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INSTRUCTION ON THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays, and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year
36th edition, 1880

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THIS Sunday and the whole week should serve as a preparation for the festival of Pentecost ; that we may be enabled by good works and pious devotional exercises, to receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost. At the Introit the Church sings: Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee, allel. My heart hath said to thee: I have sought thy face, thy face, O Lord, I will seek: turn not away thy face from me, allel. allel. The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? (Ps.xxvi. 7—9.) Glory be to the Father, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Almighty, everlasting God, grant us ever to have a will devoted to Thee,and to serve Thy majesty with a sincere heart. Through.

EPISTLE. (i Peter iv. 7 — 11.) Dearly beloved, be prudent, and watch in prayers. But before all things, have a constant mutual charity among yourselves; for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Using hospitality one towards another without murmuring: as every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the words God: if any man minister, let him do it as of the power which God administereth; that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ, our Lord.



Quote:EXPLANATION. The practice of the virtues which St. Peter here prescribes for the faithful, is an excellent preparation for the reception of the Holy Ghost, for nothing renders us more worthy of His visit than true love for our neighbor, the good use of God's gifts, and the faithful discharge of the duties of our state of life. Strive, therefore, to practise these virtues and thus make yourself less unworthy of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Say daily during the week the following prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit, who hast assembled the people of all tongues in unity of faith, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy divine love.

GOSPEL. (John xv. 26 — 27., to xvi. 1 — 4.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me: and you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things I have told you, that, when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you.


Why is the Holy Ghost called the Paraclete?

Because He consoles those who suffer persecution for justice' sake, that is, those who are persecuted because of their truly Christian life, their defence of truth and justice whether by word or pen, or by their life, as did the apostles and other saints, who were filled with the greatest and sweetest delight while suffering for Jesus' sake.

How did the Holy Ghost give testimony of Christ?

Through the apostles and disciples whom He made so eloquent and so courageous that they intrepidly professed and preached Christ to be the Son of God, and the true Messiah. This doctrine He confirmed by astounding miracles, and sealed it by their blood which they shed in its defence The Holy Ghost still gives testimony of Christ through the Church, that is, the clergy, through whom He speaks, and who must, therefore, be listened to reverently. We must also give testimony of Christ and profess by our lives, by patience in crosses and afflictions that He is our Teacher, our Lord, and our God; for if we do not thus acknowledge Him in this world, He will deny us before His Father in heaven. (Matt. x. 33.)


Did the Jews sin in persecuting and putting to death the apostles?

Undoubtedly; for although they erroneously believed they were doing God a service, their ignorance and error were very sinful and deserving of punishment, because they could easily have known and been instructed in the truth.

Those Christians who neglect all religious instruction hardly know what is necessary for salvation, and make light of many things which are grievous sins; as also those who are in doubt whether they justly or unjustly possess certain goods, and yet through fear of being compelled to make restitution, neglect to settle the doubt, such are in culpable ignorance.


What must every Christian know and believe in order to be saved?

That there is but one God, who has created and governs all things; that God is a just judge, who rewards the good and punishes the wicked; that there are in the Deity three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that the Son of God became man for love of us, taught us, and by His death on the cross redeemed us; that the Holy Ghost sanctifies us by His grace, without which we cannot become virtuous or be saved; that man's soul is immortal.

PETITION. Send us, O Lord Jesus! the Paraclete, that He may console and strengthen us in all our afflictions. Enlighten us by Thy Holy Spirit that we may learn and live in accordance with the truths of faith. Amen.




INSTRUCTION ON SCANDAL
These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. (John xvi. 1.)

How is scandal given?

BY speaking, doing or omitting that which will be to others an occasion of sin. Scandal is given indifferent ways, for instance: if you dress improperly, speak improper words, or sing bad songs, by which you can see, that your neighbor will be tempted to think, desire, or act wrongly; or what is worse, if you act sinfully in the presence of others, or bring bad books, books against good morals, or against the holy faith, among people; if you incite others to anger, cursing, and vengeance, or if you prevent them from attending church, the sermon, or catechetical instruction, &c. In all these things you become guilty of scandal, as well as of all the sins to which it gives rise.

If at the Last Judgment we will be unable to give an account of our own sins, how then can we answer for the innumerable sins caused by the scandal we have given? Therefore Christ pronounces a terrible woe to those who give scandal. Woe to that man, He says, by whom the scandal cometh! It were better for him, that a mill- stone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt, xviii.)


How do parents give scandal?

