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Quadragesima Sunday: “INVOCABIT,” First Sunday in Lent

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

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

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

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

EPISTLE (II. Cor. VI. 1-10) Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now, is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God; in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the armor of justice on the right hand, and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report, and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

EXPLANATION The Church very appropriately reads on this day this epistle of St. Paul, in which he exhorts the Christians to make use of the time of grace. A special time of grace is Lent, in which everything invites to conversion and penance, a time, therefore, in which God is ready to make rich bestowal of His graces. St. Anselm says, those do not use the grace who do not cooperate. Let us, therefore, follow St. Paul’s exhortation, and earnestly practise those virtues he places before us, and especially those of temperance, patience, chastity, liberality, love of God and of our neighbor. Let us arm ourselves with the arms of justice at the right and the left, that is, let us strive to be humble in prosperity and in adversity, confident of God’s help. Let us never be led from the path of virtue, by mockery, contempt, nor by persecution, torments, or death.

ASPIRATION Grant, O Jesus, that we may always faithfully cooperate with Thy graces, and employ well the time Thou hast again given for our salvation.

GOSPEL (Matt. IV. 1-11.) At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written: He hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shaft not tempt the Lord thy ‘God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said to him: All these will I give thee, if, falling down, thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan, for it is written, The Lord thy God shaft thou adore, and him only shaft thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came, and ministered to him.

INSTRUCTION

I. Christ went into the desert by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to prepare by fasting and prayer, for His mission, and to endure the temptations of Satan, that, as St. Paul says, He might be one tempted in all things such as we are, without sin, and so become for us a High-priest who knew how to have compassion on our infirmities, (Heb. IV. 15.) and to show us by His own example, how we should, armed with the word of God, as with a sword, overcome the tempter. (Eph. VI. 17.) – Let us, therefore, courageously follow Christ to the combat against all temptations, with His assistance it will not be hard to conquer them. He has certainly taught us to overcome the hardest ones: the lust of the eyes, of the flesh, and the pride of life, and if we overcome these, it will be easy to conquer the rest.

II. If Christ, the only Son of God, permitted Himself to be tempted by Satan, even to be taken up on a high mountain, and to the pinnacle of the temple, it should not appear strange to us, that we are assailed by many temptations, or that we should find in the lives of so many saints that the evil spirit tormented them by various images of terror and vexation. This we find in the history of the pious Job, where we also find at the same time, that the evil spirit cannot harm a hair of our head without God’s permission.

III. From the coming of the angels to minister to Christ, after He had conquered Satan, we see that all who bravely resist temptations, will enjoy the assistance and consolations of the heavenly spirits.

INSTRUCTION ON TEMPTATION

To be tempted by the devil. , (Matt. IV. I.)

What is a temptation?

A temptation is either a trial for instruction and exercise in virtue, or a deception and incitement to sin. In the first sense, God tempts man; in the second, he is tempted by the devil, the world or bad people, and the flesh, by evil thoughts, feelings, words, or work.

By what are we principally tempted?

By our own evil concupiscence and inclination to sin which adhere to us through original sin, (Fam. I. 14.) on account of which it is said, that the flesh lusteth against the spirit. (Gal. V. 17.)

Does the devil also tempt us?

He does, and is therefore called, in this day’s gospel, the tempter. St. Peter teaches us this, having himself experienced it: Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring-lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter V. 8.) Not all temptations are to be ascribed to the devil, however, they often come from our own corrupt nature, our own incautiousness, or looseness of our senses, by which we expose ourselves to the danger of falling into sin.

How does the devil tempt us to sin?

In a twofold manner: He incites the concupiscence of man to those sins to which he sees him inclined, and then seeks to blind and confuse his imagination, so that he neither reflects, nor properly sees the temporal injury, disgrace, and derision, nor the shamefulness of sin and its eternal punishment. Thus the devil seduced Eve, our first mother, and thus he tempted Christ, with whom he could not, of course, succeed, for He was incapable of sin. He tempts bad people to persecute us, or to try us by their wicked vanities, as he did by the friends of Job.

Can the devil force us to evil?

He cannot; “for as a chained dog,” says St. Augustine, “can bite none but those who go near him, so the devil cannot harm with his temptations those who do not consent to them. Like the dog he can bark at you, but cannot bite you against your will.” Not by force but by persuasion Satan strives to injure, he does not force our consent, but entreats it. Seek, therefore, to subdue your passions and your senses, especially your eyes, and you will either remain free from all temptations, or easily overcome them.

Does God also tempt us?

God does indeed tempt us, but not to sin, as St. James expressly teaches. (Fam. I. 13.) God either Himself proves us by sufferings and adversities, or He permits the temptations of the devil or evil-minded people to give us opportunity to practise the virtues of love, patience, obedience, etc. Thus He said to the Jews through Moses: The Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or no. (Deut. XIII. 3.)

Does God permit us to be tempted by man also?

He does, and for the same reasons. Thus He permitted the chaste Joseph to be tempted by Putiphar’s wife; (Gen.XXXIX. 7.) Job by his wife and his friends. (Job II. 9.) But He never permits us to be tempted beyond our strength, but gives us always sufficient grace to overcome and even to derive benefit from the temptation. (I Cor. X. 13.)

Are temptations pernicious and bad?

No; they are useful and necessary, rather. “Hard is the fight,” St. Bernard writes, “but meritorious, for although it is accompanied by suffering, it is followed by the crown;”

(Apoc. III. 12.) and Origen says. (Libr. Num.) “As meat becomes corrupt without salt, so does the soul without temptations.” Temptations, then, are only injurious when consent is given, and we suffer ourselves to be overcome by them.

When do we consent to temptations?

When we knowingly and willingly decide to do the evil to which we are tempted; as long as we resist we commit no sin.

What are the best means of overcoming temptations?

Humility; for thus answered St. Anthony, when he saw the whole earth covered with snares, and was asked “Who will escape?” “The humble;” he who knows his own frailty, distrusts himself, and relies only on God who resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble; (Dam. IV. 6.) the fervent invocation of the Mother of God, of our holy guardian angels and patron saints; the pronouncing of the holy name of Jesus, making the sign of the cross, sprinkling holy water; the remembrance of the presence of God who knows our most secret thoughts, and before whom we are indeed ashamed to think or do that which would cause us shame in the presence of an honorable person; frequent meditation on death, hell, and eternal joys; fleeing from all those persons by whom, and places in which we are generally tempted; fervent prayers, especially ejaculations, as:

“Lord, save me, lest I perish! Lord, hasten to help me!” finally, the sincere acknowledgment of our temptations at the tribunal of penance, which is a remedy especially recommended by pious spiritual teachers.

PRAYER O Lord Jesus! who spent forty days in the desert without food or drink, and didst permit Thy self to be tempted by the evil spirit, give me, I beseech Thee by that holy fast, the grace to combat, during this holy season of Lent, under Thy protection, against intemperance, and to resist the suggestions of Satan that I may win the crown of eternal life. Amen.

March 5, 2022   No Comments

QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY & INSTRUCTION ON LENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this gospel read on this Sunday?

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON LENT

Who instituted Lent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How should the holy season of Lent be spent?

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

PRAYER AT THE BEGINNING OF LENT

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

February 21, 2022   No Comments

SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT

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Father Leonard Goffine’s,

The Church’s Year, Available through Angelus Press

INTROIT People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard in the joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His advent we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds; who livest and reignest with God the Father, in union with the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

EPISTLE (Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and magnify him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

What does St. Paul teach in this epistle?

The Jews and Gentiles who had been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among themselves at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain kinds of food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted that the Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation, thus claiming Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached the Jews for their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore harmony St. Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles alike, to praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all; that each had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for salvation; and he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope by contentions. By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too, have great reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us, whose forefathers were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to guard against losing our salvation by pride, envy, impurity, etc.

Why should we read the Scriptures?

