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Title: Sermons Preached At The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, New York, During the Year 1861.
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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  [Transcriber's notes: This production is based on
  https://archive.org/details/sermonspaulists00unknuoft/page/n7.

  Many footnotes have additional citations indicated by "USCCB",
  based on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Bible
  found at http://usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible. Most
  differences appear to be typographical errors not detected in

  End of Transcriber's notes.]


{1}

SERMONS.

{2}

{3}

  Sermons,

  Preached At The

  Church of St. Paul the Apostle,

  New York,

  During the Year 1861.

  -----------

  New York:
  Van Parys, Hugot & Howell,

  34 Beekman Street.

  1861.

{4}


  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by

  VAN PARYS, HUGOT & HOWELL,

  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
  States, for the Southern District of New York.

  ---------------

  C. A. ALVORD, PRINTER.

{5}

PREFACE.

------------

Some of those friends who listened to the sermons contained in
this volume have expressed a desire to see them in print, and
thought they would do good. This friendly counsel has not been
acted upon without hesitation. The great scarcity of Catholic
sermons in English would seem to afford motive enough for
publishing, though it is feared that these may fall too far below
the standard. Certainly, they make no pretence to brilliant
passages of imagination, flowers of style, or appeals to popular
enthusiasm;
{6}
these not comporting with the serious and earnest work in which
we are engaged. But we trust that they will be found plain,
simple, and direct, and that there may be those among our
Catholic brethren who will derive an appreciable benefit from
their perusal--some clearer view of Christian doctrine or moral
duty, some thought to touch the heart, and draw it upward to God.
If so, our purpose will have been accomplished. With so much of
explanation we send out these few sermons into the world;
doubting, somewhat, if all who heard them when they came living
and warm from the preacher's lips, and listened with interest
then, will prize them now as they lie cold and uncolored on the
paper.

  St. Paul's. 59th Street, Dec. 1. 1861.

{7}

             CONTENTS.

                                                      PAGE.

I.   The Earnest Man                                    9

II.  Unworthy Communion                                26

III. Christ's Resurrection The Foundation of Our Faith 40

IV.  Giving Testimony                                  63

V.   Spiritual Death                                   76

VI.  The Love Of God                                   93

VII. Keeping The Law Not Impossible                   107

VIII. The Two Standards                               124

IX.   The Epiphany                                    143

X.    Renunciation                                    158

XI.   The Afflictions Of The Just                     176

XII.  False Maxims                                    190

XIII. Mary's Destiny A Type Of Ours                   205

XIV.  Mortal Sin Exemplified In The History Of Judas  221

{8}

XV.   Interior Life                                   234

XVI.  True Christian Humility                         254

XVII. What The Desire To Love God Can Do              270

XVIII. The Worth Of The Soul                          293

XIX. Merit The Measure Of Reward                      310

XX.  Self-denial                                      330

{9}

   SERMON I.

   The Earnest Man.

   A Sermon For The Commemoration Of St. Paul, Apostle.

  (From the Epistle, Gal. i., 11-23.)


I have read the Epistle for the day, rather than the Gospel,
because it contains a brief but characteristic sketch of the
great Apostle, drawn by his own hand. How strange is the history
of this man! We have here the Church's most bitter persecutor
converted into the most zealous and successful of all the
Apostles. At first we discover a careful and devoted student of
the Jewish law; afterward he stands forth the most learned and
eloquent expounder of the Christian Gospel.
{10}
We see him in his youth a witness of St. Stephen's martyrdom,
standing by to hold the garments of those who stoned him to
death, sternly and pitilessly looking on; and again in his old
age we find him lying lifeless on the Ostian road, outside the
walls of Rome, a headless trunk, a martyr in the same cause for
which St. Stephen died. We see him at first "_ravaging the
Church, entering into houses, and hauling away men and women, and
committing them to prison,_" and shortly afterward we hear the
wondering Christians whisper to each other: "_He that
persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith_." In the
beginning, foremost of all the Jews was he in that terrible
energy which they put forth to destroy the Church; and afterward
foremost among the Apostles, he was able to say with truth: "_I
have labored more abundantly than they all_." In fine, one
trait of character distinguished this great Apostle at all times,
both before and after his conversion. He was always an earnest
man. It is worth our while this morning to study his character
well, for--from the bottom of my soul I do believe it--a few such
earnest Christians in our day would be enough to move the world.

{11}

Let us look at him first during the early part of his career, and
see how this earnestness of character displays itself in one
whose mind is misguided, by religious error. In the first place,
then, St. Paul before his conversion was distinguished by an
earnest and ardent love of truth, and consequently, a strong
attachment to what he deemed to be the truth. I have already read
to you in the Epistle what he says of his own early life: "_I
made progress in the Jews' religion above many of my equals in my
own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of
my fathers._" This earnestness of his sprang from a deep love
of truth, and it made him what he afterward became, the foremost
champion of the true faith. The human mind is created for truth,
is naturally attracted to the truth when fairly presented, and if
not led away by a corrupted heart, embraces it with joy. Truth
comes readily to those that love it, and therefore there is,
after all, nothing unnatural in this conversion of a Hebrew
zealot into a Christian evangelist; for if he loved error at
first, it was only because in good faith he mistook it for the
truth, and if he hated the truth, it was only because he did not
see it in its true colors, but misrepresented and perverted.
{12}
These men who are zealous, honestly zealous, in error, are the
very men to embrace the truth; and, on the contrary, they who
stand perfectly indifferent between contradictory creeds, are the
least open to conviction. Both reason and experience teach this.
Nothing is more common in our day than a class of men who look
with perfect[ly] good nature upon every form of religious
doctrine, except perhaps that particular one in which they
themselves were reared, and which is supposed therefore to have
some practical claim upon them. Did you ever know one of these
"liberal fellows," so called, to be come Catholic? I mean these
men who, having no religious faith to love, can have no error to
hate. I mean, for example, these nominal Protestants who, when in
your presence, turn into ridicule every Protestant form of
religion, without believing a word of yours; one of these
good-natured fellows that think the Catholic religion is quite as
good as any, in some respects the best of any, since it is the
farthest out of their way.
{13}
Take, for instance, one of these liberal politicians that you
always see at the public dinner on Patrick's day; that will
subscribe cordially to a Catholic charity, if you ask him, but
comes back to remind you of it on election day. Did you ever know
a man of this stamp to become Catholic? No, indeed; divine truth
has attractions only for earnest souls. A _hickory_
Protestant is as poor a thing as a _hickory_ Catholic. Such
a man has two fundamental axioms to get by heart, before
religious truth can take possession of his soul; first, that
there is such a thing as truth, and next, that his mind was made
for it, and needs it. Oh! it is sad to see a man in ignorance of
the way of salvation,--sadder still to see him blindly prejudiced
against it; but the saddest, most ignoble, and most hopeless of
all conditions, is to be indifferent to it.

St. Paul was another type of man. He was an earnest one. He
believed the Jewish religion to be the true and only true one,
and therefore he loved it with all his soul, and was zealous for
it. When the scales fell from his eyes, and the Christian faith
was revealed to him in all its truth and beauty, he embraced it,
and clung to it, and abandoned himself to it, with all the
energies of that same earnest soul.
{14}
Had he been a "liberal" Jew, we should have far more reason to
wonder at his conversion; it is still less probable that God
would have selected him for the Apostle of the Gentiles.

An earnest lover of truth, even before his conversion, it
followed as a natural consequence, that St. Paul hated error; and
for this reason he opposed the Christian religion with all his
might, and with his whole soul, because he believed it to be
false and dangerous. "_You have heard_," said he, writing to
the Christians of Galatia, "_of my conversation in time past in
the Jews religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the
Church of God, and laid it waste._" But he tells us elsewhere:
"_I obtained mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly in
unbelief_." In the same proportion that the earnest man loves
what is good and true, he hates what is false and evil, or what
he thinks so, and opposes it too. St. Paul opposed the Christian
faith with all his power, because he believed it to be false. He
was wrong there: it was an error of judgment.
{15}
He persecuted it too violently, "beyond measure," forgetting the
rules of charity. There he was wrong again; it was an error of
the heart. But in all this he was in earnest, hating false
doctrine; and there he was right. I do not sympathize with his
delusion, but I love him for his earnestness.

Oh! how many such men may there not be in this country of ours,
that we rank among our bitterest foes!--men who honestly oppose
our holy religion, not for what it really is, but what they think
it to be. Could we open that sealed and sacred register of the
divine counsels, wherein the fortunes of mankind are written,
with what delight should we read there the names of many of our
bitterest opponents who are destined to kneel and worship with us
yet, as others, thank God, have done already! Why not? I do from
my heart believe that many of these make war upon us only from
mistake of judgment. They know our doctrines only by false
report. They judge of our morals only by such Catholics as are
either the most ignorant of their own religion, or else entirely
false to the teachings of their Church, and strangers to her
sacraments, although some of these may be loud enough at times in
proclaiming a faith they have not, to further some political
pretension, or sanctify some ungodly trade.
{16}
Under such circumstances it is not strange that many earnest men
should set their faces against us. Could they cease to hate our
religion, while they believe it to be false? Can they sympathize
with us, while they believe us to be corrupted by it? Oh! God,
send these men into thy fold! Take off the scales from their
eyes, and send them to us. We need earnest men amongst us. The
half-hearted, indifferent Protestant who calls himself a liberal,
we do not hope for. We have too many such already; we could spare
them by the thousand, for they neither save their own souls, nor
bring credit to thy cause. But send us earnest men like St. Paul,
who know how to hate error, because they love the truth!

If, even when groping in the darkness of Judaism, St. Paul was so
honest-hearted and earnest, we shall not find him otherwise when
enlightened by the grace of Jesus Christ, and enlisted in his
holy cause. He had before him two great enterprises, which
require not only large grace from God, but all one's manhood and
energy to carry on well.
{17}
He had his own soul to sanctify and save, and he had an Apostle's
work to do. He set about both like a man in earnest, with that
deliberate, deep and concentrated enthusiasm which is not wont to
fail. Let us see first what care he took of his own salvation.

Would you believe it, my brethren, that St. Paul--after all that
wonderful life of toil and privation in the cause of Christ,
after his many voyages and frequent shipwrecks, imprisoned often,
and dragged before different tribunals, after being scourged five
times by the Jews and three times by the Romans, stoned by the
mob in the streets and left for dead, wandering about without any
fixed home, and often famishing for food and drink, and faint for
want of sleep--would you believe, I say, that he yet trembled for
fear of being damned? He was afraid lest that poor, emaciated
body of his might rebel against the spirit, and drag him into
some grievous sin. "_Oh! wretched man that I am!_" was his
mournful cry, "_who shall deliver me from this body of
death?_" For this reason he scourged himself. "_Therefore I
chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, perhaps,
when I have preached to others, I myself should become
reprobate_."
{18}
This is being in earnest. I think, my brethren, our bodies are as
dangerous to us, as St. Paul's was to him. Are we as much in
earnest to guard against a fall? Gluttony, drunkenness, impurity,
idleness and effeminacy--these sensual sins are generated in the
body. We may not, all of us, be guilty of them, not grossly
guilty; but we are none of us quite safe against them. What means
do we employ to subjugate our bodies, or was St. Paul less safe
than we?

According to the idea of this great Apostle, the way to heaven is
a constant and difficult warfare. Nothing in language can be more
striking and vivid than his description of an earnest Christian
struggling to make sure his salvation. He compares him to
wrestlers, boxers, and runners in the public games. Have you ever
seen two strong men wrestling? How their muscles harden into
knots, and their veins swell full as if they would burst! How all
their energies are engaged! How wary they are to guard against a
fall, and how quick to seize upon any advantage! Imagine them to
be real enemies wrestling for life, and then you have an image of
the actual contest of an earnest Christian struggling for
salvation with the enemies of his soul.
{19}
"_Brethren_," says St. Paul, and I seem to hear those deep
tones giving counsel like a friendly voice at the beginning of a
deadly fray, "_Brethren, put on the armor of God, that you may
be able to stand against the snares of the devil. For our
wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of
darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high
places_." Tell me, my brethren, is this your idea of the
Christian warfare? Is it with this terrible earnestness you
struggle to work out your salvation, or do you make a pastime of
it?

He compares us Christians to professional racers. "_Know you
not that they who run in the race all run indeed, but one
receiveth the prize? So run that you may win_." For my part,
he adds, "_I so run as not at an uncertainty_," not as if I
had lost sight of the mark, and were only half conscious of what
I were about, but "_forgetting the things that are behind, and
stretching myself forward to those that are before me, I pursue
towards the mark, for the prize of the supernal vocation of God
in Christ Jesus_." Is this the earnest way we follow out our
vocation? Are we thus determined to win?

{20}

The Christian warfare requires careful preparation, drill and
discipline. In respect to this, St. Paul compares us to
professional boxers, and his description shows that these
gladiators of the olden time took as much pride in their art, as
our modern gentlemen of the prize ring. "_Every one that
struggles in a combat, abstains from every indulgence; they,
indeed, that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an
incorruptible_." How earnest are these miserable
prize-fighters after their belt, and their stakes! How patiently
they submit to all the rules of their training-master during
their long and painful course of training! What abstinence from
food, from indulgence in drink, and all luxurious living, in
order to reduce their bodies to the most athletic proportions!
What long walks under heavy weights! What fatiguing exercises to
harden their muscles! Oh! that we were half as earnest, with
heaven for a prize, and all our eternity at stake! We should be
sure of victory then.
{21}
St. Paul was in earnest. "_I so fight_," said he, "_as not
having to beat the air, but I chastise my body, and bring it into
subjection, lest, perhaps, when I have preached to others, I
myself should become reprobate_."

We have seen now, how, after his conversion, St. Paul set about
the first great business before him--his own salvation. Let us
look at him now as an Apostle, engaged in gaining souls to God,
and in guarding the flock of Christ intrusted to him. Ah! my dear
brethren, here must I be brief. I dare not make any further
demands upon your patience. And, besides, who can draw the
lineaments of that great Apostle, or paint him in colors worthy
of his character? What memory can trace out those long and
frequent journeys, with the incessant fatigue of preaching,
disputing, and writing, with the "care of all the churches" upon
his hands. And yet, not to burden his brethren, he maintained
himself in good part by manual labor. What language is gentle
enough, and warm enough, to represent that tender and sensitive
heart that throbbed in sympathy with all the joys and woes of the
Church, and burned with every scandal?
{22}
"_Who is weak,_" said he, "_and I am not weak? Who is
scandalized, and I do not burn?_" Who can estimate the depth
and fulness of that fraternal love, which made him willing to
part even with his own hopes of heaven, so it could be done
without offence to God, in order to save his brethren? "_My
conscience bears me witness in the Holy Ghost that I have great
sadness, and continual sorrow in my heart, for I wished myself to
be an anathema from Christ for my brethren_." This is the
nearest approach to the love of the Saviour for us, who bore our
sins upon the bitter cross, who died that we might live, becoming
an anathema for his brethren. Oh! holy zeal for souls! how
beautiful it shows in the person of an Apostle like St. Paul! And
what an example it is for those of us who are in the sacred
ministry. We, too, have a share in his Apostleship; we are
charged with the preaching of the Gospel, and the gathering in of
souls. We have pledged ourselves to this holy work of duty and
charity. Woe to such among us as are not in earnest! Joy to him
who, when his Lord comes, shall be able to give a good account of
his stewardship!

{23}

But you, my dear brethren, have also something to learn from this
burning zeal of St. Paul's. You have all something to do with the
advancement of your Master's kingdom, and the salvation of souls.
When God created the human race, so we read in the Book of
Ecclesiasticus, he made each man responsible, in some measure,
for the welfare of his fellows: "_Mandavit illis unicuique de
proximo suo_." and there is still a closer and dearer bond
which embraces all the members of the great Catholic Church, and
holds each one pledged to labor for the salvation of all. Ah!
brethren, do not say with the murderer Cain: "_Am I my
brother's keeper?_" What have I to do with the sanctification
or ruin of souls? No! no! but take to heart your Master's cause.
He came into the world to save sinners. Teach your heart to throb
in sympathy with his, until you can say with St. Paul: "_Who is
weak, and I am not weak? who is scandalized, and I do not
burn?_" This is to love our Lord in earnest. This is the
communion of saints.

{24}

We have traced this distinguishing characteristic of the great
apostle--this earnestness of his--through his entire career. It
only remains now to witness the close of that career. St. Paul
died like a man who had lived in earnest, and for whom therefore
death has no terrors, "_For me to live,_" said he, "_is
Christ, to die is gain_." Is it possible that any fear of
death, any doubt of his salvation could cloud the spirit of such
a man in the closing scene of his career? Listen to his parting
song of triumph! It comes from his prison at Rome, just upon the
eve of his martyrdom. He has still before his mind's eye the
combatants and runners in the public games. "_The time of my
dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course; I have kept the faith. For the rest there is
laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just Judge
will render to me at that day_."

Could we say as much, my brethren, if our time were come? Could
we claim as manfully to have fought a good fight? Could we claim
our reward as confidently? No? Then, alas, we have not been so
much in earnest. We have been playing with our salvation, not
wrestling for it; we have not been fighting for our faith with
the world and Satan, but compromising; we have been resting not
running; and if so, what hope have we to reach that crown?
{25}
Oh, let us bestir ourselves! Let us live like men awake; so let
us think, so speak, so act, so move, through this brief but
solemn crisis of life, that all who see us may know that, like
St. Paul, we are in earnest.

      ---------------------

{26}

           Sermon II.

      Unworthy Communion.


  "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily,
  eateth and drinketh judgment to himself,
  not discerning the Body of the Lord."
  --1 Cor. xi., 29.

  (From the Epistle for Thursday in Holy Week.)


It is customary at certain seasons of the year, for separated
members of a family to meet and dine together, as a means of
cherishing that affection for one another which we look for among
relations. Thanksgiving Day and Christmas are occasions of this
kind. The Catholic Church, too, is a great family, and the
Paschal Season is such a time with her. She calls her children
around her altars, to receive the Body and Blood of her Lord, who
is the blessed bond of their union, and of their love.
{27}
But as in the parable of the rich man's supper there was found
one at the table who had not on the wedding garment, and was cast
out; therefore the Church warns us at this season, to prepare for
the Paschal Feast, that we may not be found unworthy. And to the
same end she calls upon us to keep this season of penance,
beforehand. In the Church's name, then, and in charity to
yourselves, my dear brethren, I am going to lift up my voice this
morning, against unworthy communions.

But first, I must tell you, that I do not mean unworthy, in the
sense of communions made without profit: as for example, when one
makes but little preparation beforehand, and thinks little of
what he is doing at the moment, and makes but the poorest sort of
thanksgiving afterward. No; compared with such as I mean, these
communions are precious and holy. They do but little good to
those who make them, it is true; and give but poor honor to God;
but at least they are made in the state of grace. By an unworthy
communion, I mean one that is made in known mortal sin. I mean a
sacrilegious communion.
{28}
I shall speak, then,--

  1. Of communion in itself.

  2. Of unworthy communions.

  3. Of those who are guilty of them.

I.--_What is Communion?_

It is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, given to us as food for
the sanctification of our souls and bodies. "_He that eateth my
Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, hath everlasting life, and I will
raise him up at the last day._" [Footnote 1]

    [Footnote 1: St. John, vi., 55.]

What is Holy Communion? It is to receive the best of friends, who
comes to advise us, to cheer and to encourage us. A friend who
has power to protect us. Who loves to dwell in our hearts as in a
castle, where He may fight for us against the enemies of our
soul.

What is Holy Communion? It is a pledge of Heaven, and a foretaste
of it. Union with God by a perfect love, will be our happiness
for all eternity, and this is begun on earth in Holy Communion.
As St. Peter says, it is to be made "partakers of the Divine
nature." [Footnote 2]

    [Footnote 2: 2 Peter i., 4.]

What is Holy Communion? It is the parting gift of one who loves
us better than our mother. He chose the time when He was about to
leave us, to give it an additional value.
{29}
He made it the memorial of His Passion. As in times past, He had
given the rainbow as a perpetual remembrance of His mercy, so He
willed that the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood, should
be a perpetual remembrance of the redemption of the Cross, "_Do
this in remembrance of Me_."

What is Holy Communion? It is the best of all the good gifts of
our good God.

II.--_What then is it to receive this Holy Communion
unworthily?_ It is to be grievously wanting in reverence to
the holiest of all holy things. When you see a person put a thing
to an improper use, what do you say? Why, that is too bad; you
say. Why, you must be out of your head. Suppose you saw a girl in
service, scrubbing the floor with a beautiful camel's-hair shawl,
what would you say? Suppose you saw me filling the water stoups
at the door, and for that purpose dipping out the holy water,
from a pail, with the very chalice I had just used in Mass, what
would you say? Why, you would exclaim, how very shocking! what an
irreverent Priest!
{30}
Now why would you say this? Because when God made your soul, He
put into it a reverence for certain things, above others. But
what does an unworthy communion do? It does this. It takes the
Blood of Christ, and pours it down a sink that is more loathsome
than a city sewer, for what is so loathsome to God, as a soul in
mortal sin? Corruption of matter is good, for God made it, but
moral corruption is an abomination to Him.

This one does who conceals a mortal sin in confession.

What is an Unworthy Communion? It is to crucify Jesus over again.
What does St. Paul say? "_They who have tasted of the Heavenly
Gift and are fallen away, crucify to themselves the Son of God,
and make a mockery of Him._" Now, which is worse, to leave off
keeping a man's company, or to play the false friend with him?
But this a man does who receives Holy Communion unworthily. The
spirit of his act is as if he went up to the throne of God, and
caught hold of those Blessed Hands and Feet, and said, "come down
to earth and be tormented once more." He would pull off the crown
of glory from that Blessed Head, and press down again upon that
Brow the crown of thorns.

{31}

Nay, it does even worse than crucify Jesus over again. His first
crucifixion was a willing one. It was His own love that was the
real executioner; but now He is dragged against His will. This is
what a man does who gets his absolution on the strength of some
promise which he does not intend to keep.

What is an Unworthy Communion? It is to eat and drink one's own
damnation. What does St. Paul say again? "_He that eateth and
drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to
himself_." The wood of the cross drank in the Blood of Christ,
and was sanctified; and here is a soul that has drunk it in, and
is damned. The Centurion was sprinkled with it, as he was
piercing the side of Christ with a spear, and it made a Saint of
him; but here is a Christian soul, that is damned for being
bathed with it. It cleansed the robber's conscience who was
hanging beside his Lord, and pleaded mercy for him; but on this
soul it cries for vengeance, like the blood of Abel, against
another Cain.
{32}
"_Better_," said our Lord, "_had it been for that man, if
he had not been born;_" but now, he has anticipated the Day of
Judgment upon himself. This a man does who gets his absolution
upon the promise of breaking off from a bad companion, which
promise he does not mean to keep. I repeat, then, they make
unworthy, sacrilegious communions, for instance,

1. Who conceal mortal sins in confession.

2. Who get their absolution on the strength of their promising
what they do not intend to perform.

But what am I saying? Surely no one before me has been guilty of
this! Well, God only knows. It has been done elsewhere, and may
have been done here, for alas, unworthy communions are not such
very uncommon things. In case it has been so, I wish to strike
terror into such consciences, and to bring them to penance. I
wish to prevent such a misfortune, in the parish of St. Paul's,
as one coming to the Paschal Feast of the Lamb without his
wedding garment.

{33}

III. _Who has done this?_

As our Lord sat at the table with His Apostles, at the Last
Supper, he said sadly, "_One of you shall betray Me._" Each
in turn, asked Him eagerly and earnestly, "_Lord, is it I?_"
No, Peter, I foresee that you will deny that you know Me. That
you will even swear that you do not. That you will even do this
several times; but no, it is not you who will betray Me.

"_Lord, is it I?_" No, Thomas. You will run away for fear at
my death, though you said you would die with Me. You will not
believe My word that I am risen, and that I am your Lord, until
you put your hand in the prints of the nails; but no, it is not
you who will betray Me.

"_Lord, is it I?_" No, John. You shall be beside Me at the
Cross. I mean that you shall have the charge of my mother; oh,
no, I do not mean you!

"_Lord, is it I?_" Thou hast said it, Judas. I made you an
Apostle, a pillar of my Church. I called you out of the world,
and took you to my bosom, as a dear friend. You have gone in and
out, and eaten and drunk with Me. Nay, you have just received My
Body and Blood, and all the while you hold the thirty pieces of
silver for which you have betrayed Me.

{34}

Now, then, I think I hear you say to me: Father, have I then done
this horrible thing? _Is it I? Is it I?_ No, my good man.
You have enjoyed for years your ill-got gains, but your health
has gone now. Declining years have come upon you, and you are
poor; you can never restore them again. Your communions are not
unworthy for this. But as for you, young man, why have you
presumed to come to the altar? Where are those thirty pieces of
silver for which you sold your soul? You promised in confession
that you would restore them, but why? that you might get your
Easter Communion. In your heart you said, Perhaps I will, some
day, and all the while, you knew that no absolution is valid
without the will to restore, or actual restitution when one is
able; and you _were_ able.

_Father, is it I?_ No, poor fellow. You forgot to mention in
your last confession, a very grievous sin, and only remembered it
just after you had left the altar. Do not be troubled. You tried
your best to examine your conscience, but this escaped your
memory.
{35}
It was forgiven with the rest. But what have you to say for
yourself, O drunkard? You did not leave out one of your many
nights of debauch; but what of that solemn promise to keep from
liquor for so long a time, which you have already so often
broken, as you had no intention of keeping it? You have drunk in
damnation with your liquor, and deeper damnation with your
communion.

_Father, is it I?_ No, poor girl. You should have known
better than to have trusted yourself to a deceiver with his
jewels and wine; but you have done penance. Your sobs in the
confessional have spoken for you. Your communion, though so soon
after your confession, was good. But what have you to say for
yourself, O adulterer, and adulteress? You, O adulterer; you
found a home where there were smiles, and fondness, and peace;
and what have you done? You have made it a home of jealousy and
strife. You have put estrangement between two hearts whom God
joined together, and said, "let no man put asunder." You have
robbed a fellow man of one of his most sacred rights given him in
the face of the Church.
{36}
And you, O adulteress, why have you come here? Our Lord said to
Judas, "_Friend, why hast thou come? dost thou betray the Son
of Man with a kiss?_" You knelt here at the altar-rail, and as
the Priest said to you, "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ
preserve thy soul unto everlasting life," you put up your lips,
and said, like Judas, Hail Master! and you kissed our Lord. Oh!
where was the Angel of the Blessed Sacrament then? An Angel was
placed at the gate of Eden with a flaming sword to keep guard
over the Tree of Life. Oh! where, I ask, was the Angel of the
Blessed Sacrament? Where was His guardian who said of Himself,
"_I am the bread that cometh down from Heaven, of which
whosoever eateth, he shall live forever!_" Preserve thy soul
unto everlasting life, indeed! It has prepared you for the
everlasting burnings; for the flames that shall never be
quenched. You went to confession, you say! Yes, I know you did,
and you concealed your sins of shame. You have added to these one
of sacrilege. And you, O slanderer, who have robbed your neighbor
of his character, by your lies and calumnies which you have never
told in confession, or if you have, which you never intend to
repair at the price of your own dishonor!
{37}
You have been drinking in your own judgment with the Blood of
Jesus. Jesus, judgment! Jesus, damnation! Why St. Bernard said,
the very name of Jesus "was music in his ear, honey in his mouth,
and joy to his heart." Jesus, damnation! Why St. Gabriel said
"_He shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from
their sins._" O cruel perversion of sin! to turn sweetness
into bitterness! But what does God say of such as these? "_When
you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away My eyes from you
and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear for your hands are
full of blood_." [Footnote 3]

    [Footnote 3: Isaias i., 15.]

Let me tell you a fact that a Jesuit told to one of our Fathers.
A young man in the neighborhood where he lived, was heir to a
large estate, which he was to receive at twenty-one years of age,
on the condition that at that time he frequented the Sacraments.
He turned out to be very wild and given up to sin. Near the end
of his twentieth year, he was reminded of the danger of his
losing the estate.
{38}
Never fear, said he, I'll easily manage that, and at once he
began to lead outwardly a very correct life. He was now seen at
Mass. He kept out of society, and public places of amusement.
Within a short time before his birthday, he went to confession;
and the morning came, when he was seen to go up to the altar-rail
for communion. The Priest placed the Blessed Sacrament on his
tongue, and had turned back to the altar, when he heard a
frightful shriek, and the words "My tongue! my tongue! it has
burned my tongue!" When the Priest returned to him, he said, "Oh
Father, forgive me, my confession was bad, I had been in the
secret commission of mortal sins which I purposely concealed. I
had no wish to forsake them, but only to secure my property; oh
Father, I repent, absolve me before I die!" The Priest took the
Blessed Sacrament from his tongue, and with much difficulty
consoled him with the promise of pardon. He made a good communion
soon after, and was put in possession of his estate, which he
sold, and gave to the poor, and in penance for his sins, doomed
his false tongue thenceforward to perpetual silence.

{39}

Tremble, then, dear brethren, at the thought of so grievous a
sin. For such as are guilty of it, there is but one thing to be
done. Come back to God with sorrow, now in this time of penance,
for, "_thus saith the Lord; if your sins be as scarlet they
shall be made as white as snow; and if they be red as crimson
they shall be as white as wool_." [Footnote 4]

    [Footnote 4: Isaias 1, 13.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Isaias i., 18.]

Confess your sacrilegious communions. Go and repair the scandal
you have given. Restore the goods you have stolen. Abandon the
companions of your guilt. Do this, and there will be joy before
the Angels of God, and with the Priests to whom you may confide
your conscience. If, in spite of all I have said, you live on
with the guilt of an unworthy communion, eternal woe will be your
portion; from which may God in His mercy deliver you, and all of us.
AMEN.

    ------------------

{40}

    Sermon III.

    Christ's Resurrection The Foundation Of Our Faith.


  "And when the Sabbath was past,
   Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome,
   brought sweet spices."
     --Mark xvi., 1.

  (From the Gospel for Easter Sunday.)

On this day, the bosom of the whole Church swells with
exultation. After the penance of Lent, after the mourning of Holy
Week, the countless disciples of the crucified and risen Saviour,
take up and echo through the whole earth the joyful cry--Christ
is risen! He is risen indeed. For this is the day on which Jesus
Christ, bursting the bonds of the sepulchre, triumphed over
death.
{41}
This is the day which, more than any other, enlivens our faith,
strengthens our hope of eternal salvation, and causes our hearts
to bound with spiritual joy. Even the coldest and most
indifferent Christian feels his bosom warm with some faint
sentiment, at least, of devotion on this day, and remembers with
pride that he bears the name and professes the faith of Jesus
Christ. This is right and proper. For all the doctrines of our
religion are centred in the resurrection. All our hopes are based
upon it. The Resurrection is the grand Fact of Christianity. It
is the proof of the Divinity of Jesus Christ; it is the seal of
God which makes the documents of our faith authentic; it is the
cause and the pledge of our final resurrection and eternal
happiness. This accounts for the joy which swells every true
Christian bosom, on this day. For, my dear brethren and I beg you
to note it well--the source of our hope and of our joy is in our
faith. It is the certainty of faith which banishes all doubt,
wavering, hesitation and gloom from the heart of a sincere and
fervent Catholic. The faith of the Resurrection must be firmly
planted in our minds, if we would have the hope of the
Resurrection, and the joy which springs from this hope, bright
and glowing in our hearts.
{42}
Let me therefore ask your attention this morning, while I
endeavor to show you what a firm and and immovable foundation we
have for our faith, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And in
doing so, I will endeavor to establish these three points:

_First_.--That Jesus Christ appealed to his future
resurrection, while he was yet alive, as the proof of his
Divinity.

_Second_.--That He actually raised himself from the dead, as
he had predicted, and,

_Third_.--That the Resurrection of Christ proves his Deity,
and with it, the entire Catholic faith.

May the grace of the risen Saviour increase our faith, through
the intercession of Mary, whose faith never wavered for an
instant, even beneath the Cross of her Son!


         I.

Jesus Christ asserted frequently and clearly to the Jews, that he
was God, and required them to believe him. So his disciples
understood him, who believed; so the Jews understood him, who did
not believe, but accused him of blasphemy and condemned him to
death.
{43}
The great sign, the miracle, the proof, to which he appealed to
justify this declaration, was his resurrection on the third day
after his death. He declared himself to be the proper and only
begotten Son of God. He that does not believe this, he says,
"_is already judged, because he believeth not in the Name of
the only-begotten Son of God._" [Footnote 5]

    [Footnote 5: John iii., 17.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is John iii., 18.]

This title of only-begotten which he gives himself, shows that he
does not merely claim to be a child of God by grace and adoption,
but by nature. This nature he declares positively is not his
human nature, but distinct from it, that it came from heaven, and
was in heaven as well as on earth. "_No man hath ascended into
heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of Man who is
in heaven_." [Footnote 6]

    [Footnote 6: John iii., 13.]

He confesses that he is man; but asserts that he is more than
man, that he came from heaven. He asserts also that this superior
nature which is joined with his humanity is eternal. "_Before
Abraham was--I am_." [Footnote 7]

    [Footnote 7: John viii., 58.]

Not I was; but _I am_, the word by which God made known his
eternity to Moses. And finally he declares that this super-human
and eternal nature is identical with that of his Father, is the
Divine nature itself. "_I and my Father are one_." [Footnote 8]

    [Footnote 8: John x., 38.]

{44}

His disciples who believed in him, understood him to teach his
divinity. "_My Lord and my God_." [Footnote 9] was the
expression of the faith of Thomas. "The Word was God," [Footnote
10] that of John.

    [Footnote 9: John xx., 28.]

    [Footnote 10: John i., 1.]

So the Jews understood him, who did not believe. "_The Jews
answered him: for a good work we stone thee not, but for
blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man_, MAKEST THYSELF
GOD!" [Footnote 11]

   [Footnote 11: John x., 33.]

The Jews understood then perfectly well, that in calling himself
the true, proper, and only Son of God, the Christ and Saviour of
the world; and in working miracles, forgiving sins, and preaching
salvation, in his own name, and by his own authority, and not as
a mere prophet--he asserted his own true and proper divinity, and
made himself God.

{45}

In support of this claim, Jesus Christ repeatedly appealed to his
resurrection. He foretold his death; and declared that he would
show himself to be the true Son of God the Father, having the
same divine nature and the same divine power with him; by raising
himself from the dead on the third day. "_The Son of Man shall
be in the heart of the earth, three days and three nights._"
[Footnote 12]

    [Footnote 12: Matt, xii., 40.]

This was said to the Scribes and Pharisees who wished him to give
them a sign which should prove him to be the true Christ. When he
drove out the men who were trafficking in the courts of the
Temple, the Jews said to him: "_What sign dost thou show unto
us, seeing thou dost these things? Jesus answered and said unto
them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
But he spoke of the temple of his body_." [Footnote 13]  It is
remarkable that he does not declare that he will be raised to
life by his Father, but by himself. "_I lay down my life that I
may take it again. No man taketh it away from me, but I lay it
down of my self, and I have power to lay it down and I have power
to take it up again_." [Footnote 14]

    [Footnote 13: John ii., 18-21.]

    [Footnote 14: John x.. 17-18.]

{46}

These are only samples of the frequent and public declarations
made by our Lord to the same effect. And it was so well known
among the Jews that he had staked his entire cause on his
resurrection, that they came to Pilate, immediately after his
crucifixion, and said to him: "_Sir, we have remembered that
that seducer said, while he was yet alive: After three days I
will rise again. Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded
until the third day._" [Footnote 15]

    [Footnote 15: Matt. xxvii., 63-64.]

Here, then, is the grand test of the truth of Christ's
doctrine--the grand sign of his divinity; the public challenge
which he gives to all his enemies. We have it on the testimony of
the most desperate haters of his name and doctrine; the very men
who nailed him to the Cross. They were resolved to prove his
prediction false, to show that he could not, and would not, rise
again, and thus to manifest him to the world as a seducer. At the
sepulchre of Jesus Christ, then, is the trial of strength between
them. The dead body of Jesus is on one side; the Jewish rulers,
the Roman governor, and a strong watch of soldiers on the other.
And Jesus Christ overcame; he actually did rise, as he had
foretold: "_resurrexit sicut dixit;_" and all their
precautions only served to furnish so many brilliant testimonies
to the fact, that he had fulfilled his word.

{47}

         II.

Picture to yourselves, if you can, the scenes of those three
memorable days! The Sun of Justice, the Light of the World, has
gone down in darkness. Jesus Christ is dead; he is buried, and a
great stone is rolled to the door of the sepulchre. The disciples
are scattered here and there, buried in the most profound and
bitter disappointment, consternation and grief. The multitudes
have fled hastily from Mount Calvary, some beating their breasts
with contrition, some blaspheming, but all in terror. The heavens
are overclouded and black, the thunder moans, and an earthquake
shakes the earth. The frightened inhabitants of Jerusalem, as
they return to their homes, are met in the streets by the pale
corpses of the dead, who have left their graves, and are
wandering about among the living. In the temple, those wicked and
unworthy priests are startled at the sudden tearing, by an
invisible hand, of the thick and heavy veil which hangs before
the Holy of Holies. An ominous stillness sinks over the city of
Jerusalem after that dreadful, tragical day. It is the eve of the
greatest Sabbath of the year.
{48}
The Sabbath morning dawns once more; all is apparently quiet, and
God does not appear, to take sudden vengeance on his guilty
people. Annas and Caiphas, and those other wicked priests who
have sacrificed the Lamb of God, with their souls all black and
turbid with remorse, but with a grim and diabolical exultation in
the success of their horrid work, prepare themselves in splendid
vestments for the sacrifices and the ceremonies of the day. The
countless multitudes of Jews, gathered together from every part
of the world to keep the Passover, crowd the vast courts of the
temple. The disciples remain shut up, in silence and in fear. The
Roman soldiers guard the shut and sealed sepulchre of Jesus. The
day passes and the night, and nothing occurs. The first streaks
of the dawn begin to appear in the sky on Sunday morning. The
disciples have forgotten the promise of their Master to rise on
the third day, and have lost heart entirely. Mary Magdalene, and
the other pious women, have planned to steal out early to visit
his tomb, and to bring their spices, and perfumes, and fresh
flowers, to cast upon his dead body.
{49}
They set forth together; while still in the distance, they are
frightened by the sight of torches and armed men in the garden.
They have not courage to go on; and they remember that a great
stone is at the door of the sepulchre, which will hinder their
entrance. Only the courageous and loving Mary Magdalene has the
hardihood to press forward at all risks, leaving the others
hovering about in the neighborhood of the garden. As she
approaches the sepulchre, she sees the stone rolled away to one
side; she pays no attention to the soldiers who are lying on the
ground, apparently stunned and insensible, but goes in, and the
body of Jesus Christ is not there; his grave-clothes are lying in
the spot where his body was placed, and an angel is watching the
empty sepulchre. Bewildered and surprised, and occupied only with
the thought that the body is gone, she runs hastily back to the
place where John and other apostles are staying, tells them in
breathless haste what she has seen, and without waiting for a
reply, returns as speedily as possible to the sepulchre.
{50}
Meanwhile, during Magdalene's absence, the other women observing
that the soldiers have left the gar-den, come also to the
sepulchre, see the stone rolled away, go in, and find two angels
sitting, one at the head, the other at the foot of the place
where Christ was laid. The angels tell them that Christ is risen,
and bid them go announce it to his disciples, and direct them to
meet him in Galilee, as he had commanded them before his death.
They now leave the garden to return to the city, and Magdalene
arrives once more, and while these things are happening the sun
has risen, the sun of the first Easter Sunday, the type of the
Risen Sun of Justice. Mary Magdalene goes into the sepulchre
again, and begins to weep, still too much occupied with the
thought that the body of Christ is gone, to reflect on any thing
else. She sees the angels; but to the questions: "_Woman, why
weepest thou? whom seekest thou?_" she answers distractedly,
"_They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have
laid him_." She turns around, and sees the figure of a man,
whom she takes to be the gardener, and asks him where they have
taken the body of Jesus. The well-known voice exclaims: "Mary!"
She suddenly recognizes the Lord, and utters a cry of joy: "Oh,
my Master!"
{51}
She tries to clasp him by the feet, but he forbids her, and bids
her go, announce his resurrection to the disciples. She sets off
immediately, and in a few moments Peter and John arrive, visit
the sepulchre, and see that the body is not there. They also
return to the city. Immediately after his interview with Mary
Magdalene, the Lord appears also to her companions, while they
are returning to their homes. He was also seen by Peter some time
during the day. Toward evening he joins two of the disciples, who
were going to Emmaus, a small village near Jerusalem, and
explains to them the prophecies of the Scripture concerning
himself, but is not recognized by them, until he blesses bread
and gives it to them, and then disappears from view. So the day
passes. First one arrives at the coenaculum, and relates his
story, then another, then others; the day passes in comparing
these different accounts, in conversing together, in expectation
of what is going to happen. When night draws on, the apostles and
disciples are gathered together for prayer; the two from Emmaus
come in just then, and relate their interview with the Lord, when
suddenly he appears among them, and says: "_Peace be unto
you._" So passes this day.
{52}
The four Evangelists give no regular and methodical account of
it. All these occurrences are related by some one or more of
them; and I have strung them together in an order in which they
might have happened, and which reconciles all the accounts with
each other.

Such is the narrative of the Gospel. Is it true? Did these things
really happen? In regard to one fact, Christians, Jews and Romans
were agreed. The body of Jesus Christ was removed from a closed
and sealed tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, by early dawn on the
morning of Easter Sunday. It was removed either by Divine power,
or by human ingenuity. The rulers of the Jews circulated the
report, which they have repeated to this day, that his disciples
came and stole him away, while the guard was sleeping. "What!"
exclaims St. Augustine, "you will prove your cause by sleeping
witnesses?" If they were asleep, they knew nothing of the way by
which the body disappeared. And if they were awake to see the
disciples steal it, why did they not kill them on the spot.
{53}
The guard were sleeping! A guard of Roman soldiers. Who can
believe that? For a Roman soldier to sleep at his post was an
extraordinary and most disgraceful thing, and here we have a
whole band of them, with an officer at their head--sleeping. The
punishment was death. In this case especially, no mercy could
have been expected, where both Roman and Jewish rulers were so
deeply interested in putting an end to the religion of Christ.
How did they dare confess their sleeping, unless they were in
connivance with the authorities, and bribed to repeat this story.
Why was no trial held? Why were not these soldiers examined
before a tribunal? Why was no search made for the body of Jesus,
and for his disciples? Why is the whole matter hushed up by
common consent between Pilate and Caiphas? There is only one
possible supposition. And that is: that the soldiers saw the
resurrection of the Lord--that they related it to their rulers,
and that by bribes and threats their testimony was suppressed. I
will not pause to accumulate arguments.
{54}
I will not speak of the impossibility that Jesus Christ should be
able to predict that his disciples would attempt such an
incredible task as the removal of his body, and succeed in it. I
will not speak of their timidity, and their perfect want of all
plan of action, all means of carrying out any project whatever;
of their complete perplexity and helplessness; and of the utter
madness of sacrificing all their worldly goods and their lives,
to carry out a manifest imposture. These things are so plain,
that reasoning only seems to weaken the effect with which they
strike conviction to the mind at the first statement.

I return to this simple fact, that the tale circulated by the
soldiers, in common with Pilate and the Jewish rulers, is a
complete and irresistible proof of the Resurrection. And there
are evidences in abundance that it was so regarded at the time,
that this incredible tale was only believed by the most stupid
and besotted portion of the populace, and by those who knew
nothing of the matter, except what they heard by vague rumors. We
have the testimony of Tertullian that even Pilate was convinced
of the truth of the resurrection, "Ea omnia super Christo
Pilatus, et ipse pro conscientia sua jam Christianus, Tiberio
renuntiavit." [Footnote 16]

    [Footnote 16: Apol., c. 21.]

{55}

Josephus, the Jewish historian, says of Christ, that "he appeared
to them alive again, the third day, as the divine prophets had
foretold." [Footnote 17]

    [Footnote 17: Antiq., Lib. xviii., c. 3.]

Justin Martyr, a most learned Jew, and an eminent philosopher of
the second century, who became a Christian, does not fear to
assert boldly to the Jews: "You know that Jesus was risen from
the dead and ascended into heaven, as the prophecies did foretell
was to happen." [Footnote 18]

    [Footnote 18: Dial. cum. Tryph., p. 230.]

The fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was so evident, that
it paralyzed for a time the efforts of the Jewish rulers to
suppress his doctrine. And months elapsed, during which this
doctrine made the most astonishing progress, before they dared to
put a disciple of Christ to death. It was the manifest fact of
the resurrection which caused the sudden and continuous growth
and propagation of the Christian Church. Jesus Christ was far
more powerful after his death than during his life. Not only did
several thousand of the most sincere and pious among the Jews of
Jerusalem and Judea, and of the strangers who had come to
celebrate the Passover, embrace Christianity, but "_a great
multitude of the priests also were obedient to the faith._"
[Footnote 19]

    [Footnote 19: Acts i.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Acts vi. 7.]

{56}

Nicodemus, one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Law, and
Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy and powerful Jew, and a member of
the grand council, who had previously been timid, and had
abstained from attaching themselves openly to Christ, came out
now publicly and announced themselves Christians. The centurion,
or Roman officer, who commanded the soldiers by whom Christ was
crucified, with the soldier who pierced the side of our Lord, and
several other soldiers, were converted. The tremendous impression
made by the resurrection of Christ on the whole Jewish nation,
was the cause which gave the impetus to this movement. And it was
the resurrection to which the apostles constantly appealed in
proof of the divine character of Jesus Christ, and the truth of
his doctrine.

{57}

         III.

Thus did Jesus Christ, by raising himself from the dead, as he
had foretold, redeem his pledge, and prove himself to be God.
Therefore the Scripture frequently speaks as if Jesus Christ were
made the Son of God by his resurrection. "He was," says St. Paul,
"_predestinated the Son of God in power, by the resurrection
from the dead._" [Footnote 20]

    [Footnote 20: Romans i., 4.]

That is, as St. Ambrose explains it--"He, whose deity was
concealed in the incarnation, was predestinated to declare and
manifest himself as the Son of God by his resurrection." During
his life, he declared himself to be God, and promised to raise
himself from the dead on the third day after his death, as a
proof of his divinity. He did rise from the dead; and the
resurrection is thus the grand proof of the central doctrine of
the Catholic faith, the divinity of Christ, and not only of that,
but also of every other doctrine connected with it and springing
from it--of the Catholic faith complete and entire. It proves not
merely the divinity of Christ, but the divinity of his words and
of his acts. His words are words of divine truth; his acts are
acts of divine power. The same Jesus who raised himself from the
dead, said, "_This is my body--This is my Blood;_" and if we
believe that he is truly God, we must believe that the Holy
Eucharist is indeed his flesh and blood.
{58}
The same Jesus who proved his divine power by raising himself
from the dead, transferred and delegated his power to St. Peter
and his successors, when he said--"_Thou art Peter, and on this
Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it, and I will give to thee the keys of the
kingdom of heaven; whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven_." It is in the Catholic Church that the
testimony to the resurrection, commenced by the first apostles,
is continued and passed down from age to age, by the unbroken
succession of popes and bishops. The apostles were the witnesses
of the resurrection. When the new apostle was to be appointed in
the place of Judas, St. Peter said--"_One of these must be made
a witness with us of his resurrection_." [Footnote 21]

    [Footnote 21: Acts i., 22.]

The Catholic priesthood, as it were, joining hands with each
other, run back in an unbroken line to the first fathers and
founders of their glorious order, who saw the risen Saviour, and
clasped the hands nailed to the cross.
{59}
Down this line has passed the uninterrupted, unbroken testimony
to the resurrection. This day itself, the festival, Easter, is a
grand monument of the resurrection. Every year, from this day
back to the day on which Christ rose from the dead, the whole
Christian Church has celebrated the resurrection of Christ on
Easter Sunday. Thus we all join hands with our predecessors in
past ages, until the long chain terminates in the little church
of the disciples, gathered together in the coenaculum, to whom
Christ appeared and said--"Peace be to you." And as we celebrate
these joyous festivities, which carry us back to the very days of
our Lord and his apostles, an electric shock of faith startles
and reanimates our souls. Yes; this is the day of faith. It is
the special festival of faith. The resurrection confirmed and
renewed the wavering, sinking faith of the disciples. "_The
Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared unto Simon._" These
words show how those fainting and almost despairing hearts
revived on that day. Oh! wretched and miserable men, such as
Pilate and Caiphas, and the besotted multitude, who did not,
would not believe--or at least would not act on their
convictions, and confess the truth!
{60}
Equally unhappy are those now, who have no faith; who do not
believe in the Son of God; who do not await the resurrection of
the dead; who believe in nothing, but pass their lives in
miserable and endless doubting and unbelief.

Equally unhappy are those who, though enlightened once in
baptism, and brought up from childhood in the Catholic faith, are
weak, wavering and hesitating in their faith; who neither believe
or disbelieve; who dare not renounce their religion, and yet will
not adhere to it firmly and profess it openly; but hang, as it
were, in the outskirts of faith, and around the courts of the
temple of Divine Truth.

Equally unhappy are those who, believing firmly, deny their faith
by their acts, and disobey the Lord whom they acknowledge to be
their true God and their final Judge; who, on the day when Christ
is risen from the dead, lie buried in the grave of mortal sin;
who have no part in his life and grace, and have not received his
Paschal sacraments.

{61}

But blessed are they who believe; whose hearts are full of faith,
and whose works correspond with that faith;--into whose bosoms
the Paschal joy has entered by the devout reception of the
Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, and who can look forward
with hope to the day of the general resurrection from the dead.
For all such good Christians, this is the brightest, the
happiest, the most glorious day of the whole year. All things
sympathize with the joy of the risen Saviour. The earth breaks
the icy bonds of winter, and starting from the state of
lifelessness, awakes to new life and growth and freshness. The
spring begins to appear, and the signs of approaching warmth and
of the time of buds and blossoms and green foliage show
themselves. The Church puts on her festal attire and sends up her
joyous hymns, and solemnizes her splendid ceremonies. The
faithful everywhere, leave their sins, do penance for their
misdeeds, weep at the foot of the cross, reconcile themselves
with God, and come with purified hearts to partake of the Paschal
Lamb--the flesh and blood of the Divine Jesus, in the blessed
Sacrament of the altar.
{62}
And while we go back in our thoughts to that day on which Christ
arose, the first-begotten from the dead, all these external signs
and ceremonies point also forward to that last Easter
Sunday--that day of the resurrection of all mankind. The change
and renovation of the earth in the season of spring, and the
resurrection of souls by the Paschal sacraments, and the solemn
celebration of Christ's resurrection, these are all types of that
glorious morning when the redeemed human race shall start from
its tomb; when the old things shall pass away, and all things,
the heaven and the earth, and all things that are in them, shall
be made anew. When the obscurity of faith shall give place to the
light of glory, and the hope of salvation shall be changed into
the beatific vision of God.

{63}

    Sermon IV.

    Giving Testimony.

    "You shall give testimony of me."
    --John xv., 27.

   (From the Gospel for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost.)


These words were spoken by our Lord to his disciples, before his
departure from this world. He had chosen them from the beginning,
and imparted to them a full knowledge of the truth, that they
might bear testimony to it. "_All things whatsoever I have
heard from my Father I have made known to you."--"I have chosen
you, and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring
forth fruit, and your fruit should remain._" [Footnote 22]

    [Footnote 22: John xv., 15, 16.]

{64}

The disciples did give testimony. They labored in season and out
of season in spreading the truths which they had learned from the
lips of our Saviour. "_Their sound went over all the earth, and
their words unto the ends of the world._" [Footnote 23]

    [Footnote 23: Rom. x., 18.]

Their testimony was not only in sound and words: their lives
testified to the truth which they preached. They suffered
persecution, poverty, imprisonment, and sealed their testimony to
the truth with their blood, by willingly laying down their lives
for it. These disciples were true to Christ. Their testimony was
faithful, loyal, heroic. We, too, are disciples of Christ, and
have our testimony to give; and I propose to show in the first
place, what are our obligations to give this testimony of Christ;
and in the second place, who are those who fail in their
obligations to give this testimony.

What are our obligations to give testimony of Christ? There are
many Christians who seem to think that they are at liberty to
choose what course of life they please, that they can live as
they like; that whether they attend to their religious duties or
neglect them, whether they are patterns of Christian virtue or
scandals to their faith, is nobody's business.

{65}

This opinion is false, most false, because all Christians are
under a lasting obligation to Christ to lead a Christian life.

Christ is our Lord and Master, and as such has a complete right
of control over all our actions. There can be no dispute about
this. "_You call me Master and Lord._" says he; "_You say
well, for so I am._" [Footnote 24]

    [Footnote 24: 1 John xiii., 13.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is
    John xiii., 13. (Gospel, not epistle.)]

Christ is not only our Master and Lord, but also our Creator,
"_for by Him all things were made that are made_." His
dominion over us is therefore absolute and supreme. In His
presence we are simply subjects, and have only duties to fulfil.

Christ as Man has the full right of purchase over us. He can
claim of us all our actions, for he redeemed us from the
captivity and slavery of sin. "_Knowing that you were not
redeemed_," says the Apostle Peter to the faithful, "_with
corruptible gold or silver from your vain conversation of the
tradition of your fathers; but with the precious blood of
Christ_." [Footnote 25]

    [Footnote 25: 1 Peter i., 18, 19.]

{66}

Can any one who listens to these words be so destitute of
intelligence and faith as to entertain the idea, for a moment,
that God created us and became man and died for us, only to leave
us at liberty to live as we please, and to sin as much and as
often as we like? No; says the Apostle Paul, "_Christ died for
all._" And why? Listen, faithless Christian: "_That they
also who live may not live to themselves, but to Him who died for
them, and rose again._" [Footnote 26]

    [Footnote 26: 1 Cor. v., 15.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is 2 Cor. v., 15.]

What is it to live to Christ? To live to Christ is, to live to
please Him; it is to follow in His footsteps and copy in our
lives His virtues. This is made clear from what the same Apostle
says in another place, on the same subject: "_Our Saviour,
Jesus Christ, gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from
all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people, acceptable,
pursuing good works_." [Footnote 27]

    [Footnote 27: 2 Titus ii., 14.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is: Titus ii., 14.]

A Christian, then, is one who lives to Christ by keeping free
from all iniquity and pursuing good works. This is the testimony
that Christ requires of us, and which we are bound to give by
every sacred obligation which binds us to Him as our Creator and
Redeemer.

{67}

Another reason why we are under obligation to give testimony of
Christ by leading an exemplary life, is that Christ came into the
world not only to be our Redeemer, but also our Model. Hear him:
"_You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am,
.... and if I, then, being your Lord and Master have given you an
example, as I have done to you, so you do also_." [Footnote
28]

    [Footnote 28: St. John xiii. 13, 14, 15.]

For is there any one so uninstructed as not to know that it was
wholly unnecessary for Jesus Christ to practise on his own
account, humiliations, poverty, obedience, self-denial, meekness,
and embrace the sufferings and bitter death of the cross. He
practised these virtues in order to induce us to practise them,
for these were due to us as punishment for our sins, and
necessary for us as preservatives against our vices. God became
man to teach men by example how they ought to live. "_Christ
suffered for us,_" says the apostle St. Peter, "_leaving you
an example, that you should follow his steps_." [Footnote 29]

    [Footnote 29: 1 Peter ii., 21.]

He then is false and faithless to his obligations, who claims the
name of a Christian, and does not follow in Christ's footsteps.
No Christian, then, has the right to live as he likes, but is
bound to live as Christ likes.

{68}

The Holy Church too, has a right to exact from us the obligation
to lead an exemplary life. For as in a flock of pigeons, on
seeing one fly all the others follow, so it is in the society of
the Church, the good example of one member encourages and edifies
the whole body. That you may understand the watchfulness and
jealousy of our Lord over his flock, listen to his own language:
"_He that shall scandalize one of these little ones that
believe in me, it were better that a mill-stone were hanged about
his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea. ...
Woe to that man by whom scandal cometh._" [Footnote 30]

    [Footnote 30: Matt, xviii., 6. 7.]

The Church has not only the right to claim from us to follow in
Christ's footsteps for the sake of believers, but also for the
unbeliever. According to the words of Christ: "_Let your light
so shine before men that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father in heaven_." [Footnote 31]

    [Footnote 31: Matt, v., 16.]

It is more by the testimony of a good example than by miracles,
that unbelievers are brought to the light of truth. This is
illustrated by the example of the martyr St. Lucien.
{69}
It is related of him by Surius, that he led many unbelievers to
the knowledge of the truth and to embrace the Catholic faith, by
the modesty of his life and his exemplary conduct. So powerful
was the influence of his example, that the Emperor Maximilian,
when seated upon his throne and about to condemn him to death,
commanded that he should be kept out of his view, behind a veil,
lest even the mere sight of the saint should change him into a
Christian. Is it not then with good reason St. John Chrysostom
says: "There would be no heathens were we such Christians as we
ought to be. ... Paul was but a man, yet how many did he draw
after him! If we were all such as he, how many worlds might we
have drawn to us!" [Footnote 32]

    [Footnote 32: 1 Tim. Hom, x.]

How was it St. Paul attracted so many to Christ? He tells us
himself, in these words: "_Give no offence to the Jews, nor to
the gentiles, nor to the church of God; as I also please all men
in all things, not seeking that which is profitable to myself,
but to many; that they may be saved._" [Footnote 33]

    [Footnote 33: 1 Cor. x., 31, 32.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is: 1 Cor. x., 32-33.]

{70}

It is clear, then, beyond all dispute, that every one who claims
the name of a Christian is bound by a lasting and sacred
obligation to give testimony to Christ by following in his
footsteps, and consequently those who fail are guilty of robbing
their Lord and Master of his rights, and are no true Catholics,
but traitors to the faith.

Who are they who fail to give this testimony of Christ? I will
tell you.

You will find many who were born of Catholic parents, were
baptized in the faith when young, and yet never acknowledging the
faith of their fathers, and of their baptism. They are not open
apostates, they neither attack their faith, nor defend it when
attacked. You might know them for years and not dream that they
were Catholics. It is hard to tell what they really are. They are
not Protestants, nor Jews, nor Turks, for these have religious
convictions, and do not deny them, but the men I speak of either
have no religious convictions, or want the manliness to
acknowledge them. They do not like to be known as Catholics, and
yet they identify themselves publicly with free-masons,
odd-fellows, and similar secret societies.

{71}

Another class consists of those who confess themselves Catholics,
but never, or very rarely, enter the Church. They take offence at
the slightest irregularity, whether it be in the priesthood, or
the preaching, or in the manner of conducting public worship; and
under some such pretext they excuse their grievous neglect of
worship, and their profound indifference to all the sacred duties
of religion. These claim the name of Catholic, and their conduct
is that of an infidel.

A third class is composed of those who now and then on occasion
of a jubilee or a mission, or some similar event, come to Church,
and perhaps receive the holy sacraments. Their religion is like a
fire in the straw, it soon dies out. Talk to these men of their
business, and they will tell you that a man who does not watch
and pay constant attention to it, will soon find himself
bankrupt. Speak to them of the affairs of the nation, and they
will tell you that the country is going to ruin, because its
citizens neglect to attend political meetings and fail to
approach the polls at election times. On business, or politics,
on almost every thing but their religion, they reason correctly,
and act like sensible men; on their duties to God and the affairs
of their soul they appear to be as destitute of reason as they
are of loyalty. Money is their God, and their religion is
politics.

{72}

The fourth class is made up of the rank and file of
sinners--cursors, drunkards, and the army of grog-shop keepers.
These latter, under the pretext of making a living, spread more
misery, wretchedness, and crime among our people, than all the
plagues of Egypt brought upon the inhabitants of that land. The
source of nine-tenths of the scandal to our holy religion is in
the grog-shops; and to make the scandal of their vile and
unlawful traffic more conspicuous, they congregate by preference
in the neighborhood of a Church, justifying the well-known
proverb:

  "Where God erects a house of prayer,
   Satan must have a chapel there."

The grog-shop keepers are the worst enemies of our holy religion
in this country, for they not only occasion the destruction of a
vast number of Catholics, but by the disgust which their bad
example creates, they offer the greatest hindrances to the
conversion of non-catholics.

{73}

These are some out of the great number of those who fail to give
testimony of Christ; for we have not the time to enumerate all.
Now, what is very strange, and yet characteristic of all these,
they appear to live as though they were unconscious of their
obligations, and of the guilt which they incur. They seem to
think that if they are allowed to assume the name of a Christian
or Catholic, they are safe. Well then, asks one, why not exclude
them from the Church altogether, so that the whole world can see
what they are? This is the way we do away with unprofitable
subjects in other institutions. Take, for example, a railroad
corporation. Sometimes a company of this kind starts with great
prospects. The number who travel on the road is prodigious. The
stockholders congratulate themselves on a heavy dividend; when to
their wonder, on reckoning up their accounts, they find the
company running fast into bankruptcy. Investigations are made,
and it is discovered that a large number of the passengers have
been paying no fare, riding as "dead-heads." These being struck
off, the corporation begins to prosper again. Not so with the
holy Church. She is in this respect unlike all other
institutions. She is likened by her Founder to a field of wheat,
in which the enemy had sown cockle.
{74}
And when one of the servants said to the master: "_Wilt thou
that we go to gather it up? and he said, no; lest while you
gather up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with
it. Let both grow until the harvest; and in the time of harvest,
I will say to the reapers, gather up first the cockle, and bind
it into bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into my barn._"
[Footnote 34]

    [Footnote 34: Matt, xiii., 28-30.]

The time to cut off the faithless children, the "dead-heads" of
the Church, is not now, but "in the harvest time," the day of
general reckoning, when our Lord shall appear in power and
majesty to judge the world. Then he will say to these: "I am your
Lord and Master, why have you not obeyed me?" He will show them
his wounds, and say: "Behold the price I paid to redeem you from
sin! What right had you to refuse my service? I came upon earth
to give an example that you might follow my steps, and you turned
your back upon me! You were a scandal to the Church, and a
stumbling-block in the way of others. You refused to give
testimony to my mercy, now you shall give testimony to my
sovereign justice. Gather up this cockle, these faithless, false,
treacherous disciples," he will say to his servants, "and let
their portion be in the pool which burns with fire and
brimstone." [Footnote 35]

    [Footnote 35: Apoc. xxi., 8.]

{75}

Could but our voice reach the ears, and our entreaties penetrate
the hearts of these guilty Catholics, we would lift it up and cry
out to them: Do penance speedily! Repair by a good example the
evil which your bad example has caused to your neighbor. Strive
to gain more souls to Christ than your wicked life has lost to
him heretofore. Let your good works shine out the more, so that
like the servant of the eleventh hour, you may obtain the full
wages of eternal life.

As for you, dearest brethren, who have manfully withstood until
now all temptations to be disloyal to your faith, whose lives,
full of good works, have borne noble testimony to Christ, lift up
your eyes and hearts to heaven at this season of our Lord's
ascension. "_I go,_" he says, "_to prepare a place for
you. I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I
am, you may be also_." [Footnote 36]

   [Footnote 36: John xiv., 2, 3.]

    -------------------

{76}

   Sermon V.

   Spiritual Death.


  "Behold! a dead man was carried out."
  --St. Luke vii., 12.

  (From the Gospel of the 15th Sunday after Pentecost.)


What a touching occasion was this, in which our Blessed Lord was
pleased to manifest his power, and perform one of his many acts
of infinite mercy; an act, which like all his miracles, was not
only full of loving-kindness to those for whom it was performed,
but also replete with spiritual instruction for all.

A widow is bereaved of her only consolation, a son, in whom were
centred all her hopes, in whose happiness all her own was bound
up; the pride of her eyes, her joy in adversity, and the sunshine
to her poor heart in the cloudy days of sorrow.

{77}

Perhaps, too, he was her only support; his the arm which labored
for their daily bread, and she looked forward to the time when
age and gray hairs should bring infirmity, and her enfeebled body
tremble on the verge of the grave; then would he be the light to
her dimmed eyes, and a guide to her tottering steps.

And now, alas! he is gone! Is the world all dead? Is it always
night? Do the birds sing no more? Are the earth and sky all
wrapped in a great, gloomy mantle of grief? Where is her heart,
does it beat no more? Ah! so it is indeed to her.

How she watched him in the long hours of his racking pains, his
burning fever. At times he did not know her; _her_, his own
dear mother. Oh! how she prayed for him. Oftentimes, as he lay
upon his dying bed unconscious, she would kneel down beside him,
and take his thin wasted hand in hers, and lift up her streaming
eyes to God, the Father of the fatherless, and pour forth her
soul in an agony of supplication, beseeching Him to spare her
only son, her life, her all.

{78}

In vain. That hand grows cold within her grasp; those eyes, which
erewhile were so full of expression, have assumed a dull glassy
unmeaning stare, there is one shuddering convulsion, the
breathing ceases, his jaw drops, and she is a broken-hearted,
childless widow. That body, once so cherished and tenderly cared
for, must soon be removed far away out of sight, and now, amid
the lamentations of a sympathizing multitude, they carry it to
the grave. She feels her loss so keenly that the very carriers of
the bier seem to her to be heartless and unfeeling. Thus the
scene in the Gospel opens: "_Behold, a dead man is carried
out_." I know that poor widow. I have seen that dead man, her
only son, the cherished idol of her heart, many a time. I know
well those bearers, and they are assuredly most heartless and
unfeeling. I have seen the Lord stop them on their way, as they
carried him to the portals of death and hell.

Would you know who they are? Sinner! offspring of Holy Mother
Church, part and parcel of her own life, who by sin hast lost the
life of grace; it is thou! Behold thou art the dead man who is
carried out. Contemplate thyself as in a mirror in this example
from the Holy Gospel.

{79}

The Church has done for you all, aye, and more than this poor
widow did, or could do, for her only son.

She has given you a noble birth in Jesus Christ. She nourished
you, watched over, and cared for you, in your infancy. She
flattered herself, poor mother, that you would do honor to her
one day; she looked forward to the time when you would become her
support. She was so bound up in you, that she often exclaimed
with a truth, "Why do I live if it be not for my child?" Her very
occupation, her unceasing labors were for you. How proud she was
to see you increasing in grace with God and men, your manly soul
strong in virtue; your conscience bright and fair to look upon as
the face of an angel, thrilling her maternal heart with gladness,
as she beheld reflected there the lineaments of the sacred
countenance of her Divine Spouse.

Alas! that any thing so bright? and beautiful should ever know
decay or death!

Hear the sad story. Disease came. Sin entered into your soul, as
does the insidious pestilence into the very marrow of the bones.
And now the frightened mother looks with dismay upon your changed
features.
{80}
You are becoming emaciated, your soul, starving in sickness, is
no longer cheerful with the love of God. Although so haggard and
so woebegone, there is yet the hectic flush of the fever of
passion. At times in the height of that fever your mind wanders:
you do not know her, _her!_ your own dear mother? So low has
sin brought you, so far has sin abased you, that you have
forgotten your noble descent and your glorious destiny. The crime
of disobedience to the law of God has done its work, and that
soul which once walked so proudly erect now lies completely
prostrated.

Oh! how that Mother Church prays for you! With outstretched arms
to heaven she implores the divine mercy. "_Spare, O Lord, spare
thy people, and give not thine heritage to reproach_." Leave
me not alone without this only son of my heart, for whom Christ
died! But you are in your agony now, and hear nothing. You are
not moved to tears, as you would be, if you could but hear those
agonizing prayers.
{81}
You lie indifferent to all around, while the disease fastens upon
your very vitals: one sin after another, one temptation given way
to after another, until the life-blood of your soul has frozen in
its channels: and before your weeping, inconsolable mother, the
Church--before God, and in sight of His holy Angels and Saints,
you are dead! dead!! dead!!!

Like the fruitless church of Sardis, in the Apocalypse: "_Thou
hast a name that thou livest, but art dead_." [Footnote 37]

    [Footnote 37: Apoc. iii., 1.]

What are the signs, my brethren, by which you would pronounce a
man dead? Surely, that he has no longer the use of any of his
senses; that he can neither see, hear, taste, touch nor smell. If
nothing remained to him but faint breathing, and a fluttering,
feeble pulse, you would already weep for him as lost to you, and
consider it only as the matter of a few moments to draw the sheet
over his face, and prepare his shroud.

Now this is just the deplorable state of a man in mortal sin.

{82}

Let me illustrate this. If you saw a person walking upon a
railroad track, and the train came thundering along directly in
front of him, and yet he proceeded on his way, totally unmindful
of your shouts and warnings of danger, you would throw up your
hands and exclaim: "Ah! God have mercy on him, poor man; he must
be totally blind and deaf--he is as good as dead." And so he is
in effect; for the train passes over him, and scatters his
mangled body hither and thither. Of what use to him was his power
of motion? He had the name of a living man, and is dead. So death
is coming upon you, sinner, sudden and destructive. How many
sermons have you not heard upon that awful subject? How many
warnings have you not had in the deaths, ever unlocked for, alas!
too often unprovided for, among your friends, acquaintances, and
in the very bosom of your family. You hear not, you see not; no
warning will turn you from your fatal track. You are as good as
dead.

If you saw a young girl walking to the brink of one of those
dreadful precipices formed by the lofty palisades on the North
River, and, despite the cries of her friends, she continued her
walk, gazing up at the sky, would you not say: "Ah! poor thing,
she must be killed; she is as good as dead."
{83}
Oh, young woman, you are walking upon the brink of a precipice,
by your dangerous familiarities, your late hours, your improper
company-keeping; and despite the cries of your father, your
mother, the pleadings of your friends, and the warning voice of
your confessor, your heedlessness in sin will destroy you, body
and soul, and you must lose reputation, honor, salvation,
eternity. Deaf to the voice of God, you are as good as dead.

Jesus daily prepares his divine banquet for you; but, alas! you
have lost your spiritual taste for that heavenly food, and there
is no life in you--you are dead; according to the words of the
divine Saviour: "_Amen, Amen. I say unto you, Except ye eat the
flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have
life in you_." [Footnote 38]

    [Footnote 38: St. John vi., 54.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is: St. John vi., 53.]

The Lord strikes you with afflictions of various kinds: disease,
loss of friends, misfortune in your business. He sends his angel
of death to your very doors; but you are insensible to his
chastisements: they affect you no more than if you were a statue
of marble. Is not this to be indeed dead?

{84}

"_You have put on malediction as a vestment, and it has entered
like water into your veins, and as oil into your bones_."
[Footnote 39]

    [Footnote 39: Psalms cviii., 18.]

    [Transcriber's note: Psalms cviii ends at verse 14.]

Yes; corruption has commenced; you have become offensive as a
corpse, of bad odor, and scandalous to the Christian community.
The finger is pointed at you, your bad life is every where spoken
of, but you do not believe it; like a corpse, you are not
sensible of the disgust you excite. As the sister of Lazarus said
to the Lord: "_It is now four days since he died, and already
he stinketh_." Four days! Why, it is four months--four
years--forty years, since _you_ died--since you committed
mortal sin, and continued in it, oh! unrepentant sinner; and you
have become insupportable. You have reaped the blasting curse you
sowed: "_For he that soweth in the flesh, of the flesh also
shall reap corruption_," the words of this day's Epistle.
[Footnote 40]

    [Footnote 40: Gal. vi., 8.]

Your dead soul is in the hands of the bearers, your companions in
sin, your fellow cursers and blasphemers. The grog-shop keepers
have got hold of you, and every step is a closer approach to the
tomb, the gates of hell, the last home of fornicators, liars, and
drunkards.
{85}
How insensible you lie in their hands! The multitude may weep, in
company with your poor mother, piercing cries and sobs which are
heard throughout heaven and hell, but make no impression on your
dull ears. No! there is no sound [that] can wake you now, but the
voice of Jesus Christ, or the last trump which will summon your
guilty soul to judgment.

Will that voice of Jesus Christ be heard? I know not. Will the
Lord be moved to pity toward his weeping Church? I know not. Will
he touch the bier upon which you are stretched stark dead, and
command those companions of yours in sin to stop? I know not.
Will Jesus arrest the steps of that infamous woman, of those
debased, pitiless, heartless, unfeeling dram-sellers? (Did I not
say that the widow was right--that they are heartless and
unfeeling?) I know not. What I do know is that, if Jesus is not
moved to pity, if he does not strike fear into the heart of that
young man or woman, your companion in sin, if the arm of the
vengeance of Christ does not fall upon that grog-shop keeper,--no
other sound will waken you, so dead in sin, but that one upon the
Last Day, which rather than to hear, it were better for you to
sleep in eternal oblivion.

{86}

"Ah! father," you say, "that's dreadful doctrine." Yes; and there
is something more dreadful about it. It is true. What saith the
Apostle? "_It is impossible for those who were once illuminated
and have tasted the heavenly gift, and are fallen away, to be
renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son
of God, and making him a mockery._" [Footnote 41]

    [Footnote 41: Heb. vi., 4-6.]

What does this mean but that, when one has fallen away into
mortal sin, it is as impossible for him to do any thing toward
the salvation of his soul, as it is for a dead man to raise
himself to life. Lay it to heart--a most important truth--that
Almighty God owes you nothing; is not bound, nor has he promised,
to give you grace beyond a certain degree; while he has most
emphatically warned the sinner that the time will come, and who
knows--oh! dreadful thought--but that it has already arrived for
you, when he will withdraw his countenance from you, and leave
you to the fate you have chosen, and so justly merited. Every
child has amused himself on the banks of the river or brook,
watching the eddies caused by the meeting of contrary currents,
and observing how the brown leaves which have fallen from the
trees into the stream are suddenly caught in the circling current
and whirled about, approaching at each revolution nearer the
centre of it.
{87}
Now, we are told by travellers, that in the vast ocean there are
powerful and dangerous eddies of this sort, called whirlpools;
and that large ships, if allowed to sail within their influence,
are drawn in, and carried round and round, no longer obedient to
the sails or rudder, and at last are completely swallowed up in
the yawning vortex of whirling waters.

Oh! unrepentant sinner: you are the brown leaf, fallen from the
tree of life into the water of iniquity. You are the ship which
has lost its compass, and strayed within reach of the dizzy
whirlpool. God stood upon the calm open sea, and each time that
you came around he warned you of your danger. He did more; he
sent strong and sufficient breezes of his holy grace; if you had
taken advantage of them in trimming the sails, and putting up the
helm, you might have escaped.
{88}
How many times did he not thus attempt your rescue: but you
heeded him not. There was even something pleasant and
intoxicating to be thus carried along in the powerful stream; and
now you go faster and faster, nearer and nearer, until the
yawning abyss opens upon your gaze, and you send forth a shriek
for help, a cry of despair. But you are so dizzy that you cannot
descry the form of God upon the sea. It is well; it would double
your agony to see him now, for he has turned his back upon you;
or worse, is mocking you, and laughs you to scorn. "_Because I
called and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and there was
none that regarded. You have despised all my counsel, and have
neglected my reprehensions. I also will laugh in your
destruction, and will mock when your fear cometh. When sudden
calamity shall fall on you, and destruction as a tempest shall be
at hand; when tribulation and distress shall come upon you; then
shall they call upon me, and I will not hear_." [Footnote 42]

    [Footnote 42: Prov. i., 24-28.]

{89}

There is no help for you now. Your cries of distress, and prayers
and entreaties are drowned in the thundering din of the rushing
waters: as our Lord prophesied. "_Upon the earth distress of
nations, men withering away for fear, by reason of the confusion
of the roaring of the sea, and of the waves_." [Footnote 43]

    [Footnote 43: St. Luke xxi., 25.]

What is that which is glimmering white like a sail upon the
waves? Can it be a friendly ship coming to your rescue? Hark!
Tramp, tramp, over land, over sea. Why does that sound send a
shuddering thrill of horror through every nerve? 'Tis no sail.
'Tis a pale horse, and he that rideth thereon is Death. Tramp!
tramp! over land, over sea! Oh! woe betide thee, wretched sinner;
thine hour is come. One last cry, and the waters of iniquity have
closed over you forever! Oh, God! have mercy on poor sinful men,
and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out
their iniquities. If thy people Israel shall have sinned against
thee, and thou in thine anger hast delivered them up into the
hands of their enemies, and they return to thee with all their
heart, and confessing to thy name shall come, and pray, and make
supplication to thee, then hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling
place, their prayers; and forgive thy people, and have compassion
upon them, and help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed by thy
precious blood.
{90}
What answer dost thou make, O dearest Lord?--"_He that heareth
you heareth me_." [Footnote 44]

    [Footnote 44: St. Luke x., 16.]

Thy words, O Jesus, are truth and life. Thou hast commanded thy
priests, the ministers of thy word, to speak in thy name; to
stand in the path of sinners on the way to destruction, and make
thy voice to be heard, ("_Arise! thou that sleepest, and awake
from the dead!_") as thou didst to the only son of the widow
of Nain. "_Be not deceived,_" says the holy Apostle in the
Epistle of this day. "_God is not mocked._" "_He that
despiseth you despiseth me_." [Footnote 45]

    [Footnote 45: St. Luke x., 16.]

In the name of God, then, obedient to the charge which I,
although unworthy, have received from the Lord Jesus, I say unto
you, arise! Arise from those disastrous habits of sin, which are
dragging you down to death and hell. Abandon, once for all, those
horrid haunts of vice and immorality. Put away all those
obscenities, evil speakings, and cursings, from your lips; of the
which I tell you, as has been already foretold you, that they who
do such things, shall not obtain the kingdom of God. Young man, I
say unto thee, arise!
{91}
Oh! wretched parents, whose miserable home is a very school of
Satan to your hapless children; whose daily lives are as an open
book before their eyes, every leaf of which is blotted and
blurred with drunkenness and disorder--I say unto you, oh, wicked
father, oh, slothful mother, arise! You, young woman, over whose
head ruin and shame are hanging, arise! send that young man away
to-night.

You who have dealt out disgrace, dirt, delirium tremens, ruin,
and the wrath of God, by the measure, to your poor fellow sinner,
and upon whose guilty head will fall a double weight of woe--I
say unto _you_, arise! turn to the Lord, and perhaps he will
have mercy upon you. Do penance, do penance! and think not to say
within your hearts: We have Abraham for our father; we have the
Church for our mother--she will watch over us Catholics, and
before it is too late, snatch us from the jaws of hell. I say
unto you, sinner, you are deceiving yourself with a lie, and your
supine indifference proves you to be of that un-happy number
described in Holy Writ, who resisted so long to the Divine call,
that, hardened in iniquity, God gave them over to believe a lie.
{92}
Thus, instead of your faith saving you, it will only be a surer
cause of your damnation. Oh! you hope in the mercy of God. Poor
soul! God, notwithstanding his mercy, permitted you to fall into
your present deplorable state. Why shall he not permit you to
fall into eternal death, which, howsoever terrible and hopeless,
is not so bad, so evil after all, as your spiritual death: for so
say the Doctors of Holy Church. "The punishment of sin is less
than the guilt."

Between spiritual and eternal death there is but a step--taken
every day by one or another in this sinful world--and that is the
death of the body; and if it happens to you to-day, without
doubt, without remedy or resource, you will find yourself
eternally lost; which may God avert from every one of you. Amen.

   ---------------

{93}

       Sermon VI.

    The Love Of God.


  "And one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him:
  Master, which is the great commandment of the law? Jesus said
  to him: Thou shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart,
  and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind."
  --St. Matt, xxii., 35-37.

  (From the Gospel for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost.)


This doctor of the law had no good motive in asking his question.
He was full of malice, and desired, not to learn any thing good
himself, but to entrap our Lord. But God knows how to draw good
out of evil. Though the lawyers intention was bad, his question
was a good one; the very best question that he could have asked,
and the answer to it one of vast importance to us, involving all
our interests for eternity.
{94}
Let us to-day consider well the meaning of the answer given by
our Blessed Saviour in the words of the text. In the first place,
what does he mean by the love of God? and in the second, what
degree of this love must we practise?

What is the love of God, or in what does it consist? Many have a
false idea of it. They think it is exactly the same as earthly
love, the love of relations or friends. They know what that kind
of love is. They exercise it without difficulty. Why? because it
is spontaneous; it is a flowing out of the heart, an emotion or
feeling. They cannot _feel_ the same love for God as for
their friends, and therefore they conclude it is of no use to try
to love God. They make a great mistake. God is a pure spirit, not
to be seen, heard, or taken notice of by the senses, and
therefore, in the very nature of things, He cannot always be
loved with that same emotion or feeling that springs up in our
hearts, without effort, toward our neighbors and friends of flesh
and blood. Indeed God, considered as an infinite being, with all
his vast and unlimited perfections, seems in some way separated
from us and our thoughts, which makes a difficulty in feeling
emotions of love to Him.
{95}
The essence of the love of God is not in emotion or feeling, but
in our reason and will. Faith reveals Him to us, and we
acknowledge Him with our reason to be infinitely wise and
infinitely good, and worthy of all our love. The true love of God
consists, then, in acknowledging Him with our reason to be what
He is, and in the will to do that which is pleasing to Him.

The other kind of love--of feeling--may accompany this true love
of God or it may not. It is of no consequence whether it does or
not. We have no right to expect it, for God will grant it just as
far as He sees good for us and no farther. It will come,
generally, as the result of habits of virtue, of a long course of
action, in imitation of His holy perfections. We must learn to
know Him and prize Him in order to feel love for Him.

That this is the true idea of the love of God is clear from the
Holy Scriptures. In the Gospel of St. John it is thus described:
"_For this is the charity of God, that we keep his
commandments_." It is not said: The love of God is in a
delightful feeling that possesses one without any effort on his
part.
{96}
That would be very pleasant and very easy. No; that is not said.
But the meaning of what is said is, that the love of God is in
the will and determination to keep his commandments. In another
place it is said in plain terms: "_He that hath my commandments
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me_." As much as to
say: If your mind and will are directed to me in such a way that
you keep my commandments, don't be worried or afraid, you do most
truly love me. Now this ought to console any one who really and
truly wants to love God, for we see that it lies in his power to
do so. He need not go into raptures of fervor. He need not fly in
the air in an ecstasy. He need not see visions or work wonders.
He need not practise extra ordinary fasting or austerity, or
spend whole nights in prayer. He need only have a determination,
let him feel well or ill, that he will honestly and sincerely act
so as to be agreeable to God, and he loves Him. Let him go on
acting in that way and he will soon love Him exceedingly, far
more than any thing in this world.
{97}
Another argument that proves conclusively that this is the true
love of God, comes from this very command of our Lord Jesus
Christ: "_Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole
heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind_." The
love of God is commanded. Now God commands nothing impossible,
nothing, in short, which is very difficult to set about. As he is
a God of infinite goodness and love, the bare idea of such a
thing is wholly repugnant to right reason and common sense. If He
had commanded us to exercise a sensible love--one of feeling--we
might justly complain and say: I cannot fulfil it; that is a
thing beyond my control. We have to set about a practical
love--keeping his commandments, that is a business we can give
our mind and attention to, as we would to farming, building,
doctoring, or any other business. If a man will set about the
business of practically acting according to the will of God, he
will add every day to his stock of love and to his merit in
heaven. This is a rich mine; it is inexhaustible; out of this
mine is drawn the pure gold of charity to God, richer and more
abundant than all the mines of California or Australia.

{98}

But what degree of this love must we exercise in order to obtain
everlasting life? A high degree of it: not a low measure of it,
but a large and liberal one if we would make our calling and
election sure. Our Lord's answer to the question indicates that
beyond mistake: "_Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart and all thy soul and all thy mind_." That sounds strong;
that sounds hard; words could hardly be put together to convey a
stronger meaning. It would seem to mean that all our thoughts and
desires and actions should be engrossed and taken up with God and
eternity, so as to leave room for nothing else. This would indeed
be hard, and it would be absurd, considering the order of things
which God has established in the world. God created us to live in
society and the most of us for society, to play our part in it,
to bring up families of children--to put bread and butter in
their mouths, and clothes on their backs. We cannot then abandon
the world, and we must devote our attention to its affairs: we
must give a reasonable attention to do them well, for the
advantage of ourselves and those connected with us. What is the
meaning, then, of loving with one's whole heart and soul and
mind?

{99}

We must have our will and determination directed in the first
place to God and to keeping his commandments, leaving every thing
else to the second place. A man must be determined to keep God's
commandments in spite of every obstacle, in spite of every
temptation. He must be determined to keep them all, that is, at
least, to avoid every mortal sin. He must be determined not only
for the present, but so long as the breath is in his body. If he
falls short of this, he does not love God with all his heart and
soul and mind; he does not do what is necessary to obtain
everlasting life, and he will not obtain it.

It is required by God, as an essential condition to our
salvation, that we should be habitually in the determination to
keep free from every mortal sin. What can be more just? We
acknowledge him as our Creator, and as infinitely wise and
infinitely good. He is rightly our sovereign Lord and Master, and
can command what he chooses--there is an equal obligation on our
part to obey him. Is it asking much, that we shall be habitually
obedient? Any thing short of this he could not require--we could
not expect. Is it for Him to be dependent upon our moods and
humors, finding us true to-day and false to-morrow?

{100}

Oh! you say, is that all that is required of us to insure our
salvation--to keep clear of mortal sin? That is nothing new; we
knew that all along; to go that far is not much; we can do that
easily enough. Can you, indeed? Perhaps it is easy enough to
avoid mortal sin for a time, when there is fervor, or particular
grace, or little temptation; but is it easy to do so for one's
whole life? Is it easy to do so when one's fervor is worn off,
and distractions of all kinds occupy the mind, and when in this
state strong temptations beset one? Who ever says this, shows
that he has little knowledge of himself, and little experience in
affairs of the soul. You may avoid sin a little while, but you
will fall, as sure as you live, if your mind is not set against
sin, actively and habitually, so as to turn away from it with
horror in the moment of temptation. No; in order not to fall, our
whole life must be directed toward God. The eternal truths,
heaven, hell, death, judgment, must pass frequently through our
minds and take up our thoughts. In the words of Scripture, we
must keep our lamps trimmed, and well supplied with oil, lest
they go out.
{101}
Our souls must be trimmed with holy meditations, and the oil of
good works supplied in abundance must keep the flame of love to
God burning brightly in our hearts, or else it will go out. It
will fade away gradually for want of nourishment, until it is
gone. We cannot keep clear even of mortal sin, unless we are
thoroughly in earnest about it, and make a business of it. When
our Lord says, "Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and
thy whole soul, and thy whole mind," He means to say: Put your
heart and soul in the business of your salvation. Make a sure
thing of it by the energy and determination you apply to it.

"_The children of this world are wiser,_" says the Lord,
"_than the children of light_." All their prudence and skill
is laid out to succeed in their business, to scrape together what
they consider desirable for this life. If any thing like the same
prudence and skill were exercised in serving God, salvation would
be an easy thing. If you want to be saved, you must put your
souls in it. You all know what the meaning of putting your souls
in a thing is.
{102}
It is a saying used every day. 'His soul is in his business; his
soul is in study; her soul is in fashion, in her family. How the
poor girl at service, when she wants to please her mistress, puts
her soul in her work! What delight she takes in having every
thing clean and in order! When she gets a compliment for her
skill or industry, what heartfelt pleasure it gives her! Her
continual study is to please in every way. How the young man puts
his soul in pleasure sometimes! Every cent he can earn is spent
in the saloon, the circus, the theatre. Let him earn a little
money, he breaks off work until it is all squandered. Sundays,
holidays, all are consumed in his darling occupations of drinking
and making merry. In his pursuit of pleasure, God, reputation,
health, must all give way. Nothing is allowed to put any obstacle
in his headlong career. So it is with the covetous man. Money is
his sole delight. His heart is satisfied with the pleasure of
hoarding it, the pleasure of getting more and more. He has more
than he knows what to do with: that makes no difference. He wants
still more. He has nothing to give away. He can't afford this, he
can't afford that.
{103}
He has no time for amusement; business, mortgages, interest,
that's all the amusement he cares for. Anxious and fretful for
little losses, he wears out his life, and leaves his property for
somebody else to spend, perhaps to be a curse to some worthless
relation. He has put his soul in his money-bags.

We see people every day whose souls are so taken up with the
world, that they can't even give a thought to any thing that lies
beyond it. They verify the words of Scripture: "_Let us eat,
drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die_." that is, they
would be glad to persuade themselves, if they could, that they
have no souls, and are determined to act practically on these
suppositions. Now, in the same way that these poor miserable
creatures put their souls in business, pleasure, love of money,
or worldly ease and comfort, put yours in the business of your
salvation. Make it your study to please God. Don't say: how
little can I do and get off with it? but, how much can I do? What
opportunity, what golden opportunity offers, to do something to
please God?

{104}

Ah! there are plenty of opportunities for all who wish to avail
themselves of them. The poor man can strive to do his duty, by
honest industry supporting his family, setting them a good
example. He has a good deal to put up with, in the shape of
poverty, sickness, cold, hunger, and fatigue. He can love God
with his whole soul, by putting up with these things patiently.
These things are his money, with which he may be sure of
purchasing the kingdom of heaven.

The rich man, if his soul is in his salvation, considers himself
as God's trustee, not to dispose of the wealth God allots him as
he pleases, but to advance His kingdom and the salvation of
souls. He does not care so much for pampering his body, making a
show, or heaping up riches for his heirs, but is satisfied with a
competence and means enough to live according to his station; the
rest he spends in promoting true and deserving objects of
charity. He likes to imitate Jesus Christ in helping the poor and
the sick, keeping a free bed in the hospital, sustaining
institutions for the relief of orphans, the insane, and all who
need it. He likes to help a deserving young man, when he finds
one of the sort, to become a priest in the church of God.
{105}
He doesn't consider it entirely the business of the priest to
build churches, wearing himself out to collect the means, and
that from the hard earnings of the poor, but steps forth
promptly, and takes his full share of the expense and the labor
at tending such enterprises. When he finds a hard-working priest,
zealous for souls, he will stand by him and work with him, only
too thankful to get a chance to do something.

In short, if we would make eternal life secure, we must have a
spirit of self-sacrifice and devotedness, such as led the holy
Martyrs to lay down their lives for the faith--such at least in
kind, if not in measure.

Oh! my brethren, how happy is the man who cherishes such a
principle in his heart. He is not divided and torn asunder by a
continual strife between good and evil. He is not a double
dealer. He is not striving to serve two masters. God reigns in
his heart, and peace prevails in it. Loss of property cannot take
it away, for property is not the main thing in his soul. Neither
can loss of friends. He has long been sensible that God is the
only true unchangeable friend. Death cannot disturb it--for he is
at peace with God, and doesn't fear death.
{106}
Oh! why have we not all this spirit? We acknowledge how beautiful
it is. We cannot but regret if we have it not. Let us then try
for it. Let us begin to-day--by forming a deep and strong
resolution that we will not live for the world, or the things of
the world, but seek God first of all. That we will really love
Him with our whole heart, and that this shall be the business of
our lives. Then shall be true of us what is said by the holy
Psalmist: "_Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the
counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat
in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the
Lord and on his law he shall meditate day and night. And he shall
be like the tree that is planted near the running waters, which
shall bring forth its fruit in due season, and his leaf shall not
fall off, and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper_." Then
all shall prosper with us here below, for all things shall speed
our way to that world above, where, without effort, in a perfect
manner, to our unbounded joy, we shall love God with our whole
heart and soul, and mind, and strength.

       -----------------

{107}

    Sermon VII.

    Keeping The Law Not Impossible.

    "I can do all things in Him who strengthened me."
    Phil, vi., 13.


If I am not mistaken, a very great number of the sins that men
commit, are committed through hopelessness. The pleasures of sin
are by no means unmixed. Indeed, sin is a hard master; and all
who practice it find it so. I never met a man who said it was a
good thing, or that it made him happy. On the contrary, all
lament it, and say that it makes them miserable. Why then, do
they commit it? Very often, I am persuaded, because they think
they have no power to resist it. They feel in themselves strong
passions; they have yielded to them in times past, they see that
others yield to them, and so they come to think it impossible not
to yield to them.
{108}
The law of God is too difficult, they say. It is impossible to
keep it. It may do for priests or nuns who are cut off from the
world, or for women, or for the old, or for children, but for us
who mix in the world, whose blood is warm, and whose passions are
strong, it is too high and pure. It is all very well to talk
about; it is all very well to hold up a high standard to us, but
you must not expect us to attain it. The utmost that you can
expect of us is to stop sinning, now and then, and make the
proper acknowledgments to God by going to confession, but
actually to try not to sin, to keep on endeavoring not to sin at
any time, or under any circumstances, that is impossible, or at
least so extremely difficult that, practically speaking, it is
impossible. Are there none of you, my brethren, who recognize
this as the secret language of your hearts? Is there not an
impression in your minds that the law of God is too strict? or at
least that it is too strict for you, and that you cannot keep it?
If so, do not harbor it. It is a fatal error. No: it is not
impossible to keep God's law. It is not impossible to keep from
mortal sin.
{109}
It is, I admit, impossible to keep from every venial sin, though
even here we can do a great deal if we try. Such is the frailty
of human nature that even the best men as time goes on fall into
some slight faults, only the blessed Virgin having been able, as
we believe, to pass a whole life without even in the smallest
thing offending God. But it is possible for all of us to keep
from mortal sin, at all times and under all circumstances. This,
I think, you will acknowledge when you consider the character of
God, the nature of God's law, and the power of God's grace which
is promised to us.

I say the character of God is a pledge of our ability to keep
from mortal sin. God requires us to be free from mortal sin, and
He requires it under the severest penalties, and therefore it
must be possible for us. You may say, "God requires us to be free
from venial sin too, and yet you have just said we cannot avoid
every venial sin." But the case is far different. A venial sin
does not separate us from God, and does not receive extreme
punishment from Him--nay, those venial sins which even good men
commit, and which are only in small part voluntary, are very
easily forgiven--but a mortal sin cuts us off entirely from God,
and deserves eternal punishment.
{110}
You know, one mortal sin is enough to damn a man--one single sin
of drunkenness, for instance, or impurity; a cherished hatred, a
false oath, or an act of grave injustice. One such sin is
sufficient to sink a man in hell, and although we know very
little in particular of the torments of hell, we have every
reason to believe that they are most bitter, and we know that
they are eternal. Now can it be thought that a being of justice
and goodness, as we know God to be, would inflict so extreme a
punishment for an offence which was unavoidable, or could only be
avoided with the utmost difficulty? Holy Scripture sends us to an
earthly parent for an example of that tenderness and affection
which we are to expect from our Heavenly Father. "_If you being
evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more
will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that
ask him_." [Footnote 46]

    [Footnote 46: St. Matt, vii., 11.]

What would be thought of an earthly father who laid upon his son
a command which it was all but impossible for him to comply with,
and then punished him with the utmost rigor for not fulfilling it?
{111}
You would not call that man a father, but a tyrant; a tyrant like
Pharaoh, who would not give straw to the children of Israel, and
yet set taskmasters over them to exact of them the full measure
of bricks as when straw had been given them. Why, if you were
going along the street and saw a man whipping unmercifully an
over-loaded horse, you would not bear it patiently. And would you
attribute conduct so disgraceful among men to our Father in
heaven? God forbid! Far be such a thought from us! It is not so.
We must not think it. At least we cannot think it as long as we
remain Catholics, for when the earlier Protestants proclaimed the
shocking doctrine that though God punished men for disobeying his
law, man was really unable to obey it, the Church branded the
doctrine as a heresy to be abhorred of all men, as most false in
itself, and most injurious to God. No; God loves his creatures
far more than we conceive of. He does not desire the death of a
sinner. He wills truly the salvation of all men. His goodness and
mercy, his truth and justice, are all so many infallible
guarantees of our ability to keep his law.
{112}
He would not have given us his law unless He had meant us to keep
it. He would not punish us so severely for breaking it, unless
our breaking it was an act of deliberate, wilful, determined
rebellion.

But there is another source from which I draw the conclusion that
it is possible to keep the law of God--from the nature of the law
itself. The law of God is of such a nature that, for the most
part, in order to commit mortal sin, it is necessary to do or to
leave undone some external act, which of its own nature it is
entirely in our power to do or not to do. For instance, the law
says, "_Thou shall not steal:_" now to steal you have got to
put your hand into your neighbor's pocket. The law says: "_Thou
shalt do no murder;_" to murder you must stretch out your hand
against your neighbor's life. Nay, it requires ordinarily several
external actions before a mortal sin is consummated. Thus the
thief has his precautions to take, and his plans to lay. The
drunkard has to seek the occasion. He seeks the grog-shop. Every
step he takes is a separate act. When he gets there it is not the
first glass that makes him drunk.
{113}
He drinks again and again, and it is only after all these
different and repeated actions that he falls into the mortal sin
of drunkeness. Now here you see are external acts--acts in which
the hand, the foot, the lips are concerned, and which, therefore,
it is perfectly in our power to do or to let alone. This requires
no proof, but admits of a striking illustration. You have heard
of the great sufferings of the martyrs; how some of them were
stoned to death, others flayed alive, others crucified, others
torn to pieces by wild beasts, others burned to death. Now what
was it all about? You answer, They suffered because they would
not deny Christ. Very well; but how were they required to deny
Christ? What was it they were required to do? I will tell you.
Sometimes they were required to take a few grains of incense and
throw it on the altar of Jupiter; that would have been enough to
have saved them from their sufferings. They need not have said, I
renounce Christ; only to have taken the incense would have been
sufficient. Sometimes they were required to tread on the Cross.
Sometimes to swear by the genius of the Roman emperor; that was
all. And the fire was kindled to make them do these things; but
they would not.
{114}
The flames leaped upon them, but not a foot would they lift from
the ground. Their hands were burnt to the bone, but no incense
would they touch. The marrow of their bones melted in the heat,
and forced from them a cry of agony, but the name of the
emperor's tutelary genius did not pass their lips. Now will you
tell me that you can not help doing what the martyrs would not do
to save them from death? They had a fire before them and a
scourge behind them, and they refused; and you say you cannot
help yourself when you are under no external violence whatever!
They died rather than lift a hand to do a forbidden thing; have
you not the same power over your hand that they had? They died
rather than utter a sinful word; have you not as much power over
your tongue as they? Indeed you have, for you control both one
and the other whenever you will. I say there is no sinner whose
conduct does not show that his actions are perfectly in his own
power. The thief waits for the night to carry on his trade;
during the day he is honest enough. The greatest libertine knows
how to behave himself in the presence of a high-born and virtuous
female.
{115}
And even that vice which men say it is most difficult of all to
restrain when once the habit is formed--profane swearing--you
know how to restrain it when you will, for even the heaviest
curser and swearer ceases from his oaths before the priest, or
any other friend whom he greatly respects. Now, if you can stop
cursing before the priest, why can you not before your wife and
children? If you can be chaste in the presence of a virtuous
female, why can you not be chaste everywhere? If you can be
honest when the eye of man is on you, why can you not be honest
when no eye sees you but that of God?

But some one may say, there is a class of sins to which the
remarks you have made do not apply, that is, sins of thought. You
must admit that they are of such a nature that it is all but
impossible not to commit them. No, I do not admit it. I
acknowledge that sins of thought are more difficult to guard
against than sins of action; but I do not acknowledge that it is
impossible to guard against them. To prove this I have only to
remind you that an evil thought is no sin until we give
_consent_ to it.
{116}
To keep always free from evil thoughts may be impossible, because
the imagination is in its nature so volatile, that but few men
have it in control; but though it be not possible to restrain the
imagination, it is always possible to restrain the will. In order
for the will to consent to evil it is necessary both to
_know_ and to _choose_, and therefore from the nature
of the thing one can never fall into sin either inevitably or
unawares. And besides, the will has a powerful ally in the
conscience, whose province it is to keep us from sin and to
reproach us when we do sin--so that it is scarcely possible, for
one who habitually tries to keep free from mortal sin, to fall
into it without his conscience giving a distinct and unmistakable
report. And this is so certain that spiritual writers say that a
person of good life and tender conscience, who is distressed with
the uncertainty whether or no he has given consent to an evil
temptation, ought to banish that anxiety altogether and to be
sure that he has not consented. But suppose these evil
temptations are importunate, and remain in the soul even when we
resist them, and try to turn from them? No matter. They do not
become sins on that account; nay, they become the occasion of
acts of great virtue.
{117}
It is related in the life of St. Catherine of Sienna that on one
occasion that pure virgin's soul was assailed by the most
horrible temptations of the devil. They lasted for a long time,
and after the conflict our Saviour appeared to her with a serene
countenance. "O my Divine Spouse," she said, "Where wast thou
when I was enduring these conflicts?" "In thy soul," he replied.
"What, with all these filthy abominations?" "Yes, they were
displeasing and painful to thee; this therefore was thy merit,
and thy victory was owing to my presence." So that we see even
here where the danger is greatest, the law of God exacts of us
nothing but what in its own nature is in our power to do or not
to do.

But if you wish another proof of your ability to keep God's law,
I allege the _power of his grace_. I can imagine an objector
saying: You have not touched the real difficulty after all. The
difficulty is not on God's side; no doubt He is good and holy.
Neither are the requirements of his law so very hard. The
difficulty is in us. We are fallen by nature. We have sinned
after baptism.
{118}
We are so weak, so frail, that to us continued observance of the
divine commandments is impossible. No, my brethren, neither is
this true. It is not true from the mouth of any man; least of all
from the mouth of a Christian. "_No temptation_," says the
Apostle, "_hath taken hold of you but such as is human. And God
is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that
which you are able; but will also with the temptation make a way
of escape that you may be able to bear it_." [Footnote 47]

    [Footnote 47: 1 Cor. x., 13.]

The weakest and frailest are strong enough with God's grace, and
this grace He is ready to give to those that need it. At all
times and in all places He has been ready to give his grace to
them that need it, but especially is this true under the gospel.
The Holy Scriptures make this the distinguishing characteristic
of the times of the gospel that they shall abound in grace.
"_Take courage, and fear not_," the prophet says, in
anticipation of the time when Christ should come in the flesh,
"_Behold God will come and save you. Then shall the eyes of the
blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then shall
the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be
free; for waters are broken out of the desert, and streams in the
wilderness. And that which was dry land shall become a pool, and
the thirsty land springs of water_." [Footnote 48]

    [Footnote 48: Is. xxxv., 4-7.]

{119}

Such was the promise, hundreds of years before Christ, of a time
of peace, of happiness and grace; and when our Lord was come, He
published that the good time had indeed arrived: "_The spirit
of the Lord hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He
hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart. To preach deliverance
to the captive, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord_."
Yes, the great time has come; the cool of the day; the evening of
the world; the time when labor is light and reward abundant. Oh,
my brethren, you know not what a privilege it is to be a
Christian! You enter a church. You see a priest in his
confessional. A penitent is kneeling at his feet. The sight makes
but little impression on you, for you are accustomed to it, but
this is that "_fountain_" promised by the prophet "_to the
house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the
washing of the sinner;_" a fountain that flows from the
Saviour's side, and not only cleanses, but strengthens and makes
alive.
{120}
You pass an altar. The priest is giving communion. Stop! it is
the Lord himself! the bread of angels! the wine of virgins! the
food "_whereof if a man eat he shall live forever_." And not
only in the Church do you find grace. It follows you home. You
shut your door behind you, and your Father in heaven waits to
hear and grant your prayer. Nay, at all times God is with you,
for you are the temple of God, and He sits on the throne of your
heart to scatter his grace on you when ever and wherever you ask
Him. Do not say, then, Christian, that you are unable to do what
God requires of you. It is a sin of black ingratitude to say so.
Even if it were impossible for others to keep the law of God, it
is not for you. He hath not done to every nation as he hath done
to you. When the patriarch Jacob was dying, he blessed all his
children, but his richest blessing was for Joseph. So God has
blessed all the children of his hand, but you, Christian, are the
Joseph whom He hath loved more than all his other sons. To others
He hath given of "_the dew of heaven,_" and "_the fatness
of the earth,_" but you "_He hath blessed with all spiritual
blessings in Christ._"

{121}

Away, then, with the notion, that obedience to the commandments
of God is impracticable. A notion dishonorable to God and to
ourselves. It is possible to keep free from mortal sin--for
all--at all times, under all temptations. Nay, I will say more.
It is on the whole, easier to live a life of Christian obedience,
than a life of sin. I say on the whole, for I do not deny that
here and there in particular cases, it is harder to do right than
wrong, but taking life all through, one who restrains his
passions will have less trouble than one who indulges them.
Heroic actions are not required of us every day. In order to be a
Christian, it is not necessary to be always high-strung and
enthusiastic. It is not necessary to be a devotee, to adopt set
and precise ways, to take up with hypocrisy and cant--in a word,
to be unmanly. It is just, for the most part, the most matter of
fact, the most practical, the most simple and straight-forward
thing in the world. It is to be a man of principle. It is to have
a serious, abiding purpose to do our duty.
{122}
It is to be full of courage; not the courage of the braggart, but
the courage of the soldier--the courage that thrives under
opposition, and survives defeat, the courage that takes the means
to secure success--vigilance, humility, steadfastness and prayer.
Before this, all difficulties vanish, and this is what we want
most of all. It is amazing how little courage there is in the
world. We are like the servant of Eliseus, the prophet, who, when
he awoke in the morning, and saw the great army that had been
sent by the King of Syria to take his master, said, "_Alas,
alas, alas, my lord; what shall we do!_" But Eliseus showed
him another army--the army of angels ranged on the mountain, with
chariots of fire and horses of fire, ready to fight for the
servants of God, and he said, "_Fear not: for there are more
with us than with them._" [Footnote 49]

    [Footnote 49: 4 Kings, vi., 15-17.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is 2 Kings, vi.,
    15-17.]

Why should we fear? Christianity is no new thing. The path of
Christian obedience is not an untried path. Thousands have trod
it and are now enjoying their reward. God, and the angels, and
the saints, are on our side. And there are multitudes of faithful
souls in the world who are fighting the good fight, and keeping
their souls unsullied.
{123}
We cannot distinguish them now, but one day we shall know them.
Oh! let us join them. Yes, we will make our resolution now.
Others may guide themselves by pleasure or expediency; we will
adopt the language of the Psalmist: "_Thy word is a lamp to my
feet, and a light to my paths_." [Footnote 50]

    [Footnote 50: Psalm cxviii., 105.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm cxix., 105.]

We will be Christians not in name, but in deed. Not for a time
only, but always. One thought shall cheer us in sadness and nerve
us in weakness, "_I have sworn and am determined to keep the
judgments of thy justice_."

   -----------------

{124}

    Sermon VIII.

    The Two Standards.

  "No man can serve two masters."
  --St. Matt., vi. 24.

  (From the Gospel of the 14th Sunday after Pentecost.)


There are two hostile camps pitched on the surface of the earth,
and two great armies engaged in warfare against each other. The
chiefs of these two armies are Jesus Christ and Satan, The war
between them is not a new one. It began in heaven, when Lucifer
and his companions rebelled against God. It broke out in a more
deadly and decisive manner, when Jesus Christ erected his
standard on Mt. Calvary, and from his Cross triumphed over the
devil, while Satan, enraged at his defeat, summoned all his
forces from earth and hell to an eternal war against the Cross.

{125}

This is a war in which every one must take part. Here no one can
remain neutral; either for the Cross or against it--a soldier of
Christ or a servant of the devil. You must choose your side.
Which, then, do you take? Will you have Christ or Lucifer for
your king? In the name of Jesus Christ, I call on you to renounce
the infamous service of the devil for ever, and enroll yourself
under the standard of the Cross, and I promise to give you good
reasons for doing so. Listen, then, and make your decision. If
the devil has the best claim, and offers the highest price, then
follow him, and take his lot in this world and in eternity. But
consider well what you have to look for, beforehand. If Jesus
Christ is your rightful Lord, and heaven is worth having, then
come out boldly on his side, and renounce the devil once for all.
You cannot serve both, you must serve one; and the one whom you
serve on this earth, will have possession of you for all
eternity.

{126}

Survey, then, the two camps, the two standards, the two kings. On
Mount Calvary see the Cross, the standard of salvation, rising
above the camp of Jesus Christ. Look on the King who rules in
this camp! Regard his features: they are full of majesty and
humility, of power and of love, of authority and of compassion.
Around Him the Blessed Virgin, the apostles, martyrs and
confessors, all the saints and all the righteous, are grouped;
and from his Cross He sends out his messengers into all the
world, inviting all men to share his humility, self-denial, and
suffering in this world, and his everlasting kingdom in the next.

Now turn your eyes toward the other camp. It lies near the city
of Babylon, the city of this world, a city of idolatry,
sensuality, and worldly pomp. In the midst of it, Satan is seated
on a high and burning throne, his features full of melancholy,
pride and cruelty, surrounded by his demons, his false priests,
and the multitude of his worshippers. He also sends his
messengers through the earth, offering honors, pleasures, and
riches here, and the fire of hell hereafter, to those who enlist
in his service.

Unhappy man! soldier of Christ by baptism! have these ministers
of Satan persuaded you to renounce your lawful standard, and
enlist under that of the devil?
{127}
Have you been persuaded by some worldly bribe, some passing
pleasure, to renounce God and heaven, and to receive the black
brand of mortal sin in your soul, the mark of your allegiance to
the devil? What have you done? What master is this, to whom you
have sold yourself? What have you to expect in his service?
Listen to me, and I will prove to you that you have sold yourself
to a detestable tyrant and usurper; that you have cast in your
lot with a desperate cause, and that everlasting ruin is the only
wages you will ever get.

Satan is a detestable usurper. What right has he to reign in this
world? What right has he to your soul, or to your service? Did he
create the world, or make you? Has he conferred any benefit on
the human race, that he is entitled to the gratitude and
obedience of men? He is a miserable rebel against God, an outcast
from heaven, the great enemy of mankind. He is the author of sin,
misery, and death. He became master of your soul by mortal sin.
He seduced you to offend God by lying promises, and treacherously
got possession of your heart. Is he not then a usurper?

{128}

He is also a cruel tyrant. Satan tyrannizes over the soul which
is subject to him, by making it a slave to its passions. He makes
it sweat and toil like a negro slave, fast, and watch, and deny
itself, like a hermit, in the service of these cruel taskmasters.
One he forces to labor night and day for a lifetime, to scrape up
a little money which he has no time to enjoy. Another he compels
to sacrifice health, reputation, and fortune, to the
gratification of lust. A third he turns into a beast by
drunkenness. He tyrannizes over his subjects, also, by continual
and insupportable torments of conscience. They have none of that
peace and tranquillity which the servants of God enjoy, but a
horrible foretaste of the pains of hell, in the incessant
gnawings of a guilty conscience, and the continual fear of
eternal damnation.

The service of Satan is odious, on account of the companions with
whom you must associate. You become the associate of demons,
murderers, thieves, harlots, drunkards, and villains of every
hue. The promises which the devil holds out to you are all false,
and his words all delusive. He holds out to you an illusory hope
of liberty and happiness, and deceives you with glittering but
unreal pictures of future enjoyment.
{129}
For these you renounce Christian self-denial; for these you throw
down the Cross of Christ, abandon the straight and narrow way,
and sacrifice your hopes of heaven. But the devil will disappoint
you. The pleasure he will give you will leave behind in your
heart only bitterness and disgust. You will have to endure in his
service labors and sufferings more than enough to make you a
saint, if you performed them for God. You threw down the cross
which God placed on your shoulders. It was a light cross, and was
exactly measured for your size and strength. It was a cross full
of blessings and graces, and if you had carried it courageously
up the narrow way of life, after a time it would have supported
you, and you would have been borne up by it to the gate of
heaven. But you threw it down, because it was too heavy and
galling, and turned from the steep path of virtue to the
downward, flowery road of sin. Immediately the devil came up
behind you, and fastened on your back an immense cross of rough,
unhewn timber.
{130}
Loaded with this devil's cross, you are stumbling along the way
of perdition toward the mouth of hell, into which you will fall
at death, with the heavy burden of your sins on your back to
press you down, and crush you forever beneath its weight. Such is
the hard and bitter slavery to which you have bound yourself
under this detestable tyrant.

Moreover, his cause is a desperate one. A certain and ignominious
defeat, from which he will never more arise, awaits him. He has
already been conquered. Jesus Christ met him once in single
combat in the desert, and put him to an ignominious flight.
Afterwards, on the cross, He gained a still more signal and
decisive victory over him, and made him serve by his own plan for
our Lord's destruction, as an instrument for accomplishing our
salvation. The Blessed Virgin has trampled on the head of this
malicious serpent. All the saints and martyrs have triumphed over
him, and the weakest Christian child can put him to flight, by
resisting his temptations--by breathing a little prayer, or by
making the sign of the cross. He is a weak and miserable coward.
His cause is already desperate and lost. And although God allows
him a certain liberty to tempt and trouble the world for a short
time, the day of judgment is fast approaching, in which Jesus
Christ will put him to shame before the whole universe, and cast
him, together with all those who follow his standard, into the
burning abyss of hell.

{131}

Such is a true picture of Lucifer, of his services, and of the
reward which awaits his followers. Are you not ashamed, then, O
false Christian! to have renounced your allegiance to your
rightful Lord, for the service of such a master, who trembles at
the very name of Jesus Christ?

In the churches of the middle ages the statue of the martyr St.
Christopher was frequently sculptured, carrying, in accordance
with his name which signifies Christ-bearer, the infant Jesus on
his shoulder. As his real history was unknown, the poetic fancy
of that period invented several beautiful legends about it, of
which the following is one:

"A heathen youth of gigantic size and strength determined to seek
out the strongest man in the world, and serve him. After many
inquiries, he engaged himself to a Christian prince, who was
famous for prowess and warlike achievements.
{132}
He served him contentedly for a while, but at length, observing
that he often made the sign of the cross, he asked him the
meaning of his doing so. The prince told him it was to keep off
the devil. The youth asked him who the devil was, and if he was
afraid of him. He told him that the devil was a wicked being,
more powerful than any man, and that he feared him greatly. If
that is the case, said the youth, I will serve you no longer, but
I will serve the devil, because he is the strongest. Immediately
he set out to seek for him, and passing through a forest was
accosted by a dark-looking personage who asked him what he was
looking for, and on receiving his his answer, replied: I am the
devil you are seeking, follow me if you wish to enter my service.
So saying, he went on, followed by the youth, toward a certain
city. As they drew near the city, the devil turned aside from the
highway, and took a bye-road which was much more circuitous. The
youth asked him why he did not keep the high-road. Do you not
see, said the devil, that crucifix? I do not wish to pass it.
'What is a crucifix?' said the youth. 'The image of my greatest
enemy, who once conquered me' replied the devil.
{133}
Farewell, said the youth; if you are afraid of Him who hangs on
that cross, I shall leave you, and serve Him, because he is
stronger than you. So saying, he went in search of Jesus Christ,
and having stopped at a monastery, and asked the way to find Him,
was instructed, baptized by the name of Christopher, and became a
martyr."

Now, dear Christian, you are a Christopher, a Christ-bearer, for
you have the image of Christ stamped in your soul in baptism. You
are bound to serve the most powerful, and not only the most
powerful, but the best master; the one who has the best right to
your services, whose service is the most honorable, whose rewards
are the greatest, and whose final victory is certain. Listen to
me now, and I will show you that this Prince is Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is our lawful King.

I. By hereditary right. He is the Son of God. In his divine
nature He is equal to his Father, and equally with Him the
Creator of all things, and therefore our sovereign Lord. In his
human nature, He is the first begotten Son of his Father, the
heir of all things, in a special sense, the chief of the human
race.

{134}

II. By purchase. By Adam's sin, the special gifts which God had
given to him and his posterity--integrity of nature, sanctifying
grace, paradise and the title to heaven--were forfeited. Mankind
fell from a free to a servile condition. Jesus Christ, by a
compact with the eternal Father, and by pledging His life for us,
has purchased his right over us.

III. By redemption. He has redeemed us by his blood, from exile
and slavery, and restored to us our forfeited inheritance of
grace and eternal life.

IV. By conquest. When the whole world was subject to the usurped
tyranny of Satan, He made war on him, conquered him, and wrested
our souls from his possession. As subjects of a conquered empire,
we are therefore subject to the dominion of our conqueror.

V. By our own election. We have freely chosen his service, when
we were confirmed and ratified our baptismal vows, and a thousand
times we have offered ourselves to his service, and sworn
allegiance to Him.

{135}

His service is glorious. Because He is the greatest and wisest of
all princes; because angels and saints are our companions;
because his service consists in performing great and heroic
actions, warring against vice, overcoming self, practising
virtue, doing good, and conquering the world, the flesh and the
devil. It is happy and delightful, because of peace of
conscience, the friendship of God, and the consolations of divine
grace. These are a sort of bounty or earnest-money given now; but
the real reward is eternal life, to be given hereafter.

Jesus Christ is certain to obtain the victory and to triumph
gloriously over all his enemies--over treacherous and cowardly
followers within his own camp, that is, bad Christians who
preserve the faith but live and die in sin; over all those who
are nominally his followers, but who really are fighting under
the devil's standard, that is heretics, and schismatics; over
infidels, his open enemies among men; over Satan and hell.

Here now are the two chiefs. There are the two standards. This is
the war in which every one of you is engaged, on one side or the
other? Which side is it? Under what banner have you till now been
ranged? Do you belong to the party of Jesus Christ or that of the
devil?
{136}
Do you reply, I am a baptized Christian, marked with the sign of
the cross, and a member of the Catholic Church, and therefore a
servant of Jesus Christ? It is true you are a soldier regularly
enlisted and sworn into Christ's army, and wearing his uniform.
But the question is, are you a true-hearted, obedient and brave
soldier of Jesus Christ, or are you a traitor in the camp, a
servant of the devil in the guise of a Christian? Let us see. You
call yourself a soldier of Jesus Christ. What are you doing then
with the devil's bounty? The devil's bounty is a license to
steal, cheat and swindle. What is that pile of bank-notes
pilfered from your employer, you dishonest clerk? What is that
heap of gold, you bribed judge, you corrupt legislator, you
dishonest official, you swindling speculator in government
contracts, in public distresses and private miseries? Jesus
Christ will tolerate no thieves in his camp. If you are one of
these unjust, dishonest, avaricious, overreaching robbers of your
neighbors goods, standing ready to sell your voice, your pen,
your vote, your oath, your conscience, your country, your faith,
your soul, your God Himself, for gold, then you have touched the
devil's bounty, you are his servant, and a traitor to your
colors.

{137}

You are a soldier of Jesus Christ, are you? But you have been
caught drinking the devil's treat. There, where his sergeants
recruit for hell, in those grog-shops whose flaming signs and
glaring windows tempt the fool and the unwary; where misery,
beggary, despair and death are dealt out to wretched fathers,
brutal husbands, ragged, bloated women who are wives and mothers;
there you have drained the cup of drunkenness, the pledge of
friendship with Satan and all the company of hell.

You are a Christian soldier, are you? But I hear on your lips the
devil's passwords, those curses and oaths, those obscene words
and profane jests which show that you belong to the devil's camp.
Your cursing tongue has betrayed you, false deserter, your speech
is the speech of hell, and your presence among the faithful
soldiers of Jesus Christ is an offence and a scandal not to be
borne by those who have any zeal for the honor of their Lord.

{138}

You a Christian soldier?--and flaunting on the devil's
parade-ground, the theatre, the ballroom where the lascivious
waltz goes on, the midnight revel of thoughtless and giddy young
people, flushed with wine, intoxicated with excitment, whirled
away by the tide of passion, where they know not and care not,
until at length remorse, disgrace and ruin tell them where, but
too late to save them. These are the pomps of the devil which you
renounced and foreswore at your baptism. If you take them up
again, you are an outcast from Jesus Christ, and a servant of the
devil.

You dare to call yourself a Christian, and all the while you are
living on the devil's pay, feeding on sensuality, plunged
overhead in impurity, the miserable, beastly reward that the
devil gives to his followers. By the law of Moses, those who
committed such crimes were to be stoned to death without the
camp. Is the camp of Jesus Christ less holy, think you, that an
impure man or woman can be tolerated within its sacred precincts?

{139}

You pretend to wear the livery of Jesus Christ. What, then, is
that badge, what are those insignia you are wearing? They tell
that you belong to some secret society, that you have defied the
law of the Church, and braved her excommunication. You are then
shut out from the sacraments, and not only are you no soldier of
Jesus Christ, but you belong to the devil's own body-guard.

Tell me, you pretended soldier of Jesus Christ, where are you on
your King's parade days, his Sundays and Festivals, when he
requires his servants on earth and his angels in heaven to
present themselves in review before him? Where are you during the
holy solemnity of the Mass? Absent; your place vacant, and you
asleep, or lounging, or doing the devil's work. At the Easter
Communion, where are you? You are not to be found, or still
worse, you present yourself without that rich and ornamental
dress of sanctifying grace, which your king requires, under pain
of death. Blush to call yourself a soldier of Jesus Christ, for
if you are one, you are a delinquent and a faithless one.

You profess yourself so loudly a Christian soldier, what then are
you straggling for, behind your column? Jesus Christ allows no
stragglers in his army, and the enemy has ambuscades everywhere
to cut them off.
{140}
These are those heretical churches into which you stray, in
ignorance or neglect of Catholic order and discipline. Hasten out
of these ambuscades of error, delusion and eternal death. Rejoin
your column quickly, and keep within the serried ranks of the
Catholic host, or you are lost.

My brave and vaunting Christian warrior, how do your professions
of fidelity and courage comport with your conduct when put on
guard at night? How have you conducted yourself in temptation?
Have you not committed mortal sin, and then given as an excuse
that you were tempted by the devil, or overcome by your passions?
Have you not said that you could not help cursing when you were
angry, drinking when you were urged, giving way to impure
inclinations when you were assaulted by them, that you could not
keep from mortal sin, because you are so weak? These excuses make
you more guilty. They show that you have slept on your post, or
kept a careless watch on the enemy, or yielded yourself a
prisoner, when you should have fought manfully. It is your very
profession as a soldier of Jesus Christ to fight with the world,
the flesh and the devil, and you cannot be surprised or
vanquished without your own fault.
{141}
To say that you must sin because the devil tempts you, or that
you cannot resist your evil inclinations, is to confess your own
shame, and to make it plain, that you are a coward, unworthy of
the glorious name of a soldier of Jesus Christ.

I call upon you, then, unworthy and unfaithful followers of Jesus
Christ, to renounce your secret and treasonable dealings with the
enemy, to cease to act like traitors or poltroons, and to rally
again around the standard of salvation. No matter what mortal sin
you have on your soul, it is a bond which links you with the
devil, with his desperate cause and his eternal ruin. In spite of
your name of Christian, your badge of soldier, and your military
oath, you are a servant of Satan, and the Lord will one day cast
you out among his open enemies. In God's name, then, no more
double dealing. Choose your side! If you wish for despair, and
have chosen eternal perdition, then Satan is your master, and you
can follow him if you choose. But if Jesus Christ is your king,
his service your choice, and his rewards your desire, come to his
standard, and flinch no more.
{142}
See! the war is raging all around you, in which you must take
part, on one side or the other. The banners are flying, the
trumpets are sounding, the soldiers of Christ are winning eternal
renown and pressing on to battle. Our glorious King is at the
head of his chosen band leading the way to victory, which is
already waving its wings above the unconquerable standard of
salvation. The shouts of conquest are heard in the distance, and
the foremost ranks are pressing in as victors through the gates
of heaven. Shall we stand here like cowards, hugging the
ignominious chains of mortal sin? Far be the thought from every
Christian breast! The voice of our Leader is calling us. Forward!
then. Onward! let us share in the glorious conflict, that we may
share in the triumph, and partake in the everlasting peace that
is to follow.

   ----------------------

{143}

    Sermon IX.

    The Epiphany.


    "They found the Child with Mary his mother."
    St. Matt, ii., 2.

    (From the Gospel for the Day).


The Feast of the Epiphany, my dear brethren, is as it were a
second Christmas. Christmas Day is a feast which all Christians
hold in common, whether of Jewish or Gentile blood. If either had
more claim than the other, it would seem to belong rather to
those who are of Jewish origin; for, "_to you is born this day
a Saviour in the City of David_" was the announcement made by
the angels to the Jewish shepherds. But this feast of to-day is
peculiarly ours. This is the great Gentile-Christian feast.
{144}
The motto which we put up over our altar on Christmas eve, and
which still hangs there, "_Christus natus est nobis_,"
"Christ is born for us," is especially appropriate to-day.

There is, however, still another distinct class of persons to
whom this day ought to be especially dear. You, my dear brethren,
who had not the greater privilege of belonging to the Holy
Catholic Church from your infancy, but whom God in his mercy
brought into it in after years, this is your feast. You have an
interest in these Gentile converts, your ancestors in the faith,
whom the Church commemorates to-day, which they have not who
never knew any other creed. What I propose this morning, is,

1. To give you a sketch of the history of today's feast; and

2. To show you how these Gentile converts are models of men truly
converted to God.



    I. History Of The Feast.

Whilst angels were telling to the shepherds of Judea, as they
kept watch over their flocks on Christmas eve, of the glad
tidings of the birth of the Redeemer of the world in Bethlehem, a
strange apparition aroused the inhabitants of a great city in the
far distant east.
{145}
They were awakened from their sleep, and the windows, doors, and
streets were thronged to look at a bright star, which hung in the
sky, just over the city.

You remember, I dare say, what a stir was made in this country
and elsewhere, a few years since, by the unexpected appearance of
that beautiful comet. How groups were to be seen standing about
every evening, both in and out of doors, with telescope or the
naked eye, gazing at it, and expressing to one another their
wonder and delight. Well, some such feeling as this, mingled with
a certain religious awe, must have taken hold of this people of
the east on that night. How brilliant! what can it be? what can
it mean? how close to us! who will tell us something about it?
Exclamations such as these, were heard on all sides, from the
lips of rich and poor alike. Now there were men in that kingdom
who might naturally be supposed to know something about it, for
they had made the science of the stars, in their supposed
connection with human action, or astrology, a special branch of
study.
{146}
They were men of education. They were high in civil station too,
and filled such offices as magistrate, and governor, and even
that of a sort of petty sovereign. They were called Magi. They
were in their own country what the Mandarin is in China; what the
Brahmin is in India. But how can they know any thing of a star so
unusual in its appearance as this? There were two sources through
which a certain prophecy connected with the appearance of a star
might have reached them.

1. Fifteen hundred years before, a prophet or diviner, whatever
his office may have been, whose name was Balaam, had uttered a
most remarkable prophecy. It was as follows: "_I shall see him,
but not now; I shall behold him, but not near. A star shall rise
out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel_." If
Balaam was a fellow-countryman of these Magi, as some learned
writers have supposed, then they could hardly have been ignorant
of this prophecy.

{147}

2. One thousand years after that again, the Jews were carried
away in captivity to the city of Babylon, and dispersed
themselves through that region of country. It is natural to
suppose that in this way their traditions and sacred writings
became publicly known. In that case, these men of science could
hardly have failed to notice the fact of Balaam's prophecy being
found in the Jewish book of Numbers. They would moreover find, in
the course of that familiar intercourse which was now established
between the people of both nations, that the Jews had always
considered this prophecy as having reference to the promised
Messias, or future Ruler of their people.

Whatever may be the fact as to their having any information at
all, or the particular sources through which it came, or whether
their wills were moved directly by inspiration from God, certain
it is that these holy kings did recognize in that star their
guide to the newly-born king of the Jews. Among the historical
records of God's dealing with the Jewish people, they perhaps
remembered how He had led them through the wilderness under the
guidance of a pillar of fire, and consequently were more willing
to trust themselves to a guide of a similar kind.

{148}

Difficulties now sprang up on every side. It was no easy thing to
make up their minds to leave their kingdoms (or whatever was the
peculiar nature of their charge), in the hands of others, who
might usurp their authority in their absence. Travelling over the
deserts to the westward was most tedious, and attended with much
danger. And after all might not this vision be a delusion? Such
were some of the trials their faith had to surmount, and it did
surmount them. I will not say more of their journey, than that
they were faithful to their guide. They halted when it stood
still, they continued their march when it led the way. Here are
they now within a short march of the city of Jerusalem. The
morning light is breaking, and word is passed to harness the
camels, and to fold up the tents. The encampment is alive with
joy, at the prospect of the speedy and successful termination of
their undertaking, when a cry of distress is heard; "the
star!--where is the star? it is gone! what shall we do?" Let us
try to conceive what their distress must have been.

{149}

You know that in some parts of our country there are great caves
underground, into which one can penetrate bypaths winding hither
and thither to the distance of twenty, thirty, or even forty
miles from the entrance; as for example, the great Mammoth cave
of Kentucky. Of course, the darkness there is absolute. Perhaps
you may remember having seen an account given by one of a party
of persons whose only light had gone out on an excursion of this
kind. He tried to describe the horror that he and his companions
felt when they found themselves in such total darkness, and,
unless relieved by persons outside, in the face of certain death.
To move, even for a few feet, might, for all they knew, be sudden
destruction. To remain where they were was certain death by
starvation. Now some such feelings as these must have overwhelmed
our travellers from the east when they lost the star. Their guide
was gone; they were in a strange and, it might prove, an enemy's
land, especially as they had come in search of a rival to him who
was sitting on the throne of Judea. What should they do? They
determined to enter the city, to go to the king himself and
fearlessly demand to know from him "_where is he who is born
king of the Jews; for we have seen his star in the east and have
come to worship him?_"
{150}
King Herod called in the priests from the temple; the Scriptures
were brought, the prophecies were examined; and Bethlehem was
found to be the favored spot. "_Thou Bethlehem, the land of
Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda for out of thee
shall come the ruler who shall rule my people Israel_." They
do not stay to be entertained with banquetings, or with what is
curious or interesting in this great city, but they resume their
journey, when lo! their beautiful guide appears before them once
more. Oh! what joy it must have been to them to see it again. I
dare say they thought it a hundredfold brighter than before, as
they gazed up at it with their cheerful faces. ... At last it
stops just over a poor shed on a hillside. This the birth-place
of the king of the Jews!! Impossible. They look up at the star.
There it stands motionless. They dismount with their presents,
and pass through the rude entrance. A wonderful light fills the
lowly place, and they see a young woman sitting upon some straw
on the ground, a beautiful infant on her lap, and one who seems
to be her husband, at her side. That same faith which had led
them so far, made them bend the knee in adoration. "_They had
found the child with Mary his mother_."

{151}

Such, my dear brethren, is the sketch I promised you of this most
interesting history of today's feast. To me, I must confess it
has a peculiar charm and beauty. Now, what holy lesson shall we
try to learn from it?


  II. These Magi Are Models To Us Of Men Truly Converted To God.


1. _In their prompt obedience to his inspirations_. That
star was a call from God. He asked a great deal from them.
Luxuries, comforts, country, kingdom, home, all must be, for the
time at least, abandoned. It would seem so easy for them to have
said, as we say now-a-days, I can arrange to go in a few months
time,--but _at once_, this is quite impossible. But there
stood their bright guide, a rebuke to any such thoughts, and in
setting out at once, in obedience to this call from God, these
holy men teach us a most wholesome lesson. How often has God not
called us, either from some path of sin which we were following,
or to a closer union with Himself?
{152}
At one time He has spoken to us plainly, by some word in a sermon
or book, at another, by some secret fear or inspiration! We
answer, "to-morrow, to-morrow," and that morrow never comes. That
to-morrow is the devil's light, a very "Will o' the wisp," which
leads us on and on to danger and destruction. Oh! let us in [the]
future be on the watch for these secret whisperings of grace to
our souls, and let us learn to be prompt in corresponding with
them.

2. _In their courage_. When these holy men had promptly set
about obeying the will of God, their difficulties had only just
begun. They would soon have become disheartened but for the
supernatural courage that sustained them. Their attendants and
servants, not having their Master's faith, magnified every
difficulty as it arose. The oppressive heat by day, the cold at
night, the length and wearisomeness of the way, the danger of
murder and robbery, all these afforded them subjects for
continual murmuring. But now, to crown all, the star has
disappeared, and they clamor loudly to be allowed to return back
in haste to their homes. But no; a courageous faith supported
these royal pilgrims, and God rewarded it, by their finding, at
last, the object of their search, "the Child with Mary his
Mother."

{153}

How is it, my dear brethren, with us on the way of life? Is it
not too common to hear such language as this: 'I have such an
unfortunate temper;' or, 'I have such disagreeable neighbors;'
or, 'I have such an unmanageable family;' or, 'I am thrown with
such reckless companions;' or, 'I have no comfort in my prayers;'
and 'There is no use in trying to be good; I would give any thing
if I only could be good; I am sure it is the only way to be
really happy, but somehow or other I cannot get good.' Oh! poor
cowardly souls that we are! Did I not say truly, that in these
Magi we should find an occasion of confusion to ourselves, as
well as true models of courageous perseverance under difficulties
however great or peculiar? Dear brethren, begin again this
morning your journey of life, in the spirit of these holy
converts. Be faithful to the light that God never fails to give
you, through your directors and confessors, through good books
and by holy inspirations, and joy and consolation will come all
in good time.
{154}
The only way that will surely, safely, and speedily bring us to
our Lord, is the way of the Cross. Surely it is worth the
venture, worth the toil, if only we find at last, as we shall,
"that Child with Mary his Mother."

3. _In their offerings_. It is a beautiful custom among the
nations of the East, that they never go into the presence of
their sovereign without some offering. Behold these holy men, as
they bow down within the entrance of that poor lodge, and hold
out in their hands the gold, the frankincense and the myrrh which
they have brought so far, in honor of their newly found
Sovereign, the infant king of the Jews! Let us kneel in spirit
with them. We have here, our Bethlehem. The infant Jesus is
within this little Tabernacle. There, above the altar rail, the
still light is burning, which is the silent monitor to our faith,
that Jesus is here. The world would have found it hard to adore
the infant Saviour, with those three kings, in so lowly a place;
and the world finds it too hard now, to kneel with us, in a
Catholic church, before the blessed Sacrament. These holy men did
not find it hard, nor do we, for they and we have the same
blessed, gift of faith.

{155}

_They offer gold_--You have none! Oh yes, you have. Put your
ten-penny, five-penny, and three-penny pieces, put your pennies
too, into the offertory, with a pure intention, or bestow an alms
on the poor outside, in the name of Jesus, and they will be
changed into the purest gold. Love is a far more acceptable
offering to God than gold. He has no need of your money; for, as
the Psalmist says, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness
thereof." One thing alone you have it in your power to keep from
Him, and he deigns to ask you for it. It is your heart. It is
your love and your service.

_They offer incense_--You have none! Oh yes, you have. What
does holy king David say? "_O Lord, direct my prayer as incense
in thy sight._" Prayer is the blessed incense that is
incessantly streaming up before God. This it is that restrains
the arm of his anger, and brings down blessings like showers of
rain. There is one prayer above all others which in a special
manner is doing this. It is the Holy Mass. Blessed Leonard of
Port Maurice asks himself, why it is that God does not nowadays
visit nations with such terrible and unmistakable judgments as He
did the Jews, and the nations round about them?
{156}
Then he makes answer to himself, it is because of the
all-powerful intercession of the Holy Mass. As that pure and holy
sacrifice ascends up like clouds of incense, from ten thousand
altars, all over the world, God is disarmed of his anger. A
wicked world is spared too, for the sake of what those little
tabernacles contain, on the altars of Catholic churches.

Hear mass, then, on a week day, or make a visit of a few minutes
to the Blessed Sacrament, and you have the most fragrant incense
to offer to God.

_They offer myrrh_--You have none! Oh yes. Myrrh preserves
from corruption. This was among the spices that the holy women
brought on Easter morning to embalm our Lord's body. Well, there
is something that preserves our souls, as myrrh and spices
preserve our bodies. This is self-denial. Self-gratification is
the corruption both of soul and body. Look around at the army of
drunkards, and seekers of forbidden pleasures, and you will have
abundant proof of the corruption of the body, and of the soul
too, though not in the awfulness of its corruption, as God sees it.

{157}

Well, restrain your tongue; restrain your eye; restrain your
appetite; and offer this to God in penance for your sins, in
union with that sublime act of self-denial on the Cross, and you
will offer to your Saviour as pleasing an offering as these holy
Magi.

My brethren, we are all on the road to another, the true
Bethlehem. We, too, are going in search of Jesus and Mary. Our
Bethlehem is heaven. Our glorious, supernatural, infallible
guide, is the Holy Catholic Church. We have met with trials; we
shall meet with more. Perhaps, thus far, we have only passed
through a sort of preparatory state, which shall enable us to
bear up under the real sacrifices that we shall be called upon to
make in time to come. Nothing will sustain us under these, but
implicit faith in our Guide, and an unshaken fidelity to her. Be
loyal to her then. Show your love for God, by your obedience to
her. Cling to her side, and she will lead you to that Bethlehem
above, where it may be said of you also,--

  "They found the Child with Mary his Mother."

    ----------------------

{158}

     Sermon X.

     Renunciation.


  "And after six days, Jesus taketh unto him
  Peter and James and John his brother,
  and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart.
  And he was transfigured before them.
  And his face did shine as the sun,
  and his garments became white as snow."
  --St. Matt, xvii., 12.

  (From the Gospel for the Transfiguration).


A wise general, in order to excite the ardor of his soldiers, and
to render them forgetful of the dangers to which they are
exposed, pictures to them on the eve of battle the spoils and
glory to be acquired, if they fight bravely. In like manner, our
Lord, in order to cheer up and console his disciples, who began
to be dismayed at the prospect of that death He was about to
suffer, imparted to them a foretaste of the joys of paradise, and
a "vision" of the splendor of his divinity.
{159}
"_He was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as
the sun; and his garments became white as snow._" Peter, as
soon as he recovered from his ecstasy of delight, exclaimed:
"_Lord, It is good for us to be here_."

But, to prepare His disciples for this anticipation of heaven, He
brought them into a high mountain apart; indicating thereby that
such privileges can only be obtained by separation from the world
in solitude. This is not only true relative to these high and
special favors, but equally true in order to persevere in the
practice of a Christian life. Separation from the world is an
indispensable duty of a Christian. This truth, so plain in Holy
Writ, is nevertheless liable to be misconceived, for which reason
we must make the following distinction:

There is a world we are not required as Christians to separate
from. There is a world we are under the strictest obligations to
separate from.

The condemnation of the world by our Lord and his apostles is too
plain and frequent not to have met the eye of any one who has the
slightest acquaintance with the New Testament.
{160}
"_You are from beneath,_" said the Saviour to the Jews,
"_I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this
world_," [Footnote 51] "_Love not the world,_" says the
beloved disciple and apostle, "_nor the things which are in the
world. If any man love the world the charity of the Father is not
in him._" [Footnote 52] St. Paul, teaching the Romans, says:
"_Be not conformed to the world._" [Footnote 53] "_The
friendship of the world,_" says St. James, "_is enmity with
God._" [Footnote 54] "_The whole world_," says St. John,
"_is seated in wickedness._" [Footnote 55]

    [Footnote 51: St. John viii., 23.]

    [Footnote 52: 1 John ii., 15.]

    [Footnote 53: Romans xii., 2.]

    [Footnote 54: St. James iv., 4. ]

    [Footnote 55: 1 John v., 19.]

These declarations of the sacred Scriptures are plain and to the
point. To be a disciple of Christ is to have nothing to do with
the world. If any further proof were needed of so plain a fact,
we may find it in the baptismal service, where the catechumen is
engaged by the most solemn promises to turn his back upon the
world. But what this world is, that we are so strictly engaged to
renounce, is not at first sight so clear.

Is it the visible world, called nature, so full of instruction
and rich in beauty, that we are to turn our backs upon?
{161}
Are we called upon in our character as Christians to close our
eyes to the flowers, the mountains, the rivers, the glowing
sunsets, and the stars of heaven? Are we bound to shut our ears
to the murmuring winds, the music of the rivulet, and the songs
of the birds? Are we to be counted Christians on the condition
only of our shutting out from our senses that beauty, which
surrounds us on all hands, of the visible world? What is there
profane in nature when Holy Writ assures us that, "The Lord is
holy in all his works." [Footnote 56] and that "_all things
serve Him?_" [Footnote 57]

   [Footnote 56: Psalm cxliv., 13.]

   [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm cxlv., 13.]

   [Footnote 57: Psalm cxviii., 91.]

   [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm cxix., 91.]

The royal prophet David was accustomed to open all the avenues of
his soul to the beauty of nature, and, filled with admiration, he
seems hardly able to contain his praise of Him by whom all things
were made. "_O Lord our Lord, how admirable_," he exclaims,
"_is thy name in the whole earth_." [Footnote 58] "_How
great are thy works, O Lord! thou hast made all things in wisdom;
the earth is filled with thy riches._" [Footnote 59]

    [Footnote 58: Psalm viii., 2.]

    [Footnote 59: Psalm ciii., 24.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm civ., 24.]

{162}

Our blessed Saviour himself chose to convey the great truths of
his gospel by illustrations drawn from the visible creation. He
calls our attention at one time to "the birds of the air," at
another, it is to the golden "harvests," and then it is to "the
lilies of the fields." He seems to have looked with an attentive
and friendly eye upon the attractions of nature.
"_Consider_," He says, "_the lilies of the fields, how
they grow: they labor not, neither do they spin. And yet I say to
you that not even Solomon in all his glory, was arrayed like one
of these._" [Footnote 60]

    [Footnote 60: St. Matt, vi., 28-29.]

Commenting on this passage of Holy Scripture, St. John Chrysostom
asks: "Wherefore did God make the lilies so beautiful? That He
might display," he answers, "the wisdom and excellency of his
power, that from every thing we might learn his glory." For not
"_the heavens only declare the glory of God._" [Footnote 61]
but the earth too; and this David declared when he said:
"_Praise the Lord, ye fruitful trees, and all the cedars_."
[Footnote 62]

    [Footnote 61: Psalm xix., 1.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm xix., 2.]

    [Footnote 62: Psalm cxlviii., 4.]

    [Transcriber's note: The phrase "Praise the Lord" is from
    verse 7 and "fruit trees and all cedars" is from verse 9.]

{163}

It could be no part of the visible creation that the Gospel had
in view, when it declared that the friendship of the world is
enmity with God; for we hear the same voice speak to us from
nature, which speaks to us in divine revelation.

What was it then? Was it the world of art, science, and
literature? Have not beauty, knowledge, and genius one and the
same fountain source with religion? Whence spring the noble
achievements of art, science, and literature, if not from gifts,
which like "_every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from
above, coming down from the Father of lights_." [Footnote 63]

    [Footnote 63: St. James i., 17.]

Is not the true aim of art in all its creations to aid religion
in bringing men to the contemplation of the first Fair, the first
True, and the first Good? Can science find a greater sphere than
to show how all things are, and move, and exist in their primal
cause, God? Can literature be devoted to more worthy ends than to
make those virtues attractive which religion commands? True
religion recognizes in art, in science, and in literature, her
natural allies, while they in turn find in her bosom loftier and
wider spheres to stimulate human exertion. These, then, are not
of that world which Holy Writ condemns as at enmity with God.

{164}

Are we to find the world, which we as Christians are to renounce,
in the ties of the family, in relationships and friends, in
neighborhood and the common pursuits of life? All these
conditions of life our Saviour sanctified either in his own
person, or by his express approbation, or by his presence. The
basis of all these relations of human life is that of marriage,
and this natural tie, He not only sanctioned, but raised it up to
a holy sacrament of his religion. It is a false idea of the
Christian religion, and one which is most injurious, to imagine
that it requires of us to stifle all natural affections, and to
escape from society, in order to lead a Christian life. It
teaches that the way of salvation, and the high roads to
sanctity, are chiefly through the fulfilment of the common duties
of every day life. "_For God created all things,_" says Holy
Writ, "_that they might be: and he made the nations of the
earth for health: and there is no poison of destruction in them,
nor kingdom of hell upon earth._" [Footnote 64]

    [Footnote 64: Wisdom i., 14.]

{165}

The world made up of human relationships and the common pursuits
of life, called society, is not at enmity with God. Nature art,
science, human society, are not opposed to Christianity, nor
contrary to Christian perfection. Many Christians have become
great saints surrounded only by the scenery of nature; others
while cultivating the arts and sciences; others again have
reached an eminent degree of perfection while fulfilling their
common every day duties. For the visible creation is good, and
there is nothing in man's nature incompatible with the absolute
perfections of God, as is proved in the fact that our Saviour was
in all respects in his humanity a man, and at the same time truly
God. "_All things,_" says Holy Scripture, "_cooperate for
good to those who love God._" The true Christian Church
incorporates and consecrates nature and art in her worship--she
appeals to the whole nature of every man, and opens a way to
heaven for men of all classes, and in every condition of society.

The task was left to the sects which sprung from the religious
revolution of the sixteenth century, to exclude nature and art
from Christian worship, to divorce faith and science, to degrade
the sacrament of matrimony to a mere civil contract, and to teach
men that they were wholly depraved.

{166}

The authors of this revolution in Christianity, seemed to take
delight in parcelling the realm of Christian truth into wrangling
creeds, and in rendering Christian worship rigid, gloomy and
repulsive. And in this they found freedom, progress, and the
light of the pure gospel!

How narrow and grovelling are the minds which never rise to the
contemplation of that unity which reconciles all truths, all
beauties, and all goodness! Will that day ever dawn when
Christianity will find a people sufficiently great to grant to
its divine truths fair play with their intelligence, and a full
sway to her influence over their whole lives?--when men of
genius, of science and of learning will understand that the true
end of all knowing, all loving and all doing is the same as that
of religion, to render the souls of men more like their Creator,
and to aid others in this divine work?

{167}

Where then is the world which, as Christians, we are called upon
to separate from? There is a world which God made for the use of
man. He made it good, and good it remains while rightly used.
There is another world which man has made, and it is framed out
of the abuse of the creatures of God's world.

The whole difficulty lies in the fact that men generally do not
consider the things of creation rightly, or use them properly;
and the great world around us consists in the main of those who
thus misunderstand God's world, and live by the abuse and
perversion of it, led on by their inordinate desires. This is
"the world seated in wickedness," on which we must turn our
backs, for to be a friend of it, is to be an enemy of God. A few
illustrations will make this point plain.

How few there are who look upon nature in that light in which she
was intended to be seen by her Creator. Seen in this light, the
whole visible world of nature raises up our thoughts and
affection to our common Creator. For nature has ever been true
and loyal to her Author. The Psalmist only gives expression to
the natural and spontaneous impulses of the soul when in
beholding the visible world, he exclaims: "_O Lord, our Lord,
how admirable is thy name in the whole earth_." How few in
looking upon nature, raise up their thoughts to nature's God.
{168}
They do not go beyond, but stop with what they see. To them,
nature is the highest and most complete expression of strength,
beauty, and truth. Nature is fair, but how much fairer is He who
made nature what she is! They forget the King in their blind
admiration of his vestments. They become the servants and slaves
of nature, instead of being her master and high-priest. Their
worship of nature excludes her Creator and Lord, and they become
like the heathen idolaters of whom the Apostle speaks: "_They
worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed
for ever_." [Footnote 65]

    [Footnote 65: Rom. i., 25.]

What do we find for the most part in the world of art? Do we see
artists who are conscious of the great purposes of their noble
vocation? Do they aim by the creations of their genius to raise
less gifted minds to gaze upon the archetype of all beauty,
truth, and goodness? Do they strive so to embody what is noblest
and best in man's nature as to captivate his imagination, and
enkindle an enthusiasm for its imitation?
{169}
There are a few such; a few who are men, no less than artists,
and who regard their vocation as something akin to what is
sacred, and would look upon it as desecration to employ their
gifts in such way us to lead men aside from the realization of
the great end of their existence. But the many study to clothe
with forms of borrowed beauty the expressions which spring from
the lowest passions of their nature. The lessons which their
productions teach, were they interpreted and expressed in words,
would shock the unvitiated feelings of the heart, causing the
innocent cheek to blush with shame. Quoting with sophistical
blindness the text, "_To the pure all things are pure_,"
they imagine they are justified in violating every rule of
Christian decency, every feeling of modesty, and every maxim of
morality. Under the pretext of being true to nature, they
misrepresent nature, by presenting what is lowest in man, and
that in its exaggerated and depraved developments, and thereby
add excitement to his already inordinate appetites and aid
powerfully to his further degradation. Art, instead of being an
angel pointing with its fore-finger to heaven, showing man the
way to his destiny, and aiding him to its attainment, is turned
into a Siren, enticing men to sin and destruction.

{170}

In the world of science and literature, the same thing takes
place. It would appear that the aim of most men devoted to
science is, in a great measure, to undermine the basis of
religious conviction in the soul, instead of adding to its
strength and support. What is more reasonable than to suppose
that the sentiments of religion should increase in proportion to
the acquisition of the knowledge of truth, for the end of all
knowledge of truth is God. And yet, if you select from almost any
branch of science, those who are pre-eminent, you will, in all
probability, find that those who believe in Christianity and
practise its precepts, are in the minority, a very small
minority. What a strange perversion of the gift of intelligence
to study the works of creation, in order to overturn the
Revelation of the Creator!

Popular literature is of the same stamp. It would be high praise
to say of a popular author that his writings contain nothing
contrary to morals or religion. It would seem to be the aim of
some to substitute vice for virtue, and so to cloak passion with
the garb of innocence as to make obedience to them an act of
religion.
{171}
Familiarity with our popular literature would be a sad
preparation for the reception of religious impressions, or for
the practice of virtue. Briefly, in art, in science, and
literature, there reigns for the greater part, an indifference to
Christianity, the spirit of paganism, and a practical atheism.

Let us now look about ourselves in society. Here is a man
possessed with the desire for distinction and places of honor.
His thoughts by day, and his dreams at night, are set upon them.
He is a lawyer, and aims at being at the head of the bar, or at
becoming a judge. He is a politician, he seeks to be an alderman,
or a state senator, or a congressman. He knows not but one day he
may be the president of the United States. Does he seek these by
legitimate means? Not at all. To gain popularity he sacrifices
all self-respect, and bribery is connived at to obtain votes. If
his religion is likely to aid his efforts, he _uses_ it; you
will find him in church, and he gives liberally about election
times to its charitable institutions.
{172}
Should his religion stand in his way, he ceases to practice its
duties. Should it serve his purpose, he becomes a free-mason, or
an odd fellow, or a member of some other secret society.

Another is driven on by an inordinate desire for riches. Not
content with the rewards of an honest trade, or a respectable
business, he must make money easier and faster. He starts a
saloon or a liquor store, and to conceal the low and disgraceful
character of his traffic, he places on his house a sign in large
letters, "Bonded Warehouse," "Rectifying Distillery," "Importer
of Foreign Liquors," or some other like falsehood. His foreign
and domestic wines and liquors, are made of bad spirits, some
coloring matter and essences, with fusil oil; and these he deals
out for genuine, making from two to three hundred per cent.
profit. Under the plea of providing for a family, and it may be
that he has neither chick nor child, he opens in the city several
such--Rectifying Distilleries!! What does this man care about the
scandal which he is the occasion of to his religion, or the
poverty and wretchedness he spreads abroad in his neighborhood,
or the number of souls which he sends to an untimely and
unprepared grave, caused by his poisonous stuffs, so that he gain
wealth without effort and rapidly.

{173}

Another, a young man who is bent upon seeking pleasure. He
frequents low theatres, ball-rooms, and bar-rooms. He meets
companions, he gambles, and occasionally he puts his hand in the
till of his employer's drawer, or he forges his paper. The
effects of late hours, intoxication and debauchery, by and by,
show themselves on his face, a faint picture of the corruption
which these vices have produced in his heart. He ends his life as
an uncurable in a public hospital; or detected, he spends his
time and dies in a penitentiary.

Here is a girl whose mind and imagination are filled with parties
of pleasure, and forbidden friendships, gathered for the most
part from reading popular literature and infectious novels. Her
prayers are forgotten, the sacraments neglected, and she dreams
of amusements and romantic attachments. Dress, tone of voice,
every step and movement of her person betray the inordinate
passions which have taken possession, and reign now in her bosom.
To fill up the sketch, all that is now needed is time and
opportunity, to complete her ruin, and make her a public shame.

{174}

From these illustrations it is easily seen which world it is
that, as followers of Christ, we are to separate from. It is this
world fabricated of error, of the abuse of created things, and
engendered of inordinate desires. This is the world of which the
Apostle speaks when he says: "_Love not the world, nor the
things which are in the world. If any man love the world the
charity of the Father is not in him: for all that is in the
world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of
the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but
of the world_." [Footnote 66]

    [Footnote 66: 1 John ii., 15-16.]

There is then a world which is formed of the things which God has
made, and the right use of these things by us; and this is an
innocent and righteous world, of which it is said: "_God was in
Christ, reconciling the world to himself_." [Footnote 67]

    [Footnote 67: 2 Cor. v., 9.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is 2 Cor. v., 19.]

There is a world which is made up of error, and the abuse men
make of created things; and this is the wicked and ungodly world
condemned in Holy Scripture.
{175}
On the one let us look with interest and delight, and from the
other let us separate and stand far apart, as did our blessed
Lord and his Saints, giving heed to the advice of St. Augustine:
"Let the spirit of God be in thee," he says, "that thou mayest
see that all these created things are good; but woe to thee if
thou love the things made, and forsake the Maker of them! Fair
are they to thee; but how much fairer He that formed them!"

      ----------------
{176}

            Sermon XI.

    The Afflictions Of The Just.

  "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
  and shall say all manner of evil against you, for my sake.
  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because your reward is very
  great in heaven; for so they persecuted the Prophets that were
  before you."
    --St. Matt, v., 11, 12.

  (From the Gospel for All Saints' Day.)


I am about to preach you an old sermon this morning; but I doubt
not, my dear friends, you will find it all the better for being
old, and quite appropriate, moreover, to this day's feast, for it
will carry us back to the earlier ages of Christianity, when
living saints were more abundant than now.

{177}

In a vast desert of Palestine, which lay near the boundaries of
Arabia, there dwelt, during the fourth century of the Christian
era, a number of devout hermits, who, after a life of great
innocence and saintly virtue, were cruelly massacred by the
Saracens. Some of their brethren, deeply afflicted and
scandalized by this outrage, began to ask themselves, how it was
possible that God should permit such holy men to perish by the
hand of these wicked infidels. In their perplexity, they deputed
several of their number to visit and consult an aged Egyptian
hermit who, on account of the great veneration in which he was
held, and the number of disciples gathered around him, was called
the Abba, or Abbot Theodore. These came to him with their sad
story, and besought him to explain why God should permit such
holy men to perish so miserably, and how he could consent to the
triumph of these cruel barbarians over his saints.

I invite your particular attention, my brethren, to his answer;
for perhaps you have asked similar questions yourselves. In the
various wars in which nations have engaged, and even in those
where the interests of religion seemed most involved, we do not
see that victory has always perched upon those banners which the
prayers of God's people have blessed.
{178}
So it has been throughout the history of the Church, and
especially during the past three centuries. Who can recount the
calamities which from year to year have fallen upon the children
of the faith? The soul grows sick to read of kingdoms wrested by
violence into schism and heresy, the burnings of monasteries and
convents, or their confiscation to the state, the persecution of
the Catholic clergy, the oppression of the laity. And especially
when we turn our thoughts to Ireland, poor, faithful, down
trodden Ireland--is it not wonderful that every thing seems to
turn out to her disadvantage, and to the prosperity of her
oppressors? Have you not sometimes been tempted to exclaim: "Has
God forgotten Ireland? Has she clung to her faith so long in
vain, amid poverty, oppression and bloodshed? Has heaven no
favors for her? Why does not God give victory always to the just
cause?" Or, perhaps, you have noticed in your own neighborhood,
how often the most faithful servants of God have been visited by
heavy afflictions, long sickness, loss of property, death of
children and other dear friends, while others, destitute of
faith, piety, and of all virtuous principle, seem to prosper on
every hand.
{179}
And perhaps, seeing this, the thought arises in your mind: "Does
not God take notice of these things? Has He no chastisement for
the wicked, no sympathy for the good? Why does He not take part
with his own, and make them prosper most?" All these murmurings
are like those of the good anchorites who visited Abbot Theodore,
and his answer to their questions will answer yours.

  (_Prelude of Abbot Theodore_.)--"These questions, my
  brethren," said he, "only astonish those who, having little
  faith and little light, think that the saints ought to receive
  their recompense in this life, while God reserves it for them
  in the other. But we have far different thoughts. If our hopes
  in Christ were only for the present life, we should be, as St.
  Paul tells us, the most miserable among men, having no
  recompense in this world, and losing heaven also by our want of
  faith. We ought to guard our minds against this error, for it
  would leave us without hope or courage in the moment of
  temptation, fill us with distrust of God, and so bring us into
  sin, and to our ruin."

{180}

After this short prelude, he goes on to show that God neither
sends nor permits any real evil to those that love Him, but that,
on the contrary, all things contribute to the welfare of the
just. And this is his argument:

  I. God Neither Sends Nor Permits Any Real Evil, &c.

  "Every thing in this world," said the good abbot, "is either
  good, or bad, or indifferent. There is nothing really good but
  virtue, which conducts us to God. There is nothing really bad
  but sin, which separates us from God. In different things are
  such as hold a middle place between good and evil, and may pass
  into one or the other, according to the disposition of him that
  uses them. Such are riches, honor, health, beauty, life, death,
  sickness, poverty, injuries, insults, &c."

  "This distinction laid, let us see whether God has ever sent
  any real evil to his saints, or permitted any one to do them a
  real injury. That is something that we shall never be able to
  make out. For no one is able to make a man fall into sin, who
  is unwilling and resists, but only those who consent to it, and
  give admittance to it, by the effeminacy of their hearts, and
  the depravity of their will.
{181}
  The demon employed every possible artifice against holy Job to
  make him murmur against God; but in spite of all the
  afflictions which he heaped upon him, body and soul, he could
  not provoke him so far as to sin even with his lips, and thus
  fall into the only real evil he had to fear. We must not think,
  therefore, that the ill turns which our enemies or other
  persons sometimes do us are really evils, but they belong
  rather to the class of indifferent things. To be sure, they may
  think to have done us harm, and rejoice at it; but the harm
  does not depend upon what they may think, so long as we do not
  count it for such. For example: a good man is put to death,
  without any just cause or provocation. Now, we must not suppose
  that any thing really evil in itself has happened to him, but
  simply something which is either good or evil, according to
  circumstances. For, in truth, death, which is commonly counted
  to be an evil, comes with a blessing to the just man, for it
  delivers him from all the afflictions of this life. Thus death
  is no harm to him; and although the malice of his enemies
  anticipates the order of nature by leading him to a sudden
  death, the good man thereby only pays a little sooner a debt
  which he had to pay in any case, and he goes to receive an
  eternal crown, as the reward of his sufferings and death."

{182}

  Upon this, one of the party named Germanns, raised a
  difficulty. "In that case," said he, "we should have no reason
  to blame the murderer, since he does no harm to the one he
  kills, but only speeds him the sooner on to his salvation."

  "We are speaking of things as they are in themselves," said
  Abbot Theodore, "and not of the intention of those who do them.
  The patience and virtue of the just man in his sufferings and
  death, is a crown to himself, but no justification of his
  persecutor. The latter will be punished for his cruelty, and
  for the evil which he intended to do, while the good man has in
  reality suffered no harm, but by his patience has changed into
  a blessing the evil which was devised against him. For example:
  the wonderful patience of Job was of no service to Satan, but
  it was of inestimable value to Job himself, who endured his
  trials with so much courage and resignation.
{183}
  So Judas is none the less subjected to eternal torments,
  because his treason contributed to the salvation of men; for in
  the eye of divine justice, an action is not so much to be
  judged by its results, as by the intention of the person who
  did it."

These high, and holy maxims of Christian philosophy being thus
firmly established, our good hermit, growing warm with his
subject, begins to rise to still loftier and more beautiful
conceptions, like a bee coming out from its search in the flower,
and shaking the golden pollen from its wings.



  II. All Things Contribute To The Welfare Of The Just.

  "We say of some men that they are born to good luck, and that
  every thing they put their hands to turns out well. We deceive
  ourselves when we say this; it is only true of the Saints, and
  in a spiritual sense. '_We know_,' says St. Paul, '_that
  all things work together for good to them that love God_.'
  [Footnote 68]

      [Footnote 68: Rom. viii., 28.]

{184}

  Wonderful truth! Beautiful truth! And the Prophet David says
  the same thing of every man whose will is in the Law of God:
  _All, whatsoever he shall do, shall prosper._ [Footnote
  69]

      [Footnote 69: Ps. i., 3.]

  Now, when the Apostle says that '_all things work together
  for good_,' he means not only prosperity, but also what is
  called adversity. And why? Why, because those who truly and
  perfectly love God remain unchanged in all the vicissitudes of
  life. They have but one end in view--eternal life, and only
  one means to attain to it, namely, to do the will of God. This
  they can do in all weathers, in rain or sunshine. Indeed, like
  the stormy petrel, they gather most in stormy weather. For what
  reflecting Christian does not know the sweet uses of adversity,
  which, by severing the hopes that bound us to the earth, and
  opening our eyes to the fact that we are but pilgrims here,
  with a right of passage only, teach us to fix our hopes on
  heaven alone, and labor to build up our fortunes there? The
  great Apostle, who himself had passed through the various paths
  of adversity, teaches us how to turn all the vicissitudes of
  life, both its joys and sorrows, into golden occasions of
  merit, fighting our way onward to heaven, as he says, '_with
  the strength which God gives us, by the arms of justice, on the
  right hand and on the left;_' that is, as he goes on to
  explain, '_through honor and dishonor, through infamy and
  good name, as dying and behold we live, as sorrowful and yet
  always rejoicing, as having nothing and yet possessing all
  things?_' [Footnote 70]

    [Footnote 70: 2 Cor. vi., 8-10]

{185}

  "All therefore, that passes for prosperity, and is consequently
  _on the right hand_, such as glory, and good reputation,
  and success in temporal affairs, and all that passes for
  adversity, and thus, according to the language of St. Paul, is
  _on the left hand_, such as disgrace and evil report, and
  temporal disappointment;--all to the perfect Christian serve
  alike for arms of justice, holy weapons to win his crown with,
  because he receives every thing that comes with the same great
  heart, and allows himself to be cast down by nothing. And
  therefore the Prophet says of him: '_The holy man continues
  in wisdom like the sun_.'[Footnote 71]

    [Footnote 71: Ecclus. xxvii. 12.]

    [Transcriber's note: Ecclesiastes ends at chapter 12.
    Text is similar to Sirach xxvii. 11.]

  But for those who change every moment, and show different
  humors and different dispositions of heart, according to the
  different chances and changes of life--let them listen to these
  words of the same Prophet, which were spoken for their especial
  benefit: _The fool changes like the moon.'_ [Footnote 72]

    [Footnote 72:  Ecclus. xxvii. 12.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB citation is Sirach xxvii. 11;
    "the godless man, like the moon, is inconstant."]

{186}

And, therefore, every thing turns to evil for them, according to
the proverb: '_Every thing to the foolish man is contrary_,'
[Footnote 73] because he does not improve in prosperity, nor
correct his ways in adversity. It will not do for the Christian
to be like wax, which takes any form that may be impressed upon
it; but like a diamond seal, he should keep unchangeably the form
impressed upon his heart by the hand of God, showing no change in
the different events of life.

    [Footnote 73: Prov. xiv. 7. So in the lxx. ]

"In Holy Scripture [Footnote 74] we read of one Aod, a great
warrior, and a leader of the Israelites, who was what is called
an _ambidexter_, that is, he could use the left hand as well
as the right. This man," said Abbot Theodore, "is a type of the
perfect Christian, who is always an ambidexter, making use of
both prosperity and adversity to advance the salvation of his
soul, and increase his merits, fighting the good fight of faith,
'_with the arms of justice, on the right hand and on the
left_.'

    [Footnote 74: Judges ii.]

{187}

It is the duty of us all to exercise ourselves in the use of this
holy armor, that we may, like Aod, be dexterous warriors, able to
carry our swords in either hand, and meet our foes on whatever
side they may advance, temperate in prosperity, patient in
adversity, never fainting, always rejoicing, seeking for nothing,
hoping for nothing, knowing nothing in this world but "Jesus
Christ and Him crucified," and thus, by this blessed alchemy of
the Saints, turning all things into gold.

"You see, therefore, my dear friends," so concluded the good
hermit, "that we have no occasion to deplore the death of these
saintly solitaries, as if they had suffered some great
misfortune, or as if their enemies had triumphed over them; and
still less have we any right to complain of God, as if He had
forsaken or forgotten his own. On the contrary, they have gone to
their rest, like the laboring man at night-fall; they have been
shaken from the tree where they grew, like ripe figs in the
harvest time, and their Divine Master has gathered them in. Their
death was cruel and miserable in the eyes of man, but precious in
the sight of God, for so the Psalmist tells us: '_Precious in
the sight of God is the death of his Saints_.' [Footnote 75]

    [Footnote 75: Psalm cxv., 15.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Psalm cxvi., 15.]

{188}

Do not believe that, even if it were left to their choice, they
would wish to come back again to this world, to live longer in
it, nor would they choose any other death than that by which they
have quitted it. Indeed there was little room for choice in the
matter, since, as the Apostle says, '_for them to live was
Christ and to die was gain_,' [Footnote 76] it being the
privilege of the Saints to prosper in all that befalls them."

    [Footnote 76: Phil, i., 21.]

    [Transcriber's note: Similarly, Phil., 1., 23,
    "I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
    (for) that is far better."]

See! my dear brethren, it is not I that have been speaking to
you, but an ancient Father of the desert. I have preached to you
an old sermon, and well nigh word for word as it was spoken
fifteen hundred years ago in the Egyptian wilderness. I have done
so purposely, in order that you may take notice that the
Christians of those early times were subject to disasters and
afflictions as you are now, and tried by the same temptations.
You see also what kind of consolation they found in their
religion, what kind of counsel they received from their spiritual
advisers, and how they turned their sorrows and adversities to
good account.
{189}
Their time of trial was over long ago; and now they are happy. No
doubt, they look back with pleasure upon those very sorrows, as
belonging to the sweetest and holiest days of their pilgrimage on
earth--days of patient resignation, and childlike trust, and
Christian courage--days when they wept much, but prayed all the
more--days when the current of earthly joys was at its lowest
ebb-tide, but the waters of heavenly grace were at their fullest
flood-tide, and therefore, days of golden gain. Oh! let it be so
with you, my brethren, in your afflictions! What would you have?
The Christians of other ages have journeyed on cheerfully toward
heaven bearing their cross. Would you ride thither at your ease?
Would you wear your crown without winning it? Would you be saved
by the sufferings of Christ, and refuse to take your share of
suffering? No! arm yourselves with Christian fortitude. Meet
adversities patiently, manfully, trustfully, as these good
Christians did of old. Be like them in the trials of this world,
and then, like them too in the recompense of the other, "_your
sorrows shall be turned into joy_," and your joy will be all
the greater for the sorrows you have endured.

     ----------------------

{190}

        Sermon XII.

        False Maxims.

  "Lord, that I may see."
  --St. Luke xviii., 41.

 (From the Gospel for Quinquagesima Sunday.)


Blindness is a very common thing, if we may judge by the many
false maxims afloat. We find them everywhere and in every thing,
in politics, in business, in the government of children, in
religion. Wherever they are, they are pernicious and destructive.
In business they lead to bankruptcy and ruin; in politics to
disunion, revolution and anarchy; in the government of families
to dissipation and worthlessness. But of all false maxims, the
most pernicious and destructive are those relating to religion:
because they involve the loss of the soul, of all our interests,
hopes, and happiness in one great ruin.

{191}

There are many such. One will say: "It's no matter what a man's
faith may be. All religions are alike, they are different roads
that lead to the same end. Let a man only act right, and he can
throw all creeds over board; whether Jew, Turk, Heathen,
Protestant or Catholic, it makes no difference." A man who speaks
thus is no Catholic, nor is he ever like to be. He has put out
the light of Jesus Christ, who holds up to us "one faith, one
Lord, one baptism," and gropes along to his ruin in a darkness of
his own creation. But I don't mean to speak of such. I would
rather speak of the false maxims of certain Catholics by which
they persuade themselves that all will be right, though the Lord
and Savior says that all is wrong, and so rush blindly to their
ruin.

One of the first of these maxims is this: _Because I'm a
Catholic I shall be sure to get to heaven_. Where did such a
notion come from? You are sure of heaven only on condition of
behaving yourself as you ought.
{192}
If you have a ticket on the cars and misbehave, you are put off
at the first station; so what ever rights you have to heaven in
virtue of being a Catholic are forfeited when you cease to live
as a Catholic ought to live. If you sin, your being a Catholic
won't hinder you from losing all the privileges of your baptism.
Where did you get the notion that it's enough to be a Catholic
without being a practical one? Was it from the Church of God? The
very first word addressed you by her, was in your baptism, when
you were asked: "What dost thou ask of the Church of God?" The
answer was: "Faith." "What does faith bring thee to?" was the
next question. The reply was: "Eternal life." Then spoke out the
Church right solemnly: "If thou wilt enter into life _keep the
commandments_." Keeping the commandments is here the plain
condition for obtaining eternal life, and nothing else. That's
what the Lord himself said to the young man who asked the
question: "What shall I do that I may have everlasting life?" His
reply was in the very same words: "_Keep the commandments_."
[Footnote 77]

    [Footnote 77: St. Matt, xix., 16, 17.]

{193}

To whom is that addressed? To Catholics. Who says it? The God of
heaven and earth. Do you believe Him? If you do, you must give up
the idea of being saved merely because you are a Catholic, but
expect salvation by being a good one, and keeping the
commandments. What's more, the Divine Scriptures expressly state
that it is not enough to profess the faith without good works.
"_Know ye not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of
God. Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor
idolaters, nor the effeminate, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor
drunkards, shall possess the kingdom of God_." [Footnote 78]

    [Footnote 78: 1 Cor. vi., 9, 10.]

Who are addressed? Heathens? No; they are Catholics; the
Corinthians who had been baptized and received the sacraments.
Under what figure is the Church of God represented in Scripture?
As a net that contains fish both good and bad. Yes, they are not
all good fish that are in the net; there are bad ones. What is
said of these bad ones? That at the last day they shall be sorted
out and given to the fire. The Church is compared to a field sown
with good grain and overrun with tares. Are the tares rooted up
in this world?
{194}
No, they grow together with the wheat until the harvest; that is,
until the judgment at the end of the world: then comes the
division, and the burning of the tares. Listen to the explanation
of the Lord: "_So shall it be at the end of the world. The
Angels shall go out and shall separate the wicked from among the
just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth_." [Footnote 79]

    [Footnote 79: St. Matt, xiii., 49.]

If you are acting on any such maxim you have blinded yourself,
you have put out the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and
walk in a way of your own devising, to your eternal destruction.

Another false principle of a great many is this: _Because they
don't lead what they call very bad lives, they cannot, as they
imagine, be among the damned:_ In other words, they don't and
won't believe that one mortal sin is the death of the soul. Where
did this notion come from? From the Church? I would like to know
where. What Apostles, Doctors of the Church, Pontiffs, Priests,
or Laymen, that ever wrote on the matter, ever broached such an
idea?
{195}
For eighteen hundred long years the Church, we may say, has done
nothing else but repeat over and over that one mortal sin will
damn the soul. Did any Priest ever preach to the contrary? I
never heard one do so; I never heard of one who had done so. And
yet, Catholic people do sometimes get this folly into their
minds. An old man, quite a respectable one too, came to me not
long ago: "Father, I have a temptation on a point of faith."
"What is it?" "I can't believe that one mortal sin will damn the
soul. I heard the Missionary say so in his sermon, but I didn't
believe him. I think I have heard the contrary from other
Priests." I said to him: "My friend, I cannot believe you ever
did. It's a notion you've picked up from another quarter." Why,
what do we mean when we speak of mortal sin? The very word mortal
means deadly. Don't you see, the very definition of mortal sin,
is a sin that grievously offends God and brings with it the death
of the soul? It is deliberately rejecting God with your eyes wide
open. Once is enough. Spit in a man's face once, you need not do
it a second time. Play the hypocrite with him once, he won't
trust you again.
{196}
Renounce his friendship once, and friendship is over. Your friend
will forgive you many little offences, but trample once on some
right, on some feeling which he holds dear and sacred, and once
is enough. How many times must you spit in God's face, play the
hypocrite with Him, turn your back on Him, trample on His most
sacred commandments, before you expect Him to be angry? One
mortal sin is enough because it is mortal. Many don't and won't
believe this. Hear what they say: "I'm a good one to attend mass.
I don't miss it of my own fault more than five or six times a
year." "Do you ever get drunk?" "Oh, not a great deal, only a
reasonable share, now and again, a few times in the course of the
year;" and so on of other things. The devil has blinded them.
They are travelling along with the great crowd, singing and
laughing, down the broad road that leads to the pit of hell.
Listen to what the Scriptures say: "_Be converted and do
penance for all your iniquities, and iniquity shall not be your
ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions by which you
have transgressed, and make to yourself a new heart, and a new
spirit; for why will you die, O house of Israel_." [Footnote
80] That's it. "All" is the word. Nothing short of this will save
from ruin.

    [Footnote 80: Ezechiel xviii., 30, 31.]

{197}

Another false maxim: _That we shall be saved by the sacraments,
no matter how we receive them._ A great many have evidently
some such principle lurking in their minds. The way they make
confession shows it. The only idea with them seems to be to wipe
off old scores and to be at more liberty to begin afresh. The
load of sin gets heavy; it begins to press upon the conscience;
it makes one uneasy. What's to be done to get rid of it? Pitch it
off upon the Priest's back. Then he will become responsible; they
need give themselves no farther trouble about it. They have
brought the same load of mortal sin now for many years, perhaps
every half-year, and, what's more, they really expect to do the
same until their death. Some come concealing their sins time and
again. If an absolution can be got out of the Priest, it makes no
matter how. It is the absolution they want; all the same to them
whether God sanctions it or not. So when the Priest refuses,
seeing that they are not prepared, they beg for it.
{198}
"Oh Father, do give me the absolution!" "You are not fit for it."
"Oh, but you can give it if you please," they say. Sometimes they
threaten, "If I'm not absolved, I won't come again." Sometimes
they plead occupation: "If I go away without absolution, I cannot
come again without great inconvenience;" as if their convenience
should entitle them to absolution, without penitence, and the
purpose of amendment.

This is indeed taking out of the sacraments all their life and
spirit, and reducing them to a mere form. This is what our Lord
called the religion of the Scribes and Pharisees, who made clean
the outside of the platter, but left the inside greasy and
filthy. These go through the form of confession, merely keeping
up an outside appearance of piety, but their hearts are full of
rottenness and filth. Does the Church teach any such thing? No,
far from it. She teaches that the indispensable condition of
forgiveness is a true, heartfelt sorrow for every mortal sin,
with a firm, unflinching determination to avoid every such sin
for the rest of one's life.
{199}
She is the _Holy_ Catholic Church, and her teaching is as
pure as the sunlight on this point; it is clearly laid down in
all her catechisms and instructions, so that no one need make any
mistake about it. Nevertheless the Lord foresaw that many would
blind themselves in spite of all this. He represents them
standing at the judgment and saying: "_Lord, have we not eaten
and drunk at thy table?_" [Footnote 81]

    [Footnote 81: St. Luke xiii., 26. ]

Yes, we received the sacraments; certainly there can't be any
mistake, it must be all right. What is the answer? "_Depart
from me, workers of iniquity, I know not whence ye are_."
[Footnote 82]

    [Footnote 82: St. Luke xiii., 27.]

Sacraments received wrongfully work out, not the salvation, but
the damnation of the soul. So St. Paul speaks of those who,
through their sins, did not discern the Lord's body, being weak
and sickly--speaks also of eating and drinking judgment to one's
self.

If this last is a false and fatal error, how much more horrible
is it when it assumes a new shape and comes out in this form:
_Oh, I will live as I please, and the last sacraments will make
it all right. I'll send for the priest before I die_. Judas
when finishing his act of perfidy, kissed the Saviour whom he had
deliberately and wantonly betrayed.
{200}
So these desert and betray Christ and his holy religion, and then
go to make it up with a last kiss; a kiss full of hypocrisy and
only given through a dire necessity that presses them. Is any
hope held out in Scripture for the victims of such delusions?
"_If ye live according to the flesh ye shall die_."
[Footnote 83]

    [Footnote 83: Rom. viii., 13.]

"_What a man soweth that shall he reap_." [Footnote 84]

    [Footnote 84: Gal. vi., 7.]

"_Ye shall cry unto me Lord, but the Lord will, not hear
you_." "Ye shall seek me and ye shall not find me; ye shall
die in your sins." [Footnote 85]

    [Footnote 85: St. John viii., 21.]

Small comfort this to those who are cheating themselves with the
idea of sending for the priest, and receiving the sacraments on
their death-beds. Priests and sacraments, if they do receive them
(which is a thing extremely doubtful), will do no good without
contrition, and who will answer for the contrition of one who has
persisted in outraging God through a whole life, and who, now
that death stares him in the face, and in the midst of pain and
fever and stupor, must set the accounts of conscience in order.
The whole demeanor of such persons shows, only too frequently,
how little they realize their condition, and what a wretched
reliance death-bed repentance is, for the salvation of the soul.

{201}

Such are some of the false maxims that put out the eyes of the
soul. Whence do they spring? From an evil and perverse heart. A
man given up to sin must justify himself in some way or other. He
therefore makes light of sin--seeks to persuade himself that its
consequences are not so dreadful--that after all, when it comes
to the very point, God will not allow these consequences to fall
upon him. They say a drowning man will catch at a straw. So these
persons, though they know the truth, catch at every straw that
holds out the least prospect of safety--every flimsy pretense
that holds out encouragement for a life of sin; every false maxim
that holds out a ground of hope. They call such things up on
every occasion to fortify their own minds. They repeat them over
to their friends, as if by hearing them a number of times they
might seem to have more foundation in them. They like to hear
others say such things; it gives them a wonderful encouragement
to go on. So the blind lead the blind. At last this false
reasoning gets to be so habitual that they fall back upon it
whenever conscience begins to speak to their hearts.
{202}
As to turning to God and quitting sin, that they won't think of
even for a moment; so, in the words of Scripture, "_a strong
delusion is sent upon them to believe a lie_." It is sent upon
them, in the sense that they have drawn it on themselves. To be
sure, they don't really believe it, but they wish to believe it,
try to believe it, and fancy that they do believe it. Indeed, in
practice they may be said to believe, inasmuch as they have made
up their minds to act upon it. What a miserable state to be in is
this! Self-satisfied and self-blindfolded, to be drifting down
into hell, in a dream of careless and stupid indifference! The
poor blind man cried out with all his might, "_Lord! that I may
see!_" The loss of bodily sight is indeed a great calamity, a
thing to be keenly felt. The bare possibility of being restored
to sight, should be enough to make one cry out, with his whole
soul, 'Lord, Lord, that I may receive my sight!'
{203}
How much more deplorable when the eyes of the soul are put out!
How much more occasion to cry out in agony of spirit to Jesus the
true light, that enlightens every man that cometh into the
world--'Lord! that I may see! that I may understand the things
that belong to my peace; that I may arouse from my stupidity,
throw away all false delusions, and square myself by the maxims
of the Gospel, opening my eyes to those eternal truths revealed
by a God who can neither deceive nor be deceived!

Oh sinner! oh careless, indifferent Christian! if you have the
least desire to make your hope of heaven a sure hope, one that
shall not be confounded, cry with the blind man to Jesus,
"_Lord, that I may see!_" Cry aloud, repeat that cry, until
Jesus shall turn to you, and grant your request. Show that you
are in earnest by taking the means to get your soul enlightened.
Go and hear the word of God preached on the Sundays. Don't do as
so many do, that go to Low Mass, early, and hear no sermon from
one month to another. Make a practice to go to High Mass, where
Jesus Christ, in the person of his priest, stands on purpose to
give you light. How can you expect light when you close your
eyes? How will the truths of the Gospel reach your heart and make
an impression there, if you never listen to them?
{204}
Preaching is the appointed means of receiving the truth.
"_Faith cometh by hearing!_" says the Holy Ghost. [Footnote
86]

    [Footnote 86: Rom. x., 17.]

Imitate the blind man. He found out where Jesus was expected to
come by; he went there. Do likewise. Go where Jesus is, to the
Church; cry to Him; listen to Him; when He speaks through his
holy Gospels; read them, and hear them explained by the living
voice of his representative, the Priest. Then you will have
light; you will have it abundantly, to your great joy and
consolation.

The promise is sure; there can be no failure. "_If any of you
lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly and
upbraideih not, and it shall be given him_." [Footnote 87]

    [Footnote 87: St. James i., 5.]

Ask for it, and you shall receive it. What is it? The light that
shall direct our feet in the way of peace, and carry us through
safely to the light of glory in heaven. The light of Christ,
"_in which the Priest from on high hath visited us, to
enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death:
to direct our feet in the way of peace_." [Footnote 88]

    [Footnote 88: St. Luke i., 78.]

   ---------------------

{205}

       Sermon XIII.

  Mary's Destiny A Type Of Ours.

  "Mary hath chosen the best part,
  which shall not be taken away from her."
  --St. Luke x., 42.

  (From the Gospel for the Assumption.)


To-day is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To-day she
entered into the enjoyment of heaven. The trials and troubles of
life are over. The time of banishment is ended. She closes her
eyes on this world and opens them to the vision of God. She is
exalted to-day above the choirs of angels to the heavenly
kingdom, and takes her seat at the right hand of her Son. I do
not mean to attempt any description of her glory in heaven. I am
sure whatever I could say would fall far short, not only of the
reality, but of your own glowing thoughts about her.
{206}
Who is there that needs to be told that the Blessed Virgin is
splendid in sanctity, dazzling in beauty, and exalted in power?
But, my brethren, it is possible to contemplate the Blessed
Virgin in such a way as to put her at too great a distance from
us. It is possible to conceive of her glory in heaven as flowing
entirely from her dignity as Mother of God, and therefore to
suppose it altogether unattainable by us; and as a consequence of
this, to regard her with feelings full of admiration indeed, but
almost as deficient in sympathy as if she were of an other nature
from us. Now this is to rob ourselves of so ennobling and
encouraging a part of our privilege as Christians, and at the
same time to take away from our devotion to the Blessed Virgin an
element so useful and important, that I have determined, on this
her glorious Feast, to remind you that our destiny and the
destiny of Mary are substantially the same.

And the first proof I offer of this is, that the glory of the
Blessed Virgin in heaven is not owing to her character as Mother
of God, but to her correspondence to grace--to her good works--to
her love of God--in a word, to her fidelity as a Christian.
{207}
This is certain, for it is the Catholic doctrine that the Blessed
Virgin, like every other saint, gained heaven only as the reward
of merit. Now she could not merit it by becoming the Mother of
God. Her being the Mother of God is indeed a most august dignity,
but there is no merit in it. It is a dignity conferred on her by
the absolute decree of God, just as He resolved to confer angelic
nature on angels, or human nature on men. It is no doubt a great
happiness and glory for us to be men, and not brutes, but there
is no merit in it; so there is honor but no merit in the Blessed
Virgin's being the Mother of God. Now if she did not merit heaven
by becoming the Mother of God, how did she merit it? for it is of
faith that heaven is the reward of merit. I answer, by her life
on earth. It was not as the Mother of God that she won heaven,
but as Mary, the daughter of Joachim, the wife of Joseph, the
mother of Jesus. It is impossible to read the Gospels without
seeing how careful our Lord was to make us understand this. He
seems to have been afraid, all along, that the splendor of that
character of Mother of God would eclipse the woman and the saint.
{208}
Thus once when He was preaching, a woman in the crowd, hearing
his words of wisdom, and, perhaps, piercing the veil of his
humanity, and thinking what a blessed thing it must be to be the
mother of such a son, exclaimed: "_Blessed is the womb that
bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck,_" [Footnote 89]
but He answered immediately: "_Yea rather, blessed are they who
hear the Word of God and keep it_."

    [Footnote 89: St. Luke xi., 27-28.]

No one doubts that the Blessed Virgin did hear the Word of God,
and keep it. So our Lord's words are as much as to say: 'You
praise my mother for being my mother; what I praise her for is
her sanctity.' In the same way, when they came to Him on another
occasion, when there was a great throng about Him, and said:
"_Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking
thee_," He answered: "_Who is my mother? and who are my
brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he
said: Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do
the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and
sister, and mother_." [Footnote 90]

    [Footnote 90: St. Matt, xii., 48-50.]

{209}

External advantages, however great, even to be related to the Son
of God, are as nothing in his sight, compared to that in which
all may have a part--obedience to his Father's will. Perhaps,
also, this is the explanation of his language at the marriage of
Cana in Galilee. When the wine failed, and his mother came to Him
and asked Him to exert his Divine power to supply the want, He
said: "_Woman, what hast thou to do with me? My time is not yet
come_." [Footnote 91]

    [Footnote 91: St. John, ii., 4.
    (Archbishop Kenrick's Translation.)]

He does not allow her request on the score of her maternal
authority, but what He refuses on this ground He grants to her
virtue and holiness, for He immediately proceeds to perform the
miracle she had asked for, though, as He said, his time was not
yet come. So, too, on the cross He commends the Blessed Virgin to
St. John's care, not under the high title of Mother, but the
lowly one of Woman. "_Woman, behold thy son._" [Footnote 92]

    [Footnote 92: St. John xix., 26.]

Now why was this? Did not our Lord love his Mother? Was He not
disposed to be obedient to her as his mother? Certainly; but it
was for our sakes He spoke thus.
{210}
In private, at Nazareth, we are told, he was "subject to her,"
but on these great public occasions, when crowds were gathered
around Him to hear Him preach, when He hung on the Cross, and a
world was looking on, He put out of view her maternal grandeur,
in compassion to us, lest there should be too great a distance
between her and us, and we should lose the force of her example.
He wished us to understand that Mary, high as she was, was a
woman, and in the same order of grace and Providence with us. We
might have said  Oh, the Blessed Virgin obtains what she asks for
on easy terms. She has but to ask and it is done. She enters
heaven as the son of a nobleman comes into his father's estate,
by the mere title of blood and lineage. But no: our Saviour says:
"_To sit on my right hand is not mine to give you, but to them
for whom it is prepared by my Father_." [Footnote 93]

    [Footnote 93: St. Matt, xx., 23.]

It is not a matter of favor and arbitrary appointment; not even
my Mother gains her glory in that way. She must comply with the
terms on which my Father promises heaven to men, and therefore
the Church applies to her words spoken of another Mary: "_Mary
hath chosen the best part; therefore it shall not be taken away
from her_."
{211}
Oh, blessed truth! Mary is one of us. Her destiny, high as it is,
is a human destiny. And she reached it in a human fashion. She
built that splendid throne of hers in heaven with care and labor
while she was on the earth. She laid the foundation of it in her
childhood, when her feet trod the Temple aisles. She reared its
pillars, when with faith, purity and obedience unequalled, she
received the message of the Archangel. And her daily life at
Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth, her holy, loving ways with
Joseph, and with Jesus, her perfect fulfilment of God's law, her
interior fervent acts of prayer, covered it with gold and ivory.
Then, when the blind world was going on its way of folly; while
one King Herod was deluging villages in blood, and another
steeping his soul in the guilt of incest, and of the blood of the
Son of God; while the multitude were doubting, and Scribes and
Pharisees disputing about Christ, the lowly Jewish maiden, with
no other secret but love and prayer, was preparing for herself
that bright mansion in Heaven wherein she now dwells, rejoicing
eternally with her Son.
{212}
Oh happy news! One, at least, of our race has perfectly fulfilled
her destiny. Here we can gain some idea of what God created us
for. Here is the destiny that awaits man when original sin does
not mar it; when co-operation with grace and unswerving
perseverance secure it. The Jews were proud of Judith. They said:
"_Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the joy of Israel;
thou art the honor of our people_." So we may say of Mary: 'O
Mary, thou art the pride of our race. In thee the design of God
in our creation has been perfectly attained. In thee the
redemption of Christ has had its perfect fruit. Mankind conceives
new hopes from thy success. Christ, indeed, has entered into
glory; but Christ was God. Mary is purely human, and Mary has
succeeded. Why tarry we here in the bondage of Egypt? Mary has
crossed the Red Sea, and has taken a timbrel in her hand and
sings her thanksgiving unto God. True it is that she is fleet of
foot, and we are halt and weak; but even she needed the grace of
God, and the same grace is offered to us, that we may run and not
faint. Listen to her song of triumph.
{213}
She does not set herself above us, but claims kindred with us,
and bids us hope for the same grace which she has received.
"_My soul doth magnify the Lord, for he hath exalted the
humble, and hath filled the hungry with good things. And his
mercy is from generation to generation to them that fear
him_."

Another proof that the destiny of the Blessed Virgin is
substantially the same with ours, is the fact that, in Scripture
the same expressions are used to describe her glory and ours.
Sometimes those who are not Catholics when they hear what high
words we use of the Blessed Virgin, are scandalized; but we use
almost no words of the Blessed Virgin that may not, in their
measure, be applied to other Saints. It is true that the Blessed
Virgin has some gifts and graces in which she stands alone--as
her character of Mother of God, and her Immaculate
Conception--but, as I said before, these are dignities and
ornaments conferred on her, and are not the source of her
essential happiness in Heaven. In other respects, her glory is
shared by all the Saints. Thus, Mary is called "Queen of Heaven;"
but are not all the blessed called in Holy Scripture, "_kings
and priests unto God_?" [Footnote 94]

    [Footnote 94: Apoc. i., 6.]

{214}

Is she said to sit at the "King's right hand?" and are not we too
promised a place at his right hand, and to "_sit on
thrones?_" [Footnote 95]

    [Footnote 95: Apoc. iii., 21.]

Is she called the "Morning Star?" and does not St. Paul, speaking
of all the Saints, say, "_star differeth from star in
glory_." [Footnote 96]

    [Footnote 96: 1 Cor. xv., 41.]

Is she called a "Mediatrix of Prayer?" and is it not said of
every just man, that his "_continual prayer availeth much?_"
[Footnote 97]

    [Footnote 97: St. James v., 16.]

Is she called "The Spouse of God?" and does not the Almighty,
addressing every faithful soul, say, "_My love, my dove, my
undefiled?_" [Footnote 98]

    [Footnote 98: Can. v., 2.]

Is she called the "Daughter of the Most High?" and are not we too
called the "_Sons of God?_" [Footnote 99]

    [Footnote 99: 1 St. John iii., 2.]

The glory of the Blessed Virgin, then, differs from that of the
other Saints in degree, but not in kind. She is not separated
from them, but is one of them. She goes before them. She is the
most perfect of them. But she is one of them. And for this
reason, the glory of the Blessed Virgin gives us the best
conception of the magnificence of our destiny. When a botanist
wishes to describe a flower, he selects the most perfect
specimen.
{215}
When an anatomist draws a model of the human frame, he makes it
faultless. So we, to gain the truest idea of our destiny, must
lift up our eyes to the Blessed Virgin on her heavenly throne,
and say: Oh! my soul, see for what thou art created. Think of
this my brethren, as often as you kneel before her image, or
meditate on her greatness. You cannot be what she is, but you can
be like her. She is a creature like you. She is a human being
like you. She is a Christian like you. And her joy, her beauty,
her glory, her wealth, her knowledge, her power--nay, even the
mighty efficacy of her intercession--are only what, in their
measure, God offers to you. "_Glory, honor and peace to_
EVERY ONE _that worketh good for there is no respect of persons
with God_." [Footnote 100]

    [Footnote 100: Rom. ii., 10.]

If these things be so, what greatness it gives to human life.
Perhaps, if you had lived in the times of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, you would never have noticed her; or if you had known her
by sight, what would she have seemed to you but a good little
Jewish girl, lowly and retiring in her manners and appearance?
{216}
or, later in life, a poor young woman thrust away, with her
husband, from a crowded inn, or fleeing by night with an infant
child? or, still later, the mother of a condemned malefactor,
watching his sufferings in the crowd. Herod did not know her, and
the nobles of Jerusalem were ignorant of her. She was not one of
the friends of the Queen's dancing daughters. Even the rustics of
the village of Bethlehem looked down on her. She carried no
servants about with her, and had no palace to live in. But Faith
tells us of angel visits, of union with God, of heavenly
goodness, and an immortal crown. So, in like manner, how our life
becomes grand and dignified when it is lighted up by faith! You
know there are porcelain pictures, which in the hand are rough
and unmeaning, but held up to the light reveal the most beautiful
scenes and figures; so our common ordinary life, rough and
unmeaning as it often seems, when enlightened by faith becomes
all divine. There is a little girl who learns her lessons and
obeys her parents, and tells the truth, and shuns every thing
that is wicked; why, as that little girl kneels down to pray, I
see a bright angel drawing near to her, and he smiles on her and
says: "_Hail! Blessed art thou: the Lord is with thee._"
{217}
That young man who, by a sincere conversion, has thrown off the
slavery of sin, and regained once more the grace of God--what is
his heart but another cave of Bethlehem, in which Christ is born,
and around which angels sing: "_Glory to God in the highest; on
earth, peace to men of good will_." That Christian family,
where daily prayers are offered, and instruction and good example
are given, and mutual fidelity is observed between the
members--what is it but the Holy House of Nazareth?--the House of
Jesus? Yes, good Christian, do not be cast down because you are
poor, or because you suffer, or because your opportunities of
doing good are limited; live the life of a Christian, and you are
living Mary's life on earth. We have not, indeed, Mary's perfect
sinlessness, but we have the graces of baptism, by which we may
vanquish sin. We have not, as she had, the visible presence of
our Lord, but we have Him invisibly in our hearts, and
sacramentally in the Holy Communion. We are not "full of grace,"
as she was, but we have grace without limit promised to us in
answer to prayer.
{218}
Let us assert the privileges of our birth-right. We belong to the
new creation. Angels claim kindred with us. God is our father.
Heaven is our home. We are the children of the Saints--yes, of
her who is the greatest of the Saints. Let us follow her
footsteps, that one day we may come to our Assumption, the glory
of which surpassed even the power of St. John to utter.
"_Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God, and it hath not
yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when He shall appear
we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is_."
[Footnote 101]

    [Footnote 101: 1 John iii., 2.]

Every thing depends on our co-operating with grace. How did the
Blessed Virgin arrive at such glory? By corresponding to every
grace. See her at her Annunciation. The Angel comes and tells her
of the grace God has prepared for her. If she had not believed,
if she had not assented, what would have come of it? Why, she
would have lost for all eternity the glory attached to that
grace. But she did not refuse. She was ready for the grace when
it was offered.
{219}
She said "_Fiat_," "_Be it done to me according to thy
word_." Oh, how much hung on that _Fiat!_ an eternal
glory in Heaven. So it is with us. There are moments in our lives
big with the issues of our future. God's purposes concerning the
soul have a certain order. He gives one grace; if we correspond
to that He gives another; if we do not correspond we lose those
that depended on it; some times, even, we lose our salvation
altogether. This is the key of your destiny--fidelity to grace.
You have an inspiration from God: He speaks to your soul. Oh,
listen to Him, and obey Him! To one He says: Abandon, O, sinner,
your evil life, and turn to Me with all your heart. "_Now is
the accepted time, now is the day of salvation!_" To another,
who is already in his grace, He sends inspirations to a more
perfect life, a life of higher prayer and more uninterrupted
recollection. Another, by the sweet attractions of his grace, He
draws away from home and kindred to serve Him as a Sister of
Charity by the bed of suffering; or as a nun, to live with Him in
stillness and contemplation; or as a priest to win souls for
heaven. Oh, speak the word that Mary spoke: "_Be it done to me
according to thy word_."
{220}
Are you in sin? Convert without delay. Are you leading a tepid,
imperfect life? Gird your loins to watchfulness and prayer. Do
you feel in yourselves a vocation to a religious or sacerdotal
life? Rise up and obey without delay. To-morrow may be too late.
The grace may be forfeited forever. Why stand we all the day
idle? Heaven is filling up. Each generation sends a new company
to the heavenly host. Time is going. The great business of life
remains unaccomplished. By our baptism we have been made children
of God and heirs of heaven. Labor we, therefore, to enter into
that rest. Mary, dear Mother, lift up thy voice for us in heaven,
that we, following thy footsteps, may one day share thy glory,
and with thee praise forever God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost;
Amen.

     ----------------

{221}

     Sermon XIV.

     Mortal Sin Exemplified In The History Of Judas.


  "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed."
  --Matt, xxvi., 24.

  (A Sermon for Passion Week.)


There are some men whose crimes have made them objects of
universal and eternal infamy and execration. One of these is
Judas Iscariot, whose very name is a bye-word among men. Most
persons seem to think that he was quite a different being from
ordinary men, and was naturally a kind of evil monster, without
any thing human in him. This is a mistaken opinion. There is not
so great a difference between these extraordinary sinners and
ordinary ones as is commonly supposed.
{222}
There are a great many who have an equal degree of malice, but
who have no such opportunity to show it. There are others who
would become equally bad under equal temptations, but whose evil
tendencies are kept under by favorable circumstances, and the
absence of great inducements to wickedness. It is not probable
that Judas was much worse than the common run of wilful and
malicious sinners, until, by a just judgment and a dreadful
calamity, he fell into the occasion of committing a crime, the
greatest which ever has been or can be committed by man.

In his case, the malice that is in mortal sin is only more
perfectly exhibited than in others that are less heinous. The
treason of Judas is an example, first, of the evil of mortal sin
as an offence against God; and, second, as the ruin of the soul.



     I.

The treason of Judas is an example of the evil of mortal sin,
considered as an offence against God. The gist of the offence in
mortal sin lies in the turning from God to the creature.
{223}
It is a renunciation of God's friendship, a desertion of his
service, a discarding of his authority, for the sake of some
created good which we cannot obtain without this complete
desertion from God. No one ever did this, or had the chance to do
it, so plainly and visibly as Judas. He was in personal and
immediate attendance upon our Lord, who is God in human nature.
He was the friend, the servant and the companion of the Lord in
his visible and human life. He deserted and betrayed Him for a
little money, for the favor of the Jewish rulers, for the sake of
a more free and self-indulgent life, and to get rid of a cross he
was tired of carrying. What can be a more perfect illustration of
mortal sin? You have done the same, my friend, when you have
denied your faith for the sake of a genteel marriage; when you
have gone to a fashionable Protestant church for the sake of
improving your business; when you have dropped confession for the
sake of indulging with less restraint in worldly dissipation. You
need not reproach Judas, for all you say against him rebounds
upon yourself, and by your own mouth shall you be condemned, oh,
wicked servant!

The offence of Judas was heightened by the lowness of his origin,
compared with the dignity of Jesus Christ.
{224}
He was a poor young man, without family, rank, or other claim on
the notice of our Lord. He chose him as one of his disciples, and
destined him to be one of his twelve apostles, a sharer in the
glory of St. Peter and St. Paul. For such an one to betray the
Master who had raised him from a station so humble to a rank so
exalted was a double crime. But it is just what every sinner
does. We have fallen by the sin of Adam into a low condition.
Destitute of the nobility of sanctifying grace, devoid of all
supernatural merit, without any claim on heaven, we have been
raised to the rank of children of God, as a boon of pure mercy,
through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And, if we then sin
against God, in what respect are we better than Judas?

There was not only a great indignity in his conduct toward our
Lord, but an equally great ingratitude. He owed to our Lord not
only respect and obedience on account of his character and
authority, but personal affection and gratitude on account of his
goodness and kindness to him. He betrayed a friend as well as
deserted a master.
{225}
Oh, baseness without a parallel! But beware, lest in saying this
you reproach yourself. Whenever you sin mortally you are guilty
of the same ingratitude toward Jesus Christ. He has been good to
you, too, and you owe Him love and gratitude. But you repay his
favors with outrages and offences.

To crown all, Judas delivered up his Master to an ignominious
death, and imbrued his hands in the blood not only of an innocent
man, but of a friend, a benefactor, nay, more, in the blood of
his Lord and Redeemer. This was a new and unheard of crime. Men
had heard before of fratricide, of parricide, of regicide, but
they had yet to learn of that which included all these and more,
of Deicide. Strictly speaking, this crime of Deicide can never be
repeated. The Son of God gave to wicked men the chance of putting
Him to death, once, and only once. But every one who commits
mortal sin, is guilty of a crime which partakes of the nature of
the crime of Judas. Sin was the cause of the death of Jesus
Christ. He died for every sinner and for every sin. Whoever
commits sin, then, consents to that which caused the death of our
Blessed Lord, makes common cause with his murderers, and thus
becomes accessory to his death.

{226}

     II.

The treason of Judas is also an example of the way in which a
sinner ruins himself.

It is probable that Judas was once a faithful disciple. He had a
vocation from the Lord Himself, to leave the world and follow
Him. God calls to his service only those who are well disposed
and fit for it, and we may, therefore, believe that Judas was at
least sincere and piously inclined, before the Lord called him.
He believed in our Lord's teaching, when he heard Him preach; he
followed Him with constancy for a length of time; and obeyed the
inward grace and outward call by which He invited him to become
his disciple. As a disciple he must have been faithful, and must
have shown himself worthy of a higher grace. For the Lord, who
knew his heart, and always chooses fit instruments for his
purposes, gave him a vocation to become a Priest, and not only
that, but a Bishop and an Apostle. With this vocation He gave him
all the special gifts and graces necessary to prepare him for the
apostolic ministry, to make him a worthy companion of St. Peter
and St. John, and to enable him to win like them, the gratitude
and veneration of the world, and a glorious crown in heaven.
{227}
He preached and wrought miracles like the others, and very likely
was for a time not only without grievous sin, but really fervent
and holy. Reason and experience teach us that he could not have
changed all at once from a fervent apostle to a faithless
apostate, ready to betray his Lord for money. He must have
changed gradually. He relaxed by degrees in fervor, he neglected
little things, and did not profit by the admonitions which the
Lord gave him from time to time. Thus he went on from bad to
worse, growing more indifferent and hardened every day, heaping
up venial sins continually, and disposing himself for those that
were more grievous. He became unkind and quarrelsome with his
fellow disciples, dishonest in the use of the common purse which
was intrusted to his care, harsh and repulsive toward the poor
people who came to hear the preaching of his Master, and to
recommend their wants to his mercy.
{228}
So he lost the grace of God, fell, we know not where or how, into
mortal sin, and became an alien in heart from Jesus Christ,
though still in name and appearance his disciple. By degrees he
began to despise his Master, to sicken of his service, to
disbelieve his words. He was already a slave of Satan, having
lost sanctifying grace, and, it may be, faith also. When Satan
suggested to him to abandon his Master, to betray him for money,
and then to go away and live as he pleased, he dallied with the
temptation, deliberated, and at length consented. The devil then
took complete possession of him, drove him on, and wove a chain
of circumstances around him that hurried him forward to the
execution of his treacherous intentions. What follows we all
know. Having put the seal on his own guilt and perdition by a
sacrilegious communion, he delivered over the Lord to death. His
crime being now consummated, the diabolical spell that had been
around him was broken, despair seized on his soul, he hanged
himself and went "to his own place," bequeathing the memory of
his infamous treason to the execration of all future generations.

{229}

This is the history of many a one, besides Judas. For instance,
take this from the life of St. Francis of Assisi. [Footnote 102]

    [Footnote 102: F. Challipe's Life, vol. i.. p. 91.]

"A sixth disciple, named John, and surnamed de Capella, began
well, and finished ill. He was charged with distributing among
his brethren the alms that had been contributed, and took on
himself voluntarily the office of procuring all that was wanting
for the community. But, by degrees, he became attached to
temporal things, went abroad too much, and relaxed extremely in
the observance of regular discipline. The holy Founder, after
giving him a number of severe reprimands in vain, threatened him
with a frightful malady and a miserable death, as the punishment
of his indocility. In fact, this bad religious was smitten with a
horrible leprosy, which he had not the patience to bear. He
abandoned his companions, the poor of Jesus Christ, and giving
himself up to despair, hanged himself, like Judas." This example
is no doubt an unusual one, in this respect, that the penalty of
this unhappy man's sinful life was more striking and visible than
is commonly the case.
{230}
But it is essentially like thousands of examples everywhere, and
in every-day life, in which the origin, progress and end of sin
are really the same, though more secret and hidden. So the
careless Christian begins his downward career, by a negligence
which goes from bad to worse, from small things to those of
greater and greater moment, until all fervor is lost, and his
conscience falls into a deadly slumber. Then come grievous sins;
singly at first, but afterward in quick succession. This stage of
the disease lapses at last into the state of obduracy and final
impenitence. Sacrilege is very commonly mixed up with it, more or
less, as the religions, ecclesiastical or secular condition of
the person, or his peculiar character and circumstances, may in a
greater or lesser degree expose him to the occasion of profaning
sacraments. He may be hurried along into an open, and perhaps,
from his station and antecedents, a very scandalous apostacy from
the faith, and thus become a declared traitor to his allegiance
to Jesus Christ and the Church. He may fill up the measure of his
wickedness in some other way; but it ends the same, in
self-destruction: not by suicide, but by the gradual and sure
destruction of conscience, and of moral and spiritual vitality,
ending in a spiritual and eternal death which knows no
resurrection forever.
{231}
So he goes "to his Own place," to the place he has prepared for
himself, the place he has merited, the place that suits his moral
condition, the place assigned to him as his eternal abode by the
unerring justice of God.

This is the sinner's progress in following the footsteps of
Judas. Negligence, habitual sin, contempt of divine warnings,
sacrilege, obduracy, abandonment of God, despair, eternal death.
At every stage it becomes harder to go back. Stop, then, where
you are; or better still, if it is not too late, beware of taking
the first step. If you have not yet gone very far in the downward
path, and are only beginning to be negligent, take warning by the
example of Judas, and correct that negligence at once, or else it
may lead to the most fatal consequences. "_He that despiseth
small things, shall perish by little and little_." It is
easier to preserve yourself from a great fall, by diligence and
care, than it will be to remedy the hurts you will receive by
falling, and to regain the height on which you are now standing.
{232}
You can never tell whither any sin will lead you. You can never
calculate the consequences of yielding to any temptation. Venial
sins, even, may become the principle of great and fatal
disorders, which will lead you to your final ruin. Threads, fine
at first as spider's webs, may be so woven together, and become
so strong by being multiplied, that they will entangle you in
meshes which cannot be broken through without the most violent
efforts. Sweep your soul, then, diligently, of these spider-webs
of negligence, or you may become, like Judas, an example of one
who began well, but ended miserably, and may finish that career
which you commenced in the service and friendship of Jesus, by
betraying both your Master and your own soul.

But even if you have already gone far in sin, it is never too
late to go back, until eternal death has actually made you its
prey and closed its gate behind you. The case of Judas was not
hopeless until after he had placed the halter on his own neck.
The Lord never ceased to remonstrate with him until that last
treacherous kiss, and though after this He spoke to him no more,
and Judas never saw Him again, yet He did not close the door of
mercy on him even then.
{233}
He closed it on himself by despairing. This was the greatest and
most fatal of all his sins. Had he hoped in the mercy of Jesus
Christ; had he returned to Him in sorrow and tears; had he thrown
himself at the feet of his injured Master, and implored pardon,
he would, no doubt, have been too late to save that Master's
life, but he would have been in time to save his own soul. Even
from the Cross the Saviour would have smiled upon him, and the
guilt of his treason would have been effaced in that redeeming
blood which his treason had made to flow. Oh! sinner, never
despair! Even if you have gone to the length of an open apostasy,
do not abandon hope; do not place the halter around your own
neck. All is not yet lost. Retrace your steps; return to Jesus
Christ; offer him the kiss, not of a traitor, but of a penitent;
and you will receive from his clemency the pardon of your sins.

    --------------------

{234}

        Sermon XV.

   The Interior Life.


  "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."
     St. Luke xvii. 21.

  (From the Gospel for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost.)


A few years ago, and the people of California were a quiet,
agricultural and trading people, by which they procured for
themselves the three great wants of life; viz., shelter, clothing
and food. They were content with as much as this, for they were
unconscious that underneath their very feet, as they were working
their farms and gardens, there lay that immense treasure of gold
which has since been brought to this city. By chance a lucky
spade turned over a clod of earth and stone, on which a yellowish
tinge was noticed.
{235}
It was found to be gold. The report soon found its way next door,
and then about the neighborhood, and so went rapidly through the
country. The cabbages and potatoes, the peas and beans, which
till now had been the pride of the cottage, were pulled up
without ceremony and thrown aside, in the eager search that was
everywhere being made for gold. The news came over to us, and I
dare say you remember well the excitement created by it here. The
great tide of commerce was turned toward San Francisco, and such
was the haste of our people to get there, that a crowd was daily
seen pressing around the offices of the various packet and
steamship lines, eager to secure an early passage.

We, my dear brethren, are living on the surface of life, with our
cabbages and beans, very much as those Californians were, and all
the while within our souls there is a mine of untold riches, of
which we seem to be quite unconscious. We are leading a
grovelling life, when we might be living an angelic one. Our
condition differs as much from what it might be as the state of
the caterpillar differs from that of the butterfly.
{236}
They are the same creature, yet how different! The caterpillar
crawls upon the ground; it feeds upon roots and leaves, and one
is tempted to put his foot upon it as he passes by. The butterfly
is a light airy thing on beautiful wings. It feeds upon honey
which it gathers from the flower gardens, and is the admiration
of every one. But before the caterpillar can become a butterfly
it must build for itself a little house of silk. It must enclose
itself there, and in proportion as it dies to itself, it lives
again in the butterfly. My brethren, this house is your soul.
There, with God, is your true life. Would that I could make you
realize this. Would that I could realize it myself. Well, in
order to do something toward it, I will this morning show you
under what beautiful images Holy Scripture describes the beauty
of a soul that is in union with God. I will name two great
advantages of this union; and finally, I will tell you the
conditions on which God offers it to you.

  I. The beauty of a soul in union with God.

We cannot see our souls, and God has no where given us a
description of them; but many things are said in Holy Scripture,
from which we get the idea of their great beauty when united to
him.
{237}
The soul is called God's "Palace." This is what our Lord says in
my text: "_The kingdom of God is within you_." What is the
idea that we have of a kingdom? Why, I suppose we call to mind
some of the great powers of Europe, with their extensive
dominions, great power and wealth. Among the cities of these
Kingdoms there is usually one more populous than the rest, where
the streets are laid out, and the public buildings and private
houses are erected with a view to magnificence; as for example:
London in England; Paris in France; Vienna in Austria; St.
Petersburg in Russia. The Sovereign's palace is there. This
palace is grand in its proportions outside, and it is furnished
within in as costly a manner as gold and silver, polished wood,
rich silks and tapestry and choice paintings can make it.

Well, then, the soul must be this, and more; for it is the palace
of the King of kings. Holy Angels are there in attendance upon
Him. There He entertains his faithful at his table with the Bread
of Angels. It is there that He deigns to hold those conversations
with the soul after communion that are so precious.

{238}

St. Teresa has this same idea under another figure. She begins by
saying that the beauty of the soul is incomprehensible. That the
mind cannot conceive its real worth, as words cannot express it.
Then she says that she conceives the soul to be like a
magnificent diamond castle, with rooms above and below; but in
the very centre there is a room more spacious and more sumptuous
than all the others, where our Lord dwells with the soul.

The soul is God's "Temple." "_Ye are the temples of the Holy
Ghost_," [Footnote 103] says St. Paul.

    [Footnote 103: 1 Cor. vi., 19.]

We often see engravings of those grand Cathedrals and churches
which are so common abroad. There is one in almost all the old
towns of England. Their tall spires or massive towers stand
majestically over the country, and their whole exterior is
elaborately worked in stone. On the inside they are poor and cold
enough, it is true, for a false worship has been set up there,
which has stripped them of their fine statuary and paintings,
banners and rich hangings, which formerly decorated the sanctuary
and walls, and they are no longer what they once were, "the
Temples of God."
{239}
There is no correspondence between the size and magnificence of
those churches of the olden time, and the formal service that is
held in them now; and so a few square yards are penned off in the
middle for the handful who will assemble. But there has been a
time when those walls were two narrow to enclose the thousands
who came to follow their Lord as He made the circuit of his
Temple, in the procession of Corpus Christi. Those floors have
been covered with kneeling multitudes who waited for his
benediction in the Blessed Sacrament. Then, gold and silver,
lights and flowers, massive candlesticks and rich vestments
adorned the altars with something approaching to regal splendor,
for it was the Temple of God. Those cathedrals and churches are
now standing, after the lapse of hundreds of years, as monuments
of the ancient faith that inspired their erection; but the day
will come when, as our Lord said of Jerusalem, "_one stone
shall not be left upon another_." But our souls are
everlasting Temples. How strong, then, as well as how beautiful,
God must have made them!

{240}

The soul is a "Fountain" of never-failing water. This is what our
Lord told the Samaritan woman. "_The water that I will give him
shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up unto
everlasting life_." [Footnote 104]

    [Footnote 104: John iv., 14.]

I think our blessed Saviour could not have said any thing which
would have given us a more beautiful idea of the effect of his
presence upon our souls. The deserts of the East are like the
ocean in their great, boundless wastes of hot sand. Travellers
tell us that for days there is no living object to be seen, even
to a blade of grass. Occasionally, however, they come upon what
appears like an island, where there are trees, grass and flowers.
Invariably it is found that in the middle of these "oases," as
they are called, there is an overflowing spring of the purest
water. This is the cause of all that verdure in the midst of so
barren a wilderness. How beautiful such places must be to the
weary traveller, and how grateful to the eye, as he catches sight
of them in the distance! How he must bless God as he sits under
the cool shade of the rich foliage, or as he bathes his feverish
brow and limbs in the cool waters!

{241}

Well, our souls are so many "green islands" in the desert of this
world, and our Lord is the fountain in their centre. His presence
adorns the soul with all that fragrance and fulness which we find
in the innocent and pure. St. Teresa had a great fondness for
this passage of Scripture from her very childhood. Though at that
time she did not know the value of this promise of our Lord as
she did in after life, she says: "I very often asked the Divine
Master to give to me this precious water."

The soul is God's "Image." "_Let us make man to our image and
likeness_." [Footnote 105] So God said when he created the
first human soul.

    [Footnote 105: Gen. i., 26.]

Our souls, then, are like God. God is the perfection of all
beauty. As we say, God is truth, so we say, God is beauty. There
are two ways in which we are like God, for He says: "Let us make
man to our image _and_ likeness." In one way, the devils and
souls in mortal sin are like God. They have the gifts of
intelligence and free will. This is the image of God which, when
a creature once has, it can never lose. The likeness which a soul
in the state of grace bears to God, is in the gift of habitual,
or sanctifying grace.
{242}
This can be lost, and the devils and souls in mortal sin have
lost it. God has made us pupils of his, as it were. Our Master
has drawn the outline of Himself upon our souls, and our work is
to fill up this sketch with light and shade. A Christian is
therefore an artist of the highest class; for there can be no
subject so inspiring as his. What a beautiful talent it is to be
able to transfer to canvas some scene from nature, of which it
becomes the exact copy. There are certain combinations of water
and mountain, meadow and foliage, nature and art, blended and
softened by a peculiar state of the atmosphere, which act like a
spell upon one. All we can say, is, how very beautiful!

But, beautiful as it is, it will vanish before the winter's
frost. The canvas, too, in time will moulder away. But the image
of God on our souls is more beautiful than any scene in nature,
and it will preserve its beauty forever.

These are some illustrations from Holy Scripture which enable us
to form an idea of what is the beauty of a soul when in union
with God.

{243}

Did you ever know, my brethren, that God had been so good to you?
Have you not over looked and undervalued your treasure? This life
of yours hitherto, on the surface of things, has been both a
great mistake and a great misfortune.



  II. To make you realize this, let me tell you two great
  advantages of an interior life.

The first is, the great "peace" that it brings to us. Peace, did
I say? Is it, then, possible to wear a constant smile in this
valley of tears? Can these fretful souls of ours find rest even
upon earth? We pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, "that they
may rest in peace," as if we felt that there was no rest short of
Heaven. Can we find it, then, even short of Purgatory? Yes, for
it is a share, by anticipation, of the ineffable peace which
those holy souls enjoy in the possession of God. Like them, we
can be glad while we suffer. Joy and suffering are not
irreconcilable! How was it with our blessed Lord? You know He is
called the "Man of sorrows," in that his Passion is thought to
have been before Him during the whole of his thirty-three years
on earth. But all the while, his human soul was in the perpetual
enjoyment of the Beatific Vision, and therefore in perfect peace.
{244}
Well, of this peace, in the midst of trouble, our Lord, as the
great Head, allows us, his members, to participate. Hear what He
said to his Apostles: "_Peace I leave with you, my peace I give
unto you_." [Footnote 106]

    [Footnote 106: John xiv., 27.]

What robs a man of his peace of soul, is either an inordinate
desire for something which he has not, or the fear of losing some
thing that he has. Now, the man who lives an interior life, is in
the possession of God, who is the fulness and perfection of every
good. He does not fear the loss of pleasure, for his highest
pleasure is to do the will of God. He says, it is not God's will
that I should have pleasure now. Nor of riches, for he fears them
as a snare. He does not fear poverty--he will have less to give
account of at the Last Day; nor of station, for he feels that
there is no nobility like being a son of God. He is living with
God and his Holy Angels, as their companion; as though God and
they and he were the only beings in the world. Nor of comforts,
for he has learned to bear his cross, and he is learning to love
it. Nor of reputation, for he seeks the favor of God alone.
{245}
Man's judgment of him will neither aid nor injure him before his
only true Judge. The daily round of bodily weakness, sickness,
disappointment, or mortification, is turned into so many
occasions of gaining merit with God. It is true of him what the
Scripture says, that "_all things work together for good, to
those who love God_." [Footnote 107] He is like Midas, the
fabled King of Thrace, who was said to have the power to turn
every thing that he touched into gold.

    [Footnote 107: Rom. viii., 28.]

St. Basil was such a man. On one occasion he was called before a
magistrate, who said in great anger, "Basil, I will tear out your
liver." "Well," was the meek reply, "you will do me a great favor
then, for it is a great trouble to me where it is." Such a man is
invulnerable.

To come nearer to our own day, I can show you such a man, in our
Holy Father Pope Pius IX. What is the invariable testimony, both
of Protestants and of Catholics, as to the manner of his
receiving them? Every one speaks of his composure, of his
cheerful conversation, and of the sweetness of his smile. Now,
where is the man in Europe, who has so much care and anxiety upon
him as he has?
{246}
For whom would we be so ready to make excuse, in case we were
told that he was found to be reserved, or even at times out of
humor, on occasion of those "receptions," which are so numerous
and indiscriminate, and which we would think must be so very
tiresome to him? At this moment, while Sovereigns and statesmen
are threatening him with the seizure of the ancient inheritance
of the Church, which is intrusted to his care, and himself with
banishment, not only is he calm, but he prophesies that, from
these present trials, great glory shall result to the Church.
Pius the Ninth is a man who lives in close union with God. Down
in the bottom of his soul there reigns a supernatural calm.

With an interior life comes also a strength to do and to suffer,
which is naturally quite beyond us.

As our Lord chose his Apostles among a class of men whose natural
advantages were very few, in order that his guidance and power
might be shown in them, so He has adorned the early Church with a
number of young female Martyrs, whose amazing fortitude under the
severest torture, clearly proves that He was also the source of
their strength.
{247}
Let me give you an example. St. Potamiena was a Nubian slave of a
Roman master. He required her consent to something which was
contrary to the law of God. On her refusal, he threatened her
with such torture as was exercised upon those who, like herself,
had embraced the Christian faith. The magistrate before whom she
was brought on the charge of being a Christian, commanded her to
obey her master in all things, or she should be cast into the
cauldron of boiling oil, which was seething before her. She
replied: "I have but one request to make: allow my clothes to
remain upon me; then, if you will, let me down by inches into
this cauldron, and you will see what strength Jesus Christ, my
Lord, will give me to bear its pain." This was the cruel death by
which, without a murmur, she won her crown of "Virgin Martyr."

Let me give you another example of fortitude, which you can
perhaps better appreciate. Some few years since, in England,
there was a young lady of noble family, and of very attractive
manners, who became a Religious in a convent near the town where
I then resided.
{248}
To please her father, she had, for several years past, attended
the numerous parties that were given among her circle of
acquaintance. Her presence was always thought to be a great
acquisition. But all the while, her heart was in religion. She
longed for the time when her father would yield, and allow her to
try her vocation within a convent's walls. At last, he did; but
what was his grief when he found that she had chosen one of the
most austere orders in the church. She wished to become a Poor
Clare. Now, you may not know that a Poor Clare never leaves the
walls of her convent; she never sees any one; she walks
bare-footed; she uses the painful discipline, and spends many
hours of the dead of the night in prayer, while the outer world
is asleep. Here, then, was a young girl who had been brought up
in luxury, entering at once upon a life of the greatest severity.
When I last heard of her, which was a long time after she had
entered this convent, she was said to be as merry as a cricket,
and the life of her convent, as she had formerly been of her
parties of pleasure.
{249}
Now, how shall we account for such fortitude as this? I will tell
you. It was our Lord in her heart, where she had made Him a home,
that gave her the courage and strength she needed to comply with
his call to her, to be a spouse of his. That became easy to her,
which her relatives and friends could not comprehend. There is no
one who can do any thing great for God, without this interior
life. I will say even more than this; neither she nor any other
member of a religious community, can hope to persevere in any
well-regulated convent, on any other ground than this. With this,
any one, whether in religion or in the world, can trample
underfoot the difficulties and trials peculiar to their state of
life.

God offers us this interior life, on two conditions. In the first
place, we must be in the state of grace. One must first be
introduced to a man, before he can become his personal friend. A
man in mortal sin is as though he did not know God. He needs to
make his acquaintance. He is in a condition that is even worse
than that of a stranger; he is God's enemy, and he must be first
reconciled.

{250}

To drive a locomotive at the rate of forty miles an hour, one
must first get it upon the track, before it will move at all.

You, then, my dear brethren, who are so unfortunate as to be in
mortal sin--you can take no comfort from any thing that I have
said. I have been offering peace to such as lead a Christian
life; but what does Holy Scripture say of you? "_There is no
peace, saith my God, for the wicked_."

Again, we must be generous with God. Ah! now that I have told you
the terms, I tremble for the cause I am advocating. It seems to
me that I hear you answering, as some other disciples of our
blessed Lord answered him: "_This saying is hard, and who can
hear it_." [Footnote 108]

    [Footnote 108: John vi., 61.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is John vi., 60.]

What is it to be generous? It is to give from a motive of love,
and because it is a pleasure to give. It is to consider the
object to which we are giving, rather than the amount of what we
are giving. What millions of dollars are being expended on the
Central Park here just beside us? We consider the money
contributed, as little in comparison with the importance of the
work. It is an object of pride with us to see tins Park as
ornamental as money and art can make it.

{251}

See what generous efforts are being made, by both sides, in this
unhappy conflict, which has made a battle-field of our country!
Not money only, but blood and life, are as freely offered as
water.

Our citizens who hurried off to California at the time of the
gold excitement of which I have spoken, thought nothing of the
discomfort of a close state-room on board a crowded ship, for a
five months voyage. They had already sacrificed home, friends and
business, and all this was on the mere chance of success.

Now, how is it with us? The burden of the sermons preached from
this altar, the year round, has been merely to get _justice_
done to God. We have been doing our best to get from you what is
barely God's _due_. Our endeavor has been to get you to
restore to God those rights of his, of which you have defrauded
Him; and at best, we have had but partial success. But to-day, I
ask you not for justice, but for generosity. Did I not say well
then, when I expressed my fear that God would find but few who
would accept his terms?
{252}
On his part, He offers to come and dwell in your souls. He offers
you interior peace, supernatural strength, holiness, and
salvation. Now what does He ask of you in return for all this?
That you will act the part of a generous friend toward Him, by
giving Him a large share of your thoughts, words, and actions. He
is the magnet in the centre of your hearts. He is always drawing
you toward Himself. He asks that you will put no obstacle in the
way of his influence upon you. If disturbing causes for the
moment turn you from Him, like the needle which may be shaken so
as to point to the East or the South, like it He calls upon you
not to rest till you have found your rest again in Him. St.
Teresa says, that a generous soul _flies_ to God. She does
not say that it runs, but that it flies to God. Now, what are we
doing? We are content to creep and crawl toward God, like worms
and caterpillars.

My dear brethren, I have told you a great truth, I have
discovered to you a great treasure. It is within the reach of
each one of you. Now I call upon this congregation for some
companions to go with me in search of this treasure.
{253}
I do not expect to arouse the mass of you, as the cry of "gold"
from California aroused the people of this city. I know the sad
truth, that most people love gold better than they love God. But
I _do_ count upon some. You would not expect that I should
urge this "Interior Life" upon you, and remain myself as I am?
Well then. I am going to try for it, and I call again upon you
for some souls, few though they may be, who with me, will try to
be generous with God. I call upon you by your Saviour's love in
dying a painful and shameful death, to purchase it for you. I
call upon you by his still further love in securing to you his
abiding presence, in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar.
Lastly, I call upon you by that act of his love which would be
satisfied with nothing short of making your heart a tabernacle,
as it were, where He may dwell perpetually, where He may live
your life, and where you may live his life, as true children of
St. Paul, who said: "_I live now no longer, but Christ liveth
in me_." I have put my question. I have made my call upon you.
I leave the answer with yourselves.

     -------------

{254}

           Sermon XVI.

     True Christian Humility.


  "Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled,
  and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
    --St. Luke, xviii. 14.

  (From the Gospel for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost.)


It is impossible to mistake the great moral of this parable of
the Publican and the Pharisee. It is intended to teach us
humility. The Pharisee, with all his pretensions to piety and
morality, was rejected because he was proud. The Publican, like
the generality of revenue officers in that day, was loaded with
sins; but he was sorry for them, and being humble, and ready to
acknowledge himself for what he was, his prayer was accepted. All
piety, therefore, without humility, is false. No matter what they
may say about a man's good deeds or virtues; if he is proud, he
is no saint.
{255}
There is no surer test of solid Christian virtue than humility.
St. Philip Neri once called to see a sick Roman lady, who enjoyed
a high reputation for sanctity. He found her sitting up, looking
very weak, and very pious. Being desirous of putting all this
perfection to the test, he lifted his dusty shoe upon the
beautiful counterpane which covered the bed, and which, as it
appeared to him, the good dame regarded with more than ordinary
satisfaction. It turned out as he expected. He might as well have
put his toe into a hornet's nest, for the pious lady was so
mortified at the soiling of her counterpane that she let loose
her tongue upon him in such strong Italian terms as came first to
mind. "I wish you good morning, holy sister," said St. Philip. We
may easily imagine what he thought of her sanctity.

Indeed, to prove the necessity of this virtue, we need go no
farther than to the example contained in this day's gospel, and
to the words of our blessed Lord in the text; for He tells us in
plain terms: "_Every one, that exalteth himself shall be
humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted_."
{256}
Since, then, humility is so necessary, let us study it this
morning; let us try to discover what true humility is, and to
fill our hearts with the esteem of it, and the love of it.

Christian humility I understand to be this: _A lowly estimate
of one s own worth in the light of Divine Truth_. This is, I
am well aware, a definition of humility in the mind, rather than
that of the heart; but it is not necessary to dwell upon any such
distinction here, for humility of the heart is nothing else than
the heart's consent to this lowly estimate of one's self, and
practically speaking the two are seldom found apart.

1. Humility, I say, is a lowly estimate of one's own worth. Men
are proud because they esteem themselves too highly; and this
they do because they look at themselves in a false light. They
look at themselves with worldly eyes, and compare themselves with
what they see around them. They plume themselves up on advantages
which, in the eyes of faith, are of little value. They look too
low. The king sees nothing greater than himself, and looks down
upon the nobles; the nobles look down upon the untitled gentry.
{257}
We have neither king nor nobles in our country, but we have a
class of gentry who live upon fortunes made by their fathers, and
were reared in good society. These look down upon those who have
made their own fortunes by some honest trade. The tradesman looks
down upon the farmer, the farmer upon the hired laborer, and the
laborer who has a shanty, with a cow and pigs, finds some one
still poorer to look down upon; and this last, perhaps, is
proudest of all, for he is descended from some patriot of the
Revolution, or, it may be, from Brian Boroihme. If, on the
contrary, they would look at the sacred law of God, if they would
study the pure and holy lessons of the Gospel, if they would
raise their eyes upward to the high and heavenly destiny for
which they were created--if by this new light they would compare
themselves as they are with what they might be, and ought to be,
the trifling advantages of this world would disappear, their
pride would wither away, and give place to humility, the
earliest, if not the sweetest flower of the Christian year.

{258}

But how is it with those who are _spiritually_ proud? Do not
they estimate themselves by the light of faith? No. Their pride
would soon die out if they did. Faith, directing their eyes
upward, would discover to them in God, in Jesus, and in the
Saints, what true holiness is, and their poor store of sanctity
would show like thumb-marks in a prayer-book, or spots upon the
sun. In the darkness of a cloudy night, when only the nearest
objects that lie about your feet are visible, your thoughts are
bound up in that little circle as if all the universe were near
you and beneath you, and you walking on its summit; but when the
clouds are driven away, and the moon and the vast world of stars
appear, the heaven seems like a measureless dome, and you, a
little insect creeping upon the floor, look up in breathless
wonder. So the pathway of a conceited devotee is lighted only by
a few straggling rays of religious truth, and he sees himself
shining as a luminous point in that narrow circle which is
visible to his eyes; but let faith open the sky above him, and
give him one long, calm, thoughtful look at the world above, and
he stands rebuked and humbled. Oh! how little our virtue appears
when, instead of comparing ourselves with the worldly crowd
around us, we look up to see how the saints have lived, and what
they have done!

{259}

During the Moorish wars in Spain, while the Spaniards were
besieging a city of the Moors, a brave Castilian knight advanced
before his comrades, at great peril of his life, and for a
memorial of his valor, wrote upon one of the city gates:
"Hitherto came Vasco Fernandez." His companions were scandalized
at his pride, and anxious to teach him a lesson. The next day,
therefore, another hero of superior prowess forced his way still
farther, and wrote in large letters upon another gate: "Hitherto
Vasco Fernandez did not come." This, my dear brethren, is a
lesson for the Christian soldier also, and well worth learning.
Instead of comparing ourselves with the feeble and imperfect, and
feeding our pride thereby, let us humble ourselves before the
achievements of the Saints.

