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IN the Introit of this day's Mass, the Church brings before us one who seeks to be loosed from his sins; and calls on God for help and assistance. Arise, why sleep est thou, O Lord? arise, and cast us not off to the end: why turnest thou thy face away, and forgettest our trouble? Our belly hath cleaved to the earth: arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us. O God, we have heard with our ears; our Fathers have declared to us. (Ps. XLIII. 23-25.) Glory be to the Father, &c.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who seest that we trust not in aught we do; mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
EPISTLE, (II. Cor. XI. 19-33; to XII. I-9.) BRETHREN, you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise,) I am more: 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 was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, 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; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus, the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed); but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth): such a one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth): that he was caught up into paradise; and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such a one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For, which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Why is St. Paul mentioned in the Mass of this day, and why is this epistle read?
Because in Rome the Station or Church service is held on this day in the Church of St. Paul and because the Church continues to encourage us to work according to the example given by St. Paul who, with the grace of God, accomplished and suffered so much; also because we should labor for the honor of God and the salvation of our souls
and faithfully cooperate with the grace of God.
Why, in the beginning of this epistle, does St. Paul say so much in his own praise?
Not out of ambition for honor and glory, but to honor God, and for the love and advantage of the Corinthians, who allowed themselves to be deceived by mercenary impostors and false prophets; that he might make public the craftiness of those deceivers who assumed the appearance of the true apostles, as Satan took the form of a good angel. To shame these, and to remove the obstacles they had placed in the way of the gospel, St. Paul was obliged to reveal to the Corinthians the things he had performed and endured in propagating the holy gospel. By trials and sufferings is the true apostle known; the false apostles, the hirelings, as Christ calls them, only care for their own bodies, for temporal advantages, not for the salvation of souls. We see this exemplified in our days by the heretical missionaries who, when there is suffering, when there is martyrdom, take to flight, for their eyes are directed only to the present life and a large income, while the Catholic missionaries rejoice if, for Christ's sake, and for the salvation of souls, they are permitted to suffer, and made worthy to endure the cruel death of the martyr.
Of whom does St. Paul relate such marvels'?
Of himself, but from humility and modesty he does not say so; fourteen years before, forty-four years after the birth of Christ, St. Paul was rapt to the third heaven, that is, to the abode of happy spirits; but to preserve him in humility God permitted Satan to use the concupiscence of the flesh, which is like a sting in the body of man, as a temptation to the apostle, and by which he was continually tormented.
ASPIRATION. Grant me, O God, thy grace that in these evil days of false doctrines I may remain steadfast to Thy holy gospel which in the holy Catholic Church remains pure and unchanged; never let me be deterred from obeying its precepts, neither by the charms of the world nor by the mockery and reproaches of the wicked.
GOSPEL. (Luke VIIII. 4-15.) AT THAT TIME, when a very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto him, he spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables; that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots, for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who, in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.
Why if the word of God compared to a seed?
Because from tho word of God germinates the fruit of good works, as from good seed grows good fruit; as it is impossible, therefore, for an unsowed field to produce good fruit, so is it impossible for man without the seed of God's word to produce good fruits of the spirit.
Why does Christ cry out in the parable: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear?
Because of the importance and necessity of the doctrine which was contained in the parable. For to hear the word of God is absolutely necessary for salvation, as the Apostle
indicates: How shall they believe him (Jesus) of whom they have not heard? (Rom. x. 14.) Jesus calls those happy who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke xi. 28.) And on this subject. St. Augustine says: "Be assured, my brethren, that as the body becomes weakened by want and hunger, and wastes to a mere shadow, so the soul that is not nourished by the word of God, becomes shrunken, worthless and unfit for any good work."
Violence comes so much cockle of evil, when the seed of God's word is so abundantly sowed?
Because, as Christ says, the seed falls now by the wayside, now upon a rock, now among thorns, seldom upon good soil, that is to say, those who hear the word of God are as a highway, over which many distracting thoughts are traveling which tread down the scattered seed, or, like fowls of the air devour it; they are like rocks, hardened by their prejudices or repeated crimes, so that the divine word cannot take root; again, they are so overgrown by the thorns of worldly cares, the constant desire for wealth and riches, and sensual delights, that even if they receive the seed, it is unable to grow and bear fruit.
ON THE POWER OF GOD'S WORD.
THE word of God is compared, by the Prophet Jeremias, to a hammer which crushes hearts as hard as rocks, and to a fire that dries up the swamps of vice, and consumes inveterate evil habits. (Jer. xxiii. 29.) The Psalmist compares it to thunder that makes all tremble, a storm wind that bends and breaks the cedars of Lebanon, that is, proud and obstinate spirits; a light that dispels the darkness of ignorance; and a remedy that cures sin. (Ps. xxviii. 3-5., cxviii. 105.) St. Paul compares it to a sword that divides the body from the soul, that is, the carnal desires from the spirit; (Heb. IV. 12.) the Apostle James to
a mirror in which man sees his stains and his wrongs. (Jam. I. 23.) the Prophet Isaias to a precious rain that moistens, the soil of the soul and fertilizes it; (Isai. Iv. 10. n.) and Jesus Himself compares it to a seed that when it falls on good ground, brings forth fruit a hundredfold. (Luke viii. 8.) One single grain of this divine seed produced the most marvellous fruits of sanctity in St. Augustine, St. Anthony the Great, in St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and others; for St. Augustine was converted by the words: "Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in, chambering" and impurities, not in contention and envy." (Rom. xiii. 13.) St. Anthony by the words: "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Matt. xix. 21.) Nicholas of Tolentino was brought to Christian perfection by the words: "Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. (i. John ii. 15.)
How should we prepare ourselves to be benefited by the word of God?
We must be good, well-tilled soil, that is, we must have a heart that loves truth, desires to learn, and humbly and sincerely seeks salvation; we must listen to the word of God with due preparation and attention, keep the divine truths we have heard, in our heart, frequently consider and strive to fulfil them.
What should be done before the sermon?
We should endeavor to purify our conscience, for, as St. Chrysostom demands; "Who would pour precious juice into a vessel that is not clean, without first washing it?" We should, therefore, at least cleanse our hearts by an ardent sorrow for our sins, because the spirit of truth enters not into the sinful soul; (Wisd. i. 4.) we should ask the Holy Ghost for the necessary enlightenment, for little or no fruit can be obtained from a sermon if it is not united with prayer; we should listen to the sermon with a good motive; that is, with a view of hearing something edifying and instructive; if we attend only through curiosity, the desire to hear something new, to criticize the preacher, or to see and to be seen, we are like the Pharisees who for such and similar motives went to hear Christ and derived no benefit therefrom. "As a straight sword goes not into a crooked sheath, so the word of God enters not into a heart that is filled with improper motives." We should strive to direct our minds rightly, that is, to dispel all temporal thoughts, all needless distraction, otherwise the wholesome words would fall but upon the ears, would not penetrate the heart, and the words of Christ be fulfilled: They have ears, and hear not.
How should we comport ourselves during the sermon?
