The liturgical seasons are once again about to change – from the Easter season to Pentecost. With each change we are reminded of the similar change in the life of Christ and of the Church. Jesus is preparing the Apostles for his Ascension into Heaven and the coming of the Holy Ghost.
Change always has an element of fear because of the unknown. Christ is removing some of this unknown for the Apostles. Our Holy Mother the Church likewise is preparing us for the unknown. We pass through the liturgical seasons year after year and this change is fairly well known so it has lost much of the unknown and therefore the fear of these changes. There is however, a change in our lives from year to year as we progress in our material lives, and more importantly in our spiritual lives.
As the Paschal season is drawing to a close the joy of Our Lord’s Resurrection is fading as we anticipate His glorious Ascension into Heaven. This loss of Christ’s visible human presence is not a little disconcerting, but it is necessary for the Apostles as well as us. We are to follow in a broad sense in our spiritual lives the development of the Apostles. We began with Advent and the longing for the Savior. This longing and desire came to fulfillment in the Birth of Our Lord. We are born in sin and fall miserably daily but, through baptism we receive the Christ Child into our lives. As we approach the Epiphany our Faith brings the revelation of Christ more clearly into focus and joy fills our hearts as we make these small steps increasing our joy and more importantly our love for God. We are then reminded of the loss of the Christ Child in the Temple, as we are allowed to fall and Christ begins in this early stage to strengthen us through hardships. He is not away long and then we find Him again to strengthen and renew our Love, Faith and Joy.
Then we approach the Lenten season and are shown the pain and suffering that we have caused Jesus because of His profound love of us. We see His suffering and then our focus is upon our sins, faults, and failings that were the very cause of His sufferings. We follow Him to Calvary in the spirit of penance and mortification, repenting and confessing our sins, and shedding tears of contrition. Then we experience the joy of having our sins forgiven as our Holy Mother Church speaks to us of the Resurrection.
Now once again Jesus is going to hide Himself from us. He is about to ascend into Heaven. We begin to feel this loss already even before He is gone. He has given us Himself in the Holy Eucharist and He has promised us the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have experienced sin and forgiveness several times and hopefully have learned from each fall and made good use of the evil by learning humility and a distrust of ourselves, and a greater and greater love for God should be filling our hearts. We are in a way being weaned from the spiritual milk and soft food and are beginning to take more solid spiritual food.
We fear this progress and are eager to hold on to the pleasures of childhood we have known; and fear the difficulties that spiritual maturity will bring. But our Faith promises us that God is with us, He will not ever give us more than we can handle. As He said to St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
As we approach Pentecost we make the spiritual transition from adolescence into adulthood. When the Holy Ghost comes to us in the sacrament of Confirmation, we leave many of the easy joys and consolations of our youth, the immature love of childhood transforms step by step into more mature love of spiritual adulthood. The fears of hardships and difficulties fade away as the grace of Charity fills us more and more. With the grace of God we are able to accept, embrace, and even love the crosses of this life. With this maturity we are inspired to follow Our Lord to Calvary and even shed our blood with His. Suffering, sacrifice and even death loses its sting as the God of Love fills our hearts more and more.
This God of love has convinced this world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. As we are filled with this Holy Ghost we too see more and more clearly the sins of this world and resolve to turn away from this world of sin. We see the justice in all that God does, in the crosses, suffering and misery in this world, as well as the apparent success of evil. We judge this evil world and the devils that guide and lead so many of this world on their way to Hell. We see the temporary success of the evil in this world knowing that these poor people only seek material success at the expense of spiritual success. God is just and is good – He gives them what they desire here and now; but there is Hell to pay for it. They do not love Him or wish to be with Him so they will forever be separated from Him.
May this cycle of the liturgical seasons spur us onward in our spiritual growth and progress so that we mature and develop our love for God. We must never fear to take the next spiritual step but with Faith and Hope grow in Charity from day to day and season to season.
Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at Holywell Parish Church at 1130am tomorrow.
Our Lord tells His apostles that they shall lament and weep. And so must we all. Since sin entered into this world, it has become a vale of tears.
Far from this being a curse or a punishment it is in reality a great blessing. If the damned could shed a single penitential tear they could entertain hope.
Tears that flow from a contrite heart have a wonderful virtue _ they cleanse from the stain of sin. Tears that have their source in the perfect love of God cleanse the conscience from all stains of sin, be they ever so grievous and numerous. St. Peter who had sinned in denying Christ bitterly bewailed his fall, wherefore Pope Leo the Great says: "Blessed by thy tears, holy Peter, which had the virtue of baptism for the washing away of the guilt of thy denial." St. Mary Magdalen, who wept at the feet of Christ and wiped them with her hair, heard these words from Christ: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much." The shedding of tears is not a sacrament, but it surpasses in some respect the Sacrament of Baptism inasmuch as it can be repeated, while this is not possible with the sacramental rite. St. Augustine calls penitential tears a salutary bath, which cleanses the human heart as often as it needs cleansing.
Penitential tears are like martyrdom. Martyrdom, as well as baptism, leads to heaven, and it is even a substitute for baptism with water. The unbaptized who give their life for Christ can be saved, so Christ assures us in plain words: "He that shall lose his life for me shall find it." (Matt. 10:39) Not all are called to the palm of martyrdom; it is not granted to all to shed their blood for Christ; but all can shed tears, all can truly repent of their sins and cleanse their soul from the filth of sin. As we wash our face as soon as we see any filth on it, so let us not delay to wash our heart with penitential tears, if we have defiled it by a sin. These tears must be truly penitential, not merely flowing from the eyes, but tears which have their source in a true, supernatural repentance.
David washed his couch every night with his penitential tears. St. Chrysostom says: "Tears like David's quench even the fire of Hell."
Christ says: "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." (Matt. 5:5) By those that mourn, we must understand those who mourn for their sins, and are sorry for having offended God, their greatest benefactor and most kind father. St. Augustine says: "Nothing is nearer to misery than a tear, and nothing more remote from misery than happiness. And yet it is said: `Blessed are they that mourn.' How then can they that mourn be blessed? Only in respect to the promise of Christ that they shall be comforted in heaven. As soon as God sees that a sinner repents of his sins and bewails them, He turns to him full of love and mercy, and assures him of forgiveness, grace and heaven."
St. Chrysostom says: "If before a human court, after the sentence is passed, you weep and lament, you will not by your weeping change the sentence, but before the divine tribunal you will change the sentence, if from your heart you cry for mercy."
Heaven is not given to all , but only to those who labor for it, according to the words of Christ: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away." (Matt. 11:12) The violent are the just, who take care not to fall into mortal sin, but constantly strive to lead a virtuous life; and sinners who having had the misfortune to fall into grievous sins endeavor to rise again and to wash away their sins with penitential tears. These, like the just will bear away heaven, because, like them, they use violence.
Let us follow the admonition of Almighty God: "Be converted to Me with all your heart in fasting, in weeping and in mourning." (Joel 2: 12) Let us bewail our sins, not only apparently, but truly, from the bottom of our heart, with contrition and sorrow for all our sins, for the sake of God, whom we have grievously offended, and whose love and grave we have lost with the firm purpose of never more offending Him; also let us make a good confession and conceal nothing out of fear or shame that we know to be sin. These are the tears which remove the filth of our sins, extinguish the fire of hell, and carry us to heaven.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd by nature, but others are called to be good shepherds by grace. The popes, bishops, and priests are shepherds of our souls, but not all of them are good shepherds, many of them have proven to be hirelings, or even thieves and robbers. These shepherds of our souls can only be "good" by the grace of God. They have a fallen nature just like all of us; and it is only with the help of God's grace that they can become good and worthy ministers of God's grace.