By giving their children bad example; by excessive anger, cursing and swearing; by avarice, injustice and cheating; by discord and quarrels; by gluttony in eating and drinking; by extravagance and vanity in dress; by sneering at religion, good morals, &c; by not keeping their children from evil company, but sometimes even bringing them into it; by not punishing and endeavoring to eradicate their children's vices. How much parents sin through such scandals, cannot be expressed; at the Day of Judgment their children will be their accusers!


How do masters give scandal to their servants and those under their care?

In the same way as parents do to their children; by keeping them away, or not urging them by their own example or command to attend church on Sundays and holy- days; by giving them meat on fastdays; by commanding them to do sinful things, such as stealing, injuring others, &c.


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INSTRUCTION ON PREPARATION FOR PENTECOST

1. We should withdraw, after the example of the m T Blessed Virgin and the apostles, to some solitary place, or at least avoid, intercourse with others, as much as possible; speak but little, and apply ourselves to earnest and persevering prayer; for in solitude God speaks to man.

2. We should purify our conscience by a contrite confession, become reconciled to our neighbor, if we have lived in enmity; for the Holy Ghost, as a spirit of peace and purity, lives only in pure and peaceful souls. (Ps. lxxv. 3.)

3. We should give alms according to our means, for it is said in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts x.) of the Gentile centurion Cornelius, that by prayer and alms-deeds he made himself worthy of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

4. We should fervently desire to receive the Holy Ghost, and should give expression to this longing by frequent aspirations to God, making use of the prayer: "Come, O Holy Ghost, &c."
Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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O rex gloriæ, Domine virtutum, qui triumphator hodie super omnes cœlos ascendisti, ne derelinquas nos orphanos; sed mitte promissum Patris in nos Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, who didst this day ascend in triumph above all the heavens! leave us not orphans, but send upon us the Spirit of truth, promised by the Father, alleluia.

Jesus has ascended into heaven. His Divinity had never been absent; but by the Ascension, his Humanity was also enthroned there, and crowned with the brightest diadem of glory. This is another phase of the Mystery we are now solemnizing. Besides a triumph, the Ascension gave to the sacred Humanity a place on the very throne of the Eternal Word, to whom it was united in unity of Person. From this throne, it is to receive the adoration of men and Angels. At the name of Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God—of Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty, every knee shall bend, in heaven, on earth, and in hell.

Give ear, O ye inhabitants of earth! This is the Man Jesus, who, heretofore, was a little Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes; who went through Judea and Galilee, not having where to lay his head; who was bound by the sacrilegious hands of his enemies, was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to a Cross; who, while men thus trampled him, as a worm, beneath their feet, submitted his will to that of his Father, accepted the Chalice of suffering, and, that he might make amends to the divine glory, shed his Blood for the redemption of you sinners. This Man Jesus, child of Adam through Mary the Immaculate, is the masterpiece of God’s omnipotence. He is the most beautiful of the sons of men; the Angels love to fix their gaze upon him; the Blessed Trinity is well-pleased with him; the gifts of grace bestowed on him surpass all that men and angels together have ever received:—but he came to suffer, and suffer for you; and though he might have redeemed you at a much lower price, yet would he generously overpay your debts by a superabundance of humiliation and suffering. What reward shall be given to him? The Apostle tells it us in these words: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross; for which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a Name, which is above all names.

You, then, who compassionate with him in the Sufferings whereby he wrought your redemption; you who devoutly follow him in the stages of his sacred Passion; now raise up your heads, and look up to the highest heaven! Behold this Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death! See how the Father has magnified him in return for his having emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, He who, in his other Nature, was equal with God. His crown of Thorns is replaced by a crown of precious stones. The Cross that was laid on his shoulders is now the ensign of his power. The Wounds made by the Nails and the Spear are now like five bright suns that light up all heaven. Glory, then, be to the justice of the Father, who has dealt thus with his Son! Let us rejoice at seeing the Man of sorrows become now the King of Glory, and let us, with all the transport of our souls, repeat the Hosanna wherewith the Angels welcomed him into heaven.

Nor must we suppose that the Son of Man, now that he is seated on the throne of his Divinity, is inactive in his glorious rest. No, the Sovereignty bestowed upon him by the Father, is an active one. First of all, he is appointed Judge of the living and of the dead, before whose judgment-seat we must all stand. No sooner shall our soul have quitted the body, than she shall be presented before this tribunal, and receive from the lips of the Son of Man the sentence she shall have deserved. O Jesus! by the glory thou didst receive on the day of thine Ascension, have mercy on us at that moment whereon depends eternity.

But the Judgeship of our Lord Jesus Christ is not to be confined to this silent exercise of his sovereign power. The Angels, who appeared to the Apostles, after his Ascension, told us that he is to come again upon the earth; that he is to descend through the clouds, as he ascended; and that then shall be the Last Judgment, at which the whole human race is to be present. Throned on a cloud and surrounded by the Angelic host, the Son of Man will show himself to mankind, and this time, with all Majesty. Men shall see him whom they pierced; the imprints of those Wounds, which will give additional beauty to his sacred Body, will be an object of terror to the wicked, while to the good they will be a source of unspeakable consolation. The Shepherd, seated on his ethereal throne, will separate the goats from the sheep; his voice, after so many ages of silence, will make itself once more heard upon this earth; he will speak to impenitent sinners, condemning them to eternal torments; he will speak to the just, calling them to approach him, and ascend, body and soul, into the region of everlasting bliss.

Meanwhile he exercises over all nations the royal power, which he received, as Man, on the Day of his Ascension. He redeemed us all by his Blood; we are therefore his people, and he is our King. He is, and he calls himself, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The kings of the earth reign not either by their own prowess, or by the boasted social compact; they lawfully reign by Christ alone. Peoples and nations are not their own masters; they belong to Christ and are his subjects. His law requires no sanction from man; it is above all human laws, and should be their guide and controller. Why have the nations raged, and the people devised vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord and against his Christ. They said: Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. How vain all these efforts! for, as the Apostle says, he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet, that is, until his second coming, when the pride of man and Satan’s power shall both be at an end.

Thus, then, the Son of Man, crowned at his Ascension, must reign over the world to the end of time. But it will be objected: “How can he be said to reign in these our times, when Kings and Emperors and Presidents acknowledge that their authority comes from the people; and when the people themselves, carried away with the ideas of self-government and liberty and independence, have lost all idea of Authority?” And yet, he reigns; he reigns in his justice, since men refused to be guided by his clemency. They expunged his law from their statutes; they gave the rights of citizenship to error and blasphemy: then did he deliver them up, both people and rulers, to their own follows and lies. Authority and power are become ephemeral: and as they scorn to receive the consecration of the Church, the hand that holds them today may be empty tomorrow. Then anarchy, then a new Ruler, and then a fresh Revolution. This will be the future, as it is the present, history of Nations, until they once more acknowledge Jesus as their King, and resume the Constitution of the Ages of Faith: “It is Christ that conquers! it is Christ that reigns! it is Christ that commands! May Christ preserve his people from all evil!”

On this thy Coronation Day, receive our devoted homage, O Jesus, our King, our Lord, our Judge! By our sins, we were the cause of thy humiliations and sufferings; so much the more fervently, then, do we unite with the acclamations made to thee by the Angels when the royal diadem was placed on thy head by the Eternal Father. As yet, we but faintly see thy grandeur; but the Holy Spirit, whom thou art about to send upon us, will teach us more and more of thy Sovereign power, for we are, and wish to be eternally, thy humble and faithful subjects!

In the Middle Ages, the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, was called “The Sunday of Roses,” because it was the custom to strew the pavement of the Churches with roses, as an homage to Christ who ascended to heaven when earth was in the season of flowers. How well the Christians of those times appreciated the harmony that God has set between the world of grace and nature! The Feast of the Ascension, when considered in its chief characteristic, is one of gladness and jubilation, and Spring’s loveliest days are made for its celebration. Our forefathers had the spirit of the Church; they forgot, for a moment, the sadness of poor earth at losing her Emmanuel, and they remembered how he said to his Apostles: If ye loved me, ye would be glad, because I go to my Father! Let us do in like manner; let us offer to Jesus the Roses wherewith he has beautified our earth: their beauty and fragrance should make us think of him who made them, of Him who calls himself The Flower of the field and the Lily of the valleys. He loved to be called “Jesus of Nazareth;” for Nazareth means a Flower: and the symbol would tell us what a charm and sweetness there is in Him we serve and love as our God.


Mass

The Introit, which is taken from the Book of Psalms, expresses the longings of the Church to behold her Spouse, who has fled far from her. The faithful soul is possessed with the same desire; she unites in the prayer of our Holy Mother, and says to Jesus: “Oh! hearken to the wish of my heart, and show me thy divine face!”

Introit
Exaudi, Domine, vocem meam, qua clamavi ad te, alleluia. Tibi dixit cor meum: Quæsivi vultum tuum, vultum tuum Domine requiram: ne avertas faciem tuam a me. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried out to thee, alleluia. My heart hath said to thee: I have sought thy face! I will seek thy face, O Lord: turn not thy face from me. Alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Dominus illuminatio mea, et salus mea: timebo? ℣. Gloria Patri. Exaudi.
Ps. The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom shall I fear? ℣. Glory, &c. Hear, &c.


The Church, in the Collect, teaches us to ask of God that good will which will render us worthy of seeing our Jesus, by its making us zealous in the service of his Divine Majesty.

Collect
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, fac nos tibi semper et devotam gerere voluntatem, et majestati tuæ sincero corde servire. Per Dominum.
O Almighty and eternal God, inspire thy servants with true devotion, and grant that we may serve thy divine Majesty with sincere hearts. Through, &c.

A commemoration of the Ascension is added, by the Collect of Ascension Day.


Epistle
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Peter the Apostle. I Ch. IV.
Dearly beloved: Be prudent, and watch in prayers. But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Using hospitality one towards another, without murmuring, As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak, as the words of God. If any man minister, let him do it, as of the power, which God administereth: that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ: to whom is glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.

Quote:The Prince of the Apostles—who presided over the holy assembly that awaited, in the Cenacle, the descent of the Divine Spirit—here addresses us who are in expectation of the same great Gift, and recommends us to practice fraternal charity. This virtue, says he, covereth a multitude of sins: could we make any better preparation for receiving the Holy Ghost? This Paraclete is coming that he may unite all men into one family; let us, then, put an end to all our dissensions, and prove ourselves to be members of the Brotherhood established by the preaching of the Gospel. During these days of our preparing to receive the promised Comforter, the Apostle bids us be prudent and watch in prayers. Let us follow his instruction; we must show our prudence by excluding everything that might be an obstacle to the Holy Ghost’s entering our hearts; and as to prayer, it is the means which will open our hearts to him, that he may make them his own forever.

The first of the two Alleluia-Versicles is taken from the Psalms, and celebrates the majesty of Jesus upon his royal throne; the second is formed of the words of this same Savior, promising us that he will return at the end of the world, when he comes to gather together his elect.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Regnavit Dominus super omnes gentes: Deus sedet super sedem sanctam suam.
℣. The Lord hath reigned over all nations: God sitteth upon his holy throne.

Alleluia.
Alleluia.

℣. Non vos relinquam orphanos: vado et venio ad vos, et gaudebit cor vestrum. Alleluia.
℣. I will not leave you orphans: I go, and I come to you, and your heart shall rejoice.


Gospel
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John. Ch. XV., XVI.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you; because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things I have told you, that when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.

Quote:Here we have our Jesus telling us the effects, which the coming of the Holy Ghost will produce in our souls. These words were first addressed to the Apostles, at the Last Supper. He told them that the Paraclete would give testimony of him, that is, would instruct them upon his Divinity, and teach them to be faithful to him, even so as to lay down their lives for him. A few moments before his Ascension, Jesus again spoke to them concerning the Paraclete, and called him: the Power from on high. Severe trials were awaiting these apostles; they would have to resist unto blood. Who would be their support—for, of themselves, they were but weak men? The Holy Ghost, who was to abide with them. By him they would conquer, and the Gospel would be preached to all nations. Now, this Spirit of the Father and Son is about to descend upon us; and what is the object of his visit, but that of arming us for the combat, and strengthening us against the attacks of our enemies? As soon as this holy Season of Easter is over, and we no longer have the celebration of its grand mysteries to enlighten and cheer us, we shall find ourselves at the old work of battling with the three enemies—the devil, who is angered by the graces we have received; the world, to which we must unfortunately return; and our passions, which, after this calm, will again awaken and molest us. If we be endued with the Power from on high, we shall have nothing to fear. Let us, therefore, ardently desire to receive him; let us prepare him a worthy reception; let us use every endeavor to make him abide with us; and we shall gain the victory, as did the Apostles.

The Offertory gives us the words of the Psalmist, describing the glories of Jesus’ Ascension. Holy Church wishes to impress the thought of this triumph well upon us, that our hearts may be fixed on the dear country where our Jesus awaits us.

Offertory
Ascendit Deus in jubilatione: et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia.
God ascended in triumph, and the Lord at the sound of the trumpet, alleluia.


While offering to God the bread and wine, which are soon to be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ—the Church, in the Secret, prays we may not only be made pure by our contact with these divine mysteries, but that we may also receive the vigor and energy which are so indispensably needed by every Christian.

Secret
Sacrificia nos, Domine, immaculata purificent: et mentibus nostris supernæ gratiæ dent vigorem. Per Dominum.
May these unspotted sacrifices purify us, O Lord, and invigorate our souls with heavenly grace. Through, &c.

A commemoration is then made of the Ascension, by the Secret of the Feast, given on Ascension Day.


The Preface is that of the Ascension.


The Communion-Anthem is formed of the words addressed by Jesus to his Eternal Father, after having instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, at the Last Supper. They show us what his wishes are in our regard.

Communion
Pater, cum essem cum eis, ego servaban eos quos dedisti mihi, alleluia: nunc autem ad te venio: non rogo ut tollas eos de mundo, sed ut serves eos a malo. Alleluia, alleluia.
Father, when I was with them, I kept those whom thou gavest me, alleluia: now I return to thee: I do not pray that thou mayest taken them out of this world, but that thou wouldst keep them from evil. Alleluia, alleluia.

Thanksgiving is the Christian’s first duty after receiving, in holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church, which appreciates so much more perfectly than we can ever do, the greatness of the favor thus bestowed on us, prays, in her Postcommunion, that we may ever be giving thanks to our divine Benefactor.

Postcommunion
Repleti, Domine, mineribus sacris: da quæsumus; ut in gratirum semper actione maneamus. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that we may be always thankful for the sacred gifts, with which we have been filled. Through, &c.


Let us offer to our triumphant Jesus the following beautiful Hymn,
which is used by the Church at the Matins of the Feast of the Ascension, and during the Octave.
It forcibly expresses the mystery, and shows us how fervently we ought to celebrate it.

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Hymn

Æterne rex altissime,
Redemptor et fidelium,
Cui mors perempta detulit
Summæ triumphum gloriæ.


O eternal and sovereign King, and Redeemer of the Faithful! thy victory over death won for thee a triumph of highest glory.


ascendis orbes siderum,
Quo te vocabat cœlitus
Collate, non humanitus,
Rerum potestas omnium.


Thou ascendest above the starry world, there to exercise thy spureme power over all creatures—a power conferred by heaven, not by man.


Ut trina rerum machina
Cœlestium, terrestrium
Et inferorum condita,
Flectat genu jam subdita.


Now the triple kingdom of heaven, earth, and hell, are subject to thee; and all things in them bow the knee in homage to thy power.


Tremunt videntes Angeli
Versam vicem mortalium:
Peccat caro, mundat caro,
Regnat Deus Dei caro.


The Angels gaze with wonder on the change wrought in mankind:—it was flesh that sinned, and now Flesh taketh all sin away, and the God that reigns is the God made flesh.


Sis ipse nostrum gaudium,
Manens Olympo præmium,
Mundi regis qui fabricam,
Mundana vincens gaudia.


Be thou our Joy, who awaitest us to be our reward in heaven. Thou art the Ruler of this world; our joy that surpasses all earthly joys.


Hinc te precantes quæsumus,
Ignosce culpis omnibus,
Et corda sursum subleva
Ad te superna gratia.


Therefore do we beseech thee, in humble prayer, that thou pardon all our sins, and, by thy heavenly grace, lift up our hearts to the things that are above.


Ut cum repente cœperis
Clarere nube judicis,
Pœnas repellas debitas,
Reddas coronas perditas.


That when thou appearest suddenly on a bright cloud as our Judge, thou mayest forgive us the punishment we deserve, and restore to us the crown we had lost.


Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui victor in cœlum redis,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.
Amen. Glory be to thee,

O Jesus, who ascendest in triumph to heaven! and to the Father, and to the Spirit of love, for everlasting ages. Amen.


We may close the day with this Prayer, taken from the Mozarabic Breviary.

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Prayer

Salvator noster, et Domine, qui ascendens in cœlos, intuentium clarificatus apparere dignatus es oculis: dum ita ut ascenderas, venturum ad judicium polliceris; fac nos hodiernæ Ascensionis tuæ festum pura cordium devotione suscipere: ut ita in te semper ad melius vita nostra ascendendo proficiat, qualiter ad judicium venientem inconfusibili contuitu te semper visionis aspiciat. Amen.

O Jesus, our Savior and Lord! who, when ascending into heaven, didst deign to show thy glory to them that gazed upon thee, promising them, that as thou ascendest, so wouldst thou come to the Judgment; grant that we may welcome, with true devotion of heart, this day’s Feast of thine Ascension: that thus our lives, by continually ascending to what is more holy, may so advance in thy service, as that our eyes may look upon thee with a confiding look, when thou comest to judge us. Amen.
On Human Respect

[Preached on the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension]

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Those who yield to human respect, imitate the conduct of Pilate,
who, through the apprehension of losing the friendship of Caesar, condemned Jesus Christ to death.

"Whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth a service to God."--John xvi. 2.

In exhorting his disciples to be faithful to him under the persecution which they were to endure, the Saviour said: "Yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth a service to God." Thus, the enemies of the faith believed that in putting Christians to death they did a service to God. It is thus that many Christians of the present day act. They kill their own souls by losing the grace of God through human respect and to please worldly friends. Oh! how many souls has human respect that great enemy of our salvation sent to hell! I shall speak on this subject today, that, if you wish to serve God and save your souls, you may guard as much as possible against human respect. In the first point, I will show the importance of not being influenced by human respect; and in the second, I will point out the means by which this vice may be overcome.


First Point - On the importance of not being influenced by human respect

1. "Woe to the world because of scandals." (Matt. xviii. 7.) Jesus Christ has said, that through the scandals of the wicked, many souls fall into hell. But how is it possible to live in the midst of the world, and not to take scandal? This is impossible. To avoid taking scandal, St. Paul says, we should leave this world. "Otherwise you must needs go out of this world." ( I Cor. v. 10.) But it is in our power to avoid familiarity with scandalous sinners. Hence the Apostle adds: "But now I have written to you not to keep company .... with such an one, not as much as to eat." (Ibid. v. 11.) We should beware of contracting intimacy with such sinners; for, should we be united with them in the bonds of friendship, we shall feel an unwillingness to oppose their bad practices and bad counsels. Thus, through human respect and the fear of contradicting them, we will imitate their example, and lose the friendship of God.

2. Such lovers of the world not only glory in their own iniquities ("They rejoice in most wicked things." Prov. ii. 14); but, what is worse, they wish to have companions, and ridicule all who endeavour to live like true Christians and to avoid the dangers of offending God. This is a sin which is very displeasing to God, and which he forbids in a particular manner. " Despise not a man that turneth away from sin, nor reproach him therewith." (Eccl. viii. 6.) Despise not those who keep at a distance from sin, and seek not to draw them to evil by your reproaches and irregularities. The Lord declares, that, for those who throw ridicule on the virtuous, chastisements are prepared in this and in the next life. "Judgments are prepared for scorners, and striking hammers for the bodies of fools." (Prov. xix. 29.) They mock the servants of God, and he shall mock them for all eternity. "But the Lord shall laugh them to scorn. And they shall fall after this without honour, and be a reproach among the dead forever." (Wis. iv. 18.) They endeavour to make the saints contemptible in the eyes of the world, and God shall make them die without honour, and shall send them to hell to suffer eternal ignominy among the damned.

3. Not only to offend God, but also to endeavour to make others offend Him, is truly an enormous excess of wickedness. This execrable intention arises from a conviction that there are many weak and pusillanimous souls, who, to escape derision and contempt, abandon the practice of virtue, and give themselves up to a life of sin. After his conversion to God, St. Augustine wept for having associated with those ministers of Lucifer, and confessed, that he felt ashamed not to be as wicked and as shameless as they were. "Pudebat me," says the saint, "esse pudentem." How many, to avoid the scoffs of wicked friends, have been induced to imitate their wickedness! "Behold the saint," these impious scoffers will say; "get me a piece of his garment; I will preserve it as a relic. Why does he not become a monk?" How many also when they receive an insult, resolve to take revenge, not so much through passion, as to escape the reputation of being cowards! How many are there who, after having inadvertently given expression to a scandalous maxim, neglect to retract it (as they are bound to do), through fear of losing the esteem of others! How many, because they are afraid of forfeiting the favour of a friend, sell their souls to the devil! They imitate the conduct of Pilate, who, through the apprehension of losing the friendship of Caesar, condemned Jesus Christ to death.

4. Be attentive. Brethren, if we wish to save our souls, we must overcome human respect, and bear the little confusion which may arise from the scoffs of the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ. "For there is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that bringeth glory and grace." (Eccl. iv. 25.) If we do not suffer this confusion with patience, it will lead us into the pit of sin; but if we submit to it for God's sake, it will obtain for us the divine grace here, and great glory hereafter. "As," says St. Gregory, "bashfulness is laudable in evil, so it is reprehensible in good." (Hom. x. in Ezech.)

