Passing of Mr. Mario Carota – RIP

It was recently brought to my attention that Fr. Carota’s father (Mario) recently passed away.  I did not know him personally, but I was told he was an amazing person who truly lived his Catholic Faith.

His obituary is as follows:

Mario Chester Carota passed away at his Hollister residence on June 17th, 2017 at the age of 96 years.

Mario was born in Arnold Pennsylvania on May 10, 1921 to John and Anna Carota and raised in Roosevelt, New York.  He studied ceramic engineering at Alfred University in New York where he took up flying.  He joined the Navy during WWII and was a flight instructor and member of a special drone project for that service. He married Estelle Field on December 24, 1942 and raised a family of nineteen children.

He worked as a teacher, an atomic engineer at the University of California Berkeley, then as a consultant in community development. He is best known for his work as a lay missionary in Mexico where he built two schools, a trade center and a hospice house. In his later years he cared for his ailing wife and built over seven hundred stained glass crucifixes which he donated to all. He will be truly missed for his courage and his smile.

Donations are preferred to St. Vincent de Paul c/o the mortuary.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Friday, June 23rd at 10:00 a.m. at St. Benedict Church, 1200 Fairview Road, Hollister. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery, 1100 Hillcrest Road with local VFW Post 9242 providing full military honors. A reception will follow at St. Benedict Hall.

Let us pray for the repose of this soul and that he will swiftly be in the presence of God for all eternity. 

DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN – St. Alphonsus

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN.

Let down your nets for a draught.” LUKE v. 4.

IN this day’s gospel we find that, having gone up into one of the ships, and having heard from St. Peter, that he and his companions had laboured all the night and had taken nothing, Jesus Christ said: “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” They obeyed; and having cast out their nets into the sea, they took such a multitude of fishes, that the nets were nearly broken.

Brethren, God has placed us in the midst of the sea of this life, and has commanded us to cast out our nets, that we may catch fishes; that is, that we may perform good works, by which we can acquire merits for eternal life. Happy we, if we attain this end and save our souls! Unhappy we, if, instead of laying up treasures for heaven, we by our sins merit hell, and bring our souls to damnation!

Our happiness or misery for eternity depends on the moment of our death, which is certain and uncertain. The Lord assures us that death is certain, that we may prepare for it; but, on the other hand, he leaves us uncertain as to the time of our death, that we may be always prepared for it two points of the utmost importance. First Point. It is certain that we shall die. Second Point. It is uncertain when we shall die.

First Point:  It is certain that we shall die.

1. ”It is appointed unto men once to die.” (Heb. ix. 27.) The decree has been passed for each of us: we must all die. St. Cyprian says, that we are all born with the halter on the neck: hence, every step we make brings us nearer to the gibbet. For each of us the gibbet shall be the last sickness, which will end in death.

As then, brethren, your name has been inserted in the registry of baptism, so it shall be one day written in the record of the dead. As, in speaking of your ancestors, you say: God be merciful to my father, to my uncle, or to my brother; so others shall say the same of you when you shall be in the other world; and as you have often heard the death-bell toll for many, so others shall hear it toll for you.

2. All things future, which regard men now living, are uncertain, but death is certain. “All other goods and evils,” says St. Augustine, ”are uncertain; death only is certain.” It is uncertain whether such an infant shall be rich or poor, whether he shall enjoy good or ill health, whether he shall die at an early or at an advanced age. But it is certain that he shall die, though he be son of a peer or of a monarch.

And, when the hour arrives, no one can resist the stroke of death. The same St. Augustine says: “Fires, waters, and the sword are resisted; kings are resisted: death comes; who resists it ?” (in Ps. xii.) We may resist conflagrations, inundations, the sword of enemies, and the power of princes; but who can resist death? A certain king of France, as Belluacensis relates, said in his last moments: “Behold, with all my power, I cannot make death wait for a single hour.” No; when the term of life has arrived, death does not wait even a moment”Thou hast appointed his bounds, which cannot be passed.” (Job. xiv. 5.)

3. We must all die. This truth we not only believe, but see with our eyes. In every age houses, streets, and cities are filled with new inhabitants: their former possessors are shut up in the grave. And, as for them the days of life are over, so a time shall come when not one of all who are now alive shall be among the living. “Days shall be formed, and no one in them.” (Ps. cxxxviii. 10.) “Who is the man that shall live, and shall not see death ?” (Ps. lxxxviii. 49 )

Should any one flatter himself that he will not die, he would not only be a disbeliever for it is of faith that we shall all die but he would be regarded as a madman. We know that all men, even potentates and princes and emperors, have, utter a certain time, fallen victims to death. And where are they now?”Tell me,” says St. Bernard, “where are the lovers of the world? Nothing has remained of them but ashes and worms.” Of so many great men of the world, though buried in marble mausoleums, nothing has remained but a little dust and a few withered bones.

We know that our ancestors are no longer among the living: of their death we are constantly reminded by their pictures, their memorandum books, their beds, and by the clothes which they have left us. And can we entertain a hope or a doubt that we shall not die? Of all who lived in this town a hundred years ago how many are now alive? They are all in eternity in an eternal day of delights, or in an eternal night of torments. Either the one or the other shall be our lot also.

4. But, God! we all know that we shall die: the misfortune is, that we imagine death as distant as if it were never to come, and therefore we lose sight of it. But, sooner or later, whether we think or think not of death, it is certain, and of faith that we shall die, and that we are drawing nearer to it every day. ”For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.” (Heb. xiii. 14.) This is not our country: here we are pilgrims on a journey. ”While we are in the body we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. v. 6.)

Our country is Paradise, if we know how to acquire it by the grace of God and by our own good works. Our house is not that in which we live; we dwell in it only in passing; our dwelling is in eternity. “Man shall go into the house of his eternity.” (Eccl. xii. 5.) How great would be the folly of the man, who, in passing through a strange country, should lay out all his property in the purchase of houses and possessions in a foreign land, and reduce himself to the necessity of living miserably for the remainder of his days in his own country!

And is not he, too, a fool, who seeks after happiness in this world, from which he must soon depart; and, by his sins, exposes himself to the danger of misery in the next, where he must live for eternity?

5. Tell me, beloved brethren, if, instead of preparing for his approaching death, a person condemned to die were, on his way to the place of execution, to employ the few remaining moments of his life in admiring the beauty of the houses as he passed along, in thinking of balls and comedies, in uttering immodest words, and detracting his neighbours, would you not say that the unhappy man had either lost his reason, or that he was abandoned by God?

And are not you on the way to death? Why then do you seek only the gratification of the senses? Why do you not think of preparing the accounts which you shall one day, and perhaps very soon, have to render at the tribunal of Jesus Christ? Souls that have faith, leave to the fools of this world the care of realizing a fortune on this earth; seek you to make a fortune for the next life, which shall be eternal. The present life must end, and end very soon.

6. Go to the grave in which your relatives and friends are buried. Look at their dead bodies: each of them says to you: “Yesterday for me; Today for thee.” (Eccl. xxxviii. 23.) What has happened to me must one day happen to thee. Thou shalt .become dust and ashes, as I am. And where shall thy soul be found, if, before death, thou hast not settled thy accounts with God? Ah, brethren! if you wish to live well, and to to have you accounts ready for that great day, on which your doom to eternal life or to eternal death must be decided, endeavour, during the remaining days of life, to live with death before your eyes. ”death, thy sentence is welcome.” (Eccl. xli. 3.)

Oh! how correct are the judgments, how well directed the actions, of those who form their judgments, and perform their actions, with death before their view! The remembrance of death destroys all attachment to the goods of this earth. ”Let the end of life be considered, ” says St. Lawrence Justinian, ”and there will be nothing in this world to be loved.” (de Ligno Vitæ, cap. v.) Yes; all the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world are easily despised by him who considers that he must soon leave them forever, and that he shall be thrown into the grave to be the food of worms.

7. Some banish the thought of death, as if, by avoiding to think of death, they could escape it. But death cannot be avoided; and they who banish the thought of it, expose themselves to great danger of an unhappy death. By keeping death before their eyes, the saints have despised all the goods of this earth. Hence St. Charles Borromeo kept on his table a death’s head, that he might have it continually in view. Cardinal Baronius had the words, “Memento mori”Remember death” inscribed on his ring.

The venerable P. Juvenal Anzia, Bishop of Saluzo, had before him a skull, on which was written, “As I am, so thou shalt be.” In retiring to deserts and caves the holy solitaries brought with them the head of a dead man; and for what purpose? To prepare themselves for death. Thus a certain hermit being asked at death, why he was so cheerful, answered: I have kept death always before my eyes; and therefore, now that it has arrived, I feel no terror. But, oh! how full of terror is death, when it comes to those who have thought of it but seldom.

Second Point: It is uncertain when we shall die.

8. ”Nothing,” says the Idiota, ”is more certain than death, but nothing is more uncertain than the hour of death.” It is certain that we shall die. God has already determined the year, the month, the day, the hour, the moment, in which each of us shall leave this earth, and enter into eternity; but this moment he has resolved not to make known to us.

And justly, says St. Augustine, has the Lord concealed it; for, had he manifested to all the day fixed for their death, many should be induced to continue in the habit of sin by the certainty of not dying before the appointed day. ”Si statuisset viam omnibus, faceret abundare peccata de securitate”(in Ps. cxliv). Hence the holy doctor teaches that God has concealed from us the day of our death, that we may spend all our days well. ”Latet ultimus dies, ut observentur omnes dies. ” (Hom. xii. inter 50.)

Hence Jesus Christ says: “Be you also ready; for at what hour you think not the Son of Man will come.” (Luke xii. 40.) That we may be always prepared to die, he wishes us to be persuaded that death will come when we least expect it. ”Of death,” says St. Gregory, ”we are uncertain, that we may be found always prepared for death.” St. Paul likewise admonishes us that the day of the Lord that is, the day on which the Lord shall judge us shall come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, ”The day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. v. 2.)

Since, then, says St. Bernard, death may assail you and take away your life in every place and at every time, you should, if you wish to die well and to save your soul, be at all times and places in expectation of death: ”Mors ubique te expectat tu ubique earn expectabis :” and St. Augustine says: ”Latet ultimus dies, ut observentur omnes dies. ”(Hom, xii.) The Lord conceals from us the last day of our life, that we may always have ready the account which we must render to God after death.

9. Many Christians are lost, because many, even among the old, who feel the approach of death, flatter themselves that it is at a distance, and that it will not come without giving them time to prepare for it. ”Dura mente,” says St. Gregory, ”abesse longe mors creditur etiam cum sentitur.” (Moral, lib. 8.) Death, even when it is felt, is believed to be far off. O brethren, are these your sentiments? How do you know that your death is near or distant? What reason have you to suppose that death will give you time to prepare for it? How many do we know who have died suddenly? Some have died walking; some sitting; and some during sleep. Did any one of these ever imagine that he should die in such a manner?

But they have died in this way; and if they were in enmity with God, what has been the lot of their unhappy souls? Miserable the man who meets with an unprovided death! And I assert, that all who ordinarily neglect to unburthen their conscience, die without preparation, even though they should have seven or eight days to prepare for a good death; for as I shall show in the fortyfourth sermon, it is very difficult, during these days of confusion and terror, to settle accounts with God, and to return to him with sincerity.

But I repeat that death may come upon you in such a manner, that you shall not have time even to receive the sacraments. And who knows whether, in another hour, you shall be among the living or the dead? The uncertainty of the time of his death made Job tremble. “For I knew not how long I shall continue, or whether, after a while, my Maker may take me away.” (Job xxxii. 22.) Hence St. Basil exhorts us in going to bed at night, not to trust that we shall see the next day. ”Cum in lectulum ad quicscendum membra tua posueris, noli confidere de lucis adventu.” (Inst. ad fil. spirit.)

10. Whenever, then, the devil tempts you to sin, by holding out the hope that you will go to confession and repair the evil you have done, say to him in answer: How do I know that this shall not be the last day of my life? And should death overtake me in sin, and not give me time to make my confession, what shall become of me for all eternity?

Alas! how many poor sinners have been struck dead in the very act of indulging in some sinful pleasure, and have been sent to hell! “As fishes are taken by the hook, and as birds are caught with the snare, so men are taken in the evil time.” (Eccl. ix. 12.) Fishes are taken with the hook while they eat the bait that conceals the hook, which is the instrument of their death. The evil time is precisely that in which sinners are actually offending God.

In the act of sin, they calm their conscience by a security of afterwards making a good confession, and reversing the sentence of their damnation. But death comes suddenly upon them, and does not leave them time for repentance. “For, when they shall say peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them.” (1 Thess. v. 3.)

11. If a person lend a sum of money he is careful instantly to get a written acknowledgment, and to take all the other means necessary to secure the repayment of it. Who, he says, can know what shall happen? Death may come, and I may lose my money. And how does it happen that there are so many who neglect to use the same caution for the salvation of their souls, which is of far greater importance than all temporal interests? “Why do they not also say: Who knows what may happen? death may come, and I may lose my soul?

If you lose a sum of money, all is not lost; if you lose it one way you may recover the loss in another; but he that dies and loses his soul, loses all, and has no hope of ever recovering it. If we could die twice, we might, if we lost our soul the first time, save it the second. But we cannot die twice. ”It is appointed unto men once to die,” (Heb. ix. 27) Mark the word once: death happens to each of us but once: he who has erred the first time has erred for ever. Hence, to bring the soul to hell is an irreparable error. ”Periisse semel æternum est.”

12. The venerable Father John Avila was a man of great sanctity, and apostle of Spain. What was the answer of this great servant of God, who had led a holy life from his childhood, when he was told that his death was at hand, and that he had but a short time to live?”Oh!” replied the holy man with trembling, ”that I had a little more time to prepare for death!”St. Agatho, abbot, after spending so many years in penance, trembled at the hour of death, and said: ”What shall become of me? who can know the judgments of God ?”

And, O brethren, what will you say when the approach of death shall be announced to you, and when, from the priest who attends you, you shall hear these words: ”Go forth, Christian soul, from this world ?” You will, perhaps, say: Wait a little; allow me to prepare better. No; depart immediately; death does not wait. You should therefore prepare yourselves now. ”With fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Phil. ii. 12.) St. Paul admonishes us that, if we wish to save our souls, we must live in fear and trembling, lest death may find us in sin. Be attentive, brethren: there is question of eternity. ”If a tree fall to the south or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall there shall it be.” (Eccl. xi. 3.)

If, when the tree of your life is cut down, you fall to the south that is, if you obtain eternal life how great shall be your joy at  being able to say: I shall be saved; I have secured all; I can never lose God; I shall be happy for ever. But, if you fall to the north that is, into eternal damnation how great shall be your despair! Alas! you shall say, I have erred, and my error is irremediable! Arise, then, from your tepidity, and, after this sermon, make a resolution to give yourselves sincerely to God. This resolution will insure you a good death, and will make you happy for eternity.

ON THE MERCY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS – St. Alphonsus

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

” There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than ninety -nine just, who need not penance.” LUKE xv. 7

In this day’s gospel it is related that the Pharisees murmured against Jesus Christ, because he received sinners and eat with them. ”This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them” (v. 2). In answer to their murmurings our Lord said: If any of you had a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, would he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go in search of the lost sheep? would he not continue his search until he found it? and having found it, would he not carry it on his shoulders, and, rejoicing, say to his friends and neighbours: ”Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost ?” (v. 6.)

In conclusion, the Son of God said: ”I say to you, there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than, upon ninety-nine just, that need not penance.” There is more joy in heaven upon one sinner who  returns to God, than upon many just who preserve the grace of God. Let us, then, speak Today on the mercy which God shows to sinners, first, in calling them to repentance; secondly, in receiving them when they return.

First Point

Mercy of God in calling sinners to repentance.

1. After having sinned hy eating the forbidden apple, Adam fled from the face of the Lord through shame of the sin he had committed. What must have been the astonishment of the angels when they saw God seeking after him, and calling him as it were with tears, saying: ”Adam, where art thou ?” (Gen. iii. 9.) My beloved Adam, where art thou? These words, says Father Pereyra, in his commentary on this passage, ”are the words of a father in search of his lost son.”

Towards you, brethren, the Lord acts in a similar manner. You fled from him and he has so often invited you to repentance by means of confessors and preachers. Who was it that spoke to you when they exhorted you to penance? It was the Lord. Preachers are, as St. Paul says, his ambassadors. ”For Christ, therefore, we are ambassadors; God, as it were, exhorting by us.” (2 Cor. v. 20.) Hence he writes to the sinners of Corinth: ”For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” (Ibid.) In explaining these words St. Chrysostom says: ”Ipse Chris tus vos obsecrat: quid autem obsecrat? Reconciliamini Deo.”

Then, says the holy doctor, Jesus Christ himself entreats you, sinners: and what does he entreat you to do? To make peace with God. The saint adds: ”Non enim ipse inimicus gerit, sed vos.” It is not God that acts like an enemy, but you; that is, God does not refuse to make peace with sinners, but they are unwilling to be reconciled with him.”

2. But notwithstanding the refusal of sinners to return to God, he does not cease to continue to call them by so many interior inspirations, remorses of conscience, and terrors of chastisements. Thus, beloved Christians, God has spoken to you, and, seeing that you disregarded his words, he has had recourse to scourges; he has called you to repentance by such a persecution, by temporal losses, by the death of a relative, by sickness which has brought you to the brink of the grave.

He has, according to holy David, placed before your eyes the bow of your damnation, not that you might be condemned to eternal misery, but that you might be delivered from hell, which you deserved. “Thou hast given a warning to them that fear thee, that they may flee from before the bow, that thy beloved may be delivered.” (Ps. lix. 6).

You regarded certain afflictions as misfortunes; but they were mercies from God; they were the voices of God calling on you to renounce sin, that you might escape perdition. ”My jaws are become hoarse.” (Ps. lxviii. 4.) My son, says the Lord, I have almost lost my voice in calling you to repentance. ”I am weary of entreating thee.” ( Jer. xv. (5.) I have become weary in imploring you to offend me no more.

3. By your ingratitude you deserved that he should call you no more; but he has continued to invite you to return to him. And who is it that has called you? It is a God of infinite majesty, who is to be one day your judge, and on whom your eternal happiness or misery depends. And what are you but miserable worms deserving hell? Why has he called you? To restore to you the life of grace which you have lost. “Return ye and live.” (Ezec. xviii. 32.) To acquire the grace of God, it would be but little to spend a hundred years in a desert in fasting and penitential austerities.

But God offered it to you for a single act of sorrow; you refused that act, and after your refusal he has not abandoned you, but has sought after you, saying: “And why will you die, house of Israel?” (Ez. xviii. 31.) Like a father weeping and following his Page 135 of 233 son, who has voluntarily thrown himself into the sea, God has sought after you, saying, through compassion to each of you: My son, why dost thou bring thyself to eternal misery?”Why will you die, house of Israel ?”

4. As a pigeon that seeks to take shelter in a tower, seeing the entrance closed on every side, continues to fly round till she finds an opening through which she enters, so, says St. Augustine, did the divine mercy act towards me when I was in enmity with God. Circuibat super me fidelis a longe misericordia tua.” The Lord treated you, brethren, in a similar manner. As often as you sinned you banished him from your souls.

The wicked have said to God: “Depart from us.” (Job xxi. 14.) And, instead of abandoning you, what has the Lord done? He has placed himself at the door of your ungrateful hearts, and, by his knocking, has made you feel that he was outside, and seeking for admission. ”Behold I stand at the gate and knock.” (Apoc. iii. 20.) He, as it were, entreated you to have compassion on him, and to allow him to enter. “Open to me, my sister.” (Cant. v. 2.)

Open to me; I will deliver you from perdition; I will forget all the insults you have offered to me if you give up sin. Perhaps you are unwilling to open to me through fear of becoming poor by restoring ill-gotten goods, or by separating from a person who provided for you? Am not I, says the Lord, able to provide for you? Perhaps you think that, if you renounce a certain friendship which separates you from me, you shall lead a life of misery?

Am I not able to content your soul and to make your life happy? Ask those who love me with their whole hearts, and they will tell you that my grace makes them content, and that they would not exchange their condition, though poor and humble, for all the delights and riches of the monarchs of the earth.

Second Point

Mercy of God in waiting for sinners to return to him

5. We have considered the divine mercy in calling sinners to repentance: let us now consider his patience in waiting for their return. That great servant of God, D. Sancia Carillo, a penitent of Father John D’Avila, used to say, that the consideration of God‟s patience with sinners made her desire to build a church, and entitle it”The Patience of God.”

Ah, sinners! who could ever bear with what God has borne from you? If the offences which you have committed against God had been offered to your best friends, or even to your parents, they surely would have sought revenge. When you insulted the Lord he was able to chastise you; you repeated the insult, and he did not punish your guilt, but preserved your life, and provided you with sustenance. lie, as it were, pretended not to see the injuries you offered to him, that you might enter into yourselves, and cease to offend him. “Thou overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance.” (Wis. xi. 24.)

But how, Lord, does it happen, that thou canst not behold a single sin, and that thou dost bear in silence with so many? “Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and boldest thy peace ?” (Hab. i. 13.)

Thou seest the vindictive prefer their own before thy honour; thou beholdest the unjust, instead of restoring what they have stolen, continuing to commit theft; the unchaste, instead of being ashamed of their impurities, boasting of them before others; the scandalous, not content with the sins which they themselves commit, but seeking to draw others into rebellion against thee; thou seest all this, and holdest thy peace, and dost not inflict vengeance.

6. “Omnis creatura,” says St. Thomas, “tibi factor! deserviens excandescit adversus injustos.” All creatures the earth, fire, air, water because they all obey God, would, by a natural instinct, wish to punish the sinner, and to avenge the injuries which he does to the Creator; but God, through his mercy, restrains them.

But, Lord, thou waitest for the wicked that they may enter into themselves; and dost thou not see that they abuse thy mercy to offer new insults to thy majesty? “Thou hast been favourable to the nation, O Lord, thou hast been favourable to the nation: art thou glorified ?” (Isa. xxvi. 15.) Thou hast waited so long for sinners; thou hast abstained from inflicting punishment; but what glory have you reaped from thy forbearance? They have become more wicked. Why so much patience with such ungrateful souls? Why dost thou continue to wait for their repentance? Why dost thou not chastise their wickedness?

The same Prophet answers: “The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy on you.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) God waits for sinners that they may one day repent, and that after their repentance, he may pardon and save them. “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezech. xxxiii. 11.)

