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Baltimore Catechism

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An

Explanation

Of The

Baltimore Catechism

of Christian Doctrine

 

Also known as

BALTIMORE CATECHISM No. 4

{For The Use of

Sunday-School Teachers and Advanced Classes}

 

by

Rev. Thomas L. Kinkead

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nihil Obstat:

D. J. McMahon

Censor Librorum

 

Imprimatur:

+ Michael Augustine

Archbishop of New York

New York, September 5, 1891

 

 

Nihil Obstat:

Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D.

Censor Librorum

 

Imprimatur:

+ Patrick J. Hayes, D.D.

Archbishop of New York

New York, June 29, 1921

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

{Transcriber's Note: This book is commonly known as "The Baltimore

Catechism No. 4" and is the last part of a four volume e-text

collection. See the author's note to Baltimore Catechism No. 3 for the

background and purpose of the series. This e-text collection is

substantially based on files generously provided by

http://www.catholic.net/ with some missing material transcribed and

added for this release. Transcriber's notes in this series are placed

within braces, and usually prefixed "T.N.:".}

 

APPROBATIONS

 

His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons:

"I thank you for the copy of The Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism

which has just reached me. A Religious spoke to me in very high terms of

your book. I regard the opinion as of great value."

 

Most Rev. M. A. Corrigan, D.D., Archbishop of New York:

"I congratulate you on the good which it is likely to do."

 

Most Rev. William Henry Elder, D.D., Archbishop of Cincinnati:

"I think the work will be a very serviceable one. I hope it will meet

with great success."

 

Most Rev. Thomas L. Grace, D.D., Archbishop of Siunia:

"Your book entitled An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism supplies a

want which is generally felt by the clergy and others engaged in

teaching Catechism. Apart from the very satisfactory development of the

answers to the questions and apt illustrations of the subjects treated,

the additional questions inserted in your book give it a special value."

 

Most Rev. P. J. Ryan, D.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia:

"Your explanation of the Baltimore Catechism is excellent and must be of

very great service to teachers of Sunday schools and to all who desire a

clear exposition of Catholic doctrine, either for themselves or to

communicate it to others. We give the work our cordial approval."

 

Most Rev. William J. Walsh, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of

Ireland:

"I have had a copy of your admirable work for some weeks past, and on

several points it has been of very great use to me and to the committee

[a committee of professors of theology, moral as well as dogmatic;

priests of long and of wide experience in the work of instructing

children in the Catechism; experienced examiners of children;

accomplished scholars and writers of English; members both of religious

and of secular collegiate communities; and representatives of the

missionary priesthood, secular and regular, appointed to draft a new

Catechism]."

 

Right Rev. D. M. Bradley, D.D., Bishop of Manchester:

"I am sure this 'Explanation' will be welcomed by the teachers in our

schools and indeed by all whose duty it may be to instruct others in the

teachings of the Church."

 

Right Rev. Thomas F. Brennan, D.D., Bishop of Dallas:

"I like the book very much and will not only recommend it to the priests

and good sisters of my diocese, but will also use it myself at catechism

every Sunday in the Cathedral. The list of questions and general index

render its use very easy."

 

Right Rev. M. E. Burke, D.D., Bishop of Cheyenne:

"Your Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism is excellent, and it

supplies a much needed means of useful and necessary catechetical

instruction for our Sunday schools. It will be found an excellent

textbook for Catholic schools and academies throughout the country and a

most useful manual for all who are engaged in the instruction of our

children."

 

Right Rev. L. De Goesbriand, D.D., Bishop of Burlington:

"I consider your book, the Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, as an

admirable work. Nothing can be found more clear, more satisfactory."

 

Right Rev. John Foley, D.D., Bishop of Detroit:

"I congratulate you upon producing a work so useful to those having

charge of souls in such clear, concise, and instructive a style. I shall

gladly commend it to the Rev. Clergy."

 

Right Rev. H. Gabriels, D.D., Bishop-elect of Ogdensburg:

"Your book will furnish solid material to priests who wish to preach at

low Masses the catechetical instructions prescribed by the council of

Baltimore. A rapid perusal of some of its pages has convinced me that it

is just what was often looked for in vain in this important branch of

the holy ministry."

 

Right Rev. N. A. Gallagher, D.D., Bishop of Galveston:

"Having read your Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, I wish to say

that it is in my opinion a very useful book for priests as well as for

teachers; and that it is a valuable book to place in the hands of those

who wish to become acquainted with the teachings of Holy Church. I have

just ordered ten copies from the Publishers for my own distribution."

 

Right Rev. Leo Haid, O.S.B., D.D., Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina:

"I am very glad you gave us such a sensible, simple, and complete

explanation of the Baltimore Catechism. I wish it were in the hands of

every teacher of Christian doctrine. In this Vicariate, where priests

are few, and often obliged to receive converts into the Church without

that thorough instruction which resident pastors can give, your book

will be hailed with joy. I will do my utmost to make it known. Please

send me one dozen copies."

 

Right Rev. John J. Hennessy, D.D. Bishop of Wichita:

"From what I have seen of your book I am delighted with the method which

you have adopted for explanation. It makes the Catechism easy and

interesting to both teacher and pupil. I shall heartily recommend your

book to our clergy for introduction into our schools."

 

Right Rev. A. Junger, D.D., Bishop of Nesqually:

"I am sure your work will not fail to obtain its object. There is not

the least doubt that it will be of the greatest and best use for Sunday

school teachers and advanced classes who will make use of it, and to

whom we highly recommend it. Such a work was needed, as our Baltimore

Catechism does not and cannot contain all the necessary explanations."

 

Right Rev. John J. Keane, D.D., Rector of the Catholic University,

Washington:

"The character of the work speaks for itself."

 

Right Rev. W. G. McCloskey, D.D., Bishop of Louisville:

"What I have already seen of it gives me the impression that it is a

meritorious work which ought to be encouraged."

 

Right Rev. James McGolrick, D.D., Bishop of Duluth:

"I think you have prepared a thoroughly practical work in your

Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism. You have in well selected and

plain English enabled teachers to give useful lessons from the text

itself without the need of resort to other books. Your book will find

its way to the desk of every Catholic teacher, and we hope to the home

of every Catholic family. I am glad you marked the Scripture references,

for the higher classes after Confirmation can unite their Scripture

lessons with such study of your book as to prepare themselves for

teaching. Your series of questions and good index are certainly very

useful."

 

Right Rev. Camillus P. Maes, D.D., Bishop of Covington:

"I have examined your Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism on some of

the most important points of doctrine and morals. I find its teachings

sound, and the manner of presenting them practical. I take pleasure in

commending your book to priests and teachers, and in congratulating you

for having bestowed so much time on the greatest of all pastoral work,

viz: giving children a thorough and sound knowledge of Holy Church and

of her divine teachings."

 

Right Rev. C. E. McDonnell, D.D., Bishop-elect of Brooklyn:

"I beg you to accept my hearty congratulations."

 

Right Rev. R. Manogue, D.D., Bishop of Sacramento:

"We have ponderous works from distinguished authors on the Catechism in

general, but yours--An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism--is the

simplest, most concise, most natural and instructive I have yet

encountered. It is good not only for advanced pupils, teachers,

preachers and priests, but also for the sacred precincts of every

Catholic family."

 

Right Rev. Tobias Mullen, D.D., Bishop of Erie:

"Your book appears to me a very meritorious production. In your preface

you observe it has been designed for the use of Sunday school teachers

and that it 'should do good in any Catholic family' I think you might

have added that any clergyman having the care of souls, whether giving

private instructions or preparing for the pulpit, would derive great

benefits from its perusal."

 

Right Rev. H. P. Northrop, D.D., Bishop of Charleston:

"The Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, plain and practical, clear

and comprehensive, was a work very much needed. From a general

examination, I think you have done your work well, and you deserve the

thanks of all teachers of catechism and those who have charge of our

schools. You have simplified the work of the teacher by putting in his

hand such a ready handbook and commentary on the text he is supposed to

explain. If they do what they expect their pupils to do--study the

lesson--with such a help as you have furnished them, the work of the

Sunday school will be much more satisfactory. I hope the hearty

appreciation of those for whom you have labored will crown your work

with abundant success."

 

Right Rev. Henry Joseph Richter, D.D., Bishop of Grand Rapids:

"The aim of your book is excellent. To judge from the portions which I

have read, your labor has been successful. I recommend the book to all

Catholic adults, but especially to teachers and converts, as a

convenient handbook of appropriate, plain, and solid instructions on the

doctrine of the Catholic Church."

 

Right Rev. S. V. Ryan, D.D., Bishop of Buffalo:

"I think your work fully meets all you claim for it. It will serve as a

good textbook for an advanced catechism class, and a very useful

handbook for catechists in instructing converts or our own people what

they should know and what they are bound to believe in regard to our

holy faith. The book will, I think, do good in any Catholic family."

 

Right Rev. L. Scanlan, D.D., Bishop of Salt Lake:

"I consider it a most useful if not necessary book, not only for Sunday

school teachers and for advanced classes, but for all who may desire to

have a clear, definite knowledge of Christian doctrine."

 

 

CONTENTS

 

PRAYERS

 

The Lord's Prayer

The Angelical Salutation

The Apostles' Creed

The Confiteor

An Act of Faith

An Act of Hope

An Act of Love

An Act of Contrition

The Blessing before Meals

Grace after Meals

The Manner in Which a Lay Person Is to Baptize in Case of Necessity

 

 

CATECHISM

 

Lesson 1--On the End of Man

Lesson 2--On God and His Perfections

Lesson 3--On the Unity and Trinity of God

Lesson 4--On Creation

Lesson 5--On Our First Parents and the Fall

Lesson 6--On Sin and Its Kinds

Lesson 7--On the Incarnation and Redemption

Lesson 8--On Our Lord's Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension

Lesson 9--On the Holy Ghost and His Descent upon the Apostles

Lesson 10--On the Effects of the Redemption

Lesson 11--On the Church

Lesson 12--On the Attributes and Marks of the Church

Lesson 13--On the Sacraments in General

Lesson 14--On Baptism

Lesson 15--On Confirmation

Lesson 16--On the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Lesson 17--On the Sacrament of Penance

Lesson 18--On Contrition

Lesson 19--On Confession

Lesson 20--On the Manner of Making a Good Confession

Lesson 21--On Indulgences

Lesson 22--On the Holy Eucharist

Lesson 23--On the Ends for which the Holy Eucharist Was Instituted

Lesson 24--On the Sacrifice of the Mass

Lesson 25--On Extreme Unction and Holy Orders

Lesson 26--On Matrimony

Lesson 27--On the Sacramentals

Lesson 28--On Prayer

Lesson 29--On the Commandments of God

Lesson 30--On the First Commandment

Lesson 31--The First Commandment--On the Honor and Invocation of the

           Saints

Lesson 32--From the Second to the Fourth Commandment

Lesson 33--From the Fourth to the Seventh Commandment

Lesson 34--From the Seventh to the Tenth Commandment

Lesson 35--On the First and Second Commandments of the Church

Lesson 36--On the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Commandments of the

           Church

Lesson 37--On the Last Judgment and Resurrection, Hell, Purgatory and

           Heaven

 

PREFACE

It must be evident to all who have had experience in the work of our

Sunday schools that much time is wasted in the classes. Many teachers do

little more than mark the attendance and hear the lessons; this being

done, time hangs heavily on their hands till the school is dismissed.

They do not or cannot explain what they are teaching, and the children

have no interest in the study.

 

The Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism is intended for their use.

The explanations are full and simple. The examples are taken from Holy

Scripture, from the parables of Our Lord, from incidents in His life,

and from the customs and manners of the people of His time. These are

made applicable to our daily lives in reflections and exhortations.

 

The plan of the book makes it very simple and handy. The Catechism is

complete and distinct in itself, and may be used with or without the

explanations. The teacher is supposed, after hearing the lesson, to read

the explanation of the new lesson as far as time will allow. It may be

read just as it is, or may be learned by the teacher and given to the

children in substance.

 

The Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism will be found very useful

also for the instruction of adults and converts. The priest on the

mission is often called upon to instruct persons who can come to him but

seldom, and only for a short time; and who, moreover, are incapable of

using with profit such books as The Faith of Our Fathers, Catholic

Belief, or works of controversy. They are simply able to use the Child's

Catechism when explained to them. If the Explanation of the Baltimore

Catechism is in their hands, they may read the explanations and study

the Catechism with pleasure.

 

Indeed the book should do good in any Catholic family. The majority of

our people are children as far as their religious knowledge goes. They

may, it is true, have books on particular subjects, such as the Duties

of Parents to Their Children, The Sure Way to a Happy Marriage, etc.;

but a book that explains to them in the simplest manner all the truths

of their religion, and applies the same to their daily lives, ought to

be useful.

 

The chief aim of the book is to be practical, and to teach Catholics

what they should know, and how these truths of their Catechism are

constantly coming up in the performance of their everyday duties. It is

therefore neither a book of devotion nor of controversy, though it

covers the ground of both. As in this book the explanations are

interrupted by the questions and answers of the Catechism proper, it

will, it is hoped, be read with more pleasure than a book giving solid

page after page of instructions.

 

Wherever a fact is mentioned as being taken from Holy Scripture, it will

generally be given in substance and not in the exact text; though the

reference will always be given, so that those wishing may read it as it

is in the Holy Scripture. The children are not supposed to memorize the

explanation as they do the Catechism itself, yet the teacher, having

once read it to them, should ask questions on it. The book may be used

as a textbook or catechism for the more advanced classes, and the

complete list of numbered questions on the explanations--given at the

end--will render it very serviceable for that purpose.

 

As the same subject often occurs in different parts of the Catechism,

explanations already given may sometimes be repeated. This is done

either to show the connection between the different parts of the

Catechism, or to impress the explanation more deeply on the minds of the

children, or to save the teacher the trouble of always turning back to

preceding explanations. The numbering of the questions and answers

throughout the Catechism, and the complete index of subjects and list of

questions at the end, will, it is hoped, make these comparisons and

references easy, and the book itself useful.

 

With the hope, then, that the Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism may

do all the good intended, I commend it to all who desire a fuller

knowledge of their holy religion that they may practice it more

faithfully.

 

Rev. Thomas L. Kinkead

June 21, 1891,

Feast of St. Aloysius

 

AN

EXPLANATION

OF THE

BALTIMORE CATECHISM

OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

 

Basic Catholic Prayers

 

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily

bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass

against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

 

This is the most beautiful and best of all prayers, because Our Lord

Himself made it. (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2). One day when He was praying and

explaining to His Apostles the great advantages of prayer, one of them

said to Him: "Lord, teach us to pray." Then Jesus taught them this

prayer. It contains everything we need or could ask for. We cannot see

its full meaning at once. The more we think over it, the more clearly we

understand it. We could write whole pages on almost every word, and

still not say all that could be said about this prayer. It is called

"the Lord's," because He made it, and sometimes the "Our Father," from

the first words.

 

We say "Our," to show that we are all brethren, and that God is the

Father of us all, and therefore we pray not for ourselves alone but for

all God's children.

 

We say "Father," because God really is our Father. We do not mean here

by Father the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, but the Blessed

Trinity itself--one God. What does a father do for his children? He

gives them their natural existence, provides them with food and

clothing, teaches, protects, and loves them, shares with them all that

he has, and when he dies leaves them his possessions. Now, in all these

ways, and in a much truer sense, God is our Father. He created us and

gives us all that is necessary to sustain life. He gives light, heat,

and air, without any one of which we could not live. He provides for us

also food and clothing, and long before we need or even think of these

things God is thinking of them. Did you ever reflect upon just how much

time and trouble it costs to produce for you even one potato, of which

you think so little? About two years before you need that potato, God

puts it into the mind of the farmer to save the seed that he may plant

it the following year. In the proper season he prepares the ground with

great care and plants the seed. Then God sends His sunlight and rain to

make it grow, but the farmer's work is not yet ended: he must continue

to keep the soil in good condition and clear away the weeds. In due time

the potato is taken from the ground, brought to the market, carried to

your house, cooked and placed before you. You take it without even

thinking, perhaps, of all this trouble, or thanking God for His

goodness. This is only one article of food, and the same may be said of

all the rest. Your clothing is provided for you long before you need it.

The little lamb upon whose back the wool is growing, from which your

coat is someday to be made, is even now far away on some mountain,

growing stronger with the food God gives it till you need its wool. The

little pieces of coal, too, that you so carelessly throw upon the fire

were formed deep down in the earth hundreds of years ago. God produces

all you use, because He foresees and knows you will use it. Moreover He

protects us from danger; He teaches us by the voice of our conscience

and the ministers of His Church, our priests and bishops. He loves us

too, as we may learn from all that He does for us, and from the many

times He forgives us our sins. He shares what He possesses with us. He

has given us understanding and a free will resembling His own. He has

given us immortality, i.e., when once He has created us, we shall exist

as long as Himself--that is, forever. When Our Lord died on the Cross,

He left us His many possessions--His graces and merits, the holy

Sacraments, and Heaven itself.

 

It is surely, then, just and right to call God Father. Our natural

fathers give us only what they, themselves, get from God. So even what

they give us also comes from Him.

 

Before the time of Our Lord, the people in prayer did not call God

Father. They feared Him more than they loved Him. When He spoke to

them--as He did when He gave the Commandments to Moses--it was in

thunder, lightning, and smoke. (Ex. 19). They looked upon God as a great

and terrible king who would destroy them for their sins. He sent the

deluge on account of sin, and He destroyed the wicked city of Sodom with

fire from Heaven. (Gen. 7:19). They called Him Jehovah, and were afraid

sometimes even to pronounce His name. But Our Lord taught that God,

besides being a great and powerful king--the Ruler of the universe and

Lord of all things--is also a kind and good Father, who wishes His

children not to offend Him because they love Him rather than because

they fear Him, and therefore He taught His disciples and all Christians

to call God by the sweet name of Father.

 

"Who art in Heaven." The Catechism says God is everywhere. Why then do

we say, "Who art in Heaven," as if He were no place else? We say so to

remind us, first, that Heaven is our true home, and that this world is

only a strange land in which we are staying for a while to do the work

that God wishes us to do here, and then return to our own home; second,

that in Heaven we shall see God face to face and as He is; third, that

Heaven is the place where God will be for all eternity with the blessed.

 

"Hallowed" means made holy or sacred. Halloween is the name given to the

evening before the feast of All Hallows or All Saints.

 

"Thy kingdom come." This petition contains a great deal more than we at

first see in it. In it we ask that God may reign in our hearts and in

the hearts of all men by His grace in this life, and that we and all men

may attain our eternal salvation, and thus be brought to reign forever

with God in Heaven--the kingdom of His glory. As the Church on earth is

frequently called the kingdom of Christ, and as all the labors of the

Church are directed to the salvation of souls, we pray also in this

petition that the Church may be extended upon earth, that the true

religion may be spread over the whole world, that all men may know and

serve the true God and cheerfully obey His holy laws; that the devil may

have no dominion over them. While saying this petition we may have it in

our minds to pray even for particular ways in which the true religion

can be spread; for example, by praying that the missionaries may meet

with success and all the missions prosper; that priests and bishops may

be ordained to preach the Gospel; that the Church may overcome all her

enemies everywhere, and the true religion triumph.

 

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." In Heaven all the angels

and saints obey God perfectly; they never offend Him; so we pray that it

may be on earth as it is in Heaven, all men doing God's will, observing

His laws and the laws of His Church, and living without sin.

 

"Give us this day our daily bread." In this petition "bread" means not

merely bread, but everything we need for our daily lives; such as food,

clothing, light, heat, air, and the like; also food for the soul, i.e.,

grace. If a beggar told you that he had not tasted bread for the whole

day, you would never think of asking him if he had eaten any cake,

because you would understand by his word bread all kinds of food. We say

"daily," to teach us not to be greedy or too careful about ourselves,

and not to ask for unnecessary things, but to pray for what we need for

our present wants.

 

"And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against

us." "Trespasses" means here our sins, our offenses against God. When we

trespass we enter places we should not, or where we are forbidden to go.

So when we sin we go where we should not go, viz., out of the path of

virtue that leads to God, and into the way of vice that leads to the

devil.

 

"As we forgive them." We take this to mean: we forgive others who have

offended us, and for that reason, God, You should forgive us who have

offended You. Our Lord told a beautiful parable, i.e., a story by way of

illustration, to explain this. (Matt. 18:23). A very rich man had a

servant who owed him a large sum of money. One day the master asked the

servant for the money, and the poor servant had none to give. Now the

law of the country was, that when anyone could not pay his debts, all

that he had could be sold and the money given to the one to whom it was

due, and if that was not sufficient, he and his wife and his children

could be sold as slaves. The servant, knowing this, fell on his knees

and begged his master to be patient with him, and to give him time and

he would pay all. Then his master was moved to pity, granted not only

what he asked, but freed him from the debt altogether. Afterwards when

this servant, who had just been forgiven the large sum, was going out,

he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a very small sum of

money, and taking hold of him by the throat, demanded payment. Now, this

poor servant, having nothing to give just then, implored his assailant

to be patient with him and he would pay all. But the hard-hearted

servant--though he himself had a little while before asked and obtained

the very same favor from his own master--would not listen to the request

or wait longer, but went and had his fellow servant cast into prison

till he should pay the debt. The other servants, seeing how unforgiving

this man was who had himself been forgiven, went and told all to their

master, and he, being angry at such conduct, had the unforgiving servant

brought back and cast into prison.

 

"And lead us not into temptation." "Temptation" means a trial to see

whether we will do a thing or not. Here it means a trial made by some

person or thing--the devil, the world, or our own flesh--to see whether

we will sin or not. God does not exactly lead us into temptation; but He

allows us to fall into it. He allows others to tempt us. We can overcome

any temptation to sin by the help or grace that God gives us. Therefore

we ask in this petition that God will always give us the grace to

overcome the temptation, and that we may not consent to it. A temptation

is not a sin. It becomes sin only when we are overcome by it. When we

are tempted we are like soldiers fighting a battle: if the soldiers are

conquered by their enemy, they are disgraced; but if they conquer their

enemy, they have great glory and great rewards. So, when we overcome

temptations, God gives us a new glory and reward for every victory.

 

"Deliver us from evil." From every kind of evil, and especially the evil

of being conquered by our spiritual enemies, and thus falling into sin,

and offending God by becoming His enemy ourselves. It would be a sin to

seek temptation, though we have a reward for resisting it when it comes.

 

"Amen" means, be it so. May all we have asked be granted just as we have

asked it.

 

 

THE ANGELICAL SALUTATION

Hail, Mary, full of grace! the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou

amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary,

Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

 

Next in beauty to the Lord's Prayer comes this prayer. It is made up of

three parts:

 

"Hail, full of grace! the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst

women" was composed by the angel Gabriel, for these are the words he

used when he came to tell the Blessed Virgin that she was selected to be

the Mother of God (Luke 1:28). All her people knew that the Redeemer

promised from the time of Eve down to the time of the Blessed Virgin was

now to be born, and many good women were anxious to be His mother, and

they believed the one who would be selected the most blessed and happy

of all women.

 

"The Lord is with thee" by His grace and favor, since you are the one He

loves best. He is with all His creatures, but He is with you in a very

special manner.

 

After the visit of the angel, the Blessed Virgin went a good distance to

visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth, who was the mother of St. John the

Baptist (Luke 1:39). When St. Elizabeth saw her, she, without being told

by the Blessed Virgin what the angel had done, knew by the inspiration

of the Holy Ghost what had taken place, and said to the Blessed Virgin:

"Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

That is "blessed" because, of all the women that have ever lived or ever

shall live, you are the one selected by God to be the mother of His Son

and Our Redeemer, and blessed is that Son Himself. This is the second

part of the prayer. The third part, from "Holy Mary" to the end, was

composed by the Church.

 

"Hail." This was the word used by the people of that country in saluting

one another when they met. We say when meeting anyone we know, "Good

day," or "How do you do?" or some such familiar expression used by all

in salutation. So these people, instead of saying, "Good day," etc.,

said "Hail" i.e., I wish you health, I greet you, etc. The angel did not

say "Mary," because she was the only one present to address.

 

"Full of grace." When anything is full it has no room for more. God's

grace and sin cannot exist in the same place. Therefore when the Blessed

Virgin was full of grace, there was no room for sin. So she was without

any sin and gifted with every virtue.

 

"Holy Mary," because one full of grace must be holy.

 

"Mother of God," because her Son was true God and true man in the one

person of Christ, Our Lord.

 

"Pray for us," because she has more power with her Son than all the

other saints.

 

"Sinners," and therefore we need forgiveness.

 

"At the hour of our death" especially, because that is the most

important time for us. No matter how bad we have been during our lives,

if God gives us the grace to die in His friendship, we shall be His

friends forever. On the other hand, no matter how good we may have been

for a part of our lives, if we become bad before death, and die in that

state, we shall be separated from God forever, and be condemned to

eternal punishment. It would be wrong, therefore, to live in sin, with a

promise that we shall die well, for God may not give us the grace or

opportunity to repent, and we may die in sin if we have lived in sin.

Besides this, the devil knows how much depends upon the state in which

we die, and so he perhaps will tempt us more at death than at any other

time; for if we yield to him and die in sin, we shall be with him

forever--it is his last chance to secure our souls.

 

Besides the Hail Mary there is another beautiful prayer on the same

subject, called the Angelus. It is a little history of the Incarnation,

and is said morning, noon, and evening in honor of Our Lord's

Incarnation, death, and resurrection. It is made up of three parts. The

first part tells what the angel did, viz.: "The angel of the Lord

declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost." After saying

these words, we say one Hail Mary in honor of the angel's message. The

second part tells what Mary answered, viz.: "Behold the handmaid of the

Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word." We say another Hail

Mary in honor of Mary's consent. The third part tells how Our Lord

became Man, viz.: "And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt among us." The

"Word" means here the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity; and "made

flesh" means, became man. Then another Hail Mary is said in honor of Our

Lord's goodness in humbling Himself so much for our sake. After these

three parts we say: "Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God! that we may be

made worthy of the promises of Christ"; and, finally, we say a prayer in

honor of Our Lord's Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection. This

beautiful prayer is said three times a day in all seminaries, convents,

and religious houses. The time for saying it is made known by the

ringing of a bell called the "Angelus bell." In many parishes the church

bell rings out the Angelus. In Catholic countries the people stop

wherever they are and whatever they are doing, and bowing their heads,

say the Angelus when they hear its bell. It is a beautiful practice and

one most pleasing to our Blessed Lord and His holy Mother. Good

Catholics should not neglect it.

 

I might mention here another kind of prayer often said in honor of our

blessed Mother. It is the Litany. In this form of prayer we call Our

Lady many beautiful names which we know are most dear to her, asking her

after each one to pray for us. We address her first by names reminding

her that she is the Mother of God and has therefore great influence with

her divine Son. We say: Mother of Christ, Mother of Our Creator, Mother

of Our Redeemer, etc., pray for us. Next we remind her that she is a

virgin and should take pity on us who are exposed to so many temptations

against holy purity. We call her virgin most pure, virgin most chaste,

etc., and again ask her to pray for us. Lastly we call her all those

names that could induce her to hear us. We say: health of the weak,

refuge of sinners, help of Christians, pray for us.

 

In addition to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, we have the Litany of

the Holy Name of Jesus, the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament, the Litany

of the Sacred Heart, the Litany of St. Joseph, and many others--all made

up in the same form. We have also the Litany of all the Saints, in which

we beg the help and prayers of the different classes of saints--the

Apostles, martyrs, virgins, etc.

 

 

THE APOSTLES' CREED

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and

in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy

Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was

crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day

He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the

right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to

judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy

Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the

resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

A creed is a definite list or summary of all the things one believes.

The "Apostles' Creed" is therefore a list or collection of all the

truths the Apostles believed. The "Apostles" were the twelve men that

Our Lord selected to be His first bishops. We know they were bishops

because they could ordain priests and consecrate other bishops. They

lived with Our Lord like a little family during the three and a half

years of His public life; they went with Him and learned from Him

wherever He preached. Besides these He had also His disciples, i.e.,

followers who went with Him frequently but did not live with Him. Our

Lord wished His doctrine to be taught to all the people of the world,

and so He told His Apostles that they must go over the whole world and

preach in every country. During the life of Our Lord and for a short

time after His death they preached in only one country, viz.,

Palestine--now called the Holy Land--in which country the Jews, up to

that time God's chosen people, lived. Since the Apostles were to preach

to all nations, the time came when they must separate, one going to one

country, and another to another. In those days there were no steamboats

or railroads, no post offices, telegraph offices, telephones, or

newspapers. If the Apostles wished to communicate with anyone they had

either to go to the place themselves or send a messenger. By walking or

riding it might have taken them months or years in those days to make a

journey that we can make now in a few days; and for an answer to a

message which we can get now by telegraph in a few hours they might have

had to wait months. The Apostles knew of all these inconveniences, and

before leaving the places they were in pointed out the chief truths that

all should know and believe before receiving Baptism, that Christian

teachers who should come after them might neglect nothing--just as we

use catechisms containing the truths of religion, for fear the teachers

might forget to speak of some of them. There are "twelve articles" or

parts in the Apostles' Creed, and each part is meant to refute some

false doctrine taught before the time of the Apostles or while they

lived. Thus there were those--as the Romans--who said there were many

gods; others said not God, but the devil created the earth; others

taught that Our Lord was not the Son of God: and so on for the rest. All

these false doctrines are denied and the truth professed when we say the

Apostles' Creed.

 

Just as in the Lord's Prayer we do not see all its meaning at first, so

in the Apostles' Creed we find many beautiful things only after thinking

carefully over every word it contains.

 

"I believe," without the slightest doubt or suspicion that I might be

wrong.

 

"In God" by the grace that He gives me to believe and have full

confidence in Him.

 

"God," to show that there is only one.

 

"The Father," because He brought everything into existence and keeps it

so (see Explanation of the Lord's Prayer).

 

"Almighty," i.e., having all might or power; because He can do whatever

He wishes. He can make or destroy by merely wishing.

 

"Creator." To create means to make out of nothing. God alone can create.

When a carpenter makes a table, he must have wood; when a tailor makes a

coat, he must have cloth. They are only makers and not creators. God

needs no material or tools. When we make anything, we make it part by

part; but God makes the whole at once. He simply wills and it is made.

Thus He said in the beginning of the world: "Let there be light; and

light was made." For example, suppose I wanted a piano. If I could say,

"Let there be a piano" and it immediately sprang up without any other

effort on my part, although neither the wood, the iron, the wire, the

ivory, nor anything else in it ever existed till I said, "Let there be a

piano," then it could be said I created a piano. No one could do this,

for God alone has such power.

 

"Heaven and earth" and everything we can see or know of.

 

"Jesus Christ." Our Lord is called by many names, but you must not be

confused by them, for they all mean the same person, and are given only

to remind us of some particular thing connected with Our Lord. He is

called "Jesus," which signifies Saviour, and "Christ," which means

anointed. He is called the "Second Person of the Blessed Trinity," and

when we call Him "Our Lord," we mean the Second Person of the Blessed

Trinity after He became man. He is called the "Messias" and the "Son of

David" to show that He is the Redeemer promised to the Jews. Also at the

end of all our litanies He is called the "Lamb of God," because He was

so meek and humble and suffered death so patiently. In the Litany of the

Holy Name of Jesus we will find many other beautiful names of Our Lord,

all having their special signification.

 

"His only Son," to show that God, the First Person of the Blessed

Trinity, was His real Father. We are called God's children, but we are

only His created and adopted children.

 

"Who was conceived," i.e., He began to exist by the power of the Holy

Ghost in the womb of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin.

 

"Suffered." We shall see in the explanation of the Passion what He

suffered.

 

"Under" means here, at the time a man named Pontius Pilate was governor.

If anyone were put to death today in this country, we should say he was

executed under Governor or President so-and-so. "Crucified," i.e.,

nailed to a cross. We say "died," because Our Lord is the Giver of Life,

and no one could take His life away unless He allowed it. Therefore we

say He died, and not that He was killed, to show that He died by His own

free will and not against His will.

 

"Was buried." This we say to show that He was really dead; because if

you bury a man who is not really dead he must die.

 

"Hell" here does not mean the place where the damned are, but a place

called "Limbo." You know that when our first parents sinned, Heaven was

closed against them and us, and no human being could be admitted into it

till after the death of Our Lord; for He by His death would redeem

us--make amends for our fall and once more open for us Heaven. Now from

the time Adam sinned till the time Christ died is about four thousand

years. During that time there were at least some good men, like Abraham,

Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others, in the world, who tried to serve

God as best they could--keeping all the divine laws known to them, and

believing that the Messias would some day come to redeem them. When,

therefore, they died they could not go to Heaven, because it was closed

against them. They could not go to Hell, because they were good men.

Neither could they go to Purgatory, because they would have to suffer

there. Where could they go? God in His goodness provided a place for

them--Limbo--where they could stay without suffering till Our Lord

reopened Heaven. Therefore, while Our Lord's body lay in the sepulchre,

His soul went down into Limbo, to tell these good men that Heaven was

now opened for them, and that at His Ascension He would take them there

with Him.

 

"The third day." Not three full days, but the parts of three days, viz.,

Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

 

"He arose" by His own power: and this was the greatest of all Our Lord's

miracles. Some others, like the prophets and Apostles, have, by the

power God gave them, raised the dead to life; but no dead person ever

raised himself. Our Lord is the first and only one to do this, and by so

doing, showed they could not take away His life unless He wished to give

it up; for since He could always take back His life, how could they

destroy it?

 

"He ascended" forty days after His Resurrection.

 

"Right hand of God." We know God is a pure spirit having no body; and if

He has no body He can have no hands. Why then do we say right hand? When

the President of the United States invites anyone to dine at his house,

he makes the invited guest sit at his right hand, and thus shows his

respect by giving him the place of highest honor.

 

When Our Lord ascended into Heaven, He went up in the human body He had

upon earth, and His Father placed Him as man, in His glorified body, in

the place, after His (the Father's) own, the highest in Heaven; but

remember, only as man, because as God He is equal to His Father in all

things.

 

"From thence"--that is, from the right hand of God.

 

"To judge." To examine them, to pronounce sentence upon them; to reward

them in Heaven or punish them in Hell.

 

"The living and the dead." We may take this in a double sense. As the

general judgment will come suddenly and when not expected, all will be

going on in the world as usual--some attending to business, others

taking their ease as they do now, or as they were doing when the deluge

came upon them. Just when the judgment is about to take place, God will

destroy the earth; and then all those living in the world will perish

with its destruction and then be judged. The "dead" means, therefore,

all those who died before the destruction of the world, and the "living"

all those who were on earth when the time of its destruction came. Or

the "living" may mean also those in a state of grace, and the "dead"

those in mortal sin; for God will judge both classes.

 

"Holy Ghost," i.e., the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Ghost is an

old word meaning spirit. When persons say that a ghost appeared, they

mean that the spirit of some dead person appeared. These stories about

ghosts are told generally to frighten children or timid persons. If

those who thought they saw a ghost always examined what they saw, they

would find that the supposed ghost was something very natural; probably

a bush swayed by the wind, or a stray animal, or perhaps some person

trying to frighten them. Ghost here does not mean the spirit of a dead

person, but the Holy Spirit, which is the proper name for the Third

Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

"The communion of saints." There are three parts in the Church. We have,

first, the Church Militant, i.e., the fighting Church, made up of all

the faithful upon earth, who are still fighting for their salvation. The

Holy Scripture tells us our life upon earth is a warfare. We have three

enemies to fight. First, the devil, who by every means wishes to keep us

out of Heaven--the place he once enjoyed himself. The devil knows well

the happiness of Heaven, and does not wish us to have what he cannot

have himself; just as you sometimes see persons who, through their own

fault, have lost their situation trying to keep others out of it.

 

Our second enemy is the world. This does not mean the earth with all its

beauty and riches, but the bad people in the world with their false

doctrines; some telling us there is no God, Heaven, or Hell, others that

we should pay no attention to the teaching of the Church or the laws of

God, and advising us by word and example to resist our lawful superiors

in Church or State and give free indulgence to our sinful passions.

 

The third enemy is our own flesh. By this we mean our concupiscence,

that is, our passions, evil inclinations, and propensity to do wrong.

When God first created man, the soul was always master over the body,

and the body obedient to the soul. After Adam sinned, the body rebelled

against the soul and tried to lead it into sin. The body is the part of

our nature that makes us like the brute animals, while the soul makes us

like to God and the angels.

 

When we sin, it is generally to satisfy the body craving for what it has

not, or for that which is forbidden. Why did God leave this

concupiscence in us? He left it, first, to keep us humble, by reminding

us of our former sins, and, secondly, that we might overcome it and have

a reward for the victory.

 

The second branch of the Church is called the Church Suffering. It is

made up of all those who have gone through this world and are now in

Purgatory.

 

Some of them while on earth fought well, but not as well as they could

have done; they yielded to some temptations, fell into some small sins,

received some slight wounds from their spiritual enemies, or they have

not satisfied God entirely for the temporal guilt due to their great

sins; therefore they are in Purgatory till they can be completely

purified from all their sins and admitted into Heaven.

 

The last or third branch of the Church is called the Church Triumphant,

and is made up of the angels and all those who have lived at one time

upon earth and who are now in Heaven with God, enjoying their rewards

for overcoming their spiritual enemies and serving God while upon earth.

They are triumphant or rejoicing because they have reached their

heavenly home.

 

You must not think that those only are saints who have been canonized by

the Church and whose names are known to us; for all in Heaven are

saints, as we also shall be if admitted into that happy eternity. God

wishes all to be saints, for He wishes all to be saved. You know we can

pray to the saints and ask their help and prayers; but how could we know

that certain men or women are really in Heaven? We can know it when the

Church canonizes them, and thus gives proof that they were great

spiritual heroes in the service of God and can be more confidently

appealed to on account of their eminent sanctity and powerful

intercession.

 

Therefore the Church by canonization tells us for certain that such and

such persons are truly in Heaven. But might not the Church be deceived

like ourselves?

 

No! for Christ has promised to be always with His Church, and the Holy

Ghost is ever directing her, so that she cannot err in faith or morals.

If the Church made us pray to persons who are not saints, she would fall

into the worst of errors, and Our Lord would have failed to keep His

promise--a saying that would be blasphemous, for Christ, being God, is

infinitely true and could not deceive or be deceived. To canonize,

therefore, does not mean to make a saint, but to declare to the whole

world that such a one was a saint while upon earth. After death we

cannot merit, so our reward in Heaven will be just what we have secured

up till the moment of our death; hence holiness is acquired in the

Church Militant.

 

How does the Church canonize a saint? Let us suppose some good man dies,

and all his neighbors talk about his holy fife, how much he did for the

poor, how he prayed, fasted, and mortified himself. All these accounts

of his life are collected and sent to Rome, to the Holy Father or to the

cardinals appointed by him to examine such statements. These accounts

must show that the good man practiced virtue in a more than ordinary

manner, that he either performed some miracles while he lived, or that

God granted miracles after his death through his intercession.

 

These accounts are not examined immediately after his death, but

sometimes after a lapse of fifty years or more, so that people might not

exaggerate his good works because they knew him personally.

 

When these accounts are examined, one is appointed to prevent, if he

can, the canonization. He is sometimes called the devil's advocate,

because it is his business to find fault with all the accounts and

miracles, and prove them false if possible. This is done to make certain

that all the accounts are true and the miracles real. If everything is

found as represented, then the good man is declared venerable, later

beatified, i.e., called blessed, and still later canonized, i.e.,

declared a saint. If he is only beatified, he can be honored publicly

only in certain places or by certain persons; but if he is canonized, he

can be honored throughout the whole Church by all the faithful.

 

Thus we understand the three branches of the one true Church--the Church

Militant, i.e., all those who are on earth trying to save their souls;

the Church Suffering, those in Purgatory, having their souls purified

for Heaven; and the Church Triumphant, those already in Heaven.

 

The "communion of saints" means that these three branches of the Church

can help one another. We help the souls in Purgatory by our prayers and

good works, and the saints in Heaven pray for us. But "communion of

saints" means still more. Let us take an example. Suppose there are in a

family, living together, a mother and three sons. The eldest son earns a

large salary, the second son enough to support himself, and the youngest

very little. They give their earnings to their mother, who from the

combined amounts provides for the wants of all and draws from the large

salary of the eldest to supply the needs of the youngest. Thus he who

has too little for his support is--through his mother--aided by the one

who has more than he needs. Now, the Church is our mother, and some of

her children--the great saints--were rich in good works and did more

than was necessary to gain Heaven, while others did not do enough. Then

our mother, the Church, draws from the abundant satisfaction of her rich

children to help those who are poor in merit and good works. The

greatest treasure she has to draw from for that purpose is the more than

abundant merits of Our Lord and the superabundant satisfaction of the

Blessed Virgin and the greatest saints. Our Lord could have redeemed us

all by the least suffering, and yet He suffered dreadful torments, and

even shed His blood and died for us. The Blessed Virgin never sinned,

yet she performed many good works and offered many prayers. Therefore

"communion of saints" means, also, that we all share in the merits of

Christ and in the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin and

of the saints; also in the prayers and good works of the Church and of

her faithful and pious children.

 

"The forgiveness of sins," i.e., by the Sacrament of Penance, through

the power that God gave His priests; also by Baptism.

 

"The resurrection of the body," i.e., on the last day (Matt. 24:29; Luke

21:25). When on the last day, at the general judgment, God's angel

sounds the great trumpet, all the dead will arise again and come to

judgment, in the same bodies they had while living. But you will say: If

their bodies are reduced to ashes and mixed with the earth, or if parts

of them are in one place and parts in another, how is this possible?

Very easily, with God. If He in the beginning could make all the parts

out of nothing, with how much ease can He collect them scattered here

and there! When God made man He gave him a body and a soul, and wished

them never to be separated. Man was to live here upon earth for a time,

and then be taken up into Heaven, body and soul, as Our Lord is there

now. But when man sinned, in punishment God commanded that he should

die; i.e., that these two dear friends, the body and the soul, should be

separated for a time. Death is caused by the separation of the soul from

the body. The body and soul together make a man, and neither one alone

can be called a man. A dead body is only part of a man. At the

resurrection every soul will come from Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell, to

seek its own body; they will then be united again as they were in life,

never to be separated--to be happy together in Heaven if they have been

good upon earth, or miserable together in Hell if they have been bad

upon earth.

 

"Life everlasting"--either, as we have said, in Heaven or Hell. There

was a time when we did not exist but it can never be said of us again we

do not exist. When once we have been created, we shall live as long as

God Himself, i.e., forever. When we have lived a thousand years for

every drop of water in the ocean; a thousand years for every grain of

sand on the seashore; a thousand years for every blade of grass and

every leaf on the earth, we shall still be existing. How short a time,

therefore, is a hundred years even if we live so long--and few

do--compared with all these millions of years! And yet it depends upon

the time we live here whether all these millions of years in the next

world will be for us years of happiness or of misery. The whole life of

a man extends through the two worlds, viz., from the moment of his

creation through all eternity; and surely the little while he stays upon

earth must seem very short when, after spending a million of years in

the next world, he looks back to his earthly life. There is a good

example to illustrate this. If you stand on a railroad, and look away

down the track for about a mile, it will seem to you that the rails come

nearer and nearer, till at last they touch. It seems so on account of

the distance, for where they seem to touch they are just as far apart as

where you are standing. So, also, when you look back from eternity, the

day of your birth and the day of your death will seem to coincide, and

your life on earth appear nothing. Then, if you are among the lost souls

you will think, What a fool I was to make myself suffer all this long

eternity for that silly bit of earthly pleasure, which is of no benefit

to me now! And this thought will serve only to make you more miserable.

But, on the other hand, if you look back from a happy eternity, you will

wonder at God's goodness in giving you so much happiness for so short a

service upon earth.

 

 

THE CONFITEOR

I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed

Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles

Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly,

in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through

my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin,

blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy

Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our God

for me.

 

May the Almighty God have mercy on me, forgive me my sins, and bring me

to everlasting life. Amen.

 

May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant me pardon, absolution, and

remission of all my sins. Amen.

 

This is another beautiful prayer. In it we can imagine that we are

permitted to enter Heaven. What do we see there? God, the Blessed

Virgin, the thousands of angels, the Apostles, all the saints, martyrs,

confessors, doctors and virgins. They cease singing God's praises, as we

enter, and fix their eyes upon us. Our guardian angel conducts us before

the great throne of God, and we kneel down in the presence of the whole

court of Heaven, to acknowledge our sins and faults, while all listen

attentively. Touched by so sublime a sight and the thought of having

offended a God of so much glory, we begin our accusation of ourselves.

We fix our eyes first upon God, and say: "I confess," i.e., accuse

myself, "to Almighty God." Then we look upon the rest of the blessed,

and say: "to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin," etc. Thus we call the whole

court of Heaven to be a witness of the fact that we "have sinned," not

lightly, but "exceedingly," i.e., very greatly, and in three ways: "in

thought," by thinking of things sinful and forbidden; "in word," by

lies, curses, slanders, etc.; "in deed," by every bad action that we

have committed; and each of us can say: I have done all this "through my

fault," i.e., willingly and deliberately; and it was not a small fault,

but an exceeding great fault, because God was helping me by His grace to

overcome temptations and avoid bad thoughts, words, and actions, and I

would not accept His help, but willingly did what was wrong. What am I

to do, therefore? Will God pardon all these offenses if I alone ask Him,

seeing that all the angels and saints know that I have thus offended

Him? What shall I do? I will ask them to help me by their prayers, and

to beg God's pardon for me. He may grant their prayers, especially those

of the Blessed Mother and of the saints, when He would not grant mine.

"Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin," etc., "to pray to

the Lord our God for me."

 

When we kneel down to say the Confiteor, if we could imagine what I have

just described to take place, how well we should say it! With what

attention, respect, and sorrow we should ask the prayers of the saints!

When we say the Confiteor, and indeed any prayer, we say it in the

presence of God, and of the whole court of Heaven, though we are not in

Heaven and cannot see God. The angels and saints do hear us and will

pray for us. When, therefore, you are saying the Confiteor, imagine that

you see all I have described, and you will never say it badly.

 

 

AN ACT OF FAITH

O my God! I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine

persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son

became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the

living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy

Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst

neither deceive nor be deceived.

 

An "act," i.e., a profession, of faith. The whole substance of the act

of faith is contained in this: I believe all that God has revealed and

the Catholic Church teaches. We might mention one by one all the truths

God has revealed, i.e., made known to us, and all the truths the

Catholic Church teaches as revealed by God. For example, we might say, I

believe in the Holy Trinity, in the Incarnation of Our Lord in the Holy

Eucharist, in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, in the

infallibility of the Pope, and so on, till we write an act of faith

twenty pages long, and yet it would all be contained in the words: I

believe all God has revealed and the Catholic Church teaches. Hence we

find in prayerbooks and catechisms acts of faith differing in length and

words, but they are all the same in substance and have the same meaning.

The act of faith in our Catechism gives a few of the chief truths

revealed, that it may be neither too short nor too long, and that all

may learn the same words.

 

 

AN ACT OF HOPE

O my God! relying on Thy almighty power and infinite goodness and

promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and

life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and

Redeemer.

 

The substance of this act is: I hope for Heaven and the means to obtain

it. The means by which I will obtain it are the pardon of my sins by

God, and the grace which He will give me in the reception of the

Sacraments and in prayer, by which grace I will be able to know Him,

love Him, and serve Him, and thus come to be with Him forever. Here

again we could make a long act by mentioning all the things we hope for;

viz., a good death, a favorable judgment, a place in Heaven, etc.

 

 

AN ACT OF LOVE

O my God! I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul

because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as

myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask

pardon of all whom I have injured.

 

The substance of this act is: I love God above all things for His own

goodness, and my neighbor as myself for the sake of God. An act of love

and an act of charity are the same thing with different names. We are

accustomed to call such things as the giving of alms or help to the

poor, the doing of some good work that we are not bound to do for

another, charity. Surely there are many motives that may induce persons

to help others in their distress; but what is the chief Christian

motive, if it be not the love we bear our brother-man because he is,

like ourselves, a child of God, and the desire we have to obey God, who

wishes us to help the needy? The sufferings of others excite our pity,

and the more we love them the more sorry are we to see them suffer.

Thanks to God for all His mercies to us; He might have made us, instead

of this man, poor and in suffering, but He has spared us and afflicted

him; we know not why God has done so, and therefore we help him, moved

by these considerations even when we feel he is not deserving of the

help, because we know his unworthiness will not prevent God from

rewarding our good intention. We may be charitable to our neighbor by

saying nothing hurtful about him, by never telling his faults without

necessity, etc. Therefore real charity, in its widest sense, and love

are just the same.

 

 

AN ACT OF CONTRITION

O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all

my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but

most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and

deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,

to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

 

The substance of this act is: O my God! I am very sorry for all my sins,

because by them I have offended Thee, and with Thy help, I will never

sin again. It is well to know what the acts contain in substance, for we

can use these short forms as aspirations during the day, when we

probably would not think of saying the long forms. A fuller explanation

of the qualities of our contrition will be given in Lesson Eighteen.

 

 

THE BLESSING BEFORE MEALS

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are to receive from Thy

bounty, through Christ our lord. Amen.

 

 

GRACE AFTER MEALS

We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, Who livest and

reignest forever. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through

the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

"Grace" means thanks. We saw in the explanation of the Our Father how

God provides us with all we need, and most frequently with food. It is

the least we can do, therefore, to thank Him for it, when it is just

placed before us. We should thank Him also after we have eaten it and

found it good, pleasing, and refreshing. When God provides us with food

He thereby makes a kind of promise that He will allow us to live awhile

longer and give us strength to serve Him. How shameful it is, then, to

turn God's gifts into a means of offending Him, as some do by the sin of

gluttony! Again, it is very wrong to murmur and be dissatisfied with

what God gives us. He does not owe us anything, and need not give unless

He wishes. What would you think of a beggar of this kind?

He comes to your door hungry, and you, instead of simply giving him some

bread to appease his hunger, take him into your house and give him a

good dinner, new clothing, and some money. Now, instead of being

thankful, suppose he should complain because you did not give him a

better dinner, finer clothing, and more money, and should look cross and

dissatisfied; what would you think of him? Would you not be tempted to

turn the ungrateful fellow out of your house, with an order never to

come again, telling him he deserved to starve for his ingratitude? We

are not quite as ungrateful as the beggar when we neglect grace at

meals, because in saying our daily prayers we thank God for all His

gifts, our food included, and hence it is not a sin to neglect grace at

meals. But do we not show some ingratitude when we murmur, complain, and

are dissatisfied with our food, clothing, or homes? God, even when we

are ungrateful, still gives; hence His wonderful goodness and mercy to

us.

 

 

THE MANNER IN WHICH A LAY PERSON IS TO BAPTIZE IN CASE OF NECESSITY

Pour common water on the head or face of the person to be baptized, and

say while pouring it: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of

the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

 

N.B. Any person of either sex who has reached the use of reason can

baptize in case of necessity.

 

 

CATECHISM

 

Questions marked * are not in No. 1 Catechism.

 

A catechism is any book made up in question and answer form, no matter

what it treats of. We have catechisms of history, of geography, etc. Our

Catechism is a book in the same form treating of religion. It is a

little compendium of the truths of our religion, of all we must believe

and do. It contains, in the simplest form, all that a priest learns

during his many years of study. The theology he learns is only a deeper

and fuller explanation of the Catechism. A whole book might be written

on almost every question. For example, might we not write a book on each

of the first three questions--the World, God, and Man? There is

consequently much meaning in the Catechism, which must be made known to

us by explanation. You should therefore learn the Catechism by heart

now, even when you do not fully understand it; because afterwards, when

you read books on religion or hear sermons, all these questions and

answers will come back to your mind. Sermons will help you to understand

the questions, or the questions will help you to understand the sermons.

 

 

 

Lesson 1

ON THE END OF MAN

 

The end of a thing is the purpose for which it was made. The end of a

watch is to keep time. The end of a pen is to write, etc. A thing is

good only in proportion to the way it fulfills the end for which it was

made. A watch may be very beautifully made, a very rare ornament, but if

it will not keep time it is useless as a watch. The same may be said of

the pen, or of anything else. Now for what purpose was man made? If we

discover that, we know his end. When we look around us in the world, we

see a purpose or end for everything. We see that the soil is made for

the plants and trees to grow in; because if there was no need of things

growing, it would be better to have a nice clean solid rock to walk

upon, and then we would be spared the trouble of making roads, and

paving streets. But things must grow, and so we must have soil. Again,

the vegetables and plants are made for animals to feed upon; while the

animals themselves are made for man, that they may help him in his work

or serve him for food. Thus it is evident everything in the world was

made to serve something else. What then was man made for? Was it for

anything in the world? We see that all classes of beings are created for

something higher than themselves. Thus plants are higher than soil,

because they have life and soil has not. Animals are higher than plants,

because they not only have life, but they can feel and plants cannot.

Man is higher than animals, because he not only has life and can feel,

but he has also reason and intelligence, and can understand, while

animals cannot. Therefore we must look for something higher than man

himself, but there is nothing higher than man in this world, and so we

must look beyond it to find that for which he was made. And looking

beyond it and considering all things, we find that he was made for

God--to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him both in this world and

in the next. Again, we read in the Bible (Gen. 1) that at the creation

of the world all things were made before man, and that he was created

last. Therefore, if all these things could exist without man, we cannot

say he was made for them. The world existed before him and can exist

after him. The world goes along without any particular man, and the same

may be said of all men. Neither was man made to stay here awhile to

become rich, or learned, or powerful, because all do not become

rich--some are very poor; all are not learned--some are very ignorant;

all are not powerful--some are slaves. But since all men are alike and

equal in this, that they have all bodies formed in the same way, and all

souls that are immortal, they should all be made for the same end. For

example, you could not make a pen like a watch if you want it to write.

Although pens differ in size, shape, etc., they have all one general

form which is essential to them. So, although men differ in many things,

they are all alike in the essential thing, viz., that they are composed

of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God. Hence, as

pens are made only to write with, so all men must have only one and the

same end, namely, to serve God.

 

1 Q. Who made the world?

A. God made the world.

 

The "world" here means more than the earth--more than is shown on a map

of the world. It means everything that we can see--sun, moon, stars,

etc.; even those things that we can see only with great telescopes.

Everything, too, that we may be able to see in the future, either with

our eyes alone, or aided by instruments, is included in the word

"world." We can call it the universe.

 

2 Q. Who is God?

A. God is the Creator of Heaven and earth, and of all things.

 

3 Q. What is man?

A. Man is a creature composed of a body and soul, and made to the image

and likeness of God.

 

"Creature," i.e., a thing created. Man differs from anything else in

creation. All things else are either entirely matter, or entirely

spirit. An angel, for example, is all spirit, and a stone is all matter;

but man is a combination of both spirit and matter--of soul and of body.

