Monthly Archives: February 2016

The SSPX Pilgrim Virgin Our Lady of Fatima Statue

What beautiful ceremonies occurred at my SSPX chapel this weekend!  It was our turn to be visited by Our Lady of Fatima. All of the US chapels are receiving a turn to venerate her statue. Masses were offered in honor of Our Lady, as well as Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, Rosaries, Processions (including by candlelight) and the crowning of the stunning statue of Our Lady of Fatima. And what a beautiful crown it is, fit for the Queen of Heaven!

I have provided some pictures, which follow:

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“We need the Blessed Virgin Mary in our times. We need the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to help us to keep our Faith, and to feel the warmth of the love that Our Lord Jesus Christ has for us. And as we no longer see Him before our eyes, as we see Him less and less, we need to feel that the Virgin Mary is with us.

I think that it is the reason why the Virgin Mary asked in Fatima that we pray to Her Immaculate Heart. We need this divine love which is widespread in the Heart of the Virgin Mary.

And we also need her Immaculate Heart, immaculate, that is to say, without stain, without sin.” ~Archbishop Lefebvre, Solemnity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Econe, August 1976

 

Third Sunday of Lent

 

Fr. Goffine’s meditation for Oculi Sunday:

Oculi Sunday

The Introit of this day’s Mass, which begins with the word Oculi, is the prayer of a soul imploring deliverance from the snares of the devil:

INTROIT My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare: look thou upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in thee, O my God, I put my trust: let me not be ashamed. (Ps. 24) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT We beseech Thee, Almighty God, regard the desires of the humble, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to be our defense. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE (Ephes. 5:1-9) Brethren, be ye followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odor of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints; nor obscenity, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks: for know ye this, and understand, that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness; but now light in the Lord. Walk, then, as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.

EXPLANATION The apostle requires us to imitate God, as good children imitate their father in well-doing and in well-wishing; besides he declares that all covetousness, fornication, all disgraceful talk and equivocal jokes should be banished from Christian meetings, even that such things should not be so much as mentioned among us; because these vices unfailingly deprive us of heaven. He admonishes us not to let ourselves be deceived by the seducing words of those who seek to make these vices appear small, nothing more than pardonable human weaknesses; those who speak thus are the children of darkness and of the devil, they bring down the wrath of God upon themselves, and all who assent to their words. A Christian, a child of light, that is, of faith, should regard as a sin that which faith and conscience tell him is such, and must live according to their precepts and not by false judgment of the wicked. Should any one seek to lead you away, ask yourself, my Christian soul, whether you would dare appear with such a deed before the judgment-seat of God. Listen to the voice of your conscience, and let it decide, whether that which you are expected to do is good or bad, lawful or unlawful.

ASPIRATION Place Thy fear, O God, before my mouth, that I may utter no vain, careless, much less improper and scandalous words, which may be the occasion of sin to my neighbor. Strengthen me, that I may not be deceived by flattering words, and become faithless to Thee.

GOSPEL (Luke 11:14-28) At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitudes were in admiration at it. But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven.

But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you.

When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things which he possesseth are in peace; but if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him, he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out: and when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

Can a man be really possessed of a devil?

It is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the evil spirit most perniciously influences man in a twofold manner: by enticing his soul to sin, and then influencing his body which he often entirely or partially possesses, manifesting himself by madness, convulsions, insanity, etc. Many texts of Scripture, and the writings of the Fathers speak of this possession. St. Cyprian writes: “We can expel the swarms of impure spirits, who for the ruin of the soul, enter into the bodies of men, and we can compel them to acknowledge their presence, by the force of powerful words.” Possession takes place by the permission of God either for trial or as a punishment for sin committed, (I Cor. 5:5) and the Church from her Head, Jesus, who expelled so many devils, has received the power of casting them out as He did. (Mark 16:17; Acts 5:16; 8:6, 7; 16:18, etc.) She however warns her ministers, the priests, who by their ordination have received the power to expel the evil spirits, to distinguish carefully between possession and natural sickness, that they may not be deceived, (Rituale Romanum §3, §5-10) and the faithful should guard against looking upon every unusual, unhealthy appearance as an influence of Satan, and should give no ear to impostors, but in order not to be deceived, should turn to an experienced physician or to their pastor.

What is understood by a dumb devil?

The literal meaning of this is the evil enemy, who sometimes so torments those whom he possesses that they lose the power of speech; in a spiritual sense, we may understand it to mean the shame which the devil takes away from the sinner, when he commits the sin, but gives back again, as false shame, before confession, so that the sinner conceals the sin, and thereby falls deeper.

How does Christ still cast out dumb devils?

By His grace with which He inwardly enlightens the sinner, so that he becomes keenly aware that the sins which he has concealed in confession, will one day be known to the whole world, and thus encourages him to overcome his false shame. “Be not ashamed to confess to one man,” says St. Augustine, “that which you were not ashamed to do with one, perhaps, with many.” Consider these words of the same saint: “Sincere confession subdues vice, conquers the evil one, shuts the door of hell, and opens the gates of paradise.”

