Fifth Week after Easter [Monday thru Saturday]
Monday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

Jesus bestows an inestimable gift upon his Apostles; and from this gift there proceed two Sacraments. On the sixth day of the Creation, the Divine Word infused his breath into Man, whose body he had formed out of the slime of the earth; and immediately this body was animated by a soul, bearing upon it the image of God. On the evening of the day of his Resurrection, the same Divine Word, then made visible in the flesh he had assumed, suddenly appeared in the midst of his Apostles, and said to them: Peace be to you! As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. Then breathing upon them, he added, in a tone of command: Receive ye the Holy Ghost! What is this Breath, which is not given to all men but only to a few chosen ones? Jesus himself explains it by the words he speaks: this Breath imparts the Holy Ghost to them that receive it. The Holy Ghost is given to the Apostles, because they are sent by Jesus, as Jesus is sent by the Father.

The Apostles, then, receive this Divine Spirit, in order that they may communicate him to men, just as they themselves have had him given to them by Jesus. The Church’s tradition fills up the brief account of the Gospel. Two Sacraments, as we have already stated, take their origin from this act of our Risen Jesus, who, afterwards, instructed his Apostles as to the rites wherewith each of the two was to be administered.

The first of these two Sacraments is Confirmation, for whose institution we will return our humble thanks today; the other is Holy Orders, which we will explain further on in the week: both of them belong, in their administration, to the Episcopal character, which is the source whence flow the gifts conferred upon the Apostles for man’s sanctification.

Such is the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation, that until such time as we have received it, we cannot be considered as perfect Christians. It is true that, by virtue of our Baptism, we are Children of God, Members of Christ and his Church; but as Christians, we are Soldiers—we have to Confess our faith, sometimes before tyrants, and even to the shedding of our blood; sometimes before the world, whose false seductive maxims are the occasion of so many apostasies; sometimes against Satan and his wicked angels, whose power is so justly feared by the servants of Christ. The seal of the Holy Ghost confers on us a degree of strength which Baptism does not give. Baptism made us citizens of the Church: Confirmation makes us Soldiers of God and of his Christ. Again, it is true that we can fight and conquer with the armor of Baptism; such is God’s will, who knows that the Sacrament which perfects the Christian is sometimes an impossibility; but wo to them that neglect to receive the completion of their Baptism! Hence, after administering the Sacrament of regeneration on Holy Saturday, the Bishop at once proceeded to give the Holy Ghost to all those who had been just born in the Son, and had been adopted by the Father.

Yes, Confirmation is administered by a Bishop; it is for him to say to the Baptized: Receive ye the Holy Ghost! It was just that this Divine Spirit should be thus honored. Even when, in cases of necessity, a Priest is delegated, by the Pope, to administer this Sacrament, he cannot validly do so except on the condition of his using Chrism consecrated by a Bishop: and thus, the Episcopal power is always uppermost in the conferring of the Holy Ghost.

What a solemn moment is that, wherein the Spirit of Power, who strengthened the Apostles, descends upon the Neophytes kneeling before the Bishop! The Pontiff stretches his hands over them; he pours out upon them the Spirit he has received in order to his communicating him to others; and, that he may give all possible solemnity to the gift he is about to bestow, he cites the words of Isaias, which prophesy the descent of the Spirit on the Branch that was to spring up from the Root of Jesse—a prophecy which was fulfilled in our Jesus when he received Baptism in the river Jordan, from the hands of St. John the Baptist: “O Almighty and Eternal God! who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy Servants by Water and the Holy Ghost; send forth from heaven upon them thy seven-fold Spirit, the Holy Paraclete: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and fortitude; the Spirit of knowledge and godliness; fill them with the Spirit of thy fear, and sign them with the sign of the Cross of Christ.”

Then is brought the sacred Chrism, of whose virtue we heard so much on Maundy Thursday. Confirmation was anciently called the Sacrament of Chrism—of Chrism in which dwells the power of the Holy Ghost. The Pontiff anoints with it the foreheads of the Neophytes and, at that same instant, the Holy Ghost imprints on their souls the sign of a perfect Christian. They are confirmed, and forever. Let them but listen to the voice of the Sacrament which is now within them, and no trial, no danger, can master them. The holy Oil, wherewith the Cross has been signed on their forehead, had imparted to them that firmness of adamant which was given to the Prophet Ezechiel, and enabled him to withstand all his enemies.

To a Christian, strength is salvation; for man’s life on earth is a warfare. Glory, then, be to our Risen Jesus, who, foreseeing the attacks that would be made against us, has armed us for the battle and, in this admirable Sacrament of Confirmation, has given us the Divine Spirit, who proceeds from himself and the Father, that we might be strong and invincible! Let us thank him, with all our hearts, for his having thus completed the grace already given us in Baptism. The Father, who so graciously adopted us, has delivered up his Only-Begotten Son for us; the Son gives us the Spirit, that he may dwell within us—oh! how wonderful a creature is Man, who is so loved by the Trinity! And yet Man is a sinner, and unfaithful creature; and, but too frequently, all these graces are rendered fruitless by his negligence or malice! Let us, at least, be faithful by keeping ourselves closely united to the Holy Church, and by devoutly celebrating, with her, the mysteries of God’s goodness, which the Liturgical Year brings successively before us.

Let us adore our Risen Jesus, our Divine Benefactor. In the name of his Church, enriched as she is by such precious gifts, let us offer him this beautiful Paschal canticle, taken from the ancient Missals of Saint Gall’s.

Ecce vocibus
Carmina comparibus
Ecclesia dilecto
Pangat suo
Illius gaudens
Reditus triumpho.

Let the Church, rejoicing in the triumphant return of her Beloved, sing to him her canticles, with voices well attuned.

Et a pulchra
Tergens gena
Læta nunc excipiat
Quem nuper flebat

Let her dry the tears from her beautiful cheeks, and gladly welcome back her Jesus, for whom she wept when he was taken from her.

Qui de sursum veniens,
Hujus et effectu ardens,
Tersit suo vulnere
Ab illa nævum
Parentis primulæ.
Cujus sponsi radio
Procul de nuptæ gaudio
Synagoga pellatur,
Colore obfuscata nigerrimo.

He came from heaven, out of burning love for her; and, by his Blood, cleansed her from the stains of Eve’s offense. The Synagogue clad in robes of blackest hue, is driven, by the Bridegroom’s piercing rays, from the Marriage Feast.

Namque illius amore
Alta confixus crucis arbore
Sacravit lateris
Illam flumine.

Through love for his Church, Jesus was fastened to the lofty Tree of the Cross, and sanctified her by the stream that flowed from his Side.

Hanc præfiguravit Eva,
Viri cum fabricatur a costa,
Et Noe arcula
Aquis levata.

Eve, formed from Adam’s rib, was a figure of the Church; so, too, was Noah’s Ark, when it sailed on the waters.

Hanc Babylonis
Nuper tyrannus
Misere afflictam,
Atque suis a sedibus
Tu, Christe,
Favens ploranti,
Atque sternens Babylonem,
Revocasti Sion tuum
Ad montem.

The king of Babylon cruelly treated thy Spouse, O Christ, and sent her into exile: but thou hadst pity on her sorrow, and, destroying Babylon, broughtest her back to thy holy Mount of Sion.

Quam hic jocumdis
Ovantem gaudiis
Gratia figurat
Mundi florentis,
Hujus gratiæ
Confortes nos esse
Fac Jesu redemptos
Tuo cruore;

The earth, decked in her flowers of Spring, is a figure of thy Church’s triumphant joy. Make us, O Jesus, to imitate her loveliness, for thou redeemest us by thy Blood.

Et qui nostri causa
Canopicos afflixisti
Morte principes,
Ut nos inde solveres,
Præsta in eremo
Hujus vitæ,
Ut muniti pedes
Conteramus igneas.

Thou, for our sakes, and for our deliverance, didst bring death upon the princes of Egypt: grant, that we may safely walk through the desert of this life, tread the fiery serpents beneath our feet,

Te duce, promissam
Veniamus ut ad terram. Amen.

And, having thee for our leader, reach the Promised Land. 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
Tuesday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

The third Sacrament—the Holy Eucharist—is so intimately connected with our Redeemer’s Passion that its institution could not be deferred till the Resurrection had taken place. On Maundy Thursday, we honored the solemn act whereby our Jesus prepared for the morrow’s sacrifice, by instituting the mystery of his Body and Blood, which are really immolated in the Eucharistic Supper. The Apostles were not only admitted, as all future generations were to be, to partake of the Divine Food, which giveth life to the world, but they moreover received power from Jesus, the Priest for ever, to do what he himself had just done. The great Mystery was inaugurated; the new Priesthood was instituted: and now that Jesus is risen from the dead, he makes known to his Apostles the whole importance of the gift bestowed upon mankind at the Last Supper; he bids them begin the exercise of the sublime power, conferred on them, as soon as the Holy Ghost, by descending upon the earth, shall give to the Church the signal for her using the prerogatives wherewith she has been endowed; and finally, he teaches how they are to perform this special function of their Priesthood.

At the Last Supper, the Apostles were still carnal-minded men. They were taken up with the sad event that was about to happen, and overcome with grief at their Divine Master’s telling them that that was the last Pasch he was to keep with them. They were not, therefore, in a fit state to appreciate what it was that Jesus had done for them, when he uttered those words: Take ye and eat; this is my Body.—Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood. Still less did they understand the greatness of the power they received, of doing what their Lord himself had just done in their presence. Now that Jesus is risen from the grave, he unfolds all these mysteries to them. The Sacrament of the Eucharist was not instituted during these days, but it was made known, explained, and glorified by its Divine Institutor: and this circumstance gives a fresh luster to the sacred season we are now going through.

Of all the Sacraments, there is not one that can be compared, in dignity, to that of the Eucharist. The others give grace; this gives us the very Author of grace. The others are only Sacraments; this is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. We will endeavor to explain it in its magnificence, when we come to the bright feast of Corpus Christi. Let us for the present pay the tribute of our loving adorations to our Jesus, the Living Bread, that giveth life to the world.. Let us acknowledge his immense love for his Sheep. He seems to be on the point of leaving them that he may return to his Father, and yet his love retains him amongst them by means of this august mystery, wherein he is truly though invisibly present.

Be thou blessed, then, O Son of the Eternal Father! who, even in the days of the ancient Covenant, didst assure us that thy delights are to be with the children of men. Thou provest it now by this wonderful Sacrament, which reconciles thy two announcements, apparently so contradictory: thy leaving us, and thy abiding ever in our midst.

Be thou blessed for having provided for the nourishment of our souls, as well as for that of our bodies. At Christmas, we welcomed thy Birth at Bethlehem, which signifies a House of Bread. Thou wast both the Savior who was born for us, and the Food that came down from heaven to nourish our souls.

Be thou blessed who, not satisfied with working the greatest of wonders at the Last Supper, by changing bread into thy Body and wine into thy Blood, hast also willed that this same miracle should be renewed, everywhere and to the end of time, for the support and consolation of our souls.

Be thou blessed in that thou hast put no limits to our longing after this Bread of Life. On the contrary, thou biddest us make it our daily Bread, and this in order that we may not faint in the way of this our exile.

Be thou blessed for the generosity wherewith, out of thy desire to communicate thyself unto us, thou hast exposed thyself to the blasphemies of heretics, to the sacrileges of bad Christians, and to the indifference of the tepid.

Be thou blessed, O Divine Lamb, who enrichest the new Pasch by the shedding of thy Blood, and invitest the new Israel to a banquet, where thy sacred Body is offered as nourishment to thy Faithful; there do they receive Life at its very source, and share in the ineffable joys of thy Resurrection.

Be thou blessed, O Jesus, for having instituted, in the Holy Eucharist, not only the greatest of the Sacraments, but also a Sacrifice which surpasses all others; a Sacrifice whereby we are enabled to offer to the Divine Majesty the only homage that is worthy of him, give him thanks in keeping with his favors to us, make him a superabundant atonement for our sins, and finally beg and obtain from him all the graces of which we stand in need.

Be thou blessed, O Emmanuel, who, having promised to give us this heavenly Food, didst fulfill thy promise on the eve of thy Passion, and gavest us this adorable Sacrament as the Testament of thy love. In the interval between thy Resurrection and Ascension, thou didst reveal to thine Apostles the excellency of thy gift, that so we might receive it with becoming faith.

We offer thee, dear Jesus, this homage of our faith. We confess that, in this august Mystery, the bread is changed into thy Body, and the wine into thy Blood: and we believe it, because thou hast said it, and because thou canst do all things.

In praise of our Paschal Lamb—who gives himself to us to be our nourishment—let us recite the following beautiful canticle, composed by Notker for the Church of Saint Gall’s.

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Agni paschalis
Esu potuque dignas,

That they may be worthy to partake of the Paschal Lamb,

Moribus sinceris
Præbeant omnes se christianæ animæ

Let Christians fit themselves by holy lives.

Pro quibus se Deo hostiam obtulit,
Ipse summus Pontifex.

Jesus, the High Priest, offered himself, for their sakes, as an oblation to the Father.

Quarum frons,
In postis est modum
Ejus illita sacrosancto cruore,
Tuta a clade Canopica,

They are signed, as were the doors of the Israelite house, with the most holy Blood of the Lamb; they are protected from the slaughter that fell upon Egypt.

Qua crudeles hostes
In mari rubro sunt obruti.

When the cruel enemies were engulfed in the Red Sea.

Renes constringant ad pudicitiam:
Pedes tutentur adversus viperas;

Let the Faithful gird their loins with purity; let them protect their feet against vipers;

Baculosque spirituales
Contra canes jugiter manu bajulent;

And let them ever carry spiritual staves in their hands, to defend themselves against dogs;

Ut Pascha Jesu moreantur sequi,
Quo de barathro victor rediit.

That, thus, they may deserve to follow Jesus’ Pasch, whereby he rose again victorious from the Tomb.

En redivivus mundus,
Ornatibus Christo consurgens,
Fideles admonet,

Lo! the earth is come once more to life, and, by her loveliness, rises together with Christ. She teaches us,

Post mortem melius
Cum eo victuros. Amen.

That we, after death, are to share in Jesus’ victory. 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
Wednesday of the Fifth Week After Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

We now come to the fourth Sacrament, which may be justly called the Sacrament of Mercy. Jesus knew the weakness of man. He knew that the great majority of Christians would not persevere in the grace they received at Baptism; and that sin would, in most cases, spoil the beautiful plant which had been watered by the dew of heaven, and which, after growing and flowering, was to be transplanted into the garden of eternal life. Like grass that lies withered on the field, so would be this once fair plant. How could it ever revive, unless He that made it, gave it life again? Thanks to his infinite mercy!—this is what he has the will to do. Consulting the sinner’s salvation rather than his own glory, he prepared, as the holy Fathers express it, a second plank after shipwreck. The first was Baptism; but mortal sin came, and the soul was again plunged into the wild abyss. She had fallen once more into the hands of her enemy; she was fettered by chains, which it was out of her power to break.

During his mortal life on earth, Jesus, who came not to judge the world, but to save it, declared that these fetters, forged by the sinner’s malice, should be broken by a power which he would one day establish in his Church. Speaking to his Apostles, he told them that whatsoever they should loosen upon earth, should be loosed also in heaven. Since making that solemn promise, our Redeemer has offered his sacrifice on the Cross; his infinitely precious Blood has been shed for the superabundant expiation of the sins of the world. He that loved us to such a degree as this could never forget the promise he had made. On the contrary, he was most anxious to keep it, for he knew the fearful dangers to which our salvation is exposed. On the very day of his Resurrection, he appears to his Apostles, and his first words evince his eagerness to fulfill the promise he had previously made. It seems as though his mercy were impatient to break asunder the humiliating and terrible bonds of sin, which held us captives. No sooner has he breathed the Holy Ghost upon his Apostles, than he adds these words: Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them. Observe here, as the holy Fathers have done, the strength of the words spoken by our Lord: They are forgiven. He says not, “They shall be forgiven:” it is no longer the promise of a gift, but the gift itself. Before the Apostles have exercised the divine power conferred on them by Jesus, every absolution, which they and their successors in this sacred ministry shall pronounce, even to the end of time, is already confirmed.

Glory, then, be to our Risen Jesus, who has removed the barriers of his Justice, that his Mercy might inundate the world! Let mankind unite, and sing to him the sublime canticle of David, wherein foreseeing the wondrous events that were to take place under the New Law, this Royal Psalmist prophesied the Forgiveness of sins, which the Apostles were afterwards to teach us as an Article of our Creed. Bless the Lord, O my soul! and let all that is within thee bless his holy Name. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction.

Thy youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not always be angry. He hath not death with us according to our sins. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us.

As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Man’s days are as grass; as the flower of the field, so shall he flourish; for the spirit shall pass in him, and he shall not be, and he shall know his place no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him. O my soul! bless thou the Lord.

And yet we, the children of the promise, know, even better than David did, the greatness of God’s mercy. Jesus was not content with giving us his assurance that if, after having sinned, we have recourse, with humble repentance, to the Divine Majesty, we shall obtain pardon: as the sentence of God’s mercy would thus be without any outward sign, a cruel anxiety would have ever been upon us, leaving us in doubt of our forgiveness. Therefore did this loving Savior ordain that men should give us pardon, in his name. That we might know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, he gave power to his delegates to pronounce over us a sentence of absolution, which our very ears might hear, and which would convey to our souls the sweet confidence of pardon.

O ineffable Sacrament, by whose means heaven is peopled by countless numbers who else had been lost, and who will for ever sing the mercies of the Lord! O irresistible power of the words of absolution, which, deriving their efficacy from the Blood of our Redeemer, take away all our iniquities, and plunge them into the abyss of Divine Mercy! The eternity of torments due to these iniquities would never have expiated them; and yet these few words of the Priest: I absolve thee, have utterly annihilated them.

Such is the Sacrament of Penance. In return for the humble confession of our sins and the sincere sorrow for having committed them, we receive pardon, and this not for once or twice only, but as often as we approach the sacred tribunal; not for this or that kind of sin only, but for every sin whatsoever. It is not to be wondered at that Satan should envy man this gift, and strive to throw such doubts and difficulties in the way as to prevent his profiting by it. What has not heresy said against this Sacrament? It began by teaching that it takes from the glory of holy Baptism; whereas on the contrary, it honors that first Sacrament, by repairing the injuries done to it by sin. Later on, it exacted, as absolutely necessary for the Sacraments, such perfect dispositions, that Absolution would find the soul already reconciled with God. It was by this dangerous snare of Jansenism that so many were ruined, either by pride or by discouragement. And lastly, it has set up that Protestant dictum: “I confess my sins to God;” just as though God had not the right to lay down the conditions for pardon.

The Sacraments being, as they are, such divine institutions, demand our faith; without faith, they are simply impossibilities. Though this be true of all the Seven, yet the Sacrament of Penance is especially welcome to a man of faith, because it so thoroughly humbles human pride. It sends man to ask of his fellow man what God could have given directly himself. Jesus said to the lepers, whom he wished to cure: Go, show yourselves to the priests! Surely, he has a right to act in the same manner, when there is question of spiritual leprosy.

Let us, as an homage to our generous Redeemer, offer him this Easter Hymn; it is the one used by the Church in her Ferial Matins of Paschal Time.


Rex sempiterne cœlitum
Rerum creator omnium,
Æqualis ante sæcula
Semper Parenti Filius.

O King Eternal, of the heavenly citizens! Creator of all things! Son co-equal with the Father, before all ages!

Nascente qui mundo faber
Imaginem vultus tui
Tradens Adamo, nobilem
Limo jugasti spiritum.

When this world first sprang up at thy creating word, thou gavest to Adam a resemblance to thine own divine Face; and, to his body formed from slime, thou joinedst a noble soul.

Cum liver et fraus dæmonis
Fœdasset humanum genus,
Tu carne amictus perditam
Formam reformas artifex.

When the envy and craft of Satan brought degradation upon mankind, thou, our Maker, didst clothe thyself with flesh and reform our lost race.

Qui natus olim e Virgine,
Nunc a sepulchro nasceris,
Tecumque nos a mortuis
Jubes sepultos surgere.

Thou, that once wast born of a Virgin, art now born from the Sepulcher, and biddest us rise with thee from our death and burial.

Qui pastor æternus gregem
Aqua lavis baptismatis:
Hæc est lavacrum mentium,
Hæc est sepulcrum criminum.

Thou art the Eternla Shepherd, who washest thy sheep in the waters of Baptism: it is the laver of our souls, it is the grave of our sins.

Nobis diu qui debitæ
Redemptor affixus cruci,
Nostræ dedisti prodigus
Pretium salutis sanguinem.

Thou, our Redeemer, didst long hang upon the Cross that was due to us; thou generously gavest us thy Blood, as the ransom of our salvation.

Ut sis perenne mentibus
Paschale, Jesu, gaudium,
A morte dira criminum
Vitærenatos libera.

That thou, O Jesus, mayst be an endless Paschal joy to our hearts, free us, who have been regenerated unto life, from the dread death of sin.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Glory be to God the Father, and to the Son who rose from the dead, and to the Paraclete, for everlasting ages. 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
Thursday of the Fifth Week after Easter
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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℣. In resurrectione tua Christe, alleluia. 
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.

℟. Cœli et terra lætentur, alleluia. 
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

By the first four Sacraments, our Savior provided for the several spiritual necessities of man during this mortal life. Baptism gives him spiritual birth, Confirmation arms him for the battle, the Eucharist is his food, Penance is his cure. But the last moment of life—that most important and terrible of all, and on which depends eternity—does it not seem to require a special sacramental aid? Could it be that our Redeemer, after so lovingly supplying us with a Sacrament to meet our other wants, would leave us unprovided when we are dying, that is, when we are passing from this to another life, and are weighed down with bodily and mental sufferings? No: he has provided a Sacrament for the Dying; the grace of Redemption puts on a new form, that it may visit and fortify us in our last struggle.

Even before his Passion, he gave us some idea of the Sacrament he intended to institute for the help of the Dying. When he sent his Disciples before him, that they might prepare the people for his preaching, he commanded them to anoint the Sick with Oil: they did so, and the result was the cure of them that were thus anointed. But after his Resurrection, when our Redeemer was preparing the dowry of his Church, he gave her a Sacrament wherewith this Mother was to administer special grace and consolation to her Children when in danger of death.

Oil is the symbol of strength; hence, the wrestlers of old used it as a means for acquiring activity and nerve. Our Savior chose it as the matter of the Sacrament of Confirmation, whereby our souls, after being regenerated by Baptism, are strengthened for their future combats. The hour of Death is a combat, but one so terrible that it stands apart by itself. It is then that Satan, seeing how the long-coveted prey is soon to be beyond his reach, redoubles his efforts to make it his own forever. The dying Christian, standing as he does on the brink of eternity, is exposed to two temptations: presumption and despair. In a few moments he will be before the Judge, whose sentence is irrevocable. The remnants of sin are still upon him, and clog his soul. How will he comport himself, in that last combat, on which depends the final success of all the previous ones of his life? Is not this an occasion for a special Sacrament, whereby our Jesus may provide his combatant with the help so urgently needed? Yes; and here again it is Oil. The first anointing was that of Confirmation, and it gave strength; and the last, or as it is called Extreme Unction, is equally rich in power: it is the last application made to mankind of the Redeemer’s blood, “which flows in such abundance with this holy Oil.”

Let us consider the effects of Extreme Unction, of which the Apostle St. James speaks to us in his Epistle. What he there tells us, he had received from Jesus’ own lips. First of all, this Sacrament brings forgiveness of sins; forgiveness of those sins which the conscience, however diligent it may have been in its examination, had overlooked; and which, nevertheless, injure the soul: and forgiveness of those remnants of sin, which continue after the guilt of sin has been remitted; like wounds which, though cured, are not quite closed, and keep the patient weak. The holy Oil anoints each of the senses; each has been the source of sin; each now receives its special purification. These doors, which, up to this moment had been open to the world, are now closed; so that the soul can be all intent upon eternal things. Let the enemy come now, if he will; his attacks can do no harm. He expected to find his adversary the poor earthly-minded creature of old, on whom he had inflicted hundreds of wounds; but lo! he finds a soldier of Christ, vigorous and brave. It is Extreme Unction that has worked the change.

But the effects of this Sacrament do not stop here. Though primarily instituted for imparting strength to the soul, yet has it the power of restoring health to the body. We learn this from the same Apostle St. James. His words are these: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with Oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up. The sacred formula, which accompanies each anointing in this Sacrament, has therefore the power of restoring bodily health, at the same time that it drives away the remnants of sin, which is the chief cause of all man’s miseries, whether of soul or body. Such is the interpretation put by the Church on the words of St. James; and we have continual proofs that our Divine Master has not forgotten the promise of two-fold efficacy which he gave to this Sacrament. Hence it is that after having appointed the several senses of the sick person, the Priest addresses God in earnest prayer, that he would restore strength of body to him, or her, whose soul has received the efficacy of the heavenly remedy. Nay, the Church looks upon the restoration to bodily health as so truly a Sacramental effect of Extreme Unction, that she does not consider as miracles, properly so called, the cures produced by its administration.

Let us, then, offer to the Conqueror of Death the homage of our thanks for this fresh proof of his compassionate love. He would himself experience all our miseries, not excepting even death or the agony that precedes it. When on his Cross, and enduring every anguish, as though he were a poor dying sinner and not the Saint of Saints, he thought of our deaths, and mercifully blessed our last agony with an outpouring of his precious Blood. This was the origin of the beautiful Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which he gave to his Church after his Resurrection, and for which we offer him today our humble thanks.

The following Hymn—composed by St. Ambrose, and used, during Paschal Time, in the Church of Milan—celebrates, with the Saint’s characteristic vigor of style,
the thoroughness of the salvation wrought by the Death of Christ, as was made evident in the conversion of the Good Thief.


Hic est dies verus Dei,
Sanctus sereno lumine,
Quo diluit sanguis sacer
Probrosa mundi crimina.

This is indeed God’s own Day, holy with its uncloused light, whereon the Sacred Blood washed away the world’s infamous crimes.

Fidem refundens perditis,
Cæcosque visu illuminans:
Quem non gravi solvet metu
Latronis absolutio?

It re-animates to confidence them that were lost in despair; it gives sight to the blind. Oh! who would not cease to despair, that thought of the pardon given to the Thief?

Qui præmio mutans crucem,
Jesum brevi acquirit fide,
Justusque prævio gradu
Pervenit in regnum Dei.

His cross was changed into a crown; he gained Jesus by a brief act of faith; and, being justified, was the first to enter into the kingdom of God.

Opus stupent et Angeli,
Pœnam videntes corporis,
Christoque adhærentem reum
Vitam beatam carpere.

The very Angels are bewildered at the change: they behold the criminal suffering bodily tortures, yet, united with Christ, and culling the flower of life everlasting.

Mysterium mirabile,
Ut abluat mundi luem,
Peccata tollit omnium,
Carnis vitia mundans caro.

O wondrous Mystery! Jesus takes upon himself the sins of the world, that he may cleanse it from its filth: Flesh washes away the sins of flesh.

Quid hoc potest sublimius,
Ut culpa quærat gratiam,
Metumque solvat charitas,
Reddatque mors vitam novam?

What more sublime than this?&mash;sin seeking for grace? love expelling fear? and death giving a new life?

Hamum sibi mors devoret,
Suisque se nodis liget:
Moriatur vita omnium,
Resurgat ut vita omnium.

Let Death swallow the hook he throws out to others; let him be caught in his own net! Let Him but die, who is the Life of all, and all will rise to life.

Cum mors per omnes transeat,
Omnes resurgunt mortui:
Consumpta mors ictu suo
Perisse se solam gemit.

All men pass through death, and all the dead rise again to life: Death’s blow falls on himself, and none die but he.

Gloria tibi Domine,
Qui surrexisti a mortuis,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

Glory be to thee, O Lord, who didst rise again from the dead! and to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, for everlasting ages. 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

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