We should listen to the sermon with earnest, reverent attention, for God speaks to us through His priests, and Christ says to them: Who hears you, hears me. (Luke x. 16.) We must listen to the priests, therefore, not as to men, but as to God's ambassadors, for every priest can say with St. Paul: We are ambassadors for Christ, God, as it were, exhorting by us. (ii. Cor. v. 20.) "If," says St. Chrysostom, "when the letter of a king is read, the greatest quiet and attention prevails, that nothing may be lost, how much more should we listen with reverence and perfect silence to the word of God?" The word of God is, and ever will be, a divine seed, which, when properly received, produces precious fruit, by what priest soever sowed; for in the sowing it matters not what priest sows, but what soil is sowed. Be careful, also, that you do not apply that which is said to others, but take it to yourself, or the sermon will be of no benefit to you. Are you free from those vices which the preacher decries and against which he battles? then, thank God, but do not despise others who are perhaps laboring under them , rather pray that they may be released and you preserved from falling into them. Keep also from sleeping, talking, and other distractions, and remember, that whoever, is of God, also willingly hears his word. (John viii. 47.)
What should be done after the sermon?
We should then strive to put into practice the good we have heard, for God justifies not those who hear the law, but those who keep it, (Rom. ii. 13.) and those who hear the word of God and do not conform their lives to it, are like the man who looks into the mirror, and having looked into it goes away, and presently forgets what manner of man he is. (Jam. I. 23. 24.) To practice that which has been heard, it is above all necessary that it should be kept constantly in mind, and thoughtfully considered. St. Bernard says: "Preserve the word of God as you would meat for your body, for it is a life-giving bread, and the food of your soul. Happy those, says Christ, who keep it. Receive it, therefore, into your soul's interior, and let it reach your morals and your actions." That food which cannot be digested, or is at once thrown out, is useless; the food should be well masticated, retained, and by the digestive powers worked up into good blood. So not only on the day, but often during the week, that which was heard in the sermon should be thought of and put into practice. Speak of it to others, thus will much idle talk be saved, many souls with the grace of God roused to good, and enlightened in regard to the evil they had not before seen in themselves and in future will avoid. Let us listen to others when they repeat what was said in the sermon. Heads of families should require their children and domestics to relate what they have heard preached. Let us also entreat God to give us grace that we may be enabled to practice the precepts given us.
PRAYER. How much am I shamed, O my God, that the seed of Thy Divine word, which Thou hast sowed so often and so abundantly in my heart, has brought forth so little fruit! Ah ! have mercy on me, and so change my heart, that it may become good soil, in which Thy word may take root, grow without hinderance, and finally bring forth fruits of salvation. Amen.
Source: Goffine's Devout Instruction, Imprimatur 1888
Saint Dymphna, called the "Lily of Ireland" was born in the seventh century. Her father, Damon, a chieftain of great wealth and power, was a pagan. Her mother was also of noble descent, a very beautiful and devout Christian. Dymphna was fourteen when her mother died. Damon is said to have been afflicted with a mental illness, brought on by this grief. In a frantic effort to fill the void left by the death of his wife, he sent messengers
throughout his own and other lands to find some woman of noble birth, resembling his wife, who would be willing to marry him. When none could be found, his evil advisers suggested that he propose marriage to his own daughter. Dymphna was filled with disgust by the advances of her father, and fled from her homeland together with Gerebran, her confessor, and two other friends, the court jester and his wife.
Damon set out in search of the fugitives and found them in Belgium. When he tried to persuade Dymphna to return with him, Father Gerebran rebuked him for his wicked proposal. Damon gave orders that the priest's head be cut off. Then Damon tried again to persuade his daughter to return to Ireland with him. Angered by her resistance, he drew his sword and struck off her head. She was then only fifteen years of age. Dymphna received the crown of martyrdom in defense of her purity about the year 620. She is the patron of those suffering from nervous and mental afflictions. Many miracles have taken place at her shrine in the church of St. Dymphna, which was built upon the site of the original burial place in Gheel, Belgium.
The sixth commandment of God forbids not only adultery (sin with or by a married person), but also all actions which are contrary to the virtue of purity. Purity is a treasure which buys heaven for you, as Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."! Follow the example of St. Dymphna by praying and fighting off every temptation at once. Like her, you ought to be willing even to lay down your life rather than offend God by any sin against the sixth commandment.
Source: Catechism in Stories, Imprimatur 1956
Owing to their circumstances Catholics in this country live in the very midst of Liberalism; we are surrounded by and come in daily contact with extreme and moderate Liberals as well as Catholics gained with its all pervading poison. So did Catholics in the fourth century live among Arians, those of the fifth among Pelagians, and those of the seventeenth amongst Jansenists. It is impossible not to sustain some relations with the Liberals who surround us; we meet them everywhere, in our social dealings, in our business affairs, in our amusements and pleasures, even in Church and in the family. How then shall we comport ourselves in our unavoidable intercourse with those who are thus spiritually diseased? How may we avoid contagion or at least diminish the risk to a minimum?
To lay down a precise rule for every case is a difficulty beyond human capacity; but some general rules of guidance may be given; their application must be left to the prudence of those who are individually concerned according to their circumstances and special obligations.
It will be well first to distinguish, in a general way, three possible relations between a Catholic and Liberalism or rather between a Catholic and Liberals:
1. Necessary relations;
2. Useful relations;
3. Relations of pure affection or pleasure.
Necessary relations are imposed upon every one by his ration in life and his particular position; they cannot be avoided. Such are the family relations, the relations of inferior and superior, etc.
It is evident that a son who has the misfortune to have a Liberal father cannot on this account abandon him, nor the wife the husband, the brother the sister, or the parent the child, except in the case where their Liberalism exacts from any of their respective inferiors acts essentially opposed to religion so as to conduce to a formal apostacy.
But it will not suffice, on the part of the Catholic, for the taking of such a step that mere restraint is put upon his liberty in the performance of the precepts of the Church. For we must remember that the Church places no obligation in such matters on a person who could only perform them under grave inconvenience (sub gravi incommode).
The Catholic unfortunate enough to be so placed must bear with Christian patience his painful situation and surround himself, as far as lies in his power, with every precaution to avoid the contagion of bad example in word or deed. Prayer should be his chief recourse, prayer for himself and the victims of error. He should avoid as far as possible, all conversations on this topic, but when he finds that a controversy is thrust upon him, let him accept it in the full confidence of the truth and armed with effective weapons of defense and offense. A prudent spiritual director should be consulted in the selection of his arsenal. As an antidote to much associate with Liberals, let him frequent the company of other persons of science and authority who are in the constant possession of sound doctrine. Obedience to a superior in all that is not directly or indirectly against faith and morals is his bounded duty, but it is equally his duty to refuse obedience to anything directly or indirectly in opposition to the integrity of his faith. Courage he an draw only from supernatural sources; God who sees the struggle will not refuse all the assistance needed.
There are other relations which we have with Liberals, not absolutely, but morally indispensable, and without which social life, which consists in a mutual exchange of services, is impossible. Such are the relations of commerce, trade, labor, the professions, etc. But that struck subjection, which holds under the necessary relations of which we have just been speaking, does not exist here, and in consequence one can exercise more independence. The fundamental rule in these cases is not to enter into unnecessary intercourse; what the gearing of the social machine demands, and no more, is sufficient. If you are a merchant buy and sell with Liberals in accordance with the needs of your business; more than this avoid; if you are domestic limit your intercourse to the necessities of your service; if you are a laborer, to giving and receiving what is due on either part. Guided by these rules one could live without injury by his faith admits a population of Jews. At the same time, it should never be forgotten that any manifestation of weakness or compromise is never needed. Even Liberals cannot refuse respect to the man who stands firmly and unflinchingly on his conviction, and when the faith is in question, despicable in all men's eyes does he become who would sell his birthright for a mess of pottage.
Relations of pure friendship, pleasure or affection, which we enter into as mere matters of taste or inclination, should be eschewed and, if once contracted, ought to be voluntarily broken off. Such relations are certain danger to our faith. Our Lord says that he who loves danger shall perish in it. It is difficult to sever such connections? What if it is; we must burst the bonds that place us in peril. Reflect for a moment. If your Liberal companion, with whom you are constantly associating, were subject to some contagious disease, would you then court him? If your relations with him compromised your reputation, would you continue them? If he were to asperse your family would you cling to him still? Well, the honor of God and your own spiritual safety is at stake in this matter; what human prudence would counsel you to do for your worldly interest and human honor, surely that much at least your spiritual interests require from you. There is but one condition upon which intimacy with a Liberal is justifiable at all, and that is, for the purpose of converting him; for this two dispositions are necessary: your Liberal friend's willingness and your capacity to lead him to the light. Even here danger is not lacking. One must be very sure of his ground before he attempts the task.
Above all have a horror of heresy, and Liberalism today is the most malignant of all heresies. Its face is set against religious faith absolutely. The first thing to do in an infected country is to isolate oneself, and if this is not possible take all sanitary precautions against the deadly germ. Spiritual health is always endangered whenever we come in contact with Liberalism, and infection is almost certain if we neglect those precautions which prudence suggests.
Source: What is Liberalism, Imprimatur 1899
On the 18th of June, 1871, responding to a deputation of French Catholics, Pius IX spoke thus:
"Atheism in legislation, indifference in matters of religion, and the pernicious maxims which go under the name of Liberal Catholicism are the true causes of the destruction of states; they have been the ruin of France. Believe me, the evil I denounce is more terrible than the Revolution, more terrible even than The Commune. I have always condemned Liberal Catholicism, and I will condemn it again forty times over if it be necessary."
In a brief, 6th of March, 1873, addressed to the Circle of St. Ambrose of Milan, the Sovereign Pontiff thus expresses himself:
"People are not wanting who pretend to form an alliance between light and darkness and to associate justice with iniquity in favor of those doctrines called Liberal Catholicism, which, based on the most pernicious principles, show themselves favorable to the intrusion of secular power upon the domain of spirituals; they lead their partisans to esteem, or at least to tolerate, iniquitous laws, as if it were not written that no one can serve two masters. Those who thus conduct themselves are more dangerous and more baneful than declared enemies, not only because, without being warned of it, perhaps even without being conscious of it, they second the projects of wicked men, but also because, keeping within certain limits, they show themselves with some appearance of probity and sound doctrine. They thus deceive the indiscreet friends of conciliation and seduce honest people, who would otherwise have strenuously combated a declared error."
In the Brief of the 8th of May of the same year, speaking to the Confederation of the Catholic Circle of Belgium, the same Holy Father said:
"What we praise above all in your religious enterprise is the absolute aversion which, as we are informed, you show towards the principles of Liberal Catholicism and your intrepid determination to root them out as soon as possible. In truth you will extirpate the fatal root of discord and you will efficaciously contribute to unite and strengthen the minds of all in so combating this insidious error, much more dangerous than an open enemy because it hides itself under the specious veil of zeal and of charity, and is so endeavoring to protect the people in general from its contaminating influence. Surely you, who adhere with such complete submission to all decisions of this Apostolic Seat and who know its frequent reprobations of Liberal principles, have no need of these warnings."
In the Brief to the La Croix, a Belgium journal, on the 24th of May, 1874, the Pope expresses himself thus:
"We cannot do less than to praise the design expressed in this letter, which we know your journal will satisfactorily fulfill, the design to publish, to spread, to comment on and inculcate in all minds all that the Holy See teaches against the perverse or at least false doctrines professed in so many quarters, and particularly against Liberal Catholicism, bitterly striving to conciliate light with darkness and truth with error."
Source: What is Liberalism, Imprimatur 1899
This will be the last post from our blog that will be posted on Facebook. The reason can be read at this link: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2453369,00.asp
THE Introit of this day's Mass says: Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. TheLord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. xcvi. i.) Glory be to the Father, &c.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through our etc.
EPISTLE. (Rom. xii. 16 21.) BRETHREN, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved: but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.
When are we overcome by evil?
When we wish to take revenge. "Revenge is no sign of courage," says St. Ambrose, "but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word." "Are you impatient," says the same saint, "you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome."
What should we do if our reputation is injured?
We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. "But as a good name," say. St. Francis de Sales, "is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it."
We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility, and lay our honor and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle.
How do we "heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?
When we return him good for evil, for seeing" our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: "By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love." Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecate you.
ASPIRATION. Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine on the just and the unjust!
GOSPEL. (Matt. viii. 1-13.) AT THAT TIME, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum , there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee; and the servant was healed at the same hour.
Why did the leper say: "Lord if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean?"
He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. cvi. 6. 13. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition.
Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?
To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection,which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sickly.
Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man?
To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. vi. i.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.
Why did Christ send the healed leper to the priest?
That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean; that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.
What is taught by the centurion's solicitude for his servant?
That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care.
Why did Christ say: I will come and heal him?
Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ's humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend to the wants of a poor servant.
Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof?
Because he recognised Christ's divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house. From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion's words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.
Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?
By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ's divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word. If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in. His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and place so little confidence in God?
What is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness?
This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God's chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God's grace, he eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.
ASPIRATION. O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper's faith and confidence, that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion's humility, that for Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.
ON RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD
Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. viii. 2.)
THOSE who in adversity as well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them, be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens as they wish, because they know no will but God's, they desire nothing but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that fear Him. (Ps. cxliv. 19.) In the lives of the ancient Fathers we find the 'following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors'. They asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it, because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered more than ever: How could that be? "I never desire other weather," he replied, "than God wills; and because my desires are conformable to His, He gives me the fruits I wish." This submission to the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimned joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions.
Who would not aspire to so happy a state?
We will attain it if we believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for God can never be the cause of
them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God, (Ecclus. xi. 14.) that is, are permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark vii. 37.) Whoever keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.
INSTRUCTION FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS
THE master of a house should be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of the pious Jacob, (Gen. xxx. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because of the just Joseph. (Gen. xxxix. 5.) The master should look to the morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious subjects in his house for he must, after this life, give an account before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin, keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives? Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters? The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the Apostle writes: But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I Tim. v. 8.) Subjects should learn from the centurion's servants who obeyed his only word, that they also should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Col iii. 22 24.)
HERE goes for a chat that you ought to like, a little bit solemn though it may be.
