You can find a variety of Guardian Angel coloring pictures in our download section under coloring pictures.
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.
I'm going to interrupt the progression of my posts about the Corporal Works of Mercy from Father Muller and share some information from his first book in the series called, "The Church and Her Enemies." If anyone wishes to download Father Muller's ebooks you can find them here. The following post is a long one but well worth the read.
"Come Holy Ghost fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love."
THE NINTH ARTICLE OF THE APOSTLES CREED
"THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH" *
FOR love of man, God created the boundless universe, with its stars and countless worlds, and he made the universe, the temple of his endless love. The stars of heaven, as they sweep along in silent harmony, are ever singing a wondrous song, and the sweet burden of their song is, "God is love and TRUTH." This world is the temple of God's love and truth. The green earth, with its flowers, is the carpeted floor. The clear sky above is the vaulted dome, its pillars are the mountains, white with eternal snow. The mists and vapor that are ever ascending, like the smoke of sacrifice, remind us of the thoughts of love and gratitude that should ever go up to heaven from our hearts. The whispering of the winds, the rush of the storm, the murmuring of the brook, and the roar of the cataract, are the music that raises our hearts to God. And when God had finished that wondrous temple of his love, "He saw that it was good." (Gen. i, 25.)
* Enough has been said to show that God teaches mankind through his Church. It would be proper now to explain what the Church teaches, beginning with the explanation of the Apostles Creed. But as many may wish to see in one volume the whole doctrine on the Church, it has been deemed advisable to place, in this volume, the explanation of the Ninth Article of the Creed.
For love of man, God has raised a still more wondrous temple, the temple of his holy Church. Millions and millions of chosen souls have aided in building this wondrous temple. Its foundation was laid at the gates of paradise. The patriarchs and prophets have labored at it, through the long ages of hope and expectation. It was completed, in the fullness of time, by the Only-Begotten of the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ. This temple of love was consecrated by the Holy Ghost on that wonderful day of love, the Feast of Pentecost. The summit of this glorious temple of love now rises to the highest heavens, and to the throne of the living God himself. In its depth, it reaches to that region of suffering where those are detained who are to be cleansed from all stain, before entering into the joys of heaven. In its width, it extends over all the earth, and shuts out no one who is willing to enter its portals. In this new creation, far more than in the old, God looks on those things that he made, and sees that they are "very good" What God does, is done well is a perfect work. The establishment of the Catholic Church is the grand work of his power; it is the greatest fact in history, a fact so great, that there would be no history without it; a fact permanent, entering into the concerns of all nations on the face of the earth, appearing again and again on the records of time, and benefiting, perceived or unperceived, directly or indirectly, socially, morally, and supernaturally, every member of the human family.
From the beginning of the world God always had but one Church to teach his religion to men, and lead them to heaven; Satan, too, from the beginning, has tried to have a church and a worship of his own. He found followers among the angels to refuse submission to God's holy will. Need we wonder at seeing him find followers among men! As the faithful servants of God are known and distinguished by their ready obedience to the divine authority of the Catholic Church, so those who are deceived by Satan are known by their want of submission to the divine authority of the Church. They form churches of their own, in opposition to the true Church of God. (The Novus Ordo is one of these) In the ninth century, the Greeks separated from the Roman Catholic Church, and formed a church of their own, called the Greek Church. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, Martin Luther, an apostate friar, preached a doctrine of his own ; he gained many followers in Germany, who left the Catholic Church, and formed what is called and known as the Lutheran, or Protestant, Church. In 1531, Henry VIII, King of England, fell away from the Catholic Church, and made himself the supreme head of the English, or Anglican, Church. These, and other churches, are the work of man. No doubt, every one who is acquainted with the life of our Lord and is asked:
1. How many churches did Christ establish ?
Will answer : Christ established but one church. Indeed, as there is but one Christ, so there is, and can be, but one Church of Christ. The Church is called the body of Christ. Now, as Christ has but one body, so he can have but one Church. Christ himself tells us plainly that he established but one Church. He did not say to St. Peter, upon thee I will build my churches : he said, "Upon thee I will build my Church." He never said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against my churches" he said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church." In fact; that our Lord established but one Church, is self-evident; it needs no proof. We are as certain of it as we are that there is but one God. St. Paul asserts this in the clearest terms: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism; "that is, as there is, and can be, but one Lord, so there is, and can be, but one faith, one religion, one Church. And as our Lord established but one Church, it follows, necessarily, that all other churches are not the work of Jesus Christ. They are the work of man; the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, alone is the work of God. (It is therefore impossible that the Catholic Church can be united with all other faiths, as Jorge Bergoglio says, he preaches heresy!)
All the works of God have something divine and supernatural about them, something that at once proclaims their divine origin ; something that distinguishes them, in an unmistakable manner, from the works of man. As the Catholic Church is the work of God, she has something about her to show that she is from God, she has marks graven on her which make it impossible for one to be mistaken about her being the true Church of Christ, she has the most incontestable proofs of her divine mission and authority, to convince all who wish to be convinced.
2. By what marks is the Church of Christ easily known ?
By these four : The Church of Christ is:
2. She is holy ;
3. She is Catholic ; and,
4. She is apostolic,
Above all, perfect unity must be found in the Church of Christ; for Christ calls his Church a "building," a "kingdom," a "city," a "flock," a "house," a body." In order to establish, insure, and preserve unity, he made St. Peter the foundation of the building, the chief ruler of the kingdom, the key-holder of the city and house, the principal shepherd of the flock, the head of the body. And on the eve of his passion, Christ asked for a unity in His Church, like that which unites the three divine persons in one and the same nature : "Father," he prayed, "keep them whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." (John xvii, 11.) Moreover, he prayed that this union might last forever, and that it should be the distinctive mark of his Church : "I pray, also," he says, "for all those who, through their word, shall believe in me, that they may all be one, as thou, Father, in me, arid I in thee, that the world may believe that thou
hast sent me." (John xx, 21.) The apostles express very clearly the necessity of unity, and show that it is a distinctive mark of the true Church: "Be careful," says St. Paul, "to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Unity, then, is a distinctive mark, and an essential condition of the Church of Christ. That Church which has no unity, cannot be the true Church, and that Church which has unity, must certainly be divine.
In the Church of Christ holiness also must be found, no less than unity. Christ shed his blood for no other purpose than to form for himself, says St. Paul, a pure Church, "without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. v, 25.) (Another mark that seems to be missing in Jorge's Church. I see no holiness, only rotten fruit) Our Lord said, "by their fruits you shall know them." (Matt. 7: 16) See the Church's commentary on this verse below.
Moreover, as the Church of Christ teaches the true faith, holiness must be the result of this faith, since Christ says: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit." (Matt. vii,18.) According to Christ's promise, miracles will be performed by the true believers of his Church, and bear "witness to her holiness." (Mark xvi, 17.)
The Church, however, is not composed of the elect alone, for Christ compares her to a net which draws out of the sea "good and bad fish" (Matt, xiii, 47); to a, field where the cockle grows together with the wheat, until the day of the harvest. (Matt, xiii, 30.)
Again, during his public life, Christ declared repeatedly that his unalterable purpose was to unite, in one religious society, all mankind, of every age and clime, and afford his followers the means to free themselves from sin, and become reconciled to God; to grow in purity and holiness of life, and thus enter into life everlasting. He spoke always and everywhere, in language most clear and explicit, of this note of universality, as one peculiar to his kingdom. (John x, 16; Matt, xxviii, 19.) All the prophecies relative to the Messiah spoke of the whole human race as the flock of Christ, whose kingdom was to extend its bounds "till it embraced all pagan nations." (Matt, xv, 24 ; Ps. cix, 2.) Christ's Church, therefore, must be Catholic, or universal.
Finally, Christ has most solemnly promised to be with his apostles to the end of the world, and he has made St. Peter the first Bishop of Rome, the foundation of the Church, and her supreme head. Christ's Church, therefore, must be apostolic. Holy Scripture itself gives us this full information about the marks of the true Church of Christ. And if it is asked :
3. Which Church is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic?
The answer is: The Roman Catholic Church alone is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.
It is easy to
4. Show how the Catholic Church is one.
The Catholic Church is one, because all her members are united:
1. in one faith;
2. in one worship;
3. under one infallible head.
1. The Catholic Church is one, because all her members are united in one faith. Unity is especially divine. It exists in its perfection only in the adorable Trinity. Wherever we find unity in created things, we may be sure that it is an image and reflection of God. Now, in this world, there is one society, and only one, in which unity has always existed, and has never been broken. This society is the Catholic Church. This society is the most numerous, the first, and the most ancient of all the communities that call themselves Christian. The Catholic Church is found in all kingdoms and states, it reaches from pole to pole, from east to west ; embraces all ranks and classes of men. The members of the Catholic Church differ from one another in their character, in their education, in their modes of thought ~ they differ in their language, in their habits of life, in their sympathies and prejudices; in a word, they differ from one another in everything that distinguishes man from man. But in one thing they are all united : in religion. In religion, alone, they are all of one mind and one heart. In this wonderful society you will find the passionate Italian, with his glowing imagination ; you will find, also, the stolid and tenacious Englishman ; the lively and brilliant Frenchman ; and the quiet, thoughtful German. You will find there the stately Spaniard ; the witty, impulsive Irishman, and the acute and practical American. All these, and so many other races, though they contrast violently with one another in every natural gift and habit ; though they retain all their distinctive peculiarities as men and citizens, yet in religion they are all one absolutely one. Throughout the whole Catholic world, the myriads of every nation, climate, and language, nobles and peasants, monarchs and slaves, philosophers and little children, there exists a unity of faith and doctrine, so divine and absolute, so spontaneous and yet so perfect, so unshackled and yet so complete, that a cardinal in Rome or a neophyte in China, a mathematician in Holland or a wood-cutter in Syria, or a little child anywhere, would give, in substance, the same answer to any question upon any doctrine of the Church.
2. When their children are born, all bring them to be regenerated in the same waters of baptism. When they become unfaithful to their baptismal vows, and sin against God's commandments, they all have recourse to the same tribunal of penance. They all seek strength at the same Eucharistic table, and, animated by the same faith, they receive truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In sickness, when they are about to appear before their God, they all send for the priest of the Church, and receive the sacrament of Extreme Unction. They all are one, not only in faith, but also in worship. And what more natural than this oneness in worship, Christ, who taught us our religion, has also taught us how to worship his heavenly Father in a manner worthy of his divine majesty. He instituted the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in which he is at once the High-Priest and the Victim. Through the hands of his priests he offers himself for us to his heavenly Father as a sacrifice of adoration, of thanksgiving, of atonement, and of impetration. Since the institution of the Mass, paradise blooms again, the heavens are purple, the angels shine in white, and men are exhilarated. This sublime and profound mystery, which scandalizes obstinate unbelievers, and arouses the pride of Protestants, is nevertheless, that which renews the face of the earth, satisfies the justice of God redeems man unto salvation, opens heaven, sanctifies the world, and disarms hell. It is this mystery which has engendered a more holy religion, a more spiritual worship, and a purer virtue among men, because it is more interior from it spring the most efficacious sacrament, more abundant graces, more sublime ceremonies, more perfect laws ; it is that tender adoption of men, as children of God, substituted for the more ancient alliance between God and man, which was founded upon fear. This mystery is the striking manifestation of all truths, and the censure of all errors : all vices find their condemnation therein, all virtues their principle, all merits their recompense ; it is, in short, the foundation of faith, the support of hope, and the most powerful motive for the love of God.
The holy Mass is the sun of Christianity, and the summary of all that is grand, and magnificent, and most prodigious, both in the triumphant and in the militant Church of God. The angels almost envy us this divine sacrifice. Protestants and infidels may say, with a sneer, that it is the pomp and glitter of our ceremonies and altars that draw the faithful to the church. Not so. The fickle nature of man cannot be charmed long by such transitory things. Our altars, indeed, we adorn, we decorate our churches, we embellish the priestly vestments, we display the gorgeous ceremonies of the Church, but not to attract the people ; we do all this simply because our Lord Jesus Christ is present there, our Saviour and our God, surrounded by countless myriads of angels. This is the grand source of the magnificence of our architecture, the gorgeousness of our vestments, the diversity of our Ornaments, the sound of our organs, the religious harmony of our voices, and the grandeur and order of all our ceremonies, both in the consecration and dedication of our churches, and the solemn celebration of the Mass. This is the reason why we adorn ourselves with our gayest attire, why we rifle the gardens of their sweetest and choicest flowers to decorate our altars, and scatter them in lavish profusion before the feet of our sacramental King. This is the reason why our sacred altars glitter and sparkle with cheerful lights, while clouds of sweet-smelling incense float up and around the sacred Victim.
It is related of Frederick II, King of Prussia, that, after having assisted at a solemn high Mass, celebrated in the church of Breslau by Cardinal Tringendorf, he remarked : "The Calvinists treat God as an inferior, the Lutherans treat him as an equal, but the Catholics treat him as God." Yes, indeed ; it is only the Catholic Church that is the home for our dear Saviour. His presence fills her halls to over flowing with joy and gladness. Her propitiatory altars are the anchors of hope for the sinner, her sanctuaries, the antechambers of heaven. Take away the Blessed Sacrament, and you take away her Saviour. Give her the Blessed Sacrament, and you give her a glory, an honor, a triumph, the greatest possible this side of paradise. Her altars are the altars of joy, because they are the altars of the saving Victim for the sins of the world ; for which reason the robed priest begins the tremendous sacrifice with the antiphon : "I will go unto the altar of God, to God who rejoiceth my youth."
This sacrifice of adoration, of thanksgiving, of atonement, and of impetration, is offered up daily, nay, hourly, all over the world. To it come the simple peasant from his woods; the shepherd from the mountains; the man of already the sweet spell upon him, and finds his heart beating in unison with the great heart of the Church, as if he had been suckled at her breast, and had lain in her bosom from infancy. In the whole history of the human race there is no record of any such miracle as this. Even were all the dead to rise from their graves, and to crowd our streets and thoroughfares, it would not be a greater miracle. Like the Jews of old, the men of the present generation "desire a sign," in order that they may believe; and now here is a sign, a standing miracle, more luminous, more dazzling, than the noonday sun. "Truly the finger of God is here."
One day a certain Protestant of Pennsylvania came to Archbishop Kenrick, of Baltimore, to tell him that he wished to become a Catholic. "What induced you," asked the archbishop, "to take this step ?" "The bugs, the bugs!" he replied. "What do you mean by that ?" "I have often noticed," said he, "how in nature animals follow their leader, and are kept united together by him. The same must be true in religion : only that one can be of divine origin which has a leader whom all are bound to follow. As I find this only in the Catholic Church, I feel convinced that she is the true Church, in which alone I can be saved." If St. Paul could say to the heathens, "You might have found out the true God by his works, if you had cared to do so," surely God may say, in the great day, to the children out of the Catholic Church : "You might have known the true Church by her unity, if you had not closed your eyes."
The next mark by which Christ wished his Church to be distinguished is that of holiness. But, in speaking of the holiness of the Catholic Church, we do not mean to say that every member of the Church is holy. The field of the Church is wide, and has weeds as well as wheat. In the very company chosen by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, there was a Peter who denied him, and a Judas who betrayed him. So it is at the present day, So it will be to the end of time.
Commentary taken from the Douay Rheims version of the Bible ~ VERSE. 16. As the true Church is known by the four marks of its being one, holy, catholic, and apostolical, so heretics and false teachers are known by certain vices, and the pernicious effects of their novelties in religion. As the true Church is one, by its members submitting with humility to the authority established by Christ, (he that will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as the heathen and the publican. Mat. xviii. 17.) so are false teachers known by their separation from the ancient Church, and their divisions among themselves, the necessary consequences of rebelling against the authority established by Christ, and alone capable of determining controversies. The same pride and other secret vices which make them despise government, (2 Peter ii. 10.) make them also not afraid to bring in sects of perdition, blaspheming, and this in civil government as well as ecclesiastical. Those that called themselves Reformers, in the beginning of the 16th century, of all others were remarkable in this. What bloody tumults and wars were there not produced in Germany, by the first Reformers in that country! Calvin overturned the government of Geneva; and his followers, under the name Hugonots, filled France for a great length of time with slaughter and civil wars, frequently shaking the throne itself. In this country, the first cause of its separation from the universal Church, was the unbridled passion of a tyrant: the effects were adultery, and the murder of the successive queens that he had taken to his adulterous bed. In the reign of his successor, the insatiate avarice of a corrupt nobility, gratified with the sacrilegious plunder of the Church, established what is called the Reformation. The fear of being compelled to disgorge the fruits of their rapine, contributed much to the confirmation of that order of things in the reign of Elizabeth. She was inclined to it by the circumstances of her birth, which could not be legitimate, if her father's marriage with Catharine of Arragon was valid, as the first authority in the Catholic Church had declared. The natural spirit of this heresy, though checked a while and kept under by the despotical government of this queen, appeared in its own colours soon after, and produced its natural fruits in the turbulence of the times that succeeded, and the multiplicity of sects that are continually springing up to this very day.--As the true Church is holy, recommending various exercises of religion tending to purify human nature, and render men holy, as fasting, confession of sins, evangelical counsels, so false teachers cast off all these, promising liberty, (2 Pet. ii. 16.) and giving full rein to the lustful passions, thus giving a liberty of living, as well as a liberty of believing.—Another fruit of false teachers is, separation from what was the Universal Church before their time, and which continues to be still the far greater part, not being confined to one state or country. If some modern principles, of not allowing any communion of religion out of each state, were admitted, as many religions should have been established by heaven as men think proper to establish different states; nor could Christ have given one for all mankind, under whatever state or form of government they might live.--
Finally, false teachers are to be known by their not being able to shew, that they have received their doctrine and mission from the apostles, in a regular succession from them. Some of our modern divines would spurn at the idea of their holding their doctrine and orders from the Catholic Church, such as it existed at the time of the Reformation, which is precisely such as it exists at the present moment.—In answer to this it has been retorted, that the fruits of the Catholic religion have been as bad, or worse; and the horrors of the French revolution are particularly mentioned, as a proof. . . . That great crimes have been committed by those who professed themselves Catholics, is not denied; but that they were prompted to them by the nature of their religion, is certainly not admitted. The revolution of France in particular, was the effect of the people falling off from their religion. As well may the Puritans, that brought Charles to the block, be said to be Catholics, because they or their parents once had been such: as well may the present bench of Protestant bishops be said to be Catholics, because the bishops of their sees once were so; or that Robespierre, Marat, and the Jacobins that persecuted catholicity in France, and brought its too indulgent sovereign to the guillotine, were Catholics, or directed in the least by Catholic principles.
5. Show how the Catholic Church is holy ?
We answer : The Catholic Church is holy :
1. in Jesus Christ, her Founder ;
2. in her doctrine, which is Christ s doctrine;
3. in her means of grace, the proper use of which makes us h6lyt;
4. in many of her members, whose holiness has been confirmed by miracles and extraordinary gifts.
1. The Catholic Church is holy in her Founder, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But what mind of man or angel can conceive the greatness of the holiness of Jesus Christ, which is, indeed, infinite ? To say that his holiness is greater than that of all the saints and angels united, is to fall infinitely below it. Jesus Christ, as God, is infinite holiness itself, and the sum of our conception of holiness is but the smallest atom of the holiness of God. David, contemplating the divine holiness, and seeing that he could not, and never would, be able to comprehend it, could only exclaim : "Lord ! who is like unto thee ?" (Ps. xxxiv, 10.) Lord! what holiness shall ever be found like to thine ? It is an utter impossibility for any human or angelic understanding to conceive an adequate idea of the holiness of Christ. All we can say is, that his holiness is infinite. The Catholic Church, then, is holy in her divine Founder.
2. The Catholic Church is also holy in her doctrine, which is the doctrine of Christ and his holy apostles, and his doctrine is the expression of the will of his heavenly Father : "My doctrine is not mine, but of him that sent me." (John vii, 16.) As the will of God is most holy, so also the doctrine expressing the holy will of God must be most holy. Hence, the book containing the word of God is called the holy Bible, or holy Scripture. Every action and every word of our Saviour breathes holiness, inspires holiness, and leads to holiness. Therefore he calls those blessed who learn his doctrine : "Blessed are your ears, because they hear. For, wnen I say to you, many prophets and just men have desired to hear the things that you hear, and have not "You are a chosen generation a holy nation." says St. Peter of the Christians. (1 Pet. ii, 9.)
The very enemies of the Catholic Church bear witness to the holiness of her doctrine. Why have so many fallen away from her faith ? It is because they had not courage enough to live up to her holy precepts. Why is it that so many do not embrace the Catholic faith who know that the Catholic Church is the only true Church of Christ? It is because they are afraid of her holy morals. Even the most wicked feel naturally convinced that the Catholic religion is holy: a fault in a Catholic is considered, and considered rightly, more grave than in one who is not a Catholic.
3. The Church is holy in her means of grace. It is her office to make men holy. She holds out to her children not only the holy example and doctrine of her divine Founder as the pathway to holiness, she also offers to them the means of grace, which enable them to live up to her holy doctrine. By his divine example and holy doctrine Christ showed us the narrow road that leads to heaven. But what would it avail us to know the road to heaven, if we had no strength to walk on that strait, and, to fallen humanity, hard road. This strength we have not of ourselves. God is the greatest supernatural good. We can, then, acquire this good only by supernatural strength, that is, by the help of Almighty God. By his sufferings and death, Christ obtained for us all the graces necessary to live up to his holy doctrine, to overcome all the evil inclinations of fallen nature, all the temptations, all the trials and struggles of life. These graces he wished to be applied to our souls by means of the sacraments and prayer, and he appointed his Church to sanctify her children by these means of grace. The child is born in sin; the Church cleanses it in baptism, and makes it a child of God. The child is weak ; the Church strengthens it in confirmation, makes it a brave soldier, to battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The child is wounded, falls into sin; the Church, like the good physician, probes the wounds, and pours into the bleeding heart the oil and wine of hope and consolation, in the sacrament of penance. The child is hungry and weary ; the Church feeds it with heavenly food, nourishes and refreshes it with the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The heart of the young man feels the fire of that love which first came from God, and which has become unholy only by abuse, and the Church, like a fond mother, sanctifies and preserves this natural love of the bridegroom and the bride. In the holy sacrament of marriage she blesses this love before the altar of God, and declares its bonds perpetual. And should the heart of the young man aspire to a higher and holier destiny ; should he desire, in his inmost soul, to soar high above the weakening tenderness of mere human love, should he desire to become the saviour of his fellow-men, the cooperator with God himself in the great work of redemption, the holy Church leads him by the hand, she "blesses, sanctifies, and consecrates" him before the altar of God ; she makes him a priest forever, a priest of the Most High God. At last, when her child is dying, the holy Catholic Church comes to his bedside with sanctifying oil and the prayer of faith; she administers to him the sacrament of Extreme Unction, to strengthen and console him in his fearful death-struggle. But her love does not end at the bed of death. She opens wide the doors of her temple ; she offers an asylum even to the dead body of her child. She blesses that body which was once the temple of the living God, and she even consecrates the very ground in which that body is laid to rest. The love of the Church for her children does not pause even at the grave. Day after day she offers up her prayers ; day after day she offers up the holy sacrifice of the altar for the souls of her children departed. The husband may forget the wife of his bosom, the mother may forget the child of her heart, but the holy Church does not forget her children, not even in death : her love is divine, it is eternal. And in this love the Church is impartial : she is just to all. As the holy spouse of Christ, she loves justice and hates iniquity. She has spurned the anointed king from the temple of God, until he repented of his crime ; and on the head of the lowly monk, who spent his days in labor and prayer, she has placed the triple crown. At one moment she bathes with baptismal dew the peasant's child; and at another, she boldly confronts the imperial might that dares assail her holy altar. Now the Church is accused of despotism, because she upholds the rights of lawful authority ; and again, she is accused of arrogance, because she dares to protect the poor, the down trodden, and the friendless. She blesses all things that are good in this world, she protects and encourages the fine arts. Truth is the essence of order, the essence of beauty. Religious truth is heavenly order, is supernatural beauty. The Church is the living spouse of heavenly truth ; she must, therefore, be the friend, the protector, of all beauty and order, and so she has proved to be for over eighteen hundred years.
In the Church, all that is good and beautiful in art or nature has been purified as in a heavenly crucible, and consecrated to the service of religion. The poet seeks to please the imaginations of men, and the Church unfolds before him the annals of Christianity. She tells him of the august sacrifice of infinite love, which is her soul and life, and she tells him of her heroic sufferings, of her martyr faith ; and the poet draws holy inspiration from these touching records, and incites men to a higher, to a holier life.
The painter and the sculptor seek to place before our eyes the happiest, the most sublime of conceptions, and the Church bids them look into her treasure-house, where they find the most perfect models of every virtue, models of pure, of noble, of heroic self-sacrifice.
The architect seeks to build up a monument of strength, and intellect, and beauty; and the Church unlocks for him the sublime, mysterious meanings of her ceremonies and symbols. Guided by her inspiration, he teaches the lifeless stone, he teaches the spreading arch, the pointed spire,to speak to men of faith, of hope, of love; he teaches them to speak of prayer, of sacrifice, of heaven.
The orator strives to nerve men for the solemn duties, the grand conflicts of life; the Church of Christ, touches his lips with living fire from the altar, and his eloquence flows on in an impetuous stream of "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."
The musician seeks to weave his entrancing spells around ear, and heart, and soul; and the Church breathes into his soul the glorious, wondrous melodies which she has borrowed from the angels of heaven, and her music seems like beatific worship, and the worship on earth like beatific music.
4. The Church is holy in many of her members. What is more natural than this ? A mother that teaches her children so holy a doctrine, sets before them constantly the example of her divine Founder, that they may live and die as he did. A mother that has such powerful means to sanctify her children, cannot but be holy in the fruits of sanctity, in the saints, and in the sacred institutions which she has produced.
To be convinced of the personal sanctity of millions of her children, we have but to "pen the annals of Church history. " There we read of thousands of men and women who fulfilled the saying of Christ : "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel, shall save it." (Mark
viii, 35.) Such was the havoc made during the early persecutions of the Church, that her martyrs alone amount to thirty thousand for every day in the year. How many thousands of the children of the Church followed that saying of the Lord : "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and come, follow me!" (Matt, xix, 21.) And, "Every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name s sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall possess life everlasting. (Matt, xix, 29.) Astonishing, indeed, is the number of those who have followed this saying of our Lord, by embracing the religious life.
St. Athanasius writes that in his time there were monasteries like tabernacles, full of heavenly choirs of people, who spent their time in singing psalms, in reading and praying that they occupied a large extent of land, and made, as it were, a town among themselves. Such immense numbers resorted to the religious life in Palestine, that Isidore was the superior of one thousand monks, and his successor, Apollonius, of five thousand in the same monastery. In the cloistered community of Orynchus there were ten thousand monks. Upon a hill in Nitria, about twenty miles from Alexandria, there were five hundred monasteries under one superior. Palladius relates that he saw a city in which there were more monasteries than houses of seculars,"so that, every street and corner ringing with the divine praises, the whole city seemed a church." He also testifies to having seen multitudes of monks in Memphis and Babylon, and that not far from. These he met with a Father of three thousand monks.
St. Pachomius, who lived about three hundred years after Christ, had seven thousand disciples, besides one thousand in his own house, and Serapion had ten thousand monks under his jurisdiction.
Theodoret records that there were also multitudes of religious women throughout the East, in Palestine, Egypt, Asia, Pontus, Cilfcia, Syria, and also in Europe : "Since our Saviour," he says, "was born of a Virgin Mother, the fields of holy virgins are everywhere multiplied." Nor was the great increase of religious houses confined to the early ages of the Church, for Trithemius, who died about the year 1516, says that, in his time, the province of Ments alone contained one hundred and twenty-four abbeys ; and that there was a time when they had fifteen thousand abbeys, besides priories and other small monasteries, belonging to his order.
