Monthly Archives: January 2016

Sexagesima Sunday

 

Instruction for Sexagesima Sunday by Fr. Leonard Goffine:

In the Introit of this day’s Mass, the Church brings before us one who seeks to be loosed from his sins, and calls on God for help and assistance. Arise, why sleepest thou , O Lord? arise, and cast us not off to the end: why turnest thou thy face away, and forgettest our trouble? Our belly hath cleaved to the earth: arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us. O God, we have heard with our ears; our Fathers have declared to us. (Ps. XLIII. 23. 25.) Glory be to the Father, &c.

COLLECT O God, who seest that we trust not in aught we do; mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.

EPISTLE (II. Cor. XI. 19-33; to XII. 1-9,) Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise,) I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labor and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed); but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in, the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth): such an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth) : that he was caught up into paradise; and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should       exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For, which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Why is St. Paul mentioned in the Mass of this day, and why is this epistle read?

Because in Rome the Station or Church service is held on this day in the Church of St. Paul and because the Church continues to encourage us to work according to the example given by St. Paul who, with the grace of God, accomplished and suffered so much; also because we should labor for the honor of God and the salvation of our souls and faithfully cooperate with the grace of God.

Why, an the beginning of this epistle, does St. Paul say so much an his own praise?

Not out of ambition for honor and glory, but to honor God, and for the love and advantage of the Corinthians, who allowed themselves to be deceived by mercenary impostors and false prophets; that he might make public the craftiness of those deceivers who assumed the appearance of the true apostles, as Satan took the form of a good angel. To shame these, and to remove the obstacles they had placed in the way of the gospel, St. Paul was obliged to reveal to the Corinthians the things he had performed and endured in propagating the holy gospel. -By trials and sufferings is the true apostle known; the false apostles, the hirelings, as Christ calls them, only care for their own bodies, for temporal advantages, not for the salvation of souls. We see this exemplified in our days by the heretical missionaries who, when there is suffering, when there is martyrdom, take to flight, for their eyes are directed only to the present life and a large income, while the Catholic missionaries rejoice if, for Christ’s sake, and for the salvation of souls, they are permitted to suffer, and made worthy to endure the cruel death of the martyr.

Of whom does St. Paul relate such marvels?

Of himself, but from humility and modesty he does not say so; fourteen years before, forty-four years after the birth of Christ, St. Paul was rapt to the third heaven, that is, to the abode of happy spirits; but to preserve him in humility God permitted Satan to use the concupiscence of the flesh, which is like a sting in the body of man, as a temptation to the apostle, and by which he was continually tormented.

ASPIRATION Grant me, O God,. thy grace that in these evil days of false doctrines I may remain stead fast to Thy holy gospel which in the holy Catholic Church remains pure and unchanged; never let me be deterred from obeying its precepts, neither by the charms of the world nor by the mockery and reproaches of the wicked.

GOSPEL (Luke VIII. 4-15.) At that time, when very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto him, he spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables; that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the way-side are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots, for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares arid riche, and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who, in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

Why is the Word of God compared to a seed?

Because from the word of God germinates the fruit of good works, as from good seed grows good fruit; as it is impossible, therefore, for an unsowed field to produce good fruit, so is it impossible for man without the seed of God’s word to produce good fruits of the spirit.

Why does Christ cry out an the parable: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear?

Because of the importance and necessity of the doctrine which was contained in the parable. For to hear the word of God is absolutely necessary for salvation, as the Apostle indicates: How shall they believe him (Jesus) of whom they have not heard? (Rom. X. 14.) Jesus calls those happy who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke XI. 28.) And on this subject St. Augustine says: “Be assured, my brethren, that as the body becomes weakened by want and hunger, and wastes to a mere shadow, so the soul that is not nourished by the word of God, becomes shrunken, worthless and unfit for any good work.”

Whence comes so much cockle of evil, when the seed of God’s word is so abundantly sowed?

Because, as Christ says, the seed falls now by the wayside, now upon a rock, now among thorns, seldom upon good soil, that is to say, those who hear the word of God are as a highway, over which many distracting thoughts are traveling which tread down the scattered seed, or, like fowls of the air devour it; they are like rocks, hardened by their prejudices or repeated crimes, so that the divine word cannot take root; again, they are so overgrown by the thorns of worldly cares, the constant desire for wealth and riches, and sensual delights, that even if they receive the seed, it is unable to grow and bear fruit.

ON THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD

The word of God is compared, by the Prophet Jeremias, to a hammer which crushes hearts as hard as rocks, and to a fire that dries up the swamps of vice, and consumes inveterate evil habits. (Jer. XXIII. 29.) The Psalmist compares it to thunder that makes all tremble, a storm-wind that bends and breaks the cedars of Lebanon, that is, proud and obstinate spirits; a light that dispels the darkness of ignorance; and a remedy that cures sin. (Ps. XXVIII. 3. 5., CXVIII. 105.) St. Paul compares it to a sword that divides the body from the soul, that is, the carnal desires from the spirit; (Hebr. IV. 12.) the Apostle James to a mirror in which man sees his stains and his wrongs. (Jam. I, 23.) the Prophet Isaias to a precious rain that moistens the soil of the soul and fertilizes it; (Isai: LV. 10. 11.) and Jesus Himself compares it to a seed that when it falls on good ground, brings forth fruit a hundredfold. (Luke VIII. 8.) One single grain of this divine seed produced the most marvellous fruits of sanctity in St. Augustine, St. Anthony the Great, in St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and others; for St. Augustine was converted by the words: “Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy.” (Rom. XIII. 13.) St. Anthony by the words. If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shaft have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt XIX. 21.) Nicholas of Tolentino was brought to Christian perfection by the words: “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. (I. John II. 15.)

How should we prepare ourselves to be benefited by the word of God?

We must be good, well-tilled soil, that is, we must have a heart that loves truth, desires to learn, and humbly and sincerely seeks salvation; we must listen to the word of God with due preparation and attention, keep the divine truths we have heard, in our heart, frequently consider and strive to fulfil them.

What should be done before the sermon?

We should endeavor to purify our conscience, for, as St. Chrysostom demands; “Who would pour precious juice into a vessel that is not clean, without first washing it?” We should, therefore, at least cleanse our hearts by an ardent sorrow for our sins, because the spirit of truth enters not into the sinful soul; (Wisd. I. 4.) we should ask the Holy Ghost for the necessary enlightenment, for little or no fruit can be obtained from a sermon if it is not united with prayer; we should listen to the sermon with a good motive; that is, with a view of hearing something edifying and instructive; if we attend only through curiosity, the desire to hear something new, to criticize the preacher, or to see and to be seen, we are like the Pharisees who for such and similar motives went to hear Christ and derived no benefit therefrom. “As a straight sword goes not into a crooked sheath, so the word of God enters not into a heart that is filled with improper motives.” We should strive to direct, our minds rightly, that is, to dispel all temporal thoughts, all needless distraction, otherwise the wholesome words would fall but upon the ears, would not penetrate the heart, and the words of Christ be fulfilled: They have ears, and hear not.

How should we comfort ourselves during the sermon?

We should listen to the sermon with earnest, reverent attention, for God speaks to us through His priests, and Christ says to them: Who hears you, hears me. (Luke X. 16.) We must listen to the priests, therefore, not as to men, but as to God’s ambassadors, for every priest can say with St. Paul: We are ambassadors for Christ, God, as it were, exhorting by us. (II. Cor. V. 20.) “If,” says St. Chrysostom, “when the letter of a king is read, the greatest quiet and attention prevails, that nothing may be lost, how much more should we listen with reverence and perfect silence to the. word of God?”           The word of God is, and ever will be, a divine seed, which, when properly received, produces precious fruit, by what priest soever sowed; for in the sowing it matters not what priest sows, but what soil is sowed. Be careful, also, that you do not apply that which is said to others, but take it to yourself, or the sermon will be of no benefit to you. Are you free from those vices which the preacher decries and against which he battles? then, thank God, but do not despise others who are perhaps laboring under them, rather pray that they may be released and you preserved from falling into them. Keep also. from sleeping, talking, and other distractions, and remember, that whoever is of God, also willingly hears his word. (John VIII. 47.)

What should be done after the sermon?

We should then strive to put into practice the good we have heard, for God justifies not those who hear the law, but those who keep it, (Rom. II. 13.) and those who hear the word of God and do not conform their lives to it, are like the man who looks into the mirror, and having looked into it goes away, and presently forgets what manner of man he is. (Fam. I. 23. 24.) To practice that which has been heard, it is above all necessary that it should be kept constantly in mind, and thoughtfully considered. St. Bernard says: “Preserve the word of God as you would meat for your body, for it is a life-giving bread, and the food of your soul. Happy those, says Christ, who keep it. Receive it, therefore, into your soul’s interior, and let it reach your morals and your actions.”

That food which cannot be digested, or is at once thrown out, is useless; the food should be well masticated, retained, and by the digestive powers worked up into good blood. So not only on the day, but often during the week, that which was heard in the sermon should be thought of and put into practice. Speak of it to others, thus will much idle talk be saved, many souls with the grace of God roused to good, and enlightened in regard to the evil they had not before seen in themselves and in future will avoid. Let us listen to others when they repeat what was said in the sermon. Heads of families should require their children and domestics to relate what they have heard preached. Let us also entreat God to give us grace that we may be enabled to practice the precepts given us.

PRAYER How much am I shamed, O my God, that the seed of Thy Divine word, which Thou hast sowed so often and so abundantly in my heart, has brought forth so little fruit! Ah! have mercy on me, and so change my heart, that it may become good soil, in which Thy word may take root, grow without hindrance, and finally bring forth fruits of salvation. Amen.

Christ vs. Protestantism

This is what the Pope wishes to celebrate, apostasy from Christ and His Church.  What is there possibly to celebrate in the loss of souls from the True Church?  What is there to celebrate in the capital sin of pride, for that is what Protestantism is, for it is a refusal to accept what Our Lord has established for man’s salvation?

“Jesus Christ says: ‘Hear the Church’ (Cf. Mt. 18:17). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘do not hear the Church; protest against her with all your might.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘If any one will not hear the Church, look up him as a heathen and a publican’ (Mt. 18:17). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘if any one does not hear the Church, look upon him as an Apostle, as an ambassador of God.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church’ (Mt. 16:18). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘it is false; the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church for a thousand years and more.’ Jesus Christ has declared St. Peter, and every successor to St. Peter – the Pope – to be his Vicar on earth (Mt. 16:18, Jn. 21:15-17). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘the pope is the Antichrist.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘My yoke is sweet, and my burden is light’ (Mt. 11:30). ‘No,’ said Luther and Calvin; ‘it is impossible to keep the commandments.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ (Mt. 19:17) ‘No,’ said Luther and Calvin, ‘faith alone, without good works, is sufficient to enter life everlasting.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish’ (Lk. 13:3). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘fasting and other works of penance are not necessary in satisfaction for sin.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘This is my body’ (Mt. 26:26, Mk. 14:22, Lk. 22:19, Jn. 6:55). ‘No,’ said Calvin, ‘this is only the figure of Christ’s body; it will become his body as soon as you receive it.’ Jesus Christ says: ‘I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery’ (Mt. 19:9). ‘No,’ says Protestantism to a married man, ‘you may put away your wife, get a divorce, and marry another.’ Jesus Christ says to every man: ‘Thou shalt not steal’ (Mt. 19:18). ‘No,’ said Luther to secular princes, ‘I give you the right to appropriate to yourselves the property of the Roman Catholic Church.’ The Holy Ghost says in Holy Scripture: ‘Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred’ (Eccl. 9:1). ‘Who can say, My heart is clean, I am pure from sin?’ (Prov. 20:9); and, ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philip. 2:12). ‘No,’ said Luther and Calvin, ‘but whosoever believes in Jesus Christ is in the state of grace.’ St. Paul says: ‘If I should have faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing’ (1 Cor. 13:2). ‘No,’ said Luther and Calvin, ‘faith alone is sufficient to save us.’ St. Peter says that in the Epistles of St. Paul there are many things ‘hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as also the other Scriptures, to their own perdition’ (2 Pt. 3:16). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘the Scriptures are very plain and easy to understand.’ St. James says: ‘Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord’ (Jms. 5:14). ‘No,’ says Protestantism, ‘that is a vain and useless ceremony.’ Being thus impious enough to make liars of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and the Apostles, need we wonder if they continually slander Catholics, telling and believing worse absurdities about them than the heathens did?”   ~Fr. Michael Muller

Septuagesima Sunday

 

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Fr. Goffine’s meditation on Septuagesima Sunday:

http://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/what-septuagesima-sunday-6654

Why is this Sunday called “Septuagesima”?

Because in accordance with the words of the First Council of Orleans, some pious Christian congregations in the earliest ages of the Church, especially the clergy, began to fast 70 days before Easter, on this Sunday, which was therefore called “Septuagesima”—the 70th day. The same is the case with the Sundays following, which are called Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Quadragesima, because some Christians commenced to fast 60 days, others 50, others 40 days before Easter, until finally, to make it properly uniform, Popes Gregory and Gelasius arranged that all Christians should fast 40 days before Easter, commencing with Ash Wednesday.

Why, from this day until Easter, does the Church omit in her service all joyful canticles, alleluias, and the Gloria in excelsis, etc?

Gradually to prepare the minds of the faithful for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors, and to exhort him to penance. So the priest appears at the altar in violet, the color of penance, and the front of the altar is covered with a violet curtain. To arouse our sorrow for our sins, and show the need of repentance, the Church in the name of all mankind at the Introit cries with David: The groans of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple. (Ps. 27, 5-7) I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer. (Ps. 27:2-3) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT O Lord, we beseech Thee graciously hear the prayers of Thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins may, for the glory of Thy name, mercifully be delivered. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ etc.

EPISTLE (I Cor. 9:24-27, to 10:1-5) Brethren, know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air; but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection; lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea: and all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ); but with the most of them God was not well pleased.

