St. Lawrence

Feast Day: August 10th

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When Pope St. Sixtus became Bishop of Rome in 257, Lawrence (also spelled Laurence) was ordained a deacon and was placed in charge of the administration of Church goods and care for the poor.

 

According to tradition, the Relic of the Holy Grail was sent by St. Lawrence to his parents in Spain. He entrusted this sacred chalice to a friend whom he knew would travel back to Spain, his home country. While the Holy Chalice’s exact journey through the centuries is disputed, it is generally accepted by Catholics that the Chalice was sent by his family to a monastery for preservation and veneration. Historical records indicate that this chalice has been venerated and preserved by a number of monks and monasteries through the ages. Today the Holy Grail is venerated in a special chapel in the Catholic Cathedral of Valencia, Spain, in the region of St Lawrence’s birth and early life.

 

“For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood”.”

 

In the persecutions under Valerian in 258 A.D., numerous priests and deacons were put to death, while Christians belonging to the nobility or the Roman Senate were deprived of their goods and exiled. Pope St Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution, being beheaded on August 6th . As cited by St Ambrose of Milan says that Lawrence met the Pope on his way to his execution, where he is reported to have said, “"Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, holy pontiff, without your deacon? Never did you offer a sacrifice without my serving you at the altar. In what way have I displeased you?" The holy Pope comforted him with the words, "I am not abandoning you, my son; a more difficult trial and a more glorious victory are reserved for you; in three days you will follow me."

 

After the death of Pope Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. Ambrose is the earliest source for and states that Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.” This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom. Lawrence is said to have been martyred on a gridiron. During his torture Lawrence famously cried out “This side’s done, turn me over and have a bite.” 

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

"Once the mother of false gods, but now the bride of Christ, O Rome, it is through Laurence thou art victorious! Thou hast conquered haughty monarchs and subjected nations to thine empire; but though thou hadst overcome barbarism, thy glory was incomplete till thou hadst vanquished the unclean idols. This was Laurence's victory, a combat bloody yet not tumultuous like those of Camillus or of Caesar; it was the contest of faith, wherein self is immolated, and death is overcome by death. What words, what praises suffice to celebrate such a death? How can I worthily sign so great a martyrdom?"

Thus opens the sublime poem of Prudentius, composed little more than a century after the Saint's martyrdom. In this work the poet has preserved to us the traditions existing in his own day, whereby the name of the Roman Deacon was rendered so illustrious. About the same time St. Ambrose, with his irresistible eloquence, described the meeting of St. Sixtus and his Deacon on the way to martyrdom. But before both Ambrose and Prudentius, Pope St. Damasus chronicled the victory of St. Laurence's faith, in his majestic monumental inscriptions, which have such a ring of the days of triumph.

Rome was lavish in her demonstrations of honor towards the champion who had prayed for her deliverance upon his red-hot gridiron. She inserted his name in the Canon of the Mass, and moreover celebrated the anniversary of his birth to Heaven with as much solemnity as those of the glorious Apostles, and with the same privileges of a Vigil and an Octave (the Vigil is still commemorated in modern times). She has been dyed with the blood of many other witnesses of Christ, yet as though St. Laurence had a special claim upon her gratitude, every spot connected with him has been honored with a church. Amongst all those sanctuaries dedicated to him, the one which contains the martyr's body ranks next after the churches of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major on the Esquiline, St. Peter's on the Vatican, and St. Paul outside the Walls. St. Laurence outside the Walls completes the number of the five great basilicas that formed the appanage and exclusive possession of the Roman Pontiff. They represent the Patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, which divide the world between them, and express the universal and immediate jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome over all the churches. Thus through St. Laurence, the Eternal City is completed, and is shown to be the center of the world and the source of every grace.

Just as Sts. Peter and Paul are the riches, not of Rome alone, but of the whole world, so St. Laurence is called the honor of the world, for he, as it were, personified the courage of martyrdom. At the beginning of this month we saw St. Stephen himself come to blend his dignity of Protomartyr with the glory of St. Sixtus II's Deacon, by sharing his tomb. In St. Laurence, it seemed that both the struggle and the victory of martyrdom reached their highest point; persecution, it is true, was renewed during the next half-century, and made many victims, yet his triumph was considered as the death-blow to paganism.

"The devil," says Prudentius, "struggled fiercely with God's witness, but he was himself wounded and prostrated forever. The death of Christ's martyr gave the death-blow to the worship of idols, and from that day Vesta was powerless to prevent her temple from being deserted. All these Roman citizens, brought up in the superstitions taught by Numa, hasten, O Christ, to Thy courts, singing hymns to Thy martyr. Illustrious senators, flamens and priests of Lupercus, venerate the tombs of Apostles and Saints. We see patricians and matrons of the noblest families vowing to God the children in whom their hopes are centered. The pontiff of the idols, whose brow but yesterday was bound with the sacred fillet, now signs himself with the Cross, and the vestal virgin Claudia visits thy sanctuary, O Laurence."

It need not surprise us that this day's solemnity carries its triumphant joy from the city of the seven hills to the entire universe. "As it is impossible for Rome to be concealed," says St. Augustine, "so it is equally impossible to hide St. Laurence's crown." Everywhere, in both East and West, churches were built in his honor; and in return, as the Bishop of Hippo testifies, "the favors he conferred were innumerable, and prove the greatness of his power with God; who has ever prayed to him and has not been graciously heard?"

Let us, then, conclude with St. Maximus of Turin that "in the devotion wherewith the triumph of St. Laurence is being celebrated throughout the entire world, we must recognize that it is both holy and pleasing to God to honor, with all the fervor of our souls, the birth to Heaven of the martyr who by his radiant flames has spread the glory of his victory over the whole Church. Because of the spotless purity of soul which made him a true Levite, and because of that fullness of faith which earned him the martyr's palm, it is fitting that we should honor him almost equally with the Apostles."

Laurence has entered the lists as a martyr, and has confessed the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such is the antiphon wherewith the Church opens the First Vespers of the Feast; and in fact, by this hour he has already entered the arena; with noble irony he has challenged the authorities, and has even shed his blood.

On the very day of the martyrdom of St. Sixtus II, Cornelius Secularis, prefect of Rome, summoned St. Laurence before his tribunal, but granted him the delay necessary for gathering together the riches required by the imperial treasury. Valerian did not include the obscure members of the Church in his edicts of persecution; he aimed at ruining the Christians by prohibiting their assemblies, putting their chief men to death, and confiscating their property. This accounts for the fact that, on August 6, the faithful assembled in the cemetery of Pretextatus were dispersed, the Pontiff executed, and the chief Deacon arrested and ordered to deliver up the treasures which the Government knew to be in his keeping. "Acknowledge my just and peaceable claims," said the prefect. "It is said that at assemblies your priests are accustomed, according to the laws of your worship, to make libations in cups of gold; that silver vessels smoke with the blood of the victims, and that the torches that give light to your nocturnal mysteries are fixed in golden candlesticks. And then you have such love and care for the brotherhood: reports say you sell your lands in order to devote to their service thousands of sesterces (ancient Roman coins); so that while a son is disinherited by his holy parents and groans in poverty, his patrimony is piously hidden away in the secrecy of your temples. Bring forth these immense treasures, the shameful spoils you have won by deceiving the credulous; the public good demands them; render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, that he may have wherewith to fill his treasuries and pay his armies."

St. Laurence, untroubled by these words, and as if quite willing to obey, gently answered: "I confess you speak the truth; our Church is indeed wealthy; no one in the world, not even Augustus himself, possesses such riches. I will disclose them all to you, and I will show you the treasures of Christ. All I ask for is a short delay, which will enable me the better to perform what I have promised. For I must make an inventory of all, count them up, and value each article."

St. Laurence giving alms The prefect's heart swelled with joy, and gloating over the gold he hoped soon to possess, he granted him a delay of three days. Meanwhile St. Laurence hastened all over the town and assembled the legions of poor whom their Mother the Church supported; lame and blind, cripple and beggars, he called them all. None knew them better than the Archdeacon. Next he counted them, wrote down their names, and arranged them in long lines. On the appointed day he returned to the judge and thus addressed him: "Come with me and admire the incomparable riches of the sanctuary of our God." They went together to the spot where the crowds of poor were standing, clothed in rags and filling the air with their supplications. "Why do you shudder?" said St. Laurence to the prefect. "Do you call that a vile and contemptible spectacle? If you seek after wealth, know that the brightest gold is Christ, Who is the Light, and the human race redeemed by Him; for they are the sons of the Light, all these are shielded by their bodily weaknesses from the assault of pride and evil passion; soon they will lay aside their ulcers in the palace of eternal life, and will shine in marvelous glory, clothed in purple and bearing golden crowns upon their heads. See, here is the gold which I promised you—gold of a kind that fire cannot touch or thief steal from you. Think not, then, that Christ is poor: behold these choice pearls, these sparkling gems that adorn the temple, these sacred virgins, I mean, and these widows who refuse second marriage; they form the priceless necklace of the Church, they deck Her ears, they are Her bridal ornaments, and win for Her Christ's love. Behold, then, all our riches; take them: they will beautify the city of Romulus, they will increase the Emperor's treasures and enrich you yourself."

From a letter of Pope St. Cornelius, written a few years after these events, we learn that the number of widows and poor persons that the Church of Rome supported exceeded 1,500. By thus exhibiting them before the magistrate, St. Laurence knew that he endangered no one but himself, for the persecution of Valerian, as we have already observed, overlooked the inferior classes and attacked the leading members of the Church. Divine Wisdom thus confronted Caesarism and its brutality with Christianity which it so despised, but which was destined to overcome and subdue it.

This happened on August 9, 258. The first answer the furious prefect made was to order St. Laurence to be scourged and tortured upon the rack. But these tortures were only a prelude to the great ordeal he was preparing for the noble-hearted Deacon. We learn this tradition from St. Damasus, for he says that, besides the flames, St. Laurence triumphed over "blows, tortures, torments, and chains."

St. Laurence was taken down from the rack about midday. In his prison, however, he took no rest, but wounded and bleeding as he was, he baptized the converts won to Christ by the sight of his courageous suffering. He confirmed their faith, and fired their souls with a martyr's intrepidity. When the evening hour summoned Rome to its pleasures, the prefect recalled the executioners to their work, for a few hours' rest had sufficiently restored their energy to enable them to satisfy his cruelty.

Surrounded by this ill-favored company, the prefect thus addressed the valiant Deacon: "Sacrifice to the gods, or else the whole night long shall be witness of your torments." "My night has no darkness," answered St. Laurence, "and all things are full of light to me." They struck him on the mouth with stones, but he smiled and said: "I give Thee thanks, O Christ."

Then an iron bed or gridiron with three bars was brought in and the Saint was stripped of his garments and extended upon it while burning coals were placed beneath it. As they were holding him down with iron forks, St. Laurence said: "I offer myself as a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness." The executioners continually stirred up the fire and brought fresh coals, while they still held him down with their forks. Then the Saint said: "Learn, unhappy man, how great is the power of my God; for your burning coals give me refreshment, but they will be your eternal punishment. I call Thee, O Lord, to witness: when I was accused, I did not deny Thee; when I was questioned, I confessed Thee, O Christ; on the red-hot coals I gave Thee thanks." And with his countenance radiant with heavenly beauty, he continued: "Yea, I give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for that Thou hast deigned to strengthen me." He then raised his eyes to his judge, and said: "See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat." Then continuing his canticle of praise to God: "I give Thee thanks, O Lord, that I have merited to enter into Thy dwelling-place." As he was on the point of death, he remembered the Church. The thought of the eternal Rome gave him fresh strength, and he breathed forth this ecstatic prayer: "O Christ, only God, O Splendor, O Power of the Father, O Maker of Heaven and earth and builder of this city's walls! Thou hast placed Rome's scepter high over all; Thou hast willed to subject the world to it, in order to unite under one law the nations which differ in manners, customs, language, genius, and sacrifice. Behold the whole human race has submitted to its empire, and all discord and dissensions disappear in its unity. Remember Thy purpose: Thou didst will to bind the immense universe together into one Christian Kingdom. O Christ, for the sake of Thy Romans, make this city Christian; for to it Thou gavest the charge of leading all the rest to sacred unity. All its members in every place are united—a very type of Thy Kingdom; the conquered universe has bowed before it. Oh! may its royal head be bowed in turn! Send Thy Gabriel and bid him heal the blindness of the sons of Iulus that they may know the true God. I see a prince who is to come—an Emperor who is a servant of God. He will not suffer Rome to remain a slave; he will close the temples and fasten them with bolts forever."

Thus he prayed, and with these last words he breathed forth his soul. Some noble Romans who had been conquered to Christ by the Martyr's admirable boldness, removed his body: the love of the Most High God had suddenly filled their hearts and dispelled their former errors. From that day the worship of the infamous gods grew cold; few people went now to the temples, but hastened to the altars of Christ. Thus St. Laurence, going unarmed to the battle, had wounded the enemy with his own sword.

The Church, which is always grateful in proportion to the service rendered Her, could not forget this glorious night. At the period when Her children's piety vied with Her own, She used to summon them together at sunset on the evening of August 9 for a first Night Office. At midnight the second Matins began, followed by the first Mass called 'de nocte, in primo mane'. Thus the Christians watched around the Holy Deacon during the hours of his glorious combat. "O God, Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night; Thou hast tried me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in me. Hear, O Lord, my justice; attend to my supplication." Such is the grand Introit which, immediately after the night Vigils, hallowed the dawn of August 10, at the very moment when St. Laurence entered the eternal sanctuary to fulfill his office at the heavenly altar.

Martyrdom of St. Laurence This morning, as soon as St. Laurence had given up his brave soul to his Creator, his body was taken, like precious gold from the crucible, and wrapped in linen cloths with sweet spices. As in the case of St. Stephen the Proto-martyr, and of Jesus the King of Martyrs, so now, too, noble persons vied with each other in paying honor to the sacred remains. In the evening of August 10, the noble converts mentioned by Prudentius bowed their heads beneath the venerable burden; and followed by a great company of mourners, they carried him along the Tiburtian Way, and buried him in the cemetery of Cyriacus. The Church on earth mourned for Her illustrious son; but the Church in Heaven was already overflowing with joy, and each anniversary of the glorious triumph was to give fresh gladness to the world.

Our forefathers were greatly struck by the contrast between the endurance of the Holy Deacon under his cruel tortures and his tender-hearted, tearful parting with St. Sixtus II three days before. On this account, they gave to the periodical showers of falling stars, which occur around August 10, the graceful name of St. Laurence's tears: a touching instance of that popular piety which delights in raising the heart to God through the medium of natural phenomena.

 

Prayer in honor of St. Lawrence

In Matutino

The deacon of the Word, adorned with the beauty of the Word, freely lays done his life for love of the Word, and justly now he reigneth with the Word, inebriated with his joy and glory.

Strengthened with the armor of truth and of piety against the wicked contradiction of the erring, thou by thy faith and thy wise words hast destroyed forever the stronghold of falsehood.

With thine eyes fixed O' Lawrence, on the beauty of God, thou dist contemn alike the flatteries of the world and its torments, O hero worthy of admiration!

Christ, the true Deacon who dispenses to us the gifts of the Father, had revealed Himself to thee; and thou, longing to be His own deacon, didst go to Him by the path of love, O Thou who art truly to be envied!

Like in auspicious sun rising in the West by a prodigy exceeding wonderful, thou hast enlightened the whole Church with thy brilliant light , O admirable martyr, and all mankind have receive warmth from the ardour of thy faith: therefore do we all glorify thee. Amen.

 

Saint Leonard of Port Maurice

Feast Day: November 26th


Profile

Preacher and ascetic writer, b. Dec.20 , 1676, at Porto Maurizio on the Riviera di Ponente; d. at the monastery of S. Bonaventura, Rome, 26 Nov., 1751. The son of Domenico Casanova and Anna Maria Benza, he joined after a brilliant course of study with the Jesuits in Rome (Collegio Romano), the so- called Riformella, an offshoot of the Reformati branch of the Franciscan Order.

On October 2, 1697, he received the habit, and after making his novitiate at Ponticelli in the Sabine mountains, he completed his studies at the principal house of the Riformella, S. Bonaventura on the Palatine at Rome. After his ordination he remained there as lector (professor), and expected to be sent on the Chinese missions. But he was soon afterwards seized with severe gastric hemorrhage, and became so ill that he was sent to his native climate of Porto Maurizio, where there was a monastery of the Franciscan Observants (1704).

After four years he was restored to health, and began to preach in Porto Maurizio and the vicinity. When Cosimo III de' Medici handed over the monastery del Monte (that on San Miniato near Florence, also called Monte alle Croci) to the members of the Riformella, St. Leonard was sent hither under the auspices and by desire of Cosimo III, and began shortly to give missions to the people in Tuscany, which were marked by many extraordinary conversions and great results. His colleagues and he always practiced the greatest austerities and most severe penances during these missions.......


Noah's Offering to God after the Deluge

In the time of Noah, the entire human race was submerged by the Deluge, and only eight people were saved in the Ark. Saint Peter says, "This ark was the figure of the Church," while Saint Augustine adds, "And these eight people who were saved signify that very few Christians are saved, because there are very few who sincerely renounce the world, and those who renounce it only in words do not belong to the mystery represented by that ark."

 

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved
by St. Leonard of Port Maurice, (1676 - 1751)

"And a certain man said to Him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But He said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. But when the master of the house shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, you shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord, open to us. And he answering, shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are."--Luke 13: 23-25

Introduction

Thanks be to God, the number of the Redeemer's disciples is not so small that the wickedness of the Scribes and Pharisees is able to triumph over them. Although they strove to calumniate innocence and to deceive the crowd with their treacherous sophistries by discrediting the doctrine and character of Our Lord, finding spots even in the sun, many still recognized Him as the true Messiah, and, unafraid of either chastisements or threats, openly joined His cause. Did all those who followed Christ follow Him even unto glory? Oh, this is where I revere the profound mystery and silently adore the abysses of the divine decrees, rather than rashly deciding on such a great point! The subject I will be treating today is a very grave one; it has caused even the pillars of the Church to tremble, filled the greatest Saints with terror and populated the deserts with anchorites. The point of this instruction is to decide whether the number of Christians who are saved is greater or less than the number of Christians who are damned; it will, I hope, produce in you a salutary fear of the judgments of God.

