On the Catholic Priesthood
Christianize Marxist Doctrine
In times past the priests who served in the synagogue made the mistake of looking forward to a Messiahship entirely of this world, as though the Messias intended to found an earthly kingdom with Israel as the ruling power. At the present time a similar danger seems to exist, a danger which has been noticed by many bishops in different parts of the world. Men and women are eagerly awaiting another earthly “messianic kingdom” in which the workers are to be completely free. This is a very different situation from that which existed some years ago when little notice was taken of the apostolate amongst the working class. Although this apostolate is now under way it is in danger of being inspired by a purely naturalist spirit, a mistake already made by Lamennais, who imperceptibly lost sight of the true mission of the Church – the guiding of men towards eternal life- and began to preach more and more in the vein that the true goal of the Church was the temporal happiness of mankind freed from the yoke of oppression. (…)
Recently many bishops have expressed their fear of a similar danger arising amongst those who are anxious to “christianize” Marxist doctrine in their desire to remedy present-day evils. In so doing they are laying too much store by the temporal happiness of the people and neglecting their eternal welfare, which is their true final end and ought to be their dominant intention, something they earnestly desire, not merely the object of an ineffective wish. Above all must it be true of a priest that he constantly renews this primary intent of striving for the final end, if he wants his activity to be supernatural and fruitful. On the efficacy of that intention will depend all his other intents, decisions, and actions. That is why Christ said: “Make it your first care to find the kingdom of God, and his approval, and all these things shall be yours without the asking”; that is to say, food, clothing, and a certain amount of temporal well-being for mankind but in due proportion to their final end. But he never promised to relieve man of the daily carrying of his cross. The Catholic priest must remember this if he desires to attain to a genuine union with Christ our high priest and victim, and to make his apostolate supernatural and fruitful.
Source: The priest in union with Christ, Rev. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. 1954
Blasphemy and Sodomy
"I might also add, that if blasphemy is a terrible thing, I am not aware that sodomy is any better. The former indeed causes a man to err; the latter brings him to perdition. The one separates the soul from God; the other joins it to the devil. The former expels one from heaven; the latter buries him in hell. The one blinds the eyes of the soul; the other hurls one into the abyss of ruin. And if we are careful to investigate which of these crimes is the weightier in the scales of divine scrutiny, a search of Sacred Scripture will provide a satisfactory answer. There, indeed, we find that the children of Israel who blaspheme God and worshiped idols were taken into captivity; but we notice that sodomites were devoured in the sulphurous flames of a fire from heaven"
Source: Peter Damian: Book of Gomorrah
ASCENSION OF JESUS CHRIST
«He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.” — Apostles’ Creed.
The only Son of God was made man, and became like unto us in all things, sin alone excepted. He died on the cross for the salvation of the world. His body was placed in a tomb; His soul descended into Limbo to deliver the holy souls who were waiting there until the blood of our Savior should wash away and blot out the sins of the world; which was necessary before they could enter into glory. The third day after the painful and cruel torments of the cross, Christ came forth gloriously from the grave, as He had foretold. Behold, my Brethren, what I explained to you in my last instruction.
Now, let us turn our attention to the sixth article of our creed, an article which will make the subject of this day’s instruction. Christ rises from the dead, ascends into heaven, and seats himself at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. Listen, my Brethren, , to the account which the Evangelist St. Luke furnishes us, concerning the wonderful Ascension of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into heaven. After His resurrection, our divine Redeemer remained during forty days on earth, showing himself frequently to His Apostles and disciples, instructing them in many very important things; such as the establishment of His Church, the propagation of the Gospel, all that regarded the reign of God in the hearts of men, and every thing calculated to bring souls to the happiness of heaven. At last, when all the Apostles and disciples were assembled at Jerusalem, Jesus appears to them for the last time. He takes a seat at their table, eats and drinks with them. During the repast, He reproaches them, but with great benignity, for their want of faith in His resurrection, of which He had now come to give them still another evident and palpable proof; He imposes upon them the mission of preaching His word to every creature, and commands them to travel the whole world, propagating His religion and spreading His divine doctrine among all nations. To inspire them with courage and penetrate their hearts with a generous confidence, He bestows upon them the divine power of working miracles, thus to give greater force to the truths which they were to announce, and which the world, converted at the sight of these prodigies of the omnipotence of God, might embrace and practice.
Our divine Lord then rises, and, followed by His Apostles and disciples, goes out from the city, and proceeds to the mount of Olives. There His agony had commenced; thence too, will He take His flight into glory. He gives His Apostles and disciples the most consoling assurance that He would never cease to protect them; recommends them to remain at Jerusalem, until they should receive the Holy Ghost, the Comforter whom He had promised to send them; He speaks to them with all the tenderness of a father addressing his children, whom he is about to leave; raises His hand, blesses them, recommends them to the favor and protection of His heavenly Father; and then, full of glory and majesty, elevates himself in the air, and mounts gradually toward heaven. For some time the Apostles gaze on the form of their departing Master; but at length, the clouds of heaven conceal Him from their view. Jesus continues His ascent into heaven, seats himself at the right of hand of the Almighty Father, to whom He is perfectly equal, and is from whom He receives, as man, the first place in heaven, above every creature.
Jesus ascends into heaven; He goes to take possession of the glory which was due to Him. He had come down from the bosom of His Father, to take, on earth, the form of a slave, to live in poverty and disgrace,— to die in torments, to pour out His blood on the cross for the redemption of the human race. All has been consummated, the mission of the Man-God has been accomplished, and behold, “from the height of the cross, He shall draw all unto Him. The Son of man has crushed the serpents head; sin has been blotted out; the empire of the devil annihilated; error cheeked and light diffused; and the God of heaven and earth shall be adored in spirit and in truth. Yes, Jesus hath glorified His Father among men, it was just that He should receive from His Father infinite glory in the eternal mansions. But before quitting the earth, He said to us: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.” (St John, xiv : 1, 2, 3.)
Christ ascended into heaven, to prepare a place for us there; He himself has said: “Where I am, you also may be.” A day will come, when it will he permitted us to participate in the glory of our divine Savior. It will be so if we place ourselves among the number of the true servants of Jesus Christ; if we preserve in our hearts and manifest in our conduct, the holy commandments which He has given us; if, in fine, we endeavor to render ourselves like to Jesus Christ, our Savior and our model, “A faithful saying,” says St. Paul to Timothy; “if we be dead with Christ, we shall live also with Him. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us.” (2 Timothy, ii : 1, 2.) Where Christ is, there also must His servants be.
O! divine Jesus, let me dwell with Thee in eternity, in the tabernacles of Thy Father! But, O my Savior, I am so weak, and I fall into so many sins! Must not the splendor of Thy glory over- whelm the unhappy sinner, who would dare aspire to the happiness of heaven? This fear would fill my soul with desolation, did I not know that Thou hast ascended into heaven to be our advocate and mediator with Thy Father. “My little children,” writes St. John to the first Christians; “these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just. And He is the propitiation for our sins.”(Epistle of St. John, ii : 1, 9.) Yes, my Brethren, Jesus Christ is our advocate in heaven; He who destroyed sin, is our Mediator with God; He is there under the eyes of His Father, as a constant victim and perpetual sacrifice for our sins. Should not this saving truth fill our souls with sweet and consoling hope! Jesus intercedes for us! God the Father did not spare His only Son, but delivered Him up for us, and how, after having bestowed upon us this gift, can He refuse us any thing which this divine Savior asks for us? Oh! we have an advocate whose influence over the heart of God is infinite, we can, therefore, reach heaven.
My Brethren, heaven is our country, and it is there only we can find happiness. We are only passengers on earth, and we see here only empty baubles, vanities, deceptions and sufferings. Let us not allow our hearts to be foolishly attached to the things of this world; let us remember that we live not for time, but for eternity. Let us seek the things that are in heaven, where Jesus Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; let us taste the things that are of heaven, and not the things of earth. When Jesus Christ shall appear. He who is our life, we too shall appear with Him in glory, if we walk in His footsteps, follow the example He has given us, obey the roles and precepts which He has imposed upon us, and love God and our neighbor as He has commanded. We shall reap in eternity what we have sown in time. Let us, therefore, keep our hearts raised up to heaven; let us have God always before our eyes, let us glorify Him, by advancing in the practice of good works, and then as vigilant and faithful servants, we shall deserve to ascend to the mansions of our divine Master. — Amen.
If the Church...
Truly, if the Church is the Spouse of Jesus Christ, the Popes, bishops and priests are her guardians. If the Church is an army ranged in battle, the Popes, the bishops and priests are her generals. if the Church is a vessel steering across the storms of persecutions, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are her pilots. If the Church is the Mystic Body of Christ, and if the faithful are its members, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the principal members of this Body; by their eyes, Jesus Christ watches over His flock; by their feet, He carries to every nation the Gospel of peace; by their hearts, He diffuses everywhere the life of that divine charity without which all is dead. If the Church is the people of acquisition, bought at a great price, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the leaders, the teachers, the princes of that chose generation. If the Church is that sacred edifice built up by the Divine Wisdom Itself for the children of God, the Popes, the bishops, and priests are the administrators of this palace; they are the columns of the Church upon which the whole world rests.
God the Father has created the world without the Popes, the bishops and priests, but it is only through them that he saves it. God the Son redeemed the world without the Popes, the bishops and priests, but it is only by them that He applies His Blood to the souls of men, and secures the fruits of His copious Redemption.
And you can hardly name a single blessing of the Holy Ghost, without beholding by the side of that blessing the priest as the instrument through which that Divine Spirit communicates His blessing.
Yes, if St. Bernard is right in saying that all comes to us through Mary, we are also right in saying that all comes to the people through the Popes, the bishops and the priest: yes, all happiness, every grace, every heavenly gift.
All the other gifts of God would avail us nothing without the Popes, the bishops and priest. What would be the use of a house full of golf, if there were no one to open the door for you?
Now the Popes, the bishops and priests have the key of all the treasures of heaven; it is they who open the door. They are the stewards of the Lord, the administrators of His goods. Without them, the Passion of our Lord would profit us nothing. Look at the poor heathen - of what benefit is our Lord's death tho them? Alas! they can have no share in the Redemption, so long as they have no priests to apply His blood to their souls.
No on understands this better than the devil, and his associates in this world. When they wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the Popes, the bishops, and priests: for where there is no priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no sacrifice there is no religion. What should we do in the Church? the people would say; there is no Mass now, our Lord is no longer there; we may as well pray at home.
Source: The Catholic Priest, Rev. Michael Muller C.S.S.R
Vocation to the Priesthood
What is a vocation to the Priesthood? It is a call from Christ to come and follow Him and become His Priest and help Him in the priestly work of His Church. This work is chiefly: celebrating Mass, administering the Sacraments, giving the blessings of the Church, and preaching the Gospel, and thereby helping other people to gain Heaven. Christ Himself called His first twelve Apostles and Priests. Ever since that time, He has been calling boys and young men to the Priesthood. Christ is God. So this vocation to the Priesthood comes from God. It always has, and it always will come from God. In one way or another, He calls to the Priesthood all those young men whom He has chosen. Without this call, there is no vocation. How did Jesus call His Apostles to the Priesthood? Did He do this with, or without, the help of others? In most cases, He had others helping Him, or at least preparing for the life and work of the Priesthood those who were to be called. One of His helpers was Saint John the Baptist. The chief work of John the Baptist was to tell the people about Jesus and prepare them to follow Him. He was preaching at the River Jordan. Among those who listened to him, were some young men. John was telling them about some of the wonderful things which the Promised Redeemer would do. Then a Man, dressed like other men of his time, was seen walking by. John the Baptist saw this Man, and knew that He was the Promised Redeemer. He said to the people: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I spoke” (John 1, 29). Two young men, John and Andrew, heard these words. They went to Jesus to learn who He was and what He was going to do. They loved Him and became His Apostles. John the Baptist had prepared them for this, and led them to it. In like manner, Jesus chose the other Apostles. After they were prepared with the help of others, He said to each of them: “Come, follow Me.” First, Jesus called the young men to be His Apostles. Then, He taught and trained them month after month until they were able to help Him with His work. Jesus is still calling to the Priesthood those whom He chooses, and training them with the help of others. It is true, He is seen no longer walking among men as a man. But He is still with them. He is with them in company with God the Holy Spirit. And He is with them as the Risen Savior, as the High Priest of His Church; He is with them personally in the Holy Eucharist. He is still calling those whom He chooses to be His Priests. God knows all things. He plans all things according to His own will. If we have a vocation to the Priesthood, God knew this before we came into the world. And He gave us the desire, talent, health, parents, and all else that we would need to follow our vocation. At first we may not know we have a vocation to the Priesthood. But at the proper time, God makes it known to us, sometimes suddenly, more often slowly and by degrees. Before Saint Paul was a Christian, he never even dreamed that he would be a Priest in Christ’s Church. He persecuted the Church which Christ founded. In so doing, he believed he was pleasing God, for he thought that the Jewish religion was still God’s one true Church. Suddenly, Jesus by a miracle struck him with blindness and spoke to him. At once Paul became a Christian, and then an Apostle and Priest. Some boys and young men learn of their vocation to the Priesthood suddenly. But most of them learn of it slowly. Day by day, it becomes clearer to them what God would have them do. A priest, a religious, a sermon, a book, a friend, or something else, inspires them with the thought that they have a vocation, or to be more sure of it. First, they may be in doubt; then they are almost sure; and then they become certain that Jesus is calling them, saying to them: “Come, and follow Me as a Priest.” God has placed each of us on earth to do a special work for Him. As soon as we come to the use of reason, we should begin praying and studying to find out what that work is; then we must fit ourselves to do that work well. If we think Christ is calling us to be a Priest in the diocesan Priesthood or to the Priesthood in the religious life, we should do all we can to make certain of it. We should pray fervently and consider whether we have the necessary health and strength, and whether we can be taught and trained to do the work of the Priesthood well. We must see to it that we keep from mortal sin and spare no effort to keep from all venial sin also. We must resolve to become a Priest not for any earthly pleasure or profit, but solely to help Christ in His Church, saving people from hell, helping them to Heaven, and making them holier and happier. And while we thus plan to be a Priest, we should be living, as well as we can, the life of the Priesthood.
Source: Vocations, Fr. Richard Felix, O.S.B.
The Duties of the Priest
Did you ever think about becoming a Priest? If so, one of your first thoughts was: What are the duties of a Priest? You knew that unless you found joys in the duties of the Priesthood, you could not be happy. And you knew that you could not do your best work for Christ, unless you were happy while doing it. You will find great joy in prayer. The life of a good Priest is a life full of prayer. He says now and then during the day and night the prayers which all other good Catholics say. In addition to these, he prays the liturgical prayers of the Church. Each day he celebrates Mass and says the Divine Office. While saying the Office, he studies in prayer the Bible for fully an hour a day. Then while administering the Sacraments and conducting other services, he says many other prayers in the name of the Church. Assisting at Mass fills your heart with peace and happiness. Each morning the Priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice. In preparation for this sublime act of worship, he spends some time in prayer; and after the Holy Sacrifice, he again spends considerable time thanking God. Thus in prayer and Sacrifice, he spends another hour each day. Receiving the Sacrament of Penance brings peace and joy to you. Each week the Priest usually spends hours in the confessional. One after another, repenting sinners come and get God’s forgiveness of their sins. Then they go away holy and happy, resolving never to sin again. Your heart is thrilled with the joy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every time you receive Him in Holy Communion. The Priest brings Jesus from the altar, and under the form of bread, places Him on your tongue in Holy Communion; and you receive Him into your body and soul. For a few moments, the Risen Jesus lives in you as in a living temple; and then as God, He continues to remain with you. You delight to tell others about Jesus and to explain His Gospel to them. Every day the Priest is engaged in this work. He does it while speaking with others. He does it while instructing those who come to him and wish to become Catholics. He does it while preparing children and older people for receiving the Sacraments. And he does it while preaching or giving instructions at Mass and other services. So day after day until death, the Priest spends most of his time doing the work and attending to the worship of God in His Church. You, too, would be very happy doing God’s work. Jesus is “a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”; pray for the day when by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders you can be made and marked His faithful Priest forever.
Source: Vocations, Fr. Richard Felix, O.S.B.
Day 46 - April 19 - Good Friday: Model Your Death Upon That of Jesus Christ
If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon his death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there shall it lie. If, at the hour of his death, someone is living in some bad habit, his poor soul will fall on the side of Hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!....
Generally speaking, one dies as one has lived. That is one of the great truths which Holy Scripture and the Fathers repeat in many different places. If you live as good Christians, you will be sure to die as good Christians, but if you live badly, you will be sure to die a bad death. The prophet Isaias warns us that the impious man who thinks only of doing evil is in a woeful state, for he will be treated as he deserves. At death he will receive the reward for the work he has done. It is true, however, that sometimes, by a kind of miracle, one may begin badly and finish well, but that happens so rarely that, as St. Jerome puts it, death is generally the echo of life. You think that you will return then to God? No, you will perish in sin....
The Holy Ghost tells us that if we have a friend, we should do him some good before we die. Well, my dear brethren, could one have a better friend than one's soul? Let us do all the good for it that we can, for at the moment when we would like to do our souls good, we shall be able to do no more!.... Life is short. If you defer changing your ways until the hour of your death, you are blind, for you do not know either the time or the place where you will die, perhaps without any assistance. Who knows if you will not go this night, covered in your sins, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ?.... Yes, my dear brethren, as life is, so is death. Do not hope for a miracle, which God but rarely performs. You are living in sin; very well, you will die in sin....
If we desire to die a good death, we must lead a Christian life. And the way for us to prepare for a good death is to model our deaths upon the death of Jesus Christ. Can the life of the good Christian be anything other than that of a man nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ?
Day 45 - April 18 - Holy Thursday- It is Necessary to be Converted
No, my dear brethren, let us never forget that in order to receive Holy Communion it is necessary to be converted and strong in a true resolution to persevere. When Jesus Christ desired to give His Adorable Body and His Precious Blood to His Apostles, in order to teach them how pure one should be before receiving It, He even went so far as to wash their feet. By that He wishes to show us that we can never be purified enough of our sins, even our venial sins. It is true that the venial sin does not make our Communions unworthy, but it is a cause of our profiting hardly at all by such a great blessing and happiness. The proof of that is very clear when you consider how many times we have received Holy Communion during the course of our lives. And have we become any better?.... No, not at all, and the real cause of that is that practically all the time we are holding onto our bad habits; we do not break ourselves of any one of them more than another. We have a horror of the big sins which kill our souls, but all those little fits of impatience, those grumblings when some worries or troubles befall us, or some disappointments or setbacks – these mean nothing to us. You will admit that in spite of so many Confessions and Holy Communions, you are always the same, that your Confessions are nothing else, nor have they been for years, than a repetition of the same sins, which, although venial, are none the less damaging to the merit of your Holy Communions.
You have been heard to say, with good reason, that you are no better one day than another, but who is stopping you from correcting your faults?.... If you are always the same, it is simply because you do not want to make even small efforts to improve yourself. You do not want to endure anything or to be opposed in anything. You would like everyone to be fond of you and to have a good opinion of you, which is a difficult enough thing.
Let us try hard, my dear brethren, to destroy all that could be in the smallest way displeasing to Jesus Christ, and we shall see how our Communions will help us to make great strides towards Heaven. And the more we do this, the more we shall feel ourselves becoming detached from sin and inclining towards God.... This is what I desire for you.
Day 44 - April 18 - Prisoners of Sin
If we understood fully what it is to receive the sacraments, we should bring to the reception of them very much better sentiments than those we do. It is true that the greater number of people, in hiding their sins, always keep at the back of their minds the thought of acknowledging them. Without a miracle, they will not be any the less lost for that.
