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Title: Sermons By The Fathers Of The Congregation Of St. Paul The Apostle, Volume VI.
Author: Various
Language: English
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 [Transcriber's notes: This production is based on

  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
  the book of Sirach were attributed to Ecclesiasticus.

  Double underscores are used to indicate text that is both
  bolded and italicized, e.g. __bolded italics__.

  End of Transcriber's notes.]


              Sermons By The
     Fathers Of The Congregation Of
          St. Paul The Apostle,

             __New York__

               Volume VI.

               New York:
      The Catholic Publication House,

           9 Warren Street.

      Boston: Patrick Donahoe.
      Baltimore: John Murphy & Co.



    Entered, according to Act of Congress,
    in the year 1871, by

    Rev. I. T. Hecker,
    In the Office of the Librarian of Congress,
    at Washington, D. C.



The publication of another volume of Sermons by the Fathers of
the Congregation of St. Paul the Apostle, is due to the
encouragement already given by the extensive sale of the former
ones; and to the frequent solicitations for the continuance of
their publication kindly made by many of the Reverend Clergy, at
home and abroad.

  St. Paul's, Fifty-ninth Street, New York,
  __Feast of St. John of the Cross,__ 1871.






               Sermon I.

          Remembrance Of Mercies.

          __Isaiah__  lxiii. 7.

  "__I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord,
  the praise of the Lord for all the things
  that the Lord hath bestowed upon us__."

  Page 15

             Sermon II.

      The Three Gifts Of The Magi.

          __St. Matt.__ ii. 11.

  "__And going into the house,
  they found the child with Mary His mother:
  and falling down, they adored Him:
  and opening their treasures,
  they offered to Him gifts;
  gold, frankincense, and myrrh__."

  Page 32


               Sermon III.

         How To Pass A Good Lent.

             2 __Cor__. vi. 2.

  "__Behold, now is the acceptable time;
  behold, now is the day of salvation__,"

  Page 42

                Sermon IV.

         Pretended And Real Christians.

               2 __Cor__. vi. 1.

  "__And we do exhort you that you receive
  not the grace of God in vain__,"

  Page 56

                Sermon V.

  The Sins And Miseries Of The Dram-seller.

             __Habacuc__  ii. 15.

  "__Woe to him that giveth drink to his friend,
  and presenteth his gall, and maketh him drunk__."

  Page 69

                 Sermon VI.

           Communion With Jesus.

             __St. John__ vi. 57.
             [USCCB: John vi. 56.]

  "__He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood
  abideth in Me, and I in him__."

  Page 89


              Sermon VII.

     The Holy Ghost, The Comforter.

            __St. John__ XIV. 16.

  "__I will ask the Father,
  and He will give you another Comforter,
  that He may abide with you for ever__."

  Page 104

               Sermon VIII.

         The Duty Of Upholding
     The Pope's Temporal Sovereignty.

              __Zach__. vi. 13.

  "__He shall bear the glory,
  and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
  and he shall be a Priest upon his throne__,"

  Page 122

                Sermon IX.

             The Living God.

             __Jer__. x. 10.

  "__The Lord is the true God:
  He is the living God__."

  Page 141

              Sermon X.

          The Real Presence.

          __St. Matt__. i. 23.

  "__They shall call His name Emmanuel,
  which, being interpreted, is God with us__."

  Page 155


               Sermon XI.

        St. Paul, The Divine Orator.

           2 __Cor__. xii. 9.

  "__Gladly, therefore, will I glory in my infirmities,
  that the power of Christ may dwell in me__."

  Page 169

              Sermon XII.

          The Value Of Faith.

           I __Cor__. xvi. 13.

  "__Watch ye; stand fast in the faith;
  do manfully, and be strengthened__."

  Page 183

              Sermon XIII

       The Supremacy Of St. Peter.

          __St. Matt__. xvi. 18.

  "__And I say to thee: That thou art Peter;
   and upon this Rock I will build My Church__."

   Page 195

              Sermon XIV.

          The Roman Pontiffs
       The Successors Of St. Peter.

          __St. Matt.__ xvi. 18.

  "__And I say to thee: That thou art Peter;
  and upon this Rock I will build My Church__,"

  Page 214


              Sermon XV

         The Thought Of Heaven.

           __Heb__. iv. 9.

  "__There remaineth therefore
  a rest for the people of God__."

  Page 230

              Sermon XVI.

              The Clergy
     The Teachers Of The People.

         __St. Matt.__ vii. 15.

  "__Beware of false prophets,
  who come to you in sheep's clothing,
  but inwardly they are ravening wolves__."

  Page 244

              Sermon XVII.

           Humility In Prayer.

           __St. Luke__ xviii. 13.

  "__O God, be merciful to me, a sinner__,"

  Page 255

              Sermon XVIII.

        Preparation For A Good Death.

           __Isaiah__ xxxviii. 1.

  "__Put thy house in order,
  for thou shalt die, and not live__."

  Page 269


               Sermon XIX.

        The King's Marriage Feast.

        __St. Matt__. xxii. 14.

   "__For many are called,
   but few are chosen__."

   Page 283

              Sermon XX.

       Good Use Of Sickness.

      __Ecclesiasticus__ xxxviii. 9.
      [USCCB: Sirach xxxviii. 9.]

  "My son, in thy sickness neglect not thy self,
  but pray to the Lord, and He shall heal thee."

  Page 292

              Sermon XXI.

         Thoughts For Advent.

          __Philippians__ iv. 8.

  "__For the rest, brethren,
  whatsoever things are true,
  whatsoever things are modest,
  whatsoever things are just,
  whatsoever things are holy,
  whatsoever things are amiable,
  whatsoever things are of good repute;
  if there be any virtue,
  if there be any praise of discipline,
  think on these things__."

  Page 306

              Sermon XXII.

           Fraternal Charity.

       I __Epistle St. John__ ii. 10.

  "__He that loveth his brother
  abideth in the light,
  and there is no scandal in him.__"

  Page 322




              Sermon I.

        Remembrance Of Mercies.

        (For New Year's Day.)

          Isaiah lxiii. 7.

  "I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord,
  the praise of the Lord for all the things that
  the Lord hath bestowed upon us."

In the midst of our mutual congratulations at a time like this,
whilst we are wishing a happy future year to those we love, we
cannot wholly forget the year that is past, and all that it
brought to us for good or evil. I would not, my dear brethren,
cast a shadow upon the bright pathway of our hopes; I would not
dampen in the least the ardor with which we joyfully set out upon
another year's journey of life. May it be as happy in its
realization as we could wish it to be! But I fear for the future
happiness of him who forgets the happiness of the past. The
anticipated joy of life yet to be lived is linked with those
other joys that are past--joys over blessings whose richest fruit
should be the lessons of experience they have taught us.
Would we like to enter upon a new year wholly ignorant of the
past one? I think not. We have learned many things while it has
been passing--lessons of wisdom upon which we rely to make the
future better and happier. Much there may have been to regret.
Alas! how much for some of us; but the remembrance of even that
shall be good for us. There are many of the same stones lying in
the roadway ahead of us that we stumbled upon last year. Now we
shall not come upon them unawares. There are many of the same
beautiful but poisonous flowers growing in the valleys of repose
where we shall stop to linger for a while, as we did in days gone
by. We shall recognize them, and the beauty that deceived us
before shall not deceive us again.

Blessed is the man who remembers. But there is so much good to
remember! And in that remembrance so much to make the heart
thoughtful, cheerful, and hopeful. It is this thought which I
wish you, my brethren, this morning to reflect upon: the duty and
pleasure of remembering the mercies of God--His __tender__
mercies, as the prophet so aptly calls them.

It has always been a wonder to me how soon we forget benefits
conferred upon us. It is too true. The joy we had when the gifts
were new wasted itself away as quickly as music melts upon the
The keen sense of grateful love toward the giver grows dull, and
passes into indifference, before the treasure is spent or the
beauty of the gem is tarnished. Drink to the health of your
friend and praise his bounty, if you will, but have a care--
ingratitude and forgetfulness are the last drops which lie at the
bottom of the cup. And we treat God no better, if as well as we
treat men. His gifts are such as man could never give, and given
with a depth of love as unfathomable as the mystery of His own
being and divine life. And yet we can forget! Oh! why is it? Did
He who made the human heart make it ungrateful? Did He who so
loves us make those He loves selfish? Did He who has said, "Son,
give me thy heart," ask for a corrupt and treacherous heart? Such
a thought may become that gloomy religion which thinks to exalt
God by debasing His creatures; but it is not so that we have
learned Him. No, this cannot be. It cannot be that the heart of
man is naturally ungrateful, or is unmindful of good for which it
is debtor; that by virtue of its very nature it is selfish toward
man, and treacherous to God. He who made us has not made us to be
of necessity the very opposite of what He wishes us to be. What
explains this cold forgetfulness, this heartless indifference,
that steals over us so soon? There is but one explanation. Love
and gratitude must have a test.
The words of thankfulness, the pressure of the hand, the look of
the eyes and the aspirations of the heart which are forced from
us in the first flush of happiness when the gifts are showered at
our feet, are all good and just testimonies--but they are not
enough. Gratitude and love must have the true test of merit, and
that is endurance. There must be freedom to forget, that the
false be distinguished from the true. That we claim this enduring
memory at the hands of others, and are disappointed if it is
otherwise, is a proof not only that such a test is naturally
called for, but that we at the same time deem it possible. How
many gifts pass from hand to hand during this season of
rejoicing, with the words--Remember me! God Himself bestows His
most Precious Gift to man with the same request, "Do this in
remembrance of Me." Yes, now we understand it. The true heart
will remember; the false one will forget. The faithful soul
delights in cherishing a lively remembrance of benefits received;
and the further back in the past the moment lies that saw our
brows crowned with the tokens of love, the sweeter and more
tender become the memories of them. Judge by this test, my
brethren, if you have a true heart to God. Oh! the deep meaning
of the prophet's words, "I will remember the __tender__
mercies of the Lord." Time is a refiner of the thoughts.
The love of the gift itself, the mere sensual complacency in its
enjoyment is mixed up in the beginning with the thankfulness we
feel for its bestowal. But time will wear off that dross, and
only the pure gold of the heart's gratitude will be left. It is
not the love of the gift that need last. We do not care for that,
neither does God. But we and God want the love of the giver to
remain, and the giving of our gift, that act by which we tried to
prove our love, not to be forgotten.

Look back, my brethren, look back. What does your memory tell you
of His gifts whose mercy has followed you all the days of your
life, whose hands have been stretched forth full of new blessings
every morning? Here it might become me to enumerate some of these
gifts, but where would I begin, or where could I end? Besides, it
is you who ought to remember, and remember well. You must have a
cold heart if you can forget.

You see, my brethren, what I desire by these words. I wish you to
know whether you are grateful to God or not, to that God who has
so loved us and crowned us with mercy and loving kindness. At a
time like this, when you are asking others to remember you, and
when you are thinking of all the dear old friends you have had in
bygone years, and of the sweet mementos that came from their
hands or were spoken by their lips, I would compel you to see if
you have remembered the oldest, the best Friend of all.
Alas! if you must say--He has been the last and the least in my
thoughts. That would be sad to hear, and, above all, from the
lips of those who, by their very faith, with all its blessed
consolations, live so near to God.

If there be any by whom God wishes to be remembered, and His
mercies brought to mind, it is by us who are His chosen people. I
know God loves all men, and more than we can imagine; but there
can be little doubt that those whom He has so honored as to make
them the brethren of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, upon whom He has
bestowed the inestimable gift of the Catholic faith, are the
objects of His special affection.

Oh! it is a great thing to be one of the household of faith! That
is one of those tender mercies the very thought of which should
make our heart bound in our bosom. Sweet and ever present, dear
Catholic brethren, should be the memory of the day of your
baptism, the day when you crossed the threshold of God's own
home, the Church, and there became His child. You know well what
light has beamed upon your pathway in life ever since. You know
what fountains of refreshment have sprung up to satisfy your
thirsty soul. When you contrast your own knowledge of religion,
and peace in it, with the ignorance and restless distrust of the
blinded world without, then you know how truly wise God has made


It is true for all who own the Catholic name, but what a
__tender__ mercy is that to be ever cherished in the heart of
a convert!

O day of joy to remember!--proud, loving, humble joy like that
which stirred the heart of Mary when the words broke forth in
tumultuous rapture from her sacred lips, "My soul doth magnify
the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour. For He
that is mighty hath done great things unto me, and holy is His
name." O day of peace to remember!--peace like that which fills
the soul of the wanderer upon whose longing sight breaks the
vision of his native shore, when, with hands outstretched, as if
to embrace the dear land, and in a voice choked with emotion, he
murmurs--Home at last! O day of freedom to remember! Freed is the
caged bird that beat its wings against bars more cruel than
iron--freedom that says to the soul, Fly, for between thee and
God no hand shall be found to stop thee. Cleave the skies with
thy wings, and go sing at the gates of Paradise, and thou shalt
hear the voices of angels responding to thy notes of happiness
from within. And who has done all this? O kind God! it is Thou.
It is Thou who hast regarded the humility of Thy servant. Let all
generations call me too blessed from henceforth; for Thou, even
Thou, hast also blessed me. Te Deum Laudamus!


But it behooves us to ask ourselves the questions--What it is to
remember God's mercies, and who are they that do it.

He who does not prize the Christmas or the New Year's gift
(however humble may be the offering) for the sake of the giver,
has already forgotten it. Here is something that God has too good
reason to complain of us. We do not make much of His gifts, as we
ought. We receive them, perhaps after many prayers. Prosperity
smiles upon us, temptations lose their power, our sins are
forgiven, the impending calamity is averted, death departs from
our doors, our wishes are granted a thousand times beyond our
expectations, and now that the blessing has come, does it look
much in our eyes? Does it seem to us, as it is, a great thing--a
precious gift? We are proud to display the gifts of friends. Oh!
who is proud of the gifts of God? We plume ourselves upon our
success, and glorify creatures for their aid, but too often God
complains of us, as He complained of His ungrateful people of
old, "They were filled, and were made full; and they lifted up
their heart, and have forgotten me." [Footnote 1]

    [Footnote 1: Osec xiii. 6.]
    [USCCB: Hosea xiii. 6.]


But He has not to complain of all. There are some who recognize
the source of their blessings, who wonder, in their humble,
grateful hearts, that One so high could stoop to one so low. "My
friends tell me," said a recent convert, "that I never looked so
bright and happy in my life. They think it is on account of a
piece of good news I have heard; but it is not that. I am all the
time thinking how good our dear Lord has been to me. After so
many years, to be permitted to come to Him, seems almost too
great happiness for __me__." There is a soul remembering the
tender mercies of the Lord. "Too great happiness for __me__."
Such ought to be the expression of all our hearts at the thought
of the very least of God's gracious gifts. A bunch of withered
flowers stood upon a table near the foot of the bed of a poor,
dying woman. The flowers were many days faded and scentless, yet
every morning fresh water was brought to fill the old cracked
china vase (the best in the cottage) that held them. "I love to
have them there," she would say, "where I can see them, for they
were brought to me by __him__, and they shall be laid upon my
breast when I am gone to God." "By __him!__" No need to tell
the name. It was like the supplication of Mary Magdalen, "If thou
hast taken Him away, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will
go and take Him away."
He who brought those flowers in his hand brought her also the
holy sacraments of the dying, and was often at her bedside during
her long illness. She loved him with that tender, holy, and
trusting love which so enchains the hearts of the Catholic poor
to their "dear priest." And the gift had come from him. That, was
enough. To her the dry, withered stems were daily strengthened by
the freshly brought water, the shrivelled flowers looked bright,
and shed their fragrance still around the poor chamber. Not to
her senses. No; but to her soul. Why should they not? Other
flowers might not: but these--"these were brought by
__him__." Oh! when the heart remembers, how priceless becomes
the gift, what shining beauty adorns it, what magic charms does
it not possess!

Thus, beloved brethren, let our hearts remember God for His
manifold mercies. They come from Him. They come from the Best,
the Holiest, the Truest, the Everlasting Friend. But I speak in
vain if you do not understand me. If the Giver is not all that
and more to you, never will His gifts be in your eyes as precious
and as dear as they should be, and not long will you remember
them. It is the question of the Psalmist, "Who is wise, and will
keep these things in mind, and will understand the mercies of the
Lord?" [Footnote 2]

    [Footnote 2: Ps. cvi. 43.]
    [USCCB: Psalms cvii. 43.]


To remember the mercies of God is to make good use of them. To
what end has he blessed us with the gift of faith? That it should
simply distinguish us from those who do not possess it, and to
lie idle and fruitless in our soul? Vain ornament, indeed, that
honors neither the giver nor him who receives it. You are a
Catholic in name, and you do not forget it. Is it enough to
remember that? Oh! answer God to-day. Do you remember when Sunday
morning comes, and the priest is ascending the altar, that you
are a Catholic, and where a Catholic should be found then? Do you
remember when the Church is calling her children to the
confession of their sins, and to the Holy Communion at the joyful
Easter time, that you are a Catholic, and what it behooves a
Catholic to do then? Do you remember when obscene and blasphemous
language is used in your presence that you are a Catholic, and
think what part a Catholic should take in that? Tell me, can you
lift your heart to Him to-day, and say in truth--My God, Thou
knowest that I have not forgotten Thee? "I have chosen the way of
truth: Thy judgments I have not forgotten." [Footnote 3]

    [Footnote 3: Ps. cxviii. 30.]
    [USCCB: Ps. cxix. 30; "The way of loyalty I have chosen;
    I have set your edicts before me."]


You got over that illness. I know that you said, "If God spares
my life, I will be a changed man--I will be an altered woman. No
more will I be seen staggering in drunkenness. No longer will I
keep a grog-shop, and stain my hands with the hard-earned and
wickedly-squandered money of my neighbor--blood-money, cursed by
the cries of the brutally treated wife and the moans of the
naked, starved children. No longer will I be a nominal Catholic,
a standing scandal to unbelievers, and damning my own soul by my
criminal neglect of God and contempt of His Holy Church. I will
give up all that spite and malice in my heart, and go and be
reconciled with those who have injured me for the sake of Him who
said, 'Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.'" Do you remember all
that? Yes; but what avails such a heartless remembrance as yours
has been? Even He has reminded you of your promise and of His
mercy from time to time, as He now again reminds you by my mouth.
Oh! mock Him not. Better, far better, would it be had you wholly
forgotten both promise and mercy. It would not be generous, I
allow; but now you are false and treacherous, for the mercy was
granted, but the promise remains unfulfilled.

In the sorrow of your stricken spirit, and with the grievous
burden of sin lying heavy upon you, your guardian angel took you
one day, trembling, anxious, fearful, harassed by the stings of
remorse, to the confessional.
There you poured out your griefs, and told all the shameful
guilt--griefs that seemed eternal, and guilt that no oceans might
wash away. And yet, O tender mercy of God! down falls the veil of
darkness, and your soul is bathed in light. You, who a moment ago
were stumbling in despair at the portals of hell, are now
standing before the gates of heaven. You, who had that in your
soul which almost drove you to madness, now are in such peace
that words fail you, and you weep for very joy. Yes, of a truth
God has been very merciful, tenderly merciful to you. Ah! what
would you not then do for God--what sacrifices would you not
make--what life long resolutions were you not ready to form! Do
you not remember? Ah, yes! now I remind you of it. But how long
did you remember it to any profit to yourself or praise to God?
And tell me, how now? What of your present remembrance? An East
Indian having been shown all about the beautiful city of Paris,
through its royal palaces, its galleries of art, its
manufactories of wondrous scientific and mechanical instruments,
manifested, it was observed, but little enthusiasm. The Indian
was too proud to show any emotion at sight of the works of
strangers. One day he was taken to the Jardin des Plantes, where
are cultivated trees, shrubs, and flowers of every clime.
Suddenly he stopped short before a tropical tree, fell upon his
knees, clasped it lovingly and kissed it, and, as the tears
flowed fast down his swarthy cheek, cried out, in his own
language, "O tree of my own land! O tree of my own native land,
so far away! Let us go back home again."

There are some of you, my brethren, to whom I have shown the
picture of a mercy you cannot but remember well. How does the
sight of it affect you? Are you moved with that deep emotion such
a memory should awaken? Do you hug the memory of that hour of
peace to your bosom, and does your heart cry out, "O tender mercy
of my God! O sweet hour of peace now so far away! Let me go back
to thee again!" Blessed remembrance, as happy for yourself as it
is dear to God. You are wise because you keep these things in
mind, and have understood the mercies of the Lord, and the praise
of the Lord for all the things He hath bestowed upon you.

But can you look at it with indifference, seeing there nothing to
stir the depths of your soul, nothing to call forth a grateful
aspiration from your breast? Then I think of that uncivilized
Indian, and must say: He loved his country better than you love
God. He was quick to remember __that__; you have been quick to
forget __Him__.


I am not asking too much, my brethren, am I? I am not forcing
upon your notice a subject out of place at this joyous season, am
I? When the absent one returns to the old homestead to spend the
Christmas holidays, you who have been the kindest to him, the
most lavish in your gifts--you who have been sending him time and
again sweet tokens of __your__ remembrance--you do not look
for him to think the last about __you__. Oh! no. You are
tempted to hide yourself in sport before he has seen you, that
you may enjoy listening to his anxious and hurried questions
about __you__, and his wondering where __you__ are, and a
thousand eager expressions, which show that he has been thinking
about the pleasant meeting he would have with __you__ all the
way home, and that his joy is not full till he can run into your
embrace. Oh! his every question almost drags you out from your
hiding-place. But suppose you listen in vain for the mention of
your name; that in the midst of his joyous congratulations and
happy wishes he does not ask where __you__ are, and evinces by
no sign that in your absence anything is wanting to him. Oh! the
ugly pain at your heart as you steal away to your chamber,
unwilling now to be seen, hurt by his forgetfulness, and stung to
the very quick by his silent ingratitude.


Brethren, I am speaking for God; for the best Friend, who of all
must be the nearest and dearest, and the first in your thoughts.
Looking down from His throne in heaven, he watches, to see who
have been making preparations to meet Him; who are renewing at
this time their grateful remembrances of Him. Ah! there are some
who remember, and they have already gathered about His holy
Table, and feasted at His heavenly banquet. Though no earthly
friends may have been kind or thoughtful enough to send them a
holiday present, they have still had a Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year's for all that. They have met the Friend of all
friends with the kiss of peace and the embrace of welcome, and
that has been more than enough.

But there are some who never said a word about Him, never thought
of Him, never remembered all He had done for them. Nay, there are
some who never came at all. Not that __He__ forgot to invite
them, not that He neglected to prepare His Christmas feast. No.
He is the Friend who never forgets. What shall I say? Does God
not feel that heartless coldness and neglect of theirs? Oh! the
sad, tender, complaining reproaches of Good Friday are heard in
heaven at Christmas. "My people, what have I done unto thee, or
in what have I grieved thee? Answer me." "Put me in remembrance,"
as he said to his people of old, "and let us plead together. Tell
me if thou hast anything to justify thyself."
Yes, answer Him, you of whom He is speaking. Answer to that God
who has never wearied of heaping blessing after blessing and
mercy after mercy upon your head. Tell Him what He has done to
you that you have forgotten Him. Too well you know, however, that
in Him you shall find nothing to accuse.

So, then, let us rather turn to the exciting in our hearts a
lively remembrance of His manifold mercies, and to make that
memory to good purpose. Let us seek to know, if possible, why God
has so blessed us; what object He had in view; what He expected
of us; what promises we made when we received them, and now
resolve that He shall be no longer disappointed in the fruits He
looked for from them. It will help us to acquire that spirit of
humble gratitude which so enlarges the heart, and helps us to do
great and generous things for God. With the Psalmist, then, let
us say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all that He
hath done for thee. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who
healeth all thy diseases. Who redeemeth thy life from
destruction, and crowneth thee with mercy and compassion."
[Footnote 4] So shall the New Year begin with praise and
thanksgiving, to end with blessings new and better than the last.

    [Footnote 4: Ps. cii. 2-4.]
    [USCCB: Ps. ciii. 2-4.]



            Sermon II.

   The Three Gifts Of The Magi.

  (For The Feast of The Epiphany.)

       St. Matthew ii. 11.

  "__And going into the house, they found
  the child with Mary his mother: and
  falling down, they adored him: and
  opening their treasures, they offered
  to him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh__."

These wise men, who are supposed by many to have been kings, were
led by the appearance of the miraculous star in the heavens, and
the secret inspirations of the Holy Ghost, to Bethlehem, in order
to find out and adore the Child who was born king of the Jews.
After a long search, they found Him, lying in a manger, and, in
spite of the poverty and the straw, they recognized in Him the
King of souls, the Creator of heaven and earth. With a deep faith
they adored Him, and, opening their treasures, offered to Him
gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


And we are all, in like manner, drawn to do the same thing. The
light of faith directs us to the poor stable of Bethlehem, where
we behold the Lord of Glory disguised in the form of an infant,
and it becomes us also to offer Him our treasures of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh.

And, first, what is the pure gold which is acceptable to our God
and Creator? By gold is understood charity or the love of our
God. And by this charity is understood the pure intention of
pleasing God by which we should be governed in all our works. The
love of God does not essentially consist in a tender feeling of
affection or in a sensible devotion of tears, which we are not
always able to elicit, much as we might desire it, but in a good
and pure intention. That this is so should be a great consolation
and encouragement to us. We have no right to say, as many do, "I
cannot love God," for this is an untruth. It lies in every one's
power to love Him, if he only desires sincerely to do so. We
might say with truth--My heart is cold, and I am grieved because
I cannot experience that warm love of God which I desire so much;
but I would reply to all such--Set your fears at rest; make a
good intention to please and love God to the best of your
ability, and you have, at once, the real, true, and solid love of
Him which will bring you by the shortest route to the kingdom of


It is related that one of the old heathen kings had an avarice so
great that he desired that all he touched might be turned into
gold. His request being granted, he perished of hunger. Avarice
for spiritual treasures has no such evil effect. On the contrary,
our Lord says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after
justice, for they shall be filled." Now I wish that, in like
manner, what ever you touch with your hearts--that is, what ever
you long for or desire--might, by a good intention, be turned
into the gold of the purest charity. Our Saviour has said, You
cannot so much as give a cup of cold water in My Name--that is,
with a good intention--without receiving a reward for it. The
treasures of grace and merit lie in immense heaps all around us,
and we can help ourselves. Whatever we do, then, let us do it in
the name of the Lord, following out the injunction of St. Paul,
"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do,
do all things for the glory of God." [Footnote 5] I hope, then,
you will all, on this blessed festival, determine to direct all
your thoughts, words, and actions to the glory of God to the very
best of your ability, and thus open your treasures, and offer to
the Infant Jesus lying on the straw a great heap of pure, bright

    [Footnote 5: I Cor. x. 31.]


The wise men of the East offered not gold only, but also
frankincense. What does this signify? It means devotion. You have
often seen incense put into the censer at High Mass or Vespers,
and the smoke from it immediately arise straight upwards. It is a
figure of the prayers and burning wishes of the soul ascending up
to heaven. The Scripture says: "And another angel came, and stood
before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to
him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all
saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God:
and the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints
ascended up before God, from the hand of the angel." [Footnote 6]

    [Footnote 6: Apoc. viii. 3, 4.]
    [USCCB: Revelation viii. 3, 4.]

The act of true prayer or adoration by which we acknowledge, with
our whole heart the infinite mystery of God and His complete
dominion over us, our own entire nothingness of ourselves without
Him, and by which we declare and protest that we desire nothing
else but that He should govern us and dispose of us and all our
affairs as He pleases--this is the highest and noblest act of
our own reason. For what could we do so real and true as this?
How could we realize in a better way the simplest and at the same
time the most sublime of all truths? Our prayers ought to go up
from our hearts as from a censer which contains a fire that no
created thing is able to put out. The smoke of it should
continually arise, and all we do should be done in the way of a
prayer and supplication to our Last End and Chief Good.


Alas! we have incense enough to offer to idols. We swing the
censer to wealth, honors, and pleasures; we bow the knee, and
worship houses, and lands, and cattle, and fine clothes, and
sumptuous fare, and sell our very souls for a few pieces of gold;
but we have but little incense for God--no pure and sincere
homage for Him, the eternal, uncreated Source of all our good.

And when you offer the incense of your adoration to God, offer
pure and clear incense. Do not mix with the frankincense resin or
other foul-smelling drugs. And what are they? Those desires of
the heart by which you cling to the creatures of earth with a
passionate eagerness. Clear your heart of such desires, so that
you may say, "My God and my all." "My God, if I possess Thee and
lack all else, I am rich in deed." "If I have the whole world,
and all it contains, and have not Thee, I am poor, and blind, and
miserable, and naked." Then will your prayer arise as a sweet
odor from the golden altar before the throne of God, and in
numerable blessings descend upon you, not only for eternity, but
even in this present life.


Offer frankincense, or you will have no gold to offer. When you
open your treasures, if there is not plenty of incense--that is,
prayer--you will find the chest, in which you thought there was
much gold, to be empty. For without prayer there is no charity or
love of God. Prayer is the food by which you nourish and keep
charity alive and on the increase. Prayer is the capital in trade
by which you are to make your fortune in the charity of God to
enrich you for eternity.

And having offered your gold and frankincense, do not forget the
myrrh. And what is signified by myrrh? It means self-denial, or,
as it is more commonly called, mortification. I wish we all
understood the value of self-denial better than we do, because
nearly all the miseries which afflict the soul come from the fact
that we do not deny ourselves as much as we ought. We give the
reins to our natural desires and inclinations, and they run away
with us. Just as if we were driving a span of spirited horses,
and instead of putting a curb-bit upon them and holding them in,
we should throw the reins down upon their necks and let them go
without restraint. When they once begin to go fast, they break
into a headlong race, and never stop until they have dashed
everything in pieces. Thus we let our desires for amusement and
pleasure run away with us, until we find our pious resolutions
and the spirit of devotion entirely gone, and drowned in the sea
of forgetfulness.
How can we love God if we be absorbed in a love of good eating
and drinking? Can God come and take up His abode in a soul which
occupies itself and is taken up with the satisfaction of
sumptuous fare, rich meats, and choice wines or liquors. Such
souls are vividly described in Holy Scripture: "For many walk, of
whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they
are enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction;
whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who
mind earthly things." [Footnote 7]

    [Footnote 7: Philip., iii. 18, 19.]

How can God give Himself to the man who is absorbed in
money-making and heaping up possessions? It is impossible for
such a soul to enjoy the presence of God. Neither can He divide
the empire of the soul with worldly honors, nor even with a
passionate human love of wife or children. He is God, and they
are creatures, the mere work of His hand. They shall pass away
and be gone, and He shall remain. Such inordinate love is like
disgusting vermin in the mansion of the soul, and all such vermin
must be swept out. What ever we love must be loved on account of
God, and in subordination to His love, or God will not come and
take up His abode with us. This is the plain dictate of our


We must deny ourselves, and that not merely in forbidden things,
but in those which are lawful. If we go to the limit of what is
lawful in self-indulgence, depend upon it we shall soon pass the
limit. We shall fall into sin, and very likely into mortal sin.
Many a one has fallen in this way. He has said to himself, I can
do this thing, for it is not forbidden. Again, I can do that; it
is not certain it comes within the letter of the law. I can
indulge myself in this respect, for, even if sinful, it is a
matter of small consequence. Thus he goes on in a downhill
progress, until he becomes utterly selfish, and virtue has died
out in his soul. Our Saviour has laid down the rule for a
Christian; "He that will be My disciple, let him deny him self
daily, and take up his cross and follow Me." Again, "He that
loveth father or mother, wife or child, houses or lands, more
than Me, is not worthy to be My disciple."

We must deny ourselves, and, if we would be great friends of God,
we must deny ourselves a great deal. The fact is, in order to
become possessed of God, we must deny ourselves in all things, at
all times, and in all places. We must repress and bring into
subjection our desires, so that they may not occupy and fill our
hearts. The Scripture says, "Think not for the morrow what ye
shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewith ye shall be
clothed; but think of the kingdom of God and his justice."
Now, reflect on this: we cannot be thinking on both these things
at the same time; one thought will crowd the other out; therefore
you must drive out of your hearts those eager desires of the
world, and temporal things, and anxiety about the future; you
must deny yourselves these earthly desires, or you will never
become spiritually-minded. Could we only banish all care and
solicitude for these things, and discharge our duties and our
business in life without anxiety, for God, and for the ends God
has appointed them, we should be recompensed a thousandfold in
this life, and we should be filled with gratitude to God for
inspiring us with such sentiments. Offer myrrh, offer plenty of
myrrh to God. Offer it with gold and frankincense--that is, with
the intention of cleaning and sweeping out from your hearts all
vain and useless love, that they may be ready and prepared for
the Divine Love, and with many prayers and good wishes; and God
will accept it. It will be most pleasing to Him. Without this,
your self-denial will be in vain. Self-denial, without the right
intention, is superstitious, and nourishes an empty pride; with
it, the least act of self-denial renders you like to God, and
more fit to receive the impressions of the Holy Ghost within your


Begin, then, to offer myrrh with the gold and frankincense. Deny
your eyes what they like to look upon, that the eyes of your
souls may look on God more steadily. Deny your ears what they
like to hear; news and gossip, not to speak of detraction and
evil talk, that you may more readily hear the still, small voice
of the Holy Ghost gently speaking within your hearts. Deny your
sense of smell; the gratifications of perfumes and sweet odors.
Deny your palates delicate and luxurious food, that you may
relish better the plain and solid meat of the Gospel. Deny
yourselves all around, whenever you can bring yourselves to do it
cheerfully, for the sake of God, for He loves not the unwilling,
but the cheerful, giver.

This is what the saints did, and it is what made them saints.
Impelled by the strong desire to love God more, I dare to say
that self-denial was the sweetest pleasure to them in this life.
Having food and raiment, and wherewith to be clothed, they were
content therewith; the superfluous and the unnecessary they
abominated, for they knew they would only lead them away from
Jesus Christ.

Present these gifts not only now, but every day of your lives.
God will give them to you, and then you must give them back
faithfully to Him, and in a short time He will give you a present
which excels anything you ever thought of. He will give you
Himself, and inundate your happy soul in an ocean of
inconceivable joy and unspeakable happiness, never to be lost for
all the ages of eternity.



            Sermon III.

      How To Pass A Good Lent.

        (For Ash Wednesday.)

           2 Cor. vi. 2.

    "__Behold, now is the acceptable time;
     behold, now is the day of salvation__."

This morning, my brethren, we knelt before this altar, and
received from the Holy Church the ashes from which this day takes
its name. Why did we do so? Was it merely because we had done so
in past years? because it is a Catholic custom? because others
did so, and we were expected to do the same? To receive them for
such reasons would be better than not to receive them at all; but
better still would it be to feel the meaning, and enter into the
spirit of this sacred rite.

In the early ages of the Church, those whose sins were such as to
require (in the severer judgment of those days) a public penance,
received the ashes on this day from the bishop, and were then,
after some other ceremonies, expelled from the Church, and not
allowed to assist at Mass till Holy Thursday.
As they were being driven out, the words. __Memento, homo, quia
pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris__--"Remember, man, that
thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return"--which were
repeated to each one of us as we received the ashes this morning,
were said to them. Their exclusion from the Church, often during
a much longer time than the few weeks of Lent, was by no means
the only penance to which many of them were subjected, besides
those which they voluntarily undertook; but it is enough to
mention so much, that we may understand what are the feelings
which we, who are to-day in the place of these public penitents,
should have.

Receiving the ashes was for them a sign of the most profound
humiliation and repentance. They were in disgrace, separated from
the rest of the faithful as unworthy to partake with them in the
sacred mysteries; and they expressed by their submission a firm
purpose to amend their lives, and repair the scandal they had
given. Now it is to us no disgrace to receive the ashes, but even
the contrary; and we are not, perhaps, understood as expressing
sorrow for our sins by the act, but humiliation and penance are
really meant by it, and it is in this spirit that the Church
wishes us to perform it.


This meaning is also contained in the very ashes themselves. For
what can more completely express humiliation than ashes, which
are the mere remains of their former substance, without beauty,
strength, or any of its qualities? And what can better represent
repentance than the fine dust of which they are composed? For
this reducing to dust or powder is the real meaning of
contrition: the contrite heart is that which is not only broken,
but even ground to dust with sorrow. The ashes, also, as we are
reminded in receiving them, represent the dust of death to which
we must sooner or later come, and in which all the distinctions
upon which we pride ourselves so much now will be confounded,
nothing being left of us in this world after a short time but a
few handfuls of dust, and our souls having gone to another, where
their claims to consideration will have been judged according to
a very different standard from that which prevails in this life.
The thought of death, then, which they suggest, ought to fill us
with humiliation on account of the vanity of our worldly
distinctions, and with repentance now while we have time, because
after death repentance will be impossible.

But Ash Wednesday is not a day by itself. It is the beginning of
a season in which the sentiments which it suggests are to be
continued and even strengthened. It is of the right way of
passing this penitential season of Lent that I wish to speak to
you to-night.
And, in the first place, let us try to have a firm purpose to
pass it in the right way. With a good resolution, the battle is
half won. It is well worth our while to spend a good Lent; heaven
is, as it were, nearer now, and grace is more abundant. "Now is
the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." Yes, my
brethren, the Church does not give us Lent merely as a penance,
but to help us in saving our souls.

What, then, shall we do to spend Lent well?

The first thing to do is to cease from sin, and obey those
commandments of God which are binding at all times as well as
now. To one who will not resolve to quit mortal sin, nothing else
that he can do will be of any use except so far as it helps him
to make such a resolution. All who have lost grace know well
enough what sins are ruining their souls; and these they must
give up, or their Lent will have been of little or no use--
perhaps even worse than useless, being another of those graces of
the good God which they have thrown away and trampled under foot,
and which He will reproach them with at the last day. Though He
is always entreating us to give up sin, yet it is now specially
that He urges us, as we are about to commemorate the bitter
sufferings which He endured to redeem us from its power.
And though we are always bound to give it up, yet are we
specially now so bound, because everything reminds us so strongly
how hateful it is to God. Leave off sin, then; that is the great
thing. I do not say that nothing else must be done till this is;
but this must be done sooner or later, and the sooner the better,
for it is very dangerous to wait. This night, this very hour, may
be the last that we shall have.

This naturally suggests a special precept that comes to us at
this time. Whether we have sinned or not, we must make our Easter
duty. At other times, our Lord invites us to come to Him; now, He
commands us to come, under pain of a new and great sin if we
refuse. Obey, then, this loving command as soon as possible; do
not delay, especially if guilty of mortal sin; for, besides
running a great risk, you will lose the merit of all you may do
in this holy season as long as you remain unforgiven. It is not
so hard as it seems; and the moment of absolution will be the
happiest one of life.

Another positive precept at this time is, of course, the fast, as
prescribed by the rules of the diocese. This we must keep as well
as we can, not considering that we are exempted from it merely
because it is difficult; but only allowing such reasons against
it as make a strict observance really imprudent--remembering, of
course, the exemptions given in the regulations, but trusting to
the judgment of a confessor or physician, rather than our own, if
there be any doubt about the matter.
And let us not make the sacrifice unwillingly, merely because we
are obliged to, but as cheerfully as we can, so that we may
please God, as well as avoid offending Him. In this way we may
gain more merit, perhaps, than by anything else we can do in the
course of the year, on account of the difficulty of the work, and
because at other times we should hardly be justified in imposing
such a penance on ourselves. Besides, obedience is better than
sacrifice; and fasting in Lent is an act of obedience. So, if we
cannot fast, we lose the opportunity of doing something a little
difficult, and which we know will please God; which should make
us sorry rather than glad.

Now, to come to things not absolutely required, but which
nevertheless ought to be attended to in Lent, and which must be
done, if we wish really to pass it well. They may be classed
under the three eminent good works, as they are called;
namely--fasting, prayer, and alms.

It may seem as if the subject of fasting had been already
disposed of. And so it has, perhaps, in the usual sense of the
word; we are not required, nor would it probably be advisable, to
keep a more rigorous fast than the Church prescribes, at least in
point of quantity; but we may give up some things in the way of
food, which are not forbidden, practising some voluntary
mortification or self-denial, as far as the strength of our souls
and bodies will allow.
It rarely does us much harm to deny our taste something; to give
up or limit ourselves in something which we like particularly, if
we do not really need it, and there be plenty besides. And though
abstaining from the sin of drunkenness is not probably a
mortification, but a most severe obligation at all times, yet, as
in this penitential season this vice seems to acquire new
malignity, still greater precautions ought to be taken in those
occasions which might lead to it.

But the word fasting really means more than abstaining from food
and drink. It implies self-denial in other ways; and there are a
great many ways in which we can deny ourselves besides eating and
drinking. The tongue, for example, can be restrained in speaking,
as well as in its sense of taste. We can talk a good deal less
than we might without sin, as well as eat less, and yet be none
the worse for it. Then we can restrain our curiosity for news,
both public and private; we can refuse to gratify our sight,
hearing, and other senses--in short, there are plenty of ways for
one who has the will.
But if we have no will for such voluntary mortification, we can
at least take patiently what we have to suffer from cold,
fatigue, or any pain of body or mind; and not complain of those
grievances which come to us from the neglect or carelessness, or
even from the bad will, of others, and of which it might seem
that we have, in some sense, a right to complain. We may well
consider that we have forfeited our rights by sin, and that
though sometimes we are bound to claim them, yet often it will be
better to give them up. But what are the motives for all this
self-denial? There are many. One is to make up, in some degree,
for having gone beyond what was allowable by now stopping
somewhat short of it; that is, to atone for our sins. But besides
this, it makes us love ourselves less, and God and our neighbor
more; and it makes us a great deal more free really than if we
were all the time having our own way, for it takes away a
thousand cares and anxieties which are all the time distracting
us, and keeping us from attaining the end for which we were
created. Nor can we be happy without self-denial, strange as it
may seem; for we cannot be happy unless we are contented; and the
only way to become contented is to cease to care about the many
things which we are always desiring but often cannot have; and
the only way to do this thoroughly is sometimes to give them up
when we can have them. Besides this, God is pleased and gives us
grace when we deny our selves; for it shows our love for Him.
And at this time He seems specially to ask these sacrifices from
us. "Now is the acceptable time"; and if we do not make them now,
there is not much chance that we will at any other season of the

Then we must make more prayer now than usual, employing in this
way the time that we cut off from other things. Try to come to
early Mass on week-days; of course, nothing can be better than to
assist at this, the greatest act of Christian worship. Also, come
to Vespers on Sunday, and say the beads at home, in common if
possible, and as many other prayers as there is time for,
especially such as are indulgenced, for these are, of course,
more powerful in satisfying for sin. And in this time of special
trial for the Church and the Holy Father, we will not forget to
pray that the triumph of our Faith, which is sure to come sooner
or later, may be speedy; that the plans of the persecutors of the
Holy See may be utterly defeated; and that they may return as
obedient children to their Mother and ours, the Holy Catholic and
Roman Church.

But, besides these devotions, which we can practise at any time,
there are also others peculiar to this season: those in the
church on Wednesday and Friday nights, which will be the same as
in previous years, and which will, no doubt, be attended as well
as or even better than they have been heretofore.
There will be a sermon every Wednesday, and the Stations on
Friday. Next to repenting of sin and confessing it, one can
hardly do anything more pleasing to God in the time of Lent than
to assist at the Stations, and help to commemorate His bitter
sufferings and those of His Blessed Mother. "He was wounded for
our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of
our peace was upon Him, and by His bruises we are healed."
Surely, the least we can do at this season, when the Church
presents His Passion to our minds, is to come and go with Him
over the way of sufferings by which we were redeemed. You will
notice, also, by looking at the table of festivals at the door,
that the Church commemorates, on every Friday during Lent, some
one of the mysteries of the Passion. These mysteries we will do
well to think of specially. Try to come every Wednesday and
Friday, and not miss a single evening from this to Good Friday;
and also persuade others to come who are not here to-night, or
who have not been in the habit of coming; and come not for
amusement, or even principally for instruction, but for the honor
and glory of God and the good of your souls.


Much hardly needs to be said about alms, the last of the eminent
good works. It is evident enough how pleasing it is to God, and
what a rich reward it secures for us. In the office of next
Sunday the Church reminds us specially of this, saying, in the
words of Holy Scripture, "Break thy bread for the hungry, and
bring the needy and wandering into thy house; then shall thy
light shine forth as the morning, and thy justice shall go before
thy face." And, during the following week, she repeats: "Give
alms to the poor, and it shall pray for thee to the Lord; for as
water quenches fire, so do alms extinguish sin." That is, if we
have repented of our sins, almsgiving will satisfy for them; and
if we have not, almsgiving will help us to have contrition to
repent, and will move God to give us abundant grace; He will be
obliged, as it were, by gratitude, to give it to us; for He has
said, "As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren,
you did it to Me." Almsgiving will not save us without
repentance, but it will help us very much to have repentance;
and, to impress us with its importance, our Lord seems, in His
own description of the last judgment, to make our salvation
depend upon the charitable works which we have done in this life.
And if, by His grace, we have repented of sin and confessed it,
almsgiving will give us a degree of merit and amount of reward
which we may, in one sense, call unjust and excessive, so great
is the mercy of God.


Fasting, prayer, and alms; self-denial, devotion, and charity;
these are the principal good works at this and every time; but
they are more urgent and necessary now than usual, if we wish to
obtain the special fruit of this holy season. And, besides these,
we must not put away the spirit of humiliation and penance
expressed in receiving the ashes this morning. These are not for
Ash-Wednesday alone, but for the whole of Lent. We must abandon,
in spirit at least, the vain distinctions by which we are trying
to raise ourselves above others, and follow, at a great distance,
the example of our God and Saviour, who, being our Creator and
absolute Master, became the servant of servants for our sake. And
we have an immense number of sins which are not yet fully
expiated; for these we must do penance sometime or other, before
death or after it, in this world or in purgatory. We can do it
better now than at any other time; first, because we are obliged
to do some difficult things, which can be made to pay this
temporal debt if they are done with the right spirit and
intention; and, also, because penance is the spirit of the
season, and we can come to the church oftener, and do of our own
accord other things which are a little inconvenient and put us to
some trouble, without any danger of attracting attention or of
getting proud about it; for others will be doing the same.


Finally, my brethren, in the words of the Apostle, "We exhort you
that you receive not the grace of God in vain." This may be our
last Lent; it certainly will be for some of us; but, at any rate,
we shall not feel sorry to have spent it as if it were so. God's
love for us is immense; He is continually giving us fresh graces,
which we are trampling under our feet; but there will come a time
when I will not say His patience will be exhausted, but when, in
the course of His providence, we must be taken from this world,
and grace for us will be no more. Then, when we lie on our
death-bed, we shall look back--if, indeed, we are able to
collect our thoughts--upon the gifts of God which we have thrown
away, and wish most earnestly for a day, or even an hour, of the
time that we have wasted. Then, if we have spent this Lent badly,
we shall remember it and the others that we have neglected, and
bitterly repent our neglect when it is too late. Then we shall
fear and tremble at the thought of the awful judgment of God,
before whose face we are so soon to appear; or, if we have
confidence that by His mercy the guilt of our sins has been taken
away, we shall still feel how unfit we are, after a sinful life,
to remain in His sight, and shall see the flames of purgatory
prepared to expiate those offences for which this Lent and the
others we have wasted might have atoned. Perhaps years of
suffering will await us there instead of the few days of penance
which we have refused in this life.
And, even if we have spent this time well, we shall then see
clearly how we might have spent it better; and every good work
which we could properly have done, which we had the grace and
opportunity for, and yet did not do, will give us more sorrow
than its omission gave relief.

But let us hope better things. There is no reason why this Lent
should not be for us all that God meant it to be. That it may be
so, the first thing to do, and the most agreeable of all, is to
get into the grace and friendship of God, if we are now in sin;
and then we have only to go on and do what we can, not in a
grudging or weary spirit, but cheerfully and with our whole
heart, to please our good God, who loves us each as much as if we
were His only creature, and has done infinitely more for us
already than we can ever do for Him. His Blessed Mother and the
saints, especially St. Joseph, under whose patronage the greater
part of Lent almost always comes, will help us, and we shall have
joy enough in our souls to fully make up for all that is
unpleasant or tiresome. And all the while we shall, by penance,
be shortening the road that lies between us and our true home in
heaven, where our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, the Blessed
Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is waiting to have us come
and be happy with Him for all eternity.



             Sermon IV.

   Pretended And Real Christians.

   (At Special Lenten Service.)

          2 Cor. vi. 1.

   "__And we do exhort you
   that you receive not the grace of God in vain__."

What is the reason, my dear brethren, that you are all here
to-night? I know very well what it is. There are very few who
have not one and the same reason. You came because you wish, when
you are removed out of this world, to reach the kingdom of
heaven. You came because you would secure yourselves from the
punishments denounced by God against the sinner. You came here
to-night because you feel a strong interest in the salvation of
your souls. It is the grace of God which stirs within your hearts
and impels you to come. Now you are here, I say to you, with St.
Paul, "Let not this grace of God be in vain." It is not enough to
come within the church-walls and hear the voice of the preacher,
unless you arc also willing and anxious to follow out his


I want to tell you what it is to be rightly and truly called a
Christian, and to have a well-grounded hope of salvation. A vast
number of absurd notions are afloat in the minds of many as to
what it is to be a Christian. Where they came from, I cannot
tell. It is not from the Church, for she never has taught them,
and never can teach them. It is not from good sense and right
reason, for they teach exactly the contrary. It must be from the
devil, for he is said, in Scripture, to be a liar and the father
of lies, and these lies are the very ones which are the most
destructive of the soul. One of these lying notions is that
outward communion with the Church of God renders a man a true
Christian, and makes him sure of his salvation. The Pharisees had
this idea. "Are we not children of Abraham?" they said. But what
did St. John the Baptist say? "Say not to yourselves, We have
Abraham for our father; for I say unto you that God is able of
these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Bring forth,
therefore, fruit worthy of penance." [Footnote 8]

    [Footnote 8: St. Matthew iii. 9.]


And our Saviour said unto them, "If you be the children of
Abraham, do the works of Abraham." If there are any Catholics
foolish enough to build their hopes of salvation on the mere fact
of being Catholics, without having the spirit and the works of
the Catholic religion, let them consider the fearful denunciation
of our Lord against them. Take the parable of the wheat and the
tares. The kingdom of heaven is like to a man who sowed wheat in
his field, and by-and-by, when it came up, a quantity of weeds,
or tares, came up with it. The servants asked their lord, "Shall
we not go out and pull up the tares?" "No," he replied; "lest,
pulling out the tares, ye pull out the wheat with them. Suffer
them to grow together until the harvest, and then the wheat shall
be gathered into my barn, and the tares shall be bound up into
bundles to be burned in the fire." The question is not--Am I
growing in the field of the Church? but--Am I the wheat? or the
tares, fit only for the burning? Our Lord never seems to grow
tired of denouncing this doctrine. Listen to His description of
the last judgment: "And when the master of the house shall be
gone in, and shall shut the door, you shall begin to stand
without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord, open to us; and he
answering, shall say to you: I know not whence you are. Then you
shall begin to say: We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and
thou hast taught in our streets. And he shall say to you: I know
not whence you are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."
[Footnote 9]

    [Footnote 9: St. Luke xiii. 25-27.]


You see, then, the plea of being familiar in the house of God, of
eating and drinking in His presence, is of no avail. Others, who
are not in the outward Church of God, though in it in heart and
soul, may enter the kingdom of God, but all the wicked in the
Church shall be thrust out.

"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When you shall see
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the
kingdom of God, and you shall be cast out. And they shall come
from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the
south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God." It is no doubt
of immense and incalculable benefit to be within the pale of the
Church, and within reach of the Sacraments, but if you presume on
this alone, instead of getting any benefit, you will only make
them the occasion of your damnation. You have received this great
grace, but remember that you are thereby rendered responsible for
the right use of it. "Brethren, beware lest you receive this
grace of God in vain."

Now, there is another false idea of what it is to be a Christian,
and I am convinced that this prevails much more extensively, for,
after all, few are foolish enough to build their hopes of
salvation exclusively in the mere fact of being outward members
of the Church of God.


This idea is, that, if a man belongs to the Church and does some
good and religious acts, he can indulge himself to some extent in
mortal sin, and still be a Christian and expect heaven. I know
very well there are many sinners who know better. When they sin,
they are aware of what they are about: they know well that they
lose heaven, and that they renounce all pretensions to be true
Christians, and this salutary knowledge drives them back to
repentance and their duty; but are there not some who persuade,
or half persuade, themselves to the contrary? They drink in sin
like water, and make themselves out to be pretty good Christians
notwithstanding. Do they not go to Mass? Do they not appear
occasionally in the tribunal of penance? Do they not cry, Lord,
Lord, and beat their breasts, and call to mind that there is such
a being as God, and that they must do something now and then to
please Him, or else He will get angry with them? And then they go
off and sin as hard as they can, until they come to Mass again,
and beat their breasts once more, and cry out, Lord, Lord, again.

The Chinese do very much the same thing. They set up a huge, ugly
idol in their temples, and now and then go and prostrate
themselves before it, and burn incense, and make some offering.
This is the sum and substance of religion with them, and I fear
it is the idea some Catholics, in their ignorance of their holy
religion and through their evil disposition, have formed to
themselves, too.
Sin all the week, and try to appease the anger of the Almighty on
the Sunday by some false and hypocritical acts of worship! Why,
they must think God to be something like the idols of the
heathen, instead of being, as He is, the God of in finite power,
and wisdom, and goodness.

What is the story of such people in the confessional? Sin, mortal
sin, is a matter of course with them. Have they undertaken to
deny themselves anything they had a strong desire for, in order
not to commit mortal sin? No indeed! They think it quite excuse
enough that they were tempted. "I could not help it, I was
tempted." "Are you determined not to commit this sin again?" "I
do not know; I will not unless I am tempted." The power of God is
held very cheap by such people. They stand ready to sell it for
little or nothing at any time: for a filthy gratification, for a
drunken debauch, for a dollar or two. Judas sold our Lord for
thirty pieces of silver. They would sell Him for two or three.
Such a person comes to confession after an interval of a year or
so. What is his story? Guilty of frequent absence from Holy Mass
without any excuse--guilty of repeated drunkenness--guilty of
cursing, swearing, and indecent language--guilty of unchaste
conduct. Such has been his life for many years past; and such, it
is to be feared, will be his life until death closes it.
His purposes of amendment are only on his lips, and not in his
heart. They are made, not to be fulfilled, but to be broken. And
yet such men persuade themselves that this kind of religion is
acceptable to God, and that it is going to bring them to heaven.

Of what value are your prayers it you lead such a life? The
prophet Isaias tells you: "Offer sacrifice no more in vain:
incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, and the Sabbaths,
and the other festivals, I will not abide; your assemblies are
wicked. My soul hateth your new moons, and your solemnities; they
are become troublesome to me: I am weary of bearing them. And
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. Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the
evil of your devices from my eyes; cease to do perversely, learn
to do well." [Footnote 10]

    [Footnote 10: Isaias i. 13-17.]

Now, I have placed before your eyes the picture of a false and
hypocritical religion, on the one hand; I will hold up before
you, on the other, the idea of a real, true, genuine
Christianity, which will certainly lead the soul to heaven--the
idea of our Lord Himself in the holy Gospels.
He invariably represents the true Christian as one thoroughly
converted from the evil of his ways. He compares him to a tree--
"A good tree," He says, "cannot bring forth bad fruit; neither
can a bad tree bring forth good fruit." Why not? Because there is
good sap in the good tree, which goes alike into all the fruit of
the tree, and makes it all of a good quality, whilst the harsh
and sour sap of the bad tree affects all its fruit, and makes it
all bad.

A real Christian has a thoroughly good disposition. He fears God,
and keeps His commandments. This principle of his affects all his
actions. The whole tenor and course of his life is good. He no
longer brings forth evil actions. He may have been bad once, but
he has turned once for all and finally from the evil of his ways,
and has become good. Once he had a bad disposition; he committed
sin, and gratified his unlawful passions, in spite of God and His
commandments, and his fruit or actions were corrupted by his bad
dispositions. They were all worthless for eternal life. But he
turned to God with his whole heart; he was grafted into Christ,
and it is the sap and nourishment of Christ that flows through
his soul, rendering him a new man, and his actions meritorious of
an everlasting reward. To be a Christian is represented also
under this very figure.
St. Paul says: "But you have not so learned Christ, but you have
been taught in Him to put off, according to the former
conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the
desire of error. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and
put on the new man, who, according to God, is created in justice,
and holiness of truth." [Footnote 11]

    [Footnote 11: Eph. iv. 20-24.]

And then we have a beautiful summary of the practical uprightness
and candor of the thus newly-created man, and of the excellent
fruit of virtue which should proceed from him: "Wherefore putting
away lying, speak ye the truth every one to his neighbor, for we
are members one of another. Be angry, and sin not; let not the
sun go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil. Let him
that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with
his hands that which is good. Let no evil speech proceed from
your mouth. ... Let all bitterness and anger, and indignation and
clamor, and blasphemy be put away from you. ... And be ye kind
and merciful and forgiving, even as God has forgiven you in
Christ." [Footnote 12]

    [Footnote 12: __Ibid__. iv. 25-32.]

These are, indeed, golden words, which deserve to be read over
time and again, and pondered in our hearts, and embodied, every
one of them, in fervent prayers and ardent desires, arising like
incense out of our hearts to God, that we may have the grace to
realize in ourselves the pattern of the true Christian which they
present to us.


Let us listen once more to the holy apostle, threatening us if we
fail to conform to this measure and standard of the Christian
life: "The night is past, and the day is at hand; let us
therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of
light. Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and
drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in contention
and envy; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not
provision for the flesh in its concupiscences." [Footnote 13]

    [Footnote 13: Rom. xiii. 12-14.]

Again: "Know ye not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom
of God? Be not deceived. Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor
the effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor
drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the
kingdom of God; and such some of you were, but you are washed,
but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God." [Footnote 14]

    [Footnote 14: I Cor, vi. 9-11.]

You see that unless one puts away all these things he has no
right to the hopes of a Christian. A Christian is a follower of
Christ. Do we follow Christ when we go to places of drunkenness
and debauchery? Do we follow Christ when we refuse to forgive our
enemies? Do we follow Christ when we are covetous and hard


Look at the first Christians. They were Jews; but when they heard
the news of the Gospel of Christ, they turned with their whole
hearts to conform to it. They burned their bad books. They quit
their evil ways. They confessed their sins. They were even
willing to sell all their goods, and throw the proceeds into a
common fund, because this religion appeared to them of more value
than all the world besides. They were one in heart and soul. They
were steadfast in prayer, and blameless in their lives. You might
say of them, without hesitation, that they were of such as should
be saved, and their names were written in the Book of Life.

Look at the martyrs. When it was a question of obeying God, they
laid down their lives rather than disobey. They did not commit
mortal sin, and say, "Oh! it is nothing. I will just swing the
censer to that image, or offer that sacrifice, for the fire is
too hot, or the sword is too keen, but I will still remain a
Christian in my heart." No, indeed! They were not Christians of
this sort; but they suffered by the fire, and by the sword, and
from the wild beasts, and all kinds of cruel deaths, and thus
manfully they earned the kingdom of heaven. These were
Christians; and they teach us what that sacred name of Christian
What kind of Christians are we? Let each one ask himself this
question: Do I come up to the standard? Am I worthy of the name?
Have I any real, well-grounded hope of salvation? Am I, this
moment, in a state of salvation or of damnation? Have I the
principle, the fixed, well-grounded principle, which ought to
govern all the actions of a Christian? Have I considered this
matter, and looked it steadily in the face?

These are important questions, and now is the time to answer
them. If you have been Christian in name heretofore, but heathen
in life, do not let this Lent go by without a thorough change.
Arise out of this miserable state, and put on the Lord Jesus
Christ. Devote the whole of this Lent to this purpose. Say--I
have a most important business to transact, and it must be done
at once, before the Lent is over. Turn away from all sin with
horror, and to God with your whole heart. Drop all foolish
amusement. Drop all sinful company. Drop all excess in eating and
drinking. Drop, as far as possible, all anxiety about business,
or any worldly affairs, and give your attention to your poor
soul. Think, oh! think of eternity, of death, of judgment, of the
punishments denounced upon sinners. Do not let the thoughts of
these things leave your minds. Force yourselves to think upon
them--it is all-important to you. And pray: cry to God for mercy.
The promise is sure: "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Make such a
use of this season of penance as God and the Church wish you to,
and you will find it the best, the most profitable, the most
joyful of your whole life.

You will exclaim--I was poor, wretched, blind, now I see, now I
am rich in grace, now I am indeed happy, for God has spoken the
word of peace to my soul. Never, never more will I be so
ungrateful as to offend Him again.


               Sermon V.

  The Sins And Miseries Of The Dram-seller.

            Habacuc II. 15.

  __"Woe to him that giveth drink to his friend,
    and presenteth his gall, and maketh him drunk."__

I once made a journey to a strange country; and so utterly at
variance did all the social customs and personal lives of its
inhabitants seem to be with the ordinary habits of people of this
world, that I thought for a moment I must have stumbled upon
beings who had been transplanted from some other planet.

Among other remarkable features in their character, I noticed
that, instead of being as ambitious of obtaining a high
reputation amongst their neighbors as men generally are, the
inhabitants of that country were striving, as it appeared to me,
during every leisure hour they could spare from their daily
labor, to lower themselves in the estimation of others and become
degraded. Instead of riches, they sought poverty; instead of
learning, ignorance; instead of health, disease; and a premature
death rather than a long life.


The means to which they resorted to bring this about seemed
equally strange. By a sort of general consent, a certain number
of them were chosen to absorb all the respectability, property,
and comfort of the rest. These individuals distributed themselves
about in different quarters of the towns, and you could easily
have recognized their habitations from the rest for being the
finer buildings, which increased in size as the surrounding
dwellings of their neighbors became the more squalid, desolate,
and uninhabitable. They, with their wives and children, also
added the more to their comfort and luxury as the families about
them became the nakeder and the hungrier. So far was all this
carried, that, I observed, not a few, after having given up all
their own, would often go and steal from others, and carry not
only money, but even articles of furniture and clothing, to these
men, who seemed also to be very popular persons and great
favorites, if I might judge of the number of their clients and
the pleasure apparently derived from long visits to them, to the
loss of the company of their friends and families, and of their
natural rest after wearisome days of toil.

I wondered greatly at all this, and asked my guide to explain it
to me. "Do you not see," said he, "that these rich and powerful
persons are in possession of a wonderful elixir?
It is said to produce happiness for those who may obtain a little
of it, and these people are so anxious to be happy that they
eagerly give up all they have, and all they hope for in this
world and the next, in order to get some of it." "I do not see,"
I said, "that it makes those who use it happy; on the contrary,
they seem to me to be really bartering all their means of
happiness away, and getting nothing but misery in exchange." "You
need only look around you upon those comfortless homes and
diseased men and women, and glance at their daily lives, to
confirm the truth of your observation," he replied. "Then these
poor, misguided souls are only grasping at shadows of happiness,
and losing the reality in the meanwhile?" "You have spoken the
truth," said he; "and you need not be surprised at it, for the
country you are in is called the Land of the Shadow of
Happiness." "I will tarry no longer here," said I, "for the sight
sickens me. I will return quickly to my own country." "So you
may," said my guide; "but the seller of the shadow of happiness
lives and thrives with you also." "Does he?" I asked. "And what
may he be called?"


     "The Dram-seller."

I awoke from my reverie, and found myself standing, not in a
strange land, but in the streets of my own city, before a fine
brick building, ornamented with cut stone, proudly rearing its
showy front, and looking down with contempt upon the humble homes
of the poor that surrounded it; and glittering in the sunshine
shone the gilded sign-board over its doors, "IMPORTED WINES AND

Yes, the dram-seller lives and thrives with us, too--the vender
of the shadow of happiness, and dealer in ignorance, disease,
degradation, poverty, ruined reputations, strifes, jealousies,
insanity, delirium tremens, and dishonored and early graves. The
drunkards whom he makes are wretched enough, and commit, through
their intemperance, the most grievous of crimes; but I know not
if the sins and miseries of the dram-seller be not worse and far
more hopeless of reparation than theirs. For in one it is often
the result of weak and uneducated minds, unable to use God's
gifts in moderation, or to bear up against the trials and
temptations of this life; but the other must be a cold,
heartless, calculating, money-worshipping soul, who can thus
fatten himself upon the sinful appetites of others, and from year
to year defraud his neighbor by the sale of his vile, adulterated
trash, and take the hard-earned dollars of his customers in
exchange for it without a blush.


The dram-seller and his traffic is a well-known and prominent
rock of scandal in the community, whether it be the secret sale
from one barrel of beer or liquor in the earth-floored shanty, or
the flourishing business of a well-stocked and gilded saloon.

What are the sins of the dram-seller? He sins against justice and
against charity.

He sins against justice. To all who have examined the matter, it
is a well-established fact that in every case this business is
necessarily connected with the sale of false, adulterated
articles, and with an unreasonable, unrighteous, and usurious
profit. And the only excuse any one connected with it has ever
been able to offer is, that they are obliged, if they sell at
all, to keep cheap liquors for poor people, or that, if the
article is adulterated, it is none of their business, for they
sell it, either just as they purchase it from large dealers, or,
at the worst, only add a certain modicum of water, as they say
__the raw spirit might do the poor people harm!__

But they know the fact as well as I know it, that scarcely one
drop is dealt out by them that is not more or less adulterated;
that their so-called wines never saw the juice of the grape; that
their brandies, and rums, and cordials are all composed of proof
spirit, coloring matter, drugs of the most poisonous character
and deadly strength, and water. I am in possession of a document
circulated privately among these manufacturers of "imported wines
and liquors," which purports to give recipes for making any kind
of wine, liquor, or cordial you can name, with the address of
certain houses where the drugs I have alluded to may be obtained.


A friend was invited by a dram-seller to visit his vaults. Taking
out the bung of a large hogshead, he drew up from the liquor by a
cord a gauze bag of very small dimensions, and, with a peculiar
wink of his eye, remarked, "You see, that's the way we manage
it." "Oh! that's the way you manage it, is it?" the friend
replied. "I am very glad to know it."

The cheap materials from which the drink ordinarily sold is
manufactured, and the large adulteration with water made on their
own premises by the retailers, enables them to make the most
exorbitant, usurious profits. The popular wonder is, how so many
can carry on the business and make money by it. That is the

If the character of the drink sold, or the adulteration of it,
were always harmless to the consumer, there might be a semblance
of palliation to this iniquity, though no just excuse even then;
for in such a case the consumer does not get either what he
supposes or the worth of his money.
But when we see the dreadful effects produced by these liquors,
the morbid cravings which they engender in those who partake of
them, the extra-ordinary prostration of mind and body caused by a
fit of intoxication on them, the physical and moral degradation
resulting from their constant use, there can be no excuse for the
dispensing of such noxious articles, and he who practises it is
guilty of a fraud--a fraud of the basest and most criminal
character upon the people, and makes himself a fit object for the
scorn and righteous indignation of a just community.

Am I not right in saying that the dram-seller sins against

2. The dram-seller sins against charity. He sins against himself,
his spiritual and temporal good, and that of his family.

The business is a proximate occasion of sin, and good morals can
never allow one to remain in that state. In the first place, it
is a proximate occasion of the sin of drunkenness for himself and
for the members of his household. The necessity of pleasing and
attracting his customers obliges him often to treat and be
treated during the day. The effect of this constant tippling is
very visible in the persons of those who have been some time in
the business, and the number of those who fall into the sin of
drunkenness from the proximity of the occasion furnished by the
sale is very great. It is not an unfrequent occurrence for them
to take the pledge, in order to prevent themselves from drinking
with their customers.
Their wives, children, and clerks are exposed to the same
occasion of sin. The language and character of the frequenters of
the dram-shop are demoralizing to the last degree, not only to
the man, but to the wife and children, and pave the way to every
conceivable crime.

How many a young man has engaged in this vile traffic, who
commenced it sober and virtuous, but who, by the occasions it
presented, soon became a degraded and irreclaimable sot! And when
he first thought of going into it, how his conscience reproved
him, how often he reflected that this was not a fit thing for a
good Catholic and practical Christian. When he met the priest in
the street the day or so after the opening of his store or
saloon, how he reddened up to the eyes, and was glad if he
perchance passed him without observing him his pastor, whose nod,
and smile, and shake of the hand, and cheery "God bless you!" he
used to be so anxious and happy to have from the hour of
childhood. But now his uneasy conscience keeps him away
altogether from the Sacraments, and often from Mass. If people
enquire what has become of him lately, or wonder that he is seen
no longer at the altar, the answer that he "has opened a liquor
store" is deemed a sufficient one.
And knowing the wrongs from it, I thank God that there is such a
sense of Christian propriety and rectitude in the public
conscience left amongst us, that will deem such, a response a
sufficient one.

I know that, as time goes on, and the greed of gain takes
possession of them, the conscience gets less clamorous: but it is
scarcely ever completely blunted. They are always rather ashamed
of the business, and never mention the fact of their being
engaged in it in an open, frank manner. A person, whom I did not
know, called upon me once to consult me upon an affair, and I had
occasion to ask him his profession. He replied, evasively, "I am
a member of the ---- Convention." "But your business is--"
"Oh!--ah! (hesitating) a grocery and liquor store."

But the sin which adds the last and most grievous stain upon the
dram-seller and his traffic is the heinous breach of Christian
charity against his neighbor. He wrongs his neighbor in his
property, his person, his soul, his family, and in all his social
relations. He makes bad husbands, bad wives, immoral children.
And all good citizens and practical Catholics will bear me out in
the assertion that the dram-shop is the gulf which swallows the
hard earnings of the laboring classes; the health, property,
happiness, life, and well-being of thousands of the community;
and is the responsible first cause of the increase of pauperism,
and crime, and the consequent burden of taxation upon the State.
Recent statistics show that, in the cities of New York and
Boston, there is a dram-shop for every one hundred inhabitants;
and that, in Boston alone, the arrests for public drunkenness in
one year were equal to one in ten of the entire population. This
is a horrible state of things. As a contrast, I remember
preaching a mission in a certain town where, by the exertions of
the parish priest, all Catholics, save one, had given up the
traffic. We found the sin of drunkenness in that place
comparatively rare. No one who has examined the matter will
pretend to dispute the fact that drunkenness increases in the
same ratio with the multiplication of the dram shop. It is
therefore a public nuisance, a crying scandal amongst us, a
proximate occasion of sin, an iniquitous trade in which no good
Christian can engage without putting the salvation of his soul in

Such or such a man and his family whom you could name were happy
enough before he got enticed into the dram-shop. It was a sight
to make the angels smile to witness the clean, bright home that
man found on his return from business. Every thing was there to
cheer him. The wife welcomed him with an unclouded brow. The
children dropped their playthings to run and embrace him. If he
had not luxury about him, he had plenty and comfort. Plenty of
furniture, plenty of clothes for his work, and a new suit for the
Sunday morning.
The table wanted nothing but the blessing upon the food whenever
the meal time came. The doctor's bill never came so very heavy,
and, if one of the family happened to be ill a little longer than
common, he felt a worthy pride in being able to go and pay the
doctor at his office, and exchange thanks. His name was good in
the bank whenever he wanted money; and, as year by year rolled
by, he was getting up in the world. Men talked of his "good
luck," as they called it. Friends whispered, about election
times, that he would make a capital fellow for this or that
vacant office in his township. No family stood higher in respect,
if they did in wealth, at the parish church than his. Happy and
beloved at home in the bosom of his family; honored and respected
abroad; at peace with God and man; what fiend will dare bring his
foul presence within the circle of so much joy? Alas! for the
dark day that he was bidden by the dram-seller to "be neighborly
and come in and take a friendly glass." Alas! for the fatal hour
when the tempter invited him to "come round of an evening, and be
sociable, and not to be such a man-baby tied to his wife's
apron-strings." Now it begins the oft-told, woeful tale. A
hurried supper, and out for the evening. Later and later he
returns, with the signs of liquor on him. He used to try to hide
it at first by washing his mouth with water and taking a smart
walk. But he takes too much now to care for Appearances; nor is
he able for the walk.


In order to smooth over matters, he takes an opportunity on his
wife's birthday, and brings out the bottle and proposes her
health, and makes her drink with him; and then a little taste of
the sugared drops at the bottom of the glass for the children. It
is brought out every day now; and when the night comes, the wife
sits up late, goes often to the window, watching his return, and
there's a heavy weight at her heart that forces from her eyes
many a bitter tear. The plague marches fast. He is drunk every
Saturday night, and seldom goes to Mass. Work or business is
neglected, and the time spent at the bar-room. The money leaks
away extraordinarily fast. Articles of furniture are
pawned--first for food, soon for drink. The wife helps on
destruction by trying to drown her sorrow in a glass of liquor
now and then. The best Sunday suit and the new bonnet and shawl
are no longer in the wardrobe. The children's bare feet peep out
of old shoes, and a strange sadness and silence has come over the
once merry little group. They seem to be getting old-fashioned in
their ways, and less like children. Is that the reason, I wonder,
why there are no new toys and presents now at Christmas or at
Easter, as in the days gone by? Soon comes debt.
He had to go in debt to procure the necessaries of life, but
spared a little of the borrowed money to get his daily drams at
the grog-shop. But debt must be paid, and, as he has nothing to
discharge it with, a few days of delay, and there is a sheriff's
execution in the house. All the furniture swept, away! From bad
to worse, from one step to an other: down goes the family to
beggary and vice. Frequent quarrels, blows, and curses pass
between husband and wife, the children and their parents. He gets
an odd job to do now and then, for he is turned out of his
regular situation, and drinks a part of the wages, not at his old
friend's, but at a low beer-shop; for one night, after the sale
of his house and lot, he demanded trust for liquor; but, as he
had spent his last dollar, his friend, the dram-seller, told him,
"__he__ kept a decent place, and wouldn't have any drunkards
around __him__," and kicked him out of doors, bidding him go
home and take care of his wife and family! The wife begs around
for broken victuals, with a downcast face, and her old hood
pulled far over her forehead to hide a black eye and her untidy

The boy, his eldest boy, that was to be sent to college, was sent
up last week to prison for shoplifting; and the girl--where is
she gone? Answer me, dram-shop, where is the girl gone? And now I
have more to ask of you, O mouth of hell! Where is the house and
lot gone to?
Where is the furniture gone to? Where now are the good husband,
the happy father, the thrifty wife, the faithful mother, the
innocent children, the food on the table, the fire on the hearth,
the comfort and joy and good name and trust and neighborly
confidence, and the good Christians, the pious Catholics, that
used to be at Mass every Sunday morning in their places? Answer
me. Do you not hear a righteous God, your judge, demanding in
tones of wrath, "Dram-shop, where are my children? You--you have
robbed me of my beautiful flock!" O cruel dram-seller! O
dram-shop! scandal of our times, look upon the ruin you have
wrought! See the black cloud which hangs over your dwelling. It
is a threatening mass of darkness and woe, made up of heavy
curses, of sighs from broken hearts, the gloom of grievous
bitterness of spirit; and that cloud is pregnant with hidden
lightnings and thunders of the wrath of God descending upon you.
"Woe to him that giveth drink to his friend, and presenteth his
gall, and maketh him drunk, that he may behold him stripped and
naked. Thou art filled with shame instead of glory; drink thou
also, and fall fast asleep; the cup of the right hand of the Lord
shall compass thee, and shameful vomiting shall be on thy glory."
[Footnote 15]

    [Footnote 15: Habac. ii. 15, 16.]


Your sin is the sin of Ephraim, whom the prophet reproved. You
make to yourself an idol of gain. "And Ephraim said, But yet I am
become rich. I have found me an idol: all my labors shall not
find me the iniquity that I have committed." [Footnote 16] To
that idol you have sacrificed men, women, and children, and
brought upon many a wretched soul temporal and eternal
ruin--robbing heaven of saints, and filling up the caverns of

    [Footnote 16: Osec xii. 8.]
    [USCCB: Hosea xii. 9.]

Hear what God answers to Ephraim: "I will meet them as a bear
that is robbed of her whelps; I will rend the inner parts of
their bodies, and I will devour them as a lion; the beast of the
field shall tear them." [Footnote 17]

    [Footnote 17: Osec xiii. 8.]
    [USCCB: Hosea xiii. 8.]

Your very daily walks must be misery to you, one would suppose.
For how can you put on those fine clothes, and see your children
clad in warm coats and caps and shoes, and your wife parading
that beautiful new silk dress and expensive jewelry, when you
know that they were bought with money that ought to have been
used to clothe a family that goes about our streets in
destitution and nakedness so pitiable that it makes the heart
ache? How can you sit down and ask God's blessing upon your
plentifully supplied table, if you ever do it now, when the hand
that gave you the money to purchase all these luxuries snatched
the piece of bread from the mouths of his starving, hungry
How can you dare go to sleep in your soft, warm bed, listening to
that cutting winter's blast as it goes howling past your windows
down the street, and forces its way in the open crevices of the
drunkard's shanty, freezing the half-clad forms of his neglected
little ones, huddled in the corner upon a filthy wisp of straw?
Have you a human heart yet left beating in your bosom? Do you
know anything of a husband's affection or of a father's love? Oh!
then you must be a miserable man. How do your neighbors speak of
you? "Oh! he's a rum-seller." And the tone in which it is spoken
is a plain index of the contempt they attach to the name. Your
wife is designated as "a rum-seller's wife," and of your children
it is remarked, "Their father sells liquor." And it is a common
reply of many of the most degraded drunkards, that "although they
have drunk pretty hard, they thank God __they__ never sold

Can I ask you to quit it? Yes, I can demand of you to quit it.
You admit, and the common sense of the entire community admits,
that those low groggeries, in which drunken bacchanalian orgies
are of daily and nightly occurrence, ought to be stopped, and
that no man who keeps such a place is fit for absolution--that
is, none such can claim the right to the sacraments of the
Church, living or dying; in a word, cannot save his soul if he be
not ready to abandon it.
But you tell me that your establishment is not of such a
character; you keep a decent house. I would like you to bring me
one single liquor-seller who does not say the very same. The
business is notoriously vicious and hurtful, and success in it is
dependent upon an increase of sin and misery among the people. It
is a stumbling-block in the way of the salvation of men addicted
to drink, and woe be to that man who dares assume the
responsibility for the loss of a soul!

I have a right, then, in the name of the general well-being of
the community, in the name of Christian charity, by virtue of the
warning of our Lord Jesus Christ, that it were "better for a man
to have a mill-stone hanged about his neck, and he be cast into
the depth of the sea, rather than scandalize one of the children
of God," [Footnote 18] to demand of every man who aids, abets, or
by his own act takes part in this abominable scandal, to quit it
on peril of damnation.

    [Footnote 18: St. Matt, xviii. 6.]

I tell you, moreover, that the holy Catholic Church, which some
of you pretend to belong to and to obey, has solemnly declared,
in the twenty-second canon of the Third Council of Lateran, that
all priests are absolutely forbidden to give absolution to those
who remain in any employment, profession, or business which they
cannot pursue without sin, because they remain in the occasions
of sin.
But you insist that such is your business, bad as it is, and you
have been brought up to that. Yes, I know it is a bad business,
and will be your destruction. And I wish to know if a man must
remain a thief because he has been brought up a thief, and never
learned an honest trade?

"But the loss, father; I cannot afford it." Do you not hear the
words of Jesus Christ thundering in your ears: "If thy right eye
offend thee, pluck it out. If thy right hand offend thee, cut it
off. For it were better for thee to enter lame and blind into
life everlasting, than, having two hands or two eyes, to be cast
into hell-fire"? [Footnote 19] Where is your Christian faith and
trust in God? "Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and
all these things will be added unto you." [Footnote 20]

    [Footnote 19: St. Matt. v. 29.]

    [Footnote 20: St. Matt. vi. 33.]

No, no, there is not a single excuse which will avail you. I wish
I could find one. Many and many a time I have wished I could
frame an excuse for it, when the fact has been thrown into my
face that so many of our people are engaged in this diabolical,
unchristian traffic, and, as a consequence, have propagated
amongst us the vice and miseries of drunkenness.


Do you love your good name as a citizen? Have you any manly pride
left? Do you love your religion? Would you shrink from being the
instrument of damnation to your neighbor's soul, or of tying the
hands of the priest and preventing the spread of the true faith
in our country? Do you love your own immortal soul? Do you hope
for heaven? Would you like to hear the approval of your Divine
Lord and Master on the Last Great Day of Account? Oh! rise up to
the dignity of the Christian vocation to which you are called.
Stir up within your hearts that fire of generosity which is never
totally extinguished in the Catholic breast, and learn to
sacrifice something for the love of God and for the salvation of
your neighbor's soul.

Believe me, brethren, I have drawn no exaggerated picture of this
evil, nor deduced any unwarrantable conclusions. So lamentably
true is it all, that, were I to preach this sermon in almost any
town or city in the country, there would be found among my
hearers some who might imagine I was describing the character and
life of their own brother or father, near relation or intimate

I appeal to you, therefore, loyal Catholics, to set your faces
against the traffic; to aid the priesthood, in company with all
who love God and have the social advancement of our people at
heart, in denouncing and laboring to extirpate this scandal from
our midst.


To you who have hitherto been engaged in it, from whatsoever
motive, I appeal; and beseech of you, with all the fatherly
affection of a Christian priest, and with the supplicating tears
and sighs of many a broken heart, for God's sake, for the
Church's sake, for your soul's sake, to resolve now, and make
that resolution good, that hence forth no man shall point the
finger of scorn at you and say: "Woe to him that giveth drink to
his friend, and presenteth his gall, and maketh him drunk."



              Sermon VI.

         Communion With Jesus.

        (For Holy Thursday.)

          St. John vi. 57.
        [USCCB: John vi. 56.]

  "__He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood
   abideth in Me, and I in him.__"

It is right, my dear brethren, that, on this Holy Night we should
meditate upon and speak of the solemn and wonderful scene which
is commemorated by the Holy Church, the sad farewell which our
dear suffering Master took of his disciples before giving Himself
up to be crucified, and the institution of the sacred memorial
Sacrifice, through which He intended to remain with us always, to
be an ever-present Lover and Friend, the Divine Victim for our
altars, and the Supreme Offering of thanksgiving for the whole
world. Kind Lord, I would I had the tongue of angels to tell the
story of all Thou didst on this night for me and all who truly
believe in Thee, for human speech is feeble where Thou, my God
and my Saviour, art the theme. Help me by Thy grace.
Help these Thy people, whose hearts are yearning to hear what
Thou hast done; help them, that they may know and understand it
better than I can tell them!

The Gospel tells us that our Lord made an appointment with His
disciples to meet them, and to eat the Paschal Supper alone with
them. "And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve
disciples with Him." They met in a large upper chamber, far from
tumult and noise. Look in, my dear brethren, upon that group.
Jesus you cannot fail to choose from among them all. There is a
strange beauty about that face, a beauty which at once attracts
and awes the beholder, and, what is more, the countenance tells
of the hidden beauty of his soul. There is revealed at one glance
the beauty of Holiness itself, the most spotless of all innocent
lives, the supreme perfection of all virtue, the mirror of all
truth. What kindness beams from out [of] those gentle eyes! What
a sweet expression plays about the half-parted lips, as a
harbinger of some holy words soon to be spoken! What a calm
majesty rests upon that broad, pale forehead, needing no crown of
gold to tell its royalty!

Nor would any one mistake who is Master here. One is the object
upon whose word, look, or movements the eyes of all the others
wait. They call Him Master. Well they may. He is truly Master of
all hearts. They call Him Teacher. Well they may.
He is the source of all Truth, the Eternal Wisdom, the Word of
God. They call Him Lord. Well they may. He is Lord of lords, and
King of heaven and earth. It is Jesus. Seated there, only a few
know Him yet as He is. But the world will soon know Him, and
curse its ignorance and blindness on that day. Around Him are a
few disciples, of whom living men, in ignorance of their worth,
despise, but when they are dead their tombs will govern the

No sooner are they assembled than they know that Jesus has
brought them together to bid them farewell. "With desire I have
desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer." Yes, on the
morrow He was to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men, and to
die in expiation of the sins of the world.

But why this desire? The events will show. It was the time of the
great feast of the Passover, which the Jews kept every year to
commemorate the miracle which took place when that whole nation
was in bondage in Egypt--a miracle which brought about their
deliverance. Their Egyptian masters refused to set them free, in
spite of many warning plagues which God sent upon them; and at
last, one terrible night, the angel of God passed through that
doomed land, and in the morning the first-born in every Egyptian
house lay dead.
The Israelites had been commanded by Almighty God, through Moses,
to prepare for this, and what they did became, as God intended, a
ceremony typical of the greatest mystery the world has ever
known--the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, the deliverance of
the world from the slavery of sin and hell by that death, and the
institution of a sacrifice which, should be an ever-present,
continual, and lively memorial of that act. This is what they
did: They killed a lamb without spot or blemish; ate it with
unleavened bread; and sprinkled the door-posts of their houses
with its blood. "I am the Lord. The blood shall be unto you for a
sign in the houses where you shall be, and I shall see the blood,
and shall pass over you, and the plague shall not be on you to
destroy you when I shall strike the land of Egypt." [Footnote 21]

    [Footnote 21: Exod. xii. 13.]

The performance of this solemn commemorative ceremony was
obligatory upon every Jewish family, and this was the occasion
which brought our Lord and His disciples together, and you see
how exactly the sacrificial death of the Paschal Lamb, the
sprinkling of its blood on the door posts, typified the death of
Jesus, the Immaculate Lamb of God, whose blood was sprinkled on
the wood of the cross. But there is something else for us to
note. A part of the lamb was to be eaten, and with unleavened
What was that a type of? Was Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain for
our sins, to be eaten, and with unleavened bread? Listen to what
He said some time before this night:  "I am the living bread,
which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he
shall live for ever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh
for the life of the world." [Footnote 22]

    [Footnote 22: St. John vi. 52.]
    [USCCB: St. John vi. 51.]

Now, after the Paschal Supper was finished, Jesus took the
unleavened bread, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to them,
saying--"This is My body which is given for you. Do this for a
commemoration of Me. In like manner the chalice, saying, This is
the chalice, the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed
for you." Here then, is a perfect fulfilment of the Old
Testament. Here is the real Paschal Sacrifice of the New
Testament. The supper-table becomes an altar; Jesus becomes,
under the forms of unleavened bread and wine, the victim, and He
is at the same time the priest. What He did Himself, he tells His
disciples to do. "Do this for a commemoration of Me." Then and
there He ordains and consecrates them to be priests, and gives
them the awful power of sacrificing His body and blood under the
forms of bread and wine.


From that supper-room they go forth to do His words, and to
receive the fulfilment of His promise: "I dispose to you, as My
Father hath disposed to Me, a kingdom: that you may eat and drink
at My table in My kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the
twelve tribes of Israel." [Footnote 23]

    [Footnote 23: St. Luke xxii. 29, 30.]

What was all that for? Why this sacrifice of the body and blood
of Jesus Christ? Why should this be repeated all over the world?
Listen once more: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood
abideth in Me, and I in him." The reason was that his disciples
and all others who should partake of that sacrifice might be
united to Him in the closest manner possible--"should abide in
Him, and He in them." We call that sacred act
Communion--communion with Jesus. That is what it is, brethren.
Our souls and bodies are united in a mysterious manner to the
Divine Person of our dear Lord and Saviour, who became man and
died on the cross for our salvation. He calls us to this
communion, and gives Himself to us as the sweetest pledge of His
Divine Love, as the most precious means of our sanctification, as
a comforting food, as a holy offering by which we may praise and
give thanks to God, as a feast of joy and the kiss of peace to
the forgiven sinner.


If the Cross be, as it is, the measure of sin by which we offend
Jesus, Communion is the measure of the love with which Jesus
loves us. Love is measured by sacrifice. One loves another only a
little if he is content to give up only a little in the other's
favor. His love is perfect if he willingly gives up all. This is
what our Lord does in Holy Communion. He sacrifices all for us,
because He sacrifices Himself. What do I mean by this sacrifice?

He makes Himself so utterly nothing for us, that He does not keep
even His appearance. He hides His divinity, His blessed and
beautiful Person, under the veils of bread and wine, and in that
state He abandons Himself so utterly to our power that we can do
what we will with Him. The life of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
is a life of total self-abnegation. He does not even protect
Himself from ill-treatment, from the contempt and scoffing sneer
of the unbeliever, from the mockery of silly children, nor from
the horrible sacrileges committed against Him by bad Catholics.
He can suffer all that, and does so without a murmur, in order
that He may approach us, and that we may receive Him in such a
manner as shall be the best for our comfort, for our joy, for our
soul's peace. We know by experience, I hope, what a good, happy
communion is.
Is it not the moment of supreme happiness, and of such happiness
that nothing else is like it in the world? Then we cry Lord, now
that Thou art mine and I am Thine, I am all blessed. There is no
chord in the heart that does not vibrate with thrills of love at
the presence of Jesus. He makes us feel then, more than we can
express, how much He loves us; and cold must be the heart that
does not respond with some emotion to the sweetness of His loving

The love of our dear Saviour for men is more ardent, more
constant, more, shall I say, anxious than __our__ love can
ever be; and the reason is, because __His__ love is wholly
unselfish. The life of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament proves it.
He does nothing there apparently for Himself, nor takes any
thought of Himself that we can divine. It is for us that He lives
so. For our love He has given up all.

You may say that it was by dying for us that He proved His love
the best, as He Himself said, "Greater love hath no man than that
he should lay down his life for his friend." Yes; but do you not
see that it is just in the Blessed Sacrament that He brings that
proof home to us? It is a memorial of His passion and death. He
has linked the two together, so that they make only one act. The
sacrifice of the Mass, in which the bread and wine are
consecrated into His body and blood, and the sacrifice of
Calvary, are one essential act.


It was in the night in which He was betrayed that He instituted
it. On __this__ night. What did He say? "This is My body which
is given for you. This is My blood which shall be shed for you.
Do this for a commemoration of Me"--of Me, upon whom the shadows
of death are already falling--of Me, who even now begin to be
sorrowful and sad at heart, knowing that My hour is come--of Me,
who to-morrow will be spit upon, and scourged, and crowned with
thorns, and nailed to a cruel cross, and suffer the bitter
agonies of a horrible death for you, My beloved--you for whom I
came into the world--you for whom I live--you for whom I die. "A
little while I leave you, and a little while I come unto you.
Remember that, when we shall meet again. When I come to you in
Holy Communion, then you will receive One who you know loved you
to the end. I will come to you, and be the surest pledge of what
I have done for you, and how much I have loved you."

Holy Communion is one of the most powerful means of
sanctification granted to us. What shall the presence of the
All-Holy be unable to do? What other light and grace could we
desire both to detect and shun all evil, and to delight in what
is pure and true? Oh! when Jesus comes to the willing heart, and
finds a welcome there, all is easy. No tempest of passion or of
doubt is to be feared when the Master is with us.
My dear brethren, this world is very foolish when it sneers at
the sanctification of the soul, or bids us follow its guidance in
getting rid of the power or shame of sin, and in our strivings
after higher and better things. Little it knows about the true
progress of the soul. Jesus, the Eternal Wisdom, is the sole
teacher. A fervent communion with Him will do what the world
cannot do. It will make us holy. It will make our souls sacred to
God--more sacred to Him than the altar before which we bow, or
the precious vessels upon it that hold His Body and Blood. If you
would confirm that sanctity, come often to the source of
sanctity. Come so often that He may be said to abide with you;
then will you surely live and die a saint.

In the next place, Communion is an act which possesses a peculiar
significance for the forgiven sinner. It should have. It was sin
that made Him die, and Communion is a memorial of His death. But
why is it that a contrite sinner, burdened with the memory of the
many outrages he has committed against Jesus Christ by his bad
life, by his cursing, his profanation of the Holy Name, his
drunkenness and debaucheries, his lies and thefts, his dark
crimes, it may be, that make even his brother men shun him as
they would a poisonous reptile--why is it, I ask, that even such
an one, coming, heartily sorry, to Confession, ready and eager to
amend his life and do better, and so receives absolution, should
have such a strange longing, as all forgiven sinners do have, to
get Communion, and that as soon as possible?
One would think they would rather fear to approach Him, and dread
to be confronted with the awful memorial of their crucified and
so cruelly offended Lord. Not so. Their hearts are Christian
after all; and He draws them to Him closer and closer by the
strong cords of love the moment they turn to Him. True, He
appoints His priest to forgive them in His name. But that does
not satisfy the desire with which He desires to be reconciled
with them in person. "Come to Me," He cries from the altar; "come
to Me now. My poor lost one. Come, get My kiss of peace. Come, we
have been separated too long. I have been watching you. I have
heard you praying. I saw you go into the confessional. I heard
you tell your sins. I saw the tears course down your cheeks. I
felt every throb of your heart. My hand, too, gave you absolution
and full forgiveness for all. You went there one of the devil's
own. Now you are Mine. Come, now, take Me to your heart. We will
be friends again, and I shall have only one reproach to make you;
Oh! why have you stayed so long away?" The forgiven sinner knows
Jesus is saying all this.
Do you wonder that he goes home from confession a happy man; that
he counts the hours until he can come back, and thinks the time
long until he can go up to the Holy Table, and there clasp his
long-forgotten and neglected Lord to his bosom? Oh! the earnest,
upturned face, radiant with joy, which makes the priest's hand
tremble with sympathetic emotion as he gives him the Holy
Sacrament. You have seen friends long separated and divided come
together and make up. You know what a touching scene it is. There
are smiles upon your lips and sparkling tears in your eyes at the
same moment. So it is often here when Jesus meets and makes up
with old hardened sinners. Blessed, a million times blessed, be
the kind and loving heart of Jesus, which, once laid open by the
spear, is never shut to any one who will enter in and abide

Holy Communion is a Feast of Thanksgiving. That is the meaning of
the word Eucharist--thanksgiving. It is one of the names of the
Blessed Sacrament. You remember that when Jesus first broke the
bread on this night He gave thanks. He meant that we also should
use it as a worthy and precious thank-offering for all He has
done for us; for having created us; for having redeemed us; for
having died for us; for His great love in this Holy Sacrament;
for all the benefits with which He has crowned our lives.
Who is there that can approach here without crying out with the
Psalmist, "What shall I render to the Lord for all that He has
rendered to me? I will take the chalice of salvation, and call
upon the name of the Lord." [Footnote 24]

    [Footnote 24: Ps. cxv. 3, 4.]
    [USCCB: Ps. cxv. 12, 13.]

No word of thanks at your Communion--not a grateful thought in
your heart? Oh! how is this? Have you really come back to make up
with Him, or have you come--O horrible thought!--only like Judas
to betray Him? Does He say to you as He said to that lost
disciple, "Friend, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"

Are you, then, half-minded to go back to your old sins? Have you
not, after all, given up the devil and his works? Then I do not
wonder that you are thankless and ungrateful. Then I do not
wonder at that cloud upon your brow, nor at the indifferent
manner in which you presume to receive the Body of your Lord.
Friend, that cloud is the shadow of impending damnation. For says
the apostle, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Body of the
Lord." [Footnote 25]

    [Footnote 25: I Cor. xi. 29.]

Oh! no; let me hope I am mistaken; that it is far otherwise with
you; that if indeed you may have ever done this before, you are
not come to repeat it now.


Now you have utterly cast off all sin and all intention to sin.
Now you wish to belong only to Jesus. Seeing from what a pit of
hell He has delivered you, and knowing to what a height of grace
and glory He has raised you, I feel sure you are only anxious
about one thing, and that is, how you can give expression to the
gratitude of which your heart is so full. Shall it be in long,
devout prayers, full of emotion and tender feeling, telling the
Lord over and over again that you are so thankful for what He has
done for you, for His great condescension and surpassing love?
Well, brethren, you may do that if you like, and I think Jesus
will be pleased with it. But that is not the only test of a
thankful heart. If you can say truly--O my Jesus! my dear Lord! I
love Thee above all; for Thee I love all that Thou hast loved,
even my enemies, and I forgive them all the offences they have
done to me, as freely and fully as Thou hast forgiven me; and now
it is my firm purpose never to commit another sin while I
live--then, dear brethren, I am sure you will praise Him aright.

Let your prayer be such as Blessed Henry Suso made in his
communion. His words are far better than mine, and they will be
more profitable to you. Let me end my discourse with them:


"Lord, if my heart had the love of all hearts, my conscience the
purity of all angels, and my soul the beauty of all souls, so
that by Thy grace I should be worthy of Thee, I wish to receive
Thee to-day so affectionately, and so to bury and sink Thee to
the bottom of my heart and soul, that neither joy nor sorrow,
neither life nor death, could separate me from Thee. Amen."



              Sermon VII.

    The Holy Ghost, The Comforter.

     For The Feast Of Pentecost.
        St. John xiv. 16.

  __"I will ask the Father,
   and He will give you another Comforter,
   that He may abide with you for ever."__

To-day is the Church's grand high festival of the coming of that
other Comforter, who abides for ever with those whom Jesus loves.

We are tempted to wonder why He, who had done so much for the
peace of the world, whose coming was the pledge of every joy to
the human heart, whose words are a healing balm for every wound,
a solace for every misery, and through whom comes all forgiveness
for sins, should not have remained Himself to bless and comfort
His own with His Divine presence.

What other Comforter of our souls would we ask or could we need
than Him? Oh! that He had stayed with us! Had we not all in
having Him? When the Father in His love sent Him to us, did he
not send all He could give? What other Comforter is there in
heaven to give that will be better than He?


Truly, brethren, we would not be able to imagine that anything
more or better could be done for us than that our Blessed Lord
should remain amongst us, had He not Himself said: "It is
expedient for you that I go; for if I do not, the Comforter will
not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." [Footnote

    [Footnote 26: St. John xvi. 7.]

There is a mystery here which we cannot fathom, because we are
not able to fathom the works of God. Our Lord knew that it was
best for Him to depart, and that the Holy Ghost must come, as He
said, to bear testimony of Him, to teach all truth, to fill the
hearts of the faithful with grace, and kindle in them the fire of
Divine Charity, so that they might strive manfully for the faith,
and win the crown of everlasting joy set before them.

It is not in vain that our Lord called the Holy Ghost the
__Comforter__, which signifies the strengthener. We are weak,
vacillating, full of wandering desires, led away from God and
heaven by trifles, easily cast down and disheartened, in constant
danger by temptation, discouraged by doubts, crushed quickly
beneath some present sorrow, and fearful of the coming storms of
adversity and grief; and grace, which it is the office of the
Holy Ghost to bring to us, is the life-giving force which leads
and directs us, which enlightens, strengthens, and comforts us in


It is this which inspires the Holy Church, in the sequence of the
Mass for to-day, to cry

  "Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
   Et emitte coelitus
   Lucis tuae radium.
   Veni, Pater pauperum,
   Veni, dator munerum,
   Veni, lumen cordium.
   Consolator optime,
   Dulcis hospes animae,
   Dulce refrigerium.
   In labore requies,
   In aestu temperies,
   In fletu solatium
   O Lux beatissima,
   Reple cordis intima
   Tuorum fidelium!"

I cannot do better than explain these words of the Holy Church,
which express in so many beautiful forms the comforting grace of
the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Divine Comforter? God the Holy Ghost. Not an
attribute of God, such as His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His
justice or mercy, but the Person of God Himself. God lives in
Himself an eternal, infinite life; a mysterious life to us, in
that He needs no other object besides Himself to give Him life.
God is but one being; and hence the Holy Ghost is the same God as
the Father and the Son; but God possesses, as it were, a
threefold personal life, which, being mutually dependent and
united, is but one. The Father is the Infinite Personal Cause of
His own Divine Life; the Son is the Personal Life of God,
begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost is God personally
enjoying, living the Divine Life, begotten by Himself. Think of
it! This is what we invoke when we cry, __Veni, Sancte
Spiritus!__ This is what was promised by our Lord, when He
said: "I will ask the Father, and He will send you another
Comforter." The Life of God! Life full beyond human imagination,
of ineffable joy, and of peace that passes understanding! Life
full of beauty, sublimity, and majesty! Life of omnipotence and
of glory! "O Lord, my God," exclaims the enraptured Psalmist, in
one of the Psalms of to-day's matins, "Thou art exceedingly
great! Thou hast put on praise and beauty, and art clothed with
light as with a garment." [Footnote 27]

    [Footnote 27: Ps. ciii. 1,2.]
    [USCCB: Ps. civ. 1,2.]


The sun rises in his splendor, and no man may look with
unblenched gaze upon it; but who shall describe the dazzling
brightness of Him who dwells in light inaccessible! And it is a
ray of the light of the Life of God we crave for our darkened
souls, when we say, __Veni, Sancte Spirtus, et emitte coelitus
lucis tuae radium!__ "Come, O Holy Spirit, and send forth upon
us a ray of Thy heavenly light!"

The coming of the Holy Ghost to man is the completion of the
mysterious union between God and us. By the Father Almighty we
are created. Something of the hidden essence of Life is given to
us in creation. "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the
earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man
became a living soul." [Footnote 28]

    [Footnote 28: Gen. ii. 7.]

In creation, we are united to the Life of God the Father. By the
Incarnation of the Word, the Son of God, we became, as St. Peter
declares, "partakers of the Divine nature." Humanity became
united to the Life of God the Son through Jesus Christ; and now
the Life of God the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Love, descends and
fills with Divine grace the hearts of the faithful children
begotten to God through the creation and Incarnation; the union
between God and man is complete, and the love of God to man is


Truly, the Father Almighty was a Comforter, to bring us out of
nothingness, and bestow upon us the boon of being and the joys of
an eternal existence. God the Son was a Comforter in redeeming
us, and regenerating us, and giving us the right, which angels
might envy, to call our Creator our __Father__; but the Holy
Ghost was yet another Comforter, and He would not deny Himself to
those whom the Father had loved to create, whom He had yet loved
more so as to send His only-begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him "might have life, and might have it more
abundantly"; and thus the life of man becomes exalted and deified
by its union with the Eternal, Infinite life of the Triune God.

Look down from the deck of a ship in mid-ocean, and pierce the
mighty depths of waters with a glance. Look up into the blue
vault of heaven, and with unaided vision scan the uttermost
bounds of space, far beyond the dizzy distances where roll the
last stars in their lonely course; but fathom if you can the
height, the depth, the immensity of that Infinite Life of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in which, as in a boundless
and fathomless ocean of comfort, and as in a measureless
firmament of glory and of rapture, the soul of man is swallowed
up and lost in the love of his God.


But who among men belong thus entirely to God? To whom does the
Holy Ghost come in His fulness? Not to all; for I read that our
Lord said that "the world cannot receive Him, because it seeth
Him not, nor knoweth Him." [Footnote 29] To whom, then? Let St.
John answer us: "As many as received Him (Jesus Christ, who is
the Word of God), to them He gave power to become the sons of
God, to them who believe in His name. Who are born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
God." [Footnote 30]

    [Footnote 29: St. John xiv. 17.]

    [Footnote 30: Ibid. i. 12, 13.]

It is not enough, then, to be a creature of God, to be born of
the flesh, or of the will of man. The soul who would receive the
Holy Ghost, to see and have God in His fulness, must be born of
God. "Except a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of God." [Footnote 31] As the Son of God
became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin, so the sons of
men must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost in Baptism, to
become the sons of God. Then, and then only, can we call God
Father. Then, and then only, do we "receive the spirit of
adoption of sons," as St. Paul declares, "whereby we cry, Abba
(Father)." [Footnote 32] We must believe in the Word made flesh,
in Jesus Christ, else that other Comforter will not come unto us;
and hence the Church invokes the Holy Ghost to come down into the
hearts of the __faithful__, or the believers in Jesus Christ.

    [Footnote 31: Ibid. iii. 5.]

    [Footnote 32: Rom. viii. 15.]


"Come, O Holy Spirit! fill the hearts of thy faithful, and kindle
in them the fire of thy love." Alas! for those who do not realize
this great truth. By their rejection of Jesus Christ and the new
birth unto God in Baptism, they remain for ever in the lower
sphere of the simple creature, with no hope of the enrapturing
vision of the Blessed Trinity when their souls shall have passed
beyond this human life, in which the choice of that higher
destiny is given to them. This is the first thought suggested to
us by the opening invocation of the sequence of the Mass.

And now the sentiment of the sequence suddenly changes. Though we
be so exalted by the Divine relationship, though the light of
Heaven's glory is beaming upon our footsteps as we advance
towards it, and our loosened tongues cry out with St. Paul, "O
the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of
God!" [Footnote 33] yet what is our human life now compared with
the Heavenly Life in God! It is a blessed truth to me, some of us
say, and a hope that I would not part with for life; but though
inexhaustible riches, and crowns and harps of gold, are waiting
for me in the kingdom of the Heavenly Father, here I am poor,
here my heart is too sad to sing.

    [Footnote 33: Rom. xi. 33.]


Though there I shall possess wisdom, to which the wisdom of this
world is foolishness, yet here I am ignorant. There shall be no
want, I know; but here I am ever in want. I cry, Give, give, and
my soul is never satisfied. There, in the light of glory, shall
be peace, rest, and victory; but here is toil, strife,
temptation, defeat, and my heart is oft darkened within me, even
to forget my God. Hark what the Holy Church inspires you to say:

  "Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
   Veni, Pater pauperum,
   Veni, dator munerum,
   Veni, lumen cordium!"

  "Come, O Holy Spirit!
   Come, O Father of the poor!
   Come, O giver of every gift!
   Come, O light of every heart!"

Are you poor? Repine not, for Jesus has said it is a blessed
state. God loves you, and has given you poverty, that through it
you may receive the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Money is the
riches of man, but the comforting grace of the Holy Ghost is the
riches of God; and the poor may have that easily if they will.
God has deprived you of the things of this world that you may set
your heart on Him. Wonder not that thousands of Christians have
left all, and vowed themselves to poverty, that they may get the
grace of God easily, like you.
Ask for grace, then, poor man, and your requests shall be quickly
granted. Cry with the Holy Church--__Veni, Pater pauperum!__
Come, O Father of the poor! and the Comforter will come, and pour
out upon you a flood of graces that shall make your heart sing
for joy. Then you will say with the Psalmist, enjoying nothing
here below, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my
cup; it is Thou who wilt restore my inheritance to me." [Footnote

    [Footnote 34: Ps. xv. 5.]
    [USCCB: Ps. xvi. 5.]

Are you in ignorance of what is best for you here and hereafter?
Is it hard for you to think of God? Lift up your heart, and
say--__Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, dator munerum!__ Come, O
Giver of every good and perfect gift!--and you shall receive the
Comforter's gift of Divine Wisdom.

Are you ignorant of the truths of faith, or do they seem
difficult to you and beyond your grasp? Pray--__Veni, dator
munerum__!--and the Comforter will bestow upon you the light of
the gift of understanding.

Are you ignorant of the ways of God's providence? Do you look
around, and see the wicked prospering, the good suffering, the
widow oppressed, and the orphan deserted, while wickedness and
injustice are enthroned in high places, and are you tempted to
doubt if God careth for His own? Pray with the Church--__Veni,
dator munerum!__--and the Comforter will bring you His gift of


Are you wayward in heart, now overzealous and now too lukewarm,
oftentimes grieved and cast down at the ill-success of your
undertakings or your prayers, and disappointment and disgrace
make you feel as if you would almost give up trying to be good?
Cry to the Giver of every good gift, and say--__Veni, Sancte
Spiritus!__ and that Comforter will enlighten you with His gift
of counsel.

Are you hard-hearted, stubborn, and resentful, easy to take
offence? Do the sins and offences of others destroy your peace of
mind, and dry up within you the fountains of mercy and pity for
sinners? Do you wish you could feel more like God, kind and
long-suffering, and less like Satan, watching for the falls of
others, and exulting over them? Oh! cry to the Holy Ghost, and
that Comforter, the Spirit of perfect charity, will soften that
dry heart of yours with the grace of His gift of piety.

Are you timid and shamefaced in your service to God? Are you a
victim to human respect? Are you a Christian who is ashamed of
Christ, and do you draw back from a bold, consistent profession
of your holy faith when the wicked scoff and sneer? Or, are you
one who dares do great things for the God who has done so much
for you?
Does your heart burn to offer Him a glorious and complete
sacrifice, and yet you can not summon up the courage to
accomplish it? Put up your supplication, and say--__Veni, Sancte
Spiritus! Veni, dator munerum!__--and the Comforter, the Divine
Strengthener, will come with His grace, and cover your weak soul
with the armor of His gift of fortitude.

Are you proud? Does the demon of intemperance, of anger, or of
lust creep stealthily into your breast, and leave foul traces of
his presence there? Is the majesty, the power, the holiness of
that God to whom you belong forgotten? Do you tremble no more
when you hear of justice, of chastity, and of the judgment to
come? Pray, for your danger is great. Put up a strong and earnest
cry, and say--__Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, dator
munerum!__--and the Comforter will be with you, bringing the
help you need in your peril, with the grace of His gift of the
fear of God.

These seven good and perfect gifts it is the office of the Holy
Ghost to impart to those who ask for them. We prize the simple
gifts of friendship and affection which serve us in our daily
life for our comfort or protection. Oh! that we but knew the
gifts of God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Friends bestow their
gifts and depart, but the Almighty Friend abideth with His gifts
for ever in the faithful soul.
The gifts of men wear out and tarnish, and the rust and moth
corrupt them; but the gifts of God are as incorruptible and as
unchangeable and as eternally bright and beautiful as His own
divine, unchangeable life.

The sequence now invokes the Holy Ghost as "the Light of every
heart." The soul of the innocent child, of the pure-minded youth
and maiden, of the upright man and pious matron, of the aged
Christian, whose locks are whitened in the service of God, is
bright with this heavenly Light; but even these know their hours
of heaviness of spirit. "Though one may have rejoiced in many
years," as says the Scripture, "he must remember the darksome
time, and the many days, in which the passed things shall be
accused of vanity." [Footnote 35]

    [Footnote 35: Eccles. xi. 8.]

There are times to the merriest soul when the heart is dark. The
hour of sorrow will come sooner or later--sorrow for earthly
losses and disappointments, grief for the misspent years, anguish
for our or others sins and misfortunes; the grave will open at
our feet and rob us, the house will be hung in black, the
mourners will go through the streets, the clods will fall upon
the coffin, and we shall return to the home that has been
despoiled, and cover our faces against the light of day, and sit
in loneliness and gloom with our own darkened hearts.
Speak not to us now, nor smile upon us when our hearts are dark.
Leave us alone. Alone with what? Alone with my own wretchedness
and comfortless thoughts, says the unbeliever. Leave me alone,
says the Christian, with my God. Yes, the Christian has his God
to go to in his darkest hour. He has always abiding with him that
other Comforter, the Light of every heart.

Sinner! now contrite and sorry for the bitter past, who, weeping
with the penitent Psalmist, say, "My heart hath expected reproach
and misery. I looked for one that would grieve together with me,
but there was none; and for one that would comfort me, but I
found none" [Footnote 36]--you have a Comforter to go to. Raise
your drooping head, and cry--__Veni, lumen cordium!__ Come, O
Light of every contrite heart! and the seeds of the grace of
contrition, which He has already planted in your soul, will
spring up, and bear the sweetest fruits of peace and pardon. Go
to thy God, and confess thy sins to Him, and when the Holy Ghost
shall give thee the grace of absolution, thou shalt return
lighter of footstep and comforted in spirit.

    [Footnote 36: Ps. lxviii. 21.]


Christian mourner and sufferer, I know that the brightest days
are obscured by the clouds of sorrow which hang over your
bereaved head, and the nights are oppressed with a thicker
darkness than comes when the sun goes down; but a Light is
shining ever in heaven, behind the dark clouds which hover over
this world--the comforting Light of every sad heart. Call to
Him--__Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, lumen cordium!__--and
though the tears cease not to flow, yet comfort will steal in
upon you, and the spirit of holy resignation to that higher and
better will in which you trust will descend, and abide with you
for ever.

While I am speaking, there is one, now lying in a poor, humble
cabin, whom God has been pleased to afflict with a lingering
illness, which must soon end in death. As she told me of the
long, weary days and sleepless nights she spent, I said to her:
"You must be very lonely." "Not so lonesome," she replied; "for,
after all, God is not far away." On another occasion, I said:
"This world is but short, my poor child; but, short as it is, it
has pleased God to give you many dark days of suffering in it."
"Ay, priest dear," she answered, "it is His blessed will, glory
be to Him. But, then, when once I am on the bright side of the
cloud, it is not much thinking of the dark side I'll be."


Oh! surely you, and all who invoke that Divine Comforter, will be
ready to exclaim, in the words of the sacred song,

  "Consolator optime!
   Dulcis hospes animae,
   Dulce refrigerium!"

O Thou of all consolers the Best! most welcome Guest of every
soul! O sweet Refreshment to the weary heart! no labor for either
earth or heaven tires when Thou art near. No burning heats dry up
the welling springs of grace whilst overshadowed by Thy dove-like
wings. No sorrow wrings the breast to which Thou canst not bring
a solace, and wipe the tears away.

  "In labore requies,
   In aestu temperies,
   In fletu solatium!"

In all that concerns our happiness, here and hereafter, there is
the Holy Ghost, the giver of all happiness, the heavenly
Comforter. Whichever way we turn, there is the God of love
beforehand with us, waiting with His gifts of peace.

Look at the Holy Church herself. Is she not our pride, our glory,
our comfort? Why is she holy? Because the Holy Ghost dwells
within her. If we have any comfort from the security and surety
of our faith, it is because the Holy Ghost keeps that faith pure
and unchangeably true. If we have any comfort in her words of
wisdom, her good instructions, her guidance of our souls in a
holy life, it is because the Holy Ghost keeps her pure in morals.
If we have any comfort in the Sacraments, those blessed means of
grace, it is because the Holy Ghost is the life-giving power in
them all. If we think a good thought, or speak a good word of
prayer, of kindness or advice; if we do a good deed of mercy or
of charity, it is because the Holy Ghost is the Inspirer of them
all. Through His influence all conversions are made, whether of
sinners or of unbelievers. He is the Infinite Goodness, the
Source of all holiness, and there is nothing that is good but
cometh from Him. Nay, more, my brethren. If God the Father was
good to us in creating us, it was because of the love of the Holy
Ghost. If God the Son was good to us in redeeming us and bringing
us to salvation, it was because of the same Holy Spirit; and now
He Himself, God the Holy Ghost, fills up the measure of His
mercies, and God Himself can do no more.

__O Lux beatissima!__ exclaims the Church. O most blessed
Light! fill the depths of the hearts of Thy faithful. Break
forth, Christian soul, into singing, and with rapture praise the
Holy Ghost.

Yes, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove! may we never cease to invoke
Thee in our needs, and praise Thee for the comfort Thou dost
bring us. The words of the Psalmist are upon our lips: "Oh! how
Thou hast multiplied Thy mercies, O my God! The children of men
shall put their trust under the covert of Thy wings.
They shall be inebriated with the plenty of Thy house; and Thou
shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure. For with
Thee is the fount of life; and in Thy light"--O Lux
beatissima!--"we shall see light." [Footnote 37]

    [Footnote 37: Ps. xxxv. 8-10.]



              Sermon VIII.

      The Duty Of Upholding The Pope's
          Temporal Sovereignty.

  (Preached On The Feast of Pentecost,
   1870, When A Collection Was Made
   For The Holy Father.)

          Zach. vi. 13.

  "__He shall bear the glory,
   and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
   and he shall be a Priest upon his throne__."

We celebrate on this day the foundation of the Catholic Church.
For it was on this day that the Holy Ghost came down on the
Apostles to bestow those gifts of grace which make the Catholic
Church a reality. This descent of the Holy Ghost was the
fulfilment of prophecies made by the ancient prophets of the old
law, who, under the figures of Sion and Jerusalem, have described
the Holy Roman Church, and the universal Church under her
obedience, diffused through out the world. In their inspired
visions respecting the building of the second temple, among
others, they have foretold the foundation, the extension, and the
glory of this true and everlasting Church and kingdom of Christ
upon the earth.
As, for instance, the prophet Zacharias, sent by God to build the
walls of Jerusalem and the second temple, has foretold the
institution of the sovereign pontificate of the Bishops of the
Roman Church, the Vicars of Christ, who unite the priestly and
the royal dignity in their persons, in the words of my text. "And
thou shalt take gold and silver: and shalt make crowns, and thou
shalt set them on the head of Jesus the son of Josedec the
high-priest. And thou shalt speak to him, saying: BEHOLD A MAN,
THE ORIENT IS HIS NAME: and under him shall he spring up, and
shall build a temple to the Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to
the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule
is the kingdom of Jesus Christ, called by the prophet THE ORIENT,
which he exercises through his Vicars, the Roman Pontiffs, and
which is a spiritual sovereignty, with a temporal sovereignty
annexed, as is shown by the words, "a priest upon his throne," as
well as by the emblem of the two crowns, one of gold and one of
silver. The prophet also foretold that the new Jerusalem, the
city of this priestly monarch, should be built of a size so great
that it could not be enclosed by walls. "I will be to it a fire
round about: and I will be the glory in the midst thereof.
Jerusalem shall be inhabited without walls, by reason of the
multitude of men." [Footnote 38]

    [Footnote 38: Zach. ii. 4.]
    [USCCB: Zechariah ii. 9.]


This is the Holy Roman Church, considered in its Catholic
extension as the mother and mistress of churches in all parts of
the world, which are bound together in one Holy Catholic Church
by their obedience to the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff. The
Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church includes the whole vast
number of the faithful in her fold in fact, and all mankind in
right. No walls--that is, no bounds short of the limits of the
earth--can be set to her rightful jurisdiction. And beyond this,
the prophet teaches us that her strength does not consist in
fortifications and bulwarks of stone, or, in other words, is not
derived from any material resources, whereas it is spiritual in
its origin and nature. God is a wall of fire round about her, and
her glory in the midst of her. The Roman Church is made glorious
by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, by spiritual might and force, by
truth, grace, and sanctity. These same divine gifts and powers
pervade the whole Catholic Church by virtue of communion with the
See of the Vicar of Christ. The burning light of faith, the
burning fire of charity, are concentrated within, and diffused
all around the Catholic Church, constituting all her glory and
all her power, and by these she illumines and inflames the whole
The Church is really and truly a kingdom, that is, a stable and
perfect society, established upon a permanent constitution, with
a hierarchy having power to make laws and exercise jurisdiction,
and bound together in unity by a monarchical regimen. This
kingdom is spiritual, because it is established for the spiritual
and eternal welfare of men, and because it is founded on ideas
and principles which belong to the supernatural order. That is,
it is founded on faith in Divine revelation, in truths and
doctrines made known by Divine inspiration, and on a right and
authority conferred immediately by Jesus Christ, acting in his
quality of Redeemer and Regenerator of mankind. Moreover, it is
by supernatural and Divine grace, by Divine, life-giving
sacraments, that men are constituted members of the Church and of
the hierarchy. The Church overcomes the minds and hearts of men
by truth and grace, by inward conviction and conversion, and
thus, through both mind and heart, subdues them entirely to
herself. She makes individuals and nations her subjects, by
making them parts of the Church, and thus amenable to her laws.
They are subject to her jurisdiction, as the spiritual kingdom of
God, in everything which relates to doctrine, sacraments, and
morals; and, therefore, in everything, even of the natural and
temporal order, so far as it relates to religion and morality.


It is, therefore, necessary that the Church should be completely
independent of all human authority, and supreme in her own
sphere. Her rights, her property, and the persons of her
hierarchy must be sacred and inviolable. She must have full and
unrestricted liberty to exercise the powers and fulfil the
mission committed to her by her Divine founder, without any
interference of kings, rulers, or the people; of lawless
individuals, or any usurping, tyrannical state. It is most
necessary of all that the Supreme See and Sovereign Ruler of the
Church--that is, the Roman Church and Pontiff--should possess
this perfect liberty and independence. The Pope is the Vicar of
Christ, the supreme judge of all questions of doctrine and
morals. So far as the rights of religion are concerned, he is the
judge of all sovereigns and states, and they owe him obedience.
He is the judge, also, of the justice and morality of laws,
whether national or international, and of all practical cases in
which conscience and the divine or ecclesiastical law are
concerned. For this reason, he ought not to be the subject of any
temporal prince or state. And, in point of fact, Jesus Christ has
given him the rights and privileges of a sovereign.
When tribute was exacted of our Lord, before paying it, He stated
distinctly to his disciples that He Himself was above all human
jurisdiction and law, and insinuated, in an equally unmistakable
manner, that He designed to communicate this privilege to St.
Peter. "And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received
the didrachmas came to Peter, and said to him: Doth not your
Master pay the didrachma? He said: Yes. And when he was come into
the house, Jesus prevented him, saying: What is thy opinion,
Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute or custom?
of their children or of strangers? And he said: Of strangers.
Jesus said to him: Then the children are free. But, that we may
not scandalize them, go thou to the sea, and cast in a hook; and
that fish which shall first come up, take: and when thou hast
opened his mouth, thou shalt find a stater: take that, and give
it to them for me and thee." [Footnote 39]

    [Footnote 39: St. Matt. xvii. 23-26.]
    [USCCB: St. Matt. xvii. 24-27.]

The argument used by our Lord is very plain. The son of a king is
exempt from tribute. "I am the Son of the King of kings, and,
therefore, owe no tribute to the servants of My Father." But, if
our Lord owed no tribute to any temporal ruler, He owed no kind
of obedience or subjection. And as He paid tribute as a free act
of condescension, in order to uphold the authority of kings, so,
for the same reason, He respected that authority in other things.
His emblematic action in providing, miraculously, a coin for the
tribute-money, which He ordered St. Peter to pay in the name of
Christ and for himself also, insinuates in the most significant
manner that St. Peter was to obtain from Him a like privilege
with that which He possessed by natural right as the Son of God.
Christ is a sovereign in His own native right. The Vicar of
Christ is a sovereign by a delegated privilege. The obedience of
Christ to temporal rulers and laws was not due by the obligation
of a subject, but a mere voluntary conformity for the sake of the
common good. So, also, the Vicars of Christ, independent of all
temporal rulers and laws, should be bound to God alone, and not
before men, to subject themselves to the authority of an earthly
sovereign, only so far as times and circumstances might require
them to do so for the well-being of the Church. For several
centuries it was, in fact, necessary for the Popes to submit to
the sovereignty of the Roman emperors, pagan and Christian.
During this period they maintained their spiritual independence
and supremacy chiefly by an incessant conflict with the imperial
power--frequently ended only by their martyrdom. It was partially
secured by the voluntary respect and obedience of the Christian
emperors to the spiritual authority of the Vicar of Christ. But
this was an imperfect state, suited only to the beginnings of the
Church; and therefore the providence of God gave to the Popes the
temporal sovereignty over Rome.
The personal sovereignty and independence of the Pope was given
him by a divine right, and conferred on him immediately by Jesus
Christ. This divine right did not, however, convey an immediate
title to the possession of any temporal kingdom of subjects. It
only gave the right to acquire such a kingdom by human right, and
made this human right, once acquired, sacred and inviolable. The
title of the Popes to the sovereignty of Rome is, therefore, in
its origin human, and based on principles of human law and
justice; but in regard to its inalienable, inviolable sacredness,
it is of divine right. It is not essentially contained in that
sovereignty which Christ gave to St. Peter and his successors,
but it is its natural and necessary consequence. It is annexed to
it for its maintenance and protection. Ever since the civilized
nations became Christian, this sovereignty has been necessary,
and it still continues, and must remain in future, necessary for
the due exercise of the spiritual supremacy of the Roman Church
and Pontiff. The sacredness and inviolability of the temporal
sovereignty of the Pope over the Roman kingdom, and the
necessity, under the present condition of things, of this
sovereignty to the well-being of the Church, have been repeatedly
and solemnly declared by the sovereign pontiffs and by the
Catholic episcopate.
It is impossible for any true and loyal Catholic to think
otherwise; and the events which have occurred and are now
occurring make it clearly and plainly manifest that this judgment
is just. God has given to the Roman Pontiff a temporal throne and
kingdom, a country and a capital, that it might be a Christian
Sion and Jerusalem, a holy and inviolable sanctuary, in which the
Vicar of Christ can possess and exercise in sovereign freedom and
independence all the rights of his spiritual supremacy over the
universal Church.

From what I have thus far said, which is the expression not of my
opinion merely as an individual, but of the common belief of the
whole body of sincere and faithful Catholics throughout the
world, I draw the following evident conclusion: In that combat
which the Holy Father has been so long waging, he has defended
only what God has given him for the spiritual and eternal welfare
of the human race. This determined and glorious conflict with
unprincipled governments and the detestable horde of
revolutionists for the defence of the temporal princedom of the
Roman Pontiff, is a combat between infidelity and faith, hell and
heaven, Satan and Jesus Christ.
The real and final aim of those who have conspired together to
overthrow the temporal sovereignty of the Pope has been and is
the subversion of his spiritual supremacy, and of the freedom and
independence of the Catholic Church; the abolition of the kingdom
of Christ upon the earth; and the emancipation of human society,
together with all the individuals who compose it, from the law of
God. It is true that many of those who have taken part in this
conspiracy have not clearly foreseen or intended this final and
inevitable tendency of their movement toward communism and
atheism. But these are merely the purblind followers and
accomplices, the servants and tools of more clear sighted and
desperate leaders, who make use of them, and who despise them.
All together are but the instruments and agents of one who is far
more clear-sighted and more desperate than any of them, the great
enemy of Jesus Christ, the original author of all rebellion, the
apostate archangel, Lucifer.

The Holy Father and his devoted adherents have been fighting for
the principles of truth, justice, and morality, for the welfare
of society, the laws of God, the cause of religion throughout the
whole world. Rome is the sanctuary where these precious jewels
are treasured. Those good, brave men who have died in defence of
the Holy See have died as martyrs for the faith and law of
Christ. All Catholics owe them reverence and gratitude, and ought
to be stirred up by their glorious example to an equal zeal and
loyalty in the sacred cause of God and the Pope.
All Christians have sworn allegiance to Jesus Christ as their
King. The Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and, therefore, no
Christian can pay allegiance to Jesus Christ without paying
allegiance to the Pope. This allegiance is spiritual, but, by its
very nature as a spiritual allegiance, it binds every Catholic to
support and assist the Pope by all possible and lawful means to
defend and preserve those temporal rights, which are necessary to
him and to the Church, as the condition and the guarantee of the
freedom and well-being of both.

It is also the interest of all Catholics, as well as their duty,
to stand bravely and loyally by the Pope in his struggle against
the enemies of the Church and of religion. What is there so
precious to the Christian as the faith, the holy and divine
religion into which he has been baptized; the Church, which is
his ark of safety; the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, which is
the link between heaven and earth; the Communion of Saints,
through which he remains still united to the faithful departed
whom he once loved on earth; the hope of future glory and
blessedness in the kingdom of God? Health, wealth, pleasure,
honor, science, art, home, country, the whole wide world itself,
are of no value in comparison. But the treasure which each one
possesses in his religion he holds only by virtue of that charity
which binds him to all other members of the Catholic Church, and
to its Head.
Our interests are in common, and if any member, but especially
the Head, be wounded, the whole body and all the other members
must suffer with it. Each one has an interest in the well-being
of the whole Church. We have an interest in the preservation of
the sacred deposit of faith and grace in all nations; in the
salvation of our neighbor, in the spiritual good of our
posterity; in the prosperity of Christendom; in the conversion of
the world; in the triumph of Jesus Christ; in the glory of God.
All these are bound up in the cause of the Holy See, the Roman
Church, the Sovereign Pontiff. It is only by the Catholic Church
that mankind can be saved and that God can be glorified. Peter is
the Rock on which this Church is built. The successors of Peter
hold the golden keys by which hell is shut and heaven opened. The
See of Peter is the centre of unity, light, life, and strength,
for the whole Church throughout the world. It is against the Rock
of Peter that the forces, proceeding from the gates of hell to
make war on religion, morality, society, the spiritual and
temporal well-being of the human race, direct their most fierce
and obstinate assaults. The downfall of this citadel would cause
the destruction of the kingdom of God on earth, and give the
victory to Satan in his warfare against Christ.
"The gates of hell shall never prevail against it." God will
preserve the Roman Church until the end of the world. But He will
not do it altogether by miraculous and supernatural means, or by
His own immediate intervention in human affairs. God ordinarily
works through secondary causes, and by means of human agencies.
He has established the civil princedom of the Roman Pontiff as
the bulwark of his spiritual supremacy, and this bulwark must be
defended by the loyalty and valor of all true Catholics against
the assaults of the gates of hell. If faithless sovereigns and
wicked conspirators despoil the Sovereign Pontiff of his lawful
patrimony, rob the Roman Church of her possessions, and thus
weaken and embarrass the functions of the supreme government of
the Catholic Church, duty and interest alike require of the
faithful to repair this injury, and to succor the distress of the
Mother and Mistress of all churches by their generous and
abundant contributions.

This is the obligation of the poor and of the rich alike, though
not in equal measures. Upon those who are relatively poor, by
comparison with the wealthier class--that is, those who are
dependent upon their own hard labor for a modest livelihood--it
is not necessary to press this obligation in urgent terms. They
make up the great body of the faithful, and by their zeal and
charity it is in a great part that the enterprises of the Church
are sustained.
To those of you, my dear brethren, who belong to this class, what
I have said already will be enough--that is, to the greater part.
For there are some who waste in the service of the devil what
they can save from their earnings, and, therefore, have little or
nothing left to give to God and the Church. Those who give
themselves to excessive drinking--as some unhappily do, to their
own shame and ruin and the scandal of religion--waste their
hard-earned money in the service of the devil. So, also, those
who give their money to unlawful societies, and to foolish,
wicked enterprises, which are forbidden both by the laws of the
Church and of the country, waste it in the devil's service. All
such persons are bad subjects and rebels in the kingdom of God.
Therefore, I exhort them to return to their fidelity and
allegiance, to renounce the service of the devil, and to give a
part of what they have devoted to his wicked works to the holy
cause of God and the Church. Let those, also, who are led away by
foolish vanity to spend more money than is suitable and right
upon the decoration of their person, sacrifice those ornaments
which are not in keeping with the modesty of their state in life,
that they may have more to give to our Lord, and may merit more
precious and lasting jewels, which will never lose their lustre.
Those who serve the meek and lowly Saviour of the world, who put
on the form of a servant for our sakes, in humble labors and
offices, are ennobled by their Christian charity. Imitate,
therefore, the zeal, self-denial, and generous liberality of your
forefathers and brethren in all ages and countries, who, out of
their poverty, have made such great gifts to God and their
fellow-men, and whose alms have swollen from small rills to such
an abundant stream, fertilizing and blessing the earth. It will
come back to you a hundredfold, especially when it is bestowed on
the Vicar of Christ, who is, like his Divine Master, in a special
sense the father of the poor.

The obligations of the rich in respect to giving are far greater
than those of the poor, but not generally so well fulfilled. The
spirit of the Catholic religion ought to inspire them with a
generous and lavish charity. The spirit of God is a princely
spirit; and in the early and middle ages this princely spirit was
manifested in a princely munificence. There are not wanting, in
our own times, many signal instances of this same generous and
noble magnanimity of Christian character in the great and
wealthy. The present needs of the Holy See have called forth, in
numbers of those who are noble or rich, a manifestation of that
same piety, devotion, and liberality which has adorned the
history of happier epochs, and given a purer lustre to so many
illustrious names.
But our age is one of luxury and self-indulgence. The rich are
exposed in an unusual degree to those temptations which have
always made their state so dangerous. Therefore, they need
special admonitions to administer well the goods entrusted to
them by Almighty God, and beware of that excessive love of money,
that pride, selfishness, and extravagance, which are so contrary
to the spirit of Christianity. They need to be stirred up to give
in proportion to their wealth to the sacred cause of God, and not
to stint themselves to the small measure which, for the poor, is
generous and honorable, but which for them is niggardly and
disgraceful. To the rich, therefore, I say that they should
imitate the example of those holy and noble persons who have
consecrated their wealth to God.

You serve an exacting Master. You are placed in a position which
is beset with responsibility and danger. It is a responsible
position, because of the great and important duties and
obligations which are annexed to it; dangerous, because of its
great difficulties and temptations. Those who are favored and
elevated above their fellows by Divine Providence, have not
received these blessings in order that they may make a display of
themselves or indulge their passions, but in order that they may
glorify God and do good to their fellow-men.
If they wish to be safe in the midst of the allurements and
seductions of this world, to derive real and lasting advantage
from their wealth, and to save their souls, they must consecrate
their riches to the service of God. There is but one end for
which one can live in this world which is worthy of a
Christian--the exaltation of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Princes, nobles, men of power and influence through their
talents, learning, station, or wealth, if they do not devote
themselves heart and soul to the advancement and extension of the
Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church, are recreant to their
trust. It is this treason of the great and rich in Catholic
nations to the sacred cause of Christ and His Church which is the
chief cause of irreligion and vice among the people, of rebellion
and revolution, political and social disorder, and which
threatens to produce convulsions still more extensive and
terrible, in which the privileged classes will become the victims
of a conflagration which their own folly and wickedness have
kindled. The throne of the Roman Pontiff is the keystone of the
arch of political and social order, public peace and prosperity,
civilization and good government. Those who have the greatest
stake involved in the social commonwealth have the greatest
interest in maintaining the rights of that august and sacred
It is a disgrace to Christendom that the Sovereign Pontiff of the
Catholic Church should be left to struggle almost alone and
single-handed with enemies who have plotted the overthrow of the
Holy See and of religion. It is shameful that he should be left
to bear the burden of debts and embarrassments which have been
created by those who have unjustly invaded and despoiled the
patrimony of the Church. The majestic figure and attitude of Pius
IX. is a condemnation of the nations of Christendom in this
nineteenth century before the tribunal of conscience and of
Almighty God. Only those can free themselves from this
condemnation who are found on his side, sustaining his cause by
word and deed, proving their loyalty to Christ and His Vicar by
their open renunciation of all sympathy and complicity with the
enemies of the Holy See, and by their zealous and active support
of the spiritual supremacy and temporal princedom of the Roman

By the grace of God, my dear brethren, we will not incur that
condemnation. We are true and faithful members of that Holy
Catholic Church which was founded on the day of Pentecost.
Although remote in the distance of space from the See of Peter,
the Holy Roman Church, we acknowledge with pride and joy that the
Mother and Mistress of Churches is the Mother and Mistress of the
Church of this Western world.
We are the loyal and devoted children of our Holy Father, Pius
IX. His rights we will sustain while life shall last. Our prayers
shall never cease to ascend to heaven for his success and
triumph; our generous contributions to his temporal necessities
shall never fail him. We rely on the unfailing word and almighty
power of our Lord Jesus Christ to give victory and triumph to the
cause of His crowned and anointed Vicar and of His Holy Church;
and we will, therefore, do our duty zealously and faithfully to
promote that victory, that we may share in its glory and reward.



             The Sermon IX.

           The Living God.

        (For Trinity Sunday.)

            Jer. x. 10.

  "__The Lord is the true God:
   He is the living God__."

To-day the Church makes a solemn profession of faith in the
mystery of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. It is true this is a
profound, inscrutable mystery, which we could never have
discovered, and which, even now that it is revealed, we cannot
fully grasp with our reason; but it is not so absolutely
impenetrable that we may not reason about it in so far as to see
a fitness in it, and to recognize its truth and conclude its
necessity from its perfect harmony with the other mysteries of
the Christian faith. We can see how the whole system of religion,
which shows us God as the Creator of the universe, and the
Redeemer and glorifier of the human race, finds its fittest
sanction and most reasonable explanation in its truth; while the
rejection of it would leave the mind oppressed and bewildered
with a thousand difficulties impossible of solution, and of such
a nature as to lead us to abandon the belief in God as a living
personal Being, and seek for their explanation in some theory of
Pantheism or Polytheism, the first of which denies the
personality, and the second the unity, of God.


If I needed an apology for endeavoring to show the reasonableness
of this doctrine, it would be that in our day it is famentably
true that the great body of so-called Christians, who have cast
off the primary authority of revealed truth, and set up the
destructive theory of private judgment in its stead, are fast
losing their faith in this necessary truth of Christianity, and
falling away into Rationalism and Infidelity. It becomes the
Christian preacher, therefore, to raise his voice in defence of
this fundamental doctrine of Christianity. Christianity is true
only because the Trinity is true. Abandon that, and belief in
Christ the incarnate Son of God is impossible.

Let us consider, then, with all due reverence, the mystery of the
being of God, and express the reasons which our own mind can
present to confirm the faith of the Christian, when, signing
himself with the sign of Christ, he adds the solemn declaration
of his belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


First of all, it is proper to state distinctly what the doctrine
of the Trinity is. We believe that there is one infinite, eternal
Being, whose nature is in no way divided, nor can be conceived of
as partly one thing, and partly another thing. We believe that
God, though one in being, is a Trinity in person. This Trinity of
person in God does not separate His being into parts any more
than His attributes, such as His wisdom or His justice, could
divide Him, making His wisdom or justice one thing, and Himself
another thing, which is not wisdom or justice.

It is God who is both wise and just, and His wisdom and justice
have no existence but in Him. So it is God, one Being, who is
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and these three Persons, taken
together, or one by one, are not something else besides the being
of God, but they, each and all, are God. God __is__ the
Trinity. So that the Father cannot regard the Son, or the Holy
Ghost, as some other being--some other God, because the Son and
the Holy Ghost are the same God as the Father is. In being God is
not three, but one. Nor does the fact of there being three
Persons add anything to the being of God, or lessen the absolute
perfection of His unity, by introducing an element of division:
on the contrary, we shall see that a perfect being must exist in
three persons, and a being with only one person, such as we are,
is necessarily an imperfect being.


And when we say that the three Persons are distinct one from the
other, so that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Holy
Ghost, that again in no manner can affect the unity of the Divine
Being, which in all three is identically the same. God, whose
being is one, lives in three persons, and we can address
ourselves to any one of the three separately, to God living as
the Father, to God living as the Son, or to God living as the
Holy Ghost; but the Being who __lives__, either as Father, or
as Son, or as Holy Ghost, is One, and cannot be addressed in any
manner as if He was double or triple. This very reasonable
distinction between a being and the person of that being seems to
be something which many wise and learned men appear either unable
or unwilling to understand.

The being of God lives. He is the living God, and the three
persons are His life. Not that God has three different lives;
that as Father he has one life, and as the Son a second life, and
as the Holy Ghost a third life. There is but one life in God, and
it is the three persons that live that life. This appears to me
to be the most reasonable explanation of the Trinity which our
minds are capable of conceiving, and I will develop this thought
in a few words.


God is a __living__ being. Let us ask ourselves whence does
God receive the life of His Divine Being? Who is the author of
His life? Plainly, from no one but from Himself. He is the first,
and only, and complete cause of His own life. There was nothing
before Him from which He drew His infinite being, nor upon whose
prior existence He depends for life. There is nothing now that
can sustain Him or support His life, neither can there be
anything after Him. He is the eternally living God. He is, then,
the eternal cause of His own life.

What is He as cause, and what is this divine life of His being
which is the effect of that cause? As cause, He is the Father,
the Parent, the Progenitor, the Producer, the Begetter of His own
life. And that life, which is begotten in Himself, is the Son. He
is the eternally living God, and hence the Son is eternally
begotten of the Father. The Person of God who begets His own life
is the Father. The Person who is the Life begotten is the Son;
and is a Person, because it is God who says by the mouth of the
Son--I am the Life begotten.

Both the Father and the Son are equal, because it is the same
Divine Being who is both Father and Son, as we profess in the
Creed--"__consubstantial with the Father__." Both are eternal.
The Father does not exist before the Son, because it is the same
Divine Being which is the life as Son, as well as Giver of life
as the Father. God is the Father, because He begets a Son--His
God is the Son, because He is the Life begotten of the
Father--the Divine Progenitor of the Life of the Eternal Godhead.

God is the eternally living God. He lives the life which He gives
Himself. His life is infinitely perfect, infinitely lovely,
infinitely good. He enjoys the life He has. We possess life, not
like the life of God, it is true, because it is limited in
duration, imperfect in action, subject to change, and incapable
of absolute happiness; but, such as it is, we live it, we enjoy
it. The enjoyment or living of our life proceeds from two
sources. First, from the cause of our life--from that which makes
us live; and, secondly, from the life we possess. And we say--I
enjoy my own life. But, mark it, we cannot say as the Father can
say--I give myself life; nor as the Son of God can say--I am the
life. We can only say--I enjoy the life which is given to me.
Hence we are only one person--the person living, enjoying the
life which is not from ourselves, but from God.

So God enjoys with an infinite beatitude His own life. It is the
Person of the Holy Ghost. He says not--I give myself life. It is
the Person of the Father which says that. He does not say--I am
the life. It is the Person of the Son who says that. But he
says--I am God, living My life; I am God, enjoying My life.
Yet it must be kept in mind that all this is one simultaneous act
in God: the eternal giving of life to Himself; the life itself
eternally springing into being, and the eternal enjoyment or
fruition of life. These are not separate acts, but one, single,
inseparable act of the Triune God. The Being which acts is God,
and God is not one or two of the Trinity, but the Trinity itself.
The principle of the act is attributed to the Person; the act
itself to the God head. Hence, again, the Son does not live a
different life from the Father, or the Holy Ghost a different
life from the other two Persons, but the life they live is all

To the Holy Ghost is attributed the living or enjoyment of life,
as we attribute the living of our own life to our own person;
and, therefore, our person is, in a remarkable manner, an image
of the Holy Ghost. We speak of our __spirit__ as living,
rejoicing, etc., and when we die or yield up the living of our
life, we say--We give up the ghost.

In Me, says the Holy Ghost, are all possible perfections; I
rejoice in them. My life is all good, wherefore I love Myself
with infinite love. My life is all beautiful, wherefore I admire
it, and am well pleased, and take an infinite delight in it. My
life is all holy. I am the supreme object of My own adoration. My
life is all true, wherefore I contemplate all truth with
unspeakable bliss. In My life is no conflict, no change, no
anxiety, doubt, or sorrow, wherefore I am in eternal peace.
My life is all that is or can be, wherefore I seek not for My
happiness outside of My own happy being. Such I am, and such I
live, the Holy Ghost, who proceed from the Father and the Son,
who, together with the Father and the Son, am adored and
glorified, the great I AM, the Ancient of Days, Alpha and Omega,
the Beginning and the End, who was, and who is, and who is to
come, the Almighty, Good, Wise, Just, and True, the eternal,
living God.

Dear brethren, such thoughts, I know, are bewildering, and leave
our poor human intellects stupefied in presence of that Majesty,
the simplest idea of whom is beyond all power of expression.

But we know that God is, and that we know Him, great as He is,
incomprehensible as He is, so far transcending all grasp of our
feeble minds; yet even in His mysterious Being He is no stranger
to us. The doctrine of the Trinity of Persons in God is
wonderful, but it is not a strange doctrine. It is a truth full
of light and consolation. It is a revelation of Him, who is all
in all, that draws us, if I may say so, nearer to Him.

Starting with this view of Him, enlightened with this truth, all
that He has done for us in the world of nature and of grace,
becomes clear, plain, reasonable, and consequent. All the other
mysterious truths of Christianity, as I have said before, suppose
the truth of this, and, indeed, would be unmeaning without it.
The consideration of one or two of these will confirm the view I
have taken of it.


Look at creation. This is fully as incomprehensible to our minds
as the mystery of the Trinity itself. But without a revelation of
the Trinity, it would be more difficult of belief, further away
from our grasp, baffling more utterly all our attempts to form a
reasonable conception of it. What is it? It is that God, who is
all that is or can be, yet can create and has created something
which is not God. It looks like a contradiction. Those who have
rejected the Trinity and yet believe in God so regard it, and are
led to imagine that the created universe and all that is in it
and of it is Divine.

We read that, when God created man, He said, "Let us make man to
our image and likeness." [Footnote 40]

    [Footnote 40: Genesis i. 26]

The creature is, then, an image of the Creator. Creation is not
God, but is an image of God; that is, the being and life of
creatures, analogous to the being and life of God, is not of
themselves, but is a reflected image of God, which we may compare
to the reflected image of ourselves in a mirror. The image we
behold is not our own being, but an imperfect likeness of it. So
the creation which God beholds imaged in His own Divine mind is
not His own Divine being, but an imperfect likeness of it.
And now it is not the image of an abstract being--of an ideal
being--but of a living being. The living God is the Trinity, as I
have shown. The mystery of creation is illuminated by this truth,
as you will see.

We say in the Creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth." He is the Personal Cause, the
Progenitor of all creation. Yet we also say, with St. John: "The
Word was God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was
nothing made that was made." [Footnote 41] And with holy Job:
"The Spirit of the Lord made me, and the breath of the Almighty
gave me life." [Footnote 42] And again, with the Psalmist: "Thou
shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and Thou
shalt renew the face of the earth." [Footnote 43]

    [Footnote 41: St. John i. 1-3.]

    [Footnote 42: Job xxxiii. 4.]

    [Footnote 43: Ps. ciii. 30.]
    [USCCB: Ps. civ. 30.]

We speak of creation, then, either as of the Father, of the Son,
or of the Holy Ghost, because it is of the Trinity--one act of
the Godhead. But we attribute creation properly to the Father,
because He is the Infinite Personal Cause. We attribute it to the
Son, because He is the Infinite Personal Life. "In him was the
life," says St. John, in the next sentence after that in which he
says all things were created by the Word, "and," he adds, "the
life was the light of men."
So chant we in the Credo: __Lumen de lumine__--Light of light.
It is the first word spoken by God at the creation--"__Fiat
lux!__" Admirable conception! Light is, as it were, the Creator
of the image reflected in a mirror, and the Divine Word is the
light--the Creator of the creature who is the image and likeness
of God. St. Paul calls our Lord, who is Man united to the Word,
"the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every
creature. In Him were all things created in heaven, and on earth,
visible, and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and in
Him: and He is before all, and by Him all things consist."
[Footnote 44] Because our Lord was the Word of God, the same
thing is declared of Him, as the Eternal Wisdom, by the inspired
prophet: "I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the
first-born before all creatures." [Footnote 45] The creative act
is, then, an image of the Son of God being divinely begotten by
the Father; and creation in existence is an image of Him who
truly said, "I am the Life."

    [Footnote 44: Coloss. i. 15-17.]

    [Footnote 45: Ecclus. xxiv. 5.]
    [USCCB: Sirach xxiv. 3.]

We attribute the creation to the Holy Ghost when we say in the
Creed, "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and


Recall what I said about the Holy Ghost, that He is God living,
enjoying His Divine life. Creation is the image of God living,
and hence of the Holy Ghost. When man was created, the Sacred
Record says, "God breathed the breath [or spirit] of life into
his face, and man became a living soul." With man, everything
lives and enjoys its being with an enjoyment which is a
reflection of the supreme living beatitude in God. Thus exclaims
the writer of the Book of Wisdom: "The Spirit of the Lord hath
filled the whole earth: and that, which containeth all things,
hath knowledge of the voice." [Footnote 46]

    [Footnote 46: Wisdom i. 7.]

It is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, the Lord and Life-giver,
who, as holy Job declares, "hath adorned the heavens" with their
radiant beauty, who hath filled the whole earth, and vivified it,
so that it is not a dead but a living image of the Eternal,
Omnipotent, Living God. Did I not say well, my brethren, that the
mystery of the Holy Trinity is an illumination of the mystery of

Look, again, at the Mystery of the Incarnation, in which are
included the other Mysteries of the Regeneration and Redemption
of man. We can not understand its manner. We cannot see how it
is, any more than we can understand how the Son is begotten of
the Father, or how the Holy Ghost proceeds from them both.
But the Trinity illuminates that also, and enlightens us to see
and believe it, now that it is revealed to us. Like Creation, it
is an act of the Trinity, because it is God uniting His Divine
Person of the Son to humanity, His created image. This is why our
Lord, as Man as well as God, calls Himself the Son of God. This
is why the Apostle calls us, who are His brethren in the flesh,
sons of God. It is the act of God as the Father. "God so loved
the world, as to give his only-begotten Son." [Footnote 47] It is
an act of God as the Son. In His last discourse, Jesus says to
His disciples: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into
the world: again I leave the world, and go to the Father."
[Footnote 48] It is an act of the Holy Ghost. As we say in the
Creed, and as the Scripture testifies, "He was conceived by the
Holy Ghost."

   [Footnote 47: S. John iii. 16.]

   [Footnote 48: __Ibid__. xvi. 23.]
   [USCCB: John xvi. 28.]

The mystery of the Trinity thus enables us to recognize the
Divinity of the Person of Jesus Christ, as also the sublime
character and object of His Incarnation. It reveals to us the
true destiny of man, and shows us how the very reason of creation
is in God Himself, and is to find its end, its accomplishment and
fruition in God. For, as you see, the Incarnation was an act, of
which the Person of God Himself was the object.
It was God communicating His Divine Life to the creature, and
thus all creatures, through Jesus, who is the First-Born of them
all, are to find their destiny, the end of their creation, in
eternal union with the Divine Life. "I am the Life," said our
Lord, and "because I live, you shall live." [Footnote 49] He and
the Father are one. But, O wonderful revelation! "In that day you
shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."
[Footnote 50]

    [Footnote 49: St. John xiv. 6 and 19.]

    [Footnote 50: __Ibid__. 20.]

"God hath sent His only-begotten Son into the world," says St.
John, "that we may live by Him." [Footnote 51] "Ye are the
temples of the living God," [Footnote 52] exclaims St. Paul. "We
are made partakers of the Divine nature," [Footnote 53] says St.
Peter. And St. Paul again designates us, first, as the "partakers
of Christ," [Footnote 54] and next as the "partakers of the Holy
Ghost." [Footnote 55]

    [Footnote 51: Ep. St. John iv. 9.]

    [Footnote 52: 2 Cor. vi. 16.]

    [Footnote 53: 2 Ep. St. Peter i. 4.]

    [Footnote 54: Heb. iii. 14.]

    [Footnote 55: Heb. vi. 4.]

Once more, our Lord bids us fear not the apparent annihilation of
death. "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in
Me, though he be dead, shall live. And every one that liveth, and
believeth in Me, shall not die for ever." [Footnote 56]

    [Footnote 56: St. John xi., 25, 26.]


How clear, how consistent is every word! As we contemplate the
truth of the Incarnation in the light of the revealed Trinity,
our faith must grow stronger, and the hopes and aspirations of
our hearts be confirmed, and our love wax the deeper; for this
brighter view of God must draw us nearer to Him by sight and by
love. We, too, burn to answer our Lord as did Martha, when He
asked her if she believed His words: "Yea, Lord, I have believed
that Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God, who art come into
this world." [Footnote 57]

    [Footnote 57: St. John xi. 27.]

We set out, my dear brethren, to look at the reasons which
Christian philosophy is able to show us of the reasonableness of
the mysterious doctrine, of which we make acts of profession
oftener, perhaps, than of any other, for we do it every time we
make the sign of the Cross; and in honor of which we are to-day
keeping solemn festival. We have been talking and thinking like
philosophers on this deep mystery, and to us might be very
properly addressed that pertinent remark of Thomas à Kempis:
"What doth it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity,
if thou be wanting in humility, and, consequently, displeasing to
the Trinity? If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the
sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee,
without the love of God and His grace?" [Footnote 58]

    [Footnote 58: __Imit. Christi__, book i. ch. I.]


Truly, a question of no little import to us all. Today the Church
brings us, as it were, face to face with the awful Majesty of the
Ever-Blessed Trinity, the Living God. It is a fearful thought to
be in that Presence, for it must compel us to ask ourselves--Are
we indeed the image and likeness of the Living God? And not only
that, but are we, as we should be, __living images of Him?__
Are our souls living in His Divine grace, or are they standing
before Him to-day dead in sin? To be wise in the knowledge of the
Blessed Trinity is well, but to love Him is better. To be
ignorant of the Blessed Trinity is a misfortune; but to sin
against Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being is a
crime against the Life of God. Wonder not that to lose God is to
lose eternal life, and fall into hell, the eternal death. To sin
is, in the language of St. Paul, to "trample under foot the Son
of God, and offer an affront to the Spirit of Grace." [Footnote
59] Filled with horror at the thought of this crime against the
Holy Trinity, he exclaims: "It is a fearful thing to fall into
the hands of the Living God." [Footnote 60]

    [Footnote 59: Heb. x. 29.]

    [Footnote 60: Heb. x. 31.]

Therefore, brethren, let us adore with profound humility the
Ever-Blessed Trinity, full of gratitude that He has vouchsafed
this revelation of His mysterious Being to us, and thus
enlightened our minds that we may know Him, and love Him, and
serve Him better.
But let us so live, as children of the Heavenly Father, as
brethren of Jesus Christ our Lord, and as sanctified temples of
the Holy Ghost, that, when the veil of this life be rent in
twain, and we shall stand face to face in eternity before the
glorious majesty of God, and in presence of the glittering hosts
of angels who surround His throne, we may be able to present the
record of a life which has truly been an image and likeness of
the Life of the Living God--the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Ghost; to whom be glory now and for ever throughout eternal ages.



              Sermon X

          The Real Presence.

  (For The Feast Of Corpus Christi.)

          St. Matt. i. 23.

  "__They shall call His name Emmanuel,
  which, being interpreted, is God with us__."

We conclude the seasons of Easter and Pentecost with the Feast of
the Blessed Trinity, following in thought our ascended Jesus up
to the right hand of His eternal Father. From Christmas to
Ascension we commemorate the mission (as it is called) of the
Second Person of the Trinity: how the Father sent the Son to
become Incarnate, to accomplish our redemption, and found the
Church. At Pentecost we celebrate the mission of the Third
Person: how the Father and the Son together sent the Holy Ghost,
to become incorporate in the Church, and abide with and in it
through all time. Then, on Trinity Sunday, the Church, in her
turn, bids us remember that, although the Son and the Holy Ghost
were sent down to earth, yet they never left heaven; where they
had dwelt from eternity, and will dwell to eternity,
consubstantial and coequal with the Father.


But the Church is the kingdom of the Incarnation; and the
Incarnation is God made visible. Therefore, as a true spouse,
living only for her Beloved, she does not leave us contemplating
the invisible God, but quickly sets before us the Incarnation
again--the end of her yearly song no less than its beginning. For
the feast of Corpus Christi is to Christmas as the end to the
beginning of a chain of mysteries which centre in the
Incarnation. It is, indeed, a sort of second Christmas--the
sacramental life of our Lord bearing striking resemblance to His
helpless infancy. Again, lest we should forget that our ascended
Lord left behind Him the very body He carried into heaven, the
Church does not let us stand gazing up after Him with the group
on Olivet, but invites us to turn and rejoice with her in the
mystery of His perpetual presence here below--a presence not the
less real because supersensible, nor the less consoling because

I shall speak, then, of the Blessed Sacrament, first, as a
reality; and, secondly, as a consolation.


First, as a reality. You are aware, my dear brethren, that no
article of our faith excites so much the wonder of those who are
not Catholics as the doctrine of the Real Presence. They are
forced to acknowledge, too, that we actually do believe in it,
and take it as a matter of course. Their wonderment is natural
enough: for they judge of it only by the senses; and certainly we
cannot conceive of any mode in which it would have more apparent
__un__reality. If, however, they believe that the Christ who
was born in a stable, lived in obscurity for thirty years, was
rejected by the Jews as "the carpenter's son," and, at last, died
a felon's death, was God, they must allow that the Godhead in Him
had very much apparent unreality, and that its surprising
concealment can only be accounted for by design. Again, if they
are familiar with the Bible, they know that in several passages a
certain adorable secrecy and shyness are ascribed to God as
characteristic of Him. As, for instance, in the Psalms we are
told that He "makes darkness His hiding-place." [Footnote 61] In
Job it is asked, "Peradventure thou wilt comprehend the steps of
God, and find out the Almighty perfectly? He is higher than
heaven, and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than hell, and how
wilt thou know?" [Footnote 62] while Isaias breaks out with the
exclamation: "Truly Thou art a hidden God, Thou God of Israel,
the Saviour!" [Footnote 63]

    [Footnote 61: Ps. xvii. 12.]
    [USCCB: Ps. xviii. 12.]

    [Footnote 62: Job xi. 7.]

    [Footnote 63: Is. xlv. 15.]


As far, then, as the hiddenness of the Real Presence goes, it
ought rather to commend our doctrine than otherwise, and create a
presumption in its favor.

But the radical difficulty with the stranger to the truth lies in
his not understanding the Incarnation and its object. It is
nothing to him, I may say. He professes belief in it, indeed, but
has utterly "lost its meaning" (as dear Father Faber says). Let
him once begin to realize the Incarnation, and he will find he is
taking the road to Rome: he will find that there is such a thing
as a visible Church, and such a person as the Mother of God. To
the Catholic, on the contrary, the Incarnation is everything. It
is the fount of the whole system to which he glories in adhering.
The Church exists for nothing else. The world exists for nothing
else. The world for the Church, the Church for Christ, and Christ
for God.

Now, the object of the Incarnation was briefly this: The
establishment of a visible kingdom, in which the Creator should
receive an adequate worship from the creature, and the creature
be raised to the highest possible union with the Creator. We say,
then, that the Church is this visible kingdom--to wit, an organic
body, of which we are made members by Baptism (an outward and
visible rite); and that the twofold end of worship and union is
accomplished by the perpetual presence of the Incarnation here on
earth, as at once a sacrifice and a sacrament.
A sacrifice in which the creature offers to God a divine
victim--the only adequate worship He can receive, God being
offered to God--and in a created nature. A sacrament, in which
the assumed humanity in Christ, hypostatically united with the
divinity, is made to blend with our humanity in a union so close
as to render us, in turn, "partakers of the divine nature."
[Footnote 64] Moreover, we say that the form of food, in which
our Lord chose to impart to us His deified and deifying humanity,
was (so to speak) the most natural form He could have chosen:
since food becomes one substance with its recipient--the
difference between ordinary food and this divine food being that
the latter, instead of being changed into us, transforms us into

    [Footnote 64: 2 St. Peter i. 4.]

Therefore, to us, who, by the grace of faith, understand the
Incarnation and its object, the doctrine of the Real Presence is
simply the supplement to the doctrine of the Incarnation. The one
is the consequence of the other. We behold in the Church, with
the Blessed Sacrament on her altars, the mystical Mary with the
Divine Babe on her lap: and when we kneel to her, that she may
give Him to us, or bless us with Him, we have no more feeling of
unreality than the Shepherds and the Magi had in the cave at


The feast of Corpus Christi, then, my brethren, is one of a
blessed __reality__: a reality which ought to make us thank
God every day of our lives that we are Catholics. For can
anything be more dismal, more barren, more pointless, than a
Christianity in which the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed
Virgin have no place?

But, secondly, it is a feast of peculiar consolation. It is this
which most endears the Blessed Sacrament to us. For as long as we
are in exile from our true fatherland--the "patria" of the __O
Salutaris__--we shall always be wanting consolation, and prize
it as a foretaste of our rest. This consolation, then, this
foretaste, is abundantly vouchsafed to us in the Blessed
Sacrament. And, first, as regards our Lord Himself. It is
impossible to love Him without sorrowing for all He once
suffered; without grieving at the thought of the world's sins,
and our own share of them, which drenched His soul with anguish,
and steeped His heart in woe. And what pains us most is the
melancholy fact that His love was thrown away on the majority of
mankind, and is so at this hour. It is, therefore, indeed a
consolation that now He dwells on earth without the condition of
suffering--impassible for evermore; that, at last, He "comes
unto His own, and His own __do__ receive Him"; that He is
enthroned King of His elect in the kingdom He so dearly
purchased; that He can now take unmixed "delight" in "being with
the children of men"; that if His Sacramental Presence is still
to the heretic "a stumbling-block," and to the sceptic
"foolishness," yet to millions upon millions, who believe and
love, it is "the power of God and the wisdom of God"; and,
further, that whatever degeneracy may come upon Christ's kingdom,
however widely the "love of many may wax cold," yet, even in the
worst times, "those whom the Father hath given Him" will
unfailingly confess Him their "Emmanuel."


Again, the Blessed Sacrament is full of consolation as regards
ourselves. In the first place, because it is our Emmanuel--God
tabernacled with men; and because the veiled Presence here is an
earnest of the unveiled hereafter. Also, because it is an abiding
"propitiation for our sins," and the perpetual oblation of
infinite merit to obtain us all good things. Again, it is the
food in the strength of which we travel, like Elias, through the
wilderness of this world "unto the mount of God": [Footnote 65]
the medicine of our spiritual diseases, the balm of our sorrows,
and, sweetest thought of all, perhaps, our viaticum in death.

    [Footnote 65: 3 Kings xix. 8.]
    [USCCB: 1 Kings xix. 8.]


If God could thus address His people of old, how much more
meaning have His words for __us__: "Fear not, for I have
redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine.
When thou shalt pass through the waters, I will be with thee, and
the rivers shall not cover thee; ... for I am the Lord thy God,
the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." [Footnote 66]

    [Footnote 66: Is. xliii. 1-3]

But especially ought we to take comfort in the Blessed Sacrament
in times of trial for the Church, such as that which is on us
now. You remember how the ship of Peter was tossed one day on the
lake of Galilee, and the disciples got terrified and awoke their
Master, who was asleep on a pillow. [Footnote 67]

    [Footnote 67: St. Mark iv. 36-38.]

And He rebuked them for their want of faith; because, let wind
and sea rage as they might, could that vessel have perished with
the Lord of the elements on board, though He __was__ "asleep
on a pillow"? Now, that ship is a striking figure of the Church,
with the Blessed Sacrament reposing on her altars. She has ridden
out many a heavy gale as yet, and no matter how many more are in
store for her, weather them she __must__ while she carries the
Almighty Saviour. Instead of losing heart, then, our aspiration
should be that of the sacred poet:

  "Amid the howling wintry sea,
   We are in port if we have Thee."


And even if there should come a time, as many think, when "the
daily sacrifice shall be taken away," when it shall be death to
say Mass or to hear it, and the Church has to "fly into the
wilderness"--if the final persecution thus exceed even those of
the Cæsars, yet Mass __will__ be said and Communion
__will__ be given; and still, at the words of the priest,
"even as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth unto
the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" to His altar;
and still, "wheresoever the Body shall be, there will the eagles
be gathered together." [Footnote 68]

    [Footnote 68: St. Matt. xxiv. 27, 28.]

In conclusion, my dear brethren, let me remind you how apt we
are--we who are so favored with the faith--to neglect the Blessed
Sacrament, to be irreverent in its presence, to show it
ingratitude by receiving it too seldom, and to betray our
forgetfulness of its presence by never coming to visit it. I
would dwell a little on this last point. When we meet with
misfortune or trouble of any kind, we often brood over it at
home, and get impatient and fretful, and make mischief in
consequence to others as well as to ourselves, instead of coming
to tell the Sacred Heart all about it, and draw on an ever-ready
help. So, again, we are constantly complaining how cold the world
is, what a want there is of sympathy, how selfish and thankless
people are.
And what are we but cold and unsympathizing, selfish and
thankless, toward our best Friend? He is here "love's
prisoner"--__our__ prisoner; and how few of us take any notice
of Him as such! Were an earthly dear one in prison for our sake,
we should move heaven and earth to get to him. But here is the
Lover of all lovers, the infinite beauty, accessible all day
long, and how many come to visit Him of those who are __not__
reasonably prevented? I wonder that more of us are not haunted by
those words, "I was in prison, and ye visited Me not." [Footnote

    [Footnote 69: St. Matt. xxv. 43.]

Let us endeavor, then, my brethren, to realize more the treasure
we possess in our Emmanuel, our __Gesù Sacramentato__
(Sacramented Jesus), our __Dios Sagramentado__ (Sacramented
God), as the happy Italian and Spanish languages can word it. If
we could only accustom ourselves to think a little more of the
Blessed Sacrament, it would soon have a perceptible influence on
our lives, on our domestic relations, on our intercourse with
society, on our dealings with the world of business. And this
influence would be anything but oppressive, as some of you may
think. It would exercise a wholesome restraint, indeed, for which
we should often be deeply thankful afterwards, but would give us
a true cheerfulness and an abiding sense of calm. Oh! that all
our words and actions might harmonize in one ceaseless chorus of


  "Blessed and praised every moment
   Be the most holy and most divine Sacrament!"



               Sermon XI.

      St. Paul, The Divine Orator.

      (For The Patronal Festival.)

             2 Cor. xii. 9.

  "__Gladly, therefore,
  will I glory in my infirmities,
  that the power of Christ may dwell in me.__"

The Church and the world are agreed in the estimate formed of St.
Paul as a preacher. By a common judgment, the name of this great
apostle has been inscribed at the head of the illustrious list of
teachers of doctrine. His renown increases as time goes on, and
in our own day his personal character, life, and writings have
been made the subject of an extraordinary amount of discussion,
and have elicited newer and higher eulogiums.

There is this difference, however, in the judgments formed by the
Church and the world of the prince of Christian preachers. The
world's panegyric is illogical, being made in direct
contradiction to its principles and the lessons which it has ever
inculcated as necessary to an orator's success.
The Church alone, by the aid of the supernatural principles of
faith, is able to explain the true secret of the wonderful power
he wielded in life, and the miraculous influence of his words
upon the nations of the earth during the many centuries which
have elapsed since he ceased to speak face to face with men.

What, indeed, are these words of his, "I will glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me," but
foolishness to human wisdom, or, at best, an enigma without
solution! But it is precisely these infirmities of which he
boasts that gave him the power he possessed, and laid the
foundation of all his glory. "When I am weak," he says again,
"then am I powerful." Nonsense to human reason, but divine wisdom
to faith.

If, therefore, I would praise St. Paul, as is befitting on this
day, I must praise hid infirmities--weaknesses which the world
calls misfortunes, and deficiencies upon which none but saints
ever rest their hopes of success.

To judge after the manner of man, we would ordinarily expect to
find in one who is an orator of great power certain personal
qualifications which, in the very nature of things, would serve
to impress and win his audience. We would seek for great polish
in the style, and consummate art in the preparation and delivery
of his discourses.
For one who aims at swaying not only a chance multitude who, for
the moment, comes within the sound of his voice, but at
conquering their souls, and winning them to the point of making
most heroic sacrifices; who not only preaches to his hearers, but
commands them with the air of one having authority, we would look
for the favorable, popular verdict shown in honors and dignities
showered upon him, in credit and influence, and his having
reached that summit where men vie with one another in giving him
place, and when even his enemies fear to gainsay or persecute

Such, indeed, are the orators whom the world crowns with its
laurels. But in all these St. Paul was lacking; and yet, by the
world's own confession, he has surpassed them all. To meditate
upon this mystery of Divine Providence, which makes use of the
weak things of this world to confound the strong, and the foolish
to confound the wise, cannot fail to enlighten and edify us.

We who, like the world in general, have known the great Apostle
chiefly from the sublime picture which his unparalleled success
presents, have doubtless imagined him to be a person of tall and
majestic stature, of pleasing address and magisterial deportment;
being, as we say, a man of fine presence, whose appearance was
alone sufficient to bring forth plaudits from his auditory, and
enforce at once a respectful and submissive hearing.
Such are, indeed, the ideal portraits of him with which we please
ourselves, and such have the masters in art represented him. But
from various allusions he makes in his writings to himself, it is
certain that he was frail in body, of a diffident and submissive
bearing, and altogether wanting in that air of decision and
self-assertion which naturally overawes the multitude.

When he, with his companion apostle, St. Barnabas, healed the
cripple at Lystra, the people imagined them to be gods; but in
calling St. Barnabas, rather than St. Paul, Jupiter, it is
evident that other apostle far surpassed St. Paul in the dignity
and majesty of his person. He can write boldly, he says, but "in
presence is lowly"; [Footnote 70] and, again, he affirms the
truth of what people said of him, that "his bodily presence is
weak, and his speech contemptible;" and the frequent contrasts he
draws between his personal infirmities and his spiritual power
and graces, leave the fact beyond doubt that he was by no means a
man of dignified aspect or commanding mien.

    [Footnote 70: 2 Cor. x. 1]

We might be tempted to think he would feel this infirmity most
keenly as a serious drawback to his success as an orator, as we
ourselves would judge it to be. But no. He will rather glory in
his infirmities as the source of his power; and here at the
outset we get an insight into the whole spirit of this champion
of the Gospel.
From the instant of his miraculous conversion, he appears to be
wholly absorbed in the contemplation of the sublime mystery of
the voluntary abasement of God in concealing the awful majesty
and splendor of his Divine Being in human nature, that what he,
with apostolic hardihood, calls the "foolishness of God" and the
"weakness of God," might subdue and atone for the sinful pride
and vainglory of men. He rejoices, therefore, that he has nothing
in himself which might cause the admiration of men and make void
the humility of Jesus and His cross--a thought which so fills his
soul that he says he knows nothing else besides. The less he has
in himself to glory in, the greater is his consciousness of the
power of the Gospel of the Crucified, which he only lives to
preach. "Power is made perfect in infirmity," was the revelation
made to him when caught up to the third heaven. "I will glory,
therefore," he exclaims, "in my infirmities." I am glad that I am
weak in bodily presence and contemptible in speech. Freed from
this temptation of human vanity, which in turn would divert the
souls of my hearers from the Gospel to the preacher of the
Gospel, the power of Christ will dwell more fully in me. "When I
am weak, then am I powerful."
When I, Paul the Apostle, am nothing, then will the victory of
grace be complete in the souls who, through me, believe and are
converted--when I have nothing in me to please and attract the
sight, men will see only the Cross which I hold up to their gaze.

So fearful was he of attracting to himself any personal
affection, that he avoided baptizing his own converts and
receiving them into the church, lest they should say--I am of
Paul, I belong to the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, instead of
acknowledging, as he was always doing himself, "By the grace of
God, I am what I am--a Christian saved from hell by God's mercy."

Let us look now at his second and greater infirmity--his weakness
as an orator. He had a strange, difficult, shocking, and what he
terms a scandalous doctrine to preach--the redemption of the
world by a crucified God. Surely, this man, who is so lacking in
the external qualifications of an effective speaker, possesses at
least the magic power of sublime eloquence. He who has such a
repulsive truth to announce will seek the most polished phrases,
and cover up the hard things which he has to say by flowers of
rhetoric, and, with studied art in his tones of speech, will
charm his unwilling audience to receive and obey the austere
lessons of the Gospel.
By no means. Such was his infirmity in this respect that his
disciples called his speech contemptible, and he acknowledged the
truth of their judgment, and reminds his beloved Corinthians that
he was "with them in weakness, and in fear, and in much
trembling," adding, "My speech and preaching was not in the
persuasive words of human wisdom." [Footnote 71]

    [Footnote 71: I Cor. ii. 4.]

Not only do we see in the discourses recorded of him the most
simple and unadorned phraseology, but even his writings, full as
they are of the most profound and heavenly doctrine, are the most
inartificial, disconnected, and poor in imagery that could well
be imagined. What a misfortune for an orator! cries the world.
"What a glory is mine infirmity!" responds the Apostle of that
Gospel which is wisdom hidden from the self-sufficient rich and
the insolent magnates of a depraved world, but a revelation of
divine truth to babes. And I, who praise St. Paul, will praise
this infirmity of his as well, knowing that he has not rested his
power as an apostle and his hopes of success upon it in vain.

If St. Paul be unable to use, or disdain in his preaching all
rhetorical flourish and tricks of oratory, if his language is
almost rude in its plainness and harsh from the total absence of
brilliant metaphor or well-rounded period, it is because he has
nothing to preach but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
All those harmonious cadences which flatter the ear, all that
fanciful imagery in which the orators of human doctrine and
science deal so largely and are paid with clapping of hands, are
at best but showy tinsel, unworthy of the Incarnate Wisdom, and a
vain mockery of the lowly speech and simple words of the Man of
Sorrows. What we adore in our Lord's person is His lowliness and
humility, mingled with a certain divine and grand simplicity of
character. So are all His words, plain and simple; spoken
evidently without passionate gesture, and in no loud or clamorous
tone. Simple, because all that is divine is simple; all else is
human pride and sensuality. Such is what I may call the divine
instinct of the Church, the Body of Christ, who also disdains,
when she lifts her voice in prayer or praise, all the effeminate
and meretricious ornaments of harmony or melody, which are the
sources of attraction and admiration in worldly music, and
adheres to what is simple in its enunciation, grave in movement,
and moderate in tone, as one who reveals divine thoughts, and not
the dreamy, overwrought imaginations of impassioned genius, which
minister rather to the senses than to the soul.


Behold, therefore, the great Apostle, inspired by this simplicity
of Divine truth, going out upon his great mission to become the
preacher of that truth to the whole world, but so thoroughly
imbued with the spirit of the meek and humble-hearted Jesus that
he speaks in weakness, in much fear and trembling, yet with such
power that even Greece, that mother of philosophers and orators,
forgets the fervid eloquence of her Plato and Demosthenes to
drink in the divine lessons of the Gospel from the lips of this
unskilled orator; and Rome herself, the mistress of the world, at
his word overthrows her idols and consecrates her majestic
temples of glory to the worship of a Man crucified at Jerusalem.
O glorious Apostle! well mayest thou glory in that which before
men is thy weakness! Thine infirmity is thy power. Without human
power, thou abandonest thyself wholly to the divine power of
Christ, and that--that is more than enough power to conquer the
world. That world in its pride will criticise you, and ridicule
your want of polish and lack of rhetoric, and your trembling,
hesitating gesture, but it will believe in Jesus Christ and Him
crucified whom you preach. Its orators will not follow you as a
model, but they themselves will beat their breasts, and confess
their sins, and do penance at your bidding.

But, powerful as he is in the infirmity of his speech, to fully
convince the world of the truth of his awful and austere
doctrine, he has yet to measure his strength against a more
obstinate and unyielding enemy to the Gospel of the Cross.
The mind of man cannot long blind its sight to the illumination
of the truth; but who shall subdue and win the hardened heart? O
wondrous science of the saints! O divine enigma which no one
shall understand who does not write its solution in his own
blood! "__Regnavit a ligno Deus!__" "God hath reigned from the
wood of the cross." Even God cannot reign in the kingdom of the
hearts of men until He is a crucified man, whose streaming blood
cries aloud and pleads, with the irresistible torrent of the
eloquence of suffering, to heaven. Yes; to heaven must the voice
of suffering preach; for Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but
God alone can give the increase. From God alone can come the
grace that achieves the consummation of the triumph of the truth,
and completes the labor of the Apostle. When was Jesus Christ the
Master of the world? Where was it that He drew all things to
Himself by the cords of Adam and the bands of love? Was it when
He went about doing good, working miracles, preaching His divine
doctrine? Ah no! It was when He was lifted up the pleading
Victim, whose blood and wounds spoke better things than the blood
of Abel, and whose requests could not be denied.
Well does the Church say, "__Regnavit a ligno Deus!__" And
what shall we expect, if even Jesus is only powerful from His
cross, but that His chosen vessel of election, who shall carry
His Gospel to the whole world, first shall say: "I judge myself
to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified"; and that
afterwards his life should prove the truth of his same infirmity
in himself: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross," [Footnote 72]
"I die daily;" that he should be stoned and scourged, and
imprisoned and persecuted, and driven from city to city, "in
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in
perils from the Jews, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in
the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in
perils from false brethren, in labor and painfulness, in long
watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness;" [Footnote 73] and, added to all these sufferings,
those interior trials and bitternesses of spirit with which God
invariably purifies the souls of His elect. He must preach in the
stead of Christ, and therefore he must suffer in His stead.
Wherefore he says: "I fill up in my own flesh those things that
are wanting of the sufferings of Christ." [Footnote 74]

   [Footnote 72: Gal. ii. 19.]

   [Footnote 73: 2 Cor. xi. 26, 27.]

   [Footnote 74: Col. i. 24.]

Nor are we surprised, if the world be, that he should please
himself in this life of constant suffering in what seems to be,
as men judge, failures and losses, and disheartening, conflicting
obstacles to his success.
The world, to whom the cross of Christ is foolishness, would
demand for a preacher who could hope for a success equal to St.
Paul's, invariable good health, a well-nourished body, a mind not
overtaxed, popular applause, and a career of unvarying triumph.
But I, who would praise St. Paul, will praise him for his life of
suffering. When he is weak before men, then is he powerful with
God. God and the whole court of heaven is the audience of the
suffering man; and he who would sway the Divine Mercy must take
counsel from the Crucified Incarnate Wisdom, and find an advocate
in his own blood.

For thirty long years did this "Victim dear to heaven" suffer a
daily death, yet rejoicing always that he was counted worthy to
suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus; and as we follow him about
from country to country, and from city to city, we can number his
successes by the number of his adversities--adversities which had
no power to subdue his exalted soul, or shake for one instant the
constancy of his superhuman love for Christ and His cross. Hark
to that outburst of generous love from his undaunted heart--"Who,
then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or
persecution, or the sword? I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of
God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [Footnote 75]

    [Footnote 75: Rom. viii. 35-39.]


Thirty years of restless labor and fatigues, and now this aged
and worn-out Apostle, to whom we would fain grant some days of
sweet repose for his declining years, must gird up his loins and
prepare to meet the crowning suffering of his life--a martyr's

Rome, imperial Rome, palace of pride and sensuality, thou
boastest that thou art the mistress of the world; that thy name
and power is honored and feared by every nation, and none dare
refuse thee tribute! Proud throne of the world, tremble! for
there is coming into thy gates a conqueror who will humble thee
in the dust, who will take away all thine armor in which thou
trustest, and compel thee to pay tribute to him; and, through
him, constrain thee to bring the world under another Ruler, whose
kingdom shall be without end, and whose principality no man shall
take away. Go, O captain of many victories! __Prospere procede,
et regna__. Rome will laugh at thy apostolic folly, but thou
shalt make her weep. Rome is the world's citadel of error; thou
shalt make her the ever-enduring and infallible chair of truth.
Rome will bring thee into her as a prisoner in chains, but thou
shalt prove her liberator.


Rome will put thee to death, but the voice of thy martyr's blood
shall cry to heaven and give her eternal life. Take glory to
thyself, O holy Paul! and rejoice and exult in thine infirmities,
for now is the hour when thy strength shall be divine!

Though dead, he yet speaketh. From his tomb St. Paul is still the
preacher of the truth to the whole world. Still he announces the
truth as it is in Christ Jesus and Him crucified. Still he
confounds the Gentile philosophies of every age, still draws with
irresistible eloquence the hearts of men to the sacrifices of an
heroic love for Christ. The text of St. Paul living and suffering
was, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." He who to-day approaches
the vast temple beneath whose majestic dome repose the sacred
ashes of the divine preacher, descries upon the base of a lofty
obelisk that confronts the portals of the Apostle's
world-renowned sepulchre the text of St. Paul dead and

  "Ecce crucem Domini!
   Fugite partes adversæ."

  "Behold the Cross of the Lord!
   Let all its adversaries be put to flight."



              Sermon XII.

          The Value Of Faith.

  (For The Feast Of St. Peter's Chains.)

            I Cor. xvi. 13.

  "__Watch ye; stand fast in the faith;
  do manfully, and be strengthened.__"

We celebrate to-day the feast called "St. Peter's Chains," to
commemorate the miraculous union which took place between the two
chains that had bound St. Peter in prison--the one under King
Herod, and the other at Rome, under Nero--when they were brought

Why was St. Peter willing to be bound and imprisoned for the
faith of Christ? Because he esteemed it more precious than
liberty, or any thing else that the world prizes; as he says when
he writes to others suffering for the same cause, "That the trial
of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried in the
fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the
appearing of Jesus Christ." [Footnote 76]

    [Footnote 76: I Ep. St. Peter i. 7.]


What is it that gives to faith its priceless value? Why is it to
be esteemed above liberty, the possession of wealth, more than
friends, parents, the whole world, and even more than life
itself? There are those who do not possess this gift, and who, to
all appearances, are as happy as those who do. Nations have
existed, and now exist, strong and prosperous, and are without
faith. What is there in faith that makes it worthy of being
praised as the "pearl of great price," as "more precious than
fire-refined gold," as something better to be desired by
men--yes, even by nations--than power, rank, or glory? The value
of things may be got at in two ways. The first is by estimating
them according to their real qualities; the second, according to
what men are willing to give or sacrifice for their possession.
Let us consider the value of faith weighed in each of these

There are many things which men prize highly. At certain seasons
they cross the seas, endure fatigue, spend a great deal of time
and money--and what for? To gaze on beautiful scenery, view works
of art, and visit great men and places renowned in history. They
are charmed with the aspect of the mountains, the trees, the
flowers, the streams, the glowing sunsets, and are filled with
admiration. These moments of joy outweigh with them all the
fatigue, expense, and time expended in reaching these favored
spots of nature.
It is the same at home. We leave our busy cities in the summer,
and hasten to our mountains, our lakes, and the sea-shores. And
why do men prize these beautiful scenes? There must be, there is
something valuable in them. Their charms, the joy and pleasure
derived from nature, spring not from ourselves. What attracts us
in creation is the traces of God's beauty, and in contemplating
these the soul is drawn nearer to God, and its joy increased. It
is God in nature who dilates the soul.

Why do men love poetry, music, architecture, painting, and
sculpture? Why have the verses of a Homer, a Dante, a
Shakespeare, been the delight of ages? Why is it that a whole
nation feels honored in the possession of a work from the chisel
of Michael Angelo, or a Madonna of Raphael, or a Cathedral of
Cologne, or in having given birth to Dante or Shakespeare? Why
are our souls enlarged and raised above the senses in listening
to strains of music composed by a Palestrina or a Beethoven or a
Mozart? It is because art is a higher expression of the Divine,
and brings us nearer to the All-True, Holy, and Fair.

We know how men are devoted to science, to philosophy; how they
rival the severest ascetic in their self-denial, in order to
advance knowledge. The astronomer, gazing on the heavens,
discovers new planets, and finds out the great laws which govern
all material things.
The geologist digs deep down into the bowels of the earth, and
reveals to us its secrets and its ages of growth. The philosopher
analyzes thought and the secret folds of the soul, and teaches us
its laws and dignity. Why all these studies--why so much time,
energy, patience, and devotion to the sciences? What sustains
these men of science? What pays them for all their trouble? What
is it that stimulates them in their pursuits? Is it pride and
love of fame, or selfishness? No! it is the hope of the discovery
of unknown truths. What is Truth? God is Truth. Then, at last
account, these men are seeking God.

You perceive that nature, art, science, are only different
channels of arriving at the one source of all truth and
beauty--God; for all truth is in harmony. The truth, whether in
nature or art or science, is derived from the same source, as is
also the truth in our souls or in the sacred Scriptures, which
the Holy Church infallibly teaches. If men sometimes fancy there
is a discrepancy between religion and science, it "arises chiefly
from this, that either the doctrines of faith are not understood
and set forth as the Church holds them, or that the vain devices
and opinions of men are mistaken for the dictates of reason."
[Footnote 77]

    [Footnote 77: Vatican Council.]


This capacity to perceive the true and beautiful in nature, in
art, and from the discoveries of science, belongs to our natural
reason, and cannot be esteemed too highly. It is a sin against
its Giver not to improve it. It is the glory of the Holy Church
that, by her institutions of learning and her encouragement and
fostering care, she has ever been the promoter of science and of
the fine arts.

But what unaided reason can know in nature of God does not
satisfy man. The soul seeks to know more of God, to come nearer
to God. Nature, art, and science do not suffice to satisfy its
aspirations--aspirations after the real, of which nature, art,
and science are only imperfect images or limited conceptions. It
is to meet this want that the divine light of faith is given to
the soul. It gives to the soul a greater knowledge of God, by
revealing to it truths above nature and beyond the utmost reach
of man's reason. The strength which faith imparts brings the soul
nearer to and in closer union with God.

If, therefore, men value things because they give a clearer
knowledge of God, and bring them closer to Him, how much more
ought they to value the light of Christian faith? If men love
nature, art, and science, that is the reason why they should be
Christians, and all the better Christians, because Christianity
brings us nearer to the object of all our seeking than reason,
art, and science can ever possibly do.


Reason brings us to God as His creatures, and makes Him known to
us as Providence. Faith brings us to God as His children, and
leads us to cry to Him with the inmost affections of our hearts,
"Abba, Father!" Reason, by science, art, and philosophy, leads
the mind to the contemplation of God as the great First Cause and
the Archetype of all beauty. But faith makes us participators in
the Divine nature, "heirs of God," and, when perfected by the
light of glory, enables the soul to gaze on the Divine Essence,
fills it with torrents of delight, and bathes it in the sea of
God's own beatitude. Is not everything else as nothing compared
with the Divine light of faith! O inestimable faith! the crown
and glory of human reason! the best of God's gifts to man!

Having learned that faith is inestimable on account of its
inherent qualities, now let us test its value by what men have
done and suffered to keep so great a possession.

Look upon the crucifix above the altar, that tells you what the
God-Man suffered to bestow this gift upon man. His wounds, His
blood, His life, is the price He paid in our stead for it. If a
thing can be estimated by what __men__ pay to suffer or do for
it, look at Calvary, at what God has paid and suffered for it,
and tell us what is comparable with faith.
The Apostles, before they obtained it, were weak and timid; but
when they had received it, they suffered and gloried therein.
They lived, labored, suffered, and in turn laid down their lives
in testimony of the priceless value of that gift of all gifts.

And when the faith was preached in pagan Rome and throughout its
Empire, honors, riches, and all earthly joys and ties were, by
all classes of men, renounced for its sake, so highly did they
prize it. For it Stephen, Ignatius, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia,
Anastasia, and the millions of martyrs, "full of faith," poured
out their blood like water, and cheerfully laid down their lives.

It was the wish to communicate this rare gift to others that
stimulated the zeal of the apostles of the nations--a St. Patrick
in Ireland, a St. Augustine in England, a St. Boniface in
Germany, a St. Francis Xavier in the Indies, and led the saintly
Father Jogues to our land, who was martyred by the Indians on the
banks of the Mohawk. Columbus prized so highly the gift of faith,
that, to bring its light to the benighted savages whom he
supposed existed on this hemisphere, he encountered unknown
dangers, and sustained heroic sufferings, in the enterprise of
its discovery.


Most of you, my dear brethren, are from the old country, and have
come to this strange land--and why? Did your native hills lose
their charms for you? Did the ruins of your land and the graves
of your ancestors awaken in your bosoms no longer any feelings of
attachment and veneration? Have you no affection left for those
parents, those brothers and sisters and kindred, left in the old
home? Have you forgotten the glories of your history, and think
it nothing to lose your nationality, and see your children after
you grow up the sons and daughters of another soil?

Why, then, have you renounced all that men hold so dear? It is
because you loved your faith above every consideration in life.
You counted all else as nothing compared with it, and so that you
might keep it, you were ready to endure suffering, poverty, and
persecutions, and abandon all that men hold dear. This is why you
are here to-day and not in Ireland. Had your forefathers, or you,
chosen to apostatize from your Catholic faith, and deny the truth
of Christ, you could be this moment prosperous and smiling under
the favor of kings and princes in your native country.

Look, again, at the throng of converts who have cast aside
position, wealth, and fame for that holy faith, and in turn
become the heralds of truth to the world. A Prince Gallitzin
chose banishment and the sacrifice of a princely fortune in
becoming a Catholic; and when a priest, hiding even his rank and
name, lived and toiled like an apostle in the wilds of the
Alleghany Mountains.


Look at an Ives, who esteemed it greater to possess the faith in
the humble position of a Catholic layman, than to hold the rank
of Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church without it.
Thousands have given up parents, brothers, and sisters, and
kindred, become poor and outcasts, to gain this pearl of great
price, the gift of faith, thus fulfilling the words of our Lord,
"He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of
Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not
worthy of Me." [Footnote 78]

    [Footnote 78: St. Matt. x. 37.]

O holy faith for which the martyrs died, the missionaries and
saints toiled, and for which houses, lands, parents, and friends,
and all things, are counted as nothing! Do we prize thee, O
divine gift, as these have done? Art thou to us above all price?
If so, then to us the words of the apostle have a true and living

"__Watch ye__," or else this gift will be stolen from you.
Nations to which the Church gave birth, and under whose fostering
care they have grown great, have lost the faith. There is not a
people upon earth to-day, as a nation, to whom the Holy Church
can look for defence against persecution, spoliation, and
downright robbery.
As in the days of paganism, she is surrounded by enemies, and has
no one to rely on but her Divine Founder. Why has the faith been
stolen from the nations? Because it has first been stolen from
the people. It will be stolen from each one of us, unless we keep
a constant watch over ourselves.

Watch over what we read. The literature of our time is filled
with misrepresentations, calumnies, and falsehoods concerning our
holy faith. The press, the most powerful engine of modern times,
is on the side of the enemies of our faith. The very atmosphere
we breathe is poisoned with scepticism, infidelity, and atheism.

"__Stand fast in the faith__." Claim our rights. To claim
these, we shall be charged with stirring up strife. But this must
not disturb us. The same charge was made against our Lord. "He
stirreth up the people," said the envious priests.

As to our rights, they are equal, if not prior, to all others.
Catholics discovered this continent. The feet of Catholics first
trod the native soil of these United States. Catholic
missionaries first reddened it with their blood for the Christian
faith. Catholics fought and bled for our independence, and for
its maintenance. Our right to breathe freely the air of heaven,
to religious liberty, to equal political rights, and equal
privileges with all other American citizens, is indisputable. We
ask for these--no more; and with no less will we be content.


"__Do manfully__." Can men say what they please against our
holy faith, and we not lift up our voices in its defence! It is
our joy that our holy faith can never be opposed except by
ignorance or calumny. Shall all we hold sacred be caricatured,
calumniated, and we sit with folded arms in silence? Shall the
literature of the day undermine the faith of our people, and the
press caricature and falsify it, and we not employ this most
efficient weapon in its defence and for its propagation? A
Catholic invented the printing-press. Catholics first used it.
Are the children of darkness always to be wiser than the children
of light? Shall we not turn their own weapons against them? Let
us be up and do manfully.

"__Be strengthened__." Our faith is our force. Our forefathers
knew how to die for the faith. Can we not live for it? Be strong
in our convictions of its truth! Defend it publicly, politically,
and privately! We cannot suffer by so doing, for no man is
esteemed who is false to his own convictions. Acting thus, we
shall be strengthened, and though every one of the enemies of our
holy faith were ten thousand, we shall be victors. The hour of
death will then be the crowning point of our lives.
We shall be able to say, with our great patron St. Paul, "I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith: and, as to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of
justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that
day." [Footnote 79]

    [Footnote 79: 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.]



               Sermon XIII.

       The Supremacy Of St. Peter.

     (Feast Of Ss. Peter And Paul.)

          St. Matt. xvi. 18.

  "__And I say to thee: That thou art Peter;
  and upon this Rock I will build My Church__."

The shortest, most direct, most conclusive, and most intelligible
method of proving the truth of any system is to find its
principle, its fundamental idea, and to establish the reality and
certainty of this idea. When this is done, the whole system which
is logically and justly built on this foundation is already
proved. In the case of the Christian religion, we have only one
thing to establish, in order to convince all pagans, Mohammedans,
modern Jews, and unbelievers, who are truly rational, of its
divine truth. That one thing is the divine mission of Jesus
Christ. When that is established, there is but one question which
can be reasonably asked--What is the authentic doctrine and law
promulgated by Jesus Christ?
In the same manner, in order to convince all rational men that
the Catholic religion is entirely true, and the real Christianity
established by the Apostles, it is only necessary to prove its
fundamental principle, the Supremacy of St. Peter and his
successors, the Roman Pontiffs. This doctrine, held and
understood in its strict and complete Catholic sense,
distinguishes the Catholic religion from every other. This once
established in the conviction and belief of the mind, the truth
of the whole Catholic religion, in all its parts, follows as a
necessary consequence. It follows that the communion of which the
Pope is the Supreme Head, is the true Church established by Jesus
Christ--One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, incapable of falling
away, and infallible in doctrine. The foundation of this great
and world-wide Church is the Papal Supremacy of St. Peter and his
successors, and its principal portion is the Roman See. If I
prove that this foundation was laid by Jesus Christ, it will be
evident that the Church founded upon it is the true Catholic
Church, and the faith of that Church the true Christian and
Catholic faith. I will then endeavor to prove, first, that Jesus
Christ appointed St. Peter as Prince of the Apostles, His Vicar,
and the Supreme Pastor and Ruler of the Church; and, second, that
the Bishop of Rome is St. Peter's successor.


First, Jesus Christ appointed St. Peter as Prince of the
Apostles, His Vicar, and the Supreme Pastor and Ruler of the
Church. This will be the theme of the present discourse.

The title, Prince of the Apostles, signifies that St. Peter was
the chief and head of the Apostolic college, and enjoyed a
pre-eminence of honor and authority over the other Apostles. This
preeminence of St. Peter is everywhere manifest in the New
Testament. He was not the first called, for St. Andrew was before
him, yet he is always placed first in the catalogue of Apostles,
and is expressly called the "First" by St. Matthew. He generally
appears as the leader and spokesman of the other Apostles, and is
always mentioned as the first of the three Apostles who enjoyed
the peculiar confidence of Jesus Christ, were witnesses of His
transfiguration and agony, and in other ways were preferred
before the rest, the other two being James and John. He was the
first of the apostles who saw the Lord after His resurrection,
and the angel at the sepulchre sent him a special message by
name, "Go, tell the disciples, __and Peter__." He was the
first who pronounced in the Council of the Apostles his judgment
that they must elect another Apostle in the place of Judas--the
first who preached Christ to the Jews, and the first who admitted
the Gentiles to baptism. He pronounced sentence in the Council of
While the other Apostles confined themselves within a particular
circle, he visited the Church everywhere--"__pertransivit
universos__." He approved the writings of St. Paul, and the
same St. Paul went expressly to Jerusalem, as he says, "to see
Peter," commanded by "a revelation"; that he might submit his
gospel to the judgment of the Prince of the Apostles, of St.
James the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the other Apostles there,
in order to obtain the approbation of St. Peter and his
fellow-bishops--"lest perhaps," as he writes to the Galatians, "I
should run, or had run in vain." Perhaps the most striking proof
that St. Peter had a real oversight over the other Apostles, as
the pastor of pastors, is found in the fact that Jesus Christ,
immediately before His passion, committed the other Apostles to
his care, and offered up a special prayer for him, to obtain the
grace necessary for this high trust. He said to all the Apostles,
speaking to St. Peter by name as their representative, "Simon,
Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have __you__ [in the
plural number, designating the eleven], that he may sift you as
wheat. But I have prayed for __thee__ [in the singular
number], that __thy__ faith fail not: and thou being once
converted, confirm thy brethren"--"__Aliquando conversus
confirma fratres tuos__." A remarkable passage! Our Lord, at
this awful moment, disclosed a portion of His divine knowledge,
and gave His Apostles a glimpse into futurity.
He showed them Satan, exerting his utmost to destroy them as the
guardians of the faith, and the custodians of all the hopes of
the human race. He intimates very plainly that but for Him they
would be inevitably swept away. But He had prayed for them, and,
when He prayed with an unconditional will that His prayer should
be heard, its effect must be infallible. His prayer was
especially for St. Peter, that __his__ faith should not fail,
in order that he might confirm his brethren. So that it was by a
special grace conferred on St. Peter, by which he was enabled to
watch over them, that they were to be confirmed in faith. Who
does not see here that pre-eminence of St. Peter over his
colleagues which is expressed by the title, Prince of the
Apostles? [Footnote 80]

    [Footnote 80: Matt. x. 2; Mark iii. 16; Luke vi. 14; John i.
    33-41; Luke xxiv. 34; Acts i. 15 et seq.; ii. 14 __et
    seq__.; x. 34; xv. 7; ix. 32; 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16; Gal. ii.
    2; Luke xxii. 32. __Conf. Perrone Loc. Theol__. De

I cannot sum up all this testimony of Scripture better than in
the grand, concise language of Bossuet, in his sermon on the
__Unity of the Church__:

"Peter appears in every respect as the first: the first to
confess the faith; the first in the manifestation of love; the
first of all the Apostles who saw the Saviour raised from the
dead, as he was the first witness of the fact before all the
people; the first, when it was necessary to fill up the number of
the Apostles; the first who confirmed the faith by a miracle; the
first to convert the Jews; the first to receive the Gentiles; the
first everywhere.
It is impossible for me to mention every proof. Everything
concurs to establish his primacy; yes, even his very faults. When
power is given to several, the exercise of the power by each one
is restricted by the fact that others share it with him. But
power given to a single individual over all, and without
exception, necessarily implies the plenitude of power. ... All
the apostles receive the same power, but not in the same degree,
or with the same extent. Jesus Christ commences by the first, and
in this first one He develops the whole, in order that we may
learn that the ecclesiastical authority which was originally
constituted in the person of one man is not imparted to others,
except on the condition of remaining always subordinate to the
principle from which its unity is derived, and that all those who
shall be charged with its exercise are found to remain
inseparably united to the same chair."

This is enough to show what some of the most eminent Protestant
writers even have acknowledged, that St. Peter was the first, the
chief, the most pre-eminent, the Prince of the Apostles. St.
Peter was also the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Supreme Pastor and
Ruler of the Church.


The title of Vicar of Christ implies that Jesus Christ delegated
to him His own jurisdiction over the Church. A vicar is one who
exercises the authority vested in the principal by delegation
from him. A viceroy or vice-king governs a subordinate kingdom,
__vice regis__, in place of the king. A vicar-general
exercises episcopal jurisdiction, __vice episcopi__, in place
of the bishop, and governs the diocese during his absence. So
when St. Peter is said to have been made by our Lord His Vicar,
it means that he received jurisdiction to govern in the place of
Jesus Christ Himself, Who is by personal and inherent right the
High Priest of the Catholic Church, but Who, being absent from
the earth, must exercise His functions by a substitute. It is
unquestionable that, under the Old Law, the high-priest was the
vice gerent of God, and the supreme head of the Jewish Church. It
is equally unquestionable that, in establishing the New Law,
Christ appointed St. Peter His Vicar and the Supreme Head of the
Christian Church. There is nothing clearer in the New Testament
than this. Jesus Christ distinctly promised to St. Peter that He
would build His Church upon him, and would give him the keys of
the kingdom of heaven; and He actually fulfilled these promises
before He ascended into heaven, by committing His universal flock
to him alone to feed and rule it. This promise is recorded in the
sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel:


"Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter
answered and said: Thou art Christ the Son of the living God. And
Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona:
because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My
Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That them art Peter;
and upon 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. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth,
it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose
on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

In this magnificent promise, Jesus Christ evidently declares His
intention to delegate supreme power to St. Peter, and constitute
him His Vicar in the Christian Church.

This supreme power is signified by a double metaphor, viz., a
__foundation__ and __keys__. First, He says: "Thou art
Peter; and on this rock I will build My Church." In order to
understand the force of this declaration, it is necessary to call
to mind that the name of Peter, which signifies Rock, was not the
proper name of the Apostle. His name was Simon. The Lord gave him
the name of Peter when He first called him to the apostleship, as
an appellation significant of his character and office in the
But it was on the occasion of his noble confession of Christ,
made by a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that He first
announced the full import of that mysterious name. St. Peter
said, "Thou art Christ"--by this title, which signifies the
Anointed One, acknowledging all those divine attributes and
prerogatives which are implied in the character of the Messiah of
God and Redeemer of the world. The Lord replied in a manner
denoting the solemnity of the occasion, and speaking with all the
dignity and authority of a Legislator and a Prophet, by
conferring on St. Peter, in return for the honor which he had
just rendered Him, the highest honor which was in His gift: "Thou
art Peter [i.e., a Rock]: and on this Rock I will build My
Church." The plain and natural sense of these words of Christ is,
that He appoints Peter to occupy a position in the spiritual
edifice of the Church corresponding to that occupied by a
foundation in a material building. The foundation sustains and,
as it were, rules the whole edifice--__i.e.__, by its strength
it keeps the whole building in order, and every portion of it in
its proper place, thus keeping it from crumbling into ruin--and
losing all structural form in a mass of shattered fragments. The
foundation is to the building the principle of its unity, repose,
order, and durability.
Therefore, Peter must be the same to the Church. By him the
Church must be sustained, ruled, kept in order, and prevented
from falling in pieces, and thus losing its organic form. His
authority must be the principle of its unity, strength, and
perpetuity. All the force of its laws must be derived from him,
and all its authority must ultimately rest on him as its final
ground and basis. This is the first portion of our Lord's divine
decree concerning St. Peter. Let us now examine the second.

"I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Among
the principal nations of antiquity, and particularly among the
Hebrews, it was a received usage that the tradition of the keys
denoted the transfer or acknowledgment of supreme power over the
house, citadel, or city to whose gates they belonged. These keys,
when made of precious metal, and, as was often the case, richly
ornamented, were a symbol of power and dignity, and carried only
by kings, princes, and magistrates. In the Hebrew monarchy, the
chief of the royal household, who was a kind of grand chancellor
of the kingdom, or vicar of the king, carried a large key on his
shoulder as a badge of his office.
In the Prophecy of Isaias,[C. xxii.] we read this prediction
concerning Eliacim, son of the high-priest Helcias: "I will place
upon his shoulder the key of the house of David, and he shall
open and there shall be no one who shall shut, and he shall shut
and there shall be no one who shall open, and he shall be on the
throne of glory of his father's house."

This probably signifies that Eliacim should become high-priest in
his father's place; and gives us a plain proof that the keys were
an emblem of the sovereign pontificate in the Jewish Church. In
the Apocalypse of St. John, the same emblem of the keys is used
to designate the sovereign pontificate of Jesus Christ Himself:
"These things saith the Holy One and the True One, He that hath
the key of David; He that openeth, and no man shutteth; shutteth,
and no man openeth." [Footnote 81]

    [Footnote 81: Apoc. iii. 7.]
    [USCCB: Revelation iii. 7.]

Our Lord, as the lineal descendant of David, was the lawful King
of the Jews, and this royal lineage according to earthly and
temporal laws, was typical of His inherent royalty as the Son of
God. Therefore, the key of David, or the outward and visible sign
of David's royalty, is taken as expressive of His supreme
dominion as Lord and Redeemer of the world. When Christ promised
to give the keys of the kingdom of heaven--the keys of His own
kingdom, and the symbols of His own Sovereignty--to St. Peter, He
must have intended to delegate that sovereignty to him, and to
constitute him His Vicar on the earth: To make it still more
plain that He meant this, our Lord made a distinct and express
declaration to this effect, in these words: "And whatsoever thou
shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and
whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also
in heaven."
These words designate the plenitude of power to be conferred on
St. Peter, of making laws, and binding the consciences of all to
observe them, punishing transgressors, abrogating these same laws
and pardoning offenders, and doing whatever else the good of the
Church or its individual members may require, according to the
diversity of times and circumstances. Jesus Christ gives before
hand the seal and warrant of His divine authority to all these
laws. This is what is called, in the language of commerce and
politics, giving __carte blanche__. King Charles V. of Spain,
when he sent commissioners to America to inquire into the abuses
and cruelties perpetrated by the avaricious Spanish colonists
against the Indians, gave them a number of blank sheets already
signed and sealed with the royal sign-manual, that they might
promulgate royal edicts according to their own judgment. In the
same way, Jesus Christ promises that He will give to St. Peter
this unlimited power of exercising jurisdiction, in His name, in
the Catholic Church, with the sealed sign-manual of heaven.
But Jesus Christ not only promised to bestow this power on St.
Peter: He made to him, after His resurrection and before His
ascension, a formal grant of this power, and solemnly delivered
up the care and government of His universal flock into his hands.
This fact is recorded by St. John, in the twenty-first chapter of
his Gospel. Everything about this chapter is mysterious and
sublime in the highest degree, and every word, every
circumstance, points to that high office of the Chief Pastor,
and, after Christ, principal founder of the Christian religion,
which was given to St. Peter.

It was an awful moment; like that mysterious and solemn period of
twilight, when the sun has set, but still leaves some lingering
gleam of his light behind him, before the dark hour of night
draws on, and the milder and fainter radiance of the moon
succeeds to the brightness of day--the brief period of transition
from day to night--from light to darkness--the holiest hour of
the day, when the soul, as it were, naturally withdraws from the
world towards God and heaven. Such a moment had now come in the
progress of time, the twilight of the world. Jesus Christ, the
Light of the world--the Sun of Justice, who had risen in the East
with healing in his beams--had gone down to the grave, had closed
His earthly career, and the world henceforth, so long illuminated
by the presence of the bright Sun of truth and grace, would have
no longer any other light to shine upon it except the reflected
light of the Catholic Church.


The time of night and of the absence of Jesus Christ from His
disciples was approaching. And yet He was not altogether
withdrawn. Still, in His spiritual and glorified body, He
lingered on the earth, coming and going, approaching and
vanishing before His disciples. He was still with them, but no
longer as an inhabitant of the earth, but of heaven. At this time
it was that St. Peter said to his fellow-disciples, "I go
a-fishing." Who can fail to see here, with all the wisest and
holiest interpreters of the Scripture, a mysterious foreshadowing
of that great fishery for the souls of men, in which the
Apostolic net was to draw so many into the Church? It was Peter
who was the leader and chief here, and by his orders the nets
were cast. Suddenly, Jesus Christ appeared standing on the shore,
and commanded them to cast their nets on the right side of the
boat. They did so, and, although they had before this caught
nothing, their net was immediately so filled with large fishes
that they could not draw it. It required the assistance of all
those who were on board several other boats to draw the net. And
yet, when the Lord commanded some of these fishes to be brought,
St. Peter, alone, went and drew the net up on the beach.
Evidently do these emblematic events indicate St. Peter as the
one who should command the ship of the Church, and preside over
the grand fishery of souls, and by his supernatural power should
pull the net by which the elect of God were drawn from the waves
of perdition to the shore of eternal life.

Jesus Christ assembled His disciples around Him on the beach, by
the seaside, and they dined together from the fish which they had
taken. Then, when this mysterious meal, the parting banquet of
Jesus and His disciples, was finished, the Lord exacted from St.
Peter three times a profession of his love, and of his peculiar
love--a love greater than that of the other Apostles. "Simon
Peter, lovest thou Me more than these?" And thrice He gave him
the solemn charge: "Feed My lambs. ... Feed My lambs. ... Feed My
sheep." In these words, Jesus Christ evidently committed not one
or the other portion of His flock, but His entire flock, all His
people, the universal Church throughout the world, to his
pastoral care. The expression, "Feed My lambs--feed My sheep,"
indicates much more than simply to give them their food, namely,
by teaching salutary doctrine. Two different words are used in
the original Greek, [Greek text]; which is literally in Latin,
__Pasce in cibo, agnos meos__--Feed My lambs.
But after using this expression, which indicates the tender and
paternal care of the pastoral office, He uses another expressing
its authority, [Greek text]; this signifies, as a learned
theologian (Perrone) remarks, __pascere cum imperio, pascere
præsidendo__, to feed by ruling, to feed by presiding, or to
feed, rule, and preside over at the same time, as a shepherd over
his flock. This is in accordance with the usage of ancient
writers and the Scriptures.

In Homer and other ancient authors, kings are called shepherds or
pastors, and __poimaine__, feed, signifies to rule or exercise
kingly authority. In these words, then, Jesus Christ constituted
St. Peter chief pastor and supreme ruler over His universal
flock--sheep and lambs together; not merely the lambs, who
represent the laity, but the sheep, those to whom the lambs are
subject, and by whom they are fed--that is, the bishops and
pastors of the Church. It is in vain that the enemies of St.
Peter's chair exert all their ingenuity to escape the force of
these passages. They are too plain and clear to be evaded, and,
after centuries of exertion to heave the Rock of Peter out of the
Scriptures, there it stands, an immovable and unquestionable fact
that the Rock of Peter is the foundation of the Catholic Church,
that the Catholic Church is built on the Rock of Peter, that
Peter received the keys of heaven from Jesus Christ, and was
constituted by Him chief pastor over His universal flock.


And here allow me to remark how singular it is that Protestants
should be ready to build up with out hesitation a vast pyramid of
doctrine on the narrow foundation of a few texts of Scripture,
and at the same time reject the most clear and unequivocal
statements of the New Testament. For example, they will most
positively assert the transfer of the Sabbath from Saturday to
Sunday, because the word Lord's Day is once used, and the
assembling of the faithful on the first day of the week is once
casually mentioned, although nothing is said of their being an
observance of divine obligation intended to supersede the
Sabbath. They will prove the baptism of infants from the
circumcision of Jewish children, and from the fact that some
entire families were baptized, although there is no evidence that
there were any infants in these families. Some will prove
Episcopacy, and others Presbyterianism, and others
Congregationalism, from the Scriptures. And yet they will reject
without hesitation the evidence of the supremacy of Peter, which
is so clear that even some Protestants are forced to admit it in
a partial sense; and the celebrated Jewish infidel Salvador, a
man who perhaps excels all the modern advocates of infidelity in
perspicacity of intellect and ingenuity of reasoning, declares
with out hesitation that the supremacy of the See of St. Peter is
an institution of Jesus Christ, and an essential part of
It is one among many proofs that those who profess to make the
Bible their only rule do not really derive their doctrine from a
candid examination of the Scriptures; but that they receive what
they have been taught by their parents and religious teachers,
and search the Scriptures to find proof and confirmation of these
doctrines. Thus, each one, in stead of conforming his belief to
the Scripture, bends the Scripture into conformity with his
belief. Those parts of the Scripture which are not easily bent
into this conformity remain to him a dead letter, they make no
impression on his mind, and, no matter how clear and plain they
may be, he forgets them if he can, and, if he is forced to pay
attention to them, he explains them away. Thus it has been with
the passages of the New Testament which prove so clearly the
supremacy of St. Peter. There is nothing in the New Testament
more clear, more plain, more explicit, more obvious, than this
supremacy; when these various passages have been once collated,
placed in juxtaposition with each other, carefully examined and
reflected on, and confronted with the great fact of the perpetual
existence of the supremacy of the Roman Pontiffs as the
acknowledged successors of St. Peter. This last topic I have not
directly considered in this discourse, but have reserved it for
Nevertheless, whoever will attentively consider what is involved
in the very idea of St. Peter's supremacy will see at once that
this supremacy must be, by its very nature, perpetual. It was
made the foundation of a perpetual structure; it extended over
all bishops and all the faithful, without any limit of time or
place; it provided for the exercise of that power of the keys
which is necessary in all ages; and it was made the means of
keeping the rulers of the Church in unity of faith under the
severest assaults of Satan, which are undoubtedly those of the
last days of the world.

Our Lord in establishing the supremacy of St. Peter gave to His
Church a constitution and a government. He placed His kingdom
under one monarchical head. He made the sacerdotal hierarchy
subject to one chief. This law must therefore last as long as the
Church lasts, that is, through all time. There is no power which
can change the divine law of our Lord. The supremacy of St. Peter
must therefore be perpetual in his successors. And that these
successors are the Roman Pontiffs I shall proceed to show in my
next discourse.



               Sermon XIV.

           The Roman Pontiffs
       The Successors Of St. Peter.

           St. Matt. xvi. 18.

  "__And I say to thee:
  That thou art Peter;
  and upon this Rock I will build My Church__."

I have proved in a former discourse that St. Peter was
constituted Prince of the Apostles and Vicar of Jesus Christ,
with supreme jurisdiction over the Catholic Church, by the Lord
Himself. It remains now to show that this supremacy was given
also to the successors of St. Peter, and that the Bishops of Rome
are his successors, and consequently inherit his supremacy. That
the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church is the See of St.
Peter, and the Mother and Mistress of Churches; and that the
Bishop of Rome is the Vicar of Christ, and Supreme Visible Head
of the Church--this is what I now undertake to prove.


This is proved, in the first place, by an argument, the force of
which is admitted in all courts of law, viz., the argument of
__prescription__. The Roman Church is in possession of this
claim, and has been from time immemorial. A claim on a certain
property or to a certain right, which is so ancient that the mind
of man runneth not to the contrary, is always admitted as valid
in a law court. Now, it is evident that the Roman Church now
asserts this claim; that she asserted it before the Reformation;
that she asserted it before the Greek schism; and that not a
single Church exists in the world which has not at some time
admitted this claim, and submitted to it. If we go back, then, to
the earlier centuries, we find the Roman Church always in
possession of this supremacy, and we can never find its
beginning. Protestants and others, who wish to prove that it
began after the Apostolic age, can never agree together as to the
epoch of the rise of the Papal power, although all give it a very
early date. Now, I say that, according to all sound principles of
reasoning, the fact that this claim had been made and assented to
from time immemorial is a certain proof that it is just. It could
not have been established so early and so universally without
violence and without resistance, unless it existed under the
Apostles, and was established by them in the infancy of
Just as it would be impossible for the Governor of Virginia to
take peaceable possession of the Presidential chair and govern
the United States, as its acknowledged chief magistrate, without
any election of the people; so it would have been equally
impossible for the Bishop of Rome to make himself peaceably the
supreme ruler of the Catholic Church, unless he were appointed by
St. Peter and the Apostles, according to the divine constitution
of the grand Christian commonwealth, with the knowledge of all
Christians. This argument alone would be perfectly conclusive,
even if the New Testament were altogether lost, or were entirely
silent on the subject.

But when we compare the fact that the Roman Church, under the
name of the See of St. Peter, has always existed as the principal
edifice of a vast agglomeration of smaller but similar edifices,
with the prophecy of Christ that He would build the Church on the
Rock of Peter, the conclusion is irresistible that the fact is
the fulfilment of the prophecy. Here is the prophecy of Christ,
that He would build His Church on Peter as a foundation, and that
the gates of hell should not prevail against it. There is the
Roman Church, evidently built on Peter as its foundation, which
has endured through eighteen centuries, and is now as firm and
immovable as ever. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that
this is the Church built by Christ. The fact corresponds exactly
with the prophecy, and there is no other fact which does,
therefore the fact is the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Let me illustrate this by a comparison. Suppose you describe the
Moro of Havana to some one who has never seen it, and who is
about taking a voyage to Cuba. You tell him it is a castle of
large size and great strength, built on a rock which rises
perpendicularly from the sea, at the mouth of the bay. There is
no castle similar to it: on his route. Now, when this traveller
comes on deck some morning, and sees a castle founded on a rock
at the mouth of a harbor, with a large city in the distance, is
it not evident that this is the Moro? If you sail from the city
of New York, knowing that there is an American ship of the line
anchored in the bay, and you pass a large man-of-war with the
United States flag, and the broad pennant of an admiral flying at
her mast-head, is it not evident that this is the ship in
question? Though a hundred smaller vessels are anchored in the
vicinity, you cannot hesitate a moment, you can not for an
instant imagine that any of these is a man-of-war. The first
glance tells you which is the line-of-battle ship, for there is
only one which makes any pretension to that character, which has
the size, the armament, or in any aspect the appearance of a


Precisely so it is with the Roman Church, which professes to be
the See of Peter, the only one which bases a claim of universal
jurisdiction on the supremacy of Peter; which pretends
[puts forward a claim] to be the ship of Peter, and to bear his
standard. It is unique, unrivalled, and alone in its character
and claims. It must be, then, that Church which the Lord promised
to build on the rock of Peter, with such immovable firmness that
all the assaults of hell could never overthrow it; it must be
that Church which the Lord committed to the guidance of Peter,
and which is destined to outride all the storms of time. But,
although I consider that the claim of the Roman Church to
supremacy is fully proved by this argument from prescription, I
will not confine myself to it, but proceed to adduce some
positive testimonies. The perpetuity of St. Peter's supremacy in
the Church can be clearly proved from Scripture, and the fact
that the Bishops of Rome have inherited this supremacy is not
only evident from the fact that no other supremacy has ever
existed, but from a clear chain of historical facts and
evidences, running back to the very age of the Apostles.

In the first place, it is clear from the Scripture that St.
Peter's supremacy was to continue. A number of the ablest
Protestant writers have proved most conclusively what is called
the Apostolic succession, that is, that Bishops are the
successors of the Apostles, tracing their authority and descent
in an unbroken line of ordination to the Apostles. This is
perfectly evident from the commission of Jesus Christ to the
eleven Apostles:
"Going therefore teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and
behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the
world." [Footnote 82]

    [Footnote 82: Matt. xxviii. 19.]
    [USCCB:       Matt. xxviii. 19-20.]

If the Apostles by virtue of the commission of Jesus Christ were
the perpetual pastors of the Church, and enjoy the perpetual
presence of Jesus Christ to the end of time, the Apostolic office
is by its own nature perpetual in the Church, and the original
Apostles have been succeeded by others. For the same reason, the
office of Prince of Apostles must be perpetual. The plenitude of
the Apostleship was given to St. Peter alone, under the
similitude of the keys, and afterwards the same power was given
to the others by participation and in subordination to him. The
supremacy of the chief enters, then, into the primary
constitution of the Apostolate or Catholic Episcopate, as one of
its essential and component parts, and is therefore perpetual.
Jesus Christ committed the government of His Church to one
supreme Ruler, whose authority was signified by the symbol of the
keys. He committed His flock to one chief Pastor, when He said to
St. Peter: "Feed my lambs--feed my sheep."
If, therefore, the authority of St. Peter expired with his
person, then a total and fundamental change took place after his
death in the constitution and government of the Church, a
supposition not to be admitted for one moment without clear
evidence. But there is none such. On the contrary, our Lord
declares without distinction or limitation that "there shall be
one fold and one shepherd." [Footnote 83]

    [Footnote 83: John x. 16.]

The metaphor of a foundation which He uses to express the
supremacy of St. Peter, of itself shows the perpetuity of his
office. This supremacy is the Rock on which the Church is built.
But a foundation must last as long as the building itself; it can
neither be removed nor changed; therefore the supremacy of Peter
must endure with the Church itself.

Again, the reason for which Christ instituted the Primacy exists
always, and, indeed, demands much more imperatively its
continuance than it did require at first its foundation. The
reason is thus expressed by St. Jerome: "__Ut capite constituto,
schismatis tolleretur occasio__"--"That a head being
constituted, the occasion of schism might be removed." [Footnote

    [Footnote 84: Lib. i. adv. Jov. 26.]


The preservation of unity was the reason for instituting the
primacy. What is the reason of a central government, with a
president at its head, in Washington? The preservation of unity
among the States. It is the unanimous teaching of tradition that
Christ established the Primacy in the Church for the same
reason--the preservation of unity among all particular churches
and Bishops, by their dependence on one Mother Church and one
Chief Bishop. But there was far less necessity to guard against
schism, and to watch over the preservation of unity by means of a
head or central authority, in the days of the Apostles, who were
all saints and inspired, in the days of persecution, of primitive
zeal and piety, and when the members of the Church were few and
her extent limited, than at any subsequent period. The Primacy
was more necessary after the Apostolic age than during it,
therefore it was intended to continue. The supremacy of St. Peter
once admitted--and it is proved by invincible arguments--the
continuance of this power in his successors follows necessarily.
The seat of power is the Roman Church, of which St. Peter was the
founder and first Bishop.

This requires no proof; for the Bishop of Rome is the only one
who claims the power of St. Peter, and his title is admitted by
all those who admit any supremacy in the Church, according to the
universally received tradition.
St. Peter, after having preached in different regions without
having fixed himself in any particular see, for about six years,
founded the Patriarchal See of Antioch, which he governed for
seven years, and then, having consecrated another Bishop in his
place, went to Rome, where he fixed his See permanently, and,
having presided over it for twenty-five years, was crucified, in
the year of our Lord 67 or 68, under Nero; St. Paul being at the
same time beheaded.

The New Testament contains no regular or complete history of the
events of the Apostolic Age, but only some fragmentary annals of
some of the acts of the Apostles, chiefly of St. Paul, and some
allusions in the Epistles.

It is not surprising, therefore, that it gives no account of the
foundation of the Roman Church. St. Paul, however, in his
celebrated Epistle to the Roman Church, already speaks of that
Roman Faith, "__fides Romana__" which has been in every age so
admirable and so renowned throughout the world: "First, I give
thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all, because your
faith is spoken of in the whole world." [Footnote 85] He also
predicts the future greatness of the Roman Church: "And the God
of peace crush Satan under your feet speedily." [Footnote 86]
This is a form of speech which expresses a prediction under the
form of a prayer.

    [Footnote 85: Rom. i. 18.]
    [USCCB:       Rom. i. 8.]

    [Footnote 86: Rom. xvi. 20.]


Now, how was Satan crushed under the feet of the Roman
Christians, if it were not when, by the conversion and victory of
Constantine, this great capital of the world and seat of idolatry
was changed into the capital of Christendom, the heathen temples
transformed into Christian churches, and the cross everywhere
erected in triumph over this proud and pagan city?

There is no event in history better established than the
episcopate and martyrdom of St. Peter at Rome. It is admitted by
a great number of the most learned Protestants. It is proved by
the catalogues of Roman Bishops in ancient writers all tracing
back the succession to St. Peter. It is proved by pictures,
statues, and other ancient monuments; by the pilgrimages which
from ancient times were made to the tomb of the Apostles, of
which even Eusebius in the fourth century makes mention. It is
proved by the testimony of St. Clement, the immediate successor
of St. Peter; St. Ignatius, Papias, St. Dionysius, St. Irenæus,
Caius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Cyprian, Eusebius,
Lactantius, St. Athanasius, St. Epiphanius, Julian the Apostate,
St. Augustine, Palladius, and others. Indeed, any one who would
dispute the fact, that the Bishops of Rome have succeeded each
other in that see in a direct line from St. Peter, might as well
dispute the succession of the Roman emperors from Julius Cæsar,
of the English kings from Alfred, and the kings of France from


The fact that the Bishops of Rome succeeded also to the supremacy
of St. Peter over the whole Catholic Church is also proved by a
crowd of testimonies in every age. It is, as every one will see,
not convenient, in a discourse like the present, to cite and
explain at length those passages from the ancient writers,
especially after having already taxed your patience so severely.
I will therefore cite only a few passages as samples of the
manner in which ancient writers have spoken on this subject, and
leave it to yourselves to read over the testimonies more
carefully in some of the various works where they are collected.

St. Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, who conversed with the immediate
disciples of the apostles, says: "With this Church, on account of
the more powerful principality, it is necessary that every
Church, that is, the faithful who are in every direction, should
agree." [Footnote 87]

    [Footnote 87: L. iii. c. 3. Kenrick.]

Tertullian, about the end of the second century, exclaims: "From
no other cause have heresies arisen and schisms sprung up, except
from a want of obedience to the priest of God, and because they
do not remember that there is one judge for the time being in the
Church, in the place of Christ."
The great and general Council of Nice, A.D. 325, in one of its
canons says: "The Roman Church has always held the Primacy." The
Council of Sardica, in a letter to the Pope, says: "This seems
excellent and most suitable, that the priests of the Lord from
the respective provinces should report to the Head," __i.e.__,
to the See of the Apostle Peter. In the fifth century, all the
Bishops of the province of Aries, in France, in a letter to Pope
Leo, say: "The Holy Roman Church, through the most blessed Peter,
Prince of the Apostles, has the principality above all the
churches of the world." The grand Council of Chalcedon, where six
hundred Bishops were present, mostly from the East, and out of
the limits of the particular patriarchate of Rome, when the
letter of the same Pope Leo was read, defining the faith of two
distinct natures, divine and human, in Christ, exclaimed with one
voice, "Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo." At the beginning
of the sixth century, the Bishop of Patara said to the Emperor
Justinian: "There may be many sovereigns on the earth; but there
is one Pope over all the churches of the universe." Not only
Christian bishops and councils speak in this way of the Roman
See, but emperors, and even pagans, use the same language.
In the year 268, when Paul, Patriarch of Antioch, was condemned
of heresy by a council, the pagan Emperor Aurelian directed that
the Church of Antioch "should be delivered up to those whom the
Bishops of Italy and the Bishop of Rome should appoint." Ammianus
Marcellinus, a pagan writer of the fourth century, affirms that
"the Bishops of the Eternal City enjoy a greater authority." The
Christian Emperor Valentinian, in a decree of the year 455, says:
"The merit of the blessed Peter, who is the Prince of priestly
order, and the dignity of the Roman city, the authority also of
the Synod, strengthened the Primacy of the Apostolic See." These
testimonies extend from the sixth back to the second century,
when the disciples of the Apostles still lived. They are not
merely the testimonies of the Bishops of Rome themselves, or of
those who lived in the vicinity and under the immediate influence
of Rome, but they are collected from Italy, France, Africa, and
the whole Eastern Church, where those great Patriarchs flourished
who afterwards renounced their subjection to Rome. Thus, it is
evident, from these and a host of similar testimonies, that,
during the first six centuries, the Bishops of Rome claimed to
exercise the supremacy in the place of Peter, and that this claim
was universally acknowledged.


This is only a confirmation of the texts of Holy Scripture which
I have already cited, and was foreshadowed when Christ chose the
bark of St. Peter in preference to the rest, to preach from it to
the multitude on the shore. The conversion of nations through
missionaries sent by the Pope is Peter superintending the
miraculous draught of fishes and drawing them upon the shore. His
exercise of authority over patriarchs, bishops, and churches
throughout the world is only the fulfilment of the commission,
"Feed my lambs--feed my sheep"--be the pastor of my entire flock,
the prince of pastors, the Bishop of bishops. The might, the
power of the Roman See, is the fulfilment of the prophecy, "On
this rock I will build My Church." On the foundation of Peter,
the Catholic Church was built, and on this foundation she has
ever rested. To Peter was given the power of the keys, of binding
and of loosing, and his successors have ever exercised this
supreme authority. If time permitted, I should now go on to show
that this authority committed to St. Peter and his successors is
the same, and equally of divine right in his present glorious
successor, Pius IX., as it was in the times of the martyr popes
of the first century; that the Roman Church has never failed,
never fallen, never forfeited her supremacy, and never will while
the world shall stand. But I must waive all further consideration
of the attributes and notes of the Catholic Church. At present, I
will only allude to the concluding part of our Lord's promise to
St. Peter: "The gates of hell shall never prevail against it."
Here there is the divine assurance that this rock on which the
Church is founded shall stand until the end of the world, and the
Church itself, on account of the firmness of its foundation,
shall never be overthrown. The supremacy of his successors shall
endure until the last day, and that Church which is governed by
the successors of St. Peter shall alone continue to be the true
Church. The gates of hell shall wage perpetual warfare against
it, but in vain. That rock shall remain immovable and
impregnable. By this rock it is that Jesus Christ has provided
for the preservation of the Faith and for the salvation of the
world. Let us recall to mind the object which we had before our
minds at the commencement of these discourses: it was to find the
sure and immovable basis of the Catholic faith and religion. And
how admirable is the provision of Almighty God for this purpose!
He has taken the greatest and most powerful city of the earth,
the capital of the world; there He has erected the beacon-light
of faith; there He has fixed the immovable seat of truth; there
He has established the capital city of Christianity, the chief
city of His kingdom on earth; there Jesus Christ has placed His
Vicar, the pastor and teacher of the world, that Rome, once the
mistress of the world by her arms, might rule by her faith as the
Mother and Mistress of churches, and that title of the Eternal
City which was given her by her pagan soothsayers might be
literally fulfilled.
Happy those who, amid the storms and winds of error, doubt, and
ever-changing doctrine, take refuge within the walls of the
Eternal City; whose faith is built not upon the shifting sands of
private judgment, but on the immovable basis of church authority;
whose wanderings terminate, like those of St. Paul, at Rome,
whence, like him, they ascend to that celestial city whose
builder and maker is God! Such a person is like the wise man of
whom our Lord speaks, "that built his house upon a rock, and the
rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon
that house, and it fell not; FOR IT WAS FOUNDED UPON A ROCK."



               Sermon XV.

         The Thought Of Heaven.

   (For The Fourth Sunday After Easter.)

              Heb. iv. 9.

  "__There remaineth therefore a rest
  for the people of God__."

These words, my dear brethren, are full of consolation to each
and every one of us. They lift our minds, at this Paschal season,
far away from this earth, and fix them in contemplation on that
happy land, the heavenly Jerusalem, where there is no sorrow, no
pain, no sickness, and no death; they take us with the beloved
disciple to see that celestial country, the city of God, in which
stands the tree of life, and where flows the river of life,
beside whose banks are seated all those who have died in the
Lord, and rest from their labors. They open those pearly gates to
allow us to behold the white-robed army of saints who stand
before the Lamb; and we can almost hear their anthems of praise,
set to music which no human heart can conceive of, that swell the
courts of heaven with the celestial cry of, "Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come!"


Heaven, a rest after the toils of life are over! Heaven, a reward
for fidelity! Oh! how good is the thought of heaven! How
necessary to many as a stimulant to practise virtue and persevere
therein! What a reward for a good life! The thought of heaven is
very good, for it encourages us when we grow faint-hearted; the
thought of heaven is that which prompts a man to abstain from
evil and do good, because he knows that heaven will be his
reward, and the loss of it his punishment. It is necessary; for,
without this thought being before the mind of a Christian, he
might give way to many an enticing temptation. It is far more
meritorious, also, than the thought of hell, just as an act of
__contrition__ is more meritorious than an act of
__attrition__; for the former excites us to sorrow for having
offended a good God, who has created us for heaven, and the
latter excites us to fear lest we incur the displeasure of an
angry God and be condemned to hell.

The Holy Church, as a stimulant to the doing of good, as an
encouragement to persevere under many difficulties and
temptations, and as a reward for all our labors in saving our
souls, ever keeps the thought of heaven before our minds. In the
Sacraments she does this.
The unregenerate cannot go to heaven because there is an
obstacle--original sin; it is removed in Baptism; and the
strength to fight in the spiritual warfare, is given by
Confirmation. She calls us to Confession, because something is
again between the soul and heaven, and that is mortal sin. She
absolves us, and sends us to Holy Communion, which is a foretaste
of heaven. She anoints the dying, that all the peculiar
temptations which attack them in the hour of death may be
overcome. She unites the "children of the saints" in Matrimony,
because marriage is a sign of the union of heaven and earth, and
gives the grace for the married couple to "marry in the Lord."
She ordains her clergy, that they may teach the way to heaven,
and distribute all those means of grace that are sure to bring us
there. So you perceive that this seems to be the leading thought
in the mind of the Church. It is the development of the response
to the question that every Catholic child can answer--Why did God
create you? "That I might know Him, and love Him, and serve Him
here in this world, and be happy with Him for ever in the next."

The thought of heaven conveys the greatest consolation to those
who in this world find but little happiness, and are surrounded
by peculiar difficulties in the practice of virtue. It gives
strength to those who grow tired of the spiritual life, and who
would give up were it not for this thought. Hence the thought of
heaven is good, necessary, and comforting.


The rest spoken of in the text is not for all, but only for the
people of God. Who are the people of God? They are the people of
God who are baptized and made members of the Catholic Church. But
not all will enter into that rest prepared for them, because
something more is necessary than simply being called by that
name. Baptism is a sacrament which requires those whom it admits
to be __heirs__ of the kingdom of heaven, first to answer
certain questions, and imposes certain obligations to be
observed. The priest says to the person to be baptized, "If thou
wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, love the Lord thy
God with thy whole heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." So you
see that, at this very instant, the thought of heaven is
suggested to the person, and the way to arrive there is clearly
shown. And, before the priest pours the sanctifying water on the
brow of the person, he says, "Dost thou renounce Satan and all
his works and all his pomps?" When the person promises, "Yes, I
do renounce them," then baptism is administered, and that person
takes his place in the world a Christian. But not all who are
called Christians are Christians indeed. Many do not live as
though they believed in a God, a church, a heaven, or a hell.
They follow the inclinations of their own sinful hearts, and live
up to the false maxims of this wicked world. They do not walk
according to the Spirit, but rather according to the flesh. They
look on life as something to be enjoyed to the utmost, and when
that is ended they consider all ended, body and soul. Ah! foolish
people! who thus deceive themselves, who are ashamed of the
religion of Jesus Christ, who violate without any remorse their
baptismal vows, who treat our Lord far worse than did the Jews of
old, for they never professed to believe in Him.

The way, then, to be a Christian in deed as well as in name is to
live up to that "perfect law of liberty," that law which was made
and given by God, which allows the highest kind of freedom to its
observers, and which ennobles and elevates man rather than
degrades him. This law is simple, and, if it is observed, all
things will go on peaceably. As of old, the saying was, "All are
not Israelites that are of Israel," [Footnote 88] so they are not
heirs of the kingdom of heaven who do not walk in the path marked
out for them to follow, or who do not fulfil the conditions
required for a holy life. "Not every one that says to me, Lord,
Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth
the will of My Father who is in heaven." [Footnote 89]

    [Footnote 88: Rom. ix. 6.]

    [Footnote 89: St. Matt. vii. 21.]


And that will is made known to us all by the Catholic Church. She
is the ark that will bring us safe to the haven of rest. She sets
herself in array against the powers of this world and wicked men,
because she is holy; she is born of God, and divine; she does
this by her sacraments, her sacrifices, her laws, instructions,
missions, and her institutions of charity. She teaches men
reverence for holy persons and holy things; she teaches them to
venerate the name of their Creator; she tells them to sanctify
Sundays and holydays; she enjoins, under pain of eternal
death--which includes the loss of heaven--honesty, justice,
purity, sobriety, and all the other requirements of the
decalogue. She is not conformed to this world or its ways. The
world says: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." "If your
enemy strike you, strike him back; if he calumniate you, never
forget it; if he do you an act of injustice, if he slander you,
treasure it up, do not forgive, but pay him back some day with
interest." The world says: "Eat and drink, grow rich in this
world's goods, have a gay time, make the most of life: heaven is
far away, and you will have opportunity to prepare when the time
comes for it." "Make plenty of money," says the world, "no matter
whether the business be just or lawful, you may get to heaven
after all; others worse than you have had time to do penance
before they died."
But the Holy Church says differently. She enjoins charity,
meekness, poverty of spirit, preparation for death. "If thine
enemy hunger, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink."
[Footnote 90] "If a man strike thee on one cheek, turn to him the
other." [Footnote 91] "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs
is the kingdom of heaven." [Footnote 92] These are her lessons of
heavenly doctrine, which all must learn and put in practice, if
they would obtain entrance into the kingdom of heaven. And every
day she writes in letters of fire before our eyes: "In the hour
that ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."

    [Footnote 90: Rom. xii. 20.]

    [Footnote 91: St. Matt. v. 39.]

    [Footnote 92: St. Matt. v. 3.]

So we perceive that man needs to pay attention to that immortal
soul of his just as much as to attend to his mortal body. And a
man cannot attend to a business of importance in a short time, of
which he has been ignorant all his life, and in which he has had
no practice, and therefore very little experience. It would be a
difficult task, indeed, for a man who has been nothing but a
salesman in a store all his life, to become a scientific
artificer, or to undertake to discharge the duties that devolve
on a professor of the higher branches of science, because he has
never given any thought or study to these things. So will it be
very, very difficult for that Catholic to properly prepare for
heaven after long years of neglect of the means to obtain it,
and, because he has never thought about it, it will be hardly
possible for him in his last hours to make proper preparation for
The mind will be so absorbed with the past, and so perplexed as
to the future, that he cannot give his famishing soul the
nourishment that it needs. The death-bed scenes of worldly-minded
men certify to the truth of this. They have viewed heaven as
something to be thought about in the future, and intended to
prepare for it, but all of a sudden sickness prostrates them, and
when told they will never hear another sermon, never attend
another Mass, the trouble begins not so much about their soul as
about their body and the business of this world.

But thanks be to God! while there are those who are walking on
that broad and pleasant way which many, too many, find, and which
leads to destruction, there are many faithful Christians who,
even though some of them have but little or no comfort here, are
looking forward, and hastening unto that reward which awaits
those who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven, to them, is no
gloomy word. Heaven does not make them regret leaving this world,
with all its fleeting joys, for heaven is a most interesting and
important subject to them. Heaven is the reason of all their
hopes, the reward of all their prayers, fastings, and other good
To the pious and virtuous, the thought of heaven is the polar
star which guides them to their eternal happiness, To the poor
and desolate, it opens the celestial country where flow milk and
honey, and where the foot is never weary, where all tears are
wiped away from their eyes, and where the sweetest consolation of
an eternal reward awaits them. The thought of heaven brings the
young to give their hearts early to God. It leads them to their
first Confession, and encourages them to make their first
Communion, so that, by keeping God's holy laws, they may receive
the crown of life. The thought of heaven helps the old, who are
weak and trembling, for they receive new strength when they see
the evening of their lives, and view the dawning of that happy
land, the Canaan of the children of God.

How comforting, indeed, then, is the thought of heaven, for then
all our hopes will be realized, and our love made perfect! O you
who thirst for human love! your desire is to love and be loved.
Love is the object of your life, the light of your hearts; but
know this: that no earthly love will ever bring you perfect
happiness; and if it should so happen that you should find a joy
in possessing some creature, tell me, how long will that joy
last? Not long, for God sends death, and He takes away the
objects of your love, the idol that you have placed between Him
and your soul.
A mother finds the greatest joy in beholding the child to whom
she gave birth. It may be her first-born; she loves it, caresses
it; she spends days in caring for it, and, if at night she
awakes, the first thought is of that child: but some day death
comes in, and lays his icy hand on the life-strings of its tiny
heart, and severs the link that binds it to this life, and it is
no more. But the Christian mother willingly gives it up to God,
for she knows that in heaven she will again embrace that child.
It is the thought of heaven that brings her consolation. A friend
has found unspeakable joy in living with his companion, they were
boys together, they grew up together, they received the Holy
Sacraments together, and, just as they suppose their happiness to
be complete, death terminates the existence of one, and the other
is left alone to learn the lesson all men must, sooner or later,
learn--all persons, all things are perishable, and "the heart,"
as St. Augustine says, "is at unrest until it rests in God." No
matter what bereavement comes over the Christian, he is animated
with hope, and his joy speedily returns when he thinks of heaven
as a place where he will meet and recognize his loved ones. Here,
my dear brethren, we grow tired of the most costly and beautiful
objects. It is impossible for us to keep up our enthusiasm for a
long time, as we are creatures of change and chance.
In heaven, we shall never grow tired; for, in beholding Almighty
God and all the glories of heaven, we shall be so entranced that
nothing will be able to distract us. In heaven, time will pass
away unnoticed, and its events will have no power to weary us.

There is a beautiful legend told of a Franciscan friar, which
will illustrate my meaning better. He thought that he would
become tired of heaven itself and its occupations; for by his
time of life he, too, had learned the secret that nothing in this
world can bring real, lasting happiness. So, one day, his
superior sent him out to gather fuel for the fire. As he was
picking up the wood, he heard a far sweeter warble than ever came
from the throat of a bird; but it was not a bird of the earthly
forest; it was some sweet strains of celestial music that he
heard. He must pause one moment to hear the end of the song
before making up his bundle of wood. So he stood still, and the
warbling went on, so full, so sweet, so rich, that he almost held
his breath in ecstasy. When it ceased, "How short it was!" he
said, then picked up the arm-load of sticks and returned to the
monastery. He rang the bell at the gate, but a brother came whom
he did not know. "Who are you that takes the place of Brother
John?" he inquired. "But rather who are you?" was the reply.
"Ah, I am Brother Francis." "Brother Francis! There is no Brother
Francis." Then the oldest monk in the monastery was called, and
he tottered in on his cane, and told how, when he was a boy, he
had heard some old gray-haired monks tell that, long, long ago,
when they were young, Brother Francis had gone, one afternoon,
for wood, and never returned: killed doubtless by the wild
beasts. So they counted the years, and found that Brother Francis
had listened to the bird's song one hundred and fifty years, and
thought that too short. Now, if the sweet singing from the voice
of an angel could so entrance this holy man that he thought so
many years to be but a moment, how much more will our soul be
enraptured with the sight of heaven, with the song of the choir
of the redeemed, and by the vision of the Blessed Trinity! In
heaven, the heart will stand still, and in the fulness of its joy
remain transfixed for ever.

Then why is it that we give way under our sufferings, our daily
trials and crosses? Why do so many grow faint-hearted, and think
that there is no rest, no peace, for them? Why do people despair
of ever being happy? It is because they forget the very object
for which they were created. They lose sight of the eternal joy
and the unending happiness that God has prepared for those who
love Him.


At Holy Mass, whether it be a festival, fast, or funeral, these
sublime words are sung by the sacrificing priest at the altar,
"__Sursum corda__"--"Lift up your hearts," and the faithful
answer, "__Habemus ad Dominum__"--"We have lifted them up to
the Lord." Now, these words are kept before our minds, on a
festival, to remind us of the eternal joys of heaven; on a
funeral, to call our attention to that home above where there is
no death, no parting, and where all tears are wiped away from the
eyes. Then let "__Sursum corda__" when it is sung this
morning, revive this thought of heaven in your hearts--you who
are sad, who are sick and poor, you who are in the midst of
severe temptations; and carry these words with you through the
week, and, whenever you are tempted to murmur against your lot,
"Lift up your hearts." Think of Paradise. We were made for
Paradise, and we ought always to remember how joyful the thought
of Paradise is to the Christian's heart. "O most happy mansion of
the city above! O most happy and bright day, that knows no night,
but is always enlightened by the Sovereign Truth! The citizens of
heaven know how joyful that day is; but the banished children of
Eve lament that this our day is bitter and tedious. Oh! that this
day would dawn upon us, and all temporal things would come to an


Then, at this time, let us all look up, and be more vigilant in
the service of God while on earth. Let us so live here that our
lives may be a foretaste of heaven. Let the Church on earth be
the vestibule of heaven in which we wait patiently for the time
of our admission therein. Let us be faithful to the laws of God
and the Church: "Laying aside every weight and the sin that doth
so easily beset us, by patience let us run the race set before
us; looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who,
having the joy proposed to Him, underwent the cross, despising
the shame, and now sitteth down at the right hand of the throne
of God," [Footnote 93] to whom let us lift up our hearts, and
offer that beautiful prayer which the Holy Church is chanting
throughout the world on this Fourth Sunday after Easter: "O
Almighty God, who alone canst make the faithful to be of one
mind: grant that they may love those things which Thou dost
command and desire, those things which Thou dost promise, that so
among all the changes of this world their hearts may surely there
be fixed where true joys are to be found, through Jesus Christ
our Lord Amen."

    [Footnote 93: Heb xii. i.]



              Sermon XVI.

               The Clergy
      The Teachers Of The People,

  (For The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost.)

             St. Matt. vii. 15.

  "__Beware of false prophets,
   who come to you in sheep's clothing,
   but inwardly they are ravening wolves.__"

By the word prophet is meant a teacher or leader of the people;
any one who sets himself up, or is commissioned by those in
authority, as an expounder of the sense of the Scriptures, or of
the principles of morality or of religion, so as to lead others
to adopt his opinions, and act according to his directions.

The office of prophet, or teacher, is the most important of all
in human society. For, if we are rightly taught and follow the
teaching, everything goes on harmoniously, and conduces to the
best result; the greatest amount of substantial happiness in this
world, and the securing of our immortal destiny in heaven. If we
are wrongly taught, our great blessings are turned into curses,
and our lives are failures, both for this world and the next.


And our Lord Jesus Christ took especial pains to provide for this
great need of ours. He selected His twelve Apostles, kept them
with Himself during all the time of His public ministry,
instructed them by word and example, and sent them out to teach
with this full and explicit commission, "Go ye into all the
world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo I am
with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."
[Footnote 94]

    [Footnote 94: St. Mark xvi. 15 and St. Matt, xxviii. 20.]

If we desire to know them who are the true prophets, we have the
means of finding out: they are the lawful successors of the
Apostles, the priesthood of the Holy Church. And, on the other
hand, we have the means of determining who are the false prophets
or teachers: all those who are in opposition to this lawful body
of teachers, commissioned by God Himself to teach us.

The priesthood of the Holy Church, then, are our teachers in the
principles and practice of religion, and of morality, which is
embraced in religion. They are the ones to teach us our duty, in
all respects, as individuals, and as members of society; our
duties to ourselves, to our fellow-men, to our families, to the
government or state in which we live, as well as to God.


This is what many people do not seem to understand. They say, Let
the clergy confine themselves to their own sphere, to the
teaching of religion, and let other things alone. Why should they
meddle with questions of politics or government? Why should they
interfere with private or family affairs? Why should they say
anything about a man's business, or try to interfere with his
personal liberty to do this or that? Now, whence do these
objections arise? From the mistaken notion that religion deals
exclusively with the relations of the individual to his God, and
has nothing to do with society or government; that there is
divorce between politics and religion; that the law of God is
separable from human laws.

Nothing can be more untrue than this idea. The divine law is the
rule according to which all human laws must be conformed. These
laws derive all their authority and sanction from the divine
will. Religion cannot be divorced from politics, from government,
from legislature, from the family, from business, or from any of
the affairs of life. Wherever a moral question is involved in
politics, there religion is involved. Every Christian is bound to
carry the law of Christ into his politics.
Every voter is bound to vote for those who sustain this divine
law, and never for the opponents of it; and every legislator is
bound not to make any law which is in opposition to it.

And the authorized teachers of the divine law are the ones to
expound what the law is, and to lay down the duty of each one in
reference to it. They are to teach, and to insist upon the
observance of what Christ has taught them: in the state, the duty
of obedience to the civil authority, and the wickedness of
resisting it, in the lawful exercise of its power;--in the
family, the sacredness of the marriage-tie, in spite of any human
laws contrary to God's law, and the obligation of the religious
education of children;--to the individual, the sin of unlawful or
immoral combinations, and many other things which will readily
suggest themselves to any one who will reflect.

Those, then, who try to depreciate the influence of the clergy,
and to bring their teaching into contempt, or to set themselves
up as independent judges of the morality and right of all
questions relating to politics and society, are false prophets,
boasting of their liberty, appealing to pride, worshipping
themselves in place of God, and flattering the passions of
others. They are ravening wolves, destroying the spirit of
religion and the souls of men, and leading their victims to
anarchy, riot, and bloodshed.


Do not misapprehend my meaning. I do not mean that the clergy
should come down into the arena of party politics to advocate the
claims of this or that candidate for office, or convert the
Church into a political debating-room. Thank God, they have a
better idea of their sacred office than that. But where the
duties of the individual or the general interests of religion are
involved, they are bound to speak out, and they should be
listened to as the ambassadors of God.

"Let the clergy mind their own business," is sometimes said.
Well, and what is the business of the clergy? It is to seek the
salvation of souls. It is to keep the people, as far as possible,
from any violation of the commandments of God; from the
commission of sin, which leads to the destruction of souls. If
they can foresee that this or that course of action will involve
their people in sin, they are bound, disregarding all
self-interest or any worldly consideration, to raise their voice
in protest against it. If the people rush into any unlawful
combination, which, perhaps, involves loss of property or loss of
life, or, at any rate, is sinful and tends to the destruction of
the soul, then, whether the thing is popular or not, they are
bound, as far as they can, to set their face against this evil,
and warn the people to keep from it.


If they do not do this, then they do not "mind their own
business." They are no better than the "hirelings who flee when
the wolf cometh."

But why are the clergy especially fitted to exercise this office
of prophet or teacher? Because, in the first place, they are, as
a class, men of education and thought. They have withdrawn from
other pursuits, and passed many years in study. They have had
particularly to study questions relating to morality; of right
and wrong; of the meaning of the law of God, and are better
fitted than any other class of men to give decisions on such

This is reason enough why the mass of the people, who have not
the time, the freedom from other occupations, the books, or the
habit of reasoning correctly, should defer with great respect to
the opinion of the clergy on any important question. It argues a
great want of humility--an antichristian and unreasonable pride,
when their opinion is treated with contempt and brought into

In the second place, they are disinterested parties, and are able
to decide, for the most part, free from prejudice. The only
prejudice they can have is, that God's law be observed and His
honor vindicated. They are a body of men independent, free from
family ties, and cares, and obligations; freed in an unusual
degree from what prejudices other men--the desire of heaping up
wealth. In short, they have every inducement to love right and
hate wrong.


Thirdly, they are the fathers of their people. Having no wives or
children of their own, the people are their children. The term
"father" by which they are addressed is a true expression of the
feeling which the people have towards them, because they have a
truly parental affection for them. That priest must be a monster
who does not love his people, as a general thing so devoted and
affectionate to him. Our Saviour says, "The good shepherd will
lay down his life for his sheep." The Catholic people are the
flock of the priest; it is his business and his happiness to look
out for their interests; to advise them and warn them of dangers;
to go after them and bring them back when they go astray; and it
is only natural for them to look up to him for advice, for
counsel in doubt, for consolation in trouble. There is no sweeter
or more beautiful tie than that which binds the priest and people

But lastly, and above all, the priest is the representative and
agent of Jesus Christ. This last reason includes and carries with
it all the others; they all grow out of it. Hear what St. Paul
says: "And some he gave to be apostles, and some prophets, and
some evangelists, and others pastors and teachers.
For the perfection of the saints, for the edification of the body
of Christ." [Footnote 95] All that relates to the building up or
edification of the faithful belongs to their sacred office. In
the direction of St. Paul to Titus, he tells him: "Admonish them
to be subject to princes and powers, to obey at a word, to be
ready to every good work." [Footnote 96] And again: "These things
speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man
despise thee." [Footnote 97] Once more he says: "Let a man look
upon us as the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the
mysteries of God." [Footnote 98] And when our Lord sent out His
Apostles, He used these emphatic words: "He that heareth you
heareth Me, and he that despiseth you despiseth Me."

    [Footnote 95: Eph. iv. 11.]

    [Footnote 96: Ep. Tit. iii. 1.]

    [Footnote 97: Ep. Tit. ii. 15.]

    [Footnote 98: I Cor. iv. 1.]

Who are the false prophets we have the most need to be warned
against at this present time? Not the professed teachers of
heresy, because they are too well known; their doctrine and their
principles have lost all attraction for Catholics. Their hatred
and opposition to the Holy Church and her doctrines is too
violent and untruthful to have any power of attraction for the
Catholic heart. I should say they are not wolves in sheep's
clothing, but rather wolves in their own skins. No, it is not
It is rather the irreligious, unprincipled newspapers which are
sowing the worst principles broadcast in the community, which are
ridiculing all that we hold most sacred, which make all religion
to consist in the present and laugh at the future world; which
are prating all the time about clerical influence, and extolling
a purely secular education; which are talking everlastingly about
progress and enlightenment, and this nineteenth century, and the
dark ages and superstitions; whose infernal doctrine may be
summed up in one sentence: "Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for
to-morrow we die."

These are the false prophets who clothe themselves with sheep's
clothing, that is, with professions of liberty, enticements to
pleasure, and to the gain of worldly goods, as if there was no
hereafter, no responsibility, but each one was free to do as he

And who are some of the other false prophets? They are leaders of
secret societies; interested persons who make a living out of
professions of patriotism and love of country; who live in
luxury--many of them, out of the hard earnings of the poor
laborer and the girls at service; who beguile the ignorant into
unlawful and forbidden ways, sinking them down deep in mortal
sin, and hindering them from getting out of it, because they
impose a distrust and dislike of the clergy and of the Church
which condemns them. Like the Pharisees, they "move heaven and
earth to make one proselyte, and, when they have made one, they
make him more a child of hell than themselves." Avoid them, for
they are truly "ravening wolves."


And lastly, avoid another false prophet within yourself: the
spirit of pride and self-will. Without this, all the others I
have mentioned above would be powerless to hurt you. This is the
very evil one himself who stirs up within you every evil passion.
Be cautious, weigh well the thoughts of your hearts. Try them by
the standard of the Gospel and of the example of Jesus Christ,
and, if they cannot abide the test, no matter how fair an
appearance they have, abandon them.

Ah! if we would only stop to consider calmly what we are about;
if we would only utter one sincere prayer to God for guidance,
and to obtain a good-will, this false prophet of self-will would
be detected and driven out, and we would be quickly delivered
from destruction.

Finally, give good heed to the Scripture which says: "Obey your
prelates, and be subject to them, for they watch as being to give
an account of your souls, that they may do this with joy, and not
with grief."


Obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Pope, the Head of the Church
and Father of the faithful. When he solemnly pronounces his
judgment as to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of anything, obey
as you would if you heard it from the lips of Christ Himself. It
is a fearful thing for any one to put himself in opposition to
Christ's Vicar and the Successor of St. Peter, to whom our Lord
gave the charge to feed both His sheep and His lambs.

Obey your Archbishop, who is more immediately placed over you. It
is his place to judge what is for the good of religion, and to
foresee the evils likely to arise at any time among ourselves.
Let those who disregard his admonition look well to it, lest they
implicate themselves in grievous sin, and in inflicting great
injury upon the religion of Christ. Such men are a scandal and
cause of ruin to the faithful, and our Lord has denounced the
anger of God upon those who are guilty of it.

Obey your priests, who will have to give an account of your
souls. Give no cause of offence or scandal in your parish, but
rather co-operate with your fellow-parishioners in the extension
of Christ's kingdom upon earth.

It is by this spirit of docility and obedience you will break
through all the snares of Satan, and be delivered from error.
Thus, walking in the clear light of truth, you will finally be
united to the Eternal Truth, God, the fountain of all joy,



              Sermon XVII.

          Humility In Prayer.

  (For The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost.)

         St. Luke xviii. 13.

  "__God, be merciful to me, a sinner.__"

One of the chief lessons our blessed Lord intended to teach us by
the parable told in to-day's Gospel is the necessity and power of
humble prayer. Let us see this, and try to draw some useful
thoughts from it.

The great positive precept of prayer goes hand in hand with a
man's salvation. Nothing can excuse the neglect of it, nothing is
promised except through it, and therefore one cannot hope for
anything without it. Yet it is not every spirit of prayer that is
of God. In spite of a professed total disregard for it by some,
nevertheless men have an instinctive faith in prayer. The
hardiest blasphemer and scoffer at religion will often be found
the first to pray when in imminent danger of death.
He prays in fear. Others, with out any spirit of devotion, will
be found praying at stated times, like the Pharisee, because it
is a highly respectable thing to do, and keeps up their credit
and good character, who apparently regard prayer as a sort of
business transaction with God, the fulfilment of certain
conditions of barter with Providence, by which they may expect to
hold their own, and be further well rewarded. These pray in
pride. Others are full of themselves and their own desires.
__They__ wish to be happy, let others be as miserable as they
may. __They__ want no sickness, no accident, no reverse of
fortune, no contempt, no temptation, let God try other souls with
His chastening hand as He pleases. These pray in selfishness. And
yet all these are the first to complain that their prayer is not
heard and instantly answered. They become petulant over delay,
and utterly discouraged if their desires are not fulfilled.
__God's__ will is nothing to them. It is not "Thy will," but
"My will" be done. Listen, my brethren, to the true spirit of
prayer, the only kind of prayer which will infallibly be heard.
It is the prayer of those who pray in humility.

The very essence of prayer consists in the acknowledgment of
God's supreme dominion and government over us, and our complete
dependence upon Him as the source of all blessings, spiritual and
temporal. The better this is acknowledged by the soul, the more
perfect must be the prayer; and, if this be the spirit which
inspires only a few words of prayer, or even a silent aspiration
of the heart, then more is accomplished than if hours had been
consumed in the recitation of forms of prayer, where this high
and reverent thought of God is wanting.


Now, this is also the fountain thought of humility: that God is
all in all to us, that it is He, and not we ourselves, who has
made us, and prospered us, and blessed us, and raised us up, and
obtained peace and forgiveness for our erring hearts; that He is
the Truth; that the true religion is His making, not what we may
fashion to ourselves. These are the thoughts to bring the heart
into a proper relation with God, the relation of an humble hope,
trust, and reverence for Him, and in this we need lose nothing of
a proper and just esteem for ourselves. It is the secret of the
making of great saints and heroes in religion (all of whom were
renowned for their humility), that a man is always the gainer by
just so much as he gives to God.

So we see in the case of the humble publican, that God regarded
him the more because he did not so much as lift his eyes to
heaven. God drew the nearer to him, the farther he stood off. God
comforted him, and justified him, the more he acknowledged his
own wretchedness, and condemned himself. Not without reason, it
is true, because he __was__ a sinner. While he, who was not a
sinner, went up in his pride and sinned in his very prayers. The
humble sinner went away justified; the proud, just man went away


And hence we may conclude that, if one does not pray in humility,
his prayer is of no value, and he moreover runs a great chance of
committing sin by praying, and of receiving curses instead of
blessings in answer.

"God resisteth the proud," says the Apostle, "but giveth grace to
the humble." [Footnote 99] He is, as it were, shocked and
indignant to see a man approaching him in presumption or pride.
He has no grace for such an one, and then without that he will
infallibly commit sin and be lost.

  [Footnote 99: St. James iv. 6.]

For what happens? He who prays without humility thinks that he
has done a great thing, for which God honors him, and holds him
up as an example for the admiration and imitation of others,
especially for those who seldom or never go to their knees, or
pray so quickly and unobtrusively that no one notices them. So he
rises from his prayer puffed up with self-conceit.


Look at the Pharisee. He came to the treasure-house of God with a
large sack; he extolled its capacity, and stretched it out to its
utmost dimensions; he made his prayer long, wordy, and full of
self. As he really did not profess himself to be in want of
anything, God sent him away, with his sack empty of everything
but his own windy words, which God despised and returned to him
for his pains. His load was not heavy, and he could walk with
head and shoulders proudly erect.

As he passed out he gave a scornful glance at the miserable
publican, crouching in the porch, and thought within himself:
What bad people there are in the world, to be sure! The humble
object of his disdain followed him out with bent shoulders and
downcast head. He had come empty-handed to God's treasury. But
something had passed between him and God which the proud Pharisee
little imagined: and he might well go away still humbly bending
to the ground, for God's mercies and blessings lay heavily upon
him. So sang the humble Virgin: "He hath filled the hungry with
good things, but the rich he hath sent empty away."

Many imagine that the wealthy are the chief ones who pray like
the Pharisee; but this is a great mistake. There are quite as
many poor "rich Pharisees" as wealthy rich ones. Being in humble
circumstances does not make one humble. The Blessed Virgin did
not mean the rich in this world's goods, but those who were rich
in their own conceit.
So we see many who have not much money to boast of, yet will
boast pretty loudly of their piety. They come to pray to God for
forgiveness of their sins; and what do they say? "I don't do
much. I don't curse. I don't steal. I don't slander my neighbor."
And if God did not rouse them up to a sense of the sins they do
commit by questioning their consciences, they would go away fully
persuaded that they were out-and-out saints, while all the rest
of the world were thieves, and liars, and extortioners, and
workers of all kinds of iniquity, especially that quarrelsome
neighbor who has just taken their place in the confessional, and
who, they hope, will meet with severe and righteous treatment. O
self-sufficient, rich Pharisee! it is true I have seen you in
silk and broadcloth, but I have seen you also in a cotton gown,
and a coat out at [the] elbows.

Not a few are found lacking in this requisite to make prayer of
any value, because they pray in fear. At first sight, fear would
seem to be almost identical with humility; but it is quite a far
different thing, for humility brings the soul nearer to God,
while fear drives it away. Humility recognizes the greatness and
goodness of God, and, while it reverences Him, holds Him for that
knowledge in the highest esteem; but fear hides itself, and, in
place of esteem, holds Him in slavish dread.
Humility is hopeful; fear is full of despair. See those sinners
who find themselves in shipwreck, or in some imminent danger of
death from disease. They pray, it is true, but how? Is it in
sorrow for their sins? Do they want to get back the lost love of
God? Oh! no; that is the last thought they have. It is to be
saved from death; it is to be cured of their diseases; and what
does it all amount to, but that they are trying to make a truce
with God? Their whole lives have been at enmity with Him; and
now, when God compels them to acknowledge Him, when He conquers
them and brings them down, it is not peace they want, but a
cessation of hostilities. It is plain enough God is the master.
Such souls tremble at death, because it is bringing them nearer
to God; the humble souls fear life, because it is so full of the
danger of losing Him.

Such was the prayer of the wicked King Antiochus, who prayed to
God and made great promises; but it was only fear that wrung the
prayer out of him. He cared for nothing but to be restored to
life and health; but God rejected his prayers, and left him to
die a horrible death, being eaten up by worms. The Scripture says
of him: "Then this wicked man prayed to the Lord, of whom he was
not to obtain mercy." [Footnote 100]

    [Footnote 100: 2 Macc. x. 13.]
    [USCCB: 2 Maccabees ix. 13.]


Now and then the judgments of God hang over sinners. Hell gapes
underfoot, and they pray and cry to the Lord for mercy, yet are
not heard, because they have no contrition; and are wanting in
contrition, because they have no humility. Their fear is the fear
of those sinners described by the prophet: "The sinners in Sion
are afraid; trembling hath seized upon the hypocrites." [Footnote
101] But the humble soul is not afraid to draw near to God, for
the promise encourages it: "An humble and contrite heart, O God,
Thou wilt not despise." Such are not afraid, because their
contrition is founded on the love of God, and is real and hearty.
"Perfect love," says St. John, "casteth out fear."

    [Footnote 101: Isa. xxxiii. 18.]
    [USCCB:        Isa. xxxiii. 14.]

Look at Mary Magdalen. There was an example of boldness in a
truly contrite, humble heart. She dared a good deal. Jesus, her
Lord, the God of infinite purity, is the honored guest of a
wealthy and proud citizen; she, an abandoned woman. Yet she dared
enter the rich man's door. She dared the sneers and contempt of
the servants. She dared enter the banqueting hall as an unwelcome
intruder, at the risk of being ignominiously expelled. She dared
approach the Spotless One, and touch His sacred feet with her
polluted hands. But perfect love casteth out fear.
Her tears were so many eloquent words of prayer that went
straight to the heart of Jesus. Her penitent love chased all fear
away, and moved the Lord to say of her: "Many sins are forgiven
her, because she hath loved much."

But the most common want of humility is seen in those who pray in
selfishness. Has God seen fit to send them a trial--say, a defect
in their hearing or sight, or one of their children is born
deformed or sickly--then they act as though the like had never
been seen before, so querulous are they under the affliction.
They pray--a good long string of complaints--over it. Or else the
selfishness takes another shape, and, while they can look with
indifference upon hundreds who suffer worse, they cannot bear to
have the hand of the Lord touch __them__. They come to beg of
the priest to cure them; they come humbly enough in their manner,
will go down on their knees, and even kiss the ground, but they
have not a particle of humility in their hearts. They are so
selfish about their pains and aches that they are quite surprised
and vexed if the priest does not profess himself quite ready and
able to perform a miracle in their favor; as if the Almighty owed
them miracles, or as if they were the only people in the world
about whose ease and comfort He was concerned. And then they go
away disappointed, giving no heed to the holy words with which
the priest tried to teach them to profit by their affliction, and
instruct them how to pray to God to be relieved of it, if it be
His holy will.
Very probably, such people are not in the grace of God at all;
and it is plain even to human wisdom that, if God heard and
answered their selfish prayers, they would go away puffed up with
pride, never think of returning Him any thanks, and lead a worse
sinful life than they have before. For it is a proverb: "Do a
proud man a favor, and he hates you for it." He dislikes the idea
of being laid under an obligation; and this is just what would
happen to such. They would dislike God for putting them under the
obligation to serve Him the more strictly in return for His
favors. God sees this, and, because they have no humility, their
prayers are not heard.

It is the same with many spiritually minded persons too. They are
led to look for mortifications and crosses, and, when these are
sent, then they are both mortified and crossed in another sense.
They are humiliated, but not humbled. Oh! how hard they pray to
be delivered from these very means of their sanctification. But
it is selfishness that makes them pray. They thought themselves
saints, and it galls their pride to be treated as though they
were yet far from perfection. They suffer, and keenly too, I
know. So did our Blessed Lord in His agony, and dereliction on
the Cross. But when __He__ prayed, He said to His Father, "Not
My will, but Thine be done."


The want of humility in prayer is the bane of those living in
heresy. Heresy, you know, is the offspring of pride. Souls fall
into it, and wilfully remain in it from an undue opinion of their
own wisdom. All heresy must have "private judgment" as its basis
of religion. If the true religion ever comes up before them for
examination or acceptance, they are almost afraid to pray at all,
lest they should pray themselves into submission to it.

They see that the road before them is the road of humility. They
start back at the hard sayings. Wanting humility, they have very
little conviction of sin; and, like the Pharisee who went up to
the temple to recount his good deeds, you will not unfrequently
hear such persons, in speaking of the confessional, say with
unaffected surprise: "Why, what in the world can you have to
tell? I don't think I have any sins to confess."

Oh! if they could once be brought down to pray humbly for light
and guidance, how differently would they talk, and how quickly
all their fancied difficulties and impossibilities would fade


A celebrated master in the spiritual life used to send persons
away to pray who came to him to talk controversy. If they were
humbly seeking the truth, they found all their objections
answered in prayer before they returned. If not, he knew their
pride would be proof against both prayer and argument, however
long the one or powerful the other.

My brethren, we have all got to pray for what we want, and to
pray humbly too, if we expect our prayers to be heard. To pray
like the Publican, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner," and not
like the Pharisee, "O God, I thank thee I am not like the rest of

I recollect an instance, on one of our Missions, which will be a
lesson for all those whom I have been addressing this morning. A
young man came to me, whom I soon learned to be one of those
unfortunate Catholics whose parents do nothing more towards
making them Christians than to get them baptized. The first words
he said to me were these: "Father, I'm a mighty hard case." I
found he was quite ignorant of the principal doctrines of the
faith, and sent him away for a few days to learn them. When he
presented himself again, he was surprised I did not recognize
him. "Why, don't you know," said he, "I'm the mighty hard case?"
It was necessary not only to instruct him, but to give him some
serious warnings, that he might keep out of bad company, and live
thenceforward a good life.
Perhaps I was led to speak in a tone that appeared to him rather
severe; and it went to my heart to hear the poor fellow repeat
the humble judgment he had passed upon himself: "Yes, father, I
told you so. I told you I was a __mighty__ hard case." The
"mighty hard case" got his communion with great joy and a holy
pride; and I remembered the words of the Lord: "Amen, I say to
you, this man went down to his house justified ... for every one
that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

Reflect upon this touching example of an humble soul, and, when
you go to pray, think of the necessity of humility, and of
patience and resignation to God's will in all things.

Pray! Not in proud self-conceit, for God will despise you, and
resist your supplications, and withhold His grace. Without grace
you will find yourself falling so repeatedly and grievously into
sin that you will lose faith in prayer. When it comes to that,
you are on the road to hell.

Pray! Not in fear. That is a bad sign. It looks as though you did
not love God; and, it such be the case, you cannot expect Him to
hearken to you, or grant you any favors.

Pray! but not in selfishness. Let God and His holy will be all in
all to you. Take what He sends. Learn to trust Him in humility
and patience. The Lord does not always tell us the reasons why.
Whether He commands us as a Master, chastises us as a Father, or
teaches us to imitate Him in some hard lesson of humiliation--as
when He Himself washed the Apostles feet--He very often has but
the same answer to us that He gave to the astonished Peter: "What
I do thou knowest not now; but them shalt know hereafter."

Pray in humility, O ye doubting, distrustful souls! God's truth
is near enough and plain enough. It is you who are too
high-minded to see it, too proud to pray that you may know it.
Ask not with Pilate, "What is truth? what is truth?" in the
presence of the Infinite Truth, and then, like him, turn away and
never hear it.

Cease not to pray, though the morn is long in dawning, and the
day of redemption be delayed; but cease not to pray humbly, for,
says the wise man, "the prayer of him that humbleth himself shall
pierce the clouds, and he shall not depart until the Most High
behold." [Footnote 102]

    [Footnote 102: Ecclus. xxxv. 21.]
    [USCCB: Sirach xxxv. 17.]



              Sermon XVIII.

      Preparation For A Good Death.

  (For The Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost.)

             Isaiah xxxviii. 1.

      "__Put thy house in order,
      for thou shall die, and not live__."

When I read the Gospel for to-day, which describes the raising of
the widow's son to life, I ask myself the question--Did he die
prepared? When his friends could no longer give him any hope of
recovery--when he was forced to make that bitter acknowledgment
to himself, "My time is come," then did he make ready to die? Did
he put his house in order? Had he time to do it? Was he in a fit
state to do it? When his soul had departed, could his widowed
mother console herself with the thought--He lived a good life,
and he died a good death? We can not answer for the young man, as
the Gospel tells us nothing either of his life or of his death,
but we can answer for many whose lives and whose deaths we know;
and, knowing our own lives, we ought to be able to answer for the
kind of death we would die if the word of the Lord came to us as
it came to King Ezechias: "Put thy house in order, for thou shalt
die, and not live."


A friend, about to take a journey to Europe, remarked: "I have
arranged all my affairs, so as to have a pleasant journey." He
did well. We will do better when we shall have arranged all our
affairs for a pleasant journey to that far-off land from which we
shall never return. Let us see, brethren, what it is to arrange
one's affairs that one may die a good death. This preparation may
be summed up in the fulfilment of three obligations--the first,
to God; the second, to our neighbor; and the last, to one's self.

To die well and happily, we must fulfil our obligations to God.
Here I must confess I am somewhat troubled to answer how a man
who is near death, whether he be in good health at the present
moment or given up by his physician, shall satisfy this demand,
if he has not already done so. The last, and usually the most
useless, hours of one's life are hardly the time to give God his
due. God's obligations are fulfilled in living not in dying,
well. Our Lord compares the dealings of God with us to a man who
hired workmen to labor in his vineyard; to another who gave
certain talents to his servants which they were to improve; and,
again, to a husbandman who sowed his seed expecting to reap a
harvest from it in due time.
These are very apt figures of the duties and the fruits of life.
The heavenly reward will be bestowed upon him who labored at
God's work in life. He shall enter into so much of the heavenly
joy of his Lord as he has fitted himself for by the improvement
of the talents which God gave him. God will reap just so much of
a harvest as the seed of His divine grace has been cultivated and
allowed to grow in the heart. Now we are sent to begin our work,
to improve our talents, and His grace is sown in our hearts when
life begins. God's obligations begin when we begin to live, not
when we begin to die. Oh! this is a startling truth! What a
fearful thought this must be to him who has never realized it as
life went on, and only now begins to think about it when the
terrors of the coming judgment are casting their shadows before,
and darkening the last hours of his misspent life!

I hardly know what to say to that man to whom religion has never
been a reality in life, who has shirked its duties, and deafened
his conscience to its appeals, who thinks of it only when life is
not worth thinking of; who makes use of it only to smooth his
dying pillow, to bless his grave, and pray for him when he is
The thought that his life, the only life he has had or will have
upon which God has such a heavy claim for his service, for the
worship and love of his heart, upon his personal exertions and
sacrifices for the cause of His holy faith--has simply been
allowed to wear away, day after day and year after year, and that
nothing has been done, must be a thought of misery and dismay,
such as would overwhelm the mind of a merchant who, after making
a long and, as he supposed, prosperous voyage across the ocean,
finds, to his disappointment, that he has forgotten to bring
either the money or the letters of credit wherewith to purchase
his expected cargo.

I hardly know what to say to that man whose life has been little
more than a mockery of the God whom he pretended to serve; whose
principles and faith were indeed Christian, but whose practice
and works have been heathen. He has been a Catholic--oh! yes, in
name, but not in deed. It would be better to say of him that he
was not a Protestant, nor a Jew, nor an infidel. That is all.
That he is a Catholic seems to be a happy accident; for, to judge
from the indifference he manifests in its practice, it is to be
feared that, had circumstances made him anything else, the
Catholic faith would be the last thing to which he would give a
serious thought. When such are suddenly surprised with the
message, "Put thy house in order, for thou shalt die, and not
live," indeed it is hard to say how they are to prepare to answer
to God for their life.
Their memory brings up little else than despised warnings, grace
trifled with, neglected sacraments, prayerless days, and
desecrated Sundays; and I know not where they are to find the
fruit that God comes seeking of them.

You see, my brethren, that the first condition of being able to
prepare for a happy death is to have lived well. But you ask--Is
one who begins late in life to serve God, who knows that he has
but a short time to do something for Him, to give up his case as
hopeless, and despair of fulfilling this great obligation? Must
he say I have, alas! made no life-preparation of this solemn
account, and it is too late now? Far be it from me to say that;
but this I know: he must begin now all the more earnestly, and do
what he can with all the greater effort, as the time is the
shorter. O my dear brethren! that these late workmen in God's
service, and the dying, would understand this! Such an one falls
sick. He is attacked with a disease which will soon run its
course. He sends for a priest. He makes his confession as well as
he can--he would have made a better one if he had been well, for
he is not in a condition to remember the events of so many years;
he is sorry for his neglect and his sins; sorry for all the
comforts of religion that he has lost; but, tell me, is he sorry
for what God has lost by his careless life?
Does he express one regret that God has not only not had His own,
but that He has also been dishonored by his bad life; that the
Church of the faith he professes has been a loser by him; that
he, by his inconsistent conduct, has been a stumbling-block and a
rock of scandal to the unbeliever and the scoffer? No, this is
the last thing that troubles him. What is one to do? Plainly
this: Religion ought now to be his all-absorbing thought. Every
moment should be employed with a holy jealousy in prayer, lest
God might be forgotten again. One, and only one, desire ought to
fill his heart, and that is a desire to love God as perfectly as
he may before he die. He should frequently call to mind that
comforting assurance which our blessed Lord gave to the penitent
Magdalen: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath __loved
much__." It is not the time for excuses, as so many seem to
think it to be, but a time of humble abandonment to the will and
the mercy of God. It is a painful sight to witness the contrary;
to see the sick and the dying full of complaints, resisting the
will of God, and praying for a few more years of a miserable
life. If it were for the purpose of living in the love of God,
and repairing the bitter past, it would be well. But no, their
hearts are breaking to think they are forced to part with the
world that they have loved too well.
But oh! how sweet it is to see a soul, at the close of life,
striving to detach itself from the world, and, as it were,
reaching forward to throw itself into the embraces of its God.
True, it may have been idle for many long years, and it may have
come only at the eleventh hour, but that hour, at least, is well
spent. These are they of whom the Master will say: "I will give
to these last even as to the first." [Footnote 103] Such may also
say, in the language of the wise man: "I awaked last of all, and
as one that gathereth after the grape-gatherers. In the blessing
of God I also have hoped; and as one that gathereth grapes, have
I filled the wine-press." [Footnote 104]

    [Footnote 103: St. Matt. xx. 14.]

    [Footnote 104: Ecclesiasticus xxxiii. 16, 17.]
    [USCCB: Sirach xxxiii. 16, 17.]

To die well and happily, we must, in the second place, fulfil our
obligations to our neighbor. Scarcely a day of our life passes in
which we do not find that our neighbor has had somewhat against
us. Debts accumulate, disputes arise, the incautious word is
spoken, the scandal is given, the character of our neighbor
suffers from our folly or our spite, reconciliation is not made,
forgiveness is neither asked nor given, friends are alienated,
the sun goes down upon our wrath, and on the morrow we must die.
Who is there who is able to say, when he comes to die--I owe no
man anything; my debts are all paid; I never wronged any one to
whom I did not make full restitution; I never lost a friend but I
found him again; I have not an enemy on the face of the earth?
Happy is that man, for he will die a happy death. But how many
there are who find themselves at the hour of death as they have
always been, both unwilling and unable to pay their just debts!
How many leave behind them an unsettled inheritance to their
relatives, which becomes an inheritance of discord, law-suits,
enmities, and deadly feuds! How often men die, and show no fear
to go to God with unclean hands--hands stained by the contact of
ill-gotten goods and stolen money! How many die unreconciled with
their neighbor, and with no earnest wish to be so! How lightly
the wrongs of a lifetime weigh upon their conscience! How many
die and make no restitution of all the detraction and the calumny
of which they have been guilty, and go to their grave amid the
secret jeers and curses of their neighbors! "Blessed is he that
is defended from a wicked tongue," says the Holy Scripture, "that
hath not passed into the wrath thereof, and that hath not drawn
the yoke thereof, and hath not been bound in its bands. For its
yoke is a yoke of iron: and its bands are bands of brass. The
death thereof is a most evil death: and hell is preferable to
it." [Footnote 105]

    [Footnote 105: Ecclus. xxviii. 23, 24.]
    [USCCB: Sirach xxviii. 19-21.]


Do you wish to escape such a lamentable end? Would you die the
death of the just, leaving your name in benediction, your loss
sincerely mourned, and your soul defended with prayers at the bar
of judgment? Deal with thy neighbor now whilst thou art in the
way with him. "Put thy house in order," and especially when you
come to die. Let no worldly consideration, no thought of pride,
hinder you from a perfect reconciliation with all men--a full
payment of every debt--a free forgiveness for every wrong you
have suffered. The few moments that remain to you, you will need
to pray for God's forgiveness for your own sins. Remember the
Lord's words: "For with what judgment you have judged, you shall
be judged; and with what measure you have measured, it shall be
measured to you again." [Footnote 106]

    [Footnote 106: St. Matt. vii. 2.]

Lastly, to die well, we must fulfil the obligations we owe to
ourselves. We are Christians, and should meet death like
Christians. That is, we owe it to ourselves to show at that
supreme moment some evidence that we are not being forced out of
life as if there were no existence beyond it, but that we are
ready to answer the call that God makes to us to come home; not
that we are setting out upon a journey of darkness and lonely
misery, but that we are following Jesus, who has overcome the
sting of death and robbed the grave of its terrors.
That we may be encouraged in this, we should bring to mind the
examples which the holy martyrs and the other saints of God have
left us in their deaths. Death, in its very nature, is
humiliating and degrading to human nature. It conquers us; it
leaves us not a trace of our beauty nor a vestige of our power.
No wonder that the flesh is weak and trembles before it; but the
spirit, ennobled with Christian faith and hope, and strengthened
with Christian charily, is willing and courageous. The
Christian's death is then no longer an ignominious defeat, but a
glorious sacrifice. The flesh goes, indeed, to the prison of the
grave; but the spirit, set free from its mortal bonds, mounts to
the skies to be crowned with power and immortality.

One thought alone should occupy our minds in our last hours--the
thought of uniting our souls to God, whom we are so soon to meet.
It is painful to see a dying person thinking of nothing but how
to give some momentary relief to his body, each instant calling
for some new comfort, as anxious and careful as if he were
preparing for a long life, instead of employing the precious
moments in prayer, in acts of contrition for the sins of his past
life, and in acts of love to God. I know that many persons think
it useless to try to pray at such a time, when the strength is
failing and the senses are growing dull; but it is not so.
They can "pray in their soul," as a saintly woman told me on her
death-bed. Seeing that I noticed the beads in her hands, she said
to me: "I am not able to __say__ my beads, father; but, when I
feel lonesome, I take them out to keep me company, and I pray in
my soul." We may make all our acts acts of prayer, if we will.
Our acceptance of sickness and death in the spirit of penance is
prayer. Our resignation to the will of God--our patience in
suffering--our gentleness and mildness with those who are tending
and watching us--all these things are prayer, if we practise them
with the thought that they are pleasing to God.

Then, there are the holy sacraments of the dying, full of grace,
comfort, and strength to our souls. I know few Catholics wilfully
neglect these, but it is a source of grief to the priest to be
called, so often as he is, to administer the last sacraments to
those who ought long ago have received the first ones they need.
I think it is one of the most discouraging events in the ministry
to go to a dying man and find that it is years since he confessed
or received the Holy Communion. Confession! I tell you that it is
very seldom that one on his sick-bed makes as good a confession
as he would if he were well. He cannot do it. His mind is not as
clear; his memory fails him; and, worst of all, he makes little
or no effort to prepare himself for it. What is the consequence?
His contrition is as vague and indifferent as is his confession.
With how much devotion does he receive the Holy Viaticum and the
Extreme Unction? Alas! this man did not begin to pray or to think
about either till an hour ago, when the doctor told him he had to
die. The priest absolves him, and he and his friends are content.
But did God absolve him? Tell me if he made a good confession, or
was sincerely sorry for his sins, and then I will tell you
whether God absolved him. Woe be to him if he did not, for it is
the last chance he has to confess, and but too frequently it is
the last appeal he makes to God for forgiveness. The priest gives
him the Holy Communion. Does he receive it worthily? Not, of
course, because he is going to die, or because this is his last
Communion. Does he receive it in as good dispositions as would
make it a worthy Communion if he were well, and had received it
in the church at the altar? If not, he makes an unworthy
Communion, and eats and drinks damnation to himself. The priest
anoints him. Is he signed and consecrated to God, and are his
senses purified, and his soul strengthened? Yes, if he be in the
grace of God. If not, he is signed and delivered over to Satan by
it, and his soul is prepared for hell. Oh! if one wishes to be
able to fulfil these obligations well at the hour of death, he
must not neglect the preparation for them in life.


Beautiful is the happy death of a Christian! Death! He does not
die. He enters into life; he rests from his labors; he falls
asleep in the Lord. Not long ago, I received an invitation to
attend the funeral of a priest. It was couched in these words:
"You are invited to attend the funeral of the Very Rev. Patrick
Moran, who entered into his rest at half-past eight on Wednesday
morning last." Fitting sentence, indeed, to describe the death of
that venerable and holy old man! Through a long life he lived and
labored only for God. Full of years and of merit, ripe for
heaven, and ready to begin his eternal life, he ceased from work
at the call of his divine Master, and entered into his rest. Thus
should every Christian die. It is what the Holy Church wishes for
us all. When the solemn dirges are chanted over us, again and
again she prays: "__Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine."
"Requiescant in pace.__" "Eternal rest grant unto them, O
Lord!" "May they rest in peace!"

My brethren, I have tried to-day to lay before you the duties of
the dying Christian. Soon will some of you be called upon to put
them in practice. Are you all ready for the last preparations? Is
your life to-day such as you would like it to be, if to-morrow
you are to die? Is your confession made for this year? Have you
received the Easter Communion? Are you at peace with God and men?
These are questions which you will wish to be able to answer in
the affirmative when you call upon the priest for your holy rites
and his parting blessing. Prepare now, that you may be prepared
then. Begin to-day, for the hour may come sooner than you imagine
in which you shall hear this awful message from the Lord: "Put
thy house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live."



             Sermon XIX.

     The King's Marriage Feast.

 (For The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost.)

          St. Matt. xxii. 14.

         "__For many are called,
          but few are chosen.__"

There are some Catholics who, with the smallest quantity of the
spirit of the Catholic religion, are very boastful of the name.
They look down upon those who are out of the fold of the Church
with scorn and contempt. Their whole demeanor indicates that they
consider themselves immensely superior to these unfortunate
creatures, who are all doomed necessarily to eternal destruction.
As to themselves, they deem it impossible that they should incur
the same doom, because they are Catholics. They are not members
of the Church so much by a special divine favor, but rather they
have conferred a favor on God by belonging to it. The Church
belongs to them by the right of birth, and the fact of their
parents having been Catholics gives them the privilege of
sneering at all not born under similar circumstances.
I have even heard such persons call converts to the faith by the
sweet and charitable epithet of "turncoats," and say they should
have remained where they were, and that it is a disgraceful thing
to abandon the religion of one's forefathers. Catholicity with
such is a thing of descent and of family pride; not a thing of
the heart and of the will.

The Holy Ghost understood this spirit, and, by the mouth of St.
John the Baptist, rebuked it severely: "Bring forth fruits worthy
of penance, and do not begin to say, We have Abraham for our
father." [Footnote 107] These words, applied to the Jews of old,
might well be translated for the benefit of many Catholics
nowadays--Do not begin to say, We are born of Catholic parents,
our forefathers have been Catholics for many generations, if you
are living like the heathen; but bring forth fruits worthy of
that holy and sacred name of Catholic; otherwise you will never
come to enjoy the presence of God, but be everlastingly cast out.

    [Footnote 107: St. Luke iii. 8.]

The parable of to-day gives us the most useful instruction on
this very subject. A certain king made a marriage feast for his
son. This king is the God of heaven and earth. The marriage feast
He makes is the participation of the creature in His own glory; a
boundless and inconceivable happiness, which shall never have end
or diminution; a realization of more than we have dreamed of, or
could possibly imagine.


This is the marriage feast of His Eternal Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ, because He, by taking our flesh upon Himself and becoming
man, by suffering and dying upon the cross, has redeemed us from
sin, elevated us far above the capacity of nature, and enabled us
to aspire to this magnificent destiny. It is His marriage feast,
because it is the celebration of the eternal nuptials of Himself
with the soul. It is the marriage feast in which the Omnipotence
of the Eternal Beauty is exercised to render the guests eternally
and supremely happy, filling them with an ocean of unbounded joy
and contentment.

The king sent out his servants into the highways and public
streets, with directions to call or invite to his feast all they
should meet, and urge them to come in.

This is what God does now every day. He calls, indiscriminately,
the rich and the poor, the noble and the lowly, into the fold of
His Church. It is no merit on their part which brings them the
invitation. They are all ragged and dirty in the sight of God.
Not one of them but would be a disgrace to the King's feast; but
God does not look at that. He is moved only by His desire to do
them a great favor, and confer upon them great happiness.
When He invites them, He intends to make them fit; to wash off
the dirt, and put suitable clothing upon them, so that they may
be made fit to enter His banqueting-hall. He has them brought to
an outer room, where are baths and precious ointments, and
splendid garments, and servants in abundance to put them on. They
need not trouble themselves with the expense of providing
anything, for the King provides all.

A child is brought to the priest for baptism. That child is of
Catholic parents, and they bring it. The child knows nothing at
all of what is done for it. It had no choice in the matter. It
might have been born of another race and of another religion, but
God, and not itself, has caused it to be born of Catholic
parents, and to be brought by them to baptism. It is, as it were,
met on the highway and called in, all stained by original sin, to
be washed in baptism, endowed with the right to the sacraments,
and invested with an immortal inheritance. So likewise Jesus
Christ has commanded His ministers to go and preach the Gospel to
every creature; to go and invite everybody who hears their voice
to come in and enjoy the same privileges. Those who accept the
invitation have as much right as those who are invited in the
other way, by the accident of their birth; for no one has any
other right than what comes from the pure bounty and goodness of
the King.
Those who are born of Catholic parents, and those who are
Catholics by their own free choice in later life, stand on the
same footing. We are all a crowd of beggars, who were in the
broad highway, and have heard the invitation of the King of
kings, and have come in in obedience to it. We are now all
standing in the outer hall of the eternal banquet, or rather in
the banqueting-room itself, waiting for the King to come in, when
the music will begin, and all its grandeur be lighted up by His

It is a most solemn reflection, my friends. You and I have
received this invitation. The King's messengers have met us on
the highway, and they have forced us to come in. We have been
compelled to come in, for ruin and death were the alternative of
staying out. We have no longer the liberty of ranging the
highways. We are no longer in the position of the
heathen--without the knowledge of the true religion, and without
baptism. The indelible mark, or character as it is termed, of
baptism has been imprinted on our souls; all the ages of eternity
will not suffice to wipe it out. Poor as this privilege was to be
hungry and ragged and miserable, it is ours no longer, but we are
in the banqueting-hall of the marriage feast.


There we are, and we cannot go out into the highway again. Once
in, the door is shut behind us, and there is no key to unlock it.
Once removed out of the state of our birth and made heirs of the
kingdom of heaven by baptism, it is impossible to put us back
again in our former relations. The mark of baptism, stamped upon
our souls, will remain with us either in heaven or in hell.
Elevated by God's goodness far above the condition of our nature,
if we fall, it must be down, deeper far than the condition from
which we were first taken.

A man may neglect his duty to God, and try to persuade himself
that the end and object of his existence is to get money, or
fame, or power, or pleasure, but he will find to his cost that it
was no such thing. The end and object of his existence was to
learn to love and serve God in this world, in order to be happy
with Him in the next; to prepare to be a worthy guest at the
marriage feast of the Lamb, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus

And now we are all in at the feast, and the King comes around to
see the guests. He discovers one without a suitable garment on;
one who has had the brazen-faced shamelessness to intrude himself
into the company all ragged and dirty, without the least pains to
make himself look decent, and pay respect to the King and his
guests. Could there be a more outrageous insult?
Could anything be more wanton and impudent than such conduct? The
King had provided everything; all they needed was at hand; He had
warned them to make themselves fit before going in: and here is
this man, in spite of all this, deliberately walking into this
splendid entertainment, with old tattered clothes and unwashed
face and hands. The King is justly indignant, and commands him to
be bound hand and foot, and cast into a dismal prison.

Is it not so? Has not God provided the Holy Sacrament of Penance,
where, with little trouble, the soul can be washed and cleansed
from all its defilements? The Holy Sacrament of the altar, where
the soul is nourished, and strengthened, and adorned by feeding
on the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are not
innumerable graces and virtues waiting for us, ready to be given,
if we will only take the trouble to ask for them?

Yes, the King of Glory will come around to see the guests at the
eternal feast. He will inspect each one of us. When will He come
around? When we die. Then it is the Judge of the whole human race
will come around to see if we are in the banqueting-hall of the
eternal feast with the marriage garment on.


We came up to the door of the church, and we received a ticket of
admission. All right so far. We entered the door, and we remained
within among the rest. Still all is right, and no doubt we felt
pleased to be in such good company, and no one turned us out. But
what good will all this do if we have not the wedding garment on?
What good will it do us to have gone to the church and heard the
sermons, if we have not on the wedding garment? What good to have
had the sacraments in life, or even at the hour of death, if we
have not on the wedding garment?

What is this wedding garment? The grace of God. If we are in
mortal sin, we have not the wedding garment on. We pulled it off
when we committed sin, and rendered ourselves utterly unfit for
the company of heaven. If we are in mortal sin at this moment, we
are now in the marriage feast of the King's Son without the
wedding garment, and woe be to us if the King should happen to
come around. At any moment His eye may fall upon us, and we may
hear the words, "Friend, why camest thou in hither with out
having on a wedding garment?" You will be struck dumb with
confusion and have nothing to reply; and then will go forth the
irrevocable sentence, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into
the outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of


Oh! who can comprehend the folly of the human race--a race of
beings so feeble and miserable, and limited by its nature, and
yet so unlimited and unbounded in its cravings for happiness--
who can make so little of that offer which lifts them out of all
this misery and exceeds their highest expectations? One would
think this offer would fill them with delight and a noble
enthusiasm to avail themselves of it. And yet, what do we see?
God's offer is despised. An immortal destiny is thrown away. Man,
created to the image and likeness of God, makes himself like the
beasts that perish. He boasts and prides himself on the fact that
he lives for the body, and despises eternity and God.

Many are called. Many are placed in the way of salvation. Many
have an abundance of means in their hands to attain to it. With a
little attention, with light exertion, many would be saved who
are lost. What inexcusable folly! Let us not be guilty of it. Let
us live for our immortal souls. Let us put on the wedding garment
of truth, and sincerity, and justice--that white garment that we
received at baptism--and see that we keep it unspotted until the



             Sermon XX.

        Good Use Of Sickness.

  (For The Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost.)

