The Liturgical Year, Paschal Book III
By: Dom Gueranger +Impriamtur 1927
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST
It is our intention to explain, during this week, the workings of the Holy Ghost, both in the Church, and in the faithful soul. These seven days are given to us, that we may know and appreciate the great Gift sent us by the Father and the Son. Moreover the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, has seven different ways whereby He manifests His presence in our souls. It behoves us, therefore, to devote this happy week to the study and love of the sevenfold gift, whereby are to be wrought our salvation and sanctification.
The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are seven energies, which He graciously infuses into the soul, when He enters there by sanctifying grace. Actual graces put these divinely infused powers into motion, supernatural and meritorious of life everlasting are produced by the free consent of our will.
The prophet Isaias, guided by divine inspiration, has told us of these seven gifts. He is foretelling the workings of the Holy Ghost upon the Soul of the Song of God made Man, whom he calls the Flower of a virginal root of JEsse. HE says: 'And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the Spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge, and of godliness, and HE shall be filled with the Spirit of of the fear of the Lord.' (Is. xi. 2,3) These mysterious words not only express the qualities of the Holy Ghost; they also describe the effects He produces in the soul of man; and it is in this sense that they have been interpreted by the holy fathers and theologians.
The sacred Humanity of the Incarnate Son of God is the supernatural type of our own; and what the Holy Ghost operated in the former for its sanctification, that same, in proportion, He wills to do in the latter. He infused into the Son of Mary the seven energies mentioned by the prophet; and same seven gifts are prepared for regenerated man. But let us notice the order in which they come. Isaias begins with the Spirit of wisdom, and ends with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Wisdom, as we shall see further on, is the noblest prerogative of which man is capable; whereas the fear of the Lord is but the beginning of wisdom, as the royal psalmist assures us. (Ps. cx. 10.) The soul of Jesus was created for a personal union with the divine Word, and was therefore treated with exceptional honor; the first and foremost gift infused into it was that of wisdom, and the gift of the fear of the Lord followed, necessarily indeed (because a creature is not perfect unless it have this quality), but still as a sequel and completion. With us, on the contrary, frail and inconstant as we are, the fear of God is the foundation of our whole spiritual building, and by it we raise ourselves gradually to that wisdom which brings union with God. It is by means of the gifts of the Holy Ghost that man attains to perfection; but they are bestowed upon him in the order inverse of that wherein Isaias names them when speaking of the Son of God. We receive them at the time of our Baptism; and, when we have the misfortune to lose them (as we do when we lose sanctifying grace, that is, when we commit a mortal sin), they are restored to us by the sacrament of Penance.
Let us respectfully consider how the whole work of our salvation and sanctification is marked with the mysterious number seven. There are seven principal virtues which render us dear to our Maker; it is by seven gifts that the Holy Ghost leads us to our last end; the seven sacraments apply to us the merits of the Incarnation and redemption; it is after seven weeks from the Pasch, that the holy Spirit is sent upon the earth, there to establish and maintain the kingdom of God. Can we wonder, after this, that satan should have sacrilegiously mimicked the work of God, striving to destroy, by the seven deadly sins, the creatures whom God would save?
THE GIFT OF FEAR
Pride is the obstacle to man's virtue and well-being. It is pride that leads us to rsist God, to make self our last end, in a word, to work our own ruin. Humility alone can save us from this terrible danger. Who will give us humility? The Holy Ghost; and this by infusing into us the gift of the fear of God.
This holy sentiment is based on the following truths, which are taught us by faith: the sovereign majesty of God, in comparison with whom we are mere nothingness; the infinite sanctity of that God, in whose presence we are but unworthiness and sin; after death; the danger of falling into sin, which may be our misfortune at any time, if we do not correspond to grace, for although grace be never wanting, yet we have it in our power to resist it.
Man, as the apostle tells us, must work out his salvation with fear and trembling; (Philipp. ii. 12.) but this fear, which is a gift of the Holy Ghost, is not the base sentiment which goes no further than the dread of eternal punishments. It keeps alive within us an abiding compunction of heart, even though we hope that our sins have long ago been forgiven, It prevents our forgetting that we are sinners, that we are wholly dependent upon God's mercy, and that we are not as yet safe, except in hope. (Rom. viii. 24.)
This fear of God, therefore, is not a servile fear; on the contrary, it is the source of the noblest sentiments. Inasmuch as it is a filial dread of offending God by sin, it may go hand-in-hand with love. Arising as it does from a reverence for God's infinite majesty and holiness, it puts the creature in his right place, and, as St. Paul says, it contributes to the perfecting of sanctification. (II. Cor. vii.) Hence this great apostle, who had been rapt up to the third heaven, assures us that he was severe in his treatment of himself, lest he should become a cast-away. (I. Cor.ix. 27.)
The spirit of independence and of false liberty, which is nowadays so rife amongst us, is a great enemy to the fear of God' and one of the miseries of our age is, that there is little fear of God. Familiarity with God but too frequently usurps the place of that essential basis of the Christian life. The result is, that there is no progress in virtue, such people are prey to illusion; and the sacraments, which previously worked so powerfully in their souls, are now well-nigh unproductive. The reason is, that the gift of fear has been superseded by a conceited self-complacency. Humility has no further sway; a secret and habitual pride has paralyzed the soul; and seeing that these people scout the very idea of their ever trembling before the great God of heaven, we may well ask them if they know who God is.
Therefore we beseech thee, O holy Spirit! keep up within us the fear of God, which Thou didst infuse into our hearts at our Baptism. This saving fear will ensure our perseverance in virtue, for it will oppose the growth of pride. Let it pierce our soul through and through, and ever abide with us as our safeguard. Let it bring down our haughtiness, and rouse us from tepidity, by ceaselessly reminding us of the greatness and holiness of Him who is our Creator and our Judge.
This holy fear does not stifle the sentiment of love; on the contrary, it removes what would be a hindrance to its growth. The heavenly Powers see and ardently love their God, their infinite and eternal good; and yet, they tremble before His dread Majesty: Tremunt Postestates.
And shall we, covered countless imperfections, exposed on every side to snares, obliged to fight with so many enemies - shall we flatter ourselves that we can do without this strong and filial fear? and that we need nothing to stimulate us, when we are in those frequent trials - a want of fervour in our will, or of light in our mind? O holy Spirit! watch over us! Preserve within us Thy precious gift! Teach us how to combine peace and joy or heart with the fear of our Lord and God, according to those words of the psalmist: Serve ye the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling! (Ps. ii. 11.)
"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.
Catholic Ceremonies and Explanation of the Ecclesiastical Year
From the French of Abbe Durand
Processions and Rogations- Plagues, ceaselessly recurring, desolated the Church in Vienne: droughts, earthquakes, fires, and the ravages of wild beasts. St. Mamertus, to appease heaven, ordered prayers, or rogations, sanctified by fasting and accompanied by a solemn procession. Copying those of the Ninivites, they were three days in duration, and the three days immediately preceding the feast of the Ascension were chosen. Is it not the Gospel of the last Sunday after Easter which says: "Ask and you shall receive"? St. Mamertus remembered this, and put under the protection of this solemn promise his celebrated institution, which the entire Church soon adopted. "It seemed," says Bossuet, "that the Church wished to lay upon JEsus Christ ascending into heaven all her desires, as the true Mediator for man with God." (Cateh. des Fetes.)
In the processions of the rogation-days, as in that of St. Mark, the Church prays for the fruits of the earth. Not to join therein is to affect a stupid independence: the rich as well as the poor, and more than the poor, because His domains are vaster; the city man as well as he who tills the fields, need God. (See what has been said of processions in general, page 89.) Editors note, this information is at the end of the article.))
The Ascension.- The fortieth day following His resurrection, Our Lord appeared a last time to His disciples, ate with them, led them to the Mount of Olives, and there, toward noon, arose into heaven in their presence: this is the mystery celebrated on this day. The paschal candle is extinguished after the gospel, to indicate that Jesus Christ, the true light, has left the earth.
CHAPTER VIII- PROCESSIONS
Image of Life.- Processions are a figure of our life here below. We put pass over the earth, "for we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come." (Heb. xiii.14.) Now is not this religious march a figure of our poor life? Each procession repeats to those who will hear the language of the liturgy: Life is a passage: it flows away as rapidly as the brook in the valley; it flies like the cloud in the heavens' it vanishes like the breath of a flower, fades like the smile of a child. In its course the procession advances by roads sometimes stony, sometimes smooth; here the sun's burning rays beat down, a little further great trees throw upon us their refreshing shade. These are truly like the changes of life, pain is succeeded by joy; joy again by sorrow; both are fleeting, for here everything passes away.
The processions do not return by the same road: does man see agin the years that are gone? They have disappeared, the days of childhood, those of youth, and in their turn follows old age, and eternity. We all have issued forth from the bosom of God, as the brook from its source, the ray from the sun. God is our beginning; He is also our end.Created for Him, our vocation is to go to Him; come forth from His bosom, after our pilgrimage we should re-enter there. Th church from which we go out and to which we return will remind us of our divine origin and our divine destiny. The recollection of grandeur should not alone present itself to us. Humanity, in the person of Adam and Eve, was driven from the earthly paradise and condemned to exile in this vale of tears; and we ourselves have many times, like other prodigals, left our Father's house. In leaving the church we will be reminded of the punishment of our first parents, and perhaps reproach ourselves for our ingratitude toward God.
The Position of the Cross.- Who will be the guide of humanity in the darkness and dangers of its pilgrimage? Jesus Christ, Whose glorious standard is carried at the head of the procession. We must follow after it if we would come to His kingdom. He who has always before him Jesus Christ crucified soon feels that in the shadow of the cross pains lose their bitterness and pleasures their seduction. The crucifix precedes us because Jesus Christ Himself has preceded us in the way of trial; His feet have been torn by the stones and the thorns, and He has left His blood on the sharp sides of the stones, on the piercing darts of the thorns; it is a divine balm which will heal all our wounds. What does it matter by what road the Lord wills us to march? Jesus has sanctified its pains in taking them upon Himself. He, the man of all sorrows, has preceded us in all suffering.
Order of the Procession.- Among the virtues there are two above all others recommended to us: humility and charity. The Church recalls their practice by the order followed in her processions. The most worthy come last, and the least wroth are at the head of the processor., according to the counsel of the Saviour: "And he that will be the first among you, let him be your servant." (St. Matt. xx. 27.) This is the procession's lesson of humility. The faithful who march two by two by this symbolic number figure the double charity recommended by Our Lord when He sent His disciples two by two to preach the Gospel. (St. Gregory, Homil., xvii.) The Church invites us to practice this virtue at the moment when the procession is leaving the sanctuary. "Do not forget," she says, "to walk in peace and harmony" ("Procedamus in pace"). How maternal, too, is the care of the Church. She puts her little children close to the cross, by the side of Him Who always kept His tenderest blessings, His sweetest caresses, for them.
The Sound of the Bells.- During the procession the ringing of bells repels the assaults of the evil spirits. The bell is the sacred trumpet of the Church militant; its peals remind us that life is the time of combat, and that "powers of the air" are our chief enemies. But what arms shall we use? Prayer. This is why during the course of the procession the sacred chants arise; we must oppose perpetual resistance to an enemy that never sleeps. "Watch, then, and pray," says the Church with Jesus Christ. "We ought always to pray, and not to faint." (St. Luke xviii. 1.)
Efficacy of Processions.- The common cause of our falls is forgetfulness of our destiny; strangers and travelers here below, we make of this earth a permanent dwelling-place. And when the Church wishes to call down upon her guilty children the pardon of heaven she commands processions, and God allows Himself to be disarmed. St. Anthony cites a memorable example of this. In the fourteenth century Europe, disturbed by the scourge of war, was miraculously restored to peace after solemn processions. The same saint tells us that the blessed Mother of God appeared to a peasant and told him that her Son was very angry with the world because of its crimes. In her merciful compassion for sinners she revealed to him this means as the best manner of appeasing the wrath of God. (III. Pars. Hist., c. iii.)
If we desire that processions may be efficacious with God, let us bring to them the dispositions of which we have spoken. Let us regard ourselves as strangers here below; nothing is ours, all belongs to God. As travelers, we are but passing over the earth; as pilgrims, the end of our journey is heaven. And when, overcome by the heat and fatigue at the end of the procession, we find again the holy place of rest and refreshment, let us think of how sweet it will be after the labors of this life are over to rest in eternal peace beneath the shadow of God.
More resources for the Rogation Days
""By their fruits you shall know them!" So said
Christ Himself. It is the Acid Test!"
One Church is not as Good as Another
By: Wilfred G. Hurley +Imprimatur 1934
Nineteen hundred years ago with eyes stern, with words incisive and uncompromising, Jesus warned men of the evils to come. But there was to be one evil men should fear above all others. It was the one evil Christ would warn them against, time and time again. Satan? Yes! But Satan disguised as an angel of light!
It is here! It is the evil Christianity faces today! And the name of this evil is indifferentism! What is indifferentism? It is the thought that has come to you, time and time again. A thought you hear spoken of on every side. It is in the very atmosphere you breathe. What is this? That it doesn't make any difference to God what you may believe. That God doesn't care what you believe as long as you live a good life. That God doesn't care to what church you may belong, as long as you live up to the teaching of that of the church. In brief, indifferentism is simply this:"One church is as good as another."
This subtle attack on Christianity has been slowly developing during the last fifty years, coming along hand in hand with the material progress of the times. With the coming of the automobile, improved highways, the telephone, telegraph and radio, and the other various improvements to make life more livable and happy, men have been thrown more and more into contact with each other. So that today, in this nation of ours, we are really just one large family.
But the real vantage point for indifferentism came in 1917, with the World War. When men were taken from their homes, in the East, West, North, and South. Forced to live together in the closest possible contact in army camps, on the battle field, on battleships, in peril and danger, in privation and suffering. And men began to realize that no matter what belief a man might hold, he was apt to be a splendid fellow after all. And the result was, that although they might hold contradictory creeds and doctrines, a wonderful feeling of friendship, fellowship, and tolerance sprung up among men. And it was, unfortunately, in this garb of friendship and tolerance and good fellowship, that the evil of indifferentism disguised itself. Spreading far and wide until today it is an evil widespread as Christianity itself. Threatening Christianity's very existence. An evil all the more terrifying in its destruction, because while it appears lovely and beautiful on the surface, at the same time it is destroying men's souls. Does this seem far-fetched? STop and think for a minute!
If one church is as good as another, then, religion is only a matter of sentiment and good taste. There is no real truth in it. And a man is as free to follow his inclination in choosing his church, as he might be in choosing a club or a lodge. When you are indifferent to anything it doesn't require much opposition for you to give up that thing completely. Religion is no exception. You know that! And thus it requires only a little obstacle for you to drop church entirely. If you hold one church as good as another, you are not far from the belief that there is not much good in any church. And you are quite right. For, if religion is only an opinion, then it can easily be wrong, as any opinion can be wrong. Hence, there is no certainty. Everything ends in doubt and darkness. The mysteries of faith are denied. And this state of mind prepares you, sooner or later, for the complete denial of Christianity. A rejection of God's Revelation. And perhaps, even a rejection of God himself! "By their fruits you shall know them!" So said Christ Himself. It is the Acid Test! Apply it to indifferentism! What are its fruits?
FRUITS OF INDIFFERENCE
Fifty years ago, you had met a man on the street and asked him: "To what church do you belong?" he would have promptly answered you. Mentioning such and such a church. The United States was, practically speaking, a hundred per cent Christian nation. Today ask a man on the street to what church he belongs. He will be amazed and amused at your question. Seven out of ten will answer you with a pitying smile, that they belong to none. Do you know what the last census revealed the appalling fact, that the American people are now practically 70% Churchless? Think what this means! Seven out of every ten men and women in our country have put themselves down, in black and white, that God, and the worship of God, means nothing to them whatsoever.
To sum up! The last generation were, for the most part, are baptized, but are not church members. And the signs of the times seem to point out that the next generation, at least outside of the Catholic Church, will be neither church members nor baptized. That is the fruit of indifferentism in a short fifty years. Is it, or is it not, an evil? But while indifferentism comes to us disguised as an angel of light, like all disguises, it can be easily torn off. And you can see evil as it really is. Simply take your God-given gifts of intelligence, reason, and comMon sense and use them.
GOD IS TRUTH
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life," said Jesus. God is truth! But a God of infinite and absolute truth! He loves truth. And He hates and despises untruth, falsehood, and deceit. And you are the living child of the Living God! Hence, God wants you to love the truth! And hate untruth, falsehood, and deceit! If you believe in God at all, you must believe this!
Now indifferentism says that it makes no difference to God whether you believe in one thing or the other. Whether you belong to this church or another. Whether you believe one set of doctrines, or some opposing doctrines, or whether you believe anything at all. It is a terrifying statement! IT simply means that God is not
a God of truth. But a God of falsehood and untruth. That He is the Father of lies, You do away with God! Why is this?
Because, even though you know nothing at all about the teachings of the various Christian bodies in existence today, you know they are not only teaching different doctrines but they absolutely contradict each other in essential beliefs. Here is one church teaching baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation. But here is another church denying this, and saying that baptism is not necessary. Here is one church that teaches men are doomed either to eternal happiness or eternal misery. But here is another church teaching that all men will be saved. HEre is one church that is teaching Christ is really present in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. But here is another church which says He is not present, never was, never will be. And the contrary teaching is idolatry.....TO PURCHASE AND FINISH READING THIS SMALL PAMPHLET PLEASE VISIT ALL THE SAINTS BOOKS
The Planner Pack Give-a-Way!
Thank you for the overwhelming response to the planner pack give away!
We had over 1000 entries! We are so excited that these planners are near completion as they are currently being printed at the printer. Those of you who have pre-ordered they should be shipping in the next week or two and at that time you will also receive in your email the digital version for those of you who ordered the Holy Simplicity Planner (which the PDF comes free with). So without further a-do ............
the winner of the 3 Catholic Lesson Planners - Planner Pack
KATHLEEN M. who shared the planner pack on Pinterest! Thank you Kathleen for sharing and congratulations. You have already been emailed with the details on acquiring your prize.
For those of you still wanting a copy of the Holy Simplicity Planner, Maidens for Mary and/or Crusaders for Christ Planner(s)
there is still time to get pre-orders in so that your copies can go out with the first shipments. And also keep your eyes peeled on our blog over the next few months as we might just give away some more free items! We love sharing ;) A blessed 5th week of Easter to you all!
Tuesday is the Feast of the Great Martyr St. George! We thought we would share with you today the wonderful writings of Dom Gueranger
, he writes like no other! Also if you hop on over to Crusaders-for-Christ they have a wonderful children's story and also two St. George Coloring Pages free for download
! St. George ora pro nobis!The Liturgical Year - Pascal Time Book II, Vol. 8
By: Abbot Dom Guranger, O.S.B. + Imprimatur 1927
SAINT GEORGE, MARTYR APRIL 23
Clad in his bright coat of mail, mounted, on his war-steed, and spearing the dragon with his lance, George, the intrepid champion of our Risen Jesus, comes to gladden us to-day with his feast. From the East, where he is known as the great Martyr
, devotion to St. George soon spread in the Western Church, and our Christian armies have always loved and honoured him as one of their dearest patrons. His martyrdom took place in Paschal Time; and thus he stands before us as the guardian of the glorious sepulcher, just as Stephen, the Protomartyr, watches near the crib of the Infant God.
The Roman Liturgy gives no lessons on the life of St. George; but, in their stead, reads to us a passage from St. Cyprian on the sufferings of the martyrs. This derogation from the general rule dates from the fifth century. At a celebrated Council held in Rome in the year 496, Pope St. Gelasius drew up, for the guidance of the faithful, a list of books which might or might not be read without danger. Among the number of those that were to be avoided, he mentioned the 'Acts of St. George,' as having been compiled by one who, besides being an ignorant man, was also a heretic. In the East, however, there were other 'Acts' of the holy martyr, totally different from those current in Rome: but they were not known in that city. The cultus
of St. George lost nothing, in the holy city, by this absence of a true legend. From a very early period, a church was built in his honor; it was one of those that were selected as Stations, and gave a Title to a Cardinal; it exists to this day, and it is called Saint George in Velabro
(the Veil of Gold).
The Bollandists were in possession of several copies of the forbidden 'Acts'; they found them replete with absurd stories, and, of course, they rejected them. Father Papebroch has given us other and genuine 'Acts' written in Greek, and quoted by St. Andrew of Crete. They bring out the admirable character of our martyr, who held an important post in the Roman army during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. He was one of the first victims of the great persecution and suffered death at Nicomedia. Alexandra, the Emperor's wife, was so impressed at witnessing the Saint's courage, that she professed herself a Christian, and shared the crown of martyrdom with the brave soldier of Christ.
As we have already said, devotion to St. George dates from a very early period. St. Gregory of Tours gives us several proofs of its having taken root in Gaul. St. Clotilde had a singular confidence in the holy martyr, and dedicated to him the Church of her dear Abbey of Chelles. But this devotion became more general and more fervent during the Crusades, when the Christian armies witnessed the veneration in which St. George was held by the Eastern Church, and heard the wonderful things that were told of his protection on the field of battle. The Byzantine historians have recorded several remarkable instances of the kind; and the Crusaders returned to their respective countries publishing their own experience of the victories gained through the Saint's intercession. The Republic of Genoa chose him for its patron; and Venice honoured him as its special protector, after St. Mark. But nowhere was St. George so enthusiastically loved as in England. Not only was it decreed in a Council held at Oxford, in the year 1222, that the feast of the Great Martyr should be observed as one of obligation; not only was devotion to the valiant soldier of Christ encouraged, throughout Great Britain, by the first Norman Kings; but there are documents anterior to the invasion of William the Conqueror, which prove that St. George was invoked as the special patron of England even so far back as the ninth century. Edward III did but express the sentiment of the country when he put the Order of the Garter, which he instituted in 1330, under the patronage of the warrior Saint. In Germany, King Frederic III founded the Order of St. George in the year 1468.
