Goffine's Devout Instructions/part1
INSTRUCTIONS ON THE EPISTLES AND GOSPELS.
THE SUNDAYS OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR.
The Ecclesiastical Year.
What is the ecclesiastical year?
The ecclesiastical year is the order of seasons and holy- days, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and ending with the last Sunday after Pentecost, during which the Catholic Church commemorates in her public worship the mysteries and events of redemption.
Which are the chief holy-days and seasons of the ecclesiastical year?
The holy seasons are:
1. Christmas, for which Advent is the preparation.
2. Easter, for which Lent is the preparation.
3. Pentecost, extending to the first Sunday in Advent. "What does the Church commemorate at Christmas?
The infinite love of God the Father, Who, according to His promise, sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem mankind. This holy season begins with the first Sunday in Advent, and ends with the sixth Sunday after Epiphany.
What does the Church commemorate at Easter?
The infinite love of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who, by His life, His works, His passion, death, and resurrection, accomplished our redemption, and then ascended into heaven there to be our mediator. This holy season begins with Septuagesima Sunday, and ends at the vigil of Pentecost.
What does the Church commemorate at Pentecost?
The infinite love of God the Holy Ghost, Who imparts to the faithful the fruits of the redemption purchased for them by Christ. This holy season begins with Pentecost Sunday, and ends with the last Sunday after Pentecost.
How is the ecclesiastical year divided?
The ecclesiastical year is divided into :
1. The fifty-two Sundays. 2. The week-days. 3. The feasts. 4. The fast-days.
What is Sunday?
Sunday, also called the Lord s Day, is the first day of the week.
Why has God reserved to Himself one day in each week?
In order that man should rest from work at least one day out of the seven, and dedicate it to the special service of God, and to the salvation of his own soul.
Why do we Christians keep Sunday as a holy- day instead of Saturday, which was the day observed under the Old Law?
The apostles kept Sunday, the first day of the week, as a holy-day for these reasons: 1. As the Sabbath was a memorial of the consummation of the work of the creation, so the Sunday was to remind us of the consummation of the redemption. 2. On that day Our Lord arose from the dead. 3. On that day the Holy Ghost descended on the apostles. 4. To intimate that a new dispensation took the place of the old; and the diver sity of the time of divine worship drew a line of distinction between Christians and Jews.
How should we spend Sunday?
As the design of its institution requires; that is, holily.
How is Sunday kept holy?
Sunday is kept holy by abstaining from servile labor, and by works of piety, such as hearing Mass with devotion, listening to a sermon, receiving Christian instruction, reading good books, visiting the sick, or other works of spiritual or corporal mercy. How is Sunday profaned?
Sunday is profaned by unnecessary servile labor ; by neglecting to hear Mass; by intemperance and idleness; by spending the day in frivolous, dangerous, and sinful pleasures; and in general by sinful acts.
O God, Who hast appointed Sunday that on that day we should serve Thee, and make ourselves partakers of Thy grace, grant that we may always on that day renew our faith, and be incited to the praise and adoration of Thy majesty. Through, etc.
Feast-days and Holy-days
What are feasts and holy-days?
Days on which the Church celebrates either certain mysteries of religion, or some passage in the life of Our Lord, or the memory of the saints.
Why has the Church established these holy-days?
She has instituted the feasts of Our Lord that we may be led to remember God s love and mercy to ward us; to meditate upon the mysteries, truths, and benefits of the Christian religion; and to contemplate Jesus as the perfect pattern of a Christian life, On the feasts of the saints our minds are directed to those heroes of Christianity, that we may keep in veneration the lives of the friends of God, and be encouraged to imitate their example.
Has the Church authority to establish holy-days?
Certainly; for the power which Jesus Christ gave to His apostles and their successors to bind and to loose upon earth includes the power to make laws and regulations for the salvation of the faithful. There is warrant for it, too, in the Old Law, for under that dispensation the Jews celebrated the Pasch, or Easter, to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage; Pentecost to thank God for the Ten Commandments of the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai; the feast of Tabernacles in commemoration of the forty years journeying through the wilderness.
Which are the holy-days of obligation?
The Circumcision of Our Lord, Ascension Day, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, All Saints Day, the ImmaculateConception, and Christmas.
What are fast-days?
Those days on which we are allowed but one full meal, in order to present to God a sacrifice of mortification.
Which are fast-days and which days of abstinence?
Those days on which it is permitted to eat but one full meal are fast-days of obligation. Days on which we are forbidden to eat flesh-meat, but are allowed the usual number of meals, are days of abstinence.
Why has the Church appointed fast-days?
In order that her children should, by fasting, mortify the flesh, and overcome sensual inclinations; that by doing penance they should make satisfaction for sin and become reconciled to God; that they should become more fervent in prayer; that by conquering their lusts they should gain greater strength for God's service; that by denying themselves they should have more for the poor; and that by despising worldly pleasures they should learn to desire only the things of heaven.
Which are the principal fast-days?
1. The forty days of Lent. 2. The ember-days. 3. The vigils or eves of festivals. 4. The Fridays of Advent.
What are the ember-days?
Days instituted to thank God, each season of the year, for the benefits received during that season, and to remind the faithful, each quarter of the year, of the duty of penance; also to pray to God for deserving priests, for on those days the ordination of priests usually takes place.
What are vigils?
The vigils are the days before the feasts. The name means watch, and is taken from the watch-night of the Christians of the first century, who used to pass the night before a feast in the church, with prayer, praise, and fasting. Later this preparation was carried on during the day, instead of the night, and the day was made a fast-day.
Why does the Church command us to abstain from flesh-meat on Friday?
The Church commands us to abstain from flesh-meat on Friday in honor of the day on which Our Saviour died for us. How does the Church sanctify week-days?
By commemorating on. each week-day some divine benefit or the memory of some saint, and by providing for the offering of the holy sacrifice of the Mass, that whosoever can attend may do so. Every Catholic, therefore, ought each day meditate upon some divine truths; hear Mass, if in his power; and without fail say his morning and evening prayers devoutly, that he may be strengthened to perform his daily labors in a manner pleasing to God, and patiently suffer the trials of life, while through all he ascends from virtue to virtue.
What is a blessing?
A blessing is that holy act whereby the Church calls down the divine blessing on persons and things.
Why does the Church bless water, salt, and other things? That the things which she blesses may avail to the spiritual and bodily health of those who use them with devotion.
Is there any warrant in Holy Scripture for this custom?
Yes; we read that Our Saviour Himself blessed little children (St. Mark x. 16), bread, fish (St. Matt. xiv. 19), and other things; and St. Paul tells us: " Every creature of God is sanctified by the word of God and prayer " (i. Tim. iv. 4, 5).
THE BLESSING OF SALT AND OF WATER.
Holy water is usually blessed every Sunday before Mass.
How is this blessing done?
First the salt is blessed with prayer and exorcism, whereby the influence of the evil spirit is broken and God's blessing and protection secured for our souls and bodies. Then the water is blessed in like manner. The salt is then mingled with the water in the name of the Triune God, to show that the sprinkling with holy water may preserve us from the corruption of sin.
For what does the Church use holy water?
To sprinkle the faithful, and everything she blesses and consecrates. According to the words of the prayers, the effects of grace should be, cleansing from venial sin and protection of soul and body against the assaults of the evil spirit.
How should we use holy water? The devout Christian takes holy water not only on entering and leaving the church, but also at home on rising and retiring, going in and going out, and at other times; always beseeching God to cleanse him by the merits of Christ's precious blood, and to protect him from all dangers of soul and body.
What does Advent mean?
Advent means the coming, and is used by the Church to represent the four thousand years of preparation for the coming of the Redeemer, and at the same time points us to His second coming as our judge.
"When is the season of Advent?
The season of Advent comprises the four weeks preceding Christmas.
"When was the first coming of our Redeemer?
When the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was made flesh, to sanctify the world by His coining.
Was a redeemer necessary?
Yes; for all men sinned in Adam, and needed to be reconciled to God.
Could not the just under the Old Law be saved before the coming of Christ?
Yes; through the expectation of Him and through His future merits all might be saved under the Old Law who made themselves worthy of the grace of Christ by innocence and penance, though they could not be admitted to heaven until Our Lord's ascension.
When will be the second coming of Christ? At the end of the world, when Christ will come with great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead.
Why has the Church appointed the holy season of Advent?
1. That we may consider the wretched state of mankind before the coming of Christ, and bring before our minds the mercy of God, Who sent His only-begotten Son down from heaven for our redemption. 2. That we may prepare ourselves worthily for Christmas, that Christ may then enter our hearts in the fulness of His grace, to renew them and to dwell in them. 3. That we may so prepare ourselves for the second advent that He may be to us a merciful judge. " Watch ye, therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come (St. Matt. xxiv. 42).
O God, Who hast brought joy to the world through Thy gracious advent, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace, that we may prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.
First Sunday of Advent
This is the first day of the ecclesiastical year; on it the Church begins to contemplate the coming of Our Saviour, and, with the prophets, to long for Him; she exhorts the faithful to true penance for their sins, which oppose Christ's entrance into their hearts; she sings, therefore, at the Introit of the Mass, in the words of the psalmist: " To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.
Raise up Thy power, O Lord, we pray Thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest, etc. Amen.
EPISTLE. Rom. xiii. 11-14.
Brethren: Knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is understood here by sleep?
Sin, in which man, as if sunk in a torpor, no longer sees the light of the Gospel, no longer hears the warning of his conscience, neglects the means of salvation, and lives without care, until he awakes, alas! too late, as from a dream. What is understood by night and day? By night is to be understood ignorance, infidelity, and sin. The day represents faith, grace, and reconciliation with God.
What are the works of darkness?
All sin, especially that which is unknown to men, but seen and known by God, of Whose grace it deprives us.
What is the armor of light?
It consists in faith, hope, charity, and good works, the spiritual arms with which we have to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
It means that Christians should think, speak, and act like Jesus, adorning themselves by the imitation of Him as with precious garments.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who became man for us, grant that we may in all things comply with the admonitions of this epistle; that we may arise from the slumber of our sins, and walk in the light of grace by the diligent performance of good works, and adorn our souls by putting on Thee, through the imitation of Thy virtues.
GOSPEL. Luke xxi. 25-33.
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world, for the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude: See the fig-tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So you also when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away. "Why does the Church cause this Gospel concerning the Last Judgment to be read to-day?
To prepare our hearts by penance for the coming of Jesus as our judge.
What signs shall precede the Last Judgment? The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give light, the stars shall fall from heaven; the heavens themselves shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with heat, and the earth with all that is in it shall be burned up. At the command of God the world shall be shaken to its centre; fearful tempests shall arise; the sea and wave? shall roar, and wild struggle and destruction take the place of quiet and order. Men shall wither away with fear, not knowing whither to fly. Then shall appear the holy cross, the sign of the Son of man a terror to sinners who have hated it, a consolation to those who have loved it.
How will the Last Judgment begin?
At the command of God the angels, with the sound of the trumpet, shall summon all men to judgment (i. Thess, iv. 15). The bodies and souls of the dead shall be again united, and the wicked shall be separated from the righteous, the just on the right, the wicked on the left (St. Matt. xxv. 33). The angels and the devils will be present, and Christ Himself will appear in a bright cloud with such power and majesty that the wicked, for fear, will not be able to look at Him, but will say to the mountains, "Fall on us," and to the hills, " Cover us" (St. Luke xxiii. 30).
Why will God hold a general and public judgment?
1. That all may know how just He has been in the particular judgment of each one. 2. That justice may at last be rendered to the afflicted and persecuted, while the wicked who have oppressed the poor, the widow, the orphan, the religious, and yet have often passed for upright and devout persons, may be known in their real characters and be forever disgraced. 3. That Jesus Christ may complete His redemption, and openly triumph over His enemies, who shall see the glory of the Crucified, and tremble at His power.
How will the Last Judgment proceed?
The books will be opened, and from them all men will be judged; all their good and bad thoughts, words, and deeds, even the most secret, known only to God, will be revealed before the whole world, and according to their works men will be rewarded or be damned forever. The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting (St. Matt. xxv. 46).
The Church, during the season of Advent, reminds thee, O Christian, of the coming of Christ to judgment, that thou mayest with the more zeal apply thyself to profit by His first coming; for they only will be justified and glorified who have acknowledged and received Him as their Redeemer. Examine thyself, therefore, to-day, and during this week, whether thou hast believed in Him, loved Him, admitted Him into thy heart, and kept His holy commands. Begin at once penance and good works, that thou mayest with confidence await the judgment-day of theLord.
Thou art just, O Lord! and just is Thy judgment. Oh, penetrate my soul with holy fear, that I may be kept from evil deeds, and incited to good works. Would that I could say, with St. Jerome, " Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, it is as if I heard the awful summons of the trumpet, Ye dead, arise, and come to judgment!
Second Sunday of Advent
HAVING taught us on the first Sunday of Advent to sigh with the prophets for the redemption through Christ, the Church on this day reminds us, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, of the joyful promises of God for the salvation of the gentiles, and of Jesus Christ's actual coming, in order to quicken our desire for it, and to produce in us an alacrity in making ready our hearts by penance and love.
For this reason she says in the Introit of the Mass: " People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations, and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart." " Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep." Glory be to the Father, etc.
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Through the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.
EPISTLE. Rom. xv. 4-13.
Brethren: What things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to Thee, O Lord, among the gentiles, and will sing to Thy name. And again He saith: Rejoice, ye gentiles, with His people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye gentiles; and magnify Him, all ye peoples. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and He that shall rise up to rule the gentiles, in Him the gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What are we to learn by this epistle?
To be grateful to God for having called us, by His grace, to the true faith, and for having received us into the bosom of His holy Church. Again, we are taught that by envy, discord, pride, and hatred we lose our salvation. Finally, St. Paul refers us to the Scriptures for instruction.
Why do the Holy Scriptures profit us?
1. They teach, correct, and instruct us in justice, that we may serve God faithfully, and be ever ready for good works. 2. They sustain our patience in suffering, and our hope of eternal life, by many promises, and by the example of Jesus Christ and His saints.
Why is God called the God of patience, comfort, and hope?
1. Because He looks with patience and long-suffering upon our sinful lives. 2. Because He gives us grace to carry our cross with patience and joy, and removes our despair by spiritual consolation. 3. Because He gives us hope that after this life we shall possess Him, the object of our desire.
O God of patience, comfort, and hope, fill our hearts with joy and peace, and grant that we may become perfect in all good works by faith, hope, and charity, and that we may attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL. Matt. xi. 2-10.
At that time: When John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him: Art Thou He that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them: And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
Why was St. John cast into prison?
Because he rebuked King Herod, who was living in adultery with the wife of his stepbrother. This teaches us that we should not be deterred from our duty, though great suffering and misfortune should thereby befall us. Is it not nobler and more profitable to our salvation to be a martyr for truth, as St. John was, rather than to gain favor with the world by timidly looking on, or by deceitful flattery?
Why did St. John send his disciples to Jesus?
St. John sent his disciples to Christ so that they, too, might be convinced that He was the Messias.
Superiors and parents should learn from this to see that their dependents and children are well instructed in the faith.
Why did Christ merely say to the disciples of St. John: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk, etc.?
Because they ought to have been convinced from the miracles He wrought, which were the fulfilment of the prophecies, that He was the promised Messias.
What was the object of the question, " What went you out to see?" which Our Saviour asked?
1. To praise the constancy of St. John, who was not to be deterred from exercising his sacred functions either by the commands of Herod or through fear of imprisonment and death. 2. To approve the austere life of St. John, that we should thereby be encouraged to crucify the flesh and to do penance. Why did Our Saviour say that St. John was more than a prophet?
Because he was destined to see the Messias, to preach to men, and declare Him to be the Saviour of the world. And as he was a messenger of God, to announce the coming of Christ and prepare His way, he was called an angel (Malach. iii. 7).
Why did Jesus add, " Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me "?
On account of those who would be scandalized at His humility, His poverty, His ignominious suffering and death upon the cross, and who would, accordingly, despise and reject Him; although the more He humbled Himself for them the more they ought rather to love and honor Him.
Why does the Church set before us this gospel?
In order that we, like the disciples of St. John, may, by His works, recognize Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and that we may make ourselves worthy of the grace of redemption by doing penance earnestly and firmly, thus preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts.
Consolation in Adversities and Afflictions.
What can and should console us in adversity?
1. A firm belief that everything is ordered by God's wise providence, and that no evil can befall us except by His permission, Who never allows us to suffer more than is for our good. 2. That if we call upon Him in adversity God will help us, whenever it is expedient for our salvation. Thus to encourage us He says, " Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee " (Ps. xlix. 15); and, " If God be for us, who is against us?" (Rom. viii. 31); and " Can a woman forget her infant so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee: behold, I have graven thee in My hands" (Isaias xlix. 15, 16). 3. That it is useless to resist Divine Providence, for all who have done so have been filled with shame and ignominy: " Who hath resisted Him and hath had peace?" (Job ix. 4.) 4. That our sufferings when borne with patience and submission lose their sharpness, and bring us merit and reward. " For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us, above measure exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory (II. Cor. iv. 17).
Third Sunday of Advent.
THE nearer the coming of the Lord the more earnestly the Church calls upon us to rejoice; and to-day, therefore, at the Introit of the Mass, she sings in the words of St. Paul: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous, but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God." (Phil. iv. 4-6.) " Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land; Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob." Glory be to the Father, etc.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, mercifully incline Thine ear unto our prayers, and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy heavenly visitation. Who livest and reignest, etc.
EPISTLE. Phil. iv. 4-7.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?
It means to be glad in remembering the grace by which God called us to the true faith, and gave us the hope of eternal salvation, and to rejoice even in all our tribulations and adversities for the Lord's sake, as St. Paul did (II. Cor. vii. 4). It also admonishes us to give a good example by modesty and an edifying life, and to fix our desires on God, Who will never fail us if we make our wants known to Him by prayer and supplication, and give Him thanks for benefits received.
In what does the peace of God consist?
It consists in a good conscience, such as St. Paul enjoyed. It is this peace, this tranquillity of the soul, which sustained theholy martyrs in their agonies, and consoled others under persecution for Christ's sake (St. Matt. v. 11, 12).
O Lord, grant that Thy peace, which Thou hast given us, and which the world knows not, may keep our hearts and minds in Thee. O wisdom! proceeding from the mouth of the Highest, and reaching to the ends of the world, who governest with power and grace, come and direct us all, that we may walk in the path of wisdom and of the peace which surpasseth all understanding. Amen.
THE BEST REMEDY IN THE HOUR OF SORROW.
In need, sorrow, and dejection the best means to relieve our distressed hearts is humble and confiding prayer, in which we can pour out our hearts before God, and give ourselves up to His love and mercy, as did Anna, the sorrowful mother of Samuel the prophet, Josaphat in painful uncertainty, Susanna falsely accused and condemned to death, and innumerable other servants of God. These all prayed to God and were delivered from their afflictions, receiving help and consolation. St. James therefore admonishes us, " Is any one of you sad? let him pray" (James v. 13); and St. Paul, in the epistle for this Sunday, encourages us not to be solicitous about anything, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let our requests be known to God. Are you, then, sad and discouraged? Lift up your soul to God, and say with David, " Give joy to the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul" (Ps. Ixxxv. 4).
GOSPEL. John i. 19-28.
At that time: The Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said, therefore, unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? what sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood One in the midst of you, Whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, Who is preferred before me: the latchet of Whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Why did the Jews send messengers to John to ask him who he was?
Because his baptizing and preaching, with his life of austerity and penance, made such an impression that the people took him not for an ordinary prophet, but for the Messias Himself.
Why did the messengers ask John whether he was Elias or the prophet?
The Jews believed that either Elias or another of the prophets would return to earth to prepare the way for the coming of Christ; and from St. John's denying that he was the Christ they concluded that he was either Elias or that prophet.
Why did St. John say that he was not that prophet, but only the voice of one crying in the wilderness?
He said so out of humility; but he uttered no untruth, since he was not the prophet predicted by Moses (Deut. xviii. 15), but only u the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaias said (Is. Ix. 3).
How do we make straight the way of the Lord?
By sincere penance, which consists not merely in going to confession, and making hollow resolutions, but in bringing forth fruits worthy of penance (Matt. iii. 8; Luke iii. 8).
How do we bring forth fruits worthy of penance?
If we wish to bring forth fruits worthy of penance, we must endeavor to make amends for what is past, and use all possible means to avoid in future those sins to which we have been most given; we must love and serve God as much as and more than we before loved and served the world.
What was the baptism of John, and what was the effect of it?
It was a baptism of penance, for the forgiveness of sins; thus it was a preparation for the Baptism of Christ, through which sins are actually forgiven, and the Holy Ghost received (Mark i. 4, 5). What are we further taught by this gospel?
We are taught to always speak the truth, like St. John; not to desire to appear more, or better, than we are; and, in particular, to make a good and sincere confession. We should, therefore, before confession often ask ourselves, "Who am I? How do I live? How do I stand before God? How do I deal with my neighbor? "
We learn also from St. John to confess our sins without reserve, neither concealing nor excusing them; above all, we learn to be humble, for although he might have passed for the Messias had he chosen to, he refused that honor, and held him self unworthy to loose the latchet of Christ's shoe.
O Lord, banish from my heart envy, self-love, and pride; give me grace so to know Thee and myself that, in contemplation of Thy majesty, omnipotence, love and wisdom, and other perfections, I may love Thee above all things, and in regarding my own nothingness, misery, and sins may always humble my self before Thee, and be little in my own eyes. Grant also that I may judge my neighbor with justness and tenderness, and love him as myself.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
THE nearer we approach to the coming of Christ the more the Church sighs in her prayers for the Saviour of mankind. She sings, therefore, at the Introit, Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just (Is. xlv. 8); "The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands" (Ps. xviii. 2).
Stir up Thy might, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come and succor us with great power, that, by the help of Thy grace, the indulgence of Thy mercy may accelerate what our sins impede. Who livest, etc.
EPISTLE, i. Cor. iv. 1-5.
Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man's day, but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet I am not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come: Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.
How should priests be regarded by the faithful?
The Church wishes to inspire us with respect and veneration towards priests, who are ministers of Christ, dispensers of the mysteries of God, and advocates of religion. The Scripture says, "Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine" (i. Tim. v. 17). "He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me" (St. Luke x. 16).
Why is this epistle read to-day?
