St. Alphonsus Liguori: Daily Meditations for the Fourth Week after Epiphany
[Image: by1jaXNlcmkuanBn]

Monday--Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


The present life is an unceasing warfare with hell, in which we are in constant danger. The news of their approaching death filled the Saints with consolation. They knew that their struggles and dangers were soon to have an end and that they should soon be in secure possession of the happy lot in which they could never more lose God.


God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and death shall be no more (Apoc. xxi. 4). Then at death the Lord will wipe away from the eyes of His servants all the tears they shed in this world, where they lived in the midst of fears, of dangers, and of combats with hell. The greatest consolation which a soul that has loved God will experience in hearing the news of death, will arise from the thought that it will soon be delivered from the many dangers of offending God to which it is exposed in this life, from so many troubles of conscience, and from so many temptations of the devil. The present life is an unceasing warfare with hell, in which we are in continual danger of losing our souls and God. St. Ambrose says that in this life we walk among snares. We walk continually amid the snares of enemies who lie in wait to deprive us of the life of grace. It was this danger that made St. Peter of Alcantara say at death to a Religious who, in attending the Saint, accidentally touched him: "Brother, remove, remove away from me; for I am still alive, and in danger of being lost." The thought of being freed by death from the danger of sin consoled St. Teresa, and made her rejoice as often as she heard the clock strike, that another hour of the combat had passed. Hence she would say: "In each moment of life I may sin and lose God." Hence, the news of their approaching death filled the Saints with consolation; because they knew that their struggles and dangers were soon to have an end, and that they would soon be in secure possession of that happy lot in which they could never more lose God.

It is related in the Lives of the Fathers, that one of them who was very old, when dying, smiled while the others wept. Being asked why he smiled, he replied: "And why do you weep at seeing me go to rest?" Likewise St. Catherine of Sienna in her last moments said: "Rejoice with me, for I quit this land of pains and go to a place of peace." If, says St. Cyprian, you lived in a house whose walls and roof and floors were tottering, and threatened destruction, how ardently would you desire to fly from it! In this life everything menaces the ruin of the soul; the world, hell, the passions, the rebellious senses, all draw us to sin and eternal death.

Into thy hands I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth (Ps. xxx. 6). Ah, my sweet Redeemer, what would have become of me if Thou hadst deprived me of life when I was far from Thee? I should now be in hell, where I could never love Thee. I thank Thee for not having abandoned me, and for having bestowed on me so many great graces in order to gain my heart. I am sorry for having offended Thee. I love Thee above all things. Ah! I entreat Thee to make me always sensible of the evil I have done in despising Thee, and of the love which Thy infinite goodness merits. I love Thee, and I desire to die soon if such be Thy will, that I may be freed from the danger of ever again losing Thy grace, and that I may be secure of loving Thee forever.


Who, exclaimed the Apostle, shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom. vii. 24). Oh how great will be the joy of the soul in hearing these words: "Come, my spouse, from that land of tears. Come from the dens of the lions (Cant. iv. 8) that seek to devour you, and rob you of the Divine grace." Hence, St. Paul, sighing for death said that Jesus Christ was his only Life; and therefore he esteemed death his greatest gain, because by death he acquired that Life which never ends. To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. i. 21).

In taking away a soul while it is in the state of grace out of this world, where it may change its will and lose His friendship, God bestows on it a great favour. He was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding (Wis. iv. 11). Happy in this life is the man that lives in union with God; but as the sailor is not secure until he has arrived at the port and escaped the tempest, so the soul cannot enjoy complete happiness until it has left this world in the grace of God. "Praise," says St. Maximus, "the felicity of the sailor, but not until he has reached the port." Now, if at his approach to the port the sailor rejoices, how much greater ought not the joy and gladness of a Christian to be who is at the point of securing eternal salvation?

Moreover, it is impossible in this life to avoid all venial sins. For, says the Holy Ghost, a just man shall fall seven times (Prov. xxiv. 16). He who quits this life ceases to offend God. "For," says St. Ambrose, "what is death but the burial of vices?" This consideration makes souls that love God long for death. The Venerable Vincent Caraffa consoled himself at death, saying: "By ceasing to live, I cease forever to offend God." And St. Ambrose said: "Why do we desire this life, in which, the longer we live, the more we are loaded with sins?" He who dies in the grace of God can never more offend Him, says the same holy Doctor. Hence, the Lord praises the dead more than any man living, though he be a Saint. (Ecclus. iv. 2). A certain spiritual man gave directions that the person who should bring him the news of death, should say: "Console yourself! The time has arrived when you will no longer offend God."

Ah, my beloved Jesus, during these remaining years of my life, give me strength to do something for Thee before I die. Give me strength against all temptations, and against my passions, but particularly against the passion which has hitherto most violently drawn me to sin. Give me patience in all infirmities, and under all the injuries I may receive from men. I now, for the love of Thee, pardon all who have shown me any contempt, and I beg of Thee to bestow upon them the graces which they stand in need of. Give me strength to be more diligent in avoiding even venial faults, about which I have been hitherto negligent. My Saviour, assist me. I hope for all graces through Thy merits. O Mary, my Mother, and my hope, I place unbounded confidence in thee.

Spiritual Reading


(January 20)

This Saint was born of Christian parents who dwelt at Narbonne, in Languedoc, but were natives of Milan. St. Ambrose relates that by reason of his extraordinary talents and exemplary conduct, our Saint was much beloved by Diocletian who appointed him captain of the first company of his guards. Sebastian employed the emoluments of his station in the relief of the poor, and was indefatigable in assisting his brother Christians, particularly those who languished in prison whom he not only relieved with alms, but encouraged to suffer for Jesus Christ. He was consequently considered the main support of the persecuted faithful.

At this time it happened that the two brothers, Marcus and Marcellianus, Roman knights, who had suffered tortures with considerable constancy, were being led to death, when their father, Tarquillinus, and their mother, Marcia, accompanied by the wives and children of the two Confessors, obtained from the judge, Cromatius, by tears and entreaties, that the sentence should be deferred for thirty days. It is easy to imagine what wailings and entreaties were used by their relatives during the respite in order to induce the two brothers to apostatise. Indeed, they were so importunate and unceasing in their efforts, that they who had already confessed the Faith began now to vacillate. But Sebastian, who knew them, ran instantly to their assistance, and God's blessing so accompanied his words that he induced them to receive with joy a most cruel death; for they were obliged to hang nailed by the feet to a gallows for a day and a night before they were transfixed with a lance. Nor was this all. The zealous captain likewise converted to the Faith not only all the above-named relatives of Marcus and Marcellianus, but also Nicostratus, an officer of Cromatius, and Claudius, the provost of the prison, and sixty-four prisoners who were idolaters.

But the most remarkable conversion was that of Cromatius himself who, hearing that Tarquillinus had embraced the Faith, sent for him and said: "Hast thou, then, become mad in the last days of thy life?" The good old man replied: "On the contrary, by embracing the Christian Faith I have become wise, for it is wisdom to prefer an everlasting life to the few wretched days that await me in this world." He then persuaded him to have an interview with St. Sebastian who quickly persuaded him of the truth of the Christian Religion; and Cromatius, having received Baptism, with his entire family, and one thousand four hundred slaves, to whom he granted their freedom, renounced his office and retired to his country house.

Fabian, the successor of Cromatius, having learned that Sebastian not only exhorted the Christians to remain steadfast to the Faith, but procured also the conversion of the pagans, reported the fact to the emperor who sent for our Saint and upbraided him with the crime of perverting his subjects. Sebastian answered that he considered he was rendering the greatest possible service to the emperor, since the state benefited by having Christian subjects, whose fidelity to their sovereign is proportionate to their devotedness to Jesus Christ. The emperor, enraged at this reply, ordered that the Saint should be instantly tied to a post, and that a body of archers should discharge their arrows against him. The sentence was immediately executed, and Sebastian was left for dead; but a holy widow, named Irene, went at night to bury him and finding him yet alive brought him to her house where he recovered. After this the Saint went to the emperor, and said to him: "How long, O Prince, wilt thou believe the calumnies that have been spread against the Christians? I have returned to tell thee again that thou hast not in the empire subjects more faithful than the Christians, who by their prayers obtain for thee all thy prosperity."

Diocletian, surprised to see the Saint still living, exclaimed: "How is it that thou art yet alive?" Sebastian answered: "the Lord has been pleased to preserve my life that I might admonish thee of thy impiety in persecuting the Christians."

The emperor, irritated at the admonition, ordered that the Saint should be scourged to death. This sentence being executed, he expired on the 20th January, about the year 228.

The pagans threw the body of the Martyr into a marsh, but a holy lady named Lucina caused it to be taken thence, and buried it at the entrance of a cemetery now called the "Catacombs of St. Sebastian."

Evening Meditation



Who in this world has so much patience with his equals as God has with us His creatures, in bearing with us and waiting for our repentance after the many offences we have committed against Him?

Ah, my God, had I thus offended my brother or my father, long ago would he have driven me from his face! O Father of Mercies, cast me not away from thy face (Ps. l. 13), but have pity on me.

Thou hast mercy, says the Wise Man, upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance (Wis. xi. 24). Men conceal their sense of the injuries which they receive, either because they are good, and know that it belongs not to themselves to punish those who offend them; or because they are unable, and have not the power, to revenge themselves. But to Thee, my God, it does belong to take revenge for the offences which are committed against Thy infinite Majesty; and Thou indeed art able to avenge Thyself whenever Thou pleasest, and dost Thou dissemble? Men despise Thee; they make promises to Thee and afterwards betray Thee; and dost Thou seem not to behold them, or as if Thou hadst little concern for Thy honour?

Thus, O Jesus, hast Thou done towards me. Ah! my God, my infinite Good, I will no longer despise Thee, I will no longer provoke Thee to chastise me. And why should I delay until Thou abandonest me in reality and condemnest me to hell? I am truly sorry for all my offences against Thee. I would that I had died rather than offended Thee! Thou art my Lord, Thou hast created me, and Thou hast redeemed me by Thy death; Thou alone hast loved me, Thou alone deservest to be loved, and Thou alone shall be the sole object of my love.


My soul, how could you be so ungrateful and so daring against your God? When you offended Him, could He not have suddenly called you out of life and punished you in hell? And yet He waited for you. Instead of chastising you, He preserved your life and gave you good things. But you, instead of being grateful to Him and loving Him for such excessive goodness, have continued to offend Him!

O my Lord, since Thou hast waited for me with so great mercy, I give Thee thanks. I am sorry for having offended Thee. I love Thee. I might at this hour have dwelt in hell where I could not have repented, nor have loved Thee. But now that I can repent, I grieve with my whole heart for having offended Thy infinite goodness; and I love Thee above all things, more than I love myself. Forgive me, and grant that from this day I may love no other but Thee, Who hast so loved me. May I live for Thee alone, my Redeemer, Who for me didst die upon the Cross! All my hopes are in Thy bitter Passion. O Mary, Mother of God, assist me by thy holy intercession.
"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–Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


He who wishes to see God must necessarily pass through the gate of death. Death is the end of labour and the gate of life, says St. Bernard. This is the gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it.


Death is not only the end of labours but it is also the gate of life. He who wishes to see God must necessarily pass through this gate. This is the gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it (Ps. cxvii. 20). St. Jerome entreated death to open its gates to him: Aperi mihi, soror mea. Death, my sister, if you do not open the door to me, I cannot enter to enjoy my Lord. Seeing in his house a picture in which death was represented with a knife in the hand, St. Charles Borromeo sent for a painter, and ordered him to substitute for the knife a golden key, in order that he might be more and more inflamed with a desire of death, which opens Paradise and admits us to the vision of God.

If, says St. John Chrysostom, a king had prepared for one of his subjects apartments in his own palace, but for a time obliged him to live in a tent, how ardently would the vassal sigh for the day on which he should leave the tent to enter into the palace. In this life the soul, being in the body, is as it were confined in a prison which she must leave in order to enter the celestial palace. Hence David prayed to the Lord to bring his soul out of prison (Ps. cxl. 8). When the holy Simeon held the Infant Jesus in his arms, he asked no other grace than to be delivered from the prison of the present life. Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, (Luke ii. 29). “As if detained by necessity, he,” says St. Ambrose, “begs to be dismissed.” The Apostle desired the same grace when he said: I am straitened, having a desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ (Phil. i. 23).

How great was the joy of the cup-bearer of Pharaoh when he heard from Joseph that he should soon be rescued from the prison and restored to his position! And will not a soul that loves God exult with gladness at hearing that it will soon be released from the prison of this earth and go to enjoy God? While we are in the body we are absent from the Lord (2 Cor. v. 6). While the soul is united to the body, it is at a distance from the vision of God, as if in a strange land, and excluded from its true country. Hence, according to St. Bruno, the departure of the soul from the body should not be called death, but the beginning of life.

O God of my soul, I have hitherto dishonoured Thee by turning my back upon Thee, but Thy Son has honoured Thee by offering to Thee the sacrifice of His life on the Cross. Through the honour which Thy beloved Son has given Thee, pardon the dishonour which I have done Thee. I am sorry, O Sovereign Good, for having offended Thee, and I promise henceforth to love nothing but Thee. From Thee I hope for salvation: whatever good is in me at present is the fruit of Thy grace; to Thee I ascribe it all. By the grace of God, I am what I am (1 Cor. xv. 10). If I have hitherto dishonoured Thee, I hope to honour Thee in Heaven by blessing and praising Thy mercy forever.


The death of the Saints is called their Birthday; because at death they are born to that life of bliss which will never end. St. Athanasius says: “To the just, death is only a passage to eternal life.” “O amiable death,” says St. Augustine, “who will not desire thee who art the end of evils, the conclusion of labour, the beginning of everlasting repose?” Hence the holy Doctor frequently prayed for death that he might see God.

The sinner, St. Cyprian says, has just reason to fear death, because he will pass from temporal to eternal death. But he who is in the state of grace, and hopes to pass from death to life, fears not death. In the Life of St. John the Almoner, we read that a certain rich man recommended to the prayers of the Saint an only son, and gave the Saint a large sum of money to be distributed in alms, for the purpose of obtaining from God a long life for his son. The son died soon after; and when the father complained of his death, God sent an Angel to say to him: “You sought for your son a long life: he now enjoys eternal life in Heaven.” This is, as was promised by the Prophet Osee, the grace which Jesus Christ merited for us. O death, I shall be thy death (Osee xiii. 41). By dying for us, Jesus has changed death into life. When Pionius, the Martyr, was being brought to the stake, he was asked by those who conducted him, how he could go to death with so much joy. “You err,” replied the Saint: “I go not to death but to life.” Thus, also, did the mother of the youthful St. Symphorian exhort him to Martyrdom. “My son,” said she, “life is not taken from you; it is only exchanged for a better one.”

I feel a great desire to love Thee, O my God. This Thou hast given me: I thank Thee for it, O my Love! Continue, continue the aid which Thou hast begun to give me. I hope to be henceforth Thine and entirely Thine. And what greater pleasure can I enjoy than that of pleasing Thee, my Lord, Who art so amiable, and Who hast loved me so tenderly! O my God, I ask only for love, love, love, and I hope always to ask this love of Thee, until, dying in Thy love, I reach the kingdom of love where I shall be filled with love, and never for a single moment for all eternity cease to love Thee and to love Thee with all my strength. Mary, my Mother, who lovest thy God so intensely, and who desirest so vehemently to see Him loved, obtain for me the grace to love Him ardently in this life, that I may love Him ardently forever in the next.

Spiritual Reading


4. — ST. AGNES, VIRGIN (January 21)

The name of St. Agnes has obtained universal celebrity. St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Maximus, Prudentius and other illustrious writers,* have been her panegyrists, and she is also mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.

*By the writings and tongues of all nations, particularly in the churches, hath St. Agnes been praised, who overcame the tenderness of her age and the cruelty of the tyrant, and sanctified the honour of her chastity with the glory of martyrdom.” — St. Jerome.

She is said to have been descended from very noble and pious parents, and to have been but twelve or thirteen years of age at the time of her Martrydom. Her extraordinary beauty caused her to be desired by many as their bride, but her principal suitor was Procopius, son of Symphronius, governor of Rome, who sent her a rich present, signifying that he was most anxious to be her husband. But the Saint, who had dedicated her virginity and all her affections to Jesus Christ, answered him that she had been promised to another spouse. Procopius, nothing discouraged by this answer, continued his importunities, until at last the Saint, wishing to free herself forever from his unwelcome attentions, said to him: “Begone from me, thou food of death! I am already engaged to another and far better Spouse. He is the King of Heaven to Whom I have consecrated my entire being.”

Procopius not knowing what to do, employed the assistance of his father, Symphronius, whose authority, he thought, might induce Agnes to comply. The governor accordingly summoned her to his presence, and told her he could not conceive why she should refuse the hand of his son, as it was impossible for her to obtain a more advantageous match. The Saint replied that she had a Divine Spouse, Who was far preferable to his son. The governor being unable to conceive what she meant by a “Divine Spouse,” one of the gentlemen in waiting said to him: “That young lady is a Christian, and the Divine Spouse to Whom she refers is none other than the God of the Christians.” Hereupon the governor, changing his tone, told her that she should abandon that sect and its maxims altogether, or else not only lose the good fortune which now presented itself, but be exposed to infamy and the most cruel torments. He concluded by giving her four-and-twenty hours to consider whether, under these circumstances, she would obstinately continue to be a Christian. Agnes boldly replied that she required no time for deliberation, as she was already resolved to have no other spouse than Jesus Christ, and that neither torments or death could frighten her, as she was most anxious to lay down her life for Him.

The governor then thought to intimidate her by threatening to have her sent to an infamous place, to be there dishonoured, but the Saint replied: “My confidence is placed in Jesus Christ, my Spouse, Who is Omnipotent — He will defend me from all outrage.” Enraged at this answer, Symphronius ordered her to be handcuffed, and dragged in chains before the idols, that she might offer incense, but on arriving at the place, she made the Sign of the Cross, declaring that her Crucified Spouse alone should be adored. She was then led, by force, to a wicked house. But anyone who approached her with an immodest intent, became so overawed as not to be able to look at the Saint. Only one rash young man, whom some suppose to have been Procopius, attempted to offer her violence; but as Cardinal Orsi here observes, the impure wretch soon experienced the jealousy with which the “Spouse of Virgins” defends them, for a flash of lightning struck him blind, and he fell as if dead upon the ground. While his companions were endeavouring to afford him some relief and were already bewailing him as dead, the Saint was requested to pray for him, and this she did; whereupon he instantly recovered and again received his sight.

The governor, surprised at this miracle, was inclined to dismiss the holy virgin; but the idolatrous priests exclaimed that it was the effect of magic, and excited the people to demand that Agnes should be put to death as a witch. The governor, fearing a sedition if he should discharge her, and, on the other hand, being unwilling to put her to death, left the judgment of the case to his lieutenant, Aspasius, who being forced to it by the populace, condemned her to be burned alive. The funeral pile was according erected, the Saint was placed upon it and the fire kindled; but the flames, respecting her person, divided themselves on either side, and consumed many of the idolaters who were assisting at the execution.

The priests and the people continued to cry out that it was the work of the devil, and compelled the lieutenant to send an executioner to behead her. The horror of such an execution caused even this minister of cruelty to turn pale, and, says St. Ambrose, he trembled to give the stroke. But the Saint animated him, saying: “Haste thee to destroy this my body, which could give pleasure to others to the offending of my Divine Spouse. Fear not to give me that death which to me shall be the commencement of eternal life.” Having raised her eyes to Heaven, and besought Jesus Christ to receive her soul, this tender virgin received the stroke of death, and went to receive from her Saviour the palm of her triumph.

As early as the time of Constantine the Great, a church was erected in honour of St. Agnes, and her festival is celebrated twice a year by the Church — on the twenty-first of January, in honour of her earthly triumph; and on the 28th of the same month, in commemoration of her heavenly reward.*

*The martyrdom of St. Agnes took place, according to Ruinart, about the year 304. Her virginal body was religiously deposited in a place belonging to her parents. The following is contained in the Roman Breviary, January 28: “One night when the parents of the blessed Agnes were watching at her grave, she appeared to them in company with a band of virgins, and said to them: ‘Father and mother, weep not for me as though I were dead; for now these virgins and I live together in Him Whose love was my whole life upon earth.’ Some years afterwards, Constance, the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, being sick of an incurable ulcer, betook herself to the said grave, although she was not yet a Christian, and as she lay by it and slept, she seemed to hear the voice of Agnes saying to her: ‘Constance, be of good courage; believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, and He will make thee whole.’ The princess being healed, was baptized along with many others of the emperor’s family and household, and afterwards built over the grave of the blessed Agnes a church named in her honour.”

Evening Meditation



He that seeks peace in creatures will never find it, because no creatures are fitted to give satisfaction to the heart. God has created man for Himself Who is an Infinite Good; wherefore God alone can content man. Hence it comes that many persons, though loaded with riches, honours and earthly pleasures, are never satisfied; they are ever seeking for more honours, more possessions, and more amusements; and, however many they obtain, they are always restless, and never enjoy a day of true peace. Delight thou in the Lord, and he shall give thee the requests of thy heart (Ps. xxxvi. 4). When a person delights only in God, and seeks nothing but God, God Himself will take care to satisfy all the desires of his heart, and then he will attain the happy state of those souls who desire nothing but to please God.

Senseless are they who say: “Happy he who can employ himself as he likes! Who can command others! Who can take what pleasures he pleases!” It is madness. He alone is happy who loves God; who says that God alone is sufficient for him. Experience shows clearly that multitudes of persons who are called fortunate by men of the world because in possession of great riches and raised to great dignities, live a miserable life and never find rest.

But how is it that so many rich and titled people and princes, in the midst of the abundance of the goods of the world, do not find peace? And, on the other hand, how is it that so many good Religious who live retired in a cell, poor and hidden, pass their days so happily? How is it that so many Solitaries, living in a desert or a cave, suffering hunger and cold, yet rejoice with gladness? It is because they lean only on God, and God comforts them.

The peace of God surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). Oh, how the peace which the Lord gives those who love Him exceeds all the delights which the world can give! O taste and see that the Lord is sweet (Ps. xxxiii. 9). O ye men of the world, cries the Prophet, why will ye despise the way of the Saints without having ever known it? Try it for once; leave the world, abandon it, and give yourself to God, and you will see how well He knows how to comfort you more than all the honours and delights of this world.

O my God, give me strength to separate myself from all the snares that draw me to the world. Grant that I may think of nothing but to please Thee.


It is true that even the Saints meet with great troubles in this life, but they, resigning themselves to the will of God, never lose their peace. The lovers of the world seem now at times joyful, and at times sad, but in truth, they are ever restless and in a state of confusion. On the other hand, the lovers of God are superior to all adversity and to the changes of this world, and therefore they live in uniform tranquillity. The celebrated Cardinal Petrucci describes a soul that is wholly given to God “It beholds all things around change into a thousand various forms, while within, the depths of its own heart ever united with God, continue changeless.”

But he who would live ever united with God, and would enjoy a continual peace, must drive from his heart everything that is not God, and live as if he were dead to earthly affections.

Happy are they for whom God alone is sufficient! O Lord, give me grace that I may seek nothing but Thee, and ask for nothing but to love Thee and give Thee pleasure. For love of Thee I now renounce all earthly pleasures, I renounce all spiritual consolations. I desire nothing but to do Thy will and to give Thee pleasure. O Mother of God, recommend me to thy Son Who denies thee nothing.
"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--Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


Hell will not cease to attack and tempt even the Saints at the hour of their death. But it is also true that God will not cease to assist and multiply helps for His faithful servants. The souls of the just are in the hands of God and the torment of death shall not touch them (Wis. iii. 1).


The souls of the just are in the hands of God. If God holds fast in His hands the souls of the just, who can snatch them from Him? It is true that hell does not cease to tempt and attack even the Saints at the hour of death; but it is also true that God does not cease to assist and to multiply helps for His faithful servants, whenever their danger is increased. "There is greater aid," says St. Ambrose, "where there is greater peril, because God is a Helper in due time." The servant of Eliseus was struck with terror when he saw the city encompassed with enemies; but the Saint inspired him with courage, saying: Fear not, for there are more with us than with them (4 Kings vi. 16). He then showed him an army of Angels sent by God to defend the city. The devil will come to tempt the dying Christian, but his Angel Guardian will come to strengthen him; his holy advocates will come. St. Michael whom God has appointed to defend His faithful servants in their last combat with hell, will come; the Divine Mother will chase away the devils and protect her servant; above all, Jesus Christ will come to guard against every temptation of hell, the innocent or penitent sheep for whose salvation He gave His life. He will give that confidence and strength of which the soul will stand in need in that last struggle with its enemies. Hence, full of courage, it will say: The Lord hath become my helper (Ps. xxix. 11). The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Ps. xxvi. 1). God, says Origen, is more solicitous for our salvation than the devil is eager for our perdition; for the Lord loves our souls far more than the devil hates them.

God is faithful, says the Apostle, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able (1 Cor. x. 13). But you will say: Many Saints have died with great fear of being lost. I answer: We have but few examples of persons who, after leading a holy life, died with fears for their eternal salvation. To purify them at the hour of death from some defect, God sometimes permits holy souls to be disturbed by such fears. But generally the servants of God have died with a joyful countenance. At death the Judgment of God excites fear in all; but if sinners pass from terror to despair, the Saints rise from fear to confidence. St. Antoninus relates that in a severe illness, St. Bernard trembled through fear of Judgment and was tempted to despair. But thinking of the merits of Jesus Christ, he drove away all fear, saying to his Saviour: Thy wounds are my merits! Vulnera tua, merita mea! St. Hilarion also was seized with fear; but he said: "Go forth my soul! What do you fear? For nearly seventy years you have served Christ, and are you now afraid of death?" My soul, what do you fear? Have you not served a God Who is faithful and knows not how to abandon at death the Christian who has been faithful to Him during life?

Ah, my Jesus, when will the day arrive on which I can say: My God, I can never lose Thee! When shall I see Thee face to face, and be sure of loving Thee with all my strength for eternity? Ah, my Sovereign Good, my only Love, as long as I have life I shall be in danger of offending Thee and of losing Thy grace. There was an unhappy time when I did not love Thee, but on the contrary, despised Thy love. I am sorry for it with my whole soul, and hope that Thou hast already pardoned me. I now love Thee with my whole heart, and desire to do all in my power to love and please Thee.


Father Joseph Scamacca, of the Society of Jesus, being asked if in dying he felt confidence in God, said: "Have I served Mahomet, that I should now doubt of the goodness of my God, or of His desire to save me?"

Should the thought of having offended God at some time in the past molest us at death, let us remember that He has protested that He forgets the iniquities of all penitent sinners. If the wicked do penance, -- I will not remember all his iniquities (Ezech. xviii. 21). But you may ask: How can I be sure of having received pardon from God? St. Basil asks the same question: "How can any one be certain that God has forgiven his sins?" "He can be certain of pardon," answers the Saint, "if he can say: I have hated and abhorred iniquity." He who detests sin can rest secure of having obtained pardon from God. The heart of man cannot exist without loving some object; it must love creatures or God. If it loves not creatures, it loves God. And who are they that love God? All who observe His commands. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me (Jo. xiv. 21). He, then, who dies in the observance of the Commandments, dies in the love of God, and he that loves fears not. Charity casteth out fear (1 Jo. iv. 18).

But I am still in danger of refusing Thee my love, O my Jesus, and of again turning my back upon Thee. Ah, Jesus, my Life, my Treasure, do not permit it! Should this misfortune ever happen to me, take me this moment out of life by the most cruel of deaths. I am content to suffer such a death, and I entreat Thee to send me such a death, sooner than permit me ever to cease to love Thee. Eternal Father, for the love of Jesus Christ, do not abandon me to so great an evil. Chastise me as Thou wishest. I deserve and accept any chastisement Thou art pleased to inflict upon me; but preserve me from the punishment of seeing myself deprived of Thy grace and Thy love. My Jesus, recommend me to Thy Father. Mary, my Mother, recommend me to thy Son. Obtain for me perseverance in His friendship, and the grace to love Him, and then may He do with me according to His will.

Spiritual Reading


5.--ST. VINCENT, DEACON (January 22)

St. Vincent, one of the most celebrated Martyrs of Spain, was born of a noble family in the city of Saragossa. While very young he was placed under the tutelage of Valerius, Bishop of that Church, who with great pains instructed him in the doctrines of religion, giving him at the same time a very extensive acquaintance with human sciences. Vincent having made wonderful progress in learning, was ordained deacon by this prelate who, being himself prevented from preaching by an impediment in his speech, entrusted this office to Vincent. The young Levite discharged this important duty with such success that many sinners and even pagans were converted by his discourses.

At that time, namely, in the year 303, Spain was under the rule of Maximian, and Dacian was governor of the province of Tarragona in which Saragossa was situated. Dacian was a most cruel man, and an unrelenting persecutor of the Christians. Hearing of the manner in which Vincent advanced the Christian Faith, he had him arrested, together with his Bishop, Valerius, and brought to Valencia, where he resided. He caused them to suffer much in prison, thinking that by maltreatment he would render them easier to be conquered, but he soon perceived that this means did not correspond to the end he had in view. When brought into his presence, he first endeavoured by kindness to induce them to apostatize. To Valerius he represented that his declining age and infirmity required that repose which he might obtain by obeying the imperial edicts, but if he resisted he would feel the effects of their just anger. Then turning to Vincent he said: "You are young, and should not despise the reward of fortune which you may earn by abandoning your religion. Obey, young man, the commands of the emperors, and do not, by refusal expose yourself to an ignominious death."

Whereupon Vincent, turning to Valerius, who as yet had made no reply to the governor, said: "Father, if thou wilt, I shall answer for thee." The saintly bishop, resolved to suffer for Jesus Christ, replied: "Yes, my son, as I formerly entrusted to thee the preaching of God's holy word, I now charge thee to witness to our Faith." The holy deacon then declared to Dacian that they adored one only God, and could not worship the gods of the empire, who were devils, adding: "Do not think to shake our fortitude with threats of death or promises of reward, because there is nothing in this world which can be compared with the honour and pleasure of dying for Jesus Christ." Dacian irritated by such liberty of speech said to the holy deacon: "Either you must offer incense to the gods or you must pay with your life for the contempt you show." To this Vincent, raising his voice, replied as follows: "I have already told you that the greatest pleasure and the most distinguished honour that you can procure for us is to make us die for Jesus Christ. You may rest assured that you will grow weary of inflicting torments sooner than we of suffering them."

Dacian condemned Valerius to banishment, and resolved to wreak his vengeance upon Vincent.

He first caused him to be stretched upon the rack, by which horrid machine the Saint's arms and legs were so stretched, that the bystanders could hear the noise of the dislocation of the joints, which remained attached only by the stretched and torn sinews. Dacian perceived the placid meekness with which the young Martyr endured his torments, and, as Fleury observes, heard him say, "Behold, what I have ever desired is now being accomplished! Behold the happy consummation of what I have always sighed for!" The tyrant hence concluded that the executioners were remiss in making him feel the torments, and caused them to be beaten with rods.

He then commanded that the sides of the Saint should be torn with iron hooks, until the ribs were visible; and knowing how much the pain would increase by allowing the wounds to cool, and then opening them afresh, he ordered this torture which was inflicted with great cruelty until the bowels appeared, and the blood flowed in torrents. Meanwhile, as Orsi relates, the Martyr insulted the tyrant, saying: "Since thy cruel ministers have exhaused their strength, come, thou chief butcher, and help them. Stretch forth thy wicked hands and slake thy thirst in my blood. Thou art deceived, thinking that torments can overcome my Faith -- within me there is another man strengthened by God, whom thou canst not subdue."

Hereupon, seeing his constancy, Dacian ordered a cessation of his tortures, begging of the Saint, for his own sake, that if he persisted in refusing to sacrifice to the gods, he would at least give up the Sacred Books to be burned. Vincent answered that fire was not created by God to burn holy books, but to torture the wicked in hell. Nor did he hesitate to admonish him, that if he did not abandon the worship of idols, he would be one day condemned to eternal flames. The governor, more incensed than ever, condemned him to the most cruel of torments -- that of being broiled on a species of grid-iron studded with sharp points. The Saint hearing this barbarous command, anticipated his executioners and walked with joy to the frightful engine. Such was his eagerness to suffer. Upon this gridiron the Saint was stretched at full length, bound hand and foot while the fire burned beneath. Red-hot plates of iron were placed on his mangled flesh, and his wounds were rubbed with salt which the activity of the fire forced deeper into his burned and lacerated body. In the midst of these tortures the countenance of the Martyr evinced the inward consolation and joy of his soul, while, with eyes raised to Heaven, he blessed the Lord, and besought Him to receive his sacrifice. All admitted the prodigious fortitude with which God inspired the holy youth, and the pagans themselves declared that it was miraculous.

The effect the sight of such patience produced obliged Dacian to remove him from the public view. Yet not content with the tortures he had already inflicted, he caused him to be thrown into a dungeon, his feet placed very wide apart in wooden stocks, the pain of which was so great that many Martyrs died under it. His body was then stretched upon potsherds which, opening his wounds afresh, caused the most painful anguish. In order to weary his patience, strict orders were given that no one should be admitted to see or offer him the least consolation; but the Saint at midnight perceived his dungeon illuminated by a celestial light, and perfumed by a heavenly odour. The Lord then sent His Angels to console him, to intimate that his tortures were at an end, and to assure him of the reward of his fidelity. The jailers, being awakened by the splendour of the light, approached, and heard the Martyr in concert with the Angels rendering praises to the Lord. They believed and professed the Christian Faith.

Dacian being informed of this, ordered that the Saint should be removed from prison to a soft bed, and that his wounds should be healed, with the intention of renewing his torments when he would be sufficiently recovered to bear them. The faithful being permitted to visit and console him, kissed his wounds and absorbed the blood in their napkins which they preserved as most precious relics. But the time for our Saint's triumph had arrived, and he expired in the embraces of his brethren; while his soul was wafted by the Angels who had assisted him to the regions of everlasting bliss.

The tyrant on hearing of his death commanded that his body should be exposed to be devoured by wild beasts; but a raven was sent by God to defend it with its claws and beak, even against a wolf that had come to devour it. Dacian having exhausted his malice, ordered that the body should be put in a sack weighted with stones and cast into the sea. But there is no power against the Lord. The body floated like a feather on the water and was carried by the waves as far as Valencia. The mariners tried to get possession of it, but before they could reach it, it was carried by the waves to the seashore and covered with sand.

The Saint afterwards appeared to a pious lady named Ionica, and indicated the place where his body lay. She went there accompanied by other Christians, and finding the relics deposited them in a little chapel. After the persecution had ceased, they were translated to a magnificent church outside the walls of Valencia, where they have always been regarded with devout veneration. St. Augustine attests that at his time the feast of St. Vincent was celebrated with a special joy in all the countries whither the Christian religion had penetrated.

Evening Meditation



In all our actions we should have no other end in view than the good pleasure of God, -- not the pleasure of relatives, friends, great people, or ourselves, because whatever is not done for God is lost. Many things are done for the sake of pleasure, or in order not to displease men; but, says St. Paul: If I yet please men, I should not be the servant of God (Gal. i. 10). God alone must be regarded in everything we do, so that we may say, as Jesus Christ said, I do always the things that please him (Jo. viii. 29). It is God Who has given us everything we have; we have nothing of our own except nothingness and sin. It is God alone Who has truly loved us. He has loved us from eternity, and He has loved us so far as to give Himself for us upon the Cross and in the Sacrament of the Altar. God alone, therefore, deserves all our love.

Unhappy is the soul that looks with affection upon any object on earth which displeases God. It will never know peace in this life, and it is in imminent peril of never enjoying peace in the next. But happy is he, O my God, who seeks Thee alone, and renounces everything for Thy love. He will find the pearl of Thy pure love, a jewel more precious than all the treasures and kingdoms of the earth. He that does this obtains the true liberty of the sons of God, for he finds himself freed from all the bonds that would bind him to earth and hinder him from uniting himself to God.

My God and my All, I prefer Thee to all the riches of the world, to honours, to knowledge, to glory, and to all gifts that Thou couldst give me. Thou art all my Good. Thee alone I desire and nothing more, for Thou alone art infinitely beautiful, infinitely kind, infinitely worthy of love, in a word, Thou art the only Good. Wherefore every gift that is not Thyself is not enough for me. I repeat, and I will ever repeat it, I desire Thee alone and nothing more; and whatever is less than Thee, I say it again, is not sufficient for me.


Let men undeceive themselves, -- all good things that come from creatures are but dust, smoke, deceit. God alone can satisfy them. But in this life He does not grant us to enjoy Him fully; He only gives us certain foretastes of the good things which He promises us in Heaven. There He waits to satisfy us with His own joy, when He will say to us: Enter into the joy of thy Lord (Matt. xxv. 21). The Lord gives spiritual consolations to His servants, only to make them yearn for that happiness which He prepares for them in Paradise.

Oh, when will it be given me to occupy myself solely in praising Thee, O God, and loving Thee, and pleasing Thee, so that I shall no more think of the creature, nor even of myself? O my Lord and my Love, help me when Thou seest me growing cold in Thy love, and in danger of giving my affection to creatures and to earthly goods; Stretch forth thy hand from on high, take me out, and deliver me from many waters (Ps. cxliii. 7). Deliver me from the danger of wandering far from Thee.

Let others seek what they will; I desire nothing but Thee, my God, my Love and my Hope: What have I in heaven, and besides thee what do I desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. lxxii. 25).

O Almighty God, O God worthy of love, grant that in all things we may henceforth love and seek nothing but Thy pleasure. Grant that Thou mayest be our only Love, since Thou alone doth out of justice and gratitude, deserve all our affections. No greater pain afflicts me than the thought that in times past I have so little loved Thy infinite goodness. But I desire and resolve with Thy help, to love Thee with all my strength for the time to come, and thus I hope to die, loving Thee alone, my sovereign Good. O Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a miserable being. Thy prayers are never refused. Pray to Jesus that He may make me all His own.
"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--Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


In the sight of the unwise the servants of God appear to die, as worldlings do, with sorrow and reluctance. But God knows how to console His children even in the midst of the pains of death. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure was taken for misery, and their going away from us for utter destruction; but they are in peace (Wis. iii. 1).


The souls of the just are in the hands of God.... In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure was taken for misery. In the sight of the unwise the servants of God appear to die, as worldlings do, with sorrow and reluctance. But God knows well how to console His children in their last moments; and, even in the midst of the pains of death, He infuses into their souls certain sweetnesses, as a foretaste of Paradise, which He will soon bestow upon them. As they who die in sin begin to experience on the bed of death a certain foretaste of hell, remorse and terrors and fits of despair, so, on the other hand, the Saints, by the frequent acts of Divine love which they then make, by their ardent desire and firm hope of soon possessing God, begin to feel that peace they will afterwards fully enjoy in Heaven. To the Saints death is not a punishment, but a reward.

When he shall give sleep to his beloved, behold the inheritance of the Lord (Ps. cxxvi. 2). The death of the Christian that loves God is called, not death, but sleep. Thus he shall be able to say: In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I will rest (Ps. iv. 9).

Father Suarez died with so much peace, that in his last moments he exclaimed: "I could never imagine that death would be so sweet." When Cardinal Baronius was advised by his physician not to fix his thoughts so much on death, he said: "Perhaps you think I am afraid of death. I fear it not, but on the contrary, I love it." In going to death for the Faith, the Cardinal of Rochester put on his best clothes, saying that he was going to a nuptial feast. Hence, at the sight of the scaffold he threw away his staff and said: Ite, pedes; parum a Paradiso distamus! Hasten, O my feet! We are not far from Paradise! Before death he intoned the "Te Deum," to thank God for giving him the grace to die a Martyr for the holy Faith; and, full of joy, he laid his head on the block.

Ah, my supreme Good, my God, if in the past I have not loved Thee, I now turn to Thee with my whole soul. I take leave of all creatures, and choose Thee, my most amiable Lord, for the sole object of my love. Tell me what Thou wishest of me: I will do all Thou desirest. I have offended Thee enough: I wish to spend all the remaining moments of life in pleasing Thee.


St. Francis of Assisi began to sing at the hour of death and invited his brethren to join with him. Brother Elias said to him: "Father, at death we ought to weep rather than sing." "But," replied the Saint ,"I cannot refrain from singing, for I see that I shall soon go to enjoy my God." A young nun of the order of St. Teresa, in her last illness said to her sisters in Religion who stood round her bed bathed in tears: "O God, why do you weep? I go to enjoy my Jesus. If you love me, rejoice with me!"

Father Granada relates that a certain huntsman found a solitary infected with leprosy, singing in his last agony. "How," said he, "can you sing in such a state?" "Brother," replied the hermit, between me and God there is nothing but the wall of this body. I now see that my flesh is falling off -- that the prison walls will soon be destroyed, and that I shall go to see my God. It is for this reason that I rejoice and sing." The desire of seeing God made St. Ignatius the Martyr say that if the wild beasts should not take away his life he would provoke them to devour him. St. Catherine of Genoa could not bear to hear death called a misfortune. Hence she would say: "Oh, beloved Death, in what mistaken light are you viewed! Why do you not come to me? I call on you night and day!" St. Teresa desired death so vehemently that she regarded as death the continuation of life. Hence she composed the celebrated hymn, --I die because I do not die. Such is death to the Saints.

Give me grace, O my God, to compensate by my love for my past ingratitude which has continued to this moment. I deserve to burn in the fire of hell for so many years; Thou hast sought after me, and hast drawn me to Thyself. Make me now burn with the fire of Thy holy love. I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness! Thou justly claimest all the affections of my heart; for Thou hast loved me more than all others have loved me. Thou alone deservest my love; Thee only do I wish to love. I desire to do everything in my power to please Thee. Do with me whatsoever Thou wishest. For me it is enough to love Thee and to be loved by Thee. Mary, my Mother, assist me. Pray to Jesus for me.

Spiritual Reading



St. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle St. John, and was born about the seventieth year of the Christian Era. He was a Christian from his infancy, and on account of his extraordinary piety was greatly beloved by the Apostles, his teachers. St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, writes that he had had the good fortune, when young, to know our Saint who was then far advanced in years, and remarks how strongly impressed on his mind were the instructions he had received from him, and with what delight he remembered having heard him recount his conversations with St. John and others who had seen the Redeemer.

St. Polycarp was consecrated Bishop of Smyrna by St. John himself before this Apostle's banishment to the Island of Patmos. It is looked upon as certain that our Saint was the Angel (or Bishop) of Smyrna, commended by Our Lord in the Apocalypse: And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write... I know thy tribulation and thy poverty; but thou art rich.... Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life (Apoc. ii. 9, 10).

Our Saint governed the church of Smyrna seventy years, with so much prudence and authority that he was regarded as the principal of the Asiatic bishops, on account of the great veneration in which he was held. When eighty years of age, he went to Rome to consult with Pope Anicetus on some points of discipline, particularly regarding the time at which Easter should be celebrated. St. Polycarp's delay in Rome was very useful to the faithful, as it afforded him an opportunity of confuting the heresies of that period. He there met the heresiarch, Marcion, who inquired of the holy bishop whether he knew him. "Yes," answered the Saint, "I know thee to be the first-born of the devil."

On his return to Asia, he suffered much in the persecution which the Emperor Marcus Aurelius raised against the Church, and which was particularly felt at Smyrna, where the proconsul, Status Quadratus, was exercising the most barbarous cruelty against the faithful. Amongst other acts of persecution, he caused twelve Christians who were brought from Philadelphia, to be devoured by wild beasts. Excited by this bloodshed, the pagans were loud in their demands for the slaughter of the Christians, particularly Polycarp who failed not on his part to encourage his flock to the most heroic proofs of constancy, in suffering torments and death for Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding the continual clamour raised against him, the Saint wished to remain in the city for the discharge of his pastoral duties, but was obliged, by the importunity of the faithful, to retire to a house without the city, where, during his stay, he occupied the entire night and day in holy prayer.

After a short time, however, he was discovered. Three days previous to his arrest, he saw in a vision his pillow in flames, from which he knew that the Martyrdom reserved for him was that of fire, and, turning to his companions, told them that he would be burned alive. The Christians, aware that the soldiers were in pursuit of him, removed him to another house; but a young servant, overawed by the fear of torture, revealed the place of his concealment. The Saint was informed of this, but refused to retreat any farther, saying, with holy resignation: "The will of God be done!" Full of heroic zeal, he offered himself to God as a victim destined for His honour, besought Him to accept the sacrifice of his life, and joyfully delivered himself up to his pursuers. He received them into his house, ordered them a handsome supper, and desired only some time for prayer, which being granted, he was for two hours absorbed in meditation.

The captain and soldiers were filled with confusion at the sight of the venerable bishop, and, unwillingly executing their commission, departed with him at break of day. As the journey to Smyrna was long, they set him on an ass, and were conducting him to the city when they met on the road two superior officers, called Herod and Nicetas, who took him into their chariot, and endeavoured to persuade him to obey the imperial edict, saying, among other things: "What wrong is there in sacrificing to the gods in order to save your life?" The Saint answered with fortitude that he would rather suffer every torture, even death itself, than consent to what they advised. Upon this resolute answer they turned away in anger, regarding him as a man lost through his obstinacy, and pushed him from the chariot with such violence that his leg was bruised, or, according to Fleury, broken by the fall.

The Saint, nevertheless, with undisturbed tranquillity of mind, proceeded to the amphitheatre where he was about to sacrifice his life. Upon entering it he heard a voice from Heaven saying: "Be courageous, Polycarp, and act manfully." He was presented to the proconsul who endeavoured to shake his resolution, saying: "Polycarp, thou art old, and should free thyself from torments which thou hast not strength to bear. Swear, therefore, by the fortune of Caesar, and exclaim with the people: 'Be the impious exterminated!' " The Saint immediately replied: "Yes, be the impious exterminated. But by the impious I mean the idolaters!" The proconsul, thinking that he had gained him over, said: "Now blaspheme Jesus Christ, and I will discharge thee." The Saint rejoined: "I have served Jesus Christ these four score and six years; He never did me harm, but much good; how, then, can I blaspheme Him? How can I blaspheme my Creator and my Saviour, Who is also my Judge, and Who justly punishes those who deny Him?" The tyrant still continuing to tempt him to deny Jesus Christ, Polycarp replied that he was a Christian and considered it a glory to die for Christ.

The proconsul threatened him with wild beasts. "Call for them quickly," replied the Saint; "I cannot turn from good to evil. The beasts will help me to pass from mortal suffering to the glory of Heaven." "Then," said the tyrant, "thou shalt be burned alive." The Saint answered: "Thy fire only lasts a moment; there is another fire which is eternal, and of that I am afraid. Why dost thou delay to execute thy threats?" This he said with so much intrepidity, that the tyrant himself was struck with admiration. He ordered, however, a crier to make public proclamation that Polycarp had avowed himself a Christian; whereupon the entire multitude of pagans cried out: "Let this destroyer of our gods die!" The public shows having terminated, it was resolved that he should be burned alive, instead of being devoured by wild beasts.

The pile was prepared by the pagans, and also by the Jews, who were particularly active in offering themselves as executioners. Polycarp put off his garments, and seeing they were about to fasten him to the stake, said: "Leave aside these nails, He Who gives me fortitude to undergo this fire, will enable me to stand still without them. They therefore contented themselves with tying his hands behind his back, and placed him upon the pile, whence raising his eyes to Heaven, the Saint prayed after the following manner: "I bless Thee, O God, for having vouchsafed to make me a partaker in the Passion of Jesus Christ Thy Son, by rendering me worthy to offer myself as a sacrifice to Thy honour, that I may be enabled to praise Thee in Heaven, and to bless Thee for all eternity." The pile was set on fire, yet the flames did not touch the body of the Saint, but formed, as it were, an arch around him, while his flesh exhaled a most fragrant odour. The pagans, exasperated to see that the fire had no effect, transfixed him with a spear, and such a quantity of blood issued from the wound as to extinguish the flames.

Thus did St. Polycarp terminate his triumph, about the year 160.

Evening Meditation



This has been the one chief and dearest endeavour of all the Saints, -- to desire with their whole heart to endure all toil, contempt and pain, in order to please God, and thus to please that Divine Heart which so much deserves to be loved, and loves us so much.

In this consists all perfection, and all the love of a soul for God, to seek always the pleasure of God, and to do that which is most pleasing to Him. Oh, blessed is he who can say with Jesus Christ: I do always the things that please him (Jo. viii. 29). And what greater honour, what greater comfort can a soul have than to go through some fatigue, or to accept some labour, believing it to be acceptable to God?

It is more than a duty that we should give pleasure to that God Who has so much loved us, and has given us all that we possess. And not content with giving us so many blessings, He has gone so far as to give Himself for us on the Cross, dying upon it for love of us; and moreover, He instituted the Sacrament of the Altar, where He gives Himself wholly to us in Communion, so that He has no more that He can give.

On this account the Saints knew not what more they could do, in order to give pleasure to God. How many young nobles have left the world in order to give themselves wholly to God! How many young maidens, even of royal blood, have renounced marriage with the great in order to shut themselves up in a cloister! How many anchorites have gone to hide themselves in deserts and caves in order to meditate upon God alone! How many Martyrs have embraced scourges and fiery plates, and the most cruel torments of tyrants, in order to please God! In a word, in order to give pleasure to God, the Saints have stripped themselves of their possessions, have renounced the greatest earthly dignities, and have accepted as treasures infirmities, persecutions, the loss of property, and a death the most painful and desolate.


The good pleasure of God, therefore, if we truly love it, must be preferred by us to the acquisition of all riches, the loftiest glory, and all the delights of earth and even Paradise itself; for it is certain that all the Blessed, if they were to know that it would please God more that they should burn in hell, -- one and all, even the Mother of God among them, would cast themselves into that abyss of flames, and suffer eternally in order to give greater pleasure to God.

For this end the Lord has placed us in the world, in order that we may devote ourselves to pleasing Him, and giving Him glory. Wherefore the will of God ought to be the one object of all our desires, of all our thoughts and actions. Well does that Heart deserve to be pleased in all things Which has so greatly loved us, and is so anxious for our good.

But how is it, O Lord, that instead of seeking to give Thee pleasure, I have ungratefully displeased Thee so often! Yet the abhorrence which Thou causest me to feel for the sins I have committed against Thee teaches me that Thou dost desire to pardon me. Pardon me, then, and suffer me not to be ungrateful to Thee any longer. Grant that I may conquer everything to give Thee pleasure. In thee, O Lord, have I hoped; I shall not be confounded forever (Ps. xxx. 2). O Queen of Heaven and my Mother, draw me wholly to God.
"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
Friday--Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


We must all be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. v. 10).

Oh, how great will be the terror of the soul the first time it sees the Redeemer, and beholds His countenance full of wrath! Who shall stand before the face of his indignation? St. Bernard says that the sinful soul will suffer more at seeing the indignation of Jesus Christ than in hell itself.


We must all be manifested before the Judgment seat of Christ.

It is the common opinion of Theologians, that the Particular Judgment takes place at the very moment of death; and that on the very spot where the soul is separated from the body, it is judged by Jesus Christ Who will not send another, but will come Himself to judge it according to its works. At what hour you think not the Son of man will come (Luke xii. 40). "He will," says St. Augustine, "come in love to the good, in terror to the wicked." Oh! how great will be the terror of the soul the first time it sees the Redeemer and His countenance full of wrath! Who, says the Prophet Nahum, shall stand before the face of his indignation? (i. 6). This thought made Father Louis de Ponte tremble so as to shake the walls of the cell in which he lay. Hearing the Dies Irae sung, and reflecting on the terror of the soul when it is presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, the Venerable Juvenal Ancina took the resolution of forsaking the world. And this resolution he carried out. The sight of the wrath of the Judge will announce the sentence. The wrath of the king is as messengers of death (Prov. xvi. 14). St. Bernard says that the soul will suffer more in seeing the indignation of Jesus Christ than in hell itself. When taken before an earthly judge, criminals have been known to perspire with a cold perspiration. Such was the confusion which Piso felt at the thought of having to appear as a criminal before the Senate, that he killed himself. How great is the pain of a child, or of a vassal, in appearing before an angry parent or an enraged sovereign! Oh, how much greater will be the pain and confusion of the soul when it beholds Jesus Christ enraged against it for the insults it offered to Him during life! They shall look upon him whom they have pierced (Jo. xix. 37). The soul will see in wrath the Lamb that bore with it so patiently during life, and that there is no hope of appeasing His anger. This will make the soul call upon the mountains to fall upon it to hide it from the fury of the wrath of the Lamb (Apoc. vi. 16). Speaking of Judgment, St. Luke says: Then they shall see the Son of man (Luke xxi. 27). Oh! what pain will the sight of the Judge in the form of man excite in the soul of the sinner! The sight of a Man-God Who died for his salvation will upbraid him with his ingratitude.

O my Jesus, I will always call Thee Jesus! Thy Name consoles and encourages me, because it reminds me that Thou art my Saviour Who didst die for my salvation. Behold me at Thy feet. I acknowledge that I have deserved hell as often as I have offended Thee by mortal sin. I am unworthy of pardon, but Thou hast died to merit pardon for me. Pardon me, then, immediately, O my Jesus, before Thou comest to judge me. I shall not then be able to ask pardon: I can now ask it from Thee, and I hope for it.


When the Saviour ascended into Heaven, the Angels said to the disciples: This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven (Acts i. 11).

With the same Wounds with which He ascended into Heaven, Jesus Christ will come to judge the soul. The Wounds of the Redeemer will console the just and terrify the wicked. When Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph, whom you sold, the Scripture tells us that, through fear, they were silent and unable to utter a word. His brethren could not answer him, being struck with exceeding great fear (Gen. xlv. 3). Now, what answer will the sinner make to Jesus Christ? Will he dare to ask mercy when he must first render an account of his abuse of the mercy he has received? "With what face," says Eusebius Emissenus, "will you, who are to be first judged for contempt of mercy, ask for mercy?" What, then, will become of the sinner? Where, says St. Augustine, will he fly? He will behold an angry Judge above; hell open below; on one side his own sins accusing him; on the other, the devils ready to inflict chastisement; and within, remorse of conscience. "Above shall be an enraged Judge; below, a frightful chaos; on the right, sins accusing him; on the left, the devils dragging him to punishment; within, a burning conscience. Beset in this manner, whither will the sinner fly!"

Thy Wounds, my Jesus, will then fill me with terror, but now they give me confidence. My dear Redeemer, I am sorry above all things for having offended Thy infinite goodness. I purpose to submit to every pain, every loss, rather than forfeit Thy grace. I love Thee with my whole heart. Have pity on me. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. O Mary, Mother of Mercy, obtain for me a great sorrow for my sins, pardon, and perseverance in Divine love. I love thee, O my Queen, and trust in thee.

Spiritual Reading


The Acts of these Martyrs, as found in Ruinart, relate that in the year 259, under the Emperors Valerian and Gallien, Bishop Fructuosus of Tarragona, in Spain, with his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, were apprehended by order of Emilian, the governor of the province.

The holy prelate had retired to his room when the soldiers came to arrest him. On hearing the noise he opened the door; and being informed that the governor had summoned him and his two deacons, he said: "We are ready; but if you will permit me, I will put on my shoes." This done, the three Confessors were led to prison.

After six days' imprisonment they were brought before the governor who, turning to Fructuosus, said: "Hast thou heard that which the Emperors have commanded?" The Saint replied: "I know it not; but this I know, that I am a Christian." Emilian: "They have commanded that the gods be honoured." Fructuosus: "For My part, I adore only One God, Who hath made Heaven and earth." Emilian: "Art thou not aware of the existence of the gods?" Fructuosus: "I am not." Emilian: "Shortly thou shalt be. To what will men render homage, if they adore not the gods and the images of the emperors?" Then turning to Augurius, the deacon, he said: "Give no ear to the words of Fructuosus." Augurius replied: "I adore One Omnipotent God." The governor then turned to Eulogius and said: "Perhaps thou also adorest Fructuosus?" The deacon replied: "No; I adore him not; but I adore the same God Whom he worships." The governor, then turning to Fructuosus, asked him: "Art thou the bishop?" The Saint replied: "Yes, I am." Emilian said: "Thou shouldst have rather said: 'I have been,' for thou shalt be so no longer. I condemn you all three to the flames."

Whilst St. Fructuosus and his deacons were being led to the amphitheatre to undergo their sentence, the people, moved to compassion for the venerable bishop who was beloved not only by the faithful, but even by the idolaters, presented him a cup, requesting him to drink and be strengthened; but he refused, saying, that it was not yet the hour for breaking the fast.* When they arrived at the amphitheatre, the Saint appeared filled with a tranquil joy. His Lector, Augustalis, came to him weeping, and begged he would permit him to take off his shoes. "No, my son," replied the holy bishop, "allow me to take them off myself; for the certainty which I have of the Divine promises gives me sufficient strength." Having taken off his shoes, one of the faithful took him by the hand and desired he would remember him in his prayers. The Saint replied: "I am bound to pray for the whole Catholic Church from East to West." By these words, as St. Augustine observes, he wished to signify that each one of the faithful becomes a participator in all the prayers of the Church.

*This fast, called The Fast of the Stations, was kept on Wednesdays and Fridays. It was not broken till about three o'clock in the afternoon, and it was then ten o'clock in the morning. -- ED.

When he was about to receive the crown of Martyrdom he raised his voice, as the Acts relate, and said to the Christians: "Be not afraid; you shall not be left without a pastor, for the love and the promises of the Lord never fail. That which you see me now about to suffer is the pain only of an hour." Having said these words, he was, together with his companions, encircled with fire; but the Lord so disposed it, that the flames consumed only the bands with which their hands were tied; wherefore, being at liberty to stretch forth their arms, they prostrated themselves in prayer, and raising their hands to Heaven besought the Almighty to allow the fire to consume them, that their sacrifice might be completed. The Lord vouchsafed to hear their prayers, and placidly expiring, they went to receive the reward of their Martyrdom.

After their death, God was pleased to glorify His servants by manifesting their triumph to two Christians, Babylas and Mygdone, domestics of the governor. These saw the heavens open, and St. Fructuosus between his two deacons, surrounded with a halo of glory and ascending to receive their crowns. They called Emilianus to witness the ascent into Heaven of those whom he had that day condemned; but he was unworthy of the heavenly vision.

The faithful, who were exceedingly afflicted at the death of their pastor, came in the night to the amphitheatre, extinguished the smouldering remains of the fire, and were carrying away the bones of the Martyrs; the holy bishop appeared to them, and commanded that all the relics should be buried together.

The Acts of these Martyrs terminate with the following devout aspiration: "O Blessed Martyrs, like gold, they have been tried in the furnace, and found worthy a crown of everlasting glory! To this crown their example invites us also!" St. Augustine, in a sermon delivered on the Anniversary of these Martyrs, observes that from the fact that they have attained to such glory, although being men of the same condition that we are, we should hope to overcome all the obstacles to our salvation, through the grace of Jesus Christ Who can render that easy which our weakness looks upon as insuperable.

Evening Meditation



The Incarnate Word, at the moment of His conception, saw before Him all the souls He was to redeem. Then thou also, my soul, wast presented with the guilt of all thy sins upon thee, and for thee did Jesus Christ accept all the pains that He suffered in life and death; and in doing so He obtained for thee thy pardon and all the graces thou hast received from God -- the lights, the calls of His love, the helps to overcome temptations, the spiritual consolations, the tears, the compassionate feelings thou hast experienced when thinking of the love He had for thee, and the sentiments of sorrow in remembering how thou hast offended Him.

Thou didst, then, my Jesus, from the very beginning of Thy life, take upon Thee all my sins, and didst offer Thyself to satisfy for them by Thy sufferings. By Thy death Thou didst deliver me from eternal death: But thou hast delivered my soul, that it should not perish; thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back (Is. xxxviii. 17). Thou, my Love, instead of punishing me for the insults which I have added to those that Thou hadst already received, hast gone on adding to Thy favours and mercies towards me, in order to win my heart one day to Thyself. My Jesus, this day has come; I now love Thee with all my soul. Who should love Thee if I do not? This is the first sin, my Jesus, that Thou hast to forgive me, that I have been so many years in the world without loving Thee. But for the future I will do all I can to please Thee. By Thy grace I feel a great desire to live for Thee alone, and to detach myself from all created things. I have also a great sorrow for the displeasure I have caused Thee. This desire and this sorrow, O my Jesus, are all Thy gift. Continue, then, my Love, to keep me faithful in Thy love, for Thou knowest my weakness. Make me all Thine as Thou hast made Thyself all mine. I love Thee, my only Good; I love Thee, my only Love; I love Thee, my Treasure, my All; my Jesus, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee. Help me, O Mother of God.


Behold, my Redeemer, to what Thy love for men has brought Thee -- even to dying of sorrow on a Cross, drowned in a sea of grief and ignominy, as David had predicted of Thee. I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me (Ps. lxviii. 3). St. Francis de Sales writes thus: "Let us contemplate this Divine Saviour stretched on the Cross as upon the Altar of His Glory, on which He is dying of love for us. Ah, why, then, do we not in spirit throw ourselves upon Him to die upon the Cross with Him Who has chosen to die there for the love of us? I will hold Him, we ought to say, -- I will never let Him go. I will die with Him and will burn in the flames of His love. One and the same fire shall devour this Divine Creator and his miserable creature. My Jesus is all mine, and I am all His. I will live and die on His bosom. Neither life nor death shall ever separate me from my Jesus."

Yes, my dear Redeemer, I hold fast to Thy Cross. Touched with compassion I kiss Thy pierced feet. I am confounded, O Lord Jesus, at seeing the affection with which Thou hast died for me. Ah, accept me, and bind me to Thy feet that I may no more depart from Thee, and may from this day forward converse with Thee alone, and to Thee confide all my thoughts. In a word, may I henceforth so direct all my affections as to seek nothing but to love Thee and please Thee, always longing to leave this valley of dangers to go love Thee face to face with all my strength in Thy kingdom which is a kingdom of eternal love. In the meantime let me always live in sorrow for the offences I have committed against Thee, and always burning with love for Thee Who for love of me hast given Thy life. I love Thee, my Jesus, Who hast died for me. I love Thee, O infinite Lover. I love Thee, O infinite Love. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness. O Mary, Mother of beautiful love, pray to my Jesus for me.
"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
Saturday--Fourth Week after Epiphany

Morning Meditation


There is no sinner, however abandoned by God, for whom Mary will not obtain grace and mercy if he only invokes her aid. As the magnet attracts iron so she draws to herself and to God the hardest hearts. Oh, if sinners had only recourse to Mary with a determination to amend their lives who should ever be lost!


Denis the Carthusian says that Mary is, in a special manner, the advocate of sinners, because the guilty stand in greater need of succour than the innocent; hence he calls her the advocate of all sinners who invoke her intercession. And before him, St. John Damascene called Mary "the city of refuge for all who fly to her." Hence St. Bonaventure says: "Poor abandoned sinners, do not despair, raise your eyes to Mary," and be comforted, trusting in the clemency of this good Mother, for she will rescue you from the shipwreck you have suffered and will conduct you to the haven of salvation. Let us, then, say with St. Thomas of Villanova: "O holy Virgin, since thou art the advocate of the miserable, assist us who are the most miserable of all." "Let us," says St. Bernard, "ask grace, and ask it through Mary." The grace that we have lost she has found, says Richard of St. Laurence; we, then, should go to her in order to recover it. When the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that God had chosen her to be the Mother of the Word, he said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God (Luke i. 30). But how can that be? Mary was never deprived of grace; on the contrary, she was always full of grace. How, then, could the Angel say that she had found grace? Cardinal Hugo answers, that she did not find grace for herself, because she always possessed it, but she found it for us who had miserably lost it. Hence he says that in order to recover it, we should go to Mary and say to her: O Lady, property should be restored to him who has lost it; the grace which thou hast found is not thine, for thou didst always possess it; it is ours, we have lost it; to us, then, thou shouldst restore it. "Sinners, who by sin have forfeited the Divine grace, run, run to the Virgin, and say to her with confidence: Restore to us our property which you have found."

Oh, if all sinners had recourse to Mary with a determination to amend their lives, who should ever be lost? They that have not recourse to Mary are lost. St. Bridget heard our Saviour say to His Mother: "You would show mercy even to the devil were he to ask it with humility." The proud Lucifer will never humble himself so far as to recommend himself to Mary; but were he to humble himself to this Divine Mother and ask her aid, she would not cast him off, but would deliver him from hell by her intercession. By this Jesus gives us to understand that Mary obtains salvation for all that have recourse to her.


St. Basil calls Mary "a public hospital." Public hospitals are established for the poor that are afflicted with sickness, and the greater the poverty of the invalid, the stronger his claim to admission. Hence, according to St. Basil, Mary would receive with the greatest promptness the most abandoned sinners that have recourse to her. Ah! says St. Bernard, this great Queen feels no horror for any sinner, however great the stench of his sins. If the miserable man flies to her protection, she disdains not to stretch forth her hand and to rescue him from the state of perdition. Our Lord revealed to St. Catherine of Sienna, that He had chosen Mary to draw men, and particularly sinners, to His love. Mary herself said to St. Bridget, that there is no sinner, however abandoned by God, for whom, if he invoke her aid, she will not obtain the grace to return to God, and find mercy. She also said that as the magnet attracts iron, so she draws to herself and to God the hardest hearts.

The holy Church wishes that we call this Divine Mother our Hope. Hail, our Hope! The impious Luther said that he could not bear to hear the Church teaching us to call Mary our Hope. God only, he said, is our Hope; and God Himself curses them that place their hopes in any creature. Yes, God curses those that trust in creatures independently of Him, but we hope in Mary as a mediatress with God. For, says St. Bernard, God has placed in the hands of Mary all the treasures of goods that He wishes to dispense to men. Hence the Lord wishes us to acknowledge that all good comes from Mary; for He has ordained that all the graces that He will give us should pass through her hands. St. Bernard called her his greatest confidence, and the entire ground of his hope. St. Bonaventure called Mary the salvation of them who invoke her. Hence according to St. Bonaventure, to be saved it is enough to invoke Mary. Whenever, then, the devil terrifies us with the fear of being lost, let us say to Mary with the same Saint: "In thee, O Lady, have I hoped; let me not be confounded forever!" In thee, after Jesus, I have placed all my hopes; thou hast to watch over my salvation, and to deliver me from hell. But, says St. Anselm, hell is not the lot of any true client of Mary for whom she prays even once, and says to her Son that she desires his salvation.

Spiritual Reading



Although this great Saint did not actually die for the Faith at the hands of the executioner, yet he may be styled a Martyr, as he died of the maltreatment which he received defending God's honour and the rights of the Church.

St. John was born at Antioch about the year 347, and was descended from one of the most illustrious families of that city. His mother, being left a widow at the early age of twenty years, took particular care of the education of her two children, placing John under the most eminent masters, to study rhetoric and philosophy.* It was expected that the pious youth would attain to great worldly fortune; but from his twentieth year he applied himself to the study of the Sacred Scriptures and to prayer, and dedicated himself entirely to the service of his crucified Lord. Whereupon St. Meletius, his bishop, took a great liking to him, and having instructed him for three years, made him Lector of his own church.

*His mother, Anthusa, did not wish to marry again in order to devote herself entirely to the welfare of her children. She herself took care to instil into them the great principles of our holy Religion. "Never," says Alban Butler, "was a woman more worthy of bearing the name of mother." The pagans themselves could not help admiring her virtues; and a celebrated philosopher cried out while speaking of her: "What wonderful women are to be found amongst the Christians!

Although during his stay in Antioch he led a very retired and mortified life, he bethought himself of the advantages of a still more solitary and austere state; and consequently retired to a cave where he passed some years in continual prayer and penitential practices, which were so severe as to injure his health. He was therefore obliged to return to Antioch, where he was ordained deacon by St. Meletius, whose successor, Flavinius, conferred upon him the Holy Order of Priesthood five years afterwards. In consequence of his great eloquence, the Bishop appointed him preacher of that church. This office he discharged so well, that public demonstrations of approbation were frequently made, against which the Saint protested, saying: "What good can these your applauses do me? That only which I desire is that you practise what I preach, -- this will be to me the most acceptable applause."

Nectarius, Patriarch of Constantinople, died in the year 397; and as the name of our Saint had obtained great celebrity throughout the entire Province, the Emperor Arcadius, the clergy and people, agreed in having him promoted to that see. The emperor accordingly summoned him to Constantinople, and without making known to him his design, took him into his carriage, and brought him to a church outside the city, where, notwithstanding his reluctance, he was consecrated by the bishops previously assembled.

The see of Constantinople had unfortunately been governed for sixteen years by Nectarius, a man without learning or zeal; so that this great city, containing as it did so many strangers and heretics, required a thorough reform. To this St. John Chrysostom gave his entire attention. With an untiring and holy zeal he laboured for the reformation of his clergy, and endeavoured to suppress the avarice and haughtiness of the emperor's court; this made for him many enemies.

It happened that there arrived at Constantinople some monks, who had been expelled from Egypt by Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, under the pretext of Origenism; but St. John, being convinced of their innocence, wrote to Theophilus in their favour, beseeching him not to disturb them. He, however, being a haughty and vindictive man, succeeded in raising a persecution against the Saint for protecting the monks. The emperor, however, summoned Theophilus to Constantinople, to account for his conduct; but he easily gained over to his side the nobles, bishops, and clergy, who were opposed to St. Chrysostom. But the greatest acquisition to his party was the Empress Eudoxia who bore a mortal enmity to our Saint, on account of having been rebuked by him for her avaricious rapacity in depriving Callitropa of her money and another widow of her land. Backed by this party, Theophilus was enabled to get together a cabal of thirty-six bishops, who from the place where they met styled themselves the Synod of the Oak, and having drawn up some false accusations, deposed St. John from his bishopric, and obtained from the emperor a decree for his banishment.

The people, hearing of the decree, surrounded the church to defend their bishop; but St. John, to avoid a sedition, escaped through a private door, and surrendered himself to the guards, who brought him to Bithynia. On the night of the following day Constantinople was shaken with an earthquake, which was regarded by all, even by Eudoxia, as a sign of God's displeasure. In the greatest consternation she besought the emperor to recall the holy bishop. The entire population went out to meet him, chanting hymns, and bearing lighted torches in their hands, and having arrived at the Cathedral put him upon the episcopal throne.

Theophilus and his party having fled from Constantinople, the Saint resumed the discharge of his pastoral duties, and was treating with the emperor about the convocation of a council to vindicate his innocence, when a certain incident totally changed the aspect of affairs. In the square before the great church of St. Sophia a silver statue had been erected to the empress, where dances and public games were performed, which disturbed the sacred offices of the church. The Saint strongly rebuked the people for this irreverence; but his zeal only infuriated the Empress Eudoxia, who to satisfy her revenge availed herself of the enmity which Theophilus and other bishops bore our Saint. They formed a second cabal, in which they condemned and deposed St. Chrysostom, under pretext that he had reassumed the episcopal function without having justified himself in synod.

In pursuance of this most iniquitous deposition, an order came from the emperor that he should not enter his church, and he accordingly departed from the city. As this happened on Holy Saturday, the Saint retired to a country chapel, in order to celebrate the sacred offices; but his enemies obtained a troop of four hundred soldiers, and entered the church, where Baptism was being administered, wounded some of the priests, and injured some of the children who were about to be baptized. Their sacrilegious impiety went so far as to trample on the Blessed Sacrament! Such, in fine, was the consternation, that many of the people ran to hide themselves in the woods and valleys.

Although the Emperor Arcadius had no personal enmity to St. John, he was induced by the importunity of his wife and the hostile bishops to send him into banishment. The Saint having received the order, took leave of the bishops who were his friends, and departing through a private door, delivered himself to the soldiers who obliged him to travel day and night on the journey into Armenia, the place of his banishment. The journey lasted seventy days, during thirty of which the Saint suffered from a tertian fever.

When they arrived the bishop received St. John into his house. He there found some repose after so much suffering. The Saint here did not remain idle, but employed himself, as much as possible, in instructing the people and relieving the poor. He also wrote many letters to console his friends, and to assist the churches which had been lately founded in Persia and Phoenicia.

Meanwhile, Pope Innocent I. having been informed of the injustice done to St. John, did all in his power to assemble a synod where the innocence of the Saint would be definitely declared. But his enemies laboured successfully to prevent a synod being held; and jealous also of the fame he was acquiring in his first place of exile, prevailed upon Arcadius to banish him to Pytius, a small town on the borders of the empire. St. John was accordingly consigned to two officers, one of whom was a most brutal man, who being instructed by the enemies of the Saint to cause his death by maltreatment on the road, obliged him to travel in the most violent rains and amid scorching heats, not allowing him to rest in any town, but halting at obscure villages, where no accommodation could be found.

When they arrived at Comana, in Pontus, the inhuman officer obliged him to continue his journey five or six miles to the church where St. Basiliscus, Martyr and Bishop of Comana, had been buried; they lodged in a house contiguous to the church, and in the night the holy Martyr appeared to St. John, and exhorted him to have courage, adding: "tomorow we shall be together." St. Chrysostom, knowing thus that the termination of his sufferings was at hand, besought the soldiers to defer their departure till the morrow. This he could not obtain; but they had travelled only a few miles when, seeing the Saint about to expire, they returned to the same house. The Saint then changed his dress, putting on a white robe. He received the holy Viaticum, and poured forth his last prayer, which he concluded with the words he was constantly in the habit of using: "Glory be to God for all things!" Having said "Amen," he gave up his soul to God, on the 14th September in the year 407, being about sixty years of age, and having been bishop nine years and seven months. A great concourse of monks and persons of rank came from the neighbouring provinces to celebrate his funeral.

God did not delay the punishment of his enemies, and especially of Eudoxia, who died a few days afterwards. She was soon followed by Arcadius, who expired in his thirty-first year, and these deaths have generally been considered the effects of divine wrath.

In the year 428, the honours of a Saint were first given to St. John Chrysostom, and the archbishop, St. Proculus, afterwards persuaded the emperor, Theodosius the Younger, to bring the Saint's body from Comana to Constantinople. The translation of the sacred relics was performed with the utmost pomp, the entire population going forth to join in the procession. The sea over which they passed was covered with barges, and illuminated with torches. When the sacred relics arrived, the Emperor Theodosius, his eyes bathed in tears and fixed upon the coffin, humbly asked pardon of the Saint for the injustice done to him by his parents. This translation took place on the 28th of January, in the year 438, thirty-one years after the Saint's death. The relics were in later times translated to Rome and placed in St. Peter's.

Evening Meditation



It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment (Heb. ix. 27).

It is of Faith that, immediately after death we shall be judged according to our works in this life. And it is also of Faith, that upon this Judgment will depend our eternal salvation or perdition. Imagine yourself in your agony, and having only a short time to live. Think that in a short time you would have to appear before Jesus Christ to give an account of your whole life. Alas! how alarming would the sight of your sins then be to you!

Jesus, my Redeemer, pardon me, I beseech Thee, before Thou judgest me. I know that I have many times already deserved to be sentenced to eternal death. No, I desire not to present myself guilty before Thee, but penitent and pardoned. O my sovereign Good, I am grievously sorry for having offended Thee.

O God, what will be the anguish of the soul when it shall first behold Jesus Christ as its Judge, and behold Him terrible in His wrath? It will then see how much He has suffered for its sake; it will see what great mercies He has exercised towards it, and what powerful means He has bestowed upon it for the attainment of salvation; then will it also see the greatness of eternal goods, and the vileness of earthly pleasures which have wrought its ruin; it will then see all these things but to no purpose, because then there will be no more time to correct its past errors. What shall have then been done will be irrevocable. Before the Judgment-seat of God, no nobility, nor dignity, nor riches will be considered; our works alone will be weighed there.

Grant, O Jesus, that when first I behold Thee I may see Thee appeased; and for this end, grant me the grace to weep during the remainder of my life, over the evil I have done in turning my back upon Thee to follow my own sinful caprices. No, I desire never more to offend Thee. I love Thee and desire to love Thee forever.


What contentment will that Christian enjoy at the hour of death who has left the world to give himself to God; who has denied his senses all unlawful gratifications; and who, if he has on some occasions been wanting, has at last been wise enough afterwards to do worthy penance for it! On the other hand, what anguish will that Christian experience who has continually relapsed into the same vices, and at last finds himself at the point of death! Then will he exclaim: "Alas! in a few moments I must appear before Jesus, my Judge, and I have not yet even begun to change my life! I have many times promised to do so, but I have not done it. Now in a short time, what shall become of me?"

O, my Jesus and my Judge, I return Thee thanks for the patience with which Thou hast hitherto waited for me. How many times have I not written my own condemnation! Since Thou hast thus waited to pardon me, reject me not now that I am prostrate at Thy feet. Receive me into Thy favour through the merits of Thy bitter Passion. I am sorry, O my sovereign Good, for having despised Thee. I love Thee above all things. I desire never more to forsake Thee.

O Mary, recommend me to thy Son, Jesus, and do not abandon me.
"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

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)