INSTRUCTION FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER,
by Leonard Goffine, 1871
This Sunday and the whole week should serve as a preparation for the festival of Pentecost, that we may enable ourselves, by good works and pious devotional exercises, to participate in the graces of the Holy Ghost. At the Introit the Church sings: Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried out to thee. Alleluia. My heart hath said to thee: I have sought thy face: I will seek thy face, O Lord: turn not thy face from me. Alleluia. Alleluia. The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? (Ps. xxvi. 7 - 9.) Glory, &c.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O almighty and eternal God, inspire Thy servants with true devotion, and grant that we may serve Thy divine Majesty with sincere hearts. Through, &c.MORAL LESSON CONCERNING SCANDAL.
EPISTLE, (i: Peter iv. 7 - 11.) Most Dearly Beloved: Be prudent, and watch in prayers. But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Using hospitality one towards another without murmuring. As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the words of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the power which God administereth: that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ: to whom is glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.
EXPLANATION. The practice of the virtues which St. Peter here prescribes for the faithful, are a splendid preparation for the reception of the Holy Ghost, for nothing renders us more worthy of His visit than true love for our neighbor, which willingly assists and gives; the good use of God's gifts, and the true fulfilment of the duties of our state of life. Strive, therefore, to practise these virtues and thus make yourself less unworthy of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Say on this day, and daily during the week this:
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy divine love, who hast assembled the nations of all tongues in unity of faith.
GOSPEL. (John xv. 26 - 27., xvi. 1 - 4.) At That Time: Jesus said to His disciples: When the Paraclete cometh whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me: and you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But these things I have told you: that when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.
Why is the Holy Ghost called the Paraclete?
Because He consoles those who suffer persecution for justice's sake, that is, who are persecuted because of their truly Christian life, and their defence of truth and justice, whether by word or pen, or by their life, as did the apostles and other saints, who were filled with the greatest and sweetest delight while suffering for Jesus' sake.
How did the Holy Ghost give testimony of Christ?
Through the apostles and disciples whom He made so eloquent and so courageous, that they intrepidly professed and preached that Christ is the Son of God, and the true Messiah. This doctrine He confirmed by wonderful miracles, and, as it were, sealed it by their blood which by His grace they shed for it. The Holy Ghost gives even now testimony of Christ through the instructing Church, that is, the preachers, through whom He speaks, and who must, therefore, be listened to reverently. We also must give testimony of Christ and profess by our lives, by patience in crosses and afflictions that He is our teacher, our Lord, and our God; for if we do not thus acknowledge Him in this world, He will not acknowledge us one day before His Father in heaven. (Matt. x. 33.)
Did the Jews sin in persecuting and killing the apostles?
Undoubtedly; for although they wrongly believed they were thus doing God a service, their ignorance and error was very sinful and deserving of punishment; for they could easily have known and been instructed in the truth.
In such punishable ignorance are also those Christians who, as they neglect all Christian instruction, hardly know what is necessary for salvation, and make nothing of many things which are grievous sins; as also those who are in doubt, whether they justly or unjustly possess such and such things, and yet for fear of being bound to restore them, neglect to settle the doubt.
What are the points which every Christian must know and believe in order to be saved?
They are the six which follow: that there is but One God, who has created and governs all things; that God is a just judge, who rewards the good and punishes the evil; that there are in the Deity three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that the Son of God became man for love of us, taught, us, and by His death on the cross redeemed us; that the Holy Ghost sanctifies us by His grace, without which we could not live well or be saved; that man's soul is immortal.
PETITION. Send us, O Lord Jesus! the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, who proceeds at the same time from the Father and from Thee, that He may console and strengthen us in all our afflictions. Graciously protect us, that we may give no scandal to any one, nor allow ourselves or others to be enticed into sin. Urge us by Thy Holy Spirit to learn all the truths of faith, to live in accordance with them, and arrive at Thee. Amen.
These things have I said to you, that you may not be scandalized. (John xvi. 1.)
How is scandal given?INSTRUCTION CONCERNING PREPARATION FOR PENTECOST.
If something is done or left undone, even when it is known, that others will thus take occasion to sin. This is done in many different ways; if, for instance, you dress improperly, speak improper words, or sing bad songs, by which you can see, that your neighbor will be tempted to think, desire, or act wrongly, or what is worse, if you act badly in the presence of others, or bring bad books, books against good morals, or against the holy faith among people; if you incite others to anger, to cursing, to vengeance, or if you prevent them from attending Church, the sermon, or doctrinal instruction, &c. In all these things you become guilty of the sin of scandal, and are, besides, guilty of all the sins which come from the scandal given.
If at the judgment we are unable to answer for our own sins, how then can we answer for the innumerable sins caused by the scandal we have given?
Therefore Christ pronounces a terrible "woe" to those who give scandal. Woe to the man, He says, by whom scandal cometh! It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt, xviii. 6.)
How do parents give scandal?
By giving their children bad example; by excessive anger, by cursing and swearing; by avarice, injustice and cheating; by discord and quarrels; by gluttony in eating and drinking; by extravagance and luxury in dress; by sneering at religion, good morals, &c.; by not keeping their children from evil company and associations, even bringing them into them; by not punishing and breaking up their children's vices. How much parents sin in such scandals, cannot be expressed; at the Day of Judgment their children will be their accusers!
How do householders give scandal to their servants and those under them?
As parents do to their children; by keeping them away, or not urging them by their own example or command to attend Church on Sundays and holidays; by giving them meat on fastdays; by commanding them to do sinful things, such as stealing, injuring others, &c.
1. We should withdraw, after the example of the Blessed Virgin and apostles, to some solitary place, or, at least, avoid, as much as possible, intercourse with others, speak but little, and attend with earnestness and perseverance to prayer; for in solitude God speaks to man.
2. We should cleanse our conscience by a contrite confession, become reconciled to our neighbor, if we have lived in enmity; for the Holy Ghost, as a spirit of peace and purity, lives only in pure and peaceful souls. (Ps. lxxv. 3.)
3. We should give alms according to our means, for it is said in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts x.) of the gentile centurion Cornelius, that he made himself by prayer and almsdeeds worthy of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
4. We should strongly desire to receive the Holy Ghost, and give expression to this desire by frequent aspirations to God, making use of the prayer: "Come, O Holy Ghost, &c."