Vol 14 Issue 38 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward KrierSeptember 18, 2021 ` Saint Joseph Cupertino, opn!
1. Sacrament of Penance
2. Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Saint Januarius & Companions
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
This week we want to turn our thoughts to the Angels that remained faithful to God. As previously mentioned, Michael was the leader of the Angels that accepted God’s invitation to participate in His glory and happiness. Michael is Hebrew for Who is like unto God?
Michael is particularly invoked today, since the time of Pope Leo XIII, because he is found in Scripture attached to the end of time. Daniel prophesied the events of the end of time, including: At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people. (Daniel 12:1). Daniel continues later in the same chapter: Many shall be chosen, and made white, and shall be tried as fire: and the wicked shall deal wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the learned shall understand. And from the time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation shall be set up (vv. 10-11), which is understood as Vatican II and its antichrist leaders replacing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the Novus Ordo celebration. John the Evangelist takes up the same theme in the Apocalypse (12:7): And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. This is why the prayer to saint Michael was said at the end of Mass, the removal of which was the first the Modernists enacted before dismantling the Sacrifice of the Mass itself.
There are two other Angels named. The first is Gabriel, or the strength of God in Hebrew. Gabriel is assigned to Christ, as what pertains to Christ’s coming is announced by Gabriel. Daniel mentions him in the prophesy of the Coming of Christ:
As I was yet speaking in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice. And he instructed me, and spoke to me, and said: O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee, and that thou mightest understand. From the beginning of thy prayers the word came forth: and I am come to shew it to thee, because thou art a man of desires: therefore do thou mark the word, and understand the vision. Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the saint of saints may be anointed. Know thou therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls in straitness of times. (Dan. 9:21-25)
We next find him appearing to Zachary in the Temple to declare that his wife, Elizabeth, will have a child. Upon Zachary’s disbelief, this Archangel replies: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. (Luke 1:19) Six months later Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary in Nazareth: And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth (Luke 1:26). Here, Gabriel announces that Mary is the woman prophesied who would be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Christ.
The third Archangel that is found by name in Scripture is the Angel Raphael, whom we find assisting the young Tobias in the Book of Tobias. He, too, proclaims himself: I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. (Tobias 12:15) Raphael is Hebrew meaning the Healing of God (God has healed), and is attributed to be the Angel that descended and stirred the pool of Bethsaida or Probatica for the healing of the infirm that is found in John chapter five.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
What is Penance?
When one turns, then, to the New Testament, Mark and John open their Gospels with John the Baptist calling for repentance and penance among the Israelites of the beginning of the First Century. John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance [μετανοίας—metanoias], unto remission of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:4-5) He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. (John 1:23; cf. Isa. 40:3)
As mentioned in the beginning, metanoia is the New Testament word to imply what repentance and penance are to mean: a changing of direction—and here understood in context, a changing from a life of sin to a life without sin.
Matthew and Luke introduce the Public Life of Christ also with John the Baptist preaching penance and repentance:
And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. And the same John had his garment of camels’ hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey. . . . And [the people] were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matt. 3:1-4, 6)
John calls to penance the lost sheep of Israel [sinners] (cf. Matt. 10:6; 15:24) to make straight his paths [correct the waywardness from God] and showed, by his asceticism, how to change. When the Pharisees and Sadducees, the leaders and those of the priestly caste, appeared before him, he explains their penitential practices were not a sign of true repentance for there were no good works that followed:
Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire. (Matt. 3:7-10)
Luke repeats the words of Matthew in context, but adds John the Baptist’s words to the people on the signs of good works showing repentance:
And the people asked him, saying: What then shall we do? And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner. And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him: Master, what shall we do? But he said to them: Do nothing more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay. (Luke 3:10-14)
As such, a confession of sin is meaningless unless there is a change. One finds this in the conversion of Zacheus:
And entering in, he [Jesus] walked through Jericho. And behold, there was a man named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature. And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him; for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide in thy house.
And he [Zacheus] made haste and came down; and received him with joy. And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner. But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)
Penance, therefore, includes sorrow for sin, a sorrow that chooses to change (amend) one’s life and doing what is needed to accomplish that change: self-sacrifice and repairing the harm one has done to others. In the words of the Baptist: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance (Luke 3:8) Penance is for the forgiveness of sins: Preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins. (Luke 3:3) Penance is needed to receive the forgiveness of sins in Baptism: But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38) Sins committed after Baptism are forgiven by the Sacrament of Penance where a priest absolves one doing penance for sin. This example is found in the healing of the Ten Lepers:
And it came to pass, as he was going to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain town, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off; And lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, master, have mercy on us. Whom when he saw, he said: Go, shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean. (Luke 17:11-14)
Jesus Christ upholds the concept of repentance and penance in His teaching with the Evangelists also using the Greek metanoia: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 4:17) Mark records Jesus sending his Apostles two by two: And going forth they preached that men should do penance. (Mark 6:12) Luke writes this account of Christ’s message: I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance. (Luke 5:32) In response to those not heeding the call, Matthew records this episode of the Christ:
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein were done the most of his miracles, for that they had not done penance (μετενόησαν). Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance (μετενόησαν) in sackcloth and ashes. (Matt. 11:20-21)
Luke repeats this scene (10:13) and provides another moment when Christ condemns the unrepentant: The men of Ninive shall rise in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas; and behold more than Jonas here. (Luke 11:32) Luke is replete of both the call to penance and the condemnation of those refusing to do penance.
In reading the Gospels, one may say that repentance includes penance but has five steps:
1. Acknowledgement of sin:
For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him. (Matt. 21:32)
And saying: The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
And if he sin against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day be converted unto thee, saying, I repent; forgive him. (Luke 17:4)
Though John does not join the other Evangelists in the call to repentance, stressing the demand rather that the people accept Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, he does write in his First Epistle: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9)
2. Sorrow for sin:
John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. (Mark 1:4; cf. Luke 3:3)
And immediately the cock crew again. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said unto him: Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt thrice deny me. And he began to weep. (Mark 14:72; cf. Luke 22:62)
And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:38)
And Saint Paul continues to uphold that sorrow is needed for penance: Now I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful; but because you were made sorrowful unto penance. For you were made sorrowful according to God, . . . For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation. . . .(2 Cor. 7:10)
3. Change of heart—a conversion:
This change of heart, the meaning of metanoia, may be said to be the heart of penance—for acknowledgement and sorrow lead to change of heart while penance—the atonement—sustains the change of heart. Therefore, penance should not be seen essentially as an ascetical practice, mortification, or satisfaction but an interior and spiritual act that involves a conversion of the heart. John the Baptist makes this clear when he tells the Pharisees: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of penance; and do not begin to say, We have Abraham for our father. For I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham. (Luke 3:8) When those who ask what is demanded to show they have repented, John informs them:
Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying: What then shall we do? And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner. And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him: Master, what shall we do? But he said to them: Do nothing more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay. (Luke 3:9-14)
Jesus Christ points to the change of heart when He addresses His hearers: I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance. (Luke 5:32) And, in His Sermon on the Mount, He also describes the needed change of heart:
You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. . . . You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:21-24, 27-30)
Saint Luke has Paul speaking to King Agrippa using these words: But to them first that are at Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and unto all the country of Judea, and to the Gentiles did I preach, that they should do penance, and turn to God, doing works worthy of penance. (Acts 26:20) Saint Paul instructs the Ephesians:
But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard him, and have been taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus: To put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind: And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. Wherefore putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. (Eph. 4:20-25)
4. Confessing of sins
One reads of those who went to John the Baptist: And [the people] were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matt. 3:6; cf. Mark 1:4) This was in light of the Levitical Law that required the sinner to confess to the priest to be told the restitution and satisfaction for the sin. Chapters 5-7 in the Book of Numbers lists the various sins, with this insertion clearly noting the act: They shall confess their sin, and restore the principal itself, and the fifth part over and above, to him against whom they have sinned. (Num. 5:7) And the Wiseman writes: Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, but submit not thyself to every man for sin. (Ecclus. 4:31) When one in sin approached Christ, the first act by Jesus was to forgive them their sins as witnessed by the man of the palsy (Matthew 9; Mark 2; Luke 5) or the woman anointing the feet of Jesus (Luke 7). In the repentance of Zacheus one reads of his confession:
And when all saw it [Christ asking Zecheus to dine], they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner. But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:7-10)
The Prodigal Son also confesses to his father: And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. (Luke 15:21)
The institution of the Sacrament of Penance will be covered later, but even the event of John (20:21ff) demands a confession and Saint James: And if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:15)
Penance in this context is that of atoning for sin, personal and universal. This is a part of justice, as Christ in His Sermon on the Mount demanded: I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20) Matthew opens the Public Life of Christ with John the Baptist calling for penance: And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:2) Christ continues the same call after the Baptist is arrested: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 4:17) He warns those cities who refused His call to do penance with these threats:
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein were done the most of his miracles, for that they had not done penance. Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes. (Matt. 11:20-21)
And all the people who reject His summons to penance: The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold a greater than Jonas here. (Matt. 12:41)
One will see later that these five steps are also the qualities of the Sacrament of Penance.
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
MATTHEW xxii. 34-46
At that time: The Pharisees came to Jesus, and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David’s. He then saith to them. How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
The Greatest and First Commandments
MATTHEW xxii. 34-40
1. When our Lord answered the Sadducees, who would not hear of the resurrection, by proving it to them from the testimony of the Law, Matthew tells us that Jesus silenced the Sadducees, willing to show us by this that the brightness of truth will ever put to silence the bitter and injurious voice of falsehood. As our Saviour by His teaching reduced the Sadducees to silence, showing them with divine authority that their belief was false, so will the followers of Christ ever do the same from the Scriptures, before which, in accord with all sound learning, every voice of Pharaoh must be dumb: that voice in which, glorying in himself, he said, The river is mine, and I made it, as is written in Ezechiel (Ezech. xxix. 9).
The Sadducees therefore, who said there was no resurrection, questioned the Saviour about things that were written; thinking to put Him to silence. But neither Jesus nor His Disciples are at any time ever obstructed by the impious. It was fitting therefore that the Sadducees should be put to silence by Christ. For a just man will be silent, knowing that there is a time to keep silence and a time to speak (Eccles. iii. 7); yet he is not dumb. And while a just man will keep silence, though he is not dumb, it is ever the way of Sadducees and of all who teach falsehood to be dumb, but not to keep silence: For though dumb with respect to the truth, they will nevertheless not be silent. So it was not to man, but to the sea, the Lord said: Peace, be still; rebuking it when it was stormy.
But now the Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection, hearing Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, come together; they come together when the truth of the resurrection has triumphed, who had not come together until the Sadducees were silenced. But though they came together because the proof of the resurrection had prevailed, nevertheless, one of them questioned Him, not as wishing to learn from Him what he was asking, but as tempting the Lord God. Everyone therefore who questions any bishop or teacher on any article of faith, and questions him, not with a mind to learn, but in order to trip him up, is to be regarded as a brother of this Pharisee who sought by his question to tempt the Saviour. For all that is done to the holy servants of Christ, whether by those who love them, or by those who are their enemies, He takes wholly to Himself: for we must consider what is not written in the Scriptures in the light of what was written. For the sake of those who hunger and thirst it was written: I was hungry; and, I was thirsty. And, because of the naked and of those who are strangers, because of the sick, and those who are in prison: I was naked; and, I was a stranger; and, I was sick, and, I was in prison. And to this we may also add: I suffered afflictions, I was beaten, I was tempted, and all such things. And as, in the things which are written in the Scriptures, the words of the Lord truly apply, where He says: As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, so when the just man suffers persecution, when evil is spoken of him, or when he suffers anything of this kind, set Christ in the midst of those who do this injury; saying to them: When you do an injury to one of the least of these, it is Me you have assailed, it is against Me you have spoken evil.
2. Let us now consider the proposition of the tempter. Master, he says, which is the great commandment in the law? He calls Him, Master, tempting Him; for it was not as a disciple of Christ he spoke these words. This will be clearer from an example we shall give you. Let us, for instance, say that a father is the father of his son, and no one can rightly call him father save his son. And a mother is the mother of her own daughter, and no one can call her mother except her own daughter. So a master is the master of his own pupil or disciple, and a disciple is the pupil of his own master. Therefore, no one can rightly say to him, Master, except his own disciple. So you see that it was because of this, that not all who call Him Master, speak truthfully, but only those who are of a mind to learn from Him, that He said to His Disciples: You call me Master, and Lord: and you say well; for so I am (Jn. xiii. 13). Rightly therefore do the Disciples of Christ call Him Master; and when keeping His word rightly do they call Him Lord. And for this reason rightly also did the Apostle declare: Yet to us there is but one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (I Cor. viii. 6). And remember that other saying of our Lord, in which He tells us: It is enough for the disciple that he be, not simply, as the master but: as his master (Mt. x. 25).
If there is anyone therefore who does not learn from the Word, and does not submit himself to Him with his whole soul, that he may become His loved plant (Mt. xv. 13), yet presumes to call Him: Master, he is brother to that Pharisee who came tempting Christ, and calling Him Master. And everyone who says: Our Father who art in heaven, should not possess the spirit of bondage in fear, but the spirit of adoption of sons (Rom. viii. 15). He however who has not the spirit of adoption of sons, and yet says: Our Father who art in heaven, lies; since he calls God his Father, when he is not a son of God.
But this is the question: Which is the great commandment in the law? And at this point it is fitting that we explain to you something of the difference between commandments. For some are great, and some are derived from them. So we must examine them as to their order, down to the least. For if the Lord had not answered the Pharisee who came tempting Him and saying: Which is the great commandment in the law, we would not then think that one commandment was greater than another. But now, since He has answered him, and has said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment, we have learned the judgement we needed to know concerning the commandments: That there are chief commandments, and there are lesser ones, down to the least.
Consider again what it was the Pharisee asked: Which is the great commandment in the law? The Lord in answering him teaches us that not only is the commandment to love God the greatest, but that it is also the first: First, not in the Scriptural order, but in the excellence of its virtue. And here is a fitting place to note, that though it is made up as it were of many commandments, as it stands now, He said, the greatest and first commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. The second is like the first and, because of its likeness, also great: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; so that following this we may understand that there is another which is third in order and greatness, and another which is fourth; and so numbering the precepts of the law in their order, and receiving wisdom from God, one may order each one down to the least: And this is the work of Christ alone, Who is the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Cor. i. 24).
And so from the time of Moses till the coming of the Saviour, it is probable that when the law was being read this question was asked: Which of these is the greatest commandment? For the Pharisee would not have asked it, had an answer not been sought, and not found, until Jesus coming taught not only which was the greatest and also the first; and that the second was like the first. It was the Pharisee’s own task then to find out which was third, fourth and so on. Supposing you asked whether there was a commandment which had not both these attributes: greatest and first; but only one of them, I believe you will find that Paul speaks of such a commandment, to the Ephesians. Honour thy father, he says, and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long-lived upon the earth (vv. 2, 3). Here then is a first commandment; yet not a great one: Honour thy father and thy mother.
And if there is some commandment great, yet not a first, you will ask how they compare in greatness. Since in comparing them some will be least, it is useful to recall an example our Lord Himself gave. He therefore, He says, that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. v. 19). And the Saviour answering the Pharisee tempting Him, and laying down which was the first and great commandment, and adding that the second was like it, namely: Thou shalt love tliy neighbour as thyself, added this saying: On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.
The Apostle however says to the Romans: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. And, if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (xiii. 9). Let us see then if it is the same to say that the whole law and the prophets depend on the two commandments of the love of God and our neighbour, as to say that every commandment is summed up in the commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, or that all the commandments both depend on and are summed up in either commandment.
Someone then says: The commandments depend one from the other, the second from the first and greatest; the third from the second, and so on; all after the second depending from the one preceding; and that the Apostle said, in view of its end, every commandment depends on this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; but that the Saviour taught that these two commandments govern all the rest. Another will ask how it was said that: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. And, if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Therefore, he will say, that first commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, etc., is also comprised in this commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. How can what the Apostle said be true: And, if there be any other commandment, etc., unless the first commandment regarding the love of God is comprised in the second, which is like the first?
And if the first is comprised in the second, then the second must be greater than the first. Every commandment then, even the first and greatest, is comprised in this second: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, for loving ourselves, we also love God the Author of our love, so that we are able to love one another and are loved by one another. For giving thanks that we are rational beings, and called to the knowledge of God, and that we receive His grace and blessings, we include the love of God in the second and like commandment.
The first therefore and greatest commandment of the law is: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. And he takes something from its primacy and greatness who subtracts anything from the entirety of this commandment; that is, either from that part which says: With thy whole heart, or from: With thy whole soul, or from: With thy whole mind. And it may well be that all they who love God and their Lord fulfil this commandment in part only, unless they fulfil it in all respects and love Him with their whole heart and with their soul and with their whole mind. They alone accept within themselves its greatness and primacy who not only love the Lord their God, but have also taken it upon themselves to fulfil these three conditions; namely, that with their whole heart they hold within themselves the fulness of this love, and its thoughts and actions; and with their whole soul, that is, ready to lay it down for the service of God Who created all things, whenever the profit of His Word demands it: for God is loved with thy whole soul, when no part of the soul is seized by anything that is out of keeping with the faith; and with their whole mind thinking and speaking of nothing else but the things of God.
SS. JANUARIUS, BISHOP OF BENEVENTO, AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS (c. A.D. 305?)
ST JANUARIUS (Gennaro), a native some say of Naples, others of Benevento, was bishop of this latter city when the persecution of Diocletian broke out. Sossus, deacon of Miseno, Proculus, deacon of Pozzuoli, and Euticius and Acutius, laymen, were imprisoned at Pozzuoli by an order of the governor of Campania, before whom they had confessed their faith. Sossus by his wisdom and sanctity had earned the friendship of St Januarius, and upon the news that this servant of God and several others were fallen into the hands of the persecutors, the bishop determined to make them a visit to comfort and encourage them. He did not escape the notice of the keepers, who gave information that someone from Benevento had visited the Christian prisoners. The governor gave orders that Januarius, whom he found to be the person, should be arrested and brought before him at Nola, which was accordingly done. Festus, the bishop’s deacon, and Desiderius, a lector of his church, were also taken, and had a share in the interrogatories and torments which the good bishop underwent at Nola. Some time after the governor went to Pozzuoli, and these three confessors, loaded with irons, were made to walk before his chariot to that town, where they were thrown into the same prison where the four martyrs already mentioned were detained. They had been condemned to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, and were then lying in expectation of the execution of their sentence. The day after the arrival of St Januarius and his two companions all these champions of Christ were exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre, but none of the animals could be provoked to touch them. The people were amazed and imputed their preservation to magic, and the martyrs were condemned to be beheaded. This sentence was executed near Pozzuoli, and the martyrs were buried near that town.
The city of Naples eventually got possession of the relics of St Januarius, which in the fifth century were brought from the little church of San Gennaro near the Solfatara. During the wars of the Normans they were removed, first to Benevento, and some time after to the abbey of Monte Vergine; but in 1497 they were brought back to Naples, where he has long been honoured as principal patron.
(Butler’s Lives of the Saints)
LETTERS TO JACK
WRITTEN BY A PRIEST TO HIS NEPHEW
RIGHT REV. FRANCIS C. KELLEY, D.D., LL.D.
IT was a mark of divine wisdom in Christ that he foresaw that the world was going to do to His followers what it had done to Him.
DON’T worry if you find that the world is against you. If the world were for you, you would have cause for worry.
KNOWLEDGE alone does not give us discipline; but the getting of knowledge does.
My dear Jack:
Yesterday I was glancing over the editorial pages of a New York weekly paper whose chief reason for existence seems to be enmity to “the things that are”. Naturally, the Catholic Church is included. A rather vicious editorial was headed, “The Catholic Church against the World”. I smiled when I read that title. It was intended as a “knock”, but like most “knocks”, it succeeded in being a “boost”. As a matter of fact, to any reader of the life of Christ it must be apparent that Christianity of necessity is arrayed against the world; and it naturally follows that the world will always be arrayed against Christianity. The Church of the poor is the Church of Christ; for to the wedding feast came the blind and the lame. The “big men” of the world were quick to refuse their own invitations. The Church the world hates must be the true Church; for Christ constantly warned against the world, and even went so far as to say to His followers: “Fear not if the world hates you.” It was a mark of divine wisdom in Christ that He foresaw that the world was going to do to His followers what it had done to Him.
All the above was preliminary to telling you, Jack, that the world has a silken cord around every human being, one especially around youth, and it is constantly pulling us away from the things that are good. The pull was never stronger perhaps than it is today. As the world becomes richer, worldlings become more insistent in demanding the comforts that riches alone can buy. As democracy advances beyond the zone of safety, the world demands more and more that all restraint be thrown aside. As the world becomes more “civilized”, in the poorest sense of the word, it demands more and more that men take their pleasures here, and pay less attention to hopes of the hereafter. The pull of the world is away from pain, from discomfort, from labor, from effort; in other words, from the very things that have been responsible for the comforts and the achievements in which this same world rejoices. The world is against the discipline which gave it all its great achievements. The big demand today is for a freedom of its own construction. Everybody asks “to live his or her own life”, which is another way of saying that everybody is becoming selfish. We are in an age of “isms” that are mostly aimed at giving us a “good time”, and end in giving us the “blues.”
