Friday, December 31, 2010

Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord (Goffine's Devout Instructions)




What festival is this?

This festival is set apart to solemnly commemorate the coming of the three wise men from the East, guided by a miraculous star which appeared to them, and directed them to Bethlehem, where they found Christ in the stable; here they honored and adored Him and offered gifts to Him.

Why is this day called Epiphqnid Domini, or Apparition of the Lord?

Because the Church wishes to bring before our mind the three great events in the life of Christ, when He made known to man His divinity: the coming of the wise men from the East, through whom He revealed Himself to the Gentiles as the Son of God; His baptism, on which occasion His Divinity was made known to the Jews, and His first miracle at the marriage of Cana, by which He revealed Himself to His disciples.

INTROIT.

Behold the Lord the Ruler is come; and the kingdom is in his hand, and power and dominion (Mal. 3). Give to the king thy judgment, O God; and to the king's son thy justice (Ps. 71:1). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT

God, Who on this day by the leading of a star didst reveal Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant, that we who know Thee now by faith may be brought to contemplate the beauty of Thy majesty. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE (Is. 60:1-6).


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 peoples; 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.

EXPLANATION.

The Prophet Isaias, in this epistle, predicts that the light of the Lord, which is Christ, will rise over Jerusalem, the prototype of the Church, and that the Gentiles who knew nothing of the true God, would come to walk in that light which Christ, by His doctrine and holy life, would cause to shine, and that numberless nations, from all parts of the world, would assemble as her children to adore the one true God. The fulfillment of this prophecy commenced with the adoration of the Magi, who are to be regarded as the first Christian converts of the Gentiles; the Church, therefore, very properly celebrates this day with great solemnity. We ought also to share in the joy of the Church, because our ancestors were Gentiles, and like the three wise men were called to the true faith. Let us exclaim with Isaias: 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 on his poor ones (Is. 49:13).

GOSPEL (Mt. 2:1-12).


When Jesus 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 the 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 ruler 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 own country.

What caused the three kings to undertake so tedious a journey?

A star which God permitted to appear in their land, at the sight of which they were inwardly enlightened, so that they at once recognized its signification. Let us learn from these kings who so readily responded to the inspiration of God, by immediately undertaking so difficult a journey, to follow without delay the promptings of divine grace, and from their zeal, and the fearlessness with which they asked Herod where the Messiah would be found, we should learn to seek and practice, without fear of men, whatever is necessary for our salvation.

Why did Herod fear, and all Jerusalem with him?

Because Herod, a proud, imperious, cruel, and therefore jealous king, was afraid, when he heard of a new-born king, that he would be deprived of his throne, and punished for his vices. A bad conscience is always ill at ease, and has no peace. There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord God (Is. 57:21). Jerusalem, that is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, feared because many of them were attached to Herod, and others, especially the chief priests and the scribes, feared they would be punished for their secret crimes, when the Messiah would come, of whom they knew that He shall judge the poor with justice, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked (Is. 11:4).

Why did Herod assemble the chief priests and the scribes?

Partly to find from them where the Messiah was to be born, partly and principally because God so directed it, that Herod and the chief priests, knowing the time and place of the Messiah's birth, would have no excuse for their infidelity. In the same way God often makes known to us, in the clearest manner the most wholesome truths, yet we heed them as little as did the Jews who had sufficient knowledge of the Messiah, indeed, even showed the way to the three kings, but made no use of it for themselves, and were therefore cast away.

Why did Herod say he wished to adore the child?

This he did out of wicked hypocrisy and dissimulation. He had no other intention than to put Jesus to death, and therefore affected piety to find out exactly the time and place of His birth. Thus do those murderers of souls who desire the fall of the innocent; they do not let their evil intentions be made known at once, and so they put on sheep's clothing, feign piety and devotion, until they creep into the heart from which, by flattery and irony about religion and virtue, and by presents, they expel shame, the fear of God, and thus murder the soul.

Why did the kings fall down and adore Christ?

