February 16, 2017 No Comments
February 16, 2017 No Comments
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
In the Introit of this day’s Mass, the Church brings before us one who seeks to be loosed from his sins, and calls on God for help and assistance. Arise, why sleepest thou , O Lord? arise, and cast us not off to the end: why turnest thou thy face away, and forgettest our trouble? Our belly hath cleaved to the earth: arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us. O God, we have heard with our ears; our Fathers have declared to us. (Ps. XLIII. 23. 25.) Glory be to the Father, &c.
COLLECT O God, who seest that we trust not in aught we do; mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
EPISTLE (II. Cor. XI. 19-33; to XII. 1-9,) Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise,) I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labor and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed); but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in, the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth): such an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth) : that he was caught up into paradise; and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For, which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Why is St. Paul mentioned in the Mass of this day, and why is this epistle read?
Because in Rome the Station or Church service is held on this day in the Church of St. Paul and because the Church continues to encourage us to work according to the example given by St. Paul who, with the grace of God, accomplished and suffered so much; also because we should labor for the honor of God and the salvation of our souls and faithfully cooperate with the grace of God.
Why, an the beginning of this epistle, does St. Paul say so much an his own praise?
Not out of ambition for honor and glory, but to honor God, and for the love and advantage of the Corinthians, who allowed themselves to be deceived by mercenary impostors and false prophets; that he might make public the craftiness of those deceivers who assumed the appearance of the true apostles, as Satan took the form of a good angel. To shame these, and to remove the obstacles they had placed in the way of the gospel, St. Paul was obliged to reveal to the Corinthians the things he had performed and endured in propagating the holy gospel. -By trials and sufferings is the true apostle known; the false apostles, the hirelings, as Christ calls them, only care for their own bodies, for temporal advantages, not for the salvation of souls. We see this exemplified in our days by the heretical missionaries who, when there is suffering, when there is martyrdom, take to flight, for their eyes are directed only to the present life and a large income, while the Catholic missionaries rejoice if, for Christ’s sake, and for the salvation of souls, they are permitted to suffer, and made worthy to endure the cruel death of the martyr.
Of whom does St. Paul relate such marvels?
Of himself, but from humility and modesty he does not say so; fourteen years before, forty-four years after the birth of Christ, St. Paul was rapt to the third heaven, that is, to the abode of happy spirits; but to preserve him in humility God permitted Satan to use the concupiscence of the flesh, which is like a sting in the body of man, as a temptation to the apostle, and by which he was continually tormented.
ASPIRATION Grant me, O God,. thy grace that in these evil days of false doctrines I may remain stead fast to Thy holy gospel which in the holy Catholic Church remains pure and unchanged; never let me be deterred from obeying its precepts, neither by the charms of the world nor by the mockery and reproaches of the wicked.
GOSPEL (Luke VIII. 4-15.) At that time, when very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto him, he spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables; that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the way-side are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots, for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares arid riche, and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who, in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.
Why is the Word of God compared to a seed?
Because from the word of God germinates the fruit of good works, as from good seed grows good fruit; as it is impossible, therefore, for an unsowed field to produce good fruit, so is it impossible for man without the seed of God’s word to produce good fruits of the spirit.
Why does Christ cry out an the parable: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear?
Because of the importance and necessity of the doctrine which was contained in the parable. For to hear the word of God is absolutely necessary for salvation, as the Apostle indicates: How shall they believe him (Jesus) of whom they have not heard? (Rom. X. 14.) Jesus calls those happy who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke XI. 28.) And on this subject St. Augustine says: “Be assured, my brethren, that as the body becomes weakened by want and hunger, and wastes to a mere shadow, so the soul that is not nourished by the word of God, becomes shrunken, worthless and unfit for any good work.”
Whence comes so much cockle of evil, when the seed of God’s word is so abundantly sowed?
Because, as Christ says, the seed falls now by the wayside, now upon a rock, now among thorns, seldom upon good soil, that is to say, those who hear the word of God are as a highway, over which many distracting thoughts are traveling which tread down the scattered seed, or, like fowls of the air devour it; they are like rocks, hardened by their prejudices or repeated crimes, so that the divine word cannot take root; again, they are so overgrown by the thorns of worldly cares, the constant desire for wealth and riches, and sensual delights, that even if they receive the seed, it is unable to grow and bear fruit.
ON THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD
The word of God is compared, by the Prophet Jeremias, to a hammer which crushes hearts as hard as rocks, and to a fire that dries up the swamps of vice, and consumes inveterate evil habits. (Jer. XXIII. 29.) The Psalmist compares it to thunder that makes all tremble, a storm-wind that bends and breaks the cedars of Lebanon, that is, proud and obstinate spirits; a light that dispels the darkness of ignorance; and a remedy that cures sin. (Ps. XXVIII. 3. 5., CXVIII. 105.) St. Paul compares it to a sword that divides the body from the soul, that is, the carnal desires from the spirit; (Hebr. IV. 12.) the Apostle James to a mirror in which man sees his stains and his wrongs. (Jam. I, 23.) the Prophet Isaias to a precious rain that moistens the soil of the soul and fertilizes it; (Isai: LV. 10. 11.) and Jesus Himself compares it to a seed that when it falls on good ground, brings forth fruit a hundredfold. (Luke VIII. 8.) One single grain of this divine seed produced the most marvellous fruits of sanctity in St. Augustine, St. Anthony the Great, in St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and others; for St. Augustine was converted by the words: “Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy.” (Rom. XIII. 13.) St. Anthony by the words. If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shaft have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt XIX. 21.) Nicholas of Tolentino was brought to Christian perfection by the words: “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. (I. John II. 15.)
How should we prepare ourselves to be benefited by the word of God?
We must be good, well-tilled soil, that is, we must have a heart that loves truth, desires to learn, and humbly and sincerely seeks salvation; we must listen to the word of God with due preparation and attention, keep the divine truths we have heard, in our heart, frequently consider and strive to fulfil them.
What should be done before the sermon?
We should endeavor to purify our conscience, for, as St. Chrysostom demands; “Who would pour precious juice into a vessel that is not clean, without first washing it?” We should, therefore, at least cleanse our hearts by an ardent sorrow for our sins, because the spirit of truth enters not into the sinful soul; (Wisd. I. 4.) we should ask the Holy Ghost for the necessary enlightenment, for little or no fruit can be obtained from a sermon if it is not united with prayer; we should listen to the sermon with a good motive; that is, with a view of hearing something edifying and instructive; if we attend only through curiosity, the desire to hear something new, to criticize the preacher, or to see and to be seen, we are like the Pharisees who for such and similar motives went to hear Christ and derived no benefit therefrom. “As a straight sword goes not into a crooked sheath, so the word of God enters not into a heart that is filled with improper motives.” We should strive to direct, our minds rightly, that is, to dispel all temporal thoughts, all needless distraction, otherwise the wholesome words would fall but upon the ears, would not penetrate the heart, and the words of Christ be fulfilled: They have ears, and hear not.
How should we comfort ourselves during the sermon?
We should listen to the sermon with earnest, reverent attention, for God speaks to us through His priests, and Christ says to them: Who hears you, hears me. (Luke X. 16.) We must listen to the priests, therefore, not as to men, but as to God’s ambassadors, for every priest can say with St. Paul: We are ambassadors for Christ, God, as it were, exhorting by us. (II. Cor. V. 20.) “If,” says St. Chrysostom, “when the letter of a king is read, the greatest quiet and attention prevails, that nothing may be lost, how much more should we listen with reverence and perfect silence to the. word of God?” The word of God is, and ever will be, a divine seed, which, when properly received, produces precious fruit, by what priest soever sowed; for in the sowing it matters not what priest sows, but what soil is sowed. Be careful, also, that you do not apply that which is said to others, but take it to yourself, or the sermon will be of no benefit to you. Are you free from those vices which the preacher decries and against which he battles? then, thank God, but do not despise others who are perhaps laboring under them, rather pray that they may be released and you preserved from falling into them. Keep also. from sleeping, talking, and other distractions, and remember, that whoever is of God, also willingly hears his word. (John VIII. 47.)
What should be done after the sermon?
We should then strive to put into practice the good we have heard, for God justifies not those who hear the law, but those who keep it, (Rom. II. 13.) and those who hear the word of God and do not conform their lives to it, are like the man who looks into the mirror, and having looked into it goes away, and presently forgets what manner of man he is. (Fam. I. 23. 24.) To practice that which has been heard, it is above all necessary that it should be kept constantly in mind, and thoughtfully considered. St. Bernard says: “Preserve the word of God as you would meat for your body, for it is a life-giving bread, and the food of your soul. Happy those, says Christ, who keep it. Receive it, therefore, into your soul’s interior, and let it reach your morals and your actions.”
That food which cannot be digested, or is at once thrown out, is useless; the food should be well masticated, retained, and by the digestive powers worked up into good blood. So not only on the day, but often during the week, that which was heard in the sermon should be thought of and put into practice. Speak of it to others, thus will much idle talk be saved, many souls with the grace of God roused to good, and enlightened in regard to the evil they had not before seen in themselves and in future will avoid. Let us listen to others when they repeat what was said in the sermon. Heads of families should require their children and domestics to relate what they have heard preached. Let us also entreat God to give us grace that we may be enabled to practice the precepts given us.
PRAYER How much am I shamed, O my God, that the seed of Thy Divine word, which Thou hast sowed so often and so abundantly in my heart, has brought forth so little fruit! Ah! have mercy on me, and so change my heart, that it may become good soil, in which Thy word may take root, grow without hindrance, and finally bring forth fruits of salvation. Amen.
February 16, 2017 No Comments
By Dr.of the New Liturgical Movement
Last January, I published a defense of the cappa magna (“The Cappa Magna in the Light of Nature, Rationality, and Mystery”), in the course of which I claimed that this garment is “fully consistent with the logic of creation, the Incarnation, and the grammar of worship as the most special of all special occasions,” and that
As Catholics, we rejoice in the natural beauty of colors and forms; we rejoice in the rational capacity to highlight personal dignity, elevated office, and earnest ritual; we rejoice in the supernatural symbolism that draws our minds beyond this earthly realm to the heavenly kingdom and its majestic Sovereign. It is a perfect example of the harmony of nature and grace — the hidden depths of visible nature and the sensible signs of invisible grace.
With the widespread loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we lose our faith in His real presence in the priests; religious exercises come to be about us, about the community. Naturally, in this false perspective, it is absurd to wear beautiful vestments, much less a cappa magna — who are we to dress up like this? But it is not about us; it is all about Jesus, directed to His honor and reflective of His glory. How would we treat Our Lord if He were the one offering the High Mass? Yet He is the one offering it; the Eternal High Priest is present in and working through His earthly high priest, whom we confess to be alter Christus.
No one has been granted the privilege of seeing this truth more fully than St. Gertrude the Great, who beheld in many of her visions the Lord Jesus Himself celebrating the liturgy of the Mass and of the Divine Office, with hosts of angels as his acolytes.
As He [Christ] sat on His royal throne, St. Gertrude cast herself at His feet and embraced them. Then He chanted the Kyrie eleison, in a clear and loud voice …
The Son of God then rose from His royal throne and turning towards God the Father, intoned the Gloria in excelsis in a clear and sonorous voice. At the word Gloria, He extolled the immense and incomprehensible omnipotence of God the Father. At the words in excelsis, He praised His profound wisdom. At Deo, He honored the inestimable and indescribable sweetness of the Holy Spirit. The whole celestial court then continued in a most harmonious voice, Et in terra pax bonae voluntatis. …
At the conclusion of the Gloria in excelsis, the Lord Jesus, who is our true High Priest and Pontiff, turned to Gertrude, saying Dominus vobiscum, dilecta — “The Lord be with you, beloved,” and she replied Et spiritus meus tecum, praedilecte — “And may my spirit be with Thee, O most Beloved.” After this she inclined towards the Lord, to return Him thanks for His live in uniting her spirit to His Divinity, whose delights are with the children of men. The Lord then read the Collect …
Gertrude saw our Lord rise from His royal throne and present His blessed Heart to His Father, elevating it with His own Hands and immolating it in an ineffable manner for the whole Church, At this moment the bell rang for the Elevation of the Host in the Church [where St. Gertrude was on earth], so that it appeared as if our Lord did in heaven what the priest did on earth. …
And our Lord communicated Himself to her with a love and tenderness which no human tongue could describe, so that she received the perfect fruit of His most precious Body and Blood. After this He sang a canticle of love for her and declared to her that had this union of Himself with her been the sole fruit of His labors, sorrows, and Passion, He would have been fully satisfied.
I remember with great inner warmth how it felt to be at the Mass celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke at Strahov Abbey on the Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus in October 2016. Between the sanctuary full of ministers going about their many and varied tasks of service and the choir loft whence flowed the milk of chant and the honey of polyphony, I was suspended in an enormous net of prayer, the Church in heaven and the Church on earth, into which I, though unworthy, was invited to participate, along with the hundreds of souls packed into the narrow wooden benches of the nave. Prayer was not a mental construct but a pulsing, palpable thing going on above me, before me, and yet within me, something much greater and more real than myself in that it came from God and carried me to God, infusing a sense of wonder and humility. “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” — this mother that the liturgy is for our spiritual life.
The two hours of the Pontifical Mass passed as quickly as if time had stepped aside in deference to its master, waiting to be summoned again when he should wish it. The liturgy ended with a monumental improvisation on the pipe organ, so that my last impressions were an anarchic blend of banners carried in procession, music seizing hold of all space, and the bustle of men, women, and children streaming forth to the courtyard. I had been present at the tearing of the veil in the temple, the veil of His flesh, and for a moment the heavens were opened. I had worshiped with the angels, knelt with sinners, felt the balm of beauty, tasted the sacrament of love. Never have I been more proud to be a Catholic — or more aware of my smallness and dependency, my unworthiness as a member of the Mystical Body.
From those heights, let us return once more to pontifical regalia and look at the question from the opposite angle. While it is sometimes possible that a saintly priest or bishop would choose to rid himself of anything valuable in order to give the money to the poor, in our own times it is much more common to encounter what might be called “ostentatious bad taste” or “hypocritical poverty,” when a priest or bishop who claims to be renouncing pomp and circumstance for the sake of the Gospel is really drawing attention to himself as a paragon of social justice, whose ugly garments or clumsy chalices in fact still cost a great deal of money — money that could have been spent on something truly beautiful, which spiritually enriches all who behold it, including the poor. We could put it this way: a priest or bishop who does not see himself as essentially a symbol of another and therefore as able to accept and promote liturgical beauty for the sake of that other will, perforce, see himself as —himself, in front of the people, on display. At this point, two roads are open to him: to be ostentatiously wealthy for the sake of worldly glory, or to be ostentatiously poor and virtuous. In either case, it’s all about him, and the result is thoroughly disedifying. In contrast, when a man of God really acts and speaks as a man of God, one who totally belongs to Christ the Eternal High Priest, it is extremely edifying to see him robed in splendor, uplifted in honor. When Our Lord said: “Whatsoever you do to the least, you do unto Me” (cf. Mt 25:40), He was certainly not excluding the truth that whatsoever you do to the greatest, you do to Him as well.
We can see in the simplicity of St. Benedict’s faith the reason why so many in the Church today object to “pomp and splendor” — namely, their lack of the same faith. “Let the abbot, since he is believed to hold the place of Christ, be called Lord and Abbot…” If one does not believe firmly and unshakably with one’s mind and heart that the ministerial priest is alter Christus, a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek; if one does not believe that the bishop is Christ as ruling, teaching, and sanctifying; if one does not believe that the hierarchs of the Church are the authoritative voice and healing hands of the Word made flesh, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who suffered and is now exalted gloriously in heaven above the cherubim and seraphim, then it is perfectly reasonable to be repelled by signs of pomp and splendor.
Charles Coulombe makes this insightful observation about the difference in “style” between Benedict XVI and Francis:
The generation of westerners of which he [Francis] is a part was marked — in Church, State, and indeed, in every field — by what can only be called a sort of “personalization” of authority. That is to say, that the traditional division in perception between an office and the current holder of that office — which allowed people of wildly differing, sometimes even opposed, views to collaborate out of shared respect for the office under whose direction they functioned — has been blurred or even obliterated. Such folk, when in authority, tend to downgrade or do away with traditional symbols of their office while emphasizing their own personalities in pursuit of some nebulous “authenticity.” So it is that morning dress and uniforms disappear from presidential inaugurations and legislative openings, and royals love to appear in casual wear. The difficulty with such an approach is that it tends to weaken respect for the office in the eyes of its subjects, who in turn begin to believe that their loyalty to it is dependent purely on their personal feelings for the occupant of the moment. Seeing the problems this had created, Benedict XVI began to restore the symbolic side of the Papacy, for all that formalism and display ran extremely counter to his nature. But it is not an issue that one of Francis’s generation could be expected to understand — quite the contrary.
What is certain is that he did try to use the hermeneutic of reform himself. Despite the lack of tiara noted earlier, piece by piece he restored bits of the papal wardrobe that his immediate predecessors had discarded: the fur-lined mozzetta, the camauro, the fanon, and — most annoying to some — the traditional red shoes, symbolizing the fact that as Pope he walked in the footsteps of the martyrs.
When we look back over the criticisms made of episcopal vestments by certain fathers of the Second Vatican Council and by our minimalists of today, we must ask ourselves: Why would a bishop who protests about wearing gauntlets or buskins not likewise protest about the mitre and crook? Why is a bishop or a priest still wearing clerical attire of any sort? Did not the chasuble begin as a typical Roman garment, of which jeans and a T-shirt would be our equivalent? Why is a cleric still using prescribed rituals and ceremonies at all?
Joseph Ratzinger saw that the post-modern critique of structures and institutions extends to everything — there is no logical reason to stop at the cappa magna or the gold chalice or the medieval chant, as opposed to carrying the deconstruction of religion all the way to its entire visible material system of power. For this reason, therefore, the post-modern critique has to be rejected at its root. In its place we must put the Pseudo-Dionysian principle of excess, even super-excess. While we may not prefer the results of the Baroque aesthetic to those of the Byzantine, the Romanesque, or the Gothic, we can recognize in it the Christ-loving, creation-loving exultation of the Catholic soul, which serves as an antidote to the poisonous reductionism of our time and an exemplar of the disciplined abandon to holy things, rejoicing in every pound of spikenard it can spill out to anoint the feet of the Lord.
 Holy Rule, ch. 63 (McCann trans.). Perhaps the most astonishing example of Benedict’s analogical thinking is found in ch. 7, under the fifth degree of humility. The chapter begins: “The fifth degree of humility is that he [the monk] humbly confess and conceal not from his abbot any evil thoughts that enter his heart, and any secret sins that he has committed.” Straightforward. But then Benedict backs up this advice with three authorities: “To this does Scripture exhort us, saying: Make known thy way unto the Lord and hope in him. And again: Confess to the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. And further: I have made known my sin to thee, and my faults I have not concealed. I said: I will be my own accuser and confess my faults to the Lord, and with that thou didst remit the guilt of my sin.” The patriarch has virtually equated “confessing to the Lord” with “confessing to the abbot.” This can make sense only because the abbot is a true and authoritative ‘icon’ of the Lord, an alter Christus, along the lines of Jesus’ statement: “He who hears you, hears me.”
 William J. Doheny, C.S.C., The Revelations of Saint Gertrude, Part III, ch. LXI.
 It was thought that hardly anyone would come to this Mass. When it began, the church was so full that no seats were left and latercomers had to stand or sit wherever they could. It is doubtful that this abbey has seen so many worshipers for a very long time. It is almost always this way with Pontifical Masses: the People of God are famished and they come to the feast whenever and wherever it is set forth.
 Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes (Arcadia: Tumblar House, 2014), 389–90.
 By “poverty of doctrine” I refer to the superficiality, messiness, ambiguities, contradictions, and unclarity of this pope’s teaching, in contrast to the rich truthfulness of those of his predecessors who took seriously the Lord’s command to “let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’” (Mt 5:37); cf. 2 Cor 1:17–19, Jas 5:12.
 For more thoughts about the deconstruction of symbolism, see the superb recent article on Alfred Lorenzer’s 1981 study The Council of the Bookkeepers.
February 16, 2017 No Comments
ADORE THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS WITH A SUNG MASS IN THE TRADITIONAL LATIN RITE
AT THE SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA
SUNDAY, MARCH 12 AT 11AM
The Bucks County Traditional Latin Mass Group is pleased to announce that the scheduled liturgy for March 12 will be our first missa cantata, or sung Mass. Schola Cantorum Philadelphiensis will sing the Propers for the Second Sunday of Lent according to the full melodies of the ancient Gregorian chant. Please plan to attend and bring a friend so that more may experience the beauty of the Extraordinary Form.
654 FERRY ROAD, DOYLESTOWN, PA 18901 WWW.CZESTOCHOWA.US (215) 345-0600
For more information, contact our coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 15, 2017 No Comments
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
Why is this Sunday called “Septuagesima”?
Because in accordance with the words of the First Council of Orleans, some pious Christian congregations in the earliest ages of the Church, especially the clergy, began to fast seventy days before Easter, on this Sunday, which was therefore called Septuagesima” – the seventieth day. The same is the case with the Sundays following, which are called Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Quadragesima, because some Christians commenced to fast sixty days, others fifty, others forty days before Easter, until finally, to make it properly uniform, Popes Gregory and Gelasius arranged that all Christians should fast forty days before Easter, commencing with Ash-Wednesday.
Why, from this day until Easter, does the Church omit in her service all joyful canticles, alleluia’s, and the Gloria in excelsis etc.?
Gradually to prepare the minds of the faithful for the serious time of penance and sorrow; to remind the sinner of the grievousness of his errors, and to exhort him to penance. So the priest appears at the altar in violet, the color of penance, and the front of the altar is covered with a violet curtain. To arouse our sorrow for our sins, and show the need of repentance, the Church in the name of all mankind at the Introit cries with David: The groans of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice from his holy temple. (Ps. XVII, 5-7.) I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer. (Fs. XVII. 2-3.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
COLLECT O Lord, we beseech Thee graciously hear the prayers of Thy people; that we who are justly afflicted for our sins may, for the glory of Thy name, mercifully be delivered. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ etc.
EPISTLE (I. Cor. IX. 24-27., to X. 1-5.) Brethren, know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air; but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection; lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea: and all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ); but with the most of them God was not well pleased.
EXPLANATION Having exhorted us to penance in the Introit of the Mass, the Church desires to indicate to us, by reading this epistle, the effort we should make to reach the kingdom of heaven by the narrow path (Matt. VII. 13.) of penance and mortification. This St. Paul illustrates by three different examples. By the example of those who in a race run to one point, or in a prize-fight practice and prepare themselves for the victor’s reward by the strongest exercise, and by the strictest abstinence from everything that might weaken the physical powers. If to win a laurel-crown that passes away, these will subject themselves to the severest trials and deprivations, how much more should we, for the sake of the heavenly crown of eternal happiness, abstain from those improper desires, by which the soul is weakened, and practice those holy virtues, such as prayer, love of God and our neighbor, patience, to which the crown is promised! Next, by his own example, bringing himself before them as one running a race, and fighting for an eternal crown, but not as one running blindly not knowing whither, or fighting as one who strikes not his antagonist, but the air; on the contrary, with his eyes firmly fixed on the eternal crown, certain to be his who lives by the precepts of the gospel, who chastises his spirit and his body as a valiant champion, with a strong hand, that is, by severest mortification, by fasting and prayer. If St. Paul, notwithstanding the extraordinary graces which he received, thought it necessary to chastise his body that he might not be cast away, how does the sinner expect to be saved, living an effeminate and luxurious life without penance and mortification? St. Paul’s third example is that of the Jews who all perished on their journey to the Promised Land, even though God had granted them so many graces; He shielded them from their enemies by a cloud which served as a light to them at night, and a cooling shade by day; He divided the waters of the sea, thus preparing for them a dry passage; He caused manna to fall from heaven to be their food, and water to gush from the rock for their drink. These temporal benefits which God bestowed upon the Jews in the wilderness had a spiritual meaning; the cloud and the sea was a figure of baptism which enlightens the soul, tames the concupiscence of the flesh, and purifies from sin; the manna was a type of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, the soul’s true bread from heaven; the water from the rock, the blood flowing from Christ’s wound in the side; and yet with all these temporal benefits which God bestowed upon them, and with all the spiritual graces they were to receive by faith from the coming Redeemer, of the six hundred thousand men who left Egypt only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. Why? Because they were fickle, murmured so, often against God, and desired the pleasures of the flesh. How much, then, have we need to fear lest we be excluded from the true, happy land, Heaven, if we do not continuously struggle for it, by penance and mortification!
ASPIRATION Assist me, O Jesus, with Thy grace that, following St. Paul’s example, I may be anxious, by the constant pious practice of virtue and prayer, to arrive at perfection and to enter heaven.
GOSPEL (Matt. XX. 1-6.) At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others Standing in the market place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing; and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny, But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more; and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hart made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way; I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.
In this parable, what is to be understood by the householder, the vineyard, laborers, and the penny?
The householder represents God, who in different ages of the world, in the days of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and finally, in the days of Christ and the apostles, has sought to call men as workmen into His vineyard, the true Church, that they might labor there industriously, and receive the penny of eternal glory.
How and when does God call people?
By inward inspiration, by preachers, confessors, spiritual books, and conversations, etc., in flourishing youth and in advanced age, which periods of life may be understood by the different hours of the day.
What is meant by working in the vineyard?
It means laboring, fighting, suffering for God and His honor, for our own and the salvation of others. As in a vineyard we spade, dig, root out weeds, cut off all that is useless and noxious, manure, plant, and bind up, so in the spiritual vineyard of our soul we must, by frequent meditation on death and hell, by examination of conscience dig up the evil inclinations by their roots, and by true repentance eradicate the weeds of vice, and by mortification, especially by prayer and fasting cut away concupiscence; by the recollection of our sins we must humble ourselves, and amend our life; in place of the bad habits we must plant the opposite virtues and bind our unsteady will to the trellis of the fear of God and of His judgment, that we may continue firm.
How is a vice or bad habit to be rooted up?
A great hatred of sin must be aroused; a fervent desire of destroying sin must be produced in our hearts; the grace of God must be implored without which nothing can be accomplished. It is useful also to read some spiritual book which speaks against the vice. The Sacraments of Penance and of holy Communion should often be received, and some saint who in life had committed the same sin, and afterwards by the grace of God conquered it, should be honored, as Mary Magdalen and St. Augustine who each had the habit of impurity, but with the help of God resisted and destroyed it in themselves; there should be fasting, alms-deeds, or other good works, performed for the same object, and it is of great importance, even necessary, that the conscience should be carefully examined in this regard.
Who are standing idle in the market place?
In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle: doing nothing whatever; doing evil; doing other things than the duties of our position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God. This threefold idleness deprives us of our salvation, as the servant loses his wages if he works not at all, or not according to the will of his master. We are all servants of God, and none of us can say with the laborers in the Vineyard that no man has employed us; for God, when He created us, hired us at great wages, and we must serve Him always as He cares for us at all times; and if, in the gospel, the householder reproaches the workmen, whom no man had hired, for their idleness, what will God one day say to those Christians whom He has placed to work in His Vineyard, the Church, if they have remained idle?
Why do the last comers receive as much as those who worked all day ?
Because God rewards not the time or length of the work, but the industry and diligence with which it has been performed. It may indeed happen, that many a one who has served God but for a short time, excels in merits another who has lived long but has not labored as diligently. (Wisd. IV. 8-13.)
What is signified by the murmers of the first workmen when the wages were paid?
As the Jews were the first who were called by God, Christ intended to show that the Gentiles, who were called last, should one day receive the heavenly reward, and that the Jews have no reason to murmur because God acted not unjustly in fulfilling His promises “to them, and at the same time calling others to the eternal reward. In heaven envy, malevolence and murmuring will find no place. On the contrary, the saints who have long served God wonder at His goodness in converting sinners and those who have served Him but a short time, for these also there will be the same penny, that is, the vision, the enjoyment, and possession of God and His kingdom. Only in the heavenly glory there will be a difference because the divine lips have assured us that each one shall be rewarded according to his works. The murmurs of the workmen and the answer of the householder serve to teach us, that we should not murmur against the merciful proceedings of God towards our neighbor, nor envy him; for envy and jealousy are abominable, devilish vices, hated by God. By the envy of the, devil, death came into the world. (Wisd. II. 24.) The envious therefore, imitate Lucifer, but they hurt only themselves, because they are consumed by their envy. “Envy,” says St. Basil “is an institution of the serpent, an invention of the devils, an obstacle to piety, a road to hell, the depriver of the heavenly kingdom.”
What is meant by: The first. shall be last, and the last shall be first?
This again is properly to be understood of the Jews; for they were the first called, but will be the last in order, as in time, because they responded not to Christ’s invitation, received not His doctrine, and will enter the Church only at the end of the world; while, on the contrary, the Gentiles who where not called until after the Jews, will be the first in number as in merit, because the greater part responded and are still responding to the call. Christ, indeed, called all the Jews, but few of them answered, therefore few were chosen. Would that this might not. also come true with regard to Christians whom God has also called, and whom He wishes to save. (I. Tim. II. 4.) Alas! very few live in accordance with their vocation of working in the vineyard of the Lord, and, consequently, do not receive the penny of eternal bliss.
PRAYER O most benign God, who, out of pure grace, without any merit of ours, hast called us, Thy unworthy servants, to the true faith, into the vineyard of the holy Catholic Church, and dost require us to work in it for the sanctification of our souls, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may never be idle but be found always faithful workmen, and that that which in past years we have failed to do, we may make up for in future by greater zeal and persevering industry, and, the work being done, may receive the promised reward in heaven, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our, Lord. Amen.
February 10, 2017 No Comments
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
[For the Introit of this day see the Introit in the Mass of the third Sunday after Epiphany]
On this Sunday mention is made of the practice of Christian virtues, and of God’s sufferance of the wicked upon earth, that by them the just may be exercised in patience.
COLLECT Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy household by Thy continual mercy; that as it leans only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, so it may ever be defended by Thy protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.
EPISTLE (Col. III. 12-17.) Brethren, put ye on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another; even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things, have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things, do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Why does St. Paul call charity the bond of perfection?
Because charity comprises in itself and links all the virtues in which perfection consists. For whoever truly loves God and his neighbor, is also good, merciful, humble, modest, patiently bears the weakness of his neighbor, willingly forgives offences, in a word, practices all virtues for the sake of charity.
When does the peace of God rejoice in our hearts?
When we have learned to conquer our evil inclinations, passions, and desires, and have placed order and quiet in our hearts instead. This peace then, like a queen, keeps all the wishes of the soul in harmony, and causes us to enjoy constant peace with our neighbor, and thus serve Christ in concord, as the members of one body serve the head. The best means of preserving this peace are earnest attention to the word of God, mutual imparting of pious exhortations and admonitions, and by singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual canticles.
Why should we do all in the name of Jesus?
Because only then can our works have real worth in the sight of God, and be pleasing to Him, when they are performed for love of Jesus, in His honor, in accordance with His spirit and will. Therefore the apostle admonishes us to do all things, eat, drink, sleep, work &c. in the name of Jesus, and so honor God, the Heavenly Father, and show our gratitude to Him. Oh, how grieved will they be on their death-bed who have neglected to offer God their daily work by a good intention, then they will see, when too late, how deficient they are in meritorious deeds. On the contrary they will rejoice whose consciences testify, that in all their actions they had in view only the will and the honor of God! Would that this might be taken to heart especially by those who have to earn their bread with difficulty and in distress, that they might always unite their hardships and trials with the sufferings and merits of Jesus, offering them to the Heavenly Father, and thus imitating Christ who had no other motive than the will and the glory of His Heavenly Father.
ASPIRATION O God of love, of patience, and of mercy, turn our hearts to the sincere love of our neighbor, and grant, that whatever we do in thoughts, words and actions, we may do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him render thanks to Thee.
ON CHURCH SINGING
“Admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grade in your hearts to God.” (Col. III. 16.)
The custom of singing in the Church-choir* has its foundation as far back as the Old Testament, when by the arrangement of David, Solomon, and Ezechias, the psalms and other sacred canticles were sung by the priests and Levites. This custom the Catholic Church has retained, according to the precepts of the apostles, (I. Cor. XIV. 26; Eph. V. 19.) and the example of Jesus who, after they had eaten the Pasch, intoned a hymn of praise with His apostles, Matt XXVI. 30) that Christians on earth, like the angels and saints in heaven, (Apoc. V. 8. 9., XIV. 3.) who unceasingly sing His praises, might at certain hours of the day, at least, give praise and thanks to God. In the earliest ages of the Church, the Christians sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving during the holy Sacrifice and other devotional services, often continuing them throughout the whole night; in which case the choir-singers probably were bound to keep the singing in proper order and agreement. In the course of time this custom of all the faithful present singing together ceased in many churches, and became confined to the choir, which was accompanied later by instruments in accordance with the words of David who calls to the praise of the Lord with trumpets, with timbrels, with pleasant psaltery and harps. (Ps, CL. 3, 4., LXXX. 3. 4.) In many churches, where the faithful still sing in concert, if done with pure hearts and true devotion, it is as St. Basil says, “a heavenly occupation, a spiritual burnt offering; it enlightens the spirit, raises it towards heaven, leads man to communion with God, makes the soul rejoice, ends idle talk, puts away laughter, reminds us of the judgment, reconciles enemies. Where the singing of songs resounds’ from the contrite heart there God with the angels is present.”
*The choir is usually a gallery in the Church in which the singers are stationed; the place where the clergy sing or recite their office, is also called the choir.
GOSPEL (Matt. XIII. 24-30,) At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came, and oversowed cockle among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the good man of the house coming, said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence, then, hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy bath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? And he said: No, lest perhaps, gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.
What is understood by the kingdom of heaven ?
The Church of God, or the collection of all orthodox Christians on earth, destined for heaven.
What is meant by the good seed, and by the cockle?
The good seed, as Christ Himself says, (Matt. XIII. 38.) signifies the children of the kingdom, that is, the true Christians, the living members of the Church, who being converted by the word of God sown into their hearts become children of God, and bring forth the fruit of good works. The cockle means the children of iniquity, of the devil, that is, those who do evil; also every wrong, false doctrine which leads men to evil.
Who sows the good seed, and by the cockle?
The good seed is sown by Jesus, the Son of Man not only directly, but through His apostles, and the priests, their successors; the evil seed is sown by the devil, or by wicked men whom he uses as his tools.
Who are the men who were asleep?
Those superiors in the Church; those bishops and pastors who take no care of their flock, and do not warn them against seduction, when the devil comes and by wicked men sows the cockle of erroneous doctrine and of crime; and those men who are careless and neglect to hear the word of God and the sacrifice of the Mass, who neglect to pray, and do not receive the Sacraments. In the souls of such the devil sows the seeds of bad thoughts, evil imaginations and desires, from which spring, later, the cockle of pride, impurity, anger, envy, avarice, etc.
Why does not God allow the cockle, that is, the wicked people, to be rooted out and destroyed?
Because of His patience and long suffering towards the sinner to whom He gives time for repentance, and because of His love for the just from whom He would not, by weeding out the unjust, take away the occasion of practicing virtue and gathering up merits for themselves; for because of the unjust, the just have numerous opportunities to exercise patience, humility, etc.
When is the time of the harvest?
The day of the last judgment when the reapers, that is, the angels, will go out and separate the wicked from the just, and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace; while the just will be taken into everlasting joy. (Matt. XIII. 29.)
PRAYER O faithful Jesus, Thou great lover of our souls, who hast sown the good seed of Thy Divine Word in our hearts, grant that it may be productive, and bear in us fruit for eternal life; protect us from our evil enemy, that he may not sow his erroneous and false doctrine in our hearts, and corrupt the good; preserve us from the sleep of sin, and sloth that we may remain always vigilant and armed against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, overcome them manfully, and die a happy death. Amen.
ON INCLINATION TO EVIL
Whence then hath it cockle? (Matt. XIII. 27.)
Whence comes the inclination to evil in man?
It is the sad consequence of original sin, that is, of that sin which our first parents, by their disobedience, committed in paradise, and which we as their descendants have inherited. This inclination to evil remains even in those who have been baptized, although original sin with its guilt and eternal punishment is taken away in baptism, but it is no sin so long as man does not voluntarily yield. (Cat. Rom. Part. II. 2. .43.)
Why, the sin being removed, does the inclination remain?
To humble us that we may know our frailty and misery, and have recourse to God, our best and most powerful Father, as did St. Paul, when he was much annoyed by the devil of the flesh; (II. Cor. XII. 7. 8.) that the glory of God and the power of Christ should be manifested in us, which except for our weakness could not be; that we might have occasion to fight and to conquer. A soldier cannot battle without opposition, nor win victory and the crown without a contest. Nor can we win the heavenly crown, if no occasion is given us, by temptations, for fight and for victory. “That which tries the combatant,” says St. Bernard, “crowns the conqueror.” Finally, the inclination remains, that we may learn to endure, in all meekness, the faults and infirmities of others and to watch ourselves, lest we fall into the same temptations.
February 3, 2017 No Comments
First Friday, February 3, A.D. 2017, Traditional Latin Mass, with Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr:
Priest: Fr. Harold B. Mc Kale, Parish Vicar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church
Location: Rectory Chapel of St. Albert The Great Parish (address below)
Time: 7:00 p.m., preceded by Confessions at 6:30 p.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, offered in Reparation to The Sacred Heart of Jesus. Red vestments.
Blessing of Throats on this First Friday Feast of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, will occur after the Leonine Prayers. You may want to bring Family and friends for this TLM. Please don’t miss it!
First Saturday, February 4, A.D. 2017, Traditional Latin Mass:
Priest: Fr. Harold B. Mc Kale, Parish Vicar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church
Location: Rectory Chapel of St. Albert The Great Parish (address below)
Time: 9:00 a.m., preceded by Confessions at 8:30 a.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, offered in Reparation to The Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a Commemoration of Saint Andrew Corsini. White vestments.
St. Albert The Great Parish
212 Welsh Road
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
(T) (215) 947-3500
The Rectory, also known as the Parish Center, is located behind the Church, which fronts on Welsh Road.
February 3, 2017 No Comments
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
[The Introit of the Mass as on the preceding Sunday.]
COLLECT O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so great perils, that because of the frailty of our nature we cannot stand; grant to us health of mind and body, that those things which we suffer for our sins, we may by Thy aid overcome. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord &c.
EPISTLE (Romans XIII. 8-10.) Brethren, owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For thou shaft not commit adultery; thou shaft not kill; thou shaft not steal; thou shaft not bear false witness; thou shaft not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shaft love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law.
What is meant by St Paul’s words: He that loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law?
St. Augustine in reference to these words says: that he who loves his neighbor, fulfils as well the precepts of the first as of the second tablet of the law. The reason is, that the love of our neighbor contains and presupposes the love of God as its fountain and foundation. The neighbor must be loved on account of God; for the neighbor cannot be loved with true love, if we do not first love God. On this account, the holy Evangelist St. John in his old age, always gave the exhortation: Little children, love one another. And when asked why, he answered: Because it is the command of the Lord, and it is enough to fulfill it. Therefore in this love of the neighbor which comes from the love of God and is contained in it, consists the fulfillment of the whole law. (Matt. XXII. 40.)
GOSPEL (Matt. VIII 23-27) At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but he was asleep. And they came to him and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?
Why did Christ sleep in the boat?
To test the faith and confidence of His disciples; to exercise them in enduring the persecutions which they were afterwards to endure; to teach us that we should not waver in the storms of temptations. St. Augustine writes: “Christ slept, and because of the danger the disciples were confused. Why? Because Christ slept. In like manner thy heart becomes confused, thy ship unquiet, when the waves of temptation break over it. Why? Because thy faith sleeps. Then thou shouldst awaken Christ in thy heart; then thy faith should be awakened, thy conscience quieted, thy ship calmed.”
Why did Christ reproach His disciples when they awaked Him and asked for help?
Because of their little faith and trust; for if they firmly believed Him to be true God, they would necessarily believe He could aid them sleeping as well as waking.
Nothing so displeases God as to doubt His powerful assistance. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh (mortal man) his arm (aid), and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. (Jerem. XVII. 5. 7.) God sometimes permits storms to assail us, such as poverty, persecution, sickness, so that we may have occasion to put our confidence in Him alone. Of this St. Bernard very beautifully says: “When the world rages, when the wicked become furious, when the flesh turns against the spirit, I will hope in Him. Who ever trusted in Him, and was put to shame?” We should therefore trust in God only, and take refuge to Him, invoking Him as did the disciples: Lord, save us, we perish; or cry out with David: Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. (Ps. XLIII. 23.)
Why did Jesus stand up and command the sea to be still?
To show His readiness to aid us, and His omnipotence to which all things are subject. His disciples who saw this miracle, wondered and said: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him?
We see daily in all creatures the wonders of the Omnipotence, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, and yet we are not touched; we continue cold and indifferent. The reason is, that we look upon all with the eyes of the body and not with the eyes of the soul; that is, we do not seek to ascend by meditation to the Creator, and to judge from the manifold beauty and usefulness of created things the goodness and the wisdom of God. The saints rejoiced in all the works of the Lord; a flower, a little worm of the earth would move the heart of St. Francis of Sales, and St. Francis the Seraph, to wonderment and to the love of God; they ascended, as on a ladder, from the contemplation of creatures to Him who gives to every thing life, motion, and existence. If we were to follow their example, we would certainly love God more, and more ardently desire Him; if we do not, we live like irrational men, we who were created only to know and to love God.
ASPIRATION Grant us, O good Jesus! in all our needs, a great confidence in Thy divine assistance, and do not allow us to become faint-hearted; let Thy assistance come to us in the many dangers to which we are exposed; command the turbulent winds and waves of persecution to be still, and give peace and calmness to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood, that we may serve Thee in sanctity and justice, and arrive safely at the desired haven of eternal happiness. Amen.
ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
But he was asleep. (Matt VIII. 24.)
It is an article of faith in the holy Catholic Church that God has not only created the world, but that He sustains and governs it; this preservation and ruling of the whole world and of each individual creature is called Providence. There are people who think that God is too great a Lord to busy Himself about the care of this world, that to do so is beneath His majesty; it was enough for Him to create the world, for the rest, He leaves it to itself or to fate, enjoys His own happiness, and, as it were, sleeps in regard to us. Thus think some, but only the ignorant and impious. Were He as these imagine Him, He would not or could not have aught to do with creation. If He could not, then He is neither all-wise nor almighty, if He would not, then He is not good; and if He knows nothing of the world, then He is not omniscient.
If we once believe that God created the world, (and what rational man can doubt it?) then we must also believe He rules and sustains it. Can any work of art, however well constructed and arranged, subsist without some one to take charge of and watch aver the same? Would not the greatest of all master-pieces, the world, therefore come to the greatest confusion and fall back into its original nothingness, if God, who created it from nothing, did not take care of its further order and existence? It is indeed true that the method of Divine Providence with which God controls all things is so mysterious that, when considering some events, one is persuaded to admit a necessary fate, an accident, the course of nature, the ill will of the devil or man, as the fundamental cause. Yet in all this the providence of God is not denied, for nothing does or can happen accidentally, not the smallest thing occurs without the knowledge, permission, or direction of God. Not one sparrow shall fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matt. X. 29. 30.) Chance, fate, and luck are but the ideas of insane or wicked men, which even the more rational heathens have rejected, and the course of nature is but the constant, uninterrupted, all-wise and bountiful preservation and government of creation through God. The perverted will of men or of the devil is but the instrument which God in His all-wise intention, uses to effect the good, for He knows how to produce good from evil, and, therefore, as St. Augustine says, “permits the evil that the good may not be left undone.” If we peruse the history of our first parents, of Abraham, of Joseph in Egypt, of Moses, of the people of Israel, of Job, Ruth, David, Tobias, Esther, Judith and others, we will easily see everywhere the plainest signs of the wisest Providence, the best and most careful, absolute power, by virtue of which God knows how to direct all things according to His desire, and for the good of His chosen ones. The gospel of this day furnishes us an instance of this? Why did Christ go into the boat? Why did a storm arise? Why was He asleep? Did all this occur by accident? No, it came about designedly by the ordinance of Christ that His omnipotence might be seen, and the faith and confidence of His disciples be strengthened.
Thus it is certain that God foresees, directs, and governs all; as Scripture, reason, and daily experience prove. Would we but pay more attention to many events of our lives, we would certainly notice the providence of God, and give ourselves up to His guidance and dispensations. The Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing, says David. (Ps. XXII. 1.) And we also, we shall want nothing if we resign ourselves to God’s will, and are contented with His dispensations in our regard; while, on the contrary, if we oppose His will, we shall fall into misfortune and error. God must rule over us with goodness, or with sternness, He is no slumbering God. Behold! He shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. (Ps. CXX. 4.)
January 27, 2017 No Comments
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
INTROIT Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
COLLECT Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through our protection. Through our etc.
EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shaft heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.
When are we overcome by evil?
When we wish to take revenge. “Revenge is no sign of courage,” says St. Ambrose, “but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word.” “Are you impatient,” says the same saint, “you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome.”
What should we do if our reputation is injured?
We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. “But as a good name,” says St. Francis de Sales, “is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it.” We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility’ and lay our honor and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle.
How do we “heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?”
When we return him good for evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: “By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love.” Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecute you.
ASPIRATION Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine on the just and the unjust!
GOSPEL (Matt. VIII. 1-13.) At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieith at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I sad to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee; and the servant was healed at the same hour.
Why did the leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”?
He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition.
Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?
To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick!
Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man?
To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.
Why did Christ send the healed leper to the Priest?
That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean: that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.
What is taught by the centurion’s solicitude for his servant?
That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care.
Why did Christ say: I wild come and heal him?
Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ’s humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the wants of a poor servant.
Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof?
Because he recognised Christ’s divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house.
From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion’s words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.
Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?
By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ’s divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word.
If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence in God?
What is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness?
This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God’s chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God’s grace, be eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.
ASPIRATION O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper’s faith and confidence, that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion’s humility, that for Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.
ON RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD
Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. VIII. 2.)
Those who in adversity as well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them, be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens as they wish, because they know no will but God’s, they desire nothing but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that fear Him. (Ps. CXLIV. 10.) In the lives of the ancient Fathers we find the following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors’. They asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it, because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered more than ever: How could that be? “I never desire other weather,” he replied, “than God wills; and because my desires are conformable to His, He gives me the fruits I wish.” This submission to the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimmed joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions. Who would not aspire to so happy a state? We will attain it if we believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for God can never be the cause of them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God, (Eccles. XI. 14.) that is, are permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark VII. 37.) Whoever keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.
INSTRUCTION FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS
The master of a house should be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of the pious Jacob, (Gen. XXX. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because of the just Joseph. (Gen. XXXIX. 5.) The master should look to the morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious subjects in his house, for he must, after this life, give an account before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin, keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives? Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters? The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith, will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the Apostle writes:
But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I. Tim. V. 8.)
Subjects should learn from the centurion’s servants who obeyed his only word, that they also should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Col. III. 22-24.)
January 20, 2017 No Comments