Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
"Let us therefore make him a little chamber, and put a little bed in it for him and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick, that when he cometh to us, he may abide there" (IV Kings 4:13). Such was the Sunamite woman's regard for the prophet Eliseus, that she would make such preparations for his entertainment! Will we do as much for Christ who is ready to come to us? Take pains, O Christian, to occupy this night in pious thoughts, and aspirations, for the love of God and for the good of your own soul, making yourself worthy to receive the graces which He is ready when He comes, to give you. Think how Mary, who was near her time, and Joseph her spouse obedient to the Imperial command, and perfectly submissive to the will of God, journeyed with the greatest inconvenience to Bethlehem, and when, because of the multitude of people, they found no place to receive them they took refuge, as God willed it, in a most miserable stable, at the extreme end of the town. What love does not the Savior deserve, who for love of us so humbled Himself!
COLLECT O God, who makest us rejoice in the yearly expectation of the feast of our redemption: grant, that we who cheerfully receive Thy only-begotten Son as a Redeemer, may behold without fear the same Lord Jesus Christ, coming as our judge. Through our Lord.
What is Christmas Day?
It is the day on which Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, was born of the Blessed Virgin in a stable at Bethlehem.
Why is this festival called "the Holy Night"?
Because this night has been especially blessed and sanctified by the holy, mysterious birth of the Redeemer of the world.
Why do priests say three Masses on this day?
In commemoration of the threefold birth of the Redeemer: of His birth from all eternity in the bosom of His Heavenly Father; of His birth in the fullness of time; and of His spiritual birth in the hearts of the faithful who, by lively faith in Him, receive the power to become children of God (Jn. 1:12).
Why is the first Mass said at midnight?
Because Christ, the true light which came into the world to enlighten those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, that is, of unbelief and of sin (Lk. 1:79), was born at night, and because the divine birth is incomprehensible to us.
Why is the next Mass said at daybreak, and the third after sunrise?
To signify that the birth of Christ, expelling the darkness of ignorance and infidelity, brought us the clear daylight of the knowledge of God, and that the spiritual birth of Christ can take place at any time in the pure soul.
When does this spiritual birth take place?
It takes place when the soul, having been cleansed from all sin, makes the firm, unalterable resolution to die to the world and all carnal desires, and arouses in itself the ardent desire henceforth to live only for Christ, and, by His grace, to practice all virtues.
INSTRUCTION ON THE FIRST MASS
The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the eternal birth of Christ, the Lord.
INTROIT The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day (that is, from all eternity) have I begotten thee (Ps. 2:7). Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things (Ps. 2:1)? Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT O God, who hast made this most sacred night to shine forth with the brightness of the true light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may enjoy His happiness in heaven, the mystery of whose light we have known upon earth. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE (Tit. 2:11-15). Dearly beloved, the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In what special manner has the grace and goodness of God been manifested to us?
In the incarnation and birth of Christ, His Son, whom, in His infinite love, He has made like unto us, our brother and our teacher, by whom we have become children of God, and co-heirs of His kingdom.
What does Christ by His incarnation desire to teach us especially?
That we should put aside all unrighteousness, all infidelity and injustice, and endeavor to become like unto Him, who, except in sin, has become altogether like unto us. But especially that we repress the desires of lust, wealth, and honor, and not rest until we have rooted them from our hearts.
How do we live soberly, justly, and godly?
We live soberly, when we fulfill all duties towards ourselves; justly, when we fulfill all duties towards our neighbor; and godly, when we fulfill all duties to God.
ASPIRATION Blessed art Thou, Oh! new-born Savior, who hast descended from on high to teach me the ways of justice, hast become man and equal to me. In return for this goodness of Thine, I renounce all evil, all sinful desires, words, and deeds. In return for Thy love, I will ever uproot from my heart all carnal desires, and always live soberly, justly, and godly; do Thou by Thy grace, strengthen me in this resolve.
GOSPEL (Lk. 2:1-14). At that time there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night-watches over their flock. And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round them; and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them: Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good-will.
Why, at the time of Augustus, were all the Roman subjects enrolled?
This happened by a special ordinance of God, that by this enrollment Mary and Joseph should be obliged to go to Bethlehem, that it might be made known to the world that Christ was really born at Bethlehem, of the tribe of Juda, and the house of David, and that He was the Messiah who had been foretold by the prophets (Mich. 5:2).
Let us learn from this how the providence of God directs all things according to His will, and consider the obedience which Mary rendered to the command of a heathen emperor, or rather to God who caused the command.
