and to a great extent taken singly, these Christian sects are confessedly and notoriously disunited. Their one common ground is their opposition to the only Church that possesses unity. Even the Bible, which has always been their one rule of faith, has fallen from its once high place in their estimation and is gradually sinking to the rank of an ordinary history containing a large admixture of the mythical. All the world knows that many of the leading lights of Protestantism deal with the Bible in a purely rationalistic spirit. But even when the Bible ruled supreme it was the very fountain-source of disunion, for it was on the alleged authority of the Bible that every new dissenting sect based its separation from the older ones.
This tendency to disunion has been the most striking trait of Protestantism from the beginning. Not even the potent influence of such characters as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli could reduce their followers to unity. Seeing, however, that their teachings must be backed by an assertion of authority, they ruled the conduct and consciences of their subjects with a rod of iron. But private judgmentwas not to be stifled. Who is this Luther? Who Calvin? Who Zwingli? Are we not as good interpreters of the
Bible as they? So queried their followers; and hence the numerous divisions that sprang up even during the infancy of Protestantism. **It is of great importance," wrote Calvin to Melanchthon, ''that the divisions that subsist among us should not be known to future ages; for nothing can be more ridiculous than that we, who have been compelled to make a separation from the whole world, should have agreed so ill among ourselves from the beginning of the Reformation." Melanchthon wrote in answer that "the Elbe, with all its waters, could not furnish tears enough to weep over the miseries of the distracted Reformation. '' Beza makes moan in a similar strain. "Our people," he says, "are carried
away by every wind of doctrine. If you know what their religion is today, you can not tell what it may be tomorrow.
There is not a single point which is not held by some of them as an article of faith and by others rejected as an impiety." "Each individual is a free and fully authorized judge of all those who wish to instruct him, and each one is taught by God alone."
The divisions of Protestantism have not been healed by time. It is no paradox to say that disintegration is the law of its being. Temporary union is the result of the accidents of time and place. Where every one may think as he pleases there may be as many religions as there are heads to invent them.We have endeavored to furnish the indifferentist a clue that may lead him out of the labyrinth into which he has been driven by the sight of the multitudinous sects whose claims are so confused and so confusing. The clue we offer him is neither new nor untried, for it has been used by many in the same situation. Moreover, testimony of the strongest kind has been rendered in its favor by a class of thinkers who, though not embracing the truth themselves, have lost nothing of their logical acumen. It is a well-known position of many unbelievers of the skeptical and critical schools that if Christianity were true, there would be no choice for them between Roman Catholicism and any other form of Christianity. Unity and consistency are naturally looked for by logical minds in the teaching of a God-Man and His true representatives. The strength of this testimony lies in the fact of its coming from so independent a source. For any one who is convinced by the above reasoning there is but one practical course open: he should seek instruction in Catholic doctrine.
The following is taken from: The Ecclesiastical Year for Catholic Schools and Institutions, Imprimatur 1903
1. Good Friday, in the language of the Church is called 'Tarasceve," that is, the day of preparation; the Jews called this day so, because they made preparations for the Pasch, which began with the evening. On this day the true Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ, of Whom the other lambs were only a figure, was slain on Calvary.
2. This day places before our eyes the most important event of Christianity, namely, the death of Jesus Christ, whereby the whole world was redeemed; nevertheless it is not celebrated as a feast day, because a festal celebration is always accompanied with feelings of joy. The Church on this day gives herself up to mourning and sadness over the Passion and death of our Lord, and admonishes the faithful to do the same. The day reminds us specially of the price of our redemption, showing us the enormity and malice of sin. What Christ gained for us through His passion is revealed to us on Easter day, for only through His resurrection did He complete His work of redemption, and in reality conquer death. A festive celebration on this day is really not possible, because the nucleus of every festive celebration is wanting, namely, the Sacrifice of the Mass. Therefore the Church has, from the earliest times, celebrated Good Friday in silence and sadness, with solemn gravity by a strict fast and by somber mourning ceremonies. Mass is the most joyful ceremony that man can perform, but there is no joy in the world today when we celebrate the memory of the crucifixion of our Savior, therefore the Church never celebrated this day as a festival.
3. As a good child commemorates the anniversary of the death of beloved parents not in a festive manner, but in quiet mourning and grateful remembrance, so the devout Christian on Good Friday remembers with sadness and compunction of heart the death of Jesus and his own sins. He contemplates the Eternal High Priest who offers himself as a Sacrifice amidst indescribable torture, and by His obedience even unto death on the Cross, removed the curse of sin from mankind. He acknowledges the blessings of the Cross and resolves, from now on, to follow Jesus on the way to Calvary, to carry his cross willingly and to be obedient to the Divine Will even unto death.
4. Clothed in black vestments, the color of deepest mourning, the priest and his assistants come forth to the sanctuary without lights or incense; on the bare altar stands a veiled crucifix. Before this they prostrate themselves on the steps of the altar, in perfect silence. This is the Introit of Good Friday, the deepest abasement and humiliation at the sight of the ignominy and annihilation of Jesus on the Cross. The deepest mourning for the death of Jesus, the keenest remorse for the sins which were the cause of all this degradation. Meanwhile a white linen cloth is spread upon the altar, it reminds us of the winding sheet of our Lord. The priest rises, and going to the corner of the altar reads the prophecy of Osee, then the tract following the prayer, and the history of God commanding the eating of
the Paschal Lamb, again followed by a tract. Then comes the chanting of the history of the Passion of our Lord, according to the Gospel of St. John.
5. After the reading of the Passion, solemn prayers for the Church and for men of all states and conditions are sung, to which a special prayer and genuflection is added. The following prayers are said:
1st. For the Church;
2d, for the Pope;
3d, for all bishops, priests and other ecclesiastics, as well as for all the children of God; 4th, for the Roman emperor (this prayer is omitted now for there are no more Roman
5th, for the Catechumens;
6th, for the erring, the sick, the hungry, and those in prison, for travelers and those on
7th, for heretics and schismatics;
8th, for the Jews, and,
9th, for the Heathen.
Before each prayer ''Oremus flectamus genua' (let us pray and bend the knee) is sung, whereupon all kneel, and at the word Levate (arise) all arise. By these prayers the Church wishes to express her ardent and urgent supplications. At the prayer for the Jews we do not bend the knee, because they bent their knees in mockery and derision before our Lord when they were about to crucify Him. Also at the close of the prayer for the Jews the ''Amen" is omitted, because this supplication will never be entirely fulfilled until the end of the world. By these prayers the Church wishes to reveal her holy charity to all mankind and her anxious desire to enfold them in her motherly arms and make them happy. This desire of the Church is awakened specially today by the example of Jesus, Who, hanging on the Cross with outstretched arms, wishes to draw all mankind to Him and to redeem them. If you are a true child of the Church, then you must forgive your enemies from the bottom of your heart, and no one must be excluded from this charity. It is in this spirit that the Church prays today.
6. Taking off the chasuble, the priest takes the cross which from the evening before Passion Sunday has been veiled, and standing on the floor at the Epistle side of the sanctuary he uncovers the top of the cross, saying: "Behold the wood of the cross on which the salvation of the world hung." (Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo pependit salus mundi.) The choir sings: Come, let us adore (Venite adoremus), when all but the celebrant fall upon their knees. Coming up the steps of the altar, on the Epistle side, he uncovers the right arm of the cross, repeating the same words in a higher key; going to the middle of thealtar, he uncovers the whole cross with the same words in a still higher tone. The unveiling and exposition of the cross is a symbol of Christ stripped of His garments, nailed to the Cross, raised thereon, and exposed to the people. The triple unveiling and chanting each time in a higher key is a representation of the gradual manifestation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. In the Old Testament this manifestation was not fully understood; this is shown by the almost entirely veiled crucifix, and the low pitch of voice in the chant. On Golgotha the Sacrifice of the Cross was accomplished, but there were only few to acknowledge it, therefore a further unveiling of the cross and a higher pitch of voice in the chant. The cross is now raised on high in the Church that all nations may look upon it; this is indicated by the complete unveiling of the cross and the still higher pitch of voice in the chant. The Christian should consider this threefold call of the Church as an admonition to do penance. Behold the cross on which the salvation of the world hung, also for your sins; cast yourself down, repent of your sins, and mortify your evil inclinations. Then the priest brings the cross to the place prepared for it before the altar, and, out of respect, removes his shoes and genuflecting three times, at intervals, on both knees, kisses the feet of the crucifix.
