Archive for October, 2014

The Patience of the Saints and the Sleep of Death

And we will not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with Him. (1Thes:4:13-14)

One great miracle in the new creation of God is this, that death is changed to sleep; and therefore in the writings of the New Testament we do not read of the ‘death ‘ of the saints.

St. Paul in the text speaks of the saints unseen as of those that ‘sleep in Jesus’; and Christians were wont to call their burial-grounds cemeteries, or sleeping-places, where they laid up their beloved ones to sleep on and take their rest. Let us see why we should thus speak of those whom we call dead.

First, it is because we know that they shall awake up again. What sleep is to waking, death is to the resurrection. It is only a prelude, a transitory state, ushering in a mightier power of life; therefore death is called sleep, to show that it has a fixed end coming

Again, death is changed to sleep, because they whom men call dead do really live unto God. They were dead while they lived this dying life on earth, and dead when they were in the last avenues of death. But after they had once died, death had no more dominion: they escaped as a ‘bird out of the snare of the fowler’; the snare ‘was’ broken, and they were delivered.

It may sound strange to unbelieving ears to say that we are dead while we live, and alive when we die. But so it is. Life does not hang on matter, nor on organization of matter.

It is not as the harmony which rings out of a cunning instrument; but it is a breath, a spirit, a ray of the eternal being, pure, immaterial, above all grosser compounds, simple and indissoluble. In the body it is allayed and tempered with weakness, shrouded about with obstructions; its faculties pent up by a bounded organization, and its energies repressed by the ‘body of this death.’ It is life subjected to the conditions of mortality. But, once dead, once dissolved, and the unclothed spirit is beyond the affections of decay. There is no weakness, nor weariness, nor wasting away, nor wandering of the burdened spirit; it is disenthralled, and lives its own life, unmingled, and buoyant. When the coil of this body is loosed, death has done all and his power is spent; thenceforth and for ever the sleeping soul lives mightily unto God.

Those whom the world calls dead are sleeping, because they are taking their rest. ‘I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth. Even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.’ Not as the heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if they slept without stir of consciousness from the hour of death to the morning of the resurrection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone, cold and lifeless; but of wearied humanity. They rest from their labours; they have no more persecution, nor stoning, nor scourging; no more martyrdoms; they have no more false witness, nor cutting tongues; no more bitterness of heart, nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. Never again shall they weep for unkindness, and disappointment, and withered hopes, and desolation of heart. All is over now; they have passed under the share. The ploughers ploughed upon their back, and made long furrows; but it is all over, never to begin again.

They rest too from the weight of ‘ the body of our humiliation’ —from its sufferings and pains. Their last sickness is over. . . . Now is their weariness changed into refreshment; their weakness into excellence of strength; their wasting into a spirit ever new; their broken words into the perfection of praise; their weeping into a chant of bliss. And not only so, but they rest also from their warfare against sin, against all its strength, and subtilties, and snares. . . . There is no more inward struggle, no sliding back again, no swerving aside, no danger of falling; they have gained the shore of eternal peace. Above all they rest from the bufferings of evil in themselves. It is not persecution, nor oppression, nor the thronging assaults of temptation, that so afflict a holy man, as the consciousness that evil dwells in his own inmost soul. It is the clinging power of spiritual evil that sullies his whole being: it seems to run through him in every part; it cleaves to every movement of his life; his living powers are burdened and bruised by its grasp.

Evil tempers in sudden flashes, unholy thoughts shooting across the soul and kindling fires in the imagination, thoughts of self in holiest seasons, consciousness of self in holiest acts, in devoutness of spirit, earthliness of heart, dull musing heaviness in the life of God—all these burden even saints with an oppressive weight. They feel always the stretch and tension of their spiritual frame, as a man that is weary and breathless grappling with a foe whom, if he would live, he must hold powerless to the earth. But from all this, too, they rest. The sin that dwelt in them died, when through death they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts forth its new-born life, as a tree in a kindly soil invited by a gentle sky: all that checked it is passed away; all that draws it into ripeness bathes it with fostering power. . . .

Blessed and happy dead! In them the work of the new creation is well-nigh accomplished. What feebly stirs in us, in them is well-nigh full. They have passed within the veil, and there remaineth only one more change for them—a change full of a foreseen, foretasted bliss. How calm, how pure, how sainted, are they now! A few short years ago, and they were almost as weak and poor as we: harassed by temptations, often overcome weeping in bitterness of soul, struggling, with faithful though fearful hearts, towards that dark shadow from which they shrank as we shrink now. . . .

