The CAPG's Blog
It was, (...), when Charleston was scourged by disease that the charity and heroism of the bishop were put to the test. "When that frightful scourge," writes W.G.Read, "the yellow fever, desolated Charleston, he was ever at his post." This is nothing new or strange to those who know the Catholic Priesthood. But when the Protestants of Charleston saw this apostolic man hurrying under the fiery noons of August and September, or the deadly midnight dew, to assist and console the victim of the plague, usually of the humblest and the poorest, they could not but exclaim, in the sincerity of their wonder and admiration: "This is Christian charity!"
"A near relative of mine, speaking of him to me, said: "I met him one forenoon, while the fever was at its highest, brushing along through, perhaps, the hottest street in the city. When I tell you he was blazing, I do not exaggerate - he was literally blazing! The fire sparkled from his cheeks, and flashed from his eyes! I shook hands with him, and as we parted, I thought to myself, my dear fellow, you will soon have enough of this!"
"But his work was not yet done. No! Season after season, amid vice, squalidity, and wretchedness, where intemperance, perhaps, kept maudlin watch by the dying and the dead; while the sob of sorrow was broken by the shriek of destitution and despair - there still stood Bishop England, the priest, the father, and the friend - to assure the penitent - to alarm the sinner - to pity and to succor - baptized again and again - unto his holy function, in that frightful black vomit - the direct symptom of the malady!"
Source: Trials and Triumphs of the Catholic Church in America by P.J. Mahon, James M. Hayes
Fr. Chabloz had received a sunstroke that left him weak and feverish. This was followed by the influenza, then epidemic, and while ill he was carried several miles to administer the Sacraments to a dying man. Pneumonia then seized our friend and he succumbed.
Fr. Chabloz was young - thirty-five years of age. Although born in France, his people had moved to Italy, where later he joined the Society of Jesus and offered himself for the missions. One of his hardest trials on leaving Italy was the reluctance of his own father - who chided him because he preferred the pagan Chinese - to have him go; but the father received grace to bow to God's will, and we now learn that he died shortly before his priestly son. May both be now united in God!
From Fr. Novella, S.J.
Source: The Field Afar, Volume 14. June 1920
The Black Death in Scandinavian countries
The King feared that "all our misdeeds should lead the same "plaga" and mortality to our subjects." He had, therefore, taken responsibility for the well-being of the people. He had summoned their bishops, a number of Councillors of the realm and canons of the cathedrals whose bishops could not, at so short notice, attend the meetings where measures should be discussed that "could please God and induce Him by his grace to bestow his mercy on us". They had agreed on the following measures:
"all people throughout all the Realm of Sweden, rich, ecclesiastics, laymen, old and young, females and males, should come barefooted to their parish churches on Friday in every week and confess their belief in God, His righteousness and power, with appropriate humility. They should walk (in procession) around the church with their sacred treasures (relics, images of saints, and so on), attend Mass with invocation of God on that day, make their offerings on the altar of the pennies that they could afford, so that others could receive alms. The Church wardens should distribute this offer among poor people and it should under no circumstances come in the hands of the priest. We order and advise you that on each Friday every Christian shall fast on water and bread: those who do not want to do that shall at least abstain from all fish and fast on ale and bread.
Mass shall be said in honor of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, that She would deign to ask her blessed Son on her behalf to turn His wrath away from these countries for the sake of our humility. Every bishop has granted 40 days of indulgence to all those in his diocese who have prepared themselves for their deaths and made proper confessions, which all human beings are advised to do these days. ... For this reason, We convey to all human beings the curative advice for their souls that every human being, while God still has given him some time, to cleanse his conscience, make his confession and with full contrition do penance for his sins, so that when God will visit him, He will find him so ready that his souls would be taken in God's hand.
Source: The Black Death and Later Plague Epidemics in the Scandinavian Countries ...By Ole Jørgen Benedictow page 171
Open wide the doors to Christ - and His Churches
What we are witnessing in these hours is dramatic — certainly throughout Italy, but in a tragically exemplary way, in Rome, the heart of Catholicism.
