Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Holy Season of Lent

Condensed from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Guéranger OSB
The History of Lent
The forty days' fast, which we call Lent, is the Church's preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. In most languages, the name given to this fast expresses the number of days - forty, such as Quadragesima in Latin; the English word Lent signifies the Spring-fast, for Lenten-tide in the ancient Anglo-Saxon language, was the season of Spring. Our Blessed Lord Himself sanctioned this fast by fasting forty days and forty nights in the desert; and though He did not impose it on the world by an express commandment (which, in that case, could not have been open to the power of dispensation), yet He showed plainly enough, by His own example, that fasting, which God had so frequently ordered in the old Law, was to be practiced also by the children of the new.
The disciples of St. John the Baptist came, one day, to Jesus, and said to Him, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Thy disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the children of the Bridegroom mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast." (Matt. 9, 14-15)
Hence we find it mentioned, in the Acts of the Apostles, how the disciples of Our Lord, after the foundation of the Church, applied themselves to fasting. In their Epistles, also, they recommended it to the faithful. Nor could it be otherwise. Though the divine mysteries whereby Our Savior wrought our Redemption have been consummated, yet we are still sinners; and where there is sin, there must be expiation.
The Apostles, therefore, legislated for our weakness by instituting, at the very commencement of the Christian Church, that the solemnity of Easter should be preceded by a universal fast; and it was only natural that they should have made this period of penance to consist of forty days, seeing that Our Divine Master had consecrated that number by His own fast. St. Jerome, St. Leo the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Isidore of Seville, and others of the Fathers of the Church, assure us that Lent was instituted by the Apostles, although, at the beginning, there was no uniform way of observing it.
Thus the Eastern Rites begin Lent much earlier than the Latin, owing to their custom of never fasting on Saturdays. This is the origin of the Latin Rite's Septuagesima, which roughly corresponds to the beginning of the Eastern Lent. We see also that the Latin Rite - which, even as late as the sixth century, kept only thirty-six fasting days during the six weeks of Lent (for the Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as days of fast) - thought it proper to add, later on, the last four days of Quinquagesima, in order that her Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, might contain forty days of fast.
St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our first parents was one of abstinence; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and upon us their children. The life of privation, which the king of creation, Adam, had thenceforward to lead on this earth (for the earth was to yield him nothing of its natural growth, save thorns and thistles), was the clearest possible exemplification of the law of penance imposed by the anger of God on rebellious man.
When God mercifully shortened man's ordinary life span, that so he might have less time and power for sin, He permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an additional nourishment in that state of deteriorating strength. Fasting, then, includes abstinence from such nourishment as this. Its privation is essential to the very notion of fasting.
Fasting also includes the depriving ourselves of some portion of our ordinary food, inasmuch as it allows only one full meal during the day. It was the custom with the Jews, in the old Law, not to take the one meal allowed on fast days, till sunset. The Christian Church adopted the same custom. It was scrupulously practiced for many centuries. But about the ninth century some relaxation began to be introduced in the Latin Church, and the custom, though resisted at first, gradually spread of taking the repast after the hour of None, that is, about three in the afternoon. By the late thirteenth century, even this was considered too severe, and a still further relaxation was deemed necessary - that of breaking the fast after the hour of Sext, or after noon.
But whilst this relaxation of taking the repast so early in the day as noon rendered fasting less difficult in one way, it made it more severe in another - by evening the body had grown exhausted by the labors of the day. It was found necessary to grant some refreshment for the evening, and it was called a collation. The word was taken from the Benedictine rule, which allows wine to be taken in the evening on fast days outside of Lent. It was the custom to read from the Collationes of Cassian during this refreshment; thus the name. Shortly after the death of St. Karl the Great, the Chapter of Aachen extended this indulgence to the Lenten fast. By the fifteenth century, it was permitted to take a morsel of bread with the wine, so the monks would not be obliged to take wine on an empty stomach. These mitigations gradually found their way from the cloister to the world, and eventually a second collation was permitted - so long as the two collations together did not constitute a full meal. Eventually, a variety of foods, besides bread, were permitted at the collations, with the exception of meat. Beverages were permitted between meals.
Thus did the decay of piety, and the general deterioration of bodily strength among the people of the western nations, infringe on the primitive observance of fasting. To make our history of these humiliating changes anything like complete, we must mention further relaxations. For many centuries eggs and dairy foods were not allowed, because they came under the class of animal food. Beginning with the ninth century, dairy foods were gradually permitted, especially in northern Europe. The Churches of France resisted this custom until the seventeenth century.
In earlier ages, even princes had difficulty in obtaining dispensations. Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, being seized with a malady which rendered it dangerous to his health to take the Lenten diet, applied, in the year 1297, to Pope Boniface VIII, for permission to eat meat. The Pontiff commissioned two Cistercian abbots to inquire into the real state of the prince's health; they were to grant the dispensation if they found it necessary, but only on condition that the king had not taken a vow to observe the fast for life, that he must abstain from meat on Fridays, Saturdays and the vigil of St. Matthias, and that he must not take his meal in the presence of others and was to observe moderation in what he took. But after the fifteenth century, dispensations became increasingly easy to obtain. Eventually eggs and even meat were widely permitted on most of the Lenten fast days. Pope Benedict XIV lamented this general relaxation in an encyclical in 1741, and, in 1745, he renewed the prohibition of eating fish and meat at the same meal - but even this prohibition has been generally relaxed.
How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form! What comparison can be made between the Christians of former times, who, deeply impressed with the fear of God's judgments and with the spirit of penance, happily went through these forty days, and those of modern times, when love of pleasure and self-indulgence are forever lessening man's horror for sin? Where is now that simple and innocent joy at Easter, which our forefathers used to show, when, after their severe fast of Lent, they partook of substantial and savory food? The peace, which long and sharp mortification ever brings to the conscience, gave them the capability, not to say the right, of being light-hearted as they returned to the comforts of life, which they had denied themselves in order to spend forty days in penance, recollection, and retirement from the world.
In the "ages of faith", Lent was a season during which, not only all amusements and theatrical entertainments were forbidden by the civil authority, but even the law courts were closed; and this in order to secure that peace and calm of heart, which is so indispensable for the soul's self-examination and reconciliation with her offended Maker. Hunting, too, was for many ages considered forbidden during Lent. Even war, which is sometimes so necessary for the welfare of a nation, was suspended during this holy season. Indeed, in the eleventh century, the institution called "God's truce" became widespread, which forbade the carrying of arms from Wednesday evening until Monday morning throughout the year. St. Edward the Confessor, King of England, decreed that God's truce should be observed without cessation from the beginning of Advent through the Octave of Easter and from the Ascension through the Octave of Pentecost, as well as on all Ember days and Vigils, beside the days already prescribed.
Thus did the secular world testify its respect for the holy observances of Lent, and borrow some of its wisest institutions from the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. The influence of this forty days' penance was great, too, on each individual. It renewed man's energies, gave him fresh vigor in battling with his animal instincts, and, by the restraint it put upon sensuality, ennobled the soul. There was restraint everywhere; and the present discipline of the Church, which forbids the solemnization of marriage during Lent, reminds Christians of that holy continency, which, for many ages, was observed during the whole forty days as a precept, and of which the most sacred of the liturgical books, the Missale Romanum, still retains the recommendation. The final rubric of the Nuptial Mass states: Let the priest admonish them, in grave words…to remain chaste during the time of prayer, especially fasts and solemnities…(such as on liturgical vigils and during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent.)
In closing, we extract from the encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV, cited above: The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.
More than two hundred years have elapsed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world; and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. The result of this ever-growing spirit of immortification has been a general laxity of character, which has led to frightful social disorders. The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV are but too truly verified. Every nation among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges - civil disorder or conquest.
It is sad and humiliating to note that as laxities were introduced by the hierarchy and local churches into the laws of fasting and practices of severe penance, the members of the Church have suffered immeasurable spiritual loss - a loss of at least part of the rigor of those sacred times set apart to cleanse their bodies and souls of imperfections and the corrupting spirit of the world. In our modern times, the spread of permissiveness, liberalism, deterioration of morality and the general practices of purity, have led to a spirit of relaxation and the loss of a general effort, on the part of the faithful, to strive for a life of holiness and of union with God through the practices of self-denial, mortification, piety and renouncement of the spirit of the world - a spirit which is opposed to the spirit of a true Christian life and the very possibility of eternal salvation.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Church of the Holy Innocents (NYC) - Lenten Parish Mission - March 19 -- March 21