The Christmas cycle of the Church year, as you must know, begins with Advent and closes with the coming of Septuagesima Sunday. With Septuagesima Sunday the Easter cycle begins, which comes to an end with Ascension Thursday. Then we immediately prepare for Pentecost Sunday and enter upon the Pentecostal cycle, which extends to the end of the Church year, when Advent begins again. Each of these three cycles has a great feast—Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
The Church year, also called the ecclesiastical year or the liturgical year, is a most beautiful thing. You Should simply live the Church year. That is a reason why we have it. You should study the life of Christ, meditate on the life of Christ, imitate the life of Christ, and make it your own as Holy Church places it before you in her joyful, sorrowful, and glorious seasons.
As I have just said, Christmastide is over on Septuagesima Sunday. With that Sunday the Easter cycle begins. We prepare for Easter Sunday by the season of Lent; but before Lent begins we have a pre-Lenten season, a sort of a preparation for Lent itself, you know. We have the Sundays known as Septuagesima, which means "seventieth," Sexagesima, which means "sixtieth," and Quinquagesima, which means "fiftieth." you see, the early Christians did not everywhere observe the same season of penance. Some began on the seventieth, some on the sixtieth, some on the fiftieth day before Easter. But usually some days were left out each week so that, counting them out, one would find that it was a forty days' fast, as we have it now and have had since Pope Gregory the Great, about the year 600, made the season of Lent uniform for the whole Church.
But the old names remain, and the Easter cycle begins with Septuagesima Sunday, and the services held are like those of Lent: the purple vestments, signifying penance; no Gloria, the angels song of joy; no joyful Alleluia; psalms of penance and petition for mercy. Everything shows that the Church has entered upon a time of sorrow for sin.
Let me tell you what these three Sundays should mean for us. They should mean a preparation for Lent So the Church, through the Gospels of these three Sundays, gives us a solemn lesson and a serious warning. I want each one of you to listen attentively to those Gospels when they are read (and to read them yourselves at home) and to apply them to your lives.
The Gospel on Septuagesima Sunday tells about the workers in the vineyard. The lesson it teaches is this: Labor for God! Through the grace and mercy of God you were sent into the vineyard of the Lord, into the Catholic Church; by Baptism you were made a child of Holy Church, a child of God. Hence you must always use your time well, in working for God—for the salvation of your soul and the souls of others. Otherwise you will appear before your Lord and Master at the hour of death with empty hands, and He will have to say to you: "Away from Me, you lazy child! Out into exterior darkness!" How terrible that would be! you must work and never grow tired. But what must you do there? Why, you must purify your heart and make it ever more holy and pleasing to God by prayer and piety and goodness—that's what! Each heart should be a little heaven where the love and grace of God ever dwells, watched over by an angel—your guardian angel. Yes; that's what you must do.
One week later, on Sexagesima Sunday, we hear the Gospel that contains the beautiful parable about the sower. Listen attentively again: "The sower went out to sow his seed. Some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock . . . and withered away. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns . . . choked it. And other some fell upon good ground, and . . • yielded fruit a hundredfold." And the lesson is this: Listen to God! You young people hear many good lessons in Church, in school, at home from your parents. Remember them and put them into practice. Look out for the wayside (evil people) and the fowls (the devil and his bad angels) and the rock (hard and frivolous hearts) and the thorns (cold and indifferent hearts). No; always receive such words with a glad and willing heart—a heart that is good and fertile soil and will bring forth fruit a hundredfold. Thus the Church admonishes you to prepare your heart for holy Lent.
Then comes the Gospel of the third Sunday, Quinquagesima. In it Jesus foretells His sufferings. Listen attentively once again:
"Behold," He says to His Apostles, "we go up to Jerusalem and . . . the Son of Man . . . shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon. They will put him to death; and the third day He shall rise again." And this is the lesson Holy Church teaches: Think of the Savior's sufferings and death!
So here we have the spirit of the pre-Lenten season; Work for God! Listen to God! Think of the Savior's sufferings and death! How strange that some forget all about this sacred time of preparation for Lent and even go out to have a good time just before Ash Wednesday! Such a pastime is a pagan pastime and I warn all boys and girls to keep away from any such practice. Stay at home and pray.
Then comes Ash Wednesday. With it begins Lent itself, the solemn forty days' fast. During this time all true children of Holy Church give up even lawful pleasures, that they may give thought to serious things. Yes; Lent is a serious time; we see that from its opening day, Ash Wednesday. Just go to church. You see the altar, without flowers, in penitential color. You see the priest come out to bless ashes that were made by burning palms used on the last Palm Sunday, which recalls the first Palm Sunday when all was joy, to remind us that the joy and beauty of the world pass away—even our very lives. He prays that God may forgive us our sins; that He may preserve us from all evil of body and soul; that He may give the spirit of penance to all those upon whom the ashes are sprinkled. After the blessing, the priest makes a sign of the cross with the ashes on each forehead, at the same time saying the solemn words: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return !"
Death and penance! Such is the keynote of the holy season of Lent. Think of death. St. Augustine says,
"Death is a good teacher for life." All must die—also you. And you know not When nor where nor how. And here is what St. Augustine means: Live a pure and holy life. Then you need not be afraid of death. You can let him stay with you and teach you salutary lessons of goodness. He will drive bad thoughts away, bad habits, bad companions, a proud manner, disobedience and disrespect for parents, cursing, lying, stealing, everything sinful.
And penance! But of this I must speak later on, as my chat this time is getting rather long. I'll just mention one kind of penance, however. Practice self denial by staying away from all shows, movies, parties, etc. Practice it by abstaining from sweets and delicacies.
And give all the money you thus save—and more besides—to some great good work for the salvation of souls—the missions, for instance.
Look for the next chapter from this book, "How Much Penance Must Each One Do," in our March issue of the St. Catherine's Academy Gazette.
Source: Talks to Boys and Girls, Imprimatur 1931
IT is A GOOD THING to realize that in order to be saints we have only to be what God made us to be, and to do what God made us to do. If we are clever, then to be clever; if we are not clever, then not to be clever; if we are successful, then to be successful; if not successful, then not to succeed; if in good health, then to be healthy; if sickly, then to be sickly, and so on.
Perfect simplicity with regard to ourselves; contentment with everything that comes our way; perfect peace of mind in utter self-forgetfulness. This becomes easier the more we realize the utter greatness and goodness and allness of God. Then we realize our own utter insignificance and worthlessness and nothingness; a mere squeak of a mouse in the infinity of God. If we see the whole, we shall easily despise the trifles; if we
lose ourselves in God, how puny the rest appears!
This is the cure for making too much of little things, whether they go right or whether they go wrong, which is the cause of all our loss of peace of mind. This is the real test of sanctity, that simplicity of trust in God which is the perfection of human nature. In the end, when life is done and all is over, such a soul is found more precious than one which has shone in many deeds.
Therefore we should:
First, make a great deal of God, forgetting, if we can, at times everything else in His presence.
Secondly, make nothing at all of ourselves, whether we are clever or whether we are not, whether we are loved or Whether we are not, whether we succeed or whether we do not, whether we get what we desire or whether we do not.
In the midst of all, we can rejoice
(a) that we are what He has made us;
(b) that those things happen which He wants to happen;
(c) that if all the world were to collapse and the very heavens were to fall, there would still be the great, living, loving God.
So, if we want to be saints, we will:
1. Sit still often in the presence of God, lost in acts of faith and love and hope, in acts of praise and adoration and thanksgiving.