 

*4 Q. Is this likeness in the body or in the soul?

A. This likeness is chiefly in the soul.

 

*5 Q. How is the soul like to God?

A. The soul is like God because it is a spirit that will never die, and

has understanding and free will.

 

My soul is like to God in four things.

 

(1). It is "a spirit." It really exists, but cannot be seen with the

eyes of our body. Every spirit is invisible, but every invisible thing

is not a spirit. We cannot see the wind. We can feel its influence, we

can see its work--for example, the dust flying, trees swaying, ships

sailing, etc.--but the wind itself we never see. Again, we never see

electricity. We see the light or effect it produces, but we never see

the electricity itself. Yet no one denies the existence of the wind or

of electricity on account of their being invisible. Why then should

anyone say there are no spirits--no God, no angels, no souls--simply

because they cannot be seen, when we have other proofs, stronger than

the testimony of our sight, that they really and truly exist?

 

(2). My soul will "never die," i.e., will never cease to exist; it is

immortal. This is a very wonderful thing to think of. It will last as

long as God Himself.

 

(3). My soul "has understanding," i.e., it has the gift of reason. This

gift enables man to reflect upon all his actions--the reasons why he

should do certain things and why he should not do them. By reason he

reflects upon the past, and judges what may happen in the future. He

sees the consequences of his actions. He not only knows what he does,

but why he does it. This is the gift that places man high above the

brute animals in the order of creation; and hence man is not merely an

animal, but he is a rational animal--an animal with the gift of reason.

 

Brute animals have not reason, but only instinct, i.e., they follow

certain impulses or feelings which God gave them at their creation. He

established certain laws for each class or kind of animals, and they,

without knowing it, follow these laws; and when we see them following

their laws, always in the same way, we say it is their nature. Animals

act at times as if they knew just why they were acting; but it is not

so. It is we who reason upon their actions, and see why they do them;

but they do not reason, they only follow their instinct.

 

If animals could reason, they ought to improve in their condition. Men

become more civilized day by day. They invent many things that were

unknown to their forefathers. One man can improve upon the works of

another, etc. But, we never see anything of this kind in the actions of

animals. The same kind of birds, for instance, build the same kind of

nests, generation after generation, without ever making change or

improvement in them. When man teaches an animal any action, it cannot

teach the same to its young. It is clear, therefore, that animals cannot

reason.

 

Though man has the gift of reason by which he can learn a great deal, he

cannot learn all through his reason; for there are many things that God

Himself must teach him. When God teaches, we call the truths He makes

known to us Revelation. How could man ever know about the Trinity

through his reason alone, when, after God has made known to him that It

exists, he cannot understand it? It is the same for all the other

mysteries.

 

(4). My soul has "free will." This is another grand gift of God, by

which I am able to do or not do a thing, just as I please. I can even

sin and refuse to obey God. God Himself--while He leaves me my free

will--could not oblige me to do anything, unless I wished to do it;

neither could the devil. I am free therefore, and I may use this great

gift either to benefit or injure myself. If I were not free I would not

deserve reward or punishment for my actions, for no one is or should be

punished for doing what he cannot help. God would not punish us for sin

if we were not free to commit or avoid it. I turn this freedom to my

benefit if I do what God wishes when I could do the opposite; for He

will be more pleased with my conduct, and grant a greater reward than He

would bestow if I obeyed simply because obliged to do so. Animals have

no free will. If, for example, they suffer from hunger and you place

food before them, they will eat; but man can starve, if he wills to do

so, with a feast before him. For the same reason man can endure more

fatigue than any other animal of the same bodily strength. In traveling,

for instance, animals give up when exhausted, but man may be dying as he

walks, and still, by his strong will-power, force his wearied limbs to

move. But you will say, did not the lions in the den into which Daniel

was cast because he would not act against his conscience, obey the

wicked king and offend God--as we read in Holy Scripture (Dan.

6:16)--refrain from eating him, even when they were starving with

hunger? Yes; but they did not do so of themselves, but by the power of

God preventing them: and that is why the delivery of Daniel from their

mouths was a miracle. It is clear, because the same lions immediately

tore in pieces Daniel's enemies when they were cast into the den.

 

6 Q. Why did God make you?

A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world,

and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

 

"To know" Him, because we must know of a thing before we can love it. A

poor savage in Africa never longs to be at a game or contest going on in

America, because he does not know it and therefore cannot love it. We

see a person and know him; if he pleases us we love him, and if we love

him we will try to serve him; we will not be satisfied with doing merely

what he asks of us, but will do whatever we think might give him

pleasure. So it is in regard to God. We must first know Him--learn who

He is from our catechisms and books of instruction, but especially from

the teaching of God's ministers, the Holy Father, bishops and priests.

When we know Him, we shall love Him. If we knew Him perfectly, we should

love Him perfectly; so the better we know Him the more we shall love

Him. And as it is our chief duty to love Him and serve Him upon earth,

it becomes our strict duty to learn here whatever we can of His nature,

attributes, and holy laws. The saints and angels in Heaven know God so

well that they must love Him, and cannot therefore offend Him.

 

You have all seen some person in the world, or maybe several persons,

whom you have greatly admired; still you did not love them perfectly;

there was always some little thing about them in looks, manners, or

disposition that could be rendered more pleasing; some defect or want

you would like to see supplied; some fault or imperfection you would

like to see corrected. Now suppose you had the power to take all the

good qualities you found in the persons you loved and unite them in one

person, in whom there would be nothing displeasing, but everything

perfect and beautiful. Do you not think you would love such a person

very much indeed?

 

Moreover, suppose you knew that person loved you intensely, would it not

be your greatest delight to be ever with such a friend? Well, then, all

the lovable qualities and beauties you see in created beings come from

God and are bestowed by Him; yet all the good qualities on earth and

those of the angels and saints in Heaven, and even of the Blessed Virgin

and St. Joseph, if united in one person would be nothing compared to the

goodness and beauty of God. How good and how lovable, therefore, must He

be! And what shall we say when we think that He loves us with a greater

love than we could ever love Him, even with our most earnest efforts?

Try then first to know God and you will surely love and serve Him. Do

not be satisfied with the little you learn of Him in the Catechism, but

afterward read good books, and above all hear sermons and instructions.

 

"In this world." Because unless we do what is pleasing to Him in this

world we cannot be with Him in the next. Our condition in the next world

depends entirely upon our conduct in this. Thus we have discovered the

answer to the great question, What is the end of man; for what was he

made?

 

*7 Q. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?

A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.

 

*8 Q. Why must we take more care of our soul than of our body?

A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body, because in

losing our soul we lose God and everlasting happiness.

 

Every sensible person will take most care of that which is most

valuable. If a girl had a hundred dollars in a ten-cent pocket-book, you

would consider her a great fool if she threw away the hundred dollars

for fear of spoiling the pocket-book. Now, he is a greater fool who

throws away his soul in order to save his body some little

inconvenience, or gratify its wicked desires or inclinations. Wherever

the soul will be, there the body will be also; so we should, in a

certain way, try to forget the body and make sure of getting the soul

safely into Heaven. You would not think much of the wisdom of a boy who

allowed his kite to be smashed in pieces by giving his whole attention

to the tail of the kite. If he took care to keep the kite itself high in

air and away from every danger, the tail would follow it; and even if

the tail did get entangled, it would have a good chance of being freed

while the kite was still flying. But of what use is it to save a

worthless piece of rag, if the kite--the valuable thing--is lost? Just

in the same way, of what use is our body if our soul is lost? And

remember we have only one soul. Therefore, make sure to save the soul,

and the body also will be saved--that is, the whole man will be saved;

for we cannot save the soul and lose the body; they will both be saved

or both be lost.

 

9 Q. What must we do to save our souls?

A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity;

that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our

heart.

 

"Worship," that is, give Him divine honor. We honor persons for their

worth and excellence, and since God is the most excellent, we give Him

the highest honors, differing from others not merely in degrees but in

kind--divine honors that belong to Him alone. And justly so, for the

vilest animal upon the earth is a thousand times more nearly our equal

than the most perfect creature, man or angel, is the equal of God. In

speaking of worship, theologians generally distinguish three kinds,

namely: latria, or that supreme worship due to God alone, which cannot

be transferred to any creature without committing the sin of idolatry;

dulia, or that secondary veneration we give to saints and angels as the

special friends of God; hyperdulia, or that higher veneration which we

give to the Blessed Virgin as the most exalted of all God's creatures.

It is higher than the veneration we give to the other saints, but

infinitely inferior to the worship we give to God Himself. We show God

our special honor by never doubting anything He reveals to us, therefore

by "faith"; by expecting with certainty whatever He promises, therefore

by "hope"; and finally by loving Him more than anyone else in the world,

therefore by "charity."

 

But someone may say, I think I love my parents more than God. Well, let

us see. Suppose your mother should command you to commit a sinful act (a

thing no good mother would do) and you have therefore to choose between

offending her or Almighty God. Now, although you love your mother very

much, if in this instance you prefer to displease her rather than commit

the sin that offends God, you show that you love God more than her.

Again, many who dearly love their parents leave them that they may

consecrate their lives to the special service of God in some religious

community and thus prove their greater love for Him. The love we have

for God is intellectual rather than sentimental; and since it is not

measured by the intensity of our feelings, how are we to know that we

love Him best? By our determination never to offend Him for any person

or thing in the world, however dear to us, and by our readiness to obey

and serve Him before all others.

 

10 Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?

A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic

Church, through which God speaks to us.

 

"Catholic Church" in this answer means the Pope, councils, bishops, and

priests who teach in the Church.

 

11 Q. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Catholic Church

teaches?

A. We shall find the chief truths which the Catholic Church teaches in

the Apostles' Creed.

 

"Chief," because the Apostles' Creed does not contain in an explicit

manner all the truths we must believe. For example, there is nothing in

the Apostles' Creed about the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, about the

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, or the infallibility of the

Pope; and yet we must believe these and other articles of faith not in

the Apostles' Creed. It contains only the "chief" and not all the

truths.

 

12 Q. Say the Apostles' Creed.

A. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the

Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was

crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into Hell; the third day

He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at

the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to

judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy

Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the

resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

"Descend" means to go down, and "ascend" to go up.

 

 

 

Lesson 2

ON GOD AND HIS PERFECTIONS

 

A "perfection" means a good quality. We say a thing is perfect when it

has all the good qualities it should have.

 

13 Q. What is God?

A. God is a spirit infinitely perfect.

 

"A spirit" is a living, intelligent, invisible being. It really exists,

though we cannot see it with the eyes of our body. It has intelligence

and can therefore think, understand, etc. It is not because we cannot

see it that we call it a spirit. To be invisible is only one of the

qualities of a spirit. It is also indivisible, that is, it cannot be

divided into parts. God is such a being. He is "infinitely perfect,"

that is, He has every perfection in the highest degree. "Infinite" means

to have without limit. If there were any perfection God did not have, He

would not be infinite. He is unlimited in wisdom, in power, in goodness,

in beauty, etc. But you will tell me persons on earth and the angels and

saints in Heaven have some wisdom and power and beauty, and therefore

God cannot have all, since He has not the portion with which they are

endowed. I still say He is infinite, because what the angels and others

have belongs to God, and He only lends it to them. "Perfect" means to be

without any defect or fault.

 

14 Q. Had God a beginning?

A. God had no beginning; He always was and always will be.

 

Was there ever a time when we could say there was no God? There was a

time when we could say there was no Heaven or earth, no angels, men, or

animals; but there was never a time when there was no God. We may go

back in thought millions and millions of years before the Creation, and

God was then existing. He had no beginning and will never cease to

exist. This is a mystery; and what a mystery is will be explained in the

next lesson.

 

15 Q. Where is God?

A. God is everywhere.

 

"Everywhere"--not spread out like a great cloud, but whole and entire in

every particular place: and yet there is only one God, and not as many

gods as there are places. How this can be we cannot fully understand,

because this also is a mystery. A simile, though it will not be perfect,

may help you to understand. When we speak of God, we can never give a

true and perfect example; for we cannot find anything exactly like Him

to compare to Him. If I discharge a great cannon in a city, every one of

the inhabitants will hear the report; not in such a way that each hearer

gets his share of the sound, but each hears the whole report, just as if

he were the only one to hear it. Now, how is that? There are not as many

reports as there are persons listening; and yet each person hears the

whole report.

 

16 Q. If God is everywhere, why do we not see Him?

A. We do not see God because He is a pure spirit and cannot be seen with

bodily eyes.

 

"Pure spirit," that is, not clothed with any material body--spirit

alone.

 

17 Q. Does God see us?

A. God sees us and watches over us.

 

"Watches" to protect, to reward or punish us. He watches continually; He

not only watches, but keeps us alive. God might have created us and then

paid no more attention to us; but if He had done so, we should have

fallen back again into nothingness. Therefore He preserves us every

moment of our lives. We cannot draw a breath without Him. If a steam

engine be required to work ceaselessly, you cannot, after setting it in

motion, leave it henceforth entirely to itself. You must keep up the

supply of water and fire necessary for the generation of steam, you must

oil the machinery, guard against overheating or cooling, and, in a word,

keep a constant watch that nothing may interfere with its motion. So

also God not only watches His creatures, but likewise provides for them.

Since we depend so much upon Him, is it not great folly to sin against

Him, to offend, and tempt Him as it were? There are some birds that

build their nests on the sides of great rocky precipices by the

seacoast. Their eggs are very valuable, and men are let down by long

ropes to take them from the nest. Now while one of these men is hanging

over the fearful precipice, his life is entirely in the hands of those

holding the rope above. While he is in that danger do you not think he

would be very foolish to tempt and insult those on whom his life

depends, when they could dash him to pieces by simply dropping the rope?

While we live here upon earth we are all hanging over a great precipice,

namely, eternity; God holds us by the little thread of our lives, and if

He pleased to drop it we should be hurled into eternity. If we tempt or

insult Him, He might drop or cut the thread while we are in mortal sin,

and then, body and soul, we go down into Hell.

 

18 Q. Does God know all things?

A. God knows all things, even our most secret thoughts, words, and

actions.

 

Certainly God "knows all things." First, because He is infinitely wise,

and if He were ignorant of anything He would not be so. Secondly,

because He is everywhere and sees and hears all. Darkness does not hide

from His view, nor noise prevent Him from hearing. How could we sin if

we thought of this! God is just here, looking at me and listening to me.

Would I do what I am going to do now if I knew my parents, relatives,

and friends were watching me? Would I like them to know that I am

thinking about things sinful, and preparing to do shameful acts? No! Why

then should I feel ashamed to let God see and know of this wicked

thought or action? They might know it and yet be unable to harm me, but

He, all-powerful, could destroy me instantly. Nay, more; not only will

God see and know this evil deed or thought; but, by His gift, the

Blessed Mother, the angels and saints will know of it and be ashamed of

it before God, and, most of all, my guardian angel will deplore it.

Besides, this sin will be revealed to the whole world on the last day,

and my friends, relatives, and neighbors will know that I was guilty of

it.

 

19 Q. Can God do all things?

A. God can do all things, and nothing is hard or impossible to Him.

 

20 Q. Is God just, holy, and merciful?

A. God is all just, all holy, all merciful, as He is infinitely perfect.

 

"All just"--that is, most just. "Just" means to give to everyone what

belongs to him--to reward if it is merited or to punish if it is

deserved. "Holy"--that is, good. "Merciful" means compassionate,

forgiving, less exacting than severe justice demands. In a court a just

judge is one who listens patiently to all the arguments for and against

the prisoner, and then, comparing one with the other, gives the sentence

exactly in accordance with the guilt. If he inflicts more or less

punishment than the prisoner deserves, or for money or anything else

gives an unfair sentence, then he is an unjust judge. The judge might be

merciful in this way. The laws say that for the crime of which this

prisoner is proved guilty he can be sent to prison for a term not longer

than ten years and not shorter than five: that is, for anything between

ten and five years. The judge could give him the full ten years that the

law allows and be just. But suppose he believed that the prisoner did

not know the law and did not intend to be as wicked as he was proved; or

that it was his first offense, or that he heard the prisoner's mother,

who was old and infirm, pleading for him and saying he was her only

support; or other extenuating circumstances that could awaken sympathy:

the judge might be merciful and sentence him for the shortest term the

law allows. But if the judge dismissed every prisoner, no matter how

guilty, without punishment, he would not be a merciful but an unjust

judge, who would soon be forced to leave the court. In the same way, God

is often merciful to sinners and punishes them less than He could in

strict justice. But if He were to allow every sinner to go without any

punishment whatsoever--as unbelievers say He should do, by having no

Hell for the wicked--then He would not be just. For as God is an

Infinite Being, all His perfections must be infinite; that is, He must

be as infinitely just as He is infinitely merciful, true, wise, or

powerful.

 

Now He has promised to punish sin; and since He is infinitely true, He

must keep His promise.

 

 

 

Lesson 3

ON THE UNITY AND TRINITY OF GOD

 

"Unity" means to be one, and "Trinity," three in one.

 

21 Q. Is there but one God?

A. Yes; there is but one God.

 

22 Q. Why can there be but one God?

A. There can be but one God because God, being supreme and infinite,

cannot have an equal.

 

"Supreme," that is, the highest. "Equal," when two are equal one has

everything the other has. You could say one pen is the equal of another

if it is just as nice and will write just as well; one mechanic is the

equal of another if he can do the work equally well. Two boys are equal

in class if they have exactly the same marks at the end of the month or

year. You could not have two persons chief. For example, you could not

have two chief generals in an army; two presidents in the nation, or two

governors in a state, or two mayors in a city, or two principals in a

school, unless they divide equally their power, and then they will be

equals and neither of them chief. God cannot divide His power with

anyone--so as to give it away entirely--because we say He is infinite,

and that means to have all. Others have only the loan of their power

from God. Therefore, all power and authority come from God; so that when

we disobey our parents or superiors who are placed over us, we disobey

God Himself.

 

23 Q. How many persons are there in God?

A. In God there are three divine persons really distinct and equal in

all things--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

 

"Distinct," not mingled together. We call the first and second persons

Father and Son, because the second is begotten by the first person, and

not to indicate that there is any difference in their age. We always see

in the world that a father is older than his son, so we get the idea

perhaps that it is the same in the Holy Trinity. But it is not so. God

the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost existed from all

eternity, and one did not exist before the other. God the Son is just as

old as God the Father, and this is another great mystery. Even in nature

we see that two things may begin to exist at the same time, and yet one

be the cause of the other. You know that fire is the cause of heat; and

yet the heat and the fire begin at the same time. Though we cannot

understand this mystery of the Father and Son, we must believe it on the

authority of God, who teaches it. First, second, and third person in the

Blessed Trinity does not mean, therefore, that one person was before the

other, or brought into existence by the other.

 

24 Q. Is the Father God?

A. The Father is God and the first Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

25 Q. Is the Son God?

A. The Son is God and the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

26 Q. Is the Holy Ghost God?

A. The Holy Ghost is God and the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

27 Q. What do you mean by the Blessed Trinity?

A. By the Blessed Trinity I mean one God in three Divine Persons.

 

*28 Q. Are the three Divine Persons equal in all things?

A. The three Divine Persons are equal in all things.

 

29 Q. Are the three Divine Persons one and the same God?

A. The three Divine Persons are one and the same God, having one and the

same divine nature and substance.

 

Though they are one and the same, we sometimes attribute different works

to them. For example, works of creation we attribute to God the Father;

works of mercy to God the Son; and works of love and sanctification to

the Holy Ghost; and you will often find them thus spoken of in pious

books; but all such works are done by all the Persons of the Trinity;

because such works are the works of God, and there is but one God.

 

*30 Q. Can we fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and

the same God?

A. We cannot fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and

the same God, because this is a mystery.

 

"Fully"--entirely. We can partly understand it. We know what one God is

and we know what three persons are; but how these two things go together

is the part we do not understand--the mystery.

 

*31 Q. What is a mystery?

A. A mystery is a truth which we cannot fully understand.

 

"A truth," that is, a revealed truth--one made known to us by God or His

Church. It is a truth which we must believe though we cannot understand

it. Let us take an example. When a boy goes to school he is taught that

the earth is round like an orange and revolving in two ways, one causing

day and night and the other producing the seasons: spring, summer,

autumn, winter. The boy goes out into the country where he sees miles of

level land and mountains thousands of feet in height. Again he goes out

on the ocean where sailors tell him it is several miles in depth.

 

Now he may say: how can the earth be round if deep valleys, high

mountains, and level plains prove to my senses the very opposite, and

the countless things at rest upon its surface tell me it is motionless.

Yet he believes even against the testimony of his senses that the earth

is round and moving, because his teacher could have no motive in

deceiving him; knows better than he, having learned more, and besides

has been taught by others who after long years of careful study and

research have discovered these things and know them to be true. If

therefore we have to believe things that we do not understand on the

authority of men, why should we not believe other truths on the

authority of God? Yes, we must believe Him. If a boy knew all his

teacher knew there would be no need of his going to school; he would be

the equal in knowledge of his teacher, and if we knew all that God knows

we would be as great as He. As well might we try to empty the whole

ocean into the tiny holes that children dig in the sand by its shore, as

fully to comprehend the wisdom of God. This is the mistake unbelievers

make when they wish to understand with their limited intelligence the

boundless knowledge and mysterious ways of God, and when they cannot

understand refuse to believe. Are they not extremely foolish? Would you

not ridicule the boy who refuses to believe that the earth is round and

moving because he cannot understand it? As he grows older and learns

more he will comprehend it better; so we, when we leave this world and

come into the presence of God, shall see clearly many things that are

unintelligible now. For the present, we have only to believe them on the

authority of God teaching us. Another example. We take two little black

seeds that look just alike and place them in the same kind of soil; we

put the same kind of water upon them; they have the same sunlight and

air, and yet when they grow up one has a red flower and one a blue.

Where did the red and where did the blue come from? From the black seed,

or the brown soil, or the pure water, air and sunlight? We do not know.

It is there, and that is all. We see it and believe it, though we do not

understand it.

 

So if we refuse to believe everything we do not understand, we shall

soon believe very little and make ourselves ridiculous.

 

 

 

Lesson 4

ON CREATION

 

This lesson treats of God bringing everything into existence. The chief

things created may be classed as follows: (1) The things that simply

exist, as rocks, and minerals--gold, silver, iron, etc. (2) Things that

exist, grow, and live like plants and trees. (3) Things that grow, live,

and feel, like animals. (4) Things that grow, live, feel, and

understand, like men. Besides these we have the sun, moon, stars, etc.;

all things too that we can see, and also Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, and

good and bad angels. All these are the works of God's creation. All

these He has called into existence by merely wishing for them.

 

*32 Q. Who created Heaven and earth, and all things?

A. God created Heaven and earth, and all things.

 

"Heaven," where God is and will always be. It means, too, everything we

see in the sky above us. "Earth," the globe on which we live.

 

*33 Q. How did God create Heaven and earth?

A. God created Heaven and earth from nothing, by His word only; that is,

by a single act of His all-powerful will.

 

34 Q. Which are the chief creatures of God?

A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.

 

35 Q. What are angels?

A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy

God in Heaven.

 

"Angels" are not the same as saints. Saints are those who at one time

lived upon the earth as we do, and who on account of their very good

lives are now in Heaven. They had bodies as we have. The angels, on the

contrary, never lived visibly upon the earth. In the beginning God was

alone. We take great pleasure in looking at beautiful things. God,

seeing His own beauty, and knowing that others would have very great

pleasure and happiness in seeing Him, determined to create some beings

who could enjoy this happiness; and thus He wished to share with them

the happiness which He Himself derived from seeing His own beauty.

Therefore He created angels who were to be in Heaven with Him, singing

His praises and worshipping before His throne.

 

The angels are not all equal in dignity, but are divided into nine

classes, or choirs, according to their rank or office, and, as

theologians tell us, arranged from the lowest to the highest and named

as follows; angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities,

dominations, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim. Archangels are higher than

angels and are so called because sent to do the most important works. It

was the Archangel Michael who drove Lucifer from Heaven and the

Archangel Gabriel who announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to be

the Mother of God. The angels receive their names from the duties they

perform. The word angel signifies messenger.

 

*36 Q. Were the angels created for any other purpose?

A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and

to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God

to man; and are also appointed our guardians.

 

The duties of the angels are many. Some remain always in Heaven with

God; some are sent to earth to be our guardians and to remain with us.

Each of us has an angel to take care of us. He is with us night and day,

and offers our prayers and good works to God. He prays for us, exhorts

us to do good and avoid evil; and he protects us from dangers spiritual

and temporal. How unfortunate then must one be to cause him to return to

Heaven with sad complaints to God; such as: "The one whom I have in

charge will not obey Thy laws or use the grace Thou sendest him: with

all my efforts to save him, he continues to do wrong." He will be doubly

sad when he sees other angels returning with good reports and receiving

new graces for those whom God has committed to their care. If you love

your guardian angel, never impose on him the painful duty of bringing to

God the report of your evil doings.

 

Now, how do we know that the angels offer our prayers and good works to

God? We know it from the beautiful story of Tobias, told in the Holy

Scripture. (Tobias). This holy man loved and feared God. He lived at a

time when his people were persecuted by a most cruel king, who wished to

force them to give up the true God and worship idols, but many of these

good people suffered death rather than deny God and obey the wicked

king. When they were put to death, their bodies were left lying on the

ground, to be devoured by birds of prey or wild animals. Anyone caught

burying them was to be put to death by the king's servants. Tobias used

to carry the dead bodies of these holy martyrs into his house and bury

them at night.

 

One day when he returned very tired he lay down by the wall of his house

to rest, and, while lying there, some dirt fell into his eyes and he

became blind. This Tobias had a young son whose name was also Tobias;

and as he himself was now blind and poor, he wished to send his son into

a certain city, at a good distance off, to collect some money that he

had formerly loaned to a friend. As the young man did not know the way,

his father sent him out to look for a guide. Young Tobias went out and

found a beautiful young man to be his guide and he consented, and he

brought Tobias to the distant city. As they were on their way they sat

down by the bank of a river. Tobias went into the water near the edge,

and soon a great fish rushed at him. Tobias called to his guide. The

guide told him to take hold of the fish and drag it out upon the shore.

There they killed it, and kept part of its flesh for food and part for

medicine. Then they went on to the city, got the money and returned. The

guide told young Tobias to rub the part of the fish he had taken for

medicine upon his father's eyes. He did so, and immediately his father's

eyes were cured and he saw. Then both the father and son were so

delighted with this young guide, that they offered to give him half of

all they had. He refused to take it and then told them he was the angel

Raphael sent from God to be the guide of this good man's son. He told

the old Tobias how he (the angel) had carried up to God his prayers and

good works while he was burying the dead. When they heard he was an

angel they fell down and reverenced him, being very much afraid. From

this beautiful history we know that the angels carry our prayers and

good works to God. Again we learn from the Holy Scripture (Gen. 28) in

the history of another good man almost the same thing. The patriarch

Jacob was on a journey, and being tired, he lay down to rest with his

head upon a stone. As he lay there he had a vision in which he saw a

great ladder reaching up from earth to Heaven. At the top he saw

Almighty God standing, and on the ladder itself angels ascending and

descending. Now the holy Fathers of the Church tell us this is what is

really taking place; the angels are always going down and up from God to

man, though not on a ladder and not visibly as they appeared to Jacob.

Besides the guardian angel for each person, there are also guardian

angels for each city and for each nation.

