Vol 14 Issue 13 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
March 27, 2021 ~ Saint John Damascene, opn!
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Palm Sunday
3. Saint John Capistrano
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
This week Holy Mother Church enters in the holiest of times, even giving the appellation, Holy Week. Having joined our fastings, prayers, and penances with Christ’s since Ash Wednesday, we will now unite with Him in His Passion and Death. We should not be scandalized that Jesus Christ had to undergo suffering and that we, too, undergo suffering. Suffering is associated with punishment and, in this present life suffering entered in the world through punishment—sin:
To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Gen. 3:16-19)
But deprivation, the giving up of one object for another, has been instituted by God as an expression of religion, of love, even before: And he commanded him, saying: Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death. (Gen. 2:16-17) In other words, if you want a relationship with me, you cannot eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil—you must deprive yourself of that pleasure. It was a choice of the pleasure of the tree of knowledge of good and evil—a momentary pleasure, or the pleasure of heaven—an eternal pleasure. The greatest manifestation of deprivation is seen in the words of Christ: For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. (Matt. 16:25; cf. Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24 and Luke 17:33.) John expresses it in the words: Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Life is the greatest possession man has, and to deprive oneself of life is the greatest expression of love. It could not be any less for Jesus Christ—both for the love He has for His Father as also for mankind. This is not and cannot be in the sense of suicide, but the giving of one’s life in a complete selflessness. Abbot Benedict Baur brings this out in writing about Saint John Capistrano:
Truly, Wisdom [God] had not deserted him but had given him the light to perceive truth, and pursuing it, to walk in newness of life. Except for the solitude and privations of prison, John would never have become what God intended that he should be . . . .
And, explaining it:
There is just one way to realize this purpose: one must, first of all, disengage oneself from everything that is not God; then God can manifest His power in the soul. Before St. John could be liberated from earthly attachments, he had to go down into the darkness and anguish of his dungeon. There, in solitude and suffering, he freed himself from worldly fetters so that the grace and power of God could accomplish miracles in and through him.
Suffering accepted, then, expresses the relation or love one has for another because it expresses one is willing to be deprived of something in order to have what one wants more—in this case the one loved. As we meditate on the sufferings of Christ, or rather the love Christ has for us, may we also then be moved to love Him in return by depriving ourselves of that which offends Him. In so doing we will find ourselves closer to the Cross both in suffering as also in love.
I write this not as some sentimental pious offering, but to convince my readers to experience a living faith which is lacking as long as the experience is of a dead faith—a faith without works, as Saint James describes it (cf. James 2:20); I write it that Holy Week be truly a holy week in which the week was lived holily.
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
An Explanation of Holy Mass
The Mass of the Catechumens
The Collect or Oratio
After the Gloria (or Kyrie), the priest kisses the altar. He kisses the altar to receive the salute of affection from Christ, represented by the altar, then turns to the people to communicate the blessing to them. (MacMahon, 28) He then turns to the people stretching out his hands shoulder wide and says: Dominus vobiscum—The Lord be with you and then folds his hands together. The server answer: Et cum spiritu tuo—And with thy spirit. The priest then turns and walks to the Missal on its stand and turns to the Crucifix or Blessed Sacrament, and with a slight bow and opened hands says: Oremus—Let us pray. He then reads the Collect with extended hands (raised and at shoulder width).
In Rome the Pope, until the Avignon Papacy (1309-1377), went in procession from Church to Church on special feasts and during Lent. These were called the stations, or standing in attention or assignments—a military designation and applied to the soldiers of Christ (the faithful) and which one still employs when a soldier says he is stationed in Okinawa or Berlin or Quantico. The faithful would gather at the designated Stational Church, usually following the Pope and clergy reciting the Litanies and Psalms. Once everyone was gathered (Collectio) the Pope said the applicable prayer, such as on the Thursday of the third week of Lent when the Station is at the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian the prayer is: May the blessed Solemnity of your Saints, Cosmas and Damian, glorify you, O Lord: whereby You have both given them everlasting glory, and to us Your aid in Your ineffable providence. Through our Lord . . . The Collect, or Prayer, places the intention of the Mass by the Church to Almighty God. This prayer asks that the Mass may glorify God Who assists the faithful with His help in the expectation that the faithful present will participate in everlasting glory.
It is considered as a prayer which in comprehensive brevity embodies the most important petitions: a summary of all that we, in consideration of the day’s celebration, especially to seek to obtain from God. In a similar manner the Collect returns in almost every hour of the Divine Office as a concluding prayer summarizing all that precedes. It is thus the peculiar prayer of the day, the prayer in which the Church repeatedly expresses what is nearest to her heart and what she principally desires for her children. (Gihr, 454)
In general, the Collect is designated as Prayer (Oratio) for all Masses since not all Masses were preceded by a procession. It still sums up the intention of the Mass the priest will say, and, as such, should be a prayer the faithful pray to have the same intention as the Church. Before the priest begins the prayer, he kisses the altar (Christ) to show his union with Christ, that is, that he prays in the name of Christ and the relationship that is expressed when Christ said to His Apostles: I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth; but I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you.
(John 15:15) and the kiss is a sign of friendship.
After the celebrant at the conclusion of the Gloria has made the sign of the cross on himself, he immediately, without joining his hands, kisses the altar in the middle, because the altar stone there represents Jesus Christ, the living head and cornerstone of the Church, and there rest the relics of the martyrs. In the kissing of the altar we may distinguish a twofold meaning: first, it is an expression of benevolent love; secondly, a sign of reverence and devotedness. The special meaning of kissing the altar at this part of the Mass is now evident. In a full sense, the altar is a symbol of Christ and the saints united with Him in glory; it represents the triumphant Church in heaven, of which Christ is the head and the elect are His members. Now, since the priest stands at the altar as a mediator between heaven and earth, he therefore first salutes with a kiss the triumphant Church, then by the Dominus vobiscum he salutes the Church militant in words that call down upon the latter salvation and blessing. (Gihr, 455-56)
The Church, through the centuries, has introduced more prayers according to the insertion of Saints and special needs (war, famine, peace, thanksgiving) in the Liturgical Calendar. Because the repetition of prayers detracted from and greatly prolonged the Mass, the Church now limits to one prayer unless the day has other Saints, Feasts or special prayers assigned to the day—then it may be no more than three and, on Sundays, no more than two. The faithful should pray the prayer in union with the Church for it is her intention for the Mass. It is as if the priest had gone out among the people, and inquired of each what particular relief or favor he should ask for him at the hands of God. (MacMahon, 28) The server, for those present, replies Amen. Amen is a Hebrew word that means, so be it, truly, verily. It is an affirmation to what was said as to be in absolute agreement. Christ used this expression frequently to express the absoluteness of His teaching. Here it indicates that the people present desire God to grant what the priest has asked in their name. (ibid.)
Epistle or Reading
Following the prayer or prayers, the priest announces: The Reading from . . . . This begins the instructional portion of the Mass in which the Church generally takes the teachings of the Old Testament writings or New Testament writings, which are the Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline or Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse. The Sunday Proper Readings are always from the New Testament. During Lent the readings during the week days are generally from the Old Testament. But in the early Church the Old Testament was still read until the Gospels and Epistles were written, then they gradually replaced the Old Testament Scriptures. While reading the Epistle the priest rests his hands on the Missal, to remind him of the obligation resting on him, not only to read the law, but also to do what it prescribes, the hands being indicative of labor. (Smyth, 29)
The crown of the supernatural revelation consists in this, that God spoke to us, not only by the prophets and apostles, but also through His only-begotten Son (Heb. chap. 1). The prophets and apostles were, indeed, organs of the Holy Ghost, who announced through them heavenly truths; still they were only human messengers of salvation. Jesus Christ, on the contrary, is a divine person; He is truth itself; He is the true light of the world; all His words, works, and miracles are eminently divine works and actions, full of divine spirit and life, of infinite truth and depth. The Gospels place before our eyes the life of Jesus Christ, the word and example of the eternal Wisdom made flesh; in them appears the God-man Himself, teaching and acting, suffering and triumphing, whereas in the Epistles the Holy Ghost speaks to us, instructs and admonishes us, only by His human messengers and servants. Hence it is usually said that the instruction of the people takes place first in the Epistle, in a preparatory and imperfect manner through the doctrine of the prophets and apostles; then the faithful are more perfectly instructed through the teachings of Christ as contained in the Gospel. The Epistle, therefore, is read before the Gospel because it is subordinate to it, prepares for it, leads to the understanding of it. Both readings harmonize with one another and mutually complete each other; they would express a common thought, or at least kindred ideas. (Gihr, 484-85)
The Epistle is read first because it represents the Law and the Prophets who precede Christ, Who speaks through the Gospel. Previous in the Synagogue, the Torah, or Law, was read first and then the Prophets. This is found in the account of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth:
And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up: and he went into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the sabbath day; and he rose up to read. And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward. And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears. And all gave testimony to him: and they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth, and they said: Is not this the son of Joseph? (Luke 4: 16-22)
Here two customs are brought out. That only one person read the Prophets and that person was chosen by the leaders of the synagogue. Only following the reading of the Prophets, not the Torah, did the congregation indicate someone to comment on the Law and the Prophet read. One may notice that the Epistle on Sunday is always instructing one in the Law, that is, living the Christian life such as the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost:
BRETHREN: These things came to Pass as examples to us, that we should not lust after evil things even as they lusted. And do not become idolaters, even as some of them were, as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Neither let us commit fornication, even as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. Neither murmur, as some of them murmured, and perished at the hands of the destroyer. . . . (1 Cor. 10:6-13)
The server responds for the people, Thanks be to God. Why? Because one remembers the words of Christ: It is written, that Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4; cf. Deut. 8:3) One remembers the words of Saint Paul: All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Col. 3:17) The grace bestowed to be able to hear the unerring truth impels one in humility to give thanks—however repugnant to pride.
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
MATTHEW xxi. 1-9
At that time when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto Mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he shall let them go.
Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke. And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: and the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
I. ORIGEN, PRIEST AND CONFESSOR
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Matthew xxi. 1-9. And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem. Mark in this same place writes as follows: And when they were drawing near to Jerusalem and to Bethania on the mount of Olives, and continues: And immediately he will let him come hither. Luke relates this also in the words: When he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania, continuing until: You shall say thus unto him, because the Lord hath need of his service.
It is worth while in such places in the Gospel to apply our minds to the meaning and purpose of the writers, and to consider why, after they had related the wonders and portents of the Saviour’s actions, they should also record these things which reveal nothing of this sort. It is understandable that the Evangelists should commemorate the restoration of sight to the blind man, the healing of the paralytic, the raising of the dead, the cleansing of the lepers, in order that those who would read their writings might be strengthened in Jesus.
But what purpose had they in mind in this place in which it is recounted, that after Jesus had with His Disciples drawn near to Jerusalem, and had come to Bethphage close to Mount Olivet, He sent two Disciples with the command that they should loose and bring to Him an ass that was tied, together with its colt; He Who frequently made long journeys by foot, and did not refuse to complete His sojourn here on foot, as when He had come to Jerusalem, and passing through Samaria arrived at the well, and being weary from the road had sat down by it? And what did Jesus also mean when He bade them loose the ass that was tied, and the colt with her, telling them to answer any man who asked them: Why do you loose him? to answer that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go?
That He the Lord should have need of an ass and a colt which before that were tied reveals to us something that is worthy of His greatness. Zacharias the prophet, the son of Barachias, increases the difficulty of the question, having uttered a prophecy concerning these things, which is worthy of our consideration, in which remarkable things are said, in these words: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O Daughter of Jerusalem. BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour; he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Should you wish to learn from the prophet why the Daughter of Sion ought to rejoice because of the things foretold her, hear him further: And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken; and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth. Thou also by the blood of thy testament hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water. Return to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, I will render thee double as I declare today (Zach. ix. 9; x. 12).
