MEMORIAL: Saint Anthony, Abbot



“...where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek...” (Hebrews 6:20.)

Saint Athansius of Alexandria comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed during today’s Mass:

“Through Moses God gave commandments about sacrifices, and the whole book of Leviticus is taken up with acceptable ways for them to be carried out. The Lord, through the prophets, found fault with those who contemptuously misstated these things, calling them disobedient to the commandment. He told them, “I have not asked you to do these things! Neither did I speak to your fathers about sacrifices, nor give them commands about whole burnt offerings.”

Some have put forth the opinion that either the Scriptures do not agree or that God, who gave the commandment, is a liar. But in this there can be no disagreement—far from it. The Father, who is truth, cannot lie, “for it is impossible for God to lie,” as Paul affirms. Actually, these things are plain to those who accept the writings of the law with faith and look at them in the right way. Here is my explanation, and may God grant by your prayers that I am not too far from the truth. It does not appear to me that God gave the commandments and the law concerning sacrifices right away when he led them out of Egypt. Nor did he who gave the law really pay any attention to the whole burnt offerings, as such. He was looking ahead to those things that were prefigured and pointed out by them. “For the law has but a shadow of the good things to come.” And “Those regulations were set forth until the time of reformation.”

That is why the whole law did not deal with sacrifices, although it did include commands concerning them. By means of these commands it began to teach people, calling them away from idols and drawing them to God, giving them proper teaching for the times in which they lived. So you see, God did not give the people those commands about sacrifices and offerings when he brought them out of Egypt, nor even when they first came to Mount Sinai. God is not like people, that he should want those things for himself. No, he gave the commandment so that they might know him and his Word (the Son) — and forget about those so-called gods that do not really exist but appear to do so because of the show people put on.” (Festal Letters, 19.)




Collect
O God,
Who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony
to serve You
by a wondrous way of life in the desert,
grant, through his intercession,
that, denying ourselves,
we may always love You above all things.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen



Top





Saint Anthony receives his vocation



Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from The Life of Saint Anthony

MEMORIAL: Saint Anthony, Abbot

When Anthony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him with an only sister. He cared for her as she was very young, and also looked after their home.

Not six months after his parents’ death, as he was on his way to church for his usual visit, he began to think of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior, and also of those mentioned in the book of Acts who had sold their possessions and brought the apostles the money for distribution to the needy. He reflected too on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. This was all in his mind when, entering the church just as the Gospel was being read, he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor–you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.

It seemed to Anthony that it was God who had brought the saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about 200 acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would cause no distraction to his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, giving to the poor the considerable sum of money he collected. However, to care for his sister he retained a few things.

The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Without a moment’s hesitation he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some well-known and trustworthy virgins and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then he gave himself up to the ascetic life, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practiced great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.

Having learned that we should always be praying, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed without ceasing. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books.

Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the good men he knew called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






ORDINARY TIME, Week 2: Monday



“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 ...” (Hebrews 5:6.)

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus reflects on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“He whom presently you scorn was once transcendent over even you. He who is presently human was incomposite. He remained what he was; what he was not he assumed. No “because” is required for his existence in the beginning, for what could account for the existence of God? But later he came into being because of something, namely, your salvation, yours who insult him and despise his Godhead for that very reason, because he took on your thick corporeality. Through the medium of the mind he had dealings with the flesh, being made that God on earth which is human. Human and God blended; they became a single whole, the stronger side predominating, in order that I might be made God to the same extent that he was made man. He was begotten — yet he was already begotten — of a woman.” (Theological Oration 3)



Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of Your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





Have faith in Christ, and love



Bishop, Apostolic Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from The Letter to the Ephesians

ORDINARY TIME, Week 2: Monday

Try to gather together more frequently to give thanks to God and to praise him. For when you come together frequently, Satan’s powers are undermined, and the destruction that he threatens is done away with in the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end.

None of this will escape you if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end. When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them. No one professing faith sins: no one possessing love hates. A tree is known by its fruit. So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do. For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.

It is better to remain silent and to be than talk and not be. Teaching is good if the speaker also acts. Now there was one teacher who spoke, and it was made, and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are close to him. Let us then do everything in the knowledge that he is dwelling within us that we may be his temples, and he God within us. He is, and will reveal himself, in our sight, according to the love we bear him in holiness.

Make no mistake, my brothers: those who corrupt families will not inherit the kingdom of God. If those who do these things in accordance with the flesh have died, how much worse will it be if one corrupts through evil doctrine the faith of God for which Jesus Christ was crucified? Such a person, because he is defiled, will depart into the unquenchable fire, as will anyone who listens to him.

For the Lord received anointing on his head in order that he might breathe incorruptibility on the Church. Do not be anointed with the evil odor of the teachings of the prince of this world, that he may not lead you captive away from the life that is set before you. But why is it that we are not all wise when we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we perish in our stupidity, not knowing the gift the Lord has truly sent us?

My spirit is given over to the humble service of the cross which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but to us salvation and eternal life.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 

Te Deum



You are God: we praise You;
You are the Lord; we acclaim You;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships You.


To You all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise You.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise You.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free
You did not shun the Virgin’s womb.


You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that You will come and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help Your people,
bought with the price of Your own blood,
and bring us with Your saints
to glory everlasting.



Reflections on today’s Gospel prayer, “Jesus remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”


ORDINARY TIME, Week 2: Sunday



“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“There are five animals that are offered on the altar, three being land animals and two winged. It seems worthwhile to me to ask why the Savior is said to be a “lamb” by John and none of the rest. But also, in the case of the land animals, since three types of animal are offered according to each species, why did he name the lamb from the species of sheep? Now these are the five animals: a young bull, a sheep, a goat, a turtledove, a pigeon.

And the three types of sheep are a ram, the ewe and the lamb. It is the lamb, however, that we find offered in the perpetual sacrifices. What other perpetual sacrifice can be spiritual to a spiritual being than the Word in his prime, the Word symbolically called “lamb”? But if we examine the declaration about Jesus, who is pointed out by John in the words “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” from the standpoint of the plan of salvation when the Son of God bodily lived among the human race, we will assume that the lamb is none other than his humanity. For he “was led as a sheep to the slaughter and was dumb as a lamb before its shearer,” saying, “I was an innocent lamb being led to be sacrificed.”

This is why in the Apocalypse, too, a little lamb is seen “standing as though slain.” This lamb, indeed, which was slain according to certain secret reasons, has become the expiation of the whole world. According to the Father’s love for humanity, he also submitted to slaughter on behalf of the world, purchasing us with his own blood from him who bought us when we had sold ourselves into sin. He, however, who led this lamb to the sacrifice was God in man, the great high priest, who reveals this through the saying, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6.)




Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen









The harmony of unity



Bishop, Apostolic Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from The Letter to the Ephesians

ORDINARY TIME, Week 2: The Lord’s Day

It is right for you to give glory in every way to Jesus Christ who has given glory to you; you must be made holy in all things by being united in perfect obedience, in submission to the bishop and the presbyters.

I am not giving you orders as if I were a person of importance. Even if I am a prisoner for the name of Christ, I am not yet made perfect in Jesus Christ. I am now beginning to be a disciple and I am speaking to you as my fellow disciple. It is you who should be strengthening me by your faith, your encouragement, your patience, your serenity. But since love will not allow me to be silent about you, I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Jesus Christ.

It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God.

If in a short space of time I have become so close a friend of your bishop—in a friendship not based on nature but on spiritual grounds—how much more blessed do I judge you to be, for you are as united with him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that all things are in harmony through unity. Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God’s bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the prayer of the bishop and the whole Church.




Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






ORDINARY TIME, Week 1: Saturday



“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.” (Hebrews 4:12.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“Jesus endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and therefore is seated at the right hand of God.38 And those who imitate him by disregarding the shame shall sit with him and rule in the heavens with him, who came not to bring peace upon the earth but upon the souls of his followers and to bring a sword upon the earth. Since “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” this word above all now bestows on our souls the prize of that peace which surpasses all understanding, which he left to his apostles. And it brings a sword between the earthly image and the heavenly in order that when he receives our heavenly image we may be made fully heavenly, if we are worthy not to be cut in two.” (Exhortation to Martyrdom, 37.)




Collect
Attend to the pleas of Your people
with heavenly care,
O Lord, we pray,
that they may see what must be done
and gain strength to do what they have seen.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen









From the first, faith has been God’s means of justifying men



Apostolic Father, Bishop of Rome and Martyr

An excerpt from Letter to the Corinthians

ORDINARY TIME, Week 1: Saturday

God’s blessing must be our objective, and the way to win it our study. Search the records of ancient times. Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because his upright and straightforward conduct was inspired by faith? As for Isaac’s faith, it was so strong that, assured of the outcome, he willingly allowed himself to be offered in sacrifice. Jacob had the humility to leave his native land on account of his brother, and go and serve Laban. He was given the twelve tribes of Israel.

Honest reflection upon each of these examples will make us realize the magnitude of God’s gifts. All the priests and levites who served the altar of God were descended from Jacob. The manhood of the Lord Jesus derived from him. Through the tribe of Judah, kings, princes and rulers sprang from him. Nor are his other tribes without their honor, for God promised Abraham: Your descendants shall be as the stars of heaven.

It is obvious, therefore, that none of these owed their honor and exaltation to themselves, or to their own labors, or to their deeds of virtue. No; they owed everything to God’s will. So likewise with us, who by his will are called in Christ Jesus. We are not justified by our wisdom, intelligence, piety, or by any action of ours, however holy, but by faith, the one means by which God has justified men from the beginning. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

What must we do then, brothers? Give up good works? Stop practicing Christian love? God forbid! We must be ready and eager for every opportunity to do good, and put our whole heart into it. Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works. By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order. He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation. By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth. He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it. Finally, with his own holy and undefiled hands, he formed man, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image. Let us make man, God said, in our image and likeness. And God made man, male and female he made them. Then, when he had finished making all his creatures, God gave them his approval and blessing: Increase and multiply, he charged them.

We must recognize, therefore, that all upright men have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave him. This should inspire us with a resolute determination to do his will and make us put our whole strength into the work of living a Christian life.




Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 






ORDINARY TIME, Week 1: Friday



“... and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.” (Hebrews 4:5)

In commenting upon this verse from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“He says that there are “three” rests: one, that of the sabbath, in which God rested from works; the second, that of Palestine, in which, when the Jews had entered, they would be at rest from their hardships and labors; the third, that which is rest indeed, the kingdom of heaven, where those who obtain it do indeed rest from their labors and troubles. Of these three then he makes mention here. And why did he mention the three, when he is speaking only of the one? That he might show that the prophet is speaking concerning this one. For he did not speak, he says, concerning the first. For how could he, when that had taken place long before? Nor yet again concerning the second, that in Palestine. For how could he? For he says, “They shall not enter into my rest.” It remains, therefore, that it is this third.” (On the Epistle to the Hebrews, 6)


Collect
Attend to the pleas of Your people
with heavenly care,
O Lord, we pray,
that they may see what must be done
and gain strength to do what they have seen.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen