SUNDAY SCHOOL: The Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins

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SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Baltimore Catechism
Revised Edition (1941)

Lesson 13
The Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins

“I believe in … the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins …”
170. What is meant by “the communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed?
By “the communion of saints” is meant the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, with Christ as their Head.

171. Through the communion of saints, what can the blessed in heaven do for the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth?
Through the communion of saints, the blessed in heaven can help the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth by praying for them.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. (II Maccabees 12:46)

172. Should the faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them?
The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, should honor the blessed in heaven and pray to them, because they are worthy of honor and as friends of God will help the faithful on earth.

Let us now praise men of renown, and our fathers in their generation. (Ecclesiasticus 44:1)

173. Can the faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, relieve the sufferings of the souls in purgatory?
The faithful on earth, through the communion of saints, can relieve the sufferings the souls in purgatory by prayer, fasting, and other good works, by indulgences, and by having Masses offered for them.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. (II Maccabees 12:46)

174. Can the faithful on earth help one another?
The faithful on earth, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, can help one another by practicing supernatural charity and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Pray for one another that you may be saved. For the unceasing prayer of a just man is of great avail. (James 5:16)

175. What is meant in the Apostles’ Creed by “the forgiveness of sins”?
By “the forgiveness of sins” in the Apostles’ Creed is meant that God has given to the Church, through Jesus Christ, the power to forgive sins, no matter how great or how many they are, if sinners truly repent.

Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John 20:22-23)

The Precious Blood in Holy Communion 

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The Precious Blood in Holy Communion

If in other sacraments the Precious Blood is morally applied to the souls of those who receive them, in Holy Communion it is physically communicated to the body as well as the soul. We have the wonderful privilege of being brought into bodily contact with the Precious Blood, whether it be under the species of wine in the chalice, or of bread in the Sacred Host. How pure our bodies should be if they are thus to touch the source of all purity, the Holy of Holies, the God Whose infinite purity is such that the very Angels are not pure in His sight–how can we venture thus to touch Christ Himself–to receive the Precious Blood into our sinful and impure bodies?

Yet Christ our Lord invites us to do so. In His inexplicable love for us. He desires us, asks us, to receive His Precious Blood in Holy Communion. Instead of saying, as He did to Mary, “Touch Me not”; He says, “Drink, O My friends, and be inebriated, O My dearly beloved.” Admire His Divine condescension, and beware of presuming on His patience and His love.

How are we to account for Jesus’ willingness, nay, anxiety to be thus received by sinful men? It is because in thus communicating Himself to us. He makes us more like to what He Himself is, and what He desires us to be. The Precious Blood imparts to our souls all heavenly gifts and graces, if we receive it as we ought. O Jesus! grant that I may receive Thee frequently, fervently, and with a complete oblation of my whole self!

The Precious Blood in the Sacrament of Penance 

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The Precious Blood in the Sacrament of Penance

The task of the Precious Blood in Baptism seems a comparatively light one, contrasted with that which it performs in the Sacrament of Penance. In Baptism, original sin is washed away; in Penance, actual sin. The former cleaves to us through no fault of our own; the latter is the result of our own deliberate deed. It makes us the enemies of God in quite a different sense. It places us, or rather, we place ourselves of our own free-will, under the power of Satan; voluntarily we forfeit our inheritance, and proclaim ourselves rebels. The task of reconciliation is a far more difficult one, and is only possible with our own cooperation.

Yet the Precious Blood restores the sinner to his allegiance, and frees him from the power of Satan, when he comes anxious to be delivered. As soon as it touches the soul of the sinner, it washes it as clean and pure as if he had never sinned, and restores him to peace and friendship with God. Who has not witnessed its transforming power, and seen the sinner, before hardened, depressed, almost in despair, now become full of peace and consolation and joy under its Divine influence.

We cannot wonder at our Lord’s cry of agony in Gethsemane or at His sweat of blood, when we think what it was that the Precious Blood had to efface from our souls. What an horrible accumulation of pride and selfishness and impurity and covetousness! Such a cleansing could only be gained at the cost of a sacrifice infinite in value. O Jesus! make me to appreciate more Thy Divine love.

St. Martha

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St. Martha, Virgin

SHE was sister to Mary and Lazarus, and lived with them at Bethania, a small town two miles distant from Jerusalem, a little beyond mount Olivet. Our Blessed Redeemer had made his residence usually in Galilee, till in the third year of his public ministry he preached chiefly in Judæa, during which interval he frequented the house of these three holy disciples. Martha seems to have been the eldest, and to have had the chief care and direction of the household. It appears from the history of the resurrection of Lazarus that their family was of principal note in the country. In the first visit, as it seems, with which Jesus honoured them, 1 St. Luke tells us 2 that St. Martha showed great solicitude to entertain and serve him. She forgot the privilege of her rank and riches, and would not leave so great an honour to servants only, but was herself very busy in preparing every thing for so great a guest and his holy company. Mary sat all the time at our Saviour’s feet, feeding her soul with his heavenly doctrine. In this she found such inexpressible sweetness, and so great spiritual advantage, that she forgot and contemned the whole world, and would suffer nothing to draw her from her entertainment with her God, or make her lose any one of those precious moments. At his sacred discourses her heart was inflamed, her pure soul seemed to melt in holy love, and in a total forgetfulness of all other things she said to herself, with the spouse in the Canticles: My beloved to me, and I to him, who feedeth among the lilies; 3 that is, with chaste souls, or among the flowers of virtues. St. Austin observes that this house represents to us the whole family of God on earth. In it no one is idle, but his servants have their different employments, some in the contemplative life, as recluses; others in the active; as, first, those who labour for the salvation of souls in the exterior functions of the pastoral charge; secondly, those who, upon pure motives of charity, serve the poor or the sick; and, lastly, all who look upon their lawful profession in the world as the place for which God had destined them, and the employment which he has given them; and who faithfully pursue its occupations with a view purely to accomplish the divine will, and acquit themselves of every duty in the order in which God has placed them in this world. He is the greater saint, whatever his state of life may be, whose love of God and his neighbour is more pure, more ardent, and more perfect; for charity is the soul and form of Christian perfection. 1 Continue reading

INSTRUCTION ON THE TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

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INSTRUCTION ON THE TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

The Church’s Year
By Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

At the Introit of the Mass pray with the Church for God’s help to guard us against our enemies:

INTROIT When I cried to the Lord, he heard my voice, from them that draw near to me, and he humbled them, who is before all ages, and remains forever. Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. (Ps. LIV.) Hear, O God, my prayer, and despise not my supplication; be attentive to me, and hear me. Glory etc.

COLLECT O God, who dost manifest Thine almighty. power above all in showing pardon and pity: multiply upon us Thy mercy, that we running forward to the attainment of Thy promises, may be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasures. Through etc.

EPISTLE (I Cor. XII. 2-11 .) Brethren, You know that when you were heathens; you went to dumb idols according as, you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith. Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say: the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one, indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another, faith in one Spirit: to another, the working of miracles: to another, prophecy: to another, the discerning, of spirits: to another, divers kinds of tongues: to another, of speeches. But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will. Continue reading