2. When the thought of ourselves with our own petty worries creeps in, sit still again in His presence, with acts of humility, contrition, and oblation, telling Him how small we are, how sorry we are for ourselves, how we would like to be and do better.
3. When the human heart is hungry, as at times it must be, come again to the feet of God, and fill it with acts of longing for Him and His love and His glory rather than with the little husks of self-satisfaction; fill it with acts of rejoicing in Him and in His tremendous almightiness, such that nothing in the world really matters at all.
Pray like this, and we shall lay that foundation on which sanctity is built. Live like this, and sanctity will build itself. Die like this, and we shall be "good and faithful servants."
By Archbishop Goodier, S.J.
We would like to share with you a coloring book that we put together to honor the Blessed Virgin. It is a collection of the coloring pictures we have done of the Blessed Mother through the years. Most of them were used last May when we honored her with a daily blog post. Now they are under one cover for your convenience. Please feel free to print them to use with your own families. You can find the file on our download page under coloring pictures. We hope you enjoy it.
"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!"
Devotion to Mary is not one of the four marks designating Christ's Church, but it is an almost certain indication of Catholicity. One cannot be a true member of the Church without loving her who gave us Christ, in His human form, so that we who are human could follow Him. So it is that from the dawn of Christianity, Mary has been the mother of us all, and we as her children make every effort to remind her that we belong to her.
It would be virtually impossible to list all the feasts of Our Lady throughout the world: there are so many that they would very likely fill up a year's calendar by themselves.
Through the centuries people of all lands have vied with one another to do honor to the Mother of God in establishing feasts and pilgrimages. In countless tiny villages are shrines recalling an apparition of Our Lady of perhaps many centuries ago; tradition has grown up locally regarding a treasured visit of the Queen of Heaven to some poor child or peasant workman. Even today in the midst of war, reports are sent in from this part of the world or that, telling of what is thought to have been a visit of Our Lady. We know that she loves us and that through the weary years she has appeared from time to time to encourage her children. But it takes a long time to have such an apparition authenticated, as the long process of Lourdes has demonstrated in modern times. Many such shrines remain authorized only for local devotion and so are never recorded for universal veneration. Consequently such local or national feasts are listed only in the country in which they are authorized, and only the main feasts of universal observance are commonly seen in the missal.
Two of Our Lady's feasts, the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) and the Assumption (August 15th) are Holy days of Obligations in the United States.
Certain religious congregations keep with special solemnity the feasts of Mary which give them their name— that of the Visitation and the Presentation, for example. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is especially dear to the Carmelites, the feast of the Most Holy Rosary to the Dominicans. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is especially celebrated in Mexico. It would seem that among the great variety of feasts and titles with which the calendar is jewelled, there is one to suit every Catholic, of whatever walk of life.
With regard only to type of feast, and not to its classification as to liturgical rank, the first group of feasts of Our Lady have to do with events in her life. The principal ones of these are:
The Immaculate Conception: December 8
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: September 8
The Holy Name of Mary: September 12
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: November 21
The Espousals: January 23
The Annunciation: March 2$
The Visitation: July 2
Expectation of Our Lady: December 18
Maternity of Our Lady: October 11
The Purification: February 2
The Flight into Egypt: February 17
Feast of the Holy Family: Sunday within the Octave of
Our Lady of Sorrows: September 15
Feast of the Seven Dolours: Friday in Passion Week
The Assumption: August 15
Time after time has Our Lady, good Mother that she is, appeared on earth to encourage her children, or to give some favored one a task to perform or a message to carry to the world. Some of these visits were very long ago, like the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar at Saragossa in Apostolic times; some were recent, like those of Lourdes and La Salette. Feasts commemorating such an appearance or a message from Our Lady are those of:
Our Lady of Mount Carmel: July 16
Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12
Our Lady of Lourdes: February 11
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal: November 27
Our Lady of the Snows: August 5.
Similar to these are the feasts which were established in gratitude for the great victories over the infidels won by the power of the Rosary:
The Feast of the Most Holy Rosary: October 7 (kept in Dominican churches on the First Sunday of October)
Our Lady of Victory: October 2
Our Lady Help of Christians: May 24. ^
Of the many pictures and statues around which tradition has thrown the cloak of Our Lady's blessing there are three which have been recognized, through miracles and through continued devotion, to have been specially privileged. The feasts are kept as follows:
Our Lady of Perpetual Help: June 27
Our Lady of Good Counsel: April 26
Our Lady of the Way: May 24.
The messages given to various favored children by Our Lady on these occasions have had to do with the increasing of devotion to her and to her Divine Son, by many means.
When she appeared to a nobleman and his wife on an August day in the fourth century, it was to trace out in a miraculous fall of snow the outlines of a church she wanted to be built.
When she appeared on Mount Carmel, it was to give to the world the wonderful promises of the brown scapular which today is worn by so many thousands of her grateful children.
To Sister Catherine Laboure she described the medal we now know as the Miraculous Medal, worn and loved by nearly every Catholic today.
Saint Dominic and Saint Bernadette she sent to promote the Rosary, the one by preaching it, the others by establishing a place of pilgrimage and promoting a spirit of penance.
A frightened Indian in the mountains of Mexico heard her tell him to go to the archbishop and have him build a church in her honor; and to show him that she meant it, she stamped her image on the rough cloth of his mantle.
Hundreds of legends tell us of other commissions she gave—of how she dowered Saint Albert the Great with his science, or sat beside an artist at work, handing him the colors he should use, or sang for a devout client the melodies heard only in heaven. Not all of her visits have been official ones; mothers do not always stand on ceremony with their children.
Established for some particular religious order or diocese, and not all of universal observance, are many dearly loved feasts of the Queen of heaven. Some of these are:
Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence: Saturday before the Third Sunday of November
Our Lady, Mother of Mercy: Saturday before the last Sunday of July
Our Lady of Suffrage: Saturday after All Saints Day
Our Lady of Consolation: Saturday after August 28
The Joys of Our Lady: Monday after Low Sunday
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners: Saturday before the Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces: May 31
Our Lady, Help of Those in Their Death Agony: Last Saturday in July
Our Lady, Mother of the Good Shepherd: September 3
Our Lady, Queen of All Saints and Mother of Fair Love: May 31
Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles: Saturday within the Octave of the Ascension
Our Lady, Health of the Sick; Saturday before the Last Sunday of August
Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners: August 13
Our Lady of Grace: June 9
Humility of Our Lady: May 12 or July 17
Translation of the Holy House of Loreto: December 10
Most Pure Heart of Mary: Saturday after the Octave of Corpus Christi
Purity of Our Lady: October 16
Patronage of Our Lady: a Day in October or November
Miracles of Our Lady: July 9
Our Lady of Ransom: September 24
Our Lady Queen of Peace: July 9.
Saturday has been kept as a day of special devotion to Our Lady from at least as far back as the twelfth century. Many people show their devotion on this day by attendance at Mass and Communion, by some act of self-denial in the way of food or amusements, or by saying the Litany of Loreto or some other prayers. Very often when a priest has choice of a Mass on Saturday, he says one of the several Votive Masses in honor of Our Lady. Besides the special feasts and the dedication of Saturday, two months—May and October—are designated for devotions to Mary. During these months evening devotions are held in some parishes; the Rosary is said in common; classrooms and homes show their love in an artistic way by erecting small altars of blue and white, by processions and hymns.