The acolytes and the faithful also make the adoration of the cross. During the adoration the 'Improperia'' (Reproaches) are sung, in which God reproaches His people with their ingratitude for the numberless benefits He bestowed upon them, in preparing for Him the most excruciating and ignominious death. Even in the earliest times the true Cross on which Christ was crucified was exposed at Jerusalem for veneration. In order that the faithful in distant countries might offer their veneration and homage to the sign of their redemption, this solemn unveiling and veneration was introduced into the entire Church. The same ceremony was used in the fifth century, and has come down to us without any perceptible change. The threefold genuflection reminds us of the three falls of Jesus under the weight of the Cross, as well as the threefold mockery of the Jews, the heathen, and on Calvary. The Improperia are sung partly in Greek, partly in Latin, not only because they originated at a time when the Greek and Latin churches were still united, but also because all nations should be united under the Cross in the same faith. It is not necessary to tell a Catholic that this veneration is not paid to the wood of the cross, but to Christ Who was sacrificed on the Cross. He should endeavor not only to make this veneration exteriorly but also with a contrite heart; he should consider that these reproaches also apply to him; that even every day he receives God's graces and benefits, and in return almost daily offends God, his Benefactor.
7. After the adoration of the cross follows the so-called Mass of the Presanctified. It is not a
Mass in the true sense of the word, as no consecration takes place, only the Host, consecrated the day before, is consumed by the celebrant; for today the world stands appalled at the remembrance of our Lord's death. The Blessed Sacrament is now borne in procession from the chapel, or altar, where it was placed the day before. While the choir sings the hymn, ''Vexilla Regis," the celebrant places it upon the altar, pours wine into the chalice, incenses the altar, washes his hands, says some of the customary prayers, sings the Pater Noster, then elevates the Blessed Sacrament, for adoration, breaks it as usual, says the preparatory prayer and communicates; then leaves the altar without further prayer. This so called Mass has no Offertory or Elevation proper, for the elevation of the Sacred Host is nothing more than an exposition of the Blessed Particle for adoration, a custom which was general in former times; this custom, in a somewhat different form, still prevails. With this elevation there is no consecration, consequently there is no real Mass.
The Church is engaged this day with the bloody sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary; therefore she omits the unbloody Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
The following is taken from: The Ecclesiastical Year for Catholic Schools and Institutions, Imprimatur 1903
1. In the language of the Church, this day is called Coena Domini, the Lord's Supper. It reminds us of the great mystery of Christianity, which is presented to us by many characteristic ceremo- nies.
On this day Christ partook of the Jewish Paschal
lamb, a figure of that which was soon to be accomplished by His death on the Cross. He washed the feet of His disciples and to fulfill the type of the Paschal Lamb of the Old Law gave them Himself, His Body and Blood, under the appearances of bread and wine, and commanded them to do the same in commemoration of Him. By this command He established the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrament of the Altar and the priesthood. He prayed for them, and on Mount Olivet in His agony sweat blood, was betrayed by Judas, made a prisoner, and throughout the whole night was maltreated.
2. The priest wears white vestments, white being the color of joy, but the psalm ''Judica me" is omitted the same as in Masses for the dead. At the Gloria all the bells are rung, and then remain silent until Holy Saturday, wooden clappers being used instead.
The Church wishes to express her joy on the institution of the Blessed Sacrament by the glad ringing of the bells even in the middle of Holy Week; on the other hand, the deep silence of all the bells is a sign of her deep sorrow; it also reminds us of the sorrow of the Apostles and their concealment during the Passion of Christ, for bells are emblematic of the Apostles. The wooden clappers may remind us of the tumult that reigned in Jerusalem
during these days.
3. If there are more priests at a Church on this day, only one of them says Mass; the rest receive Communion from his hand. The single Mass celebrated in each church, the Communion distributed to the clergy and the faithful, present to us the Gospel scene when Jesus Christ, the only Consecrator of the last supper, and the Apostles were seated at the Eucharistic table. Formerly all the faithful were obliged to receive Holy Communion on this day.
