The end of a thing is the purpose for which it was made. The end of a watch is
to keep time. The end of a pen is to write, etc. A thing is good only in
proportion to the way it fulfills the end for which it was made. A watch may
be very beautifully made, a very rare ornament, but if it will not keep time it
is useless as a watch. The same may be said of the pen, or of anything else.
Now for what purpose was man made? If we discover that, we know his end. When
we look around us in the world, we see a purpose or end for everything. We see
that the soil is made for the plants and trees to grow in; because if there was
no need of things growing, it would be better to have a nice clean solid rock
to walk upon, and then we would be spared the trouble of making roads, and
paving streets. But things must grow, and so we must have soil. Again, the
vegetables and plants are made for animals to feed upon; while the animals
themselves are made for man, that they may help him in his work or serve him
for food. Thus it is evident everything in the world was made to serve
something else. What then was man made for? Was it for anything in the world?
We see that all classes of beings are created for something higher than
themselves. Thus plants are higher than soil, because they, have life and soil
has not. Animals are higher than plants, because they not only have life, but
they can feel and plants cannot. Man is higher than animals, because he not
only has life and can feel, but he has also reason and intelligence, and can
understand, while animals cannot. Therefore we must look for something higher
than man himself, but there is nothing higher than man in this world, and so we
must look beyond it to find that for which he was made. And looking beyond it
and considering all things, we find that he was made for God-to know Him, to
love Him, and to serve Him both in this world and in the next. Again, we read
in the Bible (Gen. 1) that at the creation of the world all things were
made before man, and that he was created last. Therefore, if all these things
could exist without man, we cannot say he was made for them. The world existed
before him and can exist after him. The world goes along without any
particular man, and the same may be said of all men. Neither was man made to
stay here awhile to become rich, or learned, or powerful, because all do not
become rich-some are very poor; all are not learned-some are very ignorant; all
are not powerful-some are slaves. But since all men are alike and equal in
this, that they have all bodies formed in the same way, and all souls that are
immortal, they should all be made for the same end. For example, you could not
make a pen like a watch if you want it to write. Although pens differ in size,
shape, etc., they have all one general form which is essential to them. So,
although men differ in many things, they are all alike in the essential thing,
viz., that they are composed of body and soul, and made to the image and
likeness of God. Hence, as pens are made only to write with, so all men must
have only one and the same end, namely, to serve God.
A. God made the world.
The "world" here means more than the earth-more than is shown on a map
of the world. It means everything that we can see-sun, moon, stars, etc.; even
those thin s that we can see only with great telescopes. Everything, too, that
we may be able to see in the future, either with our eyes alone, or aided by
instruments, is included in the word "world." We can call it the universe.
A. God is the Creator of Heaven and earth, and of all things.
A. Man is a creature composed of a body and soul, and made to the image and
likeness of God.
"Creature," i.e., a thing created. Man differs from anything else in
creation. All things else are either entirely matter, or entirely spirit. An
angel, for example, is all spirit, and a stone is all matter; but man is a
combination of both spirit and matter--of soul and of body.
A. This likeness is chiefly in the soul.
A. The soul is like God because it is a spirit that will never die, and has
understanding and free will.
My soul is like to God in four things.
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and
to be happy with Him forever in the next.
"To know" Him, because we must know of a thing before we can love it. A
poor savage in Africa never longs to be at a game or contest going on in
person and know him; if he pleases us we love him, and if we love him we will
try to serve him; we will not be satisfied with doing merely what he asks of
us, but will do whatever we think might give him pleasure. So it is in regard
to God. We must first know Him-learn who He is from our catechisms and books
of instruction, but especially from the teaching of Godīs ministers, the Holy
Father, bishops and priests. When we know Him, we shall love Him. If we knew
Him perfectly, we should love Him perfectly; so the better we know Him the more
we shall love Him. And as it is our chief duty to love Him and serve Him upon
earth, it becomes our strict duty to learn here whatever we can of His nature,
attributes, and holy laws. The saints and angels in Heaven know God so well
that they must love Him, and cannot therefore offend Him.
You have all seen some person in the world, or maybe several persons, whom you
have greatly admired; still you did not love them perfectly; there was always
some little thing about them in looks, manners, or disposition that could be
rendered more pleasing; some defect or want you would like to see supplied;
some fault or imperfection you would like to see corrected. Now suppose you
had the power to take all the good qualities you found in the persons you loved
and unite them in one person, in whom there would be nothing displeasing, but
everything perfect and beautiful. Do you not think you would love such a
person very much indeed?
Moreover, suppose you knew that person loved you intensely, would it not be
your greatest delight to be ever with such a friend? Well, then, all the
lovable qualities and beauties you see in created beings come from God and are
bestowed by Him; yet all the good qualities on earth and those of the angels
and saints in Heaven, and even of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, if united
in one person would be nothing compared to the goodness and beauty of God. How
good and how lovable, therefore, must He be! And what shall we say when we
think that He loves us with a greater love than we could ever love Him, even
with our most earnest efforts? Try then first to know God and you will surely
love and serve Him. Do not be satisfied with the little you learn of Him in
the Catechism, but afterward read good books, and above all hear sermons and
"In this world:" Because unless we do what is pleasing to Him in this
world we cannot be with Him in the next. Our condition in the next world
depends entirely upon our conduct in this. Thus we have discovered the answer
to the great question, What is the end of man; for what was he made?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body, because in losing
our soul we lose God and everlasting happiness.
Every sensible person will take most care of that which is most valuable. If a
girl had a hundred dollars in a ten-cent pocket-book, you would consider her a
great fool if she threw away the hundred dollars for fear of spoiling the
pocket-book. Now, he is a greater fool who throws away his soul in order to
save his body some little inconvenience, or gratify its wicked desires or
inclinations. Wherever the soul will be, there the body will be also; so we
should, in a certain way, try to forget the body and make sure of getting the
soul safely into Heaven. You would not think much of the wisdom of a boy who
allowed his kite to be smashed in pieces by giving his whole attention to the
tail of the kite. If he took care to keep the kite itself high in air and away
from every danger, the tail would follow it; and even if the tail did get
entangled, it would have a good chance of being freed while the kite was still
flying. But of what use is it to save a worthless piece of rag, if the
kite-the valuable thing-is lost? Just in the same way, of what use is our body
if our soul is lost? And remember we have only one soul. Therefore, make sure
to save the soul, and the body also will be saved-that is, the whole man will
be saved; for we cannot save the soul and lose the body; they will both be
saved or both be lost.
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that
is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.
"Worship," that is, give Him divine honor. We honor persons for their
worth and excellence, and since God is the most excellent, we give Him the
highest honors, differing from others not merely in degrees but in kind-divine
honors that belong to Him alone. And justly so, for the vilest animal upon the
earth is a thousand times more nearly our equal than the most perfect creature,
man or angel, is the equal of God. In speaking of worship, theologians
generally distinguish three kinds, namely: latria, or that supreme
worship due to God alone, which cannot be transferred to any creature without
committing the sin of idolatry; dulia, or that secondary veneration we
give to saints and angels as the special friends of God; hyperdulia, or
that higher veneration which we give to the Blessed Virgin as the most exalted
of all Godīs creatures. It is higher than the veneration we give to the other
saints, but infinitely inferior to the worship we give to God Himself. We show
God our special honor by never doubting anything He reveals to us, therefore by
"faith"; by expecting with certainty whatever He promises, therefore by
"hope"; and finally by loving Him more than anyone else in the world,
therefore by "charity."
But someone may say, I think I love my parents more than God. Well, let us
see. Suppose your mother should command you to commit a sinful act (a thing no
good mother would do) and you have therefore to choose between offending her or
Almighty God. Now, although you love your mother very much, if in this
instance you prefer to displease her rather than commit the sin that offends
God, you show that you love God more than her. Again, many who dearly love
their parents leave them that they may consecrate their lives to the special
service of God in some religious community and thus prove their greater love
for Him. The love we have for God is intellectual rather than sentimental; and
since it is not measured by the intensity of our feelings, how are we to know
that we love Him best? By our determination never to offend Him for any person
or thing in the world, however dear to us, and by our readiness to obey and
serve Him before all others.
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic
Church, through which God speaks to us.
"Catholic Church" in this answer means the Pope, councils, bishops, and
priests who teach in the Church.
A. We shall find the chief truths which the Catholic Church teaches in the
"Chief " because the Apostlesī Creed does not contain in an explicit
manner all the truths we must believe. For example, there is nothing in the
Apostlesī Creed about the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, about the Immaculate
Conception of the Blessed Virgin, or the infallibility of the Pope; and yet we
must believe these and other articles of faith not in the Apostlesī Creed. It
contains only the "chief" and not all the truths.
A. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and
earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the
Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into Hell; the third day He arose
again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of
God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the
dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life
"Descend" means to go down, and "ascend" to go up.
A. God is a spirit infinitely perfect.
"A spirit" is a living, intelligent, invisible being. It really exists,
though we cannot see it with the eyes of our body. It has intelligence and can
therefore think, understand, etc. It is not because we cannot see it that we
call it a spirit. To be invisible is only one of the qualities of a spirit.
It is also indivisible, that is, it cannot be divided into parts. God is such
a being. He is "infinitely perfect," that is, He has every perfection
in the highest degree. "Infinite" means to have without limit. If there were
any perfection God did not have, He would not be infinite. He is unlimited in
wisdom, in power, in goodness, in beauty, etc. But you will tell me persons on
earth and the angels and saints in Heaven have some wisdom and power and
beauty, and therefore God cannot have all, since He has not the portion with
which they are endowed. I still say He is infinite, because what the angels
and others have belongs to God, and He only lends it to them. "Perfect"
means to be without any defect or fault.
A. God had no beginning; He always was and always will be.
Was there ever a time when we could say there was no God? There was a
time when we could say there was no Heaven or earth, no angels, men, or
animals; but there was never a time when there was no God. We may go back in
thought millions and millions of years before the Creation, and God was then
existing. He had no beginning and will never cease to exist. This is a
mystery; and what a mystery is will be explained in the next lesson.
A. God is everywhere.
"Everywhere" not spread out like a great cloud, but whole and entire in
every particular place: and yet there is only one God, and not as many gods as
there are places. How this can be we cannot fully understand, because this
also is a mystery. A simile, though it will not be perfect, may help you to
understand. When we speak of God, we can never give a true and perfect
example; for we cannot find anything exactly like Him to compare to Him. If I
discharge a great cannon in a city, every one of the inhabitants will hear the
report; not in such a way that each hearer gets his share of the sound, but
each hears the whole report, just as if he were the only one to hear it. Now,
how is that? There are not as many reports as there are persons listening; and
yet each person hears the whole report.
A. We do not see God because He is a pure spirit and cannot be seen with
"Pure spirit," that is, not clothed with any material body--spirit alone.
A. God sees us and watches over us.
"Watches" to protect, to reward or punish us. He watches continually;
He not only watches, but keeps us alive. God might have created us and then
paid no more attention to us; but if He had done so, we should have fallen back
again into nothingness. Therefore He preserves us every moment of our lives.
We cannot draw a breath without Him. If a steam engine be required to work
ceaselessly, you cannot, after setting it in motion, leave it henceforth
entirely to itsell You must keep up the supply of water and fire necessary for
the generation of steam, you must oil the machinery, guard against overheating
or cooling, and, in a word, keep a constant watch that nothing may interfere
with its motion.
So also God not only watches His creatures, but likewise provides for them.
Since we depend so much upon Him, is it not great folly to sin against Him, to
offend, and tempt Him as it were? There are some birds that build their nests
on the sides of great rocky precipices by the seacoast. Their eggs are very
valuable, and men are let down by long ropes to take them from the nest. Now
while one of these men is hanging over the fearful precipice, his life is
entirely in the hands of those holding the rope above. While he is in that
danger do you not think he would be very foolish to tempt and insult those on
whom his life depends, when they could dash him to pieces by simply dropping
the rope? While we live here upon earth we are all hanging over a great
precipice, namely, eternity; God holds us by the little thread of our lives,
and if He pleased to drop it we should be hurled into eternity. If we tempt or
insult Him, He might drop or cut the thread while we are in mortal sin, and
then, body and soul, we go down into Hell.
A. God knows all things, even our most secret thoughts, words, and
Certainly God "knows all things:ī First, because He is infinitely
wise, and if He were ignorant of anything He would not be so. Secondly,
because He is everywhere and sees and hears all. Darkness does not hide from
His view, nor noise prevent Him from hearing. How could we sin if we thought
of this! God is just here, looking at me and listening to me. Would I do what
I am going to do now if I knew my parents, relatives, and friends were watching
me? Would I like them to know that I am thinking about things sinful, and
preparing to do shameful acts? No! Why then should I feel ashamed to let God
see and know of this wicked thought or action? They might know it and yet be
unable to harm me, but He, all-powerful, could destroy me instantly. Nay,
more; not only will God see and know this evil deed or thought; but, by His
gift, the Blessed Mother, the angels and saints will know of it and be ashamed
of it before God, and, most of all, my guardian angel will deplore it.
Besides, this sin will be revealed to the whole world on the last day, and my
friends, relatives, and neighbors will know that I was guilty of it.
A. God can do all things, and nothing is hard or impossible to Him.
A. God is all just, all holy, all merciful, as He is infinitely perfect.
"All justī--that is, most just. "Just" means to give to everyone
what belongs to him-to reward if it is merited or to punish if it is deserved.
"Holy" that is, good. "Merciful" means compassionate, forgiving,
less exacting than severe justice demands. In a court a just judge is one who
listens patiently to all the arguments for and against the prisoner, and then,
comparing one with the other, gives the sentence exactly in accordance with the
guilt. If he inflicts more or less punishment than the prisoner deserves, or
for money or anything else gives an unfair sentence, then he is an unjust
judge. The judge might be merciful in this way. The laws say that for the
crime of which this prisoner is proved guilty he can be sent to prison for a
term not longer than ten years and not shorter than five: that is, for anything
between ten and five years. The judge could give him the full ten years that
the law allows and be just. But suppose he believed that the prisoner did not
know the law and did not intend to be as wicked as he was proved; or that it
was his first offense, or that he heard the prisonerīs mother, who was old and
infirm, pleading for him and saying he was her only support; or other
extenuating circumstances that could awaken sympathy: the judge might be
merciful and sentence him for the shortest term the law allows. But if the
judge dismissed every prisoner, no matter how guilty, without punishment, he
would not be a merciful but an unjust judge, who would soon be forced to leave
the court. In the same way, God is often merciful to sinners and punishes them
less than He could in strict justice. But if He were to allow every sinner to
go without any punishment whatsoever-as unbelievers say He should do, by having
no Hell for the wicked-then He would not be just. For as God is an Infinite
Being, all His perfections must be infinite; that is, He must be as infinitely
just as He is infinitely merciful, true, wise, or powerful.
Now He has promised to punish sin; and since He is infinitely true, He must
keep His promise.
A. Yes; there is but one God.
A. There can be but one God because God, being supreme and infinite, cannot
have an equal.
"Supreme" that is, the highest. "Equal" when two are equal one
has everything the other has. You could say one pen is the equal of another if
it is just as nice and will write just as well; one mechanic is the equal of
another if he can do the work equally well. Two boys are equal in class if
they have exactly the same marks at the end of the month or year. You could
not have two persons chief For example, you could not have two chief generals
in an army; two presidents in the nation, or two governors in a state, or two
mayors in a city, or two principals in a school, unless they divide equally
their power, and then they will be equals and neither of them chief. God
cannot divide His power with anyone-so as to give it away entirely-because we
say He is infinite, and that means to have all. Others have only the loan of
their power from God. Therefore, all power and authority come from God; so
that when we disobey our parents or superiors who are placed over us, we
disobey God Himself.
A. In God there are three divine persons really distinct and equal in
all things-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
"Distinct," not mingled together. We call the first and second persons
Father and Son, because the second is begotten by the first person, and not to
indicate that there is any difference in their age. We always see in the world
that a father is older than his son, so we get the idea perhaps that it is the
same in the Holy Trinity. But it is not so. God the Father, and God the Son,
and God the Holy Ghost existed from all eternity, and one did not exist before
the other. God the Son is just as old as God the Father, and this is another
great mystery. Even in nature we see that two things may begin to exist at the
same time, and yet one be the cause of the other. You know that fire is the
cause of heat; and yet the heat and the fire begin at the same time. Though we
cannot understand this mystery of the Father and Son, we must believe it on the
authority of God, who teaches it. First, second, and third person in the
Blessed Trinity does not mean, therefore, that one person was before the other,
or brought into existence by the other.
A. The Father is God and the first Person of the Blessed Trinity.
A. The Son is God and the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
A. The Holy Ghost is God and the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
A. By the Blessed Trinity I mean one God in three Divine Persons.
A. The three Divine Persons are equal in all things.
A. The three Divine Persons are one and the same God, having one and the
same divine nature and substance.
Though they are one and the same, we sometimes attribute different works
to them. For example, works of creation we attribute to God the Father; works
of mercy to God the Son; and works of love and sanctification to the Holy
Ghost; and you will often find them thus spoken of in pious books; but all such
works are ..done by all the Persons of the Trinity; because such works are the
works of God, and there is but one God.
A. We cannot fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the
same God, because this is a mystery.
"Fully"--entirely. We can partly understand it. We know what
one God is and we know what three persons are; but how these two things go
together is the part we do not understand-the mystery.
"A truth," that is, a revealed truth-one made known to us by God or His
Church. It is a truth which we must believe though we cannot understand it.
Let us take an example. When a boy goes to school he is taught that the earth
is round like an orange and revolving in two ways, one causing day and night
and the other producing the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. The boy
goes out into the country where he sees miles of level land and mountains
thousands of feet in height. Again he goes out on the ocean where sailors tell
him it is several miles in depth.
Now he may say: how can the earth be round if deep valleys, high mountains, and
level plains prove to my senses the very opposite, and the countless things at
rest upon its surface tell me it is motionless. Yet he believes even against
the testimony of his senses that the earth is round and moving, because
his-teacher could have no motive in deceiving him; knows better than he, having
learned more, and besides has been taught by others who after long years of
careful study and research have discovered these things and know them to be
true. If therefore we have to believe things that we do not understand on the
authority of men, why should we not believe other truths on the authority of
God? Yes, we must believe Him. If a boy knew all his teacher knew there would
be no need of his going to school; he would be the equal in knowledge of his
teacher, and if we knew all that God knows we would be as great as He. As well
might we try to empty the whole ocean into the tiny holes that children dig in
the sand by its shore, as fully to comprehend the wisdom of God. This is the
mistake unbelievers make when they wish to understand with their limited
intelligence the boundless knowledge and mysterious ways of God, and when they
cannot understand refuse to believe. Are they not extremely foolish? Would
you not ridicule the boy who refuses to believe that the earth is round and
moving because he cannot understand it? As he grows older and learns more he
will comprehend it better; so we, when we leave this world and come into the
presence of God, shall see clearly many things that are unintelligible now.
For the present, we have only to believe them on the authority of God teaching
us. Another example. We take two little black seeds that look just alike and
place them in the same kind of soil; we put the same kind of water upon them;
they have the same sunlight and air, and yet when they grow up one has a red
flower and one a blue. Where did the red and where did the blue come from?
From the black seed, or the brown soil, or the pure water, air and sunlight?
We do not know. It is there, and that is all. We see it and believe it,
though we do not understand it.
So if we refuse to believe everything we do not understand, we shall soon
believe very little and make ourselves ridiculous.
A. God created Heaven and earth, and all things.
"Heaven" where God is and will always be. It means, too, everything we
see in the sky above us. "Earth," the globe on which we live.
A. God created Heaven and earth from nothing, by His word only; that is, by
a single act of His all-powerful will.
A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.
A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in
"Angels" are not the same as saints. Saints are those who at one time
lived upon the earth as we do, and who on account of their very good lives are
now in Heaven. They had bodies as we have. The angels, on the contrary, never
lived visibly upon the earth. In the beginning God was alone. We take great
pleasure in looking at beautiful things. God, seeing His own beauty, and
knowing that others would have very great pleasure and happiness in seeing Him,
determined to create some beings who could enjoy this happiness; and thus He
wished to share with them the happiness which He Himself derived from seeing
His own beauty. Therefore He created angels who were to be in Heaven with Him,
singing His praises and worshipping before His throne.
The angels are not all equal in dignity, but are divided into nine classes, or
choirs, according to their rank or office, and, as theologians tell us,
arranged from the lowest to the highest and named as follows; angels,
archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominations, thrones, cherubim,
and seraphim. Archangels are higher than angels and are so called because sent
to do the most important works. It was the Archangel Michael who drove Lucifer
from Heaven and the Archangel Gabriel who announced to the Blessed Virgin that
she was to be the Mother of God. The angels receive their names from the
duties they perform. The word angel signifies messenger.
A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to
minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and
are also appointed our guardians.
The duties of the angels are many. Some remain always in Heaven with
God; some are sent to earth to be our guardians and to remain with us. Each of
us has an angel to take care of us. He is with us night and day, and offers
our prayers and good works to God. He prays for us, exhorts us to do good and
avoid evil; and he protects us from dangers spiritual and temporal. How
unfortunate then must one be to cause him to return to Heaven with sad
complaints to God; such as: "The one whom I have in charge will not obey Thy
laws or use the grace Thou sendest him: with all my efforts to save him, he
continues to do wrong" He will be doubly sad when he sees other angels
returning with good reports and receiving new graces for those whom God has
committed to their care. If you love your guardian angel, never impose on him
the painful duty of bringing to God the report of your evil doings.
Now, how do we know that the angels offer our prayers and good works to God?
We know it from the beautiful story of Tobias, told in the Holy Scripture.
(Tobias). This holy man loved and feared God. He lived at a time when his
people were persecuted by a most cruel king, who wished to force them to give
up the true God and worship idols, but many of these good people suffered death
rather than deny God and obey the wicked king. When they were put to death,
their bodies were left lying on the ground, to be devoured by birds of prey or
wild animals. Anyone caught burying them was to be put to death by the kingīs
servants. Tobias used to carry the dead bodies of these holy martyrs into his
house and bury them at night.
One day when he returned very tired he lay down by the wall of his house to
rest, and, while lying there, some dirt fell into his eyes and he became blind.
This Tobias had a young son whose name was also Tobias; and as he himself was
now blind and poor, he wished to send his son into a certain city, at a good
distance off, to collect some money that he had formerly loaned to a friend.
As the young man did not know the way, his father sent him out to look for a
guide. Young Tobias went out and found a beautiful young man to be his guide
and he consented, and he brought Tobias to the distant city. As they were on
their way they sat down by the bank of a river. Tobias went into the water
near the edge, and soon a great fish rushed at him. Tobias called to his
guide. The guide told him to take hold of the fish and drag it out upon the
shore. There they killed it, and kept part of its flesh for food and part for
medicine. Then they went on to the city, got the money and returned. The
guide told young Tobias to rub the part of the fish he had taken for medicine
upon his fatherīs eyes. He did so, and immediately his fatherīs eyes were
cured and he saw. Then both the father and son were so delighted with this
young guide, that they offered to give him half of all they had. He refused to
take it and then told them he was the angel Raphael sent from God to be the
guide of this good manīs son. He told the old Tobias how he (the angel) had
carried up to God his prayers and good works while he was burying the dead.
When they heard he was an angel they fell down and reverenced him, being very
much afraid. From this beautiful history we know that the angels carry our
prayers and good works to God. Again we learn from the Holy Scripture (Gen.
28) in the history of another good man almost the same thing. The
patriarch Jacob was on a journey, and being tired, he lay down to rest with his
head upon a stone. As he lay there he had a vision in which he saw a great
ladder reaching up from earth to Heaven. At the top he saw Almighty God
standing, and on the ladder itself angels ascending and descending. Now the
holy Fathers of the Church tell us this is what is really taking place; the
angels are always going down and up from God to man, though not on a ladder and
not visibly as they appeared to Jacob. Besides the guardian angel for each
person, there are also guardian angels for each city and for each nation.
Again (Gen. 19) angels appeared to Lot to warn him about the destruction
of the wicked cities of
shepherds on the night Our Lord was born (Luke 2). The catechism says
angels have no bodies-how, then, could they appear? They took bodies made of
some very light substance which would make them visible, and appeared just like
beautiful young men, clad in flowing garments, as you frequently see them
represented in pictures. Angels were sometimes sent to punish men for their
sins, as the angel who killed in one night 185,000 men in the army of the
wicked king, Sennacherib, who blasphemed God, and was endeavoring to destroy
But here is a difficulty. If God Himself watches over us and sees all things,
why should the angels guard us? It is on account of Godīs goodness to us;
though it is not necessary. He does not wish us to have any excuse for being
bad, so He gives us each a special heavenly servant to watch and assist us by
his prayers. If a friend received us into his house and did all he could for
us himself, we should certainly be satisfied, but if he gave us a special
servant, though it would not be necessary, he would show us great respect and
kindness. Moreover whatever the angels do for us, we might say God Himself
does, for the angels are only obeying His commands.
A. The angels as God created them were good and happy.
A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and
were cast into Hell; and these are called devils or bad angels.
God did not admit the angels into His presence at once. He placed them
for awhile on probation, as He did our first parents.
One of these angels was most beautiful, and was named Lucifer, which means
light-bearer. He was so perfect that he seems to have forgotten that he
received all his beauty and intelligence from God, and not content with what he
had, became sinfully proud and wished to be equal to God Himself. For his sin
he and all his followers were driven out of Heaven, and God then created Hell,
in which they were to suffer for all eternity. This same Lucifer is now called
Satan, and more commonly the devil, and those who accompanied him in his fall,
devils, or fallen angels.
A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.
In the beginning God created all things; something particular on each of
the six days of Creation. (Gen. 1). On the first day He made light, on
the second, the firmament, or the heavens, and on the sixth day He created man
and called him Adam. God wished Adam to have a companion; so one day He caused
Adam to fall into a deep sleep, and then took from his side a rib, out of which
he formed Eve. Now God could have made Eve as He made Adam, by forming her
body out of the clay of the earth and breathing into it a soul, but He made Eve
out of Adamīs rib to show that they were to be husband and wife, and to impress
upon their minds the nature and sacredness of the love and union that should
exist between them.
A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of
God placed Adam and Eve in
them power over all the other creatures. Adam gave all the animals their
appropriate names and they were obedient to him. Even lions, tigers, and other
animals that we now fear so much, came and played about him. Our first
parents, in their state of original innocence, were the happy friends of God,
without sorrow or suffering of any kind.
A. To try their obedience God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain
fruit which grew in the
He told them (Gen. 2) they could take of all the fruits in the
garden except the fruit of one tree, and if they disobeyed Him by eating the
fruit of that tree, they should surely die. God might have pointed out any
tree, because it was simply a test of obedience. He gave them a very simple
command, for if we are faithful in little things we shall surely be faithful in
greater. Moreover, it is not precisely the consideration of what is forbidden,
but of the authority by which it is forbidden that should deter us from
violating the command and prove our fidelity. Thus disobedience to our parents
and superiors, even in little things, becomes sinful. Someone might say: "Why
did God not try their obedience by one of the Ten Commandments?" Let us examine
them. "Remember the Sabbath." That one would be unnecessary: for every day was
Sabbath with them; the only work was to praise and serve God. "Thou shalt not
steal!ī They could not; everything was theirs; and so for the other
Commandments. Therefore, God gave them a simple command telling them: If you
obey, you and all your posterity will be happy; every wish will be gratified,
neither sorrow nor affliction shall come upon you and you shall never die; but
if, on the contrary, you disobey, countless evils, misery and death will be
your punishment. The earth, now so fruitful, shall bring forth no crops
without cultivation, and after years of toil the dead bodies of yourselves and
children must lie buried in its soil. So having the gift of free will they
could take their choice, and either keep His command and be happy, or disobey
Him and be miserable.
A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful
to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory
in the next.
Our first parents and their children were not to remain in the
probation upon earth, to be taken body and soul into Heaven without being
obliged to die.
A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His commandment by
eating the forbidden fruit.
As it is told in the Bible (Gen. 3), Eve went to the forbidden
tree and was standing looking at it, when the devil came in the form of a
serpent and, tempting, told her to take some of the fruit and eat. It does not
appear that she went and tasted the fruit of all the other trees and finally
came to this one, but rather that she went directly to the forbidden tree
first. Do we not sometimes imitate Eveīs conduct? As soon as we know a
certain thing is forbidden we are more strongly tempted to try it.
See, then, what caused Eveīs sin. She went into the dangerous occasion, and
was admiring the forbidden fruit when the tempter came. She listened to him,
yielded to his wicked suggestions, and sinned. So will it be with us if
through curiosity we desire to see or hear things forbidden; for once in the
danger the devil will soon be on hand to tempt us-not visibly indeed, for that
would alarm us and defeat his purpose, but invisibly, like our guardian angels;
for the devil is a fallen angel who still possesses all the characteristics of
an angel except goodness. But this is not all. Eve not only took and ate the
fruit herself, but induced Adam to do likewise. Most sinners imitate Eve in
that respect. Not satisfied with offending God themselves, they lead others
Why should the devil tempt us? God created man to be in Heaven, but the fallen
angels were jealous of man, and tempted him to sin so that he too should be
kept out of Heaven and might never enjoy what they lost; just as envious people
do not wish others to have what they cannot have themselves.
A. Adam and Eve on account of their sin lost innocence and holiness, and
were doomed to sickness and death.
They were innocent and holy because they were the friends of God and in
a state of grace, but by their sin they lost His grace and friendship.
"Doomed" means sentenced or condemned. The first evil result, then, of
Adamīs sin was that he lost innocence and made his body a rebel against his
soul. Then he was to suffer poverty, hunger, cold, sickness, death, and every
kind of ill; but the worst consequence of all was that God closed Heaven
against him. After a few yearsī trial, as we said, God was to take him into
Heaven; but now He has closed it against Adam and his posterity. All the
people in the world could never induce God to open it again; for He closed it
in accordance with His promise, and man was an exile and outcast from his
A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents we all share
in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if
they had remained faithful.
Does it not seem strange that we should suffer for the sin of our first
parents, when we had nothing to do with it? No. It happens every day that
children suffer for the faults of their parents and we do not wonder at it.
Let us suppose a manīs father leaves him a large fortune-houses, land, and
money-and that he and his children are happy in the enjoyment of their
inheritance. The children are sent to the best schools, have everything they
desire now, and bright hopes of happiness and prosperity in the future. But
alas! their hopes are vain. The father begins to drink or gamble, and soon the
great fortune is squandered. House after house is sold and dollar after dollar
spent, till absolute poverty comes upon the children, and the sad condition of
their home tells of their distress. Do they not suffer for the sins of their
father, though they had nothing to do with them? Indeed, many families in the
world suffer thus through the faults of others, and most frequently of some of
their members. Could you blame the grandfather for leaving the estate?
Certainly not; for it was goodness on his part that made him give. Let us
apply this example. What God gave Adam was to be ours also, and he squandered
and misused it because he had free will, which God could not take from him
without changing his nature; for it is our free will and intelligence that make
us men, distinct from and superior to all other animals. They can live, grow,
feel, hear, see, etc., as we can, but the want of intelligence and free will
leaves them mere brutes. Therefore, if God took away Adamīs intelligence and
free will, He would have made him a mere animal-though the most perfect.
When a man becomes insane or loses the use of his intelligence and free will,
we place him in an asylum and take care of him as we would a tame animal,
seldom allowing him to go about without being watched and guarded.
Let us take another example. Suppose I have a friend who is addicted to the
excessive drinking of strong liquor, and I say to him: "If you give up that
detestable habit for one year, I will make you a present of this beautiful
house worth several thousand dollars. It will be yours as long as you live,
and at your death you may leave it to your children. I do not owe you
anything, but offer this as a free gift if you comply with my request:ī My
friend accepts the offer on these conditions, but the very next day
deliberately breaks his promise. I do not give him the house, because he did
not keep his agreement; and can anyone say on that account that I am unjust or
unkind to him or his children? Certainly not. Well, God acted in the same
manner with Adam. He promised him Heaven, a home more beautiful than any
earthly palace the place Our Lord calls His fatherīs house (John 14:2)
and says there are many mansions, that is, dwelling places, in it. God
promised this home to Adam on condition that he would observe one simple
command. He had no right to Heaven, but was to receive it, according to the
promise, as a free gift from God, and therefore God, who offered it
conditionally, was not obliged to give it when Adam violated his part of the
The example is not a perfect one, for there is this difference in the cases
between Adam and my friend: when my friend does not get the house, he sustains
a loss, it is true; but he might still be my friend as he was before, and live
in my house; but when Adam lost Heaven, he lost Godīs friendship and grace, and
the loss of all grace is to be in sin. So that Adam by breaking the command
was left in sin; and as all his children sustain the same loss, they too are
all left in sin till they are baptized.
A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened
our understanding, weakened our will, and left us a strong inclination to
Our "nature was corrupted" is what I have said of the body
rebelling against the soul. Our "understanding darkened:" Adam knew
much more without study than the most intelligent men could learn now with
constant application. Before his fall he saw things clearly and understood
them well, but after his sin everything had to be learned by the slow process
of study. Then the "will was weakened:" Before he fell he could easily
resist temptation, for his will was strong. You know we sin by the will,
because unless we wish to do the evil we commit no sin; and if absolutely
forced by others to do wrong, we are free from the guilt as long as our will
despises and protests against the action. If forced, for example, to break my
neighborīs window, I have not to answer in my conscience for the unjust act,
because my will did not consent. So, on every occasion on which we sin, it is
the will that yields to the temptation. After Adamīs sin his will became weak
and less able to resist temptation; and as we are sharers in his misfortune, we
find great difficulty at times in overcoming sinful inclinations. But no
matter how violent the temptation or how prolonged and fierce the struggle
against it, we can always be victorious if determined not to yield; for God
gives us sufficient grace to resist every temptation; and if anyone should
excuse his fall by saying he could not help sinning, he would be guilty of
"A strong inclination" to do wrong-that is, unless always on our guard
against it. Our Lord once cautioned His Apostles (Matt. 26:41) to watch
and pray lest they fall into temptation; teaching us also by the same warning
that, besides praying against our spiritual enemies, we must watch their
maneuvers and be ever ready to repel their attacks.
A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called Original
A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first
parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our souls.
A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us after
Original Sin is forgiven.
It remains that we may merit by overcoming its temptations; and also
that we may be kept humble by remembering our former sinful and unhappy state.
A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her divine Son, was
preserved free from the guilt of Original Sin, and this privilege is called her
The Blessed Virgin was to be the Mother of the Son of God. Now it would
not be proper for the Mother of God to be even for one moment the servant of
the devil, or under his power. If the Blessed Virgin had been in Original Sin,
she would have been in the service of the devil. Whatever disgraces a mother
disgraces also her son; so Our Lord would never permit His dear Mother to be
subject to the devil, and consequently He, through His merits, saved her from
Original Sin. She is the only one of the whole human race who enjoys this
great privilege, and it is called her "Immaculate Conception," that is,
she was conceived-brought into existence by her mother-without having any spot
or stain of sin upon her soul, and hence without Original Sin.
Our Lord came into the world to crush the power which the devil had exercised
over men from the fall of Adam. This He did by meriting grace for them and
giving them this spiritual help to withstand the devil in all his attacks upon
them. As the Blessed Mother was never under the devilīs power, next to God she
has the greatest strength against him, and she will help us to resist him if we
seek her aid. The devil himself knows her power and fears her, and if he sees
her coming to our assistance will quickly fly. Never fail, then, in time of
temptation to call upon our Blessed Mother; she will hear and help you and pray
to God for you.
A. Original Sin is not the only kind of sin; there is another kind of sin
which we commit ourselves, called actual sin.
Sin is first or chiefly divided into original and actual; that is, into
the sin we inherit from our first parents and the sin we commit ourselves. We
may commit "actual" sin in two ways; either by doing what we should not
do-stealing, for example-and thus we have a sin of commission, that is, a bad
act committed; or by not doing what we should do-not hearing Mass on Sunday,
for example-and thus we have a sin of omission, that is, a good act omitted.
So it is not enough to simply do no harm, we must also do some good. Heaven is
a reward, and we must do something to merit it. Suppose a man employed a boy
to do the work of his office, and when he came in the morning found that the
boy had neglected the work assigned to him, and when spoken to about it simply
answered: "Sir, I did no harm"; do you think he would be entitled to his wages?
Of course he did not and should do no harm; but is his employer to pay him
wages for that? Certainly not. In like manner, God is not going to reward us
for doing no harm; but on the contrary, He will punish us if we do wrong, and
give no reward unless we perform the work He has marked out for us. Neither
would the office boy deserve any wages if he did only what pleases himself, and
not the work assigned by his master. In the same way, God will not accept any
worship or religion but the one He has revealed. He tells us Himself how He
wishes to be worshipped, and our own invented methods will not please Him.
Hence we see the folly of those who say that all religions are equally good,
and that we can be saved by practicing any of them. We can be saved only in
the one religion which God Himself has instituted, and by which He wishes to be
honored. Many also foolishly believe, or say they believe, that if they are
honest, sober, and the like, doing no injury to anyone, they shall be saved
without the practice of any form of religious worship. But how about Godīs
laws and commands? Are they to be despised, disregarded, and neglected
entirely, without any fear of punishment? Surely not! And persons who thus
think they are doing no harm are neglecting to serve God-the greatest harm they
can do, and for which they will lose Heaven. God, we are told, assigned to
everyone in this world a certain work to perform in a particular state of life,
and this work is called "vocation." One, for instance, is to be a priest;
another, a layman; one married; another single, etc. It is important for us to
discover our true vocation; for if we are in the state of life to which God has
called us, we shall be happy; but if we select our own work, our own state of
life without consulting Him, we shall seldom be happy in it. How are we to
know our vocation? Chiefly by praying to God and asking Him to make it known
to us. Then if He gives us a strong inclination-constant, or nearly
constant-for a certain state of life, and the ability to fulfill its duties, we
may well believe that God wishes us to be in that state.
After we have begged Godīs assistance, we must ask our confessorīs advice in
the matter, and listen attentively to what the Holy Ghost inspires him to say.
The signs of our vocation are, therefore, as stated: first, a strong desire,
and second, an aptitude for the state to which we believe we are called. For
example, a young man might be very holy, but if unable to learn, he could never
be a priest. Another might be very learned and holy, but if too sickly to
perform a priestīs duties, he could not, or at least would not, be ordained.
Another might be learned and healthy, but not virtuous, and so he could never
be a priest. Aptitude, therefore, means all the qualities necessary, whether
of mind, or soul, or body. The same is true for a young girl who wishes to
become a religious; and the same, indeed, for any personīs vocation. We should
never enter a state of life to which we are not called, simply to please
parents or others. Neither should we be persuaded by them to give up a state
to which we are called; for we should embrace our true vocation at any
sacrifice, that in it we may serve God better, and be more certain of saving
our souls. Thus, parents and guardians who prevent their children from
entering the state to which they are called may sin grievously by exposing them
to eternal loss of salvation. Their sin is all the greater when they try to
influence their children in this matter for selfish or worldly motives. As
they may be selfish and prejudiced without knowing it, they too, should ask the
advice of their confessor, and good persons of experience. Oh! how many
children, sons and daughters, are made unhappy all the days of their life by
parents or superiors forcing them into some state to which they were not
called, or by keeping them from one to which they were called. This matter of
your vocation rests with yourselves and Almighty God, and you are free to do
what He directs without consideration for anyone.
A. Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to
the law of God.
Three ways we may sin, by "thought"--allowing our minds to dwell
on sinful things; "word"--by cursing, telling lies, etc.;
"deed"--by any kind of bad action. But to be sins, these thoughts,
words and deeds must be willful; that is, we must fully know what we are doing,
and be free in doing it. Then they must be "contrary to the law of God";
that is, violate some law He commands us to obey, whether it be a law He
gave directly Himself, or through His Church. We can also violate Godīs law by
neglecting to observe it, and thus sin, provided the neglect be willful, and
the thing neglected commanded by God or by His Church.
A. There are two kinds of actual sin-mortal and venial.
"Mortal," that is, the sin which kills the soul. When a man receives a
very severe wound, we say he is mortally wounded; that is, he will die from the
wound. As breath shows there is life in the body, so grace is the life of the
soul; when all the breath is out of the body, we say the man is dead. He can
perform no action to help himself or others. So when all grace is out of the
soul we say it is dead, because it is reduced to the condition of a dead body.
It can do no action worthy of merit, such as a soul should do; that is, it can
do no action that God is bound to reward-it is dead. But you will say the soul
never dies. You mean it will never cease to exist; but we call it dead when it
has lost all its power to do supernatural good.
"Venial" sin does not drive out all the grace; it wounds the soul, it
weakens it just as slight wounds weaken the body. If it falls very frequently
into venial sin, it will fall very soon into mortal sin also; for the Holy
Scripture says that he that contemneth small things shall fall by little and
little. (Ecclus. 19:1). A venial sin seems a little thing, but if we do
not avoid it we shall by degrees fall into greater, or mortal, sin. Venial sin
makes God less friendly to us and displeases Him. Now if we really love God,
we will not displease Him even in the most trifling things.
A. Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.
"Grievous" that is, very great or serious. "Against the law." If
we are in doubt whether anything is sinful or not, we must ask ourselves: is it
forbidden by God or His Church? and if we do not know of any law forbidding it,
it cannot be a sin, at least for us.
Suppose, for example, a boy should doubt whether it is sinful or not to fly a
kite. Well, is there any law of God or of His Church saying it is sinful to
fly a kite? If not, then it cannot be a sin. But it might be sinful for
another reason, namely, his parents or superiors might forbid it, and there is
a law of God saying you must not disobey your parents or superiors. Therefore
a thing not sinful in itself, that is, not directly forbidden by God or His
Church, may become sinful for some other reason well known to us.
We must not, however, doubt concerning the sinfulness or lawfulness of
everything we do; for that would be foolish and lead us to be scrupulous. If
we doubt at all we should have some good reason for doubting, that is, for
believing that the thing we are about to do is or is not forbidden. When,
therefore, we have such a doubt we must seek information from those who can
enlighten us on the subject, so that we may act without the danger of sinning.
It is our intention that makes the act we perform sinful or not. Let me
explain. Suppose during Lent a person should mistake Friday for Thursday and
should eat meat-that person would not commit a real sin, because it is not a
sin to eat meat on an ordinary Thursday. He would commit what we call a
material sin; that is, his action would be a sin if he really knew what he was
doing. On the other hand, if the person, thinking it was Friday when it was
really Thursday, ate meat, knowing it to be forbidden, that person would commit
a mortal sin, because he intended to do so. Therefore, if what we do is not
known to be a sin while we do it, it is no sin for us and cannot become a sin
afterwards. But as soon as we know or learn that what we did was wrong, it
would be a sin if we did the same thing again. In the same way, everything we
do thinking it to be wrong or sinful is wrong and sinful for us, though it may
not be wrong for those who know better. Again, it is sinful to judge others
for doing wrong, because they may not know that what they do is sinful. It
would be better for us to instruct than to blame them. The best we can do,
therefore, is to learn well all Godīs laws and the laws of His Church as they
are taught in the catechism, so that we may know when we are violating them or
when we are not, i.e., when we are sinning and when we are not.
A. This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life, which
is sanctifying grace. and brings everlasting death and damnation on the
When the soul is sent to Hell it is dead forever, because never again
will it be able to do a single meritorious act.
A. To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter,
sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.
"Grievous matter." To steal is a sin. Now, if you steal only a pin the
act of stealing in that case could not be a mortal sin, because the "matter,"
namely, the stealing of an ordinary pin, is not grievous. But suppose it was a
diamond pin of great value, then it would surely be "grievous matter."
"Sufficient reflection," that is, you must know what you are doing at
the time you do it. For example, suppose while you stole the diamond pin you
thought you were stealing a pin with a small piece of glass, of little value,
you would not have sufficient reflection and would not commit a mortal sin till
you found out that what you had stolen was a valuable diamond; if you continued
to keep it after learning your mistake, you would surely commit a mortal sin.
"Full consent:ī Suppose you were shooting at a target and accidentally
killed a man: you would not have the sin of murder, because you did not will or
wish to kill a man.
Therefore three things are necessary that your act may be a mortal sin:
A. Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less
importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed
without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.
"Slight ī " that is, a small offense or fault; called
"venial," not because it is not a sin, but because God pardons it more
willingly or easily than He does a mortal sin. "Less importance;" like
stealing an ordinary, common pin. "Great importance;ī like stealing a
diamond pin. Without "reflection" or "consent," when you did not
know it was a diamond and did not intend to steal a diamond.
A. The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our
heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to
resist mortal sin.
"Lessening of the love;" because it lessens grace, and grace increases
the love of God in us. It displeases God, and though we do not offend Him very
greatly, we still offend Him. "Weakening of the power to resist:ī If a
man is wounded, it will be easier to kill him than if he is in perfect health.
So mortal sin will more easily kill a soul already weakened by the wounds of
A. The chief sources of sin are seven: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger,
Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth; and they are commonly called capital sins.
A "source" is that from which anything else comes. The source of
a river is the little spring on the Mountainside where the river first begins.
This little stream runs down the mountain, and as it goes along gathers
strength and size from other little streams running into it. It cuts its way
through the meadows, and marks the course and is the beginning of a great
river, sweeping all things before it and carrying them off to the ocean. Now,
if someone in the beginning had stopped up the little spring on the
mountain-the first source of the river-there would have been no river in that
particular place. It is just the same with sin. There is one sin that is the
source, and as it goes along like the stream it gathers strength; other sins
follow it and are united with it. Again: each of these "capital sins,"
as they are called, is like a leader or a captain in an army, with so many
others under him and following him. Now, if you take away the head, the other
members of the body will perish; so if you destroy the capital sin, the other
sins that follow it will disappear also. Very few persons have all the capital
sins: some are guilty of one of them, some of two, some of three, but few if
any are guilty of them all. The one we are guilty of, and which is the cause
of all our other sins, is called our predominant sin or our ruling
passion. We should try to find it out, and labor to overcome it.
Every one of these capital sins has a great many other sins following it.
"Pride" is an inordinate self-esteem. Pride comes under the First
Commandment; because by thinking too much of ourselves we neglect God, and give
to ourselves the honor due to Him. Of what have we to be proud? Of our
personal appearance? Disease may efface in one night every trace of beauty.
Of our clothing? It is not ours; we have not produced it; most of it is taken
from the lower animals-wool from the sheep, leather from the ox, feathers from
the bird, etc. Are we proud of our wealth, money or property? These may be
stolen or destroyed by fire. The learned may become insane, and so we have
nothing to be proud of but our good works. All that we have is from God, and
we can have it only as long as He wishes. We had nothing coming into the
world, and we leave it with nothing but the shroud in which we are buried; and
even this does not go with the soul, but remains with the body to rot in the
earth. Soon after death our bodies become so offensive that even our dearest
friends hasten to place them under ground, where they become the food of worms,
a mass of corruption loathsome to sight and smell. Why, then, should we be so
proud of this body, and commit so much sin for it, pamper it with every
delicacy, only to be the food of worms? This does not mean, however, that we
are not to keep our bodies clean, and take good care of them. We are bound to
do so, and could not neglect it without committing sin. The one thing to be
avoided is taking too much care of them, and neglecting our soul and God on
their account. The followers of pride are: conceit, hypocrisy, foolish
display in dress or conduct, harshness to others, waste of time on ourselves,
etc. "Covetousness," the same as avarice, greed, etc., is an inordinate
desire for worldly goods. "Inordinate;" because it is not avarice to
prudently provide for the future either for ourselves or others. Covetousness
comes under the Tenth Commandment, and is forbidden by it. We must be content
with what we have or can get honestly. The followers of covetousness
are: Want of charity, dishonest dealing, theft, etc. "Lust" is the
desire for sins of the flesh; for impure thoughts, words, or actions. It comes
under the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, and includes all that is forbidden by
those Commandments. It is the habit of always violating, or of desiring to
violate, the Sixth and Ninth Commandments. Lust and impurity mean the same
thing. The followers of lust are, generally, neglect of prayer, neglect
of the Sacraments, and final loss of faith.
"Anger" comes under the Fifth Commandment. It is followed by hatred,
the desire of revenge, etc.
"Gluttony" is the sin of eating or drinking too much. With regard to
eating, it is committed by eating too often; by being too particular about what
we eat, by being too extravagant in always looking for the most costly things,
that we think others cannot have. With regard to drinking, it is generally
committed by taking too much of intoxicating liquors. The drunkard is a
glutton and commits the sin of gluttony every time he becomes intoxicated.
Gluttony, especially in drink, comes in a manner under the First Commandment,
because by depriving ourselves of our reason we cannot give God the honor and
respect which is His due. Think of how many sins the drunkard commits. He
becomes intoxicated, which in itself is a sin. He deprives himself of the use
of reason, abuses Godīs great gift, and becomes like a brute beast. Indeed in
a way he becomes worse than a beast; for beasts always follow the laws that God
has given to their nature, and never drink to excess. They obey God, and man
is the only one of Godīs creatures that does not always keep His laws. Think
too of the number of insane persons confined in asylums, who would give all in
this world for the use of their reason, if they could only understand their
miserable condition. Yet the drunkard abuses the gift that would make these
poor unfortunate lunatics happy. Again, the drunkard injures his health and
thus violates the Fifth Commandment by committing a kind of slow suicide. He
loses self-respect, makes use of sinful language; frequently neglects Mass and
all his religious duties, exposes himself to the danger of death while in a
state of sin, gives scandal to his family and neighbors, and by his bad example
causes some to leave or remain out of the true Church. By continued
intemperance, he may become insane and remain in that condition till death puts
an end to his career and he goes unprepared before the judgment seat of God.
Besides all this he squanders the money he should put to a better use and turns
Godīs gifts into a means of offending Him. If a father, he neglects the
children and wife for whom he has promised to provide; leaves them cold and
hungry while he commits sin with the means that would make them comfortable.
Drunkenness therefore is a sin accompanied by many deplorable evils. There are
three great sins you should always be on your guard against during your whole
lives, namely, drunkenness, dishonesty, and impurity. If you avoid these you
will almost surely avoid all other sins; for nearly all sins can be traced back
to these three. They are the most dangerous, first, because they have most
followers, and secondly, because they grow upon us almost without our knowing
it. The drunkard begins perhaps as a boy by taking a little, even very little;
the second time he takes a little more; the next time still more, then he
begins to be fond of strong drink and can scarcely do without it; finally he
becomes the slave of intemperance and sells his soul and body for it. The
passions of dishonesty and impurity grow by degrees in the same manner.
Therefore avoid them in the beginning and resist them while they are under your
power. If you find yourself inclined to any of these sins in your youth, stop
them at once.
"Envy" is the desire to see another meet with misfortune that we may be
benefited by it. We are glad when he does not succeed in his business, we are
sorry when anyone speaks well of him, etc. Envy comes under the Eighth
"Sloth" is committed when we idle our time, and are lazy; when we are
indifferent about serving God; when we do anything slowly and poorly and in a
way that shows we would rather not do it. They are slothful who lie in bed
late in the morning and neglect their duty. Slothful people are often untidy
in their personal appearance; and they are nearly always in misery and want,
unless somebody else takes care of them. Sloth comes under the First
Commandment, because it has reference in a special manner to the way in which
we serve God. How, then, shall we best destroy sin in our souls? By finding
out our chief capital sin and rooting it out. If a strong oak tree is deeply
rooted in the ground, how will you best destroy its life? By cutting off the
branches? No. For with each returning spring new branches will grow. How
then? By cutting the root and then the great oak with all its branches will
die. In the same way our capital sin is the root, and as long as we leave it
in our souls other sins will grow out of it. While we are trying to destroy
our sins without touching our capital sin-our chief sin-we are only cutting off
branches that will grow again. Indeed a great many people are only cutting off
branches all the time and that is why they are not benefited as much as they
could be by the prayers they say, Masses they hear, Sacraments they receive,
and sermons they listen to. But do not imagine that because you are not
becoming better, when you pray, hear Mass, and receive the Sacraments, you are
doing no good at all. That would be a great mistake, and just such a thing as
the devil would suggest to make persons give up their devotions. What is the
use, he might say, of your trying to be good? You are just as bad as you were
a year ago. Do not listen to that temptation. Were it not for your prayers
and your reception of the Sacraments, you would become a great deal worse than
you are. Suppose a man is rowing on the river against a very strong tide. He
is rowing as hard as he can and yet he is not advancing one foot up the stream.
Is he doing nothing therefore? Ah! he is doing a great deal: he is preventing
himself from being carried with the current out into the ocean. He is keeping
himself where he is till the force of the tide diminishes, and then he can
advance. So they who are trying to be good are struggling against the strong
tide of temptation. If they cease to struggle against it, they will be carried
out into the great ocean of sin and lost forever. Someday the temptation will
grow weaker and then they will be able to advance towards Heaven. We feel
temptations most when we are trying to resist them and lead good lives, because
we are working against our evil inclinations-the strong tide of our passions.
We have no trouble going with them.
A. God did not abandon man after he fell into sin, but promised him a
Redeemer, who was to satisfy for manīs sin and reopen to him the gates of
"Abandon" means to leave to oneīs self. Adam and his posterity were
slaves, but God took pity on them. He did not leave them to themselves, but
promised to help them.
"Gates of Heaven:" Heaven has no gates, because it is not built of
material-of stone, or iron, or wood. It is only our way of speaking; just as
we say "hand of God,ī although He has no hands. Heaven is the magnificent home
God has prepared for us, and its gates are His power by which He keeps us out
or lets us in as He pleases. Our Lord, therefore, obtained admittance for us.
A. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind.
A. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second Person
of the Blessed Trinity, true God and true man.
"True God:" He was true God equal to His Father from all eternity. He
became man when He came upon the earth about 2,000 years ago, and was born on
Christmas Day. Now He is in Heaven as God and man. Therefore, He was God
always, but man only from the time of His Incarnation.
A. Jesus Christ is true God because He is the true and only Son of God the
God the Father, first Person of the Blessed Trinity, is His real Father,
care of Our Lord and watch over Him while on earth. A foster-father is not the
same as a stepfather. A stepfather is a second father that one gets when his
real father dies. A foster-father is one who takes a person, whether a
relative or a stranger, and adopts him as his son.
It was a very great honor for St. Joseph to be selected from among all men to
take care of the Son of God; to carry in his arms the great One of whom the
prophets spoke; the One for whom the whole world longed during so many thousand
years; so that next to our Blessed Mother St. Joseph deserves our greatest
A. Jesus Christ is true man because He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, and has a body and soul like ours.
He has all that we have by nature, but not the things we have acquired
such as deformities, imperfections, and the like. Everything in Our Lord was
perfect. Above all, He had no sin of any kind; nor even inclination to sin.
He could be hungry, as He was when He fasted forty days in the desert.
(Matt. 4:2). He was thirsty, as He said on the Cross. (John
19:28). He could be wearied; as we read in the Holy Scripture (John
4:6) that He sat down by a well to rest, while His disciples went into the
city to buy food. All these sufferings come from our very nature. We say a
thing comes from our very nature when everybody has it. Now, everyone in the
world may at times be hungry, thirsty, or tired; but everybody in the world
need not have a toothache or headache, because such things are not common to
human nature, but due to some defect in our body; and such defects Our Lord did
not have, because He was a perfect man. Therefore, Our Lord had a body like
ours, not as it usually is with defects, but as it should be, perfect in all
things that belong to its nature, as Adamīs was before he sinned.
A. In Jesus Christ there are two natures: the nature of God and the nature
He was perfect God and perfect man. His human nature was under the full
power of His divine nature, and could not do anything contrary to His divine
will. You cannot understand how there can be two natures and two wills in one
person, because it is another of the great mysteries; but you must believe it,
just as you believe there are three Persons in one God, though you do not
understand it. Those who learn theology and study a great deal may understand
it better than you, but never fully. It will be enough, therefore, for you to
remember and believe that there are two natures-the divine nature and the human
nature-in the one person of Our Lord.
A. No, Jesus Christ is but one Divine Person.
"But one;" so that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of
God, the Messias, Christ, Jesus, Our Lord, Our Saviour, Our Redeemer, etc., are
all names for the one Person; and, besides these, there are many other names
given to Our Lord in the Holy Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments.
A. Jesus Christ was always God, as He is the Second Person of the Blessed
Trinity, equal to His Father from all eternity.
A. Jesus Christ was not always man, but became man at the time of His
A. By the Incarnation I mean that the Son of God was made man.
A. The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy Ghost,
in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A. The Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God, because the same
Divine Person who is the Son of God is also the Son of the Blessed Virgin
A. The Son of God did not become man immediately after the sin of our first
parents, but He was promised to them as a Redeemer.
God did not say to Adam when He would send the Redeemer, and so the
Redeemer did not come for about 4,000 years after He was first promised.
God permitted this long time to elapse in order that mankind might feel and
know how great an evil sin is, and what misery it brought upon the world.
During these 4,000 years men were becoming gradually worse. At one time-about
1,600 years after Adamīs sin they became so bad that God destroyed by a deluge,
or great flood of water, all persons and living things upon the earth, except
Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and the animals they had in the
ark with them. (Gen. 6). Let me now give you more particulars about
this terrible punishment. After God determined to destroy all living things on
account of the wickedness of men, He told Noah, who was a good man, to build a
great ark, or ship, for himself and his family, and for some of all the living
creatures upon the earth. (Gen. 6). When the ark was ready, Noah and
his family went into it, and the animals that were to be saved came by Godīs
power, and two by two were taken into the ark. Besides the two of each kind of
animals, Noah was required to take with him five more of each kind of clean
animals. Clean animals were certain animals which, according to Godīs law,
could be offered in sacrifice or eaten; they were such animals as the ox, the
sheep, the goat, etc. Therefore, seven of each of the clean animals, and two
of each of the other kinds. Why did He have seven clean animals? two were to
be set free upon the dry earth with the other animals, and the other five were
for food and sacrifice. Noah spent a hundred years in making the ark. At that
time men lived much longer than they do now. Adam lived over 900 years and
Mathusala, the oldest man, lived to be 969 years old. There are many reasons
why men live a shorter time now than then. When the door of the ark was
closed, God sent a great rain that lasted for forty days and forty nights. All
the springs of water broke forth, and all the rivers and lakes overflowed their
banks. Men ran here And there to high places, while the water rose higher and
higher till it covered the tops of the mountains, and all not in the ark were
drowned. The big ark floated about for about a year; for although it stopped
raining after forty days, just think of the quantity of water that must have
fallen! Think of the rain what would fall during the whole of Lent from Ash
Wednesday to Easter Sunday-forty days. It took a long time, therefore, for the
waters to go down and finally disappear. When the waters began to go down,
Noah, wishing to know if any land was as yet above the water, opened the little
window, and sent out a raven or crow over the waters. The raven did not come
back, because it is a bird that eats flesh, and it found plenty of dead bodies
to feed upon. Then Noah sent out a dove, and the dove came back with the bough
of an olive tree in its mouth. From this Noah knew that the earth was becoming
dry again. After some days, the ark rested on the top of a mountain named
Ararat. When all the waters had dried up, Noah and his family and all the
animals passed out of the ark. He offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and he
and his family settled once more upon the earth. For a while, the descendants
of Noah were good, but when they became numerous they soon forgot the deluge
and its punishments, and became very wicked. Many forgot the true God
altogether, and began to worship the sun, moon, and stars. Some worshipped
animals, and others idols of wood or stone. They offered up human victims and
committed all kinds of sins most displeasing to God. Many were in slavery;
masters were cruel; and things were becoming daily worse, till just before the
coming of Our Lord the world was in a terrible condition of misery and sin.
The lawmakers tried to remedy these evils by their laws, and the teachers and
professors by their teaching; but all was of no avail. God Himself must save
God gave many promises of the Redeemer. The first one was given in the garden
to our first parents. God said (Gen. 3:15) to the serpent: I will put
enmities, that is hatred, between thee and the woman; that is, between the
devil and the Blessed Virgin-whom the holy writers call the second Eve; because
as the first Eve caused our fall, the second Eve helped us to rise again. I
will put also a great hatred between the devil and your Redeemer. The next
promise of the Redeemer was made to Abraham. (Gen. 15). Another was
made to Isaac, and another to Jacob; and later these promises were frequently
renewed through the prophets; so that during the four thousand years God
encouraged the good people, by promising from time to time the Redeemer.
Some of the prophets foretold to what family He would belong, and when He would
be born, and when and what He would suffer, and how He would die. They also
foretold signs or things that would come to pass just before the advent or
coming of the Messias (Gen. 49:10); so that when the people saw these
things coming to pass, they could know that the time of the Messias was at
hand. Thus when Our Lord came, the whole world was waiting and looking for the
promised Redeemer, because the signs foretold had appeared or were taking
place. But the majority did not recognize Our Lord when He came, on account of
the quiet, humble, and poor way in which He came. They were expecting to see
the Redeemer come as a great and powerful king, with mighty armies conquering
the world; and in this they were mistaken. If they had studied the Holy
Scriptures they would have learned how He was to come-poor and humble.
A. They who lived before the Son of God became man could be saved by
believing in the Redeemer to come, and by keeping the Commandments.
We have seen that God promised the Redeemer during four thousand years.
Now, those who believed these promises and kept all Godīs Commandments, and
observed all His laws as they knew them, could be saved. They could not, it is
true, enter into Heaven after their death, but they could wait in Limbo without
suffering till Our Lord opened Heaven for them. They were saved only through
the merits of Our Lord. And how could this be when Our Lord was not yet born?
Do you know what a promissory note is? It is this. When a man is not able to
pay his debts just now but will be able afterwards, he gives those to whom he
owes the money a promissory note, that is, a written promise that he will pay
at a certain time. Now, those who died before Our Lord was born had the Holy
Scripture promising that Christ would pay for them and for their sins when He
would come. So God saved them on account of this promise and kept them free
from suffering till Our Lord came. If any died when they were little infants,
their parents answered for them as godfathers and godmothers do now for infants
A. The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day-the day on
which the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be
the Mother of God.
"Annunciation Day" is the 25th of March. You can easily remember that
feast. Everybody knows that St. Patrickīs Day is on the 17th of March, and
therefore eight days after it comes Annunciation day. There is another feast
coming in between them, the feast of
Therefore it is easy to remember these three feasts coming all in March and
almost together. Annunciation is the name given to that day after the angel
came, but it was not called so before. Annunciation means to tell or make
known, and this is the day the angel made known to the Blessed Virgin that she
was selected for the high office of Mother of God. The Blessed Virgin was
expecting the Messias, and was probably praying for His speedy arrival, as were
the rest of her people, when suddenly the angel came and said: Hail, full of
grace. (See Hail Mary Expl.).
A. Christ was born on Christmas Day in a stable at Bethlehem, over nineteen
hundred years ago.
"Christmas Day" is the 25th of December, one week before the New Year.
It is called Christmas Day since the time Our Lord was born, over nineteen
hundred years ago. "In a stable at
birth is in every way a very sad one. The Blessed Virgin and
in Palestine-called also the
was the country where Godīs people, the Jews, lived, and at the time we are
speaking of, it was under the power of the Roman Emperor, who had his soldiers
and governor there. He wished to find out how many people were there, and so
he ordered a census or count of the people to be made. (Luke 2). We
take the census very differently now from what they did then. We in the United
States, by order of the government, send men around from house to house to
write down the names; but in Palestine, when they wanted the number of the
people, everyone, no matter where he lived, had to go to the city or town where
his forefathers had lived and there register his name with all the others who
belonged to the same tribe or family. Now, the forefathers of
the Blessed Virgin belonged to the little town of
they had to leave
This was shortly before Christmas. When they got to
place crowded with people who also came to enroll their names. They went to
the inn or hotel to seek for lodging for the night. The hotels there were not
like ours. They were simply large buildings with small rooms and no furniture;
they were called caravansaries. A man was in charge of the building, and by
paying him something persons were allowed the use of a room. No food was sold
there, so travelers had to do their cooking at home and bring whatever they
needed with them. When the Blessed Virgin and
found all the rooms occupied. Then they went up and down the streets looking
for some house where they might stay. Nobody would take them in, because
refused at every door, a very sad thing indeed. What were they to do? It was
growing dark, and the lights most likely were being lighted here and there in
the houses. The old towns were not built as ours are, with houses on the
outskirts growing fewer as we advance into the country. They were surrounded
by great walls to keep out their enemies. There were several large gates in
these walls, through which the people entered or left the city. At night these
gates were closed and guarded. Nearly all the people lived within the walls
and the country was lonely and almost deserted. Only shepherds were to be
found in the country, and they lived in tents, which they carried about from
place to place, as soldiers do in time of war. Such was the country about
stay in the town they were forced to go into the country. They must have
suffered also from fear because the country was infested with wolves and wild
dogs, so fierce that they sometimes came into the towns and attacked the people
in the streets. Besides, many robbers were wandering about waiting for victims.
large caves in which these robbers frequently took refuge or divided their
spoils. Because the shepherds at times, especially in bad weather, brought
their animals into these caves, they are often called stables. The Blessed
into it for the night, and there Our Lord was born.
It was the month of December and must have been quite cold, so the little
Infant Jesus must have suffered greatly from the cold. If it had been a stable
such as we see in our days it would have been bad enough; but think of this
cold, dark, miserable cave, and yet it was Our Lord, the King of Heaven and
earth, who was born there. There are few people so poor that they have to live
in a cave. What wonderful humility, then, on the part of Our Lord. He could
have been born, if He wished, in the grandest palace man could construct and
have had thousands of angels to bring Him whatever He needed, for they are His
servants in Heaven. But Our Lord became so humble to teach us. What
impression should this make on those who are too fond of dress and too vain
about their homes.
It was foretold by the prophets that Our Lord would be born in Bethlehem, and
when the time was near at hand His parents were living in Nazareth; then the
Roman Emperor gave the decree that the census be taken, which obliged Our
Lordīs parents to go to Bethlehem, and thus Our Lord was born there, and the
words of the prophets fulfilled. See how God moves the whole world, if
necessary, to accomplish what He desires. But how naturally He does
everything. Nobody knew-not even the Roman Emperor himself-that he was giving
an edict to fulfill the prophecies and the promises of God. So, at times,
people do many things to carry out the designs of God, though they know it not.
We should never complain therefore to do unwillingly whatever work we have to
perform, because it may be something that God wishes us to do for some very
special end. If you look back upon your lives, you can see that God guided and
directed you upon many occasions.
A. Christ lived on earth about thirty-three years, and led a most holy life
in poverty and suffering.
The life of Our Lord was spent in the following manner. At the time Our
Lord was born in
leaving their own country came to
Herod was troubled, for he was afraid the new King would deprive him of his
throne. He called together all the priests and asked them about this royal
child. They told him and the Magi that, according to the prophecies, the
Saviour should be born in
followed it to
They entered, and adored the Infant Jesus, and offered Him presents. Now,
Herod told them to come back after they had found the newborn King, and tell
him where He was, that he too might go and adore Him. But such was not Herodīs
real intention. He wished not to adore but to kill Him. See, then, how the
wicked pretend at times to do good, that they may deceive us and lead us
astray. Be always on your guard against a person if you suspect his goodness.
But Herod could not deceive God, who, knowing his heart, warned the Wise Men
not to return to Herod, but to go back to their own country by another way,
which they did. We celebrate the day on which the Wise Men adored the Infant
Jesus on the feast of the Epiphany (six days after New Yearīs Day). When the
Magi did not return, Herod knew that they had avoided him. He was very angry
indeed, and in order to be sure of killing the poor little Infant Jesus, he had
all the infants or children in or near
old put to death. We honor these first little martyrs who suffered for Christ
on the feast of Holy Innocents-three days after Christmas.
After the departure of the Wise Men, God sent an angel to
him of Herodīs evil designs, and telling him to fly with Jesus and Mary into
nor did he ask to be allowed to wait till morning. He obeyed promptly; he
arose in the night, and started at once. What an example of obedience for us!
They must have had many hardships on the way. They must have suffered much
from hunger, cold, and fear. They dare not go on the best roads, for we may
well suppose that Herod had his spies out watching for any that might escape.
So they went by the roughest roads and longest way. In
strangers, and how could a poor old carpenter like
there! The Holy Family must at times have suffered greatly from want. They
At twelve years of age Our Lord went to the
sacrifice with His parents. (Luke 2:42). He afterwards returned to
anything of Him. Most likely He worked in the carpenter shop with His
At the age of thirty (Luke 3:23), Our Lord began His public life; that
is, His preaching, miracles, etc. His public life lasted a little over three
years, and then He was put to death on the Cross.
A. Christ lived so long on earth to show us the way to Heaven by His
teaching and example.
Christ went through all the stages of life that each might have an
example. He was an infant: then a child; then a young man, and finally a man.
He did not become an old man to set an example to the old, because if men
follow His example in their youth and manhood they will be good in old age.
Youth is the all-important time to learn. If you want a tree to grow straight,
you must keep it straight while it is only a little twig. You cannot
straighten an old oak tree that has grown up crooked. So you must be taught to
do right in your youth, that you may do the same when old. Of the hidden or
private life of Our Lord we, as I have said, know nothing, except that He was
obedient to His parents; for He wished to give an example also to those holy
persons who lead a life hidden from the world. Some books have given stories
about what Our Lord did in school, etc., but these stories are not true. The
only true things we know of Our Lord are those told in the Holy Scripture, or
handed down to us by the Church in her teachings, or those certainly revealed
to Godīs saints. Remember, then, that others are taught best by example, and
be careful of the example you give.
A. Jesus Christ suffered a bloody sweat, a cruel scourging, was crowned with
thorns, and was crucified.
After the Supper, Our Lord went with His Apostlesī to a little country
place just outside
the three Apostles, Peter, James, and John, to stay near the entrance, and to
watch and pray, while He Himself went further into the
Gethsemani, as this place was called, and throwing Himself upon His face,
prayed long and earnestly, but the Apostles fell asleep.
We often find persons who are in great anguish or dread covered with a cold
perspiration. Now, Our Lordīs agony in the garden was so intense that great
drops, not of sweat, but of blood, oozed from every pore, and trickled to the
There are three reasons given for this dreadful agony:
(1) They tried Him at night; and (2) they allowed Him no witnesses in His
defense, but even employed false witnesses to testify against Him, and thus
acted against all law and justice. Early in the morning they led Him to
Pilate, who commanded that He should be scourged. Then they stripped Our Lord
of His garments, fastened His hands to a low stone pillar, and there He was
"scourged" by the Roman soldiers. The lashes used by the Romans were
made of leather, with pieces of bone, iron, or steel fastened into it, so that
every stroke would lay open the flesh. It is most likely these were the lashes
used upon Our Lord till every portion of His body was bruised and bleeding, and
they replaced His garments upon Him. Now, you know if you put a cloth upon a
fresh wound the blood will soak into it and cause it to adhere to the mangled
flesh. Our Blessed Lordīs garment, thus saturated with His blood, adhered to
His wounded body, and when again removed caused Him unspeakable pain. Next,
the soldiers, because Our Lord had said He was a king-meaning a spiritual
king-led Him into a large hall and mocked Him. They made a crown of long,
sharp thorns, and forced it down upon His brow with a heavy rod or reed; every
stroke driving the thorns into His head, and causing the blood to roll down His
sacred face. They again took off His garments, and opened anew the painful
wounds. Because kings wore purple, they put an old purple garment upon Him,
and made Him a mock king, genuflecting in ridicule as they passed before Him.
They struck Him in the face and spat upon Him; and yet it seems our patient
Lord said not a word in complaint. Then they put His garments upon Him, and
Pilate asked the people what he should do with Him, and they cried, "Crucify
Him" It was then Friday morning, and probably about ten or eleven oīclock.
They made a cross of heavy beams, and laying it upon His shoulders, forced Him
to carry it to
was not allowed to execute anyone in the city. Our Lord had not eaten anything
from Thursday evening, and then with all He suffered and the loss of blood, He
must have been very weak at eleven oīclock on Friday morning. He was weak, and
fell many times under the Cross. His suffering was increased by seeing His
Blessed Mother looking at Him. When He arrived at
garments and nailed Him to the Cross, driving the rough nails through His hands
and feet. It was then about twelve oīclock. From twelve to three in the
afternoon Our Blessed Saviour was hanging on the Cross, with a great multitude
of His enemies about Him mocking and saying cruel things. Even the two thieves
that were crucified with Him reviled Him, though one of them repented and was
pardoned before death. Our Lordīs poor Mother and His few friends stood at a
little distance witnessing all that was going on. When Our Lord was thirsty
His executioners gave Him gall to drink. At three oīclock He died, and there
was an earthquake and darkness, and the people were sorely afraid. But you will
ask, how could these soldiers be so cruel? They were Romans; and in those days
men called gladiators used to fight with swords before the Roman Emperor and
all the people-just as actors play now for the amusement of their audience.
People who could enjoy such scenes as men slaying one another in deadly
conflict would scarcely be moved to pity by seeing a man scourged. Again, in
the early ages of the Church, during the persecutions, the Emperors used to
order the Christians to be thrown to wild beasts to be torn to pieces in the
presence of the people who applauded these horrible sights. They who could see
so many put to death would not mind putting one to death, even in the most
A. Christ died on Good Friday.
"Good Friday," so called since that time.
A. We call that day good on which Christ died, because by His death He
showed His great love for man. and purchased for him every blessing.
A. Christ died on
every city they have a special prison or place where all their criminals are
executed. Now, as the great
was called the City of
the Holy of Holies. The
like the body of our churches, called the Holy, and the other part, where the
Ark of the Covenant was kept, called the Holy of Holies. It had about the same
relation to the
Ark of the Covenant was a box about four feet long, two and a half feet high,
and two and a half feet wide, made of the finest wood, and ornamented with gold
in the most beautiful manner. In it were the tables of stone, on which were
written the Commandments of God; also the rod that Aaron-Mosesī brother-changed
into a serpent before King Pharaoh; also some of the manna with which the
people were miraculously fed during their forty yearsī journey in the desert
when they fled out of Egypt. All these things were figures of the true
Holy Eucharist. The Holy of Holies was hidden from the people by a veil. Only
the Chief Priest was allowed into that sacred place, and but once a year. The
veil-called the veil of the Temple-hiding that Holy of Holies, though the
things mentioned above were no longer in it, was torn asunder when Our Lord
died on the Cross (Matt. 27:51); because after His death there was no
need any longer of figures; for after His death we have the tabernacle itself
and the real manna, the real bread from Heaven, viz., the body of Our Lord.
The veil was rent to show also that God would not remain any longer in the
of all these things, therefore, Jerusalem was called the Holy City, and no
criminals were put to death in it, but were conducted to Calvary-which means
the place of skulls-and were there put to death. I now call your attention to
one thing. If the Jews showed such great respect and reverence for the
containing only figures of the Blessed Sacrament, how should we behave in the
presence of the tabernacle on the altar containing the Blessed Sacrament itself!
A. Christ was nailed to a cross and died on it, between two thieves.
"Two thieves," because they thought this would make His death more
disgraceful-making Him equal to common criminals. One of these thieves, called
the penitent thief, repented of his sins and received Our Lordīs pardon before
his death. The other thief died in his sins. Holy writers tell us that one of
these thieves was saved to give poor sinners hope, and to teach them that they
may save their souls at the very last moment of their lives if only they are
heartily sorry for their sins and implore Godīs pardon for them. The other
thief remained and died impenitent, that sinners may fear to put off their
conversion to the hour of death, thus rashly presuming on Godīs mercy. Persons
who willfully delay their conversion and put off their repentance to the last
moment, living bad lives with the hope of dying well, may not accept the grace
to repent at the last moment, but may, like the unfortunate, impenitent thief,
die as they lived, in a state of sin.
A. Christ suffered and died for our sins.
It was not necessary for Our Lord to suffer so much, but He did it to
show how much He loved us and valued our souls, and how much He was willing to
give for them. We, alas! do not value our souls as Christ did; we sometimes
sell them for the merest trifle-a momentīs gratification. How sinful!
A. From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn the great evil of sin,
the hatred God bears to it, and the necessity of satisfying for it.
We learn "the great evil of sin" also from the misery it brought
into the world; the "hatred God bears to it," from the punishment He
inflicted on the wicked angels and on our first parents for it; and lastly, the
"necessity of satisfying for it," from the fact that God allowed His
dear and only Son to suffer death itself for the sins even of others.
A. After Christīs death His soul descended into hell.
A. The hell into which Christīs soul descended was not the hell of the
damned, but a place or state of rest called Limbo, where the souls of the just
were waiting for Him.
Hell had many meanings in olden times. The grave was sometimes called
hell. Jacob, when he heard that wild beasts had devoured his son Joseph, said:
"I will go down with sorrow into hell." He meant the grave. Limbo is not the
same as Purgatory. It does not exist now, or, if it does, is only for little
children who have never committed actual sin and who have died without Baptism.
They will never get into Heaven or see God, but they will not have to suffer
pains as they who are in Purgatory or Hell endure.
A. Christ descended into Limbo to preach to the souls who were in
prison-that is, to announce to them the joyful tidings of their redemption.
A. While Christīs soul was in Limbo His body was in the Holy Sepulchre.
"Sepulchre" is the same as tomb. It is like a little room. In it the
coffin is not covered up with earth as it is in the grave, but is placed upon a
stand. We call such places vaults, and you can see many of them in any
cemetery or burying ground. Sometimes they are cut in the side of elevated
ground with their entrance level with the road, and sometimes they are built
altogether under the ground. The one in which Our Lord was placed was cut out
of the side of a rock, and had for a door a great stone against the entrance.
Our Lord was not placed in a coffin, but was wrapped in a linen cloth. It was
the custom of the Jewish people and of many other ancient nations to embalm the
bodies of the dead, wrap them in cloths, and cover them with sweet spices.
(Matt. 27:59). Thus it was that Mary Magdalene and other good women
came early in the morning to anoint the body of Our Lord. But you will say,
why did they not do it on Friday evening or night? The reason was this: The
day with the Jews began at sunset-generally about six oīclock-and ended at
sunset on the next evening. We count our twenty-four hours, or day, from
twelve at midnight till twelve the next night. Therefore, with the Jews six
oīclock on Friday evening was the beginning of Saturday. They kept Saturday,
or the Sabbath, instead of Sunday as a day of worship. On that day, which they
kept very strictly, it was not allowable to do work of any kind; so they could
not anoint Our Lordīs body till the Sabbath ended, which was about six oīclock,
or sunset on Saturday evening. So, as the Holy Scripture tells us, they came
very early in the morning; for Mary Magdalene and these good women were Jews,
and strictly observed the Jewish law. You must know that Our Lord Himself, the
Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, and the Apostles were Jews; and that the Jewish
religion was the true religion up to the coming of Our Lord; but as it was only
a figure and a promise of the Christian religion, it ceased to have any meaning
or to be the true religion when the Christian religion itself was established
by Our Lord.
A. Christ rose from the dead, glorious and immortal, on Easter Sunday, the
third day after His death.
"Rose" by His own power. This is the greatest of all Our Lordīs
miracles, because all He taught is confirmed by it and depends upon it. A
miracle is a work that can be performed only by God, or by someone to whom He
has given the power. If anyone performs a real miracle to prove what he says,
his words must be true; for God, who is infinite truth, could not sanction a
lie-could not help an impostor to deceive us. Now Our Lord said He was the Son
of God; that He could forgive sins, etc.; and He performed miracles to prove
what He said. Therefore He must have told the truth. So all those whom God
sent to do any great work were given the power to perform miracles that the
people might know they were really messengers from God. They, on the other
hand, who claim-as many have done from time to time in the world-that they have
been sent by God to do some great work, and can give no convincing proof of
their mission, are not to be believed. Thus, when Martin Luther claimed that
he was sent by God to reform the Catholic Church which had existed nearly 1,500
years before he was born-he performed no miracles, nor did he give any other
proof that he had any such commission from God; and he cannot therefore be
God has established all the laws of nature permanently. They will not vary or
change, so that we can depend upon them. We can always be sure that the sun
will rise and set; that the seasons will come; that fire will burn, etc. Now,
if we see three young men in a great fiery furnace without being burned
(Dan. 3), we say it is a great miracle; because naturally the fire would
burn them up if God did not prevent it. Again, water will not stand up like a
high wall without something keeping it back; it will always run about and fill
every empty spot near it. If, therefore, we see water standing up like a high
wall, as it did in the
Jordan, we say it is a miracle. So in all cases where the laws of nature do
not work in the ordinary manner, we say a miracle is being performed. Now Our
Lord performed many such miracles-many times He suspended the laws of
nature-which God alone can do, since He alone established them. Our Lord
called back the soul to the body after death, thus raising the dead. He healed
the sick, gave sight to the blind, cured the lame, etc., when all medicine and
natural means were useless. He did all these things instantly as a rule, and
without remedies. Therefore His miracles prove His divine power. Since the
resurrection was a great miracle, and Our Lord performed it to prove that He
was the true and only Son of God, He must have been just what He said He was.
"Glorious." Our Lord rose in the same body He had before His death; but
when He rose it had new qualities-it was glorified. The qualities of a
glorified body are four, viz.: brilliancy, agility, subtlety, and
impassability. (1) It has brilliancy; that is, it shines like a light; it
gives forth light; the soul shines through the body. You have heard of the
Transfiguration of Our Lord. One day He took three of His Apostles-Peter,
James, and John-unto a high mountain (Matt. 17); and as He was speaking
to them, suddenly His whole body began to shine like the sun. Then Moses and
Elias-two great and holy men of the Old Law-came and conversed with Him. The
Apostles were astonished and delighted at the sight, and wished to remain there
always. Our Lordīs body at that time showed one of the qualities of a
glorified body. The same three Apostles that saw Him thus transfigured and
heard the voice of the Heavenly Father saying, "This is My beloved Son," were
present in the garden during Our Lordīs agony. He allowed them to see the
Transfiguration, so that when they should see Him suffering as man, they would
remember that they saw Him on the mountain glorified as God.
(2) Agility; that is, a glorified body can move rapidly from one place to
another, like the lightning itself. After His resurrection Our Lord was in
disciples going there. (Luke 24). They had left
Crucifixion, probably through fear, and were going along together talking about
what had happened during the days of Our Lordīs Passion. Suddenly Our Lord
came and walked and talked with them, but they did not know Him. They asked
Him to stay that night at their house, for it was growing dark. He did not
stop with them, and at supper they knew Him, and then He vanished from their
sight. An ordinary person would have to get up and walk away; but He vanished,
showing on this occasion the second quality of His glorified body-agility.
(3) Subtlety; that is, such a body can go where it pleases and cannot be
resisted by material things. It can pass through closed doors or gates, and
even walls cannot keep it out. It passes through everything, as light does
through glass without breaking it. At one time after Our Lordīs resurrection
the Apostles were gathered together in a room, for they were still afraid of
being put to death, and the doors were tightly closed. Suddenly Our Lord stood
in the midst of them and said: "Peace be to you." (John 20:19). They
did not open the door for Him; neither wood nor stone could keep Him out: and
thus He showed that His body had the third quality.
(4) His body had the fourth quality also impassability, which means that it can
no longer suffer. Before His death, and at it, Our Lord suffered dreadful
torments, as you know; but after His resurrection nothing could injure or hurt
Him. The spear could not hurt His side, nor the nails His hands, nor the
thorns His head. Shortly after His resurrection Our Lord appeared to His
Apostles while Thomas, one of them, was absent. (John 20:24). When
Thomas returned, the other Apostles told him that they had seen the Lord risen
from the dead; but he would not believe them, saying: "Unless I see the holes
where the nails were in His hands and feet, and put my finger into His side, I
will not believe." Now Our Lord, knowing all things, knew this also; so He came
again when Thomas was present, and said to him: "Now, Thomas, put your hand
into My side." Thomas cried out: "My Lord and my God!" He believed then,
because he saw. Now if this body of Our Lordīs had been an ordinary body, it
would have caused Him pain to allow anyone to put his hand into the wound; but
it was impassable. It seems very strange, does it not, that Thomas would not
believe what the other Apostles told him? God permitted this. Why? Because,
if they all believed easily, some enemies of Our Lord might say the Apostles
were simple men that believed everything without any proof. Now they cannot
truly say so, because here was one of the Apostles, Thomas, who would not
believe without the very strongest kind of proof. Another person, one would
think, would have been satisfied with seeing Our Lordīs wounds; but Thomas
would not trust even his eyes-he must also touch before he would believe:
showing, therefore, that the Apostles were not deceived in anything Our Lord
did in their presence, for they had always the most convincing proofs.
After the Resurrection, at the last day, the bodies of all those who are to be
in Heaven will have the qualities I have mentioned; that is, they will be
Speaking of Our Lordīs wounds, I might tell you what the stigmata means, if you
should ever hear or read of it. There have been some persons in the
world-saints, of course who have had upon their hands, feet, and side wounds
just like those Our Lord had, and these wounds caused them great pain. For
example, St. Francis of
Up to 1883-that is, only a few years ago-there lived in
named Louise Lateau who had the stigmata. We have the most positive proof of
it, as you may see in the accounts of her life now published. Her wounds
caused her great pain and bled every Friday for many years. She was a delicate
seamstress, and lived with her mother and sisters in almost continual poverty.
She had always been remarkable for her true piety, patience in suffering, and
charity to the sick. I mention this young girl because she lived in our own
time, and is the latest person we know of who had the stigmata, or wounds of
Our Lord. So if you ever hear of the stigmata of St. Francis or others, you
will know that it means wounds like those of Our Lord impressed on their bodies
in a miraculous manner.
"Immortal"--that is never to die again, as it will be with us also after
"The third day." It was not three full days, but the parts of three
days. Suppose someone should ask you on Friday evening how long from now to
Sunday; you would answer: Sunday will be the third day from today. You would
count thus: Friday one, Saturday two, and Sunday itself three. So it was with
Our Lord. He died on Friday at about three in the afternoon, and remained in
the sepulchre till Sunday morning.
A. Christ stayed on earth forty days after His resurrection, to show that He
was truly risen from the dead, and to instruct His Apostles.
After Our Lordīs resurrection He remained on earth forty days: but you
must not think He was visible all that time. No. He did not appear to
everybody, but only to certain persons, and not all the time to them either.
He appeared to His Apostles and others in all about nine times; at least, we
know for certain that He appeared nine times, though He may have appeared
oftener. He showed that "He was truly risen," for He ate with His
Apostles and conversed with them. (Luke 24:42). It was after the
resurrection that He breathed on them and gave them the power to forgive sins.
A. After forty days Christ ascended into Heaven, and the day on which He
ascended into Heaven is called Ascension Day.
One day He was on a mountain with His Apostles and disciples; and as He
was talking to them He began to rise up slowly and quietly, just as you have
sometimes seen a balloon soar up into the air without noise. Higher and higher
He ascended; and as they gazed up at Him, the clouds opened to receive Him,
then closed under Him: and that was the last of Our Lordīs mission as man upon
earth. The Ascension took place forty days after the resurrection. (Acts
A. In Heaven Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father
A. When I say that Christ sits at the right hand of God, I mean that Christ
as God is equal to His Father in all things, and that as man He is in the
highest place in Heaven next to God.
A. The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
A. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.
A. The Holy Ghost is equal to the Father and the Son, being the same Lord
and God as they are.
A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles ten days after the Ascension
of Our Lord; and the day on which He came down upon the Apostles is called
Whit-Sunday or Pentecost.
We have seen already that the Apostles fled and were very much afraid
when Our Lord was taken prisoner. Even Peter, the chief of the Apostles, who
said he would die rather than leave Our Lord, shamefully denied Him; and
Our Lordīs enemies. After the Crucifixion of Our Lord, the Apostles, afraid of
being put to death, shut themselves up in a room. Ten days after Our Lordīs
Ascension they were praying as usual in their room, when suddenly they heard
the sound as it were of a great wind, and then they saw tongues the shape of
our own, but all on fire, coming, and one tongue resting on the head of each
Apostle present. (Acts 2).
This was the Holy Ghost coming to them. The Holy Ghost, being a pure spirit
without a body, can take any form He pleases. He sometimes came in the form of
a dove; so when you see a dove painted in a church near the altar, it is there
to represent the Holy Ghost. You could not paint a spirit, so angels and God
Himself are generally represented in pictures as they at some time appeared to
"Whit-Sunday," or White-Sunday; probably so called because in the early
ages of the Church converts were baptized on the day before, and after their
Baptism wore white robes or garments as a mark of the soulīs purity after
"Pentecost" means the fiftieth day, because the feast comes fifty days
after the resurrection of Our Lord. After His resurrection He remained forty
days upon earth, and ten days after He ascended into Heaven the Holy Ghost
came, thus making the fifty days.
After the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles they were no longer timid men.
They went forth boldly into the streets and preached Christ crucified, telling
the people how the Son of God -- the true Messias promised -- had been put to
death. Many who heard them believed and were baptized. The first time St.
Peter preached to the people three thousand were converted (Acts 2:41);
so that when all the Apostles preached the number of Christians increased
rapidly, and the Christian religion was soon carried to distant parts of the
At the time Our Lord was put to death the Jews were celebrating a great feast
churches, and in all of them sacrifice, that is, the Holy Mass, is offered.
The Jews had only one temple where sacrifice could be offered, and that was in
they assembled to pray and hear the Holy Scriptures read; but they could not
offer sacrifice in them. Three times a year they went to
celebrate their great feasts. One of these feasts was called the Pasch, or
Passover, and it was during the celebration of that feast that Our Lord was put
to death; so that there were many persons from all parts of the nation present
at the sad execution. I must now tell you why they celebrated the Pasch. We
generally celebrate a feast to commemorate -- to remind us of -- some great
event; and the Jews celebrated this feast to remind them of their deliverance
from the slavery of the Egyptians, in which their ancestors had been suffering
for about two hundred years. At the end of that time God sent Moses to deliver
them. You should know, then, who Moses was and what he did to deliver his
people, and you should know also something of the history of his people -- the
Israelites -- and how they came to be in
At the time I am now going to speak of the old patriarch Jacob, Abrahamīs
grandson, had eleven sons -- for Benjamin, the twelfth son, was born afterwards
-- and the youngest was called Joseph. Joseph was the favorite of his father,
and his brothers were jealous of him. The brothers were shepherds, and used to
take their flocks to feed at a great distance from home, and did not return for
a long time. One day the father sent Joseph to his brothers to see if all were
well. They hated Joseph because his father loved him best; and when they saw
him coming they agreed never to let him return to his father. (Gen. 37). They
intended to kill him. While they were debating about how they should put him
to death -- he was then only sixteen years old -- some merchants passed on
their way to
merchants. Then they took Josephīs coat and dipped it in the blood of a kid,
and sent it to their poor old father, saying they had found it, and making him
believe that some wild beast on the way had eaten Joseph. When the merchants
brought him as a slave to his own house. While there, Joseph was falsely
accused of a great crime, and cast into prison. While Joseph was in prison the
king had a dream. (Gen. 41). He saw in the dream seven fat cows coming up out
of a river, followed by seven lean cows; and the lean cows ate up the fat cows.
He saw also seven fat ears of corn and seven lean ears of corn; and the seven
lean ears ate up the seven fat ears. The king was very much troubled, and
called together all his wise men to tell him what the dream meant, but they
could not. Then the king heard of Joseph, and sent for him. Now Joseph was a
very good young man, and God showed him the meaning; so he told the king that
the seven fat ears of corn and the seven fat cows meant seven years of great
abundance in Egypt, and that the seven lean ears and the seven lean cows meant
seven years of famine that would follow, and all the abundance of the previous
seven years would be consumed. So he advised the king to build great barns
during the years of plenty, and gather up all the corn everywhere to save it
for the years of famine. The king was delighted at Josephīs wisdom, and made
him after himself the most powerful in the kingdom, giving him charge of
everything, so that Joseph himself might do what he had advised. Now it
happened years after this that there was a famine in the country where Josephīs
father lived, and he sent all his sons down into
42). They did not know their brother Joseph, but he knew them; and after
forgiving them for what they had done to him, he sent them home with an
abundance of corn. Afterwards Josephīs father and brothers left their own
country and came to live near Joseph in
(Gen. 47), and they lived there in peace and happiness. Learn from this
beautiful history of Joseph how God protects those that love and serve Him no
matter where they are or in what danger they may be placed; and how He even
turns the evil deeds of their enemies into blessings for them.
After the death of Joseph and his brothers, their descendants became very
numerous, and the new king of the Egyptians began to persecute them. (Ex.
2). He imposed upon them the hardest works, and treated them most cruelly.
He ordered that all their male infants should, as soon as born, be thrown into
the River Nile. Now about that time Moses was born. (Ex. 2). His
mother did not obey the kingīs order, but hid him for about three months. When
she could conceal him no longer she made a little cradle of rushes, and
covering it over with pitch or tar to keep out the water, placed him in it, and
then laid it in the tall grass by the edge of the river, sending his little
sister to watch what would become of him. Just then the kingīs daughter came
down to bathe, and seeing the little child, ordered one of her servants to
bring him to her. At that moment Mosesī little sister, pretending not to know
him, ran up and asked the kingīs daughter if she wished to procure a nurse for
him. The kingīs daughter replied in the affirmative and permitted her to bring
one; so Mosesī own mother was brought and engaged to be his nurse: but he was
not known as her son, but as the adopted son of the kingīs daughter. When
Moses grew up he was an officer in the kingīs army; but because he took the
part of his persecuted countrymen he offended the king, and had to fly from the
palace. He then went into another country and became a shepherd.
During all this time the persecuted Israelites were praying to the true God to
be delivered from the slavery of the Egyptians, who were idolaters. One day
Moses saw a bush burning; and as he came near to look at it, he heard a voice
telling him not to come too near, and bidding him take off his shoes, for he
was on holy ground. (Ex. 3). It was God who thus appeared and spoke to him,
and He ordered him to take off his shoes as a mark of respect and reverence.
When we want to show our respect for any person or place, we take off our hats;
but the people of that country, instead of their hats, took off their shoes.
It was the custom of the country and did not seem strange to them.
Then God told Moses that He was going to send him to deliver His people from
the Egyptians and lead them back to their own country; and He sent Aaron, the
brother of Moses, with him. Then Moses said to God, the king of Egypt will not
let the people go, and what can I do? God gave Moses two signs or miracles to
show the king, so that he could know that Moses was really sent by Him. He
gave him power to change a rod into a serpent, and back again into a rod; power
also to bring a disease instantly upon his hand, and to heal it instantly. (Ex.
4). Do these, said Almighty God, in the presence of the king. Then Moses and
Aaron went to the king and did as God commanded them; and when the rod of Aaron
became a serpent, the kingīs magicians -- that is, men who do apparently
wonderful things by sleight of hand or the power of the devil -- cast their
rods upon the ground, and they also became serpents -- not that their rods were
changed into serpents, but the devil, who was helping them, took away instantly
their rods and put real serpents in their place -- but Aaronīs serpent
swallowed them up. (Ex. 7). After these signs the king would not let
the people go with Moses; for God permitted the kingīs heart to be hardened, so
that all the Egyptians might see the great work God was going to do for His
Then God sent the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, while the Israelites -- Godīs
people -- suffered nothing from these plagues.
The first plague was blood. All the water in the land was converted
into blood. (Ex. 7). The king then sent for Moses and promised that if
he would take away the plague he would allow all the people to depart. Moses
prayed to God, and the plague was removed. But after it was taken away the
kingīs heart was hardened again and he would not keep his promise. Just as
people in sickness, distress, or danger sometimes promise God they will lead
better lives if only He will help them, and when they are saved they do not
keep their promises, so did Pharao; and therefore God sent another plague. The
second plague was frogs. Great numbers of them came out of the rivers
and lakes, and filled all the houses of the Egyptians, and crawled into their
food, beds, etc. Again the king sent for Moses and did as before; and again
Moses prayed, and all the frogs went back into the waters or died. (Ex. 8).
But the king again hardened his heart and did not keep his promise. The
third plague was sciniphs (Ex. 8) -- very small flies, that filled the
land. Imagine our country filled with mosquitoes so numerous that you could
scarcely walk through them; it would be a dreadful plague. As it is, two or
three might cause you considerable annoyance, and pain: what then if there were
millions doubly venomous, because sent to punish you? So these little flies
must have greatly punished the Egyptians. The fourth plague was flies
that filled the land and covered everything, to the great disgust of the
people. The fifth plague was murrain -- a disease that broke out among
the cattle. The sixth plague was a disease -- boils -- that broke out
on men and beasts, so that scarcely anyone could move on account of the pains
and suffering. The seventh plague was hail, that fell in large pieces
and destroyed all their crops. The eighth plague was locusts. These are
very destructive little animals. They look something like our grasshoppers,
but are about two or three times their size. They fly and come in millions.