That we may know what we are to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our sufferings, and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To derive this benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them by the light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into existence, who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is, the light of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may be

read according to the sense of the Church and not be explained according to the reader’s judgment. For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his own private judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity diverge from the right path, become entangled in manifold doubts, and at last, lose the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic Church has very properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as has been falsely asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she allows the reading of those editions only, which are accompanied by notes and explanations that the unity of faith may not be disturbed, and that among Catholics there may not be the terrible bewilderment of the human intellect which has taken place among the different heretical sects who have even declared murder, bigamy and impurity to be permissible on the authority of the Bible. We are to consider also, that Christ never commanded the Bible to be written or read, and that not the readers but the hearers and the followers of the word of God by which is meant those who hear the word of God in sermons, and keep it, will be saved!

Further instruction in regard to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the “Instruction for Easter Tuesday.”

Why is God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of hope?

He is called a God of patience because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because He gives us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so consoles us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope, because He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be Himself the reward we are to expect after this life.

ASPIRATION O God of patience, of consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts with peace and joy, and grant that we may become perfect in all good, and by faith, hope and charity, attain the promised salvation.

GOSPEL (Mt. 11:2‑10). At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

Why was John in prison?

He was in prison, and lost his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous marriage with his brother’s wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb says, is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a very ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the truth very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let us learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it, even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with St. John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become martyrs for truth.

Why did St. John send his disciples to Christ?

That they should learn from Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles, that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, whom they should follow.

Why did Christ say to the disciples of St. John: “Go and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk, etc.”?

That they should, by His miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had predicted that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). “Christ,” says St. Cyril, “proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur as well as by the number of His miracles.”

Why does Christ add: “And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in me”?

Christ used these words in reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though “man,” as St. Gregory says, “owes all the more love to the Lord, his God, the more humiliations He has borne for him.”

What was our Lord’s object in the questions He asked concerning St. John?

His object was to remove from St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise the perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened with death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus constituting him an example to all preachers, confessors and superiors, that they may never be deterred by human respect, or fear of man, or other temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling their duties. Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited by St. John’s coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn, from his example, penance and mortification.

Why does Christ say that John was “more than a prophet”?

Because St. John was foretold by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all the prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ and could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.

How did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?

By his sermons on penance, and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts of the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true repentance.

ASPIRATION O Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy forerunner St. John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our hearts with love to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that we may never do anything to please man which may be displeasing to Thee; grant us also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may have those who are confided to our care, instructed in the Christian doctrine.

CONSOLATION IN SUFFERING

“The God of patience and of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:5,13).

What gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?

The strong and fervent belief that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the will or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received good things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in his affliction, “why should we not receive evil?”

We should be fully convinced that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to us by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence that if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings, if it be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands (Is. 49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the future life, which we will merit by patience in our sufferings, for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17); we should remember that all complaints and murmurs against the dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm and shame; Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4) we should have a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have long since deserved the eternal punishments of hell – hence the well-known saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn, but spare me in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven than the way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother, and all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21). And we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs of God’s love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).

PRAYER IN SORROW O almighty, kind and merciful God! who hast said: “Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 49:15), behold relying upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give honor to Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to Thee and beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only help. Amen.

December 4, 2021   No Comments

Advent; The First Sunday of Advent

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

INSTRUCTIONS ON ADVENT

What is the meaning of Advent, and what do we understand by the term?

The word Advent signifies coming, and by it is understood the visible coming of the Son of God into this world, at two different times.

It was when the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the immaculate Virgin Mary, was born, according to the flesh, in the fullness of time, and sanctified the world by His coming, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed (Gen. 49:10; Is. G4:1; Lk. 10:24).

Since Christ had not yet come, how could the Just of the Old Law be saved?

Immediately after their sin, God revealed to our first parents that His only-begotten Son would become man and redeem the world (Gen. 3:15). In the hope of this Redeemer and through His merits, all in the old covenant who participated in His merits by innocence or by penance, and who died in the grace of God, were saved, although they were excluded from heaven until the Ascension of Christ.

When will the second coming of Christ take place?

At the end of the world when Christ will come, with great power and majesty, to judge both the living and the dead.

What is Advent, and why has the Church instituted it?

Advent is that solemn time, immediately preceding Christmas, instituted by the Church in order that we should, in the first place, meditate on the Incarnation of Christ, the love, patience and humility which He has shown us, and prove our gratitude to Him, because He came from the bosom of His heavenly Father into this valley of tears, to redeem us; secondly, that we may prepare ourselves by sincere repentance, fasting, prayer, alms-deeds, and other works pleasing to God, for the coming of Christ and His birth in our hearts, and thus participate in the graces which He has obtained for us; finally, that He may be merciful to us, when He shall come again as judge of the world. “Watch ye, for ye know not at what hour your Lord will come” (Mt. 5:42). “Wherefore be you also ready; because at what hour you know not, the Son of man will come” (Mt. 24:44).

How was Advent formerly observed?

Very differently from now. It then commenced with the Feast of St. Martin, and was observed by the faithful like the Forty Days’ Fast, with strict penance and devotional exercises, as even now most of the religious communities do to the present day. The Church has forbidden all turbulent amusements, weddings, dancing and concerts, during Advent. Pope Sylverius ordered that those who seldom receive Holy Communion should, at least, do so on every Sunday in Advent.

How should this solemn time be spent by Christians?

They should recall, during these four weeks, the four thousand years in which the just under the Old Law expected and desired the promised Redeemer, think of those days of darkness in which nearly all nations were blinded by saran and drawn into the most horrible crimes, then consider their own sins and evil deeds and purify their souls from them by a worthy reception of the Sacraments, so that our Lord may come with His grace to dwell in their hearts and be merciful to them in life and in death. Further, to awaken in the faithful the feelings of repentance so necessary for the reception of the Savior in their hearts, the Church orders that besides the observance of certain fast days, the altar shall be draped in violet, that Mass shall be celebrated in violet vestments, that the organ shall be silent and no Gloria sung. Unjust to themselves, disobedient to the Church and ungrateful, indeed, to God are those Christians who spend this solemn time of grace in sinful amusements without performing any good works, with no longing for Christ’s Advent into their hearts.

What are Rorate High Masses, and why are they celebrated?

They are the solemn high Masses celebrated in some countries in commemoration of the tidings brought to the Blessed Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel, announcing to her that she was to become the Mother of God; they derive their name from the words of the Introit in the Votive Mass, Rorate coeli desuper. They are celebrated very early in the morning because the Blessed Virgin preceded our Lord, as the aurora precedes the rising sun.
PRAYER IN ADVENT O God, who by Thy gracious Advent hast brought joy into this world, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace to prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.

FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT

The first Sunday in Advent is the first day of the Church Year, and the beginning of the holy season of Advent. The Church commences on this day to contemplate the coming of the Redeemer, and with the
prophets to long for Him; during the entire season of Advent she unites her prayers with their sighs, in order to awaken in her children also the desire for the grace of the Redeemer; above all to move them to true penance for their sins, because these are the greatest obstacles in the path of that gracious Advent; therefore she prays at the Introit of the day’s Mass:

INTROIT To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. Show me, O Lord, Thy ways, and teach me Thy paths (Ps. 24). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Raise up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power, and come; that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Rom. 13:11‑14). Brethren, knowing the time, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep: for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and strife; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does St. Paul teach us in this epistle?

After fully explaining the duties of a Christian life to the Romans who were converted mainly by St. Peter, he exhorts them to hesitate no longer to fulfil these duties, and he seeks to move their hearts by this time of grace, presented them by the Christian dispensation, and by the shortness of the time of grace.

What is here meant by sleep?

The stupidity and blindness of the soul that, forgetting her God, is sunk in a lukewarm, effeminate, slothful and lustful life, which, when it is gone, leaves nothing more than a dream.

Why does St. Paul say, “salvation is nearer”?

He wishes to impress upon the Romans that they now have far greater hope of salvation than when they first became Christians, and that they should secure it by a pious life, because death, and the moment on which depended their salvation, or eternal reward, was drawing near. “What is our life,” says St. Chrysostom, “other than a course, a dangerous course to death, through death to immortality?”

What is the signification of day and night?

The night signifies the time before Christ, a night of darkness, of infidelity and of injustice; the day represents the present time, in which by the gospel Christ enlightens the whole world with the teachings of the true faith.

