Vol 13 Issue 26 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
June 27, 2020 ~ Mother of Perpetual Help
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Saint Irenaeus
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
Since last Sunday was Fathers’ Day many greeted me with Happy Father’s Day, while also many address me as Father, but often people will tell me I should not call myself Father because it is forbidden in the Bible. Besides, many Catholics, too, find themselves confronted by non-Catholics who claim they are forbidden to call Catholic Priests by the title of Father as commanded by Christ. Are they justified? First, let us look at the full passage of St. Matthew, on which they base their condemnation:
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master; and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ. (Matt. 23:1-12).
Now, we may ask, may we call someone father? As Scripture, taken in its entirety, testifies, yes! It would be absurd to understand this passage as forbidding us to call any one father, for Scripture addresses persons as such even by the same Evangelist:
For God said, ‘Honor thy father (אָבִ֖יךָ, τὸν πατέρα) and thy mother’ (Exod. 20:12); and ‘Let him who curses father (אָבִ֛יו, πατέρα) or mother be put to death’ (Exod. 21:17; LXX v.16). But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father (πατρὶ) or mother, Any support thou mightest have had from me is dedicated to God,’ does not have to honor his father (πατέρα) or mother. So you have made void the commandment of God by your tradition (Matt. 15:3-6).
And the other Evangelists also address others, besides God Father, as father:
Jesus said, Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or mother, or father (πατέρα or patera transliterated), or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, who shall not receive now in the present time a hundredfold as much (Mark 10:29-30).
And the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father (πατρὸς). (Luke 1:32).
Even as He spoke to our fathers (πατέρας)—to Abraham and to his posterity forever. (Luke 1:55).
And his father (πατὴρ) and mother were marvelling at the things spoken concerning him (Luke 2:33).
The father (πατρὸς) from whom you are is the devil (John 8:44).
In the Catholic Confraternity Version of the New Testament, we read the following commentary:
Christians are forbidden the use of titles for the mere purpose of ostentation. It would be blameworthy for Christians to give or receive such titles as ‘master’, ‘father’ [here, understood by some, one who is an authority on doctrine], ‘doctor’, without recognizing that one is ‘father in Christ’, that is, in union with and subordinate to our Lord and to the Father.
When Jesus Christ addressed the Apostles at the Last Supper, He said: You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am (John 13:13). He says this to confirm what He said as quoted in Matthew, that respect is enjoined toward those who are superiors: No disciple is above his teacher, nor is the servant above his master (Matt. 10:24). So, Christ continues as recorded by John:
If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them. (John 13:14-17)
Again, Christ admonishes in the Gospel of St. Mark: No one is good but God only (1:19). He did this not to deny He was good, but to affirm He was God and only God is the source of goodness and who alone possesses this attribute in infinite perfection. Yet, all must also be good: A good man out of a good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of an evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (Matt. 12:35) Saint Paul applies this principal when he writes to the Ephesians: For this reason I bend my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth receives its name (Eph. 3:14-15). For Paul, himself writes: I write not these things to confound you; but I admonish you as my dearest children. For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers(πατέρας). For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you. (1 Cor. 4:14-15) Therefore, we may justly hold these passages only imply the usurpation of a title, not the giving of respect to those deserving of these titles.
It may be well to consider that the Pharisees claimed Abraham as their father (John 8:39) from which they held their claim to be the chosen people and therefore the rightful heirs of the kingdom. Jesus’ response shows that their claim is false: If you are the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham . . . If God were your Father, you would surely love me . . . The father from whom you are is the devil (John viii 39, 42, 44). And, in this sense, the command to call no one on earth your father appears to refer back to this claim of the Jews.
