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Father Faber on the Holy Souls in Purgatory

From The Amish Catholic Site

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We should always remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially in this, their month. (Source)

Today is Remembrance Sunday here in the U.K. We had a splendid Solemn High Requiem Mass at the Oxford Oratory, complete with black vestments. The setting was a Requiem by Haydn, which seem to draw us on the journey of a holy soul. From an Introit that sounds like the mournful ghosts of the dead, we proceed to a communion that is full of airy light and calm joy – with a great deal of drama in between. 

I realized that I had not posted anything for All Souls’ Day. Since today is yet another day set aside, at least by British Catholics, for praying on behalf of the dead, I decided I’d post something by that spiritual master, Father Frederick William Faber of the London Oratory. In his own life, Fr. Faber known for his great devotion to the Holy Souls. One of his more famous texts deals with prayer for those in Purgatory. I have selected the following text from that work, Fr. Faber’s Purgatory. You can also find it on this website. I offer it here for your consideration, and in the hope that the good priest’s words might kindle in us a fonder and more steadfast devotion to the Faithful Departed.

Both views [of Purgatory within Catholicism] agree again in holding that what we in the world call very trivial faults are most severely visited in purgatory. St. Peter Damian gives us many instances of this, and others are collected and quoted by Bellarmine. Slight feelings of self-complacency, trifling inattentions in the recital of the Divine Office, and the like, occur frequently among them. Sister Francesca mentions the case of a girl of fourteen in purgatory, because she was not quite conformed to the will of God in dying so young: and one soul said to her: Ah men little think in the world how dearly they are going to pay here for faults they hardly note there. She even saw souls that were immensely punished only for having been scrupulous in this life; either, I suppose, because there is mostly self-will in scruples, or because they did not lay them down when obedience commanded. Wrong notions about small faults may thus lead us to neglect the dead, or leave off our prayers too soon, as well as lose a lesson for ourselves.

Then, again, both views agree as to the helplessness of the Holy Souls. They lie like the paralytic at the pool. It would seem as if even the coming of the angel were not an effectual blessing to them, unless there be some one of us to help them Some have even thought they cannot pray. Anyhow, they have no means of making themselves heard by us on whose charity they depend. Some writers have said that Our Blessed Lord will not help them without our co-operation; and that Our Blessed Lady cannot help them, except in indirect ways, because she is no longer able to make satisfaction; though I never like to hear anything our dearest mother cannot do; and I regard such statements with suspicion. Whatever may come of these opinions, they at least illustrate the strong way in which theologians apprehend the helplessness of the Holy Souls. Then another feature in their helplessness is the forgetfulness of the living, or the cruel flattery of relations who will always have it that those near or dear to them die the deaths of Saints. They would surely have a scruple, if they knew of how many Masses and prayers they rob the souls, by the selfish exaggeration of their goodness. I call it selfish, for it is nothing more than a miserable device to console themselves in their sorrow. The very state of the Holy Souls is one of the most unbounded helplessness. They cannot do penance; they cannot merit; they cannot satisfy; they cannot gain indulgences; they have no Sacraments; they are not under the jurisdiction of God’s Vicar, overflowing with the plentitude of means of grace and manifold benedictions. They are a portion of the Church without either priesthood or altar at their own command.

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Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. (Source)

Those are the points common to both views of purgatory; and how manifold are the lessons we learn from them, on our own behalf as well as on behalf of the Holy Souls. For ourselves, what light does all this throw on slovenliness, lukewarmness, and love of ease? What does it make us think of performing our devotions out of a mere spirit of formality, or a trick of habit? What diligence in our examens, confessions, Communions, and prayers! It seems as if the grace of all graces for which we should ever be importuning our dear Lord, would be to hate sin with something of the hatred wherewith He hated it in the garden of Gethsemane. Oh, is not the purity of God something awful, unspeakable, adorable? He, who is Himself a simple act, has gone on acting, multiplying acts since creation, yet he has incurred no stain! He is ever mingling with a most unutterable condescension with what is beneath Him-yet no stain! He loves His creatures with a love immeasurably more intense than the wildest passion of earth- yet no stain! He is omnipotent, yet it is beyond the limits of His power to receive a stain. He is so pure that the very vision of Him causes eternal purity and blessedness. Mary’s purity is but a fair thin shadow of it, and yet we, even we, are to dwell in His arms for ever, we are to dwell amid the everlasting burnings of that uncreated purity! Yet, let us look at our lives; let us trace our hearts faithfully through but one day, and see of what mixed intentions, human respects, self-love, and pusillanimous temper our actions, nay, even our devotions, are made up of; and does not purgatory, heated seven-fold and endured to the day of doom, seem but a gentle novitiate for the Vision of the All-holy?