How did Christ prove, that He did not cast out devils by Beelzebub?

By showing that the kingdom of Satan could not stand, if one evil spirit were cast out by another; that they thus reproached their own sons who also cast out devils, and had not been accused of doing so by power from Beelzebub; by His own life and works which were in direct opposition to the devil, and by which the devil’s works were destroyed. There is no better defense against calumny than an innocent life, and those who are slandered, find no better consolation than the thought of Christ who, notwithstanding His sanctity and His miracles, was not secure against calumniation.

What is meant by the finger of God?

The power of God, by which Christ expelled the evil spirits, proved himself God, and the promised Redeemer.

Who is the strong man armed?

The evil one is so called, because he still retains the power and intellect of the angels, and, practiced by long experience, seeks in different ways to injure man if God permits.

How is the devil armed?

With the evil desires of men, with the perishable riches, honors, and pleasures of this world, with which he entices us to evil, deceives us, and casts us into eternal fire.

Who is the stronger one who took away the devil’s armor?

Christ the Lord who came into this world that He might destroy the works and the kingdom of the devil, to expel the prince of darkness, (John 12:31) and to redeem us. from his power. “The devil,” says St. Anthony:

is like a dragon caught by the Lord with the fishing-hook of the cross, tied with a halter like a beast of burden, chained like a fugitive slave, and his lips pierced through with a ring, so that he may not devour any of the faithful. Now he sighs, like a miserable sparrow, caught by Christ and turned to derision, and thrown under the feet of the Christians. He who flattered himself that he would possess the whole orbit of the earth, behold, he has to yield!”

Why does Christ say: He who is not with me, is against me?

These words were intended in the first place for the Pharisees who did not acknowledge Christ as the Messiah, would not fight with Him against Satan’s power, but rather held the people back from reaching unity of faith and love of Christ. Like the Pharisees, all heretical teachers who, by their false doctrines, draw the faithful from communion with Christ and His Church, are similar to the devil, the father of heresy and lies. May all those, therefore, who think they can serve Christ and the world at the same time, consider that between truth and falsehood, between Christ and the world, there is no middle path; that Christ requires decision, either with Him, or against Him , either eternal happiness with Him, or without Him, everlasting misery.

Who are understood by the dry places through which the evil spirit wanders and finds no rest?

The dry places without water,” says St. Gregory, “are the hearts of the just, who by the force of penance have drained the dampness of carnal desires.” In such places the evil-one indeed finds no rest, because there his malice finds no sympathy, and his wicked will no satisfaction.

Why does the evil spirit say: I will return into my house?

Because he is only contented there where he is welcomed and received: those who have purified their heart by confession, and driven Satan from it, but labor not to amend, again lose the grace of the Sacraments by sin, and thus void of virtue and grace, offer a beautiful and pleasant dwelling to the devil.

Why is it said: The last state becomes worse than the first?

Because a relapse generally draws more sins with it, and so it is said: the devil will return with seven other spirits more wicked than himself, by which may be understood the seven deadly sins, because after a relapse into sin conversion to God becomes more difficult, as a repeated return of the same sickness makes it harder to regain health; because by repetition sin easily becomes a habit and renders conversion almost impossible; because repeated relapses are followed by blindness of intellect, hardness of heart, and in the end eternal damnation.

Why did the woman lift up her voice?

This was by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to shame the Pharisees who, blinded by pride, neither professed nor acknowledged the divinity of Christ, whilst this humble woman not only confessed Jesus as God, but praised her who carried Him, whom heaven and earth cannot contain. Consider the great dignity of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Son of God, and hear her praises from the holy Fathers. St. Cyril thus salutes her: “Praise to thee, Blessed Mother of God: for thou art virginity itself, the sceptre of the true faith!” and St. Chrysostom: “Hail, O Mother, the throne, the glory, the heaven of the Church!” St. Ephrem: “Hail, only hope of the Fathers, herald of the apostles, glory of the martyrs, joy of the saints, and crown of the virgins, because of thy vast glory, and inaccessible light!

Why did Christ call those happy who hear the word of God and keep it?

Because, as has been already said, it is not enough for salvation to hear the word of God, but it must also be practiced. Because Mary, the tender Mother of Jesus, did this most perfectly, Christ terms her more happy in it, than in having conceived, borne, and nursed Him.

SUPPLICATION O Lord Jesus! true Light of the world, enlighten the eyes of my soul, that I may never be induced by the evil one to conceal a sin, through false shame, in the confessional, that on the day of general judgment my sins may not be published to the whole world. Strengthen me, O Jesus, that I may resist the arms of the devil by a penitent life, and especially by scorning the fear of man and worldly considerations, and guard against lapsing into sin, that I may not be lost, but through Thy merits maybe delivered from, all dangers and obtain Heaven.

