Several of my readers have asked for the file for our 2014 Catholic Calendar. We removed it because we had found several errors in it. We have gone through the last few months of this year and are relatively sure that these months don't contain errors so here the file is once again. Should anyone find an error please bring it to our attention. We are working on finishing up our 2015 Calendar and it will be on the site soon. Please remember that this calendar is put together as a lay person for their own family and therefore is not an official calendar of the Catholic Church.
No man can serve two masters, especially if they give contrary orders, and are enemies, for we love the one and hate the other. In pagan times men used to adore Mammon as the god of riches in order that he would procure money for his worshippers. Mammon and God are enemies and are opposed to each other, therefore they cannot be served by the same person at the same time. You are, then, my dear young friends, this day to choose which of these two masters you will love and obey. The masters that lay claim to your souls are God and the devil. The world and the devil wish you to serve^ them! The devil seeks by promises of a happy, contented life, to gain yon to his side. Let me at the very outset tell you that these promises are false; while they appear to be good gifts they are in reality misfortunes. When the devil in paradise tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit he held out great inducements to them. " You shall be as gods" he said. But none of that happiness was ever realized; our first parents were cursed by almighty God, the sign of condemnation was set upon their foreheads, they were driven out of paradise and had to gain their bread by the sweat of their brows. Still the world will say, "Come, let us enjoy all the good things of this earth; crown yourselves with roses and enjoy the happiness and joyousness of your youth; I will make you contented and give you honors and riches." Great and brilliant are the promises held out to us by the world, and who knows but we will yield to them?
In that event our case will be like that of the prodigal son, who put himself under the mastership of the world' and the devil; away from his father's house he thought he could enjoy himself without interruption, but there came a time when, despised by all, he became a swineherd, poor, without clothing, and suffering from hunger, with not even the husks that were fed to the swine to eat.
Supposing that for some years you should enjoy life to its full extent, lawlessly and without restraint, what would your feelings be at the hour of death? You would then experience the most bitter remorse. A great man when on his death-bed had his young son brought to him. "My son," he said, "do not believe in the promises of the world as I have believed; let me impress two things on your mind that are absolutely true: one is, that you will have but little pleasure in this world, and the second, that you will have much sorrow if you have enjoyed those pleasures unlawfully.'' If the devil is your master in life he will certainly be your master in eternity; he will be your companion, and not a peaceful one, or one that you will enjoy, but he will torment you in every way that his cruel ingenuity can suggest. Looking at this master in this light, do you really want to serve him? And yet you do serve him when you imitate him in his wickedness.
Your other and your real master is God. He, too , is anxious that you should serve Him. He is yearning after your soul. He is a beggar of souls. How different is He from that miserable creature, the devil! how good and loving God is! It is true He places a burden on you, but it is sweet and light. He desires that you take the cross on your shoulders and follow Him, and not only in the end, but even during your labors and trials, you will possess peace and consolation. You will understand that the serving of God is a calling so high 'and so noble that it is equal to a royal dignity. And when this life is at an end He will share with you His own glory in heaven.
What does it mean to have God not only on earth by grace, but to possess Him in heaven in all His glory? We cannot realize this while we are in the flesh; we see it only as it were in a glass. In heaven all your faculties will be full of life, your memory will be a life of universal recollection of the past; your intellect will understand the mystery of God's infinite goodness; your eyes will see heavenly and agreeable sights; your ears hear the most beautiful music. Is it not, then, really sad that we have to prove the necessity of the love of God, in order to induce us to do some-good; is it not awful that we should leave God and cling to that impious tyrant, Satan? There are so many people in this world who give Tip the service of God to associate with the prince of darkness, people who revel in wickedness and hate virtue.
You ruthlessly drive God out of your soul when you have a bad thought, or when you do a wicked action, and you set the devil up in your heart as its master and dictator. Say with determination to the devil, "Get behind me, Satan; never will I have anything to do with you;" but to God cry out, "Thou art the God of my heart and my portion for all eternity." Our divine Redeemer, after having told us that no one can serve two masters, that God must be served alone, gives us some clear and beautiful instructions which need no explanation. He says, "I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on God provides with munificence for the birds of the air, gives them what they need and keeps them alive. How beautifully He decks the field with flowers then how much more will He provide for us! Do not always think of earthly advantages, for the Gentiles, the pagans, and the worldlings look for these things. Still, notwithstanding all these promises of a good father, what anxiety do we not feel about the
comforts of life, our health; what fear we have of death. This is to a certain extent a want of faith and trust. "God, who giveth to beasts their food, and to the young ravens that call upon Him,'' will not desert us, though sometimes the prospect looks dark and discouraging. Ah, I hear somebody say, God does not provide for me; I work for myself; but in things over which I have no power, in sickness or poverty, where is His arm? Let this be my answer: If you would remove all misery and poverty from this world, first remove sin, and there will not be so much suffering. Who are those that are poor? They are the lazy loafers who do nothing, the frequenters of drinking-places, who earn no money or spend their earnings in the saloon. Perhaps God strikes them with poverty to show them that they ought to act differently. The crimes of the human race are often the cause of its sufferings.
We read in Leviticus the threats that God made to the people of Israel, unless they remained faithful to Him: "I will quickly visit you with poverty and burning heat, which shall waste your eyes and consume your lives; you shall sow your seed in vain, which shall be devoured by your enemies." "Trust in the Lord and dwell in the land, and thou shalt be fed with its riches." If you have this confidence in God, He will be specially kind to you, and you shall want for nothing.
The saints have always had this trust in God, and even when they gave away all they had, did they starve, or were they in want? They put their trust in Providence and were never disappointed. Let your greatest and first solicitude be to look for the kingdom of God and His justice, and all things else will be given you in due time.
Therefore look first for the kingdom of God. But, my dear young people, do we do this? Oh, there are so many who have their eyes constantly fixed on the earth and never raise them from it to look up to heaven. They think of nothing but this life, as if they were to remain here forever; as if the day would never come when they would be called out of the world; they are entirely occupied with the enjoyment of life; they have nothing before them but the goods and honors of this world. And thus they renounce their right to heaven; they seek not the kingdom of God and His justice. Poor, deluded beings! They are attracted by the false promises of the devil, which will never be realized, for these promises are further and further from fulfillment and the sinners pass their lives in a vain hope. My dear young people, be not deceived nor follow the example of the wicked; have your eyes fixed on God in all your work. "I am thy protector and thy reward exceeding great." The pilgrim pays little attention to the beauty of the scenery and the great possessions of the rich; his aim is to get to his fatherland as soon as possible; and we, following his example, should study the shortest paths to our celestial home. "Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."
Sermons for Children's Masses, Imprimatur 1900
We have posted a sermon for children under Catholic Reading then Sermons for Children. It's beautiful, gives much food for thought.
In honor of St. Rose of Lima's feast day we are giving away one St. Rose habit for 18" dolls from Bella's Boutique. You can see it here.
Dear Christian parents, your responsibility as parents is indeed great. As individuals, you are answerable for your own souls; but as parents, you shall be required to give the Sovereign Judge a strict account of the souls of your children. It is your sacred duty so to train your children that they may become not merely good citizens and useful members of society, but more especially faithful members of Christ's body on earth, viz., the holy Catholic Church, in order that after this life they may be saints in God's heavenly kingdom. If they become good practical Christians, they will most certainly prove useful to society, and be law abiding and patriotic citizens.
Comparatively few parents thoroughly appreciate the full extent of their responsibility. Were young men and young women, before marriage, fully to realize the extent of the obligations incumbent on parents, many would shrink from entering a state so encumbered with duties and cross. In the bringing up of children both the father and mother should act in concert. If you neglect your parental duties in whole or in part, or if in their discharge you act separately from, or in opposition to each other, the tree of your marriage will produce only thorns and thistles, and your children will be neither good Christians nor useful citizens, and, far from becoming the prop and consolation of your old age, they will bring down your gray hair with sorrow to the tomb.
You ought to be firmly persuaded of the great truth, that your children belong, in the first place, not to yourselves, but to God. It is He who gives them to you and takes them back when He pleases. God only lends your children to you: He entrusts them to you as so many precious talents, for which you are strictly accountable to His infinite justice. In Europe especially, (in this country as well) infidels and Freemasons, maliciously subverting the order of nature established by the Creator, seek to concentrate all rights and powers in what they are pleased to call " the state." They most erroneously assert that the child belongs, not to his parents, but to the state; and, out of hatred of the Christian religion, they dare to claim for the state the exclusive right of educating the children in state or public schools. If, as they say, the child belongs to the state, the child's parents being themselves the children of their own parents, must likewise be the property of the state; and therefore we no longer have any freemen, but all men are the chattels or the slaves of the state! And as in some countries the masons and infidels claim to be the state, it would seem that they modestly (?) claim to own and dispose of their fellowmen just as they please. If, according to the masonic doctrine, both the child and his parents belong to the state, the state is obliged, not merely to educate the children, but also to feed, clothe, lodge, and provide with the comforts of life both the children and their parents—just as the state is now doing in its institutions for paupers and criminals! Such a doctrine, however, is evidently false and absurd, and utterly subversive of the order of nature.
Let us never lose sight of the grand fact that the state is composed, not of single individuals, but of' families. Without families, that is, with individuals only, the state could not be perpetuated, but would soon become extinct. To endure, the state must be composed of families i.e., of the parents and their children. Hence the unit of society or the state is the family, and not the isolated individual, just as the individual is the unit of the family. From this it follows that the family as an institution antedates the state, for, as everybody knows, every compound is posterior to its components. This being the case, the natural and logical conclusion is that the family has natural and essential rights which the state is bound to respect and even to protect; for these rights are inalienable, and independent of the state, because they are, as we have seen, prior to the state. Among these natural and essential rights of the family are the indissoluble union of husband and wife in matrimony, and the parental rights over the children.
The parental rights are derived from God Himself, the Author of nature and the Institutor of matrimony and the family. These rights, being only delegated by Him to the parents, are not unlimited and arbitrary; but they are defined, and accompanied by certain indispensable obligations. When the parents utterly neglect these sacred obligations, or are incompetent, or physically unable to discharge them properly, the state and other lawful authorities may, each within its own respective sphere, step in to assume control of the children. The state may enact just and equitable laws concerning marriage and education, but only in so far as these entail civil rights or effects; but said laws must in no wise usurp or antagonize the natural rights of the family or of the parents. The laws which in any way encroach on these essential and rights are unlawful, unjust, tyrannical, and not at all binding; and no one can, without gross and unpardonable injustice, be compelled to observe them or to submit to them.
Source: Popular Instructions on the Bringing Up of Children, Imprimatur 1897
This wonderful book in it's entirety can be found here.
A Message from Pope Pius XII
“The conflict between the good and the wicked, in whose ever-tangled strands of human actions and motives history is woven, has seldom, if ever, been so acute as it is today.
“While on the one hand, no matter where we look out upon the world from this Vatican citadel, we are filled with admiration and joy at the sight of the good people resplendent with those virtues, which, particularly in the glorious fortitude of martyrs, recall the ages of Christianity: yet on the other, we are overcome by grief and anguish as we perceive the iniquity of the unrighteous reach a degree of impiety that is incredible and without parallel . . .
“Proud neglect and disdain of divine things…is the most pernicious source of all evils and at the present time is insidiously spreading its ravages almost all over the world like a virulent disease; it is producing evils without number, especially in those countries where a conspiracy has been formed against the Lord and His ‘Christ’ . . .
“It deprives man of God and thereby robs him of his spiritual dignity, makes him the ignoble tool of materialism and utterly destroys all traces of virtue, love, hope and beauty of soul within him. We speak of atheism or, rather, hatred of God . . .
“Let nothing give more concern to you . . . than battling to defend the name of God . . .
“Let us worship with the greatest earnestness and care God’s loving presence in the sanctuary of a clear conscience . . .
“Let memory be filled with His most sweet presence; let the intellect be enlightened, the souls rejoiced and the will strengthened to act with purity, energy and piety . . .
“And whoever is strong in faith and rich in the treasures of a religious life should share these goods, as far as possible, with others . . .”
Pius XII Rome 12 February, 1949—on the occasion of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty’s sentence to life imprisonment by a Hungarian court.
"Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counselor." (Eccles 6:6)
God has told us that we must be kind and charitable to everyone. However, there is usually one who is especially dear to us, one who we choose to spend our time with and to talk with. This person is our friend.
There are many people that we come in contact with in our daily lives, but no one has the influence and effect on our lives that a friend does. "He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools, shall become like them." (Prov. 13: 20) St. John Bosco tells us to "fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake," and he says, "With tears in my eyes, I beseech you to keep far away from such companions." "But how," asks St. Ambrose, "can bad companions give you the odor of chastity when they exhale the stench of impurity? How can they infuse into you the sentiments of devotion when they themselves fly from it? How can they impart to you the shame of offending God, when they cast it away?" These seem to be rather harsh words; but they are used by the saints, and in Holy Scripture to show us the great importance of choosing our friends. It is so important in fact that it is the common opinion of the saints that this choice can mean the difference between Heaven and hell! It is for this reason that the choice of our friends should be so carefully made.
The Sacred Scriptures tell us that "A faithful friend is a strong defense: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure" (Eccles 6:14). A true and faithful friend is indeed a treasure; for, as St. Francis DeSales says, "It will be excellent, because it comes from God; excellent, because it tends to God; excellent, because it's very bond is God; excellent because, it shall last eternally in God." A true friend will be a good example to us. He will encourage us to obey our parents, to pray, to be honest, to avoid the occasions of sin, to progress in virtue, and to destroy our vices. Therefore, the greater our love for God, the greater this friendship will be.
I don't want you to think, however, that this friendship will be boring, and that all you will do is pray and read spiritual books. True friends will enjoy games, sports, and hobbies very much, as long as they are pleasing to God. they will enjoy lawful entertainments; such as baseball, checkers, shopping, woodworking, hiking, etc. Remember, the saints were not sad and gloomy people, on the contrary, they were joyful and pleasant, and they too enjoyed lawful entertainments. as a matter of fact they enjoyed them much more than false friends would, for true friends always do them with charity and honesty.
A true friend is also like treasure, in that it is very rare. They are hard to find; but when you find this best of friends you will know it, he will be like a glorious gift from God, a treasure from His Infinite Majesty. At times it may seem like we have no friends, but this is a time of trial that God sends us to unite us more closely to Him. Always remember that God is our very best Friend, and that He wants us to talk with Him and confide in Him as we would a very great and dear friend. God is, by His very nature infinitely greater than we are; and yet by His Incarnation and Birth, He asks us to become His friends. Our Lord gave us two great commandments when He was still on earth, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment, the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt. 22: 37-39) Remember these two commandments in their proper order and you shall be immensely happy both in this life and in the next.
It was mostly St. Caspar del Bufalo who spread the special devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. This holy priest of Italy was determined to make people honor the Precious Blood, and his sermons were like "religious earthquakes."
St. Caspar founded the Missioners of the Precious Blood, and another holy soul, Blessed Mary de Mattias was inspired by one of St. Caspar's sermons to start the Congregation of Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood. St. Caspar said he would die happy if a feast were established in honor of Our Savior's Precious Blood. Just twelve years after his death, Pope Pius IX established this Feast.
It is only right that we should honor the Precious Blood of Jesus, as we honor His Sacred Heart. Jesus shed H!is Precious Blood for our salvation many times during His life: when He was circumcised, when He sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He was scourged and crowned with thorns, when the soldiers nailed His hands and feet to the
cross, and when His heart was pierced with a sword.
Jesus shed His blood to the last drop to save us from hell. To honor the Precious Blood today we will offer to Jesus some little sacrifices
“And now you shall not see me.” John 16: 16.
Humanly speaking, these are strange words. Who could ever imagine that the sacred presence of our Lord Jesus Christ could ever be injurious to his disciples? And yet he says expressly, I am going away from you, and you will not see me any more; “but I tell you the truth; it is expedient to you that I go;” it is better for you not to see me any more. “If I go not,” added our Lord, “the Paraclete will not come to you.” The consolation you have in my presence is only a sensible one; this must be taken away from you, if you wish to receive the consolation and grace of the Holy Ghost. Now, if the consoling presence of our Lord on earth was incompatible with the presence by grace of the Holy Ghost, how, then, can that grace abide with willful, carnal glances at vanities, earthly beauties, or dangerous objects? Oh, certainly, a necessary means of guarding the heart and keeping it in the grace of God is watchfulness over our outward senses, especially the eyes. Hence,
I. He who allows his eyes to wander about curiously on all sides will not long remain free
from sin; and
II. In order to persevere in grace, we must all keep custody over our eyes,
I. Amongst all the outward senses there is none from which we can better judge the state of the soul, as to whether it is healthy or not, than from the eyes. “The fornication of a woman shall be known by the haughtiness of her eyes, and by her eye-lids;” (and the same is to be understood of men); therefore, “take heed of the impudence of her eyes” (Ecclus. 26: 12, 54). It is a rare and unusual occurrence for the fire of lust not to be ignited, when the eyes are allowed to rest needlessly and with satisfaction, on a person of the other sex. Bad thoughts are so many treacherous letters which the enemy of our souls sends to our hearts, to stir up impure images therein, and to persuade us to give up our souls to him. The spies who bring those letters are generally the eyes. “Death is come up through our windows” (Jerem. 9: 21). The look is followed by the thought, the thought by pleasure, and pleasure by consent,
It is an undoubted truth, discovered even by besotted heathens, that the eyes first lead to impure love; therefore Seleucus, a pagan legislator, commanded that, as a first punishment for adulterers, their eyes should be plucked out, because, as he said, that part should first suffer which was the first cause of the crime. The Holy Scripture often alludes to and condemns the eyes alone, as the chief cause of sin. Thus God, by the prophet Ezechiel, speaking of idolaters, declares: “I have broken their heart, that was faithless and revolted from me, and their eyes, that went a whoring after their idols” (Ezech. 6: 7). In the same way he reproaches, not the envious themselves, but their eyes: “The eye of the envious is wicked” (Ecclus. 14: 8). He calls, not the avaricious, but their eyes, insatiable: “The eye of the covetous man is insatiable in his portion of iniquity he will not be satisfied till he consume his own soul, drying it up” (Ibid. 9). In a word, in order that we may avoid all transgressions of the law, God warns us to mortify our eyes: “Let every man cast away the scandals of his eyes” (Ezech. 20:7).
Do you intend to avoid sin, and to keep on the right road to heaven? If so, what about your eyes? Do you allow them to wander about unhindered? Do you give them full liberty to gaze on everything that presents itself to them? Do you permit them to look with deliberate curiosity persons of the opposite sex, and to take pleasure in such looks? Do you wish to see and to be seen? Alas! if so, I venture to prophesy, no matter how innocent, pious, and firm may be your present good resolutions, your piety will not last long. You will not have a chaste heart, if your eyes are not modest. In a short time, you will be forced to sigh forth, with the prophet Jeremias: “My eye hath wasted my soul!” (Lament. 5: 51.) My soul was once rich in the treasures of divine grace which it had arduously collected. Alas! one curious look has robbed me of all those riches, “I saw and was lost,” you will have to acknowledge with the poet. In the morning, I confessed my sins with the firm resolution rather to die a thousand times than again offend my God. Yet, on the very same day, I looked on a dangerous object, and stained my conscience by a new sin: “I saw and was lost.” After hearing that sermon on the eternal truths, I thought heaven and earth would perish before I would consent to offend my God again; but, alas one imprudent glance has made me forget my resolution: “I saw, and was lost.” I went into the church in a state of innocence, to hear holy Mass, and to beg many graces from God, but I came away laden with mortal sin, the result of a single lustful glance at another’s beauty. “I saw, and was lost.” “Lust,” says St, Thomas of Aquin, “can hardly be avoided, unless its beginning, namely looking at a woman’s beauty, be avoided.” Therefore, the Holy Ghost warns us: “Look not upon a woman, lest thou fall into her snares: gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumbling block to thee; look not round about thee in the ways of the city, nor wander up and down in the streets thereof: turn away thy face from a woman dressed up, and gaze not upon another’s beauty” (Ecclus. 9: 3, 5, 7, 8).
“What?” Some will say: “must we, then, go about like blind men? Why has my Creator given me eyes, if not that I may use them? And what harm, is it for me to look at what pleases me?
I answer: Your Creator has given you ears to hear; are you, therefore, allowed to hear anything you please? He has given you a tongue to speak; can you therefore say whatever you like? He has given you hands to stretch forth, but not to take everything you please. And yet you are not obliged to go about deaf, dumb, or lame. Truly, you have eyes to see with, but not to look at everything you please. Otherwise, the Holy Ghost would not warn you so often to keep from gazing at another’s beauty; yet you are not forced on that account to go about like a blind man. “What harm is therein it?” you ask. And I ask you: What harm is it for a little child to take a sharp knife in its hand? And yet you do not allow him to keep it. Why? He has not yet cut himself with it. “That may be,” you reply; “but it is very dangerous, and he might hurt himself with it.” Seeing in itself is not sinful; but take care lest it be the beginning of sin.
What harm was it for Eve to look at the forbidden fruit in paradise? And yet, that one look brought death to her and to us all. Ah! Said Eve, let me look at it! Do not be afraid I will only admire the fruit. I will not stretch forth my hand to pluck it. I am not forbidden to look, but only to eat. Alas, if Eve had not looked, she would not have eaten, and she and all of us would not have lost paradise! Eating followed seeing, and the sin was consummated. What harm was it for the wife of Putiphar to look at her servant Joseph? Yet when she did so, shame, honor, and conjugal fidelity were cast to the winds. What harm was it for David that holy king, to look out through the windows of his palace at Bethsabee? And yet, if he had not done so, he would not have become an adulterer and a murderer. What harm was it for Ammon to look at his own sister? And yet those looks of his led him into incest. But what need is there of further proof? Often enough in our own days, we hear converted sinners giving expression to this heartfelt wish: “Ah! Would that I had never seen that person; I would not have fallen into sin!”
Therefore, keep the windows closed, if you do not wish to be robbed of your greatest treasure! Guard your eyes carefully, if you really wish to persevere in the friendship of God! If an angel had foretold to our first mother in paradise what would follow if she looked at the forbidden fruit, would she have been so incautious as not to have mortified her eyes? If the prophet Nathan had said to David when the latter opened the window of his palace, and was about to look out into his garden: “O David, what are you about to do? It would be better for you to fall down and break your neck than give that one unguarded look! You will forget your God, you will become a murderer and an adulterer, your favorite child will die ; dishonor will come upon your house, your son Absalom will drive you from your throne and persecute you until he dies on a tree in the state of sin and is lost forever; you will be made a laughing-stock to your own subjects, who will vilify and throw stones at you like a hunted dog, and all this will be as a punishment for your sin!” If such a dreadful announcement had been made to that then pious king, would he have been so foolish as still to have gratified his curiosity? That is not likely. And yet, one incautious glance, without his foreseeing any harm, or having the least bad intention, brought all that evil on him.
Dissolute young man! Vain girl! Weak mortals! I am neither a prophet, nor an angel; yet, I warn you that if you do not learn to keep your eyes always in check; if you give them full liberty to gaze at everything that offers itself to them; if you cast them freely on persons of the opposite sex; if you mix unrestrainedly in all kinds of company, you may be assured that it will soon be all up with your purity of heart. You will be guilty of murder and incest, if not in reality, at least in inclination and desire. Some of you will be tormented, day and night, by the spirit of impure love, which will give you no rest; some will seek opportunities, and consume the best years of their lives in impurity; some will be addicted to that vice till their old age, nay, till their death some will perhaps indulge in it publicly, before the whole town, And then, hear what follows: “Thus saith the Lord: If any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.”
II. If curiosity of the eyes is to be avoided with regard to dangerous objects, or persons, it is even more necessary with regard to dangerous reading. Just as there is nothing more useful for us if we wish to persevere in good, and to become more devout, than the reading of spiritual books, so also there is nothing more injurious, especially to holy purity, than the reading of books that treat of unchaste subjects and impure love. This is an accursed invention of the devil, with which he endeavors to infect hearts, as with a pestilence. His attacks in this way are directed chiefly against the young, whom he tries to bewitch, and to lead a-stray; nor is he hardly ever disappointed. If he can but induce a person to read a bad book through curiosity, he is tolerably sure of his soul. Alas, he scatters those abominable books abroad in all places, at all times, by wicked agents. Are not we poor mortals already versed enough, by our own corruption in this filthy knowledge, without being taught it by these agents of the devil? The crafty tempter well knows that with the ordinary run of good Christians be can do little by openly immoral books. Such books would rather disgust than attract them. In order then to ensnare their souls, he places before their eyes amusing comedies, well-written romances, sensational love-stories, full of passion, which are in reality more dangerous to soul, the more cunningly they conceal the filth they contain the more they are able to amuse, and the more eager they make the reader to know the end of the story; for they fill the heart and mind with violent and unruly desires and softly fan the flames of impure passion, feeding it and keeping it alive. Eternal truths, which should and ought to lead us to heaven, are often explained in sermons, and are sometimes listened to with pleasure! But, alas, how soon are they lost sight of! Hardly is the sermon over, when they are forgotten! But these love stories and romances generally so captivate the imagination and the memory of young people, that sometimes they are never forgotten. But, one may say: There is nothing wrong in those books, Father I read them only for the sake of the style,—for the skill shown in developing the plot. A fine excuse, indeed! You must be a great admirer of elegant language! There are enough Lives of the Saints and like spiritual books published (good specimens even of a better style, and filled with still more wonderful and true incidents), which elevate the mind and heart to heaven and heavenly things, and teach us how to a-mend our lives. Why do you not read those books with the same pleasure and eagerness? They are not mere fictions, which betray your understanding; they are true, and can instruct you not only in the beauties of style, but also in the duties of a Christian life. Ah I tell the truth, do you not slight those good books because their contents do not gratify your sensuality? And even if those romances and love tales were better written, should you not be more anxious about the purity of your soul than about the elegance of your style? More careful to live well, than to speak well? To be learned in the school of Christ, than in that of the demon of impurity?
Do you wish to act as a good Christian? Then pitch those filthy books at once into the fire, as an agreeable burnt-offering to God. Better for you to do that, than for one soul to be cast by them into the fire of hell.
“Woe to the man by whom the scandal cometh!” I must cry out here, in the threatening words of God to all those who give to others occasion of sin, by placing bad books in their way, or by allowing them to look at indecent statues or bad pictures, or by not observing the rules of modesty in their own dress; for all those things are so many snares to catch souls and to betray them into the clutches of the devil. Theologians teach that a woman (and the same is to be understood of a man) who knows for certain that she is the object of an impure affection commits a mortal sin if, without necessity or reasonable cause, she puts herself deliberately in the way of being seen by that person, although she has no intention or wish to excite an impure passion in him. Now, if the law of Christian charity binds every one, to avoid giving others such an occasion of sin, even when clad with a due regard to modesty, how shall they answer to God for their actions, who deliberately place in the way of others objects that, of their nature, are apt to incite them to sinful thoughts and desires ? All the sins others commit through his instrumentality will be recorded against him, although he may not have had the deliberate wish or intention to lead others into sin.
I might here give vent to a bitter complaint against those careless parents, who allow their innocent little children to see things that would be unlawful amongst unmarried people. Let no one tell me that the children are too young, and that they do not understand. Granted that they do not understand it now, are not the impressions of such things imprinted on their imaginations and memories, so that they will never be eradicated? If you have not another room in your house for your children, it were better to let them go and stay in the pig-sty, than see what could be an occasion of scandal to them, and ruin their precious souls. There are parents who toil and moil from morning till night, while their daughters do nothing but deck themselves out in the latest fashions, and let themselves be seen. Parents, watch over your children more carefully! Fish are never safe, unless when in water. If they leave their own element, they die in a short time. Never are your daughters safer that at home, under your own eyes, and occupied with some work befitting their condition. The goods exposed constantly in the shop windows are either damaged, or are in a fair way to become so. No matter how pious, devout, and innocent your daughters may be, if they are fond of seeing and being seen, although they may not do anything wrong outwardly, yet they will have wickedness enough in their hearts. When young maidens begin to go about too freely, they soon lose their virtue, as their hearts become sullied with sinful thoughts and desires.
Christian parents, I beseech of you, listen to the warning of holy Writ: “On a daughter that turneth not away herself, set a strict watch; lest, finding an opportunity, she abuse herself” (Ecclus. 26: 53). Father, look after your son! Mother, watch over your daughter, and keep her constantly at work at home: “Take heed of the impudence of her eyes, and wonder not if she slight thee” (Ibid. 14). If you let her have too much of her own way, you must not be surprised to find her dead to all shame in the end.
And know, that the Lord will require her soul at your hands. Christians, of whatever condition, sex, or age you may be, guard your eyes from all curious and vain glances, if you wish to persevere in the grace and service of God. Alas! In what fragile vases we carry about the precious treasure of sanctifying grace I our own carnal desires of themselves are always dragging us down into sin, and we are often forced to complain of our weakness and evil inclinations. Why, then, should we open the doors and windows to further temptations? Say to yourselves, each one of you: Have a little patience, O my eyes! Restrain yourselves for a short time! The beauty of creatures is not worth your consideration! In a little while, I will give you pleasure enough in heaven, where you may gaze forever on the infinite loveliness of God, on Jesus Christ, the most beautiful of the children of men, on Mary, the beautiful Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and on all the glories of the elect of God ! Reserve your curiosity till then I beg of you. Amen.
Source: The Penitent Christian, Imprimatur 1889
Just as we think of May as the month of Mary, in the same way to most of us June is the month of the Sacred Heart.