Brothers, because of the love I have for you, I wish I were able to reassure you with the prospect of eternal happiness by saying to each of you: You are certain to go to paradise; the greater number of Christians is saved, so you also will be saved. But how can I give you this sweet assurance if you revolt against God's decrees as though you were your own worst enemies? I observe in God a sincere desire to save you, but I find in you a decided inclination to be damned. So what will I be doing today if I speak clearly? I will be displeasing to you. But if I do not speak, I will be displeasing to God.

Therefore, I will divide this subject into two points. In the first one, to fill you with dread, I will let the theologians and Fathers of the Church decide on the matter and declare that the greater number of Christian adults are damned; and, in silent adoration of that terrible mystery, I will keep my own sentiments to myself. In the second point I will attempt to defend the goodness of God versus the godless, by proving to you that those who are damned are damned by their own malice, because they wanted to be damned. So then, here are two very important truths. If the first truth frightens you, do not hold it against me, as though I wanted to make the road of heaven narrower for you, for I want to be neutral in this matter; rather, hold it against the theologians and Fathers of the Church who will engrave this truth in your heart by the force of reason. If you are disillusioned by the second truth, give thanks to God over it, for He wants only one thing: that you give your hearts totally to Him. Finally, if you oblige me to tell you clearly what I think, I will do so for your consolation.

The Teaching of the Fathers of the Church

It is not vain curiosity but salutary precaution to proclaim from the height of the pulpit certain truths which serve wonderfully to contain the indolence of libertines, who are always talking about the mercy of God and about how easy it is to convert, who live plunged in all sorts of sins and are soundly sleeping on the road to hell. To disillusion them and waken them from their torpor, today let us examine this great question: Is the number of Christians who are saved greater than the number of Christians who are damned?

Pious souls, you may leave; this sermon is not for you. Its sole purpose is to contain the pride of libertines who cast the holy fear of God out of their heart and join forces with the devil who, according to the sentiment of Eusebius, damns souls by reassuring them. To resolve this doubt, let us put the Fathers of the Church, both Greek and Latin, on one side; on the other, the most learned theologians and erudite historians; and let us put the Bible in the middle for all to see. Now listen not to what I will say to you -- for I have already told you that I do not want to speak for myself or decide on the matter -- but listen to what these great minds have to tell you, they who are beacons in the Church of God to give light to others so that they will not miss the road to heaven. In this manner, guided by the triple light of faith, authority and reason, we will be able to resolve this grave matter with certainty.

Note well that there is no question here of the human race taken as a whole, nor of all Catholics taken without distinction, but only of Catholic adults, who have free choice and are thus capable of cooperating in the great matter of their salvation. First let us consult the theologians recognized as examining things most carefully and as not exaggerating in their teaching: let us listen to two learned cardinals, Cajetan and Bellarmine. They teach that the greater number of Christian adults are damned, and if I had the time to point out the reasons upon which they base themselves, you would be convinced of it yourselves. But I will limit myself here to quoting Suarez. After consulting all the theologians and making a diligent study of the matter, he wrote, "The most common sentiment which is held is that, among Christians, there are more damned souls than predestined souls."

Add the authority of the Greek and Latin Fathers to that of the theologians, and you will find that almost all of them say the same thing. This is the sentiment of Saint Theodore, Saint Basil, Saint Ephrem, and Saint John Chrysostom. What is more, according to Baronius it was a common opinion among the Greek Fathers that this truth was expressly revealed to Saint Simeon Stylites and that after this revelation, it was to secure his salvation that he decided to live standing on top of a pillar for forty years, exposed to the weather, a model of penance and holiness for everyone. Now let us consult the Latin Fathers. You will hear Saint Gregory saying clearly, "Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom." Saint Anselm declares, "There are few who are saved." Saint Augustine states even more clearly, "Therefore, few are saved in comparison to those who are damned." The most terrifying, however, is Saint Jerome. At the end of his life, in the presence of his disciples, he spoke these dreadful words: "Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence."
 

The Words of Holy Scripture

But why seek out the opinions of the Fathers and theologians, when Holy Scripture settles the question so clearly? Look in to the Old and New Testaments, and you will find a multitude of figures, symbols and words that clearly point out this truth: very few are saved. In the time of Noah, the entire human race was submerged by the Deluge, and only eight people were saved in the Ark. Saint Peter says, "This ark was the figure of the Church," while Saint Augustine adds, "And these eight people who were saved signify that very few Christians are saved, because there are very few who sincerely renounce the world, and those who renounce it only in words do not belong to the mystery represented by that ark." The Bible also tells us that only two Hebrews out of two million entered the Promised Land after going out of Egypt, and that only four escaped the fire of Sodom and the other burning cities that perished with it. All of this means that the number of the damned who will be cast into fire like straw is far greater than that of the saved, whom the heavenly Father will one day gather into His barns like precious wheat.

I would not finish if I had to point out all the figures by which Holy Scripture confirms this truth; let us content ourselves with listening to the living oracle of Incarnate Wisdom. What did Our Lord answer the curious man in the Gospel who asked Him, "Lord, is it only a few to be saved?" Did He keep silence? Did He answer haltingly? Did He conceal His thought for fear of frightening the crowd? No. Questioned by only one, He addresses all of those present. He says to them: "You ask Me if there are only few who are saved?" Here is My answer: "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Who is speaking here? It is the Son of God, Eternal Truth, who on another occasion says even more clearly, "Many are called, but few are chosen." He does not say that all are called and that out of all men, few are chosen, but that many are called; which means, as Saint Gregory explains, that out of all men, many are called to the True Faith, but out of them few are saved. Brothers, these are the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Are they clear? They are true. Tell me now if it is possible for you to have faith in your heart and not tremble.

Salvation in the Various States of Life

But oh, I see that by speaking in this manner of all in general, I am missing my point. So let us apply this truth to various states, and you will understand that you must either throw away reason, experience and the common sense of the faithful, or confess that the greater number of Catholics is damned. Is there any state in the world more favorable to innocence in which salvation seems easier and of which people have a higher idea than that of priests, the lieutenants of God? At first glance, who would not think that most of them are not only good but even perfect; yet I am horror-struck when I hear Saint Jerome declaring that although the world is full of priests, barely one in a hundred is living in a manner in conformity with state; when I hear a servant of God attesting that he has learned by revelation that the number of priests who fall into hell each day is so great that it seemed impossible to him that there be any left on earth; when I hear Saint Chrysostom exclaiming with tears in his eyes, "I do not believe that many priests are saved; I believe the contrary, that the number of those who are damned is greater."

Look higher still, and see the prelates of the Holy Church, pastors who have the charge of souls. Is the number of those who are saved among them greater than the number of those who are damned? Listen to Cantimpre; he will relate an event to you, and you may draw the conclusions. There was a synod being held in Paris, and a great number of prelates and pastors who had the charge of souls were in attendance; the king and princes also came to add luster to that assembly by their presence. A famous preacher was invited to preach. While he was preparing his sermon, a horrible demon appeared to him and said, "Lay your books aside. If you want to give a sermon that will be useful to these princes and prelates, content yourself with telling them on our part, 'We the princes of darkness thank you, princes, prelates, and pastors of souls, that due to your negligence, the greater number of the faithful are damned; also, we are saving a reward for you for this favor, when you shall be with us in Hell.'"

Woe to you who command others! If so many are damned by your fault, what will happen to you? If few out of those who are first in the Church of God are saved, what will happen to you? Take all states, both sexes, every condition: husbands, wives, widows, young women, young men, soldiers, merchants, craftsmen, rich and poor, noble and plebian. What are we to say about all these people who are living so badly? The following narrative from Saint Vincent Ferrer will show you what you may think about it. He relates that an archdeacon in Lyons gave up his charge and retreated into a desert place to do penance, and that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After his death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, "Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell."

Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, "When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned."

O abyss of the judgments of God! Out of thirty thousand, only five were saved! And out of sixty thousand, only three went to heaven! You sinners who are listening to me, in what category will you be numbered?... What do you say?... What do you think?...

I see almost all of you lowering your heads, filled with astonishment and horror. But let us lay our stupor aside, and instead of flattering ourselves, let us try to draw some profit from our fear. Is it not true that there are two roads which lead to heaven: innocence and repentance? Now, if I show you that very few take either one of these two roads, as rational people you will conclude that very few are saved. And to mention proofs: in what age, employment or condition will you find that the number of the wicked is not a hundred times greater than that of the good, and about which one might say, "The good are so rare and the wicked are so great in number"? We could say of our times what Salvianus said of his: it is easier to find a countless multitude of sinners immersed in all sorts of iniquities than a few innocent men. How many servants are totally honest and faithful in their duties? How many merchants are fair and equitable in their commerce; how many craftsmen exact and truthful; how many salesmen disinterested and sincere? How many men of law do not forsake equity? How many soldiers do not tread upon innocence; how many masters do not unjustly withhold the salary of those who serve them, or do not seek to dominate their inferiors? Everywhere, the good are rare and the wicked great in number. Who does not know that today there is so much libertinage among mature men, liberty among young girls, vanity among women, licentiousness in the nobility, corruption in the middle class, dissolution in the people, impudence among the poor, that one could say what David said of his times: "All alike have gone astray... there is not even one who does good, not even one."

