Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday In Lent (Goffine's Devout Instructions)

INVOCABIT

This Sunday is called Invocabit, because the Introit of the Mass begins with this word, which is taken from the ninetieth psalm, wherein we are urged to confidence in God, who willingly hears the prayer of the penitent:

INTROIT
He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; I will deliver him, and glorify him; I will fill him with length of days. (Ps. XC. 15-16.) He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most high shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. (Ps. XC. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT
O God who dost purify Thy Church by the yearly fast of Lent; grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by abstinence, by good works we may secure. Through our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE (II. Cor. VI. 1-10)
Brethren, we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now, is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed: but in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God; in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the armor of justice on the right hand, and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report, and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

EXPLANATION
The Church very appropriately reads on this day this epistle of St. Paul, in which he exhorts the Christians to make use of the time of grace. A special time of grace is Lent, in which everything invites to conversion and penance, a time, therefore, in which God is ready to make rich bestowal of His graces. St. Anselm says, those do not use the grace who do not cooperate. Let us, therefore, follow St. Paul's exhortation, and earnestly practise those virtues he places before us, and especially those of temperance, patience, chastity, liberality, love of God and of our neighbor. Let us arm ourselves with the arms of justice at the right and the left, that is, let us strive to be humble in prosperity and in adversity, confident of God's help. Let us never be led from the path of virtue, by mockery, contempt, nor by persecution, torments, or death.

ASPIRATION
Grant, O Jesus, that we may always faithfully cooperate with Thy graces, and employ well the time Thou hast again given for our salvation.

GOSPEL (Matt. IV. 1-11.)
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written: He hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shaft not tempt the Lord thy 'God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said to him: All these will I give thee, if, falling down, thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan, for it is written, The Lord thy God shaft thou adore, and him only shaft thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came, and ministered to him.

INSTRUCTION
I. Christ went into the desert by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to prepare by fasting and prayer, for His mission, and to endure the temptations of Satan, that, as St. Paul says, He might be one tempted in all things such as we are, without sin, and so become for us a High-priest who knew how to have compassion on our infirmities, (Heb. IV. 15.) and to show us by His own example, how we should, armed with the word of God, as with a sword, overcome the tempter. (Eph. VI. 17.) – Let us, therefore, courageously follow Christ to the combat against all temptations, with His assistance it will not be hard to conquer them. He has certainly taught us to overcome the hardest ones: the lust of the eyes, of the flesh, and the pride of life, and if we overcome these, it will be easy to conquer the rest.
II. If Christ, the only Son of God, permitted Himself to be tempted by Satan, even to be taken up on a high mountain, and to the pinnacle of the temple, it should not appear strange to us, that we are assailed by many temptations, or that we should find in the lives of so many saints that the evil spirit tormented them by various images of terror and vexation. This we find in the history of the pious Job, where we also find at the same time, that the evil spirit cannot harm a hair of our head without God's permission.
III. From the coming of the angels to minister to Christ, after He had conquered Satan, we see that all who bravely resist temptations, will enjoy the assistance and consolations of the heavenly spirits.

INSTRUCTION ON TEMPTATION

To be tempted by the devil. , (Matt. IV. I.)

What is a temptation?
A temptation is either a trial for instruction and exercise in virtue, or a deception and incitement to sin. In the first sense, God tempts man; in the second, he is tempted by the devil, the world or bad people, and the flesh, by evil thoughts, feelings, words, or work.
By what are we principally tempted?
By our own evil concupiscence and inclination to sin which adhere to us through original sin, (Fam. I. 14.) on account of which it is said, that the flesh lusteth against the spirit. (Gal. V. 17.)
Does the devil also tempt us?
He does, and is therefore called, in this day's gospel, the tempter. St. Peter teaches us this, having himself experienced it: Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring-lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter V. 8.) Not all temptations are to be ascribed to the devil, however, they often come from our own corrupt nature, our own incautiousness, or looseness of our senses, by which we expose ourselves to the danger of falling into sin.

How does the devil tempt us to sin?
In a twofold manner: He incites the concupiscence of man to those sins to which he sees him inclined, and then seeks to blind and confuse his imagination, so that he neither reflects, nor properly sees the temporal injury, disgrace, and derision, nor the shamefulness of sin and its eternal punishment. Thus the devil seduced Eve, our first mother, and thus he tempted Christ, with whom he could not, of course, succeed, for He was incapable of sin. He tempts bad people to persecute us, or to try us by their wicked vanities, as he did by the friends of Job.

Can the devil force us to evil?
He cannot; “for as a chained dog,” says St. Augustine, "can bite none but those who go near him, so the devil cannot harm with his temptations those who do not consent to them. Like the dog he can bark at you, but cannot bite you against your will.” Not by force but by persuasion Satan strives to injure, he does not force our consent, but entreats it. Seek, therefore, to subdue your passions and your senses, especially your eyes, and you will either remain free from all temptations, or easily overcome them.
Does God also tempt us?