If you want the reason, it is very easy to give it to you. The more we remain in that terrible state which makes Heaven and earth tremble, the more the Devil takes control of us, the more the grace of God diminishes in us, the more our fear increases, the more our sacrileges multiply, and the more we fall away.
The result is that we put ourselves almost beyond the possibility of returning into favor with God. I will give you a hundred examples of this against one to the contrary. Tell me, my dear brethren, can you even hope that after passing perhaps five or six years in sacrilege, during which you outraged God more than did all the Jews together, you would dare to believe that God is going to give you all the graces which you will need to emerge from this terrible state? You think that notwithstanding the many crimes against Jesus Christ of which you have been guilty, you have only to say: "I am going to give up sin now and all will be over."
Alas, my friends! Who has guaranteed to you that Jesus Christ will not have made to you the same threat He made to the Jews and pronounce the same sentence which He pronounced against them?.... You did not wish to profit by the graces which I wanted to give you; but I will leave you alone, and you will seek Me and you will not find Me, and you will die in your sin!.... Alas, my dear brethren, our poor souls, once they are in the Devil's hands, will not escape from these as easily as we would like to believe.... Look, my dear brethren, at what the Devil does to mislead us.
When we are committing sin, he represents it to us as a mere trifle. He makes us think that there are a great many others who do much worse than we do. Or again, that as we will be confessing the sin, it will be as easy to say four times as twice. But once the sin has been committed, he acts in exactly the opposite way. He represents the sin to us as a monstrous thing. He fills us with such a horror of it that we no longer have the courage to confess it. If we are too frightened to keep the sin hidden, he tells us, to reassure us, that we will confess it at our very next Confession. Subsequently, he tells us that we will not have the courage to do that now, that it would be better to wait for another time to confess it. Take care, my dear brethren; it is only the first step which costs the effort. Once in the prison of the sin, it is very difficult, indeed, to break out of it....
But, you are thinking, I do not really believe that there are many who would be capable of hiding their sins because they would be too much troubled by them. Ah, my dear brethren, if I had to affirm on oath whether there were or were not such people, I would not hesitate to say that there are at least five or six listening to me who are consumed by remorse for their sins and who know that what I say is true. But have patience; you will see them on the day of judgment, and you will recall what I have said to you today. Oh, my God, how shame and fear can hold a Christian soul prisoner in such a terrifying state! Ah, my dear brethren, what are you preparing for yourselves?
You do not dare to make a clean breast of it to your pastor? But is he the only one in the world? Would you not find priests who would have the charity to receive you? Do you think that you would be given too severe a penance? Ah, my children, do not let that stop you! You would be helped; the greater part of it all would be done for you. They would pray for you; they would weep for your sins in order to draw down with greater abundance the mercies of God on you! My friends, have pity on that poor soul which cost Jesus Christ so dearly!.... Oh, my God, who will ever understand the blindness of these poor sinners! You have hidden your sin, my child, but it must be known one day, and then in the eyes of the whole universe, while by one word you would have hidden it forever and you would have changed your hell for an eternity of happiness. Alas, that a sacrilege can lead these poor sinners so far. They do not want to die in that state, but they have not the strength to leave it. My God, torment them so greatly that they will not be able to stay there!
Day 42 - April 16 - We Must Expect Temptation
It is most unfortunate for ourselves if we do not know that we are tempted in almost all our actions, at one time by pride, by vanity, by the good opinion which we think people should have of us, at another by jealousy, by hatred and by revenge. At other times, the Devil comes to us with the foulest and most impure images. You see that even in our prayers he distracts us and turns our minds this way and that. It seems indeed that we are in a state.... since we are in the holy presence of God [sentence incomplete – Trans.]. And even more, since the time of Adam, you will not find a saint who has not been tempted – some in one way, some in another – and the greatest saints are those who have been tempted the most. If Our Lord was tempted, it was in order to show us that we must be also. It follows, therefore, that we must expect temptation. If you ask me what is the cause of our temptations, I shall tell you that it is the beauty and the great worth and importance of our souls which the Devil values and which he loves so much that he would consent to suffer two Hells, if necessary, if by so doing he could drag our souls into Hell.
We should never cease to keep a watch on ourselves, lest the Devil might deceive us at the moment when we are least expecting it. St. Francis tells us that one day God allowed him to see the way in which the Devil tempted his religious, especially in matters of purity. He allowed him to see a band of devils who did nothing but shoot their arrows against his religious. Some returned violently against the devils who had discharged them. They then fled, shrieking hideous yells of rage. Some of the arrows glanced off those they were intended for and dropped at their feet without doing any harm. Others pierced just as far as the tip of the arrow and finally penetrated, bit by bit.
