Back

August 20 (Eleventh PentecostOctave of the Assumption)
[Rejoicing with Mary]

1. INTROD.—This, we know, is one of the most joyful weeks of the year. Our Lord's Resurrection is, of course, pre-eminently [joyful] (and in like {113} manner His Nativity), as He is above all. But this week is unlike most other feasts connected with Him, and rather stands at the head of the saints' feasts, and this is its peculiarity. I will explain.

2. The one idea is congratulation. Congratulamini mihi, quia cum essem parvula. Congratulation is a special feeling. Not in Christmas, or [in] any act of His economy [or of] His Passion, not in Pentecost [nor] Corpus Christi, nor in the Sacred Heart, [do we congratulate]. We congratulate when some great good has come to another. We do not (strictly speaking) congratulate ourselves, though we may each other. We congratulate martyrs and saints, etc.

3. Now this life tells us what congratulation is. We congratulate persons on good fortune, which does not concern us [ourselves], on preferment, on a fortune, on escaping danger, on marriages and births, on honours, etc.

4. On Catholicity only [i.e. alone] realising unseen things and carrying human feelings into the supernatural world. Hence care of those who [have] departed—purgatory—heaven.

5. Now consider St. Paul's words. Gaudere cum gaudentibus, flere cum flentibus—congratulation and compassion, or pity [opposed to] two bad states of mind, [epichairokakia] and envy. Congratulation and compassion both disinterested and unselfish, but congratulation the more. What is so beautiful as to see in the case of brothers and sisters, (e.g.) where a younger rejoices in the gain of an elder, etc.

6. Now we congratulate Mary at this time of {114} year, after her long waiting—sixty years. What a purgatory! This very circumstance that all her life was God's, made the trial longer. But now, as Christ ascended, so has she.

7. But again, even this congratulation has often something selfish in it; men hope to get something for themselves through their promoted friend. This is true also in the supernatural order, but with this difference, that the one desire is good, the other evil.

8. We cannot covet unseen good. Again, we do not deprive another of it.

9. Hence we may rejoice selfishly in Mary's triumph.

10. We have a friend in court. She is the great work of God's love.

11. Foolish objection, as if [we asserted] she were more loving than God—a ring, e.g. a pledge of favour to a person, any favours will be granted.

12. Conclusion.

September 3 (Thirteenth Pentecost)
[Disease the Type of Sin]

1. INTROD.—About the ten lepers in the Gospel.

2. Description of leprosy as a disease. What it was.

3. It made the person (1) deformed—(describe)—swollen and disgusting; (2) it was lasting, not like a fever; (3) incurable.

4. Lepers were driven out of society, they were so loathsome; and they became like beasts. Travellers describe them now as outside the cities in troops. {115}

5. Now all this is sin. Go through the particulars, as the angels see it. Describe our souls.

6. Since we are one and all sinners, we do not understand it. But the angels must revolt from us, but for their love. We are an exception to the intellectual creation—except the devils.

7. Parallels: (1) a person with a bad temper; (2) a vulgar person—we shrink from them.

8. Yet our Saviour loved us, in spite of all this.

9. Enlarge on this. Take the cases of saints: (1) tending the leper; (2) sucking sores; (3) Father Claver with the Blacks; yet all this is nothing to Christ['s charity to us].

10. Here, to say nothing else, [is] difference from our Lady. She had never seen heaven.

But He came [from heaven] among us, and now gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. You know how we shrink from dirt, etc.

11. Thus we have at once two thoughts—humility and thankfulness. How can we be proud of anything we are? How can we not love Christ?

December 25
[Christmas Joy]

1. On the special beauty of the narrations of the Gospel, especially as regards our Lord's birth, and of these Luke ii. So much so, that unbelievers have called them myths.

2. Luke ii. Describe the scene. It sends us back to Paradise and to Adam and Eve, and to the Canticles. {116}

3. We might fancy [there had been] no fall. [We see] Christ, as if He did not come to die, and His immaculate Mother; the angels; the animals, as in Paradise, obeying man.

4. We all seem caught and transformed in its beauty—'from glory to glory'—as St. Joseph.

5. But, many Christmases as there have been, this has something peculiar. A crown given to Mary. The Feast of the Conception ever precedes Christmas, but this year something has been done.

6. This year, as you know, the Pope, in the midst of the bishops of the world, has defined the Immaculate Conception, viz. that Mary had nothing to do with sin.

7. We were sure that it was so. We could not believe it was not. We could not believe it had not been revealed. We thought it had, but the Church did not say it was, etc.

8. Not out of place here. As we sing to Mary when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, so now on today.

9. And we of The Oratory have a special interest in it. For our Church is raised under the invocation of Mary Immaculate; and, as queens give largesses on their great days, so now that this crown is put on her head, she has, we think, shown us especial favour.