Shrine & Parish Church

of the Holy Innocents

128 W. 37th Street
New York City

The Shrine and Parish Church of the Holy Innocents will have a Lenten Parish Mission at starting, Monday March 19 through Wednesday March 21, 2018 during the 6PM Latin Mass.
The parish mission will be preached by Fr. Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap.
There will be the opportunity, for all those who attend each evening of the Mission, to gain a Plenary Indulgence. Confessions will be heard after Holy Mass.
The theme of the Mission will be: Saints of the Church; models and methods for overcoming sin & division.

1)    Monday – Blessed Solanus Casey; overcoming patterns of personal sin and healing of division.
2)    Tuesday – Saint Padre Pio; forgiveness and healing in families and the sacrament of reconciliation.
3)    Wednesday – The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Eucharist (with special blessing to impart the plenary indulgence).
Fr. Joseph was born in Columbus, OH, in 1967 and was raised in Canton, OH. He entered Borromeo College Seminary in 1986 where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences in 1989. In 1990, he professed his first vows as a Capuchin Franciscan friar. Making his Perpetual vows in 1993, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in Theology at the Washington Theological Union in 1995 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1997 in Pittsburgh, PA, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, now of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
Fr. Joseph’s first assignment after ordination was on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea where he served for four years. Returning to the US in 2001, he has served in various capacities as Parochial Vicar, Military and Hospital Chaplain and as Pastor.
Most recently, Fr. Joseph worked with the friars in the Custody of Puerto Rico and currently serves as a full-time Minister of the Word and Evangelization offering retreats and reflection days for parishes, Religious and Priests. 

What is the point of a parish mission? Are parish missions necessary? Who benefits from parish missions?
A mission is an opportunity for a parish to experience in a heightened and intense way spiritual services, sermons, and Sacraments focusing on the major themes of our Faith.
We all know of parishes where we can find people who habitually neglect Mass on Sunday and on feasts of obligation, even though they could go without any difficulty. Such people, if they go to their annual confession, manifest some kind of sorrow when questioned about this point, and promise to amend. Yet, after having attended Mass twice or three times, miss it again the same as before. Next year they make the same promises, and the same relapses follow. Nothing but a good mission will bring these people to a change of their stubborn dispositions and make practical Catholics out of them.
In every parish, there is a smaller or greater number of such as neglect the Sacraments for years, and all the efforts of a zealous pastor, of a solicitous mother or wife, of committed relatives and friends, all the prayers of pious souls, are unsuccessful in bringing them to reconcile with God. Nothing but a well-conducted mission can bring about their conversion.
In these cases, only the plain (but forcible) exposition of the evil of sin and its terrible consequences on the one hand, and the reflection on the mercy and goodness of God on the other, made by experienced missionaries who have experience in dealing with such cases, can make an irresistible impression upon their perverted hearts. Only a good parish mission may be able to bring these souls back to God.
The benefits that grow from parish missions in Christ’s vineyard cannot easily be overestimated. Parish missions are times of extraordinary grace in which the kingdom of God is re-established in the hearts of the faithful, sinners are restored to God’s friendship, tepid souls are re-animated to a life of fervor, and the righteous are encouraged in their efforts to aim at still greater perfection. In a word, a mission well-made destroys the kingdom of Satan, purifies and renovates the parish, and glorifies the Church of God.
With good parish missions, the better portion of the parishioners are strengthened in their faith; they learn to appreciate their religion in greater measure and to practice it more cheerfully; and they are put on their guard against dangers that threaten them at the present, or may rise up against them in the future. The weaker portion of the congregation is animated to greater fervor; the wayward are brought back; the erring are enlightened; the ignorant are instructed; and all classes of sinners are brought to repentance and to true reconciliation with God and His Church.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

~~Taken from The White Paradise (1952)
Mortification of the senses by a strict rule of life, mortification of intellect and will by obedience, mortification of the whole man by solitude – these are the ramparts and fosses behind which he entrenches himself, who has been chosen by Grace. The three practices thus briefly indicated make up what is usually called “Carthusian penance.”
To be sorry for the life one has lived; to be converted, that is, to turn from the world and direct one’s way toward God: this is the first step in the Carthusian life, as in every religious life; with this act we begin this life. Those whom the divine Voice calls to the solitude of our cloisters have heard the words of the Gospel: “Do penance”; and “Go, sell whatsoever thou hast.” Above all, they have set before themselves the task of detaching themselves from all created things, of breaking the chains of our bondage.

The acts of detachment, strictness toward oneself, and submission are and always have been required of a life dedicated to the worship of Him Who has naught to do with things that are not. To live by God alone and for God alone, that is the heart of our secret and the true essence of our solitude.
There are not many souls that have the power to recognize the beauty of the Absolute, thus set forth; so deep have the children of Adam fallen. Rare are the souls intrepid enough the acknowledge their very nonentity. Rare are the souls which really dare to be nothing, and which, in that very act, are humble enough to be content to be divine and to be sons of the Most High, to be in short crucified and glorified in Him.


Without doubt, these things will seem like madness to the world’s wisdom, for the world lives upon the passing shadows of things, while we tell you of reality, pure and eternal. The world has not the power to know either our life or our love.
For our life is God; and our love is God again; and our sure, certain and perfect victory is nothing else than God Himself. God is exactly what the world knows not. Therefore, the world can neither estimate the extent of our victory nor gain the slightest inkling of the victory of Christ in us. “Have confidence, I have overcome the world.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


(A form of the Confiteor taken from the Sacramentary of Amiens, c.1001-1100)

Ante conspéctum divínæ majestátis tuæ, Dómine, his sanctis tuis confíteor, ego reus et indígnus peccátor, tibi Deo meo et creatóri meo, mea culpa, quia peccávi, in supérbia, in odio et invídia, in cupiditáte et avarítia, in fornicatióne et inmundítia, in ebrietáte et crápula, in mendácio et perjúrio, et in ómnibus vítiis, quæ ex his pródeunt. Quid plura? Visu, audítu, olfáctu, gustu et tactu et ómnino in cogitatióne et actióne perdítus sum; quapropter qui justíficas ímpios, justífica me et resuscíta me de morte ad vitam ætérnam, Dómine Deus meus.
Before Thy Divine Majesty, O Lord, to these Thy Saints, I, a wretched and unworthy sinner, confess to Thee my God and my Creator that I have sinned through my fault by pride, hatred and envy, lust and avarice, fornication and impurity, drunkenness and gluttony, lying and swearing, and all other vices that derive from these sins. What else? I have damned myself with my sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch and with my every thought and action. Therefore, O Thou Who savest  the wicked, save me and resurrect me from death to eternal life, O Lord my God.
Al cospetto della tua divina maestà, Signore, a questi tui santi, io, colpevole e indegno peccatore, confesso a te, mio Dio e mio creatore, per mia colpa, che peccavi di superbia, di odio e di invidia, di cupidigia e di avarizia, di fornicazione e impurità, di ebbrezza e gola, di menzogna e spergiuro, e tutti i vizi che da questi peccati derivano. Che dire ancora? Mi sono dannato con la vista, con l'udito, con l'olfatto, col gusto, col tatto, col pensiero e con l'azione; quindi, o tu che salvi gli empi, salvami e risuscitami dalla morte alla vita eterna, Signore Dio mio.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Homily on the Beginning of the Holy Season of Lent

Homily On The Beginning Of The Holy Season Of Lent
(On fasting)
By John Chrysostom

I arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I wanted to become a herald for you of the approach of Lent — the medicine, I might say, for your souls.  Like a loving father, you see, the Lord of us all, in his desire that we be cleansed of the sins we have committed with the passing of time, desired a remedy for us through holy fasting. So let no one be gloomy, no one look sullen, but exult and be glad, and glorify the guardian of our souls, who shows us the best way, and welcome with great joy his approach. 
Let the pagans be ashamed and the Jews dismayed to see the love revealed by our welcoming the approach of this season with such excitement, and let them learn through the experience of these things the extent of the difference between them and us. Let them designate as their feasts and festivals, drunkenness and all other kinds of licentious and shameful behavior, which is typical of them to wallow in, but let the church of God, unlike them, identify feasts with fasting, neglect of the appetite and all the virtues that accompany it.  This, in fact, is a true feast, where there is saving of souls, where there is peace and harmony, where the harsh realities of daily life are missing, without tumult and din and the antics of good cooks and slaughter of brute beasts.  Utter rest and quiet, love and joy, peace and gentleness, and a thousand other good things are the order of the day in place of that other behavior.
          It is not, after all, idly and to no purpose that we have come here, for one person to do the talking and the other simply to applaud what is said, and so for us to off home.  Instead, it is for me to utter something useful and relevant to your salvation, and for you to profit from what is said and so to leave here for home after gaining much benefit.  The church, you see, is a pharmacy of the spirit, and those who come here ought to acquire some appropriate remedies, apply them to their own complaints, and go off the better for it. 
I mean, blessed Paul confirms this, that mere listening without showing practical response is of no value, when he says: “It is not, after all, the listeners to the law who are at rights with God, but doers of the law who are set at rights.”  Christ, too, in his preaching said: “Not everyone saying to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.”  Accordingly, dearly beloved, since we know that no benefit comes to us from listening unless it is brought to its completion in the good works that follow, let us not be listeners only but doers, so that the works following the words may be for us grounds for confidence.
          I know, of course, that what I say today will strike many of you as novel.  I beg you, however, not to let ourselves heedlessly become the slaves of habit, but let us subject these matter affecting ourselves to the process of reason.  After all, do you get any benefit from daily gluttony and extreme indulgence?  Far from benefit, all you get is harm and intolerable damage.  You see, whenever reason becomes sodden through drinking to excess, immediately the benefit gained from fasting is wiped out without trace. I ask you: what could be more distasteful, what more unseemly than people quaffing wine right up till midnight, up to the dawning of the first rays of the rising sun, reeking to high heaven from drinking all that wine, a disagreeable spectacle to people they meet, an object of contempt to their household, the laughing stock of all who have some little idea of correct behavior and in the eyes of everyone when they draw on themselves the displeasure of God through this extreme intemperance and ill-timed, mindless indulgence.  “Drunkards,” scripture says, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 
          God forbid that anyone of you gathered here should be overcome by that weakness.  May you instead celebrate each day as it comes with restraint and sobriety, and be free of the storms and tempests that indulgence is accustomed to cause, and thus reach the harbor of your souls — I mean fasting — so as to be in a position to gain its advantages in abundance.  I mean, just as indulgence proves to be cause and promoter of countless evils for the human race, in like manner fasting and neglect of appetite have invariably proved the cause of innumerable benefits to us.  God, you remember in forming human beings in the beginning, knew that they had particular need of this remedy for the salvation of their souls, and so from the outset he gave the first human creature this command: “From all the trees in the garden you are to eat your fill, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat.”  That text about eating and not eating refers figuratively to fasting. 
Although man was obliged to keep that command, he did not do so: overcome by intemperance and guilty of disobedience, he incurred a sentence of death.  When the devil, as you remember, evil spirit and enemy of our nature as he is, saw the first human being living in the garden, how his life was carefree and how he lived on Earth in bodily form yet like an angel, he wanted to trip him up and dislodge him with the hope of greater promises, and so he cheated him of the possession of what he had.  This is the extent of the evil of not keeping within proper limits but aspiring to greater heights.  A wise man has made this clear in the words:  “Through the devil’s envy death entered the world.”  Do you see, dearly beloved, how from the beginning it was from intemperance that death had its entry?  Notice likewise that later, too, sacred scripture repeatedly accuses indulgence, in one place saying, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to entertain themselves:” in another, “He ate and drank, grew fat and heavy and for his love returned him scorn.”  The inhabitants of Sodom, too, brought that implacable anger upon themselves from this sin, not to mention their other faults.  Listen again to the words of the prophet, “This was the sin of the Sodomites; indulgence amid plenty.”  In short, it crops up repeatedly like some fount of source of every evil.

