You can find the calendar below or on our Catholic Calendar page.
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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I realize that the Lenten season isn't upon us but thought this was a good read. I am sharing with my children after dinner this evening. We can work on some of this in our house all year long.
''FATHER," said the Convert, rather earnestly, "do you know I sometimes feel a bit uneasy about this coming time of Lent? What can I do to keep it? I can't fast, you know; I tried it last Ember Days, and got a roaring headache. Yet it seems very odd to me for a Catholic to do no penance at all during the Church's penance-time." "Fasting from food isn't the only way of doing penance," said Father, with a twinkle in his eye. "You might guess that it was if you watched some of your fellow-parishioners, but it is not. Did it ever occur to you, for example, that one's soul can do a bit of fasting too?" "One's soul fast? What can you mean?" "Why, bodily fasting," answered Father, "is curbing the body's appetite for food. Now, hasn't your soul her appetites too? And can't you mortify them?" "How?" answered the Convert, with some eagerness. "Tell me how !"
"You need only think of some of the soul's appetites," answered Father, "and you'll readily catch what I mean. There's the appetite we all have for doing as we like, for instance. Our way is the only way. If we can't have it, we sulk and fret. Now, if we were to say to our self-will, when it wants its own way very badly: 'No! You can't have it this time. You must do some one else's will for a change. You must be accommodating, gentle, obliging. You must yield and give up your own desires,' isn't that curbing our soul's appetite? Isn't that making our self-will fast? And it won't give you a headache, either, do you think?" "Whew I I believe I'd rather fast from food," said the Convert, with deep conviction and sincerity. "No doubt you would. It's excellent penance, be sure, to make your self-will fast.
Then there's that other appetite of our soul, the desire of praise, esteem, good name. You might make that fast a bit, too, every now and then. Do some good deed and carefully avoid getting any credit for it whatever. Or keep silence when some one casts a harmless slur upon you, nettling, but insignificant. Don't answer, don't defend yourself. There's good penance in that I" "I should say there was I" agreed the Convert rapidly. "Then there's the tendency we all of us have to grow fussy, and cross and snappish—bad-tempered, in a word. A good strong outburst would relieve us. If we could only vent our impatience on somebody, or something, we'd feel relieved. But that's wrong; make your bad temper fast. Crush down the ugly mood. Hold back the angry word. There's penance for you, isn't it?" "Thank you. Father," said the Convert softly. "I have enough ways already to last me all through Lent."
"We haven't nearly exhausted the subject, though," said Father, his eyes twinkling brighter than ever. "There's being obliging. What a penance that is at times! Some one at home asks us to do them a little service. We straightway think of a good excuse. Away with it I Say : 'Yes, of course I will,' with a bright face and a cheery tone, and you have made your selfishness fast to good purpose, I can tell you. No headache, either, I think.
"Then there's almsgiving; that's another way of doing penance. That's making our greediness fast. You're well-to-do, let us say, but not rich. If you keep all you have, you have just enough to be comfortably off. But in comes some good cause, or some deserving fellow in hard luck, and asks you for aid. Say : 'Why, certainly I Here I It means a little inconvenience for me, but it may be life or death for you. Here's the money, and welcome!' Isn't there penance in that'?" "Penance and common sense too," said the Convert. "But how few of us see it that way. I always thought that I was excused from almsgiving, because I have always needed all that I had. Needed it for my comfort, I mean. But your point is good. It's a Christian way of looking at things. Mine was rather a pagan way, I'm afraid."
"Well, you see our life is full of ways of doing penance," went on Father, "which don't hold a single headache between them all. Even the Morning Offering, which you make every day, I hope"—the Convert nodded assent—"is a true act of penance, too, it only it is deep and sincere; because we naturally love to do things for our own self-love, for our own interests, our own good, our own comfort, our own pleasure, our own praise. Now, if we honestly say: 'Not for myself to-day, but for the sweet Heart of Jesus,' and say it honestly and earnestly, and mean it all the day long, there's a touch of penance, you see, even there." "Thanks, a thousand thanks," said the Convert, holding out his hand. "You've opened my eyes. If I have the nerve to do as I mean to do now, I believe I shall perform some downright good penance before the end of this Lent. But I see it takes nerve. To fast, after all, is largely a question of mealtime. But this sort of penance will keep one's will-power in action pretty well through the whole day."
"Don't think for a moment, though, that I mean to decry fasting as a means of doing penance,'' said Father, as his visitor rose to depart. "Fasting is the official penance which the Church has chosen for her children, and it is sanctioned and made holy by Our Lord's long fasting, and by the faithful
practice of all the saints. It has a double merit, too, because it is also a work of obedience. But if a man can't fast from food, I think you realize now that it is simply foolish for him to say, 'I'm free.' There are a hundred appetites within him besides his hunger for food, and he can always make some of these fast to good purpose, indeed."
"Well—if everybody would fast, as you say, from all his unpleasant appetites and ugly inclinations," said the Convert heartily, "what a pleasant sort of perpetual Eastertime this life would soon get to be!"
Source: "Your Neighbor and You" by Father Garesche, Imprimatur 1918
I. HUMAN RESPECT is a COWARDLY AND DISGRACEFUL SLAVERY
Man naturally loves liberty and detests slavery as a shameful yoke. It is natural that the employee should obey his employer ; the soldier, his officer ; the sailor, his captain; the child, his parents; the pupil, his teacher; for in these cases the yoke is honorable. It was also honorable for Regulus, the Roman general, to return to Carthage, there to endure painful captivity and death, for his country's sake. (But there is no slavery more base and dis graceful than that of a man who regulates his religion, his conduct according to another man's caprice ; who inwardly approves what is right, but has not the courage to do it; who condemns in his heart what is evil, and yet does it, because others also do it; who clearly sees his duty, but dares not perform it, lest he thereby displease his boon companions or does not meet the approval of those whose favor he seeks.
Where can so despicable a slave be found? Not among Mohammedans or Jews, but among Catholics! Some of these are perhaps now listening to me. "We may, indeed," says St. Augustine, "conform to the world in certain matters, in certain things and customs that do not interfere with duty; but in the matters that concern our duties towards God, His holy Church, our soul, our salvation, our eternity, he conforms to the world and its spirit condemned by Jesus Christ, who allows himself to be enslaved by its laws and maxims, which are in direct opposition to the Gospel, shows himself, not a freeman, but a mean cowardly slave." This is true more especially as to those who, through the merits and sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, have been baptized and made children of God, and "admitted into the liberty of the glory of the children of God"(Rom. 8. 21).
Man's liberty is an inalienable right and privilege which God Himself, the sovereign Lord of the universe, respects and will never infringe. He, indeed, wishes and commands us to serve Him, but does not compel us to do so, for He wishes us to do so freely. He wishes us to go to heaven, but freely. Our freedom is but a participation of his own, for we are His image. He who is influenced and led by human respect, debases and disgraces in himself the image of God's freedom by shamefully subjecting himself to the views and caprice of his fellow-men. And who are those persons whose disapproval you so greatly dread? Like yourself, they are as a mere nothing, formed of dust, a leaf tossed about by the wind, liable to vanish like a shadow, to wither like grass; they shall, sooner or later, die and become the food of worms ! More over, consider the lack of moral worth of the persons you strive to please and to gain their approval, and so greatly dread to displease. In themselves they have no moral worth, but are vain and contemptible, undeserving of esteem and confidence; their views and advice in important worldly matters you consider to be without value! But when there is question of your holy religion and its obligations, of your eternal salvation, you dread their disapproving looks, their rude and senseless raillery! To stand well in the estimation of such mean and contemptible men you betray your conscience, you offend God, to whom you owe all that you are and have, you scandalize your neighbor, you forfeit your salvation! Why should you strive so hard to please such individuals? What have they ever done for you? Have they, like Jesus Christ our Saviour, ever shed their blood and died for you? Will those persons you so greatly exert yourself to please, whose censure you dread so much, keep you from being condemned to hell or rescue you therefrom, after your condemnation ? And when you thus yield to their views and strive to please them in all things, do you thereby gain their love, their esteem? By no means; no matter what they may say to you, they, in their hearts despise you as a mean, base and abject man, devoid of principle and courage! Everybody, even the wicked themselves, cannot refrain from loving and esteeming virtue in those who have the courage, the manliness to act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, and they despise, spurn and mistrust, in their inmost hearts, all those who yield to human respect!
It is related of the emperor Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine the Great, that he one day called together the members of his court and the officers of his army who were Christians, and commanded them, under pain of being dismissed from his service and severely punished, to
offer sacrifice to the pagan deities. Some of them apostatized ; the others remained firm in their faith. Constantius rewarded these latter, but dismissed the former from his service, saying that he could place no trust in those who, for a worldly consideration, were untrue to God. In fact, experience shows that he who is faithless to God, to his religious duties is undeserving of confidence, for he is always the mean slave of as many masters, or tyrants, as there are persons whose criticism and raillery he dreads, or whose approval he seeks. "He who endeavors to shake off God s sweet yoke," says St. John Chrysostom, "puts on other yokes which are both degrading
We should imitate St. Paul's greatness of soul. He cared not for human opinions or esteem, for he said : "To me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man's day" (i Cor. 4. 3). He was not ashamed to do his duty before men : "I am not ashamed of the Gospel" (Rom. i. 1 6). In like manner, we should not be ashamed of going to Mass, of observing the abstinence on the days prescribed, of going to confession, of sending our children to a good Catholic school, of decorating our home with holy pictures, of staying away from dangerous amusements, in a word, of leading the life of a good Catholic. Why should we dread the criticism, the raillery of men whose views are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who are unworthy of our esteem, of our confidence? Why should we be ashamed of leading a good Christian life, of performing our duty, and be afraid of being laughed at by individuals whose conduct is a disgrace to true manhood? Let us not do as they "who said to God : Depart from us, and looked upon the Almighty as if He were powerless " (Job 22. 17). Let us heed the admonition of our divine Saviour : "Fear ye not them that can kill the body and are not able to kill the soul ; but rather fear Him, that can destroy both soul and body into hell" (Mat. 10. 28).
