Vol 13 Issue 48 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward KrierNovember 28, 2020 ~ Our Lady on Saturday
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. First Sunday in Advent
3. Saint Saturninus
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
This Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, Holy Mother Church starts the New Year. Though there may not be the resolutions one thinks of for the beginning of the civil year, it is still one that returns to the beginning and what that beginning entails, an end. Therefore, as in the beginning one observes that Adam and Eve fell into sin. This initiated the long awaiting of a Coming Saviour Who would Redeem Adam and Eve and their posterity from the enslavement to the wicked serpent, from death, and exclusion from heaven. The fulfillment of that long waiting being accomplished in the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. The second promise of the Eternal Word, that the Father and He would send the Holy Ghost also being fulfilled (Pentecost), there was the further promise that He, the Christ, would come again to judge the living and the dead, that would also end this present world. The Second Coming was prophesied in the Old Testament though the lines were blurred by the Jews between His first coming in humility and His second coming in glory and, without the distinction, making the prophecies concerning Christ contradictory—thereby crucifying the very Messias they were waiting for. Just as the Jews did not recognize the First Coming because they looked for a glorious earthly kingdom, the Second Coming is easily also not awaited by Catholics because one might be looking for an earthly kingdom through the same lenses and not looking at the reality that Christ came to establish a spiritual kingdom that finds its triumph through a transformation of grace and obtains its conclusion in the possession of the Beatific Vision.
One can see this in the interpretation of the Reign of Mary as an earthly kingdom rather than in the faithful who are devoted to her. They may object and say the Lady of the Rosary, the Virgin Mary, told the seers of Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph—but they too soon forget that Christ reigns from the Cross where He triumphed over death and sin—and there is neither an earthly kingdom He established nor did He put an end to physical death as one naturally understands it. The final victory is when Christ comes to judge the living and the dead, and Mary will reign with her Son as the Woman clothed with the sun—that is, in Her Son’s glory—with the moon under her feet—that is, sin never having touched her.
Catholics have always waited for the Coming of Christ as taught through Scripture, as the Liturgy expresses this eschatological mystery of faith, and now as the times we live in give credence to the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Christ and the Apostles that would take place before Jesus Christ returned. Instead of witnessing the great falling away as a prelude to another renewal of the divine intervention of God setting man back on the course of salvation, one should rather heed the words of Scripture, which, at Pentecost Peter speaks, quoting Joel: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord,) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:17; cf. Joel 2:27ff) This gives evidence that these are the final days, which the Apostles also give testimony to the early Christians and therefore to us:
Saint Peter: Foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you.
(1 Peter 1:20) Knowing this first, that in the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts. (2 Peter 3:3)
Saint Paul: Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1) Know also this, that, in the last days, shall come dangerous times. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Saint John: Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)
Saint Jude: Who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. (Jude 1:18)
We live in these last days. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, Saint Paul gives an outline that, in the present struggle for holding fast to Tradition, has been the foundation for basing the right to keep the [one, holy, and apostolic] Catholic Faith, the Catholic Sacraments, the Catholic Sacrifice in union with the Catholic Papacy extending through all the centuries and all bishops submissive to it:
And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him: That you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity. But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved of God, for that God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation, in sanctification of the spirit, and faith of the truth: Whereunto also he hath called you by our gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
If the Great Western Schism was sufficient to have Saint Vincent Ferrer preach Christ’s Second Coming, would not the Great General Apostasy now witnessed be cause to recognize Christ’s Second Coming is nearer? Even at the door? Sometimes I sense the difference between those who recognize the Chair of Peter as vacant and those still holding on to a man who claims the Chair of Peter but is not even Catholic is whether they believe in the Second Coming of Christ or whether they believe in an earthly Kingship of Christ, the Christ Who said: My kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36)
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
Reception of the Holy Eucharist: Holy Communion
The Reception of the Body and Blood of Christ
Receiving Holy Communion as a Sacrament
This [understanding of using the complete form for validity] is further taught in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Roman Catechism, which reads:
But as the words of consecration are replete with mysteries, and are most appropriate in their application to our present subject, they demand a more minute consideration. When, therefore, it is said: “This is the chalice of my blood,” (Decret. 1. 3. de cel. Miss. c. 8.) these words are to be understood to mean: “This is my blood which is contained in this chalice.” The mention of “the chalice,” at the moment of its consecration, to be the drink of the faithful, is peculiarly appropriate: without its mention as the vessel in which it is contained, the words: “This is my blood,” would not seem sufficiently to designate this supernatural species of drink. Next follow the words: “of the New Testament;” they are added to give us to understand, that the blood of the Saviour is not now given figuratively, as in the Old Law, of which we read in the Apostle, that without blood a Testament is not dedicated; (Cf. Heb. ix. 18.) but really and truly given, a prerogative peculiar to the New Testament. Hence the Apostle says: “Therefore, Christ is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of his death, they who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Heb. ix. 15.) The word “eternal” refers to the eternal inheritance, our title to which has been purchased by Christ the Lord, the eternal Testator. The words “mystery of faith,” which are added, exclude not the reality, but signify that what lies concealed under the veil of mystery, and is far removed from the ken of mortal eye, is to be believed with the certainty of faith. Here, however, these words bear an import entirely different from that which they have when applied to baptism. Here, the mystery of faith consists in this, that we see by faith the blood of Christ, veiled under the species of wine; but baptism is properly called by us “the Sacrament,” by the Greeks, “the mystery of faith,” because it comprises the entire profession of the faith of Christ. There is also an other reason why the blood of our Lord is called “the mystery of faith.” In its belief human reason experiences the greatest difficulties, because faith proposes to us to believe that the Son of God, God and man, suffered death for our redemption, a death signified by the Sacrament of his blood. His passion, therefore, is more appropriately commemorated here, in the words, “which shall be shed for the remission of sins,” than at the consecration of his body. The separate consecration of the blood places before our eyes, in more vivid colours, his passion, crucifixion, and death. The additional words, “for you and for many,” are taken, some from St. Matthew, (Matt. xxvi. 28.) some from St. Luke, (Luke xxii. 20.) and under the guidance of the Spirit of God, combined together by the Catholic Church. They serve emphatically to designate the fruit and advantages of his passion.
Looking to the efficacy of the passion, we believe that the Redeemer shed his blood for the salvation of all men; but looking to the advantages, which mankind derive from its efficacy, we find, at once, that they are not extended to the whole, but to a large proportion of the human race. When, therefore, our Lord said: “for you,” he meant either those who were present, or those whom he had chosen from amongst the Jews, amongst whom were, with the exception of Judas, all his disciples with whom he then conversed; but when he adds, “for many,” he would include the remainder of the elect from amongst the Jews and Gentiles. With great propriety therefore, were the words, for all, omitted, because here the fruit of the passion is alone spoken of, and to the elect only did his passion bring the fruit of salvation. This the words of the Apostle declare, when he says, that Christ was offered once, to take away the sins of many; (Heb. ix. 26.) and the same truth is conveyed in these words of our Lord recorded by St. John: “I pray for them, I pray not for the world; but for them whom thou hast given me, because they are thine.” (John xvii. 9.) The words of consecration also convey many other truths; truths, however, which the pastor by the daily meditation and study of divine things, and aided by grace from above, will not find it difficult to discover. (Part II, 4, 218-220)
Saint Alphonsus Liguori in his Treatise on the Holy Eucharist, when explaining the Mass again repeats:
The form of the consecration is taken from St. Matthew: Hoc est corpus meum. These words need no explanation, since they themselves declare what mystery is accomplished, namely, the change of the bread into the body of Jesus Christ.
The form of the consecration of the chalice is as follows: Hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni Testamenti, mysterium fidei, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. These words the Church has taken from different texts of the Gospel, partly from St. Luke, partly from St. Matthew. St. Luke says: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you (Luke xxii. 20). St. Matthew: For this is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins (Matt. xxvi. 28). The word aeterni, ‘everlasting’, is found in St. Paul: In the blood of the everlasting testament (Heb. xiii. 20). The other words, Mystery of faith, the Roman catechism declares are taught by sacred tradition, which is the guardian of Catholic truths. This divine mystery is called Mystery of faith not to exclude the reality of the blood of Jesus Christ, but to show that in it the faith shines forth in a wonderful manner, and triumphs over all difficulties that may be raised by human reason, since it is here, says Innocent III (De Alt. Myst. l. 4, c. 36), that we see one thing and believe another. we believe, he adds, that the form that we read in the Canon was received from Jesus Christ by the Apostles, and that they transmitted it to their successors (Sane formam istam verborum ab ipso Christo acceperunt Apostoli, et ab ipsis Apostolis accepit Ecclesia—ibid. c. 5). The Roman Catechism (P. 2, c. 4, q. 20), moreover, says, that the words of the consecration should be thus understood: It is my blood that is contained in the chalice of the New Testament. This signifies that men receive no longer the figures of the blood of Jesus Christ, as was the case in the Old Law; but really receive the true blood of the New Testament. The words pro vobis et pro multis (for you and for many) are used to distinguish the virtue of the blood of Christ from its fruits; for the blood of the Savior is of sufficient value to save all men, but its fruits are applicable only to a certain number and not to all, and this is their own fault. Or, as the theologians say, this precious blood is (in itself) sufficiently (sufficienter) able to save all men, but (on our part) effectually (efficienter) it does not save all—it saves only those who co-operate with grace. This is the explanation of St. Thomas (Aquinas), as quoted by Benedict XIV (De Miss. Sacr. l. 2, c. 15—Benedict here observes that St. Thomas (P. 3, q. 18, a. 3) seems to favor the opinion of those who make the essential form of the consecration of the chalice consist in all the words that the priest pronounces as far as Haec quotiescumque; because the words that follow, Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei, are determinationes praedicati, that is to say, sanguinis Christi, and consequently, belonging ad integritatem ejusdem locutionis, are de substantia formae. St. Pius V caused the contrary opinion to be erased from the commentary of Cajetan. (53-55)
The Council of Florence had already decreed: . . . The form of the Sacrament is the words of the Savior with which He effected (confecit) this Sacrament; for the priest effects (conficit) this Sacrament by speaking in the person of Christ. It is by the power of these words that the substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ, and the substance of wine into His blood. This change takes place in such a way that the whole Christ is present under the species of bread and the whole Christ is present under the species of wine. Further, the whole Christ is present under any part of the consecrated host or the consecrated wine when separated from the rest. (Bull, Exultate Deo; cf. D698)
The Council of Trent, in its decree On the Most Holy Eucharist, Session XIII, Chapters 3 and 4, teach these words of Christ are the form, opposing not only those who would deny the Real Presence, but those who would deny the words confect the Sacrament—rejecting those claiming it is done at the Epiclesis, or invocation of the Holy Ghost.
This, indeed, the most Holy Eucharist has in common with the other sacraments, that it is a “symbol of a sacred thing and a visible form of an invisible grace”; but this excellent and peculiar thing is found in it, that the other sacraments first have the power of sanctifying, when one uses them, but in the Eucharist there is the Author of sanctity Himself before it is used. For the apostles had not yet received the Eucharist from the hand of the Lord [ Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22] when He Himself truly said that what He was offering was His body; and this belief has always been in the Church of God, that immediately after the consecration the true body of our Lord and His true blood together with His soul and divinity exist under the species of bread and wine; but the body indeed under the species of bread, and the blood under the species of wine by the force of the words, but the body itself under both by force of that natural connection and concomitance by which the parts of Christ the Lord, “who hath now risen from the dead to die no more” [Rom. 6:9], are mutually united, the divinity also because of that admirable hypostatic union with His body and soul. Therefore, it is very true that as much is contained under either species as under both. For Christ whole and entire exists under the species of bread and under any part whatsoever of that species, likewise the whole (Christ) is present under the species of wine and under its parts. (Cf. DB 876)
But since Christ, our Redeemer, has said that that is truly His own body which He offered under the species of bread [cf. Matt. 26:26ff.; Mark 14:22ff.; Luke 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.], it has always been a matter of conviction in the Church of God, and now this holy Synod declares it again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine a conversion takes place of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This conversion is appropriately and properly called transubstantiation by the Catholic Church. (Cf. DB 877)
It is found again in Canon 4:
If anyone says that after the completion of the consecration that the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is not in the marvelous sacrament of the Eucharist, but only in use, while it is taken, not however before or after, and that in the hosts or consecrated particles, which are reserved or remain after communion, the true body of the Lord does not remain: let him be anathema. (Cf. DB 886)
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
LUKE xxi. 25-33At that time, Jesus said to His Disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves; men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude. See the fig tree, and all the trees: when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen, I say to you, this generation (This Adulterous & sinful generation MK. 8-38) shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
ST AMBROSE: ON THE GOSPEL
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon . . . Here is a linked chain of prophecy, and the reason of the mystery why the Jews, already twice led captive, to Babylon and to Syria, will again be captive in all the world: because they have denied Christ; and why Jerusalem, as was later seen, was to be laid waste by an invading host, and her people fall by the edge of the sword; and why all that was Judea was to be vanquished by the believing nations, by the sword of the spirit, which is the two-edged word of God.
There will be diverse signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, These signs are expressed more clearly in Matthew: then, says He, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven (Mt. xxiv. 29). For, many falling away from Christianity, the brightness of faith will be dimmed by the cloud of apostasy; since the heavenly Sun grows dim, or shines in greater splendour, according to my faith. As when many together look at the rays of the earthly sun, it will seem dim or bright according to the eye of the beholder, so does the light of the spirit fill each one according to the measure of his faith. And as the moon in its monthly eclipse disappears from view, by reason of the earth coming between it and the sun, so likewise the Holy Church, when the vices of the flesh stand in the way of the celestial light, can no longer borrow the splendour of His divine light from the Sun of Christ. And in the persecutions it was invariably the love of this life that kept out the light of the Divine Sun.
ST SATURNINUS, MARTYR (c. A.D. 309)
THE Western church makes a commemoration of this martyr in today’s liturgy, but particulars of him are known only from the passio of Pope St Marcellus I. The Roman Martyrology says: “At Rome on the Salarian Way the birthday of the holy martyrs, the aged Saturninus and Sisinnius, the deacon, under the Emperor Maximian. After they had been weakened by a long imprisonment the prefect of the city ordered them to be put on the rack and stretched, beaten with rods and scourges, scorched with fire, and then taken down from the rack and beheaded.” St Saturninus is said in an epitaph by Pope St Damasus to have been a priest who came to Rome from Carthage; he was certainly buried in the cemetery of Thraso on the Via Salaria Nova.
ST SATURNINUS, OR SERNIN, BISHOP OF TOULOUSE, MARTYR (THIRD CENTURY?)
ST SATURNINUS is venerated as a missionary who was the first bishop of Toulouse, and Fortunatus tells us that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. He is supposed to have preached on both sides of the Pyrenees. The author of his passio, who wrote before the seventh century, relates that he assembled his flock in a small church in Toulouse, and that the chief temple in the city stood between that church and the saint’s house. In this temple oracles were given, but they had been long silent, which was attributed to the presence of the Christian bishop. Accordingly the priests seized him one day going by and dragged him into the temple, declaring that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them or propitiate them with his blood. Saturninus replied, “I worship one only God and to Him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are evil and are more pleased with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian? “The infidels, enraged at this reply, tied his feet to a bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed, and the beast was goaded to run violently down the hill, so that the martyr’s skull was broken and his brains dashed out. The bull continued to drag the body until, the cord breaking, what remained of it was left outside the gates of the city till it was taken up by two women and hidden in a ditch. Later the relics were enshrined in what is now the great church of St Sernin, A church built at the place where the bull stopped is still called the Taur.
(Butler’s Lives of the Saints)
A MOTHER’S LETTERS
A Book for Young Women
FATHER ALEXANDER , O.F.M.
COMING INTO THE WORLD
I AM glad to know you attended the lecture on Nursing and Hygiene. Some of the big words puzzled you! No wonder! “Gestation” simply means the act or condition of carrying young in the womb, from conception to delivery. Conception, as you may know, is the beginning of the life of an embryo—i.e., of a child in the earlier stages of its development. In the later stages it is called a foetus.
You have outlived the period in which you took on trust the statement that you were brought home in a basket, or carried there by an angelic visitor, yet you must not think you were deceived, for, underlying the fairy-tale, there is a grain of truth which saves it from falsity. The womb is a basket or vessel, and the baby, seeing that it is the creation of God and is endowed with an immortal soul, does come as a gift from Heaven. So the old-fashioned way of explaining the new arrival (to very little children) has no reason to be ashamed of itself. The modern method of beginning with flower-study, as a means of enlightenment, conveys much less to the juvenile mind than the seemingly absurd method adopted by our grandmothers. One thing is certain. Those old-fashioned folks made it clear to the child-mind that the baby came as a gift from God, whereas the new method of imparting knowledge suggests that the child begins and develops merely like any other organic creature. This renders its high origin obscure. The parents, it is true, give of their substance for the formation of the child, but the infusion of the immortal soul is the direct work of God.
We mothers who have had so much to do in the matter—and yet so little—must perforce join with the Mother of the Maccabees in saying: “I know not how you were formed in my womb; for I neither gave you breath, nor soul, nor life, neither did I frame the limbs of one of you. But the Creator of the world, that formed the nativity of man, and that found out the origin of all, He will restore to you again, in His mercy, both breath and life, as now you despise yourselves for the sake of His laws” (2 Macc. vii. 22-33).
From the time that one’s girlhood merges into womanhood until late into middle life, woman’s nature supplies her share of the material created by God for the formation of the child. The father also supplies his share, but the wonderful result is due to the bounty of God, who gives or refuses fertility according to His good will and pleasure. In this respect there is an analogy between the sowing of seed in ground that may be fertile or barren, and the processes affecting fertility or barrenness in the womb. Yet fertility of the earth merely suggests a plant spirit which will end with the corruption of the plant, whereas fertility of the womb suggests the infusion of a spirit which will never die.
Woman’s contribution is remotely prepared for by the change which overtakes her as a girl, when she becomes conscious of the monthly “flow.” This should cause neither alarm nor shamefacedness, but should rather be accepted with composure and gratitude, inasmuch as she who was until then “only a girl” has now entered the sacred and honourable precincts of womanhood. Her predominant feeling should be that of responsibility: regarding—far more seriously than hitherto—her moral and bodily welfare. Her outlook on life should be more thoughtful, and the care of her health should be more painstaking and practical, especially on the approach of and during the continuance of the flow (or menses). If, during this important period, she finds herself prone to irritability or melancholy, she must guard against depression, for God, the Author of her womanly nature, will not allow her to suffer more than she can bear. Would that mothers and teachers were more indulgent towards and gentle with young women in this monthly crisis. They should remember that the patient is not always fully responsible, just then, for what they choose to call her “tantrums.”
The Creator enables women to contribute most intimately to the building up of the child in the womb by supplying them with ovaries—two organs situated to right and to left above the region of the womb, and connected with the latter by the Fallopian tubes (so called because of their discovery, in 1561, by Gabriel Fallopio, an Italian anatomist).
Married or unmarried, every woman—short of some abnormality in her structure—is thus equipped by nature, and it would be a great gain not only to herself but to the world at large if she were told, in plain terms, the important part played by them. Ignorance on this point and also with regard to the monthly flow is largely responsible for many of the mental and physical ailments that afflict womankind.
The function of the ovaries is to export a ripened egg (ovum) on its voyage to the womb, through one of the Fallopian tubes. This happens during or just after the time of the flow, and the passage of an ovum from the ovary to the womb may take as long as ten days. Medical men cannot say that the flow depends on the descent of the ovum, because the mucous membrane of the uterus (womb) has been preparing itself for the event all during the inter-menses period (i.e., the interval between one flow and another)—just as the ovum has been gradually enlarging and getting nearer the surface of the ovary during the same time. The whole activity of the organs is probably controlled and regulated by the nervous centres. That there is an interdependence between the menses and the ovaries is manifest, because if the ovaries are removed the menses immediately and permanently cease—again, probably controlled through the nervous system.
If a celibate (unmarried) life is led, the ova (eggs) which are of microscopic size—pass through the womb and are evacuated by the vagina, a canal about six inches long in the virginal state (which is situated below the urethra, or urinary passage), and has its own separate external orifice.
If one does not lead a celibate life, intercourse with the male sex may arrest the progress of an egg through the womb, and, instead of being evacuated, it will remain therein and become one of the factors in the formation of the embryo.
This brings us to the consideration of conception, and if you recall to mind what I said in a previous letter you will have no difficulty in thinking out the matter with a very pure and elevated mind. It is here we have to do with the contribution of the male, as the other factor in building up the child. From his body comes the semen (seed), which, injected into the vagina, is sucked up into the womb by lips with which the womb is provided (at the upper end of the vagina), and once there, a very wonderful thing may be effected—a thing that merits your most reverent attention, and which should lead you to praise God for the sublime ingenuity of His designs.
I have said above that an egg may be arrested on its onward way through the womb. This happens if it is fertilized by an active element in the seed of the male called the spermatozoon (pl. spermatozoa).Some years ago a learned Jesuit afforded me one of the most enjoyable half-hours of my life, in permitting me to see the wonders revealed by a very powerful microscope. After he had placed a few drops of the stagnant water on a piece of glass, I saw a great number of infusoria disporting themselves, as freely as whales in the mighty ocean. Thus it is with the spermatozoa in the fluid (semen) supplied by the male, and injected into the womb through the vagina. The spermatozoa are living organisms, shaped like a tadpole, which swim freely in the semen, and if one of them pierces an egg (ovum) and fertilizes it, the result is that the downward progress of that egg is arrested. Conception has taken place. Pregnancy has set in, and the new formation clings to the interior of the womb. The life of the embryo has begun. In one and the same moment in which male and female have contributed their part to the building up of a new being, God has done His by infusing an immortal soul into this new creation. This is the moment referred to in the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception when God, by a special privilege and through the foreseen merits of Christ, preserved our Blessed Lady (in the womb of her mother, St. Anne) from the stain of Original Sin. We, on our part, contracted that debt in the self-same moment of our existence.
This question will doubtless present itself to your mind: “What of twins or triplets?” and the evident answer is that in those cases more than one ovum is fertilized.
In cases where fertilization does not occur, the semen is exuded with the other matter that flows from the womb. And now you are better able to understand the dictionary description of that organ: “The hollow dilated musculo-membraneous part of the female passages, between the vagina and the Fallopian tubes, in which the ovum is received, detained, and nourished during gestation, or the period intervening between fecundation (conception) and parturition (birth).” The natural duration of that period is nine months. If the foetus is accidentally discharged from the womb before that time—and there is always danger about the third and fifth month of pregnancy—the mother is said to have had a “miscarriage.” A child may be born alive after seven months’ pregnancy, but its existence is more precarious than that of a “full-time” child. These facts point to the necessity of a mother avoiding unusual strain, whether of mind or body, during those fateful months.
This, dearest, must suffice for to-day, but I should like, before closing, to draw your attention to some facts worthy of your closest attention.
Once the monthly period sets in, a young woman cannot be too careful about personal cleanliness, nor can she be too particular in her choice of games. The neglect of the former may lead to endless fears, for she may attribute to the devil, or to some innate proneness to evil, sensations that are often the result of personal neglect. As a means to an end, cleanliness is one of the most efficient aids to mental as well as bodily comfort, and an all-important help to chastity. At the above periods a woman must be prepared—as a rule—for some extra battling with doubts and fears, because of the congestion which naturally oppresses her system, but if she calmly remembers that she is a child of God and that she comes from His hands, with the sex-limitations that He has wisely laid down, she will know how to discriminate between troubles that are merely incidental to her nature and those that would be inordinate.
It is regrettable that while all girlish games should naturally lead to the strengthening of the abdominal region, some of them are much too violent and, therefore, liable to lead to the displacement of the womb, on which so much depends. Regular, moderate exercise, and even hard work, are all to the good, but strain of any kind should be sedulously avoided.
Father Krier will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 1 and 14.
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