ON HEARING MASS DAILY, PART 4: FOR TRADESMEN AND ARTISANS
The idol of our times is self-interest, and, alas, how many prostrate themselves before it, offering to it at all times and in all places their undivided homage! And thence it comes that, pursuing this idol, they forget the true God, and so come to plunge themselves into an abyss of evil, and a perpetual destitution of all true good; whereas, the holy Royal Prophet declares that all who in the first place seek God shall not encounter any evil, but shall abound in all good. Inquirentes Dominum non deficient omni bono (Ps. xxxiii. 11). This is amply verified in those who, before applying to their business, manage first to assist at holy Mass, as the adventure which is told of certain traders of Gubbio well illustrates. They had gone to a public fair held in the town of Cisternino, and having made a clearance of their wares, two of them began to speak of going, and fixed to start the next day at dawn, so as to arrive by evening in their own neighborhood. But the third would not consent to start then, and protested that, next day being Sunday, he could never think of commencing a journey without having first heard holy Mass; that then, after a little food, they might take their departure more to their satisfaction, and that, should they not succeed in getting to Gubbio that evening, there was no want of comfortable inns on the road. His companions did not yield to this wise and salutory counsel, but, bent on arriving at home next night, they answered that Almighty God would have compassion on them if they lost Mass for once. So on Sunday morning before dawn, without ever entering church, they took their way on horseback toward home. They arrived near the river Corfuone. By the violent rain which had fallen during the night it was now excessively swollen, and the current beating strongly against the wooden bridge had somewhat shaken and weakened it. They advanced upon it with their horses, and no sooner had they reached the middle than a still further rise and furious rush of the flood broke down and swept away the whole structure. The two unhappy traders were, of course, plunged with their horses into the river and drowned, losing at once their money, their goods, their lives, and almost certainly their souls. At the sound of the crash, and sight of the havoc, the peasants ran to the spot, and contrived with hooks to draw the corpses out, which they then left stretched out on the bank, in order that, if possible, they might be recognized and obtain burial. Soon after, the third trader, who had been detained by his wish to satisfy the precept of attending Mass, and who had then taken to the road with joyful alacrity, came up to the river and beheld the two bodies on the bank. Drawing up to observe them, he instantly recognized his two companions, and heard from the bystanders all the miserable catastrophe with the utmost agitation of spirit. Then he lifted his hands to Heaven, returning thanks to the Most High, Who had so mercifully preserved him; and he blessed a thousand times the hour in which he assisted at the Holy Sacrifice, clearly recognizing the source of his safety. When again at home, he announced the sad intelligence, got the relations to procure proper interment for the departed, and stirred up among all a lively desire of daily attendance at holy Mass. (Lohner. tom. 2, tit. 64.)
O accursed avarice!-----let me give vent to what I feel-----accursed passion, that cuttest off the heart from God, and takest away, as it were, from us the very faculty of free will, so far as regards the power of attending to the great business of eternal salvation!
That the avaricious may enter into themselves, I will illustrate my meaning by an example from Holy Scripture. Samson, you are aware, was bound in vain even with the sinews of oxen, and with fresh ropes never before used. At last he informed his treacherous wife that the secret of his strength lay hid in the locks of his hair; and so no sooner were they cut off than he lost all his wonderful strength, fell into the power of the Philistines, was made blind by them, and condemned to work a mill. Now, what was the chief and prime error of Samson? Was it, perhaps, in allowing himself to be so securely bound? That was not his error. The evil lay in telling the secret of his strength, and thus allowing the loss of his mysterious locks, which once gone, he was no longer himself. Now, a man engaged in trade doubtless permits himself to be bound by a thousand ties of traffic, of accounts, of exchange, and so on. Does the deadly peril of avarice consist in all this? No, not in all this. The danger lies in cutting off the locks of hair. Let me explain. Suppose a man in trade to have never so great a pressure of business, but hearing betimes every morning the bells that call to Mass, says to himself, "Business, wait a little; have patience; let us get our Mass safely settled:" such a man is Samson bound but not shorn-----bound by the thousand cords of business, but not shorn of the secret source of strength. Another is also caught in a multitude of cords: workmen to pay, accounts to clear, letters to write, correspondents with whom to negotiate: one man expects an answer, another his money. Alas, what a labyrinth of bonds! No matter, Sunday at last comes round, or the festival of some Saint, his patron perhaps; he breaks loose from all, and goes with devotion to hear some Masses and offer up his prayers. This man also is a Samson bound but not shorn; for, amid all his affairs, he never loses sight of the great business of eternal salvation. But attend to me now: if you are bound by a thousand ties of interest, without vigor to snap them through, if you fail to come forth at the proper time, and cease firmly to frequent the Sacraments and the holy sacrifice, then woe to you; then are you both bound and shorn. In this case, though your gains be just, yet at such a cost they are sinful; there is within you a coarse and horrid avarice, which will treat you as Samson was treated, until, at last, as with Samson, the roof overhead shall fall in upon you. Then quae parasti cujus erunt?-----"whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" (St. Luke
But you are thinking that the avaricious will never listen except to a tune in their own key. Well, then, be it so. Get rich, gather up, make profit. What is the surest way? I will show you: daily hear holy Mass with thorough devotion. It is plainly seen in the case of two artisans whom I could point out. Both pursue the same trade; one is burdened with a family: wife, children, grandchildren; the other is alone with his wife. The first has brought up his family in great comfort and even style, and all his transactions turned out wonderfully. Customers at his shop, and sales dispatched. So he has gone on, till he finds himself putting by every year a good round sum, to serve in time for marriage-portions for his daughters. The other, who is without children, at one time got little employment, was half famished, and was, in short, a ruined man. One day he said confidentially to his neighbor, "How is it you do? In your home there rains down every blessing of God; while I, poor wretch, cannot hold up my head, and all sorts of calamities light on my house." "I will tell you," said his neighbor; "tomorrow morning I shall be with you, and I will point out the place from which I draw so much." Next morning he took him to church to hear Mass, and then led him back to his workshop; and so two or three different times, till at last the poor man said, "If nothing else is wanted than to go to church to hear Mass, I know the way well enough, without putting you to inconvenience." "Just so," said the other; "hear holy Mass, my friend, with devotion, every day, and you will see a change on the face of your fortune." And, in fact, so it was. Beginning to hear holy Mass every morning, he became well provided with work, shortly paid his debts, and put his house once more in capital condition. (Sar. in Vito S. Joan. Eleem.) Trust to the words of the Gospel. And if you do so, how can you doubt the fact? Does it not say clearly, Quaerite primum regnum Dei . . . et haec omnia adjicientur vobis? "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." (St. Matt. vi. 33.) Make but the trial for a year; hear holy Mass every morning with true earnest devotion for one year, and if your temporal interests do not take a better turn, lay the blame on me. But there is little fear of that; you will rather have many reasons to thank me.
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