Let us be much in thought with them that are at rest. They await our coming; for without us they shall ‘not be made perfect.’ Let us therefore remember, and love, and follow them; that when our last change is over, we, with them, may ‘ sleep in Jesus.’

Cardinal H. E. Manning (1808-1892)


Behold, I Will Send My Angel, Who Shall Go Before Thee…

guardian-angel

For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.
In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone…
(Ps:91:11-14)

A pious woman, having one night received information that a poor person in the suburbs was lying in extreme necessity, and none of her domestics being within, sent her son with something for her relief. The boy, being very young, was greatly afraid going by himself to such a lonely place, until a page appeared, bearing a flambeau, and conducted him safely to his destination. His mother doubted not that it might be his good angel who had rendered him the charitable office.

These blessed spirits have often appeared visibly to man. The learned interpreter of the Holy Scripture, Cornelius a Lapide, supposes that after the resurrection they will sometimes assume bodies of exquisite beauty to recreate us. It is amazing to see them take every form to render services to us. They have appeared in various shapes, as pilgrims, etc., to serve and benefit man, who does almost nothing to testify his gratitude. If it were only at certain times they rendered us assistance, it would not be so wonderful; but to be conferring favors on us every moment we exist, is inconceivable—and it is this our good angel does for us.

If a prince of the royal blood came and spent some time in waiting on an humble peasant, in a poor cabin, every one would be amazed; but if this peasant was his enemy, one from whom he could expect nothing like gratitude—if, moreover, he not only passed some months with him, but even resolved on remaining in his service as long as he lived, notwithstanding all the vicious propensities and vile habits which he discovered in him, the wonder would be infinitely greater.

Yet it is in this manner, O my soul! thy good angel guards thee. It is thus, O ye whom I address! that the Holy Spirit, appointed to be your guardian, executes His commission. This amiable prince never quits us in this valley of tears.

The angels, says St. Augustine, enter and go forth with us—they have their eyes ever fixed on us, and on what we do. If we remain at home, they stay with us; if we walk out, they accompany us; let us go where we will, on land or at sea, they are always with us; they are no less present with the merchant in his counting-house, or the matron in the cares of her household, than with the recluse in his desert, or the religious in his cell.

O excessive bounty!—even while we sleep, they watch over us —they are always at our side—though we are sinners, and consequently their enemies—though our interior deformity is so great, that if we saw it we could not support the sight—though we spend our lives in sin, or in such frivolous occupations as certainly excite the pity of these blessed spirits—though we corrupt our best actions by numberless defects, they are never weary of our company.

Even after death, they visit us in purgatory, and render us in its flames very great consolations. Is not this to be our slaves? Where would we be able to find persons who would sacrifice their liberty so perfectly in the service of kings? O bounty of our God! the princes of paradise our slaves and servants! Well, indeed, did the holy Vincent of Caraffe say that the life of a Christian was a life of astonishment.

But the angels not only protect man, they also give their cares to everything that is destined for his service. According to St. Augustine, these blessed spirits preside over every animate and inanimate thing in this visible world.

The stars and the firmament have their angels—the fire, the air, the water, have their angels—kingdoms have their angels, as is seen in the Scriptures—provinces have their angels, for the angels who appeared to Jacob, says Genesis, were the guardians of the provinces through which he passed—towns and cities have their angels—altars, churches, nay, even particular families, have their angels.

Thus the world is full of angels, and it seems that the sweetness of divine Providence renders it necessary; for if, as some say, there be in the air so great a number of evil spirits, that if they were permitted to assume bodies, they would obscure the light of the sun, how could men be safe from their malicious arts, unless protected by the angels?

It is not for nothing that these blessed spirits are sent on earth. As each star has its peculiar influence, so each of the angels produces some particular good. We must be obdurate, indeed, if we are not touched by their services.

It is a great pity, that we seldom think but of sensible objects. In vain are we spoken to of spiritual things; we either understand them not, or forget them with facility. Whatever Eliseus might say to his servant of the protection of these blessed spirits, the poor man could not believe it, until God miraculously opened his eyes, and manifested them to him under visible forms.

If the same favor is not given to us, still have we not faith? and can we not behold with our interior eyes these amiable spirits, and acknowledge them as our greatest benefactors, and the faithful ministers of God alone, whom we adore, who is admirable in all His works, and deserves for them eternal, everlasting praise?

The Glories of the Catholic Church -The Catholic Christian Instructed in Defense of His Faith
A Complete Exposition of the Catholic Doctrine, Together With A Full Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass Including the Triumphs of the Church in Every Age
The Ret. Henry A. Brann D. D.
1895


“Monstra Te Esse Matrem”

Child of Mary“Show Thyself A Mother.”

Mary made it constantly the business of her life to labour for the end for which God had created her. In her parents’ house, in that of Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in Egypt, upon Calvary, always humble, recollected, modest, pious, she had but one view: the glory and love of her divine Son. Child of Mary, walk in the footsteps of your Mother; appreciate as she did according to their just value, all the perfidious joys and the false enjoyments of the world; seek and desire one thing only: to love God, and to serve Him faithfully all your days.

May Your Immaculate Heart, 0 Mary, be praised, blessed, honored, loved, and imitated, throughout the whole world.

THE CHILD’S MONTH OF MARY
BY AN UNWORTHY CHILD OF MARY.
1851


Rachel Weeps – A Mother Wins Case to Kill Her Disabled Daughter

The Massacre of the Innocents Francois-Joseph Navez 1824  A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Mt:2:18)

In a statement given to a judge explaining why her daughter should no longer suffer, Charlotte said her daughter longed for peace.

After reading the heartbreaking words Justice Eleanor King at the High Court of Justice granted the request and Nancy died in hospital.

The ruling sets a precedent as it is the first time a child breathing on their own, not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness, has been allowed to die.

In her summing up the judge said Charlotte’s love for her daughter is apparent and she had “great admiration” for her devotion to Nancy.

“The last day was the hardest of my life. It was absolutely horrifying. I miss my beautiful girl every day and although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn’t have to be a mother’s decision to end their child’s life; doctors should be able to take that away from you.”

Nancy

Nancy died on 21 August after doctors withdrew food and fluids


Mary, The Consoler Of the Afflicted

Comforter of the Afflicted

“Holy Mary, succor the wretched, encourage the faint-hearted, cheer the mournful.” (Antiphon of the “Magnificat” in the First Vespers of the Office of Our Lady.)

Affliction, the inseparable associate of man during his earthly pilgrimage, is the natural consequence of the ills that befall us, either from within or from without. Bereavement, loss of fortune, calumny, malpractices designed against us, are so many causes of exterior affliction. Sickness, temptation, trouble, and, above all, the thought of having offended God by sin, and the danger we run of offending Him again—these and such like things give rise in us to interior sufferings.

Earthly goods are all insufficient to console us in the midst of so many evils. They may assuage our bitterness in part, but when all is said and done, they leave nought but an aching in our hearts, and are powerless to fortify us against fresh miseries.

As an offset against the ills of life, the infinite goodness of God has prepared for us, in the ever present aid of the most Holy Virgin, a copious source of consolation, for which indeed we ought to be grateful. It is enough to have recourse to this Mother of mercy, to be assured of receiving from her a prompt relief in the pains of life, a balm for the wounded heart, a comfort in the woes and calamities which overwhelm us.

Just as Jesus Christ invited us to seek our consolation in Him, when He said: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you,” (Mt:11:28) thus also Mary holds out to us, in the midst of the sorrows of this life, the most soothing comfort: “Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.” (Eccl:24:26)

Mary’s power to comfort the wretched arises mainly from this, that she above all others has known sorrow. As the inseparable companion of Jesus, during the thirty-three years of His mortal life, Mary partook of all His sufferings. With Him she felt the pinch of poverty, experiencing all manner of privations. The reproaches of them that reproached Jesus fell also upon her; (Ps:69:9) and when the disciples forsook their Divine Master one by one, Mary followed Him faithfully even to Calvary, there to drink with Him to the dregs His bitter chalice.

Even after the Saviour had ended His mortal life of labor and toil, Mary continued to live on and suffer, until it pleased God to call her to Himself.

Mary’s faith and constancy joined with her inviolable attachment to the teachings of her Son are in themselves a source of consolation to us. For, this divine Mother teaches us, by her example, never to despair of divine assistance. She animates us to persevere in our good undertakings, whatever difficulties may oppose us. By obtaining for us, through her mediation, a large share in the virtue of the cross, she changes our sorrows into liveliest joys, as formerly the wood pointed out by God to Moses changed the bitter waters of the desert into sweet. (Ex:15:25)

If we have recourse to Mary in time of affliction, not only shall we receive from her consolation in our pains, but we shall also learn by her example to value at their proper worth the crosses wherewith Our Lord is pleased to visit us.

The time of suffering is by far the most precious time of this life; for it is then that the opportunity comes of practicing the highest virtues. These virtues are: faith in the wise ordering of Divine Providence, trust in the assistance of Heaven, and charity, both toward God, who allows us to be afflicted, and toward our neighbor, who may perhaps be the cause of our sufferings. The time of afflictions is then most precious, though we, alas! oftentimes value it at so low a rate. “If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.” (Lk:19:42)

Beware, O my soul, of ever murmuring or losing patience. Bear all things with peace and joy, in company with Jesus Crucified and His sorrowing Mother. Recall to mind these comforting words of Our Saviour: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Mt:5:5)

O most Holy Virgin, who art fitly called the Consoler of the Afflicted, obtain for me of Jesus Christ thy Son, the grace never to lose heart in the day of trouble, and to seek no comfort but in Jesus and thyself. Grant that I may ever have confidence in thy maternal heart pierced with the sword of sorrow, and that I may find therein my true and only consolation. Amen.

FLOWER OF PARADISE
-CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN
FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M.
1922


In Reasoning Pride, Our Error Lies

Karlskirche Frescos

Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall. — Prov, 16: 18

Pride is an inordinate esteem and love for one’s self, whose effect is to regard ourselves above all others, and to refer everything to ourselves, and nothing to God. Pride is offensive to God in that we give glory to ourselves for His gifts, instead of glorifying Him. Hence spring vanity and the inordinate desire for esteem and praise.—— St. John Baptist de la Salle

The proud man is like one tormented with a painful abscess; you cannot touch it with the end of a finger without extorting cries of pain.——Idem

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” —C.S. Lewis

He that is proud eats up himself; pride is his glass, his trumpet, his chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, drowns the deed in the praise. — Shakespeare.

Of all the causes which conspire to blind man’s erring judgment, and mislead the mind, what the weak head with strongest bias rules, is pride — that never failing vice of fools. — Alexander Pope.

“You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.” —St. Vincent de Paul

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. —Saint Augustine

Humility is the only thing that no devil can imitate. — St John Climacus

In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies;
All quit their sphere and rush into the skies;
Pride still is aiming at the blessed abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods,
Aspiring to be gods, the angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel;
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause. — Alexander Pope

Climb not too high, lest the fall be the greater. — A Good Old Axiom.


Our Lord Jesus Christ The King

Kingship of Christ

And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. (Ps:72:8)

Jesus Christ Our Lord should reign over individuals as well as over households. However, this is not all: He must reign also over society at large, for the Father has promised to give him “the nations for His inheritance.” (Ps: 2:8) These, in fact, are the words which the prophet David, when raised on the wings of contemplation even unto the counsels of the Holy Trinity, heard proffered by the eternal Father to the Divine Word made man.

Jesus Christ was therefore constituted and proclaimed King of the Universe by the Father. But if He is a King, regal honors are due to Him; and hence Holy Church desires all Christian nations to offer Him those signs of public honor and worship which befit the King of kings and Lord of lords.

In these last unfortunate years the devil, the sworn adversary of the reign of Jesus over souls, has sought more than ever to banish this Divine King from society. By means of his evil followers, he strives to bring back the world to paganism or at least to naturalism, inspiring men with the spirit of revolt: “We will not have this man to reign over us. (Lk: 19:14) But we Christians, who love the reign of this Divine Sovereign and desire to extend it still further, will answer His adversaries with one voice : “ We will have God for our Father, we will have God for our King.”

It may be asked what sort of honor should be given to Jesus Christ by society. We answer briefly: we should first honor Him in his holy cross; and secondly in public prayer and adoration.

The cross is the glorious banner of our King, Jesus Christ. (1)  It should be raised everywhere, because everywhere there are souls subject to Him. As we desire that society should return under the scepter of Our Redeemer, so also do we wish to see this adorable sign everywhere surrounded by love, respect and veneration.

(1) It is called thus in the liturgy of the Church. Hymn at Vespers on Passion Sunday

We wish to see it on the crowns of Kings and Princes, because even royal heads must bow to Jesus; on the facades of Houses of Parliament and Town Halls, so that the most vital interests of the nation may be seen by all to be placed under the protection of that holy symbol under which alone flourish justice and peace. We wish, too, that the cross should be erected in cemeteries, so that it may stretch its loving arms over the bowers of our dear ones. We wish to see it tower on the glittering summits of mountains, as a sign that Jesus rules over the whole world.

This sacred emblem is a profession of our faith and a protest against that lack of supernatural belief which threatens to corrupt the whole of society. With the spread of Christianity, this symbol of peace, love and sacrifice was erected everywhere: our forefathers who grasped its marvelous power and sublime significance wished every public monument to be adorned with it. But now an infernal tempest has arisen which well nigh is driving it out of modern society. Oh, let this holy symbol be put up again, not only on the altars of our churches, as a pledge of the bloodless Sacrifice which is unceasingly offered, but also on the arches of palaces, to recall the great of this world to virtue, and on the humble cottages of the poor, to teach them patience and resignation.

Herein falls an opportunity of mentioning the Confraternity of the Most Holy Cross, founded in the Middle Ages under the influence of that apostle of Jesus crucified, St. Philip Benizi. This Confraternity has produced signal fruits of sanctification in the course of ages. It is desirable that it should spread throughout the world to hasten the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

To Jesus, King of society, the homage of public praise and worship should also be offered. For it is not enough that individual Christians should raise their minds to the adorable Sovereign of our hearts in their homes or in church only. It is needful more over that the whole of society, led by its representatives, should bow before Him, and recognize Him as supremely their King and Sovereign. A prayer should be raised to our divine Lord before every social act that He may deign to protect and bless the whole nation and whatsoever is done to promote its welfare. It is not enough that men should be Christians in their private life only. Members of Parliament, heads of Municipalities, the ruler of the nation, must be Christians too, and openly so. For cities, counties and nations are all subject to the jurisdiction of Jesus Christ who has received power to its fullest extent from His divine Father. This power He possesses in all its manifestations, the power to rule and govern; the power to legislate and the power to judge. (Mt: 28:18)

In the first place those appointed to rule over cities or nations should put themselves under the guidance of Jesus Christ in all that concerns their office of governing others. They should order their actions so as to fulfill their obligations according to the maxims of the Gospel. If this is done, Jesus will reign effectively in Christian society. The Gospel, with that light of heavenly wisdom which irradiates its every page, should guide the leaders of this world. From that inspired book they will learn that the end to which society is destined is none other than eternal happiness, in pursuance of that great maxim: “Seek ye there fore first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt: 6:33)

Accordingly, the heads of society will behave themselves in all that concerns their offices as good and convinced Christians, seeking not only natural happiness, but above all that which is supernatural. Thus shall they make their people happy even in this life, for it is a law of God that grace does not destroy, but perfects, nature. There are eloquent proofs of this in those countries which are informed by Christian faith and enjoy not only the life of the soul but that of material prosperity as well. And who would not call that people blessed whose ruler, brought up in the school of Jesus Christ, governs his subjects in the spirit of meekness, charity and justice?

Those in power not only must derive inspiration from the rules laid down by Jesus Christ, but they must also see that the laws enacted for the good of society are derived from the commandments of God and the Church; of which there should to-day be a more open and detailed expression.

Nothing should be more sacred and august in a society than the laws by which it is governed. These laws bringing into harmony the mutual rights and duties of all members of the state, help to maintain that balance and right order which guards the liberty and assures the well-being of individuals and the nation. Now legislators must establish justice through Jesus (Prv: 8:15) and so it is natural that the power of enacting laws should fall under the divine authority of this amiable King and be based on the maxims of the Gospel.

Human laws if based on this immovable foundation, will become a pledge of happiness, a shield against foes, a ladder which leads safely to Heaven. A proof of this are those nations which flourished and prospered in the Middle Ages, under the guidance of an entirely Christian legislation drawn up in accordance with the maxims of the Gospel. On the other hand, what is more fickle, what is more inadequate, than a legislation which has no other basis than the will or caprice of men?

For; just as man s will is undependable and his aspirations are changeable, so laws of such a nature are made and unmade with equal facility. While they pretend, though even here they cannot succeed, to provide everything for this life, they end by being execrated by men who see themselves bitterly deluded in their aspirations..

To Jesus also, as King of human society, belongs the power to judge; that power, namely, which He displays in rewarding the good and punishing the evil. This power, properly speaking, belongs to God as supreme Lord and first Principle of all beings: but this same power the Father has delegated to Jesus Christ making Him, according to His Humanity, Judge of the living and the dead. (Acts: 10:42)

Now for judging rightly, three things are required: first, wisdom, which is the soul and form of judgment, for the judge should be as it were a living justice; secondly, zeal for what is right, so that he judge not for hate or envy, but for very love of justice; thirdly, the power of rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. Now Jesus Christ, as Man, first, is full of grace and truth ; besides, in Him all is holiness and righteousness and justice; finally, to Him was given all power in heaven and on earth.(Mt:28:18)

Nor of the judicial power of Jesus Christ can it be said (what is sometimes said of human justice) that it is terrifying to the poor and scorned by the rich. For the power of our divine Judge and Sovereign stretches equally over the whole universe, over men of every age and nation, and even over the angels. Over all men Jesus is appointed Judge because all are directed to eternal bliss and it is in His power to admit or reject them: over the angels, because they also receive through Him either an increase of glory or an accidental penalty.

From this we realize how misguided are they who fear more the false and vain criticism of this perverse world than the terrible judgments of our supreme Judge. At the lightning of His angry countenance, when the fatal sentence will be passed, they will realize, but too late, how baneful was their cowardice in refusing to follow the wise maxims of the Gospel, in not fearing and loving this just Judge, in not having recourse to Him to obtain mercy and pardon before the terrible day of the great account came to pass.

“Juste Judex ultionis, “Who just Judge of vengeance art,
Donum fac remissionis Thy forgiveness now impart,
Ante diem rationis.” Ere the accepted day depart.” (1)

Jesus Christ is therefore the Supreme King, Sovereign Lord of all societies; and as those who stand at the helm of nations have received power from Him to govern the people, to issue laws and to render justice; so there is no true authority or ruling power, legislative or judicial, which is not upheld and inspired by that of Jesus Christ.

It is useful to recall this truth in these our times when modern free-thought has made every effort to blot out this teaching, divesting princes of that halo which is a reflection of divine majesty; (2) and seeing in the origin, transmission and exercise of civil authority nothing but a simple expression of the will of the people. But not for all this has the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, laid down the power which He received from the Father over the nations of the earth: and the words of St. Paul remain forever: f In the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those that are in heaven, on earth and under the earth. (Phil: 2:10)

(1) Sequence in the Mass of the Dead.

2 In view of the grave errors which have arisen on the origin, nature and exercise of civil authority, it is well to be reminded of the celebrated Encyclical of Leo XIII: Diuturnum illud of June 29, 1881, in which this illustrious Pontiff establishes, against what some modern authors hold, the great principle that the right of governing, even in rulers popularly elected, is bestowed directly by God to whom belongs supreme and universal dominion: “Quo sane delectu (candidate rum) designantur principes, non conferuntur iura principatua.”

A striking instance of how the saints conceived the right of Jesus Christ to reign over society and over all nations is had in the beautiful episode that took place at the court of the king of France in the year 1429 shortly before the Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, saved that country from alien dominion and led Charles to Rheims, there to be solemnly crowned.

“Gentle Dauphin,” she asked him one day, in presence of the lords of the realm and of the nations, “will you promise to grant me what I shall ask you?” The king at first hesitated, but at last answered: “Certainly, Joan, ask me what you will.” “Gentle Dauphin,” she then said, “I ask you to give me your kingdom.” The king, stupefied at such a request, for a time remained silent. At last, however, bound by his promise and conquered by the super natural charm of Joan, he took his resolve: “Joan,” he said, “I give you my kingdom.”

But the Maid was not satisfied with these words, though uttered in the presence of many witnesses. She requested that a solemn act should be drawn up and signed by four royal notaries. This done, she looked at the king with a pitiful smile, saying: “There is the poorest of all the knights of France. I pity him.”

Being now herself sovereign and mistress of France, she did not stop here. Turning to the secretaries, “Write,” she said, “Joan gives the kingdom to Jesus Christ. And soon after: “Write again: Jesus gives the kingdom back to Charles.” (1)

Herein surely lies a great lesson. It implies that the kings of this world are but tributaries of Christ and it is their duty to give over to Him the scepter which they received either from their ancestors or by the election of the people. They should consider themselves as but the lieutenants of the King of kings, Jesus Christ. “They have called the people happy, that hath (the goods of this world): but happy is (only) that people whose God is the Lord.”  (Ps:144:15)

(1) This particular detail of the life of Joan of Arc is historically founded on the deposition of the Duke of Alencon in the “Proces” III, 19. See L. Delisle. Nouveau temoignage relatif d la Mission de Jeanne d Arc.

JESUS CHRIST THE KING OF OUR HEARTS
ELEVATIONS ON THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier,O.S.M
(1921)


St. Raphael Archangel -Medicine of God and His Healing Angel

Medicine of God and His Healing Angel, prince of the Guardian Angels and guide of travelers, promoter and protector of holy wedlock, — such are the gracious offices assigned in Holy Writ, according to the traditions of God’s chosen people and the Christians of the first centuries, to Raphael, Archangel; attracting us by his benignity, charming us, from the first age of Christian art to this present one, by the representations of his affable consideration for our humanity under its most engaging and its most pathetic aspects; for glorious as his presence must have been under all its manifestations, the glory was tempered to meet the fallen condition of our race.

Thus, while Michael was regarded by the Hebrews as the prince of the hosts of the Lord in heaven and on earth, to Raphael were committed those journeyings which make so significant a part of the story of God’s chosen people; going back even to the patriarch Abraham, who expresses this traditional belief in his instructions to the elder servant of his house who was over all that he had, when sending him to his own country, Ur of the Chaldees, to secure a wife for his son Isaac: ” The Lord God of heaven, who took me out of my father’s house and out of my native country, who spoke to me and swore to me, saying: To thy seed will 1 give this land; He will send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife for my son thence.” Again to Moses, setting forth on that journey of forty years through the desert: “Behold I send my angel before thee, to keep thee on thy journey and bring thee into the place which I have prepared”; and this promise was renewed immediately after the grievous fall of the Hebrews into idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai. Still again, when, the desert passed, Moses, making request of the King of Edom to pass through his country to their promised destination, says: “The Lord sent our angel who hath brought us out of Egypt.”

In none of these instances is the name of the angel given, but Raphael has been regarded in every age as the guide of the Israelites to the Promised Land; and it was in accordance with this tradition as held by the Hebrew people that his office as guide of travelers was brought out in the Book of Tobias. According to Archbishop Kenrick — who, we may say here, is quoted as authority throughout the Roman Breviary translated out of Latin into English by John, Marquis of  Bute — this book, named Tobias, was composed during the captivity of the Jews in Chaldee. Saint Jerome found a copy of it, which he translated from the Chaldean language into Latin with the aid of a Jew, who explained it to him in Hebrew. Hippolytus, a Roman of the early part of the third century, speaks of the prayer of Tobias and of Sara, and of the angel sent to heal them. It is also mentioned by Origen, who was a witness, so early as 254, to the belief of Christians; by Saint Basil in 379;  Saint Ambrose, 397;  Saint Jerome, 420;  and before 430 by Saint Augustine. The Book of Tobias is included in the Canon composed in the Council of Hippo, and also in the Third Council of Carthage, at which Saint Augustine was present.

Coming to the New Testament, and to the fifth chapter of Saint John, we have an account of the miracle performed by our Lord upon the paralytic, preceded by a detailed account of the same at a pool in Jerusalem called Probatica in Greek, signifying sheepfold, because near a sheep market; in Hebrew, Bethsaida, or fishing pool, with its five porches. “In these,” the evangelist tells us,” lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the stirring of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pool and the water was stirred. And he that went down first into the pond after the stirring of the water was cured of whatever infirmity he suffered.” The Angel of the Probatica is understood to be the Angel Raphael, as the Healing Angel, his name signifying, strictly, the ” Medicine of God”; and it is under this aspect that he is regarded as the patron of physicians — of all who practice the benevolent healing art; while this is emphasized in all its lovely circumstances by the narrative of Tobias.

archangel-raphael-with-tobias

Archangel Raphael with Tobias -Pietro Perugino

The devotional figures of Raphael often represent him in the dress of a pilgrim, girded, sandals on his feet, his hair bound with a fillet, the staff in his hand, and sometimes a water-bottle or a wallet slung from his belt. This, of course, indicates him as the Angel of the journey; but in other instances he carries a small casket, or box, in which is the gall or liver of the fish, as a protector against evil spirits, and also as a healing ointment, according to the angel’s directions to the young Tobias for the restoration of his father’s sight. He is thus represented in an exquisite picture by Pietro Perugino. His tunic is girded; his mantle, resting on one shoulder, is tucked under his belt; his left hand holds that of the young Tobias, while his right hand bears, with a gesture indicating advice or instruction, the casket with its precious ointment from the liver of the fish, taken at the very outset of their journey. The feet are unshod; all the draperies suggestive of peace; and the beautiful head — how can we describe it? The hair, parted on the forehead, falls in loose waves on the shoulders; the face is bent toward his young charge, their eyes upon each other, — in the Angel’s a look of the most tender, even solemn, solicitude, in the youth’s one of affectionate veneration; over the whole an air of angelic watchfulness, but also of angelic peace, which passes into the soul of him who meditates as he looks upon it; rich in its lessons of heavenly wisdom, consoling in its assurances of angelic love.

Bernardino Luini' Tobias

Tobias, with the Angel Raphael -Bernardino Luini (1482,-1532)

A charming composition gives us the return of Tobias, with the Angel Raphael, to his aged parents. In Bernardino Luini’s all the figures are half-length, but everything is told or suggested : the eager Anna pressing close to her returned son, devouring him with her happy eyes; the patient Tobias, patient in his blindness, both hands on his staff, listening to his beloved son, who is looking into his sightless eyes with tender compassion, while he tells the story of his journey, of the sojourn with their kinsman Raguel, — one hand laid on his breast, as if this recital were of the heart more than of the memory; while his left hand still holds that of his beloved guide, protector, friend, to whom he owes all the joy he is communicating to his dear ones, who have waited and watched so long for his coming.

