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SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is Christ set for the fall of many?

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

For whom is Christ the resurrection?

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

Why is Christ a sign that shall be contradicted?

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

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

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

What else do we learn from this gospel?

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON BLESSING

And Simeon blessed them “(Lk. 2: 34).

What is meant by a blessing?

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

Have we examples of blessing in the Bible?

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

Is it well for parents to bless their children?

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

What power has the priest’s blessing?

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

What is the effect of God’s blessing?

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

December 26, 2020   No Comments

Masses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

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Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s

The Church’s Year, 

CHRISTMAS EVE

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

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

 

CHRISTMAS DAY

What is Christmas Day?

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

Why is this festival called “the Holy Night”?

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

Why do priests say three Masses on this day?

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

Why is the first Mass said at midnight?

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

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

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

When does this spiritual birth take place?

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE FIRST MASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we live soberly, justly, and godly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why was Christ born in such poverty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND MASS

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

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

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

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

To whom do we owe our salvation?

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD MASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does St. John mean by the Word?

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

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

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

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

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

What is meant by: In Him was the life?

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

Why is this life the light of men?

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

How did the light shine in darkness?

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

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

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

Who receive Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2020   No Comments

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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By Fr. Leonard Goffine

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this epistle read on this day?

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

How should the faithful regard the priests and spiritual superiors?

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

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

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

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

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

Why does not St. Paul wish to judge himself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

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

What is penance, and how many kinds are there?

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

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

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

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

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

Is this penance performed at once?

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

Why do so many die impenitent?

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

Can all sinners do penance?

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

Do all who go to confession perform true penance?

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

I. ON THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

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

Why should we examine our conscience?

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

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

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

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

II. ON CONTRITION

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

What is contrition, and how many kinds are there?

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

Is natural sorrow sufficient for a good confession?

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

What other qualities are necessary for a true contrition?

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

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

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

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

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

How can the sinner attain true sorrow?

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

Should we make an act of contrition before confession only?

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

III. ON THE PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT

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

What is necessary for a firm purpose?

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

Who, then, have no true purpose of amendment?

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

IV. ON CONFESSION

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

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

Is confession a human law, or a human invention?

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

What will aid us to make confession easy?

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

What should be done to participate in these benefits?

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

How should the false shame which prevents confession be overcome?

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

V. ON SATISFACTION AFTER CONFESSION

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

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

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

December 20, 2020   No Comments

Gaudete Sunday: Third Sunday of Advent

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

On this Sunday again, the Church calls on us to rejoice in the Advent of the Redeemer, and at the Introit sings:

INTROIT Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing by prayer let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4). Lord, thou hast blessed thy land; thou bast turned away the captivity of Jacob (Ps. 84). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Incline Thine ear, O Lord, we beseech Thee, unto our prayers: and enlighten the darkness of our mind by the grace of thy visitation. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Phil. 4:4-7). Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What is meant by “rejoicing in the Lord”?

By “rejoicing in the Lord” is meant rejoicing in the grace of the true faith we have received, in the hope of obtaining eternal happiness; rejoicing in the protection of the most High under which we stand; and in the persecution for justice’s sake in which Christ Himself exhorts us to rejoice, and in which the Apostle Paul gloried (II Cor. 7:4).

What else does St. Paul teach in this epistle?

He exhorts us to give all a good example by a modest and edifying life, to which we should be directed by the remembrance of God’s presence and His coming to judgment (Chrysostom. 33, in Joann.); he warns us against solicitude about temporal affairs, advising us to cast our care on God, who will never abandon us in our needs, if we entreat Him with confidence and humility.

In what does “the Peace of God” consist?

It consists in a good conscience (Ambrose), in which St. Paul gloried and rejoiced beyond measure (II Cor. 1:12). This peace of the soul sustained all the martyrs, and consoled many others who suffered for justice’s sake. Thus St. Tibertius said to the tyrant: “We count all pain as naught, for our conscience is at peace.” There cannot be imagined a greater joy than that which proceeds from the peace of a good conscience. It must be experienced to be understood.

ASPIRATION The peace of God, that surpasseth all understanding, preserve our hearts in Christ Jesus. Amen.

COMFORT AND RELIEF IN SORROW

“Is any one troubled, let him pray” (Jas. 5:13).

There is no greater or more powerful comfort in sorrow than in humble and confiding prayer, to complain to God of our wants and cares, as did the sorrowful Anna, mother of the prophet Samuel, (I Kings 10) and the chaste Susanna when she was falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death (Dan. 13:35). So the pious King Ezechias complained in prayer of the severe oppression with which he was threatened by Senacherib (IV Kings 19:14). So also King Josaphat made his trouble known to God only, saying: But as we know not what to do, we can only turn our eyes on Thee (11 Para. 20:12). They all received aid and comfort from God. Are you sad and in trouble? Lift up your soul with David and say: To Thee I have lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters, as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress: so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until He shall have mercy on us (Ps. 122:1-3). Give joy to the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul (Ps. 85:4).

GOSPEL (Jn. 1:19-28). At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? what sayst thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not: the same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Why did the Jews send messengers to St. John to ask him who he was?

Partly because of their curiosity, when they saw St. John leading such a pure, angelic and penitential life; partly, as St. Chrysostom says, out of envy, because St. John preached with such spiritual force, baptized and exhorted the people to penance, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem came to him in great numbers; partly, and principally, they were impelled by the providence of God to demand publicly of St. John, if he were the Messiah, and thus be directed to Christ that they might be compelled to acknowledge Him as the Messiah, or have no excuse for rejecting Him.

Why did the Jews ask St. John, if he were not Elias or the prophet?

The Jews falsely believed that the Redeemer was to come into this world but once, then with great glory, and that Elias or one of the old prophets would come before Him, to prepare His way, as Malachias (4:5) had prophesied of St. John; so when St. John said of himself that he was not the Messiah, they asked him, if he were not then Elias or one of the prophets. But Elias, who was taken alive from this world in a fiery chariot, will not reappear until just before the second coming of Christ.

Why did St. John say, he was not Elias or the Prophet?

Because he was not Elias, and, in reality, not a prophet in the Jewish sense of the word, but more than a prophet, because he announced that Christ had come, and pointed Him out.

Why does St. John call himself “the voice of one crying in the wilderness”?

Because in his humility, he desired to acknowledge that he was only an instrument through which the Redeemer announced to the abandoned and hopeless Jews the consolation of the Messiah, exhorting them to bear worthy fruits of penance.

How do we bear worthy fruits of penance?

We bear fruits of penance, when after our conversion, we serve God and justice with the same zeal with which we previously served the devil and iniquity; when we love God as fervently as we once loved the flesh-that is, the desires of the flesh-and the pleasures of the world; when we give our members to justice as we once gave them to malice and impurity (Rom. 6:19), when the mouth that formerly uttered improprieties, when the ears that listened to detraction or evil speech, when the eyes that looked curiously upon improper objects, now rejoice in the utterance of words pleasing to God, to hear and to see things dear to Him; when the appetite that was given to the luxury of eating and drinking, now abstains; when the hands give back what they have stolen; in a word, when we put off the old man, who was corrupted, and put on the new man, who is created in justice and holiness of truth (Eph. 4:22-24).

What was the baptism administered by St. John, and what were its effects?

The baptism administered by John was only a baptism of penance for forgiveness of sins (Lk. 3:3). The ignorant Jews not considering the greatness of their transgressions, St. John came exhorting them to acknowledge their sins, and do penance for them; that being converted, and truly contrite, they might seek their Redeemer, and thus obtain remission of their offences. We must then conclude, that St. John’s baptism was only a ceremony or initiation, by which the Jews enrolled themselves as his disciples to do penance, as a preparation for the remission of sin by means of the second baptism, viz., of Jesus Christ.

What else can be learned from this gospel?

We learn from it to be always sincere, especially at the tribunal of penance, and to practice the necessary virtue of humility, by which, in reply to the questions of the Jews, St. John confessed the truth openly and without reserve, as shown by the words: The latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose, as the lowest of Christ’s servants, giving us an example of humility and sincerity, which should induce us always to speak the truth, and not only not to seek honor, but to give to God all the honor shown us by man. Have you not far more reason than John, who was such a great saint, to esteem yourself but little, and to humble yourself before God and man? “My son,” says Tobias (4:14), “never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words: for from it all perdition took its beginning.”

ASPIRATION O Lord, banish from my heart all envy, jealousy and pride. Grant me instead, to know myself and Thee, that by the knowledge of my nothingness, misery and vices, I may always remain unworthy in my own eyes, and that by the contemplation of Thy infinite perfections, I may seek to prize Thee above all, to love and to glorify Thee, and practice charity towards my neighbor. Amen.

December 12, 2020   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 5, 2020   No Comments

FIRST FRIDAY AND FIRST SATURDAY TLM’S FOR DECEMBER, 2020

December 4, 2020   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 26, 2020   No Comments

Last Sunday After Pentecost

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

The Introit of the Mass is the same as that said on the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.

COLLECT: Quicken, we beseech Thee, 0 Lord, the wills of Thy faithful: that they, more earnestly seeking after the fruit of divine grace, may more abundantly receive the healing gifts of Thy mercy. Thro’.

EPISTLE: (Col. I. 9—14.) Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might according to the; power of his glory, in all patience and long-suffering with joy, 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.

EXPLANATION: In this epistle St. Paul teaches us to pray for our neighbor, and to thank God especially for the light of the true, only saving faith. Let us endeavor to imitate St. Paul in his love and zeal for the salvation of souls, then we shall also one day partake of his glorious reward in heaven.

GOSPEL: (Matt. XXIV. 15—35.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth, let him understand: then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then, if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there: do not believe him: for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold, I have told it to you before hand: if therefore they shall say to you: Behold, he is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold, he is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming- of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty: and he shall send his an­gels with a trumpet and a great voice, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig-tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.

EXPLANATION: When you shall see the abomination of desolation. The abomination of desolation of which Daniel (IX. 27.) and Christ here speak, is the desecration of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the rebellious Jews by perpetrating the most abominable vices, injustices and robberies, &c., but principally by the pagan Romans by putting up their idols. This destruction which was accomplished in the most fearful manner about forty years after the death of Christ, was foretold by Him according to the testimony of St. Luke. (XXI. 20.) At the same time He speaks of the end of the world and of His coming to judgment, of which the desolation of Jerusalem was a figure.

Pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath. Because, as St. Jerome says, the severe cold which reigns in the deserts and mountains would pre­vent the people from going thither to seek security, and because it was forbidden by the law for the Jews to travel on the Sabbath.

There shall rise false Christs and false prophets. According to the testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus, who was an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem, Eleazar, John, Simon, &c., were such false prophets who under the pretense of helping the Jews, brought them into still greater misfortunes; before the end of the world it will be Antichrist with his followers, whom St. Paul calls the man of sin and the son of perdition, (II Thess. II. 3.) on account of his diabolical malice and cruelty. He will rise up, sit in the temple, proclaim himself God, and kill all who will not recognize him as such. His splendor, his promises and his false miracles will be such that even the holy and just will be in danger of being seduced, but for their sake God will shorten these days of persecution.

Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. That is, where the wicked are, who have aimed at spiritual corruption, there punishment will overtake and destroy them.

This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. By these words Christ defines the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and says that many of His hearers would live to see it, which also happened. But when the end of the world will come, He says, not even the angels in heaven know. (Matt. XXIV. 36.) Let us endeavor to be always ready by leading a holy life, for the coming of the divine Judge, and meditate often on the words of our di­vine Lord: Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.

(See the account of the Destruction of Jerusalem on the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.)

PRAYER: Remove from us, O Lord, all that is calculated to rob us of Thy love. Break the bonds with which we are tied to the world, that we may not be lost with it. Give us the wings of eagles that we may soar above all worldly things by the contemplation of Thy sufferings, life and death, that we may hasten towards Thee now, and gather about Thee, that we may not become a prey to the rapacious enemy on the day of judgment. Amen.

INSTRUCTION CONCERNING PERJURY
Amen, I say to you. (Matt. XXIV. 34.)

The Son of God here, and elsewhere in the gospel, con­firms His word by an oath, as it were, for swearing is nothing else than to call upon God, His divine veracity, His justice, or upon His creatures in the name of God, as witness of the truth of our words. — Is swearing, then, lawful, and when? — It is lawful when justice or necessity or an important advantage requires it, and the cause is true and equitable. (Jer. IV. 2.) Those sin grievously, there­fore, who swear to that which is false and unjust, because they call upon God as witness of falsehood and injustice, by which His eternal truthfulness and justice is desecrated; those sin who swear in a truthful cause without necessity and sufficient reason, because it is disrespectful to call upon God as witness for every trivial thing. In like manner, those sin grievously and constantly who are so accustomed to swearing as to break out into oaths, without knowing or considering whether the thing is true or false, whether they will keep their promise or not, or even if they will be able to keep it; such expose themselves to the danger of swearing falsely. “There is no one,” says St. Chrysostom, “who swears often, who does not sometimes swear falsely, just as he who speaks much, sometimes says unbecoming and false things.” Therefore Christ tells those who seek perfection, not to swear at all, (Matt. V. 34.) that they might not fall into the habit of swearing and from that into perjury. He who has the habit of swearing should, therefore, take the greatest pains to eradicate it; to accomplish which it will be very useful to reflect that if we have to render an account for every idle word we speak, (Matt. XII. 36.) how much more strictly will we be judged for unnecessary false oaths! God’s curse accompanies him who commits perjury, in all his ways, as proved by daily experience. He who commits perjury in court, robs himself of the merits of Christ’s death and will be consumed in the fire of hell, which is represented by the crucifix and burning tapers, in presence of which the oath (in some places) is taken. If you have had the misfortune to be guilty of perjury, at once be truly sorry, weep for this terrible sin which you have committed, frankly confess it, repair the injury you may have caused by it, and chastise yourself for it by rigorous penance.

November 21, 2020   No Comments

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Text of Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Padre Pio celebrating Solemn High Mass

Image result for traditional latin mass

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

SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

[For the Introit of this day’s Mass see the Introit of the third Sunday after Epiphany.]

COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that ever fixing our thoughts on such things as are reasonable, we may both in our words and works do what is pleasing in Thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

EPISTLE (I. Thess. I. 2-10.) Brethren, we give thanks to God for you all, making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing; being mindful of the work of your faith, and labor, and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father: knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election: for our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that you were made a pattern to all that believe, in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but also in every place, your faith, which is towards God, is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves relate of us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned, to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (whom he raised from the dead), Jesus, who both delivered us from the wrath to come.

EXPLANATION The apostle gives thanks to God in prayer for those inhabitants of Thessalonia, who have been converted to Christianity by his words, and declares to them his joy at their Christian life which they prove by their good works and their perseverance, even through all trials, in expectation of eternal reward through Christ. He assures them also of their salvation, (election) because God had caused the preaching of His gospel, which they so willingly received, to produce in them such extraordinary fruit. He praises them not only for having listened to the gospel and abandoned idolatry, but for having regulated their lives in accordance with the faith, and having become a model to distant nations, for the report of their faith had spread far, and everywhere their zealous reception of the gospel was spoken of. Would that the same could be said of all Christians!

GOSPEL (Matt. XIII. 31-35.) At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof. Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitude, and without parables he did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.

What is here understood by the kingdom of heaven?

The Church and the doctrine of Christ.

Why is the Church compared to a grain of mustard-seed?

Because there is a great similarity between them. The mustard-seed, though so small, grows in Palestine so high and so rapidly, that it becomes a broad tree, in which birds can build their nests. In like manner the Church of Christ was in the beginning very small like the mustard-seed, but it soon spread so wide that numberless people, even great philosophers and princes, came to find peace and protection under its branches.

Why is Christ’s doctrine compared to leaven?

Because like the leaven, which quickly penetrates the flour, and makes it palatable bread, the doctrine of Christ, spreading with surprising swiftness over the then known parts of the globe, gave the Gentiles a taste for divine things and for heavenly wisdom. Thus Christ’s doctrine penetrates him who receives it, sanctifies all his thoughts, words, and deeds, and makes him pleasing to God.

By what means, in particular, was the Church of Christ propagated?

By the omnipotence of God and the miracles which He so frequently wrought to prove the truth and divinity of the Christian religion; the courageous faith, and the pure moral life of the early Christians, which led many pagan minds to accept the doctrine of Christ; and the persecution of Christianity, for, as Tertullian says: “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.” The false doctrine of Mahomet, the erroneous teachings of Luther, Calvin, and earlier and later heretics have, it is true, also spread quickly far and wide; but this is not to be wondered at, for it is easy to lead people to a doctrine that encourages sensuality, and to which they are carried by their evil inclinations, as was the case with the doctrine of the impostor Mahomet, and three hundred years ago with the heresy of Luther; but to spread a doctrine which demands the subduing of the carnal, earthly inclinations, and to bend the will to the yoke of obedience to faith, something more than human eloquence is required. Thus, the Chancellor of England, Thomas More, who gave his blood for the true doctrine of Christ, wrote to Luther, who was boasting of the rapid increase of his sect: “It is easy to descend; seducing the people to a bad life is nothing more marvellous than that a heavy stone should fall of its own accord to the ground;” and Melanchton, a friend of Luther, in answer to his mother’s question, whether she should remain a Catholic or receive Luther’s doctrine, wrote : “In this religion it is easy to live, in the Catholic it is easy to die.”

Why did Christ always speak in parables?

That His teaching by being simple might be more easily understood, and better remembered. He who is called upon to teach others, should, as did Christ, always speak to them according to their ability to understand, and by no means seek his own honor, but the honor of God, and the benefit of those who hear him.

PRAYER O most benign Jesus. How much do we give Thee thanks that Thou hast permitted us to be born in Thy holy Church, and instructed in Thy holy doctrine, which, like the mustard-seed, has grown to be a large tree, spreading over the whole earth. Grant that under the shadow of this tree, in Thy holy Church, we may ever rest securely, cling to her faithfully, and penetrated, as by leaven, with her doctrine may bring Thee pleasing fruits of faith and virtue.  Amen.

November 14, 2020   No Comments

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Image result for photo of last judgment

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

REMARK The Mass of this Sunday is always the last, even if there are more than twenty-four Sundays after Pentecost; in that case  the Sundays remaining after Epiphany, which are noticed in the calendar,   are inserted between the twenty-third  and the Mass of the twenty-fourth Sunday.

The Introit of the Mass is the same as that said on the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.

COLLECT Quicken, we beseech Thee, 0 Lord, the wills of Thy faithful: that they, more earnestly seeking after the fruit of divine grace, may more abundantly receive the healing gifts of Thy mercy. Thro’.

EPISTLE (Col. I. 9—14.) Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: strengthened with all might according to the power of his glory, in all patience and long-suffering with joy, 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.

EXPLANATION In this epistle St. Paul teaches us to pray for our neighbor, and to thank God especially for the light of the true, only saving faith. Let us endeavor to imitate St. Paul in his love and zeal for the salvation of souls, then we shall also one day partake of his glorious reward in heaven.

Nineth Sunday After PentecostGOSPEL (Matt. XXIV. 15—35.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth, let him understand: then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the   sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then, if any  man  shall  say  to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there: do not believe him: for there shall arise false Christs  and  false  prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.   Behold, I have told it to you before hand: if therefore they shall say to you:  Behold, he is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold, he is  in the  closets, believe it not.    For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.    Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the  eagles   also  be gathered  together.   And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven,   and  the powers of the heavens shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes   of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power  and  majesty:   and he shall  send his an­gels with a trumpet and a great voice, and they shall gather together  his   elect  from   the four winds, from the farthest   parts   of   the   heavens   to   the   utmost bounds of them.   And from the fig-tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh.    So   you also, when   you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors.  Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and  earth   shall  pass, but my words shall not pass.