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St. Michael the Archangel has traditionally been closely associated with the Holy Souls of Purgatory in the Church’s devotional life. (Source)

But some persons turn in anger from the thought of purgatory, as if it were not to be endured, that after trying all our lives long to serve God, we should accomplish the tremendous feat of a good death, only to pass from the agonies of the death-bed into fire, long, keen, searching, triumphant, incomparable fire. Alas! my dear friends, your anger will not help you nor alter facts. But have you thought sufficiently about God? Have you tried to realise His holiness and purity in assiduous meditation? Is there a real divorce between you and the world which you know is God’s enemy? Do you take God’s side? Are you devoted to His interests? Do you long for His glory? Have you put sin alongside of our dear Saviours’ Passion, and measured the one by the other? Surely, if you had, purgatory would but seem to you the last, unexpected, and inexpressibly tender invention of an obstinate love, which was mercifully determined to save you in spite of yourself. It would be a perpetual wonder to you, a joyous wonder, fresh every morning, a wonder that would be meat and drink to your soul, that you, being what you know yourself to be, what God knows you to be, should be saved eternally. Remember what the suffering soul said so simply, yet with such force, to Sister Francesca: ‘ Ah! those on that side of the grave little reckon how dearly they will pay on this side for the lives they live! To be angry because you are told you will go to purgatory! Silly, silly people Most likely it is a great false flattery, and that you will never be good enough to go there at all. Why, positively, you do not recognise your own good fortune, when you are told of it. And none but the humble go there. I remember Maria Crocifissa was told that although many of the Saints while on earth loved God more than some do even in heaven, yet that the greatest Saint on earth was not so humble as are the souls in purgatory. I do not think I ever read anything in the lives of the Saints which struck me so much as that. You see it is not well to be angry; for those only are lucky enough to get into purgatory who sincerely believe themselves to be worthy of hell.

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Masses and indulgences can be tremendously helpful to the souls suffering in Purgatory. (Source)

But we not only learn lessons for our own good, but for the good of the Holy Souls. We see that our charitable attention towards them must be far more vigorous and persevering than they have been; for men go to purgatory for very little matters, and remain there an unexpectedly long time. But their most touching appeal to us lies in their helplessness; and our dear Lord, with His usual loving arrangement, has made the extent of our power to help them more than commensurate with their ability to help themselves. Some theologians have said that prayer for the Holy Souls is not infallibly answered. I confess their arguments on this head do not convince me; but, conceding the point, how wonderful still is the power which we can exercise in favour of the departed! St. Thomas has at least taught us that prayer for the dead is more readily accepted with God than prayer for the living. We can offer and apply for them all the satisfactions of Our Blessed Lord. We can do vicarious penance for them. We can give to them all the satisfactions of our ordinary actions, and of our sufferings. We can make over to them, by way of suffrage, the indulgences we gain, provided the Church has made them applicable to the dead. We can limit and direct to them, or any one of them, the intention of the Adorable Sacrifice. The Church, which has no jurisdiction over them, can yet make indulgences applicable or inapplicable to them by way of suffrage; and by means of liturgy, commemoration, incense, holy water, and the like, can reach efficaciously to them, and most of all by her device of privileged altars. The Communion of Saints furnishes the veins and channels by which all these things reach them in Christ. Heaven itself condescends to act upon them through earth. Their Queen helps them by setting us to work for them, and the Angels and the Saints bestow their gifts through us, whom they persuade to be their almoners; nay, we are often their almoners without knowing that we are so. Our Blessed Lord vouchsafes to look to us, as if He would say: Here are my weapons, work for me! just as a father will let his child do a portion of his work, in spite of the risk he runs in having it spoiled. To possess such powers, and not to use them, would be the height of irreverence towards God, as well as of want of charity to men. There is nothing so irreverent, because nothing so unfilial, as to shrink from God’s gifts simply because of their exhuberance. Men have a feeling of safety in not meddling with the supernatural; but the truth is, we cannot stand aloof on one side and be safe. Naturalism is the unsafe thing. If we do not enter the system, and humbly take our place in it, it will draw us in, only to tear us to pieces when it has done so. The dread of the supernatural is the unsafest of feelings. The jealousy of it is a prophecy of eternal loss.

It is not saying too much to call devotion to the Holy Souls a kind of centre in which all Catholic devotions meet, and which satisfies more than any other single devotion our duties in that way; because it is a devotion all of love, and of disinterested love. If we cast an eye over the chief Catholic devotion, we shall see the truth of this. Take the devotion of St. Ignatius to the glory of God. This, if we may dare to use such an expression of Him, was the special and favourite devotion of Jesus. Now, purgatory is simply a field white for the harvest of God’s glory. Not a prayer can be said for the Holy Souls, but God is at once glorified, both by the faith and the charity of the mere prayer.

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The Virgin of Carmel Saving Souls in Purgatory, Circle of Diego Quispe Tito, c. 17th century. Brooklyn Museum. (Source)

November 12, 2017   No Comments

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

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

The Introit of the Mass consoles and incites us to confidence in God who is so benevolent towards us, and will not let us pine away in tribulation. The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon me, and I will hear you: and I will bring back your captivity from all places. (Fer. XXIX. 11. 12. 14.) Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. (Ps. LXXXIV.) Glory etc.

COLLECT Absolve, we beseech Thee, 0 Lord, Thy people from their offences: that through Thy bountiful goodness we may be freed from the bonds of those sins which through our frailty we have contracted. Thro’,

EPISTLE (Philipp. III 17-21.: IV, 1-3.) Brethren, Be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the gospel with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.

EXPLANATION There are unhappily many Christians, who, as St. Paul complains, are, declared enemies of Christ’s cross, who do not wish to mortify their senses, who only think of gratifying their lusts, and, as it were, find their only pleasure, even seek their honor, in despising the followers of Jesus and His saints on the narrow path of the cross, of mortification and humiliation. What will be the end of these people? Eternal perdition! For he who does not crucify the flesh, does not belong to Christ. (Gal. V. 24.) He who does not bear the-marks of the mortification of Jesus in his body, in him the life of Christ shall not be manifested. (II Cor. IV. 10.) He who does not walk in heaven during his, life-time, that is, who does not direct his thoughts and desires heavenward, and despise the world and its vanities, will not find admission there after his death.

ASPIRATION Would to God , I could say with St. Paul: The world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. VI. 14.)

GOSPEL (Matt. IX. 18-26.) At that time, As Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold, a certain ruler came up, and adored him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead: but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus, rising up, followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman, who was troubled with an ‘issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter: thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the. minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, he said: Give place: for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.

INSTRUCTIONS I. Filial was the faith, unbounded the confidence, profound the humility of this woman, and therefore, she received health also. Learn from this, how pleasing to the Lord is faith, confidence and humility; let your prayer always be penetrated by these three virtues, and you will receive whatever you ask.

II. The devout Louis de Ponte compares the conduct of this woman to our conduct at holy Communion, and says: Christ wished to remain with us in the most holy Eucharist, clothed with the garment of the sacramental species of bread, that he who receives His sacred flesh and blood, may be freed from evil concupiscence. If you wish to obtain the health of your soul, as did this woman the health of the body, imitate her. Receive the flesh and blood of Jesus with the most profound humility, with the firmest confidence in His power and goodness, and like this woman you too will be made whole.

III. Jesus called three dead persons to life, the twelve year old daughter of Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, of whom there is mention made in this gospel, the young man at Naim, (Luke VII. 14.) and Lazarus. (John. XI- 43.) By these three dead persons three classes of sinners may be understood: the maiden signifies those who sin in their youth through weakness and frailty, but touched by the grace of God, perceive their fall and easily rise again through penance; by the young man at Naim those are to be understood who sin repeatedly and in public, these require greater grace, more labor and severer penance; by Lazarus, the public and obdurate habitual sinners are to be understood who can be raised to spiritual life only by extraordinary graces and severe public penance.

IV. Christ did not raise the maiden, until the minstrels and noisy multitude were removed, by which He wished to teach us that the conversion of a soul cannot be accomplished in the midst of the noise and turmoil of temporal cares, idle pleasures and associations.

INSTRUCTION CONCERNING RIDICULE AND DERISION

And they laughed him to scorn. (Matt IX. 24.)

When Jesus told the minstrels and the crowd that the girl was not dead, but sleeping, they laughed at Him, because they understood not the meaning of His words. Sensual-minded men generally act in the same manner towards the priests and ministers of God, who by their word and example admonish them to despise honors, riches and pleasures, and to embrace the love of poverty, humility and mortification. This is, an unintelligible and hateful language to them which they ridicule and mock just as they do when they hear that death is a sleep, from which we shall one day awake and be obliged to appear before the judgment-seat of God. Woe to such scoffers by whose ridicule so many souls are led from the path “of virtue! What the devil formerly, accomplished by tyrants in estranging men from God and a lively faith in Him and His Church, he seems to wish to accomplish in our days by the mockery, scoffs, and blasphemies of wicked men; for at no period have piety and virtue, holy simplicity and childlike faith, adherence to the holy Roman Church and her laws, reverence for her head, her ministers and priests, been more mocked, derided and blasphemed. Unhappily many permit themselves to be induced by mockery to abandon piety, to omit the public practice of their faith, to conceal their Catholic conviction, and to lead a lukewarm, careless, indeed, sinful life. Woe to the scoffers! they are an abomination to the Lord (Prov. III. 32.) who will one day require from their hands all the souls perverted by them. Do not permit yourself to be led astray by those who ridicule your faith and zeal for virtue; remember the words of Jesus: He that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. X. 33.) Let Jesus be your consolation, He was scoffed and blasphemed for your sake, and often say within yourself:

I know, my most amiable Jesus, that the servant cannot be more than his master. Since Thou wert so often sneered at, mocked and blasphemed, why should I wonder if I am derided for my faith in Thee and Thy Church, and for the practice of virtue!

November 11, 2017   No Comments

Western Civilization Exists for the Mass

Posted by Brian Williams, on Liturgy Guy Site

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Many are stunned today at the speed in which western civilization is collapsing. Coinciding with this is the post-conciliar crisis within the Church, the fourth great crisis of Christendom as it has been described by that great defender of orthodoxy, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan. What may not be as clear too many is the connection between the destruction of the Mass and of the collapse of the Christian west.

One man who understood this connection was Dr. John Senior, professor of English, Literature, and Classics and co-founder of the very successful Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas. Dr. Senior taught for decades at the university level. He was also a convert to the Catholic faith, devoted to the traditional Mass and an attendee of Immaculata Chapel (SSPX) in St. Mary’s, Kansas.

Senior has been credited with inspiring a generation of young men and women who, having studied under him at Kansas, converted to Catholicism. As Michael Matt of the Remnant has noted, “under his tutelage, (his students) had learned to love the old Faith as he did and thus desired to serve the Church as loyally as had their revered teacher.”

Early in his book The Restoration of Christian Culture, John Senior speaks to the inseparable nature of civilization and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

Whatever we do in the political or social order, the indispensable foundation is prayer, the heart of which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect prayer of Christ Himself, Priest and Victim, recreating in an unbloody manner the bloody, selfsame Sacrifice of Calvary. What is Christian culture? It is essentially the Mass. That is not my or anyone’s opinion or theory or wish but the central fact of 2,000 years of history. Christendom, what secularists call Western Civilization, is the Mass and the paraphernalia which protect and facilitate it. All architecture, art, political and social forms, economics, the way people live and feel and think, music, literature ―all these things when they are right are ways of fostering and protecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Understanding this, is it any wonder why a growing number of Catholics today (sometimes derisively dismissed as ‘radical traditionalists’) speak of the need for liturgical restoration? Is it any surprise that we are seeing a cultural collapse in the west considering the anthropocentric and profane Masses offered for much of the last fifty years?

Reading the above quote by Senior recently I was immediately reminded of another occasion when esteemed laity highlighted the inseparable connection between the Mass and civilization.

On the eve of the implementation of Pope Paul’s new Mass in the U.K. back in 1971, a group of learned English signatories wrote the Holy Father a letter, an appeal. Many of the distinguished signers were not even Catholic. They included such artists and thinkers as Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, Robert Graves, Ralph Richardson, Kenneth Clark, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Yehudi Menuhin to name just a few. In total nearly sixty people signed.

Their letter today, and the subsequent response of Rome, are referred to as the Agatha Christie indult, named after its most prominent signer. Put simply, the letter argued for the preservation of the Roman Rite as the jewel of western civilization. They began:

If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated -whatever their personal beliefs- who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility.

Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year.

Next, the signatories argued (as John Senior did) that the traditional Mass is foundational to, and inseparable from, western civilization:

We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts -not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.

The implication is clear. If the “rite in question” has inspired the culture and lifted the human spirit in such a manner “in all countries and epochs”, then what happens when it is distorted and diminished. If western civilization exists for the Mass, then what happens when the Mass is changed? Consistently profaned? Modernized?

The letter concludes with both an appeal, and a filial warning, to the Holy Father:

The signatories of this appeal, which is entirely ecumenical and nonpolitical, have been drawn from every branch of modern culture in Europe and elsewhere. They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive…

Cardinal Heenan delivered the letter to Pope Paul VI, resulting in the granting of the Latin Mass indult for England and Wales in November 1971.

What is sad today, nearly fifty years after the “reform” of the Roman Rite, is that many within the Church still do not see what John Senior and the signatories of the Agatha Christie letter so clearly recognized. History has proven them to be truly prophetic. We can view these last fifty years as our Babylonian exile. Our captivity, merited through pride and disobedience.

Surveying the ecclesial and cultural landscape near the end of his life, Senior held nothing back in his assessment:

The crisis is over; we have lost. This is no longer just a prediction, it is a simple observation: Rome has been desecrated. We are in the age of darkness. Triumphalist reactions are in vain. The modern world and the Church deserve the punishment that God is raining down on us.

Despite this current punishment we cannot despair. In the end, we know Who is victorious. We do not, however, participate in this victory if we fail to reassert the fundamental connection between the Mass and western civilization.

The Mass must first be the foundation of the family before it can be the foundation of the culture. All of life must flow from Our Eucharistic Lord, present in our churches, on the altars, in the hands of our priests. The Social Kingship of Christ must once again be proclaimed as well.

We must also reject the nonsensical notion of the Mass as an ecumenical experiment. As a laboratory for innovation. As an expression of the secular instead of an encounter with the eternal. This must all be rejected. It is offensive and it is not Catholic.

Western civilization, or more accurately Christendom, exists for the Mass. We have seen the fruits of secularism, of rejecting this fundamental truth. We have seen both the culture and the Church teeter (and in some places fall) due to the loss of understanding of this foundational truth. Even where the culture fails to grasp this notion, it is still true never the less.

In the end this is why so many fight for the liturgy, despite the scorn of some and the indifference of many. This truth compels us. Father John Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z) likes to say, “Save the Liturgy, save the World.” Indeed.

Photo credit: Gonzague Bridault

 

November 8, 2017   No Comments

Event: SSPX reconciliation of the stunning St. Willibrord Church in the Netherlands

On Sunday, November 12th, His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, will perform the reconciliation of the St. Willibrord church in Utrecht, the Netherlands. A Pontifical Mass will be celebrated afterwards. A reconciliation is the ritual restoration of the dedication of an unholy church. The public is invited and a reception will follow.
Program:
10:30 a.m. Reconciliation and Pontifical Mass
1:30 p.m. Reception
6.00 p.m. Adoration with Rosary
Address of the church: Minrebroederstraat 21, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Reception Address: Restaurant Zindering (City Theater), Lucasbolwerk 24
Utrecht, the Netherlands (max 10 minutes on foot from the church)

According to the SSPX: “Why a reconciliation ceremony? Because the previous association, in order to cover the operating costs, organized cultural events in the church; some were acceptable, concerts, for example, but others were entirely inappropriate given the dignity of the edifice. The sanctuary must also be blessed, because the church was desacralized when it was put up for sale and then bought by the Society.”

November 7, 2017   No Comments

Dom Mark Kirby on “Ten Fruits of Summorum Pontificum” Peter Kwasniewski

From The New Liturgical Movement

As part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of Summorum Pontificum (which ought to continue throughout the year!), I am happy to share with NLM readers a wonderful reflection on the motu proprio by Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B., Prior of Silverstream Priory. Dom Mark posted this at Vultus Christi but gave NLM permission to publish it as well.

Ten Fruits of Summorum Pontificum

Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B.
I consider Summorum Pontificum to be the single greatest gift of Pope Benedict XVI to the Church. It is a gift that some received with immense joy and immediately began to put it to profit. Others, entrenched in old ideological prejudices, looked upon the gift with suspicion and mistrust. Still others, even ten years later, remain unaware of the gift. For me, Summorum Pontificum threw open a door into the vastness and light of a liturgical tradition deeper, and higher, and wider than anything the reformed liturgical books, in use for nearly half a century, were able to offer. I say this as one who, for more than three decades, was committed to the reformed rites and wholeheartedly engaged in the reform of the reform at the academic and pastoral levels. Already, well before July 7th, 2007, I had come to see that even the noblest efforts deployed in the cause of the reform of the reform bore only scant fruit. Just when, battle–worn and weary, I thought that I would have to spend the rest of my life in a kind of post–conciliar liturgical lock–down, a door opened before me. The door was Summorum Pontificum. I crossed the threshold and went forward, never looking back. I discovered for myself the truth of Pope Benedict’s compelling words to the bishops of the Church:

What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. (Letter to the Bishops, 7 July 2007)

As I pass in review the ten past years, I can identify at least ten fruits of Summorum Pontificum. Others, in their assessment of the past ten years, may point to different fruits. From the perspective of my own garden, however — admittedly a hortus conclusus, given its monastic context — I see the following fruits:

1. A clearer manifestation of the sacred liturgy as the work of Christ the Eternal High Priest and Mediator. I have long argued that the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, has to be read in continuity with and, in some way, through the lens of the Venerable Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mediator Dei (20 November 1947). The recovery of the Usus Antiquior has effectively recentred the liturgical experience of many clergy and layfolk on the priestly mediation of Jesus Christ between God and men.

2. The opening, for many souls, of a secure bridge between celebration and contemplation. I am not alone in recognising the penetrating quality of what Saint John Paul II called “adoring silence” before, during, and after celebrations in the Usus Antiquior, especially when the richness of its ritual resources — chant, hieratic order, and sacred gesture — are fully deployed.

We must confess that we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored: in theology, so as to exploit fully its own sapiential and spiritual soul; in prayer, so that we may never forget that seeing God means coming down the mountain with a face so radiant that we are obliged to cover it with a veil (cf. Ex 34:33), and that our gatherings may make room for God’s presence and avoid self–celebration; in preaching, so as not to delude ourselves that it is enough to heap word upon word to attract people to the experience of God. (Orientale Lumen, art. 16)

3. A serene and lucid transmission of the doctrine of the faith. The sturdy givenness of the traditional rites (lex orandi) is at once the platform and the articulation of the Church’s life–giving and unchanging doctrine (lex credendi). The Usus Antiquior, not having the panoply of options that characterises the reformed rites, allows the liturgy to be celebrated without having to be subjectively reconstructed, over and over again, by the assemblage of interlocking parts.

4. A renewed appreciation for the link between worship and culture. The past fifty years have often been marked by an alienation from the Church’s cultural heritage, notably in the areas of music and architecture. The Usus Antiquior is increasingly, and especially in communities informed by the classical liturgical movement, a place where, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said in 1985, “beauty — and hence truth — is at home” (The Ratzinger Report, p. 129).

5. The affirmation of the primacy of latria in the life of the Church, following the principle of Saint Benedict that “nothing is to be preferred to the work of God” (Rule, Ch. XLIII). It is immediately evident that the Usus Antiquior, like all the ancient rites of the Church in East and West, is theotropically driven. This stands in marked contrast both to the prevalent ars celebrandi of the Usus Recentior and to most Protestant forms of worship. These, by placing the accent on didactic and moralising content, are anthropotropically driven, and this at a moment in history when men and women of the millennial generation restlessly seek to “get out of themselves.” For such souls, weary of a world that seeks to cater to their ever–changing needs and appetites, and this not without exacting an inflated price, the unchanging rites of the Usus Antiquior are a tranquil and restful harbour illumined already by the gleaming shores of eternity. Pope Benedict XVI addresses the question incisively:

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, I became aware again of the priority of God and the divine liturgy. The misunderstanding of the liturgical reform that has spread widely in the Catholic Church has led to more and more emphasis on the aspect of education and its activity and creativity. The doings of men almost completely obscured the presence of God. In such a situation it became increasingly clear that the Church’s existence lives in the proper celebration of the liturgy and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy and so in life. The deepest cause of the crisis that has upset the Church lies in the obscurity of God’s priority in the liturgy. (Pope Benedict XVI, Preface of the Russian edition of his Theology of the Liturgy, 2015)

6. Encouragement given to the recovery and renewal of Benedictine monastic life in the heart of the Church. My own monastery, Silverstream Priory, was founded in the grace of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, only one year after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. When, early in 2017, Silverstream Priory was canonically erected, its distinctive reference to Summorum Pontificum was recognised and ratified. In the opening paragraphs of the Apostolic Letter itself, Pope Benedict pointed to the distinctively Benedictine import of what he was setting forth:

Eminent among the Popes who showed such proper concern was Saint Gregory the Great, who sought to hand on to the new peoples of Europe both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture amassed by the Romans in preceding centuries. He ordered that the form of the sacred liturgy, both of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office, as celebrated in Rome, should be defined and preserved. He greatly encouraged those monks and nuns who, following the Rule of Saint Benedict, everywhere proclaimed the Gospel and illustrated by their lives the salutary provision of the Rule that “nothing is to be preferred to the work of God.” In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman usage, enriched the faith and piety, as well as the culture, of numerous peoples. It is well known that in every century of the Christian era the Church’s Latin liturgy in its various forms has inspired countless saints in their spiritual life, confirmed many peoples in the virtue of religion and enriched their devotion. (Summorum Pontificum)

The past ten years have seen a flowering of Benedictine monasteries dedicated exclusively to the celebration of the sacred liturgy in the traditional form. Impressive numbers of God–seeking young men continue to make their way to these monasteries.

7. Joy and beauty brought to Catholic family life. My direct personal experience of this particular fruit of Summorum Pontificum is limited to those young families who frequent Silverstream Priory or who are associated with our community, either because one or both parents are Benedictine Oblates, or by participation in Catholic Scouting, or because the discovery of the Usus Antiquior has infused the piety of the parents and the education of their children with the spirit of the liturgy. It is not unusual to see even the youngest children of these families utterly engaged in the action of Holy Mass and happily familiar with the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year.

8. A renewal of true priestly piety. Silverstream Priory has a heart for priests labouring in the vineyard of the Lord and, consequently, offers hospitality to a steady stream of clergy. The majority of these would be priests under forty–five years of age. Those who do not already offer Holy Mass whenever possible in the Usus Antiquior are eager to be instructed in the traditional rite. The witness of these priests is impressive; access to the Usus Antiquior has awakened them to the mystery of Holy Mass as a true sacrifice and awakened them to their own participation in the mediatorship of Christ, “high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). A renewed attention to the complexus of sacred signs that constitutes the liturgy and, in particular, to the rubrics of the Roman Missal has, in more than one instance, transformed a priest’s understanding of who he is standing at the altar. To me, it is evident that Summorum Pontificum has fostered the implementation of what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council sought to promote:

Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 18)

9. The birth of new expressions of consecrated life that find their source and summit in the traditional liturgy, Holy Mass and Divine Office. It is beyond the scope of these reflections to compile a catalogue of the Institutes and fledgling communities that attribute their existence in the Church, directly or indirectly, to the horizons opened by Summorum Pontificum. Some of these identify with the tradition of canons regular; others engage in missionary works of evangelisation and mercy after the manner of Societies of Apostolic Life. All of these have in common a life–giving reference to the traditional liturgy made available by the dispositions of Summorum Pontificum.

10. An infusion of hope and, for young people, an experience of a beauty that renders holiness of life enchanting and attractive. Pope Benedict XVI recognised, in his letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum that not a few young people find in the traditional liturgy a holy enchantment that draws them deeply into the priestly action of Christ and the life of the Church. Pope Benedict wrote:

Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them.

The experience of the Usus Antiquior as an habitual form of worship and expression of sacramental life has surprised young Catholics with an encounter not unlike the one that long ago changed the life of Saint Augustine: the discovery of a “Beauty ever ancient, ever new.” I myself am surprised, even now, to hear again on the lips of the rising generation the very words that, with a holy fear and a secret joy, I memorised over sixty years ago: Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam, “I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth” (Ps 42:4).

November 6, 2017   No Comments

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost

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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 the, 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.

November 4, 2017   No Comments

First Friday and First Saturday Traditional Latin Masses for November: N.B. Both Masses Will Be Requiem Masses

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The Traditional Latin Mass will be offered on

Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th at:

Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(215) 884-4022

  Mass will be offered in the lower church, in beautiful St. Mary’s Chapel.  Confessions will also be on the lower level, in Conahan Hall.
First Friday, November 3rd:
Priest: Rev. Gerald P. Carey (Pastor, Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church)
Location:  Church of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary’s Chapel
Time: 7:00 p.m., preceded by Confessions at 6:30 p.m.

This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Requiem Mass, offered in Reparation to The Sacred Heart of Jesus.  (Black Vestments)

First Saturday, November 4th:
Priest: Rev. Harold B. Mc Kale (Parish Vicar, Our Lady of Mount CarmelRoman Catholic Church)
Location:   Church of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary’s Chapel

Time: 9:30 a.m., preceded by Confessions at 9:00 a.m.

This Traditional Latin Mass will be the Requiem Mass, offered in Reparation to The Immaculate Heart of Mary.  (Black Vestments)
 
For further information, contact Mark Matthews at (215) 947-6555.

 

November 2, 2017   No Comments

All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days Traditional Latin Masses

ALL SAINTS’ DAY, Wednesday, November 1, 2017:

  1. Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, Solemn High Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  2.  St. Jude’s Roman Catholic Church (SSPX), Eddystone, Pa., High Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  3. Carmelite Monastery (FSSP), 1400 66th Avenue, (6600 N. Old York Road), at 7:00 a.m

ALL SOULS’ DAY, Thursday, November 2, 2017:

  1. Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia, Solemn High Requiem Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  2. St. Jude’s Roman Catholic Church (SSPX), Eddystone, Pa., High Requiem Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  3. Carmelite Monastery, (FSSP),  1400 66th Avenue, (6600 N. Old York Road), at 7:00 a.m.
  4. Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, 63rd and Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., Solemn High Requiem Mass at 7:00 p.m.

October 31, 2017   No Comments

Feast of Christ the King

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Mass Propers for the Feast of Christ the King

Excerpted from the Roman Catholic Daily Missal.

INTROIT The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor; to Him be glory and empire for ever and ever. (Psalm) Give to the King, O God, Thy justice, and to the King’s Son Thy judgment. Glory be to the Father. The Lamb…

COLLECT Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things, mercifully grant that all the families of nations now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

EPISTLE Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, Who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His Blood, the remission of sins; Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible: whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him and in Him; and He is before all, and by Him all things consist, and He is the head of the body of the Church, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may hold the primacy because in Him it hath well-pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the Blood of His cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. And all kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him.

ALLELUIA Alleluia, alleluia. His power shall be an everlasting power, which shall not be taken away; and His kingdom a kingdom that shall not decay. Alleluia.

GOSPEL At that time: Pilate said to Jesus: Art Thou King of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of Me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee up to me: what hast Thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth My voice. Creed

OFFERTORY Ask of Me and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession.

SECRET O Lord, we offer Thee the Victim of man’s redemption: grant, we beseech Thee, that Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Whom we are immolating in this sacrifice, may Himself bestow on all nations the gifts of unity and peace: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

COMMUNION The Lord shall sit as King for ever: the Lord shall bless His people in peace.

POSTCOMMUNION We have received the food of immortality and beg, Lord, that we who are proud to fight under the banner of Christ our King, may reign with Him for ever in His realm above: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Commentary: Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, by Fr. Pius Parsch

The liturgy is an album in which every epoch of Church history immortalizes itself. Therein, accordingly, can be found the various pictures of Christ beloved during succeeding centuries. In its pages we see pictures of Jesus suffering and in agony; we see pictures of His Sacred Heart; yet these pictures are not proper to the nature of the liturgy as such; they resemble baroque altars in a gothic church. Classic liturgy knows but one Christ: the King, radiant, majestic, and divine.

With an ever-growing desire, all Advent awaits the “coming King”; in the chants of the breviary we find repeated again and again the two expressions “King” and “is coming.” On Christmas the Church would greet, not the Child of Bethlehem, but the Rex Pacificus — “the King of peace gloriously reigning.” Within a fortnight, there follows a feast which belongs to the greatest of the feasts of the Church year — the Epiphany. As in ancient times oriental monarchs visited their principalities (theophany), so the divine King appears in His city, the Church; from its sacred precincts He casts His glance over all the world….On the final feast of the Christmas cycle, the Presentation in the Temple, holy Church meets her royal Bridegroom with virginal love: “Adorn your bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ your King!” The burden of the Christmas cycle may be summed up in these words: Christ the King establishes His Kingdom of light upon earth!

If we now consider the Easter cycle, the luster of Christ’s royal dignity is indeed somewhat veiled by His sufferings; nevertheless, it is not the suffering Jesus who is present to the eyes of the Church as much as Christ the royal Hero and Warrior who upon the battlefield of Golgotha struggles with the mighty and dies in triumph. Even during Lent and Passiontide the Church acclaims her King. The act of homage on Palm Sunday is intensely stirring; singing psalms in festal procession we accompany our Savior singing: Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex Christe, “Glory, praise and honor be to Thee, Christ, O King!” It is true that on Good Friday the Church meditates upon the Man of Sorrows in agony upon the Cross, but at the same time, and perhaps more so, she beholds Him as King upon a royal throne. The hymn Vexilla Regis, “The royal banners forward go,” is the more perfect expression of the spirit from which the Good Friday liturgy has arisen. Also characteristic is the verse from Psalm 95, Dicite in gentibus quia Dominus regnavit, to which the early Christians always added, a ligno, “Proclaim among the Gentiles: the Lord reigns from upon the tree of the Cross!” During Paschal time the Church is so occupied with her glorified Savior and Conqueror that kingship references become rarer; nevertheless, toward the end of the season we celebrate our King’s triumph after completing the work of redemption, His royal enthronement on Ascension Thursday.

Neither in the time after Pentecost is the picture of Christ as King wholly absent from the liturgy. Corpus Christi is a royal festival: “Christ the King who rules the nations, come, let us adore” (Invit.). In the Greek Church the feast of the Transfiguration is the principal solemnity in honor of Christ’s kingship, Summum Regem gloriae Christum adoremus (Invit.). Finally at the sunset of the ecclesiastical year, the Church awaits with burning desire the return of the King of Majesty.

We will overlook further considerations in favor of a glance at the daily Offices. How often do we not begin Matins with an act of royal homage: “The King of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins — come, let us adore” (Invit.). Lauds is often introduced with Dominus regnavit, “The Lord is King”. Christ as King is also a first consideration at the threshold of each day; for morning after morning we renew our oath of fidelity at Prime: “To the King of ages be honor and glory.” Every oration is concluded through our Mediator Christ Jesus “who lives and reigns forever.” Yes, age-old liturgy beholds Christ reigning as King in His basilica (etym.: “the king’s house”), upon the altar as His throne.

October 28, 2017   No Comments

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

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

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 20, 2017   No Comments