"To serve God is to reign." - St. Antoninus
PICTORIAL LIVES OF THE SAINTS WITH REFLECTIONS FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR
May 10.—ST. ANTONINUS, Bishop.
ANTONINUS, or Little Antony, as he was called from his small stature, was born at Florence in 1389. After a childhood of singular holiness, he begged to be admitted into the Dominican house at Fiesole; but the Superior, to test his sincerity and perseverance, told him he must first learn by heart the book of the Decretals, containing several hundred pages. This apparently impossible task was accomplished within twelve months; and Antoninus received the coveted habit in his sixteenth year. While still very young, he filled several important posts of his Order, and was consulted on questions of difficulty by the most learned men of his day; being known, for his wonderful prudence, as "the Counsellor." He wrote several works on theology and history, and sat as Papal Theologian at the Council of Florence. In 1446 he was compelled to accept the archbishopric of that city; and in this dignity earned for himself the title of "the Father of the Poor," for all he had was at their disposal. St. Antoninus never refused an alms which was asked in the name of God. When he had no money, he gave his clothes, shoes, or furniture. One day, being sent by the Florentines to the Pope, as he approached Rome a beggar came up to him almost naked, and asked him for an alms for Christ's sake. Outdoing St. Martin, Antoninus gave him his whole cloak. When he entered the city, another was given him; by whom he knew not. His household consisted of only six persons; his palace contained no plate or costly furniture, and was often nearly destitute of the necessaries of life. His one mule was frequently sold for the relief of the poor, when it would be bought back for him by some wealthy citizen. He died embracing the crucifix, May 2d, 1459, often repeating the words, "To serve God is to reign."Reflection
.—"Alms-deeds," says St. Augustine, "comprise every kind of service rendered to our neighbor who needs such assistance. He who supports a lame man bestows an alms on him with his feet; he who guides a blind man does him a charity with his eyes; he who carries an invalid or an old man upon his shoulders imparts to him an alms of his strength. Hence none are so poor but they may bestow an alms on the wealthiest man in the world."READ MORE ABOUT ST. ANTONINUS AND VIEW A MAP SHOWING WHERE HIS RELICS ARE OVER AT ALL THE SAINTS AND PETER AND PAUL
This Weeks Friday Fare ...... Food for the Soul Our Lady of La Salette
ANECDOTES AND EXAMPLES FOR THE CATECHISM
By: Rev. Francis Spirago +Imprimatur 1908
Q. Which are the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin?A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are:-Prayer.
"HOLY FATHER, PUT IN YOUR HAND."
We ought to pray that not our will but God's will be done. One of the popes ordered a plan for a new church to be designed by an architect. When it was ready, the architect sent it by his little boy for the Holy Father's inspection. The Pop approved highly of the design, and to show his satisfaction at seeing his wishes so well carried out, he called the boy into his room, and opening a drawer which was filled with ducats, said: "Put in your hand, my boy, and take as many as you can hold." The child looked up at the Pope and said: "Holy Father, put your hand in; it is much larger than mine." Let us learn from this child how we ought to act toward almighty God. We ought not to pray that our will may be done, but rather to exclaim: "Thy will be done, O Lord." For God knows far better than we do what is good for us, and He will do more for us than we can ask or think.Fasting.
On September 19th, 1846, on Mt. La Salette, in the south of France, Our Lady appeared to two young shepherds, Melany and Maximin. Her eyes were full of tears, and she complained that her Son's arm was getting so heavy she could hardly prevent it falling and crushing the world for its sins. She named three sins especially: blasphemy, profanation of Sunday, and disregard for laws of fasting and abstinence.Almsgiving.