What are “the works of darkness”?

All sins, and especially those which are committed in the dark, to shun the eye of God and man.

What is the “armor of light”?

That faith, virtue and grace, the spiritual armor, with which we battle against our three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and in which armor we should walk honestly before all men. A Christian who in baptism has renounced the devil and all his pomps, must not live in vice, but must put on Christ Jesus, that is, must by the imitation of Christ’s virtues adorn his soul, as it were, with a beautiful garment. This text (verse 13) moved St. Augustine to fly from all works of uncleanness in which he had been involved, and to lead a pure life which he had before thought difficult.

ASPIRATION Grant, O Lord, that we may rise by penance from the sleep of our sins, may walk in the light of Thy grace by the performance of good works, may put on Thee and adorn our souls with the imitation of Thy virtues. Amen.

GOSPEL (Lk. 21:25‑33). At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars: and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And he spoke to them a similitude: See the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Why does the Church cause the gospel of the Last Judgment to be read on this day?

To move us to penance, and to induce us to prepare our souls for the coming of Christ, by placing the Last Judgment before our minds. Should not the thought of this terrible judgment, when all good and all evil will be revealed, and accordingly be rewarded or punished in the presence of the whole world‑should not this thought strengthen us in virtue!

What signs will precede the Last Judgment?

The sun will be obscured, the stars will lose their light and disappear in the firmament (Is. 13:10), lightning and flames will surround the earth, and wither up every thing; the powers of heaven will be moved, the elements brought to confusion; the roaring of the sea with the howling of the winds and the beating of the storms will fill man with terror and dread. Such evil and distress will come upon the world, that man will wither away for fear, not knowing whither to turn. Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, the holy cross, the terror of the sinners who have scorned it, the consolation of the just who have loved it (Mt. 24:30).

Why will all this come to pass?

Because as the people love the creatures of God so inordinately, more than the Creator, and use them only to His dishonor, He will destroy them in this terrible manner, arming all creatures for vengeance against His enemies (Wis. 5:8‑24, and showing by the manner of their destruction the evils which will fall upon all sinners. The darkness of the sun will indicate the darkness of hell; the blood-red moon, the anger and wrath of God; the disappearance and falling of the stars, will represent the fall of sinners into the abyss of hell and their disappearance from earth; and the madness of the elements, will exhibit the rage of the beasts of hell. Sinners will then vainly, and too late, repent that they have attached their hearts to things which will end so horribly, and that only increase their torments.

Why does Christ nevertheless command: “Lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand”?

These words are spoken to the just who as long as they live on earth are like prisoners and exiles, but who at the Last Judgment will be taken body and soul into their long desired fatherland, the kingdom of heaven: into the freedom of the children of God. These will have reason to raise their heads, now bowed in mourning, and to rejoice.

How will the Last Judgment commence?

By the command of God the angels will sound the trumpets, summoning all men from the four parts of the earth to come to judgment (I Thess. 4:15). Then the bodies of the dead will unite with their souls, and be brought to the valley of Josaphat, and there placed, the just on the right, the wicked on the left (Mt. 25:33). Then the devils as well as the angels will appear; Christ Himself will be seen coming in a cloud, in such power and majesty that the sinners will be filled with terror. They will not dare to look at Him, and will cry to the mountains to fall upon them, and to the hills to cover them (Lk. 23:30).

How will the judgment be held?

The book of conscience, upon which all men are to be judged, and which closed with this life, will be opened. All good and evil thoughts, words, deeds and motives, even the most secret, known only to God, will then be as plainly revealed to the whole world as if they were written on each one’s forehead; by these each one will be judged, and be eternally rewarded, or eternally punished.

O God! If we must then give an account of every idle word (Mt. 12:36), how can we stand in the face of so many sinful words and actions!

Why will God hold a universal public Judgment?

Although immediately after death, a special private judgment of each soul takes place, God has ordained a public and universal judgment for the following reasons: First, that it may be clearly shown to all how just has been His private judgment, and also that the body which has been the instrument of sin or of virtue may share in the soul’s punishment or reward; secondly, that the justice which they could by no means obtain in this life, may be rendered before the whole world to the oppressed poor, and to persecuted innocence, and that the wicked who have abused the righteous, and yet have been considered honest and good, may be put to shame before all; thirdly, that the graces and means of salvation bestowed upon each, may be made known; fourthly, that the blessed providence of God which often permitted the righteous to suffer evil while the wicked prospered, may be vindicated, and it be shown on that day that His acts are acts of the greatest wisdom; fifthly, that the wicked may learn the goodness of God, not for their comfort or benefit, but for their greater sorrow, that they may see how He rewards even the slightest work performed for His love and honor; finally, that Christ may be exalted before the wicked on earth as before the good in heaven, and that the truth of His words may solemnly be made manifest.

ASPIRATION Just art Thou O God, and just are Thy judgments. Ah, penetrate my soul with holy fear of them, that I may be kept always in awe, and avoid sin. Would that I could say with the penitent St. Jerome: “Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, I seem to hear the awful sound of the trumpet in my ears: `Arise ye dead, and come to judgment.”‘

November 28, 2021   No Comments

~The Feast of Christ the King~ Last Sunday of October

Traditional Latin Mass: History & FAQ's
“That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in Heaven, on earth and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

Christ Himself speaks of His Own kingly authority [see link for Bible Citations]: in His last discourse, speaking of the rewards and punishments that will be the eternal lot of the just and the damned; in His reply to the Roman magistrate, who asked Him publicly whether He were a king or not; after His resurrection, when giving to His Apostles the mission of teaching and Baptizing all nations, He took the opportunity to call Himself king, confirming the title publicly, and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given Him in Heaven and on earth. These words can only be taken to indicate the greatness of his power, the infinite extent of His kingdom. What wonder, then, that He Whom St. John calls the “prince of the kings of the earth” appears in the Apostle’s vision of the future as He Who “hath on His garment and on His thigh written ‘King of kings and Lord of lords!’.” It is Christ Whom the Father “hath appointed heir of all things”; “for He must reign until at the end of the world He hath put all his enemies under the feet of God and the Father.”

It was surely right, then, in view of the common teaching of the sacred books, that the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings. And, in fact, she used these titles, giving expression with wonderful variety of language to one and the same concept, both in ancient psalmody and in the Sacramentaries.

www.catholictradition.org/Christ/cking-feast.htm

October 24, 2021   No Comments

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost

Traditional Latin Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Turners Falls  Massachusetts – Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

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

At the Introit of the Mass pray with the priest for the forgiveness of your sins: If thou shalt observe iniquities O Lord: Lord, who shall endure? for with thee is propitiation, O God of Israel. From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. (Ps. CXXIX.) Glory etc.

COLLECT O God, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all goodness, hear, we beseech Thee, the devout prayers of Thy Church, and grant that what we faithfully ask we may effectually obtain. Thro’.

EPISTLE (Philipp. I. 6-II.) Brethren, We are confident in the Lord Jesus, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus. As it is meet for me to think this for you all, for that I have you in my heart, and that in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of my joy. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding: that you may approve the better things; that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

EXPLANATION This epistle was written by St. Paul at Rome, where he was imprisoned for the faith, to the inhabitants of Philippi in Macedonia whom he had converted to the true faith. He congratulates them that they so willingly received and conscientiouly obeyed the gospel which he had preached to them, and he says, he trusts in God to complete the good work which He has commenced, and to give them perseverance until the day of
Christ, that is, until death.

GOSPEL (Matt. XXII. 15-21.) At that time, The Pharisees went and consulted among themselves how to ensnare Jesus in his speech. And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man, for thou dost not regard the person of men: tell us, therefore, what dost thou think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? Show me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They say to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Why did the Pharisees try to ensnare Jesus in His speech?

In order to find some reason to accuse Him before tho emperor, or to make Him hated by the Jews; for had He denied tribute to Caesar, they would have accused Him before the emperor as guilty of high treason; had He, on the contrary made it obligatory to pay tribute, then they would have denounced Him as a destroyer of the liberty of the people, who considered themselves a free nation owing allegiance only to God. Like the Pharisees are all those who, under the appearance of friendship, only cause vexation and misfortune to their neighbor.