God does indeed tempt us, but not to sin, as St. James expressly teaches. (Fam. I. 13.) God either Himself proves us by sufferings and adversities, or He permits the temptations of the devil or evil-minded people to give us opportunity to practise the virtues of love, patience, obedience, etc. Thus He said to the Jews through Moses: The Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him with all your heart, and with all your soul, or no. (Deut. XIII. 3.)

Does God permit us to be tempted by man also?
He does, and for the same reasons. Thus He permitted the chaste Joseph to be tempted by Putiphar's wife; (Gen.XXXIX. 7.) Job by his wife and his friends. (Job II. 9.) But He never permits us to be tempted beyond our strength, but gives us always sufficient grace to overcome and even to derive benefit from the temptation. (I Cor. X. 13.)

Are temptations pernicious and bad?
No; they are useful and necessary, rather. “Hard is the fight,” St. Bernard writes, “but meritorious, for although it is accompanied by suffering, it is followed by the crown;”
(Apoc. III. 12.) and Origen says. (Libr. Num.) “As meat becomes corrupt without salt, so does the soul without temptations.” Temptations, then, are only injurious when consent is given, and we suffer ourselves to be overcome by them.

When do we consent to temptations?
When we knowingly and willingly decide to do the evil to which we are tempted; as long as we resist we commit no sin.

What are the best means of overcoming temptations?
Humility; for thus answered St. Anthony, when he saw the whole earth covered with snares, and was asked "Who will escape?" "The humble;" he who knows his own frailty, distrusts himself, and relies only on God who resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble; (Dam. IV. 6.) the fervent invocation of the Mother of God, of our holy guardian angels and patron saints; the pronouncing of the holy name of Jesus, making the sign of the cross, sprinkling holy water; the remembrance of the presence of God who knows our most secret thoughts, and before whom we are indeed ashamed to think or do that which would cause us shame in the presence of an honorable person; frequent meditation on death, hell, and eternal joys; fleeing from all those persons by whom, and places in which we are generally tempted; fervent prayers, especially ejaculations, as:
"Lord, save me, lest I perish! Lord, hasten to help me!" finally, the sincere acknowledgment of our temptations at the tribunal of penance, which is a remedy especially recommended by pious spiritual teachers.

PRAYER
O Lord Jesus! who spent forty days in the desert without food or drink, and didst permit Thy self to be tempted by the evil spirit, give me, I beseech Thee by that holy fast, the grace to combat, during this holy season of Lent, under Thy protection, against intemperance, and to resist the suggestions of Satan that I may win the crown of eternal life. Amen.

Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ash Wednesday





Why is this day so called?
Because on this day the Catholic Church blesses ashes and puts them on the foreheads of the faithful, saying, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. iii. 19).

Why are the ashes blessed?
1. That all who receive them with a contrite heart may be preserved in body and soul. 2. That God may give them contrition, and pardon their sins. 3. That He may grant them all they humbly ask for, particularly the grace to do penance, and the reward promised to the truly penitent.

Why are the faithful sprinkled with ashes?
The sprinkling with ashes was always a public sign of penance; as such God enjoined it upon the Israelites (Jerimiah 25:34). David sprinkled ashes on his bread (Psalms 101:10). The Ninivites (Jonah 3:6), Judith (Judith 9:1), Mardochai (Esther 4:1), Job (Job 42:6), and others, did penance in sack-cloth and ashes.

The Prophecy of Joel 2:12-19

Therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride-chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people; and give not Thy inheritane to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them; why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealons for His land, and hath spared His people: Behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them: and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations, saith the Lord Almighty.


Explanation

The prophet, in these words, calls upon the Israelites to be converted, reminding them of the great mercy of God, and exhorting them to join true repentance for their sins with their fasting and alms. They should all, without exception, do penance and implore the mercy of God, Who would then forgive them, deliver them from their enemies, and bring peace and happiness upon them.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Saint Luke 3:1-6


At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father Who is in secret: and thy Father, Who seeth in secret, will repay thee. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

INSTRUCTION ON LENT

What is the origin of fasting?
Under the Old Law the Jews fasted by the command of God; thus Moses fasted forty days and forty nights, on Mount Sinai, when God gave him the Ten Commandments; Elias, in like manner, fasted in the desert. Jesus also fasted, and commanded His apostles to fast also. The Catholic Church, says St. Leo, from the time of the apostles, has enjoined fasting upon all the faithful.

Why has the Church instituted the fast before Easter?
1. To imitate Jesus Christ, Who fasted forty days. 2. To participate in His merits and passion; for as Christ could only be glorified through His sufferings, so in order to belong to Him we must follow Him by a life answering to His. 3. To subject the flesh to the spirit, and thus, 4. prepare ourselves for Easter and the worthy reception of the divine Lamb. 5. Finally, to offer to God some satisfaction for our sins, and, as St. Leo says, to atone for the sins of a whole year by a short fast of the tenth part of a year.

Was the fast of Lent kept in early times as it is now?
Yes, only more rigorously; for 1. The Christians of the early ages abstained not only from flesh-meat, but from those things which are produced from flesh, such as butter, eggs, cheese, and also from wine and fish. 2. They fasted during the whole day, and ate only after vespers, that is, at night.

