Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just for Today, February 24

When a priest celebrates, he honours God, he rejoices the angels, he edifies the Church, he helps the living, he obtains rest for the dead, and makes himself partaker of all that is good.
-Bk. IV, ch. v.

A priestly vocation! O Jesus! how lovingly I would hold Thee in my hands when my voice had brought Thee down from Heaven, with what love I would give Thee to souls! And yet, whilst wishing that I could be a priest, at the same time I envy and admire the humility of St Francis of Assisi, and feel that I have a vocation to imitate him by refusing the sublime dignity of the priesthood. I do not know how to reconcile these conflicting attractions.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 24

We should not examine articles of faith with a curious and subtle spirit. It is sufficient for us to know that the Church proposes them. We can never be deceived in believing them.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent, Walk in Love

The Epistle of the Third Sunday of Lent is a fragment of the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. "Walk in love," he says to a little group of early Christians which he had formed. Whom are you to take as the model of your love? Jesus who has made Him­self a victim for your salvation. Walk in love as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sac­rifice to God for an odor of sweetness. (Ephesians 5:1-9.) I am afraid of sacrifice. Do I regard it sufficiently as a question of love?

Evidently it costs much to immolate oneself; but to love does not cost. "Ubi amatur non laboratur," as St. Augustine notes, "Where there is love there is no pain, or if there is pain, it is suffered willingly as a proof of love."

As Lent progresses I must seek to advance more and more in love. The Introit begins: Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, "My eyes are ever toward the Lord." I will look more and more toward Jesus suffering. The sight of Him will give me courage and stimu­late my zeal.

"O Jesus; You have so loved me, teach me to love You. May medita­tion on Your cruel sufferings animate me! I wish to follow You, my crucified Master, by accepting my daily little crosses, the cross of my Rule, the cross of my office, the cross of aridity, the cross of illness, or old age, anticipated crosses and those that take me unaware. But O Jesus, increase my love that I may be enabled to do all that I resolve."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Lenten Reflection: Gluttony, the Fifth Capital Sin

"Whether you eat or drink or do anything else, do all for the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31)

During World War I the Battle of the Marne was fought on Sep­tember 9, 1914. The Prussian Guard of the German Army crashed through the right flank of Marshal Foch, leader of the Allied forces. The victors were wild with joy; they had pierced the French line. When Foch heard that the enemy was celebrating, he telegraphed to headquarters: "My center gives way, my right recedes; the situation is excellent. I shall attack."

These were the famous fighting words of that thoroughly Catholic and heroic leader, Foch, who had often declared before: "A battle won is a battle in which one is not able to believe oneself van­quished."

He gave orders to prepare for the attack. The fate of France and the Allied countries was at stake. Either he would save everything or lose everything. About six o'clock that evening the startled Germans, till now certain of success, saw themselves faced by a revived French Army, filling in the gap which the Germans had made in the French line, the opening they hoped would be their road to Paris. Foch had not only blocked the road to Paris, he had also cracked the morale of the best troops of Von Buelow.

At nine the next morning, September 10, 1914, the Forty-second Divi­sion swarmed into the little town of La Frere-Champenoise, where the previous day's victors were celebrating. There on the floors of the bar­racks, surrounded by countless bottles of stolen champagne, they found the officers of the Prussian Guard, dead drunk.

What Sacred Scripture says to the drunkard, could have been said to these intoxicated German officers:

"Thou shalt be one sleeping in the midst of the sea, and as a pilot fast asleep, when the rudder is lost." Proverbs, 23:34.

The capital sin of gluttony had conquered the invading army, had opened the way for their opponents to enter unopposed, had turned a cer­tain victory into a rout and complete defeat. How often this is the case on the battlefield of the human heart. Gluttony opens the way to all the enemies of the soul of man. Gluttony puts the pilot of the soul to sleep, and permits the soul's enemies to take over.

1. Gluttony, the fifth capital sin, means an excessive desire for food and drink. It is a desire to eat and drink just for the sake of eating and drink­ing. It is the sin of those "whose god is their belly." Phil. 3:19. It is not gluttonous to find pleasure in eating and drinking, because God has planted in food and drink the power to please the palate. But it is gluttony to eat and drink solely for the sensible and physical pleasure gained from it.

2. The sin of gluttony is committed in various ways:
A. By eating and drinking just for the pleasure of it; finding all or most of one's happiness in the delights of the dish and the cup.

You have met people with an over-interest in nourishment, whether solid or liquid, or both. Their supreme joy is to put their feet under a table or one foot on the rail of a bar. They will converse continually about some tasty meal or cocktail mixture, about recipes for delicious dishes, about restaurants where the food is out of this world, about sauces and salads, meats and pastries. Taste is not just one of their five senses; it dominates the other four, as well as the reasoning power that should govern them.

B. Gluttony is committed by daintiness and sqeamishness in the choice of food. We find grown-ups as well as children who continually com­plain that certain foods are not to their taste. They complain of their dislike into the ears of the cook, usually some weary mother, who has half a dozen different tastes to satisfy at each meal. Such peo­ple often rate their relatives and friends by the amount and the quality of the drinks and dinners they serve.

C. It is gluttonous to eat more than is necessary for our health or our work. To take a second and third helping just because something tastes good, when we know it is too much for us, is to be guilty of this sin. This also applies to the extra glasses of intoxicating liquor.

D. The gluttonous are over-anxious about their meals. Their principal plans refer to when and where they will get their next meal, when and where they will get their next drink or round of drinks.

E. By eating and drinking ravenously, like mere animals, without any consideration for the feelings and sensitiveness of others, with the selfish ambition of proving that he who eats the fastest gets the most.

F. Gluttony shows itself in grumbling and grouching about the laws of fast and abstinence, and by keeping carelessly or totally neglecting those regulations. For the greedy, Friday is a fearful day. They let everyone know how unhappy they are, they even sell their souls for a steak by deliberately defying the direction of Mother Church, which is in line with Christ's direction that we do penance. Such so­called Catholics are totally unmindful of the spiritual motive and rea­son for the laws of fast and abstinence. And Lent? How they hate it! Again they do not and will not remember that we fast and abstain these forty days just because our Lord ate no food for forty days, and because we want to prepare worthily for, and share more fully in, the passion and death of our Savior. Lent is a perfect time for the gluttonous to take stock and overcome their capital sin.

G. The most common form of gluttony is taking more liquor than one can stand, more drink than is good for that individual. There are different types of the greedy drinker, but with most of them drink comes before everything else.

3. Gluttony is a mortal sin in the following cases:

A. When a person makes a god of his belly to such an extent that he finds practically all his pleasure when he has a fork or glass in his hand.

B. When a person seriously injures his health by stuffing himself with food or drink. Naturally the capacity of individuals will vary, but to harm one's health in a serious maimer by what you eat or drink, how you partake of it, and by the amount, is a serious sin. It is against the Fifth Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."

C. When a person breaks the laws of fast and abstinence for the sake of satisfying the sense of taste. If a Catholic is lawfully excused from either or both of these regulations, he need not worry. But he should do some other penance. Many violations of Lenten regu­lations are caused by gluttony.

D. When a person wastes money and even property to buy unnecessary food and drink. Usually the drunkard sins in this way. He puts over the bar money that should go over the grocer's counter. Almost as bad, he spends twenty dollars on liquor, and the next morning drops a dollar in the collection basket. Should there be here any man, par­ticularly the head of a family, who is using for drink money that should go for his family or his Church, let him realize how unjust, how selfish, how miserably mean he is to his loved ones.

E. When a man overloads his stomach, either with food or drink, to such an extent that he makes himself unfit for his work or his duties. Many a person could do more efficient and satisfactory work if he did Not eat so much and drink so much.

4. With regard to intoxicating liquor the question is often asked: "When is a person drunk?" It might be put this way also: "How can a person know when he is guilty of a serious sin through drinking?"

In answer to this important and often-asked question we point out that the two most direct and certain ways of knowing whether or not one has committed a serious sin of drinking are these:

A. Look back, and examine your state of mind and your actions while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

B. Ask sober witnesses, frank friends, what they thought of your speech and your actions.

Excessive drinking is a sin because its immediate effect is the impairment, that is, the lessening, and in many cases the loss of reason. If the reasoning power is lessened only slightly, then the sin is venial. In this matter you cannot judge the seriousness of the sin merely by the amount of liquor consumed. It depends upon the effect which the drink has on the senses and reasoning powers. Intoxication that ends in complete loss of reason is definitely a mortal sin. What do we mean by the loss of reason? You can presume and "even be sure that a drinker has temporarily lost the use of reason when he can no longer distinguish good from bad, when he cannot carry on a sensible conversation, and cannot remember recent, simple facts, especially when he cannot remember, after the drunkenness has passed, just what he said or what he did "under the influence."

With regard to this physical angle of intoxication we recall the half ­humorous story from the moonshine era of the fellow who was lying one Sunday afternoon in the boiling sun in the middle of the dusty road, with an empty bottle by his side.

"He's drunk; lock him up," ordered the sheriff, as he leaned down over the prostrate figure.

"No, he ain't drunk," interposed a woman. "I jes' seen his fingers move."

Seriously, intoxication is to be judged not only and merely from the physical angle. One is guilty of serious sin if he does things when he is drunk which he would not have done when sober. The sin grows in serious­ness according to the injury the drunkard does to his own health, the injury he causes others, the neglect of duty or responsibility, and the scandal which may result. The drunkard thus becomes guilty of the impurity, the cursing, the quarreling, the destruction of property, the hurting of friends and loved ones, which he causes during his drunken stupor. Today we need to emphasize the guilt of drunken driving. If you mix alcohol and gasoline you are endangering your own life and health and the life and health of others. That is definitely against the Fifth Commandment.

The second and better way to judge the extent of one's drunkenness is to ask the prudent advice and counsel of sober and reliable witnesses. Too often the person who drinks to the point of impairing his reason and cloud­ing his senses is not in a position to judge the degree of his drunkenness.

In this matter you can be sure that the fellow who drinks to excess, and the fellow who has only in mind the idea of keeping from mortal sin in this business, will sooner or later fall surely into the mortal sin of excessive drinking. Accordingly, the safest policy, both from the standpoint of morality, and from the standpoint of health, is to stop long before you even begin to get stupid. The terrific toll that the excessive tippler pays we will try to consider when we point out the evils of gluttony in general.

5. What are the remedies for this excessive desire for the pleasures of the plate and the glass? We have many helps:

A. By prayer expressing our own weakness and trust in the powerful help of God, we can win the grace to overcome gluttony in any form. Silently, if not vocally, beg Almighty God to, help you be temperate. Do this whenever you are going to a party, or about to spend an eve­ning with friends who drink. Do it sincerely and honestly. God will help you.

B. Receive the sacraments more frequently. Go to Confession and re­ceive Holy Communion more often. At the sweet moment of Communion the drinker should tell our Lord that he will not imbibe to excess before his next Communion. Work from one Holy Communion to the next.

C. Practice self-denial in other and perhaps smaller matters. Control­ling the other senses will strengthen the will to control the sense of taste. Is it not lack of will power that permits the drunkard to fall again and again? Develop that power of will by exercise.

D. Avoid the occasions of your intemperance. The man who gets drunk every time he visits a certain tavern, cannot expect to stay temperate unless he stays away from that tavern. Certain persons, certain places, certain conditions of the mind, were the occasions of exces­sive drinking in the past. Steer clear of those occasions.

E. Think of the forty days' fast of our Lord, out there in that comfort­less desert without food and drink, denying Himself the tastes of the table in order to make good for your sins. And then behold Jesus on the cross, Hi. body dripping blood. Imagine the terrible thirst. And then listen, listen, O drunkard, to His agonizing cry from the cross: "I thirst." Loss of blood causes an almost intolerable dryness. Jesus suffered it for your sins of drunkenness.

F. Open your eyes and your mind to the horrible results of excess to soul and body:

i. Excess brings on poor health and an untimely death. Too much food and too much drink shorten life. Admiral George Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay, was once complimented on his superb and rugged health at the age of seventy-five. He smiled and explained: "I at­tribute my good condition to plenty of exercise and no banquets. We eat too much. One-third of what a man eats is all he needs in order to live."

When a reporter present asked the Admiral what becomes of the other two-thirds, Dewey replied wryly: "Oh, that enables the doctor to live."

What he said about food is all the more true about drink, especially intoxicating drink. Our hospitals and asylums number by the thou­sands the moral and physical wrecks they take in, people who have ruined their health and their lives by imbibing too much.

ii. Excess in the matter of food and drink clogs the mind and dulls the intellect. After a heavy meal one does not feel like thinking even if one could. As for taking too much drink, the halting speech, the un­certain movements, and slow reactions of the drunk are proof suf­ficient that liquor has lulled his thinking faculties to sleep.

Why, it might even make a man so dull of wit that a Mason would turn Catholic. They tell the story of a Catholic chaplain making his rounds in a large hospital when they brought in on a stretcher a man who was unconscious. He had been seriously injured in an auto accident. The Sisters and nurses did not know who he was. There was nothing about his person to identify the injured man. Taking a chance, Father baptized the man conditionally and gave him the Last Sacraments.

Two weeks later the priest met the injured man going down the hallway in a wheel-chair, and told him:

"Vou were really in bad shape last week. I thought you would surely die. Are you a Catholic?"

"No," replied the patient, "I am a Mason - thirty-second degree."

"Well," said Father, "you are a Catholic now."

"How so?" asked the Mason.

"I took a chance;" explained the chaplain, "while you were uncon­scious, I baptized you."

"Father, don't tell me! exclaimed the fellow, "So I am a Catholic. Serves me right for getting so drunk and then trying to drive."

iii. Excess in eating and drinking brings on lazy habits of mind and body. Tests have proven that too much food and too much liquor lessen the powers of concentration, even make a person unwilling and un­able to think, and also lessens physical energy and efficiency.

iv. Intemperance leads to excesses of the other lower appetites. Drunk­enness particularly is a companion and cause of several other capital sins:

a. Many a person, especially the young, have committed their first sin of impurity while under the influence. Don't touch liquor until you are twenty-five - if ever.

b. Some drunks get stupidly sullen and silent, expressing their anger in that way. Most of them talk a great deal, indulging in filthy lan­guage, unkind remarks, and especially in cursing and swearing. Anger is a direct result.

c. How the recording angel must weep as he marks down the sins of avarice - stealing, cheating, neglecting to pay just bil1 ~ ommitted by the man addicted to drink. He wants more money to buy more drink.

d. The capital sin of sloth is also a direct descendant of drunken­ness, making the drinker neglect the duties of his state in life.

Indeed, excess in food and drink opens the door to the enemies of the soul, even more treacherously than the drinking of the victorious Germans made it possible for their opponents to walk in and take possession.

Look to our Leader Christ during this Lent. Think of His suffering for your sins of the palate. Think of Him on the cross and His dying words: "I thirst." Without Christ you cannot conquer intemperance; with Christ you can become temperate. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Gospel for Feb 23, Memorial: St Polycarp of Smyrna, bishop and martyr

Old Calendar: St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor

From: Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

Parables of God's Mercy

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The Prodigal Son

[3] So He told them this parable: [11] "There was a man who had two sons; [12] and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. [13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to himself he said, `How can many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.'" [20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' [22] But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; [23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; [24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

[25] "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. [27] And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' [31] And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"


1-32. Jesus' actions manifest God's mercy: He receives sinners in order to convert them. The scribes and Pharisees, who despised sinners, just cannot understand why Jesus acts like this; they grumble about Him; and Jesus uses the opportunity to tell these Mercy parables. "The Gospel writer who particularly treats of these themes in Christ's teaching is Luke, whose Gospel has earned the title of `the Gospel of mercy'" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 3).

In this chapter St. Luke reports three of these parables in which Jesus describes the infinite, fatherly mercy of God and His joy at the conversion of the sinner.

The Gospel teaches that no one is excluded from forgiveness and that sinners can become beloved children of God if they repent and are converted. So much does God desire the conversion of sinners that each of these parables ends with a refrain, as it were, telling of the great joy in Heaven over a sinner who repents.

1-2. This is not the first time that publicans and sinners approach Jesus (cf. Matthew 9:10). They are attracted by the directness of the Lord's preaching and by His call to self-giving and love. The Pharisees in general were jealous of His influence over the people (cf. Matthew 26:2-5; John 11:47) a jealousy which can also beset Christians; a severity of outlook which does not accept that, no matter how great his sins may have been, a sinner can change and become a saint; a blindness which prevents a person from recognizing and rejoicing over the good done by others. Our Lord criticized this attitude when He replied to His disciples' complaints about others casting out devils in His name: "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in My name will be able soon after to speak evil of Me" (Mark 9:39). And St. Paul rejoiced that others proclaimed Christ and even overlooked the fact they did so out of self-interest, provided Christ was preached (cf. Philippians 1:17-18).

11. This is one of Jesus' most beautiful parables, which teaches us once more that God is a kind and understanding Father (cf. Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3). The son who asks for his part of the inheritance is a symbol of the person who cuts himself off from God through sin. "Although the word `mercy' does not appear, this parable nevertheless expresses the essence of the divine mercy in a particularly clear way" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 5).

12. "That son, who receives from the father the portion of the inheritance that is due him and leaves home to squander it in a far country `in loose living', in a certain sense is the man of every period, beginning with the one who was the first to lose the inheritance of grace and original justice. The analogy at this point is very wide-ranging. The parable indirectly touches upon every breach of the covenant of love, every loss of grace, every sin" ("Dives In Misericordia", 5).

14-15. At this point in the parable we are shown the unhappy effects of sin. The young man's hunger evokes the anxiety and emptiness a person feels when he is far from God. The prodigal son's predicament describes the enslavement which sin involves (cf. Romans 1:25; 6:6; Galatians 5:1): by sinning one loses the freedom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31; 5:13) and hands oneself over the power of Satan.

17-21. His memory of home and his conviction that his father loves him cause the prodigal son to reflect and to decide to set out on the right road. "Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father's house. We return through contrition, through the conversion of heart which means a desire to change, a firm decision to improve our life and which, therefore, is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father's house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which, by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become His brothers, members of God's family" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ is Passing By", 64).

20-24. God always hopes for the return of the sinner; He wants him to repent. When the young man arrives home his father does not greet him with reproaches but with immense compassion, which causes him to embrace his son and cover him with kisses.

20. "There is no doubt that in this simple but penetrating analogy the figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The conduct of the father in the parable and his whole behavior, which manifests his internal attitude, enables us to rediscover the individual threads of the Old Testament vision of mercy in a synthesis which is totally new, full of simplicity and depth. The father of the prodigal son is FAITHFUL TO THIS FATHERHOOD, FAITHFUL TO THE LOVE that he had always lavished on his son. This fidelity is expressed in the parable not only by his immediate readiness to welcome him home when he returns after having squandered his inheritance; it is expressed even more fully by that joy, that merrymaking for the squanderer after his return, merrymaking which is so generous that it provokes the opposition and hatred of the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home.

"The father's fidelity to himself [...] is at the same time expressed in a manner particularly charged with affection. We read, in fact, that when the father saw the prodigal son returning home `he had COMPASSION, ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.' He certainly does this under the influence of a deep affection, and this also explains his generosity towards his son, that generosity which so angers the elder son" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).

"When God runs towards us, we cannot keep silent, but with St. Paul we exclaim, "ABBA PATER": `Father, my Father!' (Romans 8:15), for, though He is the creator of the universe, He doesn't mind our not using high-sounding titles, nor worry about our not acknowledging His greatness. He wants us to call Him Father; He wants us to savor that word, our souls filling with joy [...].

"God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though we don't deserve it. It doesn't matter how great our debt is. Just like the prodigal son, all we have to do is open our heart, to be homesick for our Father's house, to wonder at and rejoice in the gift which God makes us of being able to call ourselves His children, of really being His children, even though our response to Him has been so poor" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 64).

25-30. God's mercy is so great that man cannot grasp it: as we can see in the case of the elder son, who thinks his father loves the younger son excessively, his jealousy prevents him from understanding how his father can do so much to celebrate the recovery of the prodigal; it cuts him off from the joy that the whole family feels. "It's true that he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgment on him. Have pity in your heart, and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 675).

We should also consider that if God has compassion towards sinners, He must have much much more towards those who strive to be faithful to Him. St. Therese of Lisieux understood this very well: "What joy to remember that our Lord is just; that He makes allowances for all our shortcomings, and knows full well how weak we are. What have I to fear then? Surely the God of infinite justice who pardons the prodigal son with such mercy will be just with me `who am always with Him'?" ("The Story of a Soul", Chapter 8).

32. "Mercy, as Christ has presented it in the parable of the prodigal son, has THE INTERIOR FORM OF THE LOVE that in the New Testament is called AGAPE. This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and `restored to value'. The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy, that he has been `found again' and that he has `returned to life'. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father's son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself" ("Dives In Misericordia", 6).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just for Today, February 23

But how great each one's virtue is, best appears by occasion of adversity; for occasions do not make a man frail, but show what he is.
-Bk. I, ch. xvi.

When we commit a fault, we must never attribute it to a physical cause, such as illness, or the weather. We must acknowledge that it comes from our own imperfection, without becoming discouraged. Occasions do not make a man frail, but show what he is.
-Conseils et Souvenirs
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 23

Labor to conquer yourself. This victory will assure you a brighter crown in heaven than they gain whose disposition is more amiable.

-St. Ignatius

From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for February 23, The Fool's Robe

Is this not the height of indignity? He who is Wisdom Itself clothed with folly! He who is the Word of the Father treated as a fool by a base scoundrel, an infamous debauchee!

This Herod, O Jesus, who has taken You for an entertainer and who is annoyed by Your silence, thinks himself very clever in send­ing You to Pilate clothed in the garment of a madman.

Where is the madness, where is the folly? In You, my Good Master, or in this stupid governor of Galilee, who is blind and deaf to the truth and who struts upon his throne like a peacock, pleasure-mad and carnal.

But what does Herod matter? Are You, O my Jesus, treated as a madman? You, treated as one who has lost his reason, as one who does not know what he is doing?

But now I begin to wonder. Was Herod really so wrong? Did You not deign to do a very foolish thing for us? Knowing us as we are, and how little humanity would profit through the cen­turies, from the shedding of Your Blood, do You still find it possible to annihilate Yourself for us? Is that not pure folly?

It is not folly as the wretched tetrarch of Galilee conceived it, but as St. Paul understood it. The folly of love! To deign to offer Yourself from eternity to the Father in order to save us! To come to earth at the appointed time to a poor manger To con­sent to an ignoble Passion climaxed by death on the cross! Is it not true that folly, a divine folly, has taken hold of You? There is no one who loves to such an extent.

Yes, my child, that is the extent of My love, the love of your God for you.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Feb 22, Feast: The Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

From: Matthew 16:13-19

Peter's Profession of Faith and His Primacy

[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?" [14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." [15] He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" [16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [17] And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."


13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the Gospel of St. John (cf. John 21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time, this authority will be passed on to Peter's successors down through history. The Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms:
"We teach and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon, Christ had said, `You shall be called Cephas' (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had acknowledged Christ with the confession, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were spoken by the Lord: `Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven' (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus conferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over His whole fold with the words, `Feed My lambs....Feed My sheep' (John 21:15-17) [...]

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ the Lord as the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that he received immediately and directly from Jesus Christ our Lord only a primacy of honor and not a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction: let him be condemned.

"Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, `no one doubts, in fact it is obvious to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,' and governs, `and exercises judgment in his successors' (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter's primacy over the whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself [...]. For this reason, `because of its greater sovereignty,' it was always `necessary for every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement' with the same Roman Church [...]

"(Canon) Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord himself, that is, by divine law, that St Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of St Peter in the same primacy: let him be condemned.

"We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. "And so, faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for the salvation of Christian peoples, We, with the approval of the sacred council, teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks "ex cathedra", that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.

"(Canon) But if anyone presumes to contradict this our definition (God forbid him to do so): let him be condemned" (Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", Chaps. 1, 2 and 4).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just for Today, February 22

Oh! how great thanks am I obliged to return to Thee, for having vouchsafed to show me and all the faithful a right and good way to an everlasting kingdom.
-Bk. III, ch. xviii.

If you could only realize how tenderly the Sacred Heart of Jesus loves you, and what He expects from you! Your last letter moved me very much, for I saw that your soul and mine are sisters, as you also are being prompted to go to God by means of Love's lift, instead of toiling upwards by the rugged path of fear.

I am not surprised that you should find it difficult to live on terms of familiarity with Our Lord: this is not the work of one day. But I feel sure that after my death I shall be better able to help you along this path, and that you will soon exclaim with St Augustine: My weight is my love: by that am I carried whithersoever I be carried (Conf. xiii, 9).
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 22

Remember that virtue is a very high and rugged mountain, difficult to ascend, and requiring much fatigue and exertion before we arrive at the summit to rest.

-Bl. Henry Suso
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for February 22, Self-Forbearance

We sometimes become angry with ourselves if in spite of our renewed resolutions, we fall again and again into the same faults and negligences. And why? Do we imagine that on a cer­tain day we will succeed once for all in correcting our innate weakness. We are weak and we shall remain weak despite all our ef­forts to acquire strength.

Why then should we be discouraged? Shall we never accomplish anything? Is it worth the effort to struggle under these conditions?

Yes, certainly, it is worth the effort. God desires the struggle more than the victory and He knows very well of what clay we are made and does not expect of us a perfection so regular that it never wavers.

What foolishness then and what a waste of time for us to become angry! While we are bemoaning our misery, we forget to advance. One act of generous love would make up the whole deficit; instead of that we squander our time in useless regrets; we ought to forget the whole affair, serenely take up the struggle again and repair everything.

Furthermore, by spitefully attacking ourselves we run the risk of enlarging the gulf between our soul and God, of giving exag­gerated importance to our faults and of uselessly and indefinitely recalling them. St. Francis de Sales wittily said,
"You are vexed by the vexation and then you are vexed for having been vexed by the vexation. That resembles the circle made by throwing a stone into the water; it makes a little circle, and that one makes a bigger one, and that one still another."
"Lord, grant me patience with my weakness. And grant that my efforts to correct myself may be free from anxiety. Give me fortitude, but above all give me patience with myself."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Thursday, 2nd Week of Lent

Optional Memorial of St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor

From: Luke 16:19-31

Lazarus and the Rich Man

(Jesus told them this parable:) [19] "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. [20] And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, [21] who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; [23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' [25] But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. [26] And besides in all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' [27] And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, [28] for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' [29] But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' [30] And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [31] He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"


19-31. This parable disposes of two errors--that of those who denied the survival of the soul after death and, therefore, retribution in the next life; and that of those who interpreted material prosperity in this life as a reward for moral rectitude, and adversity as punishment. This parable shows that, immediately after death, the soul is judged by God for all its acts--the "particular judgment"--and is rewarded or punished; and that divine revelation is by itself sufficient for men to be able to believe in the next life.

In another area, the parable teaches the innate dignity of every human person, independently of his social, financial, cultural or religious position. And respect for this dignity implies that we must help those who are experiencing any material or spiritual need: "Wishing to come down to topics that are practical and of some urgency, the Council lays stress on respect for the human person: everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as another self, bearing in mind above all his life and the means necessary for living it in a dignified way lest he follow the example of the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the poor man" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 27).

Another practical consequence of respect for others is proper distribution of material resources and protection of human life, even unborn life, as Paul VI pleaded with the General Assembly of the United Nations: "Respect for life, even with regard to the great problem of the birth rate, must find here in your assembly its highest affirmation and its most reasoned defense. You must strive to multiply bread so that it suffices for the tables of mankind, and not rather favor an artificial control of birth, which would be irrational, in order to diminish the number of guests at the banquet of life" ("Address to the UN", 4 October 1965).

21. Apparently this reference to the dogs implies not that they alleviated Lazarus' sufferings but increased them, in contrast with the rich man's pleasure: to the Jews dogs were unclean and therefore were not generally used as domestic animals.

22-26. Earthly possession, as also suffering, are ephemeral things: death marks their end, and also the end of our testing-time, our capacity to sin or to merit reward for doing good; and immediately after death we begin to enjoy our reward or to suffer punishment, as the case may be. The Magisterium of the Church has defined that the souls of all who die in the grace of God enter Heaven, immediately after death or after first undergoing a purging, if that is necessary. "We believe in eternal life. We believe that the souls of all those who die in the grace of Christ-whether they must still make expiation in the fire of Purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies they are received by Jesus into Paradise like the Good Thief--go to form that people of God which succeeds death, death which will be totally destroyed on the day of the resurrection when these souls are reunited with their bodies" (Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God", 28).