The scenario is all the more disconcerting as what is at stake is not only public health but the salvation of souls — and for some time now we, as Pastors, have stopped inflaming the hearts of our faithful with the desire for eternal salvation. We have thus deprived them of those supernatural gifts which make us capable of facing trials here below, even the assaults of death, with the power of faith and that spark of inexhaustible and unshakable hope which comes to us from our yearning for the destiny of glory for which we were created.
The statements of the Italian Episcopal Conference, those of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, as well as the surreal and spectral images that have come to us from the Vatican, are many expressions of the darkening of the faith that has struck the heights of the Church. The Ministers of the Sun, as St Catherine of Siena was fond of calling them, have caused the eclipse, and delivered the flock to clouds of thick darkness (cf. Ezekiel 34:12).
Regarding the measures of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI): when those issued by the State were still limited only to at risk areas, to certain activities and at precise times of day, the CEI had already cancelled the totality of public liturgical celebrations in all the churches of the territory, helping to fuel fear and panic and depriving the faithful of the indispensable comfort of the sacraments. It is difficult not to think that such a measure was suggested to the president of the CEI by the one who, protected by the Leonine Walls, has been dreaming for seven years now of an outgoing, rugged, field hospital Church, which does not hesitate to embrace everyone and to get dirty.
Cardinal Bassetti, so eager that he seems more zealous than the king, appears to have forgotten a very important lesson: that the Church, in order to serve the common good and the State, must never give up being herself, nor fail in her mission to proclaim Christ, our only Lord and Savior. She must beware of obscuring her divine prerogatives of Wisdom and Truth and in no way abdicate the Authority that comes to her from the Sovereign of the kings of the earth, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The ecclesial events of these hours have manifested clearly — if there was still any need — the tragic subjection of the Church to a State that is striving and doing all it can to destroy the Christian identity of our Italy, by enslaving it to an ideological, immoral, globalist, Malthusian, abortionist, migrant agenda that is the enemy of man and of the family. The goal of this agenda is the destruction of the Church, and certainly not the good of our country.
Open, throw open wide the doors to Christ! Open, throw open wide the doors of our churches so that the faithful may enter in, repent of their sins, participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and draw upon the treasury of graces that flow from the pierced Heart of Christ, our only Redeemer who can save us from sin and death.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Translation by Diane Montagna
How can the lighting of a candle before some shrine help us?
The same way in which the offering can help us - by the good motive governing our action: "Whatsoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in name... he shall not lose his reward." (Mark iv 40).
The burning of a small candle is an insignificant action; but if it is done for God's glory and to honor one who is near to God, it becomes a meritorious action. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. x. 13.) "Whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Col. iii, 17). There is no reason why a candle could not or should not be burned to God's glory and in the name of Christ. The motive prompting a devout candle before the shrine of our Lord or saint is the very motive that urges a good citizen to drape a flag about the picture or statue of George Washington on February 22. How can a piece of cloth add to Washington's honor or assist the citizens? The representatives of a foreign nation goes to Mount Vernon and places a wreath of flowers upon Washington's tomb. We applaud and deem that our country has been honored. There is no need to explain or analyze that sentiment; it is a natural one, and everybody understands and appreciates it. That same sentiment is elevated to a religious and supernatural sphere when a Catholic burns a candle before the shrine of one of God's heroes. His intention is to honor the memory of that saint and thus give glory to God in whose cause that saint lived and worked and died; he asks the saint to pray to God for him; he begs God to hear and answer the saint's intercession; he is urged to imitate the saint's virtues; he feels inclined to serve God better. In other words, he performs an action which his supernatural motives render pleasing to God and of great benefit to himself.
Source: Our young People, a Home Magazine, Nov. 1916
Understanding Latin at Mass
It is not necessary to understand every word of Latin said by the priest at Catholic Religious services, any more than it is necessary to understand every word enunciated by Caruso or Gadski in grand opera!
Source: Our Young People, 1916
The indefectibility of the Church
Perhaps the most emotionally challenging and political incorrect dogma of Catholic Christianity is that of the visible Church's indefectibility, i.e., her continued existence to the end of the world with her teaching, her hierarchical constitution, and her worship essentially intact.
Saturday in Ember Week of Advent:
Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers, praised above all, renowned above all for ever;
Blessed is Thy holy and glorious name, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, who reignest on Thy kingly throne, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, who art throned above the cherubim, and gazest down
into the depths, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Blessed art Thou, high in the vault of heaven, praised above all, renowned above all for ever.
Then they cried out upon all things the Lord had made, to bless him, and praise him, and extol his name for ever.
The Sufferings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix
"O Mother of pity and of mercy who, while thy sweetest Son was bringing about the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the Cross, didst stand next to Him, as a Co-redemptrix, suffering with Him...; preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day, the precious fruit of His Redemption and thy Compassion."
Pope Piux XI, April 28 1935
The Sufferings of Mary as Co-Redemptrix
How Did Mary Make Satisfaction For us?
The purpose of satisfaction is to repair the offense offered to God and to make Him once more favorable to the sinner. The offense offered by mortal sin has about it a certain infinity, since offense is measured by the dignity of the person offended. Mortal sin, by turning the sinner away from God, his final end, denies in practice to God His infinite rights as the Supreme Good and destroys His reign in souls.
It follows from this that only the Incarnate Word could offer to the Father perfect and adequate satisfaction for the offense of mortal sin. For satisfaction to be perfect, it must proceed from a love and oblation which are as pleasing to God as, or more pleasing than, all sins united are displeasing to Him. But every act of charity elicited by Jesus had these qualities for His Divine Person gave them infinite satisfactory and meritorious value. A meritorious work becomes satisfactory (or one of reparation and expiation) when there is something painful about it. Hence, in offering His life in the midst of the greatest physical and moral sufferings, Jesus offered satisfaction of an infinite and superabundant value to His Father. He alone could make satisfaction in strict justice since the value of satisfaction like that of merit comes from the person, and the Person of Jesus, being divine, was of infinite dignity.
It was, however, possible to associate a satisfaction of becomingness (de congruo) to Jesus' satisfaction, just as a merit of becomingness was associated to His merit. In explaining this point, we shall show all the more clearly the depth and extent of Mary's sufferings.
Mary offered for us a satisfaction of becomingness (de convenientia) which was the greatest in value after that of her Son.
When a meritorious work is in some way painful it has value as satisfaction as well. Thus theologians commonly teach, following upon what has been explained in the previous section, that Mary satisfied for all sins de congruo in everything in which Jesus satisfied de condigno. Mary offered God a satisfaction which it was becoming that He should accept: Jesus satisfied for us in strict justice.
As Mother of the Redeemer, Mary was closely united to Jesus by perfect conformity of will, by humility, by poverty, by suffering— and most particularly by her compassion on Calvary. That is what is meant when it is said that she offered satisfaction along with Him. Her satisfaction derives its value from her dignity as Mother of God, from her great charity, from the fact that there was no fault in herself which needed to be expiated, and from the intensity of her sufferings.
The Fathers treat of this when they speak of Mary " standing " at the foot of the Cross, as St. John says (John xix, 25). They recall the words of Simeon, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce " and they show that Mary suffered in proportion to her love for her crucified Son; in proportion also to the cruelty of His executioners, and the atrocity of the torments inflicted on Him Who was Innocence itself. The liturgy also has taught many generations of the faithful that Mary merited the title of Queen of Martyrs by her most painful martyrdom of heart. That is the lesson of the Feasts of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin and of the Seven Dolors, as well as of the Stabat Mater.
Leo XIII summed up this doctrine in the statement that Mary was associated with Jesus in the painful work of the redemption of mankind. Pius X calls her " the repairer of the fallen world " and continues to show how she was united to the priesthood of her Son: " Not only because she consented to become the mother of the only Son of God so as to make sacrifice for the salvation of men possible, but also in the fact that she accepted the mission of protecting and nourishing the Lamb of sacrifice, and when the time came led Him to the altar of immolation— in this also must we find Mary's glory. Mary's community of life and sufferings with her Son was never broken off. To her as to Him may be applied the words of the prophet: My life is passed in dolor and my days in groaning. To conclude this list of Papal pronouncements we may refer to the words of Benedict XV: "In uniting herself to the Passion and Death of her Son she suffered almost unto death; as far as it depended on her, she immolated her Son, so that it can be said that with Him she redeemed the human race ".
