The Church's Year
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
In the Introit
of this day's Mass the Church calls upon all creatures to thank God
for the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.
INTROIT Let all the
earth adore Thee, O God and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy
name (Ps. 65:4). Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing ye a
psalm to His name: give glory to His praise (Ps. 65:1-2). Glory be
to the Father.
COLLECT Almighty and eternal God, Who
disposest all things in heaven and on earth: mercifully hear the
supplications of Thy people, and give Thy peace to our times.
Through our Lord.
EPISTLE (Rom.12:6-16). Brethren: We
have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us:
either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or
ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that
exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that
ruleth with carefulness, he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness.
Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil,
cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of
brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not
slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope:
patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating to the
necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality: bless them that
persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice,
weep with them that weep: being of one mind, one towards another:
not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise
in your own conceits.
St. Paul in this epistle exhorts every Christian to make good
use of the gifts of God; if one receives an office, he must see well
to it, so that he can give an account to God of the faithful
performance of his duties. He exhorts especially to brotherly love
which we should practice by charitable works; such as, receiving
strangers hospitably, giving alms to those who are in need, and to
those who by misfortune or injustice have lost their property; he
commands us, at the same time, to rejoice in the welfare of our
neighbor, as we rejoice at our own good fortune, and to grieve at
his misfortunes as we would over those which befall us.
How is brotherly love best preserved?
By the virtue
of humility which makes us esteem our neighbor above ourselves,
consider his good qualities only, bear patiently his defects, and
always meet him in a friendly, respectful, and indulgent manner.
Humility causes us to live always in peace with our fellowmen, while
among the proud, where each wishes to be the first, there is
continual strife and dissatisfaction (Prov. 13:10).
Those have to
expect a severe sentence from God, who merely for temporal gain,
seek profitable offices, and thrust themselves therein whether
capable or not, and if capable care very little whether they fulfill
the duties required, or perhaps make the fulfillment of them depend
upon bribes. Of such God makes terrible complaint: Thy princes
(judges) are faithless, companions of thieves: they all love bribes,
they run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless; and the
widow's cause comes not into them (Is. 1:23). A most severe judgment
shall be for them that bear rule (Wisd. 6:6).
ASPIRATION Grant us, O Lord, Thy grace,
that according to Thy will, we may follow the instructions of St.
Paul in regard to humility and love, have compassion upon all
suffering and needy, think little of ourselves, and descend to the
lowest, that we may, one day, be elevated with them in
GOSPEL (Jn. 2:1-11). At that time there
was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was
there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the
marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him:
They have no wine. And Jesus with to her: Woman, what is it to me
and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the
waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set
there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the
purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece.
Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled
them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and
carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And
when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not
whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the
chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at
first setteth forth good wine; and when men have well drank, then
that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee: and
manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
Why was Christ and His mother present at this
In order to
honor this humble and God-fearing couple who, with faithful hearts,
had invited Him and His mother to their wedding; to give us an
example of humility; to assist them in their poverty, and save their
good name by changing water into wine; to reveal His dignity as the
Messiah to His disciples by this miracle; and to sanctify by His
presence the marriages that are contracted in the spirit of the
Alas! how few
marriages of our time could Jesus honor with His presence, because
He is invited neither by fervent prayer, nor by the chaste life of
the couple: He is excluded rather, by the frequent immorality of the
married couple and their guests.
Why was Mary interested in this married
Because she is
merciful, and the Mother of Mercy, and willingly assists all the
poor and afflicted who fear God. From this incident, St. Bonaventure
judges of the many graces which we can hope for through Mary, now
that she reigns in heaven; "For," says he, "if Mary while yet on
earth was so compassionate, how much more so is she now, reigning in
heaven!" He gives the reason by adding: "Mary now that she sees the
God, knows our necessities far better than when she was on earth,
and in proportion to the increase of her compassion, her power to
aid us has been augmented." Ah! why do we not take refuge in all our
necessities to this merciful mother, who although unasked assists
Why did Christ say to Mary: Woman, what is it to me and to
harsh reply of Christ was no reproach, for Mary had made her request
only through love and mercy, and Christ calls those blessed who are
merciful, but he wished to show that in the performance of divine
work, the will of His heavenly Father alone should be consulted. He
meant to remind her that He had not received the gift of miracles
from her as the son of woman, but from His eternal Father, in
accordance with whose will He would do that which she asked when the
hour designed by God would come. Though the hour had not come, yet
He granted the wish of His mother, who knew that her divine Son refused none of
her requests, and so she said to the servants: "Whatsoever He shall
say to you, do ye." Behold the great power of Mary's intercession!
Neglect not, therefore, to take refuge in this most powerful
What are we taught by the words: My hour is not yet
teach us that we should in all things await God's appointed time,
and in things belonging to God and His honor, act only by divine
direction, without any human motives.
What does the scarcity of wine signify?
In a spiritual
sense the want of wine may be understood to signify the lack of love between
married people, which is principally the case with those who enter
this state through worldly motives, for the sake of riches, beauty
of person, or who have before marriage kept up sinful intercourse.
These should ask God for the forgiveness of their sins, bear the hardships of
married life in the spirit of penance, and change the wrong motives
they had before marriage; by doing so God will supply the scarcity
of wine, that is the lack of true love, and change the waters of
misery into the wine of patient affection.
Why did Christ command them to take the wine to the
steward, whose office required him to be attentive to the
the guests, and to know the quality of the wine, should give his
judgment in regard to the excellence of this, and be able to testify
to the miracle before all the guests.
ASPIRATION O my most merciful Jesus! I
would rather drink in this world the sour wine of misery than the
sweet wine of pleasure, that in heaven I may taste the perfect wine
of eternal joy.
INSTRUCTION ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF
What is Matrimony?
the perfect, indissoluble union of two free persons of different
sex, for the purpose of propagating the human race, mutually to bear
the burdens of life and to prevent sin (I Cor. 7:2).
Who instituted Matrimony?
the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:27-28). He brought to man the
helpmate, whom He formed from one of the ribs of Adam, that she who
came from his heart, might never depart therefrom, but cling to him
in the indissoluble bond of love (Gen. 2:18, 24). To this original,
divine institution Christ refers (Mt. 19:4-6), and the Church
declares the bond of marriage perpetual and indissoluble.
Is Matrimony a Sacrament?
to the testimony of the Fathers, the Church has held it such from
the times of the apostles, which she could not do, had Christ not
raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament. St. Paul even calls it a
great Sacrament, because it is symbolical of the perpetual union of
Christ with His Church; and the Council of Trent declares: "If any
one says that Matrimony is not really and truly one of the seven
Sacraments of the Church instituted by Christ, but an invention of
men that imparts no grace, let him be anathema" (Conc. Trid., Sess.
XXIV, can. 1).
What graces does this Sacrament impart?
The grace of
preserving matrimonial fidelity inviolate: the grace of educating
children as Christians; of patiently enduring the unavoidable
difficulties of married life, and of living peaceably with each
other. Married people are indeed greatly in need of these graces, in
order to fulfil their mutual obligations.
What is the external sign in the Sacrament of
The union of
two single persons in Matrimony, which according to the regulations
of the Council of Trent (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1), must be
formed publicly in the presence of the pastor, or with his
permission before another priest, and two witnesses.
What preparations are to be made to receive the grace of
1. The first
and best preparation is a pure and pious life. 2. The light of the
Holy Ghost should be invoked to know whether one is called to this
state of life. 3. The parents and the father-confessor should be
asked for advice. 4. The choice should be made in regard to a
Christian heart, and a gentle disposition rather than to beauty and
wealth. 5. The immediate preparation is, to purify the conscience,
if it has not already been done, by a good general confession, and
by the reception of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Before
their marriage the young couple should ask their parents' blessing,
should hear the nuptial Mass with devotion, with the intention of
obtaining God's grace to begin their new state of life well, and
finally they should commend themselves with confidence to the
protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her spouse St.
Why are there so many unhappy marriages?
Because so many
people prepare the way by sins and vices, and continue to sin
without interruption, and without true amendment until marriage,
therefore always make sacrilegious confessions, even perhaps
immediately before marriage. Besides this many enter the married
life on account of carnal intentions, or other earthly motives; in
many cases they do not even ask God for His grace; without any
proper preparation for such an important, sacred act, on their
marriage day they go to church with levity and afterwards celebrate
their wedding with but little modesty. Is it any wonder that such
married people receive no blessing, no grace, when they render
themselves so unworthy?
Why did God institute married life?
might be brought up honestly and as Christians, and that they should
be instructed especially in matters of faith; that married people
should sustain each other in the difficulties of life, and mutually
exhort one another to a pious life; and lastly, that the sin of
impurity might be avoided. For they who in such manner receive
matrimony as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind,
and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which
have not understanding, over them the devil hath power (Too.
'With what intentions should the married state be
intentions as the young Tobias and his bride had, who before the
marriage ceremony, ardently prayed God for His grace, and took their
wedding breakfast in the fear of the Lord (Too. 14:15). Hence God's
blessing was with them until death. If all young people would enter
the married state thus, it would certainly be holy, God-pleasing and blessed,
and the words of St. Paul, spoken to wives, would come true unto
them: Yet she shall be saved by bearing children, if she continue in
faith, and love, and sanctification with sobriety (I Tim.
Why are the bans of marriage published three times in
impediments which would render the marriage unlawful may be made
known. Such impediments are: consanguinity, clandestine marriages,
etc. Therefore, any one who is aware of such impediments, is bound
to make them known to the pastor.
Why is the marriage performed in the presence of the
Catholic Church expressly declares that those marriages which are
not performed in presence of the pastor, or with his permission
before another priest, and two witnesses, are null and void (Conc.
Trid., Sess. XXIV can. 1)1;
and because the blessing of the priest, which he imparts in the name
of the Church, gives the couple, if they are in a state of grace,
strength, fortitude and grace to be faithful to each other, to
endure all trials patiently, and to be safe from all the influences
of the evil enemy."
Why do they join hands before the priest, and two
By this they
bind themselves before God and His Church to remain true to each
other, and to be ready to assist each other in all adversities. The
bridegroom puts a ring on the bride's finger which should remind her
of her duty of inviolable fidelity; to this end the priest signs and
seals this holy union with the unbloody Sacrifice of the New
Can the bond of marriage be dissolved in the Catholic
marriage, contracted with the free consent of each of the parties,
can according to the plain doctrine of the Scriptures, the constant
teaching and practice of the Church, be dissolved only by the death
of one of the parties. If the pope or a bishop, for important
reasons, gives a divorce, this is only partial, and neither can
marry again while the other lives. Such a marriage would not be
valid. How pure and holy are the doctrine and practice of the
Catholic Church in this the most important and sacred of all human
relations, preserving its inviolability and sanctity; while, on the
contrary, by means of the wanton doctrine of the heretics, which for
trivial reasons entirely dissolves the marriage contract, this
sacred union is made the deepest ignominy of mankind, and the
play-ball of human passions and caprice!
What is thought of mixed marriages, or marriages between
Catholics and Protestants?
Church has always condemned such marriages, because of the great
dangers to which the Catholic party is unavoidably exposed as well
as the offspring. Such marriages promote indifference in matters of
religion, by which the spiritual life of the soul is destroyed; they
are a hindrance to domestic peace, cause mutual aversion, quarrels,
and confusion; they give scandal to servants; they interfere with
the Christian education of the children, even render it impossible,
and they frequently lead to apostasy and despair. But the Catholic
Church condemns especially those mixed marriages, in which either
all or a number of the children are brought up in heresy, and she
can never bless and look upon those as her children who do not fear
to withdraw themselves and their own children from the only saving
faith, and expose them to the danger of eternal ruin. Therefore,
those Catholics who enter the matrimonial union with Protestants,
although the marriage if lawfully contracted is valid, commit a
mortal sin if they permit their children to be brought up in heresy,
and should it not be their full intention to bring up their children
in the Catholic faith at the time of their marriage, they would
commit a sacrilege.
What should the newly married couple do immediately after
the ceremony is performed?
kneel and thank God for the graces received in this holy Sacrament,
in such or similar words: "Ratify, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that
which by Thy grace Thou hast wrought in us, that we may keep that
which in Thy presence we have promised unto the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ." That they may keep their promise made at the altar,
they should always remember the duties laid down to them by the
priest at the time of their marriage, and the exhortations which are
taken from the epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:29, 31),
wherein he instructs married people how they should comport
themselves towards each other, and recalls to them as an example the
union of Christ with His Church, and His love for her. To the
husbands he says, they should love their wives as Christ loved His
Church, for which He even gave Himself up to death; from this is
seen, that men should assist their wives even unto death, in all
need, and not treat them as servants. To the wives St. Paul says,
that they as the weaker should be in all reasonable things obedient
to their husbands, as the Church is obedient to Christ; for as
Christ is the head of the Church, so is the husband the head of the
wife. Experience proves there is no better way for women to win the
hearts of their husbands than by amiable obedience and ready love,
while, on the contrary, a querulous, imperative deportment robs them
of their husbands' affections, and even causes them to be regarded
with aversion. St. Paul says further; that husbands should love
their wives (and consequently wives their husbands) as their own
bodies, because married people are, as it were, one. They shall be
two in one flesh; no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth
and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church (Eph. 5:29, 31).
How unjustly and barbarously do those act, who, instead of loving
one another, rather hate and outrage each other, and cause the loss
of their property, and by detraction steal their honor! These do not
consider that he who hates and disgraces his partner in life, hates
and disgraces himself; while according to the words of St. Paul he
who loves her, loves himself. If married people would remain in
constant love and unity, it is most necessary that they should
patiently bear with each other's infirmities, wrongs, and defects,
exhort one another with mildness and affection, keep their
adversities, trials, and sufferings as much as possible to
themselves, and complain in prayer only to God, who alone can aid
them. By impatience, quarrels, and complaints the cross becomes only
heavier and the evil worse. Finally, not only on their wedding day,
but often through life, they should earnestly consider that they
have not entered the married state that they may inordinately serve
the pleasures of the body, but to have children who will one day
inhabit heaven according to the will of God; as the angel said to
Tobias: "For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut
out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves
to their lust as the horse and mule, which have not understanding,
over them the devil hath power" (Tob. 6:17).
PRAYER Most merciful Jesus! who didst
work Thy first miracle at the wedding in Cana by changing water into
wine, thereby revealing Thy divine power and majesty, and honoring
matrimony: grant we beseech Thee, that Thy faithful may ever keep
sacred and inviolate the holy sacrament of Matrimony, and that they
may so live in it truthfully, in the fear of the Lord, that they may
not put an obstacle in the way of obtaining heaven for themselves,
and their children.
In all such dioceses of the United States, where the Council of
Trent has not been published, civil marriages are considered valid.
The Catholic, however, who becomes married by civil authority
commits a mortal sin, except in case of extreme necessity. To be
married by a sectarian preacher is looked upon as a denial of faith,
and incurs excommunication.