Our fallen nature rebels against self-sacrifice and even more so, against the idea of giving our lives for another. It is only through grace that we are able to love perfectly and purely. Only through grace can one be made ready to die for Christ, or for the salvation of those who belong to Christ. Only with the grace of God can we properly value both material and spiritual things. There is a hierarchy of values that can only be properly seen and appreciated by those who have received this grace from God.
It is not a noble thing to exchange something of higher value for something of lower value, or to exchange things of equal value. Every materialist (economist) understands that the goal is to exchange things of lesser value in order to obtain things of greater value. The laborer values his earnings more than he values his time and labor, and so he makes the sacrifice of his time and labor to obtain his earnings. The demons, who are ever eager to corrupt or destroy us, are constantly working to influence us to place false values upon everything. They love to see us place a greater value on material things than upon spiritual ones. We are all too ready to esteem the body above the soul.
We are familiar with the dilemma of so many women in our society today. They must place a value upon the life of a baby in their womb; and a value upon the convenience (pleasure, reputation, etc.) of their own lives. In comparing the relative values of these two, many are led to put very little value upon the life of the pre-born baby; and so the life of the child is sacrificed for the pleasure or convenience of the "mother."
It is only with the grace of God that we are able to properly value all things. Our pastors must ever strive to obtain/keep this grace alive in their souls. It is true that God can and does make use of hirelings, but He can do much more for us if we have good shepherds guiding us, rather than the hirelings. It is, therefore, in our own best interest to pray, and make sacrifices so that our shepherds will be good shepherds and not hirelings; or even worse: thieves and robbers.
The Church often seeks out men from the Religious orders, who have already made the sacrifice of material things, in the pursuit of spiritual things, to be shepherds of Her children. Religious, by their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, have set material things in lower estimation and spiritual things in greater esteem. Yet, the world and the devils never cease to tempt these souls away from these noble and true values. It is only by the grace of God that they can live up to the goals before them. Grace is given to us through the sacraments and prayers. It is so necessary for us to pray for our pastors, that God has even made it a command. The fourth Commandment insists that we not only obey our parents, but love, assist, and pray for them also. Our pastors fall into this category of parents.
In addition to this, we must become true shepherds of our own souls. We must learn to place a higher value upon those things that God places higher value upon. We must love living things more than non-living things; we must love our bodies more than material things; we must love our souls more than our bodies; etc. Ultimately, we must love God more than anything else, even ourselves; we must even love Him more than everything else combined. It would be foolish to loose God, even if we were to gain the whole world.
May we each become good shepherds through God's grace and learn the true value of all things. Only in this way can we love God as we ought to love Him. The two greatest commandments can only be kept by good shepherds. Love God with our whole being, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The sacrifice is asked of us every day. Do we love God more than we love ourselves? Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? Are we willing to sacrifice things of lesser value to obtain things of greater value? Will we sacrifice the physical life for the benefit of the spiritual life?
We don't expect our pastors to lay down their physical lives for the physical lives of others (this would not be a true valuation of lives), but we do desire that our pastors should be ready, willing, and able to lay down their physical lives, for the benefit of our souls. We desire this in the lives of our pastors, and we must likewise ever strive to be the same good shepherds to ourselves. We cannot be this naturally, so we must ever beg of God that we and our pastors be this through His Grace.
The newsletter for Ss Peter & Paul and St Philomena, New Brighton (ICKSP) for this Sunday can be viewed here,
The Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample Archbishop of Portland in Oregon will be the celebrant of the pontifical Solemn Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite commemorating the 10th anniversary of the issue by Pope Benedict XVI of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum to be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C. on Saturday 28th April.
The Mass will be broadcast on EWTN. 1pm EDT and therefore 6pm here in the UK.
Mass for Low Sunday will be celebrated according to the Missal of 1962 at
St Francis of Assisi
Near Wrexham, LL12 0NT.
