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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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AT the Introit pray with the priest for brotherly love and for protection against our enemies within and without: God in his holy place; God, who maketh men of one mind to dwell in a house: he shall give power and strenghth to his people. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let them that hate him flee from before His face. (Ps. lxvii.) Glory, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Almighty, everlasting God, who, in the abundance of Thy loving kindness, dost exceed both the merits and desires of Thy suppliants; pour down upon us Thy mercy, that thou mayest forgive those things of which our conscience is afraid, and grant us those things which our prayer ventures not to ask. Thro.

EPISTLE. (i Cor. xv. i — 10.) Brethren, I make known unto you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand: by which also you are saved: if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen by Cephas, and after that by the eleven. Then was he seen by more than five hundred brethren at once, of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God; but by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace in me hath not been void.

I. St. Paul warns the Corinthians against those who denied the Resurrection of Christ and exhorts them to persevere in the faith which they have received, and to live in accordance with the same. Learn from this to persevere firmly in the one, only saving Catholic faith, which is the same that Paul preached.

II. In this epistle to the Corinthians St. Paul gives us a beautiful example of humility. Because of the sins he had committed before his conversion, he calls himself one born out of due time, the least of the apostles, and not worthy of being called an apostle, although he had labored much in the service of Christ. He ascribes it to God's grace that he was what he was. Thus speaks the truly humble man : he sees in himself nothing but weakness, sin, and evil, and therefore despises himself and is therefore willing to be despised by others. The good which he professes or practices, he ascribes to God, to whom he refers all the honor. Endeavor, too, O Christian soul, to attain such humility. You have far more reason to do so than had St. Paul, because of the sins which you have committed since your baptism, the graces which you have abused, and the inactive, useless life you have led.

ASPIRATION. Banish from me, O most loving Saviour, the spirit of pride, and grant me the necessary grace of humility. Let me realize that of myself I can do nothing, and that all my power to effect any good, comes from Thee alone who alone workest in us to will and to accomplish.

GOSPEL. (Mark vii. 31 — 37.) At that time, Jesus going out of the coast of Tyre, came by Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coast of Decapolis. And they bring to him one deaf and dumb, and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue: and looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him, Ephpheta, which is. Be thou opened: and immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right. And he charged them that they should tell no man; but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it, and so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well: he hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Whom may we understand by the deaf and dumb man?

Those who desire neither to hear nor to speak of things concerning salvation.

Why did Christ take the deaf and dumb man aside?

To teach us that he who wishes to live piously and be comforted, must avoid the noisy world, and dangerous society, and love solitude, for there God speaks to the heart. (Osee ii. 14.)

Why did Christ forbid them to mention this miracle?

That we might learn to fly from the praise of vain and fickle men.

What do we learn from those who brought the deaf and dumb man to Jesus, and notwithstanding tin- prohibition, made known the miracle?

That in want and sickness we should kindly assist our neighbor, and not neglect to announce and praise the works of (rod, for God works His miracles, that His goodness and omnipotence may be known and honored.

SUPPLICATION. O Lord Jesus, who during Thy life on earth didst cure the sick and the infirm, open
my ears that they may listen to Thy will, and loosen my tongue that I may honor and announce Thy works. Take away from me, O most beautiful Jesus, the desire for human praise, that I may not be led to reveal my good works, and thus lose the reward of my Heavenly Father. (Matt. vi. 1.)

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What are ceremonies?

RELIGIOUS Ceremonies are certain forms and usages, prescribed for divine service, for the increase of devotion, and the edification of our fellow-men; they represent externally and visibly the interior feelings of man.

Why do we make use of ceremonies in our service?

That we may serve God not only inwardly with the soul, but outwardly with the body by external devotion; that we may keep our attention fixed, increase our devotion, and edify others; that by these external things we may be raised to the contemplation of divine, inward things. (Trid. Sess. 22.)

Are ceremonies founded on Scripture?

They are; for besides those which Christ used, as related in this day's gospel, in regard to the deaf and dumb man, He has also made use of other different ceremonies: as, when He blessed bread and fishes; (Matt. xv. 36.) when He spread clay upon the eyes of a blind man; (John ix. 6.) when He prayed on bended knees; (Luke xxii. 41.) when He fell upon His face to pray; (Matt. xxvi. 39.) when He breathed upon His disciples, imparting to them the Holy Ghost; (John xx. 22.) and finally when He blessed them with uplifted hands before ascending into heaven. (Luke xxiv. 50.) Likewise in the Old Law various ceremonies were prescribed for the Jews, of which indeed in the New Law the greater number have been abolished ; others, however, have been retained, and new ones added.

If, therefore, the enemies of the Church contend that ceremonies are superfluous, since Christ Himself reproached the Jews for their ceremonial observances, and said: God must be adored inspirit and in truth, we may, without mentioning that Christ Himself made use of certain ceremonies, answer, that He did not find fault with their use, but only with the intention of the Jews. They observed every ceremony most scrupulously, without at the same time entertaining pious sentiments in the heart, and whilst they dared not under any circumstances omit even the least ceremony, they scrupled not to oppress and defraud their neighbor. Therefore Christ says: God must be adored in spirit and in truth, that is, in the innermost heart, and not only in external appearances. — Do not, therefore, let the objections, nor the scoffs and sneers of the enemies of our Church confound you, but seek to know the spirit and meaning of each ceremony, and impress them on your heart, and then make use of them to inflame your piety, to glorify God, and to edify your neighbor.

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THERE is no member of the body more dangerous and pernicious than the tongue. The tongue, says the Apostle St. James, is indeed a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how small afire what a great wood it kindleth? And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, which defileth the whole body, and inflameth the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell. (James iii. 5. 6.) The tongue no man can tame: an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison. By it we bless God and the Father; and by it we curse men, who are made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing, (ibid. iii. 8—10.) There is no country, no city, scarcely a house in which evil tongues do not cause quarrel and strife, discord and enmity, jealousy and slander , seduction and debauchery. An impious tongue reviles God and His saints, corrupts the divine word, causes heresy and chism, makes one intemperate, unchaste, envious, and malevolent; in a word, it is according to the apostle a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue of the serpent seduced our first parents, and brought misery and death into the world. (Gen. iii.) The tongue of Judas betrayed Jesus. (Matt. xxvi. 49.)

And what is the chief cause of war among princes, revolts among nations, if it is not the tongue of ambitious, restless men, who seek their fortune in war and revolution? How many, in fine, have plunged themselves into the greatest misery by means of their unguarded tongue? How can we secure ourselves against this dangerous, domestic enemy? Only by being slow to speak according to the advice of St. James, (i. 19.) to speak very few, sensible, and well considered word. In this way we will not offend, but will become perfect. (James iii. 2.) As this cannot happen without a special grace of God, we must according to the advice of St. Augustine beg divine assistance, in the following or
similar words:

ASPIRATION. O Lord, set a watch before my mouth, and a door round about my lips, that I may not fall and my tongue destroy me. (Ps. cxl. 3.)
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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With the Greeks, this Sunday—their eleventh of Saint Matthew—is called The Kings Parable, who calls his servants to account. In the Western Church, it has gone under the name of Sunday of the Deaf and Dumb, ever since the Gospel of the Pharisee and Publican has been assigned to the tenth. Today’s Mass, as we now have it, still gives evidence as to what was its ancient arrangement. Our commentary on today’s liturgy will show us this very plainly.

In those years when Easter falls nearest to the 21st of March, the Books of Kings are continued as lessons of Matins up to, but never beyond, this Sunday. The sickness of the good king Ezechias, and the miraculous cure he obtained by his prayers and tears are then the subject of the first Lessons of the Night Office.


The learned and pious Abbot Rupert—writing on this Sunday’s Mass previous to the change made in the order of the Gospel Lessons—thus explains the Church’s reason for selecting the following Introit: “The Publican, in the Gospel, accuses himself, saying: I am not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven! St. Paul, in the Epistle, does in like manner, and says: I am the least of the Apostles, who am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. As, then, this Humility, which is set before us that we may practice it, is the guardian of the union between the servants of God, because if keeps them from being puffed up one against the other—it is most appropriate that we should first sing the Introit, which tells us that God maketh men, in His house, abide together as though they were but one soul.”

Deus in loco sancto suo: Deus, qui inhabitare facit unanimes in domo: ipse dabit virtutem et fortitudinem plebi suæ.
God in his sanctuary: God, who maketh brethren abide together in the house: he will give might and strength to his people.

Ps. Exsurgat Deus, et dissipentur inimici ejus: et fugiant, qui oderunt eum, a facie ejus. Gloria Patri. Deus.
Ps. Let god arise, and his enemies shall be dispersed; and let those that hate him, flee before his face. Glory, &c. God.

The Collect, which follows, is most touching, when we see it in the light of the Gospel which, originally, was fixed for this Sunday. Thou that connection has now been broken, yet the appropriateness is still very striking; for the Epistle, as Abbot Rupert was just telling us, continues to urge us to Humility, by proposing to us the example of St. Paul; the Humility of the repentant Publican has been anticipated. Our Mother the Church is all emotion at beholding this Publican—this object of contempt to the Jew—striking his breast, and scarce able to put his sorrow into words: she, with motherly tenderness, comes and takes up his faltering prayer, and gives it her own eloquence. Nothing could exceed the delicate way in which she asks of the Omnipotent, that in his infinite mercy, he would restore peace to troubled consciences, by pardoning them their sins, and granting them what they, poor sinners, are too afraid to presume to ask for.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuæ et merita supplicum excedis et vota: effunde super nos misericordiam tuam; ut dimittas quæ conscientia metuit, et adjicias quod oratio non præsumit. Per Dominum.
O almighty and eternal God, who, by the abundance of thy goodness, exceedest both the merits and the requests of thy suppliants: pour forth thy mercy upon us: that thou mayst pardon what our conscience fears, and mayst grant what our prayer presumes not to ask. Through, &c.

The other Collects, as in the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Corinthians.  1 Ch. xv.

Brethren: I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures: And that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void.

Quote:Last Sunday, the Publican reminded us of the Humility which should exist in the sinner: today, the Doctor of the Gentiles shows us, in the Epistle, by his own example, that this virtue is quite as suitable to a man who, though now justified, never forgets how, in the past, he offended his Maker. The sins of the now just man, even though long since forgiven, are always before him; having a tendency to be his own accuser, he finds, in the fact that God has pardoned and forgotten his sins, nothing but an additional motive for his own never ceasing to remember them. The heavenly favors, which may sometimes come upon him, as a recompense for the sincerity of his repentence—the manifestation of the secrets of eternal Wisdom may be accorded him—he may, perhaps, be permitted to enter into the powers of the Lord, and there get a keen insight into the rights of infinite justice—yet all these favors do but help him to see, more clearly, the enormity of those voluntary sins of his, which added their own malice to the original stains he was born with. As he progresses in sanctity, Humility becomes to him something more than a satisfaction paid to justice and truth, by a mind enlightened from on high—in proportion as he lives with God in closer and closer union and, by contemplation, goes up higher in light and love—divine charity, which is ever pressing him on every side, turns the very remembrance of his past sins into what will make that Charity more ardent. That burning Charity of his fathoms the deep abyss, whence grace has drawn him; and then she darts upwards, from those depths of hell, more vehement, more imperious, more active than ever. Gratitude for the priceless riches he now possesses by the munificence of his divine Benefactor, does not satisfy that sinner of former days—the avowal of his past miseries must and does escape from his enraptured soul as a hymn to his God.

Like Augustine, who was but imitating Paul—”he glorifies the just and the good God, by publishing both the good he has received and the bad of his own acts—and this, in order to win over to the One sole object of his praise and his love the minds and hearts of all who hear him.” This illustrious convert of Monica and Ambrose headed the magnificent book of his Confessions with these words of the 47th Psalm, which so admirably express the object he proposed to himself, by thus telling all about himself: Great art thou, O Lord, and exceedingly to be praised: Great is thy power, and of thy wisdom there is no number. “And yet,” says the Saint, “man wishes to praise thee—man, a mere speck of thy creation, who carries about him his own mortality, and the testimony of his sin, and the testimony that thou resistest the proud; and yet, this man wishes to praise thee—man, a mere speck of thy creation. Thou excitest him to take delight in praising thee. Receive, then, the homage which is offered thee by the tongue that was formed for the purpose of praising thee. Let my flesh and all my bones that have been healed by Thee, cry out: Who, O Lord, is like unto thee? Let my soul praise thee, that it may love thee; and that she may praise thee, let her confess thy mercies. I wish now to go over, in my mind, all my long wanderings, and I will confess the things which fill me with shame, and will make of them a sacrifice of joy. Not that I love my sins, but it is that I may love thee, O my God, that I recall them to mind; it is out of love of thy love, that I now recur to those bitter things, that I may taste thy delights, O Sweetness that never deceives! Blissful Sweetness, that has no dangers, O thou that collectest all my powers, and recallest them from the painful scattering into which they had been thrown by my separation from Thee, O Thou one center of all being! What am I to myself, when I have not Thee, but a guide that leads me to the abyss? Oh, what am I, when all is well with me, but a little one that is sucking in the milk which thou providest, or enjoying Thee, the Food that knows not corruption? And what manner of man is any man, for he is but a man? Let them that are strong and mighty—them that have not, as yet, had the happiness of being laid low and cast down—let them laugh at me! I am a weak man and poor, and I give thee praise. For that I need neither voice nor words; the cries of the thought are what thou hearest. For when I am wicked, my being displeased with myself is a real giving thee praise; but when I am pious, my not attributing it to myself is again a real giving thee praise; for if Thou, O Lord, bless the just man, it is because thou hadst first justified him when he was ungodly.

By the grace of God, I am what I am; the just man should make this language of the Apostle be his own. And when this fundamental truth is thoroughly impressed upon his soul, then may he fearlessly add, with him: His grace in me math not been void. For Humility is based upon Truth, as we said last Sunday; and as it would be contrary to truth were one to refer to man what man has from God, so likewise would it be an injury to truth not to recognize, as the Saints did, the works of grace where God has wrought them. In the former case, justice—in the latter, gratitude would be offended, as well as truth. Now, Humility, whose direct aim is to avoid these unjust infringements on the glory due to God, by repressing the risings of pride—Humility is also the earnest prompter of gratitude, so truly so, indeed, that a proud man can never be a grateful one; or, to say it in other words, the greatest enemy to the generous virtue of gratitude is pride.

It is quite true that it is good and prudent and, generally speaking, necessary, for souls to dwell on the consideration of their faults rather than upon the favors they have received from God, and this more especially in the first beginning of their conversion—still, it is never lawful for any man to forget that, besides being grieved for his past sins and being vigilant as to present temptations, he has also the bounden duty of ceaselessly thanking the divine Benefactor, who gave him both the grace of a change of life, and the subsequent progress in virtue. When a Christian cannot see a grace, or any good, in himself without having immediately to struggle against self-complacency and a tendency to prefer himself to others—he must not be troubled, of course, for the sin of pride is not in the evil suggestions which may arise within him, but in the consent which is yielded to such suggestions; and yet, this weakness which accompanies the thinking on God’s graces is not without its dangers in the spiritual life; and the Christian, who is resolved on making any advance in perfection, must sweetly aim at getting altogether rid of such weakness. Aided by grace, he will gradually find the eye of his soul growing stronger, by the infirmity of nature getting cured, and by the removal of the involuntary remnants of sin, which, as so many vicious humors, falsify the beautiful light of God’s gifts, or even sometimes distort it altogether by an unhappy refraction. If thine eye be single, says our Lord, thy whole body will be lightsome, having no part of darkness; the whole shall be lightsome—the light shall enlighten thee completely and surely, because it will come to thee without any vapory interference or deviation.

If the eye be simple!—yes, it is holy simplicity, daughter and inseparable companion of humility, that will show us how these two things coexist, and mutually tell on each other, when a soul is what it should be—the close deliberate consideration of the favors she has received from heaven, and the clear consciousness of her own miseries. This admirable simplicity will lead us to the school of the Scriptures and the Saints, there to teach us that the soul’s being praised in the Lord, and our glorying in the Lord, is really a giving praise and glory to God himself. When our Lady declared, in her Canticle, that all generations would call her blessed, the divine enthusiasm which was inspiring her was quite as fully the ecstasy of her humility as it was that of her love. The lives of God’s best servants are at ever turn showing us these sublime transports, wherein they make the Magnificat of their Queen become their own hymn of praise to that God, magnifying him for all the great things which he, the mighty One, vouchsafed to do through their instrumentality. When St. Paul—after having expressed the low estimation he had of himself, compared with other Apostles, then adds that grace had not been a failure in him, and that he had even labored more abundantly than all of them, we are not to suppose that he has changed his tone, or that the Holy Spirit, who guides him, now wishes to recall his previous words, no: it is one and the same conviction, one and the same desire, which inspire these words, apparently so different and so contrary: the conviction and desire that God must not, and shall not, be disappointed in his gifts, either by the self-appropriation of pride, or by the silence of ingratitude.

We have purposely limited our reflections to the truths suggested by the concluding lines of our Epistle, because they complete what we had to say on Humility, that indispensable virtue, on which depends not only all progress, but even all surety, in the Christian life. What St. Paul here says regarding the Resurrection of our Lord, which is the basis of the apostolic preaching and of the faith of mankind, is a subject of quite equal importance; but this grand doctrine—which, through the Paschal solemnity, gives to the Liturgical Year its both pivot and center—has been treated of, during the Eastern Octave, with all the fullness it deserved.

The Gradual, according to some of our most esteemed Liturgists, is offered us as the thanksgiving of the humble, who are healed by God, according to the hope they had put in him.

In Deo speravit cor meum, et adjutus sum: et refloruit caro mea: et ex voluntate mea confitebor illi.
My heart trusted in God, and I was relieved; and my body hath recovered its strength: and I will praise him, with my whole heart.

℣. Ad te, Domine, clamavi: Deus meus, ne sileas: ne discedas a me.
℣. To thee, O Lord, have I cried out: be not silent, O my God: nor depart from me.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Exsultate Deo, adjutori nostro: jubilate Deo Jacob, sumite psalmum jucundum cum cithara. Alleluia.
℣. Exult in God, our helper: joyfully sing to the God of Jacob: sing a hymn of joy upon the harp. Alleluia.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Mark.  Ch. vi.

At that time: Jesus going out of the coasts of Tyre, he came by Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring to him one deaf and dumb; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue: And looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right. And he charged them that they should tell no man. But the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. And so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well; he hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Quote:Jesus is no longer in Judea; the names of the places, mentioned in the beginning of today’s Gospel, tell us very clearly that the Gentile world has become the scene of the divine operations for man’s salvation. What manner of man, then, is this who is led to the Savior, and the sight of whose miseries make the Incarnate Word heave a sigh? And what is the meaning of the extraordinary circumstances which produce the cure? A single word of Jesus could have done it all, and his power would have shone forth all the more brightly. But the miracle, which is here related, contains a great mystery; and the Man-God, who aims mainly at giving us a lesson by this his mercy, makes the exercise of his power subordinate to the teaching which he desires to convey to us.

The holy Fathers tell us that this man represents the entire human race, exclusive of the Jewish people. Abandoned for four thousand years in the sides, that is, in the countries, of the North, where the prince of this world was ruling as absolute master, it has been experiencing the terrible effects of the seeming forgetfulness on the part of its Creator and Father, which was the consequence of original sin. Satan—whose perfidious craftiness has caused man to be driven out of Paradise—has made him his own prey, and nothing could exceed the artifice he has employed for keeping him in his grasp. Wisely oppressing his slave, he adopted the plan of making him deaf and dumb, for this would hold him faster than chains of adamant could ever do. Dumb, he could not ask God to deliver him; deaf, he could not hear the divine voice; and thus, the two ways for obtaining his liberty were shut against him. The adversary of God and man—Satan—he may boast of his tyranny. The grandest of all God’s creations looks like a failure; the human race, in all its branches and in all nations, seems ruined; for even that people whom God had chosen for his own, and was to be faithful to Him when every other had gone astray, even that has made no other use of its privileges than the denying its Lord and its King, more cruelly than all the rest of mankind!

What, then! is the Bride, whom the Son of God came to seek upon the earth—is the society of saints—to be limited to those few who declared themselves his disciples during the years of his mortal life? Not so: the zeal of the newly formed Church, and the ineffable goodness of God, produced a far grander result. Driven from Jerusalem, as her divine Spouse had been, the Church met the poor captive of Satan beyond the boundaries of Judea; she would fain bring him into the kingdom of God; and through the apostles and their disciples, she brings him to Jesus, beseeching Him to lay his divine hand upon him. No human power could effect his cure. He, deafened by the noise of his passions, it is only in a confused way that he can hear even the voice of his own conscience; and as to the sounds of tradition, or the speakings of the prophets, they are to him but as an echo, very distant and faint. Worst of all, his hearing is gone, that most precious of our senses while on earth—so likewise is gone the power of making good his losses, for as the Apostle teaches, the one thing that could save him is Faith, and Faith cometh by hearing, and his hearing is dead.

Our Jesus groans when they have brought this poor creature before him. He was grieved at seeing the cruelties the enemy had inflicted on this his own privileged being, this beautiful work, of which He himself had served as model and type to the Blessed Trinity, at the beginning of the world. Raising up to heaven those eyes of his sacred Humanity—those eyes, whose language has so much resistless power—he sees the Eternal Father acquiescing to the intentions of his own merciful compassion. Then, resuming the exercise of that creative omnipotence, which, in the beginning, had made all things to be very good, and all his works be perfect, he, as God and as the Word, utters the mighty word of restoration: Ephpheta! Be thou opened! Nothingness, or rather (in this instance) Ruin, which is worse than nothingness, obey the well-known voice; the ears of the poor sufferer are opened, joyfully opened to the teachings which his delighted Mother the Church pours into them. She is all the gladder, because it was her prayers that won this deliverance; and he, in whom Faith comes now through his ears making him a changed being—he, finding that his tongue can speak, speaks, or rather, sings out a canticle of praise to his God—a canticle none the less well sung because it is the first time he has been able to be its chanter.

And yet, as we were observing, this merciful Lord of ours, by this cure, aims not so much at showing the power of his divine word, as at giving a glorious teaching to his followers; he wishes to reveal to them, under certain visible symbols, the invisible realities produced by his grace, in the secret of the Sacraments. It is for the sake of such teaching that the Gospel has mentioned such an apparently trifling detail as this—that when the deaf and dumb man was brought before him, he took him apart, apart, so to say, from the multitude of the noisy passions and the vain thoughts, which had made him deaf to heavenly truths. After all, would there be much good in curing him if the occasion of his malady were not removed and he were to relapse perhaps that same day? So then having, by this separation, taken precautions for the future, Jesus inserts into the ears of the man’s body his own divine fingers which bring the Holy Ghost, and make to penetrate right to the ears of his heart the restorative power of this Spirit of love. And finally, more mysteriously, because the truth which was to be expressed is more profound.—He touches, with the saliva of his sacred mouth, that tongue which had become incapable of giving glory and praise; and Wisdom (for it is she that is here mystically signified)—Wisdom that cometh forth from the mouth of the Most High, and flows for us from the Savior’s fountains as a life-giving drink—yes, this Wisdom openeth the mouth of dumb man, just as she maketh eloquent the tongues of speechless infants.

Therefore it is that the Church—in order to show us that the event recorded in today’s Gospel is figurative, not merely of one individual man, but of us all—has prescribed that the circumstances which accompanied the cure of this deaf and dumb sufferer shall be expressed in the ceremonies of holy Baptism. The Priest, before pouring the water of the sacred Font on the person who is presented for Baptism, puts on the Catechumen’s tongue the salt of Wisdom and touches his ears, saying: Ephpheta! that is, Be opened!

There is an instruction of another kind included in our Gospel, and which is worthy of our notice, as closely bearing on what we have been saying regarding Humility. Our Lord imposes silence on those who have been witnesses of the miraculous cure, although he knew that their praiseworthy enthusiasm could never allow them to obey him. By his injunction, he wishes to give a lesson to his followers—that if, at times, it is impossible to keep men from being in admiration at the works they achieve—if sometimes the Holy Spirit, in opposition to their wishes, forces them to undergo public applause for the greater glory of the God whose instruments they are—yet must they always do all in their power to avoid being noticed; they must prefer to be despised, or at least not talked of; they must love to be hid in the secret of the face of God; and after the most brilliant, just as truly as they would after the most menial duties, they must say from the heartiest conviction: We are unprofitable servants, we have but done what we ought to do.
It is again the hymn of the humble, whether delivered or healed or glorified by God, which is sung in the Offertory.

Exaltabote, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me: nec delectasti inimicos meos super me: Domine, clamavi ad te, et sanasti me.
I will extol thee, O Lord, because thou hast upholden me, and hast not gratified the desire of mine enemies against me. Lord, I cried out to thee, and thou healdst me.

The assembly of God’s servants beseech him, in the following Secret, graciously to accept their gifts; and in this holy Sacrifice, to turn them into the homage of their delighted service, and the support of their weakness.

Respice, Domine, quæsumus, nostram propitius servitutem: ut quod offerimus, sit tibi munus acceptum, et sit nostræ fragilitatis subsidium. Per Dominum.
Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on our homage; that the gifts we offer thee may be acceptable to thee, and a help to our weakness. Through, &c.

The other Secrets, as in the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost.

No more appropriate Anthem could have been selected as the Communion, for the season which finds men busy in harvesting the fruits of the earth. Oh! yes, we should make it our first thought to give to God, through his Church and the poor, the first fruits of these blessings which He himself has bestowed upon us. But in order becomingly to honor the Lord in this, we must take care not to boast, as the Pharisee did, in this our fulfillment of a duty so imperative, and yet so very profitable to ourselves who obey it.

Honora Dominum de tua substantia, et de primitiis frugum tuarum: et implebuntur horrea tua saturitate, et vino torcularia redundabunt.
Honor the Lord out of thy substance, and with the first fruits of thy crops; and thy barns shall be filled abundantly, and thy wine-presses shall overflow.

The heavenly remedy of these sacred Mysteries acts upon our body and soul: it is for the salvation of both, and therefore we should love these Mysteries as our best glory on earth. In the Postcommunion, the Church prays that her children may be blessed in the whole fullness of these blessings.

Sentiamus, quæsumus Domine, tui perceptione sacramenti, subsidium mentis et corporis: ut in utroque salvati, cœlestis remedii plenitudine gloriemur. Per Dominum.
May we experience, by the participation of these thy mysteries, we beseech thee, O Lord, help in body and mind: that, in the salvation of both, we may enjoy the full effect of this heavenly remedy. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions, as in the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

"And they bring to Him one deaf and dumb, and they besought Him that He would lay His hands upon him."--Mark 7, 32.

Those portions of the Gospels which are read to the faithful in the course of the ecclesiastical year seem to be selected, it might almost be said, at random from the Sacred Scriptures. To the preacher, also, whose duty it is to discourse, year after year, from those fragments, it might at first sight appear difficult to make a practical application of this or that Gospel to the spiritual wants of his hearers. This, however, is not so; for, as each Gospel is in turn presented for the instruction of the faithful, it will become more evident that the Word of God is a manna which contains the most varied and delicious tastes, and, moreover, that it impresses the mind as being the ever new and yet immutable truth of the word of Him Whom St. Augustine addressed as "Beauty always ancient yet ever new."

Indeed, if the preacher were every year to direct the attention of his hearers to the same important point of doctrine, it would be, even to the very same congregation, most interesting as well as instructive, since every word of the Gospel is intimately connected with the great work of redemption; for instance, the lesson for this Sunday tells us how Christ vouchsafed to heal the deaf and dumb man.

Let its consider how deaf the human race has ever been to the Word of God, and whatever relates to their salvation.

Mary, whose heart was ever open to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, obtain for us the same readiness to receive the admonitions of the Spirit of Love and Truth! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

If there is any thing which should call forth our astonishment, it is this spiritual deafness of the human race, both individually and collectively, and the incredible indifference manifested in regard to all that God has revealed concerning our existence and eternal destination--the fall of man, his redemption, and that eternity which draws nearer each day. This disposition was manifest even in paradise, before the fall, and afterwards developed itself to such an enormous extent as to justify the assertion, that after our first parents had yielded to the seductions of Satan, their whole posterity became afflicted with this voluntary deafness.

As I have already said, this disposition was perceptible when the fidelity of our first parents was put to the test, for they seemed to give a more ready ear to the seducing wiles of the tempter than to the warning voice of God. Yes, it would seem that our first mother found something far more attractive in the alluring voice of the devil, and the delicious taste of the fruit, than in the exercise of the obedience which she owed to her Maker and Sovereign Lord. His divine command was unheeded and despised at the intimations of greatness conveyed by the serpent: "You shall be as gods."

Adam and Eve fell, and, with them, the race of man became subject to sin and death. But God, in His mercy, decreed that His well-beloved Son should redeem and save the souls created for eternal happiness.

But, alas! Cain, the first-born of the human kind, closed his heart to the inspirations of divine grace, and stained the earth with his brother's blood! And in every age of the world so many, many souls have been found to follow in his footsteps, that, as time wore on, the human race became more and more deaf to the voice of God, and its ways seemed perverted to the ways of iniquity.

Noah, for a hundred years, spoke in terms of entreaty, as well as warning; but his words fell upon ears which refused to heed. He built the ark amid the jeers and mockery of those who looked on in scorn; and, even after the deluge, how soon did heathenism stifle the voice of conscience, and close the ears of the soul!

Almighty God set apart for Himself a nation, through which the whole human family might receive warning and instruction, and be prepared for that wonderful and much-desired event the birth of the Redeemer of the world.

Yet how did the world behave towards this people? We need only look at Pharao. Moses spoke to him, threatening him in the name of the Lord. He listened, yet heard not, for he was obdurate. Again, Moses appeared, and spoke in terms of terrible warning to the wicked king. God sends him various punishments; noxious insects of every kind infest the land, and cause fearful destruction; the waters change into blood; the light of the sun is darkened; the destroying angel spares not the first-born of the Egyptians; and, nevertheless, the hearts of Pharao and his people remained closed to the voice of God. Hearing it exteriorly, they despised it interiorly, until the Lord stretches forth his avenging arm, and the waters of the Red Sea engulf that rebellious host in their terrible depths.

And even in regard to the chosen people of God, was not their spiritual deafness astonishing and deplorable? Amid the thunder's roll and the lightning's flash the Israelites listen as the commands of God are proclaimed; but even while they listen they turn away unheeding, and, in spite of the wonders they witness, pay homage to a golden calf. God sends them a succession of prophets, and they put them all to death.

Christ Himself appears. He speaks, He, the Incarnate Wisdom of God. The people throng around Him; but that class of priests, so wise in their own estimation, yet so totally depraved, the scribes and Pharisees, cry out in tones of scorn: "Which of us hears Him?"

Ascending to heaven, Christ sends His Apostles to announce to all mankind the word of salvation. The Holy Ghost, the promised Paraclete, appears in the form of fiery tongues, above their heads; and, taking in the utmost boundaries of the earth, they proclaim to all men the Word of God.

But St. Paul has told of the results, as he himself experienced them, when, at Athens, he publicly addressed the inhabitants of that world-renowned city. Some laughed in derision, some promised to listen at a future time, which never came for them; and the other Apostles, as they went their ways to the nations of the earth, too often met with the same discouraging results. Oh, how sad, my brethren, when we reflect that this deplorable indifference still characterizes the children of Adam, even after the Gospel has been preached, and the Church spread over the whole earth, and its holiness proved by the most wonderful effects and astonishing miracles.

Even today, and in this so-called age of enlightenment and culture, in this our nineteenth century, how fearfully indifferent are not men to the truths which the Word of God teaches, about their spiritual duties, their ultimate destination, and the momentous affair of their eternal salvation! This inattention and indifference is so much the more surprising because it presents such a striking contrast to the manner in which men generally act when they are told of something; which, by performing certain duties, or fulfilling certain conditions, they can gain, and by which they can greatly promote their temporal interests. Ah, yes! They eagerly hasten to that spot in some far-off land, where they are told that the bright gold lies buried deep in the soil, waiting only to enrich him who is so fortunate as to find it. They even brave the perils of the mighty deep, uncertain whether they will ever safely reach the shore. The same is true of honors and dignities. Observe the different aspirants to a throne; with what anxiety they watch the various political changes, fearing to lose the slightest chance of turning them to their advantage.

It is ever the same, beloved in Christ. Look at the sick. If they are told of some eminent physician or celebrated remedy, they will inquire into or send in quest of the same; they are all anxiety, and leave nothing undone to regain their health. The mechanic is ever on the alert to hear of new inventions; the merchant watches every opportunity to buy and sell to advantage; the man of wealth knows no rest, for, day and night, he is seeking to add to his store, or, hearing of a probable panic, he rushes to the spot where he can learn the truth, and try to avert the worst.

And, by means of God's Holy Word, man is told of the joys of heaven, the glory therein, and of the terrible and eternal torments which are prepared for sinners in hell. It penetrates the ears of the body, but the spiritual hearing is gone. The human race goes recklessly on, living in a state of indifference as if wholly unconcerned for the future. Alas! Christians--Catholics--are no better, if they were only aware of it! They act as did the Jews, when St. Stephen preached to them: "They stopped their ears;" that is, they resolutely avoid attending service at those hours, when they would be reminded of their duties to God; or, when they are present, they attend not to the word of salvation, even if they hear it exteriorly. O folly! folly! To seek after the transitory joys and honors of earth in preference to listening to the Divine Word; to plunge, perhaps, into the vilest dissipations, rather than mortify their passions; to listen to the voice of the worldling or infidel, yet to close their hearts against the warning voice of God's minister, who seeks to win souls for Christ.

O Lord, preserve us from the evil of willful deafness of the soul; for, when it becomes chronic, all hope of salvation is over forever! Amen!

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"And they bring to Him one deaf and dumb; and they besought Him that He would lay His hand upon him." Mark 7, 32.

I considered with you, most beloved in Christ, when the Gospel of this Sunday was read for you last year, the lamentable indifference of mankind in general to the sublime truths and terrible warnings of our holy faith and its Divine Founder, and how, since the fall, man seems as though stricken with a spiritual deafness, which prevents him hearing the word of God!

And if he does hear it, he listens, as it were, against his will, not only paying no attention to what would show him the way to happiness; but going so far as to despise and deny it. We have also reflected upon the eagerness with which he seeks after all that he deems best for his temporal welfare, and the readiness with which he believes all that he hears on the subject. In truth, it would seem as if, in his corrupted state, he found more pleasure in falsehood than in truth! Far different from holy David, who cried out: "The wicked have told me fables; but not as Thy law. All Thy statutes are truth, and therefore a light to guide my feet to heaven!"

If this strike you, as it surely must, as a miserable condition, scarcely less so is the state of those Christians who hear and believe, but live, notwithstanding, such lukewarm and tepid lives, as to give the impression that they care nothing for what they hear and believe.

But neither of these classes of deaf-mutes need despair of being healed; for there are ample means to effect their restoration, and these, with the Divine assistance, I will point out to you today.

Mary, spouse of the Holy Ghost, obtain for us, from that Spirit of Love, a perfect willingness to hear and obey the voice of God! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

Last year I also dwelt on the pitiable, and, indeed, most culpable, state into which this indifference to hearing that Divine voice has cast the human race. As it existed in ages past, it prevails at the present time, a truth which was brought particularly home to me, when, recently, I was explaining to a Protestant, who was extremely obstinate in her own opinion, that there is but one Church, one true Church, and how it could be no other than that which has existed for over eighteen hundred years that was founded by Christ when He lived among men. In the very beginning this Protestant assured me that, say what I might, she would not be convinced; that she would retain the form of belief she had always professed, even though she knew that every word of my argument would be true!

While I spoke, the lady allowed her gaze to wander constantly, as if to assure me of her inattention, as well as to banish from her mind every thought that might have touched her heart or shown her the truth.

When, in conclusion, I asked her: "Now, what do you say? Am I not right?" she replied, with the utmost indifference: "It may be that you are; I was not listening to you; for I intend to remain what I am."

I once met a soldier, dying in an hospital in Galicia, and endeavored to lead him to believe in and embrace our holy faith. In the very face of death, his reply was: "It is useless, priest; even if God Himself were to stand before me, with the terrible assurance that if I refused to become a Catholic I would this very day be plunged into the abyss of hell; rather would I go to perdition than become a member of the faith you profess!"

But praise and thanks to our merciful Lord, all heretics and infidels do not so willfully harden their hearts against the truth! But still the spiritual deafness, so universally prevailing, is most deplorable.

What is equally, if not more lamentable, is, that even among the children of the true Church, there exists a tepidity and indifference, which is alike sad, and astonishing. I include also those Catholics who certainly hear and believe the word of God; but seem content that their days should pass on in this spirit of tepidity, perfectly indifferent about leading a holy life, but content if they barely fulfill their religious duties. They strive not after Christian perfection; neither do they hunger and thirst after justice!

This indifference, when displayed by those who have not heard the Divine Word, and who, therefore, neither believe nor concern themselves about it, is some what to be wondered at; but how difficult it is to comprehend that a Christian, who really believes the Divine truths of faith, and what they inculcate about our salvation, the imitation of Christ and His saints, and that eternity which most certainly awaits us--who admits that there is a judgment he can not escape, a purgatory which perhaps holds those he has given bad example, a heaven and hell to reward or to punish--who, in fine, would be willing to give up every thing, even life itself, for his faith, can yet remain wholly absorbed in the interests of earth, making but little preparation for death!

But as I said, there is a remedy for this insensibility, this spiritual deafness. We shall find this remedy if we reflect on the manner in which Christ cured the deaf-mute of today's Gospel.

He took him aside. What is signified by this? Our Lord wished to show that the principal cause of spiritual deafness, and moral indifference, is found in the influence which the example of, and intercourse with others exert upon the lives of those afflicted there with. Jews and heathens, heretics and infidels, reproduce in their thoughts, and imitate in their actions, whatever they see and hear! The same is true of indifferent and lukewarm Christians. They verify the adage: "Show me your company, and I will tell you what you are!"

Therefore, that your spiritual deafness may be healed, you must not live with the crowd, nor follow the crowd, but retire and meditate earnestly and often, for with justice has the Prophet Jeremias declared : "With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in his heart." The world is filled with wickedness, infidelity, want of faith, impiety and indifference to supernatural things, because "no one thinketh in the heart." O Christian, retire into yourself, examine your own heart, listen to the word of God, understand it, and it will exercise a most decisive influence upon your life!

Christ put His finger into the ears of the deaf and dumb man. What signifies this? It admonishes us, that if we take an interest in the conversion of sinners to a holy life, or of heretics to the one true faith, we should not make use of lengthy arguments and abstruse explanations to lead them to the path of right and truth; for plain reasons, based on admitted truths, and confirmed by experience, have most weight.

For heretics and infidels, the consideration of the following truths would be most beneficial: There is but one God and Creator; as a rational being, I am immortal; therefore, between God and me there exists a relation which is called Religion, and which is founded upon the revelation of God to man, since reason alone, and of itself, is not explicit concerning the consequences of that relationship. Christ was the first teacher of this divinely revealed religion, and after Him, by His own appointment, the Apostles and their successors--the bishops and priests of the Church. This Church, founded by Him, is the Catholic Church, which is therefore the only true one, and, the only one in which salvation can be found. If those who are separated from the fold of Christ, either by infidelity or some perverted form of religion, show themselves inclined to enter her fold, it is unwise to lose time in lengthy discussions; but go to meet them, rather, with outstretched arms. Show them the truth in all its sublimity, and pray earnestly to God that He may bless your efforts for Christ's dear sake.

The same means should be adopted with great sinners, whom some faithful child of the Church wishes to lead gently to God. They should be urged to consider the great contrast between their mode of life and their faith, and the imminent danger to which they expose their eternal salvation if they refuse to live consistently with their belief.

"And spitting, Christ touched His tongue." The spittle signifies the littleness of all the frail and fleeting goods of earth, and of the empty pleasures of this mortal life. The exaggerated estimate of earthly riches and enjoyments is precisely what stands in the way of a true conversion to a zealous and pious life--a life in perfect accord with the teachings of holy faith.

Christ looked up to heaven and prayed. This admonishes us to direct our thoughts to heaven, and to excite in our hearts the desire for that happy home. It should also strengthen us to labor with the greatest zeal in the service of God, to deem no effort too great to do His holy will.

We should implore God to have mercy on us, and bring us at last to eternal bliss! If we act thus, we will hear the word of God, such as it is. We will live according to its precepts, rendering to God honor for time and eternity, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen!

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"And the string of his tongue was loosed; and he spoke right." Mark 7, 35.

The afflicted man, of whom we read in this day's Gospel that he was made whole, suffered from a twofold evil: he was afflicted with deafness, and in consequence lost the power of speech. But when the deafness disappeared under the ministrations of the Son of God, he spoke, and "spoke right." We can here make not only a close but a most important application of this man's double infirmity and of his cure to the spiritual condition of humanity, considered both as a body and individually, and to the remedy that is required by their state.

We have already considered how prone human nature is to turn a deaf ear when the Word of God is announced, and lamented the astonishing indifference to the truths of holy faith which prevails in our day. Those who have the happiness of belonging to the one true Church may be counted by millions; but a large proportion of them pay no regard to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, and, instead of being an honor, they are at once a scandal and a grief to her. Thus, such Christians not only remain deaf but become dumb also, and speak not when and where, and as they should.

Christ first healed the deafness of the afflicted man--"faith comes from hearing"--then He loosened the string of his tongue, whereupon he spoke, and "spoke right."

Let us consider what this dumbness typifies in regard to the human race--first as a body, then individually ascertaining thus the meaning of the words: "And he spoke right."

O Mary, who, having heard and believed, didst entone that sublime canticle before the Lord on Judea's heights, teach us, thy children, ever to speak when we should, and in the manner most pleasing to God! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

The votaries of the world care neither for God nor for their own salvation. They receive the Word of God exteriorly, and seem to listen to it, but heeding it not they remain spiritually deaf; and it is a fact, that heretics and schismatics, Pagans and Jews, Protestants and faithless Catholics, suffer alike from this deplorable evil.

Not less remarkable is the silence of man with regard to God! The world is dumb! From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, from the earliest dawn of day until the shades of night have fallen over the world, often from eventide until the midnight hour has tolled, what a ceaseless hum of conversation is heard over all the world. Every subject is discussed with never-flagging interest, save one, and that is, God. What a profound silence is maintained upon that one theme, alike so terrible and so sweet.

"Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?" should be the thought of every soul at earliest dawn; but few there are who ask the question even once, and yet our tongues should serve as means of praising God; daily and hourly should we praise and thank Him, pay Him our homage, and implore Him to bestow His grace upon us in the hour of need. And yet how many there are who allow the years to come and go, and utter not one prayer nor word of praise to Him! They are dumb.

And it is not that they are wanting in ideas or words. They can speak of whatever is grand, beautiful, and sublime in the order of creation, which they see and admire. They are eloquent in their praise of the great progress in science, the works of the learned, and are proud of knowing the authors. They delight in having read the most famous books, deeming it necessary to at least pretend to a classical education. They must see and converse upon the noted productions of art, and know the names of the artists to admire or condemn as they wish. They make the tour of the world, extol the beauties of nature, even explore the mysteries of the firmament, and call the stars by name. They dispute about the astronomer who discovered them first, and pretend to have arrived at a knowledge of the fundamental laws of nature.

They extol the goodness of men, their generosity and heroism, their benignity, prudence, and ability. They speak of prominent politicians, of the royal and great personages of this world; they forget not relations and friends, especially if their position be good; they recall with love and gratitude those benefactors to whom they owe much. But on one subject they are silent. There is a silence, death-like and inexplicable, in regard to that God in Whom are embodied the most admirable attributes infinite holiness, goodness, and majesty. He it is Who is the first great cause, not only of all the grandeur and magnificence in nature, of which men are so loud in their praise, but of all the wondrous achievements of mankind, for who, but the Creator, bestowed on the work of His hands those powers which render man great?

One discovers a new force in nature, and is lauded by the whole world; yet he only accidentally came to its knowledge; not he, but God, laid it in nature's bosom. About Him, the author of all power, not a word is heard.

There is a man who has made the tour of the world, and sent forth a volume on the wonders he saw, the glories of the firmament, and the beauties which render this earth so fair. His description is brilliant, his book is much sought after, but not one of its pages pays tribute to the Creator of heaven and earth; not one word is found therein in praise of the Lord. Nay, search from beginning to end, and, perhaps, you will fail to find even His name.

In the same way does the world remain dumb about the propagation of God's kingdom on earth. Administrators of public affairs deem themselves wonderfully wise in proclaiming aloud: "Believe what you wish, act as you think best with regard to God and religion, keep the commandments of God if you please or keep them not; but woe unto you if you violate a law of the State." And, my brethren, at all legislative or political assemblies where the most able men of the State come together to deliberate or make laws, where debates and discussions are the order of the day, not only is there not one word spoken about God, but were His most holy name to be mentioned, surprise, or even disdain, would be read in the expression of all. This class of men may well be called deaf and dumb with regard to their duties towards their Creator.

In how many families do we not find one or more suffering from these spiritual evils! They are both deaf and dumb when there is question of fulfilling what is commanded by the Church. How many parents are thus afflicted? Deaf and dumb! Poor parents, who care not, as they should, to know and fulfill the divine will; who do not provide books for their children which will foster in their youthful minds a love of piety, and a longing after all that is good!

Perhaps, through their fault, those children will remain also through life deaf and dumb. Poor children! Allowed to grow up with scarce any instruction about God, or the means of attaining eternal bliss, they hear naught of His holy name except when it is profaned. Their parents are silent! They see the children--who have been given them by God--walking on the road to perdition, urged on, perhaps, by their evil example, yet they are dumb! Nay, perhaps they even say, "they are old enough to act as they please;" or, "what else can one expect from their youth? By and by they will do better!"

It may be a wife, it may be a husband, who is afflicted. Growing careless in the discharge of every religious duty, the erring party pursues the downward path, without a word of remonstrance from the other, whose duty it is to speak, but who is dumb. There is a couple who have contracted a mixed marriage. The Catholic husband or wife, as the case may be, makes not the slightest effort to sanctify the unbelieving partner, but remains willfully and culpably silent. Perhaps the heart of that unconverted one is ready to receive the Word of God, and to be at once a consolation and a joy to the sacred Heart of our Lord, but for that criminal silence, that terrible spiritual dumbness!

Or, perhaps, alas! most beloved in Christ, when the greater number of Christians, Catholics, whom the loving Saviour invites to be models for the rest of the world, do open their lips, it may be that they do not speak right, that they injure rather than promote the interests of God's kingdom on earth, because their discourse is a curse, their conversation an oath.

It may be that they advocate the cause of the wicked; it may be that, forgetting the faith of their fathers, and faithless to all that it enjoins, they go even so far as to profess infidelity; that they boast of their hatred to others, and the revenge they will take, or project new methods of offending a God Who will not be mocked. They do not speak right.

Therefore, O Lord! open for thy faithless children the ears of their souls that they may hear Thy Word, and, doing it, open their lips only to declare Thy praise! Amen!
Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost


2017 - Two Masses


2019 - Two Masses



by St. Alphonsus Liguori

He touched his tongue ... and the string of his tongue was loosed.” MARK vii. 33, 35.

IN this day’s gospel St. Mark relates tlie miracle which our Saviour wrought in healing the man that was dumb by barely touching his tongue. “He touched his tongue and the string of his tongue was loosed.” From. the last words we may infer that the man was not entirely dumb, but that his tongue was not free, or that his articulation was not distinct. Hence St. Mark tells us, that after the miracle he spoke right. Let us make the application to ourselves. The dumb man stood in need of a miracle to loose his tongue, and to take away the impediment under which he laboured. But how many are there on whom God would confer a great grace, if he bound their tongues, that they might cease to speak immodestly! This vice does great injury to others. Secondly, it does great injury to themselves. These shall be thetwo points of this sermon.

First Point. The man who speaks immodestly does great injury to others who listen to him.

1. In explaining the 140th Psalm, St. Augustine calls those who speak obscenely “the mediators of Satan,” the ministers of Lucifer; because, by their obscene language, the demon of impurity gets access to souls, which by his own suggestions he could not enter. Of their accursed tongues St. James says: “And the tongue is a fire,… being set on fire by hell.” (James iii. 6.) He says that the tongue is a fire kindled by hell, with which they who speak obscenely burn themselves and others. The obscene tongue may be said to be the tongue of the third person, of which Ecclesiasticus says: “The tongue of a third person hath disquieted many, and scattered them from nation to nation.” (Eccl. xxviii. 16.) The spiritual tongue speaks of God, the worldly tongue talks of worldly affairs; but tlie tongue of a third person is a tongue of hell, which speaks of the impurities of the flesh; and this is the tongue that perverts many, and brings them to perdition.

2. Speaking of the life of men on this earth, the Royal Prophet says: “Let their way become dark and slippery.” (Ps. xxxiv. 0.) In this life men walk in the midst of darkness and in a slippery way. Hence they are in danger of falling at every step, unless they cautiously examine the road on which they walk, and carefully avoid dangerous steps that is, the occasions of sin. Now, if in treading this slippery way, frequent efforts were made to throw them down, would it not be a miracle if they did not fall? “The Mediators of Satan,” who speak obscenely, impel others to sin, who, as long as they live on this earth, walk in the midst of darkness, and as long as they remain in the flesh, are in danger of falling into the vice of impurity. Now, of those who indulge in obscene language, it has been well said: “Their throat is an open sepulchre.” (Ps. v. 11.) The mouths of those who can utter nothing but filthy obscenities are, according to St. Chrysostom, so many open sepulchres of putrified carcasses. “Talia sunt ora hominum qui turpia proferunt.” (Hom, ii., de Proph. Obs.) The exhalation which arises from the rottenness of a multitude of dead bodies thrown together into a pit, communicates infection and disease to all who feel the stench.

3. “The stroke of a whip,” says Ecclesiasticus, “maketh a blue mark; but the stroke of a tongue will break the bones.” (Eccl. xxviii. 21.) The wounds of the lash are wounds of the flesh, but the wounds of the obscene tongue are wounds which infect the bones of those who listen to its language. St. Bernardino of Sienna relates, that a virgin who led a holy life, at hearing an obscene word from a young man, fell into a bad thought, and afterwards abandoned herself to the vice of impurity to such a degree that, the saint says, if the devil had taken human flesh, he could not have committed so many sins of that kind as she committed.

4. The misfortune is, that the mouths of hell that frequently utter immodest words, regard them, as trifles, and are careless about confessing them: and when rebuked for them they answer: “I say these words in jest, and without malice.” In jest! Unhappy man, these jests make the devil laugh, and shall make you weep for eternity in hell. In the first place, it is useless to say that you utter such words without malice; for, when you use such expressions, it is very difficult for you to abstain from acts against purity. According to St. Jerome, “He that delights in words is not far from the act. “ Besides, immodest words spoken before persons of a different sex, are always accompanied with sinful complacency. And is not the scandal you give to others criminal? Utter a single obscene word, and you shall bring into sin all who listen to you. Such is the doctrine of St. Bernard. “One speaks, and he utters only one word; but he kills the souls of a multitude of hearers.” (Serm. xxiv., in Cant.) A greater sin than if, by one discharge of a blunderbuss, you murdered many persons; because you would then only kill their bodies: but, by speaking obscenely, you have killed their souls.

5. In a word, obscene tongues are the ruin of the world. One of them does more mischief than a hundred devils; because it is the cause of the perdition of many souls. This is not my language; it is the language of the Holy Ghost. “A slippery mouth worketh ruin.” (Prov. xxvi. 28.) And when is it that this havoc of souls is effected, and that such grievous insults are offered to God? It is in the summer, at the time when God bestows upon you the greatest temporal blessings. It is then that he supplies you for the entire year with corn, wine, oil, and other fruits of the earth. It is then that there are as many sins committed by obscene words, as there are grains of corn or bunches of grapes. O ingratitude! How does God bear with us? And who is the cause of these sins? They who speak immodestly are the cause of them. Hence they must render an account to God, and shall be punished for all the sins committed by those who hear them. “But I will require his blood at thy hand.” (Ezec. iii. 11.) But let us pass to the second point.

Second Point. He who speaks immodestly does great injury to himself.

6. Some young men say: “I speak without malice.” In answer to this excuse, I have already said, in the first point, that it is very difficult to use immodest language without taking delight in it; and that speaking obscenely before young females, married or unmarried, is always accompanied with a secret complacency in what is said. Besides, by using immodest language, you expose yourself to the proximate danger of falling into unchaste actions: for, according to St. Jerome, as we have already said, “he who delights in words is not far from the act.” All men are inclined to evil. “The imagination and thought of man*s heart are prone to evil.” (Gen. viii. 21.) But, above all, men are prone to the sin of impurity, to which nature itself inclines them. Hence St. Augustine has said, that in struggling against that vice “the victory is rare,” at least for those who do not use great caution. “Communis pugna et rara victoria.” Now, the impure objects of which they speak are always presented to the mind of those who freely utter obscene words. These objects excite pleasure, and bring them into sinful desires and morose delectations, and afterwards into criminal acts. Behold the consequence of the immodest words which young men say they speak without malice.

7. “Be not taken in thy tongue,” says the Holy Ghost. (Eccl. v. 16.) Beware lest by your tongue you forge a chain which will drag you to hell. “The tongue,” says St. James, “defileth the whole body, and inflameth the wheel of our nativity.” (St. James iii. 6.) The tongue is one of the members of the body, but when it utters bad words it infects the whole body, and “inflames the wheels of our nativity ;” it inflames and corrupts our entire life from our birth to old age. Hence we see that men who indulge in obscenity, cannot, even in old age, abstain from immodest language. In the life of St. Valerius, Surius relates that the saint, in travelling, went one day into a house to warm himself. He heard the master of the house and a judge of the district, though both were advanced in years, speaking on obscene subjects. The saint reproved them severely; but they paid no attention to his rebuke. However, God punished both of them: one became blind, and a sore broke out on the other, which produced deadly spasms. Henry Gragerman relates (in Magn. Spec., dist. 9, ex. 58), that one of those obscene talkers died suddenly and without repentance, and that he was afterwards seen in hell tearing his tongue in pieces; and when it was restored he began again to lacerate it.

