The Mother of God and Her Glorious Feasts

by Fr. H. O’Laverty

When any good work is started in the Church for the salvation of souls, we will always find that it must be built on the Cross, as the Church itself was built on the humiliations of the first Good Friday. When a saint is raised up by God to do great work for souls, it will always be found that the work is built on the Cross, and very many will give a helping hand so long as matters prosper, but they quickly fall away in the face of obstacles or ridicule. They join the crowd just as the hollow friends of Jesus joined the rabble on the first Good Friday. They are scandalized at the weakness of those who are chosen by God to carry out great works, falsely thinking that souls are saved by worldly wisdom or by worldly power. Mary was practically the only single soul that never lost the least confidence in Jesus nor ever for a moment wavered in her faith. This was a tremendous test of greatness of soul. 

 

Some may think that Jesus foretold to His Mother all the events of His Passion and all the future glory of His Resurrection, but there is really no reason for thinking so, and Mary may never have even known the nature of the sufferings of Jesus before the first Good Friday. She asked for no proof of the divinity of Jesus. Her faith was too deep to need proof. She never lost confidence in Jesus in the midst of all the interior desolation with which she was engulfed. Those who have experienced the anguish   of abandonment can realize that no other suffering can equal this abyss of loneliness and desolation Some of the saints have suffered for years this interior trial when God seems to have deserted the soul, and there seems to be nothing left but an abyss of indescribable loneliness and when the soul seems to be utterly deserted by God.  The saints persevered in their trust in God in the midst of this interior anguish, and as a reward for their trust Jesus gave them great glory for eternity. 

cruc.png

Communion Reveals God’s Love for You

From Holy Communion by Saint Peter Eymard

Not only does Communion enlighten our mind by a special grace, revealing to us, by impression rather than by reason, all that our Lord is, but it is also, and above all, the revelation to our heart of the law of love.

The Eucharist is the sacrament of love par excellence. Certainly the other sacraments are proofs of God’s love for us; they are gifts of God. But in the Eucharist, we receive the Author of every gift, God Himself. So it is in Communion especially that we learn to know the law of love that our Lord came to reveal. There we receive the special grace of love. There, finally, more than anywhere else, we acquire the practice, the virtue of love.

First of all, what is love? It is a gift. That is why the Holy Spirit, who, as love, proceeds from the First and Second Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, is truly the Gift.

How do we recognize love? By what it gives. See what our Lord gives us in the Eucharist: all His graces and all His possessions are for us; His gift is Himself, the source of every gift. Communion gives us participation in the merits of all His life and obliges us to recognize the love that God has for us, because, in Communion, we receive the whole and perfect gift.

How did you begin to love your mother? Sleeping within you, without sign of life, was a seed, an instinct, of love. Your mother’s love awakened it; she cared for you, suffered for you, fed you with her body. By this generous gift you recognized her love. Well then! Our Lord, by giving Himself entirely to you, and to you in particular, proves to you invincibly that He loves you personally with an infinite love. He is in the Eucharist for you and entirely for you. Others enjoy Him also, to be out preventing you from enjoying its rays as much as you wish.

Ah, such is this law of love engraved in our hearts by God Himself in Communion! In olden times, God wrote His law on tables of stone, but the New Law He has written in our hearts, with letters of fire. Oh, whoever does not know the Eucharist does not know the love of God! At most, he knows certain effects of it, as the beggar recognizes the generosity of the rich man from the few coins he receives from him. But in Communion, the Christian sees himself loved with all of God’s power to love, with all of Himself. Therefore, if you would really know God’s love for you, receive the Eucharist, and then look within you. You have no need to seek elsewhere for further proofs.

Communion gives us the grace of love. In order to love Jesus Christ as a Friend we need a special grace. Jesus, in coming to us, brings this grace at the same time that He places the object of it — that is, Himself — in our soul. Our Lord did not ask His disciples before the Last Supper to love Him as He had loved them; He did not yet say to them, “Abide in my love.” That was too hard for them then; they would not have understood. But after the Last Supper, He no longer says simply, “Love God; love your neighbour,” but, “Love me as a brother, intimately, with a love that is your life and the law of your life.” “I will not now call you servants…but friends.”

If you do not receive Communion, you can love our Lord as your Creator, your Redeemer, and your Rewarder, but you will never see in Him your Friend. Friendship is based on union, on a certain equality, two thing that are found with God only in the Eucharist. Who, I ask you, would dare call himself the friend of God and believe himself worthy of His particular affection? A servant would insult his master in presuming to treat him as a friend; he must wait until his master grants him the right by first calling him by that name.

But when God Himself has come under our roof; when He has come to share with us His life, His possessions, and His merits; when He has thus made the first advances, we no longer presume, but with reason call Him our Friend. So, after the Last Supper, our Lord tells His Apostles, “I will not now call you servants. I call you friends. You are my friends, because all things whatsoever I have received of my Father I have given to you; you are my friends, because to you I have confided the secret of my majesty.”

He will do even more; He will appear to Mary Magdalene and say to her, “Go to my brethren.” What? His brethren? Can there be a higher title? Yet the Apostles had received Communion only once! What will it be for those who, like us, have received Him so often?

Will anyone be afraid now to love our Lord with the tenderest affection? It is well to tremble before Communion, thinking of what you are and of Him you are about to receive; you need His mercy then. But afterward, rejoice! There is no longer room for fear; even humility must make way for gladness. See how joyous Zacchaeus is when our Lord accepts his hospitality! But see, too, how his devotion is fired by this kind reception; he is ready to make every sacrifice and to atone over and over for all his sins.

The more you receive Communion, the more will your love be enkindled, your heart enlarged; your affection will become more ardent and tender as the intensity of this divine fire increases. Jesus bestows upon us the grace of His love. He comes Himself to kindle this flame of love in our hearts. He feeds it by His frequent visits until it becomes a consuming fire. This is in truth the “live coal which sets us on fire.” And if we so will, this fire will never go out, for it is fed not by us but by Jesus Christ Himself, who gives to it His force and action. Do not extinguish it by willful sin, and it will burn on forever.

Come often, every day if necessary, to this divine Furnace to increase the tiny flame in your hearts! Do you think your fire will continue to burn if you do not feed it?

Communion makes us practice the virtue of love. True and perfect love finds its full expression only in Communion. If a fire cannot spread, it goes out. So our Lord, wishing us to love Him and knowing how incapable of it we are of ourselves, fill us with His own love; He Himself comes and loves in us. We, then, work on a divine object. There is no gradual passage or transition; we are simultaneously in the grace and in the object of love. That is why our best and most fervent acts of love are made during our thanksgiving; we are nearer then to Him who forms them. Pour out your heart to our Lord at this time. Love Him tenderly.

Do not try so hard to make this or that act of virtue. Let our Lord grow within you. Enter into partnership with Him; let Him be the capital in your soul’s traffic, and your gains will be doubled with the doubling of your spiritual funds. Working with and by our Lord, you will gain a greater benefit than if you tried to increase your virtues simply by multiplied acts.

Receive our Lord, and keep Him as long as you can. Make plenty of room for Him within you. To let Jesus Christ increase in one’s soul is the most perfect act of love. Certainly, penitent and suffering love is good and meritorious; but the heart is repressed by it, weighted down beneath the thought of the continual sacrifices it must bear. This way, on the contrary, the heart expands, opens fully and freely; it shows its happiness.

For one who does not receive Communion, these words have no meaning; but let him plunge into this divine fire, and he will understand.

No, it is not enough simply to believe in the Holy Eucharist; we must also obey the laws it prescribes. Since the Eucharist is above all the Sacrament of love, our Lord desires us to share in that love and draw inspiration therefrom. So come to Jesus out of love for Him! We must come humbly, to be sure; but let love, or at least the longing to love, be our ruling motive. Let us desire to pour out our heart in His Heart; let us give evidence to Him of our tenderness and affection. Then we shall know what depths of love are in the adorable Eucharist.

nuns.png

Commentary on the Epistle and Gospel of the 3rd Sunday of Lent

EPISTLE

Context: The doctrine expounded in Ephesians is the pre-eminence of Christ and the intimacy of our union with Him in the Mystical Body. This intimacy demands that we avoid all the vices of our former unregenerate state, replacing them with Christian virtues. In this moral section of the Epistle, Paul is enumerating particular vices and dangers against which the faithful must guard.

Text: Be imitators of God: as children of God, Christians must resemble Him, and especially in the virtue of love so eminently exemplified in Christ’s death for us.

There follows a list of six terms describing various forms of immodesty, in act or word or thought (covetousness referring to evil desires). These are not even to be mentioned among them as unbecoming to Christians, but to be replaced by sentiments and words of thankfulness to God. The motive: those defiled by immodesty cannot enter the kingdom established by the blood of Christ our God.

For that is idolatry: he who is covetous makes gold, or here perhaps lust, his God.

Lead you astray with empty words: the false teachers were then disturbing the Christian communities in western Asia Minor.

Because of these things: the species of immorality just mentioned.

Children of disobedience: those who resist God’s will.

Partakers: Christians must avoid the sinful actions of their pagan neighbours.

Darkness: their unregenerate past which experienced these sins.

Light: their new sphere, whose fruits are goodness as opposed to sinfulness, justice as opposed to dishonest dealings, truth as opposed to lying.

GOSPEL

Context: The events recorded in today’s Gospel took place in the second year of our Lord’s public ministry. It consists of three parts: the blasphemy of the Pharisees about Jesus’ union with Beelzebub, the return of the unclean spirit to take possession of a man, and the praise of Mary.

The choice of today’s Gospel was based on the circumstances that the solemn exorcism of catechumens took place on this Sunday, when they renounced Satan, all his works and all his pomps. The Gospel was to point out to them Jesus’ triumphant struggle against Satan. It is uncertain whether the praise of Mary was originally included.

 

Text: The same was dumb: because of the effect that the devil had wrought upon his victim, he as well as the man is referred to as being dumb.

Beelzebub: means lord of flies. Mentioned in the Old Testament as the god of Accaron, it was considered as the god who warded off flies. At the time of our Lord, the Jews applied the name to the prince of devils. The blasphemous accusation was made to suppress the enthusiasm of the people for Jesus and destroy their faith in Him.

Every kingdom divided against itself, etc: unity is an essential quality for the existence of any society; a society divided by discord will soon come to ruin.

If, then Satan, also is divided against himself, etc: it would be a contradiction for Satan to cooperate with anyone in the destruction of his kingdom.

Then the kingdom of God has come upon you: i.e. the messianic kingdom was being established and the kingdom of Satan was being destroyed.

The strong man: Satan, the prince of this world (John 12, 31), held men as his slaves by reason of sin.

If a stronger than he: Jesus overcame the power of Satan, and His fellow-combatants will share in the joys and fruits of His victory. He who is not with me, etc: in this raging conflict man must make up his mind what army he will join, since neutrality is impossible.

The last state of that man becomes worse than the first: the conqueror of Satan was Jesus, but now Israel’s unfaithfulness and pride was leading to a second and worse estrangement from God than before.

Rather, blessed are they who hear, etc: Jesus does not deny that His Mother is blessed, but stressed the fact that obedience to God’s word constitutes a spiritual relationship which is above carnal relationship, and thus He commends His Mother above all (cf. also Luke 8, 21).

legion.png

The Public Life of Our Lord: Jesus is Transfigured

From The Public Life of Our Lord by Bishop Goodier

Up this mountain Jesus climbed along with His three companions. Evidently this was nothing strange to them. They had grown accustomed to these retirements; of late in particular they had become frequent, as if, after the disappointments of His months of activity, He were preferring to revert to His original method of prayer. They came up the hill, expecting nothing strange; indeed when they reached the summit they were very weary. Here, as was His custom, Jesus went aside to pray; the three left together did likewise, with goodwill enough, but their eyes and their limbs were heavy. In a very short time they were lost in slumber, closely akin to sleep.

But very soon they were awakened. They had come up on the evening; by now it was deep night; yet they found themselves surrounded by light, brighter than the light of day. The light came from the spot where Jesus had knelt down, and in spite of themselves their eyes were drawn towards it. There in front of them standing and looking towards them, was a figure that filled them with fear. Was it Jesus? If so, then He was completely changed; so changed that at first they could not recognize Him. His very countenance was no longer the same. Could it be called human? At all events there were no human words with which it could be described. It shone so brightly that as they looked at it their eyes were dazzled; a light seemed to shine through it from within, brilliant and blinding as the very sun itself. His clothing, too, was shining; His rough workman’s garment was transformed, Solomon in all his glory was never clothed as He. One might call its colour white, yet was it whiter than white, whiter than dazzling snow, whiter than any man could make white, brighter than the whitest light.

“And whilst he prayed

He was transfigured before them

And the shape of his countenance was altered

And his face did shine as the sun

And his garments became white and glittering

And exceeding white as snow

So as no fuller on earth can make white.”

For awhile the three men were spell-bound. They forgot themselves, they forgot their surroundings; they were lost, paralysed, carried utterly beyond themselves, dead yet alive, in the fascination of the vision before them. It was glory, it was triumph; it was magnificence beyond imagination; it was an ecstatic moment, when eye, and mind, and heart, and soul, each beheld with its own peculiar power of vision, and was caught, and enthralled, and enraptured, carried out of life, yet thereby made to feel in the very essence of their being the utter joy of living. It was heaven; it was freedom from all bondage; it was the light which was the life of men, the light shining in the darkness, the light enlightening every man that cometh into the world. Jesus Christ, the Light, the Life, the Son of the Living God! Their hearts were fit to burst with the fulness of it all, the fulness of all grace, of all truth.

Presently they became aware that there were not alone; besides themselves were other spectators of the vision. As their eyes grew more accustomed to the dazzling brightness, or as they turned away for relief, they discerned two men— or were they men? They seemed too full of light, too majestic!—standing on His either side, and holding conversation with Him. They were holding serious discussion, as three men might who had gone apart to make some plan for future. What were they discussing? That, too, they soon discovered. One spoke of the first son of Eve, Abel, slain by his brother, Cain; of Isaac offered in sacrifice by his father, Abraham, of the blood of the lamb that was spread upon the door-posts in Egypt, and saved the Hebrews from the angel of death; of the lamb that was killed and eaten to commemorate the great delivery; of the cross uplifted in the desert to save the people from their doom; of the sacrifices, of the scapegoat, of all those signs that pointed to Him who was to come, and therefore

“Of his decease

That he should accomplish in Jerusalem.”

Then spoke the second figure. He dwelt on the message of the prophets, their words, their warnings, and their doom; on the suffering that awaited everyone who spoke the word of God to this stubborn and stiff-necked people; on the picture of the Messias that had grown in ever darker colours as the ages had advanced; on the prophecy contained in the story of Israel itself, perishing and again its dead bones given life. Long was his tale; prophecy followed prophecy, but the sign foreshadowed was clear to demonstration. The prophet spoke, too,

“Of his decease

That he should accomplish in Jerusalem.”

In a dazed state the three men listened, overcome by what they saw, hearing the words that were said, paying little heed to their significance; only long afterwards, when at last the whole drama was complete, did it all come back upon them. In the present they could not think; only by degrees, from the words that were said, from an interior recognition, they came to perceive who were these two that spoke with Jesus. They were Moses and Elias; Moses the Giver of the Law, Elias the founder of the school of the prophets.

For some time these three figures standing in the brightness held their conversation. At length there came an end; the two that had come began to fade away into the surrounding mist of the light. Then speech returned to Peter. He was still beside himself; being more spontaneous, more enthusiastic, he was more beside himself than the others. What he said he scarcely knew, nor did he greatly care but his bursting heart must say something, whatever words came first to his mind. And what words could more express his heart at that moment than words of joy in prayer? Oh! The delights of such prayer as this! Oh! The satisfaction of living forever thus alone with the Lord! This was indeed to live; this was the light, the life; and since it was that, why, then let it go on forever! Let the weary world go by, the weary, disappointing world! Here on this mountain, with him, Peter, as the rock foundation, Jesus and they would begin forthwith to build their Church, and the gates of hell should not prevail against it.

transfiguration.png

The Temptation of Our Lord in the Desert

from the Summa of Saint Thomas Aquinas ( III, q. XLI, a. 1 )

"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Matt. IV, 1

Our Lord wished to be tempted; first that He might strengthen us against temptations. Hence Saint Gregory says: “It was not unworthy of our Redeemer to wish to be tempted, who came also to be slain; in order that by His temptations He might conquer our temptations, just as by His death He overcame our death.”

Secondly, that we might be warned, so that none, however holy, may think himself safe or free from temptation. Wherefore also He wished to be tempted after His baptism, because, as Saint Hilary says: “The temptations of the devil assail those principally who are sanctified, for he desires, above all, to overcome the holy. Hence also it is written (Sirach 2): ‘Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.’ ”

Thirdly, in order to give us an example: to teach us, to wit, how to overcome the temptations of the devil. Hence Saint Augustine says that Christ “allowed Himself to be tempted" by the devil, "that He might be our Mediator in overcoming temptations, not only by helping us, but also by giving us an example.”

Fourthly, in order to fill us with confidence in His mercy. Hence it is written (Hebrews 4:15): “We have not a high-priest, who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.”

As stated above, Our Lord of His own free-will exposed Himself to be tempted by the devil, just as by His own free-will He submitted to be killed by His members; else the devil would not have dared to approach Him. Now the devil prefers to assail a man who is alone, for, as it is written (Ecclesiastes 4:12), "if a man prevail against one, two shall withstand him." And so it was that Christ went out into the desert, as to a field of battle, to be tempted there by the devil. Hence Ambrose says that “Christ was led into the desert for the purpose of provoking the devil. For had he,” i.e. the devil, “not fought, He,” i.e. Christ, “would not have conquered.” He adds other reasons, saying that “Christ in doing this set forth the mystery of Adam's delivery from exile,” who had been expelled from paradise into the desert, and “set an example to us, by showing that the devil envies those who strive for better things.”

Also, it was becoming that Christ should wish to fast before His temptation. First, in order to give us an example. For since we are all in urgent need of strengthening ourselves against temptation, as stated above, by fasting before being tempted, He teaches us the need of fasting in order to equip ourselves against temptation. Hence Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 6:5-7) reckons “fastings” together with the “armor of justice”.  Secondly, in order to show that the devil assails with temptations even those who fast, as likewise those who are given to other good works. And so Christ's temptation took place after His fast, as also after His baptism. Hence since rather Chrysostom says: “To instruct thee how great a good is fasting, and how it is a most powerful shield against the devil; and that after baptism thou shouldst give thyself up, not to luxury, but to fasting; for this cause Christ fasted, not as needing it Himself, but as teaching us.”

Thirdly, because after the fast, hunger followed, which made the devil dare to approach Him. Now, when “Our Lord was hungry,” says Saint Hilary, “it was not because He was overcome by want of food, but because He abandoned His manhood to its nature. For the devil was to be conquered, not by God, but by the flesh.” Wherefore Chrysostom too says: “He proceeded no farther than Moses and Elias, lest His assumption of our flesh might seem incredible.”

devil and Jesus.png

Overcoming the Overwhelm

The following is a brief article from a long-time executive which might prove helpful to many in organizing our busy lives.  It must be noted that its aim is the natural.  One should never discount, however, the importance and the need to use common sense and even natural prudence, remembering that grace is to permeate a well-formed nature.  As the old Catholic saying goes:  One must pray as if all depends on God, but work as if all depends on oneself.  May these words of advice help us to better prepare for a most generous and grace-filled Lent.

 

We all experience those days or weeks where there is just so much coming at us that we almost feel paralyzed. You know you need to do something, but you don’t know which something. And we pressure ourselves with a constant reminder that we have more to and need to do it better!