St. Bernard, in his Life of St. Malachy, records that, in Ireland, there was a monastery out of which many thousands of monks had come forth : "A holy place indeed," he says, "and fruitful in saints, bringing forth abundant fruit to God, insomuch that one man alone of that holy congregation, whose name was Luanus, is reported to have been the founder of one hundred monasteries. And these swarms of saints have not only spread themselves in Ireland and Scotland, but have also gone into foreign parts ; for St. Columba, coming from thence into France, built the monastery of Luxovium, and raised there a great people, their number being so great that the divine praises were sung by them day and night without intermission. St. Columba founded one hundred monasteries, of which thirty-seven were in Ireland, a country which was, for centuries, known all over Europe as the Island of "Saints and of Doctors." According to Archdall, there were in Ireland seven hundred and forty-two religious houses.
St. Bernard, in the space of thirtv years that he was abbot, founded one hundred and sixty monasteries. So rapid was the progress of his order that, in the space of fifty years from its establishment, it had acquired five hundred abbeys, and at one time no fewer than eight hundred were dependent on Clairvaux.
The Franciscans seem to have been particularly blessed in the speedy and extensive propagation of their order for, about the year 1600, one branch of this order, called the Observantines, is said to have numbered one hundred thousand members. This order reckons at present two hundred thousand men and three hundred thousand sisters, including the tertiaries. It possesses two hundred and fifty-two provinces and twenty-six thousand convents, of which five are in Palestine, and over thirty in Turkey. More than eighty-nine emperors, kings and queens have been admitted into the order, which has, moreover, the glory of having furnished three thousand saints, or beatified persons, of whom seventeen hundred are martyrs.
Nor is the Church less holy in many of her members, in our day. Who really takes Christian care of the poor, the sick, and the friendless, but the Catholic Church ? She has founded such orders as the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and so many others, in order to administer to their wants. Where can you find, outside of the Catholic Church, that young and beautiful virgin, who lays at the foot of the cross her youth, her wealth, and her beauty ; who sacrifices all earthly hope and love, to spend her days in a loathsome hospital, and to watch, during the long, dull night, by the bedside of the sick and dying ? The charitable, heroic deeds of these holy virgins have already brought conviction to the minds and hearts of many non-Catholics.
St. John the Evangelist tells us that our Saviour cured one day a young man who had been born blind. The Pharisees heard of this, and were filled with rage and envy. They took the young man aside, and said to him: "Give glory to God, that man that cured you is a sinner. "Well," said the young man, "whether he be a sinner or not, I cannot say. But one thing I do know, and that is, that he has cured me. God does not hear sinners. If this man were not from God, he could not do such things." (John ix.) This was the argument of the young man in the Gospel; this, too, is the simple argument of every honest non-Catholic. The bigots and Protestant preachers say to the returned soldier, to the young man who has just come forth from the hospital where he suffered during a long and painful illness: "The Catholic Church is
sinful and corrupt." "Well" the young man answers, "whether she is corrupt or not, I do not know, but one thing I do know, and that is, that I was at the point of death, and now I am well : and I owe it, after God, to the good Sisters of the Catholic Church. They waited on me in the hospital, in the battle-field, they nursed me as tenderly as a mother or a sister could have done : and they did it without pay? without any human motive or reward. Now, a bad tree cannot bring forth such good fruit. If the Catholic Church were as sinful and corrupt as you say, God would not give her children such heroic devotedness."
Behold, again, the holy charity of the Catholic Church toward the very outcasts of society, those poor, fallen creatures, that have become the dishonor of their sex ! See how closely she imitates her divine spouse, our Lord Jesus Christ ! Jesus is present at a great feast. A poor, sinful woman, notorious on account of her wicked life, falls prostrate at his feet. She washes his feet with her tears, and wipes them with her hair. The Pharisees are shocked and scandalized. They say in their hearts: "This man is no prophet ; if he were a prophet, he would know what kind of a woman that is who kneels at his feet; he would spurn her from him." But Jesus knows well the sinful life of Magdalen, and yet he does not reject her. On the contrary, he defends her before them all, and says to her: "My child, go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee !" Ah, how full of mercy and compassion is the heart of Jesus Christ ! Now look upon his spouse, the holy Catholic Church, and see if she is not worthy of her heavenly Bridegroom ! The unfortunate woman whom many have helped to drag into destruction, has not now a hand stretched out to save her. The world that allured and ruined her despises her, and laughs her to scorn. The proud, self-righteous Pharisee turns away from her in horror and disgust. The grace of God at last touches her heart. She sees herself abandoned by all, she turns her despairing eyes to God. Friendless, homeless, and alone, she wanders through the dark by-ways of this valley of tears till at last she stands at the ever-open portals of the holy Catholic Church. She enters, she falls at the feet of the priest of Jesus Christ. She weeps, she repents, she is forgiven.
See those pure virgin nuns, who are justly called the Daughters of the Good Shepherd ! They have sworn, before the altar of God, to devote their whole life to the reformation of these poor outcasts of society, these unhappy victims of a heartless world. See how gently they receive the fallen one, how kindly they treat her ! See how she enters the convent chapel, and at the very feet of Jesus, in the blessed sacrament, she pours out her prayers, and sighs, and tears ! She experiences at last that there is rest for the weary, that there is hope for the sinner; that there is, indeed, a heaven on earth, in the holy Catholic Church.
In every age, and in every country through which the Catholic religion has spread, there have been many Catholics who showed, in their daily conduct, that they complied with the words of St. Paul : "This is the will of God, your sanctification." (I Thess. iv, 3.) They were scrupulous keepers of the commandments of God, fulfilling the whole law and the prophets. How could it be otherwise ? Jesus Christ, in the blessed sacrament, this divine food, the source of all sanctity, never ceases to bring forth holy bishops, like St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Liguori, holy priests, like St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis Xavier, St. Peter Claver; holy virgins, like St. Teresa, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Zita, St. Rose of Lima ; holy widows, like St. Frances de Chantal ; holy martyrs, like Borie, Gagelin, and so many others.
That God confirmed the holiness of his servants by many miracles and extraordinary gifts, may be read in the Lives of the Saints, or in any Church history. "Amen, amen, I say to you," said Christ, "he that believeth in me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do" (John xiv, 12) ; and, "These signs shall follow them that believe : In my name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark xvi, 17, 18.) Accordingly, we read that SS. Paphnutius, Remigius, Otto, Robert, Dominic, and many others, cast out the devil from possessed persons. When St. Bernardine of Sienna, St. Anthony of Padua, St Francis Xavier, and others, preached to an audience composed of people from different countries, every one believed he heard his own tongue spoken. St. Hilary, St. Magnus, St. Patrick, and others, banished snakes and other reptiles. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus moved a mountain, to obtain a site for a Church. St. Patrick, St. Martin, St. Benedict, St. Dominic, St. Anthony, St. Francis of Paula, and many others, raised dead persons to life. St. Francis Xavier raised twenty-five, and St. John Capistran, thirty dead persons to life. St. Stanislas the Martyr restored a man to life who had died three years before, and presented him before the court to testify that he had bought from him a certain piece of ground for his church, and that he had paid him in full.
The Catholic Church, then, is holy in her doctrine and means of grace ; she is holy in all those of her members who live up to her holy doctrine. She is holy in the strenuous efforts which she has always made to put down errors, correct abuses, destroy sin, and cure all kinds of evils. Any one who reads, for instance, the acts of the Council of Trent, cannot fail to notice that one-half of its chapters treat of the great work of reformation. In this council the Church proscribes duels, reduces liturgies to unity, banishes profane airs and secular music from her
temples, institutes seminaries for the education of the clergy, establishes, at cathedrals, free-schools and lectures on holy Scripture, for the instruction of the people , she reminds her pastors that they are bound to continence, to residence, to frequent and diligent preaching ; she interdicts all appearance of simony and venality in the distribution of ecclesiastical offices, in preaching indulgences, and in administering the sacraments. Thus the tree is pruned, but not uprooted, the pastors, those heavenly physicians, cure their patients, but do not kill them ; the clergy and the religious orders are reformed, but the priesthood and the religious state are not abolished, incontinence is suppressed, though universal marriage is not preached, the weeds in the field of the Lord are plucked up? but the good seed is preserved. This is a reformation, not of the Church, but by the Church, a reformation to bring about which, she was established by Christ ; a reformation which she accomplishes by her general councils, by her zealous bishops and holy priests, by her fervent religious orders and congregations of both sexes, and by so many pious confraternities. But the Church herself, her doctrine, her means of grace, her order of government, are all divine and holy, and therefore can never be reformed: it would be a monstrous impiety to say that she could be reformed.
What a glorious Church is ours ! What power but that of God could make her so divinely one in her faith, in her morality, in her worship, in her government ? What holiness but that of the Lord could make her so holy in. her Founder, in her doctrine, in her sacraments, in her members ? What more natural than that the Lord of all power and of all holiness should make this Church Catholic, as to time, place, and doctrine ?
Do you see holiness when looking at the Church that is in the Vatican now? I certainly don't.
To be continued . . . . . . . . . .
I have had requests to share our families Catholic Calendar again so here it is. This is not an official calendar of the Catholic Church. It was put together by a lay person using the Saint Andrew Daily Missal, Imprimatur 1951, The Catholic Girls Guide, Imprimatur 1908 and the Motu Proprio of Pope Pius XII which went into effect on March 25, 1957, the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you would please bring any mistakes to our attention at: firstname.lastname@example.org, we would appreciate it! God bless you all!
You can find the calendar below or on our Catholic Calendar page.
4. To comfort the sorrowful.
Great, very great indeed, is the number of those who feel desolate and sorrowful. Some are desolate on account of the loss of temporal goods; others, on account of the loss of a dear parent, husband, wife, a darling child; a true, faithful friend, others, are desolate on account of
scrupulosity; others, on account of spiritual dryness and so on.
It happened not long ago, that the parents, husband, and several children of a good mother died in the time of an epidemic. The good woman felt quite desolate, and, as it were, forsaken by God and man. Her means were all exhausted, and she saw no way of supporting herself and two little children. She could neither eat nor sleep. She wept day and night, and was reduced
to a mere skeleton. One day she went to see an old friend, who, some years previous, had suffered in the same way. To her she poured out her heart. After she had communicated all her afflictions of body and soul, her friend, a true servant of God, spoke to her in the following manner : "I sympathize with you more than I can tell you. I feel your crosses as if they were my
own. I have suffered in the same way some years ago. At first, I found it very difficult to be resigned to the holy will of God. I went to see my confessor, who is a true, faithful father of the sorrowful and afflicted. I have never forgotten his consoling words, and I have often repeated them for the consolation of those who, in their affliction, came to see me. They are as follows: "My dear child, said he, the Lord treats you as one of his best children. He has deprived you of what was most near and dear to you, now you are poor and desolate. But now it is that you can say in truth : Our Father, who art in heaven." As long as you are poor, you feel more dependent on God. You become thereby more closely united to God. It is, then, really a clear mark of his love when God takes away from you the goods of this world. He loves you. He is a jealous God. He wishes to take entire possession of your heart, of all your affections, and, therefore, he weans you from all things in this world, lest you should love them too much. God foresees that, if you were rich, and could enjoy the pleasures of this world, you would perhaps soon forget him, you would fall into grievous sins and be lost. He, therefore, deprives you of the dangerous gift of riches, just as you take away a sharp knife from the hands of your child. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of divine Love and He is called "The Father of the Poor, He is the Father of the Poor, precisely because He is infinite Love. How consoling is this thought ! Be not solicitous, therefore, saying : What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, wherewith shall we be clothed ? . . . For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things." (Matt, vi., 31-32.)
"You say that you have to suffer. That is true ; but who is there, in this world that does not suffer? There is not one. There is no man on earth without some trouble, whether he be beggar, Pope or king. You envy, perhaps, that rich man who steps so grandly out of his carriage, who is bowed into his splendid residence by a retinue of servants; but could you only look into his heart, you would, perhaps, see there a load of care and misery, compared to which, all your troubles are as nothing. Believe me, the gorgeous palaces of the rich, are too often but the gilded prisons of weary hearts. Remember that you cannot cure a sick man by clothing him in a costly robe of silk and diamonds, and neither can you cure a sick, weary heart with all the wealth in the universe. But you will ask perhaps why has God given one kind of suffering to you, and another kind to another man ? If you wish to know this, then look up to heaven. Remember, your loving Father in heaven knows what is best for you. He will explain it all to you on the last day. And if you think you have to suffer more than others, then remember that suffering is a sign of God's love. "God loveth those whom He chastiseth. He chastiseth every child that He adopteth."; (Prov., iii., 12.) God is also now your friend and protector. Holy Scripture assures us that "God is the refuge of the Poor." (Ps. ix.; 10.) "The poor man cries to God," says the Holy Ghost, "and God hears and delivers him." (Ps. xxxiii., 7.) In this world, even your best friends grow tired, if you appeal to their charity too often; but God acts far otherwise. He never grows tired. He is never annoyed, no no matter how often you ask Him for help. His ear is ever open to your prayers. He is ever ready to assist you in your necessities. But you will say : "How can I consider God as my friend ? He has treated me rather like an enemy. I was once well off. I was happy. Now I am poor ; sometimes I scarcely know where to find bread for my poor hungry children." Ah ! why do you not understand the ways of God? Were you then richer than Job was ? Certainly not ; and yet God took away from him, all that he had. God took away his health, his property, his children. God afflicted him with a very powerful and loathsome disease. Job was thrown out of house and home ; he was cast upon a dunghill. His friends, the very wife of his bosom, turned against him, accused him unjustly, and loaded him with insult. Now why did God afflict Job in this manner? Precisely be cause God loved him. God wished to draw him more closely to himself and to make him perfect. Job knew this well, and, therefore, in the midst of his afflictions, he said: "If we have received good things from the hand of God, why not receive evil also." (Job, ii., 10.) "Even though the Lord should kill me, I will trust in him." (Job, xiii., 15.) "St. Lidwine, the daughter of very poor parents, was a great sufferer for many years. She was covered from head to foot, with most painful ulcers. In some of these ulcers, as many as two hundred little worms could be counted. Her flesh came off in pieces. She was lying, not on a soft bed, but on a rough board, and stretched out there for thirty eight years. She could move only her head and left arm. She suffered from, dropsy, acute head-ache, tooth-ache, and most violent fevers. For want of sufficient clothes, she was, in winter, quite benumbed with cold. Her tears froze on her cheeks. In the last year of her life she had to endure one of the most painful sufferings that can affect the human frame. It caused her such violent pains that she was forced to gnash her teeth, and often fainted away.