Tomorrow at 12.30pm
Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. It was she that was the one to bear this great news to the apostles. Mary’s heart was filled with sadness at the loss of the One she loved so greatly. It was therefore most fitting that God rewards her with resplendent joy. The apostles on the other hand were busy in a kind of war, if you will, with the Jews. They were locked away in hiding for fear of the Jews. Therefore, it is fitting that the first words and first gifts of Jesus to them were: “Peace be to you.”
God has a way of giving us exactly what we need when we need it. All too often we grow weary and/or despair of God’s graces. Every difficulty that God wills or permits to enter into our lives is truly a preparation for the great grace that He wishes to give us when He lifts this burden from us. It is therefore necessary that we persevere in the dark and difficult times of our lives so that we may receive greater graces and blessings latter on.
Mary persevered in her sorrow and in her love of Jesus and was rewarded to be the first to see Him (even though she was not permitted to touch Him). The apostles persevered in prayer and in not betraying Jesus for a fleeting peace with the Jews. Both were rewarded, the one with joy and the other with peace. When Jesus appeared to the apostles He no longer forbid men to touch Him, but rather invited them to touch Him and see that He is real. I am reminded of this how the Sacred Body of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is not to be touched by any except His priests. This is something that the Modernists have done away with. They must either, not believe that the Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, or else they believe that so many laity have reached a high level of holiness that they are now all worthy to touch Him, or are all now “priests.” (If they are all priests now perhaps they are the Protestant “priesthood of the faithful”) Either they deny transubstantiation or they deny the need for the anointing and consecrating of the hands of the priest so that he may handle the most Precious Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was not to the women or anyone else, but only to the apostles that Jesus breathed upon (imparting the Holy Ghost) and gave the power to forgive sins. “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven …” In the same manner it was only to the apostles after the Last Supper that Jesus commissioned to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. We must always remember that there are different offices and gifts imparted by God to the various members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Not everyone is called to be His priests. It is not the priest that chooses God, but rather it is God that chooses His priests. In like manner the true faith is not something that we give to ourselves, but is rather a gift (grace) from God. Too often many are led to a heretical “rationalist” mode of thinking. In this condemned rationalism they think that if they present the right arguments and can show the rational logic of a truth of the Church and the Faith, then they can “make” themselves believe the truth. It is not so. Faith is a grace of God given when and where He wills. Conversions are not so much a matter of presenting the best argument in favor of the Faith, as it is a matter of cooperating with the grace of God. Believing not because we understand, but because God has said it is so. St. Thomas believed because he saw and understood. It is not faith on his part that he believes that Jesus really rose from the dead. This he saw and knew. His belief, is that Jesus in His humanity is truly God. This is borne out in his saying: “My Lord and My God.”
When God calls some to His priesthood and not others, we must not conclude that there is an injustice in this, but rather that He has chosen the best for His particular purposes. It is not a matter for debate. It is what it is, simply because God has made it that way. No one is cheated in any way. Each receives the graces that are necessary for himself or for God’s purposes. If we are each to make correct use of the particular graces that God has given to us we must focus upon that which He has given us, and not what He has given to others.
One grace is given to one but not another, just as joy is given to some and peace to others. Some are called upon to be heads and others to be hands or feet. Everyone must believe that God knows what He is doing and it is always the best. The True Faith demands of us that we believe all that God has revealed to us through The Church. (Who is the guardian and interpreter of both sources of His revelation – Scripture and Tradition.) We believe not because we understand or even have heard of all that has been revealed. We must believe all that Holy Mother Church sets forth for us simply because God the Holy Ghost speaks through Her – God has said it is so and therefore we must believe. And even though we must believe, faith is not something that we can give ourselves but is truly God’s gift to us.
Let us pray then, for the gift of faith or continuance and perseverance in grace. In this manner we may grow stronger as we cooperate with the graces that we already have. Our faithful cooperation with the graces and station of life God has given us will merit for us the Beatific Vision and understanding so that faith will no longer be necessary – we will see and know just as we are seen and known by God.
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.