Category Archives: Lent

Lent – The badge of Christian warfare

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The Church was founded to guide, guard & give life to the weak, while its detractors are left confounded in the supernaturality of an institution that will not fail. What wonder is it that the love of God is so great, to bring us to a state of grace, so that we would be able to brace for many a trial and tribulation brought on to us by Satan, the demon that hates us for being citizens of the kingdom and nation of God?  As we journey through Lent, we use the weapons of the Church which are our badge of Christian warfare – the Sacraments and devotions – to fight Satan and our evil inclinations.

“The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, of private woe.”  ~Pope Benedict XIV, 1741 A.D

Pray and do penance so that you all do not perish.

~Damsel of the Faith

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First Sunday of Lent

Instruction for the First Sunday of this Penitential Season. Our prayer & penance is underway, as we trudge along the Via Dolorosa.

Damsel of the Faith

Fr. Goffine’s instruction for the First Sunday of Lent:

INVOCABIT – This Sunday is called Invocabit, because the Introit of the Mass begins with this word, which is taken from the ninetieth psalm, wherein we are urged to confidence in God, who willingly hears the prayer of the penitent:

INTROIT –  He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; I will deliver him, and glorify him; I will fill him with length of days. (Ps. 90:15-16) He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most high shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. (Ps. 90:1) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT – O God who dost purify Thy Church by the yearly fast of Lent; grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by abstinence, by good works we may secure. Through our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE – (II…

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He fasted for our salvation

 

Fasting can save a people. A nation. By prayer & fasting, the people of Nineveh were saved from God’s wrath on their city. Esther fasted to save her people from destruction. Casting out today’s demons can only be done through prayer and fasting – penance, penance, penance. Our Lord Jesus Christ fasted in the desert for 40 days, doing penance to His own body, for our sake, to atone for the sins we all would commit until the end of time. Christ’s life was a continual martyrdom, culminating in the Crucifixion.

Penance to the body shows our willingness to atone for our sins so that the God of Justice will have mercy for the crimes committed against Him. By dying to self, we learn to live for Him, the reason that we were born into the world – to know, love, serve and live for God, in the battleground of this earthly life. Win or lose the battle is the ultimate choice.

Lent is the time given us by the Church to prove our love for God, making reparation for our sins by hearing Mass, received Holy Communion in the state of grace, making use of the Sacrament of Comfession by making a good Comfession of our life, practicing various devotions of the Lenten season, such as the stations of the cross, doing violence to our body by fasting in whatever way we are able, abstaining from meat on the days appointed, all of this in joyful anticipation of the Resurrection of Our Lord.

To begin this Lenten season, I post a vision from Ven. Mary of Agreda, found in the Mystical City of God. She recounts details of Our Lord’s tempting in the desert and even offers an unknown insight, namely that Our Lady joined with Jesus in fasting for 40 days back home. A beautiful meditation, that I highly recommend. In closing, I wish everyone a blessed and fruitful Lent!

~Damsel of the Faith

“Without delay Christ our Lord pursued his journey from the Jordan to the desert after his Baptism. Only his holy angels attended and accompanied Him, serving and worshipping Him, singing the divine praises on account of what He was now about to undertake for the salvation of mankind. He came to the place chosen by Him for his fast: a desert spot among bare and beetling rocks, where there was also a cavern much concealed. Here He halted, choosing it for his habitation during the days of his fast (Matth. 4, 1). In deepest humility He prostrated Himself upon the ground which was always the prelude of his prayer and that of his most blessed Mother. He praised the eternal Father and gave Him thanks for the works of his divine right hand and for having according to his pleasure afforded Him this retirement. In a suitable manner He thanked even this desert for accepting his presence and keeping Him hidden from the world during the time He was to spend there. He continued his prayers prostrate in the form of a cross, this was his most frequent occupation in the desert; for in this manner He often prayed to the eternal Father for the salvation of men.