She slept no more than half an hour in the year. "Besides these sufferings she had to endure the ill treatment of wicked people. One day an infuriated woman entered the room of the saintly virgin, and began to abuse her in the most shameful manner. She heaped upon her the most disgraceful insults and reproaches. She spat in her face, and raised such a loud out-cry that the whole neighborhood was disturbed. Another time, four brutal soldiers entered the chamber of the afflicted maiden and began to speak to her in a most insulting manner. They struck her repeatedly with the most barbarous cruelty. "Now, in all her bodily sufferings, Lidwine was patient and resigned. In the midst of insults, she was like a tender lamb before a ravenous wolf, bearing with a calm countenance the insulting behavior of brutal men. Whence
did she derive this superhuman patience, calmness and resignation in all her sufferings and trials ? It was from the consideration that by patience she would atone for her sins, satisfy God's justice, and gain an everlasting crown in heaven. Indeed, by her heroic patience, she became one of the most extraordinary saints of the Church of God. " Lord!" she exclaimed, "it is most pleasing to me that thou dost not spare me, nor withhold thy hand in overwhelming me with suffering, for my greatest comfort is to know that thy will be done in me. "Our divine Savior says when you are invited to a feast take the lowest place, so that when the master of the house comes, he may say to thee : Friend, go up higher;" and you shall be honored in the eyes of all that are present. (Luke xiv., 10.) Here in this world, you have perhaps the lowest place. Be patient; do not murmur ; and when the Lord comes at the end of the world, he will say to you in presence of the whole universe: "Friend go up higher now, the first shall be the last; and the last shall be the first;" and you shall he glorified before the angels and saints of heaven. God assures us that he is himself the defender of the poor, and he threatens the oppressors of the poor with the severest chastisements.
"Do no violence to the poor" he says; "and do not oppress the needy, for the Lord will judge his cause and he will afflict those that afflict his soul." (Prov. xxii., 22.) "Our Lord Jesus Christ is also now more than ever your brother. Look at the life of our Lord. He is the king of heaven and earth, and yet he has become the poorest of the poor. He is born in a stable. Was there ever a poorer place to be born in ? He lived on earth as a poor carpenter s son. He had no home of his own, no place to rest his weary head. The birds of the air have their nests, he says even the foxes have their lairs, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. He suffered hunger and thirst. Sometimes he was even compelled to break off a few ears of wheat as he passed through the field in order to satisfy the cravings of hunger. Now that you are in want, do not lose confidence. Look up to Jesus, and say to him: "Jesus, remember that thou wert once as poor as I am now. Have pity on me then and help me. But if thou wishest me to follow thee yet longer on the road of poverty and suffering, then give me grace to do so cheerfully!" It is also now that you are of the number of those to whom the Gospel is preached, that is, to the poor. Our dear Saviour himself assures us of this : "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore he hath anointed me, to preach the Gospel to the poor. (Luke, iv., 18.) And it is to the poor that he still preaches, through the ministry of his holy Church. It is precisely the poor that crowd our churches, and listen eagerly to the words of God. It is especially the poor that crowd the churches during Holy Mass. It is the poor that are found praying in the church, during the long day, and in the silence of the night. It is they, who come to adore our blessed Lord in the Sacrament of his love. It is they who visit him in his little crib at Christmas ; and who weep with compassion when they hear the recital of his sufferings. It is especially the poor who press forward to the altar, hungering for the bread of life. It is they who are so proud to take part in a holy procession, whether in the church or in the street. Yes, the Catholic Church is proud of the poor ; and as our Lord Jesus Christ himself declared, "the poor are always with her." The holy martyr St. Lawrence was commanded by the tyrant to show him the treasures of the church. St. Lawrence obeyed. He led the tyrant to the church, and pointing to a large crowd of poor persons who were waiting for alms, he said : "See, here are the treasures of the Catholic Church. Yes, the poor are a mark of the true Church of Christ. When our blessed Saviour went back to heaven, he left the poor to take his place here on earth. He says to every one of us : Whatever you do to one of these poor persons, you do it to me." As you are now poor and desolate, God will also be your sure rewarder. He makes more account of the little alms of the poor than he does of the grand contributions of the rich. One day, Our Blessed Lord saw a poor widow putting a few pence into the treasury of the temple. He saw also the rich Pharisees offering their gifts. Now what did Jesus Christ say of this poor woman? Listen to his consoling words: "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. (Mark, xii., 43.)
O, what a consolation for the poor ! That poor widow went away, little thinking who was watching her. Her's was indeed a poor offering, a mere trifle; but it was the best she had, and she gave it with a cheerful heart. 0, how great is her reward ! Wherever the Gospel is preached through out the wide world, her praise is uttered; and her praise shall resound throughout all eternity in heaven. O, what a consoling example is this for you ! You give small sum in alms, or for some other charitable object or you make a little sacrifice, some act of kindness to your neighbor. Men do not esteem that deed of charity. Perhaps the very one to whom you have done that favor, does not notice it, or soon forgets it; but God sees that good deed, he sees the good will with which you give that alms, and he remembers it : it is written down in the book of life. He shall proclaim it before the whole world on the last day, and he shall reward you for it through out a long, endless eternity. "Amen, I declare to you" he says, that even a cup of cold water given in my name shall have its reward. And then the prayers of the poor ! how powerful are they ! how pleasing to God! The prayers of the poor pierce the clouds; they ascend like a mighty voice to the ear of God, and they do not depart until they are heard. Blessed is he for whom the poor are continually praying ; he is almost certain of his salvation.
"Now that you are poor and desolate, the gates of heaven are open to you. "Blessed are the poor, says Jesus Christ, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And the Apostle St. James says : "Hath not God chosen the poor to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. (James, ii., 5.) Yes, if you are poor and resigned to the will of God, you can say in truth with Tobias of old: "Fear not, my children ; you lead indeed a life of poverty, but you shall have an abundance of good things, if you fear God, avoid sin and do good. The state of poverty frees you from many temptations, and makes it easy for you to gain heaven. Bear, then, courageously all your privations. When the hour of hardship comes, when you are tempted to murmur against God, when you are tempted to despair, then remember the consoling words of our Lord : "Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven." You are now in want. Remember that a throne awaits you in heaven. You live in a poor miserable hut! Remember that there are many mansions in the home of your heavenly Father, and one of these mansions is prepared for you. Poverty compels you to live in an unhealthy neighborhood, cruel death has snatched away several beloved members of your family. Even the worse has come; your heart has been crushed within you at seeing a dear father and mother, darling brothers and sisters, and children carried out in their coffin, one by one ; you are alone and desolate in this wide world. Ah, look up ; raise your eyes to heaven! See they are standing at the gates of heaven to meet you with out-stretched arms : father, mother, brother, sister, and the sweet little babies whose death rent your heart in twain. See they are all smiling upon you, they are waiting to welcome you home to heaven. Your heart is heavy and sorrow-stricken here below ; remember, in heaven you shall enter into eternal, unbounded joy. There shall be no weeping, or sighing, or sorrow any more, for God shall wipe away every tear and heal every broken heart. Gaunt hunger sits every day at your poor table ? O, have courage ! In heaven you shall sit at the eternal banquet of the Saints. You are poorly clothed ; your tattered garments call forth the heartless sneer of some unfeeling neighbor? Do not be discouraged ; in heaven you shall be crowned with a kingly diadem ; you shall be clothed with the costly robes which the angels and saints of heaven wear. Your friends have deserted you; you are a poor, homeless exile upon the face of the earth ; see, God is your friend ; a true and ever faithful friend, and a home of never-ending happiness awaits you in heaven. Here your hands have grown rough from hard labor; your whole body has been worn out by sickness and suffering! Ah! have courage! in heaven your body shall shine brighter and more glorious than the noon-day sun. Here you are ignorant and suffer much on account of it; but have patience ; in heaven you shall know every thing, you shall be filled with heavenly wisdom ; you shall behold the Eternal God face to face, and in Him you shall see all things. In all your joys or sorrows then turn your eyes constantly towards your true home; look up to heaven, to the mansion of your Father, the palace of His glory, the temple of His holiness, and
the throne of His grandeur and magnificence, the land of the living, the centre of your rest, the term of your movements, the end of your miseries, the place of the nuptials of the Lamb, the feast of God and His holy angels. O holy Sion, where all remains and nothing passes away: where all is found, and nothing is wanting; where all is sweet, and nothing bitter where all is calm, and nothing is agitated ! happy land whose roses are without thorns ; where peace reigns without combats and where health is found without sickness, and life without death ! O holy Thabor ! palace of the living God ! O heavenly Jerusalem, where the poor sing eternally the beautiful canticles of Sion ! "It is thus the good priest spoke to me, said the pious woman I have felt happy ever since. May his words also strengthen and comfort you in all your trials.
To be continued . . . . . . . . .
2. To instruct the ignorant.
No doubt, there are many poor creatures around you, who labor and suffer and weep, and, in their blindness and despair, curse the loving God who created them; blaspheme the God who died for them; and hate the holy Church which he established in order to save them. And among these restless, wandering souls, you often find noble, generous hearts. Many are wavering between good and evil, many of them struggle, at least at times, against their passions. They are groping about in the dark. A kind word, a friendly advice, might save them. Many of them are like the poor paralytic at the pool of Bethsaida. They are so near the source of life, they long to reach it but they find no one to take them by the hand and lead them thither. And one soul brought thus to God will be the means of leading others to God, and so the good will go on till the day of judgment.
Kevelin Digby, author of the "Ages of Faith," who did so much to awaken what was afterwards called the "Oxford Movement," was led to the Catholic faith by means of the barber who used to shave him when he was a member of the University. The barber began to instruct him, in the broken conversations occurring from day to day. Then he lent Mr. Digby books, and the barber thus became the teacher of the University man. Ah! rest assured that every one, no matter in what state of life he is placed, will find opportunities to instruct the ignorant if he is zealous enough to perform this spiritual work of mercy.
A child passes you on the road. Why pass it by as coldly as if you did not see it ? Salute the child kindly ; speak to it. Ask, for instance, if it goes to school and where ; if it can read, can pray ; who is "Our Father" in heaven? You can thus give the child a short instruction ! You cast the seeds of eternal life into its heart seeds that will one day ripen with God s grace and bear fruit a hundred-fold. And even should the seed choke and wither in the child s heart, your eternal reward in heaven will not be lost. Your guardian angel has written down the good deed. If even a cup of cold water given in our Lord"s name shall be rewarded, how much more an act of charity done to the soul.A neighbor's child comes to your house perhaps to play with your children. Of course, should the child teach your little ones bad words or anything that is wrong, you must send it away or correct it. But if the child is well disposed, treat it kindly ; you have a good opportunity to do an act of charity to that child's soul. Do not imagine that the child comes there merely by accident. It is its angel that sends it, that you may instruct it, that you may teach it how to reach its heavenly home. Show the little one some pious pictures. Tell it something about our Saviour, about the Blessed Virgin, about the angels. Teach it how God sees it every moment, in the darkest night as well as in broad daylight.
You are living with a Protestant family. You edify them by your conduct. They are in doubt about their religion, or ridicule yours on certain occasions. Profit by these occasions, and tell them the most important truths of our religion. Be not afraid to do so. Our Lord makes use of you to convert that family if they are sincere before God.
Not long ago a poor but worthy Irishman came to the door of a respectable Protestant family, and asked for any employment that would secure his daily bread. He was engaged for some service on the farm, and gave satisfaction. But being a Catholic he was held in contempt in that part of this country. As he seemed utterly devoid of even the first elements of education, it was thought that an attack upon his religion would not only result in amusement from his ridiculous answers, but in an easy triumph over his evident ignorance. He was accordingly questioned and bantered on the "objectionable" points of his creed by the most intelligent member of the house hold. But the good man, though ignorant of most other things, had been thoroughly instructed in his catechism ; and this alone would have made him more than a match for a score of divines from Princeton or Geneva. His answers were so calm, so clear and correct, so logical, and, finally, so impressive, that the tables were soon turned and the laugh, or the defeat rather, proved to be on the wrong side. The questioner was not only vanquished but dismayed and terrified into the conviction that answers so simple, yet so cogent and logical must rest on some basis of truth. This brought about a serious examination of Catholic doctrine, and the examination was followed by submission to the Church. This conversion happily led to that of the whole family and of many others. These facts are well known throughout the county and State where they happened. (American Cath. Quart. Review, October, 1879, p. 723.)
3. To counsel the doubtful.
It often happens that a person is doubting as to whether a thing is lawful or not, whether this or that action is forbidden or allowed. On both sides he sees plausible reasons, which make an impression ; but amongst these reasons there is none that draws down the weight, none that is sufficient to ground a determination. Thus, wavering between these different and opposite reasons, he remains undetermined and dares not make a decision for fear of being deceived and of falling into sin. Now that person is not allowed to act with such a doubtful conscience. He must seek for light and instruction, if he can.
An heir, for example, has entered upon an estate which was formerly unjustly acquired by his ancestors ; but, at the time he accepted it, he had no knowledge, no doubt concerning its unjust acquisition. Afterwards he discovers a flaw in his title, and for good reasons begins to doubt as to whether he lawfully possesses the property.
There is another. He doubts as to the state of life to which God calls him. There is a Protestant ; for good reasons he has doubts as to the possibility of being saved in the Protestant religion. Now to counsel aright such persons, is to perform a spiritual work of mercy. For want of knowledge, or discretion, or some other reason, it may not be in your power to perform this kind of work of mercy. But you know, perhaps, a learned and charitable man who is competent to ad vise properly the doubtful. Now by referring to such a man, a person who has doubts of conscience, you share in the spiritual work of mercy the good advice which is given.
To be continued . . . . . . . . . . .
WE SAY a great deal nowadays, and very rightly, too, about the Apostleship of the Press, but what of the Apostleship of Speech? For the Press, mighty and far-reaching as it is, has, we all know, its own peculiar limitations, and needs a complement. Many of us can not write, many lack the time or inclination, and even when it is duly sent forth, the printed page is never quite sure of its audience. This man will not read except for amusement, the other distrusts whatever savors of the supernatural, a third is steeled beforehand against anything which hints of Catholicity, or the Church.