The Season of Lent – it’s history, meaning and object

The Season of Lent, it’s history, meaning and object

By Dom Bernard Hayes, O.S.B.

INTRODUCTION

In the Mass of Ash Wednesday, my dear brethren, the following words of the prophet Joel are read: “Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. . . . Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, gather together the people, sanctify the Church” (Joel ii.).

The great fast of Lent has been proclaimed, and the trumpet sounds throughout the Church of God, calling the people to forsake the false joys of earth and to be converted to their God with all their heart. The voice of the trumpet proclaims: “Let fasting take the place of feasting, weeping of mirth, and mourning of joy.” What, my brethren, is the object of this season which comes so harshly into the ordinary course of our lives? Whence did it come? Is it necessary for us now, or is it cherished merely as an interesting historical survival? We have a right, my brethren, to be satisfied on these points, for Lent makes large demands upon your generosity; and when we must put ourselves to grave inconvenience, we all like to know that it is for good reasons.

I propose, therefore, my brethren, to explain this season of Lent, to show its object, and to prove its necessity.

We get the word “Lent” from the old Anglo-Saxon language; Lenten-tide meant Spring-time, and “Lent” the Spring fast. In Latin this season is called “Quadragesima,” which means “fortieth,” and expresses the number of the days of the fast. This number recalls to our minds that Jesus Christ was led by the spirit into the desert and fasted forty days and forty nights (Matt. iv.).

NECESSITY OF PENANCE

The Church wishes each of her children, in imitation of Christ, to spend a like period each year in penance and recollection. Her discipline of penance is mainly under the form of fasting. Fasting has been defined as an “abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself, as an expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practiced in obedience to the general law of the Church.” She insists upon penance, because it is clear from the Scriptures that God demands it, and in choosing this form of it, the Church was not guided merely by natural wisdom, but by the evidence in the Old and New Testaments that this was acceptable to God.

Let us take some examples. In the prophecy of Jonas we read that “the word of the Lord came to Jonas, saying: ‘Arise and go to Ninive, the great city, and preach in it the preaching that I bid thee.'” And Jonas arose and, entering into the city, cried: “Yet forty days and Ninive shall be destroyed.” And the men of Ninive believed in God: and they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. . . . And God saw their works that they were turned from their evil way: and God had mercy with regard to the evil which He had said He would do to them, and He did it not” (Jonas iii.). In the Book of Deuteronomy we have another striking example of God’s wrath being turned aside by penance and prayer. Moses recalls to the memory of the people how, in Horeb, they had provoked God to wrath and would have been destroyed for their idolatry. After having received the commandments upon tables of stone, he came down the mountain and found the people adoring the golden calf. “And I fell down,” he says, “before the Lord, forty days and nights, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for all your sins which you had committed against the Lord, and had provoked Him to wrath. . . . And I lay prostrate before the Lord forty days and nights, in which I humbly besought Him that He would not destroy you as He had threatened” (Deut. ix.).

Thus throughout the Old Testament we find that: when men had sinned they strove to appease the wrath of God by bodily penance and by humble prayer. The same gospel of penance is preached by the second Elias, St. John the Baptist, who preceded the first coming of the Son of God upon earth, as Elias himself is to come “to restore all things” before Jesus Christ comes to Judge the world. We read in St. Mark’s gospel that: “John was in the desert, baptising and preaching the baptism of penance unto remission of sins” (Mark i. 4). He spoke to the multitudes in strong words; he did not suit his words to the degenerate views of his day. “Ye offspring of vipers,” he cried, “who hath showed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits worthy of penance” (Luke iii).

Is it surprising then, my brethren, that the first public lesson given to men by our Saviour Himself is the lesson of penance? Nay, should not we be surprised if He, who had sent as His herald one “clothed with a garment of camel’s hair, and whose food was locusts and wild honey,” had lived a life in which penance found no place? Therefore, after His baptism by St. John in the Jordan, He withdrew into the desert wastes and for “forty days and forty nights” He tasted neither food nor drink. The years of His public life also were filled with penitential labors. All the day He worked for His people and the nights He spent in prayer. His lot in life could have been so different; but He chose suffering as his portion, as St. Paul testifies : “Having joy set before him, He endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. xii. 2). His test of a true follower is: “Can you drink of the chalice that I shall drink?” (Matt. xx. 22).

Once when our Lord had foretold His approaching passion, St. Peter said: “Lord, be it far from Thee, this shall not be unto Thee.” Who, turning to Peter, said: “Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savorest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” Then Jesus said to His disciples: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” [Matt. xvi. 22). On another occasion Christ said: “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke xiii. 3). Not only did our divine Lord insist upon penance in general, but He wished that particular form of penance, known as “fasting,” to be practiced under the New Law: “The days will come,” He said, “when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast” (Matt. ix. 14). Such was the teaching and example of Christ. What, my dear brethren, was the result? When the Apostles went forth to win the pagan world, to convert it to Christ, they preached salvation through penance. St. Paul told the Corinthians that the message he brought from God to men was an unpopular one: “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the gentiles foolishness” (l Cor. i. 23). St. Peter, in his first epistle, wrote: “Christ, having suffered in the flesh, be ye armed with the same thought: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sins” (I Pet. iv. i).