Because by the light of faith they saw in the Infant at Bethlehem God Himself, and, notwithstanding the poverty of His surroundings, recognized in Him the expected Messiah, the new-born king of the Jews, and by prostrating themselves before Him paid Him the homage of their country.

Why did the kings offer gold, frankincense and myrrh?

Because it was the ancient Eastern custom, never to appear without presents before a prince or king, and the three kings, as the holy Fathers universally teach, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, desired by their presents to honor Christ as God, as king, and as man. Of this the venerable Bede writes: "The first of the kings, named Melchior, offered gold to Christ the Lord and king; the second, named Caspar, frankincense to the divinity of Christ; and the third, Balthassar, myrrh, by which was expressed that Christ, the Son of man, must die."

How can we bring similar offerings to Christ?

We offer gold to Him, when we love Him with our whole heart, and out of love to Him, present Him our will by perfect obedience and continual self-denial, as our will is our most precious treasure. We also offer Him gold when we assist the poor by alms given in His name. We offer Him frankincense when we devoutly and ardently pray to Him, especially when we meditate upon His omnipotence, love, goodness, justice and mercy. We offer Him myrrh when we avoid carnal desires, mortify our evil inclinations and passions, and strive for purity of body and soul.

Why did the kings return by another way to their own country?

This they did by command of God. From the example of the three wise men we should learn to obey God rather than man, that we must be obedient to His directions, even if we do not understand them; so the three kings obeyed, although they may not have understood why God commanded them to flee from Herod. After we have found God we should walk in the path of virtue, and not return to our old sinful ways. "Our fatherland is paradise, heaven," writes St. Gregory. "We have departed from it by pride, disobedience, abuse of the senses, therefore it is needed that we return to it by obedience, contempt of the world, and by taming the desires of the flesh; thus we return to our own country by another road. By forbidden pleasures we have forfeited the joys of paradise, by penance we must regain them."

ASPIRATION.


Give me, O divine Savior, the faith of those Eastern kings. Enlighten my understanding with the light which enlightened them, and move my heart, that I may in future follow this light, and sincerely seek Thee who hast first sought me. Grant also, that I may really find Thee, with the wise men may adore Thee in spirit and in truth, and bring to Thee the gold of love, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification, that, having here offered Thee the sacrifice of my faith, I may adore Thee in Thy eternal glory. Amen.



Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feast of the Holy Innocents (Goffine's Devout Instructions)



December 28

The account of the martyrdom of these children is given in the gospel of today. The Church justly honors them as martyrs, since they confessed Christ, if not by the mouth, yet by their death, which they suffered by reason of Herod's hatred against Christ.

The Introit of the Mass reads: "Out of the mouth of infants and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise, because of Thy enemies, O Lord. O Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth." Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

O God, Whose praise the martyred innocents confessed on this day - not by speaking, but by dying - mortify in us all the evils of vices, that our life also may confess by actions Thy faith, which our tongue proclaims. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

Epistle: Apocalypse 14:1-5

In those days I beheld a Lamb standing upon Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty-four thousand having His name, and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder; and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients; and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first-fruits to God and to the Lamb; and in their mouth there was found no lie, for they are without spot before the throne of God.

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18

At that time: An angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and His Mother, and fly into Egypt; and be there until I shall tell thee; for it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and His Mother by night, and retired into Egypt; and he was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called My Son. Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the Wise Men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men-children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had dilligently inquired of the Wise Men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

What persons are like Herod?

All those who destroy innocent children, in body or in soul, for example, imprudent and careless mothers who injure the fruit of their womb by excessive dancing, by heavy labor, by vehement anger or immoderate grief; unmanly men who are cruel to their wives while with child, who strike them, incite them to anger, or terrify them; heedless parents who neglect their little ones, who take them into bed at the risk of suffocating them, who do not take pains to keep them clean and healthy; those corrupt and godless women who destroy the fruit of their shame either before or after birth, and while yet unbaptized. But more cruel than all these, and even than Herod himself, are they who scandalize little children by impure conversations, by indecent songs, by acts of impurity in their presence, or by inciting them to the like; for thereby they plunge the souls of the children into destruction.
Goffine's Devout Instructions

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Nativity of Our Lord or Christmas (Goffine's Devout Instructions)



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 threefold 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 1: 9 ; Isaiah 9: 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” (Psalms 2: 7); “Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?” (Psalms 2: 1) Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Prayer.

