Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY IN LENT (LAETARE)
The Introit of this day's
Mass, which begins with the word Laetare, is as follows:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her; rejoice
with joy you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be
filled from the breasts of your consolation. (Isai: LXVI. 10. 11.)
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into
the house of the Lord. (Ps. CXXI. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who justly suffer
for our deeds may be relieved by the conso lation of Thy grace.
(Gat. IV. 22-31.) Brethren, it is written that Abraham had two sons;
the one by a bond-woman and the other by a free-woman. But he who
was of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh; but he of
the free-woman was by promise: which things are said by an allegory.
For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering
unto bondage, which is Agar: for Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which
hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage
with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which
is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren that bearest
not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for many are
the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But
as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that
was after the spirit, so also it is now. But what saith the scripture?
Cast out the bond-woman and her son: for the son of the bond-woman
shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So, then, brethren,
we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free: by the
freedom wherewith Christ hath made us free.
It was the common custom, in the days of the patriarchs, for a man
to have more than one wife. This was permitted by God, partly because
they and their descendants would hardly have been satisfied with
one marriage, (Matt. XIX. 8.) partly because bigamy was a means
of promoting the increase of the people of Israel, typical of the
future increase of the children of God. Thus Abraham had two wives,
who had each a son; of these Ismael was born to Abraham from his
bond-woman Agar, in the natural way; the other, Isaac, the son of
the free wife Sara, was born in a supernatural manner according
to the promise, (Gen. XVIII. 11. 14. ) that she by the grace of
God, although aged, would give birth to a son. These two women with
their sons were types, as St. Paul says, of the two Testaments:
Agar the bond-woman typified the Old, Sara, the free-woman, the
New Testament; the son of Agar, the Jews, the son of Sara, the Christians;
for the Jews, like Ismael, are descendants of Abraham by natural
descent, but the Christians, like Isaac, by grace. The Old Testament
gave birth only to servants; for the Jews obeyed the commandments
of God through fear of punishment, and in hope of temporal reward;
the New Testament, the Jerusalem from above. that is, the Christian
Church, gives birth to children who willingly and through love obey
the commandments of God. Although the Christian Church, the New
Jerusalem, chosen from heathenism, was in the beginning barren,
as was Sara, she gives birth, by the grace of God and through His
apostles, to more children than the Jewish Church, which was so
long the Church of God, that is, more were converted to Christianity
from the Gentiles than from the Jews. The latter even hated and
persecuted the Christians, as did Ismael his brother Isaac. For
their hardness of heart they were cast out by God, like Agar and
her son; that is, after the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews were
dispersed to all parts of the world. Let us, therefore, give thanks
to God, that through Jesus we have become the free children of our
heavenly Father, who through love fulfil His holy will by which
we shall be saved.
Give me the grace, O Jesus, that by prayer and fasting, and patience
in all adversities and persecutions, I may be made less unworthy
of Thy passion; that I may not, one day, be cast out by Thee, but
become worthy of Thy divine promise and Thy eternal consolation
in the heavenly Jerusalem.
(John VI. 1-15.) At that time, Jesus went over the sea of
Galilee, which is that of Tiberias; and a great multitude followed
him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were
diseased. Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he
sat with his disciples. Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews,
was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and
seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip:
Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to
try him; for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered:
Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that
every one may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother
of Simon Peter, saith to him: There is a boy here that hath five
barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?
Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass
in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed
to them that were set down: in like manner also of the fishes, as
much as they would. And when they were filled, he said to his disciples:
Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered
up, therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the
five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had
eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had
done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into
the world. Jesus therefore when he knew that they would come to
take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain
did Christ try St. Philip?
To test his
faith and confidence; to instruct us that before seeking supernatural
means, we should first look for natural ways of providing; that
the miracle of the multiplying of the loaves should be more marvellous
to the people from having seen there was no provision; and that
we may learn to trust in God, who is a helper in due time in tribulation.
(Ps. IX. 10.)
signs did Christ make use of in this miracle, and why?
St. Matthew (XIV. 19.) He lifted up His eyes to heaven, by which
He showed that all good gifts come from above; He gave thanks, thus
teaching us to give thanks to God for all His blessings. "The
table," says St. Chrysostom, "that is approached and is
left with prayer will never know want, but the more richly yield
its gifts." He blessed the bread showing us that the divine
blessing increases all things.
did Christ require them to gather up the fragments that were left?
That they should
not be wasted or destroyed; that the greatness of the miracle should
be made evident by the quantity of the fragments; and that we might
learn to honor the gifts of God, even the most insignificant, and
if we do not ourselves need them, give them to the poor.
did Christ, after this miracle, flee from the people?
this miracle the people recognized in him the Messiah, and would
have made Him king. He wished to teach us to flee from praise and
honor, and in all our actions seek not our own, but God's glory.
gives the account of Christ providing for those who followed and
listened to Him, which is indeed consoling for the poor. God from
the beginning of the world has always cared for His own. For the
aid and comfort of His chosen people in time of famine God sent
Joseph, the son of the Patriarch Jacob, in advance into Egypt: (Gen.
XLV. 5.) for forty years He fed the children of Israel in the desert
with bread from heaven; (Deut. VIII. 2. 3.) He fed the Prophet Elias
by a raven; (III Kings VII. 6.) and thought of Daniel in the lions'
den. (Dan. XIV. 37.) In the New Testament God shows His merciful
care for His own, because in great need He fed them marvelously
through angels, men, and even animals, as we frequently see in the
lives of the saints. Truly has David said: God forsakes not the
just, I have been young, and am now old: and I have not seen the
just forsaken, nor his seed seeking bread, (PS. XXXVI. 25.) that
is, one who sincerely serves Him, and seeks before all the kingdom
o f God a n d His justice, as Christ commands. (Luke XII. 31.) Strive
to be a faithful child, and you will have God for your father, and
with King David you can cast your care upon the Lord, and He will
sustain you. You must not think it is enough to pray and trust in
God, He demands that you should use your strength to receive help,
for if any man will not work, neither let him eat. (II Thess. III.
In Thy omnipotence and goodness, O my God, I put my trust, firmly
believing that if I fear Thee, serve Thee faithfully, and avoid
evil, I shall not be abandoned in poverty, but receive many good
ON PREPARATION FOR EASTER
Now the Pasch
the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. (John VI. 4.)
If we would
sing a joyful Alleluia with the Church on the festival of Easter,
we must fulfill her desire, and prepare ourselves to celebrate it
worthily. Therefore, we should shun improper, clamorous meetings,
and retire often to pray in solitude, especially to meditate on
the bitter sufferings of our Saviour, for when man is alone, God
speaks to his heart. (Osee. II. 14.) We should carefully examine
our conscience, and consider how we stand before God, for upon this
day shall be the expiation for you, and the cleansing from all your
sins: you shall be cleansed before the Lord; for it is a Sabbath
of rest, and you shall afflict your souls, that is, by fasting,
watching, and praying. (Lev. XVI. 30-31.) From this Sunday until
Easter we should fast more strictly, give more alms to the poor
if we are able, or if poor ourselves, bear our poverty more patiently,
offering it to Christ in union with His poverty, His hunger, thirst,
&c. ; we should make a sincere and contrite confession, and
purify our heart from the old leaven of iniquity, that we may keep
the Easter meal with Christ in the unleavened bread of purity and
truth. (I Cor. V. 7. 8.) For this end we should incite ourselves
to holy desires, rise from sin, which is the death of the soul