Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gospel for the 4th Sunday in Advent

From: Luke 1:39-45

The Visitation
[39] In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, [40] and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. [41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [42] and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [43] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
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Commentary:
39-56. We contemplate this episode of our Lady's visit to her cousin St. Elizabeth in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: "Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company...and you will hear the traditions of the House of David.... We walk in haste towards the mountains, to a town of the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:39).

"We arrive. It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. Elizabeth gratefully hails the Mother of her Redeemer: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? (Luke 1:42-43).

"The unborn Baptist quivers...(Luke 1:41). Mary's humility pours forth in the "Magnificat".... And you and I, who are proud--who were proud--promise to be humble" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary").

39. On learning from the angel that her cousin St. Elizabeth is soon to give birth and is in need of support, our Lady in her charity hastens to her aid. She has no regard for the difficulties this involves. Although we do not know where exactly Elizabeth was living (it is now thought to be Ain Karim), it certainly meant a journey into the hill country which at that time would have taken four days.

From Mary's visit to Elizabeth Christians should learn to be caring people. "If we have this filial contact with Mary, we won't be able to think just about ourselves and our problems. Selfish personal problems will find no place in our mind" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By," 145).

42. St. Bede comments that Elizabeth blesses Mary using the same words as the archangel "to show that she should be honored by angels and by men and why she should indeed be revered above all other women" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

When we say the "Hail Mary" we repeat these divine greetings, "rejoicing with Mary at her dignity as Mother of God and praising the Lord, thanking Him for having given us Jesus Christ through Mary" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 333).

43. Elizabeth is moved by the Holy Spirit to call Mary "the mother of my Lord", thereby showing that Mary is the Mother of God.

44. Although he was conceived in sin--original sin--like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb--thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy (cf. Luke 1:15).

St. John Chrysostom comments on this scene of the Gospel: "See how new and how wonderful this mystery is. He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions [...]; he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun; he has not yet been born and he is keen to act as Precursor. The Lord is present, so he cannot contain himself or wait for nature to run its course: he wants to break out of the prison of his mother's womb and he makes sure he witnesses to the fact that the Savior is about to come" ("Sermo Apud Metaphr., Mense Julio").

45. Joining the chorus of all future generations, Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, declares the Lord's Mother to be blessed and praises her faith. No one ever had faith to compare with Mary's; she is the model of the attitude a creature should have towards its Creator--complete submission, total attachment. Through her faith, Mary is the instrument chosen by God to bring about the Redemption; as Mediatrix of all graces, she is associated with the redemptive work of her Son: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to His death; first when Mary, arising in haste to go to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her belief in the promise of salvation and the Precursor leaps with joy in the womb of his mother [...]. The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood (cf. John 19:25), in keeping with the Divine Plan, enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 57f).

The new Latin text gives a literal rendering of the original Greek when it says "quae credidit" (RSV "she who has believed") as opposed to the Vulgate "quae credidisti" ("you who have believed") which gave more of the sense than a literal rendering.
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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.

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Principles and Practices - December 20

HOW TO BECOME A PERFECT CHRISTIAN

The perfection to which a Christian can attain is only relative. It consists in tending un­ceasingly and without flagging or desistance towards absolute perfection. This, however, re­mains an ideal which must be the more indefatigably pursued inasmuch as it is not altogether to be fully attained. To strive constantly to realize within that full and perfect justice which excludes all sin, however slight, such is the vocation of the fervent Christian; He who develops charity within himself in such a way as habitually to avoid mortal sin and to reduce the number of lighter faults, has entered the way of perfection and may be called a perfect Christian.

-P. Pourrat.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 19

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

THOUGHTS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD

[Continued from yesterday]

O King of glory, Jesus, my Saviour! what mar­velous virtue Thou dost display in this flood of sorrows, sufferings, and humiliations, which over­whelmed Thy heart! What meekness, what resig­nation, what patience, what charity! Thou dost pray for those who torture Thee. Thou offerest Thy sufferings for those who persecute and afflict Thee.

How unlike I am to Thee, my divine Model!

How great is the change that must be effected in me, if I wish to be Thy true disciple and to bear a resemblance to Thee! In all sincerity, however, I pray: "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine."

How different a rule of life, how great a reform of conduct is required of me before I shall be able to say with the Apostle: "I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."

How unwilling I am to bear the slight­est pain! How I shrink from the lightest cross! How impatient I am in sufferings, disappoint­ments, and contradictions! And yet the Holy Spirit tells us, "Jesus Christ suffered for us, leav­ing us an example, that we should follow His steps"; and again, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer."

How the Apostles, the martyrs, and all the saints have suffered! But they entered with firm tread the grotto of the agony and stood bravely by the cross. They rejoiced in suffering and per­secution because they became thereby more like to Christ; they bore in mind that great and abun­dant merit is attached to patient endurance of trials; they remembered that those who suffer with Christ, those who tread courageously the royal road of the cross to Calvary, shall also as­cend with Him to heaven and reign with Him in immortal glory.

Henceforth I will look upon pains and suffer­ings and humiliations as blessings sent me from Heaven as a means to make me become more Christlike, to atone for my sins, to wean me from the love of self and the gratification of my pas­sions, to teach me the vanity of the world, to lead me to greater perfection - in a word, to make me a saint. I will remember my Saviour's words: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me."
(Luke ix. 23).

I will accept with resignation and bear with patience every cross that comes to me, mindful of the Apostle's words, "We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good" (Rom. iii. 28).
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Principles and Practices - December 19

THE STREAM OF THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS

Cheerfulness is the daughter of innocence and charity; and therefore the soul that is the seat of guilelessness and pure affection, is habitually joyous. 'The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just' (Ps. cxvii, 15). 'The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost' (Rom. xiv, 17). Cheerfulness does not consist in a fitful, gushing, and boisterous mirthfulness which soon evaporates, but it is a steady stream of the milk of human kindness flowing from a serene heart at peace with God and man. A person of a happy frame of mind is not affected by the clouds and sun­shine of daily life: 'Rich or poor, if his heart is good, his countenance shall be cheerful at all times' (Ecclus. xxvi, 4).

-Cardinal Gibbons.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 18

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

THOUGHTS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD


O good and merciful Jesus! What a flood of bitterness deluged Thy soul, what a torrent of humiliation overwhelmed Thee in Thy passion, from Gethsemane to Calvary!

When I contemplate Thee in Thy bitter pas­sion, looking at my crucifix, and reflecting on all Thy sufferings of soul and body - on Thy mental anguish and dereliction; on Thy agony in the garden; Thy betrayal by Judas; the rudeness of the soldiers dragging and striking Thee and spit­ting in Thy face; Thy contemptuous treatment at the tribunal of the haughty priests Annas and Caiphas; Thy shameful mockery and humiliation at the court of Herod, where Thou wert treated as a fool; the cruel scourging and crowning with thorns, which made Thee so pitiable in appearance as to cause even the Roman governor to exclaim, "Ecce Homo!" and the Royal Psalmist to lament in prophetic vision, "I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people"; the derisive yells and the brutal cry of the frenzied and blood-thirsty rabble, "Cru­cify him!" the carrying of the heavy cross in Thy enfeebled condition; the painful meeting with Thy sorrowful Mother, and at length the dreadful crucifixion between two thieves, and the hours of suffering on Calvary, which ended in Thy death amid the awful gloom and convulsive desolation of nature - reflecting upon all these pains and torments, insults and outrages, to which Thou wert subjected in Thy passion, I bow my head in shame and sorrow on account of my many sins, and deeply regret my self-in­dulgence and pride, which have led me so often to abuse Thy graces, to forget Thy love, and to wound Thy Sacred Heart....
[Continued tomorrow]
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week in Advent

From: Matthew 1:18-25

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth
[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. [20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; [21] she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: [23] "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and His name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means God with us). [24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, [25] but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
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Commentary:
18. St. Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Luke 1:25-38): "We truly honor and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a person who is at the same time both God and man"("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 7).

According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The marriage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought solemnly and joyously to her husband's house (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7).

From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.

The entire account of Jesus' birth teaches, through the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in verses 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has David as His ancestor since Joseph is His legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child's conception without the intervention of man was miraculous.

19. "St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as `a just man'. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone who fulfills the divine will (cf. Genesis 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezekiel 18:5ff.; Proverbs 12:10), or who is honorable and charitable toward his neighbor (cf. Tobias 7:6; 9:6). So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God's commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers, his fellow men" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 40).

Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Precisely because he was trying to do God's will, he felt obliged to put her away; but to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.

Mary's silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God.

God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Mary to a severe trial. We ought not to be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faithful to Him, following the example they gave us.

20. God gives His light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in His power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understanding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan's messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12). As St. John Chrysostom says: "At the very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him, through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his lineage" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 4).

"The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when He assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men, from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same person, remaining God as He was from eternity, became man, which He was not before" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 1).

21. According to the Hebrew root, the name Jesus means "savior". After our Lady, St. Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.

"Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies `Savior'--a name given Him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God" [...]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God--Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6)--are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which He was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 3, 5 and 6).

23. "Emmanuel": the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about 700 years in advance that God's salvation would be marked by the extraordinary event of virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths.

First, that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf. Pius VI, Brief, "Divina", 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only because of His God-given mission but because He is God made man (cf. John 1:14).

This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this name refers more directly to the mystery of His being the Incarnate Word. At the Annunciation the angel said that He should be called Jesus, that is, Savior. And that was the name St. Joseph gave Him.

The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived was precisely that a woman would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.

"Jesus Christ came forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 4, 8).

25. St John Chrysostom, addressing himself to St Joseph, comments: "Christ's conception was the work of the Holy Spirit, but do not think this divine economy has nothing to do with you. For although it is true that you had no part in the generation of Christ, and that the Virgin remained inviolate, nevertheless, what pertains to a father (not injuring the honour of virginity) that do I give you - the naming of the child. For 'you shall call his name.' Although you have not generated him, you will act as a father to him. Hence it is that, beginning with giving him his name, I associate you intimately with the one who is to be born" (Hom. on St Matthew, 4).

Following the Greek text strictly, the New Vulgate version says: "et non cognoscebat eam, donec peperit filium." The literal English translation is: "and he knew her not until she had borne a son". The word donec (until) of itself does not direct our attention to what happened afterwards; it simply points out what has happened up to that moment, that is, the virginal conception of Jesus Christ by a unique intervention of God. We find the same word in John 9:18, where it says that the Pharisees did not believe in the miraculous cure of the man blind from birth "until" (donec) they called his parents. However, neither did they believe afterwards. Consequently, the word "until" does not refer to what happens later.

The Vulgate adds after filium the words suum primogenitum, which in the Bible simply means "the first son", without implying that there are any other drildren (cf. Ex 13:2). This Latin variant gives no ground whatsoever for thinking that our Lady had other children later. See the note on Luke 2:7.

The Church has always taught that the perpetual virginity of our Lady is a truth to be held by Catholics. For example, the following are the words of the Lateran Council of A.D. 649: "If anyone does not profess according to the holy Fathers that in the proper and true sense the holy, ever-virgin, immaculate Mary, is the Mother of God, since in this last age not with human seed but of the Holy Spirit she properly and truly conceived the Divine Word, who was born of God me Father before all ages, and gave him birth without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after his birth: let such a one be condemned" (can. 3).

St Jerome gives the following reasons why it was fitting that the Mother of God, as well as being a virgin, should also be married: first, so that Mary's child would be clearly a descendant of King David (through the genealogy of St Joseph); second, to ensure that on having a son her honour would not be questioned nor any legal penalty be imposed on her; third, so that during the flight into Egypt she would have the help and protection of St Joseph. He even points to a fourth possible reason, expressly taken from St Ignatius Martyr, and to which he seems to give less importance - that the birth of Jesus would go unnoticed by the devil, who would not know about the virginal conception of our Lord (cf. Comm. on St Matthew, 1, 1).
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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.

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Principles and Practices - December 18

MEANS TO ACQUIRE THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE

The first means is to keep the heart detached from wealth and money; because from this sordid attachment it is that all the wrongs done to our neighbour take their rise, as well as all the faults committed against the virtue of justice.

St. Basil says that we have justice and a sense of fair dealing instilled into our heart by nature herself; but our inordinate attachment to wealth and love of riches overcloud this shining light, distort the good inclination we have of acting according to what is right, and lead us to infringe the prescriptions of justice, and so to become the unrighteous possessors of what belongs to another.

-J.B. Scaramelli, S.J.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 17

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

THE KNEELING CAMEL


The camel at the close of day
Kneels down upon the sandy plain
To have his burden lifted off
And rest to gain.

My soul, thou too shouldst to thy knees
When daylight draweth to a close,
And let thy Master lift thy load
And grant repose.

Else how canst thou to-morrow meet,
With all to-morrow's work to do,
If thou thy burden all the night
Dost carry through?

The camel kneels at break of day
To have his guide replace his load,
Then rises up again to take
The desert road.

So thou shouldst kneel at morning's dawn
That God may give the daily care,
Assured that He no load too great
Will make thee bear.

-Anna Temple.
(By permission of the author).

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The Son of man must suffer many things...and be killed. And He said to all:
If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
-Luke ix. 22-23
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gospel for Thursday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 1:1-17

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ
[1] The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.

[2] Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, [3] and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, [4] and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahson, and Nahson the father of Salmon, [5] and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz due father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, [6] and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, [7] and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, [8] and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, [9] and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, [10] and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, [11] and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

[12] And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, [13] and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, [14] and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Aching and Achim the father of Eliud, [15] and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, [16] and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

[17] So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
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Commentary:

1. This verse is a kind of title to St Matthew's entire Gospel. The promises God made to Abraham for the salvation of mankind (Gen 12:3) are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as is Nathan's prophecy to King David of an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-16).

The genealogy presented here by St Matthew shows Jesus' human ancestry and also indicates that salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the expected Messiah.

The genealogy is presented in a framework of three series, each consisting of fourteen links which show the progressive development of salvation history.

For the Jews (and for other Eastern peoples of nomadic origin) genealogical trees were of great importance because a person's identity was especially linked to family and tribe, with place of birth taking secondary importance. In the case of the Jewish people there was the added religious significance of belonging by blood to the chosen people.

In Christ's time each family still kept a careful record of its genealogical tree, since because of it people acquired rights and duties.

6. Four women are named in these genealogies--Tamar (cf. Gen 38; 1 Chron 2: 4), Rahab (cf. Josh 2:6,17), Bathsheba (cf. 2 Sam 11:12, 24) and Ruth (cf. Book of Ruth). These four foreign women, who in one way or another are brought into the history of Israel, are one sign among many others of God's design to save all men.

By mentioning sinful people, God's ways are shown to be different from man's. God will sometimes carry out his plan of salvation by means of people whose conduct has not been just. God saves us, sanctifies us and chooses us to do good despite our sins and infidelities--and he chose to leave evidence of this at various stages in the history of our salvation.

11. The deportation to Babylon, described in 2 Kings 24-25, fulfilled the prophets' warning to the people of Israel and their kings that they would be punished for their infidelity to the commandments of the Law of God, especially the first commandment.

16. Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Joseph, being Mary's husband, was the legal father of Jesus. The legal father is on a par with the real father as regards rights and duties. This fact provides a sound basis for recognizing St Joseph as Patron of the whole Church, since he was chosen to play a very special role in God's plan for our salvation; with St Joseph as his legal father, Jesus the Messiah has David as his ancestor.

Since it was quite usual for people to marry within their clan, it can be concluded that Mary belonged to the house of David. Several early Fathers of the Church testify to this--for example, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus, St Justin and Tertullian, who base their testimony on an unbroken oral tradition.

It should also be pointed out that when St Matthew comes to speak of the birth of Jesus, he uses an expression which is completely different from that used for the other people in the genealogy. With these words the text positively teaches that Mary conceived Jesus while still a virgin, without the intervention of man.
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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.

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Principles and Practices - December 17

MAKING OTHERS HAPPY

To spend each day in trying to make another happy - oh! what a noble word. It is to approach God in the most intimate manner; for is it not the constant occupation of this good Master?

-Golden Grains.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 16

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

THORNS AND ROSES


Many grown-up persons, when they are in af­fliction, act like the child about whom I read the following anecdote. He wanted to pluck a beau­tiful flower he saw on a rose-tree, but he set about it so awkwardly that he tore his hand with the thorns. Then he burst into tears and loudly abused the rose-tree. His mother deftly took hold of the thorny stem in such a way that her fingers were not pricked, cut off three of the finest roses and held them out to the boy, say­ing as she did so: "Are you still angry with the rose-tree?"

"No, mother, not now," he replied with a joyous smile.

Thus do we, poor, short-sighted mortals, allow ourselves to grow angry with the thorns, that is to say, with the sorrows of life which pierce our hands when we wish to gather the roses of joy. We fail to understand how we ought to deal with these thorns; I mean, how we ought to bear sufferings and contradictions with patience, with resignation to the will of God, with a stead­fast hope of heaven.

Therefore in all sufferings, be they great or small, remember how blessed are the fruits of patience. Never murmur nor complain, do not give way to discontent nor anger, do not say: It is not right that this should have happened to me, etc.

Of chance or fate to speak is vain; God's wisdom doth man's lot ordain.

Visit the churchyard where so many crosses and gravestones remind you of the life to come; pause beside the tomb of a Christian maiden who led an innocent and pious life but who was mis­understood and despised by those around her, and who had much to suffer while on earth. If you could ask her whether she were willing to return to this world in order to begin a new but happier existence, what would she reply? "No," she would answer, "not for anything the world could give! For what could be a better lot for me than that which gained for me eternal bliss in heaven!"

If you, too, have much to suffer, rejoice, en­dure all things with patience, in the sure con­viction that patience bears blessed fruits, the fruits of endless joy.

One "Blessed be God" in the time of adversity is worth more than "I thank you" said a thou­sand times in prosperity.
-St. John of Avila.

There is no sign more certain that one is of the number of the elect than, while leading a Christian life, to be the subject of sufferings, desolations, and trials.
-St. Louis Gonzaga.

As God knows what is good and useful for us, He gives to each of us what will tend most to His glory, to our own salvation, and the good of our neighbor. We deceive ourselves, then, and consult our own interest but little, if wo do not abandon ourselves entirely to His good pleasure.
-St. Teresa.

Be assured that we shall obtain more grace and merit in one day by suffering patiently the afflictions which come to us from God or from our neighbor, than we could acquire in ten years by mortifications and other exercises which are of our choice.
-St. Francis of Sales.

We must try to make ourselves ready to accept whatever God sends, whether painful or pleas­ant. We must take willingly and cheerfully sick­ness, pain, unkindness, neglect, failure, poverty; and though nature may cry out against it, yet we must keep our will united to God's so as to be always able to say: "Not my will be done, O my God, but Thine."
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Author Calls on US Bishops to Reform Catholic News Service (CNS)

Says powerful USCCB news agency rebuked by Archbishop Burke for good reason

Catholic News Service has long been viewed with a suspicious eye by "conservative" Catholic groups, but any perception that this wariness is confined to some traditionalist fringe, however, was officially put to rest earlier this year.

By January 2009, CNS' failure to consistently apply reliably Catholic editorial standards had become so problematic that Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura at the Vatican, was moved to take the extraordinarily bold step of criticizing CNS from Rome...
More here:
Part 1
&
Part 2

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Milwaukee Archbishop: You Can’t Call Yourself Catholic and Support Contraception

MILWAUKEE, December 15, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The incoming Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki, has responded to a campaign by "Young Catholics for Choice" to promote use of contraception and abortion among Catholic youth.

Using media advertising the group is, says the Archbishop-Designate, "attempting to convey the message that Catholics can disregard Church teaching regarding contraception, abortion and human sexuality in general and remain Catholics in good standing." However, "Nothing could be further from the truth."...
More here.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gospel for Wednesday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Luke 7:18b-23

The Mission of John the Baptist

[18b] The disciples of John (the Baptist) told him of all these things. [19] And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are You He who is to come, or shall we look for another?" [20] And when the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You He who is to come, or shall we look for another?'" [21] In that hour He cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind He bestowed sight. [22] And He answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. [23] And blessed is he who takes no offense at Me."
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Commentary:
18-23. "It was not out of ignorance that John enquired about Christ's coming in the flesh, for he had already clearly professed his belief, saying, 'I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God' (John 1:34). That is why he does not ask, 'Are You He who has come?' but rather, 'Are You He who is to come?' thus asking about the future, not about the past. Nor should we think that the Baptist did not know about Christ's future passion, for it was John who said, 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world' (John 1:29), thus foretelling His future immolation, which other prophets had already foretold, particularly Isaiah (chapter 53) [...]. It can also be replied, with St. John Chrysostom, that John made this enquiry not from doubt or ignorance, but because he wished his disciples to be satisfied on this point by Christ. Therefore, Christ gave His reply to instruct these disciples, by pointing to the evidence of His miracles (verse 22)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", II-II, q. 2, a. 7 ad 2).

22. In His reply to these disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus points to the miracles He has worked, which show that he has investigated the Kingdom of God; He is, therefore, the promised Messiah. Along with miracles, one of the signs of the coming of the Kingdom is the preaching of salvation to the poor. On the meaning of "the poor", see the notes on Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20 and 6:24.

Following the Lord's example, the Church has always taken special care of those in need. In our own time the Popes have stressed time and again the duties of Christians in regard to poverty caused by man's injustice to man: "Selfishness and domination are permanent temptations for men. Likewise an ever finer discernment is needed, in order to strike at the roots of newly arising situations of injustice and to establish progressively a justice which will be less and less imperfect [...]. The Church directs her attention to these new 'poor'--the handicapped, the maladjusted, the old, various groups on the fringe of society--in order to recognize them, help them, defend their place and dignity in a society hardened by competition and the attraction of success" (Paul VI, "Octogesima Adveniens", 15).

23. These words refer to the same thing Simeon prophesied about when he referred to Christ as a sign that is spoken against, a sign of contradiction (cf. Luke 2:34). People who reject our Lord, who are scandalized by Him, will not reach Heaven.
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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.

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Principles and Practices - December 16

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOUR

Is there anything we do to our neighbour that we would not have done to ourselves? Do we willingly fall in with his wishes? ­Do we take to heart his sorrows? Are we really anxious to console, serve, and comfort him? Ah, my sisters, as a rule we like to be preferred to him and yet you see to what this commandment obliges us; so give it, I implore you, your careful and serious consideration. Our nearest neighbours are our own dear sisters with whom we live. Hence do I exhort you to reciprocal and cordial love of one another.

-St. J. F. de Chantal.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 15

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

BE ANGRY, AND SIN NOT: LET NOT THE SUN GO DOWN UPON YOUR ANGER


In so far as anger gets the mastery over a man, in so far does he lose the dominion which he ought to possess over lower things, and so far he displaces reason from its throne. Our Saviour says: "In patience shall ye keep possession of your souls" (Luke xxi. 19); and in almost every language a man in great anger is said to be out of himself. I shall not give advice regarding those great excesses of fury which are too common in the world, but are surely unknown to interior men. Even by much less impatience and rebel­lion and by much smaller impetuosities devout souls can lose their peace of mind, can increase the habit of selfishness and diminish greatly the meri t of good works.