But the kindly, spontaneous speech of man to man is easy and common to us all. It murmurs everywhere, on the car, on the street, in offices and homes, kindling its own interest, winning attention, appealing to every one, in spite of his prejudices and his inclinations. It opens an easy way for that genial interchange of personal opinion, of question and answer, of objection and reply, which clears and recommends, as nothing else can, one's true beliefs, and principles and points of view.
Of course, no one nowadays would praise mere controversy or polemics. Heaven forbid! That odious and ugly wrangling over sacred truths, which only adds stubbornness to each man's conviction, is happily out of mode. But we are in danger of going to the other extreme and following the indifferentism of the age so far that we carefully avoid every mention of sacred things. This cruel kindness and complaisance we are guilty of sometimes even to our dearest and nearest friends. Cruel one must call it, because we are keeping from them, by our silence, the very truths and principles which we hold as our dearest and most precious possession in this world. If a readiness to share one's money and influence and opportunities is looked for between friends, how much more should there be a frank and willing communication of those eternal truths which enrich and ennoble a man's immortal soul. Yet, if we treated one another in matters of dollars and cents as we do in issues of the soul's salvation, some of us would have few friends left in the world.
Once, in the murmur and clatter of a crowded street-car, an angry voice rose over the hum of city noises : "You knew the firm was going under," it shouted in ungovernable fury, "and let me go ahead with the deal." A moment's pause followed, in which one might imagine a murmured reply. "You knew I was in for losing, and you were on the right side, and you didn't say a word I" cried the voice again. "You curl That may be your idea of friendship, but it isn't mine; don't talk to me again!" The angry man was right. That was no true friend who let him stake his money on a rotten venture and never said a word. Heaven grant that our own friends may not have cause to hurl a like reproach at us on the Judgment Day!
I remember still the regretful pathos with which a dear old gentleman, who in the thoughtlessness of youth had entered into associations which kept him from his religious duties, told me of the strange silence which every one kept toward him on that one subject of which he had most need to hear. "There was So-and-so," said he, "a good Catholic, and a firm friend of mine, but he never said the word. And there was Father N ; many a time I laughed and chatted with him, but he never said the word. And there's X, and Y, and Z Ah I" the old man would finish, "and now that I'm back in the Church of God, it seems to me I've lost the most of my life I" All for want of the word!
No man of us all can plead a lack of such occasions. Many a Catholic, nowadays, is almost solitary in a circle of unbelieving associates. Is silence friendly then. The man who drops into a seat beside you and wishes you a cheery good-morning, may be as starved and stinted of all knowledge of things divine as a tribesman of the Moros. More than possibly, as things stand now in the United States, he has never said a childish prayer by his mother's knee ; never learned to reverence the Sacred Name; never heard, at home or at school, the saving truths of Christ; never once been brought face to face with the stupendous truths that there is an Infinite God, and that man has an immortal soul! It is not malice with him, this denseness to sacred truth: it is ignorance, it is preoccupation.
This is a distracted age; we live fast, we notice only what is thrust upon us. All that he has heard of God's Holy Name may have been (dreadful thought) when it was used in blasphemy, or as the nice ornament of some well-turned phrase; or at the best, as a vague symbol of nature or human-kind, lacking personality and dim of definition.
Ask the missionary, or him who has care of the instruction of converts, whether this picture be too darkly drawn. Religion to this man may be only the queer fancy some men have to while away a Sunday morning. That God is a person, even as himself; that the soul has ages of endless life before it; that the world is only a trying-out place for the brightest or darkest hereafter; that there is a hell, the blaze of the anger of God, and a Heaven, the smile of His tenderness; that every man and woman is sacred, is of God's own kindred; that what seems blind chance is only a bit, ill-seen, of the vast schemes of Infinite Prevision—what does he know, what has he ever dreamed of all these things? But you are his friend. He will listen to you, if you are ready for a kindly explanation. He is interested, after all, in most things human, in your affairs particularly. What a revelation to his ignorance, and what a stimulus from his dangerous preoccupation with merely earthly and temporal things, if you were sometimes to take occasion from current themes to explain those lovely and satisfying doctrines of the Church, which please and thrill by their beauty and saneness even where faith does not enter in and beget acceptance of their truth! If it were golf you were interested in, or stocks, or futures, or horses, or a new brand of goods, or a coming marriage, it would go hard, but he would have to listen all the way downtown, and that right cheerfully. Well, try him sometimes, with kindly tact, and opportunely, on some Catholic theme. I say opportunely, but fit occasions are legion nowadays. With almost every question of the clay there is bound up some point of Catholic principle or belief. The labor questions of the times call up, with their multifarious perplexities, those sanest showings- forth of the mind of Christendom, the masterly Encyclicals of Leo XIII. In this connection one will naturally think of the vast influence for good of the Papacy on the world; of the true nature of that spiritual leadership, by which Christ made Peter and his successors not sinless indeed but infallible, when they teach us in His name. Thence opens wide the whole question of the Apostolic Succession, then one may speak of the Roman Curia, and all the admirable government of the Church, so much misrepresented because so little understood. One may fall to explaining, also, the history of the Papacy; why, for instance, some great ecclesiastics may have been great rascals, without their unprincipled lives reflecting either on the doctrine or discipline of the eternal Church.
Or it may be that the sad state of unhappy France comes up for discussion, and one is naturally moved to explain the true relation of the Church and State; or the reasons and policy of the Church's prohibition of Secret Societies—not always for what they are, but sometimes also for what they may come to be; or the Parochial School question, and why the Church so stoutly demands Catholic teaching for Catholic children.
Again, the questions which turn upon Marriage and Divorce are forever bobbing up in our speech nowadays. The uncompromising stand of the Church on such matters, her watchful guarding of the sanctity of marriage, and her reasons for it, how natural to dwell on these I Or Socialism—how many topics does it not suggest? The reason for the necessary and unrelenting hostility of the Church, which stands for piety and justice, against a creed which in the concrete is both irreligious and unjust; and so on, to subjects without number. "But how in the name of goodness," I seem to hear some one cry out sadly, "is one to be ready to give good explanations on such subjects as these?"A proper question, and one which calls for a whole treatise by itself. But one can condense after the manner of the testy gentleman who cried out in answer to a similar inquiry: "God bless you, sir! Why not go and read?'
Naturally, to be a proper Catholic, one must glance now and then over Catholic papers and have some acquaintance with Catholic magazines and books. But "why not," to be sure? If the followers of Christian Science and its airy inconsistencies can toil to be letter-perfect in "Mother Eddy's" clueless mystifications, so as to have at least a quotation ready for ever need; and if the Spencerian agnostic can bear to trace out his leader's maunderings to the dusty end, surely we Catholics can all endure to become prompt and ready with the warm and human, yet Divine and Heavenly, truths and principles of Christ.
Wrong-headed folk, with flimsy theories, have often a dreadful gift of voluble exposition, which puts us children of the light to shame. In season and out of season they din away at their pet theory, until by mere repetition they wear it a place in men's thoughts, or even a standing in their esteem. We must not imitate their fanatical excesses —indeed there is little danger as things go with us now; but the temper of the times is such that even the truth can not dispense with some of this emphasis of repetition and ready reply. The age is crowded with clamoring teachers; if even truth is silent it will be unregarded as well. On the other hand, by kindly explanation, timely comment and friendly expostulation and reply, one's beliefs and views are sure to gain a hearing, and a hearing is all that Catholic Truth need ask.
In fine, look on this picture, and on this. Our friend Dick has a fearfully keen nose for controversy. His type, I own, is somewhat rare in these days. Give him but a little opening and he will argue away for hours, with the slightest encouragement, nay, in spite of the most evident distaste and disgust on the part of his unwilling victim. Dick means well, to be sure (his selfishness is half unconscious) ; he knows a great deal, his speech is fluent and sincere ; he only lacks the heavenly gift of tact and opportuneness, but lacking this, his acrid fluency has made many a helpless fellow sore on religion and savage against pious talk for all after days.
Tom, on the other hand, and his name is many, runs quite to the other extreme. He is the discreetest fellow in the world, and sheers off from questions of belief and principles like a timid hare at the hunter's halloo! He seldom breathes a word that can benefit any one, his talk is all remote from religious issues, and most of his friends scarcely know whether he is a Catholic or a fellow of Huxley, or of the German visionaries. He breaks a commandment. His light never shines at all!
Harry, on the other hand—God bless him I —holds the difficult mean. When he speaks of religious matters he does it in as easy, interested a way as when he talks politics or business. His mind runs naturally on the theme, and his interest carries you with him. He knows and he thinks on what he knows, and remembers it readily and in opportune connections. There is neither false shame nor harsh self-assertiveness in his tone. You see earnest-faced men listening to his quiet explanations with a sort of steady wonder; and when he pauses you notice that they sink back and murmur: "By Jove! that sounds sensible. I never could understand just what you Catholics thought on that point before." Ah, if there were only more Harrys now amongst us!
Source: "Your Neighbor and You" by Father Garesche, Imprimatur 1918
AT THE lake of the Two Mountains in Canada there stands a Trappist monastery. It is built in the solemn company of the hills, and the patient monks have made a wild valley blossom with their toil. All day long one may see them, passing to and fro in silent industry, tilling the fields,
watching the kine, working in their great dairy, and all with never a word to beguile the long and weary hours.
It seems a hard life, indeed, this of the Trappists of Oka. They rise at two in the morning, and spend a long time before the dawn kneeling at their uncomfortable stalls, chanting holy psalmody, or bending in silent prayer. Then, when the morning comes, after Mass and Office are over, they go into the fields or the barns to take up their monotonous round of toil.
Some of them follow the herds to pasture, some break the stony ground, some go to the great dairies, some bestir themselves to sweep the long corridors of the monastery, but all in silence and prayer. In silence they take their frugal meal, late in the day; in silence they file into the chapel again to end their day as they began, in chanting the holy Office. So at the hour of eight they go to rest, after what would seem to most men an intolerable round of prayer and work and prayer.
What keeps them steadfast in their austere vocation? What thought do you suppose cheers and carries them on through all the slow and toilsome hours? You may easily guess whence some of their steadiness and courage comes, if you will read the motto that is written large over their "Order of the Day" which hangs beside the door. It is a brief and pithy saying, simple
and stern as their own lives. In their French language it reads, ''Bientot l' Eternite'-- "A Little While and it will be Eternity!" A little while! That is the secret of their cheerfulness, their calm, their steadfast perseverance. They are saying, each one in his heart: "It will be only a little while. A little while and the weary days will all be over; a little while and the tired limbs will be at rest. Soon the longest task will be accomplished, the weariest labor ended. Soon, very soon, it will be eternity."
No wonder that they labor well, these monks of Oka. No wonder. that they love their bare cells, their empty corridors, their long night-watches and their days of heat and toil. They are thinking hour after hour: "A little while and it will be eternity." The brightness of eternal splendor falls from afar upon their faces. Their souls are filled with the calm and sweetness of the great joys to come.
Would not any one rejoice, in whatever toilsome or dreary hour, if he realized and knew that in a little while he would be plunged into unending and unfathomable joy and peace? Can any cloud make them gloomy, when the calm, white glory of Heaven bursts through its shadow, shining so very near'? A moment—a few brief days—some fleeting years, and it will all be over; the stiffening toil, the wearing penance, the tears of contrition, and the weariness of hope deferred. In a little while it will be eternity.
The body of this death will fall from their yearning spirit. The dull heaviness of life, its cares and fears, will be changed as in a twinkling into the lightness and springing joy of life eternal. The face of God, kind, merciful and loving, will shine out from the shadows. They will see Him face to face and know Him even as they are known. And these joys, this peace, this glory, all the brightness and delight will know no ending. As long as God is God, as truth is truth, as love is love, so long shall their joys go on unceasing, for it will be eternity.
This is, then, a full and pithy saying, is it not, which some wise hand has written by the doorway of the house of Oka? And we, too, have much to learn from the inspiring legend. Is it not as true for us as it is for them"? "A little while and it will be eternity." The dawn of that everlasting day is not very far beyond any man's horizon. It lies but just before the portals of our life. A little while, for us all, and it will be eternity! Say so to your weary soul, when it begins to flag and falter on the narrow path of well doing, when you are disposed to grow tired
of trying to be good and charitable and pure and faithful to your neighbor and your God, when you are sorely tempted, as all of us are at times, to turn from the narrow path on to the broad and easy highway of the world.
A little while, O my soul, and it will be eternity. The world will fade away, your flesh and its weariness will fall from you forever. Do not weary, nor fret, nor turn like a coward from the struggle. Bear up; fight on; be of good heart; it is not for long. What a motive, what an encouragement to do more and more for God! A little while! The time is short, the work momentous, the days are fleeting, the hour of a man's death is always near. A little while, and in that little while we must gather whatever store of merit, grace, or glory is to be ours for all the ages of the life to come. We must live forever on the heavenly gold which we may only gather now. After that little while, the fountains of merit and glory are sealed up forever. An act of love, of mercy, of purity, of alms-giving, of penance—one Mass well heard, one fervent Holy Communion, may lift us now to an unspeakably higher glory for all the ages. But the time is short, the days hasten, the hours steal away and do not return forever. A little while and lo, it is eternity.
See, too, how this very saying is a sovereign answer for all the snares and allurements of the world, the devil and the flesh. Their wares grow dim as dross under the sunlight of that same keen thought: "Soon it will be eternity." When the cunning tempter whispers of goods and fame and pleasures and the world's delights, say to him scornfully: "Away, fallen spirit, get thee away I A little while and it will be eternity I I can spare no time to spend in perishable delights. The day grows on apace. The brief hours fade away before me. The night cometh in which no man can work. What profit to pluck the fleeting pleasure that withers and is gone, to gain a little brief applause, to gather money, to set my heart on houses or lands, or cattle, or silks, or stones, when all these things serve for such a few and passing years. My heart is set upon eternity!"
And even more, much more, when evil desires—of forbidden pleasure or wicked gain, or sinful idleness, or unkind malice, or revengeful spite—come to plague us and lead us into evil, then these words should be like salt to our lips and like wine to our hearts. "Not so! I will not do this evil deed—a little while and it will be eternity!" How vain, how senseless and foolish a thing, to dare the anger of God and to wound His love, when, as it were, tomorrow it will be eternity! Who would smear his soul with sin when he remembers that he is on the threshold of God's judgment room? Who would drink and be drunk with crime and luxury, upon the very brink of the world to come? Who would barter his soul for a trifle of sinful gain, or a mess of poisonous delight, when the boundless riches of Heaven and the pure ecstasies of God wait so very near before him'? For in such a little while it will be eternity!
