Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
From Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays, and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year 36th edition, 1880

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THE Introit of the Mass is a humble prayer, by which we acknowledge that we are punished for our disobedience: All that thou hast done to us, O Lord, thou hast done in true judgment: because we have sinned against thee, and have not obeyed thy commandments: but give glory to thy name, and deal with us according to the multitude of thy mercy. (Dan. iii. 28.) Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. (Ps. cxviii.) Glory, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, in Thy mercy to Thy faithful pardon and peace; that they may both be cleansed from all their offences, and serve Thee with a quiet mind. Thro'.

EPISTLE. (Ephes.v. 15 — 21.) Brethren, See how you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury: but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father; being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.

Quote:How may we redeem time?

By employing every moment to gain eternal goods, even should we lose temporal advantages thereby; by letting no opportunity pass without endeavoring to do good, to labor and suffer for love of God, to improve our lives and increase in virtue.

Do you wish to know, says the pious Cornelius a Lapide, how precious time is: Ask the damned, for these know it from experience. Come, rich man, from the abyss of hell, tell us what you would give for one year, one day, one hour of time! I would, he says, give a whole world, all pleasures, all treasures, and bear all torments, if only one moment were granted me to have contrition for my sins, to obtain forgiveness of my crimes, I would purchase this moment with every labor, with any penance, with all punishments, torments, and tortures which men ever suffered in purgatory or in hell, even if they lasted hundreds, yes, thousand millions of years! O precious moment upon which all eternity depends! O, how many moments did you, my dear Christian, neglect, in which you could have served God, could have done good for love of Him, and gained eternal happiness by them, and you have lost these precious moments. Remember, with one moment of time, if you employ it well, you can purchase eternal happiness, but with all eternity you cannot purchase one moment of time!

ASPIRATION. Most bountiful God and Lord! I am heartily sorry, that I have so carelessly employed the time, which Thou hast given me for my salvation. In order to supply what I have neglected, as far as I am able, I offer to Thee all that I have done or suffered from the first use of my reason, as if I had really to do and suffer it still; and I offer it in union with all the works and sufferings of our Saviour, and beg fervently, that Thou wilt supply, through His infinite merits, my defects, and be pleased with all my actions and sufferings.

Be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury! [On the vice of drunkenness see the third Sunday after Pentecost. Here we will only speak of those who make others drunk by encouragement.] The Persian King Assuerus expressly forbade, that any one should be urged to drink at his great banquet. (Esth. i. 8.) This heathen who knew from the light of reason, that it is immoral to lead others to intemperance, will one day rise in judgment against those Christians who, enlightened by the light of faith, would not recognize and avoid this vice. Therefore the Prophet Isaias (v. 22.) pronounces woe to those who are mighty in drinking and know how to intoxicate others; and St. Augustine admonishes us, by no means to consider those as friends, who by their fellowship in drinking would make us enemies of God.

GOSPEL. (John iv. 46 — 53.) At that time, There was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him, and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.


I. God permitted the son of the ruler to become sick that he might ask Christ for the health of his son, and thus obtain true faith and eternal happiness. In like manner, God generally seeks to lead sinners to Himself, inasmuch as He brings manifold evils and misfortunes either upon the sinner himself or on his children, property, &c. Hence David said: It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications, (Ps. cxviii. 71.) and therefore he also asked God to fill the faces of sinners with shame, that they should seek His name. Ps. lxxxii. 17.1 This happened to those of whom David says: Their infirmities were multiplied.-afterwards they hastened in returning to God. (Ps. xv. 4.) O, would we only do the same! When God sends us failure of crops, inundations, hail-storms, dearth, war, &c, He wishes nothing else than that we abandon sin, and return to Him. But what do we? Instead of hastening to God, we take refuge in superstition, or we murmur against Him, find fault with or even blaspheme His sacred regulations; instead of removing our sins by sincere penance, we continually commit new ones, by murmuring and impatience, by hatred and enmity, by rash judgments, as if the injustice and malice of others were the cause of our misfortune. What will become of us if neither the benefits nor the punishments of God make us better?

II. Christ said to this ruler: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. This was a reprimand for his imperfect faith; for if he had truly believed Christ to be the Son of God, he would not have asked Him to come to his house, but, like the centurion, would have believed Him able, though absent, to heal His son. {Matt, viii.) Many Christians deserve the same rebuke from Christ, because they lose nearly all faith and confidence in God, when He does not immediately help them in their troubles, as they wish. He proves to us how displeasing such a want of confidence is to Him by withdrawing His assistance and protection from the fickle and distrustful. (Ecclus. ii. 15.)

III. How much may not the example of the father of a family accomplish! This ruler had no sooner received the faith, than his whole household was converted and believed in Christ. Fathers and mothers by their good example, by their piety, frequent reception of the Sacraments, by their meekness, temperance, modesty and other virtues, may accomplish incalculable good among their children and domestics.

There was a certain ruler whose son was sick. (John iv. 16.)

AS a consolation in sickness, you should consider that God sends you this affliction for the welfare of your soul, that you may know your sins; or if you be innocent, to practice patience, humility, charity, &c., and increase your merits. Therefore a holy father said to one of his companions, who complained, because he was sick: "My son! if you are gold, then you will be proved by sickness, but if you are mixed with dross, then you will be purified." "Many are vicious in health," says St. Augustine, "who would be virtuous in sickness;" and St. Bernard says: "It is better to arrive at salvation through sickness, than to have health and be damned."

It is also a powerful means of consolation in sickness, to represent the suffering Redeemer to ourselves, who had no soundness from the top of His head to the sole of His foot, and contemplating whom St. Bonaventure used to cry out: "O Lord, I do not wish to live without sickness, since I see Thee wounded so much."

When sick, we should carefully examine, whether we possess any ill-gotten goods, or have any other secret sin on our conscience; and if we are conscious of any, we should quickly free ourselves from it by a contrite, sincere confession, and by restoring the things belonging to others. Sins are very often the cause of disease, and God does not bless the medicine unless the sickness has its purpose, that is, the sinners amendment. Still less can we expect help, but rather temporal and eternal misfortune, if we have recourse to superstition and spells, as the King Ochozias experienced, who was punished with death, because in sickness he had recourse to the idol Beelzebub, (iv Kings i.)

PRAYER. O Jesus, Thou true physician of souls, who dost wound and heal us, yea, dost even permit sorrows and adversities to visit us that our souls may have health, grant us the grace to use every bodily pain according to Thy merciful designs for the promotion of our salvation.

Come down before my son die. (John iv. 49.)

ALL who have the charge of sick persons, should be like this father, that is, they should first of all endeavor to call upon Jesus to come in the most holy Sacrament, before the sick person is unable to receive Him. The devil seeks to hinder nothing more than this. He excites the imagination of the sick person, making him believe that he can live longer, that he will certainly get well again, in order to ruin him easier afterwards, because he defers his conversion. Those contribute to this end who through fear of frightening the sick person or of annoying him, fail to call the priest at the right time. This is cruel love, which deprives the sick person of the salvation of his soul and eternal happiness, and brings with it a terrible responsibility. Where there is question of eternity, no carefulness can be too great. We should, therefore, choose the safest side, because the suffering may easily increase and finally make the sick person unable to attend to the affairs of his soul. We should, therefore, not conceal from him the danger in which he is, and if he has still the use of his reason, should call in the priest that he may receive the Last Sacraments. He will not die sooner on that account, but rather derive the greatest benefit therefrom, since his conscience will be cleansed from sin, which may be the cause of his sickness, and perhaps, he may regain his health, or at least be strengthened by the newly received grace of God, to bear his pains with greater patience and to die far easier, securer, and more consoled.

We should also endeavor to encourage the sick person to resignation, and a childlike confidence in God, should pray with him to strengthen him against desponding thoughts, and the temptations of the devil; we should present him a crucifix to kiss;repeat the holy names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and other consolatory ejaculations, such as are found in prayer-books; should sign him with the sign of the cross; sprinkle him with holy water, and above all pray for a happy death. We should not weep and lament, by which death is only made harder for him, nor should we hold useless, idle and worldly conversations with him which will prevent him from thinking of God and the salvation of his soul, and from preparing himself for the last dangerous struggle. Finally, we should by no means suffer in his presence persons who have given him occasions of committing sin, because they would be obstacles to his sincere conversion.

There is truly no greater work of charity than to assist our neighbor to a happy death.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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The Gospel of last Sunday spoke to us of the nuptials of the Son of God with the human race. The realization of those sacred nuptials is the object which God had in view by the creation of the visible world; it is the only one he intends in his government of society. This being the case, we cannot be surprised that the parable of the Gospel, while revealing to us this divine plan, has also brought before us the great fact of the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles, which is not only the most important fact of the world’s history, but is also the one which is the most intimately connected with the consummation of the mystery of the divine Union.

And yet, as we have already said, the exclusion of Juda is, one day, to cease. His obstinate refusal of the grace has been the occasion of us Gentiles having it brought to us by the messengers of God’s loving mercy. But now that the fullness of the Gentiles has heard and followed the heavenly invitation, the time is advancing when the accession of Israel will complete the Church in her members and give the Bride the signal of the final call, which will put an end to the long labor of ages, by making the Bridegroom appear. The holy jealousy, which the Apostle was so desirous to rouse, in the people of his race, by turning towards the Gentiles, will make itself, at last, be felt by the descendants of Jacob. What joy will there not be in heaven when they, repentant and humble, shall unite before God in the song of gladness sung by the Gentiles, in celebration of the entrance of his countless jewish people into the house of the divine banquet! That union of the two people will truly be a prelude to the great day mentioned by St. Paul when, speaking in his patriotic enthusiasm of the Jews, he said: If their offense (if their fall) hath been the riches of the world, and their diminution be the riches of the Gentiles—how much more the fullness of them!

Now, the Mass of this twentieth Sunday after Pentecost gives us a foretaste of that happy day, when the gratitude of the new people is not to be the only one to sing hymns of praise for the divine favors bestowed on our earth. The ancient Liturgists tell us that our Mass consists partly of the words of the Prophets, giving to Jacob an expression of his repentance, whereby he is to merit a return of God’s favors, and partly of inspired formulas, wherein the Gentiles, who are already within the hall of the marriage-feast, are singing their canticles of love. The Gentile-Choir takes the Gradual and Communion-Anthem; the Choir of the Jews, the Introit and Offertory.

The Introit is from the book of Daniel. Exiled to Babylon with his people, the Prophet—in that captivity whose years of bitterness were a figure of the still longer and intenser sufferings of the present dispersion—laments, with Juda, in that strange land, and at the same time instructs his people how they may be readmitted into God’s favor. It is a secret which Israel had lost ever since his commission of the crime on Calvary; though, in the previous ages of his history, he knew the happy secret, and had continually experienced its efficacy. What it was, it still is, and ever will be: it consists in the humble avowal of the sinner’s falls, in the suppliant regret of the culprit, and in the sure confidence that God’s mercy is infinitely above the sins of men, how grievous soever those may have been.

Omnia, quæ fecisti nobis, Domine, in vero judicio fecisti: quia peccavimus tibi, et mandatis tuis non obedivimus: sed, da gloriam nomini tuo: et fac nobiscum secundum multitudinem misericordiæ tuæ.
All things whatsoever thou hast done unto us, O Lord, thou hast done by a just judgment: for we have sinned, and disobeyed thy commandments: but, glorify thy name: and deal with us according to thy great mercy.

Ps. Beati immaculati in via: quia ambulant in lege Domini. Gloria Patri. Omnia.
Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory, &c. All things.

The divine forgiveness, which restores the soul to purity and peace, is the indispensable preparation for the sacred marriage-feast; for the wedding garment of its guests must, under pain of exclusion, be without a stain; their heart too must be without bitterness, lest it should cause the Bridegroom to be offended. Let us implore this precious pardon. Our Lord is all the more ready to grant it us when we ask it through his beloved Bride, the Church, our beloved Mother. Let us unite our voices with hers, and say her Collect.

Largire, quæsumus Domine, fidelibus tuis indulgentiam placatus, et pacem: ut pariter ab omnibus mundentur offensis, et secura tibi mente deserviant. Per Dominum.
Being appeased, O Lord, bestow pardon and peace upon thy Faithful; that they being also cleansed from all their offenses (against thee), may serve thee with a secure mind. Through, &c.

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

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul, the Apostle, to the Ephesians. Ch. v.

Brethren: See therefore, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, But as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the holy Spirit, Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father: Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ.

Quote:As the nuptials of the Son of God approach their final completion, there will be also, on the side of hell, a redoubling of rage against the Bride, with a determination to destroy her. The dragon of the Apocalypse, the old serpent who seduced Eve, will vomit his vile foam, as a river, from his mouth—that is, he will urge on all the passions of man, that they may league together for her ruin. But do what he will, he can never weaken the bond of the eternal alliance; and having no power against the Church herself, he will turn his fury against the last children of the new Eve, who will have the perilous honor of those final battles, which are described by the Prophet of Patmos.

It is then more than at all previous times that the Faithful will have to remember the injunction given to us by the Apostle in today’s Epistle; that is, they will have to comport themselves with that circumspection which he enjoins, taking every possible care to keep their understanding, no less than their heart, pure in those evil days. Supernatural light will, in those days, not only have to stand the attacks of the children of darkness, who will put forward their false doctrines; it will, moreover, be minimized and falsified by the very children of the light yielding on the question of principles; it will be endangered by the hesitations and trimmings and human prudence of those who are called far-seeing men. Many will practically ignore the master-truth, that the Church never can be overwhelmed by any created power. If they do remember that our Lord has promised himself to uphold his Church even to the end of the world, they will still have the impertinence to believe that they do a great service to the good cause by making certain politically clever concessions, which, if they were tried in the balance of the sanctuary, would be found under weight! Those future worldly-wise people will quite forget that our Lord will have no need for helping him to keep his promise of crooked schemes, however shrewd those may be; they will entirely overlook this most elementary consideration—that the cooperation, which Jesus deigns to accept, at the hands of his servants, in the defense of the rights of his Church, never could consist in the grabling, or in the disguisement, of those grant truths which constitute the power and beauty of the Bride. Is it possible that they will forget the Apostle’s maxim, which he lays down in his Epistle to the Romans—that the conforming oneself to this world—the attempting an impossible adaptation of the Gospel to a world that is un-christianized—is not the means for proving what is the good, and acceptable, and the perfect will of God. So that it will be a thing of great and rare merit, in many an occurrence of those unhappy times, to merely understand what is the will of God, as our Epistle expresses it.

Look to yourselves, would St. John say to those men, that ye lose not the things which ye have wrought; make yourselves sure of the full reward, which is only given to the persevering thoroughness of doctrine and faith! Besides, it will be then, as in all other times, that, according to the saying of the Holy Ghost, the simplicity of the just shall guide them, and far more safely, than any human ingenuity could do; humility will give them Wisdom; and, keeping themselves closely united to this noble companion, they will be made truly wise by her, and will know what is acceptable to God. They will understand that aspiring, like the Church herself, to union with the eternal Word—fidelity to the Spouse, for them, as it is for the Church, is nothing else than fidelity to the truth; for the Word, who is the one same object of love to both of them, is, in God, no other than the splendor of infinite truth. Their one care, therefore, will ever be to approach nearer and nearer to their Beloved by a continually increasing resemblance to him; that is to say, by the completest reproduction, both in their words and works, of the beautiful Truth. By so doing, they will be serving their fellow creatures in the best possible way, for they will be putting in practice the counsel of Jesus, who bids them seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and confide in him for all the rest. Others may have recourse to human and accommodating combinations, fitted to please all parties; they may put forward dubious compromises which (so their suggestors think), will keep back, for some weeks, or some months perhaps, the fierce tide of revolution—but those who have God’s spirit in them will put a very different construction on the admonition given us, by the Apostle, in today’s Epistle, where he tells us to redeem the time.

It was our Lord who bought time, and at a great price; and he bought it for us, that it might be employed, by his faithful servants, in procuring glory for God. By most men, it is squandered away in sin or folly; but those who are united to Christ, as living members to the Spouse of their souls, will redeem it; that is, they will put such an intensity into their faith and their love, that as far as it is possible for human nature, not a moment of their time shall be anything but an earnest undiminished tribute of their service of their Lord. To the insolent and blasphemous things, which are then to be spoken by the Beast, these determined servants of God will give, for their brave answer, the cry of St. Michael, which he uttered against Satan, who was the helper of the Beast: Who is like unto God!

These closing weeks of the year used, in olden times, to be called: Weeks of the holy Angel. We have seen, in one of these Sundays, how there was announced the great Archangel’s coming to the aid of God’s people, as Daniel, the Prophet, had foretold would be at the end of the world. When, therefore, the final tribulations shall commence; when exile shall scatter the Faithful and the sword shall slay them, and the world shall approve all that, prostrate, as it then will be, before the Beast and his image—let us not forget that we have a leader chosen by God, and proclaimed by the Church; a leader who will marshal us during those final combats in which the defeat of the Saints will be more glorious than were the triumphs of the Church, in the days when she ruled the world. For what God will then ask of his servants will not be success of diplomatical arrangements, nor a victory won by arms, but fidelity to his truth, that is, to his Word; a fidelity all the more generous and perfect, as there will be an almost universal falling off around the little army fighting under the Archangel’s banner. Uttered by a single faithful heart, and under such circumstances, and uttered with the bravery of faith and the ardor of love—the cry of St. Michael, which heretofore routed the infernal legions will be a greater honor to God than will be the insult offered to him by the millions of the degraded followers of the Beast.

Let us get thoroughly imbued with these thoughts, which are suggested by the opening lines of our Epistle. Let us also master the other instructions it contains, and which after all, differ but little from the ones we have been developing. On this Sunday, when formerly was read the Gospel of the nuptials of the Son of God, and the invitation to his divine banquet—our holy Mother, the Church, appropriately in the Epistle, bids us observe the immense difference there is between these sacred delights and the joys of the world’s marriage feasts. The calm, the purity, the peace of the just man, who is admitted into intimacy with God, are a continual feast to his soul; the food served up at that feast is Wisdom; Wisdom too is the beloved Guest, who is unfailingly there. The world is quite welcome to its silly and often shameful pleasures; the World and the soul, which, in a mysterious way, he has filled with the Holy Spirit, join together to sing to the eternal Father in admirable unison; they will go on, forever, with their hymns of thanksgiving and praise, for the materials of both are infinite. The hideous sight of the earth’s inhabitants, who will then, by thousands, be paying homage to the harlot who sits on the Beast and offers them the golden cup of her abominaions—no, not even that will interfere in the least with the bliss caused in heaven by the sight of those happy souls on earth. The convulsions of a world in its last agony, the triumphs of the woman drunk with the blood of the martyrs—far from breaking in on the harmony which comes from a soul which is united with the Word, they will but give greater fullness to her notes which sound forth the divine, and greater sweetness to the human music of the human song. The Apostle tells all this in his own magnificent way, where he says: Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? True, it is written: For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter;—but in all these things, we overcome, because of Him that hath loved us. For I am sure, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

In the Introit, the Jewish people sang its repentance and humble confidence; and now, in the Gradual, we have the Gentiles proclaiming, in music taught them by the Church, how, in the delights of the nuptila banquet, their hopes have been realized, yea, and surpassed.

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine: et tu das illis escam in tempore opportuno.
The eyes of all do hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them meat in due season.

℣. Aperis tu manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione.
℣. Thou openest thy hand, and fillest every living creature with thy blessing.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum, cantabo, et psallam tibi, gloria mea.
℣. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing, and give praise on my glory. Alleluia.

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

At that time: There was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father therefore knew, that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.

Quote:The Gospel for today is taken from St. John; it is the first and only time, during the whole course of these Sundays after Pentecost. It gives the twentieth Sunday the name of Ruler of Capharnaum. The Church has selected this Gospel on account of its bearing a certain mysterious relation to the state the world will be in, when those last days shall come, which the Liturgy of this close of the Church’s Year is so continually and prophetically bringing before us.

The world is drawing towards its end; like the Ruler’s son, it begins to die. Tormented by the fever of the passions, which have been excited in Capharnaum, the city of business and pleasure—it is too weak to go itself to the Physician who could cure it. It is for its father, for the pastors, who, by baptism, gave it the life of grace, and govern the christian people as rulers of the holy Church—it is for them to go to Jesus and beseech him to restore the sick man to health. St. John begins this account by mentioning the place where they were to find Jesus: it was at Cana, the city of the marriage feast, and where he first manifested his power in the banquet hall; it is in heaven that the Man-God abides, now that he has quitted our earth, where he has left his disciples deprived of the Bridegroom, and having to pass a certain period of time in the field of penance. Capharnaum signifies the field of penance and of consolation, which penance brings with it. Such was this earth intended to be, when Man was driven from Eden; such was the consolation to which, during this life, the sinner was to aspire; and because of his having sought after other consolations—because of his having pretended at turning this field of penance into a new paradise—the world is now to be destroyed. Man has exchanged the life-giving delights of Eden for the pleasures which kill the soul and ruin the body, and drawn down the divine vengeance.

There is a remedy for all this, and only one—it is the zeal of the pastors, and the prayers of that portion of Christ’s flock, which has withstood the torrent of universal corruption. But it is of the utmost important that, on this point, the Faithful and their Pastors should lay aside all personal considerations and thoroughly enter into the spirit which animates the Church herself. Though treated with the most revolting ingratitude and injustice and calumny and treachery of every sort, this Mother of mankind forgets all these her own wrongs, and thinks only of the true prosperity and salvation of the very countries which despise her. She is well aware that the time is at hand when God will make justice triumphant; and yet she goes on struggling, as Jacob did, with God, until there come the dawn of that terrible day, foretold by David and the sibyl. At the thought of the pool of fire, whose hellish vapors are already seeming to infest our atmosphere, and into which are to be plunged her rebellious children, she looks almost as though she forgot the approach of the eternal nuptials, and had lost her vehement longings as a Bride. One would say that she thinks of nothing but of her being a Mother; and as such, she keeps on praying as she has always been doing, only more fervently than ever—that the end may be deferred—pro mora finis.

That we may fulfill her wishes, let us, as Tertullian says, “assemble together in one body, that we may, so to speak, offer armed force to God by our prayers. God loves such violence as that.” But that our prayer may have power of that kind, it must be inspired by a faith which is thorough, and proof against every difficulty. As it is our faith which overcometh the world, so it is likewise our faith which triumphs over God, even in cases which seem beyond all human hope. Let us do as our Mother does, and think of the danger incurred by those countless men who madly play on the brink of the precipice, into which, when they fall, they fall forever. It is quite true they are inexcusable; it was only last Sunday that they were reminded of the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the exterior darkness which they will undergo who despise the call to the King’s marriage feast: but they are our brethren, and we should not be so quietly resigned at seeing them lose their souls. Let us hope against all hope. Our Lord, who knew with certainty that obstinate sinners would be lost, did he, on that account, hesitate to shed all his Blood for them?

It is our ambition to unite ourselves to him, by the closest possible resemblance; let us then be resolved to imitate in that also, were occasion to serve us; at all events, let us pray, and without ceasing, for the Church’s and our enemies, so long as we are not assured of their being lost. It is here that nothing is useless, nothing is thrown away; for come what may, God is greatly honored by our faith, and by the earnestness of our charity.

Only, let us be careful not to merit the reproach uttered by our Redeemer against the limping faith of the fellow townsmen of the Ruler of Capharnaum. We know that our Jesus has no need to come down from heaven to earth in order to give efficiency to the commands of his gracious will. If he deign to multiply signs and wonders around us, we will rejoice at them, because of our brethren who are weak of faith, we will make them an occasion for exalting his holy name—but we will lovingly assure him that our soul had no need of new proofs of his power, in order to believe in him!

The Jewish people, while enduring its well-merited captivity, and straying along the river banks of Babylon, has grown repentant, and in our Offertory, joins our Mother the Church in singing the admirable hundred and thirty-sixth Psalm; there never was such a song of exile.

Super flumina Babylonis illis sedimus, et flevimus, dum recordaremur tui, Sion.
Upon the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered thee, O Sion!

The whole power of the God, who, with a word, cures both soul and body, resides in the Mysteries which are about to be celebrated on our Altar here. Let us, in the Secret, beseech him, that their effects may tell on our hearts.

Cœlestem nobis præbeant hæc mysteria, quæsumus Domine, medicinam: et vitia nostri cordis expurgent. Per Dominum.
May these mysteries, O Lord, we beseech thee, procure us a heavenly remedy, and cleanse away the vices of our hearts. Through, &c.

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

The word spoken of in the Communion-Anthem as having raised man up from the abyss of his misery is that of the Gospel, which calls mankind, saying, Come to the marriage! But although deified by his participation, here below, in the Mystery of faith, man aspires to the perfect and eternal Union which is to be in the mid-day of glory.

Memento verbi tui servo tuo, Domine, in quo mihi spem dedisti: hæc me consolata est in humilitate mea.
Remember, O Lord, thy word to thy servant, and by which thou gavest me hope: this hath comforted me in my distress.

Ut sacris, Domine, reddamur digni muneribus: fac nos, quæsumus, tuis semper obedire mandatis. Per Dominum.
That we may be worthy of thy sacred gifts, O Lord, grant, we beseech thee, that we may always obey thy commandments. Through, etc.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick."--John 4, 46.

Of all the consequences of original sin there exists one which, without exception, is common to all the children of Adam, and that is, death. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned," says St. Paul. And again: "It is appointed for all men once to die." Almost as certain and universal as death, is its forerunner, sickness--a truth which daily experience teaches us. How many and what painful diseases are the portion of this poor mortal frame! Look at the long list enumerated in the physicians report! Think how soon sickness puts in its claims on us; not only the aged and debauched, but innocent little children feel the power of its torturing hand, and even helpless babes can not escape.

If, instead of accepting these visitations as coming from God, we are inclined to murmur, let us reflect that they are sent not only to punish us for our manifold rebellions against a God to whom we are inbebted for every blessing, but also that we may gather a glorious harvest of merits for eternity, by patiently accepting them in union with the most holy will of God. Let us consider today with what disposition of heart we should bear each sickness which is sent us, that we may derive therefrom profit for the salvation of our souls.

Mary, health of the weak, obtain for us the grace to employ our time, both in sickness and in health, to the honor of God and the salvation of our souls. I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

The manner in which we bear sickness is of great importance, as we can see by the effects produced by it upon the mind. As man is composed of a soul and body, the latter, when enfeebled by illness, frequently influences the soul in a most injurious manner. The sick who are not blessed with the knowledge that in illness, as in health, God can be glorified, look upon such visitations with aversion and abhorrence, and only find in them occasions of murmuring against their Creator, and what they wickedly term His injustice. Many weary their attendants beyond measure, are guilty of sin by their impatience, and never give a thought to the duty of resignation to the divine will. Nay, some forget themselves so far as to break forth into curses at their affliction. Experience teaches, that even to the good and pious sickness is a sad trial, and one that severely tests their virtue. Thus, of holy Job, Satan said to the Lord, that if He would but overwhelm that righteous servant with troubles and trials there would soon be an end of his piety and devotion. Even the saints have felt this effect of sickness. Witness the great St. Teresa. Having suffered from a violent fever, she says that she could never have believed that sickness would or could produce such a change in any one as she experienced in the course of hers. And we have all, no doubt, felt the same during illness. Persons who have been generally blessed with good health, and whose piety seemed so solid and fervent that nothing could weaken it, have, during an attact of illness, become so impatient, feverish and irritable that they could scarcely be recognized as the same.

Therefore, is it not most advisable and reasonable to so dispose our souls during health that when our divine Lord, in His goodness, sees fit to afflict us with illness we may not repine, but receive it with patience? Otherwise we may increase the torments which, perhaps, await us at its termination in purgatory. Let it be your care, then, to meditate frequently upon the disposition in which you will accept the sickness which will certainly one day be your portion, and resolve to bear it with such resignation that those pains, so repugnant to our ease-loving nature, may, even more than the good works we can perform during health, tend to the sanctification of our souls.

Try, then, to bear with patience the pains of illness; the more severe the pain, the more fervently you can offer it up to Him who suffered so much for you, and thus you will become most dear to the sacred heart of our Lord, sanctifying not only your own soul, but the souls of others also, by your good example.

To those who truly love God, every thing tends to promote their salvation, and this is especially true of sickness. Therefore, when the hand of the Lord is heavy upon you, and your enfeebled frame lies weak and powerless, lift up your heart, O Christian, in loving humility to your God, and accept the affliction, acknowledging that you deserve it all, and promise to endure it in atonement for your sins. Do not fail to renew this offering many times during the day, because the pains of body which prostrate you will tend to weaken those salutary dispositions of the mind.

In this penitential spirit you may also sweeten the bitterness of the remedies prescribed, thus turning them into merits for eternal life. Moreover, my dear brethren, you should look upon sickness as the forerunner of death; even though the disease may not be dangerous, it should prove a serious reminder and a powerful admonition. Say to yourself: "Before long my last illness may come, and how then will I wish to have spent my life?"

A sick person can not fail to realize how empty is every thing which has hitherto proved an obstacle in the way of his salvation--wealth, honor, the applause of his fellow-men. Those sensual pleasures which he has enjoyed so fully in health can not avail him on his sick-bed.

The great St. Augustine says that many a one would have gone on leading a sinful life had he not been interrupted by an attack of sickness. Then, what a real blessing such visitations must be if they produce the acknowledgment: "Vanity of vanities, all is but vanity save to love and serve God, and thus secure my own salvation."

In sickness a person can not labor as in health for the honor and glory of God; but he can, in another way, glorify God, viz., by submitting himself to the most holy will of God, by patiently bearing His sufferings, and by having the will, as well as the intention, to do good to his neighbor when he shall be able. Most acceptable to God is the practice of offering up the pains of sickness for the deliverance of the souls in purgatory, and for the conversion of sinners. Open the "Lives of the Saints" and you will see that it was in such a manner they endured the sickness with which God was pleased to visit them.

The sick should be particularly solicitous about their spiritual welfare, and take advantage of the time afforded them to attend to the welfare of their soul, first, by receiving the Holy Sacraments not only once, but, if the sickness be prolonged, as often as possible; and, secondly, as soon as the physician shall have pronounced the malady to be dangerous, they should ask to receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and, by heroic patience and endurance of pain, be to all around a bright example. Let sick persons, as the termination of their illness draws near, and the last moments of life approach, try not only to resign themselves to the will of God, but to put themselves in such a disposition as to accept death willingly, and in the manner in which God, by this present illness, pleases to send it. All those Christians who, when sickness is sent to them, accept it in the manner above described will find that, for them, that pain so severe and trying is a hidden treasure, wherein may be found the most glittering gems and precious stones of virtue to adorn their heavenly crowns, and the plegdes of a happy death! Amen!

"And he prayed Him to heal his son."--John 4, 47.

The Gospel today presents for our consideration a father anxious for the restoration of his son, seeking our divine Lord that he might beg of Him the health of his child. In this we find no cause for wonder, since not only is it the duty of parents to care for the welfare of their children, but their own love impels them to make all possible exertions for their comfort and recovery in sickness.

The duty of caring for the sick is one which concerns not parents only, but calls upon every one to lend a helping hand, as far as he is able, and the situation of the sick person requires it. It is included in the commandment of love of our neighbor, to which naturally succeeds the injunction of Christ, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Therefore, as there are few who have not in sickness felt the need of the kindly aid and gentle ministrations of some pitying friends, be charitable when you are well, my dear brethren, and fail not to visit and comfort the sick.

Since the fall of our first parents, man has been constantly subject to illness, so that opportunities are never wanting to practise this excellent virtue.

Therefore, to remind you of your duty in regard to the sick, will be the object of my discourse today. No good work is more meritorious than attendance upon the sick.

Mary, saluted by the Church as health of the sick, obtain for us but a portion of the ineffable compassion with which thy immaculate heart is filled, that we may lend our neighbor, both spiritually and bodily, assistance in the sicknesses sent him by thy divine Son! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the honor and glory of God!

"Be not slow to visit the sick, for by these things thou shall be confirmed in love." This is the admonition of the Holy Ghost, as we read in the Old Testament, and although this obligation, as I have already observed, is founded on the precept: "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself," there are other reasons why we should exercise kindness towards our suffering fellow-creatures.

Not only does this charity benefit them, but we ourselves are thereby benefited temporally and assisted spiritually. Temporally, because in assisting the sick with loving care, we set an example of good will and charity which will incite others to do likewise. We will so edify those with whom we come in contact that when our time for sickness arrives, they will, if possible, attend upon us.

We will derive spiritual profit in caring for the sick, for, in suggesting to them acts and prayers suitable to their condition, thoughts and sentiments must surely be awakened within us, which will be of the greatest profit to our souls. We will have occasion to practise many virtues in the sick-room, especially patience.

Our solicitude regards immediately the bodily welfare of the sick. We must try to alleviate their sufferings, and promote their recovery by securing or advising the attendance of a skillful physician, and seeing that the remedies are properly administered, and the directions conscientiously carried out.

Should a sick person be so afflicted as to be helpless, his attendants will have still greater merit in caring for him, which is true also of contagious or loathsome diseases. What acts of heroic virtue have not the saints practised in this regard! Some have even gone so far as to apply their lips to disgusting sores and suck out the poisonous matter. And it is recorded in several instances that such magnanimous victories over self were so pleasing to God that He restored the sick persons to health.

Think of such bright examples when you are called upon to perform duties repugnant to human nature for the sick. Many religious orders, as the Theatines, have taken vows to attend the sick, no matter what is their disease; and when pestilence rages in all its horrors, they joyfully go forth, perhaps to die.

A glorious occasion of merit is afforded by attending to those stricken down with some lingering disease, as consumption. How replete with charity, and how pleasing to God, is such attention! Greater merit, perhaps, can be gained by remaining with those unfortunate persons whom God has afflicted with nervous diseases, convulsions, or even insanity, where the patience of an attendant may be often and severely tried. There are many families whose children, from their earliest infancy, have been subject to epilepsy or falling sickness, and who are delicate until they have attained their full growth. In such cases parents can lay up a store of merits for eternal life by bearing with patience the heavy cross.

Parents whose children have been visited by illness, resulting in a total loss of reason, may derive consolation from the thought that these children may, at least, die in their innocence. It would be well for such parents to look upon the afflictions of their children, and all the trouble entailed upon them in consequence, as a purgatory, wherein they can atone for their sins. And, indeed, in many instances, such trials are sent in punishment of the sins of drunkenness, excess, and impurity which they have committed. If it be our duty to provide for the bodily comfort of sick persons, it is a far more essential one to bestow every attention upon their spiritual condition.

First, then, my brethren, you should seek to awaken such sentiments in the mind and heart of the invalid as will enable him to accept the sickness as coming from the hand of a loving Father; and while exhorting him to bear patiently his suffering, remind him that not a single hair can fall from our heads without the permission of that heavenly Father.

Secondly, constantly revive his courage by reminding him that in sickness, perhaps even more than in health, he can love God and do His holy will; that he can behold, as St. Bede advises, in his pains a method of anticipating and canceling those infinitely greater ones of purgatory. This voluntary expiation of our sins is not merely expiatory, like the pains of purgatory, but also meritorious for heaven.

One can make rapid strides towards perfection, and even lead others along the path to paradise during the weary hours spent upon a bed of sickness; he can prove the liveliness of his faith, the firmness of his hope, and the ardor of his charity towards God.

But, above all, those who are in attendance should see that the sick person neglects not to send for his spiritual guide, and be fully reconciled with God and prepared for death, should there be any danger of a fatal termination of the disease. Let no false shame, or motives of human respect, or mistaken kindness deter you, who have charge of the sick, from the performance of this duty. So far from being a kindness, it is the greatest cruelty to keep an invalid in ignorance of the danger he is in; however, it is unnecessary, and even wrong, to tell the solemn and often unwelcome truth so abruptly as to increase the danger.

Many physicians, even those differing from us in faith, have testified that a worthy reception of the Sacraments is most beneficial and conducive to recovery, on account of the peace and calm resulting therefrom. And, according to St. James, extreme unction was instituted to restore also bodily health if it be the will of God.

It is more prudent far to take the safer alternative, for, later on, the illness may take such a turn as to prevent all preparation for, and reception of, the Holy Sacraments. Oh, how many souls have been lost for ever through the mistaken kindness of their friends! Husbands and wives, parents and children, mark well my words, for if you neglect this sacred duty it may be a source of never-ending regret!

Should the sickness be a protracted one, care should be observed not to spend time in the sick-room, in conversing upon worldly or frivolous topics. Rather select some edifying subject or read aloud, if the state of the patient permit, from time to time, some portion of the "Lives of the Saints." All who in this manner visit the sick, remembering the promise of our divine Saviour, that whatsoever is done to the least of His brethren He will look upon as done to Himself, may certainly have every reason to hope that at the last day they will hear those blessed words: "Enter into the joy of the Lord; for I was sick, and you visited Me!" Amen!

"Lord, come down before that my son die."--John 4, 49.

This anxious father went with all haste to Jesus, but not until the illness of his son had reached such a point that his life was despaired of, and then he begged the Lord Jesus to restore that son to health. His prayer was granted; the boy recovered, but only by a miracle.

From this circumstance, I will take occasion to speak today of a singular infatuation which prevails to an alarming extent both among the sick and those in health, and which is fraught with danger to the soul. I allude to the delay of conversion. Confession is postponed from day to day, for each one hopes that he will have time for reconciliation with God, even though advancing age or increasing weakness should prove the futility of that hope.

I am sure that scarcely a sinner exists in whose breast a lingering spark of faith still glimmers, who does not cherish the hope that, at some future time, he may return to his duty. Yes, although he may have given over his soul to the devil, he does not despair to return to God, though it be at his dying hour. Very good! There is a possibility, of course, that he may be converted by a miracle at the last; but what folly to wait for a miracle! O folly! folly! O blind and infatuated worldlings!

A preacher can scarcely ever select this subject for a discourse to his hearers without having before him some one to whom it applies.

My subject today, therefore, shall be the great danger in which the soul is placed, of eternal reprobation, by this lamentable delay in returning to God.

Mary, patroness of a happy death, pray that thy poor, erring children may obtain the grace of a true conversion, and return, without delay, to the service of thy Son! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

"Delay not to be converted to thy God; today when thou shalt hear His voice, do not harden thy heart." The Holy Ghost thus admonishes us; our own conscience whispers the same. Let us not still its voice; but walk according to the light of faith and the dictates of reason.

There are many, even among Catholics, who delay their conversion until the hand of the Lord is upon them, and they are stretched upon their dying bed. During life their object seemed to be to defraud their Creator of the love and obedience due Him; and now they would even defraud the devil of what they so assiduously prepared for him. Can aught but a miracle save such a creature? What can be said to one who thus delays his conversion?

Listen, sinner! your cry is: "Tomorrow! tomorrow! yet, for a little while, I will drive the thought of God away! "By this you acknowledge that you intend to change your life at some future time; then, too, you admit that at present you are leading an evil life. A sick person tries to obtain relief without delay. Christian! sinner! is corporal illness to be mentioned in the same breath with that dreadful malady which oppresses your soul? There is but one evil, but it is the origin and source of all evils, and that is: Sin! You believe this, and yet your cry is: "Tomorrow! tomorrow!" O folly! O presumption! You say: "Another time! Then, according to your own confession, sin is no gain. No, it is not. On the contrary, it is loss. And what a loss! It means the loss of God, of heaven, of all that is worth having, if you die in your present state.

Is there one among you who, losing a sum of money, would not immediately take steps to recover it? And what is money in comparison to divine grace? Christian! sinner! some other time, do you say? Would you say to the physician who comes to you in sickness: "I do not require your services now; come some other time; come in a month or a year?" Behold, you are sick unto death; and, according to St. Ambrose, your malady is either pride, avarice, anger, gluttony, envy or impurity. Christ is your Physician, the Sacrament of Penance your remedy; use it, and be healed.

"Some other time," you say. If a conflagration were raging in your vicinity, and waves of the fiery sea were rolling madly towards your home, would you say: "Tomorrow! tomorrow! it will be time enough then to extinguish the flames?"

"Some other time," you say. If you fell from a ship into the ocean; and if I, seeing you fall, hastened to your rescue, would you repulse my aid, and say: "Tomorrow! tomorrow! it will be time enough then?"

O sinner! your soul is engulfed in the restless waves of passion, and the priests of your Holy Church eagerly extend a helping hand, longing to aid you; but you say: "Some other time; I am not in danger yet!"

Now, I ask you one question: Will it always be in your power to return to God? You fain would answer : Yes! and believe you are in the right; but I must warn you that you may be most sadly mistaken. You are free; but do you consider the force of habit?

Holy Scripture assures us that the young man does not turn in old age from the path he pursued in youth. There are exceptions, it is true; but experience tells us that they are few. And when did our Lord assure you that His efficacious grace would be ready for you whenever it suited your convenience to accept it?

"I will have time enough, later on I will listen to the voice of God." You have no assurance that you will. Listen to this terrible warning: " You shall seek Me, but you shall not find Me; you shall die in your sins! As our sins have their measure, so also has the grace of God, which He alone knows. And are you willing to expose yourself to the frightful risk of losing your soul? Be wise, and today when you hear His voice, harden not your heart. Do not say: "God is merciful, and I can repent even on my death-bed." He is merciful, but He is just also; and how many are called before the judgment-seat of Christ without a moment's warning! This is especially the case; in America, where fatal accidents are of constant occurrence. And even were you certain of the very day and hour of your death, are you sure that you will have a priest to assist you? Do not say: "Yes, I am sure; I live so near the Church, I can not fail to have the priest." I tell you, that were the priest to take up his abode in your very house, you could have no such assurance. Many have allowed themselves to be deluded thus; and, death surprising them, they have gone to "the house of their eternity" without the support and aid of the Holy Sacraments, and, perhaps, alas, have been lost forever!

Be not presumptuous in postponing your conversion; for even if you should have a priest to assist you in your last moments, could you, after a life spent in forgetfulness of God and His commandments, so dispose your soul in a moment as to benefit by his assistance? You know not in what state you will be in that awful hour. Your mind may be weakened, and your body enfeebled and convulsed with pain, so as to prevent you from making your confession properly. And could you be absolved in that helpless condition?

I do not say that the priest would not pronounce the words of absolution, but would they be of any avail? You might be unable to elicit one single act of heartfelt contrition.

What is meant by true contrition? That sorrow which will enable you to detest sincerely all that you for years have loved and esteemed more than God, to whom you are indebted for every thing. Consider it well, O sinner! You have loved the world and its creatures during a life-time, clinging to them as long as you could; and now that you see them slipping away, you pretend to forsake them, and to turn lovingly to that God towards whom you have been more than indifferent. Ah, friends! nothing less than a miracle of grace is needed here! The priest may be deceived; but to God the heart of the dying impenitent sinner is fully revealed in all its deformity. Think of the terrible examples we read in Holy Scripture! The dying Antiochus was loud in his professions of repentance and of resolutions to lead a godly life, if God would spare him. "He prayed to the Lord, of whom he was not to obtain mercy," because he only prayed as does a slave writhing under the pain of the lash. In health, he would have gone on in his wickedness. Therefore, O sinner! listen to the warning you receive today, and delay not to be converted to the Lord thy God!

We learn from this day's Gospel that the son grew better; for, as the ruler "was going down, his servant met him, and they brought him word that his son lived; and the father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, thy son liveth." Would that, from all here present, who are in mortal sin, the priest, in the tribunal of penance, could receive the blessed assurance, that during this sermon, " at the same hour" that you listened to my words, you resolved, within your hearts: "I will delay no longer; I will make a good confession, and save my soul." To which the whole celestial host cry: Amen!
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Fr. Hewko's Sermons for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost



2017 - Two Masses

2020 - Two Masses


"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Sermon of St. Alphonsus Liguori for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
On the Predominant Passion

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For he was at the point of death. Lord, come down before that my son die.” JOHN iv. 47, 49.

OUR passions are not of themselves bad nor hurtful, when regulated according to the dictates of reason and prudence, they do us no injury, but are, on the contrary, profitable to the soul; but, when disorderly, they are productive of irreparable mischief to those who obey them; for, when any passion takes possession of the heart, it obscures the truth, and makes the soul incapable of distinguishing between good and evil. Ecclesiasticus implored the Lord to deliver him from a mind under the sway of passion. “Give me not over to a shameless and foolish mind.” (Eccl. xxiii. 6.) Let us, then, be careful not to allow any bad passion to rule over us. In this day’s gospel it is related that a certain ruler, whose son was at the point of death (incipiebat enim mori), knowing that Jesus Christ had come into Galilee, went in search of him, and entreated him to come and cure his son. “Come down before that my son die.” The same may be said of him who begins to submit to the tyranny of any passion. “He is at the point of death”of the soul, which should be dreaded far more than the death of the body. Hence, if he wishes to preserve spiritual life, he ought to ask the Lord to deliver him as soon as possible from that passion Lord, come down before my soul die; if he do not, he shall be miserably lost. I intend Today to show the great danger of damnation to which all who submit to the domination of any bad passions are exposed.

1. “Only this,” said Solomon, “I found, that God made man right, and he hath entangled  himself with an infinity of questions.” (Eccl. vii. 30.)”God created man right” that is, in the state of justice; but, by giving ear to the serpent, man exposed himself to temptations, and was conquered. He rebelled against God, and his passions rebelled against himself. These are the passions which, according to St. Paul, cause a continual war between the flesh and the spirit. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.” (Gal. v. 17.) However, with the aid of divine grace, it is in man’s power to resist these passions, and not to allow them to rule over him. It is, as the Lord told Cain, even in the power of man to rule over them, and to bring them into subjection to reason. “But the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.” (Gen. iv. 7.) Let the assaults of the flesh and of the devil, to make us abandon the way of God, be ever so violent, Jesus Christ has said: “Lo! the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke xvii. 21.) Within us he has established a kingdom, in which the will is the queen that ought to rule over all the senses and passions. And what greater honour or glory can a man have, than to be the master of his passions?

2. The proper regulation of the motions of the mind constitutes the interior mortification so much recommended by spiritual masters, and secures the salvation of the soul. The health of the body depends on the regulation of the humours: if one of them predominate to excess it causes death. But the health of the soul consists in the proper control of the passions by reason. But, when any passion rules over reason, it first enslaves, and then kills the soul.

3. Many pay great attention to their external conduct; they endeavour to appear modest and respectful; but, at the same time, they cherish in their hearts sinful affections against justice, charity, humility, and chastity. For them is prepared the chastisement with which the Saviour threatened the Scribes and Pharisees, who were careful to have their cups and dishes clean, but nourished within unjust and unclean thoughts. “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish; but, within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.” (Matt, xxiii. 25.) The Royal Prophet says, that all the beauty of a soul that is the true daughter of God consists in an interior good will. “All the glory of the king*s daughter is within.” (Ps. xliv. 14.) Of what use, then, says St. Jerome, is it to  abstain from food, and at the same time to allow the mind to swell with pride? or to abstain from wine, and to indulge in the drunkenness of anger?” Quid prodest tenuari abstinentia, si animus superbia intumescit? quid vinum non bibere, et odio inebriari ?” Christians who act in this manner do not lay aside their vices; they only cover them with the mantle of devotion. A man, then, must divest himself of all bad passions; otherwise he will not be the king, but the slave of his affections, and in opposition to the command of the Apostle sin shall reign in his heart. “Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof.” (Rom. vi. 12.) Man, then, is, as St. Thomas says, the king of himself when he regulates his body and his carnal affections according to reason. “Rex est homo per rationem, quia per cam regit totum corpus et affectus ejus.” (In Joan, iv.) But, according to St. Jerome, “when the soul serves vice she loses the honour of a kingdom.” (In Thren., ii. 7.) She loses the honour of a queen, and becomes, as St. John teaches, the slave of sin. “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John viii. 34.)

4. St. James exhorts us to treat the body and its lusts as we would treat a horse. “We put a bridle in the mouth of a horse, and we bring him wherever we please. “We put bits in the mouths of horses, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.” (St. James iii. 3.) Hence, as soon as we feel the cravings of any bad passion, we must restrain it with the bridle of reason; for, if we yield to its demands, it will bring us to the level of brute animals, that obey not the dictates of reason, but the impulse of their beastly appetites. “And man, when he was in honour, did not understand: he is compared to senseless beasts, and is become like to them.” (Ps. xlviii. 13.)”It is worse,” says St, John Chrysostom, “to become like, than to be born, a senseless beast; for, to be naturally without reason is tolerable.” The saint says, that to want reason by nature is not disgraceful; but, to be born with the gift of reason, and afterwards to live like a beast, obeying the lusts of the flesh, is degrading to man, and makes him worse than a senseless brute. What would you say if you saw a man who would, of his own accord, live in a stable with horses, feed with them on hay and oats, and sleep, as they do, on dung? The man who submits to the tyranny of any passion, does what is far worse in the eyes of God.

5. It was thus the Gentiles lived, who, because the darkness of their understanding prevented them from discerning between good and evil, went wherever their sensual appetite led them. “That you walk not,” says St. Paul, “as also the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened.” (Ephes. iv. 17, 18.) Hence they were abandoned to their vices to impurity and avarice, and blindly obeyed the commands of their passions. “Who, despairing, have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness.” (verse 19.) To this miserable state are reduced all Christians who, despising reason and God, follow the dictates of passion. In punishment of their sins God abandons them, as he abandoned the Gentiles, to their own wicked desires. “Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their own heart.” (Rom. i. 24.) This is the greatest of all chastisements.

6. St. Augustine writes, that two cities may be built up in the heart of a Christian; one by the love of God, the other by self-love. “Cœlestem (civitatem) ædificat amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui; terrestrem ædificat amor sui usque ad contemptum Dei.” (Lib. li, de Civ., cap. xxviii.) Thus, if the love of God reign within us, we will despise ourselves: if self-love reign, we will despise God. But, in conquering self-love consists the victory to which shall be given a crown of eternal glory. This was the great maxim which St. Francis Xavier always inculcated to his disciples: “Conquer yourself; conquer yourself.” All the thoughts and feelings of man, says the Scripture, are inclined to evil from his boyhood. “The imagination and thought of man*s heart are prone to evil from his youth.” (Gen. viii. 21.) Hence we must, during our whole life, zealously combat and conquer the evil inclinations which continually rise within us, as noxious weeds spring up in our gardens. Some will ask how they can free themselves from bad passions, and how they can prevent them from starting up within them. St. Gregory gives the answer: “It is one thing to look at these heasts, and another to keep them within the den of the heart.” (Mor. lib. 6, cap. xvi.) It is one thing, says the saint, to look at these beasts, or bad passions, when they are outside, and another to harbour them in the heart. As long as they are outside they can do us no harm; but if we admit them into the soul they devour us.

7. All bad passions spring from self-love. This is, as Jesus Christ teaches all who wish to follow him, the principal enemy which we have to contend with; and this enemy we must conquer by self-denial. “If anyone shall come after me let him deny himself.” (Matt. xvi. 24.)”Non intrat in te, amor Dei,” says Thomas a Kempis, “nisi exulet amor tui.” Unless we banish self- love from the heart the love of God cannot enter. Blessed Angela of Foligno used to say, that she was more afraid of self-love than of the devil, because self-love has greater power than the devil to draw us into sin. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say the same, as we read in her life: “Self-love is the greatest traitor we have to guard against. Like Judas, it betrays us with a kiss. He who conquers it conquers all enemies; he who does not conquer it is lost.” The saint then adds: “If you cannot kill it with a single stroke give it poison.” She meant, that since we are not able to destroy this accursed enemy, which, according to St. Francis de Sales, dies only with our latest breath, we must at least labour to weaken it as much as possible; for when strong it kills us. Death, says St. Basil, is the reward which self-love gives its followers. The wages of self-love is death; it is the beginning of every evil. “Stipendium amoris proprii mors est, initium omnis mali.” (S. Bas. Apud Lyreum, lib. 2.) Self-love seeks not what is just and honourable, but what is agreeable to the senses. Hence Jesus Christ has said: “He that loveth his life” that is, his sensual appetite or self-will”shall lose it.” (John xii. 25.) He who truly loves himself, and wishes to save his soul, should refuse to the senses whatever God has forbidden; otherwise he shall lose God and himself.

8. There are two passions which reign within us: the concupiscible and irascible appetites that is, love and hatred. I have said, two principal passions; for each of them, when vicious, draws in its train many other bad passions. The concupiscible appetite brings with it temerity, ambition, greediness, avarice, jealousy, scandal. The irascible brings with it revenge, injustice, slander, envy. St. Augustine advises us, in our combat with the passions, not to endeavour to beat them all down in a single conflict. “Calca jacentem, conflige cum resistente.” (In cap. viii. Rom.) We must trample on the passion which we have cast to the ground, so that it may be no longer able to contend with us, and then we must endeavour to subdue the other passions which resist our efforts.

9. But we must endeavour above all to find out our predominant passion. He who conquers this conquers all his passions; he who allows himself to be overcome by it is lost. God commanded Saul to destroy all the Amalecites, along with all their animals and all their property. He destroyed everything that was vile, but spared the life of King Agag, and preserved all that was valuable and beautiful. “And Saul and the people spared Agag and the rest of the flocks of sheep …. and all that was beautiful, and would not destroy them; but everything that was vile and good for nothing, that they destroyed.” (1 Kings xv. 9.) In this Saul was afterwards imitated by the Scribes and Pharisees, to whom our Lord said: “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith.” (Matt, xxiii. 23.) They were careful to pay the tithe of things of least value, and neglected the more important things of the law: such as justice, charity to their neighbour, and faith in God. Some persons act in a similar manner; they abstain from certain defects of minor importance, and, at the same time, allow themselves to be ruled by their predominant passions; but if they do not destroy this passion, they never shall gain the victory of salvation. The King of Syria commanded the captains of his cavalry to kill the King of Israel only, and not to mind the others. “Fight ye not with small or great, but with the King of Israel only.” (2 Paral. xviii. 30.) They obeyed the order, slew King Achab, and gained the victory.

10. We must imitate the captains of Syria: unless we kill the king that is, the predominant passion we shall never be able to obtain salvation. The passion which brings man under its sway, first blinds him and prevents him from seeing his danger. Now, how can a blind man, led by a blind guide, such as passion, which follows not reason, but sensual pleasures, possibly avoid falling into some abyss?”If the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.” (Matt. xv. 14.) St. Gregory says that it is a common artifice of the devil to inflame daily more and more our predominant passion, and thus he brings us into many horrible excesses. Through passion for a kingdom, Herod spilled the blood of so many innocent infants. Through love for a woman, Henry the Eighth was the cause of so many frightful spiritual evils, put to death several most worthy individuals, and, in the end, lost the faith. No wonder: for he who is under the domination of any passion no longer sees what he does. Therefore he disregards corrections, excommunications, and even his own damnation: he seeks only his own pleasures, and says: “Come what will, I must satisfy this passion. And, as eminent virtue is accompanied by other virtues, so an enormous vice brings in its train other vices. “In catena iniquitatis,” says St. Lawrence Justinian, “foederata sunt vitia.”

11. It is necessary, then, as soon as we perceive any passion beginning to reign within us, to beat it down instantly, before it acquires strength. “Let cupidity gain strength,” says St. Augustine, “strike it down while it is small.” (In Ps. cxxxvi.) St. Ephrem gives the same advice: “Unless you quickly destroy passions, they cause an ulcer.” (De Perfect.) A wound, if it be not closed up, will soon become an incurable ulcer. To illustrate this by an example, a certain monk, as St. Dorotheus relates (Serm. xi.), commanded one of his disciples to pluck up a small cypress. The disciple obeyed, and drew it up with a slight effort. The monk then ordered him to pull up another tree, which was somewhat larger. He succeeded in the task; but not without a good deal of labour. The disciple was then told to pluck up a tree which had taken deep root; but all his efforts were ineffectual. The monk then said to him: Thus it is, my son, with our passions; when they have taken deep root in the heart, we shall not be able to extirpate them. Dearly beloved brethren, keep always before your eyes this maxim: that either the spirit must trample on the flesh, or the flesh shall trample on the spirit.

12. Cassian has laid down an excellent rule for conquering our passions. Let us endeavour, he says, to change the object of our passions; and thus from being vicious they shall become holy. Some are prone to anger against all who treat them with disrespect. Such persons ought to change the object of their passions, and turn their indignation into a hatred of sin, which is more injurious to them than all the devils in hell. Others are inclined to love every one who possesses amiable qualities: they should fix all their affections on God, who is infinitely amiable. But, to recommend ourselves to God, and to beg of him to deliver us from our passions, is the best remedy against them. And, when any passion becomes very violent, we must multiply prayers. Reasoning and reflections are then of little use; for passion obscures our faculties; and the more we reflect the more delightful the object of passion appears. Hence, there is no other remedy than to have recourse to Jesus and to most holy Mary, saying with tears and sighs: “Lord, save us, or we perish: do not permit us to be ever separated from thee. “We fly to thy protection, holy mother of God.” O souls created to love God, let us raise ourselves above the earth; let us cease to fix our thoughts and affections on the miserable things of this world; let us cease to love dross and smoke and dung; let us endeavour with all our strength to love the Supreme Infinite Good, our most amiable God, who has made us for himself, and expects us in heaven to make us happy, and to make us enjoy the very glory which he enjoys for eternity.

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Taken from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Everyday of the Year:


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, teach me the way to come to You.


1. The liturgy of the last Sundays after Pentecost has a special note, warning us of the approaching end of all things. In fact, the liturgical year is almost at its close, and, as it ends, it invites us to consider the uncertainty of the present life and to turn our eyes toward the eternal life awaiting us. Spontaneously we stop to reflect on the condition of our own soul: How have we employed the time that God has given us? In the Introit we find the humble confession: “O Lord, we have sinned against Thee, we have not obeyed Thy commandments,” and in the Collect we pray to obtain forgiveness: “Grant unto Thy faithful people pardon and peace, we
beseech Thee, merciful Lord.” In the Epistle (Eph 5,15-21) St. Paul counsels us to use the time that remains to us in the best possible way, to attain eternal glory. “See, therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The Apostle then explains what the nature of our wisdom should be: “Become not unwise, but understand what the will of God is.”

It would be the height of folly and imprudence to go through life following our own whims and desires. This is a most dangerous way and one which will never lead us to our destination. The only road that takes us to our eternal home is that of the will of God. Anyone who sincerely seeks God’s will and follows it, will be guided, not by his own spirit, but by God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and can be sure that he will not go astray. “Be ye filled with the Holy Spirit,” exhorts St. Paul, “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord...being subject one to another.” When a soul allows itself, with childlike docility, to be led by the Holy Spirit, He takes complete possession of it, filling it entirely with Himself; and from this plenitude, the spirit of prayer, virtue, humble submission and fraternal love spontaneously blossoms forth. To follow God’s will under the direction of the Holy Spirit is the quickest and safest way of reaching our heavenly home.

2. It is impossible to discover and walk in the way of God’s will without faith; today’s Gospel (Jn 4,46-53) expressly treats of this faith and the qualities it must have in order to be pleasing to God. A certain ruler, having heard of the marvelous cures performed by Jesus, went to Him and begged Jesus to come to his house and “heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” This man had faith in the miraculous power of the Master, but he was far from believing that He was the Son of God. Jesus knew this and replied: “Unless you see
signs and wonders, you believe not.” These words, which historically were addressed to the ruler and his companions, were meant for all whose faith depends on what they see and hear. There are very few who believe with simplicity in the Gospel, in Revelation, in the teachings of the Church; most people remain indifferent and are moved only in the presence of something unusual which strikes their senses. It is true that the Lord can use such things to help our weakness, but this is not the faith which pleases Him. “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed ” (ibid. 20,29), He said to Thomas, who would not believe unless he saw the place of the nails and put his finger into His wounds. True faith is not based on our experience, on what we see and touch, but on the authority of God. God has revealed Himself; He can neither deceive nor be deceived; and we believe firmly on His word. To believe on the word of God is supernatural faith, the pure faith which is pleasing to God.

Jesus, who wished to lead the ruler to this true faith, said to him: “‘Go thy way, thy son liveth.” The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way.” It was not yet supernatural faith in the Son of God; nevertheless, it was an act of faith in the Master’s word, and although it was imperfect, it brought forth fruit: his son was cured. God does not demand more than each one can give Him, and when He sees our good will, our sincere efforts, He Himself intervenes to perfect the work. Thus the ruler’s imperfect and still human faith was rewarded by his son’s cure, and as a result, his faith became supernatural. He believed in Jesus, no longer as a simple prophet or wonder-worker, but as the Son of God; “and himself believed and his whole house.” In this life we walk toward God, not by vision, but by faith. The purer our faith is and the more free from human elements, the more pleasing it will be to God, and the more it will enable us to know His holy will and to accomplish it with love.


“Be propitious to Your children, O divine Master, Father and Lord. Grant that we who keep Your commandments may reflect Your image; may we experience, according to our strength, Your goodness, and not the severity of Your judgment.

“Grant that we may all live in Your peace and be admitted to Your kingdom after struggling against the waves of sin without being shipwrecked. In great tranquility, may we be drawn by the Holy Spirit, Your ineffable Wisdom, and guided by Him day and night, unto the perfect day. Grant that, until our last hour, we may be grateful in prayer and prayerful in gratitude to the one Father and Son, Son and Father, the Son our Teacher and Master, together with the Holy Spirit ” (Clement of Alexandria).

“Lord, You know what is best; let this or that be done as You will. Give what You will, as much as You will, and when You will. Do with me as You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your greater honor. Put me where You will, and do with me in all things according to Your will. Lo, I am Your servant, ready to obey You in all things; for I do not desire to live for myself, but for You: Oh, that I could do so in a faithful and perfect manner!

“O most loving Jesus, grant me always to will and desire that which is most acceptable to You, and which pleases You best. Let Your will be mine, and let my will always follow Yours, and agree perfectly with it. Let my will be one with Yours in willing and in not willing, and let me be unable to will or not will anything but what You will or do not will” (Imit. IIT, 15,2.3).
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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