COMMAND THAT THESE TONES BE MADE BERAD
The superfluous ornaments of the rich would relieve much distress. Louis, duke of Burgundy, a grandson of the French king, Louis XIV, who was educated by the celebrated Bishop Fenelon, displayed from his earliest years great kindness of heart. At a time when provisions were very scarce in Paris, he was one day coming from Versailles when he was followed and beset by a hungry crowd, begging for alms. He gave away all the money he had with him, but still the people came flocking up in ever increasing numbers clamoring for bread. Then he detached from his breast the decorations, set with precious stones, which he wore; and handing them to his attendant, said: "Sell these, and command that they be made bread."
A BEGGER SHARES WITH OTHERS THE BREAD GIVEN HIM
In a manufacturing town both parents of a certain family worked in a factory; they were out the whole day and only returned home in the evening. Thus the children were left alone in the house all day. One morning there was a knock at the door. One of the children ran to open it, and saw a beggar who asked for an alms. The child replied: "I have nothing to give you; we are poor ourselves and often have nothing to eat." The mendicant went away on hearing this. In the afternoon of the same day there was again a knock on the door. The same child went to open it, and saw before him the self-same beggar. He repeated what he had said in the morning, but the beggar said: "I have not come to ask anything of you; on the contrary, I have brought you something/" He then took from his pocket several slices of bread and butter wrapped in paper, together with a few coppers, saying: "Give those to your mother. I have begged them for you." The poor are often more liberal in giving than the rich.
THE EMPEROR LUDWIG II AND THE VILLAGE PASTOR
Almsgiving earns an eternal reward. One day, in the year 855, when the German Emperor Ludwig was out hunting, he lost his way. Toward evening he heard a bell, the Angelus, ring out from the steeple of the village church. He bent his steps in the direction whence the sound came, and reached a village of the name of Katzenhausen. He went to the presbytery and begged the worthy priest, Pastor Wulfhelm, to give him a night's lodging. The priest made the unknown but distinguished guest, welcome; he entertained him hospitably, and had a bedchamber prepared for him. The next morning the stranger heard Mass, expressed his thanks to his host, and asked what he was indebted to him. Wulfhelm answered: "You are a sportsman; some time or other send me a piece of leather for a girdle." The stranger promised to do so, and took his leave. Weeks and months went by, and the village priest thought no more of his high-born guest. One day a messenger on horseback stopped at the gate of the humble presbytery, and handed in a large envelope bearing the imperial seal. This letter contained the announcement of Wulfhelm's appointment to the bishopric of Munster. God deals with us in much the same manner as this emperor did. When we have long ago forgotten acts of kindness which we performed toward the needy, He rewards them with eternal felicity.
"In every pious undertaking the beginning merely
does not suffice. "Whoso shall persevere unto the
end, he shall be saved.""
Pictorial Lives of the Saints
May 3.—THE DISCOVERY OF THE HOLY CROSS. GOD having restored peace to His Church, by exalting Constantine the Great to the imperial throne, that pious prince, who had triumphed over his enemies by the miraculous power of the cross, was very desirous of expressing his veneration for the holy places which had been honored and sanctified by the presence and sufferings of our blessed Redeemer on earth, and accordingly resolved to build a magnificent church in the city of Jerusalem. St. Helen, the emperor's mother, desiring to visit the holy places there, undertook a journey into Palestine in 326, though at that time near eighty years of age; and on her arrival at Jerusalem was inspired with a great desire to find the identical cross on which Christ had suffered for our sins. But there was no mark or tradition, even amongst the Christians, to show where it lay. The heathens, out of an aversion to Christianity, had done what they could to conceal the place where Our Saviour was buried, by heaping on it a great quantity of stones and rubbish, and building on it a temple to Venus. They had, moreover, erected a statue of Jupiter in the place where Our Saviour rose from the dead. Helen, to carry out her pious design, consulted every one at Jerusalem and near it whom she thought likely to assist her in finding out the cross; and was credibly informed that, if she could find out the sepulchre, she would likewise find the instruments of the punishment; it being the custom among the Jews to make a hole near the place where the body of a criminal was buried, and to throw into it whatever belonged to his execution.
The pious empress, therefore, ordered the profane buildings to be pulled down, the statues to be broken in pieces, and the rubbish to be removed; and, upon digging to a great depth, the holy sepulchre, and near it three crosses, also the nails which had pierced Our Saviour's body, and the title which had been fixed to His cross, were found. By this discovery they knew that one of the three crosses was that which they were in quest of, and that the others belonged to the two malefactors between whom Our Saviour had been crucified. But, as the title was found separate from the cross, it was difficult to distinguish which of the three crosses was that on which our divine Redeemer consummated His sacrifice for the salvation of the world. In this perplexity the holy Bishop Macarius, knowing that one of the principal ladies of the city lay extremely ill, suggested to the empress to cause the three crosses to be carried to the sick person, not doubting but God would discover which was the cross they sought for. This being done, St. Macarius prayed that God would have regard to their faith, and, after his prayer, applied the crosses singly to the patient, who was immediately and perfectly recovered by the touch of one of the three crosses, the other two having been tried without effect. St. Helen, full of joy at having found the treasure which she had so earnestly sought and so highly esteemed, built a church on the spot, and lodged the cross there with great veneration, having provided an extraordinarily rich case for it. She afterwards carried part of it to the Emperor Constantine, then at Constantinople, who received it with great veneration; another part she sent or rather carried to Rome, to be placed in the church which she had built there, called Of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, where it remains to this day. The title was sent by St. Helen to the same church, and placed on the top of an arch, where it was found in a case of lead in 1492. The inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is in red letters, and the wood was whitened. Thus it was in 1492; but these colors are since faded. Also the words Jesus
are eaten away. The board is nine, but must have been twelve, inches long.
The main part of the cross St. Helen inclosed in a silver shrine, and committed it to the care of St. Macarius, that it might be delivered down to posterity, as an object of veneration. It was accordingly kept with singular care and respect in the magnificent church which she and her son built in Jerusalem. St. Paulinus relates that, though chips were almost daily cut off from it and given to devout persons, yet the sacred wood suffered thereby no diminution. It is affirmed by St, Cyril of Jerusalem, twenty-five years after the discovery, that pieces of the cross were spread all over the earth; he compares this wonder to the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, as recorded in the Gospel. The discovery of the cross must have happened about the month of May, or early in the spring; for St. Helen went the same year to Constantinople, and from thence to Rome, where she died in the arms of her son on the 18th of August, 326. Reflection
.—In every pious undertaking the beginning merely does not suffice. "Whoso shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."
This Weeks Friday Fare .... Spiritual Food for the Soul
Find hundreds of meatless recipes in our previous Feria Friday posts
, today's food is spiritual food for the soul.Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism
By: Rev. Francis Spirago +Imprimatur 1908Q. Why did God make you?A God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.THE BLASPHEMER AND THE MONKNo one can be saved without exertion on his part. Some foolish people assert that no man can influence his destiny. A Franciscan monk, Duns Scotus by name, was one day walking alongside a field where a laborer was at work, cursing and swearing all the time. The monk begged him to desist, telling him if he used such bad language he would surely go to hell. The man answered: "If God has decreed that I shall go to hell, no prayers will avail me anything; if He has decreed that I shall go to heaven, I shall be saved, however much I curse and swear." "If so,"
said the priest rejoined, "I cannot understand why you are plowing this field. For if God has decreed that you shall have a good crop, you will have one although you do not cultivate your land: but if He has decreed that the harvest shall fail, all your labor will be in vain." The peasant replied that if he did not till the ground there would certainly be no harvest. The priest smiled, and said: "There, ou have just reversed your former argument." Thus the man's eyes were opened to the falsity of fatalism.Q. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.AND THEN?A student once came to St. Philip Neri and asked him for an alms. The saint gave it to him, at the same time inquiring what he was going to be. The student replied, "I am going to be a barrister." The saint asked: "And what then?" The young man replied: "I shall earn a good deal by my persuasive tongue." "And then?" the saint again asked. "Why then I shall enjoy a comfortable competence in my old age." "And then?" the saint rejoined. Thereupon the young man's countenance clouded over, and he said sadly: "Then of course at last I must die." "And then?" the saint once more repeated. The young man did not answer a word, but went away with downcast looks. The words, "And then?" - sounded incessantly in his ears; he could not get them out of his mind. They made a pious and virtuous man of hm later on.THE THREE MIRRORSThere is no real beauty without virtue. A school girl, writing home, asked her mother to send her a looking-glass. Her mother, a sensible and Christian lady, when she answered the letter, said: "I am sending you a parcel by post in which are three mirrors. The first will show you to yourself as you are; the second will show you what you will be; the third will show you what you ought to be."When the box arrived, the girl opened it with curiosity; the first thing she took out was an ordinary looking-glass; then there was the representation of a skull; below both of these was beautiful statuette of Our Lady. Thus the pious mother sought to impress upon her daughter's mind that personal beauty is transitory and is effaced by the hand of death; and for this reason a maiden ought to imitate the virtues of the Mother of God, since thus alone will she attain true loveliness, a beauty which does not pass away with this mortal life, - the beauty of the soul, which lasts eternally. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, says Holy Writ. I am black but beautiful, for the beauty of the King's daughter is from within.
St. Eugenius, Bishop
It's Friday the 13th, a special day! Christ's number is 13 and he died on Good Friday. Today is HIS day!
Welcome to another Feria Friday
, where every Friday we share a saints story and 5 meatless recipes in honour of Christ's Passion and death on the Cross.In regards to Church use 'feria' means without and is used to mean a day in the Church calendar that is without a feast of a saint. Typically in our posts we use 'feria' in reference to recipes without meat. Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
July 13.—ST. EUGENIUS, Bishop.
THE episcopal see of Carthage had remained vacant twenty-four years, when, in 481, Huneric permitted the Catholics on certain conditions to choose one who should fill it. The people, impatient to enjoy the comfort of a pastor, pitched upon Eugenius, a citizen of Carthage, eminent for his learning, zeal, piety, and prudence. His charities to the distressed were excessive, and he refused himself everything that he might give all to the poor. His virtue gained him the respect and esteem even of the, Arians; but at length envy and blind zeal got the ascendant in their breasts, and the king sent him an order never to sit on the episcopal throne, preach to the people, or admit into his chapel any Vandals, among whom several were Catholics. The Saint boldly answered that the laws of God commanded him not to shut the door of His church to any that desired to serve Him in it. Huneric, enraged at this answer, persecuted the Catholics in various ways. Many nuns were so cruelly tortured that they died on the rack. Great numbers of bishops, priests, deacons, and eminent Catholic laymen were banished to a desert filled with scorpions and venomous serpents. The people followed their bishops and priests with lighted tapers in their hands, and mothers carried their little babes in their arms and laid them at the feet of the confessors, all crying out with tears, "Going yourselves to your crowns, to whom do you leave us? Who will baptize our children? Who will impart to us the benefit of penance, and discharge us from the bonds of sin by the favor of reconciliation and pardon? Who will bury us with solemn supplications at our death? By whom will the Divine Sacrifice be made? " The Bishop Eugenius was spared in the first storm, but afterwards was carried into the uninhabited desert country in the province of Tripolis, and committed to the guard of Antony, an inhuman Arian bishop, who treated him with the utmost barbarity. Gontamund, who succeeded Huneric, recalled our Saint to Carthage, opened the Catholic churches, and allowed all the exiled priests to return. After reigning twelve years, Gontamund died, and his brother Thrasimund was called to the crown. Under this prince St. Eugenius was again banished, and died in exile, on the 13th of July, 505, in a monastery which he built and governed, near Albi. Reflection
.—"Alms shall be a great confidence before the Most High God to them that give it. Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sin."
This Weeks Five Meatless Recipes...
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St. Justin, Martyr
Welcome to another Feria Friday post! Every Friday we share the saint story of the day from Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints. As well as five meatless recipes to help promote our abstinence from meat on Fridays in honour of Christ's death and Passion on Good Friday. 'Feria' means 'without' and is typically used on a day in the Church calendar that is 'without a feast of a saint'. For this series we use it to mean "without meat". If you need more recipe ideas please visit our previous Feria Friday posts. God bless! (Just a quick note; Today is also Ember Friday after Pentecost)
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
June 1.—ST. JUSTIN, Martyr. ST. JUSTIN was born of heathen parents at. Neapolis in Samaria, about the year 103. He was well educated, and gave himself to the study of philosophy, but always with one object, that he might learn the knowledge of God. He sought this knowledge among the contending schools of philosophy, but always in vain, till at last God himself appeased the thirst which He had created. One day, while Justin was walking by the seashore, meditating on the thought of God, an old man met him and questioned him on the subject of his doubts; and when he had made Justin confess that the philosophers taught nothing certain about God, he told him of the writings of the inspired prophets and of Jesus Christ Whom they announced, and bade him seek light and understanding through prayer. The Scriptures and the constancy of the Christian martyrs led Justin from the darkness of human reason to the light of faith. In his zeal for the Faith he travelled to Greece, Egypt, and Italy, gaining many to Christ. At Rome he sealed his testimony with his blood, surrounded by his disciples. "Do you think," the prefect said to Justin, "that by dying you will enter heaven, and be rewarded by God?" "I do not think," was the Saint's answer; "I know." Then, as now, there were many religious opinions, but only one certain—the certainty of the Catholic faith. This certainty should be the measure of our confidence and our zeal.
Reflection.—We have received the gift of faith with little labor of our own. Let us learn how to value it from those who reached it after long search, and lived in the misery of a world which did not know God. Let us fear, as St. Justin did, the account we shall have to render for the gift of God.
This Week's Five Meatless Recipes
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Feast of All Saints
Sermons of the Cure d'Ars
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon heave." - II. Mach. vii 28.
To-day, my dear Christians, is a day on which, more than on any other, the faithful look up to heaven and reflect, how supremely happy the saints who enjoy the bliss of heaven at the throne of Go; a day on which, by meditating on the never-ending happiness of the saints, an ardent longing is stirred in our hearts that we may one day take part in this happiness. But to reach this happiness we must not be satisfied with meditation alone. We must consider the way of living of the saints upon earth, and ask the question, How did they obtain their blissful state in heaven? We will consider in turn -
I. The state of the saints on earth and
II. The state of the saints in heaven.
May the Lord bless our meditation.
I. The state of the saints on earth, my dear Christians, was neither pleasant, nor easy, not sweet, as the children of this world desire it or try to make it. No. Theirs was a lot both hard and difficult! They trod the paths which their Saviour himself had pointed out to them in the words: "So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be my disciple" (Luke xvi 33). They followed the path on which Jesus Christ had promised them crosses and tribulations with these words: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. xvi. 24). They followed the path which Jesus calls a "narrow" waythat leadeth to life" (Matt. vii. 14). They followed in the service of God
at threefold hard path - namely, the path of renunciation. They renounced all worldly treasures and goods; they often gave all that they possessed to the poor, and then they themselves led a life of poverty. They wanted to be the disciples of Jesus, who in this world "had nowhere to lay his head" (Matt. viii. 20). They renounced all honors, all the dignities of man. Many of them came of princely and royal families renounced their title to the princely or royal throne which would have given them in the eyes of the world the highest honors, and they lived, unnoticed by the world, a life of greatest humility and retirement, bearing in mind the words of Jesus: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke xviii. 14). They renounced all the pleasures and delights of the world, for they knew that they draw the heart from God and defile the soul with sin, and they sought only their joy in God by leading a holy life in His service, through which they said in the words of the prophet Isaias: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God" Isaias lxi. 10). And by all this renunciation they felt in their souls the highest possible happiness; in them was the world of the Psalmist fulfilled: "Blessed is the man who hath not had regard to vanities" (Ps. xxxix. 5.).
Dear Christians! We all have to-day the desire - yes, even the ardent longing - to enjoy one day with the saints in heaven their glory and their happiness. But let us
consider well that the Christian whose thoughts and actions are only directed toward transitory treasures, honors, and pleasures is not on the path where the joys of heaven are found. Christians must not desire what is earthly but what is heavenly; not what is false, but what is true; not what is temporary and fleeting, but what is eternal and never-ending. Therefore our hearts must not be set upon the treasures, honors, and pleasures of this world, so that we may not miss the end for which we were created -heaven. "For what doth is profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26.). Our Saviour calls to us Christians and exhorts us to strive after the happiness of heaven with these words: "Seek first the kingdom of God" (Matt. vi. 33). "The fool," says St. Ambrose, "holds with them who are of the world; the wise man prefers the eternal glory of heaven" (Serm. 37).
The saints of heaven, I will say further, chose to reachheaven by the way of mortification. The saints got to heaven by their virtues. Virtue and sin cannot dwell together in the soul. So that virtue might grow and strengthen, the saints uprooted the wicked propensity to sin in their flesh by practicing mortification. They considered it the object of their lives daily to mortify the desires of the flesh through the spirit, to overcome them, to struggle against them, and to uproot them entirely. "That was," as one of the saints said, "their work and their struggle." For that reason they fasted strictly; only tasted the poorest kind of food so as to give to their bodies only strength absolutely necessary, St. Makarius, to mortify himself, for seven long years only ate raw herbs and vegetables moistened in water. We know that many of the holy hermits lived on herbs and roots. Besides this strict fasting, they practiced mortification by chastising and scourging their bodies. They wore hair shirts and coarse garments of penance next to the skin, scourged their bodies with heavy cords and whipped themselves till the blood came. At night they did not lie on a soft bed, but most often on the hard ground, and only for a few hours to rest from their labors. We read in the life of St. Casimir, a Polish prince, that he wore a hair shirt in the midst of the gay pleasures and frivolities of the court; of Louis, King of France, that he never left off his hair shirt; of the pious Philip II. of Spain, that on his dying bed he gave his own son Philip a scourge covered with blood, with these words: "Keep this scourge which has so often been stained with my blood."
You see, dear Christians, this is how the saints mortified themselves. They crucified their bodies inclined to sin, rooted out the cause of sin, so as to overcome all the temptations of the wicked one. What would some of the delicate children of the world say to this, those who never do the least harm to their worldliness, nor fast, nor deny their bodies anything, and therefore in time of temptation they are exposed to sin? Do they not think that what the saints did was a great deal too hard? That they did unnecessary things which God did not require of them? If God does not require such a harsh life of penance, still our Saviour's words are there when He says: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away" (Matt. xi. 12).
Lastly, the saints in heaven chose, so as to reach heaven, the way of the cross and suffering. They understood those words of Jesus: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. xvi. 24). For this reason they endured patiently the dungeon and fetters, the agonies of the stake and the scaffold; allowed themselves to be torn asunder by wild beasts and, like their Lord and Master, be bound to the cross, remembering the worlds of St. Paul: "If we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him" (Rom, viii. 17). That
is why they bore all sufferings, not only with the greatest patience, but also gladly with joy. As St. Paul said of himself: "I am filled with comfort; I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation" (II. Cor. vii. 4). So could these saints say. "Never in my life," cried out St. Dorothy, in the midst of her martyrdom, "have I experienced such joy." and St. Andrew saluted the cross on which he was nailed with these words: "O, thou cherished and ardently longed-for cross! Thou bringest me happiness; therefore I approach thee with joy!" The saints, besides bearing with the greatest joy every pain which God sent them, even prayed to God when they were free from suffering that HE would not send them pleasures, but sufferings. St. Teresa's lifelong desire was "to suffer or to die." St.Francis Xaiver had such a great desire to suffer for Christ that once, when he was filled with consolation and happiness, he cried out, "It is enough, O Lord, it is enough!" while, on the other hand, when tribulation and suffering beset him, he cried: "Still more, O Lord, still more!" He was often heard to say these words: "O Lord, take not this cross away from me, or if so, then give me in its place a heavier one."
My dear Christians, are we not astonished at what the saints have suffered, at the patience which they exhibited in all this suffering, at the longing which they showed for crosses and sufferings? And we complain when we have to suffer a little! We bear with impatience the slightest adversity sent to us from God. Let us remember that "through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God," and let us bear the little suffering which God sends us with patience and submission, so that we may by this, like the saints, obtain the everlasting joys of heaven.
So as to encourage us, let us consider what rewards the saints have obtained in heaven for their hard and difficult lot while on this earth.
My dear Christians, the saints of God have undertaken and borne great things while on earth, and great things will God give them for all eternity, namely, heaven. They renounced everything in this world; they can, therefore, according to God's own promises, expect great things in the other world. They mortified themselves on earth, and therefore they can enjoy themselves for all eternity. And what are the joys which they have received from the Giver of all good gifts? I answer:
(a) Joy without pain. Whenever man has any happiness the pain is not far off. If we enjoy a day of festivity, it is soon followed by a day of suffering. If we enjoy good health it is soon followed by indisposition or probably sickness. Here below our happiness is never perfect; it never lasts long; it is never enduring/ But what is the joy of the saints in heaven? Inchangeable and undisturbed. "Joy and gladness," says the Holy Ghost through the prophet Isaias (li. II). "they shall obtain; sorrow and mourning shall flee away." "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes," so we read in the Apocalypse of St. John (xxi. 4): "and death shall be no more; nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more." Oh, true life! Oh, eternal life! Oh, life of never-ending happiness! There is joy without pain; rest without work, abundance without want, life without death, happiness without suffering. St.
Augustine says: "It is easier to say what is not in heaven than what is in heaven." There is found no death, no mourning, no weariness, no weakness, no hunger, n thirst, no heat, no sickness, no infirmity, no sadness, no melancholy. Now these things are not
there. Do you wish to know what is
there? There is an everlasting home where youth never grows old, where love never grows cold, where beauty never fades, where pleasure never ceases. For this reason the angels are portrayed as beautiful, youthful figures, although they have been creatures created for over six thousand years; there nothing decays; nothing loses its strength and beauty.
(b) These joys without suffering are then unspeakable, great joys. "Oh, how great," says the Paslmist David, "is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou has hidden from them that fear Thee!" (Ps. xxx. 20). And he himself gives this answer: and Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light we shall see light" (Ps. xxxv. 9). "For better is one day in Thy courts above thousands" (Ps. lxxxiii. II). And what reward our blessed Lord has Himself promised His servants in heaven with these words: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven" (Matt. v. 12). And what was the joy of St. Paul when he was deemed worthy to look into the third heaven! He is not able to describe it, therefore he falters the words: "The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him" (I. Cor. ii. 9).
The holy fathers of the Church have often taken pains to try to express the sweetness and pleasantness of heavenly joys; but they were not able, as the great thinker St. Augustine himself says, to describe these things as they really are, only in a certain way to feel them. "So great," saysSt. Augustine, comparingly, "is the glory of heavenly bliss that man, if he had only spent a single day there, would give
years of bliss and pleasures of this life for it."
