Today's contemplation

Admin

Administrator
31st May

2225


Friday after the Ascension
On the lessons we are to learn from the Ascension of Our Lord

Consider first, that as we ought to imitate the resurrection of the Lord by a spiritual resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace, so we must also imitate the ascension of our Lord by a spiritual ascension into heaven, and by dwelling there in spirit with him; that, as we hope one day to ascend thither after him in effect, we may learn the way by ascending after him every day in affection. Our Lord has told us that where our treasure is there our heart shall also be. Our treasure is that which we love the most and the best of all things; now, if this be Christ, as it ought to be, as he is ascended into heaven, our treasure is in heaven; and therefore our heart should follow its treasure by ascending after him in spirit into heaven, and by fixing there its abode with its be loved. O happy ascension of love, which teaches the soul to find in some measure a heaven upon earth, and interiorly to have always her conversation in heaven, whatever occupation or company she may he exteriorly engaged in upon earth.

Consider 2ndly, that in order to he qualified to ascend after Christ our Lord into heaven, we must first get rid of our vices and criminal passions, for none of these can he admitted into that blessed abode; there is no room for them there. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, can have no place in heaven; all their pursuits are earthly - instead of carrying the soul upwards towards heaven, they press her down towards hell. They are all slaves to Satan; they bind the poor soul fast in chains; they will not suffer her to follow after Christ; they are his mortal enemies. See then, my soul, if none of these have dominion over thee; see if pride, avarice, passion, or lust have not more influence on thee, to keep thee afar off from Christ in this region of sin and death, than the love of God has to draw thee up to heaven after him. O beg of thy Lord, through his triumphant ascension, by which 'ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men,’ Eph. iv. 8, that he would break all thy bonds asunder, which keep thee from ascending after him, and by the precious gift of his grace set thee at liberty to fly up wards with the wings of the dove, till thou canst come to repose in him and with him.

Consider 3rdly, that the soul can never be rightly qualified to fly up towards heaven by this spiritual ascension, as long as her wings, that is, her affections, are not disengaged. For as the bird cannot fly if its wings be either entangled or daubed over with bird-lime, so the soul cannot fly if her affections are either entangled in the nets of the world, or defiled with the bird-lime of a misplaced love. So that it is not enough for a soul that desires to ascend to heaven after Christ to be free from downright lust or other scandalous excesses and passions; but she must also be disengaged in her affections from every love of person or thing that ties her down as it were to the earth; that captivates her thoughts with solicitudes and perplexities or otherwise takes off her heart from the love of God. All such love as this disqualifies the soul from flying towards heaven: it keeps her far below, grovelling in the mire. Not let her flatter herself that her affections are innocent, because the object is not of itself criminal; for let the object be what it will, it is a crime to prefer it to God, or to love it so as to forfeit for its sake the love of God.

Conclude to be jealous of thyself; how thou placest thy affections here upon earth, lest thou hinder thy flight towards thy true treasure in heaven: ‘my love is my weight,’ says St. Augustine, ‘that way am I carried, whithersoever I am carried.'

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Admin

Administrator
1st June

2229


Saturday after the Ascension
Other lessons to be learnt from the Ascension of Our Lord

Consider first, that as in consequence of the ascension of our Lord we ought to be daily carried as it were upon the wings of love up to him in his heavenly kingdom, so we ought by this frequent ascending thither to be daily more and more enamoured with that kingdom of love; to conceive the highest ideas of that incomprehensible happiness of the soul’s being there eternally united to her God, and absorbed in him, and with the most ardent desires to long daily more and more for this fountain of life. But what then must the sentiments of the soul be, when after she has begun, by the practice of this devotion, to relish something of the sweetness of the good things of her Lord in the land of the living, she finds herself still a prisoner in this foreign land, in this earthly Babylon? O how does she wish to be delivered from this captivity! to see an end of this long pilgrimage! How does she lament her banishment in this vale of tears, at so great a distance from her true country! How does she despise this miserable world, and even loathe its choicest enjoyments! O my soul, that these were your sentiments.

Consider 2ndly, and give ear to the exhortation of the apostle, Coloss. iii. 1, &c., ‘If thou be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; and the things that are above, not the things that are on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then shall you also appear with him in glory.’ How happy are those Christians that enter into these sentiments upon occasion of the ascension of our Lord; who consider Christ as the great object of their love and their true life; and, as he is in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, turn all their intentions and affections towards heaven; who consider this their true life as absent arid as hidden from them here below, and therefore, continually aspire after that happy revolution when they shall cease to die and begin to live. And in the mean time, whilst they remain in this region of death, they seek, as much as they can, to divest themselves of this body of death, by mortifying, as the apostle admonishes, their members that are upon earth, and by crucifying the flesh with its vices and concupiscences.

Consider 3rdly, that as we are informed by church history, our Lord, at his ascension, left the last prints of his feet upon the top of Mount Olivet, in the place from whence he ascended, which no length of time, nor encampments of armies, or other accidents, nor even industry of man, could ever efface or cover over, that we might learn that the true way for all that desire to follow Christ, by ascending after him to heaven, is to have his footsteps always before their eyes, and to walk in them by a diligent imitation of his life and conversation. They that are careful to walk in his footsteps are his disciples indeed; and they that are his disciples indeed, will infallibly, if they persevere, ascend to heaven after him, and be for ever with him.

Conclude to lay up in thy heart all these lessons which Christ desires to teach thee in his ascension and so to adhere to his footsteps, that nothing in life or death may ever separate thee from him.

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Admin

Administrator
2nd June


2244



Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension
On the precepts of charity to our neighbours


Consider first, that after that greatest and first commandment, of loving God with our whole heart and soul, the next of all the divine precepts is, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' This, saith our Lord, is like to the other; and indeed it has so necessary a connexion with it that we cannot fulfil the one without the other. 'God is charity,' says the beloved disciple, 1 John iv. 16, ‘and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him.’ And again, ‘he that loved, not [his neighbour] knoweth not God, for God is charity,’ v. 8. And again, ‘if any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar,’ v. 20. These two precepts of charity by which we are commanded in the first place to love God above all things, and in the next place, to love our neighbours as ourselves, contain an abridgment of the whole duty of a Christian. They are two branches that spring from the same root, and belong to the self-same divine virtue, because the same motives that oblige us to love God for his own goodness’ sake, oblige us also to love all that are made after his image and redeemed by the blood of his Son, for the sake of their maker and redeemer. It is he that requires this love of us, and requires it in such a manner as that we should love him in our neighbours, and love them in him. O the Infinite goodness and bounty of our God! that, notwithstanding the immense distance there is betwixt him and us, he should be pleased to put us as it were upon an equality, by requiring that we should love one another with the like love, and upon the same motive, as we love himself.

Consider 2ndly, that this charity to our neighbours is so essentially necessary to salvation, that without it, though we spoke with the tongues of men and angels, had the gift of prophecy, and all knowledge of the deepest mysteries, and faith strong enough even to remove mountains, we should still be nothing; and though we should give our whole substance to the poor, and our bodies to the flames, it would profit us nothing, saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii. ‘He that loveth not,’ saith St. John, 'abideth in death,’ 1 John iii. 14. 'He is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because the darkness hath blinded his eyes,’ chap. ii. 11. And this charity which is so necessary to salvation, must be general; for, as we learn from our Lord in the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke x., all men, without exception of nations or opinions, are here to be considered as our neighbours: and if there should be any mortal whom we should exclude from our charity, our heavenly Father would exclude us from his mercy. Matt. xvii. 25.

Consider 3rdlv, how much our Lord takes to heart that we should have this mutual love and charity for one another. He has made it his favourite commandment; the very badge by which he would have his disciples known and distinguished. ‘I give you a commandment,’ saith he, John xiii. 34,35, 'that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ And chap. xv. 12, 'This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.’ And this mutual love for one another he desires may be so perfect that it may in some measure resemble the love and union that there is between him and his Father; as he has declared in that heavenly prayer that he made for his disciples, John xvii. 20,21. 'And not for them only,’ said he, ‘do I pray, but for them also, who, through their word shall believe in me; that they all may be one as thou Father in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou best sent me' This mutual love, this union and charity, he inculcates in these strong terms in this last confidence of his mortal life with his beloved disciples, that both they and we might consider it as his last dying injunction, and as a most precious legacy which he has bequeathed to us all. O my soul, embrace this legacy of love which has been thus left thee by thy Lord dying for the love of thee.

Conclude to prove thyself henceforward to be a disciple of Christ indeed, by this spirit of universal charity for all, as he has died out of charity for all. In the beginning of the church, 'the multitude of the believers had but one heart and one soul,’ Acts iv. 32. Such was their mutual love and union. O blessed charity, when shall we see thee once more reign in this manner amongst Christians?

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Admin

Administrator
3rd June
2245


Monday within the Octave of the Ascension
On the excellence of fraternal charity

Consider first, that charity is the queen of virtues and the most excellent of them all, according to the doctrine of the apostle, 1 Cor. xiii. 13, and this, not only as she loves God in himself but also as she loves him in our neighbours, by loving them for his sake; for, as the motive is the same in both these loves, so the virtue is the same. Hence St. Peter calls upon all Christians, 1 Peter iv. 8, 'Before all things have a constant mutual charity; for charity covereth a multitude of sins.’ And St. Paul, Colos. iii. 14, ‘Above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection .' He adds, Rom. viii. 8,10, 'that the love our neighbours is the fulfilling of the law and commandments of God,’ and Gal. v. 14, ‘that all the law is fulfilled in this one word, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Hence also St. John, the beloved disciple, both in his words and in his writings, continually inculcated this duty of loving each other, as the favourite virtue of Jesus Christ, and in a manner the whole duty of a Christian. O my soul, let us then embrace with all our affections this amiable virtue, this chief favourite of Christ and his saints; let us value it as an in estimable treasure, and be ever willing rather to lose any thing else than this blessed charity.

Consider 2ndly, that we may with truth apply to charity what the wise man writes of wisdom that 'all good things come to him together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands,’ Wisd. vii. 11. What these riches are that come through the hands of charity, we learn from the apostle, 1 Cot. xiii. 4, &c.'Charity is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own (that is, she is not selfish,) she is not provoked to anger, she thinketh no evil, she rejoiceth not in iniquity, (that is, in any thing that is wrong,) but rejoiceth with truth, (being pleased with all that is right and true,) she beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,' &c. See, my soul, how many virtues are the constant attendants and offspring of charity. O how amiable is this character of the truly charitable Christian! O how lovely is the parent of all this heavenly train.

Consider 3rdly, that charity, in the strictest sense, is indeed a heavenly virtue; as well because she maintains her ground in heaven and receives her full perfection there, where faith and hope are no more, ('Charity,’ saith the apostle, 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 'never falleth away,’) as also because the eternal charity of the saints is no small part of their heavenly happiness; their love of God is their essential bliss, their love of one another in God, and the joy that they conceive at one another’s happiness, multiplies, as I may say, their heaven to as many fold as there are happy spirits and saints in heaven. And no wonder, since charity, even here below, when it is perfect brings with it unspeakable joy, and in a manner a heaven upon earth, by keeping all the passions under and establishing the reign of peace and joy in the soul. As on the other hand, where there is no charity the passions are all let loose; hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge, &c.; the soul is always in a storm, she is a stranger to peace, she is in confusion and darkness, and the very image of hell; where it is no small part of their misery that they cannot love.

Conclude to aspire as much as thou art able after this heavenly charity; she will teach thee whilst thou art here upon earth to emulate the love of the blessed in heaven; she alone will bring thee to their happy company.

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Admin

Administrator
4th June

2247


Tuesday within the Octave of the Ascension
On the exercise of fraternal charity


Consider first, that the charity which we owe to our neighbour, like that by which we love God, is in the nature of a fire, which is ever in motion, and must be kept alive by being nourished with its proper fuel by the means of repeated acts and these not exercised only by affection, but by effects: 'My little children,’saith St. John, 1 John iii. 15, 'let us love, not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth.’ Fraternal charity is not a love of concupiscence, it is not selfish love that looks no further than at the honour, profit, or pleasure which may accrue to one’s self from our neighbours; it is a love of a sincere benevolence; now, as it is the nature of the love of benevolence to desire, to seek, to procure, and to promote whatever may be for the real good of the person beloved, to be delighted with all that is to his advantage, and to be concerned at all that hurts him: so this benevolent love which we owe to out neighbours, by virtue of the precept of fraternal charity, is to be kept alive in our souls by repeated acts of its own kind, by frequently exercising in favour of our neighbours as well the spiritual as the corporal works of mercy, with a pure intention of God’s glory and their welfare, by bewailing their errors and vices, by earnestly praying for their conversion and salvation, and neglecting nothing in our power to procure it. Do we evidence our charity for our neighbours by the exercise of such acts as these?

Consider 2ndly, that the love of true charity, which we are commanded to bear our neighbours is to love them for God’s sake, to love them in God, and in order to God. Fraternal charity is a branch of that same divine virtue by which we love God, and ought ever to be grounded upon the same divine motive of God’s own infinite goodness. No carnal, worldly, or natural affection, influenced by flesh and blood, or by any other consideration but God, can be called charity. If then we would fulfil this great precept, we must not content ourselves with loving our neighbours at any rate - heathens and publicans often love one another and assist one another, and yet they are void of divine charity - but we must love according to God and with relation to God; we must love in out neighbours the image of God; we must consider them as made by him and for him, and as redeemed by the precious blood of his Son; we must love them for his sake, and because it is his holy will and commandment. And we must exercise the acts of this love, by contributing on every occasion, all that lies in us, to bring them to the love of God here, and to his kingdom hereafter, that they may glorify him in a happy eternity. This is truly charity indeed.

Consider 3rdly, by what rules we are to be directed and regulated in the exercise of the love of our neighbours. The old commandment of the divine law was to love every neighbour as ourselves. The new commandment of the gospel of Christ is to love every neighbour ‘even as Christ has loved us,' John xiii. 34. Have we ever seriously reflected upon the perfection of the love which these rules require of us? - ‘To love our neighbours as ourselves.’ O how tender is the love we bear ourselves! how intent upon our own welfare! how sensible of everything that we apprehend as an evil to us! Is the love of our neighbours any thing like this Do we treat them as we would desire to be treated ourselves? Are we concerned at the evils which befall them, as if they had befallen ourselves? I fear we cannot say it. Again, 'To love our neighbours as Christ has loved us.' O what a love is this! He has laid down his very life for the love of us; and this without any desert on our side; for we deserved nothing but hell we were his enemies by sin. Can our love for our neighbours stand the test of this rule? Are we willing to part with so much as our own humour, our convenience or inclination, our pleasure or satisfaction, for the love of our neighbours, and rather than give them occasion of grief or sin? If not, how far are we from loving our neighbours as Christ has loved us.

Conclude to exercise daily repeated acts of fraternal charity, both in the affective and the effective way; lest otherwise thy love for thy neighbours, for want of nourishment, quickly languish away and die. Have thy eye always upon those two great rules of charity, and regulate thy love accordingly.

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Admin

Administrator
5th June


2278


Wednesday within the Octave of the Ascension
On the different branches of fraternal charity


Consider first, that charity is fruitful in its offspring, and spreads itself into different branches, in order to make the whole man perfect, by regulating both his judgment and his will, and directing him in his thoughts, in his words, and in his actions. For there is a charity that corrects the natural bent of our corruption, which is ever tending to suspect and judge the worst of our neighbours, and to be harsh and censorious in their regard. And there is a charity that inclines the will in their favour, so as to wish them well in every respect, and to forgive all injuries. There is a charity that employs the thoughts, in studying to promote their good, and to prevent and remedy their evil. And there is a charity that directs the tongue, and restrains it from uttering any words to the prejudice of any one. In fine, there is a charity that seasons and sweetens the whole body of our actions, as far as they relate to our neighbours, and squares them all according to that golden rule of doing in everything as we would be done by. The practice of all these branches of charity in God, and for God, makes a perfect Christian, and brings us to God.

Consider 2ndly, that amongst the branches of fraternal charity, there is one that our Lord seems to take in a special manner to heart; insomuch that he has declared our eternal lot shall be decided by our diligence or negligence in the exercise of it, Matt. xxv., and this is charity to the poor. These he declares he has substituted in his own stead, and what we do for them he takes as done for himself ver. 43, 45. This branch of charity duly exercised, in proportion to every man’s circumstances, will bring thousands one day into the happy tabernacles of everlasting life. But where shall the unjust stewards then appear, who, having the substance of their master, viz., their worldly riches, intrusted in their hands, with express orders to employ their superfluities at least in relieving the necessity of his poor children, either covetously detain or prodigally squander away that which should be their support, and to which they have an indisputable title! Alas! What a figure will their extravagant expenses then make! What account will they be able to give of all that they have sacrificed to pride and vanity, to luxury and intemperance, to gaming and criminal diversions! Will not all these robberies of the substance of the poor cry to heaven against them for vengeance on that day.

Consider 3rdly, that there is still another branch of charity, the most difficult of all, and yet absolutely necessary to salvation, and that is, to love our enemies. ‘I say to you,’ saith our Lord, Matt. v. 44, ‘love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.’ And this he insists upon in such manner as to exclude from his mercy here, and from his kingdom hereafter, all such as exclude any one, how much an enemy soever, from their charity. But how shall we acquire, or how shall we practise this charity for our enemies? O! it is not a virtue of our own growth, it must come down to us from heaven, from our great Father, 'Who maketh his sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.’ It is by fervent prayer we must obtain it, and when we have got it, must lay it up in our hearts as a rich heavenly treasure, and exercise it as the saints have done, by praying for our enemies in sincerity of heart, and seeking, on all occasions, to overcome in their regard evil with good. O how happy shall we be, if by any such means as these we prevail to bring them, that before were our enemies, to be for the time to come friends both to God and to us! It is what the saints have often done by their charity, by their meekness, and by their prayers.

Conclude to labour with all thy power, both to acquire and to exercise all these branches of charity, if thou desirest to come to God, who is charity, and who is not to be come at but by charity.

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Admin

Administrator
6th June

2280




Thursday the Octave of the Ascension
On the great pettern of charity


Consider first, how Christ Jesus our Lord has given us himself for a pattern of perfect charity in the parable of the good Samaritan, (Luke x.) He himself came down in person from his throne above to save poor man, who had unhappily fallen among the infernal robbers, and was stript by them of all grace, and grievously wounded in all his faculties. He was the good shepherd that came down to seek with sorrow the lost sheep, in order to lay him upon his own shoulders, and carry him home with joy to his heavenly fold. It is here we plainly discover the infinite charity both of the Father and of the Son. ‘By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us,’ says the beloved disciple, ‘because God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him. In this is charity not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to a propitiation for our sins,' 1 John iv. 9,10.

Consider 2ndly, that the whole life of Christ was a continual exercise of divine charity. From the first moment of his conception in the womb of his blessed mother till his expiring on the cross, his soul was ever employed in loving his heavenly Father, and in offering himself to all his wills; and for the love of his Father, and because it was his Father’s will, he dedicated his whole life also to the love of us; ever thinking on us, praying for us, and labouring for our eternal salvation. But O, the infinite charity he has shown us in all that he has endured in his passion and death for the love of us! Christians, pass over in your minds all the stages of his passion, from his prayer and agony in the garden to his expiring on the cross; and see the multitude and variety of torments he has there suffered for us. Ah! how much have our sins cost this innocent Lamb of God? Ah! how dearly has he loved us! O, my soul, in the midst of all these tortures he had thee in his heart; and even then was pleading thy cause with his eternal Father, when, by thy sins, thou wast crucifying him. O! what return shall we make him for this infinite love!

Consider 3rdly, that the Son of God has not only loved us during the whole course of his mortal life, and loved us even to death, by laying down his life for the love of us; but he has carried his love for us beyond the bonds of death in an admirable legacy, which he bequeathed us the night before his passion; by means of which, to satisfy his love, he remains always with us in the divine mysteries, even to the end of the world. Here he feeds our souls with his precious body and blood; here he unites us to himself in such a manner as to abide in us, and we in him; here he is a perpetual source of grace, of love, and of true life to our souls; here he communicates himself to us like the manna of heaven, for the support of our pilgrimage, till he brings us to the true land of promise, where he will lovingly give himself to us for all eternity. And shall not so much charity on his part oblige us to dedicate also our whole souls to this divine virtue.

Conclude to have always before thy eyes this great pattern of love, that thou mayest learn from him how thou art to love both thy God and thy neighbour.

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Admin

Administrator
7th June



2282


Friday after the Octave of the Ascension
On preparing the soul for the Holy Ghost


Consider first, that when we celebrate the Christian solemnities we ought not only to honour the mysteries we commemorate, and give
praise and glory to the author of all good, for his benefits to his church; but also to enter into the spirit of the solemnity by aiming as much as possible at the dispositions of soul which are suitable to the mysteries we celebrate. And thus when we are pre paring to keep the solemn feast of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Ghost came down upon the first Christians, it ought to be the great subject of our devotion to prepare our souls for the Holy Ghost, that so we may be also favoured with his visit at this holy time, and may plentifully partake of his gifts and graces. O my soul, do thou aspire after this happiness, (the greatest of any thou canst enjoy on this side of eternity,) to have the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the living God, to come to thee, to take full possession of thy interior, and to abide for ever with thee. O spare no pains in preparing a proper lodging for him.

Consider 2ndly, how the apostles prepared themselves for the Holy Ghost, Acts i. 14, ‘They were persevering,' saith the Scripture, 'with one mind in prayer.’ And Luke xxiv. 53, 'They were always in the temple, praising and blessing God.’ They prepared their souls for this heavenly guest by a spiritual exercise of ten days; they spent the whole time, from the ascension of our Lord till Whitsunday, in recollection and prayer. Retired as much as might be from the hurry and distractions of a busy noisy world, they attended in silence to God and their souls. They were always in prayer in the temple of God, and by that means they prepared their souls to be the temple of God. Happy they that endeavour to make the like preparation! happy they that make it their practice to prepare themselves every year at this time for the coming of the Holy Ghost by a spiritual retreat of some days. If thy circumstances, O my soul, will not allow thee this retirement and solitude, therein to breathe the purer air of devotion, and to aspire in a more suitable manner after the coming of the Spirit of God, at least wish for this happiness; and if thou canst do nothing more, at least in the midst of all thy other employments, call in thy thoughts as often as thou canst into thy closet within, and there entertain thyself with thy God. Nothing will contribute more effectually to fix the Holy Ghost in thy soul than this practice of aiming at an inward recollection in the midst of all thy works.

Consider 3rdly, that the great means to bring the Holy Ghost into our souls is to invite him thither by ardent desires and fervent prayer. Thus the apostles obtained him, and the word of God in many places assures us that this is the way for our obtaining all good, ‘that our heavenly Father will give his good spirit to all that ask him,’ Luke xi. 53, and that an ardent desire, a perfect hunger and thirst after this heavenly spirit, the fountain of all justice, are the means by which to be filled both with him and his gifts. 'I wished,’ says the wise man, Wisdom vii. 7, ‘and understanding was given me; and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me.’ O my soul, see thou seek him in this manner by fervent desires and prayer, but let it be with thy whole heart. In finding him thou wilt find all good, for he is the overflowing source of all good; without him thou art nothing but misery and sin. O come, divine spirit, to my soul, that longs after thee, and bring with thee all thy heavenly treasures. O do thou prepare thyself a proper lodging in in heart, and them take full possession of it for time and eternity.

Conclude to spare no pains in using all the means in thy power to engage this divine spirit to come to visit thee, and to take up his abode with thee; frequently invite him with the Veni sancte Spiritus, &c., a hymn that he himself has inspired. He willingly comes to those that sincerely and heartily invite him.

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Admin

Administrator
8th June

2283



Whitsun-Eve
On the dispositions necessary for receiving the Holy Ghost


Consider first, that the soul which desires to receive the Holy Ghost must prepare a clean lodging to entertain him in; that is, a conscience and heart pure and clear from wilful sin. If any person of distinction were to honour us with a visit, and to take up a lodging with us, we should certainly take care to have our house clean, and to remove from the apartment designed for him whatever might offend his eyes; how much more, when we pretend to the honour and happiness of having the Spirit of God to abide with us and in us, ought we to take care to have our inward house clean, and to remove from thence, by virtue of the sacrament of Penance, the filth of sin, infinitely odious in his eyes Alas! all the while the soul is under the guilt of mortal sin, not removed by a serious repentance and conversion to God, she is spiritually possessed by Satan; she is become a den of thieves, and carries as many devils about with her as there are unruly passions to which she is enslaved. And can she expect a visit from the Holy Ghost without first ridding herself of such company? No: the Spirit of God can never reside in the lodging with sin and Satan.

Consider 2ndly, those words of the wise man, Wis. i. 4,5, 'Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful.’ And learn from hence what sins have a more particular opposition to the visits of the Spirit of God; that by the contrary dispositions thou mayest prepare thy soul for him. He is the spirit of love, union, peace, and charity, and therefore can never enter into a malicious soul. He is the spirit of purity, and therefore cannot dwell in a body subject to carnal sins. He is the spirit of sincerity and truth, and therefore will flee from all deceitful souls; that is, from all double-dealers and hypocrites, that seek him not in simplicity of heart. Banish, then, far from thee all uncharitable animosities and rancour against thy neighbour, all wantonness and impurity, and all deceit and double dealings, if thou hopest to have any share in the Spirit of God.

Consider 3rdly, that there is also an infinite opposition between the spirit of the world and the Spirit of God; they cannot both reside in the same breast. ‘We have received,’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 12, 'not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God;’ ‘the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive,’ saith our Lord, John xiv. 17. For as the love of the world and its friendship is the great enemy of the love of God, James iv. 4, and 1 John ii. 15, so the spirit of the world is the great adversary of the Spirit of God. The spirit of the world is a spirit of pride and vanity; it is selfish, it is fond of Mammon, ‘the god of this world,’ 1 Cor. iv. 5, and of all sensual pleasures, even to idolatry; the spirit of the world is a spirit of dissipation, ever forgetful of God and eternity, and full of disorderly affections for empty, vain, and perishable toys. And what room, then, can there be for the Spirit of God in such a soul? No the Spirit of God will not come any where if he is not allowed to be supreme Lord and Master there. He will not admit of such worldly idols in his temple.

Conclude, if thou wouldst effectually invite the Holy Ghost to take up his residence in thy soul, to cleanse the heart thou designest for him not only from all wilful sin and affection to sin, but also from loving the world and the things of the world, and from every love or affection that shall dare presume to claim any part of thy heart, so as to hinder thee from giving it all to him.

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Admin

Administrator
9th June

2288



Whitsunday
On the coming down of the Holy Ghost


Consider first, that on the feast of Pentecost, when the disciples were all assembled together, 'suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.' - Acts ii. 2,3,4. Thus they received the promised Comforter, with all his gifts and graces. Thus were they quite changed into other men. Weak and cowardly as they were before, they are now on a sudden courageous and perfect. They begin boldly to preach and to publish the faith and law of their crucified Lord, and bring thousands to embrace it. O heavenly Spirit, how wonderful are thy operations! O when wilt thou work the like change in my soul! Christians, praise and bless your God for sending down in this manner his Holy Spirit upon his church, and for all the wonders he wrought in the first establishment of it. The Israelites observed the solemnity of Pentecost as one of the three principal feasts of the year, because on that day the old law was published from Mount Sinai in thunder and lightning. How much more ought Christians religiously to observe this solemnity, because on this day the new law of grace and love was published on mount Sion, by the coming down of the Holy Ghost in tongues of fire.

Consider 2ndly, that the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles in the shape of tongues, to signify that he came to make them fit preachers of his word, and to endow them with the gift of tongues, accompanied with the heavenly wisdom and understanding of the mysteries of God and all the gospel truths, to the end that the might be enabled to teach and publish, throughout the whole world, the faith and law of Christ! And these tongues were of fire, to signify how his divine Spirit sets those souls on fire in which he abides, inflaming them with divine love, consuming the dross of their earthly affections, putting them in a continual motion of earnest desires and endeavours to go forward from virtue to virtue as fire is always in motion, and carrying them upwards towards the God of gods in his heavenly Sion, as the flame is always ascending upwards towards its element. O blessed fire, when shall I partake of thy sacred names? O come and take possession of my heart, consume all these bonds that tie it to the earth, and carry it up with thee towards the heavenly furnace from whence thou comest. Sweet Jesus, thou hast said, Luke xii. 'I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled.' O cast this fire into my soul, that it may be kindled there!

Consider 3rdly, that the coming of the Holy Ghost was not promised only to the apostles, or to the first Christians, nor confined to the primitive ages, but was designed for a blessing to be entailed on the people of God throughout all ages. ‘I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, (or Comforter,) that be may abide with you for ever, the Spirit of truth,’ St. John xiv. 16, 17. He was promised to be be ever with the pastors of God’s church, to guide them into all truth in teaching God’s people, and to be for ever with the sheep of Christ, to guide them into all truth in their belief and life, and to be the source of all grace to their souls. Wherefore, though we are not now to look for his visible coining down any more in tongues of fire, we are nevertheless entitled if we sincerely seek and sue to him, to expect a share in his invisible graces and communications, and to aspire to the honour and happiness of being made his temples. Christians, what a happiness indeed to have the Spirit of God in us! This we must all aim at with our whole power; this is the great devotion of this holy time; this we must pray for at all times.

Conclude with this humble address of the church to the divine Spirit: 'Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of thy love;' or that other of the sacred hymn: 'Come, O Spirit, our Creator, visit these souls of thine, and fill with thy heavenly grace the breasts which thou hast made for thyself.’ Frequently repeat these or the like invitations, and trust in the infinite goodness of him who delights to be with the children of men, that he will come to thee and be thy guest.

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Admin

Administrator
10th June


2294



Whitsun-Monday
On the happiness of having the Holy Ghost in the soul


Consider first, how happy a guest the soul entertains when she has in her the Holy Ghost. He is called in Scripture the Paraclete, (a name that signifies both comforter and solicitor,) from the consolations and graces he imparts to the soul, to sweeten all her crosses and labours in her mortal pilgrimage, and to help her to overcome all difficulties and oppositions; and from his soliciting for her by the spirit of prayer, which he inspires, teaching her to pray, and as it were praying with her, and in her. He is called by excellence the gift of the Most High, as being the greatest gift that God can give; for what can he give greater than himself? A gift comprising all other gifts. He is called the living fountain, or the fountain of living water, springing up to everlasting life, refreshing the inward man, assuaging the heat of concupiscence, extinguishing all thirst after the things of this world, and watering the soul with a never-failing stream. of grace. He is called a fire, from the bright flames of love with which he inflames the soul. And he is called the unction of the soul, from sweetly diffusing himself through all the soul, and giving strength and vigour to it. O what can be wanting to a soul that entertains such a guest as this! Does she not, in some measure, anticipate the joy’s of heaven, having within her the king of heaven with all his graces.