 

Again (Gen. 19) angels appeared to Lot to warn him about the destruction

of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. Angels appeared also to the

shepherds on the night Our Lord was born (Luke 2). The catechism says

angels have no bodies--how, then, could they appear? They took bodies

made of some very light substance which would make them visible, and

appeared just like beautiful young men, clad in flowing garments, as you

frequently see them represented in pictures. Angels were sometimes sent

to punish men for their sins, as the angel who killed in one night

185,000 men in the army of the wicked king, Sennacherib, who blasphemed

God, and was endeavoring to destroy Jerusalem, God's city. (4 Kgs. 19).

 

But here is a difficulty. If God Himself watches over us and sees all

things, why should the angels guard us? It is on account of God's

goodness to us; though it is not necessary. He does not wish us to have

any excuse for being bad, so He gives us each a special heavenly servant

to watch and assist us by his prayers. If a friend received us into his

house and did all he could for us himself, we should certainly be

satisfied, but if he gave us a special servant, though it would not be

necessary, he would show us great respect and kindness. Moreover

whatever the angels do for us, we might say God Himself does, for the

angels are only obeying His commands.

 

*37 Q. Were the angels, as God created them, good and happy?

A. The angels as God created them were good and happy.

 

*38 Q. Did all the angels remain good and happy?

A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and

were cast into Hell; and these are called devils or bad angels.

 

God did not admit the angels into His presence at once. He placed them

for awhile on probation, as He did our first parents.

 

One of these angels was most beautiful, and was named Lucifer, which

means light-bearer. He was so perfect that he seems to have forgotten

that he received all his beauty and intelligence from God, and not

content with what he had, became sinfully proud and wished to be equal

to God Himself. For his sin he and all his followers were driven out of

Heaven, and God then created Hell, in which they were to suffer for all

eternity. This same Lucifer is now called Satan, and more commonly the

devil, and those who accompanied him in his fall, devils, or fallen

angels.

 

 

 

Lesson 5

ON OUR FIRST PARENTS AND THEIR FALL

 

39 Q. Who were the first man and woman?

A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.

 

In the beginning God created all things; something particular on each of

the six days of Creation. (Gen. 1). On the first day He made light, on

the second, the firmament, or the heavens, and on the sixth day He

created man and called him Adam. God wished Adam to have a companion; so

one day He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, and then took from his

side a rib, out of which he formed Eve. Now God could have made Eve as

He made Adam, by forming her body out of the clay of the earth and

breathing into it a soul, but He made Eve out of Adam's rib to show that

they were to be husband and wife, and to impress upon their minds the

nature and sacredness of the love and union that should exist between

them.

 

40 Q. Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand

of God?

A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of

God.

 

God placed Adam and Eve in Paradise, a large, beautiful garden, and gave

them power over all the other creatures. Adam gave all the animals their

appropriate names and they were obedient to him. Even lions, tigers, and

other animals that we now fear so much, came and played about him. Our

first parents, in their state of original innocence, were the happy

friends of God, without sorrow or suffering of any kind.

 

*41 Q. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?

A. To try their obedience God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a

certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.

 

He told them (Gen. 2) they could take of all the fruits in the garden

except the fruit of one tree, and if they disobeyed Him by eating the

fruit of that tree, they should surely die. God might have pointed out

any tree, because it was simply a test of obedience. He gave them a very

simple command, for if we are faithful in little things we shall surely

be faithful in greater. Moreover, it is not precisely the consideration

of what is forbidden, but of the authority by which it is forbidden that

should deter us from violating the command and prove our fidelity. Thus

disobedience to our parents and superiors, even in little things,

becomes sinful. Someone might say: "Why did God not try their obedience

by one of the Ten Commandments?" Let us examine them. "Remember the

Sabbath." That one would be unnecessary: for every day was Sabbath with

them; the only work was to praise and serve God. "Thou shalt not steal."

They could not; everything was theirs; and so for the other

Commandments. Therefore, God gave them a simple command telling them: If

you obey, you and all your posterity will be happy; every wish will be

gratified, neither sorrow nor affliction shall come upon you and you

shall never die; but if, on the contrary, you disobey, countless evils,

misery and death will be your punishment. The earth, now so fruitful,

shall bring forth no crops without cultivation, and after years of toil

the dead bodies of yourselves and children must lie buried in its soil.

So having the gift of free will they could take their choice, and either

keep His command and be happy, or disobey Him and be miserable.

 

*42 Q. Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had

they remained faithful to God?

A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained

faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and

everlasting glory in the next.

 

Our first parents and their children were not to remain in the garden of

Paradise forever, but were, after spending their allotted time of trial

or probation upon earth, to be taken body and soul into Heaven without

being obliged to die.

 

43 Q. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?

A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His

commandment by eating the forbidden fruit.

 

As it is told in the Bible (Gen. 3), Eve went to the forbidden tree and

was standing looking at it, when the devil came in the form of a serpent

and, tempting, told her to take some of the fruit and eat. It does not

appear that she went and tasted the fruit of all the other trees and

finally came to this one, but rather that she went directly to the

forbidden tree first. Do we not sometimes imitate Eve's conduct? As soon

as we know a certain thing is forbidden we are more strongly tempted to

try it.

 

See, then, what caused Eve's sin. She went into the dangerous occasion,

and was admiring the forbidden fruit when the tempter came. She listened

to him, yielded to his wicked suggestions, and sinned. So will it be

with us if through curiosity we desire to see or hear things forbidden;

for once in the danger the devil will soon be on hand to tempt us--not

visibly indeed, for that would alarm us and defeat his purpose, but

invisibly, like our guardian angels; for the devil is a fallen angel who

still possesses all the characteristics of an angel except goodness. But

this is not all. Eve not only took and ate the fruit herself, but

induced Adam to do likewise. Most sinners imitate Eve in that respect.

Not satisfied with offending God themselves, they lead others into sin.

 

Why should the devil tempt us? God created man to be in Heaven, but the

fallen angels were jealous of man, and tempted him to sin so that he too

should be kept out of Heaven and might never enjoy what they lost; just

as envious people do not wish others to have what they cannot have

themselves.

 

44 Q. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?

A. Adam and Eve on account of their sin lost innocence and holiness, and

were doomed to sickness and death.

 

They were innocent and holy because they were the friends of God and in

a state of grace, but by their sin they lost His grace and friendship.

"Doomed" means sentenced or condemned. The first evil result, then, of

Adam's sin was that he lost innocence and made his body a rebel against

his soul. Then he was to suffer poverty, hunger, cold, sickness, death,

and every kind of ill; but the worst consequence of all was that God

closed Heaven against him. After a few years' trial, as we said, God was

to take him into Heaven; but now He has closed it against Adam and his

posterity. All the people in the world could never induce God to open it

again; for He closed it in accordance with His promise, and man was an

exile and outcast from his heavenly home.

 

45 Q. What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first

parents?

A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents we all share in

their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if

they had remained faithful.

 

Does it not seem strange that we should suffer for the sin of our first

parents, when we had nothing to do with it? No. It happens every day

that children suffer for the faults of their parents and we do not

wonder at it. Let us suppose a man's father leaves him a large

fortune--houses, land, and money--and that he and his children are happy

in the enjoyment of their inheritance. The children are sent to the best

schools, have everything they desire now, and bright hopes of happiness

and prosperity in the future. But alas! their hopes are vain. The father

begins to drink or gamble, and soon the great fortune is squandered.

House after house is sold and dollar after dollar spent, till absolute

poverty comes upon the children, and the sad condition of their home

tells of their distress. Do they not suffer for the sins of their

father, though they had nothing to do with them? Indeed, many families

in the world suffer thus through the faults of others, and most

frequently of some of their members. Could you blame the grandfather for

leaving the estate? Certainly not; for it was goodness on his part that

made him give. Let us apply this example. What God gave Adam was to be

ours also, and he squandered and misused it because he had free will,

which God could not take from him without changing his nature; for it is

our free will and intelligence that make us men, distinct from and

superior to all other animals. They can live, grow, feel, hear, see,

etc., as we can, but the want of intelligence and free will leaves them

mere brutes. Therefore, if God took away Adam's intelligence and free

will, He would have made him a mere animal--though the most perfect.

 

When a man becomes insane or loses the use of his intelligence and free

will, we place him in an asylum and take care of him as we would a tame

animal, seldom allowing him to go about without being watched and

guarded.

 

Let us take another example. Suppose I have a friend who is addicted to

the excessive drinking of strong liquor, and I say to him: "If you give

up that detestable habit for one year, I will make you a present of this

beautiful house worth several thousand dollars. It will be yours as long

as you live, and at your death you may leave it to your children. I do

not owe you anything, but offer this as a free gift if you comply with

my request." My friend accepts the offer on these conditions, but the

very next day deliberately breaks his promise. I do not give him the

house, because he did not keep his agreement; and can anyone say on that

account that I am unjust or unkind to him or his children? Certainly

not. Well, God acted in the same manner with Adam. He promised him

Heaven, a home more beautiful than any earthly palace--the place Our

Lord calls His father's house (John 14:2) and says there are many

mansions, that is, dwelling places, in it. God promised this home to

Adam on condition that he would observe one simple command. He had no

right to Heaven, but was to receive it, according to the promise, as a

free gift from God, and therefore God, who offered it conditionally, was

not obliged to give it when Adam violated his part of the agreement.

 

The example is not a perfect one, for there is this difference in the

cases between Adam and my friend: when my friend does not get the house,

he sustains a loss, it is true; but he might still be my friend as he

was before, and live in my house; but when Adam lost Heaven, he lost

God's friendship and grace, and the loss of all grace is to be in sin.

So that Adam by breaking the command was left in sin; and as all his

children sustain the same loss, they too are all left in sin till they

are baptized.

 

*46 Q. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?

A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which

darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left us a strong

inclination to evil.

 

Our "nature was corrupted" is what I have said of the body rebelling

against the soul. Our "understanding darkened." Adam knew much more

without study than the most intelligent men could learn now with

constant application. Before his fall he saw things clearly and

understood them well, but after his sin everything had to be learned by

the slow process of study. Then the "will was weakened." Before he fell

he could easily resist temptation, for his will was strong. You know we

sin by the will, because unless we wish to do the evil we commit no sin;

and if absolutely forced by others to do wrong, we are free from the

guilt as long as our will despises and protests against the action. If

forced, for example, to break my neighbor's window, I have not to answer

in my conscience for the unjust act, because my will did not consent.

So, on every occasion on which we sin, it is the will that yields to the

temptation. After Adam's sin his will became weak and less able to

resist temptation; and as we are sharers in his misfortune, we find

great difficulty at times in overcoming sinful inclinations. But no

matter how violent the temptation or how prolonged and fierce the

struggle against it, we can always be victorious if determined not to

yield; for God gives us sufficient grace to resist every temptation; and

if anyone should excuse his fall by saying he could not help sinning, he

would be guilty of falsehood.

 

"A strong inclination" to do wrong--that is, unless always on our guard

against it. Our Lord once cautioned His Apostles (Matt. 26:41) to watch

and pray lest they fall into temptation; teaching us also by the same

warning that, besides praying against our spiritual enemies, we must

watch their maneuvers and be ever ready to repel their attacks.

 

47 Q. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?

A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called Original

Sin.

 

*48 Q. Why is this sin called original?

A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our

first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our

souls.

 

*49 Q. Does this corruption of our nature remain in us after Original

Sin is forgiven?

A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us

after Original Sin is forgiven.

 

It remains that we may merit by overcoming its temptations; and also

that we may be kept humble by remembering our former sinful and unhappy

state.

 

50 Q. Was anyone ever preserved from Original Sin?

A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her divine Son, was

preserved free from the guilt of Original Sin, and this privilege is

called her Immaculate Conception.

 

The Blessed Virgin was to be the Mother of the Son of God. Now it would

not be proper for the Mother of God to be even for one moment the

servant of the devil, or under his power. If the Blessed Virgin had been

in Original Sin, she would have been in the service of the devil.

Whatever disgraces a mother disgraces also her son; so Our Lord would

never permit His dear Mother to be subject to the devil, and

consequently He, through His merits, saved her from Original Sin. She is

the only one of the whole human race who enjoys this great privilege,

and it is called her "Immaculate Conception," that is, she was

conceived--brought into existence by her mother--without having any spot

or stain of sin upon her soul, and hence without Original Sin.

 

Our Lord came into the world to crush the power which the devil had

exercised over men from the fall of Adam. This He did by meriting grace

for them and giving them this spiritual help to withstand the devil in

all his attacks upon them. As the Blessed Mother was never under the

devil's power, next to God she has the greatest strength against him,

and she will help us to resist him if we seek her aid. The devil himself

knows her power and fears her, and if he sees her coming to our

assistance will quickly fly. Never fail, then, in time of temptation to

call upon our Blessed Mother; she will hear and help you and pray to God

for you.

 

 

 

Lesson 6

ON SIN AND ITS KINDS

 

51 Q. Is Original Sin the only kind of sin?

A. Original Sin is not the only kind of sin; there is another kind of

sin which we commit ourselves, called actual sin.

 

Sin is first or chiefly divided into original and actual; that is, into

the sin we inherit from our first parents and the sin we commit

ourselves. We may commit "actual" sin in two ways; either by doing what

we should not do--stealing, for example--and thus we have a sin of

commission, that is, a bad act committed; or by not doing what we should

do--not hearing Mass on Sunday, for example--and thus we have a sin of

omission, that is, a good act omitted. So it is not enough to simply do

no harm, we must also do some good. Heaven is a reward, and we must do

something to merit it. Suppose a man employed a boy to do the work of

his office, and when he came in the morning found that the boy had

neglected the work assigned to him, and when spoken to about it simply

answered: "Sir, I did no harm"; do you think he would be entitled to his

wages? Of course he did not and should do no harm; but is his employer

to pay him wages for that? Certainly not. In like manner, God is not

going to reward us for doing no harm; but on the contrary, He will

punish us if we do wrong, and give no reward unless we perform the work

He has marked out for us. Neither would the office boy deserve any wages

if he did only what pleases himself, and not the work assigned by his

master. In the same way, God will not accept any worship or religion but

the one He has revealed. He tells us Himself how He wishes to be

worshipped, and our own invented methods will not please Him. Hence we

see the folly of those who say that all religions are equally good, and

that we can be saved by practicing any of them. We can be saved only in

the one religion which God Himself has instituted, and by which He

wishes to be honored. Many also foolishly believe, or say they believe,

that if they are honest, sober, and the like, doing no injury to anyone,

they shall be saved without the practice of any form of religious

worship. But how about God's laws and commands? Are they to be despised,

disregarded, and neglected entirely, without any fear of punishment?

Surely not! And persons who thus think they are doing no harm are

neglecting to serve God--the greatest harm they can do, and for which

they will lose Heaven. God, we are told, assigned to everyone in this

world a certain work to perform in a particular state of life, and this

work is called "vocation." One, for instance, is to be a priest;

another, a layman; one married; another single, etc. It is important for

us to discover our true vocation; for if we are in the state of life to

which God has called us, we shall be happy; but if we select our own

work, our own state of life without consulting Him, we shall seldom be

happy in it. How are we to know our vocation? Chiefly by praying to God

and asking Him to make it known to us. Then if He gives us a strong

inclination--constant, or nearly constant--for a certain state of life,

and the ability to fulfill its duties, we may well believe that God

wishes us to be in that state.

 

After we have begged God's assistance, we must ask our confessor's

advice in the matter, and listen attentively to what the Holy Ghost

inspires him to say. The signs of our vocation are, therefore, as

stated: first, a strong desire, and second, an aptitude for the state to

which we believe we are called. For example, a young man might be very

holy, but if unable to learn, he could never be a priest. Another might

be very learned and holy, but if too sickly to perform a priest's

duties, he could not, or at least would not, be ordained. Another might

be learned and healthy, but not virtuous, and so he could never be a

priest. Aptitude, therefore, means all the qualities necessary, whether

of mind, or soul, or body. The same is true for a young girl who wishes

to become a religious; and the same, indeed, for any person's vocation.

We should never enter a state of life to which we are not called, simply

to please parents or others. Neither should we be persuaded by them to

give up a state to which we are called; for we should embrace our true

vocation at any sacrifice, that in it we may serve God better, and be

more certain of saving our souls. Thus, parents and guardians who

prevent their children from entering the state to which they are called

may sin grievously by exposing them to eternal loss of salvation. Their

sin is all the greater when they try to influence their children in this

matter for selfish or worldly motives. As they may be selfish and

prejudiced without knowing it, they too, should ask the advice of their

confessor, and good persons of experience. Oh! how many children, sons

and daughters, are made unhappy all the days of their life by parents or

superiors forcing them into some state to which they were not called, or

by keeping them from one to which they were called. This matter of your

vocation rests with yourselves and Almighty God, and you are free to do

what He directs without consideration for anyone.

 

52 Q. What is actual sin?

A. Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary

to the law of God.

 

Three ways we may sin, by "thought"--allowing our minds to dwell on

sinful things; "word"--by cursing, telling lies, etc.; "deed"--by any

kind of bad action. But to be sins, these thoughts, words and deeds must

be willful; that is, we must fully know what we are doing, and be free

in doing it. Then they must be "contrary to the law of God"; that is,

violate some law He commands us to obey, whether it be a law He gave

directly Himself, or through His Church. We can also violate God's law

by neglecting to observe it, and thus sin, provided the neglect be

willful, and the thing neglected commanded by God or by His Church.

 

53 Q. How many kinds of actual sin are there?

A. There are two kinds of actual sin--mortal and venial.

 

"Mortal," that is, the sin which kills the soul. When a man receives a

very severe wound, we say he is mortally wounded; that is, he will die

from the wound. As breath shows there is life in the body, so grace is

the life of the soul; when all the breath is out of the body, we say the

man is dead. He can perform no action to help himself or others. So when

all grace is out of the soul we say it is dead, because it is reduced to

the condition of a dead body. It can do no action worthy of merit, such

as a soul should do; that is, it can do no action that God is bound to

reward--it is dead. But you will say the soul never dies. You mean it

will never cease to exist; but we call it dead when it has lost all its

power to do supernatural good.

 

"Venial" sin does not drive out all the grace; it wounds the soul, it

weakens it just as slight wounds weaken the body. If it falls very

frequently into venial sin, it will fall very soon into mortal sin also;

for the Holy Scripture says that he that contemneth small things shall

fall by little and little. (Ecclus. 19:1). A venial sin seems a little

thing, but if we do not avoid it we shall by degrees fall into greater,

or mortal, sin. Venial sin makes God less friendly to us and displeases

Him. Now if we really love God, we will not displease Him even in the

most trifling things.

 

54 Q. What is mortal sin?

A. Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.

 

"Grievous"--that is, very great or serious. "Against the law." If we are

in doubt whether anything is sinful or not, we must ask ourselves: is it

forbidden by God or His Church? and if we do not know of any law

forbidding it, it cannot be a sin, at least for us.

 

Suppose, for example, a boy should doubt whether it is sinful or not to

fly a kite. Well, is there any law of God or of His Church saying it is

sinful to fly a kite? If not, then it cannot be a sin. But it might be

sinful for another reason, namely, his parents or superiors might forbid

it, and there is a law of God saying you must not disobey your parents

or superiors. Therefore a thing not sinful in itself, that is, not

directly forbidden by God or His Church, may become sinful for some

other reason well known to us.

 

We must not, however, doubt concerning the sinfulness or lawfulness of

everything we do; for that would be foolish and lead us to be

scrupulous. If we doubt at all we should have some good reason for

doubting, that is, for believing that the thing we are about to do is or

is not forbidden. When, therefore, we have such a doubt we must seek

information from those who can enlighten us on the subject, so that we

may act without the danger of sinning. It is our intention that makes

the act we perform sinful or not. Let me explain. Suppose during Lent a

person should mistake Friday for Thursday and should eat meat--that

person would not commit a real sin, because it is not a sin to eat meat

on an ordinary Thursday. He would commit what we call a material sin;

that is, his action would be a sin if he really knew what he was doing.

On the other hand, if the person, thinking it was Friday when it was

really Thursday, ate meat, knowing it to be forbidden, that person would

commit a mortal sin, because he intended to do so. Therefore, if what we

do is not known to be a sin while we do it, it is no sin for us and

cannot become a sin afterwards. But as soon as we know or learn that

what we did was wrong, it would be a sin if we did the same thing again.

In the same way, everything we do thinking it to be wrong or sinful is

wrong and sinful for us, though it may not be wrong for those who know

better. Again, it is sinful to judge others for doing wrong, because

they may not know that what they do is sinful. It would be better for us

to instruct than to blame them. The best we can do, therefore, is to

learn well all God's laws and the laws of His Church as they are taught

in the catechism, so that we may know when we are violating them or when

we are not, i.e., when we are sinning and when we are not.

 

*55 Q. Why is this sin called mortal?

A. This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life,

which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation

on the soul.

 

When the soul is sent to Hell it is dead forever, because never again

will it be able to do a single meritorious act.

 

*56 Q. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?

A. To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter,

sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

 

"Grievous matter." To steal is a sin. Now, if you steal only a pin the

act of stealing in that case could not be a mortal sin, because the

"matter," namely, the stealing of an ordinary pin, is not grievous. But

suppose it was a diamond pin of great value, then it would surely be

"grievous matter." "Sufficient reflection," that is, you must know what

you are doing at the time you do it. For example, suppose while you

stole the diamond pin you thought you were stealing a pin with a small

piece of glass, of little value, you would not have sufficient

reflection and would not commit a mortal sin till you found out that

what you had stolen was a valuable diamond; if you continued to keep it

after learning your mistake, you would surely commit a mortal sin. "Full

consent." Suppose you were shooting at a target and accidentally killed

a man: you would not have the sin of murder, because you did not will or

wish to kill a man.

 

Therefore three things are necessary that your act may be a mortal sin:

(1) The act you do must be bad, and sufficiently important; (2) You must

reflect that you are doing it, and know that it is wrong; (3) You must

do it freely, deliberately, and willfully.

 

57 Q. What is venial sin?

A. Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of

less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense

committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.

 

"Slight," that is, a small offense or fault; called "venial," not

because it is not a sin, but because God pardons it more willingly or

easily than He does a mortal sin. "Less importance," like stealing an

ordinary, common pin. "Great importance," like stealing a diamond pin.

Without "reflection" or "consent," when you did not know it was a

diamond and did not intend to steal a diamond.

 

*58 Q. Which are the effects of venial sin?

A. The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our

heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the

power to resist mortal sin.

 

"Lessening of the love," because it lessens grace, and grace increases

the love of God in us. It displeases God, and though we do not offend

Him very greatly, we still offend Him. "Weakening of the power to

resist." If a man is wounded, it will be easier to kill him than if he

is in perfect health. So mortal sin will more easily kill a soul already

weakened by the wounds of venial sin.

 

59 Q. Which are the chief sources of sin?

A. The chief sources of sin are seven: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger,

Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth; and they are commonly called capital sins.

 

A "source" is that from which anything else comes. The source of a river

is the little spring on the Mountainside where the river first begins.

This little stream runs down the mountain, and as it goes along gathers

strength and size from other little streams running into it. It cuts its

way through the meadows, and marks the course and is the beginning of a

great river, sweeping all things before it and carrying them off to the

ocean. Now, if someone in the beginning had stopped up the little spring

on the mountain--the first source of the river--there would have been no

river in that particular place. It is just the same with sin. There is

one sin that is the source, and as it goes along like the stream it

gathers strength; other sins follow it and are united with it. Again:

each of these "capital sins," as they are called, is like a leader or a

captain in an army, with so many others under him and following him.

Now, if you take away the head, the other members of the body will

perish; so if you destroy the capital sin, the other sins that follow it

will disappear also. Very few persons have all the capital sins: some

are guilty of one of them, some of two, some of three, but few if any

are guilty of them all. The one we are guilty of, and which is the cause

of all our other sins, is called our predominant sin or our ruling

passion. We should try to find it out, and labor to overcome it.

 

Every one of these capital sins has a great many other sins following

it.

 

"Pride" is an inordinate self-esteem. Pride comes under the First

Commandment; because by thinking too much of ourselves we neglect God,

and give to ourselves the honor due to Him. Of what have we to be proud?

Of our personal appearance? Disease may efface in one night every trace

of beauty. Of our clothing? It is not ours; we have not produced it;

most of it is taken from the lower animals--wool from the sheep, leather

from the ox, feathers from the bird, etc. Are we proud of our wealth,

money or property? These may be stolen or destroyed by fire. The learned

may become insane, and so we have nothing to be proud of but our good

works. All that we have is from God, and we can have it only as long as

He wishes. We had nothing coming into the world, and we leave it with

nothing but the shroud in which we are buried; and even this does not go

with the soul, but remains with the body to rot in the earth. Soon after

death our bodies become so offensive that even our dearest friends

hasten to place them under ground, where they become the food of worms,

a mass of corruption loathsome to sight and smell. Why, then, should we

be so proud of this body, and commit so much sin for it, pamper it with

every delicacy, only to be the food of worms? This does not mean,

however, that we are not to keep our bodies clean, and take good care of

them. We are bound to do so, and could not neglect it without committing

sin. The one thing to be avoided is taking too much care of them, and

neglecting our soul and God on their account. The followers of pride

are: conceit, hypocrisy, foolish display in dress or conduct, harshness

to others, waste of time on ourselves, etc.

 

"Covetousness," the same as avarice, greed, etc., is an inordinate

desire for worldly goods. "Inordinate," because it is not avarice to

prudently provide for the future either for ourselves or others.

Covetousness comes under the Tenth Commandment, and is forbidden by it.

We must be content with what we have or can get honestly. The followers

of covetousness are: Want of charity, dishonest dealing, theft, etc.

 

"Lust" is the desire for sins of the flesh; for impure thoughts, words,

or actions. It comes under the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, and

includes all that is forbidden by those Commandments. It is the habit of

always violating, or of desiring to violate, the Sixth and Ninth

Commandments. Lust and impurity mean the same thing. The followers of

lust are, generally, neglect of prayer, neglect of the Sacraments, and

final loss of faith.

 

"Anger" comes under the Fifth Commandment. It is followed by hatred, the

desire of revenge, etc.

 

"Gluttony" is the sin of eating or drinking too much. With regard to

eating, it is committed by eating too often; by being too particular

about what we eat, by being too extravagant in always looking for the

most costly things, that we think others cannot have. With regard to

drinking, it is generally committed by taking too much of intoxicating

liquors. The drunkard is a glutton and commits the sin of gluttony every

time he becomes intoxicated. Gluttony, especially in drink, comes in a

manner under the First Commandment, because by depriving ourselves of

our reason we cannot give God the honor and respect which is His due.

Think of how many sins the drunkard commits. He becomes intoxicated,

which in itself is a sin. He deprives himself of the use of reason,

abuses God's great gift, and becomes like a brute beast. Indeed in a way

he becomes worse than a beast; for beasts always follow the laws that

God has given to their nature, and never drink to excess. They obey God,

and man is the only one of God's creatures that does not always keep His

laws. Think too of the number of insane persons confined in asylums, who

would give all in this world for the use of their reason, if they could

only understand their miserable condition. Yet the drunkard abuses the

gift that would make these poor unfortunate lunatics happy. Again, the

drunkard injures his health and thus violates the Fifth Commandment by

committing a kind of slow suicide. He loses self-respect, makes use of

sinful language; frequently neglects Mass and all his religious duties,

exposes himself to the danger of death while in a state of sin, gives

scandal to his family and neighbors, and by his bad example causes some

to leave or remain out of the true Church. By continued intemperance, he

may become insane and remain in that condition till death puts an end to

his career and he goes unprepared before the judgment seat of God.

Besides all this he squanders the money he should put to a better use

and turns God's gifts into a means of offending Him. If a father, he

neglects the children and wife for whom he has promised to provide;

leaves them cold and hungry while he commits sin with the means that

would make them comfortable. Drunkenness therefore is a sin accompanied

by many deplorable evils. There are three great sins you should always

be on your guard against during your whole lives, namely, drunkenness,

dishonesty, and impurity. If you avoid these you will almost surely

avoid all other sins; for nearly all sins can be traced back to these

three. They are the most dangerous, first, because they have most

followers, and secondly, because they grow upon us almost without our

knowing it. The drunkard begins perhaps as a boy by taking a little,

even very little; the second time he takes a little more; the next time

still more, then he begins to be fond of strong drink and can scarcely

do without it; finally he becomes the slave of intemperance and sells

his soul and body for it. The passions of dishonesty and impurity grow

by degrees in the same manner. Therefore avoid them in the beginning and

resist them while they are under your power. If you find yourself

inclined to any of these sins in your youth, stop them at once.

 

"Envy" is the desire to see another meet with misfortune that we may be

benefited by it. We are glad when he does not succeed in his business,

we are sorry when anyone speaks well of him, etc. Envy comes under the

Eighth Commandment.

 

"Sloth" is committed when we idle our time, and are lazy; when we are

indifferent about serving God; when we do anything slowly and poorly and

in a way that shows we would rather not do it. They are slothful who lie

in bed late in the morning and neglect their duty. Slothful people are

often untidy in their personal appearance; and they are nearly always in

misery and want, unless somebody else takes care of them. Sloth comes

under the First Commandment, because it has reference in a special

manner to the way in which we serve God. How, then, shall we best

destroy sin in our souls? By finding out our chief capital sin and

rooting it out. If a strong oak tree is deeply rooted in the ground, how

will you best destroy its life? By cutting off the branches? No. For

with each returning spring new branches will grow. How then? By cutting

the root and then the great oak with all its branches will die. In the

same way our capital sin is the root, and as long as we leave it in our

souls other sins will grow out of it. While we are trying to destroy our

sins without touching our capital sin--our chief sin--we are only

cutting off branches that will grow again. Indeed a great many people

are only cutting off branches all the time and that is why they are not

benefited as much as they could be by the prayers they say, Masses they

hear, Sacraments they receive, and sermons they listen to. But do not

imagine that because you are not becoming better, when you pray, hear

Mass, and receive the Sacraments, you are doing no good at all. That

would be a great mistake, and just such a thing as the devil would

suggest to make persons give up their devotions. What is the use, he

might say, of your trying to be good? You are just as bad as you were a

year ago. Do not listen to that temptation. Were it not for your prayers

and your reception of the Sacraments, you would become a great deal

worse than you are. Suppose a man is rowing on the river against a very

strong tide. He is rowing as hard as he can and yet he is not advancing

one foot up the stream. Is he doing nothing therefore? Ah! he is doing a

great deal: he is preventing himself from being carried with the current

out into the ocean. He is keeping himself where he is till the force of

the tide diminishes, and then he can advance. So they who are trying to

be good are struggling against the strong tide of temptation. If they

cease to struggle against it, they will be carried out into the great

ocean of sin and lost forever. Someday the temptation will grow weaker

and then they will be able to advance towards Heaven. We feel

temptations most when we are trying to resist them and lead good lives,

because we are working against our evil inclinations--the strong tide of

our passions. We have no trouble going with them.

 

 

 

Lesson 7

ON THE INCARNATION AND REDEMPTION

 

"Incarnation" means to take flesh, as a body. Here it means Our Lord's

taking flesh, that is, taking a body like ours, when He became man.

"Redemption" means to buy back. Let us take an example. Slaves are men

or women that belong entirely to their masters, just as horses, cows, or

other animals do. Slaves are bought and sold, never receive any wages

for their work, get their food and clothing and no more. As they never

earn money for themselves, they can never purchase their own liberty. If

ever they are to be free, someone else must procure their liberty. Now,

suppose I am in some country where slavery exists. I am free, but I want

one hundred dollars; so I go to a slave owner and say: I want to sell

myself for one hundred dollars. He buys me and I soon squander the one

hundred dollars. Now I am his property, his slave; I shall never earn

any wages and shall never be able to buy my freedom. No other slave can

help me, for he is just in the same condition as I myself am. If I am to

be free, a free man who has the money must pay for my liberty. This is

exactly the condition in which all men were before Our Lord redeemed

them. Adam sold himself and all his children to the devil by committing

sin. He and they therefore became slaves. They could not earn any

spiritual wages, that is, grace of God to purchase their liberty; and as

all men were slaves one could not help another in this matter. Then Our

Lord Himself came and purchased our freedom. He bought us back again,

and the price He paid was His own life and blood given up upon the

Cross. In His goodness, He did more than redeem us; He gave us also the

means of redeeming ourselves in case we should ever have the misfortune

of falling again into the slavery of the devil--into sin. He left us the

Sacrament of Penance to which we can go as to a bank, and draw out

enough of Our Lord's grace--merited for us and deposited in the power of

His Church--to purchase our redemption from sin.

 

60 Q. Did God abandon man after he fell into sin?

A. God did not abandon man after he fell into sin, but promised him a

Redeemer, who was to satisfy for man's sin and reopen to him the gates

of Heaven.

 

"Abandon" means to leave to one's self. Adam and his posterity were

slaves, but God took pity on them. He did not leave them to themselves,

but promised to help them.

 

"Gates of Heaven." Heaven has no gates, because it is not built of

material--of stone, or iron, or wood. It is only our way of speaking;

just as we say "hand of God," although He has no hands. Heaven is the

magnificent home God has prepared for us, and its gates are His power by

which He keeps us out or lets us in as He pleases. Our Lord, therefore,

obtained admittance for us.

 

61 Q. Who is the Redeemer?

A. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind.

 

62 Q. What do you believe of Jesus Christ?

A. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second Person of

the Blessed Trinity, true God and true man.

 

"True God." He was true God equal to His Father from all eternity. He

became man when He came upon the earth about 2,000 years ago, and was

born on Christmas Day. Now He is in Heaven as God and man. Therefore, He

was God always, but man only from the time of His Incarnation.

 

*63 Q. Why is Jesus Christ true God?

A. Jesus Christ is true God because He is the true and only Son of God

the Father.

 

God the Father, first Person of the Blessed Trinity, is His real Father,

and St. Joseph was His foster-father, selected by the Heavenly Father to

take care of Our Lord and watch over Him while on earth. A foster-father

is not the same as a stepfather. A stepfather is a second father that

one gets when his real father dies. A foster-father is one who takes a

person, whether a relative or a stranger, and adopts him as his son. It

was a very great honor for St. Joseph to be selected from among all men

to take care of the Son of God; to carry in his arms the great One of

whom the prophets spoke; the One for whom the whole world longed during

so many thousand years; so that next to our Blessed Mother St. Joseph

deserves our greatest honor.

 

*64 Q. Why is Jesus Christ true man?

A. Jesus Christ is true man because He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin

Mary, and has a body and soul like ours.

 

He has all that we have by nature, but not the things we have acquired

such as deformities, imperfections, and the like. Everything in Our Lord

was perfect. Above all, He had no sin of any kind; nor even inclination

to sin. He could be hungry, as He was when He fasted forty days in the

desert. (Matt. 4:2). He was thirsty, as He said on the Cross. (John

19:28). He could be wearied; as we read in the Holy Scripture (John 4:6)

that He sat down by a well to rest, while His disciples went into the

city to buy food. All these sufferings come from our very nature. We say

a thing comes from our very nature when everybody has it. Now, everyone

in the world may at times be hungry, thirsty, or tired; but everybody in

the world need not have a toothache or headache, because such things are

not common to human nature, but due to some defect in our body; and such

defects Our Lord did not have, because He was a perfect man. Therefore,

Our Lord had a body like ours, not as it usually is with defects, but as

it should be, perfect in all things that belong to its nature, as Adam's

was before he sinned.

 

*65 Q. How many natures are there in Jesus Christ?

A. In Jesus Christ there are two natures: the nature of God and the

nature of man.

 

He was perfect God and perfect man. His human nature was under the full

power of His divine nature, and could not do anything contrary to His

divine will. You cannot understand how there can be two natures and two

wills in one person, because it is another of the great mysteries; but

you must believe it, just as you believe there are three Persons in one

God, though you do not understand it. Those who learn theology and study

a great deal may understand it better than you, but never fully. It will

be enough, therefore, for you to remember and believe that there are two

natures--the divine nature and the human nature--in the one person of

Our Lord.

 

*66 Q. Is Jesus Christ more than one person?

A. No, Jesus Christ is but one Divine Person.

 

"But one," so that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of

God, the Messias, Christ, Jesus, Our Lord, Our Saviour, Our Redeemer,

etc., are all names for the one Person; and, besides these, there are

many other names given to Our Lord in the Holy Scripture, both in the

Old and the New Testaments.

 

*67 Q. Was Jesus Christ always God?

A. Jesus Christ was always God, as He is the Second Person of the

Blessed Trinity, equal to His Father from all eternity.

 

*68 Q. Was Jesus Christ always man?

A. Jesus Christ was not always man, but became man at the time of His

Incarnation.

 

69 Q. What do you mean by the Incarnation?

A. By the Incarnation I mean that the Son of God was made man.

 

70 Q. How was the Son of God made man?

A. The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy

Ghost, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

*71 Q. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary truly the Mother of God?

A. The Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God, because the same

Divine Person who is the Son of God is also the Son of the Blessed

Virgin Mary.

 

*72 Q. Did the Son of God become man immediately after the sin of our

first parents?

A. The Son of God did not become man immediately after the sin of our

first parents, but He was promised to them as a Redeemer.

 

God did not say to Adam when He would send the Redeemer, and so the

Redeemer did not come for about 4,000 years after He was first promised.

God permitted this long time to elapse in order that mankind might feel

and know how great an evil sin is, and what misery it brought upon the

world. During these 4,000 years men were becoming gradually worse. At

one time--about 1,600 years after Adam's sin--they became so bad that

God destroyed by a deluge, or great flood of water, all persons and

living things upon the earth, except Noe, his wife, his three sons and

their wives, and the animals they had in the ark with them. (Gen. 6).

Let me now give you more particulars about this terrible punishment.

After God determined to destroy all living things on account of the

wickedness of men, He told Noe, who was a good man, to build a great

ark, or ship, for himself and his family, and for some of all the living

creatures upon the earth. (Gen. 6). When the ark was ready, Noe and his

family went into it, and the animals that were to be saved came by God's

power, and two by two were taken into the ark. Besides the two of each

kind of animals, Noe was required to take with him five more of each

kind of clean animals. Clean animals were certain animals which,

according to God's law, could be offered in sacrifice or eaten; they

were such animals as the ox, the sheep, the goat, etc. Therefore, seven

of each of the clean animals, and two of each of the other kinds. Why

did He have seven clean animals? Two were to be set free upon the dry

earth with the other animals, and the other five were for food and

sacrifice. Noe spent a hundred years in making the ark. At that time men

lived much longer than they do now. Adam lived over 900 years and

Mathusala, the oldest man, lived to be 969 years old. There are many

reasons why men live a shorter time now than then. When the door of the

ark was closed, God sent a great rain that lasted for forty days and

forty nights. All the springs of water broke forth, and all the rivers

and lakes overflowed their banks. Men ran here and there to high places,

while the water rose higher and higher till it covered the tops of the

mountains, and all not in the ark were drowned. The big ark floated

about for about a year; for although it stopped raining after forty

days, just think of the quantity of water that must have fallen! Think

of the rain what would fall during the whole of Lent from Ash Wednesday

to Easter Sunday--forty days. It took a long time, therefore, for the

waters to go down and finally disappear. When the waters began to go

down, Noe, wishing to know if any land was as yet above the water,

opened the little window, and sent out a raven or crow over the waters.

The raven did not come back, because it is a bird that eats flesh, and

it found plenty of dead bodies to feed upon. Then Noe sent out a dove,

and the dove came back with the bough of an olive tree in its mouth.

From this Noe knew that the earth was becoming dry again. After some

days, the ark rested on the top of a mountain named Ararat. When all the

waters had dried up, Noe and his family and all the animals passed out

of the ark. He offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and he and his

family settled once more upon the earth. For a while, the descendants of

Noe were good, but when they became numerous they soon forgot the deluge

and its punishments, and became very wicked. Many forgot the true God

altogether, and began to worship the sun, moon, and stars. Some

worshipped animals, and others idols of wood or stone. They offered up

human victims and committed all kinds of sins most displeasing to God.

Many were in slavery; masters were cruel; and things were becoming daily

worse, till just before the coming of Our Lord the world was in a

terrible condition of misery and sin. The lawmakers tried to remedy

these evils by their laws, and the teachers and professors by their

teaching; but all was of no avail. God Himself must save the world.

 

God gave many promises of the Redeemer. The first one was given in the

garden to our first parents. God said (Gen. 3:15) to the serpent: I will

put enmities, that is hatred, between thee and the woman; that is,

between the devil and the Blessed Virgin--whom the holy writers call the

second Eve; because as the first Eve caused our fall, the second Eve

helped us to rise again. I will put also a great hatred between the

devil and your Redeemer. The next promise of the Redeemer was made to

Abraham. (Gen. 15). Another was made to Isaac, and another to Jacob; and

later these promises were frequently renewed through the prophets; so

that during the four thousand years God encouraged the good people, by

promising from time to time the Redeemer.

 

Some of the prophets foretold to what family He would belong, and when

He would be born, and when and what He would suffer, and how He would

die. They also foretold signs or things that would come to pass just

before the advent or coming of the Messias (Gen. 49:10); so that when

the people saw these things coming to pass, they could know that the

time of the Messias was at hand. Thus when Our Lord came, the whole

world was waiting and looking for the promised Redeemer, because the

signs foretold had appeared or were taking place. But the majority did

not recognize Our Lord when He came, on account of the quiet, humble,

and poor way in which He came. They were expecting to see the Redeemer

come as a great and powerful king, with mighty armies conquering the

world; and in this they were mistaken. If they had studied the Holy

Scriptures they would have learned how He was to come--poor and humble.

 

*73 Q. How could they be saved who lived before the Son of God became

man?

A. They who lived before the Son of God became man could be saved by

believing in the Redeemer to come, and by keeping the Commandments.

 

We have seen that God promised the Redeemer during four thousand years.

Now, those who believed these promises and kept all God's Commandments,

and observed all His laws as they knew them, could be saved. They could

not, it is true, enter into Heaven after their death, but they could

wait in Limbo without suffering till Our Lord opened Heaven for them.

They were saved only through the merits of Our Lord. And how could this

be when Our Lord was not yet born? Do you know what a promissory note

is? It is this. When a man is not able to pay his debts just now but

will be able afterwards, he gives those to whom he owes the money a

promissory note, that is, a written promise that he will pay at a

certain time. Now, those who died before Our Lord was born had the Holy

Scripture promising that Christ would pay for them and for their sins

when He would come. So God saved them on account of this promise and

kept them free from suffering till Our Lord came. If any died when they

were little infants, their parents answered for them as godfathers and

godmothers do now for infants at Baptism.

 

74 Q. On what day was the Son of God conceived and made man?

A. The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day--the

day on which the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that

she was to be the Mother of God.

 

"Annunciation Day" is the 25th of March. You can easily remember that

feast. Everybody knows that St. Patrick's Day is on the 17th of March,

and therefore eight days after it comes Annunciation day. There is

another feast coming in between them, the feast of St. Joseph, on the

19th of March. Therefore it is easy to remember these three feasts

coming all in March and almost together. Annunciation is the name given

to that day after the angel came, but it was not called so before.

Annunciation means to tell or make known, and this is the day the angel

made known to the Blessed Virgin that she was selected for the high

office of Mother of God. The Blessed Virgin was expecting the Messias,

and was probably praying for His speedy arrival, as were the rest of her

people, when suddenly the angel came and said: Hail, full of grace. (See

Hail Mary Expl.).

 

75 Q. On what day was Christ born?

A. Christ was born on Christmas Day in a stable at Bethlehem, over

nineteen hundred years ago.

 

"Christmas Day" is the 25th of December, one week before the New Year.

It is called Christmas Day since the time Our Lord was born, over

nineteen hundred years ago. "In a stable at Bethlehem." The story of Our

Lord's birth is in every way a very sad one. The Blessed Virgin and St.

Joseph lived in Palestine--called also the Holy Land since Our Lord

lived there. Palestine was the country where God's people, the Jews,

lived, and at the time we are speaking of, it was under the power of the

Roman Emperor, who had his soldiers and governor there. He wished to

find out how many people were there, and so he ordered a census or count

of the people to be made. (Luke 2). We take the census very differently

now from what they did then. We in the United States, by order of the

government, send men around from house to house to write down the names;

but in Palestine, when they wanted the number of the people, everyone,

no matter where he lived, had to go to the city or town where his

forefathers had lived and there register his name with all the others

who belonged to the same tribe or family. Now, the forefathers of St.

Joseph and the Blessed Virgin belonged to the little town of Bethlehem

(Luke 2); so they had to leave Nazareth where they were then living and

go to Bethlehem. This was shortly before Christmas. When they got to

Bethlehem, they found the place crowded with people who also came to

enroll their names. They went to the inn or hotel to seek for lodging

for the night. The hotels there were not like ours. They were simply

large buildings with small rooms and no furniture; they were called

caravansaries. A man was in charge of the building, and by paying him

something persons were allowed the use of a room. No food was sold

there, so travelers had to do their cooking at home and bring whatever

they needed with them. When the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph went to

the inn they found all the rooms occupied. Then they went up and down

the streets looking for some house where they might stay. Nobody would

take them in, because St. Joseph was old and poor and had no money, or

little, to give. They were refused at every door, a very sad thing

indeed. What were they to do? It was growing dark, and the lights most

likely were being lighted here and there in the houses. The old towns

were not built as ours are, with houses on the outskirts growing fewer

as we advance into the country. They were surrounded by great walls to

keep out their enemies. There were several large gates in these walls,

through which the people entered or left the city. At night these gates

were closed and guarded. Nearly all the people lived within the walls

and the country was lonely and almost deserted. Only shepherds were to

be found in the country, and they lived in tents, which they carried

about from place to place, as soldiers do in time of war. Such was the

country about Bethlehem. As St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin could not

find anyplace to stay in the town they were forced to go into the

country. They must have suffered also from fear because the country was

infested with wolves and wild dogs, so fierce that they sometimes came

into the towns and attacked the people in the streets. Besides, many

robbers were wandering about waiting for victims. Palestine is a hilly

country and there were on the sides of some of the hills large caves in

which these robbers frequently took refuge or divided their spoils.

Because the shepherds at times, especially in bad weather, brought their

animals into these caves, they are often called stables. The Blessed

Virgin and St. Joseph found, we are told, one of these cold, dark

places, went into it for the night, and there Our Lord was born.

 

It was the month of December and must have been quite cold, so the

little Infant Jesus must have suffered greatly from the cold. If it had

been a stable such as we see in our days it would have been bad enough;

but think of this cold, dark, miserable cave, and yet it was Our Lord,

the King of Heaven and earth, who was born there. There are few people

so poor that they have to live in a cave. What wonderful humility, then,

on the part of Our Lord. He could have been born, if He wished, in the

grandest palace man could construct and have had thousands of angels to

bring Him whatever He needed, for they are His servants in Heaven. But

Our Lord became so humble to teach us. What impression should this make

on those who are too fond of dress and too vain about their homes.

 

It was foretold by the prophets that Our Lord would be born in

Bethlehem, and when the time was near at hand His parents were living in

Nazareth; then the Roman Emperor gave the decree that the census be

taken, which obliged Our Lord's parents to go to Bethlehem, and thus Our

Lord was born there, and the words of the prophets fulfilled. See how

God moves the whole world, if necessary, to accomplish what He desires.

But how naturally He does everything. Nobody knew--not even the Roman

Emperor himself--that he was giving an edict to fulfill the prophecies

and the promises of God. So, at times, people do many things to carry

out the designs of God, though they know it not. We should never

complain therefore to do unwillingly whatever work we have to perform,

because it may be something that God wishes us to do for some very

special end. If you look back upon your lives, you can see that God

guided and directed you upon many occasions.

 

*76 Q. How long did Christ live on earth?

A. Christ lived on earth about thirty-three years, and led a most holy

life in poverty and suffering.

 

The life of Our Lord was spent in the following manner. At the time Our

Lord was born in Bethlehem wise men or kings, called Magi, came from the

East--perhaps from Persia or Arabia--to adore Him. They saw a strange

star, and leaving their own country came to Palestine. When they came as

far as Jerusalem, they went to King Herod and asked him where the young

King was born. Herod was troubled, for he was afraid the new King would

deprive him of his throne. He called together all the priests and asked

them about this royal child. They told him and the Magi that, according

to the prophecies, the Saviour should be born in Bethlehem. The Wise Men

saw the star once more, and followed it to Bethlehem, where it stood

over the stable in which Our Lord lay. They entered, and adored the

Infant Jesus, and offered Him presents. Now, Herod told them to come

back after they had found the newborn King, and tell him where He was,

that he too might go and adore Him. But such was not Herod's real

intention. He wished not to adore but to kill Him. See, then, how the

wicked pretend at times to do good, that they may deceive us and lead us

astray. Be always on your guard against a person if you suspect his

goodness. But Herod could not deceive God, who, knowing his heart,

warned the Wise Men not to return to Herod, but to go back to their own

country by another way, which they did. We celebrate the day on which

the Wise Men adored the Infant Jesus on the feast of the Epiphany (six

days after New Year's Day). When the Magi did not return, Herod knew

that they had avoided him. He was very angry indeed, and in order to be

sure of killing the poor little Infant Jesus, he had all the infants or

children in or near Bethlehem who were not over two years old put to

death. We honor these first little martyrs who suffered for Christ on

the feast of Holy Innocents--three days after Christmas.

 

After the departure of the Wise Men, God sent an angel to St. Joseph

warning him of Herod's evil designs, and telling him to fly with Jesus

and Mary into Egypt. Then St. Joseph, with the Blessed Virgin and the

Infant, set out for Egypt. St. Joseph did not ask the angel how long he

would have to stay there; nor did he ask to be allowed to wait till

morning. He obeyed promptly; he arose in the night, and started at once.

What an example of obedience for us! They must have had many hardships

on the way. They must have suffered much from hunger, cold, and fear.

They dare not go on the best roads, for we may well suppose that Herod

had his spies out watching for any that might escape. So they went by

the roughest roads and longest way. In Egypt they were among strangers,

and how could a poor old carpenter like St. Joseph find enough work

there! The Holy Family must at times have suffered greatly from want.

They remained in Egypt for some time. Afterwards, when Herod died, they

returned to Nazareth. (Matt. 2).

 

At twelve years of age Our Lord went to the Temple of Jerusalem to offer

sacrifice with His parents. (Luke 2:42). He afterwards returned to

Nazareth, and then for eighteen years--called His hidden life--we do not

hear anything of Him. Most likely He worked in the carpenter shop with

His foster-father, St. Joseph.

 

At the age of thirty (Luke 3:23), Our Lord began His public life; that

is, His preaching, miracles, etc. His public life lasted a little over

three years, and then He was put to death on the Cross.

 

*77 Q. Why did Christ live so long on earth?

A. Christ lived so long on earth to show us the way to Heaven by His

teaching and example.

 

Christ went through all the stages of life that each might have an

example. He was an infant: then a child; then a young man, and finally a

man. He did not become an old man to set an example to the old, because

if men follow His example in their youth and manhood they will be good

in old age. Youth is the all-important time to learn. If you want a tree

to grow straight, you must keep it straight while it is only a little

twig. You cannot straighten an old oak tree that has grown up crooked.

So you must be taught to do right in your youth, that you may do the

same when old. Of the hidden or private life of Our Lord we, as I have

said, know nothing, except that He was obedient to His parents; for He

wished to give an example also to those holy persons who lead a life

hidden from the world. Some books have given stories about what Our Lord

did in school, etc., but these stories are not true. The only true

things we know of Our Lord are those told in the Holy Scripture, or

handed down to us by the Church in her teachings, or those certainly

revealed to God's saints. Remember, then, that others are taught best by

example, and be careful of the example you give.

 

 

 

Lesson 8

ON OUR LORD'S PASSION, DEATH, RESURRECTION, AND ASCENSION

 

The Passion, that is, the terrible sufferings of Our Lord, began after

the Last Supper, and ended at His death. On Thursday evening, Our Lord

sat down for the last time with His dear Apostles. He had been talking,

eating, and living with them for over three years; and now He is going

to take His last meal with them before His death. He told them then how

He was to suffer, and that one of them was going to betray Him. They

were very much troubled, for only Judas himself knew what he was about

to do.

 

78 Q. What did Jesus Christ suffer?

A. Jesus Christ suffered a bloody sweat, a cruel scourging, was crowned

with thorns, and was crucified.

 

After the Supper, Our Lord went with His Apostles to a little country

place just outside Jerusalem, and separated from it by a small stream.

He told the three Apostles, Peter, James, and John, to stay near the

entrance, and to watch and pray, while He Himself went further into the

Garden of Olives, or Gethsemani, as this place was called, and throwing

Himself upon His face, prayed long and earnestly, but the Apostles fell

asleep.

 

We often find persons who are in great anguish or dread covered with a

cold perspiration. Now, Our Lord's agony in the garden was so intense

that great drops, not of sweat, but of blood, oozed from every pore, and

trickled to the ground. There are three reasons given for this dreadful

agony.

 

(1) The clear, certain knowledge of the sufferings so soon to be

endured. If we were to be put to death tomorrow and knew exactly the

manner of our death and the pain it would inflict, how great would be

our fear! Our Lord, knowing all things, knew in every particular what He

would have to undergo. Moreover, His sufferings were greater than ours

could be, even if we suffered the same kind of death; because His body

was most perfect, and therefore more susceptible of pain than ours. A

wound in the eye, because the most sensitive and delicate part of the

body, would cause us greater pain than a wound on the foot or hand.

Thus, all the parts of Our Lord's body being so perfect and sensitive,

we can scarcely imagine His dreadful torments, the very thought of which

caused Him such agony.

 

(2) The sins, past, present, and future of all men. He knew all things,

as we have said, and looking back upon the world He saw all the sins

committed, of thought, word, and deed, from the time of Adam down to His

own; and seeing all these offenses against His Father, He was very much

grieved.

 

(3) The third reason why He grieved. He looked forward and saw how

little many persons would profit by all the sufferings He was about to

endure. He saw all the sins that would be committed from the time of His

death down to the end of the world. He saw us also sinning with the

rest. No wonder then that He suffered so much in the garden. This

suffering on that night is called "Our Lord's Agony in the Garden." That

night Judas, who had betrayed Him to His enemies, came with a great band

of soldiers and people, with swords and clubs, to make Our Lord a

prisoner. He did not try to escape, but stood waiting for them, though

all His Apostles, who had promised to stay with Him, ran away. Then the

soldiers led Our Lord to the house of the Chief Priest. Then they

gathered the priests, and gave Him a kind of trial, and said He was

guilty of death. But at that time the Jews had no power to put persons

to death according to the law; so they had to send Our Lord to Pontius

Pilate, the Roman Governor, to be condemned, because they were under the

power of the Romans. The Jews acted against their laws in the trial of

Our Lord.

