Church

14 Day Lenten Series: Part I – Temptations: Why We Have Them

28 March 2017

Temptations Bishop Ehrler 01
“Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him.” (Matth. 4: 10, 11)

Temptations
by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

For love of us, our Saviour became man, partly, to redeem us from the yoke of sin, and partly, to show us, by His example, the right path to heaven. Temptations interpose the greatest obstacles to our salvation. Therefore, our Redeemer suffered himself to be tempted, that we might learn from him how to overcome the tempter. He is the skilful General who has taught his soldiers by word and example the grand science of spiritual combat. My beloved brethren, allow me, today, to make known to you the laws which govern this science. There are chiefly three points wherein Satan seeks to ensnare us.

I. The lusts of the flesh;
II. The frowardness of the understanding; and
III. The pride of life.

How should a man meet these temptations? Let him only compare divine joys with the base gratifications afforded by these three sources of temptation, and he will find it impossible to yield to the latter.

I. Consider:

1. That the world promises carnal pleasures to its votaries; but
2. That joy in God is far sweeter and more lasting.

1. How empty and transitory are those pleasures which are always followed by pain! Manifold are the vexations and miseries which forbidden enjoyments cause the children of this world! Men often risk their honor and good name,–yea, even put their lives in danger for some vile amusement of an idle hour. What torment can be compared with that of a man who loves and sees that he is not loved in return; who spends his money and lavishes his gifts in vain; who cannot gratify his guilty passions; or, who lives in continual dread lest his evil deeds should come to light?

Jealousy, fear, love itself, torment him, and he needs no other scourge than the sharp stings of his own passionate heart. Can this be called pleasure?

2. On the contrary, divine love gives to man a true and lasting happiness. God can find no greater satisfaction than in himself, and where can we seek for greater happiness than in God? This happiness is as eternal as its Object. Death itself cannot terminate it, but, on the contrary, only gives to it a fresh beginning. Even in this life, the love of God sweetens all trials and labors; for the true lover fears no labor; all difficulties and obstacles are cheerfully overcome for the sake of the beloved. In short, a soul that has tasted of the heavenly manna of interior satisfaction in God, will certainly have a disgust for the flesh-pots of Egypt. ” O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet.” (Ps. 33:9)

Remember II.
That if the world proposes to you doubts and objections to faith,

1. God is the eternal truth;
2. He cannot error or make a mistake.

1. Man frequently prefers to pry into divine mysteries rather than believe in them. Some must know the why and the wherefore of everything. “Why do the wicked prosper?” they question. “And wherefore are the good oppressed?” They would fain weigh the dogmas of faith in the scales of their own finite reason. They would decide points of doctrine according to their own fancy, rather than by the revelation of God and the decrees of His holy Church. There are ignorant people who will argue upon Predestination, and the possibility of Transubstantiation. What pleasure can they find in such discussions? They belong to “the unlearned and unstable ” of whom the apostle complains that they wrest the Word of God to their own destruction. As a just punishment, they fall from one doubt into another. They bewilder themselves and others–they become perverts.

2. How complete would be the satisfaction of these unhappy men, if, turning from all disputed questions, they would fix their eyes upon the truth and infallibility of God! The divine mysteries are unfathomable. “Thy judgments, O Lord, are a great deep,” (Ps. 35:7) which human reason may admire, but can never fathom! Many natural causes of material things must ever remain hidden from our comprehension,–how much less, then, are we able to understand the sublime and secret mysteries of God! Shall we be foolish enough to declare that because we cannot comprehend a thing, therefore, it is impossible! That because we do not know why this or that happens, therefore it is not well that it should happen!

III. Remember again:

1. That if the world promises you great honors and exalted dignities,
2. That the kingdom of God is greater and nobler than all these.

1. Worthless, indeed, are all the dignities of this world! In a short time, they “shall come to nothing, and vanish like smoke.” (Ps. 36: 20.) No sooner has a man attained the pinnacle of fame, than he is carried off by death. “Thou seest a man in an elevated position; thou esteemest him as noble and exalted,” says St. Ambrose, “soon thou learnest that another has succeeded him, and thou askest: Where is the former incumbent who was so noble and distinguished? Thou art simply told: He has disappeared.” It is not necessary now, my beloved, to enlarge upon the inconstancy of fortune, the envy of inferiors, the misrepresentations of enemies, and the fear of losing the grace of God. To all of these even the highest positions are liable.

2. Let a man compare this so-called happiness with the genuine satisfaction of the Christian who enjoys the grace and love of God. A brief comparison between the finite and the Infinite will plainly show the emptiness of all worldly dignities. The kingdom of God is greater, its grades are nobler, its dignities are eternal. And to what a height of honor are not those raised to whom our Saviour said: “You also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matth. 19:28.) “Thus shall he be honored, whom the king hath a mind to honor.” (Esth. 6: 9.)

You now know, beloved brethren, the laws of the spiritual combat. There is nothing more to do but to encourage you in the warfare. Keep yourselves in constant practice, and if the tempter assails you, say to him: “Begone, Satan! Why do you flatter me? That which engages my love is far sweeter than anything that you can offer me! ” O my dear Christians, you have enlisted under the banner of Christ; then, I beseech you, with St. Paul: “In all things, taking the shield of faith, and taking unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, (which is the word of God),” (Ephes. 6: 16,) ” put ye on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the snares of the devil.” (Ibid. 11 verse.)

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The Purpose of Temptations

“Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4: 1.)

The mysterious temptation of our Lord in the desert, while it can only be explained and understood in connection with his dignity as the Messias, is nevertheless a great source of consolation for Christian souls. As the devil approached our first parents, Adam and Eve, in order to seduce them from obedience to God, so he approaches every member of the human family, for the same nefarious end. “Be sober and watch,” says the Prince of the Apostles, “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalleth your brethren who are in the world ” (1 Pet. 5: 8, 9,); and St. Paul adds: “Put ye on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the snares of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers: against the rulers of the world of this darkness: against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephes. 6: 11, 12.)

From within and without, through our friends and through our enemies, through the world, the flesh and the devil, the toils of temptation are continually cast around our souls. No place is so holy or secluded that Satan cannot find entrance; no man is so secure in virtue and perfection that he cannot seize and afflict him. Day and night, openly and concealed, he aims his poisonous arrows at us. Every one according to his condition and particular circumstances of life, has particular temptations. These temptations are as manifold as life is many-sided, out of everything on earth, the devil knows to make a snare for the ruin of souls. Before the door of our hearts, sin ever lurks, seeking an entrance into the secret sanctuary of the soul.

Why does our good God permit all these varied temptations? Does He will our destruction? Is it really His intention to plunge us into sin? Impossible; for God being Eternal Holiness cannot will evil, and being Mercy itself, he desires all men to be saved. “Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted of God: for God is not the tempter of evils: and he tempteth no man. But every man is tempted, being drawn away by his own concupiscence, and allured.” (James 1:13, 14.) To fathom God’s holy intentions, as well as to consider how we are to conduct ourselves when temptations assail us, is the purpose of this morning’s instruction. I propose, then, to answer the following questions:

I. Why does the Lord permit us to be attacked by so many temptations? and
II. Being attacked, how can we resist these numerous temptations?

I. Temptations are the touchstone of our fidelity to God. Our life upon earth is merely a probation for our eternal life in heaven. Temptations are the plummet wherewith God sounds every side of our hearts in order to measure the depths of our love for him. Can we, then, wonder that the Lord permits us to be tempted in various and almost innumerable ways? We must be tested for eternal life and for the heaven that awaits us. Through the efforts of our own free will, must we be made worthy of the bliss of the Hereafter. God could, indeed, create us without our aid, but He cannot save us without our co-operation. Heaven and its felicity are not merely the free gift of divine love and mercy; they are the reward of merit after the battle of life. Even those perfect spirits, the Angels of heaven, to whom the Lord granted the contemplation of the Beatific Vision from the moment of their creation, had to be proved and tried before they could be confirmed in glory,–so that that which had been given them as a free gift might become to them the merited reward of their free will. The obedience of Adam and Eve was tested in the Garden of Eden at the foot of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord leads every human being to this same tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not only once, but time and again, until the great novitiate for eternal life is finished.

1. God has given us various powers and faculties, of body and soul, that all being tried and tested by temptation may be employed for his service. Our eyes must be tried in order to ascertain whether, being led astray by the deceitful phantoms of sin, they are directed to evil, rather than to the true and unchangeable goods of heaven. Our ears must be tested in order to know whether they are open to evil and eagerly listen to it, or, on the contrary, open to God and his holy word, and closed to sinful words and discourses. Our tongue, our hands and feet, and all the members and senses of our body must be tested, in order to find out whether they serve the world, rather than God. For the same purpose, God searches the various powers and faculties of the soul, in order to test their fidelity to Him, and their real love for Him. He tries our understanding, to see if in the holy obedience of faith it bows to the teachings of revelation or rather relies upon its own narrow conceits. He searches our heart and our memory, the imagination and the will, and all the depths of our souls in order to discover whether we love him or adore another before Him. He tries the king upon his throne, and the lowest beggar among his subjects; he tries the father and the mother, the son and daughter, the master and the servant, the rich and the peer–everyone according to his calling and position in life, in order to test and to reward each man according to the depth of his love and the strength of his fidelity.

2. Temptations have a still wider range and purpose. The worth and greatness of our virtue lie in them. Without temptation, there is no virtue. A person may be innocent, but innocence is no virtue. Man becomes virtuous only by resisting temptations. There is as great a difference between innocence and virtue, as there is between life and strength,–a baby has life but no strength. There is no victory without battle. That only deserves the name of virtue which has been tried in the warfare against evil, and against the passions of the heart.

3. Every virtue is opposed by its contrary vice. Unbelief sends its doubts and objections into the soul of man in order to destroy or, at least, diminish the strength and zeal of faith. The spirit of impurity presents its sinful images before the chaste soul, and endeavors to cast the fires of sinful lust into its pure depths. Benevolence is opposed by avarice, humility and meekness are assailed by pride and hatred. As every being in nature has its enemy, every animal its adversary, every tree its worm, every flower and plant its dangerous and poisonous insect, so every virtue has a vice for its enemy, and the power of virtue must be tested by the conflict with its enemy. Only in heaven there is no conflict, no temptation.

4. When a nation enjoys a long-continued peace, and its army remains inactive for many years, the bravery of its soldiers and the skill of its generals cannot be known or appreciated. But when the enemy approaches, and the troops are threatened on every side: when on the field of battle, bombs, bullets, and shots are flying right and left, when they fight man to man, the courage and bravery of the soldiers are tried, and the talent of their leaders manifested. If there were no temptation, there would be no true and perfect virtue. How beautifully this truth is exemplified in Abraham. That heroic servant of God was devoted in strong and living faith to the Lord who chose him to be the progenitor of a new race. But never in his life did his strong confidence in God’s word and the sublime grandeur of his faith shine forth more brightly than when he stood upon Mount Moriah, knife in hand, ready, at the divine command, to offer up his only son in sacrifice. Then the Lord said to him: “By my own self have I sworn, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only begotten son for my sake: I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea-shore.” (Gen. 22: 16,17.) Joseph of Egypt practiced the virtue of chastity in his father’s house, but his purity shines forth more resplendently before our eyes, when we see him fleeing from the wicked temptress, and cast into prison on account of his virtue. Should we have ever heard of the chastity of Susanna, if temptation had not revealed it to us?

5. The more violent and protracted the temptation, the greater a person’s virtue. Therefore, the Lord said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22: 31.) He permitted the Apostles to fall into divers temptations and troubles that their virtue might shine forth more brilliantly to all succeeding generations. Thus, God leads us, my brethren, into conflict with temptation, that our virtue may come forth victorious. He tests the strength of our faith through skepticism and interior doubts, and through the examples of infidelity that surround us in the world. He tries the purity of our hearts by the impure and sinful desires which arise within us. He seeks to reveal in their full splendor our love for God and our neighbor through temptations to tepidity and idleness of heart, and through unkind thoughts against our brethren. Every temptation affords the Christian a fresh opportunity for the perfect practice of some beautiful virtue.

If the life of man according to the will of God, is a never-ending trial, an enduring temptation, his reward will be so much the greater, the more his fidelity and love are tried by the fiery ordeal. Innumerable are the consoling promises which God has made to those who resist temptations. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1: 12.) “My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations: knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work, that you maybe perfect and entire, deficient in nothing.” (James 1: 2-4.) “My dearest, think not strange the burning heat that is to try you, as if some new thing happened to you: but rejoice, being partakers of the sufferings of Christ, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Pet. 4: 12, 13.) ” Now, no chastisement for the present seemeth to bring with it joy but sorrow; but afterwards, it will yield to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.” (Hebr. 12:11.) The kingdom of heaven must be won by hard fighting, for it suffers violence. The heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, will not descend from heaven to earth, in order to catch us up painlessly into its bright recesses, but with labor and toil and sweat we must ascend to it, and force an entrance into its pearly walls. “To him that overcometh,” says Christ, “I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it.” (Apoc. 2: 17.)

II. I have said that only those who successfully stand the test of the great trial of life shall receive the crown of glory, hence, I ask myself that other question, How shall we come forth victorious over temptation?

1. We must walk at all times in humility and in the fear of God. ” Let him that thinketh himself to stand, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10: 12.) The weakness, frailty, and corruption of our nature are greater than we are aware of, and though we have overcome a temptation once, twice, yea, a hundred times, we must not presume on our success, for the tempter will repeat and renew his attack. Three times did he tempt Jesus in the desert, and each time he proposed to him a different temptation. He is a crafty and cunning adversary. He spies out our inclinations and wishes, and adroitly makes use of our habits and needs. He holds riches before the eyes of the poor man, and pictures to him the happiness to be found in their possession, so that, before long, the hand is stretched out to take the property of its neighbor. If he does not go that far, he, at least, looks discontentedly and enviously at his neighbor’s goods, and murmurs at, or curses, his own lot. In the heart of the rich man, he awakens insatiable desires, he tries to lead him to pride and avarice, and to a sinful use of his wealth. In the heart of him who is inclined to sensuality, he excites impure thoughts, imaginations, and desires. For the irritable man he prepares the temptation to impatience, and stirs up anew the fire of hate in his heart. Others are tempted by the devil in a different manner, but he invariably seizes upon the weak side. Often he does not at once suggest any thing very wicked and sinful. He has obtained his object if the Christian relaxes some of his strictness, and gives in, ever so little, to his suggestions. He disguises himself as an angel of light, and represents evil under the appearance of good. Or, he places on the tongues of those who are sinfully inclined, excuses for evil. He calls out to them: “Once is no time.” “It is not even a sin.” “Others also do it.” “The temptation is too vehement!” “What does it matter if you have sinned!” “You can confess your sins, and you will be all right!” and by such reasoning, he seeks to deceive the heart of man. He even quotes Scripture, (as he did to our Saviour), when it suits his purpose to make the evil and forbidden thing appear good and laudable.

Should we not, then, walk in the continual fear of God? ” Watch ye and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26: 41.) Should not our repeated relapses into past sins make us more cautious and fearful? Some of the greatest saints have fallen through the cunning of the wicked enemy of our souls. The cedars of Lebanon were cast down, and torn up by the roots in battle with the demon. All human virtue stands upon an unsteady foundation, and only the fear of God is able to preserve grace in our hearts; for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

2. The pious Christian, although fearful in temptation, must not, however, lose courage. He will remember the words of the Lord: “In the world you shall have distress, but have confidence; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33.) Through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the throne of the Prince of darkness has been shaken and overthrown; and Satan can no longer injure us. A residue of power is left to him, it is true, but no more than is necessary to test our fidelity and virtue. He dare not overstep the boundaries which have been marked out for him. God will not permit us to be tempted above our strength. Even the strongest and most lasting temptation is appointed by Him for the salvation of our souls.

Rain and sunshine, storms and gentle breezes, winter and summer are necessary for the life of nature, and the prosperity of all created beings; and only by these alternations, a strong and healthy life is developed upon the face of the earth. In like manner, temptations are necessary in the spiritual life; and the Lord sends as many trials and temptations to each one, as is useful and salutary for his soul. But although we must live in the continual fear of God, yet we have no reason to despond or be disheartened. The divine wisdom and love have fixed the measure of temptations for us, in order that through peace and war, through rain and sunshine, through joys and sorrows, He may lead us to the heavenly felicity.

Remember, too, that our good God has given us all the necessary weapons whereby we may overcome our temptations. A general refuses to lead his soldiers to battle, if they are not well armed and equipped, and enabled to fight with success. Jesus Christ Who went forth in the armor of his holy humanity to fight and conquer the Evil One, has left us His weapons, so that we, in our turn, may not be overcome in the warfare. His all-powerful grace by which we can do all things, supports us in the strife; He Himself takes part in the battle; He is with us when the enemy attacks us, and He fights with and for us. If we should be tempted above our strength, we shall conquer in His might.

With the shepherd boy David, then, we must go forth in the name of the Lord, and the wicked enemy with all his temptations will fall powerless before us. What we cannot do of ourselves, we can do in Him Who strengthens us. Supported by Him, we can overcome every temptation; and every victory we gain over the devil, will add a new brightness to our crown of heavenly glory.

3. But although through the gracious assistance of God, we are strengthened and enabled to come forth victorious from every temptation. we are strictly bound, nevertheless, to avoid the dangerous occasions of sin. “Seek the Lord in simplicity of heart: for He is found by them …. tempt him not, and he showeth Himself to them that have faith in Him;. (Wisd. 1: 2.) “He that loveth danger shall perish in it.” (Eccl. 3: 27.) Our Saviour Himself admonishes us to pray to His heavenly Father: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6: 13.) We may, indeed, expect with firm confidence that the Almighty will be a helper and deliverer to us in every temptation, but shall we dare to implore His help, if we willfully place ourselves in the danger of sin? Will the Lord grant us His assistance in such a case? Would you cast yourself into the fire, in the hope that God might rescue you? If you do not avoid dangerous companionship, if you deliberately return to a place in which you have repeatedly fallen into sin, you must not be astonished, if the grace of God forsakes you and the temptation overcomes you. God helps only those who strive to co-operate with, and make themselves worthy of His grace. He who knowing the weakness of his heart, yet rushes anew into fresh dangers, is not worthy of the help of God.

4. Moreover, he who wishes to overcome temptations must carefully avoid the beginning, or the first step in sin. A Christian hardly ever falls at once into the depth of vice, or by one misstep sinks into the abyss of wickedness and iniquity; the descent into sin is generally gradual. The sinful thought arises gently and almost imperceptibly in the soul. Like a spark of fire, it seeks for fuel; and if it be not extinguished at once, it grows ere long into a lively imagination. The imagination begets the desire, and the desire becomes stronger and more vehement each moment; and then, from a vehement desire to an evil action is a very short step. When the first step is once taken, the second and the third follow in quick succession; and finally, the sinner descends, step by step, into the deepest abyss of vice.

5. The flight from dangerous occasions, and the guarding against the beginning of sin, are especially necessary in temptations against holy purity. In common warfare he who flees before the enemy is accounted a coward; but in temptations of the flesh, Christian heroism is shown not by meeting and fighting with, but by running away from the foe. He who is not ready to practise this heroism will be overcome by the tempter.

6. Finally, I would add one more remedy to the foregoing ones, which will strengthen us in our warfare with temptations. If you wish to come forth victorious, you must make use of the means of grace which God has placed within your reach, and which are at your disposal. These means are Prayer and the Holy Sacraments. Through prayer and the reception of the holy Sacraments, the Christian really becomes invincible. Prayer obtains for us the help of God, and supported by His almighty grace, we are, so to say, almighty, and can do what we please according to these words of St Paul: ” I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4: 13.)

The strength and support which are granted to us through prayer, will be increased and confirmed by the reception of the holy Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist. The Sacrament of Penance breaks down the power of Satan in our hearts, and cleanses us from all sin. The Sacrament of the Altar makes us invincible. ” If God be for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8: 31.) The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the strong and mighty God who first overcame the temptations of the old serpent, will fight in us and through us; for He will effect and perform in us that which we cannot accomplish by our own strength. If in every temptation, we cry to heaven in fervent prayer, and frequently receive the God of grace and of strength, the victory shall assuredly be ours.

As Jesus after being baptized by John in the river Jordan was led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, so from our coming into the world until our going out of it, we shall be tempted and sorely tried by the same evil spirit, who, not content with being miserable himself, desires to make all others miserable as well. But we have a Saviour God, Jesus Christ, to Him we must lift up our eyes and hearts in every temptation. With courage, then, let us struggle and fight, as He has done, that when our great trial, our novitiate for heaven, is finished, the Angels of God may come to meet us in order to conduct us, crowned, into the mansions of eternal bliss. Amen.

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Prayer for the Tempted and Afflicted

O God, Who justifiest the ungodly that repent, and wouldst not the death of a sinner; we humbly entreat Thy Majesty to protect Thy servants with Thy heavenly assistance, who trust in Thy mercy, and preserve them by Thy continual protection; that they may constantly serve Thee, and by no temptation be separated from Thee; through, Our Lord etc. Amen

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals


The Fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare Sunday – Sermon by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger S.J. (1805-1888)

26 March 2017

4th_Sun_of_Lent_Pic

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them.”–John 6.

In today’s Gospel all are admonished to strengthen, particularly, that disposition of the heart which exercises, in a special manner, a beneficial influence over our life in the service of God, namely, our trust in His providence. There are so many trials in this world for both body and soul! So many evils, so many maladies and dangers threatening the health and life of man! How great, how urgent, frequently, are the cares for our daily existence! And if this is true of the body, what shall we say of the dangers to which the soul is exposed on the way of salvation?

Hence, how important it is for us to strengthen our trust in the providence of the Almighty. We shall consider, today, one by one, the motives for doing this.

O Mary, thou who art next to God, our most consoling refuge and trust, strengthen in our hearts this confidence in God, that we may be aided by Him in every need! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

That confidence in the providence of God is a most important disposition of the mind, is evident from what I have said in the introduction about the many needs of both body and soul.

Accordingly, Christ reminds us often and emphatic ally of this confidence, and exhorts us to cultivate it. The same is done by the Apostles. St. Peter, especially, admonishes us earnestly to place ourselves, like children, in God’s fatherly arms, and cast all our care upon Him. How readily would we obey this admonition of Christ and His Apostles, were we to consider Who God is, what He has done for us and for the world, were we to reflect on the lofty destiny for which He has created us, and the protection He has promised, if we place our trust in Him!

To strengthen, then, your trust in the providence of God, ponder first: Who God is. We place our confidence in another in proportion as we feel convinced that he understands what we need, and that he has it in his power to do for us whatever our safety requires. Again, this confidence we grant cheerfully and unreservedly if we know that our protector has the will to assist us, that he loves us, and that his relations towards us are such that we have a right to expect from him this aid; particularly, if he has promised to help us, and has already given us proofs of his readiness to keep his word.

Who does not see at a glance, after what has been said, how just and well-founded is our trust in God, and His providence, and how firm our hope should be in the help of God under every hardship of life? God knows what we need; He is omniscient; everything, says St. Paul, lies unfolded before Him like an open book. He knows the needs of our body and soul much better than we do ourselves. Let us trust in Him.

He is almighty; He can help us. It is He who, as Creator, called heaven and earth into existence, and who governs and preserves them. Has He the will to help us? Who can doubt it? Is He not infinite goodness, and at the same time our Creator and Father.

What splendid, what numerous proofs of the providence of God as Creator and Ruler of the world, surround us! What harmony, order and consistency we perceive in the entire visible creation, if we let our eyes wander from this earth to the far off starry hosts! For thousands of years the sun has risen and gone down never a second too early or too late. Child of man! does not the first ray of the sun say to you: There is a Providence? here am I again! Confide, trust!

But as the ancient philosopher Plato has said, the care of Providence appears to us more astounding in the smallest plant and animal which God’s omnipotence has called into existence, than in the magnificent heavenly bodies and their wonderful movements. Does not Christ Himself point to this when He emphatically says: “Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them? Are not you of much more value than they?” “And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith!” (Matt. 6, 26, 30).

How earnest should be our endeavor to strengthen our trust in God, when we think of the being He gave us; a being that reflects His likeness and surpasses in perfection all visible creatures! And for what end has He created us? Answer: For Himself, that we may one day become “like unto Him,” for His and our own glorification.

But what must our feelings be, when we think of the price He paid for us, when through sin, we were threatened with destruction? Did He not clothe Himself with our nature, live for our sake a life of infinite merit, and consummate the work of Redemption in excruciating sufferings and a bitter death?

Therefore, child of man, likeness of God, redeemed soul, have confidence! God will save you; He will help you.

Our trust in God will be still more strengthened, if we reflect upon the manner in which He bestowed upon us His infinite merits. He could not have granted them with greater liberality, did He come into the world to save each one of us alone. For us especially, the children of His holy Church, He has opened wide all the fountains of divine grace, and left abundant means unto salvation.

Each one knows how often Providence has protected him personally in many dangers of body and soul. Who can think of all this, and not throw himself, with all the trust of Christian hope, into the fatherly arms of God? This is not only a just, but at the same time a noble and meritorious act.

I say noble, for this trust marks the difference between the children of God and the children of the world. The latter are filled with care only to secure by industry their own and their children’s temporal welfare; and when misfortunes assail them, they think not of God, but seek help from man, as if man could aid them without the will of the Almighty. And if men help us, from whom do they receive the power to do so but from God?

It is unfortunate that men, even Christians, think of this so seldom, but ever run for aid to human be ings, sometimes even doing, or allowing others to do, for their alleviation, things which offend God. Thus act, especially, those Catholics who, merely to gain assistance in time of need, scruple not to join secret societies, which, for important reasons, are condemned by the Church.

What an admonition, a warning to us, especially in these times, and this country, to beware of being drawn into the nets of secret societies, and of being thus excluded from the spiritual consolations of holy Communion, not only during life, but also at the hour of death!

Confidence in God is also a particularly holy and meritorious act, because it includes so many other acts of virtue, namely, the recognition of the sovereignity of God over all His creatures and the entire world, His omnipotence, power, goodness, truth, fidelity and love. It is, therefore, an act which especially honors and pleases God, and to which He has promised His special protection: “Because he hoped in Me, I will deliver him, I will protect him,” is the promise made by God in the Psalms. It is an act which fully expresses the confession and longing of the pious soul: All for the greater glory of God, even my trials and my sorrows.

