Catholic Tradition News Letter B9: Holy Eucharist, 1st Sunday in Lent, St Felix II

Vol 13 Issue 9 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
February 29, 2020 ~ Saturday after Ash Wednesday

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      First Sunday in Lent
3.      Saint Felix II
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices
Dear Reader:

According to political correctness, Catholics—particular traditional Catholics—are no longer consider true Americans here in the United States. The recent statements by a Democratic contender expresses it:

“These kids [illegal immigrants] have come, they’ve done well, most of these kids — there’s a lot of them . . . they in fact have done very, very well,” Biden said. “In many cases, they’re more American than most Americans are because they have done well in school. They believe the basic principles that we all share. I think they should, in fact, [be] put on a path to citizenship.”

What are those basic principles? Civil Rights! The so-called Rights of Man the Catholic Church, prior to Vatican II, rejected—as do all common-sense people. Why? Because the Rights of Man reject the Creator. This is evident, because so-called Civil Rights, today, demand:

1.      Divorce

2.      Extramarital relationships

3.      Contraception

4.      Abortion

5.      Sodomy

6.      Rejection of parental rights

7.      Rejection of morality

8.      Denial of merit

9.      Euthanasia

All of which oppose Catholic teaching, the Divine Commandments and Natural Law.

According to Political Correctness—the public defender of civil rights—, you are not allowed to oppose any of these so-called rights—and the politically correct police will inform you that those who don’t accept these so-called rights are discriminating, hating un-American bigots—just listen to the politically correct parrots in the media. And your children—if they go to public school—will correct you if you call someone for what they are or inform them they cannot do something because it is immoral, for you children will tell you they have the right to do whatever they want—even be a boy instead of a girl or a girl instead of a boy.  The DACA recipients Biden speaks of are all successful products of Public School indoctrination. And though Biden doesn’t grasp the consequence, this is why an Atheist Communist, calling for a revolution, is the front runner in the presidential race, because Sanders is the only one repeating what these former students learned in public school: They have the right to not only the above, but everything they want as long as it is separated from the Church (e.g., no private school vouchers, no stay-at-home mothers in a nuclear family, no displays of true religion, etc.) Here you may say: Well, Jews, Mohammedans, and Sikhs and other religions are able to display their religious symbols. Yes, not because they are true religious symbols but because they are ethnic symbols separated from true religion. The Prince of this world knows these false religions do not acknowledge the true God, but him. Remember, this was the devastating apostasy of Vatican II: Acknowledging Lucifer deserved the same worship as the Blessed Trinity; and, in so doing, the antichrist removed Christ from the Catholic Altars and placed himself there.

None of these so-called rights can be recognized. There is no room for compromise regarding the above; that is, Catholics must hold that for everyone, without exception:

1.      Marriage is a union between a man and a woman that no man can severe once it is contracted.

2.      Extramarital affairs are absolutely criminal that bring God’s wrath.

3.      Contraception rejects God’s place in marriage—and is murder if it is an abortifacient.

4.      Abortion is absolute murder and child sacrifice.

5.      Sodomy is a perversity inherently evil and that leads to pathological derangement.

6.      Parents take God’s place and rejection of parental authority is a rejection of Divine authority.

7.      Morality is religion and religion is one’s relationship with God. Therefore true morality is true religion and no morality is no religion.

8.      Man has the right to the fruits of his labor, and God, therefore, rewards the good servant and condemns the wicked servant (cf. matt. 25:14ff). To take away is to steal. Marxist Socialism is the state stealing (cf. 2 Kings 12).

9.      Euthanasia is a sign of despair, a rejection of eternal life, or the opportunity to murder one’s parents, one’s spouse, a disabled child or one considered undesirable instead of accepting an opportunity to provide care to one whom one should love or is obliged to care for.

Unfortunately, the tolerance of the intolerable, the acceptance of allowing an unmarried son or daughter to bring into the home their John or mistress has compromised Catholic families—as children consequently never marry as promised but merely scandalize the remaining children into falling into the same misfortune that assures the loss of their salvation. One can only pray for a return toward strict observance of morals that ensures a Catholic home isn’t turned into a brothel. This means that Catholics must begin once again to see themselves as Catholics or recognize they are no different than the liberal so-called Catholics who are bringing an atheistic communist revolution into the United States of America because of their compromise.

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



By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier



Christ Prepares the Apostles for the Sacrament of His Body and Blood

John takes a complete chapter (Chapter 6) to introduce the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The multiplication of the loaves is, as well, recorded by all the Evangelists. The Council of Trent, though, mentions Chapter 6 of John being fulfilled in the institution of the Holy Eucharist:

Our Savior, therefore, when about to depart from this world to the Father, instituted this sacrament in which He poured forth, as it were, the riches of His divine love for men, “making a remembrance of his wonderful works” [Ps. 110:4], and He commanded us in the consuming of it to cherish His “memory” [1 Cor. 11:24], and “to show forth his death until He come” to judge the world [1 Cor. 11:23]. But He wished that this sacrament be received as the spiritual food of souls [Matt. 26:26], by which they may be nourished and strengthened, living by the life of Him who said: “He who eateth me, the same also shall live by me” [John 6:58], and as an antidote, whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sins. He wished, furthermore, that this be a pledge of our future glory and of everlasting happiness, and thus be a symbol of that one “body” of which He Himself is the “head” [1 Cor. 11:23; Eph. 5:23], and to which He wished us to be united, as members, by the closest bond of faith, hope, and charity, that we might “all speak the same thing and there might be no schisms among us” [cf. 1 Cor. 1:10]. (Sess. XIII, Decree on the Most Holy Eucharist, Chapter 2; cf. DB 875)

The Council further uses chapter six of Saint John’s Gospel to defend the reception of Holy Communion under the Species of bread:

930 Thus, the holy Synod itself, instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and piety, [Isa. 11:2]. and following the judgment and custom of the Church itself, declares and teaches that laymen and clerics not officiating are bound by no divine law to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species, and that without injury to the faith there can be no doubt at all that communion under either species suffices for them for salvation. For although Christ the Lord at the Last Supper instituted and delivered to the apostles this venerable sacrament under the species of bread and wine [cf. Matt. 26:26 f.; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23 f.], yet, that institution and tradition do not contend that all the faithful of Christ by an enactment of the Lord are bound [can. 1, 2] to receive under both species [can. 1, 2]. But neither is it rightly inferred from that sixth discourse in John that communion under both forms was commanded by the Lord [can. 3], whatever the understanding may be according to the various interpretations of the holy Fathers and Doctors. For, He who said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you” [ John 6:54], also said: “If anyone eat of this bread, he shall live forever” [ John 6:52]. And He who said: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath life everlasting” [ John 6:55] also said: “The bread, which I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world” [ John 6:52]: and finally, He who said: “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him” [ John 6:57], said nevertheless: “He that eateth this bread, shall live forever” [ John 6:58]. (Sess. XXI, ch. 1; cf. DB 930)

Matthew, in his Gospel account, connects the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to the institution of the Holy Eucharist by providing the blessing ritual in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes:

Matthew 14:15ff (36)

And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying: This is a desert place, and the hour is now past: send away the multitudes, that going into the towns, they may buy themselves victuals.

But Jesus said to them, They have no need to go: give you them to eat. They answered him: We have not here, but five loaves, and two fishes. He said to them: Bring them hither to me. And when he had commanded the multitudes to sit down upon the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up what remained, twelve full baskets of fragments. And the number of them that did eat, was five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:15-21)

In the second part of Matthew’s account there is, like John, the miracle of Jesus walking on the water as a further proof that He is God and that He can and will give the same power to His disciples. Moses parted the sea (Cf. Exod. 14:16ff; as did Josue 3:16ff.) and the people walked through on dry land. Jesus walked upon water and bid Peter to also walk on water:

And forthwith Jesus obliged his disciples to go up into the boat, and to go before him over the water, till he dismissed the people. And having dismissed the multitude, he went into a mountain alone to pray. And when it was evening, he was there alone. But the boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with the waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking upon the sea.

And they seeing him walk upon the sea, were troubled, saying: It is an apparition. And they cried out for fear. And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: Be of good heart: it is I, fear ye not. And Peter making answer, said: Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee upon the waters. And he said: Come. And Peter going down out of the boat, walked upon the water to come to Jesus. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid: and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying: Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretching forth his hand took hold of him, and said to him: O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt? And when they were come up into the boat, the wind ceased. And they that were in the boat came and adored him, saying: Indeed thou art the Son of God. (ibid. Matt. 14:22-33)

The insertion by Matthew that Peter also walked on water (Matt. 14:28ff) references that of Eliseus receiving from Elias, who was to take the place of Elias, his power of miracles, thereby dividing the waters after Elias (cf. 4 Kings 2:9ff). For in Matthew 16:16, Peter will make the confession of faith and be rewarded:

Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matt. 16:18-19)

And finally, there is the confirmation that the crowd followed Him to Genesar because of the miracle:

And having passed the water, they came into the country of Genesar. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent into all that country, and brought to him all that were diseased. And they besought him that they might touch but the hem of his garment. And as many as touched, were made whole. (14:34-36)

Saint Mark, in chapter six of his Gospel, reveals Christ possessing humanity, that he had compassion on them [the people], because they were as sheep not having a shepherd (v. 34) and becomes the Good Shepherd who both tends the sheep and leads them to good pasture: And he commanded them that they should make them all sit down by companies upon the green grass; And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties (vv. 39-40). Thus, showing Christ to be the Messianic King. The Apostles did not expect a miracle but were willing to feed the crowd at Christ’s behest. The revelation that Christ is divine comes in the miracle of the multiplication and, while on the Mount praying,  seeing them labouring in rowing, (for the wind was against them). (v. 48). Again, Christ’s compassion is shown by His coming to them walking upon the sea, (ibid.) . . . And immediately he spoke with them, and said to them: Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not. (v. 49, 50) And, as though pointing to John’s Gospel for a fuller explanation, writes: For they understood not concerning the loaves; for their heart was blinded. (v. 53)

Luke, in chapter 9 of his Gospel summarizes the event found in Matthew and Mark. All four mention the breaking and blessing that is repeated at the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, and all four mention the twelve baskets, which means that each of the twelve Apostles received from the one basket, that is from Christ, enough to feed all and yet have their basket full.

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes was a major testimony to the messianic fulfilment in Christ. In the desert he fed over five thousand men, more miraculously than Moses. Moses announced God would provide food—but it still had to be prepared. Christ provided fresh bread and fish ready to eat.

Exodus 16:11-5: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: I have heard the murmuring of the children of Israel: say to them: In the evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread: and you shall know that I am the Lord your God. So it came to pass in the evening, that quails coming up, covered the camp: and in the morning, a dew lay round about the camp. And when it had covered the face of the earth, it appeared in the wilderness small, and as it were beaten with a pestle, like unto the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: Manhu! which signifieth: What is this! for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them: This is the bread, which the Lord hath given you to eat.

But John takes the multiplication of the loaves and fishes a further step in showing the continued theme that Christ knows even the innermost thoughts of man and anticipates their questions, as also, here, particularly to show that Christ is using the miracle to prove more than just that He is a compassionate God. It is to introduce the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, that is that His members are to be nourished, just like a human body, with His Body and blood—even more—to be physically united with His members in a union that causes the communicant to be incorporated into the body of Christ.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


MATTHEW iv. 1-11

At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone Satan: For it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.


V. 2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards . . .

HILARY in Matt. ii: For He was hungry after forty days; not during the forty days. Accordingly, when the Lord hungered, it was not that the consequences of his abstinence overtook Him, but that He surrendered the Man Christ to the order of His nature. For not by God was the devil to be overcome, but by flesh; which circumstance reveals that, at the completion of the forty days during which He would, following on His Passion, remain in the world, he would again hunger: for the salvation of men; at which time He bore back to the Father the gift He awaited, namely, the humanity He had assumed.

V. 3. And the tempter said to him: If thou be the Son of God . . .

CHRYSOSTOM. ex Op. Imp: For the devil had despaired, seeing Christ fasting for forty days; but perceiving that afterwards He was hungry, he began to hope again; and so there follows: and the tempter coming . . . If therefore you have fasted, and you suffer temptation, do not say to yourself, ‘I have lost the fruit of my fasting.’ For if your fast has not availed that you be not tempted, it will yet avail that you be not overcome in temptation.

GREGORY: But looking at the actual order of the temptation, let us see how wondrously we have been freed from temptation. For the ancient enemy tempted the first man by gluttony, when he persuaded him to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree; by vain glory, when he said, you shall be as Gods (Gen. iii, 5); by avarice, when he said: knowing good and evil. For avarice is not solely the desire of money, but also of pride of place, when dignity is sought without measure. By these means he laid low the first man; by the same means was he defeated by the Second Man. For he tempted through gluttony, when he said: command that these stones be made bread; by vainglory, when he said: If thou be the Son of God; by greed of place, when he showed Him the kingdoms of the world, saying: all these will I give thee.

AMBROSE on Luke, iv. 18: He made a beginning there where he had already overcome, namely, with gluttony; hence he said: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. What is the meaning of such a beginning, unless that he already knew that the Son of God was to come? But that He had come, in the infirmity of a body, he did not suspect. So in one sense his speech is a seeking for information; in another it is the speech of one who tempts. So he here both professes to believe in God, and seeks at the same time to deceive a man.

HILARY: In tempting Him therefore he lays down that condition, as to the thing to be done, whereby he would acknowledge in God the Might of His Power, from the changing of stones into bread; and in man, by offering the delight of bread, would make sport of the prolonged suffering of the man who was hungry. JEROME: But you are held fast by two contrary things, O demon: if it is in His power to make stones into bread, then in vain do you tempt Him Who has such power; if He cannot do this, you seek in vain to know if He be the Son of God.

CHRYSOSTOM, ex Op. Imp: Just as the devil blinds all men, so now he is, invisibly, blinded by Christ. After forty days he sees one Who hungers; and throughout forty days he has not formed an idea of who it is that now hungers. When he inclined to think He is not the Son of God, he did not consider that that Mighty Champion would condescend to the things that are lowly. A weak man cannot rise up to the things of the mighty. More than from this, that for so many days He had not hungered, ought he to have known that He was God, than from this, that after so many days He was hungry, that He was man. He should the more readily have known He was God, because through so many days He had not hungered, than that He was man, because after forty days He was hungry. But you will say: Moses and Elias fasted forty days, and they were men. But they while they fasted and persevered were hungry. He for forty days was not hungry, but only afterwards. Not to eat, and to hunger, is part of human infirmity. Not to hunger, belongs to the divine nature.

V. 4. Who answered and said: It is written . . .

JEROME: It was the purpose of Christ to triumph by means of humility. LEO, Sermon I in Quad.: And so He overcame the enemy by the testimonies of the Law, not by the strength of His Might; and for this end: that He might the more honour man, and punish yet more his enemy since the enemy of the human race would be punished, not as it were by God, but by man. Hence: Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.

GREGORY: So the Lord, when tempted by the devil, made answer in the precepts of the Divine Word. And He that could cast His enemy down to the abyss, showed not His Power, that He might give us an example: so that as often as we suffer from evil men, we may be turned rather towards the words of divine truth than towards vengeance.

CHRYSOSTOM, ex Op. Imp: He did not say: Not in bread alone do I live, lest it appear to be said of Himself; but, not in bread alone doth man live, so that the devil might say: if He is the Son of God, He conceals Himself, so that He reveals not His Power; if He is a man, He acts astutely, so that He reveals not that He cannot do this. RHABANUS MAURUS: He took this testimony from Deuteronomy. If anyone therefore does not eat of the Word of God, the same shall not live; for as the human body cannot live without earthly bread, so the soul cannot live without the Word of God. A word is said to proceed from the mouth of God when He makes His Will known through the Sacred Scripture.

V. 5. Then the devil took him up into the Holy City . . .

CHRYSOSTOM, ex Op. Imp: Since the devil could not, from Christ’s answer, learn with certainty whether Christ was God or man, he drew Him on to another temptation; saying to himself: This man, who is not overcome by hunger, though he is not the Son of God, is yet a holy man. For men who are holy are able to resist hunger. Yet even when they defeat the cravings of the flesh they fall through vain glory. So he began to tempt him through vain glory. Accordingly there follows: The devil took him up . . .

JEROME: This taking up does not result from the weakness of Our Lord, but from the pride of His enemy, who believed that the will of the Saviour was subject to need. RHABANUS: Jerusalem was called the Holy City. The Temple of God was there, and the Holy of Holies, and worship according to the Law of Moses. REMIGIUS: By which it is shown that the devil lies in wait for the faithful even in holy places.

GREGORY: When we read it written down, that God made Man was taken up into the Holy City, men’s ears are grievously shocked. But the devil is the head of all evil men. Why then should we be shocked if He suffers Himself to be led to a high mountain by the devil, Who permitted Himself to be crucified by his followers? GLOSS: The devil ever leads up to high places, through vain glory, that he may then cast us down. So there follows: And set him upon the pinnacle of the temple.

REMIGIUS: The pinnacle was the seat of the Doctors. The temple did not possess a high roof ridge or summit, such as our houses possess, but was flat on top, after the manner of Palestinian houses. And in the temple itself there were three stories. You must know that the pinnacle was placed on the floor, and on each floor there was a pinnacle. Whichever pinnacle therefore he set Him upon, we know that he set Hirn upon one from which he could fall down. GLOSS: Note that all these things took place in a bodily manner. For if we compare the words it will seem very likely that the devil appeared in the form of a man.

CHRYSOSTOM, as above: But you may say: How could he set Him bodily above the temple in the sight of all? But perhaps the devil so took Him up that He might be seen by all, but He, unknown to the devil, so disposed that He was seen by no one. GLOSS: Since he was seeking to deceive Him through vain glory he set Him upon a pinnacle of the temple; for in the seat of the Doctors he had already deceived many by this temptation; and so he thought that This Man, when placed there, might be caught by pride. Accordingly he says:

V. 6. And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down . . .

JEROME: In all the temptations the devil strives to find out if He is the Son of God. But he says, cast thyself down; for the voice of the devil, by which he seeks ever that man shall fall, can persuade men to cast themselves down, but cannot cast them down. CHRYSOSTOM, as above: How could he learn through this suggestion whether Christ was the Son of God or not? For to leap through the air is not a work proper to the Son of God; for it is a useless thing to do. If then anyone should, through being urged in this way, so fly, he would do this only from foolish vanity, and so would belong to the devil rather than to God. If therefore it suffices to a prudent man to be what he is, and if he has no need to appear other than he is, how much more the Son of God, Whom no man may know as He is in Himself?

AMBROSE in Luke IV: But as Satan changes himself into an angel of light, and even from the holy Scriptures prepares snares for Christians, so now he uses the testimonies of Scripture, not to instruct, but to deceive. So there follows: For it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee. JEROME: This we read in the ninetieth psalm; but there the prophecy was not spoken of Christ, but of the just man; so the devil has quoted the Scriptures dishonestly.

CHRYSOSTOM, ex Op. Imp: For indeed the Son of God is not borne up by the hands of angels; rather it is He that sustains the angels; and if He should be borne up by the hands of angels, it is not, as though He were a creature, lest he dash his foot against a stone, but out of reverence; because He is the Lord. O Devil, since you have read that the Son of God is borne up by hands, have you not also read that, he shall walk upon the asp and the basilisk? But he quotes the first passage out of evil pride; he is silent regarding the second because he is cunning.

CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 13 in Matt.: Observe how the Scriptural testimonies are correctly quoted by the Lord, but with evil intent by the devil. For it is not because it was written that, he hath give his angels charge of thee, that any one is thereby counselled to cast himself down, and destroy himself GLOSS: So it must be explained in this way. The Scripture says of any good man that, he has given the angels, that is, the ministry of spirits, charge over him, so that in their hands, that is, by their aid, they shall bear him up, and protect him, for fear he dash his foot, that is, the desires of his soul, against a stone, that is, against the Law, which was inscribed on tables of stone. Or, by a stone is signified every occasion of sin and fall from grace.

RHABANUS: Let us observe that Our Saviour, though He allowed Himself to be set upon a pinnacle of the temple, refused to cast Himself down at his command; giving us an example that whosoever should tell us to go upwards, along the way of truth, we ought to obey. But should anyone wish us to cast ourselves down, from the heights of truth and virtue to the depths of sin and vice, let us not listen to him. JEROME: He breaks the false arrows of the devil, which he drew from the Scriptures, upon the true shield of the Scriptures.


March 1


ACCORDING to the Roman Martyrology this Pope Felix was an ancestor (great-great-grandfather) of Pope St Gregory the Great; it recalls Gregory’s statement that when his aunt, St Tharsilla, lay dying, Felix appeared in vision and summoned her to Heaven. The martyrology calls him Felix III, through the long-standing but erroneous numeration of the antipope Felix as Pope St Felix II (see July 29).

Little certain is known about him personally, but he was a straightforward, courageous Roman of the type of Leo I, and he has his place in general church history in connection with the monophysite troubles. In 482 the Emperor Zero published a document called the Henotikon, which had been devised by the patriarch of Constantinople, Acacius, to placate the dissenting monophysites by ignoring the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon. Two years later St Felix held a synod at the Lateran and excommunicated Acacius and his supporters for a betrayal of the Catholic faith. St Felix thus appears in the common role of the Roman pontiffs as an upholder of an oecumenical council against the secular power, while much of the East meekly accepted the emperor’s “line”. But the resulting “Acacian schism” unhappily lasted for thirty-five years, and helped to pave the way for the eventual separation of the Byzantine church.

In the west, Felix helped in the restoration of the African church after its long persecution by the Arian Vandals. He died in 492 after a pontificate of nearly nine years, and his feast is kept in Rome.

(Butler’s Lives of the Saints)




Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)




It is hard to keep track of this treasure that is laid in Heaven if you are quite small and six weeks drag out like six years. We have made this part of the effort visible for the children so that they might see that they were accomplishing something. On or about Ash Wednesday, we dye lima beans purple to be used as counters in a jar. Beans, because they are seeds which, if put in the ground, appear to die only to spring forth with new life. This is what Our Lord said we must do if we would have life in Him. He that seems to lose his life shall gain it. The beans remind us that daily death to self in one self-denial after another is the dying which will find for us new life in Him.

“Try to surrender your will to Him, dear, so He may have His will in you.” It is excruciatingly difficult, but one must begin. And they do understand, because we have discovered that as they grow a little older, they no longer need the beans—they see in their minds what they are doing.

At the same time we dye little pieces of cloth to use as purple shrouds for our pictures and statues on Passion Sunday, as the shrouds are used in church. This is to remind us that with Passion Sunday, the last most solemn and sorrowful weeks of Lent have begun. One year we dyed a square of fine soft wool to make a cope for our Infant of Prague. (Instruction: You will now throw out the dye, like a good girl. Else everyone in the family will be trying to dye things in purple.)

Next, we make a candelabrum for the Stations of the Cross. For children the Stations of the Cross can conceivably mean nothing better than continual bobbings up and down with prayers. This sounds frightful, but it is true. We have somewhat the same problem teaching them to love and know the Stations as we have with the Rosary. So we decided to make a set of candles in a candelabrum to be used after the fashion of Tenebrae, the dramatic service in Holy Week, to help them love the Stations and want to say them nightly during Lent (we live too far out in the country to get to church in the evenings).

Twelve candles in one long candelabrum, or two short candelabra holding six candles apiece are needed. The candelabra may be made a number of ways. A length of board with twelve holes bored for the candles; two shoe boxes with six holes apiece for the candles, or—as we have done—two candelabra made with plaster of paris which is poured into two empty Kleenex boxes ( one at a time! ), and the candles (six of each) held in place for a few moments until the plaster hardens. The box is easily pulled away when the plaster is hard. After twenty-four hours the candelabrum is dry enough to be carried to wherever you will use it. We keep ours on the mantel. We use white candles. The candelabrum may be painted black.

Together with these, we use a crucifix and a booklet of meditations suitable for children, although we do not always read these. Often they are used only to acquaint the family with each Station, letting some member supply a short meditation “out of his head.” Whichever, the meditations must be kept short and if possible related to something familiar in daily life.

We light all twelve candles at the start, and put out the other lights in the room, leaving one lighted in another room so that little ones will not be frightened by complete darkness. After each Station is identified, we genuflect and say the traditional prayer:

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee,

Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Other prayers are optional. The Stations may be properly said in a church by going from one Station to another and merely making a meditation at each. For the sake of uniformity and in order to include what to our children is synonymous with devotional “praying” we say, after the short meditation, an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Gloria. Then one of the children puts out a candle for that Station. They take turns, a different child putting out the candles every night. When we have finished the twelfth Station, Jesus Dies on the Cross, the last candle is snuffed, and the room is in complete darkness. If you were there, they would explain it to you this way: “It’s because He was the Light of the World, and when He died, the Light was gone out of the world.”

You start remembering—all the way back to Advent when the wreath and its weekly growing light anticipated the coming of the Light of the World; back to St. Lucy, whose feast and whose name anticipated the coming of the Light of the World; back to the Christ candle, lighted at midnight Christmas Eve to tell us that the Light had come into the world. He is our Light, our Sun, our All.


The meditations for the Stations of the Cross are most fruitful if they relate to daily life some trial we are struggling with now. For example, Our Lord’s silence when He was condemned to death, when He was tormented by the soldiers, or when He fell under the weight of the cross—this can be related to that commonplace of childhood, bickering.

Bickering is a form of verbal cannibalism. The one who holds out longer with his pecking at another is victor, having reduced the victim to tears, goaded him to losing his temper, striking, or some other form of retaliation, which is all reported as an unprovoked injustice as follows:

“But I didn’t do anythingNothing. I just said . . .”

“I just said” is himself far more culpable, usually, than the poor soul he has goaded beyond endurance. There is no real remedy for this but silence on the part of victims. Abstinence from it on the part of attackers is the perfect solution, of course, but if someone does start, silence will stop him. This, however, is awfully hard on the one who is silent, because this is how bickering goes (as if you didn’t know):

“YOU pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not, and I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

“I am not.”

“You are too. Pig!”

“I am not a pig. I’m not. I’m not a pig I’m not a pig I’m not a pig!”

“You are too. You are a pig you are a pig you are a pig.”

“I’m not I’m not I’m not.”

“You are you are you are.”

This could go on for an hour if Mother didn’t begin to froth at the mouth. Whereas the silence treatment winds up the conversation (if you can call it that) as follows:

“YOU pig. YOU took the biggest.” “I did not. And I’m not a pig.” “You are too.”


In other words, you are a Pig.

O cruel silence. . . .

But children well understand that no one is really a pig; this is only a game to see who can make the other lose his temper first. It is ugly and mean; and the winner is usually the older child because he knows the extent of the younger’ s endurance. Out of his own store of unavenged wrongs, he chooses this way to refresh a bruised ego.

If we have taught them what Our Lord said must be the very basis for our behavior, we have the point of departure. “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, you do it to Me.” Learning this, we know what we must know in order to put meditations on the Passion together with events out of daily life and discover how to use them. Then we can see—and children can see it—that to provoke a brother or a sister is to provoke Christ; to be silent under provocation is to be silent with Christ.

It is not good to make such accusations while saying the Stations, but rather to connect the meditations with these real problems (names of particular children omitted), and return to the principles when we are on the scene of abuses which we must correct.

“You are teasing Christ when you tease your brother. It is the same. ‘Whatsoever you do . . . ,’ He said. You torment him just for the fun of it the way the soldiers tormented Our Lord. Yet you really love him, as you really love Our Lord. Keep these things in the front of your mind during Lent and try to bite your tongue when you are tempted to unkindness. Each time you keep from saying something unkind it is a triumph of grace, and Our Lord will strengthen you with grace for the next time. There are powerful graces coming to us during Lent, and we must try to use them to rid ourselves of our faults so that on Easter we can be free of them, like the newly baptized are free of original sin.”

Impossible? Not really, although it will probably take a lifetime to do it. But it is the goal, and especially during Lent it is the spirit of the preparation: to be as those newborn, on Easter morning.

If we are spectators to such a moral victory, we must be sure to congratulate the hero. “Darling, I heard today when he called you a pig and tried to make you angry. It was wonderful, the way you didn’t answer back and only walked away. You used silence the way Our Lord used it, the way He wants you to use it. When you are silent in union with Him you are growing in the likeness of Christ.”

When Dominic Savio was silent before an unjust accusation, he shamed the other boys into admitting their guilt. This is often the effect of heroic efforts to reach out to Christ and bear hurts with Him. Grace is the invisible ingredient in all these struggles for perfection.

For every honest effort, one may put a bean in the jar. There are beans for all kinds of things: no desserts, no jumping for the telephone (a genius in our midst suggested this to eliminate violent jostling, wrestling, racing, leaping and tugging—an excruciating discipline); no complaining about anything; doing chores promptly; no weekly penny for candy, and many more, including that magnificent and most glorious of all—coming when called. All who do this are known as St. Theresas. Actually, when you scan the long list of them, they amount to what spiritual directors call the “interior mortifications.”

Our mantel is bare this season except for the two candelabra with their twelve candles and the crucifix between them. Even the bread and the bakings speak to us of Lent. Crosses of seeds decorate the bread (because when you see the seeds you remember about “die so you may live”), and on biscuit crusts and meat pies symbols of the Passion are cut.

 (To be continued)


Father Krier will be in Los Angeles March 3 and in Pahrump March 12. He will be in Albuquerque March 13 and Eureka March 26.


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