Caligula's Got Nothing on This Crowd
by Thomas A. Droleskey
Although I noted in the revised reflection on the priestly life of Father John Joseph "Jackie Boy" Sullivan that I had walked out of my beloved and long since demolished William A. Shea Municipal Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Borough of Queens, City of New York, New York, on Tuesday, July 16, 2002, because of vulgar advertising and because of the barbarism of so many people, including those who sat in the field level seats that were close to the playing field, one does not need to go to a baseball park to find examples of barbarism. We live in the midst of barbarians.
We see barbarians in the supermarket when we shop for groceries. Naked people push carts as they eat foot from bags before they bother to pay for it. Men and women display tattoos that are meant to show us their entire bodies have been so mutilated tote along children who are in various states of undress, some of these children sporting various sorts of body "armor." Checkout clerks sport tatoos. Women who must be in the seventies, if not eighties, sport tattoos Vulgar, profane, obscene words are uttered openly in the course of normal conversation. And the constant din of that noise from Hell called "rock music" caters to the disturbances that have already so agitate the souls of these barbarians who are, at least in large measure, the products of world that is devoid of the Actual Graces that have been denied to them by the sacramentally barren liturgical rites of the counterfeit church of conciliarism.
A trip to the post office can be fraught with various moral and cultural horrors. Crudities abound. Even the simple act of naturalistic decency of holding the door open for someone behind you has gone the way of men wearing their hats and tipping them at women (or men rising when a woman or a person of importance, such as a cleric, sits down at a table in a restaurant). The simple act of looking at another human being and acknowledging their humanity with a simple hello has been replaced with deliberate efforts on the part of many people to avoid looking at others.
One can never be sure in a restaurant if the party seated nearby will not speak about vulgar, indecent topics, no less doing so in an openly obscene manner, even if the party consists of a mother and father and their children, most of whom are exposed to the horrors of the popular culture that has assaulted their innocence and natural psychological resistance to topics regarding moral purity, an assault that has been reinforced by the concentration camps that are public indoctrination centers (schools). Most of these people invite the devil into their homes by means of television and digital video discs (DVDs) and the noise of "rock music." Why shouldn't they speak openly in public about how their spend their leisure time at the gates of Hell itself.
Freaks walk our streets. People without any sense of personal shame dye their hair to alter their appearance, some for the sake of vanity, many others for the sake of going along with some "fad" or to imitate whichever cultural "idol" happens to direct their passions at that time. I saw a woman who must have been in her seventies, mind you, who had dyed the top of her hair purple. The rest of her hair was dyed an unnatural shade of black. She looked like a Goth. Yes, the Goths are all around us.
This is all very reminiscent of a passage in Father A. J. O'Reilly's The Martyrs of the Coliseum describing the decadence of Christians, mind you, in the middle of the Third Century during a lull during the during persecutions that had been visited upon them by the various Roman emperors dating back to the sustained effort begun by Nero in the year 67 A.D.:
The hour of sunshine and peace is now drawing to a
close, and the year 250 opened, even on its first day with one of the
most terrible persecutions that the Church had suffered. The
blessings and repose of peace had relaxed the morals of the Christians,
and it pleased Almighty God to purify them once more by the fire of
persecution. The great Bishop of Carthage, who was secreted in
exile during the few months that the storm raged, describes the sad
causes that drew once more the terrible sword over the Christian
community. “Almighty God,” says the great doctor, “wished to prove His
family; for the blessings of a long peace had corrupted the divine
discipline given to us; our sleeping and prostrate faith roused, if I
may so to speak, the celestial anger. And although we deserved more for
our sins, yet the clement and merciful Lord so acted that what has
passed has been more a probation than a persecution. The whole
world was wrapt in temporal interests, and the Christians forgot the
glorious things that were done in the days of the apostles; instead of
rivalling their brilliant example, they burned with the desire of the
empty riches of the world, and strained every nerve to increase their
wealth. Piety and religion were banished from the lives of the priests,
and fidelity and integrity were no longer found in the ministers of the
altar; charity and discipline of morals were no longer visible in their
flocks. The men combed their beards, and the women
painted their faces; their very eyes were tinted, and their hair told a
lie. To deceive the simple, they used fraud and subtlety, and even
Christians deceived each other by knavery and underhanded dealing. They
intermarried with unbelievers and prostituted the members of Jesus
Christ to pagans. They scoffed at their prelates in their pride, and
they tore each other to pieces with envenomed tongues, and seemed to
destroy each other with a fatal hatred. They despised the simplicity and
humility demanded by faith, and permitted themselves to be guided by
the impulses of worthless vanity; they contemned the world only in
words. Did we not deserve, then, the dreadful horrors of persecution
that have burst upon us?” (Father A. J. O'Reilly's The Martyrs the Coliseum.)
Sounds very much like our own
time today, does it not? We deserve the same sort of punishment that
befell our ancestors in the Faith from the middle of the Third Century
A.D. to the Edict of Milan in the year 313 A.D. We should be grateful
for this punishment as a sign of God's merciful love for us. After all,
how long will God permit us to consider the killing of innocent preborn
babies, both by chemical and surgical means, as a regrettable fact of
daily live and that it is "no big deal" for one in public life to
support such killing under some "limited" circumstances? We deserve a
punishment for mortgaging the binding precepts of the Divine Positive
Law and the Natural Law to the career interests of professional
politicians, whom Dr. Paul Johnson referred to in his Modern Times as
the "scourge of the Twentieth Century."
The late Dr. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn commented in
his commencement address at Harvard University 365 months ago on the
human tendency, both in the West and in the Soviet-dominated East, to
rely upon politics and social reform as the means to "resolve" the
problems caused by the sin of men:
We have placed too much hope in political and
social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most
precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is
destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the
West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real
crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of
the disease plaguing its main sections.
If humanism were right in declaring that man is
born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed
to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature.
It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the
search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully
get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent,
earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of
moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one
started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human
values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that
assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of
how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only
voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream
It would be retrogression to attach oneself today
to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves
us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. (Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address, June 8, 1978 )
We have been thinking for far
too long in naturalistic terms, believing in the insanity, contrary to right reason and condemned by true pope after true pope, that there is some kind of "political" solution to retard the evils of the day, without realizing that we must be
unapologetically Catholic at all times and in all places without any
The false premises of the Modern civil state
have influenced us so insidiously and so subtly that we are even
unwilling to consider for a moment all of the empirical evidence proving
that no evils have been retarded as a result of our Judeo-Masonic
electoral process wherein we are expected to disregard one candidate's
support for grave evils to defeat another candidate who is said to
support those evils to a greater degree, thereby fulfilling Pope Leo
XIII's prophetic warning in Libertas, June 20, 1888, about what happens to a society when it gets used to the toleration of more and more evils over time:
But, to judge aright, we must acknowledge
that, the more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further is it
from perfection; and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated by
political prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its
justifying cause, the public welfare, requires. Wherefore,
if such tolerance would be injurious to the public welfare, and entail
greater evils on the State, it would not be lawful; for in such case the
motive of good is wanting. And although in the extraordinary
condition of these times the Church usually acquiesces in certain modern
liberties, not because she prefers them in themselves, but because she
judges it expedient to permit them, she would in happier times exercise
her own liberty; and, by persuasion, exhortation, and entreaty would
endeavor, as she is bound, to fulfill the duty assigned to her by God of
providing for the eternal salvation of mankind. One thing, however,
remains always true -- that the liberty which is claimed for all to do
all things is not, as We have often said, of itself desirable, inasmuch
as it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal
Holy Mother Church understands the concrete realities in which her children live. She will make use of whatever institutional arrangements exist to continue her work for the sanctification and salvation of souls. She does so, however, without making any concessions to the false premises of Modernity to which she must accommodate herself in the practical order, never ceasing to proclaim the immutable doctrine of the Social Kingship of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, always attempting to plant the seeds for the conversion of men and their nations to the true Faith, without which there can be no true personal or social order.
We must, therefore, be condemned to live in a world of barbarism as long as men sin openly and unrepentantly as some go so far as to celebrate their sins openly, being remorseful for them only to the extent that it causes them public embarrassment and shame and thus harm to their personal career success. I know of no example of any public figure who has given open scandal expressing sorrow for having offended God and been an obstacle as a result to the salvation of the souls of others. William Jefferson Blythe Clinton? Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Elliot Spitzer? Robert Torricelli? James McGreevey? David Paterson? Roger Clemens? Barry Bonds? Pete Rose? Barney Frank? The list of such figures in the realm of theater of the absurd that is politics in our country of naturalism is vast, surpassed only by the number of such figures who abide in the realm of the theater of the absurd that passes for "entertainment."
Some of these purveyors of public scandal land on their feet repeatedly. And this is what a truly smarmy, despicable member of the United States House of Representatives who hails from the Borough of Brooklyn in the City of New York, New York, a pro-abortion Democrat whose name will be forever linked to that of Caligula himself, Anthony Weiner, hopes will happen to him. It is nothing other than high farce in a living theater of the absurd to see the lowlife pro-abort, pro-perversity, statist pest Anthony Weiner seek advice from none other than William Jeff es on Blythe Clinton about how to retain his House seat without surrendering to the demands of those seeking his resignation.
What is even sadder is that there are millions upon millions of Americans, including Catholics, who are following every development in this tawdry story that is such a telling commentary on a world deprived of the amount of grace that it would have if the conciliar revolutionaries had not turned their apparent authority within the Catholic Church to engineer the destruction of the liturgical rites that are necessary to help souls avoid sin and to grow in virtue and are thus vital to holding up the world.
As I have noted in the past, the world will end when the last true priest dies or is killed, thereby robbing it, the world, of the graces necessary to be sustained. The natural disasters and outbreaks of various plagues, such as is happening now with a new and deadly form of the E-coli infection for which there is no known treatment, are the result of the prevalence of sins that have not been absolved by true priests in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance and for which penitents have not made reparation. More sins are being committed by those who are following the salacious details of the Weiner case as they offend God by dwelling upon the graphic details of topics that no human being should discuss. Even husbands and wives are not free to sin against modesty of speech by degrading the means that God has ordained for the procreation and education of children by engaging in any kind of explicit talk, vulgar or not.
That so few people, including so few Catholics, understand any of this is living proof of how far into the abyss a nation must fall when it is steeped in the naturalistic lies of religious indifferentism and religious liberty and "freedom of press" and "freedom of speech" and "freedom of conscience" that so many "patriots" throw out to defend the "founding principles" of a nation founded by men who believed, whether they knew it or not, in the semi-Pelagian heresy of human self-redemption, that is, we can do anything put our minds to do doing. In modern terms, you see, this is communicated by naturalists of the "left" and the "right" alike as: "We are Americans. We can do anything we put our minds to doing." Pope Gregory XVI prophesied this all in Mirari Vos, August 15, 1832:
13. Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the
Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is
spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible
to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of
religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter,
you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care.
With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one
baptism" may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of
salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the
testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against
Him," and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore
"without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith
whole and inviolate." Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn
into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him
to join his group he always exclaimed: "He who is for the See of Peter is for
me." A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has
been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed Augustine would reply to such
a man: "The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but
of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?"
14. This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and
erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be
maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though
some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage
accrues to religion from it. "But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of
error," as Augustine was wont to say. When all restraints are removed by
which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already
inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly "the bottomless pit" is
open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of
which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of
minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws -- in other
words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows,
even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory
perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion,
license of free speech, and desire for novelty.
15. Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people,
which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified
to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and
wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in
weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds
from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they
contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently
compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth.
Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope
that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be
distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is
available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again?
16. The Church has always taken action to destroy the plague of bad books.
This was true even in apostolic times for we read that the apostles themselves
burned a large number of books. It may be enough to consult the laws of the
fifth Council of the Lateran on this matter and the Constitution which Leo X
published afterwards lest "that which has been discovered advantageous for the
increase of the faith and the spread of useful arts be converted to the contrary
use and work harm for the salvation of the faithful." This also was of great
concern to the fathers of Trent, who applied a remedy against this great evil by
publishing that wholesome decree concerning the Index of books which contain
false doctrine. "We must fight valiantly," Clement XIII says in an
encyclical letter about the banning of bad books, "as much as the matter itself
demands and must exterminate the deadly poison of so many books; for never will
the material for error be withdrawn, unless the criminal sources of depravity
perish in flames." Thus it is evident that this Holy See has always striven,
throughout the ages, to condemn and to remove suspect and harmful books. The
teaching of those who reject the censure of books as too heavy and onerous a
burden causes immense harm to the Catholic people and to this See. They are even
so depraved as to affirm that it is contrary to the principles of law, and they
deny the Church the right to decree and to maintain it. (Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, August 15, 1832.)
