Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday of the Third Week of Lent


FRIDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN iv, 5-42.

(Jesus at Jacob s Well. The First Fall Under the Cross.)

At that time Jesus came to a city of Samaria which is called Sichai; near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob s well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith to her; Give Me to drink. For His disciples were gone into the city to buy meats. Then that Samaritan woman saith to Him: How dost Thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her: If thou didst know the gift of God, and Who He is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. The woman saith to Him: Sir, Thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou living water? Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst forever: but the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting. The woman saith to Him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw. Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly. The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore. Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe Me, that the hour cometh when you shall neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem adore the Father. You adore that which you know not; we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore Him. God is a spirit, and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith to Him: I know that the Messias cometh (Who is called Christ): therefore when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith to her: I am He Who am speaking with thee. And immediately His disciples came: and they wondered that He talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekest Thou, or why talkest Thou with her? The woman therefore left her water-pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men there: Come, and see a man Who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not He the Christ? They went there fore out of the city, and came unto Him. In the meantime the disciples prayed Him, saying: Rabbi, eat. But He said to them: I have meat to eat which you know not. The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought Him to eat? Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work. Do not you say, there are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries, for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathered fruit into life everlasting: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. For in this is the saying true: that it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth. I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labor: others have labored, and you have entered into their labors. Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: He told me all things whatsoever I have done. So when the Samaritans were come to Him, they desired Him that He would tarry there. And He abode there two days. And many more believed in Him because of His own word. And they said to the woman: We now believe, not for thy saying: for we our selves have heard Him, and know that this is in deed the Savior of the world.

This is a beautiful gospel, O Christian soul, from which you may learn the zeal of Jesus in winning souls for His heavenly Father, the attempts of sin ful souls to oppose our Savior and the meekness of our Redeemer in bearing: with the frailties of men. Admire the same zeal and the same meekness in your Redeemer, when you behold Him, laden with a heavy cross, enfeebled by an enormous loss of blood caused by the scourging and crowning with thorns, proceeding on that painful journey to Mt. Calvary and when you behold Him fall for the first time beneath the cross. Imitate His zeal, have patience with the frailties and failures of your fellow-men so that God may be merciful to you.

LET US PRAY.

Look down on our fasts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with merciful favor, that as we abstain from food in body, so we may fast from vice in mind, and that, by Thy first fall under the cross, we may be preserved from falling into grievous sin. Amen.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

THURSDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE iv, 38-44.

(The Son of God Performs Miracles, and the Savior carries His Cross.)

At that .time Jesus, rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever, and they besought Him for her. And standing over her, He commanded the fever, and it left her. And immediately rising, she ministered to them. And when the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them to Him. But He laying His hands on every one of them, healed them. And devils went out from many, crying out and saying: Thou art the Son of God. And rebuking them He suffered them not to speak, but they knew that He was Christ. And when it was day, going out He went into a desert place, and the multitudes sought Him : and they stayed Him that He should not depart from them. To whom He said: To other cities also I must preach the Kingdom of God: for therefore I am sent. And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

How many miracles has our divine Savior performed, and by them proven that He is the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world! Even the devils cried out saying: "Thou art the Son of God." But this faith did not help them, nor will your faith help you, O Christian soul, if it be dead, and if you do not confess it in word and deed, and render it by good works fruitful in the love of God. The mother-in-law of Simon was suffering an attack of severe illness, and she confessed her faith by patiently carrying her cross. And now they besought the Son of God for her. She became well, "and immediately rising, she ministered to them." She serves our Lord with equal fidelity in days of health and in days of illness; and she confesses Him as the Son of God by her faith, in word and in deed. She confesses Him not only when witnessing His divine miracles, but also when "bearing His own cross he went forth to that place which is called Calvary," for the purpose of satisfying the offended God, and of redeeming the world by His cross. With what zeal, with what willingness does your Savior take the cross upon His shoulders. Should not the remembrance of your Savior carrying the cross make it easier for you, in your sufferings and humiliations, when you are ill-treated and persecuted, to confess your faith in Him by patience and pious resignation, and to give an edifying example in time of illness as well as in days of health?

LET US PRAY

May Thy heavenly favor increase the number of Thy devoted people, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and make them ever servants of Thy commandments.

Divine Savior how hard it is for us to perceive our own misery. When our body is ill, we use every means to recover our health. But how little fear and anxiety do we show when our soul is afflicted with the disease of impatience, of pride, of sensuality, and of every form of sin. By Thy painful carrying of the cross, help us faithfully to confess Thy divinity by prayer and good works, whether we are in sickness or in health. Amen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent


WEDNESDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xv, 1-20.

(The Reproaches of the Pharisees; The Condemnation of Jesus.)

At that time there came to Jesus from Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees, saying: Why do Thy disciples transgress the traditions of the ancients? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answering, said to them: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition? For God said: Honor thy father and mother; and He that shall curse father or mother, let him die the death. But you say: Whosoever shall say to father or mother, the gift whatsoever proceeded! from me, shall profit thee; and he shall honor his father or his mother; and you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition. Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoreth Me with their lips: but their heart is far from Me. And in vain do they worship Me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men. And having called together the multitudes unto Him, He said to them: Hear ye and understand. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man: but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came His disciples, and said to Him: Dost Thou know that the Pharisees, when they hear this word, were scandalized? But He answering, said: Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. And Peter answering, said to Him: Expound to us this parable. But He said: Are you also yet without understanding? Do you not understand, that whatsoever entereth into the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy? But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands doth not defile a man.

How uncharitably and unjustly the Pharisees pass judgment on Jesus and His disciples! Because they eat their bread without first washing their hands, as was customary with the Jews, the Pharisees accuse them of a crime; but no thought is given by the Pharisees to any violation of the ten commandments. They looked only to the exterior, and they neglected the interior. Similar is the conduct of Christians of our own day who adorn the graves of their relatives with expensive flowers and costly ornaments, but neglect to pray for the departed souls which are perhaps tormented by the fires of purgatory.
Such is the worth, O Christian soul, of the judgment of men, the hypocrisy of the children of the world, who praise God with their lips, but not with their heart; they are blind and leaders of the blind. The fear of an earthly king outweighed in Pilate his fear of God. Contrary to his own conviction and his own sense of right and justice, Pilate condemns the innocent Savior. But immediately Pilate ordered the servant to bring a bowl of water with which he washed his hands before all the people, saying: "I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it." And the whole people answering, said: "His blood be upon us, and upon our children." And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. "Then therefore he delivered Him to be crucified." Terrible blindness, which chooses to please men rather than God, and which, on account of foolish human respect, drives souls into hell.

LET US PRAY.

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, instructed by wholesome fasting, and abstaining from dangerous vices, we may more easily obtain Thy favor.

No, Oh innocently condemned Savior, not the judgment of men, nor the fear of men shall direct us in our earthly career; but only the fear of Thy unalterable, eternal judgment, and the love of Thy holy and innocent Blood shall guide us, so that when it speaks, as St. Bernard says, with a voice like the sound of a trumpet on the last day, it may proclaim for us not damnation, but mercy and salvation. Amen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

TUESDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xviii, 15-22.

(Brotherly Correction and the Ecce Homo.)

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by My Father Who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter unto Him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.

In this gospel, so rich in content, Jesus speaks (i) of brotherly correction, (2) of the authority given to the apostles, (3) of the power of prayer, and (4) of reconciliation. Nothing seems to us harder to bear than a deserved correction. Such is the blindness of our self-love. Yet it is not only our duty, but it is always profitable and meritorious for us to receive or administer brotherly correction. However, it must be taken with humility and patience, and it must be given with prudence, meekness and brotherly love. As in all things, so here, too, our divine Savior is our best model. Never was a more severe correction and punishment given to sinners with greater patience, love, meekness and humility, than when Jesus, vested in His scarlet garment of mockery, His sacred flesh lacerated by the scourge, His sacred head streaming with blood and bowed down beneath the crown of thorns, lifted up His blood-filled eyes and gazed upon the surging mass of hateful, ungrateful Jews, while Pilate stand ing near Him, uttered those reproachful words, "Behold the Man," "Ecce Homo."
And you can look on silently when your fellow man gives scandal, when he disfigures the image of God in himself and in others. And you become angry when a sincere friend reminds you of your faults, and you can remain spiteful and unforgiving. Humble yourself before the "Ecce Homo," and tremble before the judgment of an angry God.

LET US PRAY.

Graciously hear us, O almighty and merciful God, and favorably grant us the gifts of whole some self denial.

Pain-laden Savior, grant us the grace to accept all deserved and undeserved corrections in Thy spirit of humility and patience: and give us also the grace to correct our brethren in the same loving manner as Thou didst correct them, when Thy sad picture of "Ecce Homo" seemed to say to all man kind: This I have done for you, what will you do for me? Amen.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

MONDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE iv, 23-30.

(Jesus in His Own City. He is Crowned with Thorns.)

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: Doubt less you will say to Me this similitude: Physician, heal Thyself: as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in Thy own country. And He said: Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth. And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger. And they rose up and thrust Him out of the city: and they brought Him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them, went His way.

What ill treatment the divine Physician of souls experiences in the city which He called with predilection His own! All His efforts were directed towards saving souls for eternal happiness and for God, their Creator. All His thoughts, all His speech, all His prayers, all His miracles had as their sole object the honor of God and the salvation of souls. And how did the favored inhabitants of Capharnaum appreciate these benefits? "And they rose up and thrust Him out of the city: and they brought Him to the brow of the hill, that they might cast Him down headlong." And a little later what is the conduct of the chosen people of God in Jerusalem, whom He loved, honored and blessed so much? "Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band: and stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about Him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him saying: Hail, King of the Jews. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His head."

Is it not true, O Christian soul, you were never so ungrateful towards your Savior ? But what do your sins of thought, your proud projects, your plans of vanity, of hatred, of revenge, of sensuality and of injustice testify? For these your Redeemer paid so dearly as He beheld you standing before Him during His crowning with thorns. Physician, heal thyself; and humbly entreat your thorn-crowned Savior for pardon and contrition, and for the necessary strength to keep your good resolutions.

LET US PRAY.

Pour forth, in Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that as we abstain from flesh, we may also rest in our senses from hurtful excesses.

Through Thy blood which was shed in the crowning with thorns, grant, O Jesus, that we may purify our hearts from all stain of evil thoughts and desires, that we may never cast Thee out of our hearts by consenting to evil temptations, and that we may always consider it shameful to be effeminate and refractory members of a body whose head is crowned with thorns. Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Third Sunday of Lent


THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xi, 14-28.

(The Dumb and Unclean Spirit. Jesus is Scourged.)

At that time Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: But some of them said: He casteth out devils, by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of Him a sign from heaven. But He seeing their thoughts said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against him self, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger man than he come upon him and overcome him: he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth. When the un clean spirit is gone out of man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than him self, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. And it came to pass: as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

Man is often dumb and his tongue is tied, when it is his duty to defend God s honor, to profess his faith, to correct his neighbor, or to accuse himself uprightly in confession. How is it with you, O Christian soul, in this respect? How often is your tongue misused for slander and calumniation, for violating the law of charity, for murmuring and complaining, for uttering angry, envious and immodest words? All of these sins are a source of joy for the unclean spirit. How many souls does the craft of Satan bring into eternal ruin through the misuse of the tongue; whereas Solomon says, in silence the heart finds time to instruct the mouth and to accustom the tongue to guide itself according to the rule of meekness, prudence and Christian charity.

How severely has your Savior expiated these sins by His cruel scourging. Contemplate Him as He shudders and trembles at the pillar, while the soldiers push Him about and divest Him of His clothing. Behold Him naked in boundless anxiety and shame to do penance for our immodesty; the blows of the whips and the curses of the soldiers in crease His pain beyond all measure. They beat Him until His most holy body becomes one wound, and looking upon His cruel executioners with eyes filled with blood He begs for mercy; but in vain. Can you, O Christian soul, with your many sins, bear this pitiful look of your Savior?

LET US PRAY.

We beseech Thee, Almighty God, regard the prayers of Thy humble servants, and stretch forth in our defense the right hand of Thy majesty.

O scourged God and Savior, in humble contrition for our sins, we thank Thee for the sufferings which Thou didst endure for us, through Thy awful scourging, and for the lesson Thou didst teach us through Thy miracle upon the dumb man. We beseech Thee for the grace to use our tongue always for the honor of Thy Father and for the benefit of our fellow men, and to treat our body as the temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday of the Second Week of lent

SATURDAY AFTER SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xv, 11-29.

(The Prodigal Son. Barabbas Preferred to Jesus.)

In that lime Jesus spoke this parable to the scribes and Pharisees: A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falls to me. And he divided unto them his substance. And not many days after, the younger son gathering all together, went abroad into a far country, and there wasted his substance, living riotously. And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country, and he began to be in want. And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger? I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: I am not now worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, I am not worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came out and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing: and he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. And he was angry and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is come to life again; he was lost and is found.

Reflect deeply, O Christian soul, on this gospel so suggestive in its contents. Consider the departure of the prodigal son, his misery, his return to his father’s house; and examine to what extent you resemble him in honor or in disgrace. Contemplate how the suffering Savior allows Himself to be placed beside a lost son of Israel, Barabbas, a murderer. Pilate, in his effort to set Jesus free, believed that the Jews, mindful of the benefits bestowed on them by Jesus, would certainly prefer Him to a murderer. But the lost sons of Juda exclaimed: "Away with Him, release unto us Barabbas." O unfathomable wickedness of men, and incomprehensible humility of a God who endures it! Have you, O Christian soul, never preferred earthly things to your Saviour?

LET US PRAY.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, a salutary effect to our fasts, that the chastisement of the flesh which we have taken upon us may promote the vigor of our souls.

How often, O divine Sufferer, have we imitated the prodigal son in his wanderings, and how often have we chosen the murderer of our souls in preference to Thee. Through the superabundance of Thy sufferings, we entreat Thee for the grace to resemble the prodigal son in his return and in his conversion; and grant us the grace to prefer Thee to all things, and to become worthy of Thy compassion and heavenly peace. Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday of the Second Week of Lent


FRIDAY AFTER THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xxi, 33-46.
(The Rejection of the Jews, and Jesus at the Holy Staircase.)
At that time Jesus spoke this parable to the multitude of the Jews and the chief priests. There was a man, a householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country. And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits thereof. And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants beat one and killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner. And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. And taking him they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen? They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season. Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders reject, the same is become the cornerstone? By the Lord this hath been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes. Therefore I say to you, that the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they knew that He spoke of them. And seeking to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitude: because they held Him as a prophet.

Christian soul, the gospel describes the horrible ingratitude of the Jews towards God and towards His messengers. It was this vice which caused Him to reject the chosen people. In fact there is nothing which is so detested by God and by men as ingratitude. God withdraws His grace from the ungrateful person, and leaves him in his misery, because his conceit forces God to hate him. Then the ingrate loses all taste for higher things, his zeal for God and for the salvation of his soul vanishes, and he is despised by God and by men.
Consider the ingratitude of the Jews towards their suffering Savior. Instead of having reverence for the son of the eternal Father Who be stowed on them so many favors, they lead Him from Herod back to Pilate. These two men were once enemies, but now they are friends united by the common bonds of ingratitude. The Jews drag Jesus up the holy staircase so roughly that He falls on the white marble steps and moistens them with the blood of His holy head. (This holy staircase is exhibited at the present day in Rome, and it is reverenced with the greatest devotion.) Is it a wonder that the kingdom of God should have been taken from this nation? But you, O Christian soul, reflect on your own ingratitude towards God; repent of it, and do penance for it, that a similar punishment may not befall you.
LET US PRAY.
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that, purified by the holy fast, we may celebrate the coming festival with pure hearts.
By Thy awful sufferings of body and soul, pardon, O Jesus, the ingratitude of our lives, and fill our hearts with the spirit of grateful love towards God and men; unworthy as we are, do not with draw Thy grace from us, as Thou never tired of dispensing Thy favors. Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

THURSDAY AFTER THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xvi, 19-31.

(The Rich Man and Lazarus; Herod and Jesus.)

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen: and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died; and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; and he cried and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between you and us there is fixed a great chaos; so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him to my father s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No Father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead.

The strikingly beautiful gospel which you have just heard, O Christian soul, contains within itself its best explanation. How true it is, as Abraham remarks to the glutton in hell, that the unbeliever who will not hear Moses and the prophets, or Jesus and His Church, would also not believe one rising from the dead. This is proven by Herod s conduct.

Before Herod s judgment seat, Jesus appears; Before the incestuous Herod, stands the innocent Jesus; before the murderer of prophets, stands the eternal Judge. Herod demanded signs and wonders: Jesus offers only divine silence. Then Herod places on Jesus in mockery a white garment, laughs at Him, upbraids Him, scoffs at Him, and flings filth at Him the Lazarus of the New Testament suffers all these insults to preserve us from the glutton s lot in hell, which we merit by our pride, vanity and gratification of the appetites. Christ even came back from the dead for Herod. Did he then believe? The profligate sinner died a horrible death. Before and after his time, how many damned souls, for whom Jesus shed His precious blood, are sharing the terrible lot of the rich glutton, hell with everlasting fire enkindled by the wrath of God, indescribable pains of every sort, the eternal loss of the sight of God and the joys of heaven, the torments of all the senses and the in sufferable company of the infernal spirits and the howling and gnashing of teeth of the damned raging in despair.
If you do not wish to fall into this abyss, O Christian soul, then avoid the sin of the glutton, and practice the virtues of Lazarus during the short days of your probation in this world.
LET US PRAY.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the help of Thy grace, that we, dutifully engaged in fasting and prayer, may be freed from all enemies of body and soul.
By Thy bitter passion and death, O Jesus, most patient Savior, preserve us from death in sin and from the awful punishment that follows it : the torments of hell. Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

WEDNESDAY AFTER THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xx, 17-28.

(Jesus Prophesies His Bitter Passion. Ambition of two Disciples. Jesus before Pilate.)

At that time: Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart, and said to them: Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death. And they shall deliver Him to the gentiles to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified, and the third day He shall rise again. Then came to Him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, adoring and asking something of Him. Who said to her: What wilt thou? She saith to Him: Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom. But Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They said to Him: We can. He saith to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink: but to sit on My right or left hand, is not Mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by My Father. And the ten hearing it were moved with indignation against the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Him, and said: You know that the princes of the gentiles lord it over them: and they that are the greater exercise power upon them. It shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister. And he that will be first among you, shall be your servant. Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a redemption for many.