"The reward of the saints in heaven," writes ST. Bernard, "is so great that man cannot measure it, so rich that man cannot give it utterance, and so precious that man cannot price it." And, therefore, to give us an idea of the joys of heaven, he breaks out in these words: "O joy above all joys! Joy that over reachest every joy, and out of thee there is no joy!" "O gaudium super gaudium! gaudium vincens
omne guadium, extra quod non est gaudium!
"Place," writes a great theologian, "all the many great
happinesses which the world has together: the happiness to posses all earthly
treasures, the happiness of all power and honors, all the joys and pleasures of
a worldly life; multiply these happinesses a hundred, a thousand, a million
times, multiply them as much as and as often as you can, and they are not to be
compared with the never-ending joys of heaven. Compare, as in Holy Scripture,
the joys of heaven to a magnificent feast, a brilliant, joyous feast, and you
are still immeasureably short of the truth. As here below, trouble and
suffering, so there above the elect enjoy bliss and joy on all sides; and joy in
Jesus, their Saviour and their King, whose divine gracious countenance they love
to look upon; bliss and joy in Mary, their Mother and their Queen, whose
unutterable beauty delights them; bliss and joy at the exalted thorns which they
themselves occupy and at the glorious crown which adorns their heads; bliss and
joy at the hymns of praise us, by the choirs of heaven; bliss and joy at the
sight of the glory of their triumphant breathern." Truly, the prophet is right
when he says: "With the stream of Thy glory, O Lord, wilt Thou drown
(c) Lastly, the joys of heaven are everlasting. The soul
of man is immortal, and everlasting and eternal is the reward for the souls of
the just. From the kingdom of God the Son in heaven the angel said to Mary: "And
of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i. 33). Our Divine Saviour says
Himself of the reward of the just: "But the just into life everlasting" (Matt.
xxv. 46). When Christ spoke to His disciples of His return to the Father, He
said also to console them: "So also you now indeed have sorrow, but I will see
you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from
you" (John xvi. 22). That is to say, it shall last forever. And lastly,
writes: "For our present tribulation, which is momentary and light, wortketh for
us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory" (II. Cor. iv.
The eternal joy of heaven! What a glorious reward for the
saints for their short renunciation of earthly things, for a short struggle
with sin, for a short suffering borne with patience! "A short time," says
"does work in this world last; eternal is the rest in heaven: short is the
pain; eternal is the glory: short is the suffering; without end the joy" (in
Ps. 26). Source of Life, when shall I enter into Thy joys, from which no more
will be kept away? Oh true, sweet, and peasant life! O most sure rest, the most
restful happiness." And how long have the saints enjoyed this heavenly
happiness? For many decades, many hundreds of years. And how much of eternity
has passed for them already? Not a moment. And how much longer will they enjoy
the happiness in heaven? Centuries? No, forever! Or thousands of years? No,
forever! Or millions of years? No, forever! Or for as many years as there are
grains of sand on the earth or drops of water in the ocean? No, much longer,
much longer - forever! Oh, you saints in heaven, how inexpressibly happy are
Now, my dear Christians, what are we going to do after the contemplation of the happiness of the saints in heaven? We all wish to cry out with ST. Aloysius: "We want to go to heaven! We want to go to heaven!" And so that we may reach heaven we must place all our though there, and not on this transitory world. As St. Symphorianus was led to the place of martyrdom, his pious mother, who followed him, to give him encouragement to bear his triumphs steadfastly, repeated these words over and over again: "My child, my child, think of everlasting life!" Dear
Christians, when it seems hard for you to renounce the world, to fight against
sin, to return to God after sinning, to lead a Christian life and steadfastly
walk in the paths of virtue; when trials frighten you, which no one is without;
then think of the eternal reward which awaits you in heaven. Consider that for
a little trouble you will receive a great reward, for an easy victory a good,
and for a momentary trouble an everlasting reward. Undertake, therefore, this
light this little, this short trouble which the way of virtue requires, and you
will receive in reutrn a good, a great, and an everlasting reward in heaven.