Catholic Tradition Newsletter A1: Confirmation, Epihany, Wisemen, Family

Vol 12 Issue 1 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier ~ January 5, 2019

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1.      What is the Sacrament of Confirmation
2.      Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ
3.      Epiphany
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

Even though Catholics have started the New Year with Advent, the influence of the world is still so strong that the Roman pagan new year is what is still celebrated as is the use of the Roman calendar. It is this Calendar that was reformed by Gregory XIII in 1582 and eventually accepted universally. Therefore we still wish each other a blessed New Year as I do also to all my readers.

This year has been given to us to know, love and serve God and it should be regulated so that God is placed first in everything we do. It is most appropriate that the Feast of the Circumcision falls on the 1st of January because we then start the New Year by giving God the day and worshipping Him as the first obligation to be fulfilled.

As a priest who reflects on what causes the loss of faith among our youth one may say it is because of the world, the flesh and the devil. But these forces overcome them in the first place because parents do not give a good example nor pray for their children nor do they teach their children to pray. Telling them to pray is not the same as teaching them to pray. We all experienced bad teachers. And why were these teachers bad? Because they assigned us homework but never taught us how to do the homework so we usually just gave up as failures—not us, but the teacher. Many saints attribute their virtue and prayer life to their parents—Saint Therese her father, Saint Francis his mother, Saint Louis of France his mother, etc. We picture Mary with Saint Anne and, of course the Child Jesus with Mary and Joseph. He is lost and found in the Temple, as we will read in the Gospel on the Feast of the Holy Family, because the Holy Family went to the Temple faithfully as required by the Mosaic Law.

Secondly, these children are overwhelmed because there is too much of the world they are confronted with and they are not equipped to do battle by being able to choose, instead, wholesome activities in a social atmosphere that frees them from negative peer pressure. Some Catholic writers (pre-Vatican II) mentioned that many Catholic children constantly hear the “Thou shalt not . . .” but little of the “You can do this . . .” Some post-Vatican II writers say that the Council was a result of the prohibitions too many clergy and religious placed on the laity and therefore the parents on their children. Like the days of Prohibition that didn’t stop anyone from drinking but just brought out the worst in people; whereas allowing the drinking kept alcohol controlled. Now drinking alcohol in moderation is not a sin (speaking of adults). I am saying this to myself also, because combatting the influence of the world is a challenge that must be met and alternatives provided that engage our youth, not just prohibitions.

When we speak of alternatives there must be the support of the parents—and here, again, that support is unduly lacking. For example, parents will do everything to see their children advance in profane activities and secular sports—even on Sunday—but have no time to see that their children are involved in church activities. What do they teach their children? That the world matters most, not the church—that is, God. Parents teach them that material things are more important than spiritual and the body more than the soul.

There needs to be Church activities. But it also means that when the youth do come to participate in church activities the moderators should see that it is not a time of “Thou shalt not. . .” but a time of “You can do this. . .”

Since we are talking of taking sin out of the world may no one interpret this as advocating putting sin into the lives of our children, but of legitimate enjoyment and social interaction.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor

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WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?

by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

The Rituale Romanum’s Section on Confirmation

THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION

Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments

on the Administration of Confirmation to Persons

Whose Lives Are Seriously Endangered by Illness;

Published September 14, 1946.

III

The rite to be observed when a priest confers the sacrament of confirmation by virtue of this Apostolic indult.

At the time a priest, using the faculty granted to him by the Holy See (see above), purposes to administer confirmation to a person in danger of death by reason of serious illness, he wears at least a stole if a surplice is not available. He reminds the bystanders that no one other than a bishop is the ordinary minister of confirmation, and that he himself is going to confer it only by delegation of the Holy See. Let him take heed not to administer confirmation in the presence of heretics or schismatics; much less should the latter act in capacity of assistants.

Then he explains that the sponsor should place his right hand on the right shoulder of the subject, whether child or adult.

As he stands facing the one to be confirmed and having his hands joined, he says:

℣. May the Holy Spirit come down upon thee, and may the power of the Most High keep thee from sin. ℟. Amen.

Then signing himself with large sign of the Cross, he says:

℣. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

℟. Who made heaven and earth.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. And with thy spirit.

Then with hands extended over the person being confirmed, he says:

Let us pray.                                         Prayer

ALMIGHTY, everlasting God, Who hast deigned to beget new life in this thy servant (handmaid) by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast granted him (her) remission of all his (her) sins, send forth from heaven upon him (her) thy Holy Spirit, the Consoler with His sevenfold gifts. ℟. Amen.

℣. The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding. ℟. Amen.

℣. The Spirit of counsel and of fortitude. ℟. Amen.

℣. The Spirit of knowledge and of piety. ℟. Amen.

Fill him (her) with the Spirit of fear of the Lord, and seal him (her) with the sign of Christ’s + Cross, plenteous in mercy unto life everlasting. Through the selfsame Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God eternally. ℟. Amen.

Next he inquires about the confirmation name of the candidate, and dipping the tip of his thumb in the holy Chrism, he confirms the person as he says:

N., I seal thee with the sign of the Cross + during these words he has his right hand resting on the head of the subject, while with his thumb he traces the sign of the Cross on his brow, then continues: And I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation. In the name of the Father +, and of the Son +, and of the Holy + Spirit. ℟. Amen. And he lightly strikes the confirmed upon the cheek, saying: Peace be with thee.

The priest, after anointing the person with holy Chrism, carefully wipes the brow with cotton.

Then he cleanses his fingers with bread and washes them over a bowl. The water used for this purpose, together with the bread and cotton, he puts into a clean receptacle, and later, taking it back to church, he burns the bread and cotton and pours the ashes with the water into the sacrarium.

Having washed his hands, the priest himself says the following antiphon:

Strengthen, O God, what thou hast wrought in us, from out thy holy temple which is in Jerusalem. ℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. ℟. Amen.

The antiphon is repeated. And then the priest, standing with hands joined and facing the sick person, says:

℣. Show us thy mercy, O Lord.

℟. And grant us thy salvation.

℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.

℟. And let my cry come unto thee.

℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. And with thy spirit.

Keeping his hands joined he continues:

Let us pray.                                                                 Prayer

O GOD, thou didst give the Holy Spirit to thine Apostles, and didst will that He should be handed down through them and their successors upon the rest of the faithful. So now behold with favor our lowly ministration, and grant that the same Holy Spirit may come and abide in the heart of him (her) whose brow we have anointed with holy Chrism and sealed with the sign of the holy Cross. And by His indwelling, may He graciously cause him (her) to become a perfect temple for His divine majesty. Thou Who livest and reignest together with the Father and the selfsame Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. ℟. Amen.

He then adds: Behold, thus shall every man be blessed that lives in the fear of the Lord.

And turning toward the confirmed, he says as he makes the sign of the Cross over the person:

From Sion hence may the Lord send thee His blessing +, so that all thy days thou mayest gaze upon the prosperity of Jerusalem, and mayest come to possess life everlasting. ℟. Amen.

This rite is exactly as in the Pontificale Romanum used by a Bishop with the exception the Pontificale Romanum states at the conclusion:

Confirmation concluded, the Bishop is seated, accepts the mitre, announces to the sponsors that they instruct their sons and daughters in good morals, that they are to flee evil and do good, and teach them the Apostles’ Creed, Our Father, and Hail Mary, as this is their obligation.

 (To be continued)

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The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal

THE GOSPEL FOR THE MASS OF THE EPIPHANY

MATTHEW ii. 1-12

When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it was written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda are not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: go, and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.

And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.

EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA

MATTHEW ii. 1-12

V. 1. When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem,

 AUGUSTINE, Sermon 5 on Nativity: After the miracle of the Virgin Birth, in which, from the womb that was filled with the divinity, from a Maiden undefiled, God and Man came forth into the dim obscurity of a stable, and to the narrowness of a manger, in which the Divine Majesty with limbs close bound began to dwell; and while God is nursed at the breast, and submits to the bonds of the humble swaddling clothes, suddenly, a new star shines from heaven upon the earth, banishing the dark from all the world, and changing night to day, lest the Day be hidden by the night. So the Evangelist begins: When Jesus therefore . . .

REMIGIUS: In the beginning of this gospel reading three things are stated: the Person, since it begins, When Jesus; the Place, when it says, in Bethlehem of Juda; the Time, as when it records, in the days of King Herod. And these three things are set down in confirmation of that which is now to be told. Jerome, in Matth, 2: We think that it was first written Juda by the Evangelist, as in the Hebrew, not Judaea. For where is there another Bethlehem, so that to distinguish it is called of Juda? It is described as Bethlehem of Juda, because in the Book of Josue, son of Nave, we read of another Bethlehem of Judaea (Jos. xix. 15). Gross: There are two Bethlehems, one which is in the land of Zabulon, the other in the land of Juda, and which was first called Ephrata.

AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, 2, 15: As to the city of Bethlehem, Matthew and Luke are in agreement. But Luke explains how, and for what reason, Joseph and Mary came to it, which Matthew omits. On the other hand while Luke says nothing of the journey of the Magi from the East, Matthew records it. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 2 ex Op. Imp.: Let us see in what way it serves that the Evangelist indicates the time in which Christ was born, saying, in the days of King Herod. This he says so that he may show that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled, in which it was foretold that Christ would be born after seventy weeks of years. From that time until the reign of Herod seventy years of weeks had passed. And also because while the Jewish people were under the rule of the Judaic kings, even though these were sinners, prophets were sent for their correction: now however that the Law of God is subject to the power of an evil king, and that the Justice of God is swamped under the Roman domination, Christ the Saviour is born. For a great and desperate infirmity needs a great physician.

RABANUS MAURUS: Or it may be that he makes mention of an alien king so that the prophecy might be fulfilled which says: The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till He come that is to be sent (Gen. xlix, 10).

AMBROSE, Lib. III in Luc.: It is related that Idumaean robbers having entered Ascalon, among others took Antipater captive. He having acquired the lore of the Idumaeans, became joined in friendship with Hircanus King of Judea, whom Hircanus later sent on his behalf to Pompey; and because he succeeded in his embassy bestowed on him part of his own kingdom. Antipater being killed, his son Herod was appointed by the Senate, under Anthony, to rule the Jews. From this it is clear that Herod had obtained the kingdom without any racial affinity to the Jewish people.

RABANUS MAURUS: The Magi were of those who had made study of all things, but the common speech represent them as magicians, evildoers; but they were esteemed otherwise by their own people; for they were the philosophers of the Chaldees, and it is according to the philosophical knowledge of their arts that the Kings and rulers of that people do all things. Whence it is that they first came to know of the birth of the Lord.

AUGUSTINE, in Sermon 4 on the Epiph, (De Temp. 42): These Wise Men, what were they but the first fruits of the Gentiles? The shepherds were Israelites, the Magi Gentiles. The former from close by, the latter from far away; both hasten to the Corner Stone. (Again, from Sermon 2.) Jesus is made manifest neither to the learned nor to the just. For ignorance dominated the rusticity of the shepherds, impiety the practices of the Magi. But that Corner Stone joins them both to Himself, Who came to select the foolish that He might confound the wise, and to call not the just but the sinners to repentance; so that no great one might take pride in himself, and no lowly one despair.

GLOSS: These Magi were kings, who, if they are recorded as having presented three gifts, they are not accordingly proved to have been not more than three, but through them the peoples who were born of the three sons of Noah are prefigured as destined to come to belief; or there was such a number of kings, who had many others in their train. They came however, not after a year, for then He would be found in Egypt, not in the manger, but on the thirteenth day. To show whence they came the Evangelist says: From the East.

V. 2. Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star.

REMIGIUS: We must keep in mind that there is a variety of opinions regarding the Magi. Some say they were Chaldeans. The Chaldeans worshipped a star for God, and accordingly they said that their so-called God had declared that the true God was born. Others say they were Persians. Some say that they came from the farthest parts of the earth. Others again that they were descendants of Balaam, which is more credible. For Balaam among the things which he prophesied said also: A star shall rise out of Jacob (Num. xxiv. 17). They possessing this prophecy, as soon as they had seen the star, understood that the king was born, and they therefore came.

JEROME: And so they learned of this star that was to come, from the prophecy of Balaam whose descendants they were. But what we wish answered is, if they were Chaldeans or Persians, how could they have come to Jerusalem in such a short space of time? REMIGIUS: But we must know what some say, that the Child who was born then could have brought them from the ends of the earth in a brief space of time. GLOSS: It was not such a remarkable thing that they should have come to Bethlehem in thirteen days, since they had Arab horses and dromedaries which are swift to travel.

CHRYSOSTOM, Ex Op. Imp.: Or, they could have set out two years before His birth, the Star travelling before them, and neither food nor drink being wanting on the way. REMIGIGIUS: Or, if they were the descendants of Balaam, they were not far distant from the Land of Promise, and so could have come to Bethlehem in a short while. Then we have to ask why does the Evangelist say they came from the East? This was because they came from that region which lies generally to the cast of the Jews. Rightly are they also said to come from the East, because all who come to the Lord, come from Him and through Him. He is the Orient, according to the words: Behold a Man, the Orient is his name (Zach. vi. 12).

CHRYSOSTOM, Ex Op. Imp.: He came from the East: whence the day is born, thence faith had its beginning: because faith is the light of the soul. From the East therefore they came, but to Jerusalem. REMIGJUS: Although the Lord was not born there: because, although they knew the time of his birth, they did not know the place. Jerusalem was a royal city, and they believed that only in a royal city would the Child be born. Or it may be that they came there so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: For the law shall go forth out of Sion, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem (Mich. iv. 2); because there Christ was first announced. Or, that the indifference of the Jews might be reproved by the zeal of the Magi. They come therefore to Jerusalem, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews?

AUGUSTINE, Sermon 2, et 7, de Epiph.:  Since many kings of Juda were born and died, would it be one of those the Magi were seeking? No. Because of none of these had they heard a voice speaking from heaven. And they did not think that to a king of Juda such as these were wont to be was due such a great honour from them, strangers and wholly remote from the kingdom. But they had learned that one was born in adoring Whom they firmly believed they would attain to the salvation that is according to God; for He was scarcely yet at an age in which human flattery could avail. He was not clad in the purple, nor did a diadem shine upon His brow. Neither did the splendour of a court, nor the fear of a great army, nor the renown of victories, bring these men from remote lands in such fervour of supplication. He lay in a manger, a child newly born: tiny in body, abject in poverty. But in this Child something great lay hidden, of which these, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, had learned, not from earthly rumour, but from heavenly revelation. Hence we have: We have seen His Star in the East. They announce, yet they ask; they believe, and yet they seek to know: as though prefiguring those who walk by faith, yet still desire to see.

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January 6: THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

EPIPHANY, which in Greek signifies appearance or manifestation, is a festival principally solemnized in honour of the revelation Jesus Christ made of Himself to the Magi, or wise men ; who, soon after His birth, by a particular inspiration of Almighty God, came to worship Him and bring Him presents. Two other manifestations of our Lord are jointly commemorated on this day in the office of the Church : that at His baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended on Him in the visible form of a dove, and a voice from Heaven was heard at the same time: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; ” and that of His divine power at the doing of His first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the marriage of Cana, by which He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. Upon all these accounts this festival lays claim to a more than ordinary regard and veneration; but from none more than us Gentiles, who in the person of the wise men, our first-fruits and forerunners, were on this day called to the faith and worship of the true God.

The summons of the Gentiles to Bethlehem to pay homage to the world’s Redeemer was obeyed by several whom the Bible mentions under the name and title of Magi, or wise men; but is silent as to their number. The general opinion, supported by the authority of St Leo, Caesarius, Bede and others, declares for three. However, the number was small in comparison with those many others who saw that star no less than the wise men, but paid no regard to it; admiring, no doubt, its unusual brightness, but indifferent to its divine message, or hardening their hearts against any salutary impression, enslaved by their passions and selflove. Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, the Magi inquire in Jerusalem with confidence and pursue their inquiry in the very court of Herod himself: “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” The whole nation of the Jews on account of Jacob’s and Daniel’s prophecies was in expectation of the Messiah’s appearance among them, and the circumstances having been also foretold, the wise men, by the interposition of Herod’s authority, quickly learned from the Sanhedrin, or great council of the Jews, that Bethlehem was the place which was to be honoured with His birth, as had been pointed out by the prophet Micheas many centuries before.

The wise men readily comply with the voice of the Sanhedrin, notwithstanding the little encouragement these Jewish leaders afford them by their own example to persist in their search: for not one single priest or scribe is disposed to bear them company in seeking after and paying homage to their own king. No sooner had they left Jerusalem but, to encourage their faith, God was pleased again to show them the star which they had seen in the East, and it continued to go before them till it conducted them to the very place where they were to see and worship their Saviour. The star, by ceasing to advance, tells them in its mute language, ” Here shall you find the new-born King.” The holy men entered the poor place, rendered more glorious by this birth than the most stately palace in the universe; and finding the Child with His mother, they prostrate themselves, they worship Him, they pour forth their souls in His presence. St Leo thus extols their faith and devotion: “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find Him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action ; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.” The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest produce their countries afforded-gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold, as an acknowledgement of His regal power; incense, as a confession of His Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that He was become man for the redemption of the world. But their far more acceptable presents were the dispositions they cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and the unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh. (Butler’s Live of the Saints)

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The Catholic Marriage Manual

Reverend George A. Kelly

Random House, New York 1958

11

The Problem of Alcoholism

Stages of alcoholism. There are four stages in the consumption of alcohol: the normal stage beyond which fourteen out of fifteen adult drinkers do not go, and three stages which mark the emergence of the problem drinker.

The normal drinker enjoys alcohol for its mild, relaxing effects, or for the mild pickup it gives. He may usually have a cocktail or two before dinner, but it is no great sacrifice for him to omit them. When he goes to a party, he anticipates its pleasures in terms of the people he will talk to rather than the drinks to be served. He may drink wine or beer with meals, as he learned to do if his parents were of European origin. In any event, he does not drink to get a “severe jolt” or sense of excitement. His attitude toward drinking as a legitimate means of mild exhilaration or relaxed pleasure conforms to the spirit of the Bible: “Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make them drunk. Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart.” (Ecclesiasticus, 31:35-36)

The first stage on the road to alcoholism is taken when a drinker uses alcohol for other purposes. After working hard, he may find that several drinks before dinner relieve his nervous tension. If he has had trouble getting to sleep he may drink so that he drops off immediately. He may discover that whenever he is troubled or upset, a few cocktails make his world seem right again. If he is afraid to meet people, he may find that highballs change him into a “regular fellow.” In each case, he uses alcohol to do a job for him, and he finds it increasingly difficult to do the job without it. Thus he is becoming dependent upon alcohol.

The second stage is one in which storm signals are flying. Now he often finds himself drinking without any occasion to justify it. He may drink by himself, or consume his drinks faster than other persons. He may control himself at social gatherings, then return home to continue drinking. After an evening of imbibing he may be unable to remember all that happened the night before. Perhaps his boss now warns him about his drinking habits. His wife begs him to cut down. He has severe remorse after drinking bouts, and may even promise to do better in the future. He may swear off for a time, then perhaps conclude that he can again drink normally. By now, however, it is quite likely that he has crossed over the line to alcoholism. One drink will start a chain reaction and usually he will not be satisfied until he becomes intoxicated.

In the latter part of this stage, many of the traditional evils of drink appear, and they often shake the foundation of the marriage. He becomes irresponsible. Money needed for food, for the baby’s clothing, for long-overdue medical bills or apartment rent, is thrown onto a bar for alcohol. Now he may lose his job because of his many absences, or because his work has become slipshod and unreliable. If he drives a car, he may become involved in accidents. His wife becomes increasingly worried, tense and unresponsive to him. Putting the blame everywhere but on himself, he may find doubtful companions elsewhere.

If the alcoholic is a woman, she may shut herself in her room for long periods, neglecting the care of her children and her household duties. She becomes a lonely, solitary drinker. Knowing the verdict that society renders against the alcoholic woman, she often tries to hide from the world. For long periods, she may refuse to leave her room, will not answer the telephone, and will go to extremes to avoid facing friends. She becomes a voluntary outcast from society.

The third stage of alcoholism is one which no longer can be hidden from the world. By now the male alcoholic has either lost his job or is on the verge of doing so. Friends and neighbors know of his condition. Unless he has had much wealth at the beginning of his alcoholic progression, he probably will be deeply in debt. If he still lives at home, his family has learned to run from the sight of the bill collector. His children dread his coming, for they realize that in his drunken state he may beat them violently or create disturbances that will arouse the neighborhood. Perhaps his wife has been forced to take a job to support the family. She is now father and mother, and he is ignored whenever possible. The fact that he is no longer recognized as head of the house infuriates him still further.

There often are definite manifestations of insanity. The alcoholic may put the blame for his passion for drink on his wife, his employer, his children, even upon God. He is overwhelmed by the problems which have piled up at home, at work, and elsewhere. It may seem to him that his only solution is to flee. He may desert his family. But unless he can somehow regain his senses, he may move from jail to jail, to the depths of Skid Row, to psychiatric wards of hospitals, and ultimately to an institution for the insane, or death.

The pattern of alcoholic behavior is described in detail in the hope that those who suffer from this disease in any of its stages will do something about it before it is too late. For it is practically certain that one with the early symptoms will, if he continues drinking, pass on to the advanced stage.

Once a drinker passes over the line from normal social drinking to compulsive drinking, there is no turning back. Medical and psychiatric authorities all agree that he can never drink normally again. No matter how long he abstains, the first drink he takes will probably set off a chain reaction which will not stop until he is completely intoxicated. The only treatment is total abstinence. But the reason drink takes such a frightful toll is that alcoholics often cannot permanently stop by themselves. In fact, this inability is given as a characteristic of the disease by the Catholic Encyclopedia. It describes alcoholism as “The condition of those whose excessive drinking creates serious problems in the management of their lives and yet who usually are unable to stop drinking, even if they want to, without outside help.”

But hope does exist for the alcoholic. He can obtain temporary physical help in a hospital or by means of medications which a doctor may administer. Massive doses of vitamins may help him overcome the intense nervousness, tension, and state of depression which almost inevitably follow a prolonged bout. But while doctors may ease the pain of hangovers, they have no magic pill to prevent the patient from drinking again.

Experience has taught that reformation of the alcoholic can come only through spiritual and emotional help, coupled with whatever physical assistance is available. The inspiring story of Matt Talbot, the Irish alcoholic who conquered his desire to drink by cultivating a new life of the spirit, shows that the resources of our religion alone can change the compulsive drinker into a respected member of society. But Matt Talbot was exceptional. Most drinkers in the advanced state of alcoholism have refused countless opportunities to partake of God’s grace during the time of their decline, and their spiritual resources now are unequal to the task they face.

 (To be continued)

_________________

Father Krier will be in Los Angeles January 8 and in Pahrump, Nevada, January 10. He will be in Eureka, Nevada, January 17.

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