What a contrast, Christian soul, between the loving Savior foretelling His bitter passion and the vanity of the mother and her sons! Certainly it would be praiseworthy for all mothers to wish to have their children placed near Jesus; but not for the sake of temporal advantages in an earthly kingdom, or from vanity, selfishness, pride and a spirit of worldliness.

Behold your Savior, O Christian soul; contemplate Jesus before Pilate, and admire the humility of His holy Mother. Jesus is led from Mt. Sion to the palace and tribunal of Pilate, the heathen governor, in the midst of false witnesses, exasperated Pharisees, soldiers and officials. And Jesus, the picture of misery, shivering, weakened by blows, is abused and derided. In this condition, Mary, His Mother, beholds Him, as she with John and Magdalene stand together in a corner of the judgment hall. Consider the glance, full of patience, humility and pain that is exchanged between Son and Mother. Now He stands before Pilate, the viceroy of the emperor. Pilate hears the accusations of the Jews; he is astonished at the dignity, the mildness, the patience and the humility of. the Redeemer; he recognizes and confesses the innocence of the Savior; but vanity, human respect and cowardice stifle the sense of justice, and he misuses Jesus for the sake of pleasing men. Truly "the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life a redemption for many," that is for all that believe in Him and follow Him.
LET US PRAY.

Mercifully regard Thy people, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and grant that we, whom Thou commandest to abstain from carnal food, may also cease from hurtful vices.
Preserve us, O loving Savior from the sins of vanity and pride, and grant us the grace of patience and humility that we may remain true to Thee in temptations, sufferings and persecutions, and that we may openly confess and honor Thee so that Thou mayest exalt us in eternal glory. Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

TUESDAY AFTER THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xxiii, 1-12.

(The Hypocrisy and Arrogance of the Pharisees and the Despair of the Traitor.)

At that time Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and unsupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders: but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first place at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplace, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi. For One is your master, and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth: for One is your father Who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for One is your master, Christ. He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

How severely does Jesus in the gospel punish the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, O Christian soul, and how strongly does He recommend obedience towards superiors, spiritual and secular, pastors, parents, teachers and masters. In fact all of these exercise their authority only in the name of that One, Who is your Master, your Father, your Teacher, and yet the servant of all. God rejects only hypocrisy, pride, disobedience, wilfulness and inordinate self-exaltation.
The saddest example of these vices and their terrible punishment is presented to you by Judas and the despair of this traitor. When he saw that his avarice, pride and hypocrisy had brought upon his Savior the sentence of death, he was seized with anxiety and sorrow; but it was too late, and despair overwhelmed him. He sees now the innocent Master and the scorn and pride of the Jews that misled him; his kiss of treachery stands before his soul; Satan so confuses his faculties that he no longer sees the merciful Redeemer, but the implacable Judge; he wanders through a marshy place to the foot of the Mountain of Scandal; with a rope he hangs himself on a tree, his body bursts and his entrails gush out of his traitorous corpse. So ends the unfortunate victim of the pride and hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, and the victim of his own unbridled passion.

LET US PRAY.

Graciously perfect in us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the spirit of holy obedience, that with Thy help we may be able to perform what, through Thy instruction, we recognize as our duty.

By Thy bitter passion, O Jesus, and by the severe pain which the sin and punishment of Judas caused Thy divine Heart, grant us the grace of humility, obedience, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice so that in all things we may promote Thy honor and the fulfilment of Thy will for time and eternity. Amen.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday of the Second Week of Lent

MONDAY AFTER SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. JOHN viii, 21-29.
(Divinity of Jesus. His Threat and the Obduracy of the Jews Jesus in Prison.)
At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: I go, and you shall seek Me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. The Jews therefore said: Will He kill Himself, because He said: Whither I go, you cannot come? And He said to them: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sin. They said therefore to Him: Who art Thou? Jesus said to them: Even what I told you from the beginning. Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But He that sent Me is true; and the things I have heard of Him, these same I speak in the world. And they understood not that He called God His Father. Jesus therefore said to them: When you shall have lifted up the son of Man, then shall you know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as the Father has taught Me, these things I speak: and He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone: for I do always the things that please Him.
Jesus declared His divinity solemnly and distinctly before the Jews. One would think that this dreadful threat of the Son of God: "I go, and you shall seek Me, and you shall die in your sin," that this would have penetrated the Jews to the very marrow of their bones, and that they would have been converted for fear of dying in the midst of their sins and of being punished for all eternity.
But behold, O Christian soul, the children of the world at the present day; they live according to the maxims of the world and despise the doctrines of Jesus and the Commandments of His Church,— yet they fondly expect a good death after a sinful life. Are they better than those Jews? Do you perhaps belong to their number? Ask yourself whether your sins are the result of human frailty and ignorance, or are they sins of malice. If they are committed with perfect knowledge and from bad habits, in grievous matters, and you do not correct them, then you will die in your sin.
Behold those Jews. Did they repent? A little later they confined Jesus in a small round vault under the courtroom. During the whole night they allowed Him no rest; they tied Him to a post and abused Him in the most atrocious way; meanwhile He prayed for His tormentors. Early in the morning Caiphas, Annas and the leaders of the Jews gather in a large hall around the poor maltreated Savior of mankind, and, despite the determined opposition of Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and the other friends of Jesus, they solemnly pronounce upon Him the sentence of death. Such is the result of obduracy in the sin of unbelief. "When you shall have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall you know that I am He," that is, the Son of God, your formidable Judge.
LET US PRAY.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that Thy family, who afflict their flesh by abstaining from food may likewise fast from sin by following righteousness.
O Jesus, through Thy bitter sufferings in the prison, preserve us from the punishment of blind perversion, from eternal death in sin, and from the prison of Thy dreadful judgment of the reprobate. Amen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Second Sunday of Lent

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xvii, 1-9.

(The Transfiguration of Jesus, and the Contrition of Peter.)

At that time: Jesus took unto Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun: and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud over shadowed them. And lo a voice out of the cloud saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face: and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: Arise and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

Our divine Savior manifested Himself to His disciples, Peter, James, and John as the Son of God to Whom this glory belongs; as the Savior Who merited this glory for Himself and for His faithful; and as the head of all the elect with whom He will share His glory. For this reason, O Christian soul, He requires that in this life you strive after this transfiguration by hoping for that glory, by despising all things that may hinder you from it, in other words, by the diligent practice of mortification and self-denial both of soul and body. As you have so often imitated Peter in his sin, so you should also imitate him in his contrition for sin. After Peter had denied Jesus, The Lord, turning, looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as He had said : Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going out wept bitterly. A single glance of Jesus moved the heart of Peter, and penetrated with sorrow he burst into tears. Jesus, your Savior, has perhaps looked deeply into your heart in His divine mercy and love by the voice of your parents, your pastor, your teacher, your confessor, or by means of inward admonitions and external events; and you perhaps have never repented of your sins out of love of Jesus as did Peter, or even out of fear of punishment, or from a consciousness of the shamefulness of your sins. In preparation for your Easter confession and communion, repent of your ingratitude, shun every sin, avoid the occasion of evil, and pray for the grace of true sorrow and compunction.
LET US PRAY.
O God, Who beholds us destitute of all strength, preserve us both inwardly and outwardly, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts.
Divine Savior, Jesus Christ, through the repentance of Thy penitent disciple, Peter, Grant us true and perfect contrition for our sins, that our souls may be transfigured here by Thy grace and hereafter by Thy glory. Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

SATURDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xvii, 1-9.

(The Transfiguration of Jesus and the Denial by Peter.)

At that time: Jesus took unto Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun: and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter, answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo a voice out of the clouds saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face: and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: Arise and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.

On a high mountain, O Christian soul, Jesus shows His disciples a reflection of His glory and magnificence. Not in the tumult of the world, but in the greatest solitude and retirement, will you become like unto Christ and reach eternal glory. But even in this world our Savior glorifies with inward peace, content, and holy consolation those souls that love Him sincerely, and out of love for Him avoid every sin and imperfection. However, in those moments of interior joy it is all the more necessary to distrust oneself lest he fall into sin. Just that disciple who delighted most in the transfiguration and displayed too much self confidence was permitted by our Lord to fall in the course of the bitter passion of Jesus. But Peter sat without in the court and there came to him a servant-maid saying: Thou also wast with Jesus, the Galilean. But he denied before them all, saying: I know not what thou sayest. And as she went out of the gate, another maid saw him, and she saith to them that were there: This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath: that I know not the man. And after a little while they came that stood by, and said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them: for even thy speech doth discover thee. Then he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus which He had said: Before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice. And going forth he wept bitterly.
O how often, Christian soul, have you acted like Peter. When you are successful, when you experience divine consolation and believe that you see a ray of the glorious transfiguration of your Savior, then you should be especially watchful over yourself and reflect humbly on the denial of our Lord by Peter.
LET US PRAY.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, look with favor upon Thy people and mercifully turn from them the scourge of Thy wrath.

Divine Savior, lead us unto Mt. Tabor or unto Mt. Calvary, but grant us the grace always to mistrust ourselves, to place all our confidence in Thy goodness, always to confess Thee faithfully and thus to attain the eternal transfiguration. Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday of the First Week of Lent

FRIDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN v, 1-15.

(Curing of a Man sick for Thirty-eight Years. Jesus before Caiphas.)

At that time there was a festival-day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered waiting for the coming of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under. And there was a certain man there, that had been eight-and-thirty years under his infirmity. Him when Jesus had seen lying, and knew that he had been now a long time, He saith to him: Wilt thou be made whole? The infirm man answered Him: Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pond. For whilst I am coming, another goes down before me. Jesus saith to him; Arise, take up thy bed and walk. And immediately the man was made whole; and he took up his bed and walked. And it was the Sabbath that day. The Jews therefore said to him that was healed: It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed. He answered them: He that made me whole, He said to me: Take up thy bed and walk. They asked him therefore: Who is that man who said to thee: Take up thy bed and walk? But he who was healed knew not who it was. For Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place. Afterwards Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him: Behold thou art made whole; sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee. The man went his way, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.

Christian soul, if you are living in a state of lukewarmness, you resemble the sick man in the gospel. For a long time the lukewarm Christian remains sick, and he has no zeal for the service of God and the welfare of his soul. Just as zealous as he is in the gratification of his sinful inclinations and passions, so lukewarm is he in the practice of virtue; he prays, but with no attention; he performs some good work perhaps, but with carelessness. He emerges, perhaps, from a state, which God compares with lukewarm water; but pleasure, selfishness, and vanity drag him back into the old condition: Only in the waters of virtue, of penance, and by the frequent and worthy reception of the sacraments can you be cured from this disease, O Christian soul, if you are lukewarm.


O what has the tepidity of so many souls cost our suffering Savior! Behold Him standing before Caiphas. Contemplate that bitter enemy of Jesus, the abuse of your Savior, the contradiction of the witnesses, and the indescribable, mute patience of your Lord; a silence which must make every lukewarm conscience tremble, when one recalls the words of Jesus: "Would that thou wert warm or cold, but because thou art lukewarm, I will spit thee out of my mouth."

LET US PRAY.

Be merciful, O Lord, to Thy people, and as Thou makest them devoted to Thee, mercifully refresh them with kind assistance.


Never permit us to fall into the sad state of lukewarmness, O suffering Jesus. As Thou didst the man that was sick for thirty-eight years, so convert all lukewarm souls to Thee, that we may all serve Thee zealously and that we may be always pleasing to Thee. Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Avviso

Please forgive the tardiness of today's post. I pulled a muscle in my back and it makes getting things done difficult. It is on the mend.

Also, please leave comments as to whether or not you find these meditations helpful for your lenten reflection and prayer. It would be helpful to know how you make use of them and how they have helped (please be specific). So far we have 34 readers and it would be great to hear from all of you!

Also, if you do find this blog helpful, please pass the address on to your friends and family.

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

THURSDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xv, 21-28.

(The Prayer and the Faith of the Woman of Canaan. Jesus before the Judgment Seat of Men.)

At that time; Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a woman of Canaan, who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to Him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; My daughter is grievously tormented by a devil. Who answered her not a word. And His disciples came and be sought Him, saying: Send her away, for she cries after us. And He answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But she came and adored Him, saying, Lord, help me. Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs. But she said: Yea, Lord, for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their master. Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt; and her daughter was cured from that hour.

