Sunday, 29 August 2021

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Agents of chaos and the choice of two masters.

    “No man serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The serving of two masters is no modern phenomena, as the text of today’s Gospel proves. Christ’s warning about this is now almost two millennia old, and yet it continues to be a warning still as unheeded today as it was during the time He walked on earth. In recent times, the warning has been watered down in its application, so that the catechesis which is now given on the passage bears little to no correlation to the import it had in days of greater adherence to tradition. 

    How can such a claim be made? Sadly, the claim is not a wild one by any means, but borne out of simple observation of the Church, and some of Her members, in the last number of decades. The spirit of revolution promoted at Vatican II, pioneered by enemies of the faith and spread by many thereafter, either wilfully or unwittingly, is precisely that which Christ warns against in this Gospel passage. 

 

   In the face of a world in crisis, moral decline, and the rise of multitudinous religious beliefs, agents of change within the Church have managed to propose the agenda of dialogue, of accompaniment, and agiornamento. They have steered the Church away from the firm, uncompromising proclamation of the faith of ages, the faith entrusted to Her by Christ, and into a murky path of “encounter.” Doctrine has been deemed too harsh and supposedly with the potential for preventing converts, and so the Catholic faith has been rapidly diluted by those opposed to it, all in the name of bringing others to God. 

 

   One such example is of the fifty bishops, who petitioned that the Second Vatican Council proclaim Mary as Co-Redemptrix, only to be told that this would not happen. Despite such a title being consistently taught by the Church, the agents of the Council decreed that proclaiming Mary to be Co-Redemptrix could “be understood with difficulty by separated brethren.” These men were thus forcing the Church into that impossible scenario of seeming to serve both God and the world. 

 

   Numerous academic accounts have recorded the manner in which these agents of chaos ruptured the continuity of the faith during that time, building upon the centuries-old groundwork which began with the Protestant revolt. 

 

   Indeed, the spirit which has spread throughout the Church in the wake of Vatican II has been precisely that which is condemned in the Gospel for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. The modernists purport to serve two masters simultaneously: God, and – due to the endless compromises made with it – the world. Yet, the proponents of this error hold that such a process is really for the good of the Church, for the furthering of the Catholic faith and the union of all. 


    The process of “dialogue” is so that “all may be one” they say, appealing to Scripture. How often is that phrase used, “that all may be one” in order to defend the ecumenical efforts made by the modern Church, which serve only to undermine the pure faith of ages, by making concessions to other and false religions. 


    These agents of chaos, in almost satanic manner, corrupt the words of Sacred Scripture to support their own anti-Catholic aims, for the passage which they quote, is not complete. John 17:21, from which their phrase is drawn, does not describe some undefined union, but rather a union of all in God, in the union of the Holy Trinity, something which can only be found by the proclamation of the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church. This, of course, is not something which the agents of chaos – the modernists – will mention, for they are determined in their public pursuit of defying the words of Christ and attempting to pursue two masters.

 

   However, Christ also teaches thus: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30) The enemies of Tradition and of the faith are well aware of their true purpose, which is not to eventually bring souls to God, but rather to drive souls away from Him. While their actions appear to be in defiance of the principle that one cannot serve two masters, in reality such actions are a clear example of how true Christ’s words are, for the agents of chaos serve ultimately only one master – he who was driven out of the heavenly kingdom by St. Michael and a host of angels. 

 

   “No man serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Such men have chosen the path of hatred of Christ, and love of sin, of standing by death and not by Life. These souls, found disturbingly often amongst the ranks of the clergy, have sought first the joys of the world, the promises of riches, the allurement of power, the temptation of laxity, and rejected the invitation of Christ to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice.”

  

  The Church of modernity, the “deep church” driven by these satanic agents of chaos, promotes a life of ease, without moral absolutes, without dogmatic principles, without pursuing the life of grace. It promotes “heresy, sodomy, and corruption,” those sins which are borne out of a complete rejection of the call to the Cross, and which flow from a focus on oneself and earthly pleasures.

   

    How then ought the Church to respond, and how is it that faithful souls are to continue in the face of such attack on God, His Church and His Word, even by those who profess to be the guardians of the faith? 