After the Savior had begun his fast He persevered therein without eating anything for forty days, offering his fast to the eternal Father as a satisfaction for the disorder and sins to which men are drawn by the so vile and debasing, yet so common and even esteemed vice of gluttony. Just as our Lord overcame this vice so He also vanquished all the rest, and He made recompense to the eternal Judge and supreme Legislator for the injuries perpetrated through these vices by men. According to the enlightenment vouchsafed to me, our Savior, in order to assume the office of Preacher and Teacher and to become our Mediator and Redeemer before the Father, thus vanquished all the vices of mortals and He satisfied the offenses committed through them by the exercises of the virtues contrary to them, just as He did in regard to gluttony. Although He continued this exercise during all his life with the most ardent charity, yet during his fast He directed in a special manner all his efforts toward this purpose.

A loving Father, whose sons have committed great crimes for which they are to endure the most horrible punishment, sacrifices all his possessions in order ward off their impending fate: so our most loving Father and Brother, Jesus Christ, wished to pay our debts. In satisfaction for our pride He offered his profound humility; for our avarice, his voluntary poverty and total privation of all that was his; for our base and lustful inclinations, his penance and austerity; for our hastiness and vengeful anger, his meekness and charity toward his enemies; for our negligence and laziness, his ceaseless labors; for our deceitfulness and our envy, his candid and upright sincerity and truthfulness and the sweetness of his loving interactions. In this manner He continued to appease the just Judge and solicited pardon for us disobedient and bastard children; and He not only obtained this pardon for them, but He merited for them new graces and favors, so that they might make themselves worthy of his company and of the vision of his Father and his own inheritance for all eternity. Though He could have obtained all this for us by the most insignificant of his works; yet He acted not like we. He demonstrated his love so abundantly, that our ingratitude and hardness of heart will have no excuse.

In order to keep informed of the doings of our Savior the most blessed Mary needed no other assistance than her continual visions and revelations; but in addition to all these, She made use of the service of her holy angels, whom She sent to her divine Son. The Lord himself thus ordered it, in order that, by means of these faithful messengers, both He and She might rejoice in the sentiments and thoughts of their inmost hearts faithfully rehearsed by these celestial messengers; and thus They each heard the very same words as uttered by Each, although both Son and Mother already knew them in another way. As soon as the great Lady understood that our Redeemer was on the way to the desert to fulfill his intention, She locked the doors of her dwelling, without letting any one know of her presence; and her retirement during the time of our Lord’s fast was so complete, that her neighbors thought that She had left with her divine Son. She entered into her oratory and remained there for forty days and nights without ever leaving it and without eating anything, just as She knew was done by her most holy Son. Both of them observed the same course of rigorous fasting. In all his prayers and exercises, his prostrations and genuflections She followed our Savior, not omitting any of them; moreover She performed them just at the same time; for, leaving aside all other occupations, She thus profited by the information obtained from the angels and by that other knowledge, which I have already described. Whether He was present or not, She knew the interior operations of the soul of Christ. All his bodily movements, which She had been wont to perceive with her own senses, She now knew by intellectual vision or through her holy angels.

While the Savior was in the desert He made every day three hundred genuflections, which also was done by our Queen Mary in her oratory; the other portion of her time She spent in composing hymns with the angels, as I have said in the last chapter. Thus imitating Christ the Lord, the Holy Queen co–operated with Him in all his prayers and petitions, gaining the same victories over the vices, and on her part proportionately satisfying for them by her virtues and her exertions. Thus it happened, that, while Christ as our Redeemer gained for us so many blessings and abundantly paid all our debts, most holy Mary, as his Helper and our Mother, lent us her merciful intercession and became our Mediatrix to the fullest extent possible to a mere creature.

Christ the Savior permitted Lucifer to remain under the false impression, that He was a mere human creature though very holy and just; He wished to raise his courage and malice for the contest, for such is the effect of any advantages espied by the devil in his attacks upon the victims of his temptations. Rousing his courage by his own arrogance, he began this battle in the wilderness with greater prowess and fierceness than the demons ever exhibited in their battles with men. Lucifer and his satellites strained all their power and malice, lashing themselves into fury against the superior strength which they soon found in Christ our Lord. Yet our Savior tempered all his actions with divine wisdom and goodness, and in justice and equity concealed the secret source of his infinite power, exhibiting just so much as would suffice to prove Him to be a man so far advanced in holiness as to be able to gain these victories against the infernal foes. In order to begin the battle as man, He directed a prayer to the eternal Father from his inmost soul, to which the intelligence of the demon could not penetrate, saying: “My Father and eternal God, I now enter into battle with the enemy in order to crush his power and humble his pride and his malice against my beloved souls. For thy glory, and for the benefit of souls I submit to the daring presumption of Lucifer. I wish thereby to crush his head in order that when mortals are attacked by his temptations without their fault, they may find his arrogance already broken. I beseech Thee, my Father, to remember my battle and victory in favor of mortals assailed by the common enemy. Strengthen their weakness through my triumph, let them obtain victory; let them be encouraged by my example, and let them learn from Me how to resist and overcome their enemies.

During this battle the holy angels that attended upon Christ were hidden from the sight of Lucifer, in order that he might not begin to understand and suspect the divine power of our Savior. The holy spirits gave glory and praise to the Father and the Holy Ghost, who rejoiced in the works of the incarnate Word. The most blessed Virgin also from her oratory witnessed the battle in the manner to be described below. The temptation of Christ began on the thirty–fifth day of his fast in the desert, and lasted to the end of the fast, as related by the Evangelists. Lucifer assumed the shape of a man and presented himself before the Lord as a stranger, who had never seen or known Him before. He clothed himself in refulgent light, like that of an angel, and conjecturing that the Lord after his long fast must be suffering great hunger, he said to Him: “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread (Matth. 4, 3). By thus cunningly resting his advice on the supposition of his being the Son of God, the demon sought some information on what was giving him the greatest concern. But the Savior of the world answered only in these few words: “Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from mouth of God.”

Lucifer found himself repulsed by the force or answer and by the hidden power which accompanied it; but he wished to show no weakness, nor desist from the contest. The Lord allowed the demon to continue in his temptation and for this purpose permitted Himself carried by the devil bodily to Jerusalem and to be placed on the pinnacle of the temple. Here the Lord could see multitudes of people, though He himself was not seen by anybody. Lucifer tried to arouse in the Lord, the vain desire of casting Himself down from this high place, so that the crowds of men, seeing Him unhurt, might proclaim Him as a great and wonderful man of God. Again using the words of the holy Scriptures, he said to Him: “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down, for it is written (Ps. 90, 11): that He hath given his angels charge over Thee, and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matth. 4, 6). The heavenly spirits who accompanied their King, were full of wonder that He should permit Lucifer to carry Him bodily in his hands, solely for the benefit of mortal man. With the prince of darkness were gathered innumerable demons; for on that occasion hell was almost emptied of its inhabitants in order to furnish assistance for this enterprise. The Author of wisdom answered: “It is also written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deut. 6, 16). While giving these answers the Redeemer of the world exhibited a matchless meekness, profoundest humility, and a majesty so superior to all the attempts of satan, as was of itself alone sufficient to crush Lucifer’s arrogance and to cause him torments and confusion never felt before.

Being thus foiled, he attacked our Lord in still another way, seeking to rouse his ambition by offering Him some share in his dominion. For this purpose he took the Lord upon a high mount, from whence could be seen many lands, and said to Him with perfidious daring: “All these will I give to Thee, if falling down, Thou wilt adore me” (Matth. 4, 9). Exorbitant boldness, and more than insane madness and perfidy! Offering to the Lord what he did not possess, nor ever could give, since the earth, the stars, the kingdoms, principalities, riches and treasures, all belong to the Lord, and He alone can give or withhold them when it serves and pleases Him! Never can Lucifer give anything, even not of the things of the earth, and therefore all his promises are false. The King and Lord answered with imperial majesty: “Begone, satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.” By this command, “Begone satan,” Christ the Redeemer took away from Lucifer permission further to tempt Him, and hurled him and all his legions into the deepest abysses of hell. There they found themselves entirely crushed and buried in its deepest caverns, unable to move for three days. When they were permitted again to rise, seeing themselves thus vanquished and annihilated, they began to doubt whether He, who had so overwhelmed them, might not be the incarnate Son of God. In this doubt and uncertainty they remained, without ever being able to come to certain conviction until the death of the Savior. Lucifer was overcome by hellish wrath at his defeat and was almost consumed in his fury.

Our divine Conqueror Christ then sang hymns of praise and thanks to the eternal Father for having given Him this triumph over the common enemy of God and man; and amid the triumphal songs of a multitude of angels, He was borne back to the desert. They carried Him in their hands, although He had not need of their help, since He could make use of his own divine power; but this service of the angels was due to Him in recompense for enduring the audacity of Lucifer in carrying to the pinnacle of the temple and to the mountaintop the sacred humanity of Christ, in which dwelt substantially and truly the Divinity itself. It would never have entered into the thoughts of man, that the Lord should give such a permission to satan, if it had been made known to us in the Gospels.”

~Taken from The Mystical City of God (online)

Death

Lent is a good time to meditate on our death and the four last things.

Damsel of the Faith

A sermon from St. John Vianney during this Holy Season of Lent:

A day will come, perhaps it is not far off, when we must bid adieu to life, adieu to the world, adieu to our relations, adieu to our friends. When shall we return, my children? Never. We appear upon this earth, we disappear, and we return no more; our poor body, that we take such care of, goes away into dust, and our soul, all trembling, goes to appear before the good God.

When we quit this world, where we shall appear no more, when our last breath of life escapes, and we say our last adieu, we shall wish to have passed our life in solitude, in the depths of a desert, far from the world and its pleasures. We have these examples of repentance before our eyes every day, my children, and we remain always the…

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The Cross – our hope and salvation

Remember that the Crucifixion of Christ bought our salvation. Remember that there is no Resurrection without a Good Friday.

“Let no one, my brethren, blush at those sacred and adorable marks of our redemption. The cross of Jesus Christ is the source of every blessing; it is through that we live, through that, we are what we are. Let us carry the cross of Jesus, and adorn ourselves with so glorious a crown. It is the zeal and fulfillment of everything which appertains to our salvation. If we are regenerated in the waters of baptism, the cross is there present; if we approach the table of the Lord to receive His holy Body, it there appears; if we receive the imposition of hands to consecrate us as ministers of God, it is still there; in fact, we see in everything that adorable sign which is, at once, the cause and emblem of our victory. We have it in our houses, we hang it and paint it on our walls, we engrave it on our doors, and we should ever carry it in our hearts; for the cross is a sacred monument which recalls to memory the work of our salvation, the regaining of our ancient freedom, and the infinite mercy of Jesus Christ. When, then, you make the sign of the cross on the forehead, arm yourself with a saintly boldness, and reinstall your soul in its old liberty; for you are not ignorant that the cross is a prize beyond all price. Consider what is the price given for your ransom, and you will never more be slave to any man on earth. This reward and ransom is the cross. You should not, then, carelessly make the sign of the forehead, but you should impress it on your heart with the love of a fervent faith! Nothing impure will dare to molest you on seeing the weapon which overcometh all things. Be not, then, ashamed of the cross, in order that Jesus Christ be not ashamed of you, when He will come, clothed in the Majesty of His glory, accompanied by this sign of our redemption, which will then, shine more brilliant than the sun. Engrave it in your heart; lovingly embrace that which procured the salvation of our souls; for it is the cross which has saved and converted all the world is that which has banished heresy and unbelief, which has reestablished truth, which has made a heaven on earth, and which has transformed men into angels. It is by means of the cross that the devils have ceased to appear formidable, and are now only to be despised; it is through that, that death is now no longer death, but only a long sleep. In fine, it is through the cross that all our enemies have been conquered. If you find, then, any one who says, ‘What! you worship the cross?’ answer him with a tone of voice that betokens firmness, Yes, I do worship it, and shall never cease to do so. If he laugh at you, pity him, and shed tears for his blindness; and say boldly, We protest before heaven and earth that our glory is in the cross, that it is the source of all our blessings, our every hope, and that it is that which has crowned every saint.”   ~St. John Chrysostom

The Passiontide and Holy Week

Meditation from Fr. Gueranger:

The holy liturgy is rich in mystery during these days of the Church’s celebrating the anniversaries of so many wonderful events; but as the principal part of these mysteries is embodied in the rites and ceremonies of the respective days, we shall give our explanations according as the occasion presents itself. Our object in the present chapter, is to say a few words respecting the general character of the mysteries of these two weeks.

We have nothing to add to the explanation, already given in our Lent, on the mystery of forty. The holy season of expiation continues its course until the fast of sinful man has imitated, in its duration, that observed by the Man-God in the desert. The army of Christ’s faithful children is still fighting against the invisible enemies of man’s salvation; they are still vested in their spiritual armour, and, aided by the angels of light, they are struggling hand to hand with the spirits of darkness, by compunction of heart and by mortification of the flesh.

As we have already observed, there are three objects which principally engage the thoughts of the Church during Lent. The Passion of our Redeemer, which we have felt to be coming nearer to us each week; the preparation of the catechumens for Baptism, which is to be administered to them on Easter eve; the reconciliation of the public penitents, who are to be readmitted into the Church on the Thursday, the day of the Last Supper. Each of these three objects engages more and more the attention of the Church, the nearer she approaches the time of their celebration.

The miracle performed by our Saviour almost at the very gates of Jerusalem, by which He restored Lazarus to life, has roused the fury of His enemies to the highest pitch of frenzy. The people’s enthusiasm has been excited by seeing Him, Who had been four days in the grave, walking in the streets of their city. They ask each other if the Messias, when He comes, can work greater wonders than these done by Jesus, and whether they ought not at once to receive this Jesus as the Messias, and sing their Hosanna to Him, for He is the Son of David. They cannot contain their feelings: Jesus enters Jerusalem, and they welcome Him as their King. The high priests and princes of the people are alarmed at this demonstration of feeling; they have no time to lose; they are resolved to destroy Jesus. We are going to assist at their impious conspiracy: the Blood of the just Man is to be sold, and the price put on it is thirty silver pieces. The divine Victim, betrayed by one of His disciples, is to be judged, condemned, and crucified. Every circumstance of this awful tragedy is to be put before us by the liturgy, not merely in words, but with all the expressiveness of a sublime ceremonial.

The catechumens have but a few more days to wait for the fount that is to give them life. Each day their instruction becomes fuller; the figures of the old Law are being explained to them; and very little now remains for them to learn with regard to the mysteries of salvation. The Symbol of faith is soon to be delivered to them. Initiated into the glories and the humiliations of the Redeemer, they will await with the faithful the moment of His glorious Resurrection; and we shall accompany them with our prayers and hymns at that solemn hour, when, leaving the defilements of sin in the life-giving waters of the font, they shall come forth pure and radiant with innocence, be enriched with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and be fed with the divine flesh of the Lamb that liveth forever.

The reconciliation of the penitents, too, is close at hand. Clothed in sackcloth and ashes, they are continuing their work of expiation. The Church has still several passages from the sacred Scriptures to read to them, which, like those we have already heard during the last few weeks, will breathe consolation and refreshment to their souls. The near approach of the day when the Lamb is to be slain increases their hope, for they know that the Blood of this Lamb is of infinite worth, and can take away the sins of the whole world. Before the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, they will have recovered their lost innocence; their pardon will come in time to enable them, like the penitent prodigal, to join in the great Banquet of that Thursday, when Jesus will say to His guests: ‘With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.’ [St. Luke xxii. 15.]

Such are the sublime subjects which are about to be brought before us: but, at the same time, we shall see our holy mother the Church mourning, like a disconsolate widow, and sad beyond all human grief. Hitherto she has been weeping over the sins of her children; now she bewails the death of her divine Spouse. The joyous Alleluia has long since been hushed in her canticles; she is now going to suppress another expression, which seems too glad for a time like the present. Partially, at first unless it be the feast of a saint, as frequently happens during the first of these two weeks. The same exception is to be made in what follows, but entirely during the last three days, she is about to deny herself the use of that formula, which is so dear to her: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. There is an accent of jubilation in these words, which would still suit her grief and the mournfulness of the rest of her chants.

Her lessons, for the night Office, are taken from Jeremias, the prophet of lamentation above all others. The color of her vestments is the one she had on when she assembled us at the commencement of Lent to sprinkle us with ashes; but when the dreaded day of Good Friday comes, purple would not sufficiently express the depth of her grief; she will clothe herself in black, as men do when mourning the death of a fellow-mortal; for Jesus, her Spouse, is to be put to death on that day: the sins of mankind and the rigours of the divine justice are then to weigh Him down, and in all the realities of a last agony, He is to yield up His Soul to His Father.

The presentiment of that awful hour leads the afflicted mother to veil the image of her Jesus: the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear. The interpreters of the liturgy tell us that this ceremony of veiling the crucifix during Passiontide, expresses the humiliation to which our Saviour subjected Himself, of hiding Himself when the Jews threatened to stone Him, as is related in the Gospel of Passion Sunday. The Church begins this solemn rite with the Vespers of the Saturday before Passion Sunday. Thus it is that, in those years when the feast of our Lady’s Annunciation falls in Passion-week, the statue of Mary, the Mother of God, remains veiled, even on that very day when the Archangel greets her as being full of grace, and blessed among women.

Passion Sunday

Meditation from Fr. Gueranger on Passion Sunday:

Today, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.

The Holy Church begins her Night Office of this Sunday with these impressive words of the Royal Prophet. Formerly, the faithful considered it their duty to assist at the Night Office, at least on Sundays and Feasts; they would have grieved to have lost the grand teachings given by the Liturgy. Such fervour has long since died out; the assiduity at the Offices of the Church, which was the joy of our Catholic forefathers, has now become a thing of the past; and, even in countries which have not apostatised from the faith, the clergy have ceased to celebrate publicly Offices at which no one assisted. Excepting in Cathedral Churches and in Monasteries, the grand harmonious system of the Divine Praise has been abandoned, and the marvellous power of the Liturgy has no longer its full influence upon the Faithful.

This is our reason for drawing the attention of our readers to certain beauties of the Divine Office, which would otherwise be totally ignored. Thus, what can be more impressive than this solemn Invitatory of today’s Matins, which the Church takes from one of the psalms, and which she repeats on every Feria between this and Maundy Thursday?

She says: Today, if ye shall hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts! The sweet voice of your suffering Jesus now speaks to you, poor sinners! be not your own enemies by indifference and hardness of heart. The Son of God is about to give you the last and greatest proof of the love that brought him down from heaven; his Death is nigh at hand: men are preparing the wood for the immolation of the new Isaac: enter into yourselves, and let not your hearts, after being touched with grace, return to their former obduracy, for nothing could be more dangerous. The great anniversaries we are to celebrate have a renovating power for those souls that faithfully correspond with the grace which is offered them; but they increase insensibility in those who let them pass without working their conversion. Today, therefore, if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts!

During the preceding four weeks, we have noticed how the malice of Jesus’ enemies has been gradually increasing. His very presence irritates them; and it is evident, that any little circumstance will suffice to bring the deep and long nurtured hatred to a head. The kind and gentle manners of Jesus are drawing to Him all hearts that are simple and upright; at the same time, the humble life he leads, and the stern purity of his doctrines, are perpetual sources of vexation and anger, both to the proud Jew that looks forward to the Messias being a mighty conqueror, and to the Pharisee, who corrupts the Law of God, that he may make it the instrument of his own base passions. Still, Jesus goes on working miracles; His discourses are more than ever energetic; His prophecies foretell the fall of Jerusalem, and such a destruction of its famous Temple, that not a stone is to be left on stone. The doctors of the Law should, at least, reflect upon what they hear; they should examine these wonderful works, which render such strong testimony in favour of the Son of David, and they should consult those divine prophecies which, up to the present time, have been so literally fulfilled in His person. Alas! they themselves are about to carry them out to the very last iota. There is not a single outrage or suffering foretold by David and Isaias, as having to be put upon the Messias, which these blind men are not scheming to verify.

In them, therefore, was fulfilled that terrible saying: He that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come (St. Matth. xii. 32.). The Synagogue is nigh to a curse. Obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or to hear; she has deliberately perverted her judgment: she has extinguished within herself the light of the Holy Spirit; she will go deeper and deeper into evil, and at length fall into the abyss. This same lamentable conduct is but too often witnessed now-adays, in those sinners, who, by habitual resistance to the light, end by finding their happiness in sin. Neither should it surprise us, that we find in people of our own generation a resemblance to the murderers of our Jesus: the history of His Passion will reveal to us many sad secrets of the human heart and its perverse inclinations; for what happened in Jerusalem, happens also in every sinner’s heart. His heart, according to the saying of St. Paul, is a Calvary, where Jesus is crucified. There is the same ingratitude, the same blindness, the same wild madness, with this difference, that the sinner who is enlightened by faith, knows Him Whom he crucifies; whereas the Jews, as the same Apostle tells us, knew not the Lord of Glory (I. Cor. ii. 8.). Whilst, therefore, we listen to the Gospel, which relates the history of the Passion, let us turn the indignation we feel for the Jews against ourselves and our own sins: let us weep over the sufferings of our Victim, for our sins caused Him to suffer and die.

Everything around us urges us to mourn. The images of the Saints, the very crucifix on our Altar, are veiled from our sight. The Church is oppressed with grief. During the first four weeks of Lent, she compassionated her Jesus fasting in the desert; his coming Sufferings and Crucifixion and Death are what now fill her with anguish. We read in today’s Gospel, that the Jews threaten to stone the Son of God as a blasphemer: but his hour is not yet come. He is obliged to flee and hide himself. It is to express this deep humiliation, that the Church veils the Cross. A God hiding Himself, that he may evade the anger of men, what a mystery! Is it weakness? Is it, that he fears death? No, we shall soon see Him going out to meet His enemies: but, at present, He hides Himself from them, because all that had been prophesied regarding Him has not been fulfilled. Besides, His death is not to be by stoning; He is to die upon a Cross, the tree of malediction, which, from that time forward, is to be the Tree of Life. Let us humble ourselves, as we see the Creator of heaven and earth thus obliged to hide Himself from men, who are bent on His destruction! Let us go back, in thought, to the sad day of the first sin, when Adam and Eve hid themselves because a guilty conscience told them they were naked. Jesus is come to assure us of our being pardoned! and lo! He hides Himself, not because He is naked, He that is to the Saints the garb of holiness and immortality, but because He made Himself weak, that He might make us strong. Our First Parents sought to hide themselves from the sight of God; Jesus hides himself from the eye of men; but it will not be thus for ever. The day will come, when sinners, from whose anger He now flees, will pray to the mountains that they fall on them to shield them from His gaze; but their prayer will not be granted, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty (St. Matth. xxiv. 30).

This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the Church begins, on this day, to make the Sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. It is called also, Judica, from the first word of the Introit of the Mass; and again, Neomania, that is, the Sunday of the new (or, the Easter) moon, because it always falls after the new moon which regulates the Feast of Easter Day.

Lesson of Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. Ch. IX.