With what reverence, with what love and confidence, O Christian soul, does the woman of Canaan beg our divine Savior for the cure of her daughter! With what faith and with what constancy does she persevere! And you cease to pray if God does not hear you immediately. Sometimes He wishes only to test and increase your fidelity. He often tarries so that you will prize more highly the favors that you are requesting.


Reflect on the long series of humiliations and sufferings which your Savior underwent out of love for you in His bitter passion, from Mt. Olivet to Golgotha! He could have diminished them, and shortened the time of His suffering. Contemplate Him before the miserable judgment-seat of men. Before Annas and his twenty-eight counselors, Jesus stands silent and with eyes cast down; only before the high-priest does He assert His dignity, and in consequence thereof He receives a shameful blow on the cheek. How he could have dashed to pieces the whole troop with one glance of His divine countenance! But with divine patience and meekness He listens to their wicked verdict : "He is guilty of death."

LET US PRAY.


Look, O Lord, upon the devotion of Thy people, that mortifying their bodies by fasting, their minds may be refreshed by good works.

Pardon, O God, through the patience and longsuffering of Thy divine Son, all the imperfections in our prayers since our childhood, and grant us the spirit of prayer, that we may always perform our devotions with attention, reverence, confidence and perseverance, and that we may always desire to be heard by Thee, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent


WEDNESDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xii, 38-50.
(The Judgment of Jesus upon the Pharisees, and His Mother and Brethren. The Seizure of Jesus.)
At that time some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Jesus, saying: Master, we would see a sign from Thee. Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights; So shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Solomon here. And when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none. Then he saith; I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he finds it empty, swept and garnished. Then he goes, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation. As He was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold His mother and His brethren stood without, seeking to speak to Him. And one said to Him: Behold Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without seeking Thee. But He answering him that told Him, said: Who is My mother, and who are My brethren? And stretching forth His hand towards His disciples, He said: Behold My mother and My brethren, For whosoever shall do the will of My Father, that is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother.

What a severe judgment Jesus pronounces on the scribes and Pharisees because they oppose the will of God, and blindly resist His wholesome admonitions! But he calls those His mother and brethren who fulfil the will of God. In fact, the conformity of our will to the will of God has great power over the heart of God, for this submission is the surest sign of love of God. But you also reign over your own heart, O Christian, when you will what God wills, because then you cannot be a slave of wicked propensities and evil passions. Even creatures, the elements, weather, health, sickness and all accidents cannot disturb your peace, if you will what God wills. Contemplate, O Christian soul, your Savior in His capture. He knew all that would happen to Him. He could have fled when the executioners helplessly fell to the ground at the sound of His voice saying: "I am He." The guard and the servants of the Jews seized Jesus and bound Him, all His disciples left Him and fled away. And Jesus willingly and quietly allows all this to happen, because in all things He desired to fulfil the will of His heavenly Father, to become for us a model and example.
LET US PRAY.
Mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and against all our adversaries, extend the right hand of Thy majesty.
Divine Savior, beloved Redeemer, we beseech Thee grant us the grace to imitate Thee in fulfilling the will of our heavenly Father in the smallest matters and at all times, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in good fortune and in adversity. Grant that we may never murmur against Thy divine decrees, or become impatient and despondent; and preserve us from the misfortune of unbelief, of obstinacy and despair. In all things, may Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

TUESDAY AFTER FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xxi:10-17.

(Money-changers and Merchants Driven out of the Temple. Jesus is Betrayed by Judas.)

At that time: When Jesus was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this? And the people said: This is Jesus, the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the chairs of them that sold doves, and He saith to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And there came to Him the blind, and the lame in the temple; and he healed them. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: Hosanna to the son of David; were moved with indignation, and said to Him: Hearest Thou what they say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise? And leaving them, He went out of the city into Bethania, and remained there.

Admire, O Christian soul, the power of the divinity of Jesus. Out of the temple He drives the profaners, and in the temple He heals the lame and the blind. The whole city is aroused, and innocence praises the Savior of the world. Only the rulers of the temple and the learned scribes remain obstinate in their pride, remain obdurate and full of envy and hatred. Later on in the person of Judas they find a companion in their godlessness, and he performs the atrocious act of treason for thirty pieces of silver. He, one of the twelve apostles, and with him a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, come to Mt. Olivet. The traitor gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He; hold Him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail Rabbi! And he kissed Him. And Jesus said to him; "Friend, whereto art thou come? Judas, with a kiss dost thou betray the Son of Man?" The Pharisees, and Judas, who betrayed our Savior by a kiss, the most expressive sign of love and reverence, did not fall suddenly into this depth of perversion and godlessness. The unrestrained passions of envy, avarice, and pride, brought them to this fall, as the same passions have done with hundreds and thousands in the history of the Church. One unworthy communion is an ungrateful insult, as grievous as the betrayal of Judas and his kiss of treason. Therefore, O Christian soul, do not trust in yourself, watch and pray, and with God s grace fight against your predominate passion; with the scourge of penance drive it out of the sacred temple of your soul.
LET US PRAY.
Look down upon Thy family, O Lord, and grant that while we chastise ourselves by mortifying the flesh, our minds may be inflamed with the love and desire of Thee; and grant that, after this short life, we may all gather in Thy temple of eternal glory and sing: Hosanna to the Son of David. Amen.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday of the First Week of Lent

MONDAY AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. MATT, xxv:31-46

(The Last Judgment and the Death-Sweat of Jesus on Mt. Olivet.)

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, there shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty. And all the nations shall be gathered together before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left. Then shall the King say to them that shall be on His right hand: Come ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger and you took Me in: naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer Him, saying: Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, and fed Thee? thirsty, and gave Thee to drink? and when did we see Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? or when did we see Thee sick or in prison, and come to Thee ? And the King answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me. Then He shall say to them also that shall be on the left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink: I was a stranger and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me. Then they also shall answer Him, saying: Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to Thee? He shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to Me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting.