Consider 2ndly, the happy fruits which the presence of the Holy Ghost produces in the soul, as they are reckoned up by St. Paul, Gal. v. 22, 23. 1. Charity, or the love of God for his own infinite goodness’ sake, and the love of every neighbour in God and for God; a fruit so remarkable in the first Christians upon their receiving the Holy Ghost, that through their love of God they had all ‘but one heart and one soul,’ Acts iv. 32. 2. Joy, from the testimony of a good conscience, and from the sense of the presence of this divine guest, and the experience of his sweetness. 3. Peace with God and with our neighbours, and with ourselves; a peace not granted to the wicked. 4. Patience in supporting crosses and adversities, which this heavenly Spirit makes light and easy. 6. Benignity or kindness, in relieving the distressed. 6. Goodness or a willingness to impart all that is good to every neighbour. 7. Longanimity, or long-suffering and perseverance, without being wearied out with labour, in overcoming evil with good. 8. Mildness in restraining wrath, and bearing injuries. 9. Faith, or fidelity to all our engagements, both to God and our neighbours. 10. Modesty, or moderation in all things, regulating every motion both of soul and body. 11. Continency, or temperance in restraining all irregular inclinations; and, 12. Chastity, or purity in keeping both soul and body from the defilements of lust. O what happy fruits are these! O how happy is that soul in which the spirit of God produces all these fruits! O my soul, bring in this heavenly Spirit into thy inward house, and entertain him there, and all these fruits will be thine.

Consider 3rdly, that as nothing can he more happy than to have the Holy Ghost in thy soul, so nothing can be more miserable than to be without this heavenly guest. Where the Spirit of God is not, there Satan is. Alas! can there be a greater misery than to be possessed by Satan? ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ,’ says the apostle, Rom. viii. 9, ‘he is none of his.’ If he be none of his, whose then must he be? or what share can he have in Christ or his kingdom? Oh! how true is that which the church sings at this time, in her address to this divine spirit, sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium. That without this deity there is nothing in man, there is nothing that is innocent. O dread then the misery of being without him, and flee from all those evils that may draw him away from thee.

Conclude to neglect nothing that is in thy power, by which thou mayest procure to thy soul the happiness of being the living temple of the living God; and of having the Holy Ghost there, not as a visitor only, but as taking up his abode in thee both for time and eternity.

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Admin

Administrator
11th June

2298



Whitsun-Tuesday
On the Gifts of the Holy Ghost


Consider first, what precious gifts the Spirit of God brings with him wherever he comes, and what treasures he imparts to the soul in which he takes up his abode. The prophet reckons up seven most admirable gifts of this Holy Spirit, Isaia xi. 2,3, when he styles him the 'Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord.’ O how precious indeed, how admirable, are these gifts! O how rich is that soul, which by the coming of the Holy Ghost, is put its possession of these treasures! But what is this wisdom that the Holy Ghost imparts? Not the wisdom of this world, which is downright folly in the sight of God, because it looks no farther than earthly toys and contriving for the transitory enjoyments of this world, whilst it forgets God and eternity. Not the wisdom of the philosophers who busy themselves in studying the course of the stars, and the secrets of nature, and neglect to seek truth in its fountain; because they do not seriously apply themselves to know God and their own interior. But that wisdom, which alone deserves this glorious name, which consists in the knowledge and love of God, which tends continually to him, and which seeks and finds him in all things.

Consider 2ndly, how precious also are those other gifts, which the Spirit of God communicates to the soul. The gift of understanding, which opens the eyes of the soul to the light of God, and sets the truths of God in their proper light; which clearly discovers to the soul the shortness and vanity of all temporal honours, riches, and pleasures, and convinceth her that nothing is truly great or worthy of her affection but that which is eternal. By the help of this light, the end of our creation, the dignity of an immortal soul, the nature of our mortal pilgrimage, the four last things, and other Christian truths, sink deep into the soul, and have a wonderful influence upon the whole conduct of our lives. But then, as we are strangers and travellers here below, and are obliged to make the best of our way towards our true country, through the midst of difficulties and dangers, and with infinite opposition from strong and subtile enemies, the Spirit of God comes in to our assistance, with two other admirable gifts, viz., the gift of counsel, to show us our way, to discover to us the snares and artifices of our enemies, and to guide us safe through all dangers; and the gift of fortitude, or heavenly courage and strength, to animate us to encounter all opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to help us to come off with victory in all our conflicts. O how happy is that traveller who has such a guide, such a counsellor, such a powerful helper and protector!

Consider 3rdly, the rest of the gifts which the Holy Ghost imparts to that soul in which he dwells viz., the gift of knowledge, to instruct her in every virtue and every duty, and in every step she is to take in order to see God and a happy eternity. Then the gift of godliness or piety, which makes the soul quite in earnest and perfectly fervent in the service of God; so that she runs on with vigour and alacrity in the ways of all his divine commandments. And lastly, the gift of the fear of the Lord, which the Scripture calls the beginning of wisdom; which restrains the soul from all that may offend God, and makes her fear his displeasure more than any other evil whatsoever. Can any treasures upon earth be comparable to these?

Conclude to set a high value upon these heavenly gifts, the least of which is worth more than all the world can give. How rich then is that soul which enjoys them all, by enjoying the Spirit of God, who is the source of all good, and who alone can impart such excellent gifts.

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Admin

Administrator
12th June

2299


Whitsun-Wednesday
On the means of keeping the Holy Ghost in the Soul



Consider first, that the soul which has been favoured with a visit from the Holy Ghost, if she desires a continuance of that happiness, must take care to entertain him in a proper manner. For if she takes little or no notice of this heavenly guest if she quickly turns her back upon him, to attend to every idle and impertinent amusement that offers itself; if she does not frequently go in to wait upon him, in her inward house; if she loves not to converse with him there, she will quickly lose him, she will drive him away from her. He delights to be with them that delight to be with him. He expects a correspondence and return of love, and therefore withdraws himself from such souls as take no care to entertain him by recollection and love, but choose to give themselves up to dissipation of thought, and to squander away that precious time, which they should spend in his company, in following empty phantoms and roving imaginations. O my soul, is not this too often thy case? Amongst the many thoughts which successively occupy thy mind all the day long, how few are there that are anything to the purpose; how few that are fit to appear in presence of the Holy Ghost? How then canst thou expect he will stay with thee, if thou introducest such company as this into his lodging?

Consider 2ndly, that as the Spirit of God will not dwell in a soul that does not attend on him by recollection of thought, so neither will he dwell in a soul that does not serve him with purity of heart and affection. He will be sole master of the heart in which he resides; he will allow of no partner there. He is a jealous lover that will bear no rival. A heart divided in its affections between the Creator and the creature, excludes the Holy Ghost: he will suffer no division; he claims the whole heart; he will have all or none. Christians, if then you pretend to the happiness of being temples of the Holy Ghost, you must not admit of any idols in your souls. Now all disorderly affections are idols, inasmuch as by them you prefer the creature before the Creator; and all such affections are disorderly as captivate your hearts and take them off from God. Let the object of your love be ever so innocent in itself; it is no longer innocent when it is loved without a due subordination to the love of God. It becomes then impure; it defiles the heart, it chases away the Spirit of God, who will not dwell but in a clean heart.

Consider, 3rdly, that in order to keep the Holy Ghost in the soul, so that he may choose to dwell there as in his temple, we trust not only keep this temple clean and undefiled, ‘for if any man violate the temple of God, him will God destroy,' 1 Cor. iii. 17, but we must also take care that it be made a house of prayer, as the house of God should be. We must frequently go into this temple, there to worship this Spirit of truth, in spirit and truth. We must apply and employ all the three powers of the soul, the will, the memory, and the understanding, in frequently attending there upon their God in the way of mental prayer. In a word, the worship of God should be ever going forward in this temple of his. This is the true way to engage him to stay with us, and to make our souls the place of his rest for ever and ever.

Conclude
to make use of all these means to entertain this sovereign guest, and to fix him in your souls. Give him full possession of your memory and understanding, by recollection of thought and attention to his presence, and make him the absolute master of our will by simplicity of intention and purity of heart and affection, and he will be yours for ever.

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Admin

Administrator
13th June

2303


Whitsun-Thursday
On the marks of the Holy Ghost's abiding in the soul


Consider first, that the surest way to make a judgment whether the Holy Ghost abides in the soul or not, is by his fruits. The Spirit of God never lies idle: he is a fire that is always active, always in motion, always tending upwards. If we find nothing of this in our soul we have reason to fear he is not there. His fruits are charity, joy, peace, patience, &c. If we have none of these fruits, he is not with us. My son, what is thy faith? Is it firm? Is it lively? Or is it not rather dull and dead? Does it show itself in the practice of thy life? Dost thou live by faith? What is thy hope? What is thy sense of the things of eternity? What is thy esteem of spiritual things? What is thy devotion? What is thy love for God and thy neighbour? What is thy desire of making a daily progress in the way of God? By examining thyself upon these heads, it will be easy to judge whether the Holy Ghost be with thee or nor. But especially there is no surer mark of this divine spirit abiding in the soul, than a constant and fervent desire of loving God daily more and more, and of ever knowing and doing his holy will in all things. Dost thou find in thyself this earnest desire of loving and pleasing God? If so, the Spirit of God cannot be far from thee.

Consider 2ndly, that as there is an infinite opposition between the spirit of God and wilful sin, so one of the surest marks of the Holy Ghost’s residing in the soul, is a settled constant abhorrence of wilful sin, with a fixed determination of the soul never to admit for the future any such sin, upon any consideration whatsoever. My soul, what is thy disposition in this regard? Art thou fully determined to be ever faithful and loyal to thy God, both in life and death? Dost thou resolutely renounce Satan and all his works, both for the present time and for ever? Is it thy constant and settled resolution never to transgress the holy law and commandments of God for any worldly honour, interest, or pleasure, for any respect of person, for any fear or love, for anything that the world can give or take away, or for any other consideration? If this be thy sincere disposition and determination, the Holy Ghost is with thee; but if thou art not thus determined, there is no room for him in thy soul, because Satan is there.

Consider 3rdly, that where the Holy Ghost comes he 'convinces the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment,' John xvi. 8. He convinces the soul of sin, inasmuch as he gives to the soul which he enlightens with his presence, a sense of the enormity of sin, and of the multitude and greatness of her own sins in particular, a horror for that hellish monster, and a desire of abolishing it by penance. He discovers also many stains where the soul before perceived none, and humbles her exceedingly by the conviction of her manifold guilt. My soul, dost thou experience in thyself this conviction of sin? The Holy Ghost by his coming convinces also the soul of the justice of Christ and of his heavenly law, of the beauty of virtue and holiness, and of the pleasure and happiness that is found in serving God in earnest. Art thou, my soul, practically convinced of all this? Dost thou practically prefer this manna of heaven before the flesh-pots of Egypt? Again, the Holy Ghost, by his coming, convinces the soul of the wrong judgment she has hitherto made, in following the world and the prince of this world, who is already judged and condemned, and of the right judgment she ought to make of all things, in order to escape that judgment which God will otherwise one day make of her. Dost thou, my soul, find in thee this conviction of judgment? Is thy judgment rectified by the Holy Ghost in regard to truth and falsehood, verity and vanity, time and eternity? Dost thou not still follow, by a perverse judgment, the prince of this world, rather than Jesus Christ; the maxims of worldlings, who are liars in their balances, rather than the practice of the saints, who weigh all things in the scales of the sanctuary? Will thy way of judging be able to stand the test of the last great trial.

Conclude to examine well by such marks as these whether the Spirit of God be with thee or not. If thou seem to find in thyself these marks of his presence, return him humble thanks; but be not too secure, lest the artifices of thy self-love should deceive thee, or thy pride should drive him away from thee. But if thou discoverest not in thyself these marks of his being with thee, bewail thy misery, and give thyself no rest till by penitential tears and fervent prayer, and all the other means by which the Holy Ghost is to be invited into the soul, thou hast grounds to hope that he has returned to thee.

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Admin

Administrator
14th June

2305


Whitsun-Friday
On the Sacrament of Confirmation


Consider first, that confirmation is a sacrament by which the faithful, if duly disposed, receive the Holy Ghost together with all his gifts and graces, in order to make them strong and perfect Christians. The apostles were confirmed in a wonderful manner by the Holy Ghost’s coming down visible upon them on Whitsunday; but the rest of the faithful were to be confirmed by their ministry, and by that of their successors, the bishops of God’s church; 'receiving the Holy Ghost by the imposition of their hands and prayer,’ Acts viii. 16, 17, 18, and chap. xix. 6. Give thanks to our Lord for this sacred institution, by means of which he perpetuates in his church the mission of his Holy Spirit, and the communication of his graces. What a dignity, what a happiness to receive the Holy Ghost, the Lord of heaven and earth, and the inexhaustible source of all grace! Wheresoever he comes he brings with him all his treasures, and he is infinitely liberal in imparting them. How much then are they their own enemies, who either neglect this great means of receiving the Holy Ghost or else come to it without due dispositions, and so lose the benefit of it; and even pervert it to their own damnation.

Consider 2ndly, that the proper and peculiar grace of the sacrament of confirmation is a heavenly fortitude; that is to say, a spiritual strength, valour, and courage, in order to maintain the cause of God in our souls against the visible and invisible enemies of our faith. By this sacrament we are made soldiers of Christ; here we give in our names to be listed in the service of this great king; we put ourselves under his banner, we receive the sacred mark of his cross on our foreheads - his cross, which is the royal standard of all his troops: here we engage ourselves to fight his battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and we are equipped with proper arms for this warfare. O how glorious is this title of a soldier of Christ! How happy this service! What have we to apprehend, following Christ for our captain, and having his holy spirit with us to guide, strengthen, encourage, and defend us? But O, the noble pay which this great king gives to his soldiers! For he gives them nothing less than himself; and that for eternity. 'Be thou faithful until death,’ saith he, 'and I will give thee the crown of life.’ Apoc. ii. 10.

Consider 3rdly, that in the sacrament of confirmation the soul is in a particular manner dedicated and consecrated to God by the unction of his Holy Spirit, at the same time as the forehead is anointed with the holy chrism. This chrism is a compound of oil and balm, or balsam, solemnly consecrated by the bishops of God’s church on Maundy Thursday, kept in the church with the utmost reverence, and only used in the consecration of such things as are most solemnly dedicated to God or more nearly deputed to his divine service. So that the using of this holy oil in confirmation is to give us to understand that by this sacrament we also are solemnly dedicated, sanctified, and consecrated to God to be the temples of his Spirit; inasmuch as this visible unction and consecrations of the body is the outward sign of the invisible unction and consecration of the soul by the Spirit of God, as all the sacraments are outward signs of inward grace. Christians, what are your thoughts of this consecration which your souls have received? Have you hitherto considered yourselves as a people particularly dedicated to God and sanctified by the unction of his Spirit? Have you reflected that you have been sanctified with the like consecration to that which the altars and temples of God are solemnly dedicated to his service? Remember this at least for the future, and let your lives show forth that you are indeed the living temples of the living God.

Conclude to set a high value upon the grace of your confirmation, and to live up to the glorious character you there received. See you behave in every respect as becomes strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Christ. Beware of receiving so great a grace in vain.

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Admin

Administrator
15th June
2307


Whitsun-Saturday
On the obligaions of our Confirmation


Consider first, that confirmation is one of those three sacraments which imprint a character or spiritual mark on the soul. The nature of this character of confirmation is such as to carry with it a certain dedication of the soul to the service of God in the quality of his soldiers - as the character of baptism marks us out for the people of God, and the character of Holy Orders for the ministers of God. Hence it is that these three sacraments, after they have been once received, cannot be received any more, because the character which they leave in the soul, which is the mark of the consecration of the soul to God, can never be lost, and therefore can never be repeated. But then these three sacraments carry also with them a strict obligation of living up to this character and to this consecration, which they impart to the soul; and thus this sacrament of confirmation in particular obliges us to observe the whole discipline of the soldiers of Jesus Christ - to stand to our colours; to fight manfully the battles of our Lord; and rather to die than change sides or to go over to the enemy by any wilful sin. This is the allegiance we owe to Christ in quality of his soldiers; this we oblige ourselves to when we receive the character of confirmation.

Consider 2ndly, that the soldiers of this world profess a strict regard to all the laws of their calling and to the orders of their officers. They expose themselves to all kinds of labours and dangers in marches, in sieges, and in battles. They endure heats and colds, and all the inclemency of the weather and the seasons; they suffer hunger and thirst, watchings, and all other hardships to which their station of life exposes them; and all this for the trifling consideration of a small pay. What lessons are here for Christians, who, by the sacrament of confirmation, have enlisted themselves soldiers of Christ! How much more ought they to embrace with courage all the labours and sufferings to which their spiritual warfare exposes them, especially as they fight under the banner of so great a King, in his presence and company, and for so great a reward. But, alas! the soldiers of this world will, I fear, one day rise up in judgment, and condemn us for having done and suffered so little in the warfare of Christ, in comparison with what they have done and suffered in the warfare of the world.

Consider 3rdly, that whatsoever is once dedicated and consecrated to God ought to continue for ever dedicated and consecrated to his divine service. And it is no less a crime than sacrilege to pervert any thing dedicated to him to profane uses. Therefore, the soul which, by the sacrament of confirmation, has been dedicated, sanctified, and consecrated to God, and which always carries about with her the mark of this consecration, is strictly obliged thereby to be ever his; to be ever faithful, and to be ever holy, as a thing dedicated to his divine service, both in quality of his soldier and of his temple. O remember, Christians, that the character which the soul receives in this sacrament can never be effaced, neither in this world nor in the world to come; that if we live up to the obligations of it it will shine most brightly in our souls to eternity, and be no small addition to our everlasting glory and happiness; but if we should defile and profane this sacred mark of Christ by a sinful life, and, after these solemn engagements and the consecration of our souls to him, should become rebels and deserters, this same mark would appear in judgment against us; it would continue with us at the bar of divine justice, it would continue with us for ever as a mark of disgrace, a perpetual reproach among the damned, and an additional torture and gripe to the soul, for having once been dedicated to God, and having been so mad, so wretched, so wicked as to apostatize from him.

Conclude to bear always in mind the sacred character of thy confirmation, as well as that of thy baptism, that thou mayest live up to the obligations of them both. Be not terrified at the prospect of the conflicts thou must sustain or the crosses and hardships thou wilt have to go through in this warfare; 'the grace of God and his peace, which surpasseth all understanding,’ Phil. iv. 7, 'will support thee, and never suffer thee to be tempted above thy strength,’ 1 Cor. 13, 'but bring thee oft with comfort and victory.’ In token of which, the bishop, when he confirmed thee, gave thee a blow on the cheek, as a declaration of the adversities thou wast to sustain, but, at the same time, gave thee God’s peace, that thou mightest understand that God would be with thee in them all, and never leave thee.

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Admin

Administrator
16th June

2313


Trinity Sunday
On the Blessed Trinity


Consider first, that on this day the church sets before the eyes of our souls this principal mystery of the Christian faith, by which we believe one eternal God in three several persons, which we call the mystery of the blessed Trinity, or of three persons in one - three persons in one God. This is the great object of the Christian’s worship. This we ought to adore every day and every hour. Every Sunday in the year might be called Trinity Sunday, because every Sunday is set aside for the worship of this adorable Trinity, our Lord and our God. Yea, all our time belongs to him, and the great sacrifice that is offered daily on millions of altars throughout the world is principally designed to give sovereign adoration, homage, praise, and glory to the most holy Trinity. But then this day is more particularly appointed by the church, (which has now just finished celebrating the other great festivals relating to the mysteries of our redemption and sanctification, wrought by the three divine Persons,) in order to honour in a more particular manner the chief mystery of our religion. Come then, my soul, and come all ye Christian souls with me this day, and let us bow down all our powers to adore this incomprehensible mystery. The more it is above our reach the more worthy it is both of our faith and veneration.

Consider 2ndly, more in particular what our faith teaches us with relation to this mystery. We believe there is but one true and living God, and no more - eternal, incomprehensible, omnipotent, and infinite in all his attributes and perfections. In this one God we believe three distinct persons of the same substance and essence, and perfectly equal in age, in power, in wisdom, and in all perfections - the Father, who has no beginning, and proceeds from no one; the Son, who proceeds from the Father by an eternal and ineffable generation, as his living word and wisdom, the brightness of his glory, and the most perfect image of his person; and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. We believe that these three are one by having all three the same Godhead; that is, the same divine nature. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God, one Lord, one Almighty in three several Persons. This is the true Christian catholic belief of the mystery of the blessed Trinity essentially necessary for our eternal salvation. Let us, then, make frequent acts of faith concerning this sovereign truth - let us cast down every proud thought that offers to rebel against it - for God himself has taught it, who never can deceive nor be deceived.

Consider 3rdly, that it is not our faith alone, but our lives also, that must render proper homage to this adorable mystery of the eternal Trinity. ‘What will it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity,’ saith the servant of God, ‘if; through want of humility, thou be so disagreeable to the Trinity?' Humility of mind and heart is the most agreeable homage that man can pay to this infinite majesty. 'Heaven's my throne,’ saith he, Isaia. lxvi. 1,2, 'and the earth my footstool - my hand made all these things - but to whom shall I have respect but to him that is poor and little, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembled, at my words?’ Learn also from the epistle of this day, as a part of the homage thou owest to the most sacred Trinity, to adore in silence the depth of the sacred counsels and judgments of God, and the wisdom of his unsearchable ways, and in all events to give glory to him. ‘For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things - to him be glory for ever. Amen.’ Rom. xi. 36.

Conclude to come daily before the throne of the eternal Trinity with thy best homage of faith, love, and humility. Adore the almighty power of the Father, the infinite wisdom of the Son, and the incomprehensible goodness and love of the Holy Ghost. And give up the three powers of thy soul, and thy whole being, without reserve, to be ruled and disposed of for time and eternity by this infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.

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Admin

Administrator
17th June

2321



2320


Monday after Trinity Sunday
On the figures of the Blessed Eucharist. And first, of the Paschal Lamb


Consider first, that the Old Testament was a figure of the New; and that all the most remarkable events that are there recorded by the Spirit of God, have relation, in the way of prophetic figures, to Christ and his church of the New Testament. Thus the redemption or deliverance of the children of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt, was a figure of the redemption of man by Christ from the bondage of Satan and sin; and the means that were then ordered and appointed to be used as a preparation for their deliverance, were a figure of what was to be afterwards done by our redeemer for the deliverance of all mankind from a far worse slavery. Now it was appointed, Exod. xii., ‘That the children of Israel, the night before their going out of Egypt, should in all their families offer up an unspotted lamb in sacrifice, and that they should sprinkle their door-posts with the blood of the victim, as a sign for the destroying angel, who slew that night all the first-born of Egypt, to pass over their houses: and that they should eat the flesh of the lamb that same night, roasted at the fire, with unleavened bread, and wild lettuce; having their loins grit, their shoes on their feet and their staves in their hands, in readiness to take the journey which they were immediately to begin, in consequence of the deliverance of that night.’ See here, my soul, this illustrious figure - but now let us come to the application of it.

Consider therefore 2ndly, that this unspotted lamb, first offered in sacrifice, and then eaten in a sacred and mysterious sign or sacrament, was a lively figure of Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God, offered up in sacrifice for our redemption from sin and hell with the sprinkling of whose blood our souls are rescued from the power of Satan, and from the second death, and whose sacred flesh we are commanded to eat in the divine mysteries, as an earnest of the share we have in him and his sacrifice; as a sovereign means of communicating to our souls the fruit of our redemption, and all the graces purchased by our redeemer; as a pledge of our eternal happiness, and as a preparation and a viaticum for the great journey we are to make out of this Egypt of the world, to the true land of promise, the land of the living. O my soul, let us adore, praise, and give thanks to our Lord for these wonders he has wrought in our favour, in these heavenly mysteries. Let us embrace with all affection this Lamb of God, immolated for our sins; this Christian Pasch; this victim of our redemption this new sacrifice of the new covenant, the covenant of life and love. Let us frequently approach these mysteries, but see it be with due dispositions.

Consider 3rdly, that the paschal lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread and wild lettuce, to signify the dispositions of soul with which we ought to come to the Christian passover. Christ is now our Paschal Lamb. ‘Therefore,’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. v. 8, ‘let us feast not with the old leaven nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.’ So that a purity of intention, uprightness and simplicity of heart, and the sincere dispositions of a soul which desires to give herself up without reserve to her redeemer, are signified by the unleavened bread with which the pasch was to be eaten; as the wholesome bitterness of true repentance and contrition for our sins is signified by the bitter taste of the wild lettuce. And whereas it was also ordered, that in eating the paschal lamb they should have their loins girt up, their shoes on their feet, and their staves in their hands; we are to learn from these ceremonies, that if we would worthily approach the Lamb of God in the sacred mysteries, we must gird up the joins of our soul, by a resolute restraint on our passions and lusts; and have our feet, that is, the affections of the soul, ‘Shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,’ Eph. vi. 15, that is, with a readiness of heart to follow in all things the rules of the gospel, as the only way to true peace; and hold our staves in our hands, as pilgrims and travellers, not having any property or lasting dwelling here, but wholly bent on making the best of our way to our true country.

Conclude to frequent henceforward the great Christian passover of the most blessed Eucharist, with the dispositions of true Israelites leaving Egypt, and marching towards the land of promise. Ever consider it is the sacrifice and sacrament of your deliverance and redemption, and approach it with the devotion which this consideration requires; as the Israelites were commanded to solemnize by the annual devotion of the sacrifice and sacrament of the paschal lamb, the memory of their redemption from the Egyptian bondage.

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Admin

Administrator
18th June


2323



Tuesday after Trinity Sunday
Of the Manna and the Bread of Elias


Consider first, that the manna with which God fed the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness, from their going out of Egypt till their entering into the land of promise, was another prophetic emblem of the true bread of heaven which we receive in the blessed Eucharist. 'He commanded the clouds from above and opened the doors of heaven,’ says the Psalmist, lxxviii. 23-25. 'And he rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them the bread of heaven; man did eat the bread of angels.’ And yet this miraculous food, formed by angels and sent down from the clouds, and therefore called the bread of heaven and the bread of angels, was but a figure of that bread of life which we receive in the blessed sacrament - an illustrious figure indeed, but nothing in comparison with the truth. 'Moses did not give you bread from heaven,’ says our Lord to the Jews, John vi. (for the manna only came down from the clouds,) 'but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven - I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever,’ ver. 32, 51, 57, 58. O my soul, see thou embrace this living and life-giving bread.

Consider 2ndly, that the manna was the food upon which the people of God lived for forty years in the wilderness, but which ceased as soon as they came to eat of the fruits of the land of promise; to give us to understand that the bread of heaven which we here receive, veiled under the sacramental species, in the blessed Eucharist, is to be the food, nourishment, strength, and life of our souls during our mortal pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world till we come to the true land of promise, and there eat of the happy fruits of that blessed land of the living by the beatific vision and contemplation of the Divinity; and that then all the sacramental veils shall be removed, and we shall see and feed upon life and truth itself, face to face, for all eternity. Christians, if you hope to arrive one day at this happy land of promise, see you neglect nor to gather for your journey the manna of heaven by the frequent and worthy approaching the bread of life in the holy sacrament: without this support you will perish in the wilderness, and never reach your journey’s end. But if you would truly relish this heavenly manna you must take care not to let your palate be depraved, like the carnal Jews, by an affection to the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt.

Consider 3rdly, another figure of the heavenly food in that hearth cake of the prophet Elias, with which he was fed by an angel in the wilderness when he was flying from the persecution of Jezebel, 1 Kings xix, 'In the strength of which food he walked forty days and forty nights unto the mount of God at Horeb,’ v. 8, where he was favoured with a vision of the Deity, as far as man is capable of seeing him in this life. 'Arise, eat,’ said the angel to him, v. 7, ‘for thou hast yet a great way to go.’ All which expresses to us that retiring from the dangers and the contagion of a wicked world, as from the impious Jezebel, in order to make our journey to the mountain of God, the mountain of eternity, we must have recourse to this bread of heaven for our support on our way, for we have yet a great way to go, being far off from that perfection which is required before we can come to the vision of God; and this barren wilderness through which we are to travel affords us no proper food for our sustenance on the way but what we must have from heaven.

Conclude, my soul, if thou aspirest after this mountain of God and the happy vision of him, diligently to procure this bread of life, in the strength of which thou mayest walk during the forty days of thy pilgrimage to that blessed mountain. But remember that this bread was only given in the wilderness; that is, in retirement and solitude, and that the manna was not given until the people had left Egypt; and learn from thence that a spirit of recollection, and a purifying of the heart from the affections to the Egypt of this world, are the best dispositions for the bread of heaven.

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Admin

Administrator
19th June

2329


Wednesday after Trinity Sunday
Of other figures of the Blessed Sacrament


Consider first, that the sacrifice of Melchisedech, Gen. xiv. 28, in bread and wine, was another figure of the sacrifice and sacrament of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, as Melchisedech himself and his priesthood was an illustrious figure of Christ and his eternal priesthood, as we learn from Psalm cx. 4, and Heb. vii. And so like wise in the law of Moses, all those sacrifices commonly called peace-offerings, in which both the priest and the people were partakers of the victim, were also figures of Christ sacrificed for us and received by us. So many ways was the divine majesty pleased, both before the law and in the law, to show forth to us not only the sacrifice in which his Son should be both our priest and victim, but also the sacrament by which he should communicate his own flesh to us. Learn from hence, my soul, what reverence, what devotion thou owest to these tremendous mysteries, the very figures of which were so sacred and so venerable. It was a great crime if any one that was not clean and pure presumed to approach these ancient sacrifices what purity, then, is the Christian obliged to bring with him when he approaches the truth, of which these were but the shadows.

Consider 2ndly, that God appointed twelve loaves, made of fine flour, to stand always in his temple, before the veil of the Sanctum Sanctorum, or the inward sanctuary, placed there upon a table, made for that purpose of incorruptible wood, and overlaid with gold; and that the clearest frankincense should be put upon them; ‘that the bread might be for a memorial of the oblation of the Lord, by an everlasting covenant,’ Lev. xxiv. 5, 6, 7, 8. These loaves, called the holy bread, and the loaves of proposition or shew-bread, were also a figure of the holy Eucharist. They always stood before the Lord in his temple, as an offering made to him by his people, as a figure of that solemn offering which should be afterwards daily made under the form of bread in the church of Christ; the clearest frankincense was put upon them, to denote the pure prayer and devotion with which this offering was to be made; and they stood before the veil with the golden candlestick and the altar of perfumes, to signify that the sovereign means to bring our souls to God and to introduce us within the veil, into his eternal sanctuary, would be the right use of the bread of life which we have in the blessed Eucharist, joined with devout prayer and the lights and graces of the Spirit of God, signified by the seven branches of the golden candlestick.

Consider 3rdly, that the tree of life planted in the midst of the earthly Paradise, Gen. ii. 9, ‘was also a figure of the blessed sacrament.’ The fruit of this tree had that excellent property that if sin had not banished us from that happy abode we should have been maintained thereby in a constant vigour, strength, and health, and so should have never died. O how well does the blessed Eucharist answer this noble figure! seeing we here feed upon life itself in its very source, and by frequently and worthily approaching it receive a plentiful supply of heavenly grace, for the maintaining of the vigour, strength, and health of the soul; that so we may never incur the second death, but may pass from life to life, from the life of grace to the life of glory; from life concealed under sacramental veils to life seen and enjoyed without shadow or change to all eternity.

Conclude, from all these ancient types and figures, so noble and so expressive of the blessed Eucharist and its fruits, to raise thy thoughts and heart above this earth and all that is earthly in the use of this heavenly sacrament. And assure thyself that this divine mystery, so many ways prefigured both in the law of nature and in the law of Moses, must needs be something far superior to all types and figures.

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