the Fourth Saturday of Lent
Saturday 1st April 2017
Our Lady of the Rosary
(Sunday I of Passiontide)
Sunday 2nd April 2017
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
* The Mass at Llay will be on the first Sunday not the usual second Sunday for April
Mass for the IV Sunday of Lent - 26th March
St Winefride's Catholic Church
Well Street, Holywell, Flinstshire, Wales CH8 7PL
All very welcome
In today's Gospel we see our Lord feeding the multitude with just a couple of fishes and five loaves. In this we see the beneficence of God. His rain falls upon the just and the unjust alike. He gives good things to the good and the wicked alike.
Of all the Israelites that crossed the sea on dry land and that ate the manna from heaven, with most of them God was not pleased. God was good to them but they would not love Him.
One of the most sorrowful things that St. Francis suffered was the thought that God (who is Love Itself) is not loved. There are only a few who can truly say that they love God. The majority does not love Him and is headed to Hell.
St. Paul in today's Epistle divides people into two types. Abraham had two sons. One by a slave woman and the other by a free woman.
The children of the slave woman far outnumber the children of the free woman. "... for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband."
The spiritual descendants of Ishmael far outnumber the spiritual descendants of Isaac. The world and the worldly people far outnumber heaven and the saints. But, God feeds and provides for everyone, even those who hate Him.
Thus on judgment day no one will have an excuse for not loving God. He has given them nothing but good. He has fed them and sheltered them, He has offered them guidance and forgiveness throughout their lives, but they would not love Him.
Let us no longer be shocked at the number of those outside the Church, or the fewness of the elect. It is sad but it is an obvious reality that is clearly seen by anyone with eyes to see. And in confirmation of our own observations there are countless scriptural texts that point out to us that the majority will be lost.
The clearer our vision and understanding become of the spiritual reality in the world around us today, the more alone we must feel. But, we are never alone as long as we are with God. The world may be against us and even our own families and "friends", but this is the price that we must pay if we wish to be free children of God. We must love God with a love of preference _ so much so that we will hate even our own father, mother, brother, sister, etc. and even our own selves rather than turn away from God.
As we look out upon the evils in our world today we are shocked and wonder why God does not put an end to all this. Why does He not destroy all this evil as He did in the time of Noah, or as He did to Sodom and Gomorra? What is holding back the hand of God?
God permits man the use (abuse) of his free will as long as he lives here on earth, but in eternity justice will be done and irrevocably fixed for ever. But, one might argue that God did punish the people in the Old Testament many times and most severely, why not now? Many are being punished and punished severely. Whole countries are in chaos and destruction with worldly people fighting against each other for whatever worldly gain they can get.
But, the physical destruction is not world wide, yet. The hand of God is being held back, and we must ask what is it that is holding His hand back?
God's mercy is being given us on behalf of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament there were only animal and vegetable sacrifices to appease the wrath of God. Since Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross we have the daily Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass. In this unbloody sacrifice the wrath of God is appeased for just a little while longer. Christ continues to multiply food for the multitude even though the majority is not worthy.
It is for the sake of the elect (The spiritual descendents of Isaac - children of freedom who are free from the moral stains of the sins of the world) that the damned (The spiritual descendents of Ishmael - children of slavery who are slaves to evil and sin.) are permitted to live and are not punished immediately.
It seems clear enough that when the last true Mass is offered, God's mercy will be at an end and then will come justice. Let us make use of the time which is left to us to obtain God's mercy and draw ourselves to an ever increasing love of Him, even if it means that we are at odds with the rest of the world.
“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Lk. 11: 23
We are reminded by the Church in today’s Epistle (Ephesians 5:1-9) and Gospel (Luke 11:14-28) of the need to choose Christ and not evil. Nowadays, we see how many people compromise the teachings of the Church for their own convenience and suffer tragic consequences. Msgr. Patrick Boylan comments on widespread sinfulness of our time: “On all sides one hears the voices raised against every attempt to check the growth of profligacy, every effort to restrict evil amusements and evil literature. We hear constantly of the ‘sacred rights,’ of freedom—freedom, that is, to disregard the moral code, to follow the blind guidance of passion, to satisfy every form of curiosity, to see everything, to read everything. Popular literature is full of the ‘empty words’ with which all that is seductive to sense is represented as innocent because it is ‘natural, ‘ or ‘healthy,’ or because it ‘develops the personality!’” (The Sunday Epistles and Gospels, p. 191) To counteract this spirit of the world, which Msgr. Boylan points out to us, St. Paul warns us of the dangers of worldliness: “Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.” Eph. 5:6 In the gospel, Jesus is even more emphatic as He condemns the leaders of the Jews for allying themselves with Satan. “He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Lk. 11:23 Those who are with Christ are in the light; those who choose sin and evil are children of darkness and Satan.