How shall we keep the holy season of Lent with advantage?
We should endeavor not only to deny ourselves food and drink, but, still more, all sinful gratifications. And as the body is weakened by fasting, the soul, on the other hand, should be strengthened by repeated prayers, by frequent reception of the holy sacraments, attending Mass, spiritual reading, and good works, particularly those of charity. In such manner we shall be able, according to the intention of the Church, to supply by our fasting what we have omitted during the year, especially if we fast willingly, and with a good intention.


Prayer


O Lord Jesus, I offer up to Thee my fasting and self-denial, to be united to Thy fasting and sufferings, for Thy glory, in gratitude for so many benefits received from Thee, in satisfaction for my sins and those of others, and to obtain Thy holy grace that I may overcome my sins and acquire the virtues which I need. Look upon me, O Jesus, in mercy. Amen

-- Goffine's Devout Instructions



Thursday, February 02, 2012

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





February 2
commonly called Candlemas Day and Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary

On this day the Church solemnly celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the obedience and humility both of Mary and her divine Son, who, though not subject to the law in regard to purification and presentation, yet subjected themselves to it. Hence this feast is called the Purification of the Virgin Mary. In common speech we call it also Candlemas, because on this day the candles required for the divine service are blessed and carried in procession.

What is the design of this custom?

1. It is to remind us that Jesus, the light of the world, was offered up to His heavenly Father, by Mary, in the temple at Jerusalem, where He was called by Simeon a light for the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.

2. To remind us, also, of several important truths, to which the priest refers in the prayers at the blessings. Thus he prays that as the earthly light dispels the darkness of night, so Jesus, with the light of His divine doctrine, may clear away our spiritual blindness and ignorance, and lead us in the way of virtue; that as the Holy Ghost enlightened Simeon, so He may also enlighten us to acknowledge Jesus as the true light, to love Him and follow Him, to keep our hearts from the way of sin, and to guide them in the way of virtue, and to kindle them with the fire of holy love; finally, that God may preserve, in soul and body, those who use blessed candles with devotion, may hear their prayers, and grant them entrance into the kingdom of the eternal and ever-blessed light.

In the Introit of the Mass the Chnrch sings:
"We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy temple; according to Thy name, O God, so also is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of justice. Great is the Lord and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain."
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

Almighty, everlasting God, we suppliantly beseech Thy majesty that, as Thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst grant us to be presented to Thee with purified souls, Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

Epistle: Malachi 3:1-4

Thus saith the Lord: Behold I send My angel, and he shall prepare the way before My face. And presently the Lord Whom you seek, and the angel of the testament whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts: and who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fullers' herb: and he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years, saith the Lord Almighty.

Gospel: Luke 2:22-32

At that time: After the days of Mary's purification according to the law of Mostls were accomplished, they carried Jesus to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; and to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law: he also took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said: Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

Explanation

The Blessed Virgin presented herself and her divine Son at the temple so as not to give scandal to such as were ignorant of their being exempt from the law, to show from the first that Jesus was come to redeem sinners, and to leave us an example of humility and obedience. Mary offered the gift of a pair of doves, like the poor, because she was poor, and was not ashamed to acknowledge it before the world.

Instruction for Women after Childbirth

The law of purification in the Old Testament, it is true, no longer applies to Christian women, because the Church has done away with Jewish ceremonies. But the spirit and intention of that law the Church would yet have complied with. She permits women, therefore, to remain at home, with a good conscience, for six weeks after childbirth, or so long as circumstances may require, without attending divine service, in order to care for their health. This permission is, at the same time, an excellent admonition to women, that, in order to their recovery, they should refrain from anger, from exposure, from hard labor, from injurious food; to men, not to refuse their wives during this period, set apart by God Himself under the Old Law, the rest and attention which their nature requires.

But when this time is past the Church desires that women should, after the example of Mary, repair to the church with their children, to procure the blessing of the priest, to give thanks to God for their safe delivery, to dedicate their children to Him, and to implore of Him, with the priest, grace to bring up their offspring in piety and holiness. In this consists the so-called "churching of women"; and, from what has been said, it is evident, not only that it contains nothing to be ashamed of, but that it should by no means be omitted by such as desire God's blessing.

The feeble health of both women and children after child-birth is almost always owing to their having injured themselves by want of care.

Prayer for Women after Childbirth

Almighty and merciful God, Who didst lay upon our mother Eve the fit punishment for her disobedience that she should bear children in sorrow, I offer to Thee all the pains of my child-bearing in propitiation for my sins; and I thank Thee that, through Thy help, the fruit of my womb has been safely brought forth into the world, and new-born in Baptism. According to the example of the Mother of Thy only-begotten Son, I also offer to Thee my child for Thy holy service, and will earnestly strive to bring it up to Thy honor. To this end give me, through the intercession of the most blessed Virgin, Thy grace; bless me and my child, and grant that we may live according to Thy will here, and hereafter may obtain everlasting happiness. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, etc. Amen.

From Goffine's Devout Instructions

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