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Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God.  It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly.  Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful.  However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.

 

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With the help of modern technology, it has become easier to overcome these problems.  The result is the Roman Breviary published by the Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul in both Latin and English.  No knowledge of the liturgy is required.  All you have to do is click on the feastday, and then on the Canonical Hour you want to say.  The rest is just like reading a book—everything is laid out for you in order according to the rubrics of the day.  No more flicking through the ribboned sections of a weighty volume.  No more apprehension that you are forgetting some obscure rubric.  It's all there spelled out, in order, every day.

 

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Link to the Office for the Feast of St. Pius X, our secondary patron.  You can browse through the various Hours of the Office and get a feel for what to expect.

 

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  Third Sunday after Epiphany

January 25, 2015

Be Thou Healed

 There are two miracles in today’s Gospel. Two events, apparently unrelated, in which Our Lord performs a miracle, curing first the leper, and then the centurion’s servant from his palsy. If we look closer at these two miracles, we may see that they aren’t quite as unconnected as they first appear. In fact these two events are shown to us together in order to give us the two halves of a single message.

What do the leper and the Roman centurion have in common? They were both shunned by the people of God. In Jewish law, lepers were kept apart from society and no one was allowed to go near them. Their leprosy was seen as a punishment from God for their sins, and they were regarded therefore as unholy creatures to be spurned and avoided. And the Roman soldier? He was a pagan, a Gentile, and therefore also to be shunned by the Jews who looked down on all those who were not of the chosen people of God.
So when Our Lord put out his hand and touched the leper, curing him of his disease, he was giving a very new and surprising lesson to the onlookers. They must have wondered what on earth he was doing even speaking to this unclean and sinful man. He had certainly grabbed their attention. And while they watched in amazement as the scars of leprosy disappeared, and face and limbs were restored to health before their very eyes, those men of good will who observed this miracle must have been convinced that there was something very special about this man from Galilee who could work miracles and cure the sick.

And so they gave him their attention. They watched to see what he would do next. At first, probably, they were so enthralled by the magnitude of the miracle they had just witnessed that they paid no attention to the lesson behind it. It didn’t sink in that Our Lord was doing the unthinkable. That the miracle had been performed on someone universally regarded as unworthy of any communication or kindness. This lesson had to be reinforced. And so when the Roman centurion approached Our Lord, beseeching him to cure his servant who was sick of the palsy, Our Lord turned to him and did the unthinkable again. Not only did he speak with this pagan, but he offered to go to his home. And when the centurion assured him that this was not necessary and that he could cure him from where he was standing, Our Lord actually did just that, healing the servant of this foreign occupier of the Jewish homeland.

This is a tremendously important lesson that Our Lord gives us today. That he performed miracles of healing for these two outcasts, the leper and the pagan Roman, this is something we as Catholics should heed carefully. Like anything else in life there’s a right way and a wrong way to treat outsiders, and Christ has just shown us the way to behave. It’s the usual story of taking the middle road between two extremes.

On the one hand, traditional Catholics are very fond of the doctrine that “outside the Church there is no salvation”. What exactly does that mean? We all know it refers to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the rock of Peter. So how are to think of those who are outside that Church? Those for whom there is “no salvation”? Are we perhaps tempted to look down on those outside the Church with contempt, calling them names like godless infidels, evil heretics, schismatics, apostates, condemning them to hell with “righteous zeal”?

This approach is hardly worthy of a true Catholic, whose life should be governed by charity. Surely we should see those outside the Church as lost children of God, souls in need of salvation, fellow travelers in this vale of tears who have not yet found the way home? We must never exhibit any eagerness to condemn these lost wanderers for whom Christ died on the Cross that they be converted and live.

And certainly, it’s not the way they were considered by the Catholic Church before Vatican II. At that time, there existed the same division it was true. The world was composed of two groups: Catholics, who formed the Mystical Body of Christ, and who were to be raised and nurtured with the doctrines of the Faith, the graces of the Sacraments, and the authority of the ten commandments; and then there were the non-Catholics, those who had to be brought to the light of this same Faith, who had to be given the opportunity of joining the true Church. Thus we had missionaries who were sent by Rome throughout the world, converting pagans to the Faith, fulfilling the commandment of Christ that his apostles should go into the world, teaching and baptizing in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

But then along came that terrible council of apostasy in 1962, carrying us into a whole new view of those outside the Church. Now, apparently, we have as much to learn from them as they have from us, we must pat them on the head and congratulate them on their errors, assuring them that they have as much right to believe their falsehoods as we do to believe the truths that Christ taught us. Doctrine is reduced to the level of opinion, where all are equally entitled to believe whatever they want. This is the opposite extreme from the over-eagerness to condemn those outside the Church. It is just as bad if not worse than the other extreme. Worse, because we fall into the sin of accepting error as being on an equal level as truth. And worse, because under the pretense of charity, we encourage these poor lost souls to remain in such mortal peril. What utter hypocrisy! What a terrible scandal that we would give non-Catholics such false hope! What an absolute perversion of Christ’s instructions to convert infidels to the truth.

Look again at today’s Gospel. Did Our Lord merely welcome the leper and pat him on the head with words of nonsense that it’s just as fine and dandy to be a leper as a healthy person? No! He cured him! He took away his leprosy and made him whole! Did he turn to the pagan centurion and congratulate him for giving worship to pagan gods? No! On the contrary. He commended him for the faith he showed in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He commended his true faith: “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel!” Today, we can imagine Our Lord looking down on the false ecumenism of Vatican II and saying the same thing. “Verily, I say unto you non-Catholics, I haven’t found such great faith, no, not even in Rome.” And the fate of the Vatican II Church shall be the same as the fate of Israel.

As Catholics holding the true and traditional faith, we must practice moderation in all things. Let’s not overreact to the modernist error of false ecumenism by behaving with the opposite error. The Jews did that. They shunned the non-Jews, treated them almost like non-humans. That was not the way of Christ, and it must not be our way either. First he allows them to approach him, reciprocating their advances with charity, welcoming them. But then he cures them of what ails them. We must never shun those of good will who ask questions about what we believe. Instead, our role is to show them the truth. Then, if they are of good will, they will have the opportunity of cooperating with the graces God gives them to accept that truth.

Sadly there are also those who are not of good will. No matter how many times or in how many ways it is explained to them, they still freely choose evil over good, they freely choose to reject God and accept Satan. These, alas, must be left to go their own way. However, for even these enemies of God, we must always show charity. Even as the Church excommunicates them, so is she ready to extend her arms in welcome the moment they reject the wickedness of the devil and return to their true home as children of God. We may sometimes find ourselves compelled to avoid those who live in sin, or who would corrupt us or our children with their evil ways. But even as we shun those who freely choose evil, we must still be prepared to feed these our enemies if they are hungry, or give them drink when they thirst. Saint Paul says so in in today’s Epistle, explaining that in so doing, we heap coals of fire on the demons that have led them into temptation. Thus we overcome evil with good.

Speaking of St. Paul, it is the feastday today of his conversion. It’s another example of Our Blessed Lord curing the diseased, this time of an evil persecutor of the Church. This was no ordinary conversion, as Saul, now with the name Paul, went on to become the Apostle of the Gentiles, converting many thousands of others to the Church of Christ.

In all three of the healings we witness today in the Gospel and the feastday of St. Paul, Our Lord conquered evil by his mercy and love. This must be our strategy too. Whatever the evil around us, whatever the suffering it may cause us, we shall never overcome it by arguments and discussions, or by taking a stand and adhering rigidly to it. This can only be accomplished by a delicate charity that understands the way the other person thinks, and the motivations that make him act. Only this true charity, the charity of Christ himself, can triumph over evil. May God help us all, in this, our constant struggle.

 Sermons from the Chaplain