Wednesday, 18 September 2019

18 SEPTEMBER – EMBER WEDNESDAY IN SEPTEMBER

Lesson – Mark ix. 16–28
And one of the multitude, answering, said: “Master, I have brought my son to you, having a dumb spirit. Who, wherever he takes him, dashes him, and he foams and gnashes with the teeth, and pines away; and I spoke to your disciples to cast him out and they could not”. Who answering them, said: “O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him to me”. And they brought him. And when he had seen Him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And He asked his father: “How long time is it since this has happened to him?” But he said: “From his infancy: And often he has cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if you can do any thing, help us, having compassion on us”. And Jesus saith to him: “If you believe, all things are possible to him that believes”. And immediately the father of the boy crying out with tears said: “I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief”. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, go out of him and enter not any more into him”. And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: “He is dead”. But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when He was come into the house, His disciples secretly asked Him: “Why could not we cast him out?” And He said to them: “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”.
Praise be to you, O Christ.

The Venerable St. Bede:
Concerning this possessed person whom the Lord healed, after that He was come down from the mount, Mark said that he was deaf and dumb, and Matthew (xvii. 15) that he was lunatic. He was a figure of them of whom it is said: “A fool changes as the moon” (Ecclesiastes xxvii. 12.) These are they who continue never in one stay, but change now to one sin, and now to another, waxing and waning — dumb, in that they confess not the faith; deaf, in that they have no ears for the word of truth. They foam at the mouth also, and pine away with folly. For it is the way with idiots, and swooners, and stupified, to foam their spittle out at their mouths. They gnash their teeth when they are inflamed with the heat of passion. They wither up in the paralysis of sloth and live nerveless lives unbraced by any strong exercise.
The father said: “And I spoke to your disciples, that they should cast him out, and they could not”. Here he makes a sort of accusation against the Apostles. But that cures cannot be wrought is sometimes owing not to the powerlessness of them that would heal, but to the want of faith in them that are to be healed — as says the Lord: “According to your faith be it done to you” (Matthew ix. 29.) He answereth him, and said: “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?” The meek and lowly One, Who, as a lamb before his shearers, is dumb, so opened not His Mouth, was not wearied out of patience, nor did He break out into words of passion, but He spoke as a physician might speak, who saw that the sick man did contrary to his commands: “Wherefore should I come to your house? How long am I to throw away the exercise of my skill, while I order one thing and you do another?”
And He said to them: “This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting”. While He teaches the Apostles how the very worst kind of devil must be driven out, He gives to all of us an instruction to life, that we may know that the most grievous trials, either from unclean spirits, or from men, are to be overcome by fasting and prayer. The wrath of the Lord also, when it is kindled to take vengeance of our sins, can be turned away by this remedy only. To fast, in a general sense, is not only to abstain from meats, but to restrain oneself from all the inticements of the flesh, and from all evil passions. So also, to pray, is not only to call in words for the mercy of God, but also, in all things which we do, in earnestness of faith to worship our Maker.


18 SEPTEMBER – SAINT JOSEPH OF CUPERTINO (Confessor)

Joseph was born of pious parents at Cupertino, a town of the Salentines in the diocese of Nardo, in 1603. He spent his boyhood and youth in the greatest simplicity and innocence. The Virgin Mother of God delivered him from a long and painful malady which he had borne with the greatest patience, upon which he devoted himself entirely to works of piety and the practice of virtue. But God called him to something higher, and in order to attain to closer union with Him, Joseph determined to enter the Seraphic Order. After several trials he obtained his desire and was admitted among the Minor Conventuals in the convent called Grotella, first as a lay-brother, on account of his lack of learning, but afterwards, God so disposing, he was raised to the rank of a cleric. After making his solemn vows he was ordained a priest and began a new life of greater perfection. Utterly renouncing all earthly affections and everything of this world almost to the very necessaries of life, he afflicted his body with hair-shirts, chains, disciplines and every kind of austerity and penance: while he assiduously nourished his spirit with the sweetness of holy prayer, and the highest contemplation. By this means, the love of God, which had been poured out in his heart from his childhood, daily in creased in a most wonderful manner.

His burning charity shone forth most remarkably in the sweet ecstasies which raised his soul to God, and the wonderful raptures he frequently experienced. Yet, marvellous to tell, however rapt he was in God, obedience would immediately recall him to the use of his senses. He was exceedingly zealous in the practice of obedience and used to say that he was led by it like a blind man, and that he would rather die than disobey. He emulated the poverty of the seraphic patriarch to such a degree that on his deathbed he could truthfully tell his superior he had nothing which, according to custom, he could relinquish. Thus dead to the world and to himself Joseph showed forth in his flesh the life of Jesus. While in others he perceived the vice of impurity by an evil odour, his own body exhaled a most sweet fragrance, a sign of the spotless purity which be preserved unsullied in spite of long and violent temptations from the devil. This victory he gained by strict custody of his senses, by continual mortification of the body, and especially by the protection of the most pure Virgin Mary, whom he called his Mother, and whom he venerated with tenderest affection as the sweetest of mothers, desiring to see her venerated by others, that they might, said he, together with her patronage gain all good things.

Blessed Joseph’s solicitude in this respect sprang from his love for his neighbour, for he was consumed with zeal for souls, urging him to seek the salvation of all. His love embraced the poor, the sick and all in affliction whom he comforted as far as lay in his power, not excluding those who pursued him with reproaches and insults, and every kind of injury. He bore all this with the same patience, sweetness and cheerfulness of countenance as were remarked in him when he was obliged frequently to change his residence by the command of the superiors of his Order, or of the holy Inquisition. People and princes admired his wonderful holiness and heavenly gifts. Yet, such was his humility that, thinking himself a great sinner, he earnestly begged God to remove from him his admirable gifts: while he begged men to cast his body after death in a place where his memory might utterly perish. But God, who exalts the humble and had richly adorned His servant during life with heavenly wisdom, prophecy, the reading of hearts, the grace of healing and other gifts, also rendered his death precious and his sepulchre glorious. Joseph died at the place and time he had foretold, at Osimo in Picenum, at the age of 61.

Joseph was famous for miracles after his death and was enrolled among the blessed by Pope Benedict XIV and among the saints by Pope Clement XIII. Pope Clement XIV, who was of the same Order, extended his Office and Mass to the universal Church.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
While in France the rising spirit of Jansenism was driving God from the hearts of the people, a humble son of Saint Francis in southern Italy was showing how easily love may span the distance between Earth and Heaven. “And I, if I be lifted up from the Earth, will draw all things to Myself,” (John xii. 32) said our Lord, and time has proved it to be the most universal of His prophecies. On the Feast of the Holy Cross we witnessed its truth, even in the domain of social and political claims. We will experience it in our very bodies on the great day when we will be taken up in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air (1 Thessalonians iv. 16). But Joseph of Cupertino had experience of it without waiting for the resurrection: innumerable witnesses have home testimony to his life of continual ecstasies in which he was frequently seen raised high in the air. And these facts took place in what men are pleased to call the noonday of history.
* * * * *
While praising God for the marvellous He bestowed on you, we acknowledge that your virtues were yet more wonderful. Otherwise your ecstasies would be regarded with suspicion by the Church, who usually withholds her judgement until long after the world has begun to admire and applaud. Obedience, patience and charity, increasing under trial, were in contestable guarantees for the divine authorship of these marvels which the enemy is sometimes permitted to mimic to a certain extent. Satan may raise a Simon Magus into the air: he cannot make a humble man. O worthy son of the seraph of Assisi, may we, after your example, be raised up, not into the air, but into those regions of true light, where far above the Earth and its passions, our life, like yours, may be hidden with Christ in God! (Colossians iii. 3).
Also on this day according to the ROMAN MARTYROLOGY:

The birthday of St. Methodius, bishop of Olympius in Lycia, and afterwards of Tyre, most renowned for eloquence and learning. St. Jerome says that he won the martyrs crown at Chalcis in Greece at the end of the last persecution.

In the diocese of Vienne, the holy martyr Ferreol, a tribune, who was arrested by order of the impious governor Crispinus, most cruelly scourged, then loaded with heavy chains, and cast into a dark dungeon. A miracle having broken his bonds and opened the doors of the prison, he made his escape, but being taken again by his pursuers he received the palm of martyrdom by being beheaded.

Also the Saints Sophia and Irene, martyrs.

At Milan, St. Eustorgius, first bishop of that city, highly commended by St. Ambrose.

At Gortyna, in Crete, St. Eumenus, bishop and confessor.

And in other places, many other holy martyrs, confessors and virgins.

Thanks be to God.


Tuesday, 17 September 2019

17 SEPTEMBER – SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (Abbess and Virgin)

Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould:
This extraordinary woman, who stands out amidst the miseries and ruin of temporal and spiritual affairs in the twelfth century, like the figure of Huldah the prophetess when the kingdom of Judah was tottering to its fall, or like Cassandra in ancient Troy, properly deserves to be studied in connection with the political and ecclesiastical history of her times, with which she was intimately mixed up, and which she influenced by her prophecies, her warnings, and exhortations. But space forbids us giving her as full an article as she deserves.
She was born in 1098. Her father was a knight in attendance on Meginhard, Count of Spanheim. His name was Hildebert, and the place of her birth Bockelheim. At the age of 8 she was placed under the charge of Jutta, Abbess of Saint Disibod, a sister of the Count of Spanheim. From her sixth year the child was subject to visions, which appeared to her, as she describes, not externally, but within her soul. They continued till she was 15, without her venturing to publish them. On the death of Jutta in 1136, Hildegard, then aged 38, succeeded her. Her visions had attracted so much attention that numerous women came to place themselves under her direction, and finding the buildings too small, she erected a new convent on the Rupertsberg near Bingen, in 1147, and moved into it with 18 sisters.
Saint Hildegard was known throughout Europe by her writings: not that she could write in Latin herself, but she dotted down her visions and communications to various people of the town, in a jumble of German and Latin, and her secretary Gottfried put them for her into shape. She denounced the vices of society, of kings, nobles, of bishops and priests in unmeasured terms. If a prelate, even a Pope, wrote to her, however humbly, she sent him a stinging lecture in reply. She told home truths without varnishing them, so plainly as to make every one wince. She was courted by emperors and bishops, but she never yielded to their fascinations. No one approached her without receiving a rap over the knuckles, and, what was more, it was felt to be well deserved. In 1148 Pope Eugenius III was at Treves, when he heard every one talking of the prophecies of the famous abbess of Saint Rupert. He sent Adelbert, Bishop of Verdun, to examine her, and he studied her writings himself whilst at Treves. He even wrote her a letter, and received in return a lecture. About this time she completed the first part of her work called Scivias, a fantastic name corrupted from nosce vias, — know the ways (of the Lord), — which gives us the measure of her knowledge of Latin. The entire work was not completed till 1151.
Saint Hildegard thus describes her gift of visions: “I raise my hands to God, and then I am wafted by Him, like a feather without weight, before the wind, as far as it lists... Even from my childhood, when my limbs were not full-grown, to now in my seventieth year, my soul has seen visions. My spirit is, as God chooses, borne into the highest firmament, or among all sorts of peoples, and into the furthest lands, far away from my body. And when my inner eye by this means sees the truth, the sights which appear to me vary according to the nature of the vapours and creatures presented to me. These things I see not with my bodily eyes, nor through my understanding or thoughts, but through my spirit, yet with open eyes, and so that they never stir in me an emotion, but I see these sights waking by day or by night alike.”
Saint Bernard, who had the greatest respect for her, and valued her influence, urged her repeatedly to exert herself to stir up enthusiasm for the Crusade which he preached. She caught the flame, prophesied and exhorted, and contributed not a little towards sending to humiliation and death the thousands of Germans who started on that most unfortunate and disgraceful of all the Crusades. Whilst Bernard preached on the Rhine, she ascended the Feldberg, the highest peak of the Rhenish hills, and prayed on its summit, with outstretched arms, for the success of the undertaking. She held her arms so long extended that at last she fainted with exhaustion. The condition of the Church in Germany was deplorable to the last degree. Charlemagne and the Frank Emperors had made the bishops into electoral princes, with vast territories. They were, therefore, at the same time temporal and spiritual sovereigns. This caused the position of bishop to be sought by men of rank utterly unqualified for filling a spiritual office. The bishops were constantly at war with their neighbours, or rising in armed revolt against the Emperors. They kept splendid retinues, rode in armour at the head of their troops, and had the turbulence and ambition of temporal princes.
An instance must suffice. Henry I had been a gentle but feeble ruler of the archiepiscopal see of Mainz, in which was situated the convent of Saint Hildegard. A party in the chapter, moved by ambition and disgusted at his un-warlike character, raised some paltry accusations against him, which they carried to Rome. Archbishop Henry had a friend and confidant, the provost of Saint. Peter’s, named Arnold von Selnhoven, who owed his advancement to the favour of the archbishop. Henry gave Arnold a large sum of money, and sent him to Rome to plead his cause. Arnold secretly visited the Emperor Frederick I, secured his sanction to his treachery, and then, hastening to Rome, used the gold Archbishop Henry had given him to bribe those around the Pope to persuade his Holiness to depose Henry, and elevate him (Arnold) to the archiepiscopal throne in his room. Two cardinals were sent to Mainz to investigate the case. Henry saw that they had prejudged it, having been bribed by Arnold. He said to them, “I might appeal from your judgement to the Pope in person, but I appeal to a higher Judge — to Jesus Christ Himself — and I summon you both before His throne to answer for this injustice.” They answered scoffingly, “You lead the way, and we will follow.”
Both cardinals died suddenly before the close of the year. Arnold now returned in triumph to assume the office of his friend and benefactor, whom he had so treacherously supplanted. His arrogance knew no bounds. The people of Mainz writhed under his harsh rule, and the insolence with which he treated the nobles in his diocese embittered them against him. He waged incessant war with all the neighbouring princes, especially with the Palatine Herman II, of the Rhine. The Emperor interfered, and the Archbishop and the Palatine were ordered, as disturbers of the public peace, to carry a dog through the camp. The Archbishop escaped as being an ecclesiastic, but the Prince Palatine was obliged to submit to the ignominious and ridiculous sentence. This stirred up against the Archbishop numerous and implacable enemies. The people of Mainz, unable to endure his tyranny, plotted revolt. Saint Hildegard wrote him a letter of warning: “The Living Light says to you, Why are you not strong in fear? You have a sort of zeal, trampling down all that opposes you. But I warn you, cleanse the iniquity from the eye of your soul. Cut off the injustice with which you afflict your people. Turn to the Lord, for your time is at hand.” A friend also of the Archbishop, the Abbot of Erbach, cautioned him against incensing his subjects beyond endurance. “The Mainzers,” said Arnold, “are dogs that bark, but bite not.” When Saint Hildegard heard this, she sent word to him, “The dogs are slipped, and will tear you to pieces.” This prophecy came true. In 1160 the Archbishop was besieged in the Abbey of Saint James, outside Mainz, by a party of the citizens. The monastery was broken into, and a butcher cut the Archbishop down with his axe. The body was flung into a ditch, and the market women as they passed pelted it with eggs.
It was in sight of all this violence that Hildegard uttered her denunciations of the pride and lawlessness of the German prelates:
“He who was, and is, and will be, speaks to the shepherds of His Church. He who was sought to form His creatures after His own likeness, that man might obey His will. He that is has brought all creatures into being, in token that all proceeds from His will. He that will be will search out all that is hidden, and will renew all things. O my sons, says the Lord, you who pasture my sheep, why do you blush not at the warning voice of your Master? The ignorant creatures fulfil their Master’s commands, but you do not. I have called you, as the sun, to illumine men, but you are dark as black night. Woe to you! You should resemble Mount Zion, on which God dwells, but instead you are lostrels who do not that which is right, but that which pleases your fancies, and you follow but your own lusts. Instead of being like apostles, you are so sunk in worldly indolence that your time is spent in waging wars, or with buffoons and singers, or in chasing flies. You ought to be pillars of the Church, learned in Scripture, filled with the Spirit. But, instead, you ruin the Church by grinding down your subjects to satisfy your avarice and ambition. Therefore will the people rise, and will turn from you to the lay-princes, and will cry to them. We can no more endure these men, who befoul the land with every crime. They are drunkards and lovers of pleasure, who are sapping the foundations of the Church. Now, when the cries of the people have entered into the ears of the great Judge, then will He execute His wrath on these despisers of His laws, and give them over to the will of their enemies, who cry. How long shall we endure these ravening wolves? They should be the physicians of our souls, but they heal us not. They are given the power to bind and loose, but they bind us down as if we were wild beasts. Their sins rise up and make the Church to stink.
They teach not, but rend the sheep. Although they are drunkards, adulterers, and fornicators, they judge us harshly. How does it become these shaven heads, with stole and chasuble, to call out better harnessed and larger armies than we? The priest should not be a soldier, nor the soldier a priest. Therefore will we take from them what they hold against right and decency, and only leave them what is necessary for the welfare of souls. At that time the honour, power, and authority of the German Emperor, whereby the empire is protected, will be lessened by their fault, because they rule so basely and neglectfully, and do not live as heretofore. They will continue to exact from their subjects obedience, but not peaceableness and uprightness. Wherefore many kings, and princes, and peoples, who were before subject to the Roman empire, will separate from it, and submit no longer. Every land, every nation, will choose its own prince, and obey him, saying. The Empire is a burden and not an honour to us. And when the Roman empire is thus broken up, so will also the power of the papal throne be shattered; for when princes and other men find no more religion in Rome, they will despise the papal dignity, and will choose their priests and bishops, giving them other names, so that only a small part of Germany will remain subject to the Popes — namely, that nearest to his seat and diocese. And this will come to pass partly through war, partly through the energy of those who exhort the princes to rule their people themselves, and the bishops to hold their subjects in better order.”
The clear intelligence of Saint Hildegard no doubt foresaw that some events such as the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War must ensue, if matters were not mended. The falling away of the greater part of Germany from the Church three centuries later was caused by the political situation rather than by desire of religious change. German exasperation, which had brooded long, burst into a flame, not against the Catholic religion so much as against the misgovernment of the episcopal electors and princely abbots. The Catholic religion was rejected only because it was entangled with the cause of these bishops. Of the frightful misgovernment and subordination of ecclesiastical character to that of temporal sovereignty there can be no doubt. Caesarius of Heisterbach, who lived in the same age as Saint Hildegard, quotes with approval the saying of a monk, “I can believe in any miracle and marvel except one — I cannot believe in the possibility of the salvation of a German bishop.”
Saint Hildegard wrote to Conrad I, Bishop of Worms, “You sit in the throne of Christ, but you hold a rod of iron for the controlling of the sheep.” To the Bishop of Spires, “Rise, O man, wallowing in blackness, rise, and build up the ruins, lay up store in heaven, that the black and filthy may blush at your elevation when you rise out of your filth; for your soul scarce lives on account of your evil deeds.” To the Archbishop of Treves, “Watch, and restrain yourself with an iron rod, and anoint your wounds that you may live.” She wrote to Popes Eugenius II, Anastasius IV, and Adrian IV, advising them of the dire state in which spiritual affairs stood in Germany. She wrote to the Emperors Frederick I, and Conrad III. There is scarcely a person of note throughout the empire to whom she did not address letters. She studied theology and medicine; she was consulted on questions of divinity and on cases of conscience. Her writings on medical science have attracted the attention of recent writers.
Saint Hildegard was engaged in a singular controversy with the choir-bishop of Mainz, was acted in spiritual affairs for the archbishop. During the quarrel between the Emperor Conrad III and Pope Alexander III there were rival archbishops claiming the see — Cuno, supported by the Pope, and Christian, nominated by the Emperor. In 1179 peace was made between Conrad and Alexander, and the Pope then confirmed Christian in the see. Before the Lateran Council of 1179, which saw the close of the schism, a certain youth died who had been excommunicated by one of the archbishops, probably Christian. He was buried in the cemetery attached to Saint Rupert’s convent. The choir bishop and chapter of Mainz at once wrote to Saint Hildegard, ordering her to dig up the body and eject it from consecrated ground. She refused, alleging that she had seen a vision in which Our Lord Himself had forbidden her. Moreover, as she said, the young man had confessed, been anointed, and had communicated before his death. And lest force should be used to disturb and throw out the body, she went to the cemetery, and removed all external traces of where the grave was. An interdict was launched against the convent. She abstained therefore from singing the offices in the chapel, and was debarred from receiving the Holy Communion. This went on for more than a month, and she began to be impatient. She wrote to the ecclesiastical directors of the see a glowing account of the advantage of choral hymnody and psalmody, which put devils to flight, and not obscurely hinted that she would not submit much longer to an unjust sentence, for she had heard a voice from heaven enjoining song. She went to Mainz herself, and appeared before the chapter, but could obtain no redress. Then she turned to the Archbishop of Cologne, and by his intervention the interdict was removed. However, Archbishop Christian, then in Italy, heard of the affair, and not pleased at the inter-meddling of a neighbouring archbishop, and perhaps moved by rancour against Hildegard, who had supported Cuno against him before his recognition by the Pope, he renewed the interdict.
Saint Hildegard then wrote him a long letter, arguing the case of the young man, who, as she asserted, certainly had been absolved and communicated by the parish priest of Bingen, when he lay on his deathbed, and pointing out the piteousness of her case, deprived of the sacraments and of the recitation of the daily offices. The archbishop accepted her act of submission, thought that she had been punished sufficiently, and removed the interdict. Christian was not a man of a religious spirit; he had invaded the see at the head of a body of armed retainers in 1165, and expelled Cuno the rightful archbishop. When he was acknowledged by the Pope, he took up his residence in Italy; Hildegard in vain wrote to him, entreating him to return to his see and rule it as its bishop; he never revisited it, but remained fighting in Italy, was taken prisoner, and died in captivity in 1183.
Saint Hildegard travelled about a great deal. She visited the Emperor Frederic I at Ingelheim, and traversed a portion of Germany preaching and prophesying to the people. She is known to have been at Treves, Metz, in Swabia, Franconia, at Paris and Tours. Saint Hildegard died in 1179, and was buried in her convent church. But this convent was destroyed by the Swedes in 1632, when her relics were removed to Eibingen.
Dom Prosper Guéranger:
Let us salute the “great prophetess of the new Testament.” What Saint Bernard’s influence over his contemporaries was in the first half of the twelfth century, that in the second half was Hildegard’s, when the humble virgin became the oracle of popes and emperors, of princes and prelates. Multitudes from far and near flocked to Mount Saint Rupert where the doubts of ordinary life were solved and the questions of doctors answered. At length, by God’s command, Hildegard went forth from her monastery to administer to all alike, monks, clerics and laymen, the word of correction and salvation. The Spirit indeed breathes where He will (John iii. 8). To the massy pillars that support His royal palace, God preferred the poor little feather floating in the air, and blown about, at His pleasure, to here and there, in the light. In spite of labours, sicknesses and trials the holy abbess lived to the advanced age of 82, “in the shadow of the living light.” Her precious relics are now at Eibingen. The writings handed down to us from the pen of this illiterate virgin are a series of sublime visions embracing the whole range of contemporary science, physical and theological, from the creation of the world to its final consummation. May Hildegard deign to send us an interpreter of her works and an historian of her life such as they merit!
Also on this day according to the ROMAN MARTYROLOGY:

At Rome, on the road to Tivoli, the birthday of St. Justin, priest and martyr, who distinguished himself by a glorious confession of the faith during the persecution of Valerian and Gallienus. He buried the bodies of the blessed pontiff, Sixtus, of Lawrence, Hippolytus, and many other saints, and finally consummated his martyrdom under Claudius.

Also at Rome, the holy martyrs Narcissus and Crescentio.

In Phrygia, St. Ariadna, martyr, under the emperor Hadrian.

In England, the holy martyrs Socrates and Stephen.

At Nevers, the holy martyrs Valerian, Macrinus, and Gordian.

At Autun, under the emperor Antoninus and the governor Valerian, St. Flocellus, a boy, who, after many sufferings, was torn to pieces by wild beasts, and thus won the crown of martyrs.

At Liege, blessed Lambert, bishop of Maestricht. Having, through zeal for religion, rebuked the royal family, he was undeservedly put to death by the guilty, and thus entered the court of the heavenly kingdom to enjoy it forever.

At Saragossa in Spain, St. Peter of Arbues, first inquisitor of the faith in the kingdom of Aragon, who received the palm of martyrdom by being barbarously massacred by apostate Jews, for defending courageously the Catholic faith according to the duties of his office. He was canonised by Blessed Pius IX in 1867.

The same day, St. Agathoclia, servant of an infidel woman, who was for a long time subjected by her to blows and other afflictions, that she might deny Christ. She was finally presented to the judge and cruelly lacerated, and as she persisted in confessing the faith, they cut off her tongue and threw her into the flames.

At Cordova, St. Columba, virgin and martyr.

At Milan, the departure from this world of St. Satyrus, confessor, whose distinguished merits are mentioned by his brother St. Ambrose.

At Rome, in the persecution of Diocletian, St. Theodora, a matron, who carefully ministered to the martyrs.

And in other places, many other holy martyrs, confessors and virgins.

Thanks be to God.

17 SEPTEMBER – THE STIGMATA OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI


Two years before his death Francis retired alone on Mount Alvernia to fast for forty days in honour of the Archangel Saint Michael. The sweetness of heavenly contemplation was poured out on him more abundantly than usual until, burning with the flame of celestial desires, he began to feel an increasing overflow of these divine favours. While the seraphic ardour of his desires thus raised him up to God, and the tenderness of his love and compassion was transforming him into Christ the crucified victim of excessive love, one morning he saw what appeared to be a Seraph with six shining and fiery wings coming down from Heaven. The vision flew swiftly through the air and approached him who then perceived that it was not only winged, but also crucified: the hands and feet were stretched out and fastened to a cross, while the wings were arranged in a wondrous manner. Two were raised above the head, two were outstretched in flight, and the remaining two were crossed over and veiled the whole body. Francis was much astonished and his soul was filled with mingled joy and sorrow. The gracious aspect of Him who appeared in so wonderful and loving a manner, rejoiced him exceedingly, while the sight of His cruel crucifixion pierced his heart with a sword of sorrowing compassion.

He, who appeared outwardly to Francis, taught him inwardly that, although weakness and suffering are incompatible with the immortal life of a seraph, yet this vision had been shown to him to the end that he, Christ’s lover, might learn how his whole being was to be transformed into a living image of Christ crucified, not by martyrdom of the flesh, but by the burning ardour of his soul. After a mysterious and familiar colloquy the vision disappeared, leaving the saint’s mind burning with seraphic ardour and his flesh impressed with an exact image of the Crucified, as though, after the melting power of that fire, it had next been stamped with a seal. For immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, their heads showing in the palms of his hands and the upper part of his feet, and their points visible on the other side. There was also a red scar on his right side, as if it had been wounded by a lance, and from which blood often flowed staining his tunic and underclothing.

Francis, now a new man, honoured by this new and amazing miracle, and, by a hitherto unheard of privilege, adorned with the sacred stigmata, came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified, not carved in wood or stone by the hand of an artist, but engraved on his flesh by the finger of the living God. The seraphic man well knew that it is good to hide the secret of the king. Thus, having been thus admitted into his king’s confidence, he strove, as far as in him lay, to conceal the sacred marks. But it belongs to God to reveal the great things which He Himself has done and hence, after impressing those signs on Francis in secret, He publicly worked miracles by means of them, revealing the hidden and wondrous power of the stigmata by the signs wrought through them. Pope Benedict XI willed that this wonderful event, which is so well attested and in pontifical diplomas has been honoured with the greatest praises and favours, should be celebrated by a yearly solemnity. Afterwards, Pope Paul V, wishing the hearts of all the faithful to be kindled with the love of Christ crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
The great patriarch of Assisi will soon appear a second time in the holy liturgy, and we will praise God for the marvels wrought in him by divine grace. The subject of today’s feast, while a personal glory to Saint Francis, is of greater importance for its mystical signification. The Man-God still lives in the Church by the continual reproduction of His mysteries in this His bride, making her a faithful copy of Himself. In the thirteenth century, while the charity of the many had grown cold, the divine fire burned with redoubled ardour in the hearts of a chosen few. It was the hour of the Church’s passion, the beginning of that series of social defections, with their train of denials, treasons and derisions which ended in the prescription we now witness. The cross had been exalted before the eyes of the world: the bride was now to be nailed thereto with her divine Spouse, after having stood with Him in the Praetorium exposed to the insults and blows of the multitude.
Like an artist selecting a precious marble, the Holy Spirit chose the flesh of the Assisian seraph as the medium for the expression of His divine thought. He thereby manifested to the world the special direction He intended to give to the sanctity of souls. He offered to Heaven a first and complete model of the new work He was meditating, viz: the perfect union, upon the very cross, of the mystical body with its divine Head. Francis was the first to be chosen for this honour but others were to follow, and hence forward, here and there through the world, the stigmata of our blessed Lord will ever be visible in the Church.
* * * * *
Standard-bearer of Christ and of His Church, we would fain, with the Apostle and with you, glory in nothing save the cross of our Lord Jesus. We would fain bear in our souls the sacred stigmata which adorned your holy body. To him whose whole ambition is to return love for love, every suffering is a gain, persecution has no terrors, for the effect of persecutions and sufferings is to assimilate him, together with his mother the Church, to Christ persecuted, scourged, and crucified. It is with our whole hearts that we pray, with the Church: “O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when the world was growing cold, renewed the sacred marks of your Passion in the flesh of the most blessed Francis to inflame our hearts with the fire of your love, mercifully grant, that by his merits and prayers we may always carry the cross, and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

Monday, 16 September 2019

16 SEPTEMBER – SAINTS EUPHEMIA (Virgin) AND LUCY AND GEMINIANUS (Martyrs)

On this day at Chalcedon, the virgin Euphemia was martyred under the emperor Diocletian and the proconsul Priscus. For faith in Our Lord she was subjected to tortures, imprisonment, blows, the torment of the wheel, fire, the crushing weight of stones, the teeth of beasts, scourging with rods, the cutting of sharp saws, burning pans, all of which she survived. But when she was again exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre, praying to our Lord to receive her spirit, one of the animals having inflicted a bite on her sacred body, while the rest licked her feet, she yielded her unspotted soul to God.

At Rome, Lucy, a noble matron, and Geminian, were subjected to most grievous afflictions and a long time tortured, by the command of the emperor Diocletian. Finally, being put to the sword, they obtained the glorious victory of martyrdom.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
The fourth Ecumenical Council was held at Chalcedon in the church of Saint Euphemia. Beside the tomb of this holy virgin, the impious Eutyches was condemned and the twofold nature of the God-Man was vindicated. The ‘great martyr’ seems to have shown a predilection for the study of sacred doctrine: the faculty of theology in Paris chose her for its special patroness, and the ancient Sorbonne treasured with singular veneration a notable portion of her blessed relics. Let us recommend ourselves to her prayers, and to those of the holy widow Lucy and the noble Geminian, whom the Church associates with her.
Also on this day according to the ROMAN MARTYROLOGY:

At Rome, at a place on Via Flaminia, ten miles from the city, the holy martyrs Abundius, priest, and Abundantius, deacon, who the emperor Diocletian caused to be struck with the sword, together with Marcian, an illustrious man, and his son John, who they had raised from the dead.

At Heraclea in Thrace, St. Sebastiana, martyr, under the emperor Domitian and the governor Sergius. Being brought to the faith of Christ by the blessed Apostle St. Paul, she was tormented in various ways and finally beheaded.

At Cordova, the holy martyrs Rogellus and Servideus, who were decapitated after their hands and feet had been cut off.

In Scotland, St. Ninian, bishop and confessor.

In England, St. Editha, virgin, daughter of the English king Edgar, who was consecrated to God in a monastery from her tender years, where she may be said to have been ignorant of the world rather than to have forsaken it.

And in other places, many other holy martyrs, confessors and virgins.

Thanks be to God.

16 SEPTEMBER – SAINTS CORNELIUS (Pope and Martyr) AND CYPRIAN (Bishop and Martyr)

Cornelius, a Roman by birth, was sovereign Pontiff during the reign of the emperors Gallus and Volusianus. In concert with a holy lady named Lucina he translated the bodies of Saints Peter and Paul from the catacombs to a more honourable resting place. Saint Paul’s body was entombed by Lucina on an estate of hers on the Via Ostensis, close to the spot where he had been beheaded, while Cornelius laid the body of the Prince of the apostles near the place of his crucifixion. When this became known to the emperors, and they were moreover informed that by the advice of the Pontiff, many became Christians, Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellae where Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, wrote to him to console him. The frequency of this Christian and charitable intercourse between the two saints gave great displeasure to the emperors, and accordingly Cornelius was summoned to Rome where, as if guilty of treason, he was beaten with scourges tipped with lead. He was next dragged before an image of Mars and commanded to sacrifice to it. But indignantly refusing to commit such an act of impiety, he was beheaded on the eighteenth of the Calends of October. The blessed Lucina, aided by some clerics, buried his body in a sandpit on her estate near the cemetery of Callixtus. His pontificate lasted about two years.

Cyprian was a native of Africa, and at first taught rhetoric there with great applause. The priest Caecilius, from whom he adopted his surname, having persuaded him to become a Christian, he thereupon distributed all his goods among the poor. Not long afterwards, having been made priest, he was chosen bishop of Carthage. It would be useless to enlarge upon his genius, since his works outshine the sun. He suffered under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the eighth persecution, on the same day as Cornelius was martyred at Rome, but not in the same year.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
There is a peculiar beauty in the meeting of these two saints upon the sacred cycle. Cyprian, in a famous dispute, was once opposed to the apostolic See: eternal Wisdom now offers him to the homage of the world in company with one of the most illustrious successors of Saint Peter.
Cornelius was by birth of the highest nobility. Witness his tomb, lately discovered in the family crypt, surrounded by the most honourable names in the patrician ranks. The elevation of a descendant of the Scipios to the sovereign pontificate linked the last grandeurs of Rome to her future greatness. Decius, who “would more easily have suffered a competitor in his empire than a bishop in Rome,” had just issued the edict for the seventh general persecution. But the Caesar bestowed on the world’s capital by a village of Pannonia could not stay the destinies of the Eternal City. Beside this bloodthirsty emperor and others like him, whose fathers were known in the city only as slaves or conquered enemies, the true Roman, the descendant of the Cornelii, might be recognised by his native simplicity, by the calmness of his strength of soul, by the intrepid firmness belonging to his race, with which he first triumphed over the usurper, who was soon to surrender to the Goths on the borders of the Danube.
And yet, O holy Pontiff, you are even greater by the humility which Cyprian, your illustrious friend, admired in you, and by that ‘purity of your virginal soul,’ through which, according to him, you became become the elect of God and of His Christ. At your side, how great is Cyprian himself! What a path of light is traced across the heavens of holy Church by this convert of the priest Caecilius! In the generosity of his soul, when once conquered to Christ, he relinquished honours and riches, his family inheritance and the glory acquired in the field of eloquence. All marvelled to see in him, as his historian says, the harvest gathered before the seed was sown. By a justifiable exception he became a pontiff while yet a neophyte. During the ten years of his episcopate, all men, not only in Carthage and Africa, but in the whole world had their eyes fixed on him. The pagans crying: “Cyprian to the lions!” the Christians awaiting but his word of command in order to obey. Those ten years represent one of the most troubled periods of history. In the empire anarchy was rife. The frontiers were the scene of repeated invasions. Pestilence was raging everywhere: in the Church a long peace which had lulled men’s souls to sleep was followed by the persecutions of Decius, Gallus and Valerian. The first of these, suddenly bursting like a thunderstorm, caused the fall of many, which evil in its turn led to schisms on account of the too great indulgence of some, and the excessive rigour of others, towards the lapsed.
Who, then, was to teach repentance to the fallen, the truth to the heretics, unity to the schismatics and to the sons of God prayer and peace? Who was to bring back the virgins to the rules of a holy life? Who was to turn back against the Gentiles their blasphemous sophisms? Under the sword of death, who would speak of future happiness and bring consolation to souls? Who would teach them mercy, patience and the secret of changing the venom of envy into the sweetness of salvation? Who would assist the martyrs to rise to the height of their divine vocation? Who would uphold the confessors under torture, in prison, in exile? Who would preserve the survivors of martyrdom from the dangers of their regained liberty?
Cyprian, ever ready, seemed in his incomparable calmness to defy the powers of Earth and of Hell. Never had a flock a surer hand to defend it under a sudden attack, and to put to flight the wild hear of the forest. And how proud the shepherd was of the dignity of that Christian family which God had entrusted to his guidance and protection! Love for the Church was, so to say, the distinguishing feature of the bishop of Carthage. In his immortal letters to his ‘most brave and most happy brethren,’ confessors of Christ and the honour of the Church, he exclaims: “Oh truly blessed is our mother the Church, whom the divine condescension has so honoured, who is made illustrious in our days by the glorious blood of the triumphant martyrs. Formerly white by the good works of our brethren, she is now adorned with purple from the veins of her heroes. Among her flowers, neither roses nor lilies are wanting.”
Unfortunately this very love, this legitimate, though falsely applied, jealousy for the noble bride of our Saviour, led Cyprian to err on the serious question of the validity of heretical baptism. “The only one,” he said, “alone possesses the keys, the power of the Spouse. We are defending her honour when we repudiate the polluted water of the heretics.” He was forgetting that although, through our Lord’s merciful liberality, the most indispensable of the Sacraments does not lose its virtue when administered by a stranger, or even by an enemy of the Church, nevertheless it derives its fecundity, even then, from and through the bride, being valid only through union with what she herself does. How true it is, that neither holiness nor learning confers upon man that gift of infallibility which was promised by our Lord to none but the successor of Saint Peter. It was, perhaps, as a demonstration of this truth that God suffered this passing cloud to darken so lofty an intellect as Cyprian’s. The danger could not be serious, or the error lasting, in one whose ruling thought is expressed in these words: “He that keeps not the unity of the Church, does he think to keep the faith? He that abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is founded, can he flatter himself that he is still in the Church?”
Great in his life, Cyprian was still greater in death. Valerian had given orders for the extermination of the principal clergy. And in Rome, Sixtus II, followed by Laurence, had led the way to martyrdom. Galerius Maximus, proconsul of Africa, was then holding his assizes at Utica, and commanded Thascius Cyprian to be brought before him. But the bishop would not allow “the honour of his Church to be mutilated,” by dying at a distance from his episcopal city. He therefore waited till the proconsul had returned to Carthage, and then delivered himself up by making a public entrance into the town.
In the house which served for a few hours as his prison, Cyprian, calm and unmoved, gathered his friends and family for the last time round his table. The Christians hastened from all parts to spend the night with their pastor and father. Thus, while he yet lived, they kept the first vigil of his future feast. When, in the morning, he was led before the proconsul, they offered him an arm-chair draped like a bishop’s seat. It was indeed the beginning of an episcopal function, the pontiff’s own peculiar office being to give his life for the Church, in union with the eternal High Priest. The interrogatory was short, for there was no hope of shaking his constancy, and the judge pronounced sentence that Thascius Cyprian must die by the sword. On the way to the place of execution the soldiers formed a guard of honour to the bishop, who advanced calmly, surrounded by his clergy as on days of solemnity. Deep emotion stirred the immense crowd of friends and enemies who had assembled to assist at the sacrifice. The hour had come. The pontiff prayed prostrate upon the ground. Then rising, he ordered twenty-five gold pieces to be given to the executioner, and taking off his tunic, handed it to the deacons. He himself tied the bandage over his eyes. A priest, assisted by a subdeacon, bound his hands while the people spread linen cloths around him to receive his blood. Not until the bishop himself had given the word of command did the trembling executioner lower his sword. In the evening, the faithful came with torches and with hymns to bury Cyprian. It was September 14, in the year 258.
* * * * *
Holy Pontiffs, united now in glory as you once were by friendship and in martyrdom, preserve with in us the fruit of your example and doctrine. Your life teaches us to despise honours and fortune for Christ’s sake, and to give to the Church all our devotedness of which the world is unworthy. May this be understood by those countless descendants of noble races who are led astray by a misguided society. May they learn from you gloriously to confound the impious conspiracy that seeks to exterminate them in shameful oblivion and enforced idleness. If their fathers deserved well of mankind, they themselves may now enter on a higher career of usefulness where decadence is unknown and the fruit once produced is everlasting. Remind the lowly as well as the great in the city of God that peace and war alike have flowers to crown the soldier of Christ: the white wreath of good works is offered to those who cannot aspire to the rosy diadem of martyrdom.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

15 SEPTEMBER – THE SEVEN SORROWS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary was first celebrated by the Servite Order (the Religious Servants of the Holy Virgin) in 1667. In 1814 Pope Pius VII extended the feast to the Universal Church and in 1913 Pope Saint Pius X ordered it to be observed on 15 September, the day following the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is also known as the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The object of this feast is the spiritual martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, and her compassion for the sufferings of her Divine Son.

The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are:
  1. The prophecies of Simeon the Just
  2. The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt
  3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem
  4. The meeting of Mary and Jesus on the way to Calvary
  5. The crucifixion and death of Jesus
  6. The piercing of Jesus' side and the descent from the Cross
  7. The burial of Jesus in the sepulchre
The prophecies of Simeon the Just
(Luke ii. 25-35)
Behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him. He had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. When his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, Simeon took him into his arms, blessed God and said: “Now dismiss your servant, O Lord, according to your word in peace; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” His father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be contradicted; and your own soul a sword will pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt
(Matthew ii. 1-18)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judah, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. Saying, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to adore him.” King Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: “In Bethlehem of Judah. For so it is written by the prophet: And you Bethlehem the land of Judah are not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of you will come forth the captain that will rule my people Israel.” Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; And sending them into Bethlehem, said: “Go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him.” Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. Seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country. After they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I will tell you. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry, and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem
(Luke ii. 41-49)

And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the Pasch. When he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. Thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kin and acquaintances. Not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. All that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: “Son, why have you done this to us? Behold your father and I have sought you sorrowing.” He said to them: “How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?”
The meeting of Mary and Jesus on His way to Calvary
(Luke xxiii. 26-27)
As they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him.
The crucifixion and death of Jesus
(John xix. 25-30)
There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son. After that, he said to the disciple: “Behold your mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: “I thirst.” Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar about hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: “It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.”
The piercing of Jesus' side and descent from the Cross
(John xix. 31-38)
Then the Jews, (because it was the Parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that was a great Sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they had come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. One of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it, has given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knows that he says true; that you also may believe. For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: “You will not break a bone of him.” And again another scripture says: “They will look on him whom they pierced. After these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took away the body of Jesus.
The burial of Jesus in the sepulchre
(Matthew xxvii. 59-60)

Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way.
Dom Prosper Guéranger:
“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow!” (Lamentations i. 12) Is this, then, the first cry of that sweet baby whose coming brought such pure joy to our Earth? Is the standard of suffering to be so soon unfurled over the cradle of such lovely innocence? Yet the heart of mother Church has not deceived her. This feast, coming at such a time, is ever the answer to that question of the expectant human race: What will this child be? The Saviour to come is not only the reason of Mary’s existence., He is also her exemplar in all things. It is as His Mother that the blessed Virgin came, and therefore as the ‘Mother of sorrows,’ for the God whose future birth was the very cause of her own birth, is to be in this world “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity” (Isaias liii. 3). “To whom shall I compare thee?” sings the prophet of Lamentations: “O Virgin, great as the sea is your destruction” (Lamentations ii. 13). On the mountain of the sacrifice, as Mother she gave her Son, as bride she offered herself together with Him. By her sufferings both as bride and as Mother, she was the co-redemptress of the human race. This teaching and these recollections were deeply engraved on our hearts on that other feast of our Lady’s sorrows which immediately preceded Holy Week.
Christ dies now no more: and our Lady’s sufferings are over. Nevertheless the Passion of Christ is continued in His elect, in His Church, against which Hell vents the rage it cannot exercise against Himself. To this Passion of Christ’s mystical body, of which she is also Mother, Mary still contributes her compassion. How often have her venerated images attested the fact by miraculously shedding tears! This explains the Church’s departure from liturgical custom by celebrating two feasts in different seasons under one same title.
On perusing the register of the apostolic decrees concerning sacred rites, the reader is astonished to find a long and unusual interruption lasting from March 20, 1809 to September 18, 1814, at which latter date is entered the decree instituting on this present Sunday a second Commemoration of our Lady’s Sorrows. 1809‒1814, five sorrowful years during which the government of Christendom was suspended: years of blood which beheld the Man God agonising once more in the person of His captive Vicar. But the Mother of sorrows was still standing beneath the cross, offering to God the Church’s sufferings. And when the trial was over, Pius VII, knowing well from where the mercy had come, dedicated this day to Mary as a fresh memorial of the day of Calvary.
Even in the seventeenth century, the Servites had the privilege of possessing this second feast which they celebrated as a double of the second class with a vigil and an octave. It is from them that the Church has borrowed the Office and Mass. This honour and privilege was due to the Order established by our Lady to honour her sufferings and to spread devotion to them. Philip Benizi, heir to the seven holy Founders, propagated the flame kindled by them on the heights of Monte Senario. Thanks to the zeal of his sons and successors, the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of the blessed Virgin Mary, once their family property, is now the treasure of the whole world.
The prophecy of the aged Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the divine Child in Jerusalem, the carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion, the taking down from the cross, and the burial of Jesus: these are the seven mysteries into which are grouped the well-near infinite sufferings which made our Lady the Queen of martyrs, the first and loveliest rose in the garden of the Spouse. Let us take to heart the recommendation from the Book of Tobias which the Church reads during this week in the Office of the time: “You must honour your mother: for you must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered in giving you birth” (Tobias iv. 3, 4).
Epistle – Judith xiii. 23‒25
The Lord has blessed you by His power, because by you He has brought our enemies to nothing. Blessed are you, O daughter, by the Lord the Most High God above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made Heaven and Earth, because He has so magnified your name this day, that your praise will not depart out of the mouth of men, who will be mindful of the power of the Lord forever; for that you have not spared your life by reason of the distress and tribulation of your people, but have prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.
Thanks be to God.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
Oh the greatness of our Judith among all creatures! “God,” says the pious and profound Father Faber, “vouchsafed to select the very things about Him which are most incommunicable, and in a most mysteriously real way communicate them to her. See how He had already mixed her up with the eternal designs of creation, making her almost a partial cause and partial model of it. Our Lady’s co-operation in the redemption of the world gives us a fresh view of her magnificence. Neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Assumption will give us a higher idea of Mary’s exaltation than the title of co-redemptress. Her dolours were not necessary for the redemption of the world, but in the counsels of God they were inseparable from it. They belong to the integrity of the divine plan. Are not Mary’s mysteries Jesus’ mysteries, and His mysteries hers? The truth appears to be that all the mysteries of Jesus and Mary were in God’s design as one mystery. Jesus Himself was Mary’s sorrow, seven times repeated, aggravated sevenfold. During the hours of the Passion, the offering of Jesus and the offering of Mary were tied in one. They kept pace together. They were made of the same materials. They were perfumed with kindred fragrance. They were lighted with the same fire. They were offered with kindred dispositions. The two things were one simultaneous oblation, interwoven each moment through the thickly crowded mysteries of that dread time, unto the eternal Father, out of two sinless hearts, that were the hearts of Son and Mother, for the sins of a guilty world which fell on them contrary to their merits, but according to their own free will.
Let us mingle our tears with Mary’s, in union with the sufferings of the great Victim. In proportion as we do this during life we will rejoice in Heaven with the Son and the Mother. If our Lady is now, as we sing in the Alleluia verse, Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the World, is there one among all the elect who can recall sufferings comparable to hers?
Gospel – John xix. 25‒27
At that time, there stood by the cross of Jesus, His Mother, and His Mother’s sister Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing, whom He loved, He said to His Mother, “Woman, behold your Son.” After that He said to the disciple, “Behold your Mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own.
Praise be to you, O Christ.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
“Woman, behold your son — My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Such are the words of Jesus on the cross. Has He, then, no longer a Father in Heaven, a Mother on Earth. Oh! mystery of justice, and still more of love! God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son for it, so far as to lay upon Him, instead of upon sinful men, the curse our sins deserved. And our Lady too, in her sublime union with the Father, did not spare, but offered in like manner for us all, this same Son of her virginity. If on this head we belong to the eternal Father, we belong henceforth to Mary also. Each has bought us at a great price: the exchange of an only Son for sons of adoption.
It is at the foot of the cross that our Lady truly became the Queen of mercy. At the foot of the altar, where the renewal of the great Sacrifice is preparing, let us commend ourselves to her omnipotent influence over the Heart of her divine Son.
So great, it has been said, was Mary’s grief on Calvary that, had it been divided among all creatures capable of suffering, it would have caused them all to die instantly! It was our Lady’s wonderful peace, maintained by perfect acquiescence and the total abandonment of her whole being to God, that alone was able to sustain in her the life which the Holy Ghost was preserving for the Church’s sake. May our participation in the sacred mysteries give us that peace of God which passes all understanding, and which keeps minds and hearts in Christ Jesus!
Also on this day according to the ROMAN MARTYROLOGY:

At Rome, on the Via Nomentana, the birthday of blessed Nicomedes, priest and martyr. As he said to those who would compel him to sacrifice: “I sacrifice only to the Omnipotent God who reigns in heaven,” he was for a long time scourged with leaded whips and thus went to Our Lord.

In the diocese of Chalons, St. Valerian, martyr, who was suspended on high by the governor Priscus, and tortured with iron hooks. Remaining immovable in the confession of Christ, and continuing joyfully to praise Him, he was struck with the sword by order of the same magistrate.

At Marcianopolis in Thrace, St. Melitina, a martyr, in the time of the emperor Antoninus and the governor Antiochus. She was twice led to the temples of the Gentiles, and as the idols fell to the ground each time, she was hanged and torn and finally decapitated.

At Adrianople, the holy martyrs Maximus, Theodore and Asclepiodotus who were crowned under the emperor Maximian.

Also St. Porphyrius, a comedian, who, in the presence of Julian the Apostate, being baptised in jest, and suddenly converted by the power of God, declared himself a Christian. Forthwith, by order of the emperor, he was struck with an axe, and thus crowned with martyrdom.

The same day, St. Nicetas, a Goth, who was burned alive for the Catholic faith by order of king Athanaric.

At Cordova, the holy martyrs Emilas, deacon, and Jeremias, who ended their martyrdom in the persecution of the Arabs by being beheaded after a long detention in prison.

At Toul in France, St. Aper, bishop.

Also St. Leobinus, bishop of Chartres.

At Lyons, St. Albinus, bishop.

The same day, the decease of St. Richard, abbot.

In France, St. Eutropia, widow.

And in other places, many other holy martyrs, confessors and virgins.

Thanks be to God.

15 SEPTEMBER – FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
In the Western Church this Sunday is called that of the Two Masters because of the Gospel which is read upon it. The Greeks give it the name of the Sunday of the Invited to the Marriage-feast or the Fourteenth of Saint Matthew, unless the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September) happen to fall during the ensuing week. In this latter case, this and the following Sundays are called of the Exaltation, and take for their Gospels, the first from Saint John, the second from Saint Mark. After this follow the Sundays called of Saint Luke, which go on till Lent, in the manner already described for Saint Matthew.
Epistle – Galatians v. 16‒24
Brethren, walk in the spirit, and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh: for the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another; so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest; which are, fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things will not obtain the Kingdom of God! But the fruit of the spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.
Thanks be to God.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
The Bride who came from the top of Sanir and Hermon that she might be crowned (Canticles iv. 8) knows not the servitude of Sinai (Galatians iv. 24‒26). Still less is she under the slavery of the senses. On the mountain, where her tent is fixed forever (Isaias ii. 2), her Spouse has broken the fetters of the Jewish law, and that more galling chain which tied all people down — the web of sin that covered all nations of the Earth (Isaias xxv. 7). She, the Bride, is queen — her sons are kings (1 Peter ii. 9), the milk on which she feeds them (Isaias lxvi. 8‒12) infuses liberty within them (Galatians iv. 31). Filled with the Holy Spirit, who is their glory and their strength (Romans viii. 14, 26), they they have the Lord of Hosts looking on them as they bravely fight battles such as Princes should engage in (Ephesians iv. 8; vi. 12). Satan, too, has beheld their glorious struggles, and his kingdom has been shaken to its foundations (John xii. 31). Two cities now divide the world between them (St. Augstine, City of God) and the Holy City, made up of vanquishers over the devil, the world, and the flesh, is full of admiration and joy at seeing that the noblest of the nations flock to her (Isaias lx. 5). The law which reigns supreme within her walls is love, for the Holy Spirit who rules her happy citizens takes them far beyond the injunctions or prohibitions of any law. Together with Charity, there spring up Joy, Peace, and those other Fruits, here enumerated by the Apostle. They grow spontaneously from a soil which is saturated with the glad waters (Psalm lxiv. 11) of a Stream which is no other than the Sanctifying Spirit who inundates the City of God (Psalm xlv. 5). We are not astonished at this new Sion being loved by the Lord above all the tabernacles of Jacob (Psalm lxxxvi. 2), beautiful as those once were (Numbers xxiv. 5). Now that the Blessing has taken on Earth the place once held by the Law, the Servants of God have been turned into Children, Sons and Daughters. Even while living in the flesh, they bear evidence of their heavenly origin by going on from virtue to virtue. Though sojourning in this vale of tears, they are ever on the ascent, approaching gradually nearer to the high summits of holiness: they reflect in their lives the perfection of their heavenly Father (Matthew v. 48) who, surrounded as He thus is in Sion by this noble family, is seen to be in all truth the God of gods (Psalm lxxxiii. 6‒8).
Flesh and blood have had no share in their divine birth (John i. 12), flesh and blood have no hand in their regenerated life (1 Corinthians xv. 50). Their first birth being in the flesh, they were flesh and did the works of death and ignominy mentioned in the Epistle, showing at every turn that they were from slime of earth (Genesis ii. 7), but born of the Spirit they are spirit (John iii. 6) and do the works of the Spirit in spite of the flesh which is always part of their being (2 Corinthians x. 3). For, by giving them of His own life, the Spirit has emancipated them by the power of love from the tyranny of sin (Romans viii. 2) which held dominion over their members (Romans vii. 23), and having been grafted on Christ, they bring forth fruit to God (Romans vii. 4).
Man, therefore, who was once a slave to concupiscence, has regained on the cross of Christ that equilibrium of his existence (Romans viii. 3) which is true liberty. The supremacy which the soul had forfeited in punishment for her revolt against God (Romans i. 28) has been restored to her by the laver of the water of baptism, and now that she is once more queen, it is but just that she chastise the slave who so long lorded it over her, his rightful sovereign. Man owes nothing to the flesh (Romans viii. 12), especially after the miseries it has brought on him: but further than this, God too has been insulted by the sensual abominations committed in His his sacred presence, and He too demands atonement. For this purpose He mercifully takes man, now that he is enfranchised, and confides to him the task of sharing with His divine Majesty, in taking revenge on their common enemy and usurper. Then, again, this mortifying the flesh and keeping it in subjection is a necessary means for retaining the good position already obtained. It is true, that the rebel has been made incapable of damaging those who are in Christ Jesus, and who walk not according to the flesh and its vile suggestions (Romans viii. 1), but it is equally true that the rebel is rebel still, and is ever watching opportunities for assailing the spirit. If there be exceptions, they are exceedingly rare. The rule of the flesh is to attack the spirit all through life, and try to make it yield. If one were an Antony in the desert, the flesh would be fierce in its assaults, even there. If the Saint were a Paul, just fresh from the third heaven of his sublime revelations, the flesh would have impudence enough to buffet even him (2 Corinthians xii. 7). So that, had we no past sins to atone for, the commonest prudence would urge us to take severe measures of precaution against an enemy who is so fearfully untiring in his hatred of us and, what is worse, lives always in our own home. That Saint Paul, of whom we were just speaking, says of himself: “I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, perhaps I should become reprobate!” (1 Corinthians ix. 27).
Penance and Mortification differ in this: that Penance is a debt of justice incumbent on the sinner. Mortification is a duty commanded by prudence, which duty becomes that of every Christian who is not foolish enough to pretend to be out of the reach of concupiscence. Is there any one living who could honestly say that he has fully acquitted himself of these two duties: that he has satisfied the claims of God’s justice? and that he has stifled every germ of his evil passions? All spiritual masters, without exception, teach that no man who is desirous either for perfection or salvation should limit himself to the rules of simple Temperance, that cardinal virtue which forbids excess in pleasures, be they of one kind or another. This, they tell us, is not enough, and that the Christian, taking up another virtue, namely Fortitude, must from time to time refuse himself even lawful gratifications; must impose privations on himself which are not otherwise of obligation; must even inflict punishment on himself in the manner and measure permitted him by a discreet director. Amid the thousands of holy writers who treat on this point of asceticism, let us listen to the amiable and gentle Saint Francis of Sales: “If,” says he in his Introduction to a Devout Life, “If you can bear fasting, you would do well to fast on certain days, beyond those fasts which the Church commands us to observe... even when one does not fast much, yet does the enemy fear us all the more when he knows that we know how to impose a fast on ourselves. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were the days on which the Christians of former times most practised abstinence. Therefore, choose out of these for your fasts as far as your devotion and the discretion of your director will counsel you to do... The discipline, when taken with moderation, possesses a marvellous power for awakening the desire for devotion. The hair-shirt is efficacious in reducing the body to subjection... on days which are especially devoted to penance, one may wear it, the advice of a discreet Confessor having been previously taken.” Thus speaks the learned Doctor of the Church, the saintly Bishop of Geneva, whose sweet prudence is almost proverbial. And they to whom he addresses these instructions are persons living in the world. In the world, quite as much as in the cloister, the Christian Life, if seriously taken up, imperatively requires this incessant war of the spirit against the flesh. Let that war cease, and the flesh speedily usurps the sway and reduces the soul to a state of torpor by either seizing her very first attempts at virtue and chilling them into apathy, or by plunging her at a single throw deep into the filth of sin.
Neither is it to be feared that affability in the Christian’s social intercourse will be in any way impaired by this energy of self-mortification. That virtue which is based on such forgetfulness of oneself as to make him love discomfort and suffering for God’s sake does not render such a man one whitless pleasing in company, nor rob the friendly circle he frequents of one single charm. But will it not interfere, somewhat, with an article which the world is very jealous about? No: when Dress is what Christian reserve would have it be — in other and plainer words, when it is the love of Jesus that regulates the arrangements — there is no toilet where the jewels of penance may not find their place, without in the least intruding with those of the world. The day of judgement will give a strange lesson to those many good-for-nothing and cowardly Christians who feel sure that every one of their acquaintance is as fond of easy-going softness as they themselves are! Then will be revealed to them the pious schemes of penance which Christian love of the Cross suggested as means for crucifying their flesh even amid pleasures, and to those very persons who were the most admired in the worldling’s earthly paradise of gay saloons.
And ought it not to be thus? Ought not the Cross to be most dear to men? Yes, unless we hold that Christianity and divine love have entirely disappeared from this world. How is it possible to love Jesus, the Man of sorrows (Isaias liii. 3) and not love His sufferings? Can we say that we are walking in His footsteps if we are not on the road to Calvary? “If any man will come after me,” says this Jesus, “let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me!” (Matthew xvi. 24). And the Church, who is one with her divine Spouse — the Church who completes Him in all things (Ephesians i. 23) and therefore continues through all ages His life of expiation and atonement, puts on her children the sublime task which the Apostle thus expresses: “I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ by suffering in my flesh for His body, which is the Church” (Colossians i. 24).
Sublime task indeed! Filial, as far as the Church is concerned, but divine also, and deifying if we consider the union it produces between the Word and the Soul: He, the Word, gives to the soul what He has not given to the Angels, that is, He invites her to a share of that Chalice which the Eternal Father reserved to Jesus’ sacred Humanity (John xviii. 11), Here we have the intimacy of the Bride: the one same Cup for the Two, and it unites their two lives into one. It is a Cup of sorrow’s holy inebriation. They both drink it with avidity, and that avidity gives such vehemence to their union that the creature, at times, leaves her ecstasy all stigmatised in soul, yea, it may be in her body too, with the Wounds of her Crucified Lord. But whether our Lord communicates or not, either invisibly or visibly, the stigmata of His love to the soul that is devoted to Him, there is always, under one form or other, the royal seal which gives the surest sign of authenticity to the contract of divine union here below. That seal is suffering. Many who, on hearing or reading the favours gratuitously granted to certain saintly souls, are excited to a feeling of holy envy, would shrink back with dismay if they were told of the trials they had to go through before gaining such mystic ascensions. Even when the trials of purification, (of which we were speaking on a former occasion) are all over, the place of meeting is invariably that which the inspired Canticle calls the Mount of myrrh (Canticles iv. 6), which is but another name for suffering. Myrrh is the first fragrant herb culled by the divine Word in the mystic garden — nay, it is the only one He expressly mentions (Canticles v. 1). Myrrh distils from the Bride’s hands, and her fingers are full of it (Canticles v. 5). Her Spouse is the bouquet she clasps to her heart, but that bouquet is one of Myrrh (Canticles i. 12) and His lips are as lilies dropping choice Myrrh (Canticles v. 13).
Of course, we are too miserable ever to aspire to be raised up by the Holy Spirit to those heights of the mystic life where divine union produces such marvellous results as those we have already mentioned, but let us remember that neither the intensity nor the merit of love, no, not even the reality of effective Union, depend on those exterior manifestations. It should suffice to make us love, and even go in quest of, suffering, to remember how faith teaches us, that it was life-long with Him who wishes and infinitely deserves to be the one object of our thoughts and affections. We are members of a Head who was crowned with thorns. Can we pretend to have nothing but pleasures and flowers? Let us not forget that all the Saints must, when in Heaven, be likenesses of the new Adam (1 Corinthians xv. 45‒49), and that the Eternal Father admits no one into His House who is not conformable to the image of His Son (Romans viii. 29, 30).
Gospel – Matthew vi. 24‒33
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will sustain the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Therefore I, say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you will eat, nor for your body, what you will put on. Is not the life more than the meat, and the body more, than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air; for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more, value than they? And which of you, by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment, why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labour not, neither do they spin; but I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. Now, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is today and tomorrow, is cast into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Be not solicitous, therefore, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or with what shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knows that you have need of all these things. Seek therefore first the Kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things will be added to you.”
Praise be to you, O Christ.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
The supernatural life can never be healthy in men’s souls unless it triumphs over the three enemies which Saint John calls concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John ii. 16). As to the first of these, our Epistle has been instructing us on the obstacle it raises against the action of the Holy Spirit, and on the means we are to adopt for surmounting it. Pride of life is overcome by Humility on which the Church has several times spoken to us during the previous Sundays. The Gospel, which has just been read to us, is the condemnation of the concupiscence of the eyes, that is, attachment to the goods of this world which of themselves are but goods in name and appearance.
No man, says our Lord, can serve two masters. And these two Masters are God and Mammon. Mammon means riches. Riches are not of their own nature bad. When lawfully acquired and used agreeably to the designs of God, riches help the possessor to gain true goods for his soul. He stores up for himself, in the kingdom of his eternal home, treasures which neither thieves nor rust can reach (Matthew vi. 19, 20). Ever since the Incarnation in which the divine Word espoused Poverty to Himself, it is the Poor that are Heaven’s nobility, and yet the mission of the rich man is a grand one. He is permitted to be rich in order that he may be God’s minister to make all the several portions of material creation turn to their Creator’s glory. He graciously vouchsafes to entrust into his hands the feeding and supporting the dearest of His children, that is, the Poor, that is, the indigent and suffering members of His Christ. He calls him to uphold the interests of his Church and be the promoter of works connected with the salvation of men. He confides to him the keeping up the beauty of his temples. Happy that man, and worthy of all praise, who thus directly brings back to the glory of their maker the fruits of the Earth and the precious metals she yields from her bosom! Let not such a man fear: it is not of him that Jesus speaks those anathemas uttered so frequently by Him against the rich ones of this world. He has but one Master, the Father who is in Heaven, whose steward he humbly and gladly acknowledges himself to be. Mammon does not domineer over him. On the contrary, he makes her his servant and obliges her to minister to his zeal in all good works. The solicitude he takes in spending his wealth in acts of justice and charity is not that which our Gospel here blames, for in all such solicitude he is but following our Lord’s precept of seeking first the kingdom of God, and the riches which pass through his hands in the furtherance of good works do not distract his thoughts from that Heaven where his heart is, because his true treasure is there (Matthew vi. 21).
It is quite otherwise when riches, instead of being regarded as a simple means, become the very end of a man’s existence, and that to such an extent as to make him neglect and sometimes forget his last end. “The ways of every covetous man,” says the Scripture, “destroy the souls of the possessors” (Proverbs i. 19). The Apostle explains this by saying that the love of money drives a man into temptation and the snares of the devil by the countless unprofitable and hurtful desires it excites within him. It drowns men in destruction and perdition, making them even barter away their faith (1 Timothy vi. 9, 10). And yet, the more an avaricious man gets, the less he spends. To nurse his treasure, to gaze on it (Ecclesiasticus v. 9, 10), to be thinking of it all day and night long, when obliged to go from home, that is what he lives for. And his money becomes, at last, his idol (Ephesians v. 5; Colossians iii. 5). Yes, Mammon is not merely his master whose commands are obeyed before all others, but it is his god before which he sacrifices friends, relatives, country and himself, for he devotes, and, as it is said in Ecclesiasticus, throws his whole soul and body away to his idol (Ecclesiasticus x. 10). Let us not be astonished at our Gospel declaring that God and Mammon are irreconcilable enemies, for who was it but Mammon that had our Lord Jesus sacrificed on its hateful altar for thirty pieces of silver? Of all the devils in Hell, is there one whose hideous guilt is deeper than the fallen angel who prompted Judas to sell the Son of God to his executioners? It is the avaricious who alone can boast of deicide! The vile love of money which the Apostle defines as the root of all evils (1 Timothy vi. 10) can lay claim to having produced the greatest crime that was ever perpetrated!
But, without going into such crimes as made the authors of the inspired books of even the Old Testament say that nothing is more wicked than the covetous man... there is not a more wicked thing than to love money (Ecclesiasticus x. 9, 10), it is easy to allow oneself to be led, as regards this world’s goods, into an excessive solicitude, that is, into one which prudence condemns. What ineffable truth and clearness are there not in the reasoning of our Jesus as put before us in today’s Gospel! To attempt to add any human words to these of His would be an insult offered to both their charm and their energy. The exquisitely beautiful comparisons of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, by which our divine Master shows how such solicitude is the very opposite of the confidence we should have in our heavenly Father, are beyond all comment. We may just add that solicitude of this sort would prove the existence of an attachment to earthly things which is incompatible with anything approaching to Christian perfection, or to the desire of making progress in the paths of divine Union. The Unitive Way is possible in every state of life, only there must be one condition observed, and that is, the soul must be detached from every tie that could keep her from going to God. The Religious breaks these ties by his three vows which are in direct opposition to the triple concupiscence of fallen nature. The layman, who, though he is living in the world, desires to be what His Creator would have him be, must, without the aid of the real separation which the Religious makes, be quite as completely detached from his own will, and sensuality, and riches, in order that all his intentions and aspirations may be fixed on the eternal home where his one infinite loved Treasure is. If he does not bring himself, even in the midst of his riches, to be as poor in spirit as the Religious is in deed, his progress will be checked at the very first step he takes in the contemplative life. And, if he allow the obstacle to block up the way, he must give up all idea of rising, in light and love, above the lowly paths of the majority of Christians.