Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Preface

Our blessed Lord is the visible expression of God’s troth and of God’s love to men, and His temporal mission contemplated the establishment of that truth and of that love in the hearts of men. In His redeeming blood we have been given “the power to become the sons of God”; and His life and teachings must be the object of frequent meditation for all those who have their spiritual advancement seriously at heart. Deep down within our being we experience a longing to know which would embrace the universe in its compass. Happy indeed are we if, with. the Apostle, we desire not to know anything but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He is the explanation of all things in heaven and on earth. He is the inspiration of man in youth, his support in full maturity, and his solace when the battle of life is drawing to a close. Near His Sacred Heart innocence finds its purest joy and its safest shelter. The afflicted lay down their burden at the foot of His cross and go their way rejoicing. The sinner hears fall from His divine lips words of pardon and comfort, and dares to be a hero for love of Him Who has forgiven and forgotten all. We feel the weight of our infirmities and we would have a remedy.

“Come to Me,” says Christ, “all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” The mystery of suffering meets us on every hand, and in Him we are taught “that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come. Yet so, if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified with Him.” In fine, He is a light to our faltering feet whilst in the way, and our reward exceeding great when death shall have been swallowed up in victory. “This is eternal life,” says our divine Lord Himself by the mouth of Saint John, “that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.”

How welcome, therefore, must any book be whose special purpose is to inspire the faithful with a deeper knowledge and a more ardent love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the object which the pious author of the “Devout Instructions of the Epistles and Gospels” proposed to himself. His Translator represents him truly when he writes:

“No exercise of our lives is more salutary than meditation on the life, death, doctrines, and example of our divine Saviour. It is milk to children, nourishing food to adults, medicine to the sick, salvation to sinners, consolation to those of little faith, strength to the penitent, counsel to the just. To the perfect it opens secret mysteries, and gives to the faithful grace in time and happineBB in eternity.”

On this sole ground the work affords sufficient evidence of its utility for the general faithful.

It has, moreover, this peculiar advantage, that its lessons are arranged after the order of the ecclesiastical year. The Word of God possesses in itself a certain sacramental power. Still the presentation of the Word cannot fail to gain in effectiveness by reason of association with the object-lessons drawn from the Church’s liturgy. The regular sequence of seasons and festivals exhibits the history of our relations with the divine Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and we must ever consider it one of the most happy inspirations of the author, as well as one of the most salutary features of the book, that the Gospel of the Word is everywhere reinforced by the “living Gospel of the ecclesiastical year.” The Church fulfils her divine mission of teaching all nations, not merely by the ministry of the Word, but also by the practices which she has adopted and the form in which she clothes the essence of her worship. Not without reason, then, must we regard that instruction as most opportune which is given in connection with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. When, during the celebration of the sacred mysteries, we reflect upon Him Who for love of us “bore our sins in His body upon the tree,” we are the more encouraged “to die to sin that so we may live to justice.”

The solid worth and undoubted usefulness of Goffine’s Manual appealed strongly to the learned hierarchy of Germany and elicited their warmest expressions of approval. Gladly do we profit by the opportunity which a new edition of the work offers to reaffirm all that has been said in its favor, and to wish for it that measure o£ success which its singular excellence deserves.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions