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Sexagesima Sunday


Our Lady of the Rosary Library






Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine’s
The Church’s Year


In the Introit of this day’s Mass, the Church brings before us one who
seeks to be loosed from his sins, and calls on God for help and assistance.
Arise, why sleepest thou , O Lord? arise, and cast us not off to the end:
why turnest thou thy face away, and forgettest our trouble? Our belly hath
cleaved to the earth: arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us. O God, we have
heard with our ears; our Fathers have declared to us. (Ps. XLIII. 23. 25.)
Glory be to the Father, &c.

COLLECT    O God,  who seest that we trust not in aught we do; mercifully grant
that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended
against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.
EPISTLE (II. Cor. XI. 19-33; to XII. 1-9,) Brethren, you gladly suffer the
foolish; whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you

into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be
lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor,
as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak
foolishly), I dare also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so
am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they the ministers of
Christ (I speak as one less wise,) I am more: in many more labors, in
prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.


Of the
Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten
with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a
day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of
waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from
the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils
in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labor and painfulness, in
much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the
solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is
scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of

the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the
governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the
Damascenes to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down
by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient
indeed); but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know
a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in, the body I know not,
or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth): such an one rapt even to the
third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the
body, I cannot tell, God knoweth) : that he was caught up into paradise;
and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such
an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my

infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be
foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think
of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And
lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a
sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For, which thing thrice
I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My
grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity.
Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ
may dwell in me.
Why is St. Paul mentioned in the Mass of this day, and why is this epistle

Because in Rome the Station or Church service is held on this day in the
Church of St. Paul and because the Church continues to encourage us to work
according to the example given by St. Paul who, with the grace of God,
accomplished and suffered so much; also because we should labor for the
honor of God and the salvation of our souls and faithfully cooperate with
the grace of God.

Why, at the beginning of this epistle, does St. Paul say so much of his own
Not out of ambition for honor and glory, but to honor God, and for the love
and advantage of the Corinthians, who allowed themselves to be deceived by
mercenary impostors and false prophets; that he might make public the
craftiness of those deceivers who assumed the appearance of the true
apostles, as Satan took the form of a good angel. To shame these, and to

remove the obstacles they had placed in the way of the gospel, St. Paul was
obliged to reveal to the Corinthians the things he had performed and
endured in propagating the holy gospel. By trials and sufferings is the
true apostle known; the false apostles, the hirelings, as Christ calls
them, only care for their own bodies, for temporal advantages, not for the
salvation of souls. We see this exemplified in our days by the heretical
missionaries who, when there is suffering, when there is martyrdom, take to
flight, for their eyes are directed only to the present life and a large
income, while the Catholic missionaries rejoice if, for Christ’s sake, and
for the salvation of souls, they are permitted to suffer, and made worthy
to endure the cruel death of the martyr.

Of whom does St. Paul relate such marvels?
Of himself, but from humility and modesty he does not say so; fourteen
years before, forty-four years after the birth of Christ, St. Paul was rapt
to the third heaven, that is, to the abode of happy spirits; but to
preserve him in humility God permitted Satan to use the concupiscence of
the flesh, which is like a sting in the body of man, as a temptation to the
apostle, and by which he was continually tormented.

ASPIRATION      Grant me, O God,. thy grace that in these evil days of false
doctrines I may remain stead fast to Thy holy gospel which in the holy
Catholic Church remains pure and unchanged; never let me be deterred from
obeying its precepts, neither by the charms of the world nor by the mockery
and reproaches of the wicked.

GOSPEL     (Luke VIII. 4-15.) At that time, when very great multitude was
gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto him, he spoke by a
similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell
by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured
it. And other some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it
withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among
thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell
upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying
these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.


his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you
it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in
parables; that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not
understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they
by the way-side are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the
word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon
the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these
have no roots, for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they
fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and
going their way, are choked with the cares arid riche, and pleasures of
this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who, in
a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit
in patience.

Why is the Word of God compared to a seed?
Because from the word of God germinates the fruit of good works, as from
good seed grows good fruit; as it is impossible, therefore, for an unsowed
field to produce good fruit, so is it impossible for man without the seed
of God’s word to produce good fruits of the spirit.
Why does Christ cry out in the parable: He that hath ears to hear, let him

Because of the importance and necessity of the doctrine which was contained
in the parable. For to hear the word of God is absolutely necessary for
salvation, as the Apostle indicates: How shall they believe him (Jesus) of
whom they have not heard? (Rom. X. 14.) Jesus calls those happy who hear
the word of God and keep it. (Luke XI. 28.) And on this subject St.
Augustine says: “Be assured, my brethren, that as the body becomes weakened
by want and hunger, and wastes to a mere shadow, so the soul that is not
nourished by the word of God, becomes shrunken, worthless and unfit for any
good work.”
Whence comes so much cockle of evil, when the seed of God’s word is so
abundantly sowed?

Because, as Christ says, the seed falls now by the wayside, now upon a
rock, now among thorns, seldom upon good soil, that is to say, those who
hear the word of God are as a highway, over which many distracting thoughts
are traveling which tread down the scattered seed, or, like fowls of the
air devour it; they are like rocks, hardened by their prejudices or
repeated crimes, so that the divine word cannot take root; again, they are
so overgrown by the thorns of worldly cares, the constant desire for wealth
and riches, and sensual delights, that even if they receive the seed, it is
unable to grow and bear fruit.


The word of God is compared, by the Prophet Jeremias, to a hammer which
crushes hearts as hard as rocks, and to a fire that dries up the swamps of
vice, and consumes inveterate evil habits. (Jer. XXIII. 29.) The Psalmist
compares it to thunder that makes all tremble, a storm-wind that bends and
breaks the cedars of Lebanon, that is, proud and obstinate spirits; a light
that dispels the darkness of ignorance; and a remedy that cures sin.


XXVIII. 3. 5., CXVIII. 105.) St. Paul compares it to a sword that divides
the body from the soul, that is, the carnal desires from the spirit; (Hebr.
IV. 12.) the Apostle James to a mirror in which man sees his stains and his
wrongs. (Jam. I, 23.) the Prophet Isaias to a precious rain that moistens
the soil of the soul and fertilizes it; (Isai: LV. 10. 11.) and Jesus
Himself compares it to a seed that when it falls on good ground, brings
forth fruit a hundredfold. (Luke VIII. 8.) One single grain of this divine
seed produced the most marvelous fruits of sanctity in St. Augustine, St.

Anthony the Great, in St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and others; for St.
Augustine was converted by the words: “Let us walk honestly as in the day:
not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in
contention and envy.” (Rom. XIII. 13.) St. Anthony by the words. If thou
wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou
shaft have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt XIX. 21.)
Nicholas of Tolentino was brought to Christian perfection by the words:
“Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. (I. John II.

How should we prepare ourselves to be benefited by the word of God?
We must be good, well-tilled soil, that is, we must have a heart that loves
truth, desires to learn, and humbly and sincerely seeks salvation; we must
listen to the word of God with due preparation and attention, keep the
divine truths we have heard, in our heart, frequently consider and strive
to fulfill them.

What should be done before the sermon?

We should endeavor to purify our conscience, for, as St. Chrysostom
demands; “Who would pour precious juice into a vessel that is not clean,
without first washing it?” We should, therefore, at least cleanse our
hearts by an ardent sorrow for our sins, because the spirit of truth enters
not into the sinful soul; (Wisd. I. 4.) we should ask the Holy Ghost for
the necessary enlightenment, for little or no fruit can be obtained from a
sermon if it is not united with prayer; we should listen to the sermon with
a good motive; that is, with a view of hearing something edifying and
instructive; if we attend only through curiosity, the desire to hear

something new, to criticize the preacher, or to see and to be seen, we are
like the Pharisees who for such and similar motives went to hear Christ and
derived no benefit therefrom. “As a straight sword goes not into a
crooked sheath, so the word of God enters not into a heart that is filled
with improper motives.” We should strive to direct, our minds rightly, that
is, to dispel all temporal thoughts, all needless distraction, otherwise
the wholesome words would fall but upon the ears, would not penetrate the
heart, and the words of Christ be fulfilled: They have ears, and hear not.
How should we comfort ourselves during the sermon?

We should listen to the sermon with earnest, reverent attention, for God
speaks to us through His priests, and Christ says to them: Who hears you,
hears me. (Luke X. 16.) We must listen to the priests, therefore, not as to
men, but as to God’s ambassadors, for every priest can say with St. Paul:

We are ambassadors for Christ, God, as it were, exhorting by us. (II. Cor.
V. 20.) “If,” says St. Chrysostom, “when the letter of a king is read, the
greatest quiet and attention prevails, that nothing may be lost, how much
more should we listen with reverence and perfect silence to the. word of
God?”  The word of God is, and ever will be, a divine seed, which, when
properly received, produces precious fruit, by what priest soever sowed;
for in the sowing it matters not what priest sows, but what soil is sowed.

Be careful, also, that you do not apply that which is said to others, but
take it to yourself, or the sermon will be of no benefit to you. Are you
free from those vices which the preacher decries and against which he
battles? then, thank God, but do not despise others who are perhaps
laboring under them, rather pray that they may be released and you
preserved from falling into them. Keep also. from sleeping, talking, and
other distractions, and remember, that whoever is of God, also willingly
hears his word. (John VIII. 47.)
What should be done after the sermon?

We should then strive to put into practice the good we have heard, for God
justifies not those who hear the law, but those who keep it, (Rom. II. 13.)
and those who hear the word of God and do not conform their lives to it,

are like the man who looks into the mirror, and having looked into it goes
away, and presently forgets what manner of man he is. (Fam. I. 23. 24.) To
practice that which has been heard, it is above all necessary that it
should be kept constantly in mind, and thoughtfully considered. St. Bernard
says: “Preserve the word of God as you would meat for your body, for it is
a life-giving bread, and the food of your soul. Happy those, says Christ,
who keep it. Receive it, therefore, into your soul’s interior, and let it
reach your morals and your actions.”

That food which cannot be digested, or is at once thrown out, is useless;
the food should be well masticated, retained, and by the digestive powers
worked up into good blood. So not only on the day, but often during the
week, that which was heard in the sermon should be thought of and put into
practice. Speak of it to others, thus will much idle talk be saved, many
souls with the grace of God roused to good, and enlightened in regard to
the evil they had not before seen in themselves and in future will avoid.

Let us listen to others when they repeat what was said in the sermon. Heads
of families should require their children and domestics to relate what they
have heard preached. Let us also entreat God to give us grace that we may
be enabled to practice the precepts given us.

PRAYER How much am I shamed, O my God, that the seed of Thy Divine word,
which Thou hast sowed so often and so abundantly in my heart, has brought
forth so little fruit! Ah! have mercy on me, and so change my heart, that
it may become good soil, in which Thy word may take root, grow without
hindrance, and finally bring forth fruits of salvation. Amen.

(“The Church’s Year” available online at

Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
“Pray and work for souls”

N.B. The Novena to the Holy Face starts today, Sexagesima Sunday (two
Sundays before Ash Wednesday or nine days before Shrove Tuesday) instead of
Septuagesima Sunday as mentioned in our previous email — mea culpa.

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