Third Sunday of Lent
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INSTRUCTION ON THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT, called OCULI.
Taken from Fr. 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 this day's Mass, which begins with the word Oculi, is the prayer of a soul imploring deliverance from the snares of the devil: My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare: look thou upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in thee, O my God, I put my trust: let me not be ashamed. (Fs. xxiv.) Glory be to the Father, &c.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. We beseech Thee, Almighty God, regard the desires of the humble, and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to be our defence. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, &c.

EPISTLE. (Ephes. v. i — 9.) Brethren, be ye followers of God. as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odor of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you as becometh saints; nor obscenity, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks: for know yet his, and understand, that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols. hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness; but now light in the Lord. Walk, then, as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.

Quote:EXPLANATION. The apostle requires us to imitate God, as good children, their father, in well-doing and in well-wishing; besides he declares that all covetousness, fornication, all disgraceful talk and equivocal jokes should be banished from Christian meetings, even that such things should not be so much as mentioned among us; because these vices unfailingly deprive us of heaven. He admonishes us not to let ourselves be deceived by the seducing words of those who seek to make these vices appear small, nothing more than pardonable human weaknesses; those who speak thus are the children of darkness and of the devil, they bring down the wrath of God upon themselves, and all who assent to their words. A Christian, a child of light, that is, of faith, should regard as as in that which faith and conscience tell him is such, and must live according to their precepts and not by false judgment of the wicked. Should any one seek to lead you away, ask yourself, my Christian soul, whether you would dare appear with such a deed before the judgment seat of God. Listen to the voice of your conscience, and let it decide, whether that which you are expected to do is good or bad, lawful or unlawful.

ASPIRATION. Place Thy fear, O God, before my mouth, that I may utter no vain, careless, much less improper and scandalous words. which may be the occasion of sin to my neighbor. Strengthen me; that I may not be deceived by flattering words, and become faithless to Thee.

GOSPEL. (Luke xi. 14—28. At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke, and the multitudes were in admiration at it. But some of them said: He casteth out evils by Beelzebub the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judge. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things which he possesseth are in peace; but if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him, he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me Is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out: and when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.


Can a man be really possessed of a devil?

It is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the evil spirit most perniciously influences man in a twofold manner: by enticing his soul to sin, and then influencing his body which he often entirely or partially possesses, manifesting himself by madness, convulsions, insanity, &c. Many texts of Scripture, and the writings of the Fathers speak of this possession. St. Cyprian writes: "We can expel the swarms of impure spirits, who for the ruin of the soul, enter into the bodies of men, and we can compel them to acknowledge their presence, by the force of powerful words." Possession takes place by the permission of God either for trial or as a punishment of sin committed, (i Cor. v. 5.) and the Church from her Head, Jesus, who expelled so many devils, has received the power of casting them out as He did. (Mark xvi. 17.; Acts v. 16., viii. 6. 7., xvi. 18.&c.) She however warns her ministers, the priests, who by their ordination have received the power to expel the evil spirits, to distinguish carefully between possession and natural sickness, that they may not be deceived, (Rit. Rom.§.3. §. 5—10.) and the faithful should guard against looking upon every unusual, unhealthy appearance as an influence of Satan, and should give no ear to impostors,but in order not to be deceived, should turn to an experienced physician or to their pastor.


What is understood by a dumb devil?

The literal meaning of this is the evil enemy, who sometimes so torments those whom he possesses that they lose the power of speech; in a spiritual sense, we may understand it to mean the shame which the devil takes away from the sinner, when he commits the sin, but gives back again, as false shame, before confession, so that the sinner conceals the sin, and thereby falls deeper.


How does Christ still cast out dumb devils?

By His grace with which He inwardly enlightens the sinner, so that he becomes keenly aware that the sins which he has concealed in confession, will one day be known to the whole world, and thus encourages him to overcome his false shame. "Be not ashamed to confess to one man," says St. Augustine, "that which you were not ashamed to do with one, perhaps, with many." Consider these words of the same saint: "Sincere confession subdues vice, conquers the evil one, shuts the door of hell, and opens the gates of paradise."


How did Christ prove, that He did not cast out devils by Beelzebub?  

By showing that the kingdom of Satan could not stand, if one evil spirit were cast out by another; that they thus reproached their own sons who also cast out devils, and had not been accused of doing so by power from Beelzebub; by His own life and works which were in direct opposition to the devil, and by which the devil's works were destroyed. There is no better defence against calumny than an innocent life, and those who are slandered, find no better consolation than the thought of Christ who, notwithstanding His sanctity and His miracles, was not secure against calumniation.


What is is meant by the finger of God?

The power of God, by which Christ expelled the evil spirits, proved himself God, and the promised Redeemer.


Who is the strong man armed?

The evil one is so called, because he still retains the power and intellect of the angels, and. practiced by long experience, seeks in different ways to injure man if God permits.


How is the devil armed?

With the evil desires of men, with the perishable riches, honors, and pleasures of this world, with which he entices us to evil, deceives us, and casts us into eternal fire.


Who is the stronger one who took away the devil's armor?

Christ the Lord who came into this world that He might destroy the works and the kingdom of the devil, to expel the prince of darkness, (John xii. 31.) and to redeem us from his power. "The devil," says St Anthony, "is like a dragon caught by the Lord with the fishing-hook of the cross, tied with a halter, like a beast of burden, chained like a fugitive slave, and his lips pierced through with a ring, so that he may not devour any of the faithful. Now he sighs, like a miserable sparrow, caught by Christ and turned to derision, and thrown under the feet of the Christians. He who flattered himself, that he would possess the whole orbit of the earth, behold, he has to yield!"


Why docs Christ say: He who is not with me, is against me?

These words were intended in the first place for the Pharisees who did not acknowledge Christ as the Messiah, would not fight with Him against Satan's power, but rather held the people back from reaching unity of faith and love of Christ. Like the Pharisees, all heretical teachers who, by their false doctrines, draw the faithful from communion with Christ and His Church, are similar to the devil, the father of heresy and lies. May all those, therefore, who think they can serve Christ and the world at the same time, consider that between truth and falsehood, between Christ and the world, there is no middle path; that Christ requires decision, either with Him, or against Him, either eternal happiness with Him, or without Him, everlasting- misery.


Who are understood by the dry places through which the evil spirit wanders and finds no rest?