 

(1) They tried Him at night; and (2) they allowed Him no witnesses in

His defense, but even employed false witnesses to testify against Him,

and thus acted against all law and justice. Early in the morning they

led Him to Pilate, who commanded that He should be scourged. Then they

stripped Our Lord of His garments, fastened His hands to a low stone

pillar, and there He was "scourged" by the Roman soldiers. The lashes

used by the Romans were made of leather, with pieces of bone, iron, or

steel fastened into it, so that every stroke would lay open the flesh.

It is most likely these were the lashes used upon Our Lord till every

portion of His body was bruised and bleeding, and they replaced His

garments upon Him. Now, you know if you put a cloth upon a fresh wound

the blood will soak into it and cause it to adhere to the mangled flesh.

Our Blessed Lord's garment, thus saturated with His blood, adhered to

His wounded body, and when again removed caused Him unspeakable pain.

Next, the soldiers, because Our Lord had said He was a king--meaning a

spiritual king--led Him into a large hall and mocked Him. They made a

crown of long, sharp thorns, and forced it down upon His brow with a

heavy rod or reed; every stroke driving the thorns into His head, and

causing the blood to roll down His sacred face. They again took off His

garments, and opened anew the painful wounds. Because kings wore purple,

they put an old purple garment upon Him, and made Him a mock king,

genuflecting in ridicule as they passed before Him. They struck Him in

the face and spat upon Him; and yet it seems our patient Lord said not a

word in complaint. Then they put His garments upon Him, and Pilate asked

the people what he should do with Him, and they cried, "Crucify Him." It

was then Friday morning, and probably about ten or eleven o'clock. They

made a cross of heavy beams, and laying it upon His shoulders, forced

Him to carry it to Calvary--the place of execution, just outside the

city; for it was not allowed to execute anyone in the city. Our Lord had

not eaten anything from Thursday evening, and then with all He suffered

and the loss of blood, He must have been very weak at eleven o'clock on

Friday morning. He was weak, and fell many times under the Cross. His

suffering was increased by seeing His Blessed Mother looking at Him.

When He arrived at Calvary they tore off His garments and nailed Him to

the Cross, driving the rough nails through His hands and feet. It was

then about twelve o'clock. From twelve to three in the afternoon Our

Blessed Saviour was hanging on the Cross, with a great multitude of His

enemies about Him mocking and saying cruel things. Even the two thieves

that were crucified with Him reviled Him, though one of them repented

and was pardoned before death. Our Lord's poor Mother and His few

friends stood at a little distance witnessing all that was going on.

When Our Lord was thirsty His executioners gave Him gall to drink. At

three o'clock He died, and there was an earthquake and darkness, and the

people were sorely afraid.

 

But you will ask, how could these soldiers be so cruel? They were

Romans; and in those days men called gladiators used to fight with

swords before the Roman Emperor and all the people--just as actors play

now for the amusement of their audience. People who could enjoy such

scenes as men slaying one another in deadly conflict would scarcely be

moved to pity by seeing a man scourged. Again, in the early ages of the

Church, during the persecutions, the Emperors used to order the

Christians to be thrown to wild beasts to be torn to pieces in the

presence of the people--who applauded these horrible sights. They who

could see so many put to death would not mind putting one to death, even

in the most terrible manner.

 

79 Q. On what day did Christ die?

A. Christ died on Good Friday.

 

"Good Friday," so called since that time.

 

*80 Q. Why do you call that day "good" on which Christ suffered so

sorrowful a death?

A. We call that day good on which Christ died, because by His death He

showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.

 

*81 Q. Where did Christ die?

A. Christ died on Mount Calvary.

 

"Mount Calvary," a little hill just outside the city of Jerusalem. For

every city they have a special prison or place where all their criminals

are executed. Now, as the great Temple of God was in Jerusalem, the city

itself was called the City of God, because in the Temple God spoke to

the priests in the Holy of Holies. The Temple was divided into two

parts: one part, something like the body of our churches, called the

Holy, and the other part, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, called

the Holy of Holies. It had about the same relation to the Temple as our

altar and sanctuary have to our churches. The Ark of the Covenant was a

box about four feet long, two and a half feet high, and two and a half

feet wide, made of the finest wood, and ornamented with gold in the most

beautiful manner. In it were the tables of stone, on which were written

the Commandments of God; also the rod that Aaron--Moses'

brother--changed into a serpent before King Pharaoh; also some of the

manna with which the people were miraculously fed during their forty

years' journey in the desert when they fled out of Egypt. All these

things were figures of the true religion. The Ark itself was a figure of

the tabernacle, and the manna of the Holy Eucharist. The Holy of Holies

was hidden from the people by a veil. Only the Chief Priest was allowed

into that sacred place, and but once a year. The veil--called the veil

of the Temple--hiding that Holy of Holies, though the things mentioned

above were no longer in it, was torn asunder when Our Lord died on the

Cross (Matt. 27:51); because after His death there was no need any

longer of figures; for after His death we have the tabernacle itself and

the real manna, the real bread from Heaven, viz., the body of Our Lord.

The veil was rent to show also that God would not remain any longer in

the Temple, but would be for the future only in the Christian Church. On

account of all these things, therefore, Jerusalem was called the Holy

City, and no criminals were put to death in it, but were conducted to

Calvary--which means the place of skulls--and were there put to death. I

now call your attention to one thing. If the Jews showed such great

respect and reverence for the Ark containing only figures of the Blessed

Sacrament, how should we behave in the presence of the tabernacle on the

altar containing the Blessed Sacrament itself!

 

*82 Q. How did Christ die?

A. Christ was nailed to a cross and died on it, between two thieves.

 

"Two thieves," because they thought this would make His death more

disgraceful--making Him equal to common criminals. One of these thieves,

called the penitent thief, repented of his sins and received Our Lord's

pardon before his death. The other thief died in his sins. Holy writers

tell us that one of these thieves was saved to give poor sinners hope,

and to teach them that they may save their souls at the very last moment

of their lives if only they are heartily sorry for their sins and

implore God's pardon for them. The other thief remained and died

impenitent, that sinners may fear to put off their conversion to the

hour of death, thus rashly presuming on God's mercy. Persons who

willfully delay their conversion and put off their repentance to the

last moment, living bad lives with the hope of dying well, may not

accept the grace to repent at the last moment, but may, like the

unfortunate, impenitent thief, die as they lived, in a state of sin.

 

83 Q. Why did Christ suffer and die?

A. Christ suffered and died for our sins.

 

It was not necessary for Our Lord to suffer so much, but He did it to

show how much He loved us and valued our souls, and how much He was

willing to give for them. We, alas! do not value our souls as Christ

did; we sometimes sell them for the merest trifle--a moment's

gratification. How sinful!

 

*84 Q. What lessons do we learn from the sufferings and death of Christ?

A. From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn the great evil of

sin, the hatred God bears to it, and the necessity of satisfying for it.

 

We learn "the great evil of sin" also from the misery it brought into

the world; the "hatred God bears to it," from the punishment He

inflicted on the wicked angels and on our first parents for it; and

lastly, the "necessity of satisfying for it," from the fact that God

allowed His dear and only Son to suffer death itself for the sins even

of others.

 

*85 Q. Whither did Christ's soul go after His death?

A. After Christ's death His soul descended into hell.

 

*86 Q. Did Christ's soul descend into the hell of the damned?

A. The hell into which Christ's soul descended was not the hell of the

damned, but a place or state of rest called Limbo, where the souls of

the just were waiting for Him.

 

Hell had many meanings in olden times. The grave was sometimes called

hell. Jacob, when he heard that wild beasts had devoured his son Joseph,

said: "I will go down with sorrow into hell." He meant the grave. Limbo

is not the same as Purgatory. It does not exist now, or, if it does, is

only for little children who have never committed actual sin and who

have died without Baptism. They will never get into Heaven or see God,

but they will not have to suffer pains as they who are in Purgatory or

Hell endure.

 

*87 Q. Why did Christ descend into Limbo?

A. Christ descended into Limbo to preach to the souls who were in

prison--that is, to announce to them the joyful tidings of their

redemption.

 

*88 Q. Where was Christ's body while His soul was in Limbo?

A. While Christ's soul was in Limbo His body was in the Holy Sepulchre.

 

"Sepulchre" is the same as tomb. It is like a little room. In it the

coffin is not covered up with earth as it is in the grave, but is placed

upon a stand. We call such places vaults, and you can see many of them

in any cemetery or burying ground. Sometimes they are cut in the side of

elevated ground with their entrance level with the road, and sometimes

they are built altogether under the ground. The one in which Our Lord

was placed was cut out of the side of a rock, and had for a door a great

stone against the entrance. Our Lord was not placed in a coffin, but was

wrapped in a linen cloth. It was the custom of the Jewish people and of

many other ancient nations to embalm the bodies of the dead, wrap them

in cloths, and cover them with sweet spices. (Matt. 27:59). Thus it was

that Mary Magdalene and other good women came early in the morning to

anoint the body of Our Lord. But you will say, why did they not do it on

Friday evening or night? The reason was this: The day with the Jews

began at sunset--generally about six o'clock--and ended at sunset on the

next evening. We count our twenty-four hours, or day, from twelve at

midnight till twelve the next night. Therefore, with the Jews six

o'clock on Friday evening was the beginning of Saturday. They kept

Saturday, or the Sabbath, instead of Sunday as a day of worship. On that

day, which they kept very strictly, it was not allowable to do work of

any kind; so they could not anoint Our Lord's body till the Sabbath

ended, which was about six o'clock, or sunset on Saturday evening. So,

as the Holy Scripture tells us, they came very early in the morning; for

Mary Magdalene and these good women were Jews, and strictly observed the

Jewish law. You must know that Our Lord Himself, the Blessed Virgin, St.

Joseph, and the Apostles were Jews; and that the Jewish religion was the

true religion up to the coming of Our Lord; but as it was only a figure

and a promise of the Christian religion, it ceased to have any meaning

or to be the true religion when the Christian religion itself was

established by Our Lord.

 

89 Q. On what day did Christ rise from the dead?

A. Christ rose from the dead, glorious and immortal, on Easter Sunday,

the third day after His death.

 

"Rose" by His own power. This is the greatest of all Our Lord's

miracles, because all He taught is confirmed by it and depends upon it.

A miracle is a work that can be performed only by God, or by someone to

whom He has given the power. If anyone performs a real miracle to prove

what he says, his words must be true; for God, who is infinite truth,

could not sanction a lie--could not help an impostor to deceive us. Now

Our Lord said He was the Son of God; that He could forgive sins, etc.;

and He performed miracles to prove what He said. Therefore He must have

told the truth. So all those whom God sent to do any great work were

given the power to perform miracles that the people might know they were

really messengers from God. They, on the other hand, who claim--as many

have done from time to time in the world--that they have been sent by

God to do some great work, and can give no convincing proof of their

mission, are not to be believed. Thus, when Martin Luther claimed that

he was sent by God to reform the Catholic Church--which had existed

nearly 1,500 years before he was born--he performed no miracles, nor did

he give any other proof that he had any such commission from God; and he

cannot therefore be believed.

 

God has established all the laws of nature permanently. They will not

vary or change, so that we can depend upon them. We can always be sure

that the sun will rise and set; that the seasons will come; that fire

will burn, etc. Now, if we see three young men in a great fiery furnace

without being burned (Dan. 3), we say it is a great miracle; because

naturally the fire would burn them up if God did not prevent it. Again,

water will not stand up like a high wall without something keeping it

back; it will always run about and fill every empty spot near it. If,

therefore, we see water standing up like a high wall, as it did in the

Red Sea at the command of Moses, and in the River Jordan, we say it is a

miracle. So in all cases where the laws of nature do not work in the

ordinary manner, we say a miracle is being performed. Now Our Lord

performed many such miracles--many times He suspended the laws of

nature--which God alone can do, since He alone established them. Our

Lord called back the soul to the body after death, thus raising the

dead. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cured the lame, etc.,

when all medicine and natural means were useless. He did all these

things instantly as a rule, and without remedies. Therefore His miracles

prove His divine power. Since the resurrection was a great miracle, and

Our Lord performed it to prove that He was the true and only Son of God,

He must have been just what He said He was.

 

"Glorious." Our Lord rose in the same body He had before His death; but

when He rose it had new qualities--it was glorified. The qualities of a

glorified body are four, viz.: brilliancy, agility, subtility, and

impassability. (1) It has brilliancy; that is, it shines like a light;

it gives forth light; the soul shines through the body. You have heard

of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. One day He took three of His

Apostles--Peter, James, and John--unto a high mountain (Matt. 17); and

as He was speaking to them, suddenly His whole body began to shine like

the sun. Then Moses and Elias--two great and holy men of the Old

Law--came and conversed with Him. The Apostles were astonished and

delighted at the sight, and wished to remain there always. Our Lord's

body at that time showed one of the qualities of a glorified body. The

same three Apostles that saw Him thus transfigured and heard the voice

of the Heavenly Father saying, "This is My beloved Son," were present in

the garden during Our Lord's agony. He allowed them to see the

Transfiguration, so that when they should see Him suffering as man, they

would remember that they saw Him on the mountain glorified as God. (2)

Agility; that is, a glorified body can move rapidly from one place to

another, like the lightning itself. After His resurrection Our Lord was

in Jerusalem, and almost immediately He appeared near the village of

Emmaus to two disciples going there. (Luke 24). They had left Jerusalem

after the Crucifixion, probably through fear, and were going along

together talking about what had happened during the days of Our Lord's

Passion. Suddenly Our Lord came and walked and talked with them, but

they did not know Him. They asked Him to stay that night at their house,

for it was growing dark. He did not stop with them, and at supper they

knew Him, and then He vanished from their sight. An ordinary person

would have to get up and walk away; but He vanished, showing on this

occasion the second quality of His glorified body--agility. (3)

Subtility; that is, such a body can go where it pleases and cannot be

resisted by material things. It can pass through closed doors or gates,

and even walls cannot keep it out. It passes through everything, as

light does through glass without breaking it. At one time after Our

Lord's resurrection the Apostles were gathered together in a room, for

they were still afraid of being put to death, and the doors were tightly

closed. Suddenly Our Lord stood in the midst of them and said: "Peace be

to you." (John 20:19). They did not open the door for Him; neither wood

nor stone could keep Him out: and thus He showed that His body had the

third quality. (4) His body had the fourth quality also--impassability,

which means that it can no longer suffer. Before His death, and at it,

Our Lord suffered dreadful torments, as you know; but after His

resurrection nothing could injure or hurt Him. The spear could not hurt

His side, nor the nails His hands, nor the thorns His head. Shortly

after His resurrection Our Lord appeared to His Apostles while Thomas,

one of them, was absent. (John 20:24). When Thomas returned, the other

Apostles told him that they had seen the Lord risen from the dead; but

he would not believe them, saying: "Unless I see the holes where the

nails were in His hands and feet, and put my finger into His side, I

will not believe." Now Our Lord, knowing all things, knew this also; so

He came again when Thomas was present, and said to him: "Now, Thomas,

put your hand into My side." Thomas cried out: "My Lord and my God!" He

believed then, because he saw. Now if this body of Our Lord's had been

an ordinary body, it would have caused Him pain to allow anyone to put

his hand into the wound; but it was impassable. It seems very strange,

does it not, that Thomas would not believe what the other Apostles told

him? God permitted this. Why? Because, if they all believed easily, some

enemies of Our Lord might say the Apostles were simple men that believed

everything without any proof. Now they cannot truly say so, because here

was one of the Apostles, Thomas, who would not believe without the very

strongest kind of proof. Another person, one would think, would have

been satisfied with seeing Our Lord's wounds; but Thomas would not trust

even his eyes--he must also touch before he would believe: showing,

therefore, that the Apostles were not deceived in anything Our Lord did

in their presence, for they had always the most convincing proofs.

 

After the Resurrection, at the last day, the bodies of all those who are

to be in Heaven will have the qualities I have mentioned; that is, they

will be glorified bodies.

 

Speaking of Our Lord's wounds, I might tell you what the stigmata means,

if you should ever hear or read of it. There have been some persons in

the world--saints, of course--who have had upon their hands, feet, and

side wounds just like those Our Lord had, and these wounds caused them

great pain. For example, St. Francis of Assisi (see Butler's Lives of

the Saints, Oct. 4th). Up to 1883--that is, only a few years ago--there

lived in Belgium a young girl named Louise Lateau who had the stigmata.

We have the most positive proof of it, as you may see in the accounts of

her life now published. Her wounds caused her great pain and bled every

Friday for many years. She was a delicate seamstress, and lived with her

mother and sisters in almost continual poverty. She had always been

remarkable for her true piety, patience in suffering, and charity to the

sick. I mention this young girl because she lived in our own time, and

is the latest person we know of who had the stigmata, or wounds of Our

Lord. So if you ever hear of the stigmata of St. Francis or others, you

will know that it means wounds like those of Our Lord impressed on their

bodies in a miraculous manner.

 

"Immortal"--that is never to die again, as it will be with us also after

the Resurrection.

 

"The third day." It was not three full days, but the parts of three

days. Suppose someone should ask you on Friday evening how long from now

to Sunday; you would answer: Sunday will be the third day from today.

You would count thus: Friday one, Saturday two, and Sunday itself three.

So it was with Our Lord. He died on Friday at about three in the

afternoon, and remained in the sepulchre till Sunday morning.

 

*90 Q. How long did Christ stay on earth after His resurrection?

A. Christ stayed on earth forty days after His resurrection, to show

that He was truly risen from the dead, and to instruct His Apostles.

 

After Our Lord's resurrection He remained on earth forty days: but you

must not think He was visible all that time. No. He did not appear to

everybody, but only to certain persons, and not all the time to them

either. He appeared to His Apostles and others in all about nine times;

at least, we know for certain that He appeared nine times, though He may

have appeared oftener. He showed that "He was truly risen," for He ate

with His Apostles and conversed with them. (Luke 24:42). It was after

the resurrection that He breathed on them and gave them the power to

forgive sins. (John 20).

 

91 Q. After Christ had remained forty days on earth, whither did He go?

A. After forty days Christ ascended into Heaven, and the day on which He

ascended into Heaven is called Ascension Day.

 

One day He was on a mountain with His Apostles and disciples; and as He

was talking to them He began to rise up slowly and quietly, just as you

have sometimes seen a balloon soar up into the air without noise. Higher

and higher He ascended; and as they gazed up at Him, the clouds opened

to receive Him, then closed under Him: and that was the last of Our

Lord's mission as man upon earth. The Ascension took place forty days

after the resurrection. (Acts 1).

 

*92 Q. Where is Christ in Heaven?

A. In Heaven Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

 

*93 Q. What do you mean by saying that Christ sits at the right hand of

God?

A. When I say that Christ sits at the right hand of God, I mean that

Christ as God is equal to His Father in all things, and that as man He

is in the highest place in Heaven next to God.

 

 

 

Lesson 9

ON THE HOLY GHOST AND HIS DESCENT UPON THE APOSTLES

 

94 Q. Who is the Holy Ghost?

A. The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

*95 Q. From whom does the Holy Ghost proceed?

A. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.

 

*96 Q. Is the Holy Ghost equal to the Father and the Son?

A. The Holy Ghost is equal to the Father and the Son, being the same

Lord and God as they are.

 

97 Q. On what day did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?

A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles ten days after the

Ascension of Our Lord; and the day on which He came down upon the

Apostles is called Whit-Sunday or Pentecost.

 

We have seen already that the Apostles fled and were very much afraid

when Our Lord was taken prisoner. Even Peter, the chief of the Apostles,

who said he would die rather than leave Our Lord, shamefully denied Him;

and St. John, the beloved disciple, stood near the Cross, but offered no

resistance to Our Lord's enemies. After the Crucifixion of Our Lord, the

Apostles, afraid of being put to death, shut themselves up in a room.

Ten days after Our Lord's Ascension they were praying as usual in their

room, when suddenly they heard the sound as it were of a great wind, and

then they saw tongues the shape of our own, but all on fire, coming, and

one tongue resting on the head of each Apostle present. (Acts 2).

 

This was the Holy Ghost coming to them. The Holy Ghost, being a pure

spirit without a body, can take any form He pleases. He sometimes came

in the form of a dove; so when you see a dove painted in a church near

the altar, it is there to represent the Holy Ghost. You could not paint

a spirit, so angels and God Himself are generally represented in

pictures as they at some time appeared to men.

 

"Whit-Sunday," or White-Sunday; probably so called because in the early

ages of the Church converts were baptized on the day before, and after

their Baptism wore white robes or garments as a mark of the soul's

purity after Baptism.

 

"Pentecost" means the fiftieth day, because the feast comes fifty days

after the resurrection of Our Lord. After His resurrection He remained

forty days upon earth, and ten days after He ascended into Heaven the

Holy Ghost came, thus making the fifty days.

 

After the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles they were no longer

timid men. They went forth boldly into the streets and preached Christ

crucified, telling the people how the Son of God--the true Messias

promised--had been put to death. Many who heard them believed and were

baptized. The first time St. Peter preached to the people three thousand

were converted (Acts 2:41); so that when all the Apostles preached the

number of Christians increased rapidly, and the Christian religion was

soon carried to distant parts of the world.

 

At the time Our Lord was put to death the Jews were celebrating a great

feast in Jerusalem. The Jews were not like us in this respect. We have

many churches, and in all of them sacrifice, that is, the Holy Mass, is

offered. The Jews had only one temple where sacrifice could be offered,

and that was in Jerusalem. They had synagogues or meeting houses

throughout the land in which they assembled to pray and hear the Holy

Scriptures read; but they could not offer sacrifice in them. Three times

a year they went to Jerusalem to celebrate their great feasts. One of

these feasts was called the Pasch, or Passover, and it was during the

celebration of that feast that Our Lord was put to death; so that there

were many persons from all parts of the nation present at the sad

execution. I must now tell you why they celebrated the Pasch. We

generally celebrate a feast to commemorate--to remind us of--some great

event; and the Jews celebrated this feast to remind them of their

deliverance from the slavery of the Egyptians, in which their ancestors

had been suffering for about two hundred years. At the end of that time

God sent Moses to deliver them. You should know, then, who Moses was and

what he did to deliver his people, and you should know also something of

the history of his people--the Israelites--and how they came to be in

Egypt.

 

At the time I am now going to speak of the old patriarch Jacob,

Abraham's grandson, had eleven sons--for Benjamin, the twelfth son, was

born afterwards--and the youngest was called Joseph. Joseph was the

favorite of his father, and his brothers were jealous of him. The

brothers were shepherds, and used to take their flocks to feed at a

great distance from home, and did not return for a long time. One day

the father sent Joseph to his brothers to see if all were well. They

hated Joseph because his father loved him best; and when they saw him

coming they agreed never to let him return to his father. (Gen. 37).

They intended to kill him. While they were debating about how they

should put him to death--he was then only sixteen years old--some

merchants passed on their way to Egypt; so, instead of killing him, they

sold him as a slave to the merchants. Then they took Joseph's coat and

dipped it in the blood of a kid, and sent it to their poor old father,

saying they had found it, and making him believe that some wild beast on

the way had eaten Joseph. When the merchants arrived in Egypt, Potiphar,

one of the king's officers, bought Joseph, and brought him as a slave to

his own house. While there, Joseph was falsely accused of a great crime,

and cast into prison. While Joseph was in prison the king had a dream.

(Gen. 41). He saw in the dream seven fat cows coming up out of a river,

followed by seven lean cows; and the lean cows ate up the fat cows. He

saw also seven fat ears of corn and seven lean ears of corn; and the

seven lean ears ate up the seven fat ears. The king was very much

troubled, and called together all his wise men to tell him what the

dream meant, but they could not. Then the king heard of Joseph, and sent

for him. Now Joseph was a very good young man, and God showed him the

meaning; so he told the king that the seven fat ears of corn and the

seven fat cows meant seven years of great abundance in Egypt, and that

the seven lean ears and the seven lean cows meant seven years of famine

that would follow, and all the abundance of the previous seven years

would be consumed. So he advised the king to build great barns during

the years of plenty, and gather up all the corn everywhere to save it

for the years of famine. The king was delighted at Joseph's wisdom, and

made him after himself the most powerful in the kingdom, giving him

charge of everything, so that Joseph himself might do what he had

advised. Now it happened years after this that there was a famine in the

country where Joseph's father lived, and he sent all his sons down into

Egypt to buy corn. (Gen. 42). They did not know their brother Joseph,

but he knew them; and after forgiving them for what they had done to

him, he sent them home with an abundance of corn. Afterwards Joseph's

father and brothers left their own country and came to live near Joseph

in Egypt. The king gave them good land (Gen. 47), and they lived there

in peace and happiness. Learn from this beautiful history of Joseph how

God protects those that love and serve Him no matter where they are or

in what danger they may be placed; and how He even turns the evil deeds

of their enemies into blessings for them.

 

After the death of Joseph and his brothers, their descendants became

very numerous, and the new king of the Egyptians began to persecute

them. (Ex. 2). He imposed upon them the hardest works, and treated them

most cruelly. He ordered that all their male infants should, as soon as

born, be thrown into the River Nile. Now about that time Moses was born.

(Ex. 2). His mother did not obey the king's order, but hid him for about

three months. When she could conceal him no longer she made a little

cradle of rushes, and covering it over with pitch or tar to keep out the

water, placed him in it, and then laid it in the tall grass by the edge

of the river, sending his little sister to watch what would become of

him. Just then the king's daughter came down to bathe, and seeing the

little child, ordered one of her servants to bring him to her. At that

moment Moses' little sister, pretending not to know him, ran up and

asked the king's daughter if she wished to procure a nurse for him. The

king's daughter replied in the affirmative and permitted her to bring

one; so Moses' own mother was brought and engaged to be his nurse: but

he was not known as her son, but as the adopted son of the king's

daughter. When Moses grew up he was an officer in the king's army; but

because he took the part of his persecuted countrymen he offended the

king, and had to fly from the palace. He then went into another country

and became a shepherd.

 

During all this time the persecuted Israelites were praying to the true

God to be delivered from the slavery of the Egyptians, who were

idolaters. One day Moses saw a bush burning; and as he came near to look

at it, he heard a voice telling him not to come too near, and bidding

him take off his shoes, for he was on holy ground. (Ex. 3). It was God

who thus appeared and spoke to him, and He ordered him to take off his

shoes as a mark of respect and reverence. When we want to show our

respect for any person or place, we take off our hats; but the people of

that country, instead of their hats, took off their shoes. It was the

custom of the country and did not seem strange to them.

 

Then God told Moses that He was going to send him to deliver His people

from the Egyptians and lead them back to their own country; and He sent

Aaron, the brother of Moses, with him. Then Moses said to God, the king

of Egypt will not let the people go, and what can I do? God gave Moses

two signs or miracles to show the king, so that he could know that Moses

was really sent by Him. He gave him power to change a rod into a

serpent, and back again into a rod; power also to bring a disease

instantly upon his hand, and to heal it instantly. (Ex. 4). Do these,

said Almighty God, in the presence of the king. Then Moses and Aaron

went to the king and did as God commanded them; and when the rod of

Aaron became a serpent, the king's magicians--that is, men who do

apparently wonderful things by sleight of hand or the power of the

devil--cast their rods upon the ground, and they also became

serpents--not that their rods were changed into serpents, but the devil,

who was helping them, took away instantly their rods and put real

serpents in their place--but Aaron's serpent swallowed them up. (Ex. 7).

After these signs the king would not let the people go with Moses; for

God permitted the king's heart to be hardened, so that all the Egyptians

might see the great work God was going to do for His people.

 

Then God sent the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, while the

Israelites--God's people--suffered nothing from these plagues.

 

The first plague was blood. All the water in the land was converted into

blood. (Ex. 7). The king then sent for Moses and promised that if he

would take away the plague he would allow all the people to depart.

