The Gospel

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Quentin, St. Wolfgang

St. John Chrysostom : Being yeast for the world

Letter to the Ephesians 5,21-33.

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

Psalms 128,1-2.3.4-5.

A song of ascents. Happy are all who fear the LORD, who walk in the ways of God.
What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be happy and prosper:
Like a fruitful vine your wife within your home, Like olive plants your children around your table.
Just so will they be blessed who fear the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion, all the days of your life That you may share Jerusalem's joy

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13,18-21.

Then he said, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and 'the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'" Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed (in) with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

Commentary of the day :

St. John Chrysostom (around 345-407), Archbishop of Constantinople
Homily 20 on the Acts of the Apostles

Being yeast for the world

Nothing is more derisory than a Christian, who does not care for the salvation of others. You cannot here plead poverty: for the poor widow that put in two small coins, shall be your accuser (Mk 12:42). And Peter said to the crippled man: "I have neither silver nor gold." (Acts 3:6) And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungry. You cannot plead lowness of birth: for the apostles too were simple men, and of simple parentage. You cannot allege want of education, for they too were unlearned. Even if you were a slave and a runaway, you could perform your part; for such was Onesimus, yet how much Paul honors him (Phl). You cannot plead infirmity, for such was Timothy. No matter who we are, everyone can profit his neighbor, if he will fulfil his part.

Consider the trees in the forest, how strong they are, how fair and of great height. But if we had a garden we would much rather have pomegranates, or fruitful olive trees. Fair trees but unfruitful…, such are people who only consider their own interest…

If the leaven mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would such a thing be leaven? If a perfume shed no sweet odor on those who approach it, could we call it a perfume? Therefore, don't say, "It is impossible for me to be a good influence on others". For if you are a Christian, it is impossible not to: it is the very nature of Christians… For it is easier for the sun not to give heat, nor to shine, than for the Christian not to send forth light.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Marcellus, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

John Paul II: Jesus heals on the sabbath: a sign of the dawn of the new creation

Letter to the Ephesians 4,32.5,1-8.

(And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light,

Psalms 1,1-

Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, Nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers.
Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy; God's law they study day and night.
They are like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; Its leaves never wither; whatever they do prospers.
But not the wicked! They are like chaff driven by the wind.
The LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13,10-17.

He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity." He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, "There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day." The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?" When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini", §24-25

Jesus heals on the sabbath: a sign of the dawn of the new creation

The day of the new creation: a comparison of the Christian Sunday with the Old Testament vision of the Sabbath prompted theological insights of great interest. In particular, there emerged the unique connection between the Resurrection and Creation. Christian thought spontaneously linked the Resurrection, which took place on "the first day of the week", with the first day of that cosmic week (cf. Gn 1:15) in the Book of Genesis… This link invited an understanding of the Resurrection as the beginning of a new creation, the first fruits of which is the glorious Christ, "the first born of all creation" (Col 1:15) and "the first born from the dead" (Col 1:18).

In effect, Sunday is the day above all other days which summons Christians to remember the salvation which was given to them in baptism and which has made them new in Christ. "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:12; cf. Rom 6:4-6). The liturgy underscores this baptismal dimension of Sunday, both in calling for the celebration of baptisms — as well as at the Easter Vigil — on the day of the week "when the Church commemorates the Lord's Resurrection", and in suggesting as an appropriate penitential rite at the start of Mass the sprinkling of holy water, which recalls the moment of Baptism in which all Christian life is born.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Narcissus

Saint Gregory the Great : “Son of David, have pity on me”

Book of Jeremiah 31,7-9.

For thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, The mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng. They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.

Psalms 126,1-2.2-3.4-5.6.

A song of ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then we thought we were dreaming.
Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD had done great things for them."
Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD had done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!
Restore again our fortunes, LORD, like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.
Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, Will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.

Letter to the Hebrews 5,1-6.

Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: "You are my son; this day I have begotten you"; just as he says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10,46-52.

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, he is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Gregory the Great (around 540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the Gospels, no. 2

“Son of David, have pity on me”

Scripture rightly presents us with this blind man seated at the edge of the path and asking for alms, for Truth itself said, “I am the way” (Jn 14:6). Thus, whoever does not know the clarity of eternal light is blind.

Even if he already believes in the Redeemer, he is seated at the edge of the path. If he already believes but neglects to ask that eternal light be given to him, and if he neglects to pray, this blind person can be seated at the edge of the path, but he is not asking for alms. But if he believes, if he knows the blindness of his heart and prays so as to receive the light of truth, then he really is that blind man, who is seated at the edge of the path and also asking for alms.

Thus, may the person who recognizes the darkness of his blindness and who feels deprived of eternal light cry out from the bottom of his heart, may he cry with all his soul: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”

Today the Church celebrates : Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles

Saint Cyril of Alexandria : “He chose twelve of them to be his apostles”

Letter to the Ephesians 2,19-22.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Psalms 19,2-3.4-5.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft.
One day to the next conveys that message; one night to the next imparts that knowledge.
There is no word or sound; no voice is heard;
Yet their report goes forth through all the earth, their message, to the ends of the world. God has pitched there a tent for the sun;

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6,12-16.

In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (380-444), Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Commentary on the Gospel according to John, 3,130

“He chose twelve of them to be his apostles”

Our Lord Jesus Christ established guides and teachers for the whole world as well as “administrators of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor 4:1) He commanded them to shine and to give light like torches not only in the land of the Jews…, but everywhere under the sun, for people living on the whole earth. Thus the word of Saint Paul is true: “One does not take this honor on his own initiative, but only when called by God.” (Heb 5:4)…

If he believed that he had to send his disciples just as the Father had sent him (Jn 20:21), it was necessary for those who were called to imitate him to discover for what task the Father had sent his Son. Thus he explained to us in various ways the nature of his own mission. One day he said: “I have not come to invite the self-righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.” (Lk 5:32) And again: “it is not to do my own will that I have come down from heaven, but to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6:38) And another time: “God did not send the S on into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:17)

He summed up the apostles’ function in a few words when he said that he sent them just as the Father had sent him. By this they would know that they had the responsibility to call the sinners to conversion, to care for the sick, both physically and spiritually; in their function as administrators, never to seek to do their own will, but the will of him who sent them; and finally, to save the world to the extent to which it would accept the Lord’s teachings.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Demetrius, St. Evaristus

Saint Faustina Kowalska : “To light a fire on the earth”: the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3)

Letter to the Ephesians 3,14-21.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Psalms 33,1-2.4-5.11-12.18-19.

Rejoice, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
For the LORD'S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever, wise designs through all generations.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.
But the LORD'S eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help,
Delivering them from death, keeping them alive in times of famine.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,49-53.

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), Religious
Journal, V, 42

“To light a fire on the earth”: the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3)

O Spirit of God, Spirit of love and of mercy,
Who pours into my heart the balm of trust,
Your grace confirms my soul in what is good,
Giving it an invincible strength: constancy!

O Spirit of God, Spirit of peace and of joy,
Who comforts my thirsting heart,
Pour into it the living spring of divine love
And make it dauntless in battle.

O Spirit of God, my soul’s most lovable guest,
I for my part desire to be faithful to you
In days of joy as much as in days of suffering;
Spirit of God, I desire to live always in your presence.

O Spirit of God who penetrates my being
And lets me know your divine and Trinitarian life,
You initiate me to your divine Being;
Thus united with you, I have eternal life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Gaudentius

Blessed Guerric of Igny : “You are not in the dark, that the day should catch you off guard, like a thief” (1 Thess 5:4)

Letter to the Ephesians 3,2-12.

if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, (namely, that) the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier. When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this I became a minister by the gift of God's grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him.

Is 12,2-3.4.5-6.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,
and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,39-48.

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

Commentary of the day :

Blessed Guerric of Igny (around 1080-1157), Cistercian abbot
3rd Sermon for Advent, 1

“You are not in the dark, that the day should catch you off guard, like a thief” (1 Thess 5:4)

“Prepare to meet your God, O Israel, for he is coming!” (cf. Am 4:12) And you too, my brothers, “be on guard. The Son of Man will come when you least expect him.” Nothing is more certain than his coming, but nothing is more uncertain than when he will come. For we know so little about the times and moments, which the Father has determined in his power in such a way that even the angels who surround him don’t know the day or the hour (Acts 1:7; Mt 24:36).