The most solitary life affords opportunities for exercising patience. Many crosses are permitted by God's providence to come to us from without, impatience in regard to which may be inter­preted as impatience against God. He that would be perfect must therefore observe the light­est motions of the heart, for it can be stirred by the vilest creatures, such as insects, flies, etc., or even by inanimate things, like pens and ink.

The following are the degrees of patience to be ascended before its perfection can be attained:
The first is to have a serious desire of patience, with an endeavor to hold it in our higher will under any provocation. If this cannot be done at first, then to procure it as soon as may be, be­fore the sun sets, or in our next recollection; and at least to restrain our tongue and members from expressing impatience, even though it show itself in sour looks. A person that cannot generally ab­stain from wilful angry speech, or, what is worse, from passionate action, has not yet reached the lowest grade of patience.

The second degree is to guard the heart that no cross or contradiction may enter therein to disturb it, esteeming the provocation as not worth considering save as an opportunity of merit.

The third is to use mild words and friendly looks to those that provoke us, desiring and en­deavoring to lay obligations upon them.

The fourth is, with holy David, to "expect up­braiding and affliction"; not perhaps seeking such mortifications, but at least not anxiously avoiding them. God ofttimes inspires His ser­vants to desire or seek occasions for patience. St. Syncletica begged St. Athanasius to assign her some cross, ill-natured person to wait upon; and when her prayer was granted, attained such per­fection of patience as to suffer the woman's frowned tempers with facility and joy.

The fifth degree is to bear with resignation and peace avidities and interior crosses, which are far more grievous than external ones, especially that great desolation which God sends for the purify­ing of the perfect.

The sixth and supreme degree of patience is to suffer all these things, not with quietness only, but with joy. This is something more than human - a supernatural gift of God whereby the su­perior will embraces sufferings without repug­nance, and even the lower nature endures them without resistance, even when coming suddenly and unexpectedly.
Without pure internal prayer all other efforts to obtain patience will produce little else than a philosophical resignation, mingled with secret and natural motives. By prayer joined with pa­tience at other times the very soul will be rec­tified, and will come by degrees to an estab­lished peacefulness that nothing can disturb.
-Baker: Custodia Cordis.
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Gospel for Tuesday. 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 21:28-32

The Parable of the Two Sons
(Jesus told the chief priests and the elders,) [28] "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' [29] And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterwards he repented and went. [30] And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. [31] Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. [32] For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
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Commentary:
32. St. John the Baptist had shown the way to sanctification by proclaiming the imminence of the Kingdom of God and by preaching conversion. The scribes and Pharisees would not believe him, yet they boasted of their faithfulness to God's teaching. They were like the son who says "I will go" and then does not go; the tax collectors and prostitutes who repented and corrected the course of their lives will enter the Kingdom before them: they are like the other son who says "I will not", but then does go. Our Lord stresses that penance and conversion can set people on the road to holiness even if they have been living apart from God for a long time.

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Principles and Practices - December 15

THE WRONG VIEW AND THE RIGHT

There are not a few who act and speak as if the pleasant things were always wrong and the unpleasant things mostly right, who feel it a reason sufficient in itself for not doing a thing that they like it.

Before their eyes there ever stretches the dreary and barren road of duty, en­circled on all sides by the rich and fair pastures that are forbidden.

As soon even as a duty becomes a pleasure they feel that it has begun to lose its value.

Such is not the teaching of Our Lord in the Beati­tudes. He would have men realize that the pathway of virtue is rich with happiness, that the struggle after the virtues which He commands is the struggle after the truest, highest, and most enduring form of happiness.

-B.W. Maturin.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 14

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

SUFFERING WITH CHRIST


Let us remember that suffering is a means of expiation and thus of fitting our own souls and those of others for immediate admittance to heaven.

"Oh happy penance," said St. John of the Cross, "which has merited me so great a glory!"

But numbers of those who suffer make no use of their opportunities.

It is not enough to suffer; we have to accept, and unite ourselves with Christ. The mere vi­bration of the nerves or the smart of the spirit is of no value whatever. There must be the act of the heart.

But how sweet an exercise it is when we feel the scourge, the thorns, and the nails, of Jesus Christ, to unite our hearts with His and to say:
O my Saviour, the act of Thy heart, intensified by suffering, destroyed sin, chained the demon, saved the world, and opened the fountains of grace; use my few sufferings for the same grand work of expiation!

They have no merit or efficacy of their own; but, as long as I live in Thee and Thou in me, my sufferings do Thy work (however feebly), and minister to the expiation of my own sins and those of other men.
-The Spirit of Bishop Hedley.
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gospel for Dec 14, Memorial: St John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor

Monday, 3rd Week of Advent

From: Matthew 21:23-27

The Authority of Jesus is Questioned
[23] And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" [24] Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you a question; and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. [25] The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' [26] But if we say, 'From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet." [27] So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
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Commentary:
23-27. When the chief priests and elders ask "By what authority are you doing these things?" they are referring both to his teaching and to his self-assured public actions--throwing the traders out of the Temple, entering Jerusalem in triumph, allowing the children to acclaim him, curing the sick, etc. What they want him to do is to prove that he has authority to act in this way or to admit openly that he is the Messiah. However, Jesus knows that they are not well-intentioned and he declines to give them a direct answer; he prefers to put a question to them that forces them to make their own attitude clear. He seeks to provoke them into examining their consciences and changing their whole approach.
___________________________
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.

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Principles and Practices - December 14

THINK OF THE FOUNDATION

'You aspire,' says St. Austin, 'to great things, begin with little ones; you desire to erect a very high building, think first of the foundation of humility. The foundations are always sunk proportionably to the intended weight of the building, and the higher one intends it, the deeper must the foundations be laid.'

-Rodriguez.
_________________
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

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Patience - December 13

Patience
Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings

THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST
[Continued from yesterday]


...And when the cross had been lifted up, suffering, for yet three hours, lingered in the silence of the darkness; for yet three hours - and then her mis­sion was at an end; and, as when a dark cloud breaks and the rains stream upon the earth, suffering, since that day, has fallen on men and women in every age and over all the world, and every drop has been full of the fragrance of the cross.

The passion of our Lord and Saviour, there­fore, is intended to unite our hearts to His in that easy and sweet worship which is founded upon compassion.

Mental prayer should often take the passion for its subject; we should follow with loving care each step of Him Who bore our sorrows, from the Supper even to Calvary.

There is nothing that happens in which the heart will not be directed, profited, and lifted up by connecting it with the passion. Especially will this be found true in the commonest of all the events of a life on earth - hardship, trouble, and sorrow. When these things come upon us, there is no solid comfort or support unless we leave self and creatures, and turn to God. To resist, to fret, to bewail ourselves, to give way to impatience, to seek consolation in sin or im­perfection, to indulge in murmuring or in dissi­pation of spirit - these things palliate trouble; but they leave it rooted in the soul. Only one thing plucks it out, and that is to turn with it to Christ. My Lord and my Master, we may say to Him, Thou didst suffer - and suffer far more than this. To Thee, suffering was familiar; Thou didst choose it for Thy lot and Thy in­heritance - and I, I dread it and refuse it!

By Thy loving acceptance of pain, give me the cour­age to accept all that I have to suffer! By Thy meekness, extinguish the natural disturbance of my breast against those who injure me! By Thy lifting up of Thy heart, teach me how to make use of physical pain! By Thy silence, help me to repress murmurs and complainings. By Thine ardent love of Thy heavenly Father, enable me to understand how affection may intensify my love of my Godl Acts like this, made perhaps with the crucifix in hand, will calm the resistance and the outcry of nature, and will diffuse a holy peace and a brave resignation throughout our faculties, as if Jesus laid His hand upon us, and caused virtue to go out from Him, and healed our imperfections with the balsam of His own sovereign being.

-Bishop Hedley.
____________________
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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