Catholic Tradition Newsletter A39: Holy Eucharist, Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Saint Michael Archangel

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Vol 12 Issue 39 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Krier
September 28, 2019 ~ Saint Wenceslaus, opn!

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
3.      Saint Michael, Archangel
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these. And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. For Moses said: Honour thy father and thy mother; and He that shall curse father or mother, dying let him die. But you say: If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban, (which is a gift,) whatsoever is from me, shall profit thee. And further you suffer him not to do any thing for his father or mother, making void the word of God by your own tradition, which you have given forth. And many other such like things you do. (Mark 7:8-13)

That is, clear injustice is permitted amongst them if there is a material benefit to those making the laws—and an outward “upright person” cannot be doing wrong—even in throwing his mother to her death. Our Lord points out, though, that the very act of injustice shows that the person is not an “upright person”, but an evil person because what that person desires is evil.

It is unfathomable to imagine a world where the state would allow wholesale purging of undesirables, but recent court decisions exonerating and even praising those who murder their born or unborn child or murder their spouse or parents who are considered undesirable raises the near possibility that each one may find his or her life in jeopardy once they are declared an undesirable by state eugenicists believing they can progress to a utopia in which willing participants can enjoy a material world based on submission to political correctness.

I am afraid many elderly people will, hearing the fate of this woman, have many more sleepless nights as they see their children adopt a more progressive mentality that stresses shortage of natural resources and decide who has the right to them, knowing that in their age they are being labeled unnecessary consumers of unsustainable resources and the cause of climate change. Listen to the words of the children we had to hear this past week—wait until they are old enough to vote and hold office.

As Catholics, let us hold fast to God’s Law and make sure we do not lack in our respect toward our parents; but seek that they will be cared for even in their advanced age—knowing it is a duty.—But, as adults, each should be providing for his or her future and not set an unnecessary burden on their children.

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



By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

Evolution and Modernism

O’Connor then quotes from Charles Davis’, “Understanding the Real Presence”, in The Word in History, pp. 160, 168:

Personal presence is the presence of person to person or. . . the presence of a person as a person to another person as a person. This personal presence is constituted essentially by mutual knowledge and love.

A person becomes present to another person when, in what he is, he enters into the other person’s knowledge and love, in what he is. He must reveal himself. He must make himself known as a subject. . . . His self-communication must be recognized and accepted, so that he is known as another subject or self.

The word “presence” needs careful handling when it is used in a limited sense to designate the relation of Christ to the sacrament while prescinding from the interpersonal presence achieved in the sacrament as its effect. The image of the local presence of a body dominates the mind of many people. They cannot rise above the concept of presence as bodily juxtaposition. In fact, Christ is present in the sacraments because they are his actions. (vide HM, 159-60)

This agrees with Zwingli’s figurative interpretation in his likening the presence to a wife possessing the marriage ring from her husband—a mere pledge and reminder:

Thus, I say, we have the Lord’s Supper distinguished by the presence of Christ. But in all this is not the presence of the body of Christ sacramentally to the eye of faith, as I have always said, the gist of the whole matter? For as a husband’s ring is no common gold to the wife but more than all the gems of the Indies, so to us is this sacrament, the food and drink of the Lord’s Supper, sweeter than the flavor of the finest viands. And as the ring, though not itself the husband, has a touch of the husband’s value because it was given by him as a sign of undying love, and because it recalls his form whenever it is looked upon, so the repast of the Supper, though not Christ’s material body, rises to high value because it was given and instituted as an everlasting sign of the love of Christ. . . .  (Zwingli, Letter to the Princes of Germany, in On Providence, p. 123. The letter was written in 1530—as quoted in HM, 144-45.)