         Ecclesiasticus xxxviii. 9.
         [USCCB: Sirach xxxviii. 9.]

  "__My son, in thy sickness neglect not thyself,
  but pray to the Lord, and he shall heal thee.__"

The Gospel of the day relates the miracle of the healing of the
ruler's son. That this man had the right kind of faith which
pleases God, and obtains extraordinary favors from His hand, is
shown by the promptitude of his belief in what our Lord said to
him. Although he had urged and insisted upon our Lord's going
down to Capharnaum with him, yet, no sooner did he hear the
words, "Go thy way, thy son liveth," than he immediately returned
home alone without further doubt or remonstrance.

I do not think, my brethren, that we exercise enough of this
faith in God in our sicknesses; not, understand me, that we are
to look for miraculous cures of our ailments and diseases, or
that we are to condemn ourselves for want of faith if our prayers
for relief are not answered on a sudden; but what I mean is, that
we too often misapprehend the cause of our sicknesses, and do not
make the good use of them we might. Let me say a few words which
may be for our instruction and edification on these points.


In any event, whatever may be the direct cause of our sickness,
it is, after all, the will of God. If we fall sick through our
own culpable neglect or criminal excesses, it is still the will
of God. We have, in this, disturbed the good order of His
Providence, and suffer the natural consequences of it. There are,
besides, those countless forms of disease and phases of ill
health which afflict us, and which we are not able to trace to
any fault of ours. We fall sick, and cannot tell how or why. An
invisible hand has touched us at a moment we knew not, and our
strength is gone, the light has fled from our eyes, and the color
from our cheek. A secret poison has insinuated itself into our
blood, and dried up the fountains of health and vigor. Fierce and
rapid in its destruction, a week, a day, or even a few hours
suffice to bring us to the point of death, and shatter the
boasted glory of our strength. Then, if the danger passes and the
prospect of returning health smiles upon us, we have yet to pass
through the long and tedious days and nights of convalescence,
gathering but slowly, and with great labor and suffering, that
which we lost so quickly and so easily.


The first and most necessary truth for a Christian to reflect
upon in the time of sickness is that, in some way or other, God's
hand is in it, and that the stroke falls either in chastisement,
in mercy, or as a special favor and blessing. We must never
forget that life is given to us with all its vicissitudes of joy
and sorrow, of prosperity and adversity, of pains and pleasures,
more because of eternity than on its own account. Sickness comes
in its proper turn at fitting times as a part of the life that we
are to lead here below; and when it is good for us, then God
sends it. He has ends in view that we may be wholly ignorant of.
He knows our souls well and watches over them, and a Christian
ought to believe that he is never sick in body but for the sake
of the health of his soul.

But some one may say that is bringing sickness, health, and the
like within the pale of religion. "O ye sons of men! how long
will ye be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity, and seek after
lying?" We are cunning enough in the ways of the world, but why
so slow to understand the ways of God? Is there anything that we
are, or have, or can be that is not of God? Why forever trying to
lie to ourselves, and leave Him out of account? Are we sick or
well, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, honored or despised,
that God does not know it, has not so appointed it, and has not
good reasons for it? And is not the referring of any or all of
the states of our being to Him an act of religion?


The truth is, my brethren, that the manner in which one receives
and bears an attack of illness is a good test of one's religion.
You will see some giving away to inordinate fear and anxiety upon
the approach of the first symptoms of disease. They are not in
the habit of referring even their health to God, or of thanking
Him for it. They imagine they live of themselves. So, when they
feel their own strength leaving them, and are forced to say--I
can hold up myself no longer, then terror seizes upon them, as if
all aid, human or divine, was wanting, because they can no longer
help themselves.

See, too, how the positively irreligious and wicked man generally
acts in the commencement of sickness. He talks about his fate,
his ill-luck, and curses it. He utters incoherent cries of
impatience, and is full of anxiety to discover the act of
indiscretion on his own part, or the fault of others, through
which he has fallen ill.

But the true Christian, whose soul is prepared for tribulation,
with whom God is no stranger in the time of health, recognizes
instantly the hand of God when that health is threatened. With
holy Job, he exclaims: "If we have received good things at the
hand of God, why should we not receive evil?" [Footnote 108]

    [Footnote 108: Job ii. 10.]


He may be surprised, as all are, at the unlooked-for blow, but
there is no sign of angry complaint or of envious repining. It is
all right, he says, God knows best. This one thought satisfies
his heart, God knows about it. He knows why He sends it. He knows
how long it will last; how much I shall suffer, and how it will
end. May His holy will be done!

You see, my brethren, that what I desire to impress upon your
minds is that, in all sickness, from whatever cause, the will of
God is to be acknowledged. It is not every Christian, I regret to
say, who does so look upon it. Too often you will find it
regarded as a grievous misfortune, having no good reason why it
should be, and without any compensation for the loss of worldly
enjoyment and advantages which it necessarily entails; and, even
if they do agree that God has sent it, then it is because God is
angry with them. He is taking vengeance upon them. There appears
to be no other possible reason that can be given for it.

As I said before, we are afflicted with sickness not only as a
chastisement for sin, but sometimes also in mercy, as an act of
loving-kindness and forethought on the part of God; and again
very frequently, as in the case of holy Job, as an opportunity to
try our faith, to enable us to show our constancy and love to
God, and is therefore to be looked upon as a mark of
predilection, and a positive blessing and grace.


Certainly, sickness is sometimes sent as a punishment for sin. It
comes as a natural and just consequence of sinful excesses. Look
at the drunkard and the debauchee. They have gone on for awhile
in seeming impunity, but every debauch was a blow struck upon the
citadel of life and health. Soon it is shattered, and totters and
falls into ruin. Go into the streets, and you may meet them, with
haggard faces and trembling limbs. Go to the hospitals and the
insane asylums, and see those wrecks of humanity, almost soulless
men and women, drivelling idiots, and sickening masses of
corruption. Go to many a sick bedside, in palace or in hovel, in
this great city, and you may see how sin is punished by an
outraged God. And, though you yourself could not trace the fever
that blighted you for many long weeks to any natural cause, you
know that you deserved it all. Your alarmed conscience did not
fail to tell you that there were crimes of your life that
demanded retribution. Your overweening pride, your ungovernable
anger, has been humbled in the dust. Your days are shortened
because of your disobedience and cruelty to your parents.
The money you have stolen and would not restore has been wrested
from you by the heavy charges of your illness. Your disorderly
appetites and lusts are now punished with compulsory and
exhausting fasts from all food. "He hath struck you as being
wicked, in open sight; who as it were on purpose hath revolted
from Him, and would not understand His ways: so that you have
caused the cry of the needy to come up before Him, and He has
heard the voice of the poor." [Footnote 109]

    [Footnote 109: Job xxxiv. 26, 28.]

You thought in your sin that you were stronger than God. Now He
has rebuked you by sorrow on the sick bed, and has made all your
bones to wither. Bread is become abominable to you, and to your
soul the meat which before you desired. You have trampled on
God's holy law; you would not go to Mass to worship Him. Now,
though you would gladly go any distance, and suffer any pain to
be present at it, you are denied that joy and consolation. You
are as one upon whom the church doors are closed, for whom the
altar is thrown down, and the priest departed. "In whatsoever a
man sins," says the Holy Scripture, "in that also shall he be


Sickness has come upon you. Why? In mercy, God sees how
indifferent you have become to Him. He sees how your soul has
become absorbed in worldly things. Your heart is following after
strange gods, and your footsteps are leading down to hell. As
Eliu said to Job, "Your guardian angel has spoken to God for you,
and said, Deliver him, that he may not go down to corruption."
and God in mercy has heard his prayers, and your way is stopped.
It is because God loves you, and would save you, that this has
come upon you. In the days of pain, and during the long, feverish
nights, you will remember God. In your anguish you will turn to
Him for comfort, and in your fear you will put your trust in Him.
This world has had too much of your heart. On a sick bed you will
be able to judge how much it is worth. You will condemn the
vanity of your life. The past will be repented of. New
resolutions will be made. You will come back to health with a
refreshed and chastened spirit. What the friend of Job said to
him, you will say of yourself: "My flesh is consumed with
punishments, that I may return to the days of my youth. I will
pray to God, and He will be gracious to me: and I shall see His
face with joy. When I look upon men, I shall say, I have sinned,
and indeed I have offended, and I have not received what I
deserved, hath delivered my soul from going into destruction,
that it may live and see the light." [Footnote 110]

    [Footnote 110: Job xxxiii. 25-28.]


Yes, my dear brethren, I think this is the cause of a great deal
of the sickness that is sent upon us. The fever, the cholera, the
accident, are good preachers, and they make themselves heard. I
do not wonder, then, to see men compelled to listen to their
threatening tones, and their souls terrified at their menacing
gestures of death, and their eloquent descriptions of the coffin
and the grave. The words of God's appointed preacher fall
unheeded upon their ears. As long as they have strength enough to
hear us, they have courage enough to disobey us. But God shows
them a vision of a newly made grave, and causes their feet to
totter upon its brink, that they may not go down into it

O blessed sickness! how many wandering souls have you not brought
back to a forgotten God! How many almost lost have you not
snatched from the jaws of hell! God is a kind and thoughtful
Father to us, when we often think Him a hard and cruel Master.
Like a surgeon, the deeper and more hidden the wound, the more
resolutely does he cut down upon it, and lay it open, in order to
effect a radical cure. He chastises us in mercy here, that He may
spare us at His judgment-seat in the day of His wrath.


Why are you sick, you who have no grievous crimes to expiate--you
whose whole heart has belonged to God this many a day? Because
you are the object of His special graces, and a chosen vessel of
election. What is the secret of this apparent contradiction? God
wishes to try you, and prove your constancy. Not that He doubts
you. On the contrary, He knows how true your heart is. He has
every confidence in your fidelity. But He wishes to glorify that
fidelity. He wishes to give you a chance to show that you can
trust Him in the darkness as well as in the light. He strikes
you, that you may have glorious wounds to show at the last day.
Do you not know that to suffer for any one is to give a better
proof of love than to confer favors and benefits? You have done a
good deal for God, I know. He does not forget it. He asks you to
give up that which it is the hardest thing in the world to
sacrifice--your health. It seems the most unreasonable thing to
sacrifice. Your friends and neighbors pity you. They know how
much good you were able to do when you were strong and well. They
regret to see your usefulness cut off. That usefulness was your
constant self-sacrifice for the good of your neighbor. They would
like to see that go on. They forget that God wants you to do a
little self-sacrifice for Him, for Him alone, just as if there
were no one in existence except you and He in the whole universe.
This is why you are sick and suffering.
Rejoice, then, O Christian sufferer! and bear your cross, not
only with patience and resignation, but with holy joy and a
thankful heart. Your labors are accepted in His sight, and only
this is yet wanting to you--the merit of suffering for Him.

My brethren, this is, I well know, a strange doctrine in the ears
of the world, and especially to the unbelieving world around us
in our day. Meritorious suffering is something which our
Protestant friends not only do not comprehend, but laugh at, so
that to most of them, even the very passion and death of our Lord
is an enigma. They may believe it, but it is an unreasonable
belief on their part, for they ridicule the very principle upon
which its reasonableness is founded.

The Catholic Church teaches us that there is a merit in
suffering, in voluntary mortification, in fasting and abstinence,
in giving up the world, its friendships and its pleasures; that
it is meritorious and pleasing to God for the priest and the
virgin to deny themselves the joys and comforts of the married
state; in a word, that God is glorified as well by suffering as
by act. This is her principle. It is the only principle which can
give any reasonable explanation of the atoning sacrifice of our
Lord, and to deny it is to deny Christ.

Accidental, or rather Providential, suffering, such as we have in
sickness, is turned to the same account, and sanctified by our
offering it to God in the spirit of sacrifice; for it is not in
the act of suffering itself, but in the will, that merit is


Now, my brethren, you see in what spirit we should receive and
endure sickness. The will should accept it at once, calmly,
willingly, without murmur or complaint. It is God's will. That
should be sufficient. Our own will must respond and make an
entire and generous offering of it. In the beginning of sickness,
then, let us say, O my God! I accept this at your hands with all
the pain I shall suffer, whatever may be the reason you have so
willed it, in satisfaction for my sins, as an admonition to lead
a better life, and as a happy chance to suffer something for your
sake in union with the sufferings of my Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. Help me by your grace to profit by it as you desire.

While the sickness lasts, let us often look back upon God, as a
gallant knight upon a perilous journey thinks upon his liege
lord, whose behests are his law, and whose honor is in his hands,
renewing again and again our first fervent offering and oath of
fidelity. There will be times when we need to think upon
God--times of trial and temptation, when nothing but the thought
of God will support us. For there are moments of suffering, when
our nearest and dearest friends are dumb in our presence; when
the friendly hand, uncertain, stops and hesitates before us,
fearing lest too rudely it may draw aside the veil that shrouds
our anguish--agonizing moments when all human thought and
language dies upon the threshold.
Happy the soul who then knows whither to turn for that longed-for
comfort which the world in its weakness cannot give! Happy is he
who has learned the secret of sanctifying suffering! For such the
Lord's words have a meaning: "Blessed are they that mourn: for
they shall be comforted."

These thoughts and the lessons they teach appear to my mind not
inappropriate to the season through which we are passing. Nature
is putting on her autumn garb of sombre tints, telling us that
her strength and beauty are passing away, and that her days of
brightness are declining. The woods, once vocal with the song of
birds, now begin to look lonely and deserted. Their stillness is
broken only by the rustling fall of the dry and withered leaves,
like the stealthy and hushed footsteps heard in the sick chamber.
The sighing of the winds through the branches robbed of their
crown of verdure is mournful in the ears of the listener, as the
low, dreamy moanings in a sick man's sleep. They both speak of
decay and whisper of death. Of those of us, my brethren, for whom
God is preparing the couch of sickness, against whose sight the
light of day will be shut out, and upon whose prostrate form the
shadows of suffering will soon fall, some will rise and walk
forth in the warm sunshine of a hopeful spring, and some, like
the fallen leaves, will never flourish again, but lie, like them,
to crumble, decay, and mingle with the dust.
Their white pall of the winter snow shall also be ours. The
fierce winter storm shall howl its doleful requiem over our heads
as it passes by, but we shall not heed it. The earth shall smile
in beauty again, but not for us.

Oh! be it for us as it may--God knoweth! it will be well for us
to have thought upon sickness, and to have prepared our souls for
the trial. If health be again granted to us, we shall return to
it again all the better for having known how to receive it and
how to improve its time. If not, then, when our name shall have
become a memory, and our form a vision of the never-returning
past, we shall look back from the further shore of the dark river
of death over which we have passed, and be glad that we learned
how to lean upon God in those last dreadful hours in life, glad
that we offered to Him beforehand the willing sacrifice of health
and strength and life, and thus ascended from the altar of the
bed of suffering, as a victim of acceptable merit in the sight of
Him who rewards, more than tongue can tell, the least we ever do
or suffer for His sake.



               Sermon XXI.

          Thoughts For Advent.

    (For The Third Sunday Of Advent.)

          Philippians iv. 8.

  "__For the rest, brethren,
   whatsoever things are true,
   whatsoever things are modest,
   whatsoever things are just,
   whatsoever things are holy,
   whatsoever things are amiable,
   whatsoever things are of good repute;
   if there be any virtue,
   if there be any praise of discipline,
   think on these things__."

The Christian is so deeply impressed with the truth, that a time
will come when his faith will be changed to sight, his hope be
realized in reward, and his charity be perfected in the enjoyment
of all that is good, that he may be said to have this thought
always uppermost in his mind. It regulates his conduct, consoles
him in affliction, cheers him in the hour of darkness and of
doubt, and puts in his mouth and hands the words and deeds of
encouragement to his fellows. It is a magnetic thought, which,
amid the storms and tempests of life, and through all its weary
wanderings, keeps one's heart ever turned towards God and
This blessed time for which we are all looking is the coming of
the Lord, the manifestation and glorious consummation of the
Kingdom of God. As the Apostle expresses it: "Looking for the
blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ." [Footnote 111]

    [Footnote 111: Ep. Titus ii. 13.]

The holy season of Advent brings this truth more strongly before
us, and directs our thoughts to it by the Gospel prophecies of
the second advent of Christ, and by the warnings to prepare for
it which St. Paul gives so often in his epistles. The words of
the text follow immediately the admonition of the great Apostle
which the Church has chosen for the third Sunday of Advent: "The
Lord is nigh." Let us to-day, then, think on these things, and
endeavor to make these thoughts profitable.

I. __Whatsoever things are true__. Here is a thought worth
thousands. We look around us, and see so much insincerity,
duplicity, and double-dealing; we meet so many who will overreach
us with a friendly smile on their countenance, and cheat us
without a blush, that we are tempted both to exclaim with David,
in haste, "All men are liars," and to descend from our Christian
stand-point of high integrity and noble frankness, in order to
cope with the world after its own fashion, and meet it with its
own weapons.
But it is an unfortunate day for the Christian when he begins to
forget or disbelieve in what is true, and to think on what is
false. His mind is quickly pervaded with a subtle poison, which
induces a meanness towards his fellow-men--a distrust of their
good faith, and ends in a practical disbelief of the Providence
of God. To him such unmerited success as attends the corrupt and
swindling practices of the day is at first astonishing. The
wicked seem to have it all their own way, and profit by the
delay, and despite the coming of the hour when the secrets of all
hearts shall be revealed before the judgment-seat of Christ. His
Christian simplicity and candor gives way little by little before
the attacks of this lying spirit; his faith in truth, honesty,
and pure motives is gone, and his practice is not slow to follow
his faith.

It is a trite saying that the world is full of humbug, but it is
a degrading thought; and to accept this saying as a universal
truth, or as the guide of his actions, is unworthy of the
Christian man. I envy not the man who acts on the despicable
maxim, "Treat every man as a rogue until he has proved himself
honest." Rather, a thousand times, would I trust in the power of
truth, be true to myself, and, if need be, suffer the loss
thereby; for he who has cheated me is the loser in the end, while
I have preserved, for a small price, that which is above value,
my Christian honor and loyalty to truth.


Sincerity and candor are not dead, neither has humbug killed
them. There are many true people in the world, be there ever so
many hypocrites; and truth is always living, real,
indestructible, for it lives with a divine, immortal life.
Remembering our blessed Lord's words, then, let our "speech be
always yea, yea, and nay, nay; for that which is over and above
these is of evil." [Footnote 112] Whatsoever things are true, let
us think on these.

    [Footnote 112: St. Matt. v. 37.]

From another point of view, what a thought that is for those who
are out of the pale of the Catholic Church! Have they the true
faith? Have they now that truth which shall stand the trial at
the coming of Jesus Christ? Do they consider their present state
a true one in all respects--true before their conscience, and
without doubt before their intelligence? Do they regard their
religion as a sure religion? What a serious thought it ought to
be for many of them who are even now struggling with the strong
power of duty, which bids them make their calling and election
sure, by embracing, at all hazards, and with ready obedience and
trust in God, that truth in the Holy Catholic Church, without
which they would not now dare to die.
Oh! how earnestly, sincerely, and courageously ought they to
listen to the Apostle's words, and think upon those things which
are true!

There is one of the eight beatitudes for those who think upon the
truth. It is the first: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven"--the poor in spirit; the simple
in heart and mind; a heart and mind to which cunning, duplicity,
or falsehood is both strange and repulsive. Theirs is the kingdom
of heaven which Christ will bring at His coming, who are poor and
humble in spirit, receiving God's truth as a little child, and
not rejecting it with high-minded and arrogant self-will, or with
proud disdain. Brethren, whatsoever things are true; let us think
on these things during the Holy Advent time.

II. __Whatsoever things are modest__. Modesty is a marked and
well-known characteristic of the Christian. No one would ever
think of using the expressions, "heathen modesty" or "Mohammedan
modesty," simply because it is neither a heathen nor a Mohammedan
virtue. The Apostle evidently uses it here in the sense of
reservedness of action which springs from true humility of heart.
This displays itself in a most pleasing manner to us in the
persons of those who, though endowed with some remarkable talent
or accomplishment, yet, through the Christian humility they
possess, are not on that account arrogant and puffed up, but bear
their honors meekly, and with gentle, unassuming manners.


So with their natural gifts. God has given to some, more than to
others, beauty of face or form, or some personal qualification
which excites our admiration or affection. And in those who are
thus favored, how much all this beauty is enhanced by the
softened halo which Christian modesty and reserve throws about
them! Who would pretend to compare the beauty of the haughty and
sensual Magdalen, flaunting her profane charms in the streets of
Capharnaum, the theme for the toasts of libertines, to the beauty
of the saintly and almost angelic penitent, bathing the feet of
Jesus with her tears, and wiping them with her dishevelled hair!

He whose thoughts are modest cultivates an unselfish spirit.
Alas! what with our fund of pride, our intolerant self-will, and
ungovernable temper, how much we need to think on whatsoever
things are modest! How prone we are to stand upon our rights; how
ready to quarrel with and grumble about our neighbors! A
profitable thought for the Advent time, St. Paul urged this
especially: "Let your modesty be known of all men." And why so?
Because "the Lord is nigh." Yes, He is nigh who taught us a
similar lesson: "Learn of Me; for I am meek and humble of heart."
[Footnote 113]

    [Footnote 113: St. Matt. xi. 29.]


At His coming He will recognize for His own flock, not the
wolves, but the sheep; not the bold-faced and giddy votaries of
fashion and pleasure, but the meek and humble Christians, whose
beauty is the beauty of their holiness. It is not the useless
thorns and briers, which no one can approach without being
wounded, but the hidden and inoffensive wheat that will be
gathered into the garner of the Lord.

There are two beatitudes for the modest-minded--the second and
the third: "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the
earth." And again; "Blessed are the mourners: for they shall be
comforted." For the meek and modest, who possess as though they
had not; who teach as though they learned; who rule as though
they obeyed; whose beauty of body and soul shines among men as
though they but reflected that of others; whose inheritance is
renunciation, and whose wealth is in their gifts; for them is the
whole earth reserved, in its beauty and its glory, at the coming
of the Lord. For the blessed mourners, whose perfection in
Christian modesty has led them to fly all worldly honors and
escape its flatteries; to exchange the gay paths of life for the
tearful road of penance, and whose contrite and humble hearts God
has promised not to despise--for them is dawning an everlasting
day of comfort.


III. __Whatsoever things are just__. The just man always
desires to act honorably and fairly in his dealings. The
Christian is required to give anxious thought as well to the
obligations he has contracted towards his neighbor. The closing
year naturally brings these obligations to mind; the debts that
are owing, the promises made, and the claims for support which
others hold against us; and it is a mark of the good,
conscientious Catholic that he is anxious about these things, and
is earnestly striving to discharge them.

A wise thought for Advent. For now the Lord is nigh, the day of
His Judgment approaches, when all wrongs will be made right. The
unjust escape payment here, through some quibble in the law, or
through practices of chicanery and partial testimony of which
they take an unfair advantage, but whose unpaid debts and hidden
thefts will not escape the memory of their righteous Judge on the
last day. Let our thoughts be, then, to render quickly unto every
man his due, "because the Lord cometh, because he cometh to judge
the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people
with His truth."


He who thinks upon whatsoever is just will think upon the poor.
It is the word of God, that "the just taketh notice of the poor,
but the wicked is ignorant of them." [Footnote 114]

    [Footnote 114: Prov. xxix. 7.]

God has given to the poor and needy rights which no Christian man
can ignore. They are committed to him by his Master, and their
Friend and Protector, to be taken care of, to be thought about,
to be sought out and ministered unto. Oh! a thousand times
happier is he who in Advent time thinks upon the poor: when
winter, with his icy blasts, is making the poor shiver with cold
and nakedness; when the poor man goes sadly home to find the
cupboard bare and his little ones moaning for hunger; when lonely
widows and friendless girls, whose homes are in hovels and
cheerless garrets, sit up far into the night with no fire in the
stove, warming their weary and chilled fingers over the candle,
that they may be able to ply the needle that keeps them from
starvation. Oh! blessed is that man who, knowing no hunger or
thirst for his body, yet hungers and thirsts in his soul after
justice for the poor; whose thoughts revert to them when the
weather grows colder, and the storm howls more fiercely, and can
say when he lays his head upon his pillow at night: "Thank God, I
have not forgotten them to-day!"


You all know the beatitude in store for those who think on what
is just. It is the fourth: "Blessed are they who hunger and
thirst after justice: for they shall be filled." Yes, God will
reward them plenteously. The Psalmist says of them: "The just
shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow up like the
cedar of Libanus; they shall increase to a fruitful old age, that
they may show that the Lord our God is righteous." [Footnote 115]

    [Footnote 115: Ps. xci. 13, 15.]
    [USCCB:  Ps. xcii. 13, 15.]

IV. __Whatsoever things are holy__. The vice of the world is
irreligion. Its votaries do not believe in sanctity. Unholy in
their lives, so are their thoughts. They are ever ready to scoff
at holy persons and things, and to stigmatize the pious as
hypocrites. But the Christian is slow to suspect evil. To his
pure mind all things are pure. His religion, which is the law of
his life, he knows to be replete with holiness; that it is holy
in doctrine, holy in its moral teachings, and glorious in the
great multitude of its saints. And just so far as his religion
guides him, and exercises its hallowing influence over him, just
so far will he delight to think upon what is holy and pure. There
are times when the evil we are forced to witness becomes a severe
trial to us. Scandals are now and then brought to light which
grieve the saints, bring the blush of shame to the cheek of the
good Christian, and not unfrequently destroy the faith of the
"Scandals must needs come," said our Saviour; but is it,
therefore, necessary for us to think about them and brood over
them? No; there is good enough for our thoughts, good enough for
us to glory in, and for which to praise God. The Church never
bears her name in vain. She is always the __Holy__ Catholic
Church; and we should rather be striving to prove that holiness
in our own lives, "pressing forward towards the mark, for the
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," than stay and
linger on the way, losing our time in mourning an evil we see and
cannot remove.

There is a beatitude for those whose thoughts are holy. It is the
sixth: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God."
The pure-minded, the holy in heart, are those who are most dear
to God. Brethren, this is a blessing worth winning, and it is
easily won. Remember that the Lord is nigh. Keep your thoughts in
the presence of God, and you will prepare your hearts and minds
to see Him in the clear vision of His glory, which is promised to
the clean of heart.

V. __Whatsoever things are amiable__. To the Christian there
is something sacred in all the beauties of nature and of grace.
In everything he sees the hand of God, and all the acts of
Providence are admirable, and he does not need to be told that
they are the best that could happen.
One who has such thoughts is sure to be a kind-hearted soul. The
world wears easily with him, for he sees only what is pleasant,
is long mindful of favors, and quickly forgets and forgives
injuries. If his friends happen to be at a disagreement with him,
or even among one another, it is a positive pain to him. He is
uneasy until it is all made up again. It gives him unfeigned
delight to bring about a reconciliation between people at
variance. Oh! charming and beautiful is such a soul! Sweet is the
interior peace which it enjoys. He is filled with thoughts of
kindness and gentleness because he thinks on those things that
are amiable.

There is a beatitude for such. It is the seventh: "Blessed are
the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Let us strive, dear brethren, to merit this blessing during holy
Advent time, when we are preparing to meet our Lord, who came to
bring peace on earth to men of good-will.

VI. __Whatsoever things are of good repute__. I love to see
good honest pride. It tells me that there is a desire not only to
be respected by men, but to stand well and blameless before God.
How much sin would be avoided if Christians would only be more
thoughtful of the character and name they bear! And how many
could easily be rescued from shame and degrading despair if one
could inspire them with true self-respect!
One day, there came to a priest a young man in the lowest state
of moral cowardice from drunkenness. He thought it was of no use
to try to retrieve himself, and his friends looked upon him as a
hopeless case. The priest, however, did not say one word of
reproach to him. He did not need that, poor fellow; he was down
enough already. But he shook him warmly and encouragingly by the
hand, and said to him, "Why, my dear sir, you have only to think
what I believe about you, and in three months time you will be
one of the most respectable members of the church." He heard
himself called "sir," and "my __dear__ sir," and it would have
delighted you to see the change that came over him. He brightened
up immediately, his eyes filled with tears, and, returning the
pressure of the priest's hand, he said, with a voice choked with
emotion, "So I will, father"; and he departed full of hope, and
strengthened to make good his resolution. Thoughts of good repute
will shut the mouths of backbiters and slanderers, and will
school the tongue to speak well of every one. The love of our own
good repute should teach us to be merciful to others. For, if
there was one who knew all our sins as we ourselves know them,
and threatened to expose us before the world, how piteously would
we cry to him for mercy, and beseech him to spare the good name
we hold!
He who would have that mercy shown to him, let him show it to
others, and bury the knowledge he possesses of their shame in
that deep oblivion and secrecy in which he would wish to hide his

There is a beatitude for such. It is the fifth: "Blessed are the
merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."

VII. __If there be any virtue, if there be any praise of
discipline__. The presence and influence of the Holy Ghost in
the Church has infused into her members a spirit whose manifest
workings have made the world stand in awe. It is Christian
fortitude. This has enabled the martyr to smile in the midst of
torture, and changed the dungeon into an ante-chamber of heaven.
This has nerved the missionary to bid an eternal farewell to
home, friends, and kindred, and carried him with a fearless heart
into the haunt of the savage, to the shore of the cannibal, and
to the land of the relentless and cruel pagan who gloats over the
horrible death he makes a Christian die. This it is that gives
strength to timid, weak woman to put on the habit of sacrifice,
and enter the pestilential wards of the hospital with a cheerful
step, and watch through the long and weary night by the bedside
of the dying stranger, whose contagious disease carries death to
her own brave heart.
This gives her courage to face the cannon's mouth, and stand amid
shot and shell ready to bind up the bleeding wounds of the
soldier, or to waste and wear her life away in seeking out,
teaching, and reforming the vilest outcasts upon the streets.
This it is that covers the Little Sister of the Poor with a
panoply of heroism as she goes from door to door begging for the
superannuated and bedridden wretches whom she has picked up out
of the gutters, or from the purlieus and filthy alleys of the
city, degraded, friendless, and miserable from want or disease;
and it wreathes her head with a halo of glory as she sits down
with a merry laugh to eat the scraps of food which they have
left, or puts on the thin and ragged dress which is not warm
enough or good enough for her dear old poor.

This Christian fortitude, this heavenly virtue, this divine power
of discipline and mastery over souls, is seen in the earnestness
and the fearlessness of all the deeds of charity and mercy, of
all the admonitions and exhortations, and even of the threats and
warnings of God's Holy Church to the nations of the earth. She is
able to teach her children to carry out the lesson of the Lord:
"Fear not them that kill the body, and after that have no more
that they can do." [Footnote 116]

    [Footnote 116: St. Luke xii. 4.]


Oh! let us think a little upon this virtue, this discipline
worthy of all praise, and it will lead us to be more trusting and
loyal to the Church, and also to obey her commands the more
readily who, like her Divine Founder, "speaks as one having
authority." A thought for the Holy Advent time: for at the bottom
of it all lies the grand reason of the Church's existence and
work. She prepares men for the coming of the Lord. She is looking
for the establishment and triumph of the kingdom of our Lord on
the earth. The principle of her actions, which she learned at the
foot of her Master's cross and with which she inspires her
children, is this: Sacrifice for love; suffering for justice's

She wins a blessing for it. It is the last: "Blessed are they who
suffer persecution for justice's sake: for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven." I have not brought the beatitudes to mind in
connection with these Advent thoughts without reason. St. Paul
has a promise of beatitude to those who think on these things--a
comprehensive beatitude, the sum of all happiness: "And the God
of peace shall be with you" [Footnote 117]--a blessing, my dear
brethren, which I hope we may all enjoy when the coming Christmas
shall bring the angelic salutation to our ears: "__Pax hominibus
bonæ voluntatis!__"

    [Footnote 117: Phil. iv. 9.]



              Sermon XXII.

           Fraternal Charity.

 (For The Festival Of St. John The Evangelist.)

        I Epistle St. John ii. 10.

  "__He that loveth his brother abideth in the light,
   and there is no scandal in him__."

We celebrate to-day the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, the
Apostle who is distinguished in Holy Scripture as the disciple
whom Jesus loved, and who is represented as leaning on the bosom
of the Lord at the Last Supper. Now, we may ask what is the
reason the Lord showed this marked preference and especial
affection for St. John above the other Apostles? It must have
been because St. John was more like the Lord than any of the
others, for God must always love us in proportion as we approach
His divine image and likeness. The more we put on Christ--that
is, the more we are clothed with the thoughts, ideas, feelings,
and dispositions of Christ, the more is Christ attracted to us in


Now, what was the characteristic virtue of this great Apostle,
which rendered him so like to Christ and so dear to Him? It was
his tender and overflowing love to his neighbor--that is, to all
his fellow-men. He is pre-eminently the Apostle of fraternal
charity, or of the love of one's neighbor.

Nothing, then, will please St. John better today than to speak of
the excellence of this virtue, which was the continual subject of
his discourse.

What, dear brethren, is the end and object for which we live in
this world? Undoubtedly it is to acquire the love of God. This
divine love will render us for ever blessed, and we shall be
blessed just in the proportion we have acquired it. The greatest
saints are those who have loved God best; the least in heaven are
those who have loved Him least; but all must love God in some
degree, or there is no place in heaven for them.

Now, I assert that the easiest, shortest, and most efficient road
to the love of God is the love of our neighbor, or of our
fellow-man, who is designated by the word neighbor. I assert it
on the authority of St. John himself, who has laid it down in the
clearest manner. We read in the breviary of to-day this beautiful
narrative of St. Jerome:

  "The blessed John the Evangelist, whilst he was living at
  Ephesus, in his extreme old age, was scarcely able to be
  brought to the church by the hands of his disciples, and could
  not weave together many words into a sentence. He did nothing
  at the different assemblies but repeat the same words, 'My
  little children, love one another.' At last the disciples and
  brethren who were present, getting tired of always hearing the
  same thing, said: Master, why do you always repeat this? He
  replied in a sentiment worthy of St. John: 'Because it is the
  precept of the Lord, and if this alone be observed it is


How beautiful is this! "Little children, love one another," and,
"This alone is sufficient." We must love one another with the
sincerity, the artlessness, of little children. There must be no
hypocrisy about our love; it must be genuine, and flow from the
right fountain. And what is this fountain? It is the love of God.
Our love of our fellow-men must proceed from the love of God. We
must love him for the sake of God, and because God wishes us to
love him, and because he represents God to us.

There is a love which is not on account of God, but, on the
contrary, opposed to God, and which destroys the love of God in
us. A parent, for example, is distractedly fond of a child
because the child is beautiful, or talented, or amiable, and this
child is consequently indulged and spoiled; is educated for show
and vanity, or, to sum it all up, exclusively for this
short-lived world and its object.
Such love as this does not lead to God, but turns the soul away
from Him. With passionate eagerness it fixes it on the present,
as its last end and chief good, and quenches its thirst for God,
who is the only last end and chief good for which it was created.

We must love our neighbor, because we see in him an immortal
soul, created to the image and likeness of God, and destined to
participate at last in the glory and happiness of God. We must
love our neighbor, because he has been bought by the blood of
Jesus Christ, his God, who was willing to lay down His life for
him, after thirty years of toil and hardship, suffering the agony
of the cross.

Now, dear brethren, let me explain this a little more
practically. You see a person who is in some respects repugnant
to you. His manners and ways of acting are not pleasant to you;
indeed, some of his actions are very disagreeable. Well, then, if
you are actuated in loving your neighbor by the love of God, you
will not allow your mind to dwell on these things so far as to
conceive a dislike or hatred, but, on the contrary, you will rise
above such thoughts, by considering his relation to God. You will
see God in him, and this will keep your mind sweet, gentle, and
kind towards him.


This is what our Lord says: "You have heard what has been said:
Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy; but I say unto
you, Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you, and pray
for them that persecute and calumniate you, that you may be the
children of your Father who is in heaven; who maketh His sun to
rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the
unjust. For if you love those that love you, what reward shall
you have? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute
your brethren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathen the
same? Be ye perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is
perfect." [Footnote 118]

    [Footnote 118: St. Matt. v. 43-48.]

There, Christians, is the doctrine of our Lord and Master, Jesus
Christ. If it is not yours also, is it proper to call you by His
name, Christians? Should you not rather be called, according to
His way of naming, heathens and publicans?

But how many objections are raised against this plain and
heavenly doctrine? How much repugnance and fighting against it!
You see a poor man in the street, or in his miserable shanty. He
is ragged and dirty, for rags and dirt are often necessary
accompaniments of poverty. Do you see in him Jesus Christ? No;
only an object of disgust. Instead of relieving him, you begin to
reason. Why does he not go to work?
He is idle and shiftless. If he is relieved, he will be just the
same. Instead of helping him, let him be forced by stress of
poverty and starvation to find work. And after all, the poor man
has done his best, and at least should not have to bear
undeserved reproach, as well as his poverty.

My dear brethren, how is it possible that we should have this
right love of our neighbor, which is supernatural, unless we love
him for God's sake; unless we hunger and thirst to please God and
acquire His justice, and unless we pray constantly to God to
grant us this wonderful effect of His goodness?

Let us understand, then, that, if we will acquire the love of
God, we must pray for the love of our neighbor, and then act it
out in all sincerity whenever an opportunity offers itself to us.
St. John tells us in his epistle: "How can we love God whom we
have not seen, when we love not our neighbor whom we have seen?"
This text deserves an explanation. You desire to love God more;
you feel that this love is of more value to you than anything
else; this prompts you to fall upon your knees and beg earnestly
for it. You say My God, give me Thy love; give me a great decree
of this love. Then comes the natural thought What shall I do to
acquire this treasure? How shall I conduct myself and order my
life, so as constantly to preserve and increase it?
If God would only show Himself to me, and I could behold His
beauty, and experience His goodness, then I should know how to
love Him. Why does He not reveal Himself?

But all is dark, all is silent. God is hidden: we cannot form a
picture of Him in our minds. We have never seen God at any time,
and we shall not see Him as long as we remain in the flesh.

But God and our Lord Jesus Christ walk the streets every day. We
meet them whenever we go abroad. How is that? It is in the person
of every one we meet, particularly of the poor, the miserable,
and the despised. The promise is absolute: "Inasmuch as ye did it
unto one of these, ye did it unto Me." Love one of these poor
men, entertain a sentiment of compassion for him, and you have
made a genuine act of love of God. Entertain an habitual love for
him, and respect him for the sake of the One he represents, and
you will form the habit of God's love in your soul.

When St. Martin cut his cloak in two, and gave half of it to a
poor man he met on the roadside, our Lord appeared to him the
same night with the half cloak upon his shoulders, and said:
"Martin the catechumen (St. Martin was at that time under
instruction for his baptism) has clothed Me in this garment."


In the account of the last judgment, everything is described as
being settled on this one principle. "Then the King shall say to
them that shall be on the right hand: Come, ye blessed of My
Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat: I was
thirsty, and you gave Me to drink: I was a stranger, and ye took
Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: sick, and ye visited Me. I was
in prison, and ye came to Me. Then shall the just answer: Lord,
when did we see Thee hungry, and fed Thee; thirsty, and gave Thee
drink? and when did we see Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or
naked, and covered Thee? or when did we ever see Thee sick or in
prison, and visit Thee? And the King answering, shall say to
them: Amen, I say to you, as long as ye did it unto the least of
these, my brethren, ye did it unto Me." [Footnote 119]

    [Footnote 119: St. Matt. xxv. 34-40.]

This is what the saints understood and fully realized. St.
Catharine of Sienna found an old woman sick of the leprosy. She
was so disgusting and loathsome an object that everybody had
deserted her, and she was perishing of neglect and starvation.
The saint gladly took charge of her, cleansed her sores, prepared
her food, and lavished upon her every possible attention.
The mother of the saint was not so charitable. She heard of her
daughter's proceedings, and became very angry. In her fear of the
infection, she forbade her to attend the sick woman any longer.
But St. Catharine pleaded our Lord's case so strongly that her
mother was obliged to yield. Then the old woman, overcome by her
miseries, took a dislike to her, and repaid her kindness by a
constant torrent of the foulest abuse. St. Catharine, in spite of
all this, never relaxed her kindness a moment. As a further
trial, she caught the infection, and her hands were all covered
with the loathsome disorder. But nothing deterred her from her
purpose until she had the satisfaction of receiving the last
breath of this poor creature, who died in sentiments of the
deepest contrition. Then the saint finished her work by burying
her with her own hands, and, as she cast the earth into the
grave, those hands became instantly freed from all traces of
disease, and became white and more beautiful than ever before.

If we love for God's sake, we shall love all, and no one will be
excluded from our love. Love will flow from our hearts, like the
water from a perpetual, inexhaustible fountain, which makes all
the soil it waters fertile, producing rich fruits and beautiful
flowers, These fruits and flowers of divine charity are well
enumerated by St. Paul: "Charity is patient, is kind: charity
envieth not, dealeth not perversely: is not puffed up; is not
ambitious; seeketh not her own; is not provoked to anger;
thinketh no evil: rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the
truth: beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all
things; endureth all things." [Footnote 120]

    [Footnote 120: I Cor. xiii. 4-7.]


Dear brethren, let us reflect on this virtue of fraternal
charity, and resolve to increase in it. Let us be more pleasant
and kinder in our way of speaking. Let us look more kindly upon
others, and their ways of acting. Let us endeavor to maintain
towards all such a manner of speaking and acting as we suppose
our Lord Jesus Christ to have had, and, altogether, be more
amiable than we have ever been before. Indeed, let us set no
bounds within our own hearts to our love of our fellow-men.

Every action of love, no matter how small, will increase the love
of God in our hearts. Everyone will be another stroke of the oar
which drives forward the little boat of our soul toward the
kingdom of heaven. Every one will be an increase of merit and of
eternal reward.

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