Do you now recognize the harm caused by intemperance?  Look in turn at the instances of good behavior due to fasting.  The great Moses, after keeping his fast for forty days, was able to get the tablets of the law; and when he came down from the mountain and saw the people’s sin, the tablets which he had been successful in obtaining through such intercession he threw down and smashed, thinking it was preposterous that an indulgent and sinful people should receive laws of the Lord’s own making.  Accordingly, that remarkable prophet had again to undergo forty days of fasting so as to be able to receive again tablets like the ones he had broken through the people’s sin, and bring them down the mountain. 
The great Elijah, too, underwent a similar period of fasting, escaping the power of death and going up as it were into Heaven with a fiery chariot, and to this day he has not experienced death.  Likewise Daniel, passionate man though he was, spent many days fasting and received as recompense an awesome vision so that he tamed the fury of the lions and turned them into the mildest of sheep, not by changing their nature but by diverting their purpose without loss of their ferocity.  The Ninevites made use of this remedy, too, and won from the Lord a reprieve, ensuring that animals as well as human beings should apply the remedy and so abstain each of them from evil practices; thus, they won the favor of the Lord of all.
We could list many other examples celebrated in both Old and New Testaments — but why refer to servants when we should come to the case of the common Lord of us all?  Our Lord Jesus Christ, you know, himself underwent fasting for forty days, and, thus prepared, he entered his contest with the devil, giving us an example that through fasting we should arm ourselves and by acquiring strength from that exercise we should come to grips with that formidable enemy.
          At this point, however, someone who looks critically at things and keeps his faculties alert may perhaps post the question: why is the Lord seen to fast for the same number of days as his subjects, and why did he not surpass that number?  It was not idly or to no purpose that this happened, but according to the Lord’s own wise purposes and his loving kindness.  I mean, in case it would appear that he had simply come on Earth without taking flesh and becoming a human being except in appearance, he fasted for the very same number of days to make this point, not adding any days, so as to curb the rivalry of people wanting to act unrestrainedly.  You see, if there are still those rash enough to speak this way even when the Lord acted as he did, what would they not have attempted to say if he had not in his providence robbed them of any pretext?  So he resisted the temptation to fast for a longer period of days than his subjects; thus he taught us a lesson, that he has taken the human condition on himself and is not living apart from our human situation.
          Since it is now clear to you from the example both of the Lord and his subjects that the value of fasting is considerable, and that great benefit accrues to the soul from it, I beg you, my dear people, now that you know its benefit not to resist its saving power through indifference nor lose heart at its approach, but rejoice and be glad, as blessed Paul says, “The more our external selves are destroyed, the more the inner person is renewed.”  Fasting is nourishment for the soul, you see, and just as bodily nourishment fattens the body, so fasting invigorates the soul, provides it with nimble wings, lifts it on high, enables it to contemplate things that are above, and renders it superior to the pleasures and attractions of this present life. 
And just as the lightest ships cross the seas more rapidly whereas those weighed down with much cargo take on water, in like manner fasting leaves the faculty of reason nimble and enables it to negotiate the problems of life adroitly and fly to Heaven and the things of Heaven, despising the things of this life as being no less evanescent than shadows and dreams.  Indulgence and intemperance, on the other hand, weigh down our reason, fatten the body, and shackle the spirit, hemming it in on all sides; they deprive the judgment of reason of any dependability, inducing it to follow dangerous courses, and thus work in every way against our salvation.
          Let us not be careless, dearly beloved, in dealing with matter concerning our salvation; recognizing instead the troubles that could come from that evil source, let us avoid the harm it produces.  After all, we are warned against intemperance not only in the new dispensation by its greater attention to right thinking, its more frequent struggles and greater effort, its many rewards and ineffable consolations.  Not even people living under the old law were permitted to indulge themselves in that way, even though they were sitting in the dark, dependent upon tapers, and brought forward gradually into the light, like children being weaned off milk.  Lest you think I am idly finding fault with intemperance in what I say, listen to what the prophet says: “Woe to those who fall on evil days in sleeping on beds of ivory, luxuriating on their couches, living on a diet of goats picked from the flocks and suckling calves from the herds, and drinking strained wines, anointed with precious unguents — like men treating this as a lasting city, and not seeking one to come.”  
Do you see the heavy accusation the prophet levels against intemperance in charging the Jews with these faults of stupidity, sensuality, and daily gluttony?  I mean, note the accuracy of the words: after attaching their gluttony and their drinking to excess, he added, “like men treating this as a lasting city, and not seeking one to come,” all but stating that their satisfaction got as far as lips and palate, and they went on to nothing better.  Pleasure, however, is brief and fleeting, whereas pain never lets up and has no end.  The truth of this comes from experience, the true meaning of lasting realities — “like men treating this as a lasting city” — and fleeting things — “not seeking one to come” — that is, not lasting for a moment.
          All human and carnal things, after all, are of this kind like pleasures, human glory and power, like wealth and all the prosperity of this present life; these things have nothing firm about them, nothing steady, nothing fixed, but shift more rapidly than the currents of a river, leaving naked and desolate those swept along in them.  Spiritual things, on the other hand are not like that — quite the opposite, in fact: firm and immovable, not subject to change, lasting forever.  What folly, then, would it be to exchange the immovable for the tottering, the permanent for the passing, the enduring for the fleeting, what promises to give joy in eternity for what offers us terrible punishment there?
          Considering all this, therefore, dearly beloved, and placing great store on our salvation, let us despise intemperance as mindless and harmful, let us embrace fasting, and right attitudes along with it; let us display a renewed lifestyle, and address ourselves daily to performance of good deeds.  In this way, having spent all the holy season of Lent dealing in spiritual goods and amassing great wealth of virtue, we would thus merit to arrive at the day of the Lord and approach with confidence that awesome spiritual banquet, and with conscience pure share in those ineffable and immortal goods, being filled therefrom with grace and with the prayers and intercessions of those well-pleasing to Christ, our loving God, to whom the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and honor, now and forever, for ages of ages.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

