Septuagesima Sunday: Preparing for Lenten Penances in 2022

Today is Septuagesima Sunday, which is ushered in as priests wear purple vestments, thus signifying the beginning of the seventeen day period to help us to prepare for our annual Lenten journey of prayer, fasting, penance, sacrifice, mortification, and almsgiving. Easter is the preeminent feast, and the period that begins today is meant to focus our attention on what Our Blessed Lord and Saviour suffered to redeem us by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday.

The season introduced today by Septuagesima Sunday is given us by Holy Mother Church to prepare us for the rigors of the forty days of Lent, which will begin very this year, on Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The sloth that is part of fallen human nature inclines us to be "good to ourselves," to eschew penance and self-denial even though we know that our own sanctification depends upon making prayer, penance and self-denial essential parts of our daily lives, especially by means of total consecration to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother. We tend to postpone the sacrificing of legitimate pleasures and look with disdain upon the necessity of embracing with serenity of all of the crosses, both petty and demanding, until we are absolutely forced to consider doing some kind of penance for Lent.

In her wisdom, therefore, the Church has given us a period of seventeen days before Ash Wednesday to help us focus our attention on the necessity of embracing the Cross with every beat of our hearts. As we have been taught in recent centuries, starting with Saint Louis de Montfort, we should be offering up all of our daily penances to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as her consecrated slaves. This very day, Septuagesima Sunday, occurs exactly nine weeks before Easter Sunday, which will occur this year on Sunday, April 17, 2022. There are two more Sundays of preparation, Sexagesima Sunday and Quinquagesima Sunday, to help us be ready for the solemn season of reparation, Quadragesima, the forty days of Lent. We must start thinking about our Lenten resolutions now, gradually withdrawing ourselves from the "rush" and the "pull" of the world. Ash Wednesday will be here in but a blink of an eye.

There are some years, such as last year, 2021, that  the season of Septuagesima overlaps the some part of the Christmas season. This is eminently appropriate if one considers the simple fact that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ became Incarnate in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate Womb and was born in utter poverty in Bethlehem so as to pay back in His Sacred Humanity the debt of our sins on the wood of the Holy Cross that was owe to Him in His Infinity as God. The shadow of the Cross hung over Bethlehem at the first Christmas. 

This period of preparation that starts today reminds us of the fact that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has mercifully kept us alive to this point in salvation history. That is, we are alive to at least start another season of Lenten prayer, penance, sacrifice, and almsgiving. Whether we live to see the completion of Lent 2022 is known to God alone. The season of preparation for Lent has started, though, and we must give great thanks to God for this as it affords us yet another opportunity in the liturgical calendar of the Church to prove our mettle as disciples of the Word Who was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us, the One Who offered Himself up once in a bloody sacrifice on Calvary and Who permits that same Sacrifice to be offered in an unbloody manner at the hands of asacerdos acting in persona Christi in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Once again, you see, we have a chance to bear down, if you will, and to detach ourselves more from our various attachments to the world and its creature comforts that "creep" up on us from one Easter Sunday to the following Septuagesima Sunday or Ash Wednesday. It is now time to take stock of what legitimate pleasures and conveniences we can give up in order to make reparation for our own sins, which have wounded us and the Church Militant on earth in so many ways, and for those of the whole world, attempting to develop habits of sustained prayer and penance and mortification that may last well beyond the completion of the forty days of Lenten penance that begin in just seventeen days.

Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has granted an extraordinary grace to a handful of genuine mystics of knowing how the sins of all men caused Him to suffer unspeakably in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross, and how they caused His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to be pierced through with Seven Swords of Sorrow. Most of us would die if we saw just how much our own sins, both Venial and Mortal, caused Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer once in His Passion and Death and how they have wounded His Mystical Body, the Church, today, starting with the scars we have left on our own souls.

Mercifully, God restrains most of us from the knowledge given to genuine mystics. It is enough for us that we should come to an understanding of the fact that our sins caused the God-Man to suffer as He redeemed us and that we must come to despise even the thought of sin by scaling the heights of sanctity in imitation of the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph and all of the saints. While our sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance by the words and actions of an alter Christus, we nevertheless must be conscious of doing not only the particular penance assigned by a true priest but of living penitentially at all times so our intellects, enlightened by Sanctifying Grace, will always be ready to accept the truths of the Faith and that our wills, strengthened by Sanctifying Grace, may help us to choose to live in accord with what Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has revealed through His Holy Church as true and thus for our sanctification and salvation.

Our Lady stressed the importance of penance in her Fatima apparitions. Who are we to refuse her, who was given to us by her Divine Son to be our Mother as she stood so valiantly by the foot of His Holy Cross? The penances we are asked to undertake need not be anything extraordinary. That is, a voluntary self-denial of some sort of food that we really like is an act of penance. God knows how much we become attached to sensible pleasures and delights. Our voluntarily acts of penance, which must be kept to ourselves and not announced to others, detach us from self and self-pleasure, inclining us to pray all the more for truly great crosses to bear for the sake of souls and for the sake of the restoration of   the Church herself in all of her glory as she exercises the Social Reign of Christ the King in the lives of men and their nations. Getting up when we don't want to get up, doing our chores when we would prefer doing something else, indeed, just going about our daily duties in a spirit of love for the Cross can help us to grow in a love of Heaven and a detestation of anything that impedes our growth in sanctity to the highest degree possible below that of the Blessed Mother herself.

The ordinary penances of daily living are so obvious that it is difficult to see them.

Refraining from saying a cross word when provoked by another.

Accepting insults and slights with grace, understanding that the intentions of all hearts will be made manifest on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the Living and the Dead and that the insults and slights that we endure from others pale into insignificance when we consider how our sins helped to crown Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with thorns and to cover His Holy Face with spittle.

Forgiving others without any hint of bitterness or resentment, understanding that nothing anyone does to us is comparable to what our sins did to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who forgives us in the Sacrament of Penance. Who are we to refuse to forgive others when we are forgiven so freely? We are required to forgive. Actually doing so, though, may take an act of humble self-denial.

In brief, therefore, we must accept every little thing that happens in the course of a day as having been foreseen by God for all eternity as being precisely the particular cross at that moment in our lives that He knew was best for us and which we can make redemptive if we cooperative with all of the sufficient grace provided for us at that very moment. In short, we are given moments of relatively small penances all throughout the course of each day of our lives.

True, there will be times of the more difficult crosses. Painful, debilitating long-term illnesses. An accident that wipes away in a second a person's ability to think or to speak or to walk or to see or to hear. The loss of a loved one. The uncertainty and material instability caused by the lack of an income sufficient to provide for one's own needs despite hard work and sacrifice. The real human pain of having to live in a time when ravenous wolves are dressed in the clothing of shepherds and seek to confuse the faithful by denying almost every article contained in the Deposit of Faith, acting as though the Church began in 1962 and that nothing before then matters at all (and that is indeed a schismatic act to even mention anything before 1962 or, for that matter, before October 28, 1958). Oh, yes, there are the difficult crosses that come our way.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., writing in The Liturgical Year, places this season of Septuagesima in its proper perspective:

He [Saint Paul, writing in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians] tells us this world is a race, wherein all must run; but that they alone win the prize, who run well. Le us, therefore, rid ourselves of everything that could impede us, and make us lose our crown. Let us not deceive ourselves: we are never sure, until we reach the goal. Is our conversion more solid than was St. Paul's? Are our good works better done, or more meritorious, than were his? Yet he assures us that he was not without the fear that he might perhaps be lost; for which cause he chastised his body, and kept it in subjection to the spirit. Man, in his present state, has not the same will for all that is right and just, which Adam had before he sinned, and which, notwithstanding, he abused to his own ruin. We have a bias which inclines us to evil; so that our only means of keeping our ground is to sacrifice the flesh to the spirit. To many this is very harsh doctrine; hence, they are sure to fail; they never can win the prize. Like the Israelites spoken of by our apostle, they will be left behind to die in the desert, and so lose the promised land. Yet they saw the same miracles that Josue and Caleb saw! So true is it that nothing can make a salutary impression on a heart which is obstinately bent on fixing all its happiness in the things of this present life; and though it is forced, each day, to own that they are vain, yet each day it returns to them, vainly but determinedly loving them.

The heart, on the contrary, that puts its trust in God, and mans itself to energy by the thought of the divine assistance being abundantly given to him that asks it, will not flag or faint in the race, and will win the heavenly prize. God's eye is increasingly on all them that toil and suffer. These are the truths expressed in the Gradual [of the Mass of Septuagesima Sunday]:

A helper in due time in tribulation: let them trust in Thee, who know Thee, for Thou dost not forsake them that seek Thee, O Lord.

V. For the poor man shall not be forgotten to the end; the patience of the poor man shall not perish for ever; arise, O lord, let not man prevail. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

Dom Prosper Gueranger, writing his reflection for Monday of Septuagesima Week, explained the consequences of the Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden and how we must use the season of Septuagesima to be reminded that we can make no compromises whatsoever with evil:

The serpent said to the woman: 'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?' Thus opened the conversation, which our mother Eve so rashly consents to hold with God's enemy. She ought to refuse all intercourse with Satan; she does not; and thereby she imperils the salvation of the whole human race. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

Each of us has consented by means of our sins and our immersion in the spirit of worldliness to engage in "conversation" with Satan, have we not? Moreover, the scions of the counterfeit church of conciliarism treat Satan's disciples in various false religions as having "useful ideas" that can "contribute" to the cause of world "peace," going so far as to participate in "inter-religious prayer" with these disciples, scandalizing and bewildering believers as a result, convincing many of them that "it is no big deal" with pray with heretics and apostates and infidels. Why bother with these words of Saint John the Evangelist?

Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works. (2 John 1: 9-11)


Dom Prosper Gueranger's reflection on Monday in Septuagesima Week continues:

Let us recall to mind the events that have happened up to this fatal hour. God, in His omnipotence and love, has created two being, upon whom He has lavished all the riches of His goodness. He has destined them for immortality; and this undying life is to have everything that can make it perfectly happy. The whole of nature is made subject to them. A countless posterity is to come from them, and love them with all the tenderness of grateful children. Nay, this God of goodness who has created them, designs to be on terms of intimacy with them; and such is their simple innocence, that this adorable condescension does not seem strange to them. But there is something far beyond all this. He, whom they have hitherto known by favours of an inferior order, prepares for them a happiness which surpasses all they could picture with every effort of thought. They must first go through a trial; and if faithful, they will receive the great gift as a recompense they have merited. And this is the gift: God will them them to know Him in Himself, make them partakers of His own glory, and make their happiness infinite and eternal. Yes, this is what God has done, and is preparing to do for these two beings, who but a while ago were nothing.

In return for all these gratuitous and magnificent gifts, God asks of them but one thing: that they acknowledge His dominion over them. Nothing, surely, can be sweeter to them than to make such a return; nothing could be more just. All they are, and all they have, and all the lovely creation around them, has been produced out of nothing by the lavish magnificence of this God; they must, then, live for Him, faithful, loving, and grateful. He asks them to give Him one only proof of this fidelity, love, and gratitude: He bids them not to eat of the fruit of one single tree. The only return He asks for all the favours He has bestowed upon them, is the observance of this easy commandment. His sovereign justice will be satisfied by this act of obedience. They ought to accept such terms with hearty readiness, and comply with them with a holy pride, as being not only the tie which will unite them with their God, but the sole means in their power of paying Him what He asks of them.

But there comes another voice, the voice of a creature, and it speaks to the woman: 'Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree? And Eve dares, and has the heart, to listen t him that asks why her divine Benefactor has put a command upon her! She can to hear the justice of God's will called into question! Instead of protesting against the sacrilegious words, she tamely answers them! Her God is blasphemed, and she is not indignant! How dearly we shall have to pay for this ungrateful indifference, this indiscretion! (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

How many times have we not defended the honor and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity and of the Blessed Virgin Mary when we have heard blasphemy uttered in our own midst? How many times have we failed to rise to defense of God and His Most Blessed Mother when we have heard or seen one of the blasphemies or sacrileges committed by one of the conciliar "popes" and/or their partners in apostasy and betrayal in the "hierarchy" of the counterfeit church of conciliarism? Have we grown indifferent to the blasphemies and sacrileges? Worse yet, have we tried to make excuses for them?

To return to Dom Prosper Gueranger's commentary for Monday in Septuagesima Week:

'And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.' Thus Eve not only listens to the serpent's question, she answers him; she converses with the wicked spirit that tempts her. She exposes herself to danger; her fidelity to her Maker is compromised. True, the world she uses show that she has not forgotten His command; but they imply a certain hesitation, which savours of pride and ingratitude.

The spirit of evil finds that he has excited, in this heart, a love of independence; and that, if he can but persuade her that she will not suffer from her disobedience, she is his victim. He, therefore, further addresses her with these blasphemous and lying words: 'No, you shall not die the death; for God knoweth, that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' What he proposes to Eve is open rebellion. He has enkindled within her that perfidious love of self which is man's worst evil, and which, if it be indulged, breaks the tie between him and his Creator. Thus the blessings of God has bestowed, the obligation of gratitude, personal interest, all are to be disregarded and forgotten. Ungrateful man would become a god; he would imitate the rebel angels; she shall fall as they did.

"Her fidelity to her Maker is compromised." (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

Yes, you see, the Season of Septuagesima reminds us that we can make no compromises with the spirit of the world, which is the spirit of the devil. We can never compromise the Faith. We must speak as Catholics at all times and in all circumstances, being careful never to engage in a deliberate admixture of truth and error and to make sure that we do not enable others who believe that they can build the "better world" by means of mixing truth and error, belief and disbelief, of actually promoting a civil "right" of human beings to do that which is evil and thus offensive to God, injurious to the souls for whom He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross, and disruptive of social order and hence of a genuine peace, His very own, among nations.

We must never compromise the Faith by seeking the favor of the world. And we must never compromise the Faith, as so many are doing now, by serving as the enablers of the ancient enemies of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by permitting them, the adherents of the Talmud, to dictate the terms as to who is considered to be in "good standing" with them and thus who are considered be "acceptable" Catholics who can be counted upon to be good and loyal subjects of the figures of Antichrist in the counterfeit church of conciliarism. We must confess fidelity to Christ the King without burning a single grain of incense to the blasphemers and apostates of the counterfeit church of conciliarism who esteem the symbols of false religions with their own hands and who give them such influence over their internal policy decisions.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves, both ecclesiastically and civilly, however, we must remember that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is with us. He has not abandoned us. He has not abandoned Holy Mother Church. He wants to use us, especially by means of Total Marian Consecration, praying as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit, to help undo the harm our sins have done to ourselves and the Church and to thus plant the seeds for a restoration of all things in Him.

The season that commences today, Septuagesima Sunday, and continues through Shrove Tuesday, reminds us that we must live in accord with the liturgical calendar of the Church, thus placing what should be an habitual spirit of penance into a higher state of assiduous and faithful practice. Our Lady will keep us company as we assist at Holy Mass in the true Catholic catacombs each day, spending time with her Divine Son before His Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and pray her Most Holy Rosary with fervor and devotion, keeping in mind our desire to make reparation for our own sins and those of the whole world, praying most especially for the restoration of Holy Mother Church as the fruit of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great reminds us that we, the Gentiles who have been called by the Divine Master into His vineyard at the "eleventh hour," have a duty to work as hard as we can in keep the right faith, the true Catholic Faith, not the false religion of the conciliar sect, no matter how short or long our days may be from now until the time that we are called to make an accounting of the stewardship of the gift of Catholic Faith and all of the graces He has sent us through the loving hands of His Most Blessed Mother, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces, at our Particular Judgment:

We hear that the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning, to hire labourers into his vineyard. Who indeed is more justly to be likened to an householder than our Maker, Who is the Head of the household of faith, bearing rule over them whom He hath made, and being Master of His chosen ones in the world, as a Master over those that are in his house? He it is That hath the Church for a vineyard, a vineyard that ceaseth not to bring forth branches of the True Vine, from righteous Abel to the last of the elect that shall be born in the world.

This householder, then, for the cultivation of his vineyard, goeth out early in the morning, and at the third hour, and the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour, to hire labourers into his vineyard. Thus the Lord, from the beginning to the end of the world, ceaseth not to gather together preachers for the instruction of His faithful people. The early morning of the world was from Adam until Noah; the third hour from Noah until Abraham; the sixth hour from Abraham until Moses; the ninth hour from Moses until the coming of the Lord; the eleventh hour from the coming of the Lord until the end of the world. At this eleventh hour are sent forth as preachers the Holy Apostles, who have received full wages, albeit they be come in late.

Nor the cultivation of His vineyard, (that is, the instruction of His people,) the Lord hath never ceased to send into it labourers. First, by the Fathers, then, by the Prophets and Teachers of the Law, and lastly, by the Apostles He hath dressed and tended the lives of His people, as the owner of a vineyard dresseth and tendeth it by means of workmen. Whoever in whatever degree joined to a right faith the teaching of righteousness, was so far one of God's labourers in God's vineyard. By the labourers at early morning, and at the third hour, the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, may be understood God's ancient people, the Hebrews, who strove to worship Him with a right faith in company with His chosen ones from the very beginning of the world, and thus continually laboured in His vineyard. And now, at the eleventh hour, it is said unto the Gentiles also Why stand ye here all the day idle? (Pope Saint Gregory the Great, as found in Matins, The Divine Office, Septuagesima Sunday.)

Yes, we must labor all the day long the salvation of our souls. Why do we tarry so?

We need to pray to Our Lady to ransom us from the perils of this present time of apostasy and betrayal as we seek shelter in her loving arms and as we have recourse in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance to the mercy that has been won for us by the shedding of every single drop of the Most Precious Blood of her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on the wood of the Holy Cross so that we may be ransomed from our attachment even to the slightest Venial Sin and as we seek to live more penitentially each day by making sincere acts of reparation for our sins, especially by praying as many Rosaries each day as our state in life permits.

The joy of Easter Sunday awaits us in but nine weeks. The period of time between now and then is a simile for life itself. Whether we live to be seventy-five or eighty or ninety years and beyond, life is over in but a flash. An unending Easter Sunday of unparalleled joy awaits the just who persist until their dying breaths in a state of sanctifying grace. Is not a life of penance, lived in a more intensified manner, to be sure, during some parts of the liturgical year, worth the prize of an eternal Easter Sunday in Paradise?

Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners, help us to be like thee. Help us to be so consecrated to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart that we will one day come to detest even the thought of sin and will work more attentively to root it out in our own lives and thus be an instrument of rooting out in the life of the Church and the life of the world. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Viva Cristo ReyVivat Christus Rex!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, pray for us.

Appendix A

Septuagesima Sunday
Sermon One by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Jesus asks the discontented laborers: "Is thy eye evil, because I am good?" Why do they murmur? Have they been obliged to exceed the stipulated amount of labor? No! Have they worked longer than the time specified? No! Has not the master promptly paid them? Yes! Did he give them less than he promised? No! What then is the cause of their discontent? It is envy, because those who were sent later into the vineyard to work, received the same wages.

Envy is a most dangerous, execrable yet concealed vice; a vice of which, many are guilty, but whose real wickedness few recognise. Let us employ this hour in considering its dangers.

Mary, mother of love, pray for us, that the pestilential breath of this sin may never pollute our soul! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God! We can better recognize the turpitude and wickedness of envy, by considering the beauty, merit and amiable qualities of the opposite virtue--true, heroic brotherly love.

The love of our neighbor for the love of God is a virtue which inspires us to love others as ourselves, to wish them all the good we wish ourselves, and to do for them all that we would do for our own interests. Of this commandment Christ says: "It is like unto the other," namely: to the commandment of loving God, and our salvation depends on our observance of it. Thus teach Christ and His Apostles, especially St. Paul and St. John, both of whom emphatically and frequently insist upon it.

Envy is the vice directly opposed to this commandment. This will become clear to us if we consider the teachings of St. Paul in regard to the qualities of true, active, brotherly love. "Charity," says he, "is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: beareth all things, believeth all things" (i Cor. 13. 4).

Let us reverse these qualities, and we have the most perfect picture of envy. Envy is not kind; on the contrary, it is cruel, selfish, and without compassion for the needs and sufferings of others.

Envy provokes to anger, and leaves nothing untried to prevent the well-being of others. Envy seeks only its own good, and is arrogant. It thinks and does evil.

Who can count all the vices whose source is envy? Jealousy, mistrust, calumny, deceit, enmity! Envy is easily roused to anger, and brooks little contradiction. It rejoices not at the good fortune of others, but is pleased, rather, at the contrary. Oh, how terrible a vice! it tears up by the very roots, the beautiful flower of brotherly love!

I say, secondly, what a foolish vice! For it deserves also this stigma. Every sin bears the mark of insanity, and therefore it is that Holy Writ calls the sinner a fool. It were easy to point out the characteristics of insanity in the misdeeds of sinners, especially in the envious.

Envy deprives man of the use of his reason, robs him of strength of mind, and exerts an evil influence on his other faculties. The possessions of his neighbor seem better than his own, for no other reason than that another and not he is the owner!

Besides, he who is guilty of other sins has at least some satisfaction: the proud when he is honored; the miser when he counts his money and fills his coffers; the intemperate while he eats and drinks, and so of others. The envious have only the satisfaction of their anger.

Foolish vice! It harms itself while yielding to its own indulgence What a foolish, but at the same time, what a dangerous vice! It was envy that brought sin among the angels. Lucifer and his adherents, as the Fathers of the Church teach us, envied the glory of Christ, Who in His human nature stood below them, but Whom they were commanded to glorify and worship on account of the hypostatic union with the person of the Son of God.

As regards man, Holy Writ teaches us that it was through the envy of Satan that sin entered paradise. The envy of the serpent would deprive the human race not only of paradise but also of heaven. It has cast upon us innumerable woes, and has exposed us to countless dangers in working out the salvation of our soul. Satan envied mankind who were destined to take the place of the fallen angels in heaven.

Woe to us if we ever hearken to the voice of envy! Satan will then find it easy to assail us with temptations of all kinds! The first born of men became a murderer on account of envy. It was envy that induced Cain to kill Abel. It was envy that nailed the Redeemer of mankind to the cross.

It is true that pride introduced heresy into the world, and thus corrupted countless souls and wrought their eternal ruin; but envy is the twin-brother of pride, the second poisonous fang of the serpent of hell. Not seldom has its influence been felt since the origin and dissemination of heresy, especially since the last and most pernicious of all, namely, Protestantism.

Pride mated with envy has given birth in our own day to the heresy whose followers style themselves the Old Catholics. Yet more lamentable is the fact that envy, even among the good, has succeeded in preventing much that otherwise would have been done for the salvation of souls and the welfare of the Church, thus effecting incalculable mischief in every age of the Christian era.

It is envy that lights the torch of war among nations, and destroys the peace and happiness of congregations and home circles. There there no envy among mortals earth would become a paradise. Envy were capable of changing even heaven into a place of torment, and for this reason it is, as Gregory the Great says, "The mark of the damned."

The condition of the envious is the more dangerous, because the poison of envy is concealed. How few think themselves guilty of this sin! how few accuse themselves of it, and endeavor to uproot it from their hearts with the determination of St. Francis of Sales, who says: "Did I know that a fibre of envy were beating in my heart, I would tear it out!"

Follow his example, cost what it may, and instead of that detestable parasite, guard deep within your heart the holy virtue of heroic brotherly love! Amen!

Prayer Against Envy

O most loving Jesus, Pattern of charity, who makest all the commandments of the law to consist in love towards God and towards man, grant to us so to love Thee with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our soul, and our neighbor for Thy sake, that the grace of charity and brotherly love may dwell in us, and all envy, harshness, and ill-will may die in us; and fill our hearts with feelings of love, kindness, and compassion, so that by constantly rejoicing in the happiness and success of others, by sympathizing with them in their sorrows, and putting away all harsh judgments and envious thoughts, we may follow Thee, who art Thyself the true and perfect love. Amen.

Appendix B

Septuagesima Sunday
Sermon Two by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger

"Why stand you here all the day idle?"--Matt. 20.

The reproach which Christ in today's Gospel addresses to those who remained idle until the eleventh hour, is unfortunately one which might he addressed to the greater portion of mankind, yes even to many of the children of the Church.

We usually live careless of eternity, seemingly forgetful why we are here upon earth, and that this life was not given us to seek the honors, joys and treasures of this world, but to gather merit for eternity. How many men, how many children even of the Church are idle in this regard!

Let us earnestly take to heart this reproach, at once so true so important, so salutary for time and eternity, and endeavor to purchase back the hours we lost in idleness, and to employ with the zeal of the saints the days still left to us.

Mary, thou faithful handmaid of the Lord, pray for us that, following thy example, we may employ our entire life in gaining our salvation through Jesus Christ our Redeemer! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

"Why stand you here all the day idle?" What an astonishing, incomprehensible, and yet only too true fact! This becomes clear to us if we consider the character of our life upon earth, and the relation in which it stands to eternity. Our life here below is the time which God gives us to prepare ourselves for the world to come.

If we reflect how precious time is, how short and how uncertain are the days of our life, we certainly would expect man to think of nothing else, than how to employ the days of his life in securely reaching that end for which life was given.

A crown, a high degree of glory, is the recompense for every moment well employed. St. Chrysostom was right when he exclaimed: "Time, thou art worth as much as God!" But time is so short; for what is the longest life compared to eternity? In addition to this, not one moment of this short time is certain. How often death surprises man, and then his precious time is gone, never to return. Man knows this, the Christian believes it; therefore how incomprehensible their neglect to employ their time after the zealous earnestness of the saints! This becomes still more incomprehensible, when we consider how provident man is of his time in regard to temporal affairs and the acquisition of earthly goods. They hesitate not to cross the ocean in the often disappointed hope of securing employment and gaining money, while, if they only seize the opportunity, they will never lack profitable labor in the grand affair of their salvation.

And yet how many lose and kill time! I wish to call your attention to the following classes of idlers:

The first are those who lose their time from sheer indolence. They are those drones, who do their duty neither as citizens nor as Christians. They dream away their time, and awake when it is too late, to the grand reality of life. They want self-abnegation. These. especially deserve the reproach: "Why stand you here idle?"

The second class are those who idle away their time by excessive labor, not for the salvation of their soul but through an inordinate care for the things of this world. I call them industrious idlers. Apparently they are occupied, but in reality they do nothing, since they are busy only for this fleeting world and not for eternity. They think themselves, however, much wiser than those who fail to accumulate an equal amount of temporal wealth. But all their labor, all their success is of no value towards their eternal welfare; indeed, as far as this is concerned they might better, perhaps, have remained as idle as the former. For, in their eagerness to gain temporal goods, they may have yielded to temptation and then, being in the state of sin, gained nothing even when they seemed to be laboring for heaven. These are the industrious idlers who, in the words of Holy Writ, exclaim when it is too late: "We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity" and of temporal care.

There are others who, though they live in the state of grace, may yet be said to lose the time which has been granted to them to work out their salvation. To this third class of idlers belong those who lose their time in vain conversations and idle gossiping. Oh, how many apparently pious souls belong to this class of idlers! They talk ten, nay a hundred times too much. Even in necessary business how many useless words are spoken, how many moments wasted in idleness! Instead of leaving after having obtained the desired information, we remain and continue conversing about the same affair, though we previously stated all that was necessary; and in this manner we lose the time we should give to work.

But how shall we designate the many idlers who lose their time by too frequent visits and by prolonging this useless and sometimes dangerous pastime, till late in the night? Instead of regulating our visits by the just demands of friendship or of Christian neighborly love, we seek only to enjoy the society and conversation of others, forgetting that we could employ our time much better in sanctifying ourselves and others by works of charity.

Lastly, what shall we say of the idleness of pleasure-seekers, of those who pass day and night in gambling, dancing and other worldly amusements? How much time is lost for eternity in this manner! How much in visiting watering places, frequenting theatres and balls! There is also a certain class of people who lose their time in travelling for the sake of pleasure. I call these travelling idlers.

To all these we must needs add the large number of drunkards who, in their revels, heed not quickly passing time, and employ it neither for their temporal nor spiritual welfare who squander their money, impoverish their families and not unfrequently end their days in the almshouse. What a despicable class of idlers!

In conclusion, let me mention those who are idlers on account of negligence in renewing their good intention. The good we do, must be done with the right intention, that is, for God's sake and for His sake only. Of course this does not mean that a Christian may not transact business or perform this or that work for the sake of gain, friendship or neighborly love, as our circumstances in life make necessary; only let these good and praiseworthy intentions be secondary to the one just mentioned.

Christian, lay your hand upon your heart and tell me, if you do not belong to one of these classes of idlers, or perhaps to all of them? Make now the firm resolution of profiting well by the time yet left to you that, one day in the kingdom of eternal life, God may assign to you your reward! Amen!

Prayer Against Sloth

O LORD Jesus Christ, eternal Love, who in the garden didst pray so long and so fervently that Thy Sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground: put away from us, we beseech Thee, all sloth and inactivity both of body and mind; kindle within us the fire of Thy love; strengthen our weakness, that whatsoever our hand is able to do we may do it earnestly, and that, striving heartily to please Thee in this life, we may have Thee hereafter as our reward exceeding great. Amen.

“He sent them into his vineyard.” MATTHEW xx. 2

Appendix C

Sermon of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori on Septuagesima Sunday

The vines of the Lord are our souls, which he has given us to cultivate by good works, that we may be one day admitted into eternal glory. “How,” says Salvian, ”does it happen that a Christian believes, and still does not fear the future?” Christians believe death, judgment, hell, and Paradise: but they live as if they believed them not as if these truths of faith were tables or the inventions of human genius. Many live as it they were never to die, or as if they had not to give God an account of their life as if there were neither hell nor a heaven. Perhaps they do not believe in them? They believe, but do not reflect on them; and thus they are lost.  They take all possible care of worldly affairs, but attend not to the salvation of their souls. I shall show you, this day, that the salvation of your souls is the most important of all affairs.

First Point. Because, if the soul is lost, all is lost; Second Point. Because, if the soul is lost once, it is lost for ever.

First Point. If the soul is lost, all is lost

“But,” says St. Paul, “we entreat you …. that you do your own business.” (1 Thess. iv. 10, 11.) The greater part of worldlings are most attentive to the business of this world. What diligence do they not employ to gain a law-suit or a post of emolument! How many means are adopted how many measures taken? They neither eat nor sleep. And what efforts do they make to save their souls? All blush at being told that they neglect the affairs of their families; and how few are ashamed to neglect the salvation of their souls. ”Brethren,” says St. Paul, I entreat you that you do your own business ;” that is, the business of your eternal salvation.

“Nugæ puerorum,” says St. Bernard, ”nugæ vocantur, nugæ malorum negotia vocantur.” The trifles of children are called trifles, but the trifles of men are called business; and for these many lose their souls. If in one worldly transaction you suffer a loss, you may repair it in another; but if you die in enmity with God, and lose your soul, how can you repair the loss? “What exchange can a man give for his soul:” (Matt. xvi. 26.) To those who neglect the care of salvation, St. Euterius says: “Quam pretiosus sis, homo, si Creatori non credis, interroga Redemptorem.” (Hom. ii. in Symb.) If, from being created by God to his own image, you do not comprehend the value of your soul, learn it from Jesus Christ, who has redeemed you with his own blood. “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.” (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.)

God, then, sets so high a value on your soul; such is its value in the estimation of Satan, that, to become master of it, he does not sleep night or day, but is continually going about to make it his own. Hence St. Augustine exclaims: “The enemy sleeps not, and you are asleep.” The enemy is always awake to injure you, and you slumber. Pope Benedict the Twelfth, being asked by a prince for a favour which he could not conscientiously grant, said to the ambassador: Tell the prince, that, if I had two souls, I might be able to lose one of them in order to please him; but, since I have but one, I cannot consent to lose it. Thus he refused the favour which the prince sought from him.

Brethren, remember that, if you save your souls, your failure in every worldly transaction will be but of little importance: for, if you are saved, you shall enjoy complete happiness for all eternity. But, if you lose your souls, what will it profit you to have enjoyed all the riches, honours, and amusements of this world? If you lose your souls, all is lost. “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his_own soul ?” (Matt. xvi. 26.) By this maxim St. Ignatius of Loyola drew many souls to God, and among them the soul of St. Francis Xavier, who was then at Paris, and devoted his attention to the acquirement of worldly goods. One day St, Ignatius said to him: “Francis, whom do you serve? You serve the world, which is a traitor, that promises, but does not perform. And if it should fulfil all its promises, how long do its goods last? Can they last longer than this life? And, after death, what will they profit you, if you shall not have saved your soul ?” He then reminded Francis of the maxims of the Gospel: “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul ?”“But one thing is necessary ?” (Luke x. 42.) It is not necessary to become rich on this earth to acquire honours and dignities; but it is necessary to save our souls; because, unless we gain heaven we shall be condemned to hell: there is no middle place: we must be either saved or damned. God has not created us for this earth; neither does he preserve our lives that we may become rich and enjoy amusements. “And the end life everlasting.” (Hom, vi. 22.) He has created us, and preserved us, that we may acquire eternal glory.

St. Philip Neri used to say, that he who does not seek, above all things, the salvation of his soul, is a fool. If on this earth there were two classes of men, one mortal, and the other immortal, and if the former saw the latter entirely devoted to the acquisition of earthly goods, would they not exclaim: O fools that you are! You have it in your power to secure the immense and eternal goods of Paradise, and you lose your time in procuring the miserable goods of this earth, which shall end at death. And for these you expose yourselves to the danger of the eternal torments of hell. Leave to us, for whom all shall end at death, the care of these earthly things. But, brethren, we are all immortal, and each of us shall be eternally happy or eternally miserable in the other life. But the misfortune of the greater part of mankind is, that they are solicitous about the present, and never think of the, future. ”Oh! that they would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their last end.” (Deut. xxxii. 29.) Oh! that they knew how to detach themselves from present goods, which last but a short time, and to provide for what must happen after death an eternal reign in heaven, or everlasting slavery in hell. St. Philip Neri, conversing one day with Francis Zazzera, a young man of talent who expected to make a fortune in the world, said to him: “You shall realize a great fortune; you shall be a prelate, afterwards a cardinal, and in the end, perhaps, pope. But what must follow? what must follow? Go, my son, think on these words.” The young man departed, and after meditating on the words, what must follow? what must follow? he renounced his worldly prospects, and gave himself entirely to God; and, retiring from the world, he entered into the congregation of St. Philip, and died a holy death.