INSTITUTION OF LENT

Many of the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church say that the Apostles decreed that the great solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal fast; and that, in remembrance of Christ’s fortydays’ fast in the desert, they instituted Lent. To begin with, there was no uniform way of observing it. But the faithful for forty days gave themselves to fasting and prayer in imitation of their Master. In the beginning, the Christians adopted the same customs of fasting as were prescribed in the Old Law, by which one meal only was allowed on fasting days, and that after sunset. This rule seems to have been strictly observed, and for the first eight centuries the one meal allowed was taken after Vespers. Moreover, abstinence from flesh meat was everywhere looked on as essential to fasting, and for many centuries even eggs and milk-meats were not allowed. In the ninth century we notice relaxations appearing in the ancient discipline. The one meal began to be taken at three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour of None, instead of after Vespers. In the tenth century this has become universal and has been allowed, but the hour of vespers is now also earlier and is still before the meal. At the close of the thirteenth century vespers and the fasting meal were at midday. When the repast was taken so early, it is not surprising to find that a “collation” was found necessary in the evening. The use of this word comes from the Rule of St. Benedict. There we find a distinction made between the fasts of the Church and the fasts of the Rule: On days of monastic fast the dinner was at three o’clock, the hour of None, instead of after Vespers. In the summer and autumn months, when the work in the fields was heavy and the heat fatiguing, the abbot was allowed to give to the monks a small measure of wine before Compline, during the reading of the “Conferences of Cassian.” Now the Latin word for “Conference” is “Collatio”; and from this name the evening refreshment on fasting days came to be called “Collation.” After the ninth century the use of meat during Lent began; at first only milk-meats, in the northern countries. Councils and Popes ever strove to keep the old austerity, but dispensations became necessary; dispensations became general customs, and customs were tacitly sanctioned, until in the seventeenth century the use of these meats seems to have become universal. Since the so-called Reformation, the history of the Church has been one long fight against laxity and self-indulgence. Even amongst those of the household of the faith, how little reverence remains for this holy season, and how little of the spirit of penance! We Catholics, my brethren, must not be influenced by the spirit of the world; it is our high vocation to be as a leaven of righteousness amongst men. We must set the example to a self-indulgent world of that penitential spirit which is the mark of the followers of Christ.

Although the history of Lent seems to be one of gradual relaxation, yet we must never forget that there is an unwritten history of strict observance and of generous self-denial. The relaxations were no revolt against the Cross, as was the case with Luther and his agents, who rejected all ancient discipline and gave men freedom for their inclinations. But as the rising tide, inch by inch, possesses itself of the whole beach, so the waves of luxury have ever risen higher and ever extended their conquests, till it seems as if they will engulf what little remains of the spirit of Christian self-denial. Can we then, my brethren, do without the barriers which the Church opposes to the advancing tide ? No, my brethren, we cannot! If we wish to keep alive in this corrupt world the true spirit of Jesus Christ, we must return to the simplicity and strictness of earlier days. The example of our forefathers, whose noble inheritance we now possess, must make us loyal to the Church’s laws of penance.

True penance, my brethren, does not consist merely in mortification of the body, but in that of the soul also. Sin is committed by the will, and therefore it is just that the will as well as the body should make atonement. Before bodily penance can be of any avail for sanctification, it must be accepted by the will. The effects of the lash upon a criminal is very different from those of a saint’s discipline. The former subdues the body, but makes the will rise in revolt, whilst the latter brings both body and soul to the feet of God. The Church, therefore, aims not only at subduing men’s bodies by her penitential laws, but she strives to fill their souls with the spirit of penance. This she does by means of her liturgy. She opens this holy season by sprinkling ashes upon the heads of the faithful. As Job sprinkled his flesh with ashes, and as King David, after sinning grievously, mingled ashes with his bread in order to appease God’s anger and indignation, so the Christian recalls his sins and humbles himself before God; he recalls that even though God has forgiven the sin, yet the punishment of sin, death, has yet to be endured. So he bows his head that the ashes may be put upon it, and with humble heart he hears the sentence of death pronounced upon him: “Remember, O man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return!” Formerly it was the custom to approach barefooted to receive the ashes, and we read of a Pope of the twelfth century, surrounded by his cardinals, walking barefooted from the church of St. Anastasia to that of St. Sabina, where the Ash Wednesday ceremony was to be performed. The prayers which are used at the blessing of the ashes and during the Mass of the day, if said with fervor, will fill us with consciousness of sin, with the sense of our weakness and need of God’s help, with feelings of humility and with a vivid realization of the imminence of death. Everyone, my dear brethren, should have a Missal and carefully follow the beautiful words of the liturgy in order to acquire the sentiments of heart suited to this season.

