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IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour, and shall hate your enemy.'” And so forth.

But I say to you: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Many people, measuring the precepts of God by their own weakness rather than by the strength of his Saints, think it is impossible to perform what they command. They say it is enough if the virtuous do not hate their enemies. To love them is to command more than human nature can bear. We ought to realise that Christ did not command impossible things, although he did command perfect things: David did it to Saul and Absalom; Stephen the Martyr prayed for his enemies who stoned him; Paul wished to be anathema for the sake of his persecutors. This, too, Jesus taught and did when he said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven. If observing the commandments of God makes man a son of God, then is man a son of God not from his nature but from his will. “Therefore when you do an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be honoured by men.” The man giving an alms and sounding a trumpet is a hypocrite. He who fasts that he may disfigure his face, and that its emaciation may show the emptiness of his stomach – he, too, is a hypocrite. So, too, is he a hypocrite who prays in the synagogues and on the corners of streets, for the sole purpose of being seen by men.

The danger of vain-glory

From all this we may conclude that hypocrites do what they do that they may be glorified by men. It seems to me that, he, too, is a hypocrite who says to his brother, “Let me cast the speck out of your eye,” for he does this through vain-glory, that he may seem just. Wherefore, the Lord says to him: “Hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye.” It is not the act of virtue, but the motive for virtue, which has the reward from God. And if you swerve even but a little from the straight way, it matters not whether you stray to the right or to the left, since you have lost the true way.

– From: St Jerome, Book 1, Commentary on Matthew, Ch. 5-6

(see also: Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Direction, Confession)

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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PSALM 50 – MISERERE

PSALM 50 – MISERERE

The repentance and confession of David after his sin. The fourth penitential psalm.

Unto the end, a psalm of David. When Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had sinned with Bethsabee [2 Kings ( = 2 Samuel) 12]

Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.

And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity.

Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words, and mayst overcome when thou art judged.

For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.

For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast manifested to me.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.

Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.

Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee.

Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol thy justice.

O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.

A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.

 

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COME, O HOLY GHOST, THOU SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE

COME, O HOLY GHOST, THOU SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE

PREPARATION FOR CONFESSION

Prayer to the Holy Ghost

Come, O Holy Ghost, thou Spirit of truth and love, enlighten my understanding that I may truly know my sins. Let me see all my offences as clearly as they will appear before me one day when I go before my Divine Judge.

Place before me the greatness of my disloyalty and unfaithfulness. Let me clearly behold how often and to what extent I have sinned against God, against my neighbour, and against myself, the good which I have omitted, and the duties of my state which I have neglected; help me that I may clearly recognise my predominant passion, and the sins which, alas, have become habitual.

Move my heart that I may sincerely repent of my sins and truly and unreservedly confess them, and that with an efficacious purpose of amendment I may be found worthy of forgiveness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of grace and refuge of sinners, pray for me now that I may make a good confession.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, Laverty & Sons, Leeds, 1916

 

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WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

VI. 1440. Sin is before all else an offence against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Only God forgives sin

1441. Only God forgives sins. (Mk 2:7) Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48) Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. (cf. Jn 20:21-23)

1442. Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be a sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” (2Cor 5:18) The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.” (2Cor 5:20)

Reconciliation with the Church

1443. During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. (cf. Lk15; 19:9)

1444. In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. The ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20) The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (LG 22 para 2)

1445. The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

The sacrament of forgiveness

1446. Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (Tertullian, De Pænit. 4, 2: PL 1, 1343; cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1542.

– From: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

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IT IS GOOD FOR US TO HAVE OTHERS KNOW OUR FAULTS AND REBUKE THEM, FOR IT GIVES US GREATER HUMILITY

IT IS GOOD FOR US TO HAVE OTHERS KNOW OUR FAULTS AND REBUKE THEM, FOR IT GIVES US GREATER HUMILITY

Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. (Mt11:29)

HUMILITY

Be not troubled about those who are with you or against you, but take care that God be with you in everything you do.

Keep your conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help. If you know how to suffer in silence, you will undoubtedly experience God’s help. He knows when and how to deliver you; therefore place yourself in His hands, for it is a divine prerogative to help men and free them from all distress.

It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles himself because of his faults, he easily placates those about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him.

It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and with kind invitation bids them to come to Him. Thus, the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations, because his trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until you look upon yourself as inferior to others.

– From: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

 

 

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IS SORROW FOR OUR SINS, BECAUSE BY THEM WE LOSE HEAVEN AND DESERVE HELL, SUFFICIENT WHEN WE GO TO CONFESSION?

IS SORROW FOR OUR SINS, BECAUSE BY THEM WE LOSE HEAVEN AND DESERVE HELL, SUFFICIENT WHEN WE GO TO CONFESSION?

281. What is the Sacrament of Penance [Reconciliation] ?

Penance is a Sacrament whereby the sins, whether mortal or venial, which we have committed after Baptism are forgiven.

282. Does the Sacrament of Penance increase the grace of God in the soul?

The Sacrament of Penance increases the grace of God in the soul, besides forgiving sin; we should, therefore, often go to confession.

283. When did our Lord institute the Sacrament of Penance?

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he breathed on his Apostles and gave them power to forgive sins, saying: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.’ (Jn20:23)

284. How does the priest forgive sins?

The priest forgives sins by the power of God, when he pronounces the words of absolution.

285. What are the words of absolution?

The words of absolution are: ‘I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’.

286. Are any conditions for forgiveness required on the part of the penitent?

Three conditions for forgiveness are required on the part of the penitent – Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction.

287. What is Contrition?

Contrition is a heartfelt sorrow for our sins, because by them we have offended so good a God, together with a firm purpose of amendment.

288. What is a firm purpose of amendment?

A firm purpose of amendment is a resolution to avoid, by the grace of God, not only sin, but also the dangerous occasion of sin.

289. How may we obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins?

We may obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.

290. What consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that by our sins we have offended God, who is infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us.

291. What consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that our Saviour died for our sins, and that those who sin grievously ‘have wilfully crucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.’ (Heb6:6)

292. Is sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserved hell, sufficient when we go to confession?

Sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserve hell, is sufficient when we go to confession.

293. What is perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising purely from the love of God.

294. What special value has perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition has this special value; that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to confess them afterwards.

295. What is confession?

Confession is to accuse ourselves of our sins to a priest approved by the Bishop.

296. What if a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession?

If a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession he is guilty of a great sacrilege, by telling a lie to the Holy Spirit in making a bad confession.

297. How many things have we to do in order to prepare for confession?

We have four things to do in order to prepare for confession: first, we must heartily pray for grace to make a good confession: secondly, we must carefully examine our conscience: thirdly, we must take time and care to make a good act of contrition: and fourthly, we must resolve by the help of God to renounce our sins, and to begin a new life for the future.

298. What is satisfaction?

Satisfaction is doing the penance given us by the priest.

299. Does the penance given by the priest always make full satisfaction for our sins?

The penance given by the priest does not always make full satisfaction for our sins. We should therefore add to it other good works and penances, and try to gain Indulgences.

300. What is an Indulgence?

An Indulgence is a remission, granted by the Church, of the temporal punishment which often remains due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven.

– From the Penny Catechism, Imprimatur: John Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, 18th July 1971

 

 

 

 

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WE ARE THE GOOD FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST FOR GOD IN EVERY PLACE (2Co 2:15)

WE ARE THE GOOD FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST FOR GOD IN EVERY PLACE (2Co 2:15)

On Luke 7:36-50. For the text of this Gospel passage, please click here.

The importance of the Sacrament of Penance! The importance of true repentance! The importance of a real amendment of one’s ways in future, in word and deed!

What does this Pharisee, exulting in his self-righteousness, typify but the Jewish people? And the woman, the sinner who came and wept at the feet of the Lord, symbolise the Gentile world. She came with her alabaster box. She poured out her ointment. She knelt at his feet, in back, washing them with her tears, wiping them with her hair. Nor did she cease to kiss those feet she had so anointed and so wiped. That woman typifies us also, if when we have sinned we return to the Lord with a whole heart and imitate the example of her penitent grief. Of what is the ointment a type but of the sweet savour of a good reputation? Of this Paul says: “For we are the good fragrance of Christ for God in every place.”

If, therefore, we do good works which gain for the whole Church the savour of good repute, we pour out our ointment upon the body of our Lord. The woman at the feet of Jesus remained behind him but we – do we not stand opposed to him when we continue obdurate in sin and dispute his path. But when we are turned yet again and truly, earnestly repent of our sin, we stand behind him. We follow in the footsteps of one against we contended [by every single sin we commit; however small the sin may appear to us. One with a mature and trained conscience realises that there is no such thing as a “little sin”]. The woman washed his feet with her tears. We, too, do that very thing when we are moved to show compassion to the very least members of the Lord – when we comfort his holy ones in tribulation, when we make their sorrows our own.

Hence, we wipe the feet of the Lord with hair when we give as charity to his holy ones, even things for which we have no need. When our hearts sympathise, the bounty of our hand shows the truth of our compassion. The hand shows itself more generous when the mind is more deeply moved by compassion. The man who sympathises with the sufferings of his neighbour, yet gives nothing to alleviate them, even from the things he does not need, may wash the feet of the Saviour, but he does not wipe them with hair. Nor does he who gives words of pity to the sufferings of his brother but fails to remove the source of suffering. He weeps but he does not wipe the Lord’s feet. The woman kissed the feet she wiped. We do that, too, if we love warmly those we support out of our bounty – when the need of our neighbour is not irksome to us, nor the poverty we relieve a weariness to us, nor while our hand ministers to his wants our heart is untouched by compassion.

– From: St Gregory, Pope, Homily 33 on the Gospels [titles added afterwards], from: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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