5. But some of you will say: I attend to my own affairs; I wish to save my soul; why then should I be persecuted? But there is no remedy; it is impossible to serve God, and not be persecuted. "The wicked loathe them that are in the right way." (Prov. xxix. 27.) Sinners cannot bear the sight of the man who lives according to the Gospel, because his life is a continual censure on their disorderly conduct; and therefore they say: "Let us lie in wait for the just; because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law." (Wis. ii. 12.) The proud man, who seeks revenge for every insult which he receives, would wish that all should avenge the offences that may be offered to him. The avaricious, who grow rich by injustice, wish that all should imitate their fraudulent practices. The drunkard wishes to see others indulge like himself in intoxication. The immoral, who boast of their impurities, and can scarcely utter a word which does not savour of obscenity, desire that all should act and speak as they do; and those who do not imitate their conduct, they regard as mean, clownish, and intractable as men without honour and education. "They are of the world, therefore of the world they speak." (1 John iv. 5.) Worldlings can speak no other language than that of the world. Oh! how great is their poverty and blindness! She has blinded them, and therefore they speak so profanely. "These things they thought, and were deceived; for their own malice blinded them." (Wis. ii. 21.)

6. But I say again, that there is no remedy. All, as St. Paul says, who wish to live in union with Jesus Christ must be persecuted by the world. "And all that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. iii. 12.) All the saints have been persecuted. You say: I do not injure any one; why then am I not left in peace? What evil have the saints, and particularly the martyrs, done? They were full of charity; they loved all, and laboured to do good to all; and how have they been treated by the world? They have been flayed alive; they have been tortured with red-hot plates of iron; and have been put to death in the most cruel manner. And whom has Jesus Christ the saint of saints injured? He consoled all; He healed all. "Virtue went out from Him, and healed all." (Luke vi. 19.) And how has the world treated Him? It has persecuted Him, so as to make Him die through pain on the infamous gibbet of the cross.

7. This happens because the maxims of the world are diametrically opposed to the maxims of Jesus Christ. What the world esteems, Jesus Christ regards as folly. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (1 Cor. iii. 19.) And what is foolish in the eyes of the world--that is, crosses, sickness, contempt, and ignominies--Jesus Christ holds in great estimation. "For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness." (1 Cor. i. IS.) How, says St. Cyprian, can a man think himself to be a Christian, when he is afraid to be a Christian? "Christianum se putat si Christianum esse veretur?" (Ser. v. de Lapsis.) If we are Christians, let us show that we are Christians in name and in truth; for, if we are ashamed of Jesus Christ, He will be ashamed of us, and cannot give us a place on His right hand on the last day. "For he that shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man shall be ashamed when He shall come in His majesty." (Luke ix. 26.) On the day of judgment He shall say: You have been ashamed of Me on earth: I am now ashamed to see you with Me in Paradise. Begone, accursed souls; go into hell to meet your companions, who have been ashamed of Me. But mark the words "he that shall be ashamed of Me and of My words." St. Augustine says, that some are ashamed to deny Jesus Christ, but do not blush to deny the maxims of Jesus Christ. " Erubescunt negare Christum, et non erubescunt negare verba Christi." (Serm. xlviii.) But you may tell me, that, if you say you cannot do such an act, because it is contrary to the Gospel, your friends will turn you into ridicule, and will call you a hypocrite. Then, says St. John Chrysostom, you will not suffer to be treated with derision by a companion, and you are content to be hated by God! "Non vis a conserve derideri, sed odio haberi a Deo tuo?" (Hom. xci. in Act. xix.)

8. The Apostle, who gloried in being a follower of Christ, said: "The world is crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. vi. 14.) As I am a person crucified to the world an object of its scoffs and injustice, so the world is to me an object of contempt and abomination. It is necessary to be convinced, that if we do not trample on the world, the world will trample on our souls. But what is the world and all its goods? "All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life." (1 John ii. 16.) To what are all the goods of this earth reduced? To riches, which are but dung; to honours, which are only smoke; and to carnal pleasures. But what shall all these profit us, if we lose our souls? " "What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26.)

9. He that loves God and wishes to save his soul must despise the world and all human respect; and to do this, everyone must offer violence to himself. St. Mary Magdalene had to do great violence to herself, in order to overcome human respect and the murmurings and scoffs of the world, when, in the presence of so many persons, she cast herself at the feet of Jesus Christ, to wash them with her tears, and dry them with her hair. But she thus became a saint, and merited from Jesus Christ pardon of her sins, and praise for her great love. "Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much." (Luke vii. 47.) One day, as St. Francis Borgia carried to certain prisoners a vessel of broth under his cloak, he met his son mounted on a fine horse, and accompanied by certain noblemen. The saint felt ashamed to show what he carried under his cloak. But what did he do in order to conquer human respect? He took the vessel of broth, placed it on his head, and thus showed his contempt for the world. Jesus Christ, our Head and Master, when nailed to the cross, was mocked by the soldiers. "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." (Matt, xxvii. 40.) He was mocked by the priests, saying: "He saved others; himself he cannot save." (Ibid., v. 42.) But He remained firm on the cross; he cheerfully died upon it, and thus conquered the world.