In order that she may still more impress us, the Church banishes from her services all the pomp by which she loves to honor God, and all signs of joy. The eye sees on every side signs of penance; the ministers in the sanctuary are clad in somber purple; there are no flowers upon the altar. The ear hears no longer the joyous Alleluia, or the hymn of the Angels’ choir, the Gloria in Excelsis, or the glad tones of the organ. At the conclusion of the great liturgy of the Mass, the deacon no longer dismisses the people with the words “Ite, Missa est,” but he says, “Benedicamus Domino,,” “Let us bless the Lord,” as if to encourage the people to persevere in prayer even when not present at the sacred mysteries.

On the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Church allows a ray of joy to pierce the gloom, in order to encourage her children to persevere. This is called “Laetare” Sunday, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass. Flowers appear upon the altar, the organ is once more heard, and rose-colored vestments may be used. The note of joy and hope sounds through all the words of this day’s liturgy. The Sunday ends, and the clouds close over once more, and we are again sitting clothed with sackcloth and ashes, bemoaning our sins and appeasing the anger of our injured God.

THE PASSION

Up to this point, my brethren, in order to rouse in us sentiments of contrition and humility, the Church has turned our eyes upon our own sinfulness, and upon death the punishment for sin. She has tried to wring from our stony hearts tears of compunction and humiliation by the contemplation of our own misery. She now turns our eyes upon Jesus Christ, the Victim of Sin; she recalls to us in all their details the sufferings He underwent to atone for our sins. During the closing two weeks of Lent, which are known as Passion-tide, the great drama of redemption is set before us as if it were actually happening. By this annual commemoration of the Sacred Passion, she gives to us a higher and purer motive for doing penance for our sins. She would have us “think diligently upon Him who endureth such opposition from sinners against Himself, that we be not wearied, fainting in our minds. For we have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin” (Heb. xii. 2-4). What could make us more ready to run to the fight proposed to us than the example of that Innocent Victim, who came “to reconcile all things unto God, making peace through the blood of the Cross?” (Col. 1. 20). By the liturgy of Passion-tide the Church tries to create in us the “same mind as was in the Lord Jesus,” so that, as He willed to suffer and die to save us, we on our part may generously undergo that penitential crucifixion of our lower natures which God demands of us before He will receive us. There could be no more vivid meditation on the Sacred Passion than the liturgy of Holy Week. The original tragedy is reenacted for us, and to those who devoutly follow the steps of our suffering Lord the week is one continuous soul-moving contemplation.

On Palm Sunday we accompany Jesus from Bethania to Jerusalem. We join the shouting throngs which greet Him as the Messias. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. O, King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest.” We take palms in our hands, and with psalm and antiphon accompany Jesus in His triumph and hail Him as the “King of Israel.”

The ceremony is divided into three parts. The first is the blessing of the palms, and the prayers used are beautiful and instructive. The palms are distributed and should be kept by the faithful during the year for a protection to their persons and their dwellings. The second part is the procession. The priest represents Christ, and the palm branches are carried in memory of those which the people bore in their hands and threw down before our Saviour when He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On the return of the procession you will notice, my brethren, that the church door is locked and the procession cannot enter; voices are heard singing within the church, and those outside take up the refrain. The locked door is a symbol of the gates of heaven shut against sinful men; the voices are those of the angels who greet the Redeemer: “Glory, praise, and honor be to Thee, O Christ, our King, our Saviour!” The door is struck with the cross and opens, representing the opening of heaven to men by the victory of the Cross.

Though this is a day of triumph, yet during the Mass, the third part of the ceremony, the account of the Passion from St. Matthew’s gospel is read. This reminds us of the fickleness of the Jews, who will in a few days clamor for their King’s life-blood. On Tuesday and Wednesday the Passion is read from the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke.

On Maundy Thursday all the touching circumstances of the Last Supper and the institution of the Blessed Sacrament are reproduced in a most striking and moving form. To honor the Blessed Sacrament, Mass is celebrated with all possible splendor. The color of the vestments is white, the altar is decorated, and with joyous ringing of bells and with the glad tones of the organ the Angelic Hymn, Gloria in excelsis, is sung. When this is finished the bells and the organ are once more silent. The Mass goes on as usual, but we may notice one significant omission: the Kiss of Peace is not given, out of detestation for the crime of Judas who, on this day, profaned this sign of friendship. Throughout the world loving souls will gather round the altar to receive their paschal Communion on this day, making some reparation to Jesus for the treachery of which He was the victim.

The service of Good Friday is most realistic. During the first part of the service lessons from the prophets are read which refer to the Passion, and then the account of the Passion itself is read from St. John’s gospel. Prayers follow, in which the Church, joining herself to Jesus upon the Cross, intercedes for the necessities of the whole world. The Celebrant now takes off his chasuble and holds aloft the cross for the veneration of the people. Unveiling the upper part of the cross, he sings: “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.” Then both priest and people, kneeling, sing “Come let us adore.”

Unveiling the right arm of the cross and raising his voice, the priest once more sings the salutation of the cross and holds it up for the veneration of the faithful; and still a third time is this repeated, when the cross is completely uncovered. The people then advance and kiss the feet of the crucifix, whilst the choir sings the touching “reproaches.” On this day so vivid is the remembrance of the sacrifice of Calvary that the Church will not permit the renewal of it by consecration. On Maundy Thursday two Hosts were consecrated, one being consumed by the priest and the second kept at the “altar of repose.” Today the Sacred Host is brought in solemn procession to the High Altar, and during the Mass of the “Pre-sanctified,” which has no consecration and differs in many ways from the ordinary Mass, the Host is received by the Celebrant. Vespers follow immediately, and on their completion the altars are stripped and the church is left desolate. In former days the faithful spent Holy Saturday in mourning for their Lord, who lay in the tomb awaiting His resurrection. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was not offered up, not even a Mass of the Presanctified. But since the eleventh century the character of the day has changed: it is the precursor of Easter, and the Mass has come to be considered an anticipation of Sunday and of our Lord’s Resurrection rather than the sacrifice of Holy Saturday, when His mangled body lay in the tomb. It it therefore a part of the feast of Easter, and its liturgy does not come within the scope of our subject.

It is impossible to speak adequately here of the liturgy of this great week. I have sketched for you, my brethren, in outline only, some of the ceremonies. By devoutly following the liturgy we are united to our suffering Lord, our hard hearts are broken by the dread words of the prophets and of David. We hear Jesus Himself disclosing His anguish of soul, the Church of God denouncing the deicides, the ruin of Jerusalem foretold. We have wounded the Sacred Heart by our sins, we have crucified our Saviour and we must weep in humility and penance if we would escape the sentence of condemnation.

INFLUENCE OF THE LITURGY

And this, my dear brethren, was the spirit of more fervent days. In earlier times the whole Christian world gave itself up to this spirit of penance. It was to those ages so full of faith, the “great week,” or the “painful week.” We read of fervent souls pushing their fasting to the utmost limits of human endurance. We are told that some would fast the whole week, others for two, three, or four consecutive days, and it was the common practice to abstain from food from the evening of Maundy Thursday till Easter Sunday morning. All work was suspended, the people mocked to the churches and followed with loving hearts and tearful eyes each step of their suffering Lord as set forth in the liturgy. The prisons were flung open, slaves were freed, abundant alms were given to the poor, and war and quarrels were forgotten.

What an immense influence upon society the liturgical life of the Church and her penitential discipline must have had. Alas, my brethren, the world has in its foolish pride and self-sufficiency swept aside as “out-of-date” all national customs springing from this active remembrance of the Incarnation. The “Reign of Christ,” which was universal at these solemn times, has been abolished. Christ is dethroned and the idol of false “Liberty” is raised up in His place. Men used to do penance for their sins, to weep over the wounds of their Saviour and strengthen themselves against their proud and sensual temptations. Now men withdraw all barriers and allow the flood of human wickedness to devastate the world. What can save modern society, my brethren, except the salutary discipline of penance imposed by the Church, and the humility of heart and remembrance of the Redeemer taught by her liturgy?

CONCLUSION

Let us, therefore, my dear brethren, be encouraged generously to undergo the salutary penance of this holy season. We shall gain the proper dispositions of soul by keeping close to Jesus Christ, and by living the life of the Church, thinking her thoughts, using her words, and filling our hearts with her sentiments; and these we shall find in her liturgy. If this labor of the purification of the soul is painful, we must remember that “God chastiseth every son that He receiveth,” and that we cannot share the glories of His Resurrection unless we follow Him in the days of His penance and His passion.

Fasting and Abstinence

During this Holy Season of Lent, a time of fasting and abstinence, we would do well to read the words of Archbishop Lefebvre on this salutary practice.  Long forgotten, few remember that an important part of the spiritual life is fasting in atonement for our sins, in a spirit of penitence yet what has Our Lady asked for in her apparitions? Penance, Penance, Penance.

My dear brethren,
According to an ancient and salutary tradition in the Church, on the occasion of the beginning of Lent, I address these words to you in order to encourage you to enter into this penitential season wholeheartedly, with the dispositions willed by the Church and to accomplish the purpose for which the Church prescribes it.

If I look in books from the early part of this century, I find that they indicate three purposes for which the Church has prescribed this penitential time:

► first, in order to curb the concupiscence of the flesh;
►then, to facilitate the elevation of our souls toward divine realities;
►finally, to make satisfaction for our sins.

Our Lord gave us the example during His life, here on earth: pray and do penance. However, Our Lord, being free from concupiscence and sin, did penance and made satisfaction for our sins, thus showing us that our penance may be beneficial not only for ourselves but also for others. Pray and do penance. Do penance in order to pray better, in order to draw closer to Almighty God. This is what all the saints have done, and this is that of which all the messages of the Blessed Virgin remind us.

Would we dare to say that this necessity is less important in our day and age than in former times? On the contrary, we can and we must affirm that today, more than ever before, prayer and penance are necessary because everything possible has been done to diminish and denigrate these two fundamental elements of Christian life.

Never before has the world sought to satisfy – without any limit, the disordered instincts of the flesh, even to the point of the murder of millions of innocent, unborn children. One would come to believe that society has no other reason for existence except to give the greatest material standard of living to all men in order that they should not be deprived of material goods.

Thus we can see that such a society would be opposed to what the Church prescribes. In these times, when even Churchmen align themselves with the spirit of this world, we witness the disappearance of prayer and penance -particularly in their character of reparation for sins and obtaining pardon for faults. Few there are today who love to recite Psalm 50, the Miserere, and who say with the psalmist, Peccatum meum contra me est semper – “My sin is always before me.” How can a Christian remove the thought of sin if the image of the crucifix is always before his eyes?

At the Council the bishops requested such a diminution of fast and abstinence that the prescriptions have practically disappeared. We must recognize the fact that this disappearance is a consequence of the ecumenical and Protestant spirit which denies the necessity of our participation for the application of the merits of Our Lord to each one of us for the remission of our sins and the restoration of our divine affiliation [i.e., our character as adoptive sons of God].

In the past the commandments of the Church provided for:
► an obligatory fast on all days of Lent with the exception of Sundays, for the three ember days and for many vigils;
► abstinence was for all Fridays of the year, the Saturdays of Lent and, in numerous dioceses, all the Saturdays of the year.

What remains of these prescriptions-the fast for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence for Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

One wonders at the motives for such a drastic diminution. Who are obliged to observe the fast –adults from age 21 to 60. And who are obliged to observe abstinence? – all the faithful from the age of 7 years.

What does fasting mean? To fast means to take only one (full) meal a day to which one may add two collations (or small meals), one in the morning, one in the evening which, when combined, do not equal a full meal.

What is meant by abstinence? By abstinence is meant that one abstains from meat.

The faithful who have a true spirit of faith and who profoundly understand the motives of the church which have been mentioned above, will wholeheartedly accomplish not only the light prescriptions of today but, entering into the spirit of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will endeavor to make reparation for the sins which they have committed and for the sins of their family, their neighbors, friends and fellow citizens.

It is for this reason that they will add to the actual prescriptions. These additional penances might be to fast for all Fridays of Lent, abstinence from all alcoholic beverages, abstinence from television, or other similar sacrifices. They will make an effort to pray more, to assist more frequently at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to recite the Rosary, and not to miss evening prayers with the family. They will detach themselves from their superfluous material goods in order to aid the seminaries, help establish schools, help their priests adequately furnish the chapels and to help establish novitiates for nuns and brothers.

The prescriptions of the Church do not concern fast and abstinence alone but the obligation of the Paschal Communion (Easter Duty) as well.

Here is what the Vicar of the Diocese of Sion, in Switzerland, recommended to the faithful of that diocese on 20 February 1919:

1. During Lent, the pastors will have the Stations of the Cross twice a week; one day for the children of the schools and another day for the other parishioners. After the Stations of the Cross, they will recite the Litany of the Sacred Heart.
2. During Passion Week, which is to say, the week before Palm Sunday, there will be a Triduum in all parish churches, Instruction, Litany of the Sacred Heart in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction. In these instructions the pastors will simply and clearly remind their parishioners of the principal conditions to receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily.
3. The time during which one may fulfill the Easter Duty has been set for all parishes from Passion Sunday to the first Sunday after Easter.

Why should these directives no longer be useful today? Let us profit from this salutary time during the course of which Our Lord is accustomed to dispense grace abundantly. Let us not imitate the foolish virgins who having no oil in their lamps found the door of the bridegroom’s house closed and this terrible response: Nescio vos – “I know you not.”

Blessed are they who have the spirit of poverty for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of poverty means the spirit of detachment from things of this world.

Blessed are they who weep for they shall be consoled. Let us think of Jesus in the Garden of Olives who wept for our sins. It is henceforth for us to weep for our sins and for those of our brethren.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness for they shall be satisfied. Holiness-sanctity is attained by means of the Cross, penance and sacrifice. If we truly seek perfection then we must follow the Way of the Cross.

May we, during this Lenten Season, hear the call of Jesus and Mary and engage ourselves to follow them in this crusade of prayer and penance.

May our prayers, our supplications, and our sacrifices obtain from heaven the grace that those in places of responsibility in the Church return to her true and holy traditions, which is the only solution to revive and reflourish the institutions of the Church again.

