Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Sunday within the Octave of Christmas—31 December A.D. 2017
Ave Maria!

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 19 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Sunday Within the Octave of the Nativity
Dominica infra Octavam Nativitatis

“Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted….”[1]


    These words were uttered by a prophet—an old man named Simeon—who had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until He had seen “the Christ”—“the anointed One” of the Lord.[2]  He came every day to the Temple, knowing that the Christ’s parents would present Him there on the fortieth day after His birth, for the ritual purification from childbirth prescribed by the Mosaic Law.[3]  Simeon knew that even though there could be no impurity in the birth of the Christ, that His Mother would nonetheless carry out the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law—he would find them in the Temple.  Sinlessness and purity, He was the “Sign of Contradiction.”

    What is this “Sign of Contradiction?”

    I cannot find his exact quote, but we have it on the good authority of the great preacher, Fr. Leonard Goffine, that

… according to the saying of Saint Bernard [of Clairvaux], Christ is a sign of contradiction for many Christians who contradict His humility by their pride, His poverty by their avarice, His fasting by their gluttony, His purity by their impurity, His zeal by their indolence, etc., thus denying by their actions that which they confess with their lips, proving thereby that they are Christians but in name….[4]

    It is, of course, quite true that we human beings are often guilty of false pride, avarice, gluttony, impurity, laziness, and hypocrisy.  In the Person of Jesus Christ, all of these faults are contradicted.  If we have one or more of these faults, we can do nothing better than looking to Jesus and seeing how he managed to exclude them from His personality. 

    By way of example, if we are guilty of avarice or greed, we can look to the life of Jesus (and His saints) and see that it is possible to live a life filled with the things that matter while not having a great deal of riches.  “Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air ….”[5]

    If we are guilty of laziness, in Jesus and His Apostles we can see lives dedicated to striving for the salvation of as many souls as possible.  The Gospels relate a nearly endless journey north and south, backwards and forwards, across Israel, during the public life of Christ—a journey crossing the known world during the ministry of the Apostles.  Saint Paul always comes to my mind in thing about heroic effort—heroic effort, and rarely under easy conditions.  “In labor and painfulness, in much watching, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.”[6]  “Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and left to float on the sea.”[7]

    For any and all of our faults we can always find a contradictory strength to imitate in Jesus and His saints.  First of all, we will see that it is possible to overcome the fault—and knowing that it is possible is always a good start.  We may gain some practical advice on how to overcome the fault—many of the saints wrote explicitly how they overcame their personal faults.  And, nothing is more powerful than prayer to Jesus, His holy Mother, and to the countless men and women who are God’s saints.  There is no better model than the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—if we are trying to overcome faults in our family life.

    Let me point out that our Lord’s “Sign of Contradiction” is not a condemnation of material things.  God’s creation includes both matter and spirit.  To suggest that spirit is good but that matter is evil is the rank heresy of the Manicheans.[8]   What God has created is radically good—it is only misuse of His creation that brings about evil.  Even the devils were created to be good—of their own free will they placed themselves in opposition to God—misusing their angelic nature made them demons.

    The faults mentioned by Saint Bernard—false pride, greed, gluttony, impurity, laziness, and hypocrisy—all represent the misuse of the human mind and body.  And it must be remembered that our minds and bodies were created “to show forth God’s glory in this world, and to be eternally happy with Him in the next.”[9]  And it must also be remembered that our minds and bodies, used correctly, can turn all of these vices into virtues:

X    Striving to do our best is not false pride

X    Working hard to provide for ourselves, our families, the Church, and the poor is not greed

X    Eating enough of the right foods is not gluttony

X    Raising good children for Church and civil society is not impurity

X    Finding labor and energy saving ways to do things is not laziness

X    We can learn to do as we say, free of all hypocrisy.

    Jesus Christ is, indeed, a “Sign of Contradiction”—a sign that must become a necessary part of our lives.  Our minds and bodies are good things.  We must be ever vigilant to use them for good—ever vigilant to contradict anything that can turn them to evil!






Dei via est íntegra
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