2. If humility is a lowly estimate of one's self, it is none the
less truthful on that account. We must look upon ourselves as we
really are, "in the light of Divine Truth," for this is included
in my definition. One may think meanly of himself upon false
grounds.
{260}
One may be ashamed of himself for things which in reality are
praiseworthy. There is no virtue in this. Genuine humility needs
to borrow no aid from falsehood. She is a grace bestowed by the
God of truth. Now, there is something very unhealthy and
degrading in this spurious sort of humility, which is founded
upon self-calumny and pious exaggeration, for it leads to
self-degradation. And this is the reason why I abhor the
Protestant doctrine of "total depravity." It teaches men to say
that they are, from their birth and by nature, so thoroughly
corrupt, that there is absolutely nothing good in them. That
there is, in reality, no such thing as natural virtue. That
filial piety, honesty, fidelity, love of truth, chastity and
temperance, have no merit in the unregenerate man, but, on the
contrary, are sinful and displeasing to God. And their doctrine
of justification leaves the Saint as bad as the sinner; for
although his life is acceptable with God, it is not because he is
in reality any better, or that his actions are more meritorious.
On the contrary, his righteousness is all "filthy rags," and
there is positively nothing good in him. He is justified and
saved by faith alone.
{261}
If you say to them, "Ah, well, I understand you; this faith of
which you speak is at least something meritorious, because it is
enlivened and made holy by charity, or the love of God. It is
this which makes faith so efficacious." No; they will not admit
your explanation; there is popery in it; it is only an entering
wedge to make way for the doctrine of good works. They refuse to
accept any principle by which the good man may be supposed to be
really any better than his neighbors. He is regenerated by the
mantle of Christ's righteousness, which does not take away, but
only covers up his "filthy rags." And his lesson of humility is,
to insist upon it that there is nothing good in him. Now, I never
saw any one, either man or woman, so bad that I thought there was
no good in him; and I am always sorry to hear my Protestant
friends speak so ill of themselves, for I don't believe them--I
have seen too much real merit among them.

In truth, all this is false humility. It is but a form of words,
and nobody in his heart believes it, or can believe it. Virtue is
not vice. There is such a thing as real virtue and real merit in
man.
{262}
God has given to all a conscience, which is nothing else than His
own voice applauding or rebuking. There is such a thing as
natural virtue, which deserves a reward in the natural order of
God's providence; and there is such a thing as Christian virtue,
which is begotten by supernatural grace, and deserves the
supernatural reward of the Saints.

No wonder that, in the world, humility is too often looked upon
as a counterfeit and degrading virtue, which takes away all
manliness, hope, courage, and generous ambition, from the soul.
Oh, if it were so, I would suffer my tongue to be torn out of my
mouth, before I would preach it at this altar. If ever there was
a time when we needed manly virtue in the Church, it is now. If
ever there was a time when Christianity seemed to have melted
into effeminacy and pusillanimity, it is now. The race of
Martyrs, of Confessors of the faith, of Christian athletes, of
true Sages and sacred Scholars, of men of action who knew how to
open their eyes, and men of prayer who knew how to shut them, of
Catholic Matrons and Virgins whose hunger after holiness was not
satisfied by crosses and medals, scapulars and holy water--this
ancient race of Christians has well nigh dwindled away.
{263}
We of the present day seem to be playing with religion. We are
not in earnest. We are ashamed of what ought to be our glory; we
are proud of that which constitutes our shame. We have no blushes
for our sins; while we are too bashful to be devout, and too
timid to practise virtue. We acknowledge that we are wicked;
although we do not hold it to be precisely our own fault, but a
fault of our nature, and we have no ambition to be better. We
confess our sins by throwing all the blame upon the God who made
us, and this we call humility. Oh! this is false humility. God
made us well enough; our sins are all our own. If we look at
ourselves as we really are, in the light of divine truth, we
shall find matter enough to make us humble.

3. True Christian humility, so far from degrading, ennobles the
heart in which it dwells. It leads directly to hope; and
hopefulness is, in all great hearts, the essential element of
their courage, energy, enterprise, and success. Now Pride, with
her two brazen-faced daughters Self-conceit and Self-confidence,
stands directly in the way of Christian hope and courage.

{264}

In spiritual matters, so long as one depends upon himself, he is
sure of failure; for without the grace of God one cannot advance
a single step. "_Without Me_," said our Lord to His
disciples, "_you can do nothing_." [Footnote 109]

    [Footnote 109: St. John xv., 5.]

With repeated failure comes despair, or at least, despondency;
and then all hope, courage, and generous enterprise take flight.
But how different is the experience of the humble heart! It
begins with self-distrust; it acknowledges its own feebleness.
"_For I know_," says the Apostle Paul, "_that there is no
good dwelling in me; that is to say, in my flesh. As for the will
to do good, that I find present, but the power to do it I do not
find_." [Footnote 110]

    [Footnote 110: Rom. vii. 18.]

Not daring, therefore, to trust in himself, the humble Christian
learns to lean upon God, and to confide fully in his grace; and
then he becomes strong and full of courage, and can say with St.
Paul, "_I can do all things through him who strengthens
me_." [Footnote 111]

    [Footnote 111: Phil, iv., 13.]

{265}

Thus, in the Christian warfare, humility is the first and last
lesson of all noble, generous, and heroic souls; for their great
hearts are sustained by great hopes, and their hope is nourished
by humility.

Humility, and that hopefulness and courage which grow out of
humility, are also the most efficacious means of converting the
shamefaced, downcast sinner. Take, for example, the habitual
drunkard. The pledge will not help him long; and why? Because he
is degraded in his own eyes, and has no confidence in his own
resolutions. What he wants most is courage, and the pledge cannot
give him that. The pledge teaches him to rely on himself, and on
himself he cannot rely. "I'm willing," says he, "but I'm weak. If
you are going to give me the pledge, put it on me strong, so that
I won't break it." See how the poor fellow is anxious to find
some support to lean upon, outside of his own weak will, and is
almost ready to believe that the priest can give him that
stability which he so much needs. Now, what is to be done? The
only way is to put confidence and courage into his heart; and
this is done by pointing him upward to God, the only source of
grace and strength, and "_who is able to do all things more
abundantly than we can ask_." [Footnote 112]

    [Footnote 112: Ephes. iii., 20.]

{266}

Do not take the heart out of him by words of contempt and
scalding abuse, but speak to him kindly and encouragingly. "I
know, my dear friend, that you are weak; but God is strong, and
his grace is able to make you strong. He has had worse cases than
you in hand before now, and made glorious Saints of them too.
Never despair; you were created for better things. Make one more
trial now, and with the help of God you'll shake off this
miserable habit forever." That's the way to reform a confirmed
drunkard who has grace enough, at least, to be ashamed of
himself. Do not strike a man that is already down. Do not make
him more self-degraded than he is, but out of his humiliation
endeavor to fill him with hope in God. Talk to him cheerfully.
Give him a clean shirt and a clean collar. Get him to wash
himself and shave himself, and brush his hair. He will now begin
to feel like a man; and the next step is to feel like a
Christian. Take him then to the Church, and to confession; and
when upon his knees, with, a contrite heart, he has confessed and
renounced his sins, let him there pledge himself against that
drink which has poisoned him, body and soul; and the grace of God
will carry him through.
{267}
In this way, courage and strength are born of humility. It is a
virtue that does not degrade, but ennobles the heart where it
lodges.

I have said enough, I think--all, at least, my dear brethren,
that can well be said within the compass of a morning's sermon,
to illustrate the true nature of Christian humility. I need not
enlarge upon the advantages or the necessity of it. Humility is
one of those sweet virtues which carries its own recommendation
with it, which needs only to be seen in order to be prized.
Enough has already been said to justify that maxim of the ascetic
writers, that humility is the foundation of all the virtues. Any
mason will tell you, that before you can build a substantial
Church you must dig away the loose dirt below, and hollow out a
foundation for the walls. This is the first step of all, and
until this is done, neither walls, nor tower, nor roof, nor any
part of the building can be safely undertaken. It is the same in
that spiritual temple which has to be erected in every soul that
is saved.
{268}
Before we build up we must first go down. Humility must first
begin the work; must dig up and throw aside the sand and rubbish
of pride, and self-conceit, and vain confidence, which have
gathered like a loose soil upon our hearts. Then, and not till
then, are we ready, with faith, and hope, and charity, and the
other virtues, to rear the strong walls, and towers, and arches,
with all the parts and ornaments which make the Temple of God
complete within our souls. In fine, religion is of little use to
one who will not learn to be humble; and therefore an English
poet, varying the figure which I have employed, says very well:

  "Ye who would build the churches of the Lord,
  See that ye make the western portals low!
  Let no one enter who disdains to bow!"

If any thing were needed to confirm this view of the necessity of
humility, we have the words of our Lord himself: "_Unless you
be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter
into the kingdom of Heaven_." [Footnote 113]

    [Footnote 113: St. Matt, xviii., 3.]

{269}

Are we then, my brethren, anxiously desirous of saving our souls?
Would we be something in the kingdom of God? Would we become
strong in faith, great in hope, abounding in charity? Then let us
cast pride away! Let us learn to be humble! Let us become willing
imitators of Jesus Christ, who has said: "_Learn of me, for I
am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your
souls_." [Footnote 114]

    [Footnote 114: St. Matt, xi., 29.]

And let us believe his word, that there is no other way of
salvation; for He it is who tells us in this day's Gospel, that
"_every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that
humbleth himself shall be exalted_."

     ------------------

{270}

           Sermon XVII

  What The Desire To Love God Can Do.


  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart,
  and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength,
  and with all thy mind."
    --St. Luke x., 27.

  (From the Gospel for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost)


There are two ways in which one may set about fulfilling this
commandment of the Lord.

The first way is, to do what is barely necessary in order that we
may be said to fulfil it at all. The second way is, to fulfil it
in its perfection, according to the most generous meaning of the
words. When may one be said to fulfil it in the first way? When
he has a firm determination to keep clear, at all times, of every
mortal sin. It is plain, that in this case he can be said to
fulfil the commandment, because, after all, he prefers God to
every thing else.
{271}
When he determines to avoid every mortal sin, no matter what the
temptation to commit it may be, he does give his whole mind and
heart to God in some sense--at least, really and substantially,
though it may be imperfectly. If he does not go that far, he does
not in any sense fulfil this commandment. He loves the sinful
thing more than he loves God. He is ready to give up God, rather
than his will and pleasure. His whole heart and soul loves
sin--is turned away from God. He cannot entertain any hope of
eternal life: that is clear from the words of the Saviour in
to-day's Gospel. The Lawyer asked Him, "_What shall I do to
possess eternal life?_" The Saviour said, "_What is written
in the law? how readest thou?_" He answered: "_Thou shalt
love the Lord God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul,
and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind_." And the
Saviour replied: "_Thou hast answered right, this do and thou
shalt live_." You see what the condition is. We must fulfil
this commandment, or there is no eternal life for us.
{272}
Let us not deceive ourselves. If we cannot honestly and sincerely
say: 'I am determined to keep clear of every mortal sin,' our
religion is vain. Don't build on the idea that we shall be saved
because of the Catholic faith we profess. "_Think not_,"
says Jesus, "_to say, We have Abraham for our Father. Do
penance; the axe is laid to the root of the tree; every tree that
bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into
the fire_." [Footnote 115]

    [Footnote 115: St. Luke iii., 8, 9.]

But is it enough just barely to fulfil the commandment in this
way? No, it is not. One who does not go farther, runs a very
great risk of being lost. The fact is, to maintain one's self in
an habitual horror of mortal sin requires a great deal of fervor
and recollection. In order to do so, one must also aim at
avoiding every deliberate sin, small or great; one must really be
in earnest to please God, or, in other words, one must strive to
fulfil the commandment of the text with a good degree of
perfection. That is plain enough to the dullest comprehension. A
man may get over an ordinary difficulty well enough, but when a
great one comes in his way, he requires all his strength and
resolution to overcome it.
{273}
So the ordinary temptations may be avoided, but there come times
which try the soul, great temptations, or unusual difficulties,
and great fervor is necessary to overcome them. They come just
when least expected, when one is off his guard. Unless one
maintains himself, then, in this state of fervor, so as to be
prepared for these occasions, he must fall. A ship that is strong
enough for fair weather, goes down in a strong gale of wind. A
drowsy sentinel may serve as well as another for awhile, but when
suddenly beset by an enemy, is slain before he can get ready to
defend himself; so the Christian, who goes on the principle of
keeping clear of mortal sin, but makes light of lesser sins, will
be sure to come to a grievous fall at last. "_He that despiseth
small things_," the Scripture says, "_shall fall by little
and little_." [Footnote 116]

    [Footnote 116: Ecclus. xix., 1.]

    [Transcriber's note: Ecclesiastes ends with chapter 12.
    Sirach xix. 1. reads
    "Whoever does this grows no richer; those who
    waste the little they have will be stripped bare."]

The man who goes on the principle of gratifying his passions as
much as he can short of mortal sin, will never stop there. He
will overleap his boundary, as surely as the sun goes down at the
close of day, as surely as the water that eats out the sand from
the foundations of a house will finally bring it to ruin.
{274}
Such a person is not only in danger of ruin in the world to come,
but loses the peace and consolation which the servants of God
ought to have in this world. There is too much selfishness about
him. He is trying to join together two things as contrary as God
and the world--an impossibility, as God Himself says: "_No man
can serve two masters, for either he will love the one and hate
the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye
cannot serve God and mammon_." [Footnote 117]

    [Footnote 117: Matt. vi., 24.]

Now, the Lord intended to remove these evils, to show us a sure
and safe way to everlasting life, and to fill our souls
habitually with a heavenly peace and consolation, by enjoining on
us to fulfil this commandment with perfection, and, as the words
sound--"_with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with
all our mind, and with all our strength_." I think this is
enough to prove conclusively the necessity of such fulfilment;
now let us see how it is to be done.

{275}

But, at the very outset, a great repugnance and distaste will
arise, I doubt not, in the minds of many, at hearing these strong
words of the text. It will seem to be asking too much--more than
they can dream of fulfilling. In their idea, it would seem an
impossibility, even if they had the best will in the world.
"What," says the father of a family, "give my whole soul and mind
to God? To take care of my children, to put bread in their mouths
and clothes on their backs, takes up, and must take up the
principal part of my time and attention. I must attend to my
business, and use all my skill and prudence and activity to make
all things meet. I can not do as the old hermits of the desert
did, pass my time in constant prayer and meditation." "What,"
says the mother, "give all my strength and all my mind to God!
How can I do it? I must expend all my strength going up and down
stairs, in the kitchen, in the dining-room, in my own room sewing
and mending, to keep every thing decent for the children. I must
teach them, and look out for them. One thing or another takes up
my time and attention the whole day, so that, when night comes
round, I am glad enough to get to bed and to sleep as quick as I can."
{276}
"What," says the young woman, just growing out of her girlhood,
"give my whole heart to God, when this dear old world is so
pleasant, and I have such fine times in it?" Alas! not the young
woman only, but the young man, and the old man and the old woman,
too, are apt enough to speak in this way. Dissipation and
pleasure keep such a hold upon them, that they seem to be more
giddy and foolish as they grow older. And another cry comes up
from all quarters: "How can I give my whole heart and soul to
God, when the troubles and sorrows of the world, its cares and
anxieties and disappointments fill me with bitterness and rage,
and excite every evil passion? In this miserable world there is
no such thing as tranquillity or peace, and how, without these,
can the whole heart be given to God?"

Now, dear brethren, whoever you may be who speak or who think in
this way, put down that feeling a little while; listen with
patience while I propose to you a means of fulfilling Christ's
commandment which will smooth away these difficulties, and enable
you to do so in a manner most pleasant and agreeable to you.
{277}
I do not pretend that this means takes away from you all
necessity of exertion--all effort and care to do right. No, the
words of Christ must hold true: "_Strive to enter into the
straight gate_," He says. "_Fight the good fight_," says
St. Paul. The prize of our high calling is too valuable to be had
without being in earnest about it. But I can venture to say, that
by the method I propose, it is by no means so difficult a thing
to fulfil Christ's commandment as you may suppose; that, with a
little patience and perseverance, it will become an easy and
agreeable thing to do so. What is this method? It is--_to
excite and keep in your souls an ardent desire to love God_.

This desire will do every thing, if it is strong and lively. Now,
the desire to love God is a thing natural to the soul. How so?
Why, thus. We naturally desire what is good--what will conduce to
our interest, our pleasure or profit. We express this by the very
word "desirable." As soon as we become acquainted with the value
of any thing to us, we desire it, and our desire for it is in
proportion to our appreciation of it. So a good name is more
desired among noble-minded men than the possession of riches--a
substantial wealth, more than the pleasure of the senses.
{278}
Now, what is more desirable than God? To possess Him, is to
possess all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is
honorable, all that makes happiness. As soon as we know, even
imperfectly, what God is, a strong desire to possess Him must
arise in the soul. It may be transitory, quickly fade away and
lost sight of, through the things of the world which occupy the
attention, but, whenever we reflect on it, that desire must--it
is impossible that it should not--rise up in the soul. This
transitory desire, which passes away like a vapor, is of little
or no value; it does not last long enough to produce any
practical impression. It is what is called a _velleity_, or
ineffectual wish, if it is not nourished and made permanent, so
as to influence one's life.

But since this desire to love God is natural to one who knows
what He is, it must be, therefore, an excellent and easy means to
acquire a high degree of that love. It is like the oar in the
hands of the rower. It is like the wing by which a bird mounts
high in the air. Why, as soon as this desire acquires force
enough to control the will (and any strong desire is sure to do
so), we cannot separate the desire to love God from the love of
God itself.
{279}
God does not measure our love to Him by our feelings, for we may
seem to ourselves to have little, while our will shows that we
love Him dearly. The trouble then with us, and I may say our only
trouble is, that we do not enough desire to love Him; that we do
not keep that desire bright and lively in our souls. Surely we
have abundant reason for it! Besides the loveliness of God
attracting us, our eternal destiny depends upon it--heaven and
hell. Only let us turn over in our minds the vast importance of
loving God, and we must be compelled to cry out with intense
desire: "Oh, that I did love God with all my heart, with all my
soul, with all my mind and strength!" I say, then, excite this
desire; think, and think every day, on these simple things: Who
am I? Who is God? What has God made me for? What is the world and
all in it, compared to the love of God? Or, as the Gospel reads,
"_What shall it profit me to gain the whole world, if I suffer
the loss of my soul?_" Perhaps this fire of desire is almost
out in your soul; but there is still fire there--there is one
coal at least burning yet.
{280}
Blow it into a flame! Keep on blowing, and that fire will be sure
to spread, until the whole heap is in a blaze. You see, all that
is required of you is to think, to reflect. Put your mind upon it
with earnestness; and the desire of God must speedily gain the
mastery of your soul. When it does so, it will regulate all its
motions, and make every thing that was before so unnatural and
difficult seem wonderfully easy.

Let us see how it would fare then with sin. Only keep that ardent
desire to love God burning in your soul, and you will find it a
very hard thing to commit any deliberate sin. It is a maxim in
physical science that two bodies cannot occupy the same space at
the same time. One must displace the other. So, I say, two strong
desires, that are opposed to each other, cannot stay together in
one heart. Either one or the other must give way and yield
possession. So our Lord said long ago under cover of this
comparison: "_When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those
things which he possesseth are in peace. But if one stronger than
he cometh upon him and overcome him, he will take away all his
armor wherein he trusted, and distribute his spoils_."
[Footnote 118]

    [Footnote 118: St. Luke xi., 21, 22.]

{281}

The strong desire for God's love will take away from the desire
for sin all its armor, all its strength, and leave it powerless
to hurt us. It had a peaceable possession of the soul before,
because nothing seriously disputed its right to govern, but now
the desire to love God has made it hateful and loathsome. The
strong man has become weak as an infant. When we fix our eyes on
sin, perhaps its allurements, and the force of old habits, may
make it so attractive, that it would gain the mastery once more.
Certainly it would make a desperate struggle for the mastery. But
let us look up to God! Let us consider how necessary, how
desirable in every view is his love, until we become resolved
that at least we will long for it, and continue longing for it,
as long as life is long; saying with the royal Psalmist: "_As
the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so panteth my soul
after thee, God_." [Footnote 119]

    [Footnote 119: Ps. xli. 1.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Ps. xlii. 2.]

Then will all those allurements and attractions of sin vanish. We
shall only wonder how such miserable things could have blinded us
so long.

{282}

We all know how strong and engrossing the passion of earthly love
is. The lover is taken with some real or fancied perfection of
his mistress, either a beautiful face, a noble figure, or, it may
be, with what is far more to be prized, some noble qualities of
the mind or disposition. His whole mind is taken up with her
night and day, and his only study is, how he may recommend his
suit. If encouraged with the prospect of success, transports of
joy fill his soul; if met by neglect and indifference, he is
plunged into the deepest melancholy. If parents or relatives put
obstacles in the way, heaven and earth are moved to get them out
of the way. This is the burden of so many novels and romances
that are read with eagerness by people of every condition and
every class of society. If the desire of earthly beauty, of body
or soul, so imperfect, so unsatisfying, so short-lived, can thus
engross the soul of man, why should not the desire of God's love,
who is perfect beauty, perfect wisdom, perfect goodness, and our
promised portion for ever and ever, be able to do far more? It
will remove all obstacles out of the way.
{283}
We shall say, as did St. Agnes to her admirer and tempter:
"Depart from me thou food for death, for I am betrothed to Him
whom the angels serve, whose beauty sun and moon admire." Every
creature that breathes is food for death. Sin is the food of
eternal death. The idea that mortal sin brings eternal death,
eternal separations from this infinite beauty and goodness, must
make us regard it with the same horror that fills the soul at the
sight of a ferocious tiger or deadly serpent. It will make the
occasions of sin hateful, and cause the soul to exclaim: "Away
from me, ye frightful temptations! I know you: Ye bear the
serpent's tongue and the tiger's claw. Ye carry with you the risk
of God's anger and my eternal ruin." Who that loves God, or
desires to love Him, could venture into any place, into the
society of any person, where the danger of mortal sin is lurking,
since he knows that mortal sin is banishment from God?

{284}

This sacred desire would also consume every kind of deliberate
sin, whether great or small. This is the language of a heart that
longs after divine love. "Oh! how can I admit this, it is sinful;
it will cool away the fervor of my soul, it will prevent me from
making that near approach to God's love which I so much covet."
Cursing and swearing, lying, slandering, pilfering, and every
form of dishonesty, all immodesty in deed, word or thought, anger
and foolish pride--how would these all disappear before such a
fervent desire! And all this would be accomplished without any
violence to the soul, quietly, but powerfully and effectually,
and even with delight and satisfaction. For is it not a joy to
follow where our heart's desires lead? But this holy desire leads
toward God, and away from sin.

Again, this ardent desire to love God more and more will make it
easy and pleasant to us to perform all our duties. We cannot work
without a motive, without proposing something to ourselves which
appears good in our eyes. If the work to be done is arduous or
difficult, the motive or inducement must be a strong one. Such a
strong motive will render what is difficult easy. How easy it is
for men to take the longest journeys, endure the greatest labors,
when their souls are fired with the desire of providing for their
beloved ones at home, or with a noble ambition to serve their
country, or even for the miserable pursuit of gain.
{285}
Only hold out the prospect of success, and any amount of labor
seems light to them. Cannot the motive of God's love do as much?
Is it not as great? Can it not fill the soul as much as any
other? For an answer to these questions, look at what the Saints,
holy men and women, have done. Urged and animated by this
all-absorbing love, they have not counted life even as dear to
them, but given it up freely and gladly under the most frightful
torments. Look at the labors and sufferings of others, for
example, of a St. Francis Xavier, enough in his case, one would
suppose, to kill twenty ordinary men, all endured with the most
heroic cheerfulness and joy. No, depend upon it, the labors and
duties of ordinary life will seem trifling in the eyes of the
Christian who longs for the love of Jesus Christ. His soul burns
for opportunities. What shall I do? he says. 'Why do I stand here
idle? Lord, send me something to do.' The cares, duties, and
responsibilities of every-day life are the first things to be
done; sent by the Lord to be done for his sake. Therefore the
soul, instead of finding in them a source of complaint, finds an
outlet for that activity which she desires to exercise for God.
{286}
Suppose one would only say to himself, I want to do something to
please God and increase in his love. Now, I have not to search
for it; it is here before my face. To take care of my family,
endure fatigue and exertion for them, to discharge with fidelity
this office or employment committed to me, by which I earn my
bread. I will set right to work to do it. It is little indeed
that is required of me, but that little, and nothing else, is
what God requires of me now. Thanks be to Him who has made my way
plain before my face. In this way do things naturally distasteful
and irksome become agreeable, when the love of God is spread over
them.

This desire for God's love will also moderate all excessive
desire for the pleasures of the world. I do not speak now so much
of sinful pleasures, as of allowing the heart to go too much
after such as are allowed. Such liberty leads to sin by a short
road. Our life is too important to be trifled away. God requires
of us not to set our hearts on the pleasures or pomp of this
world, because then it is sure to forget, what is of so much more
importance, Himself.
{287}
Now, as soon as the soul in earnest perceives that indulgence is
producing this effect, that she is losing the relish for the love
of God and spiritual things, she is startled, and cannot but feel
afflicted. What, she says, shall I barter away so immense a good
for such trifles? The very pain this reflection causes weans her
away from pleasure. She judges, and judges rightly, that a small
enjoyment neglected for so high a motive, will bring a higher and
better happiness. We all know this in every-day affairs. Most men
prefer to neglect the pleasure of the moment when they see that
they gain a greater one for themselves in the future. How
provident, how temperate they are in early life to lay up an
abundance for old age! What old age can compare with eternity?
How strong then the motive of the soul to moderate all her
earthly desires, that she may have time and opportunity to look
out for that eternity. The ardent lover of God looks at every
thing in such a light. Pleasure becomes irksome to him very soon,
because he has something so much more important on his mind, that
he cannot, and will not rest easy, unless it be attended to.
{288}
He is no longer a little child, and cannot amuse himself with
running after butterflies the whole day. Besides, a greater
pleasure has engrossed and filled up his soul, and leaves no room
for trifles. It is the happiness of uniting himself to God. There
is no drawback to this. After a day spent in trying, with all his
heart, to please his God, he feels no regret for it at night,
when he lies down on his pillow. He is not left uneasy, restless,
and dissatisfied, as when pleasure, ease, and self-indulgence
were his aim, but is full of tranquillity, full of hope, and full
of the desire that his whole life may be thus spent in the same,
or greater efforts, to please God. The pleasures of the world
soon grow to be worthless in the eyes of such a man. With St.
Paul he says: "_I account all things as dung, so that I may win
Christ_." [Footnote 120]

    [Footnote 120: Phil. iii. 8.]

It is not hard to part with what we esteem so little. The joy of
the heart amply compensates for all sacrifices, so that instead
of a long face, a melancholy and soured heart, such a one enjoys
deep gladness and satisfaction of mind, which grows deeper and
more complete, in proportion as he is weaned away from the
pleasures of the world.

{289}

Finally, all those things which are naturally disagreeable, such
as misfortunes, pains, sickness, trials of all kinds, become easy
and even agreeable through such a strong desire. The Martyrs
smiled in the midst of their torments. Did they not feel them?
Most certainly they had the same flesh and blood as ourselves.
But their souls had a sight of Jesus, surrounded by his Angels,
and this distracted their attention from all their torments. So
St. Stephen, when he saw this sight, became radiant with joy, and
his face shone like the face of an Angel. Sufferings,
tribulations and trials are things that force the soul to look
steadfastly upon Jesus, and the sight of Him takes from them all
their bitterness. So we read that an old hermit of the desert
complained when his yearly sickness failed to come upon him, that
the Lord had neglected to visit him. The soul that earnestly
desires God's love needs only to be told that pain of body or
mind, borne patiently, as coming from God's hand, is the surest
means of obtaining its desire. Pain is accepted then with
alacrity, and with pleasure.
{290}
To be sure, the first pangs may be exceedingly hard to bear; the
soul may require a little time to recollect herself, and gather
force to overcome the repugnance of nature. But a little
reflection puts every thing in its proper place. Shall I, she
says, reject the very things I have longed for, the opportunities
of making rapid progress in the love of God? If this does not
still the tumult of nature, prayers are resorted to, and in the
end comes victory and triumph, a wonderful vigor and refreshment
of the soul.

This is not merely for Martyrs and canonized Saints; it is a
thing that belongs to every-day life--the grand remedy for all
the ills we are subject to: "_Take up my yoke,_" says the
Saviour, "_for my yoke is easy and my burden light, and ye
shall find rest for your souls_." [Footnote 121]

   [Footnote 121: St. Matt, xi., 29.]

It seems strange that the cross of Christ should give rest, but
it is so; and the tribulations which come from his hand, as St.
James says, work patience, and patience hath a perfect work;
therefore it is to be counted joy to receive them, and not
sorrow. And such will be the sentiment of the lover of God.
{291}
So in the Sermon on the Mount, the burden is always: "_Rejoice
and be exceeding glad_." For what? Poverty, afflictions,
persecutions, false testimony, and so on--they are worthy of joy,
because they bring what the soul so much desires.

See then what great things the desire to love God will do for
you! May the poor thoughts which I have strung together, excite
in your minds this fruitful and wonder-working desire. Regard the
love of God as the pearl of great price. Consider over and over
again the value of it. Persevere in efforts to appreciate it. Say
to yourselves--I will not forget. I will continually repeat: Oh,
God, make me to know thee, and to love thee more and more! Oh,
how I wish to love my God better than I do! Excite this desire in
the morning when you arise--during the day, when you are
tempted--when you are discouraged--when you have any thing to
suffer--in the midst of pleasure, and whenever the Holy Ghost
inspires it. At night, take some time to reflect upon the love of
God, to sigh and beg for it. Persevere, and it will not be long
before your heart will be inflamed with it--your whole life will
be filled with it. Your only uneasiness will be because that
burning desire cannot be fully satisfied in this world.
{292}
This is to hunger and thirst after justice. What a blessed hunger
and thirst it is, and what a blessed promise accompanies it!
"_Blessed are ye who hunger and thirst after justice, for you
shall be filled_." [Footnote 122] Filled with justice! What
does that mean? Filled so that we shall not want any more. Not
filled with money--which will leave us poor and naked at the last
hour. Not filled with sensual pleasures, which please the heart
in time and burn it in eternity; but filled with justice, that
is, filled with God--filled with a deep inward peace and joy
during our mortal life--a foretaste of heaven; and filled with
glory and happiness unspeakable in heaven itself forever. Amen.

    [Footnote 122: St. Matt. v., 6.]

     -----------------

{293}

        Sermon XVIII.

    The Worth Of The Soul.


  "There shall be joy before the angels of God
  over one sinner doing penance."
     --St. Luke xv., 10.

  (From the Gospel for the 3d Sunday after Pentecost.)


This is what theologians call an _accidental_ joy. The
essential joy of Heaven consists in the perfect knowledge and
love of God, and is unchangeable and eternal; but the accidental
joy of Heaven springs from the knowledge of those events in time
which display the goodness and greatness of God. The first of
these events was the creation itself, when the hand of God spread
the carpet of the earth and stretched the curtains of the
heavens. Then "_the morning stars praised Him together, and all
the sons of God made a joyful melody_." [Footnote 123]

    [Footnote 123: Job xxxviii., 7.]

{294}

After this the great historic events of the world have been
successively the burden of the angelic songs--the unfolding of
the plan of Redemption, the birth of Christ, the triumphs of the
Church. But lo! of a sudden these lofty strains are stopped.
There is silence for a moment, and then the golden harps take up
a new and tenderer theme. What is it that has happened? What is
the event that can interrupt the great harmonies of Heaven, and
furnish the Angels with a new song? In some corner of the earth,
in some secret chamber, in some confessional, on some sick bed,
in some dark prison, a sinner is doing penance. He prays, whose
mouth had been full of cursings. He weeps, who had made a mock at
sin. The slave of Satan and of Hell turns back to God and
Heaven--and that is the reason of this unusual joy. It is not
that a recovered sinner is really of more account than one who
has never fallen, but his recovery from danger is the occasion of
expressing that esteem and love for the souls of men which always
fills the heart of God and the Angels. Therefore, as that
contrite cry reaches heaven the Angels are silent, for they know
that there is no music in the ear of God like that.
{295}
And then, when God has ratified the absolving words of the
priest, and restored the contrite sinner to His favor, they cast
themselves before the throne, and break forth into loud swelling
strains of ecstasy and triumph, while He Himself smiles his
sympathy and joy. Oh, my brethren, what a revelation this is! A
revelation of the value of the soul. There are great rejoicings
on earth when a battle is won, or upon the occasion of the visit
of some great statesman or warrior, or when some great commercial
enterprise is successful, but these things do not cause joy in
Heaven. The conversion of one soul--it may be a child, or a young
man, or an old woman--the conversion of one soul, that it is that
makes a gala day in Heaven. Now God sees every thing just as it
is, and if there are such rejoicings in Heaven when a soul is
won, what must be the value of a soul! Let us confess the truth,
we have not thought enough of the value of a soul. We have
thought too much of the world, of its pleasures, of its profits,
of its honors, but too little of our own souls. We have not
thought of them as God thinks of them. Let us then strive to
exalt our ideas, by considering some of the reasons why we should
put a high value on our souls.

{296}

In the first place, we should value a human soul, because it is
in itself superior to any thing else in the world. The whole
world, indeed, with every thing in it, is good, for God made it.
But He proceeded in a very different manner in the creation of
the material world from what He did when He made the soul. He
made the world, the trees, the rivers, the lights of heaven, the
living creatures on the earth, by the mere word of his power.
"_God said, Be light made. And light was made_." [Footnote
124] And God said, "_Let the earth bring forth the green herb,
and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind. And it was
so_." [Footnote 125]

    [Footnote 124: Gen. i., 3.]

    [Footnote 125: Gen. i., 12.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Gen. i., 11,12.]

But when He made the soul, the Scriptures tell us, "_He
breathed into the face of man and he became a living soul_."
[Footnote 126]

    [Footnote 126: Gen. i., 26.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Gen. ii., 7.]

By this action we are to understand that God communicated to man
a nature kindred to his own divinity. The Holy Ghost, the Third
Person of the Blessed Trinity, is the uncreated Spirit of God,
eternally breathing forth and proceeding from the Father and the
Son; and God when He breathed into the face of man, signified
that He imparted to man a creative spirit kindred to his own
eternal spirit.
{297}
The Holy Scriptures indeed, expressly tell us that such was the
case; "_Let us make man to our Image and our Likeness_."
[Footnote 127]

    [Footnote 127: Gen. i., 26-27.]

This likeness consisted in the possession of understanding and
free will, the power of knowledge and love--the two great
attributes of God Himself. You are then, my brethren, endowed
with a soul which raises you immeasurably above God's material
creation. You have a soul made after God's image. This is the
source of your power. The two things go together in Holy
Scripture. "_Let us make man to our Image and Likeness: and let
him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of
the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping
creature that moveth upon the earth_." [Footnote 128]

    [Footnote 128: Gen. ii., 7.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Gen. i., 26.]

In the state of original innocence, no doubt, this dominion was
more perfect, but even now it exists in a great degree. "_Every
kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of the rest, is
tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind_." [Footnote 129]

    [Footnote 129: St. James iii., 7.]

{298}

See how a little boy can drive a horse. See how a dog obeys his
Master's eye and voice. See how even lions and tigers become
submissive to their keepers. And the elements, often wilder than
ferocious beasts, are obedient to you. The fire warms you and
cooks for you, and carries you when you want to travel for
business or pleasure. The wind fans the sails of your vessels,
and the waters make a path for them under your feet. Even the
lightning leaps and exults to do your bidding and to be the
messenger of your will. Thus every thing falls down before you
and does you homage, and proclaims you lord and master. What is
the reason that every thing thus honors you? It is on account of
the soul that is in you--the power of reason and will--the
godlike nature with which you are endowed.

Yes, and your soul is the source of your beauty, too. In what
consists the beauty of a man? Is it a mere regularity of form and
feature? Do you judge of a man as you do of a horse or a dog? No;
the most exquisitely chiseled features do not interest you, until
you see intelligence light up the eye, and charity irradiate the
countenance--then you are captivated.
{299}
A man may be a perfect model of grace in his movements without
exciting you, but when he becomes warm with inspirations of
wisdom and virtue, when his words flow, his eye sparkles, his
breast heaves, his whole frame becomes alive with the emotions of
his soul, then it is you are carried away, you are ready almost
to fall down and worship. What is the reason that Christian art
has so far surpassed heathen art? the Madonna so far more
beautiful than the Venus de Medicis? It is because the heathens
portrayed the beauty of dead matter; the Christians portrayed the
beauty of the soul. And if the soul is so beautiful in the little
rays that escape from the body, what must it be in itself? God
has divided his universe into several orders, and we find the
lowest in a superior order higher than the highest in the
inferior order. The soul, then, is more beautiful than any thing
material. "_She is more beautiful than the sun, and above all
the order of the stars; being compared with the light she is
found before it_." [Footnote 130]

    [Footnote 130: Wisdom vii., 29.]

{300}

Oh, my brethren, do not admire men for their form, or their
dress, or their grace, but admire them for the soul that is in
them, for that is the true source of their beauty.

It is also the secret of their destiny. God did not give you this
great gift to be idle. He gave it for a worthy end. He gave
understanding that you might know Him, and free will that you
might love Him; and this is the true destiny of man. You were not
made to toil here for a few days, and then to perish. You were
made to know God, to be the friend of God, the companion of God,
to think of God, to converse with God, to be united to God here,
and then to enjoy God hereafter forever. Once more then, I say,
do not admire a man for his wealth, or his appearance, or his
learning. Do not ask whether he is poor or rich, ignorant or
learned, from what nation he springs, whether he lives in a cabin
or palace. Let it be enough that he is a man, possessed of
understanding and free will, spiritual and immortal, with a soul
and an eternal destiny. That is enough. Bow down before him with
respect. Yes, respect yourselves--not for your birth, or your
station, or your wealth, but for your manhood.
{301}
"_Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and let not the
strong man glory in his strength, and let not the rich man glory
in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that_
HE UNDERSTANDETH AND KNOWETH ME." [Footnote 131] Yes, my
brethren, this is your true dignity, the soul that is in you--the
soul, that makes you capable of knowing and loving God.

    [Footnote 131: Jer. ix., 23, 24.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Jer. ix., 22,
    23.]

And yet, there is another reason why you should value your souls,
besides their intrinsic excellence--I mean, the great things that
have been done for them. Do you ask me what has been done for
your souls? I ask you to look above you, and around you, and
under you. Oh, how fair the earth is! See these rivers and hills!
Look on the green grass! Behold the blue vault of heaven! Well,
this is the palace God has prepared for you above; nay, not for
your abode--your dwelling-place is beyond the skies, where
"_the light of the moon is as the light of the sun, and the
light of the sun seven fold, as the light of seven days_,"--
but for the place of your sojourn. This earth was made for you;
and, as your destiny is eternal, therefore the earth must have
been made to subserve your eternal destiny.
{302}
Why does the sun rise in the morning, and go down at night? It is
for you--for your soul. Why do summer and winter, seed-time and
harvest, return so regularly? It is for you, and your salvation.
The earth is for the elect. When the elect shall be completed,
the earth, having done its work, will be destroyed. This is the
end to which, in God's design, all things are tending. God does
not look at the world, or its history, as we do. We say: "Here
such a great battle was fought;" "there such a celebrated man was
born;" "in this epoch such an empire took its rise, such a
dynasty came to an end." But God says: "Here it was a little
child died after baptism, and went straight to heaven;" "there it
was I recovered that gifted soul, which had wandered away into
error and sin, but which afterward became so great in sanctity;"
"in such an age it was that I lost that great nation which fell
away from the faith, and in such another, by the preaching of my
missionary, I won whole peoples from heathenism." I know we
shrink from this in half unbelief. When it is brought home to us
that this little earth is the centre of God's counsels, and our
souls of the universe, we are amazed and offended.
{303}
But so it is. "_All things work together unto good to them that
love God_." [Footnote 132] All things; not blindly, but by the
overruling Providence of Him who made them for this end.