Protestants may insist on the absolute interpretation despite calling their own father, father. They may excuse it that they interpret to mean non-biological titles—but still call teachers teachers and masters masters. They may admit it only applies to religious titles, but give their leaders titles also, such as elder, pastor, presbyter, bishop. Here one can see the idea of interpretation ad absurdum—to fit one’s own idea or deny another. But there are plenty of objections to their interpretations of other Biblical passages, such as Paul to Timothy writing in relation to women:
Women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, but as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works. Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. (1 Tim. 2:9-11)
Further, Paul writes to the Corinthians:
Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Cor. 14:34-35)
One need not mention their denial of the Christ literally meaning This is my Body . . . This is my Blood (Cf. Matt. 26:26, 27) Therefore, the hypocrisy that their interpretation is right and the Catholic interpretation is wrong is expressed by a dependency upon subjective application.
Catholics understand that the Church was given the authority to teach through the Apostles and their successors: Going therefore, teach ye all nations . . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matt. 28:19, 20), having previously promised the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you (John 13:26). They, therefore, listen to the Church for how a passage is to be understood and, in humility, are ready to accept her teaching rather than someone’s personal opinion.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
The Institution of the Holy Eucharist
The words, Do this in commemoration of me, support the institution of the priesthood of the New Testament according to the order of Melchisedech. (cf. Ps. 109:4; see Hebrews chapter 7) The Council of Trent teaches:
Since under the former Testament (as the Apostle Paul bears witness) there was no consummation because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, it was necessary (God the Father of mercies ordaining it thus) that another priest according to the order of Melchisedech [Gen. 14:18; Ps. 109:4; Heb. 7:11] arise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who could perfect [Heb. 10:14] all who were to be sanctified, and lead them to perfection. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once to God the Father upon the altar of the Cross by the mediation of death, so that He might accomplish an eternal redemption for them, nevertheless, that His sacerdotal office might not come to an end with His death [Heb. 7:24, 27] at the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1] (as the nature of man demands), whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be completed on the Cross might be represented, and the memory of it remain even to the end of the world [ 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.] and its saving grace be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech” Ps. 109:4; offered to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles (whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament), so that they might partake, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood in these words to make offering: “Do this in commemoration of me, etc.” [ Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught [can. 2]. For, after He had celebrated the ancient feast of the Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed [Exod. 12:1 ff.] in memory of their exodus from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, Himself to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed us and “delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into His kingdom [Col. 1:13 ]. (Session XXII, c. 1; cf. DB 938)
This is defined as a dogma in the canon that follows:
Canon 2. If anyone says that by these words: “Do this for a commemoration of me” [Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:24], Christ did not make the apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests might offer His own body and blood: let him be anathema. (cf. DB 949)
The Passion of Jesus Christ fulfills, then, the offering of Christ’s Body and Blood at the Last Supper. One may say, then, that it continues in every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is offered in fulfillment of that command to do as Christ did at the Last Supper when He
took bread into his holy and worshipful hands, and lifting up his eyes to thee, God, his almighty Father in heaven, and giving thanks to thee, he blessed it, broke it, and gave to his disciple saying: Take, all of you and eat of this, for this is my body. In like manner, when he had supped, taking also this goodly cup into his holy and worshipful hands and again giving thanks to thee he blessed it, and gave it to his disciples saying: Take, all of you, and drink this, for this is the chalice of my blood of the new and everlasting covenant, a mystery of faith. It shall be shed for you and many others so that sins may be forgiven. (Canon of the Mass)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
LUKE V. 1-11
At that time: When the multitude pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon’s, he desired them to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word we will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke.
And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him.
EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA
V. 7. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship.
Unable to speak with astonishment at the haul of fish, he calls them with a sign. Their help is then spoken of. And they came, and filled both the ships.
AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, 4, 9: John is seen to narrate a similar miracle. But it is a far different one, taking place long after, following the Lord’s Resurrection, by the sea of Tiberias (Jn. xxi. 1-11). In this second account not only is the time widely different, but the event is also. For there the net was cast on the right side of the ship, and they caught a definite number, one hundred and fifty-three fishes; also they were great fishes. And the Evangelist was careful to say that though they caught so many, yet the net was not broken: making reference in this way to the former time when, as Luke relates, because of the multitude of the fishes their net broke.
AMBROSE: Mystically, the ship of Peter, according to Matthew, is tossed about by the waves; and according to Luke, is filled with fishes: That you may know that the beginnings of the Church are tempestuous, and know also of her later abundance. This ship which belongs to Peter is not tossed about; but that ship which holds Judas is. Peter is in both; but he who is secure through his own merits is endangered because of others. Let us beware of a traitor, lest through one among us many be threatened by the waves. Where there is little faith there is confusion and distress; where love is perfect there is peace. Lastly, while the others were bidden to cast their nets, only to Peter is it said to, Launch out into the deep.
What is so deep as to know the Son of God? What are the nets of the Apostles which He commands them to let down, if not the forms of words, and as it were certain inflections of speech, and the subtleties of argument, by which they hold those that come to their nets. And aptly is it said that the Apostles use nets in their fishing, since these do not injure but retain the fish they catch. And they bring upwards to heavenly things those who before were tossing about in the depths. And Peter says: Master, we have laboured all night, and have taken nothing. For this is not a task for human eloquence; but the work of a divine vocation. They who before had caught nothing, at the word of the Lord take a great multitude of fishes.
BEDE: The filling of these ships goes on to the end of the world. The fact that when filled they are almost sinking, are, that is, low in the water (for they are not sunk but endangered), the Apostle explains when he says:
In the last days there shall be perilous times, and men shall be lovers of themselves (II Tim. iii. 1). For ships sink when men fall back into the world from which they have been called by faith, and this because of their evil way of life.
V. 8. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees . . .
CYRIL: For mindful of the sins he has committed he is in fear and trembling, and thinks that, stained as he is, he cannot endure the presence of the Pure: for he had learned through the Law to distinguish between what was holy and what was defiled.
GREGORY OF NYSSA: For when He commanded them to lower the nets, the number of fishes taken was as great as the Lord of the sea and land willed. For the Voice of the Word is the Voice of Power, at Whose command light and all other creatures came forth at the beginning of the world. Peter is astonished at this miracle; for we read that: VV. 9, 11. He was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes they had taken. And so were also James and John . . .
AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, 2, 17, 37: Luke does not mention Andrew by name; nevertheless, from the accounts of both Matthew and Mark he is understood to be in the ship. And Jesus said to Simon: fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. AMBROSE: Let you also say:
Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man, so that the Lord may say to you also: Fear not; for the Lord is forgiving, to those who confess their sin. See how good the Lord is, Who gives so much to men that they too have the power of giving life. For from this we have what follows: From henceforth you shall catch men.
BEDE: This relates especially to Peter. For it is to him the Lord explains what this capture of fish signifies: that as he now takes fish by the net, so henceforth shall he catch them by the word. And the whole order of this event shows what takes place daily in the Church, of which Peter is the symbol.
V. 11. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they . . .
CHRYSOSTOM: Consider their faith and obedience. For though they have their own pleasant calling of fishing, as soon as they hear His command they do not hesitate, but, leaving all things, they follow Him. Such is the obedience Christ requires of us. Let us not refuse it; even though something else that is necessary may press upon us.
AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, 2, 17, 37: Matthew and Mark give us a briefer account of this event, and how it took place. Luke relates it more fully. They seem to differ in this: that he states that only to Peter was it said, from henceforth thou shalt catch men, whereas they relate it as being said to both of the brothers (Peter and Andrew, cf. Mt. iv. 19; Mk. i. 17). But it could be that this was first said to Peter, when he was astonished at the great haul of fishes, which Luke describes, and said afterwards to them both, as the other two Evangelists relate.
And we are also to understand by this, that what Luke relates took place first, and that the others were not then yet called by the Lord, and to Peter only was it foretold that he would be a fisher of men; not however that he would not catch fish again. Hence we have ground for believing that they did return to their usual fishing, so that what Matthew and Mark relate might afterwards happen. For then they did not follow Him, leaving the ships drawn up, as if with the intention of returning to them, but they follow Him as though He were calling or commanding them to follow.
But if, according to John, Peter and Andrew followed Him somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Jordan (Jn. i. 37), how do the other Evangelists say that He found them fishing in Galilee, and called them to be disciples? (Mt. iv. 18; Mk. i. 16; Lk. v. 2). How can these accounts be reconciled unless we understand that these two men did not find Him out and speak to Him with a view to attaching themselves permanently to Him, but only so as to know Who He was, and wondering at Him they then return to their own way of life?
AMBROSE: But, mystically, those whom Peter caught by word he denies are his gain, his doing. Depart from me, he says, O Lord. Let you not be afraid to attribute also to the Lord what is yours: for what is His He has given us.
AUGUSTINE, Questions of the Gospel, 2, 2: Or again. Peter speaks in the person of the Church, filled with unspiritual men, Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man. As though the Church, laden with carnal-minded men, and almost submerged by their evil way of life, rejects as it were the rule of spiritual men, in whom especially the life of Christ shines forth. For it is not merely by the word of the tongue that men tell the worthy servants of God to depart from them; but also by the voice of their deeds and evil living do they persuade them to depart from them: so as not to have good men over them. And this they do the more earnestly by honouring them; as Peter signifies their doing honour, falling at the feet of the Lord; but he signifies their conduct by saying: depart from me.
BEDE: The Lord soothes the fears of unspiritual men so that no man need be fearful in his conscience because of his own past guilt; or, confounded at sight of the innocence of others, be discouraged in setting out himself on the road to sanctity.
AUGUSTINE, as above: But the Lord did not depart from them; showing by this that men who are good and spiritual should not wish, when troubled by the evil lives of others, to give up their own tasks in the Church, that they may as it were live more safely and more peacefully. That they, bringing their ships to land, and leaving all things, followed Him, can be a Figure of the end of time, when they who have adhered to Christ will wholly retire from the sea of this world.
28: ST IRENAEUS, BISHOP OF LYONS (c. A.D. 203)
THE writings of St Irenaeus entitle him to a high place amongst the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the Gnostics, they delivered the Catholic faith from the real danger it ran of being leavened by the insidious doctrines of those heretics. Of his parentage nothing is recorded. He was born, probably about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where the memory of the Apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He received what must have been an exceptionally liberal education, for it gave him a thorough knowledge of the text of Holy Scripture and a good general acquaintance with Greek philosophy and literature. Moreover, he had the inestimable privilege of sitting at the feet of men who had known the Apostles or their immediate disciples. Of these the one who influenced him the most was St Polycarp. So profound indeed was the impression made upon him by the holy bishop of Smyrna that throughout his after life, as he told a friend, he could recall every detail of St Polycarp’s appearance, the sound of his voice, and the very words he used when describing his intercourse with the evangelist St John, and others who had seen the Lord, or when he was expounding the doctrine he had learnt from them. St Gregory of Tours asserts that it was St Polycarp who sent Irenaeus as a missionary to Gaul, but there is no evidence to support this statement.
Commercial relations had existed from early times between the ports of Asia Minor and Marseilles, and in the second century of our era Levantine traders were regularly conveying their wares up the Rhone as far as Lyons, which became in consequence the chief mart of western Europe and the most populous city in Gaul. In the train of the Asiatics, many of whom settled in Lyons, came their priests and missionaries who brought the Gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a vigorous local church. To this church of Lyons Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St Pothinus, an oriental like himself; to it he was to remain permanently attached. The high opinion held of him by his brother clergy was evinced in the year 177, when he was dispatched on a somewhat delicate mission to Rome. It was after the outbreak of the terrible persecution, which is dealt with at some length under June 2 in this volume, and already some of the leaders of the church of Lyons were in prison. Their captivity, however, did not prevent them from continuing to take a deep interest in their fellow Christians in Asia Minor. Conscious of the sympathetic hearing to which they were entitled as confessors in imminent peril of death, they sent to Pope St Eleutherius, by the hands of Irenaeus, what is described by Eusebius as “a most religious and most orthodox” letter, in which they appealed to him—in the interest of the peace and unity of the Church—to deal leniently with their Montanist brethren in Phrygia. They commended the bearer of the letter to his notice as a priest “filled with zeal for the testament of Christ”, and as one who was, as his name implied, a lover of peace.
This mission, entailing as it did absence from Lyons, explains how it was that Irenaeus was not called upon to share the martyrdom of St Pothinus and his fellow-sufferers, and does not seem to have witnessed it. How long he remained in Rome we do not know, but when he returned to Lyons it was to occupy its vacant bishopric. By that time the persecution was over and the twenty or more years of his episcopate were years of relative peace. Information about his activities is scanty, but it is clear that in addition to his purely pastoral duties he did much to evangelize the neighbouring lands. He is said to have sent SS. Felix, Fortunatus and Achilleus as missionaries to Valence, and SS. Ferrutius and Ferreolus to Besancon. A small indication of the extent to which he identified himself with his flock is supplied by the fact that he habitually spoke the Celtic language instead of his native Greek. It was the spread of Gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making amongst the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He began by mastering its tenets—no easy matter, since each gnostic master was inclined to introduce variations of his own. Fortunately for Irenaeus he was, Tertullian tells us, “a curious explorer of all kinds of learning”, and he found the work not uncongenial. He then produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of Holy Scripture.
A good example of his method is provided by his treatment of the gnostic doctrine that the visible world has been created, preserved and governed by angelic beings and not by God, who remains unconnected with it, aloof, indifferent, and incapable of activity in the Pleroma (the invisible spiritual world). Irenaeus states the theory, develops it to its logical conclusion, and by an effective reductio ad absurdum proceeds to demonstrate its fallacy. The true Christian doctrine of the close relationship between God and the world He has created Irenaeus sets forth in the following terms: “The Father is above all, and He is the head of Christ, but the Word is through all things and He is Himself the head of the Church, whilst the Spirit is in us all; and His is the living water which the Lord gave to those who believe in Him and love Him and know that there is one Father above all things and through all things and in all things.” Concerned as he is to convert rather than to confound, Irenaeus writes with studied moderation and courtesy, but now and then humorous comments escape him. Referring, for instance, to the attitude of the newly” initiated” he says: “As soon as a man has been won over to their way of salvation he becomes so puffed up with conceit and self-importance that he imagines himself to be no longer in Heaven or on earth, but to have already passed into the Pleroma, and with the majestic air of a cock he goes strutting about-as if he had already embraced his angel.” Irenaeus was firmly convinced that a great part of the attractiveness of Gnosticism lay in the veil of secrecy with which it surrounded itself, and he was determined to “strip the fox”, as he expressed it. The event proved him to have been right. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated into Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing to second-century Gnosticism what appears to have been its death-blow. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
Thirteen or fourteen years after his mission to Pope Eleutherius, Irenaeus again acted as mediator between a pope and a body of Christians in Asia Minor. Because the Quartodecimans refused to keep Easter in accordance with the Western use they had been excommunicated by Victor III, and there was in consequence a real danger of schism. Irenaeus intervened on their behalf. In a singularly beautiful letter addressed to the pope he pleaded with him to raise the ban, pointing out that they were only following their old tradition, and that a difference of opinion on that very point had not prevented Pope Anicetus and St Polycarp from remaining in communion. The outcome of his representations was the restoration of good relations between the two parties and a peace which proved permanent. After the Council of Nicaea in 325, the Quartodecimans voluntarily conformed to the Roman usage without any pressure from the Holy See.
The date of the death of St Irenaeus is not known: it is usually assigned approximately to the year 202. According to a later tradition he suffered martyrdom, but this is highly improbable. The treatise against the gnostics has come down to us, entire in its Latin version; and an Armenian translation of an exposition of apostolic preaching has comparatively lately been discovered. Though the rest of his writings have perished, in these two works alone may be found all the elements of a complete system of Christian theology.
The bodily remains of St Irenaeus, as we learn from Gregory of Tours, were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St John, but what was later known by the name of St Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished. It is remarkable that though the feast of St Irenaeus has long been observed in the East (on August 23), it has been general in the Western church only since 1922. (Butler’s Lives of the Saints)
Boys and Girls!
REV. THOMAS J. HOSTY, M.A., S.T.B.
LETTERS FROM GOD
GOOD MORNING, BOYS AND GIRLS!
I think it’s a lot of fun to get letters, don’t you? It’s always very interesting, too, because you wonder who is writing to you, and what they have to say. If you’ve ever been away from home for any length of time, I know you’ll agree with me that there is nothing like getting a letter from home. I found that out when I started at the seminary. (A seminary is the school where they train the young men who are studying to become priests.) Boy, how I loved to get a letter from home! During the few minutes it took me to read the letter, I felt as though I were home again. Many was the time when I read the same letter three and four times, just to cheer myself up. If you’ve ever been homesick, as I was, the first few weeks away at school, you’ll know how much a letter from home means.
I wonder how many of you realize that you have never been to your real home yet. That sounds queer, doesn’t it? Why, you came up to church this morning from your real home, didn’t you? And you’re going to go back to your real home, right after Mass, and eat a dandy breakfast there!
Oh, no, you’re not! The place where you live with your Mother and Dad, and your sisters and brothers, is not your real home! Who can tell me where their real home is? That’s right! Our true home is in heaven, with God Himself. Some day we shall live there with God, forever!
Our heavenly Father has sent us many letters to remind us of our true home. Who can guess how many letters Almighty God has sent to us? I thought that question might stump you, so I’ll give you the answer—God delivered seventy-two letters to us. Ordinarily, we don’t speak of them as letters; in fact, we use but one word to refer to all those letters put together. I’m sure that you can guess what that one word is, but to make it easy for you, I’ll give you the first letter of that word. That letter is “B.”
Yes, the answer is the Bible. The word Bible itself comes from a Greek word which means a book, but when we speak of the Bible, we mean the Book which contains the seventy two letters that God wrote to His children on earth. He didn’t write all those letters in a few weeks’ time, though. He wrote the first letters about fifteen hundred years before Christ was born, and He wrote the last letter about sixty-three years after Christ had risen from the dead.
Of course, Almighty God didn’t write those letters with His own hand. Instead, He used a number of different men, as His private secretaries. Big businessmen, you know, don’t do the actual writing of the letters to which they sign their names. They dictate the letters to their secretaries, and the secretaries do the actual work of putting the letters down on paper. But the big businessmen are really the authors of their letters, and they are fully responsible for everything to which they sign their name.
Almighty God is the true Author of the letters which we call the Bible. He put the thoughts into the minds of the men whom He chose to write His letters, and He saw to it that they did not make any mistakes in putting His thoughts down on writing material. That is what we mean by the big word “inspiration” – that is what we mean when we say that the men who wrote the various letters contained in the Bible were “inspired” by God.
Let me tell you a little more about the Bible itself. It is divided into two big parts. The first one is called the Old Testament, and the second one is known as the New Testament. I can hardly blame you for not knowing what the word testament means, because it comes directly from a Latin word, testamentum, which means an agreement. But if the last letter in the Bible was written over eighteen hundred and fifty years ago, how come the second part of the Bible is known as the New Testament? Well, the reason is this—the first forty-five letters were written before the birth of our Lord, and they contain the old agreement (or Old Testament), which Almighty God made with the Jewish nation, His chosen people. The last twenty-seven letters were written after our Lord died on the cross, and they contain God’s new agreement (or New Testament) with the members of all the nations in the world.
Practically everything in the letters of the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language; but the letters in the New Testament were all written in Greek, except the Gospel of St. Matthew, which was written in a tongue called Aramaic. Later on, a few hundred years after the last letter was written, a very brilliant man (and a saint, too), by the name of Jerome, translated all the letters of both the Old and the New Testament into Latin. (Translation means to change the words from one language to another.) Most of the copies of the Bible which we have in the English language have been translations of St. Jerome’s Latin Bible.
God’s letters to us are not always easy to understand, even though some of the smartest men who ever lived have tried to explain them to us. There is a good reason for that, too. Some of the things which God speaks about in His letters will not happen until sometime in the future; some of the things which He refers to are connected with His own personal life, and with life in the next world, Naturally, we’ll have to wait until this life is over, before we can appreciate exactly what God meant by His words.
Almighty God knew that it would not always be easy for us to understand His letters. That is why He gave us someone who would help us to figure out what he meant in His letters. If you have difficulty in understanding what something means in a book, you go to your Mother or Father and ask them to tell you what it means. If we have any difficulty in understanding what any part of the Bible means, all we have to do is find out how our holy Mother, the Church, explains it. One of the big reasons why Christ gave us a Church was in order that we might have someone to explain the Bible to us.
I’m not the least bit surprised that He did that, either. When the men who wrote the Constitution of the United States finished their writing, they did not think their work was over. They insisted that a special group of men, called the Supreme Court Justices, who are some of the most brilliant lawyers in the country, be always available to explain any questions about the Constitution.
The founding fathers of our country were very wise in making this arrangement. The history of our country has proved that everyone does not always agree to the same meaning of some of the words and sentences in the Constitution. Yet the Constitution of the United States was written only a little over one hundred and sixty years ago—it was written in the clearest language possible—it was written in the language which we still speak today—and it did not contain any mysterious or prophetic statements. But the Bible was written by many different men (under God’s inspiration), over a period of about sixteen hundred years. It was written originally in a language far different from our own. It contains many statements about things that are mysterious by their very nature. And yet, we are bound, under the most severe penalty imaginable, to follow the teaching of the Bible! Christ, in sending His Apostles to convert the world, said, “Preach the Gospel to every creature . . . he who does not believe, will be condemned!”
Since the Bible is the Word of God, and it is so necessary for us to understand at least a part of it to get to heaven, we would expect Almighty God to give us someone who would explain the Bible to us. Certainly, God is far wiser and far more powerful than the men who wrote our Constitution. God has not failed us. He has given us someone to explain the Bible to us—the Catholic Church. And He did for us what our founding fathers wished they could have done for the Supreme Court of the United States—He made it impossible for the Head of His Church to ever make a mistake in explaining the true meaning of the Bible to all His people.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Catholics don’t respect and love the Bible. How can a real Catholic do anything else, since the Bible is the Word of God Himself? If you don’t read the Bible, as you get older, you’ll be very foolish. How can you think very much of your true home, if you never read the letters which God sent to you about it?
GOOD MORNING, BOYS AND GIRLS!
Do you like to watch Western movies? Do you enjoy seeing pictures on TV about Hopalong Cassidy and other cowboys like him? I thought you did! You remind me of a couple of my nephews who are around your age. My sister has a hard time dragging them away from the TV set, even to eat, when there is a Western movie being shown. They’ve watched so many cowboy pictures that I warned them that they better look out or they’d start looking like horses.
I’m sure all of you know that the men who take care of the thousands and thousands of cows and steers out in the West are known as cowboys. (Come to think of it, I wonder why they aren’t called cowmen? It certainly seems funny to call a man with white hair, like Hopalong Cassidy, a cowboy. Oh, well, perhaps the owners of the ranches insist on referring to them as boys, so that they won’t have to pay them a man’s salary.)
When I was a small boy, one of my favorite games was Cowboys and Indians. I used to have a toy gun (we called them “cap” guns), and I would spend hours in pretending to be a cowboy, riding around on my make-believe black and white pony. We would sneak up on the boys who had to take the part of the Indians (none of us ever wanted that part!), and pretend to shoot them. There was a big vacant lot, which we named the Prairie, where we would gallop our imaginary horses through the tall weeds. That was my idea of what the Wild West actually looked like. All the boys in my gang wanted to be cowboys when they grew up. Why even when we took a ride on the merry-go-round, we pretended we were cowboys. Once a year, my Father and Mother used to take the whole family on an all-day picnic to Lincoln Park. How I always looked forward to that day! Not only because of the picnic itself, but because at Lincoln Park they had real, live ponies, and my Father would always let us go for a few rides on them!
But I’d better get back to the subject of cowboys, before the time for my sermon is over. The main job a cowboy has to perform is to take care of the cows. He sees that they are driven to places where they can get plenty of grass to eat and water to drink. He leads them to a big, wide open space, called the range, where they can wander around and get plenty of exercise. Once a year, all the cows and steers are gathered together, for a special reason. I wonder if any of you young cowpunchers can tell me what they call it out West, when the entire herd is brought to one place?
Yep! They call it a ’roundup. Now who can explain why the cows and steers are assembled for a roundup?
Well, some of you boys and girls must be related to Hopalong Cassidy, or Gene Autry, or Roy Rogers. (In case some of you might suspect it, I want to deny that I am any relation to Trigger, Roy Rogers’ horse!) You certainly are on the beam today. I didn’t think so many of you would know that cows and steers were brought together to be branded.
For the benefit of the young ladies in the first, second, and third grade, let me explain what branding means. Each cow owner has a mark of his own, which he stamps with a hot iron on the hide of his cows and calves and steers. The mark is usually some simple little thing, like an “X’ or a circle or a square or two little bars. That mark is then known as the owner’s brand. In case there is ever any question about who owns a particular cow or steer, the cowboy only has to look at its brand or mark. Every year the herd is gathered together, and the calves that were born during the previous year are stamped with the owner’s brand. If the cowboys find any steers with someone else’s brand on them, these animals are returned to their rightful owner. If a man takes cows or cattle with someone else’s brand on them, he is guilty of stealing. Out West, this is known as cattle rustling, and it is looked down upon and despised by all honest ranch owners.
But what has all this talk about branding got to do with today’s sermon? It has plenty to do with it, because every one of you has been branded, too. Oh, of course, I don’t mean that you have a special mark burned into your body, as the animals have. I mean that a brand has been stamped upon your soul.
Who can tell me when you received that brand or mark upon your soul. No—you didn’t get it when you were born—but you’re close to the answer.
Yes, that’s it! You were branded when you were baptized.
You received a special mark upon your soul, which we call a character. Exactly what does that mark look like? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else on this earth. We won’t have a perfect idea of what that brand looks like until after we die.
How do we know that we received, that mark on our soul, when we were baptized? Because the Church tells us that we did. We don’t have a perfectly clear idea of that brand right now, but we do know that it cannot be destroyed or blotted out.
There are two other times, besides Baptism, when a person’s soul is branded by God. Do you know what they are? Yes, that’s right. The sacrament of Confirmation and the sacrament of Holy Orders also impress an indelible mark upon the soul of the person who receives them. That is one of the chief reasons why each of these sacraments can be received only once. The mark of these three sacraments accomplishes two things—first, it points you out as belonging to Christ in a special way; second, it gives you the power to carryon Christ’s work in the world. The mark of Baptism brands us as citizens in the kingdom of Christ; the seal of Confirmation stamps us as soldiers in the army of Christ; the character of Holy Orders shows that we are officers in the army of Christ.
When all the people who have ever been born into this world are gathered together by Almighty God, for the last roundup (the day of general judgment), we’ll be able to see clearly those who have God’s brand stamped upon their soul and those who do not have this brand.
Boys and girls, all of us have a great contempt for traitors to our country. If a person is proved to be a traitor, he loses his citizenship in this country; he is no longer an American. Please God, none of us who bear the marks of Christ’s sacraments upon our souls will be barred from our true country, heaven, on judgment day!
Mr Eberhard Heller wrote several articles concerning the Incarnation and Jesus Christ being the Son of God with its implications—they were just translated from the German into English. I would recommend going to this site http://www.einsicht-aktuell.de/ to read the articles. We will soon publish them in this Newsletter for the benefit of our readers.
Father Krier will in Albuquerque July 4, Los Angeles July 7 and Pahrump on July 9.
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