We all get overwhelmed. We all have a longer list of things to do than we have time in the day. We all feel everything is important. We all want to do everything right now so we can get on to the next thing.

I felt the pressure cooker when I became vice president of a large company. About a week into the job, I realised I had to have an organized plan not only in order to get everything done, but equally as important, to fight the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed. I was fine with admitting my feelings (to myself), but I needed to have a game plan for when that overwhelming feeling crept in.

Whether they admit it or not, this happens to us all. The important difference is in what we do about it. I came up with this list to guide me:

·       Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

·       It’s about Priority Management — Not Time Management

·       Make Time — Don’t Find Time

·       Plan Your Day — Don’t Just Show Up Today

·       Make Decisions — Don’t Just Shuffle Paper

·       Extend the Game

·       Make Time to Think

·       Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

It’s always about what is most important, and I work hard to tackle and complete that first. This takes discipline and focus.

It’s about Priority Management — Not Time Management

My priorities are all about what I need to do, not what I want to do. I structure my day with my priorities placed in my schedule first. Then I build in anything else I want to get done.

Plan Your Day — Don’t Just Show Up Today

Build a schedule that you can sustain. Start the day with a plan.

Make Decisions — Don’t Just Shuffle Paper

This is a reminder to me that decisions are part of each day. I need to do my due diligence and then make the decision. Period.

Extend the Game

This is a saying in sports that means you have to get more of the clock. In basketball we may foul an opponent, so they have to shoot free throws and then we get the ball back with no time having come off the clock. I do the same thing now If I have more to pack in a day, I may get up at 4:00 am and not 5:00 am, extending my day.

Make Time to Think

We can’t make quality decisions unless we put quality thought into them. Don’t get caught on the treadmill of the workday, make time to think. Good decisions are a priority for success.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

For me, simplification takes away a lot of the hesitation I get with complexity. Complexity causes doubt; doubt causes hesitation; hesitation hurts productivity.

826bf40ba91e547eaa138bc608a73cb6.jpg

The Public Life of Our Lord (The Sower)

As was usual with Him, Jesus took in the scene that rose up before Him, the people gathered on the shore, the hill with its richness and poverty rising up behind; for His purposes it was enough. And now He would make use of it in a new way. Hitherto He had taken the sights and materials about Him to illustrate what He had to teach; now He would reverse the process. Henceforth men must discover for themselves the meaning of His words. It was indeed a complete transformation; as they sat about, the disciples could not help observing it. Later they spoke of this day as one marking a distinct development; only then did they realize all it signified. Hence the solemnity with which the Evangelists open their description:

“The same day Jesus, going out of the house, sat by the seaside; and great multitudes were gathered together and hastened out of the cities onto him, so that He went up into a boat and sat in the sea. And all the multitude stood upon the land by the seaside. And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his own doctrine: “Hear ye. Behold the sower went out to sow his seed; and whilst he soweth some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down and the birds of the air came and ate it up. And other some fell upon rocky ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth. And when the sun was risen it was scorched, and because it had no root nor moisture it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it; and it yielded no fruit. And some fell upon good ground, and brought forth fruit that grew up and increased, and yielded some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.”

Certainly a beautiful and peaceful introduction; an eclogue. There was a pause; the people waited for the rest. What is this? There was an expression on His face; a shadow of the sadness He had shown, that morning when He turned in anger on the Pharisees, seems to pass over Him now. He seems not happy, he seemed disappointed; clearly the men in such numbers before him, and the enthusiasm they professed, meant little to him at this moment. Still they waited for what He next would say, the doctrine He would draw from this story; they were surprised, they wondered what He might mean, when, with an abrupt conclusion,

“he cried out: he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

This is all that we are told; the sermon ended there. To the astonishment of the gathered crowd He stepped out of the boat, and made as if He would go. The sun had now sat behind the hill, and the shadows were gathering fast.

It had been a long day; they let Him go. The crowd broke up and saw its rest; some in town, most along the bank where the regular lapping of the waves inviting all the world to silence. To us after all these years, and after learning the interpretations given by the Master Himself, the meaning of the parable seems so clear as to the obvious. But if we take them apart, without any explanation whatsoever, it will easily be seen how mysterious, how like deep riddles, they must have appeared to those multitudes by the Lake of Galilee. Even to us there are parables still not finally interpreted; how much more must it have been to them! It was certainly a new beginning. Hitherto all that He had said had been plain and explicit, never more than in a culminating Sermon on the Mount. Now all was changed. He would have them discover for themselves; nay, He put before them doctrines which of themselves they would never interpret. The key to His meaning they would need to apply to a definite teacher; the teaching by parables was the founding of the authority of the teaching Church.

