Vol 14 Issue 10 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward KrierMarch 6, 2021 ~ Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, opn!
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Third Sunday in Lent
3. Saint Thomas Aquinas
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
I want to continue the Lenten reflection and its spirit started last week, so please bear with me.
If one understands that those of the ancient world, without the grace of faith, had to rely on their natural senses, instincts and desires, one could understand the social fabric that developed: the exaltation of strong drives, the gratification of sensations, and abandonment of reason because limited and unaided reason could not answer the question why human nature reacted as it did. Yes, there were those few who knew that reason was superior to bodily desires and God seems to have enlightened them—as taught by the Fathers of the Church concerning such Philosophers as Aristotle and Plato. But most found the conflicting forces of nature in a reflecting of conflicting forces between gods and goddesses—because, unexplainable and the outcomes not according to what they wanted, but what the gods and goddesses desired—for, to them, the desire (concupiscence) left as suddenly as it came only to return again at some unannounced time. They therefore abandoned themselves, as Saint Paul expresses it, to their passions:
Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them. (Rom. 1, 21-32)
Now one may claim that Saint Paul writes that they knew God. Yes, first, because mankind in the beginning knew God; also, because God gives all sufficient grace to acknowledge (see) Him (cf. John 1:9); finally, because God put in nature the natural law that should direct man to see himself above animals and therefore made for a higher existence and allowing man to come naturally to the existence of God—preparing man for the light of God’s grace to see Him. But the rejection of these means brought man to simply rely on the senses and the appearances of things (phenomenology).
When Christ came into the world He came that as many as received him, He would give them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name—who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (cf. John 1:12, 13).
I will continue next week on this topic.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
The Holy Eucharist is a True Sacrifice
The Sacrifice of the Mass
THE HOLY EUCHARIST AS A SACRIFICE
An Explanation of Holy Mass
Ceremonies of Holy Mass
There are five main colors the Church allows: white, red, green, violet (purple), and black. Besides these, she allows gold to replace white, red and green; she allows silver to replace white; and on Gaudete and Laetare Sunday she allows the Rose vestment to be worn. The colors give a sense of the spirit of the Mass being celebrated as the Church aspires to have the faithful unite with the Holy Sacrifice and the prayers of the Church during the ecclesiastical year. This year starts with Advent and ends with the Last Sunday after Pentecost.
1. White, the first color, is a festive color, the color of light and the symbol of purity and stainlessness. On all feasts of joy the Church will have the priest don this vestment. Therefore, Christmas and Easter (with the Easter Season), the Feasts of Christ and His most holy Mother, and the Saints who are not martyrs and the Angels. One thinks of the Light of the World that comes on Christmas Day, the Star that shines in the sky for the Wisemen on Epiphany, the brightness of Christ rising and the Angels in white on the Resurrection, Mary Immaculate on her feasts, and the glory of the saints reflected in the color of white.
2. Red is the color of love, of the blood shed for love, of the fire of love in the One Given (the Holy Ghost) and the one giving (the martyrs). It is also worn on the feasts associated with the Passion of Christ outside Holy Week (Precious Blood, Holy Cross). The faithful are inspired to be bathed in the Blood of Christ; they want the Love of God, the Holy Ghost, to baptize them with His Sevenfold Gifts; and they want to offer their blood as the martyrs.
3. Green is the color of life, of expectation and hope, just as the sprouting seed gives hope to the gardener that the harvest will be abundant and worth the work. It is not the joy of a festive day, but not the sorrow of a penitential day, being as Pope Innocent III noted a middle color. It is especially appropriate for the Sundays after Pentecost when the Church expects the world to come as she lives her life in the wilderness of the present world. It is appropriate between Christmas, with its festive spirit and Lent with its penitential spirit.
4. Violet, or purple, is the color of penance. Its darkness that is not completely black brings one to sadness—but sadness for sin and therefore penance because there is still some glimmer of light, and therefore hope. It is used for Advent as one meditates on the Fall of the First Parents and the departure of mankind from God in the Old Testament. It is used in the Lenten Season, from Septuagesima Sunday till Holy Saturday as a call to penance for the sins one has committed and which Christ died on the Cross to take away. It is used on the Ember Days (except the octave of Pentecost) to call the Church to penance so God will bless the earth both with a good harvest and laborers for the harvest (priests). It is used on vigils to prepare for the feast in a spirit of penance to obtain greater blessings on the feast to be celebrated. There is only one other feast that calls for violet, and that is the Holy Innocents when it does not fall on Sunday. Here the Church wants her children to do penance for the horrible sin of infanticide (including abortion) as she grieves like the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem.
The Third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent, rose (color rosaceus) is worn as a sign of the nearing of salvation both by the Incarnation (Christmas) and the Redemption (Resurrection). Also, because the Pope used to bless a rose on this day and usually presented it to a Catholic princess. Pope Pius XI presented the rose to Princess Elena of Montenegro in 1937. Pope Pius XII sent the rose to the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg in 1956.
5. Black is the color of mourning, a symbol of death because of the total darkness it exhibits and is used on the occasion of death, be it commemorating that of Christ on the Cross on Good Friday, or that of one of the faithful in a Requiem Mass and funerals.
The priest is now at the foot of the altar steps. Here he genuflects and then ascends to place the chalice on the Altar and open the book to the propers of the Mass to be celebrated.
1. The Chalice, calix, is necessary for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ, taking also this goodly chalice into His holy and venerable hands, as said in the words of consecration, imposes the obligation. The chalice is a wine cup and, as such, gives freedom to what is used as a wine cup but the interior must be plated with gold and should be constructed of gold or silver though it may be made of tin or pewter. The Paten, patena, should be of the same quality as the Chalice with at least the plate gilded with gold. Both should be of good taste in accordance with Christian aesthetics.
The chalice and the paten are the two sacred vessels which are necessary for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They symbolize together the new grave in which the disciples laid the body of the Lord. The [former] practice of reserving the sacred host on Holy Thursday in a chalice covered with a pall and overturned paten evidently recalls this symbolism. The chalice alone suggests the Heart of Jesus overflowing with the love of God; it is the heart which overflows, as it were, and sends the blood to every part of the body. The paten (deriving from patere) likewise suggests the Heart of Jesus (cor patens) burning with love for mankind, but also the love of the disciples who surrounded Jesus, or the cross which bore the victim of the Sacrifice. (Stapper, 233-34)
2. The purificator, or white linen towel, is set over the chalice and underneath the paten. This towel is for drying the sacred vessels and the fingers after coming in contact with the Body and Blood of Christ. It is folded in thirds in honor of the Holy Trinity and then in half where the fold has a cross for the two natures in Christ. It is also folded as representative of the linens for the Lord’s burial.
3. The priest’s host rests on the paten. It is larger as it is to be broken—blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples as the words of Consecration hold—and to be seen by the faithful to be adored after pronouncing the words of Consecration for the host.
4. The Pall, palla calicis, is a small square linen cloth stiffened so as to cover the paten before the offertory and the chalice after the offertory. It symbolizes the stone covering the tomb of Christ. It actually has the practical purpose of keeping dust, insects and flies out of the Chalice once the wine is poured in.
5. The Chalice Veil is to express the sacredness of the chalice and paten and, as the Holy of holies was veiled, so, too, is the chalice and paten. As Mass is not always said in front of the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle, the Holy of holies, the veiled chalice and paten gave this impression.
6. The Burse, bursa—a purse for the corporal, is two pieces of cardboard sewn together on three sides with the fourth side open to insert the corporal. The front of the burse, at least, is covered with cloth of the same color as the vestment worn and sometimes decorated. It is to protect the corporal upon which rests the Body and Blood of Christ.
7. The Corporal is a square piece of pure linen large enough to allow the Chalice and the Host to rest on it along with the ciborium during the celebration of Mass. It is called the corporal because the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) rests on it. It is usually plain and stiff as to allow the priest to gather any particles of the Host. It is folded into thirds and then thirds again in a manner that allows any particles to be inside and once used at Mass, may only be handled by the priest until rinsed by a cleric in major orders.
The priest places the chalice on the Gospel side of the altar, takes the corporal out of the burse, spreads it out in front of the tabernacle and crucifix. He then sets the chalice on the corporal. After, he goes to the epistle side and opens the book to the Propers of the Mass for the day. Returning to the middle, he bows to the Blessed Sacrament or Crucifix (if Blessed Sacrament is not reserved) and descends to the floor in front of the altar where he genuflects to the Blessed Sacrament or bows to the crucifix. If he genuflects, the right knee touches the first step to show his union with the altar. Everything is now ready to begin the great Drama called Mass. But before the priest begins, there may be a few other sacred vessels or articles placed in the sanctuary or on the altar to be used in celebrating Mass.