One of the Original Drafts for Vatican II that Got Discarded

These excerpts are from one of the original drafts meant to be part of the Second Vatican Council - these drafts did not make it into the Council discussions, for obvious reasons!


1. The Church, Model of Both States
All the Christian faithful constitute one great family which has arisen out of the at once virginal and spousal union of the Church with Jesus Christ, since never does the Savior cease by the word of life and the grace of the Holy Spirit to render his Bride, purchased by His blood, most chastely fruitful. For this reason, the Holy Synod has decided to extol and defend in a single dogmatic Constitution the nobility both of chastity in the unmarried and its most beautiful fruit, sacred virginity, and of chaste marriage and its heavenly fruit, the Christian family.
2. Introductory Note
Since all that is about to be presented presupposes the divinely ordained differences between the sexes and their mutual relationship, a few things are said first about the origin and nature of sex and about man’s dominion over his own body insofar as this serves the propagation of the human race.
3. The Origin and Nature of Sex
God Himself “from the beginning made man male and female” (Mt 19:4), and He blessed them, saying, “Increase and multiply” (Gn 1:28). When He had given this blessing, He saw that all that He had made was “very good” (Gn 1:31). Thus, it is that the things that in this respect are naturally found in man are also good and proper, as the Church has often stated in order to proclaim the sanctity and dignity of marriage. But after Adam’s sin, they demand a proper modesty and protection (see Gn 2:25 and 3:7), but without any false or scrupulous shame. By the merits of Christ the bodies of those reborn have become temples of the Holy Spirit, which is why God can and should be glorified in human bodies also (see 1 Cor 6:19-20).
It clearly follows, therefore, that things which pertain to sex should be considered and treated simply, reverently, modestly, and chastely. In affirming this original dignity of human sex, however, false over-praise should be avoided, as if it were precisely by making man male and female that God made them in His image or as if it were principally by sexual elements that man were man. For in this mortal life, although human sex also enjoys other human qualities, it is nevertheless primarily ordered towards marriage and its spiritual and temporal goods, as Sacred Scripture teaches (see Mt 19:4), until that time is fulfilled when, as the Lord said, “at the resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (Mt 22:30).
4. Man not the Absolute Lord of the Body
It should be noted that God alone is the absolute Lord of man’s life and of its integrity, particularly with respect to what makes man naturally capable of and associates him with God in the propagation of human life. Attempts to change one’s sex, therefore, when this is sufficiently determined, are wicked; nor is it allowed, in order to save the health of the whole man, to mutilate his genital organs or to render them infertile, if there are other ways to provide for his health. Nor in any case is or can there be a right to transplant into the human body the sexual organs of animals which produce the germinative cells of their own genus, or vice-versa; nor also to try to unite the human germ cells of each sex in a laboratory, even if this is done without violating modesty and chastity and solely for the sake of scientific progress.

