Sermons of the Cure of ArsBy: Jean Batiste Marie Vianney - The Cure of Ars+Imprimatur 1901
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
"No man can serve two masters." -St. Matt. vi. 24.
Jesus Christ said to us, my dear friends, that we cannot serve two masters - i.e., God and the wold. You cannot, he says, please both God and the world at the same time. No matter how you may try, you will never succeed. The reason is this, my good friends; they are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions. What God commands is the very opposite to that which the world promises; the former forbids what the latter allows and favors; the world offers you pleasure, honors and riches; God shows you only tears, repentance, and self-denial; the one leads you upon a - in appearance at least - flowery path, the other upon a thorny path. The one, which is the world, promises to let us enjoy everything we may wish for during this life (though it generally promises more than it can give); at the same time it hides from us the sufferings which await us during eternity. The other, which is Jesus Christ, does not promise us anything of all this, but merely tells us for our consolation that He will be with us and mitigate our sufferings: "Come to me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart; and you shall find rest to your souls."
These, then, my dear friends, are the two masters who demand our whole heart. To which of the two do you wish to belong? All that which the world offers you is only for the present time; fortune, pleasure, honors, will terminate with our life. But if we follow Jesus Christ, who heavily laden with his cross calls us, we shall soon see that the hardships in His service are not as great as we think. He will lead us, and aid us, and console us, and after our suffering, which lasts but a moment, He promises us a happiness which will last as long as He Himself. So as to let you see this clearer, I will show to you, my dear friends, that it is impossible to please God and the world. Either all for God or all for the world; there is no middle way.
It is certain, my friends, that Jesus Christ, while knowing full well that many would retire from the world to devote themselves entirely to Him, that would choose the follies of the cross to spend their life, like His, in sighs, in tears, and in penance to become worthy of the reward which He has promised them, He knew at the same time that many would dessert Him to devote themselves to the world, whose promises are never fulfilled and whose misery is carefully hidden. And that is the reason why He gave us only one heart, so that we could devote ourselves to one master. He tells us expressly that it is impossible to serve God and the world. So soon as we wish to please the one we shall become an enemy to the other.
You know, my dear friends, that the spirit of Jesus Christ is a spirit of the love of God. Now, how can you preserve this spirit when you keep in the company of those who will speak to you only of pleasures and honors, only to laud themselves and to boast of their pretended good qualities and of all they have done or not done? If you are in the company of such a one for any length of time you will become, without noticing it, as proud as he. If you hear somebody continually talk evil of his neighbor you will yourself, without noticing, get a wicked tongue, which carries to every place, wherever you may be, destruction of peace. You know that Jesus Christ, whom you have chosen as your Master, wishes you to keep your heart as pure as possible; but when you associate with the reprobate who does nothing but think and speak of the filthiest and most shameful things, you will become just as bad as he is. You know that your Lord wishes you to love and respect your religion and all that regards your religion, but if you have frequent intercourse with an impious person who scoffs at everything, despises and ridicules the Most Holy, how can you love your religion and fulfill her commandments if these blasphemies are ever dinned in your ears? How can we go to confession to a priest if some godless man has whispered a slander against a priest into our ear and tried to persuade us that it was true and that all priests are thus?
Ah! my good friends, woe to him who follows the world! He is lost! If you wish to be saved you must necessarily flee this world, as otherwise you would think and act like the world and find yourself among those who have been cursed by the Lord.
If you have any further doubts about it, just remember what all the saints did: they considered the world and its pleasures a plague, from which they fled. What else was the reason that the deserts became peopled with so many persons who had before lived in towns and villages, but that they dreaded the world and fled from it for fear that they might become infected and become imbued with the spirit? Yes, my friends,m let us flee from the world, or else we may perish with it. We must not be in accord with the world if we want to be saved. We must wage a continuous war with it; all the saints did that. We must renounce either heaven or the world.
To show you still better to which of the two parities you should belong, we will take a closer look at this world. It consists of three classes: the first is composed of those who are entirely for the world; the second are those who are entirely for God; and the last consists of those people who would like to belong to the world without ceasing to belong to God.
I said, my dear people, that one portion, - the larger, perhaps - is the one which is entirely for the world. To it belong all those who are content when they have suppressed every religious feeling and all thoughts of the life to come, who have done all they could to banish entirely from their mind the terrible thought of the judgement which will be theirs some day. They make use of their knowledge and oftentimes their wealth to draw as many people as possible to their way of thinking. They don't believe in anything, and they glory even in making themselves appear more godless and more profane than they really are, so as to better convince others not to believe the truths, but the falsehoods they have engendered in their hearts. Like Voltaire, who, at the banquet which he gave to his friends the unbelievers, rejoiced over the fact that of all those present, none believed in religion. And yet he himself believed in it, as was proved at the hour of his death. It was then that he eagerly called for a priest to help him to reconcile himself with his God. But it was too late. The good Lord whom he had reviled with such zeal, did to him as he had done to Antioch - He delivered him to the rage of the demons. But let us leave these infidels. You, my dear people, though you are not as good Christians as you ought to be, do not at least, thanks be to the Lord, belong to them.
But, you will ask me, who are those who belong now to God, now to the world? Let me explain, my good friends. Observe them, my dear listeners, from morning until night, from one year's end to the other. These people consider sunday merely as a day of rest and pleasure; they remain in bed longer than on week-days, and instead of turning their heat to God, never give Him a thought. Some think of the amusements they will have on this day - the Lord's day; some, of the visits they will pay to friends. Some will even omit their few morning prayers, thinking it will be time enough to say them in Church before Mass. But they have so much to do before going to Mass so that they arrive at church long after the commencement of Mass. Or the meeting of a friend or anything else that might happen is sufficient to keep them away altogether. Still, to keep up the appearance and to be considered by their neighbors and friends as Christians, they do go once in a while, but with what feelings of unrest and weariness! The only thought they have is:
"Oh, Lord! How long is it going to last? It's too long. I don't think I can go again."
Others, again, don't like the Word of God as pronounced from the altar, the Word of God that has converted so many sinners. They must get out, they say, to get fresh air; they feel depressed, uneasy; and no sooner is the end of the service approaching than they eagerly make for the door even before the priest has had time to leave the altar, and they are again all smiles and merriment. They are too tired to return to Vepers and Benediction. If you ask them why they don't go to Vespers they say:
"Oh, we can't be in church all day. We have other things to do."
These are the people that belong to the world without realizing the fact. But wait. Let us try to make them understand better; only as they are deaf it is very difficult to make them listen to the Word of Life, and as they are blind too, it will be more difficult to make them see their unhappy condition. They have left off saying grace before and after meals or to say the Angelus. And if they do they do it just as a matter of habit, without giving a thought to our dear Lord and His blessed Mother.
Do you know, my good friends, what kind of people these are? They are people who have not lost their faith altogether, who would not wish to give up everything, for they even blame those who absent themselves entirely from divine service; only they do not have courage to break with the world and turn to the good Lord. These people don't want to be damned, but they also don't like to be under any restriction. They hope to be saved without taking much trouble about it. They think God is merciful and certainly did not create them only to destroy them; that He will forgive them in His mercy; that it will be time enough later on to devote themselves to God alone and to rid themselves of their bad habits. If they do think once in a while of the poor use they make of their life, they sigh and maybe some of them will even shed a few tears.
Oh, my dear friends, what a miserable life do those people lead who want to belong to the world without ceasing to belong to God! Let us go into the matter a little further, and you will soon see how inconsistent their way of living is. One moment you will hear them pray to God and perhaps do an act of penance; the next moment you will hear them curse and swear and take the name of the Lord in vain if something goes against their will. This morning you saw them attend Mass and join in the praise of the Lord, and on the same day you will hear them using the most blasphemous language. The same hands which took the holy water and asked God to cleanse them from all sins are used for all kinds of sinful ways; the same eyes which have looked upon the Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament look later in the day at the most indecent objects, and with great pleasure at that. Yesterday you saw a man do an act of charity to his neighbor; to-day you can see him try to cheat him. A moment ago a mother prayed for all kinds of blessings for her children' now she overwhelms them with all sorts of maledictions because they have done something to displease her. Once moment she sends her daughters to church to confession; the next moment she lets them go to a dance. One day she will tell her daughter to be careful and danger of bad company, and the next she will let her be together with young men for hours at a time. Oh, my poor mother, you are of the world. You think you belong to God, by you are deceived. You belong to those of whom Jesus Christ has said: "Woe unto the world!"
Oh, poor world! How unhappy thou art! Continue in this way, and nothing but hell will be they lot. Some would like to make frequent use of the holy sacraments, or at least once a year, but they need a very easy confessor. If their confessor does not find their heart and mind in the right dispositions and refused them absolution, oh! then they are deeply offended and nothing is too bad to say of the poor priest, and yet they know in their own hearts that he cannot give them absolution in the state of sin they are in. Live on, O world! live on in this every-day manner, and you will see what you did not want to see. As if we could divide our heart into two parts! No, my friend: you either belong wholly to God or wholly to the world. You wish to make frequent use of the sacraments? Very well. Quit gambling, keep awy from indecent shows, and quit the saloon. To-day you are willing to approach the sacred tribunal of penance and to receive the Blessed Eucharist, the bead of angels, and in two or three weeks you spend the night in the company of drunkards who are crazed with liquor and, worse still, commit the most abominable acts of impurity. Go on, O world, go on! You will soon be in hell. There they will teach you what you should have done to reach heaven, which you have lost through your own fault.
No, my dear friends, do not let us deceive ourselves. We must sacrifice the world for Jesus Christ or we must sacrifice Jesus Christ for all that which we consider dearest on earth. Besides, there is not one among those attached to the world and who have tried to gain satisfaction from their animal or corrupt instincts - I say there is not one who has been deceived and who did not regret at the hour of his death to have loved the world. Yes, my friends, that is the time when we recognize the vanity and perishableness of all things. We would recognize it now if we would only reflect upon our past life; we would see of how little value life is.
And you, my dear people, you whose growing years are already beginning to bend your heads upon your breasts, you who in your young days chased after the pleasures of this would and thought you would never become tired of them; you have spent many years in the pursuit of these pleasures: dances, gambling, saloons, vanity formed your whole occupation. You put off the return to God again and again. Then when you reached a maturer age you thought of nothing but of accumulating a fortune. And so you have reached old age without having done anything for your salvation. And now, when you have returned from the follies of your youth, when you have ceased your efforts to make a fortune - now, you think, it is time to do better. Don't believe it, my friends. The infirmities of age which are bending you down, your children who despise you - all that will be a new obstacle to your salvation. You thought you belonged to God, and you find out now that you belong to the world, that is, to those who belong now to God and now to the world and who receive their final reward from the latter. You know well enough now that you are deceived if you follow the world. Now, my friends, if somebody deceives us we do not trust him any more, and we are right; but the world deceives us all the time and yet we love it.
At the age of fifteen we say farewell to the pleasures of childhood; we stop running after butterflies and building houses of cards. At the age of thirty we say farewell to the boisterous pleasures of impetuous young manhood; what we delighted in so much begins to weary us. Yes, my friends, we say daily farewell to something in this world. WE are like the traveler who delights in the beauties of the landscape though which passes: as soon as he sees it he must leave it. It is the same with all our possessions and our friends to whom we have such an attachment. And finally we reach the shore of eternity, into which everything passes like into an abyss. Then, my friends, the world disappears forever from our sight, and it is then that we shall recognize how foolish we were in following it. And all that has been told us about sins we will then recognize as being only too true.
"Oh," we shall say, "I have only lived for the world. I have in all my actions only sought the approval of the world, and not all my possessions and my friends of the world are nothing to me! Everything has passed away from my hands. And now I must return to my Creator."
Oh, my dear people, how consoling is this thought for those who have during their life only sought their God! And what despair does it bring to those who have lost sight of their God and the salvation of their souls!
no, my friends, do not let us deceive ourselves. Let us flee, or else we may run the danger of being lost. All our saints have fled and despised the world all their lives. Those who were obliged to live in it lived as if they were not in it. How many of the real great ones have left this world to live in solitude! Let us look at St. Arsenius, who was struck with the idea how difficult it was to obtain salvation in this world, and forthwith left the Emperor's courts to spend his life in the woods, to repent of his sins and do penance. Yes, my dear friends, if we flee from this world, at least as much as it is possible for us to do, we can not perish in this world. St. Augustine gives us a good example of this. He tells us that he once had a friend, a young man who led a perfectly good life. One day he was in the company of his fellow-students, who did not like it that he always lived and acted differently from them. They urged him to go with them to the amphitheater, where there was a prize-fight among men. As our young friend detested such shows, he resisted with all his might. Finally they urged him so much, that he consented with the words:
"Very well. I will go with you, but only my body will be there standing among you. My mind and yes will not partake in this horrible spectacle."So they led him forth, and, while the whole multitude went wild with barbarous delight, the young man took no part and kept his eyes shut. Would that he had also stopped his ears, for at a certain great noise curiosity got the better of him and he opened his yes. That was sufficient to ruin him. The more he say the more delighted was he, and after that there was no need of urging him to visit the place. HE was only too eager to go there and to induce others to go with him.
