The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.
I went to Confession with my bride tonight. I always think we must give an interesting contrast to the priest as we confess seriatim. My bride is one of the saintliest people I have ever encountered. Her confession must be a breeze! While I am a fairly typical attorney, with all that implies! (I suppose I am not quite as bad as Charles II. When the Merrie Monarch was on his death bed he was received into the Faith by Father John Huddleston who had helped care for him during Charles’ escape after the battle of Worcester. He was told By Father Huddleston that he must confess all his sins. Charles looked at the elderly priest and said “Ah, Father, I doubt if either of us have sufficient time for the recitation of all my sins!”)
I have never confessed without feeling that a mountain of sin has been lifted from my shoulders, as indeed it has. In A Christmas Carol Scrooge announces after his conversion that he feels as giddy as a schoolboy, and that Is always my mood after Confession. I wish the whole world tonight might feel precisely the same giddiness.
In Confession I have always observed the rule of the three B’s:
1. Be Blunt.
2. Be Brief.
3. Be Gone.
It saves time, especially if one attempts to prepare a mental list of sins beforehand. I always end my confessions with the formula that I am truly sorry for any sins that I cannot recall.
(I originally posted these sermons back in 2009 when the readership of the blog was quite smaller. Time to do so again. The Anti-Christ would seem at first blush to be a theme for the end of the liturgical year which focuses on the end times and not during Advent. However, Christ came to bring us to salvation and the exact opposite goal is that of the Anti-Christ. Thinking about the Anti-Christ during Advent reminds us that the mission of Christ is ongoing and that at Advent we celebrate the beginning of that mission, not as a mere historical event that occurred two millennia ago, but an on-going reality.}
Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman preached in 1835 a series of Advent Sermons on the Anti-Christ. I have always found them extremely intriguing, and I am going to present them on each of the Sundays in Advent this year.
In this first sermon Newman gives us an overview of the Anti-Christ and the time of his appearance. We see in this sermon Newman’s total command of history and how he uses this knowledge to draw out the implications of the few mentions of the Anti-Christ in Scripture. Newman intellectually was always first and foremost a historian of the highest order and he puts this talent to good and instructive use in this sermon. When Newman converted the Church gained one of the finest intellects of the Nineteenth Century or any century for that matter. Much of Newman’s work concerned the working out of God’s plan for salvation through human history, and his examination of the Anti-Christ places that mysterious part of revelation into that plan. Continue reading
Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here and here , we come to Isaiah 60: 1-6.
 Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
 For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
 And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.
 Lift up thy eyes round about, and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side.
 Then shalt thou see, and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee.
 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense: and shewing forth praise to the Lord.
Saint Methodius has written the following in regard to this passage: Continue reading
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. And he left them, and went away.
 Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Saint Jerome writes about this passage: Continue reading
Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here and here, we look today at Malachi 3: 1-5.
 Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.
 And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb:
 And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.  And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years.
 And I will come to you in judgment, and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers, and them that oppress the hireling in his wages; the widows, and the fatherless: and oppress the stranger, and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts. Continue reading
 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.  And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.
Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote about this passage: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Tomorrow Advent gets under way and to rush it a bit we have my favorite version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, which has always sounded to me as if a group of Zealots were singing it. Emmanuel or Immanuel, “God With Us”, comes from the seventh chapter of Isaiah:
10 And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying:
11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above.
12 And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.
13 And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Continue reading
It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them.
Father Alfred Delp, SJ
During Advent 1944 Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit, wrote a reflection on Advent. Go here to read it. It is a fine Advent meditation. The circumstances of its writing demonstrate that the light of Christ, which I have always felt most strongly during Advent, can permeate any darkness. Father Delp wrote it while he was a prisoner of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
Alfred Delp first saw the light of this world on September 15, 1907 in Mannheim Germany. The son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, he was raised as a Protestant although he was baptized as a Catholic. He was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1921. Following a bitter argument with his Lutheran pastor, he embraced Catholicism, made his first communion and was confirmed. His Catholic pastor, seeing rare intelligence in the boy, arranged for him to continue his studies.
In 1926 he joined the Jesuits. In 1937 he was ordained as a priest. His further philosophical studies curtailed at the University of Munich due to his anti-Nazi beliefs, Father Delp worked on a Jesuit publication until it was suppressed by the Nazis in April 1941. He was then assigned as rector of Saint Georg church in Munich. All the while he was helping Jews escape into Switzerland. Father Delp’s Jesuit provincial Augustin Rosch was active in the anti-Nazi underground. He introduced Father Delp to the Kreisau Circle of anti-Nazi activists. Father Delp taught Catholic social teaching to the Circle and arranged contacts between them and Catholic leaders. Continue reading
(When we went with our new format in November of last year, some of our earlier posts didn’t carry over, including this one. I am republishing it today with some slight modifications so that it may not be lost in internet oblivion eventually, and in the spirit of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Advent series of sermons on the Anti-Christ which may be viewed here, here, here and here. I have always thought that Advent is a good time to look at evil, since it is at this time of the year that we are reminded of the ultimate triumph of good through Christ.)
I have long heard about Pope Paul VI having referred to the “smoke of Satan” having entered the Church. Usually most references to it do not mention when it was said and in what context. The quote apparently was said on June 29, 1972 by Pope Paul VI on the ninth anniversary of his coronation during a homily given at a mass for the solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Italian text is here. As far as I know there is no official translation. On November 13, 2006 Jimmy Atkin posted at his blog a translation done of the homily by Father Stephanos Pedrano. Please note that the text that is translated is a summary of what the Pope said and not a word for word transcript of what the Pope said. Father Pedrano’s translation is as follows (I have placed in red the portion of the text that refers to Satan): Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming. Continuing on with our Advent examination of major Messianic prophecies, we come to Isaiah 7: 11-16:
11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
and Isaiah 1-7:
1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria commented upon this passage: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We start Advent tomorrow, and my thoughts have been turning to the many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that are applicable to Christ. I do not think there is adequate treatment in contemporary catechesis of the remarkable string of prophecies in the Old Testament that find their completion in Christ. All Catholics need to be familiar with these prophecies, for they are an anchor for our Faith. One example is Wisdom 2:12-20: Continue reading