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Feast of the Holy Family
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's The Church's Year

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INTROIT (Proverbs 23-25) The father of the Just rejoiceth greatly, let Thy father and Thy mother be joyful, and let her rejoice who bore Thee. -- (Ps.88. 2, 3). How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- The father of the Just . .

COLLECT. O Lord Jesus Christ, who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with unspeakable virtues: grant, that, by the aid of both, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to eternal fellowship with it: Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God . . .

EPISTLE. (Colossians 3: 12-17) Brethren, Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another and forgiving one another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Jesus Christ our Lord.

GRADUAL. (Psalms 26: 4) One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. V. (Ps. 88. 5). Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, O Lord, they shall praise Thee for ever and ever.

LESSER ALLELUIA.  Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Isaias 45. 15). Verily Thou art a hidden King, the God of Israel, the Savior. Alleluia.

TRACT. Hebrews 10:5. Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldst not, but a body Thou has fitted unto me. V. Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou didst not require: then said I: Behold I come. V. In the head of the book it is written of Me that I should do Thy will.

GREATER ALLELUIA.  ALLELUIA, alleluia. V. Blessed is the man that heareth Me and that watcheth daily at My gates, and waiteth at the post of My doors. Alleluia. V. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. Alleluia.

GOSPEL. (Luke 2: 42-52) When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintences. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him they wondered. And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: how is it that you sought Me Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And he went down with them and come to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.

OFFERTORY. (Luke 2:22) The parents of Jesus carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.

SECRET.  We offer unto Thee, O Lord, this propitiatory Sacrifice, humbly entreating Thee: that the intercession of the Virgin Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, Thou wouldst firmly establish our families in Thy peace and grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost God, world without end. Amen.

PREFACE.  (Preface of the Epiphany)  It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; for when Thine only-begotten Son was manifested in the substance of our mortal flesh, with the new light of His own Immortality He restored us. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Throne and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying: Holy, Holy, Holy...

COMMUNION. (Luke 2:51) Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.

POST COMMUNION.  Make us, O Lord Jesus, whom Thou dost refresh with heavenly sacraments, ever to follow the example of Thy Holy Family: that in the hour of our death, the glorious Virgin Thy Mother with blessed Joseph may come to our aid, and we may be found worthy to be received by Thee into everlasting tabernacles. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost . .


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INSTRUCTION FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

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GOSPEL (Lk. 2:42-52). And when Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did ye not know that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wis­dom, and age, and grace with God and men.


Why did our Savior go with His parents to Jerusalem to the temple?


Because God commanded (Deut. 16:16) that all the male Israelites should appear, three times a year on certain festivals, and offer sacrifice to Him in the temple; Jesus fulfilled this commandment to set us an example that we, according to the will of the holy Catholic Church, should willingly and devoutly be present at the services of the Church on Sundays and holydays of obligation. Neither the distance from the church nor the difficulties of the way should prevent our attendance, since Jesus did not shun a three days' journey to the temple.


Why does the gospel say according to the custom of the feast?

That we may understand, that like Mary and Joseph, we should be punctual in observing the ecclesiastical festivals and holy usages, and like true Catholics, should observe them. Parents should require their children at an early age to take part in prayer, attend church and school, and see that they conduct themselves quietly and reverently while there. Mary and Joseph took the holy Child Jesus with them to the temple.


Why did the child Jesus remain in Jerusalem?

Because of His love of prayer and communion with His Heavenly Father, and to show, even then, some rays of His divinity, by which to make known that He had come for the glory of His Father, and to procure our salvation. The glory of God and the salvation of our souls should be our chief object in life.



Why did Mary and Joseph search so diligently for Jesus?


Because they were fearful lest they should lose Him Whom they loved so exceedingly. We should learn from this, how careful we should be not to lose Jesus by sin, or having lost Him, how anxiously we should seek by penance to find Him. The parents of Jesus, by their diligent search and inquiries for the divine Infant, teach and rebuke those parents who care less for the Christian education of their children than for their temporal advantages, who pay no attention to the persons with whom their children associate, nor to the places which they frequent, whether they learn things that are useful to them, and who for the sake of some temporal advantage permit their children sinful intimacy with evil-minded persons. From these parents God will one day demand the souls of their children with severest justice.


Why was our Savior found in the temple in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions?


To teach us that we ought to seek the knowledge necessary for our salvation, and attend carefully to the sermons and instructions on Christian doctrine; we should by no means be ashamed to ask questions of our pastors when we are in doubt, and should listen to their answers. Was Christ, the Eternal Wisdom, ashamed to ask questions and to answer? Why should we ignorant people hesitate? It is much to be regretted that persons who have many important things concerning their spiritual welfare on their minds, through pride and false shame, would rather go to perdition than ask advice, solely for fear of showing their ignorance.


Why did Mary say: Son, why hast thou done so to us?


These words were forced from her by pain at the absence of her Son, Whom she loved above all things, and not by indignation, for He was blameless. Mary's conduct should teach parents to remember their duty of caring for their children, and punish them when they do wrong.


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INSTRUCTION ON THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE

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He was subject to them (Lk. 2:51).

