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Offline Binechi

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First Sunday After Easter
« on: April 23, 2017, 05:14:00 AM »
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  • Low Sunday (First Sunday After Easter)
    by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

     "Peace be to you!"--John 20.

    Peace be to you!" With these: words Jesus greeted His disciples when, entering through closed doors, He suddenly stood in their midst. The circumstance that the doors were locked is an evidence of the fear and sorrow which filled their hearts. They were tossed by the storm of persecution which had broken upon them, and deprived them of the presence of the Lord.

    What confidence, therefore, must have filled their hearts, when the Lord stood once more alive in their midst, and brought with Him the peace they had lost. No doubt, each one of us wishes, that he too had been with the Apostles, and heard from the mouth of Jesus that greeting of peace.

    But why should we envy them? Behind the closed doors of the tabernacle, in every place where the Holy Eucharist is kept, our Lord and Saviour is to be found. And every soul that approaches Him with love and faith hears that same greeting: "Pax vobis! Happy are we, if we listen to it and treasure it up in our hearts!

    The peace which Christ wishes us--which He gives us--is true, complete, holy, and imparts sanctity and beauty to our souls. Let us consider it to-day, and endeavor to receive it in all its fullness. It will be our most precious Easter-gift.

    Mary, Mother of fair love and holy peace, pray for us that the peace of God may strengthen our hearts as it strengthened thine! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

    I say that the peace which Christ wishes us and which He imparts to us, is true peace; it is that peace which He alone is able to bestow. "My peace I give unto you! " says the Lord; "not as the world giveth, do I give unto you." No, it is a peace of which the world has no idea; it is a peace which the world can never bestow. It is that peace which we lost by the fall of our first parents, and which could not be restored to us but by the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Saviour.

    Man, as he came from the hands of the Creator, was endowed with sanctifying grace, was at peace with God, at peace with himself, at peace with the whole outer world; but sin destroyed all this, and instead of peace came war, and instead of spiritual life came spiritual death. By sin man was set at variance with God, with himself, and with the outer world. As Holy Writ assures us: "There is no peace for the wicked," at least no peace of soul. Though a man be on good terms with his fellow-men, yet as long as he lives in a state of sin he will enjoy no peace; for sin is a revolt against God, and every revolt brings with it trouble, anxiety, and war. Without Christ there is no true peace; no peace with God, the only peace which is worthy of the name, and which alone is able to calm our agitated hearts.

    Listen to the warning of the prophet: "They cry: Peace, peace! and there is no peace." There is no communion between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial. There is no place where the banner of Christ and that of antichrist wave together, nor where men desire to serve God and the devil at the same time.

    Moreover, the peace which man enjoys with the world is not complete. But the peace, which Christ gives unto his own, is perfect. We shall understand this, if we regard one by one the results of the first sin and of all individual sin, and the relation in which soul and body stand to God. By his very nature man has a soul, reason, will, and heart. He thinks, he wills, he suffers or enjoys. Now, the fall ot Adam darkened the understanding of man, weakened his will, made his heart suffer; and but one can free him from the anxiety which all this causes: one alone, Christ Jesus our Lord.

    I have said that understanding, and will, and heart, each has suffered: man's understanding is beset with doubts in regard to his existence and to his relations to God; his will is weakened, and he frequently feels its moral feebleness and impotence. But, above all, it is the heart of man which is exposed to the stripes of adversity and to the stings of suffering; nor can it anywhere find comfort but in Christ but in Him Whom Holy Writ emphatically styles: "The Prince of peace!"

    Before Him, before His Word and example, every cloud of anxiety vanishes, and perfect peace makes its dwelling in the soul.

    I have already said that when the soul is left to itself it is disquieted in regard to its relations with God and concerning its fate for eternity; it is darkened by ignorance and beset with doubts. "Pax vobis!" "Peace be to you!" says Christ to all men. It is He who spoke through Moses and the prophets; it is He who came Himself into the world, and opening His mouth preached to us the Word of salvation, explaining all those questions and doubts in regard to the other world, which excite, frighten, and harass the mind of man.

    He calls himself the Light of the world; and as the sun sends forth his rays, so Christ sent forth His Apostles, that by the light of their teaching day might break for all the nations upon earth; that all might open their hearts to the sweet influence of truth. And great, indeed, is the peace which is instilled into believing hearts with the word of faith spoken by the mouth of the infallible Church; it is felt by all her truly believing children.

    The will of man also is enfeebled by the fall of Adam; hence he feels his weakness, his impotence in the light with temptation. Hence the anxiety which excites and torments him. How differently man feels when Christ greets him and calls to him "Pax vobis" Peace be to you! When the power of divine grace enters his heart, and he can say with St. Paul: "I can do all things in Him who strengthened me." A calm conscience comforts his heart, from which all anxiety has lied; yes, all that anxiety which, the consequence of his sins, had for years tormented him.

    After the fall of Adam the heart of man felt the burden of suffering and the insufficiency of every merely human consolation. How often a friend can only say: I can weep with you, but I can not console you! How differently a child of the Church feels when Christ who has Himself suffered upon earth calls to Him from the cross: "Pax vobis!" and when he recollects that the Lord Himself said to His disciples: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so enter into His Glory." How inexpressibly great was the consolation which fell from the five wounds into the hearts of the disciples when Jesus suddenly appearing among them, gave them that Easter greeting: " Pax vobis!" All truly believing children of the Church partake of this consolation in the midst of all the cares and sorrows of this life. For whatever we may suffer, one glance at Christ risen from the dead and marked with His wounds will cause us to cry out with St. Paul: "I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation."

    But far more grievous does the anxiety of man's heart become, if he has the misfortune to turn from the path of virtue, to precipitate himself into the abyss of sin, and if he is tormented day and night by the reproaches of his conscience. No one but Jesus can give him calmness and peace. He alone redeemed us, sinners! He alone gave His Apostles and their followers the power to forgive the repentant! a power which Christ bestowed upon His Church until the end of time, and of which we are solemnly reminded by the words of the Apostolic creed: "I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins."

    Into the breast of the greatest sinner there enters an inexpressible peace, if he receives the Sacrament of Penance as Christ has instituted it in His holy Church. Ah! what joy when the priest, the representative of Christ, says to his troubled soul: "My son, my daughter, your sins are forgiven!" Pax tibi! Peace be with you! Oh, the happy peace which then through Christ enters the heart reconciled to its God!

    Finally, the heart of man is frequently pained by the fear: Shall I continue to the end? and what will become of me if Satan, in my last hour, should beset me with temptation, and place all the sins of my life before my eyes in order to drive me to despair? "Pax tibi," says our Lord to the loving child of His Church. I shall complete in you my work of mercy. Trust!

    Never can your own heart desire your salvation so ardently as I desire it: Peace be to you! Nor must we forget the consoling inspirations which Christ sends to all who bow, in suffering, to His holy will, and unite themselves to Him. Yes, yes, "Pax vobis!" I call in the name of the risen Christ to every soul here present.

     "Pax vobis" the peace of Christ be and remain with you now, and for evermore! Amen!


    "Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed."--John 20.

    In today's Gospel Christ says to Thomas: "Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed," whilst at another time we find Him saying: "Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see." What is the explanation of this seeming contradiction? Were not the eyes of Mary and of Joseph blessed? were not the eyes of all who beheld our Saviour in the flesh blessed? Yes, but only in so far as they believed in Him and regarded Him with eyes of faith, listening to His divine lessons, and imitating His holy example. For does He not say again: "Blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it in their hearts?" Of what avail was it to the Scribes and Pharisees to see and hear our Lord, since they hardened their hearts against Him? Of them and such as them He said: "If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin."

    If, then, the words: "Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed," are to be realized in us, our lives must agree with our faith. I shall today endeavor to answer the question:

    In what relation does faith stand to our spiritual life? O Mary, thou who didst see and believe, but didst live according to this belief far exceeding any saint or angel, pray for us that we may bear witness by our lives to the faith we profess! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

     "The just man," says St. Paul, "lives by faith." To know whether this text applies to us, we have but to look at the chief properties of life, and we shall be able at a glance to see how far faith influences our daily conduct, how far it is a vital force within us. A living man breathes. This breathing is an emblem, a figure of the influence of sanctifying grace, that vivifies our souls, enabling them to perform works meritorious in the sight ot God. As St. Paul assures us, we could not of ourselves pronounce the name of Jesus in a meritorious manner. To do so the assistance of divine grace is needed, of sanctifying and of actual grace, the latter coming to our aid as soon as we have reached the years of discretion. This action of grace in the soul is the breathing and pulsation of the spiritual life.

    He who lives, sees. He sees the bodies by which he is surrounded, he knows that they exist, he can distinguish their various qualities, and judge how far he can use them towards any aim or object he has in view. Now, faith does the same for our souls. The mind of the unbeliever is obscure, he does not know why God created him, why the universe was called into existence. The believer, on the contrary, sees the whole universe like an open book illumined by the light of faith; he sees himself created by God, for God, destined, after serving his Creator during this short life, and using all things of earth for that sole aim, in a future life to be made a partaker of the infinite enjoyments and the infinite glory of God Himself. The lives of the saints teach us what strength and zeal the knowledge of this sublime destiny can impart.

    He who lives, hears. A lively faith gives sensitive ears to the soul. The teachings, the promises, the menaces of Holy Writ are listened to readily by the man of faith. Countless whisperings of the Holy Spirit are caught by his attentive ear, and so he is at once informed of his duties towards God and animated to fulfill them. What does the infidel know of whisperings of the Holy Ghost? Deafened by the noise of the material world, his spiritual senses are clogged and he remains unconscious of the voice that is ever warning men to follow Jesus and to serve their God. The promises and menaces of revelation are alike void of effect when they reach only the ear of the body and are not heard by the soul. Different, indeed, is the state of him who is animated by a lively faith. How quickly he hears the inspiration from on high! In the hours of temptation, how cheering the promise of eternal happiness, how terribly plain the menaces of eternal woe!

    He who lives speaks, enjoys, grows. Faith gives to the spiritual life speech, pleasure, development. "I have believed, therefore have I spoken," confessed David, and with him all who have living faith. St. Bernard says: " Nothing pleases me, nothing interests me to which the name of Jesus is not united."

    Why do we possess the gilt of speech? why has God given us this power of communicating our thoughts to our fellow-men, if not that we may use this gift to draw men to Him by persuasion? When the Holy Ghost appeared on Pentecost in the shape of tongues of fire, it was not upon the heads of the Apostles only that he rested, but upon the heads of laymen and women too, thus to signify that all Christians should be inflamed with the desire of helping by word and work to spread the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth. To be able to do this all must be well grounded in the doctrines of our holy faith. Let this be an admonition to Catholics of their duty (a duty which is incumbent upon all, especially in our day) to read good books and pay careful attention to sermons, that being thus well acquainted with the foundations of their faith they may help both to defend it against its enemies and to enlighten their countrymen who wander in the darkness of unbelief.

    Let us see now how faith gives rise to enjoyment, growth, development in the spiritual life of the soul. Is it not faith that enables us to participate worthily in the sacraments? What but faith leads us to the sacred tribunal of Penance, and to the holy table where Jesus Himself is our food? The more a man's soul is enlightened by faith, the more does he realize the weaknesses, the imperfections, the miseries of his poor nature; and consequently the more comprehensive and frank is his confession, the more ready his disposition to do penance, the more steadfast his purpose of amendment. How much greater, then, must be the grace of this sacrament in such a man than in one whose belief is neither lively nor earnest? What shall I say, then, of the effects of this virtue on the soul that humbly approaches Holy Communion? The heart filled with lively faith can not but be aroused and inflamed at the thought of Who it is that thus deigns to come to us. Faith makes us feel and realize fully the personal presence of Christ within us, and thus binds us anew to His holy Church by kindling in us the desire of living as true children of so loving a Master! and finds expression in the deep prayer of adoration that fell from the lips of St. Thomas: "My Lord and my God!"

    Blessed indeed are those who see not, but who believe, and live according to their faith! Amen!


    The Cause of Discord in the World
    by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

     "Peace be to you."--(John 20: 19.)

    Today, Jesus Christ appears before us as the Prince of Peace. He comes suddenly into the midst of His disciples, and says to them: "Peace be to you." In numerous prophecies, He had been promised to mankind as the Prince of Peace. The world had long lost its highest good--peace--and it sighed and longed for the treasure it had forfeited by sin. No one save the God-given Messias could restore it. (Is. 9: 6; Is. 53: 5; Luke 1: 39; 2:14.) All that the world promised itself from its Redeemer, all that it hoped for and expected from him, was expressed in the single phrase: "He shall bring peace." And he has really brought peace; for, "coming, He preached peace to you, who were afar off, and peace to them that were near at hand." (Ephes. 2: 17, 18). "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world giveth do I give to you." (John 14: 27).

