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THOU HAST PREPARED THY HOLY TABLE IN THE SIGHT OF MY SPIRITUAL ENEMIES

THOU HAST PREPARED THY HOLY TABLE IN THE SIGHT OF MY SPIRITUAL ENEMIES

ACT OF HOPE BEFORE HOLY COMMUNION

Jesus, my Lord and my God, Whom I behold with eyes of faith in the Sacrament of the Altar, what may I not hope from thee! Thou art the Almighty who canst ever succour us; thou art our all-loving and merciful God Who wilt gladly help us, Whose delight is to dispense grace and blessing.

Thou knockest at the door of our hearts yearning to enter and lavish upon us the fulness of thy grace. What canst thou withhold, O my loving Redeemer, when thou givest me thyself with all that thou art and all that thou hast? Thou art my refuge, my hope, my salvation, my life, my beatitude!

Thou hast promised refreshment to all who are weary and heavy burdened; thou hast the words of eternal life, and thou wilt fulfil these words in me. Thou hast prepared this holy table against all that afflicts me, against all the enemies of my salvation; I hope, therefore, to be strengthened at thy table for the struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Thou hast given me this food as the pledge of immortality; through it I hope for eternal life. Bless, O Lord, all that hope in thee. Increase my hope and let it not be in vain.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 

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“MY YOKE IS SWEET AND MY BURDEN LIGHT” – HAPPINESS AND PAIN

God meant us to enjoy happiness even in this world, though it could not be the happiness which excludes all pain and suffering. Such complete happiness is reserved for the next life, when we are participating in the infinite happiness of God in heaven. As long as we are living in this world pain and suffering are inevitable, because of the fall of man and the general corruption of human nature that followed upon it. Nothing that men can devise will ever change that fact or bring us to an earthly garden of Eden. This has been attested in every stage of the world’s history and never more clearly than in these latter days of widespread misery, chaos and unrest.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily (Lk 9:23)

So it was that when Christ Our Lord came on this earth to redeem us and to show us by His own example how we must live if we wish to have happiness both now and hereafter, He said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily,” and St Luke (9:23) prefaced the words, “He said to all.” It was to help and encourage us that He Himself took up His own Cross, an infinitely heavier one than any of us will be called upon to bear, so that because of His bitter Passion and Death He is known as “The Man of Sorrows”. But it would be a mistake to lay an undue or exclusive meaning on that title. Our Blessed Lord was in truth the happiest man that has ever lived on this earth: His human soul was the recipient of the greatest natural joys in His association with His Blessed Mother, with St Joseph His foster-father, with His relations and close friends. He found delight, too, in the world in which He lived, the beauties of nature, the hills, the fields, the flowers, in running water. Nothing of beauty escaped His sensitive gaze. He could find joy in the humble work of a carpenter, in all the trivial happenings of a peaceful home, in the simplicity of village life. Though He knew well the sufferings that were to befall Him, that terrible vision did not darken His life and leave Him ever fearful and depressed. For He had within His human soul the root of happiness – a complete union with His Father in heaven. His every activity in living wholly for God and in giving over His entire human will to the will of God ensured His happiness, a happiness that was not disturbed even when He hung on His Cross and suffered a death of the utmost anguish and pain.

The root of happiness

He wants us, too, to be happy even in this world but He knows that such limited happiness as this affords can only be attained by bearing our own cross and in facing courageously, in patience and without complaint, the ever-recurring trials of life. It is not enough to look upon Him crucified for us, but if His merits are to be productive of good in us we must shoulder our own crosses and find our happiness here below in so following Him.

Are happiness and pain really incompatible?

To many people it seems impossible that there can be happiness where there is pain. But a little reflection will show them their mistake. A mother will find happiness in suffering pain for the safety or life of her child. A brave soldier will be happy even when he is enduring hardships, privations, and perils to help his country’s cause. Many a man will undertake arduous work that puts a strain on his courage and is a cause of much present comfort, while at the same time he enjoys an inner happiness in the consciousness that he is attaining some great purpose. Again, to one who has been converted from a life of sin there is happiness in the thought that by bearing his sufferings, whether mental or physical, he is making reparation for the past [see also: Col.1:24] and gaining ever added merit [see also: Mt6:20]. Innocent and more spiritual souls, in whom there has been no serious sin in their lives, such as was the childlike Saint of Lisieux, will have joy in the knowledge that they become co-victims with Christ in the redemption of the world and in bringing others to God.

Lives of undisturbed calm

Pain is not in itself a good and is not something for itself naturally desirable, but in the inherited corruption of our human nature it can be recognised as a means of correction that redresses evil; and when so recognised adds to, rather than detracts from, that happiness that God would have us enjoy in this world. This is the explanation of the consolation and joy that the saints experienced even when subjected to multiplied suffering. A marked feature of their lives was their undisturbed calm and equanimity under the most distressing and painful earthly conditions. They forgot themselves in their love for God, and in so forgetting themselves they found the truth of His words – paradoxical as they may sound – “My yoke is sweet and my burden light.”

How to make one’s own hell for oneself

On the other hand, they who separate themselves from God and seek their happiness exclusively in this world, either in intellectual pursuits or, as is most commonly the case, in ministering to their passions and the demands of their lower nature, are sooner or later disillusioned and disappointed. Suffering and pain for them assume undue and exaggerated proportions. Their love of self brings its own nemesis and fills their lives with afflictions of soul they need never have known. They make their own hell, for the final result of living for self, when persisted in to the end, is the eternal loss of the One Supreme Good who alone can give us true happiness here and complete happiness hereafter.

My meat is to do the will of my Father (Jn 4:34)

Let us not forget, what has already been said, that the secret of happiness is what Our Blessed Lord by His own life and teaching disclosed to us. We must give ourselves entirely to God without reserve, even as He in His human nature gave Himself to His Father. “My meat” (that is, the very nourishment of His soul) “is to do the will of my Father” were His words (Jn 4:34).

Is it possible to bargain with God?

Even some substantially good Catholics make the mistake of thinking that they can make a sort of Concordat with God, conceding to Him the fulfilment of certain essential religious duties, such as hearing Mass and frequenting the Sacraments, but God in return is to secure their salvation, while they keep certain reserves for themselves, some inordinate attachments to persons and things in which God does not enter, attachments which, though not necessarily sinful, create a barrier between their Maker and themselves. Their religion thus becomes a wretched compromise, and as such precludes that happiness which a whole-hearyed acceptance of God’s rights over them would ensure

Complete surrender, complete union

Such persons fail to see that religion must enter into every single part of their lives, that it must be a duty to God not at certain times only of the day or the week but one that is interwoven with everything they think, say, or do at all times and at every moment of their lives. If they would know joy and happiness under every variable condition, whether of pleasure or of pain, God must be realised as the One Supreme Good whom with all the intensity of their intelligence and with all the energy of their will they embrace as wholly lovable and desirable to the exclusion of everyone and everything that threaten their complete union with Him.

“Not only for canonised saints”

Let it not be thought that only those who reach to the heroism of canonised saints can fashion their lives to this pattern. It is within the power of every fervent Catholic to do so. What holds back most is their inordinate fear of pain, their unwillingness to accept the Cross, their constant but futile endeavour to escape suffering whenever it rears its head. But of this they may be assured, that by earnest prayer and by the right use of the Sacraments, the grace of God, once their hearts are fully given to Him, will so transform them that they will realise and understand in their own lives the truth of the words in the Imitation:

Love is a great thing, yea in all ways a great good; for it alone maketh light all that is heavy and beareth with even mind every uneven fortune; for it carryeth a burden while counting it no burden, and maketh sweet and of good savour every bitter thing.

It is this love of God which, entwined with the Cross, gives a true conception of what religion means, and will enable all of us of goodwill, in spite of so much that is distressing and difficult in the world to-day, to possess even now happiness in our lives, while, still exiles on this earth, we look forward to the lasting union with Him “who will give us life without end in our fatherland” in Heaven.

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

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRAISE

A great deal of our spirituality is taken up with our faults and backsliding. We are constantly being reminded that ours is a fallen race and that sin is our heritage. No inconsiderable part of ascetical treatises is composed of the survey of sin and its malice, and we are continually being invited to reflect on what miserable sinners we are and what a hash we have hitherto made of our lives. The sole object of a great number of sermons we hear is to point out to us the sins and faults into which we fall and to persuade us at once to set about the correction of them.

A necessary part of our spiritual training

All this is without doubt a most necessary part of our spiritual training, which we can never overlook or neglect. But there may be at times just too much of it. It may be unmeasured and disproportionate. If we keep our minds exclusively fixed upon such topics the natural result must be one of gloom and despondency.

Anyone who is engaged in the reformation of a sinner will prove his unfitness for the task if he is for ever harping upon the sinner’s depravity.

We need to encourage as well as correct

If we would do any permanent good to such a one we need to encourage as well as correct. We need to remind him that if there is evil in him, so is there good. Souls in whom there is nothing but evil are only to be found in hell. As long as a man is living on this earth, however bad he may be, there always remains in him some little spark of goodness which by co-operation with grace can be fanned into a flame of salvation.

A spark of goodness which by cooperation with grace can be fanned into a flame of salvation

That we need to encourage as well as to correct seems obvious enough to anyone with any knowledge of human nature; and yet, obvious as it is, it is a truth that is sometimes strangely overlooked.

The mistake is the greater when the people with whom you have to deal are not bad characters at all but in reality are substantially good, even though subject to many sins, imperfections and faults. Among such people we may most certainly and unquestionably count those Catholics who never neglect to hear Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and regularly frequent the Sacraments. They may not have attained to any high degree of perfection but by fulfilling their duties they are making sacrifices which prove the genuineness of their faith and their endeavour to please God. A preacher, therefore, whose congregation is made up for the most part of such Catholics will conceive a certain respect for them and will avoid a form of address that may lead some of his hearers to go away with the idea that they are compounded of nothing but sins, with no redeeming virtues as a set-off to their failures.

A skewed picture

To be continually harping upon the faults and shortcomings of a congregation will not only have the effect of depressing or irritating them, but such a habit of speaking will not be conveying the full truth.

It will be as false as the picture entitled The Island in the North that leaves the impression that England is a country where nothing but damp and fogs prevail and where sunshine and beauty are never found. Whistler was fond of painting that kind of picture. It was sometimes described as a nocturne and a certain king of melancholy beauty was claimed for it. But it was really rather depressing, and one felt that on the same wall on which it was exhibited there should be another picture, say, of an English wooded country-side under a June sun, as a set-off to, and a correction of, the other. It is the distinguishing art of the Dutch school of painting that in their quiet scenes of home-life they manage so well the lights and shades; and it is the light of course that reveals the beauty of the picture as a whole.

We live in evil days when God’s laws are openly flouted

There is no doubt that we live in evil days when God’s laws are openly flouted by so many and His very existence denied.

But that is not the whole picture. There are still millions of substantially good Catholics and other Christians who acknowledge God as their Creator and Lord and strive to live by His commandments. Some of them are leading very holy lives in obscurity, unknown to the world at large.

Some live very holy lives in obscurity, unknown to the world at large

They are the really great ones in the eyes of God, who serve to counteract much of the evil surrounding them and by their example inspire us with hope for the regeneration of mankind.

This is a fact we need to dwell on when the outlook on what is undoubtedly a bad world is apt to depress and discourage us.

There have always been dark periods in the history of the Church but even in the worst of these God has always raised up saints who have helped to eradicate the evil and to bring back men to a sense of their duty to Him. What a scandal, for instance, was that of the great Schism of the West, when the faith of many must have been shaken or even wholly destroyed; and yet by the shining example of such saints as St Vincent Ferrer, St Catherine of Siena and others the Church emerged with her divinity unimpaired and entered upon a new life of worthier living.

“Lo, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”

So does Christ fulfil His promise: “Lo, I am with you always even to the consummation of the world.” It is faith in Him and in His presence in our midst that is the foundation of our confidence and gives us that encouragement, so necessary to preserve, in our service of God. It is the cheerful outlook that helps to advance in perfection; and sadness and melancholy, as we are constantly reminded, are enemies to be combated.

It is our faith in God that gives us that confidence

Our duty is not only to encourage ourselves but to encourage as well others with whom we may come in contact and to whom our influence extends.

As it is a means of encouraging, it is good sometimes to give people praise, show recognition of their good points and virtues, to let them see that if in some ways they have failed there are many more ways in which they have succeeded.

Encouraging ourselves and others

Charles Brookfield, a well-known actor of his day and a convert to the Catholic Church, once jokingly remarked: “I think there ought to be in every church not only the confessional where we have to tell our sins but another confessional where we can tell our virtues. In that way we recover our self-respect and the priest would have a truer and more complete knowledge of us.”

Every sincere sacramental confession is not only a confession of sin but an unconscious revelation of virtue

There is, of course, no need for this second confessional. We may assume that the priest has the qualities of a good confessor and will know that every sincere confession is not only a confession of sin but an unconscious revelation of virtue. It is testimony to the penitent’s faith, to his hope, to his humility – and often much else. Remembering this, the good confessor’s inclination is not to upbraid but on the contrary to be sympathetic, encouraging and helpful. If he sees his penitent unduly cast down or even suspects that he is likely to be, it is for the priest to remind him that he is not without some virtue, or at any rate has a substantial foundation of good upon which virtue can be raised.

In all accounts of Our Lord’s risen life, we do not find a word of recrimination to his repentant disciples for deserting Him

It is characteristic of Our Blessed Lord in His dealings with men, and especially with sinners, that He was always striking the note of encouragement and cheer.

When sinners repented, it was not His wont to bring up their past against them but He hastened at once to put them on the footing of friends who had never gone wrong.

In the dark hour of His suffering and death, Peter denied Him, and the rest of His apostles who with Peter had declared they would die with Him had on the contrary ingloriously fled and left Him to His fate.

But in all the accounts of His risen life, where do we find a word of recrimination for their defection, a word of blame to those shame-faced repentant disciples who cane out of their hiding-places to have share with Him in the victory of His Resurrection?

If there was in one instance a gentle chiding of them for their want of faith, there was no lack of warmth of welcome, no diminution of His love and friendship now that they had seen their folly and had hastened to His side again.

Though always aware of the evil in men, Our Blessed Lord seemed ever more intent upon seeing what was good in them.

And so in the Gospels we find Him constantly commending and praising those who had shown faith in Him and had done something to win His favour. Even when they had been guilty of much evil but had turned from the evil with sorrow, it is not on their evil He dwells but on the goodness that led to their sorrow.

Her love was more than her sins

“Many sins are forgiven her,” he said of the Magdalen, “because she has loved much,” to show us her love was more than her sins. He did not reproach the good thief with his multiplied crimes; but because one act of perfect contrition outweighs years of iniquity, He has for him only the consoling words:”Even this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”

Our Lord’s mercy for repentant sinners

We might multiply the instances in which Our Lord proves that He makes the utmost allowances for human frailty, and seemingly ignoring what is wrong and defective, eagerly seizes and expatiates upon what is good in men, that He might give them hope and encouragement.

In the spirit of Christ

We must learn the spirit of Christ in our dealings with our fellow men and in the ordering of our own interior life.

Many of us have a long record of sins against us for which by the grace and mercy of God we have repented, and whilst we ever retain an abiding sorrow for those sins let us never forget that the merits of our Redeemer on our behalf are infinite, only to be measured, if any measurement were possible, by the infinite love that He bears for each and every one of us.

The merits of Our Redeemer are infinite

He knows the clay of which we are formed. Most of us are far from being saints even now: we still sometimes sin, but if the habitual set of our wills is on good, the Saviour of men is ever there to assist us at once to rise and with courage renewed to continue the struggle.

The Saviour of men is ever there to assist us

Nor can it escape His notice that we are living in times of unusual trial and strain, brought about directly and indirectly by the terrible wars in which the greater part of the world has been involved. Everything, as we know, has been made more difficult – travelling, food, clothes. We often consider ourselves lucky to find even standing-room in our over-packed trains. We no longer get the abundance and variety of food which we once enjoyed. Poverty for many who once were in possession of riches has become such a real thing that they are now content to wear, if they can get them, the second-hand clothes of a pawn-shop.

Under these conditions of living we may be quite sure that if we humbly and patiently resign ourselves to the dispositions of Divine Providence, our credit balance in heaven will rapidly mount up and we need not fear to find ourselves declared bankrupts when the great day of reckoning comes.

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

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE GOSPELS, WHICH CONTAIN THE MEMORIALS OF THE WONDERFUL GRACE, ARE OUR PRINCIPAL TREASURES

Our Lord and Saviour

“To know Christ is to discern the Father of all, as manifested through his only-begotten Son incarnate… And thus the Gospels, which contain the memorials of this wonderful grace, are our principal treasures. They may be called the text of the Revelation; and the Epistles, especially St Paul’s, are as comments upon it, unfolding and illustrating it in its various parts, raising history into doctrine, ordinances into sacraments, detached words or actions into principles, and thus everywhere dutifully preaching his person, work and will.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman; The very life of personal religion lies in a knowledge of the Gospels, P.S. II, 154-155

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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TODAY’S PSALM (PSALM 26)

(Week 26 of the year: Thursday)

R. I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.

1. O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
“Seek his face.” (R.)

2. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help. (R.)

3. I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord! (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Alleluia!

 
 

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LORD, INCREASE IN US FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us faith, hope and charity; and so that we may attain what you have promised us, make us love what you command. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (1 CORINTHIANS 12:31-13:13)

(Week 24 of the year: Wednesday)

THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT LAST: FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE; AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.

If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity; it profiteth me nothing.

Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; it is not puffed up;

Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.

We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.

And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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