From this all Christians should learn to be obedient to the commandments of God and of the Church. God has united life or death, blessing or malediction with obedience or disobedience to His commandments, and the Bible (I Kings 15:22) shows that obedience pleases God more than sacrifices or the fat of rams, and that He despises disobedience as He does witchcraft and idolatry. We must be obedient to the Church, because Christ Himself with His holy Spirit lives in her, and governs her, and has said: Who hears not the Church, let him be to thee a heathen and a publican, therefore, shut out from eternal life. We must be obedient to our parents, because they are placed over us by God, and we are indebted to them, under Him, for life and many benefits. Those children who do not assist their parents when they are old, poor, and helpless, or are ashamed of them, have reason to be afraid, since even Christ Jesus, the God-Man, was obedient and subject in all things to His poor mother, and to a humble mechanic who was only His foster-father. Cursed be he that honoreth not his father and mother (Deut. 27:16); how much more cursed those who despise, deride and abandon their parents? Their eyes will one day be picked out by ravens (Prov. 30:17). If God commanded obstinate and disobedient children to be stoned (Dent. 21:20), what do those not deserve who even strike or abuse their parents?


How did Jesus advance in age, wisdom and grace?


He showed new effects of the wisdom and grace with which He was filled, as He advanced in years, and thus teaches us to progress the more in virtue, and fulfill the duties of our state in life that we may attain perfection hereafter.


ASPIRATION Most amiable Jesus! Who in the twelfth year of Thy age, didst permit Thyself to be found in the temple by Thy parents, and, as an example for us, wast humbly obedient to them, grant that we may diligently attend to the important affair of our salvation, willingly carry the yoke of Thy law from our youth, and be always obedient to the laws of Thy Church, to our parents, and superiors. Prevent uneducated youth from growing reckless, and preserve them from a scandalous life. Give parents wisdom and grace to educate their children according to Thy will in all virtue. Grant to us all, that we may never lose Thee by sin, or if we have lost Thee, anxiously to seek Thee, happily find Thee, and with Thy grace more and more increase in wisdom and in virtue. Amen.


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TRUE PIETY

They found Him in the temple (Lk. 2:46).

Many people deceive themselves in regard to true piety, because their imagination represents it to them according to the effect produced by their passions or disposition of mind. He who fasts often and willingly believes that he is pious, though in his heart he nourishes a secret hatred, and while he fears to wet the tip of his tongue with wine, even with water, lest he should not live temperately enough, finds pleasure in detraction and slander, that unquenchable thirst for the blood of his neighbor. Another, because he is accustomed daily to recite a long string of prayers, esteems himself pious, though he gives vent afterwards to haughty, bitter, offensive language, hurting people at home and abroad. Another keeps his purse open for the poor, but keeps his heart ever closed to the love of his enemy, whom he will not forgive; another forgives his enemy with all his heart, but will not pay his creditors, until forced by law. All these think themselves pious, and are perhaps so regarded by the world, but in truth they are far from being pious. In what then does true piety consist? In the perfect love of God. This love is called the beautiful love, because it is the ornament of the soul, and attracts to itself with complacency the eyes of the Divine Majesty. When it strengthens us to do good, it is called the strong love; when it causes us to do that good quickly, carefully, and repeatedly, it is called piety. The ostrich has wings, it is true, but never uses them to fly; the chickens fly heavily and not high; but the eagles, the doves, and the swallows, fly high and swiftly, and do not easily tire. The sinners are but earthly people, they creep upon the ground; the just, who are still imperfect, rise, it is true, towards heaven but seldom, and then but slowly and heavily. But there are some, true, pious souls, who like the doves and the eagles soar high on strong, swift wings to God. In a word, piety is nothing else than a certain active, swift energy of the spirit, with which the strong love in us, or we with it, performs, as far as it is possible to us, all good. As the strong love urges us to keep God's commandments, the perfect love, that is, piety, urges us to keep them carefully and with all possible zeal.

No one is just or pious who does not keep all God's commandments without exception; for, to be just we must possess the strong love, and to be pious we must possess besides, a certain eagerness to profit by all the occasions of doing good, that present themselves. Thus St. Francis de Sales writes in his Philothea, from which it is seen that true piety consists not in special devotions, or the practice of special good works, but in the zealous, earnest, continuous obedi­ence to the commandments and performance of duty for the love of God.
Feast of the Holy Family - First Sunday after Epiphany
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger

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This Sunday has been chosen by the Church for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family; the liturgy of the day, as expressed in the Gospel, harmonizes well with the mystery of this Feast, for it carries us forward to the childhood of our Emmanuel and gives us those wonderful words of His Blessed Mother, we must ever ponder within our hearts: “And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.”

The Feast of the Holy Family is of recent origin. In 1663 Barbara d’Hillehoust founded at Montreal the Association of the Holy Family; this devotion soon spread and in 1893 Pope Leo XIII expressed his approval of a Feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. The Feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of modern society. These motives led Pope Benedict XV to insert the Feast into the Universal Calendar, and from 1921 it has been fixed for this present Sunday.

The Lessons for the Second Nocturn of Matins are taken from the Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Neminem Fugit, of June 14, 1892:

When a merciful God determined to complete the work of human reparation which the world had awaited throughout long ages, He so established and designed the whole, that from its very inception, it would show to the world the sublime pattern of a divinely constituted family. In this all men should see the perfect example of domestic unity, and of all virtue and holiness. Such was the Holy Family of Nazareth, in which before He had shone forth in full light to all nations, the Sun of Justice, Christ Our Lord and Savior, led a hidden life with the Virgin Mary for Mother and most Holy Joseph for foster-father. There is no doubt that all those virtues of ordinary home life, those acts of mutual love, holy behavior and pious practices shone forth in the highest degree in this Holy Family, destined to be a model for all others. Accordingly, the benign dispositions of Providence fashioned that Family so that every individual Christian, whatever his condition or station, by turning his attention to it, could find in it easily, reason and incentive for the exercise of every virtue.

Fathers of families, for example, have in St. Joseph a shining pattern for watchfulness and foresight. Mothers have in the most Holy Virgin Mother of God an extraordinary model of love, of modesty, of submissiveness of mind, and of perfect faith. Children of the family have in Jesus, Who was subject to Joseph and Mary, a divine example of obedience to admire, cultivate and imitate. Those nobly born may learn from a Family of royal blood how to restrain themselves in good fortune, and to retain their dignity in ill. The rich may learn from this family how much less estimable are riches than virtue. If working men and all those sorely harassed by family distresses and meager circumstances would but look to the most holy members of this domestic society, they would find there reason to rejoice rather than to grieve at their lot. In common with the Holy Family they have to work, they have to provide for the daily needs of life. St. Joseph had to work at his trade to earn a living; even the divine hands toiled at the artisan’s profession. Surely then we need not wonder that wise men who were rich, cast their wealth aside willingly, and chose poverty in company with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

For all these reasons, therefore, it was right and proper that devotion to the Holy Family should have been introduced among Catholics and once begun should have grown from day to day. Proof of this lies first in the sodalities instituted under the invocation of the Holy Family; then in the unique honors bestowed upon it; and above all, by the privileges and favors granted to this devotion by Our predecessors to stimulate fervor and piety in its regard. This devotion was held in great honor, even in the seventeenth century. Having been widely propagated through Italy, France and Belgium, it spread through practically the whole of Europe. Passing over the vast tract of the Atlantic Ocean, it was extended in America, throughout Canada, where under favorable circumstances, it flourished. Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of the Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues. When Jesus, Mary and Joseph are invoked in the home, there They foster charity, there They exert a good influence over conduct, set an example of virtue, and make more bearable the hardships of every life. — To increase devotion to the Holy Family, Pope Leo XIII prescribed that Christian families should be dedicated to It. Pope Benedict XV extended the Mass and Office to the whole Church.

In the Third Nocturn, St. Bernard comments on the Gospel of the day (given below):

“And He was subject to them.” Who? To whom? God to man! God, I say, to Whom the Angels are subject, Whom Principalities and Powers obey, He, indeed, was subject to Mary. Nor to Mary only, but to Joseph because of Mary. Marvel, therefore, at both, and choose whether you will most wonder at the benign condescension of the Son, or the exceedingly great dignity of the Mother. Both are amazing; both miraculous. That God should obey a woman is humility without parallel. That a woman should rule God is sublimity without equal. In praise of virgins, it is sung, that they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes. But what praise can set forth Her dignity, Who leads Him.

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Learn, O man, to obey. Learn, O earth, to be subject. Learn, O dust, to submit. The Evangelist, in speaking of thy Maker says, and He was subject to them. Without any doubt he was subject to Mary and Joseph. Be ashamed, O proud ashes. God humbles Himself, and you—do you exalt yourself? God subjected Himself to men, and do you, longing to dominate men, place yourself above your Creator? Should I, at any time, think such a thing, would that God would deign to answer me as He answered in rebuking His Apostle: “Get behind Me, satan… for thou dost not mind the things of God, but those of men.” (Matt. 16: 23) As often as I desire pre-eminence over men, so often do I strive to go before God. Truly then I savor not the things that are of God. For of Him it was said, and He was subject to them. If, man, you disdain to imitate the example of men, surely it will not be an indignity to you to follow that of your Creator. If, perchance, you cannot follow Him whithersoever He goes, deign at least to follow Him when He humbles Himself for you.

If you are not able to walk along the sublime path of virginity, at least follow God by the very safe way of humility. Should anyone depart from this straight way—even though he be a virgin—he does not, the truth must be told, follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes. The one is not able to ascend to the spotlessness of the Lamb Who is without spot, nor does the other deign to descend to the meekness of the Lamb Who remained dumb, not before His shearers only, but before His murderers. Yet the sinner following in humility chooses a more salutary way than the proud man who follows in virginity, inasmuch as the humble satisfaction cleanses the uncleanness of the first, whereas pride defiles the chastity of the other.

Holy FamilyIn the Holy Sacrifice, the Introit recalls the joy that must have filled the cave of Bethlehem on that Christmas night; let us again rejoice with Mary and Joseph and sing the praises of the resting-place of the Lord of Hosts:

(Prov. 23) The father of the Just rejoices greatly; let Thy father and Thy mother be joyful, and let her rejoice that bore Thee. (Ps. 83) How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts: my soul longs and faints for the courts of the Lord. V. Glory be to the Father…

The Church prays in the Collect that the home life of every Christian family may be sanctified and perfected by the example of that of the Holy Family; this is Her unceasing wish for Her children:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by subjecting Thyself to Mary and Joseph didst consecrate family life with wonderful virtues: grant that, by Their joint assistance, we may fashion our lives after the example of Thy Holy Family, and obtain everlasting fellowship with It. Who livest and reignest…

After the Commemorations of the Sunday and of the Octave, there follows a Lesson from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Collosians:

Brethren: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience. Bear with one another and forgive one another, if anyone has grievance against any other; even as the Lord has forgiven you, so also do you forgive. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts; unto that peace, indeed, you were called in one body. Show yourselves thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly: in all wisdom teach and admonish one another by psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing in your hearts to God by His grace. Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (c. 3)

If we would attain to charity, the bond of perfection which unites all Christians together in the one great family of God, we must pay heed to those virtues which the Epistle puts before us. We must be full of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty and patience; we must bear with one another and forgive one another, after the example of the Incarnate Word. Then the peace of Christ will dwell not only in our hearts, but in those around us, and our homes will truly become like that of Nazareth, where Jesus, Mary and Joseph were ever singing in Their hearts to God by His grace.

In the Gradual Holy Church again celebrates the praises of the House of the Lord; She proclaims the blessedness of those that obtain lasting fellowship in the heavenly home above; yet in the Alleluia verse She recalls the lowliness of the earthly home of our Emmanuel, which made Him truly a hidden King:

(Ps. 26) One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. V. (Ps. 83) Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house, O Lord; they shall praise Thee forever and ever. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Isa. 45) Verily Thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel, the Savior. Alleluia.

The Gospel is taken from the Second Chapter of St. Luke:

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And after they had fulfilled the days, when they were returning, the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it. But thinking that He was in the caravan, they had come a day’s journey before it occurred to them to look for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem in search of Him. And it came to pass after three days, that they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who were listening to Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when they saw Him, they were astonished. And His Mother said to Him, “Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold, Thy father and I have been seeking Thee sorrowing.” And He said to them, “How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know I must be about My Father’s business?” And they did not understand the word that He spoke to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them; and His Mother kept all these things carefully in Her Heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.

Thus, O Jesus, didst Thou come down from Heaven to teach us. The tender age of Childhood, which Thou didst take upon Thyself, is no hindrance to the ardor of Thy desire that we should know the one and only God, Who made all things, and Thee, His Son, Whom He sent to us. When laid in the Crib, Thou didst instruct the Shepherds by a mere look; when swathed in Thy humble swaddling-clothes, and subjected to the voluntary silence Thou hadst imposed on Thyself, Thou didst reveal to the Magi the light they sought in following the star. When twelve years old, Thou didst explain to the Doctors of Israel the Scriptures which bear testimony to Thee. Thou gradually didst dispel the shadows of the Law by Thy presence and Thy words. In order to fulfill the commands of Thy Heavenly Father, Thou dost not hesitate to occasion sorrow to the Heart of Thy Mother, by thus going in quest of souls that need enlightening. Thy love of man will pierce that tender Heart of Mary with a still sharper sword, when She shall behold Thee hanging on the Cross, and expiring in the midst of cruelest pain. Blessed be Thou, sweet Jesus, in these first Mysteries of Thine Infancy, wherein Thou already showest Thyself devoted to us, and leavest the company of Thy Blessed Mother for that of sinful men, who will one day conspire Thy Death.
Feast of the Holy Family [Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany]
Taken from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's  Divine Intimacy

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Presence of God – I beg the Blessed Virgin Mary to allow me to enter in spirit the humble home at Nazareth, to contemplate Jesus’ most admirable life there.

MEDITATION

On this day for the last time in the cycle of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to contemplate the mystery of Jesus’ humble, hidden life. A feeling of close intimacy and tenderness characterizes this Feast and is expressed in the liturgy of the day: “… it is good for us to recall the little home at Nazareth and the humble life of those who lived there…. In it, Jesus learned Joseph’s humble trade, and grew in age, and was happy sharing the work of a carpenter: ‘Let the sweat,’ He seemed to say, ‘trickle over My limbs before they are drenched with the torrent of My Blood, and the pain of this labor shall go to atone for the sins of men!’” (Roman Breviary). Let us enter the little house; in the presence of such humility, which conceals Jesus’ infinite Majesty, let us repeat the words of the sacred text: “Thou art indeed a hidden King, O God the Savior, King of Israel” (Roman Breviary).

Today’s liturgy particularly emphasizes one typical aspect of the humble life of this hidden God: obedience. “Although He was the Son of God … He learned to obey; He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death” (Roman Breviary). From Bethlehem to Calvary obedience was His companion. The Gospel (Luke 2:42-52) stresses this obedience of Jesus at Nazareth in words which carry for all time the strength of their first utterance, “He was subject to them.” Let us ask ourselves with St. Bernard, “Who obeyed? Whom did He obey?” The Saint replies, “God obeyed man! Yes, the God to whom the angels are subject … was subject to Mary, and not only to Mary, but also to Joseph. For God to obey a woman is humility without parallel…. Learn then, man, to obey; learn, O earth, to be submissive. God subjected Himself to men; and do you, desiring to rule others, place yourself above your Creator?”



COLLOQUY


O Jesus, how I love to contemplate You as a Child, in the poor house at Nazareth, with Mary and Joseph! Your simple, humble life was just like that of any other child of Your age. You, the splendor of the Father, did not wish anything to distinguish You from the children of men; You, uncreated wisdom, wished to learn from Mary and Joseph, Your creatures, the ordinary little details of life. Joseph showed You how to handle his tools and You watched Him attentively, You learned, You obeyed. Mary taught You holy hymns and recounted tales from the Sacred Scriptures; You listened to her like a humble disciple, You who are the one true Teacher, You who are Truth itself. No one, neither Your relatives nor Your fellow townspeople, knew who You really were. Everyone believed You to be the carpenter’s son and paid no more attention to You than they would have paid to an ordinary apprentice.

Only Mary and Joseph knew; they knew by divine revelation that You were the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the world, and yet they knew it more by faith than by experience. Your ordinary way of life concealed Your majesty and divinity from them so completely that when, without their knowledge, You remained among the doctors in the Temple, they could not understand the reason for Your unusual behavior.

That incident, however, was an isolated one; immediately afterward, You wished to return to the hiddenness of Your most humble life. You went back with them, and were subject to them. And this, day by day, until You were thirty years old.

O most sweet Jesus, grant that I may imitate, at least to some degree, Your infinite humility! You, the Creator, were obedient to Your creatures. Teach me to bow my proud head and willingly obey my superiors. You came down from heaven to earth. Give me the grace to humble myself, to come down, once and for all, from the pedestal of my pride! How can I bear the sight of Your humility and self-effacement, O my God and my Creator, when I, who am nothingness and sin, use the gifts I have received to set myself above others, to prefer myself even to my superiors?
Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Feast of the Holy Family


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2022

NB: The Epistle noted here by St. Thomas Aquinas is different from our Feast of the Holy Family but the Gospel is the same, hence it is included here for this Feast. You may recall that it was relatively recently that this Feast, while of ancient origin, was formally placed on the universal calendar in 1921 by Pope Benedict XV. See more here.


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HOMILY I. THE ELEMENTS OF HUMAN PERFECTION 

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.—(FROM THE EPISTLE.) 

"Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” —Rom. xii. 2.


The Apostle in these words exhorts us to three things, in which consists the entire perfection of man. Firstly, that the form of this world be relinquished—"Be not conformed to this world." Secondly, that the form of the new life be assumed —"but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Thirdly, that the will of God may be known— "that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." 

I. On the first head it is to be noted, that the form, or manner of existence, of this world is threefold. (1) In the lust of concupiscence. (2) In the desire of earthly goods. (3) In the pride of life. Of these three, 1 S. John ii. 16, "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." It is to be remembered that this threefold form has likewise a threefold manifestation—the “lust of the flesh" has a sensual form; the “lust of the eyes," an earthly form; the “pride of life,” a devilish form. Lust makes a man sensual; avarice makes him earthly; pride makes him like the devil. Of these three, S. James iii. 15, "This wisdom descendeth, not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” By the first, we are "conformed to this world” through gluttony and revelling; by the second, through avarice; by the third, through pride; so that they themselves will perish with the perishing world. As S. Greg. Mag. says, “He who leans upon that which is failing must of necessity come to ruin when it perishes.” 1 S. John ii. 15, 17, “Love not the world." Why not? ‘The world passeth away and the lust thereof.” 

* "The form of life and existence (Greek, opp; Latin, forma) is far more intensive than the mere habit (Greek, exzjce; Latin, modus).


II. On the second head it is to be noted that the form of the new life is also threefold. It consists (1) in holiness of will; (2) in truth of speech; (3) in justness of deed. The first informs the heart; the second, the mouth; the third, the hands. Of the first, Eph. vi. 6, 7, "Doing the will of God from the heart, with good will.” Of the second, Eph. iv. 25, “ Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.” Of the third, Gal. vi. 10, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” Of these three, Eph. v. 9,"For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth "—in "goodness" of heart, in “righteousness” of deed, in “truth” of speech. The form of goodness makes us angelical, since by goodness man became like unto the angels. The form of righteousness makes us celestial; by righteousness we are likened unto the saints. ‘The form of truth makes us divine; by truth we are made like unto God. Of these three, Rom. xii. 1, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." Living by faith, Heb. x. 38, “The just shall live by faith.” “Holy," which is cleansed. "Acceptable to God," through the truth, for God is truth. 


III. On the third head it is to be noted that the “will of God” is threefold. Firstly, "good;" secondly, "acceptable;" thirdly, "perfect." This is to be understood in many ways, but chiefly in three.

I. In a moral sense, the will of God was “good” in creating; “acceptable” in recreating; “ perfect” in glorifying. “Good” in giving the gifts of nature; "acceptable” in giving the gifts of grace; "perfect" in the bestowal of glory. Of the first, Rev. iv. 11, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” For they were in idea in the Divine mind, they were created to have an existence of their own, Of the second, Ps. xxx. 7, "Lord, by Thy favour [tua voluntate, Vulg.] Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong;" since, in recreating, the Lord renewed the Divine beauty in us, and strengthened it by the favour of the Holy Ghost, Of the third, S. John xvii. 24, "Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory." Ps. lxxiii. 24, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” 

II. In another sense, the will of God is "good” in us by cleansing us from all impurity; "acceptable" through the showing forth of pity; "perfect" from the fervour of charity. Of the first, 1 Thess. iv. 3, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification,” če., cleansing. Of the second, S. Matt. ix. 18, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." Of the third, S. Luke xii. 49, “I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?" By fire charity is understood.

III. In a third sense, the “will of God” can be viewed as “good” in those who are married; “acceptable” in the continent; "perfect" in prelates who are preserved for perfection. In the married, as exciting them to works of mercy; in the continent, to do good to others like them; in prelates, to lay down their lives for the brethren. Of the first will can be understood Ps. cxiii. 10, “Teach me to do Thy will.” Of the second, 1 Thess. iv. 4, "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence.” Of the third, Ps. ciii. 21, "Ministers of His that do His pleasure." "The reward of His will is eternal life—Ps. xxx. 5, “In His favour [voluntas, Vulg.] is life."




HOMILY II. THE SEEKERS OF THE LORD.

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.—(FROM THE GOSPEL.)



Behold! Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."— Luke ii. 48.


Many things are taught in this Gospel according to the letter, as is manifest, but in this word we are taught to seek God, to which we are frequently exhorted in Holy Scripture. Three things are noted in these words—Firstly, the seekers, "Behold! Thy father and I" Secondly, the manner of seeking, "have sought Thee sorrowing." Thirdly, the person sought for, “sought Thee.”

I. On the first head it is to be noted that the seekers were Mary and Joseph, in whom two kinds of men are represented by which the Lord is sought—(1) He is sought by the contemplative in contemplation; (2) by the active in action. Mary signifies the illuminated, and typifies the contemplative who in contemplation receive the Divine illuminations. Joseph is interpreted “increase,” and he signifies the active, who ought to have increase from works of mercy. The Lord is sought by both these, and to both can be applied. Ps. cv. 3, 4, "Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength." The first portion of this refers to the contemplative, who are in continual joy and jubilation; the second portion to the active, who now and then need to be strengthened. Again, by Mary, Star of the Sea, faith is signified; and by Joseph, the increase of charity. Faith seeks for God, inasmuch as He is our Father; charity, inasmuch as He is the chief good. Of these two, Cant. v. 6, "My soul failed when He spake. I sought Him, but I did not find Him.” Inasmuch as He speaks, insomuch did I seek, for faith cometh by hearing. "As far as he is beloved he seeks charity, which is the life binding the lover with the beloved," as S. Austin says. So plainly, if He be sought by charity, afterwards He shall be found. 

II. On the second head it is to be noted that He ought to be sought for in seven different ways—(1) With purity of mind, that we may be held to be free from every defilement of sin—1 Esd. vi. 21, “All that had separated themselves from the filthiness of the nations of the earth to seek the Lord the God of Israel.” (2) With simplicity of intention —Wisd. i. 1, "Seek Him in simplicity of heart." (3) From the whole heart, that we may think only upon Him; (4) from our whole will, that we may only desire Him—of these two, 2 Chron. xv. 15, “They had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of them." (5) Quickly, ere the time in which He can be found pass away—Isaiah lv. 6, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while Be is near." (6) Perseveringly, without cessation—Ps. cv. 4, “Seek His face evermore.” (7) With sorrow for sin—Micah iv. 10, "Be in pain and labour to bring forth the daughter of Zion ...... the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” “I and My Father,” &c.

III. On the third head it is to be noted that we ought to seek God, “have sought Thee;” and to do this for four reasons—because (1) He is just, (2) merciful, (3) good, (4) Life. God is just, since no one who seeks as he ought to do shall fail to find Him; merciful, since He so graciously receives those seeking Him—of these two, Zeph. ii. 3, “Seek ye the Lord ...... seek righteousness, seek meekness." He is good, that He may magnify and reward those seeking Him—Lam. iii. 25, ‘ The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him." He is Life, since He gives eternal life to those who are seeking Him— Ps. Ixix. 32, "Your heart shall live that seek God.” To which life may we be brought, &c.
Sermon of St. Alphonsus Liguori - First Sunday after Epiphany


Sermon VI ~ Malice of Mortal Sin

Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." 1 LUKE ii. 48.

MOST holy Mary lost her Son for three days: during that time she wept continually for having lost sight of Jesus, and did not cease to seek after him till she found him. How then does it happen that so many sinners not only lose sight of Jesus, but even lose his divine grace; and instead of weeping for so great a loss, sleep in peace, and make no effort to recover so great a blessing? This arises from their not feeling what it is to lose God by sin. Some say: I commit this sin, not to lose God, but to enjoy this pleasure, to possess the property of another, or to take revenge of an enemy. They who speak such language show that they do not understand the malice of mortal sin. What is mortal sin?

First Point. It is a great contempt shown to God.

Second Point. It is a great offence offered to God.



First Point. Mortal sin is a great contempt shown to God.

1. The Lord calls upon Heaven and Earth to detest the ingratitude of those who commit mortal sin, after they had been created by him, nourished with his blood, and exalted to the dignity of his adopted children. ”Hear, O ye Heavens, and give ear, Earth; for the Lord hath spoken. I have brought up children _ and exalted them; but they have despised me.” (Isa. i. 2.) Who is this God whom sinners despise?; He is a God of infinite majesty, before whom all the kings of the Earth and all the blessed in Heaven are less than a drop of water or a grain of sand. As a drop of a bucket, . . . as a little dust. ” (Isa. xl. 15.) In a word, such is the majesty of God, that in his presence all creatures are as if they did not exist. ”All nations are before him as if they had no being at all.” (Ibid. xl. 17.) And what is man, who insults him? St. Bernard answers: “Saccus vermium, cibus vermium.” A heap of worms, the food of worms, by which he shall be devoured in the grave. ”Thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Apoc. iii. 17.) He is so miserable that he can do nothing, so blind that he knows nothing, and so poor that he possesses nothing. And this worm dares to despise a God, and to provoke his wrath. ”Vile dust,” says the same saint, “dares to irritate such tremendous majesty.” Justly, then, has St. Thomas asserted, that the malice of mortal sin is, as it were, infinite: ”Peccatum habet quandam infinitatem malitiae ex infinitatem divine majestatis.” (Par. 3, q. 2, a. 2, ad. 2.) And St. Augustine calls it an infinite evil. Hence Hell and a thousand Hells are not sufficient chastisement for a single mortal sin.

2. Mortal sin is commonly defined by theologians to be “a turning away from the immutable good.” St. Thom., par. 1, q. 24, a. 4; a turning ones back on the sovereign good. Of this God complains by his prophet, saying: ”Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord; thou art gone backward. ” (Jer. xv. 6.) Ungrateful man, he says to the sinner, I would never have separated myself from thee; thou hast been the first to abandon me: thou art gone backwards; thou hast turned thy back upon me.

3. He who contemns the divine law despises God; because he knows that, by despising the law, he loses the divine grace. “By transgression of the law, thou dishonourest God.” (Rom. ii. 23.) God is the Lord of all things, because he has created them. ”All things are in thy power… Thou hast made Heaven and Earth.” (Esth. xiii. 9.) Hence all irrational creatures the winds, the sea, the fire, and rain obey God, “The winds and the sea obey him.” (Matt. viii. 27.)”Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil his word.” (Ps. cxlviii. 8.) But man, when he sins, says to God: Lord, thou dost command me, but I will not obey; thou dost command me to pardon such an injury, but I will resent it; thou dost command me to give up the property of others, but I will retain it; thou dost wish that I should abstain from such a forbidden pleasure, but I will indulge in it. ”Thou hast broken my yoke, thou hast burst my bands, and thou saidst: I will not serve.” (Jer. ii. 20.) In fine, the sinner when he breaks the command, says to God: I do not acknowledge thee for my Lord. Like Pharaoh, when Moses, on the part of God, commanded him in the name of the Lord to allow the people to go into the desert, the sinner answers: “Who is the Lord, that I should hear his voice, and let Israel go?” (Exod. v. 2.)

4. The insult offered to God by sin is heightened by the vileness of the goods for which sinners offend him. ”Wherefore hath the wicked provoked God.” (Ps. x. 13.) For what do so many offend the Lord? For a little vanity; for the indulgence of anger; or for a beastly pleasure. ”They violate me among my people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread.” (Ezec. xiii. 19.) God is insulted for a handful of barley for a morsel of bread! God! why do we allow ourselves to be so easily deceived by the Devil?”There is,” says the Prophet Osee, “a deceitful balance in his hand.” (xii. 7.) We do not weigh things in the balance of God, which cannot deceive, but in the balance of Satan, who seeks only to deceive us, that he may bring us with himself into Hell. ”Lord,” said David, ”who is like to thee ?” (Ps. xxxiv. 10.) God is an infinite good; and when he sees sinners put him on a level with some earthly trifle, or with a miserable gratification, he justly complains in the language of the prophet: ”To whom, have you likened me or made me equal? saith the Holy One.” (Isa. xl. 25.) In your estimation, a vile pleasure is more valuable than my grace. Is it a momentary satisfaction you have preferred before me?”Thou hast cast me off behind thy back.” (Ezec. xxiii. 35.) Then, adds Salvian, “there is no one for whom men have less esteem than for God.” (Lib. v., Avd. Avar.) Is the Lord so contemptible in your eyes as to deserve to have the miserable things of the Earth preferred before him?

5. The tyrant placed before St. Clement a heap of gold, of silver, and of gems, and promised to give them to the holy martyr if he would renounce the faith of Christ. The saint heaved a sigh of sorrow at the sight of the blindness of men, who put earthly riches in comparison with God. But many sinners exchange the divine grace for things of far less value; they seek after certain miserable goods, and abandon that God who is an infinite good, and who alone can make them happy. Of this the Lord complains, and calls on the Heavens to be astonished, and on its gates to be struck with horror: ”Be astonished O ye Heavens, at this; and ye gates thereof, be very desolate, saith the Lord.” He then adds: ”For my people have done two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer. ii. 12 and 13.) We regard with wonder and amazement the injustice of the Jews, who, when Pilate offered to deliver Jesus or Barabbas, answered: ”Not this man, but Barabbas.” (John xviii. 40.) The conduct of sinners is still worse; for, when the Devil proposes to them to choose between the satisfaction of revenge a miserable pleasure and Jesus Christ, they answer: “Not this man, but Barabbas.” That is, not the Lord Jesus, but sin.

6. “There shall be no new God in thee,” says the Lord. (Ps. Ixxx. 10.) You shall not abandon me, your true God, and make for yourself a new god, whom you shall serve. St. Cyprian teaches that men make their god whatever they prefer before God, by making it their last end; for God is the only last end of all: “Quidquid homo Deo anteponit, Deum sibi facit.” And St. Jerome says: ”Unusquisque quod cupit, si veneratur, hoc illi Deus est. Vitium in corde, est idolum in altari.” (In Ps. Ixxx.) The creature which a person prefers to God, becomes his God. Hence, the holy doctor adds, that as the Gentiles adored idols on their altars, so sinners worship sin in their hearts. When King Jeroboam rebelled against God, he endeavoured to make the people imitate him in the adoration of idols. He one day placed the idols before them, and said: “Behold thy gods, Israel!” (3 Kings xii. 28.) The Devil acts in a similar manner towards sinners: he places before them such a gratification, and says: Make this your God. Behold! this pleasure, this money, this revenge is your God: adhere to these, and forsake the Lord. When the sinner consents to sin, he abandons his Creator, and in his heart adores as his god the pleasure which lie indulges. ”Vitium in corde est idolum in altari. ”

7. The contempt which the sinner offers to God is increased by sinning in God’s presence. According to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, some adored the sun as their god, that during the night they might, in the absence of the sun, do what they pleased, without fear of divine chastisement. “Some regarded the sun as their God, that, after the setting of the sun, they might be without a God.” (Catech. iv.) The conduct of these miserable dupes was very criminal; but they were careful not to sin in presence of their god. But Christians know that God is present in all places, and that he sees all things. ”Do not I fill Heaven and Earth? saith the Lord,” (Jer. xxiii. 24); and still they do not abstain from insulting him, and from provoking his wrath in his very presence: “A people that continually provoke me to anger before my face.” (Isa. Ixv. 3.) Hence, by sinning before him who is their judge, they even make God a witness of their iniquities: ”I am the judge and the witness, saith the Lord.” (Jer. xxix. 23.) St. Peter Chrysologus says, that, “the man who commits a crime in the presence of his judge, can offer no defence.” The thought of having offended God in his divine presence, made David weep and exclaim: “To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee.” (Ps. i. 6.) But let us pass to the second point, in which we shall see more clearly the enormity of the malice of mortal sin.


Second Point. Mortal sin is a great offence offered to God.

8. There is nothing more galling than to see oneself despised by those who were most beloved and most highly favoured. Whom do sinners insult? They insult a God who bestowed so many benefits upon them, and who loved them so as to die on a cross for their sake; and by the commission of mortal sin they banish that God from their hearts. A soul that loves God is loved by him, and God himself comes to dwell within her. ”If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him.” (John xiv. 23.) The Lord, then, never departs from a soul, unless he is driven away, even though he should know that she will soon banish him from her heart. According to the Council of Trent, ”he deserts not the soul, unless he is deserted.”

  9. When the soul consents to mortal sin she ungratefully says to God: Depart from me. “The wicked have said to God: Depart from us.” (Job xxi. 14.) Sinners, as St. Gregory observes, say the same, not in words, but by their conduct. ”Recede, non verbis, sed moribus.” They know that God cannot remain with sin in the soul: and, in violating the divine commands, they feel that God must depart; and, by their acts they say to him: since you cannot remain any longer with us, depart farewell. And through the very door by which God departs from the soul, the Devil enters to take possession of her. When the priest baptizes an infant, he commands the demon to depart from the soul: ”Go out from him, unclean spirits, and make room for the Holy Ghost.” But when a Christian consents to mortal sin, he says to God: Depart from me; make room for the Devil, whom I wish to serve.

10. St. Bernard says, that mortal sin is so opposed to God, that, if it were possible for God to die, sin would deprive him of life;”Peccatum quantum in se est Deum perimit.” Hence, according to Job, in committing mortal sin, man rises up against God, and stretches forth his hand against him: ”For he hath stretched out his hand against God, and hath strengthened himself against the Almighty.” (Job. xv. 25.)

11. According to the same St. Bernard, they who wilfully violate the divine law, seek to deprive God of life in proportion to the malice of their will;”Quantum in ipsa est Deum perimit propria voluntas.” (Ser. iii. de Res.) Because, adds the saint, self-will”would wish God to see its own sins, and to be unable to take vengeance on them.” Sinners know that the moment they consent to mortal sin, God condemns them to Hell. Hence, being firmly resolved to sin, they wish that there was no God, and, consequently, they would wish to take away his life, that he might not be able to avenge their crime. “He hath,” continues Job, in his description of the wicked, ”run against him witb his neck raised up, and is armed with a fat neck.” (xv. 26.) The sinner raises his neck; that is, his pride swells up, and he runs to insult his God; and, because he contends with a powerful antagonist, ”he is armed with a fat neck.”“A fat neck” is the symbol of ignorance, of that ignorance which makes the sinner say: This is not a great sin; God is merciful; we are flesh; the Lord will have pity on us. O temerity! illusion! which brings so many Christians to Hell.

Moreover, the man who commits a mortal sin afflicts the heart of God. “But they provoked to wrath, and afflicted the spirit of the Holy One.” (Isaias Ixiii. 10.) “What pain and anguish would you not feel, if you knew that a person whom you tenderly loved, and on whom you bestowed great favours, had sought to take away your life! God is not capable of pain; but, were he capable of suffering, a single mortal sin would be sufficient to make him die through sorrow. ”Mortal sin,” says Father Medina, ”if it were possible, would destroy God himself: because it would be the cause of infinite sadness to God.” As often, then, as you committed mortal sin, you would, if it were possible, have caused God to die of sorrow; because you knew that by sin you insulted him and turned your back upon him, after he had bestowed so many favours upon you, and even after he had given all his blood and his life for your salvation.