Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Saints on St. Joseph

Here are two Medieval era Saints preaching on St. Joseph. Devotion to St. Joseph began to flourish during the Middle Ages, one reason being the people needed a worker-saint to look up to as capitalism began to replace the lord and manor form of government and economy. I do not know exactly how a transition happened, because surely people worked for themselves and their family since time immemorial in European history but capitalism became more prevalent as the people went from feudalism to cities.

The first sermon is found in the Breviary for the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19. The second can be found for the Feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph, which was the third Wednesday after Easter; it has since been repressed. In our time there is a feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, in which we honor Our Lord's foster-father as the provider for Our Lord and His mother. Notice the feast day is on Communist Labor Day; St. Joseph should be our primary patron against the evils of Communism, which the Church has always declared to be evil, as seen by its fruits.

The Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Bernard the Abbot
Homilia 2 super Missus est, prope finem
Who and what manner of man this blessed Joseph was, we may conjecture from that title which the providential ordering of God bestowed upon him. He was chosen to the honour of being called, and of being supposed to be, the father of God. What he was we may also conjecture from the very name Joseph, which is to be interpreted as Increase. Wherefore let us liken him to that great man after whom he was named, the Patriarch Joseph. This latter sojourned in Egypt, even as he did. From this latter he not only inherited a name, but an example of chastity which he more than equalled, so that he was like unto the Patriarch Joseph in grace and innocence.

If the Patriarch Joseph (sold by his brethren through envy, and forced into servitude in Egypt) was a type of Christ sold by his brethren and handed over to the Gentiles, the other Joseph (forced through the envy of Herod to flee into Egypt) did in actual fact bring Christ amongst the Egyptian Gentiles. The first Joseph (keeping faith with his lord) would not carnally know his lord's lady. The second Joseph (spiritually knowing the Lady who was the Mother of his Lord to be virgin) kept faithfully virgin toward her. To the first Joseph was given to know dark things in the interpretation of dreams. To the second Joseph was given in sleep to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

The first Joseph laid by bread, not for himself only, but for all the people. The second Joseph received into his keeping the Living Bread which came down from heaven, and he kept the same, not for himself only, but for all the world. Without doubt, good and faithful was this Joseph who espoused the Mother of the Saviour. Yea, I say unto you, he is that faithful and wise servant whom the Lord hath made ruler over his Household. For the Lord appointed him to be the comfort of his Mother, the keeper of his own body, and, in a word, the chief and most trusty helper on earth in carrying out the eternal counsels.

The Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Bernardin of Siena
Sermo de S. Joseph
Here is what we may call the ordinary rule concerning the bestowal of special favours on natural beings, namely ; whenever divine grace electeth such an one to a particular privilege, or to a vocation of special responsibility, the person so elected receiveth all the gifts of grace which be needful for him in that state of life whereunto he is called, and receiveth them abundantly. Of this there is an excellent instance in the case of the holy Joseph, the so-called father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the real husband of her who is Queen of the world, and Lady of the Angels. He had been elected by the eternal Father to be the faithful cherisher and protector of God's two chief treasures, namely, Jesus and Mary, God's own Son and Joseph's own wife. This duty Joseph faithfully discharged. Wherefore there hath been said unto Joseph, those words of the Lord : Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; enter thou into the joy of the Lord.

Let us consider this man Joseph in connection with the Universal Church of Christ. Is he not that elect and chosen one, through whom, and under whom, Christ is orderly and honestly brought into the world? If, then, the Holy Universal Church be under a debt to the Virgin Mother (because through her the Church hath been made to receive Christ), next to Mary the Church oweth thanks and reverence to Joseph. He verily is the key which unlocked the treasures of the Church of the Old Testament, for in his person all the excellence of Patriarchs and Prophets cometh to the completion of achievement, seeing that he alone enjoyed in this life the full fruition of what God had been pleased to promise aforetime to them. It is therefore with good reason that we see a type of him in that Patriarch Joseph who stored up corn for the people. But the second Joseph hath a more excellent dignity than the first, seeing that the first gave to the Egyptians bread only for the body, but the second was, on behalf of all the elect, the watchful guardian of that Living Bread which came down from heaven, of which whosoever eateth will never die.

No doubt Christ still treateth Joseph in heaven with that familiarity, honour, and most high condescension which he paid, like a son to a father, whilst he walked among men. Nay, rather, Christ hath now crowned and completed in heaven those habits which he learnt on earth. Hence it is reasonable to see a particular application to Joseph in those words uttered by Christ : Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Note that we think of the joy of eternal blessedness as entering into the heart of men. But the Lord preferred to say to the man : Enter thou into the joy. Thus did the Lord mystically set forth a joy which should not only be within man, but outside him also (that is ; above him, and below him, and all round about him, and overflowing him), as it were a great bottomless pit of joy to swallow him up altogether. In this thy blessedness, O thou blessed Joseph, remember us! In thy helpful prayers, make intercession for us with him who was supposed to be thy Son! Likewise, obtain some favour for us from that most blessed Maiden who was thy wife, and the Mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feast of St. Joseph

St. Joseph


Feast: March 19

The glorious St. Joseph was lineally descended from the greatest kings of the tribe of Judah, and from the most illustrious of the ancient patriarchs; but his true glory consisted in his humility and virtue. The history of his life hath not been written by men; but his principal actions are recorded by the Holy Ghost himself God entrusted him with the education of his divine Son, manifested in the flesh. In this view he was espoused to the Virgin Mary. It is an evident mistake of some writers, that by a former wife he was the father of St. James the Less, and of the rest who are styled in the gospels the brothers of our Lord; for these were only cousin-germans to Christ, the sons of Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin, wife of Alphaeus, who was living at the time of our Redeemer's crucifixion. St. Jerome assures us1 that St. Joseph always preserved his virgin chastity; and it is of faith that nothing contrary thereto ever took place with regard to his chaste spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was given her by heaven to be the protector of her chastity, to secure her from calumnies in the birth of the Son of God, and to assist her in his education, and in her journeys, fatigues, and persecutions. How great was the purity and sanctity of him who was chosen the guardian of the most spotless Virgin! This holy man seems, for a considerable time, to have been unacquainted that the great mystery of the Incarnation had been wrought in her by the Holy Ghost. Conscious, therefore, of his own chaste behaviour towards her, it could, not but raise a great concern in his breast to find that, notwithstanding the sanctity of her deportment, yet he might be well assured that she was with child. But being, as the scripture calls him, and consequently possessed of all virtues, especially of charity and mildness towards his neighbour, he was determined to leave her privately, without either condemning or accusing her, committing the whole cause to God. These, his perfect dispositions, were so acceptable to God, the lover of justice, charity, and peace, that before he put his design into execution he sent an angel from heaven, not to reprehend anything in his holy conduct, but to dissipate all his doubts and fears, by revealing to him this adorable mystery. How happy should we be if we were as tender in all that regards the reputation of our neighbor; as free from entertaining any injurious thought or suspicion, whatever certainty our conjectures or our senses may seem to rely on; and as guarded in our tongue! We commit these faults only because in our hearts we are devoid of that true charity and simplicity, whereof St. Joseph sets us so eminent an example on this occasion.

In the next place we may admire in secret contemplation with what devotion, respect, and tenderness he beheld and adored the first of all men, the new-born Saviour of the world, and with what fidelity he acquitted himself of his double charge, the education of Jesus and the guardianship of his blessed mother. "He was truly the faithful and prudent servant," says St. Bernard,2 "whom our Lord appointed the master of his household, the comfort and support of his mother, his foster-father, and most faithful co-operator in the execution of his deepest counsels on earth." "What a happiness," says the same Father, "not only to see Jesus Christ, but also to hear him: to carry him in his arms, to lead him from place to place, to embrace and caress him, to feed him, and to be privy to all the great secrets which were concealed from the princes of this world!"

"O astonishing elevation! O unparalleled dignity!" cries out the pious Gerson,3 in a devout address to St. Joseph, "that the mother of God, queen of heaven, should call you her lord; that God himself, made man, should call you father, and obey your commands. O glorious Triad on earth, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, how dear a family to the glorious Trinity in heaven, Father, Son,, and Holy Ghost! Nothing is on earth so great, so good, so excellent." Amidst these extraordinary graces, what more wonderful than his humility! He conceals his privileges, lives as the most obscure of men, publishes nothing of God's great mysteries, makes no further inquiries into them, leaving it to God to manifest them at his own time, seeks to fulfil the order of providence in his regard without interfering with anything but what concerns himself. Though descended from the royal family which had long been in the possession of the throne of Judea, he is content with his condition, that of a mechanic or handicraftsman, and makes it his business, by labouring in it, to maintain himself, his spouse, and the divine Child.

We should be ungrateful to this great saint if we did not remember that it is to him, as the instrument under God, that we are indebted for the preservation of the infant Jesus from Herod's jealousy and malice, manifested in the slaughter of the Innocents. An angel appearing to him in his sleep bade him arise, take the child Jesus, and fly with him into Egypt, and remain there till he should again have notice from him to return. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed Joseph to many inconveniences and sufferings in so long a journey, with a little babe and a tender virgin, the greater part of the way being through deserts and among strangers; yet he alleges no excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return. St. Chrysostom observes that God treats thus all his servants, sending them frequent trials to clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing seasons of consolation.4 "Joseph," says he, "is anxious on seeing the Virgin with child; an angel removes that fear; he rejoices at the child's birth, but a great fear succeeds; the furious king seeks to destroy the child, and the whole city is in an uproar to take away his life. This is followed by another joy- the adoration of the Magi; a new sorrow then arises; he is ordered to fly into a foreign unknown country, without help or acquaintance." It is the opinion of the Fathers that upon their entering Egypt, at the presence of the child Jesus all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of their gods trembled, and in many places fell to the ground, according to that of Isaiah xix.: The Fathers also attribute to this holy visit the spiritual benediction poured on that country, which made it for many ages most fruitful in saints.

After the death of King Herod, which was notified to St. Joseph by a vision, God ordered him to return with the child and his mother into the land of Israel, which our saint readily obeyed. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus succeeded Herod in that part of the country, apprehensive he might be infected with his father's vices- cruelty and ambition-he feared on that account to settle there, as he would otherwise probably have done, for the more commodious education of the child. And therefore, being directed by God in another vision, he retired into the dominions of his brother Herod Antipas, in Galilee, to his former habitation in Nazareth, where the wonderful occurrences of our Lord's birth were less known. St. Joseph being a strict observer of the Mosaic law, in conformity to its direction annually repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. Archelaus being banished by Augustus and Judea made a Roman province, he had now nothing more to fear at Jerusalem. Our Saviour being advanced to the twelfth year of his age, accompanied his parents thither; who, having performed the usual ceremonies of the feast, were now returning with many of their neighbours and acquaintances towards Galilee, and, never doubting but that Jesus had joined himself with some of the company, they travelled on for a whole day's journey without further inquiry after him before they discovered that he was not with them. But when night came on, and they could hear no tidings of him among their kindred and acquaintance, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost speed to Jerusalem; where, after an anxious search of three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the learned doctors of the law, hearing them discourse, and asking them such questions as raised the admiration of all that heard him, and made them astonished at the ripeness of his understanding: nor were his parents less surprised on this occasion. And when his mother told him with what grief and earnestness they had sought him, and to express her sorrow for that, though short, privation of his presence, said to him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I sought thee in great affliction of mind": she received for answer that, being the Messias and Son of God, sent by his Father into the world in order to redeem it, he must be about his Father's business, the same for which he had been sent into the world; and therefore that it was most likely for them to find him in his Father's house: intimating that his appearing in public on this occasion was to advance his Father's honour, and to prepare the princes of the Jews to receive him for the Messias; pointing out to them from the prophets the time of his coming. But though in thus staying in the temple, unknown to his parents, he did something without their leave, in obedience to his heavenly Father, yet in all other things he was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, and there living in all dutiful subjection to them.

Aelred, our countryman, Abbot of Rieval, in his sermon on losing the child Jesus in the temple, observes that this his conduct to his parents is a true representation of that which he shows us, whilst he often withdraws himself for a short time from us to make us seek him the more earnestly. He thus describes the sentiments of his holy parents on this occasion."5 Let us consider what was the happiness of that blessed company, in the way to Jerusalem, to whom it was granted to behold his face, to hear his sweet words, to see in him the signs of divine lie wisdom and virtue; and in their mutual discourse to receive the influence of his saving truths and example. The old and young admire him. I believe boys of his age were struck with astonishment at the gravity of his manners and words. I believe such rays of grace darted from his blessed countenance as drew on him the eyes, ears, and hearts of every one. And what tears do they shed when he is not with them." He goes on considering what must be tie grief of his parents when they had lost him; what their sentiments, and how earnest their search: but what their joy when they found him again. "Discover to me," says he, "O my Lady, Mother of my God, what were your sentiments, what your astonishment and your joy when you saw him again, and sitting, not among boys, but amidst the doctors of the law: when you saw every one's eyes fixed on him, every one's ears listening to him, great and small, learned and unlearned, intent only on his words and motions. You now say: I have found him whom I love. I will hold him, and will no more let him part from me. Hold him, sweet Lady, hold him fast; rush on his neck dwell on his embraces, and compensate the three days' absence by multiplied delights in your present enjoyment of him. You tell him that you and his father sought him in grief. For what did you grieve? not for fear of hunger or want in him whom you knew to be God: but I believe you grieved to see yourself deprived of the delights of his presence even for a short time; for the Lord Jesus is so sweet to those who taste him, that his shortest absence is a subject of the greatest grief to them." This mystery is an emblem of the devout soul, and Jesus sometimes withdrawing himself, and leaving her in dryness, that she may be more earnest in seeking him. But, above all, how eagerly ought the soul which has lost God by sin to seek him again, and how bitterly ought she to deplore her extreme misfortune!

As no further mention is made of St. Joseph, he must have died before the marriage of Cana and the beginning of our divine Saviour's ministry. We cannot doubt but he had the happiness of Jesus and Mary attending at his death, praying by him, assisting and comforting him in his last moments: whence he is particularly invoked for the great grace of a happy death, and the spiritual presence of Jesus in that tremendous hour. The church reads the history of the Patriarch Joseph on his festival, who was styled the saviour of Egypt, which he delivered from perishing by famine; and was appointed the faithful master of the household of Potiphar, and of that of Pharaoh and his kingdom. But our great saint was chosen by God the saviour of the life of him who was the true Saviour of the souls of men, rescuing him from the tyranny of Herod. He is now glorified in heaven, as the guardian and keeper of his Lord on earth. As Pharaoh said to the Egyptians in their distress, "Go to Joseph"; so may we confidently address ourselves to the mediation of him, to whom God, made man, was subject and obedient on earth.

The devout Gerson expressed the warmest devotion to St. Joseph, which he endeavoured by letters and sermons to promote. He composed an office in his honour, and wrote his life in twelve poems, called Josephina. He enlarges on all the circumstances of his life by pious affections and meditations. St. Teresa chose him the chief patron of her order. In the sixth chapter of her life she writes thus: "I chose the glorious St. Joseph for my patron, and I commend myself in all things singularly to his intercession. I do not remember ever to have asked of God anything by him which I did not obtain. I never knew anyone who, by invoking him, did not advance exceedingly in virtue; for he assists in a wonderful manner all who address themselves to him." St. Francis of Sales, throughout his whole nineteenth entertainment, extremely recommends devotion to him, and extols his merits, principally his virginity, humility, constancy, and courage. The Syrians and other eastern churches celebrate his festival on the 20th of July; the western church on the 19th of March. Pope Gregory XV in 1621, and Urban VIII in 1642, commanded it to be kept a holiday of obligation.

The holy family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph presents to us the most perfect model of heavenly conversation on earth. How did those two seraphim, Mary and Joseph, live in their poor cottage! They always enjoyed the presence of Jesus, always burning with the most ardent love for him, inviolably attached to his sacred person, always employed and living only for him. What were their transports in beholding him, their devotion in listening to him, and their joy in possessing him! O heavenly life! O anticipation of the heavenly bliss! O divine conversation! We may imitate them, and share some degree of this advantage, by conversing often with Jesus, and by the contemplation of his most amiable goodness, kindling the fire of his holy love in our breasts. The effects of this love, if it be sincere, will necessarily appear in our putting on his spirit, and imitating his example and virtues; and in our studying to walk continually in the divine presence, finding God everywhere, and esteeming all the time lost which we do not spend with God, or for his honor.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Short Reflection on the Feast of Christmas, by St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom, whose Greek epithet means "golden-mouthed," was Patriarch of Constantinople. He died in the year 407.

What shall I say? How shall I describe this birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He who sits upon the sublime and heavenly throne, now lies in a manger. And he who cannot be touched, who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of people. …God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feast of St. Andrew

November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew, the first called to be an Apostle and the brother of St. Peter.

From Matins:

The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, Behold the Lamb of God, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ, going by, called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. They made no delay, but left their nets, and followed him. After the death and Resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia as the province of his preaching, and, after labouring there, he went through Epirus and Thrace, where he turned vast multitudes to Christ by his teaching and miracles. Finally he went to Patras in Achaia, and there also he brought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Aegeas the Proconsul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all.

Then Aegeas, being angry, answered him, Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed him not, and he was crucified by the Jews. Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ had given himself up to die for man's salvation ; but the Proconsul blasphemously interrupted him, and bade him look to himself, and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One, and the True, not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot : and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth. Then Aegeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now, the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitude, and earnestly besought them not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near.

Some short while after, he was brought before the judgment seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross, and rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness. Then Aegeas could bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ. Andrew, then, was led to the place of martyrdom, and, as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out : O precious cross, made so fair and goodly by the sweet body of my Lord, how long have I desired thee! how warmly have I loved thee! how constantly have I sought thee! And, now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from amongst men, and join me anew to my Master, that as by thee he redeemed me, so by thee also he may take me unto himself. So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and, finally, passed into the Presence of him the likeness of whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi. In the Pontificate of Pope Pius II, his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Those are the three readings from Matins about the life of St. Andrew. I will add that you can see an X-shaped cross, the kind on which St. Andrew died, on the flag of Scotland, as he is Scotland's patron saint.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

The last Sunday in October is traditionally the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.

From Matins:
The Lesson is taken from the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI

Since the Holy Year hath provided more than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the kingdom of Christ, we deem it to be in the highest degree in keeping with our Apostolic office to accede to the prayers of many Cardinals, Bishops, and faithful, made known to us both individually and collectively, by closing this very Year with the insertion into the ecclesiastical liturgy of a special feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. It is a long-standing and common custom to apply, in a symbolic sense, the title of King to Christ. That is to say, to refer to him as King because he hath surpassed and excelled every created being by virtue of his sublime perfection in all things. In this sense he is said to reign in the minds of men. By which is meant, not only that the keenness of his mind and the extent of his knowledge surpasseth the rest of mankind, but that he is himself the Truth ; and hence that from him the truth is to be discovered, and also obédiently received, by all mankind. Likewise he is said to reign in the wills of men. For in him not only is the human will in exact and precise accord with the holiness of the divine will, but also from him doth come to us the grace and inspiration to conform our own preferences to the divine will, whereby we are moved to the noblest kind of actions. Again, Christ is acknowledged to be the King of human hearts, on account of his love which passeth human understanding, and of his mercy and kindness, whereby he draweth all men unto him. For never hath anyone been loved so much at any time as Jesus Christ is loved, and that by so many different races. Neither will it happen in time to come that anyone shall be so loved. But although all this is true, Christ is also King in the proper and strict sense of the word. For if we ponder this matter more deeply we cannot but see that this title, as well as true kingly power, is rightly claimed for Christ as Man. As the Word of God he is of the same substance as the Father, and hath all things in common with the Father, and therefore in his divine nature he hath the highest and most absolute dominion over all created things. Hence it is only as Man that he can be said to have received from the Father the kingdom and the power and the glory.

As to the source of our Lord's kingly dignity, it is fittingly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria who saith : He doth possess dominion, if I may use the word, over all creatures ; a dominion not seized by violence, nor usurped from anyone, but possessed by virtue of his very being and nature. In him there is a marvellous union of the divine and human natures which is known as the hypostatic union, and this very union is a glorious manifestation of his dominion. That is to say, as a consequence of this hypostatic union, Angels and men do not only adore Christ as God, but are subject to his dominion as Man, and do obey him as such. For by reason of this hypostatic union, if for no other reason, Christ hath power over all created beings. And now, to explain the import and nature of this headship of his, let us say briefly that it consisteth in a three-fold power, namely, that of Law-giver, Judge, and Ruler. For if this power were lacking, we could scarcely discern wherein he hath any such headship. And, moreover the witness to our Redeemer's universal dominion, which same is not only implied but announced by Holy Scripture, is more than clear, so that it is an article of the Catholic Faith, proceeding from the truth that Christ Jesus was given to mankind as the Saviour of all those who put their faith in him. But this being so, it is clear that he is also to be the Law-giver for those who obey him. Thus, the Gospels not only relate that he made laws, but they also shew him in the act of promulgating them. In several different passages the divine Master is described as announcing in various ways that whosoever keepeth his commandments, doth thereby shew love for him, and the desire to persevere in loving him. As to his júdiciary power, Jesus himself hath told us that the Father hath conferred this upon him ; for at the time when the Jews accused him of having broken the law of Sabbath-rest by his miraculous cure of a sick man, he said : The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Thus he hath authority to confer rewards or punishment upon the living, for authority so to do cannot be separated from his authority as Judge. From all this, his executive power (that is, his right to govern) is made clear, since all men must needs obey his rule, and those who disobey are subject to penalties from which there is no escape.

But, nevertheless, a kingdom such as this hath a special character, namely, that it is a spiritual kingdom, for it hath spiritual ends and purposes. The words quoted above from the Bible clearly indicate this, and the Lord Christ hath confirmed the same by his actions. On more than one occasion when the Jewsyea, when even the Apostles themselves―falsely imagined that the Messiah would presently free his people from Roman domination, and restore the Kingdom of Israel, he both dispelled and destroyed that fond hope. For he disclaimed the title of King when it was pressed upon him by the admiring multitude which thronged him ; he refused both the name and the honour by fleeing from them and concealing himself ; and he declared in the presence of the Roman Governour : My kingdom is not of this world. According to the Gospels it is a kingdom whose citizenship is prepared for by repentance, and bestowed by Baptism through faith. Although the latter is an outward rite, it doth both signify and produce an inward regeneration. Furthermore, this kingdom hath been raised up in direct opposition to the kingdom of Satan and the powers of darkness. Citizenship therein demandeth detachment from riches and worldly affairs, discipline of character, and hunger and thirst after righteousness ; and even more than this, that every citizen thereof is to deny himself, and take up his Cross. But since Christ as Redeemer hath purchased the Church with his own blood, and as Priest hath offered himself as a sacrifice for sin, which offering abideth forever, is it not evident that as King he is both our Redeemer and Priest? On the other hand, it is a wicked error to deny to Christ as Man the authority over civil affairs, since he hath from the Father such complete jurisdiction over created things that he could say : All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Therefore, by our apostolic authority, we appoint the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, which same is to be observed annually throughout the entire world, on the last Lord's day in the month of October, that is to say, on the Sunday next before All Saints Day ; and likewise we enjoin, that the dedication of the human race to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be annually renewed upon that selfsame day.

A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop

Here was a notable thing, the King of eternity had become the King of mortal men! In what way is it notable? In that Christ did not become the King of Israel to exact tribute, or to arm a body of men, or to conquer visible foes ; but rather that he might rule souls, and counsel them regarding eternity ; and that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven all such as believe in him, hope in him, and love him. In one such as he, it was condescension that he should desire to become the King of Israel. For he was the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, the Word by whom all things were made. To become such a King did not increase his power, but only betokened his mercy. For he who on earth was called the King of the Jews, in heaven was adored as Lord of the Angels. But is Christ King of the Jews only, or of the Gentiles also? Yea, of the Gentiles also. For when it was said of him in the prophetic Psalm : I have set my King upon my holy hill of Sion : lest anyone should say, on account of this word Sion, that he was appointed King of the Jews only, there is straightway added : Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Jesus answered : My kingdom is not of this world ; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews ; but now is my kingdom not from hence. This is what the good Master would have us know. But first he had to shew how vain were the notions, current among men, regarding his kingship. It matters not whence Pilate heard them, whether from Jews or Gentiles. There was the notion that Christ ought to be punished on the grounds that he was a conspirator seeking unlawfully to set himself up as a king. Or the notion that reigning monarchs are wise to be jealous of any who aspire to the throne. Such notions assumed that Christ's kingdom would be set up against the Jews or the Romans. The first question of the Governour was : Art thou the King of the Jews? To which the Lord could have answered : My Kingdom is not of this world. But instead he answered with another question : Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? For he wished to shew from Pilate's answer that the Jews had laid a criminal charge against him on these grounds. In this wise did he lay open to us the thoughts of men, that they are but vain. And after Pilate's reply, he made answer, both to the Jews and the Gentiles, and that fittingly and opportunely : My Kingdom is not of this world.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Feast of St. Michael

September 29th is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael.

From Matins of September 29th:
The Lesson is taken from the Sermons of St. Gregory the Pope

We say that there are nine orders or choirs of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four orders, where he saith : Far above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Dominion. And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith : Whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers. If, then, we add the Thrones to the four orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five orders ; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.

But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office. Those holy spirits in the heavenly fatherland are alway spirits, but they may nowise be alway called Angels. For they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist : Who makest spirits thine Angels! as if it were : Of them who are alway with him as spirits, he doth somewhiles make use as Messengers. They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels : they who go on the greater Archangels. Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth Who is like unto God? Gabriel, The Strength of God. And Raphael, The Medicine of God.

As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said : I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High, this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shewn unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John : There was a war in heaven : Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon ; and the dragon fought and his angels. Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted The Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of him who was content to appear lowly that he might fight down the powers of the air. Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth The Medicine of God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Disgrace to Catholicism

Ted Kennedy dies, a man who publicly ignored Church teaching, and he gets a grand Catholic funeral Mass, and our president who has a most un-Catholic position on many things gets to speak at the funeral while everybody assumes Ted Kennedy is in heaven. How sad. Remember purgatory exists. So does hell, by the way. God help his soul.