“Walk, then, as children of light.” Eph. 5:8
In today’s Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds his converts to live according to the light of Christ. Hitherto, they were in the darkness of uncleanness and sin. Now they are to be imitators of Christ who sacrificed Himself for them and is a sweet odour to God: “...walk in love, as Christ also loved us and delivered himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God to ascend in fragrant odour.” Eph. 5:2 St. Paul warns the Ephesians about immorality and uncleanness: “But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becomes saints: or obscenity, or foolish talk or scurrility, which are out of place;” Eph. 5:3-4 Those who choose these sins will have no place with Christ: “For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatry) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Eph. 5:5 Although St. Paul does not mention the devil by name, it is easy to see that those who choose evil are with the devil and not with Christ.
In today’s gospel from St. Luke, Jesus casts out the devil from a man who was dumb; St. Matthew has the man both blind and dumb. “The Fathers, joining the two, make this man into one of the unhappy beings one could imagine, blind, dumb and possessed by Satan.... Spiritually, this man represents the soul in sin. He who might have been a son of God is now possessed by the devil; blind to the light of truth and dumb so far as singing the praises of God is concerned.” (The Preacher’s Encyclopaedia: Lent and Eastertide, p. 121) Those who do not believe in Jesus and accuse him of casting out the devil because He is a devil are themselves of the kingdom of the devil. After the miracle, some of those present (the Pharisees in St. Matthew’s gospel) said: “By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he casts out devils.” Lk. 11:15 Jesus reads their thoughts and shows them the unreasonableness of these words: “... Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house. If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand.” Lk. 11: 17-8 Jesus then goes on to tell them the parable of the strong man: “But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon and will divide his spoils.” Lk. 11:20-22 This stronger man is Jesus Christ who has come to conquer the kingdom of Satan and all his followers. Those who believe in Christ belong to His kingdom; those who do not believe in Jesus and deny His miraculous power belong to the kingdom of Satan.
Returning to Mortal Sin
Very few souls realize the dire consequences of returning to one’s sins after the devil has been expelled either by an exorcism or a good confession: “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left.’ And when he has come to it, he finds the place swept. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Lk. 11:24-26 Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 5, comments on this passage: “But the enemy of mankind never despairs of regaining his prey. His hatred is as active now as it was in the very beginning of the world, and he says, ‘I will return into my house, whence I came out.’ Nor will he come alone. He is determined to conquer; and therefore, he will if he thinks it needed, take with him seven other spirits, even more wicked than himself. What a terrible assault is being prepared for the poor soul, unless she be on the watch, and unless the peace, which has granted her, be one that is well armed for war! Alas! With many souls the very contrary is the case; and our Saviour describes the situation in which the devil finds them on his return: they are swept and garnished, and that is all! No precautions, no defence, no arms. One would suppose that they were waiting to give the enemy admission. Then Satan, to make his repossession sure, comes with a sevenfold force. The attack is made; but there is no resistance, and straightways the wicked spirits entering in, dwell there; so that the last state becometh worse than the first; for before there was but one enemy and now there are many.” Gueranger, p. 251
The Kingdom of God
Those who believe in Jesus cry out in praise of Jesus like the woman who praises the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that nursed thee.” Lk. 11 27 Jesus shows that this is true of His Mother especially because she is obedient: “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” Lk. 11:28 Those who believe in God and keep His commandments belong to His kingdom. These believers will enter His kingdom as they gather graces for eternal life by their faithful obedience.
Sin against the Holy Spirit
In St. Matthew’s gospel account of the miracle of casting out the devil from the blind and dumb man, Jesus says: “Therefore I say to you, that every kind of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” Mt. 12:31 This is the sin by which a person refuses to acknowledge his sin, and, therefore, will not be forgiven. This is what the Pharisees do in today’s gospel. They blaspheme by saying, “By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he casts out devils.” Lk. 11:15 They refuse to see the good that Jesus does and accuse Him of evil. If they had acknowledged Jesus’ miracle, they too would have been cured like the dumb man. St. Jerome tells us: “Three miracles in one man; the blind sees, the dumb speaks and the possessed finds himself free of the devil a thing which also happens in the case of those who begin to believe and who, once the devil has been cast out, receive the light and the faith opening their lips in the praises of God.”
Sins against the Holy Spirit
Other sins against the Holy Spirit are: 1. Presumption, 2. Despair, 3. Resisting the known truth, 4. Envy of another’s spiritual good, 5. Obstinacy in sin, 6. Final impenitence. (The Penny Catechism, p. 54) Those who are guilty of these sins have hardened their hearts against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and refuse to see their sins because of their pride. This is the reprobate sense that St. Paul speaks of in the Epistle to the Romans: “And as they have resolved against possessing the knowledge of God, God has given them up to a reprobate sense, so that they do what is not fitting, being filled with all iniquity, malice, immorality, avarice, wickedness; being full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity; being whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, irreverent, proud, haughty, plotters of evil; disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.” Rom. 1: 28-32 This final state of reprobate sinner is a state that will take a miracle of grace to overcome. This is why Our Lady said at Fatima, “Many souls go to hell because no one prays and sacrifices for them.” Let us pray our rosary every day and sacrifice so that many sinners can be saved.
Holy Mass for the Second Sunday of Lent
(in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Llay Chain, Near Wrexham, LL12 0NT
Sunday 12th March 2017 at 12.30pm
Last Sunday we saw Our Lord being tempted by the devil. We were reminded that our life here and now is a battle between good and evil. We were encouraged to bravely enter into this struggle relying upon God our heavenly Father, knowing that we have nothing to fear when God is with us.
Today we are shown the opposite side of this struggle – victory and glory. Jesus revealed to a few of His apostles His true honour and glory. Jesus in His glory is a most wonderful and beautiful thing to see. It was so wondrous that St. Peter desired to set up tents so that they could remain there longer.
What is necessary for us to find and keep this glorious joy?
Christ tells us: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God”. Not everyone gets to see God in His glory. There are many that will see God but it will not be a wondrous and beautiful vision. To the damned, rather than see a wonderful and generous Father, they will see a severe and just judge meting out their eternal punishment.
If we choose to follow Jesus now along the path of Calvary by taking up our crosses daily and following Him, then we can have reasonable hope of one day seeing Him in this glorious manner. If we refuse to follow Him now with the cross, but seek only joy and pleasure here and now we can only hope to see a just and severe Judge in eternity. The choice is truly our own.
St. Paul tells us in today’s Epistle: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of these things, as we have told you before and have testified.”
A well ordered life is the key to finding this happiness and joy of the beatific vision. A disordered life is the key to finding the avenging God.
God wants to receive us as a loving Father; “His will is our sanctification”. The choice is truly our own. God does not force anyone to obey Him. (Forced obedience is not real obedience.) God does not force anyone to love Him. (Forced love is not real love.) God and the Church offer us every reason and incentive to love and obey God, but the choice is always left up to us.
Our Lord manifested Himself in all His glory so that we would be drawn to Him. This heavenly vision was not just for the few Apostles that went with Him up the Mountain; it was to be revealed by them after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. These apostles were to reveal this for the other apostles and the first members of the Church and for us -- the Church today. We are given the knowledge of this so that we would be enticed to live a good life; that we too may one day enjoy this heavenly vision.
The devils, and the world incite our passions to draw us away from God in the hopes of finding happiness here and now. This evil goal necessarily leads us to forget about God, because when we think of God we must necessarily see His displeasure in our evil will. The thought of a punishing God and eternal damnation will strike fear in our souls and deter us from such evil.
The fear of punishment is an imperfect reason for abstaining from evil; the love of God is a perfect reason to abstain from evil. This transfiguration of Jesus is meant to draw from us a perfect love for God and in this state it necessarily follows that we will avoid all that displeases the One whom we love.
It is this love of God that is the cure for the countless sins of our society against chastity and purity as it is for all evils. Let us think of God’s beauty and glory and strive to develop an ever increasing desire and love for Him.
Holy Mass for the Second Sunday of Lent
(in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite)
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Llay Chain, Near Wrexham, LL12 0NT
Sunday 12th March 2017 at 12.30pm
After Jesus was baptized by St. John, we see that He was led into the desert by the Holy Ghost to be tempted. Many times after we have received the sacraments and are filled with grace, we are assailed by temptations. In these instances, we may begin to question the graces that we received, or our own worthiness for these graces. These are also temptations that are intended to get us to turn away from the path of virtue, that we have entered upon.
It is very logical to have to suffer this assault. The devils have felt the grace of God entering our souls and they do not want Him to take us from their grasp. They then pull out all the stops to get us back into their hands and back on the path to eternal destruction. But, why does the Holy Ghost lead us into this? St. John Chrysostom suggests to us a few reasons. In Baptism, we have renounced the devils and all their allurements. These temptations serve to prove to the devils that we have truly renounced them. By our victory over them, we become ever more strengthened in our faith and the graces that we have received. We are humbled by our weaknesses which cause us to turn with greater fervor in pleading with God for His help. The devils are humiliated by being overcome by us.
If Jesus Christ was not beyond the temptations of the devils, we should in no way ever think that we should be free from them. There is a spiritual warfare going on for our souls, and we must fight if we wish to save them. If we never experience temptations, it should truly serve as a warning sign to us. The devils have no need to tempt those who are already securely on the path to their own destruction. In the sacraments, we have received the weapons to defend ourselves in this warfare. There would be no need for weapons or a defense if we were never to be attacked. "We have not received arms to stand at ease, but to fight." (St. John Chrysostom)
God also wishes to show us how much stronger we are now than we were before, but at the same time teach us that we must be prudent. While God knows how much we can endure and will not lead us into temptation that is beyond our own capacity to resist; we do not have that understanding and discretion. We must therefore never be so proud or bold so as to enter into temptation of ourselves. Such pride is certain to bring about our downfall. In leaning upon Christ we can do all things, but of ourselves we can do nothing.
We also learn through temptations of just how precious the graces we have received are. The greater the battle the more precious must be the object that is being fought over. The devils see and understand much more clearly than we do what a precious gift grace is; and it is for this reason that they pull out all the stops in tempting us away from it.
This Lenten Season we are called to do penance; and we are invited to examine our lives and conduct and renew our Baptismal promises. The stronger our resolutions are to live a life of grace, the more that we can expect to be assailed with temptations. This is the season for us to put forth our best efforts in the fight. To strengthen our souls for this struggle, we need to subdue our rebellious flesh. We do this simply through fasting and mortification. Some of the devils can only be overcome by prayer and fasting.
We are composite creatures with a body and a soul. The devils seek to destroy our souls, but they use our weaker side (the body) to focus the brunt of their assault upon. In our Lenten penances we train our bodies not to seek what is pleasurable to the body, but rather to obey the soul. While all that God has given us is good, many things are not expedient for us. Food is good for our bodies; but when our bodies become gluttonous and overindulge, the same food that is good and nourishing becomes harmful and destructive to us. We must therefore understand that everything is good when it is used properly according to the right reason of the soul; or more specifically, when it is used according to the Will of God. The devils assault our bodies by showing them the pleasure and goodness in the things God has given us and suggest that these things should be sought after and obtained at all cost — even in rebellion against God's Will and the right order of reason. We can fight against these temptations by training our bodies to obey our souls as we obey God. This training is best accomplished by the denial of legitimate pleasures to the body. It is no real sacrifice to deny ourselves that which is forbidden or unlawful. True sacrifice and training take place when we mortify ourselves even in that which is allowed. This is the surest way for us to come out victorious in the war for the very life of our souls.
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui facis mirabilia magna solus: praetende super famulos tuos, et super congregationes illis commissas, spiritum gratiae salutaris; et, ut in veritate tibi complaceant, perpetuum eis rorem tuae benedictionis infunde.
Kevin Jones is the local representative for the Latin Mass Society in Wrexham Diocese. Any views expressed neither represent those of the Latin Mass Society or the Diocese of Wrexham.