An ancient devotion now little employed except by religious is the recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was a time when every devout layman (and some who did not pretend to be devout in the least) said daily the Divine Office, as a matter of course. The world moves faster now: only clerics and some few religious orders say the Divine Office. But many, both religious and a growing number of the laity, recite daily or frequently the Little Office of Our Lady. Other shorter forms of prayer—the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception is an instance— are frequently recited either by groups or by individuals as a way of fostering and showing devotion to Mary.
Highly indulgenced and repeatedly recommended to the faithful by many illustrious popes is the devotion of the Rosary. Said privately or publicly, it is rich in spiritual rewards. The custom of saying the family Rosary, once the natural thing in a Catholic home, has unhappily declined. A revival of this devotion would do much to bring blessings on the home, on the individuals, and on the country.
One of the common means of devotion to Mary is to use her name as a part of one's own. For this reason many religious communities follow the practice of making "Mary" a part of every sister's name. There are hundreds of variations of Our Lady's name, in all languages. Some of the most common are: Marie, Marietta, Marita, Marilyn, Moira, Maura, Maureen, Miriam, Marian, Mary anna, and May, from Mary; Virginia, Dolores, Grace, Estelle, Alma, Lillian, and many others, which are adapted from Our Lady's titles.
In medieval times not only Our Lady's faithful children, but even the flowers and shrubs, were named for her. It must have been delightful to walk down a garden path and greet the flowers as "Our Lady's Thimble" or "Our Lady's Lace" or "Our Lady's Eyes," or to recall the lovely legends of why the aspen trembled or where the mistletoe got its berries. Today we have ponderous Latin names for everything that grows, and people have forgotten, amid the whirl of factory wheels, that there ever was a time when the world was Our Lady's garden.
Devotion to Our Lady is the least common denominator under which all human sanctity is measured; it would be impossible to find a saint who was not devotedto her. However, some saints more than others have promoted devotion to her. Saint Bernard, whose prayer "Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary . . . " has been the solace of many a dark hour, was known both during his lifetime and after his death as a tireless singer of Our Lady's praises. Saint Thomas Aquinas, great theologian and doctor of the Church, tried out his quill pens by inscribing on the borders of his manuscripts "Ave Maria," showing that she was always present in his thoughts. Bonaventure, Dominic, Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Stanislaus Kostka, and Louis de Montfort are names that always bring to mind devotion to Mary.
Religious orders and congregations carry on a pious rivalry in doing honor to the Mother of God. Many orders were founded under her inspiration; many of them have felt tangibly her protection through the years. The Seven Holy Founders of the Servites were in her special charge; the Carmelites owed to her the design of their habit, as did also the Dominicans; the Redemptorists treasure and promote devotion to her picture under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help; the Jesuits, in the sodality movement, bring thousands of young souls under her protection. Indeed it is reckless to begin naming even the most ancient orders which showed great devotion to her, because immediately all others would point out truthfully that every religious must be, as well as a spouse of Christ, a child of Mary.
But it is not to religious only that Mary's love was promised on that dark afternoon on Calvary. She is Mother to all of us, and to us all is given the tremendous privilege of calling on her for help in this valley of tears. "Let us go with confidence to the throne of Grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid ...I have lifted up mine eyes to the mountains whence help shall come to me."
Source: Our Lady's Feasts, Imprimatur 1945
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
[For the Introit of this day see the Introit in the Mass of the third Sunday after Epiphany]
On this Sunday mention is made of the practice of Christian virtues, and of God's sufferance of the wicked upon earth, that by them the just may be exercised in patience.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy household by Thy continual mercy; that as it leans only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, so it may ever be defended by Thy protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
EPISTLE. (Col. iii. 12 17.) BRETHREN, put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another; even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things, have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things, do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Why does St. Paul call charity the bond of perfection?
Because charity comprises in itself and links all the virtues in which perfection consists. For whoever truly loves God and his neighbor, is also good, merciful, humble, modest, patiently bears the weakness of his neighbor, willingly forgives offences, in a word, practices all virtues for the sake of charity.
When does the peace of God rejoice in our hearts?
When we have learned to conquer our evil inclinations, passions, and desires, and have placed order and quiet in our hearts instead. This peace then, like a queen, keeps all the wishes of the soul in harmony, and causes us to enjoy constant peace with our neighbor, and thus serve Christ in concord, as the members of one body serve the head. The best means of preserving this peace are earnest attention to the word of God, mutual imparting of pious exhortations and admonitions, and by singing hymns, psalms and spiritual canticles.
Why should we do all in the name of Jesus?
Because only then can our works have real worth in the sight of God, and be pleasing to Him, when they are performed for love of Jesus, in His honor, in accordance with His spirit and will. Therefore the apostle admonishes us to do all things, eat, drink, sleep, work &c. in the name of Jesus, and so honor God, the Heavenly Father, and show our gratitude to Him. Oh, how grieved will they be on their death-bed who have neglected to offer God their daily work by a good intention, then they will see, when too late, how deficient they are in meritorious deeds. On the contrary they will rejoice whose consciences testify, that in all their actions they had in view only the will and the honor of God! Would that this might be taken to heart especially by those who have to earn their bread with difficulty and in distress, that they might always unite their hardships and trials with the sufferings and merits of Jesus, offering them to the Heavenly Father, and thus imitating Christ who had no other motive than the will and the glory of His Heavenly Father.
ASPIRATION. O God of love, of patience, and of mercy, turn our . hearts to the sincere love of our neighbor, and grant, that whatever we do in thoughts, words and actions, we may do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him render thanks to Thee.
ON CHURCH SINGING
"Admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God" (Col. iii. 1 6.)
THE custom of singing in the Church choir has its foundation as far back as the Old Testament, when, by the arrangement of David, Solomon, and Ezechias, the psalms and other sacred canticles were sung by the priests and Levites. This custom the Catholic Church has retained, according to the precepts of the apostles, (i. Cor. xiv. 26; Eph. v. 19.) and the example of Jesus who, after they had eaten the pasch, intoned a hymn of praise with His apostles, (Matt. xxvi. 30) that Christians on earth, like the angels and saints in heaven, (Apoc. v. 8. 9., xiv. 3.) who unceasingly sing His praises , might at certain hours of the day, at least, give praise and thanks to God. In the earliest ages of the Church, the Christians sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving during the holy Sacrifice and other devotional services , often continuing them throughout the whole night; in which case the choir-singers probably were bound to keep the singing in proper order and agreement.
In the course of time this custom of all the faithful present singing together ceased in many churches, and became confined to the choir, which was accompanied later by instruments in accordance with the words of David who calls to the praise of the Lord with trumpets, with timbrels, with pleasant psaltery and harps. (Ps. cl. 3. 4., Ixxx. 3. 4.) In many churches, where the faithful still sing in concert, if done with pure hearts and true devotion, it is as St. Basil says, "a heavenly occupation, a spiritual burnt offering; it enlightens the spirit, raises it towards heaven, leads man to communion with God, makes the soul rejoice, ends idle talk, puts away laughter, reminds us of the judgment, reconciles enemies. Where the singing of songs resounds from the contrite heart, there God with the angels is present."