The neo-Modernist Engelbert Gutwenger, in defending a new interpretation of Transubstantiation according to Phenomenologist philosophy writes:

In view of the philosophical difficulties and the demands of personalism, the nouvelle theologie has sought to replace the notion of transubstantiation by that of transfinalization, but without explaining precisely whether a new terminology or a new interpretation was aimed at. If the bread receives a new ordination to an end, an ontological change must have taken place. The question is what is this change. Theologians from the Netherlands in particular have contributed to the fuller discussion of transubstantiation (C. Dupont, B. Moller, E. Schillebeeckx, P. Schoonenberg, L. Smits, I. Sonnen and others. They do not all take the same line. They presuppose the real presence. In the discussion of the process of its realization, L. Smits starts explicitly with the early scholasticism of the 12th century. Like other theologians, Smits makes much use of phenomenological approaches to throw light on the process of change, while Schillebeeckx treats it along the lines of ontology. They all agree in opting for a transfinalization or transignification of the consecrated bread and wine.

The more recent approaches suggest the following considerations. One has to remember that the words of institution indicate a change but do not give any guiding line for the interpretation of the actual process. As regards transubstantiation, it may then be said that substance, essence, meaning and purpose of the bread are identical. But the meaning of a thing can be changed without detriment to its matter. A house, for instance, consists of a certain arrangement of materials and has a clearly established nature and a clearly established purpose. If the house is demolished and the materials used for building a bridge, a change of nature or essence has intervened. Something completely different is there. The meaning has been changed, since a house is meant to be lived in and a bridge is used to cross a depression. But there has been no loss of material. In an analogous way, the meaning of the bread has been changed through the consecration. Something which formerly served profane use now becomes the dwelling-place and the symbol of Christ who is present and gives himself to his own. This means that an ontological change has taken place in the bread.

In a general way, three classes of symbols may be distinguished. The first type are effects which actually point to their cause, like smoke and fire. The second type have by their very nature a certain potential signification, which needs, however, to be actualized by being determined and expressed, e.g., washing with water as a symbol of purification from sin. The third type of symbol do not by nature designate any given object either actually or potentially. They only become signs through human convention, like the colours of traffic lights. The bread should be included in the second type of symbols, since the fact that it is food makes it naturally apt to symbolize spiritual nourishment and union. But the consecrated bread possesses the further property of signifying that the Lord who offers himself as food is not just at a distance but is present in the bread. By virtue of this concentrated symbolism, the bread becomes the sacramental manifestation of the presence of Christ. Hence transubstantiation means a change of finality and being in the bread and wine, because they are raised to being symbols of Christ who is present there and invites men to spiritual union. (Transubstantiation in Encyclopedia of Theology, 1754-55)

The conclusion, the bread is still bread but is not normal bread, rather sacramental bread because, as the Lutherans, with the bread Christ is present, and with the Zwinglians (Reformists) it symbolizes Christ’s presence.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


Luke xiv. 1-11

At that time: When Jesus went into the house of one of the chief of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, to eat bread, they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him that had the dropsy. And Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? But they held their peace. But he, taking him, healed him and sent him away. And answering them he said: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit and will not immediately draw him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him to those things.

And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him; and he that inviteth thee and him come and say to thee: Give this man place. And then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But, when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that, when he who inviteth thee cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. Because everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


CYRIL: Though the Lord knew the malice of the Pharisees, nevertheless He partook of their hospitality, so that by His words and miracles He might do some good among those present. For this reason we read:

V. 1. And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of one of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, to eat bread, that they watched him:

To see if He would ignore the Law, or do any of the things that were forbidden on the sabbath day. And so when the dropsical man came among them, by a question Jesus checks the arrogance of the Pharisees, seeking to find fault with Him. Hence we read:

VV. 2 and 3. And, behold, there was a certain man before him that had the dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying: Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

BEDE: That Jesus is said to have answered relates to the words: And they watched him. For the Lord knows the thoughts of men. THEOPHYLACTUS: By His question He makes public their foolishness: for while God blesses on the seventh day, they prevent good works on that day. A day that does not allow the doing of good works is accursed.

V.4. But they held their peace.

BEDE: And well did they, when questioned, hold their peace. For they see that whatever they say would be said against themselves. If it is lawful to heal on the sabbath why do they watch the Saviour to see if He will heal on that day? If it is not lawful, why do they care for their cattle on the sabbath? And so there follows: But they held their peace. CYRIL: Avoiding the snares of the Jews, He delivers the man from his dropsy; who, for fear of the Pharisees, does not ask to be healed, but simply stands by; so that, moved by compassion at his appearance, Jesus might heal him: The Lord knows this, and does not ask him if he wishes to be healed; but there and then heals him. Hence follows: But He taking him, healed him and sent him away.

THEOPHYLACTUS: In doing this the Lord was not concerned to see whether He gave scandal to the Pharisees or not, but looked only to do good to one in need of His help. For it is right, when what we are doing yields great good, to pay no heed to the scandal of the foolish. CYRIL: And as the Pharisees continued in their foolish silence, Christ reproves their unvarying forwardness, using in this certain reflections. Hence there follows:

V.5. And answering them he said: Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit and will not immediately draw him out, on the sabbath day?

THEOPHYLACTUS: As though to say: If the law forbids you to have compassion on the sabbath, then neither should you have a care for your son, should he fall into danger on the sabbath. But why do I speak of your son, when you will not neglect even your ox, should you see it in danger? BEDE: In which He makes clear to the Pharisees watching Him, that He is accusing them also of avarice, revealing greed in their concern for animals. How much more should Christ not help man, who is more precious than any beast?

AUGUSTINE, Gospel Questions, II, 29: He aptly compares the dropsical man to the beast that fell into a well, for he was encumbered with water; just as He compares the woman He had called bound, and whom He had loosed, to a beast that is loosed to be led to water. BEDE: By this apt example He solves the question: to show them that they are accusing Him of breaking the sabbath by a work of charity, who themselves break it by works of covetousness. Hence there follows:

V.6. And they could not answer him to these things.

Mystically, the dropsical man is a figure of one overwhelmed by the flow of carnal pleasures: for dropsy is a disease named from excess of watery humour. AUGUSTINE, as above: Or, we may rightly compare the dropsical man to a covetous rich man: For the more the one is swollen with excess of water, the more he thirsts; so also the other: The more he abounds in riches, which he does not use well, the more eagerly he desires them.

GREGORY, Morals in Job, xviii, 19: Rightly therefore is the dropsical man healed in the presence of the Pharisees: for by the bodily sickness of the one, is signified the weakness or the sickness of heart and soul of the others. BEDE: Well does He speak in this parable of the ass and the ox, as signifying either the wise and the foolish, or both peoples: namely, the Jews, laden with the yoke of the Law; and the Gentiles, unbroken by any law. It is the Lord draws all men out who have sunk into the pit of concupiscence.

V.7. And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at table, saying to them:

AMBROSE: He first heals the dropsisical man, in whom excess of the body’s fluid oppressed the activity of the soul, and extinguished the ardour of his spirit. Then we are taught humility, when we are forbidden to be eager for the higher place at a wedding feast.

V.8. When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place.

CYRIL: Here He shows that we are rash and deserving of rebuke, should we rush eagerly towards the places of honour that do not belong to us. Then follows: lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him.

V.9. And he that invited thee and him come and say to thee: Give this man place. And then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place.

CHRYSOSTOM: And so he who was eager for prominence, does not obtain what he desired, but suffers a repulse; and striving to gain honour is not honoured. And as nothing is more to be desired than modesty, the Lord leads the minds of His listeners to the opposite of this conduct. He tells us not only must we not be eager for the first place, but bids us seek the lowest. Hence follows:

V.10. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place.

CYRIL: For should someone not desire a place above others, he shall be given this; according to the divine sentence. For there follows: That, when he who inviteth thee cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. In saying this, He is not harshly rebuking, but mildly advising them: for a word to the wise suffices. And so it is for humility a man is crowned with honour. For there follows: Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.

BASIL (Regulae Disp. 21): To take the lowest place at feasts, as the Lord advises, is a fitting thing to do; but again, to seize it forcibly is a thing to be condemned, as disturbing order and causing confusion. Contending for the last place, you will be no different from those who strive for the first. Accordingly, as the Lord here says, it is for him who gives the feast, to decide the order of place. We should have a patient concern for one another, doing all things becomingly and in order; and not for the sake of how we may appear before the crowd. Neither should we make a show of humility by resisting strongly: humility is practised rather by simple submission; refusal shows pride more decidedly than taking the first place when invited to do so.

THEOPHYLACTUS: Let no one think the teaching the Lord here gives is of little importance, or unworthy of the sublimity of the Word of God. For you do not call a physician kind who undertakes to heal gout, but refuses to treat a cut finger or an aching tooth. And how can the sickness of vanity be a little thing, when it throws into disorder those seeking the first places? It was therefore fitting that the Teacher of humility should cut off every branch of this evil root. And consider also, that, with the supper ready, and with the craving for the first place troubling the foolish, and in the presence of the Saviour, it was a suitable time for a word of advice.

CYRIL: Having shown by this simple example the humiliation of the vainglorious, and the exaltation of the humble, to this small incident He joins something great; instructing all the faithful:

V.11. Because everyone that exalteth: himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

And this is the utterance of the Divine Judgement, not of human experience: for in this world, many who desire honour gain it; while those who humble themselves, remain unknown. THEOPHYLACTUS: But in the end, he who thrusts himself into honours is not honoured by all men: while honoured by some, others will speak ill of him, sometimes even while honouring him.

BEDE: But since the Evangelist calls this admonition a parable, let us consider briefly its mystical content. Whoever was invited and has come to the nuptials of Christ and His Church, let him not, glorying in his own merits, set himself above the other members of the Church to whom he is joined by faith. For he shall give place to one more honourable, invited after him, who has surpassed him in activity in following Christ, and with shame must fill the lowest place, when, learning of the greater things others have done, he lowers the exalted notions he had of his own works. But when a man sits in the lowest place, in accord with the words: The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things: and thou shalt find grace before God (Ecclus. iii. 20). the Lord, when He comes, finding him humble, shall bless him with the name, friend, and shall bid him go higher: For, Whosoever shall humble himself as a child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. xviii. 4). And well does He say: Thou shalt have glory: That you may not begin to seek now the glory laid up for you at the end.

The parable may also be understood of this life, for the Lord comes daily in to His marriage feast, putting down the proud, and sometimes giving such gifts of His Spirit to the humble that the company sitting down, that is, the faithful, are astonished, and glorify them. From the general conclusion that follows, it is clearly manifest, that the preceding discourse of the Lord is to be understood mystically. For not everyone who exalts himself before men is humbled; neither is everyone who humbles himself in the sight of men, exalted by them. But, he who prides himself on his merits, he shall be humbled by the Lord; and he who humbles himself because of the favours he has received, he shall be exalted by Him.



The Dedication to St. Michael the Archangel

1. The Archangel St. Michael occupies a prominent place in the liturgy. In the struggle of God and the Church against Satan he plays an important role. The battle between God and his enemies, begun when Lucifer fell, still continues. The Son of God Himself came upon this earth as the armed warrior-hero, in order to strike down the enemies and to restore to the Father the honor that had been stolen from Him. In this warfare no creature can be neutral. Those sworn to Christ are St. Michael and his angels, the Church, and the saints; and St. Michael is their standard-bearer, sounding the battle cry, “Who is like to God?” On the side of God’s enemies are Satan, his angels, and his companions among men. Today’s feast was originally the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of St. Michael, on the Via Salaria, near Rome. The liturgy does not deal with St. Michael alone; rather it has in mind all the holy angels who have been assigned to protect us Christians and to assist us in the struggle toward what is good.

2. “Fierce war broke out in heaven, where Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought on their part, but could not win the day, or stand their ground in heaven any longer; the great dragon, serpent of the primal age, was flung down to earth; he whom we call the devil, or Satan, the whole world’s seducer” (Apoc. 12:7-9). The dragon had undertaken a direct assault upon heaven with all his forces, to thwart God’s plan. A fateful decision hung in the balance: Would God’s kingdom endure or not? Commander in chief of the faithful angels was Michael; his name was the watchword against the besiegers of heaven. There could never have been any doubt as to the outcome: the enemies of God were defeated and routed by Michael’s victory with the host under his standard. Ever since, Michael has been looked upon as the protecting Patron of the Church, as he formerly was of the Chosen People. It is true that we children of the Church will always be molested by Satan, but the Church knows that St. Michael stands always at our side in the struggle. We joyfully repeat the battle cry, “Who is like to God?” We venerate the archangel Michael, leader of the angel army. Honoring him brings blessings to nations, and his intercession opens heaven (Fifth Response at Matins).

“They have angels of their own in heaven, that behold the face of my heavenly Father continually” (Gospel). And, “Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences.” God takes care of the little ones, those who count for nothing in the eyes of the world. To each of them He assigns an angel to care for him, to guide and protect him, even as a man protects his own eye. God honors us to the extent of entrusting us to one of the princes of heaven, who will represent us before His throne. These princes stand at the throne of God and always behold His glory. They are the intimates and adorers of Him for whom they glow with love; in the hour of testing they kept faith and fought for His interests with sacrificial zeal. How encouraging it is to remember that God has given His Church this holy intercessor, this mighty conqueror of Satan, as her protector. She now has nothing to fear from the evil one’s attacks, nor from his world, no matter how many despise her.

3. “An angel stood by the altar of the temple, holding a golden censer, and incense was given him in plenty; and the smoke of the perfume went up in God’s presence” (Offertory). One of the “seven spirits who stand before God” took the censer and brought it to the altar before the throne of God, so that he might light it there. In fragrant clouds the incense rose to God, representing “the prayers of the saints,” that is, of members of the Church Militant praying on earth. The cloud of incense created by the angel carries the Church’s prayer aloft to the throne of God, where we hope to be heard. The feast of today brings us the consoling thought that God’s holy angels unite their prayers and adoration with ours, and so with them we pronounce our “Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus!”

The Communion antiphon calls attention to the holy fellowship that we shall enjoy forever with the angels, as a fruit of Holy Mass and Communion: “Bless the Lord, all you the Lord’s angels: praise him and extol his name forever!”

“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen” (Prayer after Mass).

Collect: God, who ordainest the services of angels and men in a wonderful order, be pleased to grant that our life on earth may be guarded by those who stand always ready to serve Thee in heaven. Amen.

(Benedict Baur)



Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)



THE CHILDREN had never been to a funeral before, nor attended a wake, nor had any personal acquaintance with death. Then in November, the month of the dead, someone dear to our neighborhood left this life to go to God.

They had prayed for her through a long illness. Their first concern was: “Did she go right to Heaven?”

Children always give you the point at which to start. A subject may have a dozen approaches, but the best one is by way of their questions.

We would like to have said, flatly, yes, she went right to Heaven. She had suffered much, uniting it to Christ’s suffering. She had lived a life of prayer and sacrifice, had received the last sacraments and the final blessing with its plenary indulgence. Her last few months had been an excruciating trial and she had lain weeks longing for death; accepting suffering, but ready to welcome death. She wanted to die on Saturday because it was Our Lady’s day, and Our Lady granted her wish. It would be easy to say, Yes, she is surely in Heaven. But even when you think so, you can never say that you know. It is God’s secret and no one here knows.

But there is comfort for the living in what we do know: how the Church prepares us for death; how she prays for us after death, and the real possibility that we may “go right to Heaven” if we try very hard. Haven’t we just celebrated the feast of All Saints, the glory of those who did? True, some among them entered by way of Purgatory, but they are there in Heaven nevertheless, and they confirm us in high hope.

Death is a touchy subject,” People who do not know the Church (and some who think they do) accuse her of being “too mournful about death.” Perhaps this is because she is so candid about man and his origin—dust. She knows he will return to dust. She knows that he inherited original sin and is weak, that the devil is clever; and she does not admit the impossibility of going to hell. She knows that Purgatory exists, and hurts, and that man was created for Heaven but may refuse to go there. She admits what everyone must admit: that wherever he is going, there is only one way to go there: to die. Death is a doorway we must go through. How else can the spirit leave the body behind and enter eternity?

For Catholics the idea of death ought not to be mournful. There is natural grief and loneliness for the bereaved families and friends, of course, but God mellows these with time. If death is otherwise mournful as an idea, as something to think about—or avoid thinking about—it is because we look at it from the wrong direction. We should be seeing it as the middle step, not the final step: life, then death, then God. It is God for whom we are created. By way of death, He is where we are bound.

This was the spirit of our neighbor’s death. It accounted for the tranquility of her family’s grief, their hopefulness, their ready resignation. Entering their home where her body was returned until time for the funeral, our children saw death for the first time as they knelt beside her and prayed.

“But, Mother”—this was in a whisper—”you said she might even be in Heaven with God. But she’s not. She’s here asleep.”

You see? You are sure you have made it clear about the body and the soul, and not until such a time do you discover that you haven’t. Not until such a time, either, do you see how truly the Church speaks of us as creatures with souls that will not die.

Our bodies are the least of us. We could not talk about this at the moment, but we did when we got home.

“That wasn’t her, dear. That was just her body. She has really and truly gone to see God and, we hope, to be with Him immediately in Heaven.” How to explain this once and for all and put confusion to rest?

“You close your eyes.” He did. “Now think a thought about yourself.”

He closed his eyes very tightly, and thought, and said, ‘Tm thinking about myself.”

“That is you, dear, that part that can think about itself, know who he is, say to me, ‘I’m thinking about myself.’ That is truly you, the you that will not die. Your body will die one day, and it will be carefully put in the ground, and the people will say, ‘He has gone to see God.’ They will be right. When our bodies finally die, the part of us that is soul and lives forever goes off to see God.”


After this experience with death, we were glad we had read through the prayers for the Sick and Extreme Unction several months before. Their attitude toward death had always been wholesome, even cheerful, and it was a happy discovery to find that the Church in her prayers for the dying is nothing if not persistently cheerful. God was good to let them find this reaffirmed at the home of our neighbor, among her family, at her Mass and burial.

The prayers of the Last Sacraments are most appropriate additions to family prayer for the month of November. In the discussions that follow them, the family will find that it is not difficult to speak in the most practical way of specific customs, attitudes, requests, each in regard to his own death. What has seemed to be morbid and distasteful, almost unmentionable, is brought into the daylight, and we agree that it is only common sense to make arrangements and requests ahead of time for that final journey to the highest of all the “states of grace,” eternal glory.

Never had I read the prayers of Extreme Unction in English before the summer of 1955 (and you know how old I am). That is a lot of years for a Catholic to brush with death every so often and not know what the sacrament for the dying is all about. I did not know that Viaticum, which is the Holy Eucharist administered to the dying, means “provisions for a journey.” I would never have dreamed that a sick call could be such a heartening experience, more so than ever now that much of it is in English.

The first thing a priest on a sick call says, as he enters the house, is:

Peace be unto this home.

And unto all that dwell herein.

He hears the confession of the sick person in private, administers Holy Communion if the patient is able to receive it, then makes this great petition (Father Weller’s translation):

Let us pray. O Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, full of trust we beseech thee that the most holy Body of our Lord, Jesus, thy Son, which our brother (sister) hath now received, may be unto him (her) an eternal remedy both in soul and body. Who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

To postpone calling a priest to administer these sacraments to our seriously sick is hardly Christian solicitude. Yet many do out of ignorance of what this rite implies, imagining that it will “frighten her.” This is a failure to understand not only the wording of the prayers used, but the use of these sacraments. They are not merely forms it is customary to enact over Catholics when they are dying. They are Christ Himself coming to the patient. The Divine Physician is asked to come and heal the body as well as the soul.

The frequent use of these prayers in our families will quickly dispel such misunderstanding, for when their content is examined we see that they contain marvelous petitions for the living as well as the dying, for the entire household where there is illness. Nowhere in them is there the dread sound of cracking doom. Even at the end in the prayers before death, tenderness, charity, holy hope, sweet resignation, powerful faith are recommended to the soul, and the saints and angels are called upon to conduct the soul to the Most High. Here is the beginning prayer.

Let us pray. Along with our lowly coming, Lord Jesus Christ, let there enter into this home unending happiness, divine blessing, untroubled joy, charity which is fruitful, continual health. Drive forth from this place the spirits of evil, let thine angel of peace come hither, and banish all harmful dissension from this house. O Lord, extol thy holy name in our esteem, and bless what we are about to do. Sanctify the coming of thine unworthy servant, for thou art holy, thou art kind, thou art abiding with the Father and the Holy Spirit through all eternity. Amen.

My, we should have these said for us every day. This prayer is especially for the living. But perhaps the next one will be about death. . . .

Let us pray to our Lord, Jesus Christ, and beseech Him to bless with His abundant benediction this home and all who dwell herein. May He appoint over them a good angel as a guardian, and assist them to serve Him, to contemplate the grandeur of His law. May He turn away all powers that would harm them, free them from all anxiety and distress, and keep them in well-being within their home. Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, for all eternity. Amen.

“. . . Free them from all anxiety and distress . . . .” This seems a petition for our times, for those ridden with neuroses and fears.

A passage from the Gospels is read, but not—as you might expect—the story of Lazarus, or Jairus’ daughter, or the widow of Naim, or “what doth it profit a man,” but the magnificent story of the cure of the Centurion’s servant, emphasizing our Lord’s healing power and our need to have faith in it. “Lord, my servant is lying sick in the house, paralyzed, and is grievously afflicted.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and cure him . . . .”

Shortly after this, the anointing prayers (in Latin) from which the sacrament receives its name. Extreme Unction means last (extreme) anointing-with-oil (unction). Last not because death is inevitable, but because it is the last of the anointing sacraments. These are Baptism, when the newly baptized is anointed first on the breast and between the shoulders and later on the crown of the head; Confirmation, when the bishop anoints the candidate’s forehead; and Holy Orders, when the bishop anoints the hands of the newly ordained priests. The oil used for Extreme Unction is the blessed Oil of the Sick, which is also used for the blessing of bells. (The other sacred oils are the oil of Catechumens, used for Baptism and at ordination, and for the blessing of baptismal fonts, baptismal water, altars, altar stones, consecrations of churches, and at the coronation of Catholic kings and queens; and Holy Chrism, an oil scented with balsam and used at Baptism and Confirmation, at the consecration of bishops and churches, and blessing of chalices, patens, baptismal water and church bells.)

If we have faith in the efficacy of holy water, properly used, consider the efficacy of the use of the sacred oils. All things considered—the three sacraments together, the powerful petitions, the use of this great sacramental—it is no wonder people regain their health and doctors ask priests: “What do you do to them?”


Father Krier will be in Los Angeles October 1. From October 8-11 he will be in Spokane, Washington, for the annual Fatima Conference. He will be in Pahrump, Nevada, October 17 and Eureka, October 24.


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