Vol 14 Issue 36 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
September 4, 2021 ~ Our Lady on Saturday
1. The Incarnation of the Word of God—Eberhard Heller
2. Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Saint Lawrence Justinian
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
September is the month of the Holy Angels, so it is a good reminder to review our devotion to the Angels, particularly our Guardian Angel. October was traditionally assigned to the Angels but Pope Leo XIII dedicated October to the Holy Rosary. As many continue to place Our Lady of Sorrows still as the devotion for the month of September, the devotion to the Angels is overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. The dedication of the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is recent and with October also recently dedicated to the Rosary of Our Lady, there isn’t a detraction from devotion to our loving Mother Mary to accept September as the month dedicated to the Angels. She is Queen of the Angels (see the Litany of Loretto), who was visited by the Archangel Gabriel in announcing God had chosen her to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate. Her husband, Saint Joseph, was visited by an Angel at least three times in his sleep, if not four. Besides, the Angels appeared at the birth of Jesus and proclaimed it to the Shepherds who told Joseph and Mary of the Angelic announcement (cf. Matthew chapters 1 and 2; Luke Chapters 1 and 2).
The word Angel or Angels is used 326 times in Scripture (Douay-Rheims). Therefore, as an integral part of Catholic Faith, one should have some knowledge of these Spirits of God. Reference is made to them in the Nicene Creed with the phrase: And of all things visible and invisible. Previously the Nicene Creed was recited on the various feasts of the Angels.
The word Angel is Greek, a direct translation from the Hebrew, which means a messenger. In Hebrew messenger does not stand alone when referencing an Angel, but is conjoined with: of the Lord, a messenger of the Lord. In English the word Angel refers only to the pure spirits God created, so there is no additive—though we pray daily: Angel of God. So, even though we use this word, Angel, to define all the pure spirits, they are not all messengers of God, but retain this appellation as custom. Our Guardian Angel, though, may be considered an Angel with the assumption of the common biblical statement: I will send my angel before you (cf. Gen. 24:7, 40; Exod. 23:20, and others).
God created these Pure Spirits or Angels to participate in His happiness by possessing the beatific vision. The number of these Pure Spirits is innumerable. They are, according to Scripture and tradition, divided in nine choirs or ranks: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Powers, Dominations, Principalities, Virtues, Archangels and Angels. Before He allowed them into this blessedness, they had to accept that they would have to serve as guardians of humans. This submission to the Divine Will was met by some of the Angels with a non serviam—I will not serve! Their rebellion was met by the Archangel Michael with: Who is like God? Saint Michael and the Angels remaining loyal to God drove the wicked rebellious Angels from their midst. These fallen Angels we now call devils or demons, from the Greek to the Latin and thence the vulgar meaning accuser and divider. They are envious of humans and seek the fall and separation of humans from God to share their misery and torment. The leader of the devils is Satan, the Adversary in Hebrew translated in the Greek to the devil (diabolos). They are permitted by God to test man’s loyalty to Him—first experienced in the Garden of Eden where man fell into temptation and lost original innocence.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
Penance is a virtue and is a Sacrament. Though there is no Sacrament without penance, one may have the virtue of penance without the Sacrament. Penance, as a virtue, should be a disposition that the Christian possesses in as much as one has one’s own sins to repent as also, within the larger human family and that of the household of faith (cf. Gal. 6:10), that of what mankind has done against the goodness of God, neighbor and oneself.
A grievous offense is only pardonable through the Sacrament of Penance or a perfect Act of Contrition that includes the resolve to receive the Sacrament as soon as possible. Because sins are forgiven by the Sacrament of Penance and the Church commands one to receive this Sacrament at least once each year, it is a Sacrament that is frequently received. But actually, this Sacrament is very little understood, or one would see the graces of the Sacrament working within the penitent. In the Baltimore Catechism one may remember that five lessons were devoted to this Sacrament, more than any other—expressing that it is important one understand this Sacrament, for a Sacrament that must be received rightly or it will prove to be fruitless in the Catholic’s efforts to free oneself from sin and to strive for sanctity.
Generally, the normal adult Catholic has received four Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist and Penance. The first, Baptism, took away Original Sin when one was a just an infant. The Apostle’s Creed has one profess: I believe . . . in the forgiveness of sins. Baptism did just that: forgive sins. But what of sins committed after Baptism? One cannot be baptized again, for the Catholic professes on Sundays in the Nicene Creed: I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Does that mean there is no possibility to have sin forgiven? No, because that would contradict the Apostles’ Creed. The means of forgiving sins committed after Baptism is through another Sacrament, this is the Sacrament of Penance. It is a second plank, it is the restoration of what was lost by one’s personal sin, not the sin of Adam and Eve.
Both the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Penance are the greatest redeeming gifts received from the Passion and Death of Christ, the work of His reconciling humanity with His Eternal Father. Yes, His Presence in the Holy Eucharist is a wonderful gift of His Love for man. But one could not enjoy His Presence without knowing one shared His Love and friendship, that His Father and Our Father (cf. Matt. 6:9; John 20:17) loved us.
The following will be an attempt to set forth the teaching of the Church regarding this Sacrament that is a sign of God’s Divine Mercy while implementing Divine Justice.
What is Penance?
The Church took the Greek word, metanoia, (μετάνοια), used in the original Greek New Testament. It was translated into the Latin poenitentia (Vulgate) which is further translated into the English penance, repentance, penitence and contrition. The Latin word, penitus, an adverb means deep within, interior. To understand the word penance, it is well to see how the word is used in Scripture, both in the Old as in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament the first time one encounters the word, repent, is when God, seeing the wickedness man was propagating throughout the earth Genesis states: It repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, He said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Gen. 6:6-7)
The Hebrew uses way-yin-nā-ḥem (וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם) and ni-ḥam-tî (נִחַ֖מְתִּי) with the root חתם (naham) that means to groan, sigh, regret. The Septuagint uses ἐνεθυμήθη (enethymithi) meaning to ponder, remember, consider and ἐθυμώθην (ethymóthin) meaning angered. The Vulgate uses poenituit and poenitet. Once the wickedness is washed away, one reads: And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and said: I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man: for the imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth: therefore I will no more destroy every living soul as I have done. (Gen. 8:21) This should be kept in mind for future consideration.
In this same vein in Psalm 109, verse 4, one reads: The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. The Hebrew yin·nā·ḥêm is again used with the Septuagint using μεταμεληθήσεται (metamelithísetai) meaning regret. The Vulgate uses poenitebit. One does not find metanoia used in the Septuagint, but the Greek translations of the Hebrew give an understanding of penance by the various words used.
Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel and Joel all explain what is penance and repentance. Isaias tells the people of his time and place:
Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. (Isa. 58:6-10)
Jeremias speaks of putting away sin:
For if you will order well your ways, and your doings: if you will execute judgment between a man and his neighbour, If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, and walk not after strange gods to your own hurt, I will dwell with you in this place: in the land, which I gave to your fathers from the beginning and for evermore. Behold you put your trust in lying words, which shall not profit you: To steal, to murder, to commit adultery, to swear falsely, to offer to Baalim, and to go after strange gods, which you know not. And you have come, and stood before me in this house, in which my name is called upon, and have said: We are delivered, because we have done all these abominations. Is this house then, in which my name hath been called upon, in your eyes become a den of robbers? I, I am he: I have seen it, saith the Lord. (Jer. 7:5-11)
I attended, and hearkened; no man speaketh what is good, there is none that doth penance for his sin, saying: What have I done? They are all turned to their own course, as a horse rushing to the battle. (Jer. 8:6)
Ezechiel describes repentance in the following verses:
Therefore will I judge every man according to his ways, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God. Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit: and why will you die, O house of Israel? For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, return ye and live. (Ezekiel 18:30-32)
The hope that Ezechiel showed above is later again expressed while recording the inspired Word:
Thou therefore, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: Thus you have spoken, saying: Our iniquities, and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them: how then can we live?
Say to them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will you die, O house of Israel? Thou therefore, O son of man, say to the children of thy people: The justice of the just shall not deliver him, in what day soever he shall sin: and the wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness: and the just shall not be able to live in his justice, in what day soever he shall sin. Yea, if I shall say to the just that he shall surely live, and he, trusting in his justice, commit iniquity: all his justices shall be forgotten, and in his iniquity, which he hath committed, in the same shall he die. And if I shall say to the wicked: Thou shalt surely die: and he do penance for his sin, and do judgment and justice, And if that wicked man restore the pledge, and render what he had robbed, and walk in the commandments of life, and do no unjust thing: he shall surely live, and shall not die.
None of his sins, which he hath committed, shall be imputed to him: he hath done judgment and justice, he shall surely live. And the children of thy people have said: The way of the Lord is not equitable: whereas their own way is unjust. For when the just shall depart from his justice, and commit iniquities, he shall die in them. And when the wicked shall depart from his wickedness, and shall do judgments, and justice: he shall live in them. And you say: The way of the Lord is not right, I will judge every one of you according to his ways, O house of Israel. (Ezech. 33:10-20)
Finally, Joel describes penance and repentance in these words that are also read on Ash Wednesday:
Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly,
Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride chamber. Between the porch and the altar the priests the Lord’s ministers shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Why should they say among the nations: Where is their God? (Joel 2:12-17)
In examples of repentance there is first God imposing penance on Adam and Eve and their posterity for the sin they committed:
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)
Cain rejected the penance God imposed on him for the murder of his brother, Abel:
Now, therefore, cursed shalt thou [Cain] be upon the earth, which hath opened her mouth and received the blood of thy brother at thy hand. When thou shalt till it, it shall not yield to thee its fruit: a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be upon the earth. And Cain said to the Lord: My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon. Behold thou dost cast me out this day from the face of the earth, and I shall be hidden from thy face, and I shall be a vagabond and a fugitive on the earth: every one, therefore, that findeth me, shall kill me. (Gen. 4:11-14)
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
LUKE vii. 11-I6
At that time: Jesus went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples and a great multitude. And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a great multitude of the city was with her. Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it stood still. And He said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. And there came a fear upon them all; and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up amongst us: and God hath visited his people.
ST AUGUSTINE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR
The Three Whom Jesus Raised to Life
LUKE vii. 11-15
I. Miracles of the Lord are wrought in bodies and in souls.
The miracles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, move deeply all who hear of them and believe in them; some in one way, some in another. Some look with astonishment upon His corporal miracles, but have no eyes for the greater miracles. Some now look with greater wonder at the miracles wrought in men’s souls, which, they hear were formerly wrought in men’s bodies. The Lord Himself says: For as the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life; so the Son also giveth life to whom he will (Jn. v. 21). This does not mean the Son gives life to some, the Father to others; but that Father and Son give life to the same persons: for the Father does all things through the Son. Let no one therefore who is a Christian doubt, that even now the dead are raised. Every man has eyes to see the dead rise up, as the widow’s son spoken of in the Gospel just read, rose up. But not all can see men who were dead in heart rise up, save those who are themselves risen in heart. It is a far greater miracle to raise to life one who will live for ever, than to raise someone who must die again.
II. The Two Kinds of Death.
The widowed mother rejoiced over the young man restored to life. Mother Church rejoices daily over men restored to life in the spirit. He was dead in his body; they in the soul. His visible death was mourned before all; their invisible death is neither seen nor thought of. He sought them Who had known they were dead. And He alone had known they were dead Who had power to make them live. For unless the Lord had come to raise the dead, the Apostle would not have said: Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise again from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten thee (Eph. v. 14). The words, Rise, thou that steepest, you understand as addressed to one who sleeps. But when you hear, and arise from the dead, understand them of one dead. The visibly dead are often spoken of as sleeping. And certainly to Him Who has power to waken them, they are sleeping. A dead man is to you a dead man; shake him, prod him as you will, he will not waken. But to Christ he lay sleeping to whom He said, Arise; and immediately he arose. No one can so easily waken one who sleeps in his bed, as Christ wakens him from the grave.
III. The Three Dead Restored by Christ. The Miracles of Christ worked for a sign. An appropriate similitude.
We read that the Lord visibly restored three persons to life; thousands invisibly. How many dead He visibly restored, who knows? For all that He did is not written down. John tells us this. But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written. (Jn. xxi, 25). There were then no doubt many others raised to life; but it is not without purpose that three have been commemorated. For our Lord Jesus Christ wished that what He wrought corporally should also be understood spiritually. For He did not work miracles simply as miracles; but so that what He did might appear wondrous to those who saw them, and convey truth to those who would understand them.
Just as the man who sees the letters in a well written manuscript, but does not know how to read, will praise the hand of the writer, admire the beauty of the letters, but what they convey, the meaning of the characters, of this he knows nothing. He praises with his eyes; but his mind understands nothing. Another will both praise the skill of the writer and understand his meaning: that is, one who can not alone see what all can see, but can also read; which he cannot do who has not learned to read. So they who saw the miracles of Christ, and did not understand what they meant or what they as it were said to those who understood them, wondered only that the miracles had happened. Others however both wondered at the miracles, and understood their meaning.
In Christ’s school we must be like these last. For he who says that Christ worked miracles for this only, that they should be nothing but miracles, can say with equal reason, that when Christ looked for figs on the fig tree, He did not know it was not the time for fruit (Mt. xxi). For it was not the season for figs, as the Evangelist tells us. Yet, being hungry, He looked for fruit on the tree. Did Christ not know that which every country person knew? Did the Creator of the tree know less than the minder of the tree? So when the Lord, being hungry, looked for fruit from the tree, He was also intimating that He was seeking something else. And He finds the tree covered only with leaves, and destitute of fruit, and curses it; and at once it withers away and dies (Mt. xxi. 19; Mk. xi. 13).
What had the tree done, not bearing fruit? Was its fruitlessness the fault of the tree? No. But there are people who are fruitless through their own fault. The Jews, knowing the teaching of the Law and not fulfilling it, are a tree covered with leaves, but yielding no fruit. I have said this to make clear to you that the Lord wrought miracles for this reason also, that through them He might also signify something else: that from them we should learn more than that they were wondrous, divine signs.
IV. The Raising of the Three Dead.
Let us see then what it is He wishes us to learn from these three dead He raised to life? He raised to life the dead daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, who besought him much for his daughter who was sick: that He would deliver her from her sickness. And on His way to her, it was announced she was dead, and word was also brought to her father that it would now be useless to trouble the Master further, saying: Thy daughter is dead: why dost thou trouble the master any further? But the Master continued on His way, saying to the father of the girl: Fear not, only believe. He came to the house, and there finds the preparation for her burial now complete. And He says to them: Why do you weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth (Mk. v. 22-43)? She was asleep: asleep to Him Who had power to waken her. And waking her, He gave her back living to her parents.
And He also wakened this young man, the son of a widow, because of whom we are now speaking to Your Charity; as the Lord shall give us to speak. You have heard how he was wakened to life. The Lord was coming towards the city, and just then a dead man was being carried through the gates. Moved by mercy towards the weeping mother, a widow, now bereft of her only son, He did as you heard when the Gospel was being read; saying: Young man, I say to thee, arise. And the young man who had been dead rose up, and began to speak. And the Lord restored him to his mother.
He also wakened Lazarus from the tomb. And on this occasion, since the Disciples knew the sick man, Jesus said: Lazarus our friend sleepeth (for Jesus loved Lazarus). And they thinking this sleep would do him good, answered: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. But Jesus, now speaking more openly, says to them: I tell you, that Lazarus our friend is dead. In each case He spoke the truth; To Me he is sleeping, to you he is dead (Jn. xi. II et seq.).
V. These three dead are figures of three kinds of sins
These three dead stand for three kinds of sinners; whom even now Christ continues to raise from the dead. The daughter of the Ruler of the synagogue was dead within her house. She was not yet carried forth from the privacy of its walls for all to see. There within, she was raised to life, and restored living to her parents. The second dead was not now in his house, neither was he yet buried. Carried forth from his house, he was not yet committed to the earth. He Who raised to life the dead girl who was not yet borne forth, now raises to life the dead man being carried forth; but not yet buried. A third miracle remains: To raise to life one already buried. And this he does in the case of Lazarus.
There are those who have sin within in their hearts; but have not yet sinned in deed. Someone is inwardly shaken by lust. The Lord Himself said: Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mt. v.28). He has not yet drawn near her in body, but already he has consented in his heart. He has within him now one dead, but not yet carried forth. And as happens, as we know, and as men experience each day, should he at some moment hear the word of God, hear as it were the voice of the Lord saying to him: Arise, he will condemn his consent to sin, and his soul will breathe again in saving health and charity. The man dead in his own house rises again; the heart revives within the secrecy of the soul. This resurrection of a dead soul has taken place within the secrecy of the conscience, as within the walls of a house.
Others, after inward consent to evil, proceed to the outward act; as though carrying forth the dead: so that what was hidden in secrecy, now appears for all to see. These who have come forth in outward deed, are these now past hope? Far from it. Did not Jesus say also to the young man: I say to thee, arise? Did He not restore him to his mother? So also he who has sinned in deed shall be restored to life, should he be warned and wakened by the word of truth, and shall rise again at the voice of Christ. He could come forth on the way, but he could not perish for ever.
But they who doing evil, become also involved in evil habit, so that the very habit of evil will not let them see that it is evil; will in turn become defenders of their own evil deeds. They rage when they are rebuked, like the Sodomites long ago, who said to the just man who rebuked them for their most evil inclination: You came here as a stranger, not as a judge (Gen. xix. 9). So dominant among them became the practice of this abominable foulness, that wantonness now became justice; and one who opposed it, more to be censured than one who practised it. Persons like these, pressed down by malignant habit, are as though buried. What am I saying, brethren? They are in fact so buried, that we may say that of them which was said of Lazarus: he now stinketh. The hard power of this habit is like a great stone laid upon the tomb; pressing down upon the soul, not suffering it either to breathe or to rise again.
St. Lawrence Justinian
His good mother sometimes thought this Italian boy was aiming too high, but he always told her that his only desire was to become a saint. When he was nineteen, he felt he should serve God in a special way, so he asked the advice of his uncle, a holy priest of the community of St. George. “Do you have the courage to reject the delights of the world and to live a life of penance?” asked his uncle.
Lawrence was quiet a long time. Then he looked up at a crucifix and said, “You, O Lord, are my hope. In this cross there is comfort and strength.” His mother wanted him to marry, but Lawrence joined the community of St. George and humbly went around his city begging. He would even go stand in front of his own home and ask charity, without going in. His mother would try to fill up his sack with food, but he would never take more than two loaves, and off he would go. In this way, he denied himself and grew very dear to God, for Whom he made such hard acts of sacrifice.
When a friend of his came to try to persuade Lawrence to leave the monastery, the Saint spoke so well of how short life is and how wise it is to live for Heaven, that his friend was persuaded to become a religious himself!
Lawrence was made a bishop, even though he tried to be excused from this honor. His people soon learned what a kind and holy man their bishop was, and crowds came to him for help every day. When he was dying, he would not lay on a soft bed. “That shall not be!” he exclaimed humbly. “My Lord was stretched out on a hard and painful tree.”
Let us pray to Our Lord, today, to give holy Priests to His Church.
LETTERS TO JACK
WRITTEN BY A PRIEST TO HIS NEPHEW
RIGHT REV. FRANCIS C. KELLEY, D.D., LL.D.
RULE AND SERVICE
THE strong man is the man who feels his responsibility and accepts it in the spirit of humility.
The wisest ruler is he who gives the fewest orders but looks for the greatest results.
No man can be just and selfish at the same time.
My dear Jack:
It has been said that “no one has learned how to rule until he has learned how to serve”. The statement is quite true, quite smart and quite catchy; but I like to express it in another way. I believe that no one has learned how to serve until he has learned how to rule. If you analyze the two statements you will find that they really amount to the same thing. Everybody is called upon to rule, and everybody is called upon to serve. You do the one only as well as you do the other. When a king, for example, ceases to serve his people well, he ceases to rule them well, and vice versa. Every man, woman and child born into this world is destined to rule. We are all destined, for example, to rule ourselves. If we fail in that, the depravity in us gets the upper hand, and there is nothing left in life. Every task you set out to do gives you the opportunity of ruling; and as you rule you serve. There is no such thing as an absolute ruler in this world, for even the monarch most unlimited in his powers is ruled by some elements in the things that he believes he is ruling. It is said that the Czar of Russia is the most absolute of all rulers; but the Czar himself knows that there are a thousand things he cannot do, and therefore that there are a thousand things and conditions that rule him. If you do well the work that is put under your hands to do, the work for which you are responsible, you are ruling much more than you are serving; in fact, while you are doing the work you are entirely ruling. It is only when the work is done and the results are placed before your superior that you show your service; but it is so hard to mark the point where rule ends and service begins, that you might truthfully say that while you serve you rule, and while you rule you serve.
So, as I look at it, the first thing to learn is the art of ruling instead of the art of serving. We are made to the image and likeness of God; and man is given the earth for his kingdom. We have, therefore, a higher appreciation of our dignity when we learn how to rule rather than how to serve; but when the spiritual steps in and shows us that we really serve when we rule, we understand perfectly, and thus strong men are made. The strong man is a man who feels his responsibility and accepts it in a spirit of humility. Such a man has the elements of greatness in him and will overcome every obstacle and every handicap. Because serving is so intimately bound up with ruling, I am going to devote most of this letter to speaking of rulers rather than of subjects.
You are now at the head of a very little department, and rather young for even that small responsibility. If you succeed in that department, within a short time your responsibilities will be greater, and you will have a number of others under your charge. As soon as you arrive at that stage, you will face two great obligations: one toward your work, the other toward your workers. Since the greatness of the work depends upon the workers, I am going to consider them first. The head of a department, a superior of any kind, is given his place that he may produce results. The priest gets results in souls; the business man in money. Keep that idea before you always in your work. You are there to get results! Your superiors selected you because they thought you had in you the ability to obtain them. They depend upon you. In your turn you must depend upon others; and in their turn they become, in smaller things, responsible parties themselves. Now the best way to secure results from those under you is to make them feel that they are shouldering part of your burden. Responsibility is the most sobering thing in the world. A baby would never be able to walk if the mother always carried it in her arms, or wheeled it around in the perambulator. The mother’s responsibility is to see that the baby does not walk too soon, so that it later will walk correctly; but the mother cannot walk for the baby—that the baby has to do itself. Did you ever see chicks come out of their shells? They break out and are busy at once. It is worth remarking that they arrive at maturity very soon. The reason is because they are active early. When the time has come for them to earn their own living without assistance, they have the advantage of having been doing it partially from the very beginning. Instinct told the mother hen to have no hesitation about forgetting them. The more responsibility you put upon a subordinate, the bigger and brighter you are making that subordinate. It is by ruling that he learns how best to serve. The wisest ruler is he who gives the fewest orders but looks for the greatest results.
I believe that the business man understands this much better than the ecclesiastic, and the ecclesiastic understands it much better than the statesman. Republics rarely get efficiency in government, because they cannot always enforce the basic rules that it requires. Influence counts too much for one thing. The self-seeker has too much chance. Favoritism has opportunities that are not present anywhere else. To have an efficient government, we would have to demand an absolute monarchy. In other words, we would have to model the state after the business corporation; for the lack of efficiency is the weakness of republics. This weakness is always a danger and it can only be removed by dragging others into it. Since republics never want to become monarchies, their only safety is in making republics out of monarchies. If a monarchy were established in any great state of the Western Hemisphere, it would be a menace not only to the prosperity, but to the very existence of every republic on the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine is a very good example of a nation recognizing its own weaknesses. The test of anyone is his work, and the test of his work is the result. It is for the superior to see that the means are as worthy as the end.
A certain Pope managed to select the most beautiful title ever taken by a ruler in this world. He called himself “Servant of the Servants of God”. Here is an acknowledgement from one of the greatest of men that rule and service practically amount to the same thing. Men are selected to rule only for the purpose of advancing the interests of their fellow-men, which means that they are merely in the service of their fellow-men. The trappings, the pomp, the dignity that go with government, are only necessary on the same principle that liveries are necessary. A democracy is a great thing if people would first learn how to be democrats; but the real reason why democracies are not entirely successful is because perverse human nature insists on forgetting that service means dignity as well as responsibility, that “to serve is to reign”. No democracy can exist amongst ignorant people, because the mental training is not there to make them understand and use their responsibilities intelligently. No democracy is possible amongst an irreligious people, because there is no higher sanction than themselves for public service. No democracy is possible amongst a sinful people, because one sin breeds another; and soon, by the very weakness of the people, the state is corrupted for the sake of individuals.
To be a good servant-ruler over the small things is to have the reward later on of being placed over what is great. The parable told in Holy Scripture about the three servants who were made rulers over their masters’ talents, like all of Christ’s parables applies universally. Since rule and service mean responsibility, they call for vigilance, activity, honesty, fairness and results. When you are placed over others, look upon each one of your employees as a person you are training for future leadership. The first requisite for you is to secure confidence in yourself. You cannot secure confidence in yourself by antagonizing your employees through irritableness, dishonesty and unfairness. If you expect those under you to be cheerful and happy in their work, be cheerful and happy yourself. If you want to be met with a smile in the morning, have one of your own on hand for early use. An even-tempered superior is the best kind of a superior to get along with. You know where such a person stands, and he radiates confidence. The meanest thing you could say about a superior is that he “meant well” as an apology for his occasional outbreaks. It really does not make any difference whether he “meant well” or not. He did not act well, and that’s the thing that counts. I do not admire the superior who carries his good nature to the point where he thinks he ought to be always cracking jokes and telling stories, to make those under him believe that he really is a good-natured person. There is more solid good-nature in a merry twinkle of the eye than in all the stories in a joke book. Stories take time, which is precious. A smile and a twinkle take no time. Any fool can tell a story; but nobody can look kind when he is not kind, and deceive anyone.
Honesty and fair play, which, after all, amount to about the same thing, are appreciated more than any other virtue in a superior; and it is right here that a man or a woman in a position of importance has to constantly keep examining his or her conscience. The easiest thing in the world, is to let yourself get the habit of judging what is good for others by what you like yourself. It is pretty hard for a farmer to answer the nod of a passer-by who assures him that it is a “fine day”, when the farmer knows that it is not a fine day for him, because his land needs rain. Everything in God’s world works out for the best and for the general good; but individuals rarely can think of a general rule when they are hit themselves. As an example: there is not really any argument for divorce from the standpoint of the general good. From that standpoint divorce is a curse to the world and a curse to the human race. Every argument, therefore, that you hear in its favor is a selfish argument, because it is an argument for the individual case. It is merely the lack of logic in the national mind that allows divorce to continue. This logic, however, is not lacking when it comes to the treatment of another kind of criminal—the one who commits murder. If you consider the murderer only as an individual, he should not be hanged or put in jail for life, because it is not going to do him any good. But he is not hanged or jailed for his own sake, but for the sake of society—for the general good. Here is where the public mind works logically. In judging others and their actions, try to get a little of the logic required for the general mind, and consider the work and deeds of your subordinates from the standpoint of the results you are expecting for the business or cause, rather than for the results to yourself as a private individual.
As a matter of fact, you do not amount to very much. You are only a cog in a wheel. It is not even the wheel that counts, but the machine; not even the machine but the product. For a machine to function well, every cog has to be doing its work honestly. Iron cogs usually do; human cogs do not. The trouble with human cogs is always the fact that they become so selfish that they put their own personal feeling in place of what should be the general feeling. The easiest way to be fair with subordinates is to realize that they too are part of the machine, and in their own way are just as necessary as the other part of it. Of course, no big institution can get along without a head; but it would be a sorry sort of a head that had no members beneath it. Some of the most brilliant men in this world died as the result of neglecting a little lump somewhere on their bodies that finally turned into a cancer. Some of the biggest movements and institutions in the world died, because the head had not honesty enough, or brains enough, to consider the general good.
The easiest road a superior can take to success is the realization of the fact of his own service. The easiest way to realize that fact is by striving always to make one’s own mind a part of the general mind. The easiest way to do that is by looking up to God. How admirably every part of His works functions, when its functioning is not interfered with by the only servant who has been given intelligence and free will. The seasons come and go; the leaves die and are reborn; the rain falls, and the sun shines; the earth stores its unused treasures away; the ground produces and rests until it regains its forces; the lower animals serve their turn; everything in nature, except man, runs like a clock. But man has free will and in that resembles God, and God gave Him the gift of intelligence. He has the power, therefore, to interfere if he wants to do so ; but when he uses it wrongfully, he gets in the way of the harmony of creation. He would not if he kept looking up to God. We would not be dreaming of the millennium if all men acted as they know God wants them to act; if they could keep selfishness out of their conduct and were part and parcel of God’s machine. We would not err if we tried to imitate the perfections that we know are in God; or at least we would not err greatly enough to keep so much injustice in the world. Banish injustice and you banish sin. No man can be just and selfish at the same time. That is a supreme law which admits of no exceptions.
(To be continued.)
Father Krier will be in Pahrump, Nevada, (Our Lady of the Snows) September 16. He will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, (Saint Joseph Cupertino) September 21 and Eureka, Nevada, (Saint Joseph) September 23.
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