St. Augustine goes so far as to say that the Lord, if he were not God, should he unjust on account of his excessive patience towards sinners. ”Deus, Deus incus, pace tua dicam, nisi quia Deus esses, injustus esses.” By waiting for those who abuse his patience to multiply their sins, God appears to do an injustice to the divine honour.

”We,” continues the saint, “sin; we adhere to sin (some of us become familiar and intimate with sin, and sleep for months and years in this miserable state); we rejoice at sin (some of us go so far as to boast of our wickedness); and thou art appeased! “We provoke thce to anger thou dost invite us to mercy.” We and God appear to be, as it were, engaged in a contest, in which we labour to provoke him to chastise our guilt, and he invites us to pardon.

7. Lord, exclaimed holy Job, what is man, that thou dost entertain so great an esteem for him? Why dost thou love him so tenderly?”What is man that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him ?” (Job. vii. ] 7.)

St. Denis the Areopagite says, that God seeks after sinners like a despised lover, entreating them not to destroy themselves. ”Deus etiam a se aversos amatorie sequitur, et deprecatur ne pereant.” Why, ungrateful souls, do you fly from me? I love you and desire nothing but your welfare.

Ah, sinners! says St. Teresa, remember that he who now calls and seeks after you, is that God who shall one day be your judge. If you are lost, the great mercies which he now shows you, shall be the greatest torments which, you shall suffer in hell.

Third Point.

Mercy of God in receiving penitent sinners

8. Should a subject who has rebelled against an earthly monarch go into the presence of his sovereign to ask pardon, the prince instantly banishes the rebel from his sight, and does not condescend even to look at him. But God does not treat us in this manner, when we go with humility before him to implore mercy and forgiveness.

“The Lord your God is merciful, and will not turn away his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Par. xxx. 9.) God cannot turn away his face from those who cast themselves at his feet with an humble and contrite heart. Jesus himself has protested that he will not reject any one who returns to him.

“And him that cometh to me, I will not cast out.” (John vi. 37.) But how can he reject those whom he himself invites to return, and promises to embrace?”Return to me, saith the Lord, and I will receive thee.” (Jer. iii. 1.) In another place he says: Sinners, I ought to turn my back on you, because you first turned your back on me; but be converted to me, and I will be converted to you. “Turn to me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn to you, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zach. i. 3.)

9. Oh! with what tenderness does God embrace a sinner that returns to him! This tenderness Jesus Christ wished to declare to us when he said that he is the good pastor, who, as soon as he finds the lost sheep, embraces it and places it on his own shoulders. ”And when he hath found it, doth he not lay it upon his shoulders rejoicing?” (Luke xv. 5.)

This tenderness also appears in the parable of the prodigal son, in which Jesus Christ tells us that he is the good father, who, when his lost son returns, goes to meet him, embraces and kisses him, and, as it were, swoons away through joy in receiving him. ”And running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed him.” (Luke xv. 20.)

10. God protests that when sinners repent of their iniquities, he will forget all their sins, as if they had never offended him. “But, if the wicked do penance for all the sins which he hath committed. .. .living, he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done.” (Ezech. xviii. 21,22.) By the Prophet Isaias, the Lord goes so far as to say: “Come and accuse me, saith the Lord. If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow.” (Isa. i. 18.)

Mark the words, Come and accuse me. As if the Lord said: Sinners, come to me, and if I do not pardon and embrace you, reprove me, upbraid me with violating my promise. But no! God cannot despise an humble and contrite heart. “A contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Ps. l. 19.)

11. To show mercy and grant pardon to sinners, God regards as redounding to his own glory. “And therefore shall he be exalted sparing you.” (Isa. xxx. 18.) The holy Church says, that God displays his omnipotence in granting pardon and mercy to sinners. ”O God, who manifested thy omnipotence in sparing and showing mercy.”

Do not imagine, dearly beloved sinners, that God requires of you to labour for a long time before he grants you pardon: as soon as you wish for forgiveness, he is ready to give it. Behold what the Scripture says: ”Weeping, thou shalt not weep, he will surely have pity on thee.” (Isa. xxx. 19.)

You shall not have to weep for a long time: as soon as you shall have shed the tirst tear through sorrow for your sins, God will have mercy on you. ”At the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee.” (Ibid.) The moment he shall hear you say: Forgive me, my God, forgive me, he will instantly answer and grant your pardon.

Catholic Education

I happened on this article the other day that discusses the great importance of having a Catholic worldview and that is only obtained through having an authentic Catholic education.  Now, in the current state of the world, you can not, on the whole, find this in “catholic” schools, but you can study for yourself and with the aid of Our Lady, the Holy Ghost, and St. Thomas Aquinas, you can learn a good bit through reading, prayer and meditation.

This Article was written by Mitchell Kalpakgian, PHD, and you can read it on the Truth and Charity Forum here or you can read it below.


Rooted in the classical world of Greek thought and Thomistic philosophy, Catholic education is not shaped by trends, fashions, and fads but founded on a great tradition that has passed the test of time. It teaches all subjects in their integrity, according to their first principles, the logos that conforms to the structure of reality and the nature of things–whether it is the grammar that governs language, the reasoning that underlies arithmetic and geometry, or the revealed truths that form the basis of theology. Catholic education is founded on universal truths derived from all spheres of knowledge, that is, the unchangeable laws, the eternal truths, and the perennial wisdom that form the food of the mind and the life of the soul. Catholic education does not dilute, oversimplify, or “dumb down” subject matter to accommodate students but teaches them how to rise to the level of demand required by a particular discipline such as grammar, theology, Latin, or chemistry.

Like its moral teaching that inspires moral excellence and an imitation of Christ, Catholic education holds high ideals for its students and instills a love of learning because of man’s innate desire for knowledge —a love of truth that climaxes in a sense of wonder at God’s created and supernatural order and His revealed truths. This authentic education does not lower its standards or commit grade inflation. Recalling the words of St. Thomas Aquinas that “All truth, whoever said it, comes from the Holy Spirit,” it cultivates in the mind openness and love of truth to “all that is,” that is, the truths that come from all bodies of learning, both the arts and the sciences. All these fields of knowledge illuminate some attribute of God’s nature as goodness, love wisdom, justice, beauty, mercy, or power.

Catholic education has its heritage in the liberal arts that pass on the wisdom of the past and the venerable traditions of Western civilization known as The Perennial Philosophy—what is universally true for all people, in all times, in all places (“the best that has been thought and said” in Matthew Arnold’s famous phrase). Thus it rejects the doctrines of moral relativism, political correctness, indoctrination, and ideology by educating the mind to detect lies, propaganda, and heresies in all their various disguises. It embraces what Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France refers to as the accumulated knowledge of the human experience that transcends one person’s “private stock of reason” and encompasses “the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages.”

Catholic education recognizes that just as there is a health of the body and a perfection of the soul, there is also an excellence of the intellect, both the knowledge of the head and the knowledge of the heart—the ability to read, write, speak, and listen; the skill to observe, calculate, and think logically; and the sensitivity to respond to the wonder of beauty and appreciate the virtues of the heart: kindness, charity, mercy, gratitude, loyalty, and hospitality. This education does not ignore man’s social or emotional nature, and therefore it cultivates manners, courtesy, tact, and propriety in speech, behavior, and clothing, recognizing that the beautiful or gracious is the attractive aspect of the good. In the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Glory be to God for dappled things–/For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;/For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings.” Catholic education, then, integrates and sees the unity between all bodies of knowledge ordered to to a greater understanding of God’s truth, goodness, and beauty as objects of the mind to know and contemplate with wonder, love, and gratitude and then to incorporate in one’s own life.

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman best describes this ideal of Catholic and liberal education in these words from The Idea of a University that define the nature of intellectual excellence at its highest: “the clear, calm, accurate vision and comprehension of all things”:

It is almost prophetic from its knowledge of history; it is almost heart-searching from its knowledge of human nature; it has almost supernatural charity from its freedom from littleness and prejudice; it has almost the repose of faith, because nothing can startle it; it has almost the beauty and harmony of heavenly contemplation, so intimate is it with the eternal order of things and the music of the spheres.

It is common to hear students dismiss certain fields of knowledge as useless to their profession and career. Why should a student majoring in information technology, accounting, music, or biology study philosophy, literature, or Latin? Surely they will not need this knowledge in their specialized, technical fields of study. The courses designated as “liberal arts” have no practical, utilitarian value for many professions that require skills acquired only in that particular discipline. Business majors need to study accounting, economics, and statistics to become expert in their field, and pre-medical students benefit more from the study of the sciences than the humanities.

Newman, however, addressed this very question during the Victorian Age when trade schools and technical training established respectability as models of education essential for the Industrial Age centered upon the importance of manufacturing and the progress of science. Thus Newman’s age made the common distinction between “the good” and “the useful,” separating the two ideas as exclusive. While the useful was good, the good was not useful or “utilitarian” as it was defined in that period. For something to be classified as “good” or beneficial, it needed to have immediate results and produce tangible benefits. As Sir Francis Bacon argued, knowledge is power. An education that led to a job was useful; work that resulted in good income was useful; the income that improved a person’s standard of living was useful. The useful, then, was measured in quantitative ways and seen in materialistic advantages.

A bone fide classical or Catholic education, however, is not utilitarian, a form of training in a marketable skill motivated by economic considerations for the sole purpose of earning a livelihood. It is a love of learning for its own sake, a desire for truth as an end in itself and as a great good that suffuses all areas of life. Classical education views the study of the liberal arts as a pursuit that resembles the habit of worship, the cultivation of friendship, the appreciation of beauty, the enjoyment of play, and a love of learning as activities that are intrinsically good in and of themselves. They lift the heart, animate the spirit, and inspire a love of life and of the goodness of creation. As Newman explains, the good, while not utilitarian, is always useful. The good is “not useful in any low, mechanical, mercantile sense, but as diffusing good, or as a blessing, or a gift, or power, or a treasure, first to the owner, then through him to the world.”

Good is not only good, but reproductive of good; this is one of its attributes; nothing is excellent, beautiful, perfect, desirable for its own sake, but it overflows, and spreads the likeness of all around it. Good is prolific . . . . A great good will impart a great good.

In short, if there is no limit to all the good a blessing, a gift, power, an act of love, or a precious treasure can add to the world or to the life of one person and if there is no limit to the overflow of goodness that communicates and diffuses itself everywhere and touches many lives, a Catholic education is the most useful of educations because of all the practical, real good that abounds for all who receive this goodness and transmit it in a generous, charitable sharing way for all to know, love, and perpetuate.

 

 

 

On Holy Communion – St. Alphonsus

“A certain man made a great supper.” LUKE xiv. 16.

IN the gospel of this day we read that a rich man prepared a great supper. He then ordered one of his servants to invite to it all those whom he should find in the highways, even though they were poor, blind, and lame, and to compel those who should refuse, to come to the supper. “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (v. 20). And he added, that of all those who had been invited and had not come, not one should ever partake of his supper. “But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited shall taste of my supper” (v. 24).

This supper is the holy communion; it is a Page 130 of 233 great supper, at which all the faithful are invited to eat the sacred flesh of Jesus Christ in the most holy sacrament of the altar. “Take ye and eat: this is my body.” (Matt. xxiv. 26.) Let us then consider today, in the first point, the great love which Jesus Christ has shown us in giving us himself in this sacrament; and, in the second point, how we ought to receive him in order to draw great fruit from the holy communion.

First Point

On the great love which Jesus Christ has shown us in giving us himself in this sacrament.

1. ”Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end. ”(John xiii. 1.) Knowing that the hour of his death had arrived, Jesus Christ wished, before his departure from this world, to leave us the greatest proof which he could give of his love, by leaving us himself in the holy eucharist.

”He loved them to the end. That is, according to St. Chrysostom, ”with an extreme love.” St. Bernardino of Sienna says that the tokens of love which are given at death make a more lasting impression on the mind, and are more highly esteemed. ”Quæ in fine in signum amicitiæ celebrantur, firmius memoriæ imprimuntur et cariora tenentur.”

But, whilst others leave a ring, or a piece of money, as a mark of their affection, Jesus has left us himself entirely in this sacrament of love.

2. And when did Jesus Christ institute this sacrament? He instituted it, as the Apostle has remarked, on the night before his passion . “The Lord Jesus, the same night on which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke and said: “Take ye and eat: this is my body.” (1 Cor. xi. 23, 24.)

Thus, at the very time that men were preparing to put him to death, our loving Redeemer resolved to bestow upon us this gift. Jesus Christ, then, was not content with giving his life for us on a cross: he wished also, before his death, to pour out, as the Council of Trent says, all the riches of his love, by leaving himself for our food in the holy communion. “He, as it were, poured out the riches of his love towards man.” (Sess. 13, cap. ii.)

If faith had not taught it, who could ever imagine that a God would become man, and afterwards become the food of his own creatures? When Jesus Christ revealed to his followers this sacrament which he intended to leave us, St. John says, that they could not bring themselves to believe it, and departed from him saying: ”How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?…This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” (St. John vi. 53, 61.) But what men could not imagine, the real love of Jesus Christ has invented and effected. ”Take ye and eat: this is my body.” These words he addressed to his apostles on the night before he suffered, and he now, after his death, addresses them to us.

3. “How highly honoured, ” says St. Francis de Sales, “would that man fed to whom the king sent from his table a portion of what he had on his own plate? But how should he feel if that portion were a part of the king‟s arm?” In the holy communion Jesus gives us, not a part of his arm, but his entire body in the sacrament of the altar. “He gave you all,” says St. Chrysostom, reproving our ingratitude, ”he left nothing for Himself. ”

And St. Thomas teaches, that in the eucharist God has given us all that he is and all that he has. “Deus in eucharistia totum quod est et habet, dedit nobis.” (Opusc. 63, c. ii.) Justly then has the same saint called the eucharist”a sacrament of love; a pledge of love. ”“Sacramentum charitatis pignus charitatis.”

It is a sacrament of love, because it was pure love that induced Jesus Christ to give us this gift and pledge of love: for he wished that, should a doubt of his having loved us ever enter into our minds, we should have in this sacrament a pledge of his love.

St. Bernard calls this sacrament”love of loves.”“Amor amorum.” By his incarnation, the Lord has given himself to all men in general; but, in this sacrament, he has given, himself to each of us in particular, to make us understand the special love which he entertains for each of us.

4. Oh! how ardently does Jesus Christ desire to come to our souls in the holy communion! This vehement desire he expressed at the time of the institution of this sacrament, when he said to the apostles: ”With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you.” (Luke xxii. 15.)

St. Laurence Justinian says that these words proceeded from the enamoured heart of Jesus Christ, who, by such tender expressions, wished to show us the ardent love with which he loved us. ”This is the voice of the most burning charity. ”Flagrantissimæ charitatis est vox hæc.” And, to induce us to receive him frequently in the holy communion, he promises eternal life that is, the kingdom of heaven to those who eat his flesh. ”He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” (John vi. 59.)

On the other hand, it threatens to deprive us of his grace and of Paradise, if we neglect communion. ”Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John vi. 54.) These promises and these threats all sprung from a burning desire to come to us in this sacrament.

5. And why does Jesus Christ so vehemently desire that we receive him in the holy communion? It is because he takes delight in being united with each of us. By the communion, Jesus is really united to our soul and to our body, and we are united to Jesus. “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him.” (John vi. 57.) Thus, after communion, we are, says St. Chrysostom, one body and one flesh with Jesus Christ. ”Huic nos unimur, et facti summus unum corpus ut una caro.” (Hom. lxviii. ad Pop. Ant.)

Hence St. Laurence Justinian exclaims: “Oh! how wonderful is thy love, O Lord Jesus, who hast wished to incorporate us in such a manner with thy body, that we should have one heart and one soul inseparably united with thee.” Thus, to every soul that receives the eucharist, the Lord says what he once said to his beloved servant Margaret of Ipres ”Behold, my daughter, the close union made between me and thee; love me, then, and let us remain for ever united in love: let us never more be separated.”

This union between us and Jesus Christ is, according to St. Chrysostom, the effect of the love which Jesus Christ bears us. ”Semetipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus ardentur enim amantium hoc est. ” (Hom. lxi.) But, Lord, such intimate union with man is not suited to thy divine majesty.

But love seeks not reason; it goes not where it ought to go, but where it is drawn. ”Amor ratione caret, et vadit quo dicitur, non quo debeat.” (Serm. cxliii.) St. Bernardino of Sienna says that, in giving himself for our food, Jesus Christ loved us to the last degree; because he united himself entirely to us, as food is united to those who eat it. “Ultimus gradus amoris est, cum se dedit nobis in cibum quia dedit se nobis ad omnimodam unionem, sicut cibus et cibans, invicem uniuntur.” (Tom. 2, Serm. liv.)

The same doctrine has been beautifully expressed by St. Francis de Sales. ”No action of the Saviour can be more loving or more tender than the institution of the holy eucharist, in which he, as it were, annihilates himself, and takes the form of food, to unite himself to the souls and bodies of his faithful servants.”

6. Hence, there is nothing from which we can draw so much fruit as from the holy communion. St. Denis teaches, that the most holy sacrament has greater efficacy to sanctify souls than all other spiritual means. ”Eucharistia maxim am vim habet perficiendæ  sanctitatis.”

St. Vincent Ferrer says, that a soul derives more profit from one communion than from fasting a week on bread and water. The eucharist is, according to the holy Council of Trent, a medicine which delivers us from venial, and preserves us from mortal sins. “Antidotum quo a culpis quotidianis liberemur, et a rnortalibus præservemur.” Jesus himself has said, that they who eat him, who is the fountain of life, shall receive permanently the life of grace. “He that eateth me, the same shall also live by me.” (John vi. 58.)

Innocent the Third teaches, that by the passion Jesus Christ delivers us from the sins we have committed, and by the eucharist from the sins we may commit. According to St. Chrysostom, the holy communion inflames us with the fire of divine love, and makes us objects of terror to the devil. ”The eucharist is a fire which inflames us, that, like lions breathing fire, we may retire from the altar, being made terrible to the devil.” (Hom. lxi. ad Pop. Ant.)

In explaining the words of the Spouse of the Canticles, “He brought me into the cellar of wine; lie set in order charity in me” (ii. 4.) St. Gregory says, that the communion is this cellar of wine, in which the soul is so inebriated with divine love, that she forgets and loses sight of all earthly things.

7. Some will say: ”I do not communicate often; because I am cold in divine love.” In answer to them Gerson asks, Will you then, because you feel cold, remove from the fire? When you are tepid you should more frequently approach this sacrament. St. Bonaventure says: ”Trusting in the mercy of God, though you feel tepid, approach: let him who thinks himself unworthy reflect, that the more infirm he feels himself the more he requires a physician” (de Prof. Rel., cap. lxxviii).

And, in”The Devout Life,” chapter xx., St. Francis de Sales writes: ”Two sorts of persons ought to communicate often: the perfect, to preserve perfection; and the imperfect, to arrive at perfection.” It cannot be doubted, that he who wishes to communicate should prepare himself with great diligence, that he may communicate well. Let us pass to the second point.

Second Point

On the preparation we ought to make in order to derive great fruit from the holy communion.

8. Two things are necessary in order to draw great fruit from communion preparation for, and thanksgiving after communion. As to the preparation, it is certain that the saints derived great profit from their communions, only because they were careful to prepare themselves well for receiving the holy eucharist.

It is easy then to understand why so many souls remain subject to the same imperfections, after all their communions. Cardinal Bona says, that the defect is not in the food, but in the want of preparation for it. ”Defectus non in bibo est, sed in edentis dispositione.”

For frequent communion two principal dispositions are necessary. The first is detachment from creatures, and disengagement of the heart from everything that is not God. The more the heart is occupied with earthly concerns, the less room there is in it for divine love. Hence, to give full possession of the whole heart to God, it is necessary to purify it from worldly attachments.

This is the preparation which Jesus himself recommends to St. Gertrude. ”I ask nothing more of thee,” said he to her, ”than that thou come to receive me with a heart divested of thyself.” Let us, then, withdraw our affections from creatures, and our hearts shall belong entirely to the Creator.

9. The second disposition necessary to draw great fruit from communion, is a desire of receiving Jesus Christ in order to advance in his love. ”He,” says St. Francis de Sales, ”who gives himself through pure love, ought to be received only through love.”

Thus, the principal end of our communions must be to advance in the love of Jesus Christ. He once said to St. Matilda: “When you communicate, desire all the love that any soul has ever had for me, and I will accept your love in proportion to the fervour with which you wished for it.”

10. Thanksgiving after communion is also necessary. The prayer we make after communion is the most acceptable to God, and the most profitable to us. After communion the soul should be employed in affections and petitions. The affections ought to consist not only in acts of thanksgiving, but also in acts of humility, of love, and of oblation of ourselves to God.

Let us then humble ourselves as much as possible at the sight of a God made our food after we had offended him. A learned author says that, for a soul after communion, the most appropriate sentiment is one of astonishment at the thought of receiving a God. She should exclaim: ”What! a God to me! a God to me!” Let us also make many acts of the love of Jesus Christ.

He has come into our souls in order to be loved. Hence, he is greatly pleased with those who, after communion, say to him: “My Jesus, I love thee; I desire nothing but thee.” Let us also offer ourselves and all that we have to Jesus Christ, that he may dispose of all as he pleases: and let us frequently say: ”My Jesus, thou art all mine; thou hast given thyself entirely to me; I give myself entirely to thee.

11. After communion; we should not only make these affections, but we ought also to present to God with great confidence many petitions for his graces. The time after communion is a time in which we can gain treasures of divine graces. St. Teresa says, that at that time Jesus Christ remains in the soul as on a throne, saying to her what he said to the blind man: ”What wilt thou that I should do to thee ?” (Mark x. 51.) As if he said: ”But me you have not always.” (John xii. 8.)

Now that you possess me within you, ask me for graces: I have come down from heaven on purpose to dispense them to you; ask whatever you wish, and you shall obtain it. Oh! what great graces are lost by those who spend but little time in prayer after communion. Let us also turn to the Eternal Father, and, bearing in mind the promise of Jesus Christ “Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you” (John xvi. 23) let us say to him: My God, for the love of this thy Son, whom I have within my heart, give me thy love; make me all thine. And if we offer this prayer with confidence, the Lord will certainly hear us. He who acts thus may become a saint by a single communion.

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