Who are really hypocrites?

Those who in order to cheat their neighbor, appear outwardly pious and holy, whilst inward they are full of malice; those who have honey on the tongue, but gall in the heart, and sting like scorpions, when we least expect it. Because there are so many vices connected with hypocrisy, (Matt. XXIII.) therefore Christ has denounced no sin more emphatically than this one. Hypocrites are brethren of Cain, Joab, and Judas, of whom the first killed his brother, the second his cousin and the third betrayed his divine Master with a kiss. Such false men are cursed by God. (Mal, I. 14.) I hate a mouth with a double tongue. (Prov. VIII. 13.) “The devil silently possesses the hearts of hypocrites and quietly sleeps in them, whilst he gives them no peace,” says St. Gregory; and St. Jerome writes: “Pretended holiness is double malice.” Better is an open enemy, before whom we can be on our guard, than a hypocritical friend of whom we have no suspicion, because we look upon him as a friend. Beware, therefore, my dear Christian, of the vice of hypocrisy, which is so hateful to God; endeavor always to be sincere with God, thyself and thy neighbor, and to walk in-true humility before God, then mayst thou carry His image within thee.

PRAYER Help me, O Lord, for the number of the saints is decreasing and truth is becoming rare among men. They speak vain things each with his neighbor: their lips are deceitful, and they speak with double hearts. Let the Lord destroy all those who say: We will magnify our tongue; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us? O Lord, deliver my soul from wicked lips and deceitful tongues give me grace to preserve Thy image in my soul, by piety and virtue. Direct my heart to justice and keep it from avarice, that I may give to each his own.

INSTRUCTION ON THE FOLLY OF HUMAN RESPECT
Thou art a true speaker ‘ neither carest thou or any man, for thou dost not regard the person of men. (Matt. XXII. 16.)

In this Christians ought especially to follow the Saviour, and not permit themselves to be deterred from piety, and the practice of virtue by fear or human respect. What matters it, what people think and say of us, if we only please God? He alone can truly benefit or injure us; therefore he alone is to be feared, as Christ says: Fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. X. 28.)

How foolishly, therefore, do those act who through fear of displeasing certain people, are afraid to serve God and practice piety; who even go so far as to commit sin; who in order to be pleasing to others, oppress innocent, poor and forsaken people; who adopt the latest and most scandalous fashions and customs; those who eat meat on days of abstinence, or give it to others; those who sing sinful songs, or what is still worse, do not hesitate to ridicule sacred things to give others occasion to laugh, or in order to be considered strong-minded. Implore God daily and sincerely, that He may take from you this vain fear of men and give you instead the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.

INSTRUCTION ON THE VALUE AND DIGNITY OF THE SOUL
Whose image is this? (Matt. XXII. 20.)

Thus we should often ask ourselves with respect to our soul, particularly when we are tempted to stain and rain it by sin, Whose image is this? We should then say to ourselves, “Is it not the likeness of God, a likeness painted with the blood of Jesus, an image for which the Saviour gave His life? Should I defile and deform this by sin and voluptuousness? God forbid!” For in truth, what among all created things, except the angels, is more beautiful and more precious than a -human soul, which is in the state of grace? “Could we,” says St. Catherine of Sienna, “behold with our corporal eyes a soul in the state of grace, we would see with astonishment that it surpasses in splendor all flowers) all stars, the whole world, and there is probably no one who would not wish to die for such beauty.” It is a dwelling of the Blessed Trinity! Christ did not give His life for all the goods and treasures of this earth, but for the human soul. And yet many estimate their soul at such little value that they sell it for a momentary pleasure, for a present not worth a penny! For shame! The body we estimate so highly that we take all pains to decorate it and keep it alive, and the soul the image and likeness of God, we take no pains to keep in the state of grace, and adorn with virtues! What folly!

INSTRUCTION ON THE OBLIGATION TO PAY TAXES OR TRIBUTE TO THE GOVERNMENT
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (Matt. XXII. 21.)

To pay tribute to the lawful government is a duty of justice which the Spirit of God Himself commands us faithfully to fulfil. (Rom. XIII. 6, 7.) Christ Himself paid the customary didrachma for Himself and St. Peter; (Matt. XVII. 23.) “and if the Son of God Himself paid duty and tax,” says St. Ambrose, “who art thou, O man, that thou wouldst free thyself from it?” The government must watch lest the life of its subjects be at hazard, that their property be not endangered or stolen, that there be security on the highways, that peace, harmony and order be preserved among the citizens, that their temporal welfare be promoted; that science and art flourish, etc. For this, teachers, judges, officers and soldiers are necessary, for whose support care must be taken, and whose trouble must be rewarded. Besides this the government must care for the security of the country, for public streets and bridges, and institutions necessary for the common good; to enable the government to perform these duties, taxes are necessary and lawfully assessed. If you oppose these laws, you oppose God, for by Him princes rule, and the mighty degree justice. (Prov. VIII. 16.) Let the payment of duties be done willingly, because you pay them for love of God, and resigned to His holy will as the early Christians did, who even served their heathenish government with pleasure, in all that was not contrary to God’s will, and cheerfully paid the duties.

October 23, 2021   No Comments

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

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

At the Introit of the Mass is said a prayer of Mardochai, which may be used in all necessities:

INTROIT All things are in thy will, O Lord: and there is none that can resist thy will: for thou hast made all things, heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven: thou art Lord of all. (Esth. xiii. 9, 10.) Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. (Ps. cxviii.) Glory etc.

COLLECT Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy family by Thy continued goodness: that, through Thy protection, it may be free from all adversities, and devoted in good works to the glory of Thy name. Thro’.

EPISTLE (Ephes. vi. 10-17.) Brethern, Be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil: for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of, the most wicked one: and take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

EXPLANATION The apostle teaches the Ephesians how hard and dangerous a struggle every Christian has to make, not against human enemies of flesh and blood, but against spiritual, invisible enemies, who were at one time powerful princes in heaven, but through sin became princes of the darkness of this world, who govern the adherents of the world, and exercise their evil influence in the air as well as on the earth, as far as God permits them, for our chastisement or trial.

He shows us also the manner in which we can gain the victory in the evil day, that is, the time of temptation, and particularly at the hour of death, when he admonishes us to have confidence in God and gives us the weapons for the contest. We should, therefore, gird ourselves with the girdle of truth, which shows us that honor, concupiscence and riches are vain and useless; we should put on the breast-plate of justice which is made of good works: the shoes, by regulating our lives according to the precepts of the gospel, which alone can give us true peace; the shield of faith, which teaches us how richly God rewards virtue and how terribly He punishes those who succumb to temptation and sin; the helmet of salvation, namely, confidence in God and the hope of heaven; the sword of the word of God, by making use, when violently tempted, of consoling and strengthening expressions of Holy Scripture, by which we can put the devil to flight, according to the example of Christ (Matt. iv.) and the saints. – Let us diligently use these weapons, and we shall be victorious in this spiritual combat, and be crowned with eternal glory in heaven.

GOSPEL (Hall. XVill. 23-35.) At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him a hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants, seeing what was done, were very much grieved: and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him, and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Who are understood by the king, and the servants?

The King is God, and the servants are all mankind.

What is meant by the ten thousand talents?

The ten thousand talents, according to our money more than ten million dollars, signify mortal sin, the guilt of which is so great that no creature can pay it; even all the works of the saints cannot make atonement, because by every mortal sin the infinitely great, good, and holy God is offended, which offense it is, it is impossible for any creature to cancel as it is for a poor servant to pay a debt of ten million dollars. Nevertheless God is so merciful that He remits the whole immeasurable debt of sin, on account of the infinite merits of Christ, if the sinner contritely begs forgiveness and amends his life.

Why did the master order, not only the debtor, but also his wife and children to be sold?

Probably because they assisted in contracting the debt, or gave occasion for its increase. This is a warning to those who in any way make themselves partakers of others’ sins, either by counsel, command, consent, provocation, praise or flattery, concealment, partaking, silence and by defending ill-done things.

What is understood by the hundred pence?

By the hundred pence are understood the offenses committed against us, and which, in comparison with our debt against God, are very insignificant.