Of what advantage is it for you to enjoy the favor of worldlings? Is it not better to seek the esteem of the virtuous? Of the saints and angels? Of God Himself? " It is of little consequence," says St. Augustine, "if men do not praise me, provided God does ; if men blame me, provided God does not. Think what you like of Augustine, provided my conscience does not accuse me before God." "Since God is to be my judge," says St. Jerome, "I fear not the judgment of men." If you wish to be a slave, be God's slave; keep His commandments, shun sin; be the slave of Jesus Christ, who loved and delivered Himself to the most cruel and shameful death to save you and procure you endless happiness. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2. 5), "who, takingthe form of a servant, . . . humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death (for us), unto the death of the cross " (Phil. 2. 7, 8). Let us be firmly persuaded that we cannot please and serve both the world and God." If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. I. 10).
II. HUMAN RESPECT is an IGNOBLE APOSTACY
It is the sacred duty of every true Christian to give to God absolute preference over every creature and, for God's sake, to be ready to sacrifice at once every temporal interest, every human friendship, when these clash with his duty towards his Creator. The Catholic who is swayed by human respect, deliberates between God and a certain individual ; he places in the scales God and this individual, and he prefers the individual to God Himself ! Like the Jews, he cries out : "Not Jesus, but Barabbas !" He prefers his temporal interests, his pleasures, the gratification- of his base passions, his boon companions to his Creator, to the Lord of heaven and earth, to his greatest Benefactor, to his best Friend, to his most loving Father! He calls himself a Christian, a Catholic, pretends to believe in and serve God, and dreads only a wretched man's displeasure or raillery; he pretends to worship God, and yet he dreads a wicked, unprincipled, contemptible man more than God Himself! He is less afraid of committing sin, of losing his soul, of being cast into hell for all eternity, than of forfeiting some worldly interest, or of being ridiculed by those whose opinions and sayings he should despise! Is not such a criminal preference a practical apostacy in one who calls himself a Christian, a Catholic?
We can understand the motive that induces a soldier to desert to the enemy, that urges a son, a daughter to forsake the paternal mansion. But that a Catholic should betray His God, his Church, his soul to the world on account of the censure of an ignoble man or set of men, is practically nothing less than an infamous apostacy ! God is your greatest Benefactor. What more could He do for you that He has not done, either in the order of nature, or in the order of grace? God created you in preference to numberless other men He could have created, had He so wished. He gave you your life, your body, its five senses and their use, and an immortal soul with its faculties. He has given you health and strength, as well as countless other benefits. He watches over you with truly paternal care, preserves you from many dangers, and makes all creatures, both animate and inanimate, your servants. "And if these things be little, I will add far greater things unto thee "
(2 Kings 12. 8). In the order of Grace He has done far greater things for you. For your sake "God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up" to insults, torments, and death (Rom. 8. 32). For you God the Son" emptied Himself," assuming our human nature, "taking the form of a slave." For you He was born in humility, poverty and suffering; for you He led a life of obscurity, toil and hardship; -and, finally, after a laborious ministry beset with constant opposition and persecution, He died a most infamous death on the cross, after under going in His body the most excruciating torments, enduring inconceivable sorrow in His soul, and forfeiting His honor by being reckoned as an impostor and numbered among the vilest criminals. For your benefit Jesus instituted His Church and her sacraments, those inexhaustible fountains of grace and salvation, which apply His merits to the souls of men, purify and beautify them, and render them worthy of eternal glory.