It was more. The time was passing fast, and the end of all was already beginning to loom in sight. He had much yet to do and say; above all He had to tell men of things that were in themselves beyond the reach of human understanding. That they might be able to accept these things though they would not understand them; that their faith in Him as Man, which was all that at present He had won, might rise to faith in Him as truly Son of God; for this a new mind was needed. It was necessary now that they should be trained to accept truths and doctrines which at first they would not grasp, truths which they could take only on the aithority of another. When they had become reconciled to this, then they would more easily receive the highest teaching of all that in no long time He would give them; teaching which, judged by their present human standard only, would be “a hard saying,” and wholly unacceptable. Thus step by step, without any harshness or compulsion, did Jesus lift up and train the minds of men to receive the full interpretation of Himself.

Some such realization as this came upon the Twelve after they had listened to the sermon by the sea. Jesus did not waste His words; He would not spend His time in just entertaining an interested audience. The picture He had drawn of the Sower and his Seed, though to many it seemed merely a picture, yet, because it came from Him, must have something deep beneath it. They discussed it with one another; His last words,

“He that hath ears to hear let him hear,”

had made them doubly serious; yet could they not agree among themselves what exactly it might mean. Nevertheless they knew that it was vital that they should understand. They had been chosen; He had expressly told them that soon He would send them out to teach others; for their better training He was keeping them with Him wherever He went. They would go to Him; they would confess their ignorance; they would ask Him to give them light.

The evening had closed in and the Master had retired to His cottage to be alone. But the Twelve knew where to find Him; they also knew that, come when they might, their coming would never be taken as an intrusion. He might at times escape from others; there is never once a sign that He wished to escape from them, unless for their own sakes to keep them from sharing His danger. They could come to Him whenever they would; His love of their company, at the end, grew to a great reliance; to miss this trait, this ever-increasing love of, this trust in, this human dependence on the Twelve, binding them to Him by emptying Himself out before them till they know He was in need of their support, their companionship, their affection, is to miss another of the characteristic features of Jesus.

sower-3.jpg

Do Not Yield to Discouragement

An excerpt from Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli:

Expect often to feel disturbed and deprived of the holy and sweet solitude and precious liberty, because, from the emotions of your heart, a cloud of dust will sometimes arise, and it will give you much trouble on the road you have to travel. God permits this for your greater good. Remember that this is the war in which the saints have carried off crowns of great merit.

In all the things that disturb you, say, “Behold, Lord, Thy servant; let Thy will be done in me. I know and confess that the truth of Thy Word shall stand fast forever; and Thy promises are sure, and in them do I trust. Behold Thy creature; do with me what Thou wilt. I have nothing, my God, that holds me back. I am Thine alone.”

Happy is the soul that thus offers itself to its Lord every time it is troubled and disturbed. And if the struggle lasts long, and you cannot as quickly as you would wish bring your will into conformity with the will of God, be not on this account discouraged or bewildered. Persevere in self-oblation and in prayer, and you shall gain the victory.

See Christ’s conflict in the garden, and how His humanity recoiled from it, saying, “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me.” But at once He placed His soul in solitude and, with a will free and detached, said with deep humility, “Yet, not my will, but Thine be done.” See and act according to this pattern. Do not move a step, when you find yourself in any difficulty, until you have raised your eyes to Christ on the Cross; there you will see written and stamped in large letters how you should act. Copy faithfully this example.

Be not dismayed if sometimes your love of self disturbs you. Do not leave the Cross, but return to prayer, and persevere in lowliness until you have lost your own will, and will only that God’s will may be done in you. And if, when you leave off praying, you have gathered only this one fruit, be contented; but if you have not achieved this, your soul will remain empty and hungry. Strive not to brood over anything, even for a short time, but strive to let God alone dwell in your heart.

Do not harbor a feeling of gall or bitterness toward anything or person, and do not let your eyes rest on the malice and bad example of others, but be like a little child, who has no consciousness of these bitter feelings, and passes through the midst of them without offense.

As it is our adversary, the Devil’s custom to seek to devour souls, he uses every possible means to lead us to forsake humility and simplicity, and to make us attribute something to ourselves, to our own industry and efforts, irrespective of the grace that is given to us, without which no one can name the name of Jesus.

And although of ourselves by the exercise of our free will, we can resist this grace, we cannot even receive it without its assistance. Thus, if any man does not receive grace, it is his own fault; but if he does receive it, he can do so only through the same grace — a grace, however, that is sufficiently bestowed upon all. Our adversary, then, would make us think and believe that of ourselves we are more diligent than others, and that we are better disposed for receiving the gifts of God. In this way, he would lead us to pride and make us forgetful of our own insufficiency, when unaided, and then would induce us to despise in our hearts others who do not do the same good works that we do.

Therefore, unless you are very watchful, and instantly turn with all promptness to humble, abase, and annihilate self, he will make you fall into pride…And if, in this manner, he ever gets possession of your will, he will make himself master of it and put into it all kinds of vices, to your great hurt and peril.

Therefore, the Lord warns us to watch and pray. It is indispensable, then, that you should use the utmost vigilance, in order to prevent the enemy from robbing you of so great a treasure as peace and quietness of mind; for with all his might he tries to deprive you of this repose and to make you live in continual unrest, knowing that such a state is fraught with danger and injury to your soul.