EXPLANATION Having exhorted us to penance in the Introit of the Mass, the Church desires to indicate to us, by reading this epistle, the effort we should make to reach the kingdom of heaven by the narrow path (Matt. 7:13) of penance and mortification. This St. Paul illustrates by three different examples. By the example of those who in a race run to one point, or in a prize-fight practice and prepare themselves for the victor’s reward by the strongest exercise, and by the strictest abstinence from everything that might weaken the physical powers. If to win a laurel-crown that passes away, these will subject themselves to the severest trials and deprivations, how much more should we, for the sake of the heavenly crown of eternal happiness, abstain from those improper desires, by which the soul is weakened, and practice those holy virtues, such as prayer, love of God and our neighbor, patience, to which the crown is promised!

Next, by his own example, bringing himself before them as one running a race, and fighting for an eternal crown, but not as one running blindly not knowing whither, or fighting as one who strikes not his antagonist, but the air; on the contrary, with his eyes firmly fixed on the eternal crown, certain to be his who lives by the precepts of the gospel, who chastises his spirit and his body as a valiant champion, with a strong hand, that is, by severest mortification, by fasting and prayer. If St. Paul, notwithstanding the extraordinary graces which he received, thought it necessary to chastise his body that he might not be cast away, how does the sinner expect to be saved, living an effeminate and luxurious life without penance and mortification?

St. Paul’s third example is that of the Jews who all perished on their journey to the Promised Land, even though God had granted them so many graces; He shielded them from their enemies by a cloud which served as a light to them at night, and a cooling shade by day; He divided the waters of the sea, thus preparing for them a dry passage; He caused manna to fall from heaven to be their food, and water to gush from the rock for their drink.

These temporal benefits which God bestowed upon the Jews in the wilderness had a spiritual meaning; the cloud and the sea was a figure of baptism which enlightens the soul, tames the concupiscence of the flesh, and purifies from sin; the manna was a type of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, the soul’s true bread from heaven; the water from the rock, the blood flowing from Christ’s wound in the side; and yet with all these temporal benefits which God bestowed upon them, and with all the spiritual graces they were to receive by faith from the coming Redeemer, of the 600,000 men who left Egypt only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. Why? Because they were fickle, murmured so, often against God, and desired the pleasures of the flesh. How much, then, have we need to fear lest we be excluded from the true, happy land, Heaven, if we do not continuously struggle for it, by penance and mortification!

ASPIRATION Assist me, O Jesus, with Thy grace that, following St. Paul’s example, I may be anxious, by the constant pious practice of virtue and prayer, to arrive at perfection and to enter heaven.

GOSPEL (Matt. 20:1-6) At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing; and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard.

And when evening was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more; and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hart made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way; I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.

In this parable, what is to be understood by the householder, the vineyard, laborers, and the penny?

The householder represents God, who in different ages of the world, in the days of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and finally, in the days of Christ and the apostles, has sought to call men as workmen into His vineyard, the true Church, that they might labor there industriously, and receive the penny of eternal glory.

How and when does God call people?

By inward inspiration, by preachers, confessors, spiritual books, and conversations, etc., in flourishing youth and in advanced age, which periods of life may be understood by the different hours of the day.

What is meant by working in the vineyard?

It means laboring, fighting, suffering for God and His honor, for our own and the salvation of others. As in a vineyard we spade, dig, root out weeds, cut off all that is useless and noxious, manure, plant, and bind up, so in the spiritual vineyard of our soul we must, by frequent meditation on death and hell, by examination of conscience dig up the evil inclinations by their roots, and by true repentance eradicate the weeds of vice, and by mortification, especially by prayer and fasting cut away concupiscence; by the recollection of our sins we must humble ourselves, and amend our life; in place of the bad habits we must plant the opposite virtues and bind our unsteady will to the trellis of the fear of God and of His judgment, that we may continue firm.

How is a vice or bad habit to be rooted up?

A great hatred of sin must be aroused; a fervent desire of destroying sin must be produced in our hearts; the grace of God must be implored without which nothing can be accomplished. It is useful also to read some spiritual book which speaks against the vice. The sacraments of penance and of Holy Communion should often be received, and some saint who in life had committed the same sin, and afterwards by the grace of God conquered it, should be honored, as Mary Magdalen and St. Augustine who each had the habit of impurity, but with the help of God resisted and destroyed it in themselves; there should be fasting, alms-deeds, or other good works, performed for the same object, and it is of great importance, even necessary, that the conscience should be carefully examined in this regard.

Who are standing idle in the market place?

In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle: doing nothing whatever; doing evil; doing other things than the duties of our position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God.

This threefold idleness deprives us of our salvation, as the servant loses his wages if he works not at all, or not according to the will of his master. We are all servants of God, and none of us can say with the laborers in the Vineyard that no man has employed us; for God, when He created us, hired us at great wages, and we must serve Him always as He cares for us at all times; and if, in the gospel, the householder reproaches the workmen, whom no man had hired, for their idleness, what will God one day say to those Christians whom He has placed to work in His Vineyard, the Church, if they have remained idle?

Why do the last comers receive as much as those who worked all day?

Because God rewards not the time or length of the work, but the industry and diligence with which it has been performed. It may indeed happen, that many a one who has served God but for a short time, excels in merits another who has lived long but has not labored as diligently. (Wisd. 4:8-13)

What is signified by the murmurs of the first workmen when the wages were paid?

As the Jews were the first who were called by God, Christ intended to show that the Gentiles, who were called last, should one day receive the heavenly reward, and that the Jews have no reason to murmur because God acted not unjustly in fulfilling His promises to them, and at the same time calling others to the eternal reward. In heaven envy, malevolence and murmuring will find no place. On the contrary, the saints who have long served God wonder at His goodness in converting sinners and those who have served Him but a short time, for these also there will be the same penny, that is, the vision, the enjoyment, and possession of God and His kingdom. Only in the heavenly glory there will be a difference because the divine lips have assured us that each one shall be rewarded according to his works.

The murmurs of the workmen and the answer of the householder serve to teach us, that we should not murmur against the merciful proceedings of God towards our neighbor, nor envy him; for envy and jealousy are abominable, devilish vices, hated by God. By the envy of the, devil, death came into the world. (Wisd. 2:24) The envious therefore, imitate Lucifer, but they hurt only themselves, because they are consumed by their envy. “Envy,” says St. Basil “is an institution of the serpent, an invention of the devils, an obstacle to piety, a road to hell, the depriver of the heavenly kingdom.”

What is meant by: The first. shall be last, and the last shall be first?

This again is properly to be understood of the Jews; for they were the first called, but will be the last in order, as in time, because they responded not to Christ’s invitation, received not His doctrine, and will enter the Church only at the end of the world; while, on the contrary, the Gentiles who were not called until after the Jews, will be the first in number as in merit, because the greater part responded and are still responding to the call. Christ, indeed, called all the Jews, but few of them answered, therefore few were chosen. Would that this might not. also come true with regard to Christians whom God has also called, and whom He wishes to save. (I Tim. 2:4) Alas! very few live in accordance with their vocation of working in the vineyard of the Lord, and, consequently, do not receive the penny of eternal bliss.

PRAYER O most benign God, who, out of pure grace, without any merit of ours, hast called us, Thy unworthy servants, to the true faith, into the vineyard of the holy Catholic Church, and dost require us to work in it for the sanctification of our souls, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may never be idle but be found always faithful workmen, and that that which in past years we have failed to do, we may make up for in future by greater zeal and persevering industry, and, the work being done, may receive the promised reward in heaven, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our, Lord. Amen.

Last Will and Testament of King Louis XVI

Today marks the Anniversary of the execution of the great and holy, King Louis XVI.  The words of a man completely devoted to the Catholic Church, who died for God and Country, only because he was King:

“In the name of the Very holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

To-day, the 25th day of December, 1792, I, Louis XVI King of France, being for more than four months imprisoned with my family in the tower of the Temple at Paris, by those who were my subjects, and deprived of all communication whatsoever, even with my family, since the eleventh instant; moreover, involved in a trial the end of which it is impossible to foresee, on account of the passions of men, and for which one can find neither pretext nor means in any existing law, and having no other witnesses, for my thoughts than God to whom I can address myself, I hereby declare, in His presence, my last wishes and feelings.

I leave my soul to God, my creator; I pray Him to receive it in His mercy, not to judge it according to its merits but according to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has offered Himself as a sacrifice to God His Father for us other men, no matter how hardened, and for me first.

I die in communion with our Holy Mother, the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, which holds authority by an uninterrupted succession, from St. Peter, to whom Jesus Christ entrusted it; I believe firmly and I confess all that is contained in the creed and the commandments of God and the Church, the sacraments and the mysteries, those which the Catholic Church teaches and has always taught. I never pretend to set myself up as a judge of the various way of expounding the dogma which rend the church of Jesus Christ, but I agree and will always agree, if God grant me life the decisions which the ecclesiastical superiors of the Holy Catholic Church give and will always give, in conformity with the disciplines which the Church has followed since Jesus Christ.

I pity with all my heart our brothers who may be in error but I do not claim to judge them, and I do not love them less in Christ, as our Christian charity teaches us, and I pray to God to pardon all my sins. I have sought scrupulously to know them, to detest them and to humiliate myself in His presence. Not being able to obtain the ministration of a Catholic priest, I pray God to receive the confession which I feel in having put my name (although this was against my will) to acts which might be contrary to the discipline and the belief of the Catholic church, to which I have always remained sincerely attached. I pray God to receive my firm resolution, if He grants me life, to have the ministrations of a Catholic priest, as soon as I can, in order to confess my sins and to receive the sacrament of penance.