Source: "Your Neighbor and You" by Father Garesche, Imprimatur 1918
With the beautiful holyday of Christmas not that far off I've been doing some thinking. This is one thing I've been mulling over in this head of mine. The Catholic church teaches us that it is a sin to tell a lie.
In the Baltimore Catechism (Imprimatur 1891) I find:
379 Q. What are we commanded by the eighth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the eighth Commandment to speak the truth in all things, and to be careful of the honor and reputation of every one.
380 Q. What is forbidden by the eighth Commandment?
A. The eighth Commandment forbids all rash judgments, backbiting, slanders, and lies.
Christmas is Jesus' birthday, a very special holyday. A day that the whole world anxiously awaited for 4000 years. All that sweet little Infant asks of us is our love in return for all that He has done for us. Please keep Christ in Christmas!
Santa (Satan) Claus verses Jesus Christ
Jesus is the reason for the Season
Keep Jesus Christ in Christmas
Have you seen this article on Santa Claus?
The letters of S-a-n-t-a spell S-a-t-a-n when arranged correctly. Satan's Cause (better known as Santa Claus) is one of the best tools of SATAN to destroy the true meaning of Christmas.
Remember that the real symbols of Christmas are the Star, the Stable and the Crib not Santa and his reindeer! How sad that far more people "decorate" with PAGAN symbols than with the CHRISTIAN Nativity Scene with Jesus, Mary, Saint Joseph, the Shepherds and Wise Men!
Santa has replaced the great St. Nicholas. Santa has, as well, usurped the place of the Christ Child and transformed the meaning of Christmas. Gift giving and holiday cheer is now referred to as "happy holidays" or "xmas", whereas Christmas means Christ's Mass, the coming of Christ. It is also disturbing that Santa has been given attributes of the One True God.
1. God is Eternal. Santa appears as an old man; he has always been, and will always be. He seems Eternal. Vs. Jesus IS eternal.
2. God is Omniscient (all-knowing). Santa, it is said "sees you when you're sleeping, knows when you're awake... he knows if you've been bad or good."
3. God is the Remunerator (Just Rewarder). Santa is said to give his gifts according to whether you are good or bad. Christ says, " I am He that searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Apoc. 2, 23) and "Behold I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his works." (Apoc. 22, 12)
4. God is Omnipresent (present everywhere, at all times). Santa can be in one billion homes in 24 hours; that is 11,057 per second, virtually omnipresent. Jesus said "For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18; 20)
5. God is Omnipotent (all-powerful). Santa is said to be powerful enough to carry presents for all the children of the world: that's Omnipotence. Jesus is Omnipotent. "And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying; All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28; 18)
6. Christ, in His Resurrection: Santa is said to come though the doors are locked. After Our Lord's resurrection, He passed through shut doors with His glorified body. "Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you...
7. Christ in His Ascension: Santa goes into the air and gives gifts. Jesus ascends on high and gives gifts, especially the gift of eternal life. "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ. Wherefore He saith: Ascending on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." (Eph. 4)
8. Christ will come again: Advent (the four weeks before Dec. 25) is the time to prepare for Christ's three-fold coming: commemoration of His Coming as Babe at Christmas; His coming by grace into our hearts; His coming as Judge at the end of time. Indeed, it is not Santa who is coming to town soon; IT IS CHRIST! "Surely I come quickly." (Apoc. 22)
Note: Scripture even mentions a city in the north, and that Christ will appear clothed in red, with white hair. "With the joy of the whole earth is Mount Sion founded, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." Psalm 47;3. "He was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood: and His name is called the Word of God." (Apoc. 9, 13) "His hairs were white as wool, and as white as snow." (Apoc. 1, 4)
The truth is that it is OUTRIGHT LYING to promote the Satanic belief in Santa Claus! Most adults in the world LIE to their children and grandchildren, and those children in turn LIE to their children and grandchildren when they grow older - as everyone promotes the Satan inspired theory of Santa Claus and his reindeer! Why continue repeating the BIG LIE over and over until nearly everyone sometime during their lifetime believed in the lies concerning Santa Claus, etc. Even most people who say they are Christians are promoting this work of the Devil! They say they believe in God and Sacred Scripture as teaching the TRUTH! But do they actually believe the eternal Truth? Listen to what the Eternal Truth has to say about their habitual lying concerning Santa Claus.
“Lie not one to another.” CoI. 3, 9.
“You are of your father the devil; and the desires of your father you will do. He stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speakest a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.” John 8, 44.
“Wherefore, putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” Ep. 4, 25.
“All liars shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Apoc. 21,8.
“You shall not lie, neither shall any man deceive his neighbor.” Lev. 19,11.
Why do people send out Christmas Cards when the pictures and words and contents of the card have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? Why do people continue to decorate for Christmas without using anything to remind one of the Nativity of Jesus Christ? If you drove around the towns and cities on Christmas Eve (at least in the USA) you will probably find less than 5 percent of the homes and stores with a Nativity Scene! Yet people want us to believe we live in a Christian Nation! A Christian Nation indeed!!! The majority of even the "Christians" are promoting the deceptive LIES of Satan.
Remember that the Christmas Season has to do with the CHILD Jesus and not the KID Jesus. It is very common today that parents speak of their children as kids. Do they think about what they are doing? They are again promoting another deceptive trap of the devil.
The offspring of humans are children, whereas the offspring of goats are kids. Now what is one of the main symbols of the Freemasons if not the goat whose offspring is the kid? Is it not a principle goal of the Freemasons to destroy that which pertains to Jesus Christ and Christianity? When Catholics have their children Baptized, they become a child of God! But the next thing you hear is the fact that they fell into the trap of the Freemasons and call the child of God a Freemasonic goat offspring!
Instead of Merry Christmas to celebrate and commemorate Mary's joys with the Christ CHILD, it is now Happy Holidays to celebrate Satan's day with the KIDS under the guise of Santa Claus.
May God have mercy on us and on the whole world!
12. Which are the spiritual works of mercy ?
1. To convert the sinner;
2. to instruct the ignorant ;
3. to counsel the doubtful ;
4. to comfort the sorrowful ;
5. to bear wrongs patiently ;
6. to forgive injuries ;
7. to pray for the living and the dead.
1. To convert the sinner.
It is an article of our holy faith that the Son of God descended from heaven, became man, and died on the infamous gibbet of the cross, for no other purpose than to save mankind from perpetual destruction. His whole life was devoted to this end. For this purpose alone he established his Church on earth. Every Christian, therefore, ought to be inflamed with zeal for the salvation of souls.
Now, what is the meaning of zeal for the salvation of souls? It is a desire to see God truly loved, and honored, and served by all men. Those who are inflamed with this beautiful fire endeavor to communicate it to the whole world. If they perceive that God is offended, they weep and lament: they feel interiorly devoured and consumed by the fervor of their zeal. "Who should be looked upon as a man consumed with the zeal for the house of God ?" asked St. Augustine. "He who ardently desires to prevent offences against God, and endeavors to induce those who have sinned to weep, and weeps and groans himself when he sees God dishonored." With such a zeal the saints of the Old Law were inflamed. "I found my heart and my bones," says Jeremiah (Xx., 9, 10.),
"secretly inflamed as with a fire that even devoured me ; and I fainted away, not being able to resist it; because I heard the blasphemies of many people." "I was in flamed with zeal for the God of armies," says Elias, "because the children of Israel have broken their covenant." (III. Kings xix., 10.) "A fainting has taken hold of me," says the Royal Prophet, "because sinners have forsaken thy law and my zeal hath made me pine away, because my enemies forgot thy commandments."(Psalm cxviii., 53.) These holy men were thus afflicted at the sight of the license with which the wicked violated the law of God. The sorrow of their minds passed into the humors of their body, and even into their very blood, as it were. "I beheld the wicked," says David "I pined away ; because they kept not thy commandments." (Ps. cxviii.158.) "Mine eyes became fountains of water; because they observed not thy law." (Ibid., 136.) It was the violence of his zeal that made David melt into tears when he beheld the infinite majesty of God offended. This zeal made St. Paul write to the Romans : "I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great sadness and continual sorrow in my heart ; for I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh." (Rom. ix., 1-3.)
How much have the saints not done for the salvation of their neighbors ? Let us hear what the great Apostle of the Gentiles says of his own labors, troubles and sufferings for the salvation of men. In his epistles to the Corinthians he writes as follows : "Even unto this hourwe both hunger and thirst; and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode ; and we labor with our own hands ; we are reviled and we bless; we are persecuted and we suffer it; we are blasphemed and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the off scouring of all even until now." (I. Cor. iv., 11, 13.)
"Our flesh had no rest, but we suffered all tribulation : combats without, fears within." (II. Cor. vii, 5.) "In many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once I was stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck ; a night and a day was I in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labor and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (II. Cor. xi. 23-27.)
Were a St. Francis Xavier to appear among us he could tell us how, for the sake of the barbarians, he climbed mountains and exposed himself to innumerable dangers to find those wretched beings in the caverns, where they dwelt like wild beasts, and lead them to God.
A St. Francis de Sales could tell us how, in order to convert the heretics of the province of Chablais, he risked his life by crossing a river every day for a year, on his hands and knees, upon a frozen beam, that he might preach the truth to those stubborn men.
A St. Fidelis could tell us how, in order to bring back the heretics of a certain place, he risked his life by going to preach to them. But here one may say : "I am not a priest, and, therefore, I cannot preach to sinners and convert them." To convert sinners, it is not necessary that you should be a priest. Your neighbor, for instance, has given up the practice of his religion for many years. He is sick and expected to die soon. Cannot you pay him a visit, speak kindly to him, and induce him to send for the priest and be reconciled to God? His salvation may depend on your visit, on a few kind words of exhortation and encouragement.
A certain Catholic once went to see a dying sinner. The unhappy man had led a long life of sin, and was now obstinate. He did not wish to hear of God or the priest. The good, zealous Catholic tried every means tears promises, threats, prayers, but all in vain. The dying wretch was hardened. At last the zealous Catholic fell on his knees and begged God to give him this soul, and offered, for his sake, to endure any pain that he would inflict on him. An interior voice then said to him : "Your request shall be granted, but only on condition that you are willing to fall back into your former illness." He had formerly been subject to violent fits of colic. The good Catholic offered himself generously. He then once more spoke to the dying man, and found him quite changed in the very best dispositions. He made his confession with every sign of true sorrow, and offered uphis life in atonement of his sins. He received all the sacraments, and died in the arms of his true Catholic friend. The prayers of the good Catholic were heard ; but no sooner had he returned home than he was seized with the most violent pains, which continued to increase until at last he died, the victim of his Christian zeal for the salvation of a soul.
To relieve the wants of the body is undoubtedly an act of great charity ; but to heal the wounds of the soul is an act of far greater charity. Now it is by admonition and counsel that we contribute towards the healing of the spiritual wounds of our neighbor. It is even a formal precept of the Gospel to do what is in our power to heal the wounds of our neighbor's soul, that is, to admonish him when he is in mortal sin or in danger of falling into it. "If thy brother transgress in thy presence," says our Lord, "reprimand and correct him." (Matt, xviii., 15.)
If you neglect to correct the sinner, says St. Agustine, you become thereby worse than himself. So all who have christian charity, whether superiors or inferiors, are bound to admonish and correct those who follow evil ways, if they have sufficient influence and authority over them, and have good reason to hope that the correction will be useful. Should the first admonition be fruitless, we are bound to repeat it several times, when we have good reason to hope that it will finally prove useful.
We are obliged to perform this act of charity :
1. when the sin of our neighbor is certain, but not when it is doubtful;
2. when there is no other person capable of giving the admonition, and when it is not expected that any one else will give it;
3. when there is no reason for a prudent fear that, by correcting our neighbor, we shall suffer a grievous loss or inconvenience. For, if we have a good reason to fear that the correction will be attended with a considerable loss or inconvenience to ourselves, we are excused from the obligation of making it, because it is only an act of charity which is not obligatory under those circumstances. Parents, however, are obliged to correct their children, even when the correction is attended with great inconvenience.Has an inferior a right to correct his superior. Every act extends to all that is within the sphere of its power, as the sight, for instance, embraces all that is visible.
Now as charity comprises all men without exception, it orders us to exercise fraternal correction without distinction of persons. The inferior, therefore, has a right to correct his superior when he sees him in fault or in error. But this must be done in a mild, prudent, respectful manner, for those who are above us in age or authority, merit respect and veneration. " An ancient man rebuke
not, but entreat him as a father." (1 Tim. v., 1.)
Has one, who himself is in fault or sin, a right to correct another ? To exercise this right, no more than the use of reason is needed. Now, sin does not destroy the natural gift of man. But he who attempts to direct others in the path of virtue and justice, must, first of all, begin to correct himself, otherwise he cannot be supposed to act with a charitable motive. If he, therefore, shows signs of repentance and amendment, and acts with a spirit of humility, he can exercise fraternal correction.
What is to be done if the correction does not avail anything, but might, on the contrary, irritate the culprit and make him more obstinate ?
If his conduct is an annoyance or a scandal to the public, his superior ought to rebuke him and even take severe measures against him if necessary. A judge feels no reluctance to condemn a culprit in spite of his recriminations and the affliction of his family. However, in all such cases, the means must always be proportioned to the end.
Ought a private admonition precede a public denunciation ? If the crime is public, there is no necessity of making any mystery of the correction to be given to the criminal, "Them that sin reprove before all, that the rest also may fear." (1 Tim. v., 20.) If the crime or transgression is private, no public denunciation or revelation should be made, unless in case of something detrimental to the public or of a conspiracy against the state. In similar cases, we ought to imitate the skilful physician, who first strives to heal the wound if possible ; but if he cannot succeed, he has recourse to amputation, in order to save the life of his patient. A superior, therefore, should not have recourse to extreme measures, when there is hope that a private admonition will reclaim the sinner. Unless things transpire before the eyes of the public, justice and charity require the superior to keep all secret and leave all rest in the hands of God.
