Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gospel for the 4th Sunday [Laetare Sunday]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principles and Practices - March 14

Conflict of Reasons

'The Lord Thy God shalt thou adore'­ - that is God's command given to man, but it is given to a free agent, to an agent free to give or to withhold obedience. The command is clear, it is reasonable, the servant cannot but admit its justice. Then come the temptation and the tempter. Have we not all experienced it in our temptations? It is right to obey, but it is hard, it is painful to flesh and blood. To disobey will be easy, pleasant - perhaps delightful. It is the voice of the tempter reasoning with man as he reasoned with Christ, bringing upon man's will the pressure of his own to compel consent; and the will is swayed this way and that, torn by these conflicting influences.

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

The School of Love, March 13


[continued from yesterday]

...the mere consciousness that he is beside us banishes what spiritual feelings we may have cherished.

This is undoubtedly true. Undoubtedly there are pious people who do get upon our nerves, even when piety alone is considered. But let us see who they are.

To begin with, there are the beginners; not all, but some are a trial, even as are most beginners of almost every kind. If they are true beginners they are sure to be enthusiastic; and the enthusiastic, to those who are not, are always something of a trial.

Again, if they are beginners, they are bound to be awkward; they are bound to over­do their part; they are bound to make mis­takes; in all this they are something of a trouble. Beginners again, either ask too many questions from their eagerness to learn or else, because of their inexperience, are liable to make sweeping statements; in all this they can offend.

But these are not half so bad as those who are older. There are some pious people on whom piety acts like starch. They would seem to have taken their models from stained glass windows, not from the saints they repre­sent. Their ideal of spotlessness is a white marble statue, not a red human heart. Their method of devotion is ready-made, turned out Piety and Piettsm by machinery; it is not made to each individual's measure.

Their dealings with others are puritanical; it begins by looking for flaws, it condemns whenever it can, it yields to no one's weakness, it judges all by standards of its own. These are the people who try us; the "unco guid," as the genial poet has called them, or else the "unco dense" who cannot see other points of view than one....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gospel for Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent

Luke 18:9-14

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
[9] He (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: [10] "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. [12] I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' [13] But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

9-14. Our Lord here rounds off His teaching on prayer. In addition to being persevering and full of faith, prayer must flow from a humble heart, a heart that repents of its sins: "Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies" (Psalm 51:19); the Lord, who never despises a contrite and humble heart, resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble (cf. Peter 5:5; James 4:6).

The parable presents two opposite types--the Pharisee, who is so meticulous about external fulfillment of the Law; and the tax collector, who in fact is looked on as a public sinner (cf. Luke 19:7). The Pharisee's prayer is not pleasing to God, because his pride causes him to be self-centered and to despise others. He begins by giving thanks to God, but obviously it is not true gratitude, because he boasts about all the good he has done and he fails to recognize his sins; since he regards himself as righteous, he has no need of pardon, he thinks; and he remains in his sinful state; to him also apply these words spoken by our Lord to a group of Pharisees on another occasion: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:41). The Pharisee went down from the temple, therefore, unjustified.

But the tax collector recognizes his personal unworthiness and is sincerely sorry for his sins: he has the necessary dispositions for God to pardon him. His ejaculatory prayer wins God's forgiveness: "It is not without reason that some have said that prayer justifies; for repentant prayer or supplicant repentance, raising up the soul to God and re-uniting it to His goodness, without doubt obtains pardon in virtue of the holy love which gives it this sacred movement. And therefore we ought all to have very many such ejaculatory prayers, said as an act of loving repentance and with a desire of obtaining reconciliation with God, so that by thus laying our tribulation before our Savior, we may pour out our souls before and within His pitiful heart, which will receive them with mercy" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 20).
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.

Principles and Practices - March 13

Cleanness of Heart

Jesus indeed is the light of ignorance: and the only solace of grief. Listen, therefore, to the word which proceeds from the mouth of God: and from the lips of the blessed Jesus. For the most pure Jesus saith, 'Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.' A sublime word: because uttered by the Most High. A great promise: but assured by the supreme Truth. Blessed are the clean of heart. O sweet saying: which rightly calls the soul to the promise of blessedness; since God is the reward, and nothing of earth is mentioned here.

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

The School of Love, March 12


[continued from yesterday]

...There is yet another possibility, which may mean a fault on our side. After all, a good man among us is usually to us a constant admonition. We are holding a certain con­versation; our "pious" friend comes in and instinctively we have to stop; he is a nuisance to us - but why?

We are having a jolly time, reckless of consequences, perhaps a little reck­less of duty; our "pious" friend is seen on the offing; we shirk his company--but why?

We are arguing ourselves into a course of action that our conscience all the time dis­avows; we consult our "pious" friend, and instead of seeing as we see he takes the side of conscience; such a friend is a wet blanket, a croaking pessimist, a soured misanthrope, an unsympathetic creature who will see no point of view but his own; but why this tor­rent of abuse? Is the fault his or ours?

These then are some of the lines along which, when we condemn, we may not be wholly without blame. We may be opposed to good just because it is good; and since this is against human nature, human nature invents another good which it sets itself up to defend. No saint was ever yet oppressed, but it was shown that he was the enemy of good; no martyr was ever put to death but for appar­ently the best of causes; and among ourselves no good man is ever hardly judged but the soundest reasons can be given.

Nevertheless it may very well be that the saint, and the martyr, and even the good man have right on their side after all.