5. Chastity in the Unmarried
Every man has the serious but equally honorable duty to dominate his sexual impulses and feelings by the exercise of chastity by which, with the help of God’s grace, the flesh and the senses are rightly subordinated to reason, by which man is raised to higher things, and, through reason illuminated by faith, to the law of the Gospel. Thus, by chastity sexual relations and intercourse are so ennobled that they are worthy of man, created in God’s image, and of the Christian. But the exercise of chastity differs in the unmarried and the married since only in the unmarried is continence linked with it; and in addition, while it ordinarily prepares the unmarried for marriage or for sacred virginity, for the married it is the splendor of marriage itself.
          For by divine ordination, revealed also in the law of nature, that man has a healthy sexual power does not give him the right to exercise it. That right is obtained only in a legitimate marriage and indeed within morally prescribed limits. An unmarried man, therefore, has a serious duty to refrain from actions which, alone or with others, of their nature constitute perfect or imperfect use of his properly and specifically sexual power or which by free and conscious will are directed to such use. The severe warning of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle should be remembered: “Do not be deceived: neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor the effeminate nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). Indeed, even deliberate evil internal acts against chastity are severely forbidden by the Lord (see Mt 5:28; 15:18-19). Nor should it be said, especially today, that they cannot be avoided. For even the unmarried, if they humbly beg for and are helped by God’s grace, are able to maintain chastity, as the Sacred Council of Trent already declared and the Church has always taught about them.
          No less today than in the past the teaching of the Apostle applies, even for young people: “The body is not for immorality but for the Lord.... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor 6:13, 19-20). “God did not call us to impurity but to holiness” (1 Th 4:7). While chastity is not the only nor the primary good in men’s moral life, still without it the moral life cannot be whole; and no one can deny how important God considers the life of those who, even outside of marriage, keep themselves pure and immaculate in this world; for it is not without reason that, along with charity, modesty, continence, and chastity are also listed among the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

6. The Defense and Care of Chastity
          If chastity, which is so important to God, is really to be preserved, it must be loved effectively and be humbly and vigilantly guarded, defended, and promoted by apt natural and especially by supernatural means. Human nature itself helps in this, through a certain innate shame, which develops and assists if it is imbued with a Christian spirit. That opinion must not be followed, therefore, which thinks that immodest acts, that is, acts which by their nature promote sexual desire, must be considered indifferent. A fortiori, that aberration must be rejected according to which such acts against modesty are recommended so that, by directly seeking and attaining lustful pleasure in them, a person may better preserve chastity and avoid the sin of consummated and perfect lust.
          No less condemned is that other extreme which adduces various reasons of the natural order and even invokes religion itself and morality in order to defend and spread a veritable cult of nudity, which neglects men’s condition after Adam’s sin (see Gn 2:25; 3:7). As for so-called “sexual initiation,” this Sacred Synod is ready to recommend modest and Christian education and instruction in matters sexual in accord with individual conditions and needs. Indeed, it blames parents who out of excessive shame or false modesty neglect or take this serious obligation lightly or who, thinking themselves incapable of it, entrust it to people who are not fit for it.
          On the other hand, it must reject that sort of education with is given to boys and girls together, without any moderation, immodestly, and without consideration of religion. With supreme loathing, furthermore, the Sacred Synod knows how many and how great are the detestable onslaughts today against chastity, by which in countless manifestations of today’s culture, even if under the pretext of play, recreation, science, art or praiseworthy beauty, souls redeemed by the blood of Christ are in fact constantly and almost everywhere, even within the family, being encouraged and even handed over to evil. It urges all, therefore, to arm themselves against such dangers by prayer, fasting, the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, and devotion to the Virgin Mary. They should also flee what are called near occasions. For how can they honestly pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt 6:13), if they freely seek temptations? Mindful of the Lord’s words against those who scandalize, the Church has the right and duty to repudiate those who give scandal and especially the public corruption of sexual morality. And civil authority also must guard and defend morality by appropriate and effective means, especially by assisting the efforts of all, individuals or groups, to foster public morality, including cases where it is being harmed by writings, radio programs, television, or other instruments of human culture.

