Sunday, September 10, 2006

fragments from "Divine Instructions" by Fr Goffine

At the Introit of the Mass, join with the priest in awaking in your heart a fervent desire for heaven by these words: "Behold, O God, our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ; for better is one day in Thy courts above thousands. How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord"Ps lxxxiii

Preserve Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with perpetual mercy, and since without Thee mortal man goes astray, may we be ever withheld by Thy grace from what is hurtful, and directed to what is profitable. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

EPISTLE Gal. v. 16-24
Brethren: I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences.

What is to walk in the spirit?
It is, in all things, to follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit; and not merely to abstain from the works of the flesh, but rather to crucify the flesh and its lusts, and earnestly to aspire after those fruits which the Holy Spirit produces in men, such as charity, peace, and joy. So shall we belong to Christ, and become partakers of eternal life. It is not wonderful that while all Christians desire to belong to Christ, and to be heirs of His kingdom, they are unwilling to crucify the flesh with its vices and concupiscenses, and to destroy its lusts, as though they believed this to be required only for the clergy, whereas it is to all Christians that Christ says:"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me"? Matt. xvi. 24

GOSPEL Matt. vi. 24-33
No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.

What is meant by serving God?
Doing the will of God in all things which He requires of us, in whatever state of life we may be placed, and doing this with fidelity, with unwearied zeal, and out of love for Him.

Who are the two masters whom we cannot serve at the same time?
God and inordinate desire for wordly gain. One cannot serve both, because they demand things that are contradictory.

Who are they that serve mammon, or worldy wealth?
The avaricious, who, impelled by their longing for riches, offend God by manifold transgressions of His commandments.

Why does Christ refer us to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field?
To awaken in us confidence in Divine Providence. If God feeds the young ravens (Ps.cxlvi. 9) and the birds of the air; if He decks so beautifully the flowers of the field, how much more will He not care for men, who He has created after His own image, and adopted as His children.

Are we, then, to use no care or labour?
That by no means follows, from what has been said. The Saviour forbids only that anxiety, proceeding from little faith, which, in striving for a maintenance, neglects God's honour and commandments, and the good of one's soul. For the rest, God Himself has commanded man to labour (Gen. iii. 17-19); and St. Paul says, "If any man will not work, neither let him eat"(II Thess. iii.10)

What should preserve us from excessive anxiety?
A firm and living faith that God can and will help us. That He can is clear, because he is almighty; that He will is certain, for the reason that He is love - that he has promised it to us, more than once, most expressly, and that He is faithful in keeping His promises. Let us, then, trust in God, and daily renew our confidence in Him, particularly when we say the Creed, or when, in the Our Father, we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread"

Consolation in Poverty

In your misery and poverty, say often, with Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord"(Job i 21). Or seek comfort in these words: "We lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God and depart from all sin, and do that which is good" (Job iv. 23)

Warning against Usury
Usury is the mortal sin which takes advantage of our neighbour's poverty and need to extort from him what is justly his own. Would that userers might bear in mind what the Lord says: "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the less of his own soul?"(Matt. xvi. 26).

Today's image is engraving "Jesus preaching" by Rembrandt