Why is Christ called the "first-born" of Mary?
Because she gave birth to no child before Him; she bore none after Him, He was the only son of Mary, as He was the only-begotten Son of the Heavenly Father.
Why was Christ born in such poverty?
To teach us not by words but by example that which He afterwards so often preached and forcibly taught, namely: the love of poverty, the practice of humility and patience with contempt of the world, and also to confound by His humble birth the foolish wisdom of the world which seeks only honors, pleasures and riches.
Why was the birth of Christ announced to poor shepherds, and not to King Herod and the chief priests?
That it might be known that God loves to dwell with poor, simple, pious, faithful people, such as the shepherds were, and reveals Himself to those who are little in their own eyes (Mt. 11:25), while He despises the proud and leaves them over to their own spiritual blindness.
Let us learn from this to acquire simplicity and humility, and despise pride and cunning, that God may reveal Himself to us by His interior inspirations.
What is meant by the angelic song of praise: "Glory be to God on high"?
By this song of praise which the priests usually say in the Mass is meant that the greatest praise and the most heartfelt thanks are due to God for having sent His Son into the world; and that those who have the good will to glorify God by all their actions, will receive peace, that is, all happiness, blessings, and salvation.
Rejoice with the angels over the birth of the Savior, return thanks to God, and honor Him alone in all things, that you may have that peace: peace with God, peace with yourself and peace with all men.
Learn also from the angels, who rejoiced in the graces which man would receive from the birth of Christ, to rejoice, and thank God for the favors which He gives your neighbor, and by rejoicing participate in them.
INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND MASS
In the Introit of this Mass the Church makes use of the words of Isaias:
INTROIT A light shall shine upon us this day: for our Lord is born to us: and he shall be called Wonderful, God, the Prince of peace, the Father of the world to come; of whose reign there shall be no end (Is. 9). The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself. Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who are filled with the new light of Thy incarnate Word, may show forth in our works what by faith shineth in our minds. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE (Tit. 3:4-7). Dearly beloved, the goodness and kindness of God our Savior hath appeared: not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the layer of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior: that, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs according to hope. of life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To whom do we owe our salvation?
Not to ourselves, nor any good works we may have performed, but entirely to the mercy of God who from all eternity decreed our redemption, and sent His only-begotten Son into this world to accomplish it; which redemption is bestowed upon us in baptism, where we are washed from the stain of sin, and by the rich infusion of the Holy Ghost born again, heirs of eternal life.
Why, then, had God no mercy on the fallen angels?
To this question St. John of Damascus replies: "We must know here that the fall was to the angels what death is to man; for the angels there was no repentance after the fall, as for man there is no repentance after death" (De fid. orthod. lib.2. c.4). In eternity there is no available contrition and penance, so God showed no mercy to the fallen angels. Let us learn from this, to make ourselves participators in the merry of God, by contrition and penance while there is yet time.
GOSPEL (Lk. 2:15-20). At that time the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a manger. And seeing they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard wondered, and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
I. The shepherds follow at once the voice of God which calls them to the manger; they exhort one another to do so; they seek the Redeemer and happily find Him; they make Him known to others, and heartily thank God for the grace given them.
Let us follow the inspirations of God with ready obedience; let us exhort one another to virtue by our good example and edifying conversation; let us make good use of the knowledge given us by God, give it to others, and praise God for the same.
II. Mary kept all these words, spoken about her Son, and pondered them in her heart. Let us learn from her to prepare food for our souls by careful meditation on the divine truths that are made known to us: so that we may be preserved and strengthened in spiritual life.
INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD MASS
The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the spiritual birth of Christ, by which He is spiritually born in us:
INTROIT A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us; whose government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called the Angel of great counsel (Is. 9). Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: for he bath done wonderful things (Ps. 97). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh may deliver us who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE (Heb. 1:1-12). God, who diversely and many ways, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high: being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels bath he said at any time: Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son? And again when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of justice is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore, God, thy God, bath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth; and the works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou shaft continue; and they shall all grow old as a garment, and as a vesture shaft thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the self-same, and thy years shall not fail.
INSTRUCTION The greatness of Christ Jesus, the dignity of His divinity and humanity, the love and goodness of His Heavenly Father, who has given Him to us as our teacher, could not be more gloriously described than in this epistle. Learn from it how much you are obliged, because of this, to serve God, to be grateful to Him, and to follow Christ who governs heaven and earth; and whom the angels serve.