Go into street and square, into palace and house, into city and countryside, into tribunal and court of law, and even into the temple of God. Where will you find virtue? "Alas!" cries Salvianus, "except for a very little number who flee evil, what is the assembly of Christians if not a sink of vice?" All that we can find everywhere is selfishness, ambition, gluttony, and luxury. Is not the greater portion of men defiled by the vice of impurity, and is not Saint John right in saying, "The whole world -- if something so foul may be called -- "is seated in wickedness?" I am not the one who is telling you; reason obliges you to believe that out of those who are living so badly, very few are saved.

But you will say: Can penance not profitably repair the loss of innocence? That is true, I admit. But I also know that penance is so difficult in practice, we have lost the habit so completely, and it is so badly abused by sinners, that this alone should suffice to convince you that very few are saved by that path. Oh, how steep, narrow, thorny, horrible to behold and hard to climb it is! Everywhere we look, we see traces of blood and things that recall sad memories. Many weaken at the very sight of it. Many retreat at the very start. Many fall from weariness in the middle, and many give up wretchedly at the end. And how few are they who persevere in it till death! Saint Ambrose says it is easier to find men who have kept their innocence than to find any who have done fitting penance.

If you consider the sacrament of penance, there are so many distorted confessions, so many studied excuses, so many deceitful repentances, so many false promises, so many ineffective resolutions, so many invalid absolutions! Would you regard as valid the confession of someone who accuses himself of sins of impurity and still holds to the occasion of them? Or someone who accuses himself of obvious injustices with no intention of making any reparation whatsoever for them? Or someone who falls again into the same iniquities right after going to confession? Oh, horrible abuses of such a great sacrament! One confesses to avoid excommunication, another to make a reputation as a penitent. One rids himself of his sins to calm his remorse, another conceals them out of shame. One accuses them imperfectly out of malice, another discloses them out of habit. One does not have the true end of the sacrament in mind, another is lacking the necessary sorrow, and still another firm purpose. Poor confessors, what efforts you make to bring the greater number of penitents to these resolutions and acts, without which confession is a sacrilege, absolution a condemnation and penance an illusion?

Where are they now, those who believe that the number of the saved among Christians is greater than that of the damned and who, to authorize their opinion, reason thus: the greater portion of Catholic adults die in their beds armed with the sacraments of the Church, therefore most adult Catholics are saved? Oh, what fine reasoning! You must say exactly the opposite. Most Catholic adults confess badly at death, therefore most of them are damned. I say "all the more certain," because a dying person who has not confessed well when he was in good health will have an even harder time doing so when he is in bed with a heavy heart, an unsteady head, a muddled mind; when he is opposed in many ways by still-living objects, by still-fresh occasions, by adopted habits, and above all by devils who are seeking every means to cast him into hell. Now, if you add to all these false penitents all the other sinners who die unexpectedly in sin, due to the doctors' ignorance or by their relatives' fault, who die from poisoning or from being buried in earthquakes, or from a stroke, or from a fall, or on the battlefield, in a fight, caught in a trap, struck by lightning, burned or drowned, are you not obliged to conclude that most Christian adults are damned? That is the reasoning of Saint Chrysostom. This Saint says that most Christians are walking on the road to hell throughout their life. Why, then, are you so surprised that the greater number goes to hell? To come to a door, you must take the road that leads there. What have you to answer such a powerful reason?

The answer, you will tell me, is that the mercy of God is great. Yes, for those who fear Him, says the Prophet; but great is His justice for the one who does not fear Him, and it condemns all obstinate sinners.

So you will say to me: Well then, who is Paradise for, if not for Christians? It is for Christians, of course, but for those who do not dishonor their character and who live as Christians. Moreover, if to the number of Christian adults who die in the grace of God, you add the countless host of children who die after baptism and before reaching the age of reason, you will not be surprised that Saint John the Apostle, speaking of those who are saved, says, "I saw a great multitude which no man could number."

And this is what deceives those who pretend that the number of the saved among Catholics is greater than that of the damned... If to that number, you add the adults who have kept the robe of innocence, or who after having defiled it, have washed it in the tears of penance, it is certain that the greater number is saved; and that explains the words of Saint John, "I saw a great multitude," and these other words of Our Lord, "Many will come from the east and from the west, and will feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven," and the other figures usually cited in favor of that opinion. But if you are talking about Christian adults, experience, reason, authority, propriety and Scripture all agree in proving that the greater number is damned. Do not believe that because of this, paradise is empty; on the contrary, it is a very populous kingdom. And if the damned are "as numerous as the sand in the sea," the saved are "as numerous at the stars of heaven," that is, both the one and the other are countless, although in very different proportions.

One day Saint John Chrysostom, preaching in the cathedral in Constantinople and considering these proportions, could not help but shudder in horror and ask, "Out of this great number of people, how many do you think will be saved?" And, not waiting for an answer, he added, "Among so many thousands of people, we would not find a hundred who are saved, and I even doubt for the one hundred." What a dreadful thing! The great Saint believed that out of so many people, barely one hundred would be saved; and even then, he was not sure of that number. What will happen to you who are listening to me? Great God, I cannot think of it without shuddering! Brothers, the problem of salvation is a very difficult thing; for according to the maxims of the theologians, when an end demands great efforts, few only attain it.

That is why Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, after weighing all the reasons pro and con in his immense erudition, finally concludes that the greater number of Catholic adults are damned. He says, "Because eternal beatitude surpasses the natural state, especially since it has been deprived of original grace, it is the little number that are saved."

So then, remove the blindfold from your eyes that is blinding you with self-love, that is keeping you from believing such an obvious truth by giving you very false ideas concerning the justice of God, "Just Father, the world has not known Thee," said Our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say "Almighty Father, most good and merciful Father." He says "just Father," so we may understand that out of all the attributes of God, none is less known than His justice, because men refuse to believe what they are afraid to undergo. Therefore, remove the blindfold that is covering your eyes and say tearfully: Alas! The greater number of Catholics, the greater number of those who live here, perhaps even those who are in this assembly, will be damned! What subject could be more deserving of your tears?

King Xerxes, standing on a hill looking at his army of one hundred thousand soldiers in battle array, and considering that out of all of them there would be not one man alive in a hundred years, was unable to hold back his tears. Have we not more reason to weep upon thinking that out of so many Catholics, the greater number will be damned? Should this thought not make our eyes pour forth rivers of tears, or at least produce in our heart the sentiment of compassion felt by an Augustinian Brother, Ven. Marcellus of St. Dominic? One day as he was meditating on the eternal pains, the Lord showed him how many souls were going to hell at that moment and had him see a very broad road on which twenty-two thousand reprobates were running toward the abyss, colliding into one another. The servant of God was stupefied at the sight and exclaimed, "Oh, what a number! What a number! And still more are coming. O Jesus! O Jesus! What madness!" Let me repeat with Jeremiah, "Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."

Poor souls! How can you run so hastily toward hell? For mercy's sake, stop and listen to me for a moment! Either you understand what it means to be saved and to be damned for all eternity, or you do not. If you understand and in spite of that, you do not decide to change your life today, make a good confession and trample upon the world, in a word, make your every effort to be counted among the littler number of those who are saved, I say that you do not have the faith. You are more excusable if you do not understand it, for then one must say that you are out of your mind. To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable.

The Goodness of God

Perhaps you do not yet believe the terrible truths I have just taught you. But it is the most highly-considered theologians, the most illustrious Fathers who have spoken to you through me. So then, how can you resist reasons supported by so many examples and words of Scripture? If you still hesitate in spite of that, and if your mind is inclined to the opposite opinion, does that very consideration not suffice to make you tremble? Oh, it shows that you do not care very much for your salvation! In this important matter, a sensible man is struck more strongly by the slightest doubt of the risk he runs than by the evidence of total ruin in other affairs in which the soul is not involved. One of our brothers, Blessed Giles, was in the habit of saying that if only one man were going to be damned, he would do all he could to make sure he was not that man.

So what must we do, we who know that the greater number is going to be damned, and not only out of all Catholics? What must we do? Take the resolution to belong to the little number of those who are saved. You say: If Christ wanted to damn me, then why did He create me? Silence, rash tongue! God did not create anyone to damn him; but whoever is damned, is damned because he wants to be. Therefore, I will now strive to defend the goodness of my God and acquit it of all blame: that will be the subject of the second point.

Before going on, let us gather on one side all the books and all the heresies of Luther and Calvin, and on the other side the books and heresies of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, and let us burn them. Some destroy grace, others freedom, and all are filled with errors; so let us cast them into the fire. All the damned bear upon their brow the oracle of the Prophet Osee, "Thy damnation comes from thee," so that they may understand that whoever is damned, is damned by his own malice and because he wants to be damned.

First let us take these two undeniable truths as a basis: "God wants all men to be saved," "All are in need of the grace of God." Now, if I show you that God wants to save all men, and that for this purpose He gives all of them His grace and all the other necessary means of obtaining that sublime end, you will be obliged to agree that whoever is damned must impute it to his own malice, and that if the greater number of Christians are damned, it is because they want to be. "Thy damnation comes from thee; thy help is only in Me."

God Desires All Men to be Saved

In a hundred places in Holy Scripture, God tells us that it is truly His desire to save all men. "Is it My will that a sinner should die, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?... I live, saith the Lord God. I desire not the death of the sinner. Be converted and live." When someone wants something very much, it is said that he is dying with desire; it is a hyperbole. But God has wanted and still wants our salvation so much that He died of desire, and He suffered death to give us life. This will to save all men is therefore not an affected, superficial and apparent will in God; it is a real, effective, and beneficial will; for He provides us with all the means most proper for us to be saved. He does not give them to us so they will not obtain it; He gives them to us with a sincere will, with the intention that they may obtain their effect. And if they do not obtain it, He shows Himself afflicted and offended over it. He commands even the damned to use them in order to be saved; He exhorts them to it; He obliges them to it; and if they do not do it, they sin. Therefore, they may do it and thus be saved.

Far more, because God sees that we could not even make use of His grace without His help, He gives us other aids; and if they sometimes remain ineffective, it is our fault; for with these same aids, one may abuse them and be damned with them, and another may do right and be saved; he might even be saved with less powerful aids. Yes, it can happen that we abuse a greater grace and are damned, whereas another cooperates with a lesser grace and is saved.

Saint Augustine exclaims, "If, therefore, someone turns aside from justice, he is carried by his free will, led by his concupiscence, deceived by his own persuasion." But for those who do not understand theology, here is what I have to say to them: God is so good that when He sees a sinner running to his ruin, He runs after him, calls him, entreats and accompanies him even to the gates of hell; what will He not do to convert him? He sends him good inspirations and holy thoughts, and if he does not profit from them, He becomes angry and indignant, He pursues him. Will He strike him? No. He beats at the air and forgives him. But the sinner is not converted yet. God sends him a mortal illness. It is certainly all over for him. No, brothers, God heals him; the sinner becomes obstinate in evil, and God in His mercy looks for another way; He gives him another year, and when that year is over, He grants him yet another.

But if the sinner still wants to cast himself into hell in spite of all that, what does God do? Does He abandon him? No. He takes him by the hand; and while he has one foot in hell and the other outside, He still preaches to him, He implored him not to abuse His graces. Now I ask you, if that man is damned, is it not true that he is damned against the Will of God and because he wants to be damned? Come and ask me now: If God wanted to damn me, then why did He create me?

Ungrateful sinner, learn today that if you are damned, it is not God who is to blame, but you and your self-will. To persuade yourself of this, go down even to the depths of the abyss, and there I will bring you one of those wretched damned souls burning in hell, so that he may explain this truth to you. Here is one now: "Tell me, who are you?" "I am a poor idolater, born in an unknown land; I never heard of heaven or hell, nor of what I am suffering now." "Poor wretch! Go away, you are not the one I am looking for." Another one is coming; there he is. "Who are you?" "I am a schismatic from the ends of Tartary; I always lived in an uncivilized state, barely knowing that there is a God." "You are not the one I want; return to hell." Here is another. "And who are you?" "I am a poor heretic from the North. I was born under the Pole and never saw either the light of the sun or the light of faith." "It is not you that I am looking for either, return to Hell." Brothers, my heart is broken upon seeing these wretches who never even knew the True Faith among the damned. Even so, know that the sentence of condemnation was pronounced against them and they were told, "Thy damnation comes from thee." They were damned because they wanted to be. They received so many aids from God to be saved! We do not know what they were, but they know them well, and now they cry out, "O Lord, Thou art just... and Thy judgments are equitable."

Brothers, you must know that the most ancient belief is the Law of God, and that we all bear it written in our hearts; that it can be learned without any teacher, and that it suffices to have the light of reason in order to know all the precepts of that Law. That is why even the barbarians hid when they committed sin, because they knew they were doing wrong; and they are damned for not having observed the natural law written in their heart: for had they observed it, God would have made a miracle rather than let them be damned; He would have sent them someone to teach them and would have given them other aids, of which they made themselves unworthy by not living in conformity with the inspirations of their own conscience, which never failed to warn them of the good they should do and the evil they should avoid. So it is their conscience that accused them at the Tribunal of God, and it tells them constantly in hell, "Thy damnation comes from thee." They do not know what to answer and are obliged to confess that they are deserving of their fate. Now if these infidels have no excuse, will there be any for a Catholic who had so many sacraments, so many sermons, so many aids at his disposal? How will he dare to say, "If God was going to damn me, then why did He create me?" How will he dare to speak in this manner, when God gives him so many aids to be saved? So let us finish confounding him.

You who are suffering in the abyss, answer me! Are there any Catholics among you? "There certainly are!" How many? Let one of them come here! "That is impossible, they are too far down, and to have them come up would turn all of hell upside down; it would be easier to stop one of them as he is falling in." So then, I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin, in hatred, in the mire of the vice of impurity, and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop, and turn around; it is Jesus who calls you and who, with His wounds, as with so many eloquent voices, cries to you, "My son, if you are damned, you have only yourself to blame: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.' Lift up your eyes and see all the graces with which I have enriched you to insure your eternal salvation. I could have had you born in a forest in Barbary; that is what I did to many others, but I had you born in the Catholic Faith; I had you raised by such a good father, such an excellent mother, with the purest instructions and teachings. If you are damned in spite of that, whose fault will it be? Your own, My son, your own: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.'

"I could have cast you into hell after the first mortal sin you committed, without waiting for the second: I did it to so many others, but I was patient with you, I waited for you for many long years. I am still waiting for you today in penance. If you are damned in spite of all that, whose fault is it? Your own, My son, your own: "Thy damnation comes from thee." You know how many have died before your very eyes and were damned: that was a warning for you. You know how many others I set back on the right path to give you the good example. Do you remember what that excellent confessor told you? I am the one who had him say it. Did he not enjoin you to change your life, to make a good confession? I am the One who inspired him. Remember that sermon that touched your heart? I am the One who led you there. And what has happened between you and Me in the secret of your heart, ...that you can never forget.

"Those interior inspirations, that clear knowledge, that constant remorse of conscience, would you dare to deny them? All of these were so many aids of My grace, because I wanted to save you. I refused to give them to many others, and I gave them to you because I loved you tenderly. My son, My son, if I spoke to them as tenderly as I am speaking to you today, how many others souls return to the right path! And you... you turn your back on Me. Listen to what I am going to tell you, for these are My last words: You have cost Me My blood; if you want to be damned in spite of the blood I shed for you, do not blame Me, you have only yourself to accuse; and throughout all eternity, do not forget that if you are damned in spite of Me, you are damned because you want to be damned: 'Thy damnation comes from thee.' "

O my good Jesus, the very stones would split on hearing such sweet words, such tender expressions. Is there anyone here who wants to be damned, with so many graces and aids? If there is one, let him listen to me, and then let him resist if he can.

Baronius relates that after Julian the Apostate's infamous apostasy, he conceived such great hatred against Holy Baptism that day and night, he sought a way in which he might erase his own. To that purpose he had a bath of goat's blood prepared and placed himself in it, wanting this impure blood of a victim consecrated to Venus to erase the sacred character of Baptism from his soul. Such behavior seems abominable to you, but if Julian's plan had been able to succeed, it is certain that he would be suffering much less in hell.

Sinners, the advice I want to give you will no doubt seem strange to you; but if you understand it well, it is, on the contrary, inspired by tender compassion toward you. I implore you on my knees, by the blood of Christ and by the Heart of Mary, change your life, come back to the road that leads to heaven, and do all you can to belong to the little number of those who are saved. If, instead of this, you want to continue walking on the road that leads to hell, at least find a way to erase your baptism. Woe to you if you take the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the sacred character of the Christian engraved upon your soul into hell! Your chastisement will be all the greater. So do what I advise you to do: if you do not want to convert, go this very day and ask your pastor to erase your name from the baptismal register, so that there may not remain any remembrance of your ever having been a Christian; implore your Guardian Angel to erase from his book of graces the inspirations and aids he has given you on orders from God, for woe to you if he recalls them! Tell Our Lord to take back His faith, His baptism, His sacraments.

You are horror-struck at such a thought? Well then, cast yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ and say to Him, with tearful eyes and contrite heart: "Lord, I confess that up till now I have not lived as a Christian. I am not worthy to be numbered among Your elect. I recognize that I deserve to be damned; but Your mercy is great and, full of confidence in Your grace, I say to You that I want to save my soul, even if I have to sacrifice my fortune, my honor, my very life, as long as I am saved. If I have been unfaithful up to now, I repent, I deplore, I detest my infidelity, I ask You humbly to forgive me for it. Forgive me, good Jesus, and strengthen me also, that I may be saved. I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul."

And You, O Jesus! What do You say? O Good Shepherd, see the stray sheep who returns to You; embrace this repentant sinner, bless his sighs and tears, or rather bless these people who are so well disposed and who want nothing but their salvation. Brothers, at the feet of Our Lord, let us protest that we want to save our soul, cost what it may. Let us all say to Him with tearful eyes, "Good Jesus, I want to save my soul," O blessed tears, O blessed sighs!

Conclusion

Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well. As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.

Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved, but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.

What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, "Strive by good works to make your election sure." When Saint Thomas Aquinas's sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, "You will be saved if you want to be." I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition. Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913

"In this world I have but one enemy, and that is sin, and from the first I have sworn
to wage war against it all my days to the end of my life."--St. Leonard of Port Maurice



 

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

Feast Day: April 28th

St. Louis DeMontfort

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

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 Missionary in Brittany and Vendee; born at Montfort, January 31, 1673; died at Saint Laurent sur Sevre, 28 April, 1716.

    From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.

    The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.

    Grignion's extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the Calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental Calvary on a neighboring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: "Blessed be God!"

    This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations -- the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labors. "I cannot become a missionary", said he, "for I have been paralyzed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night." But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, "As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured." And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.

True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
by St. Louis de Montfort

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CRUIKSHANK, Blessed Grignion, etc. (London, 1892); JAC, Vie, etc. (Paris, 1903); LAVEILLE, Vic, etc. (Paris, 1907).

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910, Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

Prayer to St. Louis De Montfort

Great Apostle and Lover of our Blessed Lady, St. Louis De Montfort, whose one desire is to set the world aflame with love for Jesus through Mary, we entreat you to obtain for us childlike, persevering, perfect devotion to Mary, so as to share in Mary's faith, hope and charity, and to to receive the favor we beseech you to obtain for us.

St. Louis De Montfort, pray for us.
(Three Times)

Nihil Obstat:
Martinus I. Healy, S.T.D.
Censor Librorum

Imprimatur:
Thomas Edmundus Molloy, S.T.D.
Episcopus Brooklyniensis
October 1,1947

Litany to St. Louis de Montfort

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary
pray for us!
Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort
pray for us!
Ardent disciple of Jesus Christ the Incarnate Wisdom,
pray for us!
Eloquent preacher of the Cross,
pray for us!
Singer of the praises of the Sacred Heart,
pray for us!
Loving slave of Jesus in Mary,
pray for us!
Faithful son of the handmaid of the Lord,
pray for us!
Apostle of the Most Holy Rosary,
pray for us!
Preacher of the Mother of the Redeemer,
pray for us!
Servant of the poor and the afflicted,
pray for us!
Man of solitude and prayer,
pray for us!
Wonder of mortification,
pray for us!
Model of priests and missionaries,
pray for us!
Fervent minister of the Holy Eucharist,
pray for us!
Fearless champion of truth,
pray for us!
Restorer of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,
pray for us!
Marvel of poverty and abandonment to Divine Providence,
pray for us!
Teacher of the people of God,
pray for us!
Founder of Religious congregations,
pray for us!
Apostle of the end times,
pray for us!
Obedient collaborator with the Pope and Bishops,
pray for us!

Thou seest the Face of God:
obtain for us perseverance in the faith.
Thou shinest within Infinite Charity:
obtain for us the gift of pure love.
Thou livest in the New Jerusalem:
obtain for us the spirit of prayer.
Thou standst before the throne of the Lamb:
obtain for us the wisdom of the Cross.
Thou contemplate the Mother of the Lord:
obtain for us true devotion to Mary.
Thou dwellst with the Apostles of Christ:
obtain for us missionary zeal.
Thou sharest in the communion of Saints:
obtain for us love for the Church.
Thou art seated at the Table of the Kingdom:
obtain for us the crown of glory.
Thou art a powerful intercessor before the Throne of God:
hear our prayers.

(Here make your intentions in silence).


Let us pray.
O God, Who in the power of the Holy Spirit hast made Saint Louis-Marie an ardent apostle of Christ Crucified and a faithful son of the Virgin Mary; Grant that through his example and intercession we may be renewed in the spirit of our baptism and be always faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit. One God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

King Saint Louis IX

Feast Day: August 25th

[painting of Saint Louis]

King Saint Louis IX

Profile

    Louis, the quintessential Christian Prince, was born in Poissy, France on 25 April 1215 to King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile. His father died when he was just eleven years old, and he was crowned -- at Rheims, like almost all French Kings -- on the First Sunday of Advent in 1226. His very strong and pious mother acted as his regent, supressing various revolts to secure her son's place. She acted as regent even after he reached the age of majority, and guided his career with strong Christian advice, forming his character in holiness. She would say to him, "Never forget that sin is the only great evil in the world. No mother could love her son more than I love you. But I would rather see you lying dead at my feet than know that you had offended God by one mortal sin" -- sentiments that he took to heart and would later pass on to his own successor (see below).

    In 1230, he outlawed all forms of usury and compelled usurers to contribute toward the Crusades when their debtors could not be found to be compensated (later under his reign, in 1240, would come the famous disputation of the Talmud in Paris, after rulers and churchmen discovered what blasphemies the Talmud taught. Copies of the Talmud were burned in great fires in the streets of Paris).

    Louis married at age nineteen, in 1234, taking to wife Marguerite of Provence, with whom he had eleven children -- five sons and six daughters. He went on a Crusade in 1248, and fought nobly and with great honor, forbidding his men to kill prisoners and always expecting them to act as Christians. But he lost the battle and, weakened by dystentery, was captured in Mansoura, Egypt. During his captivity, he sang the Divine Office every day with two chaplains and conducted himself with such honor as to impress his captors. When the Sultan was killed by his own emirs, he was set free, but didn't immediately return to Europe; instead, he went to the Holy Land, and remained there in order to help fortify the Christian colonies, not returning until 1254, during which time his mother died.

    Very dedicated to the cause of peace, he not only arbitrated and made treaties with Henry VIII and James I of Aragon, but did much to curb a lot of the petty, feudal warfare that caused so much harm. He was a great patron of learning, the arts, and architecture, and under his patronage, the Sorbonne was founded; abbeys built; the choir, apse, and nave of St. Denis Basilica -- which contains the tombs of almost all French Kings -- were refurbished, etc. His crowning architectural glory, though, is Ste. Chapelle, the beautiful chapel with the walls of stained glass that sits on the tiny Ile de la Cité right in the middle of Paris, in the Seine River (the same island where Notre Dame Cathedral is found). This chapel was built to house a part of the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross which he purchased from Emperor Baldwin II in Constantinople, and it became St. Louis's personal royal chapel. To stand in it is to seem to stand inside a luminous jewel box:


    Glorious and fruitful was his reign! Indeed, having dealt with economic woes by expelling the usurers from France, King St. Louis ruled over a time that became known as "the golden century of Saint Louis." He was most famous, though, for his charity, humility, and concern for the poor. He built many hospitals, among them the hospital known as "Quinze-vingt" ("Fifteen-Twenty") -- a hospital for the blind and whose name comes from the fact that it could care for 300 patients. He built homes for reformed prostitutes. Every day, he met with the poor personally and saw to it that they were fed, inviting them to dine with him, and washing their feet in imitation of Christ at the Last Supper. He gave special attention to the indigent during Advent and Lent. All who knew him admired him; no one spoke ill of him and he spoke ill of no one else. His biographer, Joinville, wrote, "I was a good twenty-two years in the King's company and never once did I hear him swear, either by God, or His Mother, or His saints. I did not even hear him name the Devil, except if he met the word when reading aloud, or when discussing what had been read."

    He was also very devoted to the cause of Justice, and eliminated the feudal method of conflict resolution through combat, replacing it with arbitration and judicial process. He eradicated his ancestors' "King's Court" and established popular courts in which he, himself, would hear his subjects' grievances.

    In 1270, he went off on another Crusade, this time in an attempt to convert the Emir of Tunis after being inspired by acting as godfather to a Jewish convert. Again, his Crusade failed, and again he became sick with dysentery. This time, though, he did not recover. He died at three in the afternoon on 25 August 1270. His last words were those of Christ: "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit." He was canonized in 1297, 27 years after his death, and was succeeded by his son, Philip III (see Louis's letter to him below). His line continued after him until the French Revolution, when King Louis XVI was guillotined on 21 January 1703. At this act of regicide, the Abbe Edgeworth said, "Son of St. Louis, ascend to Heaven!"

    King Louis's remains were laid to rest, like those of almost all French Kings, in the Basilica of St. Denis (now a northern suburb of Paris). The Basilica was sacked during the infamous Revolution and its royal tombs were emptied into a mass grave -- with some of the tombs themselves being destroyed, including that of St. Louis (the tomb-smashing was stopped when an archaeologist of the time urged the revolutionaries to consider them "works of art"). In 1817, the mass grave was opened and all of the bones were placed in a single ossuary, with the names of the monarchs recorded.

    St. Louis is the patron of builders, kings, large families, and Crusaders (and, of course, St. Louis, Missouri). He is represented in art by the Crown of Thorns, crown, scepter, and the fleur-de-lis (the symbol of French monarchy, most likely a stylized depiction of the Yellow Flag Iris -- Iris pseudocorus. See picture at right).

St. Louis, King of France
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Louis IX., King of France, a perfect model of virtue to all princes, was born at Poissy, in 1215. Having early lost his father, Louis VIII., his mother, Blanche, a matron celebrated for her virtues and great mind, had him anointed king, when he was hardly twelve years old. Important reasons induced her to this step, although she remained regent during the king's minority. To this pious queen and mother St. Louis was greatly indebted for his piety; for, she led him in the path of true fidelity to God, knowing that the welfare of the whole land depended upon it. In the first years of his childhood she instilled into his mind the fear of the Lord and a great aversion for sin, by saying to him: "Beloved child, I would rather see thee in thine innocence fall dead at my feet, than that thou shouldst ever commit a mortal sin." These words Louis engraved so deeply into his heart, that he always abhorred sin more than all other evils, which is sufficiently illustrated by the fact that, according to the testimonials of his confessors, he never stained his soul with a mortal sin. The same fear he endeavored to impress upon others.

