Saints and Devotionals
Catechetics and Religious Instruction
Mediatrix Press is pleased to announce that we are nearing the completion of Volume 2 of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Moral Theology, which will cover the Ten Commandments, 1-6. In this monumental treatment, St. Alphonsus examines specific questions on various aspects of the Commandments and cites nearly all the moral writers up to his time, examining nearly every question and issue that might come to the mind. This excellent treatment is an magnificent resource for Confessors, to aid them in reverently hearing confessions. While some are of the opinion that treatments such as Alphonsus’ exist to provide loopholes for people to get out of sin, rather, it is to help the penitent correctly identify and avoid.
St. Alphonsus’ moral theology steers the course between rigor and laxity to lead the way to Christ’s mercy. In dealing with the first Commandment, St. Alphonsus deals with sins such as apostasy, idolatry and superstition; then in the second he takes up sins of blasphemy, violation of oaths, etc.; in the third he takes up all the considerations involved in the precept to attend Mass on Sundays and Feast days.
In the fourth commandment, obedience in general; in the fifth, murder and all its species, including questions on abortion, the death penalty and just war; in the 6th adultery, rape and lust.
If you can, in your charity, please review the main project page for the Moral Theology translation project here and donate.
157.—III. The penitent, being asked by the confessor about a sin already confessed, does not need to mention it by understanding in addition, “that which he has not confessed.” (Cardenas diss. 19, n. 48, Salm. tr. 17 c. 2 punct. 8 § 3 n. 118, Sanchez, lib. 3 cap. 6 n. 14; Sporer de 2. praec. cap. 1 n. 105). But this must be understood as unless the confessor would justly ask to know the state of the penitent, from number 58 of the propositions condemned by Innocent XI.
158.—IV. A needy man can respond to a judge about goods hidden for his subsistence that he has nothing (Salm. ibid. § n. 140). Equally, an heir who, without discovery hides goods, if he is not held to make satisfaction to creditors from them, he may respond to a judge that he has hidden nothing, understanding in addition “from the goods which he would be held to make satisfaction”. (Salm. loc. cit. and Roncaglia, c. 4, reg. 2 in praxi.
159.—V. Someone that takes out a loan, but later satisfies it, can deny he has taken up a loan, understanding in addition: “such that he ought to pay.” (Salm. cit. n. 140, and Sporer de 2. praec. c. 1 n. 122, with Suarez, Navarre, Azor, Laymann, Cov. and others). So equally, if anyone were coerced to matrimony, they can assert to the judge even with an oath that they did not contract it, viz. freely, as is just. (Toletus, lib. 4 c. 21; Laymann, c. 14 n. 8; Navarre, in c. Humanae aures, caus. 22 q. 5; Sporer loc. cit.). Sporer says the same thing about someone who entered into an invalid betrothal. Equally, one who promised matrimony, but then would not be held to it, can deny the promise, viz. that he was held by it, as the Salamancans say (ibid.). Someone is not held to a duty can respond that he does nothing viz. from which he owes a duty. (Cardenas n. 77, Salm. ibid.; Sporer loc. cit. n. 121 with Ledesma). One who comes from a place falsely thought to be infected by plague can deny he came from it, viz. a pestilential one, because this is the mind of the guards. (Salm. ibid. n. 141; Lessius, c. 42 n. 47, Sanchez Dec. l. 3 cap. 6 n. 35; Sporer loc. cit. n. 140, with Toletus, Navarre, Suarez, Henriquez, Rodriguez, etc.). Nay more, Toletus and Lessius admit this as well as many others cited by Sporer, even if he quickly passed through an infected place, provided it were certain he did not contract the plague, because it could be understood he did not come so that danger would not be feared from him; but I do not altogether acquiesce to this. The Salamancans (n. 141) admit this, with Busembaum, because if someone were forcefully obliged by a thief to promise money with an oath, he could understand in addition: “I will give, if I owe you without an oath”; because they say that promise from circumstances can admit such an ambiguity. Equally a wife, for whom it is certain the marriage is null, can promise with an oath to the judge or confessor, who would not otherwise wish to absolve her, that she will cohabitate with her husband, even if she does not intend, understanding from that licit cohabitation. (Salm. loc. cit.).
160.—VI. Someone asked by a judge whether he spoke with a guilty man can deny it, understanding he did not speak so as to cooperate with him. A canon lawyer, obligated to a secret, can swear he manifested nothing, if he manifested none of those things which he is held to conceal sub gravi. The Salamancans agree (ibid. n. 142) who assert that all these are obvious to all authors. Equally Lessius, c. 52 n. 48, with Alex, Bart. etc. One who is going to be chosen for an office, being asked whether he had some impediment can deny it if it is really not such a thing that would impede him in the exercise of office.
Equally, if anyone were summoned and asked whether the food is good, which really is insipid, he can respond it is good, viz. for mortification. (Cardenas, diss. 19 n. 74). So also Cardenas (n. 76) and la Croix (lib. 3 p. 1 n. 302) say ceremonies can licitly be advanced, “I kiss my hand,” etc. “I offer myself as a servant,” etc. because from common use they are received as material words advanced only for honor. It is also licit to conceal the truth with cause, e.g. if someone asked you for money, you can respond: “Would that I had it!” or “I would be glad to have some”, etc. (Cardenas, diss. 19 n. 53).
161.—Quaeritur 1: Could a creditor assert from an instrument with an oath that nothing was paid to him, if really a part has been paid but he had a credit from another person, which he could not prove? It is answered that he can, provided he did not swear the quantity due to him by that instrument, lest it be inferred he suffered loss from other previous creditors. Salm. tr. 17, cap. 2 punct. 8 § 6 n. 143, with Sanchez, Palaus, Leander, etc.
162.—Quaeritur 2: Could an adulteress deny the adultery with a man, understanding that will reveal him otherwise? She can equivocally assert she did not break a marriage which truly persists. And if she had sacramentally confessed the adultery, she can respond: “I am innocent of this crime,” because by confession it has been taken away. So thinks Cardenas, diss. 19 n. 54, who still adverts that she could not affirm it with an oath, because probability of the fact suffices to assert something, but to swear an oath certitude is required. But the response is made that moral certitude would suffice to swear an oath, as we said above in dubium 3, n. 148, with the Salamancans (tr. 17 c. 2 punct. 5 § 1 n. 42), Lessius, Sanchez, Suarez, Palaus and the common opinion. Such moral certitude of the remission of the sin can indeed be held when someone morally disposed receives the sacrament of penance.