Our last day will also come, that is certain; but when and how is very uncertain for us. As someone said before, all we know is that “face to face with the elderly, he stands on the threshold, whereas face to face with young people, he keeps himself concealed.” (St. Bernard) … That day must not seize us unexpectedly, unprepared, like a thief in the night… May fear, remaining awake, make us ever ready until security follows upon the fear and not fear upon security. The person who is wise says, “I will be on my guard aga inst guilt,” (Ps 18:24), since I cannot preserve myself from death. For he knows that “the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest.” (Wis 4:7) Even more, those who were not enslaved to sin during their lifetime, triumph over death. How beautiful this is, my brothers, what happiness to be not only in security when faced with death, but even more, to triumph over it with glory, strong through the testimony of one’s conscience.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Anthony Mary Claret

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Keeping watch in the Holy Spirit

Letter to the Ephesians 2,12-22.

were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Psalms 85,9-10.11-12.13-14.

I will listen for the word of God; surely the LORD will proclaim peace To his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him.
Near indeed is salvation for the loyal; prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
The LORD will surely grant abundance; our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord, and good fortune will follow behind.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,35-38.

Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.

Commentary of the day :

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church
Sermon 17 on the Song of Songs, 2

Keeping watch in the Holy Spirit

We have to be vigilant and careful about the work of salvation ceaselessly performed in our inmost being with all the skill and sweetness of the Holy Spirit's artistry. If we do not wish to be deprived of a twofold gift, let us make sure that this heaven-sent Director, who can teach us all things, is never taken away from us without our knowledge. Let him never find us unprepared when he comes, but always with faces uplifted and hearts expanded to receive the copious blessing of the Lord. Let him find us "like people who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage-feast", for he never comes empty-handed from heaven's richly-laden table.

Therefore we must keep watch, even hour by hour, for we do not know at what hour he will come and depart again. The Holy Spirit comes and goes (Jn 3:8), and if we can stand firmly only with his support, it follows that we must fall when abandoned by him; fall, yes, but never fatally, since the Lord supports us by the hand. Persons who are spiritual or whom the Holy Spirit purposes to make spiritual, never cease to experience these alternations; he visits them every morning and tests them at any moment.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Saint John of Capistrano, priest (+1456)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta : “What shall I do?”

Letter to the Ephesians 2,1-10.

You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

Psalms 100,

worship the LORD with cries of gladness; come before him with joyful song.
Know that the LORD is God, our maker to whom we belong, whosepeople we are, God's well-tended flock.
Enter the temple gates with praise, its courts with thanksgiving. Give thanks to God, bless his name;
good indeed is the LORD, Whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,13-21.

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!" But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

Commentary of the day :

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
A Simple Path

“What shall I do?”

We all want nothing other than to be happy and at peace. We were created for that, and we can only find happiness and peace by loving God. Loving him brings us joy and happiness. Many, especially in the West, think that living comfortably makes a person happy. I think it is more difficult to be happy when one is rich, because the concerns about earning money and keeping it hide God from us. However, if God has entrusted you with wealth, use it to serve his works: help others, help the poor, create jobs, give work to others. Don’t waste your fortune on vain things. Having a house, honors, freedom, good health, all that has been entrusted to us by God so that we can use it to serve those who are less fortunate than we are.

Jesus said: “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” (Mt 25:40) Consequently, the only thing that can make me sad is to offend our Lord through selfishness or through lack of love for others, or to wrong someone. By wo unding the poor, by wounding one another, we wound God.

It belongs to God to give and to take back (Job 1:21); so share what you have received, including your own life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Mary Salome

St Thomas Aquinas : "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant"

Book of Isaiah 53,10-11.

(But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.

Psalms 33,4-5.18-19.20.22.

For the LORD'S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
But the LORD'S eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help,
Delivering them from death, keeping them alive in times of famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and shield.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you.

Letter to the Hebrews 4,14-16.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10,35-45.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." He replied, "What do you wish (me) to do for you?" They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" They said to him, "We can." Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Commentary of the day :

St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Dominican theologian, Doctor of the Church
On the Apostles'Creed (Collationes In Symbolum apostolorum, art. 4 § 64.70.72-76)

"Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant"

What need was there that the Son of God should suffer for us? There was a great need; and indeed it can be assigned to two reasons. The first is that it was a remedy against sin, and the second is for an example of what we ought to do… From all this then is seen the effect of the passion of Christ as a remedy for sin. But no less does it profit us as an example… So if you seek an example of charity, then, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Jn 15: 13)… If you seek an example of patience, you will find it in its highest degree upon the Cross… Christ suffered greatly upon the Cross… and with all patience, because, "when he suffered, he did not threaten." (1P 2:23), "like a lamb led to the slaughter, he opened not his mouth" (Is 53:7). "Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame" (He 12:1-2)…

If you seek an example of humility, look upon him who is crucified; although he was God, he chose to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to be put to death… If you seek an example of obedience, imitate him who was obedient to the Father unto death. (Ph 2:8) "For by the disobedience of one person, that is to say Adam, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just." (Rm 5:19). If you seek an example of contempt for earthly things, imitate him who is the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rv 19:16), "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3); on the Cross he was stripped naked, ridiculed, spat upon, bruised, crowned with thorns, and finally given to drink of vinegar and gall.