One day, seeing a man afflicted with leprosy, he asked one of his courtiers whether he would rather suffer this disease or commit a mortal sin. The courtier having answered that he would rather have a hundred mortal sins on his soul than leprosy on his body, the holy king was indignant, and replied: "Truly, you do not understand what it means to be in disgrace with the Almighty. Learn that a mortal sin is more to be dreaded than all the evils on earth." Equal to his fear of sin was his zeal in performing good deeds and practicing Christian virtues. He daily attended holy Mass, and always with the greatest devotion, and he never suffered any levity at church, in his courtiers or domestics. He appointed certain hours during the day for prayers. The grace of holy baptism and of the Christian faith he esteemed more highly than his crown. To be a Christian was for him a higher title than to be king of France; hence he generally called himself Louis of Poissy, because he had been baptised in that city. His faith was so well established, that when he was one day informed that Christ was visible in the Blessed Eucharist, in the form of a lovely child, he answered: "I believe that Christ, our Lord, is present in the Blessed Eucharist, and so firm is this my belief, that I need not see Him with my eyes."

To holy relics he showed great honor: hence, when the Emperor Constantine presented to him the crown of thorns of our Saviour, he went, with his whole court and all the clergy, five miles to meet it, and then accompanied it with great devotion to Paris. He carried the holy treasure, barefoot and with uncovered head, to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and thence into the chapel of St. Nicholas, where it was deposited with all due reverence. Towards himself he showed an austerity hardly surpassed in the convents. He wore, almost constantly, a rough hair-shirt, fasted every Friday and during the whole of Advent. He never permitted himself a dispensation in Lent. Before his fifteenth year, he was very fond of hunting, fishing, and other harmless amusements, but afterwards he renounced them all, in order to give all his time to prayer and the care of his government. His love for the poor was so great, that he not only gave them large alms, but also visited them in their sickness, washed the feet of some every Saturday, fed daily 120 in his palace, and always entertained three of them at his own table, serving them with his own hands. Some of his courtiers maintained that this was not suitable for a king; but he replied: "I recognize and honor in the poor, Christ Himself, Who has said: 'What you do to the least of them you have done to Me.'"


 On another occasion, he said: "The poor must gain heaven by their patience, the rich, by giving alms." He built many asylums and other houses for the maintenance of the poor, and erected a still larger number of churches and convents for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. But as St. Louis thus proved himself a pious king, so also he showed himself a worthy ruler, by being indefatigable where the welfare of his people, or where justice and the protection of the church were concerned. He made laws and ordinances commanding all officials of the State to deal justice without any delay and to take all possible care of his subjects. Those who disobeyed these laws were severely punished. He appointed two days in the week on which everybody, even the lowest and poorest had free admittance to him and could bring him his complaints. He labored especially to uproot those vices which prevent the blessing of God, and call down the Divine wrath upon a land. Hence he ordained by law that blasphemers should be branded by the public executioner, and when, one day, his pardon was asked for a nobleman who had been guilty of this crime, the holy king refused it, saying: "I would let my own lips be pierced with a red hot iron, if, by this means, I could prevent all blasphemy in my domains."

His valor in war was as great as his zeal for justice and his endeavors to destroy all vice. The whole world had, in this pious and heroic king, a proof that piety and valor can well be united in the human heart. Over the Albigenses, the most bitter enemies of the State and Church, he gained a decisive victory, completely vanquishing them. Some rebellious subjects, who had made war against him when he first ascended the throne, and who were aided by a foreign power, were conquered and brought again under his sceptre. These and many other victories made him greatly esteemed and respected by all foreign monarchs.

But nothing more effectually proves the great zeal of this holy king for the true church, than the crusades which he undertook to recover the Holy Land and to assist the oppressed Christians who lived in it. His first expedition, at the outset, promised great success, but in the course of time, by the inscrutable decrees of Providence, the greater part of his army fell victims to disease, and the holy king himself was taken prisoner. In this misfortune, his patience was so great and heroic, that even his enemies admired it. He submitted, without any complaint, to the Divine will, and continued his prayers, fasts and pious exercises, as if he were in his palace at Paris. He was at length released on payment of a ransom of 800,000 ducats, and the surrender of the cities he had taken. He thus concluded a truce of ten years with the Saracens. Having, under these conditions obtained his liberty, he remained some time longer in the Holy Land, visited with great devotion, the places made sacred by the presence of our Saviour, ransomed many prisoners, gave abundant alms, and fortified the few cities that remained in the hands of the Christians. Meanwhile the holy queen, Blanche, his mother, died at Paris, and when the news reached the Saint, he returned at once to France.

Some years later, when it was reported that the Christians in the East were more oppressed than ever by the infidels, he resolved to undertake a second crusade to assist them. At first, success followed the king's army, but the great heat of the climate, the want of wholesome water and provisions, infected the whole army with an epidemic, so that a large number died, among whom was a son of the king. At last, St. Louis himself was seized with the disease, and without being disturbed by it, he prepared himself for his last hour by prayer and by devoutly receiving the holy Sacraments. After this he gave to the Crown Prince, who was with him, instructions, partly verbal, partly in writing, which were dictated by Christian and royal wisdom, and which will be given below. After this he desired to dispense with all worldly affairs, and to occupy himself only with God, to whose holy will he had entirely submitted.

When his last hour had come, he desired to be robed in a penitential garment, and to be laid on a bed strewn with ashes. When this had been done, he took the Crucifix, kissed it most devoutly, and continued in prayer and acts of devotion, until he calmly expired, in the year of our Lord 1270, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. His last words were those of the Psalmist: "Lord, I will enter into Thy house: I will adore Thee in Thy holy temple, and will give glory to Thy name." Thus did St. Louis pass from a temporal into an eternal kingdom. Truly, he had been a great and holy king; great, on account of his valor in war; still greater, for his Christian magnanimity in adversity, but greatest, for the many exalted virtues by which he shone before the whole world from his childhood to the last hour of his life, and which prevented him from ever committing a mortal sin.

Fleur-de-lis

King Saint Louis's Last Instructions
to his Eldest Son, Philip III

 
1. To his dear first-born son, Philip, greeting, and his father's love.

2. Dear son, since I desire with all my heart that you be well "instructed in all things, it is in my thought to give you some advice this writing. For I have heard you say, several times, that you remember my words better than those of any one else.

3. Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.

4. You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment, rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.

5. If our Lord send you any adversity, whether illness or other in good patience, and thank Him for it, thing, you should receive it in good patience and be thankful for it, for you ought to believe that He will cause everthing to turn out for your good; and likewise you should think that you have well merited it, and more also, should He will it, because you have loved Him but little, and served Him but little, and have done many things contrary to His will.

6. If our Lord send you any prosperity, either health of body or other thing you ought to thank Him humbly for it, and you ought to be careful that you are not the worse for it, either through pride or anything else, for it is a very great sin to fight against our Lord with His gifts.

7. Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid. You should so carry yourself that your confessors and other friends may dare confidently to reprove you and show you your faults.

8. Dear son, I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the mass, when the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.

9. Dear son, have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms.

10. Maintain the good customs of your realm, and put down the bad ones. Do not oppress your people and do not burden them with tolls or tailles, except under very great necessity.

11. If you have any unrest of heart, of such a nature that it may be told, tell it to your confessor, or to some upright man who can keep your secret; you will be able to carry more easily the thought of your heart.

12. See to it that those of your household are upright and loyal, and remember the Scripture, which says: "Elige viros timentes Deum in quibus sit justicia et qui oderint avariciam"; that is to say, "Love those who serve God and who render strict justice and hate covetousness"; and you will profit, and will govern your kingdom well.

13. Dear son, see to it that all your associates are upright, whether clerics or laymen, and have frequent good converse with them; and flee the society of the bad. And listen willingly to the word of God, both in open and in secret; and purchase freely prayers and pardons.

14. Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.

15. Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back.

!6. Suffer it not that any ill be spoken of God or His saints in your presence, without taking prompt vengeance. But if the offender be a clerk or so great a person that you ought not to try him, report the matter to him who is entitled to judge it.

17. Dear son, give thanks to God often for all the good things He has done for you, so that you may be worthy to receive more, in such a manner that if it please the Lord that you come to the burden and honor of governing the kingdom, you may be worthy to receive the sacred unction wherewith the kings of France are consecrated.

18. Dear son, if you come to the throne, strive to have that which befits a king, that is to say, that in justice and rectitude you hold yourself steadfast and loyal toward your subjects and your vassals, without turning either to the right or to the left, but always straight, whatever may happen. And if a poor man have a quarrel with a rich man, sustain the poor rather than the rich, until the truth is made clear, and when you know the truth, do justice to them.

19. If any one have entered into a suit against you (for any injury or wrong which he may believe that you have done to him), be always for him and against yourself in the presence of your council, without showing that you think much of your case (until the truth be made known concerning it); for those of your council might be backward in speaking against you, and this you should not wish; and command your judges that you be not in any way upheld more than any others, for thus will your councillors judge more boldly according to right and truth.

20. If you have anything belonging to another, either of yourself or through your predecessors, if the matter is certain, give it up without delay, however great it may be, either in land or money or otherwise. If the matter is doubtful, have it inquired into by wise men, promptly and diligently. And if the affair is so obscure that you cannot know the truth, make such a settlement, by the counsel of s of upright men, that your soul, and the soul your predecessors, may be wholly freed from the affair. And even if you hear some one say that your predecessors made restitution, make diligent inquiry to learn if anything remains to be restored; and if you find that such is the case, cause it to be delivered over at once, for the liberation of your soul and the souls of your predecessors.

