The Church's Year
ON THE NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
for help and protection against all temptations both visible and
invisible, and say with the priest at the Introit:
God is my helper, and the Lord is the protector of my soul: turn
back the evils upon my enemies, and cut them off in thy truth, O
Lord, my protector. (Ps. LIII.) Save me, O God, by thy name, and
deliver me in thy strength. Glory etc.
Let the ears of Thy mercy, O Lord, be open to the prayers of Thy
suppliants: and that Thou mayest grant them their desires, make
them to ask such things as please Thee. Through etc.
(I Cor. X. 6-13.) Brethren, Let us not covet evil things, as they
also coveted. Neither become ye idolaters, as some of them: as it
is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to
play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed
fornication, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished
by the serpents. Neither do you murmur, as some of them murmured,
and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened
to them in figure, and they are written for our correction, upon
whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore he that thinketh
himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall. Let no temptation
take hold on you, but such as is human: and God is faithful, who
will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able
but will make also with temptation issue that you may be able to
we sin by thought and desire?
Yes, if we
desire evil and forbidden things, or voluntarily think of them with
pleasure, for God prohibits not only evil deeds, but evil thoughts
and desires inregard to our neighbor's wife or goods. (Exod. XX.
17.) Christ says, (Matt. V. 28.) that he who looks upon a woman
with evil desire, has already committed adultery. But wicked thoughts
and imagination are sinful only when a person consents to, or entertains
them deliberately. They become, however, an occasion of gaining
merit, if we earnestly strive against them. For this reason God
sometimes permits even the just to be tempted by them.
is meant by tempting God?
a mark or sign of divine omnipotence, goodness or justice. This
sin is committed when without cause we desire that articles of faith
should be demonstrated and confirmed by a new miracle; when we throw
ourselves needlessly into danger of body or soul expecting God to
deliver us; when in dangerous illness the ordinary and, natural
remedies are rejected, and God's immediate assistance expected.
it a great sin to murmur against God?
That it is
such may be learned from the punishment which God inflicted on the
murmuring Israelites; for besides Kore, Dathan, and Abiron whom
the earth devoured, many thousands of them were consumed by fire;
and yet these had not murmured against God directly, but only against
Moses and Aaron whom God had placed over them as their leaders.
From this it is seen that God looks upon murmuring against spiritual
and civil authority, instituted by Him, as murmuring against Himself.
Hence Moses said to the Israelites: Your. murmuring is not against
us, but against the Lord. (Exod. XVI. 8.)
my heart, I beseech. Thee; O Lord, from all evil thoughts and desires.
Let it never enter my mind to tempt Thee, or to be dissatisfied
with Thy fatherly dispensations. Suffer me not to be tempted beyond
my strength, but grant me so much fortitude, that I may overcome
all temptations, and even derive benefit from them for my soul's
(Luke XIX. 41-47.) At that time, when Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known,
and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but
now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon
thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass
thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat
to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall
not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known
the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, he began
to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying
to them: It is written, My house is the house of, prayer, but you
have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the
did our Saviour weep over the city of Jerusalem?
the ingratitude and obduracy of its inhabitants who would not receive
Him as their Redeemer, and who through impenitence were hastening
was the time of visitation?
in which God sent them one prophet after another who urged them
to penance, and whom they persecuted, stoned, and killed. (Matt.
XXIII. 34.) It was especially the time of Christ's ministry, when
He so often announced His salutary doctrine in the temple of Jersualem,
confirmed it by miracles, proving Himself to be the Messiah, the
Saviour of the world, but was despised and rejected by this hardened
and impenitent city.
are prefigured by this hardened and impenitent city?
unrepenting sinners who will not recognize the time of God's visitation,
in which He urges them by the mouth of His preachers, confessors,
and superiors, and by inward inspiration to reform their lives and
seek the salvation of their soul, but who give no ear to these admonitions,
and defer conversion to the end of their lives. Their end will be
like to that of this impious city; then the enemy, that is, the
evil spirit, will surround their soul, tempt, terrify, and drag
it into the abyss of ruin. Oh, how foolish it is to squander so
lightly, the time of grace, the days of salvation! Oh, how would
the damned do penance, could they but return to earth! Oh, how industriously
would they employ the time to save their soul! Use, then, my dear
Christian, the time of grace which God designs for you, and which,
when it is run out or carelessly thrown away, will not be lengthened
for a moment.
God conceal from the wicked that which serves for their salvation?
No; but while
they are running after the pleasures of this life, as St. Gregory
says, they see not the misfortunes treading in their footsteps,
and as consideration of the future makes them uncomfortable in the
midst of their worldly pleasures, they remove the terrible thought
far from them, and thus run with eyes blindfolded in the midst of
their pleasure into eternal flames. Not God, but they themselves
hide the knowledge of all that is for their peace, and thus they
I beseech Thee, O Lord, who didst weep over the city of Jerusalem,
because it knew not the time of its visitation, to enlighten my
heart, that I may know and profit by the season of grace.
DESTRUCTION OF THE CITY AND TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM
our divine Savior's prophecy concerning, the city of Jerusalem been
Yes, and in
the most terrible manner. The Jews, oppressed by the Romans their
cruel masters, revolted, killed many of their enemies, and drove
them out of Jerusalem. Knowing well that this would not be permitted
to pass unavenged, the Jews armed themselves for a desperate resistance.
The Emperor Nero sent a powerful army under the command of Vespasian
against the city of Jerusalem, which first captured the smaller
fortresses of Judea, and then laid siege to the city. The want and
misery of the inhabitants had already reached the highest pitch;
for within the city ambitious men had caused conflicts; factions
had been formed, daily fighting each other, and reddening the streets
with blood, while the angry Romans stormed outside. Then a short
time of respite was granted to the unfortunate Jews. The Emperor
Nero was murdered at Rome in the year of our Lord 68; his successor
Galba soon died, and the soldiers placed their beloved commander
Vespasian upon the imperial throne. He then left Jerusalem with
his army, but in the year he sent his son Titus with a new army
to Judea, with orders to capture the city at any price, and to punish
It was the
time of Easter, and a multitude of Jews had assembled from all provinces
of the land, when Titus appeared with his army before the gates
of Jerusalem, and surrounded the city. The supply of food was soon
exhausted, famine and pestilence came upon the city and raged terribly.
The leader of the savage revolutionists, John of Gischala, caused
the houses to be searched, and the remaining food to be torn from
the starving, or to be forced from them by terrible tortures: To
save themselves from this outrageous tyrant, the Jews took the leader
of a band of robbers, named Simon, with his whole gang into the
city. John and Simon with their followers now sought to annihilate
each other. John took possession of the temple. Simon besieged him;
blood was streaming in the temple and in the streets. Only when
the battle-din of the Romans was heard from without, did the hostile
factions unite, go to meet the enemy, and resist his attack. As
the famine increased, many Jews secretly left the city to seek for
herbs. But Titus captured them with his cavalry, and crucified those
who were armed. Nearly five hundred men, and sometimes more, were
every day crucified in sight of the city, so that there could not
be found enough of crosses and places of execution; but even this
terrible sight did not move the Jews to submission. Incited by their
leaders to frenzy, they obstinately resisted, and Titus finding
it impossible to take the city by storm, concluded to surround it
by walls in order to starve the inhabitants. In three days his soldiers
built a wall of about ten miles in circumference, and thus the Saviour's
prediction was fulfilled: Thy enemies shall cast a trench about
thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side.
in this unfortunate city now reached its most terrific height; the
wretched inhabitants searched the very gutters for food, and ate
the most disgusting things. A woman, ravenous from hunger, strangled
her own child, roasted it, and ate half of it; the leaders smelling
the horrible meal, forced a way into the house, and by terrible
threats compelled the woman to show them what she had eaten; she
handed them the remaining part of the roasted child, saying.: "Eat
it, it is my child; I presume you are not more dainty than a woman,
or more tender than a mother." Stricken with horror they rushed
from the house. Death now carried away thousands daily, the streets
and the houses were full of corpses: From the fourteenth of April
when the siege commenced. to the first of July, there were counted
one hundred and fifty-eight thousand dead bodies; six hundred thousand
others were thrown over the walls into the trenches to save the
city from infection. All who could flee, fled; some reached the
camp of the Romans in safety; Titus spared the helpless, but all
who fell into his hands armed, were crucified. Flight offered no
better security. The Roman soldiers had learned that many Jews had
swallowed, gold to secure it from the avarice of the robbers, and
therefore the stomachs of many were cut open. Two thousand such
corpses were found one morning in the camp of the Romans. The attempts
of Titus to prevent this cruelty were unavailing. Finally, when
misery had reached its height, Titus succeeded in carrying the fort,
Antonia, and with his army forced a passage as far as the temple
which had been held by John of Gischala with his famous band. Desirous
of saving the temple, Titus offered the revolutionists free passage
from it, but his proposition was rejected, and the most violent
contest then raged; the Romans trying to enter the temple, and being
continually repulsed, at last, one of the soldiers seized a firebrand,
and threw it into one of the rooms attached to the temple. The flames
in an instant caught the whole of the inner temple, and totally
consumed it, so that this prediction of our Lord was also fulfilled.
The Romans butchered all the inhabitants whom they met, and Titus
having razed the ruins of the temple and city, ploughed it over,
to indicate that this city was never to be rebuilt. During the siege
one million one hundred thousand Jews lost their lives; ninety-seven
thousand were sold as slaves, and the rest of the people dispersed
over the whole earth.
Thus God punished
the impenitent city and nation, over whose wretchedness the Saviour
wept so bitterly, and thus was fulfilled the prediction made by
Him long before.
do we learn from this?
That as this
prediction so also all other threats and promises of the Saviour
will be fulfilled. The destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem,
the dispersion of the Jews, are historical facts which cannot be
denied, and testify through all centuries to the truth of our Lord's
word: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass
away. (Matt. XXIV. 35.)
LESSONS CONCERNING DEATH-BED REPENTANCE
a sinner rely upon his being converted at the end of his life?
By no means,
for this would be a sin against the mercy of God which is much the
same as the sin against the Holy Ghost. "God," says St.
Augustine, "generally so punishes such negligent sinners, that
in the end they forget themselves, as in health they forgot Him."
He says: They have turned their back to me, and not their face:
and in the time of their affliction they will say: Arise, and deliver
us! Where are the gods whom thou hast made thee? Let them arise
and deliver thee in the time of thy affliction. (Jer. II. 27-28.)
And although we have a consoling example in the case of the penitent
thief, yet this, as St. Augustine says, is only one, that the sinner
may not despair: and it is only one, so that the sinner may have
no excuse for his temerity in putting off his repentance unto the
may we hope of those who are converted at the close of life?
that is good if they be truly converted, but this is a very rare
thing, as St. Augustine says: "It cannot be asserted with any
security, that he who repents at the end has forgiveness;"
and St. Jerome writes: "Scarcely one out of thousands whose
life was impious, will truly repent at death and obtain forgiveness
of sin;" and St. Vincent Ferrer says, "For a man who has
lived an impious life to die a good death is a greater miracle than
the raising of the dead to life." We need not be surprised
at this, for repentance at the end of life is extorted by the fear
of death and the coming judgment. St. Augustine says, that it is
not he who abandons sin, but sin abandons him, for he would not
cease to offend God, if life were granted him. What can we expect
from such a conversion?
should we repent?
While we are
in health, in possession of our senses and strength, for according
to the words of St. Augustine, the repentance of the sick is a sickly
repentance. As experience proves, man while ill is so tormented
and bewildered by the pains of sickness and the fear of death, by
remorse of conscience, and the temptations of the devil as well
as by anxiety for those whom he leaves, that he can scarcely collect
his thoughts, much less fit himself for true repentance. Since it
is so hard for many to do penance while they are in health, and
have nothing to prevent them from elevating their mind to God, how
much more difficult will it be for them, when the body is weakened
and tortured by the pains of sickness. It has been made known by
many persons when convalescent, that they retained not the slightest
recollection of anything which occurred during their illness, and
although they confessed and received the last Sacraments, they did
not remember it. If then you have committed a grievous sin, do not
delay to be reconciled as soon as possible by contrition and a sacramental
confession. Do not put off repentance from day to day, for thereby
conversion becomes more difficult, so much so that without extraordinary
grace from God, you cannot repent God does not give His grace to
the presumptuous scoffer.