"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, February 25, 2018


by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

"God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification."--1.Thess. iv. 7

The epistle of this Sunday, my dear brethren, is principally occupied with a warning against the terrible vice of impurity, which in the times of our Lord and His Apostles was so fearfully prevalent in the heathen world that the conversion of the Christians of those times from it is of itself a sufficient, indeed a superabundant, proof of the divine power of their and our religion.

They had been partakers, not a few of them, in the almost universal corruption in the midst of which they lived. St. Paul, in another place, after speaking of those addicted to various shameful vices, says plainly to those to whom he is writing: "Such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God." "Such some of you were; but now you are washed"; that is, you practise these abominable vices no longer; you have become really pure and clean in soul and in body by the saving waters of baptism which have been poured upon you.

Thank God! we have not lost all claim to this honorable mark of purity, of which the Christians of that day could well be proud. But still there is not the broad line which then was plainly drawn in this matter, as in many others, between the faithful and the unbeliever. We mix in the world which surrounds us, still, no doubt, preserved to a great extent from the rottenness of pagan times by the savor of Christianity which it has kept, but verging more and more to its former corruption every day. And that world, by its strength, by its splendor, by its control of the arts and resources of life, wins our admiration and sets the fashion for us. It calls itself Christian for the most part, and we do not see how far from Christ it has gone. It even succeeds in being our teacher of morals. We think that what it recognizes as right and proper cannot be much out of the way, and what it regards as at the most an unavoidable weakness of human nature cannot really and truly be a mortal sin. And so, if we yield to its fatal influence and measure our actions by its false standard, it drags us down to the depths which it has already reached, and to the lower ones to which it is surely going.

We must, then, free ourselves from this yoke which it would put on us and understand that it is our duty, especially in this matter of holy purity, to teach the world, not to be taught by it. If it will not listen to us, we must at least give it the example which the first Christians gave to the more wicked one in the midst of which they lived. We must make it understand that we have our own laws and our own ideas with regard to this virtue, and that when the world's customs and maxims are plainly contrary to these laws and these ideas, we will despise them and trample them under our feet.

We know that it is not only actions evidently contrary to the letter of the Sixth Commandment that are forbidden by it, but also indecent words and immodest thoughts; we know that whatsoever is intended to suggest such thoughts is culpable in the same way as a direct temptation to sin would be. Whenever, therefore, this corrupt influence of the world comes to us, be it in the shape of an impure story such as those who do not know or do not submit to the strictness of God's judgment in these matters enjoy telling, or in that of indecent fashions set by those even in the highest social positions, such as unfortunately have gained ground in these last few years, or in any other form whatever; then is the time to show that we have our own creed and our own code of morals, which we are not going to surrender, whether the world believes in them or not. The current the other way is strong, I know; it always has been so, and always will be; but what is our faith good for if it does not hold us up against it? "

You are the salt of the earth," said our Divine Saviour to His disciples. And He added: "If the salt lose its savor it is good for nothing any more but to be cast out." Let us take care that these words do not apply to ourselves.


The Will of God, Your Sanctification
"Arise, and fear not."—St. Matt. xvii. 7.

My Dear Brethren: The two great obstacles to the service of God, which come from ourselves, are sluggishness and cowardice. We are beset with temptations, harassed by passions, and subject to sin; but, more than these, love of ease and cowardice take possession of our hearts. We are tempted to doubt whether we can free ourselves from our difficulties; we forget the words of the Apostle: "This is the will of God, your sanctification." Since, then, my dear brethren, God wills our sanctification, we too should will it, for God is ready to bestow upon us the means to attain it. So that far from being discouraged by the evils that surround us, and the spiritual difficulties under which we labor, we ought rather turn to God full of courage, having confidence in His promise that He will not deny us the grace necessary for us to obtain eternal life.

And so our Lord addresses to each one of us the words of this day's Gospel: "Arise, and fear not," words which show what ought to be our part, our attitude in the work of salvation. To each one of us He says: "Arise!" Arise from the dominion of your passions! Cast off the works of darkness! Throw off your self-imposed shackles of cowardice and fear! Be vigilant! Be free! Be what your baptism demands of you--children of God, co-operating with His grace in the work of your salvation. Do you not remember the days of your innocence? Were they not happy days? Have you found in the pursuit of sin and the gratification of your passions the peace which you enjoyed in the days in which you served God? No! There is no peace for the wicked; there is no peace for the sin-burdened conscience; peace is only through the Holy Spirit. Peace is His fruit—peace with ourselves and peace with God.

All the things of earth are as nothing compared with the peace of a good conscience. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our souls is a foretaste of the life of glory hereafter. We may lose riches, we may suffer dishonor, men may deprive us of our possessions and our good name, but they cannot rob us of God's holy Spirit. Him we may possess without fear of loss unless we ourselves are guilty of infidelity to His voice. Courage, then, for God is with us! And if God be with us, why should we fear? For who is God? Who is there like to God? Is there any in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, that can stand against His almighty power? Whom do we fear? Is it Satan? Long ages ago God's holy angel overcame him. Is it the world? Our Lord tells us: "I have overcome the world." Is it ourselves? Are we then such slaves to our passions that we can no longer exercise our reason, no longer make use of God's grace? Surely, things are not so bad with us as this! We can overcome our passions, we must overcome them. God's grace will not be denied us. We should "arise, and fear not," we should have courage, we should trust God. And conquer we shall if we but use the means that God in His mercy has put at our disposal. We shall conquer if we turn to the fountain of grace and drink deeply of its waters. If, in other words, we are constant in prayer and the use of the sacraments.

These are the arms with which God designs that we should fight! These are the arms which He has blessed! These are the arms on which He has impressed the sign of His almighty power. Armed with these and confident in Him who gave them to us, victory shall be ours. Arise, then, my dear brethren, and cast off fear! Put on the armor of light and follow after the banner of our Lord. He has gone before showing the way; we have but to follow. He fought the fight. He overcame the world, the flesh, the devil. So, too, may we if we are faithful followers in the way of the Cross. If we earnestly study the life of our Lord and are watchful for the breathing of the Holy Spirit, "Who breatheth where He will," we we shall find the yoke sweet and the burden light. "Arise, and fear not."