Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Uncategorized

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

SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass: Report: Cardinal Burke Pontifical Mass in  Steubenville, OH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is Christ set for the fall of many?

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

For whom is Christ the resurrection?

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

Why is Christ a sign that shall be contradicted?

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

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

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

What else do we learn from this gospel?

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON BLESSING

And Simeon blessed them “(Lk. 2: 34).

What is meant by a blessing?

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

Have we examples of blessing in the Bible?

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

Is it well for parents to bless their children?

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

What power has the priest’s blessing?

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

What is the effect of God’s blessing?

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

December 26, 2020   No Comments

Masses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Image result for traditional latin mass

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s

The Church’s Year, 

CHRISTMAS EVE

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

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

 

CHRISTMAS DAY

What is Christmas Day?

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

Why is this festival called “the Holy Night”?

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

Why do priests say three Masses on this day?

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

Why is the first Mass said at midnight?

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

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

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

When does this spiritual birth take place?

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE FIRST MASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we live soberly, justly, and godly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why was Christ born in such poverty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND MASS

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

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

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

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

To whom do we owe our salvation?

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD MASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does St. John mean by the Word?

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

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

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

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

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

What is meant by: In Him was the life?

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

Why is this life the light of men?

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

How did the light shine in darkness?

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

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

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

Who receive Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2020   No Comments

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Image result for traditional latin mass

By Fr. Leonard Goffine

The Church’s Year, (Available from Angelus Press)

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

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

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

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

Why is this epistle read on this day?

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

How should the faithful regard the priests and spiritual superiors?

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

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

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

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

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

Why does not St. Paul wish to judge himself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

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

What is penance, and how many kinds are there?

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

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

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

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

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

Is this penance performed at once?

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

Why do so many die impenitent?

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

Can all sinners do penance?

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

Do all who go to confession perform true penance?

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

I. ON THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

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

Why should we examine our conscience?

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

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

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

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

II. ON CONTRITION

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

What is contrition, and how many kinds are there?

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

Is natural sorrow sufficient for a good confession?

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

What other qualities are necessary for a true contrition?

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

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

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

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

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

How can the sinner attain true sorrow?

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

Should we make an act of contrition before confession only?

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

III. ON THE PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT

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

What is necessary for a firm purpose?

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

Who, then, have no true purpose of amendment?

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

IV. ON CONFESSION

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

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

Is confession a human law, or a human invention?

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

What will aid us to make confession easy?

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

What should be done to participate in these benefits?

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

How should the false shame which prevents confession be overcome?

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

V. ON SATISFACTION AFTER CONFESSION

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

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

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

December 20, 2020   No Comments