The Depth and Fruitfulness of Mary's Sufferings as Co-Redemptrix
Mary's sufferings have the character of satisfaction from the fact that like Jesus and in union with Him, she suffered because of sin or of the offense it offers to God. This suffering of hers was measured by her love of God Whom sin offended, by her love of Jesus crucified for our sins, and by her love of us whom sin had brought to spiritual ruin. In other words, it was measured by her fullness of grace, which had never ceased to increase from the time of the Immaculate Conception. Already Mary had merited more by the easiest acts than the martyrs in their torments because of her greater love. What must have been the value of her sufferings at the foot of the Cross, granted the understanding she then had of the mystery of the Redemption !
In the spiritual light which then flooded her soul, Mary saw that all souls are called to sing the glory of God. Every soul is called, to be as it were a ray of the divinity, a spiritual ray of knowledge and love, for our minds are made to know God and our wills to love Him. But though the heavens tell God's glory unfailingly, thousands of souls turn from their Creator. Instead of that divine radiation, instead of God's exterior glory and His Kingdom, there are found in countless souls the three wounds called by St. John: the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life: living as if there were no desirable love except carnal love, no glory except that of fame and honor, and no Lord and Master, no end, except man himself.
Mary saw all that evil, all those wounds in souls, just as we see the evils and wounds of bodies. Her fullness of grace had given her an immense capacity to suffer from the greatest of evils: sin. She suffered as much as she loved God and souls: God offended by sin and souls whom it rendered worthy of eternal damnation. Most of all did Mary see the crime of deicide prepared in hearts and brought to execution : she saw the terrible paroxysm of hatred of Him Who is the Light and the Author of salvation.
To understand her sufferings, we must think too of her love, both natural and supernatural, of her only Son Whom she not only loved but, in the literal sense of the term, adored since He was her God. She had conceived Him miraculously. She loved Him with the love of a virgin — the purest, richest and most tender charity that has ever been a mother's. Nor was her grief diminished by ignorance of anything that might make it more acute. She knew the reason for the crucifixion. She knew the hatred of the Jews, His chosen people — her people. She knew that it was all for sinners.
From the moment when Simeon foretold the Passion — already so clearly prophesied by Isaias — and her compassion, she offered and did not cease to offer Him Who would be Priest and Victim, and herself in union with Him. This painful oblation was renewed over years. Of old, an angel had descended to prevent Abraham's immolation of his son Isaac. But no angel came to prevent the immolation of Jesus.
In his sermon on the Compassion of Our Lady, we read the following magnificent words of Bossuet: " It is the will of the Eternal Father that Mary should not only be immolated with the Innocent Victim and nailed to the Cross by the nails that pierce Him, but should as well be associated with the mystery which is accomplished by His death . . . Three things occur in the sacrifice of Our Savior and constitute its perfection. There are the sufferings by which His humanity was crushed. There is His resignation to the will of His Father by which He humbly offered Himself. There is the fruitfulness by which He brings us to the life of grace by dying Himself. He suffers as a victim who must be bruised and destroyed. He submits as a priest who sacrifices freely; voluntarie sacrificabo tibi (Ps liii, 8). Finally He brings us to life by His sufferings as the Father of a new people . . . "Mary stands near the Cross. With what eyes she contemplates her Son all covered with blood, all covered with wounds, in form now hardly a man! The sight is enough to cause her death. If she draws near to that altar, it is to be immolated there: and there, in fact, does she feel Simeon's sword pierce her heart . . . " But did her dolors overcome her, did her grief cast her to the ground? Stabat juxta crucem: she stood by the Cross. The sword pierced her heart but did not take away her strength of soul: her constancy equals her affliction, and her face is the face of one no less resigned than afflicted. "What remains then but that Jesus Who sees her feel His sufferings and imitate His resignation should have given her a share in His fruitfulness. It is with that thought that He gave her John to be her son: Woman, behold thy son. Woman, who suffer with me, be fruitful with me, be the mother of my children whom I give you unreservedly in the person of this disciple; I give them life by my sufferings, and sharing in the bitterness that is mine your affliction will make you fruitful."