    This divine peace which Jesus Christ left in His holy Church, must, therefore, be the blessed portion of all her children, of every Christian, of every citizen of this holy realm of peace. But are we really children of peace? Is not the world filled with a universal discord which penetrates even to the inmost recesses of our hearts. Our homes are often the abodes of strife. Husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, masters and servants--all, in turn, destroy the peace of households by their quarrels and dissensions. Why all this civil, social, and domestic discord, my brethren? What are the causes of this universal dissonance? They are chiefly three:

    I. Sin and its consequences;
     II. The inordinate desires of the human heart; and
     III. The unruly passions of men.

    I. What is peace, that heavenly good which the heart of man ardently craves, and without which, he possesses no true happiness? It seems hard to answer this question briefly and clearly. Human speech is limited, and the ethereal essence of peace is difficult to define in mere abstract words. Perhaps, peace of heart is enjoyed when all wants are satisfied, all desires gratified, all fears quieted. Peace might be defined as contentment of heart, repose of soul. The peaceful spirit is like a placid lake whose mirror-like surface is never stirred by the smallest ripple.

     1. Plainly, such perfect peace of heart and soul can never be found or enjoyed here upon earth. God, alone, bears within Himself the fullness of all life and happiness; and nothing is able to rob Him of it or diminish its plenitude. On the other hand, here below, all is defective and incomplete. Only partially, can we hope to possess peace in this world. Beyond the grave, if we are so happy as to be admitted to that realm where God "shall wipe away all tears from the eyes; and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more," (Apoc. 21: 4)--then, and only then, shall perfect peace be our portion.

     2. The measure of our peace in this life depends wholly upon the degree of our union with God, the fountain of all peace. The more closely we are united to Him, the fewer obstacles we offer to His grace, the more powerfully and abundantly will peace dwell in us and bless us. Therefore, the very idea of peace teaches us that sin is the first source of discord, inasmuch as it separates us from God, the fountain and origin of peace. "There is no peace to the wicked." (Is. 48: 22.) "Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace?" (Job 9: 4.) The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest, and the waves thereof cast up dirt and mire." (Is. 57 : 20.) "Much peace have they that love thy law." (Ps. 118: 165.) The just are like the stars which revolve around their sun in order, peace and regularity; the wicked resemble the wandering meteors which, without a fixed center, sweep the heavens with a wild irregularity, until they fall to the earth, and are dashed to atoms.

     3. Does not the experience of the great world as well as our own, show that sin is the first cause of all disorder and discord? In the beginning, peace prevailed all over the universe. All nature served God in blissful harmony. No breath of discord disturbed its order. In happiness, man walked with God in the garden of joy and delights. The words pain, care and sorrow, were strangers to the human lips, and aliens to the human heart. In peace and happiness, all nature obeyed man, who was appointed by God to be its king. Are not the wonderful order and conformity to law (which although no longer so perfect) still prevail in the world and rejoice our heart--an image and remnant of that universal peace which once filled heaven and earth? The eternal peace which forever flows in streams of everlasting bliss from the Blessed Trinity, had its reflection, here below, in the visible realm of creation up to the hour that sin entered the world. Alas! then was produced a dire confusion in the primal order, destroying the holy peace of God which had formerly prevailed. Man through his disobedience, lost his centre in God; he was given over to the passions of his heart, and even introduced discord into visible nature whose king he should be. Irrational creatures, since Adam's fall, attack, and make war one upon another; wherefore, St. Paul says: "The expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God;" and, "Every creature groaneth, and is in labor even till now," (Rom. 8: 19-22) in their yearning after the peace of God.

    Does not our own experience tell us that with sin, discord arises in our interior? So long as the heart of a man is innocent and knows not sin, peace and happiness dwell therein. But as soon as sin enters the soul, peace and joy are at an end.

     4. How could it be otherwise? The sinner is pursued by the reproaches of his conscience. The evil which he has committed begets that gnawing worm which never dies, and which unceasingly torments him. He is stricken from the number of the friends of God, and his name is blotted out from the book of life. He is a reprobate before heaven and the divine chastisements are ready to fall upon him. "Who has resisted Him, and hath had peace." The Book of Wisdom graphically describes the condition of a sinful soul pursued and tormented by the just vengeance of God. It shows how the Lord might, if He so willed, pursue and punish the sinner with bears and lions and newly-created and ravenous beasts. "Yea, and without these, they might have been slain with one blast, persecuted by their own deeds." (Wisd. 11: 21.) Like a devastating storm, remorse of conscience rages in the soul of the sinner. He sinks down into doubt and ignorance. Truth as well as innocence flies from his interior, and untruth and unbelief cast their dark shadows over him. He trembles at every step. Consternation and despair seize him at the bare thought of death. One sin drives him to another. His soul resembles in its condition that of the world before the advent of its Redeemer, when the night of paganism with all its nameless misery lay upon it."

    Christ is the Prince of Peace. In Him alone, is to be found true peace of heart. By His grace, He has annihilated the destructive consquences of sin, and has reunited us to God, the source of our peace. He has become our peace, because by His holy teachings He has removed from us the night of darkness and ignorance, and has made the sun of truth to shine upon, and enlighten us. He has become our peace, because by His grace, and particularly by His holy Sacraments, He grants us the pardon of our sins, and frees us from the anguish and the reproaches of conscience, together with the wrath and chastisements of God. The streams of peace flow forth from Him and from His holy Church, which is for us, indeed, the golden city of peace.

     II. Sin is the deep source, the only true cause, of discord but apart from sins of action, there are the inordinate lusts and desires of the human heart, which rob man of the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     1. Our corrupt nature is an abyss of desires. Every apparent good awakens in the heart of man a keen desire, a burning thirst, to possess it. The desires of a soul in the grace of God, are all kept in check by the firm and powerful curb of the divine will: and are, therefore, unable to disturb its interior peace. But, as soon as the soul has cast off the yoke of Christ by wilful sin, its unchecked desires precipitate it into an abyss of confusion, and all kinds of disorder. As soon as man consents to sin, the most violent war rages in the soul. Opposing forces rush against each other, and the heart of the sinner is like a battle-field, trampled and torn up by the fury of combat. How could peace dwell in such an interior?" The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest, and the waves thereof cast up dirt and mire." (Is. 57: 20.) The desires and passions of the sinner, like the mighty waves of a tempestuous sea, rise against each other in fierce battle; and fresh impurities and filthy imaginations are constantly cast up from the black depths of the heart.

     2. Let us consider in detail these sinful desires of the heart, in order to understand how they rob us of peace. Man being composed of body and soul finds himself swayed alternately by opposing desires and inclinations: those of the spirit which draw us up to heaven, and those of the flesh which draw us down to hell. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the spirit against the flesh." (Gal. 5: 17.) So long as the flesh is under the dominion of the spirit, and the low desires of sensuality are subject to the higher law of God, man will possess peace; but with sin, disorder and strife enter into the soul. The inmost being of man is torn asunder; and discord, torment, and unrest overpower him. The more noble a man's heart, the more he Seeks with all his might to serve God, so much the more will this continual warfare in his interior pain and oppress him. He will sigh and struggle for the peace of his soul. He will exclaim with St. Paul: "I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am: who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7: 23, 24)

     3. Behold, what discord and vehement emotion, a violent passion creates! Penetrate into the soul of the proud man, and remark the strange conflicts which toss it to and fro, the racking tortures wherewith it is tormented! He views with dissatisfaction, envy, and suspicion the gifts and goods of his neighbor. Tormented by a continual jealousy, he sees in every man, a rival and an enemy. He is unhappy if his passion is not flattered and gratified. No honor or distinction is high or great enough for him. He is always urged on anew by fresh desires, like that ancient king of whom we read that, having conquered and subjugated all the known nations of the earth, he wept, in the pride of his heart, upon hearing that men dwelt in the stars, over whom he could not rule.

     4. Scarcely less are the torments caused by avarice in its victims. The greed for earthly goods, gnaws unceasingly at the heart of man, and gives him no peace either by day or night. Sadness seizes him, when his business projects are unsuccessful, or his miserly desires ungratified. Despair and anguish overcome him when he is threatened by a loss. The covetous king, Achab, "cast himself upon his bed, turned away his face to the wall and would not eat bread," (3 Kings 21: 4), because he could not possess himself of the vineyard of his neighbor.

     5. Like storms disturb the soul of the revengeful man and the voluptuary; for every sinful desire has trouble for its partner. What wonder, then, that peace is so often wanting to us! Look into your own hearts, my brethren, and you will acknowledge that every time discord reigns therein, it is because of the fury of some evil passion or sinful desire. The less our passions have power over us, the more our sinful desires are kept in subjection.

     III. If once the mighty billows of evil and sin have arisen within us, they will not be content to rage within our own hearts, but will destructively invade the great life of the world, throwing it in its turn into confusion and disorder. When a soul has stepped out of its right relations to its God, it will carry the evil consequences of its sin to all about it, spreading discontent and disorder on every side. For this reason, the life of the world, in its passions and strifes, is the third source of discord for our souls.

     1. The world ever hinders and opposes the best efforts and intentions of our hearts. It breeds discontent, if possible, with our state of life, our vocation, our external relations with one another. But, it is more particularly the passions of the men who surround us which disturb the great life of the world, and react, in turn, upon our own peace of mind and heart. The root of sin, it is true, is buried in our own hearts, but as it grows, it spreads forth its mighty branches, sending out its poisonous blossoms and deadly fruit in every direction. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies." (Matt. 15: 19.)

     2. Detractions and calumnies, lies and all evil speeches are begotten of the evil passions of men, and are the keen-edged weapons wherewith they persecute one another. The hatred of our neighbor is the fruitful mother of innumerable sins against charity. When nation rises against nation in bloody battle, when the torch of war enkindles the land, and unspeakable woe is spread abroad, may not all the anguish and destruction be traced to the disputes of powerful rulers? Streams of human blood have drenched the earth again and again, shed in unjust warfare. Was there ever a just war in its first cause? Was it not always passion which sowed the first seeds of discord? Was it not passion that fired the brand and fanned the flame until it grew into a world-consuming fire? The passions of the human heart have separated families, placed nations and states in opposition to one another, and desolated whole countries.

     3. What has always caused the conflict between truth and falsehood, between the kingdom of darkness and that of light? The passions of men and their unholy desires, which violently oppose the truth and seek to destroy it. Human passions originated all the heresies and schisms that have ever desolated Christendom; and enkindled all the persecutions of the Church during the eighteen centuries of her existence, just as the passions of the Jews condemned the Redeemer, and nailed him to the cross. The unruly passions of men, in our days, have aroused the violent war of infidelity against the Church of the living God; and, like devouring monsters, would fain have destroyed the life of the whole world with their poisonous breath. Nothing is sacred to them, and nothing earthly is mighty enough to place a barrier to their power. They utterly subvert the peace of the human soul, handing it over to a tormenting unrest; and, undermining the whole social order, like a destructive torrent, carry devastation and death everywhere in their track.

     4. Here, again, Christ appears as the Prince of Peace. By word and example, He calls upon us to live in peace with all men; rather to suffer injury than inflict injury: never to repay evil with evil. "Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you; pray for them that persecute and calumniate you; that you may be the children of your Father, who is in heaven." (Matt. 5 : 44.) Gentleness, meekness, humility, and love were the sole answers of the Lord to all the insults of His enemies. He expired praying for his murderers. We must imbibe this spirit of peace; and then, no earthly passion will be able to disturb the repose of our souls. It will teach us to conquer evil, to correct every weakness and failing of our lives; to bear with patience the frailties of others, and to forgive injuries and offenses.

     5. It is undoubtedly true that Christian peace is incompatible with sin. Yet it does not require that we should pervert right into wrong, good into evil, or consider the sinful and ungodly spirit of the world good and holy. Neither does it require of us that we should allow ourselves to be robbed of our rights without contradiction or opposition; but, if it contends for them, it contends for them (as its name implies), without passion or hatred against the offender. The Christian may seize the sword in order to attack evil and wickedness, and defend principles of truth and justice, but he is always full of love for the erring, and ever ready to be reconciled with his enemies. He even beholds in his greatest enemy simply an erring brother whom he seeks to win back to the right by love and gentleness. The Angel of peace ever requires a sacrifice; but divine charity will inspire and animate us willingly and gladly to make those sacrifices by which peace and reconciliation may be effected. Jesus Christ, by His death upon the cross, has become our peace, and His grand sacrifice must oblige us to imitate His spirit, to anticipate our enemy and adversary, and endeavor to outdo him in kindness. Hence, our Saviour says of this spirit of peace which should govern us, "To him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, hinder not to take thy coat also." (Luke 6 : 29.)

    The fountain of perpetual peace for us flows only in Christ and His holy Church. Neither civil nor martial law can establish and preserve it upon earth, if the spirit of Jesus Christ be not living in, and controlling, the hearts of men. Let us banish sin from our souls; let us habitually and firmly restrain the violence of our passions, and the peace of Jesus Christ will not only possess our individual souls, but, like the waves of the ocean, will inundate the world. Diffusing therein a peace which will solve all the problems of the ages, it will lead us, at last, if faithful to the will and inspirations of our Master, the Prince of Peace, to the enjoyment of the eternal peace of heaven. Amen.

    Offline Binechi

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    Re: First Sunday After Easter
    « Reply #1 on: April 23, 2017, 05:25:00 AM »
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  • First Sunday After Easter (Low Sunday):
    The Visit of Our Lord to His Disciples and the Unbelieving Thomas

     by Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900

    Gospel. John xx. 19 - 31. At that time, when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands, and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

     Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within: and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless but believing. Thomas answered and said to him: My Lord, and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God: and that believing you may have life in his name.

    The Visit of Our Lord to His Disciples--The Unbelieveing Thomas

    The Apostles were gathered in an upper room, away from interference, for fear of the Jews; there they discussed the events of the last days in the life of their Master, and the appearance He deigned to make to Mary Magdalene. In the evening while they were at supper, Our Lord appeared in the flesh, though the doors were securely locked. The place shone brightly with His presence, and in a reassuring tone He said to them, "Peace be with you," and showed them the wounds of His hands and feet. The disciples were happy, and again He said to them, " Peace be with you."

    My dear young people, you all love peace and are looking for it. Where is it likely to be found? You look for it in most unlikely places; you find strife, deception, and sorrow. Sometimes you look for peace in the enjoyment of pleasures, in the diversions of the world; you deck yourselves with roses; you say, "Let not this opportune time pass by; let us crown ourselves with roses before they fade." But you find no peace; there is always a great vacuum which cannot be filled. The pleasures you have enjoyed have passed too quickly; they have often left a bitter remembrance, and the riches of the world give no contentment.

    Consider the great and wise Solomon, king of the Jews; according to his own admission, he sought and enjoyed every pleasure; he had a grand throne, great riches, his table was laden with costly food, and he had innumerable servants. There was no kingdom equal to his in splendor and wealth. Of all men Solomon should have been the happiest—and yet he was not happy; the more he possessed, the more he was disgusted with the insignificance of these things; he saw in it nothing but vanity and affliction of spirit. Why was Solomon obliged to confess, that amid all his riches, his honors, and his power, he met with no satisfaction, no peace, but felt disappointed? It was this: our hearts are made for God and to enjoy the pleasures of heaven; for that reason the enjoyments of this world can never satisfy us, or give us peace.

    My dear young people, try to realize this in the beginning of your days. The things of this world look very attractive and promising in our youth, but years will open our eyes to the true state of things. Be not deceived, but begin by giving everything its proper value; love God alone, and that will give you peace, contentment, and happiness.

    It is certainly a lamentable fact that sin becomes the great source of enjoyment to many of our young people. So blind and wayward are they, that although they know that sin begets nothing but misery and disgust, they still live on in that sad state. They eat the bread of iniquity and drink the wine of sin. Stronger and stronger grows the fierce fever of passion the more it is indulged, until it can be compared to nothing but a tempestuous, angry sea, threatening with destruction everything that is found in its way.

    Oh, blessed days of innocence, when you had not tasted the seductive poison of sin! When a little lie, or a disobedience to your parents, gave you terrible disquiet of conscience. In those happy days you sat content at the frugal table, you loved your home and passed the evening in the bosom of your family. Then you had no idea what bitterness of heart or a disquiet mind meant; but there came a time when for the first time you said, "Jesus, I will serve Thee no more." From that moment you felt the stings of conscience. You were like the fratricide Cain, who restlessly wandered about, afraid that every man was his mortal enemy. The rivers threatened to drown him, the hills to fall on him, the valleys to bury him alive. He had the dreadful thought in his mind that those who found him would kill him.