But in regard to the question, the Salamancans (ibid. punct. 8 § 6 n. 144) with de Soto say a woman cannot deny the adultery because it would be a pure mental reservation. Still, Cardenas (n. 60) admits that in danger of death it is permitted to use a metaphor which is common in scripture where adultery is taken for idolatry, as in Ezechiel 23:37: “Because they committed adultery … and fornicated with idols.” Nay more, if the crime is truly secret, according to the probable opinion of the authors a woman can deny it with an oath and say: “I did not commit it”; in the same mode in which a guilty man can say to a judge that does not legitimately ask him, “I did not commit the crime,” by understanding he did not commit to the extent he is held to manifest it. (Busembaum, below, and Lessius, Trull, ibid. and Sanchez, lib. 3 dec. c. 2 n. 42, with de Soto, Sayre and Arag., as Tamburinus holds ex comm. c. 4 § 3 n. 1 and 2, as well as Viva q. 7, art 4 n. 2).
163.—Quaeritur 3: Could someone requested to make a loan swear that he did not have any money when he really has some, by understanding that he has no money to furnish a loan? The Salamancans (loc. cit. n. 145, with de Soto, Henriquez) deny this. The reason is because that reservation cannot be perceived from the circumstances. But this must be understood, if the truth can in no way be perceived; for if it could be thrown out there from some circumstance, namely of poverty or neediness of the lender, one could rightly understand “I have nothing superfluous that I could lend”. So think Roncaglia (de 2 praec. c. 4 reg. 2 in praxi), Viva (q. 7 a. 4 n. 2) with Sanchez, Bonacina, Sylvius, etc. Cardenas (diss. 19 n. 48) with Suarez and de Lugo, who so teaches: “One that has one loaf necessary for himself truly responds that he has nothing for one that asks for bread to be loaned to him, because he has nothing which he could loan which is the only thing the other man asks.” (de poenit. disp. 23, sess. 4 n. 74). And Cardenas says the same thing (n. 73) on money that is sought, if it is necessary to the owner.
164.—Quaeritur 4: Could merchants swear their merchandise costs more than others, by combining the reckoning with other merchandise? Some affirm this, but the Salamancans (dict. n. 145) rightly deny it. Still, Croix, with Gobat. says that it is probable he can when they do not understand such things about the price of the thing, but compute it in expenses for taxes, for the storehouse, etc. (Croix l. 3 p. 1 n. 301).
165.—Quaeritur 5: Could a servant at his master’s command deny he is at home? Cardenas (diss. 19 n. 75) admits that he can fasten a stone to his foot and answer “he is not here,” because it is not a mental reservation; but I do not assent to this unless the other man could by no means notice it. I would rather more concede he could say “he is not here,” viz. not here at the door, or at the window, or (as the Continuator of Tournely says, de relig. part. 2 cap. 3 art. 5, in fine): “he is not here,” insofar as he can be seen. Cardenas says likewise, that he can respond, “he has left the house,” by understanding in the past; for we are not held, as he says above with Lessius, to respond to the mind of the one asking the question if a just cause is present. It would be otherwise if he were asked, did the Lord go out this morning, as Croix says (lib. 3 p. 1 n. 284). So even Cardenas says (n. 72) about a nobleman who is in bed, the servant can respond that he is outside, viz. he is not to be seen, as it is usually understood from the common manner of speech.
166.—Quaeritur 6: Could those that are going to take up a doctoral degree swear with an equivocation the requisite condition that is not true, viz. to have freed himself up for that science for so many years, etc., if they were equally suitable as other doctors? See Tamburinus, Dec. lib. 3, cap. 2, who affirms it and says then there is a just cause for so swearing, lest they be rejected who are worthy. But whatever about this, it seems to me more probable that those who are going to get their doctorates at Naples, who by the usual custom write in their own hand on taking up their registrations: “Dico con giuramento essere il primo anno institutista, etc., when it is really not so. The reason is because that verb “giuro” or “dico con giuramento,” as we said above (dub. 1 n. 136) with Salm. (tr. 17 c. 2 punct. 3 n. 24), Bonacina, Sanchez, Suarez, is not of itself an oath, unless questioning would precede about an oath; but this questioning at Naples is either altogether not done or is not done from a true oath, but only on that written material which seems from the common use not to take up a true oath.
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The wars and upheavals of the 17th and 18th centuries had created a situation where by the 19th century, political control was exercised over the Church not only in England and Germany but even in Catholic countries such as Austria, France, and Spain. The new ideas of Febronianism, Jacobism, and the French Revolutionary ideologies spread throughout Europe had done their utmost to bring discredit on the old asceticism and its principal representatives in the mendicant orders, such as the Dominicans. Cardinal Newman thought that the Dominican Order was a “great idea, now extinct.”
Fortunately, not long afterward, the great Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire sought to revive the ancient spirit of St. Dominic in France. Nor was he alone; for when Fr. Jandel (whom Lacordaire inspired to become a Dominican) received his commission from Pope Pius IX to restore the old discipline and abolish the customary relaxation of the day, then new life began to reverberate through the order, and the primitive fervor of its holy founder was brought back to life.
“The Dominican Revival in the Nineteenth Century” vividly recounts the career of Fr. Alexander Vincent Jandel, from his days as a secular priest to a Dominican and then the 23rd Master General of the Order. Then it continues on the subsequent activity of the good Father, the cooperation he met with from his brethren and the splendid success that crowned his efforts and which had brought the order of St. Dominic once more to the forefront as a defender of the interests of Jesus Christ, and His Church.
This edition has been beautifully re-typeset while preserving the original text with exactitude. A great resource for the Church in general, and the Dominicans in particular during the troubled days of the 19th century.
Though master-general of the order, Bl. Jordan’s humility prevented him from attributing himself as a director of any human authority. He was not and did not wish to be anything but a docile instrument of grace. As a director of conscience in his breadth and delicacy, Jordan had the Catholic sense of the omnipotent and infinite freedom of God and of the supernatural freedom of souls in relation to God. Like Dominic, he had the faith which moves mountains, and also he had hope of great assistance, which was never to fail him, especially and above all that of the Roman Church.
Marguerite Aaron captures the man and his times in this excellent biography, which not only makes use of the ample historical documentation but also utilizes them to enter intimately into his personality, a rare thing with the famous men of his era. Tracing his time from the University of Paris to his death, Aron’s biography is a first rate history, readable, well sourced and well-written. This is the only source in English to learn about the man who picked up and carried St. Dominic’s torch!
Jordan must have left Bologna at the beginning of April for the General Chapter of the Friars Preachers convened at Paris for Pentecost, May 22, 1222.
What had he done as Provincial of Lombardy, what part had he played in the destiny of the Order since the day when, in company with Everard de Langres, he had left the convent of St Jacques whither he was now summoned back for the General Chapter? At Bologna he had strengthened, enlarged and at the same time wisely consolidated Dominican action. At the time of St Dominic’s death, four priories were being founded: in the valley of the Po, at Brescia, where Guala of Bergamo was now in charge; at Parma; at Plaisance; and at Venice, the last of those intended by St Dominic.
Jordan did what was necessary to establish these houses. But already he was hopeful of making a foundation as yet still uncertain in a place which, according to him, was still more qualified to have a house of Friars Preachers, namely, Padua. Padua, whither doctors and lawyers who found themselves in disaccord with the citizens of Bologna so often emigrated, was the most urgently needed of Lombard foundations. Without doubt Jordan had already been there to ascertain the intentions of the Commune and had worked to instal the Friars Preachers there, for in 1223 the Padua Priory was established.
But we get the impression, hard to prove from definite texts but deduced from general facts, that in this first year of his administrative work the influence of Jordan must have gone beyond the Lombard province. His correspondence with Henry of Marbourg, Prior of Cologne, now unfortunately lost but spoken of by himself in De Initiis Ordinis; his relations with the Universities of Paris and Oxford; his collaboration with the legate of the Apostolic See in Lombardy, Cardinal Ugolino, an all-powerful personage at the Roman Curia, in all that concerned the fight against heresy and the extension of the preaching of the Church; all this allows us to think, not without foundation, that he must have already been mixed up in the general affairs of the entire Order; the more so as the absolute unanimity of his election, on May 22, 1222, made it appear to be the solemn ratification of an established fact.
According to a tradition in early Dominican writings at this chapter he must already, by an act of supreme authority, have decided to send two missionary Preachers to the Holy Land, Burchart of Strasbourg and a brother called Xyronius of Milan.
When Jordan was put at the head of the eight provinces and the forty Priories that the Order had established between 1217 and 1222, he courageously foresaw how they should increase from then on.
In the University of Paris, in the same St Jacques where two years before he had taken the habit of the Friars Preachers, Jordan received the highest office of the whole Order.
It was neither the time nor the place to look back. The Priory itself was already being rebuilt; under the impetus of the new Master, the work increased and so, as at St Nicholas of the Vineyards, the noise of carts unloading materials, the clatter of tools, the shouts of masons, mingled with the psalms of the Office and the coming and going of curious students. The Friars Preachers of St Jacques—the Jacobins, as they were called by the people of Paris, whose number in 1219 was not more than thirty, were one hundred and twenty in 1223. They were probably near to a hundred in 1222, and it is certain that the first buildings were no longer large enough for them. Steven of Bourbon, contemporary Friar Preacher who received the habit at Lyons in 1223 but who had been studying theology at Paris before that date, had known and frequented the Priory of St Jacques and speaks of the work of construction which was then going on. The little chapel of Jean de Barastre was already giving place to a much larger church, very simple in style, with two naves, one for friars and clerics, the other for laymen. At the same time they began to build the cloister, a large refectory, and an infirmary. This work was so urgent that it was completed with a speed not common at those times. This explains the relatively short duration of the buildings of St Jacques, and their complete disappearance when so many other buildings of the same period have left vestiges still standing today. After Jean de Barastre, dean of St Quentin, their first benefactor, it was the University of Paris and its Commune which became benefactors of the Friars Preachers. The University had just conceded to them all rights not only to the hospice of St Jacques but also to the adjoining houses belonging to it; and at the time of the election of Jordan, at least within the month following it—since the gift was ratified by Philip Augustus, who died in 1223—the Commune of Paris gave the Friars Preachers a building large enough for them, enclosed in the ramparts between the St Michael Gate and the St James Gate, and the close adjoining it outside the walls, formerly the ‘Clos du Bourgeois’, which now became the ‘Clos des Jacobins’.
Such considerable additions were not made without great expense. As at Bologna, the Friars Preachers knew financial difficulties. As at Bologna, these were cleared up; not by a bishop-legate but, at the request of the Bishop of Paris, by the Queen, Blanche of Castile.
This fact is attested by Stephen of Bourbon. Blanche of Castile was about to make a pilgrimage to St James of Compostello and was ready to devote to it ‘a marvellous outlay’. The bishop, William of Auvergne, her confessor, who knew that the Parisian Friars Preachers were completely unable to pay off a debt of about 1,500 livres, said to her: ‘Madame, do you not think that you could do something better than spend so much money for the glory of the world and to make a great display in your native land?’
And she, who knew very well in her heart that this pretentious pilgrimage was more a parade than an act of piety, replied: ‘Give me your advice; I am ready to follow it.’
‘The Friars Preachers’, said William, ‘who are called the Friars of St Jacques, are in debt more than 1,500 livres. Take your pilgrim’s staff and go to St Jacques, their house, and pay their debt; and since I have commuted your vow, I promise you that I will answer for you at the Day of Judgment; for you could not do better than to use in this way the money which would otherwise have served only for useless pomp.’ And ‘the woman of wise heart followed the advice of the holy man’.
This holy man was William of Auvergne, who was consecrated Bishop in 1228, and if he was already a bishop at the time of this incident, this puts it between 1228 and 1230. This must indeed have been a difficult time for the Friars to have large debts falling due in the work, which was begun in 1221 or 1222, seems to have been finished in 1231, and judging by the size of the buildings the cost must have exceeded first estimates.
We can see the hand of Jordan in those events whose material shapes we can grasp. Already in 1222 the future Regent of France, soon to be Queen by the accession of Louis VIII, gave ear to the advice of the Master General and showed herself to be a faithful friend of the Friars Preachers. Taken as a child to France to be married when she was scarcely sixteen years old, perhaps she had in the first place loved in Dominic de Guzman and in his first sons something of her own native Castile. She must have seen Blessed Mannes arrive in Paris in 1217. She must have seen St Dominic in 1219. We can scarcely believe that, coming back just then from Spain, St Dominic could have gone through Paris without greeting the daughter of King Alphonso there, without, perhaps, taking to her—in those times when it was the custom to entrust letters to travellers—some message from her homeland.
However that may be, Blanche had confidence in and a constant veneration for the Preachers. It was apparently she who, already near to becoming Queen, obtained from the dying Philip Augustus the grants of land for the enlargement of St Jacques. It was she who urged her husband, Louis VIII, after his accession to the throne, to take up the crusade against the Albigensian heresy in accordance with the wishes of the papal legate, Cardinal Romain de St Ange, and by reason of the information which the Friars Preachers would have given her about the district of Toulouse.
An event which occurred only fifteen days after the election of Jordan as Master General confirmed the interest which Blanche of Castile had in the Friars Preachers and in the extension of their Order in the kingdom of France; and in this event it is impossible not to see Jordan’s own work and influence.
A day’s ride from Paris, on the wooded plateau which dominates the valley of the Eure, the episcopal city of Chartres, although deprived of its former scholastic prestige by the recent growth of the University of Paris, still remained a city of schools and scholars. Peter the Lombard had taught the Sentences there, great masters had come out of it, subtle dialecticians, recognized mathematicians, Guillaume de Couches, Gilbert de la Porrée, who had drawn to their lectures students of all nations. In spite of its decline, at about 1222 Chartres still had illustrious canonists: the Chancellor Robert de Brou, the Dean Bartholomy, soon to be bishop of Paris, the de Grey brothers, Aubry Cornut, Constantine of Sicily.
If a breath of discord arose between students and townsfolk in Paris, just as those of Bologna went to Padua, Verona and Sienna, so Parisian students would make their way to Chartres. No one knew and foresaw this better than Master Jordan.
But there was yet another motive that turned his thoughts toward Chartres. Chartres, a privileged home of devotion to our Lady, had its first cathedral destroyed by fire in 1194, and afterwards, by an unusual co-operation of benefactors of all ranks, benevolent workmen of all conditions and anonymous pilgrims of every social class, raised the triumphant edifice which still stands. A fervour of pious generosity animated a whole army of workmen and craftsmen, stone-masons, master workmen and glass-makers, whose encampment obeyed the discipline, not of bugles and military commands, but of prayers and church bells. Blanche of Castile had taken upon herself the cost of building the north door, especially the famous rose window with the arms of France and of Castile which rises above it, where her son is delineated as a young blond King Solomon; nor was this work finished without her arriving from time to time to see the progress that was being made on it.
She was at Chartres on the Sunday after the Octave of Pentecost in the year 1222, on June 16, fifteen days after the Chapter of St Jacques and the election of the Master General. And there she presided at a ceremony at which Jordan, if he was not there in person, as was probable, was certainly present in spirit. Before the Bishop Gautier of Chartres, the dean of his chapter, Hugues de la Ferté, and a great gathering of magistrates, nobles, and clerics whose names are unfortunately not recorded in the text which has come down to us, she solemnly confirmed the gift of a house made to the Friars Preachers by Hugues de la Ferté. This house, according to tradition, was against the rampart near the Clos Muret. A little old chapel adjoined it, but it needed to be rebuilt.
We do not know who the first Friars Preachers were whom the priory of St Jacques sent to Chartres. But we do know that their installation there was not without difficulties, for, though they had the bishop and the dean on their side, they had the majority of the canons against them; and the sequence of events allows us to understand very well why Jordan had asked Blanche of Castile to give so much help by her presence and that of her court in respect of the donation of Hugues de la Ferté. He had to establish the Friars Preachers in Chartes in such an emphatic way that hostility would be forced to withdraw, but it was not to be finally overcome for eight years and that not without conflict.
The place ceded to the Friars Preachers remained, in accordance with the jurisdiction proper to such places, under the patronage of the Chapter. The Friars could not change anything or build anything without its consent. But a small house was not sufficient to allow the Preachers to have a regular priory and church, and in particular the thing that was essential to their purpose and certainly of greater moment to the bishop, namely, a school.
But the canons were firm in their refusal to allow the Friars Preachers the right to arrange as they wished the place which had been conceded to them and to celebrate the Divine Office there. Quibbling and wrangling, the dissident canons managed by invoking particular laws and usages of the district of Chartres to delay matters from year to year until 1230. It required a fulminating bull from Pope Gregory IX to overcome their stubbornness.
This papal document, sealed as from Anagni on November 9, 1230, was not drawn up without the intermediation of Jordan, as we shall see later; and again it was Blanche of Castile who lent confirmation to its effects by assisting at the first Mass celebrated in the new church of the convent of St Jacques at Chartres on the octave day of the Ascension. She offered to the friars chasubles, copes and dalmatics of silk, and a great silver cross, gilded, ornamented with a fleur-de-lis, containing a relic of the wood of the true Cross.
The first Prior was Nicholas of Sienna, later Provincial of the Holy Land; he came to Chartres from Orléans, where he was a teacher, and was elected in chapter on St Michael’s day, September 29, 1231, in the presence of Pierre de Reims, Provincial of France, and soon to be preacher and advisor to St Louis. The following year, at the Provincial Chapter of France, he and his definitors made a proposition, we do not know what, which was accepted and confirmed by Jordan in a circular letter which has disappeared but the text of which the historian of the Priory of Chartres, Father Le Febvre (Praedicator Carnutens), had seen at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and he had copied a passage which interested him.
From then on the house of the Friars Preachers at Chartres greatly extended its scope. Their lectures in theology were open to students from outside. Some of their masters, like Friar William d’Autun, went to the Sorbonne; two others, Brother Thomas d’Epeautrolles and Brother John d’Anet, were respectively chaplain to St Louis and his confessor for twenty years, and both were his historians.
Blanche of Castile and her son seem to have preserved a warm regard for Chartres. As for Jordan, this was his first foundation in the Province of France and one that he held dearest to his heart. But he had to visit the other priories of the Order and Lombardy called him back. It is probable that, if he preached in Advent to the students of Paris, he would return to Bologna to preach the Lent there, because it was his almost invariable custom to spend Lent where the General Chapter was held. Thus the Chapter became the occasion for the Master to give the habit to the novices who had been converted during Lent. Moreover, he must have preached at Bologna for Pentecost, June 11, 1223, at the General Chapter.
Another matter, which for some months he had followed attentively from afar, claimed his presence and his authority. Diana d’Andalo had gradually overcome the resistance of her family and the scruples of the bishop of Bologna. Ronzano was to her only a temporary refuge; her wish was to live, under the rule of the Friars Preachers and under their direction, a life of contemplation and mortification for the benefit of their Order. Jordan also wished to see a house of Dominican nuns built at Bologna; he could foresee its social value and the supernatural help it would provide.
It must have been his arrival which finally decided matters, for they were hurried through; the contract of sale of the land bought by ‘the Lady Diana’ to build her convent on was drawn up by a notary in the church of Ronzano on May 13, 1223. Evidently both buyer and seller were already in agreement, for she had only been waiting for that moment to begin the layout of the spot, the cloister and the construction of the little house, low and poor as it was, which received the first Sisters; three weeks afterwards, on the Octave of the Ascension, June 8, 1223, Diana and the four young women of Bologna whom she brought with her came down from Ronzano again and received the Dominican habit in this humble dwelling which had been prepared for them: a robe of white wool with a capuce of the same material, a leather belt, white veil, cappa of coarse serge of black or brown. Finally, on June 29, the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the new Sisters made their solemn vows before Brother Rudolph and Brother Ventura, Brother Bernard the Teuton and Brother Guala of Bergamo, who served as witnesses.
Thus the convent of St Agnes was founded. It was situated outside the city, between the San Mandalo Gate and the Gate of Saragozza, on a little hill not far from St Nicholas of the Vineyards, at a place called Volsampero. Diana’s desire was fully satisfied.
It was Jordan who had brought this to pass, and who had attached enough importance to the consecration of the nuns of St Agnes to delay his departure several days. But a strange impatience possessed him. Not all the students of Bologna had attended the Lenten preaching. Several groups of Ultramontans, after one of their frequent quarrels with the Lombard townsfolk and the Cismontan clerics, had left Bologna before Jordan’s arrival. Jordan, who had got to know them the previous year, was aware of the value there was in them, what advances some of them had made to him and what hopes they had raised in him. He went back in mind to a certain sixteen-year-old student at Padua, a lively and delicate lad, son of a great German family. He knew this youth’s fancy to enter the Order, and how this was opposed by his uncle, who lived with him and who had made him promise not to listen to the Friars Preachers’ sermons any more. He could not forget his fervour, his assurance. Above all, at a glance the Master of Arts, the great mathematician, Nemorarius, had seen in this young man a precocious and assured scientific genius. Such an intelligence, in a soul already sanctified, would radiate a great light. By bringing him into the sound and vigorous Dominican way of life and learning, he would be saved from the current dissipation of mind, from the attraction of useless ambitions, he would be consecrated to truth. Jordan had no wish to make him abandon the sciences. On the contrary, he encouraged him to pursue those researches of which ignorant people were afraid, which frightened timid people; they alone could build a bridge between routine theology, too far removed from rational and experimental methods, and a liberal culture that was without restraint, dangerous to subtle imaginations and to consciences not balanced by a sufficiently strong faith. Albert of Lawingen would be a great man. Master Jordan must find him again and win him over.
Meanwhile, the final establishment of the Priory at Venice, of which the preliminary plans had been drawn up by St Dominic two years before, urgently demanded the presence of the Master General, and to go first to Venice was to travel toward Padua. He did not let Diana d’Andalo keep him. Admittedly, for so young and new a religious as she to undertake alone the formation in the religious life of companions yet more inexperienced than herself was well-nigh impractical; difficulties were already appearing. But provision could be made. ‘Be patient’, Jordan would write to his daughter. These are the letters which, after seven hundred years, provide us with the landmarks of his journeying and bring his travels and his preaching to life again.
So he set forth with long strides, along the dusty road, under the harsh July sun. Two friars accompanied him, Brother Archangelus and Brother John. Archangelus was a man of Bologna, known to Diana to whom he is attached and whose prayers he requests. John and he were to accompany the Master to Paris; their names, which appear again and again, enable us to locate the letters where they are mentioned in the postscripts and to reconstruct their trip with certainty. There are reasons to suppose that these two young Friars Preachers of good family were taken by Jordan to St Jacques so that they could study theology there.
They travelled at his side. The Master sometimes spoke to them of the things of God and of the Order, sometimes remained silent and recollected, inviting them to silence and to prayer, sometimes chanted aloud with them the Psalms of the Office and anthems he loved, such as nostra redemptio, and especially the Salve Regina. They walked quickly and with light step. The two Brothers were scarcely able to keep up with this smiling, robust man, whose temples were already beginning to grow grey, whose head was bowed sometimes by the weight of so much thought.
The first stop on the route must have been Faenza, where still today the road from Bologna forks to Florence at the south-east and to Ravenna toward the west. One of the first Lombard Priories had been established there three or four years before. From there it was not far to Ravenna, where they could take ship to Venice, thus saving considerable time. Jordan was in a great hurry; doubtless this is the route he took and stayed only a very short time at Venice; the letter in which he informs Diana of his happy arrival in that city announces at the same time his departure for Padua.
This short letter had two objects: Jordan did not forget the spiritual needs of his daughter; he urges her to strengthen herself and her sisters in charity. ‘Soon will come the wedding-feast of the Lamb’, he wrote. ‘He will give the sweet wine of the date-palm to those whose soul is bitter with the thirst of love.’ A mystic exhortation which is meant to help the nuns of St Agnes to live in the love and in the hope of God. But at the same time he assigns a precise object to their prayers: that they beg Jesus Christ to bless the preaching that he is about to undertake at Padua, that they obtain ‘for his voice the power of the Word, so that it may bring forth fruit to the honour of God’.
That was his great preoccupation and also his hope. While he went along the road from Venice to Padua, meditating on his sermons, his memory turned back, tender and confiding, towards the humble cloister where he knew they prayed unceasingly for him; dear little house, not in vain has its foundation already cost so much trouble; it is the holy reservoir upon which he relies for his preaching; it will not be either his talent or his prestige, but the unremitting sacrifices and valiant faith of this handful of religious women that will bring down divine grace and win the victory.
Meanwhile these matters were to be long drawn out. The next letter asks again for prayers: ‘The students of Padua are terribly cold; so far only one of them has allowed himself to be won over… I recommend to you to pray assiduously to our Lord that he may deign to move their hearts and to draw them to him for their own salvation, for the glory of God and the Church, and for the growth of our Order.’
On her part, Diana doubtless implored direction and words of consolation. Jordan excused himself for having no leisure to write at length to her; he gives her over to the care of the Holy Spirit, ‘whose consolations are unmixed, and infuse into the soul truth in its entirety. Rest in him, and wait patiently in him for the time of my return.’
The weeks went by, the month of August came, and Jordan, a prey to discouragement, was thinking of returning. But no; suddenly grace flooded into the closed hearts of these students hitherto indifferent; ten of them entered the Order, ‘and among them two sons of two great German lords; one was a provost-marshal, loaded with many honours and possessed of great riches; the other has resigned rich benefices and is truly noble in body and mind.’ This was Albert de Lawingen; he had triumphed over temptation and the artifices of the world, over his uncle, and over his own hesitations; later, among the tribulations of life, it was enough for him to remember the words of Master Jordan at this decisive moment to regain strength and certainty.
He was bound to the Order for ever. Jordan’s letter is a canticle of thanksgiving, a song of praise. He addressed it not to Diana alone, but to ‘his sisters of St Agnes, very dear in Christ’. All had shared in the labour, all must share in the honour and all must be thanked.
Another letter to Diana followed soon after. Twenty-three others had come to join the first ten recruits, ‘all clerics eminent in letters, except two layman who would be Lay-brothers; several are of the high nobility’. Six others, ‘quite notable’, had made a promise binding them in conscience to enter the Order later, and many still were expected. Overwhelmed, Jordan had sent for Brother Ventura, his successor in the office of Prior Provincial of Lombardy, and probably also with him Rudolph de Faenza and several friars formerly at the Priory at Bologna.
It became urgent to open a house of Friars Preachers at Padua: they must profit by the enthusiasm of the University world and by the good dispositions of the town, which was anxious to have the students and masters start this house without delay. Jordan could not wait any longer at Padua; Brother Ventura had the necessary authority and experience to take his place, to begin the education of the novices and, if need be, while waiting for the foundation of the new convent, to take them to the ‘studium’ of Bologna.
Diana was alarmed at the abrupt departure of Brother Ventura, her Superior, her spiritual father, her adviser in Jordan’s absence and her support since the departure of the Master. There was far from unanimity in the house of the Friars Preachers of Bologna on the subject of the foundation of St Agnes; several of them disapproved of the expenses and the anxieties generally involved in looking after monasteries of women; they felt great repugnance for this new charge, not having grasped its value for the Order. Therefore Diana must have felt very strongly about Brother Ventura’s departure.
Jordan reassured her. ‘Do not have any uneasiness on the subject of Brother Ventura’, he wrote, ‘for it is not with the intention of making him Prior of Padua that I have called him here.’ He did more. How could she have thought that he would lose sight of St Agnes, that he was not concerned to organize its life and regularize its administration? Negotiations were under way at Rome to arrange for the transfer to Bologna of a little nucleus of those Sisters of St Sixtus which had been founded not long ago by St Dominic himself. The Prior of the Roman province was charged with this duty. ‘He has written to me’, said Jordan to Diana, ‘about the matter of the Sisters of St Sixtus, and as far as they are concerned, all goes well and they are well disposed towards it.’ The difficulties and the delays in this matter must have come, not from the nuns themselves, but from Honorius III who, proud of his convent of St Sixtus, could not bring himself to denude it in this way.
Jordan wrote in paternal fashion to calm his too ardent daughter: ‘I beseech you in God of your charity that your heart be neither troubled nor afraid… Endure sadness, be patient in humility.’ Perhaps to this message of the Master, Brother Ventura, in collaboration with Rudolph de Faenza, had added the letter of exhortation, the text of which has come down to us. It is a consolation in the allegorical style of the times, addressed to Diana, their Prioress, and to the Sisters and to all in the convent of St Agnes, by Brothers Ventura, Prior, and Rudolph, of the Order of Preachers.
‘We exhort you’, it says, ‘to go forward towards the City which is above… let neither covetousness nor toil stop you: the strong castle which allows itself to be captured as soon as it suffers assault by the engines of war is reputed of little value… If sometimes your hearts are troubled by the song of deceiving sirens or the hissing of other monsters whose prey you might easily become, because you do not know their language, do as the nobles do to ensure the education of their sons, for they send them to the court of the great in France or Germany, so that equipped in every way and instructed in languages, they know how to avoid the snares. So, direct your thoughts towards the heavenly court, so that if you hear some horrible monster, you may be warned to flee the peril by the angelic tongues which resound about you.’
This text, with its clear significance delicately dressed, recalls the first letter sent to Ronzano by Jordan—so much so that it seems to reflect something of Jordan himself.
Meanwhile the Master had taken the road again.
The Priory of Padua was founded. It was the first Lombard creation of the Master General, as Chartres had been his first French creation, and both marked the progress of the Friars Preachers in the University world. Now Jordan was awaited at Brescia.
Located on the highway from Milan to the Adriatic, near Verona and Padua, Brescia had one of the first houses of Friars Preachers established in northern Italy by St Dominic. It was in existence in 1220, and from that time Guala of Bergamo was its Prior. But the original establishment in one of the churches of the town, Saint Afre, was inadequate. By an official act of May 24, 1221, Cardinal Ugolino, papal legate in Lombardy, had invested in Guala of Bergamo the possession of the church of the holy martyrs Faustinus and Jovitus, patrons of the city, with its dependencies, houses and vineyards, on condition that they paid the revenue of these dependencies to the former Canons of the place for four years more.
From then on, Guala of Bergamo was held to have the confidence of the Cardinal-Legate. He might have been forty years old. Born of a noble family, a distinguished canonist of the schools of Padua, he was already a priest when he entered the Order and was sacristan at the Priory of St Nicholas of the Vineyards from the time that Moneta of Cremona entered in 1219. He had been a witness, with Reginald and Rudolph, at the profession of Diana d’Andalo made into the hands of St Dominic, and, with Ventura, Rudolph and Bernard, at her clothing. He was one of the best business men among the Friars Preachers, one of those whose signature most often appears in official acts. In the near future he was to become a familiar of the Roman Curia, which entrusted him with very important diplomatic missions and delicate negotiations with the Lombard League and the Emperor Frederick II. He was to be bishop of Brescia from 1230 and to introduce into the communal statutes new legislation against heresy. Jordan would on many occasions have recourse to him as a negotiator and to gather information. Now he hastened to Brescia at his invitation.
Doubtless he expected to leave Brescia the next day to return to Bologna. But the air of Brescia was charged with the germs of marsh-fever. Jordan fell a victim to it, and attacks were to torment him repeatedly thereafter. He had to give up the return to Bologna and, as soon as he was convalescent, to go to Milan. Jordan was committed to preach the Advent to the students of Paris and to spend all the winter at St Jacques until the General Chapter which would meet at Paris, at Pentecost, 1225. The season was already advanced. To take the road over the Alps, he must go before autumn, before the first snows and the shortened days. Diana grieved in vain. He wrote to her:
‘Since I cannot see you as I wish and as you wish, with bodily eyes, I have written to you several times… so that in spite of the inexact and diverse rumours which may have reached you, your soul shall not be in the least troubled… Know then that after having suffered with fever at Brescia, I am, by God’s grace, now convalescent and have been able to come to Milan, whence I hope that I can happily continue my journey. Console yourself then in the Lord, so that I may myself be consoled thereby in the Lord, for your consolation is my joy and comfort before God. Greet all the Sisters for me and recommend me to them. To them also, good health.’
Originally published in 1892, with the Imprimatur of John Cardinal McCloskey of New York, this beautiful little volume contains copious high-quality wood cut illustrations of the major highlights of the Old and New Testament, as well as short, concise, little stories of the Bible, aimed at inspiring an early devotion to the Sacred Scriptures, and fostering an interest in further reading as a child grows more mature. When read to a child by a parent or grandparent, each little story provides a base from which to elaborate further, based on the child’s age, on the story at hand. Richly illustrated and in large, easy-to-read type, this is a perfect book to sit down with the children for five or ten minutes and read from it to them, showing the pictures and meditating together on the simplicity yet wonder of how God has shown Himself to His people throughout the Bible.
The stories found in Bible Stories for Children focus on the Scriptural events surrounding salvation history. Beginning with Creation and the Fall, continuing through the Deluge, Patriarchs, Exodus and the Ten Commandments, Samuel and David, Prophecies of the Messiah and a short summary of the end of the Old Testament World. Part II begins with the chief events of the New Testament, from the Annunciation to Our Lady and Christ’s birth, through His public ministry and ultimately his Passion. The book concludes with the Ascension of Christ.
This wonderful volume focuses only on the events of Scripture and does not engage in commentary or modern opinion that would be unsuitable for small children.
The present treatise on prayer was first of all printed privately in the French language, and was intended exclusively for the instruction of the daughters of St Benedict. All souls, however, who are aiming at perfection may derive profit and edification from its pages. The spirit of the venerable Abbot Gueranger breathes through the whole work. What this distinguished man thought on the all-important subject of prayer, what he expressed in his conferences, and what he wrote in many parts of his classical work, “The Liturgical Year,” is found here systematically arranged. Some of the chapters are real masterpieces.
-Mgr. Paul Leopold Haffner, Bishop of Mayence, September 10, 1896.”
Spiritual Life and Prayer according to the Monastic Tradition, is a spiritual treatise on the soul’s journey to God. Carefully considering the spiritual life as lived among the trials of the world, the Sacraments, the author considers who are the true worshipers of God and how we become such based on the testimony of Sacred Tradition and the Holy Fathers. Though it is a century old, being based on such timeless testimony it has not lost its luster.
This work is a beautiful and orthodox treatise on spirituality that is not just for monks, but for anyone serious about living a true spiritual life. This book has been completely reprinted and reformatted in conformity with the original, it is not a facsimile reprint.
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E.E. Reynolds was a first rate historian in the 20th century who utilized the best available primary sources from state and church archives as well as letters and early manuscripts. His biographies of St. Thomas More occupy a place on the bibliography of every subsequent work on St. Thomas More, while his biography of St. John Fisher is the best and most complete in existence.
Throughout the month of November, Mediatrix Press will offer a special 25% off for both books together! Purchase today!
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Fr. Simeon Lourdel: Planting the Faith in the Furthest Africa, tells the story of a tall and imposing missionary with a heart of gold. Lourdel, a French missionary priest, became the Apostle of Uganda. In his short life, Fr. Lourdel had transformed the landscape of the entire country. The charity, the tact and prudence of the missionary were taxed to the utmost. When after years of patient toil, he had the consolation of reaping the first fruits of his conquests for Christ, behold—a cruel and sudden persecution visited the newly established Christian Community, and in an instant, he had the untold sorrow of seeing his mission swept by fire and drenched in blood. Midst this awful upheaval, the faith and the charity of the apostle waxed the stronger; at the peril of his life, the good shepherd remained close to his flock, encouraging them by day and by night, preparing them for the crown of martyrdom that was soon to be theirs. He hoped too that he would be allowed to share the sufferings of his children and to die with them in testimony for the Faith. But though repeatedly threatened with death and suffering, imprisonment twice—his cross—and could a heavier one be imagined?—was to witness the oppressing, and the slaying of his beloved neophytes. Mother F.A. Forbes tells the story of Uganda’s first Apostle in a beautiful yet simple to read account that will inspire as well as uplift.
The Capuchin Chronicle is a translation of a 16th century account of the first Capuchin Franciscans: their trials, tribulations and holiness as they went on to become a great religious order in the Church. It is attributed to Fra Ruffino da Siena, with sections added from the chronicle of Fra Bernadino Colpetrazzo.
The Chronicle, though anonymous, is attributed to Fra Ruffino da Siena, and begins with a review of previous reforms, laying the ground for the turbulent period of the 1530s and the struggle with the regular Franciscans to establish their first houses. Students of the discalced Carmelite reform will see here similar attitudes and obstacles to overcome to establish reform. It also chronicles great figures who guided the reform at a critical time, such as Fra Bernadino d’Asti, and apostates who lurked within and caused great destruction, such as Ochino who abandoned the order and became a Protestant. It covers how the order was affected by the Council of Trent, and what it is to live the true spirit of a Capuchin Franciscan, embracing the primitive rule of St. Francis.
This chronicle, while near contemporary and a great source for information on the order, is also a spiritual treatise of first rank, on the virtues which the men of that age felt were necessary to not only wear the habit of St. Francis, but truly embrace the spirit of their founder. This should rank as a quintessential Franciscan work.
In the De Controversiis, St. Robert Bellarmine defends the doctrines and teaching of the Church against all comers, starting from Scripture, the Church Fathers and also reason. His work was widely read and commented on by both Catholics and Protestants and quickly became one of the standard texts in Catholic theology for centuries.
In On Purgatory, Bellarmine defends what is one of the more difficult doctrines to understand in his characteristic style beginning with Scripture and the Fathers, stopping at every step of the way to answer the objections of all the major Protestants of his day, not only Luther and Calvin, but also those less known to us such as Brenz and Peter Martyr.
Dividing his work into two books, Bellarmine shows that there is such a place as Purgatory by copious exegesis on Old and New Testament passages, and the clear consensus of the Church Fathers who witness the fact that prayer was made for the dead in the early Church.
Then, in book 2, he examines questions about the specifics of Purgatory, what souls there suffer, where it is located, how the faithful can assist the souls of Purgatory, and other questions.
This treatise, translated into English for the first time, is the best and most in depth treatise on this subject available, and is just as relevant today as when it was first penned.
Book II, ch. 9, How long will Purgatory Endure?
NOW on the time, in which Purgatory will remain, there are two extreme errors. The first error is that of Origen, who extended the times of Purgatory beyond the day of the resurrection, so that he has in homily 14 in Luke: “I think that even after the resurrection from the dead we need the sacrament to wash and cleanse us, for no man can rise again with filth.” Nevertheless, this error has been explored, for St. Augustine (lib. 21 de civitate Dei, cap. 16) says: “We suppose that there will be no Purgatorial punishments except before that last and tremendous judgment.” And the reason is, because the Lord says that in the judgment there will be only two ranks of men, one of the blessed, the other of the damned (Matth. 25).
But someone will say: The soul alone did not sin, but once with the body, therefore it should be purged then with the body, hence, after the resurrection men will be purged. I respond: if that would conclude the argument, it would also prove that the soul cannot be separated to be punished in hell, nor enjoy the delights of heaven, which is against the Gospel, “I am tortured in this flame” (Luke 16:24), and “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Therefore, I say the soul is duly punished even by itself, because it is the subject and efficient cause of sin; for there are certain human acts which cannot be done except from the whole composite, nor received except in the whole composite, such as all those which are done by organic potencies, e.g. to speak, see, hear, etc., and such things, after the dissolution of the composite, are no longer found. And if indeed such were a sin, it would clearly conclude the argument. But it is not so, for sin is an act of free will, and therefore properly said to come into being by the will alone and found formally in the will alone. Consequently, after the dissolution of man, the whole sin is only found in the will, and by that fact, in the soul, but not in dead flesh; moreover, it ought to be punished or purged in that place where it is found.
