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Monthly Archives: February 2016

THE CURSING OF THE FIG TREE (MATTHEW 21:18-22)

And in the morning, returning into the city, he was hungry.

And seeing a certain fig tree by the way side, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only, and he saith to it: May no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And immediately the fig tree withered away.

And the disciples seeing it wondered, saying: How is it presently withered away?

And Jesus answering, said to them: Amen, I say to you, if you shall have faith, and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.

And all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

 

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SELF-CENTREDNESS VERSUS WORKS OF LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOUR (MATTHEW 21:10-17)

Gospel Text: Jesus Casts The Money Sellers Out Of The Temple (Matthew 21:10-17)

Homily of St Bede the Venerable

That which he did figuratively, by cursing the barren fig tree, the Lord soon afterwards showed more openly, by casting the unrighteous out of the temple. For the tree had not sinned, in that it had no fruit when the Lord was hungry, for the time for fruit was not yet come; but the priests had sinned in carrying on worldly business in the house of the Lord [and charging the worshippers exorbitant rates for the service of money changing], and failing to bear that fruit of piety then due from them, and for which the Lord was hungering. The Lord withered the tree with a curse, that men seeing this, or hearing of it, might better understand how they are liable to be condemned by divine judgment if, having borne no fruit of good works, in mere self-approval of their own discourses, they soothe themselves, as it were, with a rustling shelter of green leaves.

But because they had not understood, the Lord brought upon them the punishment they deserved: and he cast out the traffickers in earthly things from that house, in which, according to the commandment, only what was divine was to be done, victims and prayers to be offered to God, the word of God to be read, heard, and sung. And indeed we must believe that such things only were to be found bought and sold in the temple, as were necessary for the service of the temple itself, according to what we read as taking place on another occasion, when entering into the same temple he found there men buying and selling sheep, and oxen, and doves. For we must certainly believe that it was those coming from a distance who bought all these things from the inhabitants of the place, merely that they may offer them up in the house of the Lord.

If, therefore, the Lord would not have those things sold in the temple, which were to be offered in the temple according to his wish (and this no doubt because of the sins of avarice or even cunning, which is a crime associated with trade), with how much greater severity, do you think, will he punish those whom he may find spending their time there in laughter, or idle talk, or giving themselves up to any other vice? For if the Lord will not suffer temporal business to be carried on in his house, which might freely be exercised elsewhere; how much more shall those things that are not lawfully done in any place merit the wrath of heaven, if they are done in temples consecrated to God? Truly, since the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove upon the Lord, by doves the gifts of the Holy Spirit are rightly signified. And who are they who today sell doves in the temple of God, if not those who in the Church accept a price for the laying-on of hands, whereby the Holy Spirit is given from heaven?

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“I GIVE THEE ALL I POSSESS” – THE ENTIRE SURRENDER TO GOD

Suscipe – Offering Prayer to Our Lord

O my God! Thou hast made me very rich indeed.

My heart has treasures of love; I give them to thee!

I have a family, and thou knowest how I love them. If thou willest that death should lead them to heaven before me, my God, I say, but I say weeping: I give them to thee!

I have friends… If it is thy will that they should forget me; believe me guilty of wrong; withdraw from me, leaving my heart so isolated, that will be very painful and hard to bear; I give them to thee!

I have worldly goods, which afford me a certain degree of ease, and permit me to indulge in the sweet pleasure of giving alms to others poorer than I… If thou willst to take them from me degrees, even reducing me to absolute want; I give them to thee.

I have members that thou hast given me… If thou willest that paralysis should render my arms useless, that my eyes should cease to see the light of day, that my tongue may no longer articulate a word, O my God, I give thee all!

In exchange grant my thy love and thy grace, and then… nothing more but heaven.

Accept, O Lord, my Mind.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Prayers for Today

 

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PSALM 4 – CUM INVOCAREM

The prophet teacheth us to flee to God in tribulation, with confidence in him.

Unto the end, in verses. A psalm for David.

When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me.

Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.

O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?

Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.

Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?

The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.

By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied:

In peace in the self same I will sleep, and I will rest:

For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

 

Psalm 4. Ver. 1. “Unto the end”. Or, as St Jerome renders it, “victori, to him that overcometh”: which some understand of “the chief musician”; to whom they suppose the psalms, which bear that title, were given to be sung: we rather understand the psalms thus inscribed to refer to Christ, who is the “end of the law”, and the “great conquerer” of death and hell, and to the New Testament.

 
 

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ST FRANCES OF ROME – “EVERYBODY’S SERVANT”

St Frances of Rome, Widow; Memorial: March 9

Frances was a noble Roman matron who at eleven had resolved to enter a convent, but complied with her parents’ will that she marry the young and rich noble, Lorenzo Ponziani. In marriage, she always observed the austerities of the religious life as far as possible, and her patience in adversities was admirable. She founded in the city the house of Oblates of the Congregation of Monte Oliveto under the Benedictine rule, to recall the married women of Rome from worldly pleasures and dress.

Recalling the married women of Rome from worldly pleasures and dress

After her husband’s death she humbly begged admittance there and after receiving it gloried in calling herself everybody’s servant and the least of women even though, as the founder of the whole community she was the mother of them all. She invariably baffled the never-idle devil and won a great victory over him with her guardian angel’s help. She died at fifty-six, famous for good works and miracles. Pope Paul V added her to the list of the saints.

– From: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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THE CULTIVATION OF A SENSE OF HUMOUR FOR CHRISTIANS

THE CULTIVATION OF A SENSE OF HUMOUR

To be entirely wanting in a sense of humour is a loss that affects even our spiritual life. When we possess it, it can help us very considerably in bearing up against the inevitable trials of life, and in meeting in a spirit of cheerfulness these days of increased misery and suffering in which we with most of the world find ourselves involved.

Our Lord Jesus never went about in a state of habitual sadness

It was characteristic of Our Blessed Lord, our great exemplar in all virtues, that although He had a clear foreknowledge of the terrible Passion and Death that lay before Him, He never went about in a state of habitual sadness. As He was human and had the tenderest and most sensitive of human hearts, there were times in His life when He showed how deeply His feelings were stirred, as when looking down upon the beautiful city of Jerusalem, and for seeing the fate that only too soon was to fall upon it, He wept at the thought that all His efforts on its behalf were to prove fruitless. We recall, too, how deeply He was affected on hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus. We know, too, how before entering upon His Passion with the betrayal of Judas in His mind, the denial of Peter and the desertion of His apostles all clearly foreseen, He was sad as He walked to His prayer and to His agony in the Garden, so that He exclaimed: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” This only showed that He was human even as we are. But these manifestations of His feelings were isolated and exceptional and stood out in marked contrast to that habitual cheerfulness and calm that was so conspicuous in the greater part of His life, a charm that won the confidence of the beggars by the wayside and drew Him the love of little children. As He went through all the parts of Galilee and Judea, multiplying His miracles and acts of charity, He had ever words of comfort on His lips, telling men and women “to be of good heart”. The words were an echo of His own interior soul and had their source in His close union with His Father, with whom He was One as He was God and one in will as He was Man, subject in all things to the will of His Father.

Our Lord Jesus was telling people “to be of good heart”

And so we find that in those closest imitators of Our Lord, the saints, cheerfulness was a marked feature in their lives. A sad saint is a contradiction in terms, sadness being simply incompatible with sanctity. Most, if not all, of the saints had far greater sufferings than we even in these calamitous times are called upon to endure. But they had the divine wisdom never to brood upon them, much less to grumble and talk about them. On the contrary, they regarded them as so many opportunities of proving their love for their Crucified Lord; and looking upon them in the light of eternity they came to see that in themselves they were of small account, incidents in this brief passage of time, not even as a drop of water in that infinite ocean of the everlasting hereafter.

A sad saint is a contradiction in terms; sadness is incompatible with sanctity

To get anywhere near that serenity and peace of soul that was Christ’s and His saints’, we need of course, first and chiefly, the grace of God, for the gaining of which, however, we have so many means at our disposal. But in addition we must use all natural means, so that God’s grace may more effectively work in us. And among those means a cultivation of a sense of humour occupies more place and is of greater importance than some of us may be inclined to think. It is a sense of humour that induces that cheerfulness of spirit which, as we have already indicated, is an essential in our spiritual life. It is a sense of humour that will give us a truer appreciation of our own littleness and will prevent us leading lives of pretence and of exhibiting ourselves as people of more worth than we are. It is a sense of humour that helps us not to exaggerate or to make too much of the evils from we are undoubtedly suffering. As an example of this we may remember Bairnsfather’s famous picture of the two soldiers under heavy fire taking cover in a shell hole. When one of them grumbles at the inadequacy of their shelter, the other replies: “Well, if you know of a better ‘ole, go to it.” The humour is heightened when we read of the German officer who, being shown the picture, gravely explained to his men the meaning of the words, as he thought, with no sort of suspicion of the joke in them. It was humour again when a soldier stunned and bewildered by a “dud” shell that fell between him and his comrade exclaimed, “Where are we?” and then, glancing at his friend who had apparently been no saint, he added, “Any’ow, it can’t be heaven.” And during the last war we may recall with some justifiable pride how the ordinary men and women of London, as well as those of other large cities in England, never lost their cheerfulness despite the constant and destructive bombing to which they were subjected. One woman had already lost her own home in the blitz and had found room in the house of a neighbour. When later on deprived of that too by a nearby falling shell, she merely remarked: “Well, never mind, we can always doss down in one of the Underground Stations.” It was this cheerful spirit that was a mutual help to all those suffering people; and it aroused the admiration and wonder of visitors to this country that night after night of these bombing onslaughts, men and women would go about their work during the day, seemingly quite unconcerned, and exchange jokes with each other about happenings in the night that presented to them some humorous aspect. Most of these people were at least Christian and some no doubt were good Catholics. In any case their example shows us how we ought to face the trials that beset us to-day – but we must face them in a supernatural spirit.

Facing trials in a supernatural spirit

St Paul tells us (2Cor. 9:7), quoting from the book of Ecclesiastics (35:2), “God loveth a cheerful giver.” To see in all the miseries of our present life God’s will, and to submit gladly to all that it entails, is at once to make ourselves pleasing to Him and to heap up treasure in heaven, while, if at the same time we will but keep cheerful, it helps to lighten the heavy load we may be called upon to bear.

God loveth a cheerful giver (2Cor. 9:7)

Instead of grumbling and moaning over things and thereby making life more unhappy for others as well as for ourselves, we shall often be able to find even in the most trying situations some humorous element upon which we can seize to keep ourselves smiling. The poverty, for instance, to which a large number of people to-day are reduced is indeed an affliction. The man who can no longer afford to buy himself a new suit of clothes of which he is sorely in need can laugh at himself as a sort of animated scarecrow as he walks out in the threadbare rags that is all that his now depleted wardrobe can supply. He will laugh the more if he is able to reflect that in the days of his prosperity he strutted about with an air of pomposity and importance for which the only excuses were the well-cut coat on his back and the carefully creased trousers that fell on his well-polished shoes. He may laugh at the thought that he was then no better than a ridiculous walking “tailor’s dummy”.

In a picture in an old Punch [magazine] of two tramps in rags and tatters reclining under a May tree in full bloom, there was humour in the remark of one of them who said: “I wonder whether the saying ’till May be out don’t shed a clout’ means the month or the blossom?” That poor fellow’s sense of humour must have made it easier to bear with their very evident poverty.

The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier and Cheerer of our souls

This sense of humour relieved the sufferings of a good priest lately dead, who for years was confined to his room and towards the end of his life was unable to stand on his feet, as the least movement caused him agonising pain. Yet he was habitually cheerful and ready to share a joke with any of his visitors. When he had received the Last Sacraments and death was very near, to the nurse, who to warn him the better said, “Father, your pulse is now very, very slow,” his only reply was, “Pessimist!”

There are undoubtedly situations in which it is very difficult to savour any humour, but there are few sufferings in which a person of the right disposition cannot find something to excite his mirth or at any rate keep him cheerful. The good Catholic, who is having what is called “a hell of a time” on this earth but with the grace of God is accepting it with resignation and patience, may find at least a chuckle in the thought that he is outwitting the devil and refusing his pressing invitation to join his company in that infinitely worse hell in the next world.

There are those who, as we know, are born without any sense of humour and who in consequence are often the worst advertisers of religion. What can one say to them? It may be suggested that they pray very hard to the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier and Cheerer of our souls, so that even if no miracle be worked to make them see any sense of humour in the happenings of life, they may at least acquire a cheerful disposition that will be a help in their own spiritual life and exercise a good influence upon their neighbour.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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ARCHANGEL MICHAEL, CONSOLER OF THE POOR SOULS

In her beautiful prayers in the Mass for the Dead, the Church with maternal solicitude places the souls of her departed children in the hands of St Michael, that he may lead them into the kingdom of everlasting light. If St Michael is so solicitous for the welfare of souls during their lifetime on earth and at the hour of death, we may be certain that he will also befriend them during their stay in Purgatory and will hasten to bring them consolation.

St Michael helps the Holy Souls in Purgatory

A Cistercian monk appeared to a priest friend soon after his death and told him he would be delivered from Purgatory if during Holy Mass the priest would recommend his soul to St Michael. The priest complied with this desire, and he, together with others who were present, had the consolation of seeing the soul of his friend taken to Heaven by the Archangel.

It is related that a certain priest, one day while offering the Holy Sacrifice for the dead, recommended some souls in a particular manner when pronouncing the words: “May the Prince of Angels, St Michael, lead them into the glory of Heaven.” At the same time he saw the glorious Archangel descend from Heaven into Purgatory to deliver those souls and to conduct them into Paradise.

St Michael conducted the Holy Souls into Paradise

“The prince of the heavenly militia,” says St Anselm, “is all-powerful in Purgatory, and he can assist the Poor Souls whom the justice and sanctity of the Almighty retain in this place of punishment.” “It is incontestably recognised since the foundation of Christianity,” declares St Robert Bellarmine, “that the souls of the Faithful Departed are delivered from Purgatory  through the intercession of St Michael the Archangel.” Let us add to these authorities the words of St Alphonsus Liguori: “St Michael has received the care of consoling and helping the souls in Purgatory.”

– From: ‘Neath St Michael’s Shield, Fifth Edition, 1962

 

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