GOSPEL. (Matt. xiii. 24 30.) AT THAT TIME, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came, and oversowed cockle among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the good man of the house coming, said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence, then, hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? And he said: No, lest perhaps, gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers : Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.
What is understood by the kingdom of heaven?
The Church of God, or the collection of all orthodox Christians on earth, destined for heaven.
What is meant by the good seed, and by the cockle?
The good seed, as Christ Himself says, (Matt. xiii. 38.) signifies the children of the kingdom, that is, the true Christians, the living members of the Church, who being converted by the word of God sown into their hearts become children of God, and bring forth the fruit of good works. The cockle means the children of iniquity, of the devil, that is, those who do evil; also every wrong, false doctrine which leads men to evil.
Who sows the good seed?
The good seed is sown by Jesus, the Son of Man not only directly, but through His apostles, and the priests, their successors; the evil seed is sown by the devil, or by wicked men whom he uses as his tools.
Who are the men who were asleep?
Those superiors in the Church, those bishops and pastors who take no care of their flock, and do not warn them against seduction , when the devil comes and by wicked men sows the cockle of erroneous doctrine and of crime; and those men who are careless and neglect to hear the word of God and the sacrifice of the Mass, who neglect to pray, and do not receive the Sacraments. In the souls of such the devil sows the seeds of bad thoughts, evil imaginations and desires, from which spring, later, the cockle of pride, impurity, anger, envy, avarice, &c.
Why does not God allow the cockle, that is, the wicked people, to be rooted out and destroyed?
Because of His patience and long suffering towards the sinner to whom He gives time for repentance, and because of His love for the just from whom He would not, by weeding out the unjust, take away the occasion of practicing virtue and gathering up merits for themselves; for because of the unjust, the just have numerous opportunities to exercise patience, humility, &c.
When is the time of the harvest?
The day of the last judgment when the reapers, that is, the angels, will go out and separate the wicked from the just, and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace, while the just will be taken into everlasting joy. (Matt. xiii. 29.)
PRAYER. O faithful Jesus, Thou great lover of our souls, who hast sown the good seed of Thy Divine Word in our hearts, grant that it may be productive, and bear in us fruit for eternal life; protect us from our evil enemy, that he may not sow his erroneous and false doctrine in our hearts, and corrupt the good; preserve us from the sleep of sin, and sloth that we may remain always vigilant and armed against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, overcome them manfully, and die a happy death. Amen.
ON INCLINATION TO EVIL
Whence then hath it cockle? (Matt. xiii. 27.)
Whence comes the inclination to evil in man?
IT is the sad consequence of original sin, that is, of that sin which our first parents, by their disobedience, committed in paradise, and which we as their descendants have inherited. This inclination to evil remains even in those who have been baptized, although original sin with its guilt and eternal punishment is taken away in baptism, but it is no sin so long as. man does not voluntarily yield. (Cat. Rom. Part. ii. 2. . 43.)
Why, the sin being removed, does the inclination remain?
To humble us that we may know our frailty and misery, and have recourse to God, our best and most powerful Father, as did St. Paul, when he was much annoyed by the devil of the flesh; (ii. Cor. xii. 7. 8.) that the glory of God and the power of Christ should be manifested in us, which except for our weakness could not be; that we might have occasion to fight and to conquer. A soldier cannot battle without opposition, nor win victory and the crewn without a contest. Nor can we win the heavenly crown, if no occasion is given us, by temptations, for fight and for victory. "That which tries the combatant," says St. Bernard, "crowns the conqueror." Finally, the inclination remains, that we may learn to endure, in all meekness, the faults and infirmities of others and to watch ourselves, lest we fall into the same temptations.
1st. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
A SERMON ON GRANDEUR OF DRESS
St. Francis of Sales, the Bishop of Geneva, came one Lent, while on a journey, to the church attached to a monastery of Capuchin friars, which was within his diocese. He happened to arrive just at sermon time; the preacher had taken ostentation in dress as the theme of his discourse and was inveighing vehemently against prelates and ecclesiastical dignitaries, who, instead of setting an example of humility, wore splendid garments and drove about in grand equipages. When the sermon was ended, the bishop went into the sacristy, and caused the preacher to be summoned to his presence. The monk was startled and not a little frightened when he saw the bishop standing before him. As soon as they were alone together, St. Francis said:
"Reverend Father,your discourse contained much that was edifying. It may also be true that we who are in authority in the Church are guilty of sins from which the inmates of the cloister are exempt. Nevertheless, I consider it highly unwise to say such things as you did on this subject from the pulpit, to the common people. More over, I wish to call your attention to the fact that for many reasons it is a matter of necessity that the princes of the Church should keep up an appearance befitting their rank. Besides, you never know what may be hidden beneath a silken robe." So saying St. Francis un- buttoned the upper part of his purple cassock, and let the monk see that he wore a ragged hair shirt next to his skin. "I show you this," he added, "that you may learn that humility is quite compatible with the rich dress of one's office. From henceforth see that you are less harsh in your judgments and more prudent in your speech." If the dignitaries of the Church were wretchedly dressed, they would lose the respect due both to themselves and to their office; they would be accused of miserliness and other faults. Therefore it is not only permissible, but obligatory upon them, to dress in accordance with the official rank they hold. What evilly disposed men choose to say must not be heeded.
Source: Anecdotes and Examples of the Catechism, Imprimatur 1908
A family of three — father, mother, and an only son — were rich and healthy and loved by friends. And yet there was disorder in that family. A heavy burden lay upon the heart of the pious mother. She brought up her son, Richard, very faithfully according to the teaching of the Catholic Church and sent him to a parochial school. But her husband was a fallen away Catholic. He never prayed, his language was wicked, he took to drinking, he never went to Holy Mass and the sacraments. When both the mother and son admonished him and pleaded with him, he answered coldly, "What difference does it make; when death comes, everything is over."
Richard fell sick. His father was deeply grieved to see the boy suffering. When the doctor told the father that he could do nothing to help his son, the father began to despair. Death was certain. Richard's father and mother stayed up with him day and night, but only the mother prayed, while Richard prayed for his father.
Finally, the dying boy turned to his father and said, "Daddy, I won't live long any more. Tell me, whom should I believe, you or mother?" That question pierced the father's heart. He could not look into the innocent eyes of his little son. He hid his face in his hands and wept. Then he bent over the boy, took his hand and pressed it to his heart and said, "Richard, my boy, believe your mother. Do what she taught you to do. She is right!"
Not long after Richard's death, his father made his peace with God and tried to make amends for the scandal he had given his own child. But Richard was not there to see it.
Scandal means any action, word, or omission, which can or do cause another to commit sin. Scandal is a mortal or venial sin according to the kind of sin into which one is led. If another is scandalize so that he commits a venial sin, the scandal giver is guilty of venial sin. If he is scandalized to the point of committing mortal sin, the scandal giver is guilty of mortal sin. Our Lord's words express how serious scandal really is: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!' (Mt. 18:6.) The father was a scandal to his son because through his bad example he could have caused his son to commit sin. Fortunately the good example of his mother saved Richard from this evil.
If my days were untroubled and my heart always light, would I seek that fair land where there is no night? . . . If I never grew weary with the weight of my load, would I search for God's Peace at the end of the road? . . . If I never knew sickness and never felt pain, would I reach for a hand to help and sustain?
