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Prayer to the Infant Jesus to Be Said By a Sick Person

O MERCIFUL Infant Jesus! I know of Thy miraculous deeds for the sick. How many diseases Thou hast cured during Thy blessed life on earth, and how many venerators of Thy Miraculous Image ascribe to Thee their recovery and deliverance from most painful and hopeless maladies. I know, indeed, that a sinner like me has merited his sufferings and has no right to ask for favors. But in view of the innumerable graces and the miraculous cures granted even to the greatest sinners through the veneration of Thy holy infancy, particularly in the miraculous statue of Prague or in representations of it, I exclaim with the greatest assurance: O most loving Infant Jesus, full of pity, Thou can cure me if Thou willest! Do not hesitate, O Heavenly physician, if it be Thy will that I recover from this present illness; extend Thy most holy hands, and by Thy power take away all pain and infirmity, so that my recovery may be due, not to natural remedies, but to Thee alone. If, however, Thou, in Thy inscrutable wisdom have determined otherwise, then at least restore my soul to perfect health, and fill me with heavenly consolation and blessing, that I may be like Thee, O Jesus, in my sufferings, and may glorify Thy providence until, at the death of my body, Thou doth bestow on me eternal life. Amen.

January 16, 2019   No Comments

Interview with Dr Kwasniewski on “Beauty—God’s Messenger”

From New Liturgical Movcment

NLM readers may wish to know about a new magazine, Calx Mariaepublished four times a year by Voice of the Family in the U.K. The editor, Maria Madise, invited me to do an interview on the theme of “Beauty—God’s Messenger,” for the third issue, which recently appeared in print. I hope I am allowed to say, in spite of being a contributor myself, that I find the content and the production values extremely high. It is truly one of the nicest publications I’ve seen in a long time, and a sight for sore eyes in these days of internet-dominated news and features. For subscriptions and copies of individual issues, visit this link.

With the editor’s permission, the full interview is reproduced below.

Maria Madise: Throughout history, the Church has sought out beautiful music, art, architecture and the finest craftsmanship. Why do these things play a crucial role in Catholic spirituality and formation? 

Peter Kwasniewski: The reason is simple: we were made by God as creatures of flesh and blood. We learn through our senses. When God revealed the Law to Moses, He made use of a lofty mountain, lightning, thunder, dark clouds, blood, and stone tablets. When He commanded the building of the tabernacle, He showed the pattern of it in fine detail, demanding the most expensive materials. When God spoke to Elijah, He first made a lot of noise, and then revealed Himself in a “soft, small voice.” When Our Lord wished to give Himself most intimately to His disciples, He used bread and wine, in the midst of a highly structured religious ritual. We can think of thousands of examples from divine revelation of “theophanies,” that is, the manifestation of God in various signs and figures. The Jewish liturgy in temple and synagogue continued this pattern, and obviously Christian liturgy did as well, moved above all by the miracle of the Son of God Himself taking on flesh and blood. The Catholic Faith, with the power of the Incarnation behind it, developed the richest and most beautiful culture the world has ever known—but all in the service of pointing beyond itself, to God.

What is the purpose of beauty? Is it practical or functional?

Beauty is God’s first, last, and most effective messenger. We learn that the world is good and orderly because of the beauty of nature, which we only later come to understand intellectually. And just as we come to know God through His divine artistry, we see the inner beauty of the human person most of all in the great works of human art. A painter like Rembrandt helps us to see the immense, almost heartbreaking beauty of an old man or old woman’s face, which we might otherwise rush past or even find ugly. Christ Himself is “the fairest of the sons of men,” as Scripture says, but He allowed Himself to become “a man of sorrows,” marred beyond belief, to tell us something unforgettable about the invisible Beauty of love, of sacrifice for love. The Church therefore cannot and must not flee from her role of introducing mankind to this immortal Lover, both in the beauties that appeal to our senses, and in the deeper mystery that no sense can reach.

What is the role of beauty in the formation of children and young people? 

The first thing a baby notices in the world is his mother’s face, which establishes a first and permanent vision of beauty—not necessarily as the world sees it, but because love discloses the truth.

As a child grows in the family, his parents have the serious obligation to train him or her in a love of the beautiful by reading good stories, memorizing poetry, putting up good artwork, making art together, and attending liturgy that is outwardly very beautiful, if at all possible. All these things are part of a subtle and pervasive education of taste, sensibility, instinct, and intuition. When we are brought up with beauty, we have a sense of propriety, respect, nobility, dignity. These things are proto-religious or para-religious attitudes that heavily influence the course of one’s life. Without them, we are much more vulnerable to the winds of false doctrine and shoddy excuses.

A typical European street corner

How would you explain to someone what exactly culture is and what is Catholic culture? 

It is not easy to define culture. In a recent lecture I tried my hand at it: culture is “the shared ways in which a society or people is accustomed to expressing, celebrating, and inculcating its vision of reality.” Maybe that’s too broad. Culture is always concerned with the concrete expression of ideas and values. How we eat our food, what we drink and when and why, how we dress and speak, what our buildings and vehicles look like, all this is culture, and does, in fact, express a worldview (or perhaps an eclectic mingling of worldviews).

In Europe above all, Catholics developed an extremely rich culture in which even the littlest objects of daily use were decorated beautifully and often with explicit reference to the doctrines of the Faith. In this way, there was a continuum from the cup at home to the chalice on the altar, from the dinner bell to the cathedral bell, from the tablecloth to the houseling cloth. The images of Our Lady and the saints presided over everything—our familiar companions in this world, but as a reminder that “we have here no abiding city: we seek one that is to come.”

A Catholic culture, then, is what a society inspired by the Faith will produce and cherish: an environment that turns the mind to God gently and frequently, making full use of the high beauties of fine art and the rugged genius of folk art, the impressive pageantry of ceremonial and the stabilizing force of rituals. The result is a joyful impregnation of the whole of life with the immense reality of God, too great to be limited to any domain or any one expression.

Should there be an overlap in liturgical and popular culture? If yes, in what form? If no, why not? 

I think, in fact, it has been a tragedy that high culture and popular culture have parted ways almost completely, and that the liturgy is no longer the driving force of culture, as it had been for well over a thousand years. Today’s “inculturation” is often cheap, random, and secular, because it is not guided by strong and clear thinking rooted in divine revelation and Church tradition.

For example, people try to take contemporary pop music and bring it into the liturgy. This is a giant mistake, because this music is saturated with emotionalism, strongly associated with the liberal anti-culture and its sexual promiscuity. It does exactly the opposite of what church music is supposed to do: raise the mind up to God, purify the heart of disordered affection, discipline the body. Instead of assisting in our assimilation of the Word of God, it rather promotes the secularization of religion.

But it is possible to do inculturation well. The missionaries of Europe who came to the New World often incorporated external features of the evangelized cultures into music, devotions, and visual arts. For instance, Spanish missionaries in Mexico taught the natives how to compose in the style of Renaissance polyphony, but allowed or even encouraged the addition of native flutes and percussion. The result still sounds ecclesiastical, yet with a Central American flavor to it. (If you are interested in listening to some of it, just look up the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble, or SAVAE.)

Prodigal son as metaphor (detail from Rembrandt)

What is our duty as the heirs of Catholic tradition? Do we need to reform, preserve, or recreate? 

This is an important question. Here is what Our Lord Himself teaches us in the parable of the prodigal son. What we do to, or with, our family inheritance shows what we think of our father and of our entire family. Now, no one can deny that things like Latin, Gregorian chant, and offering Mass ad orientem are central, constitutive, and characteristic treasures of our Catholic patrimony. The liturgical reform suppressed them or marginalized them, acting just like the prodigal son who squandered his family wealth on loose living and ended up impoverished and miserable. The only way out of this bad situation is what the parable shows: conversion, repentance, return, and reestablishment in the house of the father.

The right attitude towards our inheritance is to protect it, preserve it, defend it, and make use of it to the greatest extent possible. To do this, we must know it, and the better we come to know it, the more we will love it. This love, in turn, will inspire new works of beauty in continuity with what has come before. That is the experience of every serious Catholic artist—architect, painter, iconographer, sculptor, composer, poet. Knowing our tradition, we imitate it, emulate it, develop it, and carry it forward into the 21st century. There is no need to seek originality. The only fully original person is God the Father, since He has no origin from anyone else; even the Son is not original, but originated; and the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. God Himself teaches us that the perfection of all persons after the Father consists in their derivation from another. The creature who tried to be wholly original was Lucifer, of whom Our Lord says that he is “the father of lies” because he “speaks from himself.” That’s where sheer originality will get you: into hell. And that, of course, is what we see in so many modern artists.

Incidentally, Martin Mosebach has made the observation that the notion of reform makes sense only if one takes the word itself seriously: it is a return to form, a re-forming of that which has lost good form. Reform doesn’t mean loosening up, wandering off, or blowing things up. It means more discipline, more attachment to good models, more self-control, more humility in the service of greatness. That’s the kind of reform that the Church always needs, not the “reform” we have gotten in the past half-century, which should more truthfully be called deformation.

How would you describe your own discovery of Catholic tradition and what effect did it have on your formation and work? 

For me, the discovery of Gregorian chant was a huge revelation. I can’t say why I was so fascinated by it at the tender age of 17, but then again, the chant really is mesmerizing and haunting in a way that no other music is. By listening to recordings of the Wiener Hofburgkapelle, I taught myself to read the neumes in an old Graduale Romanum that had been discarded by the Benedictine boys’ school I was attending at the time. I think my study of composition—being introduced to J. S. Bach’s chorales and trying to imitate them in my exercises—also played a role: there is something about this kind of discipline that helps the mind to perceive beauty not as something vague, fluffy, and sentimental, but as the result of labor, craft, rule.

Other important influences at the end of high school included the reading of Plato’s dialogues and Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. At the time, I felt that Plato, though a pagan, was really “one of us”—a sort of “closet Catholic”—and that to be educated meant to read Plato, and authors like him. All this made me want to go to a college where I could be steeped in the riches of Catholicism that I had begun to taste. That’s why I went to Thomas Aquinas College in California, where I could study the “Great Books.”

Attending TAC introduced me to a world of immense depth and beauty. This included the traditional Latin Mass, where all that is purest, loftiest, and loveliest in the Catholic Faith comes to roost. I think of that psalm verse: “Even the sparrow finds herself a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God” (Ps 83:4 [84:3]). The Mass truly was and must once again become the inspiring force of Catholic culture. Certainly for me and my family, it has been the place where we can make a spiritual home, and where we may bring up our young in the peace and fragrance of Christ.

A prayer corner

So much of modern culture is ugly, even grotesque, many people have a real hunger for what is beautiful and good. Can you suggest how we may satisfy this hunger? 

I strongly believe, as I hinted earlier, that we need to surround ourselves with beauty. I don’t mean in a cluttered or kitschy way, but by suitable decorations, by investing if we can in works of art, by listening to really good music (and by this, I do not mean any particular period, but certainly not pop, rock, rap, techno, or any of that barbaric stuff, which is the musical equivalent of junk food or drugs), and by seeking to understand the greatest art that European and Catholic civilization has bequeathed to us. I would recommend several practical steps.

First, find the most beautiful celebration of the liturgy you can, and go to it. If it’s in a beautiful church, even better! The liturgy is where most of the fine arts blossomed and where they are meant to be experienced: as offerings to God, caught up in (and ideally assisting in) the ascending movement of prayer. The liturgy is not just the “source and summit” of the Christian life, it is also—or it has been and should once again be—the source and summit of Christian culture as well.

Second, think about the rooms you are living and working in, and how you might elevate them with prints, watercolors, engravings, etc. It takes time to find works of ‘original’ art, but in the mean time, or supplementally, a good quality giclee reproduction of a Fra Angelico or a Giotto, a Rembrandt or a Vermeer can make a big difference in the ambience, encouraging a more contemplative spirit. (I recommend The Catholic Art Company, which has a fine selection. They don’t sell junk, and they don’t support immoral causes.)

Third, pick a place in your home and make it the “prayer corner,” with icons or holy images, a candle, holy water, rosaries, flowers. This should be a place around which it is natural to gather for morning or evening prayers. (You can read more about this in David Clayton and Leila Lawler’s The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home. Other beautiful customs can develop from this center point; see Mary Reed Newland’s We and Our Children: How to Make a Catholic Home.)

Fourth, acquire some good recordings of sacred and “classical” music, and take time to listen to them, to develop your ear and your soul. (At LifeSite News, I’ve written some pertinent articles: “What makes Gregorian chant uniquely itself—with recommended recordings” and “These new recordings of sacred music will transport you to the courts of the King.”)

Fifth, make time for ongoing education. I cannot recommend highly enough the lectures by art historian William Kloss available from The Great Courses: such eye-opening and fascinating explorations of the genius of the greatest artists, who have a special gift for seeing—and thus, for helping us to see—the luminous depths of reality. Obviously, if one can visit a good or great museum, one should do this on a fairly regular basis.

Sixth, at least once a year, go on pilgrimage. The pilgrim, too, gets to enjoy the sights and sounds of the journey and the destination, but he has a higher purpose than the mere tourist. Aesthetic experience becomes more meaningful when united to the love of God, the practice of religion, and the expression of devotion to a saint and to Our Lord Himself. This is what I loved, by the way, about attending the All Souls Pontifical Requiem Mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago this past November 2nd: the choir and orchestra performed Mozart’s Requiem in its authentic liturgical context. Somehow, hearing it in the right place and at the right time made the music even better.

Seventh, if we have the means, or if we are in a position to influence people of means, we should try to patronize new works of art that are truly beautiful, and if intended for the Church, truly sacred also. I admire clergy and laity who, when a special occasion is coming in the future, commission a piece of music or a painting for the occasion. Obviously, as a composer myself, I recognize that if Catholics stop asking for and expecting good art for the Church, good artists will starve and disappear. The same can be said of supporting music programs and the right kind of church restorations (often undoing the damage wrought by postconciliar iconoclasts).

In your new book Tradition and Sanity you make a number of compelling arguments in favour of returning to the traditional liturgy—not for liturgical or aesthetic reasons alone, but also because the way we live the Sacrifice of the Mass lies at the heart of every aspect of our lives. Could you explain this a little?

In keeping with what I was saying earlier about how a grateful son should approach his father’s house and his family patrimony, I would say that worshiping God with the Roman Catholic liturgy in the form in which it organically developed for a period of over 1,500 years is crucial to having (or, for many, to recovering) a stable identity, a profound spirituality, a sound doctrinal foundation, and a compass for the moral life—this, in addition to the obvious literary and artistic merits that the old liturgy has in itself and has inspired for so many centuries.

Given that Catholicism is inherently a religion of tradition, it should strike us as quite troubling that Catholics of today pray in a manner terribly different from, and even at odds with, how our ancestors prayed, including the vast majority of saints. Either they were wrong and we are the enlightened ones—or, rather more likely, we have gone off the rails in our quest for modernization and need to get back on if we would reach our destination safely. Liturgy is not something that each age needs to redesign and recreate in its own image. On the contrary, the vicissitudes of history are to a large extent transcended in a still point, an immovable center, a pole star from which we can always take our bearings. You could apply to the Mass the Carthusian motto: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, “the Cross is steady while the world is turning.” This, to my mind, is the reason why the old liturgy is winning so many “converts” today. The world is turning at a mad pace, careening out of control, and unfortunately, because of the conciliar prejudice for aggiornamento, the world has pulled the postconciliar liturgy in its wake, like a moon orbiting a planet. The classic Roman liturgy abides in its grandeur, and seems, perhaps not too surprisingly, more “relevant” to us today than something devised by a committee in the 1960s.

My book goes into all this, but also into the crisis in the papacy and in evangelization, which I believe are linked with this tragic decision to “re-orient” Catholicism along new lines. This has led not to renewal but to accelerating deformation and irrelevance. Thanks be to God, we see a countermovement gaining strength across the world, and characterized by its opposition, point for point, to the official program. That will be the drama of the next decades: how this massive “civil war” inside the Church plays out under the hand of Divine Providence.

The Table of Contents of this third issue:

January 16, 2019   No Comments

The Feast of the Holy Family

Image result for traditional latin mass

Introit (Proverbs 23. 24, 25)

The father of the Just rejoiceth greatly, let Thy father and Thy mother be joyful, and let her rejoice that bore Thee. Ps. 83. 2-3. How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. ℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. — The father …

Collect

O Lord Jesus Christ, who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with ineffable virtues: grant that, with the aid of both, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to eternal fellowship with them: Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

Epistle from Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, 3. 12-17.

Brethren, Put ye on therefore, 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 do 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, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gradual (Psalm 26. 4)

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. (Ps. 83. 5.) Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, O Lord, they shall praise Thee for ever and ever. Alleluia, alleluia. (Isa. 45. 15.) Verily Thou art a hidden King, the God of Israel, the Savior. Alleluia.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke, 2. 42-52.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was inthe company, they came a day’s journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him they wondered. And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with God and men.

Offertory (Luke 2. 22)

The parents of Jesus carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.

Secret

We offer unto Thee, O Lord, this propitiatory Sacrifice, humbly entreating Thee: that through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, Thou wouldst firmly establish our families in Thy peace and grace. Through the same, our Lord …

Communion (Luke 2. 51)

Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.

Postcommunion

Make us, O Lord Jesus, whom Thou dost refresh with heavenly Sacraments, ever follow the example of Thy Holy Family: that in the hour of our death, the glorious Virgin Thy Mother with blessed Joseph may come to our aid, and we may be found worthy to be received by Thee into everlasting tabernacles: Who livest and reignest …

Commentary

The special devotion which sets forth the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the model of virtue for all Christian households began in the seventeenth century. It commenced almost simultaneously in Canada and France: the Association of the Holy Family being founded in Montreal in 1663, and the Daughters of the Holy Family in Paris in 1674. Numerous other congregations and associations under the Patronage of the Holy Family have been established since that time, and they are spread over the world. The archconfraternity was established by Bl. Pius IX in 1847. In 1893, Leo XIII approved a Feast for Canada, and Pope Benedict XV extended the Feast of the Holy Family to the whole Church and ordered its celebration to take place on the Sunday after the Epiphany. Commentary by Fr. Sylvester Juergens S.M. (1894-1969).

January 12, 2019   No Comments

An exclusive interview with Father Davide Pagliarani

Father Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, granted an exclusive interview to La Porte Latine, in which he recalls the fruitfulness of the Cross for vocations and families. He insists particularly on the need to keep the authentic spirit of our founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church”, when faced with the recent canonization of Paul VI and the promotion of synodality in the Church.

“The future of the Church and vocations is in families where the parents have planted Our Blessed Lord’s Cross.”

La Porte Latine – It has now been five months since you were elected Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, for a twelve-year mandate. These five months have certainly allowed you to make a short overview of the work, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, complementing your already rich personal experience. What general impression have you made and have you drawn up your first priorities for the coming years? 

The Society is a work of God, and the more we discover it, the more we love it. Two things strike me most in discovering the Society’s labours. Firstly, the providential character of the Society: it is the result of the result of choices and decisions of a saint, guided only by a supernatural and “prophetic” prudence, whose wisdom we appreciate even more as the years go by and as the crisis in the Church gets worse. Secondly, I have been able to see that we are not some privileged people, whom God has spared: He sanctifies all our members and our faithful through failures, trials, disappointments, and in a nutshell, through the Cross – and not by any other means.

Vocations come from homes where there is no spirit of bitterness or criticism towards priests.

La Porte Latine– With 65 new seminarians this year, the Society holds a new record of entries into its seminaries over the past thirty years. You were Rector of the La Reja Seminary (Argentina) for almost six years. How do you intend to foster the development of even more numerous and stronger vocations? 

I am convinced that the true solution to increase the number of vocations and their perseverance, does not reside primarily in human and, so to speak, “technical” means, such as newsletters, apostolic visits or publicity. First of all, a vocation needs to hatch in a home where Our Blessed Lord, with his Cross and His priesthood, is loved. A home where there is no spirit of bitterness or criticism towards priests. It is through osmosis, through contact with truly Catholic parents and priests deeply imbued with the spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ that a vocation awakens. It is at this level that we must continue to work with all our strength. A vocation is never the result of speculative reasoning, or from a lesson we have received, with which we intellectually agree. These elements can help someone answer God’s call, but only if we follow what we said earlier.

La Porte Latine– On October 14th, Pope Francis canonized the Pope who personally signed all the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope of the New Mass, the Pope whose pontificate was marked by 80,000 priests abandoning their priesthood. What does this canonization mean for you?

This canonization must call us to a profound reflection, far beyond the emotions of the media that only lasted a few hours and left no deep traces, neither among its supporters nor its opponents. On the contrary, after a few weeks that singular emotion risks turning everyone to indifference. We must be careful not to fall into these traps.

Firstly, it seems to me quite obvious that with the beatifications or canonizations of all the popes since John XXIII, they have tried, in a certain way, to “canonize” the Council, the new conception of the Church and of Christian life, as established by the Council and promoted by all recent popes.

This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of the Church. The Church, after the Council of Trent, never dreamed of canonizing all the popes without distinction, from Paul III to Sixtus V. She canonized only Saint Pius V, and not simply because of his links with the Council of Trent, or of its application, but because of his personal holiness, proposed as a model to the whole Church and put at the service of the Church as Pope.

The phenomenon we are currently witnessing makes us think rather of the renaming of roads and city centres, in the aftermath of a revolution or a change of regime.

However, it is necessary to interpret this canonization also in the light of the present state of the Church, because the eagerness to canonize the Popes of the Council is a relatively recent phenomenon and was seen most clearly with the almost immediate canonization of John Paul II.

This determination to “hurry things up”, shows once again the fragility in which the Post Vatican II Church, is currently situated. Regardless of whether you agree or not, the Council is seen as outdated by the ultra-progressive wing and by the pseudo-reformers, one example being the German episcopate. And on the other hand, the conservatives are forces to admit, by the proof of current circumstances, that the Council has triggered a process that is leading the Church towards increased sterility. Faced with this seemingly irreversible process, it is normal that the current hierarchy, through these canonizations, is trying to restore a certain value to the Council and thus slow down the inexorable tendency of concrete facts.

To make an analogy with civil society, every time a regime is in crisis and becomes aware of it, it tries to rediscover the country’s Constitution, its sacredness, its durability, its transcendent value… Whereas, in reality, it is a sign that everything that comes from this Constitution and that is based on it, is in peril of death and that one must try to save it by all possible means. History proves that these measures are generally insufficient to revive what has had its day.

Only the Society can help the Church, in reminding it that it is a monarchy and not a chaotic modern assembly

La Porte Latine– Three years ago (on October 17th, 2015), Pope Francis delivered an important address promoting “synodality” in the Church, inviting the bishops “to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”. According to his own words, (Address of 25/11/2017), it was based on this new synodality, that he promulgated the new laws simplifying the procedure of nullity of marriage, and also that he wrote Amoris Laetitia,as a result of the synod on the family. Do you recognise in this the voice of the Holy Ghost? What can you tell us about this new expression used today by the authorities of the Church?

The cyclical debate on synodality is nothing more than the repositioning in Post-Conciliar times, the Council’s doctrine on collegiality and the problems it has created in the Church.

In fact, they speak about it very often, even in debates that have other objectives or deal with other topics. One recent example was during the last synod on youth, where the subject was mentioned for the umpteenth time. This shows that the hierarchy has not yet found a satisfactory solution – and this is inevitable, since the problem is insoluble.

Indeed, collegiality places the Church in a permanent situation of a quasi-council, with the utopia of being able to govern the Universal Church with the participation of all the bishops of the world. This has provoked, from the national Episcopal Conferences, a demand for systematic and insatiable decentralisation, which will never end. We are faced with a kind of class-struggle by the bishops, that has produced, in some Episcopal Conferences, a spirit that could be defined as pre-schismatic. Again I am thinking of the German episcopate, which offers an example of all the current deformations. Rome is in a stalemate. On the one hand, concerning the Episcopal Conferences, she must try to save what she can of her undermined authority. On the other hand, she cannot reject the conciliar doctrine or its consequences, without bringing into question the authority of the Council, and consequently the basis of current ecclesiology. In reality, they all continue to advance in the same direction, albeit at different speeds.

The ongoing debates manifest this underlying discontent, and especially the fact that this revolutionary doctrine is fundamentally contrary to the monarchical nature of the Church. A satisfactory solution can never be found, as long as the problem is not definitively rejected.

It is paradoxical, but only the Society can help the Church, in reminding the popes and the bishops that Our Blessed Lord founded a monarchical Church and not a chaotic modern assembly. The day will come when this message will be heard. But, for the moment, it is our duty to keep this deep sense of the Church and its hierarchy, despite the battlefield and ruins that lay before our eyes.

La Porte Latine– How can the Church correct the errors of the Council? After fifty years, is it realistic to think that it will happen?

From a purely human point of view, it is not realistic to think so, because we have a completely reformed Church, in every aspect of her life, without exception. There is a new conception of faith and of Christian life that has generated, on a daily basis and in a coherent manner, a new way of understanding and of living the Church. Humanly speaking, going back is impossible.

But perhaps we forget too often that the Church is fundamentally divine, despite the fact that she is incarnated in men and in the history of men. One day, a pope, against all expectations and against all human calculations, will take things in hand and all that needs to be corrected, will be corrected, because the Church is divine and Our Blessed Lord will never abandon her. In fact, he says exactly that when he solemnly promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The beauty of the divinity of the Church will be all the stronger, since the current situation seems irreversible.

La Porte Latine– 2018 was the thirtieth anniversary of the Episcopal Consecrations at Econe, conferred by Archbishop Lefebvre, in his extraordinary “Operation Survival” for Tradition. Do you consider that this act was unique by nature and that it was successful, in the sense that today other bishops agree to confer ordinations and administer confirmations in the traditional rite, or do you think that, as the years go by, other consecrations may need to be considered?

The future of the Society is in the hands of Divine Providence. It is up to us to discern the signs, in the same way as our founder did, faithfully, without ever wanting to anticipate or ignore Divine Providence. We have here, the most beautiful lesson given to us by Archbishop Lefebvre, and many of those who did not understand him at the time, have gradually reversed their judgements on him.

The true spirit of our founder: a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church, in a spirit of genuine Charity between our members.

La Porte Latine – The District of France is the oldest and the largest district, even if it is now closely followed by the US District. What are the human, material and apostolic priorities that you have set for the new superior, Father de Jorna, who was the Rector of the Econe Seminary, for 22 years?

The various priorities can be summed up in a few words. The new District Superior has the beautiful task of ensuring that the true spirit, bequeathed to us by our founder, reigns in all our houses and in all the members of the Society: a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church, and in particular, all that flows from it: a spirit of genuine Charity between our members. Insofar as we keep this spirit, we will have a good influence on souls and the Society will continue to attract many vocations.

La Porte Latine – What a beautiful and exciting program he has! However, it is necessary for the faithful to associate themselves fully with it. You saw them come in their thousands for the recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, during which you celebrated the Solemn High Mass on the Feast of Christ the King. What do you ask of them? What do you offer them?

I was profoundly touched when I saw pilgrims of all ages in Lourdes, and in particular, many families, and many children. This pilgrimage is truly remarkable and also very significant. It reminds us that the future of the Church and vocations is in families where the parents have planted Our Blessed Lord’s Cross. Indeed, it is only Our Lord’s Cross, and the generosity that results from it, that produces large families. In front of our selfish and apostate society, chastised by its own sterility, there is no nobler and more precious testimony than that of a young mother surrounded by her children, like a crown. The world may choose not to listen to our sermons, but it cannot help but see this magnificent sight. It also is true for the Society. Ultimately, and I say it again, it is the same ideal of the Cross, which calls a soul to consecrate itself to God and which calls a mother to consecrate herself generously and unreservedly to the education and sanctification of all the children that Divine Providence wishes to entrust to her.

Finally, this pilgrimage also reminds us, and above all, that any revival can only happen under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because in the current desert, there is no place in the world that continues to attract souls as much as Lourdes.

To the faithful of France, I say quite simply: remember that those who preceded you were fighters and crusaders, miles Christi, and that the current battle for the defence of the faith and the Church is without doubt the most important that history has ever known.

Happy and Holy New Year for 2019!

January 4, 2019   No Comments

FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD

Image result for photos for the feast of the epiphany

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year

[The INTROIT, the COLLECT, and the EPISTLE, are the same as on the Sunday after Christmas.]

GOSPEL (Mt. 2:19-23). At that time: when Herod was dead, behold an Angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the life of the child. Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep, retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by the prophets: that he shall be called a Nazarite.

INSTRUCTION In this we see how wonderfully God deals with His own. He indeed permits them to be persecuted and oppressed, but never to be suppressed, and from time to time He gives them many consolations. Jesus was forced to flee into Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod, because God did not wish to save Him by an evident miracle, but in an ordinary manner. He lived in poverty in Egypt, but for no longer time than God willed, Who having confounded His enemies, and taken them out of His way, called Him back, and He passed His youth in peace and quietness. The dispensations of God the Father in regard to His Son, and the care He had for Him, should be a consolation for the just; they must be happy if God deals with them as He did with His Son; they will certainly, like Christ, be made to suffer no more than God permits, and their sufferings will be ever accompanied by consolations. St. Joseph avoided the land of Judea, because he feared since Archelaus succeeded Herod in the government, he might also imitate him in his cruelty. A Nazarite means, a low person, a despised person. Jesus was so called, because He grew up at Nazareth, and spent the greater part of His life in that city, which was held in such contempt by the Jews that they could not believe, anything good could come out of Nazareth (Jn. 1:46).

FEAST OF EPIPHANY

What festival is this?

This festival is set apart to solemnly commemorate the coming of the three wise men from the East, guided by a miraculous star which appeared to them, and directed them to Bethlehem, where they found Christ in the stable; here they honored and adored Him and offered gifts to Him.

Why is this day called Epiphqnid Domini, or Apparition of the Lord?

Because the Church wishes to bring before our mind the three great events in the life of Christ, when He made known to man His divinity: the coming of the wise men from the East, through whom He revealed Himself to the Gentiles as the Son of God; His baptism, on which occasion His Divinity was made known to the Jews, and His first miracle at the marriage of Cana, by which He revealed Himself to His disciples.

INTROIT Behold the Lord the Ruler is come; and the kingdom is in his hand, and power and dominion (Mal. 3). Give to the king thy judgment, O God; and to the king’s son thy justice (Ps. 71:1). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT God, Who on this day by the leading of a star didst reveal Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant, that we who know Thee now by faith may be brought to contemplate the beauty of Thy majesty. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Is. 60:1-6). Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the peoples; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see; all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see, and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha; all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

EXPLANATION The Prophet Isaias, in this epistle, predicts that the light of the Lord, which is Christ, will rise over Jerusalem, the prototype of the Church, and that the Gentiles who knew nothing of the true God, would come to walk in that light which Christ, by His doctrine and holy life, would cause to shine, and that numberless nations, from all parts of the world, would assemble as her children to adore the one true God. The fulfillment of this prophecy commenced with the adoration of the Magi, who are to be regarded as the first Christian converts of the Gentiles; the Church, therefore, very properly celebrates this day with great solemnity. We ought also to share in the joy of the Church, because our ancestors were Gentiles, and like the three wise men were called to the true faith. Let us exclaim with Isaias: Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth, ye mountains give praise with jubilation: because the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy on his poor ones (Is. 49:13).

GOSPEL (Mt. 2:1-12). When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda; for so it is written by the prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda, for out of thee shall come forth the ruler that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother and falling down they adored him. And opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their own country.

What caused the three kings to undertake so tedious a journey?

A star which God permitted to appear in their land, at the sight of which they were inwardly enlightened, so that they at once recognized its signification. Let us learn from these kings who so readily responded to the inspiration of God, by immediately undertaking so difficult a journey, to follow without delay the promptings of divine grace, and from their zeal, and the fearlessness with which they asked Herod where the Messiah would be found, we should learn to seek and practice, without fear of men, whatever is necessary for our salvation.

Why did Herod fear, and all Jerusalem with him?

Because Herod, a proud, imperious, cruel, and therefore jealous king, was afraid, when he heard of a new-born king, that he would be deprived of his throne, and punished for his vices. A bad conscience is always ill at ease, and has no peace. There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord God (Is. 57:21). Jerusalem, that is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, feared because many of them were attached to Herod, and others, especially the chief priests and the scribes, feared they would be punished for their secret crimes, when the Messiah would come, of whom they knew that He shall judge the poor with justice, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked (Is. 11:4).

Why did Herod assemble the chief priests and the scribes?

Partly to find from them where the Messiah was to be born, partly and principally because God so directed it, that Herod and the chief priests, knowing the time and place of the Messiah’s birth, would have no excuse for their infidelity. In the same way God often makes known to us, in the clearest manner the most wholesome truths, yet we heed them as little as did the Jews who had sufficient knowledge of the Messiah, indeed, even showed the way to the three kings, but made no use of it for themselves, and were therefore cast away.

Why did Herod say he wished to adore the child?

This he did out of wicked hypocrisy and dissimulation. He had no other intention than to put Jesus to death, and therefore affected piety to find out exactly the time and place of His birth. Thus do those murderers of souls who desire the fall of the innocent; they do not let their evil intentions be made known at once, and so they put on sheep’s clothing, feign piety and devotion, until they creep into the heart from which, by flattery and irony about religion and virtue, and by presents, they expel shame, the fear of God, and thus murder the soul.

Why did the kings fall down and adore Christ?

Because by the light of faith they saw in the Infant at Bethlehem God Himself, and, notwithstanding the poverty of His surroundings, recognized in Him the expected Messiah, the new-born king of the Jews, and by prostrating themselves before Him paid Him the homage of their country.

Why did the kings offer gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Because it was the ancient Eastern custom, never to appear without presents before a prince or king, and the three kings, as the holy Fathers universally teach, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, desired by their presents to honor Christ as God, as king, and as man. Of this the venerable Bede writes: “The first of the kings, named Melchior, offered gold to Christ the Lord and king; the second, named Caspar, frankincense to the divinity of Christ; and the third, Balthassar, myrrh, by which was expressed that Christ, the Son of man, must die.”

How can we bring similar offerings to Christ?

We offer gold to Him, when we love Him with our whole heart, and out of love to Him, present Him our will by perfect obedience and continual self-denial, as our will is our most precious treasure. We also offer Him gold when we assist the poor by alms given in His name. We offer Him frankincense when we devoutly and ardently pray to Him, especially when we meditate upon His omnipotence, love, goodness, justice and mercy. We offer Him myrrh when we avoid carnal desires, mortify our evil inclinations and passions, and strive for purity of body and soul.

Why did the kings return by another way to their own country?

This they did by command of God. From the example of the three wise men we should learn to obey God rather than man, that we must be obedient to His directions, even if we do not understand them; so the three kings obeyed, although they may not have understood why God commanded them to flee from Herod. After we have found God we should walk in the path of virtue, and not return to our old sinful ways. “Our fatherland is paradise, heaven,” writes St. Gregory. “We have departed from it by pride, disobedience, abuse of the senses, therefore it is needed that we return to it by obedience, contempt of the world, and by taming the desires of the flesh; thus we return to our own country by another road. By forbidden pleasures we have forfeited the joys of paradise, by penance we must regain them.”

ASPIRATION Give me, O divine Savior, the faith of those Eastern kings. Enlighten my understanding with the light which enlightened them, and move my heart, that I may in future follow this light, and sincerely seek Thee who hast first sought me. Grant also, that I may really find Thee, with the wise men may adore Thee in spirit and in truth, and bring to Thee the gold of love, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification, that, having here offered Thee the sacrifice of my faith, I may adore Thee in Thy eternal glory. Amen.

January 4, 2019   No Comments

First Friday and First Saturday TLM’s for January, 2019

First Friday & First Saturday

Mass Schedule for January 2019

 The Traditional Latin Mass will be offered on

Friday, January 4th and Saturday, January 5th 
at:
Church of the Immaculate Conception 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
602 West Avenue
Jenkintown, PA 19046

(215) 884-4022

Confession and Mass will be upstairs.  The new elevator is now installed, and entry is possible from the lower level as well as through the main doors on West Avenue.

First Friday, January 4th
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church)
Location:  Church of the Immaculate Conception, Main Church
Time: 7:00 p.m., preceded by Confessions upstairs at 6:30 p.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Feria in Christmastide, Missa ‘Puer Natus Est’, offered in Reparation to The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Saturday, January 5th
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church
Location:   Church of the Immaculate Conception, Main Church
Time: 9:00 a.m., preceded by Confessions at 8:30 a.m.
This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Saturday of Our Lady, Missa ‘Vultum Tuum’, with a Commemoration of St. Telesphorus, Pope & Martyr, offered in Reparation to The Immaculate Heart of Mary.
 
For further information, please contact Mark Matthews or Pamela Maran at (215) 947-6555.
 
 

January 3, 2019   No Comments

JANUARY 1ST: FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION: SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year
(NEW YEAR’S DAY)

Why is this day so called?

Because the secular year begins with this day, as the Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent.

What should we do on this day?

An offering of the new year should be made to God, asking His grace that we may spend the year in a holy manner, for the welfare of the soul.

Why do we wish each other a “happy new year”?

Because to do so is an act of Christian love; but this wish should come from the heart, and not merely from worldly politeness, otherwise we would be like the heathens (Mt. 5:47), and receive no other reward than they.

What feast of the Church is celebrated today?

The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, Who, for love of us, voluntarily subjected Himself to the painful law of the Old Covenant, that we might be freed from the same.

What was the Circumcision?

It was an external sign of the Old Law, by which the people of that day were numbered among the chosen people of God, as now they become, by baptism, members of the Church of Christ.

What is the signification of Circumcision in the moral or spiritual sense?

It signifies the mortification of the senses, of evil desires, and inclinations. This must be practiced by Christians now, since they have promised it in baptism which would be useless to them without the practice of mortification; just as little as the Jew by exterior Circumcision is a true Jew, just so little is the baptized a true Christian without a virtuous life. Beg of Christ, therefore, today, to give you the grace of the true Circumcision of heart.

PRAYER I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus, because Thou hast shed Thy blood for me in Circumcision, and beg Thee that by Thy precious blood I may receive the grace to circumcise my heart and all my senses, so that I may lead a life of mortification in this world, and attain eternal joys in the next. Amen.

[The INTROIT of the Mass is the same as is said in the Third Mass on Christmas.]

COLLECT O God, Who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may feel the benefit of her intercession for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest, etc.

[The EPISTLE is the same as is said in the First Mass on Christmas.]

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:21). At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Why did Jesus submit to Circumcision?

That He might show His great love for us, which caused Him even at the very beginning of His life, to shed His blood to cleanse us thereby from all our sins. Furthermore to teach us obedience to the commandments of God and His Church, since He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Jewish law, although He was not in the least bound by it, which ordered that every male child should be circumcised on the eighth day after its birth (Lev. 12:3).

Why was He named Jesus?

Because Jesus means Redeemer and Savior, and He had come to redeem and save the world (Mt. 1:21). This is the holiest, most venerable, and most powerful name by which we can be saved.

What power has this name?

The greatest power, for it repels all attacks of the evil Spirit, as Jesus Himself says (Mk. 16:17). And so great is the efficacy of this most holy name that even those who are not righteous, can by it expel devils (Mt. 7:22). It has power to cure physical pains and evils, as when used by the apostles (Acts. 3:3-7), and Christ promised that the faithful by using it could do the same (Mk. 16:17). St. Bernard calls the name of Jesus a “Medicine”; and St. Chrysostom says, “This name cures all ills; it gives succor in all the ailments of the soul, in temptations, in faintheartedness, in sorrow, and in all evil desires, etc.” “Let him who cannot excite contrition in his heart for the sins he has committed, think of the loving, meek, and suffering Jesus, invoke His holy name with fervor and confidence, and he will feel his heart touched and made better,” says St. Lawrence Justinian. It overcomes and dispels the temptations of the enemy: “When we fight against Satan in the name of Jesus,” says the martyr St. Justin, “Jesus fights for us, in us, and with us, and the enemies must flee as soon as they hear the name of Jesus.” It secures us help and blessings in all corporal and spiritual necessities, because nothing is impossible to him who asks in the name of Jesus, whatever tends to his salvation will be given him (Jn. 14:13). Therefore it is useful above all things, to invoke this holy name in all dangers of body and soul, in doubts, in temptations, especially in temptations against holy chastity, and still more so when one has fallen into sin, from which he desires to be delivered; for this name is like oil (Cant. 1:2) which cures, nourishes, and illumines.

How must this name be pronounced to experience its power?

With lively faith, with steadfast, unshaken confidence, with deep­est reverence and devotion, for in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10). What wickedness, then, is theirs who habitually pronounce this name carelessly and irreverently, upon every occasion! Such a habit is certainly diabolical; for the damned and the devils constantly abuse God and His holy name.

Why does this name so seldom manifest its power in our days?

Because Christian faith is daily becoming weaker, and confidence less, while perfect submission to the will of God is wanting. When faith grows stronger among people, and confidence greater, then will the power of this most sacred name manifest itself in more wonderful and consoling aspects.

PRAYER TO JESUS IN DIFFICULTIES

O Jesus! Consolation of the afflicted! Thy name is indeed poured out like oil; for Thou dost illumine those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Thou dost disperse the blindness of the soul and dost cure its ills; Thou givest food and drink to those who hunger and thirst after justice. Be also, O Jesus! my Savior, the phy­sician of my soul, the healer of its wounds. O Jesus! Succor of those who are in need, be my protector in temptations! O Jesus! Father of the poor, do Thou nourish me! O Jesus! joy of the angels, do Thou comfort me! O Jesus! my only hope and refuge, be my helper in the hour of death, for there is given us no other name beneath the sun by which we may be saved, but Thy most blessed name Jesus!

EXHORTATION St. Paul says: All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). We should, therefore, follow the example of the saints, and continually say, at least in our hearts: “For love of Thee, O Jesus, I rise; for love of Thee I lie down; for love of Thee I eat, drink, and enjoy myself; for love of Thee I work, speak, or am silent.” Thus we will accustom ourselves to do all in the name of Jesus, by which everything is easily or at least meritoriously accomplished.

PRAYER TO BE SAID ON NEW YEAR’S DAY

O God, Heavenly Father of Mercy, God of all Consolation! we thank Thee that from our birth to this day, Thou hast so well pre­served us, and hast protected us in so many dangers; we beseech Thee, through the merits of Thy beloved Son, and by His sacred blood which He shed for us on this day in His circumcision, to for­give all the sins which, during the past year, we have committed against Thy commandments, by which we have aroused Thy indig­nation and wrath against ourselves. Preserve us in the coming year from all sins, and misfortunes of body and soul. Grant that from this day to the end of our lives, all our senses, thoughts, words, and works, which we here dedicate to Thee for all time, may be directed in accordance with Thy will, and that we may finally die in the true Catholic faith, and enjoy with Thee in Thy kingdom a joyful new year, that shall know no end. Amen.

January 1, 2019   No Comments

SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year

INTROIT For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy almighty Word, O Lord, came down from heaven, from Thy royal throne (Wis. 18:14-15). The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself (Ps. 92:1). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Almighty and everlasting God, direct our actions according to Thy good pleasure; that in the name of Thy beloved Son we may deserve to abound in good works. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Gal. 4:1-7). Brethren, as long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all: but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father: so we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: that he might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God.

EXPLANATION St. Paul desired to instruct the Galatians, many of whom still clung to the Mosaic law, that this was no longer necessary, because Christ had freed them from its hard bondage, which contained merely the rudiments, so to speak, of the one only saving faith, and had made them children and heirs of God, for which they should rejoice.

Ours is a far greater happiness than that which the Jews received, because we, through our ancestors, were converted by apostolic messengers of the faith from heathenism to the true, saving Catholic faith, and by this holy religion were changed from vassals of Satan, into children and heirs of God. What a great advantage is this! Must it not be dearer to us than all the kingdoms of the world? Let us thank the Lord for it, and be careful not to lose this prerogative of being a child of God, an heir to heaven, let us not by sin give ourselves anew, as voluntary slaves to Satan.

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:33-40). At that time, Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted: and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she at the same hour coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.

Why did Mary and Joseph wonder at the things which were spoken of the child Jesus?

They wondered, not because that which was said of the child Jesus by Simeon was new to them, for they already knew why He was sent from God, but because of the marvelous ways in which God revealed the mysteries of the new-born Savior to Simeon, the shepherds, and to other pious people.

How is Christ set for the fall of many?

Christ is set for the fall, that is, for the eternal damnation, of all those who either reject His doctrine, or live not according to its teachings. They themselves, not Christ, are the cause of their damnation on account of their perversity and hard-heartedness. “If I had not come and spoken to them,” says Christ, “they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn. 15:22).

For whom is Christ the resurrection?

For those who believe in Him, and live in accordance with the teachings of His doctrine. These, if they persevere will at the Last Day rise to eternal life.

Why is Christ a sign that shall be contradicted?

Because, by His birth from a virgin, by His life and death, and especially by His heavenly doctrine, which is entirely opposed to the carnal spirit of this world, Christ became an object of mockery and blasphemy. Even now, according to the saying of St. Bernard, Christ is a sign of contradiction for many Christians who contradict His humility by their pride, His poverty by their avarice, His fasting by their gluttony, His purity by their impurity, His zeal by their indolence, etc., thus denying by their actions that which they confess with their lips, proving thereby that they are Christians but in name, of whom it is written: “Thou hast the name of being alive, but thou art dead” (Apoc. 3:1).

What is meant by these words: Thy own soul a sword shall pierce?

It means that the greatest grief should cut like a sword through the inmost parts of the soul, which came to pass, when Mary heard the calumnies and blasphemies of the Jews against her Son, and when she saw Him die on the cross between two thieves. Meditating on this grief of the most loving mother Mary, St. Bonaventure exclaims: “Never was there grief so great, for never was there a Son so loved!”

What else do we learn from this gospel?

The widows should learn from Anna, who spent nearly all her life in the temple, to serve God by prayer and fasting; for a widow who prays not, but lives in pleasures, is dead, while she is living (I Tim. 5:6). Parents should learn from it, to be careful that their children not only increase in knowledge, but that they by a pious life advance in grace before God and man.

ASPIRATION O Jesus, Thou new-born Savior, do Thou move our hearts to the fulfillment of Thy precepts that Thou mayst be set for our fall; for it would be much better for us, not to have known the ways of righteousness, than having known them, to have departed from them.

INSTRUCTION ON BLESSING

And Simeon blessed them “(Lk. 2: 34).

What is meant by a blessing?

A blessing on the part of God, means the giving to man some spiritual or temporal grace; a blessing on the part of an angel or a man, means the expression in prayer of a wish or desire that God would give to some particular person a corporal or spiritual grace. In the proper sense of the word, only God can give a blessing, because all spiritual and temporal good comes from Him; angels and men can only wish and ask of God that He would bestow His gifts.

Have we examples of blessing in the Bible?

Yes, for the angels blessed Jacob (Gen. 32:26), and Jacob blessed his sons and grandsons (Gen. 48:15), Melchisedech blessed Abraham (Gen. 14:19), and Rebecca was blessed by her brothers (Gen. 24:60).

Is it well for parents to bless their children?

Yes, for God frequently ratifies the blessings wished by the parents, as in the case of Isaac who blessed Jacob, and Jacob who blessed his own sons (Gen. 49). And, on the contrary, God permits the curses of parents to be fulfilled on their children as history shows. “The father’s blessing establisheth the houses of the children; but the mother’s curse rooteth up the foundation” (Ecclus. 3:11).

What power has the priest’s blessing?

A very great one, because it is given by the priest, the vicar of Christ on earth, in the name of Jesus, and of the Church founded by Him, in which He has deposited the plenitude of His blessings. The Church expresses this, when the bishop, anointing the hands of the newly ordained, makes the sign of the cross over them. “All that they bless, is blessed; that they consecrate, is consecrated and sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The blessing of the priest is to be prized therefore, and an obstacle not set to it by a sinful life. Parents should ask his blessing for their children when he happens to visit them. Children were brought to Christ that He might lay His hands on them and bless them (Mt. 19:13).

What is the effect of God’s blessing?

In spiritual life it gives great joy and strength to practice virtue; and in physical life it gives fruitful prosperity in our occupations and undertakings. Therefore, all is contained in the blessing of God, and he who receives it, is richer than if he possessed the whole world. We should endeavor by a pious life to secure this blessing, for it rests only on the head of the just (Prov. 10:6).

December 29, 2018   No Comments

Masses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s

The Church’s Year

CHRISTMAS EVE

“Let us therefore make him a little chamber, and put a little bed in it for him and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick, that when he cometh to us, he may abide there” (IV Kings 4:13). Such was the Sunamite woman’s regard for the prophet Eliseus, that she would make such preparations for his entertainment! Will we do as much for Christ who is ready to come to us? Take pains, O Christian, to occupy this night in pious thoughts, and aspirations, for the love of God and for the good of your own soul, making yourself worthy to receive the graces which He is ready when He comes, to give you. Think how Mary, who was near her time, and Joseph her spouse obedient to the Imperial command, and perfectly submissive to the will of God, journeyed with the greatest inconvenience to Bethlehem, and when, because of the multitude of people, they found no place to receive them they took refuge, as God willed it, in a most miserable stable, at the extreme end of the town. What love does not the Savior deserve, who for love of us so humbled Himself!

COLLECT O God, who makest us rejoice in the yearly expectation of the feast of our redemption: grant, that we who cheerfully receive Thy only-begotten Son as a Redeemer, may behold without fear the same Lord Jesus Christ, coming as our judge. Through our Lord.

 

CHRISTMAS DAY

What is Christmas Day?

It is the day on which Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, was born of the Blessed Virgin in a stable at Bethlehem.

Why is this festival called “the Holy Night”?

Because this night has been especially blessed and sanctified by the holy, mysterious birth of the Redeemer of the world.

Why do priests say three Masses on this day?

In commemoration of the threefold birth of the Redeemer: of His birth from all eternity in the bosom of His Heavenly Father; of His birth in the fullness of time; and of His spiritual birth in the hearts of the faithful who, by lively faith in Him, receive the power to become children of God (Jn. 1:12).

Why is the first Mass said at midnight?

Because Christ, the true light which came into the world to enlighten those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, that is, of unbelief and of sin (Lk. 1:79), was born at night, and because the divine birth is incomprehensible to us.

Why is the next Mass said at daybreak, and the third after sunrise?

To signify that the birth of Christ, expelling the darkness of ignorance and infidelity, brought us the clear daylight of the knowledge of God, and that the spiritual birth of Christ can take place at any time in the pure soul.

When does this spiritual birth take place?

It takes place when the soul, having been cleansed from all sin, makes the firm, unalterable resolution to die to the world and all carnal desires, and arouses in itself the ardent desire henceforth to live only for Christ, and, by His grace, to practice all virtues.

INSTRUCTION ON THE FIRST MASS

The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the eternal birth of Christ, the Lord.

INTROIT The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day (that is, from all eternity) have I begotten thee (Ps. 2:7). Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things (Ps. 2:1)? Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT O God, who hast made this most sacred night to shine forth with the brightness of the true light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may enjoy His happiness in heaven, the mystery of whose light we have known upon earth. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Tit. 2:11-15). Dearly beloved, the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In what special manner has the grace and goodness of God been manifested to us?

In the incarnation and birth of Christ, His Son, whom, in His infinite love, He has made like unto us, our brother and our teacher, by whom we have become children of God, and co-heirs of His kingdom.

What does Christ by His incarnation desire to teach us especially?

That we should put aside all unrighteousness, all infidelity and injustice, and endeavor to become like unto Him, who, except in sin, has become altogether like unto us. But especially that we repress the desires of lust, wealth, and honor, and not rest until we have rooted them from our hearts.

How do we live soberly, justly, and godly?

We live soberly, when we fulfill all duties towards ourselves; justly, when we fulfill all duties towards our neighbor; and godly, when we fulfill all duties to God.

ASPIRATION Blessed art Thou, Oh! new-born Savior, who hast descended from on high to teach me the ways of justice, hast become man and equal to me. In return for this goodness of Thine, I renounce all evil, all sinful desires, words, and deeds. In return for Thy love, I will ever uproot from my heart all carnal desires, and always live soberly, justly, and godly; do Thou by Thy grace, strengthen me in this resolve.

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:1-14). At that time there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night-watches over their flock. And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round them; and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them: Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good-will.

Why, at the time of Augustus, were all the Roman subjects enrolled?

This happened by a special ordinance of God, that by this enrollment Mary and Joseph should be obliged to go to Bethlehem, that it might be made known to the world that Christ was really born at Bethlehem, of the tribe of Juda, and the house of David, and that He was the Messiah who had been foretold by the prophets (Mich. 5:2).

Let us learn from this how the providence of God directs all things according to His will, and consider the obedience which Mary rendered to the command of a heathen emperor, or rather to God who caused the command.

Why is Christ called the “first-born” of Mary?

Because she gave birth to no child before Him; she bore none after Him, He was the only son of Mary, as He was the only-begotten Son of the Heavenly Father.

Why was Christ born in such poverty?

To teach us not by words but by example that which He afterwards so often preached and forcibly taught, namely: the love of poverty, the practice of humility and patience with contempt of the world, and also to confound by His humble birth the foolish wisdom of the world which seeks only honors, pleasures and riches.

Why was the birth of Christ announced to poor shepherds, and not to King Herod and the chief priests?

That it might be known that God loves to dwell with poor, simple, pious, faithful people, such as the shepherds were, and reveals Himself to those who are little in their own eyes (Mt. 11:25), while He despises the proud and leaves them over to their own spiritual blindness.

Let us learn from this to acquire simplicity and humility, and despise pride and cunning, that God may reveal Himself to us by His interior inspirations.

What is meant by the angelic song of praise: “Glory be to God on high”?

By this song of praise which the priests usually say in the Mass is meant that the greatest praise and the most heartfelt thanks are due to God for having sent His Son into the world; and that those who have the good will to glorify God by all their actions, will receive peace, that is, all happiness, blessings, and salvation.

Rejoice with the angels over the birth of the Savior, return thanks to God, and honor Him alone in all things, that you may have that peace: peace with God, peace with yourself and peace with all men.

Learn also from the angels, who rejoiced in the graces which man would receive from the birth of Christ, to rejoice, and thank God for the favors which He gives your neighbor, and by rejoicing participate in them.

INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND MASS

In the Introit of this Mass the Church makes use of the words of Isaias:

INTROIT A light shall shine upon us this day: for our Lord is born to us: and he shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of peace, the Father of the world to come; of whose reign there shall be no end (Is. 9). The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself. Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who are filled with the new light of Thy incarnate Word, may show forth in our works what by faith shineth in our minds. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Tit. 3:4-7). Dearly beloved, the goodness and kindness of God our Savior hath appeared: not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the layer of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior: that, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs according to hope. of life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To whom do we owe our salvation?

