Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday (Goffine's Devout Instructions)



Why is this day thus named?

Because on this day the Church blesses ashes, and places them on the heads of her faithful children, saying: "Remember man, thou art dust, and unto dust thou shaft return."

Why is this done?

St. Charles Borromeo gives us the following reasons for this practice: that the faithful may be moved to sincere humility of heart; that the heavenly blessing may descend upon them, by which they, being really penitent, will weep with their whole soul for their sins, remembering how earth was cursed because of sin, and that we have all to return to dust; that strength to do true penance may be given the body, and that our soul may be endowed with divine grace to persevere in penance.

With such thoughts let the ashes be put upon your head, while you ask in all humility and with a contrite heart, for God’s mercy and grace.

Is the practice of putting ashes upon our heads pleasing to God?

It is, for God Himself commanded the Israelites to put ashes on their heads for a sign of repentance. (Jer. XXV. 34.) Thus did David (Ps, CI. 10.) who even strewed ashes on his bread; the Ninivites, (Jonas III. 5.) Judith, (Jud, IX. 1.) Mardochai, (Esth. IV 1.) Job, (JobXLII. 6.) etc. The Christians of the earliest times followed this practice as often as they did public penance for their sins.

Why from this day until the end of Lent are the altars draped in violet?

Because, as has been already said, the holy season of Lent is a time of sorrow and penance for sin, and the Church desires externally to demonstrate by the violet with which she drapes the altar, by the violet vestments worn by the priests, and by the cessation of the organ and festive singing, that we in quiet mourning are bewailing our sins; and to still further impress the spirit of penance upon us, there is usually only a simple crucifix or a picture of Christ's passion, left visible upon the altar, and devoutly meditating upon it, the heart is mostly prepared for contrition.

In the Introit of this day's Mass the Church uses the following words to make known her zeal for penance, and to move

INTROIT God to mercy: Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made, winking at the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them; for thou art the Lord our God. (Wisd. XI. 24. 25.) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for my soul trusteth in thee. (Ps. LVI. 2.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Grant to thy faithful, O Lord, that they may begin the venerable solemnities of fasting with suitable piety, and perform them with tranquil devotion. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, etc.

LESSON (Joel II. 12-19) Thus with the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in 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, anal leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion: sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather together the people; sanctify the Church; assemble the ancients; gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts; let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride-chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests, the Lord's ministers, shall weep; and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people; and give not thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathens should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? The Lord hath been zealous for his land, and hath spared his people. And the Lord answered, and said to his people: Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and you shall be filled with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations, with the Lord Almighty.

EXPLANATION The Prophet Joel exhorts the Jews to sorrow and penance for their sins, that they evade the expected judgment to be sent by God upon the city of Jerusalem. He required of them to show their repentance not merely by rending their garments, a sign of mourning with the Jews, but by a truly contrite heart. The Church wishes us to see plainly from this lesson of the prophet what qualities our penance should possess, if we desire reconciliation with God, forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance at the Last Day, which qualities are not merely abstinence from food and amusements, but the practice of real mortification of our evil inclinations, thus becoming with our whole heart converted to God.

GOSPEL (Matt. VI. 16-21) 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.

EXPLANATION Jesus forbids us to seek the praises of men when performing good works, (fasting is a good work,) and still worse it would be to do good as the Pharisees, through hypocrisy. He also warns us against avarice and the desire for temporal riches, urging us to employ our temporal goods, in giving alms, and doing works of charity, thus laying up treasures in heaven, which are there rewarded and will last there forever. "What folly", says St. Chrysostom, "to leave our goods where we cannot stay, instead of sending them before us where we are going — to heaven!"'

-- Goffine's Devout Instructions


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Friday, February 01, 2013

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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