Bread and fish

Loaves of bread and two fishes in a basket.

In the Gospel for this week we read of the miracle which our Blessed Lord wrought when He fed the hungry and fainting people who had gathered round Him with the five loaves and two fishes. As is usually the case He made use of the labor and the offerings of one of them, that by means of these He might relieve and bless them all.

In this case it was a lad who was thus highly honored. He had taken the trouble to bring these loaves and fishes with him, but he could hardly have done so merely for his own sake. Indeed, if he had been thinking of himself only he would scarcely have provided so much food.

Might not I, like that lad, spare a little of my pocket money for the relief of the poor, and for the work of the Church both at home and abroad? Isn’t it fair to ask whether there none whom I can teach, or encourage, or comfort? At least, may I not strive, by my influence and example, to help others who are younger than myself?

Perhaps I think cannot do much. The lad who brought the loaves and fishes did not do much, and most likely could not have done much. His loaves and fishes were but few, and the loaves were only barley loaves. But he did what he could; and, if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that any one hath, and not according to that he hath not. We must not, like the servant in our Lord’s parable, to whom only one talent had been committed, suppose that, because our means and opportunity of doing good are small we need not, therefore, attempt to do anything at all.

In our Lord’s own description of the Day of Judgment the only reason alleged why those who are bidden to enter, as the blessed of His Father, into His everlasting kingdom receive that invitation is that they had been kind to their fellows for His sake. The only reason alleged why those on the left hand are bidden to depart into the everlasting fire is that they had done nothing for any except themselves.


O Lord Jesu Christ, help me to be obedient to Thy commandment, that I may be the means of doing good to others in this life, and so may rejoice with them in Thine everlasting glory hereafter. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

The Fourth Sunday is roughly the mid-point of Lent, and the Church has always thought that we might need a bit of cheer just about now. So the austerity of the season and the purple of penance give way, for just this one Sunday, to the “rose” color.

The Fourth Sunday is also Mothering Sunday—English Mothers’ Day—a day of family visits and baking simnel cakes to take to mom, suggested a just a bit by the Epistle lesson about those two Old Testament mothers, Sarah and Hagar, who represent our two mothers, the Jerusalem that is and the heavenly Jerusalem that is to come.

Another name for today is Refreshment Sunday, and the reference is not to the simnel cake, but to the Gospel story of the feeding of the five thousand. C. S. Lewis calls this of the feeding of the five thousand with the bread and the fishes a miracle of the old creation. Jesus used natural objects-bread and fish-to feed a mixed crowd of believers and unbelievers in a supernatural use of the things of the natural world.


Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

Charity is not merely almsgiving, but loving-kindness in general. It brightens the gloom of life, and sweetens its cares. It is a blessing to those who feel and exercise it, and a blessing to those to whom it is shown. It makes those happy who are the objects of it, and thrice happy does it make those who by means of it render others happy. It is the bond of perfectness, according to St. Paul; (Col. iii. 14) and again he speaks of it as greater than hope, greater even than faith. For it makes men like unto God, and so qualifies them for admission to His presence, and for communion with Himself for evermore. As selfishness is the root of all sin, so charity is the crown of all goodness.

We all value most highly that which is more especially characteristic of ourselves. A strong man is apt to set a high value on strength. A clever man is likely to value especially intellectual ability. Those who are wealthy or of high rank think that these are of the greatest consequence. In like manner, charity is especially pleasing unto God, because God is love.

In the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ it was not the more suffering that was pleasing unto God the Father, but the love stronger than agony and death which those sufferings disclose. When He sees the charity which makes us more and more like unto Himself growing within us, then we too are well-pleasing unto Him in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Whence does this gift of charity come? It is the special grace of the Holy Ghost. It is the first-fruit of His work within us. It must be prayed for, and strengthened by exercise. It must also be tempered by discretion, and exercised wisely. The brightness, the comfort, the happiness, which by means of this “kind good humour” each one, even the youngest, may shed around him cannot be estimated. “Little children, love one another.”


O Lord Jean Christ, who halt taught us to love one another, even as we are loved by Thee; grant me, I beseech Thee, this grace of charity, that having lived in love here on earth I may be fitted for Thy kingdom, where love alone endures, there to reign with Thee, world without end. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

O beware my lord of jealousy (Negative image)
Jealousy is cruel as the grave; and envy again is a form of sin which is alike foolish and wrong. Envy is foolish, for the envious cannot be really happy; and wrong, for we ourselves cannot but condemn it as such. Sins such as these have their root and starting-point in pride.

No one will be jealous of another who is more highly praised than himself, or who receives more notice and attention than himself, unless he is proud, and expects everyone to admire and praise him alone. Again, no one will be envious of the greater prosperity or greater success of another, unless he is vain enough to think that no one deserves prosperity or success so much as himself.

Jealousy and envy involve, in fact, a feeling of complaint against Divine Providence. The jealous and the envious alike fly in the face of God, and find fault with His Divine government of the world.

Both these sins are apt to grow and give birth to sins greater, perhaps, than themselves. No true follower of our Lord Jesus Christ can allow either of these sins to have a place within him long. For the principle of our Lord’s life was one which especially contradicted such faults as these. He was meek and lowly in heart, and He took the form of a servant, although He is the Creator and Lord of all.