What does Jesus intend to show by this parable?

That if God is so merciful and forgives us our immense debts, we should be merciful and willingly forgive our fellow-men the slight faults and offenses, which they commit against us; he who does not this, will not receive pardon from God, in him will be verified the words of the apostle St. James: Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. (James ii. 13.)

Who are those who throttle their debtors?

These are, in general, the unmerciful, but particularly those who have no compassion for their debtors; those who immediately go to law and rest not until the debtor is left without house or home; those who oppress widows and orphans, if they owe them anything, thus committing one of the sins which cry to heaven for vengeance; (Ecclus. xxxv. 18. 19.) those who even in just lawsuits act harshly and severely with their opponent, without the slightest inclination to come to an agreement with him; finally, rulers and landlords who overburden their subjects with excessive tithes and taxes, and exact their share with the greatest rigor.

Who are those who accuse these hardened men before God?

They are the guardian angels and their own conscience; the merciless act itself cries to God for vengeance.

What is at to forgive from the heart?

It is to banish from the heart all hatred, ill-will and revengeful desires, to treasure a true and sincere love towards our offenders and enemies not only in our hearts, but also manifest it externally by deeds of charity. Therefore those have not forgiven from their hearts, who, indeed, say and believe, that they have no ill-will against their enemy, but everywhere avoid him, refuse to salute him, to thank him, to pray for him, to speak to him, and to help him in necessity, even when they might do so, but who rather rejoice at his need.

INSTRUCTION ON THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE

Have patience with me. (Matt. xviii. z6.)

Since God has such great patience with us, ought not this to move us to have patience likewise with the faults and weaknesses of our fellow-men, and to resign ourselves patiently in all the sufferings and tribulations sent us from God? What will your impatience avail you? Will you thereby change or ease your sufferings? Do you thereby correct the faults of your neighbor? No; on the contrary, it makes suffering more oppressive, misfortune greater, and the erring neighbor more obstinate, so that he will ultimately refuse even mild and patient corrections. Besides impatience leads to many sins, to cursing, raillery, quarrelling,. contention, and murder. The pious Job gives us a good example of true patience and resignation to the will of God. He was a wealthy, respected, God-fearing man in the land of Hus, the father of seven sons and three daughters, and lived peacefully and happy. God wished to try him and permitted the devil to vent his entire rage upon him. Job was deprived of his children and all his property, and, finally, he was himself afflicted with the most painful disease of leprosy. But in the midst of all these dreadful misfortunes he remained calm. Naked, covered only with a few patches, he sits on a dunghill, a picture of misery, and yet no sound of murmuring comes from his lips, he does not curse, does not blaspheme God, but says resignedly: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. To all this misery was added the baseness of his own wife, who came and mocked him, and of three intimate friends, who instead of consoling him, judged him falsely and said, that his misery was a just punishment from heaven. Still Job did not murmur against God’s wise dispensations; with unshaken patience he faithfully confided in God, and he was not forsaken. God rewarded him well for his fidelity and patience; for He restored him to health, and gave him greater wealth than he had previously. See what patience can do, what reward is in store for it! And thou a Christian, a follower of Christ, the patient, crucified Lamb, art immediately irritated, become angry and morose at every little cross which you meet! Be ashamed of your weakness, and learn from the pious Job, to practice the virtue of patience, for patience proves hope, and hope permits us not to be put to shame. Patience always gains the victory, and will be rewarded in heaven.

If you find yourself inclined to impatience, make every morning a firm resolution to battle bravely against this vice and often ask God for the virtue of patience in the following prayer:

O God who by the patience of Thy only-begotten Son hast humbled the pride of the old enemy, vouchsafe that devoutly considering what He has suffered for us we may cheerfully bear our adversities, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, etc.

October 16, 2021   No Comments

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

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

The Introit of the Mass is an humble prayer, by which we acknowledge that we are punished for our disobedience:

INTROIT All that thou hast done to us, O. Lord, thou hast done in true, judgment: because we have sinned against thee, and have not obeyed thy commandments: but give glory to thy name, and deal with us according to the multitude of thy mercy. (Dan. III. 28.) Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. (Fs. CXVIII.). Glory etc.

COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, in Thy mercy to Thy faithful pardon and peace; that they may both be cleansed from all their offences, and serve Thee with a quiet mind. Thro’.

EPISTLE (Ephes. V. 15-21.) Brethren, See how you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury: but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father; being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.

How may we redeem time?

By employing every moment to gain eternal goods, even should we lose temporal advantages thereby; by letting no opportunity pass without endeavoring to do good, to labor and, suffer for love of God, to improve our lives, and increase in, virtue.

Do you wish to know, says the pious Cornelius á Lapide, how precious time is: Ask the damned, for these know it from experience. Come, rich man, from the abyss of hell, tell us what you would give for one year, one day, one hour of time! I would, he says, give a whole world, all pleasures, all treasures, and bear all torments. O, if only one moment were granted me to have contrition for my sins, to obtain forgiveness of my crimes, I would purchase this moment with every labor, with any penance, with all punishments, torments and tortures which men ever suffered in purgatory or in hell, even if they lasted hundreds, yes, thousands or millions of years! O precious moment upon which all eternity depends! O, how many moments did you, my dear Christian, neglect, in which you could have served God, could have done good for love of Him, and gained eternal happiness by them, and you have lost these precious moments. Remember, with one moment of time, if you employ it well, you can purchase eternal happiness, but with all eternity you cannot purchase one moment of time!

ASPIRATION Most bountiful God and Lord! I am heartily sorry, that I have so carelessly employed the time which Thou bast given me for my salvation. In order to supply what I have neglected, as far as I am able, I offer to Thee all that I have done or suffered from the first use of my reason, as if I had really to do and suffer it still; and I offer it in union with all the works and sufferings of our Saviour, and beg fervently, that Thou wilt supply, through His infinite merits, my defects, and be pleased with all my actions and sufferings.

Be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury!

[On the vice of drunkenness see the third Sunday after Pentecost. Here we will speak only of those who make others drunk by encouragement.] The Persian King Assuerus expressly forbade that any one should be urged to drink at his great banquet. (Esth. I. 8.) This heathen who knew from the light of reason, that it is immoral to lead others to intemperance, will one day rise in judgment against those Christians who, enlightened by the light of faith, would not recognize and avoid this vice. Therefore the Prophet Isaias (V. 22.) pronounces woe to those who are mighty in drinking and know how to intoxicate others; and St. Augustine admonishes us, by no means to consider those as friends, who by their fellowship in drinking would make us enemies of God.

GOSPEL (John IV. 46-53.) At that time, There was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler with to him: Lord, come down before my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him, and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore, knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth: and himself believed; and his whole house.

INSTRUCTIONS

I.God permitted the son of the ruler to become sick that he might ask Christ for the health of his son, and thus obtain true faith and eternal happiness. In like manner, God generally seeks to lead sinners to Himself, inasmuch as He brings manifold evils and misfortunes either upon the sinner himself or on his children, property, etc. Hence David said: It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications, (Ps. CXVIII. 71.) and therefore he also asked God to fill the faces of sinners with shame, that they should seek His name. (Ps. LXXXII. 17.) This happened to those of whom David says: Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they hastened in returning to God. (Ps. XV. 4.) O would we only do the same! When God sends us failure of crops, inundations, hail-storms, dearth, war, etc., He wishes nothing else than that we abandon sin and return to Him. But what do we? Instead of hastening to God, we take refuge in superstition, or we murmur against Him, find fault with or even blaspheme His sacred regulations; instead of removing our sins by sincere penance, we continually commit new ones, by murmuring and impatience, by hatred and enmity, by rash judgments, as if the injustice and malice of others were the cause of our misfortune. What will become of us if neither the benefits nor the punishments of God make us better?

II. Christ said to this ruler: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. This was a reprimand for his imperfect faith; for if he had truly believed Christ to be the Son of God, he would not have asked Him to come to his house, but, like the centurion, would have believed Him able, though absent, to heal His son. (Matt. VIII.) Many Christians deserve the same rebuke from Christ, because they lose nearly all faith and confidence in God, when He does not immediately help them in their troubles, as they wish. He proves to us how displeasing such a want of confidence is to Him by withdrawing His assistance and protection from the fickle and distrustful. (Ecclus. II. 15.)

II. How much may not the example of the father of a family accomplish! This ruler had no sooner received the faith, than his whole household was converted and believed in Christ. Fathers and mothers by their good example, by their piety, frequent reception of the Sacraments, by their meekness, temperance, modesty and other virtues, may accomplish incalculable good among their children and domestics.

CONSOLATION IN SICKNESS

There was a certain ruler whose son was sick. (John IV. 16.)

As a consolation in sickness, you should consider that God sends you this affliction for the welfare of’ your soul, that you may know your sins; or if you be innocent, to practice patience, humility, charity, etc., and increase your merits. Therefore a holy father said to one of his companions, who complained, because he was sick: “My son! if you are gold, then you will be proved by sickness, but if you are mixed with dross, then you will be purified.” “Many are vicious in health,” says St. Augustine, “who would be virtuous in sickness;” and St. Bernard says: “It is better to arrive at salvation through sickness, than to have health and be damned.”

It is also a powerful means of consolation in sickness, to represent to ourselves the suffering Redeemer, who had no soundness from the top of His head to the sole of His foot, and contemplating whom St. Bonaventure used to cry out: “O Lord, I do not wish to live without sickness, since I see Thee wounded so much.”

When sick, we should carefully examine, whether we possess any ill-gotten goods, or have any other secret sin on our conscience; and if we are conscious of any, we should quickly free ourselves from it by a contrite, sincere confession, and by restoring the things belonging to others. Sins are very often the cause of disease, and God does not bless the medicine unless the sickness effects its object, that is, the sinners amendment. Still less can we expect help, but rather temporal and eternal misfortune, if we have recourse to superstition, and spells, as the King Ochozias experienced, who was punished with death, because in sickness he had recourse to the idol Beelzebub. (IV Kings I.)

PRAYER O Jesus, Thou true physician of souls, who dost wound and heal us, yea, dost even permit sorrows and adversities to visit us that our souls may have health, grant us the grace to use every bodily pain according to Thy merciful designs for the promotion of our salvation.

INSTRUCTION ON CARE OF THE SICK

Come down before my son die. (John IV. 49.)

All who have the charge of sick persons, should be like this father, that is, they should first of all endeavor to call upon Jesus to come in the most holy Sacrament, before the sick person is unable to receive Him. The devil seeks to hinder nothing more than this. He excites the imagination of the sick person, making him believe that he can live longer, that he will certainly get well again, in order to ruin him easier afterwards, because he defers his conversion. Those contribute to this end who through fear of frightening the sick person or of annoying him, fail to call the priest at the right time. This is cruel love, which deprives the sick person of the salvation of his soul and eternal happiness, and brings with it a terrible responsibility. Where there is question of eternity, no carefulness can be too great. We should, therefore, choose the safest side, because the suffering may easily increase and finally make the sick person unable to attend to the affairs of his soul. We should, therefore, not conceal from him the danger in which he is, and if he has still the use of his reason, should call in the priest that he may receive the Last Sacraments. He will not die sooner on that account, but rather derive the greatest benefit therefrom, since his conscience will be cleansed from sin, which may be the cause of his sickness, and perhaps, he may regain his health, or at least be strengthened by the newly received grace of God, to bear his pains with greater patience and to die far easier, securer, and more consoled. We should also endeavor to encourage the sick person to resignation, and a childlike confidence in God, should pray with him to strengthen him against desponding thoughts, and the temptations of the devil; we should present him a crucifix to kiss; repeat the holy names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and other consolatory ejaculations, such as are found in prayer-books; should sign him with the sign of the cross; sprinkle him with holy water, and above all pray for a happy death. We should not weep and lament, by which death is only made harder for him, nor should we hold useless, idle and worldly conversations with him which will prevent him from thinking of God instead of the salvation of his soul, and from preparing himself for the last dangerous struggle. Finally, we should by no means suffer in his presence persons who have given him occasions of committing sin, because they would be obstacles to his sincere conversion.

There is truly no greater work of charity than to assist our neighbor to a happy death.

October 10, 2021   No Comments

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s

The Church’s Year

(Angelus Press)

INTROIT I am the salvation of the people, saith the Lord: in whatever tribulation they shall cry to me, I will hear them: and I will be their Lord for ever. Attend, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (Ps. LXXVII.) Glory etc.

COLLECT Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep us from all things that are hurtful; that we, being set free both in mind and body, may with ready minds accomplish whatever is Thine. Thro’.

EPISTLE (Ephes. IV. 23-28.) Brethren, Be re­newed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. Wherefore, putting, away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go clown upon your anger. Give not place to the devil. He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labor, work­ing with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.

EXPLANATION  St. Paul admonishes the Ephesians to lay aside the- old man, like a worn out garment, and put on the new man, that is, to renew their internal and external life. This renewal according to his teaching takes place, when we by a true repentance put away our vices, shun all lies, anger, injustice, &c., and adorn our soul with virtues, and zealously seek after Christian justice and perfection. We have, perhaps, already sought to change our manner of living, for which a jubilee or some other particular solemnity of the Church gave us occasion, and at that time, perhaps, purified our soul by a general confession, making the firm resolution to live for God, and work out our salvation, we appeared converted, and to have become other men: but how long did this conversion last? Ah, how soon did we fall back into the old, sinful ways. And why? Because we lived in too great, deceitful security. We thought everything accomplished by the general confession; we were satisfied, and omitted to employ the means of remaining in the state of grace. We did not thank God for the grace of conversion; we did not ask Him for the grace of perseverance; we frequented evil company, and did not avoid dangerous occasions; we indulged in idleness and pleasures as before. How can it appear strange, if such a conversion is fruitless? Ah, we should remain in wholesome fear even after the remission of our sins. (Ecclus. V. 5.) Even if we could say that we have done everything, nevertheless we cannot be certain, whether we be worthy of hatred or love. (Ecclus. IX. 1.) We should, therefore, work out our salvation according to the advice of St. Paul (Philipp. II. 12.) in fear and trembling, and thus not fall into the old life of sin, losing the hope of a new conversion.

Tenth Sunday After PentecostGOSPEL (Matt. XXII. 1-14.) At that time, Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the Pharisees in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage, and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited. Behold I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected: and went their, ways, one to his farm, and another to his mer­chandise: and the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard, of it; he was angry: and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they, that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together, all that they found, both bad and good; and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to the feast of the guests; and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment: and he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

REMARK Thir parable agrees in many respects with that for the second  Sunday after Pentecost, and has the same meaning. See, therefore, the explanation of that gospel, as also of the feast of SR Catherine, to which Maybe added the following:

EXPLANATION In this parable the king is our Heavenly Father who has espoused His only-begotten Son to the Church, and on this occasion prepares the most sumptuous marriage-feast by giving the evangelical doctrine, the holy Sacraments, and the heavenly joys. The servants sent to invite the guests are the prophets, apostles and disciples of Christ. Those invited are the Jews who despised the honor and grace of the divine King, destined for them, abused and killed His servants, and were, therefore, cast aside and with their city Jerusalem, destroyed by the armies of their enemies, as a just punishment; in their stead the heathens and all those nations were called, who were on the broad road to destruction, and who now occupy the places of the unfortunate Jews at the marriage feast of the Church, and shall also occupy them in heaven. In the Jews to whom Christ addressed this parable, is verified that many of them, nay, all are called, but few chosen, because they would not heed the invitation.

APPLICATION We have the honor not only to be invited to this marriage-feast, but are in reality guests at it, because we are members of the Church of Christ by faith. “But the Christian,” says St. Gregory, “who is a member of the Church by faith, but has not charity, is like to a man who comes to the marriage-feast without the wedding garment.” With this garment which is charity, Christ was vested, when He came to celebrate the nuptials with His spouse, the Church, and by the bond of charity the Son of God also unites Himself with His elect. He clearly lets us know that charity is the wedding garment which should vest us. Those, therefore, who believe and are in the communion of the Church, but who do not preserve the grace of charity, are indeed in the wedding-chamber, but they are not adorned with the wedding garment. They are dead members of the Church, and shall not be admitted without this garment into the celestial marriage-feast in the triumphant Church, but rather be cast like that unfor­tunate guest into exterior darkness. This guest was silent, when asked by the king, why he had not .the wedding gar­ment. By this we see, that no one can excuse himself to God for not having charity, because every one can have it, if he asks it from God, and, as St. Augustine says, our heart is the workshop of charity, and every one who has a heart can practice it.

PRAYER I thank Thee, O Jesus, that Thou didst call me to the marriage-feast in Thy Church; give me the wedding garment of charity that I may be present at the celestial marriage-feat, and not be cast into exterior darkness.

INSTRUCTION CONCERNING HELL

Cast him into the exterior darkness. (Matt, XXII. 13.)

What is hell?

Hell is that place where the damned must suffer eternal punishment.

Is there a hell?

Yes; reason, holy Scripture and the Church teach us that there is a hell. Reason tells us that there is a just God who will punish sin. It is evident that all sins are not punished in this world; there must, therefore, be a place, where every mortal sin, not atoned for by sorrow and penance, will be punished, and this place is – hell. All nations from the beginning of the world, even those who had not the light of revelation, believed this.

But clearer still is the existence of hell shown by holy Scripture: The pious Job, (X. 22.) speaks of a region of misery and darkness, where the shadows of death and no order, but where eternal terror dwells. The Prophet Isaias (XXX. 33.) says that hell is deep and wide, and that the fire burning in it, is like a stream of sulphur, ignited by the breath of the Lord. Our Saviour expressly says that those who have done evil, shall go to everlasting torment, (Matt.  XXV. 46.) that they shall be tortured by everlasting fire. (Matt. XXV. 41.) He makes mention of hell, and says that an inextinguishable fire burns there, and a worm which never dies, plagues the wicked. (Mark IX. 42. 43; Matt. X. 28.) All the Fathers of the Church teach and testify to the same doctrine. St. Augustine, among many others, says: “The infinite wisdom of God tells us that there is a hell, and the illimitable power of God it is that punishes the dam­ned in a wonderful, but real manner.”

Wherein do the pains of hell consist?

Sacred Scripture and the Church teach concerning the pains, of the reprobate in hell, that the damned burn there in an inextinguishable fire. (Mark IX. 45.) The holy doctors of the Church say, that this fire is never extinguished, and its smoke ascends or rises from century to century, “I see this fire,” says St. Gregory, “as if it were gifted with reason; it make a distinction between the guilty, and tortures the damned according to the nature of their sins.” This fire burns, but never consumes its victims; it commu­nicates, as Cassiodorus says, immortality to the reprobate and lets them suffer pain, which preserves them, like salt which penetrates the flesh and keeps it from corruption, as Jesus says: Every one shall be salted with fire. (Mark IX. q.8.) This fire does not shine, it leaves the reprobate in darkness, (Matt. VIII. 12.) and with this fire a never dying worm continually torments the damned. This worm is not only a bad conscience, say the holy Fathers, but particu­larly the privation of the Beatific Vision. Eternally will the thought torment the damned: I have lost God, the only true and highest Good, I have lost Him through my fault, I have lost Him for a brief pleasure, I have lost Him forever. In hell eternity devours all time; and if after millions and millions of years a damned soul wailingly asks his companion in misery: What time is it? he receives the answer: Eternity.

Who would not fear hell, and avoid sin which incurs eternal punishment, when he reflects upon this! Arid yet there are many, , upon whom the truth of the existence of a hell makes no impression, who even deny that there is such a place, and who say: God is love, He can have no pleasure in the torments of His creatures, He cannot eter­nally punish a sin which was committed in so short a time as is the life of man.” But those who speak thus, forget that God is just, that His love and mercy are indeed always ready to forgive the contrite and penitent, but that His justice must also be satisfied, when the sinner continually rejects the merciful love of God; they forget, that every grievous sin which man commits voluntarily and knowingly is an infinite, eternal insult, offered to God, which can only be atoned for by an eternal punishment. For the perverted and malicious will of a man, who dies in mortal sin, remains perverted and malicious forever, therefore he must also be punished eternally.

O my dear Christian, do not listen to such deceivers; for just on account of their sinful life, they fear hell and therefore they endeavor to free themselves from this fear by denying the existence of hell; but they cannot succeed; for Jesus, the Truth, has told us that there is a hell, and His word remains for all eternity. Endeavor rather by a pious life to escape hell, descend there in spirit frequently according to the advice of a saint, contemplate the torments of the damned, and let this reflection urge you to imitate Christ, who has promised the joys of heaven to all His faithful followers.

CONSOLING DOCTRINE ON THE JOYS OF HEAVEN

The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. (Matt. XXII. 2.)

Heaven is compared by Christ to a marriage-feast because we will there enjoy all imaginable pleasures in the most perfect union with God. In what these joys consist, fit. Paul could not describe, although he was wrapt into the third heaven and tasted these pleasures; he only said: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Cor. II. 9.) Holy Writ, indeed, gives us many descriptions of the celestial joys, by comparing heaven to a paradise of bliss, sometimes to a precious pearl, or a treasure which neither rust nor moth consumes, nor thieves steal; again it represents heaven under the picture of a kingdom, a throne, a crown, whereby we are raised to the highest honor; at another time to the picture of a city which is built of gold, precious stones and pearls, lighted by the splendor of God, filled with magnificence and glory, and where the inhabitants enjoy undisturbed peace and security. These are only images or similitudes, which are taken from the most beautiful, most precious, and magnificent things of the earth, to teach us that heaven is as beautiful and pleasant a place, as we can wish and represent to ourselves, and that all possible beauty, agreeableness and joy may be found there in the highest and most perfect manner, free from evil, anxiety, disgust and fear of losing them.. In heaven we will possess God Himself, the source of all joy and bliss, and will enjoy His own happiness for all eternity. More is riot needed to give us the highest conception of heaven.

Who would not willingly despise the vain, short and im­perfect pleasures of this earth, whilst contemplating this indescribable bliss? Who would not willingly bear all the misfortunes. and misery of this world, when considering that the more .miserable we have been in this life the happier will we be hereafter. What would it avail us to have enjoyed all the pleasures of this world, if deprived of the pleasures of heaven, in, eternity!

ASPIRATION How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord, of hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. (Ps. LXXXIII. 2-3.) How do I loathe the world, when I contemplate heaven.

(St. Ignatius Loyola.)

October 2, 2021   No Comments

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Traditional Latin Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Turners Falls  Massachusetts – Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

by Rev. Leonard Goffine

At the Introit of the Mass the Church prays for the peace which God has promised by His prophets:

INTROIT Give peace, O Lord, to them that patiently wait for thee, that thy prophets may be found faithful: hear the prayers of thy servant, and of thy people Israel. (Ecclus. XXXVI. 18.) I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. (Ps. CXXI. 1.) Glory etc.

COLLECT O Lord, inasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, let Thy merciful pity rule and direct our hearts, we beseech Thee. Thro’.

EPISTLE (I Cor. I. 4-8.) Brethren, I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus, that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge: as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ who also will confirm you into the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

EXPLANATION St. Paul shows in this epistle that he possesses true love for his neighbor, because he rejoices and thanks God that he enriched the Corinthians with different graces and gifts, thus confirming the testimony of Christ in them, so that they could without fear expect His arrival for judgment. – Do thou also rejoice, with St. Paul, for the graces given to thy neighbor, for this is a mark of true charity.

GOSPEL (Matt. IX. 1-8.) At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water, and came into his own city. And behold, they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son; thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold, some of the Scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? whether it is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then said he to the man sick of the palsy): Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it feared, and glorified God who had given such power to men.