8. But how can God have mercy on him who has no pity on the souls of his neighbours?”Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy.” (St. James ii. 13.) Oh! what a pity to see one of those obscene wretches pouring out his filthy expressions before girls and young married females! The greater the number of such persons present, the more abominable is his language. It often happens that little boys and girls are present, and he has no horror of scandalizing these innocent souls! Cantipratano relates that the son of a certain nobleman in Burgundy was sent to be educated by the monks of Cluni. He was an angel of purity; but the unhappy boy having one day entered into a carpenter’s shop, heard some obscene words spoken by the carpenter’s wile, fell into sin, and lost the divine grace. Father Sabitano, in his work entitled ”Evangelical Light,” relates that another boy, fifteen years old, having heard an immodest word, began to think of it the following night, consented to a bad thought, and died suddenly the same night. His confessor having heard of his death, intended to say Mass for him. But the soul of the unfortunate boy appeared to him, and told the confessor not to celebrate Mass for him that, by means of the word he had heard, he was damned and that the celebration of Mass would add to his pains. O God! how great, were it in their power to weep, would be the wailing of the angel-guardians of these poor children that are scandalized and brought to hell by the language of obscene tongues! With what earnestness shall the angels demand vengeance from God against the author of such scandals! That the angels shall cry for vengeance against them, appears from the words of Jesus Christ: “See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father.” (Matt, xviii. 10.)

9. Be attentive, then, my brethren, and guard your selves against speaking immodestly, more than you would against death. Listen to the advice of the Holy Ghost: “Make a balance for thy words, and a just bridle for thy mouth; and take heed lest thou slip with thy tongue and thy fall be incurable unto death.” (Eccl. xxvhi. 29, 30.)”Make a balance” you must weigh your words before you utter them and ”a bridle for thy mouth” when immodest words come to the tongue, you must suppress them; otherwise, by uttering them, you shall inflict on your own soul, and on the souls of others, a mortal and incurable wound. God has given you the tongue, not to offend him, but to praise and bless him. “But, “ says St. Paul, “fornication and all uncleanness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints.” (Ephes. v. 3.) Mark the words” all uncleanness. “ We must not only abstain from obscene language and from every word of double meaning spoken in jest, but also from every improper word unbecoming a saint that is, a Christian. It is necessary to remark, that words of double meaning sometimes do greater evil than open obscenity, because the art with which they are spoken makes a deeper impression on, the mind.

10. Reflect, says St. Augustine, that your mouths are the mouths of Christians, which Jesus Christ has so often entered in the holy communion. Hence, you ought to have a horror of uttering all unchaste words, which are a diabolical poison. “See, brethren, if it be just that, from the mouths of Christians, which the body of Christ enters, an immodest song, like diabolical poison, should proceed.” (Serm. xv., de Temp.) St. Paul says, that the language of a Christian should be always seasoned with salt. “Let your speech be always in grace, seasoned with salt. “(Col. iv. 6.) Our conversation should be seasoned with words calculated to excite others not to offend, but to love God. “Happy the tongue,” says St. Bernard, “that knows only how to speak of holy things!” Happy the tongue that knows only how to speak of God! brethren, be careful not only to abstain from all obscene language, but to avoid, as you would a plague, those who speak immodestly. When you hear any one begin to utter obscene words, follow the advice of the Holy Ghost: “Hedge in thy ears with thorns: hear not a wicked tongue.” (Eccl. xxviii. 28.) “Hedge in thy ears with thorns” that is, reprove with zeal the man who speaks obscenely; at least turn away your face, and show that you hate such language. Let us not be ashamed to appear to be followers of Jesus Christ, unless we wish Jesus Christ to be ashamed to bring us with him into Paradise.

Taken from Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Everyday of the Year:


PRESENCE OF GOD - Grant, O Lord, that the grace of holy Baptism may reach its full development in me.


1. The healing of the deaf-mute, as narrated in today’s Gospel (Mk 7,31-37), is a figure of baptismal grace. We, too, were once taken before Jesus in a condition similar to that of the poor man in Galilee. We were deaf and dumb in the life of the spirit, and Jesus, in the person of the priest, welcomed us lovingly at the baptismal font. The priest made the same gesture over us and said the same word as did the divine Master in the Gospel: “Ephpheta,” “ Be thou opened!” From that moment the hearing of our soul was opened to faith and our tongue was loosed to give praise to God. We were enabled to listen to the voice of faith—to the exterior voice of the teaching Church and to the interior voice of the Holy Spirit, urging us to do good; from that moment, we could open our lips in prayer: in praise, adoration, and petition. But later the noise of the world deafened and distracted us; likewise, the tumult of our passions deadened our capacity to listen to the voice of God. Then, too, idle conversations about worldly things and great anxiety over various events in our life have left us unable to pray sincerely and earnestly. But Jesus wishes to renew the grace of our Baptism today and to repeat the all-powerful word “Ephpheta.” How greatly we need Him to reopen our ears to His voice and to make us more attentive and sensitive to His call! “In the morning He wakeneth my ear that I may hear Him as a master; I do not resist, I have not gone back, ” says Isaias (50,4.5). This is the grace we must ask of Our Lord today, that we may not only hear His voice, but may follow it, without resistance. The more faithfully we follow it, the more sensitive we shall become to its slightest whisper. At the same time let us ask for the grace of always being ready to give praise to the Lord, to call upon His mercy, to ask His pardon humbly, accusing ourselves of our faults sincerely and with sorrow.

2. Those who were present when Jesus performed this miracle wondered at it, saying, “ He hath done all things well; He hath made both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.” Certainly, Jesus has done all things well; He has arranged everything in the best way possible for our sanctification. He has prepared for us all the graces we need, and not only in sufficient measure, but even superabundantly. Unfortunately, however, we do not always cooperate with His grace; many times pride, egoism, and all our other uncontrolled passions turn to evil what God has planned for our good. If we had accepted lovingly and with resignation that difficulty, that trial, or disappointment which God had permitted for the sole purpose of providing us with an opportunity to practice virtue, we should have made great progress; but by giving way to impatience, by protesting and complaining, we rather added to our failures and infidelities. We should cooperate with grace more readily and strive to maintain our soul in an attitude of open docility to all the invitations to virtue which God is continually sending us by means of the different circumstances of life.

Today’s Mass, and especially the Epistle (1 Cor 15,1-10), offers us a splendid model of cooperation with grace. It is St. Paul, the Apostle, who in his humility calls himself “the least of the Apostles,” who says most sincerely: “By the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace in me hath not been void.” St. Paul realizes that, if he became an Apostle, instead of the persecutor which he had been, it was not because of his own merits, but solely by the grace of God; he attributes nothing to himself, but all to God. At the same time, he is conscious of his personal correspondence, the correspondence which is always the fruit of grace, but which also includes, as an indispensable element, our free adherence to it. Consequently, we must have an attitude of profound humility as the basis of our correspondence to grace; that is, we must clearly realize that whatever good is in us is due only to God. This attitude of humility must be accompanied by a voluntary, continual assent of our will to God’s invitations. We cannot give this assent without the help of grace, and yet it depends on us; it is entirely in our hands. Therefore, like St. Paul, we can attribute nothing to our own merits, but should say with him, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” Our willing adhesion to grace, however, will give us the right to add, “and His grace in me hath not been void.” But only steady, faithful, generous adhesion will give us that right.


“Henceforth, O Lord, it is You alone whom I love, follow, seek, and serve; You alone have the right to command, and to You alone do I wish to be subject. Command, I beg You, and demand of me anything You wish; heal and open my ears, that I may hear Your commands; cure and open my eyes, that I may see the signs of Your will; take away my dullness that I may be able to contemplate You, and thus, I hope, accomplish faithfully whatever You ask of me.

“O God and most merciful Father, receive this Your fugitive child. All that I have had in the past has been sufficient for me; I have had enough of being the plaything of vain, deceitful things. Now I am running away from this tyranny; receive me as Your servant, as they received me when I ran away from You to them. I know I need to return to Your house; behold me knocking at the door; open to me; show me how to reach You. I have nothing but my will: I know only one thing—that I must despise the ephemeral and trivial and seek the immutable and eternal.

“My desire is to return to You, and I ask You for the means to obtain my desire. If You abandon us, we perish, but You do not abandon us; for You are the Sovereign Good, and no one has ever truly sought You and not found You.... O Lord, You know that I have the will but not the power, and I cannot even will what is good without You, nor can I do what I will to do if Your power does not help me; and what I can do, I often do not wish to do, unless You make Your will triumph on earth as in heaven. I implore but one thing of Your sovereign mercy : that You convert me entirely to You and keep me from resisting the grace which leads me to You” (St. Augustine).