Vol 12 Issue 31~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
August 3, 2019 ~ Saint Stephen, opn!
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Saint Dominic
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
A clear sign that should be evident to all faithful Catholics that the Conciliar Church does not believe in heaven is not only that it denies hell, but because it seeks to establish a heaven on earth—a Utopia where people will want to live forever. This is to be seen not in the Conciliar Church seeking the salvation of souls by bringing them to the faith, nor by seeking to alleviate the sufferings of mankind and supporting families by institutions that provided relief to the poor, the sick, the children and widows. Unfortunately, but actually, what one does see is the rejection of faith for tolerance of and participation in the most ungodly of cults, assisting in destabilizing economies by taking an active roll in uncontrolled immigration, demanding of entitlements without merit and placing the burden of debt on the hard working family man, a denial of private property by calling for a redistribution of wealth, supporting divorced and remarried people as married and having love, accepting sodomy as natural and a sign of love (knowing for Catholics Love equates with God’s Spirit, the Holy Ghost) and stopping Global Warming equals saving the world. What this, in fact, does is direct the young to believe everything about life is the here and now and, without a future life and no longer directing everything to the future life, seeking to obtain happiness now—to its fulness to where even if physical death follows, the youth have the concept that at least they lived life to its fulness (not accepting that for one to live life to its fulness one must go to heaven where one will possess the Beatific Vision, the fulness of Life) and are willing to take the risk. No one is thinking of judgment, heaven or hell. I remember the Christopher Hour short movie, The Third Devil, who convinced his victims to put off their repentance, confession, reconciliation until tomorrow—which never came. This devil said it was useless to deny heaven or hell because everyone had a sense of justice. Today, it is not a matter of waiting until tomorrow, it is that there is no sin, just social injustice that must be overcome. For our youth there is no personal sin; and they understand that those who teach personal sin cause social injustice, inhibiting people to live as they please.
In all, as Catholics, we know unnecessary waste is sinful. We know that, as said above, the alleviation—not enabling—of poverty is required of us, as also the care of our fellow man. We know suffering is a large part of this life, the patient bearing of which increases our joy and happiness in heaven—where then, and only then, there will be no more suffering. May we not imbibe the spirit of Vatican II and set our yes on this world, but always direct them toward heaven, the destination we are trying to reach, bringing with us all those who will join us during our sojourn on earth. Saint Stephen set his eyes on heaven.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Evolution and Modernism
The storm that was built up by the Enlightenment supported by the Nobility (including Prince Bishops and other clergy enamored by the novelty of humanism and natural rationalism) did not just simply pass with the French Revolution and the guillotine; rather, the havoc wrought in both the political and ecclesiastical spheres only made it more difficult to re-establish the Church and her authority over her members and bring order in society based on divine and natural law. The collapse of Church institutions gave rise to secular institutions filling the void. Education was usurped by the state that enlisted administrators ascribing to enlightenment principles: humanism, liberty, fraternity and equality—the basis of which was a rejection of Catholic belief and Catholic authority. The intelligentsia was no longer educated upon principles of Catholic faith, but atheism. Scholasticism was replaced with a so-called Scientism that could not start with truth, but with what could be observed empirically (through the senses). The European mind was being trained to view science (a neo-gnosticism) as being able solve all of its problems and discovering everything in the context of reason and experience. This gave rise to the denial of metaphysics while using metaphysical terminology. Acknowledging the contradiction, Kant tried to integrate pure rationalism with pure empiricism by promoting a nativist (rationalist) view with influence from sensory experience and giving innate categories of thought which provided “structure and meaning” to experience. The beginning of the Industrial Age, and the classification in biology according to observed properties, along with the search for another answer to man’s existence besides God gave rise to many advances in technology, discoveries in nature, and theories of man’s origin. Chavalier Lamarck (1744-1829), as a biologist, observed changes in species and posited it as inheritance of acquired characteristics that came through a natural tendency of developing to meet environmental needs—an evolution. His concept sparked a revolution in thought in as much as every facet eventually would be interpreted as a march of progress within nature (pantheism)—an idea incorporated even by a Karl Marx (1818-1883) in the political sphere (1848).
Unfortunately, Catholic scholars were caught up in this zeitgeist; and, just as Saint Thomas Aquinas attempted to fit the Catholic Faith into an Aristotelian mold, they tried to fit the Catholic Faith into an evolutionary mold. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) gave a universal philosophical foundation for evolution in the physical as the metaphysical:
Hegel’s philosophy is an attempt to reduce to a more synthetic unity the system of transcendental idealism bequeathed to him by Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. Kant had taught that, so far as our theoretical experience is concerned, there exists nothing except the appearances of things and the unknown and unknowable noumenal substrate of these appearances, the Ding-an-sich. Hegel starts out by assuming that, if for Kant’s destructive criticism of theoretical experience we substitute an incessantly progressive and productive immanent criticism, we shall find that the noumenal reality is not an unknowable substrate of appearances, but an ever-active process, which in thought and in reality constantly passes into its opposite in order to return to a higher and richer form of itself. This process in its barest and most meagre form is being; in its fullest and richest form it is spirit, absolute mind, the state, religion, philosophy. The business of philosophy is to trace this process through all its stages. (Turner, Hegelianism, CE.)
In simple words, everything was considered to be in flux, nothing was static; or, one may say in Hegel’s words, everything is becoming (or evolving).
The first and most wide-reaching consideration of the process of spirit, God, or the idea, reveals to us the truth that the idea must be studied (1) in itself; this is the subject of logic or metaphysics; (2) out of itself, in nature; this is the subject of the philosophy of nature; and (3) in and for itself, as mind; this is the subject of the philosophy of mind. (Ibid.)
This is pantheism in its truest sense. As such one is god and is not god. Truth is and is not, being relative. Faith is constantly in flux and is true only for those who accept it as true at that moment they see it as truth—but it changes once the mind comes to another understanding.
In logic—which really is a metaphysic—we have to deal with the process of development applied to reality in its most abstract form. For in logic we deal in concepts robbed of their empirical content: in logic we are discussing the process in vacuo, so to speak. Thus, at the very beginning of our study of reality, we find the logical concept of being. Now, being is not a static concept, as Aristotle supposed it was. It is essentially dynamic, because it tends by its very nature to pass over into nothing, and then to return to itself in the higher concept, becoming. For Aristotle, there was nothing more certain that that being=being, or, in other words, that being is identical with itself, that everything is what it is. Hegel does not deny this; but, he adds, it is equally certain that being tends to become its opposite, nothing, and that both are united in the concept becoming. For instance, the truth about this table, for Aristotle, is that it is a table. For Hegel, the equally important truth is that it was a tree, and it “will be” ashes. The whole truth, for Hegel, is that the tree became a table and will become ashes. Thus, becoming, not being, is the highest expression of reality. It is also the highest expression of thought; because then only do we attain the fullest knowledge of a thing when we know what it was, what it is, and what it will be—in a word, when we know the history of its development.
In the same way as being and nothing develop into the higher concept becoming, so, farther on in the scale of development, life and mind appear as the third terms of the process and are in turn are developed into higher forms of themselves. But, one cannot help asking, what is it that develops or is developed? Its name, Hegel answers, is different in each stage. In the lowest form it is being, higher up it is life, and in still higher form it is mind. The only thing always present is the process (das Werden). We may, however, call the process by the name of spirit (Geist) or idea (Begriff). We may even call it God, because at least in the third term of every triadic development the process is God.(Ibid.)
Of course Hegel is not speaking of God as understood according to Catholic Faith. The results of the theories arising in the Church in attempting to defend the faith or trying to convert Catholic thinking according to modern philosophies are reflected in both the Syllabus of Errors issued by Pope Pius IX (December 8, 1864) and Pope Saint Pius X against the Modernists in Lamentabili (July 3, 1907). Many times the Catholic authors retracted what they wrote as their errors were pointed out. Others, though, continued to hold to their errors in as much as they already rejected the authority of the Church and/or denied her teachings as true and unchangeable.
Since evolution stems from a belief in pantheism, Pius IX, in his Allocution, Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862, wrote concerning the modern ideas of his time:
But they indeed arrive at the impiety and effrontery to try to attack heaven and remove God Himself from our midst. With singular lack of principle, equal only to their folly, they do not scruple to assert that there is no all wise and provident Divine Being distinct from the things of this world, and that God is identical to nature, and that He is therefore subject to change; and that God is really coming to be in man and in the world; and that all things are really God and of God’s substance; and that God and the world are really one and the same thing, and so too spirit and matter, necessity and freedom, truth and falsehood, good and evil, just and unjust are all really the same.
Certainly nothing more demented, nothing more impious, nothing more repugnant to reason itself can ever be imagined or devised than this. But they prattle about authority and right so heedlessly, that they impudently say that authority is nothing other than the sum of number and material forces, and that right consists in material fact, and that all duties of men are an empty name, and that all human deeds have the force of right.
And, in his Syllabus mentioned, he condemned the teaching:
1. No supreme, all wise, and all provident divine Godhead exists, distinct from this world of things, and God is the same as the nature of things and, therefore, liable to changes; and God comes into being in man and in the universe, and all things are God and they have the same substance of God; and God is one and the same as the world, and therefore, also, spirit is one and the same with matter, necessity with liberty, the true with the false, the good with the evil, and the just with the unjust (Cf. DB 1701; Allocution, Maxima quidem, June 9, 1862).
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
LUKE xvi. 1-9
At that time: Jesus spoke to his disciples the following parable. There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be a steward no longer. And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed.
I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. Therefore, calling together every one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord? But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty. And the Lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are more prudent in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting blessings.
EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA
V. 1. There was a certain rich man who had a steward.
BEDE: When He had in the course of three parables rebuked those who murmured because He received sinners, the Lord spoke a fourth parable, and a fifth: on the giving of alms, and on frugality; for it is in most fitting order that after He had preached on repentance (the Prodigal Son) He should preach on almsgiving. Hence we read: And he said unto his disciples etc.
CHRYSOSTOM (Hom. of St Asterius): There is a certain erroneous opinion inborn in mortal men that increases evil doing and lessens good. It is the belief that whatever comes into our possession in this life we possess it as masters of it; and so when the chance arises we seize these things as ours by special right. The contrary is true. For we are not placed in this life as lords in our own houses, but as guests and strangers, brought hither whether we would or not, and at a time not of our choosing. He who is now rich in a moment is a beggar. Therefore, whoever you may be, know that you are but an administrator (dispensator) of things that are Another’s, and that upon you has been bestowed but the right of their brief and passing use. Cast then from your soul the pride of dominion, and put on instead the modesty and humility of a steward. (Cf. PG 40, col. 179.)
BEDE: The steward is the manager of a farm (villa) and receives his title from the farm (villicus). An administrator ( dispensator) however is the dispenser of the fruits of the property, of the money, and of all the master owns (Lk. xii. 32).
AMBROSE: From this we learn that we are not ourselves masters, but rather the stewards of Another’s possessions.
THEOPHYLACTUS: And that when we do not administer wealth in accord with the will of the master, but abuse for our own pleasures what has been entrusted to us, we are unjust stewards. Hence: And the same was accused unto him etc. CHRYSOSTOM, as above: Meanwhile he is removed from his stewardship. For we then read that:
V. 2. And he called him and said to him etc.
Daily the Lord cries out to us similar things, through the events of our life: showing us a man in the full possession of health at noon, and before evening he is lifeless; another dying at his evening meal, and so in various ways are we relieved of our stewardship. But a faithful dispenser, who is untroubled in his mind regarding his stewardship, desires with Paul rather to be dissolved and to be with Christ (Phil. i. 23 ). He however whose desires are earthly ones is troubled at the thought of his going forth. And so we read:
V. 3. And the steward said within himself: What shall I do . . .
To be feeble in action is the consequence of a life of sloth. Had he been accustomed to labour he would not now be fearful. But, if we take the parable allegorically, there is no time for labour after we have departed this life. The present life is the time for doing what was laid upon us to do; the future is our time of reward. If you have not laboured here, in vain do you make provision for the future; nor will it help you to beg. We have an example of this in the foolish virgins, who unwisely begged of the wise virgins, but came back without anything. Each one has put on his own manner of life as an inner garment; and it is not to be put off, or to be changed with another. The unjust steward however arranged for the cancelling of debts, contriving with his fellow servants a way out of the consequences of his own evil deeds. For we read:
V. 4. I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed, etc . . . .
For as often as a man, seeing his own end approaching, lightens the burden of his own sins by some kind act to others, either by remitting the debts of a debtor, or by giving in abundance to the poor, bestowing the things of his master, he is making friends for himself of many who will give testimony of truth on his behalf before the judge, and not with words simply, but by making known his good deeds; and what is more, they will secure for him by their testimony an abode where he may find rest. But nothing is ours; all things are but part of the riches of God. Hence there follows:
V. 5. Therefore calling together every one of his lord’s debtors . . .
BEDE: A barrel (cadus) in Greek is a measure containing three urns (an urna equals two gallons).
V. 6. But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill . . . and write fifty; that is, wiping out half the debt.
V. 7. Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe?
A quarter (corus) contains thirty bushels. Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said . . . take thy bill and write eighty; wiping out a fifth of the debt. It may be simply taken in this sense. Whoever relieves a poor man’s need, either by supplying the half of it, or a fifth part of it, will be blessed with the rewards of mercy.
AUGUSTINE, Questions on the Gospels II, 34: That he told the debtor of the hundred barrels of oil to write down fifty, and of the hundred quarters of wheat to write eighty instead means, I believe, that what each Jew gave to the Priests and Levites should be given more abundantly in the Church of Christ: that where they gave a tenth, let these latter give the half, as Zacheus did of his goods; or at least, double the tenth, let them give a fifth so that they shall abound more in their giving than the Jews.
V. 8. And the Lord commended the unjust steward . . .
AUGUSTINE, as above: The steward whom the master deprived of his stewardship the Lord here praises, in that he made provision for himself for the future. So it is that the Lord commended him, for-as-much as he had done wisely. Nevertheless we are not to imitate him in all he did. For we should never practise any deceit against the Lord that from this deception we may give alms.
ORIGEN (or GEOMETER, in Catena GP): Although the Gentiles say that prudence is a virtue, and define it as, the practical understanding of what is good, bad, or indifferent, the discernment of what we ought do and ought not do, we should consider whether this description has one meaning or many. For we are told that the Lord established the heavens by prudence (Prov. iii. 19 ). And it is evident that because the Lord established the heavens by it that prudence is good. But we are also told in Genesis (iii. 1), according to the Septuagint, that the serpent was the most subtle of all the beasts of the earth (serpens prudentissimus erat), where prudence is not spoken of as a virtue but as craftiness, inclining its possessor towards evil. And so He perhaps used the word commended, not in the true sense of commendation, but used it in a lower sense; as when we say someone is to be commended in trivial and indifferent matters, or as a clash of wits or sharpness of understanding meets with approval because of the mental vigour displayed.
AUGUSTINE, as above: On the other hand these similitudes are recounted that we may understand that if he could be praised by the Lord who has acted deceitfully, how much more will they please the Lord who fulfil the good works He has commanded.
ORIGEN (or GEOMETER, as above): The children of this world also are not called wiser, but more prudent (Vulgate: prudentiores) than the children of light; and this not absolutely and simply, but, in their generation. For there follows: For the children of this world are more prudent in their generation etc.
BEDE: They are called children of light, and children of this world who are also called the children of the kingdom, and the children of perdition (Jn. xvii. 2). For the works a man does, of these he is known as their son.
