|Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost|
he First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, i. 4-8. Brethren: I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus, that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Paul shows in this epistle that he possesses the true love of his neighbor, by rejoicing and thanking God that He had bestowed on the Corinthians manifold gifts and graces, and thereby confirmed the testimony of Christ in them.
By this we learn that we should rejoice over the gifts and graces of our neighbors; should thank God for them, and pray Him to fill all who are in the darkness of error with knowledge and love, and all virtues.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, ix. 1-8. At that time Jesus, entering into a boat, he passed over the water and came into his own city. And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.
The charity of those that brought the sick man to Christ was so full of faith, so pleasing to Him, that, out of regard for it, He forgave the palsied man his sins, and healed him.
Christ did not heal the man sick with the palsy until He had forgiven him his sins. By this He teaches us that sins are often the cause of the sicknesses and evils that persue us; and that if we sincerely repent of our sins, God would be likely to remove these evils from us. This is also intimated by the words of Jesus to him who had been sick eight-and-thirty years: "Sin no more, lest some worse things happen to thee" (John v. 14). This should be kept in mind by those who so impetuously beseech God to free themselves from the sins which may be the cause of them, by a sincere repentance and by leading a Christian life.
"He blasphemeth." Thus, in their perverted minds, the Jew thought of Christ; supposing that, by forgiving the sick man his sins, He had committed an encroachment on the prerogative of God, and thereby done Him great wrong; for it is blasphemy against God to attempt to wrong Him, or to think, speak, or do anything insulting to Him or to His saints.
"And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?" This is something to be considered by those who suppose their thoughts to be free from scrutiny, and to whom it does not even occur to make their evil thoughts matter of confession. God, the most holy and most just, will no more leave unpunished impure, proud, angry, revengeful, envious thoughts, than He will an idle word (Matt. xii. 36). Do not, therefore, give yourself up to evil thoughts; and in order to repel them, remember each time that God sees and punishes them. Would you not drive them away if men saw them? Why not, then, on account of God?
What is an indulgence?
It is the remission granted by the Church, in the name of God, and on account of the merits of Jesus Christ and of all the saints, of the temporal punishment which men must suffer, either in this world or in the world to come, for sins that have been already forgiven.
Whence do we know that after sins are forgiven there yet remains a temporal punishment?
From Holy Scripture; thus God imposed upon Adam and Eve great temporal punishments, although He forgave them their sin (Gen. iii.). Moses and Aaron were punished for a slight want of confidence in God (Num. xx. 24; Deut. xxxii. 51). David, though forgiven, was obliged to submit to great temporal punishments (II. Kings xii.). Finally, faith teaches us that after death we must suffer in purgatory till we have paid the last farthing (Matt. v. 26).
Can the Church remit all temporal punishments, even those imposed by God Himself, and why?
Certainly, by virtue of the power to bind and loose which Christ has given her (Matt. xviii. 18). For if the Church has received from God the power to remit sins - which is the greater - she certainly has authority to remit the punishment of them - which is less. Moreover, it is by the bands of punishment that we are hindered from reaching the kingdom of God. But if the Church can loose all bands, why not this? Finally, Jesus certainly had power to remit temporal punishment of sins; and the power which He Himself had He gave to His disciples.
What is required in order rightly to gain an indulgence?
In order to gain an indulgence it is necessary: 1. To be in the grace of God. It is proper, therefore, to go to confession every time that one begins the good works enjoined for the gaining of an indulgence. In granting partial indulgences sacramental confession is not usually prescribed, but if one who is in the state of mortal sin wishes to gain the indulgence, he must at least make an act of true contrition with a firm purpose of going to confession. 2. It is necessary to have at least a general intention of gaining the indulgence. 3. It is necessary to perform in person and with devotion all the good works enjoined as to time, manner, end, etc., according to the terms in which the indulgence is granted.
To gain plenary indulgences, confession, communion, a visit to some church or public oratory, and pious prayers are usually prescribed. If visits to a church are prescribed, holy communion may be received in any church, but the indulgence prayer must be said in that church in which the indulgence is granted, and on the prescribed day. As to prayers, it is recommended that there be said seven times the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, and Creed.
Prayer for gaining an Indulgence.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, graciously accept the petitions of Thy holy Church, that Thou wouldst deliver her from all adversities, root out from her all heresies, unite all Christian rulers and princes, and exalt Thy holy Church on earth, that we may all serve Thee in peace and quitness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.