The Glories Of Mary – Part 3

HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF OUR MOTHER FOR US.

by ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI

If, then, Mary is our mother, let us consider how much she loves us. The love of parents for their children is a necessary love, and for this reason, as St. Thomas observes, children are commanded in the divine law to love their parents; but there is no command, on the other hand, given to parents to love their children, for love towards one s own offspring is a love so deeply planted in the heart by nature herself, that even the wild beasts, as St. Ambrose says, never fail to love their young.

It is said that even tigers, hearing the cry of their whelps when they are taken by the hunters, will plunge into the sea to swim after the vessels where they are confined. If, then, says our most loving mother Mary, even tigers cannot forget their young, how can I forget to love you, my children ? And, she adds, even if it should happen that a mother could forget her child, it is not possible that I can forget a soul which is my child.

Mary is our mother, not according to tHe flesh, but by love: “I am the mother of fair love. ” Hence she becomes our mother only on account of the love she bears us; and she glories, says a certain author, in being the mother of love; because, having taken us for her children, she is all love towards us. Who can describe the love of Mary for us miserable creatures?

Arnold of Carnotensis says that, at the death of Jesus Christ, she ardently desired to die with her Son for our sake. So that, as St. Ambrose adds, when her Son hung dying on the cross, Mary offered herself to his murderers, that she might give her life for us.

But let us consider the reasons of this love, for thus we shall better understand how this good mother loves us. The first reason of the great love that Mary bears to men, is the great love she bears to God. Love to God and man is contained in the same precept, as St. John has written: “This commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother ;” so that one increases as the other increases. Hence what have the saints not done for love of the neighbor, because they have loved God so much? They have gone so far as to expose and lose liberty and even life for his salvation.

Let us read what St. Francis Xavier did in India, where, for the sake of the souls of those barbarians, he climbed mountains, and exposed himself to in numerable dangers to find those wretched beings, in the caverns where they dwelt like wild beasts, and to lead them to God. St. Francis de Sales, to convert the heretics of the province of Chablais, risked his life by crossing a river every day for a year, on his hands and knees, upon a frozen beam, that he might go to the other side to preach to those stubborn men. St. Paulinus became a slave, to obtain liberty for the son of a poor widow. St. Fidelis, to bring the heretics of a cerrtain place back to God, willingly consented, in preaching to them, to lose his life. The saints, then, because they have loved God so much, have done much for love of the neighbor. But who has loved God more than Mary? She loved God more, in the first moment of her life, than all the saints and angels have loved him in the whole course of theirs; as we shall consider at length, when we speak of the virtues of Mary.

She herself revealed to sister Mary of the Crucifixion, that the fire of love with which she burned for God was so great, that it would in a moment inflame heaven and earth; and that, in comparison to it, all the flames of the burning love of the seraphim were as cool breezes. Therefore, as there is none among the blessed spirits who loves God more than Mary; so there is, and can be none, except God, who loves us more than this our most loving mother. If the love of all mothers for their children, of all husbands for their wives, and of all saints and angels for their devoted servants, were united, it would not be so great as the love that Mary bears to one soul alone. Father Nierembergh says that the love which all mothers have borne to their children is a shadow when compared with the love which Mary bears to any one of us. Truly she alone loves us more, he adds, than all the angels and saints united.

Moreover, our mother loves us much, because we have been commended to her as children by her beloved Jesus, when, before expiring, he said to her: “Woman, behold thy son;” signifying by the person of John, all men, as we have before remarked. These were the last words of her Son to her. The last remembrances left by beloved friends at the moment of their death are greatly valued, and the memory of them is never lost. Moreover, we are children extremely dear to Mary, because we cost her so much suffering. Those children are much dearer to a mother whose lives she has preserved; we are those children, for whom, that we may have the life of grace, Mary suffered the pain of sacrific ing the dear life of her Jesus; submitting, for our sake, to see him die before her eyes in cruel torments.

By this great offering of Mary we were then born to the life of divine grace. So, then, we are children very dear to her, because we were redeemed at such a cost of suffering. Accordingly, as we read of the love which the eter nal Father has manifested for men by giving his own Son to death for us, “God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son :” as St. Bonaventure remarks, it may be said of Mary also, that she so loved us as to give her only-begotten Son And when did she give him to us? She gave him to us, says Father Nieremberg, when first she consented to his death; she gave him to us, when others deserted him through hatred or through fear, and she alone could have defended, before the judges, the life of her Son. We can easily believe that the words of so wise and tender a mother would have had a great power, at least with Pilate, to induce him to abstain from condemning to death a man whom he knew and declared innocent. But no, Mary would not utter even one word in favor of her Son, to prevent his death, upon which our salvation depended; finally, she gave him to us again at the foot of the cross, in those three hours when she was witnessing his death; because then, at every moment, she was offering up for us his life, with the deepest grief, and the greatest love for us, at the cost of great trouble and suffering, and with such firmness, that if executioners had been wanting, as St. Anselm and St. Antoninus tell us, she herself would have crucified him in obedience to the will of the Father, who had decreed he should die for our salvation.

And if Abraham showed a similar fortitude in consenting to sacrifice his son with his own hands, we must believe that Mary would certainly have done the same, with more resolution, as she was holier, and more obedient than Abraham. But to return to our subject. How grateful should we be to Mary, for an act of so much love! for the sacrifice she made of the life of her Son, in the midst of so much anguish, to obtain salvation for us all! The Lord, indeed, re warded Abraham for the sacrifice he was prepared to make to him of his son Isaac; but what can we render to Mary for the life of her Jesus, as she has given us a Son more noble and beloved than the son of Abraham? This love of Mary, says St. Bonaventure, greatly obliges us to love her, seeing that she has loved us more than any other created being loves us, since she has given for us her only Son, whom she loved more than herself.

And from this follows another reason why we are so much beloved by Mary: because she knows that we have been purchased by the death of Jesus Christ. If a mother should see a servant redeemed by a beloved son of hers, by twenty years of imprisonment and suffering, for this reason alone how much would she esteem that servant! Mary well knows that her Son came upon earth solely to save us miserable sinners, as he himself declared: “I have come to save what was lost.” And to save us he has consented to lay down his life for us: “Becoming obedient unto death.”

If Mary, then, had little love for us, she would slightly value the blood of her Son, which was he price of our salvation. It was revealed to St. Elizabeth, the nun, that Mary, from the time she was in the temple, was always praying that God would quickly send his Son to save the world. Now, how much more certainly must we believe that she loves us, after she has seen us so greatly prized by her Son, that he deigned to purchase us at such a cost!

And because all men have been redeemed by Jesus, Mary loves and favors all. She was seen by St. John clothed with the sun: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun.” She is said to be clothed with the sun, because, as “There is no one that can hide himself from his heat,” so there is no one living on the earth who is deprived of the love of Mary. From the heat of the sun, as it is explained by the venerable Raymond Jordan, who through humility called himself the Idiot, that is, from the love of Mary. And who, says St. Anthony, can comprehend the care which this loving mother has of us all? Therefore, to all she offers and dispenses her mercy. For our mother has desired the salvation of all, and has co-operated with her Son in the salvation of all.

It is certain that she is concerned for the whole human race, as St. Bernard affirms ;| hence the practice of some devout servants of Mary is very useful, who, as Cornelius a Lapide relates, have the habit of praying our Lord to grant them those graces which the blessed Virgin is seeking for them, using these words: “Oh Lord, give me what the most holy Virgin Mary is asking for me.” And this is well, as à Lapide adds, for our mother desires greater things for us than we think of asking for ourselves.

The devout Bernardine de Bustis says, that Mary is more desirous to do us good, and bestow favors upon us, than we are to receive them. There fore blessed Albertus Magnus applies to Mary the words of wisdom: ” She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them.” So great is the love, says Richard of St. Laurence, which this good mother bears us, that when she perceives our neces sities, she comes to relieve them. She hastens before she is invoked.

If Mary, then, is good to all, even to the ungrateful and negligent, who have but little love for her, and seldom have recourse to her, how much more loving must she not be to those who love her and often invoke her! “She is easily seen by them that love her. ” Oh, how easy it is, exclaims the same blessed Albertus, for those who love Mary to find her, and find her full of love and pity!

I love them that love me,”she assures us, and declares that she can not but love those who love her. And although our most loving lady loves all men as her chil dren, yet, says St. Bernard, she recognizes and loves especially those who most tenderly love her. Those happy lovers of Mary, as the Idiot asserts, are not only loved, but served by her.

Leonard the Dominican, as we read in the chronicles of his order, who was accustomed to recommend himself two hundred times a day to this mother of mercy, when he was on his death-bed, saw one beautiful as a queen by his side, who said to him: Leonard, do you wish to die and come to my Son and me? ” “Who are you? ” answered the religious. “I am the mother of mercy,” replied the Virgin; “you have many times invoked me, and now I come to take you: let us go to paradise.” On that same day Leonard died, and we hope that he followed her to the kingdom of the blessed.

“Ah, most sweet Mary, blessed is he who loves you the venerable brother John Berchmans, of the society of Jesus, used to say: “If I love Mary, I am sure of perseverance, and I shall obtain from God whatsoever I wish.” And this devout youth was never satisfied with renewing his intention, and often repeated to himself : “I will love Mary, I will love Mary.”

Oh,how much this our good mother exceeds all her children in affection, even if they love her to the extent of their power! “Mary is always more loving than her lovers,”says St. Ignatius, martyr. Let us love her as much as St. Stanislaus Kostka, who loved this his dear mother so tenderly, that when he spoke of her, every one who heard him desired to love her also; lie invented new titles hy which he honored hef name; he never commenced an action without first turning to her image and asking her blessing; when he recited her office, her rosary, and other prayers, he repeated them with such affectionate earnestness,that he seemed speaking face to face with Mary; when he heard the Salve Regina sung, his soul and even his countenance was all on fire; when asked one day hy a father of the society, as they were going together to visit an altar of the blessed Virgin, how much he loved her,”Father,” he answered, “what can I say more than she is my mother ? ” And that father tells us how the holy youth spoke these words with such tender emotion of voice, countenance, and heart, that he appeared not a man,but an angel discoursing the love of Mary.

Let us love her as much as blessed Hermann, who called her his beloved spouse, whilst he also was honored by Mary with the same name. As much as St. Philip Neri, who felt wholly consoled in merely thinking of Mary, and on this account named her his delight. As much as St. Bonaventure, who not only called her his lady and mother, but, to show the tender affection he bore her, went so far as to call her his heart and his soul: Hail, lady, my mother; yea, my heart, my soul.” Let us love her as much as her great lover St. Bernard, who loved his sweet mother so much, that he called her “the ravisher of hearts:” f whence the saint, in order to express to her the ardent love he bore her, said to her, “Hast thou not stolen my heart? ”

Let us name her our beloved mistress, as St. Bernardine of Sienna named her, who went every day to visit her before her sacred image, in order to declare his love in the tender colloquies he held with his queen. When he was asked where he went every day, he answered that he went to find his beloved. Let them love her as much as St. Louis of Gonzaga, who burned continually with so great love of Mary, that as soon as he heard the sound of the sweet name of his dear mother, his heart kindled, and a flame perceptible to all, lighted up his countenance. Let us love her like St. Francis Solano, who, distracted by a holy passion for Mary, sometimes went with a musical instrument to sing of love before her altar, saying that, like earthly lovers, he was serenading his beloved queen.

Let us love her as so many of her servants have loved her, who had no way left of manifesting their love to her. Father Jerome of Trexo, of the Society of Jesus, delighted in calling himself the slave of Mary, and as a mark of his servitude went often to visit her in a church: and what did he do there? He watered the church with the tears of that tender love which he felt for Mary; then he wiped them with his lips, kissing that pavement a thousand times, remembering that it was the house of his beloved mistress. Father Diego Martinez, of the same society, who, on account of his devotion to our Lady, on the feasts of Mary, was carried by angels to heaven, that he might see with how much devotion they were celebrated there, said, “Would that I had all the hearts of the angels and the saints to love Mary as they love her. Would that I had the lives of all men, to devote them all to the love of Mary!”

Let others love her as Charles the son of St. Bridget loved her, who said that he knew of nothing in the world which gave him so much consolation as the thought of how much Mary was beloved by God; and he added, that he would accept every suffering rather than that Mary should lose, if it were possible for her to lose it, the least portion of her greatness; and if the greatness of Mary were his, he would renounce it in her behalf, because she was more worthy of it. Let us desire to sacrifice our life in testimony of our love to Mary, as Alphonso Rodriguez desired to do. Let us, like Francesco Binanzio, a religious, and Radagunde, wife of King Clotaire, engrave with sharp instruments of iron upon our breast the sweet name of Mary. Let us, with red-hot iron, impress upon our flesh the beloved name, that it may be more distinct and more enduring, as did her devoted servants Battista Archinto and Agostino d Espinosa, both of the Company of Jesus.

If, then, the lovers of Mary imitate, as much as possible, those lovers who endeavor to make known their affection to the person beloved, they can never love her so much as she loves them. I know, oh Lady, said St. Peter Damian, how loving thou art, and that thou lovest us with un conquerable love. The venerable Alphonso Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, was once standing before an image of Mary; and there burning with love for the most holy Virgin, broke forth into these words: “My most amiable mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me so much as I love thee.” Then Mary, as if wounded in her love, spoke to him from that image and said: “What dost thou say what dost thou say, oh Alphonso? Oh, how much greater is the love I bear thee than the love thou bearest me! Know that the distance from heaven to earth is not so great as from my love to thine.”

With how much reason, then, did St. Bonaventure exclaim: Blessed are those whose lot it is to be faithful servants and lovers of this mosl loving mother! For this most grateful queen is never surpassed in love by her devoted servants. Mary, in this respect, imitating our loving Redeemer Jesus Christ, makes by her favors a twofold return to him who loves her. I will exclaim, then, with the enamored St. Anselm: May my heart languish, may my soul melt with your never-failing love. May my heart always burn and my soul be consumed with love for you, oh Jesus, my beloved Saviour, oh my dear mother Mary. Grant then, oh Jesus and Mary, since without your grace I cannot love you, grant to my soul, not through my merits, but through yours, that I may love you as you deserve. Oh, God! the lover of men, thou hast died for thy enemies, and canst thou deny to him who asks it, the grace of loving thee and thy mother?

EXAMPLE.

It is narrated by Father Auriemma,] that a. poor shepherdess loved Mary so much that all her delight was to go to a little chapel of our Lady, on a mountain, and there in solitude, while her sheep were feeding, to converse with her beloved mother and pay her devotion to her. When she saw that the figure of Mary, in relief, was unadorned, she began, by the poor labor of her hands, to make a drapery for it.

Having gathered one day some flowers in the fields, she wove them into a garland, and then ascending the altar of that little chapel, placed it on the head of the figure, saying: “Oh, my mother, I would that I could place on thy head a crown of gold and gems; but as I am poor, receive from me this poor crown of flowers, and accept it as a token of the love I bear thee.” Thus this devout maiden always endeavored to serve and honor her beloved Lady. But let us see how our good mother, on the other hand, rewarded the visits and the affection of her child. She fell ill, and was near her end. It happened that two religious passing that way, weary with travelling, stopped to rest under a tree; one fell asleep and the other watched, but both had the same vision.

They saw a company of beautiful virgins, and among them there was one who, in loveliness and majesty, surpassed the rest. One of the brothers addressed her, and said: “Lady, who art thou? and where art thou going?” “I am the mother of God,” she replied, “and I am going to the neighboring village, with these holy virgins, to visit a dying shepherdess, who has many times visited me.” She spoke thus and disappeared. These two good servants of God proposed to each other to go and visit hei also. They went towards the place where the dying maiden lived, entered a small cottage, and there found her lying upon a little straw. They saluted her, and she said to them: “Brothers, ask of God that he may permit you to see the company that surrounds me.” They were quickly on their knees, and saw Mary, with a crown in her hand by the side of the dying girl, consoling her. Then those holy virgins began to sing, and with that sweet music the blessed soul was released from the body. Mary crowned her, and took her soul with her to paradise.

PRAYER

Oh Lady, Ravisher of hearts I would ex claim with St. Boriaventure; who, with the love and favor thou dost bestow upon thy servants, dost ravish their hearts; take my miserable heart also, which desires so earnestly to love thee. Thou, oh my mother, with thy beauty hast enamored a God, and hast drawn him from heaven into thy bosom, and shall I live without loving thee? No. I will say to thee with thy loving child John Berchmans: “I will never rest until I have attained a tender love for my mother Mary.” No, I will not rest until I am certain of having obtained a love a constant and tender love for thee, my mother, who hast loved me with so much tenderness even when I was so ungrateful towards thee. And where should I now be if thou, oh Mary, hadst not loved me, and obtained so many favors for me? If then thou hast loved me so much when I did not love thee, how much more may I confide in thy goodness, now that I love thee?

I love thee, oh my mother, and would wish for a heart capable of loving thee, for all those unhappy beings who do not love thee. Would that my tongue could praise thee with the power of a thousand tongues, in order to make known thy greatness, thy holiness, thy mercy, and thy love, with which thou lovest those who love thee. If I had riches, I would employ them all for thy honor; if I had subjects, I would make them ail thy lovers; for thee and for thy glory I would give my life, if it were required. I love thee, oh my mother, but at the same time I fear that thou dost not love me, for I have heard that love makes lovers like those they love. If then I find myself so unlike to thee, it is a proof that I do not love thee. Thou so pure, I so unclean; thou so humble, I so proud; thou so holy, I so sinful. But this, oh Mary, is to be thy work; since thou lovest me, make me like unto thyself. Thou hast the power to change the heart; take then mine and change it. Let the world see what thou canst do for those who love thee. Make me holy make me worthy of thy Son. Thus I hope; thus may it be.

ON THE ABUSE OF DIVINE MERCY -St. Alphonsus

SERMON XLL TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST.

ON THE ABUSE OF DIVINE MERCY.

“Take care of him.” LUKE x. 35.

IN this day’s gospel we read, that a certain man fell into the hands of robbers, who, after having taken his money, wounded him, and left him half dead. A Samaritan who passed by, saw him, and taking pity on him, bound up his wounds, brought him to an inn, and left him to the care of the host, saying: ”Take care of him.” These words I this day address to those, if there be any such among you, who, though their souls are wounded by sin, instead of attending to the care of them, continually aggravate the wounds by new sins, and thus abuse the mercy of God, who preserves their lives, that they may repent, and not be lost for ever. I say to you: Brethren, take care of your souls, which are in a very bad state; have compassion on them. ”Have pity on thy own soul.” (Eccl. xxx. 24.) Your souls are sick, and what is worse they are near the eternal death of hell; for he who abuses to excess the divine mercy, is on the point of being abandoned by the mercy of God. This shall be the subject of the present discourse.

1. St. Augustine says that the devil deludes Christians in two ways” by despair and hope.” After a person has committed sin, the enemy, by placing before his eyes the rigour of divine justice, tempts him to despair of the mercy of God. But, before he sins, the devil by representing to him the divine mercy, labours to make him fearless of the chastisement due to sin. Hence the saint gives the following advice: ”After sin, hope for mercy; before sin, fear justice.”

If, after sin, you despair of God’s pardon, you offend him by a new and more grievous sin. Have recourse to his mercy, and he will pardon you. But, before sin, fear God’s justice, and trust not to his mercy; for, they who abuse the mercy of God to offend him, do not deserve to be treated with mercy. Abulensis says, that the man who offends justice may have recourse to mercy; but to whom can they have recourse, who offend and provoke mercy against themselves?

2. When you intend to commit sin, who, I ask, promises you mercy from God? Certainly God does not promise it. It is the devil that promises it, that you may lose God and be damned. ”Beware,” says St. John Chrysostom, “never to attend to that dog that promises thee mercy from God.” (Hom. 50, ad Pop.) If, beloved sinners, you have hitherto offended God, hope and tremble: if you desire to give up sin, and if you detest it, hope; because God promises pardon to all who repent of the evil they have done. But if you intend to continue in your sinful course, tremble lest God should wait no longer for you, but cast you into hell.

Why does God wait for sinners? Is it that they may continue to insult him? No; he waits for them that they may renounce sin, and that thus he may have pity on them, and forgive them. “Therefore the Lord waiteth, that he may have mercy on you.” (Isa. xxx. 1, 8.) But when he sees that the time which he gave them to weep over their past iniquities is spent in multiplying their sins, he begins to inflict chastisement, and he cuts them off in the state of sin, that, by dying, they may cease to offend him. Then he calls against them the very time he had given them for repentance. “He hath called against me the time.” (Lam. i. 15.) “The very time, ” says St. Gregory, ”comes to judge.”

3. O common illusion of so many damned Christians! We seldom find a sinner so abandoned to despair as to say: I will damn myself. Christians sin, and endeavour to save their souls. They say: ”God is merciful: I will commit this sin, and will afterwards confess it.” Behold the illusion, or rather the snare, by which Satan draws so many souls to hell. ”Commit sin,” he says, ”and confess it afterwards.”

But listen to what the Lord says: “And say not, the mercy of the Lord is great; he will have mercy on the multitude of my sins.” (Eccl. v. 6.) Wy does he tell you not to say, that the mercy of God is great? Attend to the words contained in the following verse: “For mercy and wrath come quickly from him, and his wrath looketh upon sinners.” (Ibid., ver. 7.) The mercy of God is different from the acts of his mercy; the former is infinite, the latter are finite. God is merciful, but he is also just. St. Basil says, that sinners only consider God as merciful and ready to pardon, but not as just and prepared to inflict punishment.

Of this the Lord complained one day to St. Bridget: “I am just and merciful: sinners regard me only as merciful.” St. Basil’s words are: “Bonus est Dominus sed etiam Justus, nolimus Deum ex dimidia parte cogitare.” God is just, and, being just, he must punish  the ungrateful. Father John Avila used to say, that to bear with those who avail themselves of the mercy of God to offend him, would not be mercy, but a want of justice. Mercy, as the divine mother said, is promised to those who fear, and not to those who insult the Lord. “And his mercy to them that fear him.” (Luke i. .50.)

4. Some rash sinners will say: God has hitherto shown me so many mercies; why should he not here after treat me with the same mercy? I answer: he will show you mercy, if you wish to change your life; but if you intend to continue to offend him, he tells you that he will take vengeance on your sins by casting you into hell. “Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time, that their foot may slide.” (Deut. xxxii. 35.) David says, that”except you be converted, ” he will “brandish his sword.” (Ps. vii. 13.)

The Lord has bent his bow, and waits for your conversion; but if you resolve not to return to him, he will in the end cast the arrow against you, and you shall be damned. O God! there are some who will not believe that there is a hell until they fall into it. Can you, beloved Christians, complain of the mercies of God, after he has shown you so many mercies by waiting for you so long? You ought to remain always prostrate on the earth to thank him for his mercies, saying: ”The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed.” (Lamen. iii. 32.)

Were the injuries which you offered to God committed against a brother, he would not have borne with you. God has had so much patience with you; and he now calls you again. If, after all this, he shall send you to hell, will he do you any wrong?”What is there,” he will say, ”that I ought to do more for my vineyard, that I have not done to it ?” (Isa. v. 4.) Impious wretch! what more ought I to do for you that I have not done?

5. St. Bernard says, that the confidence which sinners have in God‟s goodness when they commit sin, procures for them, not a blessing, but a malediction from the Lord. ”Est infidelis fiducia solius ubique maledictionis capax, cum videlicet in spe peccamus.” (Serm, iii., de Annunc.) O deceitful hope, which sends so many Christians to hell! St. Augustine says: “Sperant, ut peccent! Væ a perversa spe.” (In Ps. cxliv.) They do not hope for the pardon of the sins of which they repent; but they hope that, though they continue to commit sin, God will have mercy upon them; and thus they make the mercy of God serve as a motive for continuing to offend him. accursed hope! hope which is an abomination to the Lord! “And their hope the abomination. ” (Job xi. 20.)

This hope will make God hasten the execution of his vengeance; for surely a master will not defer the punishment of servants who offend him because he is good. Sinners, as St. Augustine observes, trusting in God‟s goodness, insult him, and say: “God is good; I will do what I please. ”(Tract, xxxiii. in Joan.) But, alas! how many, exclaims the same St. Augustine, has this vain hope deluded!”They who have been deceived by this shadow of vain hope cannot be numbered.”

St. Bernard writes, that Lucifer’s chastisement was accelerated, because, in rebellion against God, he hoped that he should not be punished lor his rebellion. Ammon, the son of king Manasses, seeing that God had pardoned the sins of his father, gave himself up to a wicked life with the hope of pardon; but, for Ammon there was no mercy. St. John Chrysostom says, that Judas was lost because, trusting in the goodness of Jesus Christ, he betrayed him. ”Fidit in lenitate Magistri.”

6. He that sins with, the hope of pardon, saying: “I will afterwards repent, and God will pardon me :” is, according to St. Augustine, ”not a penitent, but a scoffer.” The Apostle tells us that “God is not mocked.” (Gal. vi. 7.) It would be a mockery of God to offend him as often  and as long as you please, and always to receive the pardon of your offences. ”For what things a man shall sow,” says St. Paul, “those also shall he reap.” (Ibid., ver. 8.) They who sow sins, can hope for nothing but the hatred of God and hell. ”Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and long-suffering.” (Rom. ii. 4.)

Do you, O sinner, despise the riches of the goodness, of the patience, and long-suffering of God towards you? He uses the word riches, because the mercies which God shows us, in not punishing our sins, are riches more valuable to us than all treasures. “Knowest thou not, ” continues the Apostle, “that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance ?” (Ibid.) Do you not know that the Lord waits for you, and treats you with so much benignity, not that you may continue to sin, but that you may weep over the offences you have offered to him?

For, says St. Paul, if you persevere in sin and do not repent, your obstinacy and impenitence shall accumulate a treasure of wrath against the day of wrath, that is, the day on which God shall judge you. “According to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God.” (Ibid., verse 5.)

7. To the hardness of the sinner shall succeed his abandonment by God, who shall say of the soul that is obstinate in sin, what he said of Babylon: ”We would have cured Babylon; but she is not healed; let us forsake her.” (Jer. li. 9.) And how does God abandon the sinner?

He either sends him a sudden death, and cuts him off in sin, or he deprives him of the graces which would be necessary to bring him to true repentance; he leaves him with the sufficient graces with which he can, but will not, save his soul. The darkness of his understanding, the hardness of his heart, and the bad habits which he has contracted, will render his conversion morally impossible. Thus, he shall not be absolutely but morally abandoned. ”I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted.” (Isa. v. 5.)