THEOPHYLACTUS: By the children of this world he means those who give their minds to the pleasant things of this world. The children of light are those who out of divine love deal in spiritual riches. And in human affairs we find that we act in all things with prudence, and take great pains, so that when we withdraw from active life we shall have a secure refuge. But in the management of divine things we do not look ahead and consider what may happen to us in the future life.
GREGORY, Morals xviii. II, in Job xxvii. 19: That they may find something in their hand after death, before death let men place their riches in the hands of the poor. Accordingly we read:
V. 9. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity.
AUGUSTINE, Serm. 35: What the Hebrews called Mammon we call riches. Therefore it is as if he said: Make unto you friends of the riches of iniquity. Now some persons, misunderstanding these words, seize what belongs to others and by this means give alms to the poor, and think that in doing this they do what is commanded. This notion must be corrected. Give alms out of your own just labours. For you shall not corrupt Christ your Judge. If from the plunder of a poor man you were to give anything to a judge, that he might give sentence in your favour, and if the judge were to do this, such is the force of justice, that you would be dissatisfied with yourself. Do not make a God for yourself after this fashion. For He is the Fountain of justice. Do not then give alms from the fruits of usury and interest. I am speaking to Christians to whom we give the Body of Christ. And if you have such money it is through evil doing you possess it. Let you no longer do evil. Zacheus said: The half of my goods I give to feed the poor (Lk. xix. 18). See how he runs to make friends by means of the mammon of iniquity. And lest he should be held wicked on other grounds he says: And if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold.
St. Dominic, Confessor and Founder
1. About the year 1200 the sect of the Albigenses—named for the city of Albi in southern France—was doing great harm in the Church. It denied the basic mysteries of Revelation: Trinity, Incarnation, and Redemption. It rejected the sacraments (especially matrimony), divine services, and every form of visible Church. The fanaticism of these heretics extended to the destruction of churches, monasteries, pictures, and crucifixes. They abolished all relations between Church and State.
In this hour of need God called St. Dominic into the field. Born of devout parents in Catholic Spain, he became a priest and a canon. On a journey through southern France with his bishop in 1203, Dominic learned about the sad state of affairs and immediately joined the missionary priests already at work there, preaching the word of God to the erring with burning zeal. When six brave companions associated themselves with him, he founded the Order of Preachers for the express purpose of proclaiming the doctrine of the Church and defending it against errors. In 1216 the new Order, known as the Dominicans, was approved by Pope Honorius III. St. Dominic died at Bologna on August 6, 1221, admonishing his brethren: “Have charity, preserve humility, and do not separate yourselves from poverty.”
2. “Preach the word, dwelling upon it continually, welcome or unwelcome; bring home wrongdoing . . . with all the patience of a teacher” (Epistle). St. Dominic was an apostle glowing with love for doctrine, charity, and souls. He preached not only with words but with the example of a holy life free from all self-seeking, all avarice. He lived in extreme poverty and associated himself with the poor and the Insignificant, His imperturbable meekness enabled him to be a living sermon against the insults and abuse from the Albigenses. His habit of tireless prayer was no less a sermon. A contemporary said of him: “Blessed Dominic burned with boundless laving zeal for souls. Day and night and in every place he preached and spoke only about God. He was extremely strict in his living, nourishing himself only with bread and vegetables. He was a great despiser of self and considered himself as nothing. Wrongs and humiliations he bore with patience and joy. I have never seen a man who prayed so incessantly; he spent the nights in prayer for sinners. He loved the Faith; he loved peace, and he promoted both with all his powers.”
As his Order grew St. Dominic had to travel a great deal, visiting the different houses; wherever he stopped he preached, in churches or public squares. So great was his eagerness to spread the word of God that once, when he met a group of German pilgrims, he begged the Lord to let him preach in their language. The favor was granted. It was this zeal for the purity of the Faith that prompted him to found the Order of Preachers. In order that their preaching might bear fruit, he demanded of his sons a life of strict poverty, self-discipline, perfect obedience to superiors, and serious cultivation of the sacred sciences. Everything was to further the preaching of the gospel and leading men to God and His Church. God has done, and still does, great things through St. Dominic’s Order. We thank Him for having given His Church this great apostle.