In the sermon, of which the paragraphs I have quoted are the opening, Bossuet develops the three main points outlined and shows that Mary's love for Jesus was enough to make her a martyr: " One Cross was enough for the well-beloved Son and the mother." She is nailed to the Cross by her love for Him. Without a special grace she would have died of her agony.
Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain: but she brings the faithful forth in the most cruel suffering. "At what price she has bought them! They have cost her her only Son. She can be mother of Christians only by giving her Son to death. O agonizing fruitfulness! It was the will of the Eternal Father that the adoptive sons should be born by the death of the True Son. What man would adopt at this price and give his son for the sake of strangers? But that is what the Eternal Father did. We have Jesus' word for it: God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son (John iii, 16).
" (Mary) is the Eve of the New Testament and the mother of all the faithful; but that is to be at the price of her First-born. United to the Eternal Father she must offer His Son and hers to death. It is for that purpose that providence has brought her to the foot of the Cross. She is there to immolate her Son that men may have life . . . She becomes mother of Christians at the cost of an immeasurable grief ..." We should never forget what we have cost Mary. The thought will lead to true contrition for our sins. The regeneration of our souls has cost Jesus and Mary more than we can ever think.
We may conclude this section by noting that Mary the Co-Redemptrix has given us birth at the foot of the Cross by the greatest act of faith, hope and love that was possible to her on such an occasion. One may even say that her act of faith was the greatest ever elicited, since Jesus had not the virtue of faith but the beatific vision. In that dark hour when the faith of the apostles themselves seemed to waver, when Jesus seemed vanquished and his work annihilated, Mary did not cease for an instant to believe that her Son was the Savior of mankind and that in three days, He would rise again as He had foretold.
When He uttered His last words " It is consummated" Mary understood in the fullness of her faith that the work of salvation had been accomplished by His most painful immolation. The evening before Jesus had instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice and the christian priesthood; she sees now something of the influence the sacrifice of the Cross will exercise. She knows that Jesus is the true Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, that He is the conqueror of sin and the demon, and that in three days He will conquer death, sin's consequence. She sees the hand of God where even the most believing see only darkness and desolation. Hers was the greatest act of faith ever elicited by a creature, a faith higher than that of the angels when they were as yet in their period of trial.
Calvary saw too her supreme act of hope at a moment when everything seemed lost. She grasped the force of the words spoken to the good thief: "This day thou Shalt be with me in paradise"; heaven, she realized, was about to be open for the elect.
It was finally her supreme act of charity : so to love God as to offer His only Son in the most painful agony: to love God above everything at the moment when He tried her in the highest and deepest of her loves, even in the object of her adoration — and that because of our sins.
It is true that the theological virtues grew in Mary up to the time of her death, for these acts of faith, hope and charity were not broken off but continued in her as a kind of state. They even expanded in the succeeding calm, like a river which becomes more powerful and majestic as it nears the ocean. The point which theology wishes to stress is not that of Mary's subsequent growth in the virtues but the equality between her sacrifice and her merits at the foot of the Cross itself: both her sacrifice and her merits were of inestimable value and their fruitfulness, while not approaching that of Christ's sacrifice and merits, surpasses anything the human tongue can utter. Theologians express this by saying that Mary made satisfaction for us de congruo, in proportion to her immense charity, while Jesus made satisfaction de condigno.
Even the saints who have been most closely associated with the sufferings of the Savior did not enter as Mary did into the most secret depths of the Passion. St. Catherine de Ricci had every Friday during twelve years an ecstasy of pain which lasted twenty-eight hours and during which she lived over again all the sufferings of the way of the Cross. But even such sufferings fell far short of those of Mary. Mary's heart suffered in sympathy with all the agony of the Sacred Heart to such a point that she would have died of the experience had she not been especially strengthened.
Thereby she became the consoler of the afflicted, for she had suffered more than all, and patroness of a happy death. We have no idea how fruitful these sufferings of hers have been during twenty centuries.
Mary's Participation as Co-Redemptrix in the Priesthood of Christ.
Though Mary may be termed Co-Redemptrix in the sense we have explained, there can be no question of calling her a priest in the strict sense of the word since she has not received the priestly character and cannot offer Holy Mass nor give sacramental absolutism. But, as we have seen already, her divine maternity is a greater dignity than the priesthood of the ordained priest in the sense that it is more to give Our Savior His human nature than to make His body present in the Blessed Eucharist. Mary has given us the Priest of the sacrifice of the Cross, the Principal Priest of the sacrifice of the Mass and the Victim offered on the altar.
It is more also, and more perfect, to offer her only Son and her God on the Cross as Mary did, by offering herself with Him in community of suffering, than to make the body of Our Lord present and to offer It on the altar as the priest does at Holy Mass.
We must affirm, too, as has recently a careful theologian who has devoted years to the study of these questions that "it is a certain theological conclusion that Mary co-operated in some way in the principal act of Jesus' priesthood, by giving, as the divine plan required, her consent to the sacrifice of the Cross as it was accomplished by the Savior. In another context he writes: "If we consider only certain immediate effects of the priest's action such as the Eucharistic consecration or the remission of sins in the sacrament of penance, it is true that the priest can do certain things which Mary, not having the priestly power, cannot. But to look at the matter so is not to compare dignities but merely particular effects which are produced by a power which Mary lacks and which do not necessarily indicate a higher dignity".
But even if Mary cannot, for the reasons given, be spoken of as priest in the strict sense of the term, it remains true, as M. Olier has said, that she has received the fullness of the spirit of the priesthood, which is the spirit of Christ the Redeemer. That is the reason why she is called Co-Redemptrix, a title which, like that of Mother of God, implies a higher dignity than that of the christian priesthood.
Mary's participation in the immolation and oblation of Jesus, Priest and Victim, cannot be better summed up than in the words of the Stabat Mater of the Franciscan Jacopone de Todi (1228-1306).
The Stabat Mater manifests in a singularly striking manner that supernatural contemplation of the mystery of Christ crucified is part of the normal way of holiness. In precise and ardent words it speaks of the wounding of the Savior's Heart and shows the intimate and persuasive manner in which Mary leads us to Him. Not only does Mary lead us to the divine intimacy, in a sense she produces it in us- that is what the repetition of the imperative " Fac " in the following strophes brings out:
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
Me sentire vim doloris
Fac, ut tecum lugeam.
O Thou Mother! Fount of Love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord!
Fac ut ardeat cor meum
In amando Christum Deum,
Ut sibi complaceam.
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.
Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
Passionis fac corsortem
Et plagas recolere.
Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.
Fac me plagis vulnerari
Fac me cruce inebriari,
Et cruore Filii.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd
In His very blood away.
— Fr. Caswall
This is the prayer of a soul which, under a special 'inspiration, wishes to know in a spiritual way the wound of love and to be associated in these painful mysteries of adoring reparation as were John and the holy women on Calvary — and Peter, too, when he shed his bitter tears. Those tears of adoration and sorrow are what the Stabat asks for in the following strophes:
Fac me tecum pie flere,
Donee ego vixero.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me,
All the days that I may live.
Juxta crucem tecum stare,
Et me tibi sociare
In planctu desidero.
By the cross with thee to stay.
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.
— Fr. Caswall
Mary exercised therefore a universal mediation on earth by meriting de congruo all that Jesus merited de condigno and also by making similar satisfaction in union with Him.
Source: The Mother of the Savior and our interior Life by Garrigou Lagrange, O.P
The priest should attract others to the priesthood by his own personality. He should strive to live a life so truly Christ-like that his character will be manifest as being beautifully and delightfully Catholic. The young love to see realized in themselves an ideal. Hence there is no doubt that the number of those entering the priesthood would be doubled, even trebled, if we who are now living the priestly life would endeavor scrupulously and continually to live before God and man as "other Christs." Then the young would be filled with respect, reverence, and love for the priest and his sacred office; and, drawn by personal attraction, they would feel a yearning desire to become like unto us.