We have seen in the lives of many of the saints how successfully this disposition of mind will aid us to do great deeds in the service of God. Although poor, unknown, persecuted, how many great deeds they undertook and completed for the glory of God and the salvation of souls! Why? Knowing well their own capacity, they were humble and acknowledged themselves worthless, incompetent servants, but their trust was in God; hence their grand plans and their perfection, and hence their strength and perseverance. Trust in God, was their support.

Finally, how consoling, how sweet an act to place ourselves like children in the arms of our Father, and look confidingly up to Him in the storms of life. It is a foretaste of the peace, the eternal rest that the blessed enjoy in the contemplation of God! Amen!

“And a great multitude followed Him.”–John 6.

The people followed Jesus into the wilderness, because they were desirous of hearing Him. Their bodies hungered, but their souls were so refreshed, so delighted with the word He spoke, that they forgot their corporal needs, and Christ, to recompense their zeal, wrought a miracle.

What an example for us, to hear attentively the Word of God. and draw from it fruit for the benefit of our souls! Unfortunately, the wondrous fruits of the spoken word of God are not to be found in the great majority of Christian people. And why? The words of today’s Gospel, if carefully considered, will answer this question.

Were the dispositions of the children of the Church like those of the five thousand people who followed Christ into the wilderness, the Word of God would bring forth abundant fruit for the salvation of all.

Mary, thou who didst gain from the words of thy divine Son such wondrous benefits, pray for us that we also may henceforth draw abundant fruit therefrom for our soul’s salvation! O speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

Five thousand men followed Christ into the wilderness to hear Him speak. How great must their desire have been to understand His doctrine! It caused them to disregard the necessaries of life; they did not even think of providing food. What a salutary lesson for those Christians, who frivolously neglect to hear the word of God from those of whom Christ has said: “Those; who hear you, hear me! The desire to hear the Word of God is fearfully wanting in many Christians. Are there only a few who the whole year long listen not to a single sermon? who think they are doing wonders if they assist at Mass every Sunday? Is it surprising that they lead an indifferent life, or even follow the ways of evil without concern? How can it be otherwise? During the entire year they hear not a word of advice or instruction regarding those duties, which, as children of the Church, they must fulfill, if they would lead a good and holy life.

They live from year to year unconcernedly in the occasions of sin. And why? Because no one reproves them or shows to them the dangers which threaten their souls. They live in sin, because no one pictures to them frequently and touchingly the wickedness, the misfortune, the guilt of sin. It does not enter their thoughts to walk in the path of righteousness, or to live a holy life, because no one reminds them of their obligations, and because they have before their eyes only the example of other in different Christians. How different would the case be, if they heard the Word of God every Sunday with a well disposed heart! But this assistance they fail to secure.

The radical fault lies in the slight esteem they have for the Word of God. Hence, even if they do hear a sermon, they devote their attention to the style and delivery of the speaker, and listen to him more as a man and lecturer, than as a priest and preacher. St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, gives thanks to God that they had received his word “not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the Word of God, Who worketh in you that have believed.” Will God work in those who listen to the divine Word as the word of men?

The priest speaks in the name of God. It is the Lord who addresses us, when by His commission the preacher expounds the teachings and precepts of the Church. St. Teresa one day saw our Lord Himself standing at the side of a priest in the pulpit softly whispering into his ear what he was preaching to the people. How attentively must not the saint have listened to every word which came from the lips of that priest! How carefully would you not listen to this sermon, were you to see beside me Christ suggesting to me all that I am saying! And yet, whenever a priest of the Church preaches the Gospel and expounds it according to the interpretation of the Fathers and of holy Mother Church, it is really Christ that speaks to us. Has he not declared emphatically: “He that hears you hears Me?”

Do not therefore say: “I am not interested in what the preacher says; I know it already, and perhaps just as well as he.” You forget that divine grace accompanies the word of the priest as minister of the Lord, which is not the case when he who addresses you is not a priest, or not possessed of divine mission.

Hence the frequent astonishing conversions of repentant sinners, who have assisted at a sermon which convinced or moved them, although the sermon, perhaps told them nothing new, nothing that they had not heard before.

Divine grace, which accompanied the words of the priest, accomplished the deed. Therefore I say, if we do not profit by sermons, it is because we lack that hunger and thirst for the Word of God, which a proper esteem for it is calculated to produce.

There are many, however, who though they feel the need and good of a sermon, yet always fail to hear one, and always find numberless excuses to justify their conduct. They say: I have not the time, my business prevents me. I live properly, and know what the duties of a Christian are. I answered these excuses when I spoke on the nature, worth, and divine influence of the Word of God. I will now merely say, in regard to time, that he who wills can do much, often can do whatsoever he wills. Moreover we should remember that we can expect no blessing even in this world, if, neglecting to speak to God in prayer, and to listen to His sacred Word, we desecrate the Lord s day by servile work, business transactions, or frivolous intercourse with others.

Our Lord says: “Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Those, however, who live frivolously and who care not to hear the Word of God, heed not this admonition.

The Church possesses no attraction for such people, and they only visit it to fulfill, outwardly, their duties as Christians. Even if they sometimes do hear a sermon they take it not to heart, and find in it no food for the soul. And yet the Word of God is the Manna which, as the Holy Ghost says, contains all sweetness, and which, if we properly meditate upon it, will allay the hunger of our soul.

A man who desires ardently his salvation ought naturally to hunger and thirst after a more complete knowledge of the science which will secure it for him. Listen to sermons! They will teach you this science. The word of God will enlighten you.

He who seeks in truth his salvation, desires strength to live in accordance with the recognized will of God. Listen to sermons! The Word of God will animate and strengthen you, by untold motives, to fulfill your duties and lead a holy life.

The heart of man hungers and thirsts after good advice, and guidance to escape the evils or to cure the diseases of his soul. Listen to sermons! The Word of God offers you these means; make use of them, and your soul will be benefited.

Man here upon earth, longs for consolation in sorrow and suffering; hear the Word of God! It will comfort, it will refresh you. A heart sighing after holiness, desires to receive the graces necessary to this end. Listen to the Word of God coming from on high! Meditate in union with the people of today’s Gospel, that is: with grateful love for Jesus, reflect on the Word of God, and the Lord will satisfy the hunger of your soul, bestow upon you light, comfort, and strength in His service! Amen!

“And this He said to try him; for He Himself knew what He would do.”–John 6.

“Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” Christ asked Philip. He questioned him thus to try him. He–Jesus–knew that by a miracle He would feed those who, in order to hear His Word, had so zealously followed Him.

That which Christ did in today s Gospel is repeated by divine Providence unceasingly in the life of man. Men so often know not what they do, and so little accustom themselves to yield submissively to the decrees of Providence! Were it otherwise, how willingly would God do great and wonderful things in us!

I say: Only too often you know not what you are doing, no matter how clever you deem yourself; but God always knows what He does. Hence yield yourself to His guidance.

Mary, thou who didst stand silent beneath the cross, obtain for us that we may submit as perfectly as thou didst to the divine, though trying, decrees of Providence! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

“Father, they know not what they do!” Indeed, most men know not what they do. They neither understand nor reflect on the ways of God, nor allow themselves to be guided by His fatherly hand. They wish the Lord to follow whither they lead, and to do as they wish, because they imagine it will promote their happiness, while only too often it proves to be the cause of their misfortune and ruin.

This is the case, first, with all those who are foolish enough to seek the gratification of their wishes where it can not be found, but where, on the contrary, they meet the reverse. Man, who is created for happiness, seeks to satisfy the inclinations of his nature. He desires worldly goods, honors and pleasures, and these for the longest possible period. God, however, has not created him for these, but for Himself, for His glory; and this, for all eternity, but under the one condition that we serve Him.

The sinner seeks the gratification of his natural inclinations for riches, honors and pleasures; but where and how does he seek it? In creatures, and by the transgression of God’s laws. Oh, fatal delusion; for what are all earthly possessions? Dust! What is all earthly honor? Vapor! What is all worldly pleasure? Delusion! What is the longest age? Scarcely a moment, if compared with eternity.

Besides, how true and undeniable is the assurance of Holy Writ, that each one will be punished in that wherein he offended! The proud suffer humiliation; the avaricious, imaginary need; the passionate, wrongs; the envious, losses; the impure, great bodily torments; the intemperate, thirst; the indolent, hardships.

And, notwithstanding this, such men think that they act wisely, and consider the ways of the virtuous foolish, because these do not allow themselves every enjoyment, but turn their eyes from time to eternity, and bestow all their care upon the latter.

“Father, they know not what they do!” But Jesus knoweth what He does when He afflicts these worldly, sinful children of His Church with misfortune, when He throws obstacles in their evil path, and thus calls, admonishes and urges them to repentance.

When the Lord in this manner designs to seek men they ought to be most grateful; for then there is hope that they will return to the path of salvation. No more terrible judgment can befall the sinner than when God allows him to walk unpunished the road to destruction, and recompenses the good moral qualities, which he may still possess, with temporal goods, for then nothing awaits him in the other world save the endless punishment of sin.

But not only to sinners, but also to those who, though they fear God, and keep His commandments, still lead in the world the life of lukewarm and tepid Christians, are the words of God addressed: “They know not what they do,” nor what they desire. God, however, knows why He sends this or that calamity, if Christians do not, who, in their ignorance, endeavor to resist or avoid the dispensations of Providence.

The evil sometimes goes still further. Even among good Christians there are unfortunately many who, finding the ways of God incomprehensible, dare even to criticise them in their own mind, or in the presence of their intimate friends, and who, refusing to put themselves entirely in God’s hands, never draw, for the sanctification of their souls, the full benefit from the sacred dispensations of divine Providence.

Why are these miserable and deluded persons so obstinate, so unyielding? I answer: Because they judge the ways of God as they appear to them; they are not sufficiently penetrated with the light of holy faith, and do yield to their self-conceit.

It is not without reason that Jesus exhorts us “not to judge according to the appearance.” It may happen, and, in fact, not seldom does happen, that pious and zealous souls make plans, and are confused and embarrassed when, on the point of carrying them out, they find that these plans have been thwarted and rendered futile. God allows this; but men do not know it, and can not comprehend why He permits it. Why? Because they do not really know men as they are; but God knows them.

They do not know themselves, or how they stand in the sight of God. Not so, however, Jesus. He knows how weak they are, and that, if they began the work, they would leave it unfinished, and abandon it, which would be worse than not to have begun it at all.

They can not read the heart of men. Not so, however, Jesus. He knows what He does. He knows that those very persons who now seem favorably disposed towards them, would afterwards oppose their work, and destroy it. They do not know that a good deed done now may prevent the execution of a better work later.

Finally, they do not consider that God has no need of us to lead souls to their destination, and that frequently He only bestows upon us the merit of our good intentions. “Lord, Thou hast no need of my works,” says the Psalmist. Oh, how beneficial to every soul would it be if she made a similar confession! Then the arm of God would not be shortened; for, seeing us perfectly willing to let Him act for us, and to leave to Him the results of all our labors, whatever their importance, He would be most ready to multiply the loaves of bread that is, to increase His graces and blessings, because we would then be working only for His honor and glory, and not for our own self-love and vanity.

If we are thus disposed, if we act in this manner, then will those, who are Christians only in name, be induced to say, when they consider our life: We can not understand how people can live thus; how they can care so little for worldly goods, so little for amusement, honor, and the approbation of men; and, withal, be so lavish in providing for the needy, in seeking, at so much trouble and division, for the well-being of others. How can they despise the world, and seem to find heaven upon earth in union with Jesus, especially in the Most Holy Sacrament? They do not understand this; they do not know it. But those who live thus know why, and they can say, with David: “I believe, therefore do I speak thus.”

I believe, I trust in Jesus, therefore I live thus, and in joy and sorrow exclaim: Jesus, in life and in death, I am thine! Amen!

Source: http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/


Countdown to #Christmas – The #Annunciation Heralds the Beginning

25 March 2017

FraAngelico

Feast of the Annunciation

Sermon by Fr. Francis X. Weninger, S.J. (1805-1888)

And the angel Gabriel was sent by God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth,
and the name of the virgin was Mary.”–Luke 1.

Athwart the somber season of Lent, the deepening shadows of which grow darker still until the bright dawn of the resurrection morn dispels their gloom, there flashes the glory of a divine fact which gives to this festival of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary a rank equal to that of the greatest feast of the Church. This divine fact may well inspire our hearts with the most tender, the most exquisite, the most joyful, affections of thanksgiving, for to its existence we are indebted for the inestimable grace of Redemption.

It was upon this day, beloved in Christ, that the angel Gabriel–to whom God had given in charge the precious soul of her whom He had from all eternity chosen to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate–bore to the tender Virgin, whose purity had never been tarnished by the slighest breath of evil, the joyful tidings that she was, while preserving the pearl of virginity, to become the Mother of God.

It was upon this day, then, that the Son of God assumed our human nature for the redemption and salvation of fallen man; and yet there is, in general, but too little attention devoted to the consideration of the mystery we commemorate thereon; for, by the greater number of Christians, it is regarded and celebrated simply as a feast in honor of Mary. But, in fact, it is the very corner-stone upon which rest all the other feasts,–commemorating, as it does, an event which can not fail to fill the human heart with adoration, gratitude, and the most intense consolation.

Every thing depended upon the decree of God whether, in His infinite mercy, He would be pleased to stretch forth His arm and rescue the human race from the abyss of a wretchedness too profound almost to be conceived. But, since “the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary” the message of salvation, and the Son of God assumed on that very day her flesh, everything was changed; and from the Feast of the Annunciation came forth Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and the eternal triumph of the Church.

Let us consider today the message of the angel to Mary in its divine sublimity, as well as in the importance with which it is invested for the children of men. O Mary, who was already full of grace when the angel saluted thee, and elected thee not only to become the Mother of God, but also Mother of all the children of God, accept us today as thy children! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

If, my beloved Christians, the words of the holy gospels–whenever we open the pages of the inspired volume, but especially when we hear them from the lips of the priest on the occasion of the celebration of the feasts of the Church–tend ever to inspire us with joy, and to elevate our hearts to God, this is especially true of the gospel which is set apart for this joyous day.

“At that time the angel Gabriel was sent to a town named Nazareth, to a Virgin called Mary.” Blessed words! for, as often as we hear them, the happy event which we commemorate today arises immediately before our eyes, clear and distinct, as if we had been present when the glory of the angel irradiated the humble little room at Nazareth. In spirit, we behold the Immaculate Virgin, united with her God in fervent prayer, oblivious of all but Him, when, lo! an angel of the Lord appeared before her. We can almost hear his voice, in the tones of which still linger the sweetness of that celestial music to which it were bliss to list.

We have every reason to learn and to ponder deeply upon the signification of this angelic message, which was a most holy, a most solemn, a most momentous, a most consoling, and joyful message, both for the Blessed Virgin and for her devoted children.

In every message the importance is increased or lessened according to the dignity of the sender. A message is brought to us by a relative, acquaintance, or inferior, and produces but little effect upon us; we may not even delay the messenger long enough to hear what he has to say.

But suppose a person of high rank has something to say to us,–a Prince, a King, an Emperor, the President, the Pope! With what consideration we treat the messenger! How very attentively we listen, that we may know precisely what he has to impart! Imagine, then, how important, and, at the same time, how holy, was the message of the angel! It came from the Most Holy Trinity–God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! It was the message of the Infinite Majesty, the most merciful sanctity of God to Mary, and, through her, to the entire human race!

It was a most solemn message. What invests a message with significance, is the form and manner in which it is transmitted. Here we behold an archangel–one of the seven princes of heaven–declaring the will of the Most High; and who can conceive what myriads of angels attended Gabriel when he presented himself before Mary, Queen of angels! Who can picture the profound respect with which he saluted her, in whom he already beheld the Mother of the Son of God made man! With what deep veneration he addressed her, the chosen one of all the daughters of Eve,–destined from all eternity to be exalted as mistress above the whole celestial choir!

It was a most momentous message, for the subject of a message is what constitutes its importance. It made known to the world, to the human race, that the possessions lost through Adam would be restored; it heralded a great victory gained over the enemy of souls; it announced that the foe, from whom death and destruction would surely come, was shorn of his terrible strength. Let us suppose that, being under sentence of death, we had been granted a reprieve, or rather that the sentence had been entirely revoked, and that we had come into the possession of a great fortune, by which our happiness is forever secured: would we not consider the message which brought us the news glad tidings of great joy?

Apply not one but all of these circumstances to the message conveyed to Mary by the angel, and we shall realize in some degree its stupendous character. Adam listened to the voice of the seducer, and his fall deprived his hapless posterity of their promised happiness,–that of being one day permitted to behold God face to face, in the possession and enjoyment of His beatitude and all the exquisite joys of heaven.

All this was lost. However, amid the gloom which, for four thousand years, hung over a world groveling in darkness and in sin, there glimmered one ray of light in the promise of a coming Redeemer; but the time set apart for the expected and desired event was yet unknown.

Then, when the fullness of time was accomplished, Gabriel appeared and announced unto Mary that she had been appointed or chosen to become the Mother of the Messiah,–of that child whose birth was heralded to the watching shepherds by strains of angelic music, as the celestial choir adored the Infant God. Humanly speaking, mankind had indeed reason to be alarmed; for, although the promise of a Redeemer had already been made in paradise to our first parents, yet the wickedness which prevailed over the whole earth was so terrible, that man might well tremble lest the Lord should declare it to be forfeited entirely. He might well apprehend that it was a conditional promise; the more so since four thousand years had already rolled down the stream of time, and the Redeemer did not appear, while man, through his own fault, sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of sin! The word of the angel to Mary relieved the faithful few from this harrowing anxiety.

“The Saviour cometh!” We are rescued from sin and hell! From this day the heart of the Redeemer will throb beneath the loving heart of the Virgin Mother, who will present His first petition for the salvation of mankind to the eternal Father.

Joyful message, which brought such happy tidings to us! To regain, through Christ, the precious gift of heavenly grace; to become again, through Him, children of God; to behold the gates of heaven open for us, and to have it in our power to enjoy the delights of that celestial paradise for an eternity which will never, never end,–Mary for our Mother, and the Lord for our portion forever!

It is true that our individual sins had opened still wider the infernal gates, and made deeper far the yawning pit of hell; but, through the merits of Christ, the hope of a blessed pardon was held out to all “men of good will.”

The terrestrial paradise was lost, it is true; but in its place the kingdom of God on earth–the Church– would henceforth become for man a garden of delights. The sorrow, the pain, the anguish of earthly trouble must still encompass us, no longer, however, as punishments for sin, but to serve as occasions of merit for the increase of our eternal joy and happiness. The concupiscence of the flesh, indeed, should still remain a constant cause of warfare; but, as a compensation, the measure of grace would be so multiplied as to enable the Christian to valiantly combat and bear away the victor’s crown, and exalt his glory in heaven.The penalty of death had been pronounced upon man; but, through that dread decree, he can attain to the possession of a glory and delight which would never have been his had not Adam sinned in paradise.

In a word, infinitely more was conferred upon man through Christ, the Son of Mary, the heavenly Adam, than he lost through Adam, our first parent. We not only became again children of God, and gained once more the right to call Him Father; but we were permitted to call His Incarnate Son our Brother. For, since the Son of God assumed our flesh and blood from Mary, He is, therefore, true Man, even as from all eternity, in His own divine Person, He was and is God. Oh, what an important, what a welcome and consoling message!

All that can bring to the human heart the sweetest joy and solace is comprised in this message of the angel to Mary, as we will see if we take to heart all that has been said,–not merely hearing and believing it with a dead or dying faith, but also considering, and applying it to ourselves. In this, unfortunately, we are often wanting. Too many Christians are prone to celebrate the mysteries commemorated by the festivals of the Church only in their general relation, and not by reflecting what influence those articles of faith and divine truths should individually effect for us.

Yes, beloved in Christ, be ye who ye may, the message of salvation directed by Gabriel to Mary bears an individual relation to every one of you, even as if there had been but the one soul on earth for whose salvation the Saviour came. You were sunk deep in the abyss of woe, not only through the disobedience of Adam, but through innumerable personal sins, which threatened you with destruction for time and eternity. But the Saviour was conceived in the chaste womb of the Virgin Mary, and the lovely dawn of a blessed hope brightened the darkened world. This hope has a more secure foundation for you, since, without any merit of your own, you have been called to be members of the true Church.

Try, therefore, before you leave this holy place, to excite in your hearts all those affections which animated the heart of Mary on receiving the message of the angel. First, adore and thank God for having created you to His own image and likeness, and for having spared you when you were yet in a state of sin; but, above all, for having sent His only-begotten Son to redeem and save you. Renew your resolution to live as true children of God, as if Christ had been received into your hearts also as the pledge of a better life.

Thus you will become strong; and, although you may not have the happiness enjoyed by the Immaculate Virgin and Mother–of walking by the side of the Incarnate Son of God–you may, while living as her faithful children, enter one day into the communication of her glory and beatitude as children of God, also rescued through the incarnation of His eternal Son.–Amen!

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals


The Silent Saint – A Tribute to Saint Joseph

19 March 2017

Editor’s Note: Originally published on March 19, 2010, the first day of publication of AlwaysCatholic.com. We are reprinting it for the  7th Anniversary of ACBlog. This is one of the most read pieces on the site and after you read it, you will know why.

Happy Saint Joseph’s Day from AlwaysCatholic

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The Silent Saint
by @AncientSoul

On March 19th, the anniversary of the debut of this blog, we remember St. Joseph. I think St. Joseph is one of the most forgotten of all Saints, yet … which of the other Saints were ever closer to our dear Lord? I have to stop and stand in awe of this faithful servant of God. Is he quoted in the Bible frequently? No. Does he have the fanfare and notoriety that many other Saints have? Not so much.

Let’s stop a moment and really consider his role in redemption. One can hardly focus on St. Joseph without first looking at our Blessed Mother. Here we find a young girl not barely ‘sweet sixteen’ who is told something quite unbelievable to the average person, namely that she would conceive the Son of God in a miraculous way and remain a virgin. We all know this, but I think often many take it for granted that the times in which she lived were precarious at best. An unmarried woman that found herself pregnant would soon feel the biting sting of stones tearing and bruising her flesh and breaking her bones. Still, she trusted and accepted according to the Perfect Will of God without hesitation!

Then we have to look towards Joseph. An older man .. a widower who was to marry this young girl, yet what to do when he learns that she is with child? He knew full well what would be her fate if he publicly declared this. His kind and protective nature decided to just divorce her quietly and not cause her undue pain and scandal. We all know that God sent the angel to him in a dream to explain the situation and Joseph, trusting God as Mary did, believed and took her for his wife.

I would imagine they were both a little nervous about it all … wondering how this could be .. what would happen next … how would it all turn out?? I can only imagine the prayerful lives of faith that they led allowing them to trust to that extent and rely on God for the very next step all along the way. We all know the stories from our childhood, but have we ever stopped to really think what it all must have been like? Fleeing into Egypt .. fleeing from Herod … losing Jesus as a young Boy and finding Him in the Temple amidst the elders, questioning and being questioned. St. Joseph taught the God-Man his carpentry trade. He and Mary played with Him, watched Him grow, comforted Him when He fell and taught Him how to pray!

So little is written of St. Joseph in Scripture .. neither Joseph or Mary together, have very many words recorded. But are there any more significant people in Scripture than the Mother and Foster-Father of the Christ Child? They don’t say much, but they sure lead by example! St. Joseph was a faithful servant while on earth, chosen by the Holy Trinity to be a wonderful Foster-Father to Jesus and a faithful and protective virginal husband to Mary.
As the head of the Holy Family, he is also the Patron of the Catholic Church. He is also the Patron Saint of families and workers as well. We need to call on him for his protection, guidance and support in all things.

One of St. Joseph’s most famous titles is Patron of a Happy Death. Why? How could death not be happy if one was to die in the arms of Jesus and Mary? We must never forget his suffering either. He truly is our Friend in Sufferings with all the fear, anxiety and panic he must have gone through in his diligent care of his beloved Family! Let us always turn to our foster father St. Joseph, asking him to present our petitions to our dear Lord and our Blessed Mother with the same tenderness and concern in which he protected them while on earth. Let our prayer be always to strive to embrace the perfect Will of God in all things with a joyful and trusting heart as St. Joseph shows us by his shining example.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph .. please pray for us!

Please click HERE for more Saint Joseph from Mary at BattleBeadsBlog!


Happy St. Joseph’s Day to Benedict XVI: Your words STILL help us.

19 March 2017

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born Josef Ratzinger. Named after the holy Saint Joseph, we celebrate his “Name Day” with a post from years past. This post on fraternal correction is so needed in our world today. Thank you, “Father” Benedict, as you wish to be called. Your words Still help us.

Benedict XVI: “Christians should accept fraternal correction when they are wrong”

by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, September 4, 2011 A.D.

There is a “mutual responsibility” of all believers “in the way of Christian life”, and all are called to correct the faults of others and at the same time to “welcome the fraternal correction.”The Pope said this during the Angelus.”Brotherly love involves a sense of mutual responsibility, so, if my brother sins against me, I must practice charity towards him and, above all, talk to him personally, pointing out that what he has said or has done is not good – the Pope said, commenting on today’s Gospel -. This approach is called fraternal correction: it is not a reaction to a suffered injury, but it is moved by love for his brother.”

“And if my brother does not listen to me?, – he continued – in today’s Gospel Jesus tells a progression: first go back to him to talk with two or three more persons, to help him to better realize what he has done, if, despite this, he still rejects the observation, then it must be communicated to the community; and if he will not even listen to the community, it is necessary to make him feel the distance that he has caused, separating himself from the communion of the Church. ” “All this – pontiff added – indicates that there is a shared responsibility in the way of Christian life: everyone, aware of his limitations and defects, is called to welcome the fraternal correction and help others with this particular service.”

At the end of the Angelus in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, addressing the Italian-speaking pilgrims Pope Benedict XVI greeted them” to the large group of ACLI (Christian Associations of Italian Workers) at the conclusion of their study-meeting on the theme of work- after 30 years of the Encyclical “Laborem Exercens” of Blessed John Paul II. ” “I appreciated, dear friends, your attention to this document, which remains as one of the cornerstones of the Church’s social doctrine,” the Pontiff said.

On video connection with the area of Fincantieri Ancona, where the opening Mass of the National Eucharistic Congress was celebrated, Benedict XVI addressed his “cordial greetings to all who participate in this event of grace that in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist worships and praises Christ, source of life and hope for every man and for the whole world.”

Got Lent? Thirty Days Prayer. Go For It.

