Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
In the Introit
of this day's Mass the Church calls upon all creatures to thank
God for the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.
Let all the earth adore Thee, O God and sing to Thee: let it sing
a psalm to Thy name (Ps. 65:4). Shout with joy to God all the earth,
sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise (Ps. 65:1-2).
Glory be to the Father.
Almighty and eternal God, Who disposest all things in heaven and
on earth: mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and give
Thy peace to our times. Through our Lord.
(Rom.12:6-16). Brethren: We have different gifts, according to the
grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to
the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth
in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with
simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that sheweth mercy
with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that
which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another
the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in
carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing
in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating
to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality: bless them
that persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that
rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind, one towards
another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble.
Be not wise in your own conceits.
St. Paul in this epistle exhorts every Christian to make
good use of the gifts of God; if one receives an office, he must
see well to it, so that he can give an account to God of the faithful
performance of his duties. He exhorts especially to brotherly love
which we should practice by charitable works; such as, receiving
strangers hospitably, giving alms to those who are in need, and
to those who by misfortune or injustice have lost their property;
he commands us, at the same time, to rejoice in the welfare of our
neighbor, as we rejoice at our own good fortune, and to grieve at
his misfortunes as we would over those which befall us.
is brotherly love best preserved?
By the virtue
of humility which makes us esteem our neighbor above ourselves,
consider his good qualities only, bear patiently his defects, and
always meet him in a friendly, respectful, and indulgent manner.
Humility causes us to live always in peace with our fellowmen, while
among the proud, where each wishes to be the first, there is continual
strife and dissatisfaction (Prov. 13:10).
to expect a severe sentence from God, who merely for temporal gain,
seek profitable offices, and thrust themselves therein whether capable
or not, and if capable care very little whether they fulfill the
duties required, or perhaps make the fulfillment of them depend
upon bribes. Of such God makes terrible complaint: Thy princes (judges)
are faithless, companions of thieves: they all love bribes, they
run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless; and the widow's
cause comes not into them (Is. 1:23). A most severe judgment shall
be for them that bear rule (Wisd. 6:6).
Grant us, O Lord, Thy grace, that according to Thy will, we
may follow the instructions of St. Paul in regard to humility and
love, have compassion upon all suffering and needy, think little
of ourselves, and descend to the lowest, that we may, one day, be
elevated with them in heaven.
(Jn. 2:1-11). At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee:
and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and
his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother
of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus with to her:
Woman, what is it to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His
mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do
ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according
to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three
measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water.
And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw
out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried
it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and
knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water;
the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every
man at first setteth forth good wine; and when men have well drank,
then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until
now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee: and
manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
was Christ and His mother present at this marriage?
In order to
honor this humble and God-fearing couple who, with faithful hearts,
had invited Him and His mother to their wedding; to give us an example
of humility; to assist them in their poverty, and save their good
name by changing water into wine; to reveal His dignity as the Messiah
to His disciples by this miracle; and to sanctify by His presence
the marriages that are contracted in the spirit of the Church.
Alas! how few
marriages of our time could Jesus honor with His presence, because
He is invited neither by fervent prayer, nor by the chaste life
of the couple: He is excluded rather, by the frequent immorality
of the married couple and their guests.
was Mary interested in this married couple?
is merciful, and the Mother of Mercy, and willingly assists all
the poor and afflicted who fear God. From this incident, St. Bonaventure
judges of the many graces which we can hope for through Mary, now
that she reigns in heaven; "For," says he, "if Mary
while yet on earth was so compassionate, how much more so is she
now, reigning in heaven!" He gives the reason by adding: "Mary
now that she sees the face
of God, knows our necessities far better than when she was on earth,
and in proportion to the increase of her compassion, her power to
aid us has been augmented." Ah! why do we not take refuge in
all our necessities to this merciful mother, who although unasked
assists the needy?
did Christ say to Mary: Woman, what is it to me and to thee?
harsh reply of Christ was no reproach, for Mary had made her request
only through love and mercy, and Christ calls those blessed who
are merciful, but he wished to show that in the performance of divine
work, the will of His heavenly Father alone should be consulted.
He meant to remind her that He had not received the gift of miracles
from her as the son of woman, but from His eternal Father, in accordance
with whose will He would do that which she asked when the hour designed
by God would come. Though the hour had not come, yet He granted
the wish of His mother, who knew that her divine
Son refused none of her requests, and so she said to the servants:
"Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." Behold the great
power of Mary's intercession! Neglect not, therefore, to take refuge
in this most powerful mother!
are we taught by the words: My hour is not yet come?
teach us that we should in all things await God's appointed time,
and in things belonging to God and His honor, act only by divine
direction, without any human motives.
does the scarcity of wine signify?
In a spiritual
sense the want of wine may be understood to signify the
lack of love between married people, which is principally the case
with those who enter this state through worldly motives, for the
sake of riches, beauty of person, or who have before marriage kept
up sinful intercourse. These should ask God for the forgiveness
of their sins, bear
the hardships of married life in the spirit of penance, and change
the wrong motives they had before marriage; by doing so God will
supply the scarcity of wine, that is the lack of true love, and
change the waters of misery into the wine of patient affection.
did Christ command them to take the wine to the steward?