When the master of the vineyard destroys its hedges, does he not show that he abandons it? It is thus that God acts when he abandons a soul. He takes away the hedge of holy fear and remorse of conscience, and leaves the soul in darkness, and then vices crowd into the heart. ”Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night: in it shall all the beasts of the wood go about. ” (Ps. ciii. 20.)

And the sinner, abandoned in an abyss of sins, will despise admonitions, excommunications, divine grace, chastisement, and hell: he will make a jest of his own damnation. ”The wicked man, when he is come into the depth of sin, contemneth.” (Prov. xviii. 3.)

8. ”Why,” asks the Prophet Jeremias, ”doth the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jer. xii. 1.) He answers: ”Gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice.” (v. 3.) Miserable the sinner who is prosperous in this life! The prosperity of sinners is a sign that God wishes to give them a temporal reward for some works which are morally good, but that he reserves them as victims of his justice for hell, where, like the accursed cockle, they shall be cast to burn for all eternity. “In the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers: Gather up the first cockle, and bind it in bundles to burn.” (Matt. xiii. 30.)

9. Thus, not to be punished in this life is the greatest of God’s chastisements on the wicked, and has been threatened against the obstinate sinner by the Prophet Isaias. ”Let us have pity on the wicked, but he will not learn justice.” (Isa. xxvi. 10.) On this passage St. Bernard says: This mercy I do not wish for: it is above all wrath. ”Misericordiam hanc nolo; super oimiem iram misericordia ista.” (Serin, xlii., in Cant.) And what greater chastisement than to be abandoned into the Lands of sin, so that, being permitted by God to fall from sin to sin, the sinner must in the end go to suffer as many hells as he has committed sins?”Add thou iniquity upon their iniquity. .. .let them he “blotted out of the book of the living.” (Ps. Ixviii. 28, 29.)

On these words Bellarmine writes: ”There is no punishment greater than when sin is the punishment of sin.” It would be better for such a sinner to die after the first sin; because by dying under the load of so many additional iniquities, he shall suffer as many hells as he has committed sins.

This is what happened to a certain comedian in Palermo, whose name was Cæsar. He one day told a friend that Father La Nusa, a missionary, foretold him that God should give him twelve years to live, and that if within that time he did not change his life, he should die a bad death. Now, said he to his friend, I have travelled through so many parts of the world: I have had many attacks of sickness, one of which nearly brought me to the grave; but in this month the twelve years shall be completed, and I feel myself in better health than in any of the past years.

He then invited his friend to listen to a new comedy which he had composed. But, what happened? On the 24th November, 1688, the day fixed for the comedy, as he was going on the stage, he was seized with apoplexy, and died suddenly. He expired in the arms of a female comedian. Thus the scene of this world ended miserably for him.

10. Let us make the application to ourselves, and conclude the discourse. Brethren, I entreat you to give a glance at all the bygone years of your life: look at the grievous offences you have committed against God, and at the great mercies which he has shown to you, the many lights he has bestowed upon you, and the many times he has called you to a change of life.

By this sermon he has Today given you a new call. He appears to me to say to you: “What is there that I ought to do to my vineyard, that I have not done to it ?” (Isa. v. 4.) What more ought I to do for you that I have not done? What do you say? What answer have you to make? Will you give yourselves to God, or will you continue to offend him? Consider, says St. Augustine, that the punishment of your sins has been deferred, not remitted;”unfruitful tree! the axe has been deferred.

Be not secure: you shall be cut off.” If you abuse the divine mercy, you shall be cut off; vengeance shall soon fall upon you. What do you wait for? Do you wait till God sends you to hell? The Lord has been hitherto silent; but he is not silent for ever. When the time of vengeance shall arrive he will say: ”These things hast thou done, and I was silent. Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee: but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face. “(Ps. xlix. 21.)

He will set before your eyes the graces which he bestowed upon you, and which you have despised: these very graces shall judge and condemn you. brethren, resist no longer the calls of God; tremble lest the call which he gives you Today may be the last call for you.

Go to confession as soon as possible, and make a firm resolution to change your lives. It is useless to confess your sins, if you afterwards return to your former vices. But you will perhaps say, that you have not strength to resist the temptations by which you are assailed. Listen to the words of the Apostle: ”God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tempted above that which you are able.” (1 Cor. x. 13.)

God is faithful: he will not permit you to be tempted above your strength. And if of yourself you have not strength to overcome the devil, ask it from God, and he will give it to you. ”Ask, and you shall receive.” (John xvi. 24.) “Praising,” said David, ”I will call on the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.” (Ps. xvii. 4.) And St. Paul said: ”I can do all things in him who strengthened me.” (Phil. iv. 13.)

Of myself I can do nothing; but with the divine assistance I can do all things. Recommend yourselves to God in all temptations, and God will enable you to resist them, and you shall not fall.

The Glories Of Mary – St. Alphonsus Part 2

HOW MUCH GREATER SHOULD BE OUR CONFIDENCE IN MARY BECAUSE SHE IS OUR MOTHER.

Not by chance, nor in vain, do the servants of Mary call her mother, and it would seem that they cannot invoke her by any other name, and are never weary of calling her mother; mother, indeed, for she is truly our mother, not according to the flesh, but the spiritual mother of our souls and of our salvation. Sin, when it deprived our souls of divine grace, also deprived them of life.

Hence, when they were dead in misery and sin, Jesus our Redeemer came with an excess of mercy and love to restore to us, by his death upon the cross, that lost life, as he has himself declared : “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” More, abundantly, because, as the theologians teach us, Jesus Christ by his redemption brought us blessings greater than the injury Adam inflicted upon us by his sin; he reconciled us to God, and thus became the father of our souls, under the new law of grace, as the prophet Isaiah predicted: “The Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.” But if Jesus is the father of our souls, Mary is the mother; for, in giving us Jesus, she gave us the true life; and offering upon Calvary the life of her Son for our salvation, she then brought us forth to the life of divine grace.

At two different times, then as the holy Fathers show us, Mary became our spiritual mother; the first when she was found worthy of conceiving in her virginal womb the Son of God, as the blessed Albertus Magnus says.

St. Bernardine of Sienna more distinctly teaches us that when the most holy Virgin, on the annunciation of the angel, gave her consent to be come mother of the eternal Word, which he awaited before making himself her Son, she by this consent even from that time demanded of God, with lively affection, our salvation; and she was so earnestly engaged in obtaining it, that from that time she has borne us, as it were, in her womb, as a most loving mother.

St. Luke says, speaking of the birth of our Saviour, that Mary “brought forth her first-born son.”J Therefore, says a certain writer, if the evangelist affirms that Mary brought forth her first-born, is it to be supposed that she afterwards had the children? But the same author adds; If it is of faith that Mary had no other children according to the flesh except Jesus, then she must have other spiritual children, and these we are. Our Lord revealed this to St. Gertrude, who, reading one day the passage of the Gospel just quoted, was troubled, not knowing how to un derstand it, that Mary being mother of Jesus Christ alone, it could be said that he was her first-born. And God explained it to her, by tell ing her that Jesus was her first-born according to the flesh, but men were her second-born according to the spirit.

And this explains what is said of Mary in the holy Canticles: “Thy belly is as a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.” St. Ambrose explains this and says: Although in the pure womb of Mary there was only one grain of wheat, which was Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of grain, because in that one grain were contained all the elect, of whom Mary was to be the mother. Hence, William the Abbot wrote, Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, who is our Saviour and our life, brought forth all of us to life and salvation.

The second time in which Mary brought us forth to grace was, when on Calvary, she offered to the eternal Father with so much sorrow of heart the life of her beloved Son for our salvation. Wherefore, St. Augustine asserts, that, having then co-operated by her love with Christ in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace, she became also by this co-operation the spiritual mother of us all, who are members of our head, Jesus Christ.

This is also the meaning of what is said of the blessed Virgin in the sacred Canticles: “They have made me the keeper in the vineyards; my vineyard I have not kept.”f Mary, to save our souls, was willing to sacrifice the life of her Son,J as William the Abbot remarks. And who was the soul of Mary, but her Jesus, who was her life and all her love?

Wherefore St. Simeon announced to her that her soul would one day be pierced by a sword of sorrow ; which was the very spear that pierced the side of Jesus, who was the soul of Mary. And then she in her sorrow brought us forth to eternal life; so that we may all call ourselves children of the dolors of Mary. She, our most loving mother, was always and wholly united to the divine will; whence St. Bonaventure remarks, that when she saw the love of the eternal Father for men, who would have his Son die for our salvation, and the love of the Son in wishing: to die for us, she too, with her whole will, offered her Son and consented that he should die that we might be saved, in order to conform herself to that exceeding love of the Father and Son for the human race.

It is true that, in dying for the redemption of the world, Jesus wished to be alone. I have trodden the wine-press alone, “Torcular calcavieolus.” But when God saw the great desire of Mary to devote herself also to the salvation of men, he ordained that by the sacrifice and offering of the life of this same Jesus, she might co-operate with him in the work of our salvation, and thus become mother of our souls.

And this our Saviour signified, when, before expiring, he saw from the cross his mother and the disciple St. John both standing near him, and first spoke to Mary: Behold thy son, “Ecce filius tuus;” as if he said to her: Behold the man who, by te offering thou hast made of my life for his salva tion, is already born to grace. And then turning to the disciple, he said: Behold thy mother, “Ecce mater tua.” By which words, says St. Bernardino of Sienna, Mary was then made mother not only of St. John, but of all men, for the love she bore them.

On this account, as Silveira observes, St. John himself, when recording this fact in his Gospel, wrote, “After that he said to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” Let it be remarked that Jesus Christ did not say this to John, but to the disciple, to signify that the Saviour appointed Mary for common mother of all those who, being Christians, bear the name of his disciples.

I am the mother of fair love, “Ego sum mater pulchrse dilectionis,” said Mary; because her love, as an author remarks, which renders the souls of men beautiful in the eye of God, prompts her, as a loving mother, to receive us for her children. And as a mother loves her children, and watches over their welfare, so thou, oh our most sweet queen, lovest us, and dost procure our happiness, says St. Bonaventure.

Oh, happy those who live under the protection of a mother so loving and so powerful! The prophet David, although Mary was not yet born, besought of God salvation, by dedicating himself to Mary as her son, and thus prayed; “Save the son of thy handmaid.” Whose handmaid?” asks St. Augustine, “she who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” And who, says Cardinal Bellarmine, who would dare to snatch these children from the bosom of Mary, where they have taken refuge from their enemies?

What fury of hell or of passion can. conquer them, if they place their trust in the protection of this great mother? It is narrated of the whale, that when she sees her young in peril, from the tempest or their pursuers, she opens her mouth and receives them into her bowels. Just so, says Novarino, does this compassionate mother of the faithful, when the tempest of the passions is raging; She then, with maternal affection, protects them as it were in her bowels, and continues to shelter them until she has placed them in the secure haven of paradise. Oh, most loving mother! Oh, most compassionate mother, be ever blessed! and may that God be ever blessed, who has given us thee as a mother, and as a secure refuge in all the dangers of this life.

The blessed Virgin herself revealed this to St. Bridget, saying: “As a mother who sees her son exposed to the sword of the enemy, makes every effort to save him, thus do I, and will I ever do for my children, sinful though they be, if they come to me for help.” Behold, then, how in every battle with hell we shall always conquer, and certainly conquer, if we have recourse to the mother of God and our mother, always repeating: “We fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God; we fly to thy protection, oh holy mother of God.” Oh, how many victories have the faithful obtained over hell, by having recourse to Mary with this short but powerful prayer! That great servant of God, Sister Mary of the Crucifixion, a Benedictine nun, by this means always conquered the evil spirits.

Be joyful then, all ye children of Mary; remember that she adopts as her children all those who wish her for their mother. Joyful; for what fear have you of being lost when this mother defends and protects you? Thus says St. Bonaventure: Every one who loves this good mother and trusts in her protection, should take cour age and repeat: What do you fear, oh my soul? The cause of thy eternal salvation will not be lost, as the final sentence depends upon Jesus, who is thy brother, and upon Mary who is thy mother. And St. Anselm full of joy at this thought, exclaims, in order to encourage us: Oh, blessed confidence!

Oh, secure refuge! The mother of God is my mother also. With what certainty may we hope, since our salvation depends upon the sentence of a good brother and of a kind motherjf Hear, then, our mother who calls us, and says to us; “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me.” Little children have always on their lips the word mother, and in all the dangers to which they are exposed, and in all their fears, they cry mother, Ah, most sweet Mary! Ah, most loving mother ! this is exactly what thou dost desire; that we become little children, and always call upon thee in our dangers,and always have recourse to thee, for thou wishest to aid and save us, as thou hast saved all thy children who have had recourse to thee.

EXAMPLE

In the history of the foundations of the Company of Jesus, in the kingdom of Naples, is re lated the following story of a noble youth of Scotland, named William Elphinstone. He was a relation of King James. Born a heretic, he followed the false sect to which he belonged; but enlightened by divine grace, which showed him his errors, he went to France, where, with the assistance of a good Jesuit father, who was like himself a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the blessed Virgin, he at length saw the truth, abjured heresy, and became a Catholic.

He went afterwards to Rome, where a friend of his found him one day very much afflicted, and weeping. He asked him the cause, and he answered, that in the night his mother had appeared to him and said: “My son, it is well for thee that thou hast entered the true Church; I am already lost, because I died in heresy.” From that time he became more fervent in his devotion to Mary, chose her for his mother, and by her was inspired to become a religious. He made a vow to do so, but being ill, he went to Naples to restore his health by a change of air. But the Lord ordered it so that he should die in Naples, and die a religious; for, having become dangerously ill soon after his arrival there, he by prayers and tears obtained from the superiors admittance, and when about receiving the viaticum, he made his vows in presence of the blessed sacrament, and was enrolled in the society. After this, in the tenderness of his feelings, he gave thanks to his mother Mary for having rescued him from heresy, and brought him to die in the true Church, and in a religious house in the midst of his brethren.

Therefore, he exclaimed: “Oh! how glorious it is to die in the midst of so many angels!” Being exhorted to take a little rest, he answered: “Ah, this is not the time to rest when the end of my life is drawing near.” Before dying, he said to the persons present: “Brethren, do you not see the angels of heaven around me?” One of the religious having heard him murmuring something to himself, asked him what he had said. He answered, that his angel-guardian had reyealed to him that he should be in purgatory but a short time, and would soon enter paradise. Then he began again to talk with his sweet mother Mary, and repeating the word, mother, mother, he tranquilly expired, like a child falling asleep in the arms of its mother. Soon after, it was revealed to a devout religious that he had already entered paradise.

PRAYER

Oh, my most holy mother, how is it possible that, having so holy a mother, I should be so wicked? A mother so inflamed with love to God, and that I should so love creatures? A mother so rich in virtue, and that I should be so poor? Oh, my most amiable mother! I no longer deserve, it is true, to be thy son, because by my bad life I have rendered myself unworthy. I am content if thou wilt accept me as thy servant. I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the earth, to be admitted among the lowest of thy servants. Yes, I am content, but do not forbid me to call thee my mother.

This name wholly consoles me, melts me, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee. This name encourages me to confide in thee. When I am the most terrified at the thought of my sins and of the divine justice, I feel myself comforted by the remembrance that thou art my mother, Permit ms, then, to call thee my mother, my sweetest mother. Thus I call thee, and thus I will ever call thee. Thou, next to God, shalt always be my hope, my refuge, and my love, in this valley of tears. And thus I hope to die, commending my soul, at the last moment, into thy sacred hands, saying: “My mother, my mother Mary, help me, have pity on me.” Amen.

 

ON THE VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY – St. Alphonsus

ON THE VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY.

“He touched his tongue, …. and the string of his tongue was loosed.” MARK vii. 33, 35.

IN this day’s gospel St. Mark relates tlie miracle which our Saviour wrought in healing the man that was dumb by barely touching his tongue. “He touched his tongue and the string of his tongue was loosed.” From the last words we may infer that the man was not entirely dumb, but that his tongue was not free, or that his articulation was not distinct.

Hence St. Mark tells us, that after the miracle he spoke right. Let us make the application to ourselves. The dumb man stood in need of a miracle to loose his tongue, and to take away the impediment under which he laboured. But how many are there on whom God would confer a great grace, if he bound their tongues, that they might cease to speak immodestly! This vice does great injury to others. Secondly, it does great injury to themselves. These shall be the two points of this sermon.

First Point – The man who speaks immodestly does great injury to others who listen to him.

1. In explaining the 140th Psalm, St. Augustine calls those who speak obscenely “the mediators of Satan,” the ministers of Lucifer; because, by their obscene language, the demon of impurity gets access to souls, which by his own suggestions he could not enter. Of their accursed tongues St. James says: “And the tongue is a fire,… being set on fire by hell.” (James iii. 6.) He says that the tongue is a fire kindled by hell, with which they who speak obscenely burn themselves and others.

The obscene tongue may be said to be the tongue of the third person, of which Ecclesiasticus says: ”The tongue of a third person hath disquieted many, and scattered them from nation to nation.” (Eccl. xxviii. 16.) The spiritual tongue speaks of God, the worldly tongue talks of worldly affairs; but tlie tongue of a third person is a tongue of hell, which speaks of the impurities of the flesh; and this is the tongue that perverts many, and brings them to perdition.

2. Speaking of the life of men on this earth, the Royal Prophet says: “Let their way become dark and slippery.” (Ps. xxxiv. 0.) In this life men walk in the midst of darkness and in a slippery way. Hence they are in danger of falling at every step, unless they cautiously examine the road on which they walk, and carefully avoid dangerous steps that is, the occasions of sin.

Now, if in treading this slippery way, frequent efforts were made to throw them down, would it not be a miracle if they did not fall? “The Mediators of Satan,” who speak obscenely, impel others to sin, who, as long as they live on this earth, walk in the midst of darkness, and as long as they remain in the flesh, are in danger of falling into the vice of impurity.

Now, of those who indulge in obscene language, it has been well said: ”Their throat is an open sepulchre.” (Ps. v. 11.) The mouths of those who can utter nothing but filthy obscenities are, according to St. Chrysostom, so many open sepulchres of putrified carcasses. ”Talia sunt ora hominum qui turpia proferunt.” (Hom, ii., de Proph. Obs.) The exhalation which arises from the rottenness of a multitude of dead bodies thrown together into a pit, communicates infection and disease to all who feel the stench.

3. ”The stroke of a whip,” says Ecclesiasticus, “maketh a blue mark; but the stroke of a tongue will break the bones.” (Eccl. xxviii. 21.) The wounds of the lash are wounds of the flesh, but the wounds of the obscene tongue are wounds which infect the bones of those who listen to its language.

St. Bernardino of Sienna relates, that a virgin who led a holy life, at hearing an obscene word from a young man, fell into a bad thought, and afterwards abandoned herself to the vice of impurity to such a degree that, the saint says, if the devil had taken human flesh, he could not have committed so many sins of that kind as she committed.

4. The misfortune is, that the mouths of hell that frequently utter immodest words, regard them, as trifles, and are careless about confessing them: and when rebuked for them they answer: ”I say these words in jest, and without malice.”

In jest! Unhappy man, these jests make the devil laugh, and shall make you weep for eternity in hell. In the first place, it is useless to say that you utter such words without malice; for, when you use such expressions, it is very difficult for you to abstain from acts against purity.

According to St. Jerome, ”He that delights in words is not far from the act. ” Besides, immodest words spoken before persons of a different sex, are always accompanied with sinful complacency. And is not the scandal you give to others criminal? Utter a single obscene word, and you shall bring into sin all who listen to you.

Such is the doctrine of St. Bernard. ”One speaks, and he utters only one word; but he kills the souls of a multitude of hearers.” (Serm. xxiv., in Cant.) A greater sin than if, by one discharge of a blunderbuss, you murdered many persons; because you would then only kill their bodies: but, by speaking obscenely, you have killed their souls.

5. In a word, obscene tongues are the ruin of the world. One of them does more mischief than a hundred devils; because it is the cause of the perdition of many souls. This is not my language; it is the language of the Holy Ghost. ”A slippery mouth worketh ruin.” (Prov. xxvi. 28.) And when is it that this havoc of souls is effected, and that such grievous insults are offered to God? It is in the summer, at the time when God bestows upon you the greatest temporal blessings. It is then that he supplies you for the entire year with corn, wine, oil, and other fruits of the earth. It is then that there are as many sins committed by obscene words, as there are grains of corn or bunches of grapes. O ingratitude! How does God bear with us? And who is the cause of these sins? They who speak immodestly are the cause of them. Hence they must render an account to God, and shall be punished for all the sins committed by those who hear them. “But I will require his blood at thy hand.” (Ezec. iii. 11.) But let us pass to the second point.

Second Point – He who speaks immodestly does great injury to himself.

6. Some young men say: ”I speak without malice.” In answer to this excuse, I have already said, in the first point, that it is very difficult to use immodest language without taking  delight in it; and that speaking obscenely before young females, married or unmarried, is always accompanied with a secret complacency in what is said.

Besides, by using immodest language, you expose yourself to the proximate danger of falling into unchaste actions: for, according to St. Jerome, as we have already said, ”he who delights in words is not far from the act.” All men are inclined to evil. “The imagination and thought of man‟s heart are prone to evil.” (Gen. viii. 21.) But, above all, men are prone to the sin of impurity, to which nature itself inclines them. Hence St. Augustine has said, that in struggling against that vice”the victory is rare,” at least for those who do not use great caution. ”Communis pugna et rara victoria.”

Now, the impure objects of which they speak are always presented to the mind of those who freely utter obscene words. These objects excite pleasure, and bring them into sinful desires and morose delectations, and afterwards into criminal acts. Behold the consequence of the immodest words which young men say they speak without malice.

7. “Be not taken in thy tongue,” says the Holy Ghost. (Eccl. v. 16.) Beware lest by your tongue you forge a chain which will drag you to hell. ”The tongue,” says St. James, ”defileth the whole body, and inflameth the wheel of our nativity.” (St. James iii. 6.)

The tongue is one of the members of the body, but when it utters bad words it infects the whole body, and “inflames the wheels of our nativity ;” it inflames and corrupts our entire life from our birth to old age. Hence we see that men who indulge in obscenity, cannot, even in old age, abstain from immodest language. In the life of St. Valerius, Surius relates that the saint, in travelling, went one day into a house to warm himself. He heard the master of the house and a judge of the district, though both were advanced in years, speaking on obscene subjects.

The saint reproved them severely; but they paid no attention to his rebuke. However, God punished both of them: one became blind, and a sore broke out on the other, which produced deadly spasms. Henry Gragerman relates (in Magn. Spec., dist. 9, ex. 58), that one of those obscene talkers died suddenly and without repentance, and that he was afterwards seen in hell tearing his tongue in pieces; and when it was restored he began again to lacerate it.

8. But how can God have mercy on him who has no pity on the souls of his neighbours?”Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy.” (St. James ii. 13.) Oh! what a pity to see one of those obscene wretches pouring out his filthy expressions before girls and young married females!

The greater the number of such persons present, the more abominable is his language. It often happens that little boys and girls are present, and he has no horror of scandalizing these innocent souls! Cantipratano relates that the son of a certain nobleman in Burgundy was sent to be educated by the monks of Cluni.

He was an angel of purity; but the unhappy boy having one day entered into a carpenter’s shop, heard some obscene words spoken by the carpenter’s wile, fell into sin, and lost the divine grace. Father Sabitano, in his work entitled”Evangelical Light,” relates that another boy, fifteen years old, having heard an immodest word, began to think of it the following night, consented to a bad thought, and died suddenly the same night. His confessor having heard of his death, intended to say Mass for him.

But the soul of the unfortunate boy appeared to him, and told the confessor not to celebrate Mass for him that, by means of the word he had heard, he was damned and that the celebration of Mass would add to his pains. O God! how great, were it in their power to weep, would be the wailing of the angel-guardians of these poor children that are scandalized and brought to hell by the language of obscene tongues!

With what earnestness shall the angels demand vengeance from God against the author of such scandals! That the angels shall cry for vengeance against them, appears from the words of Jesus Christ: ”See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father.” (Matt, xviii. 10.)

9. Be attentive, then, my brethren, and guard your selves against speaking immodestly, more than you would against death. Listen to the advice of the Holy Ghost: ”Make a balance for thy words, and a just bridle for thy mouth; and take heed lest thou slip with thy tongue and thy fall be incurable unto death.” (Eccl. xxvhi. 29, 30.)

”Make a balance” you must weigh your words before you utter them and”a bridle for thy mouth” when immodest words come to the tongue, you must suppress them; otherwise, by uttering them, you shall inflict on your own soul, and on the souls of others, a mortal and incurable wound. God has given you the tongue, not to offend him, but to praise and bless him.

”But, ” says St. Paul, “fornication and all uncleanness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints.” (Ephes. v. 3.) Mark the words”all uncleanness. ” We must not only abstain from obscene language and from every word of double meaning spoken in jest, but also from every improper word unbecoming a saint that is, a Christian. It is necessary to remark, that words of double meaning sometimes do greater evil than open obscenity, because the art with which they are spoken makes a deeper impression on, the mind.

10. Reflect, says St. Augustine, that your mouths are the mouths of Christians, which Jesus Christ has so often entered in the holy communion. Hence, you ought to have a horror of uttering all unchaste words, which are a diabolical poison. ”See, brethren, if it be just that, from the mouths of Christians, which the body of Christ enters, an immodest song, like diabolical poison, should proceed.” (Serm. xv., de Temp.) St. Paul says, that the language of a Christian should be always seasoned with salt. ”Let your speech be always in grace, seasoned with salt. ”(Col. iv. 6.)

Our conversation should be seasoned with words calculated to excite others not to offend, but to love God. ”Happy the tongue,” says St. Bernard, ”that knows only how to speak of holy things!”

Happy the tongue that knows only how to speak of God! brethren, be careful not only to abstain from all obscene language, but to avoid, as you would a plague, those who speak immodestly. When you hear any one begin to utter obscene words, follow the advice of the Holy Ghost: ”Hedge in thy ears with thorns: hear not a wicked tongue.” (Eccl. xxviii. 28.)

“Hedge in thy ears with thorns” that is, reprove with zeal the man who speaks obscenely; at least turn away your face, and show that you hate such language. Let us not be ashamed to appear to be followers of Jesus Christ, unless we wish Jesus Christ to be ashamed to bring us with him into Paradise.