"And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them."--John 6.
In today's Gospel all are admonished to strengthen,
particularly, that disposition of the heart which exercises,
in a special manner, a beneficial influence over
our life in the service of God, namely, our trust in His
providence. There are so many trials in this world
for both body and soul! So many evils, so many
maladies and dangers threatening the health and life of
man! How great, how urgent, frequently, are the
cares for our daily existence! And if this is true
of the body, what shall we say of the dangers to
which the soul is exposed on the way of salvation?
Hence, how important it is for us to strengthen our
trust in the providence of the Almighty. We shall
consider, today, one by one, the motives for doing this.
O Mary, thou who art next to God, our most consoling
refuge and trust, strengthen in our hearts this
confidence in God, that we may be aided by Him in
every need! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the
greater glory of God!
That confidence in the providence of God is a most important disposition of the mind, is evident from what I have said in the introduction about the many needs of both body and soul.
Accordingly, Christ reminds us often and emphatic
ally of this confidence, and exhorts us to cultivate it.
The same is done by the Apostles. St. Peter, especially,
admonishes us earnestly to place ourselves, like children,
in God's fatherly arms, and cast all our care
upon Him. How readily would we obey this admonition
of Christ and His Apostles, were we to consider
Who God is, what He has done for us and for the
world, were we to reflect on the lofty destiny for which
He has created us, and the protection He has promised,
if we place our trust in Him!
To strengthen, then, your trust in the providence
of God, ponder first: Who God is. We place our
confidence in another in proportion as we feel
convinced that he understands what we need, and that
he has it in his power to do for us whatever our safety
requires. Again, this confidence we grant cheerfully
and unreservedly if we know that our protector has
the will to assist us, that he loves us, and that his
relations towards us are such that we have a right to
expect from him this aid; particularly, if he has
promised to help us, and has already given us proofs
of his readiness to keep his word.
Who does not see at a glance, after what has been
said, how just and well-founded is our trust in God,
and His providence, and how firm our hope should
be in the help of God under every hardship of life?
God knows what we need; He is omniscient; everything,
says St. Paul, lies unfolded before Him like an
open book. He knows the needs of our body and soul
much better than we do ourselves. Let us trust in
He is almighty; He can help us. It is He who, as
Creator, called heaven and earth into existence, and
who governs and preserves them. Has He the will to
help us? Who can doubt it? Is He not infinite goodness,
and at the same time our Creator and Father.
What splendid, what numerous proofs of the providence
of God as Creator and Ruler of the world,
surround us! What harmony, order and consistency
we perceive in the entire visible creation, if we let
our eyes wander from this earth to the far off starry
hosts! For thousands of years the sun has risen and
gone down never a second too early or too late.
Child of man! does not the first ray of the sun say
to you: There is a Providence? here am I again!
But as the ancient philosopher Plato has said, the
care of Providence appears to us more astounding in
the smallest plant and animal which God's
omnipotence has called into existence, than in the
magnificent heavenly bodies and their wonderful movements.
Does not Christ Himself point to this when He emphatically
says: "Behold the birds of the air, for they
neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns:
and your heavenly Father feedeth them? Are not you
of much more value than they?" "And if the grass
of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into
the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you,
O ye of little faith!" (Matt. 6, 26, 30).
How earnest should be our endeavor to strengthen
our trust in God, when we think of the being He
gave us; a being that reflects His likeness and surpasses
in perfection all visible creatures! And for
what end has He created us? Answer: For Himself,
that we may one day become "like unto Him," for
His and our own glorification.
But what must our feelings be, when we think
of the price He paid for us, when through sin,
we were threatened with destruction? Did He not
clothe Himself with our nature, live for our sake
a life of infinite merit, and consummate the work of
Redemption in excruciating sufferings and a bitter
Therefore, child of man, likeness of God, redeemed
soul, have confidence! God will save you; He will
Our trust in God will be still more strengthened, if
we reflect upon the manner in which He bestowed
upon us His infinite merits. He could not have granted
them with greater liberality, did He come into the
world to save each one of us alone. For us especially,
the children of His holy Church, He has opened wide
all the fountains of divine grace, and left abundant
means unto salvation.
Each one knows how often Providence has protected
him personally in many dangers of body and soul.
Who can think of all this, and not throw himself, with
all the trust of Christian hope, into the fatherly arms
of God? This is not only a just, but at the same time a
noble and meritorious act.
I say noble, for this trust marks the difference between
the children of God and the children of the
world. The latter are filled with care only to secure
by industry their own and their children's temporal
welfare; and when misfortunes assail them, they think
not of God, but seek help from man, as if man could
aid them without the will of the Almighty. And if
men help us, from whom do they receive the power
to do so but from God?
It is unfortunate that men, even Christians, think
of this so seldom, but ever run for aid to human be
ings, sometimes even doing, or allowing others to do,
for their alleviation, things which offend God. Thus
act, especially, those Catholics who, merely to gain
assistance in time of need, scruple not to join secret
societies, which, for important reasons, are condemned
by the Church.
What an admonition, a warning to us, especially in
these times, and this country, to beware of being
drawn into the nets of secret societies, and of being
thus excluded from the spiritual consolations of holy
Communion, not only during life, but also at the hour
Confidence in God is also a particularly holy and
meritorious act, because it includes so many other
acts of virtue, namely, the recognition of the sovereignity
of God over all His creatures and the entire
world, His omnipotence, power, goodness, truth,
fidelity and love. It is, therefore, an act which especially
honors and pleases God, and to which He has promised
His special protection: "Because he hoped in
Me, I will deliver him, I will protect him," is the promise
made by God in the Psalms. It is an act which
fully expresses the confession and longing of the
pious soul: All for the greater glory of God, even my
trials and my sorrows.
We have seen in the lives of many of the saints
how successfully this disposition of mind will aid us to
do great deeds in the service of God. Although
poor, unknown, persecuted, how many
great deeds they undertook and completed for the
glory of God and the salvation of souls! Why?
Knowing well their own capacity, they were humble
and acknowledged themselves worthless,
incompetent servants, but their trust was in God; hence their
grand plans and their perfection, and hence their
strength and perseverance. Trust in God, was their
Finally, how consoling, how sweet an act to place
ourselves like children in the arms of our Father,
and look confidingly up to Him in the storms of life.
It is a foretaste of the peace, the eternal rest that
the blessed enjoy in the contemplation of God!
"And a great multitude followed Him."--John 6.
The people followed Jesus into the wilderness, because
they were desirous of hearing Him. Their
bodies hungered, but their souls were so refreshed, so
delighted with the word He spoke, that they forgot
their corporal needs, and Christ, to recompense their
zeal, wrought a miracle.
What an example for us, to hear attentively the
Word of God. and draw from it fruit for the benefit of
our souls! Unfortunately, the wondrous fruits of the
spoken word of God are not to be found in the great
majority of Christian people. And why? The words
of today's Gospel, if carefully considered, will answer
Were the dispositions of the children of the Church
like those of the five thousand people who followed Christ
into the wilderness, the Word of God would bring forth
abundant fruit for the salvation of all.
Mary, thou who didst gain from the words of
thy divine Son such wondrous benefits, pray for us that
we also may henceforth draw abundant fruit therefrom
for our soul's salvation! O speak in the most holy name
of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
Five thousand men followed Christ into the wilderness
to hear Him speak. How great must their desire
have been to understand His doctrine! It caused
them to disregard the necessaries of life; they did not
even think of providing food. What a salutary lesson for those Christians, who frivolously neglect to hear the word of God from those of whom Christ has said: "Those; who hear you, hear
me! The desire to hear the Word of God is fearfully
wanting in many Christians. Are there only a few who
the whole year long listen not to a single sermon? who
think they are doing wonders if they assist at Mass
every Sunday? Is it surprising that they lead an indifferent
life, or even follow the ways of evil without
concern? How can it be otherwise? During the entire
year they hear not a word of advice or instruction
regarding those duties, which, as children of the
Church, they must fulfill, if they would lead a good
and holy life.
They live from year to year unconcernedly in the
occasions of sin. And why? Because no one reproves
them or shows to them the dangers which threaten
their souls. They live in sin, because no one pictures
to them frequently and touchingly the wickedness, the
misfortune, the guilt of sin. It does not enter their
thoughts to walk in the path of righteousness, or to
live a holy life, because no one reminds them of their
obligations, and because they have before their eyes
only the example of other in different Christians.
How different would the case be, if they heard the
Word of God every Sunday with a well disposed heart!
But this assistance they fail to secure.
The radical fault lies in the slight esteem they have
for the Word of God. Hence, even if they do hear a
sermon, they devote their attention to the style and
delivery of the speaker, and listen to him more as a man
and lecturer, than as a priest and preacher. St. Paul,
writing to the Thessalonians, gives thanks to God that
they had received his word "not as the word of men,
but (as it is indeed) the Word of God, Who worketh in
you that have believed." Will God work in those who
listen to the divine Word as the word of men?
The priest speaks in the name of God. It is the
Lord who addresses us, when by His commission the
preacher expounds the teachings and precepts of the
Church. St. Teresa one day saw our Lord Himself standing
at the side of a priest in the pulpit softly whispering
into his ear what he was preaching to the people.
How attentively must not the saint have listened to
every word which came from the lips of that priest!
How carefully would you not listen to this sermon, were
you to see beside me Christ suggesting to me all that
I am saying! And yet, whenever a priest of the
Church preaches the Gospel and expounds it
according to the interpretation of the Fathers and of holy
Mother Church, it is really Christ that speaks to us.
Has he not declared emphatically: "He that hears you
Do not therefore say: "I am not interested in what
the preacher says; I know it already, and perhaps just
as well as he." You forget that divine grace accompanies
the word of the priest as minister of the Lord,
which is not the case when he who addresses you is
not a priest, or not possessed of divine mission.
Hence the frequent astonishing conversions of repentant
sinners, who have assisted at a sermon which
convinced or moved them, although the sermon, perhaps
told them nothing new, nothing that they had not
Divine grace, which accompanied the words of the
priest, accomplished the deed. Therefore I say, if we
do not profit by sermons, it is because we lack that
hunger and thirst for the Word of God, which a proper
esteem for it is calculated to produce.
There are many, however, who though they feel the
need and good of a sermon, yet always fail to hear one,
and always find numberless excuses to justify their
conduct. They say: I have not the time, my business
prevents me. I live properly, and know what the duties
of a Christian are. I answered these excuses when
I spoke on the nature, worth, and divine influence of
the Word of God. I will now merely say, in regard
to time, that he who wills can do much, often can do
whatsoever he wills. Moreover we should remember
that we can expect no blessing even in this world, if,
neglecting to speak to God in prayer, and to listen to
His sacred Word, we desecrate the Lord s day by
servile work, business transactions, or frivolous
intercourse with others.
Our Lord says: "Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom
of God and His justice, and all these things shall
be added unto you." Those, however, who live frivolously
and who care not to hear the Word of God, heed not
The Church possesses no attraction for such people,
and they only visit it to fulfill, outwardly, their duties
as Christians. Even if they sometimes do hear a sermon
they take it not to heart, and find in it no food
for the soul. And yet the Word of God is the Manna
which, as the Holy Ghost says, contains all sweetness,
and which, if we properly meditate upon it, will allay
the hunger of our soul.
A man who desires ardently his salvation ought
naturally to hunger and thirst after a more complete
knowledge of the science which will secure it for him.
Listen to sermons! They will teach you this science.
The word of God will enlighten you.
He who seeks in truth his salvation, desires strength
to live in accordance with the recognized will of God.
Listen to sermons! The Word of God will animate
and strengthen you, by untold motives, to fulfill your
duties and lead a holy life.
The heart of man hungers and thirsts after good advice,
and guidance to escape the evils or to cure the diseases
of his soul. Listen to sermons! The Word of
God offers you these means; make use of them, and
your soul will be benefited.
Man here upon earth, longs for consolation in sorrow
and suffering; hear the Word of God! It will comfort, it
will refresh you. A heart sighing after holiness, desires to receive
the graces necessary to this end. Listen to the Word
of God coming from on high! Meditate in union with
the people of today's Gospel, that is: with grateful
love for Jesus, reflect on the Word of God, and the
Lord will satisfy the hunger of your soul, bestow upon
you light, comfort, and strength in His service! Amen!
"And this He said to try him; for He Himself knew what He would do."--John 6.
"Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?"
Christ asked Philip. He questioned
him thus to try him. He--Jesus--knew that by a
miracle He would feed those who, in order to hear
His Word, had so zealously followed Him.
That which Christ did in today s Gospel is repeated
by divine Providence unceasingly in the life of man.
Men so often know not what they do, and so little
accustom themselves to yield submissively to the decrees
of Providence! Were it otherwise, how willingly would
God do great and wonderful things in us!
I say: Only too often you know not what you are
doing, no matter how clever you deem yourself; but
God always knows what He does. Hence yield
yourself to His guidance.
Mary, thou who didst stand silent beneath the
cross, obtain for us that we may submit as perfectly as
thou didst to the divine, though trying, decrees of
Providence! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the
greater glory of God!
"Father, they know not what they do!" Indeed,
most men know not what they do. They neither
understand nor reflect on the ways of God, nor allow
themselves to be guided by His fatherly hand. They
wish the Lord to follow whither they lead, and to do as
they wish, because they imagine it will promote their
happiness, while only too often it proves to be the
cause of their misfortune and ruin.
This is the case, first, with all those who are foolish
enough to seek the gratification of their wishes where
it can not be found, but where, on the contrary, they
meet the reverse. Man, who is created for happiness,
seeks to satisfy the inclinations of his nature. He desires worldly
goods, honors and pleasures, and these for the longest possible period. God, however, has not created
him for these, but for Himself, for His glory; and this,
for all eternity, but under the one condition that we
The sinner seeks the gratification of his natural
inclinations for riches, honors and pleasures; but
where and how does he seek it? In creatures,
and by the transgression of God's laws. Oh, fatal
delusion; for what are all earthly possessions? Dust!
What is all earthly honor? Vapor! What is all
worldly pleasure? Delusion! What is the longest
age? Scarcely a moment, if compared with eternity.
Besides, how true and undeniable is the assurance
of Holy Writ, that each one will be punished in that
wherein he offended! The proud suffer humiliation; the
avaricious, imaginary need; the passionate, wrongs;
the envious, losses; the impure, great bodily torments;
the intemperate, thirst; the indolent, hardships.
And, notwithstanding this, such men think that they
act wisely, and consider the ways of the virtuous
foolish, because these do not allow themselves every
enjoyment, but turn their eyes from time to eternity,
and bestow all their care upon the latter.
"Father, they know not what they do!" But Jesus
knoweth what He does when He afflicts these worldly,
sinful children of His Church with misfortune, when
He throws obstacles in their evil path, and thus calls,
admonishes and urges them to repentance.
When the Lord in this manner designs to seek men
they ought to be most grateful; for then there is hope
that they will return to the path of salvation. No more
terrible judgment can befall the sinner than when God
allows him to walk unpunished the road to destruction,
and recompenses the good moral qualities, which he
may still possess, with temporal goods, for then nothing
awaits him in the other world save the endless punishment of sin.
But not only to sinners, but also to those who,
though they fear God, and keep His commandments,
still lead in the world the life of lukewarm and tepid
Christians, are the words of God addressed: "They
know not what they do," nor what they desire. God,
however, knows why He sends this or that calamity,
if Christians do not, who, in their ignorance, endeavor
to resist or avoid the dispensations of Providence.
The evil sometimes goes still further. Even among
good Christians there are unfortunately many who,
finding the ways of God incomprehensible, dare even
to criticise them in their own mind, or in the presence of
their intimate friends, and who, refusing to put themselves
entirely in God's hands, never draw, for the
sanctification of their souls, the full benefit from the
sacred dispensations of divine Providence.
Why are these miserable and deluded persons so
obstinate, so unyielding? I answer: Because they judge
the ways of God as they appear to them; they are
not sufficiently penetrated with the light of holy faith,
and do yield to their self-conceit.
It is not without reason that Jesus exhorts us "not
to judge according to the appearance." It may happen,
and, in fact, not seldom does happen, that pious
and zealous souls make plans, and are confused and
embarrassed when, on the point of carrying them out,
they find that these plans have been thwarted and
rendered futile. God allows this; but men do not
know it, and can not comprehend why He permits it.
Why? Because they do not really know men as they
are; but God knows them.
They do not know themselves, or how they stand
in the sight of God. Not so, however, Jesus. He
knows how weak they are, and that, if they began
the work, they would leave it unfinished, and abandon
it, which would be worse than not to have begun
it at all.
They can not read the heart of men. Not so, however,
Jesus. He knows what He does. He knows
that those very persons who now seem favorably
disposed towards them, would afterwards oppose their
work, and destroy it. They do not know that a good
deed done now may prevent the execution of a better
Finally, they do not consider that God has no
need of us to lead souls to their destination, and that
frequently He only bestows upon us the merit of our
good intentions. "Lord, Thou hast no need of my
works," says the Psalmist. Oh, how beneficial to
every soul would it be if she made a similar confession!
Then the arm of God would not be shortened;
for, seeing us perfectly willing to let Him act for us,
and to leave to Him the results of all our labors, whatever
their importance, He would be most ready to
multiply the loaves of bread that is, to increase His
graces and blessings, because we would then be working
only for His honor and glory, and not for our own
self-love and vanity.
If we are thus disposed, if we act in this manner,
then will those, who are Christians only in name, be
induced to say, when they consider our life: We can
not understand how people can live thus; how they
can care so little for worldly goods, so little for amusement,
honor, and the approbation of men; and, withal,
be so lavish in providing for the needy, in seeking, at
so much trouble and division, for the well-being of
others. How can they despise the world, and seem to
find heaven upon earth in union with Jesus, especially
in the Most Holy Sacrament? They do not understand
this; they do not know it. But those who live
thus know why, and they can say, with David: "I believe,
therefore do I speak thus."
I believe, I trust in Jesus, therefore I live thus, and
in joy and sorrow exclaim: Jesus, in life and in death,
I am thine! Amen!