You must be inspired with fear, Christian Soul, when you reflect upon this gospel. The eternal Judge, the eternal Light, will reveal in your particular judgment, and also in the general judgment, before all mankind, all your sinful thoughts, words, actions and omissions. All the immodest looks of your eyes, all the injustice of your hands, all the calumniating words of your mouth, all the uncleanness of your body all this you shall see also as clear as noonday in contrast with the innocence of Jesus Who suffered untold pains for you. But also the smallest good that you have thought, spoken, performed or suffered while in the state of grace and actuated by a good intention will not be forgotten, but will redound to your honor and shine in the brilliant majesty of the eternal Judge. O see that there be very little evil, and very much good to record in your life, so that you may occupy a place on the right hand of your Savior on judgment day. It all depends on you. As an angel from heaven came and comforted Jesus in His bloody sweat on Mt. Olives; so in your death-agony all your good works shall become for you angels of consolation pacifying the eternal Judge.

LET US PRAY.

Convert us, O God, our salvation, and that the fast of Lent may benefit us, instruct our minds with heavenly doctrine.

O Jesus, our only Judge, through Thy death-agony, have mercy on us and grant us the grace to repent of all the sins of our past life, and never more to offend Thee. Since Thou art infinitely good and dost not wish the death of a sinner, enable us to live a Godfearing life that we may be fit to appear before Thee, when we die, and when Thou wilt judge both the living and the dead. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Sunday of Lent

GOSPEL: ST. MATTHEW iv:1-11.

At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

As we have now entered upon the holy season of Lent, the Church most appropriately puts before us the gospel narrative of our Lord's fast of forty days in the desert. For this Lenten fast was instituted by the Church in commemoration of what is recorded in this day’s gospel in order that we might walk in the footsteps of Him Who came to give us an example how we ought to walk. But, my brethren, we must bear in mind that fasting is by no means the only thing which we have to consider at this holy season. The example of our divine Lord proves to us that it is also a time of retreat from the world, its conversation and amusements; that it is a time of preparation against the assaults of temptation. It is a most wonderful mystery that our Lord, Who is Holiness Itself, should have permitted Himself to be tempted by the evil spirit. But, my brethren, it was for our sakes that He did so, and for our consolation, in order to teach us how to conduct ourselves under temptation, how to prepare for it, and how to overcome it.

This, then, is the lesson which we are to derive from this Sunday’s gospel, and let us study it well; for, assuredly, there is not one amongst us who is exempt from temptation, and there is not one amongst us who can afford to despise this danger; seeing that the Son of God Himself, Who wished to be made like unto us in all things and to bear all our infirmities, consented even to be tempted by the evil one. Since no one, therefore, is exempt from temptation, let us always be on our guard against it. "Let him that thinks himself to stand, take heed lest he fall" (I Cor. X:12). What, then, is the example which we are to learn from our blessed Lord, as to the manner in which we should conduct ourselves under temptation?

We learn, in the first place, what kind of preparation we must make against temptation. We learn from His example that we must retire from the world; that we must mortify our flesh by fasting and works of penance; and that we must engage in prayer and meditation on the eternal truths. Hence, we must not suppose that we have done all that is required of us by merely complying with the law of the Church in corporeal abstinence; for this is, after all, but a means to an end; and that end is the discipline of the soul, and preparing it for the inevitable conflict with the powers of darkness. Consequently, to the exterior works of mortification, must be added the interior discipline of prayer and recollection of spirit, and retirement from the world, its amusements and occupations, as far as this lies in our power. Hence, we must guard ourselves from falling into an error which is very common. Those who are able to keep the law of fasting in its rigor, are apt to rest satisfied with this, without taking any pains to fulfill the other conditions which our Lord’s example proves to us to be necessary for the spiritual combat in which we are engaged. On the other hand, those whose bodily infirmity, or circumstances in life, exempt them from complying with this law, are apt to suppose that by being dispensed from the law of fasting, they are also dispensed from all works of mortification and spiritual discipline.

My dear brethren, how is this possible? If any one could be dispensed from temptation, from all those incentives to sin which we carry about with us, and which surround us on every side, then, perhaps, it would be conceivable that we might be dispensed from this spiritual discipline. But since, in point of fact, there is no one, whatever may be his station in life, his state of health, or circumstances, who is so exempt; it follows that no one is, or can be, exempt from the obligation of preparing for the assaults of temptation by such spiritual exercises as those of which our Lord gives us an example in this day’s gospel. Let us, then, consider the nature of those temptations, and how we ought to overcome them; and let us consider the subject by the light of this day’s gospel.

First, there are temptations of mistrust of God’s Providence. This is a very common kind of temptation, through which many are lost. The devil, by this means draws people away from the practice of their religious duties, by suggesting to them the necessity of making provision for themselves and their families. How many are led away by this suggestion, who forget that the God Whom we are bound to serve is able, and not only able, but has promised to provide for all our wants, both spiritual and temporal; and that it is the height of folly to imagine that we shall the better obtain what is requisite for our bodies, by neglecting the care of our souls, for which we ought to be chiefly solicitous. Let us, then, for the future, silence this crafty sugges- tion of the tempter, by telling him, as our Lord did, that our first care should be, not to labour for the bread that perishes, but to nourish our souls with the Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God, and which endures unto eternal life; that is to say, by conforming ourselves entirely to the Will of God; by keeping His Commandments; by strengthening ourselves in His grace, through the sacraments which He has provided for us.
Another temptation is equally common, though it is of an opposite kind to the other. The devil, who at one time tempts us to mistrust God’s providence, at another, tempts us to a misplaced confidence and presumption. He places us in some dangerous occasion, and bids us cast ourselves down, telling us that we have nothing to fear; as God will take care of us. This kind of temptation also causes the ruin of many souls. The drunkard, the profane swearer, the impure, the dishonest, sinners of every kind, all flatter themselves with this deceitful suggestion of the devil, that there is no harm in exposing themselves to this or that occasion of sin; forgetting that it is written: "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." They flatter themselves that God has given His angels charge over them that if anything happens to them they can go to confession, they can call in the. priest, and secure to themselves immunity from the consequences of their rashness. My brethren, what is this but tempting God? And what course could we take more calculated than this to shut ourselves out from the reach of those efficacious graces, without which , priests and sacraments will not be of the slightest avail to us? God Himself has said that when any one during life has neglected His counsels and despised His admonitions, He, in turn, will in the hour of the sinner’s necessity, turn His back on him; and will mock at him when the destruction which he now fears, (though he formerly despised it) is coming swift upon him. Let us, then, be always on our guard against this insidious temptation of the evil one, and when he seeks to induce us to expose ourselves to the occasion of sin, let us shun the pit which is dug before our feet, and answer with our blessed Lord: "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
The third kind of temptation which the devil makes use of is worldliness. We have but to open our eyes and see how completely the whole world is overcome with this temptation. The heart of man must have something to worship. And the devil, knowing this, in order to divert men from worshiping the one true and living God, proposes himself to be worshiped under the disguise of the things of this world. Accordingly, we see nearly the whole world completely wrapped up in the pursuit of riches, honors, pleasures, worldly position. There is scarcely an exception. The rich and the great seek to become richer and greater. The poor and the lowly seek to advance themselves, and crave for those worldly gratifications which are, more or less, within their reach. But what they never think of seeking, is the Kingdom of God and His Justice, (Matt. vi:33) which is the only thing worth seeking. The one object of all their aspirations is this visible world, the figure of which passes away (I Cor. vii:31).
Now, all this, my brethren, is, as we learn from this gospel, nothing else but devil worship; and, when these unhappy people have served the world all their lives, they will find in the latter end that it is the devil they have been serving, and that he will be their master for all eternity. Is it possible that we can be so blind as to submit to this degrading yoke? Can we not break off this galling bondage and say to the demon, Begone, Satan, for it is written "The Lord thy God shalt thou adore; and Him only shalt thou serve." He is our only true Master; a Master whose yoke is sweet and burden light, (Matt. xi:30) who never requires of us more than we can do. He is at the same time a loving Father, Who is able to sweeten all our toil with the abundance of His consolation; Who has Himself carried our burden for us on His Own shoulders; Who has trod the same path that we tread; Who made Himself like unto us in all things, excepting only sin; Who even submitted to be tempted, that we might learn from His example how to overcome temptation; a Master and a Father, Who will Himself be our Reward exceeding great, if we prove faithful. "Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday after Ash Wednesday



SATURDAY AFTER ASH-WEDNESDAY

GOSPEL. ST. MARK vi, 47-56.

(Jesus on the Sea. His Prayer in the Garden of Olives.)
At that time: when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus alone on the land. And seeing them laboring in rowing (for the wind was against them) and about the fourth watch of the night He cometh to them walking upon the sea, and He would have passed by them. But they seeing Him walking upon the sea, thought he was an apparition, and they cried out. For they all saw Him, and were troubled. And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. And he went up to them into the ship, and the wind ceased: and they were far more astonished within themselves; for they understood not concerning the loaves: for their hearts were blinded. And when they had past over, they came into the land of Genesareth, and set to the shore. And when they were gone out of the ship, immediately they knew him: and running through that whole country, they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was. And whithersoever He entered, into towns or into villages, or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him they might touch but the hem of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole.


Christian Soul! The holy gospel teaches you that God chastises those whom He loves, as He allowed His disciples to suffer on the sea. As gold is refined by fire, so God purifies His Friends by spiritual and corporal suffering; and by this process they are made to resemble their Savior. If they resemble Him in sufferings, they will also resemble Him in His glory; for "No one will be crowned who has not fought lawfully." But as the disciples appealed to their Lord, so you in all your sufferings and afflictions must beg your Savior for grace and help, and thus imitate Him in His glorious example of prayer. Contemplate the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives. "He withdrew from His disciples a stone s cast away, kneeling down He fell upon His face, praying and saying: My Father, if it be possible let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." What reverence and humility in the prayer of Jesus! What touching pity combined with wonderful submission to the will of God! And He cometh to His disciples, and findeth them asleep, and He saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me? Again the second time, He went and prayed, saying: "My Father, if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, Thy will be done." And He cometh again, and findeth them sleeping. And leaving them He went again: and He prayed the third time, saying the self-same word.

LET US PRAY.
O Lord, look graciously upon our prayer, and grant that we may perform with pious fidelity this solemn fast which was instituted for the wholesome purpose of bringing health to our soul and body.

Divine Savior, Jesus Christ, Who didst show so much patience with the frailty of Thy disciples on the sea and on Mount Olivet, have patience also with us poor sinners on the sea of dangers, sufferings and afflictions of this life. Give strength to our weak prayer; give courage and perseverance to our inconstant will that we may fulfill the divine will in fortune and misfortune, and especially in our last agony and in the grievous dereliction of the hour of death, Amen.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday after Ash Wednesday

FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
GOSPEL. ST. MATH, v, 43, vi, 1-4.
(True Love of our Neighbor and Good Works. Love of Jesus for His Enemies on Mt. Olivet.)

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy: but I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be children of your Father Who is in heaven, Who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more, do not also the heathens this? Be ye therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them; otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father, Who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth, that thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father Who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

Christian Soul! The gospel teaches you that you cannot give God a better proof of your love than by you practicing love towards your enemy, since this is the most difficult part in the commandment of the love of our neighbor. Besides this is the best means to obtain the forgiveness of sins and the grace of God, and to become children of God forever. Our Lord says: "Forgive and you will be forgiven;" hence, the love of our neighbor is an unfailing sign of election.
But no one ever practiced this virtue so eminently as our Savior Whose heart, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings, was penetrated with this spirit of love.

Contemplate Jesus in the Garden of Olives. He began to grow sorrowful and to fear, to tremble and to shudder, and he said to His disciples: "My soul is sorrowful even unto death." Why is this? He sees all the insults and torments that await Him; all the sins of men, their crimes, their guilt and punishment are weighing Him down, and finally He sees the uselessness of His passion and death for countless men who, in spite of this love, will be lost forever. Still He enters courageously upon His suffering. What God-like love for one’s enemies! And where is your love of your neighbor? And what is your behavior towards your enemies, in thought, words and deeds?

Ask God for the grace to bear patiently and courageously all trials and adversities in union with the passion of Jesus Christ; pray to Him for your enemies, and pray for the conversion of sinners.

LET US PRAY.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, assist us in the fast which we have undertaken, that we may be able to practice with a pure heart what we are observing with the body.

We beseech Thee, O God, look down with gracious complacency upon our fasting so that we may be enabled to practice with a pure heart the abstinence which we are observing with the body, and so that we may imitate Jesus, the suffering Savior, Thy divine Son, in His patience and love for His enemies. Amen.