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, forever,
Amen.

EPISTLE. Titus 2: 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 2. 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 (Hebrews 1: 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 today for the inexpressible benefit of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

OF THE SECOND MASS.

The Introit of this Mass reminds us of the temporal birth of Our Saviour in Bethlehem. “A light shall shine upon us today, 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” (Isaiah 9: 6). “The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty ; the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself” (Psalms 92. 1). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Prayer.

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 faith displays in our mind. Through
the same Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

EPISTLE. Titus 3: 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 onr
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 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 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 newborn 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” (Isaiah 9: 6). “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle, for He hath done wonderful things” (Psalms 97: 1). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Prayer.

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 Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.

EPISTLE. Hebrews 1: 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, 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 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.

Meditation.

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.

Aspiration.

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 1: 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 (Proverbs 8: 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 Godman, 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 1: 16).

Aspiration.

O God, Father in heaven, Who, in the form of an amiable child, hast given to us poor sinners this past night Thy only begotten 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.


Goffine's Devout Instructions

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Scripture: Zephaniah 3: 14 - 15



Give praise, O daughter of Sion: shout, O Israel: be glad, and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgment, he hath turned away thy enemies: the king of Israel the Lord is in the midst of thee, thou shalt fear evil no more.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From Goffine's Devout Instructions: The 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).

Prayer.

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 lie that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord corne : 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 cornes 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 myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord.” We should, therefore, examine ourselves 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).

Aspiration.

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.

Aspiration.

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 myself. 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.


Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

THE DIGITAL STORY OF THE NATIVITY

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From Goffine's Devout Instructions: The 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 : "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.

Prayer.

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 (n. 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 the holy martyrs in their agonies, and consoled others under persecution for Christ's sake (St. Matt. v. 11, 12).

Aspiration.

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 everything 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 "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 himself unworthy to loose the latchet of Christ s shoe.

Prayer.

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 myself 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.



-- Goffine’s Devout Instructions



Monday, December 06, 2010

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary




December 8

On this and the following eight days the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men. The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times. Pope Pius IX, forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally, on 8 December 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin. It is, therefore, now no longer, as fomerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith, that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin.

In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels. I will extol thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me." Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to bestow on Thy servants the gift of heavenly grace, that, for those to whom the Blessed Virgin's maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her immaculate conception may procure increase of peace. Through Christ our Lord, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Proverbs 8:22-35

The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths: when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits: when He balanced the foundations of the earth, I was with Him forming all things; and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times; playing in the world, and My delights were to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear Me: Blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth Me, and that watcheth daily at My gates, and waiteth at the posts of My doors. He that shall find Me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

Explanation

This lesson is, in the literal sense, a eulogy on the divine and uncreated wisdom, which before all things was in God; through which all things were made, disposed, and preserved; which rejoices in its works, and calls upon all its creatures, especially on men, to render to it love and obedience. Most of what is here said is also to be applied to Mary, of whom it may with truth be said that, as the holiest and most admirable of all creatures, she occupies the first place in the heart of God. Therefore the Church also refers to her those words of the wise man: "I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first born of all creatures."

Gospel: Luke 1:26-28

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.


--Goffine's Devout Instructions












Friday, December 03, 2010

From Goffine's Devout Instructions: The 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.

Prayer:

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 eter
nal 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.

Aspiration.

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, Jesusbegan 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 com
mands 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. T).

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 per
mission, Who never allows us to suffer more than is for our
good.
2. That if we call upon Him in adversity God will helpus,
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).


Goffine's Devout Instructions

:)

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