 

   The answer is to follow the teachings of Christ, as exemplified by His saints throughout the ages, and to reject the advances made by the agents of chaos in the name of “dialogue…accompaniment…encounter…growth.” 

    

    After issuing his warning against the serving of two masters, Christ lays out the path which faithful souls are to take: “Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing?”

    

    The world, the modern clerics and even the church of modernity, mocks souls who heed these words of Christ. They ridicule those who choose one Master only. Yet there is only one simple choice which can be made after reading the Scriptural passages: serve God wholeheartedly, or serve oneself and the devil wholeheartedly.

    

    A life given completely to the service of God, the master who sent His only Son to earth to die for our sins, is one which has the support not of fallible men or of lying demons, but of the Almighty, all-good God Himself: “Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of those. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ - for after all these things the Gentiles seek; - for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.”

    

    As the satanic forces of the world rage ever more furiously today, many members of the church of modernity redouble their efforts to convince us that it is indeed possible to serve two masters. They urge souls to bow to unlawful, immoral dictates, and to do so out of “charity.” They order people to reject the moral teaching of the Church, to reject the counsel of the saints, and instead to join in the near global promotion of sin, in order that the Church might continue to work, and thus purportedly to lead souls to God. 

    

    Such words must be seen for what they are - lies. Those who attempt to encourage moral depravity, in the supposed hope that “once we are all on board, we can carry on as before,” have chose their master, and it is not the almighty God. These words of course apply principally to those who urge faithful adherence to the current satanic rejection of the Divine order, as seen in the recent global restrictions, and the promotion of connection to abortion through the novel gene-therapy injections, which are promoted by many clergy as a way to “get us back to where we were before, so that we can all come together and worship safely once more.” 

    

    This argument attempts to combine the serving of God and the devil, but can only result in joining the service of one.

    

    Therefore, as persecution grows against those faithful souls who follow the words of Christ, who choose to follow Him ONLY, instead of trying to merge the Catholic faith with selfish, or satanic pursuits, let us take heart from the consoling words of Christ. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious.” 

    

    He entrusts these words to those that seek to follow Him in a selfless dedication, made in imitation of His sacrifice on the Cross. No matter the raging of the agents of satan, no matter the fury, the persecution which they may enact, their senseless actions can have no victory over that of the Cross. Their evil ways are doomed to failure, their wiles and cunning will lead to no glory, and their service to sin will lead only to death. 

    “The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Taste and see how good the Lord is.”

Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Immaculate Heart of Mary: A life of mediation


    Today’s date marks the octave of the Assumption, the traditional feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a feast moved to earlier in the year in the modern calendar and lowered to an optional memorial. It is a shame for the feasts of the Assumption and the Immaculate Heart to have been thus divorced from each other in modern times, as the traditional date allows the Church more time to dwell on the glories of Mary, the wonders of the Assumption, and the role which she now plays in her celestial throne. 

    Dom Gueranger writes on this point in his commentary for the Octave day of the Assumption: “the immensity of grace and merit, whereby the Blessed Virgin’s supernatural perfection stands quite apart from all others, gives us a right to conclude that she has an equal supereminence in glory, which is always proportioned to the sanctity of the elect.” Indeed, the glories of her Assumption into heaven are matched only by the continuous act of love whereby she makes intercession for her children here below, from the tenderness of her Immaculate Heart. 

    “Mary desires nothing in heaven, and has nothing to desire,” writes St. Alphonsus. No other creature could be, or is, more closely united with God than she is. Having been assumed into the heavenly glory, the communion of hearts spills out as the outpouring of graces upon those desirous of following Christ. For the love which the Immaculate Heart has first and foremost for God, has a secondary element, namely that all those on earth respond to the divine call, and heed the will of God. 

    Mary desires that all come to love and imitate her Son, just as she loved and accompanied Him during His salvific mission of redemption. It is the natural response of her heart, for since she is so filled with the love of God, she cannot but will that all come to love Him as she does. 

    Having this feast after the Assumption therefore highlights this element of Mary’s work of mediation, for the saints and theologians teach that being “even nearer to God, she better knows our miseries, and her pity for us is greater while she is better able to help us.” 

    “Let us not fear that, amidst the great interests of the spreading of God’s Kingdom, she will forget our littleness or our miseries,” encourages Dom Gueranger. “She knows all that takes place in the obscurest corners, in the furthest limits of her immense domain…On the other hand, we must believe that her charity could not possibly be defective: as her love of God surpasses the love of all the elect, so the tenderness of all mothers united, centered upon an only child, is nothing to the love wherewith Mary surrounds the least, the most forgotten, the most neglected of all the children of God, who are her children too.”

    The reign of the Immaculate Heart is one of utmost dedication to God, and one in which the humble virgin points always to Him, and never to herself. Despite receiving the most singular graces, the terrible honour of participating in the act of redemption, and being assumed into heaven, Mary does not take any of this glory unto herself. Rather, the feast of the Immaculate Heart is a reminder of how still in heaven, her life is dedicated to the love and service of God, to union with her Son, and being the channel of graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon all below. 

    The French Mariologist Pere Neubert notes this aspect in his discourse on the Assumption: “By the very fact that the Assumption makes us realise better how Mary is our Mother, how close she is to us, how well she knows our prayers and our needs, how warmly she sympathises with us in our joys and in our trials – this mystery also makes u understand more fully her will to save all her children in this world and realise better he earnest desire to have us aid her in the accomplishment of this mission.”

    The outpouring of love and grace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the natural consequence not only of the Assumption, but of her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, her Divine Maternity, and her co-operation in the redemption. Each of these honours and graces of Mary are oriented towards God, and the fulfilment of His will. Each action which she performs, is an act whereby she unites her will to His, always desirous of the salvation of souls and the glorification of almighty God.  

    It is important to thus dwell on the mystery of the Immaculate Heart at this juncture in the Church’s calendar, for as Dr. Kwasnieswki notes: “She is borne into heaven to emulate, enter into, and extend as Mediatrix of all graces the intercessory role of Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man. Clearly the Ascension and the Assumption in the tradition of spiritual theology (one need only look at the homilies of St. Bernard of Clairvaux) are about Jesus and Mary going to the throne of God to make intercession for us—obviously in two different ways.”

Small wonder therefore that St. Alphonsus closes his discourse on the Assumption, by making reference to the mediation which Mary continues to perform from her heavenly throne. Her mission of glorifying God and bringing souls to Christ does not end with her Assumption, but in many ways intensifies, as she now channels graces to all who offer earnest petition, as noted in the words of the Memorare: 

Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Sunday, 15 August 2021

Our Lady, assumed into heaven

 

 

St. Alphonsus writes eloquently on this feast of the Assumption in The Glories of Mary, in which he devotes several pages to her Assumption. The saints recounts the beautiful meeting between Son and Mother upon her glorious arrival, so different from the meeting on the road to Calvary. Just as she was united with Him at every step in the Redemption, so she must also be united to Him in heavenly glory, where the two share the inestimable glory. But this glory only comes after the suffering of the cross, and they cannot be viewed as separate. 

        The Assumption can be seen almost as a mirror of Calvary. On Calvary Mary raised herself up in order to be beside Christ and so to share in His redemptive suffering; here she is raised up by Him to join in the heavenly throne which she has merited through her joint sufferings. Just as on Calvary Mary was able to join her sufferings to Christ’s due to having received preventative redemption, so on the Assumption she is once again able to join Him due to His power alone. Her life, even in this moment of glory, is focussed on giving honour and glory to God and leading souls to Him. “If thy sufferings have been great on earth, far greater is the glory which I have prepared for thee in heaven”.(1)

Whilst at that awful moment at the cross the entirety of creation was plunged into tumult and chaos, now the heavens resound with the exaltations of the angels who gather to welcome their Queen. Indeed, second only to God, how can they not love most of all, she who loves God most of all? Yet it is not just the angels who hail Mary as their queen and throng to lead her to her throne. The Litany of Loreto contains many invocations to her as queen: she is queen of patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs. These servants of the Most High now make their way to greet she who bore their Lord and Master. The martyrs salute her: “She, by her great constancy in the sorrows of her Son’s Passion, had taught them [the martyrs], and also by her merits had obtained them strength, to lay down their lives for the faith”.(2) So do the holy patriarchs, who had awaited the coming of the Virgin Mother who would crush the head of the serpent: “O Marys, it is thou who wast our hope; for thee it was that we sighed with such ardour and for so long a time”.(3) 


But the heavenly host is not yet complete, for Mary is queen also of confessors, virgins and all saints. Now they come to render homage to her, for she it was who taught them the glory of virginity and the practice of the virtues. In this their Queen, they have the perfect model of perfection, for though they are her predecessors in time, she is their mother in grace. 


St. Alphonsus calls to our attention a meeting which we might overlook when meditating on the Assumption - the meeting between Mary and St. Joseph. “Who can ever describe the joy which the holy patriarch felt at seeing his spouse so triumphantly enter heaven and made Queen of Paradise?”(4) In the Scriptures, even less is heard of St. Joseph than of Mary, but one can only imagine the beatitude of their union, those two souls who were united in caring for the Infant King. The joy of the saints and angels would not compare to the joy experienced when these two blessed souls met at the throne of God. 


Such a scene is that which we celebrate on this happy feast, and by doing so honour not just Mary, but her Divine Son, to whom her whole life was oriented. But what we have seen thus far is the depiction of her arrival into the realm of glory, and Ligouri urges us to continue by thinking of the glory of the throne to which she was raised. Mary’s love for her Son surpasses all imaginings. None can truly understand the depths of love which existed in her heart for her Child who was to redeem the world. Rightly so, then, should the glory of her position as Queen mirror the depths of her love. Rightly so should she be raised in a position above all and next to her Son. “Rightly, then, does the Church sing that Mary having loved God more than all the angels, the Mother of god has been exalted above them all in the heavenly kingdom”.(5)


Just as her position at the foot of the cross was seen by the world to be of the lowest rank, stood next to a criminal, her position in heaven is of the highest order. Seated next to her Divine Son, Mary thus pours out graces upon all those who ask. Her title of Mediatrix of graces is thus ever more fulfilled, as she reigns as Queen of heaven and earth.


    “No other solemnity breathes, like this one, at once triumph and peace; none better answers to the enthusiasm of the many and the serenity of souls consummated in love,” writes Dom Gueranger in his comments on the feast. “She stays not till she reaches the very confines of the Divinity; close to the throne of honour where her Son, the King of ages, reigns in justice and in power; there she is proclaimed Queen, there she will reign for evermore in mercy and in goodness.


Such are the happy thoughts which the saints give us to ponder over on the feast of the Assumption. Their love of Mary enables them to depict the heavenly scenes in such a vivid manner, that the reader can well picture himself there. Let us ask Our Lady, assumed into heaven, to grant us a greater devotion to her, so that we might one day partake of that glorious sight.


“Enter then that kingdom, and take thy seat near Me; come to receive that crown which I will bestow upon thee as Queen of the universe”.



1: St. Alphonsus Ligouri, The Glories of Mary, 391.

2: Ibid, 393.

3: Ibid, 393.

4. Ibid, 394.

5. Ibid, 395.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Transfiguration of Our Lord


    This past week has seen a number of feasts, of which one in particular stands out, namely the Transfiguration of Christ. Just as He was surrounded by the prophets of the Old Law in the moment of His Transfiguration, the feast is now surrounded by feasts of saints of the New Covenant, notably Our Lady on her feast of Our Lady of the Snows.

    Dom Gueranger reminds his readers that today is not the first time in the year that the Church dwells on the Transfiguration. Hence, this feast is not just the historical event, but also an occasion to meditate on the “permanent mystery attached to it; not so much the personal favor bestowed on Simon Peter and the sons of Zebedee, as the accomplishment of the great message then entrusted to them for the Church.”


    This mystery is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, of His divine law, and Christ’s salvific death and resurrection. The select few apostles who accompanied Our Lord to the mountain top were told: “Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.”


    Thus writes Dom Gueranger on the event, explaining how it demonstrates the mission of Christ to fulfil the Old Law, and establish the New Law through the shedding of His blood:


    “The King of Jews and Gentiles revealed himself upon the mountain, where his calm splendor eclipsed forevermore the lightning of Sinai: the covenant of the eternal alliance was declared, not by the promulgation of a law of servitude engraven upon stone, but by the manifestation of the Lawgiver himself, coming as Bridegroom to reign in grace and beauty over hearts. Elias and Moses, representing the prophets and the Law whereby his coming was prepared, from their different starting points, met beside him, like faithful messengers reaching their destination; they did homage to the Masters of their now finished mission, and effaced themselves before him at the voice of the Father: This is my beloved Son! Three witnesses the most trustworthy of all assisted at this solemn scene: the disciple of faith, the disciple of love, and that other son of thunder who was to be the first to seal with his blood both the faith and the love of an Apostle. By his order they kept religiously, as beseemed them, the secret of the King, until the day when the Church could be the first to receive it from their predestined lips.” 

     Indeed, the feast is also a call for the Church to redouble Her mission of preaching to all nations, converting and baptising. She is to preach of the glory of God, the fulfilment of the Old Law and the establishing of the New, as demonstrated in the Transfiguration. 


    “Although our Lord personally has now passed the torrent of suffering and entered forever into his glory, nevertheless the bright mystery of the Transfiguration will not be complete until the last of the elect, having passed through the laborious preparation at the hands of the Divine Fuller, and tasted death, has joined in the Resurrection of our adorable Head,” writes Gueranger.

 

    “But without waiting for the day when our Savior will renew our very bodies conformable to the bright glory of his own divine Body, the mystery of the Transfiguration is wrought in our souls already here on earth. It is of the present life that St. Paul says and the Church sings today: God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 4:6)…For thy summit is love, it is charity which towers above the other virtues, as thou towerest in gracefulness, and loftiness, and fragrance over the other mountains of Galilee, which saw Jesus passing, speaking, praying, working prodigies, but did not know him in the intimacy of the perfect. It is after six days, as the Gospel observes, and therefore in the repose of the seventh which leads to the eighth of the resurrection, that Jesus reveals himself to the privileged souls who correspond to his love.”

    “The Kingdom of God is within us; when, leaving all impressions of the senses as it were asleep, we raise ourselves above the works and cares of the world by prayer, it is given us to enter with the Man-God into the cloud: there beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, as far as is compatible with our exile, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) ‘Let us then,’ cries St. Ambrose, ‘ascend the mountain, let us beseech the Word of God to show himself to us in his splendor, in his beauty; to grow strong and proceed prosperously, and reign in our souls. For behold a deep mystery! According to thy measure, the Word diminishes or grows within thee. If thou reach not that summit, high above all human thought, Wisdom will not appear to thee; the Word shows himself to thee as in a body without brightness and without glory.’ (Ambrose, in Luc. Book vii, 12).”


Hymn

“All ye who seek Christ, life up your eyes to heaven; there ye may behold the token of his eternal glory.

A certain brilliance we perceive that knows no ending, sublime, noble, interminable, older than heaven and chaos.

This is the King of the Gentiles, and King of the Jewish people, who was promised to Abraham our father, and to his seed forever.

The prophets testify to him, and the Father, who testifies with them for his own witnesses, bids us hear and believe him.

O Jesus, glory be to thee who revealest thyself to little ones, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, through everlasting ages. Amen.

Adam of St. Victor has also sung of this glorious mystery.”

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: 'O God, be merciful to me the sinner!'

(Publican humbly praying at the entry to the temple)

     “O God, be merciful to me the sinner!” Such are the words of the rich publican, drawn from St. Luke’s Gospel used by the Church today. These eight words, so well known, form perhaps one of the most profound, yet also one of the easiest prayers to say.

How is this so? The truth is that in just eight words, there are multiple aspects of Catholic spirituality which are represented, when the words are prayed properly. The phrase begins with a heartfelt, and pious appeal to the Almighty, made not out of haste or presumption, but out of humility. This same humility is that which is constantly evident in the life of Mary, and which moved her to utter her fiat to the will of God as revealed to her by the angel. She willed for nothing other than to perform the will of God, and so humbly united her will to His. It is so with the publican’s prayer, for he comes before God with a heartfelt desire to unite himself to the Divinity and to obey His commands.