Happiness depends upon what we are in ourselves rather than upon what we have in our possession, or upon what station in life we occupy. But for the jealous there is little rest; for the envious there is little peace.

Both are of necessity restlessly anxious lest others should take precedence of themselves, either in place or in the estimation of others. He, therefore, who is wise will endeavour by God’s grace to keep himself free from jealousy and envy. The path of obedience to the will of God is always the way of peace and joy.


O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst humble Thyself for our salvation, and that Thou mightest by Thine example lead us in the way of peace; grant me grace that I may follow in Thy footsteps, and be a partaker of Thy joy, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost art blessed and glorified for ever and ever. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

Ill-temper takes various forms. Some are mere irritability and a hasty temper. Other forms are sullenness and inclination to bear malice against those who supposedly have caused offense. Also included are impatience, being “cross”, and being fretful.
Nobody supposes that those who are ill-tempered render themselves happy by yielding to their ill-temper. On the contrary, everybody will allow that nothing but trouble and unhappiness, both to the ill-tempered and to those around them, can be the result of indulging in ill-temper. Why, then, should people give way to it?

They do so in a measure to gratify themselves. They yield to their feelings, then they assert themselves in unpleasant ways. They maintain, they think, their own part, and show a certain amount of independence. In reality, they have become subject to their temper.

If others are unkind to us, we cannot, of course, help showing that we feel their unkindness. It is desirable that we should show that we feel it. But, we can do this without any feeling of hatred or malice towards them in our hearts. We may hate their unkindness or rudeness, and we may not be able to respect them quite as much as we did before. However, we need not hate them, nor should we refrain from forgiving them.

Mindful of St. Paul’s entreaty not to let the sun go down upon our wrath, we should keep every feeling of anger well under control, lest anger should become a settled feeling of hatred. Anger should, indeed, be rarely allowed to have sway within us, and then only upon just cause.

Our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced His blessing upon the meek, and upon the poor in spirit. He was Himself meek and lowly in heart. He clearly was angry at the unbelief of His fellow countrymen. Yet, even His dying prayer was for those who were putting Him to death. It is this gentle, patient, and forgiving spirit which His disciples must seek to imitate.


Grant me grace, O Lord Jean Christ, that having this Thine example ever before mine eyes I may always endeavour to follow it, and so may please Thee, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory now and for evermore. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Does this benediction apply to me? Assuredly not if my words and deeds are not pure, and assuredly not also if my thoughts and desires are not pure. For it is written that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; and again, that every one that bath this hope, of seeing the Lord Jesus as He is and of being made like unto Him, purifieth himself even as He is pure.

I have been baptized into Christ and made a member of His Body, and therefore a child of God, and a temple of the Holy Ghost; and shall I ruin myself and lose all this great good for the miserable gratification which impurity in thought, or word, or deed. may perhaps afford for the moment, but for the moment only? Shall I receive the grace of God in vain, and deprive myself also of all that God has promised, because I allow myself to be led by others, or by the naughtiness of my own heart, to indulge in a form of evil which I must myself despise, and which will utterly ruin all happiness and peace both now and evermore?

It is hard to fling this temptation from us and to fight unceasingly against it. But whoever shrank from doing what was right and good because it was hard? Let such a one stand aside, for if he cannot take up this cross he cannot be a disciple of Christ the Lord. But if hard, it is not impossible. No, it rests with me, and with me alone, whether I shall be free or not. What must then be done?

Be thoroughly in earnest with yourself in this matter. Do not let your mind dwell on such matters, but resolutely divert your thoughts from them always. Keep from looking at, or listening to, anything which may arouse thoughts of this kind. In all times of temptation pray yet again and again, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” “Give me the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It may be that all this does not concern you. If so thank God, and pray for those to whom it does apply.


O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Hypocrisy is a very hateful fault, inasmuch as it partakes of the nature of untruthfulness. The life of a hypocrite is a continual lie. It is not that he yields under the pressure of temptation to a single act of untruthfulness, but he is himself untrue, a living falsehood. Hypocrisy is hateful in the sight of men; it is still more hateful to God. He is true so He desires truth in the inward parts, (Psalm 51:6) that is, that we should be what we seem to be. He looks not on the outward appearance only, but upon the heart, and He cannot be deceived.

The Lord Jesus nowhere denounces the hateful sins of the publicans and sinners, although He loathed those of them who were unrepentant, as with burning indignation He denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees.
Sometimes, however, people are hypocrites in that they try to make themselves appear worse than they really are. They are afraid of ridicule, or they are ashamed of their religion in the presence of those who do not know its value, or they yield to the natural tendency of human nature to do as others do. So they become guilty of this miserable hypocrisy.

The cause of this are moral cowardice and lack of strength to stand alone. Those who are guilty of it are as babes who cannot stand or walk of themselves, but need to be continually supported by another. Thus, they fail of being true, of being true to God, of being true to their own convictions and standard of right and wrong, and of being true to their sense of duty towards others.

What is the hypocrite’s reward? He gains, perchance, a reputation for goodness, and, perhaps, by means of this, certain material advantages. He relieves himself from being singular, and from the effort and trouble of standing up alone for goodness, purity, or truth. However, he loses self-respect, and that of his companions also, for no one can feel esteem for so poor a creature as such an one is.


O Lord Jesu Christ, grant me honesty and courage, that I may share in Thy victory and have a place also in Thy glory, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls