The Sacraments

Advice of St Philip Neri To His Spiritual Children

1. Blessed are you, my children, who have time to do good.

2. Now is not the time for sleep; for Paradise was not made for cowards.

3. Children, keep up a cheerful temper. I will have no scruples or melancholy: only avoid sin.

4. Avoid inordinate mirth, because this roots up the little good which has been acquired.

5. You must not leave your devout exercises; but if you wish to recreate yourselves with a walk, let these be fulfilled, and then go.

6. Do not care to attempt too many devotions; but undertake a few, and persevere in them.

7. You must not look to becoming saints in four days, because perfection is acquired with great labor, and by degrees.

8. Do not have a fancy to be masters of spiritual matters and convert others, but attend to regulating yourself.

9. Children, mortify yourselves in small things, that you may afterwards be able the more easily to mortify yourselves in great things.

10. To choose your vocation, time is required, advice, and prayer.

11. To preserve chastity, it is an excellent prescription to discover your thoughts immediately to your confessor.

12. Do not nourish your body delicately; fly bad companions and evil communication.

13. Avoid idleness, especially during the hours after dinner; because it is at that time that the devil commonly makes his fiercest attacks.

14. Do not touch each other familiarly, not even in jest nor have private conversations with each other.

15. Have no familiarity with women, although they may be allied to you by relationship.

16. Do not trust yourselves whatever may be your experience, but fly every occasion.

17. Go often to confession, at least every eight days; and go to communion according to the advice of your confessor.

18. Be devout to Mary, because this is the best means of obtaining the grace of God.

19. Before choosing a confessor, recommend yourselves in prayer to God; but having once chosen, do not readily change without just cause.

20. When at confession, tell your worst sins first, that the devil may not tempt you to end by hiding them.

21. Take counsel always of your spiritual father, and recommend yourselves to the prayers of all.

22. Give yourselves always, and in all things, into the hands of your superiors; because obedience is a compendious way to acquire perfection.

23. Pray continually to the Lord, that He may grant you the gift of perseverance.

24. Endeavor to have God always before your eyes.

25. Never excuse yourselves when corrected; and keep yourselves from saying any thing in your own praise, even in jest.

26. Read, O my children, the lives of the Saints; hear sermons; and do not fail to practice the prayers and other exercises of the congregation; because they are very pleasing to the Divine majesty.

Children, in order not to fall into sin, keep profoundly engraved in your memories the three warnings given by a holy hermit to certain youths, and act according to them faithfully.

1st Warning. Fly the occasions of sin

2nd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.

3rd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.

Fly quickly, fly far, fly always.

Children, do you really desire to be saved! Then ever keep,

First, eternity in mind;

Secondly, God in your heart;

Thirdly, the world under your lee.

“This do and thou shalt live.” ( Lk:10:28)

Gate Of Heaven: Way Of The Child Of Mary
A Manual Of Prayers And Instructions,
Compiled From Approved Sources
For The Use Of Young Persons
(1879)

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O Beauty Ever Ancient

“He is a true and genuine Catholic, who loves the truth of God, his Church, and its members; who to his religion and his faith prefers nothing—not the authority of any man, not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy: but who, looking down upon these things, and firmly fixed in his belief, resolves to admit, and to adhere only to that, which from ancient times, he knows to have been universally received.”

“Never was it allowed, never is it allowed, never will it be allowed, to deliver any doctrine to the Catholic Christian, that has not been received; and it ever has been, is, and ever will be, a duty to anathematize those who introduce any novelty. Who, therefore, shall dare to preach what he has not received? who shall show himself so easy of belief, as to admit what the Church has not delivered? So taught the great Apostle. But I hear some vain men cry, and cry to Catholics: ‘under our authority, our rule, our exposition, condemn what you held, take up that which you condemned, reject your ancient belief, the doctrines of your Fathers, the institutes of your Elders, and embrace—what ?—I shudder to utter it.”

“Reflecting often on these things, I am astonished at the madness, the impiety, the lust of error in some men, who, not content with the Rule of Faith once delivered and received, are ever seeking for something new, and are ever anxious to add to religion, to change, or to take away; as if, what was once revealed, was not a celestial dogma, but a human institution, which, to be brought to perfection, required constant emendation, or rather correction. If novelty must be shunned, antiquity must be held fast: if novelty be profane, antiquity is sacred.”

  Saint Vincent of Lérins ;”Commonitorium” (434)

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Decorum in a Catholic Church

How awesome is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven. (Gn:28:17)

When you enter the church, go to your place as quietly as possible. Some people make a great deal of noise in getting to their seats. This is calculated to disturb the congregation, and is exceedingly unbecoming. The church is the temple of the living God, not merely because it is dedicated to his service, but because he dwells therein.

The very walls of it are sanctified. It is at all times holy and is therefore always to be entered with the respect due to the house of God. “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Do not walk up the aisles with an air of pride, such as the people of the world may put on in a ballroom. You may be regarded by the world as rich, intelligent, and accomplished; in the church, you are a poor, blind, and sinful being, and should come in all humility to implore the grace and mercy of God.

It is still more necessary to observe these rules, if you enter the church after Mass has commenced. If you happen to enter during the elevation or communion, kneel by the door, and remain there during those more solemn parts of the Mass; you can afterwards retire quietly to your place.

You should assist with attention at the holy Sacrifice. When you are not reading your prayer-book, keep your eyes fixed on the altar on which that adorable Sacrifice is offered, and never gaze around in the church.

Do not leave the church until the priest is retiring from the altar to the sacristy. Those who are the last to come to it, and the first to rush out of the church, seldom derive any benefit from Mass, and often do not hear it properly. The practice of all pious Catholics is, to spend some time after Mass in thanksgiving.

Do not remain standing before the church, as if you had no other object in coming than to see and be seen. If you have time before Mass, say the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross; employ the time in spiritual reading, or in adoring Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Remember what those who have gone before you in the faith endured that they might be present at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and reflect with what attention and piety they must have assisted at it. During the early persecutions, no churches could be built. The divine mysteries could not be celebrated anywhere in public. The faithful were compelled to go into subterranean vaults, called catacombs, where Mass was offered on the tombs of the martyrs. The candles we burn on our altars remind us of those days, and of the brightness of faith that made them days, not of mourning, but of joy.

To assist properly at Mass is one of the most important acts of the Christian life; and hence the Church declares it to be a mortal sin to neglect to hear Mass on Sundays or Holydays.

St. Joseph Manual:A Selection of Prayers For Public and Private Devotion
With Epistles and Gospels For Sundays and Holydays
Compiled From Approved Sources
Rev. James Fitton
1877


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