For if a soul is at peace, all things are done with ease, and great things are done well; hence, it willingly perseveres and surmounts all opposition with ease. On the other hand, if it is disturbed and unquiet, it does little, and does that little very imperfectly, and soon becomes weary, and, in fact, lives in a fruitless martyrdom.

If you wish, then, to come off victorious, and to foil the enemy when he attempts to destroy your labours, there is nothing about which you must be more on your guard than not to let your soul become disturbed, nor to consent even for a moment to any temptation to disquietude.

And in order that you may know the better how to guard yourself against the wiles of the enemy, make it a certain rule in this case that every thought that discourages you and lessens your love and confidence toward God, is a messenger from Hell, and therefore to be driven away and banished from your presence without an audience. For the office of the Holy Spirit is none other than always to unite the soul on all opportunities more and more closely with God, enkindling and inflaming it with His sweet love, and with fresh confidence in Him; whereas the work of the Devil ever points in the opposite direction and consists in the employment of all means in his power, such as inordinate fear, exaggeration of our natural weakness; and scruples as to the dispositions for Confession, Communion, or prayer, so that by these suggestions he may render us distrustful, fearful, and restless. The absence of warm feelings in our devotions, of delight in our prayers and other exercises, he uses as an opportunity for producing impatient sadness, construing it into a sign that all is lost, into a reason for discontinuing our spiritual exercises, and finally into a ground for despair, so that, do what we will, we think it will be in vain and fruitless. Thus, sadness and fear go on increasing until we imagine that we are forgotten by God.

But this is not the truth…Many blessings come to the soul through bitterness and dryness of spirit, when it is received with humility and patience. If we understood this, doubtless when we were visited in this way, we would be less disturbed and afflicted by it, because we would regard it, not as a token of our Lord’s hatred, but, rather, of His great and special love, and we would receive it as a signal grace that He conferred upon us…

Whether the trouble and temptation arise from the Devil, or from men, or on account of sins, in whatever way, it is always God who gives it to you, even though it reaches you through various channels, as it pleases Him; since it is only the evil of the pain that reaches you, and this is always ordered for your good. Even though, however, the evil of the fault itself — for example, an act of injury or insult committed by your neighbour— is contrary to God’s will, He makes use of it for your benefit and salvation. Therefore, instead of giving way to sadness and discontent, you should give thanks with inward joy and gladness, doing everything that lies in your power with perseverance and resolution, without losing time and, with that loss, the many and great rewards that God wills that you should gain by this opportunity He presents to you.

solders.png

House of Gold

Our Lady's litany,  officially known as the Litany of Loreto, is the only approved Marian litany in the Church.  Litany is a series of short petitions and exhortations sung or said by the deacon or priest, and to which the people respond by the Kyrie eleison: Grant this, Lord: to Thee, Lord. The Litany originated in Antioch in the fourth century and from there was taken to Constantinople and through it to the rest of the East. From Constantinople the Litany was taken to Rome and the West. Pope Gelasius I (492-96) introduced into the Mass an intercession of litanic character, the nine-fold Kyrie eleison which still survives in the traditional Mass.

The chosen invocation of Our Lady for the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen is House of Gold.  Pure as gold, both inside by Her fullness of grace and level of charity, and outside by the perfect practice of all virtues, the Immaculate Mother of God is most fittingly invoked as the House of Gold.  In addition and most supremely, it is into this pure golden dwelling that the true Son of God became incarnate.

For those who serve at the altar in the House of God and who revere His most holy Mother, the title is most apt to inspire the true quest for excellence in serving both at the altar and in the world as befits soldiers of Christ.

Following is an article which expresses another aspect of this title :

Mythology tells the story of old King Midas who was given the unique privilege of turning whatever he touched into gold. At first he used his gift with all the enthusiasm of a child, skipping about his palace and gilding its walls and furniture. But he had to be released from his magic touch when he found that he could not eat golden food, and when he saw his beautiful daughter changed into a statute of gold because he embraced her.

God alone has the true Midas-touch which he uses to adorn souls. Gold is a symbolic meaning; since it has always been considered precious, it is been chosen as the symbol of charity, the greatest favour and gift God has given to man. At the time of baptism every soul is gilded with this virtue, which thenceforth may be polished and brightened by use or tarnished or taken away by sin.

In Mary the virtue of charity is found in such abundance that we rightly salute her as House of Gold.

1.  Mary loved God with her whole heart and soul and strength. Not for a moment did she lag in the practice of her love. She displayed it in the observance of her daily duties. Even her routine household chores became golden as a result of her love for God; she minted each moment of the day into the gold of a good work which would obtain for her higher measure of sanctity, a more advanced place in heaven. Full of grace, full of God’s love, at the announciation, what must have been the greatness of her grace and love at the moment of her death? God took flesh of her because she had prepared her heart as a golden tabernacle. When He took her to Himself, He found her a house of gold.