The Church wishes, by pointing to the second advent of Christ, to remind the faithful to avoid judging their neighbors, but to judge themselves, and to cleanse their hearts for the reception of Jesus as our Saviour, that they may not have to shrink from Him when He comes as Judge.
Can priests administer the holy sacraments as they please?
No, for, as the stewards of Jesus Christ, they must observe His will, which is that they should administer the sacraments for the glory of God and the salvation of the faithful. They are not permitted to " give that which is holy unto dogs" (Matt. viii. 6), and cannot, therefore, give absolution, or any sacrament, to those who are unfit, lest they thereby condemn themselves.
Why should they esteem it a small matter to be judged by men?
Because men generally judge by appearances, and not by reality. St. Paul says: " If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. i. 10). But not only priests, the faithful also, must seek to please God more than men. How foolish are they who follow all silly and scandalous fashions in dress, gesture, and manners; who neglect the holy exercises of religion, and ask constantly, " What will the world say?" but never, "What will my God and Saviour say?" if I do this or that.
"Why does St. Paul say, "But neither do I judge my own self"?
Because he could not know how God would judge him, " For man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred (Eccles. ix. 1); therefore he adds, " I am not conscious to my self of anything, yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord." We should, therefore, examine our selves thoroughly whether we are in sin; but if we find nothing in us which displeases God we are not on that account at liberty to think ourselves better than others, for before the mirror of our self-esteem we look quite different to what we are in truth before God, Who cannot be bribed. Oh, how many, who now think themselves innocent and holy, shall appear at the day of judgment stripped of their disguises, and the most secret workings of their hearts revealed by God to their eternal disgrace! This should determine us not to judge before the time, either ourselves or any one else, of whose hearts we must know even less than of our own. " Let us therefore work out our salvation with fear and trembling " (Phil. ii. 12).
O Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight no man living shall be justified (Ps. cxlii. 2).
GOSPEL. Luke iii. 1-6.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled: and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Why is the time at which St. John began to preach so minutely described?
Because in that happy year the prophecy of Jacob was fulfilled, and the sceptre being taken from Juda, the long-expected Messias showed Himself to the world, was baptized by John, and declared by His Heavenly Father to be His beloved Son, Whom men should hear. Accordingly, that this time should never be forgotten, the evangelist, contrary to his usual custom, describes it particularly, mentioning the names both of the spiritual and temporal rulers.
Oh, that Thy way, Jesus, may be well prepared in my heart! Alas! assist me, O my Saviour, to do what I cannot do by my self. Fill up the valley of my heart with Thy grace, and straighten my crooked and perverted will, till it shall conform to Thine own. Soften my rough and unruly mind; bring low, destroy, and remove whatever in me impedes Thy way, that Thou mayest come to me without hindrance, and possess and govern me forever. Amen.
Vigil of the Nativity or Christmas Eve.
O CHRISTIAN, for the love of Christ, and for thine own salvation, occupy thy mind, during this holy night, with holy thoughts and aspirations, in order to make thyself worthy of all the graces which Christ will grant thee on His coming. consider how St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in obedience to the edict of Caesar, and in perfect submission to the will of God, went to Bethlehem, and, finding no room there, at last entered an open stable, where they were content to stay. Does not the Son of God deserve all our love when He thus humbled Himself for us? Tender Him your heart as an abode, in the following
Prayer of the Church.
O God, Who givest us joy by the annual expectation of our redemption, grant that we may securely see Him coming as our Judge Whom we joyfully receive as our Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee for ever. Amen.
Nativity of Our Lord, or Christmas
CHRISTMAS brings before us the happy day on which, in the fulness of time, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer, was born of the ever-blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, in the stable at Bethlehem.
Why does every priest say three Masses on this day?
1. To give thanks to the ever-blessed Trinity, Who co-operated in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. 2. To honor the three fold birth of Jesus Christ: His eternal birth in the bosom of His heavenly Father; His temporal birth of His virgin Mother; and His spiritual birth in our hearts, which He occupies by His grace.
Why is the first Mass celebrated at midnight?
The first Mass is said at midnight to remind us that before Jesus Christ was born the world was without the true light, and lay in darkness and the shadow of death. Again, it was in the night that He was born; and both His temporal and eternal births are mysterious truths, incomprehensible to our understanding.
Why is the second Mass celebrated at daybreak?
The second Mass is celebrated at daybreak because the birth of Christ brought light to the gentiles, whose salvation was then nigh, and because, according to tradition, it was about that hour that the shepherds came to see and adore the new-born Saviour.
Why is the third Mass celebrated at daylight?
The third Mass is said at daylight because Christ dispersed the darkness of ignorance, and appeared as the Light of the world (John i. 9; Is. lx. 8).
OF THE FIRST MASS.
The Introit of the first Mass reminds us of the eternal birth of Jesus Christ: " The Lord hath said to Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee " (Ps. ii. 7); " Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? " (Ps. ii. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
O God, Who hast made this holy night shine forth with the brightness of the true Light, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may enjoy His happiness in heaven, the mystery of Whose light we have known upon earth. Who liveth and reigneth, etc. Amen.
EPISTLE. Titus ii. 11-15.
Dearly Beloved: The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort, in Christ Jesus our Lord. How did the grace of God appear to all men?
Through the incarnation of His Son, Whom, in His infinite love, He made like unto us, to be our brother and teacher, that we might become children and heirs of God, and co-heirs with Jesus Christ.
What does Christ teach us by His incarnation?
That we should abandon impiety, infidelity, injustice, and worldly desires, and love God, and our neighbor, though he be our enemy, for God's sake. The incarnation also shows the dignity and greatness of man, for as God gave His only Son for our redemption, we thereby perceive the worth of man in the sight of God.
What does the Apostle mean by worldly desires?
He means by them carnal and sensual desires and lusts, such as impurity, drunkenness, avarice, and such like. Christ teaches us to renounce these by the poverty, patience, fasting, and innumerable privations of His life.
How do we live soberly, justly, and piously?
We live soberly when we use temporal goods according to the intention and will of God, and to supply our necessary wants; we live justly when we desire for, and render to, our neighbor what, by the example of Christ, we are bound to; we live piously when we give God His due honor, love Him above all things, and love all men, in Christ, for His sake.
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 1-14.
At that time there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus the governor of Syria: And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him up in swaddling-clothes, and laid Him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night-watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.
Why did Caesar Augustus publish a decree that all the Roman subjects should be enrolled?
The immediate reasons of Caesar are not known to us, but the result shows that it was done by the special providence of God, for Joseph and Mary were thus obliged to go to Bethlehem, and so the prophecy of Micheas, that the Messias should be born there, was fulfilled. Why is Christ called the first-born Son of Mary?
Because she had no child before Him; and, moreover, having no other after Him, He is also the only-begotten of His blessed Mother, as He was the first-born and only-begotten of His heavenly Father (Heb. i. 6).
Why was the Saviour of the world born in a stable?
To show, from His very birth, that He had not come to establish a splendid worldly kingdom, but a kingdom of grace, justice, and peace, and to lead us to imitate His example of poverty, humility, and contempt of the world.
Why was the birth of Christ first announced to the poor shepherds, and not to the high priests?
To show that God does not distribute His graces through respect for persons: He exalts the humble, and humbles those who exalt themselves.
The angels for joy praised God, and sang, " Glory to God in the highest, "that is, Praise and thanks to our heavenly Father for sending His only-begotten Son for the salvation of men, " and on earth peace" that is, prosperity, happiness, salvation, and blessing "to men of good will."
Learn from the angels to be thankful for all the benefits which God bestows upon thy neighbor, and then you also will partake of them. In particular, thank God to-day for the in expressible benefit of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
OF THE SECOND MASS.