But lest our discourse to you run on too long, we shall leave to him who so wishes to compare this prophecy with the Gospel narrative, and inquire into whatever is contained there. But we have noticed that the prophecy has not been set out by Matthew, or by John, in the same words. For it is not the same thing to say: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Jerusalem, as to say: Tell ye the daughter of Sion. And after the words: Behold thy king will come to thee, and before the word meek, the words which the prophet adds, The just and Saviour, have been left out by Matthew. Again in place of, riding upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke, the prophet has, riding upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass, or as some have it, a young colt. John in this place has, sitting on an ass’s colt, instead of, sitting upon an ass. But he however, implying that here there is need of inquiry, comments: These things his disciples did not know at first.
But should anyone ask how must the Daughter of Sion greatly rejoice, and why should the Daughter of Jerusalem shout for joy, as the prophet has proclaimed, because He was coming riding upon an ass, and a young colt, when a little later He would weep seeing Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and all that follows (Lk. xiii. 14). See if you can tell whether Sion whom he calls His Daughter and whom he bids rejoice, and Jerusalem, also His Daughter, and whom he commands to cry out for joy, are not those heavenly beings of whom it is written in the epistle to the Hebrews: But you are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels (Heb. xii. 22): or to that which is referred to in the epistle to the Galatians: But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother? (Gal. iv. 26).
And see also if these actions of the Saviour are not symbolical: loosing by means of the Apostles the beasts of burden from their bonds; that is, those who from this people or from the Gentiles who would confess His faith. For the ancient Synagogue, the ass, was bound and held fast by its sins; and bound also with it was the colt, namely, the people lately newborn from among the Gentiles, and as the Saviour draws near, and the way opens to the heavenly Jerusalem, He commands that both shall be freed by the teaching of His Disciples, to whom He had given the Holy Spirit in these words: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained (Jn. xx. 22, 23).
And ever since the Disciples, whom He made fit ministers of the New Testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit (II Cor. iii. 6), loosening the ass that was tied, and the colt, bring them to Jesus, Who wills to use as his carriage those who by means of His true and genuine Disciples have been freed from their ancient bonds. And it truly becomes the Son of God, since He is human, to have need of this kind of the ass that was tied, and of the colt that was tied with it; for His need was that, seated upon them He might rather refresh from toil and restore those upon whom He sat, than that they should give rest to Him.
But someone will ask, how the things we have said agree with what follows, And forthwith he will let them go; or as Mark tells it: And immediately he will let him come hither? The question answers itself, if you reflect upon the letting go of the two beasts according to Matthew or of the colt according to Mark. It is manifest that there was no other Lord of the beasts which were bound save our One Lord Jesus, by whom are all things (I Cor. viii. 6), whom none would oppose from among those who said: What do you loosing the colt? or other like question. For that no one would oppose them the Saviour had foretold when He said: And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them; or as Luke says: And if any man shall ask you: Why do you loose him? you shall say thus unto him: Because the Lord hath need of his service.
You will also ask if the Saviour after He had mounted upon the beasts, or upon the one, and had come to Jerusalem, had any special mission to be accomplished which needed to be done there; as according to what is actually passed over in silence, yet indicated though not openly, there was something which the ass and the colt were to perform. The order of the Beatitudes, as they are set down by Matthew, suggested this to me, in which, after the sentence: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, this was written: Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Observe here that to the first among the Blessed belongs the Kingdom of heaven, then those who shall possess the land; not as though they are to be on it for all time: for after they have been comforted and because they have hungered and thirsted after justice, and been filled with it, and have received mercy, and seen God, and have been called Children of God, they shall be restored again to the Kingdom of heaven.
And if an ass and a colt, upon which the Saviour rode, chance to be put before us, take care not to be scandalized at the comparison between those who have sustained Christ, and dumb beasts of burden. Something of this kind perhaps the prophet had in mind when he said that he was a beast, not literally, but before God, or before His Anointed, in these words: I am become as a beast before thee (Ps. lxxii. 23). For before the Majesty of God, and before His Word, not alone are we as beasts, but they also who are wiser and more intelligent than we are. Compared with the power of mind of Our Shepherd we are His sheep; for the mind of even the wisest of men compared with the wisdom which is in the Word is remoter from it than the mind of an ass or a colt or of a sheep is from that of a man.
And such are the ass and the colt which, carrying Jesus, go up to Jerusalem. But after they have come there they are no longer a beast of burden and its colt but now, transformed and enriched, made sharers of the divinity of the Word and of His sublime doctrine, and changed by the Lord, they may, for the glory of God, be returned to the place whence they were loosed; receiving this as a reward for carrying Him, that they are sent back to their former place but not to their former service. For being freed from their bonds, and honoured by carrying Christ, Our Lord Jesus Christ would not send them back again to bondage, and to baser tasks than that which they fulfilled when they had borne on their backs the Son of God.
And because of this mystery, and because of the events which are recorded with it, it is but fitting that the Daughter of Sion should greatly rejoice, and increase the fruit of joy, which is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. v. 22), and that the Daughter of Jerusalem should shout for joy. For her king has come to her, the just and Saviour, not simply saving, but saving with justice and judgement, and preparing for salvation those who were to obtain it.
St. John of Capistrano, Confessor
1. St. John, born June 24, 1386, was destined to become a famous Franciscan, the wonder of the early fifteenth century, a powerful preacher, a hero of the Faith, a courageous leader in battle against the Turks. Upon his father’s early death, John took up the study of law in Perugia and was later appointed by King Ladislaus to act as judge in that city. When Perugia rebelled against the king, John tried to appease the populace but was thrown into prison. He naturally hoped that the King would ransom him, but Ladislaus evidently had other worries. In the darkness and misery of his prison cell, John received a great grace: he found God.
Finally released, he entered the Franciscan Order, at the age of twenty-nine. His teacher and ideal was St. Bernardine of Siena, fiery preacher and promoter of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. In 1417, after pronouncing his vows, John began his remarkable career as itinerant preacher, wonderworker, peacemaker, organizer of charitable works such as the founding of hospitals, counselor of popes. During his active years, nearly forty of them, he worked first in Italy and then, after 1451, in Austria, Bohemia, and Germany. When, in 1453, the Byzantine kingdom was overthrown by the Turks, and the Moslems were threatening Hungary and the entire West, the zealous Franciscan undertook to organize a crusade against these enemies of the Christian religion. Cross in hand he placed himself at the head of the troops and gained the important victory of Belgrade, July, 1456. A few months later, worn out by his many and strenuous labors, he died, on October 23. He was canonized in 1690.
2. “The Lord guided his faithful servant straight to his goal . . . . When the innocent man [Joseph in Egypt] was sold for a slave, wisdom did not desert him, did not leave him in the hands of his persecutors, but went down with him into his dungeon” (Lesson). All this was fulfilled in the case of John of Capistrano. As a young lawyer he enjoyed the honor and respect of his fellow-men, and he might have spent his life in peace and comfort. He was about to be married when the rebellion in Perugia landed him in prison. When the King failed to ransom him, he fell into despair and tried to escape from his tower by means of a rope made of bed coverings and clothing. Returned to prison, this time a real dungeon, he received only bread and water.
Little by little John came to the conclusion that worldly hopes and desires are idle dreams, and that earthly possessions and pleasures are nothing. It was amply clear that princes and great men might play him false but only God would see him through. He realized that his existence must have a higher goal; that a mightier king was calling him to His service. Thus it happened that the chains binding him to the world and sense pleasures fell off before his jailor removed the iron chains that had hung so heavy upon him. Truly, Wisdom [God] had not deserted him but had given him the light to perceive truth, and pursuing it, to walk in newness of life. Except for the solitude and privations of prison, John would never have become what God intended that he should be.
“At this time, Jesus called the twelve apostles to Him, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases, sending them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” (Gospel). St. John was a roving preacher, who had learned from his master and confidant, St. Bernardine of Siena, three things: fervent love and ardent zeal for the Holy Name of Jesus, childlike love and devotion toward the Mother of God, and the finest technique of preaching. Thus equipped he entered upon the work assigned to him by Providence. He announced the word of God to great multitudes of men, both Christian and heathen. His very external appearance was a sermon. There seemed to be nothing left of him but skin and bones; but when he spoke his face lighted up and his words penetrated hearts with such force that, on one occasion, no less than 12,000 persons returned to the sacraments. Wherever he went, people left their work unfinished and flocked to hear him. In some instances the loud weeping and the emotional tension of his hearers compelled him to interrupt his sermon. In Milan he once attracted more than 100,000 to the city gate for his sermon. He laid his hands on the sick, or simply touched them with the head-covering of St. Bernardine, which he always carried with him, and they were instantly cured. In Austria the crowd met him with cross and banner and sang jubilantly: “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” His success was particularly notable in Vienna, where he preached to vast throngs in the open air. In Moravia he brought back 11,000 lapsed Catholics in one year; God always supplied startling miracles to accompany the Saint’s discourses.
In 1453 God gave him another assignment: he was to defend the honor of the Cross of Christ and of the West against the Turks. In obedience to the wish of the pope, he preached a crusade, cross in hand, throughout Germany. A motley throng took up his challenge, but it was in no sense an army. John taught his volunteers to observe the signals he made with his cross. He himself was always there where need and danger threatened—now in the camp, now in the stronghold of Belgrade. In spite of his seventy years he hurried through the ranks, sometimes on foot and again on horseback, exhibiting a youthful spirit in the turmoil of battle, encouraging and cheering up the fighters. When General Hunyadi lost courage and gave up hope, the priest-hero on the highest point of the city waved his banner, confident of victory and shouting incessantly the battle cry, “Jesus.” Finally the Turks took to flight and thus forfeited their camp with all its supplies and ammunition, on July 21, 1456. “He cried out to the sovereign Ruler of all things: from God, the great and holy, he won audience” (Offertory).
3. “Who but the Lord is my protector . . . has brought me deliverance?” (Tract). In a time of dire stress God gave His Church a great teacher in the person of a lowly, humble Franciscan, a hero in the broad marketplace of life as well as on the bloody field of battle. Should not a study of the life of St. John bolster our courage in the battles which Holy Church has to undertake in our times?
There is just one way to realize this purpose: one must, first of all, disengage oneself from everything that is not God; then God can manifest His power in the soul. Before St. John could be liberated from earthly attachments, he had to go down into the darkness and anguish of his dungeon. There, in solitude and suffering, he freed himself from worldly fetters so that the grace and power of God could accomplish miracles in and through him.
Collect: O God, who through blessed John didst make Thy faithful triumph over the enemies of the Cross by virtue of the most holy Name of Jesus, grant that when by his intercession we have defeated the wiles of our spiritual enemies, we may be counted worthy to receive at Thy hand a crown of righteousness. Amen.
PLAIN TALKS ON MARRIAGE
FULGENCE MEYER , O.F.M.
Sins against Holy Marriage
“For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? But as the Lord hath distributed to every one . . . . so let him walk” (Cor., 7, 16).
I HAVE been speaking of the rights and privileges of marriage. Now devolves upon me the disagreeable duty of pointing out the sins that are done against holy matrimony. I want to repeat what I emphasized at the beginning of this lecture, that whatever I am going to say is not to make you feel miserable, depressed, discouraged, or cheap, as the common expression is: but it will aim only at your instruction, encouragement, betterment and salvation. And right here I want to say, that I shall be able to mention no sin, however and how often done, for which there is not an immediate and complete remedy at hand in the sacrament of holy penance, provided the perpetrator sincerely repents of the sin, and is minded never to repeat it again.
The Violation of Nature
There are married people who commit the solitary sin, also called masturbation, pollution or self-abuse. They contracted this sin possibly before marriage and continue the practice of it after marriage. This is a mortal sin, for married people as well as for the unmarried; for marriage gives no right to abuse nature. In a way this sin is greater in married people for the reason that the use of marriage serves them as a virtuous outlet for concupiscence, and thus renders the solitary sin in them more heinous.
“Defraud Not One Another”
Married people sin by refusing the other party the marriage right or duty, when a reasonable request or demand is made for it. In itself this refusal is a grievous sin, because a serious right of another is being denied, without sufficient cause, as we are supposing. If there is more of a mere suggestion or hint than a real demand in the request that is made for the marriage act, and the party has no mind to assert or urge his or her right to it, and is quite satisfied to take a negative answer, the declension of the request is not a sin. But if the party is in earnest in making the request or demand, and there is no solid reason for noncompliance, it is a mortal sin to refuse.
Perhaps women are more guilty of this sin than men, as a rule. Nature accounts for this. Men are by nature more passionate than women. Their sexual life is more eager for expression. Then, too, they no doubt ordinarily derive greater pleasure and more satisfaction from the marriage act than women. For some women this act is not only not pleasurable but positively painful and decidedly repellent. This may not be normal, but it is a fact. When they arrive at the age of forty quite a number of married women, who derived considerable pleasure from the act in their younger years, seem naturally to be weaned from it so as to lose all interest in, and desire for it. They prefer to do without it and forget about it entirely for life; not that it causes them positive pain, but it simply lacks appeal or attraction for them. Their desire is to live with their husband as sister and brother, and to eschew all connubial relations for the rest of their life. The most common cause why women are more apt than men to shrink from the marriage act is, because the act is likely in the way of generation to have consequences that mean more to the woman, and tax her immensely more than man. These and other reasons of an emotional and temperamental nature account for the fact that women are more likely than men to be guilty of the sin of marital refusal.
For Better or for Worse
But a good woman always reflects, that she took her husband not only for better, but also for worse; not only for pleasure, but also for pain. St. Paul told the first Christian couples: “Let the husband render the debt to his wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband. And in like manner the husband also hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud not one another, except, perhaps, by consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency. But I speak this by indulgence, not. by commandment” (1 Cor., 7, 3 sqq.).
In nothing are husband and wife mutually so dependent on one another as in procuring the legitimate satisfaction of their sexual needs. Wherever the reciprocal sexual enjoyment of one another is justly, lovingly and virtuously arranged, by mutual understanding, sympathetic considerateness, and sensible moderation, the first love of married life is not only maintained, but continually fomented and increased. And this love, nursed in this manner, renders the endurance of the greatest ordeals and the severest trials of marriage easy and sweet. By periodically reawakening the sexual appetite and the mutual desire for each other in married people nature provides them with an unfailing source of reciprocal dependence on, attachment to, and a virtuous relish of one another. This is nature’s own plan. To disturb or interfere with it through selfishness or other mean motives is pure folly, and is sure to invite conjugal displeasure, coldness, estrangement and bitterness.
“Debt” and “Tribulations”
The Apostle calls the marriage act a “debt”, implying that it would at times be a real and painful burden, as the payment of a debt frequently is; and yet it must be paid, if possible; similarly the marriage duty must be rendered at the desire of the other party, even at a sacrifice. Many a married woman on Judgment Day will be assigned her place among the adulteresses to her everlasting confusion and chagrin, not because she committed adultery herself, but because by refusing him his marriage rights she indirectly caused her husband to look elsewhere for his sexual gratification, and she thus became an accomplice of his sin. The husband, of course, is never justified in having recourse to an adulterous connection, even when he is refused his sacred rights at home; but the refusing wife will be about as guilty as he is himself, for having practically driven him to sin. The same is true regarding her guilt in the sin of self-abuse, to which the husband may resort in the case under consideration. Before she marries, a woman should well ponder on the words of St. Paul: “If a virgin marry, she . . . shall have tribulation of the flesh” (1 Cor., 7, 28). After marriage her obligation is, in spite of these tribulations, which are often severe, to pay her debt to her husband.
The Golden Rule
In every phase of married life, but particularly in this feature of it, both parties should always bear in mind the words of the Apostle: “Bear ye one another’s burdens: and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal., 6, 2). In other words, true sympathy, by which one can make every allowance for the other’s feelings, penchants, weaknesses and needs, and imagine himself or herself in the condition of the other, and is inclined to treat the other as he or she would like to be treated in the same condition, will inspire the proper conduct on all occasions. The woman on her part will remember that man is by nature more passionate than she is, and she will be glad to yield to him for his, pleasure, even though she suffer but pain. And the man on his part will bear in mind, that woman is sexually different from man, and often feels revulsion where he experiences desire, and he will generously, magnanimously and unselfishly restrain his own appetite as much as possible in favor of his wife’s comfort and well-being. Here especially he often has a chance to display true love in its highest form: he will deny himself what he craves most to please the one he loves most on earth.
Selfishness Does Not Invite Sacrifice
In many instances the husband is the cause of his wife’s reluctance to perform the marriage duty because of his selfish or even brutal manner. He evinces no tenderness, affection, devotion or love for his wife, but only looks for the gratification of his sensuous passion. This attitude revolts a woman of a delicate temperament and fine sensibilities. She feels that she is entitled to more consideration than merely to serve as an object of animal passion. She wants to be on a higher plane in the esteem of her husband, and inspire in him nobler sentiments than merely those of the horse and the mule, as the Bible puts it. Where the better and finer feelings, and their prudent and tactful demonstration are not lacking in a man for his wife, the woman will seldom be unwilling to yield to him in marriage.
Of course it happens, too, at times, that a man is guilty of the refusal of the marriage duty towards his wife; if not directly—for from delicacy the woman may shrink from making a formal request—yet indirectly; for although he knows that his wife is desirous of enjoying her marriage rights, he yet treats her coldly and ignores her and her desires, from a feeling of spite or revenge, or from a certain coldness, moodiness or what not. At any rate he falls seriously short of his wedding contract with her, since he does not place his body at her disposal as he ought, and he commits a mortal sin, and is inferentially a partner to whatever sins of adultery or self-abuse she may resort to in consequence.
Here it may be observed that a long, wilfull and unjustifiable absence from one another may involve the same grievous sins for the guilty party as a positive refusal of the marriage debt.
The Editor of the Alaska Watchman wrote the following which I consider worthwhile reading:
Ideas have consequences.
Just as a sculpture physically expresses an idea in the artist’s mind, politics are the outward embodiment of an internal worldview.
Much of the cultural conflict we see today stems from fundamental philosophical disagreements about the very nature of humankind and the sort of universe we inhabit. Our churches, schools and wider communities are shaped by how we answer these questions, as are the ways we live, work, recreate and treat our neighbors.
Unfortunately, we spend far more energy fighting over the shape of the sculptures with little time to thoughtfully debate the merits of the basic ideas that gave rise to them.
The fact is that our culture no longer upholds a belief in the Natural Moral Law. Many have never even encountered the idea that there are moral truths embedded in the very fabric of the universe—applicable to all regardless of race, creed, sex or any other identifier.
In this age of protests, rallies and marches—all of which are sometimes necessary—we must intentionally take time [to] discuss and debate the merits of our ideas. This is done most easily in our homes, churches and among close friends. It’s best done over a cup of coffee or a frothy pint.
Father Krier will be in Mexico April 5-9. He will be in Pahrump (Our Lady of the Snows) April 15 and in Eureka (Saint Joseph) April 22.
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