I beg all those whom I might have offended inadvertently (for I do not recall having knowingly offended any one), or those whom I may have given bad examples or scandals, to pardon the evil which they believe I could have done them.

I beseech those who have the kindness to join their prayers to mine, to obtain pardon from God for my sins.

I pardon with all my heart those who made themselves my enemies, without my have given them any cause, and I pray God to pardon them, as well as those who, through false or misunderstood zeal, did me much harm.

I commend to God my wife and my children, my sister, my aunts, my brothers, and all those who are attached to me by ties of blood or by whatever other means. I pray God particularly to cast eyes of compassion upon my wife, my children, and my sister, who suffered with me for so long a time, to sustain them with His mercy if they shall lose me, and as long as they remain in his mortal world.

I commend my children to my wife; I have never doubted her maternal tenderness for them. I enjoin her above all to make them good Christians and honest individuals; to make them view the grandeurs of this world (if they are condemned to experience them) as very dangerous and transient goods, and turn their attention towards the one solid and enduring glory, eternity. I beseech my sister to kindly continue her tenderness for my children and to take the place of a mother, should they have the misfortune of losing theirs.

I beg my wife to forgive all the pain which she suffered for me, and the sorrows which I may have caused her in the course of our union; and she may feel sure that I hold nothing against her, if she has anything with which to reproach herself.

I most warmly enjoin my children that, after what they owe to God, which should come first, they should remain forever united among themselves, submissive and obedient to their mother, and grateful for all the care and trouble which she has taken with them, as well as in memory of me. I beg them to regard my sister as their second mother.

I exhort my son, should he have the misfortune of becoming king, to remember he owes himself wholly to the happiness of his fellow citizens; that he should forget all hates and all grudges, particularly those connected with the misfortunes and sorrows which I am experiencing; that he can make the people happy only by ruling according to laws: but at the same time to remember that a king cannot make himself respected and do the good that is in his heart unless he has the necessary authority, and that otherwise, being tangled up in his activities and not inspiring respect, he is more harmful than useful.

I exhort my son to care for all the persons who are attached to me, as much as his circumstances will allow, to remember that it is a sacred debt which I have contracted towards the children and relatives of those who have perished for me and also those who are wretched for my sake. I know that there are many persons, among those who were near me, who did not conduct themselves towards me as they should have and who have even shown ingratitude, but I pardon them (often in moments of trouble and turmoil one is not master of oneself), and I beg my son that, if he finds an occasion, he should think only of their misfortunes.

I should have wanted here to show my gratitude to those who have given me a true and disinterested affection; if, on the one hand, I was keenly hurt by the ingratitude and disloyalty of those to whom I have always shown kindness, as well as to their relatives and friends, on the other hand I have had the consolation of seeing the affection and voluntary interest which many persons have shown me. I beg them to receive my thanks.

In the situation in which matters still are, I fear to compromise them if I should speak more explicitly, but I especially enjoin my son to seek occasion to recognize them.

I should, nevertheless, consider it a calumny on the nation if I did not openly recommend to my son MM. De Chamilly and Hue, whose genuine attachment for me led them to imprison themselves with me in this sad abode. I also recommend Clery, for whose attentiveness I have nothing but praise ever since he has been with me. Since it is he who has remained with me until the end, I beg the gentlemen of the commune to hand over to him my clothes, my books, my watch, my purse, and all other small effects which have been deposited with the council of the commune.

I pardon again very readily those who guard me, the ill treatment and the vexations which they thought it necessary to impose upon me. I found a few sensitive and compassionate souls among them – may they in their hearts enjoy the tranquillity which their way of thinking gives them.

I beg MM. De Malesherbes, Tronchet and De Seze to receive all my thanks and the expressions of my feelings for all the cares and troubles they took for me.

I finish by declaring before God, and ready to appear before Him, that I do not reproach myself with any of the crimes with which I am charged.

Made in duplicate in the Tower of the Temple, the 25th of December 1792.

LOUIS”

 

The true origin of Marriage

“The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties – deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it – namely, unity and perpetuity. From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder.'”   ~Pope Leo XIII, “Arcanum”, 1880 A.D.

Unworthy Communion (Pt. 2)

 

Part II of II of a meditation on the horror of unworthy Communions by Fr. Franz Hunolt, 1887.

Part I here: https://damselofthefaith.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/unworthy-communion-pt-1/

There are many kinds of people who generally receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin; namely, the unchaste, the vindictive, the unjust, the culpably ignorant; I will say nothing of those who communicate through sheer malice.

