Second Sunday in Lent

Second Sunday in Lent:
The Transfiguration of our Lord

Sermons for Children’s Masses
by Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900

Gospel. Matt. xvii. 1-9. At that time: Jesus taketh unto Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun: and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshaded them. And lo a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face: and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: Arise, and fear not And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

I want to speak to you today of heaven. But what am I to say of that blessed place? It is as if I would take a coal from the blazing fire and, with it as an illustration, should try to explain to you the glory of the sun. The saints, who we may say had a foretaste of heaven, would cry out, “O paradise! O paradise!” and could say no more, as if they were wrapt in an ecstasy of delight. St. Paul tells us that he saw and heard things that no tongue could tell, nor eye ever contemplate, in fact the truth of the reality has never entered the mind of a human being, “what God has prepared for those who love Him.” St. Catharine of Sienna was admitted into paradise; in an ecstasy she told Blessed Raymondo, “I have seen such things as would be impossible for me to tell in words, and if I could describe it you could not comprehend it.” If on entering a palace you are struck with its riches and beauty, its magnificent corridors hung with beautiful pictures, its grand statues and furniture, splendid carpets and rugs, the walls covered with gold, then think how much more magnificent must be the house of the King of kings, the Creator of heaven and earth.

St. Fulgentius at one time saw the grandeur of the city of Rome, when it was illuminated for a great feast; his mind turned to the beauties of paradise and he said, “How beautiful must be the celestial Jerusalem, if Rome is so magnificent!” If in this world so much honor is given to those who love its vanities, how much more honor and glory will not God give to those who deserve it after a good life? A palace of this world, when compared to the celestial dwelling of the just, would be no more than the dingy, smoky hut of a savage: the most picturesque garden, compared to the garden of heaven, would be like a dismal desert. According to the Apocalypse gold is as plentiful in heaven as dust on this earth, the streets are of the purest gold. St. John in describing the city of heaven tells us that it is a square, having twelve gates of the most precious stones. Jeremias, the prophet, tells us that he could not describe the immensity of this city, its towers and walls built of transparent crystals. Isaias calls it a city of pleasure. Better is a day here than thousands in the habitations of this world.

When you arrive in this beautiful city you will first see your guardian angel, who will congratulate you. At last all the labor is over, no more pain, afflictions, or sufferings. What thanks will not your soul pour forth to that angel for having conducted you through so many difficulties, defended you from so many enemies who were besetting you to rob you of your future happiness! You will meet there glorious processions of the heavenly citizens, who will rejoice in your arrival. What joy there will be to meet your good parents, your friends; what a recognition! What happiness to meet your good companions, who by their example and modest words made your start in life a holy one and your continuance in it successful! You will bless the day that you broke off with bad companions who had great pleasure in the world in sin. You will be happy again in meeting your teachers, to whom you will not be able to render sufficient thanks for the advice given you, and to whom, after God, you owe gratitude for the happy privilege of being now safe in the haven of eternal bliss. What happiness will you not feel to see those saints to whom you have prayed, and whom you have honored in life. You will see St. Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord, the Apostles of Christ, St. John, St. Peter, St. Paul, and all the other saints, of whom you have heard so much: you will cast yourself at their feet to pour out to them your fervent thanks. They will say, “No longer are we your protectors, but your companions and sharers in the glory of the Lord. You are no longer guests and pilgrims, but permanent inhabitants of heaven.” They will pay you the respect due to your victory; you will receive greater honors than if you were kings and princes. Is it possible, my dear young people, that because you refuse to give up a bad companion, or a sin, you would resign the right to all this future glory, and refuse to become the companion of the pure angels and the glorious saints?

What happiness you will feel when you are brought to the throne of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, advocate of sinners and your mother also! How beautiful she is! So beautiful is she that you would gladly be blind all your life just for this one look at her. You will fall prostrate at her feet, kiss the hem of her garments and with gratitude you will cry out, “By your aid I am now in paradise: you have been so kind to me in my wanderings and now you have brought me to this unmerited glory.” What joy must it not be to see Mary, to hear her speak in the musical words of heaven! She will embrace and caress you. Then from the throne of Mary there is but a step to that of her divine Son, Jesus. Yes, you shall behold Jesus, living in a holy and glorious humanity. What rays of light and of glory will shine forth from that countenance! If a hundred suns were to unite their glorious rays they would not be comparable to the glory of the face of Christ.

It is said of St. Teresa that she once saw in spirit for a moment the sacred and adorable humanity of Our Lord, and was so enraptured by the vision that the sun in its meridian appeared pale and without warmth in comparison to Him. From here you will be conducted to the throne of the Blessed Trinity, and you will fix your gaze on the centre of all good, the fountain of all beatitude, the abyss of inaccessible light. To see God! Yes, this is the very essence of the glory and happiness of all eternity! You will be lost in ecstasy for the torrent of joy which will inundate your soul. You will see God, you will love Him, you will possess Him; as St. Augustine tells us, “You shall see the happiness of God, you will be rich with His riches.” But when shall that blessed day dawn when we shall be in heaven? It will come, my dear young people, very soon, as soon as this life is over. We all wish to go to heaven–that is our general desire. But remember the inscription that will be seen at the portals of paradise, and which concerns you very much: “This is no place for dogs who are filthy, no place for the impure, the revengeful–in short, no place for the sinner. The innocent alone and those of a pure heart may enter.” Can you even bear the thought in your mind that this happiness is not for you, that the blood of the Redeemer was shed for you in vain, and that He will not open the gates of heaven for you? Our Lord once said to St. Catharine of Sienna, after having made her feel a little of the happiness of paradise, ” See, My daughter, of what great happiness the sinner deprives himself, and to what dreadful torments he is blindly rushing.” Keep your eyes always on heaven, my dear young people; that is your fatherland, your inheritance, your kingdom: rouse yourselves to serve Our Lord faithfully, to practise good works courageously, to avoid evil, and rather suffer death than renounce heaven.

We read in the Sacred Scriptures of a mother whose seven sons were apprehended by a cruel tyrant, and terrible torments were inflicted on them before her very eyes. The skin of their heads was pulled off with the hair, their hands and feet were cut off, their tongues were cut out, they were roasted at a slow fire, and in these torments she saw six of them die. One still remained, the youngest, the handsomest, the one most dear to her heart. The tyrant turned to the mother and said, “Have compassion on this one that is left; make him adore the idols, make him obey me, and you shall have him safe and sound. But if you refuse, my bitterest hate shall fall on him, and when he is gone I will apply the same tortures to you, until you also close your eyes in death.” Then the mother pressed the youth to her bosom, bathed his sweet face with tears of affection, and said, “I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider, that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also: So thou shalt not fear this tormentor, but being made a worthy partner with thy brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren.”

The youth allowed himself to be scourged, and suffered the greatest torments, and so was found worthy to enter heaven. What do you say now? With you the question is not whether you have to pass through fire and sword to obtain heaven. God requires less of you. He wants you to persevere in the good way in which you have been educated, obedient to your superiors, faithful to your prayers and in the frequent use of the sacraments. He asks you only to curb your passions. Many have done great things to gain heaven, as you have heard. The martyrs sacrificed their lives–will you do less than they? Will you for a momentary pleasure renounce heaven? Will you rather be a devil in hell than a saint in paradise? Think seriously of this, and then decide nobly that, cost what it may, you will do all in your power, with the grace of God, to merit that eternal reward that awaits all those that are faithful to the end.

 

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