August 6, 2017
FROM a sermon on The Transfiguration of Jesus by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876:
THE garments which clothe our soul, are the good works which we practise, according to our station in life. If each one of these were performed with the purest intention, and were free from every stain of imperfection, what an adornment they would prove to be, how they would embellish the soul, and what a gain they would be for heaven! Unfortunately this is seldom the case. There are few of our works whose brightness is untarnished by sin.
We will consider today, particularly, the stains which deface our daily works, and meditate upon the best means of avoiding and guarding against them. Mary, thou who, according to Holy Writ, standest robed in garments of gold, before the throne of the Most High, thou, purest of the pure, in thought and deed, grant that we, taught and guided by thee, may gain strength to free ourselves from every stain of imperfection and sin! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God.
St. John, speaking in the Apocalypse of the saints in heaven, says: “They were clothed in white robes.” These white garments and these shining, precious material of which they are made, says he, are righteousness and good works. This material is made up principally of our daily works. For, in order to become holy it is not necessary to perform great and astonishing outward deeds. The Almighty has not chosen or called every one for such a career; hence every one has not received the divine grace which it requires. As to those great works of which we read in the lives of the saints, they were not the means of making them what they were; it was, rather, the perfection with which they performed their daily duties which made them so rich in merit.
A friend of St. Francis de Sales used to say of this saint, that he did nothing unusual, and yet all that he did seemed unusual, on account of the perfect manner in which it was performed. And what are the stains which cling to our daily works and deface them, and often even totally destroy them, by robbing them of all merit for the life to come? They are these:
First, the stain of indolence, arising from a want of energy to rise early, and always at the same time, in order to say our morning prayers and to implore God to protect and bless us during the day. All who are indolent in rising, who begin the day slothfully and without devout, earnest prayer, stain thus early in the morning the robes of their soul.
The second stain on the robe of our daily works, is want of a pure intention to live that day only to fulfill the will of God, and to do all that we do for Him alone. We seek too much after self, and are too often actuated by the temporal motive of gaining wealth, honor, or enjoyment. This want of a pure in tention is a stain on the white garment of our daily work.
Further, this robe is soiled by an ill-regulated performance of the duties of our state of life. We act either too sluggishly or too precipitatedly, with reluctance and through habit. We enter upon our daily duties without raising our minds to God, and, during the day, forget His holy presence. Instead, we often, without reflection or precaution, seek company and dissipation, fritter away our time in idle conversation, and, of course, sully our robe with many sins of the tongue. Who can count the sins that are daily committed by piously-inclined persons through want of a proper guard over their tongues?
Another abundant source of stains on our good works is want of charity. Under this head may be classed cutting remarks, unkind accusations and reproaches, often accompanied with contemptuous and offensive bearing. Then we contract stains by omitting to labor at the instruction and improvement of others, and, in general, to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy. There are, besides, stains of rash suspicions and judgments, and even of participation in petty backbiting and calumny. I must not forget jealousy, envy, and general narrowness.
Stains in abundance fall on our daily actions from a want of trite love for the cross. Hence comes peevishness, hence impatience, that almost tears our good deeds to tatters. This is especially the case when, through want of love for the cross, man is tempted to murmur against divine Providence, or to submit unwillingly to the decrees of the Almighty.
To these may also be added the spots which arise from obstinacy, selfishness, conceit, presumption, and the want of mortification, a virtue without which life can not be truly holy. In conclusion, the luster of our daily works is stained, and the robe of our soul discolored by our carelessness in preventing temptations from approaching us, or by our sloth in banishing them as soon as they draw nigh.
What a subject for self-examination is all I have just said to yon, my dear listener! How many imperfections, think you, blemish the record of your good works?
As St. Ignatius assures us, the means of freeing ourselves from these imperfections lie in the unremitting exercise of particular examination, or the so-called special daily examine of conscience. Resolve that, from today, you will examine earnestly and faithfully your conscience, and will choose, as subject of your examine, one after the other, all the points I have placed before you. Then the robes of your good works, gradually cleansed from all imperfection, will become more and more white, until you will shine, clothed in most radiant garments, in the community of the saints! Amen!
We are admonished by the transfiguration of Christ upon Mount Tabor, that we who have been enlightened by the Saviour, instructed by His Word, guided and encouraged by His example, must not be satisfied with living as a man among men a purely human life. Destined, as we are, for a supernatural aim and end, we must endeavor to lead here upon earth the life of the blessed, in heaven, the life of angels, in accordance with the words of the great Apostle: “But our conversation is in heaven.” And further, we must live in this world, shrouded in the night of sin, in such a manner as to become a light to others.
If we live thus, we shall secure, even in this world, genuine happiness; and we shall be intensely happy if we make our spiritual abode in the three places which, as I conceive, figure the three tabernacles that St. Peter wished to build upon Mount Tabor. These, if we are in earnest, are here upon earth in our possession, in the sanctuary of the Church.
They are: The pulpit, the confessional the altar. [cont.]
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized