Fourth Sunday of Advent [Rorate Sunday]
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FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays throughout the Ecclesiastical Year, 1880

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ON this Sunday the Church redoubles her ardent sighs for the coming of the Redeemer, and, in the Introit, places the longing of the just of the Old Law upon the lips of the faithful, again exhorting them through the gospel of the day, to true penance as the best preparation for the worthy reception of the Saviour. Therefore at the Introit she prays: Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just. (Isai. xlv.) Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour. The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands. (Ps. xviii. 2.)

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Raise up, O Lord, we pray Thee, Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us: that, by the help of Thy grace, that which our sins impede may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest, etc.

EPISTLE. (i Cor. iv. 1 — 5.) Brethren, Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me, it is a very small things to be judged by you, or by man's day: but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come: who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.

Quote:Why is this epistle read on this day?

The Church desires by this epistle to impress those who received Holy Orders on Ember Saturday with the dignity of their office, and exhorts them to fill it with becoming fidelity and sanctity, excelling the laity in piety and virtue, as well as in official dignity. She wishes again to remind the faithful of the terrible coming of Christ to judgment, urging them, by purifying their conscience through a contrite confession, to receive Christ at this holy Christmas time, as their Saviour, that they may not behold Him, at the Last Day, as their severe judge.

How should the faithful regard the priests and spiritual superiors?


They should esteem and obey them as servants, stewards, and vicars of Christ; as dispensers of the holy mysteries; (i Cor. iv. i.) as ambassadors of the most High, (ii Cor. v. 20.) For this reason God earnestly commands honor to priests, (Ecclus. vii. 31.) and Christ says of the Apostles and their successors: (Luke x. 16.) Who despiseth you, despiseth me; and St. Paul writes: (i Tim. v. 17.) Let the priests that* rule well be esteemed worthy of double honor: especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.


Can the priest dispense the sacraments according to his own will?


No, he must have power from the Church, and must exercise his office faithfully, in accordance with the orders of the Church, and act according to the will of Christ whose steward he is. The priest dare not give that which is holy to dogs, (Matt. vii. 6.) that is, he is not permitted to give absolution, and administer the sacraments to impenitent persons, under penalty of incurring eternal damnation.


Why does St. Paul consider the judgment of men a small matter?


Because it is usually false, deceptive, foolish, and is consequently not worth seeking or caring for. Man often
counts as evil that which is in itself good and, on the contrary, esteems as good that which is evil. St. Paul says:
If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Gal. i. 10.) Oh, how foolish, and what poor Christians, therefore, are they, who not to displease man, willingly adopt all silly customs, and fashions in dress, manners and appearance, making themselves contemptible to God, the angels, and saints. Recall the beautiful words of the Seraphic St. Francis: "We are, what we are in the sight of God, nothing more"; learn from them to fulfil your duties faithfully, and be indifferent to the judgment of the world and its praise.


Why does not St. Paul wish to judge himself?


Because no one, without a special revelation from heaven, can know if he be just in the sight of God or not, even though his conscience may accuse him of nothing, for "man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred." (Eccl. ix. 1.) Thus St. Paul goes on to say, that though he was not conscious of any wrong, he did not judge himself to be justified, God only could decide that. Man should, certainly, examine himself as much as is in his power, to find if he has anything within him displeasing to God; should he find nothing he must not judge himself more just than others, but consider that the eyes of his mind may be dimmed, and fail to see that which God sees, and will reveal to others at the Judgment Day. The Pharisees saw no fault in themselves, and were saintly and perfect in their own estimation, yet our Lord cursed them.

ASPIRATION. "O Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight no man living can be justified"'. (Ps. cxlii. 2.)


GOSPEL. (Luke iii. I — 6.) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high-priests Annas and Caiphas: the word of the Lord came to John the son of Zachary in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins . as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Quote:Why is the time in which St. John commenced to preach so minutely described?

The Evangelist, contrary to his usual custom, describes the time minutely, and enumerates exactly, in their precise order, the religious and civil princes in office, that, in the first place, it could not be denied that this was truly the time and the year in which the promised Messiah appeared in this world, whom John baptized, and the Heavenly Father declared to be His beloved Son. Furthermore, it shows the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Patriarch Jacob, (Gen. xlix. 10.) that when the sceptre would be taken away from Juda, that is, when the Jews would have no longer a king from their own tribes, the Saviour would come.


What is meant by: "The word of the Lord came to John?"


It means that John was commissioned by divine inspiration, or by an angel sent from God, to preach penance and announce to the world the coming of the Lord. He had prepared himself for this work by a penitential, secluded life, and intercourse with God. We learn from his example not to intrude ourselves into office, least of all into a spiritual office, but to await the call from God, preparing ourselves in solitude and quiet, by fervent prayer and by a holy life, for the necessary light.


What is meant by: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths?"

It means that we should prepare our hearts for the worthy reception of Christ, by penance, amendment, and the resolution to lead a pious life in future. To do this, every valley should be filled, that is, all faint-heartedness, sloth and cowardice, all wordly carnal sentiments should be elevated and directed to God, the highest Good, by firm confidence and ardent desire for heavenly virtues; the mountains and hills should be brought low, that is,
pride, stubborness, and ambition should be humbled, and the obstinate will be broken. The crooked shall be made straight, that is, ill-gotten goods should be restored, hypocrisy, malice, and double dealing be renounced, and our intentions turned to God and the performance of His holy will. And the rough ways shall be made plain, that is, anger, revenge, and impatience must leave the heart, if the Lamb of God is to dwell therein. It may also signify that the Saviour put to shame the pride of the world, and its false wisdom, by building His Church upon the Apostles, who, by reason of their poverty and simplicity, may be considered the low valleys, while the way to heaven, formerly so rough and hard to tread, because of the want of grace, is now by His grace made smooth and easy.


ASPIRATION. O my Jesus! would that my heart were well prepared and smooth for Thee! Assist me! O my Saviour to do that which I cannot do by myself. Make me an humble valley, fill me with Thy grace;turn my crooked and perverted will to Thy pleasure; change my rough and angry disposition, throw away in me whatever impedes Thy way. that Thou mayst come to me without hindrance. Thou alone possess and rule me forever. Amen.


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INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
"Preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins." (Luke III. 3.)

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What is penance, and how many kinds are there?


PENANCE, says the Roman Catechism, (Cat. Rom. de Poenit. 54.) consists in the turning of our whole soul to God, hating and detesting the crimes we have committed, firmly resolving to amend our lives, its evil habits, and corrupt ways, hoping through the mercy of God to obtain pardon. This is interior penance, or the virtue of penance. The sincere acknowledgment of our sins to a priest and the absolution he accords, is exterior penance, or the holy Sacrament of Penance, which Christ instituted, (John XX. 22—23.) through which the sins committed after baptism, are remitted.

Which of these penances is necessary for the forgiveness of sins?

Both are necessary, for unless the conversion of the heart to God, a true consciousness of, and sorrow for sin,
the firm purpose of amendment and confidence in God's mercy precede the confession declaring all our sins to a priest can not obtain forgiveness of mortal sin, committed after baptism. At the same time, a really contrite turning to God, will not, without confession to a priest, obtain forgiveness, except when by circumstances, a person is prevented from approaching the tribunal of penance. Such a person must, however, have the ardent desire to confess as soon as possible.

Can any one who has committed mortal sin be saved without penance?

No, for penance is as necessary to such a one as baptism, if he wishes not to perish: Unless you do penance, says Christ, you shall all likewise perish. (Luke XIII. 3. 5.)


Is this penance performed at once?


This penance is necessary every day of our lives: that is, we must from day to day endeavor to be heartily sorry
for our sins, to despise them, to eradicate the roots of sin, that is, our passions and evil inclinations, and become more pleasing to God by penance and good works.


Why do so many die unpenitent?

Because they do not accept and use the many grace God offers them, but put off their repentance. Such sinners, like the godless King Antiochus, (ii. Mach. ix.) intend to repent on their deathbed for fear of punishment, they usually find that God in His justice will no longer give them the grace of repentance, for he who when he can repent, will not, cannot when he will. “Who will not listen at the time of grace", says St. Gregory, "will not be listened to in the time of anxiety." And it is to be feared that He who postpones penance until old age, will not find justice where he looked for mercy.


Can all sinners do penance?

With the grace of ( rod all can, even the greatest sinners; as a real father God calls them when He says: As I live . . . I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will ye die, O house of Israel? And the wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness. (Ezech. xxxiii. n. 12.)


Do all who go to confession perform true penance?

Unfortunately they do not; for all is not accomplished with confession. If there is no sincere detestation of sin, no true sorrow for having offended God; if the evil inclinations and bad habits are not overcome, ill-gotten goods restored, and calumny repaired, the occasions of sin avoided; if a sincere amendment of life, or, at least, its earnest purpose does not follow, then indeed, there cannot be the least shadow of true repentance, not even though such persons confess weekly. But alas! we see many such. And why? Because many think, repentance consists simply in confession, and not in the amendment of their lives. Only those obtain pardon who are truly penitent, and perform all that is enjoined upon them in confession. It is well, therefore, to read, and carefully act according to the following instructions.





I. ON THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

The foundation of true repentance, interior and exterior (see the preceding pages), is the vivid knowledge of our sins. There are many who are unconscious of the most grievous sins in which they are buried; blinded by self-love they do not even regard them as sins, do not confess them, perform no penance for them and are consequently eternally lost. To prevent this great evil, the Council of Trent (Sess. 14. c. 5.) ordered a careful examination of conscience before confession , and afterwards to confess the sins which are discovered by that examination.

Why should we examine our conscience?


Because, as St. Ignatius says, no one can become fully aware of his own faults, unless God reveals them by a special light; we should, therefore, first of all, daily ask the Holy Ghost to enlighten us, and should then examine our thoughts, desires, words, actions, and omissions since our last valid confession and how often we have sinned in these respects. To know this, we should let our conscience, that is, the inner voice which tells us what is good and what is evil, speak freely, without flattering ourselves, or passing it by negligently. St. Charles Borromeo says, we should place before our eyes the Ten Commandments of God and carefully compare our life and our morals with them; it is well also to examine ourselves on the seven deadly sins, and remember the places and persons with whom we have been in contact, the duties of our state of life, the vices to which we are most inclined, the consequences that were, or might have been produced upon ourselves or others. At the same time, we should imagine ourselves standing before the judgment seat of God, and whatever would cause us fear there, whatever we could not answer for there, we should look upon as sins, be sorry for, and confess.


Is it a sin not to examine ourselves long and carefully?

Certainly it is a sin for those to examine their consciences carelessly, who live unfaithfully and in mortal sin, and who seldom confess, because they expose themselves frivolously to the danger of leaving out great sins, and consequently they make a sacrilegious confession, committing thereby a new and grievous sin. Those who daily ask God for enlightenment and examine their conscience at least every evening before going to bed, will prepare themselves properly before approaching the tribunal of penance. "Behold, you have a book in which you write your daily expenses," says St. Chrysostom, "make a book of your conscience, also, and write there your daily sins. Before you go to bed, before sleep comes, take your book, that is, your conscience, and recall your sins, whether of thought, word, or deed. Say then to your soul: Again, O soul, a day is spent, what have we done of evil or of good? If you have accomplished some good, be grateful to God; if evil, resolve to avoid it for the future. Shed tears in remembrance of your sins; ask forgiveness of God, and then let your body sleep."



II. ON CONTRITION

"O man", cries St. Augustine, “why dost thou weep over the body whence the soul has departed, and not over the soul from which God has withdrawn?" The idolatrous Michas (Judges xviii. 23. 24.) complained bitterly, because his idols were taken from him; Esau grieved greatly over the loss of his birthright and his father's blessing. (Gen. xxvii. 34.) Should we not therefore, be filled with sorrow, when by our sins we have lost God and Heaven?

What is contrition, and how many kinds are there?

"Contrition is a hearty sorrow and detestation of our sins, with a firm purpose of sinning no more." (Conc. Trid, sess. xiv. 4.) If this grief and detestation comes from a temporal injury, shame or punishment, it is a natural sorrow; but if we are sorry for our sins, because by them we have offended God, and transgressed His holy law, it is a supernatural sorrow; this, again, is imperfect when fear of God's punishment is the motive; it is perfect, if we are sorry for our sins, because we have offended God, the supreme Lord and best of Fathers.


Is natural sorry sufficient for a good confession?

It is not, because it proceeds not from a supernatural motive, but from the love or fear of the world. A merenatural sorrow for our sins worketh death, (ii Cor. vii. 10.) If one confess his sins having only a natural sorrow for them, he commits a sacrilege, because the most necessary part of the Sacrament of Penance in wanting.


What other qualities are necessary for a true contrition?


Contrition should be interior, proceeding from the heart and not merely from the lips; it must be universal, that
is, it must extend to all the mortal sins which the sinner has committed; it must be sovereign, that is, he must be more sorry for having offended God, than for any temporal evil; it must be supernatural, that is, produced in the heart by supernatural motives; namely, because we have offended God, lost His grace, deserved hell, &c.


What kind of sorrow must we have in order to obtain forgiveness of our sins?

That sorrow which proceeds from a perfect love of God, and not from fear of temporal or eternal punishment. This perfect contrition would suffice for the forgivenes of sins, if in case of danger of death, there should be a great desire, but no opportunity to confess to a priest. But the Holy Catholic Church has declared (Cone. Trid. s. 14. c. 4.) the imperfect contrition which proceeds from the fear of eternal punishment to be sufficient for the valid reception of the holy Sacrament of Penance.


Who are those who have reason to fear they have aroused only a natural sorrow for their sins?


Those who care little about knowing what true sorrow is; those who often commit grievous sins, and do not amend their lives; for if true sorrow for sin had been excited in their hearts, with the firm purpose of amendment, the grace of God in this Sacrament would have strengthened the resolution, and enabled them to avoid sin, at least for a time. On account of their immediate relapse we justly doubt whether they have validly received the sacrament of penance and its sanctifying grace.


How can the sinner attain true sorrow?


The sinner can attain true sorrow by the grace of God and his own cooperation. That both are necessary, is shown by the prophet Jeremias, (Jer. xxxi. 18, 19.) who prays: Convert me, O Lord, and I shall be converted: for Thou art the Lord, my God. For after Thou didst convert me, I did penance: and after Thou didst shew unto me, I struck my thigh (with sorrow). To which God replies: If thou wilt be converted, I will convert thee. (Jer.xv. 19.) "We see, therefore, that the first and most essential means for producing this sorrow is the grace of God. It must begin and complete the work of conversion, but it will do this only when the sinner earnestly and faithfully cooperates.

When God in whatever way has admonished the sinner that he should be converted, let him ardently implore God for the grace of a true conversion, invoke the intercession of the Mother of the Saviour, his guardian angel, and like the holy penitents, David, Peter, and Magdalen, let him meditate upon the truth that God is a just judge, who hates sin, and will punish it in the eternal torments of hell. Having placed these truths vividly before his eyes, the sinner will reflect further whether by his sins he has not himself deserved this punishment, and if by the enlightenment of God he finds he has, he will also see the danger in which he that stands, that if God should permit him to die impenitent, he would have to suffer forever in hell. This fear of eternal punishment urges the sinner to hope in God's mercy; for He wishes not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; again, our Redeemer says: I came to call the sinner to repentance, and, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who does penance, than over ninety -nine just. He considers the patience of God towards him, the graces bestowed upon him during his sinful life; namely his creation, redemption, sanctification in baptism, and many others.

He will now contemplate the beauty and perfection of God: "Who art Thou, O my God," he cries, “who art Thou who hast loved me with such an unspeakable love, and lovest me still, ungrateful, abominable sinner, that I am! What is all the beauty of this world of the angels and of the blessed spirits compared to Thine! Thou fountain of all beauty, of all goodness, of all that is amiable, Thou supreme majesty, Thou infinite abyss of love and mercy! I for one vain thought, a short, momentary pleasure, a small, mean gain, could forget, offend and despise Thee! Could I sell, could I forfeit heaven, and eternal joy with Thee! O, could I repair those crimes ! Could I but wash them out with my tears, even with my blood?" Through such meditations the sinner, by the grace of God, will be easily moved to sorrow.Without such or similar reflections the formulas of sorrow as read from prayer books or recited by heart, are by no means acts of contrition.


Should we make an act of contrition before confession only?

We should make an act of contrition before confession, and not only then, but every evening after the examination of conscience; we should make one immediately after any fault committed, above all when in danger of death; for we know not when God will call us to judgment, or whether we shall then have the grace to receive the sacrament of Penance with proper preparation.



III. ON THE PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT

The purpose of amending our life is as necessary for the remission of sin, as contrition; for how could he obtain forgiveness from God, who has not the determination to sin no more? The will to sin cannot exist with the hatred of sin.


What is necessary for a firm purpose?


A firm purpose of amendment requires: the determination to avoid sin; to flee front all occasions that might
bring the danger of sinning, all persons, places, societies in which we usually sin; bravely to fight against our evil inclinations and bad habits ; to make use of all means prescribed by our confessor ; or made known to us by God Himself; to repair the injustice we have done; to restore the good name of our neighbor , and to remove the scandal and enmity we have caused.

Who, then, have no true purpose of amendment?

Those who do not truly intend to leave the frivolous persons with whom they have associated, and committed sin; to remove the occasions of cursing, swearing, drunkenness, and secret sins, &c.; who have the intention to borrow or contract debts which they know they cannot pay, or do not even care to pay; to squander the property of their wives and children, letting them suffer want; to frequent barrooms, or saloons, fight, gamble, indulge in vile, filthy conversations, and detraction, murmur against spiritual and temporal superiors, throw away precious time, and bring, even compel others to do the same. The saloon-keepers, who for the sake of money allure such wretched people, keep them there, and what is still worse, help to intoxicate them, participate in their sins.



IV. ON CONFESSION

Confession is a contrite acknowledgment of our sins to a priest who is duly authorized, in order to obtain forgiveness. This acknowledgment of our sins is an important and necessary part of the holy Sacrament of Penance.

Even in the Old Law, a certain kind of confession was prescribed, and connected with a sacrifice, called the sacrifice of Atonement; but the forgiveness of sins was effected only through faith in the coming Redeemer, towards whom this sacrifice pointed. (Lev. v. 5, 6., Num. v. 7.; compare Matt. iii. 6.) In the new Law, Christ gave to the apostles and their successors, power to forgive, and to retain sins, (John xx. 21 — 23.) and in doing so made them judges. Without confession on the part of the sinner, they cannot act as judges, and do justice in regard to giving punishment and remedies, (Cone. Trid. sess. 14. c. 6) and as the sinner is but seldom able to make an act of perfect contrition, which obtains the forgiveness of sin without confession, it was necessary that the most merciful Lord, as the Roman Catechism says, (de poen. 5, 36) through the means of confession to the priest, should provide in an easier manner for the common salvation of man.

Confession, at the same time is the best means of bringing man to a knowledge of his sins and of their malice. Therefore, even Adam was obliged to acknowledge his sins, and in the same way Cain was asked by God concerning his brother's murder, although God, the Omniscient, knew the sins of both. The desire to ease the troubled conscience, seems born in man. Thus David says of his crime: Because I was silent, my bones grew old, whilst 1 cried out all the day long; (Ps. xxxi. 3.) and in the book of Proverbs it is said; He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that shall confess and forsake them, shall obtain mercy. (Prov. xxviii. 13.) Constant experience in life verifies these words, and heretics could not entirely abolish private confession, though they rejected the Sacrament of Penance.


Is confession a human law, or a human invention?


No, confession was instituted by Christ Himself; for after His resurrection He appeared to His apostles and disciples, and said to them: Peace be with you! As the Father hath sent me, I also send you; that is, the same power to remit sin which the Father has given me, I give to you. When he had said this, he breathed on them, and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John xx. 21 — 23: compare Matt, xviii. 18.) In these words Christ evidently gave to the apostles and their successors the power to forgive and retain sins. This the can do only, when the sins are confessed to them; and, therefore, Christ, when instituting the forgiveness of sins, instituted and connected with it the acknowledgment, that is, the confession of sins.

This regulation of Christ was complied with by the first Christians in humility of heart, as is proved in the Acts of the apostles, where we read: And many, (referring to the Christians at Ephesus) of them that believed, came confessing and declaring their deeds. (Acts. xix. 18.) And the apostle James exhorts his own: Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. (St. James v. 16.) The work founded by Christ must stand, as long as the world, and as the apostles and disciples of our Ford died, their successors necessarily continued the work, and received the same power from Christ. This is verified by the whole history of His Church. In the very beginning of Christianity, the faithful with great sorrow confessed to the priest all their transgressions, even the smallest and most secret, after which they received absolution. "Let us be sincerely sorry as long as we live," says St. Clement of Rome, a disciple of St. Paul, (Ep. i. ad Cor.) "for all evil which we have committed in the flesh, for having once left the world, there will no longer be any confession and penance for us." Tertullian (217 after Christ) writes of those who hid their sins, being ashamed to confess them: "Can we also hide from the knowledge of God that which we conceal from a fellow creature". (Lib. de qoen. 5. 36.) Origen (d. 254), after speaking of baptism, says: "There is still a severer and more tedious way of obtaining remission of sin: when the sinner moistens his pillow with tears, and is not ashamed to confess his sins to the priest of the Lord". (Hom. 3. in Lev.)

St. Cyprian (d. 258) writes of those Christians who during the persecutions of his time, had not sinned by openly denying the faith: "Yet because they had but thought of doing so, they make a sorrowful and simple confession to God's priests". (Sib. de laps.) Basil (d. A. D.379) writes: "Necessarily the sins must be made plain to those to whom the power of the mysteries is confided, that is, to the priests". (In reg. brev. 288.) Many more testimonies could be brought from the earliest centuries cf Christianity, which make it clear, that Christ Himself instituted confession, and that the faithful always availed themselves of it as a means of remission of sin. It would not have been possible for a human being, though he were the mightiest prince, to have imposed upon Catholic Christianity so hard an obligation as confession, without the special command of Christ the Son of God; nor could any one have invented it without the faithful at once revolting. It is also well known that, in the Oriental Churches which separated from the true Church in the earliest ages, private confession to a priest is yet valued as a divine institution.

The Catholic institution of confession, with which, in the earliest centuries; there was even connected a public confession, before the whole congregation, for notorious sinners, is as old as the Church itself, as Pope Leo the Great (d. 461) proves (Ep. 136); "The secret, auricular confession was introduced into the Church as early as the times of the apostles, or their immediate successors." It was instituted by Christ, the God-Man, and instituted for the purpose of enabling the apostles and the priests, their successors, to remit in the confessional the sins committed after baptism, if the sinner heartily regrets them, sincerely confesses, and renders satisfaction for them, or to retain them if he be unworthy of absolution.

From this it is seen that the enemies of the Catholic Church oppose, in rejecting confession, the plain expression of the holy Scriptures, and of entire Christian antiquity, and that it is a detestable calumny to assert that confession is simply a human invention. The divine institution of confession always was and is a fountain of sweetest consolation for sinful man, and thousands have experienced that which is said by the Council of Trent: (Sess. 14. c. 3. de part.) “The effect of this Sacrament is reconciliation with God, followed by peace, cheerfulness and consolation of the heart in those who worthily receive this Sacrament."


What will aid us to make confession easy?

The consideration of the manifold benefits arising from it; first, forgiveness of all, even the most grievous sins, remission of the guilt and eternal punishment; secondly, the certainty of having again been made a child of God; thirdly, the sweet consolation and desired peace of conscience; fourthly, the necessary remedies which a pious and prudent confessor will prescribe for the cure of the diseases of the soul; finally, the prayer and exhortation of the priest which will also add to the complete conversion of the sinner.


What should be done to participate in these benefits?


Besides that which has already been said of the examination of conscience, and especially of sorrow for sin, the confession must be sincere and open-hearted; that is, a correct and exact confession not only of all mortal sins, their kind, circumstances and number, without excuses, or veiling or lessening of them, but also a faithful revelation of all other spiritual affairs, fears, doubts, and other wounds of the soul; for a wound which is not shown to the physician, cannot be healed. We should not seek those confessors who are only "mute dogs", (Isai. lvi. 10.) and give absolution without hesitation, but we should trust the direction of our souls to learned, pious, and zealous priests, and remain under their guidance, as in physical sickness we remain under the care of an experienced physician, and accept their words as if Christ Himself had spoken.


How should the false shame which prevents confession be overcome?


It should be remembered that the priest in the confessional is the representative of Christ, and that whoever lies to the confessor, seeks to deceive God Himself, who abominates a lie, and at the Last Day will publicly put such a liar to shame. The confessor takes the place of Christ, and after His example must be merciful to the sinner, if, a sinful man himself, he hopes to receive mercy and grace from God. At the same time, no confessor is allowed to reveal the slightest thing heard in confession, even should it cost him his life. It may be considered further that he who conceals a sin in confession, and thus obtains absolution by false pretences, receives no remission, but, on the contrary, commits a new sin, "When man uncovers his sins, God covers them; when man conceals his sins, God reveals them” says St. Augustine. Man can be deceived, but not God, the Omniscient; and who is ashamed to show his wounds to the physician? Why should it be a cause of shame to throw out the poison of sin by a sincere confession? To sin only is shameful, to confess sin is not shameful. But if by all these reflections we are still unable to overcome ourselves so as to confess our sins to a certain confessor we may seek another in whom we have confidence.


V. ON SATISFACTION AFTER CONFESSION

Satisfaction is the diligent performance of all the works of penance imposed upon us by the confessor. With this, however, a true penitent will not be satisfied; for in our times, on account of the weakness and little zeal of Christians, a light penance is imposed that they may not be deterred from the reception of the holy Sacraments. To avoid relapsing into sin, one must do penance, and bring forth worthy fruits, (Luke xiii. 3.) for God will only then give the grace to persevere. We satisfy God by fasting, prayer, almsdeeds, avoidance of the snares of the world, diffidence in ourselves, and especially by patient endurance of the afflictions and sufferings which He imposes upon us. Those who have committed sin must do penance in this life or submit to everlasting penance in the next.

Is the heretic right in asserting that man does not need to render satisfaction since Christ has rendered it complete on the cross?


He is entirely wrong. Christ on the cross did indeed render satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, and man is not capable to atone for one single sin but it does not follow from this that man is not required to do something. To render satisfaction means to perform a duty which has been neglected. Instead of obeying God the sinner, by his sins, disobeys Him. Satisfaction for disobedience requires perfect obedience from the sinner: but this, because of his weakness and corruption, no man is able to render therefore Christ rendered it for us by His perfect obedience even unto the death of the cross. But because Christ has been thus obedient for us, must we not be somewhat obedient also? or which is the same, because Christ for love of us has atoned for our sins by perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father, are we to do no penance for ourselves?

It is precisely by this atonement made by Christ that we receive the power of rendering 1 satisfaction. But for this we must, first of all, ask the grace, i. e. pray, to restrain our earthly desires i. e. fast, and by means of active love (charity) make ourselves susceptible to this grace. St. Paul the Apostle, who calls himself the greatest of sinners, writes of himself: I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh for his body, which is the Church; (Col. i. 24.) and to the Corinthians he writes: But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps: when I have preached to others, (meaning penance and conversion) I myself should become cast away. (i. Cor. ix. 27.) Christ Himself did not censure the Ninivites for their fasting and their penance in sackcloth and ashes, but gave them as an example. (Matt. xii. 41.)

In the Old Testament we find that even after remitting the sin, God imposed a punishment for it. Thus He let the child of king David die, as punishment for his adultery, even though He had forgiven the sin; (ii. Kings xii. 13, 14.) thus Moses and Aaron, because they once distrusted God, were not permitted to enter the Promised Land. (Num. xx. 24.; Deut. xxxiv. 4.) According to this doctrine of the Bible, the Catholic Church teaches that there remains a temporal punishment which the sinner must expiate either in this world, or in the next, though on account of the infinite merits of Christ the guilt and eternal punishment of sin are taken away by absolution. In the earliest times of the Church certain works of penance were imposed, which were then very severe, and in the course of time, owing to the indolence of the faithful, were much moderated.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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#2
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger

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(If this Sunday fall on December 24, it is omitted, and in its place is said the Office of Christmas Eve, which is given in the proper of the saints, December 24.)

We have now entered into the week which immediately precedes the birth of the Messias. That long-desired coming might be even to-morrow; and at furthest, that is, when Advent is as long as it can be, the beautiful feast is only seven days from us. So that the Church now counts the hours; she watches day and night, and since December 17 her Offices have assumed an unusual solemnity. At Lauds, she varies the antiphons each day; and at Vespers, in order to express the impatience of her desires for her Jesus, she makes use of the most vehement exclamations to the Messias, in which she each day gives Him a magnificent title, borrowed from the language of the prophets.

To-day,* she makes a last effort to stir up the devotion of her children. She leads them to the desert; she shows them John the Baptist, upon whose mission she instructed them on the third Sunday. The voice of the austere Precursor resounds through the wilderness, and penetrates even into the cities. It preaches penance, and the obligation men are under of preparing by self-purification for the coming of Christ. Let us retire from the world during these next few days; or if that may not be by reason of our external duties, let us retire into the quiet of our own hearts and confess our iniquities, as did those true Israelites, who came, full of compunction and of faith in the Messias, to the Baptist, there to make perfect their preparation for worthily receiving the Redeemer on the day of His appearing to the world.

[* The fourth Sunday of Advent is called Rorate, from the Introit; but more frequently, Canite tuba, which are the first words of the first responsory at Matins, and of the first antiphon of Lauds and Vespers.]

See, then, with what redoubled earnestness the Church, before opening the book of her great prophet, repeats her invitatory:


Prope est jam Dominus; venite, adoremus. The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

From the Prophet Isaias. Ch. xxxv.
The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise; the glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel and Saron. They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. Say to the faint hearted: Take courage, and fear not. Behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall be come a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwelt before shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it; and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there, that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.


Oh, the joy of Thy coming, dear Jesus! how great it must needs be, when the prophecy says it shall be like an everlasting crown upon our heads. And could it be otherwise? The very desert is to flourish as a lily, and living waters are to gush forth out of the parched land, because their God is coming. Come, O Jesus, come quickly, and give us of that water, which flows from Thy sacred Heart, and which the Samaritan woman, the type of us sinners, asked of Thee with such earnest entreaty. This water is Thy grace; let it rain upon our parched souls, and they too will flourish; let it quench our thirst, and we will run in the way of Thy precepts and examples. Thou, O Jesus, art our way, our path, to God; and Thou art Thyself God; Thou art, therefore, both our way and the term to which our way leads us. We had lost our way; we had gone astray as lost sheep: how great Thy love to come thus in search of us! To teach us the way to heaven, Thou hast deigned to come down from heaven, and then tread with us the road which leads to it. No! there shall he no more weak hands, nor feeble knees, nor faint hearts; for we know that it is in love that Thou art coming to us. There is but one thing which makes us sad: our preparation is not complete. We have some ties still to break; help us to do it, O Saviour of mankind! We desire to obey the voice of Thy Precursor, and make plain those rugged paths, which would prevent Thy coming into our hearts, O divine Infant! Give us to be baptized in the Baptism of the waters of penance; Thou wilt soon follow, baptizing us in the Holy Ghost and love.


The Mass

Mass.—The Prophet has made us thirst for that clear cool fountain, which he tells us is to spring up on the coming of the Messias; let us ask, together with the Church, for the Dew which will give new life to our hearts, and for the Rain which will make them fruitful.

Introit
Rorate cœli desuper, et nubes pluant Justum: aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem.
Ps.Cœli enarrant gloriam Dei: et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum. ℣. Gloria Patri. Cœli.

Drop down Dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior.
Ps. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the works of his hands. ℣. Glory, &c. Drop down, &c.


In the Collect, the Church implores God to hasten the time of his coming to her assistance; she fears lest her sins might keep her Spouse from visiting her; she therefore prays that this obstacle may be removed by his mercy.

Collect
Excita, quæsumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni, et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiæ tuæ, quod nostra peccata præpediunt, indulgentia tuæ propitiantionis acceleret. Qui vivis.

Exert, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come, and succor us by thy great might: that by the assistance of thy grace, thy indulgent mercy may hasten what is delayed by our sins. Who livest, &c.

The other Collects, of the Blessed Virgin, against the Persecutors of the Church, and for the Pope, are given in the Mass of the first Sunday of Advent.


]Epistle
Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle, to the Corinthians. Ch. iv.

Brethren, let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’ s day; but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of any thing, yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me, is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God.

Quote:The Church here reminds the people of the dignity of the Christian Priesthood. The occasion is an appropriate one, as the Ordinations were held yesterday. She also brings before her sacred Ministers the obligation they have contracted of being faithful to the duties imposed upon them. But let not the flock judge their Pastor; since all, both priest and people, are living in expectation of the day of our Savior’s coming; not only of that second one, for which we are now preparing, but also of that last Coming which will be as terrible as the other two are dear to the hearts of men. After having spoken these words of stern admonition, the Church resumes the expressions of her hopes and her entreaties for the speedy coming of her Spouse.

Gradual
Prope est Dominus omnibus invocantibus eum, omnibus qui invocant eum in veritate.
℣. Laudem Domini loquetur os meum: et benedicat omnis caro nomen sanctum ejus.

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him; to all that call upon him in truth.
℣. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy Name.


Alleluia, alleluia
.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Veni, Domine, et noli tardare: relaxa facinora plebi tuæ Israël. Alleluia.

℣. Come, O Lord, and delay not: release thy people Israel from their sins. Alleluia.


Gospel
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke. Ch. iii.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina; Under the high priests Annas and Caiphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Quote:Thou art nigh, O Lord, for the inheritance of Thy people has raised into the hands of the Gentiles, and the land which Thou didst promise to Abraham is now but a province of that vast empire, to which Thine own is to succeed. The oracles of the prophets are being rapidly fulfilled, each in its turn; the prediction of Jacob himself has been accomplished: the sceptre is taken from Juda. Everything is ready for Thy coming, O Jesus! Thus it is that Thou renewest the face of the earth; deign also, I beseech Thee, to renew my heart, and give me courage during these last few hours of my preparation for receiving Thee. I feel the need I have of withdrawing into solitude, of receiving the baptism of penance, of making straight all my ways: O divine Saviour, let all this be done in me, that so my joy may be full on the day of Thy coming.

During the Offertory, the Church salutes the ever glorious Virgin, in whose chaste womb is still concealed the Saviour of the world. Give us, O Mary, this God, who fills thee with Himself and His grace. The Lord is with thee, O incomparable Mother! but the happy hour is rapidly advancing when He will also be with us; for His name is Emmanuel.

Offertory
Ave, Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui.

Hail, Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.


Secret

Sacrificiis præsentibus, quæsumus, Domine, placatus intende: ut et devotioni nostræ proficiant, et saluti. Per Dominum.

Hear us, O Lord, we beseech thee, and being appeased by these offerings, grant they may increase our devotion, and advance our salvation. Through, &c.

The other Secrets as on the first Sunday.


During the Communion, the Church, now filled with the God who hast just come into her, borrows the words of Isaias, wherewith to celebrate the praise of the Virgin Mother. The same words apply also to the Church herself, since that same God, who made Mary his Tabernacle, has this instant visited her.

Communion
Ecce Virgo concipiet, et pariet filium: et vocatibur nomen ejus Emmanuel.

Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son: and his name shall be called Emmanuel.


Postcommunion
Sumptis muneribus, quæsumus, Domine: ut cum frequentatione mysterii crescat nostræ salutis effectus. PerDominum.

Having received what has been offered to thee, O Lord, grant, we beseech thee, that the more frequently we partake of these sacred mysteries, the more our devotion may increase. Through, &c.

The other Postcommunions as on the first Sunday.



VESPERS

(If this Sunday be Christmas Eve, the following antiphons are not sung, as the Vespers are of Christmas, which are given in the next volume.)

1. ANT. Canite tuba in Sion, quia prope est dies Domini: ecce veniet ad salvandum nos, alleluia, alleluia.
2. ANT. Ecce veniet desideratus cunctis Gentibus: et replebitur gloria domus Domini, alleluia.
3. ANT. Erunt prava in directa, et aspera in vias planas: veni, Domine, et noli tardare, alleluia.
4. ANT. Dominus veniet, occurrite illi, dicentes: Magnum principium, et regni ejus non erit finis; Deus, Fortis, Dominator, Princeps pacis, alleluia, alleluia.
5. ANT. Omnipotens sermo tuus, Domine, a regalibus sedibus veniet, alleluia.

1. ANT. Sound the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is nigh: Behold he will come to save us, alleluia, alleluia.
2. ANT. Lo! the Desired of all nations will come: and the house of the Lord shall be filled with glory, alleluia.
3. ANT. The crooked ways shall be made straight, and the rough smooth: come, O Lord, and delay not, alleluia.
4. ANT. The Lord will come, go, meet him and say: Great is his empire, and his reign shall have no end; he is God, the Mighty, the Ruler, and Prince of peace, alleluia, alleluia.
5. ANT. Thy almighty word, O Lord, shall come from thy royal throne, alleluia.


CAPITULUM
Fratres, sic nos existimet homo ut ministros Christi, et dispensatores mysteriorum Dei. Hic jam quaeritur inter dispensatores ut fidelis quis inveniatur.

Brethren, let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God; here now it is required amongst the dispensers, that a man be found faithful.


The hymn Creator alme siderum, the verse Rorate and the canticle Magnificat, are given above.

The Great Antiphon which is marked for the day of December on which this Sunday falls, is sung at the Magnificat. The Great Antiphons are given in the proper of the saints.

OREMUS
Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni, et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiae tuae quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentia tuae propitiationis acceleret Qui vivis et regnas.

LET US PRAY
Exert, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come, and succour us by thy great might: that by the assistance of thy grace, thy indulgent mercy may hasten what is delayed by our sins; who livest and reignest, &c

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"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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#3
Fourth Sunday in Advent: Offertory - Ave Marie, gratia plena (Mode 8)


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