    [Footnote 132: Rom. viii., 28.]

Do you ask me what has been done for your souls? I answer, the
Church has been established for them. Look at the Church, and see
how many are her officers and members--Bishops, Priests,
Levites, Teachers, Students. All are yours--all are for you. For
you the Pope sits on his throne; for you Bishops rule their Sees;
for you the Priest goes up to the altar; for you the Teacher
takes his chair, and the Student grows pale in the search for
science. That the Apostolic commission might come down to you,
St. Peter and St. Linus and Cletus ordained Bishops in the
churches. That the true doctrine of Christ might come down to you
uncorrupted, the Fathers of the Church gathered in council, at
Nice, and Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and Trent. That you might hear
of the glad tidings of Christ, St. Paul and St. Patrick labored
and died. For you, for each one of you, as if there were no
other, the great machinery of grace, if I may express myself so
coarsely, goes on.

{304}

Do you ask what has been done for your souls? Angels and
Archangels, and Thrones and Dominions, and Principalities and
Powers--all the hosts of Heaven--have labored for them. "_Are
they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for those who
shall receive the inheritance of salvation?_" [Footnote 133]
For you the whole Court of Heaven is interested, and one bright
particular Angel is commissioned to be your guardian. For you St.
Gabriel flew on his message of joy to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and St. Michael, the standard-bearer, waits at the gate of death.

    [Footnote 133: Heb. i., 14.]

Do you ask what has been done for your souls? From all eternity
God has thought of them, the means of salvation been determined
on, the chain of graces arranged. And the Son of God has worked
for them. Galilee, and Judea, and Calvary were the scenes of his
labors on earth, and on his mediatorial throne in heaven He
carries on still his unceasing labors in our behalf.
{305}
And the Holy Ghost has worked. He spake by the Prophets, and on
the day of Pentecost He came to take up his abode in the Church,
never to be overcome by error, or grieved away by sin, to vivify
the Sacraments, and to enlighten the hearts of the faithful by
the preaching of the Gospel and his own holy inspirations.

Why, who are you, my brethren? The woman at Endor, when she had
pierced the disguise of Saul, and knew that she was talking with
a king, was afraid, and "_said with a loud voice: Why hast thou
deceived me, for thou art Saul?_" [Footnote 134]

    [Footnote 134: 1 Kings xxviii., 12.]

    [Transcribers Note: The USCCB reference is I. Samuel xxviii. 12.]

So, I ask you, who are you? I look upon your faces, and I see
nothing to make me afraid; but faith tears away the disguise, and
I see each one of you radiant with light, a true prince, and an
heir of heaven. I look above, and see Heaven open and the Angels
of God ascending and descending on errands of which you are the
object. I look higher yet, and I see God the Father watching you
with anxiety, and the Son offering his blood for you, and the
Holy Ghost pleading with you, and the Saints and Angels, some
with folded hands supplicating for you, and others pointing with
outstretched hand to the glorious throne reserved in Heaven for you.

{306}

Have you, my brethren, so regarded yourselves? Have you valued
that soul of yours? Have you kept it as your most sacred
treasure? Is it now safe and secure? Oh, how carefully do men
keep a treasure they value highly! Kings spend many thousand
dollars yearly just to take care of a few jewels. The crown
jewels of England are kept, as you know, in the Tower. It is a
heavy fortress, guarded by soldiers who are always on watch. At
each door and avenue there is an armed sentinel. The jewels
themselves are kept in glass cases, and visitors are not allowed
to touch them. And all these pains and outlay to take care of a
few stones that have come down to the Queen by descent, or been
taken from her enemies! And that precious soul of yours, before
which all the wealth of the world is but worthless dross--with
what care have you kept that? Alas! every door has been left
open. No guard has been at your eyes to keep out evil looks. No
guard at your ears to keep out the whispers of temptation.
{307}
No guard at your lips to stop the way to the profane or filthy
word. Nay, not only have you kept up no guard, but you have
carried your soul where soul-thieves congregate. The Holy
Scripture says: "_A net is spread in vain before the eyes of a
bird_." [Footnote 135]

    [Footnote 135: Prov. i., 17.]

Yes, the birds and beasts are cunning enough to avoid an open
snare; but you go rashly into dangers that are apparent to all
but you. Sinners lie in wait for you. They say, in the language
of Scripture: "_Come, let us lie in wait for blood; let us hide
snares for the innocent without cause. Let us swallow him up
alive like hell, and whole as one that goeth down into the
pit_."--and you trust yourself in their power. Oh, fly from
them! Consider the treasure you carry. "_What shall it profit a
man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?_" Will you
sin against your own soul? you that are made after God's
likeness; you that are princely and of noble rank, will you
defile that image, and degrade yourselves to a level with the
brutes that perish?

{308}

But there are others whose offence is of an other kind. They let
their salvation go by sheer neglect. If a man plants a seed, he
must water it, or it will not grow. So the soul needs the dew of
God's grace; and prayer and the Sacraments are the channels of
God's grace. Yet how men neglect the Sacraments! Even at Easter,
when we are obliged to receive them, some absent themselves. It
has been a matter of the keenest pain to us to miss some members
of this congregation during the late Paschal season. You say, you
have nothing on your conscience, and it is not necessary to go to
confession. But is it not necessary to go to Communion? Will you
venture to deprive yourselves of that food of which, unless ye
eat, the Saviour has said: "_Ye have no life in you?_" Oh!
you have a sad story to tell. You have fallen into mortal sin,
and you are afraid to come. But do you think we have none of the
charity of the Angels? Only convert truly, for it is a true
conversion that gives the Angels joy, and we can give you the
promise that Thomas à Kempis puts into the mouth of Him whose
place we fill: "How often soever a man truly repents and comes to
me for grace and pardon, as I live, saith the Lord, who desireth
not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted
and live, I will not remember his sins any more, but all shall be
pardoned him."

{309}

And to you, my brethren, who, during the Easter season just past,
have recovered the grace of God, I have a word of advice to give
in conclusion. Keep your souls with all diligence. Keep your
souls; that is your chief, your only care. Keep them by fleeing
from the occasions of sin. Keep them by overcoming habitual sins.
Nourish them by prayer and the sacraments. How great a disgrace,
that all the irrational world should do the will of God, and you,
the rulers of the world, should not do it! "_The kite in the
air hath known her time; the turtle, and the swallow, and the
stork have observed the time of their coming; but my people have
not known the judgment of the Lord_." [Footnote 136]

    [Footnote 136: Jer. viii., 7.]

How great an evil it is in a State when an unworthy Ruler is at
its head. The people mourn and languish, and at last rebel. So,
when a man neglects the end for which he was made, the whole
creation cries out against him. The stones under his feet cry
out. The air he breathes, the food he eats, protest against the
abuse he makes of them.
{310}
Balaam's ass rebuked the madness of the Prophet; so when you live
in sin, the very beasts reproach you. Your horse, your cow, your
dog, your pigs cry out: "If we had souls we would not be as you.
Now we serve God blindly, and of necessity; but if we had souls,
it would be our pride and happiness to give Him our willing
service." All things praise the Lord;--"showers and dew;" "fire
and heat;" "mountains and hills;" "seas and rivers;" "beasts and
cattle." O, sons of men, make not a discord in the universal
harmony! Receive not your souls in vain! Serve God; "praise Him
and exalt Him forever."

     ---------------------

{311}

              Sermon XIX.

     Merit The Measure Of Reward.

  "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me,
  to render to every man according to his work."
    --Apoc. xxii., 12.


Society is made up of numerous classes of persons, of very varied
position and attainments. How marked is the line, for instance,
which divides the man who lives in the Fifth Avenue, anywhere
below Fortieth street, from the occupant of a shanty on the
outskirts of the city! Again, what point of contact is there
between the man of science or literature, whose life is spent in
intellectual pursuits, and the vacant lounger that hangs around
our steamboat landings and wharves? These men move in separate
spheres, and have scarcely anything in common.
{312}
They are like two different races of men. The difference is
perhaps less marked in this country than elsewhere, inasmuch as
royalty and nobility and hereditary titles do not exist here. But
even in this country there is a clear line of division between
distinct classes of persons. Shall this always be so? Shall these
accidental and artificial barriers survive death? How will it be
in heaven?

No, my dear brethren, these particular lines of division, of rich
and poor, learned and unlearned, shall cease with this world; but
others will be set up in their place. There is an aristocracy,
there is a hierarchy, in Heaven. St. Paul, after saying,
"_There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon,
and another glory of the stars, for star differeth from star in
glory_," adds, "_so also is the resurrection of the
dead_." [Footnote 137]

    [Footnote 137: 1 Cor. xv., 41, 42.]

St. Teresa calls this difference "a prodigious inequality." We
must not imagine, however, that these various ranks of glory in
Heaven are founded upon such accidents as birth or good fortune.
They are founded upon that proportion of merit which we shall
have gained, each one by his good deeds in this life.
{313}
The amount of grace and personal holiness that we possess when we
appear in judgment before the Lord, this, and not wealth, or
position, or gifts of any kind, will be the standard by which we
take a high or low place there. It is about this principle of
"personal merit" before God, and in view of Heaven, that I am
going to speak to you this morning. In order to do this, I shall
speak of the certainty of merit, of the sources of merit, and the
conditions of merit.



   I. The Certainty Of Merit.

What is meant by merit? It is that supernatural reward, which God
has promised by way of justice, to a good work done in the state
of grace. God has made a contract with us, as it were, in virtue
of which He has given us the privilege of claiming eternal
happiness from Him on certain conditions. Let me show you how
this is the teaching of Holy Scripture. "_Rejoice and be glad,
for great is your reward in heaven_." [Footnote 138]

    [Footnote 138: St. Matt, v., 12.]

{314}

Our Lord, you see, uses the word reward which I have used.
"_Every one shall receive his own reward according to his
labor_." [Footnote 139]

    [Footnote 139: 1 Cor. iii., 8.]

St. Paul here adds another idea to that of reward, namely, that
it shall be given according to one's labor, or good works. This
is what our Lord says in the words of my text: "_Behold I come
quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every man
according to his work_." "_For the rest there is laid up for
me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just Judge will give me
in that day; and not to me only, but to them also who love his
coming_." [Footnote 140]

    [Footnote 140: 2 Tim. iv., 8.]

In this passage St. Paul tells us another truth about the
principle of final rewards. He says they shall be given by way of
justice. The time for mercy will then have passed, and we shall
be weighed in the balance of justice, and our reward shall be in
strict proportion to the weight of merit we have cast into the
scale. "_Therefore, my beloved brethren_ (he writes to the
Corinthians), _be ye firm and immovable, always abounding in
the work of the Lord; knowing that your labor is not in vain in
the Lord_." [Footnote 141]

    [Footnote 141: 1 Cor. xv., 58.]

{315}

Then, there is that passage of which I have already spoken, where
St. Paul illustrates the diversity of rewards. "_For there is
one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another
glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in
glory. So also shall it be in the resurrection from the
dead._"

Thus from Holy Scripture we get these several facts with regard
to the rewards of the next life, namely, first, that it is a
reward, and not merely a favor from God. Next, that it is a
reward for good works. Thirdly, that this reward is given by way
of justice. And lastly, that these rewards differ as widely from
one another as do the several lights of the sun, moon, and stars.
But of what use is Holy Scripture to us without Her
interpretation, whose office it is to interpret, as it has been
to preserve it? I will quote you two, out of many, decrees which
the Holy Church made on this matter at the Council of Trent. "If
any one shall say that the just ought not for their good works
done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from
God, through his mercy and the merits of Jesus Christ, if so be
that they persevere to the end in well doing, and in keeping the
Divine commandments, let him be anathema."
{316}
Again, "If any one shall say that the good works of a justified
man are in such sense the gifts of God, that they are not also
the merits of the justified man himself, let him be anathema."

It is then certain, both from Holy Scripture and from the
decisions of Holy Church, that we can merit the possession of
heaven as a right, by our good works. But you will say, if this
be true, does it not tend to cherish in us a spirit of
self-sufficiency, and of independence of God? No, it does not;
and for the reasons I am now going to give you, in speaking on
the second point, namely:



     II. The Sources Of Merit.

There are two sources of merit, neither of which are in
ourselves, but both of them are in God. One is the goodness of
God; the other, the merits of Christ.

1. My brethren, God is not bound to his creatures except so far
as He has been pleased to bind Himself. He could have lived on as
well without any creation at all. And even now that he has
created our race, his promise is the only measure of our rights
and privileges. These promises were forfeited by our first
parents, and God might never have renewed them to us, their
posterity.
{317}
But "_God so Loved the world as to give his only begotten Son,
that whoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life
everlasting_." [Footnote 142]

    [Footnote 142: John iii., 16.]

"_Behold what charity the Father hath bestowed upon us_,"
says St. John in his Epistle, "_that we should be called, and
that we should be the sons of God_." [Footnote 143]

    [Footnote 143: 1 John iii., 1.]

It is because we are sons of God, "and joint heirs with Christ,"
that God has honored us so much, and made it possible for us to
merit by our good works. In order however, to keep us humble and
to make us mindful that in all things we are indebted to his
goodness, God has reserved to Himself two graces which we cannot
merit, and without which we cannot be saved. These are the gifts
of sanctifying grace and of final perseverance. A man is not
likely to take airs upon himself and be insolent to you, when he
is lying on the broad of his back in the road, and cannot stir
hand or foot to help himself. No, he is most likely to address
you in terms of supplication and entreaty.
{318}
Well, this is our condition when God, of his pure love, bestows
upon us the gift of sanctifying grace. Then, again, though we
should have this gift to-day, we may lose it to-morrow, and but
for God's continued graces we would infallibly lose it. Can you
imagine a dependence which is more pure than ours is upon God? An
infant is not more dependent upon its mother for the preservation
of its physical life, than we are upon God for our spiritual
life. "Give us this day our daily bread," is our every morning
prayer. We are like little birds in a nest before they are able
to fly. All we can do is to make a piteous cry, and hold up our
mouths to be filled. Where, then, is there room for presumption
in such teaching as this? Now, let me go on to my second source
of merit, which is the merit of Christ.

2. We are in a double sense indebted to our Blessed Lord. He is
not only our Creator, our Preserver, and our Benefactor, but He
is also our Redeemer. It is by his bitter Passion and Death, and
in union with these, that what we do in his name has a value and
a price in the sight of the Eternal Father. It is that precious
Blood of his which is poured into our soul in holy Baptism; it is
that precious Blood of his which we drink in Holy Communion, that
constitutes the pure and holy source of every good and
meritorious act of ours.
{319}
He has Himself explained how this is, in the parable of the vine.
"_I am the vine, ye the branches. He that abideth in Me, and I
in him, he beareth much fruit_." [Footnote 144]

    [Footnote 144: John xv., 5.]

Let us now try to get at our Lord's meaning. It is quite common
nowadays to see a grapery in a gentleman's country garden. The
entire roof of those ornamental glass-houses is covered with
luxuriant vines; and they in turn are loaded with rich green
leaves, and with beautiful bunches of grapes. The sap has made
its course through the length of the vine, and into the various
branches. Here it has forced out a green leaf, and there a bunch
of fruit. These it continues to feed, by a continuous flow, until
the leaf has gained its size and color, and the fruit its
delicacy of flavor. Both leaf and fruit owe their existence,
their beauty, and whatever is excellent in them, to this sap,
which is the source of all; but will you say that they do not
have these things in themselves? Will you say that the grapes are
not really fine flavored, but only called so because they belong
to an excellent vine?
{320}
No, certainly not. You say the grapes are fine, because they
really are fine, because they answer in point of taste to what
you understand by that term. They have in themselves a something
which is not accidental to them, but which is an essential
quality in grapes of that kind, namely, that delicate flavor
which has established their worth.

Now, apply this to ourselves. We are united to our Lord through
the Sacraments, as branches to a vine. His grace is that precious
Sap which has been let in upon our souls, through those seven
main channels. They cleanse and purify our souls. They sanctity
them, and make them beautiful and pleasing to God. The acts of
the soul, so long as it is united to God by this divine gift of
grace, are at the same time the acts of grace. They are good and
meritorious, inasmuch as they are done by the co-operation of
grace with our intelligence and free will. By rewarding such acts
as these, God rewards the works of his own hands. This is what
St. Augustine says: "When God crowns our merits, He does no more
than crown his own gifts."

{321}

Let me illustrate this in another way. St. Paul says, in his
second Epistle to the Corinthians, "_I have espoused you to one
husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to
Christ_." [Footnote 145]

    [Footnote 145: 2 Cor. xi., 2.]

Here he calls the soul the wife, and Christ its husband. By this
we are to understand, that the grace of Christ in the soul
enables it first to conceive good desires, and then to bring
forth good works, which are, as it were, the children of the
soul. Thus a dignity and worth are communicated to them, which
are, in a true sense, divine. Suppose, for instance, a Prince of
royal blood were to marry a peasant girl. Her children would
unquestionably have royal blood in their veins, how ever obscure
may have been the parentage of their mother. They would be
entitled to the right of succession, and could claim the throne
of their father. Well, in like manner our good works, having God
as their Author, are able to claim from Him a supernatural
reward.

{322}

  III. The Conditions Of Merit.

There is one condition of being able to do a good supernatural
work, which always comes first, and that is, that the person
shall be in the state of grace when he does it. God can find no
pleasure in us so long as our will and affections are turned away
from Him, and this is the case when we are in mortal sin.

Again, our merit will be in proportion to the excellence of the
work in itself considered. One apple is better than another,
though both have grown upon the same branch. To attend the
bedside of some poor sick person, is a more excellent work than
merely to bestow an alms upon him. To be contrite for one's sins,
is more excellent than to do penitential works in expiation of
them. To forgive the injury of one's enemy, is more excellent
than to pardon the unkindness of an acquaintance. The poorest
effort at self-control, is better than the best advice given to
another. I remember a story which shows what even one excellent
work will do for a soul. It is in "The Lives of the Fathers of
the Desert." A monk, who was serving God with much prayer and
self-denial, was tempted with the desire to see a man whose merit
in the sight of God should be the very counterpart of his own.
God gratified his weakness. He was directed to go to a certain
inn in a neighboring village where he would see such a man.
{323}
On reaching it, there stood before the door a poor fiddler
playing for pennies. The monk understood, by an interior light,
that this was the man. Much surprised, and rather mortified too,
he nevertheless addressed the fiddler, and asked him what sort of
a life he had led, and what he was then doing for God? He
answered, that he had, for many years, gained a poor but honest
livelihood in the same humble employment. That as to his having
done any thing very good, he did not know about that, although
there was one thing that he always remembered with a great deal
of satisfaction. "With some danger to myself, I once rescued a
poor girl from those who would have ruined her." The good monk
was made to understand, that for preventing that outrage, God had
raised this poor fiddler to a great purity of soul.

A good work, again, is more excellent in proportion as it is more
difficult. What a consolation this ought to be to us! How hard we
think it sometimes to get on in life, with its multiplied
vexations and discouragements!
{324}
We say, "What a strange world!" "What a weary world!" In the
language of Holy Scripture we say, "_In the morning, who will
grant me evening? and at evening, who will grant me morning?_"
[Footnote 146] as though things were turning out very different
from what we had a right to expect.

    [Footnote 146: Deut. xxviii., 57.]

    [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Deut. xxviii., 67.]

Ah! God has been good to us in the planning out of our lives,
better than we should be, if we had all the planning to
ourselves. I have shown you that future rewards are to be
determined by merit; now our merits are measured by our trials.
By your own admission then, this world, in being full of trials,
most completely answers the end for which God created it. If we
could but get into the habit of looking at things from this point
of view, the face of life would be lit up with a perpetual
sunshine. Yes, the harder our state of life is to bear, the more
difficulties we find in following our Lord, the more laborious
the work, so much the brighter are our prospects for the life to
come, if we prove faithful to the end.
{325}
How well the mother of the Maccabees, that noble woman, knew
this! Holy Scripture says: "_She was to be admired above
measure, and worthy to be remembered by good men, who beheld her
seven sons slain in the space of one day, and bore it with a good
courage for the hope she had in God_." [Footnote 147]

    [Footnote 147: 2 Maccabees vii., 20.]

As the youngest, her last and dearest, was about to be put to
death, she encouraged him to be resolute; and he went to a
martyr's reward under the influence of a consoling thought, which
he thus beautifully expressed: "_My brethren having now
undergone a short pain, are under the covenant of eternal
life_."

Again, our merit is in proportion to the purity of the intention
with which we do the work. The intention we make, either actual
or habitual, is the chalice, as it were, in which we make our
offerings to God. It is even more than this; for the excellence
of the intention is imparted to the work itself, and becomes the
measure of its merit. I once saw some wooden goblets in the
window of an apothecary shop. Being curious to know what they
were for, I was told by the clerk that they were made of quassia,
a peculiar kind of wood which imparted to pure water, when drank
from these goblets, a most healthy tonic.
{326}
Now, so it is with a pure intention. If the work that we do for
God is only pure and good in itself, the intention will
communicate to it its own peculiar excellence, and the work will
receive the reward of that excellence, which has become its own.

Suppose, for instance, you hear Mass from a mere motive of duty,
as being a Catholic. It is a supernatural work, and it will
secure a supernatural reward. But to that intention you have
added another the next time you hear Mass; namely, the intention
of doing penance for your sins. Well, the same act is now doubly
meritorious. The third time you hear Mass from a pure desire to
make reparation to our Lord for all the injuries He has received
in the Blessed Sacrament, and your intention is more excellent
still, and, if united with the other two, will merit a three-fold
reward.

Again, great merit is gained by small things done for God. This
is surely very encouraging for us who have not the abilities, or
the opportunities, of doing great things. Of course I mean great
things as the world views them.
{327}
A check put upon a wrong thought; the arrest of an improper word;
the silence to which we have forced ourselves, when we feel
within us the swelling of anger; the call we make upon a sick
neighbor in passing; the alms we bestow, however small; the
effort to be patient under sickness or pain; the kind word of
advice to the erring; each such act as these, will be a passport
at the gate of Heaven.

And now, dear brethren, I repeat once more what I said when I
began. There is an aristocracy, there is a hierarchy, in Heaven.
As there are nine choirs of Angels, and, so St. John tells us,
except "the one hundred and forty four thousand" who had
consecrated their virgin bodies as first-fruits to God, none
could sing the "_new song_" or "_follow the Lamb
whithersoever he goeth_," so shall it be forever.

I will say more; and this is what I wish especially to impress
upon your minds. You must already have gathered it from what I
have said. It is this. That aristocracy, that hierarchy, is in
process of formation at this moment. It is not determined by an
arbitrary choice in heaven, but on the principle of personal
merit, here on earth.
{328}
How is it with a large body of students at one of our colleges or
universities? They are class-mates, or even room-mates, for
years, but look at them after the lapse of twenty years, and what
are their respective positions? One is a merchant, in a small
way, in a country town of a new state; while the other is
representing his country as Minister at a first-class foreign
court. One is a village physician, while the other is the
nation's choice to fill the Presidential Chair. So shall it be
with families. Some will scarcely be saved, while others will
fill up the ranks of the seraphs, which were broken at the time
of Lucifer's rebellion. Where, I ask, shall our place be in this
hierarchy? Our Lord says: "_The last shall be first, and the
first last_." Where shall we be? Grace and a good will are the
only materials wanting in the formation of a Saint Aloysius, a
Saint Stanislas, or a Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; and these are
in the reach of every one. What shall I say in conclusion, dear
brethren, to spur you on to do good works? I will ask you to look
back upon the past. Does it not lie in your memory in all the
blackness and barrenness of a western prairie, over which the
desolating fire of the savage has passed?
{329}
Where can you find the trace of any real care of your souls?
Where your good works? Where your merit? At least let us resolve
now, while our hearts are warm, that we will improve the present,
remembering that "_what things a man shall sow, those also
shall he reap;_" and that "_he that soweth in the Spirit,
shall reap life everlasting_." [Footnote 148]

    [Footnote 148: Gal. vi., 8.]

     ---------------

{330}

          Sermon XX.

         Self-denial.

  "We came into the land to which thou sentest us,
  which in very deed floweth with milk and honey,
  as may be known by these fruits."
    --Num. xiii., 28.

  [Transcriber's note: The USCCB reference is Num. xiii., 27.]

  (A Sermon for the first Sunday in Lent.)


When the ancient people of Israel, after traversing the desert of
Arabia, drew nigh to the promised land of Canaan, Moses, their
prophet and leader, sent out one of every tribe to view the
country, that they might be able to bring back an accurate
account of it--of its productiveness, the number and strength of
its population, and its means of defence. These spies, upon their
return, were all agreed in regard to the wonderful fertility of
the country, but in other respects their account was very
discordant.
{331}
One of their number, Caleb the son of Jephone, was full of
enthusiasm, and said to the people: "_Let us go up and possess
the land, for we shall be able to take it!_" But the others
that had been with him spoke ill of the country, representing it
as unhealthy, and impossible to be conquered. "_The land which
we have viewed devoureth its inhabitants; the people that we
beheld are of a tall stature. There we saw monsters of the sons
of Enac, of the giant kind, in comparison of whom we seemed like
locusts_." Why did these last give such a different account
from the first? It was because they were cowardly, and afraid of
the inhabitants of Canaan, and this blinded them to the fertility
of its soil, its fine fruits and great beauty. Their fears caused
them to exaggerate difficulties, and to overlook blessings which
were within their reach.

This party of pusillanimous Israelites represent a portion of the
Christian world in our day, who, taking counsel of their fears,
and consulting their ease, speak of the practice of self-denial,
and the virtue of penance, as something to be dreaded,
unnecessary, and even criminal. "_It is a land which devoureth
its inhabitants!_"
{332}
They imagine insurmountable obstacles in the way. "_We saw
there monsters of the sons of Enac, of the giant kind_." If
their souls were of a more robust make, if their hearts were a
little larger, their error would be dispelled, and they would see
that a life of Christian mortification, instead of devouring
them, would introduce them to the enjoyment of spiritual
advantages and pleasures such as they never yet conceived of.
They would find it a land "_which in very deed floweth with
milk and honey, as may be known by these fruits_."

Their error concerning the virtue of Self-denial is owing in some
measure to a misconception of its true meaning. To establish its
true meaning, let us ask ourselves first of all, what is a true
Christian life? The little catechism tells us that man was
created to know God, to love Him and to serve Him in this world,
and be forever happy with Him in the next. A true Christian life,
then, consists in knowing, loving and serving God. If we give any
other direction to our thoughts, or affections, or actions, we
live falsely. Self-denial, as a Christian virtue, consists in
renouncing all misdirection of the powers of the soul, or in
setting aside all things which stand in the way of our realizing
the great end for which we were created. Complete self-denial
places the soul in true and complete relations with God.

{333}

Man has become in a great measure the servant and slave of the
appetites and passions of his inferior nature, and by every act
of self-denial he recovers his lost superiority, and renders
himself again their master. Whenever, therefore, we find our
passions and appetites are leading us astray, we should resist
them, and practise self-denial and mortification. If a man, for
instance, finds that his sensual appetites lead him to gluttony
and drunkenness, he should fast and practise sobriety. If pride
and vanity are entering his heart, he should exercise himself in
humility. When he finds that the love of riches is making him
miserly, he should be liberal to the poor. Anger must be overcome
by meekness, incontinence by chastity, and sloth by vigilance and
action. Briefly, the office of self-denial is to deny to the
instincts of our lower nature what is contrary to right reason,
and to God's holy law.

{334}

Should there, however, arise conflicting claims between our
higher and lower nature, then the renunciation of one good for
another of a higher order must be practised; according to the
words of Christ: "_If thine eye scandalize thee, pluck it out,
and cast it from thee_." [Footnote 149]

    [Footnote 149: St. Matt, xviii., 9.]

For what, after all, are created things, or the members of a
man's body, or even his life, compared with the eternal salvation
of his soul? Men do not hesitate to sacrifice the less to save
the greater; to cut away the masts of a ship in a storm to save
the vessel; to amputate a limb to save the whole body. It is on
this principle that our Lord declares that, "_It is better for
thee that one of thy members should perish, than that thy whole
body should go into hell_." Again our Lord says, on the same
point, "_If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea,
and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple_." [Footnote
150]

    [Footnote 150: St. Luke xiv., 26.]

The meaning of our Lord is not that there is in these human ties
any thing contrary to God's law, for his commandment to us is,
"Honor thy father and thy mother;" "Love thy neighbor as
thyself."
{335}
The meaning of the text is; if your father, or your mother, or
your wife or children, or your brother or sister, or even your
own life, should stand in the way of your duty to God, then they
must be subordinated, or even sacrificed, to your obedience and
duty to Him. Our duty to God is supreme; and when the question
arises of obeying Him or clinging to something else we possess or
prize, He is content with nothing less than an unconditional
surrender. So, then, self-denial is practised not to deny one's
self of any thing that is a real good, but in regulating what is
disorderly, in repressing what is excessive, in renouncing what
is evil, that we may come in possession of our sovereign good. It
aims at restraining the excesses of our animal instincts, and
holding them in subjection to reason, and not at their
destruction. For, in themselves considered, there is nothing even
in our animal instincts which is irreconcilable with the
perfection of the soul.

The same may be said of all human relationships; if they are not
made to stand in the way of our salvation, and the keeping of the
Divine Law, they render our natural life the more complete, and
the obligation for their renunciation ceases.
{336}
Did not Christ look upon mankind with human eyes, and make all
our human feelings his own? As a son He obeyed his mother until
his death; and even while suffering on the cross, such was his
filial love and solicitude for her welfare, that He gave her in
charge to his beloved disciple. As a friend, He wept at the death
of Lazarus. In fine, all human sympathies, sorrows, and woes,
found a home in his bosom. No, there is nothing in all created
things, nor in human nature, even in its lowest appetites and
passions, which may not be brought into harmony with reason, be
reconciled with what holds the first place in the rank of our
duties, and be made to contribute and adorn the perfection of the
soul.

For it is not the purpose of Christianity to supersede man's
nature; it supposes his nature. Christianity would be of no
account independent of human nature. Christianity finds us men,
and leaves us men; gentle, not cowardly; child-like, not
childish; amiable, not effeminate; zealous, not fanatical;
earnest, not narrow-minded; pious, not weak; humble, not abject;
full of faith, and yet rational; obedient, not slavish;
mortified, not mutilated; for Christ died to save man, and not to
transmute man into something else. Christianity demands for its
fullest manifestation the most complete nature. The more we are
men, the greater our capacity for Christianity.

{337}

This being so, how strange it is to find men who modestly assume
the character of Christian philosophers; and yet when the word
self-denial, mortification, or asceticism is pronounced in their
presence, they startle like one who is about to be exorcised! An
ascetic, in their courteous language, is "a miserable victim of a
falsely interpreted religion, starved and withered in delusion."
Miserable victim indeed, if the highest purposes of life are, to
gratify our animal instincts and give one's self up to ease and
self-indulgence! Deluded certainly, if it were our belief, as it
was that the heathen, that the grossest indulgence of sensual
passions is a part of religious worship! On such a theory, an
ascetic is unquestionably a miserable victim! But do these men
really fancy that all that lies beyond their mental conceptions
is delusion, like the Chinese, who look upon all that come from
beyond the limits of their country as barbarians?
{338}
Can they never learn the simple truth, that the practice of
self-denial and kindred virtues, will always correspond in degree
to one's conception of the dignity of the human soul, and the
greatness of its destiny. Or are they cognizant of this truth,
but pusillanimous like the Jews, who conjured up to their
imaginations, "monsters of the sons of Enac, of the giant kind,"
being too cowardly to face the dangers and conquer the enemies
which stood between them and the possession of "the land flowing
with milk and honey"?

Strange indeed it is, that these self-called liberal Christians
are not liberal enough to allow men, who have higher aims than
the indulgence of sensual propensity and appetite, to live the
life they like! If a man abstains from eating meat, why not let
him, if he likes, eat fish? If another is bent on practising
entire abstinence, why not allow him to fast? If another fancies
he will improve by scourging himself, why not let him whip his
body? If another takes the notion to shave his crown and walk
with uncovered feet, wherein is he to be blamed? If another seeks
the desert, or ensconces himself in a cave, what commandment does
he break? What is there criminal in these actions, that there
should be displayed so much spleen against those who live in this
way?
{339}
Christ was born in a stable, he fasted forty days and forty
nights in the desert, and often had not a stone to rest his weary
head upon. Daniel fed upon pulse, and gained both wisdom and
health. The Baptist fed upon honey and locusts, and "_there has
not risen among those that are born of women a greater than John
the Baptist_."

These men were in pursuit of a great object. You perhaps don't
perceive it! It is because the object which they aimed at does
not lie within your range of vision, but above it. They were
hungering and thirsting after the beauty of holiness. This was
the great aim of their lives, and they followed it up like men in
earnest.

  "Life was to them a battle-field,
  Their hearts a holy land."

Be true to thyself, O friend; and learn to "_let every one
abound in his own sense_," and in thy liberality, "_let all
the spirits praise the Lord_."

{340}

Meanwhile the practice of these virtues richly repays the soul.
They restore to the soul her true and perfect liberty. Is this
not a great boon? Suppose that a queen was torn from her throne
by a band of ruffians, and being stripped of her royal robes, was
clothed in rags, and thrown into a dark and loathsome prison.
Abuse and contempt are heaped upon her, putrid meat and filthy
water are given to her for food and drink. Her cries are
unheeded, and often she meditates an escape, but the sight of the
cold and massive walls around her shake and overpower her
resolutions. Enfeebled and exhausted, she finally relapses into
indifference and despair. Now a slight but strange noise reaches
her ears. It grows louder and louder. She listens attentively,
and to her quick ears the sounds seems to come like blows struck
upon her prison walls. They come nearer and grow louder; the iron
bars of her cell give way under them; friends enter and her
chains are broken. She steps forth free, breathes once more the
fresh air, sees the fair world around her, and she is replaced
with increased splendor and dignity upon her throne. Can you not
easily imagine that every stroke she heard given against her
prison walls, must have sent a thrill of joy through her whole
frame?
{341}
What language can express the gratitude which filled her heart
toward her deliverers? And this is simply the picture of a soul
which has been subject to the demands of its lower appetites and
passions, and has been freed by the practice of self-denial. For
what prison walls are so strong as the tyranny of passion over
the soul? What degradation is equal to that of a Christian
enslaved by vice? What food is so loathsome to the body as lust
and sensuality must be to a soul made for wisdom and virtue? What
comparison is there between the relief felt at escaping from a
material prison to the liberation of the soul from the fetters of
sin, free to breathe the pure air of angels, and feed on
celestial joys. Oh! blessed virtue of Penance which emancipates
the soul, and restores that image of God which is stamped upon
it, to its original beauty and splendor!

Besides, penance renders a man invincible against his spiritual
foes. The mortified man is like a horse in the open fields. You
may approach him with a halter in hand, and almost lay your hands
upon him, but he easily escapes your grasp.
{342}
So the devil may approach a man who has gained mastery over his
appetites and inordinate affections, with his temptations, and
the opportunity of committing sin ready at hand, but he has no
power to capture or bind him. But the self-indulgent man has not
the moral life to resist, nor the strength to escape; he is
easily led into sin and made the slave of the devil. The
mortified man is like a flower which draws nothing but its
necessary nourishment from the earth, and that through a slender
stem, while it opens wide its bosom to the light and air of
heaven; so he, by self-denial, has narrowed all those avenues of
his soul which lie earthward, while his whole mind is open to the
contemplation of God, and his heart is filled with the taste of
His sweetness.

Moreover, it renders the practice of prayer easy. All the
irregular movements of our lower nature being subdued, the soul
thus disengaged is able to think steadfastly on God, and attend
to his inspiration, according to those words of the divine Spouse
in Scripture: "_I will lead her into the solitude, and will
speak to her heart, and she shall sing there as in the days of
her youth_." [Footnote 151]

    [Footnote 151: Osee ii., 14.]

    [Transcriber's note: Osee refers to Hosea.]

{343}

According to the experience of all spiritual men, the spirit of
prayer can only spring from, mortification. "Give more study to
mortification," says Lewis da Ponte, "than to contemplation, for
an unmortified person seeks after the spirit of prayer and cannot
find it, whilst prayer itself seeks the man who is truly
mortified, and knows how to find him." Saint Ignatius once heard
one say in the praise of a great servant of God: "He is a great
man of prayer." The saint replied, "No, he is a man of great
mortification." And on another occasion he remarked, that "a
quarter of an hour spent in prayer is sufficient to unite a
mortified man closely to God; whereas an unmortified man would
not obtain this in two hours." "He who does not live according to
the corruption of the senses," says St. John of the Cross, "has
the consolation to see all the operations of the powers of his
soul tend to the contemplation of God as to their centre."

Finally, it fills the soul with spiritual consolations, according
to the words of Holy Scripture. "_Who is this that cometh up
from the desert flowing with delights, leaning upon her
beloved?_" [Footnote 152]

    [Footnote 152: Cant. viii., 5.]

{344}

While the heart is disturbed with irregular affections and filled
with inordinate love for created things, divine love cannot enter
it. The desert of which Solomon speaks in the passage just
quoted, is produced in the soul by the renunciation and
mortification of the irregular movements of the sensual
appetites, and the soul then goes forth to meet the celestial
spouse; and as all obstacles to his love are removed, she is
filled with his divine consolation. And thus supported by her
Beloved, the practice of every virtue becomes easy. "Whilst my
heart was dilated with thy consolations, I ran in the way of thy
commandments." [Footnote 153] Oh, blessed penance, which recovers
for the soul its supreme good, and gives it here a foretaste of
Paradise!

    [Footnote 153: Psalm cxviii.]

    [Transcriber's note: This appears to be a paraphrase of Psalm
    cxix., 1.]

Let us, then, enter upon the duties of Lent with the conviction
of their necessity and their high importance. Let us manfully
conquer all our repugnances to the works of penance enjoined by
Holy Church; for every act of self-denial and mortification of
sensuality will open avenues of true spiritual joy to the soul.
{345}
Let us pass through this holy season with sincerity and
confidence, practising all its requirements, that it may be said
of us also, "_Who is this that cometh up from the desert,
flowing with delights, leaning on her beloved?_" For only
those who take part in the penances of Lent can share in the joys
of Easter.





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