Not to ourselves, nor any good works we may have performed, but entirely to the mercy of God who from all eternity decreed our redemption, and sent His only-begotten Son into this world to accomplish it; which redemption is bestowed upon us in baptism, where we are washed from the stain of sin, and by the rich infusion of the Holy Ghost born again, heirs of eternal life.

Why, then, had God no mercy on the fallen angels?

To this question St. John of Damascus replies: “We must know here that the fall was to the angels what death is to man; for the angels there was no repentance after the fall, as for man there is no repentance after death” (De fid. orthod. lib.2. c.4). In eternity there is no available contrition and penance, so God showed no merry to the fallen angels. Let us learn from this, to make ourselves participators in the merry of God, by contrition and penance while there is yet time.

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:15-20). At that time the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a manger. And seeing they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard wondered, and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

INSTRUCTION

I. The shepherds follow at once the voice of God which calls them to the manger; they exhort one another to do so; they seek the Redeemer and happily find Him; they make Him known to others, and heartily thank God for the grace given them.

Let us follow the inspirations of God with ready obedience; let us exhort one another to virtue by our good example and edifying conversation; let us make good use of the knowledge given us by God, give it to others, and praise God for the same.

II. Mary kept all these words, spoken about her Son, and pondered them in her heart. Let us learn from her to prepare food for our souls

by careful meditation on the divine truths that are made known to us: so that we may be preserved and strengthened in spiritual life.

INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD MASS

The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the spiritual birth of Christ, by which He is spiritually born in us:

INTROIT A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us; whose government is upon his shoulder; and his name

shall be called the Angel of great counsel (Is. 9). Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: for he bath done wonderful things (Ps. 97). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may deliver us who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Heb. 1:1-12). God, who diversely and many ways, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high: being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels bath he said at any time: Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son? And again when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of justice is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore, God, thy God, bath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth; and the works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou shaft continue; and they shall all grow old as a garment, and as a vesture shaft thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the self-same, and thy years shall not fail.

INSTRUCTION The greatness of Christ Jesus, the dignity of His divinity and humanity, the love and goodness of His Heavenly Father, who has given Him to us as our teacher, could not be more gloriously described than in this epistle. Learn from it how much you are obliged, because of this, to serve God, to be grateful to Him, and to follow Christ who governs heaven and earth; and whom the angels serve.

ASPIRATION I thank Thee, a thousand times, O Heavenly Father, that Thou hast spoken to us through Thy only-begotten Son, in whom Thou art well pleased. With my whole heart, O Father of Merry, will I listen to Him, and be obedient to all His instructions.

GOSPEL (Jn. l:1-14). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to bear witness of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.

What does St. John mean by the Word?

That the Son of God, who was begotten and brought forth like a word of the mouth from the Father, but in a manner incomprehensible and inscrutable to us, is one with the Father in the divine nature, but different from Him in person; He is also called the Word of the Father, because through Him the Father has spoken and made known the divine will (Heb. 1:2; Mt. 17:5).

What is meet by- In the beginning was the Word, ,Od the Word was with God?

When all things had their beginning the Son of God already was, not made or created, but born of the Father from eternity, with whom and in whom He therefore existed from all eternity. St. John here teaches the divinity, the eternity, and the equality of Christ with the Father.

What is meet by: All things were made by Him?

That the Son of God, Himself true God, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, has made all things, visible and invisible.

What is meant by: In Him was the life?

It means: The Son of God is the origin and fountain of the spiritual life of our souls upon earth, and of the glorious life in eternity. To give this true life to us, He became man, whereby we are born again, newly created, as it were, from the death of sin to the life of grace and righteousness.

Why is this life the light of men?

Because this true life of the soul which Christ has obtained for us, consists in the ever increasing knowledge of God and his salvation, which knowledge also comes from Christ, either externally through holy words and examples, or inwardly by divine inspiration.

How did the light shine in darkness?

The Son of God has given the necessary grace to find the true faith to mankind. He still imparts to all men the necessary light, especially by His holy Word which is preached to them, but the hardened sinners reject it, because they wish not to hear of faith and repentance.

How did St. John the Baptist bear witness of the light?

By announcing the Savior to the world, and even pointing Him out when He appeared.

Who receive Christ?

Those who walk in the light of His grace, co-operate with it, and so become the children of God.

How are we to understand: The Word was made flesh?

We are to understand by it that the Word was not changed into human nature, but that He became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, thus uniting in Himself two natures, the divine and the human. So Christ is true God, and at the same time true man, therefore God-Man; consequently there are in Christ two wills, the divine and the human. In His humanity He is less than the Father (Jn. 14:28), in His divinity He is equal to the Father On. 10:30); His humanity filled Him with a natural terror of His suffer­ings, but His divinity was perfectly united with the will of His Heav­enly Father, and could pray: Not my will, but thine be done.

ASPIRATION O God, our Heavenly Father, Who this night has given to us sinners, in the form of a child from the immaculate womb of Mary, Thine only-begotten Son as our Mediator and Redeemer, we give Thee thanks with heart and lips, and humbly beseech Thee that Thou wilt never permit us to forget such a grace, and that we may sustain ourselves by it in all temptations; that w may be ever grateful to Thee for it, and until death praise, honor and serve Thee in sanctity. Amen.

Whence comes the custom of representing in our churches and houses the crib of Bethlehem?

This custom was introduced by St. Francis of Assisi who, having a particular devotion to the Infant Jesus, was accustomed to represent to himself in this way the stable and manger at Bethlehem the further to excite his love; and as this pious practice is calculated to assist exceedingly in the instruction of the unlearned, especially of children, it was introduced into many congregations.

December 24, 2018   No Comments

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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By Fr. Leonard Goffine
The Church’s Year

On this Sunday the Church redoubles her ardent sighs for the coming of the Redeemer, and, in the Introit, places the longing of the just of the Old Law upon the lips of the faithful, again exhorting them through the gospel of the day, to true penance as the best preparation for the worthy reception of the Savior. Therefore at the Introit she prays:

INTROIT Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just (Is. 45). Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands (Ps. 18:2). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Raise up, O Lord, we pray Thee, Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us: that, by the help of Thy grace, that which our sins impede may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (I Cor. 4:1-5). Brethren, Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me, it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day: but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come: who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.

Why is this epistle read on this day?

The Church desires by this epistle to impress those who received Holy Orders on Ember Saturday with the dignity of their office, and exhorts them to fill it with becoming fidelity and sanctity, excelling the laity in piety and virtue, as well as in official dignity. She wishes again to remind the faithful of the terrible coming of Christ to judgment, urging them, by purifying their conscience through a contrite confession, to receive Christ at this holy Christmas time, as their Savior, that they may not behold Him, at the Last Day, as their severe judge.

How should the faithful regard the priests and spiritual superiors?

They should esteem and obey them as servants, stewards, and vicars of Christ; as dispensers of the holy mysteries (I Cor. 4:1); as ambassadors of the most High (II Con 5:20). For this reason God earnestly commands honor to priests (Ecclus. 7:31), and Christ says of the Apostles and their successors (Lk. 10:16): Who despiseth you, despiseth me; and St. Paul writes (I Tim. 5:17): Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double honor: especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.

Can the priest dispense the sacraments according to his own will?

No, he must have power from the Church, and must exercise his office faithfully, in accordance with the orders of the Church, and act according to the will of Christ whose steward he is. The priest dare not give that which is holy to dogs (Mt. 7:6), that is, he is not permitted to give absolution, and administer the sacraments to impenitent persons, under penalty of incurring eternal damnation.

Why does St. Paul consider the judgment of men a small matter?

Because it is usually false, deceptive, foolish, and is consequently not worth seeking or caring for. Man often counts as evil that which is in itself good and, on the contrary, esteems as good that which is evil. St. Paul says: If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10). Oh, how foolish, and what poor Christians, therefore, are they, who not to displease man, willingly adopt all silly customs, and fashions in dress, manners and appearance, making themselves contemptible to God, the angels, and saints. Recall the beautiful words of the Seraphic St. Francis: “We are, what we are in the sight of God, nothing more”; learn from them to fulfil your duties faithfully, and be indifferent to the judgment of the world and its praise.

Why does not St. Paul wish to judge himself?

Because no one, without a special revelation from heaven, can know if he be just in the sight of God or not, even though his conscience may accuse him of nothing, for “man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred” (Eccles. 9:1). Thus St. Paul goes on to say, that though he was not conscious of any wrong, he did not judge himself to be justified, God only could decide that. Man should certainly examine himself as much as is in his power, to find if he has anything within him displeasing to God; should he find nothing he must not judge himself more just than others, but consider that the eyes of his mind may be dimmed, and fail to see that which God sees and will reveal to others at the judgment Day. The Pharisees saw no fault in themselves, and were saintly and perfect in their own estimation, yet our Lord cursed them.

ASPIRATION “O Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight no man living can be justified” (Ps. 142:2).

GOSPEL (Lk. 3:1-6). In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas: the word of the Lord came to John the son of Zachary in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Why is the time in which St. John commenced to preach so minutely described?

The Evangelist, contrary to his usual custom, describes the time minutely, and enumerates exactly, in their precise order, the religious and civil princes in office, that, in the first place, it could not be denied that this was truly the time and the year in which the promised Messiah appeared in this world, whom John baptized, and the Heavenly Father declared to be His beloved Son. Furthermore, it shows the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Patriarch Jacob (Gen. 49:10), that when the scepter would be taken away from Juda, that is, when the Jews would have no longer a king from their own tribes, the Savior would come.

What is meant by: “The word of the Lord came to John”?

It means that John was commissioned by divine inspiration, or by an angel sent from God, to preach penance and announce to the world the coming of the Lord. He had prepared himself for this work by a penitential, secluded life, and intercourse with God. We learn from his example not to intrude ourselves into office, least of all into a spiritual office, but to await the call from God, preparing ourselves in solitude and quiet, by fervent prayer and by a holy life, for the necessary light.

What is meant by: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths”?

It means that we should prepare our hearts for the worthy reception of Christ, by penance, amendment, and the resolution to lead a pious life in future. To do this, every valley should be filled, that is, all faintheartedness, sloth and cowardice, all worldly carnal sentiments should be elevated and directed to God, the highest Good, by firm confidence and ardent desire for heavenly virtues; the mountains and hills should be brought low, that is, pride, stubbornness, and ambition should be humbled, and the obstinate will be broken. The crooked shall be made straight, that is, ill-gotten goods should be restored, hypocrisy, malice, and double dealing be renounced, and our intentions turned to God and the performance of His holy will. And the rough ways shall be made plain, that is, anger, revenge, and impatience must leave the heart, if the Lamb of God is to dwell therein. It may also signify that the Savior put to shame the pride of the world, and its false wisdom by building His Church upon the Apostles, who, by reason of their poverty and simplicity, may be considered the low valleys, while the way to heaven, formerly so rough and hard to tread, because of the want of grace, is now by His grace made smooth and easy.