4. In the Mass of this day, the Bishop consecrates the Holy Oils; namely, the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens and Holy Chrism. According to the testimony of Pope St. Fabian and St. Basil, the consecration of the Oils dates from the time of the Apostles. Of all the ceremonies of the year it is one of the most beautiful and mystical. Even in the fifth century it was a decree of the Church to consecrate the Holy Oils on Holy Thursday. This day is chosen because on this day Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament which is the center, yea, even the very source of all the Sacraments, and because at the same time He established the priesthood, thereby making the Apostles and their successors the dispensers of the Sacraments and all the graces that flow therefrom. The Oils are blessed with great solemnity; the Bishop is surrounded by twelve priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, and many others of the clergy. The Bishop and priests breathe three times upon the Oil of the Catechumens and the Chrism, meaning by this action that the power of the Holy Spirit is about to descend upon the Oils; after the consecration is complete they salute the Holy Oils three times, with the words: ''Hail, Holy Chrism! Hail, Holy Oil!''
The prayers and blessings, as well as the breathing upon the Oils, in fact the whole form of this consecration, was used by Gregory the Great in the sixth century and for the greater part may date back to apostolic times.
The Holy Oils are used in administering some of the Sacraments, and in consecrations of greater importance, such as altars, churches, chalices, bells, etc. Wherever oil is used it has the property of strengthening, healing wounds, or of, at least, alleviating pain; it is also used for illuminating purposes therefore is a fitting symbol of the different effects produced by the holy Sacraments and canonical consecrations. Balsam which is mixed with oil to form the chrism is also significant, on account of its sweet odor and its property of healing as well as preserving from corruption. Even in the Old Testament oil was often used as a symbolic sign; and the New Testament testifies, plainly enough, that the Apostles also anointed with oil when administering the Sacraments; and ever since, anointing with oil has been in use, and the Holy Oils carefully preserved and held in veneration.
The Holy Oils must be distributed from the Episcopal See on the same day to the different parishes of the diocese. This shows that it is from the bishop that the sacramental graces of the whole diocese emanate; he is the head, and the cathedral is the mother church of the diocese.
5. Two Hosts are consecrated on Holy Thursday, one of which is reserved for the following day.
Good Friday, because no real Mass may be said on this day. This Host with all the small, consecrated Hosts that are in the tabernacle, at the close of the ceremonies are carried in procession to the repository adorned with flowers, where they are preserved until the following day. This, as well as many other ceremonies on this day, reminds us of early Christian times. In those days the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved on the main altar, but every day after the Divine Service was carried to a place especially prepared for it, and then the altar was stripped. This custom, no doubt, is retained on Holy Thursday only to remind us that Christ, after His last supper, retired to Mount Olivet with His Disciples to begin His Passion, and was there forcibly dragged from their midst. It is customary for the faithful to visit the churches on Holy Thursday and adore our Lord hidden in the Blessed Sacrament.
6. After the Blessed Sacrament has been removed to the repository, the altars are stripped. Everything is removed excepting the candlesticks and the veiled crucifix; the tabernacle is left open, all lights are extinguished. While stripping the altar the priest prays the twenty-first psalm; the bare altar mourns because our Lord has been taken away, and reminds us of the desolation and deep sorrow of the Disciples, on having lost their Master. It is also a figure of our Lord Himself, Who after being stripped of His garments, despoiled of His beauty, yes, even of all human resemblance, suffered a most cruel death.
7. In some Cathedral churches, and Monasteries, the closing ceremony on Holy Thursday is the washing of the feet, called ''Mandatum'' from the words of the first antiphon sung during the ceremony—-''Mandatum novum,'' etc. ''A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another," whence our English name, "Maundy Thursday.''
The Apostles also followed this command, and the custom has been retained to the present day. The priest or prelate of the Church, assisted by deacon and sub-deacon washes the feet of twelve old men. Girt with white linen, kneeling, he washes the right foot of each, then dries it and kisses it. The Pope washes the feet of thirteen, all of whom are priests. This ceremony is in grateful remembrance of the washing of the Apostles' feet by our Lord, and represents that bond of union and love which should exist in the Church between the shepherd and his flock; it admonishes the faithful to imitate the example of our Lord by the practice of humility.
Many Christian princes, and superiors of convents,follow this custom, by washing the feet of twelve of their subjects.
Holy Mother Church
has dedicated the
month of October to the
Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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