The Wedding at Cana - "Jesus is the Bridegroom of our souls"
The Wedding at Cana - "Jesus is the Bridegroom of our souls"
Scenes from the Life of Christ - Marriage at Cana by Jacob Herreyns I (1643-1732); Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium; commons.wikimedia.org
Wedding Feast at Cana
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
Christ, as we read in today’s Gospel, assisted at the wedding; in Cana, and there before the eyes of His disciples wrought His first miracle, as a proof that He was really the promised Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. He changed water into wine. Water is the emblem of indifference, wine that of strength and zeal.
I say to you; if we desire to have the right to call ourselves true children of Holy Church, we must abandon our lukewarm life, and must change it into the wine of zeal by earnestly striving after Christian perfection. Mary instructs us in what we must do, in order that this miracle of grace may be accomplished in us through Jesus Christ. She said to the waiters: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye."
Let us apply this admonition, to our subject, and no doubt if we act in accordance with it, we will change our indifferent life, and strive with the zeal of saints after the perfection of virtue. And such a change of mind is also a miracle, a miracle of grace. May Christ, the Bridegroom of our souls, work this miracle in us! O Mary, thou who hadst compassion on the newly-married pair at Cana, pray for us that we may change from a life of lukewarm piety to one of zealous striving after sanctity! I speak in the holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
"Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye!" No doubt, had we listened to all the teachings of Jesus and regulated our conduct by them, we should have lived a life of zeal like Mary and the Apostles. Yes, if we would only take to heart what the Gospel relates of the teaching and works of Jesus, how great would be our zeal! As it is, however, nothing; is more general than the state of lukewarmness and imperfection. Is not this the case with you? I hear within me your answer to this question: Yes, father, I too belong to those poor, imperfect souls; my heart is filled with the water of indifference. In order to produce a change, we must follow the advice of the blessed Mother at Cana: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye!" and oh, how soon will the water of indifference be changed into the wine of zeal!
Let us, in this connection, look at the eight beatitudes by which Christ endeavors to encourage us to lead a life of Christian perfection. Christ says: "Blessed are the poor!" What is the cause why many are so indifferent? They are too much engrossed with the things of this world; they care too much for money, for temporal possessions. Child of the Church! do as Jesus teaches; tear yourself away from the immoderate cares of this world and endeavor to gain in all your daily actions merit for Heaven. The water of indifference will then be changed into the wine of zeal. Inordinate desires for the goods of this world are the thorns which prevent the seed of the Divine Word from unfolding into blossoms and fruit.
"Blessed are the meek!" That which deprives us of the spirit of meditation and of the blessings which prayer gives, that which makes us cold and indifferent is our impatience. It prevents the infusion of that divine grace which would animate us to be zealous in the service of God. Men sometimes live for years an indifferent life. The cause thereof is their excessive sensitiveness [self-absorption]. They are tormented from morning till night by imaginings and uncharitable thoughts. This state of mind prevents them from keeping their resolutions--making use of divine grace; hence their lukewarm life. Live from today in holy patience and in meekness of heart, and the water of indifference will be changed into the wine of fervor.
"Blessed are they that mourn!" That which renders us indolent in the service of God, is the pursuit of temporal enjoyments and the want of sorrow and contrition for every sin and imperfection of which we are guilty. St. Paul assures us that those who belong to Christ must crucify their flesh and its lusts. In the writings of Solomon the Holy Ghost admonishes us, saying: "Wisdom dwells not in the land of the indolent." Whoever strives above all else to live comfortably and never thinks of sell-abnegation or penance, whose only desire is to enjoy life to the utmost, must live a life of indifference. Sensual people do not recognize the danger of such an existence, they do not even see the sin of it, and would feel but little pain or repentance did their conscience reproach them. The characteristic trait of their life is indolence, and hence their indifference, their lukewarmness. Practice self-abnegation, do external works of penance by withdrawing from dissipating entertainments, and in the endeavor after Christian perfection the water of indifference will soon change into the wine of fervor.
"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice!" How many are satisfied with not committing mortal sin and seemingly fulfilling the duties of piety. They do not consider the purport of a holy life. Hence their indifference. They are content with the beaten path of every-day life; they are only nominal Christians. Read daily the lives of the saints with the desire to imitate them according to your condition in life. Consider that the saints were human beings conceived in sin, and surrounded as you are by temptations; that they battled against these, and avoided every occasion of sin. When they had sinned, they approached the tribunal of penance; strengthened by prayer and the holy Sacraments, they fulfilled to the utmost of their power the duties of their station, and evinced true heroism and constancy in the practice of virtue. Consider all this, and I assure you you will soon feel as St. Augustine felt, and will say to yourselves: If so many others could do it, why should not I? The water of indifference will change into the wine of zeal.
"Blessed are the merciful, for the shall obtain mercy!" The lukewarm Christian wants true brotherly love. However, he wants fervor in the discharge of deeds of charity, especially, of spiritual works of mercy, where the healing and saving of souls is concerned. Hence the indifference of so many. Do all you can to assist your neighbor, and with St. Francis Xavier cry often to Heaven: "Lord, give me souls!" and the grace of God will increase in your own soul, and the water of indifference will be changed into the wine of fervor.
"Blessed are the clean of heart!" Some people grovel in the dust of this world, and seldom obey the call of the Lord uttered by the priest at the altar: "Raise your hearts to Heaven!" Hence the indifferent life of so many. Especially cleanse your heart from every stain of sensuality. Do not neglect to do this, and in a short time you will become a new man, a zealous Christian.
"Blessed are the peace-makers!" How few can confess truly before God: I have no enmity to any man! On the contrary, how many there are who live in a state of continual contention in their home and out of it! Hence their indifference and want of that grace which God bestows on us when for His love we love all mankind, as Christ has taught us. Act in accordance with this divine teaching and allow no uncharitable thought a place in your heart, then, as Holy Writ assures us, your righteousness will grow until it shines like the light of day.
"Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake!" Human considerations, the desire to please every one, and the unwillingness to suffer for love of God and the greater glory of Christ, these conditions of the mind are causes of a lukewarm life. Let us, on the contrary, rejoice with the Apostles that we are deemed worthy to suffer for the sake of justice, for our zeal in extending the kingdom of God. Persecution is very often the means of awaking Christians from the slumber of indifference, as recent events have manifested. Many Catholics have been aroused into consciousness by the oppression of the Church.
If this consciousness is strengthened in your heart, then the water of indifference will be changed into the wine of a true Catholic life, sanctified by the perfect fulfillment of the duties of your station in life! Amen!
The Wedding at Cana by Barthélemy Parrocel (1590-1660); Musée du Pays Brignolais, Brignoles, France; commons.wikimedia.org
Today’s Gospel proposes for our meditation a marriage feast at which Jesus was one of the guests. Let us reflect that Jesus is the bridegroom of our souls, and invites us all to His marriage feast. It depends on us to accept this invitation; and who is there that does not desire to be present at the marriage of the Lamb in heaven of which St. John speaks in the Apocalypse? We prepare ourselves for this feast by fulfilling hereupon earth the will of the Spouse of our souls.
It is true, every Christian tries more or less to fulfill his duties, but the essential point is not, to do something after some manner, but to do everything that Jesus demands and in the manner that He demands. And on that does this depend? We shall endeavor to find out.
O Mary! pray for us, that we may be called, in all truth, servants of the Lord! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
To do all that Jesus commands means, first, to avoid sin and all that leads to it, and after the example of Christ to fight against temptation. Watch, pray, and encounter the tempter with a firmly spoken: "Leave me!" Should you have the misfortune to commit sin, then go immediately to confession. But how often do we postpone confession!
To do all that Jesus commands signifies, further, to do all the good He demands of us, namely, to fulfill with all zeal and diligence, the duties of our station through love for God, uniting our intention with the intention of His holy Heart.
To do all that Jesus commands means to practise the virtues of His most holy Heart, according to His words: "Learn of me!" In order to practise these virtues we must seize every opportunity, and endeavor to perfect ourselves in them without relaxation. Therefore, we must above all lay a firm foundation of humility, and see that the three theological virtues inform all our actions. Christian! is this so in your case? Alas, no! You do not do what faith and love for Jesus require of you, but what pride, ambition, vanity, self-love, and egotism demand.
To do all that Jesus commands, means also to keep before our eyes, and exemplify in all our actions, the cardinal virtues, prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. These virtues have received their name from the Latin word: Cardo, a hinge, on which the door hangs and turns. No virtue deserves the name which is deficient in either prudence, temperance, justice, or fortitude. How often do your actions exhibit all these qualities? How hasty and imprudent you frequently are even in doing good! How often you show the absence of that moderation which does every thing at the right time and in the right way, and with proper regard for the feelings of others! How often, especially, are you deficient in the virtue of fortitude! You are so inconstant, bent this way and that by circumstances, as a reed by the wind.
To do all that Jesus commands does not mean, to conform to the holy will of God in some things only, but to regulate by it all our doings, every thought and every desire. In order to understand, without mistakes, His wishes and demands we must listen attentively to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. It is, therefore, necessary to keep God continually in our thoughts, to walk before Him in the spirit of meditation, and to avoid all useless distractions.
Oh, how remiss you are in this regard! It is true you pray daily: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," but, in reality, you have no will for any thing unpleasant to nature. Instead of walking in the presence of God in order to hear the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and to follow them, you hardly ever think of God during the day, and you listen, not to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, but to the voice of the world. All your wishes, all your longings, are to succeed in business, to become rich, to be honored, to procure for yourself the pleasures of this life, and to enjoy them as long as possible. Hence your continual distraction and your feeling of loneliness when you are separated from the society of men. This is also the cause of your idling away your precious time in the society of persons who are dangerous to you and often lead you into temptation.
To do all that Jesus commands signifies also to make use of all those means through which we may obtain divine graces. These means are prayer, spiritual reading, the listening to the divine Word, the hearing of Mass, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and its frequent devout reception.
I ask of you: Do you employ these means? Do you do all that Jesus demands of you? Do you say your morning and evening prayers, and in such a manner that you really pray in spirit and in truth, or do you only say them from habit, and with incessant distractions? Is your prayer such that it unites you all day long to God according to the words of Christ: "You must pray always." What do you read? Are you thoroughly instructed as a child of the Church and as these incredulous times demand, or do you read those worldly books, which amuse, rather than those which instruct?
Do you hear Mass daily with piety? Do you assist faithfully at the divine sacrifice? Do you visit regularly the Blessed Sacrament, and receive Jesus frequently into your heart? If not, how can you presume to think that you follow the injunction of the Blessed Virgin: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye."
To do all that Jesus demands means, to fulfill joyfully, and with the utmost confidence in God, all that He asks of us. "The Lord loves a cheerful giver," as the Holy Ghost assures us. If we are not animated by this sentiment, then do we want generosity, zeal, and perseverance in His service. Christian! why are you so faint-hearted and despondent? Shame on you!
To do all that Jesus asks signifies, to fulfill His word notwithstanding the hinderances we may encounter, it means to receive humbly, as from His hands, all the trials we meet in His service, to unite them with His sufferings and bear them for love of Him.
To do all that Jesus demands means lastly, not only to take care of our own salvation, but also to promote that of our neighbor and to assist him spiritually and corporally, for time and eternity, in remembrance of that assurance of Christ: "Whatsoever ye do to the least of mine, ye do to Me."
How cold is your zeal for souls! How little exertion you make for the spiritual welfare of your neighbor, even of those who live with you under the same roof!
Christians! you who have listened to my words, do you now understand the meaning of the admonition of the Blessed Virgin: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." Do it henceforward, and you will partake of the marriage feast of the Lamb, the Bridegroom of your soul. You will partake of it here upon earth by the joy which the presence of Christ in your heart will bring, and one day you will partake of it in heaven near the throne of God, in the company of your Bridegroom, who will be yours for all eternity! Amen!
The Wedding at Cana - "Jesus is the Bridegroom of our souls" by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
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