ASPIRATION O my Jesus! would that my heart were well prepared and smooth for Thee! Assist me! O my Savior to do that which I cannot do by myself. Make me an humble valley, fill me with Thy grace; turn my crooked and perverted will to Thy pleasure; change my rough and angry disposition, throw away in me whatever impedes Thy way, that Thou mayst come to me without hindrance. Thou alone possess and rule me forever. Amen.

INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

“Preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins”(Lk. 3:3).

What is penance, and how many kinds are there?

Penance, says the Roman Catechism (Cat. Rom. de Pcenit. 54), consists in the turning of our whole soul to God, hating and detesting the crimes we have committed, firmly resolving to amend our lives, its evil habits and corrupt ways, hoping through the mercy of God to obtain pardon. This is interior penance, or the virtue of penance. The sincere acknowledgment of our sins to a priest and the absolution he accords, is exterior penance, or the holy Sacrament of Penance, which Christ instituted (Jn. 20:22-23), through which the sins committed after baptism, are remitted.

Which of these penances is necessary for the forgiveness of sins?

Both are necessary, for unless the conversion of the heart to God, a true consciousness of, and sorrow for sin, the firm purpose of amendment and confidence in God’s mercy, precede the confession, declaring all our sins to a priest cannot obtain forgiveness of mortal sin committed after baptism. At the same time a really contrite turning to God, will not, without confession to a priest, obtain forgiveness, except when by circumstances, a person is prevented from approaching the tribunal of penance. Such a person must, however, have the ardent desire to confess as soon as possible.

Can any one who has committed mortal sin be saved without penance?

No, for penance is as necessary to such a one as baptism, if he wishes not to perish: Unless you do penance, says Christ, you shall all likewise perish (Lk. 13:3, 5).

Is this penance performed at once?

This penance is necessary every day of our lives: that is, we must from day to day endeavor to be heartily sorry for our sins, to despise them, to eradicate the roots of sin, that is, our passions and evil inclinations, and become more pleasing to God by penance and good works.

Why do so many die impenitent?

Because they do not accept and use the many graces God offers them, but put off their repentance. If such sinners, like the godless King Antiochus (II Mac. 9) intend to repent on their deathbed for fear of punishment, they usually find that God in His justice will no longer give them the grace of repentance, for he who when he can repent, will not, cannot when he will. “Who will not listen at the time of grace,” says St. Gregory, “will not be listened to’ in the time of anxiety.” And it is to be feared that he who postpones penance until old age, will not find justice where he looked for mercy.

Can all sinners do penance?

With the grace of God all can, even the greatest sinners; as a real father God calls them when He says: As I live …I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will ye die, O house of Israel? And the wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness (Ezech. 33:11-12).

Do all who go to confession perform true penance?

Unfortunately they do not; for all is not accomplished with confession. If there is no sincere detestation of sin, no true sorrow for having offended God; if the evil inclinations and bad habits are not overcome, ill-gotten goods restored, and calumny repaired, the occasions of sin avoided; if a sincere amendment of life, or, at least, its earnest purpose does not follow, then indeed, there cannot be the least shadow of true repentance, not even though such persons confess weekly. But alas! we see many such. And why? Because many think repentance consists simply in confession, and not in the amendment of their lives. Only those obtain pardon who are truly penitent, and perform all that is enjoined upon them in confession. It is well, therefore, to read and carefully act according to the following instructions.

I. ON THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

The foundation of true repentance, interior and exterior (see the preceding pages), is the vivid knowledge of our sins. There are many who are unconscious of the most grievous sins in which they are buried; blinded by self-love they do not even regard them as sins, do not confess them, perform no penance for them and are consequently eternally lost. To prevent this great evil, the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV c.5) ordered a careful examination of conscience before confession, and afterwards to confess the sins which are discovered by that examination.

Why should we examine our conscience?

Because, as St. Ignatius says, no one can become fully aware of his own faults, unless God reveals them by a special light; we should, therefore, first of all, daily ask the Holy Ghost to enlighten us, and should then examine our thoughts, desires, words, actions, and omissions since our last valid confession and how often we have sinned in these respects. To know this, we should let our conscience, that is, the inner voice which tells us what is good and what is evil, speak freely, without flattering ourselves, or passing it by negligently. St. Charles Borromeo says, we should place before our eyes the Ten Commandments of God and carefully compare our life and our morals with them; it is well also to examine ourselves on the seven deadly sins, and remember the places and persons with whom we have been in contact, the duties of our state of life, the vices to which we are most inclined, the consequences that were, or might have been produced upon ourselves or others. At the same time, we should imagine ourselves standing before the judgment seat of God, and whatever would cause us fear there, whatever we could not answer for there, we should look upon as sins, be sorry for, and confess.

Is it a sin not to examine ourselves long and carefully?

Certainly it is a sin for those to examine their consciences carelessly, who live unfaithfully and in mortal sin, and who seldom confess, because they expose themselves frivolously to the danger of leaving out great sins, and consequently they make a sacrilegious confession, committing thereby a new and grievous sin.

Those who daily ask God for enlightenment and examine their conscience at least every evening before going to bed, will prepare themselves properly before approaching the tribunal of penance. “Behold, you have a book in which you write your daily expenses,” says St. Chrysostom, “make a book of your conscience, also, and write there your daily sins. Before you go to bed, before sleep comes, take your book, that is, your conscience, and recall your sins, whether of thought, word, or deed. Say then to your soul: Again, O my soul, a day is spent, what have we done of evil or of good? If you have accomplished some good, be grateful to God; if evil, resolve to avoid it for the future. Shed tears in remembrance of your sins; ask forgiveness of God, and then let your body sleep.”

II. ON CONTRITION

“O man,” cries St. Augustine, “why dost thou weep over the body whence the soul has departed, and not over the soul from which God has withdrawn?” The idolatrous Michas (Judg. 18:23-24) complained bitterly, because his idols were taken from him; Esau grieved greatly over the loss of his birthright and his father’s blessing (Gen. 27:34). Should we not therefore, be filled with sorrow, when by our sins we have lost God and Heaven?

What is contrition, and how many kinds are there?

“Contrition is a hearty sorrow and detestation of our sins, with a firm purpose of sinning no more” (Conc. Trid., Sess. XIV, can. 4). If this grief and detestation comes from a temporal injury, shame or punishment, it is a natural sorrow; but if we are sorry for our sins, because by them we have offended God, and transgressed His holy law, it is a supernatural sorrow; this, again, is imperfect when fear of God’s punishment is the motive; it is perfect, if we are sorry for our sins, because we have offended God, the supreme Lord and best of Fathers.

Is natural sorrow sufficient for a good confession?

It is not, because it proceeds not from a supernatural motive, but from the love or fear of the world. A mere natural sorrow for our sins worketh death (II Cor. 7:10). If one confess his sins having only a natural sorrow for them, he commits a sacrilege, because the most necessary part of the Sacrament of Penance in wanting.

What other qualities are necessary for a true contrition?

Contrition should be interior, proceeding from the heart and not merely from the lips; it must be universal, that is, it must extend to all the mortal sins which the sinner has committed; it must be sovereign, that is, he must be more sorry for having offended God, than for any temporal evil; it must be supernatural, that is, produced in the heart by supernatural motives; namely, because we have offended God, lost His grace, deserved hell, etc.

What kind of sorrow must we have in order to obtain forgiveness of our sins?

That sorrow which proceeds from a perfect love of God, and not from fear of temporal or eternal punishment. This perfect contrition would suffice for the forgiveness of sins, if in case of danger of death, there should be a great desire, but no opportunity to confess to a priest. But the Holy Catholic Church has declared (Conc. Trid., Sess. XIV, can. 4) the imperfect contrition which proceeds from the fear of eternal punishment to be sufficient for the valid reception of the holy Sacrament of Penance.

Who are those who have reason to fear they have aroused only a natural sorrow for their sins?

Those who care little about knowing what true sorrow is; those who often commit grievous sins, and do not amend their lives; for if true sorrow for sin had been excited in their hearts, with the firm purpose of amendment, the grace of God in this Sacrament would have strengthened the resolution, and enabled them to avoid sin, at least for a time. On account of their immediate relapse we justly doubt whether they have validly received the sacrament of penance and its sanctifying grace.

How can the sinner attain true sorrow?

The sinner can attain true sorrow by the grace of God and his own co-operation. That both are necessary is shown by the prophet Jeremias (jet. 31:18-19), who prays: Convert me, O Lord, and I shall be converted: for Thou art the Lord, my God. For after Thou didst convert me, I did penance: and after Thou didst skew unto me, I struck my thigh (with sorrow). To which God replies: If thou wilt be converted, I will convert thee Qer. 15:19). We see, therefore, that the first and most essential means for producing this sorrow is the grace of God. It must begin and complete the work of conversion, but it will do this only when the sinner earnestly and faithfully co-operates. When God in whatever way has admonished the sinner that he should be converted, let him ardently implore God for the grace of a true conversion, invoke the intercession of the Mother of the Savior, his guardian angel, and like the holy penitents, David, Peter, and Magdalen, let him meditate upon the truth that God is a just judge, who hates sin, and will punish it in the eternal torments of hell. Having placed these truths vividly before his eyes, the sinner will reflect further whether by his sins he has not himself deserved this punishment, and if by the enlightenment of God he finds he has, he will also see the danger in which he stands, that if God should permit him to die impenitent, he would have to suffer forever in hell. This fear of eternal punishment urges the sinner to hope in God’s mercy; for He wishes not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; again, our Redeemer says: I came to call the sinner to repentance, and, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who does penance, than over ninety-nine just. He considers the patience of God towards him, the graces bestowed upon him during his sinful life; namely his creation, redemption, sanctification in baptism, and many others. He will now contemplate the beauty and perfection of God: “Who art Thou, 0 my God,” he cries, “who art Thou who bast loved me with such an unspeakable love, and lowest me still, ungrateful, abominable sinner, that I am! What is all the beauty of this world of the angels and of the blessed spirits compared to Thine! Thou fountain of all beauty, of all goodness, of all that is amiable, Thou supreme majesty, Thou infinite abyss of love and merry! I for one vain thought, a short, momentary pleasure, a small, mean gain, could forget, offend and despise Thee! Could I sell, could I forfeit heaven, and eternal joy with Thee! O, could I repair those crimes! Could I but wash them out with my tears, even with my blood?” Through such meditations the sinner, by the grace of God, will be easily moved to sorrow. Without such or similar reflections the formulas of sorrow as read from prayer books or recited by heart, are by no means acts of contrition.

Should we make an act of contrition before confession only?

We should make an act of contrition before confession, and not only then, but every evening after the examination of conscience; we should make one immediately after any fault committed, above all when in danger of death; for we know not when God will call us to judgment, or whether we shall then have the grace to receive the sacrament of Penance with proper preparation.

III. ON THE PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT

The purpose of amending our life is as necessary for the remission of sin, as contrition; for how could he obtain forgiveness from God, who has not the determination to sin no more? The will to sin cannot exist with the hatred of sin.

What is necessary for a firm purpose?

A firm purpose of amendment requires: the determination to avoid sin; to flee from all occasions that might bring the danger of sinning, all persons, places, societies in which we usually sin; bravely to fight against our evil inclinations and bad habits; to make use of all means prescribed by our confessor, or made known to us by God Himself; to repair the injustice we have done; to restore the good name of our neighbor, and to remove the scandal and enmity we have caused.

