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Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Taken from Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's The Church's Year

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REMARK If from Pentecost until Advent there be only twenty-three Sundays, the following one is omitted, and the Mass of the twenty-fourth is said.

The Introit of the Mass consoles and incites us to confidence in God who is so benevolent towards us, and will not let us pine away in tribulation. The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon me, and I will hear you: and I will bring back your captivity from all places. (Fer. XXIX. 11. 12. 14.) Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. (Ps. LXXXIV.) Glory etc.

COLLECT Absolve, we beseech Thee, 0 Lord, Thy people from their offences: that through Thy bountiful goodness we may be freed from the bonds of those sins which through our frailty we have contracted. Thro',

EPISTLE (Philipp. III 17-21.: IV, 1-3.) Brethren, Be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the gospel with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.

Quote:EXPLANATION There are unhappily many Christians, who, as St. Paul complains, are, declared enemies of Christ's cross, who do not wish to mortify their senses, who only think of gratifying their lusts, and, as it were, find their only pleasure, even seek their honor, in despising the followers of Jesus and His saints on the narrow path of the cross, of mortification and humiliation. What will be the end of these people? Eternal perdition! For he who does not crucify the flesh, does not belong to Christ. (Gal. V. 24.) He who does not bear the-marks of the mortification of Jesus in his body, in him the life of Christ shall not be manifested. (II Cor. IV. 10.) He who does not walk in heaven during his, life-time, that is, who does not direct his thoughts and desires heavenward, and despise the world and its vanities, will not find admission there after his death.
ASPIRATION Would to God , I could say with St. Paul: The world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. VI. 14.)

GOSPEL (Matt. IX. 18-26.) At that time, As Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold, a certain ruler came up, and adored him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead: but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus, rising up, followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman, who was troubled with an 'issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter: thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the. minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, he said: Give place: for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.


I. Filial was the faith, unbounded the confidence, profound the humility of this woman, and therefore, she received health also. Learn from this, how pleasing to the Lord is faith, confidence and humility; let your prayer always be penetrated by these three virtues, and you will receive whatever you ask.

II. The devout Louis de Ponte compares the conduct of this woman to our conduct at holy Communion, and says: Christ wished to remain with us in the most holy Eucharist, clothed with the garment of the sacramental species of bread, that he who receives His sacred flesh and blood, may be freed from evil concupiscence. If you wish to obtain the health of your soul, as did this woman the health of the body, imitate her. Receive the flesh and blood of Jesus with the most profound humility, with the firmest confidence in His power and goodness, and like this woman you too will be made whole.

III. Jesus called three dead persons to life, the twelve year old daughter of Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, of whom there is mention made in this gospel, the young man at Naim, (Luke VII. 14.) and Lazarus. (John. XI- 43.) By these three dead persons three classes of sinners may be understood: the maiden signifies those who sin in their youth through weakness and frailty, but touched by the grace of God, perceive their fall and easily rise again through penance; by the young man at Naim those are to be understood who sin repeatedly and in public, these require greater grace, more labor and severer penance; by Lazarus, the public and obdurate habitual sinners are to be understood who can be raised to spiritual life only by extraordinary graces and severe public penance.

IV. Christ did not raise the maiden, until the minstrels and noisy multitude were removed, by which He wished to teach us that the conversion of a soul cannot be accomplished in the midst of the noise and turmoil of temporal cares, idle pleasures and associations.

✠ ✠ ✠

And they laughed him to scorn. (Matt IX. 24.)

When Jesus told the minstrels and the crowd that the girl was not dead, but sleeping, they laughed at Him, because they understood not the meaning of His words. Sensual-minded men generally act in the same manner towards the priests and ministers of God, who by their word and example admonish them to despise honors, riches and pleasures, and to embrace the love of poverty, humility and mortification. This is, an unintelligible and hateful language to them which they ridicule and mock just as they do when they hear that death is a sleep, from which we shall one day awake and be obliged to appear before the judgment-seat of God. Woe to such scoffers by whose ridicule so many souls are led from the path "of virtue! What the devil formerly, accomplished by tyrants in estranging men from God and a lively faith in Him and His Church, he seems to wish to accomplish in our days by the mockery, scoffs, and blasphemies of wicked men; for at no period have piety and virtue, holy simplicity and childlike faith, adherence to the holy Roman Church and her laws, reverence for her head, her ministers and priests, been more mocked, derided and blasphemed. Unhappily many permit themselves to be induced by mockery to abandon piety, to omit the public practice of their faith, to conceal their Catholic conviction, and to lead a lukewarm, careless, indeed, sinful life. Woe to the scoffers! they are an abomination to the Lord (Prov. III. 32.) who will one day require from their hands all the souls perverted by them. Do not permit yourself to be led astray by those who ridicule your faith and zeal for virtue; remember the words of Jesus: He that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. X. 33.) Let Jesus be your consolation, He was scoffed and blasphemed for your sake, and often say within yourself:

I know, my most amiable Jesus, that the servant cannot be more than his master. Since Thou wert so often sneered at, mocked and blasphemed, why should I wonder if I am derided for my faith in Thee and Thy Church, and for the practice of virtue!
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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For the years when the number of the Sundays after Pentecost is only twenty-three, the Mass for today is taken from the twenty-fourth and last Sunday: and the Mass appointed for the twenty-third, is said on the previous Saturday, or on the nearest day of the preceding week, which is not impeded by a double or semi-double feast.

But, under all circumstances, the Antiphonary ends today. The Introits, Graduals, Communions, and Postcommunions, which are given below, are to be repeated on each of the Sundays till Advent, which may be more or less in number, according to the Years. Our readers will remember how, in the time of St. Gregory, Advent was longer than we now have it; and that, in those days, its weeks commenced in that part of the Cycle, which is now occupied by the last Sundays after Pentecost. This is one of the reasons which explain there being a lack of liturgical riches in the composition of the dominical Masses which follow the twenty-third.

Even on this one, formerly, the Church, without losing sight of the Last Day, used to lend a thought to the new season which was fast approaching, the season, that is, of preparation for the great feast of Christmas. There used to be read, as Epistle, the following passage from Jeremias, which was afterwards, in several Churches, inserted in the Mass of the first Sunday of Advent: Behold! the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a King shall reign, and shall be wise: and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In those days, shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently: and this is the name that they shall call Him: The Lord our Just One. Therefore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, and they shall say no more: The Lord liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt! But: The Lord liveth, who hath brought out, and brought hither, the seed of the house of Israel, from the land of the north, and out of all the lands, to which I had cast them forth! And they shall dwell in their own land.

As is evident, this passage is equally applicable to the conversion of the Jews, and the restoration of Israel, which are to take place at the end of the world. This was the view taken by the chief liturgists of the Middle Ages, in order to explain thoroughly the Mass of the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost. First mentioning to our readers, that, originally, the Gospel of this Sunday was that of the multiplication of the five loaves, let us listen to the profound and learned Abbot Rupert, who, better than anyone, will teach us the mysteries of this day, which brings to a close the grand and varied Gregorian Melodies, that we have been having during the whole year.

“Holy Church,” says he, “is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she thus sings every Year: My thoughts are thoughts of peace, and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren, according to the flesh; thus realizing what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognized them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so, too, our Lord who is now reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians (that is, to the Gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favor, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.

“The benefit of this divine Table is signified, in the Office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of our Lord’s feeding the multitude with five loaves. For, it will be then, that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole, and not yet broken,—yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.

“Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this Gospel: They shall say no more: The Lord liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt! But, the Lord liveth, who hath brought out of the seed of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands into which they had been cast.

“Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with all their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: Thou hast saved us, O Lord, from them that afflict us!

“The words we use in the Offertory: From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Amen, I say to you, all things whatsoever ye ask, when ye pray, &c., is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children.”


The Introit, which we have just had explained to us by Rupert, it taken from the Prophet Jeremias, as was the ancient Epistle.

Dicit Dominus: Ego cogito cogitationes pacis, et non afflictionis: invocabitis me, et ego exaudiam vos: et reducam captivitatem vestram de cunctis locis.
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction; ye shall call upon me, and I will hear you: and bring back your captive people from all places.

Ps. Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. Gloria Patri. Dicit Dominus.
Ps. Thou, O Lord, hast blessed thy land: thou hast brought back the captive children of Jacob. Glory, &c. The Lord.

Prayer for pardon is continually on the lips of the Christian people, because the weakness of human nature is, here below, ever making itself felt, even by the just man. God knows our frailty, and he is always ready to pardon us; but it is on the condition, that we humbly acknowledge our faults, and have confidence in his mercy. These are the sentiments which suggest to the Church the words of the Collect.

Absolve, quæsumus Domine, tuorum delicta populorum: ut a peccatorum nexibus, quæ pro nostra fragilitate contraximus, tua benignitate liberemur. Per Dominum.
Absolve, O Lord, we beseech thee, the sins of thy people; that, by thy clemency, we may be delivered from the bonds of sins contracted by our own frailty. Through, &c.

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

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Philippians. Ch. iii and iv.

Brethren: Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy and my crown; so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Quote:The Clement, whose name is here mentioned by the Apostle, is that of St. Peter’s second successor. Very frequently, the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost comes close upon the feast of this great Pope and Martyr of the first century. Disciple of Paul, and, later on, in close intimacy with Peter, and named by the Vicar of Christ as the fittest to succeed him in the apostolic chair,—Clement, as we shall see on the 23rd of November, was one of those Saints, who, in those early times, were the most venerated by the Faithful. The mention made of him, in the Office of the Time, just before his appearance on the Cycle of holy Church, excited the Christian people to joy, and roused its fervor; it reminded them, that one of their best and dearest protectors would soon be visiting them.

At the time when St. Paul was writing to the Philippians, Clement, who was long to survive the Apostles, was prominently one of those men spoken of in our Epistle,—that is, one of the followers of those illustrious models, who were called to perpetuate in the flock confided to their care, the pattern, of holy living; and that, not so much by their zealous teaching, as by the force of example. The Church, the One true Bride of the divine Word, was known by the incommunicable privilege of possessing within her the Truth,—not only its dead letter, but its ever living self, and this, by her holiness. The Holy Ghost has not kept the books of sacred Scripture from passing into the hands of the sects separated from the center of unity; but, he has reserved to the Church the treasure of tradition, which transmits, surely and fully, from one generation to another, the Word who is light and life; yes, this tradition is kept up by the truth and holiness of the Man-God; they are ever existing in his members, they are ever tangible and visible in the Church. Holiness, which is inherent in the Church, is tradition in its purest and strongest form, because it is the truth, not only preached, but reduced to action and work, as it was in Christ Jesus, and as it is in God. It is the deposit, which the disciples of the Apostles had the mission to hand faithfully down to their successors, just as the Apostles themselves had received it from the Word, who had come upon the earth.

Hence, St. Paul did not content himself with entrusting dogmatic teaching to his disciple Timothy; he said to him: Be thou an example to the Faithful, in word, and in living. He said much the same to Titus: Show thyself an example of good works, in doctrine and in integrity of life. He repeated to all: Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. He sent Timothy to the Corinthians, that he might remind them, or, where it was necessary, might teach them, not only the dogmas of his Gospel, but, likewise, his ways in Christ Jesus, that is, his manner of life; for, this manner of life of the Apostle was, in a certain measure, his teaching everywhere in all the Churches; and he lauded the Faithful of Corinth for their being mindful to imitate him in all things, which was a keeping to the tradition of Christ. As for the Thessalonians, they had so thoroughly entered into this teaching, taken from their Apostle’s life, that, as St. Paul says of them, they had become a pattern to all believers; this silent teaching of Christian revelation, which they showed forth in their conduct, made it superfluous for the messengers of the Gospel to say much.

The Church is a magnificent Temple, which is built up, to the glory of God, by the living stones which let themselves be set into its walls. The constructing of those sacred walls, and on the plan laid down by Christ, is a work in which all are permitted to share. What one does by word, another does by good example; but, both of them build, both of them edify the holy City; and, as it was in the Apostolic Age, so always,—example is more powerful than word, unless that word be backed by the authority of holiness in him who speaks it, unless, that is, he lead a life according to the perfection taught by the Gospel.

But, as the giving edification to those around him, is an obligation incumbent on the Christian,—an obligation imposed both by charity he owes to his neighbor, and by the zeal he should have for the house of God,—so, likewise, under pain of presumption, he should seek his own edification in the conduct of others. The reading of good books, the study of the Lives of the Saints, the observing, as our Epistle says, the respectfully observing those holy people with whom he lives,—all this will be incalculable aid to him, in the work of his own personal sanctification and in the fulfilment of God’s purposes in his regard. This devout intercourse with the elect of earth and heaven, will keep us away from men who are enemies of the Cross of Christ and mind earthly things, and put their happiness in carnal pleasures. It will make our conversation be in heaven. Preparing for the day which cannot now be far off,—the day of the Coming of our Lord, we shall stand fast in Him, in spite of the falling off of so many amongst us, who, by the current of the world’s fashion, are hurried into perdition. The troubles and sufferings of the last times will but intensify our hope in God, for they will make us long all the more ardently for the happy day, when our Redeemer will appear and complete the work of the salvation of his servants, by imparting, to their very flesh, the brightness of his own divine Body. Let us, as our Apostle says, be of one mind in the Lord; and, then, as he bids his dear Philippians do, let us rejoice in the Lord always, yes, let us rejoice, for, the Lord is nigh.

Liberasti nos, Domine, ex affligentibus nos: et eos qui nos oderunt, confudisti.
Thou hast saved us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us.

℣. In Deo laudabimur tota die, et in nomine tuo confitebimur in sæcula.
℣. In God shall we glory all the day long; and, in thy name, we will give praise for ever.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine exaudi orationem meam. Alleluia.
℣. Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. Ch. ix.

At that time: As Jesus was speaking to the multitude: Behold a certain ruler came up, and adored him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus rising up followed him, with his disciples. And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout, He said: Give place, for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that country.

Quote:Although the choice of this Gospel for the twenty-third Sunday has not great antiquity on its side, yet is it in most perfect keeping with the post-pentecostal Liturgy, and confirms what we have stated, relative to the character of this portion of the Church’s Year. St. Jerome tells us, in the homily selected for the day, that the Hemorrhoissa, healed by our Lord, is a type of the Gentile world; while the Jewish people is represented by the daughter of the Ruler of the Synagogue. This latter is not to be restored to life, until the former has been cured; and this is precisely the mystery we are so continually commemorating during these closing weeks of the Liturgical Year,—the fullness of the Gentiles recognizing the welcoming the divine Physician, and the blindness of Israel, at last giving way to the Light.

We have celebrated, during this Year of Grace, all the grand Mysteries of the Redemption, and this ought to enable us to appreciate the glorious economy, as the Fathers love to call what we admire under another name. The spirit of the Church’s Liturgy at this close of her and our Year, lets us see the world, as though its end were come; it looks as though it were sinking away, down into some deep abyss,—and yet, no; it is only that it may shake off the wicked from its surface, and then, it will come up again blooming in light and love. All this has been the divine reality of the Year of Grace we have had put before us, yea, and in us, by our sweet Mother the Church; and now, we are, or ought to be, in a mood to feel a thrill of admiration at the mysterious, yet, at the same time, the strong and sweet ways of eternal Wisdom. At the beginning, when Man was first created, sin soon followed, breaking up the harmony of God’s beautiful world, and throwing man off the divine path where his Creator had placed him. Time and wickedness went on; till there was a family, on which God’s mercy fell; the light which beamed on that privileged favorite, only showed the plainer the thick darkness in which the rest of mankind was vegetating. The Gentiles, abandoned to their misery,—all the more terrible, because they had caused it, and loved it,—saw God’s favors all bestowed on Israel, while themselves were disregarded, and wished to be so. Even when the time came for original sin to be remedied, it seemed as though that was just the time for the final reprobation of the Gentiles,—for, the salvation that came down from heaven in the person of the Man-God, was seen to be exclusively directed towards the Jews and the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

But, the people that had been treated with so much predilection, and whose Fathers and first Rulers had so ardently prayed for the coming of the Messias, was no longer up to the position made for it by the holy patriarchs and prophets. Its beautiful religion, founded as it was on desire and hope, was then nothing but a sterile expectancy, which kept it motionless, and unable to advance a single step towards its Redeemer. As to its Law, Israel then minded nothing but the latter, and, at last, turned it into a mummy of sectarian formalism. Now, while in spite of all this sinful apathy, it was mad with jealousy, pretending that no one else had any right to heaven’s favors,—the Gentiles, whose ever increasing misery urged him to go in search of some deliverer, found one, and recognized him in Jesus the Savior of the world; he was confident that this Jesus could cure him; so he took the bold initiative, went up to Him, and had the merit of being the first to be healed. True, our Lord had treated him with apparent disdain; but that had only had the effect of intensifying his humility, and humility has a power of making way anywhere, even into heaven itself.

Israel, therefore, was now made to wait. One of the Psalms he sang, ran thus: Ethiopia shall be the first to stretch out her hands to God. It is now the turn for Israel to recover, by the pangs of a long abandonment, the humility which had won the divine promises for his Fathers, the humility which alone could merit his seeing those promises fulfilled.

By this time, however, the world of salvation has made itself heard throughout all the nations, healing and saving all who desired the blessing. Jesus, who had been delayed on the road, came at last to the house, towards which he first purposed to direct his sacred steps; he reached, at last the house of Juda, where the daughter of Sion was in a deep sleep; she is in it still! His almighty compassion drives away from the poor abandoned one the crowd of false teachers and lying prophets, who had sent her into that mortal sleep, by all the noise of their vain babbling: he casts forth forever from her house those insulters of his own divine self, who were quite resolved to keep the dead one dead. Taking the poor daughter by the hand, he restores her to life, and to all the charm of her first youth; proving thus, that her apparent death had been but a sleep, and that the long delay of dreary ages could never belie the word of God, which he had given to Abraham, his servant.

Now therefore, let this world of ours hold itself in readiness for its final transformation; for the tidings of the restoration of the daughter of Sion puts the last seal to the accomplishment of the prophecies. It remains now but for the graves to give back their dead. The valley of Josaphat is preparing for the great meeting of the nations; Mount Olivet is once more to have Jesus standing upon it, but, this time, as Lord and Judge!

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: Domine, exaudi orationem meam: de profundis clavi ad te, Domine.
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer: out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord!

The service we pay to God is, of itself, far beneath what his sovereign Majesty deserves; but the Sacrifice, which, every day, constitutes part of our service, ennobles it even to an infinite worth, and supplies all our own deficiencies of merit. This is what we are told in this Sunday’s Secret.

Pro nostræ servitutis augmento sacrificium tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus: ut, quod immeritis contulisti, propitius exequaris. Per Dominum.
We offer thee, O Lord, this sacrifice of praise, as a repeated token of our homage; that thou mayest mercifully accomplish in us, what thou hast already granted, beyond our deserts. Through, &c.

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

Having, by thse sacred Mysteries, entered into a participation of divine life, let us beseech our Lord, that we may no longer be subject to the dangers of this world. Let us say with the Church:

Amen dico vobis, quidquid orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et fiet vobis.
Amen I say unto you,—all things whatsoever ye ask for when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive, and it shall be done unto you.

Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O almighty God, that thou wouldst not permit to be subject to the dangers of this human life, those whom thou hast admitted to the joyful participation of thy divine life. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions, as in the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.
Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

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"And when the multitude was put forth, he went in and took her by the hand, and the maid arose."

"I will lead thee into solitude, and there speak to thy heart." These are the words of the Holy Ghost, in the Canticle of Canticles, and indicate the disposition which a soul striving after perfection must have in order to receive the inspirations of that Spirit of Love, take them to heart, and follow the call of divine grace.

In seeking perfection several things are essential, viz., love of solitude, a refraining from useless conversation, and from all that tends to distract the soul from that desired end. A similar course must be pursued when a sinner is to be aroused from that spiritual death which sin has brought upon his soul, and to this the Gospel of today has reference.

Jesus was called to the house of a ruler, where He found a multitude gathered, for death had taken away his daughter in her youth.

But Jesus did not perform the miracle until the noisy multitude was put forth, for the expression of Holy Scripture is literally "put forth,"--from which we are led to infer that the crowd did not go willingly, but resisted those who obeyed the command of our Saviour and required them to leave. Dearly beloved in Christ, let us apply this circumstance to the conversion of a sinner from his dangerous state.

Before that sinner can be restored from spiritual death to eternal life, his heart must be free from all strife and tumult. And what is this commotion which rages in his heart? We will consider it briefly today.

Mary, princess of peace, we pray thee, calm the storm that sweeps over the sinner's poor soul, that, when Jesus bids him "arise," he may listen to His voice! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God !

But if the sinner does not hear the sweet voice of his Saviour, or if it sound to his unwilling ear as the echo of some voice far away, or, if hearing it, he cares not to turn and obey the call, it is because his heart is always absorbed in the dissipations of this world.

First, there is the tumult of the passions in the heart of the sinner, who is borne hither and thither, swayed now by one evil impulse and then by another of the various sins which have become habitual to him. This tumult is like the raging of the sea, when the roaring of the angry waves prevents one from hearing the voice of another who calls from afar. Cast but one glance at the tempest-tossed life of the sinner, or even look into your own heart, and you may see there the reality of what I have described. of pride holds sway. Day and night he is engrossed by thoughts and schemes to mount higher and higher, until he reaches the most exalted pinnacle--of earthly fame. And, oh ! how wildly rages the tumult in his heart, when his well-devised schemes have failed to gain his ends ; and, instead of honor and fame, his only reward is the scorn and contempt of men. With his heart thus filled with conflicting emotions, there is no room for any thought of God to enter there.

The ruling passion of another is avarice. Poor, tempest-tossed sinner! The noisy multitude clamoring in his heart will not let him hear the voice of Jesus, which bids him arise. Those endless schemes to increase his store, to amass riches until the worshipers of mammon will bow down before him, cause the tumult, which must cease before he can hearken to the call of grace. He knows no rest, fearing to be deprived of his prized wealth, his cherished treasure, but caring not to lay it away where neither moth nor rust can destroy nor thieves break in and bear it away. Should his fears be realized, the tumult rages more fiercely than ever; and, until the noisy multitude be put forth, there can be no thought of an earnest conversion to God.

But what words can be found to adequately express the state of that sinner who is held fast in the thralldom of lust! By day and by night the tumult of his passions rages so fiercely that he is entirely deaf to the voice of that Saviour who calls on him to repent, and whose loving, compassionate heart will not refuse pardon even to him !

Another allows anger and impatience to rage in his breast, and the tumultuous thoughts which arise therefrom, the feelings of revenge and hostility which abound, drown the voice of Jesus. Yes, and so loud is the tumult, so deafening its roar, that it is often heard afar off in quarrels and contentions, in blasphemy. Even murder results from anger. Until this noisy multitude is put forth, the sinner will be deaf to the voice of his God.

What confusion and tumult prevails in the heart of the drunkard ! The despicable vice of intemperance leads its victims to forget every thing their families, their honor, their religion, for drink winds round them a chain which they care not to break, and begets a tumult within and without. Look at the drunkard, as he emerges from some midnight revel, caring naught for the warning of his friends, the admonitions of his pastor, or the pleading of his Saviour for admission into his degraded heart. Not until the noisy multitude is put forth, can Jesus bid him arise from spiritual death.

With others the passion of envy is the principal failing, and it is a constant source of agitation to those who indulge in it. Torn by conflicting emotions at the sight of the happiness which others enjoy, the victim of envy feels no rest nor peace in his miserable heart. In his futile repinings, he opens that heart to a noisy multitude of rebellious murmurings; and how can he listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Love, until their clamor is stilled?

Neither does the vice of sloth exempt the heart of the sinner from the presence of that multitude, the clamor of which entirely drowns the Saviour's voice.

On the contrary, the Christian, whose ruling passion it is, is particularly prone to dissipations and distractions; and the deadly lethargy which possesses him renders him powerless to still the tumult and put the multitude forth.

To all who listen today to my voice I would say: Empty your hearts, and cultivate that spirit of recollection which will make you realize what alone is necessary to work out your salvation. Few, in the light of that eternity which draws nearer each moment, the vanity and nothingness of all that for which you so eagerly strive. Nothing so earnestly conduces to a true conversion as frequent meditation on death.

"And when the multitude was put forth, Jesus went in and took her by the hand." A vivid realization of the certainty of death and its rapid approach takes the sinner, as it were, by the hand to raise him from his lethargy.

Besides this interior tumult engendered by the various passions, there are also many exterior circumstances which keep him in a state of constant disgust. Nay, even the Christian, who is not guilty of very grievous offenses, experiences this also.

First, there are the thousand distractions of daily life which crowd upon the man who, wholly taken up with the idea of providing for his support as well as he can, and, perhaps, of laying up the wealth of this world, can not spare time to think of the next. He is too busy to burst the bonds of sin and be converted to God.

The busy signs of life in a large city, the constant turmoil, the ceaseless hurrying to and fro of crowds in eager pursuit of some favorite aim, all show how little consideration is given to the solemn truth that we are destined to die.

Even those who are placed above the necessity of working for their maintenance, nevertheless find ample excuse for directing their thoughts from heaven and God. Some are so engrossed with politics, with schemes and plans for the advancement of themselves, of their friends, or of their party, that they forget to pray, or to fulfill their duties as Catholics. If the whispers of conscience can not be entirely stilled, their cry is: "Tomorrow! tomorrow!" and so day after day passes by, until, without warning, the end craweth nigh, and then cometh the night "wherein no man can work." The votary of pleasure plunges recklessly into every dissipation, drinking deeply of the poisoned cup, and seeking thus vainly to gratify passion, which, alas, is insatiable! Mark it well, most beloved in Christ, that Jesus did not restore the dead girl to life until the noisy multitude was put forth. Then drive from your hearts and banish forever the tumultuous multitude of thoughts and temptations which these seven deadly sins engender therein.

Meditate upon death, remember your last end, and you will repent of your sins; your Saviour, who died for you upon the cross, will bid your souls arise from the sleep of spiritual death, and may God grant that you will hearken to His voice ! Amen !

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"And they laughed Him to scorn."--Matt. 9, 24.

The noisy multitude mocked and laughed at Jesus. The soldiers of the governor assembled together, and after having removed His garments, they, in derision, put a scarlet cloak about Him, and a crown of thorns upon His head, and a reed for a scepter in His hand, while they heaped every insult upon Him. But not only the rabble treated Him thus; for Herod and his wicked courtiers loaded this meek and suffering Saviour of the world with every species of ignominy which malice could suggest !

Even when He hung in agony upon the cross, to consummate the great work of redemption, the Pharisees stood beneath and laughed Him to scorn! But, lo! the sun was darkened, the earth trembled to her very depths, the dead arose and walked abroad , the veil in the temple was rent asunder; for nature, appalled at the mighty wrong that had been wrought by man, gave evidence of her grief and woe. Then, those who had been loudest in their wicked treatment of our Saviour were terrified, and went away filled with confusion!

As Christ was treated, my brethren, so will be treated all those who follow His divine example by walking in the sorrowful way of the cross. As He was persecuted, so will His devoted children be persecuted; as He was reviled, so will they be covered with scorn; as He was nailed to the cross, so must they expect to be nailed to the cross of mortification and ignominy. Christ has foretold this, and as He Himself says: "The disciple is not greater than his Master."

Thus it was in ages past, and thus it will continue. The Pagan world mocked and derided the Church of God, and those who are not of her fold do it today. The heretic, the apostate, and the Christian who is so in name alone, fling insults and scorn at the Church and her faithful children, and their wickedness shall not cease until time shall be no more ! But, my dear brethren, you who are striving to fulfill the holy will of your divine Master, do not permit this mockery to disturb yon, but rather let it be a subject of joy !

Mary, who beneath the cross, didst bear with unshaken courage the cruel mockeries offered to thy divine Son, assist us to accept with patience, and even joy, for Christ s sake, the affronts which we, as Catholics, may have to bear! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God !

Among the innumerable weapons by which hell, with its earthly accomplices, seeks to attack and assault the Church, the kingdom of God, collectively and individually, there is none that works such irremediable mischief as ridicule. Regarded in itself, it seems to be harmless, and incapable of gaining even a passing notice from those against whom it is aimed; but, alas ! it is not so, for a dread of being laughed at has not only, in many instances, kept Protestants and infidels from entering that Church which, in their hearts, they believe to be the only one wherein salvation is to be found, but it has been effective in preventing the return to God of those who have strayed from the path of virtue ! Alas! that terrible fear that worldlings will laugh at their piety, has proved the eternal ruin of many a soul! What folly to regard the mockery of poor worms of the earth like themselves! Let us briefly consider who are they who ridicule us if we openly profess our faith, and live, according to its divine teachings, pious, pure, and holy lives.

Even though they may be sceptered monarchs, adorned with glittering diadems, and seated upon lofty thrones, they are poor frail mortals, mortals doomed to die,--whose appearance in a few short days after death will be most revolting, subjects, not indeed for ridicule, but for the deepest disgust! They are men with perhaps the guilt of mortal sin upon their souls, in whom are verified the description of Christ : Being born of the devil, and resembling him!

Oh, could we but see the deformity of a soul in this diabolical state, we would almost die of horror ! Who are they who ridicule the faithful children of God ? They are mortals who must one day be called before the judgment-seat of Christ, and, if they appear before that terrible tribunal, weighed down with the guilt of that mockery upon their souls, they will surely be among those who, on the last day, will cry out : "Woe to us, fools, who laughed and derided them, and now they are among the children of light ; but the way of truth was not with us!" Who are those scoffers? Men who, when on the last great day, the most hidden crimes will be revealed, will shriek aloud, begging the mountains to fall on them, and the hills to cover them up, but instead they will be covered with ignominy and scorn. Then will they be forced to hear, extended by Christ to the just, the gracious invitation: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world;" while upon them will be pronounced the terrible sentence: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire," and they will descend body and soul into hell!

Thus will the Lord fulfill His promise: "Whosoever will confess Me before man, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven," before all the angels and saints, when I shall come in all My power and majesty, to render to every man accord ing to his works!

Let these considerations induce you, my brethren, to disregard the ridicule aimed at you by the enemies of our holy faith, who mock at and revile all those who strive to show forth by their lives that theirs is not a dead, but a living faith. They despise those who live not to amass the treasures of this world, but to lay up everlasting riches in a happy eternity, who care not to seek the transitory honors and empty favor of this world, when a few brief years of self-denial will put them into possession of eternal joys!

They despise you because you believe, and yet how many unanswerable arguments prove the truth of faith as Christ announced it to the world ! When Jesus raised the dead daughter of the ruler to life, admiration and wonder took the place of derision !

This miracle and numberless others, as well as the resurrection of Christ Himself, ratify the truths of faith, which are supported, moreover, by the testimony of the Prophets, illustrated by the holiness of the Gospel's teachings, by all the glorious labors of Holy Church for the salvation of the human race, by the virtuous lives not only of many who are still living upon earth, but also of those who, by the sanctity of their lives, have merited to be pronounced saints by this Holy Catholic Church, and are in heaven!

Is there anything more glorious than this Holy Church which we call our mother, to which Christ has assigned such pre-eminence by her four marks. She is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic; and, for over eighteen hundred years, she has illumined and enlightened the world. Is there not every reason to be proud of being children of this glorious mother?

Ah, my dear friends, the enemies of the Church have no reason to revile those who live as her true children. They ridicule the practice of prayer, knowing nothing of the sweetness contained therein, and utterly ignorant that the fervent Catholic enjoys a happiness to them incomprehensible of union with God while yet on earth, and an abundance of spiritual favors therefrom. They laugh at you because you assist at divine service, in their ignorance of the sublimity of that sacrifice which the Church offers up, and the graces contained in the reception of the most adorable Sacrament of the altar.

They laugh at you, faithful Catholics, because you do not rush eagerly in pursuit of worldly riches, honors and pleasures, but prefer those which are eternal. They despise you because, like Solomon, you feel impelled to exclaim: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," save to love and serve God. Why? St. Augustine tells us when he says that God has created our hearts for Himself, and that they shall find no rest until they rest in Him. Therefore, let us never lose courage when we are laughed at for doing our duty, nor be dejected when we are striving to follow the example of the crucified One, who was mocked and derided and cruelly reviled. Then, through Him, we will one day be eternally glorified in that heavenly home where, with the whole celestial host, we will entone the praises of our Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!
Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori for Sundays Throughout the Year

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
on Impenitence

Lord, my daughter is even now dead.” Matt. ix. 18

How great is God’s goodness! how difficult it is to obtain pardon from a man whom we have offended! when sinners cast themselves at the feet of the Lord with humility and with sorrow for having offended him, he instantly pardons and embraces them. ”Turn to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn to you.” (Zach. i. 3.) Sinners, says the Lord, I have turned my back on you, because you first turned your back on me: return to me, and I will return to you and will embrace you. When rebuked by the Prophet Nathan, David repented, and said: ”I have sinned against the Lord; I have offended my God.” David was instantly pardoned: for at the very moment that he confessed his guilt, Nathan said to him: “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin.” (2 Kings xii. 13.) But let us come to the gospel of the day, in which we find that a certain ruler, whose daughter was dead, went immediately to Jesus Christ, and asked him to restore her to life: ”Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.” In explaining this passage, St. Bonaventure turns to the sinner, and says: “Your daughter is your soul; she even now is deadly sin; hasten your conversion.” Brother, your soul is your daughter, that has just died by committing sin. Return immediately to God. Hasten; if you delay, and defer your conversion from day to day, the wrath of God shall suddenly come upon you, and you shall be cast into hell. ”Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day.” (Eccl. v. 8, 9.) Behold the sermon for this day, in which I will show, first, the danger to which he who is in the state of sin, and defers his conversion, is exposed; and secondly, the remedy to be adopted by him who is in sin, and wishes to save his soul.

First Point. The danger to which a person in sin, who defers his conversion, is exposed.

1. St. Augustine considers three states of Christians. The first is the state of those who have always preserved their baptismal innocence; the second is the state of those who have fallen into sin, and have afterwards returned to God, and persevered in grace; the third is of those who have fallen and have always relapsed into sin, and are found in that unhappy state at death. Speaking of the first and second class, he pronounces them secure of salvation; but, speaking of the third he says: “Non dico, non præsumo, non promitto.” (Hom, xli. int. 50.)”I do not say; I do not presume; I do not promise.” He neither says, nor presumes, nor promises, that such sinners are saved. From these words it appears that, in his opinion, it is very improbable that they obtain eternal life. St. Thomas teaches (2, 2, qu. 109, a. 8) that he who is in the state of mortal sin cannot long abstain from the commission of some new sin. And St. Gregory says: “A sin which is not blotted out by repentance by its weight soon draws to another sin; hence it is not only a sin, but the cause of sin.” (1. 3, Mor. c. ix.) One sin is the cause of another, because, in the sinner reason is disordered, and inclines him to evil; and therefore he cannot long resist temptation. ”Quando,” says St. Anselm, ”quis manet in peccato, ratio jam est deordinata et ideo veniente tentatione faciet id quod est facilius agere.” Hence, according to the holy doctor, though they understand the great advantage of sanctifying grace, sinners, because they are deprived of grace, always relapse, in spite of all their efforts to avoid sin. ”Per peccatum non potest prosequi bonum quod cogniscit, conatur et labitur.” But how can the branch that is cut off from the vine produce fruit? “As,” says Jesus Christ, “the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John xv. 4.)

2. But some young persons may say: “I will hereafter give myself to God.” Behold the false hope of sinners, which leads them to remain in sin till death, and from death conducts them to hell! Who are you that say, you will hereafter give yourself to God? But who, I ask, promises you that you shall have time to give yourself to God, and that you shall not meet with a sudden death, which will take you out of this world before you give yourself to him? “He,” says St. Gregory, “who has promised pardon to penitents has not promised tomorrow to sinners.” (Hom. xii. in Ev.) The Lord has promised pardon to all who repent of their sins; but to those who wish to continue in sin he has not promised time for repentance. Do you say, hereafter? But Jesus Christ tells you that time is in the hand of God, and not under your control. ”It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father has put in his own power.” (Acts i. 7.) We read in the Gospel of St. Luke, that Jesus Christ, seeing a fig-tree which was fruitless for three years, ordered it to be cut down. “He said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and I find none. Cut it down therefore. Why cumbereth it the ground ?” (Luke xiii. 7.) Tell me, you who say that you will hereafter give yourself to God, for what purpose does he preserve your life? Is it that you may continue to insult him by sin? No; he gives you life that you may renounce sin, and change your conduct. ”Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?” (Rom. ii. 4.) But you are resolved not to amend; and if you wish to give yourself to God only hereafter, he will say of your soul to the dresser of his vineyard: “Cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground?” Why should such a sinner be allowed to remain on earth? Is it to continue to offend me? Cat down this fruitless tree, and cast it into the fire. ”Every tree, therefore, that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt. iii. 10.)

3. But, should God hereafter give you time for repentance, will you, if you do not now repent, return to him hereafter? Sins, like so many chains, keep the sinner in bondage. ”He is first bound with the ropes of his own sins.” (Prov. v. 22.) My brother, if you cannot now break the cords by which you are at present bound, will you be able to break them hereafter, when they shall be doubled by the commission of new sins? To give him an idea of the degree of folly which impenitent sinners reach, our Lord showed one day to the Abbot Arsenius, an Ethiopian, who, not being able to raise a load of faggots, added to their weight, and thus became less liable to raise it. Sinners, said the Saviour to the holy abbot, act in a similar manner. They wish to get rid of their past sins, and, at the same time, commit new ones. These new sins shall lead them into others more numerous and more enormous. Cain sinned against his brother, first, by envy; then, by hatred; and afterwards, by murder; finally, he despaired of the divine mercy, saying: “My iniquity is greater than that I may obtain pardon.” (Gen. iv. 13.) Judas also was first guilty of the sin of avarice; he then betrayed Jesus Christ, and afterwards hanged himself. Sins chain the sinner, and make him their slave, so that he knowingly brings himself to destruction. ”His own iniquities catch the wicked.” (Prov. v. 22.)

4. Moreover, his sins weigh down the sinner to such a degree, that he no longer regards heaven nor his own salvation. “My iniquities,” said David with tears, “are growing over my head, and, as a heavy burden, are become heavy upon me.” (Ps. xxxvii. 5.) Hence the miserable man loses reason, thinks only of earthly goods, and thus forgets the divine judgments. ”And they perverted their own minds, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments.” (Dan. xiii. 9.) He even hates the light, because he fears that it will interrupt his criminal pleasures. ”Every one that doth evil hateth the light.” (John iii. 20.) Hence, he becomes miserably blind, and goes round about continually from sin to sin. ”The wicked walk round about.” (Ps. xi. 9.) He then despises admonitions, divine calls, hell, heaven, and God. “The wicked, when he is come into the depth of sins, comtemneth.” (Prov. xviii. 3.)

5. ”He hath,” says Job, “torn me with wound upon wound, he hath rushed in upon me like a giant.” (Job xvi. 15.) By conquering one temptation, a man acquires not only additional strength to repel future assaults, but also diminishes the power of the devil. And, on the other hand, when we yield to any temptation, the devil becomes like a giant, and we become so weak, that we have scarcely strength to resist him any longer. If you receive a wound from an enemy you lose strength. If to this new wounds be added you shall be exhausted, and rendered unable to defend yourself. This is what happens to the fools who say: “I will here after give myself to God.” How can they resist the attacks of the devil, after they have lost their strength, and after their wounds have mortified? “My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.” (Ps. xxxvii. 6.) At its commencement a wound is easily healed; but when it becomes gangrenous, the cure is most difficult. Recourse must be had to the cautery; but even this remedy is in many cases ineffectual.

6. But further, St. Paul teaches, that God “will have all men to be saved”(1 Tim. ii. 4); and that Jesus Christ came on earth for the salvation of sinners: ”Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners.” (1 Tim. i. 15.) God certainly wills the salvation of all who desire it: he wills the salvation of those who wish to save their souls; but not of those who labour for their own damnation. Jesus Christ has come to save sinners. To save our souls, two things are necessary: first, the grace of God; and secondly, your own cooperation.  “Behold, I stand at the gate and knock: if any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come unto him.” (Apoc. iii. 20.) Then, in order that God may enter into us by his grace, we must, on our part, ohey his calls, and open our hearts to him. Likewise, St. Paul says, “with fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Phil. ii. 12.) He says, work out. Then we, too, must cooperate to our salvation by good works; otherwise the Lord will only give us sufficient grace by which we shall be able to save our souls, but by which we certainly will not save them. Behold, the reason: he who is in the state of sin, and continues to commit sin, is daily more and more attached to the flesh, and more removed from God. Now, how can God, by his grace, approach to us, when we withdraw farther from him? He then retires from us, and becomes less liberal of his favours. ”And I will make it desolate and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.” (Isa. v. 6.) When the soul continues to offend God he abandons her, and withdraws his helps. Hence she shall cease to feel remorse of conscience; she shall be left without light; and the blindness of her understanding and the hardness of her heart shall be increased. She shall become utterly insensible to the calls of God, to the maxims of faith, and to the melancholy examples of other rebellious souls that have closed their career in hell.

7. “But who knows,” the obstinate sinner will say, “but God will show me the same mercy which he has shown to certain great sinners?” In answer to this, St. Chrysostom says: “Fortasse dabit, inquis: cur dicis fortasse? Con- tigit aliquando; sed cogita quod de anima deliberas?” (Hom. xxii. in 2 Cor.) You say: “Perhaps God will give me the grace of salvation. But why do you say perhaps? Is it because he has sometimes given to great sinners the grace of eternal life? But remember, says the holy doctor, that there is question of your soul, which, if once lost, is lost forever. I, too, take you up, and admit that God has, by certain extraordinary graces, saved some enormous sinners. But these cases are very rare; they are prodigies and miracles of grace, by which God wished to show the boundlessness of his mercy. But, ordinarily, sinners who wish to continue in sin, are, in the end, cast into hell. On them are executed the threats of the Lord against obstinate sinners. ”You have despised my counsels, and neglected my reprehensions. I also will laugh in your destruction. . . . Then they will call on me, and I will not hear.” (Prov. i. 25, 26, 28.) I, says the Lord, have called on them again and again, but they have refused to hear me. ”But they did not hear nor incline their ears; but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me.” (Jer. xvii. 23.) Now they call upon me, it is but just that I refuse to listen to their cries. God bears, but he does not bear forever; when the time of vengeance arrives he punishes past and present iniquities. ”For the Most High is a patient rewarder.” (Eccl. v. 4.) And according to St. Augustine, the longer God has waited for negligent sinners the more severely he will chastise them. “Quanto diutius expectat Deus, ut emenderis; tanto gravius judicabit, si neglexeris.” (Lib. de util. ag. prcn.) He who promises to amend, and wilfully neglects to return to God, is unworthy of the grace of true re pentance.

8. But God is full of mercy . He is full of mercy; but he is not so stupid as to act without reason: to show mercy to those who continue to insult him would be stupidity, and not goodness. ”Is thy eye evil because I am good?” (Matt. xx. 15.) Will you persevere in wickedness because I am bountiful? God is good, but he is also just, and exhorts us all to observe his law, if we wish to save our souls. “If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments.” (Matt. xix. 17.) Were God to show mercy to the wicked as well as to the just, and to give to all the grace of conversion before death, he would hold out a strong temptation even to the saints to commit sin: but, no! when his mercies have reached their term he punishes, and pardons no more. “And my eye shall not spare thee, and I will show thee no pity.” (Ezec. vii. 4.) Hence he says: Pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath.” (Matt. xxiv. 20.) We are prevented from working in the winter by the cold, and on the Sabbath by the law. In this passage the Redeemer gives us to understand that, for impenitent sinners, a time shall come when they would wish to give themselves to God, but shall find themselves prevented by their bad habits from returning to him. Of this there are numberless melancholy examples. In his sermons on a happy death, Cataneus relates, that a dissolute young man, when admonished to give up his wickedness, said: I have a saint who js omnipotent, and this is the mercy of God. Death came; the unhappy man sent for a confessor; but while he was preparing for confession, the Devil wrote down before his eyes all his sins. He was seized with terror, and exclaimed: Alas! what a long catalogue of sins! And before he was able to make his confession he expired. In his sermons for Sundays Campadelli relates that a young nobleman addicted to sins of the flesh, was warned by God and by men to amend his life; but he despised all their admonitions. He afterwards fell into a severe illness, confessed his sins, and promised to change his life; but, after his recovery, he returned to the vomit. Behold the vengeance of God! Being one day in a field during the vintage, he took fever, went home, and feeling that the disease was far advanced, he sent in haste for a priest who lived near the house. The priest comes, enters the house, salutes the sick man, but sees a frightful spectacle, the eyes and mouth open, the face black as jet. He calls the sick man, but finds that he is dead. Dearly beloved brethren, take care that you, too, be not miserable examples of the justice of God. Give up sin; but give it up from this moment; for, if you continue to commit sin, the same vengeance which has fallen on so many others shall also fall on you. Let us come to the remedy.

Second Point. The remedy for those who find themselves in sin, and wish to save their souls.

9. Jesus Christ was one day asked, if the number of the elect is small. ”Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and they shall not be able.” (Luke xiii. 23, 24.) He says that many seek to enter heaven, but do not enter; and why? Because they wish to obtain eternal life without inconvenience, and without making strong efforts to abstain from forbidden pleasures. Therefore, he said: “strive to enter at the narrow gate.” The gate of heaven is narrow: to enter it we must labour, and must do violence to ourselves. And we ought to be persuaded that what we can do today we shall not be always able to do hereafter. The delay of conversion sends many Christians to hell: the weakness, darkness, and obduracy of the soul are, as we have already said, daily increased, and the divine helps are diminished. Thus, the soul shall die in her sins. You say: I will hereafter return to God. Then you know that, to save your soul, you must renounce sin why do you not give it up now that God calls you to repentance? If at some time, says St. Augustine, why not now? The time which you now have to repair the past shall not be given to you hereafter; and the mercy which God shows you at present will not be extended to you at a future time. If, then, you wish to save your soul, do immediately what you must one day do. Go to confession as soon as possible, and tremble lest every delay may be the eternal ruin of your soul.

10. “Nullus,” says St. Fulgentius, “sub spe misericordiæ debet diutius in peccatis remanere, cum nolit in corpore sub spe diutius ægrotare.” (St. Fulg. ad Petr. Diac.) Were a physician, says the saint, to offer you a remedy for sickness, would you say: I do not wish to be cured at present, because I hope to recover hereafter? And when there is a question of the salvation of your soul, you say: I will remain in sin, because I hope that God will be merciful to me at a future time. But if, according to his just judgments, the Lord should not show you mercy hereafter, what shall become of you? shall you not be damned? Let us, says the Apostle, do good while we have time to do it. “Therefore, whilst we have time let us work good to all men.” (Gal. vi. 10.) For time may not be given to us to do good hereafter. Hence the Lord exhorts us to guard our souls with great care; because we know not the hour when he will come to demand an account of our life. “Watch ye, therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.” (Matt. xxv. 18.)

11. “My soul is continually in my hands.” (Ps. cxviii. 109.) He who wears on his finger a ring containing a diamond of great value, looks frequently at the ring to see if the diamond be secure: it is thus we ought to watch over our souls. And should we see that it has been lost by sin, we ought instantly to adopt every means in our power to recover it. We ought to turn immediately to Jesus, our Saviour, like Magdalene, who, as soon as she knew that he sat at meat, ran to him, cast herself at his feet, and by her tears obtained pardon. (Luke vii. 37.)”Now the axe is laid to the root of the tree.” (Luke iii. 9.) For all who are found in sin, the axe of divine justice is at hand to take away their life as soon as the time of vengeance arrives. Arise, then Christian souls, and if you are bound by any bad habit, burst your chains, and remain no longer the slaves of Satan. ”Loose the bonds from off thy neck, captive daughter of Zion.” (Isa. Hi. 2.) “Posuisti vestigium, ” says St. Ambrose, “supra voraginem culpao, cito aufer pedem.” You have placed your foot on the mouth of a vortex that is, on sin, which is the mouth of hell: take away your foot, and retire; otherwise you shall fall into an unfathomable abyss.

12. I find myself subject to an evil habit. But, if you wish to give up sin, who can force you to commit it? All bad habits and all the temptations of hell are overcome by the grace of God. Recommend yourself to the heart of Jesus Christ, and he will give you grace to conquer all enemies. But should you be in any proximate occasion of sin you must immediately take it away, otherwise you shall relapse. ”Potius præscinde,” says St. Jerome, ”quam solve.” Do not wait to loose your bonds gradually; cut them by a single stroke. The devil seeks to make you slow in shaking off your fetters. Look for a good confessor; he will tell you what to do. And should you have the misfortune of falling hereafter into any mortal sin, go immediately to confession, even on the same day or the same night, if you can. Finally, listen to what I now say to you: God is ready to assist you: if you wish, it is in your power to save your souls. Tremble, brethren, lest these words of mine, if you despise them, should be for you so many swords in hell for all eternity.

Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost





[b]Homilies of St. Thomas Aquinas[/b]
Taken from here.


For our conversation is in heaven.”—Philip. iii. 20.

The Apostle in these words teaches that the conversation of the just is in heaven ; so that if we wish to be like them we must not have our conversation about the miseries of this present life, but “in heaven.” The Apostle here lays down three things in regard to the conversation in heaven. Firstly, the reason why we should have our conversation there. Secondly, the nature of that conversation. Thirdly, the similitude between the conversation of the saints and of the angels.

I. On the first head it is to be noted, that the saints have their conversation in heaven for three reasons. (1) For security, for he who has his conversation in heaven is secure from the dangers of this troublesome life: "Lay me down now, and put me in a surety with Thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?" Job xvii. 3. S. Augustine says that he who enters into the joy of his Lord is secure, and will experience the best condition in the best place. (2) On account of delight; for he who has his conversation in heaven will have a continuous joy and delight: "For her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness," Wisd. viii. 16. Seneca compares the mind of the wise to a world above the moon, which is ever calm. (3) On account of the necessity that there is for all earthly things to pass away. The saints know that all the earthly things here quickly are about to pass away; "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall meet with fervent heat ..... . Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," 2 Pet. iii. 10, 14. | 

II. On the second head it is to be noted, that the saints have in heaven a three-fold conversation. (1) In ever thinking over the good things of heaven. (2) In desiring to be ever in heaven. Of these two it is said, such an holy one is held worthily in the memory of man; he has passed over to the joy of angels, since in the body only he is placed in the present conversation, his true conversation being in that heavenly country. (3) The conversation of the saints in heaven consists in their living after the manner of heaven. The Gloss. on the text being, that our conversation is in heaven while we live on earth; because we' have our hope there, and because we are like to the angels both in living and knowing. 

III. On the third head it is to be noted, that the conversation of the saints is like that of the angels in three ways. (1) In purity. (2) In simplicity without guile. (3) In charity. These three are chiefly seen in the angels: simplicity in essence, purity in nature, charity in grace. The conversation of the saints is also in these three: “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,” 2 Cor. i. 12. 


Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth."—S. Matt. xxii. 16.

Our Lord Jesus Christ in these words is commended in three ways. Firstly, from the dignity of His mastership: "Master." Secondly, from the utility of His doctrine: “The way of God." Thirdly, from the equality of His teaching: “Thou regardest not the persons of men.”

I. On the first head it is to be noted, that the dignity of "Master" belongs to Him for four reasons. (1) Because only with Him does truth ever exist: "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well, for so I am," S. John xiii. 13. (2) On account of the power of teaching: "When Jesus had ended these sayings the people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes,” S. Matt. vii. 28, 29. (3) Because He alone was able to teach concerning all things: "Ye have ‘an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things," 1 S.John ii. 20. There is no master able to teach all things gave Our Lord Jesus Christ: "All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with Him, and is before all
time," Ecclus. i. 1. (4) Because He alone is able to teach the hidden man: "Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ," S. Matt. xxiii. 10, Gloss. Because He alone gives understanding.

II. On the second head it is to be noted, that Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us four ways which are greatly profitable. (1) The way of penitence: “Enter ye in at the strait gate ...... because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it," S. Matt. vii. 13, 14. “Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," S. Matt. iv. 17. (2) The way of wisdom: “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom, I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest thy steps shall not be straitened, and when thou runnest thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go,” Prov. iv. 11-14, Gloss. The actions of equity when they begin seem to be confined, but when they advance they seem already from habit to be spacious, and because in base action they labour earnestly they find a stumbling-block in the middle of the course; because suddenly, when they do not foresee, they are seized for punishment. (3) The way of obedience: "Make me to understand the way of Thy precepts,” Ps. cxix. 27. “ A new commandment give I unto you, That ye love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another," S. John xiii. 34, 35. "Yet I shew unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal," 1 Cor. xii. 31, xiii. 1. "He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths," Isa. ii. 3. 

III. On the third head it is to be noted, that Christ is no respecter of persons in four particulars. (1) In justifying: "Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth [him and worketh righteousness is - accepted with Him," Acts x. 34,35. (2) In teaching: “And teachest the way of God in truth." (3) In punishing: "There is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law ..... . the doers of the law shall be justified," Rom. ii. 11-14. (4) In rewarding: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free ...... Knowing that your Master
also is in heaven: neither is there respect of persons with Him,” Eph. vi. 8, 9.
Taken from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Everyday of the Year


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, fulfill in me Your designs of peace and love, making me rise to a life of complete fervor.


1. In spite of our sublime ideal, our ardent desire for sanctity, we always find ourselves full of miseries, always indebted to God. Our souls often tremble with fear in His presence, and we ask ourselves: How will He receive me? Will He turn me away? But the answer is quite different from what we would expect: “The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me and I will hear you, and I will bring back your captivity from all places.” These consoling words, which we read in the Introit of today’s
Mass, open our hearts to the sweetest hopes. God loves us in spite of all. He is always and everywhere our Father, and He desires to free us from the servitude of our passions and from our weaknesses. Then spontaneously the humble invocation of the Collect rises to our lips: “Grant, O Lord, that by Your goodness we may be delivered from the bonds of sin which by our frailty we have committed.” Humility and the sincere acknowledgment of our wrongdoing is always the starting point for conversion.

In the Epistle (Phil 3,17-21-4,1-3) St. Paul speaks to us of conversion: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you weeping, that they are enemies of the Cross of Christ...who mind only the things of earth.” Every time that we shun a sacrifice, that we protest against suffering, that we seek selfish pleasures, we behave, in practice, like enemies of the Cross of Christ. Thus our lives become too earthly, too much attached to creatures, too heavily burdened to rise toward heaven. We must be converted, we must
practice detachment, and remember that “our conversation is in heaven”; to this end, we must willingly embrace the hardships of the return journey to our heavenly homeland. As an encouragement, St. Paul places before our eyes the glory of our eternal life: “Jesus Christ will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory.” These are the “ thoughts of peace,” the great designs of love which our heavenly Father outlines for us: to free us from the bondage of sin, and conform us to His own Son, making us sharers in His glorious resurrection. They are marvelous designs but they will be realized only with our cooperation. “Therefore,” the Apostle beseeches us, “my dearly beloved brethren, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord.” Stand fast, that is, persevere in your conversion, strong in humility, confidence, and love of the Cross.

2. Today’s Gospel (Mi 9,18-26) gives a striking example of the transformation which God desires to accomplish in us. It also shows how He realizes His thoughts of peace in those who approach Him with a humble and trustful heart. First, let us consider the woman troubled with an issue of blood. Her malady was incurable, she had been suffering from it for twelve years, and she had found no remedy. The poor woman, ashamed and humiliated, did not dare, like the other sick persons, to present herself directly to Jesus. However, her faith was so lively that she said within herself: “If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed.” Furtively drawing near to Him she touched the hem of His garment. Jesus noticed that light touch and turning around said: “Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” No petition, no spoken request—but what moved the Lord was the prayer of that humble, trustful heart, so full of faith.

As Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood, so does He wish to heal our souls, but He expects of us dispositions similar to hers. Too often we are content to pray with our lips while our hearts are cold and distant; Jesus, however, looks to the heart; He wants the prayer of the heart, a cry of humility and confidence, a cry which goes straight to His own divine Heart. On the other hand, how much more fortunate are we than that poor sick woman! She succeeded only once in touching the hem of His garment, whereas our souls in Holy Communion may be daily united with His very Body and Blood. Oh! if we only had faith like a grain of mustard seed!

The second miracle followed. The daughter of Jairus was not simply ill, she was dead; but it was no more difficult for Jesus to restore a dead person to life than to heal one who was sick. He, the true Lord of life and death, “took her by the hand and the maid arose.” Jesus is our Resurrection not only for our eternal life when, at a signal from Him, our body will rise glorious and be reunited to our soul; but He is our Resurrection even in this life : our Resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace, our Resurrection
from a lukewarm life to a fervent and holy life.

Let us draw near to Jesus with the humility and confidence of the woman cured of the issue of blood. Let us beg Him with all our hearts to realize in us His designs of love, by drawing us away from the sluggish mediocrity of a spiritual life still entangled in the snares of egoism, and by giving us a strong, determined impetus toward sanctity.


“O Lord, how ill is Your friendship requited by those who so soon become Your mortal enemies again! Of a truth, Your mercy is great; what friend shall we find who is so long-suffering? If once such a cleavage takes place between two earthly friends, it is never erased from the memory and their friendship can never again become as close as before. Yet how often has our friendship for You failed in this way, and for how many years do You await our return to You! May You be blessed, my Lord God, who bear so compassionately with us that You seem to forget Your greatness and do not punish such treacherous treason as this, as would only be right” (T.J. Con, 2).

“O Jesus, You are my peace; for through You I have access to the Father, since it has pleased the Father to grant peace through the Blood of Your Cross to all in heaven and on earth.

“This is Your work as regards every soul of good will; it is what Your immense, Your exceeding charity urges You to do in me. You desire to be my peace.... By the Blood of Your Cross, You will make peace in the little heaven of my soul... You will fill me with Yourself, You will bury me in Yourself, and You will make me live again with You, by Your Life.

“O Jesus, even though I fall at every moment, in trustful faith I shall pray You to raise me up, and I know You will forgive me, and will blot out everything with jealous care. More than that : You will despoil me, deliver me from my miseries, from everything that is an obstacle to Your divine action; and will draw all my powers to Yourself, and make them Your captive.... Then I shall have passed completely into You and shall be able to say: It is no longer I that live; my Master liveth in me” (E.T. J, 12).