    Would that we could realize the fact that to know God and to love Him is the only source of peace! Thomas a Kempis says, "That God, the eternal and infinite, who fills all things, is the real comfort of the soul and the real joy of the heart." Give testimony to that which you have experienced during these days of the paschal feast. You have made your peace with God by means of a good confession— tell me, did you not feel a heavenly joy in your soul when the priest raised his hands to give you absolution? Did you not feel as if new life had been infused into your body and soul?

    And you, my dear young people, who have had the grace of partaking for the first time of the Bread of angels: did you ever experience such happiness; did you ever feel greater consolation? What a difference there is between serving the good God and serving that cruel monster, the devil! If you have as yet never felt the consolation of serving God, now is the time to make a small effort, and God will reward you with a peace the world cannot give.

    After Our Lord had twice saluted the Apostles with "Peace be with you," He breathed on them saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." Impress these words on your memory, for they are the proof of the divine institution of confession. God gave His disciples and their successors the power of forgiving sins. "What a great benefit did Our Lord bestow on mankind by this act! He saw that many who had been regenerated by the waters of Baptism would again fall into sin. He gave us this sacrament as a plank thrown to us after shipwreck. You cannot deny, however, that this divine gift is often abused. Some have the temerity to say, "We will commit this sin, and then confess it and it will be forgiven." Never load your souls with such a sin of presumption. Use that great grace for your salvation and not for your damnation.

    When Our Lord visited the Apostles on this occasion, Thomas was not with them. When he came in they gathered about him, relating the occurrence, " We have seen the Lord," spoken to Him, and touched Him. Thomas answered, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." What an exhibition of human weakness! What incredulity, what obstinacy in following out his own views and despising the united testimony of the other ten! What presumption to lay down the law of evidence to Our Lord! Well it was that he had a master so full of love.

    Eight days afterwards Our Lord appeared again, the doors being shut, and this time Thomas was with them. The Lord had come especially to convince Thomas. Calling him He said, "Put in thy finger hither, and see My hands, and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing." So struck was Thomas by the goodness of the Master, so overcome with sorrow for his fault, that he fell down before Our Lord and cried out, "My Lord and my God." The Lord then said, " Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen and have believed."

    There are many Thomas's among us Christians, and even more incredulous than Thomas, who say, " Unless I see I will not believe." For example they do not understand certain doctrines of the Church; they deny them and are half infidels. A day will come, and perhaps it is not far distant, when they will have to acknowledge the truth of those doctrines; and severe punishments will be dealt out to them for their wickedness and impiety; they are so unbelieving, that if Christ were to appear again before them, they would maintain that it was not He.

    My dear young people, do not choose such as these for your companions; avoid the conversation of those who do not respect religion; be careful of the books you read. The writings of our present day are full of infidelity. The best Protestant and infidel writers make most ridiculous charges against the holy faith. Doubts are raised concerning fasts; modern scientific discoveries are so distorted that they must needs throw discredit on religion. The young are especially entrapped by this apparent show of reason. Avoid such books, that you may not be affected by their teachings. You must not say that you ought to know the objections to our religion. If you study enough, and can refute them, well and good; but if your knowledge is insufficient you will lose your faith.

    St. Aloysius Gonzaga, when a child, had a certain book and tried to find out what it was. He could decipher enough to see that it was against religion, so he threw it into the fire and ran to wash his hands, because they had touched such a blasphemous work. In matters of faith, drive away with great care every temptation; renew every day your promises of fidelity; tell God that with His grace you will be His constant follower and ask Him to enlighten and strengthen your faith. You may be sure that there is a great foundation of truth in your religion; that good and wise men have taught and believed it, such as St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and many others who have been the glory of the Catholic Church.

    Blessed is he that shall have preserved his faith, for it is a precious gift. One day you will see the truths plainly revealed, though now some things may strike you as not in accordance with what the world believes. You will be glad at the hour of your death, when you will have the consolation to be comforted by that religion which you have professed in your lifetime. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."

    Offline josefamenendez

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    Re: First Sunday After Easter
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