The Church's Year
ON THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
of the Mass is the prayer of a troubled soul, entreating God for
assistance against its enemies:
unto my aid, O God: O Lord, make haste to help me: let my enemies
be confounded and ashamed, who seek my soul. Let them be turned
backward and blush for shame, who desire evils to me. (Ps. LXIX)
Almighty and merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that the faithful
do Thee homage with due and laudable service: grant, we beseech
Thee, that we may run without stumbling to the attainment of Thy
promises. Through etc.
(II Cor. III. 4-9.) Brethren, such confidence we have through Christ
towards God: not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves,
as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God, who also hath
made us fit ministers of the New Testament, not in the letter, but
in the spirit: for the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth.
Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones,
was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly
behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which
is made void: how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather
in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much
more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.
St. Paul speaks in the epistle, from which this extract is taken,
of the conversion of the Corinthians, which he accomplished not
by his own ability, but with the help of God, who made him a minister
of the New Testament, a teacher of the true religion of Christ.
The New Testament by the grace of the Holy Ghost recalls the sinner
from the death of sin, reconciles him to God, and thus enlivens
and makes him pleasing to God; whereas the letter of the Old Law,
which contains more eternal ceremonies and fewer commandments, changes
not the man, but rather destroys him, that is, threatens with death
the transgressor of the law instead of freeing him from sin and
reconciling him to God, thus permitting him to die the eternal death.
St. Paul preached the true religion of Christ, which vivifies, justifies,
and sanctifies man. If the ministry of Moses was so glorified by
God, that his countenance shone, when he returned from Mount Sinai,
where God gave him the law, how much more dignified and glorious
must be the ministry of the New Law. Learn from this to esteem the
office of preaching, and be humble like St. Paul, who trusted not
in himself but in God, to whom he ascribed all honor.
(Luke X. 23-37.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Blessed
are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you
that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that
you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you
hear, and have not heard them. And behold a certain lawyer stood
up, tempting him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess
eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how
readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy
strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And
he said to him: Thou hast answered rightly: this do, and thou shalt
live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who
is my neighbor? And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down
from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped
him, and having wounded him, went away; leaving him half dead. And
it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing
him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the
place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan, being on
his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion.
And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine;
and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took
care of him: and the next day he took out two pence, and gave to
the host, and said: Take care of him, and whatsoever, thou shalt
spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee. Which of
these three, in thy opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among
robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said
to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.
does Christ call His disciples blessed?
they had the happiness which so many patriarchs and prophets had
desired in vain, namely: of seeing Him and hearing His teaching.
Though we have not the happiness to see Jesus and hear Him, nevertheless
we are not less blessed than the apostles, since Christ pronounces
those blessed who do not see and yet believe. (John XX. 29.)
besides faith, is necessary for salvation?
we love God and our neighbor, for in these two commandments consists
the whole law. (Matt. XXII. 40.)
is our neighbor?1
man, be he an acquaintance or a stranger, poor or rich, of our faith
or of another; for the Samaritan did not ask the one who had fallen
among robbers: Who and whence are you? but considered him his neighbor,
and proved himself as such by his prompt assistance.
should we love our neighbor?
we love ourselves, that is, we should wish him everything good,
and when in necessity do to him as we would wish others to do to
us, and, on the contrary, not wish nor do to him anything that we
do not wish to be done to ourselves. In this way the Samaritan loved
his neighbor, and in this he was far superior to the priest and
can we especially practice love for our neighbor?
the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. [See instruction for
the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.] Besides which we must rejoice
at the spiritual and corporal graces of our neighbor, which God
communicates to him; we must grieve for his misfortunes, and, according
to the example of St. Paul, (I Cor. I. 4.) have compassion for him;
we must bear with the faults of our neighbor, as St. Paul again
admonishes us: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so you shall fulfil
the law of Christ. (Gal. VI. 2.)
should we love our neighbor?
should love him because God commands it; but there are also other
reasons which should induce us to do so. We are not only according
to nature brothers and sisters in Adam, but also according to grace,
in Christ, and we would have to be ashamed before animals, if we
would allow ourselves to be surpassed in the love which they bear
one to another; (Ecclus, XIII. 19.) all our neighbors are the image
and likeness of God, bought by the blood of Jesus, and are adopted
children, called to heaven, as we are; the example of Christ, who
loved us, when we were yet His enemies, (Rom. V. 10.) and gave Himself
for us unto death, ought to incite us to love them. But can we be
His disciples, if we do not follow Him, and if we do not bear in
us the mark of His disciples, i. e. the love of our neighbor? (John
XIII. 35.). Finally, the necessity of the love for our neighbor
ought to compel us, as it were, to it; for without it, we cannot
be saved. He that loveth not, says St. John, abideth in death, (I
John III. 14.) and he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth,
how can he love God whom he seeth not? (I John IV. 20.) because
he transgresses one of the greatest commandments of God, and does
not fulfil the law. (Rom. XIII, 10.)
is necessary to make the love of our neighbor meritorious?
must tend to God, that is, we must love our neighbor only in and
for God, because God commands it, and it is pleasing to Him. For
to love our neighbor on account of a natural inclination, or self-interest,
or some other still less honorable reason, is only a natural, animal
love, in no wise different from the love of the heathens; for the
heathens also love and salute those who love and salute them in
turn. (Matt. V. 46.)
O my God, Father of mercy! give me a loving and compassionate heart,
which will continually impel me to do good to my neighbor for Thy
sake, so that I may merit the same from Thy mercy.
is understood from this day's gospel in a higher and more spiritual
to the interpretation of the Fathers, our father Adam, and hence
the whole human race is to be understood by the one who had fallen
among robbers. The human race, which through the disobedience of
Adam fell into the power of Satan and his angels, was robbed of
original justice and the grace of God, and moreover, was wounded
and weakened in all the powers of the soul by evil concupiscence.
The priest and The Levite who represent the Old Law, would not and
could not repair this misfortune; but Christ, the true Samaritan,
embraced the interests of the wounded man, inasmuch as He poured
the oil of His grace, and the wine of His blood into the wounds
of man's soul, and thus healed him, and inasmuch as He led him by
baptism into the inn of His Church, and there entrusted him to His
priests for further care and nursing. Thank Christ, the good Samaritan,
for this great love and care for you, and endeavor to make good
use of His blessings by your cooperation.
ON THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF
He bound up his wounds pouring in oil and wine. (Luke
of the Samaritan in regard to the wounded man may be viewed as a
figure of the holy Sacrament of Extreme Unction, in which Christ,
the true Samaritan, by means of the holy oil and the prayer of the
priest, His representative, dispenses His grace to the sick for
the welfare of the soul and often of the body, provided the sick
place no obstacle in His way.
Extreme Unction a Sacrament?
it was instituted by Christ, and by it grace is conveyed to the
sick through an outward sign.
Christ institute this Sacrament?
He did, for
He sent His disciples to anoint the sick with oil and heal them,
as the Evangelist writes: Going forth they preached that men should
do penance: and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil
many that were sick, and healed them. (Mark VI. 12,13.) We must
believe that this unction was not invented by the apostles, but
ordained by the Lord. This is confirmed by the Council of Trent,
which says: (Sess. XIV. C. I.) "This sacred Unction of the
sick was instituted by Christ our Lord, as indicated by St. Mark,
but recommended to the faithful and promulgated by the Apostle St.
James, a relative of our Lord." "Is any man," he
says, "sick among you? let him bring in the priests of the
Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the
name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man:
and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall
be forgiven. (James V. 14,15.) St. James could not have said this,
if he had not known the institution and command of Christ: to it
apostolic and uninterrupted tradition also gives testimony.
is the external sign of this Sacrament?
with holy oil, which is blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday,
and the prayer of the priest.
graces does this Sacrament produce in the sick man?
of the Council of Trent enumerates the following: first, it remits
sins, especially venial sins. Its primary object is not to remit
mortal sin. For this the Sacrament of penance was instituted, as
was that of baptism for the remission of original sin; secondly,
it removes the languor and infirmity entailed by sin, with all other
inconveniences. The time most seasonable for the application of
this cure is, when we are visited by some severe malady, which threatens
to prove fatal; for nature dreads no earthly visitation so much
as death; and this dread is considerably augmented by the recollection
of our past sins, particularly if the mind is harrowed by the poignant
reproaches of conscience; for it is written: "They shall come
with fear at the thought of their sins, and their iniquities shall
stand against them to convict them." A source of alarm still
more distressing is the awful reflection, that, in a few moments,
we shall stand before the judgment-seat of God, whose justice will
award that sentence, which our lives have deserved. The terror inspired
by these considerations frequently agitates the soul with the most
awful apprehensions; and to calm this terror nothing can be so efficacious
as the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. It quiets our fear, illumines
the gloom in which the soul is enveloped, fills it with pious and
holy joy, and enables us to await with cheerfulness the coming of
the Lord; thirdly, it fortifies us against the violent assaults
of Satan. The enemy of mankind never ceases to seek our ruin: and
if it be possible to deprive us of all hope of mercy, he more than
ever increases his efforts, when he sees us approach our last end.
This Sacrament, therefore, enables the recipient to fight resolutely
and successfully against him; fourthly, it effects the recovery
of health, if advantageous to the sick person.
intentions must the sick man have, in order to gain these
Since the Sacraments
work the more powerfully the better the preparation made by those
who receive them, and since by this Sacrament those sins are remitted
which we have forgotten, or have not sufficiently known, the sick
man should, therefore, receive beforehand, if it be possible, the
holy Sacrament of Penance and the blessed Eucharist; or if this
cannot be done, he should make an act of perfect contrition, and
have the wish to confess if possible. He should, therefore, not
defer the reception of this Sacrament to the last moment, when the
violence of sickness has already taken away the use of his reason
and senses, but he should ask for this Sacrament whilst yet enjoying
the use of reason, so that he may receive it with devotion and salutary
this Sacrament necessary for salvation?
No; yet we
should not neglect in case of sickness to partake of the excellent
fruits of this Sacrament since the Council of Trent teaches: "To
despise so great a Sacrament would indeed be a great sin, an insult
to the Holy Ghost." (Sess. XIV. C. 3.)
we receive this Sacrament more than once?
We can receive
it as often as we are in danger of death by sickness; but we must
bear in mind that we can be anointed only once in the same sickness.
is this Sacrament called Extreme Unction?
all the Sacraments which our Lord and Saviour ordained in His Church,
this one is the last we are to receive. But from this it does not
follow, as so many believe that one who receives this Sacrament
must die soon, but it will rather become a means of salvation for
their souls, and if it be for their eternal welfare, will also restore
their bodily health.
does the priest do when he enters the house of the sick person?
He wishes peace
to the house, and prays that God may send His angels to protect
its inmates, that He may drive away the enemy, console the sick,
strengthen and give him health.
does the priest sprinkle the sick person with holy water?
To remind him
that he should implore of God the forgiveness of his sins, with
tears of contrition, in order to dispel the influence of the evil
does the priest exhort those present to pray while he administers
That God may
grant through their prayers whatever may contribute to the welfare
of the sick man's body and soul.
what does the priest pray when he imposes his hands on the head
of the sick person?
He begs that
God, through the imposition of hands and by the intercession of
all the saints, may take the sick person under His protection, and
destroy the power of the devil, who attacks one particularly in
the hour of death.
does the priest say at the anointing with oil?
He begs that
God, through this unction and through His gracious mercy, may forgive
the sick person all the sins which he has committed with his five
senses. At the same time the sick person should, in a spirit of
humility and with a repentant and contrite heart, implore of God
the forgiveness of all his sins.
does the priest present the sick person a crucifix to kiss?
To remind him
that, like Jesus, he should suffer with patience, and place his
whole confidence in the infinite merits of the Crucified, and be
willing to suffer and die for love of Him. For this reason the crucifix
ought to be presented often to the dying person.
should the sick person do after he has received the Sacrament
of Extreme Unction?
He should use
all his remaining strength to thank God sincerely for the benefit
he has received, commend himself to the wounds and the blood of
Jesus, and meditate with quiet recollection on death and eternity.
does our holy Catholic Church appear in the continual use of this
Sacrament! Having, like a tender mother, received man by holy Baptism
under her maternal care; by holy Confirmation given him the necessary
weapons against sin, heresy, and infidelity; by the holy Sacrament
of Penance purified him from stains and sins; and by the blessed
Eucharist nourished him with the bread of life, enriched him with
virtues, and secured him against falling, she does not desert him
even in the last, all-important moment of death. In that dangerous
hour when the dying person, forsaken by all, often by his most intimate
friends, or looked upon with fear, lies on his bed of pain, when
behind him time ceases and before him a certain, though unknown
eternity opens itself, when Satan brings all his resources into
play, in order to ruin his soul, and the thought of the coming judgment
makes the heart tremble, - in this terrible hour the faithful mother,
the Catholic Church, does not abandon him; she sends the priest,
her servant, like a consoling angel to his couch, to encourage the
sufferer and strengthen the fearful with the divine word, to cleanse
the sinner and reconcile him with God by the Sacrament of Penance,
to fortify the weak and nourish him with the bread of life, to strengthen
the combatant with the holy oil, thus providing him with all the
means of grace which Jesus obtained for His Church, to conduct his
soul before the face of the eternal Judge, there to find grace and
this, dear Christian, should you not feel happy to be a member of
this Church, should you not thank God continually, and adhere faithfully
to a Church, in which it is indeed not so pleasant to live, as in
the bosom of irreligion, but in which it is good to die!
A detailed Instruction on the Love of God may be found under the
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. Here we treat only of the love
of our neighbor.