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Monday

The barren fig-tree on which our Lord passed sentence to-day was typical of the Jewish people, and, besides them, on the many who profess themselves His disciples now. True, the time was not the season of the year in which figs might most naturally be expected to be on a fig-tree. But this being so, why did it have leaves?

The leaves were enough to create an expectation that at least some of the winter figs might be still hanging upon the tree. The tree, however, produced nothing but leaves, plenty of them, but no fruit. No fruit, therefore, was it permitted to yield henceforth and for evermore.

Now, the fig-tree did no harm, but then, again, it did no good. It did not produce any fruit, either hurtful or useful. It was perhaps, to some slight extent, an ornament to the landscape, but it was of no practical use. The hungry looked to it in vain.

How is it with us? We have some means, time, abilities-what fruit are they bearing? Any or none? Are there any who are made happier or better by our respective endeavors? Let each of us think, am I like the barren fig-tree?

Among the parables which our Lord spoke on this day in the temple, the first is of husbandmen to whom had been committed a vineyard, but who used all the fruits of it for themselves. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel.  (Isa. v.7) If that is the case, the individuals of that house were such also, or at least part of the one vineyard.

Again we each face pointed questions. What am I doing with my little part of the vineyard, that is, myself? Am I bringing forth fruit unto God? What is such fruit? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are these the fruits of my life? Am I like these husband-men, ready to cast the only Son out of His own vineyard, that is, out of my heart, that I may keep all for myself, my own indulgence and gratification? It is written of those husbandmen, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” and the sentence was executed on Israel. Let each of us keep that firmly in mind.

Prayer

O God the Holy Ghost, be Thou my guide and helper, I beseech Thee, that through Thy grace I may bring forth good fruit abundantly, and so glorify Thy Name. Amen.

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ANger

There are many things which are not wrong in themselves, but which are emphatically wrong when they are indulged in to excess, or in a self-indulgent and unbridled manner. It is necessary, for example, that we should eat and drink.  To gratify hunger and thirst is, of course, most rea­sonable and right.  However, when any feel inclined to eat or drink more than is needful, then they become guilty of the contemptible sin of gluttony, or of the hateful sin of drunkenness.  This latter sin frequently leads to further wrong-doing, and is the source of so much sorrow and suffering, not only to the drunkard himself, but also to those also whom he should love most dearly.  These are the very ones whom it should be one of his chief purposes in life to shield from distress.

Again, is necessary to rest, but if we are seldom ready for work, or do our work idly and carelessly, we become guilty of slothfulness.

Most faults are a perversion of some virtue.  Violent anger, for example, is an outburst, visited upon the head of someone who has merely offended us.  We may have a lawful feeling of indignation which the sight of cruelty or treachery should at once call us to oppose. However, these feelings and inclinations need to be regulated by the principle of obedience to the law of God through the grace of His Holy Spirit. We should never give the rein to our natural inclina­tions, but quietly yet firmly control them, so as to pre­vent them from hurrying us into folly and sin.

To do this is to exercise the virtue of temperance. “Use this world,” St. Paul says, “but do not abuse it.”  That is, do not use it to excess, but properly and in moderation. Use any good it has to offer, any innocent pleasures it can afford, but use them temperately, knowing that only those who so use them really enjoy them.

Those who abandon themselves to any pursuit or amusement will weary of it.  All things were given us richly to enjoy, but all who are wise will make St. Paul’s resolution their own: “I will not be brought under the power of any.”

Prayer

Grant me, O God, I beseech Thee, wisdom and strength, that I may be temperate in all things, through Jesus Christ our Lard. Amen.

 

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canaanitewoman

DIEU tout-puissant, qui vois que nous n’avons de nous-mêmes nulle force pour nous aider; garde-nous tant extérieurement dans nos corps, et qu’intérieurement dans nos âmes; afin que nous soyons garantis de tous les accidents qui pourraient arriver à nos corps, et de toutes les mauvaises pensées qui pourraient assailir et blesser nos âmes; par Jésus-Christ, notre Seigneur. Amen.

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Saturday in Lent

Maybe the world has to be overcome also in another manner, for there is sometimes a certain amount of good-natured or ill-natured sarcasm and ridicule, together with, perhaps, some unkindness, to be endured by the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The best way, however, to overcome all this is to bear it not only patiently, but cheerfully, and to take every opportunity of showing kindness, in a gentle but manly way, to those from whom it comes. Such evil is best overcome with good.

In another way, the influence of this wicked world has to be guarded against. For the companions by whom one is surrounded will sometimes, if they are wicked enough, do their best to corrupt his mind, and to lead him to forsake what they will probably call his “outdated” notions. He may adopt their more extravagant and, perhaps, more sinful ways. If they fail such will most likely become persecutors, and with sullen dislike will affect to regard as beneath their contempt the lad whom they know they cannot bend to their own purposes. Such companions must of course be avoided as much as possible; and if they cannot be avoided altogether, the evil influences which they will necessarily exert must be very carefully and continually guarded against.

This, then, is, or may at any time be, part of my conflict. It is, of course, disagreeable not to do as others do, to make myself appear singular, or to use and follow religious privileges and observances which I know those about me despise and neglect. If I have thus to endure that I may keep my heart pure and my conscience clear, such endurance is at any rate less hard than basely yielding to temptation would be. For the result of this would be loss of self-respect, and the loss, for a time at any rate, of the grace and blessing of God also.

Prayer

O God, I beseech Thee so to strengthen me that, willingly enduring shame, if need be, I may keep the straight and safe path of obedience to Thy will, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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atonement

We can do nothing to make atonement for our misdoings, or to deserve forgiveness. But God has provided a ransom, He has made the needful atonement, He has rendered the perfect obedience. In Him who has thus redeemed us we are called to put our trust.

The purpose which He had in view in His Incarnation, Temptation, Passion, and Resurrection, was to redeem us from all iniquity. His name, Jesus, testifies that He came to save us from our sins, and not merely from the bitter consequences of them. He cannot save us from these unless He saves us from our sins themselves. The impure must become pure; the ill-tempered, patient and forbearing; the proud, humble and gentle towards all; the selfish, generous, kind, and charitable, or they have little reason to think that they have as yet any part in His salvation.

So, then, real repentance must issue in amendment of life. Plainly our sorrow has not been real, and our confession has not been honest, if we go away and willingly do as we have done before.

Even the most perfect reformation of ourselves would not, however, make full amends to God for any wrong that we have done in disobedience to His commandments; but the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ has made full amends. In His atonement we can have no part, neither can we make adequate amends to God for the wrong we have done to Him. But if we have done any injury or unkindness to anyone else, we must ask his pardon, and seek to be reconciled to him, as also we must be willing to forgive any that have injured us, if we desire to be forgiven by God.

We must also, if we are the wrong-doers, do anything we can do to make reparation for the wrong done, if that is at all possible. If we are really sorry for it, we shall wish to make good the wrong we have done. And if we desire God’s pardon we shall wish to do His will; and His commandment is, that if we have done any wrong to another, then, for love’s sake, we should endeavor to make it good.

Prayer

O Lord Jesu Christ, I humbly beseech Thee to save me from all my sins, and to help me to forgive that I may be forgiven. Amen.

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MISERERE-CONFESSION

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but he whose confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”  God naturally desires and expects that if we are sorry for our sins we shall tell Him that this is so, and also confess to Him the sins and misdoings which have thus made us sorry. He knows what our faults are better than we know ourselves; but nevertheless it is only reasonable that He should require us to acknowledge them before Him if we would obtain forgiveness from Him.

A father asks no less of his child who has disobeyed him: “Only tell me what you have done,” he is likely to say, “and I will forgive you; “and a master expects no less of a servant who has failed in his service. Any one of us, indeed, who has been wronged expects him who did the wrong to acknowledge it if he desires to be reconciled. And shall we treat God with less respect than we demand from one another? He does not wish to worry us if He asks us thus to make confession to Him; it is for our profit no less than for the satisfaction of His honor. “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou halt transgressed against the Lord.”

To do this is a great advantage to ourselves also. For our sins are thus made to pass before our own eyes also, and we also are brought face to face with our faults so that we must thenceforward be aware of them, and know what they are. Again, by confession we also unburden ourselves of our sins before God, and lay them down at the foot of the cross of our Savior, that His blood may wash them all away.

It may be humbling to do this, but that, again, is just what we need. When we have been thoroughly humbled we are spiritually safer. When we have honestly confessed any sin with a true, penitent heart we shall be the less likely to repeat it, and the better able to resist all temptations to yield to it again.

Prayer

Grant me grace, O God, I beseech Thee, with all humility and earnestness to confess my sins unto Thee, that Thou mayest forgive me all my sins, and cleanse me from all unrighteousness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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lent-i

A Prayer for My Parish

Gracious and loving God, we ask you to send
your Holy Spirit upon our parish to fill us
with love. Make us instruments of your love to
everyone that we encounter at home, at work,
in our neighborhoods, and in our parish community.

Work through us so that we can bring your
truth to those who are searching for you.
Help us to grow in gratitude so that we can
recognize and thank you for all the good
things you have given us.

Instill in us a deep sense of generosity so
that we are willing to share our gifts,
our talents, our time, and our treasure.

Deepen our desire to follow your will and to
do all things for your honor and glory.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord
and Savior. Amen.

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