"And if these things be little, I shall add far greater things unto thee." Not content with doing all this for you, God called you to the true faith by baptism; through His loving dispensation, you were educated by your good parents in the knowledge and practice of your faith, and removed from evil influences; you have been many a time cleansed from your sins in the sacrament of penance in the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, and made partakers of the Bread of Angels in the Holy Eucharist. Truly God "hath not done in like manner to every nation" (Ps. 147. 9). Verily it is easier to count the grains of sand on the sea-shore and the drops of water in the ocean, than the benefits He has lavished on you. He has, moreover, designed to confer on you still greater favors in heaven, where He has reserved for those who love and serve Him faithfully a perfect and endless reward, saying to you as to Abraham : "I am thy reward exceedingly great" (Gen. 15. i). What more could God do for you? But what does he say, who yields to human respect? "O God, I know all this; but I rather give Thee up; I give up the honorable and inappreciable privilege of being Thy child. I prefer to belong to the world. I rather please such and such companions than to obey Thee." He then cries out : "Not this one, but Barabbas ! "Be astonished at this, ye heavens ! My people have done two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and have dug to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. . . . Pass over to the isles of Cathin, and see; and send into Cedar, and consider diligently, and see if there hath been anything like this"
( Jer. 2. 12, 13, 10). You now, as it were, put Jesus Christ to shame, by turning your back on Him ; but soon you shall hear from His lips these terrible words : "You have been ashamed of Me and of My words, and I will be ashamed of you, and I will disown you, when I come in my Majesty as your Judge" (Luke 9. 26).
On the other hand, how admirable was the conduct of Tobias ! "When all went to the golden calves which Jeroboam, king of Israel, had made, Tobias alone fled the company of all and went to Jerusalem" (Tob. I. 5, 6). How admirable also was the conduct of the Israelites in Egypt. Anxious to escape the danger of falling there into idolatry through human respect, they said : "Let us go (into the desert) and sacrifice to our God"(Exod. 5. 8). How edifying the conduct of the early Christians in overcoming human respect! Rather than yield to human respect, they shunned all unnecessary intercourse with pagans and heretics, and were ready to undergo confiscation,imprisonment, torments and death, rather than yield to human respect! And those who had had the misfortune to apostatize, in order to escape the loss of their goods and fearful torments and a cruel death, or who, only when overcome by torments, had apostatized, were all subjected to long and rigorous penances before being re-admitted into the Church and to holy Communion ! And you, with out being exposed to torments or to any real danger or serious disadvantage, are so weak as to apostatize practically, in order to please men who are undeserving of esteem and confidence, men who are the agents of Satan!
III. HUMAN RESPECT, A MOST DISASTROUS PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH.
The terrible persecutions waged against the Church during the first three centuries of her existence made many millions of martyrs ; but their blood was the seed of Christians, for their number increased with the number of martyrs, whose bodies alone suffered. The Church had, and has still, reason to rejoice over the great number of her martyrs ; she honors these heroic defenders of the faith by celebrating their feasts, their praises ; by erecting churches and altars in their honor, venerating their relics and proposing their examples and virtues to our imitation. But human respect, on the contrary, is the worst of her persecutors and robs the Church of numberless children and precipitates them into the endless torments of the infernal abyss.
Human respect attacks the souls of men, corrupts their morals, weakens and even destroys the faith of its victims, drags them into hell, and thus renders vain the blood and death of Jesus Christ and the ministrations of His Church. Human respect causes the very children of the Church to wage a relentless war on her ! Although the Church does not undergo a bloody persecution thereby, she has every reason to utter these complaints : "Behold in peace is my bitterness most bitter" (Is. 38. 17). "Who will give water to my head and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the (spiritually) slain of the daughter of my people" (Jer. 9. i). Human respect is the accursed murderer of the souls of so many Catholics ! Hence St. Augustine indignantly exclaims : "Woe to thee, O stream of human custom (respect), how long wilt thou toss about the children of Eve in the great and dangerous sea ?"
St. Peter became a victim of human respect, for not withstanding his ardent love of Jesus and his firm resolution to die with Him, he nevertheless, swayed by human respect and the fear of the company he was in, shamefully denied Him. Pontius Pilate several times emphatically acknowledged the innocence of Jesus, and even did so whilst condemning Him to die on the cross; but he had not the courage to displease the Jewish rabble and despise the danger of incurring Cesar s displeasure. Incalculable is the immense multitude of the victims of human respect on account of the weakening and loss of the faith, the neglect of keeping the commandments of God and of the Church, the loss of innocence through bad company, profane and dangerous amusements, conniving at dishonest practices, etc. The loss of faith results not from arguments alleged against it, but from human respect and yielding to one's passions. "What So and So will say" often causes the shipwreck of the best resolutions!
Human respect is the idol worshiped by many Catholics. It is a dishonorable, contemptible and disgraceful yoke and slavery which the world imposes on its votaries. He who yields to it, is ashamed of Jesus Christ and practically denies Him. Of him Jesus Christ says : "He that shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him the Son of man shall be ashamed, when He shall come in His majesty to judge mankind (Luke 9. 26). Unless such a one sincerely repents and changes his life, he will surely forfeit his salvation. On the other hand, he who never yields to human respect, "he who is not ashamed of Jesus Christ," says Tertullian, "is certain of salvation." In fact, our divine Saviour says so Himself : "Every one that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father, who is in heaven" (Mat. 10. 32).
Source: Sermon Matter by Rev. FERREOL GIRARDEY, C.SS.R., Imprimatur 1915
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