They come to this country in great numbers -- almost a plague -- every fifteen
or twenty-five years, and the farmers fear them very much. They eat up every
green blade or leaf, and thus destroy all the crops and trees. When the
locusts came upon Egypt, Moses, at the kingīs request, prayed, and God sent a
strong wind that swept them into the sea, where they perished in the water.
The ninth plague was a horrible darkness for three days in all the land
of Egypt. The tenth plague, the last, was the most terrible of all --
the killing of the firstborn in all the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12). God
instructed Moses to tell the Israelites in the land that on a certain night
they were to take a lamb in each family, kill it, and sprinkle its blood on the
doorposts of their houses. They were then to cook the lamb and eat it
standing, with their garments ready as for a journey. (Ex. 12). The lamb was
called the paschal lamb, and was, after that, to be eaten every year, at about
what is with us Easter-time, in commemoration of this event. That night God
sent an angel through all the land, and he killed the firstborn of man and
beast in all the houses of the Egyptians. That is, he killed the eldest son in
the house; and if the father was the firstborn in his fatherīs family, he was
killed also; and the same for the beasts. This was a terrible punishment. In
the house of every Egyptian there were some dead but not one in the houses of
the Israelites; for when the angel saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts,
he passed over and did not enter into their houses, so that this event, called
Passover or Pasch, was kept always as a great feast by Godīs people. This
paschal lamb was a figure of our blessed Lord, for as its blood saved the
Israelites from death, so Our Lordīs blood saved and still saves us from
eternal death in Hell.
After that dreadful night Pharao allowed the people to depart with Moses; but
when they had gone as far as the Red Sea, he was sorry he let them go, and set
out with a great army to bring them back. There the people stood, with the sea
before them and Pharao and his army coming behind them; but God provided for
them a means of escape. At Godīs command, Moses stretched his rod over the
sea, and the waters divided and stood like great walls on either side and all
the people passed through the opening in the waters, on the dry bed of the sea.
Pharao attempted to follow them, but when he and his army were on the dry bed
of the sea, between the two walls of water, God allowed the waters to close
over them, and they were all drowned. Then the Israelites began the great
journey through the desert, in which they travelled for forty years. During
all that time God fed them with manna. He Himself, as a guide, went with them
in a cloud, that shaded them from the heat of the sun during the day and was a
light for them at night. But you will ask: Was the desert so large that it
took forty years to cross it? No, but these people, notwithstanding all God
had done for them, sinned against Him in the desert; so He permitted them to
wander about through it till a new generation of people grew up, who were to be
led into the promised land by Josue, the successor of Moses. From this we may
learn a lesson for ourselves: God will always punish those who deserve it, even
though He loves them and may often have done great things to save them; but He
will wait for His own time to punish.
The Israelites then, as I have said, went from every part of the land up to the
Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch each year. It was during one of
these celebrations that Our Lord was put to death, and during another feast
that St. Peter preached to the people after Our Lordīs death. He spoke only in
one language, and yet all his hearers understood, for each heard his own
language spoken. (Acts 2:6). This was called the gift of tongues, and
was given to the Apostles when the Holy Ghost came upon them. For example, if
each of you came from a different country and understood the language only of
the country from which you came, and I gave the instructions only in English,
then if everyone thought I was speaking his language -- German, French,
Spanish, Italian, etc -- and understood me, I would have what is called the
gift of tongues, and it would be a great miracle, as it was when bestowed upon
In the first ages of the Church God performed more miracles than He does now,
because they are not now so necessary. These miracles were performed only to
make the Church better known, and to prove that she was the true Church, with
her power and authority from God. That can now be known and seen in Christian
countries without miracles. These special gifts, like the gift of tongues,
were given also to some of the early Christians by the Holy Ghost, when they
received Confirmation; but they were not a part of or necessary for
Confirmation, but only to show the power of the true religion. Those who heard
St. Peter preach, when they went back to their own countries told what they had
seen and heard, and thus their countrymen were prepared to receive the Gospel
when the Apostles came to preach it.
A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.
A. Christ sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify His Church, to enlighten and
strengthen the Apostles, and to enable them to preach the Gospel.
"Sanctify," to make more holy by the grace which He would give to the
members of the Church. "To enlighten." The Apostles did not understand
very well everything Our Lord taught while He was with them; but after the Holy
Ghost came upon them they understood perfectly, and remembered many things
which Our Lord said to them, and understood the true meaning of all. The
prophets foretold that when the Messias, Christ, would come, He would bring all
the world under His power. The prophets meant in a spiritual sense; but most
of the people understood that He was to be a great general, with powerful
armies, who would subdue all the nations of the earth, and bring them under the
authority of the Jews. We know they thought that the great kingdom He was to
establish upon earth would be a temporal kingdom, from many of their sayings
and actions. One day the mother of two of Our Lordīs Apostles came to ask Him
if, when He had established His kingdom upon the earth, He would give her sons
honorable positions in it, and place them high in authority. (Matt. 20:20).
Our Lord told her she did not understand what she was asking. This shows
that even some of the Apostles -- much less the people -- did not understand
the full nature of Our Lordīs mission upon earth, nor of His kingdom, the
Church. Often too, when He preached to the people, the Apostles asked Him on
His return what His sermon meant (Luke 8:9). But after the Holy Ghost
came, they were enlightened, and understood all without difficulty.
"Strengthen." I told you already that before the Holy Ghost came they
were timid and afraid of being arrested, but that afterwards they went out
boldly, and taught all they had learned from Our Lord. They were often taken
prisoners and scourged, but it mattered not -- they were firm in their faith,
and could suffer anything for Christ after they had been enlightened and
strengthened by the Holy Ghost. Finally, they were all, with the exception of
St. John, put to death for their holy faith. St. Peter and St. Paul were
crucified at Rome about the year 65, that is, about thirty-two years after the
death of Our Lord. St. James was beheaded by order of King Herod. St. John
lived the longest, and was the only one of the Apostles who was not put to
death, though he was cast into a large vessel of boiling oil, but was
Certainly by dying for their faith the Apostles showed that they were not
impostors or hypocrites. They must really have believed what they taught,
otherwise they would not have laid down their lives for it. They were certain
of what they taught, as we saw when speaking of St. Thomas.
A. The Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever, and guide it in the
way of holiness and truth.
"Abide" means to stay with us.
A. The chief effects of the redemption are two: the satisfaction of Godīs
justice by Christīs sufferings and death, and the gaining of grace for men.
An effect is that which is caused by something else. If you place a
danger signal on a broken railroad track the effect will be preventing the
wreck of the train, and the cause will be your placing the signal. Many
effects may flow from one cause. In our example, see all the good effects that
may follow your placing the signal -- the cars are not broken, the passengers
are not killed, the rails are not torn out of their places, etc. Thus the
redemption had two effects, namely, to satisfy God for the offense offered Him
by the sins of men, and to merit grace to be used for our benefit.
A. By grace I mean a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us, through the
merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation.
"Supernatural," that is, above nature. "A gift"; something,
therefore, that God does not owe us. He owes us nothing, strictly speaking.
Health, talents, and such things are natural gifts, and belong to our nature as
men; but grace is something above our nature, given to our soul. God gives it
to us on account of the love He has for His Son, Our Lord, who merited it for
us by dying for us. "Merits." A merit is some excellence or goodness
which entitles one to honor or reward. Grace is a help we get to do something
that will be pleasing to God. When there is anything in our daily works that
we cannot do alone, we naturally look for help; for example, to lift some heavy
weight is only a natural act, not a supernatural act, and the help we need for
it is only natural help. But if we are going to do something above and beyond
our nature, and cannot do it alone, we must not look for natural, but for
supernatural help; that is, the help must always be like the work to be done.
Therefore all spiritual works need spiritual help, and spiritual help is grace.
A. There are two kinds of grace: sanctifying grace and actual grace.
A. Sanctifying grace is that grace which makes the soul holy and pleasing to
"Sanctifying," that is, making us holy by cleansing, purifying our
souls. Sin renders the soul ugly and displeasing to God, and grace purifies
it. Suppose I have something bright and beautiful given to me, and take no
care of it, but let it lie around in dusty places until it becomes tarnished
and soiled, loses all its beauty, and appears black and ugly. To restore its
beauty I must clean and polish it. Thus the soul blackened by sin must be
cleaned by Godīs grace. If the soul is in mortal sin -- altogether blackened
-- then sanctifying grace brings back its brightness and makes it pleasing to
God; but if the soul is already bright, though stained or darkened a little by
venial sin, then grace makes it still brighter.
A. Those graces or gifts of God by which we believe in Him, and hope in Him,
and love Him, are called the divine virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
"Virtues." Virtue is the habit of doing good. The opposite to virtue
is vice, which is the habit of doing evil. We acquire a habit bad or good when
we do the same thing very frequently. We then do it easily and almost without
thinking; as a man, for instance, who has the habit of cursing curses almost
without knowing it, though that does not excuse him, but makes his case worse,
by showing that he must have cursed very often to acquire the habit. If,
however, he is striving to overcome the bad habit, and should unintentionally
curse now and then, it would not be a sin, since he did not wish to curse, and
was trying to overcome the vice. One act does not make a virtue or a vice. A
person who gives alms only once cannot be said to have the virtue of charity.
A man who curses only once a year cannot be said to have the vice of cursing.
Faith, hope, and charity are infused by God into our souls, and are therefore
called infused virtues, to distinguish them from the virtues we acquire.
A. Faith is a divine virtue by which we firmly believe the truths which God
"A divine virtue" is one that is heavenly or holy. Faith is the habit
of always believing all that God has revealed and the Church teaches.
"Firmly," that is, without the slightest doubt. "Revealed," that
is, made known to us. Revelation is the collection of all the truths that God
has made known to us. But why do we believe? Because we clearly see and know
the truth of what is revealed? No, but because God reveals it; we believe it
though we cannot see it or even understand it. If we see it plainly, then we
believe it rather because we see it than because God makes it known to us.
Suppose a friend should come and tell you the church is on fire. If he never
told you lies, and had no reason for telling you any now, you would believe him
-- not because you know of the fire, but because he tells you; but afterwards,
when you see the church or read of the fire in the papers, you have proof of
what he told you, but you believed it just as firmly when he told you as you do
afterwards. In the same way God tells us His great truths and we believe them;
because we know that since God is infinitely true He cannot deceive us or be
deceived. But if afterwards by studying and thinking we find proof that God
told us the truth, we do not believe with any greater faith, for we always
believed without doubting, and we study chiefly that we may have arguments to
prove the truth of Godīs revelations to others who do not believe. Suppose
some person was present when your friend came and said the church is burning,
and that that person would not believe your friend. What would you do? Why,
convince him that what your friend said was true by showing him the account of
the fire in the papers. Thus learning does not change our faith, which, as I
have said, is not acquired by study, but is infused into our souls by God. The
little boy who hears what God taught, and believes it firmly because God taught
it, has as good a faith as his teacher who has studied all the reasons why he
A. Hope is a divine virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give us
eternal life and the means to obtain it.
"Eternal," that is, everlastings life -- life without end. "Means,"
that is, His grace, because without Godīs grace we cannot do any
A. Charity is a divine virtue by which we love God above all things for His
own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
The virtue of charity makes us "love God," because He is so good
and beautiful, wise and powerful in Himself; therefore for His own sake and
without any other consideration. "Above all things," in such a way that
we would rather lose anything than offend Him. But someone may say, he thinks
he loves his parents more than God. Well, let us see. To repeat an example
already given, suppose his parents told him to steal, and he knew stealing to
be a sin; if he would not steal, that would show, would it not, that he loved
God more than his parents, for he would rather offend his parents than God.
That is the kind of love we must have for God; not mere feeling, but the firm
belief that God is the best of all, and when we have to choose between
offending God and losing something, be it goods or friends, we would rather
lose anything than offend God.
"Neighbor." Not merely the person living near us, but all men of every
kind and nation -- even our enemies. The people who lived at the time of Our
Lord in His country used to dispute about just what persons were to be
considered their neighbors; so one day they asked Our Lord, and He answered
them by telling them the following. Said He: (Luke 10:30) A man was
once going down from Jerusalem, and on the way robbers beat him, robbed him,
and left him on the wayside dying. First one man came by, looked at the
wounded man, and passed on; then another came and did the same; finally a third
man came, who was of a different religion and nationality from the wounded man.
But he did not consider these things. He dressed the poor manīs wounds, placed
him upon his horse and brought him to an inn or hotel, and paid the innkeeper
to take care of him. "Now," said Our Lord, "which of these three was neighbor
to the wounded man?" And they answered rightly, "The man that helped him." Our
Lord, by this example, wished to teach them and us that everybody is our
neighbor who is in distress of any kind and needs our help. Neighbor,
therefore, means every human being, no matter where he lives or what his color,
learning, manners, etc., for every human being in the world is a child of God
and has been redeemed by Our Lord. Therefore every child of God is my
neighbor, and even more -- he is my brother; for God is his father and mine
also, and if he is good enough for God to love, he should be good enough for me.
"As ourselves." Not with as much love, but with the same kind of love;
that is, we are to follow the rule laid down by Our Lord: "Do unto others as
you would have others do unto you." Never do to anyone what you would not like
to have done to yourself; and always do for another just what you would wish
another to do for you, if you were in the same position. Our neighbor is our
equal and gifted with all the gifts that we ourselves have. When we come into
the world we are all equal. We have a body and a soul, with the power to
develop them. Money, learning, wealth, fame, and all else that makes up the
difference between men in the world are acquired in the world; and when men
die, they go out of the world without any of these things, just as they came
into it. The real difference between them in the next world will depend upon
the things they have done, good or bad, while here. We should love our
neighbor also on another account: namely, that he is one day to be in Heaven
with us; and if he is to be with us for all eternity, why should we hate him
now? On the other hand, if our neighbor is to be in Hell on account of his bad
life, why should we hate him? We should rather pity him, for he will have
enough to suffer without our hatred.
A. Actual grace is that help of God which enlightens our mind and moves our
will to shun evil and do good.
"Actual." Sanctifying grace continues with us, but when grace is given
just so that we may do a good act or avoid a bad one, it is called actual
grace. Suppose, for example, I see a poor man and am able to aid him. When my
conscience tells me to give him assistance, I am just then receiving an actual
grace, which moves me and helps me to do that good act; and just as soon as I
give the help, the actual grace ceases, because no longer needed. It was given
for that one good act, and now that the act is done, the actual grace has
produced its effect. Again, a boy is going to Mass on Sunday and meets other
boys who try to persuade him to remain away from Mass and go to some other
place. When he hears his conscience telling him to go to Mass by all means, he
is receiving just then an actual grace to avoid the mortal sin of missing Mass,
and the grace lasts just as long as the temptation. Sacramental grace is
sanctifying grace -- given in the Sacraments -- which contains for us a right
to actual graces when we need them. These actual graces are given to help us
to fulfill the end for which each of the Sacraments was instituted. They are
different for each Sacrament, and are given just when we need them; that is,
just when we are tempted against the object or end for which the Sacrament was
A. Grace is necessary for salvation, because without grace we can do nothing
to merit Heaven.
A. We can and unfortunately often do resist the grace of God.
Grace is a gift, and no one is obliged to take a gift; but if God offers
a gift and we refuse to take it, we offend and insult Him. To insult God is to
sin. Therefore to refuse to accept, or to make bad use of the grace God gives
us, is to sin.
A. The grace of perseverance is a particular gift of God which enables us to
continue in the state of grace till death.
"Perseverance" here does not mean perseverance in our undertakings, but
perseverance in grace -- never in mortal sin, always a friend of God. Now, if
God keeps us from all sin till the day of our death and takes us while we are
His friends, then He gives us what we call the gift of final perseverance. We
cannot, strictly speaking, merit this great grace, but only pray for it; so
anyone who commits mortal sin may be taken just in that state and be lost for
A. The means instituted by Our lord to enable men at all times to share in
the fruits of the Redemption are the Church and the Sacraments.
Our Lord instituted the Church to carry on the work He Himself was doing
upon the earth -- teaching the ignorant, visiting the sick, helping the poor,
forgiving sins, etc. He commanded all men to hear the Church teaching, just as
they would hear Himself. But suppose some persons should establish a false
Church and claim that it was the true Church of Our Lord, how could people know
the true Church from false churches? When a man invents anything to be sold,
what does he do that people may know the true article -- say a pen? Why, he
puts his trademark upon it. Now the trademark is a certain sign which shows
that the article bearing it is the genuine article; and if others use the
trademark on imitation articles, they are liable to be punished by law. Now
Our Lord did the same. He gave His Church four marks or characteristics to
distinguish it from all false churches. He said, "My Church will be one; it
will be holy; it will be catholic; it will be apostolic; and if any church has
not these four marks, you may be sure it is not My Church." Some false church
may seem to have one or two, but never all the marks; so when you find even one
of the marks wanting, you will know it is not the true Church established by
Christ. Therefore, all the religions that claim to be the true religion cannot
be so. If one man says a thing is white and another says it is black, or if one
says a thing is true and another says it is false, they cannot both be right.
Only one can be right, and if we wish to know the truth we have to find out
which one it is. So when one religion says a thing is true and another
religion says the same thing is false, one of them must be wrong, and it is our
duty to find out the one that is right. Therefore, of all the religions
claiming to be the true religion of Our Lord, only one can be telling the
truth, and that one is the religion or Church that can show the four given
marks. The Roman Catholic Church is the only one that can show these marks,
and is, therefore, the only true Church, as we shall see in the next lesson.
"Fruits of His redemption," that is, to receive the grace merited by Our
Lord when He redeemed us by His death.
A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of
Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful
pastors under one visible head.
"Congregation." Not the building, therefore; because if Mass was
offered up in an open field, with the people kneeling about, it would still be
the church of that place. The buildings that we use for churches might have
been used for anything else -- a public hall, theater, or school, for example;
but when these buildings we call churches are blessed or consecrated, they
become holy. They are holy also because the Gospel is preached in them, the
Sacraments are administered in them, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is
offered in them. But they are holy especially because Our Lord dwells in them
in the tabernacle, where He lives and sees and hears just as truly as He did
when He was man upon earth.
In the early ages the Christians had no churches -- they met secretly in
private houses. Later, when the cruel pagan emperors began to persecute and
put to death the Christians, they made large tunnels under ground and in these
places they heard Mass and received the Sacraments. These underground churches
were called the catacombs, and some of them may still be seen at Rome. In
these catacombs, too, the Christians buried their dead, especially the bodies
of the holy martyrs. On their tombs -- generally of stone -- Mass was
In every altar the table, or flat part on which the priest celebrates Mass,
should be of stone; but if the altar is made of wood, then at least the part
just in front of the tabernacle must be of stone and large enough to hold say
two chalices -- that is, about ten or twelve inches square. In this stone are
placed some relics of the holy martyrs. A piece is cut out of the stone and
the relic placed in the opening. Then the bishop puts the little piece of
stone back into its place over the relic, seals the opening, blesses the stone,
and gives it to the Church. This is called the altar stone. You cannot see it
because it is covered with the altar cloth; but unless it is in the altar the
priest cannot say Mass. This stone reminds us of the stone tombs of the saints
upon which Mass was celebrated.
The Church -- that is, the Christians -- was persecuted for about three hundred
years after the death of Our Lord. These persecutions took place at ten
different times and under ten different Roman emperors. Orders were given to
put to death all the Christians wherever they could be found. Some were cast
into prison, some exiled, some taken to the Roman Coliseum -- an immense
building constructed for public amusements -- where they were put to death in
the most terrible manner in the presence of the emperor and people assembled to
witness these fearful scenes. Some were stripped of their clothing and left
standing alone while savage beasts, wild with hunger, were let loose upon them.
Sometimes by a miracle of God the animals would not harm them, and then the
Christians were either put to death by the sword, mangled by some terrible
machine, or burned. In these dreadful sufferings the Christians remained
faithful and firm, though they could have saved their lives by denying Our Lord
or offering sacrifice to idols. The few who through fear did deny their faith
are now forgotten and unknown; while those who remained steadfast are honored
as saints in Heaven and upon earth; the Church sings their praises and tells
every year of their holy lives and triumph over all their enemies.
Even some pagans who came to see the Christians put to death were so touched by
their patience, fortitude, courage, and constancy, that they also declared
themselves anxious to become Christians, and were put to death, thus becoming
martyrs baptized in their own blood. How many lessons we may learn from all
Our churches are never very far from us, and generally well lighted,
ventilated, furnished with seats and every convenience, and in these respects
unlike the dark, damp, underground churches of the early Christians. Moreover,
we may attend our churches freely and without the least danger to our lives;
while the Christians of the early ages were constantly in dread and danger of
being seized and put to death. Even at the present day, in many countries
where holy missionaries are trying to teach the true religion, their converts
sometimes have to go great distances to hear Mass, and even then it is not
celebrated in comfortable churches, but probably on the slope of a rugged
mountain or in some lonely valley or wood where they may not be seen, for they
fear if they are captured -- as often happens -- both they and their priest
will be put to death. You can read in the account of foreign missions that
almost every year some priests and many people are martyred for their faith.
Is it not disgraceful, then, to see some Catholics giving up their holy faith
and the practice of their religion so easily -- sometimes for a little money,
property, or gain; or even for a bad habit, or for irreligious companions and
friends? What answer will they make on the day of judgment when they stand
side by side with those who died for the faith?
"All those who profess the faith," etc. The Pope, bishops, priests, and
people all taken together are the Church, and each congregation or parish is
only a part of the Church.
"Partake," that is, receive. "Lawful pastors," that is, each
priest in his own parish, each bishop in his own diocese, and the Pope
throughout the world. "Visible head," that is, one who can be seen, for
invisible means cannot be seen.
A. Jesus Christ is the invisible head of the Church.
"Invisible head." If, for example, a merchant of one country wishes to
establish a branch of his business in another, he remains in the new country
long enough to establish the branch business, and then appointing someone to
take his place, returns to his own country. He is still the head of the new
establishment, but its invisible head for the people of that country, while its
visible head is the agent or representative he has placed in charge to carry on
the business in his name and interest. When Our Lord wished to establish His
Church He came from Heaven; and when about to return to Heaven appointed St.
Peter to take His place upon earth and rule the Church as directed. You see,
therefore, that Our Lord, though not on earth, is still the real head and owner
of the Church, and whatever His agent or vicar -- that is, our Holy Father, the
Pope -- does in the Church, he does it with the authority of Our Lord Himself.
A. Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the vicar of Christ on
earth and the visible head of the Church.
The "Bishop of Rome" is always Pope. If the Bishop of New York,
or of Baltimore, or of Boston, became Pope, he would become the Bishop of Rome
and cease to be the Bishop of New York, Baltimore, or Boston, because St.
Peter, the first Pope, was Bishop of Rome; and therefore only the bishops of
Rome are his lawful successors -- the true Popes -- the true visible heads of
the Church. The bishops of the other dioceses of the world are the lawful
successors of the other Apostles who taught and established churches throughout
the world. The bishops of the world are subject to the Pope, just as the other
Apostles were subject to St. Peter, who was appointed their chief, by Our Lord
"Vicar," that is, one who holds anotherīs place and acts in his name.
A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible head of the Church because
he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the Apostles
and the visible head of the Church.
"Of Rome." That is why we are called Roman Catholics; to show that we
are united to the real successor of St. Peter, and are therefore members of the
true apostolic Church.
A. The successors of the other Apostles are the bishops of the holy Catholic
We know the Apostles were bishops, because they could make laws for the
Church, consecrate other bishops, ordain priests, and give Confirmation --
powers that belong only to bishops, and are still exercised by them.
A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all
"Teach" religion. "Govern" in things that regard salvation.
"Sanctify," make good. "Save" all who wish to be saved.
A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be
the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.
Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will
not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts whether
the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must settle his doubt,
seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he continues to live in doubt, he
becomes like the one who knows the true Church and is deterred by worldly
considerations from entering it.
In like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he professes
lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the truth of the
Catholic faith, cannot be saved.
Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that the
church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has never -- even in the
past -- had the slightest doubt of that fact -- what will become of him?
If he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be saved;
because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was doing all he
could to serve God according to his knowledge and the dictates of his
conscience. But if ever he committed a mortal sin, his salvation would be very
much more difficult. A mortal sin once committed remains on the soul till it
is forgiven. Now, how could his mortal sin be forgiven? Not in the Sacrament
of Penance, for the Protestant does not go to confession; and if he does, his
minister -- not being a true priest -- has no power to forgive sins. Does he
know that without confession it requires an act of perfect contrition to blot
out mortal sin, and can he easily make such an act? What we call contrition is
often only imperfect contrition -- that is, sorrow for our sins because we fear
their punishment in Hell or dread the loss of Heaven. If a Catholic -- with
all the instruction he has received about how to make an act of perfect
contrition and all the practice he has had in making such acts -- might find it
difficult to make an act of perfect contrition after having committed a mortal
sin, how much difficulty will not a Protestant have in making an act of perfect
contrition, who does not know about this requirement and who has not been
taught to make continued acts of perfect contrition all his life. It is to be
feared either he would not know of this necessary means of regaining Godīs
friendship, or he would be unable to elicit the necessary act of perfect
contrition, and thus the mortal sin would remain upon his soul and he would die
an enemy of God.
If, then, we found a Protestant who never committed a mortal sin after Baptism,
and who never had the slightest doubt about the truth of his religion, that
person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a member of the Church,
and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of God and could not in justice
be condemned to Hell. Such a person would attend Mass and receive the
Sacraments if he knew the Catholic Church to be the only true Church.
I am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the case
of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects. All infants
rightly baptized by anyone are really children of the Church, no matter what
religion their parents may profess. Indeed, all persons who are baptized are
children of the Church; but those among them who deny its teaching, reject its
Sacraments, and refuse to submit to its lawful pastors, are rebellious children
known as heretics.
I said I gave you an example that can scarcely be found, namely, of a person
not a Catholic, who really never doubted the truth of his religion, and who,
moreover, never committed during his whole life a mortal sin. There are so few
such persons that we can practically say for all those who are not visibly
members of the Catholic Church, believing its doctrines, receiving its
Sacraments, and being governed by its visible head, our Holy Father, the Pope,
salvation is an extremely difficult matter.
I do not speak here of pagans who have never heard of Our Lord or His holy
religion, but of those outside the Church who claim to be good Christians
without being members of the Catholic Church.
A. The attributes of the Church are three: authority, infallibility, and
A. By the authority of the Church I mean the right and power which the Pope
and the bishops, as the successors of the Apostles, have to teach and govern
Authority is the power which one person has over another, so as to be
able to exact obedience. A teacher has authority over his scholars, because
they must obey him; but the teacher need not obey the scholars, because they
have no authority over him. God alone has authority of Himself and from
Himself All others who have authority receive it from God, either directly or
through someone else. The Pope has authority from God Himself, and the priests
get theirs through their bishops. Therefore, to resist or disobey lawful
authority is to resist and disobey God Himself. If one of you were placed in
charge of the class in my absence, he would have lawful authority, and the rest
of you should obey him-not on account of himself, but on account of the
authority he has. Thus the President of the United States, the governor, the
mayor, etc., are only ordinary citizens before their election; but after they
have been elected and placed in office they exercise lawful authority over us,
and we are bound as good citizens and as good Catholics to respect and obey
A. By the infallibility of the Church I mean that the Church cannot err when
it teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.
"Infallibility." When we say Church is infallible, we mean that it
cannot make a mistake or err in what it teaches; that the Pope, the head of the
Church, is infallible when he teaches ex cathedra -- that is, as
the successor of St. Peter, the vicar of Christ. Cathedra signifies a
seat, ex stands for "out of"; therefore, ex cathedra means out of the
chair or office of St. Peter, because chair is sometimes used for office. Thus
we say the presidential chair is opposed to this or that, when we intend to say
the president, or the one in that office, is opposed to it. The cathedral is
the church in which the bishop usually officiates, so called on account of the
bishopīs cathedra, or throne, being in it.
A. The Church teaches infallibly when it speaks through the Pope and bishops
united in general council, or through the Pope alone when he proclaims to all
the faithful a doctrine of faith or morals.
But how will we know when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, when he is
speaking daily to people from all parts of the world? To speak ex cathedra
or infallibly, three things are required:
You understand now what the infallibility of the Pope implies, and that it does
not mean, as the enemies of the Church say, that the Pope cannot sin, cannot be
mistaken in anything. The Pope can sin just the same as anyone else; he could
be a very bad man if he wanted to be so, and take the punishment God would
inflict for his sins. Could he not be very angry, entirely neglect prayer, or
pray with willful distraction; could he not be proud, covetous, etc.? And these
are sins. Therefore he could sin; and hence he has to go to confession and
seek forgiveness just as we do. Therefore remember this: whether the Pope be a
bad man or a good man in his private life, he must always tell the truth when
he speaks ex cathedra, because the Holy Ghost is guiding him and will
not permit him to err or teach falsehood in faith or morals.
We have examples in the Bible (Numbers 22, 23) where God sometimes makes
even bad men foretell the truth. Once He gave an ass the power to speak, that
it might protest against the wrongdoing of its wicked and cruel rider.
We have seen how governments interfere with the rights of the Holy Father, and
thus he has need of his temporal power that he may be altogether independent of
any government. Now let me explain to you what is meant by the Temporal Power
of the Pope. Well, then, the Holy Father should have some city or states, not
belonging to any government, in which he would be the chief and only ruler. Up
to the year 1870 the Holy Father did have such states: they were called the
Papal States, and the power he had over them just like that of any other
ruler-was called the temporal power.
Now how did he get those states and how did he lose them? He got them in the
most just manner, and held possession of them for about a thousand years.
Hundreds of years ago the people of Rome and the surrounding countries elected
the Pope their sole ruler. He was already their spiritual ruler, and they made
him also their temporal ruler. Then the Pope protected and governed them as
other rulers do. Later, kings and princes added other lands, and thus by
degrees the possessions of the Pope became quite extended.
How did he lose these possessions? The Italian government took them from him
in the most unjust manner. Besides the lands, they deprived the Church of
other property donated to it by its faithful children. No ruler in the world
had a more just claim or better right to his possessions than the Holy Father,
and a government robbed him of them as a thief might take forcibly from you
whatever had been justly given to you, when he found you were unable to defend
yourself against him.
But has the Holy Father need of his temporal power? Yes, the Holy Father has
need of some temporal power. He must be free and independent in governing the
Church. He must be free to say what he wishes to all Catholics throughout the
world, and free to hear whatever they have to say to him. But if the Pope is
under another ruler he cannot be free. That ruler may cast him into prison,
and not allow him to communicate with the bishops of the world. At least, he
can say nothing about the injustice of the ruler who is over him. Therefore
the Pope must have some possessions of his own, that he may not be afraid of
the injustice of any ruler, and may speak out the truth boldly to the whole
world, denouncing bad rulers and praising good ones as they deserve.
Mind, I do not say what possessions the Holy Father should have but simply that
he should have some, in which he would be altogether independent. In justice
he should have all that was taken from him. We have a good example here in the
United States to illustrate the need of the independence of the Pope. You know
every State in the United States is a little government in itself, with its own
governor, legislature, laws, etc. Now over all these little governments or
States we have the government of the United States, with the President at its
head. In the beginning the members of the United States Government assembled
to transact the business of the nation sometimes in one State and sometimes in
another-sometimes in New York and sometimes in Pennsylvania, etc. But they
soon found that in order to be independent of every State and just to all, they
must have some territory or possessions of their own not under the power of any
State. So some of the States granted them Washington and the country about it
for ten miles square-now called the District of Columbia which the United
States government could freely perform its duties. In a similar manner the
Holy Father is over all the governments of the world in matters of religion-in
matters of justice and right; and just as the United States government has to
decide between the rights of one State and the rights of another, so the Holy
Father has sometimes to decide between the rights of one government and the
rights of another, and must, in order to be just with all, be free and
independent of all.
Again, the temporal power of the Pope is very useful to the Church; for with
the money and goods received from his possessions the Holy Father can educate
priests and teachers, print books, etc., for the foreign missions. He can also
support churches, school, and institutions in poor countries, and especially
where the missionaries are laboring for the conversion of the native heathens.
When the Holy Father had his own possessions he could do much that he cannot
now do for the conversion of pagan nations. At present he must depend entirely
upon the charitable offerings of the faithful for all good works, even for his
own support. The offering we make once a year for the support of the Holy
Father is called "Peterīs pence," because it began by everyone sending yearly a
penny to the Pope, the successor of St. Peter.
A. By the indefectibility of the Church I mean that the Church, as Christ
founded it, will last till the end of time.
Therefore indefectibility means that the Church can never change any of
the doctrines that Our Lord taught, nor ever cease to exist. When we say it is
infallible, we mean that it cannot teach error while it lasts; but when we say
it is indefectible, we mean that it will last forever and be infallible
forever, and also that it will always remain the same as Our Lord founded it.
There are two things that you must clearly understand and not confound, namely,
the two kinds of laws in the Church-those which Our Lord gave it and those
which it made itself. The laws that Our Lord gave it can never change For
example, the Church could not abolish one of the Sacraments, leaving only six;
neither could it add a new one, making eight. But when, for example, the
Church declares that on a certain day we cannot eat flesh meat, it makes the
law itself, and can change it when it wishes. Our Lord left His Church free to
make certain laws, just as they would be needed. It has always exercised this
power, and made laws to suit the circumstances of the place or times. Even now
it does away with some of its old laws that are no longer useful, and makes new
ones that are more necessary. But the doctrines, the truths of faith or
morals, the things we must believe and do to save our souls, it never changes
and never can change: it may regulate some things in the application of the
divine laws, but the laws themselves can never change in substance.
A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible
head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests, and
people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.
A. The Church has four marks by which it may be known: it is one; it is
holy; it is catholic; it is apostolic.
A. The Church is one because all its members agree in one faith, are all in
one communion, and are all under one head.
The Catholic Church is "one," first in government and second in
doctrine. In government every pastor has a certain parish or territory
in which all the people belong to his congregation-they form his flock. He has
to take care only of these, to teach them, give them the Sacraments, etc. He
has not to be responsible for those outside his parish. Then over the pastor
we have the bishop, who looks after a certain number of pastors; then comes the
archbishop over a certain number of bishops; next comes the primate, who is
head of all the archbishops in the country; and over all the primates of the
world we have the Holy Father. Thus, when the Holy Father speaks to the
bishops, the bishops speak to the priests, and the priests to the people. The
Church is therefore one in government, like a great army spread over the world.
We can go up step by step from the lowest member of the Church to the
highest-the Holy Father; and from him to Our Lord Himself, who is the invisible
head of all. This regular body of priests, bishops, archbishops, etc., so
arranged, one superior to the other, is called the hierarchy of the Church.
The Church is one also in doctrine-that is, every one of the three
hundred million of Catholics in the world believes exactly the same truths. If
any Catholic denies only one article of faith, though he believes all the rest,
he ceases to be a Catholic, and is cut off from the Church. If, for example,
you would not believe Matrimony or Holy Orders a Sacrament, or that Our Lord is
present in the Holy Eucharist, you would not be a Catholic, though you believed
all the other teachings of the Church.
Therefore the Church is one both in government and teaching or doctrine. Now,
has any other Church claiming to be Christīs Church that mark? No. The
Protestant religions are not one either in government or belief The Protestants
of England have no authority over the Protestants of America, and those of
America have nothing to say over those of Germany or France. So every country
is independent, and they have no chief head. Neither are they one in belief.
In the same country there are many kinds of Protestants, Episcopalians,
Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., who do not believe the same thing. Even those
who attend the same church and profess the same religion do not all believe the
same. Everyone, they say, has a right to interpret the Holy Scriptures
according to his own views, so they take many different meanings out of the
very same words. There must be some chief person to tell the true meaning of
the Holy Scriptures when there is a dispute about it; but they have no such
chief, and the result is they are never done disputing.
The United States has a constitution and laws. Now, suppose every citizen was
allowed to construe the laws to suit himself, without any regard for the rights
of others, what a fine state of affairs we should soon have. But the wise
makers of the constitution and laws of the United States did not leave us in
such danger. They appointed judges to interpret or explain the laws and give
the correct meaning when disputes arise. Then in Washington there is a chief
judge for the whole United States; and when he says the words of the law mean
this or that, every citizen must abide by his decision, and there is no appeal
from it. Just in the same way Our Lord made laws for all men, and while He was
upon earth He explained them Himself. He never left all men free to take their
own meaning out of them. He appointed judges-the bishops; and a chief judge
for the whole world the Pope. The Holy Ghost guides him, as we have seen
above, so that he cannot make mistakes in the meaning of Christīs laws; and
when he says, this is what the words of Our Lord in His law signify, no one who
is a true Christian can refuse to believe, or can appeal from his decision.
A. The Church is holy because its founder, Jesus Christ, is holy; because it
teaches a holy doctrine, invites all to a holy life, and because of the eminent
holiness of so many thousands of its children.
Protestant religions have not holy doctrines if we examine them closely.
They teach, for example, that faith without good works will save us, and thus
take away the motives for doing good; that marriage is not binding for life-the
husband and wife may for some causes separate, or get a divorce, and marry
again. This would leave the children without the care of their proper parents,
sometimes without a home, and nearly always without religious instruction. The
same persons might separate again and marry another time, and thus there would
be nothing but confusion and immorality in society. Again, some of their
doctrines teach that we cannot help sinning; so everyone could excuse himself
for his sins by saying he could not help them, which you can easily see would
lead to the worst of consequences. Lastly, their doctrines have never made one
saint-acknowledged as such from miracles performed. Protestants are so called
because, when their ancestors rebelled against the Church about three hundred
years ago, the Church made certain laws and they protested against them,
separated from the Church, and formed a new religion of their own.
A. The Church is catholic or universal because it subsists in all ages,
teaches all nations, and maintains all truth.
"Subsists" means to have existence.
"Catholic," The word catholic signifies universal. The Church is
universal in three ways, viz.: in time, in place, and in doctrine. It is
universal in time; for from the day Our Lord commissioned His Apostles to
preach to the whole world down to the present, it has existed, taught, and
labored in every age. It is universal in place; that is, it is not confined to
one part of the world, but teaches throughout the entire world. It is
universal in doctrine, for it teaches the same doctrines and administers the
same Sacraments everywhere; and its doctrines are suited to all classes of
men-to the ignorant as well as the learned, to the poor as well as the rich.
It teaches by the voice of its priests and bishops, and all, civilized or
uncivilized, to whom its voice reaches, can learn its doctrines, receive its
Sacraments, and practice its devotions.
It has converted all the pagan nations that have ever been converted, and the
title catholic belongs to the Roman Catholic Church alone. All Protestant
churches that claim this title do so unjustly. They are not universal in time,
and cannot be called the Church of all ages, because they were established only
three hundred or four hundred or less years ago. They are not catholic in
place, because they are mostly confined to particular countries. They are not
universal in doctrine, because what they teach in one country they reject in
another; and even in the same country, what they teach at one time they reject
at another. Wherever it is possible for civilized people to go, there you will
find a priest saying Mass in just the same way you see him saying it here. It
is a great consolation for one in a strange country to enter a church and hear
Mass, perceiving no difference in the vestments, ceremonies, or language of the
priest. A little altar boy from the United States could serve Mass in any part
of the world. See, therefore, the great advantage the Church has in using the
Latin language instead of the vernacular or ordinary language of the people.
If the Church used the usual language of the people, the Mass would seem
different in every country; while natives would understand the words of the
priest, strangers would not.
The Latin language is now what we call a dead language; that is, it is not the
common language of any country; and because it is a dead language does not
change: another reason why the Church uses it, that nothing may change in its
divine service. The prayers used in the Church are exactly the same today as
they were when they were written many centuries ago. The living languages-that
is, those in use, such as English, French, German, etc., are always changing a
little new words are being added, and the meaning of old ones changed. The
Church uses the same language all over the world to show that it is not the
Church of any particular country, but the true Church of all men everywhere.
Again, using only one language, the Church can hold its great councils, call
together all the bishops of the world, that they may condemn errors or make
wise laws. When the Holy Father addresses them in Latin they can all
understand and answer him. If, therefore, the Church did not use the same
language everywhere how could this be done, unless everyone present understood
all the languages of the world-which is a thing nearly impossible. But someone
might say, if the Mass was said in English we could follow it better. You can
follow just as well in Latin, for in nearly all prayerbooks you have besides
the Latin said by the priest the meaning of it in English on the same page, or
you have the English alone.
A. The Church is apostolic because it was founded by Christ on His
Apostles and is governed by their lawful successors, and because it has never
ceased, and never will cease, to teach their doctrine.
"Apostolic," which means that the Church was founded at the time of the
Apostles, and has been the same ever since.
Since the time of St. Peter, the first Pope, there have been 261 Popes. You
can go back from our present Holy Father, Pius XI, to Benedict XV, who was
before him, to Pius X, who was before him, to Leo XIII, before him, and so on
one by one till you come to St. Peter himself, who lived at the time of Our
Lord. Thus the Church is apostolic in its origin or beginning.
It is also apostolic in its teaching; for all the doctrines it teaches now were
taught by the Apostles. The Church does not make new doctrines, but it teaches
its truths more clearly and distinctly when someone denies them. For example
it would not be necessary for you to prove yourself good and honest till
somebody said you were bad and dishonest. You prove your honesty when it is
denied, but both you and your friends believed it always, though you did not
declare it till it was denied. In just the same way the Church always believed
that Our Lord is the Son of God; that there are seven Sacraments; that the Pope
is infallible, etc. These truths and all the others were believed by the
Apostles, and the Church proclaimed them in a special manner when they were
denied. Then it called together in council all its bishops, and they, with the
Holy Father, proclaimed these truths-not as new doctrines, but as truths always
believed by the Church, and now defined because denied.
Protestants have not for their churches the mark apostolic. How could their
churches be founded by the Apostles, when the Apostles were dead more than
fourteen hundred years before there were any Protestant churches? What is
more, they have changed the teachings of the Apostles; and so they have not the
mark apostolic either in their origin or teaching.
But they say the Catholic Church fell into error and made mistakes, and that
God wished reformers to correct these errors. How could the Church fall into
error when Our Lord promised to remain always with- it, and to send the Holy
Ghost to guide and teach it forever? And, secondly, if God sent the
Protestants to correct the mistakes of the Catholic Church, what proof do they
give us that they have such power from God? When, as we have seen, God sends
anyone to do a special work, He always gives him power to prove his mission.
When He sent Moses, He gave him signs-the plagues of Egypt. When He sent His
prophets, they called down fire and rain from Heaven. (3 Kings 18). But
Protestants have shown us no signs and performed no miracles; therefore we
cannot believe their assertion that God sent them to correct the Catholic
Church. Neither can we believe that Our Lord broke His promise to stay with
the Church. We shall see the whole truth of the matter if we go back to the
establishment of the Protestant religion and consider the life of Luther and
the others who founded it.
Luther, then a young man, while out one day saw his friend killed at his side
by a stroke of lightning. Much affected by that sad event, Luther became a
priest in the order of the Augustinians. He was a learned man and a great
preacher, but very proud. The Holy Father was completing St. Peterīs Church in
Rome, and about that time granted an indulgence to those giving alms for the
purpose, just as pastors now offer Masses for those who contribute means to
build a new church, or hospital, asylum, etc.
The Holy Father sent Dominican priests to preach about this indulgence and
collect this money. Then Luther, when he found that he, a great preacher, was
not appointed, was probably jealous. He first began to preach against the
abuses of indulgences: but pride made him go further, and soon he began to
preach against the doctrine of indulgences, and thus became a heretic. Then he
was condemned by the Pope, and cut off from the Church. Being proud, he would
not submit, but began to form a new religion, now called Protestant. But how
did he get the people to follow him? Oh, very easily. Then, as now, there
were plenty of bad and indifferent Catholics. At that time the Church was rich
and had much property and lands; because when rich Catholics died they often
left to the Church property for its own support and the support of its
institutions. Even during their lifetime kings and princes sometimes gave the
Church large donations of lands and money. The Church then was supported by
these gifts and the income or rents of the lands, and did not need to look for
collections from the people, as it has to do now. Here, then, is how Luther
got many to follow him. He told greedy princes that if they came with him they
could become rich by seizing the property of all the churches, and the greedy
princes, glad of an excuse, went with him. Then he told the people-the bad
Catholics-that fasting was too severe; going to confession too hard; hearing
Mass every Sunday too difficult; and if they renounced their faith and embraced
his new religion he would do away with all these things: so they also followed
him. He himself broke his solemn vows made to God, and the people easily
followed his example.
Those attending the Protestant churches in our times are generally rich and
refined people, but you must not think that the first Protestants of three
hundred years ago were just like them. No. Many of them were from the lowest
and worst-I do not say poorest-classes in society; and when they got an excuse,
they went about destroying churches and institutions, burning beautiful
statues, paintings, music, books, and works of art that the Church had
collected and preserved for centuries. This you may read in any of the
histories of the Church and times. The Protestants of the present day praise
all these works of art now; but if their ancestors had had their way every
beautiful work of art would have been destroyed.
Some persons say they would not be members of the Catholic Church because so
many poor people attend it. Then they do not want to belong to the Church of
Our Lord, because His Church is the Church of both poor and rich. When St.
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Our Lord if He were really the
Messias, Our Lord did not say yes or no, but told them to relate to John what
they had heard and seen (Matt. 11:5), namely, that He (Christ) cured the
blind, the lame, and the deaf, and preached to the poor. Therefore Our Lord
gave preaching to the poor as a proof that He is the true Redeemer; and since
Our Lord Himself had the poor in His congregation, the Church everywhere must
have the poor among its members, for it must do what Our Lord did. So if you
see a church to which the poor people never go, in which they are not welcome,
you have good reason to suspect it is not the Church of Our Lord not the true
Church. Again, poverty and riches belong only to this world and make a
distinction only here. The one who is poorest in this worldīs goods may be
richest in Godīs grace. Indeed, if most Protestants studied the early history
of their religion they would not be proud, but ashamed of it. How little they
would think of their ancestors who gave
up God for some worldly gain, while the Catholic martyrs gave up everything,
even their lives, rather than forsake God and the true religion.
A. These attributes and marks are found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church
We have seen that some religions may seem to have one or two of the
marks; but the Catholic Church alone has them all, and is consequently the only
true Church of Christ. The other religions are not one-that is, united over
the world; they give no proof of holiness, never having had any great saints
whom God acknowledged as such by performing miracles for them. They are not
catholic, because they have not taught in all ages and nations. They are not
apostolic, because established hundreds of years after the Apostles. They are
not infallible, for they have now declared things to be false which they
formerly declared to be true; they are not indefectible-they are not as Our
Lord founded them, for He never founded them; and they are constantly making
changes in their beliefs and practices.
The marks of the Church are necessary also because the Church must be a visible
Church, that all men may be able to see and know it; for Our Lord said, "He
that will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the
publican." (Matt. 18:17). Heathens were those who worshipped false
gods. Publicans were men who gathered the taxes from the Jews for the Romans;
they were generally very cruel to the people, and were much hated and despised
by them. Therefore Our Lord meant: if anyone will not obey the Church, you
should avoid him as you avoid the heathens and the publicans, whom you despise.
Now no one can be blamed for not obeying a church that is invisible and
unknown. Therefore the true Church must be a visible body and easily known to
all who earnestly seek it as the Church of Christ. But if some shut their eyes
and refuse to look at the light of truth, ignorance will not excuse them; they
must be blamed and fall under the sentence of Our Lord.
A. A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
Three things are necessary to make a Sacrament. There must be:
Now, a sign is that which tells us that something else exists. Smoke indicates
the presence of fire.
A red light on a railroad tells that there is danger at the spot. Therefore,
the outward signs in the Sacraments tell us that there is in the Sacraments
something we do not see and which they signify and impart. For example, the
outward sign in Baptism is the pouring of the water on the head of the person
to be baptized, and the saying of the words. Water is generally used for
cleaning purposes. Water, therefore, is used in Baptism as an outward sign to
show that as the water cleans the body, so the grace given in Baptism cleans
the soul. It is not a mere sign, for at the very moment that the priest pours
the water and says the words of Baptism, by the pouring of the water and saying
of the words with the proper intention the soul is cleansed from Original Sin;
that is, the inward grace is given by the application of the outward sign.