“The innocent will flourish as the palm-tree flourishes: in the house of the Lord he will grow to greatness, as the cedars grow on Lebanon” (Gradual). This is the secret of St. Dominic’s tremendous effectiveness and admirable success. The Imitation says: “The holy man first plans interiorly the works he wants to carry out exteriorly” (Bk. I, 3, 2). First come living with God in a life of prayer, Christian virtue, faith, and intimate love; then God will bless the work. “Vain is the builder’s toil, if the house is not of the Lord’s building” (Ps. 126:1). But God builds the house in proportion to the intimacy of man’s union with Him by faith, purity, and love. St. Dominic was, first and foremost, a man of prayer, of contemplation. No wonder that he accomplished so much for God in the short space of the fifty-one years of his life.
Dante wrote, in Paradiso, Canto XII, of Dominic:
“By doctrine high and mighty will sustained,
he moved ‘neath office apostolic fighting:
like torrent from a source most lofty veined.”
Yes, the Saint’s doctrine flowed from the heights of prayerful union with God.
3. “My faithfulness and mercy shall go with him; as my champion he shall rise to greatness” (Offertory). “If a man lives on in me, and I in him, then he will yield abundant fruit: separated from me, you have no power to do anything” (John 15:5). “Your loins must be girt and your lamps burning” (Gospel).
St. Gregory the Great comments on this text as follows: “We gird our loins when we tame the concupiscence of the flesh. We have burning lamps in our hands when we perform good works and thereby give our neighbor a good example.” Of these good works, our Lord says: “Your light must shine so brightly before men that they can see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Collect: O God, whose pleasure it was to enlighten Thy Church by the merits and teaching of Thy blessed confessor Dominic, grant that through his intercession she may not be deprived of temporal help, and may continually advance in spiritual growth. Amen.
AND OUR CHILDREN
Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons
By Mary Reed Newland (1956)
SUMMER SAINTS AND SOME
PARAPHRASING THE EPISTLES
Once in a while I wish I could have lived during those first years of the Faith. I’m grateful, of course, to be one of those Our Lord told St. Thomas would believe without seeing, but sometimes there is a terrible longing to have been there at the beginning. For example, I should like to have been the receiver of an Epistle, or to be mentioned in one—like Phebe, Archippus, “my dear Epenetus,” and “dear Persis,” and Rufus and his mother, and Nereus and his sister Olympias. Maybe all the lay apostles whose mothers don’t understand what their children are doing ought to pray to Rufus’ mother. She sounds as though she understood, and as though she’d be a great help.
I think about the new-made Christians at Thessalonica listening to the last lines of Paul’s Second Epistle to them, and wonder if they didn’t elbow and push in a Christian sort of way to see the letter that finished with, “Here is Paul’s greeting in his own hand; the signature which is to be found in all my letters; this is my handwriting. The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
St. Peter’s Epistles were the first encyclicals. Like our present Holy Father, he sent out letters encouraging the faithful to crown their faith “with virtue, and virtue with enlightenment, and enlightenment with continence, and continence with endurance, and endurance with holiness, and holiness with brotherly love, and brotherly love with charity.”
Sorting out passages in the Epistles that I thought would appeal to the children, I used to think: If only there were some way to communicate to them the excitement of the letter-writing and the letter-receiving. They still think that these Epistles come out of books—which is all wrong. They are letters. If only it could be as full of promise to read an Epistle as it is running up the lane to see what Mr. Bradway has delivered in the morning mail.
All of a sudden, I knew what to do. Why couldn’t the children get letters from St. Peter? Not whole letters, but parts of an Epistle especially suited to them, mailed so that they would be delivered on June 29, the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul (St. Peter is emphasized on the twenty-ninth, with commemoration of St. Paul on the thirtieth.)
The Epistle for the Mass of June 29, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells of St. Peter’s deliverance from prison by an angel, and in the Gospel Our Lord declares him the Rock. These are grand stories to tell in preparation the night before, for the children must have a broad hint that something apropos will come in the mail so that anticipation will lead to enthusiasm.
Now to choose passages the children will like and be able to understand. It is true that loose paraphrasing of Holy Scripture can sometimes stray far from accuracy, but it is also true that children must have Scripture recast in their kind of words or they won’t even listen to it. The first thing to do is ask the Holy Spirit to help you find the right words, without changing any of the meaning. The next thing to do is search for passages relating to some concrete problem each of the children is struggling with; or, if it is a child who needs to be told again and again how much he is loved, find a passage that does that.
The beginning of St. Peter’s First Epistle gives us a lovely salutation:
“Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who dwell at Glen Echo, on South Hampden Road in Monson, Massachusetts.” Or perhaps it will be “who dwell at 147 Prairie Avenue, Wilmette,” or “50 Danforth Road, Portland”—or Green River or Brooklyn or Chicopee Falls.
Starting with the fourth verse this Epistle has something for a child with a seemingly heavy cross. This is how we wrote it.
We are to share a reward that will never decay, or be spoiled, or fade. It is stored up for you in heaven, and meanwhile, because of your faith, the power of God will keep you safe till you reach it, this salvation which is waiting to be shown to you at the end of time. Then you will be triumphant. What if you have many kinds of hard things to sadden your hearts in this short time between? That must happen, so you may prove your faith, a much more precious thing (faith) than the gold that is tested by fire; and your faith proved will bring you praise and glory and honor, when at last you see Jesus Christ. You never saw him, but you learned to love him; you may not see him even now, but you believe in him, and if you keep on believing in him, how you will triumph!
Children from seven on should understand this. Ours did. If they read their letter aloud with one or the other parent, talking it over together, it can be related to problems without straining. It could help one who had difficulty holding his tongue when he is teased; one who might be too chubby to be pretty and must restrain a ravenous appetite (and guard against gluttony); one who is frail and cannot keep up with the rest in games; one who is the butt of some grownup’s constant irritation; one who has a struggle in school, and so on.
OF CHILDHOOD TRIALS
Someone who does not know children might object that these are hardly the “trials of many sorts” St. Peter was referring to when he wrote to the early Christians. But the trials of children are very heavy, even when they are small, and these are Christians trying to learn how to be Christian in a world beset with challenges for Christians. There is no need to wait for the terrible scourges to come before helping them bear trials. They have trials on and off all day long; maybe they last for only five minutes at a time, but something—a thoughtless remark, a humiliation in front of friends, a clash of personalities with an adult—which seems as nothing to us, can be to them an intolerable suffering, impossible to bear. We cannot eliminate their trials, nor should we want to if merely for the sake of saving their feelings, for part of the pain is in themselves in the form of self-love. This is always painful to root out. It is far better to try to help them understand trials and learn to bear them.
In this Epistle St. Peter confirms what we have tried to teach: that trials will make them strong and prove them in their faith. If we are going to use the daily life of the Church to help them grow in love for what she teaches, we must use the lives of the saints she honors, for by their teaching they guide us. This is a day to honor St. Peter. Let us learn of St. Peter.
What of the little ones, who will also want an Epistle? In the fourth chapter there is something for them.
Above everything else, always have love among yourselves; love covers over much of your naughtiness. Give each other the things you have, unselfishly, sharing with everyone whatever gift you receive, as is right for children who receive so many graces from God.
A free translation, but it certainly hits at the heart of the problems that plague them . . . .
“This truck is mine.”
“It is not, it’s mine.”
“It is not, it’s mine!“
And on and on and on and on.
Explaining that St. Peter says we must share nicely and will help us if we ask him, is a new way of rephrasing the old refrain they have heard over and over.
There must be no confusion about the actual authorship of the words. They must understand that they were copied out of Holy Scripture by a mother or a father or possibly an older sister or brother because their parents thought it would be fun and helpful for them to pretend that they were really getting a letter from St. Peter.
As we said, this should be explained ahead of time because lack of preparation would spoil it. Unprepared for, it might seem only to be a novelty, something new and different in the mail to startle you for a moment, then off to go swimming. We prepared our day so the arrival of the mail found us with the time to read the letters carefully, talk about them, sit and think about Epistles and what it was like to get one.
LETTERS TO FATHERS AND MOTHERS
A passage addressed to presbyters in the fifth chapter of this Epistle applies so well to fathers that the father in this house received that excerpt in the mail.
Bow down, then, before the strong hand of God; he will raise you up, when his time comes to deliver you. Throw back on him the burden of all your anxiety; he is concerned for you. Be sober, and watch well; the devil, who is your enemy, goes about roaring like a lion, to find his prey, but you, grounded in the faith, must face him boldly; you know well enough that the brotherhood you belong to pays, all the world over, the same tribute of suffering. And God, the giver of all grace, who has called us to enjoy after a little suffering, his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself give you mastery and steadiness and strength.
The mother got a letter, too—from the beginning of the third chapter:
You, too, who are wives must be submissive to your husbands. Some of these still refuse credence to the word [he means they had not yet become Christians]; it is for their wives to win them over, not by word but by example; by the modesty and reverence they observe in your demeanor. Your beauty must lie, not in braided hair, not in gold trinkets, not in the dress you wear, but in the hidden features of your hearts, in a possession you can never lose, that of a calm and tranquil spirit; to God’s eyes, beyond price. It was thus the holy women of old time adorned themselves, those women who had such trust in God, and paid their husbands such respect. Think how obedient Sara was to Abraham, how she called him her lord; if you would prove yourselves her children, live honestly and let no anxious thoughts disturb you.
The letters really are for us. They were written at the time for a small group of Christians who believed what we believe and had to struggle as we have to struggle. In the first chapter of his Second Epistle, St. Peter tells of his having soon to “fold my tent.” He knew his death was near. But he promised: “I will see to it that, when I am gone, you shall always be able to remember what I have been saying.” We have his letters to remind us, his love, his prayers for us in Heaven, and his powers handed down to all the Peters who follow him. These are the many ways St. Peter, when questioned by Our Lord: “Dost thou love Me?” answers to the command: “Feed my lambs.”
When the recipients did go off to the brook, we gave them feast-day surprises: big yellow fish cut out of cardboard and tied on strings to willow wands skinned of their bark. Monica wasn’t too much intrigued, but the boys thought this was great stuff. Art supply stores have beautiful colors of poster paper, and it pays to buy a sheet or two for such surprises as this.
P. Stewart Craig in A Candle Is Lighted writes that in Yorkshire St. Peter’s day was a feast of fishermen, who decorated their boats and celebrated among their families and friends. We like the author’s suggestion of using a prayer from the Mass for those at sea in family prayer this day, perhaps following Grace at Table, since a large part of New England’s economy depends upon the fisherfolk:
O God, who didst bring our forefathers through the Red Sea and guide them in safety through the overflowing waters, singing praises to thy holy name, we humbly beseech thee that thou wouldst ever keep from all danger thy servants who are on board ship, granting them a calm voyage and the haven which they desire.
(To be continued)
Father Krier will be in Los Angeles on August 6. On August 8, he will be in Pahrump and Eureka, Nevada, on August 20.
For those who purchase through Amazon, please help support the work here at Saint Joseph’s by going through this link: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-2855162
The topics of Faith and Morals will correspond to the Roman Catholic Faith in Tradition and the Magisterium. The News will be of interest. The commentaries are for the reader to ponder and consider. The e-mail address will be for you to provide thought for consideration. The donations will be to support the continuation of this undertaking.
While the Newsletter is free of charge it is not free of cost. Please consider supporting St Joseph’s Catholic Church with a tax – deductible donation by clicking the secure link: Donate
Or if you prefer send a check to
Catholic Tradition Newsletter
c/o St Joseph’s Catholic Church
131 N. 9th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Visit us on the Worldwide Web: http://stjosephlv.org
e-mail news and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org