"The dry places without water," says St. Gregory, "are the hearts of the just, who by the force of penance have drained the dampness of carnal desires." In such places the evil one indeed finds no rest, because there his malice finds no sympathy, and his wicked will no satisfaction.



Why does the evil spirit say: I will return into my house?

Because he is only contented there where he is welcomed and received: those who have purified their heart by confession, and driven Satan from it, but labor not to amend, again lose the grace of the Sacraments by sin, and thus void of virtue and grace, offer a beautiful and pleasant dwelling to the devil.


Why is it said: The last state becomes worse than the first?

Because a relapse generally draws more sins with it, and so it is said: the devil will return with seven other spirits more wicked than himself, by which may be understood the seven deadly sins, because after a relapse into sin conversion to God becomes more difficult, as a repeated return of the same sickness makes it harder to regain health; because by repetition sin easily becomes a habit and renders conversion almost impossible; because repeated relapses are followed by blindness of intellect, hardness of heart, and in the end eternal damnation.


Why did the woman lift up her voice?

This was by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to shame the Pharisees who, blinded by pride, neither professed nor acknowledged the divinity of Christ, whilst this humble woman not only confessed Jesus as God, but praised her who carried Him, whom heaven and earth cannot contain. Consider the great dignity of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Son of God, and hear her praises from the holy Fathers. St. Cyril thus salutes her: "Praise to thee, Blessed Mother of God: for thou art virginity itself, the sceptre of the true faith!" and St. Chrysostom: Hail, Mother, the throne, the glory, the heaven of the Church!" St. Ephrem: "Hail, only hope of the Fathers, herald of the apostles, glory of the martyrs, joy of the saints, and crown of the virgins, because of thy vast glory, and inaccessible light!"


Why did Christ call those happy who hear the word of God and keep it?

Because, as has been already said, it is not enough for salvation to hear the word of God, but it must also be practiced. Because Mary, the tender Mother of Jesus, did this most perfectly. Christ terms her more happy in it, than in having conceived, borne, and nursed Him.


SUPPLICATION. O Lord Jesus! true Light of the world, enlighten the eyes of my soul, that I may never be induced by the evil one to conceal a sin, through false shame, in the confessional, that on the day of general judgment my sins may not be published to the whole world. Strengthen me, O Jesus, that I may resist the arms of the devil by a penitent life, and especially by scorning the fear of man and worldly considerations, and guard against lapsing into sin, that I may not be lost, but through Thy merits may be delivered from all dangers and obtain heaven.
"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
Reply
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THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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The holy Church gave us, as the subject of our meditation for the First Sunday of Lent, the Temptation which our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to suffer in the Desert. Her object was to enlighten us how to conquer them. Today, she wishes to complete her instruction on the power and stratagems of our invisible enemies; and for this, she reads to us a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke. During Lent, the Christian ought to repair the past, and provide for the future; but he can neither understand how it was he fell, nor defend himself against a relapse, unless he have correct ideas as to the nature of the dangers which have hitherto proved fatal, and are again threatening him. Hence, the ancient Liturgists would have us consider it as a proof of the maternal watchfulness of the Church that she should have again proposed such a subject to us. As we shall find, it is the basis of all today’s instructions.

Assuredly, we should be the blindest and most unhappy of men if—surrounded as we are by enemies who unceasingly seek to destroy us, and are so superior to us both in power and knowledge—we were seldom or never to think of the existence of these wicked spirits. And yet, such is really the case with innumerable Christians nowadays; for truths are diminished from among the children of men. So common, indeed, is this heedlessness and forgetfulness of a truth which the Holy Scriptures put before us in almost every page, that it is no rare thing to meet with persons who ridicule the idea of Devils being permitted to be on this earth of ours! They call it a prejudice, a popular superstition, of the Middle Ages! Of course they deny that it is a dogma of Faith. When they read the History of the Church or the Lives of the Saints, they have their own way of explaining whatever is there related on this subject. To hear them talk, one would suppose that they look on Satan as a mere abstract idea, to be taken as the personification of evil.

When they would account for the origin of their own or others’ sins, they explain all by the evil inclination of man’s heart, and by the bad use we make of our free will. They never think of what we are taught by Christian doctrine; namely, that we are also instigated to sin by a wicked being whose power is as great as is the hatred he bears us. And yet, they know, they believe, with a firm faith, that Satan conversed with our First Parents, and persuaded them to commit sin, and showed himself to them under the form of a serpent. They believe that this same Satan dared to tempt the Incarnate Son of God, and that he carried him through the air and set him first upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and then upon a very high mountain. Again: they read in the Gospel, and they believe, that one of the Possessed, who were delivered by our Savior, was tormented by a whole legion of devils who, upon being driven out of the man, went by Jesus’ permission, into a herd of swine, and the whole herd ran violently into the see of Genesareth, and perished in the waters. These and many other such like facts are believed by the persons of whom we speak, with all the earnestness of faith; yet, notwithstanding, they treat as a figure of speech, or a fiction, all they hear or read about the existence, the actions or the craft of these wicked spirits. Are such people Christians, or have they lost their senses? One would scarcely have expected that this species of incredulity could have found its way into an age like this, when sacrilegious consultations of the devil have been, we might almost say, unfashionable. Means which were used in the days of paganism have been resorted to for such consultations; and they who employed them seemed to forget or ignore that they were committing what God, in the Old Law, punished with death, and which for many centuries was considered by all Christian nations as a capital crime.

But if there be one Season of the Year more than another in which the Faithful ought to reflect upon what is taught us by both Faith and experience, as to the existence and workings of the wicked spirits—it is undoubtedly this of Lent, when it is our duty to consider what have been the causes of our past sins, what are the spiritual dangers we have to fear for the future, and what means we should have recourse to for preventing a relapse. Let us, then, hearken to the holy Gospel. Firstly, we are told that the devil had possessed a man, and that the effect produced by this possession was dumbness. Our Savior cast out the devil, and immediately the dumb man spoke. So that, the being possessed by the devil is not only a fact which testifies to God’s impenetrable justice; it is one which may produce physical effects upon them that are thus tried or punished. The casting out the devil restores the use of speech to him that had been possessed. We say nothing about the obstinate malice of Jesus’ enemies, who would have it that his power over the devils came from his being in league with the prince of devils;—all we would now do is to show that the wicked spirits are sometimes permitted to have power over the body, and to refute, by this passage from the Gospel, the rationalism of certain Christians. Let these learn, then, that the power of our spiritual enemies is an awful reality; and let them take heed not to lay themselves open to their worst attacks by persisting in the disdainful haughtiness of their Reason.

Ever since the promulgation of the Gospel, the power of Satan over the human body has been restricted by the virtue of the Cross, at least in Christian countries: but this power resumes its sway as often as the faith and the practice of Christian piety lose their influence. And here we have the origin of all those diabolical practices which, under certain scientific names, are attempted first in secret, and then are countenanced by being assisted at by well-meaning Christians. Were it not that God and his Church intervene, such practices as these would subvert society. Christians! remember your Baptismal vow; you have renounced Satan: take care, then, that by a culpable ignorance you are not dragged into apostasy. It is not a phantom that you renounced at the Font; he is a real and formidable being who, as our Lord tells us, was a Murderer from the beginning.

But if we ought to dread the power he may be permitted to have over our bodies; if we ought to shun all intercourse with him and take no share in practices over which he presides, and which are the worship he would have men give him—we ought, also, to fear the influence he is ever striving to exercise over our souls. See what God’s grace has to do in order to drive him from your soul! During this holy Season, the Church is putting within your reach those grand means of victory—Fasting, Prayer, and Almsdeeds. The sweets of peace will soon be yours, and once more you will become God’s temple, for both soul and body will have regained their purity. But be not deceived; your enemy is not slain. He is irritated; penance has driven him from you, but he has sworn to return. Therefore, fear a relapse into mortal sin; and in order to nourish within you this wholesome fear, meditate upon the concluding part of our Gospel.

Our Savior tells us that when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water. There he writhes under his humiliation; it has added to the tortures of the hell he carries everywhere with him, and to which he fain would give some alleviation, by destroying souls that have been redeemed by Christ. We read in the Old Testament that sometimes, when the devils have been conquered, they have been forced to flee into some far-off wilderness: for example, the holy Archangel Raphael took the devil that had killed Sara’s husbands, and bound him in the desert of Upper Egypt. But the enemy of mankind never despairs of regaining his prey. His hatred is as active now as it was at the very beginning of the world, and he says: I will return into my house, whence I came out. Nor will he come alone. He is determined to conquer; and therefore, he will, if he think it needed, take with him seven other spirits, even more wicked than himself. What a terrible assault is this that is being prepared for the pour soul unless she be on the watch, and unless the peace which God has granted her be one that is well armed for war! Alas! with many souls, the very contrary is the case; and our Savior describes the situation in which the devil finds them on his return: they are swept and garnished, and that is all! No precautions, no defense, no arms. One would suppose that they were waiting to give the enemy admission. Then Satan, to make his repossession sure, comes with a seven-fold force. The attack is made;—but there is no resistance, and straightways the wicked spirits entering in, dwell there; so that, the last state becometh worse than the first; for before, there was but one enemy, and now there are many.

In order that we may understand the full force of the warning conveyed to us by the Church in this Gospel, we must keep before us the great reality that this is the acceptable Time. In every part of the world, there are conversions being wrought; millions are being reconciled with God; divine Mercy is lavish of pardon to all that seek it. But will all persevere? They that are now being delivered from the power of Satan—will they all be free from his yoke when next year’s Lent comes around? A sad experience tells the Church that she may not hope so grand a result. Many will return to their sins, and that too before many weeks are over. And if the Justice of God overtake them in that state—what an awful thing it is to say it, yet it is true;—some, perhaps many, of these sinners will be eternally lost! Let us, then, be on our guard against a relapse; and in order that we may ensure our Perseverance, without which it would have been to little purpose to have been for a few days in God’s grace—let us watch, and pray; let us keep ourselves under arms; let us ever remember that our whole life is to be a warfare. Our soldier-like attitude will disconcert the enemy, and he will try to gain victory elsewhere.

The Third Sunday of Lent is called Oculi from the first word of the Introit. In the primitive Church, it was called Scrutiny Sunday, because it was on this day that they began to examine the Catechumens, who were to be admitted to Baptism on Easter night. All the Faithful were invited to assemble in the Church, in order that they might bear testimony to the good life and morals of the candidates. At Rome, these examinations, which were called the Scrutinies, were made on seven different occasions, on account of the great number of aspirants to Baptism; but the principal Scrutiny was that held on the Wednesday of the Fourth Week. We will speak of it later on.

The Roman Sacramentary of St. Galasius gives us the form in which the Faithful were convoked to these assemblies. It is as follows. “Dearly beloved Brethren: you know that the day of Scrutiny, when our elect are to receive the holy instruction, is at hand. We invite you, therefore, to be zealous and to assemble on N., (here, the day was mentioned), at the hour of Sext; that so we may be able, by the divine aid, to achieve, without error, the heavenly mystery, whereby is opened the gate of the kingdom of heaven, and the devil is excluded with all his pomps.” The invitation was repeated, if needed, on each of the following Sundays. The Scrutiny of this Sunday ended in the admission of a certain number of candidates: their names were written down and put on the Diptychs of the Altar, that they might be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. The same also was done with the names of their Sponsors.

The Station was, and still is, in the Basilica of Saint Laurence outside the walls. The name of this, the most celebrated of the Martyrs of Rome, would remind the Catechumens that the Faith they were about to profess would require them to be ready for many sacrifices.


Mass
The Catechumen that is now promised the grace of Baptism, and the Penitent who is looking forward to the day of his Reconciliation, express, in the Introit, the ardor of their longings. They humbly confess their present misery; but they are full of hope in Him who is soon to set them free from the snare.

Introit
Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos: respice in me, et miserere mei; quoniam unicus et pauper sum ego. 
Ps. Ad te, Domine, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam. ℣. Gloria Patri.
Oculi.[/i]


My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare: look thou upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor.
Ps. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. ℣. Glory, &c.
My eyes.


The great battle with the enemy of mankind is now fiercely raging: the Church beseeches her God to stretch forth his right hand in her defense. Such is the petition she makes in today’s Collect.

Collect
Quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, vota humilium respice: atque ad defensionem nostram, dexteram tuæ majestatis extende. Per Dominum. 
Be attentive, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defense. Through, &c.

The second and third Collects are given on the First Sunday of Lent.


Epistle
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians. Ch. V.

Brethren: Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odor of sweetness. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not such as be named among you, as becometh saints; or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know ye this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person, which is serving of idols, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk ye as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice and truth.

The Apostle, speaking to the Faithful of Ephesus, reminds them how they once were darkness; but now, he says, ye are Light in the Lord. What joy for our Catechumens to think that the same change is to be their happy lot! Up to this time, they have spent their lives in all the abominations of paganism; and now they have the pledge of a holy life, for they have been received as candidates for Baptism. Hitherto, they have been serving those false gods, whose worship was the encouragement to vice; and now, they hear the Church exhorting her children to be followers of God, that is to say, to imitate Infinite Holiness. Grace—that divine element which is to enable even them to be perfect as their Heavenly Father is perfect—is about to be bestowed upon them. But they will have to fight hard in order to maintain so elevated a position; and of their old enemies two, in particular, will strive to re-enslave them: impurity and avarice. The Apostle would not have these vices so much as named among them from this time forward; for they, he says, that commit such sins are Idolaters, and by your vocation to Baptism you have abandoned all your idols.

Quote:Such are the instructions given by the Church to her future children. Let us apply them to ourselves, for they are also intended for us. We were sanctified almost as soon as we came into the world; have we been faithful to our Baptism? We, heretofore, were Light; how comes it that we are now darkness? The beautiful likeness to our Heavenly Father, which was once upon us, is perhaps quite gone! But thanks to Divine Mercy, we may recover it. Let us do so, by again renouncing Satan and his idols. Let our repentance and penance restore within us that Light whose fruit consists in all goodness, justice and truth.


The Tract is taken from the 122nd Psalm, which is a canticle of confidence and humility. The sincere avowal of our misery always draws down the mercy of God upon us.

Gradual
Exsurge, Domine, non prævaleat homo: judicentur gentes in conspectu tuo. 
℣. In convertendo inimicum meum retrorsum, infirmabuntur, et peribunt a facie tua.

Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail: let the Gentiles be judges in thy sight.
℣. When my enemy shall be turned back, they shall be weakened and perish before thy face.


Tract
Ad te levavi oculos meos, qui habitas in cœlis. 
℣. Ecce sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum suorum: 
℣. Et sicut oculi ancillæ in manibus dominæ suæ: ita oculi nostri ad Dominum Deum nostrum, donec misereatur nostri. 
℣. Miserere nobis, Domine, miserere nobis. 

To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven.
℣. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters:
℣. And as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy on us.
℣. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.


Gospel
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Luke. Ch. XI.

At that time: Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb: and when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him; he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.

Quote:As soon as Jesus had cast out the devil, the man recovered his speech, for the possession had made him dumb. It is an image of what happens to a sinner who will not, or dare not, confess his sin. If he confessed it, and asked pardon, he would be delivered from the tyranny which now oppresses him. Alas! how many there are who are kept back by a dumb devil from making the Confession that would save them! The holy Season of Lent is advancing; these days of grace are passing away; let us profit by them; and if we ourselves be in the state of grace, let us offer up our earnest prayers for sinners, that they may speak, that is, may accuse themselves in Confession, and obtain pardon.

Let us also listen, with holy fear, to what our Savior tells us with regard to our invisible enemies. They are so powerful and crafty that our resistance would be useless, unless we had God on our side, and his holy Angels, who watch over us and join us in the great combat. It was to these unclean and hateful spirits of hell that we delivered ourselves when we sinned: we preferred their tyrannical sway to the sweet and light yoke of our compassionate Redeemer. Now we are set free, or are hoping to be so; let us thank our Divine Liberator; but let us take care not to re-admit our enemies. Our Savior warns us of our danger. They will return to the attack; they will endeavor to force their entrance into our soul, after it has been sanctified by the Lamb of the Passover. If we be watchful and faithful, they will be confounded, and leave us: but if we be tepid and careless, if we lose our appreciation of the grace we have received, and forget our obligations to Him who has saved us, our defeat is inevitable; and as our Lord says, our last state is to be worse than the first.

Would we avoid such a misfortune? Let us meditate upon those other words of our Lord, in today’s Gospel: He that is not with me is against me. What makes us fall back into the power of Satan, and forget our duty to our God, is that we do not frankly declare ourselves for Jesus, when occasions require us to do so. We try to be on both sides, we have recourse to subterfuge, we temporize: this takes away our energy; God no longer gives us the abundant graces we received when we were loyal and and generous; our relapse is all but certain. Therefore, let us be boldly and unmistakeably with Christ. He that is a soldier of Jesus should be proud of his title!


The Offertory describes the consolation that a soul, rescued from Satan’s grasp, feels in doing the will of her Divine Master.

Offertory
Justitiæ Domini rectæ, lætificantes corda, et judicia ejus dulciora super mel et favum; nam et servus tuus custodit ea. 
The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; his ordinances are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb: therefore thy servant observeth them.


In the Secret, the Church expresses her confidence in the Sacrifice she is about to offer to God; it is the Sacrifice of Calvary, which redeemed the whole world.

Secret
Hæc hostia, Domine, quæsumus, emundet nostra delicta: et ad sacrificium celebrandum, subditorum tibi corpora mentesque sanctificet. Per Dominum. 
May this offering, O Lord, we beseech thee, cleanse us from our sins, and sanctify the bodies and souls of thy servants for the celebrating of this sacrifice. Through, &c.

The second and third Secrets are given on the First Sunday of Lent.


Borrowing the words of David, the Church, in her Communion-Anthem, describes the happiness of a soul that is united to her God in the Sacrament of love. It is the lot that is reserved for the Catechumens, who have just been received as candidates for Baptism; it is to be also that of the Penitents, who shall have washed away their sins in the tears of repentance.

Communion
Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos: altaria tua, Domine virtutum, Rex meus et Deus meus: beati qui habitant in domo tua; in sæculum sæculi laudabunt te. 
The sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest where she may lay her young ones; in like manner, O Lord of armies, my King and my God, let my abode be near thy altar: blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.


In the Postcommunion, the Church beseeches her Lord to grant, through the merits of the Mystery just partaken of by her Children, that Sinners may be loosened from the fetters of their sins, and delivered from the danger they have incurred—the danger of eternal perdition.

Postcommunion
A cunctis nos, quæsumus Domine, reatibus et periculis propitiatus absolve: quos tanti mysterii tribuis esse participes. Per Dominum. 
Mercifully, O Lord, we beseech thee, deliver us from all guilt and from all danger, since thou admittest us to be partakers of this great mystery. Through, &c.

The second and third Postcommunions are given on the First Sunday of Lent.



VESPERS


The psalms and antiphons are given earlier in the volume.


CAPITULUM
Brethren: Be ye followers of God, as most dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.


For the hymn and versicle, see earlier in the volume.



ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT
A certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But Jesus said to her: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

LET US PRAY

Be attentive, we beseech thee, O almighty God, to the prayers of thy servants, and stretch forth the arm of thy divine Majesty in our defense. Through, etc.



The Mozarabic Breviary offers us this beautiful Prayer for the commencement of the third week of Lent.


Prayer
(In Dominica iii. Quadragesimæ.)

Quarti nunc et decimi diei de nostrorum dierum decimis curriculo jam peracto, ad te levamus oculos nostros, Domine, qui habitas in cœlis; impende jam et misericordiam miseris, et medelam porrige vulneratis; to nobis adgressum iter placidum effice: tu cor nostrum in mandatorum tuorum semitis dirige: per te lucis inveniamus viam: per te luminosa amoris tui capiamus incendia; tu laboribus requiem, tu laborantibus tribue mansionem; ut horum dierum observatione tibi placentes, gloriæ tuæ mereamur esse participes. 

Having now passed the fourteenth day of this Season, which forms the tithe of our year, we lift up our eyes to thee, O Lord, who dwellest in heaven. Show mercy to the miserable, and heal them that are wounded. Grant that the journey we have begun, may be prosperous. Direct our hearts in the way of thy commandments. Through thee may we find the way of light; through thee, may we be inflamed with the bright burning of thy love. Grant rest to our labors, and a home to us that labor; that having gained thy good pleasure by our observance of these days, we may deserve to be partakers of thy glory.
"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
Reply
#3
Third Sunday in Lent

"And He was casting out a devil and the same was dumb."--Luke 11: 14.

As St. James remarks, and as we are taught by experience, Satan exercises a great power over the tongue of man. There is, in fact, nothing through which man sins more than through the tongue, beginning with sinful gossiping, breaking the commandment of charity towards our neighbor, and ending with blasphemy.

Cursing and blasphemy is the language of devils, and they stamp men here upon earth as children of the Evil One! But Satan knows also how to offend God, and lead man to ruin, by influencing the tongue in the opposite direction, namely, by inducing him to maintain a sinful silence.

Let us consider, today, in how many ways this may be done, and I wish I could deliver every soul here present, who is possessed of a dumb demon, whose number, I fear, is greater than we suppose.

O Mary, thou who didst raise thy voice so powerfully in the "Magnificat" to glorify God, and who, after saying: "Be it done to me according to Thy word," didst become the mother of the Incarnate Word, pray for us, that we may obtain the grace to glorify God by every word which our tongue pronounces! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

I said that there is a silence which is sinful, and which, in the words of the Gospel, may be called a dumb devil. I shall, in today s sermon, particularize and explain this assertion.

The greater part of men every morning commit sin by silence, in not opening their lips to honor God by prayer. They rise from their bed like dumb animals. It is a sin of omission not to give thanks to God for the night that has passed, not to worship Him with our first thoughts as our Creator, our Father, our final end, and not to beseech Him to bestow upon us the grace to glorify Him by our conduct during the day.

The dawn of morning, the first rays of the rising sun, ought to remind man of this holy duty, as well as the joyful songs of the birds, especially of the lark, which, rising high in the sky early every morning, shows man that it is his duty to praise with his tongue the Lord, to give Him thanks, to pray to Him as soon as he awakens.

But in order to serve Him well we should, not only in the morning, but also during the day, raise our hearts piously to God, and animate ourselves by short, pious prayers and ejaculations. We must also make use of every opportunity to remind others, by word and action, to serve and glorify God; and we must, further, admonish sinners, and instruct those in their faith, that are erring. How many opportunities we have of doing this during the day, had we but the will!

Such remarks and exhortations, however short, fall like seed upon the soil of the heart, and in due time bear fruit. Let us remember the exhortation of St. Ignatius to St. Francis Xavier: "Friend, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" and his oft-repeated admonition: "Xavier, conquer thyself!" These short exhortations were for Xavier the seed from which the holiness of his entire life proceeded.

Why are we silent when we have reason, in our association with our neighbor, to call his attention to the salvation of his soul, the only real necessary labor of man's life, to speak to him of the truth of our holy religion,--to warn him of the evil of sin, to point out to him the corrupt principles of the enemies of the Church in these days, and to converse with him on the dogmas of our holy faith? Why is it that we are silent and do not speak to him of these things when ever an opportunity presents itself?

The reason is that we ourselves are not zealous enough in the service of God, and too little instructed in our faith, and think that it is the duty of the priest to teach others, and lead them upon the path of virtue, and not of every zealous child of the Church. What a deception! We speak to others of so many useless things, why not, rather, on this most important subject! Fear of man is what mostly prevents us. We do not possess the courage to speak, and are silent, even when the honor of the Church and her servants are publicly attacked. This is all sinful silence.

We can, however, sin still in another manner, by culpable silence, while associating with others. This is the case when we hear others spoken ill of, and omit, by a word uttered at the right moment, to remind the speaker that he is doing wrong. St. Augustine had placed on the wall of his dining-room the words: "Let all remain away, who would speak evil of others."

Further, we frequently omit to admonish others, simply through a contemptible fear of man. This silence becomes the more sinful when false rumors are spread and the good name of any one is defamed by false hoods. Who knows but the slandered person may thereby lose his position, his office, his fortune? and yet, we are silent from fear of man how heartless! We do speak in behalf of the injured party, with the excuse: It is not my affair. Yes, it is your affair, for it is said: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

The same takes place when, knowing that some one exposes himself to a danger, which threatens either his person or his possessions, we remain silent and do not warn him in time. So also in regard to personal enmity. How few misunderstandings would arise, or would be quickly righted, how seldom would neighborly love be wounded, were a word of excuse or of explanation spoken at the right time!

This admonition, concerning sinful silence, regards, in particular, parents and superiors, who, by their station and office, are obliged to speak to others, to instruct, to warn, and to punish them. Unhappy those children who, in youth, have not been instructed by their parents, in the truths and principles of their holy faith, on the necessity of perseverance in prayer, and who have not been taught in such a manner that when they leave home they are in no great danger of losing their faith! Unhappy the children, whose parents, when asked if their children know how to pray or receive the holy Sacraments, answer: I can not tell; I do not know. Father, mother, why are you silent? why do you not question your child in regard to this matter? Woe to the children whose parents are too indulgent, who never reprove them, but pass over their sinful life in silence, without warning or punishing!

The silent devil causes the greatest evil there, where all other bad spirits are forced to flee, when man speaks the truth; namely, in the confessional. How many confess, but confess unworthily, and why? They are possessed by the silent devil, who keeps them by a false shame from confessing fully and candidly.

They confess, but they confess only a few, instead of all their great sins! They confess, but they do not confess their great sins according to their number and kind as they should they are prevented by false shame. They pass over, for instance, in silence, a sin against the sixth commandment, or the circumstance that the persons with whom they sinned were married or related to them. They confess their mortal sins, but do not mention their number as accurately as they might; they either say nothing of the number, or seek to lessen it.

They confess that they sinned in words, but not that they were guilty in thought and desire. They are silent and conceal, and do not answer frankly when questioned by the confessor. They confess what they have done themselves, but speak of none of the nine ways of being accessory to another's sin, such as provocation, approval, bad advice or example.

They are willfully silent concerning all this, and thus confess unworthily and what is the result? All the evil spirits, that is, the sins by which the sinner was possessed, remain in the heart. If they are to be driven out by absolution, the dumb devil must be the first sent hence.

God grant that this may be the case with all those of my listeners, who are possessed by the dumb devil! May it be so! Amen!



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"And the last state of that man becometh worse than the first."--Luke 11.

If there were no relapses into sin, few children of the Church would lose their souls. For where is the Catholic, who, having had the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, has not, at least once, confessed with the intention and purpose of sinning no more? But Satan endeavors to destroy the good which the Lord works in the heart of the sinner by confession, and if he succeed again in forcing an entrance into that heart, it will be difficult indeed to dislodge him.

In that case, as Christ himself both assures aud warns us, the last state will be worse than the first. Why? Let us consider this question today. Mary, thou faithful Virgin, refuge of sinners, protect us by thy prayers, in order that reconciled to God, we may not relapse and thus sink the deeper into the abyss of hell! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

The evil spirit driven out of a house, which had opened its doors to him withdraws, as Christ says, into the wilderness; which means that when the sinner has returned to God, the tempter is careful not to approach him immediately. He has cause to fear that the newly converted man will, in his first zeal, withstand and repulse his temptations. He bides his time, and after the first fervor of penitential zeal has cooled, he tries again; and should he succeed, then the second state of the sinner is worse than the first. The reasons for this are obvious:

First, the sinner's guilt is greater, because he committed the sin with a clearer knowledge of its malice, and with a greater abuse of divine grace. It is true there are some people who live wickedly from day to day, and who commit sin with so little concern, that the words of Christ: "Father, they know not what they do," seem particularly applicable to them; but with these the sinner who once did penance and again relapsed, can not be classed. It is deliberate and forewarned opposition to God that makes a sin particularly odious and culpable. Hence, the rebellion of the angels was so grievous an offense in the eyes of God, that not one was offered time for repentance; for they opposed His will with full knowledge and consent. It is this same malice that, more or less, brands the relapse of a sinner.

If a person offends us once, but soon after shows signs of repentance, we easily condone the injury, even though it be great. But if the offense be again and again repeated, and if the transgressor manifest utter contempt for our feelings, we are far more sensible of the injury, and much less inclined to receive him again into our friendship, even though we do not hate him, we mistrust such an individual.

Secondly; These relapses open the door to levity, and the sinner becomes gradually insensible to the reproaches of his conscience and to the admonitions of that penitential spirit, by which, in the beginning, he was moved. Even the threats of divine judgment and the terrors of eternal punishment do not touch him. He endeavors to excuse himself.

What a dangerous state this is, especially when is joined with it the awful abuse of the Sacrament of Penance, and when a man, after changing this spiritual medicine into a deadly poison of the soul, quiets his conscience by saying: I have confessed that sin!

What is confession without true contrition and repentance? what is repentance without an earnest resolution of amendment? and of what avail, in the end, are good resolutions, if they are not put into execution? Confessions without true sorrow for sin or without firm purposes of amendment are, at best, delusions. St. Chrysostom calls them plays, in which actors pretend to be struck and fall down, but as soon as the curtain drops, get up and depart. St. Augustine calls them mock confessions.

The relapsing sinner, seeking to excuse himself, says: Men are weak, and God is good. This is certainly true, but not in the sense in which the sinner applies it to himself. Man is weak in regard to venial sins and slight defections; but with the aid of divine grace he is strong and invincible where mortal sins are concerned, especially those mortal sins, which easily become habitual, as, for instance: impurity, intemperance, enmity, and cursing.

The nullity of the excuse, that man is weak, becomes especially obvious from one fact which every relapsing sinner must admit to be decisive and convincing, namely: had he been persuaded that a relapse into his former sin would result, owing to his peculiar constitution, in complete blindness--had he been convinced, by the sad experience of others, that escape was impossible--had his physicians predicted the same inevitable fate if he disregarded nature's laws--he would, whatever temptation might have assailed him, have avoided that sin.

Is this not sufficient evidence that man is strong enough to conquer every temptation to mortal sin, if his faith be really strong, and if he only has the will to co-operate with divine grace?

Thirdly: The condition of such a sinner is very dangerous, because his relapse makes him despondent, should he feel an inclination to repent. Satan desires to discourage him, and whispers into his ear that it is useless for him to think of conversion, for he has before now endeavored to cast off the yoke, but in vain.

In this case the sinner endeavors to persuade himself that it would be impossible to free himself entirely from this or that sin, and so delays his conversion from day to day, from week to week, from year to year, and finally falls into that depth of which the Holy Ghost says: "The wicked man when he is come into the depth of sins, contemneth." Yes, he holds in contempt at last the means of salvation, communication with God, holy Mass, the Church, the Sacraments, even heaven, until his soul finally becomes a prey to despair. What awful condition!

And what means must we use in order to avoid this state? The last words of today's Gospel answer this question: "Blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it." That is to say, we must meditate upon what the word of God says of this state, and be penetrated with a holy fear. It is not a priest, a confessor, a human being who has uttered these words, but it is Christ, the Lord Himself, who likewise warns us: "And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

If we be lastingly penetrated with the fear of such an evil, such a misfortune, we shall attend also to what this same word of God teaches us concerning the means of avoiding in future all those temptations which threaten us with a relapse. We shall especially heed the admonition of the Lord: "If thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out; if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off," which means that, should anything whatever lead us into sin, though it be as dear to us as our eye or our hand, we must not hesitate to avoid it on all occasions.

But while doing this, you must watch and pray as Christ tells us. The tempter may seize other occasions, perhaps even more dangerous, to tempt you. Pray! pray! unite yourself to God by morning and evening prayers. Walk in His presence, receive frequently the blessed Sacrament, clothe yourself in the armor of God, as the Apostle exhorts you; put on the girdle of truth, the breastplate of justice; put on your feet the preparation of the Gospel; seize the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and repeat in your heart at the moment of temptation the most holy Name of Jesus. Do this, and you will be preserved from relapses into sin! 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
Reply
#4
Sermon XVII Third Sunday In Lent
On Concealing Sins In Confession

by St. Alphonsus Liguori

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And he was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb.” LUKE xi. 14.

The devil does not bring sinners to hell with their eyes open: he first blinds them with the malice of their own sins. ”For their own malice blinded them.” (Wis. ii. 21.) He thus leads them to eternal perdition. Before we fall into sin, the enemy labours to blind us, that we may not see the evil we do and the ruin we bring upon ourselves by offending God. After we commit sin, he seeks to make us dumb, that, through shame, we may conceal our guilt in confession. Thus, he leads us to hell by a double chain, inducing us, after our transgressions, to consent to a still greater sin the sin of sacrilege. I will speak on this subject today, and will endeavour to convince you of the great evil of concealing sins in confession

In expounding the words of David”Set a door O Lord, round about my lips,” (Ps. cxl. 3) St. Augustine says: “Non dixit claustrum, sed ostium: ostium et aperitur et clauditur: aperiatur ad confessionem peccati: claudatur ad excusationem peccati.” “We should keep a door to the mouth, that it may be closed against detraction, and blasphemies, and all improper words, and that it may be opened to confess the sins we have committed. ”Thus,” adds the holy doctor, ”it will be a door of restraint, and not of destruction.” To be silent when we are impelled to utter words injurious to God or to our neighbour, is an act of virtue; but, to be silent in confessing our sins, is the ruin of the soul. After we have offended God, the devil labours to keep the mouth closed, and to prevent us from confessing our guilt. St. Antonine relates, that a holy solitary once saw the devil standing beside a certain person who wished to go to confession. The solitary asked the fiend what he was doing there. The enemy said in reply: ”I now restore to these penitents what I before took away from them; I took away from them shame while they were committing sin; I now restore it that they may have a horror of confession.” “My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.” (Ps. xxxvii. 6.) Gangrenous sores are fatal; and sins concealed in confession are spiritual ulcers, which mortify and become gangrenous.

“Pudorem,” says St. Chrysostom, ”dedit Deus peccato, confessioni nduciam: invertit rem diabolis, peccato fiduciam præbet, confessioni pudorem.” (Proem, in Isa.) God has made sin shameful, that we may abstain from it, and gives us confidence to confess it by promising pardon to all who accuse themselves of their sins. But the devil does the contrary: he gives confidence to sin by holding out hopes of pardon; but, when sin is committed, he inspires shame, to prevent the confession of it.

A disciple of Socrates, at the moment he was leaving a house of bad fame, saw his master pass: to avoid being seen by him, he went back into the house. Socrates came to the door and said: My son, it is a shameful thing to enter, but not to depart from this house. ”Non te pudeat, fili egredi ex hoc loco, intrasse pudeat.” To you also, brethren, who have sinned, I say, that you ought to be ashamed to offend so great and so good a God. But you have no reason to be ashamed of confessing the sins which you have committed. Was it shameful in St. Mary Magdalene to acknowledge publicly at the feet of Jesus Christ that she was a sinner? By her confession she became a saint. Was it shameful in St. Augustine not only to confess his sins, but also to publish them in a book, that, for his confusion, they might be known to the whole world? Was it shameful in St. Mary of Egypt to confess, that for so many years she had led a scandalous life? By their confessions these have become saints, and are honoured on the altars of the Church.
We say that the man who acknowledges his guilt before a secular tribunal is condemned, but in the tribunal of Jesus Christ, they who confess their sins obtain pardon, and receive a crown of eternal glory. “After confession,” says St. Chrysostom, ”a crown is given to penitents.” He who is afflicted with an ulcer must, if he wish to be cured, show it to a physician: otherwise it will fester and bring on death. ”Quod ignorat,” says the Council of Trent, ”medicina non curat.” If, then, brethren, your souls be ulcerated with sin, be not ashamed to confess it; otherwise you are lost. ”For thy soul be not ashamed to say the truth.” (Eccl. iv. 24.) But, you say, I feel greatly ashamed to confess such a sin. If you wish to be saved, you must conquer this shame. ”For there is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that bringeth glory and grace.” (Ib. iv. 25.) There are, according to the inspired writer, two kinds of shame: one of which leads souls to sin, and that is the shame which makes them conceal their sins at confession; the other is the confusion which a Christian feels in confessing his sins; and this confusion obtains for him the grace of God in this life, and the glory of heaven in the next.

St. Augustine says, that to prevent the sheep from seeking assistance by her cries the wolf seizes her by the neck, and thus securely carries her away and devours her. The devil acts in a similar manner with the sheep of Jesus Christ. After having induced them to yield to sin, he seizes them by the throat, that they may not confess their guilt; and thus he securely brings them to hell. For those who have sinned grievously, there is no means of salvation but the confession of their sins. But, what hope of salvation can he have who goes to confession and conceals his sins, and makes use of the tribunal of penance to offend God, and to make himself doubly the slave of Satan? What hope would you entertain of the recovery of the man who, instead of taking the medicine prescribed by his physician, drank a cup of poison? God! What can the sacrament of penance be to those who conceal their sins, but a deadly poison, which adds to their guilt the malice of sacrilege? In giving absolution, the confessor dispenses to his patient the blood of Jesus Christ; for it is through the merits of that blood that he absolves from sin. What, then, does the sinner do, when he conceals his sins in confession? He tramples under foot the blood of Jesus Christ. And should he afterwards receive the holy communion in a state of sin, he is, according to St. Chrysostom, as guilty as if he threw the consecrated host into a sink. ”Non minus detestabile est in os pollutum, quam in sterquilinum mittere Dei Filium.” (Hom. Ixxxiii., in Matt.) Accursed shame! how many poor souls do you bring to hell? ”Magis memores pudoris,” says Tertullian, ”quam salutis.” Unhappy souls! they think only of the shame of confessing their sins, and do not reflect that, if they conceal them, they shall be certainly damned.

Some penitents ask: ”What will my confessor say when he hears that I have committed such a sin ?” What will he say? He will say that you are, like all persons living on this earth, miserable and prone to sin: he will say that, if you have done evil, you have also performed a glorious action in overcoming shame, and in candidly confessing your fault.

”But I am afraid to confess this sin.” To how many confessors, I ask, must you tell it? It is enough to mention it to one priest, who hears many sins of the same kind from others. It is enough to confess it once: the confessor will give you penance and absolution, and your conscience shall be tranquillized. But, you say: ”I feel a great repugnance to tell this sin to my spiritual father.” Tell it, then, to another confessor, and, if you wish, to one to whom you are unknown. ”But, if this come to the knowledge of my confessor, he will be displeased with me.” What then do you mean to do? Perhaps, to avoid giving displeasure to him, you intend to commit a heinous crime, and remain under sentence of damnation. This would be the very height of folly.

Are you afraid that the confessor will make known your sin to others? Would it not be madness to suspect that he is so wicked as to break the seal of confession by revealing your sin to others? Remember that the obligation of the seal of confession is so strict, that a confessor cannot speak out of confession, even to the penitent, of the smallest venial fault; and if he did so, * he would be guilty of a most grievous sin.
But you say: “I am afraid that my confessor, when he hears my sin, will rebuke me with great severity.” God! Do you not see that all these are deceitful artifices of the devil to bring you to hell? No; the confessor will not rebuke you, but he will give an advice suited to your state. A confessor cannot experience greater consolation than in absolving a penitent who confesses his sins with true sorrow and with sincerity. If a queen were mortally wounded by a slave, and you were in possession of a remedy by which she could be cured, how great would be your joy in saving her life! Such is the joy which a confessor feels in absolving a soul in the state of sin. By his act he delivers her from eternal death: and by restoring to her the grace of God, he makes her a queen of Paradise.

*That is, without the permission of the penitent

But you have so many fears, and are not afraid of damning your own soul by the enormous crime of concealing sins in confession. You are afraid of the rebuke of your confessor, and fear not the reproof which you shall receive from Jesus Christ, your Judge, at the hour of death. You are afraid that your sins shall become known (which is impossible), and you dread not the day of judgment, on which, if you conceal them, they shall be revealed to all men. If you knew that, by concealing sins in confession, they shall be made known to all your relatives and to all your neighbours, you would certainly confess them. But, do you not know, says St. Bernard, that if you refuse to confess your sins to one man, who, like yourself, is a sinner, they shall be made known not only to all your relatives and neighbours, but to the entire human race?”Si pudor est tibi uni homini, et peccatori peccatum exponere, quid facturus es in die judicii, ubi omnibus exposita tua conscientia patebit ?” (S. Ber. super illud Joan., cap. xi.)”Lazare veni foras.” If you do not confess your sin, God himself shall, for your confusion, publish not only the sin which you conceal, but also all your iniquities, in the presence of the angels and of the whole world. ”I will discover thy shame to thy face, and will show thy wickedness to the nations.” (Nah. iii. 5.)

Listen, then, to the advice of St. Ambrose. The devil keeps an account of your sins, to charge you with them at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Do you wish, says the saint, to prevent this accusation? Anticipate your accuser: accuse yourself now to a confessor, and then no accuser shall appear against you at the judgment-seat of God. ”Præveni accusatorem tuum; si to accusaveris, accusatorem nullum timebis.” (Lib. 2 de Pœnit., cap. ii.) But, according to St. Augustine, if you excuse yourself in confession, you shut up sin within your soul, and shut out pardon. “Excusas te, includis peccatum, excludis indulgentiam.” (Hom. xii. 50.)

If, then, brethren, there be a single soul among you who has ever concealed a sin, through shame, in the tribunal of penance, let him take courage, and make a full confession of all his faults. ”Give glory to God with a good heart.” (Eccl. xxxv. 10.) Give glory to God, and confusion to the devil. A certain penitent was tempted by Satan to conceal a sin through shame; but she was resolved to confess it; and while she was going to her confessor, the devil came forward and asked her where she was going. She courageously answered: “I am going to cover myself and you with confusion.” Act you in a similar manner; if you have ever concealed a mortal sin, confess it candidly to your director, and confound the devil. Remember that the greater the violence you do yourself in confessing your sins, the greater will be the love with which Jesus Christ will embrace you.

Courage, then! expel this viper which you harbour in your soul, and which continually corrodes your heart and destroys your peace. Oh! what a hell does a Christian suffer who keeps in his heart a sin concealed through shame in confession! He suffers an anticipation of hell. It is enough to say to the confessor: ”Father, I have a certain scruple regarding my past life, but I am ashamed to tell it.” This will be enough: the confessor will help to pluck out the serpent which gnaws your conscience. And, that you may not entertain groundless scruples, I think it right to tell you, that if the sin which you are ashamed to tell be not mortal, or if you never considered it to be a mortal sin, you are not obliged to confess it; for we are bound only to confess mortal sins. Moreover, if you have doubts whether you ever confessed a certain sin of your former life, but know that, in preparing for confession, you always carefully examined your conscience, and that you never concealed a sin through shame; in this case, even though the sin about the confession of which you are doubtful, had been a grievous fault, you are not obliged to confess it because it is presumed to be morally certain that you have already confessed it. But, if you know that the sin was grievous, and that you never accused yourself of it in confession, then there is no remedy; you must confess it, or you must be damned for it. But, lost sheep, go instantly to confession. Jesus Christ is waiting for you; he stands with arms open to pardon and embrace you, if you acknowledge your guilt. I assure you that, after having confessed all your sins, you shall feel such consolation at having unburdened your conscience and acquired the grace of God, that you shall for ever bless the day on which you made this confession. Go as soon as possible in search of a confessor. Do not give the devil time to continue to tempt you. and to make you put off your confession: go immediately: for Jesus Christ is waiting for you.
"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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#5
Father Hewko's Sermons for the Third Sunday of Lent



2017 - Three Masses









2018






2019 - Three Masses









2020





2021 - Two Masses







2022
"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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