First, with regard to the unchaste; how many are there not of both sexes, both married and single, and God grant that there may be none of this kind even among persons consecrated to God! who make a custom of this sin? For they sin either with themselves, or with others for years and years; and during that time their desires tend to illicit intercourse with others, and they either remain in the same house, or otherwise in the proximate occasion of sin with their accomplice, or if the occasion is wanting to them, they have at least a constant desire for sins of impurity, like invalids who, when they are forbidden certain kinds of food and drink, esteem those happy who are allowed to enjoy them. Meanwhile, they communicate several times a year, what are such people thinking of? Oh, they say, we go to Confession beforehand. God help them! what-a poor Confession theirs is! For they can have neither true sorrow nor purpose of amendment, since they remain in the occasion of sin; and thus they burden their souls with a new sacrilege. All their Communions are bad and sacrilegious.

Secondly, the vindictive. I mean those who for a long time have been at enmity and variance with their neighbor; and who, although they say with the lips, I forgive him, and bear no ill-will to him, yet avoid him through spite and refuse to salute him; burst almost with envy when they hear him praised, and exult with a secret joy when they hear of his misfortunes; and if they are in the same trade or employment, do their best to ruin him. Alas, how many people there are who communicate in that state! Neighbors, relations, sometimes brothers and sisters go every month to the Table of the Lord, and yet they hardly speak to each other once in the month, through hatred and ill-will. Is that the way to make a worthy Communion? Does not Christ expressly say in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee: Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother; and then coming, thou shalt offer thy gift (Matth. v. 23-24).” If you do not accuse yourselves of those things in Confession, what sort of a Confession do you make? For you are acting in flagrant violation of the law of Christ: “But I say to you; Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you, etc (Ibid 44).” If you confess those sins each time, but without the intention of being reconciled to your enemy, and are nevertheless allowed to go to Holy Communion, what sort of a confessor have you ? You must know that all your Communions are sacrilegious.

Thirdly, the unjust, who possess wrongfully what belongs to others, and do not restore it when they can and ought to restore it. Alas, how many there are who know, or at least ought to know, that that piece of land, that house, that money, or whatever it may be, does not lawfully belong to them, and still continue to keep possession of it! How many also know that their parents, or ancestors, whose property they have inherited, contracted debts here and there, which have not yet been paid, and who do not pay those debts, because through mistake on the part of the creditors no demand has been made for them! How many who know that they oppress the poor unjustly, and wilfully cause them loss and injury; who know that they defraud their laborers and servants of their wages; either wholly or partially; who know that they have exacted an usurious interest from the needy on account of the distress in which the latter are! How many there are who are conscious of having tried to secure an unjust judgment by bribery and corruption, or otherwise to cheat their opponents out of their rights! How many who have knowingly bought stolen things, or kept what they found without looking for the owner, or cheated in buying, selling, or in other ways; and yet keep all they have thus unjustly gained without the intention of making restitution, or indemnifying the other for the losses caused him, and who remain in that state for ten or twenty years, or even longer, and go to Confession and Communion all the time on the usual days! O my God, what sacrilegious Confessions and Communions those are! who can count the number of them! Still these latter may yet open their eyes, see the gravity of their sins, repent of their unworthy Confessions and Communions and so obtain forgiveness.

But what hope is there for the fourth class, which is by far the most numerous? They flatter themselves when they go to Communion, that they are in the state of grace; and yet they are mistaken. They imagine they have no mortal sin on their conscience, and yet they have enough of them, and that through sheer culpable ignorance, because they do not want to know anything of the sinful lives they lead. They consist, first, of those who have become accustomed to a certain vice, such as drunkenness, detraction, cursing, swearing and other sins, which they confess each time, but never repent of. They think that it is enough for them to tell everything clearly in Confession, and that then they need give themselves no further trouble. They never think of the sorrow and purpose of amendment, which, humanly speaking, it is impossible for them to have with sincerity; at least, the fact of their continued relapses into their former sins shows sufficiently that neither their Confessions nor their Communions have had any effect on their souls; for these two Sacraments, if received properly, frequently, and with good dispositions, must necessarily purify the soul, and sanctify it.

There are others who live in a state of indifference; they trouble themselves little as to whether their actions are good or bad; they are culpably ignorant of the duties of their employment or state of life, or else they neglect to fulfil them, although they are bound both to know and to fulfil them under pain of mortal sin; and they never accuse themselves of these sins. To this class belong those who fill certain important offices and employments for which they know they have not the necessary abilities; so that they are the occasion of much loss and injury to others. To this class especially belong parents who teach their children nothing but the vanities of the world, and take no care about keeping them from evil, instructing them in good, encouraging them to piety and the fear of the Lord, and leading them on to Heaven.

