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First Sunday in Lent: Daily Meditations

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TREASURE SEEKERS

“Seek first the kingdom of God.” Words of wisdom, indeed, from the lips of the Gentle Master, yet how few of earth’s eager treasure seekers heed them! The Kingdom of God, my eternal destiny, the term of the journey upon which God set me forth when He gave me being; the goal whose reaching means success, indescribably glorious, whose missing is failure disastrous beyond all words to tell.

The Kingdom of God, whose attaining is the only thing that really matters in all of life’s endeavors, and yet the last thought in the mind of the masses! How diligently men strive and toil that they may gain a petty pittance of earth’s toys and trinkets, and yet how utterly indifferent in their attitude toward the treasures of the Kingdom that shall know no ending! Strange, foolish world, is it not?

And what of myself in the matter? In theory, no doubt, I strongly defend the wisdom of the Master’s teaching. But in practice? If really keenly interested in God’s kingdom, then how explain the sluggishness too often manifested in my use of the necessary means to make secure its ultimate possession?

Oh, no, indeed, if my interest in God’s kingdom were of the healthy, hearty kind the Gentle Master would have it be, there would be more of the saint about me and less of the worldling. There would be more of prayer in my life, there would be a greater love of solitude and less of vain indulgence in earth’s silly amusements that dull all taste for godly things and wed man’s heart to dangerous earthly vanities.

Yes, if I were truly “seeking first the kingdom of God” my life would be far more pleasing to God and far more worth while to myself.

Jesus, Gentle Master, have mercy on us.

TODAY’S EPISTLE AND GOSPEL: Taken from the Angelus Press 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

EPISTLE: II Cor. 6:1-10

Lent, with its fastdays and prayers, is the acceptable time, the time of salvation. St. Paul exhorts us that we receive not the grace of God in vain.

Brethren: We exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For He saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.
Giving no offense to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God: by the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left: by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers and yet true, as unknown and yet known: as dying, and behold we live: as chastised and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing and possessing all things.

GOSPEL: Mt. 4:1-11

It was in the desert that Satan, wishing to know if the Son of Mary was really the Son of God, tempted our Lord. The devil seeks to tempt us by the lustful desire of the flesh, by the pride of life, and by the lustful desire of the eyes, or avarice.

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down. For it is written: That He hath given His Angels charge over Thee, and in their hands shall they bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said to him: It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said to Him: All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me.
Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan! for it is written: The Lord Thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left Him. And behold Angels came, and ministered to Him.

February 20, 2021   No Comments

QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY & INSTRUCTION ON LENT

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year, (This book is available from Angelus Press).

The Introit of this day’s Mass is the sigh of an afflicted soul confiding in God:

INTROIT Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a place of refuge, to save me: for thou art my strength and my refuge: and for thy name’s sake thou wilt be my leader, and wilt nourish me. (Fs. XXX. 3. 4.) In thee , O Lord, I have hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice, and set me free. (Ps. XXX. 2.)

COLLECT O Lord, we beseech Thee, graciously hear our prayers, and unloosing the bonds of our sins, guard us from all adversity. Through our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE (I. Cor. XIII. 1-13.) Brethren, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not; dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; is not ambitious; seeketh not her own; is not provoked to anger; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part: but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

EXPLANATION In this epistle St. Paul speaks of the necessity, the excellence and the nature of true charity. He says that all natural and supernatural gifts, all good works, even martyrdom, cannot save us if we have not charity; because love alone can render our works pleasing to God. Without charity, therefore, though ever so many prayers be recited, fasts observed , and good deeds performed, nothing will be acceptable to God, or merit eternal life. Strive then, O Christian soul, to lead a pious life in love, and to remain always in the state of grace.

Can faith alone, as the so-called Reformers assert, render man just and save him?

Faith alone, however strong, though it could move mountains, without love, that is, without good works performed for love of God and our neighbor, can never justify or save us. For, when St. Paul says, that man is justified by faith without works, (Rom. III. 28.; XI: 6.; Eph. II. 8. 9.) he means to refer to those works which were performed by command of the law of Moses, and which, as they were external and without true charity, were of no avail; he did not refer to those works which are performed in a state of grace with a lively, love-inspired faith. Therefore the same Apostle writes to the Galatians: (Gal. V. 6.) Faith only availeth which worketh by charity; to Titus: (Tit. III. 8.) It is a faithful saying: and these things I will have thee affirm constantly: that they who believe in God, may be careful to excel in good works. These things are good and profitable unto men; and he exhorts the Colossians (Colos. I. 10.) to be fruitful in every good work. St. James confirms the same by saying: (James II. 17-24.) So faith if it have not works, is dead in itself; by works man is justified and not by faith only. That this is the true doctrine of Christ is evident from His own words, when He says: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire.” (Matt. VII. 19.) At the day of judgment Christ will demand good works from all men, (Matt. XXV. 35.) and will not judge them only according to their faith, but by their good works, which true faith must always produce. (Apoc. XX. 12.) Would Christ and His apostles demand good works, if faith alone be sufficient? “The devil’s also believe and tremble,” (James II. 19.) they believe, but they are not saved, and their faith but increases their torments. Therefore, the assertion that faith without good works is sufficient for justification and salvation, is plainly against the doctrine of Christ and His Church, and must of necessity lead man to vice and misery, as shown by the history of the unhappy separation of the sixteenth century

Are good works available which are performed in the state of mortal sin ?

Good works performed while in a state of mortal sin avail nothing in regard to eternal life, writes St. Lawrence Justinian, but aid in moderating the punishment imposed for disobedience and the transgression of God’s commandments. They bring temporal goods, such as honor, long life, health, earthly happiness, etc.; they prevent us from falling deeper into sin, and prepare the heart for the reception of grace; so the pious Person writes: “Do as much good as you can, even though in the state of mortal sin, that God may give light to your heart.”

ASPIRATION O God of love, pour the spirit of true charity into my heart that, according to the spirit of St. Paul, I may endeavor to be always in a state of grace; that all my works may be pleasing to Thee, and meritorious for me.

GOSPEL (Luke XVIII. 31-43.) At that time, Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said to them Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon; and after they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them, and they understood not the things that were said. Now it came to pass, when he drew nigh to Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the way-side, begging. And when he heard the multitude passing by, he asked what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But he cried out much more: Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus standing, commanded him to be brought unto him. And when he was come near, he asked him, saying: What wilt thou that I do to thee? But he said: Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him: Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he saw, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Why did Christ so often foretell His passion to His disciples?

Because He wanted to show how great was His desire to suffer for us, for we speak often of that which we crave; and because He wished His disciples when they should see Him treated as a criminal and martyred, not to think evil of Him, or imagine themselves deceived, but remember that He had foretold all minutely that all happened of His own will.

Did not the disciples understand anything of what He predicted in regard to His future sufferings?

They may, certainly, have well understood He was to suffer, for which reason Peter tried to dissuade Him from it; (Matt. XVI. 22.) but they did not comprehend why or for what He would suffer, or how He would rise again. All this the Holy Ghost gave them to understand, after it had come to pass. (John XIV. 26.) The light of the Holy Ghost is of so much value, that without it even the clearest doctrines of faith are not understood.

Why does Christ so often call Himself the Son of Man?

He wished to show, in the Jewish way of speaking, He was also man, a descendant of Adam, and that we should be humble, and not seek or desire high titles.

Why did the blind man call Christ the Son of David?

Because, like all the Jews, he believed that the Messiah, according to humanity, would be of the house of David, as was promised. (Ps. CXXXI. 11.)

Why did Christ ask the blind man: What wilt thou that I do to thee?

This He asked, not because He was unaware of the blind man’s wish, but to enable him the better to prove his faith and hope that through Christ he would receive his sight; and to teach us how willing He is to help us, and how it pleases Him if we confidingly place our wants before Him. We should learn from this blind man, who would not be restrained by the passing crowd in his ardent and reiterated request, not to pay attention, in the work we have commenced, to human respect, or human judgment, but to persevere, and not allow ourselves to be led astray by the world’s mockery or contempt. We should also learn to be grateful to God, and faithfully cling to Him, if He has once opened the eyes of our mind, and healed our spiritual blindness, which is far more deplorable than physical blindness, for nothing can be more miserable than not to see and understand God, not to know what is necessary for our salvation, and what is pernicious.

Why is this gospel read on this Sunday?

The Church wishes to remind us of the painful passion and death of Jesus, and to move us by the contemplation of those mysteries to avoid and despise the wicked, heathenish amusements of carnival, sinful pleasures which she has always condemned, because they come from dark paganism, and, to avert the people from them, commands that during the three days of carnival the Blessed Sacrament shall be exposed for public adoration, sermons given, and the faithful exhorted to have recourse at this time to the Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, with the reception of which Pope Clement XIII. (Breve, 23. June 1765) connected a plenary indulgence. A true Catholic will conform to the desire of his holy Church, considering the words which St. Augustine spoke, at this time, to the faithful, “The heathens (as also the wordly people of our days) shout songs of love and merriment, but you should delight in the preaching of the word of God; they rush to the dramatic plays, but you should hasten to Church; they are intoxicated, but you should fast and be sober.”

PRAYER O most benign Jesus! who didst so desire to suffer for us, grant, that we may willingly suffer for love of Thee; that we may hate and flee from the detestable pleasures of the world and the flesh, and practice penance and mortification, that by so doing we may merit to be released from our spiritual blindness to love Thee more and more ardently, and finally possess Thee forever.

INSTRUCTION ON LENT

Who instituted Lent?

According to the fathers of the Church, Justin and Irenaeus, the fast before Easter was instituted and sanctified by Christ Himself; according to the saints Leo and Jerome, the holy apostles ordained it given by Jesus.

Why has the Church instituted this fast forty days before Easter?

To imitate Christ who fasted forty days; to participate in His merits and sufferings; to subject our flesh by voluntary mortification to the spirit, and to mortify our evil desires as did St. Paul; (Col. I. 24.) to enable us to lead a pure life, and thus prepare for the holy festival of Easter, and the reception of the divine Lamb, Jesus: and, finally, to render God satisfaction for our sins, and do penance, as Pope Gregory says, for the sins of one whole year by one short fast, lasting only the tenth part of a year.

Was the fast of Lent observed in early times as in the present?

Yes, but more strictly; for the people of the early ages not only abstained from meat, but also from all that which is connected with it, such as eggs, butter, cheese, etc., even from wine and fish, although this was not the general command of the Church; they fasted all day, and only ate in the evening after vespers, in remembrance of which, vespers are now said before dinner-time, because the Church, as a kind mother, now permits the supper to be changed into a dinner, and also allows something to be taken in the evening, that the body may not be too much weakened, and become unfit for labor.

How much does this ancient custom put to shame the Christians of to-day who think the fast in our times too severe! “But,” asks St. Ambrose, “what sort of Christians are they? Christ, who never sinned fasted for our sins, and we will not fast for our own great and numerous offences?”

How should the holy season of Lent be spent?

As according to the teaching of St. Leo, the main thing in fasting is not that the body be deprived of food, but that the mind at the same time be withdrawn from wickedness, we should endeavor during Lent, not only to be temperate in eating and drinking, but especially to lead a modest life, sanctifying the days by persevering prayer and devoutly attending church.

PRAYER AT THE BEGINNING OF LENT

Almighty God! I unite myself at the beginning of this holy season of penance with the Church militant, endeavoring to make these days of real sorrow for my sins and crucifixion of the sensual man. O Lord Jesus! in union with Thy fasting and passion, I offer Thee my fasting in obedience to the Church, for Thy honor, and in thanksgiving for the many favors I have received, in satisfaction for my sins and the sins of others, and that I may receive the grace to avoid such and such a sin, N. N. and to practice such and such a virtue, N. N.

February 10, 2021   No Comments

SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year (This book is available from Angelus Press).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of whom does St. Paul relate such marvels?

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

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

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

Why is the Word of God compared to a seed?

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

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

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

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

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

ON THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD

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

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

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

What should be done before the sermon?

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

How should we comfort ourselves during the sermon?

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

What should be done after the sermon?

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

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

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

February 5, 2021   No Comments

Septuagesima Sunday

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

SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY

Why is this Sunday called “Septuagesima”?

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLANATION Having exhorted us to penance in the Introit of the Mass, the Church desires to indicate to us, by reading this epistle, the effort we should make to reach the kingdom of heaven by the narrow path (Matt. VII. 13.) of penance and mortification. This St. Paul illustrates by three different examples. By the example of those who in a race run to one point, or in a prize-fight practice and prepare themselves for the victor’s reward by the strongest exercise, and by the strictest abstinence from everything that might weaken the physical powers. If to win a laurel-crown that passes away, these will subject themselves to the severest trials and deprivations, how much more should we, for the sake of the heavenly crown of eternal happiness, abstain from those improper desires, by which the soul is weakened, and practice those holy virtues, such as prayer, love of God and our neighbor, patience, to which the crown is promised! Next, by his own example, bringing himself before them as one running a race, and fighting for an eternal crown, but not as one running blindly not knowing whither, or fighting as one who strikes not his antagonist, but the air; on the contrary, with his eyes firmly fixed on the eternal crown, certain to be his who lives by the precepts of the gospel, who chastises his spirit and his body as a valiant champion, with a strong hand, that is, by severest mortification, by fasting and prayer. If St. Paul, notwithstanding the extraordinary graces which he received, thought it necessary to chastise his body that he might not be cast away, how does the sinner expect to be saved, living an effeminate and luxurious life without penance and mortification? St. Paul’s third example is that of the Jews who all perished on their journey to the Promised Land, even though God had granted them so many graces; He shielded them from their enemies by a cloud which served as a light to them at night, and a cooling shade by day; He divided the waters of the sea, thus preparing for them a dry passage; He caused manna to fall from heaven to be their food, and water to gush from the rock for their drink. These temporal benefits which God bestowed upon the Jews in the wilderness had a spiritual meaning; the cloud and the sea was a figure of baptism which enlightens the soul, tames the concupiscence of the flesh, and purifies from sin; the manna was a type of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, the soul’s true bread from heaven; the water from the rock, the blood flowing from Christ’s wound in the side; and yet with all these temporal benefits which God bestowed upon them, and with all the spiritual graces they were to receive by faith from the coming Redeemer, of the six hundred thousand men who left Egypt only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land. Why? Because they were fickle, murmured so, often against God, and desired the pleasures of the flesh. How much, then, have we need to fear lest we be excluded from the true, happy land, Heaven, if we do not continuously struggle for it, by penance and mortification!

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

G0SPEL (Matt. XX. 1-6.) At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing; and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny, But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more; and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it, they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour and thou hart made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way; I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.

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

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

How and when does God call people?

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

What is meant by working in the vineyard?

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

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

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

Who are standing idle in the market place?

In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle: doing nothing whatever; doing evil; doing other things than the duties of our position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God. This threefold idleness deprives us of our salvation, as the servant loses his wages if he works not at all, or not according to the will of his master. We are all servants of God, and none of us can say with the laborers in the Vineyard that no man has employed us; for God, when He created us, hired us at great wages, and we must serve Him always as He cares for us at all times; and if, in the gospel, the householder reproaches the workmen, whom no man had hired, for their idleness, what will God one day say to those Christians whom He has placed to work in His Vineyard, the Church, if they have remained idle?

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

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

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

As the Jews were the first who were called by God, Christ intended to show that the Gentiles, who were called last, should one day receive the heavenly reward, and that the Jews have no reason to murmur because God acted not unjustly in fulfilling His promises “to them, and at the same time calling others to the eternal reward. In heaven envy, malevolence and murmuring will find no place. On the contrary, the saints who have long served God wonder at His goodness in converting sinners and those who have served Him but a short time, for these also there will be the same penny, that is, the vision, the enjoyment, and possession of God and His kingdom. Only in the heavenly glory there will be a difference because the divine lips have assured us that each one shall be rewarded according to his works. The murmurs of the workmen and the answer of the householder serve to teach us, that we should not murmur against the merciful proceedings of God towards our neighbor, nor envy him; for envy and jealousy are abominable, devilish vices, hated by God. By the envy of the devil, death came into the world. (Wisd. II. 24.) The envious therefore, imitate Lucifer, but they hurt only themselves, because they are consumed by their envy. “Envy,” says St. Basil “is an institution of the serpent, an invention of the devils, an obstacle to piety, a road to hell, the depriver of the heavenly kingdom.”

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

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

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

 

January 27, 2021   No Comments

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Image result for traditional latin mass

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year, available through www.angeluspress.org.

INTROIT Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through our protection. Through our etc.

EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shaft heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

When are we overcome by evil?

When we wish to take revenge. “Revenge is no sign of courage,” says St. Ambrose, “but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word.” “Are you impatient,” says the same saint, “you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome.”

What should we do if our reputation is injured?

We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. “But as a good name,” says St. Francis de Sales, “is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it.” We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility’ and lay our honor and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle.

How do we “heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?”

When we return him good for evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: “By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love.” Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecute you.

ASPIRATION Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine on the just and the unjust!

GOSPEL (Matt. VIII. 1-13.) At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieith at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I sad to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee; and the servant was healed at the same hour.

Why did the leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”?

He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition.

Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?

To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick!

Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man?

To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.

Why did Christ send the healed leper to the Priest?

That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean: that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.

What is taught by the centurion’s solicitude for his servant?

That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care.
Why did Christ say: I wild come and heal him?

Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ’s humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the wants of a poor servant.

Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof?

Because he recognised Christ’s divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house.

From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion’s words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.

Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?

By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ’s divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word.

If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence in God?

What is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness?

This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God’s chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God’s grace, be eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.

ASPIRATION O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper’s faith and confidence, that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion’s humility, that for Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.

ON RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD

Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. VIII. 2.)

Those who in adversity as well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them, be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens as they wish, because they know no will but God’s, they desire nothing but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that fear Him. (Ps. CXLIV. 10.) In the lives of the ancient Fathers we find the following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors’. They asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it, because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered more than ever: How could that be? “I never desire other weather,” he replied, “than God wills; and because my desires are conformable to His, He gives me the fruits I wish.” This submission to the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimmed joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions. Who would not aspire to so happy a state? We will attain it if we believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for God can never be the cause of them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God, (Eccles. XI. 14.) that is, are permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark VII. 37.) Whoever keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.

INSTRUCTION FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS

The master of a house should be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of the pious Jacob, (Gen. XXX. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because of the just Joseph. (Gen. XXXIX. 5.) The master should look to the morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious subjects in his house, for he must, after this life, give an account before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin, keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives? Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters? The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith, will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the Apostle writes:

But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I. Tim. V. 8.)

Subjects should learn from the centurion’s servants who obeyed his only word, that they also should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Col. III. 22-24.)

January 23, 2021   No Comments

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

Image result for traditional latin mass

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

The Church’s Year, (Angelus Press)

In the Introit of this day’s Mass the Church calls upon all creatures to thank God for the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.

INTROIT Let all the earth adore Thee, O God and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy name (Ps. 65:4). Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise (Ps. 65:1-2). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Almighty and eternal God, Who disposest all things in heaven and on earth: mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and give Thy peace to our times. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Rom.12:6-16). Brethren: We have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality: bless them that persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind, one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.

EXPLANATION. St. Paul in this epistle exhorts every Christian to make good use of the gifts of God; if one receives an office, he must see well to it, so that he can give an account to God of the faithful performance of his duties. He exhorts especially to brotherly love which we should practice by charitable works; such as, receiving strangers hospitably, giving alms to those who are in need, and to those who by misfortune or injustice have lost their property; he commands us, at the same time, to rejoice in the welfare of our neighbor, as we rejoice at our own good fortune, and to grieve at his misfortunes as we would over those which befall us.

How is brotherly love best preserved?

By the virtue of humility which makes us esteem our neighbor above ourselves, consider his good qualities only, bear patiently his defects, and always meet him in a friendly, respectful, and indulgent manner. Humility causes us to live always in peace with our fellowmen, while among the proud, where each wishes to be the first, there is continual strife and dissatisfaction (Prov. 13:10).

INSTRUCTION FOR SUPERIORS

Those have to expect a severe sentence from God, who merely for temporal gain, seek profitable offices, and thrust themselves therein whether capable or not, and if capable care very little whether they fulfill the duties required, or perhaps make the fulfillment of them depend upon bribes. Of such God makes terrible complaint: Thy princes (judges) are faithless, companions of thieves: they all love bribes, they run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless; and the widow’s cause comes not into them (Is. 1:23). A most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule (Wisd. 6:6).

ASPIRATION Grant us, O Lord, Thy grace, that according to Thy will, we may follow the instructions of St. Paul in regard to humility and love, have compassion upon all suffering and needy, think little of ourselves, and descend to the lowest, that we may, one day, be elevated with them in heaven.

GOSPEL (Jn. 2:1-11). At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus with to her: Woman, what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine; and when men have well drank, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee: and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Why was Christ and His mother present at this marriage?

In order to honor this humble and God-fearing couple who, with faithful hearts, had invited Him and His mother to their wedding; to give us an example of humility; to assist them in their poverty, and save their good name by changing water into wine; to reveal His dignity as the Messiah to His disciples by this miracle; and to sanctify by His presence the marriages that are contracted in the spirit of the Church.

Alas! how few marriages of our time could Jesus honor with His presence, because He is invited neither by fervent prayer, nor by the chaste life of the couple: He is excluded rather, by the frequent immorality of the married couple and their guests.

Why was Mary interested in this married couple?

Because she is merciful, and the Mother of Mercy, and willingly assists all the poor and afflicted who fear God. From this incident, St. Bonaventure judges of the many graces which we can hope for through Mary, now that she reigns in heaven; “For,” says he, “if Mary while yet on earth was so compassionate, how much more so is she now, reigning in heaven!” He gives the reason by adding: “Mary now that she sees the face of God, knows our necessities far better than when she was on earth, and in proportion to the increase of her compassion, her power to aid us has been augmented.” Ah! why do we not take refuge in all our necessities to this merciful mother, who although unasked assists the needy?

Why did Christ say to Mary: Woman, what is it to me and to thee?

This seemingly harsh reply of Christ was no reproach, for Mary had made her request only through love and mercy, and Christ calls those blessed who are merciful, but he wished to show that in the performance of divine work, the will of His heavenly Father alone should be consulted. He meant to remind her that He had not received the gift of miracles from her as the son of woman, but from His eternal Father, in accordance with whose will He would do that which she asked when the hour designed by God would come. Though the hour had not come, yet He granted the wish of His mother, who knew that her divine Son refused none of her requests, and so she said to the servants: “Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.” Behold the great power of Mary’s intercession! Neglect not, therefore, to take refuge in this most powerful mother!

What are we taught by the words: My hour is not yet come?

These words teach us that we should in all things await God’s appointed time, and in things belonging to God and His honor, act only by divine direction, without any human motives.

What does the scarcity of wine signify?

In a spiritual sense the want of wine may be understood to signify the lack of love between married people, which is principally the case with those who enter this state through worldly motives, for the sake of riches, beauty of person, or who have before marriage kept up sinful intercourse. These should ask God for the forgiveness of their sins, bear the hardships of married life in the spirit of penance, and change the wrong motives they had before marriage; by doing so God will supply the scarcity of wine, that is the lack of true love, and change the waters of misery into the wine of patient affection.

Why did Christ command them to take the wine to the steward?

That the steward, whose office required him to be attentive to the conduct of the guests, and to know the quality of the wine, should give his judgment in regard to the excellence of this, and be able to testify to the miracle before all the guests.

ASPIRATION O my most merciful Jesus! I would rather drink in this world the sour wine of misery than the sweet wine of pleasure, that in heaven I may taste the perfect wine of eternal joy.

INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY

What is Matrimony?

Matrimony is the perfect, indissoluble union of two free persons of different sex, for the purpose of propagating the human race, mutually to bear the burdens of life and to prevent sin (I Cor. 7:2).

Who instituted Matrimony?

God Himself, the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:27-28). He brought to man the helpmate, whom He formed from one of the ribs of Adam, that she who came from his heart, might never depart therefrom, but cling to him in the indissoluble bond of love (Gen. 2:18, 24). To this original, divine institution Christ refers (Mt. 19:4-6), and the Church declares the bond of marriage perpetual and indissoluble.

Is Matrimony a Sacrament?

Yes; according to the testimony of the Fathers, the Church has held it such from the times of the apostles, which she could not do, had Christ not raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament. St. Paul even calls it a great Sacrament, because it is symbolical of the perpetual union of Christ with His Church; and the Council of Trent declares: “If any one says that Matrimony is not really and truly one of the seven Sacraments of the Church instituted by Christ, but an invention of men that imparts no grace, let him be anathema” (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1).

What graces does this Sacrament impart?

The grace of preserving matrimonial fidelity inviolate: the grace of educating children as Christians; of patiently enduring the unavoidable difficulties of married life, and of living peaceably with each other. Married people are indeed greatly in need of these graces, in order to fulfil their mutual obligations.

What is the external sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony?

The union of two single persons in Matrimony, which according to the regulations of the Council of Trent (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1), must be formed publicly in the presence of the pastor, or with his permission before another priest, and two witnesses.

What preparations are to be made to receive the grace of this Sacrament?

1. The first and best preparation is a pure and pious life. 2. The light of the Holy Ghost should be invoked to know whether one is called to this state of life. 3. The parents and the father-confessor should be asked for advice. 4. The choice should be made in regard to a Christian heart, and a gentle disposition rather than to beauty and wealth. 5. The immediate preparation is, to purify the conscience, if it has not already been done, by a good general confession, and by the reception of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Before their marriage the young couple should ask their parents’ blessing, should hear the nuptial Mass with devotion, with the intention of obtaining God’s grace to begin their new state of life well, and finally they should commend themselves with confidence to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her spouse St. Joseph.

Why are there so many unhappy marriages?

Because so many people prepare the way by sins and vices, and continue to sin without interruption, and without true amendment until marriage, therefore always make sacrilegious confessions, even perhaps immediately before marriage. Besides this many enter the married life on account of carnal intentions, or other earthly motives; in many cases they do not even ask God for His grace; without any proper preparation for such an important, sacred act, on their marriage day they go to church with levity and afterwards celebrate their wedding with but little modesty. Is it any wonder that such married people receive no blessing, no grace, when they render themselves so unworthy?

Why did God institute married life?

That children might be brought up honestly and as Christians, and that they should be instructed especially in matters of faith; that married people should sustain each other in the difficulties of life, and mutually exhort one another to a pious life; and lastly, that the sin of impurity might be avoided. For they who in such manner receive matrimony as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power (Too. 6:17).

‘With what intentions should the married state be entered?

With such intentions as the young Tobias and his bride had, who before the marriage ceremony, ardently prayed God for His grace, and took their wedding breakfast in the fear of the Lord (Too. 14:15). Hence God’s blessing was with them until death. If all young people would enter the married state thus, it would certainly be holy, God-pleasing and blessed, and the words of St. Paul, spoken to wives, would come true unto them: Yet she shall be saved by bearing children, if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification with sobriety (I Tim. 2:15).

Why are the bans of marriage published three times in Church?

That all impediments which would render the marriage unlawful may be made known. Such impediments are: consanguinity, clandestine marriages, etc. Therefore, any one who is aware of such impediments, is bound to make them known to the pastor.

Why is the marriage performed in the presence of the parish priest?

Because the Catholic Church expressly declares that those marriages which are not performed in presence of the pastor, or with his permission before another priest, and two witnesses, are null and void (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV can. 1)1; and because the blessing of the priest, which he imparts in the name of the Church, gives the couple, if they are in a state of grace, strength, fortitude and grace to be faithful to each other, to endure all trials patiently, and to be safe from all the influences of the evil enemy.”

Why do they join hands before the priest, and two witnesses?

By this they bind themselves before God and His Church to remain true to each other, and to be ready to assist each other in all adversities. The bridegroom puts a ring on the bride’s finger which should remind her of her duty of inviolable fidelity; to this end the priest signs and seals this holy union with the unbloody Sacrifice of the New Law.

Can the bond of marriage be dissolved in the Catholic Church?

A valid marriage, contracted with the free consent of each of the parties, can according to the plain doctrine of the Scriptures, the constant teaching and practice of the Church, be dissolved only by the death of one of the parties. If the pope or a bishop, for important reasons, gives a divorce, this is only partial, and neither can marry again while the other lives. Such a marriage would not be valid. How pure and holy are the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this the most important and sacred of all human relations, preserving its inviolability and sanctity; while, on the contrary, by means of the wanton doctrine of the heretics, which for trivial reasons entirely dissolves the marriage contract, this sacred union is made the deepest ignominy of mankind, and the play-ball of human passions and caprice!

What is thought of mixed marriages, or marriages between Catholics and Protestants?

The Catholic Church has always condemned such marriages, because of the great dangers to which the Catholic party is unavoidably exposed as well as the offspring. Such marriages promote indifference in matters of religion, by which the spiritual life of the soul is destroyed; they are a hindrance to domestic peace, cause mutual aversion, quarrels, and confusion; they give scandal to servants; they interfere with the Christian education of the children, even render it impossible, and they frequently lead to apostasy and despair. But the Catholic Church condemns especially those mixed marriages, in which either all or a number of the children are brought up in heresy, and she can never bless and look upon those as her children who do not fear to withdraw themselves and their own children from the only saving faith, and expose them to the danger of eternal ruin. Therefore, those Catholics who enter the matrimonial union with Protestants, although the marriage if lawfully contracted is valid, commit a mortal sin if they permit their children to be brought up in heresy, and should it not be their full intention to bring up their children in the Catholic faith at the time of their marriage, they would commit a sacrilege.

What should the newly married couple do immediately after the ceremony is performed?

They should kneel and thank God for the graces received in this holy Sacrament, in such or similar words: “Ratify, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that which by Thy grace Thou hast wrought in us, that we may keep that which in Thy presence we have promised unto the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That they may keep their promise made at the altar, they should always remember the duties laid down to them by the priest at the time of their marriage, and the exhortations which are taken from the epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:29, 31), wherein he instructs married people how they should comport themselves towards each other, and recalls to them as an example the union of Christ with His Church, and His love for her. To the husbands he says, they should love their wives as Christ loved His Church, for which He even gave Himself up to death; from this is seen, that men should assist their wives even unto death, in all need, and not treat them as servants. To the wives St. Paul says, that they as the weaker should be in all reasonable things obedient to their husbands, as the Church is obedient to Christ; for as Christ is the head of the Church, so is the husband the head of the wife. Experience proves there is no better way for women to win the hearts of their husbands than by amiable obedience and ready love, while, on the contrary, a querulous, imperative deportment robs them of their husbands’ affections, and even causes them to be regarded with aversion. St. Paul says further; that husbands should love their wives (and consequently wives their husbands) as their own bodies, because married people are, as it were, one. They shall be two in one flesh; no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church (Eph. 5:29, 31). How unjustly and barbarously do those act, who, instead of loving one another, rather hate and outrage each other, and cause the loss of their property, and by detraction steal their honor! These do not consider that he who hates and disgraces his partner in life, hates and disgraces himself; while according to the words of St. Paul he who loves her, loves himself. If married people would remain in constant love and unity, it is most necessary that they should patiently bear with each other’s infirmities, wrongs, and defects, exhort one another with mildness and affection, keep their adversities, trials, and sufferings as much as possible to themselves, and complain in prayer only to God, who alone can aid them. By impatience, quarrels, and complaints the cross becomes only heavier and the evil worse. Finally, not only on their wedding day, but often through life, they should earnestly consider that they have not entered the married state that they may inordinately serve the pleasures of the body, but to have children who will one day inhabit heaven according to the will of God; as the angel said to Tobias: “For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power” (Tob. 6:17).