And our Angel, our Raphael — his tunic is girded and tucked under his belt, as one who has fared swiftly on his way; one hand, as we have said, still in that of his young charge, the other raised slightly with a gesture as if every word spoken were his own, so lively is his sympathy, so personal his interest in every detail as it is related. The wings, unseen by those whom he has served, rise softly from his shoulders, over which the parted hair falls in beauty; the eyelids are lowered, as if he were still minding his charge; but on the lips is a gentle smile of satisfaction, remembering lovely things accomplished, — a smile such as only Luini or Leonardo da Vinci has ever left on paper or canvas. The gentleness of the joy, almost tearful, fills the heart with a gratitude which is called forth by heavenly favors, a sense of celestial benefactions.

Never has the fidelity of art to the Written Word, to the cherished oral traditions of thousands of years, been more beautifully exemplified than in the masterpieces we have cited; inspired as they have been by Raphael, that most gracious, most amiable of Archangels. “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”

The Three Archangels and the Guardian Angels in Art
Eliza Allen Starr (1899)


Signs of the Times

… But he answered and said to them: When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.
And in the morning: Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times? (Mt:16:2-3)

Originally broadcast in 1954


Sacrament of Penance -Change of Mind and Heart and Life

Sacrament of Penance

“To sin is not so great an evil as “to persevere in sinning. To sin is an unhappy consequence flowing from the frailty of man, and the corruption of human nature; but a perseverance in sin is truly diabolical, and merits the fatal punishment inflicted on devils.”
St. John Chrysostom

In Baptism, when it is duly received, all sin and its penalties are remitted. For those who have never afterwards been guilty of mortal sin this Sacrament would be sufficient. But with most of us, and especially with those who were baptized as infants, post-baptismal sin is both frequent and often most serious.

Grievous, or mortal sin cuts the soul off from God, destroys all grace, and renders the soul displeasing to God; and no works done in this state can be acceptable to Him. Since this is so, it is evident that the great majority of Christians would be lost through their forfeiture of baptismal grace if no remedy were provided. For the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is efficacious only in souls that are free from mortal sin, and therefore no benefit can be obtained from it by those who have lost the first grace. On this account our Blessed Lord, of His infinite love, has instituted in His Church the Sacrament of Penance as the means whereby all sin committed after Baptism may be remitted to those who are penitent.

Penitence, repentance, or penance (for the three words indicate one and the same thing) is the translation of the Greek word metanoia, which signifies a change of mind and heart and life, manifested by some external act. Penance is both a virtue and a Sacrament.

As a virtue it has existed since the time of Adam, for from the beginning of the world the virtue of penitence has worked among men. It is an interior disposition of the soul towards God, and from the beginning of the world the Holy Ghost, Whose office it is to “convince the world of sin” (S. John xvi. 8), has convinced sinners of their transgressions, converted them to penitence, and through penitence has made them Saints.

But while this virtue of penitence works also in the Christian Church, our Blessed Lord has added to it a Sacrament. He has taken the penitence which was working in the world before His Advent, and for us Christians has incorporated it in a visible sign by which He communicates forgiveness of sins, and the grace of penitence to those who seek it rightly.

This He did on that most solemn occasion when He first appeared to His assembled Apostles after His Resurrection. So desirous was He to impart to His Church this great gift by which man might be loosed from sin, that immediately after He had won the power of Absolution for the Church by His Death and Resurrection He bestowed it upon her. He had promised the gift before His Passion, when He said, ” Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven ” (S. Matt, xviii. 18). Then, having made satisfaction for the sin of all the world, He imparted the power of Absolution to His Apostles when He breathed on them, and said unto them, ” Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose so ever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose so ever sins ye retain, they are retained ” (S. John xx. 22, 23). A safeguard against self deceit regarding one’s spiritual state.

Thus we see that on the first Easter night Christ instituted the Sacrament of Penance, in order that men might have something more than their self-assurance on which to depend for the hope of Absolution. The Pharisee in the Temple said, “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are,” that is, he absolved himself. But that absolution was not ratified in Heaven. So it is with many now; they absolve themselves, they forget their sins and constantly deceive themselves with the idea that God also forgets them. No state can be more delusive or more fatal; and it is to guard us against this danger that our Lord instituted a Sacrament in which to assure us by a judicial act that we are absolved in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ, by one who is His authorized representative.

Catholic Faith and Practice – Volume 1
Alfred Garnett Mortimer – 1897