7. Some Errors are Condemned
They are seriously opposed to the Church’s teaching who maintain that even in a healthy man, almost everything, including religious, moral, and even supernatural matters, are to be explained a priori by sexuality, with the further accusation that shepherds of souls are to be considered unworthy and incapable of their office if they do not know these and other modern claims. It is also an error not to wish to acknowledge internal sins against chastity or to measure external sin itself by new, e.g., psychoanalytical, criteria, opposed to the teachings of the Church. Quite false are the views, which harmfully insinuate that actions which the traditional ethics of the Church considers opposed to chastity are instead demanded by nature itself or by a healthy development of the human person. The worst is to maintain that the most shameful love for persons of the same sex is the prerogative of a higher culture***.
          This Sacred Synod furthermore declares to be most pernicious the errors of those according to whom, if you believe it, precisely and above all in the area of chastity, there never or hardly ever are subjectively and seriously evil acts, especially in the time of youth or among habitual, occasional, and recidivist sinners, on the grounds that they are presumed to lack sufficient freedom; or indeed that such actions are inevitable. This error even reaches the point of maintaining that it is permitted to lead someone to such objectively seriously evil acts when they are only and at most material sins. Finally, the Sacred Synod rejects as harmful the errors that maintain that the Church by its teaching on chastity and modesty harms a healthy and vigorous education of the young. These views are directly aimed at God, since God himself says through the Apostle: “Immorality or any impurity... must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones” (Eph 5:3).
12. The Power of the Church
As belonging to the divine order, marriage was entrusted by Christ, not to individuals, but to the Church that it might preserve, explain, and determine the doctrine and norms by which it is governed. The Church must exercise this power not only for the good of souls but also for the benefit of Christian faith and the growth of the Mystical Body. For this reason, Christ, who wished the Church to defend to the utmost the indissolubility which he restored to marriage, also gave it the power, within limits and conditions established by divine law, to dissolve the bond of all other marriages, both natural and sacramental, always excepting, however, a marriage consummated after the baptism of both parties.
14. Errors are Repudiated
The Sacred Synod knows how greatly the salvation of the Mystical Body of Christ depends on a right acknowledgment of the divine order with regard to marriage. To defend it, it knows first of all that it is its duty to condemn all the radical errors of those who maintain that marriage in its origin and constitution is some merely social phenomenon in continuous evolution and without any natural or supernatural value, and that it does not come from God and from Christ and is not subject to the power of the Church in the new economy of salvation.
Likewise it condemns those errors by which it is held that the marriage of Christians either is not a sacrament or that the sacrament itself is something accessory and separable from the contract itself. It also rejects the view of those who state that the use of marriage is the specific means for attaining that perfection by which man is truly and properly an image of God and the Most Holy Trinity. It severely rejects the errors and theories by which is denied the immutable divine order with regard to the properties and purposes of marriage. And it explicitly confutes as a supreme calumny the statement that the indissolubility of marriage does not come from God but is a cruel invention of the Church, no less cruelly retained. Finally, it rejects the theories by which, in an inversion of the right order of values, the primary purpose of marriage is esteemed less than biological and personal values and conjugal love, in the objective order itself, is proclaimed to be the primary purpose.
20. Civil Divorce
Spouses are seriously prohibited from seeking so-called civil divorce as a proper dissolution, as if a valid bond before God could be dissolved by civil authority; indeed neither is it licit for others directly and formally to cooperate in such a civil divorce. In no case and for no reason, even if it is not rarely serious and painful, is it licit for the faithful, while the sacred bond lasts, to dismiss a wife in order to take another, as the Lord himself clearly teaches (Mk 10:11), although sometimes civil authority invalidly allows this.
Sometimes, however, “civil divorce,” while the bond endures and without contradiction of ecclesiastical authority, can be sought. So-called simple separation is not to be done lightly, without just, serious, and proportionate cause.
22. Errors are Rejected
The Sacred Synod must severely condemn so-called “temporary” or “experimental” or “companionate” marriages. It also rejects as unworthy of a man and especially of a Christian those instructions by which through various skills a real hedonism in sacred and holy marriage is propagated. It also rejects theories by which a violation of marital fidelity is considered allowed to spouses, either when the mutual love between the couple has failed or when the sexual impulse is falsely thought to be impossible to keep within the limits of monogamous marriage.
It is also mistaken to state that civil authority itself never has the power to punish adulterers, and indeed with an equal penalty for both men and women. It also rebukes those who say, and indeed under the pretext of benefitting the Church, that mixed marriages are generally and in themselves to be fostered rather than tolerated. That position is also mistaken which maintains that a marriage can be declared invalid or dissolved solely because of a failure of love. Finally the Sacred Synod most severely condemns so-called “free love,” by which, under a false pretext of constructing a new fraternity and society, sin is committed against the divine order and a lethal wound is inflicted not only on marriage but also on the family and society.

*** Today the vice of homosexuality is also quite widespread. Not only is simple horror at this most foul vice missing, but the claim is being made that it should be praised and presented as the mark of a loftier love and higher culture. For, it is said, to love a person of the other sex is easy; but sexually to love a person of the same sex is not for all, but only for the few who are suitable and educated for it. That is why that deplorable fact is spread, that even men of superior genius were addicted to this vice.

35. The Excellence of Sacred Virginity
If holy Mother Church has always especially honored chastity as a choice fruit of the Holy Spirit, it has certainly always regarded as among its supremely precious treasures that perfect chastity by which a person consecrates himself to God’s service by sacred virginity and, out of singular love for God, for the sake of the Kingdom of God (see Mt 19:12), by a spiritual and free decision abstains from marriage and from its bodily delights. This honor given by the Bride of Christ is still greater when that chastity is undertaken by a permanent bond and is thus surrounded by a greater strength and firmness.
          By such a consecration, a man emulates in some ways the purity of the Angels, in some degree already here on earth he anticipates the state of heaven, is more perfectly likened to Christ the Virgin, born of the immaculate Virgin, and is more closely united with God, the most pure Spirit. By such a consecration, with the help of God's grace, a person can totally hand himself over to the service of the divine Majesty, more easily engages in the contemplation of divine things, and, free from secular and fleshly cares, undertakes apostolic works in order to spread the Kingdom of God.