But even when all this is said, even when we have acknowledged our own possible mistakes and delinquencies, it still remains true that in very many cases, and without any reason like those above mentioned, the "pious" man is a horrid nuisance.

Before his retreat he was natural, now he is as stiff, and artificial, and unbending, as only a retreat can make him. Before he was considerate and forgiving, now he is critical and exacting, as though he had no faults of his own. Before he kept what piety he possessed to himself; now he must for ever be improving the occasion, even such as need not be improved. Worst of all, for it is the very worst, before he did not matter much either way; now his very presence makes us bristle, his very silence makes us noisy, even in our prayers, in church or chapel, the mere consciousness that he is beside us banishes what spiritual feelings we may have cherished....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Lenten Reflection: Anger, the Fourth Capital Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. To be sure, there is such a thing as just anger or righteous wrath, such as that shown by our Lord Himself when He drove the sellers and moneychangers from the temple, as we read in St. Luke, 19:45. But His anger was directed against the sin and not against the sinner. In that way you can tell whether your anger is justified or not.

I recall the story of a family seated at their evening meal. Everything had gone wrong for mother and dad that day. They were tired. They were on edge. The children were noisy and fussy. They didn't want to eat this and they didn't want to eat that. They spilled a glass of milk and dropped gravy on the table. Finally the father exploded. In the silence that followed the storm. four-year-old Billy turned to his father and asked meekly:

"Are you mad, Daddy?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G. By fighting: kicking, scratching, pinching and punching, throwing anything they can reach at the offender are some ways angry people try to "get even" with those who have crossed them.
5. How can we overcome these sudden surges of displeasure, these risings of angry passion?
A. By anticipating and avoiding the occasion of them. If you are a driver who is easily excited by traffic tie-ups or the maneuverings of other thoughtless drivers, tell yourself as you get behind the wheel that you will control your feelings, no matter what happens.

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

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

D. Keep ever in mind the meekness and mildness of Jesus who told us:
"Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."
E. Examine yourself daily, and give yourself a little penance for each failure to avoid anger.
6. The contrast of anger and meekness stood out strikingly in an incident that took place during World War Two, when trains were overcrowded and
usually late. A long line was waiting to get into the diner. There was grouching and grumbling and even cursing on the part of most of those waiting. They cursed the railroad, they grumbled about the hot weather, they complained about the slow service in the diner, they even glared at those coming out to show that they had taken too much time to gulp their food. They blamed the engineer and the conductor for all the delays.

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

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

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

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

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

Meekness makes you more like our Lord. It gives you a peace of mind beyond all price and beyond all understanding. It helps you really to win friends and to influence people. It brings success in spiritual life as well as in your work in the world. To the meek and not to the angry will go the prize, as Christ Himself promised:
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth." St. Matthew, 5:4.
8. In striving to be meek and patient our best example and most moving inspiration is that of Christ Himself.
A. You have often heard the expression used with regard to some trying person or situation: "He would try the patience of Job."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week of Lent

From: Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All
[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" [29] Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' [31] The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [32] And the scribe said to Him, "You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask Him any question.

28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus' earlier reply (verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth. And His teaching finds its way into the man's heart. The scribe repeats what Jesus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encourages his definitive conversion: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." This encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doctrinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:
In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf. "Commentary on St. Matthew", 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: "This commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). However, if we love man for man's sake without reference to God, this love will become an obstacle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God's sake is clear proof that we love God: "If anyone says, `I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself": here our Lord establishes as the guideline for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen that God requires us to put our neighbor's need before our own; in others, not: it depends on what value, in light of God's love, needs to be put on the spiritual and material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor's, must be the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human freedom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)--an unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God's love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God's great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: "would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stronger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means requisite thereto" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 8).
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.

Why I Refuse to Support the Girl Scouts or Buy the Cookies

Girl Scouts Distribute Planned Parenthood Sex Guide at UN Meeting
By Terrence McKeegan, J.D.

(NEW YORK - C-FAM) The World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides hosted a no-adults-welcome panel at the United Nations this week where Planned Parenthood was allowed to distribute a brochure entitled “Healthy, Happy and Hot.” The event was part of the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which concludes this week. The brochure, aimed at young people living with HIV, contains explicit and graphic details on sex, as well as the promotion of casual sex in many forms....
Read more

Principles and Practices - March 12

The Normal Trend

In the abandonment all around us of those doctrines which the world has inherited from the Catholic Church, no small part of the original ethical structure remains. It would seem to be dissolving; still, no small part remains. Now what guarantee have we that this fragment of the old ethical structure which was based upon dogma will survive? The world outside the Church is changing its ethical mood rapidly. The normal trend of the process should be paganism. What motive is there in paganism for a universal care of the poor? And the application to them of knowledge and a sacrifice for them of the wealth which know­ledge can procure for its possessor?

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

The School of Love, March 11


[continued from yesterday]

...There are few who have not undergone this remarkable experience; let us own up to it and acknowledge that there are few who do not undergo it still. Yet surely the experi­ence is remarkable; if philosophy, of every school but one, is correct, then goodness should attract, not repel, and a good man, a holy man, a pious man, should be always a treasure. How, then, are we to account for this apparent contradiction? Goodness is always attractive in theory; in practice, good­ness, when it once takes hold of a man, seems to make him simply repelling.

In the first place let us be prepared to give and take; I mean, let us be prepared to own that there may be fault on both sides. The "good" man may be the intolerable bore that we think him, but it may also be that we our­selves are not whol1y without blame.

I once knew a man whom I thought pious and who occasionally got on my nerves; one day I dis­covered that he too actually thought me pious, and that accounted for much. He was trying to live up to what he thought my level, and I was giving him a very bad lead.

Or again there may be another cause. We are told that "Birds of a feather flock together;" we are also told that "Two of a trade cannot agree." Whatever be the truth of the first of these proverbs--proverbs are never more than partial truths--it is abundantly true that too much understanding, too great intimacy, tends to make us very critical. He is a great saint indeed who, on close acquaintance, does not give some matter for complaint; and the holier one may be in some respects, the more do we exact from him in others. If "no man is a hero to his valet," neither is any man a saint to his brother; for either the brother knows too much, or else his standard utterly excludes all defect....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reflections for the 3rd Week of Lent

Meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent, Walk in Love
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Lenten Reflection: The Love of Christ
"Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." St. John, 15:13.
Adapted from With Christ Through Lent
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1951)

The Scourging and Crowning
"He who is not with me is against me." St. Luke, 11:23
"He suffered under Pontius Pilate." Creed.
Adapted from Talks on the Creed
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, 1946

Ave, Maria!
"Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that nursed thee." St.Luke, 11:27.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, 1949

"The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." St. John, 10 :11.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Gospel for Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent

Luke 11:14-23

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan
[14] Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the man spoke, and the people marvelled. [15] But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons"; [16] while others, to test Him, sought from Him a sign from Heaven. [17] But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and house falls upon house. [18] And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. [19] And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. [20] But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. [21] When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; [22] but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. [23] He who is not with Me is against Me, and He who does not gather with Me scatters."

14-23. Jesus' enemies remain obstinate despite the evidence of the miracle. Since they cannot deny that He has done something quite extraordinary, they attribute it to the power of the devil, rather than admit that Jesus is the Messiah. Our Lord answers them with a clinching argument: the fact that He expels demons is proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. The Second Vatican Council reminds us of this truth: "The Lord Jesus inaugurated His Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, promised over the ages in the Scriptures [...]. The miracles of Jesus also demonstrate that the Kingdom has already come on earth: `If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you' (Luke 11:20; cf. Matthew 12:28). But principally the Kingdom of God is revealed in the person of Christ Himself, Son of God and Son of Man, who came `to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 5).

The strong man well armed is the devil, who has enslaved man; but Jesus Christ, one stronger than he, has come and conquered him and is despoiling him. St. Paul will say that Christ "disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them" (Colossians 2:15).

After the victory of Christ, the "stronger one", the words of verse 23 are addressed to mankind at large; even if people do not want to recognize it, Jesus Christ has conquered and from now on no one can adopt an attitude of neutrality towards Him: he who is not with Him is against Him.

18. Christ's argument is very clear. One of the worst evils that can overtake the Church is disunity among Christians, disunity among believers. We must make Jesus' prayer our own: "That they may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me" (John 17:21).
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.

Catholic Investigative Agency is here...

As promised, the premiere episode of's new program Catholic Investigative Agency (CIA) is now available for viewing.

The Topic: Saul Alinsky and the Catholic Church in America.

Please take time to watch this hard-hitting, factual presentation of how $280,000,000 of Catholic money has gone to Saul Alinsky style community organizing groups under the banner of "social justice".

Follow the history as well as the money and understand what ideology has secretly been working inside the Church in America since at least the 1960s.

You can't afford to miss this.

It's time to take the loosen the death grip of progressives on the Church.

Please pass this on to every person you know.

Principles and Practices - March 11

What Faith Requires

Pride is the greatest obstacle to believing in God, for it will not suffer the intellect to become the slave of Faith; 'bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ.' Faith requires that all pride of soul should be brought low and humbled before the majesty of a God who speaks and reveals His mysteries in order to receive from us that sacrifice of the understanding which is first in order; 'destroying...every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.'

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

The School of Love, March 10


IT is sometimes said, perhaps more often it is felt, that pious people are a dreadful bore. They were "all right" until they became pious; now they are utterly unbearable. Once we could talk to them, could join them in work or in play; now they will not talk, or if they do, the talk turns into piety that makes us stamp with rage; they will not play, or if they do, they make us feel that it is all "out of charity" to us; we cannot even work along­side of them any more than we can work alongside of an iceberg, or while rolling on a bed of thistles.

Nay more, and this troubles us most of all, nothing seems to make us ourselves so impious as contact with these pious people. In their absence we were "all right" and are "all right"; the moment they come into the room, our bristles instantly rise, our tongues become sharpened, our hearts are bitter as gall, our thoughts become unconquerable, so great is the storm that stirs them. When they are gone, it is well if we do not pursue them, or blacken the room they have left, with a torrent of abuse and contradiction that will give us endless remorse, and yet will be defended by us as just, and necessary, and deserved....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says Devil is in the Vatican

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that "the Devil is at work inside the Vatican", according to the Holy See's chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon".

He added: "When one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia." ...
More here.

Peasants May Not Fish from the King's Waters...

The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing some of the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters...

"When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) completed their successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to end one of the best scientifically managed big game hunts in North America (spring bear), the results of their agenda had severe economic impacts on small family businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern and central Ontario," said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

"Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting: The negative economic impacts on hard working American families and small businesses are being ignored...
How much longer will it be before you will be unable to legally grow, fish or hunt your own food and provide for your family?


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Gospel for Wednesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [17] "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. [19] Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."

17-19. In this passage Jesus stresses the perennial value of the Old Testament. It is the word of God; because it has a divine authority it deserves total respect. The Old Law enjoined precepts of a moral, legal and liturgical type. Its moral precepts still hold good in the New Testament because they are for the most part specific divine-positive promulgations of the natural law. However, our Lord gives them greater weight and meaning. But the legal and liturgical precepts of the Old Law were laid down by God for a specific stage in salvation history, that is, up to the coming of Christ; Christians are not obliged to observe them (cf. "Summa Theologiae", I-II, q. 108, a. 3 ad 3).

The law promulgated through Moses and explained by the prophets was God's gift to His people, a kind of anticipation of the definitive Law which the Christ or Messiah would lay down. Thus, as the Council of Trent defined, Jesus not only "was given to men as a redeemer in whom they are to trust, but also as a lawgiver whom they are to obey" ("De Iustificatione", can. 21).
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.

Principles and Practices - March 10

Pray More Often

Our Christianity gets cut up into too many compartments. We must not be 're­ligious' only when bells are rung at Mass on Sundays; and on weekdays for three minutes between rising and dressing, undressing and going to bed. Outside these official exercises of piety God is just as lovable, just as easy of approach, and just as near.

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

The School of Love, March 9


[continued from yesterday]

It may now be best to give some kind of Act of Contrition, not merely which shall be an act, but which shall help to secure the sinner's sincerity.

I have the burden of my sin upon my conscience; I would gladly be rid of that burden; I know that God can free me from it; I know He will free me if I am sincerely sorry for my offence against Him. So I come before Him; I recall to myself Who He is, and who I am in comparison; I let my thoughts and affections then run on, repeating each that I may be sure that I mean them.
My God,
My Creator,
My Master,
My Friend and Lover.
My Judge,
Almighty yet ail-merciful,
All angry yet all-loving,
All just yet all-seeing,
This evil thing I have done,
Evil in itself,
Evil in its degrading consequences,
Evil in its offensiveness to you,
For you have forbidden it,
You detest it,
It violates your law, your order,
It in some way hurts you,
I have done this thing,
I deserve the consequences,
I have no excuse,
Father, forgive me.
I have offended you,
The creature the Creator,
The slave the Master,
The beloved the Lover,
The culprit the Judge,
I deserve the consequences,
I have no excuse,
Father, forgive me.
I have offended you,
The son the Father,
The brother the Brother,
I have crucified your Son, Jesus,
I deserve the consequences,
I have no excuse,
Father, forgive me.
I wish I had not done it,
For my own sake,
For the sake of others,
But most for your sake,
For the sake of Jesus Christ.
I have hurt Him,
Hurt Him in His tender heart,
It shall not happen again,
With your help it shall not,
Though my evil nature craves,
Though my weakness fears,
I am determined,
For my own sake,
For your sake more than mine,
I will take the means,
To keep it far from me,
To avoid the danger,
To put it out of my life,
And all that leads to it,
But I am needy and poor,
O God! help me.
Concluding with the "Our Father," the "Our Father" itself becomes an act of per­fect contrition.
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Monday, March 08, 2010

Gospel for Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Optional Memorial: St Frances of Rome
(Preference Given to Liturgical Season)

Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness of Injuries. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
[21] Then Peter came up and said to Him (Jesus), "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" [22] Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

[23] "Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. [24] When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; [25] and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' [27] And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.' [29] So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' [30] He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay his debt. [31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. [32] Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; [33] and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' [34] And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. [35] So also My Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

21-35. Peter's question and particularly Jesus' reply prescribe the spirit of understanding and mercy which should govern Christians' behavior.

In Hebrew the figure of seventy times seven means the same as "always" (cf. Genesis 4:24): "Therefore, our Lord did not limit forgiveness to a fixed number, but declared that it must be continuous and forever" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. Matthew", 6). Here also we can see the contrast between man's ungenerous, calculating approach to forgiveness, and God's infinite mercy. The parable also clearly shows that we are totally in God's debt. A talent was the equivalent of six thousand denarii, and a denarius a working man's daily wage. Ten thousand talents, an enormous sum, gives us an idea of the immense value attaching to the pardon we receive from God. Overall, the parable teaches that we must always forgive our brothers, and must do so wholeheartedly.

"Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offense that you can suffer from them is nothing compared to what God has pardoned you" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 452).
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.

Obama Brings Anti-Life Campaign to Missouri

From Missouri Right to Life:
Dear Friend of Life -

Pres[__]ent Obama is coming to Missouri this week to promote health care reform legislation at a fundraising event for Sen. Claire McCaskill in St. Louis.

Please join members of Missouri Right to Life's Eastern Region as we peacefully demonstrate our objections to funding for abortion and other anti-life provisions in the proposed health care reform bills.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 10

WHERE: Renaissance Grand Hotel,
800 Washington Avenue,
St. Louis (Near the Convention Center)

TIME: 5:00 PM (The fundraiser begins at 6:15 PM)

Please plan to gather in the designated area (determined by law enforcement) as close to the hotel as possible at approximately 5:00 PM. Since security and parking near the hotel will be tight, please consider parking at Union Station and taking the Metro Link to the Convention Center (tickets approx. $2.25). From that station, walk west on Washington about two blocks to the hotel.

SIGNS: You are encouraged to make your own signs for the demonstration. Suggestions are:

It is of the utmost importance that we be courteous and respectful and obey all laws and requests from law enforcement.

For more information, please call 314-434-4900.


From the Illinois Federation for Right to Life:



Pres[__]ent Obama, Speaker Pelosi pull out all stops to pass massive pro-abortion health care bill -- the days immediately ahead will decide the issue

WASHINGTON -- Pres[__]ent Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are making a final, all-out push to ram through a massive health care restructuring bill that the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has branded "the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation that has ever come to the House floor for a vote."

The health care bill (H.R. 3590) has already passed the Senate, on December 24, 2009. In order to enact it, however, Obama and Pelosi must convince a majority in the House of Representatives to also vote for the bill.

The Associated Press reported on March 7: "In private pitches to Democrats, Pres[__]ent Barack Obama says he will persuade Congress to pass his health care overhaul even if it kills him and even if he has to ask deeply distrustful lawmakers to trust him on a promise the White House doesn't have the power to keep. . . .The party's strategy calls for House Democrats, despite many misgivings, to go along with a health care bill the Senate passed in December [HR. 3590]. Obama would sign it into law, but senators would promise to make numerous changes demanded by House Democrats."

"House members who vote for the Senate bill will be accountable to their constituents for what the Senate bill contains, including its pro-abortion mandates and subsidies, without regard to . . solemn assurances that Congress will revisit the issue in future legislation, or any other artifice or gimmick," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, in a detailed statement on the Senate bill issued by NRLC on March 5. "Any House member who votes for the Senate health bill is casting a career-defining pro-abortion vote."

The NRLC statement describes seven separate pro-abortion components in the 2,407-page Senate bill, including provisions that would allow direct federal funding of abortion, federal subsidies to help purchase private insurance that covers abortion, and federal regulations that would expand access to abortion. NRLC noted that these problems could have been prevented only by a comprehensive pro-life amendment such as that authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.). The House passed the Stupak Amendment on November 7, 2009, but the pro-life amendment was opposed by Pres[__]ent Obama and later rejected by the Senate, so it will not be part of the health care bill that the House actually votes on.


Time is short. Most political observers agree that if Speaker Pelosi does not succeed in ramming the Senate bill through the House by the time Congress goes into recess for Easter on March 26, the bill is effectively dead. Pelosi wants to force the vote by March 19. But, she does not yet have the votes. "I think we can get there, but I'm going to need help from any place I can get it," Pelosi told one group, according to the Los Angeles Times (March 8).

Whether she succeeds or not depends on what House members hear from their constituents during the next two weeks.

Please immediately TELEPHONE the Washington, D.C. office of your U.S. House member. Any U.S. House office can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. But better yet CLICK HERE and enter your zip code into the "Call Now" box, and you will be shown a direct-dial phone number for your representative in the U.S. House, along with helpful short talking points that you can use during your call. You will also be shown a "Your Feedback" form, which allows you to easily send a short e-mail report to NRLC about how your conversation went, if you wish to do so. This feedback is very helpful to NRLC's lobbying efforts against the health care bill.

The best time to call is between 9 AM and 6 PM Eastern Time. If you call during the evening, you are likely to get a recording machine or a message asking that you call again during office hours.

Even if you previously have called your representative to oppose the health care bill -- please do it again! And ask any like-minded friends and relatives to do the same. Remember, Pres[__]ent Obama and Speaker Pelosi are putting all their muscle into this, and they are getting plenty of help from the mainstream news media. It is critical that your representative gets loud and clear guidance from the people who he or she actually represents.

AGAIN please immediately TELEPHONE the Washington, D.C. office of your U.S. House member. Any U.S. House office can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. But better yet CLICK HERE and enter your zip code into the "Call Now" box, and you will be shown a direct-dial phone number for your representative in the U.S. House, along with helpful short talking points that you can use during your call.

Principles and Practices - March 9

Worth It All

The Catholic missionary goes out to heathen countries knowing that he brings with him a boon that is beyond all price. Were the result of his life's work but to make a single convert, his labours would have been well spent. Without him that soul would never have obtained grace, but would have passed out of this life still in bondage to sin: through him it has been delivered from Satan and raised to be partaker of the Divine nature. He has achieved a result of inestimable value.

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

The School of Love, March 8


[continued from yesterday]

As has just been said, each of these is a test and proof of the sincerity of the rest.

Do I really acknowledge that what I have done is wrong? Then I shall be sorry for having done it; if I am not sorry, it is a sign I am not quite sincere in my acknowledgment.

Am I really sorry for what I have done? Then not only shall I wish I had not done it, but I shall determine that, so far as I am able, it shall not occur again.

Am I really determined it shall not occur again? Then I will go back to the beginning, look and see where the wrong came in, and take means that in the future it shall be eliminated; in other words I shall determine to avoid, not only sin, but also its occasions.

In this last lies the real test of our sincerity; if the determination does not reach as far as the occasions of sin, it is a sign we are not whole­hearted in our condemnation of it, and there­fore our contrition is not perfect.

That we may be the more sure of sincerity in our contrition, it will be found by experi­ence that the deeper our motive the more true will contrition be.

Fear, for instance, will make us repent in some measure, but it will not touch the heart of the matter; that is why we speak of sorrow built on fear as imperfect contrition.

Sorrow founded on a sense of duty is better: founded on devotion it is better still; it is best of all when it is founded on the realisation of offended love. This is why so much depends on our attitude to God when we make our Act of Contrition; if we look upon Him as merely our Judge our contrition is of one kind, if as our lawful Master it is of another, if as our Leader it is yet a third; but it is best of all when we look upon Him as Love offended by what we have done - Love in Himself, Love in Friendship with ourselves, Love atoning for our deeds by enduring every stab they inflict....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gospel for Monday, 3rd Week of Lent

Luke 4:24-30

Jesus Preaches in Nazareth (Continuation)

[24] And He said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; [26] and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." [28] When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. [29] And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow on the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. [30] But passing through the midst of them He went away.


22-29. At first the people of Nazareth listened readily to the wisdom of Jesus' words. But they were very superficial; in their narrow-minded pride they felt hurt that Jesus, their fellow-townsman, had not worked in Nazareth the wonders He had worked elsewhere. They presume they have a special entitlement and they insolently demand that He perform miracles to satisfy their vanity, not to change their hearts. In view of their attitude, Jesus performs no miracle (His normal response to lack of faith: cf., for example, His meeting with Herod in Luke 23:7-11); He actually reproaches them, using two examples taken from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17:9 and 2 Kings 5:14), which show that one needs to be well-disposed if miracles are to lead to faith. His attitude so wounds their pride that they are ready to kill Him. This whole episode is a good lesson about understanding Jesus. We can understand Him only if we are humble and are genuinely resolved to make ourselves available to Him.

30. Jesus does not take flight but withdraws majestically, leaving the crowd paralyzed. As on other occasions men do Him no harm; it was by God's decree that He died on a cross (cf. John 18:32) when His hour had come.
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.

Principles and Practices - March 8

A Fact

How slow the real progress of the world is, after all! Men are constantly striving to find out all that they don't know, and as con­stantly forgetting a great deal of what they have already learned.

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

The School of Love, March 7


[continued from yesterday]

...For practical purposes it may be said that an Act of Contrition consists of three parts, each of which is really a test of the sincerity of the other two. It contains
(1) an acknowledg­ment that I have done wrong,
(2) an expres­sion of regret that I have done it,
(3) a deter­mination that, because it is wrong, I will not do it again.
For that contrition to be super­natural then each of these must be referred in some way to God; hence they must be rewritten in some such words as the following:
(1) an acknowledgment that I have offended God,
(2) an expression df sorrow that I have offended Him,
(3) a determination that, be­cause this deed is an offence to Him, it shall not be done again.
It is a question of the moment when the Act of Contrition is made, not of the past or the future; I may have fallen often in the past, I may fall again in the future, but if here and now my contrition includes, sincerely, each of the three parts just mentioned, then it is true, and, what is more, in the long run it will have its effect....

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

Lenten Reflection: Lust, the Third Capital Sin

"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory: for the memory thereof is immortal: because it is known both with God and with men.

"When it is present, they imitate it: and they desire it when it hath with­ drawn itself, and it triumpheth crowned forever, winning the reward of undefiled conflicts."
Wisdom, 4:1-2.

Way back in the year 303 a mother and her daughter were kneeling at an Italian grotto near Catania in Sicily, the spot where the remains of the Virgin-Martyr St. Agatha were buried. The mother's name was Eutychia, a wealthy widow, who was suffering from a hemorrhage. The daughter's name was Lucy, who was beautiful beyond words, and who had vowed her virginity to God, despite the desire of her mother to marry her to a charm­ing and accomplished young man. Both were praying that the Lord would cure the elder woman's ailment. Secretly Lucy was asking light and wis­dom that her mother might see things her way. Long and fervently they had prayed when suddenly St. Agatha appeared to Lucy and told her:
"Your faith has come to your mother's aid. The Lord Jesus Christ will through you render Syracuse illustrious because by your virginity you have prepared for Him a pleasant dwelling in your heart."
Both prayers of Lucy were answered. Her mother was healed in body and also in heart, consenting to Lucy's desire to consecrate herself entirely to the Lord, and dispose of her wealth to the poor.

Meanwhile the young man to whom she had been betrothed, in his anger and disappointment, reported to the pagan governor that Lucy was a Chris­tian and an enemy of the gods of Rome. The Roman governor called our heroine before him, and was struck with her marvelous beauty.

"If you want to save your life, worship our gods," commanded the governor. "I do not worship devils," was Lucy's firm and calm reply.

Cleverly but vainly the governor tried to shake her constancy. When he asked her how she could answer him so clearly and fearlessly she told him that it was the "spirit of the Father" in her, explaining that they who lead a chaste and holy life are the temple of the Holy Spirit. A devilish and brutish plan leaped into the mind of the pagan governor. He would place this innocent girl in a house of impurity, where her innocence would be taken from her by force. Without flinching Lucy declared:
"If you order me to suffer violence against my will, I shall not only lose my chastity but will win a double crown."
"Take her away," cried the governor, "take her away."

But the rough soldiers could not move her from the spot. Fuming and furious, and blind to the miracle, the governor ordered a fire built about her, but the flames did not harm her. Then he ordered a soldier to draw his sword and stab her. The pure blood of the virgin-martyr St. Lucy spurted over the shining whiteness of the marble floor.

In this traditional story of the martyrdom of St. Lucy there is an even greater contrast than that between her red blood and the white floor. It was the striking contrast between her snow-white purity and the bloody lust of her persecutors.

1. Lust, the third of the capital sins, means an immoderate love of fleshly pleasure. It is an unregulated and uncontrolled desire for impure satis­factions. It is a vice that creeps into every walk of life. The fact that people are married does not free them from the fetters of lust, or at least from the danger of lustful desires.

2. This sin is directly opposed to the sanctity of God, who created the human body for a holy purpose, and who makes the body of a Christian His dwelling place, as St. Lucy so firmly and clearly explained to her pagan judge.

Through the Sixth and the Ninth Commandments God has forbidden all forms of lust. The Sixth Commandment forbids all sins of impurity with another's wife or husband, which is the strict meaning of adultery, and it also forbids all other external acts of impurity with ourselves or with others. The Ninth Commandment forbids all interior sins, whether of thought or desire, which are contrary to chastity.

We sin against this Ninth Commandment when we purposely and knowingly cause or keep impure thoughts or desires. This applies not only when we have an impure thought and desire to carry out some impurity, but also when we take pleasure in a thought and do not desire its accomplishment, and even when we are conscious of such thoughts or desires and wilfully neglect or refuse to put them away.

3. Every sin of lust is a mortal sin, when committed with sufficient knowledge and with full consent of the will. Some sins of lust are more grievous than others, because they are more unnatural, more hateful and more condemnable. Impurity is a capital sin:
A. Because God has forbidden impurity of all kinds by His Sixth and Ninth Commandments as well as by frequent, direct condemnation of lust through the pages of Sacred Scripture.

B. Because God has punished in terrible and dreadful ways the sin of impurity. Read the story of­
i. The deluge that covered the earth in Genesis, 7:11.

ii. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, 19:24.

iii. And the death of 24,000 Israelites in Numbers, 25:9.
C. Because it reduces man to the level of a selfish, unthinking beast, putting the lower brute passions above the higher part of man.

D. Because it is considered by all men as a most shameful sin. The very fact that the lustful seek darkness and secrecy is a proof of the shame and disgrace that attaches to this vice.
4. Rightly can we call impurity a capital sin, when we consider its dread­ful and certain consequences:

A. Unlike almost all other sins, which affect only one or the other power, such as the mind, the will, or some of the senses, lust ruins man's entire being, body and soul, and becomes the one constant thought and brutish aim of his existence.

B. Lust drives a man to every other kind of sin in order to satisfy his immoderate craving for sexual pleasure. It causes lying, slanders, stealing, murder, marital unfaithfulness, and disregard for lawful authority. Every day the news brings you proof, glaring, positive proof that lust is the source of a host of other sins.

C. Impurity ruins the dignity of the human being. Whoever does not look at the sexual appetite through the eyes of God's law, sinks to the level of a brute. And whoever gives himself to the practice of unnatural impurities such as homozexuality, sinks lower than the brute. Lust makes man a slave. It weakens will power and destroys health.

D. Impurity undermines human society by poisoning the very source of life, namely, marriage and the family. These are built, as society is built, on moral purity and strength. When impurity becomes nationwide, it destroys, as it did so terribly and so decisively ancient Rome.

E. Impurity causes the loss of more souls than any other kind of sin.
i. It is the easiest to commit, especially in our age of unlimited freedom and license.

ii. It is the hardest to abandon, because it affects the entire crea­ture - his body and his soul.

iii. It blinds the intellect. The mind that is impure cannot concen­trate and cannot think clearly, because impurity is constantly present and over-powering.

iv. It hardens the heart. The urge to immoderate sexual satisfac­tion becomes so strong that the normal, healthy emotions of the heart are smothered.

v. It creates a distaste for religion, a disgust for prayer, a weak­ening and final loss of faith, and impenitence at the last. Just as lust causes many to leave the Church, so it causes many to stay out of the Church. We recall the incident of the last cen­tury that took place in the parlor of Chateaubriand, the famous French author. His guests for the most part were unbelieving scientists, authors and painters. They spoke of religion only to say that it was impossible for an educated man of modern times to be a believer. Chateaubriand stood up and spoke:

"Gentlemen, place your hands upon your hearts. Would you not become believers, if you could live pure lives?"

In our day many would have to answer "Yes" to that question. They would become believers, if they could lead pure lives; rather, if they wanted to lead pure lives. Ask those who leave the Church, and if they are honest, most will declare that at bottom their stumbling-block was impurity.

vi. Lust causes some of the most loathsome, painful diseases, and has caused more deaths than all the wars of history. Look at the social and sexual diseases so common in our country today, sapping the strength of our manhood, destroying the health of families, causing untold misery and expense. Unfortunately this disastrous result of impurity is the only one considered by some individuals. It is not a sufficient deterrent to lust. Speak­ing of the impure man Job declares:
"His bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust." Job, 20:11.
5. Lust shows itself in various ways:
A. It is lust purposely and knowingly to cause or to keep impure pictures in the mind.

B. It is lust to read impure, sexy books and magazines or to watch such shows on TV.

C. It is lust knowingly to attend movies that are morally objectionable.

D. It is lust to hear and repeat sexy stories, and talk of sexual things for the pleasure of it.

E. It is lust to touch oneself impurely, or to cause impure feelings in oneself by reading, or by looking at impure pictures.

F. It is lust to touch another sexually, or to arouse impure feelings in oneself or in another by prolonged, passionate kissing, by touching another's body in improper places, or by impure conversation, con­duct, or dress. Too many have the mistaken idea that the only serious sin of lust is going the limit.

G. It is lust to use any artificial and unnatural method of birth control.
6. There is only one way to overcome this capital sin of lust, and that is to develop the opposite virtue of chastity. Chastity is that virtue which keeps us pure in body and soul before God and man.

It is a virtue that makes men like to angels. It is even called "the angelic virtue." It gives a soul great power with God: it keeps the mind clear; it warms the heart; it strengthens the will; it provides a fertile field and nourishment for all the other virtues. It even works miracles, as we saw in the story of St. Lucy, whom the soldiers could not budge physically when they were commanded to take her to a place of sin. Purity has a positive influence over human beings, even drawing the admiration of the impure. It gives a deep and lasting interior peace, and fills the heart with true love for God and man.

7. Such a necessary, excellent, and beautiful virtue is certainly worth striving for. What are the means? You have heard them time and again from the Church, but perhaps in this serious time of Lent when we see our Lord suffering in body and soul for the impurities of the world, when we see Him stripped and beaten and bleeding, when we behold Him nailed to a tree for the lusts of men, perhaps at this time we will consider more seriously not only the wickedness of lust, but the wonderful beauty of purity.
A. The first step to purity is to really want to be pure. If we really want to be chaste over half the battle is won. The trouble is that many want to eat their cake and have it in this matter. They want to be pure and impure at the same time. Make your choice, a deter­mined choice.

B. Avoid the occasions. Avoid as you would a contagious disease those places, people, situations, which led you into sin in the past, or which tempted you severely, or which you have heard are usually the cause of sin.

They tell the story that Gene Tunney, the former heavyweight champion boxer of the world was being tendered a party by some New York admirers. The hall was filled. After the banquet they put on a floor show, a feature of which was a number of scantily dressed girls. At once Tunney, the champion, rose, reached for his hat, and declared for all to hear:
"Gentlemen, I did not come to be insulted. These things are against all decorum and decency, and I will not be a part of them. You will have to excuse me. Good-night."
He left the hall. Soon others followed and in a short time there was no one left to watch the shady show. Tunney never showed himself more of a champion than when he left this occasion of sin and delivered a telling blow for chastity.

C. Have a humble attitude in the matter, realizing that without God's grace you cannot be chaste. Realize and repeat the words of Wisdom:
"And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it, and this also was a point of wisdom, to know whose gift it was." Wisdom, 8:21.
D. Along with this humble attitude, have confidence in God. With God's help you can count on victory. Never forget the words of St. Paul:
"God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength but with the temptation you may be able to bear it."1 Corinthians, 10:13.
E. The soul who wishes to be pure must pray. God will give His help to those who ask it. It would be revealing to know how little, if at all, impure people pray. Here's a suggestion: have some short prayer for purity which you will say frequently and regularly. For example:
"Immaculate Heart of Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy."

A prayer to the Infant Christ, to St. Anthony, or to your patron or favorite saint, should be ever in your heart and often on your lips. Say that prayer often in your untempted moments, so that when temptation comes, your favorite appeal to God will rise at once from your heart and you will get the help you need. All too often we
throwaway our best weapon, prayer, just when we need it the most, that is, when we are tempted. A crucifix, a holy picture, your Rosary will be priceless reminders and helps in this regard.

Regular habits of prayer are helpful and necessary. Morning and evening prayers need not be lengthy, but they do need to be regular and fervent. If the couple who practice birth control would kneel down and pray together each evening, they would soon abandon their lustful practice.

If those keeping company would say a prayer to­gether, they would not fall into sin so easily. If individuals would pray at those times and places when they know they often commit personal sins, solitary sins, they would soon overcome the habit. An excellent practice, used by thousands with effect, is that of saying three Hail Marys every day for the virtue of purity. Try it.

F. Another essential for purity is penance or self-denial. People who never deny themselves things which are lawful, can never develop the will power to say "No" to what is unlawful, especially when it is prompted by the powerful passion of lust. What penance are you doing during this Lent? If you are lax in penance, you are having trouble in being pure. Think of what the great saints did to remain pure. St. Paul did hard manual labor to overcome temptations to impurity; St. Jerome cut his breast with a stone and studied the difficult language of Hebrew; St. Anthony of the desert worked the soil and lived on bread and water; St. Benedict rolled himself naked in a thorny bush; St. Bernard jumped into an icy pond; St. Francis of Assisi toiled and prayed, and threw himself into a thorn bush. If saints went to such lengths to preserve holy purity, how can you expect to be pure unless you practice some penance?

G. Keep busy, first with the duties of your state in life, your job, your school work. Have something definite to do in your free time. On dates and in the company of others plan what you will do. It makes social life more interesting and more safe.

H. Receive the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion as fre­quently as possible. You cannot approach the table of the Lord fre­quently and remain impure. Either you will give up Communion or you will give up your sins of sex.

I. Choose the best, the healthful, the wholesome in the matter of read­ing, recreation, companions, sports and social activities. Drop the book and drop the companion who cause you impure temptations.
8. With the inspiring example of St. Lucy before you, an example that has been repeated throughout the centuries, an example which you will find all around you, if you look closely and wisely, with her example and the help and protection of God, you can make yourself worthy of the praise of the Book of Wisdom:
"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory." Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)