Who, then, have no true purpose of amendment?

Those who do not truly intend to leave the frivolous persons with whom they have associated, and committed sin; to remove the occasions of cursing, swearing, drunkenness, and secret sins, etc.; who have the intention to borrow or to contract debts which they know they cannot pay, or do not even care to pay; to squander the property of their wives and children, letting them suffer want; to frequent barrooms, or saloons, fight, gamble, indulge in vile, filthy conversations and detraction, murmur against spiritual and temporal superiors, throw away precious time, and bring, even compel others to do the same. The saloon-keepers, who for the sake of money allure such wretched people, keep them there, and what is still worse, help to intoxicate them, participate in their sins.

IV. ON CONFESSION

Confession is a contrite acknowledgment of our sins to a priest who is duly authorized, in order to obtain forgiveness. This acknowledgment of our sins is an important and necessary part of the holy Sacrament of Penance.

Even in the Old Law, a certain kind of confession was prescribed and connected with a sacrifice, called the sacrifice of Atonement; but the forgiveness of sins was effected only through faith in the coming Redeemer, towards whom this sacrifice pointed (Lev. 5:5-6; Num. 5:7; compare Mt. 3:6). In the new Law, Christ gave to the apostles and their successors, power to forgive, and to retain sins (Jn. 20:21-23), and in doing so made them judges. Without confession on the part of the sinner, they cannot act as judges, and do justice in regard to giving punishment and remedies (Conc. Trid., Sess. XIV can. 6), and as the sinner is but seldom able to make an act of perfect contrition, which obtains the forgiveness of sin without confession, it was necessary that the most merciful Lord, as the Roman Catechism says (de poen. 5. 36), through the means of confession to the priest, should provide in an easier manner for the common salvation of man. Confession, at the same time, is the best means of bringing man to a knowledge of his sins and of their malice. Therefore, even Adam was obliged to acknowledge his sins, and in the same way Cain was asked by God concerning his brother’s murder, although God, the Omniscient, knew the sins of both. The desire to ease the troubled conscience, seems born in man. Thus David says of his crime: Because I was silent, my bones grew old, whilst I cried out all the day long (Ps. 31:3); and in the book of Proverbs it is said; He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that shall confess and forsake them, shall obtain mercy (Prov. 28:13). Constant experience in life verifies these words, and heretics could not entirely abolish private confession, though they rejected the Sacrament of Penance.

Is confession a human law, or a human invention?

No, confession was instituted by Christ Himself; for after His resurrection He appeared to His apostles and disciples, and said to them: Peace be with you! As the Father hath sent me, I also send you; that is, the same power to remit sin which the Father has given me, I give to you. When he had said this, he breathed on them, and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained (Jn.20:21-23; compare Mt. 18:18). In these words Christ evidently gave to the apostles and their successors the power to forgive and retain sins. This they can do only when the sins are confessed to them; and, therefore, Christ, when instituting the forgiveness of sins, instituted and connected with it the acknowledgment, that is, the confession of sins. This regulation of Christ was complied with by the first Christians in humility of heart, as is proved in the Acts of the Apostles, where we read: And many (referring to the Christians at Ephesus) of them that believed, came confessing and declaring their deeds (Acts 19:18). And the apostle James exhorts his own: Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved (Jas. 5:16). The work founded by Christ must stand, as long as the world, and as the apostles and disciples of our Lord died, their successors necessarily continued the work, and received the same power from Christ. This is verified by the whole history of His Church. In the very beginning of Christianity, the faithful with great sorrow confessed to the priest all their transgressions, even the smallest and most secret, after which, they received absolution. “Let us be sincerely sorry as long as we live,” says St. Clement of Rome, a disciple of St. Paul (Ep. 1. ad Cor.), “for all evil which we have committed in the flesh, for having once left the world, there will no longer be any confession and penance for us.” Tertullian (217 A.D.) writes of those who hid their sins, being ashamed to confess them: “Can we also hide from the knowledge of God that which we conceal from a fellow creature” (Lib. de qcen. 5. 36). Origen (‘1254), after speaking of baptism, says: “There is still a severer and more tedious way of obtaining remission of sin: when the sinner moistens his pillow with tears, and is not ashamed to confess his sins to the priest of the Lord” (Hom. 3 in Lev.). St. Cyprian (‘1258) writes of those Christians who during the persecutions of his time, had not sinned by openly denying the faith: “Yet because they had but thought of doing so, they make a sorrowful and simple confession to God’s priests” (Sib. de laps.). Basil (f 379) writes: “Necessarily the sins must be made plain to those to whom the power of the mysteries is confided, that is, to the priests” (In reg. brew 288). Many more testimonies could be brought from the earliest centuries of Christianity, which make it clear, that Christ Himself instituted confession, and that the faithful always availed themselves of it as a means of remission of sin. It would not have been possible for a human being, though he were the mightiest prince, to have imposed upon Catholic Christianity so hard an obligation as confession, without the special command of Christ the Son of God; nor could any one have invented it without the faithful at once revolting. It is also well known that, in the Oriental Churches which separated from the true Church in the earliest ages, private confession to a priest is yet valued as a divine institution. The Catholic institution of confession, with which, in the earliest centuries, there was even connected a public confession, before the whole congregation, for notorious sinners, is as old as the Church itself, as Pope Leo the Great (f 461) proves (Ep. 136); “The secret, auricular confession was introduced into the Church as early as the times of the apostles, or their immediate successors.” It was instituted by Christ, the God-Man, and instituted for the purpose of enabling the apostles and the priests, their successors, to remit in the confessional the sins committed after baptism, if the sinner heartily regrets them, sincerely confesses, and renders satisfaction for them, or to retain them if he be unworthy of absolution. From this it is seen that the enemies of the Catholic Church oppose, in rejecting confession, the plain expression of the holy Scriptures, and of entire Christian antiquity, and that it is a detestable calumny to assert that confession is simply a human invention. The divine institution of confession always was and is a fountain of sweetest consolation for sinful man, and thousands have experienced that which is said by the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV can. 3, depart.): “The effect of this Sacrament is reconciliation with God, followed by peace, cheerfulness and consolation of the heart in those who worthily receive this Sacrament.”

What will aid us to make confession easy?

The consideration of the manifold benefits arising from it; first, forgiveness of all, even the most grievous sins, remission of the guilt and eternal punishment; secondly, the certainty of having again been made a child of God; thirdly, the sweet consolation and desired peace of conscience; fourthly, the necessary remedies which a pious and prudent confessor will prescribe for the cure of the diseases of the soul; finally, the prayer and exhortation of the priest which will also add to the complete conversion of the sinner.

What should be done to participate in these benefits?

Besides that which has already been said of the examination of conscience, and especially of sorrow for sin, the confession must be sincere and open-hearted; that is, a correct and exact confession not only of all mortal sins, their kind, circumstances and number, without excuses, or veiling or lessening them, but also a faithful revelation of all other spiritual affairs, fears, doubts, and other wounds of the soul; for a wound which is not shown to the physician, cannot be healed. We should not seek those confessors who are only “mute dogs” (Is. 56:10), and give absolution without hesitation, but we should trust the direction of our souls to learned, pious, and zealous priests, and remain under their guidance, as in physical sickness we remain under the care of an experienced physician, and accept their words as if Christ Himself had spoken.

How should the false shame which prevents confession be overcome?

It should be remembered that the priest in the confessional is the representative of Christ, and that whoever lies to the confessor, seeks to deceive God Himself, who abominates a lie, and at the Last Day will publicly put such a liar to shame. The confessor takes the place of Christ, and after His example must be merciful to the sinner, if, a sinful man himself, he hopes to receive merry and grace from God. At the same time, no confessor is allowed to reveal the slightest thing heard in confession, even should it cost him his life. It may be considered further that he who conceals a sin in confession, and thus obtains absolution by false pretences, receives no remission, but, on the contrary, commits a new sin, “When man uncovers his sins, God covers them; when man conceals his sins, God reveals them,” says St. Augustine. Man can be deceived, but not God, the Omniscient; and who is ashamed to show his wounds to the physician? Why should it be a cause of shame to throw out the poison of sin by a sincere confession? To sin only is shameful, to confess sin is not shameful. But if by all these reflections we are still unable to overcome ourselves so as to confess our sins to a certain confessor we may seek another in whom we have confidence.

V. ON SATISFACTION AFTER CONFESSION

Satisfaction is the diligent performance of all the works of penance imposed upon us by the confessor. With this, however, a true penitent will not be satisfied; for in our times, on account of the weakness and little zeal of Christians, a light penance is imposed that they may not be deterred from the reception of the holy Sacraments. To avoid relapsing into sin, one must do penance, and bring forth worthy fruits (Lk. 13:3), for God will only then give the grace to persevere. We satisfy God by fasting, prayer, almsdeeds, avoidance of the snares of the world, diffidence in ourselves, and especially by patient endurance of the afflictions and sufferings which He imposes upon us. Those who have committed sin must do penance in this life or submit to everlasting penance in the next.

Is the heretic right in asserting that man does not need to render satisfaction since Christ has rendered it complete on the cross?

He is entirely wrong. Christ on the cross did indeed render satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, and man is not capable to atone for one single sin but it does not follow from this that man is not required to do something. To render satisfaction means to perform a duty which has been neglected. Instead of obeying God, the sinner by his sins disobeys Him. Satisfaction for disobedience requires perfect obedience from the sinner: but this, because of his weakness and corruption, no man is able to render therefore Christ rendered it for us by His perfect obedience even unto the death of the cross. But because Christ has been thus obedient for us, must we not be somewhat obedient also? or which is the same, because Christ for love of us has atoned for our sins by perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father, are we to do no penance for ourselves? It is precisely by this atonement made by Christ that we receive the power of rendering satisfaction. But for this we must, first of all, ask the grace, i.e., pray, to restrain our earthly desires, i.e., fast, and by means of active love (charity) make ourselves susceptible to this grace. St. Paul the Apostle, who calls himself the greatest of sinners, writes of himself: I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh for his body, which is the Church (Col. 1:24); and to the Corinthians he writes: But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps: when I have preached to others (meaning penance and conversion), I myself should become cast away (I Cor. 9:27). Christ Himself did not censure the Ninivites for their fasting and their penance in sackcloth and ashes, but gave them as an example (Mt. 12:41). In the Old Testament we find that even after remitting the sin, God imposed a punishment for it. Thus He let the child of king David die, as punishment for his adultery, even though He had forgiven the sin (II Kings 12:13, 14); thus Moses and Aaron, because they once distrusted God, were not permitted to enter the Promised Land (Num. 20:24; Deut. 34:4). According to this doctrine of the Bible, the Catholic Church teaches that there remains a temporal punishment which the sinner must expiate either in this world, or in the next, though on account of the infinite merits of Christ the guilt and eternal punishment of sin are taken away by absolution. In the earliest times of the Church certain works of penance were imposed, which were then very severe, and in the course of time, owing to the indolence of the faithful, were much moderated.

December 21, 2018   No Comments