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INSTRUCTION FOR THE THIRD 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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INTROIT Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmity, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty for our protection. Through our protection. Through our etc.

EPISTLE (Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, having peace with all men; not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this, thou shaft heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

Quote:When are we overcome by evil?

When we wish to take revenge. "Revenge is no sign of courage," says St. Ambrose, "but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh word." "Are you impatient," says the same saint, "you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome."


What should we do if our reputation is injured?

We should leave its revenge, or its defence and protection to God, who has retained that for Himself. "But as a good name," says St. Francis de Sales, "is the main support of human society, and as without it we could not be useful to that society, but even hurtful to it on account of scandal, we should feel bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim after a good reputation, and to preserve it." We should not be too sensitive about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable, and only tends to excite and increase the malice of the detractors. The silence and contempt with which we meet a slander or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or revenge. The contempt of a slander at once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness, and gives the accusation an appearance of probability. If this does not suffice, and the slander continues, let us persevere in humility' and lay our honor and our soul into the hands of God, according to the admonitions of the Apostle.


How do we "heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?"

When we return him good for evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains these words thus: "By giving food and drink or doing other kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for love." Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good to those that hate and persecute you.

ASPIRATION Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine on the just and the unjust!


GOSPEL (Matt. VIII. 1-13.) At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him; and behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell no man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying: Lord, my servant Beth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and to another: Come, and he cometh; and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I sad to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee; and the servant was healed at the same hour.


Why did the leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean"?

He believed Christ to be the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him. From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God, who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee, and well for me, grant my petition.


Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?

To show that He was not subject to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving, curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day, who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick!


Why did Christ command the leper to tell no man?

To instruct us that we should not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise, (Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.


Why did Christ send the healed leper to the Priest?

That he might observe the law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean: that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah; and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.


What it taught by the centurion's solicitude for his servant?

That masters should take care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments. It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without assistance or care.


Why did Christ say: I will come and heal him?

Because of His humility, by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to visit a sick servant. Here Christ's humility puts to shame many persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the wants of a poor servant.


Why did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof?

Because he recognised Christ's divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself as unworthy to receive Christ into his house. From this we learn to humble ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion's words, exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.


Why did he add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?

By this he publicly manifested his faith in Christ's divinity and omnipotence, because he believed that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word. If a Gentile centurion had such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence in God?


What is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior darkness?

This was said by Christ in reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God's chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven, will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Thus it will be with those Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore, fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God's grace, be eternally rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.


ASPIRATION O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper's faith and confidence, that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion's humility, that for Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.

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ON RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD
Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. VIII. 2.)
Those who in adversity as well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them, be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens as they wish, because they know no will but God's, they desire nothing but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that fear Him. (Ps. CXLIV. 10.)

In the lives of the ancient Fathers we find the following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors'. They asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it, because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered more than ever: How could that be? "I never desire other weather," he replied, "than God wills; and because my desires are conformable to His, He gives me the fruits I wish." This submission to the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimmed joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions. Who would not aspire to so happy a state? We will attain it if we believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for God can never be the cause of them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God, (Eccles. XI. 14.) that is, are permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark VII. 37.)

Whoever keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.


INSTRUCTION FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS

The master of a house should be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of the pious Jacob, (Gen. XXX. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because of the just Joseph. (Gen. XXXIX. 5.) The master should look to the morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious subjects in his house, for he must, after this life, give an account before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin, keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives? Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters? The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith, will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the Apostle writes:

But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I. Tim. V. 8.)

Subjects should learn from the centurion's servants who obeyed his only word, that they also should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Col. III. 22-24.)
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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We have kept for the end of this volume the five following Sundays, in order not to interrupt the order of the Feasts, which are kept during the forty days of Christmastide; as also, because the variation of Easter Sunday necessitates, almost every year, a different arrangement from that in which they stand in the Missal. Septuagesima often comes in January, and the Feast of the Purification is occasionally later than Quinquagesima Sunday. We were obliged to provide for these changes, and simplify them for the Faithful, by adopting our present plan.

It also happens, that the 3rd and 4th Sundays after the Epiphany, (even in years when they could be kept,) have to be omitted, owing to the occurrence of a Double feast: and feasts of this class are frequent (During the last fifteen days of January. In this case, the Church simply makes a commemoration of the occurring Sunday, at the Collect, Secret, and Post-communion; and the Gospel of the Sunday is read in place of St. John’s, at the end of Mass.

The Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, take precedence of Double feasts; and, as we have already noticed, the Purification itself is deferred till the following day, if it fall on any of these three Sundays.


Mass

The Introit represents the Angels of God adoring him on his entrance into this world, as St. Paul explains this passage of the Psalms. The Church celebrates, with David, the gladness of Sion, and the joy of the daughters of Juda.


Introit
Adorate Deum omnes Angeli ejus: audivit et lætata est Sion, et exsultaverunt filiæ Judæ. 
Ps. Dominus rengavit, exsultet terra, l&aelit;tentur insulæ multæ. ℣. Gloria Patri. Adorate.

Adore God, all ye his Angels: Sion heard and was glad, and the Daughters of Juda rejoiced.

Ps. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice, let many islands be glad. ℣. Glory, &c. Adore.


Collect
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, infirmatatem nostram propitius respice: atque ad protegendum nos, dexteram tuæ majestatis extende. Per Dominum

O Almighty and Eternal God, mercifully behold our weakness, and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty to protect us. Through, &c.


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

 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.


The third Prayer is one of the following:

Against the persecutors of the Church
Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis secura tibi serviat libertate. 

Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church, that all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure and undisturbed devotion.


For the Pope
Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et Rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice; da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest, proficere; ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum. 

O God, the Pastor and Governor of all the Faithful, look down in thy mercy on thy servant N. whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant, we beseech thee, that, both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge, and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive, at length, at eternal happiness. Through, &c.


Epistle

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Romans. Ch. xii.

Brethren, be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.
Quote:This love of our neighbor, recommended to us by the Apostle, is a consequence of that universal brotherhood, which our Savior, by his Birth, brought us from heaven. He came to establish peace between heaven and earth; men, therefore, ought to be at peace one with another. Our Lord bids us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil by good:—and did not he first practice this by coming among us, who were children of wrath, that he might make us children of adoption by his humiliations and his sufferings?


In the Gradual, the holy Church again celebrates the coming of the Emmanuel, and invites all nations, and all the kings of the earth, to come and praise his holy name.

Gradual
Timebunt gentes Nomen tuum, Domine, et omnes reges terræ gloriam tuam. 
℣. Quoniam ædificavit Dominus Sion, et videbitur in majestate sus. 

Alleluia, alleluia
℣. Dominus regnavit: exsultet terra, lætentur insulæ multæ. Alleluia.
The Gentiles shall fear thy Name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
℣. For the Lord hath built up Sion, and he shall be seen in his glory.

Alleluia, alleluia.
℣. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice; let many islands be glad. Alleluia.


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

At that time: when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him: And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Quote:The human race was infected the leprosy of sin: the Son of God touches it by the mystery of the Incarnation, and restores it to health. But he requires that the sick man, now that he is healed, shall go and show himself to the Priest, and comply with the ceremonies prescribed by the law; and this to show that he allows a human priesthood to cooperate in the work of our salvation. The vocation of the Gentiles, of which the Magi were the first fruits, is again brought before us in the faith of the Centurion. A Roman Soldier, and millions like him, shall be reputed as true children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; while they who are the sons of this Patriarch according to the flesh, shall be cast out from the feast chamber into the gloom of blindness; and their punishment shall be given as a spectacle to the whole earth.

Let men, then, saved as he has been by the coming of the Emmanuel, sing a hymn of praise to the power of the God who has wrought our salvation by the strength of his almighty arm. Man had been sentenced to death; but now that he has God for a Brother, he shall not die: he will live: and could he spend his life better than in praising the works of this God that has saved him?


Offertory
Dextera Domini fecit virtutem, dextera Domini exaltavit me: non moriar, sed vivam, et narrabo opera Domini. 