That the steward,
whose office required him to be attentive to the conduct
of the guests, and to know the quality of the wine, should give
his judgment in regard to the excellence of this, and be able to
testify to the miracle before all the guests.
O my most merciful Jesus! I would rather drink in this world
the sour wine of misery than the sweet wine of pleasure, that in
heaven I may taste the perfect wine of eternal joy.
ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
the perfect, indissoluble union of two free persons of different
sex, for the purpose of propagating the human race, mutually to
bear the burdens of life and to prevent sin (I Cor. 7:2).
the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:27-28). He brought to man the
helpmate, whom He formed from one of the ribs of Adam, that she
who came from his heart, might never depart therefrom, but cling
to him in the indissoluble bond of love (Gen. 2:18, 24). To this
original, divine institution Christ refers (Mt. 19:4-6), and the
Church declares the bond of marriage perpetual and indissoluble.
Matrimony a Sacrament?
to the testimony of the Fathers, the Church has held it such from
the times of the apostles, which she could not do, had Christ not
raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament. St. Paul even calls it
a great Sacrament, because it is symbolical of the perpetual union
of Christ with His Church; and the Council of Trent declares: "If
any one says that Matrimony is not really and truly one of the seven
Sacraments of the Church instituted by Christ, but an invention
of men that imparts no grace, let him be anathema" (Conc. Trid.,
Sess. XXIV, can. 1).
graces does this Sacrament impart?
The grace of
preserving matrimonial fidelity inviolate: the grace of educating
children as Christians; of patiently enduring the unavoidable difficulties
of married life, and of living peaceably with each other. Married
people are indeed greatly in need of these graces, in order to fulfil
their mutual obligations.
is the external sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony?
The union of
two single persons in Matrimony, which according to the regulations
of the Council of Trent (Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV, can. 1), must
be formed publicly in the presence of the pastor, or with his permission
before another priest, and two witnesses.
preparations are to be made to receive the grace of this Sacrament?
1. The first
and best preparation is a pure and pious life. 2. The light of the
Holy Ghost should be invoked to know whether one is called to this
state of life. 3. The parents and the father-confessor should be
asked for advice. 4. The choice should be made in regard to a Christian
heart, and a gentle disposition rather than to beauty and wealth.
5. The immediate preparation is, to purify the conscience, if it
has not already been done, by a good general confession, and by
the reception of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. Before their
marriage the young couple should ask their parents' blessing, should
hear the nuptial Mass with devotion, with the intention of obtaining
God's grace to begin their new state of life well, and finally they
should commend themselves with confidence to the protection of the
Blessed Virgin Mary and her spouse St. Joseph.
are there so many unhappy marriages?
many people prepare the way by sins and vices, and continue to sin
without interruption, and without true amendment until marriage,
therefore always make sacrilegious confessions, even perhaps immediately
before marriage. Besides this many enter the married life on account
of carnal intentions, or other earthly motives; in many cases they
do not even ask God for His grace; without any proper preparation
for such an important, sacred act, on their marriage day they go
to church with levity and afterwards celebrate their wedding with
but little modesty. Is it any wonder that such married people receive
no blessing, no grace, when they render themselves so unworthy?
did God institute married life?
might be brought up honestly and as Christians, and that they should
be instructed especially in matters of faith; that married people
should sustain each other in the difficulties of life, and mutually
exhort one another to a pious life; and lastly, that the sin of
impurity might be avoided. For they who in such manner receive matrimony
as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to
give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have
not understanding, over them the devil hath power (Too. 6:17).
what intentions should the married state be entered?
With such intentions
as the young Tobias and his bride had, who before the marriage ceremony,
ardently prayed God for His grace, and took their wedding breakfast
in the fear of the Lord (Too. 14:15). Hence God's blessing was with
them until death. If all young people would enter the married state
thus, it would certainly be holy, God-pleasing
and blessed, and the words of St. Paul, spoken to wives, would come
true unto them: Yet she shall be saved by bearing children, if she
continue in faith, and love, and sanctification with sobriety (I
are the bans of marriage published three times in Church?
That all impediments
which would render the marriage unlawful may be made known. Such
impediments are: consanguinity, clandestine marriages, etc. Therefore,
any one who is aware of such impediments, is bound to make them
known to the pastor.
is the marriage performed in the presence of the parish priest?
Catholic Church expressly declares that those marriages which are
not performed in presence of the pastor, or with his permission
before another priest, and two witnesses, are null and void (Conc.
Trid., Sess. XXIV can. 1)1;
and because the blessing of the priest, which he imparts in the
name of the Church, gives the couple, if they are in a state of
grace, strength, fortitude and grace to be faithful to each other,
to endure all trials patiently, and to be safe from all the influences
of the evil enemy."
do they join hands before the priest, and two witnesses?
By this they
bind themselves before God and His Church to remain true to each
other, and to be ready to assist each other in all adversities.
The bridegroom puts a ring on the bride's finger which should remind
her of her duty of inviolable fidelity; to this end the priest signs
and seals this holy union with the unbloody Sacrifice of the New
the bond of marriage be dissolved in the Catholic Church?
A valid marriage,
contracted with the free consent of each of the parties, can according
to the plain doctrine of the Scriptures, the constant teaching and
practice of the Church, be dissolved only by the death of one of
the parties. If the pope or a bishop, for important reasons, gives
a divorce, this is only partial, and neither can marry again while
the other lives. Such a marriage would not be valid. How pure and
holy are the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this
the most important and sacred of all human relations, preserving
its inviolability and sanctity; while, on the contrary, by means
of the wanton doctrine of the heretics, which for trivial reasons
entirely dissolves the marriage contract, this sacred union is made
the deepest ignominy of mankind, and the play-ball of human passions
is thought of mixed marriages, or marriages between Catholics and
Church has always condemned such marriages, because of the great
dangers to which the Catholic party is unavoidably exposed as well
as the offspring. Such marriages promote indifference in matters
of religion, by which the spiritual life of the soul is destroyed;
they are a hindrance to domestic peace, cause mutual aversion, quarrels,
and confusion; they give scandal to servants; they interfere with
the Christian education of the children, even render it impossible,
and they frequently lead to apostasy and despair. But the Catholic
Church condemns especially those mixed marriages, in which either
all or a number of the children are brought up in heresy, and she
can never bless and look upon those as her children who do not fear
to withdraw themselves and their own children from the only saving
faith, and expose them to the danger of eternal ruin. Therefore,
those Catholics who enter the matrimonial union with Protestants,
although the marriage if lawfully contracted is valid, commit a
mortal sin if they permit their children to be brought up in heresy,
and should it not be their full intention to bring up their children
in the Catholic faith at the time of their marriage, they would
commit a sacrilege.
should the newly married couple do immediately after the ceremony
kneel and thank God for the graces received in this holy Sacrament,
in such or similar words: "Ratify, we beseech Thee, O Lord,
that which by Thy grace Thou hast wrought in us, that we may keep
that which in Thy presence we have promised unto the day of our
Lord Jesus Christ." That they may keep their promise made at
the altar, they should always remember the duties laid down to them
by the priest at the time of their marriage, and the exhortations
which are taken from the epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Eph.
5:29, 31), wherein he instructs married people how they should comport
themselves towards each other, and recalls to them as an example
the union of Christ with His Church, and His love for her. To the
husbands he says, they should love their wives as Christ loved His
Church, for which He even gave Himself up to death; from this is
seen, that men should assist their wives even unto death, in all
need, and not treat them as servants. To the wives St. Paul says,
that they as the weaker should be in all reasonable things obedient
to their husbands, as the Church is obedient to Christ; for as Christ
is the head of the Church, so is the husband the head of the wife.
Experience proves there is no better way for women to win the hearts
of their husbands than by amiable obedience and ready love, while,
on the contrary, a querulous, imperative deportment robs them of
their husbands' affections, and even causes them to be regarded
with aversion. St. Paul says further; that husbands should love
their wives (and consequently wives their husbands) as their own
bodies, because married people are, as it were, one. They shall
be two in one flesh; no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth
and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church (Eph. 5:29, 31).
How unjustly and barbarously do those act, who, instead of loving
one another, rather hate and outrage each other, and cause the loss
of their property, and by detraction steal their honor! These do
not consider that he who hates and disgraces his partner in life,
hates and disgraces himself; while according to the words of St.
Paul he who loves her, loves himself. If married people would remain
in constant love and unity, it is most necessary that they should
patiently bear with each other's infirmities, wrongs, and defects,
exhort one another with mildness and affection, keep their adversities,
trials, and sufferings as much as possible to themselves, and complain
in prayer only to God, who alone can aid them. By impatience, quarrels,
and complaints the cross becomes only heavier and the evil worse.
Finally, not only on their wedding day, but often through life,
they should earnestly consider that they have not entered the married
state that they may inordinately serve the pleasures of the body,
but to have children who will one day inhabit heaven according to
the will of God; as the angel said to Tobias: "For they who
in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves
and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust as the
horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil
hath power" (Tob. 6:17).
Most merciful Jesus! who didst work Thy first miracle at the wedding
in Cana by changing water into wine, thereby revealing Thy divine
power and majesty, and honoring matrimony: grant we beseech Thee,
that Thy faithful may ever keep sacred and inviolate the holy sacrament
of Matrimony, and that they may so live in it truthfully, in the
fear of the Lord, that they may not put an obstacle in the way of
obtaining heaven for themselves, and their children.
In all such dioceses of the United States, where the Council of
Trent has not been published, civil marriages are considered valid.
The Catholic, however, who becomes married by civil authority commits
a mortal sin, except in case of extreme necessity. To be married
by a sectarian preacher is looked upon as a denial of faith, and