A few days ago, while driving outside the city, I noticed two very large fields. One had evidently been lying fallow for a great many years; but the other was full of waving corn. Instantly the process that worked on both was pictured to my mind. It was evident that the fallow field had once been used for raising hay. There were still some patches of hay in it, or rather there was some tall grass, mixed up with shrubs of all kinds, saplings, wild flowers, weeds. When the owner began to neglect that land, blowing time had come for the dandelions; and a wonderful number of the little white balloons, with seeds in the baskets, burst over the field. Each basket dropped on a blade of grass; then the rain came and washed the seeds into the moist earth. Between the blades the dandelions sprang up, but always at the expense of the useful grass. Later came the rag-weed, the golden rod and the poisoned sumac; and then countless other seeds, each looking for a foothold. It took years to do it, but when the years had passed the field was a picture of the world without Christ, of a “free world”, of a world without restraints. The weeds are, of course, a survival of the strongest, but the strongest in the worldly sense is not always the desirable. Every plant in the field was free to do its best. Each one of them did its best; and so even to look at the result, causes pain.
The other field had nothing in it but corn—beautiful corn, grown high and with cobs well covered with nourishment. There was not a thing about that corn that could not be put to use, even down to its roots. It occupied the field to the exclusion of everything else. What process produced this splendid result? The farmer had gone into that field with a plow, scored it a foot deep and broke it into sods. Then he went in again and harrowed out all the weeds. After that he went over the field with a pulverizer. He smashed the remaining sods to pieces, so that there was nothing left but the soft yielding soil. Only then did he plant. When the corn came up, he again went to cutting and slashing at the earth. He pulverized it over again with the hoe. He took out every noxious plant that could hurt; and he went back to the same task again and again. So the useful thing was done.
The Christian Church is the mystical body of Christ; and Christians are the useful things that grow in the field. How was the field first prepared? It was prepared by the breaking of the flesh of Christ Himself. Like the field He was scored and plowed with pain. There wasn’t an inch of His body left without a wound, and not a spot, no matter how small, without the red but glorious stain of His blood. Then from His own lips fell the seed of the Word, out of which spring the Christian lives that are to be “gathered into His barns”. Again and again the mystical body of Christ is cut and scored for the cultivation of souls. All the while the rain of God’s grace falls on the field and on the plants to give them strength and nourishment. Thus are souls grown for God.
The great lesson that comes out of all this is that of the utility of pain. Christianity is built upon pain. We are growing constantly upon pain. Love is pain. We were given human life in the pain of our mothers. We go into Eternal Life through the pain of death. We are kept in God’s ways by pain. I might even say that we cannot grow to full Christian stature without pain.
But since the world is against pain, since it is looking only for comforts, it follows that Christianity, born in pain and living in pain and to die to the earth in pain, is against the world. But this is not actually so hard as it seems, for Christianity alone understands what is beyond the gates of the Great Pain; and knows that the plowing and the harrowing and the hoeing must be done to produce the result.
If you would be a success even in the world, by which I mean the kind of a success that begins in this world but grows into the next, do not shrink from discipline; therefore, do not fear pain over-much. Nothing you can do will take either one out of your life; but you may do very much to get good out of both. Discipline in reality epitomizes the whole idea of education. Sidney Smith, referring to knowledge, says: “It is worth while in the days of our youth to strive hard for this great discipline.” But knowledge alone does not give us any discipline, while the getting of knowledge does. A truly educated man is not the one who speaks many languages and knows all branches of science. He is rather the one who has profited by his efforts to learn these things, as well as the higher things of God, to the extent that he is disciplined. The truly educated man is the man who has mastered himself. A river without banks would not be a river at all. Steam unconfined is worthless as a power. Thoughts without reason are useless. Love without respect is base. But the banks are the discipline of the river, the cylinder of the steam, reason of thought and respect of love. The big thing that religion does for a man or a woman is in the soul discipline that it gives. There is no education without that. There is only one step between knowledge and barbarism. The French revolutionists rejecting discipline, took barbarism, and drenched their country with blood.