“The fashion of this world passeth away.” (i Cor. vii. 31.) On this passage, Cornelius à Lapide , says, that “the world is as it were a stage.” The present life is a comedy, which passes away. Happy the man who acts his part well in this comedy by saving his soul. But if he shall have spent his life in the acquisition of riches and worldly honours, he shall justly be called a fool; and at the hour of death he shall receive the reproach addressed to the rich man in the gospel: ”Fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee; and whose shall these things be which thou hast provided?” (Luke xii 20.) In explaining the words”they require, ” Toletus says, that the Lord has given us our souls to guard them against the assaults of our enemies; and that at death the angel shall come to require them of us, and shall present them at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. But if we shall have lost our souls by attending only to the acquisition of earthly possessions, these shall belong to us no longer they shall pass to other hands: and what shall then become of our souls?

Poor worldlings! of all the riches which they acquired, of all the pomps which they displayed in this life, what shall they find at death? They have slept their sleep: and all the men of riches have found nothing in their hands.” (Ps. Ixxv. 6.) The dream of this present life shall be over at death, and they shall have acquired nothing for eternity. Ask of so many great men of this earth of the princes and emperors, who, during life, have abounded in riches, honours, and pleasures, and are at this moment in hell what now remains of all the riches which they possessed in this world? They answer with tears: “Nothing, nothing. ” -And of so many honours enjoyed of so many past pleasures of so many pomps and triumphs, what now remains? They answer with howling: “Nothing, nothing. ”

Justly, then, has St. Francis Xavier said, that in the world there is but one good and one evil. The former consists in saving our souls; the latter in losing them. Hence, David said: “One thing I have asked of the Lord; this I will seek after that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.” (Ps. xxvi. 4.) One thing only have I sought, and will for ever seek, from God that he may grant me the grace to save my soul; for, if I save my soul, all is safe; if I lose it, all is lost. And, what is more important, if my soul be once lost, it is lost for ever. Let us pass to the second point.

Second Point. If the soul be once lost, it is lost for ever.

Men die but once. If a Christian died twice, he might lose his soul the first, and save it the second time. But we can die only once: if the soul be lost the first time, it is lost for ever. This truth St. Teresa frequently inculcated to her nuns: “One soul,” she would say, “one eternity.” As if she said: We have but one soul: if this be lost, all is lost. There is but “one eternity;” if the soul be once lost, it is lost for ever. ”Periisse semel æternum est.”

St. Eucherius says that there is no error so great as the neglect of eternal salvation. “Sane supra omnem errorem est dissimulare negotium æternæ salutis.” It is an error which surpasses all errors, because it is irremediable. Other mistakes may be repaired: if a person loses property in one way, he may acquire it in another; if he loses a situation, a dignity, he may afterwards recover them; if he even loses his life, provided his soul be saved, all is safe. But he who loses his soul has no means of repairing the loss. The wailing of the damned arises from the thought, that for them the time of salvation is over, and that there is no hope of remedy for their eternal ruin. ”The summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. viii. 20.) Hence they weep, and shall inconsolably weep for ever, saying: ”Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us.” (Wis. v. 6.) But what will it profit them to know the error they have committed, when it will be too late to repair it?

The greatest torment of the damned arises from the thought of having lost their souls, and of having lost them through their own fault. ”Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only from me.” (Osee xiii. 9.) O miserable being! God says to each of the damned; thy perdition is thine own; that is from thyself; by sin thou hast been the cause of thy damnation; for I was ready to save thee if thou hadst wished to attend to thy salvation. St. Teresa used to say, that when a person loses a trifle through negligence, his peace is disturbed by the thought of having lost it through his own fault. O God! what shall be the pain which each of the damned shall feel on entering into hell, at the thought of having lost his soul his all and of having lost them through his own fault!


“We must, then, from this day forward, devote all our attention to the salvation of our souls. There is no question, says St. John Chrysostom, of losing some earthly good which we must one day relinquish. But there is question of losing Paradise, and of going to suffer for ever in hell: ”De immortalibus suppliciis, de cœlestis regni amissione res agitur.” We must fear and tremble; it is thus we shall be able to secure eternal happiness. “With fear and trembling work out your salvation. ” (Phil. ii. 12.) Hence, if we wish to save our souls, we must labour strenuously to avoid dangerous occasions, to resist temptations, and to frequent the sacraments. Without labour we cannot obtain heaven. “The violent bear it away.” The saints tremble at the thought of eternity. St. Andrew Avellino exclaimed with tears: Who knows whether I shall be saved or damned? St. Lewis Bertrand said with trembling: What shall be my lot in the other world? And shall we not tremble? Let us pray to Jesus Christ and his most holy mother to help us to save our souls. This is for us the most important of all affairs: if we succeed in it, we shall be eternally happy; if we fail, we must be for ever miserable.