Brethren: Christ being come, an High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of the calves, but by His own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For, if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh; how much more shall the Blood of Christ (Who by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted unto God), cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And, therefore, He is the mediator of the New Testament; that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

It is by Blood alone that man is to be redeemed. He has offended God. This God cannot be appeased by anything short of the extermination of His rebellious creature, who, by shedding his blood, will give an earnest of his repentance and his entire submission to the Creator, against Whom he dared to rebel. Otherwise, the justice of God must be satisfied by the sinner’s suffering eternal punishment. This truth was understood by all the people of the ancient world, and all confessed it by shedding the blood of victims, as in the sacrifices of Abel, at the very commencement of the world; in the hecatombs of Greece; in the countless immolations whereby Solomon dedicated the Temple. And yet, God thus speaks to His people: Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. I need them not: for all the beasts of the woods are mine. If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats (Ps. xlix. 7-13.)? Thus, God commands the blood of victims to be offered to Him, and, at the same time, declares that neither it nor they are precious in His sight. Is this a contradiction? No: God would hereby have man understand, that it is only by Blood that He can be redeemed, but that the blood of brute animals cannot effect this redemption. Can the blood of man himself bring him his own redemption, and appease God’s justice? No, not even man’s blood, for it is defiled; and even were it undefiled, it is powerless to compensate for the outrage done to God by sin. For this, there was needed the Blood of a God; that was the Blood of Jesus, and He has come that He may shed it for our redemption.

In him is fulfilled the most sacred of the figures of the Old Law. Once each year, the High-Priest entered into the Holy of Holies, there to make intercession for the people. He went within the Veil, even to the Ark of the Covenant; but he was not allowed to enjoy this great privilege, unless he entered the holy place carrying in his hands the blood of a newlyoffered victim. The Son of God, the true HighPriest, is now about to enter heaven, and we are to follow Him thither; but unto this, He must have an offering of blood, and that Blood can be none other than His own. We are going to assist at this His compliance with the divine ordinance. Let us open our hearts, that this precious Blood may, as the Apostle says in to-day’s Epistle, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

The Gospel according to John Ch. VIII

At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convice me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore, you hear them not, because you are not of God. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me. But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our Father Abraham, who is dead! And the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of Whom you say that He is your God; and you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep His word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews then said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

The fury of the Jews is evidently at its height, and Jesus is obliged to hide Himself from them. But He is to fall into their hands before many days are over; then will they triumph and put Him to death. They triumph, and Jesus is their victim; but how different is to be His lot from theirs! In obedience to the decrees of His heavenly Father, and out of love for men, He will deliver himself into the hands of His enemies, and they will put him to death; but he will rise victorious from the tomb, He will ascend into heaven, He will be throned on the right hand of His Father. His enemies, on the contrary, after having vented all their rage, will live on without remorse, until the terrible day come for their chastisement. That day is not far off, for observe the severity wherewith our Lord speaks to them: You hear not the words of God, because you are not of God. Yet there was a time, when they were of God, for the Lord gives his grace to all men; but they have rendered this grace useless; they are now in darkness, and the light they have rejected will not return.

You say, that my Father is your God, and you have not known Him; but I know Him. Their obstinacy in refusing to acknowledge Jesus as the Messias, has led these men to ignore that very God, Whom they boast of honouring; for if they knew the Father, they would not reject His Son. Moses, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, are all a dead letter to them; these sacred Books are soon to pass into the hands of the Gentiles, who will both read and understand them. If, continues Jesus, I should say that I know Him not, I should be like to you, a liar. This strong language is that of the angry Judge Who is to come down, at the last day, to destroy sinners. Jerusalem has not known the time of her visitation: the Son of God has visited her, He is with her, and she dares to say to Him: Thou hast a devil! She says to the Eternal Word, Who proves Himself to be God by the most astounding miracles, that Abraham and the Prophets are greater than He! Strange blindness, that comes from pride and hardness of heart! The Feast of the Pasch is at hand: these men are going to eat, and with much parade of religion, the flesh of the figurative lamb; they know full well, that this lamb is a symbol, or a figure, which is to have its fulfilment. The true Lamb is to be sacrificed by their hands, and they will not know Him. He will shed his Blood for them, and it will not save them. How this reminds us of those sinners, for whom this Easter promises to be as fruitless as those of the past years! Let us redouble our prayers for them, and beseech our Lord to soften their hearts, lest trampling the Blood of Jesus under their feet, they should have it to cry vengeance against them before the throne of the Heavenly Father.