The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength, the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me. I shall not die, but live, and shall declare the works of the Lord.


Secret
Hæc hostia, Domini, quæsumus, emundet nostra delicta: et sacrificium celebrandum subditorum tibi corpora, mentesque sanctificet. Per Dominum. 

May this offering, O Lord, we beseech thee, cleanse away our sins: and sanctify the bodies and souls of thy servants, to prepare them for worthily celebrating this sacrifice. Through, &c.


Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Muneribus nostris, quæsumus, Domine, precibusque susceptis; et cœlestibus nos munda mysteriis, et clementer exaudi. 
Receive, O Lord, our offerings and prayers: cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries, and mercifully hear us.


Against the persecutors of the Church
Protege, nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. 
Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries, that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee both in body and mind.


For the Pope
Oblatis, quæsumus, Domine placare muneribus, et famulum tuum N., quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum. 
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made, and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.


Preface
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu Sancto unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in unius singularitate, Personæ, sed in unius Trinitate substantiæ. Quod enim de tua gloria,, revelante te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione veræ, sempiternæque Deitatis, et in Personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in Majestate adoretur æqualitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim quoque ac Seraphim; qui non cessant clamare quotidie una voce dicentes, Sanctus, &c.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, Who together with thy Only Begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God and one Lord: not in a singularity of one Person, but in a Trinity of one substance. For what we believe of thy glory, as thou hast revealed, the same we believe of thy Son and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or distinction. So that in the confession of the true and eternal Deity, we adore a distinction in the Persons, a unity in the essence, and an equality in the Majesty. Whom the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim praise, and cease not daily to cry out with one voice, saying, Holy, &c.

After having distributed the Bread of Life, the Church reminds us how the people were in admiration at the words of Jesus. The children of the Church, initiated into all his Mysteries are, at this moment, enjoying the effects of that ineffable Word, by means of which the Redeemer has changed the bread into his Body, and the wine into his Blood.


Communion
Mirabantur omnes de his quæ procedebant de ore Dei. 

All wondered at the words that came from the mouth of God.


Postcommunion
Quos tantis, Domine, largiris uti mysteriis, quæsumus ut effectibus nos eorum veraciter aptare digneris. Per Dominum.

We beseech thee, O Lord, that we, to whom thou vouchsafest the use of these great mysteries, may be made truly worthy to receive the benefits thereof. Through, &c


Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hæc nos communio, Domine, purget a crimine; et intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, coalestis 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.


Against the persecutors of the Church
Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas sujacere periculis. 

We beseech thee, O Almighty God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries.


For the Pope
Hæc nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N., quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, una cum commissio sibi grege, salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum. 

May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defense to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.



VESPERS

The Psalms, Antiphons, Capitulum, Hymn, and Versicle, are given above: Vespers for Sundays and Feasts during Christmas.

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT

Ant. Domine, si vis, potes me mundare: et ait Jesus: Volo, mundare. 
Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, infirmitatem nostram propitius respice: atque ad protegendum nos dexteram tuae majestatis extende. Per Dominum. 

Ant. O Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus saith: I will: be thou cleansed.
Let us pray.
O Almighty and God, mercifully behold our weakness, and stretch the right hand of thy majesty to protect us. Through, etc.


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Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Third Sunday after Epiphany


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Sermon VIII – Third Sunday After the Epiphany – On the Remorse of the Damned
by St. Alphonsus Liguori


But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” MATT. viii. 12.

In the Gospel of this day it is related that, “when Jesus Christ entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion beseeching him” to cure his servant, who lay sick of the palsy. Jesus answered: “I will come and heal him.” “No,” replied the centurion,  “I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” (v. 8.) Seeing the centurion’s faith, the Redeemer instantly consoled him by restoring health to his servant; and, turning to his disciples, he said: “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” By these words our Lord wished to signify, that many persons born in infidelity shall be saved, and enjoy the society of the saints, and that many who are born in the bosom of the Church shall be cast into Hell, where the worm of conscience, by its gnawing, shall make them weep bitterly for all eternity. Let us examine the remorses of conscience which, a damned Christian shall suffer in Hell.

First remorse, arising from the thought of the little which he required to do in order to save his soul. Second remorse, arising from the remembrance of the trifles for which he lost his soul. Third remorse, arising from the knowledge of the great good which he has lost through his own fault.


First remorse of the damned Christian, arising from the thought of the little which he required to do in order to save his soul.

1. A damned soul once appeared to St. Hubert, and said, that two remorse’s were her most cruel executioners in Hell: the thought of the little which was necessary for her to have done in this life to secure her salvation; and the thought of the trifles for which she brought herself to eternal misery. The same thing has been said by St. Thomas. Speaking of the reprobate, he says: “They shall be in sorrow principally because they are damned for nothing, and because they could most easily have obtained eternal life.” Let us stop to consider this first source of remorse; that is, how few and transitory are the pleasures for which all the damned are lost.  Each of the reprobate will say for eternity: If I abstained from such a gratification; if in certain circumstances I overcame human respect; if I avoided such an occasion of sin such a companion, I should not now he damned; if I had frequented some pious sodality; if I had gone to confession every week; if in temptations I had recommended myself to God, I would not have relapsed into sin. I have so often proposed to do these things, but I have not done them. I began to practise these means of salvation, but afterwards gave them up; and thus I am lost.

2. This torment of the damned will be increased by the remembrance of the good example given them by some young companions who led a chaste and pious life even in the midst of the world. It will be still more increased by the recollection of all the gifts which the Lord had bestowed upon them, that by their co-operation they might acquire eternal salvation; the gifts of nature health, riches, respectability of family, talents; all gifts granted by God, not to be employed in the indulgence of pleasures and in the gratification of vanity, but in the sanctification of their souls, and in becoming saints. So many gifts of grace, so many divine lights, holy inspirations, loving calls, and so many years of life to repair past disorders. But they shall for ever hear from the angel of the Lord that for them the time of salvation is past. “The angel whom I saw standing, swore by Him that liveth for ever and ever. . . . that time shall be no longer.” (Apoc. x. 6.)

3. Alas! what cruel swords shall all these blessings received from God be to the heart of a poor damned Christian, when he shall see himself shut up in the prison of Hell, and that there is no more time to repair his eternal ruin! In despair he will say to his wretched companions: “The harvest is past; the summer is ended; and we are not saved.” (Jer. viii. 20.) The time, he will say, of gathering fruits of eternal life is past; the summer, during which we could have saved our souls, is over, but we are not saved: the winter is come; but it is an eternal winter, in which we must live in misery and despair as long as God shall be God.

4.O fool, he will say, that I have been! If I had suffered for God the pains to which I have submitted for the indulgence of my passions if the labours which I have endured for my own damnation, had been borne for my salvation, how happy should I now be! And what now remains of all past pleasures, but remorse and pain, which now torture, and shall torture me for eternity? Finally, he will say, I might be for ever happy and now.[ must be for ever miserable. Ah! this thought will torture the damned more than the fire and all the other torments of Hell.


Second remorse of the damned, arising from the remembrance of the trifles for which they lost their souls.

5. Saul forbid the people, under pain of death, to taste food. His son Jonathan, who was then young being hungry, tasted a little honey. Having discovered that Jonathan had violated the command, the king declared that he should die. Seeing himself condemned to death, Jonathan said with tears: ”I did but taste a little honey, and behold I must die.” (1 Kings xiv. 43.) But the people, moved to pity for Jonathan, interposed with his father, and delivered him from death. For the unhappy damned there is no compassion; there is no one to intercede with God to deliver them from the eternal death of Hell. On the contrary, all rejoice at the just punishment which they suffer for having wilfully lost God and Paradise for the sake of a transitory pleasure.

6. After having eaten the pottage of lentiles for which he sold his right of primogeniture, Esau was tortured with grief and remorse for what he had lost, and “roared out with a great cry.” (Gen. xxvii. 34.) Oh! how great shall be the roaring and howling of the damned, at the thought of having lost, for a few poisonous and momentary pleasures, the everlasting kingdom of Paradise, and of being condemned for eternity to a continual death!

7.The unfortunate reprobate shall be continually employed in reflecting on the unhappy cause of their damnation. To us who live on earth our past life appears but a moment ~ but a dream. Alas! what will the fifty or sixty years which they may have spent in this world appear to the damned, when they shall find themselves in the abyss of eternity, and when they shall have passed a hundred and a thousand millions of years in torments, and shall see that their miserable eternity is only beginning, and shall be for ever in its commencement? But have the fifty years spent on this earth been full of pleasures? Perhaps the sinner, living in enmity with God, enjoyed uninterrupted happiness in his sins? How long do the pleasures of sin last? Only for a few minutes; the remaining part of the lives of those who live at a distance from God is full of anguish and pain. Oh! what will these moments of pleasure appear to a damned soul, when she shall find herself in a pit of fire?

8. ”What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things have passed away like a shadow.” (Wis. v. 8.) Unhappy me! each of the damned shall say, I have lived on earth according to my corrupt inclinations; I have indulged my pleasures; but what have they profited me? They have lasted but for a short time; they have made me lead a life of bitterness and disquietude; and now I must burn in this furnace for ever, in despair, and abandoned by all.


Third remorse of the damned, arising from the knowledge of the great good which they have lost by their own fault.

9. A certain queen, blinded by the ambition of being a sovereign, said one day: “If the Lord gives me a reign of forty years, I shall renounce Paradise.” The unhappy queen reigned for forty years; but now that she is in another world, she cannot but be grieved at having made such a renunciation. Oh! how great must be her anguish at the thought of having lost the kingdom of Paradise for the sake of a reign of forty years, full of troubles, of crosses, and of fears! ”Plus cœlo torquetor, quam gehenna,” says St. Peter Chrysologus. To the damned the voluntary loss of Paradise is a greater loss than the very pains of Hell.

10. The greatest pain in Hell is the loss of God, that sovereign good, who is the source of all the joys of Paradise. ”Let torments,” says St. Bruno, ”be added to torments, and let them not be deprived of God.” (Serm, de Jud. fin.) The damned would be content to have a thousand Hells added to the Hell which they suffer provided they were not deprived of God; but their Hell shall consist in seeing themselves deprived for ever of God through their own fault. St. Teresa used to say, that when a person loses, through his own fault, a trifle a small sum of money, or a ring of little value the thought of having lost it through his own neglect afflicts him and disturbs his peace. What then must be the anguish of the damned in reflecting that they have lost God, a good of infinite value, and have lost him through their own fault?

11. The damned shall see that God wished them to be saved, and had given them the choice of eternal life or of eternal death. “Before man is life and death, that which he shall choose shall be given to him.” (Eccles.” xv. 18.) They shall see that, if they wished, they might have acquired eternal happiness, and that, by their own choice, they are damned. On the day of judgment they shall see many of their companions among the elect; but, because they would not put a stop to their career of sin, they have gone to end it in Hell. “Therefore we have erred,” they shall say to their unhappy associates in Hell; we have erred in losing Heaven and God through our own fault, and our error is irreparable. They shall continually exclaim: “There is no peace for my bones because of my sins.” (Ps. xxxvii. 4.) The thought of having been the cause of their own damnation produces an internal pain, which enters into the very bones of the damned, and prevents them from ever enjoying a moments repose. Hence, each of them shall be to himself an object of the greatest horror. Each shall suffer the pain threatened by the Lord: “I will set THEE before thy face.” (Ps. xlix. 21.)

12. If, beloved brethren, you have hitherto been so foolish as to lose God for a miserable pleasure, do not persevere in your folly. Endeavour, now that you have it in your power, to repair your past error. Tremble! Perhaps, if you do not now resolve to change your life, you shall be abandoned by God, and be lost for ever. When the Devil tempts you, remember Hell, the thought of Hell will preserve you from that land of misery. I say, remember Hell and have recourse to Jesus Christ and to most holy Mary, and they will deliver you from sin, which is the gate of Hell.