Again, in Confirmation the outward sign is the anointing with oil, the Bishopīs
prayer, and the placing of his hands upon us. Now what inward grace is given
in Confirmation? A grace which strengthens us in our faith. Oil, therefore,
is used for the outward sign in this Sacrament, because oil gives strength and
In olden times the gladiators-men who fought with swords as prize-fighters do
now with their hands-used oil upon their bodies to make them strong. Oil was
used also to heal wounds. Thus in Confirmation the application of this outward
sign of strength gives the inward grace of light and strength. Moreover, oil
easily spreads itself over anything and remains on it. A drop of water falling
on paper dries up quickly; but a drop of oil soaks in and spreads over it. So
oil is used to show also that the grace of Confirmation spreads out over our
whole lives, and strengthens us in our faith at all times.
Again, in Penance we have the outward sign when the priest raises his hand and
pronounces over us the words of absolution.
If we did not have these outward signs how could anyone know just at what time
the graces are given? We can know now, for at the very moment the outward sign
is applied the grace is given; because it is the application of the sign that
by divine institution gives the grace, and thus the two must take place
"Institution by Christ" is absolutely necessary because He gives all
grace, and He alone can determine the manner in which He wishes it distributed.
The Church can distribute His grace, but only in the way He wishes. Hence it
cannot make new Sacraments or abolish old ones.
A. There are seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist,
Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
The life of our soul is in many ways similar to the life of our body.
Our bodies must first be born, then strengthened, then fed. When sick, we must
be cured: and when about to die, we must be taken care of. Then there must be
someone to rule others, and there must be persons to be governed. In like
manner, we are spiritually born into a new life by Baptism, we are strengthened
by Confirmation, fed with the Holy Eucharist, and cured of the maladies of our
souls by Penance. By Extreme Unction we are helped at the hour of death; by
Holy Orders our spiritual rulers are appointed by God; and by Matrimony
families, with a father at the head and children to be ruled, are established.
Thus we have our spiritual life similar in many things to our physical or
A. The Sacraments have the power of giving grace from the merits of Jesus
Our Lord died to merit grace for us, and appointed the Sacraments as the
chief means by which it was to be given.
A. Some of the Sacraments give sanctifying grace, and others increase it in
Baptism and Penance give this sanctifying grace when there is not any of
it in the soul. But the other Sacraments are received while we are in a state
of grace, and they therefore increase the quantity of it in our souls.
A. The Sacraments that give sanctifying grace are Baptism and Penance; and
they are called Sacraments of the dead.
"Of the dead," Not of a dead person; for when a person is dead he cannot
receive any of the Sacraments. It is only while we live upon earth that we are
on trial, and can do good or evil, and merit grace. At death we receive simply
our reward or punishment for what we have done while living. Therefore,
Sacraments of the dead mean Sacraments given to a dead soul, that is, to a soul
in mortal sin. When grace--its life--is all out of the soul it can do nothing
to merit Heaven; and we say it is dead, because the dead can do nothing for
themselves. If a person receives--as many do--the Sacrament of Penance while
his soul is not in a state of mortal sin, what then? Then the soul--already
living--receives an increase of sanctifying grace, that is, greater spiritual
life and strength.
A. Baptism and Penance are called Sacraments of the dead because they take
away sin, which is the death of the soul, and give grace, which is its life.
A. The Sacraments that increase sanctifying grace in the soul are:
Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and
they are called Sacraments of the living.
A. Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony
are called the Sacraments of the living because those who receive them worthily
are already living the life of grace.
A. He who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin commits a
sacrilege, which is a great sin, because it is an abuse of a sacred thing.
"Sacrilege," There are other ways besides the unworthy reception of the
Sacraments in which a person may commit sacrilege. You could commit it by
treating any sacred thing with great disrespect. For example, by making common
use of the sacred vessels used at the altar; by stealing from the church; by
turning the church into a market, etc. You could commit it also by willfully
killing or wounding persons consecrated to God, such as nuns, priests, bishops,
etc. Therefore sacrilege can be committed by willfully abusing or treating
with great irreverence any sacred person, sacred place, or sacred thing.
A. Besides sanctifying grace, the Sacraments give another grace, called
A. Sacramental grace is a special help which God gives to attain the end for
which He instituted each Sacrament.
For example, what was the end for which Penance was instituted? To
forgive sins and keep us out of sin. Therefore -the sacramental grace given in
Penance is a grace that will enable us to overcome temptation and avoid the
sins we have been in the habit of committing. When a person is ill the
doctorīs medicine generally produces two effects: one is to cure the disease
and the other to strengthen the person so that he may not fall back into the
old condition. Well, it is just the same in the Sacraments; the grace given
produces two effects: one is to sanctify us and the other to prevent us from
falling into the same sins. Again, Confirmation was instituted that we might
become more perfect Christians, stronger in our faith. Therefore the
sacramental grace of Confirmation will strengthen us to profess our faith when
circumstances require it; or when we are tempted to doubt any revealed truth,
it will help us to overcome the temptation. So in all the Sacraments we
receive the sacramental grace or special help given to attain the end for which
the Sacraments were separately instituted.
A. The Sacraments always give grace, if we receive them with the right
"Right dispositions"; that is, if we do all that God and the Church
require us to do when we receive them. For instance, in Penance the right
disposition is to confess all our mortal sins as we know them, to be sorry for
them, and have the determination never to commit them again. The right
disposition for the Holy Eucharist is to be in a state of grace, and-except in
special cases of sickness-fasting for one hour.
A. We can receive the Sacraments more than once, except Baptism,
Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
Baptism is so important that if we do not receive it we cannot receive
any other of the Sacraments. Now, to administer Baptism validly, that is,
properly, everything must be done exactly as Our Lord intended and the Church
teaches. The proper kind of water and all the exact words must be used. Also,
the water must touch the body, that is, the head if possible. Now persons not
knowing well how to baptize might neglect some of these things, and thus the
person would not e baptized. The Church wishes to be certain that all its
children are baptized; so when there is any doubt about the first Baptism, it
baptizes again conditionally, that is, the priest says in giving the Baptism
over again: If you are not baptized already, I baptize you now. Therefore if
the person was rightly baptized the first time, the second ceremony has no
effect, because the priest does not intend to give Baptism a second time. But
if the first Baptism was not rightly given, then the second takes effect. In
either case Baptism is given only once; for if the first was valid, the second
is not given; and if the first was invalid, the second is given.
Converts to the Church are generally baptized conditionally, because there is
doubt about the validity of the Baptism they received.
The Sacraments may be given conditionally when we doubt if they were or can be
A. We cannot receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders more than once,
because they imprint a character in the soul.
"A character," It is a spiritual character, and remains forever, so that
whether the person is in Heaven or Hell this mark will be seen. It will show
that those having it were Christians, who received Baptism, Confirmation, or
Holy Orders. If they are in Heaven, these characters will shine out to their
honor, and will show how well they used the grace God gave them. If they are
in Hell, these characters will be to their disgrace, and show how many gifts
and graces God bestowed upon them, and how shamefully they abused all.
A. The character which these Sacraments imprint in the soul is a spiritual
mark which remains forever.
A. This character remains in the soul even after death: for the honor and
glory of those who are saved; for the shame and punishment of those who are
A. Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from Original Sin, makes us
Christians, children of God, and heirs of Heaven.
"Christians," that is, members of the Church of Christ. "Children of
God," that is, adopted children. All men are children of God by their
creation, but Christians are children of God, not merely by creation, but also
by grace and union with Our Lord. "Heirs of Heaven." An heir is one who
inherits property, money, or goods at the death of another. These things are
left by a will or given by the laws of the State, when the person dies without
making a will. A will is a written statement in which a person declares what
he wishes to have done, at his death, with whatever he possesses the charitable
objects or the persons to whom he wishes to leave his goods. This will is
called also the last testament. It is signed by witnesses, and after the death
of the testator is committed to the care of a person-called the executor whose
business it is to see that all stated in the will or testament is carried out.
There is an officer in the State to take these things in hand and settle them
according to law, when the amount left is large, and there is a dispute about
it. You can understand better now why we call the Bible the Old and the New
Testament. When Our Lord died we were left an inheritance and spiritual
property. The inheritance was Heaven, which we had lost through the sin of
Adam and regained by the death of Our Lord. The spiritual property was Godīs
grace, which He merited for us. The Old Testament contains the promise of what
Our Lord would leave us at His death, and the New Testament shows that He kept
His promise and did leave what He said. The Old Testament was written before
He died, and the New Testament after His death. The witnesses of these
testaments were the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and evangelists, who heard
God making the promises through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Church
is the executor of Christīs will, and it is its business to see that all men
receive what Christ left them, namely, Godīs grace and Heaven. It must also
see that they are not cheated out of it by their enemies-the devil, the world,
and the flesh.
A. Actual sins and all the punishment due to them are remitted by Baptism,
if the person baptized be guilty of any.
We know that Baptism remits Original Sin. But suppose a person is not
baptized till he is twenty-five or thirty years old; he has surely committed
some sins since he was seven years of age-the time at which he received the use
of reason. Now the question asks, Are all his sins, those he committed himself
as well as the Original Sin, forgiven by Baptism? The answer is, Yes. All his
sins are forgiven, so that he has not to confess them. But he must be heartily
sorry for them and have the firm determination of never committing them again,
just as in confession. Moreover, that he may not have to confess these sins,
we must be absolutely certain that he was never baptized before. Besides
remitting the sins themselves, Baptism remits all the temporal punishment due
In the Sacrament of Penance the sinner is saved from the eternal
punishment-that is, Hell-and from part of the temporal punishment. But
although the sins have been forgiven, the sinner must make satisfaction to God
for the insult offered by his sins.
Therefore, he must suffer punishment in this world or in Purgatory. We call
this punishment temporal, because it will not last forever. You can make this
satisfaction to God while on earth, and thus avoid much of the temporal
punishment by prayers, fasting, gaining indulgences, alms, and good works; and
even by bearing your sufferings, trials, and afflictions patiently, and
offering them up to God in satisfaction for your sins.
In Baptism both the eternal and temporal debt are washed away; so that if a
person just baptized died immediately, he would go directly to Heaven, not to
Purgatory: because persons go to Purgatory to pay off the temporal debt.
Neither could that person gain an indulgence, because indulgences are only to
help us to pay the temporal debt. Neither could that person receive the
Sacrament of Penance, because Penance remits only sin committed after Baptism,
and that person had no sins to remit, because he died just after receiving
Baptism. See, then, the goodness of Our Lord in instituting Baptism, to
forgive everything and leave us as free from guilt as our first parents were
when God created them.
A. Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter
into the kingdom of Heaven.
Those who through no fault of theirs die without Baptism, though they
have never committed sin, cannot enter Heaven neither will they go to Hell.
After the Last Judgment there will be no Purgatory. Where, then, will they go?
God in His goodness will provide a place of rest for them, where they will not
suffer and will be in a state of natural peace; but they will never see God or
Heaven. God might have created us for a purely natural and material end, so
that we would live forever upon the earth and be naturally happy with the good
things God would give us. But then we would never have known of Heaven or God
as we do now. Such happiness on earth would be nothing compared to the
delights of Heaven and the presence of God; so that, now, since God has given
us, through His holy revelations, a knowledge of Himself and Heaven, we would
be miserable if left always upon the earth. Those, then, who die without
Baptism do not know what they have lost, and are naturally happy; but we who
know all they have lost for want of Baptism know how very unfortunate they are.
Think, then, what a terrible crime it is to willfully allow anyone to die
without Baptism, or to deprive a little child of life before it can be
baptized! Suppose all the members of a family but one little infant have been
baptized; when the Day of Judgment comes, while all the other members of a
family-father, mother, and children-may go into Heaven, that little one will
have to remain out; that little brother or sister will be separated from its
family forever, and never, never see God or Heaven. How heartless and cruel,
then, must a person be who would deprive that little infant of happiness for
all eternity-just that its mother or someone else might have a little less
trouble or suffering here upon earth.
A. The priest is the ordinary minister of Baptism; but in case of necessity
anyone who has the use of reason may baptize.
"Ordinary" that is, the one who has a right to baptize and generally
does; others can baptize only in case of necessity.
"Priest" and all above him-bishops, and the Pope; for they have all the
power the priest has, and more besides. "Minister" is the name given
here to one who performs any of the sacred rites or ceremonies of the Church.
"Necessity." When the ordinary minister cannot be had and when Baptism
must be given; for if it is not absolutely necessary to give the Baptism, then
you must wait for the ordinary minister.
"Anyone" Even persons not Catholics or not Christians may, in case of
necessity, baptize a person wishing to receive Baptism, if they know how to
baptize and seriously wish to do what the Church of Christ does when it
baptizes. You cannot baptize a person against his will. Neither can you
baptize an infant whose parents are unwilling to have the child baptized, or
when the child will not be brought up in the Catholic religion. But if the
child is dying, it can and should be baptized, even without the consent of the
"Use of "reason" Because the person must intend to do what Our Lord
ordered to be done in giving Baptism; and a little child could not understand,
and could not therefore baptize.
A. Whoever baptizes should pour water on the head of the person to be
baptized, and say, while pouring the water: I baptize thee in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
When the priest baptizes in the church, he uses consecrated water-that
is, water blessed for that purpose on Holy Saturday, and mixed with holy oil.
When he or any other, in case of necessity, baptizes in a private house, he may
use plain, clean water, and he baptizes without the other ceremonies used in
the church. Remember, in Baptism you can use ordinary clean water, warm or
cold. When the priest or anyone baptizes by simply pouring the water and
pronouncing the words of Baptism, we call it private Baptism. The Baptism
given in church with all the ceremonies is called solemn Baptism. Any person
baptized privately should be brought to the church afterwards to have the rest
of the ceremonies performed.
It will increase your respect for the Sacrament to know what ceremonies are
used in solemn Baptism, and what they signify. The following things must be
prepared: the holy oils, a little salt, a little pitcher or something similar
to pour the water from, a vessel to receive the water when poured, some cotton,
two stoles, one white and one purple, towels, a white cloth, candle, and
All being ready, the person holding the infant takes it on the right arm, face
up, and the priest, having learned the name it is to be given, begins by asking
the one to be baptized, "What do you ask of the Church of God?" And the
godparents answer for the child, "Faith." If the person receiving Baptism is
capable of answering for himself, he must do so. Then the priest exhorts the
child to keep the Commandments and love God; then he breathes three times upon
it and bids the evil spirit depart. He next prays for the child and puts a
little salt into its mouth, as a sign of the wisdom that Faith gives, and again
prays for the child. Then he places the end of his stole over it as a sign
that it is led into the Church; for Baptism is given in a place called the
baptistery, railed off from the church and near the door, because formerly the
ceremony up to this point was performed outside the church, and at this part of
the ceremony the person was led in to be baptized. Then before Baptism the
person says the Creed and the Our Father; for when a grown person is to be
baptized he must first be instructed in all the truths of religion, and he must
say the Creed to show that he believes them. Again the priest prays and places
a little spittle on the ears and nose of the child, using at the same time the
words used by Our Lord when He spit upon the ground, and rubbing the spittle
and clay upon the eyes of the blind man, healed him. (John 9:6). The
priest next asks the child if it renounces the devil and all his works and
pomps--that is, vanities and empty shows; and having received the answer
anoints it with holy oil on the breast and back. Then he again asks for a
profession of faith, and finally baptizes it. After Baptism he anoints its
head with holy chrism, places a white cloth upon it to signify the purity it
received in Baptism, and as a sign that it must keep its soul free from sin.
Then he places in its hand a lighted candle, to signify the light of faith it
has received in Baptism. We are baptized at the door of the church to show
that without Baptism we are out of the Church. We are often signed with the
Sign of the Cross to remind us that our salvation is due to the Cross and
Passion of Our Lord. The priestīs stole is placed over us to show that the
Church takes us under its protection and shields us from the power of the
devil. We are anointed as a sign that we are freed from our sins and
strengthened to fight for Christ. The white cloth or garment is placed upon us
to remind us of the glory of the Resurrection; the light is placed in our hand
to show that we should burn with Christian charity.
A. There are three kinds of Baptism: Baptism of water, of desire, and of
A. Baptism of water is that which is given by pouring water on the head of
the person to be baptized, and saying at the same time, I baptize thee in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
A. Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all
that God has ordained for out salvation.
"Ardent wish" by one who has no opportunity of being baptized-for no one
can baptize himself. He must be sorry for his sins and have the desire of
receiving the Baptism of water as soon as he can; just as a person in mortal
sin and without a priest to absolve him may, when in danger of death, save his
soul from Hell by an act of perfect contrition and the firm resolution of going
to confession as soon as possible.
Baptism of desire would be useful and necessary if there was no water at hand
or no person to baptize; or if the one wishing to be baptized and those about
him did not know exactly how Baptism was to be given-which might easily happen
in pagan lands. One thing you must especially remember in giving Baptism in
case of necessity: namely, that it would not do for one person to pour the
water and another to say the words. The same person must do both, or the
Baptism will not be valid. If you are called to baptize in case of necessity,
be very careful to observe the following points, otherwise the Baptism will not
be valid: use clean water and nothing but water-no other liquid would do. Say
every one of the exact words: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It would not do to say, "I baptize thee in the
name of God"; or, "I baptize thee in the name of the Blessed Trinity"; nor
would it do to say simply, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost," without saying, "I baptize thee." Say the words at the same
time you pour the water, and be sure the water touches the skin. It would not
do to pour the water simply on the hair. You must not sprinkle the water, but
pour it upon the head.
When you have followed the above instructions carefully and are sure you have
baptized properly, never under any circumstance repeat the Baptism on the same
person. It is a sin to try to baptize more than once when you know Baptism can
be given only once. The sight of the person dying and the fact that you are
called for the first time may cause you to be somewhat excited; but be calm,
remember the importance of the Sacrament, and you will administer it as
directed. Parents should not baptize their own children in case of necessity,
if there is any other person present who can validly do it. Remember those who
administer Baptism contract a spiritual relationship with the person they
baptize (not with his parents). If they wished, years afterwards, to marry the
person they baptized, they must make this relationship known to the priest.
Sponsors are not necessary in private Baptism. A person may be sponsor for a
child in Baptism without being present at the Baptism, provided someone else
holds the child in his name and answers the questions he himself would answer
if he were present. Such a sponsor is said to stand for the child by proxy,
and he, and not the one who holds the child, is then the real godparent when,
at the request of the parents or priest he has consented to be sponsor.
A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of oneīs blood for the faith of
Baptism of blood, called martyrdom, is received by those who were not
baptized with water, but were put to death for their Catholic faith. This
takes place even nowadays in pagan countries where the missionaries are trying
to convert the poor natives. These pagans have to be instructed before they
are baptized. They do everything required of them, let us suppose, and are
waiting for the day of Baptism. Those who are being thus instructed are called
Catechumens. Someday, while they are attending their instructions, the enemies
of religion rush down upon them and put them to death. They do not resist, but
willingly suffer death for the sake of the true religion. They are martyrs
then and are baptized in their own blood; although, as we said above, blood
would not do for an ordinary Baptism even when we could not get water; so that
if a person drew blood from his own body and asked to be baptized with it, the
Baptism would not be valid. Neither would they be martyrs if put to death not
for religion or virtue but for some other reason-say political.
A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the
Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.
A. In Baptism we promise to renounce the devil with all his works and
A. The name of a saint is given in Baptism in order that the person baptized
may imitate his virtues and have him for a protector.
The saint whose name we bear is called Our patron saint. This saint has
a special love for us and a special care over us. People take the names of
great men because they admire their good qualities or their great deeds. So we
take saintsī names because we admire their Christian virtues and great
Christian deeds. We should, therefore, read the life of our patron saint and
try to imitate his virtues, and the day on which the Church celebrates the
feast of our patron saint should be a great day for us also. The Church
generally celebrates the saintīs feast on the day on which he died, that is, as
we believe, the day on which he entered into Heaven.
A. Godfathers and godmothers are given in Baptism in order that they may
promise in the name of the child what the child itself would promise if it had
the use of reason.
A. The obligation of a godfather and a godmother is to instruct the child in
its religious duties if the parents neglect to do so or die.
This is a very important obligation, and we should be faithful in the
fulfillment of it before God. Godfathers and godmothers are also called
sponsors. The following persons cannot be sponsors:
Therefore parents should select as sponsors for their children only good,
practical Catholics-not Catholics merely in name, but those who live up to
their faith, and who will be an example for their children. To repeat what has
already been said, godparents contract a spiritual relationship with their
godchild, and in the event of marriage, they must make known this relationship
to the priest. The godfather and the godmother do not contract a relationship
between themselves, or with the childīs parents, but only with the child so
that neither the godfather nor the godmother could later marry their godchild
without first obtaining proper dispensation; that is, permission from the
Church granted by the bishop or Pope. With regard to names, parents should
never be induced by any motive to give their child some foolish or fancy name
taken from books, places, or things. Above all, they should never select the
name of any enemy of the Church or unbeliever, but the name of one of Godīs
saints who will be a model for the child. Whatever name is taken, if it be not
a saintīs name, the name of some saint should be given as a middle name. If
this has been omitted in Baptism, it should be supplied in Confirmation, at
which time a new name can be added. Again, if a saintīs name has been taken in
Baptism it should not be shortened or changed so as to mean nothing; as, for
example, Mazie, Miz, etc., for Mary. When your correct name is mentioned your
saint is honored, and I might say invoked, because it should remind you of him.
For that reason you should not have meaningless or foolish pet names, known
only to your family or your friends.
A. Confirmation is a Sacrament through which we receive the Holy Ghost to
make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
In Baptism we are made Christians, but we are not very strong in our
faith till the Holy Ghost comes in Confirmation. You remember how timid the
Apostles were before the coming of the Holy Ghost, and how firm and determined
in their faith they were afterwards; and how fearlessly they preached even to
those who crucified Our Lord. "Soldiers," because we must fight for our
salvation against our three enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh. Our
Lord is our great leader in this warfare, and we must follow Him and fight as
He directs. A soldier that fights as he pleases and not as his general
commands, will surely be beaten.
A. The bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation.
"Ordinary," because in some very distant countries where on account of
the small number of Christians they have as yet no bishops, the Pope allows
some priest to give Confirmation; but then he must use the holy oil consecrated
by a bishop, and cannot consecrate oil himself.
A. The bishop extends his hands over those who are to be confirmed, prays
that they may receive the Holy Ghost, and anoints the forehead of each with
holy chrism in the form of a cross.
A. Holy chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balm, consecrated by the
The oil signifies the strength we receive, and the balm that we should
be free from the corruption of sin, and give forth the sweetness of virtue.
A. In anointing the person he confirms the bishop says: I sign thee
with the Sign of the Cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
A. By anointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross is meant,
that the Christian who is confirmed must openly profess and practice his faith,
never be ashamed of it, and rather die than deny it.
"Openly profess" that is, acknowledge that he is a Catholic when it is
necessary to do so. He need not proclaim it in the streets. "Practice"
it without regard for what other people think, say, or do. "Ashamed"
of a religion so glorious as the Catholic religion? Would we not be proud
to belong to a society of which kings and princes were members? Well, a few
centuries ago nearly all the kings, princes, and great men of the earth were
Catholics. All the saints were Catholics. All the Popes were Catholics. At
present over three hundred million people in the world are Catholics. This
Church was founded when Christ Our Lord was on earth, and is nearly two
thousand years old. All the other churches are only a few hundred years old.
We ought, therefore, to be proud of our religion, for which and in which so
many noble persons died. We should feel proud that we are Catholics; while
Protestants should feel ashamed in our presence, for they have deserted the
true standard of Christ, and followed some other leader who set up a religion
of his own in opposition to the true Church of Our Lord. They will not have
the cross or crucifix, the standard of Christ, in their churches or houses or
about their persons, and yet they claim to be Christians redeemed by the Cross.
We are called upon to defend or profess our religion when we have to do what
the Church and God require us to do: for example, hear Mass on Sundays and holy
days; abstain from the use of fleshmeat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of
Lent, fast on fast-days, and the like, when we are among persons not Catholics.
A. The bishop gives the person he confirms a slight blow on the cheek to put
him in mind that he must be ready to suffer anything, even death, for the sake
A. To receive Confirmation worthily it is necessary to be in the state of
A. Persons of an age to learn should know the chief mysteries of faith and
the duties of a Christian, and be instructed in the nature and effects of this
How can one be a good soldier who does not know the rules and
regulations of the army nor understand the commands of his general? How can
one be a good Christian who does not understand the laws of the Church and the
teachings of Christ? The "nature"--that is, understand the Sacrament
itself. "Effects" that is, what it does in our souls.
A. It is a sin to neglect Confirmation, especially in these evil days
when faith and morals are exposed to so many and such violent temptations.
"Temptations"--from the sayings and writings of the enemies of religion.
To neglect it when we have an opportunity of receiving it without any very
great difficulty would be a sin. When persons have been unfortunate enough to
grow up without Confirmation, they should come at any time in their lives to
receive it, and not be ashamed to do so on account of their age or condition in
A. The effects of Confirmation are an increase of sanctifying grace, the
strengthening of our faith, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
"Increase;" because we must be in a state of grace, that is, having
already sanctifying grace in our souls when we receive Confirmation.
"Strengtheningī " so that we have no doubt about the doctrines we
A. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are wisdom, understanding, counsel,
fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
A. We receive the gift of fear of the Lord to fill us with a dread of
On account of the goodness of God and the punishment He can inflict.
A. We receive the gift of piety to make us love God as a Father, and obey
Him because we love Him.
A. We receive the gift of knowledge to enable us to discover the will of God
in all things.
A. We receive the gift of fortitude to strengthen us to do the will of God
in all things.
Some know the will of God-what they should do-but they have not the
courage to follow the dictates of their conscience. For example, a person goes
with bad company: the gift of knowledge will teach him that he should give it
up; but the gift of fortitude will enable him to do what his conscience shows
him to be right.
A. We receive the gift of counsel to warn us of the deceits of the devil,
and of the dangers to salvation.
The devil is much wiser than we are, and has much more experience, being
among the people of the world ever since the time of Adam-about 6,000 years.
He could therefore easily deceive and overcome us if God Himself by the gift of
counsel did not enable us to discover his tricks and expose his plots. When at
times we are tempted, our conscience warns us, and if we follow the warning we
shall escape the sin. Counsel tells us when persons or places are dangerous
for our salvation.
A. We receive the gift of understanding to enable us to know more clearly
the mysteries of faith.
"Mysteries," truths we could never know by reason, but only by the
teaching of God; and the gift of understanding enables us to know better what
His teaching means. The Apostles heard and knew what Our Lord taught, but they
did not fully understand the whole meaning till the Holy Ghost had come.
A. We receive the gift of wisdom to give us a relish for the things of God
and to direct our whole life and all our actions to His honor and glory.
"Relish," a liking for, a desire for.
A. The beatitudes are:
The beatitudes are part of a sermon Our Lord once preached to the people on the
Mount. (Matt. 5). When Our Lord wished to preach, the Jews would not
always allow Him to enter their synagogues or meeting houses; so He preached to
the people in the open air. Sometimes He stood in a boat by the seashore;
sometimes on a little hill, with the people standing or sitting near Him. Did
you ever think how you would have acted if you lived at that time and were
present when Our Lord preached? How anxious you would have been to get near to
Him? How you would have pushed your way through the crowd and listened to
every word? Why, then, do you sometimes pay so little attention in church or
at instructions when the words of Our Lord are repeated to you? Our Lord
instituted a Church which, as we know, is sometimes called the kingdom of
Heaven. In this sermon He laid down the condition for being good subjects of
His kingdom; that is, He gives the virtues we should practice to be good
children of the Church. He tells us what rewards we shall have for practicing
these virtues and leading a holy life: namely, Godīs grace and blessing in this
world and everlasting glory in Heaven.
A. The twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are charity, joy, peace, patience,
benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and
"Fruits," the things that grow from the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
"Charity," love of God and. our neighbor, "Peace" with God and
man and ourselves. With God, because we are His friends. With man, because we
deal justly with all and are kind to all. With ourselves, because we have a
good conscience, that does not accuse us of sin. "Benignity,"
disposition to do good and show kindness. "Long-suffering"--same as
patience. "Modesty, continency, and chastity" refer to purity in
thoughts, words, looks, and actions.
A. Penance is a Sacrament in which the sins committed after Baptism are
One who has never been baptized could not go to confession and receive
absolution, nor indeed any of the Sacraments.
A. The Sacrament of Penance remits sin and restores the friendship of God to
the soul by means of the absolution of the priest.
"Absolution" means the words the priest says at the time he forgives the
sins. Absolve means to loose or free. When ministers or ambassadors
are sent by our government to represent the United States in England, France,
Germany, or other countries, whatever they do there officially is done by the
United States. If they make an agreement with the governments to which they
are sent, the United States sanctions it, and the very moment they sign the
agreement it is signed and sanctioned by the authority of our government whose
representatives they are, and their official action becomes the action of the
United States itself. But when their term of office expires, though they
remain in the foreign countries, they have no longer any power to sign
agreements in the name and with the authority of the United States.
You see, therefore, that it is the power that is given them, and not their own,
that they exercise. In like manner Our Lord commissioned His priests and gave
them the power to forgive sins, and whatever they do in the Sacrament of
Penance He Himself does. At the very moment the priest pronounces the words of
absolution on earth his sentence is ratified in Heaven and the sins of the
penitent are blotted out.
It may increase your veneration for the Sacrament to know the precise manner in
which absolution is given. After the confession and giving of the penance, the
priest first prays for the sinner, saying: "May Almighty God have mercy on you,
and, your sins being forgiven, bring you to life everlasting. Amen." Then,
raising his right hand over the penitent, he says: "May the Almighty and
merciful Lord grant you pardon, absolution, and remission of your sins. Amen."
Then he continues: "May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you, and 1, by His
authority, absolve you from every bond of excommunication and interdict, as far
as I have power and you stand in need. Then I absolve you from your sins, in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." At these
last words he makes the Sign of the Cross over the penitent. In conclusion he
directs to God a prayer in behalf of the penitent in the following words: "May
the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and
of all the saints, and whatsoever good you may have done or evil you may have
suffered, be to you unto the remission of your sins, the increase of grace, and
the recompense of everlasting life. Amen." Then the priest says, "God bless
you" "Go in peace: or some other expression showing his delight at your
reconciliation with God.
A. I know that the priest has the power of absolving from sins
committed after Baptism, because Jesus Christ granted that power to the priests
of His Church when He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall
forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are
Every Christian knows Our Lord Himself had power to forgive sins: (1)
because He was God, and (2) because He often did forgive them while on earth,.
and proved that He did by performing some miracle; as, for example (Mark 2;
John 5), when He cured the poor men who had been sick and suffering for
many years, He said to them, "Thy sins are forgiven thee; arise, take up thy
bed, and walk:ī And the men did so. Since Our Lord had the power Himself, He
could give it to His Apostles if He wished, and He did give it to them and
their successors. For if He did not, how could we and all others who, after
Baptism, have fallen into sin be cleansed from it? This Sacrament of Penance
was for all time, and so He left the power with His Church, which is to last as
long as there is a living human being upon the earth. Our Lord promised to His
Apostles before His death this power to forgive sins (Matt. 18:18), and
He gave it to them after His resurrection (John 20:23), when He appeared to
them and breathed on them, and said: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are
forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained"
A. The priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins by hearing
the confession of sins, and granting pardon for them as ministers of God and in
The power to forgive sins implies the obligation of going to confession;
because, as most sins are secret, how could the Apostles know what sins to
forgive and what sins to retain-that is, not to forgive-unless they were told
by the sinner what sins he had committed? īThey could not see into his heart
as God can, and know his sins; and so if the sinner wished his sins forgiven,
he had to confess them to the Apostles or their successors. Therefore, since
we have the Sacrament of Penance, we must also have confession.
A. To receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily we must do five things:
When we are about to go to confession the first thing we should do is to pray
to the Holy Ghost to give us light to know and remember all our sins; to fully
understand how displeasing they are to God, and to have a great sorrow for
them, which includes the resolution of never committing them again. The next
thing we should do is:
A. The examination of conscience is an earnest effort to recall to mind all
the sins we have committed since our last worthy confession.
"Worthy confession," because if we made bad confessions we must tell how
often we made them, and whether we received Holy Communion after them or not,
and also all the sins we told in the bad confessions, and all others committed
since the good confession. If, for example, a boy made a good confession in
January, and in confession in February concealed a mortal sin and went to
confession after that every month to December, he would have to go back to his
last good confession, and repeat all the sins committed since January, and also
say that he had gone to confession once a month and made bad confessions all
A. We can make a good examination of conscience by calling to memory the
Commandments of God, the precepts of the Church, the seven capital sins, and
the particular duties of our state in life, to find out the sins we have
A. Before beginning the examination of conscience we should pray to God to
give us light to know our sins and grace to detest them.
A. Contrition or sorrow for sin is a hatred of sin and a true grief of the
soul for having offended God, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.
"Offended" that is, done something to displease Him.
A. The sorrow we should have for our sins should be interior, supernatural,
universal, and sovereign.
A. When I say that our sorrow should be interior, I mean that it should come
from the heart, and not merely from the lips.
"Interior" that is, we must really have the sorrow in our hearts. A
boy, for example, might cry in the confessional and pretend to the priest to be
very sorry, and the priest might be deceived and absolve him; but God, who sees
into our hearts, would know that he was not really sorry, but only pretending,
that his sorrow was not interior, but exterior; and God therefore would
withhold His forgiveness and would not blot out the sins, and the boy would
have a new sin of sacrilege upon his soul; because it is a sacrilege to allow
the priest to give you absolution if you know you have not the right
disposition, and you are not trying to do all that is required for a good
confession. So you understand you might deceive the priest and receive
absolution, but God would not allow the absolution to take effect, and the sins
would remain; for if the priest knew your dispositions as God did, or as you
know them, he would not give you absolution till your dispositions changed.
A. When I say that our sorrow should be supernatural, I mean that it should
be prompted by the grace of God, and excited by motives which spring from
faith, and not by merely natural motives.
"Supernatural"--that is, we must be sorry for the sin on account of some
reason that God has made known to us. For example, either because our sin is
displeasing to God, or because we have lost Heaven by it, or because we fear to
be punished for it in Hell or Purgatory. But if we are sorry for our sin only
on account of some natural motive, then our sorrow is not of the right kind.
If a man was sorry for stealing only because he was caught and had to go to
prison for it, his sorrow would only be natural. Or if a boy was sorry for
telling lies only because he got a whipping for it, his sorrow would only be
natural. Or if a man was sorry for being intoxicated because he lost his
situation and injured his health, he would not have the necessary kind of
sorrow. These persons must be sorry for stealing, lying, or being intoxicated
because all these are sins against God--things forbidden by Him and worthy of
His punishment. If we are sorry for having offended God on account of His own
goodness, our contrition is said to be perfect. If we are sorry for the
sins because by them we are in great danger of being punished by God, or
because we have lost Heaven by them, and without any regard for Godīs own
goodness, then our contrition is said to be imperfect. Imperfect
contrition is called attrition.
A. When I say that our sorrow should be universal, I mean that we should be
sorry for our mortal sins without exception.
"Universal." If a person committed ten mortal sins, and was sorry for
nine, but not for the tenth, then none of the sins would be forgiven. If you
committed a thousand mortal sins, and were sorry for all but one, none would be
forgiven. Why? Because you can never have Godīs grace and mortal sin in the
soul at the same time. Now this mortal sin will be on your soul till you are
sorry for it, and while it is on your soul Godīs grace will not come to you.
Again, you cannot be half sorry for having offended God; either you must be
entirely sorry, or not sorry at all. Therefore you cannot be sorry for only
part of your mortal sins.
A. When I say that our sorrow should be sovereign I mean that we should
grieve more for having offended God than for any other evil that can befall
A. We should be sorry for our sins, because sin is the greatest of evils and
an offense against God our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, and because it
shuts us out of Heaven and condemns us to the eternal pains of Hell.
We consider an evil great in proportion to the length of time we have to
bear it. To be blind is certainly a misfortune; but it is a greater misfortune
to be blind for our whole life than for one day. Sin, therefore, is the
greatest of all evils; because the misfortune it brings upon us lasts not
merely for a great many years, but for all eternity. Even slight sufferings
would be terrible if they lasted forever, but the sufferings for mortal sin are
worse than we can describe or imagine, and they are forever. The greatest
evils in this world will not last forever, and are small when compared with
sin. Sin makes us ungrateful to God, who gives us our existence.
"Our Preserver," because if God ceased to watch over us and provide for
us, even for a short time, we would cease to exist.
"Our Redeemer," who suffered so much for us.
A. There are two kinds of contrition: perfect contrition and imperfect
A. Perfect contrition is that which fills us with sorrow and hatred for sin
because it offends God, who is infinitely good in Himself and worthy of all
It can be a very hard thing to have perfect contrition, but we should
always try to have it, so that our contrition may be as perfect as possible.
This perfect contrition is the kind of contrition we must have if our mortal
sins are to be forgiven if we are in danger of death and cannot go to
confession. Imperfect contrition with the priestīs absolution will blot out
our mortal sins.
A. Imperfect contrition is that by which we hate what offends God because by
it we lose Heaven and deserve Hell; or because sin is so hateful in itself.
A. Imperfect contrition is sufficient for a worthy confession, but we should
endeavor to have perfect contrition.
A. By a firm purpose of sinning no more I mean a fixed resolve not only to
avoid all mortal sin, but also its near occasions.
"Fixed." Not for a certain time, but for all the future.
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things
that may easily lead us into sin.
"Occasions." There are many kinds of occasions of sin. First, we
have voluntary and necessary occasions, or those we can avoid and those we
cannot avoid. For example: if a companion uses immodest conversation we can
avoid that occasion, because we can keep away from him; but if the one who sins
is a member of our own family, always living with us, we cannot so easily avoid
that occasion. Second, near and remote occasions. An occasion is said
to be "near" when we usually fall into sin by it. For instance, if a
man gets intoxicated almost every time he visits a certain place, then that
place is a "near occasion" of sin for him; but if he gets intoxicated
only once out of every fifty times or so that he goes there, then it is said to
be a "remote occasion." Now, it is not enough to avoid the sins: we must
also avoid the occasions. If we have a firm purpose of amendment, if we desire
to do better, we must be resolved to avoid everything that will lead us to sin.
It is not enough to say, I will go to that place or with that person, but I
will never again commit the same sins. No matter what you think now, if you go
into the occasion, you will fall again; because Our Lord, who cannot speak
falsely, says: "He who loves the danger will perish in it." Now the occasion of
sin is always "the danger"; and if you go into it, Our Lordīs words will come
true, and you will fall miserably. Take away the cause, take away the
occasion, and then the sin will cease of itself. Let us suppose the plaster in
your house fell down, and you found that it fell because there was a leak in
the water-pipe above, and the water coming through wet the plaster and made it
fall. What is the first thing your father would do in that case? Why, get a
plumber and stop up the leak in the pipe before putting up the plaster again.
Would it not be foolish to engage a plasterer to repair the ceiling while the
pipe was still leaking? Everyone would say that man must be out of his mind:
the plaster will fall down as often as he puts it up, and it matters not either
how well he puts it up. If he wants it to stay up, he must first mend the
pipe-take away the cause of its falling. Now the occasion of sin is like the
leak in the pipe-in the case of sin, it will very likely cause you to fall
every time. Stop up the leak, take away the occasion, and then you will not
fall into sin-at least not so frequently.
"The persons" are generally bad companions, and though they may not be
bad when alone, they are bad when with us, and thus we become also bad
companions for them, and occasions of sin.
"The places," Liquor saloons, low theaters, dance halls, and all places
where we may see or hear anything against faith or morals.
"Things," Bad books, pictures, and the like.
A. Confession is the telling of our sins to a duly authorized priest, for
the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.
"Duly authorized"--one sent by the bishop of the diocese in which you
"Forgiveness." You might tell a priest all your sins while in ordinary
conversation with him, but that would not be confession, because you would not
be telling them to have them pardoned. If a person has lost the use of his
speech, he can make his confession by writing his sins on a paper and giving it
to the priest in the confessional. If the priest returns the paper the
penitent must be careful to destroy it afterwards. Also, if you have a poor
memory you may write down the sins you wish to confess, and read them from the
paper in the confessional; then you also must be careful to destroy the paper
after confession. If a person whose language the priest does not understand is
dying, or is obliged to make his yearly confession, he must tell what he can by
signs, show that he is sorry for his sins, and thus receive absolution. In a
word, the priest would act with him as he would with one who had lost the use
of his speech and power to write.
A. We are bound to confess all our mortal sins, but it is well also to
confess our venial sins.
"Bound"--obliged in such a way that our confession would be bad if we
did not tell them.
"Well," because we should tell all the sins we can remember; but if we
did not tell a venial sin after we had told a mortal sin, our confession would
not be bad. Or if we committed a little venial sin after confession, that
should not keep us from Holy Communion; because the Holy Communion itself would
blot out that and any other venial sin we might have upon our souls: so that
you should never let anything keep you away, unless you are certain you have
committed a mortal sin after the confession, or have broken your fast.
A. The chief qualities of a good confession are three: it must be humble,
sincere, and entire.
A. Our confession is humble when we accuse ourselves of our sins,
with a deep sense of shame and sorrow for having offended God.
A. Our confession is sincere when we tell our sins honestly and truthfully,
neither exaggerating nor excusing them.
"Exaggerating." You must never tell in confession a sin you did not
commit, any more than conceal one you did commit. You must tell just the sins
committed, and no more or less; and if you are in doubt whether you have
committed the sin, or whether the thing done was a sin, then you must tell your
doubts to the priest: but do not say you committed such and such sins when you
do not know whether you did or not, or only because you think it likely that
A. Our confession is entire when we tell the number and kinds of our sins
and the circumstances which change their nature.
"Number"--the exact number, if you know it; as, for example, when we
miss Mass we can generally tell exactly the number of times. But when we tell
lies, for instance, we may not know the exact number: then we say how often in
the day, or that it is a habit with us, etc.
"Kinds" whether they are cursing, or stealing, or lying, etc.
"Circumstances which change their nature," In the case of stealing, for
example, you need not tell whether it was from a grocery, a bakery, or
dry-goods store you stole, for that circumstance does not change the nature of
the sin: you have simply to tell the amount you took. But if you stole from a
church you would have to tell that, because that is a circumstance that gives
the sin of stealing a new character, and makes it sacrilegious stealing. Or if
you stole from a poor beggar all he possessed in the world, so that you left
him starving, that would be a circumstance making your sin worse, and so you
would have to tell it. Therefore you have to tell any circumstance that really
makes your sin much worse or less than it seems; all other circumstances you
need not tell: they will only confuse you, and make you forget your sins and
waste the priestīs time.
A. If we cannot remember the number of our sins, we should tell the
number as nearly as possible, and say how often we have sinned in a day, a
week, or a month and how long the habit or practice has lasted.
A. If without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, our confession is
worthy, and the sin is forgiven; but it must be told in confession if it again
comes to our mind.
A. It is a grievous offense willfully to conceal a mortal sin in
confession, because we thereby tell a lie to the Holy Ghost, and make our
"A lie to the Holy Ghost," God sees every sin we commit, and in His
presence we present ourselves to the priest in the confessional, and declare
that we are confessing all. If, then, we willfully conceal a sin that we are
bound to confess, God is a witness to our sacrilegious lie. If I see you in
some place to which you were forbidden to go, and you, knowing that I saw you,
positively deny that you were there, your guilt would be doubly great, for,
besides the sin of disobedience committed by going to the forbidden place, you
also resist the known truth, and endeavor to prove that 1, when I declare I saw
you, am telling what is untrue. In a similar manner, concealing a sin in
confession is equivalent to denying before God that we are guilty of it.
Besides, it is a great folly to conceal a sin, because it must be confessed
sooner or later, and the longer we conceal it the deeper will be our sense of
shame for the sacrileges committed. Again, why should one be ashamed to
confess to the priest what he has not been ashamed to do before God, unless he
has greater respect for the priest than he has for the Almighty God-an
absurdity we cannot believe. Moreover, the shame you experience in telling
your sins is a kind of penance for them. Do you not suppose Our Lord knew,
when He instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that people would be ashamed to
confess? Certainly He did; and that act of humility is pleasing to God, and is
a kind of punishment for your sins, and probably takes away some of the
punishment you would have to suffer for them. Often, too, the thought of
having to confess will keep you from committing the sin. There is another
thought that should encourage us to gladly make a full confession of all our
sins, and it is this: it is easier to tell them to the priest alone than to
have them exposed, unforgiven, before the whole world on the Day of Judgment.
Do not imagine that your confessor will think less of you on account of your
sins. The confessor does not think of your sins after he leaves the
confessional. How could he remember all the confessions he hears ī
often hundreds in a single month? And what is more-he does not even wish to
recall the sinful things heard in the confessional, because he wishes to keep
his own mind pure, and his soul free from every stain. The priest is always
better pleased to hear the confession of a great sinner or of one who has been
a long time from the Sacraments, than of one who goes frequently or who has
little to tell. He is not glad, of course, that the sinner has committed great
sins, but he is glad that since he has had the misfortune to sin so much, he
has now the grace and courage to seek forgiveness. Our Lord once said (Luke
15:7) while preaching, that the angels and saints in Heaven rejoice more at
seeing one sinner doing penance than they do over ninety-nine good persons who
did not need to do penance. The greater the danger to which a person has been
exposed, the more thankful he and his friends are for escape or recovery from
it. If your brother fell into the ocean and was rescued just as he was going
down for the last time, you would feel more
grateful than if he was rescued from some little pond into which he had
slipped, and in which there was scarcely any danger of his being drowned. So,
also, the nearer we are to losing our, souls and going to Hell, the more
delighted the angels and saints are when we are saved. One who has escaped
great danger will more carefully avoid similar accidents in the future: in like
manner, the sinner, after having escaped the danger of eternal death by the
pardon of his sins, should never again risk his salvation.
A. He who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession must not only
confess it, but must also repeat all the sins he has committed since his last
"Willfully," Remember, forgetting is not the same as concealing; but if
you should willfully neglect to examine your conscience or make any effort to
know your sins before going to confession, then forgetting would be equivalent
to concealing. Without any preparation your confession could hardly be a good
one. When you are in doubt whether an action is sinful or not, or whether you
have confessed it before, you should not leave the confessional with the doubt
upon your mind.
It is a foolish practice, however, to be always disturbing your conscience by
thinking of past sins, especially of those that occurred very early in your
life. Sometimes it is dangerous; because if, while thinking of your past sins,
you should take pleasure in them, you would commit a new sin similar to the
past sins in which you take delight.
It is best, therefore, not to dwell in thought upon any particular past sin
with the time, place, and circumstances of its commission; but simply to
remember in general that you have in the past sinned against this or that
Commandment or virtue.
The past is no longer under our control, while the future is, and becomes for
us, therefore, the all-important portion of our lives. Not unfrequently it may
be an artifice of the devil to keep us so occupied with past deeds that we may
not attend to the dangers of the future. Do not, then, after your confession
spend your time in thinking of the sins you confessed, but of how you will
avoid them in the future. When a wound is healed up, nobody thinks of opening
it again to see if it has healed properly; so when the wounds made in our souls
by sin are healed up by the absolution, we should not open them again.
This is the rule with regard to our ordinary confessions; but we should
sometimes make a general confession. What is a general confession? It is the
confession of the sins of our whole life or of a portion-say one, two or five,
etc., years-of our life. A general confession may be necessary, useful, or
hurtful. It is necessary, as you know, when our past confessions were bad. It
is useful, though not necessary, on special occasions in our lives; for
example, in the time of a retreat or mission; in the time of preparation for
First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, etc., or in preparing for death. It
is very useful also for persons about to change their state of life; for such
as are about to become priests or religious, etc. It is useful because it
gives us a better knowledge of the state of our souls, as we see their
condition not merely for a month or two, but for our whole lifetime. We are
looking at them as God will look at them in the Last Judgment, considering all
the good and evil we have ever done, and comparing the amount of the one with
the amount of the other. We resolve to increase the good and diminish the evil
in our future lives. We promise to do penance for the past and to avoid sin
for the future; and thus we are benefited in general confession by this
judgment of ourselves, as we may call it.
General confession is hurtful to scrupulous persons. Scrupulous persons are
those who think almost everything they do is a sin. They are always
dissatisfied with their confessions, and fear to approach the Sacraments.
Their conscience is never at ease, and they are forever unhappy. It is very
wrong for them to think and act in this manner, and they must use every means
in their power to overcome their scruples.