EXPLANATION When you shall see the abomination of desolation. The abomination of desolation of which Daniel (IX. 27.) and Christ here speak, is the desecration of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the rebellious Jews by perpetrating the most abominable vices, injustices and robberies, &c., but principally by the pagan Romans by putting up their idols. This destruction which was accomplished in the most fearful manner about forty years after the death of Christ, was foretold by Him according to the testimony of St. Luke. (XXI. 20.) At the same time He speaks of the end of the world and of His coming to judgment, of which the desolation of Jerusalem was a figure.

Pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath. Because, as St. Jerome says, the severe cold which reigns in the deserts and mountains would pre­vent the people from going thither to seek security, and because it was forbidden by the law for the Jews to travel on the Sabbath.

There shall rise false Christs and false prophets. According to the testimony of the Jewish historian Josephus, who was an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem, Eleazar, John, Simon, &c., were such false prophets who under the pretence of helping the Jews, brought them into still greater misfortunes; before the end of the world it will be Antichrist with his followers, whom St. Paul calls the man of sin and the son of perdition, (II Thess. II. 3.) on account of his diabolical malice and cruelty. He will rise up, sit in the temple, proclaim himself God, and kill all who will not recognize him as such. His splendor, his promises and his false miracles will be such that even the holy and just will be in danger of being seduced, but for their sake God will shorten these days of persecution.

Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. That is, where the wicked are, who have aimed at spiritual corruption, there punishment will overtake and destroy them.

This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. By these words Christ defines the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and says that many of His hearers would live to see it, which also happened. But when the end of the world will come, He says, not even the angels in heaven know. (Matt. XXIV. 36.) Let us endeavor to be always ready by leading a holy life, for the coming of the divine Judge, and meditate often on the words of our di­vine Lord: Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.

(See the account of the Destruction of Jerusalem on the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.)

PRAYER Remove from us, O Lord, all that is calculated to rob us of Thy love. Break the bonds with which we are tied to the world, that we may not be lost with it. Give us the wings of eagles that we may soar above all worldly things by the contemplation of Thy sufferings, life and death, that we may hasten towards Thee now, and gather about Thee, that we may not become a prey to the rapacious enemy on the day of judgment. Amen.

INSTRUCTION CONCERNING PERJURY
Amen, I say to you.(Matt. XXIV. 34.)

The Son of God here, and elsewhere in the gospel, con­firms His word by an oath, as it were, for swearing is nothing else than to call upon God, His divine veracity, His justice, or upon His creatures in the name of God, as witness of the truth of our words. — Is swearing, then, lawful, and when? — It is lawful when justice or necessity or an important advantage requires it, and the cause is true and equitable. (Jer. IV. 2.) Those sin grievously, there­fore, who swear to that which is false and unjust, because they call upon God as witness of falsehood and injustice, by which His eternal truthfulness and justice is desecrated; those sin who swear in a truthful cause without necessity and sufficient reason, because it is disrespectful to call upon God as witness for every trivial thing. In like manner, those sin grievously and constantly who are so accustomed to swearing as to break out into oaths, without knowing or considering whether the thing is true or false, whether they will keep their promise or not, or even if they will be able to keep it; such expose themselves to the danger of swearing falsely. “There is no one,” says St. Chrysostom, “who swears often, who does not sometimes swear falsely, just as he who speaks much, sometimes says unbecoming and false things.” Therefore Christ tells those who seek perfection, not to swear at all, (Matt. V. 34.) that they might not fall into the habit of swearing and from that into perjury. He who has the habit of swearing should, therefore, take the greatest pains to eradicate it; to accomplish which it will be very useful to reflect that if we have to render an account for every idle word we speak, (Matt. XII. 36.) how much more strictly will we be judged for unnecessary false oaths! God’s curse accompanies him who commits perjury, in all his ways, as proved by daily experience. He who commits perjury in court, robs himself of the merits of Christ’s death and will be consumed in the fire of hell, which is represented by the crucifix and burning tapers, in presence of which the oath (in some places) is taken. If you have had the misfortune to be guilty of perjury, at once be truly sorry, weep for this terrible sin which you have committed, frankly confess it, repair the injury you may have caused by it, and chastise yourself for it by rigorous penance.

November 14, 2020   No Comments