Let us love to recite the conclusion of the Te Deum: In te Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum” – In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped. I will not be confounded in eternity.”*

+ Marcel Lefebvre
(Rickenbach, Switzerland, 14 February 1982)

Second Sunday of Lent

Fr. Goffine’s Instruction for the Second Sunday of Lent:

The Introit of this day’s Mass, which begins with the word Reminiscere, from which this Sunday derives its name, is the prayer of a soul begging God’s assistance, that she may sin no more:

INTROIT Remember, O Lord, Thy compassions and Thy mercies, which are from the beginning, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. To Thee O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed. (Ps. 24) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT O God, who seest us to be destitute of strength, keep us both inwardly and outwardly; that we may be defended in the body from all adversities, and cleansed in our mind from all evil thoughts. Through our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE (I Thess. 4:1-7) Brethren, we pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk, and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man over-reach nor circumvent his brother in business; because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification; in Christ Jesus our Lord.

EXPLANATION From these words we see, that the great Teacher of Nations has carefully showed the Christian congregations the sanctity of their calling, as he labored to lead them from the blindness and abominations of heathenism.

ASPIRATION Grant, O God, that I may live an honest, chaste and holy life in accordance with my vocation, and go not after earthly and carnal pleasures, as the heathens who know Thee not.

GOSPEL (Matt. 17:1-9) At that time, Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as snow. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man: till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

Why was Christ transfigured in the presence of His apostles on Mt. Thabor?

To permit them to see the glorious majesty of His divinity; to guard them from doubts when they should afterwards see Him die on Mount Calvary; to encourage the disciples and all the faithful to be patient in all crosses and afflictions, for the bodies of the just at the resurrection will be made like the glorified body of Christ. (Phil. 3:21)

Why did Moses and Elias appear there?

That they might testify, that Jesus was really the Savior announced by the law and the prophets, and that the law and the prophets received fulfillment in Him. The former was represented by Moses, the latter by Elias.

Why, did Peter wish to build three tabernacles there?

The delightful sweetness of the apparition in which Jesus made him participator so enraptured him, that he knew not what he said, not considering that glory can be attained only through sufferings, the crown through fight, joy through crosses and afflictions.

ASPIRATION Draw us, O Jesus, to Thee, that by the contemplation of the sacred joys awaiting us, we, by Thy grace, may not be defeated in the spiritual contest, but conquer through Thy grace and carry off the unfading crown of victory.

Death

 

A meditation for Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas:

 

By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death.–Rom. v. 12. 

 

  1. If for some wrongdoing a man is deprived of some benefit once given to him, that he should lack that benefit is the punishment of his sin.
Now in man’s first creation he was divinely endowed with this advantage that, so long as his mind remained subject to God, the lower powers of his soul were subjected to the reason and the body was subjected to the soul.

But because by sin man’s mind moved away from its subjection to God, it followed that the lower parts of his mind ceased to be wholly subjected to the reason. From this there followed such a rebellion of the bodily inclination against the reason, that the body was no longer wholly subject to the soul.

Whence followed death and all the bodily defects. For life and wholeness of body are bound up with this, that the body is wholly subject to the soul, as a thing which can be made perfect is subject to that which makes it perfect. So it comes about that, conversely, there are such things as death, sickness and every other bodily defect, for such misfortunes are bound up with an incomplete subjection of body to soul.

2. The rational soul is of its nature immortal, and therefore death is not natural to man in so far as man has a soul. It is natural to his body, for the body, since it is formed of things contrary to each other in nature, is necessarily liable to corruption, and it is in this respect that death is natural to man.

But God who fashioned man is all powerful. And hence, by an advantage conferred on the first man, He took away that necessity of dying which was bound up with the matter of which man was made. This advantage was however withdrawn through the sin of our first parents.

Death is then natural, if we consider the matter of which man is made and it is a penalty, inasmuch as it happens through the loss of the privilege whereby man was preserved from dying.

3. Sin–original sin and actual sin–is taken away by Christ, that is to say, by Him who is also the remover of all bodily defects. He shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom. viii. II).

But, according to the order appointed by a wisdom that is divine, it is at the time which best suits that Christ takes away both the one and the other, i.e., both sin and bodily defects.

Now it is only right that, before we arrive at that glory of impassibility and immortality which began in Christ, and which was acquired for us through Christ, we should be shaped after the pattern of Christ’s sufferings. It is then only right that Christ’s liability to suffer should remain in us too for a time, as a means of our coming to the impassibility of glory in the way He himself came to it.

 

The Church is our Mother

“Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, her as a Mother; Him as a Master, her as His Handmaid; for we are the children of the Handmaid herself. But this marriage is held together by a great love; no one offends the one and gains favor with the other… What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, when He will vindicate your offended Mother? What does it profit you to confess the Lord, to honor God, to preach Him, to acknowledge His Son, to confess the Son seated at the right hand of the Father, if you blaspheme His Church… Cling, then, beloved, cling all with one mind to God our Father and to the Church our Mother.”   ~St. Augustine