"Inspectio Cordis": Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21

Saint Faustina wrote that Satan can “fake” humility, but he can never feign obedience. Even if we do not have religious superiors, as Catholics, we have a wealth of doctrine on how to live a moral, Christian life. If we take that seriously, we will always find new manners of being obedient to Christ through His Church.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

A gaze of the heart. Examining the depth of one’s heart.

There is no one way to translate the Latin title Inspectio Cordis, given to the collection of meditations for Sundays by the Founder of the Marians, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701).

These meditations, published weekly on Fridays in preparation for the Sunday Mass, follow the style and purpose of our holy Father Founder. While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader. As his spiritual son, I will attempt my best to imitate his style and imitate his ministry of preaching to hearts.

The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.


Fourth Sunday of Easter – Cycle B
April 21, 2024

This Sunday’s Inspectio Cordis meditation uses the original meditations – in the quotation marks – from St. Stanislaus Papczyński. 

Before Holy Communion

1. “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”           
“Note, that nothing pleases the Divine Majesty more than charity towards your neighbor, which entails that we endure all inconveniences, slanders, and even blows out of love for neighbor. Just as Christ’s greatest virtue was His willingness to suffer death on the Cross out of love for us; so, likewise, we will have no more excellent an act of virtue than to endure something for the sake of our neighbor. ‘Greater love has no man than this,’ says the eternal Word, ‘that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13).

“Oh, if you would lay it down for your enemies, who definitely are your neighbors! If you could die, praying for them at this moment in the sight of Divine Majesty.”

Whether clergy, religious or lay, we are all called to imitate Jesus as the Good Shepherd. By receiving Him in Holy Communion, He gives us His strength – His love – to willingly endure inconveniences and even blows for our enemies and our neighbors. By this we know that our Holy Communion has borne fruit: our willingness to share in Christ’s “great virtue” of willingly suffering death out of love.

What inconveniences can you willingly bear for your neighbor this week? How can you draw from Holy Communion the strength to love them as Jesus loves you?

2. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us.”
There is so much “talk” of the Father and His love, that these words can seem banal or saccharine. But St. John is encouraging us to allow the Holy Spirit to renew His gift of “wonder and awe” – fear of the Lord – within us. In that manner, we can begin anew to take in the breadth of His love that desires to make of us, sinners, saints; of us, orphans, His sons and daughters. That is what we already are by His grace, and St. John reminds us: what lies ahead is beyond our comprehension.

We quickly forget our dignity, bestowed upon us in Christ, and can suffer low self-esteem. But anyone who believes in Christ ought to have the highest esteem possible, for the Father holds us in such high esteem, that He gives us His Son and makes us His sons and daughters.

How can you take in — emotionally, spiritually — the depth of the Father’s love during Mass? What does it mean to you that you are His son or daughter?

3. “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit...’”
Saint Peter, formerly abashed to the point of denying Christ out of fear of death, now boldly proclaims Him to the High Priest and others. This change came about because St. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. We, too, are called to be filled with this same Spirit and to equally proclaim Christ, in whose name alone salvation can be found. For just as the Father has bestowed on us the privilege of being His children, so He wants us to cooperate and spread the Gospel, that all might become His adopted children.

But often, we remain entrapped by fear of being rejected or awkward before others. In this Holy Communion, we can ask Jesus to fill us with this Spirit, to boldly proclaim Him, that others may receive salvation and become adopted children. For we are to share with others the love the Father has bestowed on us.

How are you afraid of speaking publicly the name of Christ? How do you work to bring others to Christ and to become children of the Father?

After Holy Communion

1. “I am the good shepherd.”
“Consider that our Savior rightly calls Himself the Good Shepherd, for He refreshed you today with such abundant nourishment of His Body and Blood. You suffered from enormous hunger, your strength was failing you, you were weak, and you were totally unfit for any spiritual exercise. By inviting you to His table, He strengthened you with the sacred food and drink. As He refreshed Elijah with a hearth cake in past times (cf. 1 Kings 19:5-8), so He lifted you onto your feet and refreshed you with the angelic bread, so that you may follow pleasantly, firmly, and perseveringly the long way of perfection that lies ahead for you.

“Once, Jacob demanded remuneration from Laban for taking care of, breeding, and feeding the latter’s herd (cf. Gen 30:25-43). What are you going to give to Jesus the Good Shepherd in return for caring for your soul? Give Him yourself.”

How often we come to Mass, spiritually hungry, without strength to persevere, and “unfit” for focusing in prayer. Yet, Jesus gives Himself to us all the same, so as to tend our weary souls and refresh us with His love. He desires us to continue along the “way of perfection” – of growth in His love – that yet lay before us. In walking that path, we give Him ourselves, entrusting our lives to the work of His Spirit.

Where have you given up following the path of perfection in His love, finding yourself weak, hungry, and unfit? How can you give Him yourself to Him anew?

2. “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
“Consider how much you would feel obliged to a sovereign, who having invited you to his own table, would treat you most sumptuously. Then he would load you with most abundant gifts and send you off in the royal carriage escorted by his guardsmen to your pitiable hut. You would understand this as the greatest favor. Indeed, the heavenly Sovereign showed you this kind of favor today. He invited you to the heavenly table; He fed you with the heavenly dishes and endowed you with great gifts of graces.

“Finally, instead of a carriage, having added to you the wings of love, He conducted you back to your chamber and remained with you, dwelling with you and wishing to be with you always to make you enjoy the delights. Oh, what a favor! What will you do for this Guest in turn? Give Him your heart.”

We sometimes are unaware of how Jesus bestows such great graces upon us – greater than any treatment by a president or king – during Mass. St. John Vianney once stated that, if we knew what happened in one Mass, we would die of love. For Jesus offers us His own pierced Heart in Holy Communion, and He asks of us our hearts.

How aware are you of Jesus’ generosity in Mass? How can you offer Him not only good deeds, but your very heart and your tender love, during this coming week?

3. “I know mine and mine know me…”
“I think that obedience is the true sign and hallmark of the sheep of Christ for He says: ‘I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me’ (cf. Jn 10:14) and ‘hear My voice’ (cf. Jn 10:27). It is as if He were saying: ‘Those who are obedient to My orders are My true sheep. Souls that are rebellious, stubborn, despising My yoke, following their own will, are not My sheep. My sheep are these, who “hear My voice.”’

“It is precisely so: he who is not obedient to Christ and to the Deputies of Christ; that is, to any Superiors, does not belong to the flock of Christ. Saul disobeyed the voice of the prophet, or rather the voice of God speaking through Samuel, therefore he was reproved (cf. 1 Sam 15:1-28); and it seems that he was expelled forever from the sheepfold of God.

“Oh, whatever indications of sanctity you have, whatever good works you do, remember that you are not a sheep of Christ and do not carry His true distinguishing mark, unless you are obedient, unless you hear and follow His voice, regardless of the one through whom He speaks to you.”

Saint Faustina wrote that Satan can “fake” humility, but he can never feign obedience. Even if we do not have religious superiors, as Catholics, we have a wealth of doctrine on how to live a moral, Christian life. If we take that seriously, we will always find new manners of being obedient to Christ through His Church.

Where do you struggle to be obedient to the teaching of Christ and the Church? How can you hear His voice through His representatives?

Next week: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Previous Sunday
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BELH

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