21. You should seek earnestly how your vassals and your subjects may live in peace and rectitude beneath your sway; likewise, the good towns and the good cities of your kingdom. And preserve them in the estate and the liberty in which your predecessors kept them, redress it, and if there be anything to amend, amend and preserve their favor and their love. For it is by the strength and the riches of your good cities and your good towns that the native and the foreigner, especially your peers and your barons, are deterred from doing ill to you. I will remember that Paris and the good towns of my kingdom aided me against the barons, when I was newly crowned.

22. Honor and love all the people of Holy Church, and be careful that no violence be done to them, and that their gifts and alms, which your predecessors have bestowed upon them, be not taken away or diminished. And I wish here to tell you what is related concerning King Philip, my ancestor, as one of his council, who said he heard it, told it to me. The king, one day, was with his privy council, and he was there who told me these words. And one of the king's councillors said to him how much wrong and loss he suffered from those of Holy Church, in that they took away his rights and lessened the jurisdiction of his court; and they marveled greatly how he endured it. And the good king answered: "I am quite certain that they do me much wrong, but when I consider the goodnesses and kindnesses which God has done me, I had rather that my rights should go, than have a contention or awaken a quarrel with Holy Church." And this I tell to you that you may not lightly believe anything against the people of Holy Church; so love them and honor them and watch over them that they may in peace do the service of our Lord.

23. Moreover, I advise you to love dearly the clergy, and, so far as you are able, do good to them in their necessities, and likewise love those by whom God is most honored and served, and by whom the Faith is preached and exalted.

24. Dear son, I advise that you love and reverence your father and your mother, willingly remember and keep their commandments, and be inclined to believe their good counsels.

25. Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good. But be watchful lest, for the love which you bear to one, you turn aside from right doing, and do to the others that which is not meet.

26. Dear son, I advise you to bestow the benefices of Holy Church which you have to give, upon good persons, of good and clean life, and that you bestow them with the high counsel of upright men. And I am of the opinion that it is preferable to give them to those who hold nothing of Holy Church, rather than to others. For, if you inquire diligently, you will find enough of those who have nothing who will use wisely that entrusted to them.

27. Dear son, I advise you that you try with all your strength to avoid warring against any Christian man, unless he have done you too much ill. And if wrong be done you, try several ways to see if you can find how you can secure your rights, before you make war; and act thus in order to avoid the sins which are committed in warfare.

28. And if it fall out that it is needful that you should make war (either because some one of your vassals has failed to plead his case in your court, or because he has done wrong to some church or to some poor person, or to any other person whatsoever, and is unwilling to make amends out of regard for you, or for any other reasonable cause), whatever the reason for which it is necessary for you to make war, give diligent command that the poor folk who have done no wrong or crime be protected from damage to their vines, either through fire or otherwise, for it were more fitting that you should constrain the wrongdoer by taking his own property (either towns or castles, by force of siege), than that you should devastate the property of poor people. And be careful not to start the war before you have good counsel that the cause is most reasonable, and before you have summoned the offender to make amends, and have waited as long as you should. And if he ask mercy, you ought to pardon him, and accept his amende, so that God may be pleased with you.

29. Dear son, I advise you to appease wars and contentions, whether they be yours or those of your subjects, just as quickly as may be, for it is a thing most pleasing to our Lord. And Monsignore Martin gave us a very great example of this. For, one time, when our Lord made it known to him that he was about to die, he set out to make peace between certain clerks of his archbishopric, and he was of the opinion that in so doing he was giving a good end to life.

30. Seek diligently, most sweet son, to have good baillis and good prevots in your land, and inquire frequently concerning their doings, and how they conduct themselves, and if they administer justice well, and do no wrong to any one, nor anything which they ought not do. Inquire more often concerning those of your household if they be too covetous or too arrogant; for it is natural that the members should seek to imitate their chief; that is, when the master is wise and well-behaved, all those of his household follow his example and prefer it. For however much you ought to hate evil in others, you shoud have more hatred for the evil which comes from those who derive their power from you, than you bear to the evil of others; and the more ought you to be on your guard and prevent this from happening.

31. Dear son, I advise you always to be devoted to the Church of Rome, and to the sovereign pontiff, our father, and to bear him the the reverence and honor which you owe to your spiritual father.

32. Dear son, freely give power to persons of good character, who know how to use it well, and strive to have wickednesses expelled from your land, that is to say, nasty oaths, and everything said or done against God or our Lady or the saints. In a wise and proper manner put a stop, in your land, to bodily sins, dicing, taverns, and other sins. Put down heresy so far as you can, and hold in especial abhorrence Jews, and all sorts of people who are hostile to the Faith, so that your land may be well purged of them, in such manner as, by the sage counsel of good people, may appear to you advisable.

33. Further the right with all your strength. Moreover I admonish you you that you strive most earnestly to show your gratitude for the benefits which our Lord has bestowed upon you, and that you may know how to give Him thanks therefore

34. Dear son, take care that the expenses of your household are reasonable and moderate, and that its moneys are justly obtained. And there is one opinion that I deeply wish you to entertain, that is to say, that you keep yourself free from foolish expenses and evil exactions, and that your money should be well expended and well acquired. And this opinion, together with other opinions which are suitable and profitable, I pray that our Lord may teach you.

35. Finally, most sweet son, I conjure and require you that, if it please our Lord that I should die before you, you have my soul succored with masses and orisons, and that you send through the congregations of the kingdom of France, and demand their prayers for my soul, and that you grant me a special and full part in all the good deeds which you perform.

36. In conclusion, dear son, I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honored and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honor, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.

St. Louis, the Third Order Dominican

The Third Order of St. Dominic has quite a list of famous members but at the head of this goodly company may be placed, according to our histories, St. Louis IX, King of France.  He may be considered as belonging to the Third Order of St. Dominic in its first state, when it was still called the Militia of Jesus Christ. It is asserted by Richer, a monk of the Order of St. Benedict, that this blessed saint wished to become a religious of the First Order of St. Dominic, but was turned from his pious design by the opposition made to it by all the estates of his realm; but this did not in any way diminish his esteem for the order, to which he felt himself called by Almighty God. He is thereafter believed to have embraced our Third Order, the exercises of which in every way were compatible with his duties as a king. And this is the more probable since he lived on the most familiar terms with our religious of our order, choosing his confessors from among them*. Also, the Dominican Rite celebrates the event called "The Crown of Thorns".  This day recalls the gift of a thorn from Christ's crown made to the Dominican Order by St. Louis IX in 1239. Moreover, had it not been for this engagement, it is not probable that the religious from our order would have solicited and obtained his canonization with so much trouble and expense, or have composed that noble office for his feast, which is used by the canons of the Sainte Chapelle.

 

*It should be noted that King Louis IX wanted to be part of not only the Dominican Order, but also the Franciscan Order, which he was a generous benefactor of both orders and is represented in old illuminations, sometimes in the habit of one or the other. He is patron of tertiaries in general, most likely due to his involvement with both orders.

 

Text from the "Manual of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order of Penance of St. Dominic" (1852)
 

Prayer in for the intercession King Saint Louis IX

Oh holy St. Louis IX, model of Catholic upbringing,

and tireless defender of the Kingship of Christ,

Despite your royal surroundings you were raised to love God and hate sin,

Your kingdom on earth was always ruled by the kingdom of heaven.

 

Glorious St. Louis IX, who did not hesitate to bring the poor to your own table,

Intercede for us that we may always strive to imitate our Savior as you so wisely did.

Keep us from the snares and allurements of the world, and help us to live truly Catholic lives at every moment. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen



Litany of Saint Louis of France

Lord have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us*
Holy Mother of God, *
Holy Virgin of virgins, *
Saint Louis of France, *
St. Louis, scion of devout parents, *
St. Louis, constant protector of the children of God, *
St. Louis, steadfast teacher of piety, *
St. Louis, true model of Christian virtue, *
St. Louis, faithful confessor of the living Christ, *
St. Louis, kingly bearer of humiliations, *
St. Louis, staunch defender of the glorified Christ, *
St. Louis, true martyr of the flesh by mortification, *
St. Louis, detester of worldly pride and honor, *
St. Louis, saviour of souls, *
St. Louis, ardent lover of God, *
St. Louis, kind friend of enemies, *
St. Louis, rapt in prayer to God, *
St. Louis, hope of sinners, *
St. Louis, giver of gifts, *
St. Louis, founder of charitable institutions for the afflicted, *
St. Louis, generous giver of alms, *
St. Louis, lavish dispenser of riches, *
St. Louis, guard of the holy places of pilgrimage, *
St. Louis, detester of immoderate people, *
St Louis, protector of widows and orphans, *
St. Louis, defender of the sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ, *
St. Louis, victor over the Saracens, *
St. Louis, protector of those in pagan slavery, *
St. Louis, converter of unbelievers to the Christian faith, *
St. Louis, visitor of hospitals and dispenser of favors to the infirm, *
St. Louis, healer of the sick, *
St. Louis, intercessor and patron of the French King, *
St. Louis, from whom those who flee to thee obtain the infallible help God, *
St. Louis, at whose request divers diseases are miraculously cured, *

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us.

Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.

Our Father (secretly). Hail, Mary (secretly).

V. Pray for us, Saint Louis:
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

O Lord, King of kings, Jesus Christ, Who didst love Saint Louis and didst lead him into the heavenly Kingdom: grant that by his intercession and good works, we may participate in his glory for all eternity. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

 

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