The _expression of "Abraham's bosom" refers to the place or state "into which the souls of the just, before the coming of Christ the Lord were received, and where, without experiencing any sort of pain, but supported by the blessed hope of redemption, they enjoyed peaceful repose. To liberate these holy souls, who, in the bosom of Abraham were expecting the Savior, Christ the Lord descended into hell" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 3).

22. "Both the rich man and the beggar died and were carried before Abraham, and there judgment was rendered on their conduct. And the Scripture tells us that Lazarus found consolation, but that the rich man found torment. Was the rich man condemned because he had riches, because he abounded in earthly possessions, because he `dressed in purple and linen and feasted sumptuously every day'? No, I would say that it was not for this reason. The rich man was condemned because he did not pay attention to the other man, because he failed to take notice of Lazarus, the person who sat at his door and who longed to eat the scraps from his table. Nowhere does Christ condemn the mere possession of earthly goods as such. Instead, He pronounces very harsh words against those who use their possessions in a selfish way, without paying attention to the needs of others[...]."

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need--openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advantaged; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged. Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so [...].

"We cannot stand idly by, enjoying our riches and freedom, if, in any place, the Lazarus of the Twentieth Century stands at our doors. In the light of the parable of Christ, riches and freedom mean a special responsibility. Riches and freedom create a special obligation. And so, in the name of the solidarity that binds us all together in a common humanity, I again proclaim the dignity of every human person: the rich man and Lazarus are both human beings, both of them equally created in the image and likeness of God, both of them equally redeemed by Christ, at a great price of the `precious blood of Christ' (1 Peter 1:19)" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily in Yankee Stadium", 2 October 1979).

24-31. The dialogue between the rich man and Abraham is a dramatization aimed at helping people remember the message of the parable: strictly speaking, there is no room in Hell for feelings of compassion toward one's neighbor: in Hell hatred presides. "When Abraham said to the rich man `between us and you a great chasm has been fixed...' he showed that after death and resurrection there will be no scope for any kind of penance. The impious will not repent and enter the Kingdom, nor will the just sin and go down into Hell. This is the unbridgeable abyss" (Aphraates, "Demonstratio", 20; "De Sustentatione Egenorum", 12). This helps us to understand what St. John Chrysostom says: "I ask you and I beseech you and, falling at your feet, I beg you: as long as we enjoy the brief respite of life, let us repent, let us be converted, let us become better, so that we will not have to lament uselessly like that rich man when we die and tears can do us no good. For even if you have a father or a son or a friend or anyone else who have influence with God, no one will be able to set you free, for your own deeds condemn you" ("Hom. on 1 Cor.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just for Today, February 21

Yet this man, thus many ways afflicted, is not without some alloy of comfort for his ease, because he is sensible of the great profit which he reaps by bearing the cross. For while he willingly resigns himself to it, all the burden of tribulation is converted into an assured hope of comfort from God.

And the more the flesh is brought down by affliction, the more the spirit is strengthened by inward grace. And sometimes he gains such strength through affection to tribulation and adversity, by reason of loving to be conformable to the Cross of Christ, as not to be willing to be without suffering and affliction; because such a one believes himself by so much the more acceptable to God, as he shall be able to bear more and greater things for Him.
-Bk. II, ch. xii.

When I was in the world, I used, on awaking, to think of the happenings, pleasant and unpleasant, that the day held in store. If I foresaw trouble, I began the day with a heavy heart. Now it is quite the contrary; the prospect of difficulties and suffering fills me with courage, and I look forward with joy to the many opportunities I shall have of proving my love for Our Lord and of saving souls, for am I not a mother of souls? So I kiss my crucifix and lay it gently on the pillow whilst I am dressing, saying: My Jesus, You wept and laboured for thirty-three years upon earth. Today You must is my turn to fight and to suffer.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 21

Jesus Christ, our great Model, suffered much for us; let us bear our afflictions cheerfully, see­ing that through them we have the happiness of resembling Him.
-Bl. Henry Suso
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for February 21, The Repercussion of My Acts

A young girl of twenty-one wrote, "The thought that every one of our actions has its effect upon the whole human race is both consoling and terrifying. The smallest act of virtue raises even without our knowledge the low-water mark of morality, but the contrary, alas, is also true and how disturbing is this thought."

If I had a like realization of the possible repercussion of the least of my actions, what power would be mine! What breadth and what depth my life would have!

If I grasp that reality I will realize that the entire human race depends upon my holiness, depends on the least of my efforts for virtue. I can follow this little unknown act, which cost me so much but which I made generously, across the world in its march for good.... I can see this little hidden act of mine end in the cure of a paralytic who suddenly sits erect after having been motionless for years in his sin; or end in a vocation long defeated but which now suddenly overcomes all hesitation and asserts itself; or in a marvelous conversion; or in many souls' increased desires for great holiness; or in a miraculous awakening of a conscience until then dead in sin.

I isolate myself too much from the harmonious ensemble of the world. I too often forget that I have a part in this immense com­munity. The universe depends more than I think on what I am or what I am not. I must assume responsibilities in order to meet the unlimited dimensions of the need of Redemption.

Somewhere there is a distressed soul that I can help; somewhere there is a soul that I can assist on its upward climb; somewhere someone is suffering - I can help him bear his suffering; some­where someone is falling - I can obstruct the opening of the abyss or lend him strength and draw him back to the right road.

These thoughts must encourage me each time cowardliness would drag me down.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Wednesday, 2nd Week of Lent

From: Matthew 20:17-28

Third Prophecy of the Passion

[17] And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way He said to them, [18] "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, [19] and deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day."

The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee Makes Her Request

[20] Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him, with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. [21] And He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to Him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your Kingdom." [22] But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." [23] He said to them, "You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." [24] And when the ten heard it they were indignant at the two brothers. [25] But Jesus called them to Him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. [26] It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [27] and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; [28] even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."


18-19. Once again our Lord prophesies to His Apostles about His death and resurrection. The prospect of judging the world (cf. Matthew 19:28) might have misled them into thinking in terms of an earthly messianic kingdom, an easy way ahead, leaving no room for the ignominy of the cross.

Christ prepares their minds so that when the testing time comes they will remember that He prophesied His passion and not be totally scandalized by it; He describes His passion in some detail.

Referring to Holy Week, Monsignor Escriva writes: "All the things brought to our mind by the different expressions of piety which characterize these days are of course directed to the Resurrection, which is, as St. Paul says, the basis of our faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14). But we should not tread this path too hastily, lest we lose sight of a very simple fact which we might easily overlook. We will not be able to share in our Lord's Resurrection unless we unite ourselves with Him in His Passion and Death. If we are to accompany Christ in His glory at the end of Holy Week, we must first enter into His holocaust and be truly united to Him, as He lies dead on Calvary" ("Christ Is Passing By", 95).

20. The sons of Zebedee are James the Greater and John. Their mother, Salome, thinking that the earthly reign of the Messiah is about to be established, asks that her sons be given the two foremost positions in it. Christ reproaches them for not grasping the true-spiritual-nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and not realizing that government of the Church He is going to found implies service and martyrdom. "If you are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 950).

22. "Drinking the cup" means suffering persecution and martyrdom for following Christ. "We are able": the sons of Zebedee boldly reply that they can drink the cup; their generous expression evokes what St. Paul will write years later: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

23. "You will drink My cup": James the Greater will die a martyr's death in Jerusalem around the year 44 (cf. Acts 12:2); and John, after suffering imprisonment and the lash in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:40-41), will spend a long period of exile on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:9).

From what our Lord says here we can take it that positions of authority in the Church should not be the goal of ambition or the subject of human intrigue, but the outcome of a divine calling. Intent on doing the will of His Heavenly Father, Christ was not going to allocate positions of authority on the basis of human considerations but, rather, in line with God's plans.

26. Vatican II puts a marked emphasis on this "service" which the Church offers to the world and which Christians should show as proof of their Christian identity: "In proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming an element of the divine in him, this sacred Synod offers to cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destiny of theirs. The Church is not motivated by an earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only-to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge, to serve and not to be served" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 3 cf. "Lumen Gentium", 32: "Ad Gentes", 12; "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).

27-28. Jesus sets Himself as an example to be imitated by those who hold authority in the Church. He who is God and Judge of all men (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22-27; Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18) does not impose Himself on us: He renders us loving service to the point of giving His life for us (cf. John 15:13); that is His way of being the first. St. Peter understood Him right; he later exhorted priests to tend the flock of God entrusted to them, not domineering over them but being exemplary in their behavior (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-3); and St. Paul also was clear on this "service": though He was "free from all men", He became the servant of all in order to win all (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff; 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Christ's "service" of mankind aims at salvation. The phrase "to give His life as a ransom for many" is in line with the terminology of liturgical sacrificial language. These words were used prophetically in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.

Verse 28 also underlines the fact that Christ is a priest, who offers Himself as priest and victim on the altar of the cross. The expression "as a ransom for many" should not be interpreted as implying that God does not will the salvation of all men. "Many", here, is used to contrast with "one" rather than "all": there is only one Savior, and salvation is offered to all.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just for Today, February 20

O infinite love, singularly bestowed on man! But what return shall I make to the Lord for this grace, and for so extraordinary a charity?

There is nothing that I can give Him that will please Him better, than if I give up my heart entirely to God, and unite it closely to Him. Then all that is within me shall rejoice exceedingly, when my soul shall be per­fectly united to my God: then will He say to me: If thou wilt be with Me, I will be with thee. And I will answer Him: Vouchsafe, O Lord, to remain with me, and I will willingly be with Thee. This is my whole desire, that my heart may be united to Thee.
-Bk. IV, ch. xiii.

If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? Or shall I drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High. (Ps.xlix)

That is all Our Lord asks of us. He has no need of our works, but only of our love. The same God who declares that He has no need to tell us if He is hungry, deigned to beg a little water from the Samaritan woman.... He was thirsty! But when He said: Give me to drink (John iv, 7), the Creator of the universe was asking for the love of His poor creature; He thirsted for love.

To this day Our Lord still thirsts. He meets with indifference and ingratitude from His disciples in the world, and even among His chosen disciples He finds very few willing to give themselves up whole-heartedly to the designs of His love.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 20

Let us abandon everything to the merciful providence of God.

-[St.] Albert the Great
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for February 20, I Am Not of the World

I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given me; because they are Thine....They are not of the world as I also am not of the world. (John xviii.)

To be separated from the world is a great mark of Divine pref­erence. Do I sufficiently appreciate my good fortune, or do I oc­casionally feel a slight regret for the world I have left after con­versations, visits with relatives or friends, or after reading a book. Regret not for worldly pleasures of too easy and exhilarating a life, but regret rather for certain sweet joys, good in themselves, but which I have resolved to forego that I may belong solely to God.

To be brief, I belong to God. In speaking of His disciples, Our Lord said to the Father, those whom You have given me are Yours.

Ponder over this expression: to belong to God. Try to grasp its full import.

Look at Our Lord. Is He not our Model? They are not of this world, as I am not of this world.

How cheap He holds all to which the world clings, ease, glory, excitement, jealous guarding of one's reputation, anxious search for honor, unconscious hypocrisies, lack of insight into true values, exaggerated esteem for things of no account, decided want of ap­preciation for that which alone is of merit.

"Lord Jesus, at the foot of the Cross, I beg You, do not permit me to be tainted by the spirit of the world. If for any reason whatsoever I must come in contact with the world, may it be for me an opportunity to transform the world, and not an opportunity for it to weaken my spirit. I belong to God."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Tuesday, 2nd Week of Lent

From: Matthew 23:1-12

Vices of the Scribes and Pharisees

[1] Then said Jesus to the crowds and to His disciples, [2] "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; [3] so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. [4] They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. [5] They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, [6] and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, [7] and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. [8] But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. [9] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in Heaven. [10] Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. [11] He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; [12] whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."


1-39. Throughout this chapter Jesus severely criticizes the scribes and Pharisees and demonstrates the sorrow and compassion He feels towards the ordinary mass of the people, who have been ill-used, "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). His address may be divided into three parts: in the first (verses 1-12) He identifies their principal vices and corrupt practices; in the second (verses 13-36) He confronts them and speaks His famous "woes", which in effect are the reverse of the Beatitudes He preached in Chapter 5: no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven--no one can escape condemnation to the flames--unless he changes his attitude and behavior; in the third part (verses 37-39) He weeps over Jerusalem, so grieved is He by the evils into which the blind pride and hardheartedness of the scribes and Pharisees have misled the people.

2-3. Moses passed on to the people the Law received from God. The scribes, who for the most part sided with the Pharisees, had the function of educating the people in the Law of Moses; that is why they were said to "sit on Moses' seat". Our Lord recognized that the scribes and Pharisees did have authority to teach the Law; but He warns the people and His disciples to be sure to distinguish the Law as read out and taught in the synagogues from the practical interpretations of the Law to be seen in their leaders' lifestyles. Some years later, St. Paul--a Pharisee like his father before him--faced his former colleagues with exactly the same kind of accusations as Jesus makes here: "You then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, `The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'" (Romans 2:21-24).

5. "Phylacteries": belts or bands carrying quotations from sacred Scripture which the Jews used to wear fastened to their arms or foreheads. To mark themselves out as more religiously observant than others, the Pharisees used to wear broader phylacteries. The fringes were light-blue stripes on the hems of cloaks; the Pharisees ostentatiously wore broader fringes.

8-10. Jesus comes to teach the truth; in fact, He is the Truth (John 14:6). As a teacher, therefore, He is absolutely unique and unparalleled. "The whole of Christ's life was a continual teaching: His silences, His miracles, His gestures, His prayer, His love for people, His special affection for the little and the poor, His acceptance of the total sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of the world, and His resurrection are the actualization of His word and the fulfillment of revelation. Hence for Christians the crucifix is one of the most sublime and popular images of Christ the Teacher.

"These considerations are in line with the great traditions of the Church and they all strengthen our fervor with regard to Christ, the Teacher who reveals God to man and man to himself, the Teacher who saves, sanctifies and guides, who lives, who speaks, rouses, moves, redresses, judges, forgives, and goes with us day by day on the path of history, the Teacher who comes and will come in glory" (John Paul II, "Catechesi Tradendae", 9).

11. The Pharisees were greedy for honor and recognition: our Lord insists that every form of authority, particularly in the context of religion, should be exercised as a form of service to others; it must not be used to indulge personal vanity or greed. "He who is the greatest among you shall be your servant".

12. A spirit of pride and ambition is incompatible with being a disciple of Christ. Here our Lord stresses the need for true humility, for anyone who is to follow Him. The verbs "will be humbled", "will be exalted" have "God" as their active agent. Along the same lines, St. James preaches that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). And in the "Magnificat", the Blessed Virgin explains that the Lord "has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree [the humble]" (Luke 1:52).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lenten Reflection: Anger, the Fourth Capital Sin

"Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart." St. Matthew, 11:29.

We all admire the camel for his strength, and especially for his ability to ~ravel over the sandy desert. But the camel does have one very bad habit. He has a deep spirit of revenge: He always wants to "pay back" those who injure or hurt him, even if it is an imaginary hurt. Camel-drivers and those who use these animals a great deal in traveling through the desert, know about this fault, and have devised a queer and interesting way of keeping themselves from getting hurt.

When a driver has in some way or other made his camel angry, he immediately runs out of sight. He chooses a place of hiding near the road on which the camel will soon pass. As the beast comes by he throws down some of his clothes, and arranges them in a heap that looks like a sleeping man. Along comes the camel. He sees and smells the heap of empty clothes, thinks it is the one who hurt him, pounces on the pile, shakes every piece. and tramples all over them. When he tires of this, he walks away. The driver comes out of hiding, mounts the revenged beast, and rides away.

Silly camel! In his blind rage he could not see or tell the difference between a real man and an empty pile of clothes. He could not realize that he was hurting no one, getting even with no one, but was merely making himself ridiculous and wearing out his energies in a useless, senseless rage.

1. What a picture of the angry human being! Anger, the fourth capital sin, is a feeling of displeasure at some real or imagined injury, with the desire to remove the offending article, or punish the offending person. It is an emotion or passion that prompts us to seek revenge. It makes us want to hurt the one who interrupts or injures us, who crosses our plans or our path.

2. Anger is sinful when this urge to satisfy a spiteful feeling is not resisted. This capital sin is opposed directly to the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of the Gospel. Anger is an offspring of offended pride. And anger appears particularly wrong as we consider it during this Lenten season, when our Lord showed such magnificent meekness, particularly during His passion and death.

3. To be sure, there is such a thing as just anger or righteous wrath, such as that shown by our Lord Himself when He drove the sellers and moneychangers from the temple, as we read in St. Luke, 19:45. But His anger was directed against the sin and not against the sinner. In that way you can tell whether your anger is justified or not. I recall the story of a family seated at their evening meal. Everything had gone wrong for mother and dad that day. They were tired. They were on edge. The children were noisy and fussy. They didn't want to eat this and they didn't want to eat that. They spilled a glass of milk and dropped gravy on the table. Finally the father exploded. In the silence that followed the storm. four-year-old Billy turned to his father and asked meekly:

"Are you mad, Daddy?"

"No, I'm not mad;' grumbled Daddy, "I'm just full of righteous wrath."

Billy was impressed. Then he blurted out: "I want to be full of radishes, too."

Everybody laughed. The tension was broken. Often afterwards that father remembered and realized that his so-called "righteous wrath" was just "radishes." Perhaps the wrath, the petulance and peevishness you show and try to justify, is nothing else but radishes.

4. Unjust and sinful anger shows itself in many ways:
A. In quarreling: when the views, opinions and plans of others differ from those of the angry person, he is inclined to argue and quarrel. But you will notice that he does not speak so much about the value or worth of the two opinions; he rather stoops to personalities, pointing out flaws in the character, the behavior and the education of his opponent. The cure for quarreling is to discuss calmly and intelligently and justly the merits and demerits of the topic debated.

B. In cursing: cursing and swearing are an admission of weakness. They are a betrayal of uncontrolled feelings. They also betray a lack of ability to express oneself in understandable and meaningful language. Some who curse maintain that it is an outlet for pent-up passions. The fact is that it feeds those passions. Watch the angry man and listen to his cursing. He always makes matters worse. He merely manifests his anger if he curses when he stubs his toe, or misses a traffic light, or corrects the children.

C. In hatred: there is no justification for the desire to hurt another, whether it is in revenge for a real injury or for an imagined injury. Such an angry desire to "get even" is directly opposed to the command of Christ, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," St Matthew 22:39, and to the words of the Psalmist, "Be angry and do not sin," Psalm 4 :5, which St. Paul quotes and then adds, "Do not let the sun go down upon your anger." Ephesians, 4 :26.

D. By bitter language: cutting, sharp remarks, snapping, growling answers and commands, sarcastic speech, slurring whispers - all arise from an angry heart, all betray a selfish, childish heart which is upset when it does not get what it wants. Make up your mind today that you will say nothing, if you can say nothing civil or courteous, when you are disturbed or displeased.

E. By sulking or pouting: this is related to the foregoing sign of anger. Some show their displeasure by keeping tight-lipped; they betray their miserable meanness by pouting and sulking. They twist their faces, they look daggers at the offender, they wrinkle their brows and purse their lips at those who cross their plans and desires. Next time you are angry hurry to a mirror and see how unattractive it makes you. Imagine how unattractive you are in the sight of God.

F. By violent gestures and movements of the body: notice the angry snap their fingers, shake their head, grind their teeth, shake their fist, stamp their foot, and even jump up and down like an excited monkey. If you would see the angry camel of our story trampling and biting the pile of empty clothes you would laugh at him. Much more ridiculous are the actions of an angry human being. What foolish, senseless things they do when in a rage!

The pagan philosopher Socrates tells us that when he was a boy he happened upon a man who was trying to unlock a door. The key would not work. The fellow bit the key and kicked the door in his rage. Then and there the youthful thinker made up his mind never to give way to anger. He kept his resolve. He even mixed a sense of humor with it. One day his wife, a very critical and complaining creature, broke into a storm of bitterness and cutting remarks. As Socrates walked out the door, she threw a pail of water upon him. Calmly and philosophically he remarked:
"Well, after the thunder, you can expect a shower."

G. By fighting: kicking, scratching, pinching and punching, throwing anything they can reach at the offender are some ways angry people try to "get even" with those who have crossed them.

5. How can we overcome these sudden surges of displeasure, these risings of angry passion?
A. By anticipating and avoiding the occasion of them. If you are a driver who is easily excited by traffic tie-ups or the maneuverings of other thoughtless drivers, tell yourself as you get behind the wheel that you will control your feelings, no matter what happens.

B. Keep quiet when angry. The old pagans advised saying the entire Greek alphabet before saying a word when they were angry. We have all heard the wise direction, "Count ten before you talk." Better still would be to say a few prayers, especially that powerful and most appropriate one "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine."

C. Realize your weakness in this regard, and your inclination to be "peeved" or "put out" at the least difficulty or interference.

D. Keep ever in mind the meekness and mildness of Jesus who told us:
"Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."

E. Examine yourself daily, and give yourself a little penance for each
failure to avoid anger.

6. The contrast of anger and meekness stood out strikingly in an incident that took place during World War Two, when trains were overcrowded and
usually late. A long line was waiting to get into the diner. There was grouching and grumbling and even cursing on the part of most of those waiting. They cursed the railroad, they grumbled about the hot weather, they complained about the slow service in the diner, they even glared at those coming out to show that they had taken too much time to gulp their food. They blamed the engineer and the conductor for all the delays.

In contrast to all this angry outburst, there stood near me a gentleman who was on his way to Kansas City for an important appointment in his business. He was calm and cool, unperturbed and undisturbed by the annoyances and by the complaining.

I was trying to do the same, although I was slightly displeased at the delays. We engaged in conversation. I remarked how composed he was. He smiled and told me:
"Father, I said my morning prayers, giving this day to God. I cannot control this train. I cannot make it go faster. I cannot hurry up the diner service. I am in God's hands. If I get there too late for my appointment, I'll try to take care of it tomorrow. Meanwhile I take things as they come."

When we finally arrived in Kansas City, I could not help noticing that my friend was fresh and ready for what work he could do that day, while the impatient passengers were worn to a frazzle in mind and body. You have no doubt observed the same contrast between the angry and the meek in your home, in your work, in social life, and especially in games.

Controlling one's temper is good health, good business, and good personality. It is good Christianity; nay, it is essential Christianity.

7. Meekness, the opposite of anger, is a virtue which moderates our feelings of impatience and revenge. It is a sure mark of the true disciple of Christ, because the meekness of the Master is one of the outstanding traits of His character.

Meekness makes you more like our Lord. It gives you a peace of mind beyond all price and beyond all understanding. It helps you really to win friends and to influence people. It brings success in spiritual life as well as in your work in the world. To the meek and not to the angry will go the prize, as Christ Himself promised:
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth." St. Matthew, 5:4.

8. In striving to be meek and patient our best example and most moving inspiration is that of Christ Himself.

A. You have often heard the expression used with regard to some trying person or situation: "He would try the patience of Job."

Job, as you recall, suffered one affliction after another from the Lord, who caused his flocks and herds to be carried away, his land laid waste, his children swiftly killed, and himself to be struck down with the loathsome disease of leprosy.

Job did not murmur against Almighty God. He gave expresson to his patience by declaring: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job, 1:21.

Could there possibly be any greater patience than that of Job? Yes, it was surpassed by the patience of Christ. The iron hand of suffering and persecution rested much more heavily on Christ. Job lost only his material goods; Jesus gave up the indescribable delights of heaven. Job was afflicted in his property and in his health; Jesus gave up His property to be poor, and then went on to be wounded in every part of His body, went on to be loaded with reproaches and revilings, to be treated as an outcast and to end His life on the agonizing and shameful cross. In his sufferings Job had God's consolation; Jesus, in His sufferings, was denied even that, for He cried out from the cross:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"
Job is indeed a model of patience, but the meekness of our suffering Savior surpasses that of the Old Testament Saint.

B. Job did not complain or grumble. That was wonderful patience. But Christ, who bore much more suffering, not only did not complain or cry out, He not only kept no bitterness or ill-will toward His tormentors, He sought no revenge, although He could have wiped them out with a single word, but instead Jesus renders to them good for evil:
i. He heals the ear of the servant after St. Peter, with his hasty temper, had cut it off with a sword.

ii. Christ looks patiently and sorrowfully upon that same St. Peter when the apostle denied Him three times.

iii. Think of the patience Christ showed with the traitor Judas. Jesus knew that he was about to betray Him, yet He suffered the betrayer to eat at the same table with Him, and even, in the garden, to plant a kiss upon our Lord's cheek.

iv. According to many, Christ had a double purpose in His patience during the scourging and crowning with thorns. He not only wanted to give us an example of meekness, but He did not want to arouse the soldiers to greater cruelty and thus increase their guilt.

v. The patient can suffer alone. Christ did not permit His apostles to witness His agony in the garden, lest they be frightened needlessly. He was willing to suffer; He wanted to spare His apostles.

vi. Hanging on the cross, in the throes of death, He gave the perfect example of patience. He called upon His heavenly Father to forgive His tormentors. In the face of such unwavering meekness amidst suffering and torture, how can we grow fretful and peevish at the trifling trials and annoyances of daily life?

9. The meekness of the saints took its source and inspiration in this meekness of the Master.

A. One day the virtuous wife of St. Elzear, the Count of Ariano, in Italy, asked him this question: "Whence comes it that you are never vexed or never seem to be moved, no matter what is done or said to you?"

His reply was as follows: "How could I be angry with anyone, or complain of any wrong that is done me, when I think of the shame wherewith Christ was loaded for my sake? What torments did He not endure for my salvation? The mere thought of His sufferings, and of His surprising charity towards those who tortured Him to death, suffices to cover me with confusion, seeing that I suffer nothing for Him."

B. Early in the thirteenth century there lived in Italy a pious girl by the name of Zita. As her parents were poor she went to work at an early age for a wealthy family. She was an efficient, faithful and cheerful worker, always thoughtful of others. Never did she speak a harsh word to anyone. Her fellow-workers, on the other hand, were mean to her. Every mistake and misdeed they blamed on her. Then they took all the credit for the work which Zita had performed. Patient Zita merely smiled. Her conscience was clear. Every morning she rose before the others and attended Holy Mass. After some years the master and mistress of the house realized the true worth of their servant. They promoted her to the highest place in the household. She could have had her vengeance on those who had tormented her. Cheerfully and charitably she forgot everything. It was not long after her death that the Church declared her a saint, St. Zita, the patient servant girl.

10. Too many people, including some Catholics, have the mistaken idea that meekness is weakness, and that, on the contrary, anger and impatience are an indication of power and strength. The very opposite is the truth. Too many have the idea that patience is a sweet, sugary something reserved for the calm and quiet of the convent. They maintain that it will not wear well in the rough and tumble of everyday life. What a mistake!

Show me a man who can surrender to the bad humor of another; show me a man who can gently endure other people's faults, who can withstand an insulting, sneering glance, who can swallow his pride and petulance when preference is shown to another; show me the man who can give a soft answer to a harsh rebuke; show me the man who can remain unperturbed when refused something he thinks he deserves; show me the man who can show kindness to others, even when they oppose and annoy him - and I will show you a man who is modelled after the God-man, the Master, the meek and patient Savior.

Meekness may not make the headlines. Meekness may not win many of this world's medals, if any at all. Meekness may not seem as manly as fighting for one's rights and telling the world off, as we say. But meekness can win all the worthwhile battles of life. Best of all, it can win that eternal kingdom for which we are all struggling, the kingdom Christ promised when He said:
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth." Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, February 19

Son, always commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose well of it in due season. Wait for My disposal, and thou shalt find it will be for thy advantage.

Lord, I willingly commit all things to Thee, for my care can profit little.
-Bk. III, ch. xxxix.

There is a tree whose roots are fast
In Heaven's soil; but see,
Its leafy canopy is spread
On earth! Love is the tree,
And self-surrender is its fruit.
O loving soul, draw near!
Beneath its shade true peace is found,
When love has cast out fear.

For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 19

There are many things which seem to us mis­fortunes and which we call such; but if we under­stood the designs of God we would call them graces.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)