10. "I give thanks to God," says St. Jerome, "that I am worthy to be hated by the world." (Epis. ad Asellam.) The saint returns thanks to God for having made him worthy of the hatred of the world. Jesus Christ pronounced his disciples blessed when they should be hated by men. "Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you." (Luke vi. 22.) Christians, let us rejoice; for, if worldlings curse and upbraid us, God at the same time praises and blesses us. "They will curse, and thou wilt bless." (Ps. cviii. 28.) Is it not enough for us to be praised by God, to be praised by the queen of heaven, by all the angels, by all the saints, and by all just men? Let worldlings say what they wish; but let us continue to please God, who will give us, in the next life, a reward proportioned to the violence we shall have done to ourselves in despising the contradictions of men. Each of you should figure to himself, that there is no one in the world but himself and God. When the wicked treat us with contempt, let us recommend to God these blind and miserable men, who run in the road to perdition; and let us thank the Lord for giving to us the light which he refuses to them. Let us continue in our own way: to obtain all, it is necessary to conquer all.


Second Point - On the means of overcoming human respect.

11. To overcome human respect, it is necessary to fix in our hearts the holy resolution of preferring the grace of God to all the goods and favours of this world, and to say with St. Paul: "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers . . . . . nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God." (Rom. viii. 38, 39.) Jesus Christ exhorts us not to be afraid of those who can take away the life of the body; but to fear him only who can condemn the soul and body to hell. "And fear you not them that kill the body; but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body into hell." (Matt, x. 28.) We wish either to follow God or the world; if we wish to follow God we must give up the world. "How long do you halt between two sides?" said Elias to the people. "If the Lord be God, follow Him." (3 Kings xviii. 21.) You cannot serve God and the world. He that seeks to please men cannot please God. "If," says the Apostle, "I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." (Gal. i. 10.)

12. The true servants of God rejoice to see themselves despised and maltreated for the sake of Jesus Christ. The holy apostles "went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus." (Acts v. 41.) Moses could have prevented the anger of Pharaoh by not contradicting the current report that he was the son of Pharaoh's daughter. But he denied that he was her son, preferring, as St. Paul says, the opprobrium of Christ to all the riches of the world. "Choosing rather to be afflicted with the people of God; . .. .esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of the Egyptians." (Heb. xi. 25, 26.)

13. Wicked friends come to you and say: What extravagances are those in which you indulge? Why do you not act like others? Say to them in answer: My conduct is not opposed to that of all men; there are others who lead a holy life. They are indeed few; but I will follow their example; for the Gospel says: "Many are called, but few are chosen." (Matt. xx. 16.) "If," says St. John Climacus, "you wish to be saved with the few, live like the few." But, they will add, do you not see that all murmur against you, and condemn your manner of living? Let your answer be: It is enough for me that God does not censure my conduct. Is it not better to obey God than to obey men? Such was the answer of St. Peter and St. John to the Jewish priests: "If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye." (Acts iv. 19.) If they ask you how can you bear an insult? or how, after submitting to it, can you appear among your equals? answer them by saying that you are a Christian, and that it is enough for you to appear well in the eyes of God. Such should be your answer to all those satellites of Satan: you must despise all their maxims and reproaches. And when it is necessary to reprove those who make little of God's law, you must take courage and correct them publicly. "Them that sin, reprove before all." (1 Tim. v. 20.) And when there is question of the divine honour, we should not be frightened by the dignity of the man who offends God; let us say to him openly: This is sinful; it cannot be done. Let us imitate the Baptist, who reproved King Herod for living with his brother's wife, and said to him: "It is not lawful for thee to have her." (Matt. xiv. 4.) Men indeed shall regard us as fools, and turn us into derision ; but, on the day of judgment they shall acknowledge that they have been foolish, and we shall have the glory of being numbered among the saints. They shall say: "These are they whom we had sometime in derision .... We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints." (Wis. v. 3, 4, 5.)
Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension


May 12, 2013



May 17, 2015



May 8, 2016




May 28, 2017 - "I Seek Thy Face, O Lord!" - in OH




May 13, 2018




June 2, 2019 - "And He Upbraided Them ... " in PA