14 March 2017

crucifixion pic

Thirty Days Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Honor of the Sacred Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

[By the devout recital of this prayer for the above space of time, we may hope to obtain our lawful request. It is particularly recommended as a proper devotion for the time of Lent, and on the Fridays throughout the year.]

Ever glorious and blessed Mary, Queen of virgins, Mother of mercy, hope and comfort of all dejected and desolate souls; through that sword of sorrow which pierced thy tender heart, whilst thine only Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord, suffered death and ignominy on the cross; through that filial tenderness and pure love He had for thee, grieving in thy grief, whilst from His cross He recommended thee to the care and protection of His beloved disciple, St. John–take pity, I beseech thee, on my poverty and necessities; have compassion on my anxieties and cares; assist and comfort me in all my infirmities and miseries. Thou art the mother of mercies, the sweet consolatrix and refuge of the needy and the orphan, of the desolate and the afflicted. Look, therefore, with pity on a miserable, forlorn child of Eve, and hear my prayer; for since, in just punishment of my sins, I am encompassed with evils, and oppressed with anguish of spirit, whither can I fly for more secure shelter, O amiable mother of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, than to thy maternal protection? Attend, therefore, I beseech thee, with pity and compassion, to my humble and earnest request.

I ask it through the infinite merits of thy dear Son; through that love and condescension wherewith He assumed our nature, when, in compliance with the divine will, thou gavest thy consent; and whom, after the expiration of nine months, thou didst bring forth from the chaste enclosure of thy womb, to redeem the world and to bless it with His presence. I ask it through that anguish of mind wherewith thy beloved Son, my dear Savior, was overwhelmed on Mount Olivet, when He besought His eternal Father to remove from Him, if possible, the bitter chalice of His future passion. I ask it through the threefold repetition of His prayer in the garden, from whence afterwards, with dolorous steps and mournful tears, thou didst accompany Him to the doleful theatre of his sufferings. I ask it through the stripes and wounds of His virginal flesh, occasioned by the cords and whips wherewith He was bound and scourged, when stripped of His seamless garment, for which His executioners afterwards cast lots. I ask it through the scoffs and ignominies by which He was insulted; the false accusation and unjust sentence by which He was condemned to death, and which He bore with heavenly patience. I ask it through His bitter tears and bloody sweat: His silence and resignation; His sadness and grief of heart.

I ask it through the blood which trickled from His royal and sacred head, when struck with the sceptre of a reed, and pierced with the crown of thorns. I ask it through the excruciating torments He suffered when His hands and feet were fastened with large nails to the tree of the cross. I ask it through His vehement thirst and bitter drink of vinegar and gall. I ask it through His dereliction on the cross,when He exclaimed “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I ask it through the mercy extended to the good thief, and through His recommending His precious soul and spirit into the hands of his eternal Father before He expired, saying, ” All is finished.” I ask it through the blood mixed with water, which issued from His sacred side, when pierced with a lance, and whence a flood of grace and mercy hath flowed to us. I ask it through His immaculate life, bitter passion, and ignominious death on the cross, at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions by the bursting of rocks, the rending of the veil of the Temple, the earthquake, and darkness of the sun and moon. I ask it through His descent into hell, where He comforted the saints of the Old Law with His presence, and led captivity captive.

I ask it through His glorious victory over death, when He arose again into life on the third day; and through the joy which His appearance, for forty days after, gave thee, His blessed mother, His apostles, and the rest of His disciples; and when, in thy presence and in theirs, He miraculously ascended into heaven. I ask it through the grace of the Holy Ghost, infused into the hearts of His disciples when he descended upon them in the form of fiery tongues, and by which they were inspired with zeal in the conversion of the world when they went to preach the Gospel. I ask it through the awful appearance of thy Son at the last dreadful day, when He shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire. I ask it through the compassion He bore thee in this life, and the ineffable joy thou didst feel at thy assumption into heaven, where thou art eternally absorbed in the sweet contemplation of His divine perfections. O glorious and ever blessed Virgin, comfort the heart of thy supplicant, by obtaining for me:

[Here mention or reflect on your lawful request, under the reservation of its being agreeable to the will of God, who sees whether it will contribute towards your spiritual good.]

And as I am persuaded my divine Savior honors thee as His beloved Mother, to whom He can refuse nothing, let me speedily experience the efficacy of thy powerful intercession, according to the tenderness of thy maternal affection, and His filial, loving heart, who mercifully grantest the requests and compliest with the desires of those who love and fear Him. O most blessed Virgin, besides the object of my present petition, and whatever else I may stand in need of, obtain for me of thy divine Son, our Lord and our God, lively faith, firm hope, perfect charity, true contrition, a horror of sin, love of God and my neighbor, contempt of the world, and patience and resignation under the trials and afflictions of this life. Obtain likewise for me, O sacred Mother of God, the great gift of final perseverance, and grace to receive the last Sacraments worthily at the hour of my death. Lastly, obtain, I beseech thee, for the souls of my parents, brethren, relations, and benefactors, both living and dead, life everlasting. Amen.

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Our Lady Refuge of Sinners

from a Reflection on the Fourth Station of the Cross
Jesus carrying the Cross, meets with his most afflicted Mother.

V. We adore thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, and bless thy holy name:
R. Because, by thy holy cross, thou hast redeemed the world.

THE MYSTERY

This station presents to our contemplation the meeting of the desolate mother and her bleeding Jesus, sinking under the weight of the cross. Consider what pangs rent her soul, when she beheld Him covered with blood, dragged violently to the place of execution, reviled and blasphemed by an ungrateful, outrageous rabble. Meditate on her inward feelings–the looks of silent agony exchanged between the Mother and her Son: her anguish in not being permitted to approach and embrace Him. Be filled with confusion, that neither the Son’s pain, nor the Mother’s grief, have softened the hardness of your heart. Approach now, with contrition, and join in the following PRAYER.

O Mary, I am the cause of thy sufferings: O refuge of sinners, let me share in those bitter pangs which rent thy tender soul when thou didst behold thy Son, covered with wounds and fainting under the cross. Mother of sorrows, let me feel the force of thy grief, that, together with thee, I may mingle my tears with the blood of thy Son. O suffering Jesus’ by thy bitter passion, and the deep anguish of thy afflicted Mother, grant me the grace of perseverance. Mother of Jesus, intercede for me! Jesus, look down on me with an eye of pity; and, in the hour of my death, receive me into thy arms.

Our Father, etc. Hail Mary, etc. Glory be to the Father, etc.

V. Jesus Christ crucified, have mercy on us.
R. Have mercy on us; O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Source: CatholicHarborofFaithandMorals.com

H/T Sandy Romero on FB


Second Sunday of #Lent: Missa ‘Reminiscere Miserationum’ Link to (10:30 AM EST) LIVE Mass and Propers

12 March 2017

Second Sunday in Lent Main Index

Second Sunday of Lent
Dominica II in Quadragesima
Missa ‘Reminiscere Miserationum’
1st Class
Violet

[STATION AT Santa Maria in Dominica,]

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The Propers follow the link below for the Extraordinary Form Mass offered LIVE online by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

LIVE Link to the Second Sunday in Lent Mass at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, Sarasota, Florida: Please click HERE

“The LIVE Mass that streams to LIveMass.net is actively taking place in Sarasota, Florida. At all times the screen will remain blank until ten minutes before the scheduled Mass. Mass times are Sunday (Low Mass) at 8:30 a.m. EST. The High Mass is at 10:30 a.m. EST. All other times the screen will remain blank. The Daily Mass schedule is Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. EST and Tuesday and Friday evening an additional daily Mass at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Recollection of the Confraternity of Saint Peter takes place also on the 2nd Friday of the month at 6:30 P.M. EST.” from the website of livemass.net

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INTROIT ¤ Ps. 24:6,3,22,1,2

Ps. 24:6,3,22,1,2

Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine, et misericordiae tuae, quae a saeculo sunt: ne unquam dominentur nobis inimici nostri: libera nos, Deus Israel, ex omnibus augustiis nostris.(Psalm) Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam, Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam. Gloria Patri. Reminiscere…

Remember, O Lord, Thy bowels of compassion, and Thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. (Psalm) To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me be not ashamed. Glory to the Father. Remember…

The Gloria in Excelsis is not said.


COLLECT

Deus, qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui: interius exteriusque custodi; ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum nostrum.

O God, who seest that we are wholly destitute of strength, keep us within and without: that we may be defended in body from all adversity: and cleansed in mind from evil thoughts. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE ¤ I Thess. 4:1-7

Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.

Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Thessalonia.

Fratres: Rogamus vos, et obsecramus in Domino Iesu, et quemadmodum accepistis a nobis quomodo oporteat vos ambulare, et placere Deo, sic et abuletis, ut abundetis magis. Scitis enim quae praecepta dederim vobis per Dominum Iesum. Haec est enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra: ut abstineatis vos a fornicatione, ut sciat unusquisque vestrum vas suum possidere in sanctificatione, et honore: non in passione desiderii, sicut et gentes, quae ignorant Deum: et ne quis supergrediatur, neque circumveniat in negotio fratrem suum: quoniam vindex est Dominus de his omnibus, sicut praediximus vobis, et testificati sumus. Non enim vocavit nos Deus in immunditiam, sed in sanctificationem: in Christo Iesu Domino nostro.

Brethren, We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vesel in sanctification and honor; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the Avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have all testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification: in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL ¤ Ps. 27:17,18

Tribulationes cordis mei dilatatae sunt: de necessitatibus meis eripe me, Domine. Vide humilitatem meam, et laborem meum: et dimitte omnia peccata mea.

God has given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. V.: In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities, O Lord. See my abjection and my labor; and forgive me all my sins.


TRACT ¤ Ps. 105:1-4

Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius. Quis loquetur potentias Domini: auditas faciet omnes laudes eius? Beati qui custodiunt iudicium, et faciunt iustitiam in omni tempore. Memento nostri, Domine: in bene placito populi tui: visita nos in salutari tuo.

Give glory to the Lord, for He is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord: who shall set forth all His praises? Blessed are they that keep judgment and do justice at all times. Remember us, O Lord, in the favor of Thy people: visit us with Thy salvation.

GOSPEL ¤ Mt. 17:1-9.

† Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.
† Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.

In illo tempore: Assumpsit Iesus Petrum, et Iacobem, et Ioannem fratrem eius, et duxit illos in montem excelsum seorsum: et transfiguratus est ante eos. Et resplenduit facies eius sicut sol: vestimenta autem eius facta sunt alba sicut nix. Et ecce apparuerunt illis Moyses et Elias cum eo loquentes. Respondens autem Petrus, dixit ad Iesum: Domine, bonum est nos hic esse: si vis, faciamus hic tria tabernacula, tibi unum, Moysi unum, et Eliae unum. Adhuc eo loquente, ecce nubes lucida obumbravit eos. Et ecce vox de nube, dicens: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui: ipsum audite. Et audientes discipuli, ceciderunt in faciem suam, et timuerunt valde. Et accessit Iesus, et tetigit eos, dixitque eis: Surgite, et nolite timere. Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt, nisi solum Iesum. Et descendentibus illis de monte, praecepit eis Iesus, dicens: Nemini dixeritis visionem, donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat.

At that time Jesus took Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then Peter answering said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise, and fear not. And they, lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.


OFFERTORY ¤ Ps. 118:47,48

Meditabor in mandatis tuis, quae dilexi valde: et levabo manus meas ad mandata tua, quae dilexi.

I will meditate on Thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will lift up my hands to Thy commandments which I have loved.

SECRET

Sacrificiis praesentibus, Domine quaesumus, intende placatus: ut et devotioni nostrae proficiant, et saluti. Per Dominum nostrum.

Look favorably upon these present Sacrifices, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that they may profit us both unto devotion and salvation. Through our Lord.


PREFACE
Preface for Lent

Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui corporali ieiunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et praemia: per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Coeli, coelorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes:

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who by this bodily fast, dost curb our vices, dost lift up our minds and bestow on us strength and rewards; through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:

COMMUNION ¤ Ps. 90. 4, 5

Intellige clamorem meum: intende voci orationis meae, Rex meus, et Deus meus: quoniam ad te orabo Intellige clamorem meum: intende voci orationis meae, Rex meus, et Deus meus: quoniam ad te orabo,Domine.

Understand my cry: hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God: for to Thee will I pray, O Lord.


POSTCOMMUNION

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: ut, quos tuis reficis sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum nostrum.

We humbly beseech Thee, almighty God, that we whom Thou dost refresh by Thy Sacraments may worthily serve Thee by lives well pleasing to thee. Through our Lord.

 

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Thank you to Deo Volente for his hard work at his blog, Traditional Latin Mass in Maryland.


Second Sunday of #Lent by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

12 March 2017

Second Sunday of Lent

Second Sunday of Lent Weninger 01

 

“And His face did shine as the sun.”–Matt. 17

The Gospel read by the Church on the first Sunday of in Lent invites her children to employ this time of grace! in cleansing themselves from the stain of sin, in freeing themselves from the slavery of Satan, in overcoming temptation, in one word, in destroying sin. To day’s Gospel teaches that a true child of the Church and of Christ must not be satisfied with not offending God, nor living separated from Him in the state of mortal sin; but he must endeavor to lead a holy life, and follow Christ closely.