I remember, some years ago, finding myself in a bus with a nurse in charge of a small child. They were Catholics; the nurse was zealous and the small child looked decidedly angry. A discreet struggle was going on; at last a little hand was flung out, a small red badge fell to the ground, and the tiny conqueror said in a loud voice, "I don't want it." There was a low-toned explanation from the nurse, and the answer, not low at all, was, "I don't know what Sacred Heart means."
At once I found myself sympathizing with the child; it is so disagreeable to have to do a thing you do not understand. There are two ways out of the difficulty. You can, of course, refuse to do things, but that most often means some naughtiness getting mixed up with the matter; or you can try to understand, which seems to me much better.
"Do you know what Sacred Heart means?" Would you like to try to understand, for during the month of June, in the week following Corpus Christi, the Church keeps the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Have you ever had to work out a problem in arithmetic dealing with millions of florins and millions of people? Did your governess try to explain it to you ? If so, I am sure she stated it in terms of three and four pennies and a few little boys and girls. She began with something familiar to you, and before you knew what was happening I expect you saw just what that sum meant. Begin with something familiar now. Perhaps some of you have made your first Holy Communion this year, and for a long time before the priest and your mother often talked to you about getting your "heart" ready for our Lord. You understood quite well what they meant, and tried to make it very full of love—a golden throne from which the little King could rule the empire of your soul.
You have, I am sure, some special friend, and you speak to her or him as having "the kindest heart" in the world. That is plain. Suppose you were at school a long way from home and about the middle of term someone told you quite suddenly, "Your mother has come to see you." I can imagine your saying afterwards, "My heart jumped with joy." If you are a girl and a naughty little brother jumps from behind a door as you are going upstairs in the dark, would not your " heart almost stop with fear." If a friend has not acted quite fairly to you, or you are dreading some pain, you know that "your heart feels heavy"; indeed, if God has already allowed some great trouble to come to you, did you not think at the time that your "heart would break "? There is no difficulty at all in understanding this. It is quite simple; we are accustomed to speak in this manner, because in our minds that "heart" stands for all these ideas and emotions, and we always think of it as united to some person. By this time, I am sure, some of you are saying: "Oh yes ! I begin to see what that means."
Our dear Lord is such a great subject for our little minds that we often, as it were, get hold of just one side of Him. We begin to think that He is the great God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and in the process forget entirely that He became man.
Now, devotion to the Sacred Heart corrects this, and makes us remember that He had a human heart capable of all our emotions. It could beat quicker when He thought of His Mother; it could almost stop with fear; could be crushed by unkindness,and expand with gratitude just like yours and mine.
If we begin at the other end, and, in thinking that Jesus Christ is truly man, are in danger of forgetting His Divinity, the devotion to the Sacred Heart pulls us up with a kind of spiritual jerk, by the demand for our adoration. Of course, when we pray to the Sacred Heart all our devotion is offered to our Blessed Lord Himself, Who has taken our human nature and united it to His own Divine Person in such a wonderful way that we adore the Sacred Body as the Body of the Son of God.
Why do you genuflect each time you pass before the Blessed Sacrament ? Is it not because it is the Body of Christ ? Each part of that Body is adorable because united to the Divinity—the dear Hands that caressed the little children, and are raised over us so often in blessing and absolution; the Feet so wearied in seeking for sinners; the Face so insulted and dishonoured during the Passion: but in a special manner the Church draws our attention to the pierced Heart, for the very reasons of which we spoke above, and which makes us single out the heart to stand for so much in life. The statue of the Sacred Heart which I like best is in the church at Haverstock Hill, London.
At the end of the long altar rail is a white statue of our Blessed Lord, one hand rests upon His Heart, but the other points to the Tabernacle to remind us that there behind the tiny door is that loving Heart, not cut in stone or painted on canvas, but really living for us, waiting for our visit and longing to find a home in our heart.
Do you know who first spoke of devotion to the Sacred Heart ? If you were with me I quite expect I should hear many voices say, ''Blessed Margaret Mary," and perhaps a few, "St. Gertrude;" but I want you to look in your New Testament, St. Matthew, chapter eleven, verse twenty-nine, and you will find our dear Lord Himself saying these words: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of Heart." That is the real test of true devotion, you know. Do you learn the lessons it is meant to teach ? The Church, thinking of that text, has given us the beautiful invocation, "Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine."
Source: A Wreath of Feasts for the Little Ones, Imprimatur 1912
Below are some coloring pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.