Today the Church celebrates : St. Celine

II Vatican Council: Witnessing to Christ with all one's life

Letter to the Ephesians 1,15-23.

Therefore, I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of (your) hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Psalms 8,2-3.4-5.6-7.

O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have drawn a defense against your foes, to silence enemy and avenger.
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place--
What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet:

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,8-12.

I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."

Commentary of the day :

II Vatican Council
Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes), § 23-24

Witnessing to Christ with all one's life

Although every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the Faith, Christ the Lord always calls whomever He will from among the number of His disciples, to be with Him and to be sent by Him to preach to the nations (cf. Mark 3:13)…

Yet man must respond to God Who calls, and that in such a way, that without taking counsel with flesh and blood (Gal. 1:16), he devotes himself wholly to the work of the Gospel. This response, however can only be given when the Holy Spirit gives His inspiration and His power. For he who is sent enters upon the life and mission of Him Who "emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave" (Phil. 2:7). Therefore, he must be ready to stay at his vocation for an entire lifetime, and to renounce himself and all those whom he thus far considered as his own, and instead to "make himself all things to all men" (1 Cor. 9:22).

Announcing the Gospel to all nations, he confidently makes known the mystery of Christ, whose ambassador he is, so that in him he dares to speak as he ought (cf. Eph. 6:19), not being ashamed of the scandal of the Cross. Following in his Master's footsteps, meek and humble of heart, he proves that His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matt. 11:29ff.) By a truly evangelical life, in much patience, in long - suffering, in kindness, in unaffected love, he bears witness to his Lord, if need be to the shedding of his blood. He will ask of God the power and strength, that he may know that there is an overflowing of joy amid much testing of tribulation and deep poverty (2 Cor. 8:2).

Today the Church celebrates : St. Irene, St. Paul of the Cross

Saint Catherine of Siena : “Even the hairs of your head are counted”

Letter to the Ephesians 1,11-14.

In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.

Psalms 33,1-2.4-5.12-13.

Rejoice, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
For the LORD'S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.
From heaven the LORD looks down and observes the whole human race,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,1-7.

Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven--that is, the hypocrisy--of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Dominican Tertiary, Doctor of the Church, Co-patroness of Europe
Dialogue, 18

“Even the hairs of your head are counted”

God told me: “No one can escape from my hands. For I am who am (Ex 3:14), and you, you are not of yourselves; you are only insofar as you have been made by me. I am the creator of all things that have a part in being, but not of sin, which is not, and which was thus not made by me. And because it is not in me, it is not worthy of being loved. A creature only offends me because it loves what it must not love, sin… It is impossible for human beings to go outside of me; they either abide in me through the force of justice, which punishes their faults, or else they abide in me, protected by my mercy. So open the eye of your intelligence and look at my hand; you will see that I am telling you the truth.”

Then, opening the eye of the spirit so as to obey the Father who is so great, I saw the whole universe enclosed in that divine hand. And God told me: “My daughter, see now and know that nothing can escape me. Everyone here is held by justice or by mercy, because they are mi ne, created by me, and I love them infinitely. No matter how wicked they might be, I will have mercy on them because of my servants; I will hear the request that you brought before me with so much love and suffering”…

Then my soul, as if drunk and outside of itself in the ever greater ardor of its desire, felt at one and the same time blessed and in pain. Blessed through the union it had had with God, tasting his joy and his goodness, wholly plunged into his mercy. In pain because of seeing the offense done to such great goodness.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and Companions

Saint Gregory of Naziance : “They began to manifest fierce hostility to him and to make him speak on a multitude of questions”

Letter to the Ephesians 1,3-10.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

Psalms 98,1.2-3.3-4.5-6.

Sing a new song to the LORD, who has done marvelous deeds, Whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory.
The LORD has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph for the nations to see,
Has remembered faithful love toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Has remembered faithful love toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the LORD.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,47-54.

Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute' in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter." When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Gregory of Naziance (330-390), Bishop, Doctor of the Church
3rd Theological Discourse

“They began to manifest fierce hostility to him and to make him speak on a multitude of questions”

There was a time when the person whom you despise now was above you; the one who is now a man was eternally perfect. He was in the beginning, without any cause; then he submitted himself to the contingencies of this world… That was so as to save you who insult him, who despise God because he took your crude nature…

He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, but when he rose from the tomb, he got rid of his shroud. He was laid in a manger but glorified by the angels, announced by a star, adored by the magi… He had to flee to Egypt, but he freed that country from the superstitions of the Egyptians. Before his enemies, he had “no stately bearing … nor appearance that would attract us” (Isa 53:2), but for David he was “fairer in beauty… than the sons of men” (Ps 45:3), and on the mountain, he shone more brilliantly than the sun (Mt 17:1f.). As man, he was baptized; but as God, he took away our sins. He did not need to be purified, but he wanted to sanctify the waters. As man, he was tempted; but as God, he triumphed, he who “conquered the world” (Jn 16:8)… He was hungry, but he fed thousands, he who is “the living bread come down from heaven.” (Jn 6:48.50) He was thirsty, but he cried out: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me; let him drink” (Jn 7:37)… He knew what it was to be tired, but he is rest for all who “are weary and find life burdensome.” (Mt 11:28)… He was called a “Samaritan and possessed” (Jn 8:48); but it is he who saves the person who has fallen into the hands of thieves (Lk 10:29f.) and who makes the demons flee… He prayed, but it is he himself who hears prayers. He wept, but he puts an end to weeping. He was sold for a base price, but it is he who redeems the world at a high price: through his own blood.

Like a sheep, he was led to his death, but he leads Israel and now the whole earth to the true pasture. (Ezek 34:14) Like a lamb, he was silent; but he is the Word announced through the voice of the one who cried out in th e desert (Mk 1:3). He was disabled and wounded; but it is he who heals every illness and every infirmity (Mt 9:35). He was raised up on the wood and he was nailed there; but it is he who restores us through the tree of life. He died, but he gives life and destroys death. He was buried, but he rose, and ascending into heaven, he liberated the souls from hell.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Luke

II Vatican Council: St Luke bears witness "I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence"

Second Letter to Timothy 4,9-17.

Try to join me soon, for Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. You too be on guard against him, for he has strongly resisted our preaching. At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.

Psalms 145,10-11.12-13.17-18.

All your works give you thanks, O LORD and your faithful bless you.
They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your great works,
Making known to all your power, the glorious splendor of your rule.
Your reign is a reign for all ages, your dominion for all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.
You, LORD, are just in all your ways, faithful in all your works.
You, LORD, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10,1-9.

After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'

Commentary of the day :

II Vatican Council
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), §18-19

St Luke bears witness "I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence"

It is common knowledge that among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our savior. The Church has always and everywhere held and continues to hold that the four Gospels are of apostolic origin. For what the Apostles preached in fulfillment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing: the foundation of faith, namely, the fourfold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). Indeed, after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ's life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth. (Jn 14:26)

The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus. For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Ignatius of Antioch

Baudoin de Ford : “You cleanse the outside… Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?”

Letter to the Galatians 5,1-6.

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. It is I, Paul, who am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Psalms 119,

Let your love come to me, LORD, salvation in accord with your promise.
Do not take the word of truth from my mouth, for in your edicts is my hope.
I will keep your teachings always, for all time and forever.
I will walk freely in an open space because I cherish your precepts.
I delight in your commands, which I dearly love.
I lift up my hands to your commands; I study your laws, which I love.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,37-41.

After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.

Commentary of the day :

Baudoin de Ford (? – around 1190), Cistercian abbot
Homily 6 on the Letter to the Hebrews, 4,12

“You cleanse the outside… Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?”

The Lord knows the thoughts and intentions of our heart. For there is no doubt that he knows them all, but we only know those that he reveals to us through the grace of discernment. For a person’s mind does not always know what is inside him, and even when he is dealing with his thoughts, whether they be voluntary or not, he thinks of them in a way that does not always correspond with reality. His gaze is so darkened that he doesn’t even discern with precision those that reveal themselves clearly to his mind.

For it often happens that, for some human reason or for a reason coming from the Tempter, a person sets out by means of his own thinking in something that only appears to be pious and that, in the eyes of God, does not at all deserve the reward promised to virtue. That is because certain things can take on the appearance of true virtue, as moreover also of vice, and can deceive the eyes of the heart. Through their seductions, they can trouble the vision of our int elligence to the point that it often considers realities to be good that are in fact bad; and the other way around, they can make our intelligence see something bad where in fact there is no evil. That is an aspect of our poverty and of our ignorance that we must deplore a lot and greatly fear…

Who can verify whether the spirits come from God unless that person has received discernment of spirits from God?… That discernment is at the source of all the virtues.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Hedwig, St. Gerard Majella

Saint John Chrysostom : The sign of Jona

Letter to the Galatians 4,22-24.26-27.31.5,1.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman. The son of the slave woman was born naturally, the son of the freeborn through a promise. Now this is an allegory. These women represent two covenants. One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar. But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children; break forth and shout, you who were not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the deserted one than of her who has a husband." Therefore, brothers, we are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman. For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Psalms 113,1-2.3-4.5.6-7.

Hallelujah! Praise, you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD both now and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the LORD be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD; above the heavens God's glory.
Who is like the LORD, our God enthroned on high,
looking down on heaven and earth?
The LORD raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap,

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,29-32.

While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.

Commentary of the day :

Saint John Chrysostom (around 345-407), Bishop of Antioch, then of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
4th Homily on 1 Corinthians

The sign of Jona

Let us weep for the pagans who do not understand the salvation that God wants to give them… Yes, a husband loves his wife less than we love all human beings, desiring to bring all human beings to salvation. Let us weep and moan over these unbelievers, because for them “the message of the cross is complete absurdity,” whereas it is in fact “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1:18.24)…

Look, oh man! For you Jesus Christ took the form of a slave (Phil 2:7), for you he died on a cross, for you he rose again. And you say that it is impossible to believe in such a love, to adore such a God, while this King did for you, his enemy, what a father from among us, or a son or a friend would not have done for you? …

When I say: “My God was attached to a cross,” the pagan answers: “Reason cannot accept that. He suffered, he let himself be crucified; so he cannot save himself? … If he cannot save himself, how can he save the others? (cf. Mt 27:42). All that is con trary to reason.” That is true. The cross is a mystery that is above human reason, it is the sign of a power that is beyond our understanding… When the three Hebrews triumphed over the flames after having been thrown into the furnace (Dan 3), it was more fantastic than if they had not been thrown into it. That Jona was swallowed by a whale is natural, it is normal; but the fantastic thing was that Jona lived in the monster’s belly. In the same way, Christ proved his divinity better by triumphing over death from the very midst of death than if he had refused to die.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Teresa of Avila

Cardinal John Henry Newman : "Jesus, looking at him, loved him"

Book of Wisdom 7,7-11.

Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, And I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands;

Psalms 90,12-13.14-15.16-17.

Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Relent, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy.
Make us glad as many days as you humbled us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
Show your deeds to your servants, your glory to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!

Letter to the Hebrews 4,12-13.

Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 10,17-30.

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'" He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." Peter began to say to him, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

Commentary of the day :

Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), priest, founder of a religious community
Parochial & Plain Sermons 3, 9 (Edited by W. J. Copeland)

"Jesus, looking at him, loved him"

God beholds thee individually, whoever thou art. He "calls thee by thy name." (Jn 10:3) He sees thee, and understands thee, as He made thee. He knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and thy weakness… Thou art not only His creature though for the very sparrows He has a care (Mt 10:29)…, thou art man redeemed and sanctified, His adopted son, favoured with a portion of that glory and blessedness which flows from Him everlastingly unto the Only-begotten.

Thou art chosen to be His… Thou wast one of those for whom Christ offered up His last prayer, and sealed it with His precious blood. What a thought is this, a thought almost too great for our faith! Scarce can we refrain from acting Sarah's part, when we bring it before us, so as to "laugh" from amazement and perplexity (Gn 18:12). What is man, what are we, what am I, that the Son of God should be so min dful of me? (Ps 8:5) What am I… that He should have changed my soul's original constitution, new-made me…, and should Himself dwell personally in this very heart of mine, making me His temple?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Callistus I

Saint Peter Damian : Blessed are they who welcome the Word of God

Letter to the Galatians 3,22-29.

But scripture confined all things under the power of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe. Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Psalms 105,2-3.4-5.6-7.

Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds!
Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face.
Recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his signs and his words of judgment,
You descendants of Abraham his servant, offspring of Jacob the chosen one!
The LORD is our God who rules the whole earth.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,27-28.

While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed." He replied, "Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072), Hermit, then Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Sermon 45

Blessed are they who welcome the Word of God

It is true of the Virgin Mary that she conceived Christ in her womb, but all who are chosen share in carrying him in their heart with love. Blessed, yes, very blessed the woman who carried Jesus in her womb for nine months (Lk 11:27). We too are blessed when we are mindful of carrying him constantly in our heart. Certainly, Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb was a great marvel, but it is no less of a marvel to see him become the guest of our heart. That is the meaning of John’s testimony: “Here I stand knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20) … Here again, my brothers, let us consider our dignity and our resemblance to Mary. The Virgin conceived Christ in her womb of flesh, and we carry him in the womb of our heart. Mary nourished Christ by giving his lips milk from her breast, and we can offer him a varied meal with the good works, which delight him.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Edward the Confessor

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon : The Finger of God

Letter to the Galatians 3,7-14.

Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham. Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, "Through you shall all the nations be blessed." Consequently, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith. For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law." And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for "the one who is righteous by faith will live." But the law does not depend on faith; rather, "the one who does these things will live by them." Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree," that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Psalms 111,1-2.3-4.5-6.

Hallelujah. I will praise the LORD with all my heart in the assembled congregation of the upright.
Great are the works of the LORD, to be treasured for all their delights.
Majestic and glorious is your work, your wise design endures forever.
You won renown for your wondrous deeds; gracious and merciful is the LORD.
You gave food to those who fear you, mindful of your covenant forever.
You showed powerful deeds to your people, giving them the lands of the nations.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,15-26.

Some of them said, "By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons." Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that (I) drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, 'I shall return to my home from which I came.' But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (around 130 – around 208), Bishop, Theologian, and Martyr
Against the Heresies IV, Pr 4; 39,2

The Finger of God

The human person is a mixture of soul and flesh, a flesh that was formed according to the likeness of God and modeled by God’s two hands, that is to say, the Son and the Spirit. It is to them that he said: “Let us make man.” (Gen 1:26)…

But how can you be divinized one day if you have not yet been made human? How will you be perfect, when you have only just been created? How will you be immortal, when in another mortal nature you did not obey your Creator? … Since you are the work of God, wait patiently for the hand of your Artist, who does all things at the right time. Present to him a supple and docile heart, and keep the form that this Artist gave you, having in yourself the water that comes from him and without which you would become hard and would reject the imprint of his fingers.

By letting yourself be formed by him, you will rise to perfection, for through this art of God, the clay that is in you will be hidden; his hand created your substance… But if yo u become hard and push away his art and show that you are discontent with the fact that he made you a human being, by your ingratitude towards God you will have rejected not only his art but life itself; for it is the very nature of God’s goodness to form, and to be formed is the very nature of being human. Thus, if you give yourself to him by giving him your faith in him and your submission, you will receive the benefit of his art and you will be God’s perfect work. If on the contrary, you resist him and if you flee from his hands, the cause of your incompleteness will be in yourself who did not obey, and not in him.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Wilfrid, Our Lady of Pillar

Saint Symeon the New Theologian : “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Letter to the Galatians 3,1-5.

O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?--if indeed it was in vain. Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?

Lk 1,69-70.71-72.73-75.

He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant,
even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant
and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that,
rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,5-13.

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Commentary of the day :

Saint Symeon the New Theologian (around 949-1022), Orthodox monk
Invocation to the Holy Spirit, Introduction to the Hymns

“How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Come, Holy Spirit. Come, true light. Come, eternal life. Come, hidden mystery. Come, nameless treasure. Come, ineffable reality. Come, unending happiness. Come, light that never sets. Come, you who awaken those who are asleep. Come, resurrection of the dead. Come, oh Powerful One, who always makes and remakes and transforms everything simply by your will. Come, you who always remain motionless and who nevertheless are entirely in movement at every moment, so as to come to us who are lying among the dead, oh you who are above the highest heavens.

Come, eternal joy. Come, you who desired and desire my destitute soul. Come, you who are the Only One to the one who is alone, since as you see, I am alone. Come, you who separated me from everything and who made me solitary in this world. Come, you who yourself became desire in me, who caused me to desire you, the absolutely inaccessible One. Come, my breath and my life. Come, consolation of my poor soul. Come, my joy, my glor y, my unending delight.

I give you thanks for having become one single spirit with me (Rom 8:16), without confusion, without change, without transformation, you the God above everything, and for having become for me all in all (1 Cor 15:28)… I give you thanks for having become for me the light that never sets, the sun that does not go down; for you have nowhere to hide, you who fill the universe with your glory! No, you have never hidden from anyone, but it is we who always hide from you, refusing to go with you…

So come, oh Master, set up your tent in me today (Jn 1:14); build your house and dwell in me, your servant, constantly, inseparably, until the end, oh you who are very good. And when I leave this world, may I also find myself again in you, oh you who are very good, and may I reign with you, God, who are above everything.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Firminus

Saint Seraphim of Sarov : “Teach us to pray.”

Letter to the Galatians 2,1-2.7-14.

Then after fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up in accord with a revelation, and I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles--but privately to those of repute--so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised, for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles, and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Kephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, we were to be mindful of the poor, which is the very thing I was eager to do. And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, "If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

Psalms 117,1.2.

Praise the LORD, all you nations! Give glory, all you peoples!
The LORD'S love for us is strong; the LORD is faithful forever. Hallelujah!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,1-4.

He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833), Russian monk
Conversation with Motovilov

“Teach us to pray.”

It is through prayer that we become worthy to converse with our life-giving and merciful Lord. But we must pray with words only until the moment when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us and grants us a certain measure of his heavenly grace, which he alone knows. When he visits us, we must stop praying with words. For of what use is it to beg in the liturgy: “Come Holy Spirit, dwell in us, purify us of all stain and save our souls, you who are goodness” (Orthodox tropary recited at the beginning of the Office), when he has already come into the temple of our souls that are thirsting for his coming, in response to our humble and loving entreaties? …

That is why it was said: “Desist! And confess that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted upon the earth.” (Ps 46:11) Which means: I will appear and will continue to appear to every believer and I will converse with him as I conversed with Adam in paradise, with Abraham and Jacob and my other servants, Moses, Job and the ir likes. Many believe that the word “desist” has to be interpreted as pertaining to the matters of this world, that is to say that when speaking to God in prayer, we have to withdraw from all that is earthly. Certainly. But in God, I tell you that in spite of the fact that it is necessary to withdraw during prayer, when the Lord God, the Holy Spirit visits us and comes into us in the fullness of his inexpressible goodness, we also have to withdraw from the words of prayer, we have to suppress the words of prayer itself…

When the Holy Spirit descends, it is appropriate that we be absolutely silent, so that the soul can hear clearly and understand well the proclamations of eternal life that he deigns to bring us. Then the soul and the mind are in a state of complete sobriety and the body in a state of chastity and purity. That is how it was on Mount Horeb when God came down on Sinai, for God is “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29), and nothing that is physically or spiritual ly impure can come into contact with him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Francis Borgia, St. Ghislain

Saint Ambrose : Martha and Mary in the one body of Christ

Letter to the Galatians 1,13-24.

For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions. But when (God), who from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. (As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only kept hearing that "the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." So they glorified God because of me.

Psalms 139,1-3.13-14.14-15.

For the leader. A psalm of David. I LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;
my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10,38-42.

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Ambrose (around 340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
Treatise on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, 7, 85-86

Martha and Mary in the one body of Christ

The parable of the Good Samaritan is about mercy. But there is not just one way to be virtuous. The parable is followed by the example of Martha and of Mary. We see there that one is devoted in her activity, the other is religiously attentive to the word of God. According to what is written, if that attentiveness is in conformity with faith, it is even preferable to works: “Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.” So let us also strive to possess what no one can take away from us. Let us listen in a way that is not distracted but attentive… Let us be like Mary who is animated by the desire for wisdom. That is a greater and more perfect work than the others… So don’t criticize, don’t judge as idle those whom you see desiring this wisdom…

However, Martha is not criticized for her good services, even if Mary has chosen the better part. For Jesus has many riches and gives many generous gifts… The apostles also did not think that it was best to leave the word of God in order to serve at table (Acts 6:2). But both things are works of wisdom. Stephen, who was full of wisdom, was chosen for his part to be a servant. Thus, may the person who serves obey the one who teaches, and may the person who teaches encourage the one who serves. The body of the Church is one, even if the members are diverse; the one needs the other. “The eye cannot say to the hand: I do not need you; nor can the head say that to the feet.” (1 Cor 12:14f.) The ear cannot say that it does not belong to the body. There are organs that are more important; but the others are nevertheless necessary.