Archbishop Lynch of Toronto used to say: " The average priest secures the salvation of five thousand souls." The more thoroughly and minutely this statement is examined, the more manifest becomes its truthfulness. Hence the priest who secures but one successor to his sacred office has a perennial source of hope and consolation during his declining years, such as is particularly inspiring at the moment of death. But, why should any priest rest content with having secured one? The more the better. It is related of an aged and venerable priest of Orleans, France, that when about to die he gave expression to this beautiful thought: "I am eighty-three and shall soon die. I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me thirty-three priests whom I have formed to the ecclesiastical state; they will do better than I have done."
Some years later, one of these thirty-three, on the occasion of his silver jubilee to the priesthood, had gathered around him twenty-five other priests, whose vocations to the religious state he in turn had fostered. To him his pastor had said on the day of ordination: "Always have pupils in your presbytery; you will be their angel, and they will be yours." (Quest on Vocations.) Would that God might inspire more to emulate the zeal of such priests as these.
Comparatively few dioceses can be found which are not in actual need of more religious workers who have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ. Pastors are petitioning the various religious communities for Sisters and Brothers to teach in the parish schools. Bishops, especially those of the West and South, as also of our newly acquired possessions in the Orient, are appealing for priests to take charge of missionary work. "Send us priests, wise zealous, holy priests," comes as a cry almost universal. Vast multitudes in every land are groping amid the darkness of error and in the shadows of death, seeking for some one to lead them forth into the light of truth and unto the life of Christ. This need is both instant and imperative, and unless there are found some followers of Christ, ardently devoted to His Church and nobly obedient to His call, who will voluntarily offer themselves for this service and consecrate their lives to this endeavor, these benighted ones, so unfortunate in their error, so well disposed for the right, so precious in the sight of God, will continue, in all probability, to search in vain for the way of salvation; and at least many of them, will be lost.
"The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few." The work to be done is the work of Christ. He is present all days, directing an assisting and blessing. He calls for help. He chooses some favored ones from among His followers and commands them to go forth into the highways and byways and search our laborers and bring them into His vineyard. Some are found who leave this command practically unheeded, not from malice, but rather because they do not thoroughly realize how intense is the desire of Christ for additional laborers in His work and how dire is the need of the Church at the present time for their consecrated service. Thrice blessed, therefore, and well assured of eternal happiness is the priest who can truthfully say at the hour of death: "I shall soon die; I have not done all the good I would, but one thing consoles me - I leave after me others whom I have formed to the priestly life; they will do better than I have done. "
Ember Days: Fall Wednesday Sept. 18
Let us, therefore, revive Embers days!
Let us again pray, fast, and abstain for more faithful priests!
"The Observance of ember-days is of great antiquity in the Church.
Their connection with the ordination of the ministers of religion
renders them particularly worthy the regard of the faithful. We cannot
be too deeply impressed with the blessing granted a people, whose
priests are according to Godʼs own heart. To obtain such, no humiliation
should be deemed too great; no supplication should be neglected. Whilst
therefore we thank God for
the fruits of the earth, and humble ourselves for the sins we have
committed, we should beg
God to supply his Church with worthy pastors."
St. Vincentʼs Manual, 1854
Ember days are:
Wednesday: the day Christ was betrayed (Fast and half-abstinence)
Friday: Christ was crucified (Fast and abstinence)
and Saturday: the day Christ was entombed. (Fast and half-abstinence)
These fasts were instituted to sanctify each season of the year, and
thus obtain the favors of God, especially His mercy. They were also
established to obtain the blessing of the Almighty on the fruits of the
land. In spring we pray for fertility; in summer, for preservation of
the crops; in autumn, for a good harvest; and in winter we offer up our
grateful thanksgiving for the blessings received.
The Church, too, wishes us to pray for those who are to be ordained priests on these days, that they may obtain the graces necessary to fulfill all their obligations, and the virtues that adorn their sacred calling. “And when they had ordained for them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in Whom they believed.” (Acts xiv.22.)
