Wednesday, February 09, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

"When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men ... When thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men ... When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast." [Matt. vi. 2-16.] Here let us ask ourselves, first about our alms, whether we be not like the hypocrites. Doubtless some of our charity must be public, for the very mentioning our name encourages others to follow our example. Still I ask, is much of our charity also private? is as much private as is public? I will not ask whether much more is done in secret than is done before men, though this, if possible, ought to be the case. But at least, if we think in the first place of our public charities, and only in the second of the duty of private alms-giving, are we not plainly like the hypocritical Pharisees?

The manner of our prayers will supply us with a still stronger test. We are here assembled in worship. It is well. Have we really been praying as well as seeming to pray? have our minds been actively employed in trying to form in us the difficult habit of prayer? Further, are we as regular in praying in our closet to our Father which is in secret, as in public? Do we feel any great remorse in omitting our morning and evening prayers, in saying them hastily and irreverently? And yet should not we feel excessive pain and shame, and rightly, at the thought of having committed any open impropriety in church? Should we, for instance, be betrayed into laughter or other light conduct during the service, should we not feel most acutely ashamed of ourselves, and consider we had disgraced ourselves, notwithstanding our habit of altogether forgetting the next moment any sinful carelessness at prayer in our closet? Is not this to be as the Pharisees?


Blogger William Luse said...

He never fails to flay my conscience.

6:38 PM  

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