Millions of people now are drinking the deadly poison by following every new detail of the Weiner case, listening to the blathering naturalists on the radio and consuming their time by watching commentators lose their immortal souls and serve as incentives to their audience to commit one sin of another. It is enough to say that the creep from Brooklyn engaged in immoral behavior and that he is unfit to serve in any office, whether elected or appointed, and that it will be determined in due course if he committed these moral crimes while using his Congressional office space and communications systems. That is enough. Unfortunately, that is not enough for those who want the salacious details, who send various "text" messages to others about the latest developments The "people" have a voracious appetite for such details.
Lost on the "people" is the fact that in a just world governed by Catholic principles Anthony Weiner would not be serving in any government position, whether elected or appointed, because he supports all manner of grave evils under cover of the civil law by using the slogans of "rights," "choice," "liberty," "women's health." It's really very simple. If you don't get the Fifth Commandment right, you are likely not to even want to get the Sixth and Ninth Commandments right. And Anthony Weiner does not get the Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Commandments right because he worships in a false religion, Talmudism, that is hated by God even though it is so highly esteemed by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and his band of Judaizers in the counterfeit church of conciliarism. Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI gets the First, Second and Third Commandments just as wrong as does Anthony Weiner.
A world informed by Catholic truth would not be characterized by large numbers of people who spend most of their waking hours, including the time they spend at work and while driving and while sitting with others in social gatherings, such as at a restaurant, engaged in "text messaging" and creating "Facebook" and "Twitter" accounts for their "followers" to know every detail of their lives on an almost minute-by-minute basis. How sad it is that so many presbyters in the conciliar structures have "pages" on these and similar sites and that not a few of those who do so "chat" in terms almost identical to that of Anthony Weiner and his "followers." Men who have lost the sense of personal sin come to make their peace with "new realities," including the gravity, if any, of unnatural and natural sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments (see Memo To Howard Hubbard: Public Scandal Is Never A Private Matter).
These networks, which should be called antisocial, not "social," networks, provide endless opportunities for married men and women to interact with members of the opposite gender who are not their spouses. Most people, including most Catholics, do not understand that part of the Sixth Commandment is maintaining emotional fidelity to one's spouse that absolutely excludes any form of close "friendship" with members of the opposite gender, no less to engage in almost constant communication with such "friends" or, in the case of the antisocial networks, "followers."
Human nature is what it is. Men are naturally attracted to women. Women are naturally attracted to men. It is part of the nature of things that emotional ties develop between men and women if they see or communicate with each constantly, no less to discuss matters of personal purity at all and, all too frequently, in the most vulgar crude manner possible so as to incite others to sinful thoughts or acts.
A few readers now and again suggest that this should have its own "page" on one or more of the antisocial networking sites, that such sites could promote my e-book on weight loss, There Is No Shortcut to Cure This Condition: A Catholic Man's Lifelong Battle of the Bulge. No thank you. Our Lady will send whoever she wants to this site, which is why I do not advertise or promote it any way at all. Those who find this site will either find it of use or they will not. They will either like or they will not. It would be pointless to "force" people into viewing a site whose articles might scare them away at first glance, which is why we simply rely upon Our Lady to direct "traffic" this way.
My time is pretty occupied in doing the work of this site and managing my duties of state. E-mail consumes more than enough of my time as it is, something that some insistent (I was going to use the word "pesty") correspondents do not want to accept, believing that I can make time to engage them in colloquies that I did not start, do not want and have no time whatsoever to undertake. Some actually get pretty offended. Ready access to "instant communications" at one's leisure leads many people into thinking that other people should have the same amount of time as they do to communicate, getting really hot and bothered when they don't hear back, sometimes becoming very angry if a correspondent says in very blunt terms that he has a life to live.
Yes, we have lives to live. They are meant to be lived in our families, not in a "virtual" space online where so many sins against the virtues are committed on an unceasing basis. The time wasted even on these antisocial networks by single people or by those whose children are grown is better spent reading books about the lives of the saints or, most especially, by praying more Rosaries.
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is merciful. He gives those of us who have offended against modesty in speech in any way, including on matters pertaining to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, opportunities to reform our ways over the course of time as we cooperate with the graces He won for us on Calvary by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday that flows through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces, and as we make reparation for our many sins to Him through His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We do not deserve the tender mercies of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus that stand ready to forgive us and then to embrace us as repentant sinners desirous of seeking only Heaven and weeping over our descent into sins that proliferate in a world where He is not recognized by men and their nations as King and His Most Blessed Mother is not honored as Queen.
We must, therefore, pray for Anthony Weiner and his wife, who is expecting their first child, to convert to the true Faith. Nothing is impossible with God. We must remember that Darkened Souls Can Be Made White As Snow. No prayer is ever wasted. Not even for the likes of Anthony Weiner. And not even for the likes of each one of us who need to remember how much we owe because of our own sins.
In the midst of all of this, of course, we must have recourse to Our Lady, especially by means of her Most Holy Rosary and of total consecration to her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, grateful for the fact that we have access to the tender mercies of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance as we try to root out vice and withdraw quite readily from a world that makes Caligula look like a candidate for sainthood. Indeed, Caligula's got nothing on the crowd who consume the public attention in this anti-Incarnational world of naturalism.
The chastisements of the present moment will pass. The final victory belongs to Christ the King through the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Queen. In this we must never doubt.
Consider these words spoken to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour, Christ the King, Himself:
"I will reign in spite of all who oppose Me." (quoted in: The Right Reverend Emile Bougaud. The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers in 1990, p. 361.)
May we never stand in opposition to the Social Reign of Christ the King and to Mary our Immaculate Queen by succumbing to the allure of naturalist talk shows and the agitations represented by the latest "news cycle."
Yes, isn't it time to get rid of your television and end your cable/satellite subscription now? Isn't it time to turn off the blathering idiots of naturalism who makes oodles and oodles of money from their radio programs and "premium" websites?
It is time to pray a Rosary now, is it not?
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori on Scandal
Sunday Sermon for the Second Sunday after Easter
THE wolves that catch and scatter the sheep of Jesus Christ are the authors of scandal, who, not content with their own destruction, labour to destroy others. But the Lord says: ”Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh." (Matt, xviii. 7.) Woe to him who gives scandal, and causes others to lose the grace of God. Origen says, that “a person who impels another to sin, sins more grievously than the other." If, brethren, there be any among you who has given scandal, I will endeavour this day to convince him of the evil he has done, that he may bewail it and guard against it for the future. I will show, in the first point, the great displeasure which the sin of scandal gives to God; and, in the second, the great punishment which God threatens to inflict on the authors of scandal.
First Point. On the great displeasure which the sin of scandal gives to God.
1. It is, in the first place, necessary to explain what is meant by scandal. Behold how St. Thomas defines it: “Scandal is a word or act which gives occasion to the ruin of one's neighbour." (2 ii., q. 45, art. 1.) Scandal, then, is a word or act by which you are to your neighbour the cause or occasion of losing his soul. It may be direct or indirect. It is direct, when you directly tempt or induce another to commit sin. It is indirect, when, although you foresee that sinful words or actions will be the cause of sin to another, you do not abstain from them. But, scandal, whether it be direct or indirect, if it be in a matter of great moment, is always a mortal sin.
2. Let us now see the great displeasure which the destruction of a neighbour’s soul gives to God. To understand it, we must consider how dear every soul is to God. Ho has created the souls of all men to his own image. “Let us make man to our image and likeness." (Gen. i. 26.) Other creatures God has made by a fiat by an act of his will; but the soul of man he has created by his own breath. "And the Lord breathed into his face the breath of life." (Gen. ii. 7.) The soul of your neighbour God has loved for eternity. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jer. xxxi. 3.) He has, moreover, created every soul to be a queen in Paradise, and to be a partner in his glory. “That by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter i. 4.) In heaven he will make the souls of the saints partakers of his own joy. ”Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matt. xxv. 21. To them he shall give himself as their reward. “I am thy reward exceeding great." (Gen. xv. 1.)
3. But nothing can show the value which God sets on the souls of men more clearly than what the Incarnate Word has done for their redemption from sin and hell. ”If," says St. Eucharius, ”you do not believe your Creator, ask your Redeemer, how precious you are." Speaking of the care which we ought to have of our brethren, St. Ambrose says: ”The great value of the salvation of a brother is known from the death of Christ." We judge of the value of everything by the price paid for it by an intelligent purchaser. Now, Jesus Christ has, according to the Apostle, purchased the souls of men with his own blood. ”You are bought with a great price." (1 Cor. vi. 20.) We can, then, say, that the soul is of as much value as the blood of a God. Such, indeed, is the language of St. Hilary”Tam copioso munere redemptio agitur, ut homo Deum valere videatur." Hence, the Saviour tells us, that whatsoever good or evil we do to the least of his brethren, we do to himself. ”So long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." (Matt. xxv. 40.)
4. From all this we may infer how great is the displeasure given to God by scandalizing a brother, and destroying his soul. It is enough to say, that they who give scandal rob God of a child, and murder a soul, for whose salvation he has spent his blood and his life. Hence, St. Leo calls the authors of scandals murderers. "Quisquis scandalizat, mortem infert animæ proximi." They are the most impious of murderers; because they kill not the body, but the soul of a brother, and rob Jesus Christ of all his tears, of his sorrows, and of all that he has done and suffered to gain that soul. Hence the Apostle says: "Now, when you sin thus against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." (1 Cor. viii. 12.) They who scandalize a brother, sin against Christ; because, as St. Ambrose says, they deprive him of a soul for which he has spent so many years, and submitted to so many toils and labours. It is related, that B. Albertus Magnus spent thirty years in making a head, which resembled the human head, and uttered words: and that St. Thomas, fearing that it was done by the agency of the devil, took the head and broke it. B. Albertus complained of the act of St. Thomas, saying: "You have broken on me the work of thirty years." I do not assert that this is true; but it is certain that, when Jesus Christ sees a soul destroyed by scandal, he can reprove the author of it, and say to him: Wicked wretch, what have you done? You have deprived me of this soul, for which I have laboured thirty-three years.
5. We read in the Scriptures, that the sons of Jacob, after having sold their brother Joseph to certain merchants, told his father that wild beasts had devoured him. ”Fera pessima devoravit eum." (Gen. xxxvii. 20.) To convince their father of the truth of what they said, they dipped the coat of Joseph in the blood of a goat, and presented it to him, saying: "See whether this be thy son‟s coat or not”(v. 32). In reply, the afflicted father said with tears: ”It is my son‟s coat: an evil wild beast hath eaten him”(v. 33). Thus, we may imagine that, when a soul is brought into sin by scandal, the devils present to God the garment of that soul dipped in the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, Jesus Christ that is, the grace lost by that scandalized soul, which Jesus Christ had purchased with his blood and that they say to the Lord: “See whether this be thy son's coat or not." If God were capable of shedding tears, he would weep more bitterly than Jacob did, at the sight of that lost soul his murdered child and would say: ”It is my son's coat: an evil wild beast hath eaten him." The Lord will go in search of this wild beast, saying: "Where is the beast? where is the beast that has devoured my child ?" When he finds the wild beast, what shall he do with him?
6. "I will," says the Lord by his prophet Osee, "meet them as a bear that is robbed of her whelps." (Osee xiii. 8.) When the bear comes to her den, and finds not her whelps, she goes about the wood in search of the person who took them away. When she discovers the person, oh! with what fury does she rush upon him! It is thus the Lord shall rush upon the authors of scandal, who have robbed him of his children. Those who have given scandal, will say: My neighbour is already damned; how can I repair the evil that has been done? The Lord shall answer: Since you have been the cause of his perdition, you must pay me for the loss of his soul. "I will require his blood at thy hands." (Ezec. iii. 20.) It is written in Deuteronomy, "Thou shalt not pity him, but shalt require life for life" (xix. 21). You have destroyed a soul; you must suffer the loss of your own. Let us pass to the second point.
Second Point. The great punishment which God threatens to those who give scandal.
7. ”Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh." (Matt, xviii. 7.) If the displeasure given to God by scandal be great, the chastisement which awaits the authors of it must be frightful. Behold how Jesus Christ speaks of this chastisement: ”But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a mill-stone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt, xviii. 6.) If a malefactor dies on the scaffold, he excites the compassion of the spectators, who, at least, pray for him, if they cannot deliver him from death. But, were he cast into the depths of the sea, there should be no one present to pity his fate. A certain author says, that Jesus Christ threatens the person who scandalizes a brother with this sort of punishment, to signify that he is so hateful to the angels and saints, that they do not wish to recommend to God the man who has brought a soul to perdition. "He is declared unworthy not only to be assisted, but even to be seen." (Mansi. cap. iii. num. 4.)
8. St. John Chrysostom says, that scandal is so abominable in the eyes of God, that though he overlooks very grievous sins, he cannot allow the sin of scandal to pass without condign punishment. "Tam Deo horribile est scandalum, ut peccata graviora dissimulet non autem peccata ubi frater scandalizatur." God himself says the same by the prophet Ezechiel: "Every man of the house of Israel, if he ... set up the stumbling block of his iniquity ... I will make him an example and a proverb, and will cut him off from the midst of my people." (Ezec. xiv. 7, 8.) And, in reality, scandal is one of the sins which we find in the sacred Scriptures punished by God with the greatest rigour. Of Heli, because he did not correct his sons, who gave scandal by stealing the flesh offered in sacrifice (for parents give scandal, not only by giving bad example, but also by not correcting their children as they ought), the Lord said: "Behold, I do a thing in Israel: and whosoever shall hear it, both his ears shall tingle." (1 Kings, iii. 11.) And speaking of the scandal given by the sons of Heli, the inspired writer says: "Wherefore the sin of the young men was exceeding great before the Lord." (Ibid. ii. 17.) What was this sin exceeding great? It was, says St. Gregory, in explaining this passage, drawing others to sin. "Quia ad pecandum alios pertrahebant." Why was Jeroboam chastised? Because he scandalized the people: he”hath sinned, and made Israel sin." (3 Kings, xiv. 16.) In the family of Achab, all the members of which were the enemies of God, Jezabel was the most severely chastised. She was thrown down from a window, and devoured by dogs, so that nothing remained but her”skull, and the feet, and the extremities of her hands." And why was she so severely punished? Because "she set Achab on to every evil."
9. For the sin of scandal hell was created. "In the beginning God created heaven and earth." (Gen. i.1.) But, when did he create hell? It was then Lucifer began to seduce the angels into rebellion against God. Lest he should continue to pervert those who remained faithful to God, he was banished from heaven immediately after his sin. Hence Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees, who, by their bad example, scandalized the people, that they were children of the devil, who was from the beginning, a murderer of souls. ”You are of your father, the devil: he was a murderer from the beginning." (John viii. 44.) And when St. Peter gave scandal to Jesus Christ, by suggesting to him not to allow his life to be taken away by the Jews, and thus endeavouring to prevent the accomplishment of redemption, the Redeemer called him a devil. ”Go behind me, Satan; thou art a scandal to me." (Matt. xvi. 23.) And, in reality, what other office do the authors of scandal perform, than that of a minister of the devil? If he were not assisted by such impious ministers, he certainly would not succeed in gaining so many souls. A scandalous companion does more injury than a hundred devils.
10. On the words of Ezechias, "Behold, in peace is my bitterness most bitter" (Isa. xxxviii. 17), St. Bernard, in the name of the Church, says: “Peace from pagans, peace from heretics, but no peace from children." At present the Church is not persecuted by idolaters, or by heretics, but she is persecuted by scandalous Christians, who are her own children. In catching birds, we employ decoys, that is, certain birds that are blinded, and tied in such manner that they cannot fly away. It is thus the devil acts. “When," says St. Ephrem, "a soul has been taken, she becomes a snare to deceive others." After having made a young man fall into sin, the enemy first blinds him as his own slave, and then makes him his decoy to deceive others; and to draw them into the net of sin, he not only impels, but even forces him to deceive others. “The enemy," says St. Leo, ”has many whom he compels to deceive others." (Serm. de Nativ.)
11. Miserable wretches! the authors of scandal must suffer in hell the punishment of all the sins they have made others commit. Cesarius relates (1. 2, c. vi.) that, after the death of a certain person who had given scandal, a holy man witnessed his judgment and condemnation, and saw that, at his arrival at the gate of hell, all the souls whom he had scandalized came to meet him, and said to him: Come, accursed wretch, and atone for all the sins which you have made us commit. They then rushed in upon him, and like so many wild beasts, began to tear him in pieces. St. Bernard says, that, in speaking of other sinners, the Scriptures hold out hopes of amendment and pardon; but they speak of those who give scandal as persons separated from God, of whose salvation there is very little hope. ”Lo quitur tanquam a Deo separati, unde hisce nulla spes vitæ esse poterit."
12. Behold, then, the miserable state of those who give scandal by their bad example, who utter immodest words before their companions, in the presence of young females, and even of innocent children, who, in consequence of hearing those words, commit a thousand sins. Considering how the angel-guardians of those little ones weep at seeing them in the state of sin, and how they call for vengeance from God against the sacrilegious tongues that have scandalized them. A great chastisement awaits all who ridicule those who practise virtue. For many, through fear of the contempt and ridicule of others, abandon virtue, and give themselves up to a wicked life. What shall be the punishment of those who bring messages to induce others to sin? or of those who boast of their own wicked actions? God! instead of weeping and repenting for having offended the Lord, they rejoice and glory in their iniquities! Some advise others to commit sin; others induce them to it; and some, worse than
the devils, teach others how to sin. What shall we say of fathers and mothers, who, though it is in their power to prevent the sins of their children, allow them to associate with bad companions, or to frequent certain dangerous houses, and permit their daughters to hold conversations with young men? Oh! with what scourges shall we see such persons chastised on the day of judgment!
13. Perhaps some father of a family among you will say: Then, I am lost because I have given scandal? Is there no hope of salvation for me? No: I will not say that you are past hope the mercy of God is great. He has promised pardon to all who repent. But, if you wish to save your soul, you must repair the scandal you have given. "Let him," says Eusebius Emmissenus, “who has destroyed himself by the destruction of many, redeem himself by the edification of many." (Hom. x. ad Mon.) You have lost your soul, and have destroyed the souls of many by your scandals. You are now bound to repair the evil. As you have hitherto drawn others to sin, so you are bound to draw them to virtue by words of edification, by good example, by avoiding sinful occasions, by frequenting the sacraments, by going often to the church to pray, and by attending sermons. And from this day forward avoid, as you would death, every act and word which could scandalize others. "Let their own ruin," says St. Cyprian, ”suffice for those who have fallen." (Lib. 1, epis. iii.) And St. Thomas of Villanova says: "Let your own sins be sufficient for you." What evil has Jesus Christ done to you that it is not enough for you to have offended him yourselves, but you wish to make others offend him? This is an excess of cruelty.
14. Be careful, then, never again to give the smallest scandal. And if you wish to save your soul, avoid as much as possible those who give scandal. These incarnate devils shall be damned; but, if you do not avoid them, you will bring yourself to perdition. “Woe to the world because of scandals," says the Lord (Matt. xviii. 7), that is, many are lost because they do not fly from occasions of scandal. But you may say: Such a person is my friend; I am under obligations to him; I expect many favours from him. But Jesus Christ says: ”If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. It is better for thee, having one eye, to enter into life, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire." (Matt, xviii. 9.) Although a certain person was your right eye, you must withdraw for ever from her; it is better for you to lose an eye and save your soul, than to preserve it and be cast into hell. (Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year by St Alphonsus Liguori: Second Sunday after Easter; to listen an eloquent recording of this sermon by a much hated and caricatured personage, please see "Save Thy Soul" archive of the Traditional Catholic Sermons website, finding this sermon of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori under the listing for the Second Sunday after Easter.)