It is Our Lady, full of light, pure with the divine purity, who will take me by the hand to lead me into heaven - the realm of dazzling brightness.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
It is Our Lady, full of light, pure with the divine purity, who will take me by the hand to lead me into heaven - the realm of dazzling brightness.
Friday, March 30, 2007
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother" (John 19: 25).
Today we commemorate Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Lady. We shall try to imagine how she felt, the Most Sorrowful Mother when she stood at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. For she was Mother most admirable who has just lost her only child and the most admirable Son. She knew her child was incarnate love and beauty of God. With the last words on the Cross:"it is consummated" (John 19:30) Our Lady's sorrow became most severe. Our Lord offered St John to His most afflicted Mother. In place of Son of God she was given son of man. It was sorrowful and painful exchange as St Bernards says, for instead of Lord she was given servant, instead of Master she was given disciple, instead of Son of God she was given son of Zebedee, man in place of God. Was that only this man? In the person of St John she obtained all of us, sinful, carnal, and ungrateful people. Maybe she could depend on our love. But we rather follow the footsteps of Christ executioners and crucify Him again and again with our sins, and with Him we crucify His mother! Her sorrows was known even in Heaven:" Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies. "(Lam 1:2).
When we contribute to Our Lady's sorrows by sinning we become her enemies. Let us apologise and comfort her by meditating on her sorrows, on her heart pierced with seven swords, by praying the Litany or Seven Sorrows Chaplet. Do not leave her alone in this affliction! She will also help us in our needs. Let us follow the steps of Jesus' beloved disciple and do what he did: "the disciple took her to his own." (John 19:27)
Today's image is "Our Lady Sorrowful" - miraculous medieval painting from Franciscan Basilica in Cracow, Poland. With one left click the larger image can be viewed. It is worth to try! The image was crowned by His Eminence Archbishop of Cracow, Prince Jan Maurycy Pawel Cardinal Puzyna who on request of Austrian Emperor Franz Josef cast a veto ballot during papal conclave against sympathetic to Russia and her interests Msgr Mariano Rampolla, and although the veto was subsequently disregarded, however it contributed to the election of Pope St. Pius X.
....The sign by which we know that God is in us and that we are possessed by His love is that we receive not only patiently but gratefully whatever hurts us makes us suffer. Accept every trial, every vexation, every unpleasantness that happens in the light that radiates from the Cross. That is the way to please God and advance in the way of love.
You too are, so to speak, another humanity for Him in which you allow Him to suffer, as it were, as extension of His Passion: for your sufferings are truly supernatural. How many souls you will be able to save in this way! You practise the apostolate of suffering as well as that of action and I think the former is sure to draw many graces on the latter. The Cross is the patrimony of Carmel. The Master is treating you as His bride; He is giving you a share in His Cross. Suffering is something so great and so divine! It seems to me that if the Blessed in heaven could envy us anything, it would be that treasure. And it is such a powerful lever on the Heart of God! Besides, don't you find it a joy to have something to give to Him whom one loves?....let us lift the veil and follow Him who has disappeared high up into the regions of peace and light where suffering is transformed into love.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
ON A DARK NIGHT
INTO this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners—which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road— and begins to set them in the state of progressives—which is that of those who are already contemplatives—to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God. Wherefore, to the end that we may the better understand and explain what night is this through which the soul passes, and for what cause God sets it therein, it will be well here to touch first of all upon certain characteristics of beginners (which, although we treat them with all possible brevity, will not fail to be of service likewise to the beginners themselves), in order that, realizing the weakness of the state wherein they are, they may take courage, and may desire that God will bring them into this night, wherein the soul is strengthened and confirmed in the virtues, and made ready for the inestimable delights of the love of God. And, although we may tarry here for a time, it will not be for longer than is necessary, so that we may go on to speak at once of this dark night. 2. It must be known, then, that the soul, after it has been definitely converted to the service of God, is, as a rule, spiritually nurtured and caressed by God, even as is the tender child by its loving mother, who warms it with the heat of her bosom and nurtures it with sweet milk and soft and pleasant food, and carries it and caresses it in her arms; but, as the child grows bigger, the mother gradually ceases caressing it, and, hiding her tender love, puts bitter aloes upon her sweet breast, sets down the child from her arms and makes it walk upon its feet, so that it may lose the habits of a child and betake itself to more important and substantial occupations. The loving mother is like the grace of God, for, as soon as the soul is regenerated by its new warmth and fervour for the service of God, He treats it in the same way; He makes it to find spiritual milk, sweet and delectable, in all the things of God, without any labour of its own, and also great pleasure in spiritual exercises, for here God is giving to it the breast of His tender love, even as to a tender child. 3. Therefore, such a soul finds its delight in spending long periods— perchance whole nights—in prayer; penances are its pleasures; fasts its joys; and its consolations are to make use of the sacraments and to occupy itself in Divine things. In the which things spiritual persons (though taking part in them with great efficacy and persistence and using and treating them with great care) often find themselves, spiritually speaking, very weak and imperfect. For since they are moved to these things and to these spiritual exercises by the consolation and pleasure that they find in them, and since, too, they have not been prepared for them by the practice of earnest striving in the virtues, they have many faults and imperfections with respect to these spiritual actions of theirs; for, after all, any man's actions correspond to the habit of perfection attained by him. And, as these persons have not had the opportunity of acquiring the said habits of strength, they have necessarily to work like feebler children, feebly. In order that this may be seen more clearly, and likewise how much these beginners in the virtues lacks with respect to the works in which they so readily engage with the pleasure aforementioned, we shall describe it by reference to the seven capital sins, each in its turn, indicating some of the many imperfections which they have under each heading; wherein it will be clearly seen how like to children are these persons in all they do. And it will also be seen how many blessings the dark night of which we shall afterwards treat brings with it, since it cleanses the soul and purifies it from all these imperfections.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
A Carmelite is a soul who has gazed on Christ Crucified, who has seen Him offering Himself to His Father as a victim for souls; and entering into herself under this great vision of Christ's charity, she has understood the Passion of His Soul and desired to give herself as He did!
It seems to me that we must draw very close to the Master, commune with His soul, become identified with its every movement and then go forth as He did to do the will of the Father. The Contemplative is a being who lives in the radiance of the face of Christ, who enters into the mystery of God, not in the light that shines form human thought but in that shed by the world of the Word Incarnate.
The Contamplative is constantly covering the world with her co-redeeming prayer. This is what Our Lady did in the Cenacle. While the first Apostles went forth to labour and to die, Mary silent in prayer, accompanied them to all their battles for Christ.
after "Reflections - Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity from her writings".
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
As I cannot break from the world and live in solitude, give me at least solitude of heart....Solitude and silence are so precious.....I realise that one can enjoy interior solitude and silence, for what can distract a heart possessed by love? Noise reaches no further than the surface, deep down there is only Him! And He alone can satisfy our hearts....
Exterior silence is not the most necessary, in certain circumstances it is even impossible. The soul's resource is to take refuge within itself, in that interior solitude which alone is necessary for union with God. But outward silence must be sought as much as possible, because it helps interior silence and normally leads to it; the love of silence leads to the silence of love. God in me and I in Him, that is my life!....but for the vision, we always possess Him as the Blessed do in Heaven. How wonderful is this presence of God in us, in the inner sanctuary of one's soul! There we always find Him.....Let us try never to leave Him alone, so that our lives may be an unceasing prayer.
after "Reflections - Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity from her writings".
The Jews were very proud to be descendants of Abraham. But Jesus said to them: "If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham " (John 8:39). We are certainly proud to be adopted children of God through our Christian faith. We should live our lives up to the Heavenly Father's expectations. First sign of being God's child is the love of God's Word. St John Chrysostom says that listening eagerly to the word of God is the sure sign of predestination. There are several group of Christians. Some are notoriously bad at spiritual reading or listening attentively to sermons. Others listen to sermons only to criticise them or to find satisfaction in the speaker's pure rhetoric. We can learn a lot from every sermon, it depends on us, on our good will. Next sign of divine adoption is seeking God's glory. Our Lord said: "I honour my Father" (John 8:49), let us look at Jesus and follow Him closely. Among Our Lord's followers we shall not find those who are envious or honours seeking, those who are deeply disturbed by smallest contradiction. We shall not find there oversensitive people, who think the whole world should be attentive and deeply respectful to their needs and personal honours. Those who are tirelessly seeking for their own glory and praises are not there either. We owe all to God and to Him only belong the glory, praise and honour. We need always to do God's will, and for this end Our Lord gave us the example. For Him doing His Father's will was the best nourishment: "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, that I may perfect His work" (John 4:34). In particular when God's will was for Him to endure poverty, to bear ingratitude, slander, bitter Passion and horrible death on the Cross. Let us always remember this! Christianity does not end with the entry in the Church baptismal registry book. God wants us to act as Christans do. We need to prove our Christianity through the love of God's word, the zeal for God's glory and by doing and seeking His will always. We shall keep in mind Our Lord's admonition: "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 7:21).
Monday, March 26, 2007
This feast is so called from the announcement to the Blessed Virgin, by the archangel Gabriel, that she was to be the mother of the Messias. In the Introit of the Mass the Church refers to this high dignity of Mary's: "All the rich shall entreat thy countenance; after her shall virgins be brought to the King; her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing. My heart hath uttered a good word, I speak my works to the King."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
O God, Who didst please that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an angel, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant to Thy suppliants that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be blessed by her intercession with Thee. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Epistle: Isaias 7:10-15
In those days the Lord spoke to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that He may know to refuse the evil and to choose the good.
Instruction on the "Angelic Salutation" or "Hail Mary"
Why is this prayer called the "Hail Mary" or "Angelic Salutation"?
Because it begins with the words which the archangel Gabriel addressed to the Blessed Virgin when he announced to her that she should be the Mother of God.
Of what does the Angelic Salutation consist?
1. Of the words of the archangel Gabriel.
2. Of the words of Saint Elizabeth.
3. Of words which have been added thereto by the Catholic Church.
Which are the words of the archangel Gabriel?
"Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women."
What is the meaning of these words?
The words "Hail Mary" indicate that profound veneration for the Blessed Virgin which was felt by the archangel Gabriel, and which we, in imitation of his example, ought also to cherish.
The words "full of grace" remind us that God bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin greater graces than upon all men and angels together, and that not for herself alone, but for us also; they therefore encourage us to pray to Mary with fervor and confidence, that by her powerful intercession she will obtain for us the graces necessary for our salvation.
"The Lord is with thee" - these words express the peculiar complacency with which God has regarded her, on account of which He wrought in her special miracles of wisdom, omnipotence, and benignity. Let us rejoice with Mary over these prerogatives, and implore her to intercede for us, that God may be with us also, to sustain us by His almightiness, to govern us by His wisdom, to incite us to all that is good by the fire of His infinite love.
Finally, the words "Blessed art thou among women" are as much as to say: Thou art the happiest of all women, since thou alone of them all hast no stain of sin on thee; thou art chosen to be the Mother of God; thou shalt conceive Him by the Holy Ghost, and shalt bring Him forth without losing thy virginity. Thus it was that the angel saluted the most blessed Virgin, and yet there are men who are ashamed thus to salute Mary, and to give praise for the graces which God conferred upon her.
Which are the words of Elizabeth, and what do they mean?
"And blessed is the fruit of thy womb" - the word blessed is equivalent to praised. In saying these words, therefore, we desire that the fruit of Mary's womb, Jesus, may be worshipped and praised by all men.
Which are the words which the Catholic Church has added?
To the words "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" she has added "Jesus," in order thereby to explain them, and to indicate that this prayer is to be offered in the name of Jesus. Thereupon follow the words, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen."
What do these words mean?
With the words, "Holy Mary," we apply to her who is full of grace as our intercessor, and thereby are reminded to strive to imitate her holiness, if we would be sure of her intercession, and of being heard before God. We call her" Mother of God," because she brought forth Jesus, the Son-of God. Thereby we at the same time remind her that she is our mother also, and pray her to care for us as a mother j not as though we believed she could of herself help us, but with the design that she should offer to God her all-prevailing prayers for us, hence we say, "Pray for us", adding, "sinners." By these words we remind Mary of our misery, remind ourselves of our powerlessness for good, and of our guiltiness in the sight of God, praying her to procure for us the grace of God to do true penance, to acquire virtues, and to gain true peace, and that" now," inasmuch as at every moment, and throughout our whole life, we have so many dangers to meet, so many virtues to gain; "and at the hour of our death," that we may overcome the temptations of the last decisive hour, and stand complete victors before the throne of the eternal Judge. "Amen," so may it be, is, as it were, to repeat and make stronger the whole prayer.
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
At that time the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace: the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren; because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.
Salutation to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
Hail, Mary, full of grace! I rejoice, and give joy to thee, that thou hast been chosen the Mother of the Most High, and the queen of heaven and earth. With thee is the Father Who begot, from all eternity, Him Whom thou didst bring forth as God-man in time; with thee is the Son, Whom thou didst bear, in thy virginal womb; with thee is the Holy Ghost, overshadowed by Whose power thou didst become the Mother of the Redeemer of the world. Praised, therefore, be thou, thou blessed among women; thou daughter of the Most High; thou bride of the Holy Ghost; thou joy of heaven; thou ornament of the Church of God; thou honor of Christians. Oh, pray to God for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
after Goffine's Devout Instructions
Sunday, March 25, 2007
INTROIT Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man, for Thou art my God and my strength. Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles. (Ps. XLII. 1. 3.)
COLLECT We beseech Thee, Almighty God, graciously to look upon Thy family; that by Thy bounty it may be governed in body, and by Thy protection be guarded in mind. Through, &c.
EPISTLE (Heb. IX. 11-15.)
Brethren, Christ being come, a high-priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, by the Holy Ghost, offered himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore he is the Mediator of the new testament; that by means of his death, for the redemption of those trangressions which were under the former testament; they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
EXPLANATION St Paul here teaches, that Christ as the true high-priest of the New Testament, through His precious blood on the altar of the cross, has indeed rendered perfect satisfaction for sins, but that the sinner must also do his own part, by cooperating with Christ to make himself less unworthy of participating in His passion and merits, and to appropriate to himself its fruits. This is done when he diligently and devoutly assists at the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass, by which the fruits of the death on the cross are attributed to us; when, according to the will of the Church, he purifies his conscience by true contrition and confession; and when he seeks by trust in Christ's merits to render some satisfaction for his sins through voluntary penance and faithful following of Christ.
ASPIRATION Grant us, O meek Jesus, Thy grace, that through perfect sorrow for our sins and the exercise of good works we may become participators in the merits of Thy bitter passion.
GOSPEL (John VIII. 46-59)
At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: " The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God." The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered:
"I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me. But I seek not my own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you, if any-man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater than our Father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him; but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
Why did Christ ask the Jews, which of them should convince Him of sin?
To show us that he who would teach and punish others, should strive to be irreproachable himself; and to prove that He, being free from sin, was more than mere man, and therefore, the Messiah, the Son of God, as He repeatedly told the Jews, especially in this day's gospel, and substantiated by His great and numerous miracles.
Why did He say: He that is of God, heareth the words of God?
To prove that the Jews on account of their stubbornness and unbelief were not the children of God, but of the devil. "Therefore," St. Gregory says, "let every one when he hears the word of God, ask himself, of whom he is. Eternal truth demands that we be desirous of the heavenly fatherland, that we tame the desires of the flesh, be indifferent to the praises of the world, covet not our neighbor's goods, and give alms according to our means. Therefore examine yourself, and if you find in your heart this voice of God, then you will know that you are of God."
How and why did Christ defend Himself against those who slandered hate?
Only by denying with the greatest modesty the things with which they reproached Him, saying that He had not a devil, that He was not a Samaritan, because He honored His Father not in their manner, but in His own. In repelling this calumny while He left the rest unanswered, Christ removed all doubt in regard to His divine mission, thus vindicating the honor of God, and securing the salvation of man. Christ thus teaches us by His own conduct to defend ourselves only against those detractions and insults which endanger the honor of God and the salvation of man, and then to defend ourselves with all modesty; by no means however to do it, if they injure only our own good name, for we should leave the restoration of that to God, as exemplified by Christ, who knows better than we how to preserve and restore it.
How had Abraham seen Christ's day?
In spirit, that is, by divine revelation he foresaw the coming of Christ and rejoiced; also, he heard, by revelation from God, with the other just in Limbo, that Christ's coming had taken place, and derived the greatest comfort from it.
Why did Christ conceal Himself from the Jews, instead of taking vengeance?
Because the time of His death had not come; because He would show His meekness and patience and teach us that we should avoid our enemies rather than resist them or take vengeance on them; Christ wished to instruct us to avoid passionate and quarrelsome people, for it is an honor for a man, to separate from quarrels: but all fools are meddling with reproaches. (Prov. XX. 3.)
PETITION When thine enemies calumniated Thee, most meek Jesus, Thou didst answer them with tender words, and when they were about to stone Thee, Thou didst depart from them, whilst we can scarcely bear a hard word, and far from yielding to our neighbor, defend and avenge ourselves most passionately. Ah! pardon us our impatience, and grant us the grace to bear patiently the wrongs done us, and when necessary, answer with gentleness for Thy glory and the salvation of our neighbor.Text taken from "Church's year" by Rev. Leonard Goffine, after www.truecatholic.org
Saturday, March 24, 2007
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, andsaid, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The Roman Breviary, Second Nocturn Lessons - a Sermon by Venerable St. Bede, the Priest.
The Angel appeared to Zacharias in the sanctuary of the temple at the right side of the altar of incense. Which same was fitting, thus he appeared in the sanctuary because he came to proclaim sacrifice; and at the right side thereof, to indicate how joyous was the honour about to be bestowed on mankind by the heavenly gift. The right side is the side of honour, and therefore words indicating a position at the right hand are often used to signify an eternal good, and by the same token, to be at the left side doth sometimes signify only present good. As for example where the Book of Proverbs singeth thus in praise of wisdom: "Length of days in in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour". First of all the Angel comforteth the trembling Zacharias. "Fear not", saith he. For just as it is natural for human frailty to fear spiritual manifestations, so it is natural for Angels to comfort with good words the mortals that be in this wise fearful. Contrariwise, when the devil perceiveth that his audacious manifestations do frighten, he proceedeth to frighten as much as he can, and that with an increasing fearsomeness. There is no better way to overcome his workings than by a courageous faith. Next, the Angel saith that the prayer of Zacharias was heard, and then straightway promiseth that the wife of Zacharias should bear a child. We are not to understand that he had been praying for the birth of a son whilst he was offering the sacrifice according to the liturgy of that time, for we are told that he had given up hope of a son, and no one prayeth for that which he hath no hope of obtaining. Yea, so hopeless was he of ever having children of his own, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both now well stricken in years, that he did not even believe the Angel's promise. Therefore the words of the Angel: "Thy prayer is heard", refer to the redemption of the people, for which Zacharias had prayed in the pleading of the sacrifice. And the words: "Thy wife shall bear a son", do shew the manner of that redemption, for he addeth that the son of Zacharias shall go before the Redeemer as a herald, to make ready his way amongst the people. Thus, in this saying that the prayer of supplication offered by Zacharias was heard of God, the Angel showeth in what manner the people can be brought to salvation and perfection; namely, by repentance at the preaching of John, whereby they are to be led to faith in Christ. But Zacharias hesitateth because of the sublime things which have been promised. Wherefore he asketh for a sign, that he may believe, albeit the coming of the Angel and his words of promise ought to have been a sufficient sign. Hence he was stricken dumb as a just penalty for his slowness of belief: to be dumb was both a sign to stir him up to the faith which he sought, and the penance which he deserved for his unbelief. We may thus understand that if a man of earth had promised such things, it would be lawful to seek for a sign, but that when an Angel is sent from heaven to give God's promise, there should have been no occasion for doubt. And yet the Angel giveth the desired sign, so that he who spake from disbelief may learn from silence to believe. Note that the Angel saith: "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee these glad tidings". Doubtless when Angels come to us they fulfil this active and outward ministry in such a way that they yet do always remain in God's presence by contemplation. Wherefore, they stand in his presence even though they be sent from him on a mission. An Angel is a created spirit, and therefore hath many limitations. But God hath no limitations, and is everywhere. Thus when he sendeth his Angels from his presence, they yet do stand therein, for whithersoever they go on a mission, they go in him.
This Feast of the Archangel Gabriel was extended to the universal Church by Pope Benedict XV.
Previously we meditated on the invocations of Loreto Litany praising the mysteries of Virginal Mother, now we ponder the mysteries of Divine motherhood. This invocation says clearly that Mary's Son is the Son of God in accordance with Holy Scriptures testimony. Although the work of Creation is usually referred to God the Father, we know that each of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity have the same power, will, wisdom and goodness and participated equally in the Creation. That is why the Evangelist says about the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity: "All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. " (John 1:3). The Creator took His human nature from the Virgin Mary. St Peter Chrysologus exclaims in wonder: "Oh most Holy Mary, the Creator was born of you, from you came the source of all creation, God dwell in your womb!"
How powerful is the Immaculata! She can say to God: "You are my Child, and I am Your mother!" There we have a reason and explanation for over twenty Century long Catholics devotion to Mary. It is easy to understand why we pray to obtain through her mercy, grace, favours, consolation in sufferings, help in misery, forgiveness of sins, strength in temptation and happy death! Let us pray for her powerful and unfailing intercession for ourselves and for those in need - keeping in mind and heart what the Holy Catholic Church says through her: "He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord, but he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death. " (Proverbs 8:35)
Friday, March 23, 2007
"And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head" (John 19: 2).
This is the third Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. We meditate on Our Lord crowned with thorns. What does it mean? It means horrendous, inexplicable pain. Can we imagine what happens when finger length thorns are going deep into the head's skin pushed there by cruel hands of rude soldiers. Our Lord's head was soon covered with endless, bleeding wounds. We can see in our hearts these drops of blood streaming down the head and flowing into His eyes. This is the 'gratitude' returned to Him for His goodness and merciful love He manifested to all who ever met Him. "My people, what I have done to thee?" - He gently complains. Looking into these eyes covered with blood, we may find there some accusations for our sins.
Crowning with thorns was the most shameful and cruel penance. He was mocked, ridiculed, scoffed and sneered at by the bunch of drunk soldiers. Let us prostrate before the King of kings and Lord of lords with contrite and compassionate hearts and beg His mercy: "Oh Divine Head, most cruelly injured by dreadful thorns, bleeding, painful and ridiculed. Oh Divine Head, deserving to be adorned with utterly different crown and adored by all, I praise and glorify Thee!"
Our Lord did willfully penance for sins of impurity, intemperance, apostasy. Let us humbly pray for the grace to see forgotten sins we may need to repent of in confession: "The crown is fallen from our head woe to us, because we have sinned."(Lam 5:16). Let us make good and holy resolution to amend some faults or imperfections before Our suffering Lord: "And man when he was in honour did not understand; he is compared to senseless beasts, and is become like to them" (Ps 48:13)
Lamentations 3: 40
The devotional examination of conscience is quite distinct from that required as a proximate preparation for sacramental confession. If a Christian judges himself unworthy of receiving the Body of the Lord, he is to make himself worthy by obtaining pardon of his sins; and the means is provided for the purpose by Christ in the power He has given His ministers to remit sins. As discretion is to be used in remitting or retaining sins, the confession of the sinner is necessary and to confess his faults he must examine his conscience with proper diligence. By self-examination he intensifies his contrition and purpose of amendment in preparing for confession, the penitent is strictly to examine his conscience with such diligence as a prudent man ordinarily devotes to important business, but the impossible is not demanded. The more protracted his wanderings have been, the weaker the prodigal may have become to travel back to his Father, and the more help he may need to accomplish the task. When he has made some earnest efforts in this matter, the priest is to lend his assistance to perfect the work; as Vasquez and de Lugo remark, a prudent confessor can accomplish more with most penitents by a few questions than they themselves can by a long examination. Suarez takes notice that the Fathers of the Church have not taught any set system for such examinations. The ordinary method followed in the examination for confession is to consider in succession the Ten Commandments of God, the Commandments of the Church, the Seven Capital Sins, the duties of one's state of life, the nine ways of partaking in the sin of others. For persons who have led uniform life it will often suffice to recall where they have been, the persons with whom they have dealt, the duties or pursuits in which they have been engaged; how they have behaved on ordinary occasions -- as, for instance, when busied in their usual employment on working-days -- and on unusual occasions, such as Sundays and holidays.
As to the daily examination of conscience, two species must be distinguished, the general and the particular. The former aims at the correction of all kinds of faults, the latter at the avoidance of some particular fault or the acquisition of some particular virtue. For the general examination a good method is laid down by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his "Spiritual Exercises". It contains five points. In the first point we thank God for the benefits received; in the second we ask grace to know and correct our faults; in the third we pass in review the successive hours of the day, noting what faults we have committed in deed, word, thought, or omission; in the fourth we ask God's pardon; in the fifth we purpose amendment. Of the particular examination of conscience St. Ignatius is generally considered as the author, or at least as the first who reduced it to system and promoted its practice among the faithful. It concentrates one's attention on some one fault or virtue. On rising in the morning we resolve to avoid a certain fault during the day, or to perform certain acts of particular virtue. About noon we consider how often we have committed that fault, or practised that virtue; we mark the number in a booklet prepared for the purpose, and we renew our resolution for the rest of the day. At night we examine and mark again, and make resolutions for the following day. We thus act like careful businessmen who watch for a while a special portion of their mercantile transactions to see where losses come in or where greater gain may be secured. St. Ignatius further suggests that we impose upon ourselves some penance for every one of the faults committed and that we compare the numbers marked each time with those of the preceding day, the total sum at the end of the week with that of the preceding week, etc.
after Catholic Encyclopedia at www.newadvent.org
Daily examination of conscience
With regard to God
Do I pray enough, and when I do pray, do I give my full attention and reverence to my prayer?
Am I fully reverent in church? Do I distract others at prayer?
Do I pay proper attention to my daily prayers, even the small ones like Grace before Meals, prayer before class, etc.?
Do I use God's name outside of my prayers?
Are any of the jokes I tell lacking in reverence?
Am I making sufficient effort to get to know God better and give him the proper place in my life?
With regard to others
Am I unkind or cruel to others in thought, word or deed?
Do I harbour dislikes of other people, or envy them for something?
Am I thoughtful enough and helpful and patient with others?
Do I take away people's characters, telling stories, true or false, about them?
If I have taken away a person's character, have I tried to restore it?
Am I really obedient to those over me and the laws they make?
Do I spoil my obedience by being slow, unwilling or sulky about it?
Am I disrespectful towards my parents, elder brothers and sisters, teachers and those to whom I owe respect? Do I talk about them, when they are present or absent?
Do I give bad examples to others in any way?
Am I sufficiently thoughtful to those who need me in a special way - the sick, the old: do I play my part in helping people?
Do I obey the rules and laws of the school, office, country?
With regard to myself
Am I a show-off, conceited and proud?
Am I out for my own ends only - selfish, and sulky when I don't get my own way?
Do I keep myself fully occupied and therefore prevent temptation?
Am I greedy and ungenerous - thoughtless of others?
Am I angry or impatient with others, insufficiently controlled?
Have I deliberately thought or said anything impure or really vulgar?
Have I failed to stop reading something bad for me, or watching unsuitable TV?
Have any of my actions been in the slightest way impure?
Have I joined with others in sin, or given bad example?
Am I truthful in every way, or do I exaggerate to make myself bigger in the eyes of others? Have I cheated in any way, been dishonest?
Have I stolen anything or borrowed without permission?
Have I made restitution for anything I have taken in the past?
Am I a good companion to others?
Monday, March 19, 2007
chapter from the book "The Life and Glories of St Joseph" by TAN Books&Publishers, Inc.
WHATEVER God disposes is disposed in a marvelous and perfect order. Wherefore the Church which Jesus came to found on earth imitates the Heavenly Sion. As in Heaven there are angelic hierarchies, and in these ranks there are diverse orders, so also on earth there is a hierarchy of grace, and in that hierarchy are included various orders or ministries, which, according to the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, excel each other in proportion to their approximation to God. The highest of all these orders, whether angelic or human, is the order of the Hypostatic Union, in which is Christ Jesus, God and Man. By the Hypostatic Union is meant that the Eternal Son of God, in His Incarnation, assumed human nature, and united it to Himself in Personal unity; in other words, that in the one Divine Person of Jesus Christ, the two Natures, the Divine Nature and the Human Nature, ever distinct in themselves, became inseparably and eternally united.
If a wonderful order is displayed in all the works of nature, an order supremely perfect is displayed in all the works of grace, especially in the great work of the Incarnation. Among these orders of grace some precede the mystery of the Incarnation, others follow it. Among those which precede it the most remote is the order of the Patriarchs, chosen to prepare the progenitors of Jesus down to St. Joachim and St. Anne. To some of these, as to Abraham and to David, it was expressly revealed that of their blood and of their family, the Savior of men should be born into the world. The next is the Levitical and sacerdotal order, preordained by God to figure in all its rites the Priesthood of Jesus, His Church., His Sacraments, the Bloody sacrifice of the Cross, and the Unbloody Sacrifice of the Altar. The third is that of the Prophets, destined to foretell and announce to the world, so many centuries before the coming of Jesus, His Birth of a Virgin, His country, the place of His Nativity, His flight into Egypt, His Apostles, his preaching, miracles, His Passion and Death, his Resurrection and glorious Ascension into Heaven. Greater than all these Prophets was John the Baptist, because destined and preordained to be the immediate Precursor of Christ, and to point to Him as being actually present on the earth. These are the orders which under the Old Law preceded Jesus.
Others succeeded Him, and these are the various orders or ministries of Holy Church, which form the ecclesiastical hierarchy, beginning with the Apostles, who were to render to the whole earth and to all ages their solemn testimony to the Divinity of Jesus Christ; they were to announce all His Doctrine, His Law, His Sacraments; they were to found and spread His Church throughout the world, so that all might attain salvation. And, as the Apostolic order was nearer than any other to Jesus, even so, says St. Thomas Aquinas, did the Apostles receive greater grace than any other saint in the other orders of the Church.
Now, above all these orders rises supreme the order of the Hypostatic Union. All the other orders, including the angelic, are subordinate and subject to it; for this reason, that Jesus is the beginning, the author, and the head of this order, and on Jesus, as Sovereign Prince, depends every hierarchy, every sacred princedom in Heaven and on earth, since Jesus is the end of the whole law [Rom. 10:4] . . . Jesus is the sole and true source of salvation to all men. By faith in Him Who was to come all were saved who lived justly from Adam until His day; and all those who have lived and shall live justly since His coming have been and shall be saved by Him alone. . . all the various orders of grace circle, from Him alone receiving light, virtue and power to fulfill faithfully the holy offices to which they are ordained; and so much the greater or less grace and dignity do they receive as they are more or less approximated in their ministry to Jesus, the author of grace, just as one who is nearer to the fire participates more largely in its heat. It is clear, then, that the order of the Hypostatic Union transcends and surpasses the other subaltern orders, even as the sun transcends the inferior stars.
Now, Joseph by Divine predestination was placed in this sovereign order. Three only composed it—Jesus, Mary, Joseph. Jesus is true God and true Man; Mary is true Mother of God and Mother of men; Joseph is true spouse of Mary and putative father of Jesus. Jesus is the principal subject of the Incarnation, and the author of the Redemption of the world; Mary is the immediate co-operatrix and, so to say, the executrix of the Incarnation itself; Joseph, the faithful depository of these two most precious pledges, was to provide that this sublime mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption should be brought about with the greatest possible congruity, so that the honor of the Mother and of the God-Man, her Son, should remain intact.
That Joseph should be comprised in this supreme order is not a mere devout opinion or the fruit of pious meditation, it is a sure decision of the soundest theology. Suarez, that eminent theologian, after having spoken of the Order of the Apostles, upon which he said the greatest grace was conferred, goes on to say: "There are other ministries appertaining to the order of the Hypostatic Union, which in its kind is more perfect, as we affirmed of the dignity of the Mother of God, and in this order is constituted the ministry of St. Joseph; and, although it be in the lowest grade of it, nevertheless, in this respect, it surpasses all others, because it exists in a superior order!"  Thus spoke Suarez, the learned theologian of Granada, about three hundred years ago, when the opinion of the faithful respecting St. Joseph and the devotion due to him had not been so openly and generally displayed.
But the doctors who followed spoke still more clearly. Giovanni di Cartagena, contemporary of Bellarmine and Baronius, and very dear to Pope Pius V for his piety and science, out of the numerous learned homilies which he wrote, devoted thirteen to the praises of Joseph. After having spoken of the Apostolic order, he passes on to treat of the order of the Hypostatic Union, and says that in its kind it is more perfect than the other, and that in this order the first place is held by the Humanity of Christ, which is immediately united to the Person of the Word; the second place is held by the Blessed Virgin, who conceived and brought forth the Incarnate Word; the third place is held by St. Joseph, to whom was committed by God the special care, never given to any other, of feeding, nursing, educating, and protecting a God-made-man!  After Cartagena comes P. Giuseppe Antonio Patrignani, highly praised also by Benedict XIV, who, almost two centuries ago, wrote thus of St. Joseph: " He, as constituted head of the Family immediately belonging to the service of a God-Man, transcends in dignity all the other Saints; wherefore he is happily established in an order which is superior to all the other orders in the Church." 
We might adduce other doctors of high authority, but we will proceed to consider some of the legitimate consequences which flow from this doctrine.
1. It is an exceeding honor to Joseph "to be comprised in the same order wherein are Jesus Himself, the Son of God, the King of kings, and Mary, Mother of God and Queen of the universe, to be united with them in the closest relations, and enjoy their most entire confidence. The nobles of the earth deem themselves to be highly honored in being brought into near association with monarchs of renown, holding the foremost places in their courts, and being the most trusted in their councils. What, then, shall we say of Joseph, who, placed in the order of the Hypostatic Union, was destined by God, not only first in His court and the closest in His confidence, but even to be the reputed father of the King of kings; to be, not only the confidential friend, but the very spouse of the most exalted of all the empresses in the universe? Next to the Divine Maternity, no honor in the world is comparable with this.
2. To be comprised in the order of the Hypostatic Union implies being, after Jesus and Mary, superior to all the other Saints, both of the Old and the New Testament; and the reason is clear: for, this order being superior to all the other orders in the Church, it follows that whosoever has a place in this order, albeit in its lowest grade, as Joseph has, ranks before all who are even in the highest grade of a lower order, such as that of the Apostles, which is the most eminent among them.
3. It follows that Joseph is superior, not in nature, but in dignity, to the Angels themselves, since the orders of Angels are subject to the order of the Hypostatic Union, subject to Jesus, their King and their Head, subject to Mary, their Queen; hence, as the Apostle declares, when the Eternal Father sent His Divine Son upon earth He commanded all the Angels to adore Him.  And on account of Jesus the Angels became subject also to Mary and to Joseph: thus we find them hastening gladly to serve them, to warn them, to console them; and were they not sent expressly from Heaven to act as attendants on Joseph, at one time to assure him that his Spouse has conceived the Son of God Himself; at another to make known to him the plot of Herod, so that he might place the Virgin and her Divine Son in safety by flying into Egypt; and, again, to announce to him that now he may joyfully return into the land of Israel? 
4. We conclude that Joseph was comprehended in this order because he was truly the head and guardian of this Divine Family. To rule and govern this august family belonged of right to Jesus, who was God. Mary and Joseph, exalted as they were in dignity, were, nevertheless, only creatures; but Jesus willed to give an example of the most perfect humility. It was His will to magnify our Saint, and to concede to him this high glory, making him the head and guardian of His family; so that Joseph had rule and authority over the Son of God Himself and over the very Mother of the Son of God. And Joseph, being thus destined to be the head and guardian of Jesus, the head and guardian of Mary, became at the same time the patron and guardian of the Church, which is the spouse of Jesus and, in a manner, the daughter of Mary. Whence [St.] Pius IX, of blessed memory, in proclaiming Joseph Patron of the Church, did not so much confer a new title of honor upon him as affirm and declare this his most ancient prerogative, which had not before been so expressly promulgated by Holy Church.
5. It follows that Joseph was comprised in that order and in that family the highest representation which it is possible to conceive, inasmuch as he was made the very representative of the Divine Father, Who alone has the right to call Jesus His Son, having begotten Him from all eternity; and yet that same God, Who by the mouth of Isaias  protested that He would never give His glory to another, that God Who, in communicating to the Word and to the Holy Spirit His Divine essence, does not in any wise communicate to them His Divine paternity, was so generous to Joseph as to concede to him His glory, and communicate to him His name and His paternity; not actually, for that was impossible, but so that he should be in His place and stead, and should be called the father of Him who was the Divine Word, and that the Word Himself should call Joseph by the sweet name of father, so that he might with true joy appropriate to himself that passage in Holy Scripture:
"I will be to Him a father and He shall be to me a son!"  Herein we see manifested the great love of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity for our Saint and the confidence They reposed in him; for the Eternal Father committed wholly into his charge His well-beloved Son; the Divine Son delivered Himself entirely to his care and to his will; the Holy Spirit consigned and committed to him His most immaculate Spouse; so that this Holy Family, of which Joseph became the head, was another Triad on earth, a resplendent image of the Most Holy Triad in Heaven, the Ever-Blessed Trinity: Joseph representing the Eternal Father, Jesus representing and being in very truth the Eternal Word, and Mary representing the Eternal Love, the Holy Spirit. This thought is borrowed from the Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales. "We may say"—these are his words—"that the Holy Family was a Trinity on Earth, which in a certain way represented the Heavenly Trinity Itself." 
6. Finally, it follows that Joseph, in that he was comprised in that sublime order, superior to that of all the other Saints, must as a natural consequence have been predestined to receive greater gifts and graces than all the other Saints, that he might be made worthy to be so near to Jesus and Mary, and fitted to discharge most faithfully those high ministries to which he was elected. Hence the pious Bernardine de Bustis makes this bold assertion: "Since Joseph was to be the guardian, companion, and ruler of the Most Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, is it possible to conceive that God could have made a mistake in the choice of him? or that He could have permitted him to be deficient in any respect? or could have failed to make him most perfect?" The very idea would be the grossest of errors. When God selects anyone to perform some great work He bestows upon him every virtue needful for its accomplishment." 
Let us rejoice, then, with our most loving Patriarch that he has been exalted to so sublime an order, and has obtained such grace, power, and dignity as none other, after Jesus and Mary, has ever received, to the glory of God, Who made him so great, and for our profit and that of the whole Church.
image after http://www.acfp2000.com/St.%20Joseph/St.gif
Sunday, March 18, 2007
INTROIT Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her; rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. (Isai: LXVI. 10. 11.) I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. (Ps. CXXI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who justly suffer for our deeds may be relieved by the conso lation of Thy grace. Through etc.
EPISTLE (Gat. IV. 22-31.) Brethren, it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman and the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise: which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar: for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit, so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So, then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ hath made us free.
EXPLANATION It was the common custom, in the days of the patriarchs, for a man to have more than one wife. This was permitted by God, partly because they and their descendants would hardly have been satisfied with one marriage, (Matt. XIX. 8.) partly because bigamy was a means of promoting the increase of the people of Israel, typical of the future increase of the children of God. Thus Abraham had two wives, who had each a son; of these Ismael was born to Abraham from his bond-woman Agar, in the natural way; the other, Isaac, the son of the free wife Sara, was born in a supernatural manner according to the promise, (Gen. XVIII. 11. 14. ) that she by the grace of God, although aged, would give birth to a son. These two women with their sons were types, as St. Paul says, of the two Testaments: Agar the bond-woman typified the Old, Sara, the free-woman, the New Testament; the son of Agar, the Jews, the son of Sara, the Christians; for the Jews, like Ismael, are descendants of Abraham by natural descent, but the Christians, like Isaac, by grace. The Old Testament gave birth only to servants; for the Jews obeyed the commandments of God through fear of punishment, and in hope of temporal reward; the New Testament, the Jerusalem from above. that is, the Christian Church, gives birth to children who willingly and through love obey the commandments of God. Although the Christian Church, the New Jerusalem, chosen from heathenism, was in the beginning barren, as was Sara, she gives birth, by the grace of God and through His apostles, to more children than the Jewish Church, which was so long the Church of God, that is, more were converted to Christianity from the Gentiles than from the Jews. The latter even hated and persecuted the Christians, as did Ismael his brother Isaac. For their hardness of heart they were cast out by God, like Agar and her son; that is, after the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews were dispersed to all parts of the world. Let us, therefore, give thanks to God, that through Jesus we have become the free children of our heavenly Father, who through love fulfil His holy will by which we shall be saved.
ASPIRATION Give me the grace, O Jesus, that by prayer and fasting, and patience in all adversities and persecutions, I may be made less unworthy of Thy passion; that I may not, one day, be cast out by Thee, but become worthy of Thy divine promise and Thy eternal consolation in the heavenly Jerusalem.
GOSPEL (John VI. 1-15.) At that time, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down: in like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up, therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.
Why did Christ try St. Philip?
To test his faith and confidence; to instruct us that before seeking supernatural means, we should first look for natural ways of providing; that the miracle of the multiplying of the loaves should be more marvellous to the people from having seen there was no provision; and that we may learn to trust in God, who is a helper in due time in tribulation. (Ps. IX. 10.)
What signs did Christ make use of in this miracle, and why?
According to St. Matthew (XIV. 19.) He lifted up His eyes to heaven, by which He showed that all good gifts come from above; He gave thanks, thus teaching us to give thanks to God for all His blessings. "The table," says St. Chrysostom, "that is approached and is left with prayer will never know want, but the more richly yield its gifts." He blessed the bread showing us that the divine blessing increases all things.
Why did Christ require them to gather up the fragments that were left?
That they should not be wasted or destroyed; that the greatness of the miracle should be made evident by the quantity of the fragments; and that we might learn to honor the gifts of God, even the most insignificant, and if we do not ourselves need them, give them to the poor.
Why did Christ, after this miracle, flee from the people?
Because after this miracle the people recognized in him the Messiah, and would have made Him king. He wished to teach us to flee from praise and honor, and in all our actions seek not our own, but God's glory.
CONSOLATION IN POVERTY
This gospel gives the account of Christ providing for those who followed and listened to Him, which is indeed consoling for the poor. God from the beginning of the world has always cared for His own. For the aid and comfort of His chosen people in time of famine God sent Joseph, the son of the Patriarch Jacob, in advance into Egypt: (Gen. XLV. 5.) for forty years He fed the children of Israel in the desert with bread from heaven; (Deut. VIII. 2. 3.) He fed the Prophet Elias by a raven; (III Kings VII. 6.) and thought of Daniel in the lions' den. (Dan. XIV. 37.) In the New Testament God shows His merciful care for His own, because in great need He fed them marvelously through angels, men, and even animals, as we frequently see in the lives of the saints. Truly has David said: God forsakes not the just, I have been young, and am now old: and I have not seen the just forsaken, nor his seed seeking bread, (Ps. XXXVI. 25.) that is, one who sincerely serves Him, and seeks before all the kingdom o f God a n d His justice, as Christ commands. (Luke XII. 31.) Strive to be a faithful child, and you will have God for your father, and with King David you can cast your care upon the Lord, and He will sustain you. You must not think it is enough to pray and trust in God, He demands that you should use your strength to receive help, for if any man will not work, neither let him eat. (II Thess. III. 10.)
ASPIRATION In Thy omnipotence and goodness, O my God, I put my trust, firmly believing that if I fear Thee, serve Thee faithfully, and avoid evil, I shall not be abandoned in poverty, but receive many good things. Amen.
INSTRUCTION ON PREPARATION FOR EASTERI
Now the Pasch the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. (John VI. 4.)
If we would sing a joyful Alleluia with the Church on the festival of Easter, we must fulfill her desire, and prepare ourselves to celebrate it worthily. Therefore, we should shun improper, clamorous meetings, and retire often to pray in solitude, especially to meditate on the bitter sufferings of our Saviour, for when man is alone, God speaks to his heart. (Osee. II. 14.) We should carefully examine our conscience, and consider how we stand before God, for upon this day shall be the expiation for you, and the cleansing from all your sins: you shall be cleansed before the Lord; for it is a Sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls, that is, by fasting, watching, and praying. (Lev. XVI. 30-31.) From this Sunday until Easter we should fast more strictly, give more alms to the poor if we are able, or if poor ourselves, bear our poverty more patiently, offering it to Christ in union with His poverty, His hunger, thirst, &c. ; we should make a sincere and contrite confession, and purify our heart from the old leaven of iniquity, that we may keep the Easter meal with Christ in the unleavened bread of purity and truth. (I Cor. V. 7. 8.) For this end we should incite ourselves to holy desires, rise from sin, which is the death of the soul
The text is after www.truecathloic.org