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The Black Death in Scandinavian countries
The King feared that "all our misdeeds should lead the same "plaga" and mortality to our subjects." He had, therefore, taken responsibility for the well-being of the people. He had summoned their bishops, a number of Councillors of the realm and canons of the cathedrals whose bishops could not, at so short notice, attend the meetings where measures should be discussed that "could please God and induce Him by his grace to bestow his mercy on us". They had agreed on the following measures:
"all people throughout all the Realm of Sweden, rich, ecclesiastics, laymen, old and young, females and males, should come barefooted to their parish churches on Friday in every week and confess their belief in God, His righteousness and power, with appropriate humility. They should walk (in procession) around the church with their sacred treasures (relics, images of saints, and so on), attend Mass with invocation of God on that day, make their offerings on the altar of the pennies that they could afford, so that others could receive alms. The Church wardens should distribute this offer among poor people and it should under no circumstances come in the hands of the priest. We order and advise you that on each Friday every Christian shall fast on water and bread: those who do not want to do that shall at least abstain from all fish and fast on ale and bread.
Mass shall be said in honor of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, that She would deign to ask her blessed Son on her behalf to turn His wrath away from these countries for the sake of our humility. Every bishop has granted 40 days of indulgence to all those in his diocese who have prepared themselves for their deaths and made proper confessions, which all human beings are advised to do these days. ... For this reason, We convey to all human beings the curative advice for their souls that every human being, while God still has given him some time, to cleanse his conscience, make his confession and with full contrition do penance for his sins, so that when God will visit him, He will find him so ready that his souls would be taken in God's hand.
Source: The Black Death and Later Plague Epidemics in the Scandinavian Countries ...By Ole Jørgen Benedictow page 171
Day 26 – March 21 - On Pride
Pride is an untrue opinion of ourselves, an untrue idea of what we are not.
The proud man is always disparaging himself, that people may praise him the more. The more the proud man lowers himself, the more he seeks to raise his miserable nothingness. He relates what he has done, and what he has not done; he feeds his imagination with what has been said in praise of him, and seeks by all possible means for more; he is never satisfied with praise. See, my children, if you only show some little displeasure against a man given up to self-love, he gets angry, and accuses you of ignorance or injustice towards him.... My children, we are in reality only what we are in the eyes of God, and nothing more. Is it not quite clear and evident that we are nothing, that we can do nothing, that we are very miserable? Can we lose sight of our sins, and cease to humble ourselves?
If we were to consider well what we are, humility would be easy to us, and the demon of pride would no longer have any room in our heart. See, our days are like grass – like the grass which now flourishes in the meadows, and will presently be withered; like an ear of corn which is fresh only for a moment, and is parched by the sun. In fact, my children, today we are full of life, full of health; and tomorrow, death will perhaps come to reap us and mow us down, as you reap your corn and mow your meadows.... Whatever appears vigorous, whatever shines, whatever is beautiful, is of short duration.... The glory of this world, youth, honors, riches, all pass away quickly, as quickly as the flower of grass, as the flower of the field.... Let us reflect that so we shall one day be reduced to dust; that we shall be thrown into the fire like dry grass, if we do not fear the good God.
Good Christians know this very well, my children; therefore they do not occupy themselves with their body; they despise the affairs of this world; they consider only their soul and how to unite it to God. Can we be proud in the face of the examples of lowliness, of humiliations, that Our Lord has given us, and is still giving us every day? Jesus Christ came upon earth, became incarnate, was born poor, lived in poverty, died on a cross, between two thieves.... He instituted an admirable Sacrament, in which He communicates Himself to us under the Eucharistic veil; and in this Sacrament He undergoes the most extraordinary humiliations. Residing continually in our tabernacles, He is deserted, misunderstood by ungrateful men; and yet He continues to love us, to serve us in the Sacrament of the Altar.
O my children! what an example of humiliation does the good Jesus give us! Behold Him on the Cross to which our sins have fastened Him; behold Him: He calls us, and says to us, "Come to Me, and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart." How well the saints understood this invitation, my children! Therefore, they all sought humiliations and sufferings. After their example, then, let us not be afraid of being humbled and despised. St. John of God, at the beginning of his conversion, pretended that he was crazy, ran about the streets, and was followed by the populace, who threw stones at him; he always came in covered with mud and with blood. He was shut up as a madman; the most violent remedies were employed to cure him of his pretended illness; and he bore it all in the spirit of penance, and in expiation of his past sins. The good God, my children, does not require of us extraordinary things. He wills that we should be gentle, humble, and modest; then we shall always be pleasing to Him; we shall be like little children; and He will grant us the grace to come to Him and to enjoy the happiness of the saints.
Source: Lenten Reading plan: Daily readings from St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, by Fr. Bryan W. Jerabek