If we wish to hunt these temptations away, we must, as St. Anthony tells us, make use of the same weapons. When we are tempted by pride, we must immediately humble and abase ourselves before God. If we are tempted against the holy virtue of purity, we must try to mortify our bodies and all our senses and to be ever more vigilant of ourselves. If our temptation consists in a distaste for prayers, we must say even more prayers, with greater attention, and the more the Devil prompts us to give them up, the more we must increase their number.
The temptations we must fear most are those of which we are not conscious. St. Gregory tells us that there was a religious who for long had been a good member of his community. Then he developed a very strong desire to leave the monastery and to return to the world, saying that God did not wish him to be in that monastery. His saintly superior told him: "My friend, it is the Devil who is angry because you may be able to save your soul. Fight against him."
But no, the other continued to believe that it was as he claimed. St. Gregory gave him permission to leave. But when he was leaving the monastery, the latter went on his knees to ask God to let this poor religious know that it was the Devil who wanted to make him lose his soul. The religious had scarcely put his foot over the threshold of the door to leave when he saw an enormous dragon, which attacked him. "Oh, brothers," he cried out, "come to my aid! Look at the dragon which will devour me!" And indeed, the brethren who came running when they heard the noise found this poor monk stretched out on the ground, half-dead. They carried him back into the monastery, and he realized that truly it was the Devil who wanted to tempt him and who was bursting with rage because the superior had prayed for him and so had prevented the Devil from getting him. Alas, my dear brethren, how greatly we should fear, lest we do not recognize our temptations! And we shall never recognize them if we do not ask God to allow us to do so.
Day 41 - April 15 - He Will Help US
Yes, my dear brethren, in everything that we see, in everything that we hear, in all we say and do, we are conscious of the fact that we are drawn towards evil. If we are at table, there is sensuality, and gluttony, and intemperance. If we take a few moments of recreation, there are the dangers of flightiness and idle chatter. If we are at work, most of the time it is self-interest, or avarice, or envy which influences us – or even vanity. When we pray, there is negligence, distraction, distaste, and boredom. If we are in pain or any trouble, there are complaints and murmurings. When we are doing well and are prosperous, pride, self-love, and contempt for our neighbor take hold of us. Our hearts swell with pride when we are praised. Wrongs inflame us into rages.
There you see my dear brethren, the thing which made the greatest of the saints tremble. This was what made so many of them retire into the desert to live solitary lives; this was the source of so many tears, of so many prayers, of so many penances. It is true that the saints who were hidden away in the forests were not exempt from temptations, but they were far removed from so much bad example as that which surrounds us continually and which is the cause of so many souls being lost.
But, my dear brethren, we see from their lives that they watched, they prayed, and they were in dread unceasingly, while we, poor, blind sinners, are quite placid in the midst of so many dangers which could lose us our souls! Alas, my dear brethren, some of us do not even know what it is to be tempted because we hardly ever, or very rarely, resist. Which one of us can expect to escape from all these dangers? Which one of us will be saved? Anyone who wanted to reflect upon all these things could hardly go on living, so greatly terrified would he be! However, my dear brethren, what ought to console and reassure us is that we have to deal with a good Father Who will never allow our struggles to be greater than our strength, and every time we have recourse to Him, He will help us to fight and to conquer.
Day 38 - April 12 - The Evil Tongues
There are some who, through envy, for that is what it amounts to, belittle and slander others, especially those in the same business or profession as their own, in order to draw business to themselves. They will say such evil things as "their merchandise is worthless" or "they cheat"; that they have nothing at home and that it would be impossible to give goods away at such a price; that there have been many complaints about these goods; that they will give no value or wear or whatever it is, or even that it is short weight, or not the right length, and so on. A workman will say that another man is not a good worker, that he is always changing his job, that people are not satisfied with him, or that he does no work, that he only puts in his time, or perhaps that he does not know how to work. "What I was telling you there," they will then add, "it would be better to say nothing about it. He might lose by it, you know." "Is that so?" you answer." It would have been better if you yourself had said nothing. That would have been the thing to do."
A farmer will observe that his neighbor’s property is doing better than his own. This makes him very angry so he will speak evil of him. There are others who slander their neighbors from motives of vengeance. If you do or say something to help someone, even through reasons of duty or of charity, they will then look for opportunities to decry you, to think up things which will harm you, in order to revenge themselves. If their neighbor is well spoken of, they will be very annoyed and will tell you: "He is just like everyone else. He has his own faults. He has done this, he has said that. You didn't know that? Ah, that is because you have never had anything to do with him."
A great many people slander others because of pride. They think that by depreciating others they will increase their own worth. They want to make the most of their own alleged good qualities. Everything they say and do will be good, and everything that others say and do will be wrong.
But the great bulk of malicious talk is done by people who are simply irresponsible, who have an itch to chatter about others without feeling any need to discover whether what they are saying is true or false. They just have to talk. Yet, although these latter are less guilty than the others – that is to say, than those who slander and backbite through hatred or envy or revenge – yet they are not free from sin. Whatever the motive that prompts them, they should not sully the reputation of their neighbor.
It is my belief that the sin of scandal-mongering includes all that is most evil and wicked. Yes, my dear brethren, this sin includes the poison of all the vices – the meanness of vanity, the venom of jealousy, the bitterness of anger, the malice of hatred, and the flightiness and irresponsibility so unworthy of a Christian.... Is it not, in fact, scandal-mongering which sows almost all discord and disunity, which breaks up friendships and hinders enemies from reconciling their quarrels, which disturbs the peace of homes, which turns brother against brother, husband against wife, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law and son-in-law against father-in-law? How many united households have been turned upside down by one evil tongue, so that their members could not bear to see or to speak to one another? And one malicious tongue, belonging to a neighbor, man or woman, can be the cause of all this misery....
Yes, my dear brethren, the evil tongue of one scandal-monger poisons all the virtues and engenders all the vices. It is from that malicious tongue that a stain is spread so many times through a whole family, a stain which passes from fathers to children, from one generation to the next, and which perhaps is never effaced. The malicious tongue will follow the dead into the grave; it will disturb the remains of these unfortunates by making live again the faults which were buried with them in that resting place. What a foul crime, my dear brethren! Would you not be filled with fiery indignation if you were to see some vindictive wretch rounding upon a corpse and tearing it into a thousand pieces? Such a sight would make you cry out in horror and compassion. And yet the crime of continuing to talk of the faults of the dead is much greater. A great many people habitually speak of someone who has died something after this fashion: "Ah, he did very well in his time! He was a seasoned drinker. He was as cute as a fox. He was no better than he should have been."
But perhaps, my friend, you are mistaken, and although everything may have been exactly as you have said, perhaps he is already in Heaven, perhaps God has pardoned him. But, in the meantime, where is your charity?
Day 37 - April 11 - The Service of The Blessed Virgin
If I wanted to, I would show you that in all walks of life there have been great servants of the Blessed Virgin. I would find for you, among them, those who begged their bread from door to door. I would find for you, among them, those who lived in much the same sort of state in life as many of you. I would find them for you among the wealthy, and in great number, too. We read in the Gospel that our Lord always treated people with great tenderness, except for one type of people whom He treated with severity; these were the Pharisees, and they were so treated because they were proud and hardened in sin. They would willingly have hindered, if they could, the accomplishment of the will of the Father. What is more, our Lord called them "whited sepulchers, hypocrites, brood of vipers, offspring of vipers, who devour the breasts of their mothers."
We can say the same thing on the subject of devotion to the Blessed Virgin. All Christians have a great devotion to Mary except those old and hardened sinners who, for a very long time, having lost the faith, wallow in the slime of their brute passions. The Devil tries to keep them in this state of blindness until that moment when death opens their eyes. Ah! If they had but the happiness to have recourse to Mary they would not fall into Hell, as will happen to them! No, my dear children, let us not imitate such people! On the contrary, let us follow the footsteps of all those true servants of Mary. Belonging to this number were St. Charles Borromeo, who always said his rosary on his knees. What is more, he fasted on all vigils of the feasts of the Blessed Virgin. He was so careful about saluting her on the stroke of the bell that when the Angelus rang, wherever he was, he went down on his knees, sometimes even in the middle of the road when it was full of mud. He desired that his whole diocese should have a great devotion to Mary and that her name would be uttered everywhere with the utmost respect. He had a number of chapels built in her honor.
Now then, my dear brethren, why should not we imitate these great saints who obtained so many graces from Mary to preserve them from sin? Have we not the same enemies to fight, the same Heaven to hope for? Yes, Mary always has her eyes upon us. Do we suffer temptations? Let us turn our hearts towards Mary and we shall be delivered.
Day 36 – April 10 - On Paradise
"Blessed, O Lord, are those who dwell in Your house: they shall praise You for ever and ever."
To dwell in the house of the good God, to enjoy the presence of the good God, to be happy with the happiness of the good God – oh, what happiness, my children! Who can understand all the joy and consolation with which the saints are inebriated in Paradise? St. Paul, who was taken up into the third heaven, tells us that there are things above which he cannot reveal to us, and which we cannot comprehend.... Indeed, my children, we can never form a true idea of Heaven till we shall be there.
It is a hidden treasure, an abundance of secret sweetness, a plenitude of joy, which may be felt, but which our poor tongue cannot explain. What can we imagine greater? The good God Himself will be our recompense: Ego merces tua magna nimis – I am your reward exceeding great. O God! the happiness You promise us is such that the eyes of man cannot see it, his ears cannot hear it, nor his heart conceive it.
Yes, my children, the happiness of Heaven is incomprehensible; it is the last effort of the good God, who wishes to reward us. God, being admirable in all His works, will be so too when He recompenses the good Christians who have made all their happiness consist in the possession of Heaven. This possession contains all good, and excludes all evil; sin being far from Heaven, all the pains and miseries which are the consequences of sin are also banished from it.
No more death! The good God will be in us the Principle of everlasting life. No more sickness, no more sadness, no more pains, no more grief. You who are afflicted, rejoice! Your fears and your weeping will not extend beyond the grave.... The good God will Himself wipe away your tears! Rejoice, O you whom the world persecutes! your sorrows will soon be over, and for a moment of tribulation, you will have in Heaven an immense weight of glory. Rejoice! for you possess all good things in one – the source of all good, the good God Himself.