At the same time, the words of today’s Gospel indicate the condition necessary to walk the path of perfection, to follow Christ, and to become more and more like Him. The evangelist says: “And His face did shine as the sun.” What meaning has this in reference to our striving after perfection? I shall answer this question today.

O Mary, thou sublime woman, whom St. John in the Revelation saw clothed with the sun, beg Jesus to grant us purity of intention, that we may live and die for Him alone! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

“The face of Jesus did shine as the sun.” The expression, “as the sun, refers not only to a flood of light, which even the moon and a multitude of stars send forth; but also to certain other qualities of the sun, which our actions must figuratively copy if we desire our life to resemble that of Jesus, and to glorify God.

I will speak first of purity of intention, namely, that quality in all our actions and omissions, in all our thoughts, words, wishes, and works, which directs them at all times to the glory of God. The example of Christ speaks to us of this most forcibly. Through the Incarnation of the Son of God, the sun rose gloriously in the bosom of Mary, for, according to St. Paul, the first words of Christ in the moment of His conception were: “Behold I come to do Thy will, O God.” “I have meat to eat which you know not,” He said to the disciples when His apostolic mission was at its height. And again: “Father, not My will, but Thine be done,” was his prayer, and the outpouring of His heart on the last evening of His life.

He asks His disciples to live in imitation of Him. Whence the Apostle says: “Whatsoever you do, do all things for the glory of God.” “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” thus He teaches those to pray who belong to Him, declaring all worthless that is not done according to the holy will of God, and for His glory.

We will perceive the importance and necessity of this state of mind in following Christ upon the path of Christian perfection, if we but consider the last aim and end of creation, and especially of man. For that last aim and end is no other than the outward glorification of God, through voluntary obedience to His holy will.

The light of the sun symbolizes that purity of intention expressed by the words: “All to the great glory of God,” which is the property of a truly fervent soul.

Before the sun rises, all nature is veiled in darkness, notwithstanding the presence of those large luminous worlds, the stars. Similar is the state of his soul in the service of God, who thinks only of himself, and sees nothing beyond his own desires. The spiritual life of such a man is shrouded in the darkness of night.

The sun, once above the horizon, rises ever higher and higher; and, by the manner in which he sends out his light, seems to say: Everywhere, all over the earth, as far as my rays can pierce, I give light, all for the greater glory of God!

So it is with the Christian, who, during the day, preserves in his heart the pure intention of doing the will of God, and this only; who lives for God alone, as his last aim and end.

Unhappily, we have but few suns here below who shine like that of St. Ignatius, only to honor the Almighty, and who in all they do, desire, or suffer, seek only to glorify their God. Christians who wish to live as Christians, generally have in part this good intention. In a measure, they seek to glorify God; but, as the moon borrows her light from the sun, and shows through it her own face, so their works, made bright with the light of God’s service, frequently show that “I” which obtrudes itself in various ways.

The sun proceeds on his course; whether the sky be clear or clouded, whether the air be calm or disturbed by storm. Thus those walk upon earth who live for God alone, who see Him only in all their actions. They walk onward, never heeding the obstacle they encounter, calm alike in misery and in prosperity. How different from those who, as long as nothing stands in their way, are filled with zeal; but who, as soon as an obstacle hinders their progress, become despondent and abandon their purpose!

The light of the sun never changes, while that of the moon increases, diminishes, and, at times, disappears altogether. A soul sustained by the pure in tention of living for God alone remains ardent and steadfast, while one who acts through other motives is changeable, sometimes zealous, again thoughtless, and often even forsakes ignominiously the work which he undertook for the glory of God.

At the close of today’s Gospel the Evangelist says: “They saw no man, but only Jesus.” How few there are to all whose actions these words can be truthfully applied. They, perhaps, do look up to Jesus, and try to follow Him, and become like Him; but their eyes wander too often from Him to themselves and others. They desire, while practising works of piety, to satisfy their self-love, and to give all due respect to human considerations. Hail, to those Christians of whom it may be said: In all they do, they think of Jesus only, of being pleasing in His sight, of following, of serving Him, of becoming daily more like Him, and of possessing Him! They will be led by the spirit of prayer to Mount Tabor, and their life will be transformed into a life of such holiness that it will shine as the sun! Amen!

“And His garments became white as snow.” Matt. 17.

“Lord, cleanse me more and more,” sighed David to God. We all have cause to repeat his cry, even if we forsake the path of evil, and endeavor to walk in the footsteps of the just. Though we try to exercise ourselves in good works, we are yet far from the perfection we ought to aspire to in all our actions, especially in those of daily routine, which our vocation upon earth obliges us to perform. These we must render, like the wheat in the Gospel, worthy of being placed in the granaries of heaven, and, despite their many imperfections, strive to keep in the category, so to say, of good deeds.

We are reminded of this in today’s Gospel: “And His garments became white as snow.” The garments which clothe our soul, are the good works which we practise, according to our station in life. If each one of these were performed with the purest intention, and were free from every stain of imperfection, what an adornment they would prove to be, how they would embellish the soul, and what a gain they would be for heaven! Unfortunately this is seldom the case. There are few of our works whose brightness is untarnished by sin.

We will consider today, particularly, the stains which deface our daily works, and meditate upon the best means of avoiding and guarding against them. Mary, thou who, according to Holy Writ, standest robed in garments of gold, before the throne of the Most High, thou, purest of the pure, in thought and deed, grant that we, taught and guided by thee, may gain strength to free ourselves from every stain of imperfection and sin! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God.

St. John, speaking in the Apocalypse of the saints in heaven, says: “They were clothed in white robes.” These white garments and these shining, precious material of which they are made, says he, are righteousness and good works. This material is made up principally of our daily works. For, in order to become holy it is not necessary to perform great and astonishing outward deeds. The Almighty has not chosen or called every one for such a career; hence every one has not received the divine grace which it requires. As to those great works of which we read in the lives of the saints, they were not the means of making them what they were; it was, rather, the perfection with which they performed their daily duties which made them so rich in merit.

A friend of St. Francis de Sales used to say of this saint, that he did nothing unusual, and yet all that he did seemed unusual, on account of the perfect manner in which it was performed. And what are the stains which cling to our daily works and deface them, and often even totally destroy them, by robbing them of all merit for the life to come? They are these:

First, the stain of indolence, arising from a want of energy to rise early, and always at the same time, in order to say our morning prayers and to implore God to protect and bless us during the day. All who are indolent in rising, who begin the day slothfully and without devout, earnest prayer, stain thus early in the morning the robes of their soul.

The second stain on the robe of our daily works, is want of a pure intention to live that day only to fulfill the will of God, and to do all that we do for Him alone. We seek too much after self, and are too often actuated by the temporal motive of gaining wealth, honor, or enjoyment. This want of a pure in tention is a stain on the white garment of our daily work.

Further, this robe is soiled by an ill-regulated performance of the duties of our state of life. We act either too sluggishly or too precipitatedly, with reluctance and through habit. We enter upon our daily duties without raising our minds to God, and, during the day, forget His holy presence. Instead, we often, without reflection or precaution, seek company and dissipation, fritter away our time in idle conversation, and, of course, sully our robe with many sins of the tongue. Who can count the sins that are daily committed by piously-inclined persons through want of a proper guard over their tongues?

Another abundant source of stains on our good works is want of charity. Under this head may be classed cutting remarks, unkind accusations and reproaches, often accompanied with contemptuous and offensive bearing. Then we contract stains by omitting to labor at the instruction and improvement of others, and, in general, to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy. There are, besides, stains of rash suspicions and judgments, and even of participation in petty backbiting and calumny. I must not forget jealousy, envy, and general narrowness.

Stains in abundance fall on our daily actions from a want of trite love for the cross. Hence comes peevishness, hence impatience, that almost tears our good deeds to tatters. This is especially the case when, through want of love for the cross, man is tempted to murmur against divine Providence, or to submit unwillingly to the decrees of the Almighty.

To these may also be added the spots which arise from obstinacy, selfishness, conceit, presumption, and the want of mortification, a virtue without which life can not be truly holy. In conclusion, the luster of our daily works is stained, and the robe of our soul discolored by our carelessness in preventing temptations from approaching us, or by our sloth in banishing them as soon as they draw nigh.

What a subject for self-examination is all I have just said to yon, my dear listener! How many imperfections, think you, blemish the record of your good works?

As St. Ignatius assures us, the means of freeing ourselves from these imperfections lie in the unremitting exercise of particular examination, or the so-called special daily examine of conscience. Resolve that, from today, you will examine earnestly and faithfully your conscience, and will choose, as subject of your examine, one after the other, all the points I have placed before you. Then the robes of your good works, gradually cleansed from all imperfection, will become more and more white, until you will shine, clothed in most radiant garments, in the community of the saints! Amen!

“Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles.” Matt. 17.

We are admonished by the transfiguration of Christ upon Mount Tabor, that we who have been enlightened by the Saviour, instructed by His Word, guided and encouraged by His example, must not be satisfied with living as a man among men a purely human life. Destined, as we are, for a supernatural aim and end, we must endeavor to lead here upon earth the life of the blessed, in heaven, the life of angels, in accordance with the words of the great Apostle: “But our conversation is in heaven.” And further, we must live in this world, shrouded in the night of sin, in such a manner as to become a light to others.

If we live thus, we shall secure, even in this world, genuine happiness; and we shall be intensely happy if we make our spiritual abode in the three places which, as I conceive, figure the three tabernacles that St. Peter wished to build upon Mount Tabor. These, if we are in earnest, are here upon earth in our possession, in the sanctuary of the Church.

They are: The pulpit, the confessional the altar. In today’s sermon I shall explain the manner in which I conceive this. O Mary, thou who art first among the saints, obtain for us that we may dwell joyfully in those three places in the sanctuary of the Almighty, from which the stream of heavenly bliss flows upon the world. I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

The first tabernacle, or the first place to which I point, in the sanctuary of God, and which, if we properly dwell therein, will prompt us to say, with the Apostle: It is good for us to be here; is not the tabernacle of Moses the Christian pulpit, or meditation upon the divine Word? Christ Himself has said: “Blessed are those who hear and keep the Word of God.” And again: “Those who are; of God will hear his word.” The Gospel tells us how Mary Magdalene thirsted to hear the words of Christ, and how she forgot all else in the joy of sitting at his feet and listening to Him.

It is certainly a good sign when a Christian loves to hear the Word of God as it is expounded in the churches every Sunday and holyday; but this is not enough, and no child of the Church should be content with merely this. He should not rest until he is thoroughly instructed in all the doctrines of his faith, in the entire science of salvation, in order not only to know his faith, but to regulate his life in accordance with its precepts. He must take the truths of faith to heart, and enter into the spirit of contemplation, of true heart-felt prayer. To meditate upon the Word of God, to hold communion with Him, should be regarded as the most important occupation of our life. To hear God’s Word, as it were, from His own mouth, unites us to Him personally. Thrice blessed lot, if, as St. John of the Cross says, our life in faith through prayerful communion with God allow us, even here upon earth, to taste the joys of heaven, as did so many of the saints. The soul who experiences this may well exclaim: It is good for us to be here!

The place in the sanctuary of God which I liken unto the second tabernacle of Elias is the confessional. If a Christian is determined to walk in the path of holiness, he will, of his own free will, approach often the Sacrament of Penance. He will confess his sins, and strive to cleanse himself from the dust of daily imperfections, in order to secure for himself an abundance of actual graces, and thus increase sanctifying grace, which augments the splendor of our transfiguration into a likeness with God.

Every Christian who does this with the burning zeal of an Elias, and who is filled with the desire of making progress upon the path of perfection, will have reason to rejoice, and will feel at rest and secure, be cause his humble submission to the minister of Christ the confessor has freed him from the danger of being deceived by the wiles of Satan.

The more at rest the heart is, the surer is it to fulfill the most holy will of God, and the more courageous and determined the soul is to traverse the path that leads to heaven. She has cause to exclaim, comforted by the sight of the confessional: It is good to be here!

The third place to which I refer in the sanctuary of God is the Altar the tabernacle and shrine of Christ, where He really and personally dwells among us.

From this shrine issues the word which Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman: If thou didst know the gift of God, and who He is who speaketh to thee! The Samaritan woman did not know. We do. What exultations, therefore, should every Christian feel when he thinks of the happiness of being so near Jesus, of speaking to Him, yea, even of taking Him to his heart! There are, in this regard, three circumstances which heighten this happiness.

First. Christ is near me and with me; I can go to Him, go to the tabernacle, where He dwells, as often as I wish! O what happiness! Who does not envy Mary the happiness which was bestowed upon her, in the privilege of dwelling for thirty years under the same roof with Christ!

As children of the Church, in the quiet of the house of God, where Christ dwells in the Most Holy Sacrament, we partake of this happiness. Yes, we possess one advantage. Even Mary could not speak to Jesus as often as she liked, at all times. Jesus worked by the side of His foster-father Joseph, and at such times could not speak to His mother. Here, in the tabernacle, Jesus is ready at every moment of the day or night to listen to us, to speak to us, and to bestow graces upon us.

Christ sacrifices Himself for me upon the altar! I have the grace to assist at the sacrifice which He offered for me upon the cross! O what happiness! Especially, as the sacrifice upon the cross was offered but once, while that upon the altar is renewed as often as Mass is read. And still more, by Holy Communion I am permitted to receive Him into my heart, body and soul, as God and Man, to be transformed into Him! O what happiness!

It is by this means that I shall know Him personally, that I shall love Him; and, if this is accomplished, then I shall have, with St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa, and all the saints, a foretaste of the infinite happiness which Christ has prepared for us in heaven.

How well for all believing Christians it would be, if they benefited by the presence of Christ, upon the altar, in the tabernacle! Where could a human being be found, be it man or woman, youth or maiden, who, visiting the Blessed Sacrament daily, hearing Mass daily, receiving Holy Communion frequently, and showing, by his gratefulness, that a love like that of St. John for Christ filled his heart, would not prove himself a Christian in the fullest sense of the term, and for whose salvation we would have no cause to fear.

Let us, therefore, resolve to benefit by these three holy places in the sanctuary of God’s Church, and we shall, with grateful hearts, exclaim to the Lord: It is good to be here! Amen!

Source: http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/


First Sunday in #Lent by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

5 March 2017

From the website, Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Then Jesus said to him: Be gone, Satan!”–Matt. 4 : 10.

There is but one evil, and that is sin. This evil has many different paths by which it approaches us. These paths are called temptations. It is true that of themselves temptations can not injure us. On the contrary, Holy Writ says: “Blessed is the man that endureth, for when he hath been proved he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him.” All depends upon our withstanding them, and to be able to do this we must heed the admonition of Christ, we must watch and especially guard ourselves against those temptations through which Satan most frequently approaches man.

There are in particular three temptations to which today’s Gospel refers, and to which a large portion of mankind fall victims; the three temptations, namely, with which Satan dared to tempt Christ, our Lord, Himself.

Let us see, today, what sort of temptations these are. Mary, thou mighty stronghold against the hosts of the tempter, give us thy assistance, that we may come forth victorious from the fight! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

And the tempter approaching Him, said: “Command that these stones be made bread!” To what temptation do these words refer? I say to that temptation with which Satan assaults man when he enters upon life–the immoderate care for the goods of this world. It is the temptation of excessive labor, and anxiety after a business profession in order to gain a position in society. Yes, for a great number, even for many who otherwise seem to live piously, this is the net which entangles them in numberless temptations.

This regard for the world frequently causes men to forget their last aim and end. Instead of thinking only of what is requisite; for salvation, and pursuing it with their whole heart and the entire strength of their will, they live altogether for earthly things, and think seriously of nothing else. This worldly care extinguishes all their longing after perfection, and causes them to neglect those means of divine grace which are placed within their reach.

The man who is a prey to this inordinate care begins the day without prayer, and without a right intention; he neglects Mass, pious reading, and the holy Sacraments. His excuse is that his business leaves him no time for devotion, while in his intercourse with the world temptations approach him by countless roads. He hopes to satisfy the cravings of his heart with temporal wealth and pleasures; he expects to change the hard and tasteless stones of worldly enjoyment into bread which will nourish his soul but he is mistaken.

These perverse sentiments of the heart open wide the gate to all kinds of temptations; egotism, envy, anger, enmity, intemperance, deceit and injustice enter, and the wretched man endeavors to serve two masters, God and the world. But the world, at last, completely ensnares him, and, instead of conquering temptation, he is vanquished by it.

Satan said to Jesus after he had carried Him to the pinnacle of the temple: “Cast thyself down !” To what temptation do these words refer? To that dangerous state of the heart which causes man through presumption to fall a victim of his own foolhardiness.

And how? He neither fears God, nor the possibility of committing sin; he trusts in himself too much, and thinks that there is no danger of his swerving from the right path, and, while thus feeling secure, instead of avoiding temptation, he runs into it.

To this class of tempted persons belong those who are satisfied with being nominal children of the true Church, and who think that, because they are members of that Church out of whose pale there is no salvation, they will, without doubt, gain heaven. In a word, they are strangers to that fear of which St. Paul speaks when he says: “Work your salvation with fear and trembling.” To such people Satan need not go, they themselves seek him!

To this class belong also those who, in the selection of their place of business or their home, pay no attention to facilities for hearing Mass and receiving the Sacraments.

Finally, to this class belong those who are addicted to drinking, visiting bar-rooms, gambling; those who think only of pleasure, frequent dangerous company, read immoral books, and imagine that all this, in reality, has no evil consequences, and will not lead them into sin. Woe to these! They love the danger and will perish in it.

Lastly, Satan showed to Christ from the summit of a mountain all the kingdoms of the world, and said to Him: “All these will I give Thee if, falling down, thou wilt adore me.” What temptation is this? It is the temptation of self-love, of vanity, of pride in all its forms, a sin which deprives even virtuous actions of their merit. It is that self-adoration which causes man, even in a life devoted to piety, to seek more his own honor than the honor of God.

And yet how small, how trivial, is the honor which the world can give to man. Even were it to bestow all its glory and applause; how infinitely small would this be, when compared to God and the kingdom which He has promised and will give us! Those who are convinced of this truth will doubtless meet the tempter with an energetic: “Be gone!”

But it is in this determination, in this energy, that man is most deficient. Were this not the case, did he not waver, Satan would not hope, by again and again renewing his temptations, to succeed in the end; he would not even dare to tempt us. He knows well that he can do us no harm by tempting us, provided we remain firm, but that, on the contrary, he would only give us occasions to merit and adorn our crown of victory with jewels of virtue. St. Ignatius says: “Courage on our part discourages Satan.” If, however, he sees that we are in the least inclined to yield, then he is most persevering, and, tempting us again and again, attacks us on all sides and in all possible ways. Perceiving that he does not succeed in one attempt and through the instrumentality of one person, he makes a second attempt and seeks more efficient auxiliaries. He knows from experience how to undermine the foundation of great virtues and destroy them.

The one thing which frightens him and causes him to retreat is a decided: “Be gone!” In order, however, to feel strong and resolute, we must think daily and continually on the certainty of death, and on judgment, which one day will decide whether we are to dwell for evermore in heaven or in hell. If in temptation we turn to our crucified Saviour, and, making the sign of the cross, call on Jesus with the lips and the heart, Satan will flee, victory will be ours, and angels approaching us will console us with sweet thoughts of heaven! Amen!

“And the tempter coming, said to Him.”–Matt. 4 : 3.

God wills that all men should be saved, as St. Paul assures us, and Lent reminds us emphatically of the truth of these words. Many of the mysteries of the life of Christ, to which the Church refers during Lent in the Gospels at Mass, are evidences that Christ came into the world to teach men how to live in order to gain salvation, especially the mysteries of His apostolic life, which ended with His suffering and death upon the cross.

God, it is true, allows Satan to tempt us, but only in order to prove our fidelity, and to recompense us the more in the world to come. If men fail in this trial of liberty, then they have not employed the means God offers them to issue victorious from the strife. What means are these? A glance at the manner in which the: Church observes Lent will answer this question.

Mary, Mother of the elect, pray for us that we may be of the number of those who stand victoriously the test of temptation! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

At the commencement of Lent the Church puts ashes upon the heads of her children, saying: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and that into dust thou shalt return.” The Church desires to keep the thought of the certainty and proximity of death alive in the hearts of her children. One of the chief reasons why so many souls, though ransomed by the blood of Christ, are lost, is their incomprehensible forgetfulness of death. If all men possessed that consciousness of death of which the Apostle speaks, and remembered its certainty, its nearness, they would never be lost for eternity. What is it that generally leads men into temptation and takes from them all strength and courage to withstand it?

His sinful inclinations, his desire for the goods, honors, and pleasures of this world, together with the forgetfulness of the certainty and nearness of death. Oh, that all men would each morning put ashes on their heads in spirit, and repeat the words of the Church on Ash Wednesday: Remember that thou art dust, and that to dust thou shalt return. Think that this day is perhaps your last! How many of those who in the morning go bright and happy to their labor, are brought home at night corpses! If this should be the case with you, what then? As ashes placed upon burning coals deaden and even extinguish their glow, so this recollection will reduce and stifle the fire of passion.

If men would occasionally take a solitary ramble in some cemetery, and thus awaken within themselves the recollection of the certainty and nearness of death, they would gain strength for the fight against temptations of selfishness, ambition, and worldliness. How wealth, honors, and pleasures lose their attraction in the silent cities of the dead! Smoke they are and vapor, viewed from the brink of the grave.

Is it not astonishing to see how anxious men are to render their condition in life as favorable to ease and comfort as possible, how careful they are to evade anything that might endanger their welfare in this world? They never give a thought to the shortness and uncertainty of this life, to the dangers that always hang over their heads; they do not consider that daily and hourly men die, and that soon they, too, must say to themselves: My turn has come.

They hear and know that nothing is so sure, nothing as inevitable as death, and yet as a saint of latter times, the blessed Hofbauer, whose canonization is now in progress, said: “Men know that they must die, and yet they do not believe it, but live as if this life were the only one they would ever possess, the only one for which they need care. Hence their negligence in all that pertains to their salvation, and hence also their eternal destruction.”

The Church requires her children during Lent to mortify themselves by observing the laws prescribed for this season. She not only demands of them to abstain from meat and partake of only one meal a day, but she desires above all to awaken and strengthen in their hearts the spirit of self-abnegation. Holy Writ says: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” To conduct it properly and victoriously we must follow the admonition of Christ and mortify our selves.

The second cause of so many being lost is the want of the true spirit of repentance, and self-humiliation. Christ sent His Apostles as missionaries into the world with this message: Tell the people that if they do not repent they shall all perish. And St. Paul says: “And they who are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences.” Man craves happiness; while here below he wishes to enjoy the pleasures of an earthly paradise, and hopes one day to share, besides, the joys of heaven.

How many there are to whom the reproach of the Apostle may be justly addressed: “Whose god is their belly!” The desire of pleasure and excitement leads man into temptation, and causes him to indulge sinful inclinations, to commit mortal sin, and so lose eternal life.

The Church exhorts her children to live in retirement and meditation during Lent, and to devote more time to prayer and religious exercises. Why are so many souls lost even among the children of the Church? I answer, because they have not the spirit of prayer and contemplation, because they have not recourse to pious books for holy thoughts. Men live thoughtlessly, and do not take time to say a daily prayer or think with recollected minds of God and the eternal truth of His Word. They do not reflect or meditate upon what they believe. They do not reduce to practice the teachings of their faith, but live, although members of the Church, like Pagans. It is for this reason that Christians as well as heathens are lost. Jeremias has said: “With desolation is the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart.” Would to God that this reproach could not be referred to Christians!

St. Teresa says: “I fear not for a soul who prays.” But how few really pray while they are going through their devotions! Only too many deserve the reproach of the Lord: “This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” We either pray not at all, or fail in the manner, frequency, and perseverance of our aspirations to God, especially in time of temptation. Hence so many are powerless to resist the attacks of passion, and miserably fall.

The Church desires that her children, during Lent, should frequently and attentively hear the word of God and endeavor to profit by it. All, however, do not listen to her. But too many read their reproach and their condemnation in the words of Christ to the Jews. Christ Himself reproaches them, saying: “You hear not the words of God, because you are not of God.”

There are many Christians who, throughout the year, never hear a sermon, or who, if they hear one, listen to it not as to the word of God, and as if God Himself were addressing them, but regard it merely in its human element; hence their indifference to profit by it for the life to come, and hence also their eternal destruction.

The Church wishes her children to meditate, especially during Lent, upon the passion and death of Christ, in order that the love of the cross may fill their hearts. Christ says: “He who will follow me must take up his cross daily;” and the Holy Ghost: “In your patience you shall possess your souls.”

How many Christians neither love nor esteem the cross! yet they must endure the trials and afflictions of life. Their aversion to suffering only makes their burden heavier and more irksome. Murmuring against the decrees of Providence, they carry their cross as did the thief who was crucified at the left of our Lord. They forget that they can only enter the abode of the blessed by following Christ who walked before us the road of the cross to open for us the gates of heaven. Hence their weakness and faithlessness under trials and tribulations; hence, too, their eternal destruction.

The Church further desires her children during Lent to confess their sins and receive the Most Blessed Sacrament devoutly and worthily. That all do not comply with this wish, is evident from the fact, that the Church, to our great shame, has been obliged to give the following precept: “Confess your sins at least once a year to a priest duly authorized, and receive holy Communion at Easter or thereabout.”

They are in the greatest danger of making it the occasion of still greater evil. People who can only be prevailed upon by the most positive order to have recourse to the Sacraments, run a great risk of receiving them unworthily. Human respect may drive them to the confessional and the holy table:, but the chances are that they return from them more wicked, more laden with guilt than before.

Were the children of the Church to receive the Sacraments frequently and worthily, the consoling words of Christ would be fulfilled in them: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life;” he “abideth in Me and I in him.” Yet how many men neglect to receive the blessed Sacrament, or else receive it without preparation or unworthily. This is the cause of the loss of many souls among Christians. Therefore, let us live, not only during Lent, but all our days, in the spirit in which the Church observes Lent, and let us practise those pious exercises which she recommends in order that after the Good-Friday of our life here below, we may celebrate Easter in the joys of life everlasting! Amen!