"Oh, mu Lord!" exclaimed St. Augustine, "who will lead him away from this abyss? The grace of God alone can do it!"
In conclusion, my dear friends, let me say to you: If we do not flee from the world and its pleasures, if we do not hide ourselves away as much as possible, then we run into our ruin and will be lost forever. If you want to belong entirely to God you must be prepared to be despised and rejected by the world. Blessed is he, my friends, who belongs to these, and who follows in the footsteps of the Lord with courage and carries his cross with patience. It is only by doing so that we may obtain happiness of reaching heaven. Amen.
The Secret of the Cure D' Ars
By: Henri Gheon
+ Imprimatur EDM. CAN. Surmont
Westmonasterii: Die va Februarii, MCMXXIX
Excerpt from Chapter 1 - Youth
"Once upon a time there lived in France in the Province of Lyons a little peasant boy, a Christian who from his earliest days loved solitude and loved God.
"As the clever gentlemen in Paris who has made the Revolution prevented people from praying, he used to go with his parents to hear Mass in a barn. The priests were in hiding, and when they were caught their heads were cut off with all available neatness.
"That is why it entered Jean-Marie Vianney's head to become a priest.
"But though he was much given to prayer he had no learning. He tended sheep, he ploughed the fields. He entered his seminary late and failed in all his examinations. But at last, as vocations happened to be scarce, they decided that they might as well take him.
"He was appointed to Ars, and there he stayed till he died, France's least cure in France's least village.
"But, at any rate, he really was
cure there, which doesn't always happen, and he was cure with such thoroughness that France's least village had France's greatest cure, so that the whole of France made pilgrimage to see him.
"Now, he converted all who came to him, and if he had not died, he would have converted the whole of France.
"He cured souls and bodies, he read hearts like a book.
"And the Blessed Virgin visited him, and the foul fiend dragged him by the heels but could not prevent him being a saint.
"They made him a Canon, a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour - and later they beatified him.
"Nut while he lived, he could never make out why.
"Which was a very good proof that he had deserved his glory.
"All this happened in the nineteenth century, which in Paradise, where they know the true value of men, is called "The century of the Cure d'Ars,' but, of course, France could scarcely be expected to know that.
All this is nothing but the truth; but we must look at the reverse of the medal. There we find the drama, the pivot of a thousand other dramas - the man who saved souls, and the price he paid, and the countless souls he saved. Heaven and earth and hell meet in it. To write it properly you would need five or six Balzacs. La Comedie Humaine
is a mere trifle compared with the play that was acted at Ars over a space of thirdy years, and at exactly the same time, with all the threads in the hands of one poor priest.
But we aim lower, since we wish no more than to bring into one honest picture the various traits which witnesses and the three biographers - Monnin, Joseph Vianney and Trochu - put before us in their memoirs and in their books. The matter is measureless, not to be exhausted here. But we shall invent nothing This little book is history.
This weeks Friday Fare ... Food for the Soul
Sermons for the Sundays and Feasts of the Year
By: The Ven. Cure of Ars (Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney) +Imprimatur Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York New York, September 11, 1901 TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
The Lord gives us the commandment that we should love Him as He loves us, with our whole heart, undivided; with our whole soul and with our whole strength; and He promises us eternal reward if we keep the commandment faithfully, and threatens eternal punishment if we do not keep it. If we are beset by so many trouble in this world, it is because we neglect the commandments of God; for He Himself has said: If you keep my commandments faithfully, I will belss you in many ways; if, however, you transgress them, you will be cursed in everything that you do. If then, dear brethren, we wish to be happy in this world, as far s that is prossible, we have no other means thereto but that of keeping faithfully the commandments of God, and we shall see, that as we turn aside from the path pointed out to us by the commandments of God, soul and body will be unhappy in this as well as in the next world Our eternal blessedness depends upon our faithful observance of the commandments which the good God has given us, but God rewards already in this life those that are faithful to Him, and I will show you to-day. The Happiness of those who obey the commandments of God and the Unhappiness of those who do not.
If, dear brethren, we open the Scriptures, we shall find there, that all those who made it their duty to observe rightly the commandments of God, were always happy, because God never abandons those who make it their duty to do that which He commands them to do. Already Adam is a good example of this. As long as he observed the commandments of the Lord faithfully, he was in a blissful state in ever respect; his body, his soul, his mind and all his senses were directed to God alone; even the angels descended from heaven to bear him company. The bliss of our first parents would have remained the same forever, had they continued faithful to their duties; but this happy state did not last long. The evil spirit envious at such bliss, plunged them into ruin, and robbed them of all their possessions, which they should have enjoyed for all eternity. As soon as they had the misfortune to transgress the Lord's commandments, everything went wrong with them; troubles and cares, sickness, fear of death and judgment and of punishment in another life took the place of their former bliss; their life now was nothing but a state of tears and sufferings.
The Lord said to Moses: "Tell my people that if they faithfully observe my commandments, I will fill them with all kinds of blessings; but if they dare to transgress them, I shall punish them with all kinds of sufferings." God said to Abraham: "Because thou has faithfully kept my commandments, I will bless thee in everything. I will bless all those who bless thee; I shall curse all those who curse thee; out of thy race the Redeemer of the world shall be born." He made known to Abraham's people, when the time had arrived for them to enter into the promised land: "The people who dwelt in this land committed great sins; for this reason I shall drive them out, and put you in their place. But take care not to transgress my commandments. If you keep them faithfully, I shall bless you in and above everything. When you are in the fields or in your houses, I shall bless your children, who will then love you, respect and obey you, and give you all kinds of consolation. I will command the heavens to give you rain at the proper times, as much as will be necessary to water your fields and your meadows; everything will prosper with you." In another place in the scriptures, God says: "If you keep my commandments faithfully I shall watch unceasingly over your preservation; you can be without fear in your houses; I will prevent the wild beasts from harming you; you will be able to sleep in peace; nothing shall disturb you. I will always be with you. I shall walk with you. I am your God, and you will be my people." Again He says to Moses: "Say unto my people, that if they keep my commandments, I will deliver them from all evils that oppress them." And the Holy Ghost says that "he who keeps the commandments of the Lord, is happier than if he possessed all the wealth of the earth."
Now, have you ever considered, that God lays such stress upon the keeping of His commandments, and that He promises such great benefits in return for their faithful observance? You will then agree with me, that our whole happiness consists in keeping faithfully the commandments. To prove to you, dear brethren, that as soon as we transgress the commandments, we can only be unhappy, let David serve us as an example. As long as he trod the path which the commandments prescribed to him, everything prospered with him: he was beloved, esteemed and obeyed by his neighbors. But the very moment that he no longer observed the commandments, his happiness came to an end, and all kinds of trouble beset him. Anxiety and remorse of conscience took the place of that peace and contentedness which he had hitherto enjoyed. Tears and sufferings were his daily bread. As he was one day bemoaning his sins, he was informed that his son Amon had been pierced with a sword by his brother Absalom in a fit of drunkenness. Absalom tried to depose his father, even to kill him, that he might reign in his stead; David was obliged to hide in the woods to escape death. Moreover, the plague slew a large number od David's subjects.
Solomon affords us another example: As long as he kept faithfully the commandments, he had the admiration of the world; his renown reached to the furthermost parts of the earth; the queen of Saba even came from afar to witness the wonders which the Lord had worked in him; but as soon as he had the misfortune no longer to observe the commandments, everything went wrong with him. Upon hearing these examples, even from the Old Testament only, you will agree with me, dear brethren, that all our troubles arise from the fact that we do not observe the commandments of God faithfully, and that if we expect happiness and peace, as far as we may expect to possess such in this world, in this vale of suffering and sorrow, then, I say, the only means of securing these benefits is, to do everything in our power to please God - everything, therefore, that He bids us to do in His commandments.
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"And you shall give testimony, because you are with
me from the beginning." -John xv. 27.
Sermons for the Sundays and Feasts of the Year
By: Cure of Ars Imprimatur 1901
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
The Followers of Christ Should Give Testimony of Him
When two kingdoms are at war with one another it is easy to distinguish the soldiers for either party by their arms, their uniforms, and their flags. A violent struggle has been going on since the beginning of the world between the King of heaven and earth and the prince of darkness as to which of them the human race should belong. Christ, the Redeemer, by His death and resurrection, has won the victory over hell. Before He entered gloriously into heaven as a conqueror, leading with Him the souls of the just of the old law, as the first-born of His victory, He founded His Church upon earth as His kingdom, in which we should continue to combat against hell, and by His power we should and could complete the victory. Therefore He says to His Apostles, the generals of His kingdom, "You will give testimony of me," and Holy Writ says of them, "With great power did the Apostles give testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord." (Acts iv. 33.) The words of Christ apply also to us. We are all obliged to give testimony of Him, not by sermons and miracles, as the Apostles did, but by our lie, by the imitation of Jesus; for as we have all become members of His body, and have received from Christ the name of "Christians," we are obliged to lead a life worthy of this Chief, not to bring disgrace upon His Holy Name, but so to live that in our life the Christian can be distinguished from the non-Christian. This is our testimony of Christ. I will now speak on this subject. In the Canticle of Canticles, the divine Bridegroom says to the soul that loves Him: (Cant. viii. 6): "Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm." We bear this seal of Christ when we imitate Him:
I. In our will.
II. In our words.
III. In our works.
I. I. David expresses that the will of our Redeemer was in these words, which the Holy Ghost permits Him to speak (Ps. xxxix. 8-9): "In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do thy will: O my God, I have desired it
, and thy law in the midst of my heart." But Christ says of Himself (John vi. 38), "Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me," and (John iv. 34) "My food is to do the will of him that sent me"; and the Apostle extols Him, saying (Phil. ii. 8): "He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto the death, even the death of the cross." When He descended from the glory of heaven upon earth He sacrificed Himself to the will of His Father. "Thou willest, O my God," He said, as it were, with complete resignation, "that I should be born in a desolated stable; that I should shed my blood at the circumcision; that I should flee before Herod; that I should bear the burdens of the troubles of this earthly life for three and thirty years. Thou willest that I should be betrayed, despised, spit upon, buffeted upon the cheeks and scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross, and suffer the most cruel of deaths. My God, I will it also. I am ready to suffer these and still greater afflictions."
2. Now, dear Christian, behold an act according to this model in thy dispositions. When a thousand disappointments beset you, say, too, "My God, I will it!" When poverty afflicts you, when the calumniator's tongue wounds you, when false friends deceive you, vincible patience imitate Christ, and say, "My God, I will it!" You must have these dispositions, this will; then the life of Christ is your model and you give testimony of Him.
3. How have you acted up to the present? Examine yourself and acknowledge how different your dispositions have often been to those of the Lord. Ah, how many ambitious people are there whose whole thoughts and actions are directed toward the acquisition of honor, recognition, offices, and dignities! How many avaricious people who ponder night and day how to increase their mammon! How many worldlings who think continually of their pleasures! How many revengeful souls who will not forget the insults they have endured! Is this giving testimony of Christ? Do not the heathens do likewise, who give testimony of data?
II. I. Of what kind are the words of Christ the Lord? Peter once said (John vi. 69). "Thou hast the words of eternal life," for all His words were directed to the honor of God, the extirpation of sin, the growth of virtue, and the salvation of souls. Consider this in the seven last sacred words which He spoke from the cross in the midst of His death-agony. First He prayed to the heavenly Father, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke xxiii. 34) These are words of mercy and reconciliation. To the penitent their He said, "This day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke xxiii. 43) - words of blessed promise. He addresses these words to His Blessed Mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" and to His disciple, "Behold thy mother!" (John xix. 26.) What consoling words! In the moment of abandonment He cries out, with entire submission and confidence in God, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. xxxvii. 46) His desire to suffer still more and in the highest degree for the sake of our salvation is proved to us by His cry, "I thirst" (John xix. 28), "It is consummated" (John xix. 30). He says, full of joy, that He has completed our redemption, and He recommends His soul with resignation into the hands of His Father: "Into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke xxiii. 46.) Now, dear Christians, look at this model and act accordingly in thy words. Whatever you speak must be to the honor of God, and to thine own and thy neighbor's salvation. Speech is given to us, as a servant of God says, to praise God, to the edification of our neighbor.
2. Have your conversations been of this description, dear Christian? Ah, how different have they often been from the Lord's! If we go into the houses and palaces of the rich and powerful, what talk, what conversations are there in vogue? What words do we hear in the halls of learning, in the assembly of the leaders of the people? In the streets we meet the indications of sensual pleasures, in the stores it is vanity; at home, in the workshops, too often, unfortunately, it is unbelief and blasphemy. Where is the place in which reputations are not blasted, slanders, blasphemies, oaths, and especially where improper conversations have not found a home, in our days? Even family life is no longer pure, and words are dropped into the ears of innocent children that poison their souls. Dear Christians, is this giving testimony of Christ? Do not the heathen do likewise, who give testimony of satan?
III. I. Let us consider, in conclusion, the works of the Lord. St. Bernard describes them to us thus: "Under the name of Jesus I picture to myself a man humble and meek of heart, kind, temperate, chaste, merciful - in short, distinguished in every virtue and holiness." Our Lord's own teaching is witness that He was perfect in the practice of all the works which He taught. He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and from His birth in the stable until His death upon the cross He was Himself the poorest, "for He had not where to lay His head." "Blessed are the meek," He says and He forgives not only the wrong done to Him, but he rewards it with the richest benefits. "Blessed are the sorrowful;" He expiated our sins by His whole body, and wept over them tears of blood. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice;" but His food was to do the will of His Father. "Blessed are the merciful;" He heaped good deeds upon His enemies. "Blessed are the peacemakers;" He made peace between God and man. "Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice sake;" He bears hatred and persecution on account of His teaching until His death.
2. But how do we perform our works? Do you not love your body and your comfort inordinately, and adhere so obstinately to the maxims of the world that you are almost ashamed to be a Christian? Or you love sin, allow your vices to become habits, and have even laid aside all feelings of shame therefore, or you only think of that which is earthly, and live on like the unreasoning animal, constantly pursuing pleasures and sensuality. Unhappy Christian, is this the way to give testimony of Christ? do not the heathen do the same, who give testimony of satan? Is it any wonder that heretics and unbelievers are not converted when they see that Catholics and Christians are worse than they are?
3. Therefore, my dear Christians, behold, and behave according to the model that is shown to you. It is your duty to imitate the teaching and the example of the Redeemer and to practice diligently upon His laws; you must crucify your flesh with its wicked desires; you must not be overcome by adversity, nor dazzled by happiness. It is your duty so to practice the Christian virtues that even unbelievers shall admire them, and say that they are not able to reach to such a high perfection. If this could be said of all Christians, surely the whole world would soon be Christian!
Do not delay, dear Christian, to conform you life to the life of Jesus Christ, and thereby to give testimony of Him. Hear how the Apostle exhorts you (II. Cor. iv. 10): "Always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies." By mortification you must make your life a copy of His life. Your eye should not be overcurious, nor your mouth without shame, nor your sensual desires ungovernable, as the heathens are; your conduct must not correspond with the life of the rich glutton. On the contrary, all those who see your retirement and your modesty must acknowledge that you are not only in name, but in deed and truth a Christian, a follower of the Crucified One, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
"You seek Jesus who was crucified; he is not here; he is risen." ~Matt. xxviii. 6.
Sermons of the Cure of Ars
Sermons for all Sundays & Feast Days of the Year
By: Ven. Cure of Ars Impimatur 1901
Dearly beloved in the Lord! This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and triumph with Him. The Church meets us to-day with this joyful announcement, adorned as a bride. The dawn of day has brought us a beautiful, a great day of rejoicing. As we came to the sepulcher with the holy women, the angels greeted us with this joyful message: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here." This is the joyful message from heaven which resounds loudly and joyfully from north to south, to the uttermost ends of the earth. How this glad message should resound in songs of triumph and flood the heart with joy unspeakable. The heavens behold Him, the glorious risen One, and the sky covers itself with the loveliest azure; the sun in the firmament beholds Him, and it shines with the brightest, most perfect light, the favored earth and its inhabitants behold the glory of the risen Saviour, and they too rejoice. The whole world to-day joins in that glorious hymn of praise of St. Ambrose, "Almighty God, we praise Thee; O Lord, we praise Thy works; for this is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and triumph with Him." We shall hear to-day:
I. Why this day is such a joyful one.
II. How we ought to give the right expression of our jubilation united to the words of the Gospel of the feast which says: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here."
May the risen Saviour bless our meditation.
I. 1.) Beloved bretheren, if you wish to know the true reason of our Easter joy, let us look back to the last days of Holy Week and represent to ourselves in a vivid manner what happened to Jesus of Nazareth in those days at Jerusalem. All these events are fresh in our memory; we were, during Lent, led by the words of the preacher to follow our Saviour in His passion. We beheld Him trodden upon like a worm; we saw Him drag His rack to the place of execution; we heard the dull strokes of the hammer which fastened His hands and feet to the cross; we saw the cross lifted up with its precious burden; briefly, we were witnesses in spirit of the awful agonizing death of our Saviour, of whom even Pilate said: "What shall I do with Jesus, who is called the just man?" "To her just and deep sorrow the Church wishes to give expression by exterior signs of mourning; therefore the house of God, and the sanctuary within it, the Altar, were surrounded with a deathlike stillness, the tones of the organ and the sound of the bell were silenced, the bare cross along attracted to itself every eye, and filled our hearts with sadness. But, dear bretheren, our mourning is now turned into joy. The seal of the grave is broken; He who reposed therein is living; He whom we saw die upon the wood of the cross, as the outcast of mankind, He has proclaimed His divine dignity; neither seal, nor grave, no stone, no lock could withstand Him; He is risen! Just as the newly awakened life in the Spring unfolds itself in a thousand buds and blossoms, touching our hearts powerfully, in like manner does every Christian soul feel itself strangely moved and touched when on Easter morning we heart the Easter bells ringing out to the cottage as to the palace the glad tidings which the angel brought from heaven: "He is risen, He is not here! Alleluia, Jesus lives!"
2.) Jesus lives! At this announcement the earth rejoices, and it opens the grave of Him whose death upon Golgotha caused it to shiver and tremble at its base: Jesus lives! At this message heaven is joyfully agitated, and sends one of its angels to break the seal which the hatred of his enemies had placed upon their victim even after His death, to roll away the heavy stone and announce to the holy women: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth: he is risen, he is not here." Resurrexit sicut dixit. What joy for the poor disciples, who had fled in all directions when He was made a prisoner! Jesus lives! What glad tidings for us, beloved brethren; what joy and delight for us who are baptized in the name of Jesus, who believed in the teaching of Jesus; for us, who may live in the blessed hope that we too may one day rise again to a better life! When the Man of Sorrows, His struggle and His sufferings ended, cried out to the world with a loud voice those mighty words, "It is consummated," when He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, the sun was obscured; it did not want to behold that dreadful spectacle; the earth was shaken mightily, its graves opened, and the dead arose. To-day, however, one grave is opened, and from it has arisen a sun which will never be obscured, which will never set, a sun which, like unto the sun of springtime, creates new life. This new sun is the Crucified One, the Son of God, God Himself, blessed for all eternity. He it is in whom the words of the Apostle are fulfilled: "Because he humbled himself and was obedient even unto death upon the cross, therefore has God exalted him, and given him a name which is above all other names."
3. When the star of Jacob arose, when the Word was made flesh, the kingdom of falsehood and darkness was doomed to defeat. Already the cradle song, which the angels sang to the incarnate Saviour, "Glory to God in the highest!" was a solemn hymn of praise which announced in advance the glory of this day. The Gloria in Excelsis of that most beloved night is supplemented in glorious manner by the glad tidings of the heavenly messenger on Easter morn, who said: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth: he is risen, he is not here." But the truth which the Son og God brought from heaven, His divine teaching, was not to be proclaimed without a struggle; the light illuminated the darkness, but the darkness could not comprehend. The only begotten Son of the Father was calumniated as the poor Son of the carpenter, the Messiah went from heaven was mocked as the Galilean, His words of Charity were branded as the work of hell. When He said that He had come to found a kingdom which was not of this world, He was denounced as a seducer of the work of hell. When He said that He had come to found a kingdom which was not of this world, He was denounced as a seducer of the people, and an enemy of Caesar. Thus, my brethren falsehood struggled against truth, and it seemed as if His enemies were really triumphant in victory when Jesus hung bleeding upon the cross. Thou didst in derision, "If thou art Christ, descend from the cross. Thou didst help others, now help thyself," and He made no reply to these words, but bowed His head and died. And still more, He was laid in a grave like an ordinary mortal, the grave itself being guarded and sealed.
Now, according to human calculations, everything was over and at an end; the world seemed to conquer. Whence, dear brethren, should that mustard seed which this incarnate God now lying in the grave had thus planted obtain its strength to grow and expand into a great tree whose fruit should bless all the races of the earth? Whence should the timid disciples have obtained the courage to proclaim to the world that this Crucified One is the true God, and to preach His Gospel to every creature? Tremble not, little band of disciples, for the miracle has already taken place! The earth is jubilant with joy, heaven sends forth its messengers, the grave is empty, the hero is awakened, the Saviour is risen! Because He arose from the grave through His own almighty power, because He has proven the glory of His divinity and placed the seal of completeness upon the work of redemption. If Christ had not risen again, says the Apostle, our faith would be vain! On Good Friday, when the earth trembled and the rocks were split open, we struck our breasts with the centurion and said, "Verily, He was the Son of God," we may therefore all the more cry out joyfully beside the empty grave on Easter morning, "He that is risen is the Son of God, He is the Messiah, He is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." Is this not the day the Lord has made? Should we not rejoice in Him and be glad? Let the chords of the organ peal forth in sweetest harmony, let the bells ring out in thrilling tones, let the song of triumph resound, The Saviour is risen! Alleluia, Jesus lives. Neither seal nor grave, stone nor rock, could withstand Him. "You seek Jesus of Nazareth: he is risen, he is not here."
II. 1. We have heard that we have every reason to rejoice from the bottom of our hearts on this ever memorable day, and to approach our risen Redeemer with joyous Alleluias. But this is not all, we must be active also, and make a practical use of to-day's celebration. Christ died for us, and He has given us an example that we should tread in His footsteps. As Christ is risen, so shall we arise and enter upon a new life. I call upon you, therefore, we arise and enter upon a new life. I call upon you, therefore, Christian parents, in the words of the Apostle: "Arise, and walk in the way in which thou shouldst go." You promised one another before God's holy altar mutual fidelity and help, that you would bear one another's burdens in peace, and that you would bring up your children in the fear of the Lord. How have you kept this promise? Is the throne of harmony erected in your home, and dispensing blessings upon you? Are you a good father and mother to your children, do you feed the flock confided to you in green pastures, and do you lead them, as a good shepherd should, to the source of living waters? Or are you, fathers, bad examples to your sons and you, mothers, unnatural mothers to your daughters? Arise and from your spiritual death, fortify anew the throne of peace, approach the Altar of God and renew your conjugal vows. Bring up your children as good Catholic parents should do, assist the teachers and those who have charge of their spiritual welfare in this difficult task, then, and then only, will you have a happy Easter; then Easter joys and Easter blessings will gladden you and your family.
2. Christian sons, Christian daughters, arise from the grave! We grown-up people, who have no longer the good fortune of seeing father and mother with us; we who can now only kneel at their graves and speak to them in spirit, how we envy you, dear, happy children, especially on this day, when it is such a joy to celebrate Easter in the family circle. And now, I ask you, beloved sons and daughters, whether you know how to appreciate this great happiness of possessing your father and mother, or whether you, O frivolous son, grieve your good father by your sinful ways, and by your extravagance; and you, proud daughter, do you cause your mother to shed tears as your behaviour, and at your disobedience? Well, then, to-day arise from the grave of sin and give your good parents and Easter joy by making the firm resolution of walking in the path which will bring you blessings in this life and in the life to come. The risen Saviour is the friend of children, He will extend His hands in blessing over you to-day, you will live long, and everything will be well with you upon earth.
3. Well may we apply to ourselves the words of the Apostle: "Man who is of the earth, is earthly." Now, if we have been in the past slaves of the flesh, and if our thoughts and actions were earthly, this is Easter; let us throw out the old leaven so that we may become a new dough. Then the words of the Apostle will come true: "If thou art risen with Christ, seek ye therefore the things that are above, not that which is upon earth." But in reality, to seek and to find that which is above, we must not only arise from the grave of sin, cleanse our hearts from every sin, but we must purify them from the old leaven. When Christ arose from the grave He left the burying sheets behind; so should we at our spiritual resurrection leave in the graves the fetters of our old habits; we must break with the old life and walk in a new one; we must put off the old man and put on the new man, which is created in holiness and justice. And so it must be with thee, O sensual man; let me say also of you, he is risen, he is not here, no longer there where he has so often sinned. We must be able to say: "He is risen, the miser, he lingers no more with his treasures, which the rust and moth will eat the father of the poor." He is risen, must be said of the drunkard, the gambler, he is not here, behold the place is empty where formerly he sat till far into the night playing and drinking, whilst his poor wife and hungry children suffered want at home. And this is what ought and must be said of all sinners: they are risen, they are not here, the grave of sin is empty, they are leading a new life. O then indeed we shall all spend a blessed and happy Easter, a day of gladness, a day which the Lord has made.
III. 1. Christ is raised from the dead to die no more. He is exalted high above principalities and powers and majesties, and He sits at the right hand of the Father. His words, spoken to the disciples of Emmaus, are true: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?" If then, dear brethren, crosses and sufferings come upon us, let us, too, kneel in the garden of lives; let us drain the chalice of suffering to the dregs on Golgotha, let us look up with courage and holy zeal. Good Friday was followed by a joyful Easter morn for the incarnate God, and we, too, shall enjoy a day of rejoicing, for if we suffer with Christ we shall also also be glorified with Him. Our cross will be for us Jacob's ladder, upon which we shall ascend from earth to heaven, where there shall be no more weeping, no more pain, but where eternal joy, eternal peace, and eternal rejoicing will reign.
2. The glorified risen Saviour bears in His hand, instead of the reed, a flag of victory, upon which is written, "I am the resurrection and the life; whosoever believes in me shall live, through he were already dead." My bretheren, what a consoling word! We can exclaim with jubilation: Death, where is thy sting? Death is defeated; now we may face death with confidence and say with Job: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he will raise me up at the last day." Dry thy tears, then, poor wife, thou who art weeping at the heavy loss of thy children's provider; weep not, poor husband, at the early death of they wife; children, mourn not the loss of your parents, who have left you orphans. My brethren, let us not weep and mourn for our beloved dead, like those who have no hope. We have a hope in the risen Saviour, that He will one day send His Angels to call us from our graves; we shall see one another again; we shall rejoice, and our joy no man shall take from us.
3. And if in our days we look sorrowfully into the future, and if the enemy presses hard upon our mother, the Church, she, too, our Church, will arise from the grave of oppression. That this will be the case every century testifies; the deeper they dig her grave, the tighter they seal and close it, the more gloriously has she ever arisen from the grave, and the more victoriously does she unfurl her flag. Her founder, who rose from the grave to-day, has said: "The gates of hell shall never prevail against her." And this founder proclaims joyfully to the redeemed world to-day: "All hail, Conqueror of Golgotha, Conqueror like unto none other! Alelluia!"
Let us, therefore, dear brethren, celebrate this Easter festival with glad, jubilant hearts; let us, at the empty grave of the Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, extend to one another the hand of pardon. He calls to us indeed: peace be unto you! Let us break the bonds of sin, let us live in God, let us swear fidelity anew to-day to the victorious flag of Jesus Christ, let us stand fast in the faith! Then, yes then, we shall one day arise gloriously; we shall be transformed, and we shall possess the kingdom which has been prepared for us from the beginning. God grant it! Amen.
Sermons of the Cure of Ars
Sermons for all Sundays and
Feast Days of the Year Impr. 1901
"Of whom was born Jesus." - Matt. i. 16.
Here, my dear brethren, expressed in a few words, is the most complete praise which could be given to Mary, by saying that of her was born Jesus, the Son of God. Yes, Mary is the most beautiful creature that ever came forth from the hands of fthe Creator. God Himself elected her to be the star from which His most precious and richest blessings should shine upon all those who place their confidence in her. God presents her to us as a beautiful mirror, in which He is reflected, a perfect model of all virtues. Consequently the Church looks upon her as her Mother, her protectress,, and her powerful helper against her enemies, and she celebrates to0day the happy day on which this lovley start first illumined the earth. Let us, my dear friends, abandon ourselves to a holy joy with the whole church, and contemplate why we admire in this holy Virgin
I.- The model of perfect virtue, and
II.- The mediator between God and mankind.
Give me your earnest attention, for to speak of Mary must touch your hearts, because we are talking of the object of your confidence and love.
My beloved brethren, if it were necessary, so as to inspire you with a loving devotion to Mary, to show you how great is the happiness of those who confide in her, how powerful is her aid, and how numerous the graces and the favors which she can obtain for us- if it were necessary, I say, to prove to you the blindness, and the misery of those who are indifferent, and disregard so good, so tender, so powerful a Mother, I need only refer to the Prophets and the Patriarchs, and all the great things, which the Holy Ghost inspired them to say to her, should be a source of reproach for the little esteem in which we often hold this good Mother. Furthermore, if I were to relate to you how her example was followed by the Saints, we should be moved to lament our blindness, and to revive our confidence in her. In the first place nothing is more capable of inspiring in us a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin as the first passage which we read of her in Holy Scripture, where we behold God Himself the first One to announce Mary's coming.
When our first parents had the great misfortune of falling into sin, God, moved by their condition, promised that a day would come when a Virgin should be born, and she would bear a Son, by whom the misery caused by their sin would be redressed. In consequence of this, the Prophets have never ceased, time and again, to proclaim for the consolation of the human race, sighing under the tyranny of the evil spirit, that a Virgin would bear a Son, who would be the Son of the Most High, and be sent by His Father to redeem the world, lost by Adam's sin. All the Prophets foretold that she would be the most beautiful creature that had ever appeared upon the earth. They called her the Morning Star, which would eclipse all others by it's radiancy and beauty, and would guide the traveler upon the sea - a perfect model of every virtue.
With justice, therefore, the church in holy joy, says to the Blessed Virgin: "Thy birth, O blessed Virgin Mary fills the whole world with a sweet consolation and a holy joy, because of thee was born this sun of justice, our Jesus, our God, who has taken away from us the curse in which we were plunged by the sin of our first parents, and filled us with all kinds of blessings." In fact, although the Blessed Virgin wandered in the common path of life, yet the Holy Ghost willed that her soul should be the most beautiful, and the richest in grace. He also willed that her body should be the most beautiful body which had ever appeared upon earth. Scripture compares her to the dawn of morning, to the moon at its full, to the sun at middday. From the time of Adam's fall, the world was covered with terrible darkness. Mary appeared, and, as a beautiful sun, dispersed the darkness, and revived hope. Must not God, dear breathern, have said to Mary, as He did to Moses: "Deliver my people who are groaning under the tyranny of Pharaoh; announce to them that their deliverance is at hand, and that I have heard their prayers, their sighs, and their tears."
O what treasures Mary's birth brings for heaven and earth! The evil spirit trembles with fury and despair, because he beholds in Mary she who is to crush his head. whereas the angels and the blessed make the vault of heaven ring with songs of joy at the birth of a queen who will add new glory to their splendor.
But because God wished to show us that heaven can only be gained by humility, self-denial, poverty, and suffering, He decreed that the birth of Mary should be accompanied by ordinary circumstances. She was born in a state of weakness, her cradle was moistened with tears like that of other children who, when they are born, seem to foresee the misery to which they will be subjected through life. As the Holy Ghost tells us through the mouth of the prophets: "The day of death is preferable to that of birth." Mary was born in a state of obscurity. Although she was of the race of David, and numbered among her ancestors Patriarchs, Prophets, and Kings - all these honorable ancestors, so much sought after by the people of the world, had passed into oblivion, she had nothing more splendid than virtue, which, in the eyes of men, does not call for much esteem. God had permitted this, so that this birth might be in accordance with that of His divine Son, of whom the Prophets declared that He would have no place of rest to lay His head. If, however, she came into this world so poor of earthly riches, still she is rich in the gifts of Him whos Mother she was predestined to be from all eternity. Do we, said one of her great servants, a saintly Bishop of Geneva, wish to know who this crowned Virgin in the cradle is? Let us ask the angels. They will tell us that Mary infinitely surpasses them in grace, merits, dignity, and in all other perfections. St. Basil tells us that the eternal Father, from the creation of the world until Mary's arrival, had not found a creature who was pur and holy enough to be the Mother of His Son. How often have not the Patriarchs and the Prophets cried out, amid sighs and tears: "When will the happy moment arrive, when the Blessed Virgin shall appear in the world? Blessed the eyes that shall behold this creature who is to be the Mother of the Redeemer of the world!"
It would be impossible, my dear brethren, not to love Mary, if we reflected for a moment upon her affection for us, and the benefits which she never ceases to lavish upon us. "Alas," exclaims St. Bernard, that great servant of Mary, "how blind and miserable are we that do not love so kind and good a Mother! The world, without Mary's prayers, would long ago have ceased to be, and on account of our sins, have fallen back into chaos." The same Saint tells us that all the graces which we obtain from heaven, pass through Mary's hands. Another Father of the Church tells us: "Mary is like a good parent who is not content with caring for her children in general, but watches over each one of them in particular." If God had treated us as we deserved after many of our sins, we should long ago have been burning in hell. O how many are in those flames who would not be there if they had had recourse to Mary! She would have implored her Son to prolong their lives, to give them time to do penance. If this misfortune has not happened to us, dear brethren, we may thank Mary for it; it is she to whom we really owe it. She throws herself at the feet of her divine Son, and says to Him: "My Son, a little more time for this sinner; perhaps he will amend, perhaps he will act differently than he formerly did" What does she do to avert the wrath of the Father? She points out to Him all that His Son did and suffered, to repair the honor of which He has been deprived by sin. She hastens to remind her Son of everything that she suffered during her life for His sake. "My son," she says to Him every moment, "just a few days longer, perhaps he will amend." O how great is the affection of a mother! And yet there are some who despise her; others not only despise her, they despise by their mockeries all those who have confidence in her! Now, dear brethren, although they have only shown contempt for her, she has, nevertheless, not forsaken them, for were this the case, these mockers would already be in hell.
When we love some one, we are happy to possess his or her picture. It is the same if we love the Blessed Virgin, my dear friends. We consider it an honor and duty to have her picture in our house, to remind us frequently of this good Mother. Furthermore, those parents who are truly Christians should never omit to inspire their children with a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. This is the best means to call down the blessings of heaven, and the protection of Mary upon your families.
The Blessed Virgin is not only a dispenser of graces, but also a rampart against the assaults of the evil spirit! Once, when St. Dominic, her great servant, was about to drive the evil spirit out of one possessed, the evil spirit declared, with a loud voice, that the Blessed Virgin was his bitterest enemy, for she brought all his intentions to naught; that without her the world would be without religion, as he would have been able to destroy the Church by schism and heresy. Thus you see, dear brethren what valuable hep Mary is to all who call upon her in the battle with the archfiend.
It is safe to say that all Christians have a great devotion to Mary, with the exception of those hardened sinners who have long lost their faith, and who wallow in the mire of their passions. The evil spirit strives to hold them in the blindness until the moment of death opens their eyes. Ah, if they had taken refuge in Mary, they would not have fallen into hell as they did!
But, again, my dear friends, it is not enough to honor Mary only with our lips in order to deserve her protection. We must also endeavor to acquire those virtues of which she was such a shining example. We must strive to acquire her great humility. Although she wll knew that God had exalted her to the highest of all dignities, to be the Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth, she despised no one. She looked upon herself as the least of creatures. We must also aspire to her extraordinary purity, which made her so pleasing to God. Her modesty was so great that God regarded her with delight. We must, my dear friends, detach ourselves from the things of this world, and think only of heaven, our true country. After the ascension of her divine Son, she only languished upon earth. She endured life, indeed, with patience, but she ardently awaited death, which would reunite her with her divine Son, the sole object of her love. How often did she not cry out with the Prophet: "My God, how much longer wilt thou permit my banishment to last? O when will that happy moment come when I shall be united to Thee forevermore? O if you see my beloved, tell Him that I languish with love!" God took her out of this world where she had suffered so much during her long pilgrimage. She died, but it was neither old age nor the feebleness of nature that caused her death, but it was her love for her divine Son. Her first breath had been an aspiration of life; it was proper that her last should be a sigh of love. She knew no fear, because she had never offended God by sin; she had no sorrow, because she was never attached to the things of the world; she signed only for Jesus, and death procured this happiness for her. She beheld Him coming to meet her, with the whole court of heaven, to honr her triumphant entry into heaven. Thus did this holy Virgin fall asleep in the embrace of the Lord; thus did this beautiful star vanish, which had illumined the world for seventy-two years. Thus triumphed over death she who gave birth to the author of all life!
What should we conclude from all this, dear brethren? This, that like Mary we are striving for the same happiness, and that it should be our sole purpose so to strive that we may merit it. This is what I wish you all! Amen.