St. George is usually represented as killing a dragon; and where the representation is complete, there is also given the figure of a princess, whom the Saint thus saves from being devoured by the monster. This favourite subject of both sacred and profane art is purely symbolical, and is of Byzantine origin. It signifies the victory won over the devil, by the martyr's courages profession of faith; the princess represents Alexandra, who was converted by witnessing the Saint's heroic patience under his sufferings. Neither the 'Acts' of St. George nor the hymns of the Greek Liturgy allude to the martyr's having slain a dragon and rescued a princess. It was not till after the fourteenth century that this fable was known in the west; and it arose from a material interpretation of the emblems with which the Greeks honoured St. George, and which were introduced among us by the crusaders.
Although, as has been said, the Office of St. George is the Roman Breviary has been taken from the Common of Martyrs in Paschal Time, the following historical lesson has recently been approved for the Dioceses of England:George, who among the martyrs of the East has received the name of Great Martyr, suffered a glorious death for the sake of Christ in the persecution of Diocletian. When shortly afterwards peace was given to the Church under Constantine, the memoir of St. George began to be celebrated. Churches were erected to his honour in Palestine and at Constantinople, and devotion to him spread through the East and into the West. From early times Christian armies have invoked the protection of St. George, together with SS Maurice and SEbastian, when going into battle. Special devotion was shown to St. George in England for many centuries, and Pope Benedict XIV declared him the special protector of that kingdom.(Editors note: See the text of Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year for a Hymn of St. George)
Thou, O George, art the glorious type of a Christian soldier. Whilst serving under an earthly monarch, thou didst not forget thy duty to the King of heaven. Thou didst shed thy blood for the faith of Christ; and he, in return, appointed thee protector of Christian armies. Be their defender in battle, and bless with victory them that fight in a just cause. Protect them under the shadow of thy standard; cover them with they shield; make them the terror of their enemies. Our Lord is the God of Hosts; and he frequently uses war as the instrument of his designs, both of justice and mercy. They alone win true victory who have heaven on their side; and such soldiers, when on the battle-field, seem to the world to be doing the work of man, whereas it is the work of God they are furthering. Hence are they more generous, because more religious, than other men. The sacrifices they have to make, and the dangers they have to face, teach them unselfishness. What wonder, then, that soldiers have given so many martyrs to the Church!
But there is another warfare, in which we Christians are all enlisted, and of which St, Paul speaks, when he says: Labour as a good soldier of Christ: for no man is crowned, save he that striveth lawfully. (2 Tim. ii 5)
That we have thus to strive and fight during our life, the same Apostle assures us in these words: Take unto you the armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things taking the shield of faith, and wherewith ye may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of the hope of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. vi 13,17)
We, then, are soldiers, as thou was, O holy Martyr! Before ascending into heaven, our divine leader wishes to review his troops; do thou present us to him. He has loaded us with honours, notwithstanding our past disloyalties; we must, henceforth, prove ourselves worth of our position. In the Paschal Communion which we have received, we have a pledge of victory; how can we ever be so base as to permit ourselves to be conquered! Watch over us, O sainted warrior! Let thy prayers and example encourage us to fight against the dragon of hell. He dreads the armour we wear; for it is Jesus himself that prepared it for us, and tempered it in his own precious Blood: may we, like thee, present it to him whole and entire, when he calls us to our eternal rest!
There was a time when the whole Christian world loved and honoured thy memory with enthusiastic joy: but now, alas! this devotion has grown cold, and thy feast passes unnoticed by thousands. O holy martyr! avenge this ingratitude by imitating thy divine King, who maketh his sun to rise upon both good and bad; take pity on this world, perverted as it is by false doctrines, and tormented at this very time by the most terrible scourges. Have compassion on thy dear England, which has been seduced by the dragon of hell, and by him made the instrument for effecting his plots against the Lord his Christ. Take up thy speak as of old; give the monster battle, and emancipate the isle of Saints from his slavish yoke. Heaven and earth join in the great prayer! In the name of our Risen Jesus, aid thine own and once devoted people to a glorious resurrection!
Free download for celebrating the Feast of St. George!
"It is God's merciful will that a Christian atmosphere, so to speak, should pervade every Christian household, in order that these precious germs of Christian virtue may unfold and grow, blossom and bring forth good fruit, and that the child's heart may thus become truly consecrated in a Christian manner."
Today's post is taken from a most wonderful book called The Christian Mother written by Rev. W. Cramer
. Its a most wonderful book full of prayers of every kind for mothers as well as different meditations for mothers on the Rosary, Stations of the Cross etc. We are thankful that it has been reprinted and The Christian Mother is now available over at All the Saint's Books.
The winner of our give-a-way from last week, of the title Mary Help of Christians
, is Laura G.! Please email us
with your address and we will get that book out to you right away.
THE CONSECRATION OF A MOTHERThe Christian Mother - By Rev. W Cramer
If we desire a plant or flower to grow, it is necessary that the surrounding atmosphere be a quality corresponding to its peculiar nature. Thus it is that the most beautiful flowers generally thrive only in a mild southern climate. And in the spring would not everything die and wither away were the cold north wind continually to sweep over the fields and dampness and cold prevail, and were the rays of the sun to remain powerless? So also in a home a corresponding atmosphere must prevail if what is good in the child is to come forth and develop. In addition to the supernatural life, Almighty God has engrafted in the tender heart of the child in baptism the germs of the heaven-born plants of faith, of hope, and of chary, and the virtues contained in them. There they must grow more and more, and bring forth blossoms and fruits worthy of eternal life. The house of the parents is the enclosure to which these heavenly plants in the child's heart are almost exclusively confided during its childhood. Here they are hidden, and thus it may easily be seen that everything requires a proper atmosphere to exist in it; in other words, that here a truly Christian spirit should reign, that in all the relations and conditions of the family life the ruling of truly Catholic sentiment should make itself felt. And that this should really be the case, especially in the first years of the child-in those years properly called childhood- depends almost exclusively upon the mother.
It is God's merciful will that a Christian atmosphere, so to speak, should pervade every Christian household, in order that these precious germs of Christian virtue may unfold and grow, blossom and bring forth good fruit, and that the child's heart may thus become truly consecrated in a Christian manner.
Let us imagine a child who from its most tender years has been in such a truly Christian family, who has lived in a home where everything was full of the spirit of a Catholic fear of God and of true piety, so that it never saw nor heard anything contrary to this spirit, but was rather met everywhere, in behavior, in conversation in the doings and omissions of the other members of the household, even in the furnishing of the house, with the influence of a truly Catholic spirit, of a truly Catholic taste and sincere piety; would it not be almost impossible for a child living under such influences to grow up with a different spirit and to lead a different kind of life? Such an effect has atmosphere of a truly Christian home beyond doubt; it is of immense advantage the happy and truly Christian development of the child; it gives to the tender heart of the child in truth a certain kind of consecration, the consecration of a Christian heart.
Rise, then, Christian mothers! create as much as it is in your power a Christian atmosphere within your homes! This belongs particularly to you, since the child is, as we have indicated before, in its earlier decisive years especially
, yes, often exclusively
, given to your care. The behavior of the mother, her conversation, her manner of acting, her example, her management of the family, these create the atmosphere for the little ones. Happy for her and for her children if she understands how to make this atmosphere truly Christian and Catholic, that is to say, truly wholesome for her children. And this is accomplished by every truly Christian mother.
The very house has, through her endeavors, a Christian outfit. Therein we meet, at least in the principal rooms, religious pictures, a crucifix, perhaps a statue of the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and of some Saints. There one sees a vessel for holy water, probably also blessed candles and the like. The child notices all these things, becomes inquisitive about them, puts questions, learns from its mother the signification of them, receives from what it sees and hears salutary religious impressions, and becomes thus quite early and imperceptibly accustomed to a Catholic life - a consecration of the young, tender heart.
But far more does the true, genuine, practical Catholic life
of the mother create this wholesome atmosphere for the child. It observes that the mother prayers, that she goes to church, to instructions, to confession, and to holy communion. It sees how, before and after meals, the mother devoutly folds her hands and prays; and all this very soon becomes sacred in its eyes, for the very reason that it is done by its mother, and it feels itself impelled to do the same; it tries to imitate its mother as closely as possible. Or the child notices how industrious the mother is; how carefully she preserves order and cleanliness; how, when exposed to difficulties and troubles and sufferings, she maintains her peace of heart and bears everything patiently, so that it never hears form her lips an impatient, angry expression, far less anything like profanity. It sees how it s mother conducts herself with great compassion, mildness, and affability towards all the persons of her household; how much goodness she shows towards strangers; that she is always ready to oblige and please them, and how willingly she assists the poor. All these things are so many silent exhortations for the child, which delights in always doing as its mother does and thus, without perhaps a single word of direction from her, it is induced and encouraged to begin to practice all those virtues that shine forth in her, and thus the germs of these virtues, which God has laid in its heart, begin to thrive and grow.
And the same may be said of all other actions of the mother with regard to her child. In fine, whatever a truly Christian mother does is for the child a salutary, wholesome influence, which causes the germs which God has planted in its heart to shoot up and grow continually, whereby from its earlier years a reverent esteem and love for religion is instilled into it. This, then, is the Christian consecration of the child's heart.
The influence which the uninterrupted Christian conduct of a mother exercises on her child descends deeply into its whole nature. This influence engenders in its heart effects almost imperishable, so that in many respects it is to be valued much higher than exhortations and other influences. Happy the child that has experienced this in itself! A happiness, a grace, wherewith nothing upon earth can be compared.
40 Martyrs of Sebaste
A blessed second week of Easter to you all! Last year we hosted a special 50 days of Easter series
that we hope you will still enjoy reading from our blog post archives. Today's post continues one with our Easter theme.Anecdotes and Examples
By: Rev. Francis Spirago Imprimatur 1908Q. On what day did Christ rise from the dead?A. Christ rose from the dead, glorious and immortal on Easter Sunday, the third day after His death.
THE PASCHAL CONTROVERSY
The first Easter Sunday fell on the 26th of March, the year 782 A.U.C. or 29 A.D. The early Christian Church was much disturbed by the controversy as to what day was the proper one on which to celebrate the Easter festival. The dispute was waged between the JEwish converts who constituted the church in Asia Minor, on the one hand, and the rest of the Christian world, on the other. The former celebrated the crucifixion on the 14th of the month Nisan, and the resurrection on the third day following. The consequence was that Easter was oftenest celebrated on a week day. In the rest of Christendom the custom was to celebrate the resurrection always on Sunday, and the death of Our Lord on the preceding Friday. The controversy lasted centuries, and though attempts to settle it were made by Popes Anicetus (157-168) and Victor (191-201) it was not until the Council of Nicaea (325) that the western custom was adopted by all.Q. How long did Christ stay on earth after His resurrection?A. Christ stayed on earth forty days after His resurrection, to show that He was truly risen from the dead, and to instruct His apostles.THE FORTY MARTYRS
The number forty has been rendered sacred in various ways. The chosen people wandered forty years in the desert; Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai; Elias traced forty days to Mount Horeb, and Our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness. In one of the Roman legions were forty young Christian soldiers remarkable for their piety and courage. One day when the legion was being hard pressed by the enemy and was half dead from heat and thirst, these young men prayed God for aid, and immediately a thunder-storm broke out of a clear sky, the rain refreshing their fellow-sodiers, and the thunder and lightning putting the enemy to flight. Soon afterward the "Thundering Legion" was ordered on duty at a pagan religious service, and the forty Christians, for refusing to attend, were stripped and bound and laid side by side on a frozen lake. Night and day they prayed that all might persevere and preserve their number forty intact, but in the middle of the night the soldier on guard saw an angel come down with thirty-nine crowns, and at the same moment one of the suffers rolled himself over and into a hot bath which their torturers had kept handy for any who should yield. Immediately the pagan guard threw down his arms, stripped off his clothes, and announcing himself a Christian, lay down and perished with the others. Thus was their prayer answered, for the fortieth crown too had a claimant.READ MORE ABOUT THE 40 MARTYRS
FROM DOM GUERANGER'S LITURGICAL YEAR
"He who exerciseth himself devoutly in the Passion of our Lord shall find abundantly all that is useful and necessary for him." - A Kempis.
Image from Wikipedia Commons
A blessed Holy Monday to you all, this will be our last post until after Lent is over and the blessed Resurrection of our Lord is upon us. We pray that you have a most holy and fruitful Holy Week and ask your prayers for our own same intentions.
The Office of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings in Holy Week is called Tenebraæ which signifies darkness), because in ancient times it was performed at midnight. In the sanctuary we notice a large triangular candlestick. The highest candle represents Jesus Christ, Who said of Himself, "I am the Light of the World," and the rest represent the Apostles and disciples, to whom He was pleased to communicate His own prerogative of being the Light of the world (Matt. v. 14). These candles are successively extinguished during the Office to represent how the Apostles fled and disappeared at the time of our Saviour's Passion. Near the end the candle representing our Lord is not extinguished, but hidden behind or under the altar to represent His death. Immediately there is profound silence to signify the horror of the Redeemer's death, followed by noise representing the earthquake and the confusion the world was in at that time.
The candlestick itself represents the Blessed Trinity, and the triangular arrangement of the candles gives us to understand that the light of truth which shone to the world from the life and doctrine of Christ and His disciples was derived from the same Blessed Trinity, and was intended to proclaim God's glory.
"The earth is darkened - rent the Temple's veil Now do the hearts of men with terror quail:
Rend Thou my heart, O God, in this dread hour; Break it with sweet contrition's holy power."
Example. - Count Elzear
The devout Count Elzear, despite the purity of his life, was blamed, calumniated, and otherwise badly treated even by his own subjects. Being asked one day by his wife Delphina how he would bear with indifference so many insults, he replied: "Whenever I receive an injury from anyone, I immediately turn away my heart to consider the great affronts that were put upon the Son of God by His own creatures, and I say to myself: Even if they were to pluck thee by the beard, or to buffet thee, what would that be in comparison with what they Divine Lord endured with so much patience? Know, moreover, that sometimes in these cases I feel great movements of anger, but then I fix my mind directly upon some corresponding injury that Jesus Christ once endured; nor do I let it wander from this consideration until I find that the inclination to anger has entirely passed away."
Links & Resources
"The cross is my sure salvation; the cross I ever adore; the cross of my Lord is with me; the cross is my refuge."
Could you Explain Catholic Practices?
By: Rev. Charles J. Mullaly, S.J. Imprimatur 1937
Non-Catholics are often puzzled on seeing a crucifix in a Catholic home. Some foolishly believe that Catholics adore the cross. Catholics adore God alone, and they adore Christ because He is God and our Saviour. We venerate the cross for what it means, just as we venerate or hold in esteem a picture or photograph of our mother, to remind us of her love. The cross, as St. Paul frequently tells us, is the sacred symbol of the Passion of our Saviour , and as such it is ever placed before us by the Church to remind us of Christ's love for us. It is the emblem of our faith in Christ crucified. We kiss it with veneration as a loving child would kiss the picture of his mother.
There is a difference between a cross and crucifix. A cross becomes a crucifix only when it bears the corpus or figure of Christ. Both, however, are to us a symbol of the Redemption. The cross was the instrument on which the Romans cruelly put to death recalcitrant slaves and criminals, and it was on this instrument of ignominy that Christ died for us. Hence, it became not only a sign of the Christian religion, but a symbol of Christian virtue, namely, victory over passions and of suffering endured for Christ's sake. Thus, also, arose from earliest times the custom of making the Sign of the Cross, especially before beginning any undertaking. The pagans called the primitive Christians "cross-worshipers."
The story of the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, is the most interesting. She caused excavations to be made on Mount Calvary, in the year 326. Deep in the ground, and at some distance apart, three crosses were found, together with the detached "titulus," or inscription which Pontius Pilate had placed on the Cross of our Saviour. As there was no way of identifying the True Cross, Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, suggested that each of the three be applied to a sick woman, with the prayer that God would reveal which was the Cross of our Saviour. The miracle happened, the woman was cured, and parts of the Cross were distributed to various churches. One portion was kept in Jerusalem, and was later lost when the Saracens took the city in the seventh century. Another was sent to Rome; a third to Constantinople. While the finding of the Cross is not an article of Faith, it would be foolish not to believe the story, for such early writers of the Church as St. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-386), St. Ambrose (A.D. 340-397), St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 344-403) and Rufinus (A.D. 645-410) confirm the fact, and the Feast of the Finding of the Cross dates from very early times in Jerusalem.
One of the earliest symbols of the cross is the anchor, because of its similarity to the cross. From being a symbol of hope, it took on a high meaning, a hope based on the Cross of Christ. There are many types of crosses, but Christ was crucified on what is known as the "crux immissa" or Latin cross, in which the transverse beam was set two-thirds up the vertical beam.
The letters I.N.R.I. on the crucifix are an abbreviation of the words "Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum," namely "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," the inscription which was placed above the head of Christ. The Indulgences on a blessed crucifix are attached to the corpus; hence if the figure of Christ is lost, the cross is no longer an Indulgenced crucifix.
From: A Catholic dictionary : containing some account of the doctrine, discipline, rites, ceremonies, councils, and religious orders of the Catholic church (1887)
The cross, as we have shown in an earlier article, was used in Christian worship from the earliest times ; the crucifix, or representation of Christ crucified, was probably introduced much later. No crucifix has been found in the Catacombs ; no certain allusion to a crucifix is made by any Christian writer of the first four centuries. It is true that in excavations made on the Palatine hill near the church of St. Anastasia, a picture was found on the wall known as the "blasphemous crucifix." A figure with the body of a man and the head of an ass is hanging on a cross, a slave stands by adoring the figure, and the inscription in Greek uncials, runs "Alexamenus worships [his]God." This caricature belongs no doubt to the ante-Nicene age ; but does it prove the use of crucifixes among Christians at hat time ? It might be regarded as an additional proof were other and more convincing ones forthcoming. As it is, we must suppose that a heathen, having heard that the Christians worshipped a crucified God, and being also familiar with the common calumny that the Christians worshipped the head of an ass, combined the two ideas in his rude fresco. In the first four centuries, then, there is no conclusive evidence that Christian* ever placed a figure on the cross.
In the iifth century it became usual to t the figure of a lamb or even a bust of Christ on the cross, sometimes above, sometimes below, sometimes in the middle and many crucifixes of this kind still exist. St. Paulinas of Nola (Ep. 32) describes one of them in the words "Sub cruce sanguinea niveo atat Christus in agno ;" so that the cross here must have been red, the figure on it white. From the sixth century onwards crucifixes in the strict sense were in use. St. Gregory of Tours (" De Gloria Martyrum," 1, 2, 3), towards the end of the sixth century, mentions a picture of the crucifixion in the church of St. Genesius at Narbonne. A small cross of brass with the figure of Christ on it was found in the grave of the Frankish sovereign Chilperic. A SyriacMS. of the Gospels,written in 586, and now in Florence, contains a picture of the crucifixion. In 692 the Synod in Trullo, recognising a custom which had already become predominant, decreed (can. 82) that for the future, instead of the Lamb, the figure of Christ should be placed on the cross. We pass on to speak of the form given to the crucifix. In the Syriac book of the Gospels, Christ is completely clothed, with hands and feet nailed, each foot being fastened by a separate nail. In the crucifix at Narbonne described by St. Gregory, Christ's body was almost naked. But in one point all the earliest crucifixes agreed. They all represented Christ, as nailed, indeed, to the cross, but with open eyes, in dignified repose, and without any trace of pain on his face. Sometimes a royal crown was placed on his head.
When the Greeks, though not before the tenth century, painted Christ on the cross, with anatomical correctness, as dying or already dead, the innovation gave great scandal to the Latins. Cardinal Humbert attacked the Greeks for this practice in very violent language, while a synod1 under the schismatical patriarch Michael Cerularius speaks of godless men from the West who anathematised the orthodox church because it " did not change unnaturally the form of man " which Christ took. Gradually, however, the Greek custom prevailed even in the West, partly because it was reasonable, partly because Greek artists often settled in Western Europe ; and D'Agincourt gives copies of Italian crucifixes from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries which follow the Greek fashion. " (From Hefele,
Meditations for Lent
By: Thomas Aquinas
Fourth Monday - CHRIST BY His PASSION MERITED TO BE EXALTED
He became obedient unto death even to the death of the cross : for which cause God hath exalted him. Phil. ii. 8.
Merit is a thing which implies a certain equality of justice. Thus St. Paul says, To him that worketh the reward is reckoned according to debt (Rom. iv. 4). Now since a man who commits an injustice takes for himself more than is due to himself, it is just that he suffer loss even in what is actually due to him. If a man steals one sheep, he shall give back four as it says in Holy Scripture (Exod. xxii. i). And this is said to be merited inasmuch as in this way the man s evil will is punished. In the same way the man who acts with such justice that he take less than what is due to him, merits that more shall be generously superadded to what he has, as a kind of reward for his just will. So, for instance, the gospel tells us, He that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke xiv. 1 1). Now in His Passion Christ humbled himself below His dignity in four respects : (i) In respect of His Passion and His death, things which He did not owe to undergo. (ii) In respect to places, for His body was placed in a grave and his soul in hell. (iii) In respect to the confusion and shame that He endured. (iv) In respect to His being delivered over to human authority, as He said Himself to Pilate, Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above (John xix. n).
Therefore, on account of His Passion, He merited a fourfold exaltation. (i) A glorious resurrection. It is said in the Psalm (Ps. cxxxviii. i), Thou hast known my sitting down, that is, the humiliation of my Passion, and my rising up. (ii) An ascension into heaven. Whence it is said, He descended first into the lower parts of the earth : He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens (Eph. iv. 9, 10). (iii) To be seated at the right hand of the Father, with His divinity made manifest. Isaias says, He shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and St. Paul says, He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names (Phil. ii. 8, 9), that is to say, He shall be named God by all, and all shall pay Him reverence as God. And this is why St. Paul adds, That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (ibid. x). (iv) A power of judgment. For it is said, Thy cause hath been judged as that of the wicked. Cause and judgment thou shalt recover (Job xxxvi. 17). (3. 49. 6.)