Ash Wednesday: Missa ‘Misereris Omnium’ Link to LIVE EF Mass 9AM EST with Propers

1 March 2017


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The Propers follow the link below for the Extraordinary Form Mass offered LIVE online by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

LIVE Link to the Ash Wednesday Mass at Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, Sarasota, Florida: Please click HERE

“The LIVE Mass that streams to LIveMass.net is actively taking place in Sarasota, Florida. At all times the screen will remain blank until ten minutes before the scheduled Mass. Mass times are Sunday (Low Mass) at 8:30 a.m. EST. The High Mass is at 10:30 a.m. EST. All other times the screen will remain blank. The Daily Mass schedule is Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. EST and Tuesday and Friday evening an additional daily Mass at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Recollection of the Confraternity of Saint Peter takes place also on the 2nd Friday of the month at 6:30 P.M. EST.” from the website of livemass.net

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Ash Wednesday

Purple

1st Class Feria

[STATION AT ST. SABINA]

Blessing of the Ashes

Before the Mass, the ashes obtained by burning the branches of olive and other trees blessed the preceding year, are now blessed. When None has been said in choir, the priest, vested in alb, stole, and purple cope, stands at the epistle corner of the altar, on which is placed a vessel containing the ashes to be blessed. The choir sings the following antiphon:

ANTIPHON ¤ Ps. 68.17

Exaudi nos, Domine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua: et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum repice nos, Domine. — Salvum me fac, Deus: quoniam intraverunt aquae usque ad animam meam. V.: Gloria Patri . . . — Exaudi nos, Domine . . . Hear us, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind: look upon us, O Lord, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. — (Ps. 68. 2). Save me, O God: for the waters are come in even unto my soul. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . — Hear us, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind . . .

Afterwards the priest, standing at the epistle side, without turning towards the people, with his hands joined, says:

V.: Dominus vobiscum. V.: The Lord be with you.

R.: Et cum spiritu tuo. R.: And with thy spirit.

Oremus. — Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, parce paenitentibus, propitiare supplicantibus, et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de caelis, qui bene†dicat, et sancti†ficet hos cineres, ut sint remedium salubre omnibus nomen sanctum tuum humiliter implorantibus, ac semetipsos pro conscientia delictorum suorum accusantibus, ante conspectum divinae clementiae tuae facinora sua deplorantibus, vel serenissimam pietatem tuam suppliciter, obnixeque flagitantibus: et praesta per invocationem sanctissimi nominis tui; ut quicumque per eos aspersi fuerint, pro redemptione peccatorum suorum, corporis sanitatem, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R.: Amen. Let us pray. — O almighty and everlasting God, spare those who are penitent, be merciful to those who implore Thee; and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to bless † and hal†low these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who humbly implore Thy holy Name, and who accuse themselves, conscious of their sins, deploring their crimes before Thy divine mercy, or humbly and earnestly beseeching Thy sovereign goodness: and grant through the invocation of Thy most holy Name that whosoever shall be sprinkled with them for the remission of their sins may receive both health of body and safety of soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

Oremus. — Deus, qui non mortem, sed paenitentiam desideras peccatorum: fragilitatem conditionis humanae benignissime respice; et hos cineres, quos causa proferendae humilitatis, atque promerendae veniae, capitibus nostris imponi decernimus, bene†dicere pro tua pietate dignare: ut, qui nos cinerem esse, et ob pravitatis nostrae demeritum in pulverem reversuros cognoscimus; peccatorum omnium veniam, et praemia paenitentibus repromissa, misericorditer consequi mereamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R.: Amen. Let us pray. — O God, who desirest not the death, but the repentance of sinners, look down most graciously upon the frailty of human nature; and in Thy goodness vouchsafe to bless † these ashes which we purpose to put opon our heads in token of our lowliness and to obtain forgiveness: so that we who know that we are but ashes, and for the demerits of our wickedness are to return to dust, may deserve to obtain of Thy mercy, the pardon of all our sins, and the rewards promised to the penitent. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

Oremus. — Deus, qui humiliatione flecteris, et satisfactione placaris: aurem tuae pietatis inclina precibus nostris; et capitibus servorum tuorum, horum cinerum aspersione contactis, effunde propitius gratiam tuae benedictionis: ut eos et spiritu compunctionis repleas, et quae iuste postulaverint, efficaciter tribuas; et concessa perpetuo stabilita, et intacta manere decernas. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R.: Amen. Let us pray. — O God, who art moved by humiliation, and appeased by satisfaction: incline the ear of Thy goodness to our prayers and mercifully pour forth upon the heads of Thy servants sprinkled with these ashes the grace of Thy blessing: that Thou mayest both fill them with the spirit of compunction, and effectually grant what they have justly prayed for: and ordain that what Thou hast granted may be permanently established and remain unchanged. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

Oremus. — Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui Ninivitis in cinere et cilicio paenitentibus, indulgentiae tuae remedia praestitisti: concede propitius; ut sic eos imitemur habitu, quatenus veniae prosequamur obtentu. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R.: Amen. Let us pray. — O almighty and everlasting God, who didst vouchsafe Thy healing pardon to the Ninivites doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, mercifully grant that we may so imitate them in our outward attitude as to follow them in obtaining forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord .. .

R.: Amen.

The priest then sprinkles the ashes thrice with holy water, singing the anthem Asperges me . . . and incenses them thrice. After which, having first received the ashes on his own head, from the highest in dignity of the clergy, he proceeds to place them, in the form of across, on the heads or foreheads of the clergy and people, saying to each:

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris. (Gen. 3. 19) Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Meanwhile the choir sings the following anthems and responses:

ANTIPHON ¤ Joel 2. 13

Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio: ieiunemus, et ploremus ante Dominum: quia multum misericors est dimittere peccata nostra Deus noster. Let us change our garments for ashes and sackcloth: let us fast and lament before the Lord: for plenteous in mercy is our God to forgive our sins.

ANOTHER ANTIPHON ¤ Joel 2. 17

Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne claudas ora canentium te, Domine. Between the porch and the altar, the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy People: and close not the mouths of them that sing to Thee, O Lord.

RESPONSE ¤ Esther 13; Joel 2

R.: Emendemus in melius, quae ignoranter peccavimus: ne subito praeoccupati die mortis, quaeramus spatium poenitentiae, et invenire non possimus. * Attende, Domine, et miserere: quia peccavimus tibi. R.: Let us amend for the better in those things in which we have sinned through ignorance; lest suddenly overtaken by the day of death, we seek space for repentance and are not able to find it. * Attend, O Lord, and have mercy: for we have sinned against Thee.

V.: Adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster: et propter honorem nominis tui, Domine, libera nos. * Attende, Domine. V.: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Attende . . . V.: (Ps. 78. 9). Help us, O God, our savior: and for the glory of Thy Name, O Lord, deliver us. * Attend, O Lord . . . V.: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. * Attend . . .

When all have received the ashes, the priest says:

V.: Dominus vobiscum. V.: The Lord be with you.

R.: Et cum spiritu tuo. R.: And with thy spirit.

Oremus. — Concede nobis, Domine, praesidia militiae christianae sanctis inchoare ieiuniis: ut contra spiritales nequitias pugnaturi continentiae muniamur auxiliis. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R.: Amen. Let us pray. — Grant us, O Lord, to begin with holy fasts the campaign of our Christian warfare: that, as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of self-denial. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

 

 

Holy Mass

INTROIT ¤ Wisdom 11. 24, 25, 27

Misereris omnium, Domine, et nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti, dissimulans peccata hominum propter poenitentiam et parcens illis: quia tu es Dominus Deus noster. — Miserere mei, Deus, miserere mei: quoniam inte confidit anima mea. V.: Gloria Patri . . . — Misereris omnium, Domine . . . Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made, overlooking the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them: because Thou art the Lord our God. — (Ps. 56. 2). Have mery on me, O God, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in Thee. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . — Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord . . .

The Gloria in Excelsis is not said until Maundy Thursday.

COLLECT

Praesta Domine fidelibus tuis: ut ieiuniorum veneranda solemnia, et congrua pietate suscipiant, et secura devotione percurrant. Per Dominum . . . Grant, O Lord, to Thy faithful people, that they may undertake with fitting piety the venerable solemnities of fasting, and complete them with steadfast devotion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

EPISTLE ¤ Joel 2. 12-19

Lesson from the Prophet Joel.

Lectio Ioelis Prophetae.

[Almighty God is rich in mercy and clemency to those who are converted to Him in fasting, in weeping and in mourning.]

Haec dicit Dominus: Convertimini ad me in toto corde vestro, in ieiunio, et in fletu, et in planctu. Et scindite corda vestra, et non vestimenta vestra, et convertimini ad Dominum Deum vestrum: quia benignus et misericors est, patiens, et multae misericordiae, et praestabilis super malitia. Quis scit, si convertatur, et ignoscat, et relinquat post se benedictionem, sacrificiam, et libamen Domino Deo vestro? Canite tuba in Sion, sanctificate ieiunium, vocate coetum, congregate populum, sanctificate Ecclesiam, coadunate senes, congregate parvulos, et sugentes ubera: egrediatur sponsus de cubili suo, et sponsa de thalamo suo. Inter vestibulum et altare plorabunt sacerdotes ministri Domini, et dicent: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: et ne des haereditatem tuam in opprobrium, ut dominentur eis nationes. Quare dicunt in populis: Ubi est Deus eorum? Zelatus est Dominus terram suam, et pepercit populo suo. Et respondit Dominus, et dixit populo suo: Ecce ego mittam vobis frumentum, et vinum, et oleum, et replebimini eis: et non dabo vos ultra opprobrium in gentibus: dicit Dominus omnipotens. Thus saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your heats and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but He will return and forgive and leave a blessing behind Him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the Church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed and the bride out of her bride chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people; and give not Thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for His land, and hath spared His people. And the Lord answered and said to His people: behold I will send you corn and wine and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations: saith the Lord almighty.

GRADUAL ¤ Ps. 56. 2, 4

Miserere mei, Deus, miserere mei: quoniam in te confidit anima mea. V.: Misit de coelo, et liberavit me: dedit in opprobrium conculcantes me. Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in Thee. V.: He hath sent from heaven and delivered me: He hath made them a reproach that trod upon me.

TRACT ¤ Ps. 102, 10

Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, quae fecimus nos: neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis. V.: Domine, ne memineris iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum, cito anticipent nos misericordiae tuae: quia pauperes facti sumus nimis. O Lord, repay us not according to the sins we have committed, nor according to our iniquities. V.: (Ps. 78. 8, 9) O Lord, remember not our former iniquities, let Thy mercies speedily prevent us: for we are become exceeding poor.

V.: Adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster: et propter gloriam nominis tui, Domine, libera nos: et propitius esto peccatis nostris, propter nomen tuum. [Here kneel.]

V.: Help us, O God, our Savior: and for the glory of Thy Name, O Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins for Thy Name’s sake1

GOSPEL ¤ Matth. 6. 16-21

† Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

† Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.

[It is not our garments that we shuld rend as a sign of sorrow, as the Pharisees did, but rather our hearts, for it is not to men that we should appear to fast, but to our Father, who sees into the secret place of our souls, and who will repay us.]

In illo tempore: Dixit Iesus discipulis suis: Cum ieiunatis, nolite fieri sicut hypocritae, tristes. Exterminant enim facies suas, ut appareant hominibus ieiunantes. Amen dico vobis, quia receperunt mercedem suam. Tu autem, cum ieiunas, unge caput tuum, et faciem tuam lava, ne videaris hominibus ieiunans, sed Patri tuo, qui est in abscondito: et Pater tuus, qui videt in abscondito, reddet tibi. Nolite thesaurizare vobis thesauros in erra: ubi aerugo, et tinea demolitur: et ubi fures effodiunt, et furantur. Thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in caelo: ubi neque aurugo, neque tinea demolitur; et ubi fures non effodiunt, nec furantur. Ubi enim est thesaurus tuus, ibi est et cor tuum. At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their face, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay Thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

OFFERTORY ¤ Ps. 29. 2, 3

Exaltabo te, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me, nec delectasti inimicos meos super me: Domine, clamavi ad te, et sanasti me. I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me, and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me: O Lord, I have cried to Thee, and Thou hast healed me.

SECRET

Fac nos, quaesumus Domine, his muneribus offerendis convenienter aptari: quibus ipsius venerabilis sacramenti celebramus exordium. Per Dominum . . . Fit us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to offer worthily these gifts, by which we celebrate the opening of this venerable Mystery. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

PREFACE

Preface for Lent

Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui corporali ieiunio vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, virtutem largiris et praemia: per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Coeli, coelorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who by this bodily fast, dost curb our vices, dost lift up our minds and bestow on us strength and rewards; through Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:

COMMUNION ¤ Ps. 77. 29, 30

Qui meditabitur in lege Domini die ad nocte, davit fructum suum in tempore suo. He that shall meditate day and night on the law of the Lord, shall bring forth his fruit in due season.

POSTCOMMUNION

Percepta nobis, Domine, praebeant sacramenta subsidium: ut tibi grata sint nostra ieiunia, et nobis proficiant ad medelam. Per Dominum . . . May the Sacraments we have received afford us help, O Lord, that our fasts may be pleasing unto Thee, and profitable unto us for healing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth . . .

PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE

Oremus. Humiliate capita vestra Deo. — Inclinantes se, Domine, maiestati tuae, propitiatus intende: ut qui divino munere sunt refecti, caelestibus semper nutriantur auxiliis. Per Dominum . . . Let us pray. Bow down your heads before God. — Look graciously, O Lord, upon us who bow down before Thy majesty: that we who have been refreshed by Thy divine Gift may ever be sustained by Thy heavenly aids. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son . . .

Indulgence of 500 days. — Plenary, under the usual conditions, if this invocation is daily recited during a month.


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