1. Ciborium, ciboria, or the vessel used to hold the hosts for the communicants. Ciborium is Latin for canopy, or cover; and, the ciborium was first a chalice with a cover. Earlier it was a pyx (wood box), though a pyx now is the small silver or gold gilded container used to take the Blessed Sacrament to the sick. Also, the ciborium is usually covered with a canopy while the Blessed Sacrament is reserved or when carried to the altar (veiled as a sacred vessel). Cibus, or food, in Latin also makes this word, ciborium, appropriate for the vessel holds the food from heaven (cf. Judith 5:15; John 6:32)
2. Thurible (Censer) and boat are used when the altar will be incensed. The thurible has a hot coal burning inside so that when the incense is placed on the coal, it burns and fills the sanctuary with the smoke and odor of the incense. The boat holds the incense, which consists of sweet woods and sweet saps from certain trees. Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight, O Lord (Ps. 140:2). The smoke with its pleasant odor ascends heavenward: And the Lord smelled a sweet savour (Gen. 8, 21)
Latin—the Language of the Liturgy
The priest will now speak in Latin. Latin is the Sacred Language of the Roman Catholic Church. For divine worship directed toward God (Holy Mass) the Church imposes that the liturgical service be conducted in Latin with some Greek and Hebrew words that have always been retained. Above Christ, hanging on the Cross, the writing, as John records, was: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews; this title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. (John 19:19-20) At the time of Christ the common people of Judea and Galilee spoke Aramaic, but the prayers and liturgy were in Hebrew—never changed from when they first received them. When the Apostles evangelized, they set the liturgy in the ancient languages of the people and these liturgies have also not changed: It is not modern Greek or Italian (modern Latin) or neo-Aramaic, but the same words unchanged. It keeps the purity of faith without being subject to corruption through change of meaning. During the first two centuries the liturgical language of the Church at Rome was mainly Greek. By the third century Greek and Latin were used side by side and by the fourth century Latin supplanted Greek altogether. Since most of Western Europe was evangelized from Rome, Latin became the language of the whole Western Church in her Liturgy—never adopting the language of the various peoples she encountered. One can take the words of Laux for defending this:
The advantages of having one liturgical language, and that an unchangeable one, are obvious:
a) The use of the same language throughout the Church promotes the unity and union of its members.
b) The liturgy would have lost much of its sublime and venerable character if, in the course of time, as often as the words of a living language would change their meaning or become obsolete or trivial, the Church would have to substitute new ones. (Compare the language of Chaucer, and even of Shakespeare and Milton, with our present English.)
c) Wherever a Catholic goes, the language of the Church makes him feel at home, whereas non-Catholics are strangers as soon as they leave their own country.
d) If the Mass were said in every country in the vernacular, priests traveling in foreign lands would either have to know many languages or carry their own Missals with them if they wished to say Mass.
e) The Mass being a sacrifice, and not merely a form of prayer or a sermon, it is not necessary to understand all the words said by the priest in order to take part in the service. Even though the Mass were said in the vernacular, most of our churches are so large that the people could hardly understand the words spoken by the priest at the altar.
f) We never hear the faithful complain that the use of the Latin tongue detracts in any way from their devotion.
g) Not only the Roman Catholic Church, but the Russian, Greek, Armenian, Chaldean, and other Eastern Churches celebrate the liturgy in a tongue distinct from the vernacular. In Egypt, for example, the Christians speak Arabic, while the liturgical language is partly Greek, partly Coptic. To this day the Jews use Hebrew in their synagogue service, although it is a dead language. Even the pagan Romans retained in their public religious rites the old Latin words and forms after they had become unintelligible to the majority of the people. (72-73)
Today there are Missals with the Mass in the vernacular for one to follow and understand what the priest is saying. At the time of Father John Laux this was just being introduced and most Catholics attended with nothing in their hand but their Rosary.
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
Luke xi. 14-28
At that time Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb: and when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: But some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub; by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him, and overcome him; he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.
I. ST AMBROSE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR
1. Give thanks, Brethren to the the Divine Mercy Which has brought you safely half-way through season of Lent. For this favour they give praise to God, thankfully and with devotion, who in these days have striven to live in the manner in which they were instructed at the beginning of Lent; that is, those who, coming with eagerness to the Church, have sought with sighs and tears, in daily fasting and almsdeeds, to obtain the forgiveness of their sins.
2. They however who have neglected this duty, that is to say, those who have not fasted daily, or given alms, or those who were indifferent or unmoved in prayer, they have no reason to rejoice, but cause rather, unhappy that they are, for mourning. Yet let them not mourn as if they had no hope; for He Who could give back sight to the man blind from birth (Jn. ix. 1), can likewise change those who now are lukewarm and indifferent into souls fervent and zealous in His service, if with their whole heart they desire to be converted unto Him.
Let such persons therefore, that is, those living in uncleanness of heart, or those who cherish hatred in their hearts against another, or those who take unjustly what belongs to another, or cling inordinately to what is theirs, let such persons acknowledge their own blindness of heart, and let them draw near to the Divine Physician that they may be restored to sight.
3. Would that you might seek the medicine of the soul when you have sinned, as you seek that of the body when you are ill in the flesh. Who now in this so great assembly were he condemned, not to be put to death, but to be deprived of his sight only, would not give all he possessed to escape the danger? And if you so fear the death of the flesh, why do you not fear more the death of the spirit, especially since the pains of death, that is, of the body, are but of an hour, whilst the death of the soul, that is, its punishment and its grieving, has no end? And if you love the eyes of your body, that you soon will lose in death, why do you not love those eyes of the soul by which you may see your Lord and your God for ever?
4. Labour therefore, Beloved Children in the Lord, labour while it is yet day; for as Christ Our Lord says, The night cometh, when no man can work (Jn. ix. 4). Daytime is this present life; night is death, and the time that follows death. If after this life there is no more freedom to work, as The Truth tells us, why then does every man not labour while yet there is time; that is, while he yet lives in this world?
Be fearful, Brethren, of this death, of which the Saviour says: The night cometh, when no man can work. All those who now work evil are without fear of this death, and because of this when they depart from this life they shall encounter everlasting death. Labour while yet ye live, and particularly in these days; fasting from dainty fare, withholding yourselves at all time from evil works. For those that abstain from food, but do not withhold themselves from wickedness, are like to the devil, who while he eats not, yet never ceases from evildoing. And lastly, you must know that what you deny yourself in fasting, you must give to heaven in the poor.
5. Fulfil in work, Brethren, the lesson of this day’s sermon; lest there come upon you the chastisement of the Jews. For they said to the blind man: Be thou his disciple (Jn. ix. 28). What does being a disciple of Christ mean if not to be an imitator of His compassion, and a follower of His truth and humility? But they said this meaning to curse the man. Instead it is a truly great blessing, to which may you also attain, by His grace Who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.
II ST AMBROSE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR
Exposition of the Gospel
Every kingdom divided against itself. shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall.
The cause of this saying was because our Lord was accused of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils; so that He might show that His own kingdom is one and everlasting. And rightly did He also answer Pilate: My kingdom is not of this world (Jn. xviii. 36). And so He tells them that those who do not place their trust in Christ, and who believe that He casts out devils through the power of the prince of the devils, do not belong to His eternal kingdom. And this refers to the Jewish people who, in afflictions of this kind, seek the help of the devil to cast out the devil.
For how can a kingdom remain undivided when its faith is destroyed? For, since the Jewish people is subject to the Law, and Christ also as man was born under the Law, how can the kingdom of the Jews, which derives from the Law, endure when this same people divided the law into parts; when Christ Who was promised under the Law was rejected by the people of the law? So in part the faith of the Jewish people turns against itself, and so turning becomes divided, and by being divided it is brought to nothing. And therefore the kingdom of the Church shall endure for ever; for being one faith, it is one body: For there is One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all (Eph. iv. 5, 6).
How great the foolishness of the impious belief, that though the Son of God had taken flesh to crush the unclean spirits, and take away the armour of the prince of this world, and had also given power to men to destroy the spirits of evil, distributing his spoils in sign of triumph, some should seek the help and protection of the power of the devil; since it is by the Finger of God, or as Matthew says, by the Spirit of God that devils are cast out? (Mt. xii. 28). From this we are to understand that His kingdom is as it were the inseparable Body of the Divinity; since Christ is the right hand of God, and the Spirit, under the figure of a finger, seems to express to us the notion of the Oneness Being of the Divinity.
Since His Body is One, shall His kingdom not seem to be one? For, as you have read, in him dwelleth all the fulness of the divinity corporally (Col. ii. 9). And what you may not deny of the Father you ought not deny of the Spirit. Nor should a certain part appear as the instrument of power, because of this comparison with our members; for there is no division of an indivisible thing, and because of this the use of the term finger is to be referred to the reality of their unity, not to a division of power. For the Right Hand of God also says: I and the Father are one (Jn. x. 30). Yet though divinity is undivided, the person is distinct and separate.
When however the Spirit is called Finger operative power is signified; for the Holy Spirit, equally with the Father and the Son, is the holy Operator of the divine works. For David says: I will behold thy heavens, the work of thy fingers (Ps. viii. 4). And in the thirty-second psalm: And all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth. And Paul says: But all these things one and the same spirit worketh, dividing to everyone according as he will (I Cor. xii. 11). And when He says:
But if I by the finger cast out devils; doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you, saying this He shows that there is a certain royal dominion of the Holy Spirit, which is the Kingdom of God. We in whom the Spirit abides have also within us a royal dwelling. So on a later occasion He says: The kingdom of God is within you (Lk. xvii. 21). We must therefore consider the Holy Spirit as being an equal sharer of the Divinity, and of the Divine Power, and of the Divine Majesty; because the Lord is a Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (II Cor. iii. 17).
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest, and not finding. It cannot be doubted that this was said of the Jewish People, whom in the preceding words the Lord severed from His Kingdom. And from this we are to understand that heretics and schismatics are also severed from the Kingdom of God, and from the Church. And so He makes it clearly evident that every assembly of heretics and schismatics belongs, not to God, but to the unclean spirit. Accordingly, the whole Jewish People is compared to a man from whom, through the Law, an unclean spirit has gone forth.
But because he could find no resting place among the nations and Gentiles, because of their faith in Christ (for Christ is the undoing of the unclean spirits; for He has cooled the fiery darts of the enemy against the hearts of the Gentiles, which before were dry and hard, but which now have begun to be soft from the dew of the Holy Spirit in baptism) he returns to the Jewish People, which had been swept and garnished to a legalistic but superficial cleanness, yet remained ever more stained in its inward soul. For it had not begun either to restrain or to cleanse its fierceness in the sacred stream of baptism. And so not without reason did the unclean spirit return to it; bringing with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; for in this impious purpose he warred against the week of the Law, and the mystery of the eighth, day.
And as the grace of the sevenfold Spirit is multiplied on us, so on them is heaped every violence of the spirits of evil; for totality is often signified by this number; for it was on the seventh day that, having finished the work of creation, God rested (Gen. ii. 2). Because of this we also have: Therefore the barren hath borne many (hepta), and she that had many children is weakened (I King ii. 5).
St. Thomas Aquinas, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
l. Thomas, son of Count Landulf of Aquino, Italy, was born in 1226 or 1227. At the age of five he was placed in the nearby abbey of Monte Cassino as an oblate, and received his early education there. Later he studied at the University of Naples. At seventeen he entered the Dominican Order, against the will of his family. To remove him from molestation by relatives, his superior ordered him to go to Paris. However, he was waylaid by order of his brothers and held in custody for almost two years in the family castle. During this time he not only argued with his mother and sisters regarding his vocation, but he also devoted himself to profound study. By convincing his sisters, he obtained their help to escape. He was lowered in a basket from the tower of the castle and made his way at once to Naples, where he pronounced his vows in 1245. In Paris and Cologne, Albert the Great was his theology professor (1248-1252). Then he entered upon his very fruitful career as a teacher, in Paris, in Rome, and in Naples. Finally, Pope Gregory IX summoned him to participate in the Council of Lyons, but he died on the way, in the Cistercian abbey of Fossanuova, near Naples, March 7, 1274. In 1323 he was canonized; in 1567 the Dominican Pope Pius V declared him a Doctor of the Church; in 1880 Pope Leo XIII named him Patron of all Catholic schools of higher learning.
2. “So my choice was made, and “thereupon discernment was given me; the prayer once uttered, a spirit of wisdom came upon me. This I valued more than kingdom or throne, I thought nothing of all my riches in comparison. . . . I treasured wisdom more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light of day” (Lesson). “What is God?” That was the question the little Thomas kept asking his teachers at Monte Cassino, “Who is God? Tell me what God is.” And the boy soon concluded that teachers and books were not adequate to teach one to know God; there must be a turning toward God Himself, and that, not merely with a desire of the soul: one must turn to Him with simplicity, humility, sincerity, and innocence of heart. This conviction led him to study Scripture and the Fathers. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His spirit was on fire with the longing to be able to defend the Faith, through strictly scientific principles, against the errors of his time. With this in mind, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the principles of human reason and of philosophy, even of pagan philosophy. More than anyone else before him, he placed philosophy in the service of theology and faith.
Now it was possible for him to deal with the truths of the Faith in a precise, scientific manner, such as neither the centuries before him, nor even St. Augustine was able to attain; he could utilize the weapons of reason, and thus silence those who were opposing the Faith with the same reason. His knowledge was a synthesis of the results of ancient and contemporary research. This scholar of the divine was equally familiar with the realm of natural and supernatural science. In both he was without a peer. Better than anyone before him, he knew how to subordinate all profane knowledge to Revelation and to elevate the entire realm of ideas from earth to the last and highest goal: eternal wisdom and love, that is, to God.
“The prayer was uttered, a spirit of wisdom carne upon me” (Lesson). This is true of St. Thomas to such a degree that, today, all theologians and priests of the Catholic Church look to him as their guide and teacher. “Philosophy and theology shall be taught . . . absolutely according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor, which must be faithfully preserved” (Canon 1366 of Church Law). Certainly, God equipped St. Thomas with a fullness of natural and supernatural wisdom so that he could, for all times, act as a safe leader and guide of the Church in her tilts with the great heresies that periodically attack her doctrines and try to undermine them. For each of us, too, he is “the last word,” and we marvel at his intellectual stature. Let us thank God who, by the wondrous learning of St. Thomas, has added luster to the Church and made her fruitful, and continues to do so (cf. Collect). “You are the salt of the earth . . . the light of the world” that, like the sun, enlightens all men and illumines their way to God (d. Gospel).
“The man who keeps them [the commandments of God] and teaches others to keep them will be accounted in the kingdom of heaven as the greatest” (Gospel). It is exactly this in St. Thomas that makes him so truly great and influential: he was not only a sublime philosopher and theologian, but, at the same time, a saint who lived according to his knowledge and his teaching. And this is the man whose vocation his family tried to stifle, even to the extent of giving him a beautiful but seductive woman as companion during his confinement in their castle. The youthful saint quickly expelled this “temptation” with a burning stick from his stove, for, even then, he valued virtue and holiness above all else in life, even above research, knowledge, and understanding.
Thomas wanted to become a perfect religious—one who would not allow studies to interfere with his obligations of prayer. More and more he became a man of prayer; and it was from prayer that he drew light and strength for his pursuit of truth. He once confessed that he had learned more kneeling before his crucifix than from poring over books. His life was essentially a hidden one—a life of silence, of penitential practices, of deep humility, of purity of heart, and of love of God. The consequence was an ever greater and deeper understanding of eternal wisdom. The visible evidence of this interior union of his spirit with divine Wisdom was his unfailing cheerfulness, his charming modesty and helpfulness, his patience and peace under fire of criticism leveled at his person, his teachings or his Order. Truly, he lived in Christ with his mind, his heart, and his whole soul. His world revolved around Jesus on the Cross and Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
“O Sacred Banquet, wherein Christ is received, the memorial of His Passion is celebrated, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Antiphon of Corpus Christi). This ecstatic outburst of St. Thomas may be taken as a sample of the beauty and holy unction to be found in the Mass and Office of Corpus Christi, composed by him at the request of the Holy Father. In this masterpiece of scholarly piety, he gives expression to the faith, love, enthusiasm, and devotion of all times toward the miracle of the Eucharist. When St. Thomas was working on the last part of his sublime Summa Theologica (Summary of Theology), our Lord appeared to him and said: “Thomas, you have written well of Me. What reward do you want?” The Saint answered: “I desire no other recompense but only You, my Lord.” In his last years he penetrated so deeply into divine secrets that all the magnificent works he had written seemed to him to be nothing but chaff. After that he could not write any more and had to leave his most important work, the Summa Theologica, unfinished. On his deathbed at Fossanuova, he declared to some of the monks the meaning of various passages of the Canticle of Canticles. When he had recited the verse, “I have found him whom my soul loves, I shall hold him fast and not let him go,” he breathed his last. Yes, he had found Him and now he beholds Him face to face. “What is God?” He had learned the answer to this question that intrigued his mind as a boy.
3. We must hold in high honor this great saínt whom the Church considers as the ideal teacher and the official herald of her theology. It is her express wish that teachers in seminaries and colleges follow and revere the principles of St. Thomas. “The Lord moved him to speak before the assembled people, filling him with the spirit of wisdom and discernment” (Introit).
“A spirit of wisdom came upon me. This I valued … preferred her to the light of day…hers is a flame that never dies down. Together with her all blessings came to me …” (Lesson).
Filled with heavenly wisdom, St. Thomas, in his treatise on grace, asks: “Are the creation and preservation of the universe a greater miracle than the giving of sanctifying grace to a soul?” His answer: “The conferring of sanctifying grace on a single person is something greater and more precious than all the greatness and beauty of the entire universe put together. The great things in the order of nature, whatever they may be, are nothing compared to grace.” That was St. Thomas’ thought and his life. It is divine wisdom.
Collect: O God, who dost add luster to Thy Church by the wondrous learning of Thy confessor, blessed Thomas, and makest her fruitful through that holy toil of his, we pray Thee enable us to grasp his teaching and perfectly to imitate his practice. Amen.
PLAIN TALKS ON MARRIAGE
FULGENCE MEYER , O.F.M.
The nature of Marriage
Are You Really Married?
You are married. Have you been married according to the laws of the Church? If not, yours is not a lawful marriage, but merely a sinful relation with a person who is not your mate. By elevating marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, Christ gave the Church exclusive charge over the marriage of His followers. As little power as the state or other external agents have over the administration of Holy Communion, for instance, or Holy Orders, so little right have they over the sacrament of matrimony. The Catholic who attempts marriage before a non-Catholic minister is by that very deed excommunicated, or expelled from the Church. From this excommunication the penitent can be absolved only by the bishop or by a priest delegated by the bishop.
In case you have not been legitimately married, and your union is capable of adjustment, have it righted, the sooner the better. Why unnecessarily prolong your estrangement from God, your remorse of conscience, and your great risk of losing eternal salvation? The process will not be so hard and disagreeable as you imagine. You will find your pastor and the bishop considerate, sympathetic and kind. Do not hesitate or delay, therefore, to consult the peace of your mind and the welfare of your immortal soul. “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor., 6, 2). Whatever humiliation or mortification may be demanded of you in the procedure, you ought to endure cheerfully in atonement of the sin you committed by your sinful attempt of marriage, and as the price of a good conscience.
A Sacrament of the Living
You say, however, that you have been married in keeping with the requirements of the Church; you were married, perhaps, with considerable ceremony. Were you in the state of grace when you married? Matrimony is a sacrament of the living, and the recipient must not be conscious of an unforgiven mortal sin. There are those who before marriage, in the period of courtship, sin flagrantly with each other by indulging in, or allowing improprieties, indecent liberties and shocking intimacies. When they go to confession before marriage, they are ashamed or too proud to confess these mortal sins. They wilfully make an invalid confession, receive Holy Communion unworthily, and are married validly, indeed, yet sacrilegiously. No wonder that they do not receive the grace of the sacrament, and that their married life is unhappy in consequence. They started it altogether wrong, even with the curse of God. What are they to do to set matters right?
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
All they need to do is to make a good general confession covering the entire period from their last worthy confession to the present time. This confession is not at all hard for those who have the will to get back to God. The priest will give you what help you need, supposing you are in this plight. And do not believe you are the first one to tell this story to the priest. It is by no means new to him. He has heard it often before, and he will hear it again in the future. Human nature is the same everywhere and at all times. So take heart and make a clean breast of it in the spirit of true and humble contrition. Then, when you receive absolution, you will get not only the graces of holy penance, but also those of matrimony. They have been and are only suspended, waiting for the hindrance of mortal sin to be removed from your soul. No sooner the hindrance is gone, the suspension will cease, and the graces of marriage will flood, strengthen and rejoice your soul.
Father Krier will be in Pahrump (Our Lady of the Snows) March 11 and in Eureka (Saint Joseph) March 16. He will be in Albuquerque (Saint Joseph Cupertino) March 23.
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