Can anyone be unhappy when he is with the good God; when he is happy with the happiness of the good God, of the good God Himself; when he sees the good God as he sees himself? As St. Paul says, my children, we shall see God face to face, because then there will be no veil between Him and us. We shall possess Him without uneasiness, for we shall no longer fear to lose Him. We shall love Him with an uninterrupted and undivided love, because He alone will occupy our whole heart. We shall enjoy Him without weariness, because we shall discover in Him ever new perfections; and in proportion as we penetrate into that immense abyss of wisdom, of goodness, of mercy, of justice, of grandeur, and of holiness, we shall plunge ourselves in it with fresh eagerness. If an interior consolation, if a grace from the good God, gives us so much pleasure in this world that it diminishes our troubles, that it helps us to bear our crosses, that it gives to so many martyrs strength to suffer the most cruel torments – what will be the happiness of Heaven, where consolations and delights are given, not drop by drop, but by torrents!
Let us represent to ourselves, my children, an everlasting day always new, a day always serene, always calm; the most delicious, the most perfect society. What joy, what happiness, if we could possess on earth, only for a few minutes, the angels, the Blessed Virgin, Jesus Christ! In Heaven we shall eternally see, not only the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Christ, we shall see the good God Himself! We shall see Him no longer through the darkness of faith, but in the light of day, in all His Majesty! What happiness thus to see the good God! The angels have contemplated Him since the beginning of the world, and they are not satiated; it would be the greatest misfortune to them to be deprived of Him for a single moment. The possession of Heaven, my children, can never weary us; we possess the good God, the Author of all perfections. See, the more we possess God, the more He pleases; the more we know Him, the more attractions and charms we find in the knowledge of Him. We shall always see Him and shall always desire to see Him; we shall always taste the pleasure there is in enjoying the good God, and we shall never be satiated with it. The blessed will be enveloped in the Divine Immensity, they will revel in delights and be all surrounded with them, and, as it were, inebriated. Such is the happiness which the good God destines for us.
We can all, my children, acquire this happiness. The good God wills the salvation of the whole world; He has merited Heaven for us by His death, and by the effusion of all His Blood. What a happiness to be able to say, "Jesus Christ died for me; He has opened Heaven for me; it is my inheritance.... Jesus has prepared a place for me; it only depends on me to go and occupy it. Vado vobis parare locum – I go to prepare a place for you. The good God has given us faith, and with this virtue we can attain to eternal life. For, though the good God wills the salvation of all men, He particularly wills that of the Christians who believe in Him: Qui credit, habeat vitam aeternam – He that believes has life everlasting. Let us, then, thank the good God, my children; let us rejoice – our names are written in Heaven, like those of the Apostles. Yes, they are written in the Book of Life: if we choose, they will be there forever, since we have the means of reaching Heaven.
The happiness of Heaven, my children, is easy to acquire; the good God has furnished us with so many means of doing it! See, there is not a single creature which does not furnish us with the means of attaining to the good God; if any of them become an obstacle, it is only by our abuse of them. The goods and the miseries of this life, even the chastisements made use of by the good God to punish our infidelities, serve to our salvation. The good God, as St. Paul says, makes all things turn to the good of His elect; even our very faults may be useful to us; even bad examples and temptations. Job was saved in the midst of an idolatrous people. All the saints have been tempted. If these things are, in the hands of God, an assistance in reaching Heaven, what will happen if we have recourse to the Sacraments, to that never-failing source of all good, to that fountain of grace supplied by the good God Himself! It was easy for the disciples of Jesus to be saved, having the Divine Savior constantly with them.
Is it more difficult for us to secure our salvation, having Him constantly with us? They were happy in obtaining whatever they wished for, whatever they chose; are we less so? We possess Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; He is continually with us, He is ready to grant us whatever we ask, He is waiting for us; we have only to ask. O my children! the poor know how to express their wants to the rich; we have only our indifference, then, to accuse, if assistance and graces are lacking to us. If an ambitious or a covetous man had as ample means of enriching himself, would he hesitate a moment, would he let so favorable an opportunity escape? Alas! we do everything for this world, and nothing for the other! What labor, what trouble, what cares, what sorrows, in order to gather up a little fortune! See, my children, of what use are our perishable goods? Solomon, the greatest, the richest, the most fortunate of kings, said, in the height of the most brilliant fortune: "I have seen all things that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit." And these are the goods to acquire which we labor so much, while we never think of the goods of Heaven!
How shameful for us not to labor to acquire it, and to neglect so many means of reaching it! If the fig tree was cast into the fire for not having profited by the care that had been taken to render it fertile; if the unprofitable servant was reproved for having hidden the talent that he had received, what fate awaits us, who have so often abused the aids which might have taken us to Heaven? If we have abused the graces that the good God has given us, let us make haste to repair the past by great fidelity, and let us endeavor to acquire merits worthy of eternal life.