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SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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The third Mystery of the Epiphany shows us the completion of the merciful designs of God upon the world, at the same time that it manifests to us, for the third time, the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Star has led the soul to faith; the sanctified Waters of the Jordan have conferred purity upon her; the Marriage Feast unites her to her God. We have been considering, during this Octave, the Bridegroom revealing himself to the Spouse; we have heard him calling her to come to him from the heights of Libanus; and now, after having enlightened and purified her, he invites her to the heavenly feast, where she is to receive the Wine of his divine love.

A Feast is prepared; it is a Marriage Feast; and the Mother of Jesus is present at it, for it is just that having cooperated in the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, she should take part in all that her Son does, and in all the favors he bestows on his elect. But in the midst of the Feast, the Wine fails. Wine is the symbol of Charity or Love, and Charity had failed on the earth; for the Gentiles had never tasted its sweetness; and as to the Synagogue, what had it produced but wild grapes? The True Vine is our Jesus, and he calls himself by that name. He alone could give that Wine which gladdeneth the heart of man; He alone could give us that Chalice which inebriateth, and of which the Royal Psalmist prophesied.

Mary said to Jesus: They have no Wine. It is the office of the Mother of God to tell him of the wants of men, for she is also their Mother. But Jesus answers her in words which are apparently harsh: Woman! what is it to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. The meaning of these words is that, in this great Mystery, he was about to act not as the Son of Mary, but as the Son of God. Later on, the hour will come when, dying upon the Cross, he will do it as Man, that is, according to that human nature which he has received from her. Mary at once understands the words of her Son, and she says to the waiters of the Feast what she is now ever saying to her children: Do whatsoever he shall say to you.

Now, there were six large waterpots of stone there, and they were empty. The world was then in its Sixth Age, as St. Augustine and other Holy Doctors tell us. During these six ages, the earth had been awaiting its Savior, who was to instruct and redeem it. Jesus commands these waterpots to be filled with water; and yet, water does not suit the Feast of the Spouse. The figures and the prophecies of the ancient world were this water, and until the opening of the Seventh Age, when Christ, who is the Vine, was to be given to the world, no man had contracted an alliance with the Divine Word.

But when the Emmanuel came, he had but to say, Now draw out, and the waterpots were seen to be filled with the wine of the New Covenant, the Wine which had been kept to the end. When he assumed our human nature—a nature weak and unstable as Water—he effected a change in it; he raised it up even to himself, by making us partakers of the divine nature; he gave us the power to love him, to be united to him, to form that one Body of which he is the Head, that Church of which he is the Spouse, and which he loved from all eternity, and with such tender love, that he came down from heaven to celebrate his nuptials with her.

St. Matthew, the Evangelist of the Humanity of our Lord, has received from the Holy Ghost the commission to announce to us the Mystery of Faith by the Star; St. Luke, the Evangelist of Jesus’ Priesthood, has been selected, by the same Holy Spirit, to instruct us in the Mystery of the Baptism in the Jordan; but the Mystery of the Marriage Feast was to be revealed to us by the Evangelist John, the Beloved Disciple. He suggests to the Church the object of this third Mystery by this expression: This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Glailee, and he manifested his glory. At Bethlehem, the Gold of the Magi expressed the Divinity of the Babe; at the Jordan, the descent of the Holy Ghost and the voice of the Eternal Father proclaimed Jesus (known to the people as a carpenter of Nazareth) to be the Son of God; at Cana, it is Jesus himself that acts, and he acts as God, for, says St. Augustine, He who changed the water into wine in the waterpots could be no other than the same who, every year, works the same miracle in the vine. Hence it was that, from that day, as St. John tells us, his disciples believed in him, and the Apostolic College began to be formed.



Mass

The Introit proclaims the joy of this day, which shows us the human nature espoused to the Son of the eternal Father. Surely the earth will henceforth surrender itself wholly to the love and praise of this sacred Name which, in the Marriage Feast, has become that of the Son of Adam.

Introit
Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi: psallmum dicat nomini tuo, Altissime.
Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra, psalmum dicite nomini ejus: date gloriam laudi ejus. Gloria Patri. Omnis terra.

Let all the earth adore thee, and sing to thee, O God: let it sing a psalm to thy name, O Most High.
Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to his name; give glory to his praise. Glory be to the Father. Let all the earth.


This name of Sons of God which has become ours by right through the bond of the sacred nuptials is none other, as Jesus himself tells us in his Beatitudes, than Peace—the Peace of God, ours truly through the action of his grace ever working it out within us. In the Collect Peace again figures as the final end of God’s government both in heaven and on earth, likewise as the supreme desire of the Church.

Collect
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui cœlestia simul et terrena moderaris: supplicationes populi tui clementer exaudi, et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus. Per Dominum.

Almighty and Eternal God, supreme Ruler both of heaven and earth, mercifully give ear to the prayers of thy people, and grant us peace in our time. Through, etc.

Commemoration is made, by their proper Collects, of the Saint whose feast may occur with this Sunday; the third prayer will be that of the Blessed Virgin.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Deus qui salutis æternæ, beatæ Mariæ virginitate fœcunda, humano generi præmia præstitisti; tribue, quæsumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus auctorem vitæ suscipere, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum.

O God, who, by the fruitful Virginity of the Blessed Mary, hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience her intercession, by whom we received the Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. Who liveth, etc.


Epistle

Lesson from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Romans. Ch. xii.
Brethren: Having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. Being of one mind one towards another. Not minding high things, but consenting to the humble.

Quote:This peace which characterizes, in the abode of saints, the Sons of God, effects in like measure on earth the oneness of the Bride, that is of the Church: peace it is that makes her to be but one body wherein the many members find their multiplicity upheld and guided by the head, the one lord; their functions, so diverse in themselves, regulated and brought under the rule and love of the Bridegroom, Christ Jesus. The Epistle which has just been read sets before us the different operations of this peace which has as its ruling motive Charity, the Queen of virtues, and which is so essential to Christianity; the Apostle specifies in detail its forms and conditions and adapts its practice to every social condition and circumstances of life. Of such value does the Church judge these considerations, that, on the following Sunday, she resumes the text of the Apostle where today she has interrupted it.

Far from a divine life in the peace of God which was its precious gift, the human race incurred death with its penalty of separation. Let us then in the Gradual sing of this wonder that has been wrought in our midst, and with the angelic choirs exalt the Lord in praise and admiration.

Gradual
Misit Dominus verbum suum, et sanavit eos: et eripuit eos de interitu eorum.
℣. Confiteantur Domino misericordiæ ejus, et mirabilia ejus filiis hominum. Alleluia, allelluia.
℣. Laudate Deum omnes Angeli ejus: laudate eum omnes virtutes ejus. Alleluia.

The Lord sent his word and healed them: and delivered them out of their distresses.
℣. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men. Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. Praise ye the Lord, all his angels, praise him all his hosts. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. John.  Ch. ii.

At that time: there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Quote:O the wonderful dignity of man! God has vouchsafed, says the Apostle, to show the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which had no claim to, nay, were unworthy of such an honor. Jesus bids the waiters fill them with water and the water of Baptism purifies us; but, not satisfied with this, he fills these vessels, even to the brim, not to be drunk save in the kingdom of his Father. Thus, divine Charity, which dwells in the Sacrament of Love, is communicated to us; and that we might not be unworthy of the espousals with himself, to which he called us, he raises us up even to himself. Let us, therefore, prepare our souls for this wonderful union, and, according to the advice of the Apostle, let us labor to present them to our Jesus with such purity as to resemble that chaste Virgin, who was presented to the spotless Lamb.

During the Offertory, the Church resumes her songs of joy and give free course to her holy transports. All faithful souls are invited by her to the celebration of this adorable Mystery, the intimate union of man with God.

Offertory
Jubilate Deo universa terra: psalmum dicite nomini ejus, venite et audite, et narrabo vobis omnes qui timetis Deum, quanta fecit Dominus animæ meæ. Alleluia.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to his name. Come and hear, all ye who fear God, and I will tell you what great things he hath done for my soul. Alleluia.


Secret
Oblata, Domine, munera sanctifica: nosque a peccatorum nostrorum maculis emunda. Per Dominum.

Sanctify, O Lord, our offerings, and cleanse us from the stains of our sins. Through, etc.


After the Secret of the Saint who is being commemorated today, that of the Blessed Virgin is said.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem. Per Dominum.

By thy merciful forgiveness, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, let this offering avail us for welfare and peace, both now and for evermore. Through our Lord.


The Communion Antiphon recalls once more the miracle of the changing of the water into wine. This was only a dim figure of that wondrous transformation which is accomplished on our altars, only a symbol of that divine Sacrament, the food of our souls whereby, in an unspeakable way, is realized our union with God.

Communion
Dicit Dominus: Implete hydrias aqua et fert5e architriclino. Cum gustasset architriclinus aquam vinum factam, dicit sponso: Servasti vinum bonum usque adhuc. Hoc signum fecit Jesus primum coram discipulis suis.

The Lord saith: Fill the waterpots with water and carry to the chief steward of the feast. When the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, he said to the bridegroom: Thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus before his disciples.



Postcommunion
Augeatur in nobis, quæsumus Domine, tuæ virtutis operatio: ut divinis vegetati sacramentis, ad eorum promissa capienda tuo munere præparemur. Per Dominum.

May the efficacy of thy power, O Lord, be increased in us, that being fed with thy divine sacraments, we may, through thy bounty, be prepared to receive what they promise. Through, etc.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hæc nos communio, Domine, purget a crimine: et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cœlestis remedii faciat esse consortes.

May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin, and by the intercession of blessed Mary, the Virgin-Mother of God, make us partakers of thy heavenly remedy.


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INSTRUCTION FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays throughout the Ecclesiastical Year, 1880

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In the Introit of this day's Mass the Church calls upon all creatures to thank God for the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.

INTROIT. Let all the earth adore Thee, O God and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy name (Ps. 65:4). Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise (Ps. 65:1-2). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT. Almighty and eternal God, Who disposest all things in heaven and on earth: mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and give Thy peace to our times. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE. (Rom.12:6-16). Brethren: We have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality: bless them that persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind, one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.


