Vol 12 Issue 23 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
June 8, 2019~ Vigil of Pentecost
1. What is the Holy Eucharist.
2. Pentecost Sunday
3. Saints Primus & Felician
4. Saint Vincent of Agen
5. Family and Marriage
6. Articles and notices
Last week the topic of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus was introduced by looking at the controversy of honoring images. Even before Iconoclasm, there was the bitter debate over the title of calling Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. The claim was that Mary could be the mother of a human person, but could not be the mother of a divine Person—for that would seemingly make her divine, a creator of a god. In opposition the Fathers of the Church said calling Mary the Mother of God was not the same as claiming she created God. Even for the normal act of pro-creation the parents provide the material elements, but God infuses the soul, the life and person. Soul (spirit/life) and person are inseparable, but the soul is not the person or the person the soul—a distinction that must be recognized because the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in becoming man, took to himself a human body and human soul: for humanity consists of body and soul united to the individual person. For Jesus Christ, that Person was the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The same necessity of distinction exists when one considers the Three Persons in One God—God, Who is Spirit. Regarding the Incarnation, it is this inseparability of the human soul from the Person, Jesus Christ, that is united to the physical body of Jesus Christ to complete His humanity that requires Mary being recognized as the Mother of God. If Mary is not the Mother of Jesus Christ, who is she the Mother? And if she is the Mother of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is God, then she is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Eternal Word. At the Council of Ephesus (431), the Council Fathers taught:
For we do not say that the nature of the Word was changed and made flesh, nor yet that it was changed into the whole man (composed) of soul and body but rather (we say) that the Word, in an ineffable and inconceivable manner, having hypostatically united to Himself flesh animated by a rational soul, became Man and was called the Son of Man, not according to the will alone or by the assumption of a person alone, and that the different natures were brought together in a real union, but that out of both in one Christ and Son, not because the distinction of natures was destroyed by the union, but rather because the divine nature and the human nature formed one Lord and Christ and Son for us, through a marvelous and mystical concurrence in unity. . . . For it was no ordinary man who was first born of the Holy Virgin and upon whom the Word afterwards descended; but being united from the womb itself He is said to have undergone flesh birth, claiming as His own the birth of His own flesh. Thus [the holy Fathers] did not hesitate to speak of the holy Virgin as the Mother of God.
The First Council of Nicaea (325) had already rejected Arius’ conjecture that the Son of God was a creature of God—thereby denying that Jesus Christ was God. It stated, in the Nicene Creed: one Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, the only-begotten born of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, born, not made, of one substance with the Father –which they call in Greek “homousion”. (cf. D 52) The Council of Ephesus, in confirming that Jesus Christ is God, presented not only a justification for honoring Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos), but also God sharing human nature with mankind. When Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43) the words would be without significance unless it was an acknowledgement of what Isaias had prophesied: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel—God is with us (Isa. 7:14; cf. Matt. 1:23). The Magi from the Orient found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him (Matt. 2:11) as God. The Child Jesus was experiencing, that is, living all a normal human child would experience; the Adult Jesus was experiencing all a normal human adult would experience. The Person experiencing was God and the Church could only marvel but never deny the reality of the mystery of the Incarnation. The contemplation of the mystery would reveal that the pain, suffering, emotions, desires, needs of any person having a human nature would also be that of Jesus Christ who has a human nature even though He is a Divine Person, that is, a divine nature.
I hope to continue the topic of the Sacred Heart next week.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Berengarius of Tours and Transubstantiation
O foolish wise men who do not understand either Augustine, or the other holy authors, or the Church’s customary words; more accurately, they wickedly pervert them with remarkable diligence! And, truly, Augustine in the book De doctrina Christiana never called the food of the altar of the Lord a sign or figure, but he said that the celebration of the Lord’s body was a sign, and this we also believe [to be true]. For as often as the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord occurs, truly we do not kill Christ again, but instead we commemorate his death in and through that celebration; and the celebration itself is a certain commemoration of the Passion of Christ. The commemoration of the Passion of Christ, however, signifies the Passion itself.
Therefore, the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord is a sign of the Passion of Christ. And this is what blessed Augustine says:
In this time, though, after the clearest indication of our freedom has shone upon us in the resurrection of our Lord, we are no longer burdened with the heavy duty of carrying out even those signs whose meaning we now understand. But the Lord himself and the discipline of the apostles has handed down to us just a few signs instead of many, and these so easy to perform, and so awesome to understand, and so pure and chaste to celebrate, such as the sacrament of baptism, and the celebration of the Lord’s body and blood. (De doctrina Christiana 3.9.13)
(Op. cit. 146)
After giving an explanation of Mass, applying the term, sacrament of the altar, to mean the Body of Blood of Christ, and showing that Saint Augustine, in explaining John’s passage concerning the words, Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood (John 6:54), he teaches Christ offers His Body and Blood not in butchered and bite-size pieces but truly and whole.
In his third book, Guitmund provides a summation of quotes from the Fathers of the Church verifying their belief in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, thus showing a Catholic faith of which Berengarius was departing from. From the rejection of Christ’s real presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, Berengarius brought the greatest minds of the times to present a clear teaching of the Church regarding the Holy Eucharist that would be confirmed by the Council of Trent. Guitmund used the expression, substantialiter transmutari, twice.
Hildebert of Lavardin, a well-known writer and poet, who was also Archbishop of Tours from 1125, is accredited for having first used the term transubstantiation:
Antiochus Epiphanes idolum posuit in templo Domini, ob quam abominationem non licuit sacrificare in templo donec initiatum fuerit. In hunc modum, si fuero vas incontinentiae et libidinis, in altari juxta filium Virginis statuo filium Veneris. Cum profero verba Canonis, et verbum transubstantionis, et os meum plenum est contradictione, et amaritudine, et dolo, quamvis eum honorem labiis, tamen spuo in faciem Salvatoris. Cum præsumo sumere Dominum meum, et panem in os meum sic pollutum, levius esset si projicerem eum in lutum platearum. . . . (Sermones xciii; P.L., CLXXI, 776.)
It may be translated as follows: When Antiochus placed an idol in the temple, they were not allowed to offer sacrifice in the temple until it has been cleansed. In the same way, if I am incontinence and sensual I place next to the Son of the Virgin an altar to the son of Venus. When I utter the words of the canon and the word of transubstantiation, yet my mouth is full of contradiction, and bitterness, and deceit, although honor may be on the lips, I spit in the face of the Savior. When I presume to receive my Lord and the bread is polluted in my mouth, it is worst than I threw it into the mire of the streets. . . .
Saint Thomas (+1274) finalized the understanding and use of the word transubstantiation in his Summa Theologica which also answers the objections of Berengarius and his followers:
Question 75. The change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ
Article 1. Whether the body of Christ be in this sacrament in very truth, or merely as in a figure or sign?
Objection 1. It seems that the body of Christ is not in this sacrament in very truth, but only as in a figure, or sign. For it is written (John 6:54) that when our Lord had uttered these words: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood,” etc., “Many of His disciples on hearing it said: ‘this is a hard saying'”: to whom He rejoined: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing”: as if He were to say, according to Augustine’s exposition on Ps. 4 [On Psalm 98:9]: “Give a spiritual meaning to what I have said. You are not to eat this body which you see, nor to drink the blood which they who crucify Me are to spill. It is a mystery that I put before you: in its spiritual sense it will quicken you; but the flesh profiteth nothing.”
Objection 2. Further, our Lord said (Matthew 28:20): “Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” Now in explaining this, Augustine makes this observation (Tract. xxx in Joan.): “The Lord is on high until the world be ended; nevertheless the truth of the Lord is here with us; for the body, in which He rose again, must be in one place; but His truth is spread abroad everywhere.” Therefore, the body of Christ is not in this sacrament in very truth, but only as in a sign.
Objection 3. Further, no body can be in several places at the one time. For this does not even belong to an angel; since for the same reason it could be everywhere. But Christ’s is a true body, and it is in heaven. Consequently, it seems that it is not in very truth in the sacrament of the altar, but only as in a sign.
Objection 4. Further, the Church’s sacraments are ordained for the profit of the faithful. But according to Gregory in a certain Homily (xxviii in Evang.), the ruler is rebuked “for demanding Christ’s bodily presence.” Moreover the apostles were prevented from receiving the Holy Ghost because they were attached to His bodily presence, as Augustine says on John 16:7: “Except I go, the Paraclete will not come to you” (Tract. xciv in Joan.). Therefore Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar according to His bodily presence.
On the contrary, Hilary says (De Trin. viii): “There is no room for doubt regarding the truth of Christ’s body and blood; for now by our Lord’s own declaring and by our faith His flesh is truly food, and His blood is truly drink.” And Ambrose says (De Sacram. vi): “As the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s true Son so is it Christ’s true flesh which we take, and His true blood which we drink.”
I answer that, The presence of Christ’s true body and blood in this sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith alone, which rests upon Divine authority. Hence, on Luke 22:19: “This is My body which shall be delivered up for you,” Cyril says: “Doubt not whether this be true; but take rather the Saviour’s words with faith; for since He is the Truth, He lieth not.”
Now this is suitable, first for the perfection of the New Law. For, the sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of Christ’s Passion, according to Hebrews 10:1: “For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things.” And therefore it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth. And therefore this sacrament which contains Christ Himself, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii), is perfective of all the other sacraments, in which Christ’s virtue is participated.
Secondly, this belongs to Christ’s love, out of which for our salvation He assumed a true body of our nature. And because it is the special feature of friendship to live together with friends, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix), He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying (Matthew 24:28): “Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together.” Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His bodily presence; but unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the truth of His body and blood. Hence (John 6:57) he says: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.” Hence this sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope, from such familiar union of Christ with us.
Thirdly, it belongs to the perfection of faith, which concerns His humanity just as it does His Godhead, according to John 14:1: “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” And since faith is of things unseen, as Christ shows us His Godhead invisibly, so also in this sacrament He shows us His flesh in an invisible manner.
Some men accordingly, not paying heed to these things, have contended that Christ’s body and blood are not in this sacrament except as in a sign, a thing to be rejected as heretical, since it is contrary to Christ’s words. Hence Berengarius, who had been the first deviser of this heresy, was afterwards forced to withdraw his error, and to acknowledge the truth of the faith.
Reply to Objection 1. From this authority the aforesaid heretics have taken occasion to err from evilly understanding Augustine’s words. For when Augustine says: “You are not to eat this body which you see,” he means not to exclude the truth of Christ’s body, but that it was not to be eaten in this species in which it was seen by them. And by the words: “It is a mystery that I put before you; in its spiritual sense it will quicken you,” he intends not that the body of Christ is in this sacrament merely according to mystical signification, but “spiritually,” that is, invisibly, and by the power of the spirit. Hence (Tract. xxvii), expounding John 6:64: “the flesh profiteth nothing,” he says: “Yea, but as they understood it, for they understood that the flesh was to be eaten as it is divided piecemeal in a dead body, or as sold in the shambles, not as it is quickened by the spirit . . . Let the spirit draw nigh to the flesh . . . then the flesh profiteth very much: for if the flesh profiteth nothing, the Word had not been made flesh, that It might dwell among us.”
Reply to Objection 2. That saying of Augustine and all others like it are to be understood of Christ’s body as it is beheld in its proper species; according as our Lord Himself says (Matthew 26:11): “But Me you have not always.” Nevertheless He is invisibly under the species of this sacrament, wherever this sacrament is performed.
Reply to Objection 3. Christ’s body is not in this sacrament in the same way as a body is in a place, which by its dimensions is commensurate with the place; but in a special manner which is proper to this sacrament. Hence we say that Christ’s body is upon many altars, not as in different places, but “sacramentally”: and thereby we do not understand that Christ is there only as in a sign, although a sacrament is a kind of sign; but that Christ’s body is here after a fashion proper to this sacrament, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 4. This argument holds good of Christ’s bodily presence, as He is present after the manner of a body, that is, as it is in its visible appearance, but not as it is spiritually, that is, invisibly, after the manner and by the virtue of the spirit. Hence Augustine (Tract. xxvii in Joan.) says: “If thou hast understood” Christ’s words spiritually concerning His flesh, “they are spirit and life to thee; if thou hast understood them carnally, they are also spirit and life, but not to thee.”
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
John xiv. 23-31
AT THAT TIME: Jesus said to his disciples: If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love me, does not keep my words. And the word that you have heard is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, or be afraid. You have heard me say to you, ‘I go away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would indeed rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it has come to pass you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the prince of the world is coming, and in me he has nothing. But he comes that the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do as the Father has commanded me.
EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA
V. 23. Jesus said: If any one love me, he will keep my word . . .
GREGORY, Hom. 30 in Gospel: The proof of love is to do good. The love of God is never idle; where you find it, it is doing great things. If it does nothing, love is not there.
AUGUSTINE, Tr. 76 in John 2: It is love divides the sanctified from the world, and makes men dwell in peace in one house, and in this house the Father and the Son take up their abode: They Who give this love to those to whom they will finally give the Divine Wisdom. There is a certain inward vision of God of which the wicked know nothing; there is no vision of the Father and the Holy Spirit for them. Of the Son there could be, in the flesh; but this is not the same as the other: it is only for a little while, not for ever; for judgement, not for joy; for punishment, not as a reward.
And we will come to him. They come to us, when we go to Them. They come to us, helping us; we go to Them, by obedience. They come in light, we come in contemplation. They come filling us, we come receiving: so the vision given us is inward, not outward, and their abode in us is not fleeting but eternal. And so we have: And will make our abode with them.
GREGORY, as above: For He comes into certain hearts, but does not make His abode there; for though through compunction they do in fact feel a love for God, in time of temptation hath given me commandment, so do I. they forget what moved them to repentance. He who truly loves God, into that heart God comes, and there makes His abode. For the love of God has so penetrated it, that in time of temptation it will not go back upon this love. For he truly loves whose soul is not conquered by consent to evil delight.
AUGUSTINE, as above, 4: Are we to suppose that the Holy Ghost is excluded from this mansion the Father and Son are making in the heart that loves Them? What then is the meaning of the words spoken earlier: He shall abide with you, and shall be in you (v. 17)? Unless there is anyone so foolish as to believe that when the Father and Son come the Holy Ghost departs; as giving place to superiors? Yet even to this carnal notion Holy Scripture has an answer, when it says: That he may abide with you for ever (v. 16). Therefore He shall be with Them for ever in this same mansion; for as He came not without Them, neither did They come without Him. For in the teaching of the Trinity certain acts are imputed to separately named Persons; yet by reason of the Substance (nature) of the same Trinity by this it is not to be understood that these are done separately from the Others.
GREGORY: The more a man delights in earthly things, the more he is shut off from heavenly love. Hence:
V. 24. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words.
So life, soul and tongue proclaim our love of the Creator.
CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 74 in John: Or: Judas thought that they were to see Him as we see the dead in sleep, and so he asks Him: How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? As though he were to say: Woe to us that you will die and appear to us as the dead appear. Lest they have this notion in mind He says: I and the Father will come to him; that is, as the Father reveals Himself, so shall I. And will make our abode with him; which is not the way of dreams. Then follows: And the word you have heard is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me; that is, He who does not hear My words, not alone does he not love Me, but neither does he love the Father. He said this because He uttered nothing without the Father; or spoke that alone which was pleasing to Him.
AUGUSTINE, as above: And also, perhaps because of a certain distinction, where He speaks of His words He speaks of them in the plural; as when He says: He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. But where He says the Word is not His, but the Father’s, He means Himself For He is not His own Word, but the Father’s; as He is not His own image, but the Father’s. Rightly then does He attribute what He does, as His Equal, to the Author from Whom comes the Attribute of being wholly His Equal.
V. 25. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you.
CHRYSOSTOM: Since some of the things He said were clear and some they did not understand, that they might not be troubled, He adds: These things I have spoken etc. AUGUSTINE: The promised abode is not the same as this abiding He here speaks of. The first is spiritual, and made known inwardly to souls; this other is of the body and made known by eyes and ears.
CHRYSOSTOM: That they might the more cheerfully bear the departure of His bodily presence from among them, He prepares them for this by promising that His bodily going from them would be the source of great blessings. For while He dwelt among them in His body, and until the Spirit had come, they could not come to the knowledge of great things. Hence:
V. 26. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send . . .
GREGORY: Paraclete means Consoler or Advocate. He is called Advocate when He intercedes with the Father for sinners; while those He fills He inspires to pray for themselves. The same Spirit is called Consoler (Comforter), because He uplifts with the hope of pardon those who grieve for the sins they have committed. CHRYSOSTOM: He constantly calls Him the Paraclete because of the afflictions that then surrounded them.
DIDYMUS, On the Holy Spirit, Jerome II: The Saviour declares that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father in His, the Saviour’s, Name: for the true name of the Saviour is Son; since by this word there is made known to us both community of Nature and, if I may say so, the distinction of Persons. Because of the relationship of Father to Son it is only the Son Who can come in the Name of the Father. No one else comes in the Name of the Father, but only, for example, in the Name of God, or of the Lord, or of the Almighty. Just as servants who come in the name of a master, by the very fact of serving and obeying they proclaim their master (for servants mean a master); so the Son Who comes in the Name of the Father bears that Name for the reason that He is the acknowledged Only-Begotten Son of God.
That the Holy Spirit is sent in the Son’s Name by the Father, shows He is joined in Oneness with the Son. For this He is called the Spirit of the Son; and through adoption by Him He makes sons of those who wish to receive Him. This Holy Spirit then, sent by the Father, comes in the Name of the Son, and will teach all things to those who have been confirmed in the faith of Christ: all spiritual things, all that can be understood of divine truth, and the secrets of holy wisdom. And He will teach, not as those who by industry and study have acquired a little knowledge, and a little wisdom, but, as though He were Himself Knowledge and Doctrine and Wisdom, the Spirit of Truth will make known, invisibly, to our mind the knowledge of divine things.
GREGORY: Unless the same Spirit is in the heart of the hearer the words of the teacher are in vain. Let no one then attribute to the man who is teaching that which he understands from the lips of his teacher; for, unless there is One within Who teaches, the tongue of the teacher without labours in vain. The Creator Himself does not speak for man’s enlightenment, unless the Spirit, by His unction, also speaks to the man (I John ii. 27).
AUGUSTINE, Tr. 77, 2: Is it that the Son speaks, and the Holy Spirit teaches, so that when the Son speaks we hear the words, and when the Holy Spirit teaches we understand them? It is the whole Trinity that both speaks and teaches. But unless this mystery (of the Trinity) is placed before us, Person by Person, in no way could human infirmity grasp it.
GREGORY: Let us ask ourselves why is it said of the Spirit: He will bring all things to your mind; since to prompt is the office of an inferior? But as we use the word prompt sometimes to convey the meaning of secretly helping, the Spirit is here said to prompt us invisibly, not because He adds to our knowledge in a lowly manner, but in a secret manner.
AUGUSTINE: Or, that He adds, He will bring all things to your mind (that is, He will remind you) we should understand to mean what we are bidden not to forget, that His most salutary reminders refer to the grace by which the Spirit reminds us.
THEOPHYLACTUS: The Holy Spirit then has both taught us and reminded us. He has taught whatever it was Christ did not teach His Disciples, because they were not able to bear it; He reminded them of whatever the Lord had said to them, but which they could not remember, either because of its obscurity, or because they were slow of mind.
SS. PRIMUS AND FELICIAN, MARTYRS (c. A.D. 297)
THE brothers Primus and Felician were Roman patricians who embraced Christianity and devoted themselves to works of charity, especially to visiting the confessors in prison. In spite of their zeal they escaped persecution for many years but about the year 297, in the reign of Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, they were arrested. They refused to sacrifice, were imprisoned, and scourged. After wards they were conveyed to Nomentum, a town twelve miles from Rome, where they were tried by a magistrate named Promotus. As they remained steadfast they were again tortured. Both were then sentenced to be beheaded. After Primus who was eighty years of age, had been executed, the judge tried to overcome the constancy of Felician by pretending that his brother had yielded. The confessor, however, was not to be deceived and cheerfully faced death on the same day. Over the burial-place of the two martyrs in the Via Nomentana a church was afterwards built. In 640 Pope Theodore caused their relics to be brought to San Stefano Rotondo, and this translation is said to have been the first instance of the removal of the bodies of martyrs from a church dedicated to them outside the walls of Rome to a basilica within the city.
ST VINCENT OF AGEN, Martyr (c. A.D. 300?)
ST VINCENT was a deacon who lived in Gascony, probably towards the end of the third century. Apparently because he interrupted a pagan ceremony, which may have been a druidical feast, he was arrested at Agen and brought before the governor. He was laid flat with his limbs extended, fixed to the ground by four stakes. In that position he was cruelly scourged and then beheaded. His relics were buried at Mas d’ Agenais; St Gregory of Tours and Fortunatus of Poitiers testify that in the sixth and seventh centuries many flocked from all parts of Europe in pilgrimage to his tomb.
AND OUR CHILDREN
Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons
By Mary Reed Newland (1956)
THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION
Our Lord is reminding us of something else. All that He has done, He has done that we may follow Him. If this glory He has won with the price of His suffering is for us to share in Heaven, we must expect to suffer too so that we may enter it. I am the Way, He said. He entered His glory by way of suffering and death. It is good to be reminded. Suffering is necessary and sanctifying if we use it in imitation of Him; and the way to Him finally is through death. We must teach this to our children, else they, too, like so much of the world, may fail to see that suffering is a divine invitation, and death the doorway to Heaven.
The same day Jesus appeared to the Eleven in Jerusalem. St. Luke tells about it in the Gospel used Easter Tuesday, and St. John in the Gospel for low Sunday.
At first they were alone, and then suddenly He was there. It frightened them! “Peace be to you,” He said. “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
But they were afraid. They thought it must be His Spirit. So He tried to calm them. He showed them His hands and His feet. “It is I myself—touch me and see.”
Still they weren’t sure. Then He thought of something. (He must have smiled.) “Have you anything to eat?”
And He ate a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb. A ghost does not eat!
Then, as He told the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He told the Apostles: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled that are written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.”
HOW THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE BEGAN
Twice He has said how important it is to see that He is the Messias of the Prophets and the Scriptures. Quite plainly He tells us to read Holy Scripture.
Then (in St. John’s Gospel) He said: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.” And breathing on them He said: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”
Here is the Sacrament of Penance. It is as important for our children to know this scene by heart as it is for them to know the words of Our Lord concerning Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. These are sacraments He instituted Himself, leaving no room for doubt concerning their meaning. He, not some subsequent Council or Pope, gave His priests the power to forgive sins in His name in the confessional.
For years I did not know the words said over me in absolution in the confessional. They are marvelously beautiful, and comforting.
May almighty God have mercy on thee, forgive thee thy sins, and bring thee to life everlasting. Amen.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant thee pardon, absolution, and remission of thy sins. Amen.
May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve thee, and I by His authority do absolve thee from every bond of excommunication and interdict, as far as I can and thou needest it.
And so I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all the Saints, whatever good thou hast done and whatever evil thou hast borne, be to thee unto the remission of sins, the increase of grace, and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.
What a difference it makes to learn about this sacrament from Our Lord Himself! He anticipates it with such gentleness, calming the fears of the Apostles, reassuring them in their doubt. Peace be with you. It is I. Do not be afraid. Might not the family, reading this story, retelling it often, especially in this season following Easter, impress the young minds with its great tenderness in a way that will inspire in them a special love and longing for this sacrament of forgiveness? It is a sacrament that flows from His longing for us.
Then St. John goes on to tell of Thomas the Doubter, the twin saint, who was not there at this meeting, and on coming later was told of the appearance of the Lord.
“But he said to them: ‘Unless I shall see in His hand the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ “
So Our Lord came again (but He let Thomas doubt a whole week before He did), and then St. Thomas made the most powerful declaration of faith in Christ’s divinity in the entire Gospel: “My Lord and my God.”
When they know this story of St. Thomas well, they can say these words with love and understanding at the elevation at the Mass.
A PICNIC BREAKFAST
There is a special treat for the family in the Gospel for Wednesday of Easter week. All this time, you recall, Our Lord appeared and disappeared, having no need for doors. This is a glorified Christ: no longer dwelling intimately with the Apostles night and day, but appearing to teach and comfort, then disappearing. This “glory” is one of the mysteries we will have to wait for Heaven to understand.
Now on this occasion, Peter and Thomas and Nathaniel and James and John and two others had gone fishing. They had fished all night and caught nothing. When morning came, Jesus stood on the shore (but they did not recognize Him) and He called out to them: “Young men, have you any fish?”
They answered Him: “No.”
Then: “Cast the net to the right of the boat and you will find them.”
How marvelous! Especially for boys who fish. We have two such who are just learning the trick of dropping a fly into the brook to tease the trout out from under the banks. Oh, to have a Friend who could look right through the shadows behind the rocks and say: “Drop your line here and you will find them.”
“They cast, therefore, and now they were unable to draw it up for the great number of fishes. The disciple whom Jesus loved said therefore to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.'”
John would know, instinctively. He was so quick to see things.
But Peter would immediately go—that was his way. And girding his tunic about him he threw himself into the sea and began to lunge through the water toward the shore. The rest came behind with the boat, dragging the net full of fishes.
Now comes the best part of all. “When, therefore, they had landed, they saw a fire ready, and a fish laid upon it, and bread. “Jesus said to them: ‘Bring here some of the fishes that you caught just now.’ “
So Peter went aboard and hauled the net to land, and it was full with one hundred and fifty-three large fishes. But it was not torn. And Jesus said to them: “Come and breakfast.” A picnic!
This is the season of the year—why not? A picnic for us, too?
In the morning—a picnic breakfast! If you live in the country, choosing the site is the problem. Under the sugar maple in front, or under the sugar maple in back? down by the brook? There are beautiful dewy things early in the morning down by the brook, gone as soon as the sun gets high. The water sounds are beautiful, and the birds—new ones coming back every day—are there, and the first skunk cabbage, the first cowslips, the first violets. After-Easter comes in so many different parts! This season has so many little seasons!
Or if you live in the town, breakfast on the back porch or the back yard or the breezeway?
Or if you live in the city, breakfast on the roof? Or do you have a little areaway in back (supposing you are on the ground floor), or a park nearby? It could be breakfast in the park early in the morning right after Mass, with hot coffee and cocoa in thermoses, and maybe fat bacon rolls in the lunch box. Just for the fun of sharing an outdoor breakfast once a year with Him.
If you have no place, only a room, or an apartment, still have a picnic with Him in your heart. Have something very good to eat- special bread, maybe, or rolls—and bring some of the spring in with you, perhaps flowers off a pushcart; and bring Him home in your hearts from Mass and have a place at the table set for Him. He will really be there among you.
It happened on the shore of the sea of Tiberius, on an April or May morning.
After they had finished their breakfast, He said to Peter: “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?”
“Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” And He said to Peter: “Feed my lambs.”
Then He asked him a second time: “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?”
Then Peter said: “Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.”
“Feed my lambs.” Then he asked Peter a third time: “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?”
Then Peter was truly grieved. He did not have to ask the reason for the question three times. Our Lord was letting him say “I love You” thrice to make up for his three denials. “Lord, thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee.”
Our Lord was also here asserting the primacy of Peter. To solemnly repeat three times in the presence of witnesses such a charge as this gave the act a legal seal of validity. “Before memory and the spoken word were replaced by documents and signatures, that was the recognized way of making a good juridical disposition” (Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture), Thus, before witnesses, Peter was made head of the Church and the faithful were in his care, as they would be in the care of all the Peters who would follow him. This occasion, and the time He called Peter a rock and said, “On this Rock I will build My Church,” are Our Lord defining the Papacy. We must teach our children this.
On the fortieth day on a hillside near Bethany, Christ gave them their final instruction. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me; you therefore must go out, making disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all the commandments which I have given you. And behold I am with you all days, even until the consummation of the world” (St. Matthew).
He said that they were to be His witnesses even to the ends of the earth (Acts). (St. Patrick, in his Confession, said that was the reason he braved the far wild lonely places in Ireland, where he went in search of pagans in order to baptize them.) He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for their baptism of fire, which they would receive not many days hence, “the fulfillment of the Father’s promise”; and He was promising them Pentecost (Acts).
Then they saw Him lifted up and carried out of sight in a cloud, and as they gazed heavenward, two men in white garments were suddenly standing at their side. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking heavenward? He Who has been taken from you into heaven, this same Jesus, will come back in the same fashion, just as you have watched him going into heaven.” This is the scene of the Second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary….
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