Thirdly, this class consists of all those who live according to the manners and customs of the voluptuous world, and are addicted to many abuses that cannot always be excused from mortal sin, and although they now and then have a reasonable doubt of the lawfulness of their conduct, yet try to banish that doubt by all kinds of false excuses; so that they look upon those abuses as lawful, because many others are addicted to them also. All these people go every month, every fortnight, sometimes every week to Communion, and remain just as they were before; nay, as far as those worldly abuses are concerned, they come to the sacred Table immodestly dressed, to receive their Lord. Ye angels, what think ye of such Communions? St. Paul, whatf do you say of them? Are the hearts of those people properly disposed to receive the Flesh and Blood of the Most Holy? ” Let a man prove himself,” you say, to see if he be worthy, “And so let him eat of that bread . . . , for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself (1. Cor. xi. 28, 29).”

Ah, whoever you may be, who are amongst the number of those of whom I have spoken, I have one request to make of you, by way of conclusion; and that is, that you abstain from Communion, even at Easter, even on your death-bed unless you intend to leave the proximate occasion of sin, to give up your illicit intereourse, to lay aside your hatred and ill-will against your neighbor, to restore what you unjustly possess, and to amend your sinful customs and unlawful abuses. Again, I entreat you, abstain from Communion! It is true that if you do not communicate at Easter-time, you commit a grievous sin against the precept of thc Church, which I do not wish by any means to advise you to commit; still you are guilty of only one sin thereby, and that a much less grievous one than you would commit by an unworthy Communion, in which you would offer a most grievous insult to Jesus Christ. If you have not a sincere purpose of amendment, do not communicate, even on your death-bed; it is true that you will then be lost for ever, and I do not by any means wish to advise you to incur eternal damnation; still your damnation will not be so deep as it would be, if you went into eternity loaded with the weight of an unworthy Communion. O my God, what a terrible situation ours is, if we are compelled to choose between one degree of damnation and another! It remains true, then, sinners, your damnation will be less grievous without, than with a sacrilegious Communion.

Reverence due to the most Holy Sacrament, to what dost then now compel me? To keep souls away from the Table to which our Saviour so lovingly invites all men. “Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matth. xi. 28).” Come, eat my bread and drink the wine which I have mingled for you (Prov. ix. 5);” which I have prepared for you out of pure love. Come, and come often; the oftener the better. “My delight is to be with the children of men (Ibid. viii. 31).” To keep them away from that food which is the necessary nourishment and strength of their souls against all temptations; from that food, without which, according to our Saviour’s own testimony, we cannot have life in us: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, . . . you shall not have life in you (John vi. 54).” Do I then wish to deter you from receiving this Food? No, my dear brethren, such is not at all my intention; I will forbid no one to approach this table; I say to you all: Come to Holy Communion, and come often; but at the same time I warn you in the words of St. Ambrose, “Let him who wishes to receive Life, amend his life; ” Communicate, but with a pure heart; communicate, but not in the state of mortal sin; communicate, but woe to you, if instead of life, you should eat eternal death with the Bread of life!

Still there will be many who will refuse to do as I say. They will go on as usual, and offer the most fearful injuries to our Lord by their unworthy Communions, that they may keep up the appearance of being Catholics. That is the way, O Lord, in which Thy Christians thank Thee, for Thy liberality towards them! Didst Thou not foresee it when Thou wast instituting this Blessed Sacrament? Certainly, Thou didst, and the future ingratitude of men was not unknown to Thee. Why hast Thou, then, given Thyself thus to a thankless world? Why dost Thou not withdraw from it at once? On account of the few souls who receive Thee worthily.

Pious Christians, this is the thought which, I leave you by way of conclusion. For your sake, to remain with you, to be your refuge, consolation and help, to be your food and drink in life, and your Viaticum in the hour of death; (oh love, who can understand thee!) the great God has been pleased to bear with the most outrageous insults from the wicked; He suffers them still, and will continue to suffer them to the end of time. Think now what a debt of praise, thanksgiving, honor and love you owe your God who loves you so much! Think and say with the Prophet David: “What shall I render to the Lord (Ps. cxv. 12)?” Is it not our right, O my God, that I should love Thee with my whole heart, in return, and should fulfil Thy holy will, as far as I know it, most exactly? That I should often visit Thee in this most Holy Sacrament, and adore Thee most modestly and humbly in Thy Church? That whenever I have the opportunity, I should accompany Thee through the streets, as Thou art carried to the sick? That, as often as my confessor allows, I should receive Thee, according to Thy wish and desire, with all possible devotion; and thus help in some measure to atone for the injuries thou sufferest, for my sake, from Jews, heretics and wicked Christians. Yes, that I will do with Thy grace. Amen.