The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the temporal birth oi Our Saviour in Bethlehem. A light shall shine upon us to-day, for Our Lord is born to us, and He shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of peace, the Father of the world to come, of Whose reign there shall be no end" (Is. ix. 6). "The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself" (Ps. xcii. 1). Glory be to the Father, etc.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who are filled with the new light of Thy incarnate Word, may showforth in our works what faith displays in our mind. Through the same Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
EPISTLE. Titus iii. 4-7.
Dearly Beloved: The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared: not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, Whom He hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that, being justified by His grace, we may be heirs, according to hope, of life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does St. Paul teach us in this epistle?
He teaches us what God has done and is doing that we may have eternal life, and why He does it. Not by our own merits, but according to His mercy, He has saved us by holy Baptism, for we were conceived and born in sin. Let us show by our lives that we are renewed by the Holy Ghost, and animated by the hope of life everlasting.
Why did not God have mercy on the fallen angels? This is a mystery which should heighten our love to God, but should also fill us with fear and trembling, for if we do not use the goodness and kindness of God to our advantage our punishment will be severer than that of the fallen angels.
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 15-20.
At that time the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard wondered: and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
How could the shepherds know that the new-born child was the Saviour of the world?
The angels had given them a sign: " You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger," and seeing, they believed, fell on their knees, and adored the child. They then praised God for the graces they had received, and made known what they had heard and seen to others.
What do we learn from Mary in this gospel?
That we should ponder the divine truths in our hearts, and, by this heavenly nourishment, strengthen and preserve our souls in spiritual life.
OF THE THIRD MASS.
The Introit of the third Mass reminds us of the spiritual birth of Christ in our hearts. " A child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel" (Is. ix. 6). " Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle, for He hath done wonderful things" (Ps. xcvii. 1). Glory be to the Father, etc.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may deliver us, who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through OurLord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.
EPISTLE. Heb. i. 1-12.
God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days, has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the world: Who being the brightness of His glory, and the figure of His substance, and upholding all things by the word of His power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the Majesty on high: being made so much better than the angels, as He had inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels hath He said at any time: Thou art My Son, to-day have I begotten Thee? And again: I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, He saith: And let all the angels of God adore Him. And to the angels indeed He saith: He that maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of Thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but Thou shalt continue, and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt Thou change them and they shall be changed: but Thou art the self -same, and Thy years shall not fail.
How magnificently does this epistle set forth the kindness and love of God the Father, Who, for a teacher, has given us, not a prophet, but His only Son! how beautifully does it prove the divinity of Christ, since God has begotten Him from all eternity, and created the heavens and earth through Him, Who is always the same, and His throne forever and ever! Learn, O Christian soul, from this epistle, how much thou art obliged to love God, to trust Him, and to follow Christ thy example, for without imitating Him thou canst neither belong to His elect,nor have part in His redemption.
O heavenly Father, I thank Thee with my whole heart, for having spoken to us through Thy only-begotten Son, Whom Thou hast made better than the angels. I will, O Father of mercy, listen to Him with gratitude, and use His sublime teachings for the perfect enlightenment of my mind and heart.
GOSPEL. John i. 1-14.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light, that was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God; to them that believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
What does St. John mean by the " Word "?
He means the Son of God, Who is called the Word of the Father, because He was begotten as the word is produced from the thought, but in a manner more beautiful and mysterious. In His divine nature He is one with the Father; but in person distinct from Him; as the word spoken is at the same time one with Him Who speaks, and yet distinct from Him. He is also called the Word because it is through Him that the Father has declared to us His will.
What is the meaning of, " in the beginning was the Word," etc.?
It means that at the beginning of the world the Son of God already was, and, therefore, was begotten of His Father from all eternity. Thus, at the beginning of his gospel St. John teaches Christ's eternity, divinity, and equality with the Father.
What is the meaning of, "all things were made by the Word"?
That the Son of God, Himself true God, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, created all things that were made, both visible and invisible, in perfect order and beauty (Prov. viii. 30).
What is the meaning of, "in Him was life "?
That, as the living God, He was the source and fountain of all life.
How was the " Life the light of men "?
The Eternal Son, Who was the life, was also the light of men, because He was the Truth to enlighten them with the knowledge and love of God, that, avoiding sin and ignorance they might walk with safety in the way of salvation.
In what sense are we to understand the words, "and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it"? Christ made known the true knowledge of God to men who were in spiritual darkness, that is, in error and ignorance, but they would not receive His holy teaching. This is still the case with those who, notwithstanding the preaching of the Gospel, Will not believe, and particularly with those hardened sinners who will not return to God, although He pours upon them the light of His grace to move them to penance.
Who is meant by him who "came to bear witness of that light"?
St. John the Baptist, who endeavored by his preaching to prepare the Jews for the coming of Christ, and who testified before the whole world that He was the expected King and Messias.
How are we made children of God?
By the grace which we receive in holy Baptism.
What is to be understood by, "the Word was made flesh?"
We are to understand by it that the Word was not changed into human nature, but that He became incarnate by the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, uniting in one person the two natures, divine and human. He was the God- man, Who walked among men thirty-three years, marking every step by favors and benefits. He assumed, says St. Leo, the nature of man, who was to be reconciled to God, in order that Satan, the author of death, might be overcome by that same nature which he had before conquered; and thus Our Lord and Saviour vanquished our most cruel enemy, not in majesty, but in humility.
What is the meaning of, "and we saw His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father?"
The evangelist hereby indicates that he and his fellow- apostles were permitted to see the glory of the God-man; for instance, on Mount Thabor; in His miracles; in His glorious resurrection and ascension. Thus they saw Him and knew that He was the true Son of God, the fountain of all good, from which all receive life, and light, and grace (John i. 16).
O God, Father in heaven, Who, in the form of an amiable child, hast given to us poor sinners this past night Thy onlybegotten Son, born of the immaculate Virgin Mary, to be our Mediator and Redeemer, we thank Thee with all our hearts for this inexpressible grace, and beseech Thee, of Thy goodness, to preserve in us the perpetual memory of it, that, in all our adversities and temptations, we may have comfort and consolation, with strength to love, serve, and praise Thee, in holiness and purity, until the last hour of our lives. Amen.
Sunday after Christmas
Introit of the Mass.
WHILE all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from heaven, from Thy royal throne (Wis. xviii. 14, 15). " The Lord has reigned; He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself" (Ps. xcii. 1).
Almighty and eternal God, direct our actions so as to be pleasing to Thee, that, in the name of Thy beloved Son, we may deserve to abound in good works. Who livest and reignest, etc.
EPISTLE. Gal. iv. 1-7.
Brethren: As long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all: but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father: so we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also, through God.
How are we to understand the words, "God sent His Son, made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law "?
St. Paul here speaks to such Christians among the Galatians as were formerly Jews, and who supposed themselves yet bound to keep the observances of the Law of Moses; he shows them that by His death on the cross He dispensed with the Law, abolished its types and ceremonies, and redeemed the Jews from the curse and bondage to which it subjected them, delivering them thereby from sin and eternal death. We have received still greater favors than the Jews, because in our ancestors we were converted from Paganism to Christianity, and from children of the devil were made by faith heirs of God. Let us show how we value such blessings by living as children of God, in faith, love, confidence, patience, and innocence, shunning sin as the only real evil; unless we would forfeit our name and privileges as Christians, and voluntarily become a second time the slaves of the devil.
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 33-40.
At that time Joseph and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His Mother: Be hold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she at the same hour coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in Him.
Why did Mary and Joseph wonder at these things?
They were filled with joyous wonder that Simeon was enabled by divine inspiration to recognize the child Jesus as the promised Messias, and to say such great things of Him.
What does it mean to bless? To give or wish something good to any one; in the first of these senses God alone blesses, because all goods of soul or body which we have, or wish to have, come from Him; in the second sense, angels and men may bless us, in wishing us what ever is good, and in praying for it to God.
Have we examples of blessing in Scripture? Yes; an angel blessed Jacob (Gen. xxxii. 29); Jacob, when dying, blessed his children and grandchildren (Gen. xlviii. 15);
Melchisedech blessed Abraham (Gen. xiv. 19); Rebecca was blessed by her brother (Gen. xxiv. 60); and the priests blessed the people. Our Saviour also blessed His disciples with up lifted hands.
Is it good for parents to bless their children?
Yes; for God fulfils blessings of good parents, as He did those, for example, of the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob.
"The father's blessing establisheth the houses of the children, but the mother's curse rooteth up the foundations" (Eccles. iii. 11).
What virtue is there in the priest's blessing? Very great virtue; because it is given in the name of the Church, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and comes from God Himself, Whose ministers and stewards the priests are. Parents should see that their children are blessed by the priests who may come to visit them, as the children were brought to Our Saviour, that He might lay His hands on them, and bless them (Matt. xix. 13).
How is Christ the fall and resurrection of many in Israel?
He is the fall, that is, the damnation, of those who do not receive Him, though they know Him to be the Saviour of the world; and of those also who believe in Him, and receive His holy teaching, but do not live according to it. " If Christ had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin " (St. John xv. 22). He is the resurrection or salvation of those who believe in Him, receive His doctrine, and live according to it.
What is the meaning of, " He is a sign which shall be contradicted"?
This was a prophecy that Jesus Christ, His life, works, teaching, and institutions should be the object of continual contradiction on the part of sensual and worldly wisdom. It was fulfilled in the blasphemies and persecutions of the Jews and gentiles, and is confirmed by infidels of all ages, as well as by those Christians who, as St. Bernard says, contradict His humility by their pride, His poverty by their avarice, His fasting by their intemperance, His purity by their impurity, His zeal by their sloth; thus confessing Him with their lips, but denying Him by their deeds. They are not faithful and sincere towards Jesus, and do not love Him, for they do not obey His holy will; they are Christians only in name, of whom Christ is not the resurrection, but the fall, for they are yet the slaves of sin. What is meant by those words, " thy own soul a sword shall pierce?
That Mary would have to suffer inexpressible pains and sorrows that would pierce her heart as with a sword. Time made this plain; for how often was not her beloved Son pursued and persecuted? Yet the greatest grief she felt must have been when she saw her Son in His sufferings and death, hanging, like a malefactor, on the cross. What else is to be learned from this gospel?
First, widows may learn from Anna, who departed not from the temple, how to serve God, by fasting and prayer, " for the widow that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living (i. Tim. v. 6). Secondly, parents may learn to be careful that their children increase not only in skill and wealth, but rather in the grace of God, by living pious, edifying, and peaceable lives be fore God and men.
To-day is the last Sunday in the year. Ponder with care on the truths and doctrines which the holy Church has laid be fore thee in the epistles and gospels; thank God with thy whole heart for the great favors and benefits which thou hast received in the incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ; examine thyself also whether thy faith is living and efficient, that thou mayest have the hope of being a child and heir of God; ask thyself whether, during the past year, Christ has been thy fall or thy resurrection? hast thou confessed Him in heart and deed, or hast thou been a Christian only in name? With such exercises and examinations occupy thy mind until the New Year, that thou mayest be prepared to begin it worthily.
New Year's Day, the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord.
Why do we call this New Year's Day?
Because the civil year begins on this day, as the ecclesiastical does on the first Sunday in Advent.
What ought we to do on this day?
We must dedicate the New Year to the service of God, in order that, assisted by His grace, we may both begin and end it to His honor, and our own sanctification.
Why do we wish each other a happy New Year? To renew love and harmony, and to fulfil an obligation of charity by wishes for each other's happiness and prosperity.
What feast does the Church celebrate on this day? The circumcision of Christ, at which He received the name of Jesus. " But when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law (Gal. iv. 4, 5).
O my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I thank Thee for having to-day shed Thy blood for the first time for me. Grant me, I beseech Thee, the grace of mortifying, circumcising for Thy love, my eyes, ears, lips, hands, feet, and all my sensual appetites, that I may not see, hear, speak, touch, wish, or do any evil. Amen.
The Introit of the Mass is the same as in the third Mass at Christmas.
O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of the blessed Mary hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may experience her intercession for us, through whom we have received the Author of life, Our Lord Jesus Christ, "Who liveth and reigneth, etc.
Epistle. (The same as in the first Mass at Christmas.)
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 21.
At that time: After eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised: His name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Why was Christ circumcised the eighth day of His birth?
1. So that by fulfilling the Jewish law, He might teach us patience and obedience to the law of God, and to His holy Church. 2. To show His infinite love to us in the very first days of His life.
Who gave Him the name of Jesus?
God Himself gave it to Him, Who came to save the world and sanctify us, for Jesus means Saviour. It is, therefore, that holy and powerful name, whereby alone we can be saved (Acts iv. 12).
What power has this name?
A divine power; for in this name the apostles cast out devils and cured the sick (Mark xvi. 17, 18), as, for instance, the lame man who lay at the gate of the temple (Acts iii. 2-6). Through this name we receive from God whatever is helpful towards our salvation (John xiv. 13). It is well, therefore, to call on this holy name in adversities, in doubts, and in great temptations, particularly such as are hostile to purity. Even when we are so unhappy as to fall into sin, the remembrance of this holy name may bring us back to virtue, for it is as oil which enlightens, nourishes, and heals (Canticles i. 2, 3).
How must we speak this holy name, that its virtue may be felt?
With the greatest devotion and veneration, and with unbounded confidence; for, as St. Paul says, "in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil. ii. 10). How sinful, there fore, is it in some to speak this name almost at every word, frivolously and disrespectfully; a habit which, in this country particularly, is so widely and fatally prevalent.
Prayer for New Year's Day.
O Almighty God, now that we have lived to see another year, we thank Thy goodness and Thy incomprehensible mercy, that, from the moment of our birth, we have escaped so many dangers which have threatened our health and life. Would that we had never abused the precious time of our life to sin! but, alas! it is done, and we therefore pray Thee, through Thy Son, and through the precious blood He this day shed in His circumcision, to look, not upon the multitude of our sins, but upon Thy infinite mercy; we promise to be henceforth pious, just, and virtuous; strengthen us in our weakness; increase in us faith, hope, and charity; keep us, by Thy powerful grace, from all sin, dangers, temptations, and adversities of soul and body; enable us, we beseech Thee, to offer up to Thee, from this day henceforth till the hour of our death, all our senses, thoughts, words, and deeds; to subject them all to Thy holy will; to op pose successfully every evil habit, and to practise every virtue. Grant, O Father, that we, living and dying in Thy only true faith, may enjoy in Thy kingdom, where one day is better than a thousand upon earth, an everlasting New Year of eternal happiness, and that we may praise Thee with all Thy angels andsaints, forever and ever. Amen.
First Sunday after the Circumcision
THE Introit of the Mass, the Prayer, and Epistle are the same as on the Sunday after Christmas.
GOSPEL. Matt. ii. 19-23.
At that time: When Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt. Saying: Arise, and take the child and His Mother, and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead that sought the life of the child. "Who arose, and took the child and His Mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep, retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by the prophets: That He shall be called a Nazarite.
