Saturday, October 06, 2007

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

October's installments of Our Blessed Lady's Saturday are dedicated, as is the month of October, to Our Lady of the Rosary.

Queen of the Holy Rosary

Queen of the Holy Rosary!
Thee as our Queen we greet,
And lay our lowly, loving prayers
Like roses at thy feet.
Would that these blossoms of our souls
Were far more fair and sweet.

Queen of the Joyful Mysteries!
Glad news God's envoy bore.
The Baptist's mother thou didst tend;
Angels thy Babe adore,
Whom with two doves thou ransomest;
Lost, He is found once more.

Queen of the Dolorous Mysteries!
Christ 'mid the olives bled,
Scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns,
Beneath His Cross He sped
Up the steep hill; and there once more
Thine arms embraced Him--dead!

Queen of the Glorious Mysteries!
Christ from the tomb has flown,
Has mounted to the highest heaven
And sent His Spirit down
And soon He raises thee on high
To wear thy heavenly crown.

Queen of the Holy Rosary!
We, too, have joys and woes.
May they, like thine, to triumph lead!
May labor earn repose,
And may life's sorrows and life's joys
In heavenly glory close.

Cyril Robert
Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine,
Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1946.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday At the Foot Of the Cross

Prayer of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

O my God! How have I spent so many years, which Thou hast given me in order to secure my eternal salvation? Thou, my Redeemer, hast purchased my soul with Thy blood, and hast consigned it to me that I might attend to its salvation; and I have labored only for its perdition by offending Thee who hast loved me so tenderly. I thank Thee for giving me time to be able to repair the great loss which I have suffered. I have lost my soul and Thy grace. Lord! I am sorry with my whole heart for my past offenses, and I resolve, henceforth, to lose everything, even my life, rather than forfeit Thy friendship. I love Thee above all things, and I resolve always to love Thee, my Sovereign Good! who art worthy of infinite love. Assist me, my Jesus, that this purpose may not be like my past resolutions, to which I have been always unfaithful. Take me out of life rather than suffer me ever again to offend Thee, or ever to cease to love Thee. O Mary, my hope, after Jesus, save me by obtaining for me holy perseverance.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The First Peak Foliage In New England

The latest foliage report indicates that peak foliage has been reached in extreme northern Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

I have already tasted the first of this year's cider, and had the first cider donuts. Yummy.


And the Winner Is...

The Traditional Latin Mass or TLM.

Check the numbers at Father Z's WDTRPRS


Today Would Have Been My Father's 87th Birthday

He died December 31, 1989, at the age of 69.

V. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
V. Requiescat in pace.
R. Amen.

“The Old Man”
The tears have all been shed now
We've said our last good-byes
His soul's been blessed and he's laid to rest
And it's now I feel alone.
He was more than just a father
My teacher, my best friend
He can still be heard in the tunes we shared
When I play them on my own.

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

As a boy he'd take me walkin'
By mountian, field, and stream
And he showed me things not known to kings
Just secret between him and me.
Like the colors of a pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the holly tree

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

I thought he'd live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly and the years roll by
For a father and his son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance to tell him thanks
For everything he'd done

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memories linger on
God, I miss him ... The Old Man.


Up One Game

The Red Sox last night made a good start in the playoffs, besting the Los Angeles Angels (formerly known as the California Angels, and also formerly known as the Anaheim Angels) 4-0 at Fenway in the first of the best-of-five series. Twenty-game winner Josh Beckett threw a 4-hitter at the Angels, while Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz homered. Next game Friday night at Fenway (then off to Anaheim for games Sunday, and if necessary, Monday, with a fifth game at Fenway if needed).

Go Red Sox!!!!!!!!


Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis is a great saint, if you can get past the syrupy nonsense people who claim to be devoted to him claim is his legacy. Aside from his personal holiness, and I doubt that many could take holiness to a higher level than Francis did, there is his founding of one of the most important orders in the history of Christendom 9actually, he founded three orders, and others have sprung up from that tradition and family of orders), his invention of the Christmas creche scene, his extension of the love of Christ to animals and all creation, and his being a stigmatist, his is also one of the most striking conversion stories in the history of the Church.
The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint Francis took mortification of the flesh very seriously. When he found the desires of the flesh beginning to take hold, he used to roll around in thorn bushes, to drive them away. If only moderns did that, I doubt we would have heard anything of a pervert priest scandal these last 5 years.

There was no humbug about Saint Francis. He truly loved those in need, the poor, and all creation. Where friars since his time have grown fat and overfed, with far too much luxury for a mendicant order, he, who came from wealth, lived a life of real poverty. And where modern friars make a show of doing good works institutionally, but then drive the poor from their own door, Saint Francis adopted a radical love for others that involved genuine giving of himself.

Saint Francis entertained an abiding, even fierce desire to give his life for the Faith. He made several efforts to go to Moslem lands, so that he would be martyred. But obstacles prevented his first efforts. But he persisted. When he finally made it to Moslem-controlled territory, the local emir or pasha listened politely to him, discoursed with him, and then sent him back to Italy. Later, when some seven of his followers were martyred by the Moslems, he exclaimed, "Now I have seven true friars minor!". Thwarted in his own effort to die for the Faith, he recklessly undertook dramatic penances, and did things like embracing lepers.

The stigmata he received, like that of Saint Padre Pio, gave constant pain and discharge. Also like Pio, he had the gift of bilocation.

One thing most people don't know about Saint Francis is that he was never ordained a priest. He could never say Mass. All he could do was assist at Mass. Why wasn't he ordained? Was he illiterate? No. Too stupid to learn the Latin? No. He was too humble to take onto himself the role of the priest.

Put aside the phony "Prayer of Saint Francis" which he had nothing to do with, and was not even written until the 20th century, when it was "discovered" by an American bishop visiting Italy. Pray instead this prayer, truly the work of Saint Francis:

Hail Lady, Holy Queen, Holy Mary Mother of God,
Who art the Virgin made Church
And the One elect by the Most Holy Father of Heaven,
Whom He consecrated with His Most Holy beloved Son
And with the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete;
Thou in whom was and is all fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace;
Hail His Tabernacle;
Hail His Home.

Hail His Vestment;
Hail His Handmaid;
Hail His Mother
And hail all thee holy virtues, which through the grace and illumination of the Holy Ghost are infused into the hearts of the faithful, so that from those unfaithful thou make them faithful to God.

Or this prayer, which he said before the Crucifix of San Damiano, when he was given his commission:

All-highest, glorious God, cast Thy light into the darkness of my heart. Give me true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, with wisdom and perception, O Lord, so that I may do what is truly Thy holy Will.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

A Doctor of the Church, a great Carmelite, and one of the most popular of saints is honored today in the traditional calendar. Her feast is October 1st in the Pauline calendar.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mathetes Award Nomination

I would like to thank 4HisChurch of Dymphna's Well for nominating me for a Mathetes Award for Excellence In Discipleship which is awarded by Dan King of Management By God. She herself has been nominated by a couple of people for the award.

Thanks again!

If I had to nominate 5 bloggers, I think these would be my choices (in no particular order):

1. Penitens of A Penitent Blogger, for bringing the lives of the saints to life for us on a daily basis with thoughtful reflection.

2. Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli for insightful commentary on Holy Scripture from a Carmelite perspective.

3. Seminarian Matthew of A Catholic Life, for joyous exploration of Catholic life from a traditional perspective. Matthew's blog is still there, but he entered the seminary over a month ago, and has put blogging aside for at least a year.

4. New Catholic at Rorate Caeli, who was absolutely indispensable in the days leading up to the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in keeping us traddies informed and on the same page as the Holy Father.

5. Elena Maria Vidal of Tea At Trianon for championing the reputation of the late Queen of France Marie Antoinette against the calumnies hurled at her by the enemies of the Church and tradition.

Those are my top five. But I also have two Honorable Mentions.

1. Chris Gillibrand of Catholic Church Conservation and The English Martyrs Blog for tireless efforts in documenting the destruction of Catholic culture in Europe and encouraging the little palimpsests of restoration we occasionally see in that quarter.

2. Vir Speluncae Catholicus of The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen for holding people's feet to the fire with humor, and in a plain-spoken manner no one can mistake.


Oh My!!!!!

Just on a whim, I checked to see what tuition is now at Saint John's Preparatory School, my alma mater. Would you believe it is now $15,400.00? How can anyone afford that, especially if they have more than one son?

But I really got a shock when I checked out the much-more-exclusive Portsmouth Abbey prep school, where tuition, for a boarding student, is now $39,000.00 per year! And even day students pay $26,820.00!

So, how about college?

Boston College, my alma mater, is now offering freshman tuition of $35,150, and a host of mandatory fees that bring the cost for a freshman residing on campus to $47,139.00. Commuters pay just a little more than the tuition.

I well remember a conversation I had with another student 20 years ago. I remember opining to her that, by the time people our age had children in college, it would cost $50,000 per year per child. I guess I was right about that. Then again, the way tuition has been climbing since about 1975, you didn't need to be a genius to spot that one coming, even back in 1987.


The Feast of the Guardian Angels

OK, no mention of the Guardian Angels would be complete without Hansel and Gretel, the image in a million homes and instantly familiar to almost all Christians. Now we move past this chestnut to other, better traditional images of our Guardian Angels at work.

I have often thought, though it is utterly inadequate, and probably impossible, that I would love to sit down with my Guardian Angel, and chat about thngs over a cigar and a glass or two of Drambuie, and a darned fine steak. A meaningless impulse, since Angels probably do not consume things like that. But, one born of gratitude and love, nevertheless.

One notion about Angels that I am pretty sure we need to dispel is that Angels are the souls of people who have died, gone to Heaven, and "earned their wings." Frank Capra, God love him, really planted that one firmly in the American psyche in It's A Wonderful Life. But it is wrong. Angels are a separate order of creation. People do not become Angels. They can become Saints. Not Angels. Angels never were people living on earth. Saints were. Therefore, we ask for the intercession of "All the Angels and Saints." We are praying for the prayerful assistance of two different and non-overlapping groups.

Objectively speaking, my Guardian Angel has a name. He (and I am using the masculine pronoun as a neuter) has an existence separate from my own. For all I know, he has been the Guardian Angel to many people over the millenia, and will guard many more after me. Therefore, since he is known as Whatever-His-True-Name-Is, it is ridiculous for me to give him a name. Because the chance of that name coinciding with what his true name is is very small. Therefore, I just call him, "My Guardian Angel."

People who thrive off popular culture over the last 20 years or so have gone absolutely ga-ga over Angels. Most of what we see about them is sickly-sweet and sentimental in the extreme. And even in these very traditional Catholic images of Guardian Angels, the people they are guarding are always depicted as children. Why are there no good traditional depictions of Guardian Angels watching over adults? My own upbringing did not emphasize the presence of our Guardian Angels. But I have felt the presence of mine strongly as an adult, and never more than in the last 5 years.

The powers of our Guardian Angels are impossible for us to fathom. They work in numerous ways. I know I have benefitted from my Guardian Angel's power to delay me with something that annoys me, but delays me just enough to keep me from some catastrophe, like a wild car wreak.

The number of ways in which my own Guardian Angel watches out for me is incomprehensible. He must be working non-stop, and working not just in my vicinity and on what I am concentrating on at the moment, but in numerous vicinities and numerous spheres of my existence simultaneously. The power of the Guardian Angel to protect me in so many ways all the time is, while awesome to me, just a pale shadow of the power of God.

In a family, the various Guardian Angels of the household must cooperate with each other in interesting ways. They must be very sad when families break up.

We, each of us, owe our Guardian Angel thanks in so many ways, we can never adequately express it. Our Guardian Angel has done more for us than even our earthly parents. And, unlike our earthly parents, our Guardian Angel is always there until the moment we die, and probably still protecting us in Purgatory. Thank you, Guardian Angel. I love you.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and to guard, to rule and to guide.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Out With the Old Marini, In With the New Marini

Let us hope that this is the end for the ludicrous vestments foisted upon the Holy Father, and the ridiculous and downright disrespectful things he was subjected to in papal liturgy.

Given that reconnecting with the grand traditions of the Church and restoring dignity and solemnity to liturgy are main themes of this pontificate, the old Marini's continued tenure as papal MC was incomprehensible, except when you understand that the Holy Father is a scholar, gentleman, and a man of God, and not a party politician, eager to replace the previous administration's minions with his own men. There is no curial "spoils system."

Still, the garish vestments the old Marini is said to have insisted on (overriding the intentions of the Austrians to vest the Holy Father in antique baroque vestments) made the Holy Father look less dignified than he deserved to look. And papal liturgists must be of one mind with the pontiff they are serving, not intent on doing their own thing.

Let's face a further fact, the 1970s were tacky, and the taste sensibilities formulated in that age need to be jettisoned. The old Marini was firmly a man of the 1970s (read, "Spirit of Vatican II"). And let us also face the fact that a papal MC whose notions of what is good liturgy are not in accord with those of the Holy Father will not have long to abide in his position.

The Holy Father has struggled with the old Marini's nostrums for 2.5 years. His tolerance was incredible. I know I would not have tolerated what he tolerated for ten minutes. Pope Benedict is truly a humble man with a great deal of patience.


Three Cheers For Bishop Murphy Of Rockville Center!

Father Zuhlsdorf has the reason.

Imagine, a bishop telling a pastor to put the reserved Blessed Sacrament back into a tabernacle located in the reredos of the old high altar, in order to instill a sense of respect for the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in a "chatty" (I'd say, probably, unruly and downright disrespectful) parish.

Some bishops go out of their way to block efforts by pastors to do this.

Good going Bishop Murphy! Would that all bishops and pastors followed this excellent example.


Weekend Sports Wrap-Up

Of course, pride of place here in New England goes to the Red Sox, who Friday night clinched the American League Eastern Division championship, and finished the season tied with the Cleveland Indians for the best record in the American League. The City of Boston is holding a giant rally for the Red Sox today at City Hall Plaza. They start the playoffs against the California?, no, Anaheim?, no, Los Angeles, oh yeah, that's their name this week, Angels on Wednesday.
GO RED SOX!!!!!!

Boston College, despite being unimpressive in their 24-14 victory over UMass on Saturday, benefited from other teams ranked ahead of them having off weeks. They surged in the AP Poll from 11th or 12th last week to 7th this week. They are 5-0, and face a tough Bowling Green team this week.

I wish my other Eagles were doing so well. Being a SJP alum, one gets accustomed to victory (I don't thing the golf team has lost a tournament since I was a student there almost 30 years ago). So enduring defeats by Everett last weekend, and by Brockton this past weekend does not sit well. Perhaps this is a rebuilding year for the Prep.

The New England Patriots take on the Cincinnati Bengals tonight on Monday Night Football.


October Is Devoted To Our Lady of the Rosary

So let's warm up for the month with one of my favorite images.



A stand of White Birches in Gorham, New Hampshire

Important feasts observed during the month of October include:

1st St. Theresa of Lisieux
2nd Guardian Angels
4th St. Francis of Assisi
7th Our Lady of the Rosary (Lepanto)
9th St. Denis
11th Bl. Pope John XXIII
12th St. Wilfred of York
13th St. Edward the Confessor
15th St. Terese of Avila
16th St. Gall and St. Gerard Majella
17th St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
18th St. Luke the Evangelist
19th North American Martyrs
21st St. Gaspare de Bufalo
22nd St. Mary Salome
23rd St. John of Capistrano
25th Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, and SS. Crispin and Crispinian
28th St. Jude and St. Simon
31st All Hallow's Eve (Halloween)

The month of October is dedicated by Holy Mother the Church to the Holy Rosary and Our Blessed Lady of the Rosary.

The entire month of October is within the Season After Pentecost, or "Ordinary Time".

Popular novenas during the month of October include the Novena to Saint Jude.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's published prayer intentins for the month of October, 2007 are:

That the Christians who are in minority situations may have the strength and. courage to live their faith and persevere in bearing witness to it.

Mission: That World Missionary Day may be a propitious occasion for kindling an ever greater missionary awareness in every baptized person.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB:

THE paralytic carrying his bed is the subject of this day's Gospel, and gives the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost its title. This Sunday is inserted in the missal immediately after the Ember-days of autumn. We will not, like the liturgists of the Middle Ages, discuss the question of its having taken the place of the vacant Sunday, which formerly used always to follow the ordination of the sacred ministers, in the manner we have elsewhere described, Manuscript sacramentaries and lectionaries of very ancient date give it the name, which was so much in use, of Dominica vacat. Whatever may be the conclusion arrived at, there is one interesting point for consideration, viz., that in the Mass of this day the order of the lessons taken from St. Paul is broken. The Letter to the Ephesians, which has furnished the Epistles since the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, is to-day interrupted, and in its stead we have some verses from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, wherein the apostle gives thanks to God for the manifold gratuitous gifts granted, in Christ Jesus, to the Church. Now, the powers conferred by the imposition of the bishop's hands on the ministers of the Church are the most marvellous gift that is known on earth, yea, in heaven itself. The other portions of the Mass, too, are, as we shall see further on, most appropriate to the prerogatives of the new priesthood. So that the liturgy of the present Sunday is particularly interesting when it immediately follows the Ember-days of September. But this coincidence is not of very frequent occurrence, at least as the liturgy now stands; nor can we dwell longer on these subjects without going too far into archeology, and exceeding our limits.

The Introits of the Sunday Masses since Pentecost have hitherto been taken from the Psalter. From Ps. xii. to Ps. cxviii, the Church, without ever changing the order of these sacred canticles, chose from each of them, as its own turn came, the verses most appropriate to the liturgy of each Sunday. But, dating from to-day, she is going to select her Introits elsewhere, with one exception, however, when she will again turn to this, the Book by excellence of divine praise. Her future opening anthems for the dominical liturgy to the end of the year will be taken from various other Books of the old Testament. For this eighteenth Sunday we have Jesus, son of Sirach, the inspired writer of Ecclesiasticus, asking God to ratify the fidelity of His prophets5 by the accomplishment of what they foretold. The present interpreters of the divine oracles are the pastors, whom the Church sends, in her own name, to preach the word of salvation and peace:let us, her children, pray with her that their words may never be void.

The last coming of the Son of Man is no longer far off! The approach of that final event, which is to put the Church in full possession of her divine Spouse, redoubles her hopes; but the last judgment, which is also to pronounce the eternal perdition of so great a number of her children, mingles fear with her desire; and these two sentiments of hers will henceforth be continually brought forward in the holy liturgy.

It is evident that expectation has been, so to say, an essential characteristic of her existence. Separated from her Lord, she would have been sighing all day long in this vale of tears, had not the love which possesses her driven her to spend herself, unselfishly and unreservedly, for Him who is absolute Master of her whole heart. She, therefore, devotes herself to labour and suffering, to prayers and tears. But her devotedness, unlimited as it has been, has not made her hopes less ardent. A love without desires is not a virtue of the Church; she condemns it in her children as being an insult to the Spouse.

So just and, at the same time, so intense were, from the very first, these her aspirations that eternal Wisdom wished to spare His bride, by concealing from her the duration of her exile. The day and hour of His return is the one sole point upon which, when questioned by His apostles, Jesus refused to enlighten His Church. That secret constituted one of the designs of God's government of the world; but, besides that, it was also a proof of the compassion and affection of the Man-God; the trial would have been too cruel; and it was better to leave the Church under the impression, which after all was a true one, that the end was nigh in God's sight, with whom a thousand years are as one day. This explains how it is that the apostles, the interpreters of the Church's aspirations, are continually recurring to the subject of the near approach of our Lord's coming. St. Paul has just been telling us, and that twice over in the same breath, that the Christian is he who waiteth for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the day of His coming. In his Epistle to the Hebrews, he applies to the second coming the inflamed desires of the ancient prophets for the first, and says: 'Yet a little, and a very little while, and He that is to come, will come, and will not delay.' The reason is that, under the new Covenant as under the old, the Man-God is called, on account of His final manifestation, which is always being looked for, He that is coming, He that is to come. The cry which is to close the world's history is to be the announcement of His arrival: 'Behold! the Bridegroom is coming. And St. Peter, too, says: 'Having the loins of your mind girt up, think of the glory of that day whereon the Lord Jesus is to be revealed! Hope for it, with a perfect hope! The prince of the apostles foresaw the contemptuous way in which future false teachers would scoff at this long-expected, but always put-off, coming: 'Where is His promise, or His coming? For, since the fathers slept, all things continue so, from the beginning of the creation!' Yes, he foresaw this, and forestalled their sarcasm, by answering it in the words which his brother Paul had previously used: 'The Lord delayeth not His promise, as some imagine; but dealeth patiently, for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance. But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence; and the elements shall be melted with heat; and the earth, and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing, then, that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hastening unto, the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat of fire? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promises, in which justice dwelleth. Wherefore, dearly beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent that ye may be found undefiled and unspotted to Him in peace.... Wherefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed lest, being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness.'

In the thirteenth century, in many Churches of the west, the Gospel for to-day was that wherein our Lord speaks of the scribes and pharisees as seated on the chair of Moses. The Abbot Rupert, who gives us this detail in his book on the Divine Offices, shows how admirably this Gospel harmonized with the Offertory, which is the one we still have, and which alludes to Moses. 'This Sunday's Office,' says he, 'eloquently points out, to him who presides over the house of the Lord and has received charge of souls, the manner in which he should comport himself in the high rank, where the divine call has placed him. Let him not imitate those men, who unworthily sat on the chair of Moses; but let him follow the example of Moses himself, who, in the Offertory and its verses, presents the heads of the Church with such a model of perfection. Pastors of souls ought, on no account, to be ignorant of the reason why they are placed higher than other men: it is not so much that they may govern others, as that they may serve them. Our Lord, speaking of the Jewish doctors, said: 'All whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do ye not: for they say, and do not. Contrariwise to these unworthy guardians of the Law, they that are seated on the chair of doctrine 'should teach, and act conformably to their teaching,' as the same Abbot Rupert adds. 'Or, rather,' says he, 'let them first do what it is their duty to do, that they may afterwards teach with authority; let them not seek after honours and titles, but make this their one object, to bear on themselves the sins of the people, and to merit to avert the wrath of God from those who are confided to their care. Such, we are told in the Offertory, is the example given them by Moses.

The Gospel which speaks of the scribes and pharisees who were seated on the chair of Moses has now been appointed for the Tuesday of the second week of Lent. But the one which is at present given for this Sunday equally directs our thoughts to the consideration of the superhuman powers of the priesthood, which are the common boon of regenerated humanity. The faithful, whose attention used formerly, on this Sunday, to be fixed on the right of teaching which is confided to the pastors of the Church, are now invited to meditate upon the prerogative which these same men have of forgiving sins and healing souls. Even if their conduct be in opposition to their teaching, it in nowise interferes with the authority of the sacred chair, from which, for the Church and in her name, they dispense the bread of doctrine to her children. Moreover, whatever unworthiness may happen to be in the soul of a priest, it does not in the least lessen the power of the keys which have been put into his hands to open heaven and to shut hell. For it is the Son of Man, Jesus, who, by the priest, be he a saint, or be he a sinner, rids of their sins His brethren and His creatures, whose miseries He has taken upon Himself, and whose crimes He has atoned for by His Blood.

The miracle of the cure of the paralytic, which gave an occasion to Jesus of declaring His power of forgiving sins inasmuch as he was Son of Man, has always been especially dear to the Church. Besides the narration she gives us of it from St. Matthew in to-day's Gospel, she again, on the Ember Friday of Whitsuntide, relates it in the words of St. Luke. The Catacomb frescoes, which have been preserved to the present day, equally attest the predilection for this subject, wherewith she inspired the Christian artists of the first centuries. From the very beginning of Christianity, heretics had risen up denying that the Church had the power, which her divine Head gave her, of remitting sin. Such false teaching would irretrievably condemn to spiritual death an immense number of Christians, who, unhappily, had fallen after their Baptism, but who, according to Catholic dogma, might be restored to grace by the sacrament of Penance. With what energy, then, would our mother the Church defend the remedy which gives life to her children! She uttered her anathemas upon, and drove from her communion, those pharisees of the new law, who, like their Jewish predecessors, refused to acknowledge the infinite mercy and universality of the great mystery of the Redemption.

Like to her divine Master, who had worked under the eyes of the scribes, His contradictors, the Church, too, in proof of her consoling doctrine, had worked an undeniable and visible miracle in the presence of the false teachers; and yet she had failed to convince them of the reality of the miracle of sanctification and grace invisibly wrought by her words of remission and pardon. The outward cure of the paralytic was both the image and the proof of the cure of his soul, which previously bad been in a state of moral paralysis; but he himself represented another sufferer, viz., the human race, which for ages had been a victim to the palsy of sin. Our Lord had already left the earth, when the faith of the apostles achieved this, their first prodigy, of bringing to the Church the world grown old in its infirmity. Finding that the human race was docile to the teaching of the divine messengers, and was already an imitator of their faith, the Church spoke as a mother, and said: Be of good heart, son! thy sins are forgiven thee! At once, to the astonishment of the philosophers and sceptics, and to the confusion of hell, the world rose up from its long and deep humiliation; and, to prove how thoroughly his strength had been restored to him, he was seen carrying on his shoulders, by the labour of penance and the mastery over his passions, the bed of his old exhaustion and feebleness, on which pride, lust, and covetousness had so long held him. From that time forward, complying with the word of Jesus, which was also said to him by the Church, he has been going on towards his house, which is heaven, where eternal joy awaits him! And the angels, beholding such a spectacle of conversion and holiness,28 are in amazement, and sing glory to God, who gave such power to men.


St. Jerome

The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encylopedia

A familiar image to old readers, once a banner image here at Recta Ratio


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