“Be merciful to me the sinner!” This phrase is awash with sentiments which echo the brief aspirations which St. Thérèse advocates in her Little Way spirituality, in order to be able to easily dedicate the day to God. The words reveal first of all the publican’s realisation of his own state, that of being sinful. He knows that in himself he is nothing, and identifies his actions with sins, calling himself “the sinner.” Indeed, but for the grace of God, such is the state of fallen man, who is apt for nothing but to commit sin and to indulge his fallen passions. 

The publican also reveals his understanding of God as One whom he can turn to for aid, despite his own sinful countenance. He knows that it is only God who can heal him, guide him onto the path of virtue. The publican also understands that his sins injure God, for it is to God that he turns asking for mercy for those sins. In the order of justice, mercy can only be bestowed by he who has been injured. This principle is clearly known by the publican, and hence he asks God for mercy. 

Such a question reveals something else also: it demonstrates a healthy understanding of one’s calling to the path of virtue and ultimately to the cross. For though he has fallen away from the path of virtue, the publican is aware of his need to reform his ways and to imitate his Saviour once more. No matter his past failings, the publican is determined to renew his zeal in the pursuit of God.  

This renewal he knows can only come about with the help of that same Saviour whom he seeks to imitate. Hence he turns to Him whom he seeks to imitate, asking first for clemency, for forgiveness, and as part of that same request, he implicitly asks for the grace to be able to make amends and continue more resolutely in the future. This point can justly be said of his request, for a sincere request for forgiveness is not made, if the one asking does not desire to amend his ways. 

Thus in just eight words, the publican offers a model prayer for faithful souls to imitate, demonstrating a proper understanding of self and of God, a hatred of sin, a firm purpose of amendment, and a desire to follow Christ. It is first and foremost a lesson in prayer for the soul desirous of following Christ. 

Preaching on this Gospel, St. Alphonsus writes about the importance of prayer, and how the example of the sinful, yet repentant publican serves as a reminder of this. Prayer draws us closer to God, and so the saint notes that God may permit those circumstances which necessitate our recourse to prayer: “The Lord…seeing the great advantages which we derive from the necessity of prayer, permits us to be attacked by enemies more powerful than we are, that we may ask his assistance. Hence they who are conquered cannot excuse themselves by saying that they had not strength to resist the assault of the enemy; for had they asked aid from God, he should have given it; and had they prayed, they should have been victorious. Therefore, if they are defeated, God will punish them. St. Bonaventure says, that if a general lose a fortress in consequence of not having sought timely succour from his sovereign, he shall be branded as a traitor. Thus God regards as a traitor the Christian who, when he finds himself assailed by temptations, neglects to seek the divine aid.”

Such words are strong indeed, but they are not without the evidence of Scripture to support the necessity and efficacy of prayer. The Psalm in today’s Introit serves as a reassurance of this: “When I call upon the Lord, He heard my voice, from those who war against me; and He humbled them, Who is before all ages, and remains forever: cast your care upon the Lord, and He will support you.” (Psalm 54)

Then again at the Offertory verse, this teaching is proclaimed once more: “To You I lift up my soul, O Lord. In You, O my God, I trust; let me not be put to shame, let not my enemies exult over me. No one who waits for You shall be put to shame.”

Indeed the example of the publican serves more than one purpose. Initially it offers a simple, yet profound, lesson on the manner of praying to God, pointing souls to the virtues the are necessary in order to develop the life of prayer and union with God. But it further reveals the necessity of prayer, showing that a soul who is truly desirous of union with God, must accept his complete dependance upon God. Finally it serves as a reassurance for those nervous to cast themselves at the foot of God in such a manner, for as evidenced by the other texts of the Mass, God will never leave a sincere prayer unanswered. 

One of the great counsels of St. Alphonsus in his many works on prayer and spirituality, is that the day be dedicated to God and punctuated with brief aspirations. His sermon on the necessity and efficacy of prayer serves only to compound that teaching. Holy Mother Church, in presenting this parable of Christ, perhaps offers us the eight words of the publican as an aspiration which can be easily made throughout the day, and thus draw one ever closer to the desired union with God. 

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Apologies to regular readers of this blog, who will notice the absence of a post this morning, as a result of needing time away from the sc...