10. You recollect, some of you, three years ago, our trials: the world flourishing (Achilli matter) my going to Ireland; Lady Olivia Acheson's illness and death; and the illness of three intimately connected with us. All this weighed us down. The Christmas midnight Mass three years ago. {117}

11. The contrast now: benefactions to our house and Church.

12. Our state in the University through your prayers.

13. We may expect trouble again—joy as if sorrowing, sorrowing as rejoicing. But God is all-sufficient.

August 19, 1855
Our Lady the Fulfilling of the Revealed Doctrine of Prayer

(Vide above, p. [21], August 11, 1850)

1. INTROD.—In this week we especially consider our Lady as rising to her doctrinal position in the Church. Her first feast and this. The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, both doctrines.

2. She is the great advocate of the Church. By which is not meant Atonement, of course. We know perfectly that she was saved by her Son. But she is His greatest work, and He has exalted her to this special office.

3. Hence from the first, advocata nostra. St. Irenaeus, and pictures at Rome in St. Agnese, etc.

Now to understand this, we must throw ourselves back into the world as it is by nature. Everything goes by law. This order is the most beautiful proof of God, but it is turned against Him, as if it could support itself.

Hence Revelation is an interruption and contravention—all of it miraculous. {118}

4. Now here we have a most wonderful doctrine of Revelation brought before us in its fulness, viz. the efficacy of prayer.

5. Nature uniform. How has prayer its power? Worship [we understand to be] right, and adoration and thanksgiving; but how petitioning and supplication?

6. This then is the marvel, and the comfort which Revelation gives us, viz. that God has broken through His own laws—nay, does continually.

7. This so much that prayer is called omnipotent.

8. Even Protestants grant all this. (Quote Thomas Scott.)

9. Now our Lady has the gift in fulness; not different from us except in degree and perfection. This is her feast.

10. Hence it is that the more we can go to her in simplicity, the more we shall get.

August 26 (Thirteenth Pentecost)
Thankfulness and Thanksgiving

1. The gospel of the day. Were not ten cleansed? etc.

2. Does not this event seem strange? Yet how thankless we are. We have all to condemn ourselves. There is nothing in which our guilt comes more home to us.

3. How we pray beforehand; how we petition again and again. Do we return thanks even once? {119}

4. I think this feeling comes upon men, that they are not equal [to the task]; that words will not do; and so they do nothing from being overpowered. And this grows into a habit; and thus, when we gain our object, we suddenly leave off our prayers and coldly accept the favour. But still we may show our gratitude by deeds and by recurrent remembrance. We might remember the day; we might perpetuate our gratitude.

5. 'Where are the nine?' and he, the tenth, was a Samaritan! (Other instances—woman at the well; good Samaritan.) It is a paradox which is fulfilled, that the less a man has the more he does. The centurion and the Syrophoenician.

6. When we have a number of blessings, we take them as our due. We do not consider that they are so many accumulated mercies. Thus the Jews especially, etc.

7. Now let us think what we can claim of God, and what He has done. Preservation perhaps implied de congruo in creation. But how much He has done for us! for each one in his own way—yet so much to every one, that every one is specially favoured—favoured as no one else.

8. Survey your life, and you will find it a mass of mercies.

9. Hence the saints, three especially—Jacob, David, St. Paul—are instances [of thanksgiving].

10. Close connection with hope and love. This gratitude is the greatest support of hope, and hence those saints who have been patterns of gratitude were patterns of hope.

11. On setting up memorials. {120}

12. Gratitude is even a kind of love, and leads to love. Against hard thoughts of God. Not [being] too proud to admit to ourselves, 'At least He is good to ME.'

September 2 (Fourteenth Pentecost)
Service of God Contrasted with Service of Satan

[Note 1]

1. No man can serve two masters.

2. This is true, even because they are two, but much more if [they are] opposed. In all things we must throw our heart into our work. It is the only way in which any work is done well. This is how men succeed in any line.

3. Yet, though this is certain, men forget it as to religion. They think to serve God without taking His service exclusively.

4. What is meant by exclusive service? Is it going out of the world? No. There are persons so called—but it is not that.

5. But [it is] subordinating all things to God's service. Whether we eat or drink, etc.

Parallel of worldly matters. A worldly man carries his aim into all things. He is thinking of his business wherever he is.

6. So in religion. And this is what is meant by loving God above all things. And this is why such love alone keeps us in God's favour.

7. To be religious, then, is not merely to have a {121} respect for religion, to do some of its duties, to defend it, to profess it, but

8. It is to live in God's presence; to know the whole economy of redemption.

9. Hence the necessity of meditation.

10. Warning, because the world is likely to crush out our religion.

September 9 (Fifteenth Pentecost)
Life of the Soul

1. INTROD.—Gospel [Luke vii. 11-16—raising to life of the son of the widow of Naim].

Our Lord's miracles are especially typical—(1) leprosy—heresy; (2) demoniac—cleansing the soul from the evil spirit; (3) blind—John ix.; (4) loaves—so this.

2. It brings before us the natural state of man—state of the whole world [typified in it].

3. What is meant is, not that man may not have natural powers, but [being lacking in] spiritual, that left to himself, he will know nothing of the unseen world. In one sense, then, the world is alive, in another dead.

4. It is in this sense that the soul is dead. Now if dead, observe the greatness of that death. (1) Dead men are without sense or feeling: so the soul as to heavenly things, motives, objects, etc. (2) [A dead body provokes] fear and odiousness: so the [dead] soul in the sight of angels and Almighty God.

5. (3) As to the outward form [of the dead] it is the same [as the living], and this suggests much. {122} (i) Imitation—Christianity in the world. (ii) Simulation, because they know more than they do, and pretend from shame. (iii) [Souls that are dead may still have] actual grace, [and] habits formed under it.

6. Yet in God's sight [they are] dead. Now consider Eph. ii. [see vv. 4 and 5]. [Note 2]

7. Now reflect on all this—the terrible state of the world—in detail; here, there and everywhere. Yet, as dead men do not know they are dead, neither does the world.

8. On Christ, the sole source of life, from today's gospel—Gal. ii.

9. On the love which life implies.

September 16 (Sixteenth Pentecost)
Septem Dolorum—Election

1. INTROD.—Nothing is, of course, so awful as the question of election, about which so much is said in Scripture. It is not to be supposed that I am going into any depths here.

2. The doctrine, as I shall take it, is this, and most practical; and I will first illustrate it.

3. Take the case of some large and new institution in a nation, which requires a great many new hands, e.g. a new department of revenue, a new commission, some speculation abroad, the post office, railroads, the war. {123}

4. Such an institution, especially if a speculation or expedition (1) promises great rewards to those who take part in it; (2) it is not for every one to get, but he must make interest; (3) no one will get part in, or receive the rewards of, if he does not join it.

5. Enlarge. As a question of justice. Suppose a man who went on with his own trade, etc., complaining that he had no part of the receipts of a speculation in which he took no part, etc.

6. Apply. Draw out the state of this world—its trades, occupations, aims; its science, literature, politics, etc. People may acquit themselves well, and get the reward of their occupation, which is the reward of this world, e.g. such as wealth, fame, etc., etc.

7. But a new system comes in. Almighty God proclaims a different reward, viz. eternal life to those who take part in His objects, etc. You see it is quite distinct from Nature.

8. Enlarge on the interest made to get a place—no claim because [a] good father, a good subject, etc., etc.

9. Here, then, we have the election. If we want to take part in it, we must join it.

10. The cross of Christ puts a different complexion on the whole of life. If a man takes up any new course, his old ways are flat in comparison.

11. Septem dolorum in connection—we must take part with her. {124}

September 23 (Seventeenth Pentecost)
Love of God

1. INTROD.—The gospel is the second which we have lately had on the precept of the love of God.

2. Nature tells us we should love God. Nay, a natural inclination and leaning to the love of God.

3. Still, it never will lead us to love. It fails for want of strength, and the feeling comes to nothing and dwindles, as a tree of the south planted in the north. Grace essential.

4. On pure love of God—illustrate—single, real, for Himself, e.g. we are to love men propter Deum, thus not propter [seipsos], etc., which is Nature. If, then, we love God by association [sic], or merely for His benefits, etc., it is not enough.

Love delights in the name of God, likes to hear of Him, likes to think of Him, likes to act for Him, [is] zealous for His honour and a champion for His cause.

5. But this is not all. It is not merely looking at what does not notice us, as the Pantheists say. It is a friendship. Three things are necessary for friendship: (1) mutual love; (2) mutual consciousness and sympathy; (3) mutual intimacy—intercourse. Companions, walking with God, Luke xxiv [Note 3]? Apply to confidence in God's loving us.

6. But this is not all—dilectio: choice. And no common choice, but above all things.

7. Thus it is pure, amicable, mutual and sovereign.

8. Now to see what it is, we may see what it is {125} not; and parallel it to worldly principles. Take the course of men.

9. (1) They begin with self-indulgence and self-gratification. Here is something which is not love, yet acts as love does.

10. (2) Perhaps ambition, martial spirit. This possesses them—this not love.

11. (3) Love of home: [a man is] a good father, a good son, [devotes himself to such duty with] concentration of mind [Note 4]—this not love.

12. (4) He gets wealthy, and is tempted to make wealth his enoughthis not love.

13. (5) Love of consistency, character; self his centre—this not love.

14. (6) Ease and comfort in old age—this not love.

15. How are we to gain love? By reading of our Lord in the Gospels.

December 25
Christmas Day

1. INTROD.—Today a change in the history of mankind. Many important eras and seasons—this the most important. And it is described in various terms in the services [of the feast]. Melliflui facti sunt coeli, etc.

2. All things created good; but man is fallen.

3. Man fell, and the angels fell before him; but the case of the two is different. The angels were pure spirits, and have but one nature; man has two {126} natures. Angels are spirit, but man is made up of soul and body. An angel is good or bad: if good, [there is] nothing to resist the good; if bad, nothing to resist the bad. If they fell, they fell once for all. If man fell, there is a contest between the flesh and spirit, reason and passion.

4. Man not simple [in his nature]; [he is made up of] two principles. Illustration of these two formidable principles in man, by comparison to man and beast. In each heart of man there is what may be called man's true nature and beast's nature. Power of wild animals. The wild principle of man has carried him away.

5. It first showed itself in the fall itself—passion—then Cain and Abel. Thence it swept over the world. Wars, murder, injustice, sensuality, crimes of all sorts.

6. Thus things [went] continually from bad to worse, and did Almighty God suffer it, there is no depth to which man would not descend. In 1600 years [he had become] so bad that [God sent] the deluge.

7. The earth restored; but how vainly! Man soon got almost as bad as before. He cast off God; he set up idols; he tyrannised over others. He went on to found states, and he impressed sin upon them—idolatry mixed up with politics, with all the usages of society—marriages, business contracts, births, deaths and burials, recreations and institutions. And the raising temples and stamping it on the great cities, and then misusing and devoting the creature to idolatry, Rom. viii. [20] [Note 5]. {127} And thus sin got so established as to exert a tyranny over each individual. Those who would have been better [were victims of] bad education, ridicule, persecution.

8. And then the struggles of the unregenerate and remorseful.

9. Who can estimate the entire establishment of evil? In vain judgments, God's pleadings, etc.

10. Now this being so, was it not plain that if there was to be a change, God alone could do it? If a Redeemer, He must be God. So this is the great event now [beginning].

11. Yet not at once a bloody combat, but a little child.

May 25, 1856 (Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi)
[Devotion to the Holy Eucharist]

1. INTROD.—There is no feast, no season in the whole year which is so intimately connected with our religious life, or shows more wonderfully what Christianity is, as that which we are now celebrating. There is a point of view in which this doctrine [of the Body and Blood of Christ] is nearer to our religious life than any other. And now I will explain what I mean.

The Holy Trinity unseen. The Nativity, Easter, etc., past. But this is the record of a present miracle, a present dispensation of God towards us.

2. [In devotion there is always] one difficulty to {128} counteract. Our Lord came 1800 years ago. How shall we feel reverence of what took place 1800 years ago? We are touched [with] pity, gratitude, love, by what we see. None of us have seen or heard even those, who saw those who saw those who saw Him.

How shall we learn to live under the eye of God? Now we know how difficult it is to keep up the memory of things. Then again, books, how little can they do for us! It is a great thing to be moved [even] once in a way by a book, but we cannot count upon their moving us habitually. Accordingly an historical religion, as it is called, is a very poor and inefficacious [a word illegible]. We see it in the case of Protestants. Their religion is historical, in consequence they speak of Christ as a mere historical personage—the titles they give Him, etc., etc.—there is a want of reality, etc.

This is one difficulty in the way of practical devotion.

3. A second difficulty. The world is in wickedness. Satan is god of the world; unbelief rules. Now this opposition to us has a tendency to weigh us down, to dispirit us, to dull our apprehensions, etc.

These are two extreme difficulties in the way of religion.

Now observe,

4. How almighty love and wisdom has met this. He has met this by living among us with a continual presence. He is not past, He is present now. And though He is not seen, He is here. The same God who walked the water, who did miracles, etc., {129} is in the Tabernacle. We come before Him, we speak to Him just as He was spoken to 1800 years ago, etc.

5. Nay, further, He [does] not [merely] present Himself before us as the object of worship, but God actually gives Himself to us to be received into our breasts. Wonderful communion. Texts—Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

6. This [is] how He counteracts time and the world. It [the Blessed Sacrament] is not past, it is not away. It is this that makes devotion in lives. It is the life of our religion. We are brought into the unseen world.

7. These thoughts are fitly entertained, and themselves increased at this season, when St. Philip's day comes. Quote passages in his life to show his delight in the Blessed Sacrament. He has died on this day. We cannot have a better preparation for his, than this, feast.

8. Let us rejoice in Jesus, Mary, Philip.

July 27 (Eleventh Pentecost)
[On the Healing of the Deaf and Dumb Man]

1. INTROD.—We read these words in today's gospel, 'They bring unto Him,' etc. [Note 6]

2. The man is cured, and two things go to his cure—Christ's word and act, and His disciples bring {130} him to Him. Christ does not heal without His disciples, and they cannot heal except as bringing to Him.

3. So it is now—the great ordained system—Christ the Author of Grace, and His friends whom He brings round Him, and makes His family, the step towards obtaining grace by prayer.

4. Christ can do all things. He created, He redeemed without any one else; but He saved [saves?] through the co-operation of others—by the saints above and the Church below.

5. Christ can do all things—He gives grace too, and it is only by His ordained system—merit a promise—a contract, etc., etc.

6. Christ can do all things, and He does not confine Himself to [co-operation of] others, so far as this, that all over the earth, external to His Church, He hears those who call on Him. He has many ways. Every one has a guardian angel. Case of Hagar.

7. But He does this to bring them on into His Church, that they too may become His friends.

8. And it must be recollected that the Holy Church Universal is praying everywhere [for them]. Mass [continually offered].

9. Abraham and Moses. God reveals that His friends may pray, 'I say not that I will ask the Father,' etc. [Note 7]

Therefore it is that we call our Lady our advocate, and the saints intercessors; for our Lord has made {131} over this lower office to them, and stands in the higher, of the Giver of grace.

10. Thus the salvation of the world is in our hands, [e.g. of]

11. England—Birmingham.

12. Therefore let us pray.

August 29 (Fifteenth Pentecost)
[The Raising to Life of the Son of the
Widow of Naim—Luke vii. 11-16]

1. INTROD.—The Holy Fathers are accustomed to derive a spiritual lesson from the miracle recorded in the gospel of this day. It was a miracle exercised on one, but it was a sort of specimen of what takes place by God's love so often. It was done once, but it images what occurs continually.

2. This was a young man borne out to his burial, and his mother is weeping over him.

The mother is the Church, who has born him in baptism, when he was born again and became her child.

He has fallen away, and is dead in sin. He is here carried on his way, like Dives, to be buried in hell.

3. How awfully he is carried forth! Slowly, but sure, as the course of a funeral.

Describe his odiousness—death so fearful, every one shrinks from the sight. Children in the streets turn away. Those only bear it who love the corpse, or have duties towards it. So with the soul. How {132} angels must shrink from the dead soul!—the guardian angel bears it. How horrible it looks even [if in] venial sin, much more in mortal!

The mother bears it—the Church does not excommunicate.

4. Its bearers are four: (1) pride, (2) sensuality, (3) unbelief, (4) ignorance. We see these from Adam's original sin, and they are in every sinner, though perhaps in a different order in different persons. There are those who go on, through God's mercy, in the right way. But I am speaking of cases of sin.

5. Now I believe generally pride comes first—obstinacy of children; disobedience; quarrelling; refusing to say prayers; avoiding holy places, etc. Thus the soul being left open to the evil one, he proceeds to assault it with sensuality.

6. Sensuality. A person does not know when he is proud, but this [sensuality] need not be described, for every one who yields to it knows what it is. God has set a mark upon it, the mark of sting of conscience, because it is so pleasant; whereas pride is unpleasant to the person who exercises it.

7. Thirdly, unbelief. Pride and sensuality give birth to unbelief. A man begins to doubt and disbelieve.

8. Fourth, ignorance. At last he does not know right from wrong.

9. And thus a soul is led out to be buried, to be buried in hell. And how many reach that eternal tomb!

10. Wonderful electing grace of God, choosing {133} one and not another, coming without merit—the Church cannot do it.

11. We all have received it [this electing grace] without merit. Let us prize it when we have it.

September 7 (Seventeenth Pentecost)
[Love of Our Neighbour]

1. INTROD.—Sometimes it is said that there is one, sometimes two, great commandments. Charity is the great commandment. Though properly the love of God, it involves love of neighbour.

2. We have not seen God. How are we to ascertain that we love Him? Feelings are deceptive. Thus, as by a test, by loving others, by love of man. And so St. John says, 1 John iv. [12].

3. First, we should love man merely as the work of God. If we love God, we shall love all His works. Undevout men walk about, and look round, and they never associate what they see with God; but everything is the work of God. And though we should not be superstitious, we should destroy nothing without a reason. Cruelty to animals [is] as if we did not love God, their Maker; nay, wanton destruction of plants.

4. Thus, even if mankind were of a different species, as fellow-beings [they would have] a relationship [to us].

5. But they are of our blood, Acts xiv. Adam [our one father].

6. And all involved in Adam's sin—the sympathy {134} of sin, as all in sin, in misery and transgression, and in danger of ruin.

7. Hence Gen. xviii. [Note 8], Ps. cxviii. 139 [Note 9]. St. Paul, Rom. ix. [3] [Note 10], Acts xvii. [26] [Note 11]. Our Lord weeping over Jerusalem. Missionaries to heathen countries, as St. Augustine who came here.

8. Of course, zeal for God also [moved these to heroism], but the sight of souls dying [more directly].

9. Still more if Christians, for then we are brought near to God. He who dwelt in solitary light once, now has round Him a circle of holy beings, so that we cannot love Him without loving them. Hence the glory paid to saints, as His garment.

10. Besides, we love the divine attributes and character in the saints: 'He who loveth God, loveth His brother also.'

11. This the condemnation of those who oppose the Church.

12. On the other hand—love of saints—love of our Lady as God's mother, [a] sign of predestination. She the great work [i.e. the greatest of God's works] and the glory of our race. Let us at this season beg her to make us full of that love of herself, and of all those who have God's grace, and of all whom God has made. {135}

September 28 (Twentieth Pentecost)
Seven Dolours

1. INTROD.—The most soothing of all the feasts of Mary. What a contrast the first portion of the Blessed Virgin's history is to the latter! We sinners have no sympathy with the first part of her life. She had nothing but joy, increasing up to that day which heralded its reverse. It was at the height of her earthly joy that the reverse began—her seven dolours.

We say seven, but that is a perfect number only; her woes were continuous.

2. Go through her life—Presentation, Annunciation, Visitation, the Nativity, Shepherds, Magi, Purification—and then we hear of a sword. And the flight into Egypt; avoiding Herod; loss of our Lord in the Temple; death of St. Joseph; [our Lord] leaving her to preach; [His] crucifixion and [her] bereavement.

3. Parallels of Moses, Deut. xxviii. Solomon at dedication; and Transfiguration with prophecy of suffering and so riding in triumphantly into Jerusalem, and 'Crucify Him!'

4. Yet in truth it would seem that she knew it all from the first, though we don't know when it was told her. This is something which equalises the two [portions of her life]—the knowledge beforehand [of her woes]. And it is this which gives a character to her whole life. All through that first calm time, she knew it was but the stillness before the {136} storm, and she could not enjoy what was so joyful. All along there was the vision of One lifted on the cross, and the sword pierces her heart.

5. Describe the cross—and she by it! This is the key of her life on earth.

6. Ignorance is bliss—animals, men [even] do not know what is to happen to them.

7. And this was the peculiarity of her life. [Bodily] pain, trouble, etc., come at fixed times and go, but it is otherwise with mental: foresight and memory make them continuous. This is the sword in Mary's heart, the peculiarity of it being that it is mental.

8. And again she did nothing—only suffered—did nothing indeed, except in internal acts. A champion acts, and a martyr acts. Hers was mere suffering.

9. And especially the sight of the suffering of another which we cannot help. A mother seeing her child suffer. Case of Hagar.

10. Many a wife, many a mother stands by and says, 'O that I could take a part!' Martyrs declaring themselves, and suffering because others were. [Yet Mary suffered] not like Hagar [Note 12], but like the brave mother in the Maccabees.

11. This is the compassio of Mary.

12. Suitable to us, most soothing of feasts: for mental pain more widely spread than bodily, in this age especially. Care, anxiety from difficulty of livelihood,—[those terrors of an] intellectual age—madness and heartache; remorse at sin. In all Mary is our sympathy and comfort, etc., etc. {137}

October 12 (Twenty-second Pentecost)
The Maternity of Mary

1. INTROD.—There is no feast of our Lady which comprehends so much as this. It is a sort of central feast. It connects all that is taught about her in one.

2. A number of feasts look towards it—the [Immaculate] Conception, Birth, Purification, Visitation, Nativity. Her becoming a mother is the scope in which they end. For this all her graces, etc., because she was to be the Mother of God, and a temple set apart for Him.

3. What is meant by being the Mother of God? Mother of the Person of the Son—God's blood—God's flesh, etc., and so God's Mother.

4. So high an office required a due preparation, as St. John the Baptist or the apostles, but much more.

5. And the reward and power [were in] proportion. Monstra te esse Matrem.

6. And thus we are brought to that other set of doctrines included in the Maternity. For she is our mother as well as God's. And thus this feast becomes not only one of the most wonderful, but of the most soothing.

7. Two natures in Christ—so she was mother of Him who was God as well as man. 'Behold I and my children,' etc., Heb. ii. 13.

8. Hence, 'Behold thy Son—[Behold] thy Mother,' John xx.

9. Here is its connection with the seven dolours. {138} Her first birth without pain; her birth of us with pain.

10. It became her who was to be a mother to us, to be so far like other mothers as to have pain.

11. On the constant, unwearied affection of a mother's love; (on many not having experienced it) but nothing extinguishes it. The father gives up the son, brothers despair of him, but she remains faithful to the end, hopes against hope, does not mind slights, ingratitudes, etc.

12. Here you have the maternity of Mary. You cannot weary her, she never reproaches, etc. Therefore do we pray her to help us in the hour of death, for she will not leave us.

13. Especially as men get old and lose their earthly relations and those who knew them when young.

14. Who are our constant friends but our guardian angel, who has been with us since our youth, and Mary, who will be with us to the end?

October 19 (Twenty-third Pentecost)
Purity of Mary

1. INTROD.—If there is one thing more than another which marks Christianity, it is the honour given to virginity. We, who have ever heard the doctrine, cannot fancy how it must come upon the heathen at the beginning by the contrast.

2. And indeed the Holy Fathers appeal to it from the first as a great miracle. When we consider the state of the heathen, etc. So wonderful that {139} numbers of persons should be found who were willing to debar themselves even of the marriage state, living in chastity.

3. Moses, Aaron, the Priests, the Prophets.

4. Nay, the Jews—hardness of the heart, divorce, polygamy.

5. Nay, celibacy was not held in honour even from a religious reason. They each wished to be mother of the Messias.

6. Hence the force of the prophecy, 'A virgin shall conceive.' And when the time came, St. John the Baptist went before Him a virgin. He Himself, the Messias, pre-eminently such; and His Virgin Mother, and His favourite disciple, the other John, St. Paul, and all of them, either gave up their wives or had none.

7. Hence we see the force of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. A new thing was coming upon the earth. It was fitting that it should begin with a new beginning, as Adam's at the first—of grace before sin.

8. A new thing, though Joshua [Note 13], Elias, Eliseus.

9. The heathen philosophers, stern, proud, etc., whereas, St. Gregory insists, humility must be with chastity, and our Lady a special instance of humility.

10. But further, the celibacy of false religions has been negative—the absence of love.

11. This indeed is what is imputed to us—blighted affections. The peculiarity of Christian celibacy is that it is from love to God—'and followed Thee.' St. Jerome in Breviary. {140}

12. The more we love God, the more we are drawn off from earth.

13. The Blessed Virgin's Purity arose from the excess of her love.

December 25 (Christmas Day)
Omnipotence in Subjection

1. INTROD.—(1) They say that love does not reason, i.e. so intent on [its] object that it does not regard itself or its own feelings; and so of adoration and praise. Thus Christ was born in silence; not a word from our Lady or St. Joseph, or the shepherds or the magi. The angels indeed, but very briefly.

And thus, I suppose, we all feel little disposed to speak today, as interfering with enjoyment. (2) A second reason is, because love has so many thoughts which reason cannot draw out fully and do justice to. Or, if we preach, we do it for the honour of the day.

2. If we speak, the first natural thought [is] that every feast, as it comes, is the best. Nothing like Christmas. But really we have reason to say so. Easter is the higher, but the sufferings of Christ, which we contemplated, are a shock which sudden reversal to good does not remove. And our own sin and penance [have preceded it] [Note 14]. But Christmas [is] as if we had never sinned. Some divines think that Christ would have come into the world though man had not sinned. Thus this feast has not necessarily the idea of sin in it, though in fact {141} Christ came for our sin. Seeing the end from the beginning, as Moses seeing the [promised] land, through a valley of conflicts.

3. But if, for the honour of the day, I must take one thought or lesson to put before you, it shall be the adorable marvelousness of what may be called the humiliation of the Divine Being, as at this time of year. (1) Omnipotent—what He can do—create and destroy worlds—He can do what He will, therefore it would seem that God could not humble Himself. (2) Idea that God is so high that He cannot listen to man. (3) For consider who He is. [He has] no [obligation of] justice towards us, as none on our part towards beasts. (4) If He only attended to us (texts to the contrary, Isa. lvii.—'Inhabiteth eternity'; 'Shall God dwell on earth?' [Note 15] If 'Emmanuel' only meant this). (5) But He has taken our nature.

4. Now observe particulars. (1) Nine months in His mother's womb; (2) swathing bands; (3) infant—carried about, etc.: Simeon—Egypt; (4) subject to them, when He even displayed what He really was; (5) worked at trade; (6) laid hold of, as beside Himself; (7) His Passion; (8) His Crucifixion; (9) now in Tabernacle; (10) in our breasts.

5. Example to us. We are most of us in subjection; why not sanctify it?

6. This St. Philip [did] by sacraments, humility, detachment, purity, and joy or peace, and cheerfulness. {142}

December 28 (SundayHoly Innocents)
Suffering

1. INTROD.—The three feasts about Christmas, as if to tame down its joy, bring before us suffering.

2. And so the events about our Lord's Nativity: (1) Circumcision, (2) Purification, '[a] sword,' etc., (3) Epiphany—massacre of infants.

3. Remarkable that the children should suffer, because it is the age of innocence.

4. It suggests to us the doctrine of original sin—that man has fallen. Pain would not be, with man upright. Here then we have a proof that man is under God's displeasure—pain not death.

5. Sufferings of children: (1) from illness, (2) from cruel parents, etc. Nothing worse than to see a helpless child in great pain.

6. But, however, the Holy Innocents were otherwise circumstanced. This martyrdom was an [entrance] into the Church. Their sufferings meritorious.

7. St. Rose and other holy women, who inflicted on themselves penances extraordinary.

8. The Church like a joint-stock (all who share it must be cleansed).

9. Let us rejoice in this feast then; particularly it is for mothers whose children suffer. All the sufferings of baptized children merit, and all innocent profit in suffering.

10. Let us thank Him who turned sufferings of children to account.

11. The merits of saints ever growing, of martyrs, and souls going from purgatory to heaven; of children suffering and dying in infancy. {143}

January 4, 1857 (Octave of Holy Innocents)
Passage of Time

1. INTROD.—All times, all days are the beginning of a year, but especially when the date changes.

2. Time, as present, is momentary, as future, is unknown, as past, is irrevocable.

3. As present, momentary. No standing still. While we speak, it goes. We are all older when we leave this church than when we enter it. Whether it be joy or sorrow, it goes. We look forward to a great day; we keep a great festival. It comes once in a year. [As] grains in an hour-glass, it is gone ere it is well come.

4. And on what road is this swift time driving? On a road of darkness. We are every moment entering and driving along an unknown future—on a steam-engine on a railroad in the dark. Accidents may happen any moment. Unseen dangers waiting for us. Balaam and the angel. Hence Jacob asking God's blessing on his journey. St. Raphael. We are not merely journeying, we are rushing forward, and to what?

5. To judgment. On the importance of time.

6. Thirdly, the past is irrevocable. What would we give to wipe out much!

7. On the necessity of taking good heed how we spend time. Counsel of perfection never to misuse time. Vow by some saints.

8. Desideria efficacia et sterilia.

9. Let us begin the new year well. {144}

April 5 (Palm Sunday)
Falling Away

1. INTROD.—Too awful a subject commonly, as leading [men] to despond; yet useful sometimes, and natural at this season.

2. Now first let us lay down about nature and grace—[that] nature can do many things, but cannot bring to heaven. Grace is like a new nature, and joins us to the heavenly family; and they are saved who die with this grace; those lost who are without it.

3. This answers the question: Will good departed from avail? As some Protestants say, 'Look how a man lives, not how he dies'—(explain).

4. Proof, Ezech. xviii. [24]. And rightly, for the sovereign Lord of heaven can prescribe His terms.

5. Now this chapter leads to a further thought, viz. that much as is said to encourage repentance, as much perhaps is said to warn against falling, as if the prospect, or chance, or issue on the whole were equal.

6. E.g. our Lord, 'I came not to call.' But on the other hand, recollect the number of passages such as 'Two shall be in the field'; 'Ten virgins'; 'He that persevereth,' etc.; 'Many that are first,' etc.

7. So St. Paul, preacher of repentance: but Heb. vi. [4-6] [Note 16].

8. So holy Simeon, 'This child [for the fall, {145} and for the resurrection of many in Israel,' Luke ii. 34].

9. This text of holy Simeon especially fulfilled at Passion, when two special examples.

10. Multitude on Palm Sunday, vide their being in grace [implied] in the prayers [second and last] in the Blessing of Palms. Cp. our Lord's weeping—disappointment of the foolish virgins.

11. Judas. Our Lord chose him when he was in grace—trace about him—'the ten indignant,' Mark x. 32, etc. [Note 17]

12. Some fall away at one age, some at another. Go through this.

13. On natural habits produced by supernatural acts deceiving the old.

14. Our Lady. Prayer—pray lest we fall, if we fall, and for others.

Continue

Top | Contents | Works | Home


Notes

1. 'Not preached.'
Return to text

2. 'But God … even when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together in Christ.'
Return to text

3. The journey to Emmaus.
Return to text

4. I.e. without reference to God: not for His greater honour and glory.
Return to text

5. 'For the creature was made subject to vanity.'
Return to text

6. 'They bring unto him one deaf and dumb; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him.'—Mark vii. 32.
Return to text

7. 'In that day you shall ask in My Name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you.'—John xvi. 26-27.
Return to text

8. Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Return to text

9. 'My zeal hath made me pine away: because my enemies forgot thy words.'
Return to text

10. 'I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren.'
Return to text

11. 'He hath made of one all mankind.'
Return to text

12. 'I will not see the boy die.'—Gen. xxi. 16.
Return to text

13. See Note 10, p. 338.
Return to text

14. See Note 11, p. 338.
Return to text

15. 'Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth?'—3 Kings viii. 27.
Return to text

16. 'For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, … and are fallen away, to be renewed again to penance.'
Return to text

17. At the request of the sons of Zebedee.
Return to text

Top | Contents | Works | Home


Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.