Epistle of Fourth Sunday of Advent

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Brethren, let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man’s day: but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.


Verse 1. Mysteries of God. That is, the dogmas of faith, revealed by the Almighty. Estius.

Verse 3. Or by human judgment. Lit. by human day. The sense, says S. Jerom, is, by any human judgment, or by men, whose judgment is in the day, or time of this life: but God judges in his day, after this life, and chiefly at the last day of judgment. — Neither do I judge myself, so as to look upon myself absolutely certain of the state of my soul, or that I am for certain justified, though I am not conscious to myself of any thing, because I am to be judged by an omniscient God, the great searcher of hearts, who perhaps may discover faults, which I, partial to myself, overlook. Now if S. Paul durst not say, he was justified, what presumption is it for others to pretend to an absolute certainty, that they are just in the sight of God! Wi.

Verse 4. For I am not conscious. This great apostle of the Gentiles, though conscious to himself of no breach of duty, still does not dare to call himself just. How different is the conduct of this apostle, from those wicked impostors, who teach, that a man is justified by believing himself so. Est. — If this privileged apostle was afraid to from any judgment of his own heart and thoughts, whether they were pure or not, but left the trial thereof to the day of judgment, the day of his death, how presumptuous are they, who dare to pronounce on their election and predestination!

Verse 5. Judge not, &c. He gives them an admonition against rash and false judgments, and hints at those among them, who said, this man is better, this man is greater than such a one, &c. See S. Chrys. Wi.


931: The Power of the Church Concerning the Administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist

PIUS IV 1559-1565
SESSION XXI (July 16, 1562)
The Doctrine on Communion under both
Species and that of Little Children

It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, preserving their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places. Moreover, the Apostle seems to have intimated this in no obscure manner, when he said: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” [1 Cor. 4:1]; and that he himself used this power is quite manifest in this sacrament as well as in many other things, not only in this sacrament itself, but also in some things set down—with regard to its use, he says: “The rest I will set in order when I come” [1 Cor. 11:23]. Therefore holy mother Church, cognizant of her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although from the beginning of the Christian religion the use of both species was not infrequent, nevertheless, since that custom in the progress of time has been already widely changed, induced by weighty and just reasons, has approved this custom of communicating under either species, and has decreed that it be considered as a law, which may not be repudiated or be changed at will without the authority of the Church [can. 2].

2274: The Need and the Office, of the Priesthood

Pope Pius XI
From the Encyclical, "Ad catholici sacerdotii," 
December 20, 1935

The human race has always experienced the need of priests, that is, of men who, by the office lawfully entrusted to them, are mediators between God and humanity; whose entire duty in life embraces those activities which pertain to the eternal Godhead, and who offer prayers, remedies, and sacrifices in the name of society, which is obliged in very fact to cherish religion publicly, to acknowledge God as the Supreme Lord and first beginning, to propose Him as its last end, to offer Him immortal thanks, and to offer Him propitiation. In fact, among all peoples, whose customs are known, provided they are not compelled to act against the most sacred laws of nature, attendants of sacred affairs are found, although very often they serve vain superstitions, and likewise wherever men profess some religion and wherever they erect altars, far from lacking priests, they venerate them with special honors.

Yet, when divine revelation shone forth, the sacerdotal office was distinguished by greater dignity; this dignity, indeed, in a hidden manner Melchisedech, priest and king [cf. Gen. 14:18], foretells, whose example Paul the Apostle refers [cf. Heb. 5:10; 6:20; 7:1-11, 15, to the person and priesthood of Jesus Christ.

But if the attendant of sacred things, according to the famous definition of the same Paul, is a man “taken from amongst men,” yet “ordained for men in the things that pertain to God” [Heb. 5:1], his office surely looks not to human and transitory things, however much they seem worthy of regard and praise, but to divine and eternal things.…

In the sacred writings of the Old Testament, when the priesthood was established by the norms which Moses, influenced by the instigation and urging of God, had promulgated, special functions, duties, and rites were attributed to it.…

The priesthood of the Old Testament derived its majesty and glory from nothing other than the fact that it foretold that priesthood of the New and eternal Testament given by Jesus Christ, namely, that established by the blood of the true God and of the true man.

The Apostle of the Gentiles treating summarily and briefly of the greatness dignity, and office of the Christian priesthood expresses his opinion in these words, as it were, in a nutshell: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God [1 Cor. 4:1]”

810: The Fruit of Justification, that is, the Merit of Good Works, and the Reasonableness of that Merit

Council of Trent
SESSION VI (Jan. 13, 1547)
Decree On Justification

Nor indeed is this to be omitted, that although in the sacred Writings so much is ascribed to good works, that even “he that shall give a drink of cold water to one of his least ones” Christ promises “shall not lose his reward” [Matt. 10:42], and the Apostle testifies “that that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory” [2 Cor. 4:17]; nevertheless far be it that a Christian should either trust or “glory” in himself and not “in the Lord” [cf. 1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17], whose goodness towards all men is so great that He wishes the things which are His gifts [see n. 141] to be their own merits [can. 32]. And whereas “in many things we all offend” [Jas. 3:2; can. 23], each one should have before his eyes the severity and judgment as well as mercy and goodness; neither ought anyone to judge himself, even though he be “not conscious to himself of anything,” since the whole life of men must be judged and examined not by the judgment of men, but of God, who “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise from God” [1 Cor.4:4ff.], “who,” as it is written, “will render to every man according to his works” [Rom. 2:6].

After this Catholic doctrine of justification [can. 33]–which, unless he faithfully and firmly accepts it, no one can be justified–it seemed good to the holy Synod to add these canons, so that all may know, not only what they must hold and follow, but also what they ought to shun and avoid.

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