O my Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth, Who didst subject Thyself to travel as a fugitive upon earth, with no resting-place in which to remain in safety, yet hast now Thy throne at the right hand of Thy Father in the majesty of God, teach me to consider this world a foreign land, and my life that of a pilgrim, that in Thee and Thy Father I may find my home. Strengthen me by Thy grace to prepare myself worthily for the land of eternal happiness, and receive me, when I leave this world, into Thy glory, where Thou livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, for all eternity. Amen.
WHAT mystery does the Church celebrate to-day?
She celebrates to-day a threefold mystery: 1. The arrival in Bethlehem of the Wise Men from the East to adore the new-born Saviour; 2. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan; 3. The first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana.
Why is this festival called Epiphany, or the manifestation? Because in the three events just mentioned Jesus manifested Himself not only to the Jews, but also to the gentiles, as the expected Messias, the Redeemer of the world, and the be loved of His heavenly Father.
The Church sings to-day with joy at the Introit, " Behold the Lord, the Ruler, is come, and a kingdom in his hand, and power and dominion" (Mai. iii. 1). " Give to the king Thy judgment, O God, and to the king's son Thy justice" (Ps. lxxi. 2).
O God, Who didst on this day reveal Thy only-begotten Son to the gentiles by the guidance of a star, grant in Thy mercy that we, who know Thee now by faith, may be brought to be hold the beauty of Thy majesty. Through the same Lord, etc.
EPISTLE. Is. Ix. 1-6.
Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee: and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see: all these- are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.
Of what does the prophet here speak?
He foretells the future manifestation of the light of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem, which was a type of the Church, and that by that light the gentiles should enter into the one Church of Christ.
" Give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice, O earth; ye mountains, give praise with jubilation, because the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His poor ones " (Is. xlix. 13). When Jesus, therefore, was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold, there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him. And King Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him, In Bethlehem of Juda: for so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the Wise Men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child: and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king, went their way: and behold, the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary, His Mother, and falling down, they adored Him: and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.
Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the Saviour in Jerusalem?
They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the noted prophecy of Balaam, "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel" (Num. xxiv. 11), which was the more significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled in astronomy. But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, as St. Leo says, " The star shone also in their hearts a beautiful example for us to follow, without delay, the inspirations of divine grace, and to do the will of God without fear of men. "What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Saviour?
In offering gold the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King; in frankincense, as God; in myrrh, as suffering Man.
How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts?
We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will; also by giving alms in His name to the poor. We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven; and myrrh, by preserving purity of body and soul.
Give to me, O my divine Saviour, the faith of these Wise Men; enlighten my understanding with the light which enlightened them; but move my heart also, that I may follow that light, and sincerely seek Thee, and Thee only, Who didst first seek me. Grant that I may find and adore Thee, with the Wise Men, in spirit and in truth, offering to Thee, like them, gold in my obedience and alms, incense in my prayers, myrrh in my penances and mortifications, that, after having brought Thee the offerings of my faith on earth, I may adore Thee in Thy eternal glory. Amen.
First Sunday after Epiphany
AT the Introit of the Mass the Church animates us to adore and obey God willingly and joyfully. "Upon a high throne I saw a man sitting, Whom a multitude of angels adored, singing together, Behold Him, the name of Whose empire is eternity " (Dan. vii.). " Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve the Lord with gladness (Ps. xcix. 2). Glory be to the Father, etc.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, in Thy heavenly mercy, the prayers of Thy suppliant people, that they may both see what they ought to do, and may be enabled to do what they see. Through Our Lord, etc.
EPISTLE. Rom. xii. 1-5.
Brethren: I beseech you, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind: that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. For I say, by the grace that is given me, to all that are among you, not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety, and according as God hath divided to every one the measure of faith. For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How can we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God?
By keeping the body and its members clean from all sin, serving God with soul and body. Thus to serve God, with our soul and body, is our reasonable service, and the vocation of every Christian.
What does St. Paul mean by the comparison of one body and many members?
He means that we Christians belong all to one body, the Church, the head of which is Christ. Now, as all the members of the body work for its welfare, so should every Christian minister to the wants of all in the Church. One should join the other in the work of salvation; should instruct or punish, warn, admonish, or correct, as there is occasion for it. This is true love, such as we ought to have, one for another, and happy are we when we thus love in word and deed.
Grant, O Jesus, that I may present my soul and body a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing, to Thee, by mortification, humiliation, and contrition, and that I may never defile them by impurity, gluttony, lust, vanity, or pride; give me also Thy grace, O my Saviour, to love my neighbor as myself, for we are one body in Christ, and each one members of one another.
GOSPEL. Luke ii. 42-52.
When Jesus was twelve years old they going up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered. And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age, and grace with God and men.
What are we Christians to learn by this?
That we should never miss an opportunity to go to church, particularly on Sundays and holy-days, and there assist at the public services, with inward and outward devotion. Parents should learn from Joseph and Mary to take their children to church and school, and to teach them their prayers and the other exercises of religion.
What lesson does the infant Jesus teach us?
That we also should attend religious instructions, the sermon, and catechism, to learn what is necessary in regard to our salvation.
What do we learn by those words, " Jesus was subject to them"?
That children should obey their parents. When the God- Man was thus subject to His poor Mother and to His foster- father, who was a plain mechanic, those children should blush who are ashamed of their parents, or refuse to assist them in their old age, poverty, or distress.
Second Sunday after Epiphany
AT the Introit the Church invites us to thank God for the incarnation of His only-begotten Son: " Let all the earth adore Thee, and sing to Thee, O God; let it sing a psalm to Thy name, shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name, give glory to His praise. Glory be to the Father, etc.
Almighty and everlasting God, "Who dost govern all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace in our days. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
EPISTLE. Rom. xii. 6-16.
Brethren: We have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer; communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.
What lesson does the Apostle give us in this epistle?
That we should hate that which is evil, and love that which is good; that we should love one another, and practise works of mercy; that we should be solicitous and fervent, as in the service of God. We should cooperate with the grace of God, and pray instantly.
PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUPERIORS.
They must expect a severe judgment who seek office only forthe sake of emolument, caring little for their duty, and regarding bribes and presents rather than justice.
O God, give us Thy grace to follow faithfully what St. Paul teaches us of humility and charity, that we may have compassion on all who are in need, and not exalt ourselves above our neighbors, but, humbling ourselves with the humble, may merit, with them, to be exalted. Amen.
GOSPEL. John ii. 1-11.
At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the Mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His Mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drank, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This be ginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
Why was Jesus present at the wedding with His Mother and disciples?
1. In order there to reveal His majesty, and by that means to establish and confirm the belief in His divinity. 2. To show that marriage is pleasing to God. 3. To let us understand how pious the bridegroom and bride were. 4. To teach us that those pleasures are permitted which are in accordance with reason and Christianity, and neither sinful nor leading to sin.
Why did Mary intercede for the bride and bridegroom when the wine was failing?
She was sorry for them, for she is the tender-hearted mediatrix of the afflicted and destitute. Besides, the number of the guests had been considerably increased by the presence of Jesus and His disciples, so that the wine was not sufficient for all.
What is the meaning of the words, Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?"?
According to the idiom of the Hebrew language, they mean as much as, Mother, be not anxious; I will provide the wine as soon as the hour appointed by My Father is come." Jesus did not mean to rebuke His Mother, but He thus gave her, and all who were present, to understand that He had not received the power of working miracles as the son of woman, but that He possessed it as the Son of God, and should use it according to the will of His Father.
I thank Thee, O Jesus, for the grace of knowing Thy divinity; grant that I may persevere in this knowledge till death, in order to enjoy the contemplation of Thy Godhead ineternity.
Third Sunday after Epiphany
THE Church, knowing that she cannot sufficiently love and praise God, at the Introit of the Mass invites all angels to praise Him: Adore God, all you His angels: Sion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice, let many islands be glad" (Ps. xcvi.). Glory be to the Father, etc.
Almighty and eternal God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and extend the right hand of Thy majesty to help and defend us. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.
EPISTLE. Rom. xii. 16-21.
Brethren: Be not wise in your own conceits: to no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you, having peace with all men. Not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge to Me: I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him drink; for doing this thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.
What is the meaning of the words, " Revenge to Me: I frill repay, saith the Lord "?
They mean that God alone has the right to revenge. " Are you impatient," says St. Ambrose, " then you will be conquered: but do you suffer in patience, then you will be conqueror."
"What must we do, then, when our honor is attacked?
When an injury by others brings serious consequences upon us, it is not only permissible, but even a duty, to defend our honor and good name. In matters of less importance we should leave our assailants to God, according to the admonition of the Apostle.
Is it wrong to wish our neighbor the evil that he wished us? Certainly; for it is contrary to the law of God, Who commands us to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate us (Matt, v. 44; Luke vi. 35).
How are we to " heap coals of fire on the heads of our enemies "?
When, according to the will of God, we render good for evil, thereby confounding our enemies and causing them to burn with shame; St. Augustine says: You will heap burning coals of love on his head, for nothing sooner begets love than to meet one with love.
Enable me, O heavenly Father, so to follow these admonitions of St. Paul in regard to the love of my enemies that I may be Thy child, Who makest Thy sun to shine upon the evil and upon the good.
GOSPEL. Matt. viii. 1-13.
At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him: and behold a leper came and adored Him, saying: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth His hand, touched him, saying: I will. Be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion, making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this: Go, and he goeth: and to another: Come, and he cometh: and to my servant: Do this, and he doth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled: and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Why did the leper say to Jesus, " Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean "?
Because he believed Jesus to be the promised Messias, Who, as true God, had the power to heal him. When we pray, we must be careful not to prescribe to God what He shall give us, but begin by saying, "If it be pleasing to Thee, and advantageous to me, give me this or that grace.
Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch him?
So that he might understand that his leprosy was to be healed. Let us also imitate the example of Jesus by assisting each other in sickness, not shirking this work of charity from aversion or excessive delicacy.
Why did Jesus say, " 1 will, be thou made clean "? To reveal His almightiness, and to show that all things were subject to Him.
Why did Jesus say, " See thou tell no man"?
To show His modesty and humility, and to teach us, when we do good works, not to speak of them, thus losing our reward (Matt. vi. 2, 3).
What does the Saviour mean by saying, Go show thyself to the priest"?
1. Christ wished to show His respect for the law of Moses, for lepers were required to show themselves to the priests, who were to decide whether they were clean or not. He also teaches us that priests should receive their proper respect. 2. He reminded him who was cleansed to give thanks to God by offering the gift which Moses commanded.
What does the solicitude of the centurion teach us? That masters and mistresses should take care of their sick servants, and do what they can to restore them to health.
Why did Our Saviour say, "I will come and heal him"? To show His profound humility, for although He was God, and the Lord of lords, He did not hesitate to visit a poor servant. Why did the centurion say, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should st enter under my roof?
Out of humility, for he acknowledged Jesus to be Almighty God.
What is the meaning of the words, " That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham," etc.?
Christ meant that many unbelievers shall receive the Gospel, and, living according to it, shall thereby gain the kingdom of heaven, while the Jews, who were the chosen people of God, shall, for their unbelief and sins, be cast out into the exterior darkness that is, into the most excruciating pains of hell.
O Jesus, fountain of consolation, give me the faith and confidence of the leper, that I may always trust in Thy almighty power, and give myself up to Thy divine will. O most humble Jesus, give me the humility of the centurion, that I may for the sake of Thee love and assist my neighbor, particularly those of my household and family, the poor and the sick, and gain an eternal reward. Amen.
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
THE Introit of the Mass is the same as on last Sunday.
O God! Who knowest that, placed amidst so many dangers, we cannot, through human frailty, stand, grant us safety of mind and body, that we may, by Thy aid, surmount those things which we suffer for our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
EPISTLE. Rom. xiii. 8-10.
Brethren: Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law.
How are we to understand those words of St. Paul, " He that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law"?
St. Augustine explains them as follows: " Our love towards our neighbor must have its origin in the love of God; for if we love our neighbor, we must love him for God's sake. Now he who loves God keeps the first four commandments, for he believes in God, hopes in Him, loves Him, and honors Him, while he also loves and honors his parents. But he who loves his neighbor keeps the rest of the commandments also, since that love prevents him from doing any injury to his neighbor, so that he will not kill, nor steal, nor calumniate, nor bear false witness; thus he fulfills the law, for " upon these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets " (Matt. xxii. 40).
GOSPEL. Matt. viii. 23-27.
At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat, His disciples followed Him: and behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but He was asleep. And His disciples came to Him, and awakened Him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them, Why am you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up He commanded the winds, and the sea; and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying, What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him?
Why did Jesus sleep while a great tempest arose in the sea?
1. He thereby tested the faith of His disciples, and confirmed it by the miracle of their escape. 2. He, by this occasion, taught the just and pious not to be scandalized or discouraged if God should visit them with affliction, such as sickness, poverty, or other miseries. 3. He teaches us also to seek refuge in Him, and encourages us to hope for help.
Why did Our Saviour reprove His disciples?
Because they showed a want of faith and confidence. Ever had they been then drowned, such a death would have been to them the entrance to eternal life. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, . . . but blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord " (Jer. xvii. 5, 7). Let us, therefore, in any adversity or danger be firm in our belief that God cares for us, and have confidence in Him and He will hear our prayers, if it be for our good, as He quieted the wind and the sea with His almighty word.
What can we further learn from this gospel?
1. How willingly Jesus assists us. 2. That He will protect His Church in all storms and persecutions, since He, the Al mighty, is always with her. 3. How willingly we should follow Jesus, since even the winds and waves obey Him. 4. That we should not look with indifference at the wonders of God's omnipotence and benevolence, but from them learn to raise our thoughts in love to Him. For if those men wondered, saying, " Who is this? for even the winds and the sea obey Him," how much rather should we know and love God from the innumerable miracles of His love and power.
Grant us, O most benign Jesus, great confidence in Thy divine assistance whenever we are in need, and allow us not to be of little faith. Be our Saviour in the many dangers that surround us; make use of Thy omnipotence against our enemies; command the impetuous winds and sea of persecution that they may be calm; and give peace and quiet to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood, that we may serve Thee in sanctity and justice, and come safely to the wished-for haven of eternal happiness. Amen.
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
On this Sunday the Church reminds us how God tolerates the wicked, and exhorts us to love Him.
The Introit is the same as on the third Sunday after Epiphany.
Preserve, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy family by continued mercy, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, it may be always defended by Thy protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
EPISTLE. Cotes, iii. 12-17.
Brethren: Put ye on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection; and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
Why does St. Paul call charity the bond of perfection?
Because it combines all the virtues of which perfection consists. For whoever loves God and his neighbor practises in a perfect manner all virtues, such as humility, mercy, patience. St. Paul would have all Christians to be rich, that is, well inPage:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/85 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/86 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/87 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/88 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/89 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/90 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/91 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/92 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/93 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/94 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/95 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/96 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/97 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/98 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/99 Page:Goffinesdevoutin00goffuoft.djvu/100