As alms generally accompany fasting and prayer, a donation toward the education of priests for the foreign mission would be in keeping with the spirit of the Church on these occasions. We ought also to pray for vocations, especially for the foreign missions. “The harvest is great, but the laborers few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send laborers into the vineyard.” (Matt. ix. 37,38.).
These days should also remind us of asking ourselves how we stand with regard to God. If there be anything troubling our conscience, we ought to set it right, and then make good resolutions for the coming quarter. Thus, keeping ourselves always ready for the final summons, death will be disarmed of its terrors, and the close of life will be marked with a beautiful serenity.
“And grant us, while by fasts we strive
This mortal body to control,
To fast from all the food of ins,
And so to purify the soul.”
Source: Curé d'Ars Prayer Group
We admit without the slightest reservation that the celibacy of the clergy is of vital importance to the Catholic Church in the prosecution of its divine mission. None but an unmarried clergy could wield the influence or win the credit or authority needed for the successful guidance and government of the faithful of Christ. None but unmarried clergymen are fitted to go as missionaries to foreign lands and labor there for the conversion of souls. This statement is amply borne out by the history of non-Catholic missions. The missionaries of Canada, the Far West, and South America have a unique place in history owing to their self-sacrificing devotion. How changed their story would be if wives and offspring and domestic finances figured in its pages!
Nay, even in Christian countries none but unmarried priests could risk their comfort, to say nothing of their lives, as Catholic priests do today in their ministrations to souls. Without her unmarried clergy the Catholic Church could never have accomplished all that she has in the course of centuries. The salutary influence of clergy upon people which is one of the fruits of celibacy may be styled universal dominion if our critics are minded to call it such; we shall not make that a casus belli.
The objector seems to regard the compulsory element in celibacy as the secret of the Church's power; but in no absolute sense does the Church compel any of her children to be celibates. No one is under nay obligation to enter the priesthood. To force one into the priesthood is forbidden by the laws of the Church. It is only after a voluntary reception of the higher orders that one is obliged to remain unmarried; and the obligation then imposed upon her clerics by the Church is justified and to a great extent necessitated by the nature of their clerical functions.
Why should it be a reproach to the Church to require in candidates for the prieshood conditions that will make them more efficient priests! Add to this the fact that the young men who present themselves for orders not only voluntarily but cheerfully make this sacrifice of their liberty in order to devote themselves the more to God and the Church.
But we are told that celibacy is contrary to the teaching of the Bible. Strange that the statement should be made by only one who has read the Bible. Is it not well known that Christ have the highest praise to voluntary celibacy when it was chosen for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and that St. Paul places voluntary virginity far above the married state?
When Protestant readers of the New Testament come to the seventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians they would do well to pause awhile and ask themselves whether they have ever understood the plain meaning of that chapter, which really seems to be very Catholic and very un-Protestant. Let them read that chapter as well as the nineteenth of St. Matthew, referred to above, and if then they can regard the effect of celibacy on morality as dubious, their opinion is clearly at variance with the words of Christ and His Apostle.
Source: The Catholic's ready answer; a popular vindication of Christian beliefs and practices against the attacks of modern criticism. 1915
The Preacher who likes applause.
What is the end of a preacher? Is it to please? To gain applause? To obtain promotion? Or is it to give men life; to make them " Sorrowful unto penance"?
I am of opinion, writes St. Francis of Sales, that a preacher ought not to aim at the gratification of the ear, which is the result of artifice, of worldly elegance, of merely ornamental oratory. He who desires to please his audience says only "pleasant things". The craving for applause blinds him to the truth. He relies almost exclusively on the persuasive words of human wisdom, he makes little or no account of the Word of God, which ought to be the chief source of sacred eloquence, and he speaks in a style more suited to the platform than to the pulpit, more profane than sacred.
Hence there arises amongst the people and even amongst the clergy, a vitiated taste in respect to the Word of God, which gives scandal to the pious and no profit to the incredulous; for these latter, although they sometimes come to the church, especially if attracted by such high-sounding words as Progress, Fatherland, Modern Science, and loudly applaud the preacher, go forth from it no better than they entered.
Source: The Priest of Today, Rev. Thomas O'Donnell