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“For God’s sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of ecclesiastical dignity with such fiery ambition?” St. Peter Damian
Vol 9 Issue 8 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
February 27, 2016 ~ Lenten Feria
1. Baptism: Means of Salvation (57)
2. Third Sunday in Lent
3. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
4. Christ in the Home (32)
5. Articles and notices
The feast of St. Peter Damian was celebrated this past week on February 23. This saint who lived in the eleventh century was made a Cardinal by Pope Clement II because he was insistent that clergy and religious live their vows, that they stop the incontinent lives they were living through sodomy and marital intercourse that was bringing so much disdain upon the Church as well as their simony. He wrote a letter to St. Leo IX on the harm done by such acts, especially sodomy, that it was distributed under the name, Sodom and Gomorra. The Popes at that time were trying to eradicate the evilness of this sin and found St. Peter Damian qualified to preach against it. In 1826, Pope Leo XII made St. Peter Damian a Doctor of the Church, ratifying the teaching this Saint propagated as accepted by the Church as her own teaching, especially at a time when Leo XII and his predecessors and Successors were fighting against the evils of the Masonic sects which were introducing into society the perversity of morals. The following is a quote from the letter of Peter Damian to Leo IX, more of which can be found in Vol. 4, Issue 24, of this Newsletter:
Unquestionably, this vice, since it surpasses the enormity of all others, is impossible to compare with any other vice. Without fail it brings death to the body and destruction to the soul. It pollutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the mind, expels the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart, and gives entrance to the devil, the stimulator of lust. It leads to error, totally removes truth from the deluded mind, prepares a trap for the traveler and secures the pit and makes it impossible for the victim to escape. It opens up hell and closes the gates of paradise, changes citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem into an heir of infernal Babylon, and turns a heavenly star into chaff for eternal fire; it cuts off a member of the Church and hurls him into the depths of the devouring flames of hell. This vice attempts to destroy the walls of our heavenly fatherland and tries to rebuild the defenses of Sodom that were razed by fire. It is this vice that violates temperance, slays modesty, strangles chastity, and slaughters virginity with a knife dipped in the filthiest poison. It defiles all things, sullies all things, pollutes all things; and as for itself, it allows nothing to be pure, nothing to be spotless, nothing to be clean. “To the pure,” as the Apostle says, “all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure.” [Titus 1:15] –Letter 31, 41
Faithful Catholics know that the Catholic Church has, is and must continue to oppose the enemies of the Church, be it Sodomy, Divorce and Adultery, Mohammedanism, Masonry or Jewry—even though seemingly a person claims to be head of the Church but in reality has joined and now supports these enemies of the Church! Rather, Catholics must resist this Judas betrayal and let those who ask know that this person is not speaking for the Church but following his own deceits inspired by anti-Christs.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
Means of Salvation
Sacrament of Baptism
Saint Thomas Aquinas
What are the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism? Saint Thomas starts with the remission of sin. All sin is taken away by baptism, both Original Sin and actual sin. In general, all sin is taken away; but, as said above in discussing Thomas’ Questions 66 and 68 (pars III), those who have obtained the age of reason would have to have at least interior sorrow expressed by the renunciation of sin (baptismal promises) to have their actual sins forgiven. Saint Thomas begins quoting Ezekiel (36:25): I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness. He then continues:
As the Apostle says (Romans 6:3), “all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in His death.” And further on he concludes (Romans 6:11): “So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Hence it is clear that by Baptism man dies unto the oldness of sin, and begins to live unto the newness of grace. But every sin belongs to the primitive oldness. Consequently every sin is taken away by Baptism.
[T] the Apostle says (Romans 5:15-16), the sin of Adam was not so far-reaching as the gift of Christ, which is bestowed in Baptism: “for judgment was by one unto condemnation; but grace is of many offenses, unto justification.” Wherefore Augustine says in his book on Infant Baptism (De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. i), that “in carnal generation, original sin alone is contracted; but when we are born again of the Spirit, not only original sin but also wilful sin is forgiven.”
No sin can be forgiven save by the power of Christ’s Passion: hence the Apostle says (Hebrews 9:22) that “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Consequently no movement of the human will suffices for the remission of sin, unless there be faith in Christ’s Passion, and the purpose of participating in it, either by receiving Baptism, or by submitting to the keys of the Church. Therefore when an adult approaches Baptism, he does indeed receive the forgiveness of all his sins through his purpose of being baptized, but more perfectly through the actual reception of Baptism. (S. Th. Q. 69, a. 1)
There is attached to sin, through the justice of God, a debt of punishment that must be paid. When one is baptized, is that debt paid? And by whom? Thomas takes up this question in the next question, whether man is freed by Baptism from all debt of punishment due to sin? Saint Thomas replies once more with the words of Saint Ambrose on the passage from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 11:29, The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance, in which Ambrose continues: The grace of God in Baptism remits all, gratis. (Op. cit.) He goes on to instruct his readers:
[Through] Baptism a man is incorporated in the Passion and death of Christ, according to Romans 6:8: “If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ.” Hence it is clear that the Passion of Christ is communicated to every baptized person, so that he is healed just as if he himself had suffered and died. Now Christ’s Passion, as stated above (S. th. III, q. 68, 5), is a sufficient satisfaction for all the sins of all men. Consequently he who is baptized, is freed from the debt of all punishment due to him for his sins, just as if he himself had offered sufficient satisfaction for all his sins. (Art. 2.)
Since Christ satisfied for sin before Baptism, one may ask why one should be punished by civil law committed before baptism and why should one (as proposed by the Protestants) do penance after baptism. The first Thomas gives this proper answer:
In punishments inflicted by a human tribunal, we have to consider not only what punishment a man deserves in respect of God, but also to what extent he is indebted to men who are hurt and scandalized by another’s sin. Consequently, although a murderer is freed by Baptism from his debt of punishment in respect of God, he remains, nevertheless, in debt to men; and it is right that they should be edified at his punishment, since they were scandalized at his sin. But the sovereign may remit the penalty to such like out of kindness. (Ibid.)
To the second answer, because the baptized crucify Christ anew not through ignorance, but deliberately, as the Roman Catechism (I, 4.) teaches:
In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ our Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly, those who wallow in sin and iniquity, as far as depends on them, “crucify to themselves again the Son of God, and make a mockery of him.” [Heb. 6:6.] This our guilt takes a deeper die of enormity when contrasted with that of the Jews: according to the testimony of the apostle, “if they had known it, they never would have crucified the Lord of glory:” [1 Cor. 2:8] whilst we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem, in some sort, to lay violent hands on him. [cf. Tit. i. 16.]
Returning to Chapter 6 of Saint Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he has written:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have both tasted the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit, who have moreover tasted the good word of God and have the powers of the world to come, and then have fallen away, to be renewed again to repentance; since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and make Him a mockery. For the earth that drinks in the rain that often falls upon it, and produces vegetation that is of use to those by whom it is tilled, receives a blessing from God; but that which brings forth thorns and thistles is worthless, and is nigh unto a curse, and its end is to be burnt. (Verses 4-8.)
Therefore, the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, chap. 8) teaches:
Indeed the nature of divine justice seems to demand that those who have sinned through ignorance before baptism may be received into grace in one manner, and in another those who at one time freed from the servitude of sin and the devil, and on receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, did not fear to “violate the temple of God knowingly” [1 Cor. 3:17], “and to grieve the Holy Spirit” [ Eph. 4:30]. And it befits divine clemency that sins be not thus pardoned us without any satisfaction, lest, seizing the occasion [ Rom. 7:8], and considering sins trivial, we, offering injury and “affront to the Holy Spirit” [Heb. 10:29], fall into graver ones, “treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath” [ Rom. 2:5; Jas. 5:3]. For, without doubt, these satisfactions greatly restrain from sin, and as by a kind of rein act as a check, and make penitents more cautious and vigilant in the future; they also remove the remnants of sin, and destroy vicious habits acquired by living evilly through acts contrary to virtue. Neither was there ever in the Church of God any way considered more secure for warding off impending punishment by the Lord than that men perform these works of penance [ Matt. 3:28; 4:17; 11:21 etc.] with true sorrow of soul. Add to this that, while we suffer by making satisfaction for our sins, we are made conformable to Christ Jesus, “who made satisfaction for our sins” [Rom. 5:10; 1 John 2:1 f.], from whom is all our sufficiency [ 2 Cor. 3:5], having also a most certain pledge from Him that “if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified” [cf. Rom. 8:17]. Neither is this satisfaction which we discharge for our sins so much our own as it is through Jesus Christ; for we who can do nothing of ourselves, as if of ourselves, with the cooperation “of Him who” comforts us, “we can do all things.” Thus man has not wherein to glory; but all “our glorying” [cf.1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14] is in Christ, “in whom we live, in whom we move” [cf. Acts 17:28], in whom we make satisfaction, “bringing forth fruits worthy of penance” [ Luke 3:8] which have their efficacy from Him, by Him are offered to the Father, and through Him are accepted by the Father [can. 13 f.]. (Cf. D 904)
It seems that it is necessary also in the imitation of Christ who says, he who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27); and as St. Paul writes to the Colossians (1:24) of his own works: Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church. The understanding of the Church is that penance of itself is not sufficient, but joined to Christ who insists that one does penance: Unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner (Luke 13:7).
Four reasons, therefore, are deduced: a) to impress the enormity of sin; b) to oppose inclination to sin; c) to purify one’s love for God; d) and, to unite with the sufferings of Christ, being a member of Christ’s body the Church.
It is difficult for human nature to accept suffering (and why it is punishment for sin, or penance) and it seeks to escape from suffering. If the supernatural nature of man is restored through baptism, would one might not hope that the natural nature of man would be restored? Thomas has this in mind when he askswhether Baptism should take away the penalties of sin that belong to this life? Saint Thomas distinguishes between “can” and “must”, for he understands that God could have also taken away the concupiscence of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16) and mortality, but God willed otherwise. Thomas provides three reasons based on Scripture:
. . . First, because, by Baptism, man is incorporated in Christ, and is made His member, as stated above (3; 68, 5). Consequently it is fitting that what takes place in the Head should take place also in the member incorporated. Now, from the very beginning of His conception Christ was “full of grace and truth,” yet He had a passible body, which through His Passion and death was raised up to a life of glory. Wherefore a Christian receives grace in Baptism, as to his soul; but he retains a passible body, so that he may suffer for Christ therein: yet at length he will be raised up to a life of impassibility. Hence the Apostle says (Romans 8:11): “He that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also our mortal bodies, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in us”: and further on in the same chapter (Romans 8:17): “Heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.”
Secondly, this is suitable for our spiritual training: namely, in order that, by fighting against concupiscence and other defects to which he is subject, man may receive the crown of victory. Wherefore on Romans 6:6, “that the body of sin may be destroyed,” a gloss says: “If a man after Baptism live in the flesh, he has concupiscence to fight against, and to conquer by God’s help.” In sign of which it is written (Judges 3:1-2): “These are the nations which the Lord left, that by them He might instruct Israel . . . that afterwards their children might learn to fight with their enemies, and to be trained up to war.”
Thirdly, this was suitable, lest men might seek to be baptized for the sake of impassibility in the present life, and not for the sake of the glory of life eternal. Wherefore the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 15:19): “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (Art. 3)
The Protestant concept that penance takes away from the Atonement of Christ denies the union of Christians with Christ (I am the vine, you the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit, John 15:5.); that Scripture demands penance of those who are followers of Christ (Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he [the Father] will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit, John 15:2); further, without penance, one is denying the obligation of justice (Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing Matt. 5:26); and is belittling the infinite offense against God that sin is towards Him; for if there is no consequence of sin, what would cause one to convert from sin? (Sin understood as intentionally offending God.) Such a thought would seem unacceptable to anyone who has Charity. Making-up, i.e., penance, is natural to human nature (Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise Gen. 3:8)
(To be continued)
Week of Third Sunday in Lent
Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
The rock in the desert
- We assemble again today in the sanctuary of St. Lawrence, the patron and model of catechumens. Near the church there stood, in ancient times, an open fountain. Today’s liturgy refers to the waters of baptism, “springing up into life everlasting” (Gospel). Today we join the newly baptized Christians and stir up the grace of baptism within ourselves.
- Moses struck the rock in the desert, and water flowed forth to relieve the thirst of the people of Israel and to save them from death in the desert (Epistle). The rock is an image of Christ (I Cor. 10:4). The rod which Moses used to strike the rock is a figure of the cross upon which Christ died. The water which flowed from the rock, foreshadowed the grace which flows from the sacraments. We receive first the graces of the sacrament of baptism, which the neophytes now await with great longing.
Just as the water from the rock refreshed the Israelites in the desert and saved them from a terrible death from thirst and gave them the strength to continue and finish their perilous journey to the land of promise, so the waters of baptism strengthen and refresh us, the new Israel, that we may continue our journey through the wilderness of our earthly life to the promised land of heaven, guided and protected by the pillar and the cloud of God’s providence. Christ the rock accompanies us. Day by day we may refresh ourselves at the life-giving waters which Christ earned for us by His life and death. This life-giving water comes to us through the Mass and the sacraments. From the precious wounds opened in His sacred body by the scourge, by the nails of the crucifixion, and by the lance of the centurion, this life-giving water flows down upon us in a continuous stream. Deprived of this water from the Rock (Christ), men would languish and die in the wilderness, “He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever” (Gospel). What a wonderful promise! We discover the Rock which gives this precious water when we are baptized. It is the water of salvation. The devout Christian believes and is grateful. Let us engrave the image of this Rock in our hearts.
Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman the mystery of the water that gives eternal life (Gospel). Fired by a zeal for the salvation of souls, He seats himself by Jacob’s well and awaits the approach of the Samaritan, the sinner. He offers her the water which He alone can give. He assures her that he who drinks of this water will not thirst again. It is the water of eternal life, which He gives to the soul of the Samaritan woman, changing her from a sinner into a disciple. The woman leaves her water pot standing by the well; she no longer has any thought of the natural water she came to draw. After she has tasted the living water which Christ gives her, the natural water no longer has any attraction for her. A new world has been opened before her eyes. She breaks with sin and becomes a new creature, nourished by the spirit of Christ. This Samaritan woman is an image of the catechumens and of us who have been baptized.
At Jacob’s well, which for us is the sacraments and the tabernacle, Christ waits for us, who are unworthy sinners. He wishes to save us by means of the living water which He will give us. Having been allowed to drink from this water, we leave our pot standing at the well, as did the Samaritan woman. We leave behind us the old man with his outlook on life, his ambitions, and his base motives. Only one thing now has any value in our eyes: the life of grace as children of God, a life filled with love for God and for souls. We wish to become disciples of Christ and apostles of His grace and His doctrine. We indeed are like the Samaritan woman, who found Christ at the well of Jacob; henceforth we shall live by His grace and His spirit.
- Now during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus stands at the well of Jacob, the fountain of grace. There He waits for me, the Samaritan, that He may teach me by means of the Epistle and Gospel He has been waiting for me at the well of Jacob that He might lead me to the Father through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that He might apply to my soul through this means the graces that He has merited for me, and that He may even give Himself to me in Holy Communion. In the Communion we sing: “He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, saith the Lord, it shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting.” He gives us this water to drink in Holy Communion. Thus we have within ourselves the fountain which springs up into life everlasting.
“Show me, O Lord, a token for good; that they who hate me may see and be confounded, because Thou, O Lord, hast helped me and has comforted me. Incline Thy ear, O Lord, and hear me, for I am needy and poor” (Introit). The Church wends her way over the long desert road of her earthly pilgrimage, poor and helpless, deprived of all human support, persecuted, and hated by the devil, the prince of this world, and by all his minions. She has only one support: the rock that she finds in the desert, the life-giving rock, Christ in the Holy Eucharist. God entrusted to her the Holy Eucharist as a sign of His goodness. She will not fail, but she will live, pursuing her way confidently to eternal life, serene in the possession of Christ in the Eucharist. “In God hath my heart confided, and I have been helped; and my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to Him” (Gradual).
Look down with merciful approval on our fasts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as we abstain from food with our body, so too may we refrain from sin in our minds.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who trust in Thy protection, may by Thy help overcome all things standing in our way. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SATURDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK OF LENT
- Today we devote ourselves entirely to penance. We acknowledge the sins by which we have proved ourselves unfaithful to God, and we pray to the Lord in the Introit of the Mass: “Give ear, O Lord, to my words; understand my cry; harken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God.”
- During the days of the Feast of Tabernacles, an adulterous woman was brought before our Lord, who had come to the Temple early in the morning and was preaching to the people, who flocked to hear Him. The scribes cast before Him a poor woman they had just taken in adultery, and said: “Master, this woman was even now taken in adultery. Now Moses in the law commanded us to stone such a one. But what sayest Thou?” (Gospel.) For the Jews adultery was one of the basest of sins, and in the Old Testament it was punishable by death.
In the liturgy the adulterous woman is a figure of the sinful Christian soul. By our sins we, too, have been unfaithful to God, to our Savior, and to the Church. We have turned our back on Him who from the moment of our baptism has not ceased to shower us with love and grace. We have withdrawn our heart and our love from God, its true spouse, and have given it to another. We have pandered our love to a base desire, to an empty pleasure, to the prince of this world, who seeks only our destruction. This is indeed spiritual adultery. The adulterous woman was cast before Jesus, and He received her kindly. What will He say to those who have accused her? They have quoted Moses. Will He uphold them? Jesus says not a word, but bows down and silently writes with His finger in the sand, as if to indicate that He wishes to have nothing to do with the persecution of this poor woman. The scribes insist on an answer to their question. Jesus rises and gives them an answer they were not expecting: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Are they without sin who wish now to stone her? One after another they slip away to hide their shame. The sinful woman is left alone with Jesus. “Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee?” “No man, Lord.” “Neither will I condemn thee” (Gospel).
Jesus forgives this shameful sin, but not without the admonition, “Sin no more.” This is a consoling thought for us. We, too, have been guilty of many sins, but we are not lost if only we come to Jesus with sorrow and contrition, confess our guilt to the representative of Christ, and resolve to give up our sins in the future. Christ is always ready to receive the penitent sinner. “For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death [as did the adulterous woman], I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me, O Lord” (Gradual). Thou dost not will the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live (cf. Ezech. 18:23; 33:11).
- The Pharisees, zealous for the law, consider how they may hand the adulterous woman over to death. They are without feeling and without mercy. But Jesus is of a different disposition. He will not destroy, but save. He receives the sinner back again. He reveals in His passion and death how vigorously He condemns and rejects sin; but the sinner He will save. We must acknowledge our sins, do penance for them, and avoid them in the future. “Direct my steps, . . . and let no iniquity have dominion over me, O Lord” (Offertory).
The Epistle of this Mass is the complement of the Gospel. Susanna, the wife of Joakim, is falsely accused of adultery by the two wicked elders. She is being led out to death when Daniel, enlightened by the Spirit of God, brings the truth to light. Through the wisdom of Daniel, the innocence of the chaste Susanna is proved, and she is saved from death. The Old Testament is the testament of justice, in which sin is punishable by death; the New Testament is the testament of mercy, in which the sinner may find forgiveness through penance. The New Testament gives the sinner strength to overcome passion and sin, and to raise himself to a life of virtue and holiness. How grateful we should be for having learned to know Christ, and for the opportunity of coming to Him through penance! We should be grateful, too, for the Eucharist. In virtue of this sacrament we may unite ourselves to Him ever more intimately, and partake of His life and His strength.
“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” How shall we fare in the final judgment if He applies to us the code that we use in the judgment of our neighbor? We frequently and unjustly condemn the faults of our neighbor, and cast stones at him for his least faults. Are we acting within our rights? We must change our attitude if we hope to find mercy. We are too much like the two elders who accused Susanna, and like the scribes who accused the woman of the Gospel. We should be more like Christ, who forgave the adulterous woman and all sinners who came to Him.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that they who mortify the flesh by abstaining from food, may observe justice by refraining from sin.
Stretch forth to Thy faithful, O Lord, the right hand of Thy heavenly aid, that they may seek Thee with all their hearts and may be worthy to obtain what they ask. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FEBRUARY 27 (28 in Leap Year)
St. Gabriel of the Sorrowing Virgin, Confessor
- St. Gabriel is a saint of our own century. By taking seriously his Christian and religious vocation, he attained to the heights of sanctity in six years. Just forty-six years after his death (1908), Pope St. Pius X declared him blessed, and only twelve years later, Pope Benedict XV canonized mm. Francis Possenti was born at Assisi, the eleventh of thirteen children, His father was a religious man, who held various high offices at Assisi and Spoleto, under Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX.
As a young man, Francis delighted in lively parties and all kinds of worldly amusements, in fact, his fellow students dubbed him the “Ballet Dancer.” Twice sickness brought him to the brink of the grave, and both times he promised to break with the world but failed to do so. It was the eyes of a Madonna in Spoleto that finally converted him. He then went to the Passionist monastery of Morrovale and was given the habit and the name Gabriel of the Sorrowing Virgin, on September 21, 1856. Not yet a priest, he died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862. He was only twenty-four, and had been a Passionist only six years.
- “God looked upon him with an eye of favor, lifted him up from his low estate and raised his head high” (Introit). Possenti was so passionately attached to vain honors and pleasures that God had to grant a powerful impulse of grace to bring him to his senses. Grace had beckoned twice before, and he had already been accepted by the Jesuits; but he could not bring himself to enter the Society. Finally, during a procession in Spoleto, he found, in the picture of the Madonna that was being carried, the grace he needed. Mary spoke to his heart: “Francis, why do you hesitate? Arise and go at once to become a religious.” Suddenly, the frivolous student underwent a radical change. The King had called three times, but this time through Mary. Francis was ready: grace had conquered
“God . . . lifted him up and raised his head high.” from his first day in the cloister Gabriel based his life on the fundamental doctrine enunciated by St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists, in these words: “It takes only a grain of pride to overturn a whole mountain of holiness. God reveals His sublime mysteries only to those who are humble of heart.” Gabriel adopted this thought as his rule of conduct. ZealousIy he strove to form both his interior and exterior life in accordance with this principle, for he was well aware both of his talents and of his perverse inclinations. Very soon he came to understand the words of his holy founder: “Grace produces its precious fruits only in those who are firmly convinced of their own weakness, and who are equally aware of the divine power that finds its glory in the conviction that we are nothing but dust and that God alone can lift us out of the dust and make us strong.”
Before long Gabriel had entirely overcome his inclination to pride, vanity, and anger, as well as his instability of character and his love of pleasure. In the school of humility and self-denial he reformed his conduct so thoroughly that his former friends did not recognize him. “What a pleasure to serve God,” he wrote. The most striking feature of his spirituality was his childlike, tender love of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, but his love of the Eucharistic and the Crucified Savior, also, was very ardent. Since he always maintained the most intimate union
with God, his life was a continuous prayer. Sometimes the devil attacked him so violently that he suffered a veritable death agony; but always, with God’s grace, he vanquished the enemy.
Gabriel formulated his favorite rule of conduct in these words: “Perfection does not consist in doing great things, but rather, in obeying even the smallest points of the rule and in fulfilling one’s duties well.” Herein lies the secret of St. Gabriel: his whole being was dedicated to the conscientious, faithful, consistent observance of the rule—both the letter and the spirit of it. He said: “I want to keep my rules, even the least important. Fidelity in little things must be the basic rule in my striving for holiness.” Yes, he sincerely strove to become perfect, and by the time he had been in the monastery six years, he had, humanly speaking, reached his goal. Today the Church, both in heaven and on earth, honors him as a saint. “God . . . raised his head high; a sight that set many . . . giving praise to God” (Introit).
- Gabriel is a saint for youth. The Church, therefore, says in the Epistle: “I am writing to you young men . . . Do not bestow your love on the world . . . the lover of this world has no love of the Father in him . . . . The man who does God’s will outlives them, forever.” The Gospel applies to young Gabriel the words that our Lord addressed to the rich youth: “Go home and sell all that belongs to thee; give it to the poor, and so the treasure thou hast shall be in heaven; then come back and follow me.”
In the monastery Gabriel lived a hidden, uneventful Life, but these words are still true: More wonders are wrought by prayer than the world is even able to suspect. Especially, may that be understood to refer to the prayers and the life of holy, contemplative men and women; the action of grace and of supernatural powers accomplishes wonders. St. Gabriel’s life stands as proof of this. “What bounty God shews to Israel, to all upright hearts!” (Ps. 92:2).
“Perfection does not consist in doing great things, but rather, in obeying even the smallest points of the rule, and in fulfilling one’s duties well,”
Collect: God, who didst teach the blessed Gabriel to dwell continually upon Thy sweet Mother’s sorrows, and through her didst exalt and glorify him by his miracles and holy life, grant us, by his intercession and example, to share her mourning and thereby to earn the safeguard of her motherly protection. Amen.
CHRIST IN THE HOME
BY RAOUL PLUS, S.J. (1951)
FROM THREE TO FIVE
AT THIS period of their life, children have not in general arrived at an awakening, at least not a complete awakening, of their moral sense. They are midway between the unawareness of their first years and a completely rational contact with life; their principal occupation is play—the little boy will be busy building and tearing down; the little girl will be busy scribbling away at indefinite designs or dressing and undressing her sawdust doll, the first in a series of many dolls.
They will have just the beginning of a contact—depending upon their family, their mother particularly—with the invisible world. They will learn their prayers, know that there is a God who is good and they will hear about little Jesus. They will also know that there are things that are forbidden, but they will not as yet see the wickedness of sin; they take what belongs to mamma without knowing that they are stealing; they do not always tell the truth without knowing really that it is an evil thing to lie and when they do speak untruly it is much more through an instinct of self-defense than through innate perversion. They would go to the end of the world for a kiss and much further still for a piece of candy. But if they must give up the piece of candy to a little brother or sister, they will do it with not too bad a grace but they will see to it that they get a lick of it themselves before parting with it; after all, aren’t they being quite generous already? And if for Christmas mother has suggested that they sacrifice some of their sweets to little Jesus, they do it eagerly but see nothing wrong with coming back quietly later to eat up their sacrifices.
It is important to capitalize on this marvelous period of the child’s life.
Since the child loves to imagine, it is necessary to suggest images to its mind and since the child needs to be educated, these images should be elevating. That can be done very early by using the lives of the saints, the life of Mary and of Jesus. Why not? How many details of Scripture are most picturesque and quite within the grasp of the child’s mind; this is especially true if the Gospel episodes have first come by way of the mother’s heart; she will know how to awaken without straining, instruct without fatiguing, and adapt it all to the mentality of the child.
A prime guiding principle here is Never anything inexact! Children at this age are extremely docile. “Papa said it or Mamma said it,” makes it sacred. Therefore, great attention to the stories they are told, to the allusions made or the conversations held in their presence.
At this age the child is inclined to refer everything to itself, but very likely to be disinterested in goodness. By nature it is selfish; it has a terrific sense of ownership; will share nothing; wants everything. Since it has numerous needs and knows itself to be little, it seeks to surround itself with the greatest possible number of things to its own advantage. But if little by little it is taught to look about to see that there are others less privileged, that to give up things for love of another is something fine, it will be found capable of remarkable generosity.
The child at this age has not since the time of its baptism become incrusted with the shell of negligence and the faults an adult might commit; simplicity is inherent in it; it is pure; it has infused Faith and the Holy Spirit in its soul is at ease.
But it is essential to avoid scandalizing the least of these little ones, giving them the example of evil, of impurity even material impurity, of lying, of anger.
Further, the child is readily distracted, forgetful, has its head in the clouds. You speak to it and it listens or does not listen as fancy strikes; it follows its own thought and interior emotion. Your commands fall on its ears like water on marble. You must catch its attention, reiterate your suggestions or commands without impatience on your part or fatigue for the child.
Constant attention is necessary to train them in manners, in proper sleeping habits, in conduct at table; to check the first symptoms of greediness, laziness, lack of discipline, sensuality. The child is still thoughtless but the educator must not be. Long explanations are not needed; a word, simple look go a long way and speak volumes at times.
Parents should never lose courage even if the results are imperfect. Let them examine their methods and change them if necessary. Let them see in these little ones only Christ—”Whatsoever you do to these, the least of My brethren, you do unto Me.
THE ART OF GIVING CHILDREN FAULTS
THERE are two great means of developing faults in children: First by giving them a bad example; second, by spoiling them.
- Giving them a bad example: All men are imitators; children are more exposed than others to the appeal of imitation; they love to imitate adults, and by preference those within their immediate circle particularly their parents who appear to them as exceptional beings in whom there is nothing reprehensible.
Is the mother vain? The daughter too will be vain; she will speak, act, dress, not for an ideal of beauty in keeping with her condition, her station, but for the favorable opinion of others. She will strive to surpass all her companions, her friends, by the cut of her clothes and the extremes of style; she will attach a considerable, yes even an exaggerated, importance to the tiniest details of her costume; she will suffer a severe attack of jealousy when she believes someone outshines her.
Is the father proud? Does he try to exaggerate his good points and belittle those of others or refuse to recognize them? His son will be a snob, disdainful of others, self-sufficient, pretentious, arrogant, obstinate and will manifest no understanding whatever as far as others are concerned.
Are the parents loquacious? Contentious? Sharp in their speech? Their children will be intemperate in speech, quarrelsome, envious.
Are the parents deceitful? The children are in danger of becoming liars. Are the parents generally indiscreet in conversation, passing judgments thoughtlessly? The children already too much inclined to judge everything from the height of their grandeur will pass snap judgments, unjust and untimely criticisms.
Do the parents manifest their love of ease, of wealth, even a thirst to acquire riches by any means? The children are likely to be selfish, attached to their own comfort, cheaters on occasion.
- Spoiling them: Some parents are too harsh and do not encourage their children at all. Others, by far the greater number, are too indulgent, flatter their children, satisfy all their whims.
Parents who spoil their children do not seek their good, love them for their sakes. No, it is a form of self-love; the parents seek themselves in the child. Such parents cannot put firmness into the education they try to give; they cannot punish when necessary; prevent escapades; secure obedience; they cannot defend themselves against any caprices.
“But if I lack kindness,” you say, “my child will withdraw from me; in difficult times he will avoid speaking to me; I shall not have his confidence. If on the contrary I have multiplied my kindnesses to him, he will remain open, I shall keep a hold on him.”
There is no question here of failing in kindness; it is a question of forbidding oneself any weakness. Far from having to fear the loss of the child’s confidence, if one is judiciously firm, the parents shall win the child’s confidence because they are wisely strong. When the children understand that in the marks of affection their parents bestow on them they are not seeking something personal but only the good of their children, they will be quick to realize that in the severity their parents inflict on them, there is likewise no trace of caprice but only the desire for their good as before.
It is precisely that realization which has educative force—this contact with strong and detached souls.
Father Krier will be in Touzim, Czech Republic, on February 27 and 28. He will be in Los Angeles March 1 and San Diego March 2. Pahrump, NV is scheduled for March 10 and Eureka, NV for March 17.
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