EXPLANATION. St. Paul in this epistle exhorts every Christian to make good use of the gifts of God; if one receives an office, he must see well to it, so that he can give an account to God of the faithful performance of his duties. He exhorts especially to brotherly love which we should practice by charitable works; such as, receiving strangers hospitably, giving alms to those who are in need, and to those who by misfortune or injustice have lost their property; he commands us, at the same time, to rejoice in the welfare of our neighbor, as we rejoice at our own good fortune, and to grieve at his misfortunes as we would over those which befall us.


How is brotherly love best preserved?

By the virtue of humility which makes us esteem our neighbor above ourselves, consider his good qualities only, bear patiently his defects, and always meet him in a friendly, respectful, and indulgent manner. Humility causes us to live always in peace with our fellowmen, while among the proud, where each wishes to be the first, there is continual strife and dissatisfaction (Prov. 13:10).

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INSTRUCTION FOR SUPERIORS

Those have to expect a severe sentence from God, who merely for temporal gain, seek profitable offices, and thrust themselves therein whether capable or not, and if capable care very little whether they fulfill the duties required, or perhaps make the fulfillment of them depend upon bribes. Of such God makes terrible complaint: Thy princes (judges) are faithless, companions of thieves: they all love bribes, they run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless; and the widow's cause comes not into them (Is. 1:23). A most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule (Wisd. 6:6).


ASPIRATION. Grant us, O Lord, Thy grace, that according to Thy will, we may follow the instructions of St. Paul in regard to humility and love, have compassion upon all suffering and needy, think little of ourselves, and descend to the lowest, that we may, one day, be elevated with them in heaven.


GOSPEL. (Jn. 2:1-11). At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus with to her: Woman, what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine; and when men have well drank, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee: and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.


Why was Christ and His mother present at this marriage?

In order to honor this humble and God-fearing couple who, with faithful hearts, had invited Him and His mother to their wedding; to give us an example of humility; to assist them in their poverty, and save their good name by changing water into wine; to reveal His dignity as the Messiah to His disciples by this miracle; and to sanctify by His presence the marriages that are contracted in the spirit of the Church.

Alas! how few marriages of our time could Jesus honor with His presence, because He is invited neither by fervent prayer, nor by the chaste life of the couple: He is excluded rather, by the frequent immorality of the married couple and their guests.


Why was Mary interested in this married couple?

Because she is merciful, and the Mother of Mercy, and willingly assists all the poor and afflicted who fear God. From this incident, St. Bonaventure judges of the many graces which we can hope for through Mary, now that she reigns in heaven; "For," says he, "if Mary while yet on earth was so compassionate, how much more so is she now, reigning in heaven!" He gives the reason by adding: "Mary now that she sees the face of God, knows our necessities far better than when she was on earth, and in proportion to the increase of her compassion, her power to aid us has been augmented." Ah! why do we not take refuge in all our necessities to this merciful mother, who although unasked assists the needy?


Why did Christ say to Mary: Woman, what is it to me and to thee?

This seemingly harsh reply of Christ was no reproach, for Mary had made her request only through love and mercy, and Christ calls those blessed who are merciful, but he wished to show that in the performance of divine work, the will of His heavenly Father alone should be consulted. He meant to remind her that He had not received the gift of miracles from her as the son of woman, but from His eternal Father, in accordance with whose will He would do that which she asked when the hour designed by God would come. Though the hour had not come, yet He granted the wish of His mother, who knew that her divine Son refused none of her requests, and so she said to the servants: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." Behold the great power of Mary's intercession! Neglect not, therefore, to take refuge in this most powerful mother!


What are we taught by the words: My hour is not yet come?

These words teach us that we should in all things await God's appointed time, and in things belonging to God and His honor, act only by divine direction, without any human motives.


What does the scarcity of wine signify?

In a spiritual sense the want of wine may be understood to signify the lack of love between married people, which is principally the case with those who enter this state through worldly motives, for the sake of riches, beauty of person, or who have before marriage kept up sinful intercourse. These should ask God for the forgiveness of their sins, bear the hardships of married life in the spirit of penance, and change the wrong motives they had before marriage; by doing so God will supply the scarcity of wine, that is the lack of true love, and change the waters of misery into the wine of patient affection.


Why did Christ command them to take the wine to the steward?

That the steward, whose office required him to be attentive to the conduct of the guests, and to know the quality of the wine, should give his judgment in regard to the excellence of this, and be able to testify to the miracle before all the guests.


ASPIRATION. O my most merciful Jesus! I would rather drink in this world the sour wine of misery than the sweet wine of pleasure, that in heaven I may taste the perfect wine of eternal joy.


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INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY


What is Matrimony?

Matrimony is the perfect, indissoluble union of two free persons of different sex, for the purpose of propagating the human race, mutually to bear the burdens of life and to prevent sin (I Cor. 7:2).


Who instituted Matrimony?

God Himself, the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:27-28). He brought to man the helpmate, whom He formed from one of the ribs of Adam, that she who came from his heart, might never depart therefrom, but cling to him in the indissoluble bond of love (Gen. 2:18, 24). To this original, divine institution Christ refers (Mt. 19:4-6), and the Church declares the bond of marriage perpetual and indissoluble.


Is Matrimony a Sacrament?

Yes; according to the testimony of the Fathers, the Church has held it such from the times of the apostles, which she could not do, had Christ not raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament. St. Paul even calls it a great Sacrament, because it is symbolical of the perpetual union of Christ with His Church; and the Council of Trent declares: "If any one says that Matrimony is not really and truly one of the seven Sacraments of the Church instituted by Christ, but an invention of men that imparts no grace, let him be anathema" (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1).


What graces does this Sacrament impart?

The grace of preserving matrimonial fidelity inviolate: the grace of educating children as Christians; of patiently enduring the unavoidable difficulties of married life, and of living peaceably with each other. Married people are indeed greatly in need of these graces, in order to fulfil their mutual obligations.


What is the external sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony?

The union of two single persons in Matrimony, which according to the regulations of the Council of Trent (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1), must be formed publicly in the presence of the pastor, or with his permission before another priest, and two witnesses.


What preparations are to be made to receive the grace of this Sacrament?

1. The first and best preparation is a pure and pious life.
2. The light of the Holy Ghost should be invoked to know whether one is called to this state of life.
3. The parents and the father-confessor should be asked for advice.
4. The choice should be made in regard to a Christian heart, and a gentle disposition rather than to beauty and wealth.
5. The immediate preparation is, to purify the conscience, if it has not already been done, by a good general confession, and by the reception of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Before their marriage the young couple should ask their parents' blessing, should hear the nuptial Mass with devotion, with the intention of obtaining God's grace to begin their new state of life well, and finally they should commend themselves with confidence to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her spouse St. Joseph.


Why are there so many unhappy marriages?

Because so many people prepare the way by sins and vices, and continue to sin without interruption, and without true amendment until marriage, therefore always make sacrilegious confessions, even perhaps immediately before marriage. Besides this many enter the married life on account of carnal intentions, or other earthly motives; in many cases they do not even ask God for His grace; without any proper preparation for such an important, sacred act, on their marriage day they go to church with levity and afterwards celebrate their wedding with but little modesty. Is it any wonder that such married people receive no blessing, no grace, when they render themselves so unworthy?


Why did God institute married life?

That children might be brought up honestly and as Christians, and that they should be instructed especially in matters of faith; that married people should sustain each other in the difficulties of life, and mutually exhort one another to a pious life; and lastly, that the sin of impurity might be avoided. For they who in such manner receive matrimony as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power (Tob. 6:17).


With what intentions should the married state be entered?

With such intentions as the young Tobias and his bride had, who before the marriage ceremony, ardently prayed God for His grace, and took their wedding breakfast in the fear of the Lord (Too. 14:15). Hence God's blessing was with them until death. If all young people would enter the married state thus, it would certainly be holy, God-pleasing and blessed, and the words of St. Paul, spoken to wives, would come true unto them: Yet she shall be saved by bearing children, if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification with sobriety (I Tim. 2:15).


Why are the bans of marriage published three times in Church?

That all impediments which would render the marriage unlawful may be made known. Such impediments are: consanguinity, clandestine marriages, etc. Therefore, any one who is aware of such impediments, is bound to make them known to the pastor.


Why is the marriage performed in the presence of the parish priest?

Because the Catholic Church expressly declares that those marriages which are not performed in presence of the pastor, or with his permission before another priest, and two witnesses, are null and void (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV can. 1)1; and because the blessing of the priest, which he imparts in the name of the Church, gives the couple, if they are in a state of grace, strength, fortitude and grace to be faithful to each other, to endure all trials patiently, and to be safe from all the influences of the evil enemy."


Why do they join hands before the priest, and two witnesses?

By this they bind themselves before God and His Church to remain true to each other, and to be ready to assist each other in all adversities. The bridegroom puts a ring on the bride's finger which should remind her of her duty of inviolable fidelity; to this end the priest signs and seals this holy union with the unbloody Sacrifice of the New Law.


Can the bond of marriage be dissolved in the Catholic Church?

A valid marriage, contracted with the free consent of each of the parties, can according to the plain doctrine of the Scriptures, the constant teaching and practice of the Church, be dissolved only by the death of one of the parties. If the pope or a bishop, for important reasons, gives a divorce, this is only partial, and neither can marry again while the other lives. Such a marriage would not be valid. How pure and holy are the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this the most important and sacred of all human relations, preserving its inviolability and sanctity; while, on the contrary, by means of the wanton doctrine of the heretics, which for trivial reasons entirely dissolves the marriage contract, this sacred union is made the deepest ignominy of mankind, and the play-ball of human passions and caprice!


What is thought of mixed marriages, or marriages between Catholics and Protestants?

The Catholic Church has always condemned such marriages, because of the great dangers to which the Catholic party is unavoidably exposed as well as the offspring. Such marriages promote indifference in matters of religion, by which the spiritual life of the soul is destroyed; they are a hindrance to domestic peace, cause mutual aversion, quarrels, and confusion; they give scandal to servants; they interfere with the Christian education of the children, even render it impossible, and they frequently lead to apostasy and despair. But the Catholic Church condemns especially those mixed marriages, in which either all or a number of the children are brought up in heresy, and she can never bless and look upon those as her children who do not fear to withdraw themselves and their own children from the only saving faith, and expose them to the danger of eternal ruin. Therefore, those Catholics who enter the matrimonial union with Protestants, although the marriage if lawfully contracted is valid, commit a mortal sin if they permit their children to be brought up in heresy, and should it not be their full intention to bring up their children in the Catholic faith at the time of their marriage, they would commit a sacrilege.


What should the newly married couple do immediately after the ceremony is performed?

They should kneel and thank God for the graces received in this holy Sacrament, in such or similar words: "Ratify, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that which by Thy grace Thou hast wrought in us, that we may keep that which in Thy presence we have promised unto the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." That they may keep their promise made at the altar, they should always remember the duties laid down to them by the priest at the time of their marriage, and the exhortations which are taken from the epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:29, 31), wherein he instructs married people how they should comport themselves towards each other, and recalls to them as an example the union of Christ with His Church, and His love for her. To the husbands he says, they should love their wives as Christ loved His Church, for which He even gave Himself up to death; from this is seen, that men should assist their wives even unto death, in all need, and not treat them as servants. To the wives St. Paul says, that they as the weaker should be in all reasonable things obedient to their husbands, as the Church is obedient to Christ; for as Christ is the head of the Church, so is the husband the head of the wife. Experience proves there is no better way for women to win the hearts of their husbands than by amiable obedience and ready love, while, on the contrary, a querulous, imperative deportment robs them of their husbands' affections, and even causes them to be regarded with aversion. St. Paul says further; that husbands should love their wives (and consequently wives their husbands) as their own bodies, because married people are, as it were, one. They shall be two in one flesh; no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church (Eph. 5:29, 31). How unjustly and barbarously do those act, who, instead of loving one another, rather hate and outrage each other, and cause the loss of their property, and by detraction steal their honor! These do not consider that he who hates and disgraces his partner in life, hates and disgraces himself; while according to the words of St. Paul he who loves her, loves himself. If married people would remain in constant love and unity, it is most necessary that they should patiently bear with each other's infirmities, wrongs, and defects, exhort one another with mildness and affection, keep their adversities, trials, and sufferings as much as possible to themselves, and complain in prayer only to God, who alone can aid them. By impatience, quarrels, and complaints the cross becomes only heavier and the evil worse. Finally, not only on their wedding day, but often through life, they should earnestly consider that they have not entered the married state that they may inordinately serve the pleasures of the body, but to have children who will one day inhabit heaven according to the will of God; as the angel said to Tobias: "For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power" (Tob. 6:17).

PRAYER Most merciful Jesus! who didst work Thy first miracle at the wedding in Cana by changing water into wine, thereby revealing Thy divine power and majesty, and honoring matrimony: grant we beseech Thee, that Thy faithful may ever keep sacred and inviolate the holy sacrament of Matrimony, and that they may so live in it truthfully, in the fear of the Lord, that they may not put an obstacle in the way of obtaining heaven for themselves, and their children.

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Sermon of St. Alphonsus Liguori for the Second Sunday after Epiphany
On the Confidence With Which We Ought To Recommend Ourselves To The Mother Of God

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And the wine failing, the Mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine” JOHN ii. 3.

In the Gospel of this day we read that Jesus Christ, having been invited, went with his holy mother to a marriage of Cana of Galilee. ”The wine failing, Mary said to her divine Son: ”They have no wine.” By these words she intended to ask her Son to console the spouses, who were afflicted because the wine had failed. Jesus answered: “Woman, what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.” (John ii. 4.) He meant that the time destined for the performance of miracles was that of his preaching through Judea. But, though his answer appeared to be a refusal of the request of Mary, the Son, says St. Chrysostom, resolved to yield to the desire of the mother. ”Although he said, my hour is not yet come, he granted the petition of his mother.” (Hom, in ii. Joan.) Mary said to the waiters: “Whatever he shall say to you, do ye.” Jesus bid them fill the water-pots with water the water was changed into the most excellent wine. Thus the bride groom and the entire family were filled with gladness. From the fact related in this day’s gospel, let us consider, in the first point, the greatness of Mary’s power to obtain from God the graces which we stand in need of; and in the second, the tenderness of Mary’s compassion, and her readiness to assist us all in our wants.


First Point. The greatness of Mary’s power to obtain from God for us all the graces we stand in need of.

1. So great is Mary’s merit in the eyes of God, that, according to St. Bonaventure, her prayers are infallibly heard. “The merit of Mary is so great before God, that her petition cannot be rejected.” (De Virg., c. iii.) But why are the prayers of Mary so powerful in the sight of God? It is, says St. Antonine, because she is his mother. “The petition of the mother of God partakes of the nature of a command, and therefore it is impossible that she should not be heard.” (Par. 4, tit. 13, c. xvii., 4.) The prayers of the saints are the prayers of servants; but the prayers of Mary are the prayers of a mother, and therefore, according to the holy doctor, they are regarded in a certain manner as commands by her Son, who loves her so tenderly. It is then impossible that the prayers of Mary should be rejected.

2. Hence, according to Cosmas of Jerusalem, the intercession of Mary is all-powerful. ”Omnipotens auxilium tuum, Maria” It is right, as Richard of St. Lawrence teaches, that the son should impart his power to the mother. Jesus Christ, who is all-powerful, has made Mary omnipotent, as far as a creature is capable of omnipotence; that is, omnipotent in obtaining from him, her divine Son, whatever she asks. ”Cum autem eadem sit potestas filii et matris ab omnipotente filio, omnipotens mater facta est.” (Lib. 4, de Laud. Virg.)

3. St. Bridget heard our Saviour one day addressing the Virgin in the following words: “Ask from me whatever you wish, for your petition cannot be fruitless.” (Rev. 1. 1, cap. iv.) My mother, ask of me what you please; I cannot reject any prayer which you present to me; “because since you refused me nothing on earth, I will refuse you nothing in Heaven.” (Ibid.) St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says that Jesus Christ hears all the prayers of his mother, as if he wished thereby to discharge the obligation which he owes to her for having given to him his human nature, by consenting to accept him for her Son. ”Filius, exolvens debitum petitiones tuas implet.” (Orat. de Exitu Mar.) Hence, St. Methodius, martyr, used to say to Mary: “Euge, euge, quæ debitorum habeas filium, Deo enim universi debemus, tibi autem ille debitor est.” (Orat, Hyp. Dom.) Rejoice, rejoice, holy virgin; for thou hast for thy debtor that Son to whom we are all debtors; to thee he owes the human nature which he received from thee.

4. St. Gregory of Nicomedia encourages sinners by the assurance that, if they have recourse to the Virgin with a determination to amend their lives, she will save them by her intercession. Hence, turning to Mary, he exclaimed: “Thou hast insuperable strength, lest the multitude of our sins should overcome thy clemency.” O mother of God, the sins of a Christian, however great they may be, cannot overcome thy mercy. “Nothing,” adds the same saint, “resists thy power; for the Creator regards thy glory as his own.” Nothing is impossible to thee, says St. Peter Damian: thou canst raise even those who are in despair to hopes of salvation. ”Nihil tibi impossibile, quæ etiam desperates in spem salutis potes relevare.” (Ser. i. de Nat. B.V.)

5. Richard of St. Lawrence remarks that, in announcing to the Virgin that God has chosen her for the mother of his Son, the Archangel Gabriel said to her: “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found grace with God.” (Luke i. 30.) From which words the same author concludes: “Cupientes invenire gratiam, quæramus inventricem gratiæ.” If we wish to recover lost grace, let us seek Mary, by whom this grace has been found. She never lost the divine grace; she always possessed it. If the angel declared that she had found grace, he meant that she had found it not for herself, but for us miserable sinners, who have lost it. Hence Cardinal Hugo exhorts us to go to Mary, and say to her: O blessed lady, property should be restored to those who lost it: the grace which thou hast found is not thine for thou hast never lost the grace of God but it is ours; we have lost it through our own fault: to us, then, thou oughtest to restore it. “Sinners, who by your sins have forfeited the divine grace, run to the Virgin, and say to her with confidence: Restore us to our property, which thou hast found.”

6. It was revealed to St. Gertrude, that all the graces which we ask of God through the intercession of Mary, shall be given to us. She heard Jesus saying to his divine mother: “Through thee all who ask mercy with a purpose of amending their lives, shall obtain grace.” If all Paradise asked a favour of God, and Mary asked the opposite grace, the Lord would hear Mary, and would reject the petition of the rest of the celestial host. Because, says Father Suarez, “God loved the Virgin alone more than all the other saints.” Let us, then, conclude this first point in the words of St. Bernard: ”Let us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary; for she is a mother, and her petition cannot be rejected.” (Serm. de Aquæd.) Let us seek through Mary all the graces we desire to receive from God, and we shall obtain them; for she is a mother, and her son cannot refuse to hear her prayers, or to grant the graces which she asks from him.


Second Point. On the tender compassion of Mary, and her readiness to assist us in all our wants.

7. The tenderness of Mary’s mercy may be inferred from the fact related in this day’s Gospel. The wine fails the spouses are troubled no one speaks to Mary to ask her Son to console them in their necessity. But the tenderness of Mary’s heart, which, according to St. Bernardine of Sienna, cannot but pity the afflicted, moved her to take the office of advocate, and, without being asked, to entreat her Son to work a miracle. ”Unasked, she assumed the office of an advocate and a compassionate helper.” (Tom. 3, ser. ix.) Hence, adds the same saint, if, unasked, this good lady has done so much, what will she not do for those who invoke her intercession? “Si hoc non rogata perfecit, quid rogata perficiet ?”

8. From the fact already related, St. Bonaventure draws another argument to show the great graces which we may hope to obtain through Mary, now that she reigns in Heaven. If she was so compassionate on earth, how much greater must be her mercy now that she is in Paradise? “Great was the mercy of Mary while in exile on earth; but it is much greater now that she is a queen in Heaven; because she now sees the misery of men.” (St. Bona. in Spec. Virg., cap. viii.) Mary in Heaven enjoys the vision of God; and therefore she sees our wants far more clearly than when she was on earth; hence, as her pity for us is increased, so also is her desire to assist us more ardent. How truly has Richard of St. Victor said to the Virgin: “So tender is thy heart that thou canst not see misery and not afford succour.” It is impossible for this loving mother to behold a human being in distress without extending to him pity and relief.

9. St. Peter Damian says that the Virgin “loves us with an invincible love.” (Ser, i. de Nat. Virg.) How ardently soever the saints may have loved this amiable queen, their affection fell far short of the love which Mary bore to them. It is this love that makes her so solicitous for our welfare. The saints in Heaven, says St. Augustine, have great power to obtain grace from God for those who recommend themselves to their prayers; but as Mary is of all the saints the most powerful, so she is of all the most desirous to procure for us the divine mercy: ”Sicut omnibus sanctis potentior, sic omnibus est pro nobis sollicitior.

10. And, as this our great advocate once said to St. Bridget, she regards not the iniquities of the sinner who has recourse to her, but the disposition with which he invokes her aid. If he comes to her with a firm purpose of amendment she receives him, and by her intercession heals his wounds, and brings him to salvation. ”However great a man’s sins may be, if he shall return to me, I am ready instantly to receive him. Nor do I regard the number or the enormity of his sins, but the will with which he comes to me; for I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, because I am called, and truly am, the mother of mercy.”

11. The blessed Virgin is called a “fair olive tree in the plains:” “Quasi oliva speciosa in campis.” (Eccl. xxiv. 19.) From the olive, oil only comes forth; and from the hands of Mary only graces and mercies flow. According to Cardinal Hugo, it is said that she remains in the plains, to show that she is ready to assist all those who have recourse to her: “Speciosa in campis ut omnes ad earn confugiant.” In the Old Law there were five cities of refuge, in which not all, but only those who had committed certain crimes, could find an asylum; but in Mary, says St. John Damascene, all criminals, whatever may be their offences, may take refuge. Hence he calls her “the city of refuge for all who have recourse to her.” Why, then, says St. Bernard, should we be afraid to approach Mary? She is all sweetness and clemency; in her there is nothing austere or terrible: “Quid ad Mariam accedere trepidat humana fragilitas? Nihil austerum in ea, nihil terribile, tota sauvis est.

12. St. Bonaventure used to say that, in turning to Mary, he saw mercy itself receiving him. “When I behold thee, O my lady, I see nothing but mercy.” The Virgin said one day to St. Bridget: “Miser erit, qui ad misericordiam cum possit, non accedit.” Miserable and miserable for eternity shall be the sinner who, though he has it in his power during life to come to me, who am able and willing to assist him, neglects to invoke my aid, and is lost, ”The devil” says St. Peter, ”as a roaring lion goeth about seeing whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. v. 8.) But, according to Bernardine a Bustis, this mother of mercy is constantly going about in search of sinners to save them. “She continually goes about seeking whom she may save.” (Maril. par. 3, ser. iii.) This queen of clemency, says Richard of St. Victor, presents our petitions, and begins to assist us before we ask the assistance of her prayers; “Velocius occurrit ejus pietas quam invocetur, et causas miserorum anticipat.” (In Can., c. xxiii.) Because, as the same author says, Mary’s heart is so full of tenderness towards us, that she cannot behold our miseries without affording relief. ”Nee possis miserias scire, et non sub venire.

13. Let us, then, in all our wants, be most careful to have recourse to this mother of mercy, who is always ready to assist those who invoke her aid. ”Invenies semper paratam auxiliari,” says Richard of St. Lawrence. She is always prepared to come to our help, and frequently prevents our supplications: but, ordinarily, she requires that we should pray to her, and is offended when we neglect to ask her assistance. ”In te domina peccant,” says St. Bonaventure, “non solum qui tibi injuriam irrogant, sed etiam qui te non rogant.” (In Spec. Virg.) Thou, blessed lady, art displeased not only with those who commit an injury against thee, but also with those who do not ask favours from thee. Hence, as the same holy doctor teaches, it is not possible that Mary should neglect to succour any soul that flies to her for protection; for she cannot but pity and console the afflicted who have recourse to her. ”Ipsa enim non misereri ignorat et miseris non satisfacere.”

14. But, to obtain special favours from this good lady, we must perform in her honour certain devotions practised by her servants; such as, first, to recite every day at least five decades of the Rosary; secondly, to fast every Saturday in her honour. Many persons fast every Saturday on bread and water: you should fast in this manner at least on the vigils of her seven principal festivals. Thirdly, to say the three Aves when the bell rings for the Angelus Domini; and to salute her frequently during the day with an Ave Maria, particularly when you hear a clock strike, or when you see an image of the Virgin, and also when you leave or return to your house. Fourthly, to say every evening the Litany of the Blessed Virgin before you go to rest; and for this purpose procure an image of Mary, and keep it near your bed. Fifthly, to wear the scapular of Mary in sorrow, and of Mount Carmel. There are many other devotions practised by the servants of Mary; but the most useful of all is, to recommend yourself frequently to her prayers. Never omit to say three Aves in the morning, to beg of her to preserve you from sin during the day. In all temptations have immediate recourse to her, saying: “Mary, assist me.” To resist every temptation, it is sufficient to pronounce the names of Jesus and Mary; and if the temptation continues, let us continue to invoke Jesus and Mary, and the devil shall never be able to conquer us.

15. St. Bonaventure calls Mary the salvation of those who invoke her: “salus te invocantium.” And if a true servant of Mary were lost (I mean one truly devoted to her, who wishes to amend his life, and invoke with confidence this advocate of sinners), this should happen either because Mary would be unable or unwilling to assist him. But, says St. Bernard, this is impossible: being the mother of omnipotence and of mercy, Mary cannot want the power or the will to save her servants. Justly then is she called the salvation of all who invoke her aid. Of this truth there are numberless examples: that of St. Mary of Egypt will be sufficient. After leading for many years a sinful and dissolute life, she wished to enter the church of Jerusalem in which the festival of the holy cross was celebrated. To make her feel her miseries, God closed against her the door which was open to all others: as often as she endeavoured to enter, an invisible force drove her back. She instantly perceived her miserable condition, and remained in sorrow outside the church. Fortunately for her there was an image of most holy Mary over the porch of the church. As a poor sinner she recommended herself to the divine mother, and promised to change her life. After her prayer, she felt encouraged to go into the church, and, behold! the door which was before closed against her she now finds open: she enters, and confesses her sins. She leaves the church, and, under the influence of divine inspiration, goes into the desert, where she lived for forty-seven years, and became a saint.



Homilies of St. Thomas Aquinas - Second Sunday after Epiphany



HOMILY III. THE LAW OF HOSPITALITY


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

Given to hospitality."— Rom. xii. 13.


In this Epistle, which is altogether full of moral precepts, we are exhorted to great hospitality, to which four motives ought chiefly to move us. Firstly, the command of the Lord. Secondly, the example of the saints. Thirdly, the loss which is sustained by not exercising hospitality. Fourthly, the manifold advantage in its exercise. 

I. On the first head it is to be noted that the Lord enjoined hospitality by a threefold law—the law of nature, the old and the new law. (1) He commanded, by the law of nature, that as we desire to receive hospitality from others, so we should shew it to others—S. Matt. vii. 12, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (2) By the old law—Isa. lviii. 7, "Is it not to deal My bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?" Deut. xxvi. 12, "The stranger, the fatherless, the widow, that they may eat within thy gates and be filled." (3) By the new law— Heb. xiii. 2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers." 

II. On the second head it is to be noted that the example of the saints teach us three things about hospitality —(1) That we should constrain strangers to “come in unto us." S. Luke xxiv. 29, "They constrained them, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” (2) That we should protect our guests from harm—Gen. xix. 4, 8, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly ......... ; with these men do nothing, for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof;" whence we may learn that it was a patriarchal custom to protect guests from violence (3) That with joy and gladness we should minister abundantly to their necessities—Gen. xviii. 3, 6, 7, “Pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. ......... And Abraham said, Make ready quickly these measures of fine meal; and Abraham ran unto the herd:” this history teaches us how with joy and gladness we ought abundantly to minister unto Strangers. 

III. On the third head it is to be noted that three evils are incurred by those who are unwilling to exercise hospitality. (1) They are here punished by the Lord—Wisd.. xix. 13-16, "Others, indeed, received not strangers unknown to them, but these brought their guests into bondage that had deserved well of them. And not only so, but in another respect also they were wise; for the others against their will received strangers, but these grievously afflicted them whom they had received with joy. But they were struck with blindness.” (2) They shall be confounded in the judgment—S. Matt. xxv. 43, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.” (3) They shall be shut up in an evil habitation—S. Matt. xxv. 4, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

IV. On the fourth head it is to be noted that for three reasons we ought to be given to hospitality. (1) By doing this we gain grace, as the woman of Samaria who talked with Christ. (2) By doing this we frequently entertain saints and angels—Heb. xiii. 1, * Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (3) By doing this, we shall be received into an eternal, heavenly, and glorious habitation—S. Matt. xxv. 33, 34, «I was a stranger, and ye took me in. ......... Come, ye blessed children of My Father, inherit the Kingdom," &c.



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HOMILY IV. THE DUTIES OF MARRIAGE.

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE ÉPIPHANY.—(FROM THE GOSPEL.)

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the Mother of Jesus was there." —S. John ii. 1.


Four marriages are spoken of in Holy Scripture—the first, historical; the second, allegorical; the third, tropological; the fourth, anagogical. (1) The literal marriage is the carnal union between the man and the woman; (2) the allegorical is between Christ and His Church; (3) the tropological between God and the soul; (4) the anagogical between God and the Church Triumphant. Of the first, Esth. ii. 18, “The King made a great feast with all his princes and servants" on the occasion of his marriage with Esther. Of the second, S. Matt. xxii. 2, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King which made a marriage for his son." Of the third, Hosea ii. 19, "I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness.” Of the fourth, S. Matt. xxv. 10, "They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage.” We now treat of the literal marriage, which, firstly, God sanctioned in three ways; which, secondly, implies three conditions.

I. On the first head it is to be noted that the literal marriage (1) God ordained in Paradise—Gen. i. 28, "God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." (2) He confirmed it by His Word— S. Matt. xix. 6, "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (3) He honoured it by His presence—“ Both Jesus was called," &c. (4) He magnified it by a miracle— "The ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine." 

II. On the second head it is to be noted that in literal marriages there should be present three good qualities. (1) Faith, that the marriage bed be not violated—1 Cor. vii. 4, “The husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." (2) Offspring, that children may be generated for the Lord—1 S. Tim. ii. 15, "She shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith." (8) An oath, that neither can be separated the one from the other—Eph. v. 32, “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." The first good despoils the adulterers, of whom Heb. xiii. 4— "Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge;" the second, those who either procure barrenness, or bring up their children not to worship and serve
God; the third, those who commit adultery, or marry two wives at the same time—Rom. vii. 3, "If while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.” So we learn what are the hindrances to unlawful marriage.