Moses prayed to God, and the plague was removed. But after it was taken

away the king's heart was hardened again and he would not keep his

promise. Just as people in sickness, distress, or danger sometimes

promise God they will lead better lives if only He will help them, and

when they are saved they do not keep their promises, so did Pharao; and

therefore God sent another plague. The second plague was frogs. Great

numbers of them came out of the rivers and lakes, and filled all the

houses of the Egyptians, and crawled into their food, beds, etc. Again

the king sent for Moses and did as before; and again Moses prayed, and

all the frogs went back into the waters or died. (Ex. 8). But the king

again hardened his heart and did not keep his promise. The third plague

was sciniphs (Ex. 8)--very small flies, that filled the land. Imagine

our country filled with mosquitoes so numerous that you could scarcely

walk through them; it would be a dreadful plague. As it is, two or three

might cause you considerable annoyance, and pain: what then if there

were millions doubly venomous, because sent to punish you? So these

little flies must have greatly punished the Egyptians. The fourth plague

was flies that filled the land and covered everything, to the great

disgust of the people. The fifth plague was murrain--a disease that

broke out among the cattle. The sixth plague was a disease--boils--that

broke out on men and beasts, so that scarcely anyone could move on

account of the pains and suffering. The seventh plague was hail, that

fell in large pieces and destroyed all their crops. The eighth plague

was locusts. These are very destructive little animals. They look

something like our grasshoppers, but are about two or three times their

size. They fly and come in millions. They come to this country in great

numbers--almost a plague--every fifteen or twenty-five years, and the

farmers fear them very much. They eat up every green blade or leaf, and

thus destroy all the crops and trees. When the locusts came upon Egypt,

Moses, at the king's request, prayed, and God sent a strong wind that

swept them into the sea, where they perished in the water. The ninth

plague was a horrible darkness for three days in all the land of Egypt.

The tenth plague, the last, was the most terrible of all--the killing of

the firstborn in all the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12). God instructed Moses

to tell the Israelites in the land that on a certain night they were to

take a lamb in each family, kill it, and sprinkle its blood on the

doorposts of their houses. They were then to cook the lamb and eat it

standing, with their garments ready as for a journey. (Ex. 12). The lamb

was called the paschal lamb, and was, after that, to be eaten every

year, at about what is with us Easter-time, in commemoration of this

event. That night God sent an angel through all the land, and he killed

the firstborn of man and beast in all the houses of the Egyptians. That

is, he killed the eldest son in the house; and if the father was the

firstborn in his father's family, he was killed also; and the same for

the beasts. This was a terrible punishment. In the house of every

Egyptian there were some dead but not one in the houses of the

Israelites; for when the angel saw the blood of the lamb on the

doorposts, he passed over and did not enter into their houses, so that

this event, called Passover or Pasch, was kept always as a great feast

by God's people. This paschal lamb was a figure of our blessed Lord, for

as its blood saved the Israelites from death, so Our Lord's blood saved

and still saves us from eternal death in Hell.

 

After that dreadful night Pharao allowed the people to depart with

Moses; but when they had gone as far as the Red Sea, he was sorry he let

them go, and set out with a great army to bring them back. There the

people stood, with the sea before them and Pharao and his army coming

behind them; but God provided for them a means of escape. At God's

command, Moses stretched his rod over the sea, and the waters divided

and stood like great walls on either side and all the people passed

through the opening in the waters, on the dry bed of the sea. (Ex. 14).

 

Pharao attempted to follow them, but when he and his army were on the

dry bed of the sea, between the two walls of water, God allowed the

waters to close over them, and they were all drowned. Then the

Israelites began the great journey through the desert, in which they

travelled for forty years. During all that time God fed them with manna.

He Himself, as a guide, went with them in a cloud, that shaded them from

the heat of the sun during the day and was a light for them at night.

But you will ask: Was the desert so large that it took forty years to

cross it? No, but these people, notwithstanding all God had done for

them, sinned against Him in the desert; so He permitted them to wander

about through it till a new generation of people grew up, who were to be

led into the promised land by Josue, the successor of Moses. From this

we may learn a lesson for ourselves: God will always punish those who

deserve it, even though He loves them and may often have done great

things to save them; but He will wait for His own time to punish.

 

The Israelites then, as I have said, went from every part of the land up

to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch each year. It was

during one of these celebrations that Our Lord was put to death, and

during another feast that St. Peter preached to the people after Our

Lord's death. He spoke only in one language, and yet all his hearers

understood, for each heard his own language spoken. (Acts 2:6). This was

called the gift of tongues, and was given to the Apostles when the Holy

Ghost came upon them. For example, if each of you came from a different

country and understood the language only of the country from which you

came, and I gave the instructions only in English, then if everyone

thought I was speaking his language--German, French, Spanish, Italian,

etc.--and understood me, I would have what is called the gift of

tongues, and it would be a great miracle, as it was when bestowed upon

the Apostles.

 

In the first ages of the Church God performed more miracles than He does

now, because they are not now so necessary. These miracles were

performed only to make the Church better known, and to prove that she

was the true Church, with her power and authority from God. That can now

be known and seen in Christian countries without miracles. These special

gifts, like the gift of tongues, were given also to some of the early

Christians by the Holy Ghost, when they received Confirmation; but they

were not a part of or necessary for Confirmation, but only to show the

power of the true religion. Those who heard St. Peter preach, when they

went back to their own countries told what they had seen and heard, and

thus their countrymen were prepared to receive the Gospel when the

Apostles came to preach it.

 

*98 Q. How did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Apostles?

A. The Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of

fire.

 

99 Q. Who sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles?

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

 

100 Q. Why did Christ send the Holy Ghost?

A. Christ sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify His Church, to enlighten and

strengthen the Apostles, and to enable them to preach the Gospel.

 

"Sanctify," to make more holy by the grace which He would give to the

members of the Church. "To enlighten." The Apostles did not understand

very well everything Our Lord taught while He was with them; but after

the Holy Ghost came upon them they understood perfectly, and remembered

many things which Our Lord said to them, and understood the true meaning

of all. The prophets foretold that when the Messias, Christ, would come,

He would bring all the world under His power. The prophets meant in a

spiritual sense; but most of the people understood that He was to be a

great general, with powerful armies, who would subdue all the nations of

the earth, and bring them under the authority of the Jews. We know they

thought that the great kingdom He was to establish upon earth would be a

temporal kingdom, from many of their sayings and actions. One day the

mother of two of Our Lord's Apostles came to ask Him if, when He had

established His kingdom upon the earth, He would give her sons honorable

positions in it, and place them high in authority. (Matt. 20:20). Our

Lord told her she did not understand what she was asking. This shows

that even some of the Apostles--much less the people--did not understand

the full nature of Our Lord's mission upon earth, nor of His kingdom,

the Church. Often too, when He preached to the people, the Apostles

asked Him on His return what His sermon meant (Luke 8:9). But after the

Holy Ghost came, they were enlightened, and understood all without

difficulty. "Strengthen." I told you already that before the Holy Ghost

came they were timid and afraid of being arrested, but that afterwards

they went out boldly, and taught all they had learned from Our Lord.

They were often taken prisoners and scourged, but it mattered not--they

were firm in their faith, and could suffer anything for Christ after

they had been enlightened and strengthened by the Holy Ghost. Finally,

they were all, with the exception of St. John, put to death for their

holy faith. St. Peter and St. Paul were crucified at Rome about the year

65, that is, about thirty-two years after the death of Our Lord. St.

James was beheaded by order of King Herod. St. John lived the longest,

and was the only one of the Apostles who was not put to death, though he

was cast into a large vessel of boiling oil, but was miraculously saved.

 

Certainly by dying for their faith the Apostles showed that they were

not impostors or hypocrites. They must really have believed what they

taught, otherwise they would not have laid down their lives for it. They

were certain of what they taught, as we saw when speaking of St. Thomas.

 

*101 Q. Will the Holy Ghost abide with the Church forever?

A. The Holy Ghost will abide with the Church forever, and guide it in

the way of holiness and truth.

 

"Abide" means to stay with us.

 

 

 

Lesson 10

ON THE EFFECTS OF THE REDEMPTION

 

102 Q. Which are the chief effects of the redemption?

A. The chief effects of the redemption are two: the satisfaction of

God's justice by Christ's sufferings and death, and the gaining of grace

for men.

 

An effect is that which is caused by something else. If you place a

danger signal on a broken railroad track the effect will be preventing

the wreck of the train, and the cause will be your placing the signal.

Many effects may flow from one cause. In our example, see all the good

effects that may follow your placing the signal--the cars are not

broken, the passengers are not killed, the rails are not torn out of

their places, etc. Thus the redemption had two effects, namely, to

satisfy God for the offense offered Him by the sins of men, and to merit

grace to be used for our benefit.

 

103 Q. What do you mean by grace?

A. By grace I mean a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us, through

the merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation.

 

"Supernatural," that is, above nature. "A gift"; something, therefore,

that God does not owe us. He owes us nothing, strictly speaking. Health,

talents, and such things are natural gifts, and belong to our nature as

men; but grace is something above our nature, given to our soul. God

gives it to us on account of the love He has for His Son, Our Lord, who

merited it for us by dying for us. "Merits." A merit is some excellence

or goodness which entitles one to honor or reward. Grace is a help we

get to do something that will be pleasing to God. When there is anything

in our daily works that we cannot do alone, we naturally look for help;

for example, to lift some heavy weight is only a natural act, not a

supernatural act, and the help we need for it is only natural help. But

if we are going to do something above and beyond our nature, and cannot

do it alone, we must not look for natural, but for supernatural help;

that is, the help must always be like the work to be done. Therefore all

spiritual works need spiritual help, and spiritual help is grace.

 

104 Q. How many kinds of grace are there?

A. There are two kinds of grace: sanctifying grace and actual grace.

 

105 Q. What is sanctifying grace?

A. Sanctifying grace is that grace which makes the soul holy and

pleasing to God.

 

"Sanctifying," that is, making us holy by cleansing, purifying our

souls. Sin renders the soul ugly and displeasing to God, and grace

purifies it. Suppose I have something bright and beautiful given to me,

and take no care of it, but let it lie around in dusty places until it

becomes tarnished and soiled, loses all its beauty, and appears black

and ugly. To restore its beauty I must clean and polish it. Thus the

soul blackened by sin must be cleaned by God's grace. If the soul is in

mortal sin--altogether blackened--then sanctifying grace brings back its

brightness and makes it pleasing to God; but if the soul is already

bright, though stained or darkened a little by venial sin, then grace

makes it still brighter.

 

*106 Q. What do you call those graces or gifts of God by which we

believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him?

A. Those graces or gifts of God by which we believe in Him, and hope in

Him, and love Him, are called the divine virtues of faith, hope, and

charity.

 

"Virtues." Virtue is the habit of doing good. The opposite to virtue is

vice, which is the habit of doing evil. We acquire a habit bad or good

when we do the same thing very frequently. We then do it easily and

almost without thinking; as a man, for instance, who has the habit of

cursing curses almost without knowing it, though that does not excuse

him, but makes his case worse, by showing that he must have cursed very

often to acquire the habit. If, however, he is striving to overcome the

bad habit, and should unintentionally curse now and then, it would not

be a sin, since he did not wish to curse, and was trying to overcome the

vice. One act does not make a virtue or a vice. A person who gives alms

only once cannot be said to have the virtue of charity. A man who curses

only once a year cannot be said to have the vice of cursing. Faith,

hope, and charity are infused by God into our souls, and are therefore

called infused virtues, to distinguish them from the virtues we acquire.

 

107 Q. What is faith?

A. Faith is a divine virtue by which we firmly believe the truths which

God has revealed.

 

"A divine virtue" is one that is heavenly or holy. Faith is the habit of

always believing all that God has revealed and the Church teaches.

"Firmly," that is, without the slightest doubt. "Revealed," that is,

made known to us. Revelation is the collection of all the truths that

God has made known to us. But why do we believe? Because we clearly see

and know the truth of what is revealed? No, but because God reveals it;

we believe it though we cannot see it or even understand it. If we see

it plainly, then we believe it rather because we see it than because God

makes it known to us. Suppose a friend should come and tell you the

church is on fire. If he never told you lies, and had no reason for

telling you any now, you would believe him--not because you know of the

fire, but because he tells you; but afterwards, when you see the church

or read of the fire in the papers, you have proof of what he told you,

but you believed it just as firmly when he told you as you do

afterwards. In the same way God tells us His great truths and we believe

them; because we know that since God is infinitely true He cannot

deceive us or be deceived. But if afterwards by studying and thinking we

find proof that God told us the truth, we do not believe with any

greater faith, for we always believed without doubting, and we study

chiefly that we may have arguments to prove the truth of God's

revelations to others who do not believe. Suppose some person was

present when your friend came and said the church is burning, and that

that person would not believe your friend. What would you do? Why,

convince him that what your friend said was true by showing him the

account of the fire in the papers. Thus learning does not change our

faith, which, as I have said, is not acquired by study, but is infused

into our souls by God. The little boy who hears what God taught, and

believes it firmly because God taught it, has as good a faith as his

teacher who has studied all the reasons why he should believe.

 

108 Q. What is hope?

A. Hope is a divine virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give

us eternal life and the means to obtain it.

 

"Eternal"--that is, everlastings life--life without end. "Means"--that

is, His grace, because without God's grace we cannot do any supernatural

thing.

 

109 Q. What is charity?

A. Charity is a divine virtue by which we love God above all things for

His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

 

The virtue of charity makes us "love God," because He is so good and

beautiful, wise and powerful in Himself; therefore for His own sake and

without any other consideration. "Above all things," in such a way that

we would rather lose anything than offend Him. But someone may say, he

thinks he loves his parents more than God. Well, let us see. To repeat

an example already given, suppose his parents told him to steal, and he

knew stealing to be a sin; if he would not steal, that would show, would

it not, that he loved God more than his parents, for he would rather

offend his parents than God. That is the kind of love we must have for

God; not mere feeling, but the firm belief that God is the best of all,

and when we have to choose between offending God and losing something,

be it goods or friends, we would rather lose anything than offend God.

 

"Neighbor." Not merely the person living near us, but all men of every

kind and nation--even our enemies. The people who lived at the time of

Our Lord in His country used to dispute about just what persons were to

be considered their neighbors; so one day they asked Our Lord, and He

answered them by telling them the following. Said He: (Luke 10:30) A man

was once going down from Jerusalem, and on the way robbers beat him,

robbed him, and left him on the wayside dying. First one man came by,

looked at the wounded man, and passed on; then another came and did the

same; finally a third man came, who was of a different religion and

nationality from the wounded man. But he did not consider these things.

He dressed the poor man's wounds, placed him upon his horse and brought

him to an inn or hotel, and paid the innkeeper to take care of him.

"Now," said Our Lord, "which of these three was neighbor to the wounded

man?" And they answered rightly, "The man that helped him." Our Lord, by

this example, wished to teach them and us that everybody is our neighbor

who is in distress of any kind and needs our help. Neighbor, therefore,

means every human being, no matter where he lives or what his color,

learning, manners, etc., for every human being in the world is a child

of God and has been redeemed by Our Lord. Therefore every child of God

is my neighbor, and even more--he is my brother; for God is his father

and mine also, and if he is good enough for God to love, he should be

good enough for me.

 

"As ourselves." Not with as much love, but with the same kind of love;

that is, we are to follow the rule laid down by Our Lord: "Do unto

others as you would have others do unto you." Never do to anyone what

you would not like to have done to yourself; and always do for another

just what you would wish another to do for you, if you were in the same

position. Our neighbor is our equal and gifted with all the gifts that

we ourselves have. When we come into the world we are all equal. We have

a body and a soul, with the power to develop them. Money, learning,

wealth, fame, and all else that makes up the difference between men in

the world are acquired in the world; and when men die, they go out of

the world without any of these things, just as they came into it. The

real difference between them in the next world will depend upon the

things they have done, good or bad, while here. We should love our

neighbor also on another account: namely, that he is one day to be in

Heaven with us; and if he is to be with us for all eternity, why should

we hate him now? On the other hand, if our neighbor is to be in Hell on

account of his bad life, why should we hate him? We should rather pity

him, for he will have enough to suffer without our hatred.

 

110 Q. What is actual grace?

A. Actual grace is that help of God which enlightens our mind and moves

our will to shun evil and do good.

 

"Actual." Sanctifying grace continues with us, but when grace is given

just so that we may do a good act or avoid a bad one, it is called

actual grace. Suppose, for example, I see a poor man and am able to aid

him. When my conscience tells me to give him assistance, I am just then

receiving an actual grace, which moves me and helps me to do that good

act; and just as soon as I give the help, the actual grace ceases,

because no longer needed. It was given for that one good act, and now

that the act is done, the actual grace has produced its effect. Again, a

boy is going to Mass on Sunday and meets other boys who try to persuade

him to remain away from Mass and go to some other place. When he hears

his conscience telling him to go to Mass by all means, he is receiving

just then an actual grace to avoid the mortal sin of missing Mass, and

the grace lasts just as long as the temptation. Sacramental grace is

sanctifying grace--given in the Sacraments--which contains for us a

right to actual graces when we need them. These actual graces are given

to help us to fulfill the end for which each of the Sacraments was

instituted. They are different for each Sacrament, and are given just

when we need them; that is, just when we are tempted against the object

or end for which the Sacrament was instituted.

 

*111 Q. Is grace necessary for salvation?

A. Grace is necessary for salvation, because without grace we can do

nothing to merit Heaven.

 

*112 Q. Can we resist the grace of God?

A. We can and unfortunately often do resist the grace of God.

 

Grace is a gift, and no one is obliged to take a gift; but if God offers

a gift and we refuse to take it, we offend and insult Him. To insult God

is to sin. Therefore to refuse to accept, or to make bad use of the

grace God gives us, is to sin.

 

*113 Q. What is the grace of perseverance?

A. The grace of perseverance is a particular gift of God which enables

us to continue in the state of grace till death.

 

"Perseverance" here does not mean perseverance in our undertakings, but

perseverance in grace--never in mortal sin, always a friend of God. Now,

if God keeps us from all sin till the day of our death and takes us

while we are His friends, then He gives us what we call the gift of

final perseverance. We cannot, strictly speaking, merit this great

grace, but only pray for it; so anyone who commits mortal sin may be

taken just in that state and be lost for all eternity.

 

 

 

Lesson 11

ON THE CHURCH

 

Before speaking of the Church I wish to give you a short account of the

true religion before the coming of Our Lord. When Adam was created in a

state of grace, God communicated with him freely; he knew God even

better than we do now. But after their sin our parents fell from the

friendship of God. Cain--one of Adam's sons--murdered his brother Abel,

and for this he and his posterity were cursed by God, and all his

descendants became very wicked. (Gen. 4:11). The other children of Adam

remained faithful to God as long as they kept away from the children of

Cain; but just as soon as they associated and intermarried with them,

they also became wicked. This should teach us to avoid evil company, for

there is always more likelihood that the good will become bad than that

the bad will be converted by the good. You know the old saying, that if

you take a basket of good apples and place a bad one among them, in a

short time they will be spoiled.

 

After the deluge Noe and his family settled once more upon the land, and

for a time their descendants remained faithful to God; but later they

became wicked and undertook to build a great tower (Gen. 11), which they

thought would reach up to Heaven. They believed, perhaps, that if ever

there should be another deluge upon the earth, they could take refuge in

the tower. But God was displeased with their conduct and prevented them

from completing the tower by confusing their tongues or language so that

they could not understand one another. Then those who spoke the same

language went to live in the same part of the country, and thus the

human race was scattered over the earth, and the different nations had

different languages.

 

After a time they were all losing the knowledge of the true God and

beginning to worship idols. God did not wish that the whole human race

should forget Him, so He selected Abraham to be the father and head of

one chosen people who should always worship the true God. He sent

Abraham from his own country into another, and promised him great

things, and renewed to him the promises of the Redeemer first made to

Adam and Eve. After the death of Abraham, God raised up, from time to

time, prophets to tell the people His holy will, to warn them of their

sins and the punishment they would receive, and to remind them of the

promised Messias. Prophets are men that God inspires to tell the future.

They tell what will happen often hundreds of years after their own

death. They do not guess at these things, but tell them with certainty.

At times, statesmen can foresee that there will be a war in a country at

a certain time; but they are not prophets, because they only guess at

such things, or know them by natural signs; and very often things thus

foretold do not occur. True prophecy is the foretelling of something

which could not be known by any means but inspiration from God.

 

Neither are persons who call themselves fortune-tellers prophets, but

only sinful people, who for money tell lies or guess at the future. It

is a great sin to go to them or listen to them, as we shall see later in

another question.

 

At the time promised, God sent His Son--Our Lord--to redeem the world

and save all men. He came to save all men, and yet He remained upon

earth only thirty-three years. We can easily understand that by His

death He could save all those who lived before He did; but how were they

to be saved who should live after Him, down to the end of the world? How

was His grace to be given to them? How were they to know of Him, or of

what He taught? All this was to be accomplished by His Church.

 

114 Q. Which are the means instituted by Our Lord to enable men at all

times to share in the fruits of the Redemption?

A. The means instituted by Our Lord to enable men at all times to share

in the fruits of the Redemption are the Church and the Sacraments.

 

Our Lord instituted the Church to carry on the work He Himself was doing

upon the earth--teaching the ignorant, visiting the sick, helping the

poor, forgiving sins, etc. He commanded all men to hear the Church

teaching, just as they would hear Himself. But suppose some persons

should establish a false Church and claim that it was the true Church of

Our Lord, how could people know the true Church from false churches?

When a man invents anything to be sold, what does he do that people may

know the true article--say a pen? Why, he puts his trademark upon it.

Now the trademark is a certain sign which shows that the article bearing

it is the genuine article; and if others use the trademark on imitation

articles, they are liable to be punished by law. Now Our Lord did the

same. He gave His Church four marks or characteristics to distinguish it

from all false churches. He said, "My Church will be one; it will be

holy; it will be catholic; it will be apostolic; and if any church has

not these four marks, you may be sure it is not My Church." Some false

church may seem to have one or two, but never all the marks; so when you

find even one of the marks wanting, you will know it is not the true

Church established by Christ. Therefore, all the religions that claim to

be the true religion cannot be so. If one man says a thing is white and

another says it is black, or if one says a thing is true and another

says it is false, they cannot both be right. Only one can be right, and

if we wish to know the truth we have to find out which one it is. So

when one religion says a thing is true and another religion says the

same thing is false, one of them must be wrong, and it is our duty to

find out the one that is right. Therefore, of all the religions claiming

to be the true religion of Our Lord, only one can be telling the truth,

and that one is the religion or Church that can show the four given

marks. The Roman Catholic Church is the only one that can show these

marks, and is, therefore, the only true Church, as we shall see in the

next lesson.

 

"Fruits of His redemption"--that is, to receive the grace merited by Our

Lord when He redeemed us by His death.

 

115 Q. What is the Church?

A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of

Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful

pastors under one visible head.

 

"Congregation." Not the building, therefore; because if Mass was offered

up in an open field, with the people kneeling about, it would still be

the church of that place. The buildings that we use for churches might

have been used for anything else--a public hall, theater, or school, for

example; but when these buildings we call churches are blessed or

consecrated, they become holy. They are holy also because the Gospel is

preached in them, the Sacraments are administered in them, and the Holy

Sacrifice of the Mass is offered in them. But they are holy especially

because Our Lord dwells in them in the tabernacle, where He lives and

sees and hears just as truly as He did when He was man upon earth.

 

In the early ages the Christians had no churches--they met secretly in

private houses. Later, when the cruel pagan emperors began to persecute

and put to death the Christians, they made large tunnels under ground

and in these places they heard Mass and received the Sacraments. These

underground churches were called the catacombs, and some of them may

still be seen at Rome. In these catacombs, too, the Christians buried

their dead, especially the bodies of the holy martyrs. On their

tombs--generally of stone--Mass was celebrated.

 

In every altar the table, or flat part on which the priest celebrates

Mass, should be of stone; but if the altar is made of wood, then at

least the part just in front of the tabernacle must be of stone and

large enough to hold say two chalices--that is, about ten or twelve

inches square. In this stone are placed some relics of the holy martyrs.

A piece is cut out of the stone and the relic placed in the opening.

Then the bishop puts the little piece of stone back into its place over

the relic, seals the opening, blesses the stone, and gives it to the

Church. This is called the altar stone. You cannot see it because it is

covered with the altar cloth; but unless it is in the altar the priest

cannot say Mass. This stone reminds us of the stone tombs of the saints

upon which Mass was celebrated.

 

The Church--that is, the Christians--was persecuted for about three

hundred years after the death of Our Lord. These persecutions took place

at ten different times and under ten different Roman emperors. Orders

were given to put to death all the Christians wherever they could be

found. Some were cast into prison, some exiled, some taken to the Roman

Coliseum--an immense building constructed for public amusements--where

they were put to death in the most terrible manner in the presence of

the emperor and people assembled to witness these fearful scenes. Some

were stripped of their clothing and left standing alone while savage

beasts, wild with hunger, were let loose upon them. Sometimes by a

miracle of God the animals would not harm them, and then the Christians

were either put to death by the sword, mangled by some terrible machine,

or burned. In these dreadful sufferings the Christians remained faithful

and firm, though they could have saved their lives by denying Our Lord

or offering sacrifice to idols. The few who through fear did deny their

faith are now forgotten and unknown; while those who remained steadfast

are honored as saints in Heaven and upon earth; the Church sings their

praises and tells every year of their holy lives and triumph over all

their enemies.

 

Even some pagans who came to see the Christians put to death were so

touched by their patience, fortitude, courage, and constancy, that they

also declared themselves anxious to become Christians, and were put to

death, thus becoming martyrs baptized in their own blood. How many

lessons we may learn from all this: (1) How very respectful we should be

in the Church, which is holy for all the reasons I have given. (2) What

a shame it is for us not to hear Mass when we can do so easily. Our

churches are never very far from us, and generally well lighted,

ventilated, furnished with seats and every convenience, and in these

respects unlike the dark, damp, underground churches of the early

Christians. Moreover, we may attend our churches freely and without the

least danger to our lives; while the Christians of the early ages were

constantly in dread and danger of being seized and put to death. Even at

the present day, in many countries where holy missionaries are trying to

teach the true religion, their converts sometimes have to go great

distances to hear Mass, and even then it is not celebrated in

comfortable churches, but probably on the slope of a rugged mountain or

in some lonely valley or wood where they may not be seen, for they fear

if they are captured--as often happens--both they and their priest will

be put to death. You can read in the account of foreign missions that

almost every year some priests and many people are martyred for their

faith. Is it not disgraceful, then, to see some Catholics giving up

their holy faith and the practice of their religion so easily--sometimes

for a little money, property, or gain; or even for a bad habit, or for

irreligious companions and friends? What answer will they make on the

day of judgment when they stand side by side with those who died for the

faith?

 

"All those who profess the faith," etc. The Pope, bishops, priests, and

people all taken together are the Church, and each congregation or

parish is only a part of the Church.

 

"Partake"--that is, receive. "Lawful pastors"--that is, each priest in

his own parish, each bishop in his own diocese, and the Pope throughout

the world. "Visible head"--that is, one who can be seen, for invisible

means cannot be seen.

 

116 Q. Who is the invisible head of the Church?

A. Jesus Christ is the invisible head of the Church.

 

"Invisible head." If, for example, a merchant of one country wishes to

establish a branch of his business in another, he remains in the new

country long enough to establish the branch business, and then

appointing someone to take his place, returns to his own country. He is

still the head of the new establishment, but its invisible head for the

people of that country, while its visible head is the agent or

representative he has placed in charge to carry on the business in his

name and interest. When Our Lord wished to establish His Church He came

from Heaven; and when about to return to Heaven appointed St. Peter to

take His place upon earth and rule the Church as directed. You see,

therefore, that Our Lord, though not on earth, is still the real head

and owner of the Church, and whatever His agent or vicar--that is, our

Holy Father, the Pope--does in the Church, he does it with the authority

of Our Lord Himself.

 

117 Q. Who is the visible head of the Church?

A. Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the vicar of Christ

on earth and the visible head of the Church.

 

The "Bishop of Rome" is always Pope. If the Bishop of New York, or of

Baltimore, or of Boston, became Pope, he would become the Bishop of Rome

and cease to be the Bishop of New York, Baltimore, or Boston, because

St. Peter, the first Pope, was Bishop of Rome; and therefore only the

bishops of Rome are his lawful successors--the true Popes--the true

visible heads of the Church. The bishops of the other dioceses of the

world are the lawful successors of the other Apostles who taught and

established churches throughout the world. The bishops of the world are

subject to the Pope, just as the other Apostles were subject to St.

Peter, who was appointed their chief, by Our Lord Himself.

 

"Vicar"--that is, one who holds another's place and acts in his name.

 

*118 Q. Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible head of the

Church?

A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible head of the Church

because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of

the Apostles and the visible head of the Church.

 

"Of Rome." That is why we are called Roman Catholics; to show that we

are united to the real successor of St. Peter, and are therefore members

of the true apostolic Church.

 

*119 Q. Who are the successors of the other Apostles?

A. The successors of the other Apostles are the bishops of the holy

Catholic Church.

 

We know the Apostles were bishops, because they could make laws for the

Church, consecrate other bishops, ordain priests, and give

Confirmation--powers that belong only to bishops, and are still

exercised by them.

 

*120 Q. Why did Christ found the Church?

A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all

men.

 

"Teach" religion. "Govern" in things that regard salvation. "Sanctify,"

make good. "Save" all who wish to be saved.

 

*121 Q. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to

be the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.

 

Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will

not embrace it cannot enter into Heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts

whether the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must

settle his doubt, seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he

continues to live in doubt, he becomes like the one who knows the true

Church and is deterred by worldly considerations from entering it.

 

In like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he

professes lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the

truth of the Catholic faith, cannot be saved.

 

Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that

the church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has

never--even in the past--had the slightest doubt of that fact--what will

become of him?

 

If he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be

saved; because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was

doing all he could to serve God according to his knowledge and the

dictates of his conscience. But if ever he committed a mortal sin, his

salvation would be very much more difficult. A mortal sin once committed

remains on the soul till it is forgiven. Now, how could his mortal sin

be forgiven? Not in the Sacrament of Penance, for the Protestant does

not go to confession; and if he does, his minister--not being a true

priest--has no power to forgive sins. Does he know that without

confession it requires an act of perfect contrition to blot out mortal

sin, and can he easily make such an act? What we call contrition is

often only imperfect contrition--that is, sorrow for our sins because we

fear their punishment in Hell or dread the loss of Heaven. If a

Catholic--with all the instruction he has received about how to make an

act of perfect contrition and all the practice he has had in making such

acts--might find it difficult to make an act of perfect contrition after

having committed a mortal sin, how much difficulty will not a Protestant

have in making an act of perfect contrition, who does not know about

this requirement and who has not been taught to make continued acts of

perfect contrition all his life. It is to be feared either he would not

know of this necessary means of regaining God's friendship, or he would

be unable to elicit the necessary act of perfect contrition, and thus

the mortal sin would remain upon his soul and he would die an enemy of

God.

 

If, then, we found a Protestant who never committed a mortal sin after

Baptism, and who never had the slightest doubt about the truth of his

religion, that person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a

member of the Church, and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of

God and could not in justice be condemned to Hell. Such a person would

attend Mass and receive the Sacraments if he knew the Catholic Church to

be the only true Church.

 

I am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the

case of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects. All

infants rightly baptized by anyone are really children of the Church, no

matter what religion their parents may profess. Indeed, all persons who

are baptized are children of the Church; but those among them who deny

its teaching, reject its Sacraments, and refuse to submit to its lawful

pastors, are rebellious children known as heretics.

 

I said I gave you an example that can scarcely be found, namely, of a

person not a Catholic, who really never doubted the truth of his

religion, and who, moreover, never committed during his whole life a

mortal sin. There are so few such persons that we can practically say

for all those who are not visibly members of the Catholic Church,

believing its doctrines, receiving its Sacraments, and being governed by

its visible head, our Holy Father, the Pope, salvation is an extremely

difficult matter.

 

I do not speak here of pagans who have never heard of Our Lord or His

holy religion, but of those outside the Church who claim to be good

Christians without being members of the Catholic Church.

 

 

 

Lesson 12

ON THE ATTRIBUTES AND MARKS OF THE CHURCH

 

An attribute is any characteristic or quality that a person or thing may

be said to have. All good qualities are good attributes, and all bad

qualities are bad attributes. All perfections or imperfections are

attributes. If I can say of you that you are good, then goodness is one

of your attributes. If I can say you are beautiful, then beauty is one

of your attributes. We have seen already that the Church has four marks;

but besides these it has three attributes, which flow from its marks. It

is easier to see the marks of the Church than its attributes. It is

easier to see, for instance, that the Church is one than that it is

indefectible.

 

*122 Q. Which are the attributes of the Church?

A. The attributes of the Church are three: authority, infallibility, and

indefectibility.

 

*123 Q. What do you mean by the authority of the Church?

A. By the authority of the Church I mean the right and power which the

Pope and the bishops, as the successors of the Apostles, have to teach

and govern the faithful.

 

Authority is the power which one person has over another, so as to be

able to exact obedience. A teacher has authority over his scholars,

because they must obey him; but the teacher need not obey the scholars,

because they have no authority over him. God alone has authority of

Himself and from Himself All others who have authority receive it from

God, either directly or through someone else. The Pope has authority

from God Himself, and the priests get theirs through their bishops.

Therefore, to resist or disobey lawful authority is to resist and

disobey God Himself. If one of you were placed in charge of the class in

my absence, he would have lawful authority, and the rest of you should

obey him--not on account of himself, but on account of the authority he

has. Thus the President of the United States, the governor, the mayor,

etc., are only ordinary citizens before their election; but after they

have been elected and placed in office they exercise lawful authority

over us, and we are bound as good citizens and as good Catholics to

respect and obey them.

 

*124 Q. What do you mean by the infallibility of the Church?

A. By the infallibility of the Church I mean that the Church cannot err

when it teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.

 

"Infallibility." When we say Church is infallible, we mean that it

cannot make a mistake or err in what it teaches; that the Pope, the head

of the Church, is infallible when he teaches ex cathedra--that is, as

the successor of St. Peter, the vicar of Christ. Cathedra signifies a

seat, ex stands for "out of"; therefore, ex cathedra means out of the

chair or office of St. Peter, because chair is sometimes used for

office. Thus we say the presidential chair is opposed to this or that,

when we intend to say the president, or the one in that office, is

opposed to it. The cathedral is the church in which the bishop usually

officiates, so called on account of the bishop's cathedra, or throne,

being in it.

 

*125 Q. When does the Church teach infallibly?

A. The Church teaches infallibly when it speaks through the Pope and

bishops united in general council, or through the Pope alone when he

proclaims to all the faithful a doctrine of faith or morals.

 

But how will we know when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, when he is

speaking daily to people from all parts of the world? To speak ex

cathedra or infallibly, three things are required:

 

(1) He must speak as the head of the whole Church, not as a private

person; and in certain forms of words by which we know he is speaking ex

cathedra.

 

(2) What he says must hold good for the whole Church--that is, for all

the faithful, and not merely for this or that particular person or

country.

 

(3) He must speak on matters of faith or morals--that is, when the Holy

Father tells all the faithful that they are to believe a certain thing

as a part of their faith; or when he tells them that certain things are

sins, they must believe him and avoid what he declares to be sin. He

could not make a mistake in such things. He could not say that Our Lord

taught us to believe and do such and such, if Our Lord did not so teach,

because Our Lord promised to be with His Church for all time, and to

send the Holy Ghost, who would teach it all truth and abide with it

forever. If then the Church could make mistakes in teaching faith and

morals, the Holy Ghost could not be with it, and Our Lord did not tell

the truth--to say which would be blasphemy. But remember, the Pope is

not infallible unless he is teaching faith or morals; that is, what we

believe or do in order to save our souls. If the Holy Father wrote a

book on astronomy, mathematics, grammar, or even theology, he could make

mistakes as other men do, because the Holy Ghost has not promised to

guide him in such things. Nevertheless, whatever the Pope teaches on

anything you may be pretty sure is right. The Pope is nearly always a

very learned man of many years' experience. He has with him at Rome

learned men from every part of the world, so that we may say he has the

experience of the whole world. Other rulers cannot and need not know as

much as the Holy Father, because they have not to govern the world, but

only their own country. Moreover, there is no government in the whole

world as old as the Church, no nation that can show as many rulers

without change; so we may say the Pope has also the experience of all

the Popes who preceded him, from St. Peter down to our present Holy

Father, Pius XI--two hundred and sixty-one popes. Therefore, considering

all this, we should have the very greatest respect for the opinions and

advice of the Holy Father on any subject. We should not set up our

limited knowledge and experience against his, even if we think that we

know better than he does about certain political events taking place in

our country, for we are not sure that we do. The Holy Father knows the

past history of nations; he knows the nature of mankind; he knows that

what takes place in one nation may, and sometimes does, take place in

another under the same circumstances. Thus the Holy Father has greater

foresight than we have, and we should be thankful when he warns us

against certain dangers in politics or other things. He does not teach

politics; but as everything we do is either good or bad, every statesman

or politician must consider whether what he is about to do be right or

wrong, just or unjust. It is the business and duty of the Holy Father to

declare against the evil or unjust actions of either individuals or

nations, and for that reason he seems at times to interfere in politics

when he is really teaching morals. At times, too, governments try to

deprive the Church or the Holy Father of their rights; and when he

defends himself against such injustice and protests against it, his

enemies cry out that he is interfering with the government.

 

You understand now what the infallibility of the Pope implies, and that

it does not mean, as the enemies of the Church say, that the Pope cannot

sin, cannot be mistaken in anything. The Pope can sin just the same as

anyone else; he could be a very bad man if he wanted to be so, and take

the punishment God would inflict for his sins. Could he not be very

angry, entirely neglect prayer, or pray with willful distraction; could

he not be proud, covetous, etc.? And these are sins. Therefore he could

sin; and hence he has to go to confession and seek forgiveness just as

we do. Therefore remember this: whether the Pope be a bad man or a good

man in his private life, he must always tell the truth when he speaks ex

cathedra, because the Holy Ghost is guiding him and will not permit him

to err or teach falsehood in faith or morals.

 

We have examples in the Bible (Numbers 22, 23) where God sometimes makes

even bad men foretell the truth. Once He gave an ass the power to speak,

that it might protest against the wrongdoing of its wicked and cruel

rider.

 

We have seen how governments interfere with the rights of the Holy

Father, and thus he has need of his temporal power that he may be

altogether independent of any government. Now let me explain to you what

is meant by the Temporal Power of the Pope. Well, then, the Holy Father

should have some city or states, not belonging to any government, in

which he would be the chief and only ruler. Up to the year 1870 the Holy

Father did have such states: they were called the Papal States, and the

power he had over them--just like that of any other ruler--was called

the temporal power. Now how did he get those states and how did he lose

them? He got them in the most just manner, and held possession of them

for about a thousand years.

 

Hundreds of years ago the people of Rome and the surrounding countries

elected the Pope their sole ruler. He was already their spiritual ruler,

and they made him also their temporal ruler. Then the Pope protected and

governed them as other rulers do. Later, kings and princes added other

lands, and thus by degrees the possessions of the Pope became quite

extended.

 

How did he lose these possessions? The Italian government took them from

him in the most unjust manner. Besides the lands, they deprived the

Church of other property donated to it by its faithful children. No

ruler in the world had a more just claim or better right to his

possessions than the Holy Father, and a government robbed him of them as

a thief might take forcibly from you whatever had been justly given to

you, when he found you were unable to defend yourself against him.

 

But has the Holy Father need of his temporal power? Yes, the Holy Father

has need of some temporal power. He must be free and independent in

governing the Church. He must be free to say what he wishes to all

Catholics throughout the world, and free to hear whatever they have to

say to him. But if the Pope is under another ruler he cannot be free.

That ruler may cast him into prison, and not allow him to communicate

with the bishops of the world. At least, he can say nothing about the

injustice of the ruler who is over him. Therefore the Pope must have

some possessions of his own, that he may not be afraid of the injustice

of any ruler, and may speak out the truth boldly to the whole world,

denouncing bad rulers and praising good ones as they deserve.

 

Mind, I do not say what possessions the Holy Father should have but

simply that he should have some, in which he would be altogether

independent. In justice he should have all that was taken from him. We

have a good example here in the United States to illustrate the need of

the independence of the Pope. You know every State in the United States

is a little government in itself, with its own governor, legislature,

laws, etc. Now over all these little governments or States we have the

government of the United States, with the President at its head. In the

beginning the members of the United States Government assembled to

transact the business of the nation sometimes in one State and sometimes

in another--sometimes in New York and sometimes in Pennsylvania, etc.

But they soon found that in order to be independent of every State and

just to all, they must have some territory or possessions of their own

not under the power of any State. So some of the States granted them

Washington and the country about it for ten miles square--now called the

District of Columbia--which the United States government could freely

perform its duties. In a similar manner the Holy Father is over all the

governments of the world in matters of religion--in matters of justice

and right; and just as the United States government has to decide

between the rights of one State and the rights of another, so the Holy

Father has sometimes to decide between the rights of one government and

the rights of another, and must, in order to be just with all, be free

and independent of all.

 

Again, the temporal power of the Pope is very useful to the Church; for

with the money and goods received from his possessions the Holy Father

can educate priests and teachers, print books, etc., for the foreign

missions. He can also support churches, school, and institutions in poor

countries, and especially where the missionaries are laboring for the

conversion of the native heathens.

 

When the Holy Father had his own possessions he could do much that he

cannot now do for the conversion of pagan nations. At present he must

depend entirely upon the charitable offerings of the faithful for all

good works, even for his own support. The offering we make once a year

for the support of the Holy Father is called "Peter's pence," because it

began by everyone sending yearly a penny to the Pope, the successor of

St. Peter.

 

*126 Q. What do you mean by the indefectibility of the Church?

A. By the indefectibility of the Church I mean that the Church, as

Christ founded it, will last till the end of time.

 

Therefore indefectibility means that the Church can never change any of

the doctrines that Our Lord taught, nor ever cease to exist. When we say

it is infallible, we mean that it cannot teach error while it lasts; but

when we say it is indefectible, we mean that it will last forever and be

infallible forever, and also that it will always remain the same as Our

Lord founded it. There are two things that you must clearly understand

and not confound, namely, the two kinds of laws in the Church--those

which Our Lord gave it and those which it made itself. The laws that Our

Lord gave it can never change. For example, the Church could not abolish

one of the Sacraments, leaving only six; neither could it add a new one,

making eight. But when, for example, the Church declares that on a

certain day we cannot eat flesh meat, it makes the law itself, and can

change it when it wishes. Our Lord left His Church free to make certain

laws, just as they would be needed. It has always exercised this power,

and made laws to suit the circumstances of the place or times. Even now

it does away with some of its old laws that are no longer useful, and

makes new ones that are more necessary. But the doctrines, the truths of

faith or morals, the things we must believe and do to save our souls, it

never changes and never can change: it may regulate some things in the

application of the divine laws, but the laws themselves can never change

in substance.

 

*127 Q. In whom are these attributes found in their fullness?

A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible

head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops,

priests, and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end

of the world.

 

128 Q. Has the Church any marks by which it may be known?

A. The Church has four marks by which it may be known: it is one; it is

holy; it is catholic; it is apostolic.

 

*129 Q. How is the Church one?

A. The Church is one because all its members agree in one faith, are all

in one communion, and are all under one head.

 

The Catholic Church is "one," first in government and second in

doctrine. In government every pastor has a certain parish or territory

in which all the people belong to his congregation--they form his flock.

He has to take care only of these, to teach them, give them the

Sacraments, etc. He has not to be responsible for those outside his

parish. Then over the pastor we have the bishop, who looks after a

certain number of pastors; then comes the archbishop over a certain

number of bishops; next comes the primate, who is head of all the

archbishops in the country; and over all the primates of the world we

have the Holy Father. Thus, when the Holy Father speaks to the bishops,

the bishops speak to the priests, and the priests to the people. The

Church is therefore one in government, like a great army spread over the

world. We can go up step by step from the lowest member of the Church to

the highest--the Holy Father; and from him to Our Lord Himself, who is

the invisible head of all. This regular body of priests, bishops,

archbishops, etc., so arranged, one superior to the other, is called the

hierarchy of the Church.

 

The Church is one also in doctrine--that is, every one of the three

hundred million of Catholics in the world believes exactly the same

truths. If any Catholic denies only one article of faith, though he

believes all the rest, he ceases to be a Catholic, and is cut off from

the Church. If, for example, you would not believe Matrimony or Holy

Orders a Sacrament, or that Our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist,

you would not be a Catholic, though you believed all the other teachings

of the Church.

 

Therefore the Church is one both in government and teaching or doctrine.

Now, has any other Church claiming to be Christ's Church that mark? No.

The Protestant religions are not one either in government or belief. The

Protestants of England have no authority over the Protestants of

America, and those of America have nothing to say over those of Germany

or France. So every country is independent, and they have no chief head.

Neither are they one in belief. In the same country there are many kinds

of Protestants--Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., who do

not believe the same thing. Even those who attend the same church and

profess the same religion do not all believe the same. Everyone, they

say, has a right to interpret the Holy Scriptures according to his own

views, so they take many different meanings out of the very same words.

There must be some chief person to tell the true meaning of the Holy

Scriptures when there is a dispute about it; but they have no such

chief, and the result is they are never done disputing.

 

The United States has a constitution and laws. Now, suppose every

citizen was allowed to construe the laws to suit himself, without any

regard for the rights of others, what a fine state of affairs we should

soon have. But the wise makers of the constitution and laws of the

United States did not leave us in such danger. They appointed judges to

interpret or explain the laws and give the correct meaning when disputes

arise. Then in Washington there is a chief judge for the whole United

States; and when he says the words of the law mean this or that, every

citizen must abide by his decision, and there is no appeal from it. Just

in the same way Our Lord made laws for all men, and while He was upon

earth He explained them Himself. He never left all men free to take

their own meaning out of them. He appointed judges--the bishops; and a

chief judge for the whole world--the Pope. The Holy Ghost guides him, as

we have seen above, so that he cannot make mistakes in the meaning of

Christ's laws; and when he says, this is what the words of Our Lord in

His law signify, no one who is a true Christian can refuse to believe,

or can appeal from his decision.

 

*130 Q. How is the Church holy?

A. The Church is holy because its founder, Jesus Christ, is holy;

because it teaches a holy doctrine, invites all to a holy life, and

because of the eminent holiness of so many thousands of its children.

 

Protestant religions have not holy doctrines if we examine them closely.

They teach, for example, that faith without good works will save us, and

thus take away the motives for doing good; that marriage is not binding

for life--the husband and wife may for some causes separate, or get a

divorce, and marry again. This would leave the children without the care

of their proper parents, sometimes without a home, and nearly always

without religious instruction. The same persons might separate again and

marry another time, and thus there would be nothing but confusion and

immorality in society. Again, some of their doctrines teach that we

cannot help sinning; so everyone could excuse himself for his sins by

saying he could not help them, which you can easily see would lead to

the worst of consequences. Lastly, their doctrines have never made one

saint--acknowledged as such from miracles performed. Protestants are so

called because, when their ancestors rebelled against the Church about

three hundred years ago, the Church made certain laws and they protested

against them, separated from the Church, and formed a new religion of

their own.

 

*131 Q. How is the Church catholic or universal?

A. The Church is catholic or universal because it subsists in all ages,

teaches all nations, and maintains all truth.

 

"Subsists" means to have existence.

 

"Catholic." The word catholic signifies universal. The Church is

universal in three ways, viz.: in time, in place, and in doctrine. It is

universal in time; for from the day Our Lord commissioned His Apostles

to preach to the whole world down to the present, it has existed,

taught, and labored in every age. It is universal in place; that is, it

is not confined to one part of the world, but teaches throughout the

entire world. It is universal in doctrine, for it teaches the same

doctrines and administers the same Sacraments everywhere; and its

doctrines are suited to all classes of men--to the ignorant as well as

the learned, to the poor as well as the rich. It teaches by the voice of

its priests and bishops, and all, civilized or uncivilized, to whom its

voice reaches, can learn its doctrines, receive its Sacraments, and

practice its devotions.

 

It has converted all the pagan nations that have ever been converted,

and the title catholic belongs to the Roman Catholic Church alone. All

Protestant churches that claim this title do so unjustly. They are not

universal in time, and cannot be called the Church of all ages, because

they were established only three hundred or four hundred or less years

ago. They are not catholic in place, because they are mostly confined to

particular countries. They are not universal in doctrine, because what

they teach in one country they reject in another; and even in the same

country, what they teach at one time they reject at another. Wherever it

is possible for civilized people to go, there you will find a priest

saying Mass in just the same way you see him saying it here. It is a

great consolation for one in a strange country to enter a church and

hear Mass, perceiving no difference in the vestments, ceremonies, or

language of the priest. A little altar boy from the United States could

serve Mass in any part of the world. See, therefore, the great advantage

the Church has in using the Latin language instead of the vernacular or

ordinary language of the people. If the Church used the usual language

of the people, the Mass would seem different in every country; while

natives would understand the words of the priest, strangers would not.

 

The Latin language is now what we call a dead language; that is, it is

not the common language of any country; and because it is a dead

language does not change: another reason why the Church uses it, that

nothing may change in its divine service. The prayers used in the Church

are exactly the same today as they were when they were written many

centuries ago. The living languages--that is, those in use, such as

English, French, German, etc., are always changing a little--new words

are being added, and the meaning of old ones changed. The Church uses

the same language all over the world to show that it is not the Church

of any particular country, but the true Church of all men everywhere.

 

Again, using only one language, the Church can hold its great councils,

call together all the bishops of the world, that they may condemn errors

or make wise laws. When the Holy Father addresses them in Latin they can

all understand and answer him. If, therefore, the Church did not use the

same language everywhere how could this be done, unless everyone present

understood all the languages of the world--which is a thing nearly

impossible. But someone might say, if the Mass was said in English we

could follow it better. You can follow just as well in Latin, for in

nearly all prayerbooks you have besides the Latin said by the priest the

meaning of it in English on the same page, or you have the English

alone.

 

*132 Q. How is the Church apostolic?

A. The Church is apostolic because it was founded by Christ on His

Apostles and is governed by their lawful successors, and because it has

never ceased, and never will cease, to teach their doctrine.

 

"Apostolic," which means that the Church was founded at the time of the

Apostles, and has been the same ever since. Since the time of St. Peter,

the first Pope, there have been 261 Popes. You can go back from our

present Holy Father, Pius XI, to Benedict XV, who was before him, to

Pius X, who was before him, to Leo XIII, before him, and so on one by

one till you come to St. Peter himself, who lived at the time of Our

Lord. Thus the Church is apostolic in its origin or beginning.

 

It is also apostolic in its teaching; for all the doctrines it teaches

now were taught by the Apostles. The Church does not make new doctrines,

but it teaches its truths more clearly and distinctly when someone

denies them. For example it would not be necessary for you to prove

yourself good and honest till somebody said you were bad and dishonest.

You prove your honesty when it is denied, but both you and your friends

believed it always, though you did not declare it till it was denied. In

just the same way the Church always believed that Our Lord is the Son of

God; that there are seven Sacraments; that the Pope is infallible, etc.

These truths and all the others were believed by the Apostles, and the

Church proclaimed them in a special manner when they were denied. Then

it called together in council all its bishops, and they, with the Holy

Father, proclaimed these truths--not as new doctrines, but as truths

always believed by the Church, and now defined because denied.

 

Protestants have not for their churches the mark apostolic. How could

their churches be founded by the Apostles, when the Apostles were dead

more than fourteen hundred years before there were any Protestant

churches? What is more, they have changed the teachings of the Apostles;

and so they have not the mark apostolic either in their origin or

teaching.

 

But they say the Catholic Church fell into error and made mistakes, and

that God wished reformers to correct these errors. How could the Church

fall into error when Our Lord promised to remain always with it, and to

send the Holy Ghost to guide and teach it forever? And, secondly, if God

sent the Protestants to correct the mistakes of the Catholic Church,

what proof do they give us that they have such power from God? When, as

we have seen, God sends anyone to do a special work, He always gives him

power to prove his mission. When He sent Moses, He gave him signs--the

plagues of Egypt. When He sent His prophets, they called down fire and

rain from Heaven. (3 Kings 18). But Protestants have shown us no signs

and performed no miracles; therefore we cannot believe their assertion

that God sent them to correct the Catholic Church. Neither can we

believe that Our Lord broke His promise to stay with the Church. We

shall see the whole truth of the matter if we go back to the

establishment of the Protestant religion and consider the life of Luther

and the others who founded it.

 

Luther, then a young man, while out one day saw his friend killed at his

side by a stroke of lightning. Much affected by that sad event, Luther

became a priest in the order of the Augustinians. He was a learned man

and a great preacher, but very proud. The Holy Father was completing St.

Peter's Church in Rome, and about that time granted an indulgence to

those giving alms for the purpose, just as pastors now offer Masses for

those who contribute means to build a new church, or hospital, asylum,

etc.

 

The Holy Father sent Dominican priests to preach about this indulgence

and collect this money. Then Luther, when he found that he, a great

preacher, was not appointed, was probably jealous. He first began to

preach against the abuses of indulgences: but pride made him go further,

and soon he began to preach against the doctrine of indulgences, and

thus became a heretic. Then he was condemned by the Pope, and cut off

from the Church. Being proud, he would not submit, but began to form a

new religion, now called Protestant. But how did he get the people to

follow him? Oh, very easily. Then, as now, there were plenty of bad and

indifferent Catholics. At that time the Church was rich and had much

property and lands; because when rich Catholics died they often left to

the Church property for its own support and the support of its

institutions. Even during their lifetime kings and princes sometimes

gave the Church large donations of lands and money. The Church then was

supported by these gifts and the income or rents of the lands, and did

not need to look for collections from the people, as it has to do now.

Here, then, is how Luther got many to follow him. He told greedy princes

that if they came with him they could become rich by seizing the

property of all the churches, and the greedy princes, glad of an excuse,

went with him. Then he told the people--the bad Catholics--that fasting

was too severe; going to confession too hard; hearing Mass every Sunday

too difficult; and if they renounced their faith and embraced his new

religion he would do away with all these things: so they also followed

him. He himself broke his solemn vows made to God, and the people easily

followed his example.

 

Those attending the Protestant churches in our times are generally rich

and refined people, but you must not think that the first Protestants of

three hundred years ago were just like them. No. Many of them were from

the lowest and worst--I do not say poorest--classes in society; and when

they got an excuse, they went about destroying churches and

institutions, burning beautiful statues, paintings, music, books, and

works of art that the Church had collected and preserved for centuries.

This you may read in any of the histories