PRAYER Most merciful Jesus! who didst work Thy first miracle at the wedding in Cana by changing water into wine, thereby revealing Thy divine power and majesty, and honoring matrimony: grant we beseech Thee, that Thy faithful may ever keep sacred and inviolate the holy sacrament of Matrimony, and that they may so live in it truthfully, in the fear of the Lord, that they may not put an obstacle in the way of obtaining heaven for themselves, and their children.

1. In all such dioceses of the United States, where the Council of Trent has not been published, civil marriages are considered valid. The Catholic, however, who becomes married by civil authority commits a mortal sin, except in case of extreme necessity. To be married by a sectarian preacher is looked upon as a denial of faith, and incurs excommunication.

January 16, 2021   No Comments

The Feast of the Holy Family

Christmas, Day, Holy, Family, Figure

Fr. Leonard Goffine’s The Church’s Year, (Angelus Press)

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 8, 2021   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 7, 2021   No Comments

FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS, JANUARY 3rd, 2021

Image result for photos for holy name of jesus

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year, (Angelus Press)

Who instituted this festival?

Pope Innocent XIII in the year 1721 commanded that the most Holy Name of Jesus should be solemnly honored throughout the Catholic world. St. Bernard, with the sanction of the Apostolic See, had established the solemn veneration of this most Holy Name in his order a few centuries before.

In the Introit of this day’s Mass, the Church proclaims the glory of this name:

INTROIT In the name of Jesus let every knee bend of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; and let every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in the whole earth! (Ps. 8:2). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT O God, Who didst ordain Thine only-begotten Son to be the Savior of mankind, and didst command that he should be called Jesus: mercifully grant that we may enjoy in heaven the blessed vision of him whose holy name we venerate upon earth. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Acts 4:8-12). In those days, Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said: Ye princes of the people and ancients, hear: If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders; which is become the head of the corner: neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.

EXPLANATION This Epistle speaks of the omnipotent power of the name of Jesus, through which miracles are not only performed, but also on which our salvation depends. Jesus alone can give us redemption and happiness; He alone under heaven has been given to man by God, that through Him happiness could be reached; He alone can break the fetters of error and sin in which all mankind lies captured. He alone is the truth, He alone, as the Son of God, has power to render perfect satisfaction for sin, and to make us truly good; and the good alone can be saved. Cling, therefore, ever faithfully and firmly to Jesus, and depart not from Him; without Him you can accomplish nothing; with Him, through Him, you can accomplish all things.

[For the GOSPEL of this day, see the gospel of New Year’s day.]

REMARKS OF ST. BERNARD ON THE SWEET NAME OF JESUS

The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the name Jesus: if you write books, let the name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish. Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this help-giving name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures. If we call to our minds the name of Jesus, it brings before us His most meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving and tender compassion. The name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (I Cor. 16:22).

January 2, 2021   No Comments

FIRST FRIDAY AND FRIST SATURDAY TLM’S FOR JANUARY 2021, et seq.

Dear Friends,

 
With our First Friday and First Saturday Traditional Latin Masses in December of 2020, our work of organizing these monthly masses has come to an end.  The Traditional Latin Mass will no longer be offered at the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Jenkintown.  This will be our last email to you.
 
Going forward, should you wish to attend the Traditional Latin Mass for 1st Friday or 1st Saturday, there are several options in the Philadelphia area, including Mater Ecclesiae, 261 Cross Keys Rd., Berlin, NJ, (http://MaterEcclesiae.org), St. Mary’s in Conshohocken  (https://www.stmarylatinmass.com) and the Carmel of Jesus, ,Mary, Joseph & Anne at 1400 66th Avenue in Philadelphia (https://philadelphiacarmelites.org).  Please see the individual websites for their schedules.  A comprehensive listing of Traditional Latin Masses in the area can be found at Latin Mass Philadelphia (https://sites.google.com/site/latinmassphila/regional-mass-schedule).
 
We gratefully thank all of the priests who have said Masses for us throughout the years, and most particularly Fr. Harold B. McKale who has been our faithful patron, as well as those who have given of their time to serve.  We also thank the parishes who have hosted this apostolate, thanks to the LLA, Philadelphia Chapter, for always posting our Masses.
 
We wish you a Blessed a Blessed and Happy New Year.
Pax tecum,
Mark, Chuck and Pamela

January 1, 2021   No Comments