Vol 15 Issue 2 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
January 8, 2022 ~ Our Lady on Saturday
1. Sacrament of Penance
2. Feast of the Holy Family
3. St. Marciana and Sts. Julian and Basilissa and Companions
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
This Sunday we will be celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family. We celebrated the Epiphany on January 6—the coming of the Wisemen to adore the God-man, Jesus Christ and foretelling that Jesus would be made manifest to all the Gentile nations. (Hopefully we Catholics did not forget this day, January 6, is the Epiphany and were not wrapped up in the nonsense of the world with its distractions from what is most important). The other manifestations or epiphanies that the Church celebrates is that of the Baptism of the Christ (January 13), when the Father declares Christ to be His beloved Son (cf. Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and that of the Wedding Feast of Cana (John 2) next Sunday. As we attend Mass on Sunday, the Gospels read will reflect upon the Family and Marriage and become the topics of the sermon. Both are very important and so I add a few additional reflections here.
Christ spoke these words: Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven; but he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33) I think it is important that our youth ask themselves this question: Am I confessing I am a Catholic who believes in Jesus Christ? In other words, I meet a young man or a young woman and we become acquainted and then we think about a life together—but since I am a Catholic who believes that there cannot be extra-marital relations, that marriage is to be for a family, that contraception is forbidden, that marriage will be a life-long commitment, that I must marry in the Church, that the children will be raised as Catholics and that marriage is to help sanctify each other—are they even spoken about, considered within the relation? Or do I deny that I am a Catholic, that this is my faith and thereby deny Christ? Because it seems that instead of putting the horse in front of the cart, our young people are trying to put the horse behind the cart and realizing it can’t work that way, abandon both: faith and marriage. And Christ, denied, cannot confess them before His Father they therefore become lost in the darkness of irrational passion. Let us read this passage a little further: Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (ibid. 34-35)
When it comes to marriage, the main excuse for divorce is incompatibility. The young man or woman who does not consider whether the other person is compatible sets oneself up for divorce—but blinding oneself one throws oneself into a relationship without consideration of marriage and if it doesn’t work no divorce (because no marriage). But there is no future marriage either because Christ was denied, no blessing because Christ could not ask His Father to bless a blasphemous relationship, and the blind lead the blind into the pit of eternal perdition as the offspring grow up as “kids”, children of this world—a world that belongs to the Adversary of God.
May our young people recognize that in the beginning of any relationship—even if it be only a friendship—Christ must be confessed [not in a silly fanatical overtone, but a clear undertone] and the other person wants to share that confession of Christ in, as Circumcision’s Epistle reminds us: rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly and piously in this world. (Titus 2:12) Remember the words of Tobias to Sara: We are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God. (Tob. 8:5)
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
The Catechism of the Council of Trent*
(Part II, Chapter 5)
[*See the author’s note in Baptism Expose concerning the Roman Catechism]
ON THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE.
Necessity of the sacrament of Penance
As the frailty and weakness of human nature are universally known and felt, no one can be ignorant of the paramount necessity of the Sacrament of Penance. If, therefore, in the exposition of the different matters of instruction, we are to measure the assiduity of the pastor by the weight and importance of the subject, we must come to the conclusion that, in expounding this Sacrament, he can never be sufficiently assiduous. Its exposition demands an accuracy superior to that of baptism. Baptism is administered but once, and cannot be repeated; penance may be administered and becomes necessary, as often as we may have sinned after baptism, according to the definition of the Fathers of Trent. “For those who fall into sin after baptism,” say they,” the sacrament of penance is as necessary to salvation, as is baptism for those who have not been already baptized.” (Sess. 6. de Just. cap. 14. et Sess. 14. de poenit. cap. 3. in 3 cap.) On this subject the words of St. Jerome, which say, that penance is “a second plank,” (Hieron. ad haec verba, Ruit Hierusalem, et epistola 8.) are universally known, and highly commended by all who have written on this Sacrament. As he who suffers shipwreck has no hope of safety, unless, perchance, he seize on some plank from the wreck; so he that suffers the shipwreck of baptismal innocence, unless he cling to the saving plank of penance, may abandon all hope of salvation. These instructions, however, are intended not only for the benefit of the pastor, but also for that of the faithful at large, whose attention they may awaken, lest they be found culpably negligent in a matter of all others the most important. Impressed with a just sense of the frailty of human nature, their first and most earnest desire should be, to advance, with the divine assistance, in the ways of God, flying sin of every sort. But should they, at any time, prove so unfortunate as to fall, then, looking at the infinite goodness of God, who like the good shepherd binds up and heals the wounds of his sheep, they should have immediate recourse to the sacrament of penance, that by its salutary and medicinal efficacy their wounds may be healed.
Different meanings of the word, penance.
But to enter more immediately on the subject, and to avoid all error to which the ambiguity of the word may give rise, its different meanings are first to be explained. By penance some understand satisfaction; whilst others, who wander far from the doctrine of the Catholic faith, supposing penance to have no reference to the past, define it to be nothing more than newness of life. The pastor, therefore, will teach that the word (pœnitentia) has a variety of meanings. [I.] In the first place, it is used to express a change of mind; as when, without taking into account the nature of the object, whether good or bad, what was before pleasing, is now become displeasing to us. In this sense the Apostle makes use of the word, when he applies it to those, “whose sorrow is according to the world, not according to God; and therefore, worketh not salvation, but death.” (2 Cor, vii. 10.) [II.] In the second place, it is used to express that sorrow which the sinner conceives for sin, not however for sake of God, but for his own sake. A third meaning is when we experience interior sorrow of heart, or give exterior indication of such sorrow, not only on account of the sins which we have committed, but also for sake of God alone whom they offend. To all these sorts of sorrow the word (pœnitentia) properly applies.
In what sense God is said to repent.
When the Sacred Scriptures say that God repented, (Gen. vi. 6. 1 Kings xv. 11. Ps. cv. 45. Jer. xxvi. 3.) the expression is evidently figurative: when we repent of anything, we are anxious to change it; and thus, when God is said to change any thing, the Scriptures, accommodating their language to our ideas, say that he repents. Thus we read that “it repented him that he had made man,” (Gen. vi. 6.) and also that it repented him to have made Saul king. (1 Kings xv. 11.)
Meaning of penance here.
But an important distinction is to be made between these different significations of the word: to repent, in its first meaning, argues imperfection in its second, the agitation of a disturbed mind in the third, penance is a virtue and a sacrament, the sense in which it is here used.
Penance as a virtue.
We shall first treat of penance as a virtue, not only because it is the bounden duty of the pastor to form the faithful, with whose instruction he is charged, to the practice of every virtue; but also, because the acts which proceed from penance as a virtue, constitute the matter, as it were, of penance as a sacrament; and if ignorant of it in this latter sense, impossible not to be ignorant also of its efficacy as a sacrament. The faithful, therefore, are first to be admonished and exhorted to labour strenuously to attain this interior penance of the heart, which we call a virtue, and without which exterior penance can avail them very little. This virtue consists in turning to God sincerely and from the heart, and in hating and detesting our past transgressions, with a firm resolution of amendment of life, hoping to obtain pardon through the mercy of God. It is accompanied with a sincere sorrow, which is an agitation and affection of the
mind, and is called by many a passion, and if accompanied with detestation, is, as it were, the companion of sin. [Supposes faith.] It must, however, be preceded by faith, for without faith no man can turn to God. Faith, therefore, cannot on any account be called a part of penance. (Trid. Sess. 14. de pœn. c. 3, can. 4.) [Proved to be a virtue.] That this inward affection of the soul is, as we have already said, a virtue, [I.] the various precepts which enforce its necessity prove; for precepts regard those actions only, the
performance of which implies virtue. [II.] Besides, to experience a sense of sorrow at the time, in the manner, and to the extent which are consonant to reason and religion, is no doubt an exercise of virtue: and this sorrow is regulated by the virtue of penance. Some conceive a sorrow which bears no proportion to the enormity of their crimes: “There are some,” says Solomon, “who are glad when they have done evil;” (Prov. ii. 14.) whilst others, on the contrary, consign themselves to such morbid melancholy and to such a deluge of grief, as utterly to abandon all hope of salvation. Such perhaps was the condition of Cain when he exclaimed: “My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon:” (Gen. iv. 13.) such certainly was the condition of Judas, who, “repenting,” hanged himself in despair, and thus sacrificed soul and body. (Matt. xxvii. 3.) Penance, therefore, considered as a virtue, assists us in restraining within the bounds of moderation our sense of sorrow.
[III.] That penance is a virtue may also be inferred from the ends which the penitent proposes to himself. The first is to destroy sin and efface from the soul its every spot and stain; the second, to make satisfaction to God for the sins which he has committed, and this is an act of justice towards God. Between God and man, it is true, no relation of strict justice can exist, so great is the distance between the Creator and the creature; yet between both there is evidently a sort of justice, such as exists between a father and his children, between a master and his servants. The third end is, to reinstate himself in the favour and friendship of God whom he has offended, and whose hatred he has earned by the turpitude of sin. That penance is a virtue, these three ends which the penitent proposes to himself, sufficiently prove.
The degrees by which we attain this virtue.
We must also point out the steps, by which we may ascend to this divine virtue. [I.] The mercy of God first prevents [pervades] us and converts our hearts to him; this was the object of the prophet’s prayer: “Convert us, O Lord! and we shall be converted.” (Jerem. xxxi. 18) [II.] Illumined by this celestial light the soul next tends to God by faith: “He that cometh to God,” says the Apostle, “must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.” (Heb. xi. 6.) [III.] A salutary fear of God s judgments follows, and the soul, contemplating the punishments that await sin, is recalled from the paths of vice: “As a woman with child,” says Isaias, when she draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain and crieth out in her pangs; so are we become in thy presence, Lord!” (Isa. xxvi. 17) [IV.] We are also animated with a hope of obtaining mercy from God, and cheered by this hope we resolve on a change of life.— [V.] Lastly, our hearts are inflamed by charity; and hence we conceive that filial fear which a dutiful and ingenuous child experiences towards a parent. Thus, dreading only to offend the majesty of God in any thing, we entirely abandon the ways of sin. These are, as it were, the steps by which we ascend to this most exalted virtue, a virtue altogether heavenly and divine, [Heaven the reward of penance.] to which the Sacred Scriptures promise the inheritance of heaven: “Do penance,” says the Redeemer, “for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand:” [Matt iv. 17.] “If,” says the prophet Ezekiel, “the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die:” [Ezek. xviii. 21.] “I desire not, saith the Lord, the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live;” [Ezek. xxxiii. 11.] words which are evidently understood of eternal life.
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
LUKE ii. 42-52
And when Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered. And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
III. ST AMBROSE: ON THE GOSPEL
And when he was twelve years old. The public teaching of the Lord had, as we read, its beginning from His twelfth year, for herein should be foreshadowed the number of those announcing the faith that was to be preached. Nor was it that He was heedlessly unmindful of His parents according to the flesh, Who in the flesh was filled with grace and wisdom, that He was found in the Temple after three days, but for a sign that He that was believed dead would present Himself to our faith, risen in heavenly glory and divine honour after the three days of that triumphal passion.
How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? There are two generations in Christ: the one is Paternal, the other maternal; that which is Paternal is more divine (divinior), the maternal that whereby He has stooped to our need and benefit. And therefore what was accomplished in a manner above nature, above age, above what was usual, must not be ascribed to His human excellence, but must be referred to the power of His divinity.
Elsewhere His mother pleads with Him for a miracle: here she requires of Him a reason, since she still looks to the things that are human. But while here He is described as being but twelve years old, there He is spoken of as having disciples. See how the mother has learned to know her Son, so that she seeks a miracle from Him now in His full strength, who was astonished at this wonder in His boyhood.
He came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. What is the Master of virtue doing here but fulfilling the duties of filial piety? Are we to be astonished that He obeys His Father Who was obedient to His mother? A subjection this, not of dependence, but of filial love; and let the snake, emerged from his evil lair, uplift his head of heresy to jet forth poison from his abject breast.” When the Son says that He is sent (Jn. viii. 29), the heretic then declares that the Father must be the greater, and this that he may prove that the Son is imperfect, since He acknowledges that there is a greater than Himself; and that he may assert that he that is sent is dependent on the help of others.
Did He require human help that He might obey the will of His Mother? He was obedient to man, He was obedient to His Handmaid (for she said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord), He was obedient to His reputed father, and you are surprised that He should be obedient to God? Or is it a virtue to obey man, but a sign of imperfection to obey God? Learn even from human things to weigh carefully what is divine, and acknowledge what is due to the Father of love. The Father glorifieth the Son (Jn. viii. 43, 59); and would you not have the Son glorify the Father? The Father by a voice from heaven proclaims that in His Son He is well pleased; would you not have the Son, clothed in the garment of our humanity, declare with human voice and human affection that the Father is greater than He? (Jn. xiv. 28). For if great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and of his greatness there is no end (Ps. cxlvi. 5), it is a greatness which truly has no end, and receives no increase. Why do I not accept with devout mind that the Son, in the taking on of flesh, is obedient to the Will of the Father, when I piously accept that the Father pays honour to the Son? Learn rather the precepts that are profitable; and acknowledge what are true examples of filial piety. Learn what you owe to your own parents as often as you read that the Son departed not from His Father, either in will, or in work, or in time; for though they are two in Person, in Power they are One. Yet this heavenly Father has endured nothing of the labours of generation. To your mother you owe the invasion of her modesty, the loss of virginity, the peril of childbearing. For you she suffered wearisome illness, prolonged anxiety: her pangs in the very fruition of her vows were a still greater trial. And when she has brought forth that which she desired, she is delivered of childbirth, but not of care. And what shall I say of the father’s anxieties, for the future life of his children, their number added to for others’ gain: seeds scattered as by a farmer, for the benefit of future generations?
Ought you not for all these things pay them back at least with filial reverence? Why should the life of a father seem too prolonged to an unfilial son, or the common inheritance too straitened, when Christ Himself sought co-heirs of His own inheritance: Who liveth and reigneth world without end, Amen.
IV. ST BERNARD, ABBOT AND DOCTOR
The Feast of the Holy Family
In Mary we praise that which places her above all others, that is, fruitfulness of offspring together with virginity. For never has it been known in this world that anyone was at the same time mother and virgin. And see of Whom she is mother. Where does your astonishment at this so wondrous dignity lead you? Is it not to this, that you may gaze in wonder yet never sufficiently revere? Is she not in your veneration, nay, in the esteem of Truth itself, raised above choirs of angels? Does not Mary address the Lord and God of all the angels as Son, saying: Son, why hast thou done so to us?
Who among the angels may thus presume? It is enough for them, and for them their greatest honour, that while they are spirits by nature they have become and are called angels, as David testifies: Who makest thy angels spirits (Ps. ciii. 4). Mary, knowing herself a mother, with confidence calls that Majesty Son Whom the angels in reverence serve. Nor does God disdain to be called that which He disdained not to be. For the Evangelist adds a little later: He was subject to them.
Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, I repeat, to Whom the angels are subject: Whom principalities and powers obey: was subject to Mary; and not alone to Mary, but to Joseph also, because of Mary. Admire and revere both the one and the other, and choose which you admire the more: the most sweet condescension of the Son or the sublime dignity of the Mother. For either am I at a loss for words: for both are wondrous. For that God should obey a woman is humility without compare; and that a woman should have rule over God dignity without equal. In praise of virgins is it joyfully proclaimed: that they follow the lamb whithersoever he goeth (Apoc. xiv. 4). Of what praise shall you esteem her worthy who also goeth before Him?
Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to submit. The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to them; that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph. Be you ashamed, vain ashes that you are. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt yourself? God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker? O would that God might deign to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answer as He made, reproving him, to His apostle: Go behind Me, Satan: because thou savourest not the things that are of God (Mk. viii. 33).
For as often as I desire to be foremost among men, so often do I seek to take precedence of God; and so do I not truly savour the things that are of God. For of Him was it said: And he was subject to them. If you disdain, O Man, to follow the example of a Man, at least it will not lower thee to imitate thy Maker. If perhaps you cannot follow Him wheresoever He goeth, at least follow in that wherein He has come down to you.
If you are unable to follow Him on the sublime way of virginity, then follow God by that most sure way of humility; from whose straitness should some even from among the virgins go aside, then must I say what is true, that neither do they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. He that is humble, even though he be stained, he follows the Lamb; so too does the proud virgin; but neither of the two whithersoever He goeth: because the one cannot ascend to the purity of the Lamb that is without stain, nor will the other deign to come down to the meekness of the Lamb, Who stood silent, not merely before the shearer, but before the one that put Him to death. Yet the sinner who makes after Him in humility, has chosen a wholesomer part than the one that is proud in his virtue; since the humble repentance of the one washes away uncleanness, but the pride of the other contaminates his own virtue.
Truly blessed was Mary who possessed both humility and virginity. And truly wondrous the virginity whose fruitfulness stained not, but adorned her; and truly singular the humility, which this fruitful virginity has not troubled, but rather exalted; and wholly incomparable the fruitfulness which goes hand in hand with her humility and her virginity. Which of these things is not wondrous? Which is not beyond all comparison? Which that is not wholly singular? It would be strange if you did not hesitate to decide which you regard as most worthy of praise: whether the wonder of fruitfulness of offspring in virginity, or of virginal integrity in a mother: sublimity of Offspring, or humility joined to such dignity: unless it be that we place both together above each one singly: and it is truly beyond any doubt more excellent and more joyful to have beheld these perfections united in her, than to see but one part of them. And can we wonder that God, of Whom it is written that He is wonderful in his saints (Ps. lxvii. 36), shows Himself in His own Mother yet more wondrous still? Venerate them, Ye spouses, this integrity of flesh in our corruptible flesh. Revere likewise, Ye virgins, fruitfulness in virginity. Let all men imitate the humility of God’s Mother. Honour, Ye angels, the Mother of your King, you who adore the Offspring of our Virgin; Who is your King and our King, the Healer of our race, the Restorer of our fatherland: Who among you is so sublime, yet among us was so lowly: to Whose Majesty as well from you as from us let there be adoration and reverence: to whose Perfection be there honour and glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.
January 9: ST MARCIANA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR (c. A.D. 303)
SHE was a native of Rusuccur, a place in Mauritania, and, courageously despising all worldly advantages to secure the possession of heavenly grace, she bid defiance to the pagan idolaters in the persecution of Diocletian. Marciana was beaten with clubs, and her chastity exposed to the rude attempts of gladiators, in which danger God miraculously preserved her, and she became the happy instrument of the conversion of one of them to the faith. At length she was torn in pieces by a wild bull and a leopard in the amphitheatre at Caesarea in Mauritania, about 100 miles west of the modem city of Algiers.
SS. JULIAN AND BASILISSA, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS (A.D. 304?)
ACCORDING to their “acts” and the ancient martyrologies, Julian and Basilissa, though engaged in the married state, lived by mutual consent in perpetual chastity, sanctified themselves by the exercises of an ascetic life, and employed their revenues in relieving the poor and the sick. For this purpose they converted their house into a kind of hospital, in which, if we may credit their acts, they sometimes entertained a thousand indigent persons: Basilissa attended those of her sex; Julian, on his part, ministered to the men with such charity that he was later on confused with St Julian the Hospitaller. Egypt, where they lived, had then begun to abound with examples of persons who, either in the cities or in the deserts, devoted themselves to charity, penance and contemplation. Basilissa, after having endured severe persecution, died in peace; Julian survived her many years, and received the crown of a glorious martyrdom, together with Celsus a youth, Antony a priest, Anastasius and Marcianilla, the mother of Celsus.
LETTERS TO JACK
WRITTEN BY A PRIEST TO HIS NEPHEW
RIGHT REV. FRANCIS C. KELLEY, D.D., LL.D.
COLD marble repays nothing, when the body beneath it is only a lump of clay. Surely those who received nothing from time for bearing a world’s burdens are entitled to justice from the Eternity that shall replace time.
My dear Jack:
Last night, anew, I picked up a copy of Seumas McManus’ ”Ballads of a Country Boy,” and started to dip here and there into it. My wandering eye lit on a poem that had escaped my first reading of these fine ballads. It was called “The Silly Truen.” I did not know what a “Truen” was supposed to be; but a foot-note told me that it is a bird called “Corn-craik, ” which in Irish is known as a ”Truen, ” meaning ”strength.” But the bird belies its name; for it is a thin, ungainly bird, with weak, spindly legs. Its peculiarity is to lie on its back on the grass, with its legs toward the sky, and keep crying out something that sounds, in Irish, like “strength with strength.” The people have a saying that the Truen means to say: “What wonderful strength for two little feet of one poor bird to hold up all the skies!” Mr. McManus, in his ballad, rebukes the “Silly Truen” for his foolishness, frightens him to his feet and to the wing. “And lo! the skies moved not one bit when his heels were drawn away.” But this fact made no change in the “Silly Truen’s” ideas as to his strength, for
. . . . “from the distance, floating easy, came his creaking cries—
Oh, wonderful! one poor bird’s feet to hold up all the skies!”
Well, Jack, I sympathize with the Truen. I like the bird in spite of his mistaken idea about his strength. I wish men might get the same idea, though in a somewhat different form. Barring out the absurd, I wish more people would act as if, on each and every one of them rested the burdens of all. That would make for a greater feeling of responsibility in the human race; and, with responsibility, would surely come greater men and women—and more real character. It is the feeling of responsibility that forces men and women to the front. Responsibility produces the great poets, the great essayists, the great statesmen, the great generals. It is the feeling of responsibility in people, the idea that they are born to be the Burden Bearers, that is to be thanked, under God, for all the morality and goodness and learning in the world. Some of the best and greatest of men were probably as silly as the Truen about their “strength”; but, like the Truen, you could demonstrate nothing to them; and they went on acting as Burden Bearers. So they did things, and they do things, and they will go on doing things, till the trump of Gabriel sounds. And God speed them, if the things they do are good and beneficial!
It does not hurt others a bit, but it helps them much, if some people insist on being Burden Bearers. But it does hurt the Burden Bearers themselves. It hurts them very much, and always in proportion to the greatness of the burden they think they must carry. Then, many of the Burden Bearers are not far wrong about the fact of their vocation. God, without doubt, inspires still. He has selected many Burden Bearers—and they know it, and live up to it. These are the people who are happy in bearing the burdens, and could not be happy without them. They feel the weight: their backs are sore: their limbs are tired; but take off the burdens and they die. Friends tell them to retire, that they have done their work, that they needs must rest in their old age; but friends waste their breath, for these Burden Bearers cannot retire, cannot rest, and do not see that they grow old. The Burden is life to them; and a body free from the weight is only a body looking, with wistful, tired eyes, toward the grave.
In the ranks of the human Truens are Popes, Emperors, Kings, Priests, Patriots, Pleaders, Enthusiasts, Statesmen, Discoverers, Charity Workers, Missionaries, Writers, Teachers and—oh, the wonder of the numbers of them!—Fathers and Mothers. These are the Burden Bearers, some of them called ” Fools for their pains”; some of them fools in reality; but the majority of them God’s servants who die in His harness, glad to wear it to the end.
Mr. McManus could frighten off his “Silly Truen, ” but he could not change its sad and rasping cry. The world may often frighten its Burden Bearers, but it cannot keep them silent nor take away the consciousness of their tasks. They are themselves as sad as the cry of the Truen, and sometimes speak unpleasantly enough, too; but they are in a sad business, and in sad business the voice takes on no note of music. The persistency of the Burden Bearers is a marvel; but neither rack nor rope nor axe can ever reach an inspired idea.
Of course, the Burden Bearers have been nuisances to a great many people; and this is another strange thing about them—that the heavier the burden they insist on bearing, the greater nuisances they are to those who should be bearing part of it themselves, and the harder some people try to get rid of them. The whole might of the Roman Empire was invoked to rid the world of the Apostles, and it succeeded; but their burdens were shifted to other backs, and these remained in spite of the Roman Empire. But the Roman Empire does not remain. It is dangerous to meddle with the Burden Bearers.
Another strange thing about the Burden Bearers is often found in their seeming inconsistency. That is because they are human, and because humanity has the bad habit of not recognizing its own limitations. It illogically demands perfection where perfection is not possible. In almost every case the Burden is finer and better than the one who carries it; but he carries it in spite of that. The Abbe Roux puts the case well for the religious Burden Bearer: ”This man has his defects; yet he cherishes truth and defends justice. And petty souls exclaim: ‘Oh, the inconsistency! Oh, the scandal!’ But pious hearts say: ‘Oh, the native nobility of the man! Oh, the happy contradiction of the Christian!’”
Do I counsel you to be a Burden Bearer? I do, if you have a burden that you feel you should bear. I do, if you feel that you have none. Get a burden and bear it. By which I mean: take unto yourself a responsibility for the sake of others. Good men and women should bear. burdens not their own; for there are so many who will not bear even their own. The Burden Bearers serve to equalize things. Since equality is not a possibility, the Burden Bearer becomes a necessity; or the world goes fast to ruin. He who does “just enough” falls short of doing what is required of him. The “just enough” man is the man who is only tolerable. It takes more than that to be acceptable, even in ordinary society.
It is their souls that enable the Burden Bearers to carry their loads. The fact of the existence of Burden Bearers is a proof of the existence of the soul. The fact of their carrying burdens is a proof of the soul’s immortality, or “what’s the use?” There is no recompense in time that could ever repay them. But even if time could repay, where and when has it done so? Columbus died in prison. Peter was crucified and Paul beheaded. Socrates drank of the hemlock. Milton was blind and Shakespeare to the end only a strolling actor. A Pope who “loved justice and hated iniquity” found it quite within the ordinary that he should “die in exile.” Andreas Hofer was shot. Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. Abraham Lincoln and Garcia Moreno fell before the assassin’s pistol. Since when was it that time repaid while yet there was time to repay? Cold marble repays nothing, when the body beneath it is only a lump of clay. Surely those who received nothing from time for bearing a world’s burdens, are entitled to justice from the Eternity that shall replace time.
Do I counsel you to be a Burden Bearer? I do, because I counsel you to be good, and wise, and noble, and patriotic. I counsel you to have a heart; and I know that you have a soul. If I did not counsel you to be a Burden Bearer, I should be thus counselling you to let the world have its way with you,—which God forbid! ”Our soul” (again I quote the Abbe Roux), “which the world pretends to divert with its vanities, resembles the child which is consoled by the offer of a rattle instead of a star.” To have the star, Jack, you must in some degree be a Burden Bearer.
(To be continued.)
Father Krier will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Saint Joseph Cupertino), on January 11. He will be in Pahrump, Nevada (Our Lady of the Snows), January 13 and in Eureka, Nevada (Saint Joseph, Patron of Families) on January 18.
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