If I walked not with sorrow and lived without loss, would my soul seek sweet solace at the foot of the cross? . . . If all I desired was mine day by day, would I kneel before God and earnestly pray? . . . If God sent no "Winter" to freeze me with fear, would I yearn for the warmth of "Spring" every year?
I ask myself this and the answer is plain; if my life were all pleasure and I never knew pain . . . I'd seek God less often and need Him much less, for God is sought more often in times of distress . . . And no one knows God or sees Him as plain as those who have met Him on the "Pathway of Pain."
[The Introit of the Mass as on the preceding Sunday.]
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so great perils, that because
of the frailty of our nature we cannot stand; grant to us health of mind and body, that those things which we suffer for our sins, we may by Thy aid overcome.
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord &c.
EPISTLE. (Romans xiii. 8 10.) BRETHREN, owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law.
What is meant by St. Paul's words: He that loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law?
ST. Augustine in reference to these words says: that he who loves his neighbor, fulfils as well the precepts of the first as of the second tablet of the law. The reason is, that the love of our neighbor contains and presupposes the love of God as its fountain and foundation. The neighbor must be loved on account of God; for the neighbor cannot be loved with true love, if we do not first love God. On this account, the holy Evangelist St. John in his old age, always gave the exhortation: Little children, love one another. And when asked why, he answered: Because it is the command of the Lord, and it is enough to fulfil it. Therefore in this love of the neighbor which comes from the love of God and is contained in it, consists the fulfilment of the whole law. (Matt. xxii. 40)
GOSPEL. (Matt. viii. 23 27.) AT THAT TIME, when Jesus entered into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but he was asleep. And they came to him and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them : Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?
Why did Christ sleep in the boat?
To test the faith and confidence of His disciples; to exercise them in enduring the persecutions which they were afterwards to endure; to teach us that we should not waver in the storms of temptations. St. Augustine writes: "Christ slept, and because of the danger the disciples were confused. Why? Because Christ slept. In like manner thy heart becomes confused, thy ship unquiet, when the waves of temptation break over it. Why? Because thy faith sleeps. Then thou shouldst awaken Christ in thy heart; then thy faith should be awakened, thy conscience quieted, thy ship calmed."
Why did Christ reproach His disciples when they awaked Him and asked for help?
Because of their little faith and trust; for if they firmly believed Him to be true God, they would necessarily believe He could aid them sleeping as well as waking. Nothing so displeases God as to doubt His powerful assistance. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh (mortal man) his arm (aid), and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. (Jerem. xvii. 5. 7.) God sometimes permits storms to assail us, such as poverty, persecution, sickness, so that we may have occasion to put our confidence in Him alone. Of this St. Bernard very beautifully says: "When the world rages, when the wicked become furious, when the flesh turns against the spirit, I will hope in Him. Who ever trusted in Him, and was put to shame?" We should therefore trust in God only, and takerefuge to Him, invoking Him as did the disciples: Lord, save us, we perish; or cry out with David: Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. (Ps. xliii. 23.)
Why did Jesus stand up and command the sea to be still?
To show His readiness to aid us, and His omnipotence to which all things are subject. His disciples who saw this miracle, wondered and said: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him? We see daily in all creatures the wonders of the omnipotence, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, yet we are not touched; we continue cold and indifferent. The reason is, that we look upon all with the eyes of the body and not with the eyes of the soul; that is, we do not seek to ascend by meditation to the Creator, and to judge from the manifold beauty and usefulness of created things the goodness and the wisdom of God. The saints rejoiced in all the works of the Lord; a flower, a little worm of the earth would move the heart of St. Francis of Sales, and St. Francis the Seraph, to wonderment and to the love of God; they ascended, as on a ladder, from the contemplation of creatures to Him who gives to every thing life, motion, and existence. If we were to follow their example, we would certainly love God more, and more ardently desire Him; if we do not, we live like irrational men, we who were created only to know and to love God.
ASPIRATION. Grant us, O good Jesus! in all our needs, a great confidence in Thy divine assistance, and do not allow us to become faint-hearted; let Thy assistance come to us in the many dangers to which we are exposed; command the turbulent winds and waves of persecution to be still, and give peace and calmness to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood, that we may serve Thee in sanctity and justice, and arrive safely at the desired haven of eternal happiness. Amen.
ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
But he was asleep. (Matt. viii. 24.)
IT is an article of faith in the holy Catholic Church that God has not only created the world, but that He sustains and governs it; this preservation and ruling of the whole world and of each individual creature is called Providence. There are people who think that God is too great a Lord to busy Himself about the care of this world, that to do so is beneath His majesty; it was enough for Him to create the world, for the rest, He leaves it to itself or to fate, enjoys His own happiness, and, as it were, sleeps in regard to us. Thus think some, but only the ignorant and impious. Were He as these imagine Him, He would not or could not have aught to do with creation. If He could not, then He is neither all-wise nor almighty, if He would not, then He is not good; and if He knows nothing of the world, then He is not omniscient.
If we once believe that God created the world, (and what rational man can doubt it?) then we must also believe He rules and sustains it. Can any work of art, however well constructed and arranged, subsist without some one to take charge of and watch over the same? Would not the greatest of all master-pieces, the world, therefore come to the greatest confusion and fall back into its original nothingness, if God, who created it from nothing, did not take care of its further order and existence? It is indeed true that the method of Divine Providence with which God controls all things is so mysterious that, when considering some events, one is persuaded to admit a necessary fate, an accident, the course of nature, the ill will of the devil or man, as the fundamental cause. Yet in all this the providence of God is not denied, for nothing does or can happen accidentally, not the smallest thing occurs without the knowledge, permission, or direction of God. Not one sparrow shall fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matt. x. 29. 30.) Chance, fate, and luck are but the ideas of insane or wicked men, which even the more rational heathens have rejected, and the course of nature is but the constant, uninterrupted, all-wise and bountiful preservation and government of creation through God. The perverted will of men or of the devil is but' the instrument which God in His all-wise intention, uses to effect the good, for He knows how to produce good from evil, and, therefore, as St. Augustine says, "permits the evil that the good may not be left undone." If we peruse the history of our first parents, of Abraham, of Joseph in Egypt, of Moses, of the people of Israel, of Job, Ruth, David, Tobias, Esther, Judith and others, we will easily see everywhere the plainest signs of the wisest Providence, the best and most careful, absolute power, by virtue of which God knows how to direct all things according to His desire, and for the good of His chosen ones. The gospel of this day furnishes us an instance of this? Why did Christ go into the boat? Why did a storm arise? Why was He asleep? Did all this occur by accident? No, it came about designedly by the ordinance of Christ that His omnipotence might be seen, and the faith and confidence of His disciples be strengthened. Thus it is certain that God foresees, directs, and governs all; as Scripture, reason, and daily experience prove. Would we but pay more attention, to many events of our lives, we would certainly notice the providence of God, and give ourselves up to His guidance and dispensations. The Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing, says David. (Ps.xxii. i.) And we also, we shall want nothing if we resign ourselves to God's will, and are contented with His dispensations in our regard; while, on the contrary, if we oppose His will, we shall fall into misfortune and error. God must rule over us with goodness, or with sternness. He is no slumbering God. Behold! He shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. (Ps. cxx. 4.)
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