2.  Mary loves us with the tender love of a mother. We can measure the amount of her love for us by the greatness of her love for Almighty God. In the second great commandment of the law, we are told to love our neighbour as ourselves. But Christ gave an even deeper meaning to our love for neighbours when He commanded: “Love one another even as I have loved you.” Mary’s love for us was similar to Christ’s. Because her faith was strong, she saw in each of us the image of God, and she loved the God-in-us with all her heart and soul and strength. Witness her kind consideration in her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, her tender vigilance at the marriage feast of Cana, her zealous charity as she stood beside the cross of her dying Son. Only in a House of Gold there be such a splendor of love!

We are bound, as was Mary, to the law of love. But has the gold of our love lost its gleam because of our frequent deliberate sins. Have we even changed our souls from a house of gold into a miserable hovel of an iniquity by an unconfessed, unrepentant sin?

Mary, House of Gold, make our hearts like unto thine in love for God and neighbour!

Mont.jpg

THE PARISH AND THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

A summary from Fr. McMahon’s sermon, Jan 27, 2019

“Peace is the tranquility of order.” St Augustine

a)      Pastor is appointed to serve the common good; his decisions are not personal, but in pursuit of peace, order, and the sanctification of those souls entrusted to his care.

b)      Our united goal must be to foster generosity toward Almighty God in ourselves, in our family, in our parish, and even in society at large. We want all souls to serve our King being generous in time, energy, money, etc.

c)      Cleaning the church is both a practical necessity (things need to be clean) as well as an opportunity for generosity in performing a corporal work of mercy. Please consider joining a cleaning crew.

 

·        Catechism

Catechetical instruction is essential for every Catholic at every age; the pastor, your spiritual father being responsible for your souls, must ensure you are receiving continued education in the Faith.

a)      Attendance at weekly catechism is obligatory. Those unable to attend must speak directly with the pastor.

b)      Do not take coffee or food “to go”, those refreshments are offered for attendees of the class.

 

·        Decorum

a)      Vestibule is the antechamber of the church, a place of preparation and dismissal:

i)       This is where coats should be removed, etc, to avoid distracting yourself and others within the church.

ii)      Silence should be observed here both before and after Mass. Please use the basement rooms to visit.

iii)    Children remain the responsibility of their parents on church property. Please continue to monitor them throughout, and ensure they also observe the silence proper to the vestibule.

b)      The respect for God and the Holy Mass demand proper, becoming, and modest dress for all Faithful.

c)      Children should be able to keep the silence and stillness of the church during Mass. A sudden cry or disturbance from a small child or baby is understandable, but continual baby noises and talking is disrespectful and distracting to others.

 

These may seem like small things in themselves, but they show an attitude of respect for the house of God and charity to others.

 

·        Pew Use

a)      Please keep the last three (3) pews available for parents with small children. This allows them a place nearer the doors for those suddenly necessary exits.

b)      Pews in the transept (the sides, behind the line of the Communion rail of the Sanctuary) are not to be used.

i)       Exceptions may include single-Mass Sundays, Good Friday, Midnight Mass, etc. Please see an usher

 

·        Gratitude

a)      Our Lord’s Passion and Death will be re-acted before you in the Holy Mass… If you cannot come 10-15 minutes beforehand to properly prepare, how will you save your soul?

b)      The Rosary is a beautiful preparation for Mass, but not necessarily as a community. Silent prayer prepares the soul for the great Sacrifice of the Mass. 

c)      Thanksgiving, especially after receiving Holy Communion, is necessary if you truly believe Jesus Christ is here and has come into your soul. Where do you need go in such a hurry that you cannot give 10-15 minutes to a proper Thanksgiving following Mass?

Sancta Sancte Tractanda Sunt

(Holy things must be treated in a holy manner)

·       Confessions

a)      Once a month Confession is a minimum for a good Catholic.

b)     This sacrament should be treated as something special and also needs appropriate preparation and thanksgiving. Children, especially, should be guided through a thorough preparation.

c)      Confessions for second Mass on Sundays will now be from 9:00 – 9:55am. Come early!

d)     Nota Bene: Thursday through Saturday are at times noted in Mass & Sacraments schedule.

“When your soul moves from mortal sin to the State of Grace, this is a greater Divine action than the creation of the whole universe.” — St. Augustine

 

·       Holy Communion

a)      Approach with an appropriately recollected manner.

b)     Tilt head back, mouth open, tongue out while priest is at person before you. This is to avoid knocking the Host from the priest’s fingers and also, this will speed up the general distribution of Communion.

c)      No elbows on the Communion rail.

d)     Do not make the sign of the cross immediately after reception, you may strike the paten or the ciborium.

 

·       These seem like purely practical points, but we act as we believe and we believe as we act. There is an element of natural courtesy and supernatural charity.

a)      We must strive for the honour and glory of God in all things.

b)     We must internalise our love of Almighty God for the sake of ourselves, our family, our parish, and society.

c)      A Catholic’s whole existence falls under the auspices of the Blood of Christ through the Baptismal Character. The way we dress, act, talk are all reflections of our internal beliefs.

May God inspire our actions and bless our sincere efforts.

holyfamily.jpg