EXPLANATIONS

  1. Those who brought this sick man to Christ, give us a touching example of how we should take care of the sick and help them according to our ability. Christ was so well pleased with their faith and charity, that He cured the man sick of the palsy, and forgave him his sins. Hence we learn how we might assist many who are diseased in their soul, if we would lead them to God by confiding prayer, by urgent admonitions, or by good example.
  2. Christ did not heal the man sick of the palsy until He had forgiven him his sins, by this He wished to teach us, that sins are often the cause of sicknesses and other evils, by which we are visited, and which God would remove from us if we were truly repentant. This doctrine Jesus confirmed, when He said to the man, who had been sick for thirty-eight years: Sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. (John V. 14.) Would that this were considered by those who so often impetuously demand of God to be freed from their evils, but do not intend to free themselves from their sins, which are the cause of these evils, by a sincere repentance.

III. “He blasphemeth.” Thus thought the Jews, in their perverted hearts, of Christ, because they believed that He in remitting the sins of the sick man, usurped the rights of God and thus did Him a great injury; for it is blasphemy to think, say, or do any thing insulting to God or His saints. But these Jews did not consider that they by their rash judgment calumniated God, since they blasphemed Christ who by healing the sick man, and by numerous other works had clearly proved His God-head. If Christ so severely reprimanded the Jews, who would not recognize Him as God, for a blasphemous thought against Him, what will He do with those Christians who, though they wish to be adorers of God and His Son, nevertheless, utter blasphemies, curses, and profanations of the holy Sacraments?

  1. When Jesus saw their thoughts, He said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? This may be taken to heart by those who think that thoughts are free from scrutiny, and who never think to confess their evil and shameful thoughts. God; the most Holy and most just, will, nevertheless, not leave a voluntary unchaste, proud, angry, revengeful, envious thought unpunished, any more than an idle word. (Matt, XII. 36.) The best remedy against evil thoughts would be the recollection that God who searches the heart sees them, and will punish them.

PRAYER How great, O Jesus! is Thy love and mercy towards poor sinners, since Thou not only forgavest the sins of the man sick of palsy, but calling him son, didst console and heal him! This Thy love encourages me to beg of Thee the grace, that we may rise from our bed of sins by true penance, amend our life, and through the ways of Thy commandments enter the house of eternal happiness.

INSTRUCTION ON INDULGENCES

Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. (Matt. IX. 2.)

The same that Christ says to the man sick of the palsy, the priest says to every contrite sinner in the confessional, and thus remits the crime or the guilt of his sins, and the eternal punishment, by virtue of the authority given him by God. But since sins not only bring with them guilt and eternal punishment, but also temporal1 and indeed spiritual or supernatural punishment, such as, painful conditions of the soul, as well in this world as in purgatory, and natural ones, as: poverty, disease, all sorts of adversities and accidents, we should endeavor to liberate ourselves from them by means of indulgences.

What is an indulgence?

It is a total or partial remission of the temporal punishment which man would have to suffer either in this or the next life, after the sins have been remitted.

How do we know that after the remission of the sins there still remains temporal punishment?

From holy Scripture; for our first parents after the forgiveness of their sin, were still afflicted with temporal punishment. (Gen. III.) God likewise forgave the sins of the children of Israel, who murmured so often against Him in the desert, but not their punishment, for He excluded them from the Promised Land, and caused them to die in the desert. (Num. XIV.) Moses and Aaron experienced the same, on account of a slight want of confidence in God. (Num. XX. 12., Deut. XXXII. 51. 52.) David, indeed, received pardon from God through the Prophet Nathan for adultery and murder, (II Kings XII.) still he had to endure heavy temporal punishment. Finally, faith teaches us, that we are tortured in purgatory for our sins, until we have paid the last farthing. (Matt. V. 26.)

Did the Church always agree with this doctrine of Scripture?

Yes; for she always taught, that by the Sacrament of Penance the guilt and eternal punishment, due to sin, are indeed forgiven for the sake of the infinite merits of Jesus, but that temporal punishment still remains, for which the sinner must do penance. Even in the earliest ages she imposed great penances upon sinners for their sins which were already forgiven. For instance, murder or adultery was punished by a penance of twenty years; perjury, eleven; fornication, denial of faith or fortune-telling, by seven years of severe penance with fasting, etc. During this time it was not allowed to travel, except on foot, to be present at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or to receive the holy Eucharist. If the penitents showed a great zeal for penance and sincere amendment, or if distinguished members of the Church, particularly martyrs, interceded for them, the bishops granted them an indulgence, that is, they remitted the remaining punishment either totally or partially. In our days, on account of the weakness of the faithful, the Church is lenient. Besides the ecclesiastical, the spiritual punishments which would have to be suffered either here or in purgatory for the taking away of sins, are shortened and mitigated by indulgences through he treasure of the communion of saints.

Has the Church the power to remit temporal punishments, or to grant indulgences?

The Council of Trent expressly states, that the Church has power to grant indulgences, (Sess. 25.) and this statement it supports by the words of Christ. For as Christ protests: Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; so He also promised, that whatever the Church looses upon earth, is ratified and loosed in heaven. Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matt. XVIII. 18.) Even an apostle granted an indulgence. In the person and by the power of Christ, that his spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, (II Cor. II. 10.; I Cor. V. 4. 5.) St. Paul forgave the incestuous Corinthian, upon whom he had imposed a heavy punishment.

What is meant by saying, indulgences are granted out of the treasury of the saints or of the Church?

By this is meant that God, by the Church, remits the temporal punishment due to sin for the sake of the merits of Christ and the saints, and supplies, as it were, by these merits what is still wanting in our satisfaction.

What kinds of indulgences are there?

Two; plenary and partial indulgences. A plenary indulgence, if rightly gained, remits all ecclesiastical and temporal punishment, which we would otherwise have to expiate by penance. A partial indulgence, however, remits only so many days or years of the temporal punishment, as, according to the penitential code of the primitive ages of the Church; the sinner would have been obliged to spend in severe penance. Hence the name forty day’s indulgence, etc.

What is a Jubilee?2

It is a plenary indulgence, which the pope grants to the faithful of the entire world, whereby all the temporal punishments of sin, even in cases reserved to the pope or the bishops, are remitted, and forgiven in the name of God, if the sinner confesses contritely and receives the holy Eucharist and has a firm purpose of doing penance.

What is required to gain an indulgence?

First, that we should be in the state of grace, and have already obtained, by true repentance, forgiveness of those sins, the temporal punishment of which is to be remitted by the indulgence; and secondly, that we should exactly perform the good works prescribed for the gaining of the indulgence.

Do indulgences free us from performing works of penance?

By no means: for there are few in the proper state to receive a plenary indulgence in its fulness, since not only purity of soul is necessary but also the inclination to sin must be rooted out, it therefore cannot be the intention of the Church to free us from all works of penance by granting us indulgences. She cannot act contrary to the word of Jesus: Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Luke XIII. 3.) She rather wishes to assist our weakness, to supply our inability to do the required penance, and to contribute what is wanting in our penance, by applying the satisfaction of Christ and the saints to us by indulgences. If we, therefore, do not wish to do penance for our own sins, we shall have no part in the merits of others by indulgences.

Can indulgences be gained for the souls of the faithful departed?

Yes, by way of suffrage, so far as we comply with the required conditions, and thus beg of God, for the merits of His Son and the saints, to release the souls in purgatory. Whether God receive this petition or not, remains with Him, He will act only according to the condition of the deceased. We must, therefore, not depend upon the indulgences and good works which may be performed for us after death, but rather endeavor, during our life-time, to secure our salvation by leading a pious life; by our own good works and by the gaining of indulgences.

What follows from the doctrine of the Church concerning indulgences?

That an indulgence is no grant or license to commit sin, as the enemies of the Church falsely assert; that an indulgence grants no forgiveness of sins past or future, much less is permission given to commit sin; that no Catholic can believe that by gaming indulgences he is released from penance, or other good works, free from the fight with his evil inclinations, passions and habits, from compensating for injuries, repairing scandals, from retrieving neglected good, and glorifying God by works and sufferings; but that indulgences give nothing else than partial or total remission of temporal punishment; that they remind us of our weakness and lukewarmness which is great when compared with the zeal and fervor of the early Christians; that they impel us to satisfy the justice of God according to our ability. Finally, they remind us to thank God continually that He gave the Church a means in the inexhaustible treasure of the merits of Christ and His saints, to help our weakness and to supply what is wanting in our penance.

September 23, 2021   No Comments