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Message  Javier Dim 22 Mar 2020, 6:54 am

Fourth Week in Lent Sunday

Christ by His Passion opened to us the gates of Heaven

We have a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ.--Heb. x. 19.


The closing of a gate is an obstacle hindering men's entrance. Now men are hindered from entrance to the heavenly kingdom by sin, for Isaias says, It shall be called the holy way : the unclean shall not pass over it (Is. xxxv. 8 ).

Now the sin that hinders man's entrance into heaven is of two kinds. There is, first of all, the sin of our first parents.

By this sin access to the kingdom of heaven was barred to man. We read in Genesis (iii. 24) that after the sin of our first parents God placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubim and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. The other kind of hindrance arises from the sins special to each individual, the sins each man commits by his own particular action.


By the Passion of Christ we are freed not only from the sin common to all human nature, and this both as to the sin and as to its appointed penalty, since Christ pays the price on our behalf, but also we are delivered from our personal sins if we are numbered among those who are linked to the Passion by faith, by charity and by the sacraments of the Faith. Thus it is that through the Passion of Christ the gates of heaven are thrown open to us. And hence St. Paul says that Christ, being come a high priest of the good things to come, by His own blood entered once into the holies, having obtained a redemption that is eternal (Heb. ix. 11).

And this was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, where we read (Num. xxxv. 25, 28), the man-slayer shall abide there, that is, in the city of refuge, until the death of the high priest, that is anointed with holy oil. And after he is dead, then shall the man-slayer return to his own country.

The holy fathers who before the coming of Christ wrought works of justice earned their entrance into heaven through faith in the Passion of Christ, as is written, The saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice (Heb. xi. 33). By faith, too, it was that individuals were cleansed from the sins they had individually committed.

But faith or goodness, no matter who the person was that possessed it, was not enough to be able to move the hindrance created by the guilty state of the whole human creation. This hindrance was only removed at the price of the blood of Christ. And therefore before the Passion of Christ no one could enter the heavenly kingdom, to obtain that eternal happiness that consists in the full enjoyment of God.

Christ by His Passion merited for us an entrance into heaven, and removed what stood in our way. By His Ascension, however, He, as it were, put mankind in possession of heaven. And therefore it is that He ascended opening the way before them.


To be continued...

Javier
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Message  Javier Lun 23 Mar 2020, 10:59 am

Monday After the Fourth Sunday

Christ by His Passion merited to be exalted

He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross: for which cause God hath exalted Him.--Phil. ii. 8.


Merit is a thing which implies a certain equality of justice. Thus St. Paul says, To him that worketh the reward is reckoned according to debt (Rom. iv. 4).

Now since a man who commits an injustice takes for himself more than is due to himself, it is just that he suffer loss even in what is actually due to him. If a man steals one sheep, he shall give back four as it says in Holy Scripture (Exod. xxii. i). And this is said to be merited inasmuch as in this way the man's evil will is punished. In the same way the man who acts with such justice that he take less than what is due to him, merits that more shall be generously superadded to what he has, as a kind of reward for his just will. So, for instance, the gospel tells us, He that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke xiv. 11).


Now in His Passion Christ humbled Himself below His dignity in four respects:

(i) In respect of His Passion and His death, things which He did not owe to undergo.

(ii) In respect to places, for His body was placed in a grave and his soul in hell.

(iii) In respect to the confusion and shame that He endured.

(iv) In respect to His being delivered over to human authority, as He said Himself to Pilate, Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above (John xix. 11).



Therefore, on account of His Passion, He merited a fourfold exaltation.

(i) A glorious resurrection. It is said in the Psalm (Ps. cxxxviii. 1), Thou hast known my sitting down, that is, the humiliation of my Passion, and my rising up.

(ii) An ascension into heaven. Whence it is said, He descended first into the lower parts of the earth: He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens (Eph. iv. 9, 10).

(iii) To be seated at the right hand of the Father, with His divinity made manifest. Isaias says, He shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and St. Paul says, He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God hath exalted Him and hath given Him a name which is above all names (Phil. ii. 8, 9), that is to say, He shall be named God by all, and all shall pay Him reverence as God. And this is why St. Paul adds, That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (ibid. x).

(iv) A power of judgment. For it is said, Thy cause hath been judged as that of the wicked. Cause and judgment thou shalt recover (Job xxxvi. 17).



To be continued...

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Message  Javier Mar 24 Mar 2020, 3:58 pm

Tuesday After the Fourth Sunday

The Example of Christ Crucified


Christ assumed human nature in order to restore fallen humanity. He had therefore to suffer and to do, according to human nature, the things which could serve as a remedy against the sin of the fall.

Man's sin consists in this that he so cleaves to bodily goods that he neglects what is good spiritually. It was therefore necessary for the Son of God to show this in the humanity He had taken, through all He did and suffered, so that men should repute temporal things, whether good or evil, as nothing, for otherwise, hindered by an exaggerated affection for them, they would be less devoted to spiritual things.

Christ therefore chose poor people for His parents, people nevertheless perfect in virtue, so that none of us should glory in the mere rank or wealth of our parents.

He led the life of a poor man, to teach us to set no store by wealth.

He lived the life of an ordinary man, without any rank, to wean men from an undue desire for honours.

Toil, thirst, hunger, the aches of the body, all these He endured, to encourage men, whom pleasures and delights attract, not to be deterred from virtue by the austerity a good life entails.


He went so far as to endure even death, lest the fear of death might at any time tempt man to abandon the truth. And lest any of us might dread to die even a shameful death for the truth, He chose to die by the most accursed death of all, by crucifixion.

That the Son of God, made man, should suffer death was also fitting for this reason, that by His example He stimulates our courage, and so makes true what St. Peter said, Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps (I Pet. ii. 21).

Christ truly suffered for us, leaving us an example in anxieties, contempts, scourgings, the cross, death itself, that we might follow in His steps. If we endure for Christ our own anxieties and sufferings, we shall also reign together with Christ in the happiness that is everlasting. St. Bernard says, "How few are they, O Lord, who yearn to go after Thee, and yet there is no one that desireth not to come to Thee, for all men know that in Thy right hand are delights that will never fail. All desire to enjoy Thee, but not all to imitate Thee. They would willingly reign with Thee, but spare themselves from suffering with Thee. They have no desire to look for Thee, whom yet they desire to find."


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Mer 25 Mar 2020, 10:01 am

Wednesday After the Fourth Sunday

The Divine Friend

His sisters sent to Him saying : Lord, behold, he whom
Thou lovest is sick.--John xi. 3.



Three things here call for thought.

1. God's friends are from time to time afflicted in the body. It is not, therefore, in any way a proof that a man is not a friend of God that he is from time to time sick and ailing. Eliphaz argued falsely against Job when he said, Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? or when were the just destroyed? (Job iv. 7).

The gospel corrects this when it says, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick, and the Book of Proverbs, too, where we read, For whom the Lord loveth, He chastiseth: and as a father in the son He pleaseth himself (Prov. iii. 12).


2. The sisters do not say, "Lord, come and heal him." They merely explain that Lazarus is ill, they say, he is sick. This is to remind us that, when we are dealing with a friend, it is enough to make known our necessity, we do not need to add a request. For a friend, since he wills the welfare of his friend as he wills his own, is as anxious to ward off evil from his friend as he is to ward it off from himself. This is true most of all in the case of Him who, of all friends, loves most truly. The Lord keepeth all them that love him (Ps. cxliv. 20).


3. These two sisters, who so greatly desire the cure of their sick brother, do not come to Christ personally, as did the centurion and the man sick of the palsy. From the special love and familiarity which Christ had shown them, they had a special confidence in Him. And, possibly, their grief kept them at home, as St. Chrysostom thinks. A friend if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of thy household (Ecclus. vi. 11).


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Jeu 26 Mar 2020, 10:07 am

Thursday After the Fourth Sunday

The Death of Lazarus

Lazarus our friend sleepeth--(John xi. 11)


Our friend for the many benefits and services he rendered us, and therefore we owe it not to fail in his necessity. Sleepeth, therefore we must come to his assistance: a brother is proved in distress (Prov. xvii. 17).

He sleepeth, I say, as St. Augustine says, to the Lord. But to men he was dead, nor had they power to raise him.

Sleep is a word we use with various meanings. We use it to mean natural sleep, negligence, blameworthy inattention, the peace of contemplation, the peace of future glory, and we use it also to mean death. We will not have you ignorant, concerning the last sleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others that have no hope, says St. Paul (i Thess. iv. 12).

Death is called sleep because of the hope of resurrection, and so it has been customary to give death this name since the time when Christ died and was raised again, I have slept and have taken my rest (Ps. iii. 6).

I go that I may awake him out of sleep--(John xi. n).

In these words Jesus gives us to understand that He could raise Lazarus from the tomb as easily as we raise a sleeper from his bed. Nor is this to be wondered at, for He is none other than the Lord who raiseth up the dead and giveth life (John v. 21). And hence He is able to say, The hour ccmeth when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God (ibid. v. 28).

Let us go to him (John xi. 15).

Here it is the mercifulness of God that we are shown. Men, living in sin and as it were dead, unable to any power of their own to come to Him, He mercifully draws, anticipating their desire and need. Jeremias speaks of this when he says, Thus saith the Lord I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee (Jer. xxxi. 3).

Jesus therefore came and found that he had been four days already in the grave (John xi. 17).

St. Augustine sees in the four-days dead Lazarus a figure of the fourfold spiritual death of the sinner. He dies in fact through original sin, through actual sin, against the natural law, through actual sin against the written law, through actual sin against the law of the gospel and of grace.

Another interpretation is that the first day represents the sin of the heart, Take away the evil of your thoughts, says Isaias (i. 16) ; the second day represents sins of the tongue; Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth, says St. Paul (Eph. iv. 29); the third day represents the sins of evil action, Cease to do perversely (Isaias i. 16); the fourth day stands for the sins of wicked habit.

Whatever explanation we give, Our Lord at times does heal those who are four days dead, that is, those who have broken the law of the gospel and are bound fast by habits of sin.


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Ven 27 Mar 2020, 12:59 pm

Friday After the Fourth Sunday

The Precious Blood


Through the blood of Christ the New Testament was confirmed. This chalice is the new testament in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25). Testament has a double meaning.

(1) It may mean any kind of agreement or pact.

Now God has twice made an agreement with mankind. In one pact God promised man temporal prosperity and deliverance from temporal losses, and this pact is called the Old Testament. In another pact God promised man spiritual blessings and deliverance from spiritual losses, and this is called the New Testament, I will make a new covenant, saith the Lord, with the house of Israel and with the house of ]uda: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: but this shall be the covenant: I will give my law in their bosoms and I will write it in their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people (Jer. xxxi. 31-33).

Among the ancients it was customary to pour out the blood of some victim in confirmation of a pact. This Moses did when, taking the blood, he sprinkled it upon the people and he said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you (Exod. xxiv. 8 ). As the Old Testament or pact was thus confirmed in the figurative blood of oxen, so the New Testament or pact was confirmed in the blood of Christ, shed during His Passion.


(2) Testament has another more restricted meaning when it signifies the arrangement of an inheritance among the different heirs, i.e., a will. Testaments, in this sense, are only confirmed by the death of the testator. As St. Paul says, For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth (Heb. ix. 17). God, in the beginning, made an arrangement of the eternal inheritance we were to receive, but under the figure of temporal goods. This is the Old Testament. But afterwards He made the New Testament, explicitly promising the eternal inheritance, which indeed was confirmed by the blood of the death of Christ. And therefore, Our Lord, speaking of this, says, This chalice is the new testament in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25), as though to say, "By that which is contained in this chalice, the new testament, confirmed in the blood of Christ, is commemorated." (In 1 Cor. xii.)


2. There are other things which make the blood of Christ precious. It is:

(i) A cleansing of our sins and uncleanness. Jesus Christ hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Apoc. i. 5).

(ii) Our redemption, Thou hast redeemed us in Thy blood (ibid. v. 9).

(iii) The peacemaker between us and God and His angels, making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in the heavens (Coloss. i. 20).

(iv) A draught of life to all who receive it. Drink ye all of this (Matt. xxvi. 27). That they might drink the purest blood of the grape (Deut. xxxii. 14).

(v) The opening of the gate of heaven. Having therefore brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ (Heb. x. 19), that is to say, a continuous prayer for us to God. For His blood daily cries for us to the Father, as again we are told, You are come to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel (ibid. xii. 22-24). The blood of Abel called for punishment. The blood of Christ calls for pardon.

(vi) Deliverance of the saints from hell. Thou also by the blood of thy testament hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water (Zach. ix. 11).



To be continued...
Javier
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Message  Javier Sam 28 Mar 2020, 9:59 am

Saturday After the Fourth Sunday

There was not any more fitting way to free the Human Race than through the Passion of Christ


The suitability of any particular way for the attainment of a given end is reckoned according to the greater or less number of things useful to that end which the way in question brings about. The more things helpful to the end the method chosen brings about, the better and more suitable is that method or way. Now, owing to the fact that it was through the Passion of Christ that man was delivered, many things, helpful to man's salvation, came together in addition to his being freed from sin.


(i) Thanks to the fact that it was through the Passion that man was delivered, man learns how much God loves him, and is thereby stimulated to that love of God, in which is to be found the perfection of man's salvation. God commendeth His charity towards us: because when as yet we were sinners Christ died for us (Rom. v. 8 ).

(ii) In the Passion He gave us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice and of other virtues also, all of which we must practise if we are to be saved. Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps (i Pet. ii. 21).

(iii) Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited for man the grace which makes him acceptable to God, and the glory of life with God for eternity.

(iv) The fact that it is through the Passion that man has been saved, brings home to man the need of keeping himself clear from sin. Man has only to realise that it was at the price of the blood of Christ that he was bought back from sin. You are bought with a great price. Glorify God and bear Him in your body (i Cor. vi. 20).

(v) The fact that the Passion was the way chosen heightens the dignity of human nature. As it was man that was deceived and conquered by the devil, so now it is man by whom the devil in turn is conquered. As it was man who once earned death, so it is man who, by dying, has overcome death. Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ (i Cor. xv. 57).



To be continued...

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Message  Javier Dim 29 Mar 2020, 7:21 am

Passion Sunday

The Passion of Christ

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish; but may have life everlasting.--John iii. 14, 15


We may note here three things. 1. The Figure of the Passion. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert. When the Jews said, Our soul now loatheth this very light food (Num. xxi. 5), the Lord sent serpents in punishment, and afterwards, for a remedy, He commanded the brazen serpent to be made --as a remedy against the serpents and also as a figure of the Passion. It is the nature of a serpent to be poisonous, but the brazen serpent had no poison. It was but the figure of a poisonous serpent. So also Christ had no sin, which is the poison, but He had the likeness of sin. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin (Rom. viii. 3). Therefore Christ had the effect of the serpent against the movements of our blazing desires.


2. The Mode (*manner - Fray Javier del Espíritu Santo, O.P.) of the Passion. So must the Son of Man be lifted up. This refers to His being raised upon the cross. He willed to die lifted up, (i) To purify the air: already He had purified the earth by the holiness of His living there, it still remained for Him to purify, by His dying there, the air; (ii) To triumph over the devils, who in the air, make their preparations to war on us; (iii) To draw our hearts to His heart, I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all things to myself (John xii. 32). Since in the death of the cross He was exalted, and since it was there that He overcame His enemies, we say that He was exalted rather than that He died. He shall drink of the torrent by the way side; therefore shall He lift up His head (Ps. cix. 7).

The cross was the cause of His exaltation. He became obedient unto death even to the death of the cross, wherefore God hath exalted Him (Phil. ii. 8 ).


3. The Fruit of the Passion. The fruit is eternal life. Whence Our Lord says Himself, Whosoever believeth in Him, doing good works, may not perish, but may have life everlasting (John iii. 16).

And this fruit corresponds to the fruit of the serpent that foreshadowed Him. For whoever looked upon the brazen serpent was delivered from the poison and his life was preserved. Now the man who looks upon the Son of Man lifted up is the man who believes in Christ crucified, and it is in this way that he is delivered from the poison that is sin and preserved for the life that is eternal.


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Lun 30 Mar 2020, 10:10 am

Passion Monday

The Passion of Christ is a Remedy Against Sin


We find in the Passion of Christ a remedy against all the evils that we incur through sin. Now these evils are five in number. (i) We ourselves become unclean. When a man commits any sin he soils his soul, for just as virtue is the beauty of the soul, so sin is a stain upon it. How happeneth it, O Israel, that thou art in thy enemies' land? Thou art grown old in a strange country, thou art defiled with the dead (Baruch iii. 10, 11).

The Passion of Christ takes away this stain. For Christ, by His Passion, made of His blood a bath wherein He might wash sinners. The soul is washed with the blood of Christ in Baptism, for it is from the blood of Christ that the sacrament draws its power of giving new life. When therefore one who is baptised soils himself again by sin, he insults Christ and sins more deeply than before.


(ii) We offend God. As the man who is fleshly-minded loves what is beautiful to the flesh, so God loves spiritual beauty, the beauty of the soul. When the soul's beauty is defiled by sin God is offended, and holds the offender in hatred. But the Passion of Christ takes away this hatred, for it does what man himself could not possibly do, namely it makes full satisfaction to God for the sin. The love and obedience of Christ was greater than the sin and rebellion of Adam.


(iii) We ourselves are weakened. Man believes that, once he has committed the sin, he will be able to keep from sin for the future. Experience shows that what really happens is quite otherwise. The effect of the first sin is to weaken the sinner and make him still more inclined to sin. Sin dominates man more and more, and man left to himself, whatever his powers, places himself in such a state that he cannot rise from it. Like a man who has thrown himself into a well, there he must lie, unless he is drawn up by some divine power. After the sin of Adam, then, our human nature was weaker, it had lost its perfection and men were more prone to sinning.

But Christ, although He did not utterly make an end of this weakness, nevertheless greatly lessened it. Man is so strengthened by the Passion of Christ and the effect of Adam's sin is so weakened that he is no longer dominated by it. Helped by the grace of God, given him in the sacraments, which derive their power from the Passion of Christ, man is now able to make an effort and so rise up from his sins. Before the Passion of Christ there were few who lived without mortal sin, but since the Passion many have lived and do live without it.


(iv) Liability to the punishment earned by sin. This the justice of God demanded, namely, that for each sin the sinner should be punished, the penalty to be measured according to the sin. Whence, since mortal sin is infinitely wicked, seeing that it is a sin against what is infinitely good, that is to say, God whose commands the sin despises, the punishment due to mortal sin is infinite too.

But by His Passion Christ took away from us this penalty, for He endured it Himself. Who His own self bore our sins, that is the punishment due to us for our sins, in his body upon the tree (i Pet. ii. 24).

So great was the power and value of the Passion of Christ that it was sufficient to expiate all the sins of all the world, reckoned by millions though they be. This is the reason why baptism frees the baptised from all their sins, and why the priest can forgive sin. This is why the man who more and more fashions his life in conformity with the Passion of Christ, and makes himself like to Christ in His Passion, attains an ever fuller pardon and ever greater graces.


(v) Banishment from the kingdom. Subjects who offend the king are sent into exile. So, too, man was expelled from Paradise. Adam, having sinned, was straightway thrown out and the gates barred against him.

But, by His Passion, Christ opened those gates, and called back the exiles from banishment. As the side of Christ opened to the soldier's lance, the gates of heaven opened to man, and as Christ's blood flowed, the stain was washed out, God was appeased, our weakness taken away, amends made for our sins, and the exiles were recalled. Thus it was that Our Lord said immediately to the repentant thief, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise (Luke xxiii. 43). Such a thing was never before said to any man, not to Adam nor to Abraham, nor even to David. But this day, the day on which the gate is opened, the thief does but ask and he finds. Having confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ (Heb. x. 19).


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Mar 31 Mar 2020, 2:08 pm

Passion Tuesday

The Burial of Christ

She hath wrought a good work upon Me. She in pouring this ointment upon Me hath done it for my burial.--Matt. xxvi. 10-12.


It was right that Christ should be buried.

1. It proved that He had really died. No one is placed in the grave unless he is undeniably dead. And, as we read in St. Mark (ch. xv), Pilate, before he gave leave for Christ to be buried, made careful enquiry to assure himself that Christ was dead.


2. The very fact that Christ rose again from the grave gives a hope of rising again through Him to all others who lie in their graves. As it says in the gospel, All that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live (John v. 28, 25).


3. It was an example for those who by the death of Christ are spiritually dead to sin, for those, that is, who are hidden away from the turmoil of human affairs. So St. Paul says, You are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. iii. 3). So, too, those who are baptised, since by the death of Christ they die to sin, are as it were buried with Christ in their immersion, as St. Paul again says, We are buried together with Christ by baptism unto death (Rom. vi. 4).

As the death of Christ efficiently wrought our salvation, so too is His burial effective for us. St. Jerome, for example, says, "By the burial of Christ we all rise again," and explaining the words of Isaias (liii. 9), He shall give the ungodly for His burial, the Gloss says, "This means He shall give to God and the Father the nations lacking in filial devotion: for through His death and burial He has obtained possession of them."

The Psalm (Ps. Ixxxvii. 6) says, I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Christ by being buried showed Himself free among the dead indeed, for His being enclosed in the tomb was not allowed to hinder His coming forth in the Resurrection.


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Mer 01 Avr 2020, 5:45 am

Passion Wednesday

On Being Buried Spiritually


The sepulchre is a figure by which is signified the contemplation of heavenly things. So, St. Gregory, commenting on the words of Job (iii. 22), They rejoice exceedingly when they have found the grave, says, "As in the grave the body is hidden away when dead, so in divine contemplation there lies concealed the soul, dead to the world. There, at rest from the world's clamour, it lies, in a three days burial through, as it were, its triple immersion in baptism. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy face from the disturbance of men (Ps. xxx. 21). Those in great trouble, tormented with the hates of men, enter in spirit the presence of God and they are at rest."

Three things are required for this spiritual burial in God, namely, that the mind be perfected by the virtues, that the mind be all bright and shining with purity, and that it be wholly dead to this world. All these things are shown figuratively in the burial of Christ.


The first is shown in St. Mark's Gospel where we read how Mary Magdalen anointed Our Lord for His burial by anticipation, as it were. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for the burial (Mark xiv. 8 ). The ointment of precious spikenard (ibid, iii) stands for the virtues, for it is a thing very precious, and in this life nothing is more precious than the virtues. The soul that wishes to be holy and to be buried in divine contemplation, must first, then, anoint itself by the exercise of the virtues. Job (v. 26) says, Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance --and the Gloss explains the grave as meaning here, "divine contemplation"-- as a heap of wheat is brought in its season, and the explanation given in the Gloss is that eternal contemplation is the prize of a life of action, and therefore it must be that the perfect, first of all, exercise their souls in the virtues and then, afterwards, bury them in the barn where all quiet is gathered.


The second of the three things required is also noted in St. Mark, where we read (xv. 46) that Joseph bought a winding sheet, that is, a sheet of fine linen, which is only brought to its dazzling whiteness with great labour. Hence it signifies that brightness of the soul, which also is not perfectly attained except with great labour. He that is just let him be justified still (Apoc. xxii. 11). Let us walk in newness of life (Rom. vi. 4), going from good to better, through the justice inaugurated by faith to the glory for which we hope. Therefore it is that men, bright with a spotless interior life, should be buried in the sepulchre of divine contemplation. St. Jerome, commenting on the words, Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God (Matt. v. 8 ), says, " The clean Lord is seen by the clean of heart."


The third point for consideration is given by St. John where, in his gospel (xix. 30), he writes, Nicodemus also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. This hundred pounds weight of myrrh and aloes, brought to preserve the dead body, symbolises that perfect mortification of the external senses, the means by which the spirit, dead to the world, is preserved from the vices that would corrupt it. Though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Cor. iv. 16), which is as much as to say the inward man is most thoroughly purified from vices by the fire of tribulation.

Therefore man's soul must first, with Christ, become dead to this world, and then, afterwards, be buried with Him in the hiding place of divine contemplation. St. Paul says, You are dead with Christ, to the things that are vain and fleeting, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. iii. 3).


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Jeu 02 Avr 2020, 8:59 am

Passion Thursday

Which is the greatest sign of His love our Lord has given us?


It would seem that Christ gave us a greater sign of His love by giving us His body as our food than by suffering for us. For the love that will be in the life to come is a more perfect thing than the love that is in this life. And the benefit that Christ bestows on us by giving us His body as food is more like to the love of the life to come in which we shall fully enjoy God. The Passion that Christ underwent for us is, on the other hand, more like to the love that is of this life, in which we, too, are to suffer for Christ. Therefore it is a greater sign of Christ's love for us that He delivered His body to us as our food, than that He suffered for us.

Nevertheless, it is an argument against this that in St. John's gospel Our Lord himself says, Greater love than this no man hath that a man lay down His life for his friends (John xv. 13).

The strongest of human loves is the love with which a man loves himself. Therefore this love must be the measure, by comparison with which we estimate the love by which a man loves others than himself. Now the extent of a man's love for another is shown by the extent of good desired for himself that he forgoes for his friend. As Holy Scripture says, He that neglecteth a loss for the sake of a friend is just (Prov. xii. 26). Now a man wishes well to himself as to three things, namely, his soul, his body, and things outside himself.

It is then already a sign of love that, for another, a man is willing to suffer loss of things outside himself.

It is a greater sign if he is also willing to suffer loss in his body for another, that is, by bearing the burden of work or undergoing punishment.

It is the greatest of all signs of love if a man is willing, by dying for his friend, to lay down his very life.

Therefore, that Christ, in suffering for us, laid down His life was the greatest of all signs that He loved us. That He has given us His body for our food in the sacrament does not entail for Him any loss. It follows then that the first is the greater sign. Also this sacrament is a kind of memorial and figure of the Passion of Christ. But the truth is always greater than that which figures it, the thing is always greater than the memorial that recalls it.

The showing forth of the body of Christ in the sacrament has about it, it is true, a certain figure of the love with which God loves us in the life to come. But Christ's Passion is associated with that love itself, by which God calls us from perdition to the life to come. The love of God, however, is not greater in the life to come than it is in this present life.


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Ven 03 Avr 2020, 10:53 am

Passion Friday

Our Lady's Suffering in the Passion

Thy own soul a sword shall pierce-- Luke ii. 35.


In these words there is noted for us the close association of Our Lady with the Passion of Christ. Four things especially made the Passion most bitter for her.

Firstly, the goodness of her Son, Who did no sin (i Pet. ii. 22).

Secondly, the cruelty of those who crucified Him, shown, for example, in this that as He lay dying they refused Him even water, nor would they allow His mother, who would most lovingly have given it, to help Him.

Thirdly, the disgrace of the punishment, Let us condemn him to a most shameful death (Wis. ii. 20).

Fourthly, the cruelty of the torment. O ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow (Lam. i. 12).



The words of Simeon, Thy own soul a sword shall pierce, Origen, and other doctors with him, explain with reference to the pain felt by Our Lady in the Passion of Christ. St. Ambrose, however, says that by the sword is signified Our Lady's prudence, thanks to which she was not without knowledge of the heavenly mystery. For the word of God is a living thing, strong and keener than the keenest sword (cf. Heb. iv. 12).

Other writers again, St. Augustine for example, understand by the sword the stupefaction that overcame Our Lady at the death of her Son, not the doubt that goes with lack of faith but a certain fluctuation of bewilderment, a staggering of the mind. St. Basil, too, says that as Our Lady stood by the cross with all the detail of the Passion before her, and in her mind the testimony of Gabriel, the message that words cannot tell of her divine conception, and all the vast array of miracles, her mind swayed, for she saw Him the victim of such vileness, and yet knew Him for the author of such wonders.

Although Our Lady knew by faith that it was God's will that Christ should suffer, and although she brought her will into unity with God's will in this matter, as the saints do, nevertheless, sadness filled her soul at the death of Christ. This was because her lower will revolted at the particular thing she had willed and this is not contrary to perfection.


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Sam 04 Avr 2020, 8:52 am

Passion Saturday

How we, each of us, should wash one another's feet

If I then being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet--John xiii. 14


Our Lord wishes that His disciples shall imitate His example. He says therefore, If I, who am the greater, being your master and the Lord, have washed your feet, you also, all the more who are the less, who are disciples, slaves even, ought to wash one another s feet. Whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister . . . . Even as the Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. xx. 26-28).

St. Augustine says every man ought to wash the feet of his fellows, either actually or in spirit. And it is by far the best, and true beyond all controversy, that we should do it actually, lest Christians scorn to do what Christ did. For when a man bends his body to the feet of a brother, human feeling is stirred up in his very heart, or, if it be there already, it is strengthened. If we cannot actually wash his feet, at least we can do it in spirit. The washing of the feet signifies the washing away of stains. You therefore wash the feet of your brother when, as far as lies in your power, you wash away his stains. And this you may do in three ways:


(i) By forgiving the offences he has done to you. Forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also (Coloss. iii. 13).


(ii) By praying for the forgiveness of his sin, as St. James bids us, Pray for one another that you may be saved (James v. 16). This way of washing, like the first, is open to all the faithful.


(iii) The third way is for prelates, who should wash by forgiving sins through the authority of the keys, according to the gospel, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive , they are forgiven them (John xx. 23).


We can also say that in this one act Our Lord showed all the works of mercy. He who gives bread to the hungry, washes his feet, as also does the man who harbours the harbourless or he who clothes the naked.


Communicating to the necessities of the saints (Rom. xii. 13).


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Dim 05 Avr 2020, 5:29 am

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

Christ's Passion Serves us as an Example


The Passion of Christ is by itself sufficient to form us in every virtue. For whoever wishes to live perfectly, need do no more than scorn what Christ scorned on the cross, and desire what He there desired. There is no virtue of which, from the cross, Christ does not give us an example.

If you seek an example of charity, Greater love than this no man hath, than that a man lay down His life for his friends (John xv. 13), and this Christ did on the cross. And since it was for us that He gave his life, it should not be burdensome to bear for Him whatever evils come our way. What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He hath rendered to me (Ps. cxv. 12).

If you seek an example of patience, in the cross you find the best of all. Great patience shows itself in two ways. Either when a man suffers great evils patiently, or when he suffers what he could avoid and forbears to avoid. Now Christ on the cross suffered great evils. O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see, if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow (Lam. i. 12). And He suffered them patiently, for, when he suffered He threatened not (i Pet. ii. 23) but led as a sheep to the slaughter, He was dumb as a lamb before His shearer (Isaias liii. 7).

Also it was in His power to avoid the suffering and He did not avoid it. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and He will give Me presently more than twelve legions of angels? (Matt. xxvi. 53). The patience of Christ, then, on the cross was the greatest patience ever shown. Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb xii. i, 2).

If you seek an example of humility, look at the Crucified. For it is God who wills to be judged and to die at the will of Pontius Pilate. Thy cause hath been judged as that of the wicked (Job xxxvi. 17). Truly as that of the wicked, for Let us condemn him to a most shameful death (Wis. ii. 20). The Lord willed to die for the slave, the life of the angels for man.

If you seek an example of obedience, follow Him who became obedient unto death (Phil. ii. 8 ), for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just (Rom. v. 19).

If you seek an example in the scorning of the things of this world, follow Him who is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom. Lo! on the cross He hangs naked, fooled, spit upon, beaten, crowned with thorns, sated with gall and
vinegar, and dead. My garments they parted among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots (Ps. xxi. 19).

Error to crave for honours, for He was exposed to blows and to mockery. Error to seek titles and decorations for platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying Hail, king of the Jews (Matt, xxvii. 29).

Error to cling to pleasures and comfort for they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (Ps. Ixviii. 22).


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Lun 06 Avr 2020, 10:53 am

Monday in Holy Week

It is necessary that we be wholly clean


1. If I wash thee not, thou shall have no part with me (John xiii. 8 ). No one can be made a sharer in the inheritance of eternity, a co-heir with Christ, unless he is spiritually cleansed, for in the Apocalypse it is so stated. There shall not enter into it anything defiled (Apoc. xxi. 27), and in the Psalms we read, Lord who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? (Ps. xiv.) Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord; or who shall stand in His holy place? The innocent in hands, and clean of heart (Ps. xxiii. 3, 4).

It is therefore as though Our Lord said, If I wash thee not, thou shalt not be cleansed, and if thou art not cleansed, thou shalt have no part with me.


2. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head (John xiii. 9). Peter, utterly stricken, offers his whole self to be washed, so confounded is he with love and with fear. We read, in fact, in the book called The journeying of Clement, that Peter used to be so overcome by the bodily presence of Our Lord, which he had most fervently loved, that whenever, after Our Lord's Ascension, the memory of that dearest presence and most holy company came to him, he used so to melt into tears, that his cheeks seemed all worn out with them.

We can consider three parts in man's body, the head, which is the highest, the feet, which are the lowest part, and the hands which lie in between. In the interior man, that is to say, in the soul, there are likewise three parts. Corresponding to the head there is the higher reason, the power by means of which the soul clings to God. For the hands there is the lower reason by which the soul operates in good works. For the feet there are the senses and the feelings and desires arising from them. Now Our Lord knew the disciples to be clean as far as the head was concerned, for He knew they were joined to God by faith and by charity. He knew their hands also were clean, for He knew their good works. But as to their feet, He knew that the disciples were still somewhat entangled in those inclinations to earthly things that derive out of the life of the senses.

Peter, alarmed by Our Lord s warning (v. 8 ), not only consented that his feet should be washed, but begged that his hands and his head should be washed too.

Lord, he said, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. As though to say, "I know not whether hands and head need to be washed. For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified (i Cor. iv. 4). Therefore I am ready not only for my feet to be washed, that is, those inclinations that arise out of the life of my senses, but also my hands, that is, my works, and my head, too, that is, my higher reason."


3. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean (John xiii. 10). Origen, commenting on this text, says that the Apostles were clean, but needed to be yet cleaner. For reason should ever desire gifts that are better still, should ever set itself to achieve the very heights of virtue, should aspire to shine with the brightness of justice itself. He that is holy, let him be sanctified still (Apoc. xxii. 11).


To be continued...
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Message  Javier Mar 07 Avr 2020, 8:08 am

Tuesday in Holy Week

Christ preparing to wash the Apostle's feet

He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself.--(John xiii. 4).


1. Christ, in His lowly office, shows Himself truly to be a servant, in keeping with His own words, The Son of Man is not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a redemption for many (Matt. xx. 28).

Three things are looked for in a good servant or minister:

(i) That he should be careful to keep before him the numerous details in which his serving may so easily fall short. Now for a servant to sit or to lie down during his service is to make this necessary supervision impossible. Hence it is that servants stand. And therefore the gospel says of Our Lord, He riseth from supper. Our Lord himself also asks us, For which is greater, he that sitteth at table or he that serveth? (Luke xxii. 27).


(ii) That he should show dexterity in doing at the right time all the things his particular office calls for. Now elaborate dress is a hindrance to this. Therefore Our Lord layeth aside his garments. And this was foreshadowed in the Old Testament when Abraham chose servants who were well appointed (Gen. xiv. 14).


(iii) That he should be prompt, having ready to hand all the things he needs. St. Luke (x. 40) says of Martha that she was busy about much serving. This is why Our Lord, having taken a towel, girded himself. Thus he was ready not only to wash the feet, but also to dry them. So He (who came from God and goeth to God--John xiii. 3), as He washes their feet, crushes down forever our swollen, human self-importance.


2. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash (John xiii. 5).

We are given for our consideration this service of Christ; and in three ways his humility is set for our example.

(i) The kind of service this was, for it was the lowest kind of service of all! The Lord of all majesty bending to wash the feet of his slaves.

(ii) The number of services it contained, for, we are told, he put water into a basin, he washed their feet, he dried them and so forth.

(iii) The method of doing the service, for He did not do it through others, nor even with others helping him. He did the service Himself. The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things (Ecclus. iii. 20).



To be continued...
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Message  Javier Mer 08 Avr 2020, 6:46 am

Wednesday in Holy Week

Three things are symbolised by the washing of the Feet

He putteth "water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded--(John xiii. 5).


There are three things which this can be taken to symbolise.


1. The pouring of the water into the basin is a symbol of the pouring out of His blood upon the earth. Since the blood of Jesus has a power of cleansing it may in a sense be called water. The reason why water, as well as blood, came out of His side, was to show that this blood could wash away sin.

Again we might take the water as a figure of Christ's Passion. He putteth water into a basin, that is, by faith and devotion He stamped into the minds of faithful followers the memory of His Passion. Remember my poverty, and transgression, the wormwood and the gall (Lam. iii. 19).


2. By the words and began to wash it is human imperfection that is symbolised. For the Apostles, after their living with Christ, were certainly more perfect, and yet they needed to be washed, there were still stains upon them. We are here made to understand that no matter what is the degree of any man's perfection he still needs to be made more perfect still; He is still contracting uncleanness of some kind to some extent. So in the Book of Proverbs we read, Who can say My heart is clean, I am pure from sin (Prov. xx. 9).

Nevertheless the Apostles and the just have this kind of uncleanness only in their feet.

There are however others who are infected, not only in their feet, but wholly and entirely. Those who make their bed upon the soiling attractions of the world are made wholly unclean thereby. Those who wholly, that is to say, with their senses and with their wills, cleave to their desire of earthly things, these are wholly unclean.

But they who do not thus lie down, they who stand, that is, they who, in mind and in desire, are tending towards heavenly things, contract this uncleanness in their feet. Whoever stands must, necessarily, touch the earth at least with his feet. And we, too, in this life, where we must, to maintain life, make use of earthly things, cannot but contract a certain uncleanness, at least as far as those desires and inclinations are concerned which begin in our senses.

Therefore Our Lord commanded His disciples to shake off the dust from their feet. The text says, "He began to wash," because this washing away on earth of the affection for earthly things is only a beginning. It is only in the life to come that it will be really complete.

Thus by putting water into the basin, the pouring out of His blood is signified, and by His beginning to wash the feet of His disciples the washing away of our sins.


3. There is symbolised finally Our Lord's taking upon Him the punishment due to our sins. Not only did He wash away our sins but He also took upon Himself the punishment that they had earned. For our pains and our penances would not suffice were they not founded in the merit and the power of the Passion of Christ. And this is shown in His wiping the feet of the disciples with the linen towel, that is the towel which is His body.


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Jeu 09 Avr 2020, 9:17 am

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper


It was most fitting that the sacrament of the body of the Lord should have been instituted at the Last Supper.

1. Because of what that sacrament contains. For that which is contained in it is Christ Himself. When Christ in His natural appearance was about to depart from His disciples, He left Himself to them in a sacramental appearance, just as in the absence of the emperor there is exhibited the emperor's image. Whence St. Eusebius says, "Since the body He had assumed was about to be taken away from their bodily sight, and was about to be carried to the stars, it was necessary that, on the day of His last supper, He should consecrate for us the sacrament of His body and blood, so that what, as a price, was offered once should, through a mystery, be worshipped unceasingly."


2. Because without faith in the Passion there can never be salvation. Therefore it is necessary that there should be, for ever, among men something that would represent the Lord's Passion and the chief of such representative things in the Old Testament was the Paschal Lamb. To this there succeeded in the New Testament the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is commemorative of the past Passion of the Lord as the Paschal Lamb was a foreshadowing of the Passion to come.

And therefore was it most fitting that, on the very eve of the Passion, the old sacrament of the Paschal Lamb having been celebrated, Our Lord should institute the new sacrament.


3. Because the last words of departing friends remain longest in the memory, our love being at such moments most tenderly alert. Nothing can be greater in the realm of sacrifice than that of the body and blood of Christ, no offering can be more effective. And hence, in order that the sacrament might be held in all the more veneration, it was in His last leave-taking of the Apostles that Our Lord instituted it.

Hence St. Augustine says, "Our Saviour, to bring before our minds with all His power the heights and the depths of this sacrament, willed, before He left the disciples to go forth to His Passion, to fix it in their hearts and their memories as His last act."

Let us note that this sacrament has a threefold meaning :

(i) In regard to the past, it is commemorative of the Lord's Passion, which was a true sacrifice, and because of this the sacrament is called a sacrifice.

(ii) In regard to a fact of our own time, that is, to the unity of the church and that through this sacrament mankind should be gathered together. Because of this the sacrament is called communion.

St. John Damascene says the sacrament is called communion because by means of it we communicate with Christ, and this because we hereby share in His body and in His divinity, and because by it we are communicated to and united with one another.

(iii) In regard to the future, the sacrament foreshadows that enjoyment of God which shall be ours in our fatherland. On this account the sacrament is called viaticum, since it provides us with the means of journeying to that fatherland.



To be continued...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Ven 10 Avr 2020, 5:42 am

Good Friday

The Death of Christ


That Christ should die was expedient.

1. To make our redemption complete. For, although any suffering of Christ had an infinite value, because of its union with His divinity, it was not by no matter which of His sufferings that the redemption of mankind was made complete, but only by His death. So the Holy Spirit declared speaking through the mouth of Caiaphas, It is expedient for you that one man shall die for the people (John xi. 50). Whence St. Augustine says, "Let us stand in wonder, rejoice, be glad, love, praise, and adore since it is by the death of our Redeemer, that we have been called from death to life, from exile to our own land, from mourning to joy."


2. To increase our faith, our hope and our charity. With regard to faith the Psalm says (Ps. cxl. 10), I am alone until I pass from this world, that is, to the Father. When I shall have passed to the Father, then shall I be multiplied. Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die itself remaineth alone (John xii. 24).

As to the increase of hope St, Paul writes, He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. viii. 32). God cannot deny us this, for to give us all things is less than to give His own Son to death for us. St. Bernard says, "Who is not carried away to hope and confidence in prayer, when he looks on the crucifix and sees how Our Lord hangs there, the head bent as though to kiss, the arms outstretched in an embrace, the hands pierced to give, the side opened to love, the feet nailed to remain with us."

Come, my dove, in the clefts of the rock (Cant. ii. 14). It is in the wounds of Christ the Church builds its nest and waits, for it is in the Passion of Our Lord that she places her hope of salvation, and thereby trusts to be protected from the craft of the falcon, that is, of the devil.



With regard to the increase of charity, Holy Scripture says, At noon he burneth the earth (Ecclus. xliii. 3), that is to say, in the fervour of His Passion He burns up all mankind with His love. So St. Bernard says, "The chalice thou didst drink, O good Jesus, maketh thee lovable above all things." The work of our redemption easily, brushing aside all hindrances, calls out in return the whole of our love. This it is which more gently draws out our devotion, builds it up more straightly, guards it more closely, and fires it with greater ardour.


To be continued...

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Message  Javier Sam 11 Avr 2020, 4:27 am

Holy Saturday

Why our Lord went down to Limbo


From the descent of Christ to hell we may learn, for our instruction, four things:


1. Firm hope in God. No matter what the trouble in which a man finds himself, he should always put trust in God's help and rely on it. There is no trouble greater than to find oneself in hell. If then Christ freed those who were in hell, any man who is a friend of God cannot but have great confidence that he too shall be freed from whatever anxiety holds him. Wisdom forsook not the just when he was sold, but delivered him from sinners; she went down with him into the pit and in bands she left him not (Wis. x. 13-14). And since to His servants God gives a special assistance, he who serves God should have still greater confidence. He that feareth the Lord shall tremble at nothing and shall not be afraid: for he is his hope (Ecclus. xxxiv. 16).


2. We ought to conceive fear and to rid ourselves of presumption. For although Christ suffered for sinners, and went down into hell to set them free, he did not set all sinners free, but only those who were free of mortal sin. Those who had died in mortal sin He left there. Wherefore for those who have gone down to hell in mortal sin there remains no hope of pardon. They shall be in hell as the holy Fathers are in heaven, that is for ever.


3. We ought to be full of care. Christ went down into hell for our salvation, and we should be careful frequently to go down there too, turning over in our minds hell's pain and penalties, as did the holy king Ezechias as we read in the prophecy of Isaias, I said : In the midst of my days I shall go to the gates of hell (Isaias xxxviii. 10).


Those who in their meditation often go down to hell during life, will not easily go down there at death. Such meditations are a powerful arm against sin, and a useful aid to bring a man back from sin. Daily we see men kept from evildoing by the fear of the law's punishments. How much greater care should they not take on account of the punishment of hell, greater in its duration, in its bitterness and in its variety. Remember thy last end and thou shalt never sin (Ecclus. vii. 40).


4. The fact is for us an example of love. Christ went down into hell to set free those that were his own. We, too, therefore, should go down there to help our own. For those who are in purgatory are themselves unable to do anything, and therefore we ought to help them. Truly he would be a harsh man indeed who failed to come to the aid of a kinsman who lay in prison, here on earth. How much more harsh, then, the man who will not aid the friend who is in purgatory, for there is no comparison between the pains there and the pains of this world. Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me (Job xix. 21).

We help the souls in purgatory chiefly by these three means, by masses, by prayers, and by almsgiving. Nor is it wonderful that we can do so, for even in this world a friend can make satisfaction for a friend.


THE END

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