Our Lord in His goodness never intended to make us unhappy by instituting the
Sacraments, but on the contrary to make us happy, and set our minds and
consciences at ease in the reception of His grace. Scrupulous persons must do
exactly whatever their confessor advises, no matter what they themselves may
think. Such persons, as you can plainly see, should not make general
confessions, because their consciences would be more disturbed than pacified by
You prepare for general confession as you would for any other, except that you
take a longer time for it, and do not pay so much attention to your more
A. The priest gives us a penance after confession, that we may satisfy God
for the temporal punishment due to our sins.
"Penance," The little penance the priest gives may not fully satisfy
God, but shows by our accepting it that we are willing to do penance. What,
for example, is a penance of five "Our Fathers" compared with the guilt of one
mortal sin, for which we would have to suffer in Hell for all eternity? Then
think of the penances performed by the Christians many centuries ago, in the
early ages of the Church. There were four stages of penance. The churches
were divided into four parts by railings and gates. The first railing across
the church was at some distance from the altar, the second was a little below
the middle of the church, and the third was near the door. Those who committed
great sins had to stand clad in coarse garments near the entrance of the
church, and beg the prayers of those who entered. After they had done this
kind of penance for a certain time, they were allowed to come into the church
as far as the second railing. They were allowed to hear the sermon, but were
not permitted to be present at the Mass. After doing sufficient penance, they
were allowed to remain for Mass, but could not receive Holy Communion. When
they had performed all the penance imposed upon them, they were allowed to
receive the Sacraments and enjoy all the rights and privileges of faithful
children of the Church. These penances lasted for many days and sometimes for
years, according to the gravity of the sins committed. The sins for which
these severe penances were performed were generally sins that had been
committed publicly, and hence the penance, amendment, and reparation had also
to be public.
"Temporal Punishment," Every sin has two punishments attached to it. one
called the eternal and the other the temporal. Let me explain by an example.
If 1, turning highway robber, waylay a man, beat him and steal his watch, I do
him, as you see, a double injury, and deserve a double punishment for the
twofold crime of beating and robbing him. He might pardon me for the injuries
caused by the beating, but that would not free me from the obligation of
restoring to him his watch or its value, for the fact that he forgives me for
the act of stealing does not give me the right to keep what justly belongs to
him. Now, when we sin against God we in the first place insult Him, and
secondly rob Him of what is deservedly His due; namely, the worship, respect,
obedience, love, etc., that we owe Him as our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer.
In the Sacrament of Penance God forgives the insult offered by sinning, but
requires us to make restitution for that of which the sin has deprived Him. In
every sin there is an act of turning away from God and an act of turning to
some creature in His stead. If a soldier pledged to defend his country deserts
his army in time of war, he is guilty of a dishonorable, contemptible act; but
if, besides deserting his own army, he goes over to aid the enemy, he becomes
guilty of another and still greater crime-he becomes a traitor for whom the
laws of nations reserve their severest penalties. By sin we, who in Baptism
and Confirmation have promised to serve God and war against His enemies, desert
Him and go over to them; for Our Blessed Lord has said: He that is not with Me
is against Me.
We pay the temporal debt due to our sins, that is, make the restitution, by our
penances upon earth, or by our suffering in Purgatory, or by both combined.
The penances performed upon earth are very acceptable and pleasing to God; and
hence we should be most anxious to do penance here that we may have less to
suffer in Purgatory. St. Augustine, who had been a great sinner, often prayed
that God might send him many tribulations while on earth, that he might have
less to endure in Purgatory. Therefore, after performing the penance the
priest gives you in the confessional, it is wise to impose upon yourself other
light penances in keeping with your age and condition, but never undertake
severe penances or make religious vows and promises without consulting your
confessor. In every case be careful first of all to perform the penance
imposed upon you in the reception of the Sacrament. The penance given in
confession has a special value, which none of the penances selected by yourself
If you forget to say your penance, your confession is not on that account
worthless; but as the penance is one of the parts of the Sacrament, namely, the
satisfaction, you should say it as soon as possible, and in the manner your
confessor directs. If you cannot perform the penance imposed by your
confessor, you should inform him of that fact, and ask him to give you another
in its stead.
Indulgences also are a means of satisfying for this temporal punishment.
Sometimes God inflicts the temporal punishment in this world by sending us
misfortunes or sufferings, especially such as are brought on by the sins
A. The Sacrament of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it
does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as
satisfaction for our sins.
Remember that Baptism differs from Penance in this respect, that
although they both remit sin, Penance does not take away all the
temporal punishment, while Baptism takes away all the punishment, both eternal
and temporal; so that if we died immediately after Baptism we would go directly
to Heaven, while if we died immediately after Penance we would generally go to
Purgatory to make satisfaction for the temporal debt.
A. God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin to teach us
the great evil of sin, and to prevent us from failing again.
A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due
to sin are: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, all spiritual and corporal works of
mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.
"Chief," but not the only means. "Fasting," especially the fasts
imposed by the Church-in Lent for instance. Lent is the forty days before
Easter Sunday during which we fast and pray to prepare ourselves for the
resurrection of Our Lord, and also to remind us of His own fast of forty days
before His Passion. "Almsgiving"--that is, money or goods given to the
poor. "Spiritual" works of mercy are those good works we do for
personsī souls. "Corporal" works of mercy are those we do for their
bodies. "Ills of life"--sickness or poverty or misfortune, especially
when we have not brought them upon ourselves by sin.
A. The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven: to admonish the sinner, to
instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to
bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries, and to pray for the living and
"To admonish the sinner." If we love our neighbor we should help him in
his distress, even when it is an inconvenience to us. We should help him also
to correct his faults, we should point them out and warn him of them. We are
obliged to do so in the following circumstances: First. When his fault is a
mortal sin. Second. When we have some authority or influence over him.
Third. When there is reason to believe that our warning will make him better
instead of worse. If our advice only makes him worse, then we should not say
anything to him about his fault, but keep out of his company ourselves.
"Ignorant" especially in their religion. "Doubtful" about
something in religion which you can explain and make clear to them.
"Comfort," saying kind words of encouragement to them. "Wrongs,"
things not deserved; for example, persons talking ill about us, accusing us
falsely, etc.; but if the false accusations, etc., are going to give scandal,
then we must defend ourselves against them. If, for instance, lies were told
about the father of a family, and it were likely all his children would believe
them and lose their respect for his authority, then he must let them know the
truth. But when we patiently suffer wrongs that injure only ourselves, and
that are known only to God and ourselves, God sees our sufferings and rewards
us. What matters it what people think we are if God knows all our doings and
is pleased with them? "Living"--especially for the conversion of
sinners, or for those who are on their deathbed. "The dead"--those
suffering in Purgatory, especially if we have ever caused them to sin.
A. The chief corporal works of mercy are seven: to feed the hungry, to give
drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the
harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead.
"Ransom the captive"--that is, chiefly those who while teaching or
defending the true religion in pagan lands are taken prisoners by the enemies
of our faith. You have perhaps heard of the Crusades or read about them in
your history. Now let me briefly tell you what they were and why they were
commenced. About the year 570, that is, about thirteen hundred years ago, when
the Christian religion was spread over nearly the whole world, a man named
Mahomet was born in Arabia. He pretended to be a great prophet sent from God,
and gathered many followers about him. He told them his religion must be
spread by the sword. He plundered cities and towns, and divided the spoils
with his followers. He told them that all who died fighting for him would
certainly go to Heaven. In a short time his followers became very numerous;
for his religion was an easy and profitable one, allowing them to commit sin
without fear of punishment, and giving them share of his plunder. Many others
not influenced by these motives joined his religion for fear of being put to
death. His followers were afterwards called by the general name of Saracens.
They took possession of the Holy Land, of the City of Jerusalem, of the tomb of
Our Lord, and of every spot rendered dear to Christians by Our Saviourīs life
and labors there. They persecuted the Christians who went to visit the Holy
Land, and put many of them to death. When the news of these dreadful crimes
reached Europe, the Christian kings and princes, at the request of the Pope,
raised large armies and set out for the East to war against the Saracens and
recover the Holy Land. Eight of these expeditions, or Crusades, as they are
called, went out during two hundred years, that is, from 1095 to 1272. Those
who took part in them are called Crusaders, from the word cross, because
every soldier wore a red cross upon his shoulder.
Some of these expeditions were successful, and some were not; but, on the
whole, they prevented the Saracens from coming to Europe and taking possession
of it. Many of the Christian soldiers and many of the pilgrims who visited the
Holy Land were taken prisoners by the Saracens and held, threatened with death,
till the Christians in Europe paid large sums of money as a ransom for their
liberty. To free these captives was a great act of charity, and is one of the
corporal works of mercy. Ransom means to pay money for anotherīs
freedom. Even now there are sometimes captives in pagan lands.
A pilgrim is one who goes on a journey to visit some holy place for the purpose
of thus honoring God. He would not be a pilgrim if he went merely through
curiosity. He must go with the holy intention of making his visit an act of
worship. In our time pilgrimages to the Holy Land, to Rome, and other places
are quite frequent. "To harbor" that is, to give one who has no home a
place of rest. A harbor is an inlet of the ocean where ships can rest and be
out of danger; so we can also call the home or place of rest given to the
homeless a harbor. "Sick" especially the sick poor and those who have
no friends. "To bury" those who are strangers and have no friends. All
Christians are bound to perform these works of mercy in one way or another. We
have been relieved to some extent of doing the work ourselves by the
establishment of institutions where these things are attended to by communities
of holy men or women called religious. They take charge of asylums for the
orphans, homes for the aged and poor, hospitals for the sick, etc., while many
devote themselves to teaching in colleges, academies, and schools. But if
these good religious do the work for us, we are obliged on our part to give
them the means to carry it on. Therefore we should contribute according to our
means to charitable institutions, and indeed to all institutions that promote
the glory of God and the good of our religion. To explain more fully,
religious are self-sacrificing men and women who, wishing to follow the
evangelical counsels, dedicate their lives to the service of God. They live
together in communities approved by the Church, under the rule and guidance of
Their day is divided between prayer, labor, and good works, more time being
given to one or other of these according to the special end or aim of the
community. The houses in which they live are called convents or monasteries,
and the societies of which they are members are called religious orders,
communities, or congregations. In some of these religious communities of men
all the members are priests, in others some are priests and some are brothers,
and in others still all are brothers. Priests belonging to the religious
orders are called the regular clergy, to distinguish them from the secular
clergy or priests who live and labor in the parishes to which they are assigned
by their bishops. Sisters and nuns mean almost the same thing, but we
generally call those nuns who live under a more severe rule and never leave the
boundaries of their convent. In like manner friars, monks, and brothers lead
almost the same kind of life, except that the monks practice greater penances
and live under stricter rules. A hermit is a holy man who lives alone
in some desert or lonely place, and spends his life in prayer and
mortification. In the early ages of the Church there were many of these
hermits, or Fathers of the desert, but now religious live together in
The members of religious orders of men or women take three vows, namely, of
poverty, chastity, and obedience. These orders were founded by holy persons
for some special work approved of by the Church. Thus the Dominicans were
founded by St. Dominic, and their special work was to preach the Gospel and
convert heretics or persons who had fallen away from the Faith. The Jesuit
Fathers were organized by St. Ignatius Loyola, and their work is chiefly
teaching in colleges, and giving retreats and missions. So also have the
Redemptorists, Franciscans, Passionists, etc., their special works, chiefly the
giving of missions. In a word, every community, of either men or women, must
perform the particular work for which it was instituted.
But. why, you will ask, are there different religious orders? In the first
place, all persons are not fitted for the same kind of work: some can teach,
others cannot; some can bear the fatigue of nursing the sick, and others
cannot. Secondly, when Our Lord was on earth He performed every good work and
practiced every virtue perfectly. He fasted, prayed, helped the needy,
comforted the sorrowful, healed the sick, taught the ignorant, defended the
oppressed, admonished sinners, etc. It would be impossible for any one
community to imitate Our Lord in all His works, so each community takes one or
more particular works of Our Lord, and tries to imitate Him as perfectly as
possible in these at least. Some communities devote their time to prayer;
others attend the sick; others teach, etc.; and thus when all unite their
different works the combined result is a more perfect imitation of Our Lordīs
life upon earth.
A. On entering the confessional we should kneel, make the Sign of the Cross,
and say to the priest: "Bless me, Father"; then add, "I confess to Almighty
God, and to you, Father, that I have sinned:ī
A. The first things we should tell the priest in confession are the, time of
our last confession and whether we said the penance and went to Holy
A. After telling the time of our last confession and Communion we should
confess all the mortal sins we have since committed, and all the venial sins we
may wish to mention.
"We may wish," We should tell every real sin we have never confessed.
If we have no mortal sin to confess, it is well to tell some kind of mortal sin
we have committed in our past life, though confessed before. We should do this
because when we have only very small sins to confess there is always danger
that we may not be truly sorry for them, and without sorrow there is no
forgiveness. But when we add to our confession some mortal sin that we know we
are sorry for, then our sorrow extends to all our sins, and makes us certain
that our confession is a good one. If you should hear the sin of another
person while you are waiting to make your own confession, you must keep that
sin secret forever. If the person in the confessional is speaking too loud,
you should move away so as not to hear; and if you cannot move, hold your hands
on your ears so that you may not hear what is being said.
A. When the confessor asks us questions, we must answer them truthfully and
A. After telling our sins we should listen with attention to the advice
which the confessor may think proper to give.
The priest in the confessional acts as judge, father, teacher, and
physician. As judge he listens to your accusations against yourself, and
passes sentence according to your guilt or innocence. As a father and teacher
he loves you, and tries to protect you from your enemies by warning you against
them, and teaching you the means to overcome them. But above all, he is a
physician, who will treat your soul for its ills and restore it to spiritual
health. He examines the sins you have committed, discovers their causes, and
then prescribes the remedies to be used in overcoming them. When anything goes
amiss with our bodily health we speedily have recourse to the physician, listen
anxiously to what he has to say, and use the remedies prescribed. In the very
same way we must follow the priestīs advice if we wish our souls to be cured of
their maladies. Just as a person who is unwell would not go one day to one
physician and the next day to another, so a penitent should not change
confessors without a good reason; and if you have any choice to make let it be
made in the beginning, and let it rest on worthy motives. In a short time your
confessor will understand the state of your soul, as the physician who
frequently examines you does the state of your body. He will know all the
temptations, trials, and difficulties with which you have to contend. He will
see whether you are becoming better or worse; whether you are resisting your
bad habits or falling more deeply into them; also, whether the remedies given
are suited to you, and whether you are using them properly. All this your
confessor will know, and it will save you the trouble of always repeating, and
him the trouble of always asking. Thus the better your confessor knows you and
all the circumstances of your life, the more will he be able to help you; for
besides the forgiveness of your sins there are many other benefits derived from
the Sacrament of Penance.
But if at any time there should be danger of your making a bad confession to
your own confessor-on account of some feeling of false shame-then go to any
confessor you please; for it is a thousand times better to seek another
confessor than run the risk of making a sacrilegious confession.
Never be so much attached to any one confessor that you would remain away from
the Sacraments a long time rather than go to another in his absence.
You should not consider the person in the confessional, but the power he
exercises. You should be anxious concerning only this fact: Is there a priest
there who was sent by Our Lord? Is there a minister of Christ there who has
power to pardon my sins? If so, I will humbly go to him, no matter who he is
or what his dispositions.
A. We should end our confession by saying, "I also accuse myself of all the
sins of my past life" telling, if we choose, one or several of our past
A. While the priest is giving us absolution, we should from our heart renew
the Act of Contrition.
All, especially children, should know this act well before going to
A. An indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal
punishment due to sin.
I have explained before what the temporal punishment is; namely, the
debt which we owe to God after He has forgiven our sins, and which we must pay
in order that satisfaction be made. It is, as I said, the value of the watch
we must return after we have been pardoned for the act of stealing. I said
this punishment must be blotted out by our penance. Now, the Church gives us
an easy means of so doing, by granting us indulgences. She helps us by giving
us a share in the merits of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints. All this we
have explained when speaking in the Creed of the communion of saints.
A. An indulgence is not a pardon of sin, nor a license to commit sin, and
one who is in a state of mortal sin cannot gain an indulgence.
If you are in a state of mortal sin you lose the merit of any good works
you perform. God promises to reward us for good works, and if we are in the
state of grace when we do the good works, God will keep His promise and give us
the reward; but if we are in mortal sin, we have no right or claim to any
reward for good works, because we are enemies of God. For this reason alone we
should never remain even for a short time in mortal sin, since it is important
for us to have all the merit we can. Even when we will not repent and return
to Him, God rewards us for good works done by giving us some temporal blessings
or benefits here upon earth. He never allows any good work to go unrewarded
any more than He allows an evil deed to go unpunished. Although God is so good
to us we nevertheless lose very much by being in a state of mortal sin; for
Godīs grace is in some respects like the money in a bank: the more grace we
receive and the better we use it, the more He will bestow upon us. When you
deposit money in a savings bank, you get interest for it; and when you leave
the interest also in the bank, it is added to your capital, and thus you get
interest for the interest. So God not only gives us grace to do good, but also
grace for doing the good, or, in other words, He gives us grace for using His
A. There are two kinds of indulgences-plenary and partial.
A. A plenary indulgence is the full remission of the temporal punishment due
"Full remission"; so that if you gained a plenary indulgence and died
immediately afterwards, you would go at once to Heaven. Persons go to
Purgatory, as you know, to have the temporal punishment blotted out; but if you
have no temporal punishment to make satisfaction for, there is no Purgatory for
you. Gaining a plenary indulgence requires proper dispositions, as you may
understand from its very great advantages. To gain it we must not only hate
sin and be heartily sorry even for our venial sins, but we must not have a
desire for even venial sin. We should always try to gain a plenary indulgence,
for in so doing we always gain at least part of it, or a partial indulgence,
greater or less according to our dispositions.
A. A partial indulgence is the remission of a part of the temporal
punishment due to sin.
A. The Church by means of indulgences remits the temporal punishment due to
sin by applying to us the merits of Jesus Christ, and the superabundant
satisfactions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints, which merits and
satisfactions are its spiritual treasury.
"Superabundant" means more than was necessary. (See explanation of
communion of saints in the "Creed.")
A. To gain an indulgence we must be in a state of grace and perform the
"Works"--to visit certain churches or altars; to give alms; to say
certain prayers, etc. For a plenary indulgence it is required in addition to
go to confession and Holy Communion, and to pray for the intention of our Holy
Father the Pope; for this last requirement it is sufficient to recite one Our
Father and one Hail Mary. Now, what does praying for the intention of the Pope
or bishop or anyone else mean? It does not mean that you are to pray for the
Pope himself, but for whatever he is praying for or wishes you to pray for.
For instance, on one day the Holy Father may be praying for the success of some
missions that he is establishing in pagan lands; on another, he may be praying
that the enemies of the Church may not succeed in their plans against it; on
another, he may be praying for the conversion of some nation, and so on;
whatever he is praying for or wishes you to pray for is called his intention.
There are three basic ways of gaining a partial indulgence. A partial
indulgence can be gained by:
A partial indulgence is also granted for reciting various well-known prayers,
such as the acts of faith, hope, charity and contrition, and for performing
certain acts of devotion, such as making a Spiritual Communion.
To gain an indulgence you must also have the intention of gaining it. There
are many prayers that we sometimes say to which indulgences are attached, and
we do not know it. How can we gain them? By making a general intention every
morning while saying our prayers to gain all the indulgences we can during the
day, whether we know them or not. For example, there is a partial indulgence
granted us every time we devoutly make the Sign of the Cross or devoutly use an
article of devotion, such as a crucifix or scapular, properly blessed by any
priest. Many may not know of these indulgences; but if they have the general
intention mentioned above, they will gain the indulgence every time they
perform the work. In the same way, by having this intention all those who are
in the habit of going to confession every two weeks are able to gain a plenary
indulgence when they fulfill the other prescribed conditions for gaining a
plenary indulgence, even when they do not know that they are gaining the
Since partial indulgences were formerly designated by specific amounts of time,
you sometimes see printed after a little prayer: An indulgence of forty days,
or, an indulgence of one hundred days, or of a year, etc. What does that mean?
Does it mean that a person who said that prayer would get out of Purgatory
forty days sooner than he would have if he had not said it? No. I told you how
the early Christians were obliged to do public penance for their sins; to stand
at the door of the church and beg the prayers of those entering. Sometimes
their penance lasted for forty days, sometimes for one hundred days, and
sometimes for a longer period. By an indulgence of forty days the Church
granted the remission of as much of the temporal punishment as the early
Christians would have received for doing forty daysī public penance. Just how
much of the temporal punishment God blotted out for forty daysī public penance
we do not know; but whatever it was, God blotted out just the same for one who
gained an indulgence of forty days by saying a little prayer to which the
indulgence was attached. But why, you may wonder, did the early Christians do
such penances? Because in those days their faith was stronger than ours, and
they understood better than we do the malice of sin and the punishment it
deserves. Later the Christians grew more careless about their religion and the
service of God. The Church, therefore, wishing to save its children, made it
easier for them to do penance. If it had continued to impose the public
penances, many would not have performed them, and thus would have lost their
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood,
soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and
When we say "contains," we mean the Sacrament which is the body
and blood, etc. The Holy Eucharist is the same living body of Our Lord which
He had upon earth; but it is in a new form, under the appearances of bread and
wine. Therefore Our Lord in the tabernacle can see and hear us.
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before
"Last Supper," on Holy Thursday night. (See Explanation of the Passion,
Lesson 8, Question 78.)
A. When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist the twelve Apostles were
A. Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist by taking bread, blessing,
breaking, and giving to His Apostles, saying: "Take ye and eat. This is My
body"; and then by taking the cup of wine, blessing and giving it, saying to
them: "Drink ye all of this. This is My blood which shall be shed for the
remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of Me."
"Eucharist" means thanks. Hence this Sacrament is called Eucharist,
because Our Lord gave thanks before changing the bread and wine into His body
and blood, and because the offering of it to God is the most solemn act of
thanksgiving. "Do this"--that is, the same thing I am doing, namely,
changing bread and wine into My body and blood. "Commemoration"--that
is, to remind you of Me, that you may continue to do the same till the end of
A. When Our Lord said, "This is My body," the substance of the bread was
changed into the substance of His body. When He said, "This is My blood," the
substance of the wine was changed into the substance of His blood.
"Substance" literally means that which stands underneath. Underneath
what? Underneath the outward appearances or qualities-such as color, taste,
figure, smell, etc.-that are perceptible to our senses. Therefore we never see
the substance of anything. Of this seat, for instance, I see the color, size,
and shape; I feel the hardness, etc.; but I do not see the substance, namely,
the wood of which it is made. When the substance of anything is changed, the
outward appearances change with it. But not so in the Holy Eucharist; for by a
miracle the appearances of bread and wine remain the same after the substance
has been changed as they were before. As the substance alone is changed in the
Holy Eucharist, and as I cannot see the substance, I cannot see the change. I
am absolutely certain, however, that the change takes place, because Our Lord
said so; and I believe Him, because- He could not deceive me. He is God, and
God could not tell a lie, because He is infinite truth. This change is a great
miracle, and that is the reason we cannot understand it, though we believe it.
Once at a marriage in Cana of Galilee (John 2) Our Lord changed water
into wine. The people were poor, and Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, and the
Apostles were present at the wedding when the wine ran short; and our Blessed
Lady, always so kind to everyone, wishing to spare these poor people from being
shamed before their friends, asked Our Lord to perform the miracle, and at her
request He did so, and changed many vessels of water into the best of wine. In
that miracle Our Lord changed the substance of the water into the substance of
the wine. Why, then, could He not change in the same way and by the same power
the substance of bread and wine into the substance of His own body and blood?
When He changed the water into wine, besides changing the substance, He changed
everything else about it; so that it had no longer the appearance of water, but
everyone could see that it was wine. But in changing the bread and wine into
His body and blood He changes only the substance, and leaves everything else
unchanged so that it still looks and tastes like bread and wine; even after the
change has taken place and you could not tell by looking at it that it was
changed. You know it only from your faith in the words of our divine Lord,
when He tells you it is changed.
Again, it is much easier to change one thing into another than to make it
entirely out of nothing. Anyone who can create out of nothing can surely
change one thing into another. Now Our Lord, being God, created the world out
of nothing; and He could therefore easily change the substance of bread into
the substance of flesh. I have said Our Lordīs body in the Holy Eucharist is a
living body, and every living body contains blood; and that is why we receive
both the body and the blood of Our Lord under the appearance of the bread
alone. The priest receives the body and blood of Our Lord under the appearance
of both bread and wine, while the people receive it only under the appearance
of bread. The early Christians used to receive it as the priest does under the
appearance of bread and under the appearance of wine; but the Church had to
make a change on account of circumstances. First, all the people had to drink
from the same chalice or cup, and some would not like that, and show disrespect
for the Blessed Sacrament by refusing it. Then there was great danger of
spilling the precious blood, passing it from one to another; and finally, some
said that Christīs blood was not in His body under the appearance of bread.
This was false; and to show that it was false, and for the other reasons, the
Church after that gave Holy Communion to the people under the appearance of
bread alone. The Church always believes and teaches the same truths. It
always believed that the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of bread contained
also Our Lordīs blood; but it taught it more clearly when it was denied.
A. Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the form of bread and under
the form of wine.
A. After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into the
substance of the body and blood of Our Lord there remained only the appearances
of bread and wine.
A. By the appearances of bread and wine I mean the figure, the color, the
taste, and whatever appears to the senses.
"Senses"--that is, eyes, ears, etc. Thus we have the sense of seeing,
the sense of hearing, the sense of tasting, the sense of smelling, the sense of
The Holy Eucharist is the body of Our Lord just as long as the appearances of
bread and wine remain, and when they go away Our Lordīs body goes also.
For example, if a church, tabernacle and all, was buried by a great earthquake,
and after many years the people succeeded in getting at the tabernacle and
opening it, and then found in the ciborium--that is, the vessel in which the
Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacle--only black dust, Our Lord would
not be there, although He was there when the church was buried. He would not
be there, because there was no longer the appearance of bread there: it had all
been changed into ashes by time, and Our Lord left it when the change took
place. But if the appearance of bread had remained unchanged, He would be
there even after so many years.
When we receive Holy Communion, the appearance of bread remains for about
fifteen or twenty minutes after we receive, and then it changes or disappears.
Therefore during these fifteen or twenty minutes that the appearance remains
Our Lord Himself is really with us; and for that reason we should remain about
twenty minutes after Mass on the day we receive, making a thanksgiving,
speaking to Our Lord, and listening to Him speaking to our conscience. What
disrespect some people show Our Lord by rushing out of the church immediately
after Mass and Holy Communion, sometimes beginning to talk or look around
before making any thanksgiving! When you receive Holy Communion, after
returning to your seat you need not immediately begin to read your prayerbook,
but may bow your head and speak to Our Lord while He is present with you.
After the appearances of bread vanish, Our Lordīs bodily presence goes also,
but He remains with us by His grace as long as we do not fall into mortal sin.
A. This change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord is
"Transubstantiation" that is, the changing of one substance into another
substance; for example, the changing of the wood in a seat into stone.
A. The substance of the bread and wine was changed into the substance of the
body and blood of Christ by His almighty power.
A. This change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues
to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ through the ministry of His
A. Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body
and blood when He said to His Apostles, "Do this in commemoration of Me."
A. The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body
and blood of Christ through the words of consecration in the Mass, which are
the words of Christ: "This is My body; this is My blood."
"Consecration:ī At what part of the Mass are the words of consecration
pronounced? Just before the Elevation; that is, just before the priest holds
up the Host and the chalice. while the altar boy rings the bell.
When the priest is going to say Mass he prepares everything necessary in the
sacristy-the place or room near the altar where the sacred vessels and
vestments are kept, and where the priest vests. He takes the chalice-that is,
the long silver or gold goblet-out of its case; then he covers it with a long,
narrow, white linen cloth called a purificator. Over this he places a small
silver or gold plate called the paten, on which he places a host-that is, a
thin piece of white bread prepared for Mass, perfectly round, and about the
size of the bottom of a small drinking glass. He then covers this host with a
white card, called a pall, after which he covers the chalice and all with a
square cloth or veil that matches the vestments. Then he puts on his own
vestments as follows: Over his shoulders the amice, a square, white cloth.
Next the alb, a long white garment reaching down to his feet. He draws it
about his waist with the cincture, or white cord. He places on his left arm
the maniple, a short, narrow vestment. Around his neck he places the stole, a
long, narrow vestment with a cross on each end. Over all he places the
chasuble, or large vestment with the cross on the back. Lastly, he puts on his
cap or biretta. Before going further I must say something about the color and
signification of the vestments. There are five colors used, namely, white,
red, green, violet, and black. White signifies innocence, and is used on the
feasts of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, and of some saints. Red signifies
love, and is used on the feasts of the Holy Ghost and of the martyrs. Green
signifies hope, and is used on Sundays from the Epiphany to Pentecost, unless
some feast requiring another color falls on Sunday. Violet signifies penance,
and is used in Advent and Lent. Black signifies sorrow, and is used on Good
Friday and in Masses for the dead. As regards the vestments themselves: the
amice signifies preparation to resist the attacks of the devil; the
alb is the symbol of innocence; the cincture of charity; the
maniple of penance; the stole of immortality; and the chasuble
of love, by which we are enabled to bear the light burden Our Lord is
pleased to lay upon us.
Vested as described, when the candles have been lighted on the altar, the
priest takes the covered chalice in his hand and goes to the altar, where,
after arranging everything, he begins Mass. After saying many prayers, he
uncovers the chalice, and the acolyte or altar boy brings up wine and water,
and the priest puts some into the chalice. Then he says a prayer, and offers
to God the bread and wine to be consecrated. This is called the offertory of
the Mass, and takes place after the boy presents the wine and water.
Immediately after the Sanctus the priest begins what is called the Canon of the
Mass, and soon after comes to the time of consecration, and has before him on
the paten the white bread, or host, and in the chalice wine. Remember, it is
only bread and wine as yet. After saying some prayers the priest bends down
over the altar and pronounces the words of consecration, namely, "This is My
body," over the bread; and "This is My blood" over the wine. Then there is no
longer the bread the priest brought out and the wine the boy gave, upon the
altar, but instead of both the body and blood of Our Lord. After the words of
consecration, the priest genuflects or kneels before the altar to adore Our
Lord, who just came there at the words of consecration; he next holds up the
body of Our Lord-the Host-for the people also to see and adore it; he then
replaces it on the altar and again genuflects. He does just the same with the
chalice. This is called the Elevation. The altar boy then rings the bell to
call the peopleīs attention to it, for it is the most solemn part of the Mass.
After more prayers the priest takes and consumes, that is, swallows, the sacred
Host and drinks the precious blood from the chalice. Then the people come up
to the altar to receive Holy Communion. But where does the priest get Holy
Communion for them if he himself took all he consecrated? He opens the
tabernacle, and there, in a large, beautiful vessel he has small Hosts. He
consecrates a large number of these small hosts sometimes while he is
consecrating the larger one for himself. When they are consecrated, he places
them in the tabernacle, where they are kept with the sanctuary lamp burning
before them, till at the different Masses they have all been given out to the
people. Then he consecrates others at the next Mass, and does as before. The
size of the Host does not make the slightest difference, as Our Lord is present
whole and entire in the smallest particle of the Host. A little piece that you
could scarcely see would be the body of Our Lord. However, the particle that
is given to the people is about the size of a twenty-five cent piece, so that
they can swallow it before it melts. In receiving Holy Communion you must
never let it entirely dissolve in your mouth, for if you do not swallow it you
will not receive Holy Communion at all.
Here I might tell you what Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is. The priest
sometimes consecrates at the Mass two large hosts, one he consumes himself, as
I have told you, and the other he places in the tabernacle in a little gold
case. When it is time for Benediction, he places this little case--made of
glass and gold, about the size of a watch--in the gold or silver monstrance
which you see on the altar at Benediction. It is made to represent rays of
light coming from the Blessed Sacrament. After the choir sings, the priest
says the prayer and goes up and blesses the people with the Blessed Sacrament;
that is, when he holds up the monstrance over the people Our Lord Himself
blesses them. Should we not be very anxious, therefore, to go to Benediction?
If the bishop came to the church, we would all be anxious to receive his
blessing; and if our Holy Father the Pope came, everybody would rush to the
church. But what are they compared to Our Lord Himself? And yet when He comes
to give His blessing, many seem to care little about it. Because Our Lord in
His goodness is pleased to give us His blessing often, we are indifferent about
it. The holy teachers and fathers of the Church tell us that if we could see
the sanctuary at Mass and Benediction as it really is, we would see it filled
with angels all bowed down, adoring Our Lord. These good angels must be very
much displeased at those who are so indifferent at Mass or Benediction as not
to pay any attention; and above all, at those who stay away. The large silk
cloak the priest wears at Benediction is called the cope, and the long
scarf that is placed over his shoulders the humeral, or Benediction
veil. At the words of consecration, you must know, the priest does not say
"This is Christīs body," but "This is My body"; for at the altar the priest is
there in the place of Our Lord Himself. It is Our Lord who offers up the
sacrifice, and the priest is His instrument. That is why the priest wears
vestments while saying Mass or performing his sacred duties, to remind him that
he is, as it were, another person; that he is not acting in his own name or
right, but in the name and place of our Blessed Lord.
I have given you in a general way a description of the Mass: let me now mention
its particular parts by their proper names, and tell you what they are. At the
foot of the altar the priest says the Confiteor, a psalm, and other prayers as
a preparation. Then he ascends the altar steps-praying as he goes and says the
Introit, which is some portion of the Holy Scripture suitable to the
feast of the day. He next says the Kyrie Eleison, which means: Lord,
have mercy on us. He then says the Gloria, or hymn of praise, though
not in all Masses. After the Gloria he says the Collect, which is a
collection of prayers in which the priest prays for the needs of the Church and
of its children. This is followed by the Epistle, which is a part of
the Holy Scripture. Then the Mass-book is removed to the other side of the
altar, and the priest reads the Gospel--that is, some portion of the
Gospel written by the evangelists. After the Gospel the priest, except in some
Masses, says the Creed, which is a profession of his faith in the
mysteries of our religion. After this the priest uncovers the chalice, and
offers up the bread and wine which is to be consecrated. This is called the
Offertory of the Mass. The offertory is followed by the Lavabo,
or washing of the priestīs hands: first, that the priestīs hands may be
purified to touch the Sacred Host; and, second, to signify the purity of soul
he must have to offer the Holy Sacrifice. After saying some prayers in secret
he says the Preface, which is a solemn hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
The Preface ends with the Sanctus. The Sanctus is followed by the
Canon of the Mass. Canon means a rule; so this part of the Mass is
called the Canon, because it never changes. The Epistle, Gospel, prayers,
etc., are different on the different feasts, but the Canon of the Mass is
always the same. The Canon is the part of the Mass from the Sanctus down to
the time the priest again covers the chalice. After the Canon the priest says
the Post-Communion, or prayer after Communion; then he gives the
blessing and goes to the other side of the altar, and ends Mass by saying the
During the Mass the priest frequently makes the Sign of the Cross, genuflects
or bends the knee before the altar, strikes his breast, etc. What do all these
ceremonies mean? By the cross the priest is reminded of the death of Our Lord;
he genuflects as an act of humility, and he strikes his breast to show his own
unworthiness. You will understand all the ceremonies of the altar if you
remember that Our Lord-the King of kings-is present on it, and the priest acts
in His presence as the servants in a kingīs palace would act when approaching
their king or in his presence, showing their respect by bowing, kneeling, etc.
You will see this more clearly if you watch the movements of the priest at the
altar while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:
"To nourish." The Holy Eucharist does to our souls what natural food
does to our bodies. It strengthens them and makes up for the losses we have
sustained by sin, etc. "A pledge," because it does not seem probable
that a person who all during life had been fed and nourished with the sacred
body of Our Lord should after death be buried in Hell. "To fit our bodies,"
because Our Lord has promised that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood,
that is, receive the Holy Eucharist, He will raise us up on the last day, or
Day of Judgment. (John 6:55).
A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy
A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.
Holy Communion is therefore the receiving of the Sacrament of Holy
A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to be in a state of sanctifying
grace, to be fasting for one hour, and to have a right intention.
"Fasting"--that is, not having taken any food or drink for one hour
before the time of Communion. (Water and true medicine do not break the fast
and may be taken at any time.) What, then, are you to do, if, without thinking,
you break your fast? Do not go to Communion at that Mass; you can remain in
church and receive Communion at the following Mass. Never, never, on any
account, go to Holy Communion when you have broken your fast. Never let fear
or shame or anything else make you do such a thing. It is no shame to break
your fast by mistake; but it is a great sin to knowingly go to Communion after
breaking your fast.
"A right intention"--holy and spiritual motive, such as, to obey Our
Lordīs command, to receive strength to resist temptation, or to be united with
A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of
Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.
"The body and blood," because the appearance of bread and wine is there
after consecration, and he receives it. He who receives the Holy Eucharist in
mortal sin receives Our Lord into a filthy soul. If a great and
highly-esteemed friend was coming to visit your house, would you not take care
to have everything clean and neat, and pleasing to him? And the greater the
dignity of the person coming, the more careful you would be. But what are all
the persons of dignity in the world-kings or popes-compared with Our Lord, who
leaves the beauties of Heaven to come to visit our soul? and the purest we can
make it is not pure enough for Him. But He is kind to us, and is satisfied
with our poor preparation if He sees we are doing our very best. But oh, what
a shame to receive Him into our soul without any preparation! and more horrible
still, to fill it with vile sins, that we know are most disgusting to Him! No
wonder, therefore, that receiving Holy Communion unworthily is so great a
crime, and so deserving of Godīs punishment. Why should not the heavenly
Father punish us for treating His beloved Son with such shameful disrespect and
A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to
be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial
sin, and should make acts of lively faith, of firm hope and ardent love.
A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is the abstaining for one hour
from everything which is taken as food or drink.
"Food or drink." If you swallowed a button, for example, it would not
break your fast, because it is not food or drink.
A. Anyone in danger of death is allowed to receive Communion when not
"Not fasting." But then the Holy Communion is called by another name; it
is called the Viaticum, and the priest uses a different prayer in giving it to
the sick person. When a person dies, he goes, as it were, on a journey from
this world to the next. Now, when persons are going on a journey they must
have food to strengthen them. Our Lord wished, therefore, that all His
children who had to go on this most important of all journeys--from this world
to the next--should be first strengthened by this sacred food, His own body and
blood. The Latin word for road or way is via, and Viaticum therefore
means food for the way. Not only are persons in danger of death allowed to
receive when not fasting, but they are obliged to receive; and the priest is
obliged under pain of sin to bring Holy Communion to the dying at any hour of
the day or night.
When I speak of a great journey from this world to the next, from earth to
Heaven, you must not understand me to mean that it is a great many miles from
earth to Heaven, or that it takes a long time to go to the next world. No.
We cannot measure the distance, nor does it take time to get there. The instant
we die, no matter where that happens, our soul is in the next world, and judged
A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a
greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all graces and
the Source of all good.
A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in
thanking Him for the graces we have received and in asking Him for the
blessings we need.
A. The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ at the
consecration in the Mass.
A. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.
The Holy Sacrifice is called Mass probably from the words the priest
says at the end when he turns to the people and says, "Ite Missa est";
that is, when he tells them the Holy Sacrifice is over.
A. A sacrifice is the offering of an object by a priest to God alone, and
the consuming of it to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all
"Sacrifice" From the very earliest history of man we find people--for
example, Abel, Noah, etc.--offering up sacrifice to God; that is, taking
something and offering it to God, and then destroying it to show that they
believed God to be the Master of life and death, and the Supreme Lord of all
things. These offerings were sometimes plants or fruits, but most frequently
When men lost the knowledge of the true God and began to worship idols of wood
and stone, they began or continued to offer sacrifice to these false gods.
Very often, too, they sacrificed human beings to please, as they imagined,
these gods. They believed there was a god for everything--a god for the ocean,
a god for thunder, a god for wind, for war, etc.; and when anything happened
that frightened or injured the people, they believed that some of these gods
were offended, and offered up sacrifice to pacify them. They had a temple in
Rome called the Pantheon, or temple of all the gods, and here they kept the
idols of all the gods they could think of or know. At Athens, they were afraid
of neglecting any god whom they might thus give offense, and so they had an
altar for the unknown god. When St. Paul came to preach, he saw this altar to
the unknown god, and told them that was the God he came to preach about.
(Acts 17). He preached to them the existence of the true God, and
showed them that there is only one God and not many gods.
They did not have these idols of wood and stone in their temples for the same
reason that we have images in our churches, because they believed that the
idols were really gods, and offered sacrifice to them, whereas we know that our
images are the works of men. Near the city of Jerusalem there was a great idol
named Molech, to which parents offered their infants in sacrifice. We know,
too, from the history of this country that the Indians used to send a beautiful
young girl in a white canoe over the falls of Niagara every year, as a
sacrifice offered to the god of the falls. Even yet human sacrifices are
offered up on savage islands. Sometimes certain animals were selected to be
heathen gods. The people who worship idols, animals, or other things of that
kind as gods are called pagans, idolaters, or heathens.
The Israelites, who worshipped the true God and offered Him sacrifices because
He made known to them by revelation that they should do so, had four kinds of
sacrifice. They offered one for sin, another in thanksgiving for benefits
received, another as an act of worship, and another to beg Godīs blessing. It
is just for these four ends or objects we offer up the one Christian sacrifice
of the holy Mass. In the beginning the head of the family offered sacrifice-as
Noah did when he came out of the Ark--but after God gave His laws to Moses He
appointed priests to offer up the sacrifices. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was
the first priest appointed, and after him his descendants were priests. When
Our Lord came and instituted a new sacrifice He established the priesthood of
the New Law, and appointed His own priests, namely, the Apostles, with St.
Peter as their chief, and after them their lawfully appointed successors. the
bishops of the world, with the Pope as their chief The sacrifices of the Old
Law were figures of the sacrifice of the New Law, and were to cease at its
institution; and when the ancient sacrifices ceased the ancient priesthood was
at an end.
But how is the Mass a sacrifice? It is a sacrifice because at the Mass the
body and blood of Our Lord are offered to His heavenly Father at the
consecration, and afterwards consumed by the priest. In offering up the body
and blood of Our Lord the bread and wine are consecrated separately, and kept
separate on the altar at Mass to signify their separation at Our Lordīs death
in the sacrifice of the Cross, when His sacred blood flowed from His body. The
Holy Eucharist is also a Sacrament, because it has the three things necessary
to constitute a Sacrament; namely,
The Holy Eucharist is therefore both a sacrifice and a Sacrament. It is a
sacrifice when offered at Mass, and a Sacrament when we receive it and when it
is reserved in the tabernacle.
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering
and the priest are the same--Christ Our Blessed Lord: and the ends for which
the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of
On the Cross the offering was the body and blood of Our Lord; the one
who offered it was Our Lord; the reason for which He offered it was that He
might atone for sin; the one to whom He offered it was His heavenly Father.
Now, at Mass it is the same. The object offered is Our Lordīs body and blood,
the one suffering is Our Lord Himself, through the priest; it is offered for
sin, and it is offered to the heavenly Father. All things are the same, except
that the blood of Our Lord is not shed, and Our Lord does not die again.
A. The ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered were: first, to
honor and glorify God; second, to thank Him for all the graces bestowed on the
whole world; third, to satisfy Godīs justice for the sins of men; fourth, to
obtain all graces and blessings.
A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the
Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is
no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but
the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and
the wine, represents His death on the Cross.
A. We should assist at Mass with great interior recollection and piety and
with every outward mark of respect and devotion.
If you were admitted into the presence of a king or of the Holy Father
you would be careful not to show any indifference or disrespect in his
presence. You would not be guilty of looking around or of talking idly to
those near you. Your eyes would be constantly fixed on the great person
present. So should you be at Mass, for there you are admitted into the
presence of the King of kings, our divine Lord. Your whole attention,
therefore, should be reverently given to Him, and to no other. How displeasing
it must be to Him to have some in His presence who care so little for Him and
who insult Him without thought or regard! If we acted in the presence of any
prince as we sometimes act in the presence of Our Lord on the altar, we should
be turned out of his house, with orders not to come again. But Our Lord
suffers all patiently and meekly, though He will not allow any of this
disrespect to go unpunished in this world or in the next. Knowing this, some
holy persons offer up their prayers and Holy Communions in reparation for these
insults, and try to atone for all the insults offered to Our Lord in the
Blessed Sacrament. They have united in holy society for this purpose, called
the Apostleship of Prayer, or League of the Sacred Heart, now established in
many parishes. If you do not belong to such a society, you should make such an
offering yourself privately.
In the Old Law the people brought to the temple whatever they wished the
priests to offer up for them-sometimes a lamb, sometimes a dove, sometimes
fruit, etc. The offering or sacrifice was theirs, and they offered it up by
the hands of the priests. In the early ages of the Church the Christians
brought to the priests the bread and wine to be consecrated and offered up at
Mass. Now as the bread and wine used at the Mass must be of a particular kind,
namely, wheaten bread and wine of the grape, there was some danger of the
people not bringing the proper kind: so instead of the people bringing these
things themselves, the priests began to buy them, and the people gave him money
for his own support; and thus you have the origin of offering money to the
priest for celebrating Mass for your intention. The money is not to pay for
the Mass, because you could not buy any sacred thing without committing sin.
The priest may use the money also for the candles burned, the vestments and
sacred vessels, etc., used at the Mass. To buy a holy thing for money is the
sin of simony-so called after Simon, a magician, who tried to bribe the
Apostles to give him Confirmation when he was unworthy of it. To buy religious
articles before they are blessed is not simony, nor even after they are
blessed, if you pay only for the material of which they are made; but if you
tried to buy the blessing, it would be simony. When the Holy Mass is offered,
the fruits or benefits of it are divided into four classes. The first benefit
comes to the priest who celebrates the Mass; the second, to the one for whom he
offers the Mass; the third benefit to those who are present at it; and the
fourth to all the faithful throughout the world.
A. The best manner of hearing Mass is to offer it to God with the priest for
the same purpose for which it is said, to meditate on Christīs sufferings and
death, and to go to Holy Communion.
That is, to offer it up for whatever intention the priest is offering
it--for the dead, for the conversion of sinners, for the good of others, etc.;
but especially for the four ends
of which I have already spoken-to worship God, thank Him, etc. "Christīs
death," of which it reminds us. "Holy Communion," if we are in a
state of grace, and have prepared to receive Communion.
You should go to Holy Communion as often as possible, and you should try every
day to make yourself more worthy of that great Sacrament. Think of it! To
receive your God and Saviour into your soul, and to be united with Him, as the
word communion means! The early Christians used to go to Communion very
frequently. The Church requires us to go to Holy Communion at least once a
year, but we should not be satisfied with doing merely what is necessary to
avoid mortal sin. Do we try to keep away from persons we love? Then if we
really love Our Lord should we not desire to receive Him? All good Catholics
should go to Holy Communion at least once a week, on Sunday. Persons wishing
to lead truly holy lives should go to Communion more often, or even every day.
When we cannot go really to Communion we can merit Godīs grace by making a
spiritual Communion. What is a spiritual Communion? It is an earnest desire
to receive Communion. You prepare yourself as if you were really going to
Communion; you try to imagine yourself going up, receiving the Blessed
Sacrament, and returning to your place. Then you thank God for all His
blessings to you as you would have done had you received. This is an act of
devotion, and one very pleasing to God, as many holy writers tell us.
I cannot leave this lesson on the Holy Eucharist without telling you something
of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, now so universally practiced and
so closely connected with the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. The Church
grants many indulgences, and Our Lord Himself promises many rewards to those
who honor the Sacred Heart. But what do we mean by the Sacred Heart? We mean
the real natural heart of Our Lord, to which His divinity is united as it is to
His whole body. But why do we adore this real, natural heart of Our Lord? We
adore it because love is said to be in the heart, and we wish to return Our
Lord love, and gratitude for the great love He has shown to us in dying for us,
and in instituting the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, by which He
can remain with us in His sacred humanity. When Our Lord appeared to Saint
Margaret Mary He said: "Behold this Heart, that has loved men so ardently, and
is so little loved in return." The first Friday of every month and the whole
month of June are dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
means the anointing
or rubbing with oil or ointment.
"Extreme" means last. Therefore Extreme Unction means the last
anointing. It is called the "last" because other unctions or anointings are
received before it. We are anointed at Baptism on three parts of the body-on
the breast, the back, and the head. We are anointed on the forehead at
Confirmation; and when priests are ordained they are anointed on the hands.
The last time we are anointed is just before death, and it is therefore very
properly called the last anointing, or Extreme Unction. But if the person
should not die after being anointed would it still be called Extreme Unction?
Yes; because at the time it was given it was thought to be the last. It
sometimes happens that persons receive Extreme Unction several times in their
lives, because they could receive it every time they were in danger of death by
sickness. Suppose a person should die immediately after being anointed in
Baptism or Confirmation, would the anointing in Baptism or Confirmation then
become Extreme Unction? No. Because Extreme Unction is in itself a separate
and distinct Sacrament-a special anointing with prayers for the sick. Oil is
used in Extreme Unction-as in Confirmation-as a sign of strength; for as the
priest applies the holy oil in the Sacrament, the grace of the Sacrament is
taking effect upon the soul. This Sacrament was instituted as much for the
body as for the soul, as all the prayers said by the priest while administering
it indicate. It is given generally after a person has made his confession and
received the Viaticum, and when his soul is already in a state of grace;
showing that it is in a special way intended for the body. It must be given
only in sickness; for although one might be in danger of death if the danger
did not come from within, but from without, he could not be anointed. A
soldier in battle, persons being shipwrecked, firemen working at a great fire,
etc., could not be anointed, although they are in very great danger of death;
because the danger is not from within themselves, but from without. If,
however, these persons were so frightened that there was danger of their dying
from the fright, they could then be anointed.
A. Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which, through the anointing and prayer
of the priest, gives health and strength to the soul, and sometimes to the
body, when we are in danger of death from sickness.
"Anointing." In this Sacrament the priest anoints all our senses-the
eyes, the ears, the nose, the mouth, the hands, and the feet-and at the same
time prays God to forgive the poor sick person all the sins he has committed by
any of these. The eyes, by looking at bad objects or pictures; the ears, by
listening to bad conversation; the nose, by indulging too much in sensual
pleasures; the mouth, by cursing, lying, bad conversation, backbiting, etc.;
the hands, by stealing, fighting, or doing sinful things; the feet, by carrying
us to do wrong or to bad places. I told you already most of our sins are
committed for our body, and the senses are the chief instruments. "Strength
to the body," if it is for our spiritual welfare. If God foresees, as He
foresees all things, that after our sickness we shall lead better lives and do
penance for our sins, then He may be pleased to restore us to health, and give
us an opportunity of making up for our past faults. But if He foresees that
after our sickness we would again lead bad lives, and fall perhaps into greater
sins, then He will likely take us when we are prepared, and will not restore us
again to health. As He always knows and does what is best for His children, we
must in sickness always be resigned to His holy will, and be satisfied with
what He sees fit to do with us.
A. We should receive Extreme Unction when we are in danger of death from
sickness, or from a wound or accident.
A. We should not wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive
Extreme Unction, but if possible we should receive it whilst we have the use of
We should always be glad to receive the grace of the Sacraments. When,
therefore, we are sufficiently ill to be anointed--when there is any danger of
death--we should send for the priest at once. If the sick person has any
chance of recovering, the Sacrament will help him and hasten the recovery; but
if the priest is sent for just when the person is in the last agony of death,
the person could not recover except by a miracle, and God does not perform
miracles for ordinary reasons. If you are in doubt whether the person is sick
enough to receive the last Sacraments, do not be the judge yourself, send for
the priest and let him judge; and then all the responsibility is removed from
you in case the person should die without the Sacraments. Very often persons
are near death, and their relatives do not know it. The priest, like the
doctor, has experience in these cases, and can judge of the danger. Again, do
not foolishly believe, as some seem to do, that if the priest comes to anoint
the sick person it will frighten him by making him think he is going to die.
It has never been known that the priest killed anyone by coming to see him; and
if these same persons who are now sick receive the Sacraments in the church
from the very same priest, why should they be afraid to receive them from him
in their house? And if they are so near death that a little fright would kill
them, then they are surely sick enough to receive the Sacraments. The sick
person who is afraid that Extreme Unction will kill him or hasten his death
shows that he has not the proper faith and confidence in Godīs grace. They who
do not wish to receive Holy Communion or the Holy Viaticum in their houses do
not want Our Lord to visit them. How ungrateful they are! When Our Lord was
on earth the people carried the sick out into the streets to lay them near Him
that He might cure them. Now, He does not require us to do that, but comes
Himself to the sick in the most humble manner, and they refuse to receive Him.
See how ungrateful, therefore, and how wanting in faith and devotion such
persons are! If the sick person is one who has been careless about his
religion, and has for some time neglected to receive the Sacraments, do not
wait for him to ask for the priest or for his consent to send for him. Few
persons ever believe they are so near death as they really are: they are afraid
to think of their past lives, and do not like to send for the priest, or at
least they put off doing so, frequently till it is too late. The devil tempts
them to put off the reception of the Sacraments, in hopes that they may die
without them, and be his forever. In these cases speak to the sick man quietly
and gently, and ask him if he would not like to have the priest come and say a
few prayers for his recovery. Do not say anything about the Sacraments if you
are afraid he will refuse. Simply bring the priest to the sick man, and he
will attend to all the rest. Even if the person should refuse-if he has been
baptized in the Catholic religion-send for the priest and explain to him the
circumstances and dispositions of the sick man. It would be terrible to let
such persons die without the Sacraments if there is any possibility of their
receiving them. Even when they refuse to see the priest it generally happens
that after he has once visited them, talked to them, and explained the benefits
of the Sacraments, they are better pleased than anyone else to see him coming
Sometimes it is Godīs goodness that sends sickness to such persons, to bring
them back to His worship and the practice of their religion. What does a good
father generally do with an unruly child? He advises and warns it, and when
words have no effect, punishes it with the rod, not because he wishes to see it
suffer, but for its good, that it may give up its evil habits and become an
obedient, loving child. In like manner God warns sinners by their conscience,
by sermons they hear, by accidents or deaths around about them, etc.; and when
none of these things have any effect on them, He sends them some affliction-He
brings them to a bed of sickness. He punishes them, as it were, with a rod.
This He does, not that He may see them suffer, but for their good; that they
may understand He is their Master, the only one who can give them health; that
all the doctors and all the friends and money in the world could not save them
if He determined that they should die. Then they come to know that the world
is not their friend; then they see things as they really are, and begin to
think of the next world, of eternity, etc. Thus they again turn to God and to
the practices of religion. Many persons who reform and begin to lead good
lives in sickness would never have changed if God had left them always in good
health. But you must not think that all who are sick are so on account of sin.
Sometimes very holy persons are in a state of sickness, and then it is sent
them that they may bear it patiently, and have great merit before God for their
sufferings, and thus become more holy. Again, very small children who have
never sinned are sick, and then it is perhaps that their parents may have merit
for patiently taking care of them. I say that God sometimes sends sickness to
persons living in sin for the purpose of bringing them back to a better way of
living, and in that case their sickness is for them a great mercy from God, who
might have allowed them to continue in sin till His judgments and condemnation
came suddenly upon them.
A. The effects of Extreme Unction are: first, to comfort us in the pains of
sickness and to strengthen us against temptations; second, to remit venial sins
and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin; third, to restore us to health
when God sees fit.
A. By the remains of sin I mean the inclination to evil and the weakness of
the will, which are the result of our sins and which remain after our sins have
"Remains of sin" that is, chiefly the bad habits we have acquired by
sin. If a person does a thing very often, he soon begins to do it very easily,
and it becomes, as we say, a habit. So, too, a person who sins very much soon
begins to sin easily. This Sacrament therefore takes away the ease in sinning
and the desire for past sins acquired by frequently committing them.
A. We should receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction in a state of grace
and with lively faith and resignation to the will of God.
A. The priest is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
The Sacraments that the priest administers in the house are the
Sacraments for the sick; namely, Penance, Viaticum, or Holy Communion, and
Extreme Unction. The other Sacraments may be administered there in special
cases of necessity. You should know what things are to be prepared when the
priest comes to administer the Sacraments in your house. They are as follows:
A small table covered with a clean white cloth, and on it a crucifix and one or
two lighted candles in candlesticks; some holy water in a small vessel, with a
sprinkler which you can make by tying together a few leaves or small pieces of
palm; a glass of clean water, a tablespoon, and a napkin for the sick person to
hold under the chin while receiving; also a piece of white cotton wadding, if
the priest should ask for it.
Then you may have ready in another place near at hand some water, a towel, and
a piece of bread or lemon for purifying the priestīs fingers; but these things
are not always necessary: still, it would be better to have them ready in case
the priest should require them, so as not to keep him waiting. Every good
Catholic family should have all these things put away carefully in the house.
It would be well, though it is not necessary, to keep a special spoon, napkin,
etc., for that purpose alone. Sometimes persons are taken ill very suddenly in
the night, and when the priest comes they have none of the things they should
have; and if their neighbors are as careless as themselves, they will not have
them either: so the priest is delayed in giving the Sacraments, or is obliged
to administer them in a way that is always disrespectful to Our Lord. If we
would make such preparations for the coming of a friend to our house, why
should we be so careless when Our Lord comes? If a friend comes when we are
not prepared to receive him, we feel very much ashamed, and make a thousand
excuses for our want of thought. Therefore provide the things necessary for
the administration of these Sacraments in your house, and keep them though they
may be seldom if ever required in your family.
When Our Lord comes to visit your house receive Him with all possible respect
and reverence. Some good Catholics have the very praiseworthy practice of
meeting the priest at the door with a lighted candle when he carries the
Blessed Sacrament, and of going before him to the sickroom. This can be done
where there is only one family living in the house, or at least in the
apartment. All who can do this should do it, because it is in keeping with the
wish of the Church. In olden times, and even now in Catholic countries, the
priest brings the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the sick. He goes vested
as for Benediction, accompanied by altar boys with lighted candles and bells.
The people kneel by the way as Our Lord passes. Our Lord is carried in
procession always in the church and on the feast of Corpus Christi, on Holy
Thursday, and during the Devotion of Forty Hours. The Church would like to
have this solemn procession in honor of Our Lord every time the Blessed
Sacrament is brought from one place to another. But this cannot always be done
in the streets, because there are many persons not Catholics who would insult
Our Lord while passing along; and in order to prevent this, the priest brings
the Blessed Sacrament to the dying without any outward display. But we should
always remember the very great respect due to Our Lord, and do all we can to
show it when possible.
A. Holy Orders is a Sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers
of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their
"Other ministers," means deacons and subdeacons, properly so-called.
When a young man goes to study for the priesthood--after he has discovered that
God has called him to that sacred office--he passes several years in learning
what is necessary, and in fitting himself for his sacred duties. After some
time he receives what is called tonsure; that is, on the day of ordination the
bishop cuts a little hair from five places on his head, to show that this young
man is giving himself up to God. The tonsure is a mark of the clerical state,
and in Catholic countries it is made manifest by keeping a small circular spot
on the crown of the head shaved perfectly clean. It reminds the cleric or
priest of having dedicated himself to God, and also of the crown of thorns worn
by Our Blessed Saviour. For this reason some of the holy monks shaved all the
hair from their head, with the exception of a little ring, which resembles very
much a wreath or crown of hair encircling the head. You often see them thus
represented in holy pictures.
After the young student has received the tonsure and studied for a longer time,
he receives the four Minor Orders, by which he is permitted to touch the sacred
vessels of the altar, and do certain things about the church which laymen have
not the right to do, especially to serve Mass. After more preparation he
becomes a subdeacon, and then he may wear vestments and assist the celebrant at
Solemn Mass. At a Solemn Mass there are three priests in vestments. The
priest standing on the platform of the altar and celebrating Mass is called
the celebrant; the one who stands just behind him, generally one step lower, is
called the deacon, and the one who stands behind the deacon and on the lower
step is called the subdeacon. The one who directs the whole ceremony, and
gives signs to the others when to stand, sit down. or kneel, is called the
Master of Ceremonies.
When speaking of the Mass, I forgot to tell you something about the different
kinds of Masses--that is, different as far as the ceremonies are concerned, for
they are all alike in value. First we have the Low Mass, such as the priest
says every day and at the early hours on Sundays. It is called low, because
there is no display in ceremony about it. Next we have the High Mass--called
Missa Cantata (sung)--at which the priest and choir sing in turn. Lastly, we
have the Solemn High Mass, at which we have three ministers or priests, and
singing by both ministers and choir, as well as all the ceremonies prescribed
by the Church. When any of these Masses are said in black vestments they are
called Requiem Masses, because the priest offers them for the rest or happy
repose of the soul of some dead person or persons, and the word requiem
means rest. Vespers is a portion of the Divine Office of the
Church. It is sung generally on Sunday afternoon or evening in the church, and
is usually followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is not a
mortal sin to stay from Vespers on Sundays, even willfully, because there is no
law of the Church obliging you to attend. Nevertheless all good Catholics will
attend Vespers when possible.
To continue about the ministers of the Church: When the subdeacon is ordained a
deacon, he can wear still more of the priestly vestments, and also baptize
solemnly, preach, and give Holy Communion. After a time the deacon is ordained
a priest, and receives power to celebrate Mass and forgive sins. If afterwards
the priest should be selected by the Holy Father to be a bishop, he is
consecrated; and then he has power to administer Confirmation and Holy Orders,
ordaining priests and consecrating bishops. Thus you see there are grades
through which the ministers of the Church must pass. First the tonsure, then
Minor Orders, then subdeaconship, then deaconship, then priesthood. Nuns,
Sisters, Brothers, etc., are not, as some might think, ministers of the Church,
because they have never received any of the Holy Orders.
The ordained ministers of the Church can perform the duties of any office for
which they have ever been ordained, but not the duties of any office above that
to which they have been ordained. For example, a subdeacon cannot take the
place of a deacon at Mass, nor a deacon the place of a priest; but a priest may
take either of their places, because he has, at one time, been ordained to both
Altar boys should never forget that they are enjoying a very great privilege in
being allowed to take the place of an ordained minister of the Church, and
serve Mass without being ordained acolytes.
In olden times princes and noblemen used to seek for this wonderful favor, and
count themselves happy if they secured it. Think of it! To stand so near our
Blessed Lord that they are able to see His sacred body resting upon the altar,
and to offer the wine, which a few minutes later is changed into His very blood!
A. To receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary to be in the state of
grace, to have the necessary knowledge, and a divine call to this sacred
"Knowledge"--that is, to be able to learn and to have learned all that a
priest should know.
"Divine call," explained before in the explanation of vocation, a word
that means call. (See Lesson 6, Q. 51.)
A. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers
of God and the dispensers of His mysteries.
"Messengers." Our Lord said to His Apostles: "As the Father sent Me, I
also send you." That is, as the heavenly Father sent His Beloved Son, Our Lord,
into the world to save menīs souls, so Our Lord sends His Apostles and their
successors through the world to save souls. God told the priests of the Old
Law that if they did not warn the people of coming dangers they would be held
responsible for the people; but if they warned the people and the people did
not heed, then the people would be responsible for their own destruction. So,
too, in the New Law the priests warn you against sin, and if you do not heed
the warning the loss of your soul will be upon yourself. Therefore you should
take every warning coming from the ministers of God as you would from Himself,
for it is really God that warns you against sin, and the priests are only His
agents or instruments. "Dispensers"--that is, those who administer the
A. Bishops can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
"Confer"--that is, give or administer. So can a cardinal, if he be a
bishop, and so can the Holy Father, who is always a bishop, and called bishop
of Rome, while Pope of the whole Church. It will be well here to give some
explanation about cardinals-who they are, and what they do. In the United
States the President has about him ten prominent men selected by himself, and
called his Cabinet. They are his advisers; he consults them on all important
matters, and assigns to them various duties. The Holy Father, who is also a
ruler-a spiritual ruler-not of one country, but of the whole world, has also a
Cabinet, but it is not called by that name: it is called the Sacred College of
Cardinals. There are seventy cardinals, to whom the Pope assigns various works
in helping him to govern the Church. Some of these cardinals are in different
parts of the world, as our own cardinals right here in America. There are
cardinals in England, France, Germany, Canada, Spain, etc., but a certain
number always remain in Rome with the Holy Father. When a bishop is made
cardinal he is raised in dignity in the Church, but he does not receive any
greater spiritual power than he had when only a bishop. The cardinals, owing
to their high dignity, have many privileges which bishops have not. Their
greatest privilege is to take part in the election of a new Pope when the
reigning Pope dies.
The Pope dresses in white, the cardinals in red, the bishops in purple, and the
priests and other ministers in black. A "Monsignor" is also a title of dignity
granted by our Holy Father to some worthy priests. It gives them certain
privileges, and the right to wear purple like a bishop. The "Vicar General" is
one who is appointed by the bishop in the diocese, and shares his power. In
the bishopīs absence he acts as bishop in all temporal and worldly matters and
also in some spiritual things, concerning the diocese. A diocese is the extent
of country over which a bishop is appointed to rule, as a parish is the extent
over which a pastor is appointed to administer the Sacraments and rule under
the direction of the bishop. Pastors are also called rectors. Pastor means a
shepherd, and rector means a ruler; and as all pastors rule their flocks,
pastor and rector mean about the same.
An archbishop is higher than a bishop, though he has no more spiritual power
than a bishop. The district over which an archbishop rules contains several
dioceses with their bishops, and is called an ecclesiastical province. The
bishops in the province are called suffragan bishops, because subject in some
things to the authority of the archbishop, who is also called the metropolitan,
because bishop of a metropolis or chief city of the province over which he
The archbishop can wear the pallium, a garment worn by the Pope, and sent by
him to patriarchs, primates, and archbishops. It is a band of white wool, worn
over the shoulders and around the neck after the manner of a stole. It has two
strings of the same material and four black or purple crosses worked upon it.
It is the symbol of the plenitude of pastoral jurisdiction conferred by the
Holy See. Morally speaking, it reminds the wearer how the good shepherd seeks
the lost sheep and brings it home upon his shoulders, and how the loving pastor
of souls should seek those spiritually lost and bring them back to the Church,
the true fold of Christ.
A. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament which unites a Christian man
and woman in lawful marriage.
"Christian," because if they are not Christians they do not receive the
grace of the Sacrament.
A. A Christian man and woman cannot be united in lawful marriage in any
other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony, because Christ raised marriage to
the dignity of a Sacrament.
"Lawful." Persons are lawfully married when they comply with all the
laws of God and of the Church relating to marriage. To marry unlawfully is a
mortal sin, in which the persons must remain till the sin is forgiven.
"Sacrament." Before the coming of Our Lord persons were married as they
are now, and even lawfully according to the laws of the Old Testament or old
religion; but marriage did not give them any grace. Now it does give grace,
because it is a Sacrament, and has been so since the time of Our Lord. Before
His coming it was only a contract, and when He added grace to the contract it
became a Sacrament.
A. The bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power.
"Dissolved"--that is, can married persons ever--for any cause--separate
and marry again; that is, take another husband or wife while the first husband
or wife is living? Never, if they were really married. Sometimes, for good
reason, the Church permits husband and wife to separate and live in different
places; but they are still married. Sometimes it happens, too, that persons
are not really married although they have gone through the ceremony and people
think they are married, and they may think so themselves. The Church, however,
makes them separate, because it finds they are not really married at all-on
account of some impeding circumstance that existed at the time they performed
the ceremony. These circumstances or facts that prevent the marriage from
being valid are called "Impediments to Marriage:" Some of them render the
marriage altogether null, and some only make it unlawful. When persons make
arrangements about getting married they should tell the priest every
circumstance that they think might be an impediment. Here are the chief things
they should tell the priest-privately, if possible. Whether both are
Christians and Catholics; whether either has ever been solemnly engaged to
another person; whether they have ever made any vow to God with regard to
chastity, the religious life, or the like; whether they are related and in what
degree; whether either was ever married to any member of the otherīs family-say
sister, brother, or cousin, etc.; whether either ever was a godparent in
Baptism for the other or for any of the otherīs children; whether either was
married before, and what proof can be given of the death of the first husband
or wife; whether they really intend to get married; whether they are of lawful
age; whether they are in good health or suffering from some sickness that might
prevent their marriage, etc. They should also state whether they live in the
parish, and how long they have lived in it. They should give at least three
weeksī notice before their marriage, except in special cases of necessity.
They should not presume to make final arrangements and invite friends before
they have made arrangements with their pastor; because if there should be any
delay on account of impediments it would cause them great inconvenience. Let
me take an example of a fact that would render the marriage invalid or null
though the persons performing the ceremony might not be aware of it. Suppose a
womanīs husband went to the war, and she heard after a great many years that he
had been killed in battle, and she, believing her first husband to be dead,
married another man. But the report of the first husbandīs death turns out to
be false, and after a time he returns. Then the Church tells the woman and she
knows it now herself-that the second marriage was invalid, that is, no
marriage, because it was performed while the first husband was still living.
She must leave the second man and go back to her husband. You see in that case
the Church was not dissolving or breaking the marriage bond, but only declaring
that the woman and second man were not married from the very beginning,
although they thought they were, being ignorant of the existing impediment, and
the priest also being deceived performed the ceremony in the usual manner. If
it ever happens, therefore, that you hear of the Church permitting persons,
already apparently married, to separate and marry others, it is only when it
discovers that their first marriage was invalid, and by its action it does not
dissolve the bond of marriage, but simply declares that the marriage was null
and void from the beginning, as you now easily understand. Thus persons might
unwittingly marry with existing impediments that would render their marriage
invalid or illicit. Such things, however, happen very rarely, for the priest
would discover the impediments in questioning the persons about to marry.
Protestants and persons outside the Catholic Church teach that the marriage
bond can at times be dissolved, but such doctrines bring great evil upon
society. When the father and mother separate and marry again, the children of
the first marriage are left to take care of themselves, or receive only such
care as the law gives them. They are left without Christian instruction and
the good influence of home. Then persons who are divorced once may be divorced
a second or third time, and thus all society would be thrown into a state of
confusion, and there would be scarcely any such thing as a family to be found.
It is bad enough at present, on account of divorces granted by the laws and
upheld by Protestants; and only for the influence and good public opinion
created by the teaching and opposition of the Catholic Church, it would be much
worse. Again, if husbands and wives could separate for this or that fault,
they would not be careful in making their choice of the person they wish to
marry, nor would their motives be always holy and worthy of the Sacrament.
A. The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are: first, to sanctify
the love of husband and wife; second, to give them grace to bear with each
otherīs weaknesses; third, to enable them to bring up their children in the
fear and love of God.
The union and love existing between a husband and wife should be like
the union and love existing between Our Lord and His Church. The grace of the
Sacrament helps them to have such a love. "Weaknesses" that is, their faults,
bad dispositions, etc. "Bring up their children." This is their most
important duty, and parents receive grace to perform it, and woe be to them if
they abuse that grace! Children should remember that their parents have
received this special grace from God to advise, direct, and warn them of sin;
and if they refuse to obey their parents or despise their direction, they are
despising Godīs grace. Remember that nothing teaches us so well as experience.
Now your parents, even if God gave them no special grace, have experience.
They have been children as you are; they have been young persons as you are;
they have received advice from their parents and teachers as you do. If your
parents are bad, it is because they have not heeded the advice given them. If
they are good, it is because they have heeded and followed it. The years of
your youth quickly pass, and you will soon be thrown out into the world, among
strangers to provide for yourselves, and will perhaps have no one to advise
you. If you neglect to learn while you have the opportunity you will be sorry
for it in after life. If you waste your time in school, you will leave it
knowing very little, and an ignorant man can never take any good position in
the world; he can seldom be his own master and independent; he must always toil
for others as a servant. God gives us our talents and opportunities that we
may use them to the best of our ability, and He will hold us accountable for
these. It is good and praiseworthy to raise ourselves and others in the world
if we do so by lawful and proper means. You may have the opportunity of
getting a good position, and will not be able to take it because you are not
sufficiently educated. Many young men live to be sorry for wasting time in
school, and try to make up for it by studying at night.
You cannot really make up for lost time. Every moment God gives you He gives
for some particular work, and He will require an account from you, at the last
day, for the use you made of your time. Besides, you can learn with greater
ease while you are young. But what shall I say of neglecting to learn your
holy religion? If you neglect your school lessons you will not be successful
in the world as businessmen or professional men; but if you neglect your
religious lessons, you will be miserable, not merely in this world, but in the
next, and that for all eternity. Again, will you not feel ashamed to say you
are a Catholic when persons who are not Catholics ask you the meaning of
something you believe or do, and you will not be able to answer? When they
tell falsehoods against your religion, you will not, on account of your
ignorance, be able to refute them. Almost the only time you have to learn the
truths and practices of your holy religion is during the instructions at Sunday
school or day school, and after a few years you will not have this advantage.
When you grow up you may hear a sermon, and if you attend early Mass, only a
short instruction, on Sundays; and if you do not know your Catechism, you will
be less able to profit by the instructions given. Therefore the time to learn
is while you are young, have sufficient leisure, and good, willing teachers to
explain whatever you do not understand.
When you attend Sunday school, bear in mind that your teachers have frequently
to sacrifice their time or pleasure for your sake, and that you should not
repay them for their kindness by acts of disobedience, disrespect, and
stubbornness. By spending your time in idleness, in giving annoyance to your
teacher, and in distracting others who are willing to learn, you show a want of
appreciation and gratitude for the blessings God has bestowed upon you, and
please the devil exceedingly; and as God will hold you accountable for all His
gifts, this one--the opportunity of learning your religion--will be no
A. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily it is necessary to
be in the state of grace, and it is necessary also to comply with the laws of
"The laws," laws concerning marriage. Laws forbidding the solemnizing
of marriage at certain times, namely, Advent and Lent; laws forbidding marriage
with relatives, or with persons of a different religion or of no religion; laws
with regard to age, etc.
A. The Church alone has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of
marriage, though the State also has the right to make laws concerning the civil
effects of the marriage contract.
"Civil effects,"--that is, laws with regard to the property of persons
marrying, with regard to the inheritance of the children, with regard to the
debts of husband and wife, etc.
A. The Church does forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a
different religion or no religion at all.
A. The Church forbids the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a
different religion or no religion at all because such marriages generally lead
to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education
of the children.
We know that nothing has so bad an influence upon people as bad company.
Now, when a Catholic marries one who is not a Catholic, he or she is
continually associated with one who in most cases ignores the true religion, or
speaks at least with levity of its devotions and practices. The Catholic party
may resist this evil influence for a time, but will, if not very steadfast in
the faith, finally yield to it, and, tired of numerous disputes in defense of
religious rights, will become more and more indifferent, gradually give up the
practice of religion, and probably terminate with complete loss of faith or
apostasy from the true religion. We know that the children of Seth were good
till they married the children of Cain, and then they also became wicked; for,
remember, there is always more likelihood that the bad will pervert the good,
than that the good will convert the bad. Besides the disputes occasioned
between husband and wife by the diversity of their religion, their families and
relatives, being also of different religions, will seldom be at peace or on
friendly terms with one another. Then the children can scarcely be brought up
in the true religion; for the father may wish them to attend one church, and
the mother another, and to settle the dispute they will attend neither.
Besides, if they have before them the evil example of a father or mother
speaking disparagingly of the true religion, or perhaps ridiculing all
religion, it is not likely they will be imbued with great respect and
veneration for holy things. There is still another reason why Catholics should
dread mixed marriages. If the one who is not a Catholic loses regard for his
or her obligations, becomes addicted to any vice, and is leading a bad life,
the Catholic party has no means of reaching the root of the evil, no hope that
the person may take the advice of the priest, or go to confession or do any of
those things that could effect a change in the heart and life of a Catholic.
For all these very good reasons and others besides, the Church opposes mixed
marriages, as they are called when one of the persons is not a Catholic.
Neither does the Church want persons to become converts simply for the sake of
marrying a Catholic. Such conversions would not be sincere, and would do no
good, but rather make such converts hypocrites, and guilty of greater sin.
A. Many marriages prove unhappy because they are entered into hastily and
without worthy motives. .
"Hastily,"--without knowing the person well or considering their
character or dispositions; without trying to discover whether they are sober,
industrious, virtuous, and the like; whether they know and practice their
religion, or whether, on the contrary, they are given to vices forbidden by
good morals, and totally forgetful of their religious duties. In a word, those
wishing to marry should look for enduring qualities in their lifelong
companions, and not for characteristics that please the fancy for the time
being. They should, besides, truly love each other. Again, the persons should
be nearly equals in education, social standing, etc., for it helps greatly to
secure harmony between families and unity of thought and action between
"Worthy motives." The motives are worthy when persons marry to fulfill
the end for which God instituted marriage. It would, for example, be an
unworthy motive to marry solely for money, property, or other advantage,
without any regard for the holiness and end of the Sacrament. There are many
motives that may present themselves to the minds of persons wishing to marry,
and they will know whether they are worthy or unworthy, good or bad, if by
serious consideration they weigh them well and value them by their desire to
please God and lead a good life.
Every personīs motive in getting married or in entering into any new state of
life should be that he may be able to serve God better in that state than in
A. Christians should prepare for a holy and happy marriage by receiving the
Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist; by begging God to grant them a pure
intention and to direct their choice; and by seeking the advice of their
parents and the blessing of their pastors.
They should pray for a long time that they may make a good choice. They
would do well to read in the Holy Scripture, in the Book of Tobias (8), of the
happy marriage of Tobias and Sara, and how they spent their time in prayer both
before and after their marriage, and how God rewarded them. Advice is very
necessary, as marriage is to last for life, and is to make persons either happy
or miserable. They should ask advice from prudent persons, and should try to
learn something of the former life of the one they wish to marry. They should
know something about the family, whether its members are respectable or not,
etc. It is an injustice to parents for sons or daughters to marry into
families that may have been disgraced, or that may bring disgrace upon them.
Sometimes, however, parents are unreasonable in this matter: they are proud or
vain, and want to suit themselves rather than their children. Sometimes, too,
they force marriage upon their children, or forbid it for purely worldly or
In such cases, and indeed in all cases, the best one to consult and ask advice
from is your confessor. He has only your spiritual interests at heart, and
will set aside all worldly motives. If your parents are unreasonable, he will
be a just judge in the matter, and tell you how to act.
I have now explained all the Sacraments, but before finishing I must say a word
about the Holy Oils. We have seen that oil is used in the
administration of some Sacraments. There are three kinds of oil blessed by the
bishop on Holy Thursday, namely, oil for anointing the sick, called "oil of the
infirm"; oil to be used in Baptism and in the ordination of priests, called
"oil of catechumens" (catechumens are those who are being instructed for
Baptism); the third kind of oil is used also in Baptism, in Confirmation, and
when the bishop blesses the sacred vessels, altars, etc.; it is called "holy
chrism" Therefore the Sacraments in which oil is used are: Baptism, in which
two kinds are used; Confirmation, Extreme Unction, and Holy Orders.
A. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite
good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the
heart to remit venial sin.
It is not the sacramental itself that gives grace, but the devotion, the
love of God, or sorrow for sin that it inspires. For example, a person comes
into the church and goes around the Stations of the Cross. The stations are a
sacramental. In looking at one station he sees Our Lord on trial before Pilate;
in another he sees Him crowned with thorns; in another, scourged; in another,
carrying His Cross; in another, crucified; in another, dead and laid in the
tomb. Before all these pictures he reflects on the sufferings of Our Saviour,
and begins to hate sin, that caused them. Then he thinks, of his own sins, and
begins to be sorry for them. This sorrow, caused by going around the stations,
brings him grace that remits venial sins. When we receive the Sacraments we
always get the grace of the Sacraments when we are rightly disposed; but in
using the sacramentals, the more devotion we have the more grace we receive.
"Increase devotion." If we knelt down before a plain white wall we could
not pray with the devotion we would have kneeling before a crucifix. We see
the representation of the nails in the hands and feet, the blood on the side,
the thorns on the head; and all these must make us think of Our Lordīs terrible
sufferings. The picture of a friend hanging before us will often make us think
of him when we would otherwise forget him. So also will the pictures of Our
Lord and of the saints keep them often in our minds.
A. The difference between the Sacraments and the sacramentals is: first, the
Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ and the sacramentals were instituted
by the Church; second, the Sacraments give grace of themselves when we place no
obstacle in the way; the sacramentals excite in us pious dispositions, by means
of which we may obtain grace.
The Church can increase or diminish the number of the sacramentals, but
not the number of the Sacraments.
A. The chief sacramental used in the Church is the Sign of the Cross.
A. We make the Sign of the Cross by putting the right hand to the forehead,
then on the breast, and then to the left and right shoulders; saying, In the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
It is important to make an exact cross, and to say all the words
distinctly. From carelessness and habit some persons do not make the Sign of
the Cross, though they often intend to bless themselves. They put the hand
only to the forehead and breast, or forehead and chin, or forehead and
shoulders, etc. Some do not even touch the forehead. All these, it is true,
are some signs and movements of the hand, but they are not the Sign of the
Cross. Therefore, from childhood form the good habit of blessing yourself
correctly, and you will continue to do it properly all your life.
A. We make the Sign of the Cross to show that we are Christians and to
profess our belief in the chief mysteries of our religion.
The cross is the banner or standard of Christianity, just as the stars
and stripes-the flag of the United States-is our civil standard, and shows to
what nation we belong.
A. The Sign of the Cross is a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of
our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Unity and Trinity of God
and of the Incarnation and death of Our Lord.
A. The words: "In the name" express the Unity of God; the words that follow,
"of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" express the mystery of
A. The Sign of the Cross expresses the mystery of the Incarnation by
reminding us that the Son of God, having become man, suffered death on the
Besides these chief mysteries, we will find, if we think a little, that
the Sign of the Cross reminds us of many other things. It reminds us of the
sin of our first parents, which made the Cross necessary; it reminds us of the
hatred God bears to sin, when such sufferings were endured to make satisfaction
for it; it reminds us of Christīs love, etc.
A. Another sacramental in very frequent use is holy water.
A. Holy water is water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer to beg Godīs
blessing on those who use it, and protection from the power of darkness.
The priest prays that those who use this water may not fall into sin;
may be free from the power of the devil and from bodily diseases, etc.
Therefore when they do use the water they get the benefit of all these prayers,
because the priest says: "If they use it, God grant them all these things."
A. Besides the Sign of the Cross and holy water there are many other
sacramentals, such as blessed candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, images of the
Blessed Virgin and of the saints, rosaries, and scapulars.
"Candles," blessed on the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed
Virgin (see Butlerīs Lives of the Saints, Feb. 2, Feast of the Purification).
The Church blesses whatever it uses. Some say beautifully that the wax of the
candle gathered by the bees from sweet flowers reminds us of Our Lordīs pure,
human body, and that the flame reminds us of His divinity. Again, candles
about the altar remind us of the angels, those bright spirits ever about Godīs
throne; they remind us, too, of the persecution of the Christians in the first
ages of the Church, when they had to hear Mass and receive the Sacraments in
dark places, where lights were necessary that priests and people might see.
Again, lights are a beautiful ornament for the altar, and in keeping with holy
things. Lights are a sign of joy: hence the very old custom of lighting
bonfires to express joy. So we have lights to express our joy at the
celebration of the Holy Mass. Again, if we wish to honor any great person in
the Church or State. we illuminate the city for his reception. So, too, we
illuminate our altars and churches for the reception of Our Lord, that we may
honor Him when He comes in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and is present at
"Ashes" are placed on our heads by the priest on Ash Wednesday, while he
says: "Remember, man, thou art but dust and unto dust thou shalt return." They
are a sign of penance, and so we use them at the beginning of Lent.
"Palms, to remind us of Our Lordīs coming in triumph into Jerusalem,
when the people out of respect for Him threw palms, and even their garments,
beneath His feet on the way, singing His praises and wishing to make Him king.
Yet these same people only one week later were among those who crucified Him.
Do we not also at times honor Our Lord, call Him our king, and shortly
afterwards insult and, as far as we can, injure Him by sin? Do we not say in
the Our Father, "Hallowed, or praised, be His name," and blaspheme it ourselves?
"Crucifix," if it has an image of Our Lord upon it; if not it is simply
a cross, because crucifix means fixed to the cross.
"Images"--that is, statues, pictures, etc.
"Rosaries," called also the beads. The rosary or beads is a very old
and very beautiful form of prayer. In the beginning pious people, we are told,
used to say a certain number of prayers, and keep count of them on a string
with knots or beads. However that may be, the Rosary, as we now have it, comes
down to us from St. Dominic. He instructed the people by it, and converted
many heretics. In the rosary beads here are fifty-three small beads on which
we say the "Hail Mary" and six large beads on which we say the "Our Father." In
saying the Rosary, before saying the "Our Father" on the large beads, we think
or meditate for a while on some event in the life of Our Lord, and these events
we call Mysteries of the Rosary. There are fifteen of these events taken in
the order in which they occurred in the life of Our Lord; and hence there are
fifteen Mysteries in the whole Rosary. First we have the five Joyful
Next in order in the life of Our Lord come the five events called the
Sorrowful Mysteries, namely:
After the Sorrowful Mysteries come the five Glorious Mysteries, and they
All but the last have been explained in foregoing parts of the Catechism. In
this last Mystery we consider our Blessed Lady just after her entrance into
Heaven, being received by her Divine Son, our Blessed Lord, and being crowned
Queen of Heaven over all the angels and saints. In saying the Rosary we are,
as I have told you before, to stop after mentioning the Mystery and think over
the lesson it teaches, and thus excite ourselves to love and devotion before
saying the "Our Father" and "Hail Marys" in honor of it. Generally what we
call the beads is only one third of the Rosary; that is, we can only say five
mysteries on the beads unless we go over them three times. If you say your
beads every day you will say the whole Rosary twice a week and have one day to
On Sundays, except the Sundays of Advent and Lent, we should say always the
Glorious Mysteries. You see, the Mysteries run in the order in which they
happen in Our Lordīs life.
So on Monday we say the Joyful Mysteries, on Tuesday the Sorrowful, and on
Wednesday the Glorious. Then we begin again on Thursday the Joyful, on Friday
the Sorrowful, on Saturday the Glorious. In Advent we say the Joyful, and in
Lent the Sorrowful Mysteries on every day. In Eastertime we always say the
I have told you what the letters I. N. R. I. mean; now let me tell you what I.
H. S. with a cross over them mean. You often see these letters on altars and
on holy things. They are simply an abbreviation for Our Lordīs name, "Jesus,"
as it was first written in Greek letters. Some also take these letters for the
first letters of the Latin words that mean: Jesus, Saviour of men. And as the
cross is placed over these letters it can signify that He saved them by His
death on the Cross.
"Scapulars." The scapular is a large broad piece of cloth worn by the
monks and priests of some of the religious orders. It extends from the toes in
front to the heels behind, and is wide enough to cover the shoulders. It is
worn over the cassock or habit. It is called scapular because it rests on the
shoulders. The scapular as we wear it is two small pieces of cloth fastened
together by two pieces of braid or cord resting on the shoulders. It is made
thus in imitation of the large scapular, and is to be worn under our ordinary
garments. The brown scapular is called the Scapular of Mount Carmel. It was
given, we are told on good authority, to blessed Simon Stock by the Blessed
Virgin herself, with wonderful promises in favor of those who wear it. The
Church grants many privileges and indulgences to those who wear the scapular.
We wear the scapular to indicate that we place ourselves under the special
protection of the Blessed Virgin. We can tell to what army or nation a soldier
belongs by the uniform he wears; so we can consider the scapular as the
particular uniform of those who desire to serve the Blessed Virgin in some
special manner. This wearing of the brown scapular is therefore a mark of
special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As it was first introduced among
people by the Carmelite Fathers, or priests of the Order of Mount Carmel, this
Scapular is called the Scapular of Mount Carmel. We have also a red scapular
in honor of Our Lordīs Passion; a white one in honor of the Holy Trinity; a
blue one in honor of the Immaculate Conception; and a black one in honor of the
seven dolors of sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. When all these are joined
together (not in one piece, but at the top only) and worn as one, they are
called the five scapulars.
The seven dolors are seven chief occasions of sorrow in the life of our Blessed
Lady. They are:
There are beads called seven dolor beads constructed with seven medals bearing
representations of these sorrows, and seven beads between each medal and the
next. At the medals we meditate on the dolor, and then in its honor say "Hail
Marys" on the beads.
A. There is another means of obtaining Godīs grace, and it is prayer.
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God to adore Him, to
thank Him for His benefits, to ask His forgiveness, and to beg of Him all the
graces we need whether for soul or body.
"Hearts," because the mere lifting up of the mind would not be prayer.
One who blasphemes Him might also lift up his mind. We lift up the mind to
know God and the heart to love Him, and in so doing we serve Him -- the three
things for which we were created. If we do not think of God we do not pray. A
parrot might be taught to say the "Our Father," but it could never pray,
because it has no mind to lift up. A phonograph can be made to say the
prayers, but not to pray, for it has neither mind nor heart. So praying does
not depend upon the words we say, but upon the way in which we say them.
Indeed the best prayer, called meditation, is made when we do not speak at all,
but simply think of God; of His goodness to us; of our sins against Him; of
Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, death, judgment, of the end for which we were created,
etc. This is the kind of prayer that priests and religious use most
frequently. As you might like to meditate -- for all who know how may meditate
-- let me explain to you the method. First you try to remember that you are in
the presence of God. Then you take some subject, say the Crucifixion, to think
about. You try to make a picture of the scene in your own mind. You see Our
Lord on the Cross; two thieves, one on each side of Him, the one praying to Our
Lord and the other cursing Him. You see the multitude of His enemies mocking
Him. Over at some distance you behold our Blessed Mother standing sorrowful
with St. John and Mary Magdalen. Then you ask yourself -- for you must imagine
yourself there -- to which side would you go. Over to our Blessed Mother to
try and console her, or over to the enemies to help them to mock? Then you
think how sin was the cause of all this suffering, and how often you yourself
have sinned; how you have many a time gone over to the crowd and left the
Blessed Mother. These thoughts will make you sorry for your sins, and you will
form the good resolution never to sin again. You will thank God for these good
thoughts and this resolution, and your meditation is ended. You can spend
fifteen minutes, or longer if you wish, in such a meditation. The Crucifixion
is only one of the many subjects you may select for meditation. You could take
any part of the "Our Father," "Hail Mary," or "Creed," and even the questions
in your Catechism. Mental prayer, therefore, is the best, because in it we
must think; we must pay attention to what we are doing, and lift up our minds
and hearts to God; while in vocal prayer -- that is, the prayer we say aloud --
we may repeat the words from pure habit, without any attention or lifting up of
the mind or heart.
A. Prayer is necessary to salvation, and without it no one having the use of
reason can be saved.
We mean here those who never pray during their whole lives, and not
those who sometimes neglect their prayers through a kind of forgetfulness.
A. We should pray particularly on Sundays and holy days, every morning and
night, in all dangers, temptations, and afflictions.
"Sundays and holy days," because these are special days set apart by the
Church for the worship of God. In the "morning" we ask Godīs grace that
we may not sin during the day. At "night" we thank Him for all the
benefits received during the day, and also that we may be protected while
asleep from every danger and accident. We should never, if possible, go to
sleep in mortal sin; and if we have the misfortune to be in that state, we
should make as perfect an act of contrition as we can, and promise to go to
confession as soon as possible. So many accidents happen that we are never
safe, even in good health; fires, earthquakes, floods, lightning, etc., might
take us off at any moment. If you saw a man hanging by a very slender thread
over a great precipice where he would surely be dashed to pieces if the thread
broke, and if you saw him thus risking his life willfully and without
necessity, you would pronounce him the greatest fool in the world. One who
commits sin is a greater fool. He suspends himself, as I have told you once
before, over an abyss of eternal torments on the slender thread of his own
life, that may break at any moment. Do we tempt God and do to Him what we dare
not to do to our fellowman because He is so merciful? Let us be careful. He
is as just as He is merciful, and some sin will be our last, and then He will
cut the thread of life and allow us to fall into an eternity of sufferings.
"Dangers," whether of soul or body. "Afflictions," sufferings or
misfortunes of any kind; such as loss of health, death in the family, etc.
A. We should pray:
"Attention," thinking of what we are going to do. Before praying we
should think for a moment what prayer is. In it we are about to address
Almighty God, our Creator, and we are going to ask Him for something -- and
what is the particular thing we need and seek for? No one would think of going
to a store without first considering what he wanted to buy. He would make,
too, all the necessary preparations for getting it. He would find out how much
he wanted, and what it would cost, and bring with him sufficient money. He
would never think of going in and telling the storekeeper to give him anything.
Now it is the same in prayer. When we have thought of what we want of God,
from whom we can obtain it, and of the reasons why we need it and why God might
be pleased to grant it, we can then kneel down and pray for it. We should pray
to God just as a child begs favors from its parents. We should talk to Him in
our own simple words, and tell Him the reasons why we ask and why we think He
should grant our request. We should, however, be humble and patient in all our
prayers. God does not owe us anything, and whatever He gives is a free gift.
We should not always read prayers at Almighty God. If you wanted anything very
badly from a friend, you would know how to ask for it. You would never ask
another to write out your request on paper, and then go and read it to your
friend. Now, that is just what we do when we read the prayers that somebody
else has written in a prayerbook. Try, therefore, to pray with your own
prayers. Of course when the Church gives you certain prayers to say -- as it
does to its priests in the divine office -- or recommends to you such prayers
as the "Our Father," "Hail Mary," and "Creed," you should say them in
preference to your own, because then the Church adds its petition to yours, and
God is more likely to grant such prayers. I mean, therefore, that we should
not always pray from prayerbooks, and hurry through the "Our Father" that we
may give more time to some printed prayer that pleases us. Our prayer should
be a conversation with God. We should, after speaking to Him, listen to what
He has to say to us, by our conscience, good thoughts, etc.
I must warn you against some prayers that have been circulated by impostors for
the purpose of making money. They pretend that these prayers were found in
some remarkable place or manner; that those who carry them or say them will
have most wonderful advantages -- they will never meet with accident; they will
be warned of their death; they will go directly to Heaven after death, etc. If
there were any such wonderful prayers the Church would surely know of them and
commend them to its children. When you find any prayers of the kind I mention,
bring them to the priest and ask his opinion before you use them yourself or
give them to others. Never buy prayers or articles said to be blessed from
persons unknown to you. Persons selling such things are frequently impostors,
who by suave manners and pious speeches unfortunately find Catholics who
believe them. These persons -- sometimes not Catholics themselves, or at least
very bad ones -- laugh at the superstition and foolish practices of Catholics
who believe everything they hear about pious books, prayers, or articles.
In the early ages of the Church, when the enemies of Christ found that they
could not refute His teaching, they began to circulate foolish doctrines,
pretending that they were taught by Christ, and thus they hoped to bring
ridicule upon Christianity. So also in our time many things are circulated as
the teaching of the Catholic Church by the enemies of the Church, in hopes that
by these falsehoods and foolish doctrines they may bring disgrace and ridicule
upon the true religion. Be on your guard against all impostors, remembering it
is a safe rule never to buy a religious article from or give money to persons
going about from door to door. If you have anything to give in alms, give it
to some charitable institution or society connected with the Church, or put it
in the poor-box, and then you will be sure it will do the good you intend.
Remember, too, that all the religious articles carried about for sale do not
come from Rome or the Holy Land, and you are deceived if you think so,
notwithstanding the assurance of their owners.
"A trust" -- with full confidence that God will grant our petitions if
we really need or deserve what we pray for. It is a fault with a great many to
pray without the belief that their prayers will be answered. We should pray
with such faith and confidence that we would really be disappointed if our
prayer was not granted. Once when Our Lord was going about doing good, a poor
woman who had been suffering for twelve years with a disease, and who, wishing
to be healed, had uselessly spent all her money in seeking medical aid, came to
follow Him. (Mark 5:25). She did not ask Him to cure her, but said
within herself, "If I can but touch the hem of His garment I know I shall be
healed" So she made her way through the throng and followed Our Lord till she
could touch His garment without being seen. She succeeded in accomplishing her
wishes, touched His garment, and was instantly cured. Our Lord knew her
desires and what she had done, and turning around told the people, praising her
great faith and confidence, on account of which He had healed her. Such also
should be our confidence and trust when we pray to God for our needs.
"Perseverance." We should continue to pray though God does not grant
our request. Have you ever noticed a little child begging favors from its
mother? See its persistence! Though often refused, it will return again and
again with the same request, till the mother, weary of its importunity, finally
grants what it asks.
St. Monica prayed seventeen years for the conversion of her son St. Augustine.
