Catholic Tradition News Letter B12: Holy Eucharist, Laetare Sunday, St Nicholas of Flue

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Vol 13 Issue 12 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
March 21, 2020 ~ Saint Benedict, opn!

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Laetare Sunday
3.      Saint Nicholas of Flue
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices
Dear Reader:

In continuing the topic of kneeling while praying, one should see from the quotes from the Old Testament that the Jews certainly did kneel when they prayed, but they also stood when they prayed. This is still seen when one considers the Liturgical Prayers of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries: Standing in chanting the Psalms, singing praises and hymns; kneeling during the Litanies and in supplication. There are times when a Catholic kneels and there are times when a Catholic stands—but Catholics generally kneel when they pray privately. Eusebius (+339), in his work, History of the Church, relates concerning Saint James the Apostle and relative of Jesus Christ: He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. (II, 23, 6) That his knees were calloused from kneeling is included in his life read in the Breviary by the priest on May 11.

Christ warned the disciples: And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matt. 6:5) The Fathers of the Church speak of kneeling while praying. Saint Ambrose writes, The knee is made flexible by which the offence of the Lord is mitigated, wrath appeased, grace called forth (Ambrose, Hexaemeron, VI, ix). Saint Augustine writes, Daily I rise up to Church, daily I bend the knee, daily I seek the Lord, and have nothing good: this man sought not the Lord, and he has died in the midst of all these good things! (Narrations on the Psalms, Psalm 33, 13.) Bending the knee and prayer seem synonymous such that in the liturgy, particularly in Vigil Masses, Good Friday and the Ember Masses, one hears the words, Let us prayLet us bend the knee, and then the command, Stand, after a moment of prayer (OremusFlectamus genuaLevate.)

In this spirit, the custom of the Catholics is to kneel in prayers expressing in adoration, petition and contrition and to stand when praising God, which is observed in the Solemn High Mass: Kneeling during the Confiteor, standing during the Gloria, kneeling during the Consecration and receiving Holy Communion. The Conciliar Church may reference the Faithful receiving Communion standing in the first centuries, but Holy Mother Church has had the faithful kneeling as a sign of faith that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ and that we adore it before receiving, something those who do not believe refuse to do.

Jews refused to kneel ever since Christians (Catholics) adopted it as standard in praying—just as they refused to acknowledge all the books in the Septuagint as Old Testament Scripture. Protestants don’t kneel in their services in joining the Jews opposition to Christianity. Protestants refuse to see they reject their own claims to Christianity in so doing, only justify it by stating it expresses the worship of idols and bread—referencing the Saints, Mary and the Holy Eucharist. These points are interesting since the Conciliar Church, in rejecting kneelers, kneeling and receiving the communion on the tongue have adopted all the external practices the Protestants and Jews have embraced to show outwardly their contempt for Catholic belief in the divinity of Christ and in the real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. All reject the dispositions of spirit the Sacred Scriptures extol in the act of praying and all express their separation from Catholicism.

Catholics should kneel when they pray their private devotions if they are able. The Church, unless performing a liturgical act, always has the priest kneeling, for example, the prayers after Mass. When at Mass the faithful kneel during the prayers at the foot of the Altar until the Epistle, when they sit listening to or reading the lesson(s) of the day. At the Sanctus they should kneel until the end of Mass except if they are receiving Holy Communion (and at the Pater Noster during High Mass and where it is customary). The blessing is always to be received kneeling, reminiscent of the Hebrew root of blessing. May Catholics express their humble gratitude in this gesture expressive of acknowledging the relationship between God and man.

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

Despite the miracles of deliverance from Pharaoh, in the desert the Israelites complained when there was no food, no water, no meat and that it was always the same food, water and meat. Pointing to the errors of their ancestors, Jesus is asking them to not do the same, but to look to the Promise. Not to seek earthly things, but heavenly things. Interpreting the Old Testament in the sense of establishing an earthly dominion was the farthest thing God had in mind, and it is shown in the faith of Abraham and in the Promise that from Abraham would come the Christ, which God sealed as absolute and which has been accomplished in Jesus, the Son of God. They should seek salvation through Him. Once they accept Him for Whom He is, they will know that He can do all things. Saint Thomas paraphrases the passage: He says, amen, amen, I say to you, that although you seem to be devout, you seek me not because you have seen miracles, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. As if to say: you seek me, not for the sake of the spirit, but for the sake of the flesh, because you hope for more food. (op. cit. 6, 3, 893) Continuing on this theme, Thomas expands with these comments:

He adds the source of his authority to give us this food when he says, for God the Father has sealed him. As if to say: the Son of man will give us this food because he surpasses all the sons of men by his unique and preeminent fullness of grace. Thus he says, him, i.e., on the Son of man, God the Father has sealed, i.e., he has significantly distinguished him from others: God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows (Ps 44:8).

Hilary explains it this way. God sealed, i.e., impressed with a seal. For when a seal is impressed on wax, the wax retains the entire figure of the seal, just as the Son has received the entire figure of the Father. Now the Son receives from the Father in two ways. One of these ways is eternal, and sealed does not refer to this way, because when something is sealed the nature receiving the seal is not the same as the nature impressing the seal. Rather, these words should be understood as referring to the mystery of the incarnation, because God the Father has impressed his Word on human nature; this Word who is the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance (Heb 1:3).

Chrysostom explains it this way: God the Father has sealed, i.e., God the Father specifically chose Christ to give eternal life to the world: I have come that they may have life (John 10:10). For when someone is chosen to perform some great task, he is said to be sealed for that task: after this, the Lord appointed seventy other disciples (Luke 10:1). Or, it could be said that God the Father has sealed, i.e., Christ was made known by the Father, by his voice at Christ’s baptism, and by his works, as we saw in the fifth chapter. (ibid. 6, 3, 898)

Instead of humbling themselves, Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Psalms 94:8; cf. Hebr. 3:8ff.), they remain as their ancestors: They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? (John 6:28). Patiently, Christ repeats, in different words, the same: this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent (6:29). In speaking to both Nicodemus (John 3) and with the Samaritan woman (John 4) Christ requires the same faith in Himself, to Nicodemus the first requiring a rebirth (as opposed to circumcision) and accepting the Suffering Messias; and to the woman a rejection of sin and faith in the Promise that comes from the Jews (Christ is a descendant of Juda). In both, Jesus points to a spiritual realm that must be served as opposed to an earthly realm and the necessity of rejecting the idea that the Christ was going to establish an earthly kingdom. Not a physical birth nor physical water, but a spiritual birth (baptism) and spiritual water (grace). Here, in Capharnaum, Jesus will require also faith in Him who will give spiritual food, the Holy Eucharist, His Flesh and Blood, that will not nourish one physically, but spiritually. The first step is obtaining this spiritual Bread is to believe He is the Promised Christ. Their rejection of belief in Him as the Christ becomes obvious, for having witnessed the preceding miracles they now say: What sign do you show, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? (ibid. 6:30) They judge themselves by continuing: Our fathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written: he gave them bread from heaven to eat. (ibid. 6:31) They therefore joined themselves to their ancestors, yet claiming Moses did more than Jesus because their ancestors were fed daily. As the Angelic Doctor writes (6, 3, 905):

According to Augustine, however, our Lord had said that he would give them food that would endure to eternal life. Thus, he seemed to put himself above Moses. The Jews, on the other hand, considered Moses greater than Christ; so they said: we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know from where he comes (John 9:29). Accordingly, they required Christ to accomplish greater things than Moses; and so they recall what Moses did, saying: our fathers ate manna in the desert. As if to say: what you say about yourself is greater than what Moses did, for you are promising a food that does not perish, while the manna that Moses gave became wormy if saved for the next day. Therefore, if we are to believe you, do something greater than Moses did. Although you have fed five thousand men once with five barley loaves, this is not greater than what Moses did, for he fed all the people with manna from heaven for forty years, and in the desert too: he gave them the bread of heaven (Ps 77:24).

And he had commanded the clouds from above, and had opened the doors of heaven. And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them the bread of heaven. Man ate the bread of angels: he sent them provisions in abundance. (Ps. 77:23-25)

Now there is heaven and heaven—the Scriptural Hebrew word שָׁמַ֥יִם (šā·mā·yim), the Scriptural Greek word οὐρανοῦ (ouranos) and the Latin Scriptural word caeli all refer to the physical (visible) heavens (sky) and spiritual (invisible) heavens (where God dwells). Jesus is referring to the spiritual and therefore where God dwells. Keeping to the spiritual, and that Jesus is pointing to Himself, He responds: Then Jesus said to them: amen, amen I say to you: Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the true bread is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:32-33) Thomas (ibid. 6, 4, 907-908) remarks:

Concerning the first, we should note that the Jews had mentioned two things to Christ concerning the bodily food which had been given to their ancestors: the one who gave this food, Moses, and the place, that is, from heaven. Accordingly, when our Lord tells them about the origin of spiritual food, he does not mention these two, for he says that there is another who gives this food and another place. He says: amen, amen, I say to you: Moses did not give you bread from heaven. There is another who gives to you, that is, my Father; and he gives, not, just bodily bread, but the true bread from heaven.

But was it not true bread that their ancestors had in the desert?

I answer that if you understand true as contrasted with false, then they had true bread, for the miracle of the manna was a true miracle. But if true is contrasted with symbolic, then that bread was not true, but was a symbol of spiritual bread, that is, of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom that manna signified, as the Apostle says: all ate the same spiritual food (1 Cor 10:3).

Whereas Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman at the well believed in the spiritual kingdom Jesus announced, they were able to accept His words. The people now listening could not accept the spiritual kingdom and interpreted the words of Christ in an earthly fashion, physical bread that would let them live forever in this world. They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread. (John 6:34) They expressed a desire to receive and Jesus offers to give them the Bread from Heaven. Christ does so with an explanation of what must accompany the reception of the Bread from Heaven:

Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.

But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not. All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out. Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day. And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day. (John 6:35-40)

The Angelic Doctor gives the following explanation:

According to Augustine, it is the same thing to say, whoever comes, as to say, whoever believes: since it is the same to come to Christ and to believe in him, for we do not come to God with bodily steps, but with those of the mind, the first of which is faith. To eat and to drink are also the same: for each signifies that eternal fullness where there is no want: blessed are they who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they will be filled (Matt 5:6); so that food which sustains and that drink which refreshes are one and the same. (op. cit. 6, 4, 915)

And he continues (ibid. 916):

. . . Christ had to explain these things. For someone could say: we asked for bread; but you did not answer, that I will give it to you, or I will not. Rather, you say, I am the bread of life; and so your answer does not seem to be appropriate. But our Lord shows that it is a good answer, saying, but I have said to you, that you also have seen me, and you do not believe. This is the same as a person having bread right in front of him without his knowing it, and then being told: look! The bread is right before you. And so Christ says: but I have said to you, (I am the bread of life) that you also have seen me, and you do not believe, i.e., you want bread, and it is right before you; and yet you do not take it because you do not believe. In saying this he is censuring them for their unbelief: they have both seen and hated me and my Father (John 15:24).

Just as Moses could not convince the Israelites to faith in the one true God, the God who visibly made manifest His presence by miracles, the God who freed them from Egyptian captivity, the God who promised to Abraham the Land of the Canaanites a land flowing with milk and honey which they saw in front of them, but rather murmured against Moses—of which the Israelites were condemned to die in the desert with the exception only of those who did believe (Josue, Caleb), so Jesus is telling His listeners that they, too, must have faith in the Promise to their father, Abraham, that God had sent the Christ into the world, whom they are seeing, or they will wander in the desert of this world and die eternally.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


JOHN vi. 1-15

At that time, Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him: two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.

And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now these men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore, when he knew they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountains himself alone.


V. 10. Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down etc.

ALCUIN: We say the men literally lay down; reclining in the manner of the ancients: There was much grass in the place.

THEOPHYLACTUS: That is, green grass. For it was the paschal time, which took place in the first month of the Spring. There follows: The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. Only the men were counted by the Evangelist, as was the custom of the Law. For Moses numbered the people from the age of twenty upwards, no mention being made of women (Num. i): implying that everyone who was twenty years old, and fit to bear arms, is worthy and honourable before God. Then follows:

V. 11. And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks etc.

CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 41 as above: Why was it He did not pray when He was about to heal the paralytic, and when raising the dead, or when calming the sea, but prays here, giving thanks? It was to teach us that those who are about to eat should give thanks to God. But elsewhere, especially in lesser matters, to teach us that it was not because of need He did pray. For had He had need to pray, then much more would He have done so in greater matters. Since He works by His own authority, it is evident that He here prays accommodating Himself to us. And also since a great multitude was assembled, it was necessary to convince them that His Coming was in accord with the Will of the Father. So, when He wrought a miracle in private He did not pray; but when in the presence of many persons He prayed, lest they believe He was contrary to God.

HILARY, De Trin. III, 6: Five loaves are accordingly placed before the multitude, and broken in pieces; the new increase flowing imperceptibly from the hands breaking the fragments; the bread from which they are broken not growing less, while the portions broken off continue to fill the hand that is breaking them. Neither sense nor sight can follow the progress of the wondrous operation. That is now which was not; that is seen which is not comprehended; what alone remains is to believe that God can do all things.

AUGUSTINE, Tr. 24 in John: For from the same source from which He multiplies the fields from a few grains, He has, in His own hands, multiplied five loaves. For the power was in the hands of Christ; the five loaves were as seeds: not indeed cast into the earth, but multiplied by Him Who made the earth.

CHRYSOSTOM: See how great is the difference between Master and servant. For the prophets, receiving power as it were by measure, wrought their wonders accordingly. Christ, holding all power in His hands, brings forth in overflowing abundance. Then follows:

VV. 12, 13: And when they were filled, he said to his disciples . . .

This was no vain display, but lest the people think that what had taken place was an illusion. For this reason also He wrought the miracle from means found at hand. But why did He give the fragments to the Disciples, and not to the people, to bring away with them? Because He especially desired to instruct those who were to be Teachers of the whole world. And I am astonished, not alone at the great quantity of bread He made, but at the precise quantity that remained: that He caused that which remained over to be neither more nor less but what He willed, namely, twelve baskets, which is the number of the Apostles.

THEOPHYLACTUS: From the miracle we learn that we are not to be mean-spirited in helping need. BEDE: The multitude were astonished when they saw this sign; for they had not yet come to know that He was God; and so the Evangelist adds:

V. 14. Now these men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done . . .

Because they were unspiritual men, and understood things in an earthly manner, when they saw the wonder Jesus had wrought they said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. ALCUIN: Not yet filled with faith they speak of the Lord as the Prophet, since they knew not yet to call Him God. But they had already gained much from the miracle, they who distinguishing Him from other men now began to call Him the Prophet; for they knew that the prophets, among this people, were wont to work wonders. Neither did they err calling Him prophet, since the Lord had called Himself a prophet, saying: It cannot be that a prophet perish outside Jerusalem (Lk. xiii. 3 3 ).

AUGUSTINE, Tr. 24 in John: As Christ is an Angel, and the Lord of the Angels, so also is He a Prophet, and the Lord of the prophets. For in this that while present amongst us He announced tidings, He is an Angel; and in that He foretold things to come, He is a prophet; for this, that the Word was made Flesh, He is Lord both of the Angels and of the prophets: for without the Word of God there was no prophet.

CHRYSOSTOM: From this that they say, that is to come into the world, it is apparent that they expected some pre-eminent prophet; and so what is here said: This is of a truth the prophet (which has in the Greek the definite article) is said to show that He is outstanding among all the prophets.

AUGUSTINE, as above: But we must here consider what is said: for since God is not of such substance as the eye can see, and the miracles by which He rules the world, and has care of every creature in it, are unnoticed by reason of their repetition, He reserved to Himself certain things which He would do in due time in a manner outside the course and order of nature, so that they would wonder and be astonished at seeing not great but unusual things, who are unmoved by things daily seen. For the government of the world is a greater miracle than feeding five thousand men from five loaves; yet at the former no one wonders, the latter astonishes all men: not as a greater wonder, but as a rarer. Yet it is not enough to consider this only in the miracles of Christ; for the Lord is on His Mountain, the Word of God is on high; not now in lowliness, nor lightly to be passed over.

ALCUIN: The troubled world is mystically indicated by the word sea. As soon as Christ draws near to the sea of our mortality in His birth, walks on it in dying, crosses over it by rising from the dead, the multitudes of the faithful, gathered from either people, follow him by believing Him, and imitating His example.

BEDE: Then did the Lord ascend the mountain, when He ascended into heaven; symbolized by the mountain. ALCUIN: That He went into the higher regions together with His Disciples, leaving the multitude below, indicates to us, that the lesser precepts are to be given to the simple, the higher to the more perfect. That He fed them at the approach of the Pasch signifies, that whosoever desires to be nourished by the Bread of the Divine Word, and by the Body and Blood of the Lord, should make a spiritual Pasch; that is, pass over from the vices to the virtues. The eyes of the Lord are truly spiritual gifts, which He mercifully bestows on His Elect, whenever He turns His eye upon them: that is, when He bestows on us the rewards of filial piety.

AUGUSTINE, Book 83 Quest. 61: The five barley loaves signify the Old Law; either because the Law was given to the not yet spiritually minded, but still carnally minded Jews; that is, given over to the five senses of the body (the crowd also numbered five thousand men), or, because the Law itself was given through Moses. For Moses wrote the Five Books. And that the loaves were made from barley truly signifies the Law, which was so given that the vital food of the soul might be concealed under corporeal mysteries. For the inner fruit of the barley is close held within a strong husk. Or, this people was not yet detached from carnal desiring, which like the barley husk clung fast to the soul.

BEDE: Barley is the nourishment of beasts of burden, and the food of slaves; and the Old Law was given to slaves and to beasts of burden. AUGUSTINE, as above: to signify the two types of persons by whom this people were ruled: the kingly, namely, and the sacerdotal; both of which types prefigure Our Lord, for He fulfilled both. ALCUIN: Or the two fishes signify the sayings or writings of the Prophets and Psalmsists; and while the quinary number relates to the five senses of the body, the thousand relates to perfection. They therefore who seek to rule perfectly over their five senses are called men (viri), from that strength which effeminate softness does not corrupt, living chastely and soberly, and meriting to be refreshed by the sweetness of heavenly wisdom.

AUGUSTINE, Tr. 24 In John: The boy who had this food was perhaps the Jewish people, who, with a boy’s understanding, bore these things, and did not partake of them. For those things which they carried, being sealed, burdened them; but opened, nourished them.

BEDE: Well did He say: What are these among so many? For the Old Law availed little until He took it into His hands; that is, fulfilled it in deed, and at length taught them how it must be spiritually understood: for the Law of itself brought no one to perfection. AUGUSTINE, as above: By breaking, the loaves were multiplied. For the Five Books of Moses were made into many books, when they were expounded by as it were breaking them up and examining them.

AUGUSTINE, Bk. 83, Q. 61: The Lord by as it were breaking and opening what was hard and fast closed in the Law filled His Disciples, when after His Resurrection He opened the Scriptures to their understanding.

AUGUSTINE, Tr. 24 in John: But because the ignorance of the people was in respect of the Law, this testing by the Lord revealed the ignorance of the Disciple. They reclined upon grass, because they had only a carnal discernment, and found contentment only in the things of the flesh; and all flesh is grass (Is. x. 46). But they are filled with the Bread of the Lord who fulfill in work what they have heard with their ears.

AUGUSTINE, as above: What are the fragments but that which the people could not eat? What remains to us except that the more hidden things of the understanding, which the multitude cannot absorb, shall be entrusted to those who are capable of receiving them, and able, as the Apostles were, to teach them to others? For this were twelve baskets filled.

ALCUIN: Servile tasks are fulfilled with baskets. Baskets therefore are the Apostles, and their imitators, who though they appear contemptible in this present life, are yet filled interiorly with the riches of the spiritual mysteries. The Apostles are said to have been baskets, because by means of the Apostles the faith of the Holy Trinity was to be preached in the four quarters of the world. That He willed not to make new loaves, but increased those brought to Hirn, signifies that He did not reject the ancient Scriptures, but that opening them out He now made them clear.  



St. Nicholas of Flue, Confessor,

1. On May 15, 1947, Pope Pius XII solemnly canonized Blessed Brother Klaus, who for centuries had been honored in Switzerland as the peacemaker and father of that country. Nicholas was born on March 21, 1417, of simple Swiss farmers, Henry of Flue and his wife Henna. He grew up with his brothers and sisters in the austere circumstances of a pious Christian home of that time. He was an industrious lad who willingly worked in the house and in the field and was obedient to his parents in every way. He was gracious and kind and liked to help his brothers and sisters with the tasks around the home. The good example of his namesakes, Nicholas of Myra and Nicholas of Tolentino, he kept clearly in mind, and already in his early years he began to imitate some of their austere practices. He preferred prayer to anything else. In an amiable way he made it a point to avoid conversation whenever possible, so that he might find silent solitude.

Complying with the wish of his parents, he married Dorothea Wyssling, a girl from nearby Sachseln, in 1444. Ten children were born to them. As husband and father he never ceased to be a man of prayer. Patriot that he was, he served his canton in several local wars, and he won the confidence of his commander so completely that the latter promoted him to the rank of captain. On his return from the war his fellow citizens elected him magistrate and a member of the cantonal council. On one occasion the council adopted a decision which offended Nicholas’ sense of justice and, characteristically, he resigned his public offices. More and more he desired to leave everything to live for God alone. Finally, he revealed his desire to his wife. She recognized that God was calling her husband and consented to the separation. On October 16, 1467, Nicholas, now fifty years of age, took leave of his wife and children. Barefooted and bareheaded he made his way northward toward a distant land. However, near Basel he suddenly resolved to stay in Switzerland, turned back, and settled down near his own home. Here, in his hillside cell, he lived a solitary and blessed life for twenty years.

All kinds of people came to seek his counsel and help-the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the devout and the worldly-and Nicholas received all graciously. All his leisure time he devoted to prayer. Every Sunday and feastday the hermit was present for divine services at Sachseln and received Holy Communion. Throughout the twenty years of his solitary life he needed no earthly food, but found his entire sustenance in the Eucharist. He died on March 21, 1487, in the presence of his wife and children. He was declared blessed by Pope Clement IX in 1669, and in 1947 Pope Pius XII canonized him. His feast is celebrated in Switzerland on September 25.

2. “How distant would my journey be, how long I would remain there, out in the wilderness” (Introit; d. Ps. 54: 8). This was the deep longing that Nicholas had even as a boy. It drew him toward God and away from the innocent but aimless conversation and amusements around him. Even after he had become head of a family, he frequently hastened down into the lone valley of the Melcha, near his home, there to pray. For, at the age of sixteen he had had a vision here, in which he saw a chapel with a cell adjoining it, and he had realized even then that he was being called by God to a life of higher perfection. The oftener he retired to this spot and prayed, the more clearly did God reveal to him his future vocation. “Cast your every care on the Lord and surrender yourself entirely to Him.” Now he took the great step. His family was provided for; the education of his children lay in good hands; everything was set in order. Dorothea recognized in the resolution of her husband the call and will of God. She had the faith to consent and to make the great sacrifice. “My confidence in your prayers,” she told Nicholas, “gives me the hope that God will unite us again in heaven, where there will be no more separation.” Thus, with a good conscience he could go into solitude, and with St. Peter say: “Behold, we have left everything and followed Thee.” This was an heroic sacrifice offered according to God’s will. “Every man that has forsaken home . . . wife . . . or children for my name’s sake, shall receive his reward a hundredfold and obtain everlasting life (Gospel). Nicholas had no sooner entered upon his solitary life than one night, upon awakening, he saw himself surrounded by a heavenly brilliance. A severe pain was ranging throughout his body. From this moment on he felt no further need of food or drink. For twenty years he lived without any bodily nourishment. Holy Communion was his only food; it marvelously satisfied him and gave him ample strength. Indeed, this was the promised hundredfold for his soul and body.

Moreover, the hermit exercised a fruitful apostolate. Hundreds and thousands came to Nicholas with their cares and needs, doubts and questions. Soon it was the common practice to stop at the hermitage to seek the counsel and prayers of this holy recluse whenever one was making a pilgrimage to Maria Einsiedeln. That the cantons in central Switzerland in later times remained steadfast in spite of the invasion of heresies, and to this day have faithfully kept the Catholic faith, is due in good part to the silent apostolate of Hermit Nicholas and the powerful influence he had on all who came to him. Nicholas accomplished a great work in renewing and deepening the Christian life of his people. In the war Switzerland waged against Austria, and in the quarrels between the confederacies, the holy hermit served as peacemaker by his prayer, his sacrifices, and his counsel. Always, at the critical time, he calmed and reconciled excited minds and thus averted further dissensions and wars within Switzerland.

“Blessed Brother Klaus” lies buried in Sachseln, and many pilgrims of Switzerland and from foreign lands visit his tomb. They come uninterruptedly to see the places where the Saint lived, prayed, offered himself to God, and achieved sanctity; to find edification in his holy life; to imitate his example, and to ask his intercession and advice. The entire Church enjoys the hundredfold fruit of Nicholas’ sacrifice, the fruit of his noble consent to the call and will of God, the fruit of his sanctity and union with God.

3. Nicholas, a man of faith, prayer, and sacrifice, was a shining model of the Christian man. His life exemplifies the truth that the genuine greatness of man does not lie in great external accomplishments, in business success, in official positions or wealth, but in a life for God and with God.

Nicholas was a man of concord and peace. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking this or that; it means rightness of heart, finding our peace and our joy in the Holy Spirit” (Epistle; Rom. 14:17). Nicholas was always a generous helper in time of need. In 1468 a ravaging fire broke out in nearby Sarnen. The citizens soon realized that it was impossible to extinguish the conflagration. In desperation they rushed a messenger to the holy man. Nicholas climbed to the summit of a hill overlooking Sarnen and made the sign of the cross over the town. At once the fire decreased in fury and was easily extinguished.

Nicholas can teach us how to pray: “My God and Lord, take everything from me that separates me from You. My God and Lord, give me everything that will hasten my advance to You. My God and Lord, take me from myself and give me to Yourself!”

Collect: O God, Who in a wonderful manner didst nourish St. Nicholas with the Bread of Angels, and adorn him with all heavenly gifts, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his intercession we may merit to receive the body and blood of our Lord worthily here on earth, and to behold it glorious in heaven. Amen.

(Benedict Baur)




Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)



Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, gets its name from the Introit of its Mass:

Rejoice [laetare], O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.

It is as though, hardly able to wait, the Church (the new Jerusalem) burst forth with a premature shout of joy. It is really not a secret, she seems to sing, what is going to happen. Because God has promised it from the beginning. Mankind is going to be redeemed. Baptism will wash away original sin. The flesh of the Son of God is going to be daily bread.

This day rose-colored vestments are permitted, with flowers on the altar and organ music with the choir. You will find in most missals a note about the ancient custom of blessing a rose on this Sunday. This explains the rose vestments. This custom has apparently fallen from use, but according to the St. Andrew Missal, “even nowadays, the Pope sometimes blesses a golden rose (or a branch or bunch of roses) and sends it to a Catholic queen: so Pope Pius XI, in 1923, presented one to Victoria, Queen of Spain, and in 1925, to Elizabeth, Queen of the Belgians.”

So we may use flowers, too, on our previously bared mantelpiece, a rose (one is not too costly) to arrange with a bit of green beside the crucifix, recalling all these other things and also that Mary, the Mystical Rose, bore the Son of God who wins for us our redemption.

Laetare Sunday was also called Mothering Sunday in the long ago in England. It was a custom for all those who lived away from home (such as serving maids in London) to bake a simnel cake and take it home as what we would call a Mother’s Day present. Various recipes call for plums in such a cake, or for orange and lemon peel, giving considerable room to indulge personal taste. (Note. If anyone is going to bake one for me, I would like a chocolate cake with peppermint icing and bitter chocolate melted over the top.)

One other thing must be fetched and put in our house where we will see it and think: a branch of thorn. If you do not live in the country with a woods to walk to where thorn apple grows, or in the suburbs where the yards are shaded by locust trees, or on a plot of ground hemmed in with a barberry thorn hedge, you might still go to the florist or to the potted plant department in the Five-and-Ten and find a thorny cactus. They are tiny, but the thorns are sharp. Even in a small apartment they would make a thoughtful centerpiece for the table where Lenten meals are eaten.

For Him to redeem us was not an easy thing. Jesus hurt.


Father Krier will be in Eureka March 26.


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