Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just for Today, March 16

When the grace of God comes to a man, then he is strong and powerful for all things; and when it departs, then he is poor and weak, left, as it were, only to stripes.

In these he must not be dejected nor despair, but stand with an even mind, resigned to the will of God, and bear for the glory of Christ whatever shall befall him: because after winter comes summer; after the night the day returns; after a storm there follows a great calm.
-Bk. II. ch. viii.

I can now look back upon the past; my soul has been plunged into the crucible of suffering, and has been matured by many trials, both interior and exterior. Just as a flower lifts its head when the storm is over, so I can look up and realize that the words of the Psalmist have been fulfilled in me: The Lord ruleth me and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment: he hath converted my soul....Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me (Ps. xxii).

Yes, the Lord has ever been compassionate and merci­ful, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy (Ps. cii) to­wards me. I rejoice in this opportunity of singing the praises of His unspeakable goodness, and I am going to write, for your eyes alone, the life-story of the little flower that Jesus has plucked.
-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 - March 16

In prayer we should particularly combat our predominant passion or evil inclination. We should devote continual attention to it, because when it is once conquered we will easily obtain the victory over all our other faults.

-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 March 16, The Master Key

The evening of Palm Sunday, St. Gertrude was meditating on the reception Mary, Martha and Lazarus had given to Our Lord at Bethany; and she was carried away with the desire to offer to Our Savior an ardent welcome to her heart.

Then suddenly Jesus manifested Himself to her, saying, "Here I am! What do wish to give me?"

"Oh!" replied Gertrude, "welcome, Solace of my soul, my only Treasure. Alas! I have prepared nothing suitable for Your great­ness, but I offer You my whole being, asking that You prepare in me what would be most pleasing to Your Heart."

"Since you give Me the liberty, I will do it," answered Our Lord, "but you will have to give me the key that My hand may be able to open your heart and dispose of whatsoever I wish."

"What is this key that I must give you?" asked the Saint. "It is," answered Jesus, "your will."

Submit your will; that is the key which permits Our Lord to give Himself as He wishes to the religious soul; he who gives the key to the apartment gives the whole apartment; the one who gives his will reserves nothing for himself.

"Lord Jesus, You know that like St. Gertrude, I want You to be the sole and sovereign Master of my being. I offer You my poor will with all its possibilities, with all its power of enthusiasm, as well as its fear of making a complete gift and its instinctive tendency to hold back.

You know where to find the key; take it Yourself; may there no longer be anything in me which belongs to me; may I belong entirely to You. O my Good Master, be a real Master to me."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Reflections & Meditations for Palm Sunday

There are several reflections/meditation available for Palm Sunday:

Gospel for Palm Sunday (At the Procession with Palms)

Homily/Reflection for Palm Sunday

A Meditation for Palm Sunday - His Dying Words

Meditation for Palm Sunday - Faith

Why is this day called Palm Sunday?

A Meditation for Palm Sunday - Duties of Teachers

A Meditation for the Week - Eucharistic Devotions

Gospel for the Solemnity: St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Old Calendar: St. Louise de Marillac, widow

From: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

The Ancestry of Jesus Christ (Continuation)

[16] And Jacob, (was) the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, ofwhom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

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." [24a] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.


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 Joseph as his legal father, Jesus the Messiah has David as his successor.

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.

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 different 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).

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, March 14, 2008

Lenten Reflection: Sloth, the Seventh Capital Sin

"Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep, and an idle soul shall suffer hunger." Proverbs, 19:15.

At Long Beach, California, tnere is a section called Signal Hill. Some years ago two lots and a house were for sale on that hill. A man and his wife were looking for a place to live. Here was an ideal location. Here they could look down over the picturesque city of Long Beach stretching along the Pacific. And the price was most reasonable - only $1500. They were on the point of purchasing the place, when his wife objected: "I don't want to climb that hill every day."

As a result they did not purchase the property. Imagine their regret when they heard a short time later that oil had been discovered on Signal Hill. They had lost a golden opportunity; they had passed up a chance to be millionaires.

Their regret only grew as the fame and productiveness of the spot in­creased. Everyone of its 1350 acres yielded 322,000 barrels of oil. Since 1921 Signal Hill has produced upwards of 435 million barrels of crude oil, which would be valued at about the same number of dollars. The black gold gushes in streams from over 890 producing wells.

The man who had failed to buy the house and two lots at the paltry price of $1500, later estimated that at the lowest figure he had lost at least two million dollars.

And the wife who had refused to walk up that hill? Who can describe her feelings of remorse at her unwillingness to make that little effort to climb the hill? How miserable she must have felt ,when she saw that "black gold" gushing so profusely from the spot which might have been hers. Too late she realized that she would not have had to climb that hill very often. They could have leased the lots and lived in luxury elsewhere. But that chance was gone - through her refusal to climb a hill, through her selfish sloth.

Many another treasure has been missed through this sin of sloth, the seventh of the capital sins. Many a blessing of soul and body has been lost through spiritual and physical laziness. Many will never get to heaven because they are unwilling to climb the hill that leads to our home above.

This story is particularly fitting during Lent when we walk the way of the cross with Christ and follow Him as He climbs a hill, the cross on His bruised and burning back. Our Savior gave His all to climb that hill, so that we might all share the unlimited riches that gush forth from the gashes in His hands and feet and side. Sloth has kept many from climbing that hill, just as sloth kept the couple of our story from climbing a hill to material riches.

1. What is sloth? The sin of sloth means an excessive love of ease and idleness, an unwillingness to exert the body or the soul. Sloth means a laziness that leads to neglecting either our physical or spiritual duties.

Sloth, the seventh capital sin, is a distress of soul at the thought of what one has to do in order to secure or to keep the friendship of God.

2. Since we intend to emphasize spiritual sloth, rather than physical lazi­ness, as the former is more important, we should point out at the very begin­ning the difference between sloth and lukewarmness. Lukewarmness or tepidity, as it is sometimes called, is a decided distaste for religious and spiritual things in general. This dislike causes a person to perform his reli­gious duties in a careless, indifferent, lazy manner.

Sloth, on the other hand, is a disgust for spiritual practices, so strong that it makes a person disregard and even despise the friendship of God. We must not confuse either of these sins with what is usually called dry­ness, that is, a certain difficulty or drag in performing our spiritual duties. Sloth and lukewarmness are voluntary, and hence sinful; dryness is invol­untary, and hence not sinful.

3. How serious a sin is sloth? Sloth is seriously sinful for two main rea­sons:

A. It makes a man neglect the principal purpose of his life, the one thing necessary, namely, the salvation of his soul. Accordingly, it is a sin against the charity he owes himself, the love he should have for his own soul and salvation.

B. Sloth is directly opposed to the commandment that we love God with our whole heart, and our whole mind, and our whole strength, and our whole soul. In other words, sloth is opposed to the first and principal commandment, that of loving God.

C. Accordingly, sloth is a mortal sin, when it is fully voluntary, fully willed, and when it makes a person regret or neglect serious duties and obligations or even less important ones. It is a venial sin when it is not entirely voluntary.

D. Tepidity or lukewarmness, which means a careless, lazy performance of our religious duties, is not in itself seriously sinful, but it is extremely dangerous. It often leads to sloth. Our Lord used some strong language about tepidity or carelessness.
"I would that thou were cold or hot. But because thou are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth." Apocalypse, 3:16.

4. Sloth betrays itself in many ways:

A. In avoiding as much as possible all manual labor or physical effort. The wife in our story, by refusing to climb that hill, showed her physical sloth and laziness. Of course, in a day when people aro heart-trouble conscious, the wife might have feared that the climb would be harmful to her heart. She may even have had heart trouble. But the story does not say anything about that. However, we must be careful in judging people who are physically slow and even apparently lazy.

B. In seeking bodily ease and comfort. Look at the Catholic who slouches and lounges at Mass, and you are looking at a slothful person. To be at ease at times is good for the body and the mind, but constantly to seek the easiest position and the softest chair is definitely harmful to both body and soul.

C. In a dislike for concentrating the mind in some mental effort, or the soul in some spiritual act. Physical laziness is more or less evident, and is more or less ugly and repulsive. But mental laziness is not always so evident, yet it is even more common. You have all met the man and the woman who cannot be aroused to take in a new idea. They regulate their lives and their thinking by some out-worn formula, by some rule or fad that was in vogue in the distant past. Such people might even be energetic, hardworking as far as their bodies are concerned, but their minds are inactive, sluggish, lazy. They will never change their viewpoint. They will never fit in their thinking with changed conditions, with newly discovered facts, and with a new approach to old problems.

Among such, I class those Catholics who never read a good Catholic paper, magazine or pamphlet, and least of all a good Catholic book. Their religious ideas are those of mere beginners. They do not know, for example, that there is a Christian, Catholic, and thoroughly scientific explanation of evolution. They are too lazy to learn what the Catholic Church teaches on questions like labor and management, the Pope's points for world peace, and similar questions of the day. They are mentally lazy. According to your time and ability you should continue studying your religion.

D. In putting off things that must be done. Such procrastination has been called "the thief of time," and rightly so. Those who live in "Put-off Town" are the sons and daughters of sloth. They will put off answering a letter. They will put off paying a bill. They wil1 put off visiting a sick person. Yes, they will put off doing the dishes and finishing the washing, wasting precious minutes and even hours.

The worst citizen of "Put-off Town" is the Catholic who puts off going to the sacraments, who puts off saying his prayers until he is too sleepy to center his mind on them, who puts off changing his ways for the better in religious matters. His eldest children are called, "Plenty of Time," "No Hurry," and "Wait a While."

E. In giving up before a task is completed. How many lack this sterling stick-to-it-iveness. They start mowing the lawn, but quit when they are half finished. They paint one side of the garage and stop before they even see the other side.

But the worst quitters, for such we must call them, are the spiritual quitters, men and women who start out Lent, for example with the determination to attend Mass every day, or to perform some special penance. How long do they last? The least lazy excuse makes them give up their resolution. During Lent pareticularly slothful souls must watch our Lord closely see Him persevering for forty long days in the desert, must watch him as He perseveres through the bitter tortures of His passion, must watch and follow Him as He sticks to His task of saving us, stays with it to the bitter end-on a cross.

F. In habitual tardiness, starting late and coming late to every kind of activity. They are late in rising, late for work, late for appoint­ments, late with meals, late with assignments whether in the office or at school, and late with almost everyone of their daily duties.

Chief among these are late-comers to Mass. Coming late to the Holy Sacrifice is a positive sign of laziness, a capital sin. They are too lazy to get up a few minutes earlier; too lazy to get things ready the night before; too lazy to make an extra effort, or even an ordinary effort, to be on time for the greatest Action, the Holy Sacrifice. Such sloth is a sin, don't forget.

G. In excusing oneself for neglecting duties. You have met the type. He forever has an excuse for failing to do little tasks about the home. The wife, in turn, is forever explaining why she did not sew on that button. Appoint them to some parish society work. They fail to come through. But will they admit any fault in this? Not on your life. They have always an apparently excellent excuse to offer. Such sloth is sinful and sickening.

H. In wasting effort on useless activities. There is the ironing wait­ing to be done, but mother listens to a radio program, reads a bit in the paper, talks on the telephone - anything except get down to the task at hand. Wea re almost all guilty in some way or other of this "dawdling" and "doodling." It springs from sloth.

Another form of useless effort is staying up too late at night, making it difficult or impossible to rise at the proper time, and making a person unfit for his work when he does get up. From childhood on human beings want to stay up late - listening to the radio, watching television, and listlessly lolling over the pictures in magazines. A certain amount of social life is necessary for health of body and soul; some need more recreation than others. Nevertheless it is a sign of sloth when we give all our time and energy, or most of it, to useless pastimes.

I. In too much chatter. Here, again, conversation is an important ele­ment of normal life, but long telephone conversations, endless and aimless talk about things of no moment, "jawing" needlessly with workers while on the job, are signs of sloth or dodging duty.

J. In neglecting the particular duties of our state in life. The doctor who is slow and indifferent in answering a call; the nurse who neglects any care of her patient; the worker who is slipshod; thu mother who gives as little time as possible to her children and home: tho head of the house who fails to be a father as well as a bread-winner - all are slaves of sloth.

5. Sloth has many evil effects:

A. It brings on poverty, physical as well as spiritual. It drives out all desire for spiritual things. Sloth explains the dislike many have for religious practices, which they either neglect entirely or hurry through as quickly as possible. One example of this is the Catholic who comes late to Mass and who hurries away before, or as soon as, Mass is over.

B. Sloth causes cowardice in meeting problems and difficulties. In smaller or larger form, setbacks and trials come to all. The lazy man folds his hands, twiddles his thumbs, and groans about his bad luck.

C. Sloth suffocates the soul. It chokes off essential grace, the life of the soul, by neglecting prayer, the sacraments, and other spiritual duties.

D. Sloth causes a person to waste talents, opportunities, time and effort, the very things that will help him to climb the hill to heaven.

E. The slothful person is abnormally curious about the doings and sayings of others. He is tempted to idle gossip and unkind talk.

F. The slothful man turns to dangerous diversions, like bad company, drinking, gambling. How true the saying: "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."

6. Any Catholic who can see will readily realize the remedies for sloth. May I suggest a few of them:

A. Learn the duties of your calling or state in life. Actually write them down, putting the principal obligations first, listing them in the order of their importance. Then try to take care of them in that order. Whatever your main work is, do that well.

The story is told of Ethel Barrymore, of the famous family of actors. She was once playing in Kansas City. In the audience was Sinclair Lewis, who remarked after the performance: "Ethel, I don't believe you did as well as you could this afternoon. You let us down."

The grand old lady of the stage bristled: "No Drew or Barrymore," she retorted, "ever goes on the stage, no matter how he feels, or how large or small the crowd is; no matter whether it is New York City or some small town; that he does not give the best that he has to an audience. For we have learned through four generations that we get back just about what we give."

What a stirring principle, not only for the actor, but for those who play on the real stage of life!

B. To overcome sloth, stop and think. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Here one of the best incentives is the daily good inten­tion, the offering up first thing in the morning of all the thoughts nnd words and actions of that day. Nothing puts meaning into daily duties, nothing gives more zest to humdrum tasks and labor, like the offering of the entire day to Almighty God. The more frequently and fervently one repeats that good intention, the more interesting and profitable life becomes, the more you will develop the virtue opposite the vice of sloth, namely, zeal.

C. Make a daily or weekly list of duties that must be performed, even of such simple tasks as patching clothes or answering letters. A popular magazine some years ago carried an article by a housewife who always seemed swamped by the tiny tasks and big jobs of her home. Finally she hit upon the plan of writing down what she had to do, what she wanted to do. Then she worked down the list, item by item, checking off each as it was accomplished. She came out from under her pile of duties with surprising ease and speed. Try it.

D. Have some sort of daily schedule. In our complex, modern life this is difficult, but necessary. It gives peace and balance. The Catholic, for example, who has a regular time for saying his prayers, for doing some religious reading, for receiving the Sacraments, will get them done faithfully and fervently.

One could scarcely find in all history a busier man than Leonardo Da Vinci, who was not only one the three greatest painters the world has known, but who was also a remarkable success in five other fields of activity. It was he who declared:
"O God, thou givest everything for the price of an effort."

Yes, and that everything includes heaven. God gives heaven for the price of an effort.

E. Fan the love of God in your heart. If you really love God, you will make the best use of your time, your talents, your energies, accord­ing to His plan. You need not wait for this fervor. The Christian who waits for feeling before he does something is like the woodsman on a frosty morning standing with his axe leaning against his knee.

"Good morning, my friend," asks a traveler, "what are you going to do?"

"I am going to cut down this tree," he replies.

"Why don't you get at it?" inquires the traveler.

"I'm waiting until I begin to sweat," declares the woodsman.

If he started chopping he would start to sweat. If you start doing things for God, you too will begin to feel the fervor of God's love in your heart.

F. Recall the labors of Christ for you - His long, laborious years as a carpenter, His preaching and teaching, and above all the taxing, fatiguing labor of His passion and death. All of it was done for you.

7. There is no better time than Lent to root out the vice of sloth and plant the virtue of zeal and diligence. May Christ, the Worker, inspire and help you to work for the welfare of your body, but above all for the good of your soul. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, March 15

If thou wouldst know and learn anything to the pur­pose, love to be unknown, and esteemed as nothing.
-Bk. I, ch. ii.

My little Mother taught me what unsuspected treasures lie hidden in the Holy Face. Just as she had entered Carmel before her three sisters, so was she the first to discover the mystery of love hidden in the sacred Face of the Bridegroom. When she had revealed it to me, I understood where true glory is to be found. He whose Kingdom is not of this world taught me that the only royal dignity worthy of our ambition is to love to be unknown and esteemed as nothing, and that we should gladly despise ourselves. I wished that like His, my face might be as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not (Is. liii). I longed to suffer and be for­gotten.
-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 - March 15

When the devil again tempts you to sin, telling you that God is merciful, remember that the Lord shows mercy to them that fear Him, but not to them who despise Him,

-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)

Meditation for March 15, Five Roses of Blood

The five wounds of Christ.

St. Ignatius in his methods of prayer advises what he calls "the application of the senses." "I will force myself," he said, "to see, to hear, to touch...." I will take my stand before our Savior on the Cross. It is the hour of the Passion and I am on Cal­vary....They have just raised the gibbet. Jesus is there: When I shall be lifted up, I shall draw all things to myself. There He is between the offended Majesty of the Father and the indescribable depravity of humanity.

His hands, His poor hands that have done only good to every one! Look at them, wounded, sore and bleeding.

His feet, they never trod this earth except to help mankind. They are pierced with huge nails. I see, it is all so real....I can touch....Lord, You permit me to press my lips, not to Your sacred flesh, but to this nail which has torn Your feet.

And the pierced side. My head almost reaches the opening; my eyes can penetrate the depth of Your love, O Jesus....

And these cries I hear...the feeble moan of Mary, the weep­ing of Magdalen, the dull sound of a drop of blood that has just fallen near me....Oh, this blood, with its own sweet fragrance; this blood, which flows down, streaking the Savior's body!

Grant that I may never hear the Crucifixus of the Credo with­out recalling the five bleeding roses.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Belleville Rebellion Continues

45 priests call for Braxton to resign

BELLEVILLE --A statement issued at noon today and signed by 45 priests asked Bishop Edward Braxton to resign, "...for his own good, for the good of the diocese and for the good of the presbyterate," or priests.

The priests met Wednesday in Germantown and agreed to what they called "a plan of action" but would not reveal it until today.

Braxton could not be reached for comment.

Priests who signed the document represent 60 percent of the active priests in the diocese, not counting clergy from other countries who are on temporary duty....
These priests err greatly by making their dissatisifaction with Bishop Braxton public - they bring scandal among themselves, the bishop, and the Church.

The call to Braxton to resign was lauded by a national Catholic reform group, Call To Action, based near Chicago.
We know there is a problem when CTA supports these priests against their bishop.

The statement can be read here (PDF format).

Meditation for the Solemnity of St Joseph

It often happens that a carpenter in coupling planks produces a cross.

That sometimes happened in St. Joseph's workshop; let me contemplate him there working with the Child to fill the orders of their customers as well and as speedily as possible. While they handled the wood, suddenly there was outlined on the bench the strangely foreboding shadow.

What did St. Joseph know of the future crucifixion? No doubt, in the course of the evenings at Nazareth, he questioned Jesus, asking Him to comment on one or other of the Prophecies. The Child gave the required explanation simply, saying what was necessary, and kept for Himself the harrowing details. But St. Joseph, who was well versed in the Holy Scriptures, penetrated beyond the silence of Jesus into the true meaning of the distressing texts which he read in the Prophecies or heard commented on by the Rabbis.

Jesus knew everything down to the last details. He came into the world to fulfill them, and nothing of that horror - the crucifixion - escaped Him. He was conscious of it at every moment. Later at Gethsemane He gave entrance into His soul to this agony which tortured Him - this agony which He had suffered all His life.

One who has a very delicate nature and knows he must undergo painful treatment suffers continually from the dread of the approaching ordeal. It is a great blessing for us that we do not have previous knowledge of our crosses. Jesus knew in advance of His cross and all that His cross implied. He needed all the support that His divinity could give to bear up under the perpetual agony of each moment of His life on earth.

Those beams which crossed and formed that instrument of torture are only another vivid reminder. What an agony to live thus In constant anguish! I, who know so little about suffering, must learn to bear my little crosses.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

More from the Post-Dispatch on the Excommunicated Womyn Priestesses

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has declared two Roman Catholic women who live in the archdiocese, and another who lives in Germany, excommunicated.

The area women, Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath, were ordained as priests in an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests in November...


Bridget Mary Meehan, a spokeswoman for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, said there were 53 ordained North American members of the organization, which Burke, in the document sent to Hudson and McGrath, called "a new and separate sect."


Meehan said she didn't believe Burke had the authority to declare Fresen excommunicated because she did not live in the St. Louis archdiocese. "We think he's overreaching," she said.
Overreaching, she says???? Much like these malcontents overreaching in thinking that they can become "priests" in the Catholic Church?

Hudson, 68, of Festus, and McGrath, 69, of St. Louis, co-pastor a faith community and hold a worship service for about 35 people Sunday evenings at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis in the Central West End.

They perform before a small group of likeminded dissenters...And it seems numbers are falling from the initial crowd of about 100 or so. Where, we wonder, is all the support previously demonstrated for these two sad and confused individuals? Numbers have dwindled from the 500-600 at their "ordination" to a mere 35 people today? Counterfeits never seem to last long, do they?

In a statement Thursday, Hudson and McGrath said that they "and all Roman Catholic Womenpriests, reject the penalties of excommunication, interdict, and any other punitive actions from church officials. We are loyal daughters of the church, and we stand in the prophetic tradition of holy (canonical) disobedience to an unjust man-made law that discriminates against women."

Clowns! All of them! Claiming to be "loyal" daughters of the Church...they're loyal daughters, alright, but not to Christ or His Church - they're loyal daughters of the Church of the evil one, walking hand in hand with him on the way to eternal damnation and trying to take as many souls as possible with them. Pathetic!

And just as repugnant as the statements these women make is the fact the Liguori Publications is still selling McGrath's booklets (click here)...Shame on them!

Encouraging Dissent - CAN at it again...

The most recent web page of the local group "Catholic Action Network" calles for a "Lay Synod" in May - a gathering which would presumably include the area's local dissenters, heretics, and schismatics. What a way to spend a "First Saturday" after Holy Mass - [hint, hint]...

Lay Synod- "A Time for Courage"

Saturday, May 3rd
9:00 am-3:30 pm
Location: TBA

CAN is calling for a Lay Synod. Catholics from throughout St. Louis are invited to come and discuss our Church. We will look at the history of the church and the ways in which leaderhip of the church has developed. In this light we will recognize the vital leadership role of the laity. Lena Woltering will be giving the keynote address.

Please join us- RSVP by April 27th by e-mailing
This ought to be good...though, I can't figure out what is really meant by the phrase "a time for courage." Does it mean "courage" to stand up against the ways of the world, or the "arrogance" and lack of courage in opposing the Church and standing with Satan?


Dr Edward Peters on Archbishop Burke's Declaratoin of Excommunication

I would like to say that Abp. Raymond Burke's excommunication of three women who recently participated in a pseudo-ordination in Saint Louis is a "text-book illustration" of how (non-judicial) excommunication is supposed to be applied in the Church today, but I can't say that: Why not?

Because Abp. Burke's attention to juridic detail and his provision for the pastoral care of the people in his care so exceeds what the textbooks teach, that it is the textbooks that must copy from him, not him from the textbooks.
Read why he says this here.

Gospel for Friday, 5th Week of Lent

From: John 10:31-42

Jesus and the Father Are One (Continuation)

[31] The Jews took stones again to stone Him (Jesus). [32] Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone Me?" [33] The Jews answered Him, "We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy; because You, being a man, make Yourself God." [34] Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said you are gods'? [35] If He called them gods to whom the word of God came (and Scripture cannot be broken), [36] do you say of Him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'? [37] If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; [38] but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father." [39] Again they tried to arrest Him, but He escaped from their hands.

[40] He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there He remained. [41] And many came to Him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this Man was true." [42] And many believed in Him there.


31-33. The Jews realize that Jesus is saying that He is God, but they interpret His words as blasphemy. He was called a blasphemer when He forgave the sins of the paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8), and He will also be accused of blasphemy when He is condemned after solemnly confessing His divinity before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:63-65). Our Lord, then, did reveal that He was God; but His hearers rejected this revelation of the mystery of the Incarnate God, refusing to examine the proof Jesus offered them; consequently, they accuse Him, a man, of making Himself God. Faith bases itself on reasonable evidence--miracles and prophecies--for believing that Jesus is really man and really God, even though our limited minds cannot work out how this can be so. Thus, our Lord, in order to affirm His divinity once more, uses two arguments which His adversaries cannot refute--the testimony of Sacred Scripture (prophecies) and that of His own works (miracles).

34-36. On a number of occasions the Gospel has shown our Lord replying to the Jews' objections. Here He patiently uses a form of argument which they regards as decisive - the authority of Sacred Scripture. He quotes Psalm 82 in which God upbraids certain judges for acting unjustly despite His reminding them that "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you" (Psalm 82:6). If this psalm calls the sons of Israel gods and sons of God, with how much more reason should He be called God who has been sanctified and sent by God? Christ's human nature, on being assumed by the Word, is sanctified completely and comes to the world to sanctify men. "The Fathers of the Church constantly proclaim that what was not assumed by Christ was not healed. Now Christ took a complete human nature just as it is found in us poor unfortunates, but one that was without sin, for Christ said of Himself that He was the one `whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world'" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 3).

By using Sacred Scripture (cf. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:1, 17) Jesus teaches us that Scripture comes from God. Therefore, the Church believes and affirms that "those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles, holds that the books of both the Old and New Testament in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-16) they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church. [...] Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scriptures must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 11).

37-38. The works which our Lord is referring to are His miracles, through which God's power is made manifest. Jesus presents His words and His works as forming a unity, with the miracles confirming His words and His words explaining the meaning of the miracles. Therefore, when He asserts that He is the Son of God, this revelation is supported by the credentials of the miracles He works: hence, if no one can deny the fact of the miracles, it is only right for Him to accept the truth of the words.

41-42. The opposition offered by some people (cf. John 10:20, 31, 39) contrasts with the way other people accept Him and follow Him to where He goes after this. St. John the Baptist's preparatory work is still producing results: those who accepted the Baptist's message now look for Christ and they believe when they see the truth of what the Precursor said: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 1:34).

Work done in the Lord's name is never useless: "Therefore, My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Just as the Baptist's word and example had the effect of helping many people later to believe in Jesus, the apostolic example given by Christians will never be in vain, even though the results may not come immediately. "To sow. The sower went out... Scatter your seed, apostolic soul. The wind of grace will bear it away if the furrow where it falls is not worthy.... Sow, and be certain that the seed will take root and bear fruit" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 794).
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, March 13, 2008

Fresen, Hudson & McGrath Excommunicated by Archbishop Burke

In part, the Decree reads:

Therefore, after having weighed all of the proofs and the arguments with the help of two assessors (d. can. 1720, 2°), with God alone before my eyes, I, by this my definitive sentence, consigned to writing, declare and pronounce, by reason of the lawful exercise of jurisdiction, and the quality and preponderance of the proofs extant in the acts of the case; and with moral certitude (cf. can. 1608, §1), that Patricia Fresen is guilty of having committed the canonical crimes of: 1) schism (cf. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1°); and 3) simulation of the administration of a Sacrament, apart from the case mentioned in can. 1378 (d. can. 1379); and that Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath are guilty of having committed the delicts of: 1) schism (d. cann. 751; and 1364, §1); and 2) the pertinacious rejection of the doctrine mentioned in can. 750, §2, coupled with the refusal to retract after having been admonished by the Ordinary (cf. can. 1371, 1°); and

Furthermore, I declare that the same delicts are fully imputable to the aforementioned guilty parties by reason of malice (cf. can. 1321, §§1-2), without exempting or mitigating circumstances (d. cann. 1323-1324), within the time limits established by the Code of Canon Law, concerning both criminal (d. can. 1362, §§1-2) and penal (cf. cann. 1363, §§12; and 1720,3°) actions and, therefore, are fully punishable.

Wherefore, by the commission of the most grave delict of schism, all three of the guilty parties have lost membership in, good standing in, and full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, which bond each and every baptized Catholic is obliged to maintain, in accord with the norm of cann. 95; 205; 209, §§1 and 2; and 212, §1, of the Code of Canon Law;

Wherefore, in the most sincere hope and with the prayer that the application of the due canonical penalties will lead the guilty parties to seek the cure of their most grievous sins and canonical crimes, I declare and pronounce the following:

1) Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath have incurred, latae sententiae, the censure of excommunication by reason of the crime of schism, as established by the Code of Canon Law (cf. cann. 1331; and 1364, §1);

2) Upon Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath is imposed a ferendae sententiae censure of interdict for having pertinaciously rejected a definitive truth of the Faith after having been admonished by the Ordinary (d. can. 1371, r);

3) Upon Patricia Fresen is imposed a ferendae sententiae censure of excommunication by reason of the crime of simulation of the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders (cf. can. 1379).

And there is more, so that all Catholics in the Archdiocese might be properly notified and advised:

I hereby decree and pronounce, effective immediately upon the publication of this Declaration, the revocation of any license or permission, extended to Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson or Elsie McGrath to enter upon the grounds of any property of any parish or other institution of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, until they have formally and publicly withdrawn from their contumacy (cf. cann. 1336, §1,2°; and 1347. §2);

...all three of the guilty are forbidden to have any ministerial part whatsoever in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or any other sacred rite of the Church; to celebrate and receive any Sacraments, or to celebrate any Sacramentals; and to hold any ecclesiastical office or ministry or function, or posit any act of governance (cf. can. 1331, §1);

...the entire Archdiocese of Saint Louis is notified that no ordinary or extraordinary minister may lawfully administer Holy Communion to any of the guilty parties, without the same minister, ordinary or extraordinary, committing a most grave sin;

...every priest serving in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis is notified that Patricia Fresen, Rose Hudson, and Elsie McGrath may not receive absolution from their sins as long as they have not repented, publicly retracted their rejection of a truth of Faith, made amends for their commission of the delict of schism (cf. can. 987), and had the censure of excommunication lifted from them; . . . .

Remember to keep these deluded and confused women in your prayers so that they might have the darkness of evil lifted from their eyes and they might be reconciled with the Church of Our Lord and Savior.

Remember also to pray for Archbishop Burke as he continues to perform his episcopal duties of teaching, governing and sanctifying the faithful. It cannot be an easy task to have to take such action.

The full Declaration of Excommunication can be read here.

Just for Today, March 14

Consider the Carthusians, the Cistercians, and the monks and nuns of divers Orders; how every night they rise to sing psalms to the Lord. It would therefore be a shame for thee to be sluggish at so holy a time, when such multitudes of religious begin with joy to give praises to God.

Oh! that we had nothing else to do but to praise the Lord our God with our whole heart and mouth!
-Bk. I, ch. xxv.

How proud I felt when as hebdomadarian I recited the collects in choir! I shared the priest's privilege in saying the same prayers aloud in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, in pronouncing blessings and abso­lutions, and, as first chantress, singing the Gospel. The Divine Office was at my joy and my despair, for I longed to recite it perfectly. I am so sorry for the Sisters who forget to give out a versicle or who make mistakes. Sometimes, after having carefully prepared and marked my places, I have had a distraction and for­gotten to open my lips at the right moment. Nevertheless, I do not think that anyone could have a greater desire than I have to recite the Divine Office perfectly and assist at it in choir.
-Novissima Verba
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 - March 14

In recalling to mind the life and actions of the saints, walk in their footsteps as much as possible, and humble thyself if thou can not attain to their perfection.

-St. Thomas Aquinas
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 March 14, Stabat

At the foot of the cross, Mary stands erect. What an attitude of firmness, of peace, of simplicity, of dignity, of submission!

Of Firmness. Mary does not hide, she remains steadfast. She does not run away, she stands. She does not seek, as one discon­solate, for human support. She finds her strength in God; entirely abandoned to Him, she perseveres.

Of Peace. No cries, no demonstration. Hers is an immense sorrow, but an interior sorrow which reflects something of the serenity of God - poignant but peaceful.

Of Simplicity. Nothing for the world. She suffers, that is all, giving no heed to where she is or who she is. Her Beloved is close by, suffering on the gibbet; that is all that matters.

Of Submission. It was expedient that Christ suffer. It was expedient also that His mother suffer the horror of Calvary. She neither keeps back anything, nor takes back anything. He has delivered Himself up because He has willed it. She too delivered herself up because she willed it. Ecce. Fiat. Ancilla.

"How far am I from displaying such qualities in sorrow? 'Mother Sorrowful I wish to study you carefully, that I may better reproduce, when I suffer, the spirit of your Stabat.'"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Local MIssouri/Illinois News...

More Rebellion Brewing in Belleville:
Priests planning action on bishop

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop John Leibrecht Says Good-Bye...
Marek Bozek does not attend farewell party.

Gospel for Thursday, 5th Week of Lent

From: John 8:51-59

Jesus Warns the Unbelieving Jews (Continuation)

(Jesus said to the Jews,) [51] "Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps My word, he will never see death." [52] The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and You say, `If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death.' [53] Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do You claim to be?" [54] Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say that He is your God. [55] But you have not known Him; I know Him. If I said I do not know Him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know Him and I keep His word. [56] Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see My day; he saw it and was glad." [57] The Jews then said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" [58] Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." [59] So they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.


51-53. "He will never see death": our Lord promises eternal life to those who accept His teaching and remain faithful to it.

Sin, as the Fourth Gospel teaches, is death of the soul; and sanctifying grace, life (cf. John 1:4, 13; 3:15, 16. 36; etc.). Through grace we enter eternal life, a pledge of the Glory we shall attain beyond this earthly life and which is the true Life. Blinded by their hostility, the Jews do not want to listen to the Lord and therefore they fail to understand Him.

55. The knowledge our Lord is speaking about implies more than intellectual knowledge. The Old Testament speaks of this "knowing" in the sense of love, faithfulness, generous self-surrender. Love for God is a consequence of the certain knowledge we have of Him, and at the same time the more we love God, the better we get to know Him.

Jesus, whose holy human nature was intimately united (though not mixed) with His divinity in the one Person of the Word, continues to assert His singular and ineffable knowledge of the Father. But this accurate language of Jesus is absolutely incomprehensible to those who close themselves to faith: they even think He is blaspheming (cf. verse 59).

56. Jesus presents Himself as the fulfillment of the hopes of the Old Testament patriarchs. They had stayed faithful, eager to see the Day of Salvation. Referring to their faith, St. Paul exclaims: "These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). The most outstanding of those patriarchs was Abraham, our father in faith (cf. Galatians 3:7), who received the promise of being father of an immense people, the chosen people from whom would be born the Messiah.

The future fulfillment of the messianic promises was a source of great joy for Abraham: "Abraham, our father, who was set apart for the future accomplishment of the Promise, and who hoped against hope, receives when his son Isaac is born the prophetic firstfruits of this joy. This joy becomes transfigured through a trial touching death, when this only son is restored to him alive, a prefiguring of the resurrection of the One who was to come: the Son of God, promised for the redeeming sacrifice. Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing the Day of Christ, the Day of Salvation: he "saw it and was glad" (Paul VI, "Gaudete In Domino", II).

Jesus moves on a plane superior to that of the patriarchs, for they only saw prophetically, from "afar", the day of Christ, that is, the actual event of the Redemption, whereas it is Christ who brings it to pass.

58. Jesus' reply to the skeptical remarks of the Jews contains a revelation of His divinity. By saying "Before Abraham was, I am" our Lord is referring to His being eternal, because He is God. Therefore, St. Augustine explains: "Acknowledge the Creator, discern the creature. He who was speaking was a descendant of Abraham, but that Abraham might be made, before Abraham He was" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 43, 17).

The Fathers recall, in connection with the words of Christ, the solemn theophany of Sinai: "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex 3:14), and also St. John's distinction in the prologue to his Gospel, between the world which "was made" and the Word which "was" from all eternity (cf. John 1:1-3). The words, "I am", used by Jesus so absolutely are the equivalent therefore, of His affirming His eternity and His divinity. Cf. note on John 8:21-24.

[The note on John 8:21-24 states:

21-24. At the outset of His public ministry, Jesus could be seen to have all the features of the promised Messiah; some people recognized Him as such and became His followers (cf. John 1:12-13; 4:42; 6:69; 7:41); but the Jewish authorities, although they were expecting the Messiah (cf. John 1:19ff), persisted in their rejection of Jesus. Hence the warning to them: He is going where they cannot follow, that is, He is going to Heaven, which is where He has come from (cf. John 6:41ff), and they will keep looking out for the Messiah foretold by the prophets; but they will not find Him because they look for Him outside of Jesus, nor can they follow Him, for they do not believe in Him. You are of the world, our Lord is saying to them, not because you are on earth but because you are living under the influence of the prince of this world (cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11); you are his vassals and you do his deeds (cf. 8:44); therefore, you will die in your sin. "We are all born with sin", St. Augustine comments, "all by our living have added to what we were by nature, and have become more of this world than we then were, when we were born of our parents. Where would we be if He had not come, who had no sin at all, to loose all sin? The Jews, because they did not believe in Him, deserved to have it said to them, You will die in your sin" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 38, 6).

The salvation which Christ brings will be applied to those who believe in His divinity. Jesus declares His divinity when He says "I am He", for this __expression, which He repeats on other occasions (cf. John. 8:28; 13:19), is reserved to Yahweh in the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11), where God, in revealing His name and therefore His essence, says to Moses "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14). In this profound way God says that He is the Supreme Being in a full, absolute sense, that He is dependent on no other being, that all other things depend on Him for their being and existence. Thus, when Jesus says of Himself, "I am He", He is revealing that He is God.]
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, March 12, 2008

Just for Today, March 13

Esteem not thyself better than others, lest perhaps thou be accounted worse in the sight of God, who knows what is in man. Be not proud of thy own works, for the judgements of God are different from the judgements of men; and oftentimes that displeaseth Him, which pleaseth men.

If thou hast anything of good, believe better things of others that thou mayest preserve humility. It will do thee no harm to esteem thyself the worst of all; but it will hurt thee very much to prefer thyself before anyone. Continual peace is with the humble; but in the heart of the proud is frequent envy and indignation.
-Bk. I, ch. vii.

When I am charitable, I feel that it is Our Lord acting in me; the more closely I am united to Him, the more I love all my Sisters. If I want my love to grow, and the devil brings before my eyes the defects of any particular Sister, I hasten to seek out her virtues and good intentions. If I see her fall into any fault, I say to myself that she may have won many victories which she hides out of humility, and that what seems to me a fault may even be an act of virtue, because of her intention. Having learnt that by experience myself, I do not find it difficult to be persuaded.
-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 - March 13

Humility, modesty, sobriety, purity, piety, and prudence, with meekness, ornament the soul, and make us live on earth a truly angelic life.

-Bl. Jordan of Saxony
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 March 13, Mary Meets Jesus

The meeting of Mary with Jesus bearing His cross as He climbed to Calvary, the meeting which is given as the fourth dolor of Our Lady, is neither mentioned nor described by the Evangelists. Countless traditions speak of it. How sacred was this out-of-the-­way turn in the road where a mother came to meet her Son. What a Son! What a mother! What a meeting of united suffering. A towering mountain: Magna velut mare. One sea of sorrow meets another. Their billows surge as high as the world.

Special memorial stones mark the battlefields of France where, in 1918, the opposing forces advanced upon each other as wave met wave and the fate of the armies was determined. What monu­ment could commemorate worthily that spot where the suffering of the one described in Scripture as strong as an army set in array, comes to meet in a supreme attack the suffering of the Savior ascending to the Cross, not for the sake of combatting it but to unite with this suffering and to share its redemptive power.

In the one hundred and fifty verses of the Lamentations, Jere­miah describes the meeting of the Sorrowful Mother with the soli­tary, silent Man who already in His youth bore the yoke, turned His cheek to the strikers, was loaded down with opprobrium, and lay prostrate in the dust, awaiting - all too vainly, alas! - for a little consolation.

"Eli, Eli lamma, sabactani! My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

In company with Mary I wish to follow You, O Jesus, even to Calvary.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent

Old Calendar: St. Gregory the Great, pope and doctor

From: John 8:31-42

Jesus Warns the Unbelieving Jews (Continuation)

[31] Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in Him, "If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples, [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." [33] They answered Him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"

[34] Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave of sin. [35] The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. [36] So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. [37] I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word finds no place in you. [38] I speak of what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."

[39] They answered Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did, [40] but now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did. [41] You do what your father did." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." [42] Jesus said of them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not on My own account, but He sent Me."


30-32. Of those Jews who do believe in Him Jesus asks much more than a shallow faith resulting from superficial enthusiasm: they should be true disciples; Jesus' words should imbue their whole life. That kind of faith will bring them to know the truth and to become really free persons.

The knowledge of the truth which Christ is speaking about is not just intellectual knowledge; it is rather the maturing in the soul of the seed of divine Revelation. That Revelation's climax is to be found in Christ's teaching and it constitutes a genuine communication of supernatural life (cf. John 5:24): He who believes in Jesus, and through Him in the Father, receives the wonderful gift of eternal life. Knowing the truth is, in the last analysis, knowing Christ Himself, God become man to save us; it means realizing that the inaccessible God has become man, our Friend, our Life.

This is the only kind of knowledge which really sets us free, because it removes us from a position of alienation from God--the state of sin and therefore of slavery to the devil and to all attachments of our fallen nature--and puts us on the path of friendship with God, the path of grace, of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the liberation we obtain is not just light which shows us the way; it is grace, which empowers us to keep to that way despite our limitations. "Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: `You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free' (John 8:32). These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. Today also, even after two thousand years, we see Christ as the One who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience. What a stupendous confirmation of this has been given and is still being given by those who, thanks to Christ and in Christ, have reached true freedom and have manifested it even in situations of external constraint!" (John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 12).

"Christ Himself links liberation particularly with knowledge of the truth; `You will know the truth and the truth will make you free' (John 8:32). This sentence testifies above all to the intimate significance of the freedom for which Christ liberates us. Liberation means man's inner transformation, which is a consequence of the knowledge of truth. The transformation is, therefore, a spiritual process, in which man matures `in true righteousness and holiness' (Ephesians 4:24). [...] Truth is important not only for the growth of human knowledge, deepening man's interior life in this way; truth has also a prophetic significance and power. It constitutes the content of testimony and it calls for testimony. We find this prophetic power of truth in the teaching of Christ. As a prophet, as a witness to truth, Christ repeatedly opposes non-truth; He does so with great forcefulness and decision and often He does not hesitate to condemn falsehood" (John Paul II, "General Audience", 21 February 1979).

St. Thomas Aquinas explains the meaning of these words of our Lord in this way: "In this passage, being made free does not refer to being freed of every type of wrong [...]; it means being freed in the proper sense of the word, in three ways: first, the truth of His teaching will free us from the error of untruth [...]; second, the truth of grace will liberate us from the slavery of sin: `the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2); third, the truth of eternity in Christ Jesus will free us from decay (cf. Romans 8:21)" ("Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

"The truth will set you free. How great a truth is this, which opens the way to freedom and gives it meaning throughout our lives. I will sum it up for you, with the joy and certainty which flow from knowing there is a close relationship between God and His creatures. It is the knowledge that we have come from the hands of God, that the Blessed Trinity looks upon us with predilection, that we are children of so wonderful a Father. I ask my Lord to help us decide to take this truth to heart, to dwell upon it day by day; only then will we be acting as free men. Do not forget: anyone who does not realize that he is a child of God is unaware of the deepest truth about himself. When he acts he lacks the dominion and self-mastery we find in those who love our Lord above all else" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 26).

33-34. For centuries the people of Israel were ruled by other nations (Egypt, Babylon, Persia...), and now they were under the dominion of Rome. Therefore, the Jews thought that He was referring to political bondage or dominion--which in fact they had experienced but never accepted. In addition, since they belong to the people chosen by God, they regarded themselves as free of the moral errors and aberrations of Gentile nations.

They thought that true freedom was a matter of belonging to the chosen people. Our Lord replies that it is not enough to belong to the line of Abraham: true freedom consists in not being slaves of sin. Both Jews and Gentiles were subject to the slavery of original sin and personal sin (cf. Romans 5:12; 6:20 and 8:2). Only Christ, the Son of God, can liberate man from that sorry state (cf. Galatians 4:21-51); but these Jews do not understand the redemptive work which Christ is doing and which will reach its climax in His death and resurrection

"The Savior", St. Augustine comments, "is here explaining that we will not be freed from overlords, but from the devil; not from captivity of the body but from malice of soul" ("Sermon", 48).

35-36. The words slave and son are reminiscent of the two sons of Abraham: Ishmael, born of the slave woman Hagar, who would be given no part in the inheritance; and Isaac, son of the free woman Sarah, who would be the heir to God's promises (cf. Genesis 21:10-12; Galatians 4:28-31). Physical descent from Abraham is not enough for inheriting God's promises and attaining salvation: by faith and charity one must identify oneself with Jesus Christ, the true and only Son of the Father, the only one who can make us sons of God and thereby bring us true freedom (cf. Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:31). Christ gives "power to become children of God [to those] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). Thus, a person who identifies himself with Christ becomes a son of God and obtains the freedom proper to sons.

"Freedom finds its true meaning when it is put to the service of the truth which redeems, when it is spent seeking God's infinite Love which liberates us from all forms of slavery. Each passing day increases my yearning to proclaim to the four winds this inexhaustible treasure that belongs to Christianity: `the glorious freedom of the children of God!' (Romans 8:21). [...] Where does our freedom come from? It comes from Christ our Lord. This is the freedom with which He has ransomed us (cf. Galatians 4:31). That is why He teaches, `if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' (John 8:36). We Christians do not have to ask anyone to tell us the true meaning of this gift, because the only freedom that can save man is Christian freedom" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 27 and 35).

37-41. Our Lord replies to the Jew's objection: yes indeed, they are Abraham's children, but only in a natural sense, according to the flesh; this is something which does not count any more; what matters now is acceptance of Jesus as the One sent by the Father. Jesus' questioners are spiritually very far away from being true children of Abraham: Abraham rejoiced to see the Messiah (cf. John 8:56); through his faith he was reckoned righteous (cf. Romans 4:1ff), and his faith led him to act consequentially (cf. James 2:21-24); this was how he attained the joy of eternal blessedness (cf. Matthew 8:11; Luke 16:24). Although those Jews "derived from him the generation of the flesh, they had become degenerate, by not imitating the faith of him whose sons they were" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 42, 1). Those who live by faith, St. Paul says, are the true sons of Abraham and like him they will be blessed by God (cf. Galatians 3:7-9). In point of fact, the people who are arguing with our Lord have not only rejected His teaching: their own deeds indicate that they have a radically different affiliation: "You do what your father did" is a veiled accusation that they are children of the devil (cf. verse 44).

The false security Jews felt on the grounds of being descended from Abraham has its parallel in a Christian who is content with being baptized and with a few religious observances, but does not live up to the requirements of faith in Christ.
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, March 11, 2008

Just for Today, March 12

They laboured all the day, and in the night they gave themselves to long prayers; though even whilst they were at work, they ceased not from mental prayer.
-Bk. I, ch. xviii.

The Saint always endeavoured to lead her religious life with the perfection that St Teresa expected from her Carmelites. If the work upon which she was en­gaged was not too absorbing, her thoughts would turn naturally to God. One day a novice entered her cell and was struck by the heavenly expression on her face. She was busily sewing, and yet was apparently lost in con­templation. The novice asked what she was thinking about, and the Saint replied: "I was meditating on the Our Father. How sweet it is to call God our Father!" And her eyes filled with tears.
-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 - March 12

Our perfection consists in uniting our will so intimately with God's will, that we will only de­sire what He wills. He who conforms most per­fectly to the will of God will be the most perfect Christian.

-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 March 12, Barabbas, the Thief

When the name Barabbas appears in the Gospel, St. John uses only one qualifying word - thief.

Do you want to know who Barabbas was? He was a thief.

Suppose that in the Book of Life, where each action is inscribed with its true value, my name bore a like identification: "Mother so-and-so," "Sister so-and-so," thief.

What! You are joking! You would not compare me to a cor­rupt robber, to this highwayman notorious for the worst crimes.

Be careful! Don't be too hasty in your judgment! There are many ways of being a thief. One can live as a thief or gangster, stealing on the sly, and yet continue to appear innocent before the public and authorities. The merchant who imperceptibly puts his finger on the scales to increase the weight is a thief, isn't he? He is a thief, not in the same degree as Barabbas, of course, but a thief just the same.

Yes, I am afraid to understand. When I deduct, without per­mission and through pure neglect, one minute, several minutes, more perhaps, from the time prescribed for prayer or spiritual reading.... Thief! When I nibble at the reputation of my neighbor or the authority of the superiors, I take something that does not belong to me.... Thief! When I appropriate for my personal use, with neither right nor permission, what has been given for general use...when...when....How many occasions there are! They fairly swarm about us. And those things are true of me! Thief! Thief! Thief!

Never before did a meditation on Barabbas seem so useful!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Tuesday, 5th Week of Lent

Frpm John 8:21-30

Jesus Warns the Unbelieving Jews

[21] Again He (Jesus) said to them, "I go away, and you will seek Me and die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come." [22] Then said the Jews, "Will He kill Himself, since He says, `Where I am going, you cannot come?'" [23] He said to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. [24] I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am He." [25] They said to Him, "Who are You?" Jesus said to them, "Even what I have told you from the beginning. [26] I have much to say about you and much to judge; but He who sent Me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from Him." [27] They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. [28] So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority but speak thus as the Father taught Me. [29] And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to Him." [30] As He spoke thus, many believed in Him.


21-24. At the outset of His public ministry, Jesus could be seen to have all the features of the promised Messiah; some people recognized Him as such and became His followers (cf. John 1:12-13; 4:42; 6:69; 7:41); but the Jewish authorities, although they were expecting the Messiah (cf. John 1:19ff), persisted in their rejection of Jesus. Hence the warning to them: He is going where they cannot follow, that is, He is going to Heaven, which is where He has come from (cf. John 6:41ff), and they will keep looking out for the Messiah foretold by the prophets; but they will not find Him because they look for Him outside of Jesus, nor can they follow Him, for they do not believe in Him. You are of the world, our Lord is saying to them, not because you are on earth but because you are living under the influence of the prince of this world (cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11); you are his vassals and you do his deeds (cf. 8:44); therefore, you will die in your sin. "We are all born with sin", St. Augustine comments, "all by our living have added to what we were by nature, and have become more of this world than we then were, when we were born of our parents. Where would we be if He had not come, who had no sin at all, to loose all sin? The Jews, because they did not believe in Him, deserved to have it said to them, 'You will die in your sin'" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 38, 6).

The salvation which Christ brings will be applied to those who believe in His divinity. Jesus declares His divinity when He says "I am He", for this expression, which He repeats on other occasions (cf. John. 8:28; 13:19), is reserved to Yahweh in the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11), where God, in revealing His name and therefore His essence, says to Moses "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14). In this profound way God says that He is the Supreme Being in a full, absolute sense, that He is dependent on no other being, that all other things depend on Him for their being and existence. Thus, when Jesus says of Himself, "I am He", He is revealing that He is God.

25. A little before this Jesus had spoken about His Heavenly origin and His divine nature (cf. verses 23-24); but the Jews do not want to accept this revelation; which is why they ask Him for an even more explicit statement: "Who are You?" Our Lord's reply can be understood in different ways, because the Greek text has two meanings: 1) our Lord is confirming what He has just asserted (cf. verses 23-24) and what He has been teaching throughout this visit to Jerusalem--in which case it may be translated "precisely what I am telling you" or else "in the first place what I am telling you". This is the interpretation given in the New Vulgate. 2) Jesus is indicating that He is the "Beginning", which is the word St. John also uses in the Apocalypse to designate the Word, the cause of all creation (Revelation 3:14; cf. Revelation 1:8). In this way Jesus states His divine origin. This is the interpretation given in the Vulgate. Either way, Christ is once more revealing His divinity; He is reaffirming what He said earlier, but without saying it all over again.

"Many people in our own days ask the same question: 'Who are You?' [...] Who, then, was Jesus? Our faith exults and cries out: it is He, it is He, the Son of God made man. He is the Messiah we were expecting: He is the Savior of the world, the Master of our lives: He is the Shepherd that guides men to their pastures in time, to their destinies beyond time. He is the joy of the world; He is the image of the invisible God: He is the way, the truth and the life; He is the interior friend; He is the One who knows us even from afar; He knows our thoughts; He is the One who can forgive us, console, cure, even raise from the dead; and He is the One who will return, the judge of one and all, in the fullness of His glory and our eternal happiness" (Paul VI, "General Audience", 11 December 1974).

26-27. "He who sent Me": an expression very often found in St. John's Gospel, referring to God the Father (cf. 5:37; 6:44; 7:28; 8:16).

The Jews who were listening to Jesus did not understand whom He was referring to; but St. John, in recounting this episode, explains that He meant His Father, from Whom He came.

"He spoke to them of the Father": this is the reading in most of the Greek codexes, including the more important ones. Other Greek codexes and some translations, including the Vulgate, read, "He was calling God His Father."

"What I have heard from Him": Jesus had connatural knowledge of His Father, and it is from this knowledge that He speaks to men; He knows God not through revelation or inspiration as the prophets and sacred writers did, but in an infinitely higher way: which is why He can say that no one knows the Father but the Son and He to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (cf. Mt 11:27).

On the type of knowledge Jesus had during His life on earth, see the note on Luke 2:52.

28. Our Lord is referring to His passion and death: "`And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself'. He said this to show by what death He was to die" (John 12:32-33). Rounding out the Synoptics and the Letters of St. Paul, the Fourth Gospel presents the Cross, above all, as a royal throne on which Christ is "lifted up" and from which He offers all men the fruits of salvation (cf. John 3:14-15; cf. also Numbers 21:9ff; Wisdom 16:6).

Jesus says that when that time comes, the Jews will know who He is and His intimate union with the Father, because many of them will discover, thanks to His death and resurrection, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God (cf. Matthew 15:39; Lk 33:48). After the coming of the Holy Spirit many thousands will believe in Him (cf. Acts 2:41; 4:4).
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.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lenten Reflection: Envy, the Sixth Capital Sin

"Let us not become desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians, 5:26.

In Greek history we read of a youth who so distinguished himself in the public games that his fellow citizens raised a statue in his honor in order to keep fresh' the memory of his victories. This statue so excited the spirit of envy in the heart of another young man who had been defeated in the contests, that he stole out one night under cover of darkness to destroy the sculptured figure. After hours of effort he succeeded in moving the statue from its base, but it slipped and fell, crushing the envious one to death.

Envy always has the same effect. It harms and: even destroys the one who is guilty of it. It hurts the heart and the character of the one who gives way to the feeling of spite. We hope by our ill-will to injure others. We may wound them slightly, but in doing so we kill ourselves, as did the Athenian youth.

It was a pagan, a man unenlightened by the teachings of Christ, Socrates, who taught that no evil man can harm a good man, and that all the fatal wounds to character are self-inflicted. Even the innocent may suffer from the spite of others, but the suffering will not affect their souls unless they allow the poison of envy and discontent to corrupt them.

1. Envy, the sixth capital sin, means a sadness and annoyance at another’s temporal or spiritual good, as seeming to lessen our own good. Envy means a sorrow or sadness over some blessing of body or soul which another has, with the thought that his success seems to be harmful to our own interests or excellence. It means discontent at the good fortune of another.

2. When voluntary and deliberate envy is a serious sin. 'We see the grievousness of this vice when we consider:

A. That it is directly opposed to the all-important virtue of charity, charity that weeps with them who weep, and rejoices with them who rejoice, as St. Paul commands us:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep." Romans, 12:15.

Envy does the very opposite: it is glad when others are sad, and sad when others are glad. Charity turns enemies into friends; envy turns friends into enemies.

B. That envy is opposed to reason in that it grieves over something that is good, namely, the good fortune of our neighbor. It is furthermore unreasonable because it brings nothing to the person guilty of it, except misery, annoyance, and discontent.

C. That it is a sin against the Holy Ghost, an offense against the goodness of God, in so far as it draws evil out of good, while the Good God always draws good out of evil. It is a twisting and perversion of the divine plan, as we see in the very beginning of the human race:
"For God created man incorruptible and to the image of likeness He made him.
"But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world:
"And they follow him that are of his side." Wisdom, 2:23-24.

D. That it is so subtle, so crafty, so active and yet so quiet that it hides its presence even from the person guilty of it. Envy is so low and so mean that it makes its possessor unwilling to admit its presence even to himself.

3. From its effects we can see that envy is one of the most dangerous of all sins:

A. From envy proceed blindness of mind, errors in judgment, and hardness of heart. We see proofs of this in both the Old and the New Testaments:

i. We see it in the story of Joseph who, through the envy of his brothers, was sold by them and carried off into Egypt. Their father, Jacob, loved Joseph above all his sons. This they could not stand, and as the Bible tells us:

"His brethren seeing that he was loved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him." Genesis, 37:4.

ii. We see envy in all its evil ill-will in the story of Jesus before Pilate, an incident which comes forcibly to mind during this Lenten season. When the crowd asked Pilate to condemn Christ to death, he asked them:

"Do you wish that I release to you the king of the Jews?"

"For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him up out of envy.

"But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead." St. Mark, 15 :9-11.

Envy so blinded their thinking and twisted their judgment that they preferred a robber and cut-throat to the redeeming Christ.

B. From envy come sarcasm, backbiting, slander, calumny, and all the many-headed damages and injuries which arise from these sins.

i. Sarcasm is a mean and bitter taunt, a keen and cutting .remark. It tears the heart of its victim, as a vicious dog would tear the flesh of one he bites. Although every right-thinking person despises sarcasm, and rightly, we find too much of it especially in circles where we should expect to never find it - in the home, in our fellow workers, even in parish societies and affairs. Sarcasm springs from an envious heart. It betrays the sarcastic person as one guilty of this capital vice.

ii. Back-biting is just as common, and possibly more criminal. You know the type. Let's call her Mrs. A. When she talks to Mrs. B. she will always talk unkindly about Mrs. C., "bite" Mrs. C. in the back when she is not present. When Mrs. A. is with Mrs. C. she will talk about Mrs. B., "bite" her in the back. And you can wager your bottom dollar that she will talk about you when your back is turned. In this back-biting Mrs. A., reveals one symptom of an envious heart.

C. Envy causes devilish plots, cold-blooded murders, mean-minded treacheries, and public and private calamities of all kinds.

i. It was envy of God that made the evil one take form of a serpent and lead our parents into the first sin. Re-read that story:

"Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. . .

"No," said the serpent to Eve, "you shall not die the death.

"For God knowa that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil." Genesis, 3:1-5.

ii. It was envy that provoked the first murder. Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, both made offerings to the Lord. The Lord "had respect" to the offerings of Abel, but not to those of Cain. In the heart of the latter sprang up a feeling of envy and anger. Cain invited Abel out into a field and there he slew him. (Genesis, 4:1-14).

iii. It was envy, blind unreasoning envy, that prompted a member of the Athenian assembly to vote for the banishment of Aristides the Just. According to the story, Aristides himself was present when the vote was taken. One illiterate member, who could neither read nor write. went up to Aristides, not knowing who he was, and asked him to write the name of Aristides on his shell to show that he wanted him banished. As Aristides wrote his own name on the ballot that was meant to send him into banishment, he asked the fellow If ho knew Aristides, or if he had anything against him.

"No," answered the ignorant and envious fellow, "I don't know him and I don't know anything about him, but I get tired of hearing him spoken of as Aristides the Great."
Behold the blindness and the bias and the bile of the envious.

D. Envy causes miserable repining at another's success. This we find in every walk of life, especially among those who are more or less equal, among those in the same class at school, in the same trade, in the same club, in the same profession, and in the same parish society. The good fortune of another, the election of another to some society office, the attainment of fame or fortune by someone who would he otherwise equal, causes the envious heart to feel and even to express dejection and discontent, makes him complain and grumble and even criticize.

E. Envy leads its victim to belittle the merits and accomplishment of others, again particularly of those in the same group.

"Yes," they will admit, "she is a good home-maker, but-." Inevitably there is a "but," in other words, some drawback, some point to belittle.

4. To fool and express sorrow over another's temporal or spiritual good not because we feel it harms our own interests, but for some other good reason, is not the sin of envy. Thus a person might feel sorry about another's prosperity or success entirely because he knew that this success would be harmful to the welfare of others or to the public at large. This would really be charity rather than envy. If one, for example, felt sorry when he saw a business man without principles, or a professional person who stooped to immoral practices, or a scheming politician, achieving goals beyond his deserts, it would not be envy to grieve about that success.

Furthermore, if a person is sad only because he himself does not have as much as another, and he seeks his own lawful advancement and not the harm of another, he does not commit the sin of envy. We might rather call it emulation, a striving to equal or excel another by just and lawful means. It is expressed in the spirit of big-hearted competition, which is good in every walk of life. In fact, this rightful rivalry is the spur to much of the progress in all fields of human endeavor. It is essential in the spiritual life, where we see before us almost constantly the inspiring example of the saints. Their example should inspire in us a desire to imitate, a desire to follow their cooperation with grace, their charity, their chastity, their zeal for the service of God.

5. To what ridiculous lengths envy can lead is shown in the fairy story of the shoemaker. He was not the ordinary run of cobbler. He was extra special, so much so that the fairies hired him to make their shoes. The only leather he used was cut from the skin of a snake killed the previous year. They were soft and comfortable and the fairies would wear no other kind. Wherever the fairies went they drew admiration and praise for their fine footwear.

Into the cobbler's heart came the thought that these fairy folk were getting all the attention, while he was doing the work. Envy led him into this trend of thought:

"Here I am slaving away at my last, bending over until my back is all out of shape, seldom seeing the sun, and never getting the glory for my work. It isn't fair. I know what I will do. I'll make myself a pair of the softest, shiniest shoes anyone ever wore, and then I'll strut out among the flowers and get some attention."

He put all the other pairs of shoes aside and worked day and night on his own. The fairies, from the king and queen on down, came for their shoes, but they were not ready. Gradually he lost his trade, but he cared not a bit. He was going to create a commotion. At last the shoes were finished. He put them on and started out.
"Land of mercy," cried his wife, "you are not going out in those gorgeous shoes with your leather apron on. Buy yourself a dress coat."
He bought a fine coat and was again about to start out when his wife screamed: "Land sakes, now you need a cane."

He bought a cane and was strutting out the door when his wife burst into laughter:
"You silly man," she cried, "your top hat and new coat and cane and beautiful shoes do not hide your bent back. You are nothing but a dressed up shoemaker. Everybody will laugh at you, as I must laugh."

He took a look in the mirror and almost had to laugh at himself, as he admitted: "What my wife says is true. I was a good shoemaker, but I make a poor fairy gentleman."

He had sense enough to admit his foolishness. He went home to his shoemaker's last, and left the bright shoes for more nimble feet.

Would that we all had sense enough to recognize envy when it shows its treacherous head. And would that we all might use the remedies to overcome this capital vice. If the Scribes and Pharisees, the principal enemies of Christ, had been honest enough with themselves they would have admitted their envy as the principal cause of their opposition to the Savior of the world. If all the envious hearts were revealed to the world what a disgusting display that would be. And if all envy were removed, how happy humanity would be.

6. What are the cures for this capital crime of the heart?

A. Ask God to give you a true spirit of love for everyone, a true, heart felt charity, especially toward those whom you envy. Try praying for those whose success makes you sad. Honestly ask God to help you see that various people have various gifts and blessings.

B. Consider the evils brought on by envy. They are all opposed to the fundamental law of Christ: Love one another. How can we love our neighbor if our minds are blinded with bias and our hearts are saddened at his success? How can we love our neighbor if we stoop to sarcasm, slander, back-biting and rash criticism? How can we love our neighbor when our hearts hatch plots to bring him harm? How can we love our neighbor with a heart that is sad when that neighbor succeeds? How can we love our neighbor when we belittle his work and efforts?

C. Consider, on the other hand, the happiness of a heart that is free of this hideous hatred. The heart free of envy is a heart at peace with itself and at peace with everyone else. It is a heart that is willing to do things for others, willing to live the law of love, even at the cost of sacrifice. It is a heart that is satisfied with its own lot in life, and never permits the good fortune of others to make it unhappy.

Consider the unhappiness of our shoemaker when his heart was envious, and his contented happiness after he had rooted envy out of his heart. Every human being can have that same blessed experience.

D. Share your joys and share your sorrows with others. Enter into the joys and sorrows of those with whom you live. Express your sympathy when they have difficulties; and express genuine congratulations, when they have success. This is something we can all develop, no matter how small the circle in which we move.

Oh, how Christ­like the person who can pay a compliment to one who has earned some merit or reward.

E. Realize that envy and pride are co-workers in evil, twin devils who destroy peace of the individual and peace of the community. Then try to develop a true sense of humility, the foundation of all true love of neighbor, the foundation of all true appreciation of the tal­ents, accomplishments, and good fortune of others.

F. Bring home to yourself with absolute conviction that money and success and fame are not everything. They are not the completely satisfying articles they appear to be at a distance. Much more valuable than these tinsel satisfactions are genuine love, true-blue friend­ship and inner contentment. The man who is satisfied with his own place in life, the man who can, at the same time, view with a smile the success of others, is a happy, yes, a successful man.

7. On November 11, 1950, a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer asked three people this question:

"What do you think is the best way to overcome jealousy?"

A. One young lady answered that the jealous and envious person must develop self-confidence, improve himself.

B. A young man said the best way is to analyze the situation, .delve down into the facts, and don't let emotions take control. He pointed out that the jealous and envious person lets his imagination and emotions run away with him.

C. A third gave this solution: Grow up; become mature, mentally and spiritually.

Our newspapers and magazines have a great deal about jealousy and envy, proving the importance of the subject.

8. Most important is this subject in the Church. Racial, social, and economic envy hamper and even halt many projects of the Church. One member of the choir envies another because she was chosen to sing a solo. Our society officers are often the object of green-eyed envy. Good work already done is torn apart, and good work to be done is never attempted, through fear of envy and its train of miserable evils.

9. Search your soul tonight. Be not blind to this hidden monster of envy. Think of the sufferings and death of our Lord, brought on by the envy of the Scribes and Pharisees. Look at the stations of the cross. See the torture to which envious hearts put the sweet and loving Savior of the world.

Then look into His loving Heart, opened to us on the cross, that Sacred Heart hrobbing with love for even His enemies, that Heart which was ever understanding and appreciative, that Divine Heart which was always glad at the good-fortune of others, that Heart which must be our Model if we ever hope to overcome the capital sin of envy, if we ever hope to be in very truth - like our Lord. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)