Add also, that the flesh is punished in its mode; for as the separated soul is punished with the penalty of loss, because it lacks the vision of God, and the punishment of sense, because it is tortured in fire, so the flesh is punished by the fire of loss, because it lacks life and the punishment of sense, although improperly, because it rots little by little and is reduced to ash; nevertheless, the first answer is better, for even the bodies of the saints that do not need purgation suffer this.
The second error is of Luther, who on the contrary makes Purgatory too short. He would have it that anyone who dies in faith has the remainder of his sins purged by the sorrow of death, and so there is no further Purgatory than death itself. This error can be easily refuted. By the remaining sins, either the fomes are understood, or bad habits that were contracted, or the undergoing of temporal punishments and venial sins. These alone, and all others can remain in a man that has been justified, which pertain to sin and hence can be said to be the remainder of one’s sins. First, the fomes is certainly abolished in death, because then sensuality is extinguished, but we do not constitute Purgatory due to the fomes, otherwise even baptized infants that die would need to suffer the punishments of Purgatory, since Baptism does not wash away the fomes. But Augustine, in the cited passage of City of God, teaches precisely that children of this sort do not suffer any purgatorial punishments. Now in regard to bad habits, those which exist in the will are not necessarily extinguished by death, seeing that they are in the powers that are not bound to an organ. Nevertheless, on account of habits of this sort we constitute Purgatory since otherwise it would follow that adults who are baptized after they have contracted bad habits, and immediately die, or certainly are killed for Christ, could not be saved except by Purgatory because neither Baptism nor Martyrdom dissolves habits of this kind. We see the baptized still have these same wicked inclinations which they had before, and it is necessary for them to abolish habits of this sort little by little with contrary acts.
Therefore, it is believable that all these habits are abolished by the first contrary act of the separated soul, which it elicits immediately from the separation. For, even if this habit, contracted in one act, cannot be destroyed by many acts nevertheless, there it will be able to be because that act will be much more forceful, seeing that then the soul will be more powerful in regard to spiritual acts and it will not have the contrary fomites and resistance as it has here.
Thus, it remains to speak of suffering punishment and venial sin, which can properly be called the remainder of sin, which is the reason why Purgatory exists. Moreover, it is certain that sometimes these remnants are purged in death, and at other times it is certain they are not, whereas, at other times there is a doubt as to whether this happened and it is very probable that it was partly purged and partly not.
I will prove these individually. For the first, a violent death received for Christ, which is called martyrdom, without a doubt cleanses all remnants of this sort. Cyprian clearly says that all sins are cleansed in passion (lib. 4 epist. 2); that he is not speaking about mortal sins is obvious because in the same place he says that without charity martyrdom is of no benefit whatsoever. St. Paul taught this before Cyprian in 1 Cor. 13. Therefore, the Church never prays for martyrs, because, as St. Augustine says on the words of the Apostle: “It is an injury to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought to be commended.”
I prove the second: Those who die against their will or without the use of reason, such as the insane, those who die in their sleep and those who die instantly cannot be purged by that death in any mode; for either death itself absolutely purges, or by reason of some voluntary concomitant act itself. Not the former because death is, according to what it is, natural, at least after the sin of our first parents. This is why it is common to both the good and the bad, nay more to men and beasts; but by natural things which necessarily must come about we do not merit or lose merit, nor can we dissolve debts contracted voluntarily, so if death purges, it happens by reason of a voluntary concomitant act. But we are speaking in this place about those men who die without any act of this sort. Besides, we often see the best men suffer a very hard death, and those that are not good suffer a very light one. But if in death the remnants of sin should be purged, then necessarily the contrary ought to happen.
I prove the third: There are many who bear death with equanimity, whose patience without a doubt helps to make satisfaction, but whether those sufferings are equivalent to the debts contracted from sin, nobody can know for certain.
Apart from these errors there was an opinion of Domingo de Soto that no one in Purgatory remains beyond ten years (4 Sent. dist. 19 quaest. 3, art. 2). His reasoning is that if here on earth we can be freed from all punishments in a short time by certain punishments, why not more quickly in Purgatory since those punishments are infinitely more serious punishments and more intense than the former? Besides, here punishments are extended because they cannot be very intense or they would destroy the subject; but after this life they can be as intense as possible, because the subject is incorruptible. Thus, it is believable that God purges those souls gasping for glory in the shortest time by the most intense punishments. But these reasons do not conclude the matter.
To the first it can be said that here is the time of mercy and there is the time of justice.
To the second I say, God can compensate extension with intension, but he refuses; otherwise it would follow that souls do not remain in Purgatory for one hour, because God can, by increasing the intensity, redirect the punishments of ten years to one hour.
Besides, his opinion is opposed to approved visions of the Saints. Bede writes that the punishments of Purgatory were shown to a certain man, and it was said to him that souls which abide in Purgatory are all going to be saved on the day of judgment, although some will be assisted with prayers and almsgiving of the living, and above all the sacrifice of the altar, so that they will be freed even before the day of judgment (lib. 5 hist. cap. 13). There, he clearly shows some men that already died will remain in Purgatory even to the day of judgment. We can advance many similar visions from Dennis the Carthusian and others.
The custom of the Church is also opposed to this opinion, which celebrates an anniversary Mass for the dead, even if it is certain they died a hundred or two-hundred years ago. Certainly the Church would not do that if she believed that souls are not punished beyond ten years. Consequently, the matter is still uncertain and cannot be defined without temerity.
St. Norbert is perhaps one of the greatest, yet today unknown, saints of the middle ages. Above all he was a great reformer.
Born of nobility, and living in luxury with royal favor, St. Norbert suddenly had a conversion, and embarked to be a new St. Paul, throwing away his rich garments, and preaching to the faithful as a beggar.
Led further, and provided with papal approval, Norbert makes a foundation in the valley of Prémontré, whence his order gets its name. The preaching of St. Norbert and his order restored faith in the Eucharist, badly shaken by heretics, and for this he was long remembered in northern European cities badly affected by heresy such as Antwerp. His life dominated the 12th century where, as a friend of St. Bernard, he worked to reform Church life and to defend the independence of the Papacy.
The great project of St. Norbert was to combine the active and the contemplative life, by establishing canons who lived by the maxims of monastic life, to both work in the world and retire for prayer. In this he anticipates Sts. Francis and Dominic by a century.
Premonstratensian abbeys dotted the landscape of Europe until the revolutions of the 16th-18th centuries.
Fr. Kirkfleet, relying on the best histories and the most accurate primary sources, provides the most complete biography of this great saint in English.
The Mediatrix Press edition has added numerous woodcuts of the life of Norbert to beautify the work. The reprint is unchanged from the original apart from font and page sizes.
This wonderful book shows that the Holy Spirit raises up saints to defend and build up the Church in every age when they are needed, and provides us with the enduring witness of the love of the Church and the love of the Holy Eucharist to be found in the saints.
NB: Hardcover and Kindle coming soon!