ASPIRATION I thank Thee, a thousand times, O Heavenly Father, that Thou hast spoken to us through Thy only-begotten Son, in whom Thou art well pleased. With my whole heart, O Father of Merry, will I listen to Him, and be obedient to all His instructions.
GOSPEL (Jn. l:1-14). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to bear witness of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
What does St. John mean by the Word?
That the Son of God, who was begotten and brought forth like a word of the mouth from the Father, but in a manner incomprehensible and inscrutable to us, is one with the Father in the divine nature, but different from Him in person; He is also called the Word of the Father, because through Him the Father has spoken and made known the divine will (Heb. 1:2; Mt. 17:5).
What is meant by- In the beginning was the Word, And the Word was with God?
When all things had their beginning the Son of God already was, not made or created, but born of the Father from eternity, with whom and in whom He therefore existed from all eternity. St. John here teaches the divinity, the eternity, and the equality of Christ with the Father.
What is meant by: All things were made by Him?
That the Son of God, Himself true God, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, has made all things, visible and invisible.
What is meant by: In Him was the life?
It means: The Son of God is the origin and fountain of the spiritual life of our souls upon earth, and of the glorious life in eternity. To give this true life to us, He became man, whereby we are born again, newly created, as it were, from the death of sin to the life of grace and righteousness.
Why is this life the light of men?
Because this true life of the soul which Christ has obtained for us, consists in the ever increasing knowledge of God and his salvation, which knowledge also comes from Christ, either externally through holy words and examples, or inwardly by divine inspiration.
How did the light shine in darkness?
The Son of God has given the necessary grace to find the true faith to mankind. He still imparts to all men the necessary light, especially by His holy Word which is preached to them, but the hardened sinners reject it, because they wish not to hear of faith and repentance.
How did St. John the Baptist bear witness of the light?
By announcing the Savior to the world, and even pointing Him out when He appeared.
Who receive Christ?
Those who walk in the light of His grace, co-operate with it, and so become the children of God.
How are we to understand: The Word was made flesh?
We are to understand by it that the Word was not changed into human nature, but that He became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, thus uniting in Himself two natures, the divine and the human. So Christ is true God, and at the same time true man, therefore God-Man; consequently there are in Christ two wills, the divine and the human. In His humanity He is less than the Father (Jn. 14:28), in His divinity He is equal to the Father On. 10:30); His humanity filled Him with a natural terror of His sufferings, but His divinity was perfectly united with the will of His Heavenly Father, and could pray: Not my will, but thine be done.
ASPIRATION O God, our Heavenly Father, Who this night has given to us sinners, in the form of a child from the immaculate womb of Mary, Thine only-begotten Son as our Mediator and Redeemer, we give Thee thanks with heart and lips, and humbly beseech Thee that Thou wilt never permit us to forget such a grace, and that we may sustain ourselves by it in all temptations; that w may be ever grateful to Thee for it, and until death praise, honor and serve Thee in sanctity. Amen.
Whence comes the custom of representing in our churches and houses the crib of Bethlehem?
This custom was introduced by St. Francis of Assisi who, having a particular devotion to the Infant Jesus, was accustomed to represent to himself in this way the stable and manger at Bethlehem the further to excite his love; and as this pious practice is calculated to assist exceedingly in the instruction of the unlearned, especially of children, it was introduced into many congregations.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin
November 21THE BLESSED VIRGIN was presented in the temple at Jerusalem by her pious parents, Joachim and Ann, there to be educated in the service and the law of the Lord in order that she might be guarded against the defilements of the world. From this we learn:
Joachim and Ann offered to the Lord their only and most beloved child, and gave her up entirely to His service. Great as the sacrifice was, they yet made it. The preservation of the innocence of their daughter was to them above all else. Parents, God requires of you that you should not merely offer your children to Him in the temple, but that you should take care to keep them pure and holy, as living temples which have been consecrated in Baptism.
Mary gives and dedicates herself to God as soon as she is capable of serving Him, and that without any reservation, for all time, and irrevocably. When, then, shall we give ourselves in earnest to God? True, we have been given to Him in holy Baptism, we have been consecrated as His temples, we have renounced the devil and the world, we have vowed to live only for God, and this vow we have, perhaps, often renewed; but have we kept it? What we gave with one hand, have we not taken it away with the other? Have we not defiled the temple of our hearts by shameful lusts, lived for the world and vanity more than for God? Ah, when shall we give ourselves up to God sincerely and forever? Perhaps when we are old! But will God accept our offering then? Will He be pleased that we begin to serve Him only when we can no longer serve the world? that we first begin to live for Him when our life is soon to cease? No; God is a jealous Lord, and is not pleased with a heart divided between Him and creatures. He requires us to love Him with all our heart and all our soul, and to serve Him with all our powers. Let us, then, do this, and do it from our youth; let us keep ourselves in body and soul undefiled for the Lord; such love, and such love only, will He reward as perfect.
PrayerO God, Who wast pleased that the blessed Mary, ever virgin, the habitation of the Holy Ghost, should on this day be presented in the temple, grant, we beseech Thee, that by her intercession we may deserve to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 24:14-16From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
Gospel: Luke 11:27, 28And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
ExplanationBy His answer Jesus would have us understand that His Mother was not to be blessed merely because she bore Him, the Son of God, but rather because she at all times endeavored to keep the word of God in her heart and to observe it in her life. If you would be blessed, learn to be not only a hearer, but a doer, of the word of God.
Goffine's Devout Instructions
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
All Souls' Day
November 2ALL SOULS' DAY is the annual commemoration of all those souls who departed this life in the grace and favor of God but who are still detained in purgatory. Purgatory is that third place in the other world in which the souls of the departed suffer the temporal punishment of those sins for which in life they have not sufficiently atoned, and in which they are purified until they are worthy to appear in the presence of God.
- Is there a purgatory?
- Yes; it is a doctrine of our faith.
1. Even under the Old Law the Jews held to this belief, and accordingly Judas Machabeus sent twelve thousand silver drachmas to Jerusalem to procure the offering of sacrifices for the dead.
2. Under the New Law Jesus Christ seems to point to such a place (Matthew 5:26, 12:32). The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:
"The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon [upon Christ], he shall receive a reward; if any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss [by the fire of purgatory], but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1st Corinthians 3:13-15)
- A fire from which a man may be saved cannot be the fire of hell; for from hell there is no redemption. The words of Saint Paul, therefore, can only be understood of purgatory.
- What souls are they that go to purgatory?
- The souls of all those who, though dying in the grace of God, have yet something to atone for. Those persons dying in the grace of God are still friends of God, and certainly God does not cast those who are His friends into hell. It is, therefore, as suitable to the idea of God's mercy as it is consonant to reason that such souls should be first purified in purgatory.
- How can we assist the souls suffering in purgatory?
- 1. By our prayers. The Holy Scripture says: "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2nd Machabees 12:46) The Catholic Church has therefore always taught that the prayer of the faithful for the departed is holy and wholesome.
2. By the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the fruits of which are most beneficial to the souls in purgatory. For this reason holy Church has always, from the time of the apostles, remembered the dead in the holy Mass.3. By gaining indulgences, and other good works, by which we supplicate God to show mercy to the souls of the suffering, to accept what is performed by us in satisfaction for the punishment to be endured by them, and to bring them into the kingdom of everlasting peace and light. (Ecclesiasticus 7:37)
- When and how was this yearly commemoration of the departed introduced?
- The time of the introduction of this commemoration cannot be determined; for as early as the time of Tertullian he mentions that the Christians of his day held a yearly commemoration of the dead. Towards the end of the tenth century Saint Odo, abbot of the Benedictines, at Cluny, directed this feast to be celebrated yearly, on the 2d of November, in all the convents of his Order, which usage was afterwards enjoined upon the whole Christian world by Pope John XVI. The feast of this day was probably established in order that, after having one day before rejoiced over the glory of the saints in heaven, we should this day remember in love those who are sighing in purgatory for deliverance.
PrayerO God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that, by our pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired. Who livest and reignest, now and forever, Amen.
Epistle: I Corinthians 15:51-57Brethren: Behold I tell you a mystery: we shall all indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel: John 5:25-29At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Amen, amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself, and He hath giveth Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of man. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.
Goffine's Devout Instructions
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Feast of All Saints
Why has the Church appointed this feast?
- To honor God in His saints, in whom He has shown Himself so wonderful, and to thank Him, as the author of all sanctity, for the benefits He has bestowed upon them.
- To put us in lively remembrance of the communion of saints; that is, of all true children of the Church, whether they belong to the Church militant on earth, to the Church suffering in purgatory, or to the Church triumphant in heaven; but more particularly to cause us to consider, with earnestness, the communion of the saints in heaven with us, who are yet combating on earth.
- To encourage us to strive for the like sanctity with them, and to teach us that it is by no means impossible; for if thousands of men could become saints, why should not we, who can do all things through Him Who strengthens us, and has sent the Holy Ghost for our sanctification?
- To pay honor to those saints to whom no particular day in the year is dedicated.
- That, in consideration of so many intercessors, God may grant us perfect reconciliation, may give us a share in their merits, and may grant us the grace of one day sharing in their joy in heaven.
By whom was this feast instituted?By Pope Boniface IV, who, in the year 610, appropriated the Pantheon (that is, the temple of all gods) to the divine service of Christians, dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin and an saints, and commanded this feast in honor of all saints to be celebrated at Rome every year. Gregory IV, in the year 840, extended this feast to the whole Church, and transferred it to the 1st of November.
O Almighty God, Who hast granted us to venerate in one, solemnity the merits of an Thy saints, we beseech Thee that, as our intercessors are multiplied, Thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of mercy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Epistle: Apocalypse 7:2-12
In those days: Behold I John saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were signed, an hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda, were twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Ruben, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Nephthali, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Manasses, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand signed. After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God, saying: Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor, and power, and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
At that time: Jesus seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain, and when He was set down, His disciples came unto Him. And opening His mouth, He taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake; be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. This gospel is read to-day because it is by practising what it contains that the saints have gained the eternal kingdom.
Explanation of the Eight Beatitudes
- "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The poor in spirit are:
- Those who, like the apostles, readily forsake all earthly things, and for Christ's sake become poor.
- Those who, happening to Jose their property by misfortune or in justice, suffer the Joss patiently, in resignation to the will of God.
- Those who, like Jesus (Matthew 8:20), are content with theiE poor and humble position, seek no higher or happier one, and would rather suffer want than enrich themselves by unlawful acts, by fraud or theft.
- The rich and noble who set not their hearts upon the riches and greatness of the world (Psalm 61:11; I Corinthians 7:30), but who use their riches and influence to relieve the misery of the needy and oppressed.
- Finally, the truly humble, who, convinced of their weakness, their helplessness and misery, think lowly of themselves, and regard themselves but as beggars, who are always in need of the grace of God.
To all these, therefore, in whose hearts the world has no place, there is assured, as their inheritance, the kingdom of heaven; here the kingdom of grace, there the kingdom of glory.
- "Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land." That man is meek who does not murmur against God for sending afflictions upon him, who is not angry at men who do him injury, but who rather suppresses impatience, anger, envy, and revenge, nay, who seeks to recompense the evil done him by his neighbor with good. Such a one is greater than he who takes by storm fortified cities (Proverbs 16:32); he possesses an unfailing fountain of peace, quiet, and cheerfulness; by his meekness prevails over the most hostile minds, is by such means truly a ruler upon earth, and will one day, for his portion, obtain heaven, the land of the living, there to enjoy eternal peace.
- "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." By them that mourn we are not to understand such as grieve and lament over a death, a misfortune, a loss of worldly goods, or the like; but those who are grieved that God should be in so many ways offended by themselves and by others that His Church should be so heavily oppressed, and thereby so many souls lost that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. The only evil really to be grieved for is sin, and the tears shed on account of sin are the only tears that are profitable, for they shall be recompensed with everlasting joy.
- "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill." Hunger and thirst denote the most ardent longing after those virtues which constitute Christian perfection; such as humility, meekness, the love of God and of our neighbor, penance. Whoever longs for these virtues as the hungry man does for food and drink, and prays to God for them with perseverance and earnestness, shall have his fill; that is, he shall be enriched with them, and one day shall be satisfied with eternal happiness.
- "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The merciful here spoken of are: 1. Those who willingly forgive the injuries done to them. 2. Those who have compassion on their poor neighbors, and, according to their ability, sustain them by alms. These shall obtain mercy; that is, God will forgive them their sins and endow them abundantly with the goods of this world and of the world to come. Thus God deals with us as we deal with others. (Matthew 7:2)
- "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." The clean of heart are those who preserve with care the innocence with which they are invested at holy Baptism, or seek to regain it, when lost, by penance; those who keep their hearts and consciences unspotted from all sinful thoughts, particularly from all unchaste thoughts, desires, words, and acts, and who endeavor in all things to have a pure intention directed to God alone. They shall see God, that is, they shall know Him even here upon earth, for as the eye that is to see must be clean, so only souls that are pure and unstained can behold God. But further, our knowledge is like our hearts; the purer the heart the clearer and greater is the knowledge of God. But in the world above they shall see, know, and possess Him as He is. What blessedness! Strive, therefore, to keep your heart clean.
- "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God." By peace-makers we are to understand those who have peace with themselves, that is, a quiet conscience, and who endeavor to maintain peace among others, or to restore it when broken. Such are called the children of God, because they follow God, Who is a God of peace (Romans 15:33), and Who even gave His only Son to reconcile the world with Him (Romans 5:10), and to bring down upon earth that peace which the world itself could not give (Luke 2:14; John 14:27).
- "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Hereby all those are declared blessed who, on account of the true faith, of virtue, of the fear of God, of purity, are persecuted, calumniated, and even put to death, and who bear all this with Christian patience and constancy, nay, with joy. Thus have the saints done, and thereby they have gained the heavenly crown. Do we desire to be crowned with them, we must also suffer with them. And in truth, if we would apply ourselves zealously to virtue, occasions will not be wanting to us, for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II Timothy 3:12)
How lovely, O God, are Thy tabernacles! My soul longeth and fainteth for Thy courts, O living God, Who art the crown and reward of the saints, and repayest their sufferings and sorrows in this world with eternal joy. How blessed are all they who, in this life, have served Thee faithfully! They behold Thee and the Lamb of God face to face; they bear Thy name on their foreheads, and reign with Thee forever. We therefore beseech Thee, O God, through their intercessor, to grant us Thy grace to serve Thee after their example, in sanctity and justice; to follow them in poverty, humility, meekness, repentance, in ardent longing for all virtues, in peace-making and patience, and one day, like them, to share in the joys of heaven. Amen.
Goffine's Devout Instructions
Friday, October 27, 2006
October 28SAINT SIMON and SAINT JUDE were probably brothers; the former received the surname Canaanite, to distinguish him from Simon Peter, either because he was a native of Cana, or because of his zeal for Christ (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Judas was surnamed Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. Both were chosen apostles by Christ, and were constant witnesses of His life and deeds. It is related of them in the Martyrology that the light of faith was communicated to Egypt and other countries of Africa by Simon, and to Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Greater Armenia by Thaddeus. Meeting in Persia, and propagating the Christian faith there by their preaching and miracles, they both gained the crown of martyrdom. There is extant an epistle of Saint Jude which the Church has incorporated into the Holy Scriptures. From these two apostles learn to have zeal for the glory of God, for your own salvation and for that of your neighbor.
PrayerO God, Who, by means of Thy blessed apostles Simon and Jude, hast granted us to come to the knowledge of Thy name, grant that we may celebrate their eternal glory by making progress in virtue and improve by this celebration. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Epistle: Ephesians 4:7-13Brethren: To everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ. Wherefore He saith: Ascending on high He led captivity captive; He gave gifts to men. Now that He ascended, what is it, but because He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.
Gospel: John 15:17-25At that time Jesus said to His disciples: These things command you, that you love one another. If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember My word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake; because they know not Him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: They hated Me without cause.
ExplanationFrom the fact that Christ and His disciples were hated and persecuted by the world the greatest consolation and encouragement may be derived by those who are obliged to suffer mockery, contempt, and persecution because they are not of the world; that is, because they do not follow its foolish principles and sinful customs. But they who, to escape the derision and hatred of the world, side with it, rather than with Christ, may learn to be ashamed of their cowardice and baseness. For as it is an honor to the servant to be treated like his master, so it is a great disgrace to him to be treated better than his master; if, then, the master is pleased to submit to the hatred and persecution of the world, why do his servants refuse to do so?When Christ says that the Jews could not excuse themselves on the ground that they did not know Him, but had hated and persecuted Him when it was easy for them to have known Him by His works, He teaches us that ignorance is not in every case an excuse for sin. Those Christians, therefore, are in the highest degree culpable who, like the Jews, might easily learn what they ought to believe and do, but who fail to do so either through maliciousness or neglect, and accordingly remain in ignorance by their own fault. Acting in this kind of ignorance, they become guilty of sin, and will be justly condemned forever. It is otherwise with men who, without any fault of theirs, hear nothing of Christ or of the true faith, on account of which they are not punishable, but who will be condemned for such sins as they commit against that natural law which is inscribed on the heart of every man.
Goffine's Devout Instructions
Thursday, October 26, 2006
A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built.But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to be fittingly prepared for the offering of these gifts, and through the Mysteries of the most Holy Rosary, so to meditate upon the life, Passion and glory of Thine only-begotten Son, that we may be made worthy of His promises. Who liveth and reigneth with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Fifteen Promises of Mary to those who recite her Holy Rosary