Rev. Fr. Leonard
INSTRUCTION ON THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
The Introit of
the Mass is a fervent prayer; which may be said in every necessity
INTROIT Bow down thine ear, O
Lord; to me, and hear me: save thy servant, O my God, that hopeth in
thee: have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have cried to thee all the
day. Give joy to the soul of thy servant: for to thee, O Lord, I
have lifted up my soul. (Ps. IXXXV.) Glory etc.
COLLECT Let Thy continued pity, O Lord,
cleanse and defend Thy Church: and because without Thee it cannot
abide in safety, govern it ever by Thy gift. Thro'.
EPISTLE (Gal. V. 25, 26.; vi. I-Io.)
Brethren, If we live in the
Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be made desirous
of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren,
and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual,
instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself,
lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so you
shall fulfil the law of Christ. For if any man think himself to be
something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let
every one prove his own work, and so he shall have glory in himself
only, and not in another. For every one shall bear his own burden.
And let him that is instructed in the word, communicate to him that
instructeth him, in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not
mocked: for what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.
For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap
corruption: but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall
reap life everlasting. And in doing good, let us not fail: for in
due time we shall reap, not failing. Therefore, whilst we have time,
let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the
household of the faith.
EXPLANATION This epistle is taken, like
that of the Sunday before last, from the epistle of St. Paul to the
Galatians, in which St. Paul shows them the insufficiency of the
Jewish law, and that they can only be saved by a lively faith in
Christ, but now he admonishes them to the performance of good works.
You now live, he tells them, in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Ghost
animates your heart by His grace, enlightens, confirms, and inflames
you, admonishes and teaches you, impels your heart to do good; you
must, therefore, also regulate your external conduct accordingly,
and in particular devote yourself to the practice of humility and
charity, as the foundations of a truly spiritual life. Humility must
teach and move you to think little of yourself, to avoid vain glory,
and not to confide in your own strength. But charity should impel
you to be meek and compassionate to all, even sinners, to correct
them charitably, and lead them back to the path of virtue; since he
who is harsh to the erring, despises and treats them roughly, is
often permitted by God to fall into the same, nay, even into greater
you must show your charity one for another, that one bears the
burdens of the other: that you bear the faults and imperfections of
others just as patiently as you wish others to bear with your own
imperfections; thus you will fulfil the law of Christ, which
commands us to love our neighbor; you will prevent many sins which
are occasioned by considering yourself perfect, raising yourself
above others, criticising their failings, and causing disturbance.
True glory consists in knowing ourselves, our faults and evil
inclinations, and in eradicating them. Be grateful to those who
instruct you in the word of God, and give to them willingly of your
earthly possessions. What you sow, you shall reap; if you only
follow the dictates of the flesh, do not mortify yourself, do not
correct your failings, and indulge your sinful appetites, you will
one day reap death, destruction and damnation, whereas, on the
contrary, if you follow the dictates of the Holy Ghost, you will
reap of the Spirit of life.
Let us obey
this doctrine, for it is of interest to us, and impress deeply on
our heart that without mortification of body and soul we cannot be
ASPIRATION. O. St. Paul! beg of
God the grace for me, that I may always walk in humility, and the
love of my neighbor, particularly in bearing with his imperfections
and failings, and thus fulfil the law of Christ in this as in all
GOSPEL (Luke VII. 11-16.) At that time, Jesus went into a city
called Naim: and there went with him his disciples, and a great
multitude. And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a
dead man was carried out, the only, son of his mother, and she was a
widow, and a great, multitude of the city was with her. Whom when
the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, said to her:
Weep not. And he came near, and touched the bier. And they that
carried it stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee,
Arise. And he that was dead sat up,. and began to speak. And he
delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on them all; and
they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up amongst us,
and God hath visited his people.
Why did Christ show compassion to this
To convince us
that God takes sorrowful and destitute widows under His protection;
and is to them a consoler and helper; and to teach us to do the
same. Woe, therefore, to those who oppress them and cause them to
weep. The tears and cries of widows will ascend to God, who will
terribly punish the injuries inflicted upon them. (Exod xxii. 22.
still other reasons for compassion, for He saw in this deceased
youth the death of sinners, and in the afflicted mother the pain
which the Church experiences at the spiritual loss of so many of her
children. Should this not also awaken our sympathy since it wad the
principal cause which moved our Saviour to compassion. IŁ we are
faithful children of our mother, the Church, it is impossible for us
not to share her sorrow, and we would surely not be her children, if
we could contemplate without sorrow the multitude who daily die the
death of sin, and thus separated from the living body of Christ,
hasten to eternal destruction. O let us with the Church unceasingly,
ask Jesus, that He raise sinners from their spiritual death,
enlighten those in error so that all recognize the truth, find, and
walk the path Which leads to life !
Why did Christ say to the widow: Weep not?
He wished to
moderate her excessive sorrow, and to teach us that we should not
mourn for the loss of our relatives, like the heathens who have no
hope of resurrection to eternal life. (Thess. iv. I a.) Resignation
to the will ofGod, with prayer and good works, will be of more use
to the dead than many tears.
What else do we learn from this gospel?
That no one,
however young and healthy, will escape death, wherefore we should
always be prepared to die.
INSTRUCTION CONCERNING DEATH
IF there were
locked up in prison several hundred persons, on whom sentence
of death had irrevocably been pronounced, yet who knew not the day
or hour of their execution; if one after the other, and often he who
least expected it, were taken out to be executed; would not each
one's heart tremble, whenever the prison door opened? Now the
irrevocable sentence of death is pronounced on us all; we are all
locked up in our bodies, as in a prison; (Ps. cxiv. 8.) one after
the other is called hence, yet we do not regard it. We live as
though we could live forever; we think only of the body, but for the
soul nothing is done, except that we load it with sins and
rational? The body will be food for worms, but the soul (without
knowing when) will travel into the house of eternity, to which place
she must bring treasures of good works, in order to live happy for
ever. Who would, therefore, be so foolish as to care only for the
body during life, and neglect the salvation of the soul?
O man, says St.
Francis of Sales, (Phil. part. i. chap. 13.) represent to yourself
in lively colors, that at your death the world will cease to exist
with respect to you. In that last hour the pleasures, the vanities,
the riches, the honors, the friendships, and all that was dear to
you, will disappear before your eyes as so many shadows. O fool that
I am! you will then say, for what trifles and fooleries have I lost
all! On the contrary, piety, good works, penance, etc., will appear
pleasant to you, and you will exclaim: O, why did I not travel on
this blessed roadl Then the sins which you now consider as mere
trifles, will seem to you like mountains, and all that you thought
you had accomplished as, great things, with regard to piety, will
seem to you very little.
fear will then seize your soul, when she must travel alone into the
bottomless abyss of eternity which, as St. Bernard says, devours all
possible, imaginable ages, and of which St. Gregory says, that we
can easier say what it is not than what it is. What terrors will
befall her, when she must appear before the tribunal of that God
whom she never really loved and honored in her life-time and before
whom she must now give the strictest account, and hear an
irrevocable and just sentence!
these thoughts make an impression upon you? How can you escape this
terrible future? By living now, as you would wish to have lived at
the hour of death. Die daily with St. Paul by crucifying the flesh
and its lusts and by voluntarily withdrawing your heart from the
world, its pomps and vanities, before death will do this by
RESOLUTION O world! because I
cannot know the hour, in which I must leave you, I will not be
attached to you. O you dear friends and relatives, you, too, I will
in future love only with a holy inclination, directed to God, which
will not cease with death, but remain forever. O Lord!
help me, that I may die totally to myself and the world, and live
only for Thee, and partake of eternal happiness.
INSTRUCTION ON THE CEREMONIES USED AT
Behold, a dead man was carried out, the only son of his
mother, and a great multitude of the city was with her. (Luke vii.
OF these people
who accompanied the funeral of the youth, we should learn to pay the
last honors to the dead, and follow their bodies to the grave. This
is a meritorious work, one pleasing to God, if it be not performed
from vanity and self-interest, but for love of God and the deceased,
with the charitable intention of assisting him by prayers. Therefore
those do very wrong, who from worldly motives either omit this good
work entirely, or during the funeral procession indulge in idle talk
and deny the deceased even a short prayer.
Why is a cross carried before the corpse?
By this is
indicated that the deceased during life professed Christ, died
believing in Him, and hoping for resurrection through
Why are lighted candles carried before the
the desire of the Church that the deceased through the grace of God
may be received into eternal light.This custom is very ancient;
wax-candles and torches, together with prayer and great solemnity
were made use of at the burial of St. Cyprian who was beheaded for
Christ's sake, in the year 258 after Christ. (Ruinart.)
Why are the coffin and the grave sprinkled with holy
In order, as
St. Thomas of Aquin (Lib. iii. art. 21.) remarks, to implore God, on
account of the prayers which the Church says when she blesses the
water, that the souls of the faithful may be cleansed from all
stains, and may receive consolation and refreshment in the tortures
which they may still have to suffer.
Why are the body and the grave incensed?
By this the
Church indicates that the deceased by his Christian vocation was a
good odor of Christ, (ii Cor. ii. 14, 15.) and admonishes the
faithful that their prayers should ascend like incense to heaven for
Why are Psalms and other sacred canticles
This is done to
remind us of the teaching of St. Paul, (i Thess iv. 12.) not
to be excessively sorrowful for the loss of the deceased, like the
heathens who have no hope of eternal life. We also signify, thereby,
that we congratulate the dead for the peace which they now enjoy.
(Apoc. xiv. 13.) This custom, as St. Jerome shows,
(Ep. 53.) is derived from the apostles, who interred St.
Stephen, singing Psalms and hymns of praise.
Why are the bells rung?
To invite the
faithful to the funeral and to pray for the dead who, during
lifetime, was called very often by the same bells, prayed with and
for us during religious worship, and who is not separated from us by
Why art the bodies of the faithful buried with the head
towards the East, and those of the priests towards the
are buried towards the East, whence the sun rises, to indicate, that
they are waiting for Christ who is called the Orient from on High,
(Luke i. 78.) and whose voice they will hear at the end of
the world, when He calls them to the resurrection; the priests
towards the West, as a sign that on the day of judgment they will be
placed opposite to the souls confided to them, to give an account of
their charge and to bear judgment for or against them.
Why is a cross or monument erected aver the
To show that
the deceased was a follower of Christ, the Crucified, to admonish
the passers-by to pray for him, and to remind us of the
solemn moment of death.
Why is the body laid in consecrated ground?
This is done
through reverence for the bodies of the dead which are, by baptism,
temples of the Holy Ghost; to show that, even in death, they still
belong to the communion of that holy Church, in which they were
embodied during life by baptism, and to which they clung in faith
even until death; to inspire the surviving with a holy fear lest
they profane graves.
Why is the solemn funeral service of the Church denied to
would not belong to the Church during life, and despised the holy
customs and prayers of the Church for the dead. How should the
blessing and prayer of the Church be useful in death to one who
despised them during life.
Why does not the Church permit criminals and suicides
to be buried on consecrated ground?
In order to
express her horror for the crimes perpetrated by them, and to deter
the faithful from committing similar actions.