In what manner should correction be made?
To correct one is an act of charity. Therefore, correction should be made in the spirit of charity. A reproof is a kind of food which is always difficult to digest. Fraternal charity should, then, so sweeten it as to destroy its bitterness, or else it will be like those fruits which cause pain in the stomach. Charity does not seek its own advantage, but the honor of God. Bitterness and severity proceed only from passion, vanity and pride. A good remedy used at an improper time often becomes a deadly poison.Now, it is easy to know when the correction we make proceeds from charity. Truth proceeds from charity when we speak it only from the love of God and for the good
of him whom we reprove. It is better to be silent than to speak a truth ungraciously ; for this is to present a good dish badly cooked, or to give medicine unseasonably. But is this not to keep back the truth unjustly ? By no means ; to act otherwise is to bring it forth unjustly, because the real justice of truth and the truth of justice reside in charity. That truth which is not charitable proceeds from a charity which is not true. A judicious silence is always preferable to an uncharitable truth. Hence, in correcting others, we should remember the following advice given by the saints upon this subject :
1. Good example must precede the correction, otherwise it may justly be said: "Physician, cure thyself."
2. Patience must defer it, because, reproof being a bitter remedy, it should be applied, generally speaking, only when every other means has proved useless.
3. It must be given with charity, lest, while striving to heal one wound, we inflict several others.
4. Humility must accompany it by accusing ourselves and assuming thus a part of the disgrace of him whose weakness we have discovered.
5. We ought to be very careful to give a reproof in so mild a manner as to lessen the bitterness of this remedy to which nature is utterly averse. It thus becomes efficacious and strikes at the very root of the evil.
6. In reproving we should pay attention to the nature of the fault, its consequences, and to the degree of virtue in the delinquent.
7. It is sometimes advisable, before reproving a person, to point out to him the nature and greatness of the fault, and then request him to punish himself for it. The penance of a contrite heart is great when it sees itself kindly dealt with. We must blame the offense, but spare the offender.
8. When any one has corrected a fault, forget the past and treat him as if nothing had happened, according to what holy Scripture says : "Despise not a man that turneth away from sin, nor reproach him therewith : remember that we are all worthy of reproof." (Ecclus. viii., 6.)
It is in this way that we heal wounds without leaving a scar. We read in the life of St. Alphonsus, that his firmness towards those who persevered in their faults, was changed into mercy when he saw them contrite. He loved with an exceedingly great love those who amended their conduct after his admonitions. He pressed them to his bosom, forgot their faults, and never again alluded to the pain they had caused him. "I am informed," writes the saint in his book Preparation for Death, "that the celebrated Signore Pietro Metastasio has published a little book in prose, in which he expresses his detestation of his writings on profane love and declares that, were it in his power, he would retract them and make them disappear from the world? even at the cost of his blood. I am told, that he lives retired in his own house, leading a life of prayer. This information has given me unspeakable consolation ; because his public declaration and his most laudable example will help to undeceive many young persons who seek to acquire a great name by similar compositions on profane love. It is certain, that by his retraction, Signore Metastasio has deserved more encomiums than he would deserve by the publication of a thousand poetic works : for these he might be praised by men, but now he is praised by God. Hence, as I formerly detested his vanity in priding himself on such compositions (I do not speak of his sacred pieces, which are excellent and deserving of all praise), so now I shall never cease to praise him; and were I permitted, I would kiss his feet, seeing that he has voluntarily become the censor of his own works, and that he now desires to see them banished from the whole world at the expense, as he says, even of his own blood."
9. In reproving our neighbor great regard should be paid to his disposition. Sometimes a courteous little admonition, such as the reproving glance cast by our Lord at St. Peter, may be sufficient. In many cases it may be advisable to give the reproof in such a manner that it will appear rather as praise than blame. "If a word chastises, cast the rod away, If a look suffices, have no word to say."
10. Never reprove any one when you are excited. A physician who is suffering from delirium or any other violent disorder should be first cured himself before he at tempts to prescribe for others.
11. The faults of those who sin more from weakness and ignorance than from any other reason, should move us to pity rather than to severity. We should kindly encourage them to amend their faults and avoid relapsing into them.
12. Whether we make corrections in public or in private, we should never use opprobrious expressions, such as fool, simpleton, and the like. We should seem to advise rather than to reprove, saying, for example : "Does it not appear to you, that such and such a thing is an abuse ? That whoever acts so, and so, exposes himself to censure ?" This manner of acting is more convincing and effective than any other. Prudence, then, requires us to prefer it to a more arbitrary course.
13. We must not be astonished at seeing one troubled at a reproof, or taking it badly. If the culprit is wanting in humility, we must not, on this account, be wanting in charity by forgetting our Christian dignity, and allowing aversions and ill-feelings to take root in our heart.
14. If a correction is to be given to a person whose dignity is to be respected, we should give it so as to reprove ourselves at the same time, speaking in the first person of the plural number, saying, for instance : "How much do we all offend God. We all have our faults, but we ought to be careful to avoid such and such faults."
15. There are certain persons who easily find fault with others. They themselves are generally the most guilty. It is one of their secret artifices to turn the eyes of others upon the faults of their neighbor, in order to keep them turned away from their own. You should never pay particular attention to what these great talkers say. Much less should you ever reprove any one with out having given him a hearing. To believe what you hear without further inquiry, and reprove instantly, is to expose yourself to a thousand evils and agitations.
16. Generally speaking, it is not advisable to reprove one on the spot for his faults. Medicine must not be given to a person who is in high fever, except in extraordinary cases. You should take time to consider the matter before God, and to reflect on the best and most useful manner of making the correction, especially when the fault is of a serious nature, and the offender is of a hasty temperament. Then when a favorable moment presents itself, ask with all humility and confidence, the guilty person to be kind enough to allow you, though full of faults yourself, to call his attention to something for his own benefit. In order to gain the affection and confidence of the offender, you may first praise modestly his good qualities. Then, place, with great delicacy, before him his fault, reminding him of its unhappy consequences, and propose to him the proper remedy. To this you may add, that you yourself were obliged to use this remedy in order to correct your own faults.
17. Never reveal the name of the person who reported the fault. Nay, if you have reason to fear that the guilty person may easily suspect the one that spoke of him and conceive a dislike for him, it is better to make no reproof, because peace and union with our neighbor should be preferred to every thing else.
18. Always conclude a reproof with some encouraging words, saying, for instance, that God allows such faults, in order to keep us humble and to increase our solicitude in acquiring virtue.
19. Under certain circumstances, it is advisable to give the admonition publicly without naming the guilty person. This should be done,
a. When the evil is deeply rooted; for in this case it is not prudent to admonish individuals privately ;
b. When the offender has a good heart, but is too weak in virtue to take a reproof in the proper spirit ;
c. When it is to be feared that others may commit the same fault, if the warning is not given in public.
20. Correct the aged by way of sweet entreaty ; for it is not very easy to manage them ; they are not very flexible. The sinews of their soul as well as of their body have grown stiff. Hence the way of entreaty is the best manner of admonishing them.
21. Before giving a reprimand, recommend yourself to the Lord. Humble yourself in his presence and acknowledge that you are more faulty and, consequently, more blame- worthy than your neighbor.
St. Vincent de Paul says that those who are spiritually sick, ought to be more tenderly treated than those who are corporally sick. "I beg you," he wrote to a Superior who had notified him of the desire of a lay-brother to leave the Congregation, "to assist and encourage him to resist the temptation, but do it mildly and affectionately, seeming rather to advise than to reprove him, as is our custom." He also tells us, that although during his whole life, he gave a sharp reproof three times only, yet. each time he was forced to regret it, because, notwithstanding the apparent just reason for reproving sharply, the correction proved fruitless, while on the contrary, those reproofs which he had given mildly, were always effective.
St. Juliana Veronica occupied the post of Mistress of Novices for several years. During this time she had two novices who were of a head-strong disposition. One of them received her charitable admonitions in such ill part, that they produced not the least amendment. She was therefore expelled by the Chapter. However, St. Veronica obtained for her, from the Blessed Virgin, the grace of being received into another convent, where she corrected her faults. The other novice forgot herself so far as to strike her Mistress in the face, and with such violence as to bruise her lips. The holy woman, grieved at the scandal, and at the excommunication which the novice drew upon herself by this act, implored of God so earnestly her amendment that she shed tears of blood. For a time, the rebellious Sister did better, but her amendment was not permanent. One day, when she was again kindly reproved by St. Veronica for not fulfilling her duty, she felt so terribly provoked, and pushed the saint so roughly that she would have fallen, had not those standing near her come to her assistance. The prudent Superior said nothing about the affair at the time, as she knew that a reproof would be useless, nay, even injurious, because the offender was under the influence of passion. She merely remarked to those who insisted upon the punishment of the novice, that it was necessary to have patience, and that her only grief was that God had been offended. At the next Chapter, however, she calmly reproved and punished the fault. The fruit of this moderation was, that the delinquent entered into herself, arid blushing with confusion at the sin she had committed, performed the penance imposed upon her. From that time forward, she watched so carefully over herself, that she lived and died a true religious.
A short time after Father Lallemant had been appointed Rector of the College of Bourges, the brother baker came to him, one day, and rather rudely complained of having too much to do; he told the Rector to see to the matter and put some one else in his place. The Father calmly listened to him, and promised to relieve him. He then went himself quietly into the bake-house and began kneading the dough with the greatest diligence. After the brother had become calm again, he returned to the bake-house, and found, to his great surprise, the Father Rector doing his work for him. He immediately threw himself at his feet and begged his pardon, being filled with confusion at his fault, and moved by the meekness and humility of so compassionate a Superior.
Father Lallemant acted thus on all similar occasions, so prudently using lenity that every one readily conceded to him whatsoever he desired. He used to say that experience daily taught him more and more, that discipline should be kept up in the Company with extreme mildness ; that the Superiors ought to study to make themselves obeyed rather from love than from fear; that the way to maintain regularity is not by rigor and penances, but by the paternal kindness of the Superiors and their diligence in attending to the wants of inferiors; and in preserving and increasing in them the spirit of piety and prayer.
One day St. Vincent de Paul heard that one of his priests was too inactive during the missions, and that severity towards the people prevailed over charity in his sermons. He wrote to him as follows: "I write to you, dear Sir, to inquire your news and to communicate to you ours. How do you feel after your great fatigue ? How many missions have you given ? Do the people seem disposed to profit by your labors ? Do these labors produce the desired fruit ? It would be a great consolation for me to be informed in detail of all you have done. From other houses of the Congregation I have received good accounts, thanks be to God ! Their labors are to their great content blessed with happy results. The strength which God has given to Mr. N. is truly wonderful. For nine months he has been laboring in the country, and his missions, according to the Vicar-general, the religious of the place, and others, have done incalculable good. This result is ascribed solely, to the mildness and charity with which this gentleman seeks to win the hearts of these poor people. This induces me to recommend more earnestly than ever the practice of these virtues. If God deigned to bless our first missions, it as evidently on account of the kindness, humility arid sincerity with which we treated every one. Yes, if God deigned to make use of the most miserable among us, that is of myself, to convert sinners and heretics, it was, as they themselves unanimously admitted, in consequence of the patience and benevolence with which I constantly acted towards them. Even the galley-slaves were won in this manner. When I dealt severely with them, all my efforts were vain, whilst, on the contrary, when I pitied them, praised their resignation, kissed their chains, sympathized with them in their misfortune, or told them that their sufferings were their purgatory in this life, they listened to me and took the necessary means to save their souls. I beg you, therefore, my dear Sir, to help me to thank God earnestly for these favors and to beg of Him to bestow the grace, upon all our Missioners, to act towards every one, privately and publicly, even towards the most hardened sinners.; with meekness, charity and humility, and never to make use of wounding words, or bitter reproaches, or preach severe sermons. I doubt not, Sir, that as far as you are concerned, you will carefully avoid a manner of acting which is so exceedingly unbecoming a Physician of souls, and which instead of winning hearts and leading them to God, only estranges and embitters them. Christ, our Lord, is the eternal delight of both angels and men : we must also try to be the delight of our fellow-creatures, so as to lead them to their eternal happiness."
Thus St. Vincent knew how to draw the attention of his priests to their faults and imperfections, without wounding their feelings. He excused them as far as he could, manifested his love and esteem for them, and reproved so modestly and humbly, that none ever felt abashed or discouraged, but, on the contrary, all were edified and encouraged by his very reproofs. To the Superior of one of his houses, who greatly exaggerated the difficulties of his office, Vincent gave the following answer : "What you write to me is both true and not true. It is true in respect to those who do not like to be contradicted by any one ; who wish every thing to be conducted according to their opinion and will; who desire to be obeyed by all without opposition or delay, and who would like to see their every command approved of. What you write is not true, however, in regard to those who consider themselves as the servants of others, and who, while they perform the duties of Superior, keep constantly in mind their model, Jesus Christ, who bore with the rudeness, jealousy, want of faith, and other faults of His disciples, and who said that He had come into the world not to be served, but to serve. You used formerly to go through your duties patiently, humbly and cheerfully, and I know well that your only design now in using these exaggerated expressions, is to explain your difficulties better and to induce me to remove you from your post of Superior.It was, however, by no means the opinion of St. Vincent, that Superiors should connive at every thing in their subjects. He wished that the guilty should always be reprimanded and even punished, insisting, nevertheless upon the reproof being given in the spirit of meekness and in accordance with the above-quoted principles.
He was once told that one of his priests, a very zealous man, who at that time was the Superior of a Seminary, treated the Seminarians too harshly. In a letter to this priest, he reproves him in the following manner : "I believe all that you have written, quite as readily as if I had seen it with my own eyes, and I have too many proofs of your zeal for the good of the Seminary to doubt your words. For this very reason, I have with held my judgment in regard to the complaints which have reached me of your severe government, until I should have learned from yourself the true state of things.
In the meanwhile, I beg of you to reflect seriously upon the manner in which you act, and to resolve to correct, with the help of God s grace, whatever may be displeasing to Him in your conduct. Although your intention may be good, yet the Divine Majesty is offended, and the following are a few of the evil consequences of such conduct : "First, the Seminarians leave the house dissatisfied ; virtue becomes distasteful to them ; the consequence of which is, that they may fall into sin and ruin their souls ; and this, merely because they were, by your severity, too soon forced out of the school of piety. Secondly, they talk against the Seminary and are the cause of others not going, who otherwise would have come to receive the instructions and graces necessary for their vocation. Thirdly, the bad reputation of one house easily reflects upon all the others of the Society, paralyzing the members thereof in their ministry, so much so that the good which the Lord, until now, has deigned to perform by their instrumentality, immediately commences diminishing more and more. To say that, heretofore, you have not noticed these faults in your own person, betrays, no doubt, a want of humility on your part. For were you possessed of that degree of humility which Jesus Christ requires of Missionary Priests, you would not hesitate for a moment to believe, that you were the most imperfect of all and guilty of all these things. You would attribute to a hidden blindness your not noticing in your self those defects which are so easily discovered by others, and for which you have already been reprimanded. I have learned, that you do not like correction. Should this be so, ! how much should you fear for yourself! How far does your virtue fall short of that of the Saints who annihilated themselves before the world and were rejoiced at seeing their little failings made known to others. Are we not to imitate Jesus Christ, who, notwithstanding His innocence, suffered the bitterest and most unjust reproaches, without even opening His mouth to avert the disgrace from His sacred person?
My dear Sir, let us learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. These are virtues which you and I must continually ask of Him, and to which we must always attend, in order not to be drawn away by the opposite passions, which make us destroy with one hand what we have built up with the other. May God enlighten us with His holy Spirit to discover our blindness and to submit to those whom He has given us for guides." To the Superior of a mission-house, he wrote as follows : "God be praised that you went yourself to do what Mr. N. refused to do. It was very good that you preferred doing this, rather than insisting any longer upon obedience to your command. There are some people, who, although devout and pious, and having a great horror for sin, will still from time to time commit some faults through human frailty ; we must bear with them, and not excite them still more. As God otherwise blesses this gentleman in the confessional, I think we ought to connive a little at his caprices, so much the more as they are of no serious nature. With regard to the other priest of whom you write, I hope that this word has escaped him from want of reflection, rather than from real malice. Even the most discreet when surprised by passion, may say something of which they soon after repent. Finally, there are men who show aversion to persons as well as to offices, but who still do much good. Alas ! it cannot be otherwise, live with whom you please, you will still have something to suffer, as well as some thing to merit. I hope, that he, of whom I speak, will still be gained, if we use towards him charitable forbearance and kind corrections. Do pray for him, as I unceasingly do for your whole community."
To another Superior he wrote : "The priest of whom you make this report, is a pious man ; he practices virtue, and before he entered our Congregation, he enjoyed a great reputation in the world. If he now manifests a restless spirit, meddling with temporal affairs and those of his family, and thus becomes a subject of annoyance to his brethren in religion, he must be borne with in meekness. If he had not this fault, he would have another; and if you had nothing to suffer, you would have no occasion to practice charity. Your Superiorship would, moreover, bear little resemblance to that of our Divine Redeemer who chose, for Himself, imperfect and uneducated disciples, both to manifest His charity and patience, and to give an example to those who have to direct others. I beseech you, my dear Sir, to imitate this Divine Model. From Him you will learn not only how to bear with your brethren, but also how to treat them, in order to free them more and more from their defects. Certainly on the one hand, we must not allow, through human interest, evils to increase or to take deeper root, but on the other hand we must try to remedy them by degrees and in a charitable manner."
To a priest who was in company with another on a distant mission, he wrote thus : "I hope that the goodness of God will bless your efforts, especially if charity and patience reign between you and your assistant. I beseech you, in the name of the Lord, to see that this be your principal care, because you are the elder and consequently the Superior. Bear, therefore, in patience what ever you may have to suffer on the part of your companion. Bear all, I say, so as interiorly to renounce your authority, and to be guided only by the spirit of charity. By this means Jesus Christ gained his Apostles and corrected them of their faults. You also will gain this good Priest by this means only. Have then a little regard for his character; do not contradict him at the first moment, though you believe you have reason for so doing, but wait awhile and then give him a charitable remonstrance. Above all, take great care not to let any one perceive the least difficulty between him and you, for you are exposed to the observation of all, and one single unkind look on your part, if noticed by the people, would make so bad an impression upon them as to paralyze all your labors. I hope you will follow my advice."
If all these admonitions and reproofs were, or seemed to be, of no avail, still Vincent did not lose courage, but continued to bear patiently, to pray, and to hope that God would, in the end, show mercy to these strayed sheep. This perseverance he also recommended to others. When Superiors of the different houses requested him to send such and such a priest to another house, he recommended patience to them, reminding them of the common lot of all men to have faults. If any of his subjects acted otherwise than he had told him, he would say only : "Sir, had you followed my advice, you would have succeeded better in your under taking." Sometimes he would not say anything at all.
St. Francis de Sales was one evening visited by a nobleman. His servant forgot to put lights in the house and in the room of the prelate, so that the bishop was obliged to accompany the stranger to the gate, in the dark. The only reproof which the Saint made to the servant, consisted in this: "Do you know, my dear friend, that two little pieces of candle would have been of greater value to us today than ten dollars ? Once one of the servants of St. Francis de Sales returned home rather late at night, being quite intoxicated. He knocked at the door, but no one answered, all having gone to sleep. The Saint, who alone was still awake, went to open the door, and seeing that his servant was intoxicated to such a degree as not to be able to walk, he took him by the arm and conducted him to his bedroom ; there, after having undressed him and taken off his shoes and stockings, he laid him on his bed, covered him well and retired. The Saint, on meeting him alone next morning, said to him : "O, my dear friend, you were no doubt, very sick last night!" On hearing this the servant fell on his knees, and, bathed in tears, begged the prelate s pardon. The holy bishop touched by his sorrow, gave him, though a severe, yet a paternal reproof; he reminded him of the danger to which he exposed himself of losing his soul, and imposed upon him the penance of mixing a certain quantity of water with his wine at table. The culprit accepted the penance, and was, from that time, so faithful that he never again committed a similar fault. "One day," says the bishop of Belley, "I was to preach at the Church of the Visitation. Being aware that our Saint would be present, and that a large concourse of people was expected, I felt a little personal anxiety on the occasion, and I prepared in good earnest. When we had retired to his house, and were alone together, Well, he said, "you have given general satisfaction today ; people went away exclaiming, mirabilia ! at your fine and elegant panegyric. I only met with one individual who was not satisfied." "What can I have said" I replied, "to displease this person?" "Well I have no desire to know his name." "But I, for my part," said the Saint, "have a great desire to tell it to you." "Who is he then, that I may endeavor to give him satisfaction?" "If I had not great confidence in you, I should not name him ; but as I know you well, I willingly do so. Do you see him here?" I looked around, and saw no one but himself. "It is you, then," I said. "Myself" he replied. "Certainly, I rejoined "I should have valued your approbation alone, more than that of the whole congregation. Thank God, I have fallen into the hands of one who wounds only that he may heal ! What, then, did you find fault with ? For I know that your indulgence will not excuse anything in me ! I love you too much," he resumed, "to flatter you, and if you had loved our Sisters after this fashion, you would not have amused yourself in puffing up their minds, instead of edifying them in praising their state of life, instead of teaching them some humiliating arid more salutary doctrine. It is with the food of the mind as with that of the body. Flattery is windy ; and windy food, like vegetables, is not nutritious. We ought, in preaching, to provide, not empty food, the memory of which perishes with its utterance, but meat which will endure to life everlasting. We must never, indeed, ascend the pulpit, without the special object of building up some corner or other of the walls of Jerusalem, by teaching the practice of a certain virtue, or the means of avoiding a certain vice ; for the whole fruit of preaching consists in making the people do away with sin and practice virtue. "Lord!" exclaimed David, "I will teach the unjust Thy ways, and the wicked shall be converted unto Thee." "What sort of conversion," I retorted, "could I preach to souls delivered from the hands of their enemies, the devil, the flesh, and the world, and serving God in holiness of life ? You should have taught them," he said, "to take heed, since they stand, not to fall to work out their salvation according to the counsel of the Holy Spirit, with fear and trembling ; and not to be without fear, even with respect to sin forgiven. You described them to us as so many saints. You must not place pillows under elbows in this way, nor give milk to those who need bitter herbs and wormwood. "My object" I said, was to encourage and fortify them in their holy undertaking. We must encourage," he replied, "without running the risk of exciting presumption and vanity. It is always safer to humble our hearers, than to exalt them to high and admirable things above their reach. I feel persuaded, that another time you will be cautious in this respect." The next day he made me preach at a Convent of the Nuns of St. Clare. He was present, and the congregation was not less numerous than on the preceding day. I took care to avoid the pit-fall he had pointed out to me ; my discourse was very simple, both in words and ideas, aiming at nothing except edification. I proceeded with much method, and pressed home my subject. Our Saint, on our return, came to see me in my apartment, which, in fact, was his own for when I was on a visit to him, he always gave me his, room. After tenderly embracing me, he said, Truly, I loved you dearly yesterday, but much more today. You are, indeed, quite after my own heart ; and if I am not much mistaken, you are also according to God's heart, who, I believe, has been pleased with your sacrifice. I could not have believed, you would have been so yielding and condescending. It is a true saying, that the obedient man shall speak of victory. You have conquered yourself today. Do you know that most of your hearers said, Today is very unlike yesterday and they were not as much pleased this time as the last; but the individual, who was not satisfied yesterday, is wonderfully pleased today. I grant you hereupon a plenary indulgence for all your past faults. You have fulfilled all my wishes today ; and if you persevere, you will do much service for the Lord of the vineyard. Preaching must not seek its strength in the words and the notions of human wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. If you faithfully adhere to this method, God will give to your labors a full and honorable increase you will become prudent in the words of mystical wisdom, and will possess the science of the saints, the science that makes saints. What, after all, do we desire to know, save Jesus, and Jesus crucified.
One day Cardinal Cheverus learned that a parish priest was at open warfare with his parish. He went to the place with the view of re-establishing peace. The pastor in question was a man of irreproachable life and ardent zeal, but of an excitable disposition which some times hurried him beyond all bounds. It was from this defect that the dispute originated. A child had been brought to him for baptism whose godmother had neglected to make her Easter communion. Adhering rigidly to ancient regulations, he would not permit her to stand sponsor, which so exasperated the parents, that they refused to seek a substitute, preferring to leave their infant unbaptized: On his arrival, M. de Cheverus begged the pastor to withdraw his opposition ; but in vain. The Cardinal then directed one of the priests who accompanied him to perform the ceremony, in order that the poor child might no longer remain the victim of a quarrel. Irritated at this beyond all self-control, the pastor gave the most insulting language to his archbishop. The meek prelate opposed nothing but silence and calmness to the storm. He repaired to the church, where he ascended the pulpit and invited all the parishioners to peace and union with their parish-priest, on whom he pronounced an elaborate eulogium, detailing all the good qualities of which he was possessed. "You have," he
said, "but one complaint to make of him, he has, you say, a hasty and violent temper ; alas ! my friends, who is without defects ? If I were to remain twenty-four hours among you, you would perhaps discover so many faults in me that you would not be able to tolerate me : you see but one in your pastor, forgive then that single fault in consideration of so many virtues." Having finished his discourse, the Cardinal went to the sacristy, where he found the priest, abashed and ashamed, and, embracing him with the utmost kindness, he said : "My dear friend, I love you with my whole heart ; how shall we begin the service ?" Seeking by this means to do away with the recollection of the offense which had been committed, and prove his condescension in regard to every thing which was not inimical to his duty. The service over, the Cardinal called upon those of the parishioners who were the most embittered against the pastor, and, spoke to them so impressively that they declared themselves ready to do whatever he wished. The reconciliation was forthwith accomplished ; the kiss of peace was given, all sat down to the same table, and every heart was united in that of the Archbishop. Thus did he everywhere spread the dominion of charity, and illustrate by his example the words of the Apostle :
"Charity is sweet and patient, not hasty to anger, but pardoneth and suffereth much."
St. Alphonsus manner of correcting may be seen from the following letter, which he addressed to a Superior, of his Congregation : "To speak with all freedom, I remark above all, that I do not believe that your Reverence wishes me to treat you with too much consideration, in regard to obedience, and as a subject, weak in virtue, to whom nothing can be said for fear of giving offence. I have a better opinion of your Reverence, and I believe that you desire what is best and most pleasing to God. Now let me tell what I desire to see in you. Your Reverence knows how much I have always esteemed you ; I have given you proofs of this on several occasions. It would pain me very much were I to be told, as some time ago, that your Reverence is a holy man indeed, but unfit for the rectorship for the following reasons : first, because, when Superior, you would be seldom at home ; secondly, that you would at the same time busy yourself with too many affairs, write too many letters, trouble yourself about so many things that would not concern you, and introduce so many devotions to which you seem to be attached that the regular observance of the rule would soon suffer. I know of course, and every one acknowledges, that your Reverence does not go out for the sake of pleasure, or for some other similar reason, but from the motive of pleasing God in every thing ; but now that you are in the Congregation, and especially now that you have been made rector, you must be convinced, that you can do nothing more conducive to the glory of God, than to take good care of the well-being and regular observance of your community which is one of the most fervent, nay, even the most fervent of all we have. The number of your subjects being small at present, this regularity cannot be so perfect as yet ; however, you must endeavor to make it as perfect as circumstances will allow. As regards going out, your Reverence knows from your own experience, that if the head be wanting, all the rest is in disorder
Nevertheless, I do not forbid you to go out on an important affair for the good of the house or the Congregation? or when the greater glory of God is in question but should your Reverence wish to take part in all that contributes to the glory of God in your diocese, you could never be
at home. The greatest glory you can render to God is the accomplishment of his holy will. I repeat it therefore, henceforth, your Reverence must mind only the good of the house and the Church, Mater Domini; and the regular observance of the rule, that none of the things may come true which some have predicted of your Reverence. I speak with all charity, because I esteem you, and esteem you very much, and because I have a good opinion of you, trusting that you belong to the number of those who endeavor to sanctify themselves in the Congregation like Fathers Cafaro, Villani, Mazzini and others, who have renounced their own will and that you do not resemble those who wish to be treated too delicately, and whom I will treat thus, but of whom I foresee that they will never sanctify themselves, because they do not
To be continued . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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