St. Augustineīs father was a pagan, and Monica, his wife, prayed seventeen
years for his conversion, and he became a Christian. Just about that time her
son Augustine, who was attending school, fell in with bad companions and became
a great sinner. She prayed seventeen years more for him, and he reformed,
became a great saint and learned bishop in the Church. See, then, the result
of thirty-four yearsī prayer: Monica herself became a saint, her son became a
saint, and her husband died a Christian. If St. Monica had ceased praying
after ten years, Augustine might not have reformed. We never know when God is
about to grant our petition, and we may cease to pray just when another appeal
would obtain the object of our prayer. So we should continue to pray till God
is pleased to grant our request. Some say their prayers are not heard when
they mean to say their prayers are not granted; for God always hears us. But
why does He not always grant our request? There are many reasons:
A. The prayers most recommended to us are the Lordīs Prayer, the Hail Mary,
the Apostlesī Creed, the Confiteor, and the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and
A. Prayers said with willful distractions are of no avail.
"Distraction"--that is, when we willingly and knowingly think of
something else while saying our prayers. It would be better not to pray than
to pray with disrespect. If there is any time at which we cannot pray well, we
should postpone our prayer: for God does not require us to say our prayers just
at a particular time; but when we do pray, He requires us to pray with
reverence and respect. We would pray well always if we reflected on the great
privilege we enjoy in being allowed to pray.
A. It is not enough to belong to the Church in order to be saved, but
we must also keep the Commandments of God and of the Church.
We call some commandments the Commandments of God and others the
commandments of the Church. We do so only to distinguish the Commandments that
God gave to Moses from those that the Church made afterwards. They are all the
commandments of God, for whatever laws or commandments the Church makes, it
makes them under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and by Godīs authority. It
would be a mortal sin to break the commandments of the Church, just as it would
be to break the Commandments of God. You must remember that the Ten
Commandments always existed from the time of Adam, but they were not written
till God gave them to Moses. You know that it was always a sin to worship
false gods, to blaspheme, to disobey parents, to kill, etc.; for you know Cain
was punished by God for the murder of his brother Abel (Gen. 5), and
that took place while Adam was still alive.
Before the coming of Our Lord the Israelites, or Godīs chosen people, had three
kinds of laws. They had the civil laws for the government of their nation-just
as we have our laws for the people of the United States. They had their
ceremonial laws for their services in the temple-as we have our ceremonies for
the Church. They had their moral laws such as the Commandments-teaching them
what they must do to save their souls. Their civil laws were done away with
when they ceased to be a nation having a government of their own. Their
ceremonial laws were done away with when Our Lord came and established His
Church; because their ceremonies were only the figures of ours. Their moral
laws remained, and Our Lord explained them and made them more perfect.
Therefore we keep the Commandments and moral laws as they were always kept by
man. Fifty days after the Israelites left Egypt they came to the foot of Mount
Sinai. (Ex. 19). Here God commanded Moses to come up into the mountain, and in
the midst of fire and smoke, thunder and lightning, God spoke to him and
delivered into his hands the Ten Commandments written on two tablets of stone.
Every day while the Israelites were traveling in the desert God sent them
manna-a miraculous food that fell every morning. It was white, and looked
something like fine rice. It had any taste they wished it to have. For
instance, if they wished it to taste like fruit, it did taste so to them; but
its usual taste was like that of flour and honey. (Ex. 16).
I said there is no difference between the Ten Commandments of God and the six
commandments of the Church-, and there is no difference as far as the sin of
violating them is concerned. But they differ in this: the Church can change
the commandments it made itself, while it cannot change those that God Himself
A. The Commandments which contain the whole law of God are these two: first,
thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul,
with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; second, thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself.
"As thyself"--that is, as explained elsewhere, with the same kind,
though not necessarily with the same degree, of love. First we must love
ourselves and do what is essential for our own salvation, because without our
cooperation others cannot save us, though they may help us by their prayers and
good works. Next to ourselves nature demands that we love those who are
related to us in the order of parents, children, husbands, wives, brothers,
etc., and help them in proportion to their needs, and before helping strangers
who are in no greater distress.
A. These two Commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the
whole law of God because all the other Commandments are given either to help us
to keep these two, or to direct us how to shun what is opposed to them.
Of the Ten Commandments the first three refer to Almighty God and the
other seven to our neighbor. Thus all the Commandments may be reduced to the
two of the love of God and of the love of our neighbor. The First Commandment
says you shall worship only the true God; the Second says you shall respect His
holy name; and the Third says you shall worship Him on a certain day. All
these are contained therefore in this: Love God all you possibly can, for if
you do you will keep the first three of the Commandments. The Fourth says:
Honor your father-who in the sense of the Commandment can also be called your
neighbor-that is, respect him, help him in his needs. The Fifth says do not
kill him; namely, your neighbor. The others say do not rob him of his goods;
do not tell lies about him; do not wish unjustly to possess his goods and do
not covet his wife. Thus it is clear that the last seven are all contained in
this: Love your neighbor, for if you do you will keep the last seven
Commandments that refer to him.
A. The Commandments of God are these ten:
A. God Himself gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, and Christ
Our Lord confirmed them.
A. The First Commandment is: "I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt not have
strange gods before Me:ī
"Strange gods." The Israelites were surrounded on all sides by pagan
nations who worshipped idols and false gods, and sometimes by mingling with
these people they fell into sin, and, forgetting the true God, worshipped their
idols. Sometimes, too, they were at war with these pagan nations, and when
defeated were led captive into pagan countries and there fell into the sin of
worshipping false gods. It was against this sin that God cautioned His people
in the First Commandment. From this sin of idolatry among the Israelites we
have an example of the evil results of associating with persons not of the true
religion. One would think that the Israelites, knowing the true God, might
have converted their pagan neighbors to the true religion by the influence of
their teaching and example; but, on the contrary, they lost the true faith
themselves, as nearly always happens in such cases. How do we sometimes
worship false or strange gods? By making dress, money, honor, society,
company, or pleasure our god--that is, by giving up the worship of God and
sinning for their sake, and thus making them god, at least for the time being,
by giving them our heart, mind, and service.
A. The First Commandment helps us to keep the great Commandment of the love
of God because it commands us to adore God alone.
A. We adore God by faith, hope, and charity, by prayer and sacrifice.
A. The First Commandment may be broken by giving to a creature the honor
which belongs to God alone; by false worship; and by attributing to a creature
a perfection which belongs to God alone.
"Creature" -- that is, anything created; anything but God Himself, for
all other persons and things have been created. If one knelt before a king and
adored him, he would be giving to a creature the honor due to God alone.
"False worship"--that is, worshipping God not as He directs us by His
Church, but in some ways pleasing to ourselves. For example, to sacrifice
animals to God would now be false worship; to offer now any of the sacrifices
commanded in the Old Law would be false worship, because all these were figures
of the real sacrifice of the Cross and Mass, and were to put the people in mind
that one day Christ the promised Redeemer would offer up the one great
sacrifice of His own body and blood to blot out all the sins of the world. And
now that we have the real sacrifice it would be sinful to use only figures, and
it would be a false worship displeasing to God. So, too, all those who leave
the true Church to practice a religion of their own have a false worship, for
they worship God not as He wishes, but as they wish.
Heaven is a reward, and when we see how the saints labored to secure it we must
be ashamed of the little we do for God. Take out of a whole year--that is, 365
days or 8,760 hours-the time you give to the service of God, and you will find
it very little. Even the time you spent at Mass and prayers was filled with
distraction and little of it entirely given to God. Since this is true for one
year, what will it be for all the years of your life? Think of them all and
you will perceive that God, who gave you all the time you had, and who on the
last day will demand an exact account of it, will find very little of it spent
in His honor or in His service. Even the time wasted in school and
instructions will all stand against you. Time lost is lost forever, and you
can never make it up. Next to grace, time is the most valuable thing God gives
us, and we should use it well. "Attributing to a creature a perfection"
etc. Persons who go to fortune tellers do this. Fortune tellers are
persons who pretend to know what is going to happen in the future. We know
from our religion that only God Himself knows the future. Neither the angels
nor saints, nor even the Blessed Virgin, know the future. Even they could not
tell your fortune unless God revealed it to them. So when you go to a fortune
teller you place the poor sinful person who is doing the devilīs work above the
Blessed Virgin and all the saints and angels, and make that wretch equal to God
Himself. Surely this is a sin, even if you do not believe these so--called
fortune tellers, but go to them merely through curiosity or with others.
Again, we pay these persons for telling us some foolish nonsense, and thus
encourage them to continue their sinful business. They doubtless laugh at the
foolishness of those who go to them or believe what they say and pay them
generously. You might with as much sense stop a man on the street, ask him to
tell your fortune, and hand him your money, for he would know as much about it
as so--called fortune tellers do. Rarely these sinful people might tell you
something that has happened in your life; but if they do, they merely guess at
it or are aided by the devil. The devil did not lose his intelligence when
driven out of Heaven, and he uses it now for doing evil. He has vast
experience, for he is as old as Adam, or older, and has seen and known all the
men that have lived in the world. He can move rapidly through the world and
easily know what is visibly taking place, so that, strictly speaking, he could
make known to his sinful agents what is present or past, but never the future.
Thus some fortune tellers, clairvoyants, mindreaders, mediums, or whatever else
they call themselves, who are truly in league with the devil, may by his power
tell you the past of your life to make you believe that they know also the
future. The past and present in your life you already know, and the future
they cannot tell; therefore it is useless as well as sinful to go to them. I
say only it is possible for some fortune tellers to employ the assistance of
the devil, for all of them, with very rare exception, are clever impostors who
take your money for guessing at what they suspect you will be most pleased to
A. Those who make use of spells and charms, or who believe in dreams, in
mediums, spiritists, fortune tellers, and the like, sin against the First
Commandment, because they attribute to creatures perfections which belong to
"Spells" are certain words, the saying of which persons believe will
effect for them something wonderful--a miraculous cure, for instance, or
protection from some evil. "Charms" are articles worn about the body
for the same purpose. They may be little black beans, little stones of a
certain shape, the teeth of animals, etc. In uncivilized countries the
inhabitants use many of these charms. But you may ask, Are not these medals,
scapulars, etc., that we wear, also charms? No. These things are blessed and
worn in honor of God, of His Blessed Mother, or of the saints. We do not
expect any help from the little piece of brass or cloth we wear, but from those
in whose honor we wear it, and from the prayers said in the blessing for those
who wear it. But they who wear charms expect the help from the thing itself,
which makes their conduct foolish and sinful, since God alone can protect from
evil. Again, such things as medals, crosses, and scapulars are blessed by the
Church and worn by its consent, and it could never allow all its children to do
a sinful thing. It is good and praiseworthy, therefore, to wear the blessed
sacramentals in Godīs honor; but even with these holy things we must be careful
not to go too far. It is true the Blessed Virgin will protect those who wear
her scapular; but it would be sinful willfully to expose ourselves to danger
without any necessity, because we wear a scapular. Thus it would be suicide
for a boy who could not swim to plunge into deep water because, having his
scapulars on, the Blessed Virgin ought to save him by a miracle. Again, it is
wrong to look for miracles from God when natural help will answer. Thus it
would be wrong for a man who broke his leg to refuse to have the doctors set
it, because he wanted God alone to heal it. "Dreams" are caused by the
mind being at work while the body is sleeping or at rest. The mind never
sleeps; it is always awake and working. Thus when we are asleep the
imagination, without the reason to guide it, mixes together a number of things
we have seen, heard, or thought of, and gives us strange scenes and pictures.
Sometimes what we dream of seems to happen; but that is only because we dream
so much that it would be strange if none of the things ever happened. We will
generally dream about whatever was on our mind shortly before. We read in the
Holy Scriptures that God at times made known His will to certain persons by
dreams; as when the king of Egypt dreamt of the great famine that was to come;
or when the angel appeared in sleep to St. Joseph, telling him to take Our Lord
into Egypt, where Herod the king could not kill him. (Matt. 2).
The dreams mentioned in the Holy Scripture were more frequently visions than
dreams. In a vision the things we see are really present, whereas in dreams
they are not, but we imagine they are. God no longer makes use of dreams as a
means of communicating with His creatures, because His Church will make known
to us His will. He sometimes, however, makes known certain things to His holy
servants on earth in a very special and private manner: as, for example, when
Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary and told her He would like to have the
devotion to the Sacred Heart established. We must always believe what the
Church tells us God has made known to it; but when holy people tell us that God
revealed special things to them, we are not obliged to believe what they say,
unless the Church confirms it. I say we are not obliged--that is, we may if we
please; but we would not be heretics and commit sin if we did not believe all
the revelations and wonderful things we find recorded in the lives of saints,
though they may all be true.
"Mediums and spiritists" are persons who pretend they can talk with the
dead in the other world, and learn where they are and what they are doing.
They have figures to move and apparently speak, and other contrivances to
deceive those who confide in them. Their work is all deception and very
sinful. If any of these things could be done, or if God wished them to be
known, He would give the power to the Church founded by His divine Son, and not
to a few sinful men or women here and there. After a soul leaves the body its
fate is hidden from us, and we can say nothing with absolute certainty of its
reward or punishment. No one ever came back from the other world to give a
minute account of its general appearance or of what takes place there. All
that is known about it the Church knows and tells us, and all over and above
that is false or doubtful. By thinking a little you can see how all these
dealings with fortune tellers, etc., are giving to creatures what belongs to
A. Sins against faith, hope, and charity are also sins against the First
A. A person sins against faith, first, by not trying to know what God has
taught; second, by refusing to believe all that God has taught; third, by
neglecting to profess his belief in what God has taught.
"Not trying to know." Thus children who idle their time at Sunday
school or religious instruction, and do not learn their Catechism, sin against
faith in the first way. In like manner grown persons who do not sometime or
other endeavor to hear sermons or instructions, to attend missions or learn
from good books, sin against faith. "Refusing to believe," as all those
do who leave the true religion, or who, knowing it, do not embrace it.
"Neglecting to profess." We may do this by not living up to the
practice of our holy religion. We believe, for example, we should hear Mass
every Sunday and holy day; we should receive the Sacraments at certain times in
the year; but if we only believe these things and do not do them, we neglect to
profess our faith, neglect to show others that we really believe all the Church
teaches, and are anxious to practice it. Many know and believe what they
should do, but never practice it. Such persons do great injury to the Church,
for persons who do not live up to their holy religion but act contrary to its
teaching give scandal to their neighbor. How many persons at present not
Catholics would be induced to enter the true Church if they saw all Catholics
virtuous, truthful, sober, honest, upright, and industrious! But when they see
Catholics--be they ever so few--cursing, quarrelling, backbiting, drinking,
lying, stealing, cheating, etc.--in a word, indulging in the same vices as
those who claim to have no religion, what must they think of the moral
influence of Catholic faith? Thus they do great injustice to the Church and
the cause of religion, and are working against our Blessed Lord when they
should be working for Him.
The Christian religion spread very rapidly through the world in the first ages
of its existence; and one of the chief reasons was the good example given by
the Christians; for pagans seeing the holy lives, the kindness and charity of
their Christian neighbors, could not help admiring and loving them, and wishing
to be members of the Church that made them so good and amiable. How many
pagans do you think would be converted nowadays by the lives of some who call
themselves Catholics? Not many, I think. Besides this, the early Christians
really labored to instruct others in the Christian religion, and to make them
converts. Often we find servants--even slaves--by their instructions
converting their pagan masters and mistresses. They all felt that they were
missionaries working for Jesus Christ, and their influence reached where the
priestīs influence could not reach, because they came in contact with persons
the priests never had an opportunity of seeing. If all Catholics had the same
spirit, what good they could do! Their business or duty may often bring them
into daily intercourse with persons not of their faith, and who never knew or
perhaps heard any of the beautiful truths of our holy religion. Yes, Catholics
could do much good if they had only the good will and knew their religion well.
I do not mean that they should be always discussing religion with everyone they
meet. Let them preach chiefly by the example of their own good lives, and when
questioned explain modestly and sincerely the truths they believe.
If you should be asked, for instance: Why do you not eat flesh-meat on Friday?
you should be able to answer: "Because I am a Christian and wish to keep always
before my mind how our Blessed Lord suffered for me in His holy flesh on that
day; and anyone who claims to be a Christian, ought, I think, to be glad to do
what reminds him so regularly and well of Our Lordīs Passion." Such an answer
if given kindly and mildly would silence and instruct your adversary; it might
make him reflect, and might, in time, bring him to the true religion.
Sometimes a few words make a great impression and bring about conversion. St.
Francis Xavier was a worldly young man, learned and ambitious, and he heard
from St. Ignatius these words of Our Lord: "What doth it profit a man if he
gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" He went home and
kept thinking of them till they impressed him so strongly that he gave up the
world, became a priest and by his labors and preaching in India, converted to
the true religion many thousand pagans. In the lives of the saints there are
many examples of a few words, by Godīs grace, bringing men from a life of sin
to a life of great holiness.
A. We fail to try to know what God has taught by neglecting to learn
the Christian doctrine.
A. They who do not believe all that God has taught are the heretics and
There are many kinds of unbelievers: atheists, deists, infidels,
heretics, apostates, and schismatics. An atheist is one who denies the
existence of God, saying there is no God. A deist is one who says he
believes God exists, but denies that God ever revealed any religion. These are
also called freethinkers. An infidel properly means one who has never
been baptized--one who is not of the number of the faithful; that is, those
believing in Christ. Sometimes atheists are called infidels. Heretics
are those who were baptized and who claim to be Christians, but do not
believe all the truths that Our Lord has taught. They accept only a portion of
the doctrine of Christ and reject the remainder, and hence they become
rebellious children of the Church. They belong to the true Church by being
baptized, but do not submit to its teaching and are therefore outcast children,
disinherited till they return to the true faith. A schismatic is one
who believes everything the Church teaches, but will not submit to the
authority of its head--the Holy Father. Such persons do not long remain only
schismatics; for once they rise up against the authority of the Church, they
soon reject some of its doctrines and thus become heretics; and indeed, since
Vatican Council I, all schismatics are heretics.
A. They who neglect to profess their belief in what God has taught are all
those who fail to acknowledge the true Church in which they really believe.
There are some outside the Church who feel and believe that the Catholic
Church is the true Church, and yet they do not become Catholics, because there
are so many difficulties in the way. For example, they have been brought up in
another religion, and all their friends, relatives, or associates are opposed
to the Catholic religion. Their business, their social life, their worldly
interests will all suffer if they become Catholics. So, although they feel
they should at once embrace the true religion, they keep putting off till death
comes and finds them outside the Church--and most probably guilty of other
mortal sins. Such persons cannot be saved, for they reject all the graces God
bestows upon them. A very common fault with such people is to excuse this
conduct by saying: Oh! I was brought up in the Protestant religion, and
everyone ought to live in the religion in which he was brought up. Let me ask:
If persons were brought up with some bodily deformity that their parents
neglected to have remedied while they were young, would they not use every
means themselves to have the deformity removed as soon as they became old
enough to see and understand their misfortune? In like manner, if
unfortunately parents bring up their children in a false religion--that is,
with spiritual deformities, it is the duty of the children to embrace the true
religion as soon as they know it. Again persons will say: Oh, I believe one
religion as good as another; we are all Christians, and all trying to serve
God. If one religion is as good as another, why did not Our Lord allow the old
religions--false or true--to remain? If one man says a thing is black and
another says it is white, they cannot both be right, for a thing cannot be
black and white at the same time. Only one can be right; and, if we are
anxious about the color of the object, we must try to find which one is right.
Just in the same way all the religions that claim to be Christian contradict
one another; one says a thing is false and another says it is true: one says
Our Lord taught so and so and another says He did not. Now since it is very
important for us to know which is right, we must find out which is really the
Church Our Lord established; and when we have found it we will know that all
the other pretended Christian religions must be false. Our Lord has given us
marks by which we can know His Church, as we saw while speaking of the marks of
the Church; and the Roman Catholic Church is the only Church that has all these
marks. We say that we are Roman Catholics to show that we are in communion
with the Church of Rome, established by St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles.
325. Q. Can they who fail to profess their faith in the true Church
in which they believe expect to be saved while in that state?
A. They who fail to profess their faith in the true Church in which they
believe cannot expect to be saved while in that state, for Christ has said:
"Whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is
A. We are obliged to make open profession of our faith as often as Godīs
honor, our neighborīs spiritual good, or our own requires it. "Whosoever,"
says Christ, "shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My
Father who is in Heaven."
It is not necessary for us to proclaim in the streets that we are
Catholics; neither need we tell our religion to impudent people that may ask us
only to insult us; but when a real need of professing our faith presents
itself, then we must profess it. Suppose you are stopping in a hotel in which
you are the only Catholic. If flesh-meat is placed before you on a Friday in
Lent you must quietly push it aside and ask for fish or other food; although by
so doing you will show that you are a Catholic and make a silent profession of
your faith. Godīs honor and your own good require it, for you must keep the
laws of God and of His Church on every possible occasion. Suppose again there
were in the same hotel some indifferent Catholics, socially your equals or
inferiors, who through human respect were ashamed to go to Mass on Sunday; then
you should publicly go to Mass and even declare that you must go, for by so
doing you would encourage these indifferent Catholics to follow your example.
In that case your neighborīs good requires that you profess your faith. In a
word, you must keep up the practice of your religion even if by so doing you
have to make an open profession of your faith and suffer for it. But suppose
it is something that God or the Church does not command you to do but only
recommends, such as blessing yourself before meals or some pious practice, you
could in public omit such an action if you pleased without any sin or denial of
faith, because you violate no law.
A. The sins against hope are presumption and despair.
A. Presumption is a rash expectation of salvation without making proper use
of the necessary means to obtain it.
A person who goes on leading a bad life, and says when warned of his
danger that he is in no hurry to reform, that he will repent some day before he
dies, is always living in and committing the sin of presumption. It is a great
sin, for it is living in open defiance of Almighty God. Such persons are very
seldom given the opportunity to repent at the last moment, and are, in most
cases, called to judgment when they least expect it. We are all presumptuous
sometimes. Do we not often, when we have fallen into a certain sin, easily
repeat the act, saying to ourselves, now that we will have to confess the sin
committed, the mention of the number of times will not make such difference for
it will not increase our shame and confusion? This is presumption; for we do
not know whether God will ever give us the opportunity of making a confession.
Again, one mortal sin is sufficient to keep our souls in Hell for all eternity;
what then will be our punishment for many mortal sins? Then there is another
thing you should remember: God has fixed a certain number of sins that He will
suffer you to commit before He sends His punishment. You do not know which sin
will complete the number and be the last. The very sin you are now about to
commit may be that one, and the moment you have committed it, God will call you
to judgment, whether it be night or day, whether you are at home or in the
streets--though perhaps not immediately, but before you commit another sin.
Such a thought alone should keep you from sinning. Moreover, after confession
you strongly resist the first temptation to mortal sin, but after you have
yielded to the first you scarcely make any more resistance, but easily yield
again and again. You should therefore, to prevent this, go to confession just
as soon as you possibly can after falling into mortal sin. It is bad enough to
commit mortal sin, but it is terrible to be living in that state day and
night--always an enemy of God--losing the merit of all the works you do and yet
you must stay in that state of sin till you go to confession and receive
absolution. Peter the Apostle committed the sin of presumption. (Matt.
26). Our Lord told him to watch and pray for he would be tempted and yield
that night, but Peter said: "No Lord, I will never deny Thee." Instead of
begging Our Lordīs help and grace, he trusted to himself and fell miserably
into sin. He went into dangerous company and that was another cause of his
fall. But afterwards he saw his sin and folly and never ceased to repent of it.
A. Despair is the loss of hope in Godīs mercy.
Despair is a sin because by it you deny that God is infinitely
merciful--that He is merciful enough to forgive even your many and great sins
if you are truly sorry for them. Judas committed the sin of despair. After he
had betrayed Our Lord, he went and hanged himself, thus committing, besides the
sin of betraying his divine Master, two other great sins; namely, despair in
Godīs mercy and suicide. If he had gone to Our Lord and confessed his sin, and
implored pardon and promised penance, can we doubt that He would have forgiven
even Judas, as He forgave Peter, and those that crucified Him, praying that His
Father might not punish them for their sins? Therefore, no matter what sins
you have committed, never lose confidence in Godīs mercy. See how Our Lord
pardoned the thief on the cross and Mary Magdalen and other sinners. Be sorry
for your sins, and God will hear your prayers. Call upon the Blessed Virgin,
your patron saint, and guardian angel to help you, and ask others, especially
good persons, to pray for you.
A. We sin against the love of God by all sin, but particularly by mortal
A. The First Commandment does not forbid the honoring of the saints, but
rather approves of it; because by honoring the saints. who are the chosen
friends of God, we honor God Himself.
Think of the many helps God gives us to save our souls: an angel to be
always with us upon earth; a saint always praying for us in Heaven, and besides
these all the graces, the Sacraments, the Masses, the prayers, etc. If then we
lose our soul, surely we cannot say, God did not give us sufficient help.
"Invocation" means calling upon them to help us. Everyone is pleased
when his friends are honored. Who is not glad to hear his parents praised or
see them respected? By praying to the saints, instead of dishonoring God--as
Protestants say we do--we really honor Him more than by praying directly to
Himself We show that we believe in His great dignity, His awful majesty and our
own nothingness. If a poor person wanted to obtain a favor from the President
of the United States, would he go directly to the President himself? No. He
would find someone who had influence with the President, and ask him to obtain
the favor. Why, the very persons that say we should not use the influence of
saints do themselves use the influence of others to obtain favors. They never
go to an enemy of the one from whom they desire the favor, but to some of his
friends, knowing that a person will often grant a favor for a friendīs sake
that he would not grant for the sake of others. Now we do exactly the same
when we pray to the saints. they are the special friends of God. They fasted,
prayed, preached, labored, or suffered death for His honor and glory. He
showed them great favors while they were upon earth. He performed miracles at
their request. Will He deny them now, when they are always present with Him in
Heaven -- where they could not possibly sin? He loves to grant them favors;
and, as they do not need any for themselves, He grants them for others through
their intercession. Again men are honored by the praises of their fellowman.
A great general is honored by having all his countrymen praise him; so, too,
God wants His saints honored, for their great spiritual deeds, by the praise of
the children of the Church. God is not annoyed by being asked for favors.
Nothing can trouble Him, for all is done by an act of His will. He loses
nothing by giving, for He is infinite. By praying to the saints for help we
confess that we are too unworthy to present ourselves to God and address
Him--to come before His awful Majesty, and that we will wait here in the humble
attitude of prayer while you, holy saints, His dearest friends, go into His
presence and ask for us the favors and graces we require.
A. The First Commandment does not forbid us to pray to the saints.
We do not pray to them as to God. We never say to them, "Give us this or
that," but always, "Obtain it for us" In all the litanies you cannot find one
petition where we say, even to the Blessed Virgin: "Have mercy on us," but,
"Pray for us," or, "Intercede for us."
A. By praying to the saints we mean the asking of their help and prayers.
A. We know that the saints hear us, because they are with God, who makes our
prayers known to them.
A. We believe that the saints will help us because both they and we
are members of the same Church, and they love us as their brethren.
A. The saints and we are members of the same Church, because the Church in
Heaven and the Church on earth are one and the same Church, and all its members
are in communion with one another.
A. The communion of the members of the Church is called the communion of
A. The communion of saints means the union which exists between the members
of the Church on earth with one another and with the blessed in Heaven and with
the suffering souls in Purgatory.
A. The following benefits are derived from the communion of saints: the
faithful on earth assist one another by their prayers and good works, and they
are aided by the intercession of the saints in Heaven, while both the saints in
Heaven and the faithful on earth help the souls in Purgatory.
A. The First Commandment does not forbid us to honor relics, because relics
are the bodies of the saints or objects directly connected with them or with
"Relic" means a thing left. Relics are pieces of the body -- bones,
etc. Pieces of saintsī clothing, writing, etc., are also called relics.
Pieces of the True Cross, the nails that pierced Christīs hands, etc., are
relics of Our Lordīs Passion. We have no relic of Our Lordīs Body because He
took it into Heaven with Him when He ascended. All relics of the saints must
be examined at Rome, by those whom the Holy Father has appointed for that work.
They must be marked and accompanied by the testimony of the Cardinals, or
others who examined them, to show that they are true relics. It would be
superstitious to use anything as a relic unless we were sure of its being
A. The First Commandment does forbid the making of images if they are made
to be adored as gods, but it does not forbid the making of them to put us in
mind of Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the saints.
Protestants and others say that Catholics break the First Commandment by
having images in their churches, because the First Commandment says: "Thou
shalt not make graven images or the likeness of anything upon the earth," etc.
Now, if that is exactly what the Commandment means, then they break it also,
because they make the images of generals, statesmen, writers, etc., and place
them in their parks. They also take photographs of their relatives and friends
and hang them on the walls of their homes. They do this, they say, and we
believe them, to show their respect and veneration for the persons represented,
and not to worship their images. Now we do no more. We simply place in our
churches the images of saints to show our respect and veneration for the
persons they represent, and not to worship the images themselves. So if we
break the First Commandment, they who make any picture or statue break it also.
Can our accusers not see that they and every citizen do the very thing for
which they reproach us? On Decoration Day they place flowers around the statue
of Washington and other great men. Does anyone believe that they are trying to
honor the piece of metal or stone, or that the metal or stone statue knows that
it is being honored? Certainly not. They do so to honor Washington or
whomsoever the statue represents; and for the same reason Catholics place
flowers and lights around the statues and images of saints. Every child knows
that the wood in the statue might as well have been a pillar in the Church, and
that its selection for a statue was merely accidental, and hence he knows that
the statue cannot hear or see him, and so he prays not to the statue but to the
person it represents. Again if you can offer a person insult by dishonoring
his image, may we not honor him by treating it with respect? What greater
insult, for instance, could be offered to your deceased father and yourself
than to burn him in effigy, or contemptuously trample his picture under foot in
your presence? Thus they who treat the images of Christ or His saints with
disrespect dishonor Christ and His saints.
Again we may learn our religion by our sight as well as by our hearing, and may
be led by these visible objects to a knowledge of the invisible things they
represent. Let us take an example. A poor ignorant man enters a Catholic
church, and sees hanging there a picture of St. Vincent de Paul. He can learn
the life of the saint from that picture almost as well as if he read it in a
book. He sees the saint dressed in a cassock, and that tells him St. Vincent
was a priest. He sees him surrounded by little ragged children and holding
some of them in his arms; that tells him the saint took care of poor children
and orphans, and founded homes and asylums for them. He sees on the saintīs
table a human skull, and that tells him St. Vincent frequently meditated upon
death and what follows it. He sees beside the skull a little lash or whip, and
that tells him the saint was a man who practiced penance and mortification.
Thus you have another reason why the true Church is very properly called
Catholic; because its teaching suits all classes of persons. The ignorant can
know what it teaches as well as the learned; for if they cannot read they can
listen to its priests, watch its ceremonies, and study its pictures, by all of
which it teaches. The Protestant religion, on the contrary, is not adapted to
the needs of every class, for it teaches that all must find their doctrines in
the Bible, and understand them according to their lights, giving their own
interpretation to the passages of the sacred text; and thus we come to have a
variety of Protestant denominations, all claiming the Bible for their guide,
though following different paths. If every Protestant has the right to take
his own meaning out of the Holy Scripture, what right have Protestant ministers
to preach the meaning they have found, and compel others to accept it? The
Bible alone is not sufficient. It must be explained by the Church that teaches
us also the traditions that have come down to us from the Apostles. If the
Bible alone were the rule of our faith, what would become of all those who
could not read the Bible? What would become of those who lived before the
Apostles wrote the New Testament? for they did not write in the first years of
their ministry, neither did they commit to writing all the truths they taught,
because Our Lord did not command them to write, but to preach; and He Himself
never wrote any of His doctrines. Again Catholics are accused of superstition
for keeping the relics of saints. Yet when General Grant died and was buried
in New York, many citizens of every denomination, anxious to have a relic of
the great man they loved and admired, secured, even at a cost, small pieces of
wood from his house, of cloth from his funeral car, a few leaves or a little
sand from his tomb. Now, if it was not superstition to keep these relics, why
should it be superstition to keep the relics of the saints?
Even God Himself honored the relics of saints, for He has often performed or
granted miracles through their use. We read in the Bible (4 Kings
13:21) -- and it is the word of God -- that once some persons who were
burying a dead man, seeing their enemies coming upon them, hastily cast the
body into a tomb and fled. It was the tomb of the holy prophet Eliseus, and
when the dead body touched the bones of this great servant of God, the dead man
came to life and stood erect. Here is at least one miracle that God performed
through the relics of a saint.
God does not forbid the mere making of images, but only the making of them as
gods. He gave the Commandments to Moses and afterwards told him to make
images; namely, angels of gold for the temple. (Ex. 25:18). Now, God does not
change His mind or contradict Himself as men do. Whatever He does is done
forever. Therefore if He commanded Moses by the First Commandment not to make
any images, He could not tell him later to make some. It is not the mere
making, therefore, that God forbids, but the adoring. What He insists upon is:
"You shall not adore or serve the images you make." This is very clear if we
consider the history of the Israelites, to whom God first gave the law. They
were the only nation in the whole world that knew and worshipped the true God,
and often, as I told you, they fell into idolatry and really worshipped images.
When Moses delayed on the mountain with God, and they thought he was not coming
back, they made a golden calf and adored it as a god. (Ex. 32).
The Israelites fell into idolatry chiefly by associating with persons not of
the true religion. Let us learn from their sins never to run the risk of
weakening or losing our faith by making bosom friends and steady companions of
those not of the true religion or of no religion at all. You are not, however,
to treat any person with contempt or to despise anyone, but to look upon all as
the children of God, and pray for those not of the true religion, that they may
be converted and saved.
A. It is right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ
and His saints, because they are the representations and memorials of them.
A. It is not allowed to pray to the crucifix or images and relics of the
saints, for they have no life, nor power to help us, nor sense to hear us.
A. We pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints
because they enliven our devotion by exciting pious affections and desires, and
by reminding us of Christ and of the saints, that we may imitate their
A. The Second Commandment is: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain.
"In vain" -- that is, without necessity.
A. We are commanded by the Second Commandment to speak with reverence of God
and of the saints, and of all holy things, and to keep our lawful oaths and
A very common sin against this Commandment is to use the words and
sayings of Holy Scripture in a worldly or bad sense. The Church forbids us to
use the words and sayings of Holy Scripture to convey any meaning but the one
God intended them to convey, or at least to use them in any but a sacred sense.
A. An oath is the calling upon God to witness the truth of what we say.
We declare a thing to be so or not, and call God to be our witness that
we are speaking truly. This is one of the most solemn acts that men can
perform in the presence of their fellowman. All the nations of the earth
regard an oath as a most sacred thing, and one who swears falsely is the vilest
of men--a perjurer. God is infinite truth and hates lies. What a frightful
thing then to call Him to sanction a lie!
A. We may take an oath when it is ordered by lawful authority or required
for Godīs honor or for our own or our neighborīs good.
An oath is generally taken in a court of law when the judge wishes to
find out the truth of the case. We may be a witness against one who is guilty,
or in defense of an innocent person, and in such cases a lie would have most
evil consequences. The judge has a right, therefore, to make us take an oath
that we will testify truly. Officers of the law, magistrates, judges, etc.,
take an oath when entering upon their duties that they will perform them
A. To make an oath lawful it is necessary that what we swear be true, and
that there be a sufficient cause for taking an oath.
A. A vow is a deliberate promise made to God to do something that is
pleasing to Him.
"Deliberate" -- that is, with full consent and freedom. If we are
forced to make it, it is not valid. "To God," not to another; though we
may vow to God that we will do something in honor of the Blessed Virgin, or of
the saints, or for another. "Something pleasing," because if we promise
something that is forbidden by God or displeasing to Him, it is not a vow. A
solemn promise, for instance, to kill your neighbor or steal his goods could
not be a vow. You would commit a sin by making such a vow, and another by
keeping it, for if you promise something you cannot do without committing sin
then you must not keep that promise. We have an example in the life of St.
John the Baptist. King Herod was leading a sinful life, and St. John rebuked
him for it. The wife of the kingīs brother -- Herodias was her name -- hated
St. John for this, and she sought to have him killed. Once when the king had a
great feast and all his notables were assembled, this womanīs daughter danced
before them, and the king was so pleased with her that he vowed to give her
whatever she asked. He should have said, if it is something pleasing to God,
but he did not. Her mother made her ask for the head of John the Baptist. The
king was sad, but because he had made the vow or promise he thought he had to
keep it, and ordered St. John to be beheaded and his head brought to her.
(Matt. 14). He was not bound to keep any such vow, and sinned by doing
Again, they also commit sin who become members of such secret societies as the
freemasons or similar organizations, promising to do whatever they are ordered
without knowing what may be ordered; for they sin not only by obeying sinful
commands, but by the very fact of being in a society in which they are exposed
to the danger of being forced to sin. Such secret societies are forbidden by
the Church because they strive to undermine its authority, and make their rules
superior to its teaching. They also influence those in authority to persecute
the Church and its ministers, and do not hesitate to recommend even
assassination at times for the accomplishment of their ends. Therefore the
Church forbids Catholics to join societies of which
The Church does not oppose associations founded on law and justice; but on the
contrary, has always encouraged and still encourages every organization that
tends to benefit its members spiritually and temporally, and opposes only
societies that have not a legitimate end. Therefore you may understand that
labor unions and benefit societies in which persons are leagued together for
their own protection or the protection of their interests are not secret
societies, though they may conduct their meetings in secret.
A. Not to fulfill our vows is a sin, mortal or venial according to the
nature of the vow and the intention we had in making it.
"Vows" -- that is, lawful vows. When a man who is in the habit of
getting intoxicated vows not to take liquor for a certain time, he generally
intends to bind himself only under venial sin; that is, if he breaks that
pledge or promise it will be a venial and not a mortal sin; but he can make it
a mortal sin by intending, when he takes the pledge, that if he breaks it he
will be guilty of mortal sin.
A. The Second Commandment forbids all false, rash, unjust, and unnecessary
oaths, blasphemy, cursing, and profane words.
"Rash" -- swearing a thing is true or false without knowing for certain
whether it is or not. "Blasphemy" is not the same as cursing or taking
Godīs name in vain. It is worse. It is to say or do something very
disrespectful to God. To say that He is unjust, cruel or the like, is to
blaspheme. We can blaspheme also by actions. To defy God by a sign or action,
to dare Him to strike us dead, etc., would be blasphemy. We have a terrible
example of blasphemy related in the life of Julian the Apostate. An apostate
is one who renounces and gives up his religion, not one who merely neglects it.
Julian was a Roman emperor and had been a Catholic, but apostatized. Then in
his great hatred for Our Lord he wished to falsify His prophecies and prove
them untrue. Our Lord had said that of the temple of Jerusalem there would not
be left a stone upon a stone. To make this false Julian began to rebuild the
temple. In making the preparation he cleared away the ruins of the old
building, not leaving a single stone upon a stone, and thus was instrumental
himself in verifying the words of Our Lord; for while the ruins remained there
were stones upon stones. He wished to defy God, but when he began to build,
fire came forth from the earth and drove back the workmen, and a strong wind
scattered the materials. Afterwards Julian was wounded in battle, an arrow
having pierced his breast. He drew it out, and throwing a handful of his blood
toward heaven, said: "Thou hast conquered, 0 Galilean," meaning Our Lord. This
was a horrible blasphemy--throwing his blood in defiance, and calling the Son
of God a name which he thought would be insulting (see Fredetīs Modern History,
Life of Julian). Therefore we can blaspheme by actions or words, doing or
saying things intended to insult Almighty God. "Profane words" -- that
is, bad, but especially irreverent and irreligious words.
A. The Third Commandment is: Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
A. By the Third Commandment we are commanded to keep holy the Lordīs Day and
the holy days of obligation, on which we are to give our time to the service
and worship of God.
"Holy days" we are bound to keep holy just in the same manner we do
Sundays -- that is, by hearing Mass and refraining from servile works. Those
who after hearing Mass must attend to business or work on those days should
make this known to their confessor, that he may judge if they have a sufficient
excuse for engaging in servile works, and thus they will avoid the danger of
sinfully violating an important law. There must always be a good reason for
working on a holy day. Those who are so situated that they can readily refrain
from servile work on holy days must do so. And, where it is possible, the same
opportunity must be afforded to their servants.
"Of obligation," because there are some holy days not of obligation. We
celebrate them, but we are not bound under pain of mortal sin to hear Mass or
keep from servile works on such days. For example, St. Patrickīs Day is not a
holy day of obligation. The great feast of Corpus Christi is not a holy day of
obligation. Not satisfied with doing only what the Church obliges us to do on
Sundays and holy days, those who really love God will endeavor to do more than
the bare works commanded. Sunday is a day of rest and prayer. While we may
take innocent and useful amusement, we should not join in any public or noisy
entertainments. We may rest and recreate ourselves, but we should avoid every
place where vulgar and sometimes sinful amusements, scenes, or plays are
presented. Even in taking lawful recreation we may serve God and please Him if
we take it to strengthen our bodies that we may be enabled to do the work He
has assigned to us in this world.
Sunday is well spent by those who, after hearing Mass. devote some part of the
day to good works, such as pious reading, teaching in Sunday school, bringing
relief to the poor and sick, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, attending Vespers,
Rosary, etc. Not that I mean they should do nothing but pray on Sundays; but
they should not give the whole day to useless enjoyment or idleness, and forget
God. Some begrudge God even the half--hour they are obliged to give to Mass on
Sundays: they stand near the door, ready to be the first out, and perhaps were
the last in; or they come late, and do not give the full time necessary to hear
the entire Mass. Others spend the whole day in reading newspapers, magazines,
or useless -- I will not say sinful -- books. It is not a sin to read
newspapers, etc., on Sunday; but to give the whole time to them, and never read
anything good and instructive, is a willful waste of time--and waste of time is
sinful. There should be in every family, according to its means, one or more
good Catholic newspapers or magazines. Not all papers that bear the name of
Catholic are worthy of it. A truly Catholic paper is one that teaches or
defends Catholic truth, and warns us against its enemies, their snares,
deceptions, etc.; one, too, that tells us what is being done in the interests
of religion, education, etc. Besides such a paper there should be a few
standard good books in every family such as the New Testament, the Imitation of
Christ, a large and full catechism of Christian doctrine, etc. On the other
hand, all the books in your house need not be books treating of religion or
piety. Any book that is not against faith or morals may be kept and read. A
book may not be bad in itself, but it may be bad for you, either because it is
suggestive of evil, or you misunderstand it, and take evil out of it. In such
a case you should not read it. At the present time there are so many bad books
that persons should be very careful as to what they read.
Not only should we keep Sunday well ourselves, but we should endeavor to have
it so kept by others. We must be careful, however, not to fall into the
mistake of some who wish the Sunday to be kept as the Pharisees of old kept the
Sabbath, telling us we must not walk, ride, sail, or take any exercise or
enjoyment on that day. This is not true, for Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees
for such excessive rigor; God made the Sunday for our benefit, and if we had to
keep it as they say we must, it would be more of a punishment than a benefit.
A. We are to worship God on Sundays and holy days of obligation by hearing
Mass, by prayer, and by other good works.
A. The Sabbath day and the Sunday are not the same. The Sabbath is the
seventh day of the week, and is the day which was kept holy in the Old . Law;
the Sunday is the first day of the week, and is the day which is kept holy in
the New Law.
"Old Law" means the law that God gave to the Jews, the New Law, the law
that Our Lord gave to Christians.
A. The Church commands us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath
because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday He sent the Holy
Ghost upon the Apostles.
We keep Sunday instead of Saturday also to teach that the Old Law is not
now binding upon us, but that we must keep the New Law, which takes its place.
A. The Third Commandment forbids all unnecessary servile work and whatever
else may hinder the due observance of the Lordīs day.
A. Servile works are those which require labor rather of body than of
"Servile" -- that is, work which was formerly done by the slaves.
Therefore writing, reading, studying, etc., are not servile, because they were
not the works of slaves.
A. Servile works are lawful on Sunday when the honor of God, the good of our
neighbor, or necessity requires them.
"Honor of God"; for example, erecting an altar that could not be erected
at another time, so that the people may hear Mass on that day.
"Good of our neighbor" -- such as reconstructing a broken bridge that
must be used every day; or clearing away obstacles after a railroad accident,
that trains may not be delayed. "Necessity" -- firemen endeavoring to
extinguish a fire, sailors working on a ship at sea, etc.
A. The Fourth Commandment is: Honor thy father and thy mother.
A. We are commanded by the Fourth Commandment to honor, love, and obey our
parents in all that is not sin.
"In all that is not sin," because if our parents or superiors, being
wicked, bid us do things that we know to be certainly sinful, then we must not
obey them under any circumstances. God will not excuse us for doing wrong
because we were commanded. But if, on the contrary, we are forced in spite of
our resistance to do the sinful act, then not we but they have to answer for
the sin. If. however, you simply doubt about the sinfulness of the act, then
you must obey; because you must always suppose that your superiors know better
than you the things that concern their duty. Even if they should be mistaken
in the exercise of their authority, God will reward your obedience. Besides
obeying them, you must also help and support your parents if they need your
assistance. You must not scoff at or despise them for their want of learning
or refinement, because they perhaps have made many sacrifices to give you the
advantages of which they in their youth were deprived. Do we not sometimes
find persons of pretended culture ignorantly slighting their plain--mannered
parents, or showing that they are ashamed of them or unwilling to recognize
them before others, ungratefully forgetting that whatever wealth or learning
they themselves have came through the love and kindness of these same parents?
Again, is it not sinful for the children, especially of such parents, to waste
their time in school, knowing that they are being supported in idleness by the
hard toil and many sacrifices of a poor father? Never, then, be guilty of an
unkind or ungrateful act. No matter who they are or what their condition,
never forget those who have helped you and been your temporal or spiritual
benefactors. If you cannot return the kindness to the one who helped you, at
least be as ready as he was to do good to another. It is told of a great man
that, wishing always to do good, he made it a rule never to stand looking at
the effects of a disturbance, disaster, or accident unless he could do some
good by being there.
Wherever you are, ask yourselves now and then, Why am I in this particular
place; what good am I doing here? etc. St. Aloysius when about to perform any
action used to ask himself, it is said, What has this action to do with my
eternal salvation? and St. Alphonsus de Liguori made a vow never to waste a
moment of his time. These were some of the great heroes of the Church, and
this is one of the reasons why they could accomplish so much for God.
A. We are bound to honor and obey our bishops, pastors, magistrates,
teachers, and other lawful superiors.
"Magistrates" -- that is, civil rulers, like the president, governor,
mayor, judges, etc.
A. It is the duty of parents and superiors to take good care of all
under their charge and give them proper direction and example.
It is so much their duty that God will hold them responsible for it, and
punish them for neglecting it; so that your parents are not free to give you
your own way. They have to do Godīs work, and, as His agents, punish you when
you deserve it. You should take their punishment as coming from God Himself.
They do not punish you because they wish to see you suffer, but for your good.
Think of the terrible responsibility of parents. Let us suppose that the
parents of a family give bad example; their children follow their example, and
when they become heads of families their children also will grow up in
wickedness: and thus we can go on for generations, and all those sins will be
traced back to the first bad parents. What is true for bad example is true
also for good example; that is, the good done by the children will all be
traced back to the parents. Sometimes you may be punished when you are not
guilty; then think of the times you were guilty and were not punished.
Remember also how Our Lord was falsely accused before Herod and Pilate, and yet
He never opened His lips to defend Himself, but suffered patiently. God sees
your innocence and will reward you if you bear your trial patiently. Indeed,
we are foolish not to bear all our sufferings patiently, for we have to bear
them anyway, and we might just as well have the reward that patient suffering
will bring us. Those who suffer should find comfort in this: by suffering they
are made more like Our Lord and His blessed Mother. She lived on earth over
sixty years, and during all that time she seems never to have had any of those
things that bring worldly pleasure and happiness. She was left an orphan when
quite young, and spent her early life in the temple, which was for her a kind
of school; then she was married to a poor old carpenter, and must have found it
very hard at times to get a living. Our Lord was born while she was away from
home in a strange place. After she had returned and had just settled down in
her little dwelling, she had to fly with St. Joseph into Egypt to save the life
of the little Infant Jesus, whom the kingīs officers were seeking to kill. In
Egypt they were strangers, among people not of their own nationality or
religion, and St. Joseph must have found great difficulty in providing for
them; yet they had to remain there for some time. Then when our divine Lord
was grown to manhood and could be a great comfort to His Mother, He was seized
and put to death in her presence. Her most beloved and innocent Son put to
death publicly as a criminal before all her neighbors! The same persons who
insulted Our Lord would not hesitate to insult and cruelly treat His blessed
Mother also. At His death He left her no money or property for her support,
but asked a friend, St. John, to receive her into his house and do Him the
favor of taking care of her. She must have often felt that she was a burden in
that manīs house; that she had no home of her own, but was living like a poor
woman on the charity of kind friends, for St. Joseph died before Our Lordīs
public life began. The Blessed Mother was, however, obliged to remain upon
earth for about eleven years after Our Lordīs Ascension. Thus we see her whole
life was one of trials and sorrows. Now certainly Our Lord loved His Mother
more than any other son could; and certainly also He, being God, could have
made His blessed Mother a queen upon the earth, rich and powerful among men,
and free from every suffering or inconvenience. If, then, He sent her sorrows
and trials, it must have been because these were best for her, and because He
knew that for this suffering here upon earth her happiness and glory in Heaven
would be much increased; and as He wished her to have all the happiness and
glory she was capable of possessing, He permitted her to suffer. If, then,
suffering was good for Our Lordīs Mother, it is good also for us; and when it
comes we ought not to complain, but bear it patiently, as she did, and ask Our
Lord to give us that grace.
A. The Fourth Commandment forbids all disobedience, contempt, and
stubbornness towards our parents or lawful superiors.
"Contempt." Showing by our words or actions that we disregard or
despise those placed over us. A man who is summoned to appear in court and
does not come is punished for "contempt of court," because he shows that he
disregards the authority of the judge. A thing not very bad in itself may
become very bad if done out of contempt. For example, there would be a great
difference between eating a little more than the Church allows on a fast--day,
simply because you were hungry, and eating it because you wanted to show that
you despised the law of fasting and the authority of the Church. The first
would be only a venial sin, but the latter mortal. So for all your actions.
An act which in itself might be a venial sin could easily become a mortal sin
if you did it through contempt. "StubbornnessīL--that is, unwillingness to
give in, even when you know you are wrong and should yield. Those who obey
slowly and do what they are ordered in a sulky manner are also guilty of
A. The Fifth Commandment is: Thou shalt not kill.
A. We are commanded by the Fifth Commandment to live in peace and union with
our neighbor, to respect his rights, to seek his spiritual and bodily welfare,
and to take proper care of our own life and health.
"Proper care of our own life." It is not our property, but Godīs. He
lends it to us and leaves it with us as long as He pleases: nor does He tell us
how long He will let us have the use of it. Thus suicide, or the taking of
oneīs own life, is a mortal sin, for by it we resist the will of God. One who
in sound mind and full possession of reason causes his own death is guilty of
suicide. But it is sometimes very difficult to determine whether the person
was really sane at the time he committed the act; hence, when there is any
reasonable doubt on that point, the unfortunate suicide is usually given the
benefit of it. It is also a sin to risk our lives uselessly or to continue in
any habit that we are sure is injuring our health and shortening our lives.
Thus an habitual drunkard is guilty of sin against the Fifth Commandment, for
besides his sin of drunkenness, he is hastening his own death. So, too, boys
or girls who indulge in habits which their parents forbid are guilty of sin.
For example, a boy is forbidden to smoke, and he does smoke. Now to smoke is
not in itself a sin, but it becomes a sin for that boy, because in the first
place he is disobedient, and secondly is injuring his health. Thus persons who
indulge in sinful habits may commit more than one kind of sin, for besides the
sins committed by the habits themselves, these vices may injure their health
and bring sickness and disease upon their bodies.
A. The Fifth Commandment forbids all willful murder, fighting, anger,
hatred, revenge, and bad example.
Therefore it forbids all that might lead to murder. So we can violate
any of the Commandments by doing anything that leads to breaking them.
"Revenge" is a desire to injure others because they injured you.
A. The Sixth Commandment is: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
A. We are commanded by the Sixth Commandment to be pure in thought and
modest in all our looks, words, and actions.
We should be most careful about this Commandment, because almost every
violation of it is a mortal sin. For example, if you steal only a little, it
is a venial sin; for in stealing the greatness of the sin will depend upon the
amount you steal--. but if you do a real bad action. or think a real bad
thought against the Sixth Commandment, it will be a mortal sin, no matter how
short the time. Again, we have more temptations against this Commandment, for
we are tempted by our own bodies and we cannot avoid them: hence the necessity
of being always guarded against this sin. It enters into our soul through our
senses, they are, as it were, the doors of our soul. It enters by our eyes
looking at bad objects or pictures; by our ears listening to bad conversation;
by our tongue saying and repeating immodest words, etc. If then, we guard all
the doors of our soul. sin cannot enter. It would be foolish to lock all the
doors in your house but one, for one will suffice to admit a thief, and we
might as well leave them all open as one. So, too, we must guard all the
senses--, for sin can enter by one only as well as by all.
A. The Sixth Commandment forbids all unchaste freedom with anotherīs wife or
husband: also all immodesty with ourselves or others in looks, dress, words, or
A. The Sixth Commandment does forbid the reading of bad and immodest books
Reading brings us into the company of those who wrote the book. Now we
should be just as careful to avoid a bad book as a bad man, and even more so;
for while we read we can stop to think, and read over again, so that bad words
read will often make more impression upon us than bad words spoken to us. You
should avoid not only bad, but useless books. You could not waste all your
time with an idle man without becoming like him--an idler. So if you waste
your time on useless books, your knowledge will be just like the
books--useless. Many authors write only for the sake of money, and care little
whether their book is good or bad, provided it sells well. How many young
people have been ruined by bad books, and how many more by foolish books!
Boys, for example, read in some worthless book of desperate deeds of highway
robbery or piracy, and are at once filled with the desire to imitate the hero
of the tale. Young girls, on the other hand, are equally infatuated by the
wonderful fortunes and adventures of some young woman whose life has been so
vividly described in a trashy novel. As the result of such reading, young
persons lose the true idea of virtue and valor of true, noble manhood and
womanhood, and with their hearts and minds corrupted set up vice for their
Again, these books are filled with such terrible lies and unlikely things that
any sensible boy or girl should see their foolishness at once. Think, for
example, of a book relating how two boys defeated and killed or captured
several hundred Indians! Is that likely? The truth is, if two Indians shook
their tomahawks at as many boys as you could crowd into this building, every
single one of them would run for his life.
Let me give you still another reason for not reading trashy books. Your minds
can hold just so much good or evil information, and if you fill them full of
lies and nonsense you leave no room for true knowledge.
Do not, therefore, get into the habit of reading foolish storypapers and cheap
novels. Read good books in which you can find information that will be useful
to you all through your life.
If now and then you read story--books for amusement or rest from study, let
them be good story--books, written by good authors. Ask someoneīs advice about
the books you read--someone who is capable of giving such advice: your pastor,
your teachers, and frequently your parents and friends. Learn all through your
life to ask advice on every important matter. How many mistakes in life would
have been prevented if those making them had only asked advice from the proper
persons and followed it. Your parents have traveled the road of life before
you. Now it is known to them and they can point out its dangers. To you the
road is entirely new, and it will be only after you have traveled it and
arrived nearly at its end in the latter days of your life that you also will be
able to advise others how to pass through it in safety. This road can be
traveled only once, so be advised by those who have learned its many dangers by
their own experience. You should be very glad that those of experience are
willing to teach you, and if you neglect their warnings you will be very sorry
for it someday.
A. The Seventh Commandment is: Thou shalt not steal.
Stealing is one of those vices of which you have to be most careful.
Children should learn to have honest hearts, and never to take unjustly even
the smallest thing; for some begin a life of dishonesty by stealing little
things from their own house or from stores to which they are sent for goods. A
nut, a cake, an apple, a cent, etc., do not seem much, but nevertheless to take
any of them dishonestly is stealing. Children who indulge in this trifling
thievery seldom correct the habit in after life and grow up to be dishonest men
and women. How do you suppose all the thieves now spending their miserable
lives in prison began? Do you believe they were very honest never having
stolen even the slightest thing--up to a certain day, and at once became
thieves by committing a highway robbery? No; they began by stealing little
things, then greater, and kept on till they made stealing their business and
thus became professional thieves. Again, the little you steal each day does
not seem much at the time, but if you put all the "Tittles" together you may
soon have something big, and almost before you know it--if you intend to
continue stealing you may have taken enough to make you guilty of mortal sin.
If you intended to steal, for instance, only a small amount every day for the
whole year, you would at the end have stolen a large amount and committed a
mortal sin. There are many ways of violating the Seventh Commandment. Workmen
who do not do a just dayīs work, or employers who cheat their workmen out of
wages earned; merchants who charge unjust prices and seek unjust profits;
dealers who give light weight or short measure or who misrepresent goods; those
who speculate rashly or gamble with the money of others, and those who borrow
with no intention or only slight hope of being able to pay back, all violate
this Commandment. You violate it also by not paying your just debts or by
purchasing goods that you know you will never be able to pay for. Moreover,
besides the injustice, it is base ingratitude not to pay your debts when in
your power to do so. The one who trusted or lent you helped you in your need
and did you a great favor, and yet when you can you will not pay, and what is
worse, frequently abuse and insult him for asking his own. Though such
dishonest and ungrateful persons may escape in this world, they will not escape
in the next, for Almighty God will make them suffer for the smallest debt they
Again, others often suffer for the dishonesty of those I have mentioned, for
when some good person who really intends to pay is in great need and wishes to
borrow or be trusted, he is refused because others have been dishonest.
Everyone should pay his debts, and even keep from buying things that are not
really necessary till he is thus enabled to pay what he owes. You must pay
your just debts even before you can give anything in charity.
A. By the Seventh Commandment we are commanded to give to all men what
belongs to them and to respect their property.
"Respect their property" -- that is, acknowledge and respect their
rights to their property and do nothing to violate these rights.
A. The Seventh Commandment forbids all unjust taking or keeping what belongs
"Taking," either with your own hands or from the hands of another; for
the one who willingly and knowingly receives from a thief the whole or part of
anything stolen becomes as bad as the thief. Even if you only help another to
steal, and receive none of the stolen goods, you are guilty. There are several
ways of sharing in the sin of another; namely, by ordering or advising him to
do wrong; by praising him for doing wrong and thus encouraging him; by
consenting to wrong when you should oppose it--for instance, a member of a
society allowing an evil act to be done by the society when his vote would
prevent it; again, by affording wrongdoers protection and means of escape from
punishment for their evil deeds. This does not mean that we should not defend
the guilty. We should defend them, but should not encourage them to do wrong
by offering them a means of escape from just punishment. We share in anotherīs
sin also by neglecting to prevent his bad action when it is our duty to do so.
For example, if a police officer paid for guarding your property should see a
thief stealing it and not prevent him, he would be as guilty as the thief Your
neighbor indeed might warn you that the thief was stealing your goods, but he
would not be bound in justice to do so, as the officer is, but only in charity,
because it is not his duty to guard your property. Parents who know that their
children steal and do not prevent them or compel them to bring back what they
stole, but rather encourage them by being indifferent, are guilty of dishonesty
as well as the children, and share in their sins of theft. But suppose you did
not know the thing was stolen when you received it, but learned afterward that
it was, must you then return it to the proper owner? Yes; just as soon as you
know to whom it belongs you begin to sin by keeping it. But suppose you bought
it not knowing that it was stolen, would you still have to restore it? Yes,
when the owner asks for it, because it belongs to him till he sells it or gives
it away. If you have bought from a thief you have been cheated and must suffer
the loss. Your mistake will make you more careful on the next occasion.
Suppose you find a thing, what must you do? Try to find its owner, and if you
find him give him what is his, and that without any reward for restoring it,
unless he pleases to give you something, or unless you have been put to an
expense by keeping it. If you cannot find the owner after sincerely seeking
for him, then you may keep the thing found. But suppose you kept the article
so long before looking for the owner that it became impossible for you to
restore it to him, either because he had died or removed to parts unknown
during your delay--what then? Then you must give the article or its value to
his children or others who have a right to his goods; and if no one who has
such a right can be found, you must give it to the poor, for you have it
unjustly--since you did not look for the owner when it was possible to find
him--and therefore cannot keep it.
A. We are bound to restore ill--gotten goods, or the value of them, as far
as we are able; otherwise we cannot be forgiven.
"Ill--gotten" -- that is, unjustly gotten. "Value." It
sometimes happens that persons lose or destroy the article stolen, and
therefore cannot return it. What must be done in such cases? They must give
the owner the value of it. However, when you have stolen anything and have to
restore it, you need not go to the owner and say, "Here is what I stole from
you." It is only necessary that he gets what is his own or its value. He need
not even know that it is being restored to him, unless he knows you stole it;
and then it would be better for your own good name to let him know that you are
making amends for the injustice done. Therefore, no one need have any excuse
for not restoring what he has unjustly, because he has only to see that it is
returned in some way to its owner, or to those who have the next right to it,
or to the poor. But you must remember you cannot make restitution by giving to
the poor if you can restore to the proper owner. You must restore by giving to
the poor only when the owner cannot be found or reached. Some persons do not
like the duty of restoring to the proper owner, and think they satisfy their
obligation by giving the ill--gotten goods to the poor; but they do not. You
cannot give even in charity the goods of another without being guilty of
dishonesty. If you wish to be charitable, give from your own goods. It is a
sin to delay making restitution after you are able to restore. You must
restore just as soon as you can, because the longer you keep the owner out of
his property and its benefits, the greater the injury you do him and the
greater the sin. One who, after being told by his confessor to make
restitution, and promising to do so, still delays or keeps putting off, runs
the risk of being guilty of sacrilege by receiving the Sacraments without
proper dispositions. But suppose a person cannot restore; suppose he lost the
thing stolen and has not the value of it. What must he do? He must have the
firm resolution of restoring as soon as he possibly can; and without this good
resolution he could not be absolved from his sins--even if he had not the real
means of restoring. The good intention and resolution will suffice till he has
really the means; but this intention must be serious, otherwise there will be
A. We are bound to repair the damage we have unjustly caused.
A. The Eighth Commandment is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
Either in a court, while we are acting as witnesses, or by telling lies
about him at any other time.
A. We are commanded by the Eighth Commandment to speak the truth in all
things, and to be careful of the honor and reputation of everyone.
"Reputation." If it be a sin to steal a manīs money, which we can
restore to him, it is certainly a much greater sin to steal his good name,
which we can never restore, and especially as we have nothing to gain from
injuring his character. It is a sin to tell evil things about another--his
sins, vices, etc.--even when they are true. The only thing that will excuse us
from telling anotherīs fault is the necessity to do so in which we are placed,
or the good we can do to the person himself or others by exposing faults. How
shall you know when you have injured the character of another? You have
injured anotherīs character if you made others think less of him than they did
before. If you have exposed some crime that he really committed, your sin is
called detraction; if you accuse him of one he did not commit, your sin
is calumny; and if you maliciously circulate these reports to
injure his character, your sin is slander. But how shall you
make reparation for injuring the character of another? If you have told lies
about him, you must acknowledge to those with whom you have talked that you
have told what was untrue about him, and you must even compensate him for
whatever loss he has suffered by your lies: for example, the loss of his
situation by your accusing him of dishonesty. But if what you said of him was
true, how are you to act? At every opportunity say whatever good you can of
him in the presence of those before whom you have spoken the evil.
A. The Eighth Commandment forbids all rash judgments, backbiting, slanders,
"Rash judgment" -- that is, having in your mind and really believing
that a person is guilty of a certain sin when you have no reason for thinking
so, and no evidence that he is guilty. "Backbiting" -- that is, talking
evil of persons behind their backs. You would not like your neighbor to
backbite you, and you have no right to do to him what you would not wish him to
do to you. Besides, everyone hates and fears a backbiter; because as he brings
to you a bad story about another, he will in the same manner bring to someone
else a bad story about you. It is certainly an honor to be able to say of a
person: "He never has a bad word of anyone"; while on the other hand, he must
be a despicable creature who never speaks of others except to censure or revile
them. Never listen to a backbiter, detractor, or slanderer--it is sinful.
Another way of injuring your neighbor is revealing the secrets he has confided
to you. You will tell one friend perhaps and caution him not to repeat it to
another; but if you cannot keep the secret yourself, how can you expect others
to keep it? Again you may injure your neighbor by reading his letters without
his consent when you have no authority to do so. This is considered a crime in
the eyes even of the civil law, and anyone who opens and reads the letters of
another can be punished by imprisonment. It is a kind of theft, for it is
stealing secrets and information that you have no right to know. It is
dishonorable to read anotherīs letter without his consent, even when you find
it open. To carry to persons the evil things said about them by others so as
to bring about disputes between them is very sinful. The Holy Scripture
(Rom. 1:29) calls this class of sinners whisperers, and says that they
will not enter into Heaven--that is, as long as they continue in the habit. If
ever, then, you hear one person saying anything bad about another, never go and
tell it to the person of whom it was said. If you do, you will be the cause of
all the sin that follows from it--of the anger, hatred, revenge, and probably
murder itself, as sometimes happens.
A. They who have lied about their neighbor and seriously injured his
character must repair the injury done as far as they are able, otherwise they
will not be forgiven.
A. The Ninth Commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighborīs wife.
A. We are commanded by the Ninth Commandment to keep ourselves pure in
thought and desire.
A. The Ninth Commandment forbids unchaste thoughts, desires of anotherīs
wife or husband, and all other unlawful impure thoughts and desires.
A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and
we try to banish them.
A. The Tenth Commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighborīs goods.
"Covet" means to long for or desire inordinately or unlawfully. If I
should desire, for example, my friend to be killed by an accident, in order
that I might become the owner of his gold watch, I would be coveting it. But
if I desired to have it justly--that is, to be able to purchase it, or another
similar to it, that would not be covetousness.
A. By the Tenth Commandment we are commanded to be content with what we
have, and to rejoice in our neighborīs welfare.
A. The Tenth Commandment forbids all desires to take or keep wrongfully what
belongs to another.
A. The chief commandments of the Church are six:
A. It is a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of
obligation, unless we are excused for a serious reason. They also commit a
mortal sin, who, having others under their charge, hinder them from hearing
Mass, without a sufficient reason.
"Serious reason" -- that is, a very good reason, such as sickness,
necessity of taking care of the sick, great danger of death, etc. Some persons
when they go to the country in the summer believe themselves excused from
hearing Mass because the church is a little further from them or the Mass at
more inconvenient times than in the city. When they are in the country they
are bound by the same obligations as the Catholics who live in that parish the
whole year round, and they must go to Mass as these do, even if it is more
inconvenient than in the city. Persons who have it in their power to select
their own summer resort, should not, without great necessity, select a place
where there is no Catholic church, and where they will be deprived of Mass and
the Sacraments for several months, and where there is danger of their dying
without the Sacraments. Some excuse themselves from going to Mass because they
are too tired to rise in the morning. They should be ashamed to give such an
excuse. Was our Blessed Lord not tired when He carried His Cross? He was
tired, for He fell under it several times. And where was He going? To
Calvary, to offer up the bloody sacrifice of the Cross for you. Will you plead
fatigue as an excuse when you come to be judged by Him? Others again have a
great habit of coming late for Mass. No matter at what hour the Mass may be,
they will always be late; and I am afraid these persons will also be too late
to enter Heaven. By coming late they show disrespect to Our Lord and distract
others; and to avoid doing so, they should, when late, take a place in the rear
of the church. When you are very late for one Mass, you should wait for the
next--at least, for as much of the next as you did not hear in the first. You
should not, however, begrudge a little extra time to God. To hear Mass
properly, you should be in your place a few minutes before the priest comes
out, and make up your mind what blessing you will ask, or for what intention
you desire to hear the Mass.
"Having others under their charge." Some parents are very careless
about their children attending Mass, especially on holy days. Now, they must
remember that in such neglect the sin will be theirs as well as the childrenīs.
Again, masters and mistresses do not at times give their workmen and servants
sufficient opportunity to hear Mass, above all on holy days. All masters and
mistresses must remember that they are bound not only to give their servants an
opportunity to hear Mass, but they are bound as far as they conveniently can to
see that they embrace the opportunity, just as they should see to their
children in such matters. Catholics having in their employ others, such as
engineers, drivers, conductors, etc., must make some arrangement between their
men by which they will be able to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days. The
same holds good for companies and corporations having under their charge a
large force of men who are obliged by circumstances to work on Sundays.
A. Holy days were instituted by the Church to recall to our minds the great
mysteries of religion and the virtues and rewards of the saints.
For just the same reason that the government has legal holidays. What
would the people of this country know or think at the present time about the
Declaration of Independence, and all connected with it, if they did not
celebrate from childhood every year, on the Fourth of July, the great day on
which their forefathers claimed to be free and independent from the nation that
was persecuting them? The Fourth of July keeps alive in our memory the
struggles of our ancestors of one hundred years or more ago--their great
battles, their sufferings and triumph, the blessings they secured for us, and
for which we praise them. In like manner, the feast of the Resurrection of Our
Lord keeps us in mind of the sad condition in which we were before Our Lord
redeemed us, and how He liberated us from the slavery of the devil and secured
for us so many wonderful blessings. Again, what would we remember about George
Washington if we did not celebrate his birthday? That holiday keeps before our
minds the life and actions of that great man and all he did for our benefit.
So, too, when we celebrate every year the feast of a saint in the Church, it
keeps before our minds his works and all that he did for God and the Church,
and makes us anxious to imitate his virtues. On every day in the year the
Church honors some mystery of our holy faith or some saint by saying Mass all
over the world in honor of the feast, and by obliging the priests and bishops
to say the divine office for the same purpose. The feast--day of a saint is
generally the day on which he died; because that is considered the day on which
he entered into Heaven -- the day on which he was born into the new world.
The "divine office" is a collection of prayers, hymns, lessons, and
psalms which every priest and bishop must read every day of his life. As it is
said each day in honor of some particular mystery or saint, the greater part of
it differs for each day. The prayers are to God, asking some grace or blessing
in honor of the saint--generally such graces as were granted to the saint. The
hymns are in the saintīs honor; the lessons are parts of the Holy Scripture, or
an account of the saintīs life; and the psalms are those beautiful poems that
King David composed and sang to God. The divine office is the prayer of the
universal Church for its children, and if a priest neglects to say it he
commits a mortal sin. It takes about an hour to say the whole divine office,
but it is not intended to be said all at once. It is so divided that it is
said at three times in the day. The part called "Matins" and "Lauds" is said
very early in the morning and before Mass. The part called "Little Hours" is
said later in the day; and the part called "Vespers" and "Compline" is said in
the afternoon. See, therefore, how anxious the Church is for the good of its
children, when it makes its bishops, priests, and religious pray daily for all
the faithful, and send up in one voice the same prayer to the throne of God.
A. We should keep the holy days of obligation as we should keep the
A. By fast--days I mean days on which we are allowed but one full meal.
According to the traditional Catholic method of fasting, one may eat
"one full meal" each day with meat included, plus two smaller meatless
meals, both of which together do not equal the one full meal. No eating
between meals is allowed, although drinking beverages such as coffee and tea
are allowed and are not considered to break the fast. (Milk, juice, and soft
drinks are also considered not to break the fast, although they are in fact
foods and mitigate the effects of the fast and work contrary to its intent
because they satisfy oneīs hunger to some extent, since they have food value.)
They, therefore, who follow the above regulations obey the Catholic method of
fasting. Today the prescribed days of fast for the whole Church are Ash
Wednesday and Good Friday (these are also days of abstinence). However the
Church today says that the meaning of the law of fasting during Lent
remains, although the extent of the obligation has been changed. In
other words, Lent remains as a season of penance in the Church, but how it is
to be observed is greatly up to the individual, though no one may think himself
excused from all penance whatsoever, and those who are in the fasting age group
should still practice the Churchīs form of fasting, since fasting is a primary
and very efficacious form of penance.
Those who, for sufficient reasons, are excused from the obligation of fasting,
are not on that account freed from the law of abstinence, for all who have
reached their fourteenth birthday are bound to abstain from flesh--meat on days
when it is forbidden -- Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. The following
persons are excused from fasting:
If you think you should be excused from fasting or abstaining, state your
reasons to your confessor and ask his advice. On a fast--day, therefore, you
have to look both to the quantity and the kind of food, while on a day of
abstinence--as the Fridays in Lent other than Good Friday--you have to look
only to the kind.
A. By days of abstinence I mean days on which we are forbidden to eat
flesh--meat, but are allowed the usual amount of food.
A. The Church commands us to fast and abstain in order that we may mortify
our passions and satisfy for our sins.
"Mortify our passions," keep our bodies under control, do bodily
penance. Remember it is our bodies that generally lead us into sin; if
therefore we punish the body by fasting and mortification, we atone for the
sin, and thus God wipes out a part of the temporal punishment due to it.
A. The Church commands us to abstain, from flesh-meat on Ash Wednesday and
the Fridays of Lent and to abstain from flesh-meat or do some other chosen
penance on the other Fridays of the year in honor of the day on which Our
A. By the command of confessing at least once a year is meant that we are
obliged, under pain of mortal sin, to go to confession within the year.
"Within the year"--that is, the time between your confessions must never
be longer than a year, or, at least not longer than the period between the
beginning of one Eastertime and the end of the next. All persons who have
attained the age of reason are bound to comply with this precept, and parents
should remind their children of it.
A. We should confess frequently, if we wish to lead a good life.
Some seem to think that they need not go to confession if they have not
committed sin since their last confession. Two graces are given in penance, as
you already know: one, to take away the sins confessed, and the other, to
strengthen us against temptation and enable us to keep our good resolutions.
Now, as we are always tempted, we should go frequently to confession to get the
grace to resist. The saints used to go to confession very frequently,
sometimes every day. They used to go when tempted, to obtain the grace to
resist and to expose their temptations to their confessor and ask his advice.
Again the Holy Scripture tells us that the just man falls seven times; and
"just man" in Holy Scripture means a very good man, that is, one doing for God,
his neighbor, and himself what he ought to do. St. Joseph is called in the
Scripture a "just man" and he was the foster--father of Our Lord. Now, if the
good man falls seven times, he must arise after each fall; for if he did not
get up after the first fall, he could not fall the second time. This teaches
us that we all commit some kind of sin, at least, and have always something to
confess if we only examine our conscience closely. It teaches us also that
when we have the misfortune to fall into sin, we should rise as quickly as
A. Children should go to confession when they are old enough to commit sin,
which is commonly about the age of seven years.
"To commit sin" that is, when they know the difference between good and
A. He who neglects to receive Communion during the Easter time commits a
A. The Easter time is, in this country, the time between the first
Sunday of Ient and Trinity Sunday, inclusive.
Trinity Sunday is the eighth Sunday after Easter. Therefore the whole
Easter--time is from the first Sunday of Lent--that is, seven weeks before
Easter--to Trinity Sunday, eight weeks after it, or fifteen weeks in all; and
anyone who does not go to Holy Communion sometime during these fifteen weeks
commits mortal sin.
A. We are obliged to contribute to the support of our pastors, and to bear
our share in the expenses of the Church and school.
And any charitable institution connected with the Church. The Holy Land
was divided among the tribes of Israel, who were the descendants of the twelve
sons of Jacob. Now, one of these twelve tribes was made up entirely of priests
and persons who served in the temple of God, called Levites. They received
none of the land, but were to be supported by the other eleven tribes. All the
people were obliged by the law to give what they called first--fruits, and
tithes--that is, one tenth of their income in goods or money each year to the
temple for its support and the support of those who served it. In the New Law
no definite amount is assigned, but every Christian is left free to give what
he can to Godīs Church according to his generosity. But if God left you free,
should you therefore be stingy with Him? Moreover, all that we have comes from
God, and should we return Him the least and the worst? For every alms you give
for Godīs sake He can send you a hundred blessings; and what you refuse to give
to His Church or poor He can take from you in a thousand ways, by sending
misfortunes. We read in the Bible (Gen. 4) that Adamīs sons, Cain and
Abel, both offered sacrifice to God. Abelīs sacrifice was pleasing, but Cainīs
was not. Why? Because, as we are told, Cain did not offer to God the best he
had, but likely the worst; or at least, he offered his sacrifice with a bad
disposition. Then when he saw that his brotherīs sacrifice was pleasing to
God, being filled with jealousy, he killed him; and in punishment God marked
him and condemned him to be a wanderer on the face of the earth. We are told
he was always afraid of being killed by everyone he saw. See, then, what comes
of being unwilling to be generous with God.. What we give Him He does not need,
but by giving, we worship and thank Him. Do not people in the world often give
presents to those who have done them a favor, that they may thus show their
gratitude? Now, God is always doing us favors, and why should we not show our
gratitude to Him by giving generously in His honor? When we give to the
orphans, etc., we give to Him; for He says: "Whatsoever you give to these
little ones you give to Me." Again, when Our Lord tells what will happen on the
Day of Judgment (Matt. 25:31, etc.), He says, the Judge will divide all
the people of the world into two bodies; the good He will place on His right
hand and the wicked on His left. Then He will praise the good for what they
did and welcome them to Heaven; but to the wicked He will say, "Depart from Me,
because when I was hungry you gave Me not to eat; when I was thirsty you gave
Me not to drink; you clothed Me not" etc. And then the wicked shall ask, when
did we see You in want and not relieve You? He will tell them that He
considered the poor just the same as Himself; and as they did nothing for His
poor, they did nothing for Him.
A. The meaning of the commandment not to marry within the third degree of
kindred is that no one is allowed to marry another within the third degree of
"Third Degree," What relatives are in the third degree? Brother and
sister are in the first degree; first cousins are in the second degree; second
cousins are in the third degree. Therefore all who are second cousins or in
nearer relationship cannot be married without a dispensation from the Church
allowing them to do so. A dispensation granted by the Church is a
permission to do something which its law forbids. Since it made the law, it
can also dispense from the observance of it. The Church could not give
permission to do anything that Godīs law forbids. It could not, for example,
give permission to a brother and sister to marry, because it is not alone the
law of the Church but Godīs law also that forbids that. But Godīs law does not
forbid first or second cousins to get married; but the Churchīs law forbids it,
and thus it can in special cases dispense from such laws. Godīs law is called
also the natural law. You must be very careful not to confound the marriage
laws that the Church makes with the marriage laws that the State makes. When
the State makes laws contrary to the laws of God or of the Church, you cannot
obey such laws without committing grievous sin. For instance, the State allows
divorce; it allows persons to marry again if the husband or wife has been
sentenced to imprisonment for life; it does not recognize all the impediments
to marriage laid down by the Church. Such laws as these Catholics cannot
comply with; but when the State makes laws which regard only the civil effects
of marriage, such as refer to the property of the husband or wife, the
inheritance of the children, etc., laws, in a word, which are not opposed
either to the laws of God or of His Church, then you may and must obey them;
for the authorities of the government are our lawful superiors, and must be
obeyed in all that is not sin. What we have said with regard to the marriage
laws is true for all the rest. Thus the civil court might, on account of some
technicality, free you legally from the payment of a debt; but that would not
free you in conscience from paying what you justly owe. Again, the court might
legally decide in your favor in an unjust suit; but that would not give you the
right in conscience to keep what you have thus fraudulently or unjustly
A. The command not to marry privately means that none should marry without
the blessing of Godīs priests or without witnesses.
If persons wishing to be married suspect that there is any impediment existing
between them, they should express their doubts and the reasons for them to the
Here it is well for you to know that if any Catholic goes to be married before
a Protestant minister, he is, by the laws of the Church in the United States,
excommunicated. I You must know excommunication means cut off from the
communion of the Church and the body of the faithful; cut off from the
Sacraments and from a share in all the holy Masses and public prayers offered
by the Church throughout the world. It is a punishment the Church inflicts
upon its disobedient children who will not repent but persist in wrongdoing.
If they die willfully excommunicated, they die in mortal sin, and no Mass or
funeral prayers can be publicly offered for them; nor can they be buried in
consecrated ground. Besides the excommunicated, there are others who cannot be
buried in consecrated ground: namely, infants or others who have not been
baptized; those who deliberately committed suicide; those who have publicly
lived sinful lives and evidently died in that public sin; and all persons who
are not Catholics. If a Catholic who is not publicly a sinner dies suddenly,
we cannot judge that he is in mortal sin; and hence such a one may be buried in
It is the desire of the Church that all its faithful children should be buried
in the ground which it has blessed for their remains; and wherever it is
possible Catholics must have their own burying ground.
A. The meaning of the precept not to solemnize marriage at forbidden times
is that during Ient and Advent the marriage ceremony should not be performed
with pomp or a nuptial Mass.
Persons may be married at these times quietly, wherever it is not
positively forbidden by the laws of the diocese.
A. The nuptial Mass is a Mass appointed by the Church to invoke a special
blessing upon the married couple.
It is a Mass especially for them and cannot be said for anyone else. At
the most solemn parts of the Mass the priest turns to them and prays that God
may bless their union.
A. Catholics should be married at a nuptial Mass, because they thereby show
greater reverence for the holy Sacrament and bring richer blessings upon their
The Church wishes to give to the marriage of its children observing its
laws all the solemnity possible, and to impress its dignity and sanctity so
deeply upon their minds that they may never forget the solemn promise made at
the altar of God. The thought of that day will keep them from sin. On the
other hand, the Church shows its great displeasure when Catholics do not keep
its laws, but marry persons not of their own religion. At a mixed marriage the
couple cannot be married in the church, nor even in the sacristy; the priest
cannot wear a surplice or stole or any of the sacred vestments of the Church;
he cannot use holy water, or the Sign of the Cross; he cannot bless the ring or
even use the Churchīs language--Latin. Everything is done in the coldest
manner, to remind Catholics that they are doing what is displeasing to their
mother the Church.
Again the Church wishes its children to prepare for the Sacrament of Matrimony
just as they would prepare for any other Sacrament--Penance, Holy Eucharist,
Holy Orders, etc.
Imagine a boy going up for First Communion laughing, talking, or gazing about
him, without any thought of the great Sacrament he is about to receive;
thinking only of how he appears in his new clothing, of those who are present,
etc., and spending all his time of preparation not in purifying his soul, but
in adorning his body! Think of him returning from Holy Communion and
immediately forgetting Our Lord! Now, Matrimony is deserving of all the
respect due to a Sacrament, and hence the Church wishes all its children to be
married at Mass; or at least in the morning. It does not like them to marry in
the evening, and go to the reception of the Sacrament as they would to a place
of vain amusement. For on such occasions they cannot show the proper respect
in the church, and possibly turn the ceremony into an occasion of sin for all
who attend; for they often seem to forget the holiness of the place and the
respect due to the presence of Our Lord upon the altar. Indeed it should be
remembered, at whatever time the marriage takes place, that conduct, dress, and
all else must be in keeping with the dignity of the place and the holiness of
the Sacrament, and the women should not come into the Church with uncovered
A. Christ will judge us immediately after our death, and on the last day.
"Immediately." In the very room and on the very spot where we die, we
shall be judged in an instant, and even before those around us are sure that we
are really dead. When we have a trial or judgment in one of our courts, we see
the judge listening, the lawyers defending or trying to condemn, and the
witnesses for or against the person accused. We are in the habit of imagining
something of the same kind to take place in the judgment of God. We see
Almighty God seated on His throne; our angel and patron saint giving their
testimony about us--good or bad--and then we hear the Judge pronounce sentence.
This takes place, but not in the way we imagine, for God needs no witnesses: He
knows all. An example will probably make you understand better what really
takes place. If you are walking over a very muddy road on a dark night, you
cannot see the spattered condition of your clothing; but if you come suddenly
into a strong light you will see at a glance the state in which you are. In
the same way the soul during our earthly life does not see its own condition;
but when it comes into the bright light of Godīs presence, it sees in an
instant its own state and knows what its sentence will be. It goes immediately
to its reward or punishment. This judgment at the moment of our death will
settle our fate forever. The general judgment will not change, but only
repeat, the sentence before the whole world. Oh, how we should prepare for
that awful moment! See that poor sick man slowly breathing away his life. All
his friends are kneeling around him praying; now he becomes unconscious; now
the death rattle sounds in his throat; now the eyes are fixed and glassy. A
few minutes more and that poor soul will stand in the awful presence of God, to
give an account of that manīs whole life--of every thought, word, and deed.
All he has done on earth will be spread out before him like a great picture.
He will, towards the end of his life, have altogether forgotten perhaps what he
thought, said, or did on a certain day and hour--the place he was in and the
sin committed, etc.; but at that moment of judgment he will remember all. How
he will wish he had been good! How, then, can we be so careless now about a
matter of such importance, when we are absolutely certain that we too shall be
judged, and how soon we know not. When you are about to be examined on what
you have learned in school or instructions in six months or a year, how anxious
you are in making the necessary preparation, and how you fear you might not
pass, but be kept back for a while! How delighted you would be to hear that a
very dear friend, and one who knew you well, was to be your examiner! Prepare
in the same way for the examination you have to stand at the end of your life.
Every day you can make a preparation by examining your conscience on the sins
you have committed; by making an act of contrition for them, and resolving to
avoid them for the future. You should never go to sleep without some
preparation for judgment. But above all, try to become better aquainted with
your Examiner--Our Lord Jesus Christ; try by your prayers and good works to
become His special friend, and when your judgment comes you will be pleased
rather than afraid to meet Him.
A. The judgment we have to undergo immediately after death is called the
"Particular," because one particular person is judged.
A. The judgment which all men have to undergo on the last day is called the
"General." because every creature gifted with intelligence will be
judged on that day--the angels of Heaven, the devils of Hell, and all men,
women, and children that have ever lived upon the earth. The Holy Scripture
gives us a terrible account of that awful day. (Matt. 24--25). On some day--we
know not when, it might be tomorrow for all we know--the world will be going on
as usual, some going to school, others to business; some seeking pleasure,
others suffering pain; some in health, others in sickness, etc. Suddenly they
will feel the earth beginning to quake and tremble; they will see the ocean in
great fury, and will be terrified at its roar as, surging and foaming, it
throws its mighty waves high in the air. Then the sun will grow red and begin
to darken; a horrid glare will spread over the earth, beginning to burn up.
Then, says the Holy Scripture, men will wither away for fear of what is coming;
they will call upon the mountains to fall and hide them; they will be rushing
here and there, not knowing what to do. Money will be of no value then; dress,
wealth, fame, power, learning, and all else will be useless, for at that moment
all men will be equal. Then shall be heard the sound of the angelīs great
trumpet calling all to judgment. The dead shall come forth from their graves,
and the demons rush from Hell. Then all shall see our Blessed Lord coming in
the clouds of Heaven in great power and majesty surrounded by countless angels
bearing His shining Cross before Him. He will separate the good from the
wicked; He will welcome the good to Heaven and condemn the wicked to Hell. The
sins committed shall be made public before all present. Imagine your feelings
while you are standing in that great multitude, waiting for the separation of
the good from the bad. To which side will you be sent? Our Lord is coming,
not with the mild countenance of a saviour, but with the severe look of a
judge. As He draws nearer and nearer to you, you see some of your dear
friends, whom you thought good enough upon earth, sent over to the side of the
wicked; you see others that you deemed foolish sent with the good, and you
become more anxious every instant about the uncertainty of your own fate. You
see fathers and mothers sent to opposite sides, brothers and sisters, parents
and children, separated forever. Oh, what a terrible moment of suspense! How
you will wish you had been better and always lived a friend of God! The side
you will be on depends upon what you do now, and you can be on the better side
if you wish. Do, then, in your life what you would wish to have done at that
terrible moment. Learn to judge yourself frequently. Say this, or something
similar, to yourself.-- "Now I have lived twelve, fifteen, twenty, or more
years; if that judgment came today, on which side should I be? Probably on the
side of the wicked. If then I spend the rest of my life as I have lived in the
past, on the last day I shall surely be with the wicked. If my good deeds and
bad deeds were counted today, which would be more numerous? What, then, must I
do? It will not be enough for me simply to be better for the future--I must
try also to make amends for the past. If a man wishing to complete a journey
on a certain time, by walking a fixed number of miles each day, falls behind a
great deal on one day, he must not only walk the usual number of miles the
next, but must make up for the distance lost on the previous day. So in our
journey through this life we must do our duty each day for the future, and, as
far as we can, make up for what we have neglected in the past.
A. Christ judges men immediately after death to reward or punish them
according to their deeds.
A. The rewards or punishments appointed for menīs souls after the Particular
Judgment are Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
A. Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are
deprived of the sight of God for all eternity, and are in dreadful torments.
"Deprived of the sight of God," This is called the pain of loss, while
the other sufferings the damned endure are called the pain of sense--that is,
of the senses. The pain of loss causes the unfortunate souls more torment than
all their other sufferings; for as we are created for God alone, the loss of
Him--our last end--is the most dreadful evil that can befall us. This the
damned realize, and know that their souls will be tortured by a perpetual
yearning never to be satisfied. This is aggravated by the thought of how
easily they might have been saved, and how foolishly they threw away their
happiness and lost all for some miserable pleasure or gratification, so quickly
Besides this remorse, they suffer most frightful torments in all their senses.
The worst sufferings you could imagine would not be as bad as the sufferings of
the damned really are; for Hell must be the opposite of Heaven, and since we
cannot, as St. Paul says, imagine the happiness of Heaven, neither can we
imagine the misery of Hell. Sometimes you will find frightful descriptions of
Hell in religious books that tell of the horrible sights, awful sounds,
disgusting stenches, and excruciating pains the lost souls endure. Now, all
these descriptions are given rather to make people think of the torments of
Hell than as an accurate account of them. No matter how terrible the
description may be, it is never as bad as the reality. We know that the damned
are continually tormented in all their senses, but just in what way we do not
know. We know that there is fire in Hell, but it is entirely different from
our fire; it neither gives light nor consumes what it burns, and it causes
greater pain than the fire of earth, for it affects both body and soul. We
know that the damned will never see God and there will never be an end to their
torments. Now, all this is contained in the following: Hell is the absence of
everything good and the presence of everything evil, and it will last forever.
Now, a priest coming out to preach on Hell would not say to the people: "Hell
is the absence of everything good and the presence of everything evil, and it
will last forever," and then step down from the altar and say no more. He must
give a fuller explanation to those who are unable to think for themselves. He
must point out some of the evils present in Hell and some of the good things
absent, and thus teach the people how to meditate on these dreadful truths.
If, then, you bear in mind that there is nothing good in Hell and it will last
forever, and often think of these two points, you will have a holy fear of the
woeful place and a deep sorrow for your sins which expose you to the danger of
suffering its torments.
It should be enough, therefore, for you to remember: there is nothing good in
Hell, and it will last forever. Think of anything good you please and it
cannot be found in Hell. Is light good? Yes. Then it is not in Hell. Is
hope good? Yes. Then it is not in Hell. Is true friendship good? Yes. Then
it is not in Hell. There the damned hate one another. There the poor
sufferers curse forever those who led them into sin. Hence, persons should try
to bring back to a good life everyone they may have led into sin or scandalized
by bad example.
A. Purgatory is the state in which those suffer for a time who die guilty of
venial sins, or without having satisfied for the punishment due to their
"Punishment,"--that is, temporal punishment, already explained to you.
After the general judgment there will be Heaven and Hell, but no Purgatory, for
there will be no men living or dying upon the earth in its present condition to
go there. All will be dead and judged and sent to their final abodes. Those
in Purgatory are the friends of God; and knowing Him as they do now, they would
not go into His holy presence with the slightest stain upon their souls; still
they are anxious for their Purgatory to be ended that they may be with God.
They suffer, we are told, the same pains of sense as the damned; but they
suffer willingly, for they know that it is making them more pleasing to God,
and that one day it will all be over and He will receive them into Heaven.
Their salvation is sure, and that thought makes them happy. If, therefore, you
believe any of your friends are in Purgatory, you should help them all you can,
and try by your prayers and good works to shorten their time of suffering.
They will help you--though they cannot help themselves--by their prayers. And
oh, when they are admitted into Heaven, how they will pray for those that have
helped them out of Purgatory! If you do this great charity, God will, when you
die, put in some good personīs heart to pray for you while you suffer in
Purgatory. There must be a Purgatory, for one who dies with the slightest
stain of sin upon his soul cannot enter Heaven, and yet God would not send him
to Hell for so small a sin. But why does God punish those He loves? Why does
He not forgive everything? He punishes because He is infinitely just and true.
He warned them that if they did certain things they would be punished; and they
did them, and God must keep His promise. Moreover He is just, and must give to
everyone exactly what he deserves.
A. The faithful on earth can help the souls in Purgatory by their prayers,
fasts, almsdeeds; by indulgences, and by having Masses said for them.
A. There is need of a general judgment, though everyone is judged
immediately after death, that the providence of God, which, on earth, often
permits the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper, may in the end appear
just before all men.
"Providence of God," Sometimes here on earth we see a good man always in
want, out of employment, sickly, unsuccessful in all his undertakings, while
his neighbor, who is a very bad man, is wealthy and prosperous, and seems to
have every pleasure. Why this is so we cannot understand now, but Godīs reason
for it will be made known to us on the Day of Judgment. Sometimes the wicked
do good actions here on earth--help the poor, or contribute to some charity,
for instance; and as God on account of their wickedness cannot reward them in
the next world, He rewards them chiefly in this world by temporal goods and
pleasures. For all their good deeds they get their reward in this world, and
for the evil their punishment in the next. The good man who suffers gets all
his reward in the next world, that even his sufferings here atone partly for
the evil he has done.
A second reason for a general judgment is to show the crimes of sinners and the
justice of their punishment; also that the saints may have all their good works
made known before the world and receive the glory they deserve. On earth these
saints were sometimes considered fools and treated as criminals, falsely
accused, etc., and now the whole truth will stand out before the world. But
above all, the general judgment is for the honor and glory of Our Lord. At His
first coming into the world He was poor and weak; many would not believe Him
the Son of God, and insulted Him as an impostor. He was falsely accused,
treated shamefully, and was put to death, many believing Him guilty of some
crime. Now He will appear before all as He really is--their Lord and Master,
their Creator and Judge. How they will tremble to look upon Him whom they have
crucified! How all those who have denied Him, blasphemed Him, persecuted His
Church, and the like, will fear when they see Him there as Judge! How they
will realize the terrible mistake worldlings made!
A. Our bodies will share in the reward or punishment of our souls, because
through the Resurrection they will again be united to them.
A. The bodies of the just will rise glorious and immortal.
We honor the dead body and treat it with great respect because it was
the dwelling place of the soul and was often nourished with the Sacraments;
also because it will rise in glory and be united with the soul in the presence
of God forever. For these reasons we use incense and holy water when the body
is to be buried, and even bless the ground in which it is laid. "Faithful
departed" means all those who died in a state of grace and who are in
Heaven or Purgatory. They may be in Purgatory, and so we pray for them. We
pray that they may "rest in peace"--that is be in Heaven, where they will have
A. The bodies of the damned will also rise, but they will be condemned to
A. Heaven is the state of everlasting life in which we see God face to face,
are made like unto Him in glory, and enjoy eternal happiness.
The most delightful place we could possibly imagine as Heaven would not
be near what it really is. Everything that is good is there and forever, and
we shall never tire of its joys. All the pleasures and beauties of earth are
as nothing compared with Heaven; and though we think we can imagine its beauty
and happiness now, we shall see how far we have been from the real truth if
ever we reach this heavenly home.
"God face to face,"--that is, as He is. We shall not see Him with the
eyes of the body, but of the soul. That we may see with our natural eyes, two
things are necessary: first, an object to look at, and secondly, light to see
it. Now, to see God in Heaven we need a special light, which is called the
"light of glory." God Himself gives us this light and thus enables us to see
Him as He is. This beautiful vision of God in Heaven is called the "beatific
vision," and thus our whole life in Heaven--our joy and happiness--consists in
the enjoyment of the beatific vision.
A. We should bear always in mind these words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ: "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the
loss of his own soul, or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? For the
Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then will
He render to every man according to his works:
What does it benefit the poor creatures in Hell to have been rich, or
beautiful, or learned, or powerful? If they had been good, it was all that was
necessary to escape all their sufferings. Is there anything on earth that they
would not give to be released? Why, then, did they sell their souls for so
little while on earth? The present is the only time you have to merit Heaven
and escape Hell. The past you cannot recall, and of the future you are not
sure. Then use the present well and decide daily whether you wish to be in
Heaven or in Hell.