Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY IN ADVENT
On this day the Church not
only makes mention in the office of the priest, but also in the
Mass, of the two different Advents of Christ, that by His first
gracious advent may be gladdened, and by His last terrible coming
at the day of judgment we may be impressed with salutary fear. With
this intention she cries out at the Introit:
People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations;
and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard in the
joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel:
thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten
Son: that through His advent we may be worthy to serve Thee with
purified minds; who livest and reignest with God the Father, in
union with the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what things soever were written,
were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort
of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and
of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according
to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may
glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive
one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of
God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision
for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.
But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is
written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles,
with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and
magnify him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall
be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles,
in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with
all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and
in the power of the Holy Ghost.
does St. Paul teach in this epistle?
The Jews and Gentiles who
had been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among themselves
at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain kinds of
food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted that the
Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation, thus claiming
Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached the Jews for
their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore harmony St.
Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles alike, to
praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all; that each
had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for salvation; and
he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope by contentions.
By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too, have great
reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us, whose forefathers
were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to guard against losing
our salvation by pride, envy, impurity, etc.
should we read the Scriptures?
That we may know what we
are to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired
by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct
in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has
done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our sufferings,
and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To derive this
benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them by the
light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into existence,
who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is, the light
of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may be
read according to the sense
of the Church and not be explained according to the reader's judgment.
For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his own private
judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity diverge from the
right path, become entangled in manifold doubts, and at last, lose
the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic Church has very
properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as has been falsely
asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she allows the reading
of those editions only, which are accompanied by notes and explanations
that the unity of faith may not be disturbed, and that among Catholics
there may not be the terrible bewilderment of the human intellect
which has taken place among the different heretical sects who have
even declared murder, bigamy and impurity to be permissible on the
authority of the Bible. We are to consider also, that Christ never
commanded the Bible to be written or read, and that not the readers
but the hearers and the followers of the word of God by which is
meant those who hear the word of God in sermons, and keep it, will
Further instruction in regard
to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the "Instruction
for Easter Tuesday."
is God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of hope?
He is called a God of patience
because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because He gives
us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so consoles
us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope, because
He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be Himself
the reward we are to expect after this life.
O God of patience, of consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts
with peace and joy, and grant that we may become perfect in all
good, and by faith, hope and charity, attain the promised salvation.
(Mt. 11:2‑10). At that time, when John had
heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples,
he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for
another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to
John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk,
the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the
poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall
not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began
to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into
the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you
out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are
clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went
you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet.
For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Angel before
thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
was John in prison?
He was in prison, and lost
his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous marriage
with his brother's wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb says,
is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a very
ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the truth
very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let us
learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it,
even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with
St. John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become
martyrs for truth.
did St. John send his disciples to Christ?
That they should learn from
Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles,
that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world,
whom they should follow.
did Christ say to the disciples of St. John: "Go
and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk, etc."?
That they should, by His
miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had predicted
that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). "Christ,"
says St. Cyril, "proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur
as well as by the number of His miracles."
does Christ add: "And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized
Christ used these words in
reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility
and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would
doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though "man,"
as St. Gregory says, "owes all the more love to the Lord, his
God, the more humiliations He has borne for him."
was our Lord's object in the questions He asked concerning St. John?
His object was to remove
from St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise
the perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened
with death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus constituting
him an example to all preachers, confessors and superiors, that
they may never be deterred by human respect, or fear
of man, or other temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling
their duties. Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited
by St. John's coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn,
from his example, penance and mortification.
does Christ say that John was "more than a prophet"?
Because St. John was foretold
by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all
the prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ
and could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because
like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the
Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.
did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?
By his sermons on penance,
and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts
of the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to
receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His
grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true repentance.
O Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy
forerunner St. John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our
hearts with love to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that
we may never do anything to please man which may be displeasing
to Thee; grant us also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may
have those who are confided to our care, instructed in the Christian
"The God of patience
and of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing" (Rom. 15:5,13).
gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?
The strong and fervent belief
that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our
own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the
will or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death,
poverty and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received
good things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in
his affliction, "why should we not receive evil?"
We should be fully convinced
that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head
shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to
us by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence
that if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings,
if it be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as
not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget,
yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands
(Is. 49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the
future life, which we will merit by patience in our sufferings,
for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation,
worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory
(II Cor. 4:17); we should remember that all complaints and murmurs
against the dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm
and shame; Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4)
we should have a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have
long since deserved the eternal punishments of hell - hence the
well-known saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn,
but spare me in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven
than the way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother,
and all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered
these things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through
many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21).
And we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs
of God's love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom
the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He
receiveth (Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).
IN SORROW O almighty, kind and merciful God! who
hast said: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver
thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 49:15), behold relying
upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give honor to
Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to Thee and
beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only help. Amen.