Thanksgiving Day [United States of America]



“When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed...” (Luke 17:15.)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“Why did he not say, “I will, be cleansed,” as he did in the case of another leper, instead of commanding them to show themselves to the priests? It was because the law gave directions to this effect to those who were delivered from leprosy. It commanded them to show themselves to the priests and to offer a sacrifice for their cleansing. He commanded them to go as being already healed so that they might bear witness to the priests, the rulers of the Jews and always envious of his glory. They testified that wonderfully and beyond their hope, they had been delivered from their misfortune by Christ’s willing that they should be healed. He did not heal them first but sent them to the priests, because the priests knew the marks of leprosy and of its healing.” (Commentary on Luke, 113-116)



Collect
Father all-powerful,
Your gifts of love are countless
and Your goodness infinite;
as we come before You on Thanksgiving Day
with gratitude for Your kindness,
open our hearts to have concern
for every man, woman, and child,
so that we may share Your gifts
in loving service.
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


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A prayer to the Good Shepherd



Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Commentary on the Song of Songs, chapter 2

Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Where do you pasture your sheep, O good Shepherd, you who carry on your shoulders the whole flock? For it is but one sheep, this entire human race whom you lift onto your shoulders. Show me the place where there are green pastures, let me know restful waters, lead me out to nourishing grass and call me by name so that I can hear your voice, for I am your own sheep. And through that voice calling me, give me eternal life.

Tell me, you whom my soul loves. This is how I address you, because your true name is above all other names; it is unutterable and incomprehensible to all rational creatures. And so the name I use for you is simply the statement of my soul’s love for you, and this is an apt name for making your goodness known. Very dark though I am, how could I not love you who so loved me, that you laid down your life for the sheep you tend? No greater love can be conceived than this, that you should purchase my salvation at the cost of your life.

Show me, then says the bride, where you tend your sheep, so that I may find the saving pasture and be filled with heavenly nourishment. For whoever does not eat this food cannot enter eternal life. Let me run to you, the spring, and drink the divine draught that you cause to pour forth for the thirsty, offering water from your side opened by the spear. Whoever drinks of this becomes a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.

If you feed me thus, then you will surely make me lie down at noonday, and I shall at once sleep in peace, resting in a light that knows no shadow. Indeed, there is no shadow at noon, for the sun shines directly over that summit where you make those you tend lie down, and take your children with you to your bed. No one is judged worthy of this noonday rest who is not a child of light and of the day. But if anyone makes himself equally distant from the shadows of daybreak and those of nightfall, that is, from the origin of evil and its conclusion, the sun of righteousness makes him lie down at noontide.

Show me, then, says the bride, how I should lie down; show me the path to this noonday repose, lest my ignorance of your truth cause me to stray from your good guidance and consort with flocks which are strangers to yours.

Thus speaks the bride, anxious about the beauty God has given her, and seeking to learn how her comeliness may continue for 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

 

 


Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr



“He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant...” (Luke 19:22.)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed during today’s Mass:

“We are well aware of the threats made by the Lord’s merciful “greed.” He is everywhere seeking a profitable return on his money. He says to the lazy servant, who wished to pass judgment on something he could not see, “Wicked servant, out of your own mouth I condemn you. You said I am a difficult man, reaping where I have not sown, gathering where I have not scattered. So you knew all about my greed. You, then, should have given my money to the stockbrokers. When I came, I would have demanded it with interest.” We could only lay out our Lord’s money. He is the one who will demand the interest on it, not only from this man but also from all of us.” (Letter 279)




Collect
O God, Who gladden us each year
with the feast day
of Your handmaid Saint Cecilia,
grant, we pray,
that what has been devoutly handed
down concerning her
may offer us examples to imitate
and proclaim
the wonders worked in His servants
by 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



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Sing to God with songs of joy



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Discourse on Psalm 32

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song. Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song. A new man, a new covenant—a new song. This new song does not belong to the old man. Only the new man learns it: the man restored from his fallen condition through the grace of God, and now sharing in the new covenant, that is, the kingdom of heaven. To it all our love now aspires and sings a new song. Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives.

Sing to him a new song, sing to him with joyful melody. Every one of us tries to discover how to sing to God. You must sing to him, but you must sing well. He does not want your voice to come harshly to his ears, so sing well, brothers!

If you were asked, “Sing to please this musician,” you would not like to do so without having taken some instruction in music, because you would not like to offend an expert in the art. An untrained listener does not notice the faults a musician would point out to you. Who, then, will offer to sing well for God, the great artist whose discrimination is faultless, whose attention is on the minutest detail, whose ear nothing escapes? When will you be able to offer him a perfect performance that you will in no way displease such a supremely discerning listener?

See how he himself provides you with a way of singing. Do not search for words, as if you could find a lyric which would give God pleasure. Sing to him “with songs of joy.” This is singing well to God, just singing with songs of joy.

But how is this done? You must first understand that words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart. Take the case of people singing while harvesting in the fields or in the vineyards or when any other strenuous work is in progress. Although they begin by giving expression to their happiness in sung words, yet shortly there is a change. As if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, they discard the restricting syllables. They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation. Such a cry of joy is a sound signifying that the heart is bringing to birth what it cannot utter in words.

Now, who is more worthy of such a cry of jubilation than God himself, whom all words fail to describe? If words will not serve, and yet you must not remain silent, what else can you do but cry out for joy? Your heart must rejoice beyond words, soaring into an immensity of gladness, unrestrained by syllabic bonds. Sing to him with jubilation.



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

 






Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary



“When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house...” (Luke 19:5.)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel Proclamation:

“Zacchaeus was praying in his heart as follows, “Happy the one who is worthy that this just man should enter into his dwelling.” The Lord said to him, “Hurry, come down, Zacchaeus.” Seeing he knew his thoughts, he said, “Just as he knows this, he knows also all that I have done.” He therefore said, “All that I have unjustly received, I give back fourfold.” Hurry and come down from the fig tree, because it is with you that I will be staying. The first fig tree of Adam will be forgotten, because of the last fig tree of the chief tax collector, and the name of the guilty Adam will be forgotten because of the innocent Zacchaeus.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron, 20.)


Collect
As we venerate the glorious memory
of the most holy Virgin Mary,
grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession,
that we, too, may merit to receive
from the fullness of Your grace.
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








She who believed by faith, conceived by faith



Bishop and Father of the Church

An excerpt from Sermon 25

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her—did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power, and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent—the most eminent—member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine—our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.

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

 




Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time



“He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”” (Luke 18:38.)

Saint Cyril of Alexandria comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“The blind man must have understood that the sight of the blind cannot be restored by human means but requires, on the contrary, a divine power and an authority such as God only possesses. With God nothing whatsoever is impossible. The blind man came near to him as to the omnipotent God. How then does he call him the Son of David? What can one answer to this? The following is perhaps the explanation. Since he was born and raised in Judaism, of course, the predictions contained in the law and the holy prophets concerning Christ had not escaped his knowledge. He heard them chant that passage in the book of the Psalms, “The Lord has sworn in truth to David, and will not annul it, saying: ‘of the fruit of your loins I will set a king upon your throne.’” The blind man also knew that the blessed prophet Isaiah said, “There will spring up a shoot from the root of Jesse, and from his root a flower will grow up.” Isaiah also said, “Behold, a virgin will conceive and bring forth a son, and they will call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” He already believed that the Word, being God, of his own will had submitted to be born in the flesh of the holy Virgin. He now comes near to him as to God and says, “Have mercy on me, Son of David.” Christ testifies that this was his state of mind in offering his petition. He said to him, “Your faith has saved you.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 126)



Collect
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness
of being devoted to You,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the Author of all that is good.
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


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He who overcomes shall not be harmed by the second death



Bishop

An excerpt from Against Fabianus

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye as the final trumpet sounds, for the trumpet shall indeed sound, the dead shall rise incorruptible and we shall be changed. In saying “we,” Paul is indicating that the gift of that future change will also be given to those who during their time on earth are united to him and his companions by upright lives within the communion of the Church. He hints at the nature of the change when he says: This corruptible body must put on incorruptibility, this mortal body immortality. In order, then, that men may obtain the transformation which is the reward of the just, they must first undergo here on earth a change which is God’s free gift. Those who in this life have been changed from evil to good are promised that future change as a reward.

Through justification and the spiritual resurrection, grace now effects in them an initial change that is God’s gift. Later on, through the bodily resurrection, the transformation of the just will be brought to completion, and they will experience a perfect, abiding, unchangeable glorification. The purpose of this change wrought in them by the gifts of both justification and glorification is that they may abide in an eternal, changeless state of joy.

Here on earth they are changed by the first resurrection, in which they are enlightened and converted, thus passing from death to life, sinfulness to holiness, unbelief to faith, and evil actions to holy life. For this reason the second death has no power over them. It is of such men that the Book of Revelation says: Happy the man who shares in the first resurrection; over such as he the second death has no power. Elsewhere the same book says: He who overcomes shall not be harmed by the second death. As the first resurrection consists of the conversion of the heart, the second death consists of unending torment.

Let everyone, therefore, who does not wish to be condemned to the endless punishment of the second death now hasten to share in the first resurrection. For if any during this life are changed out of fear of God and pass from an evil life to a good one, they pass from death to life and later they shall be transformed from a shameful state to a glorious one.


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

 






Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time



“She seeks out wool and flax and weaves with skillful hands....” (Proverbs 31:13.)


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

“The sacred text describes this housewife as a weaver of woolens and linen. But what we want to find out is what wool represents and what linen does. I think wool means something of the flesh, linen something of the spirit. I hazard this conjecture from the order we wear our clothes in; our underclothes or inner garments are linen, our outer garments woolen. Now everything we do in flesh is public, whatever we do in the spirit is private. Now to act in the flesh and not to act in spirit may seem good but is in fact worthless, whereas to act in spirit and not act in the flesh is downright laziness.” (Sermons, 37.)



Collect
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to You,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the Author of all that is good.
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



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Let us not resist the first coming, so that we may not dread the second



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Discourse on the Psalms

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

All the trees of the forest will exult before the face of the Lord, for he has come, he has come to judge the earth. He has come the first time, and he will come again. At his first coming, his own voice declared in the Gospel: Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds. What does he mean by hereafter? Does he not mean that the Lord will come at a future time when all the nations of the earth will be striking their breasts in grief? Previously he came through his preachers, and he filled the whole world. Let us not resist his first coming, so that we may not dread the second.

What then should the Christian do? He ought to use the world, not become its slave. And what does this mean? It means having, as though not having. So says the Apostle: My brethren, the appointed time is short: from now on let those who have wives live as though they had none; and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing; and those who buy as though they had no goods; and those who deal with this world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I wish you to be without anxiety. He who is without anxiety waits without fear until his Lord comes. For what sort of love of Christ is it to fear his coming? Brothers, do we not have to blush for shame? We love him, yet we fear his coming. Are we really certain that we love him? Or do we love our sins more? Therefore let us hate our sins and love him who will exact punishment for them. He will come whether we wish it or not. Do not think that because he is not coming just now, he will not come at all. He will come, you know not when; and provided he finds you prepared, your ignorance of the time of his coming will not be held against you.

All the trees of the forest will exult. He has come the first time, and he will come again to judge the earth; he will find those rejoicing who believed in his first coming, for he has come.

He will judge the world with equity and the peoples in his truth. What are equity and truth? He will gather together with him for the judgment his chosen ones, but the others he will set apart; for he will place some on his right, other on his left. What is more equitable, what more true than that they should not themselves expect mercy from the judge, who themselves were unwilling to show mercy before the judge’s coming. Those, however who were willing to show mercy will be judged with mercy. For it will be said to those placed on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world. And he reckons to their account their works of mercy: For I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.

What is imputed to those places on his left side? That they refused to show mercy. And where will they go? Depart into the everlasting fire. The hearing of this condemnation will cause much wailing. But what has another psalm said? The just man will be held in everlasting remembrance; he will not fear the evil report. What is the evil report? Depart into the everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. Whoever rejoices to hear the good report will not fear the bad. This is equity, this is truth.

Or do you, because you are unjust, expect the judge not to be just? Or because you are a liar, will the truthful one not be true? Rather, if you wish to receive mercy, be merciful before he comes; forgive whatever has been done against you; give of your abundance. Of whose possessions do you give, if not from his? If you were to give of your own, it would be largess; but since you give of his, it is restitution. For what have you that you have not received? These are the sacrifices most pleasing to God: mercy, humility, praise, peace, charity. Such as these, then, let us bring and, free from fear, we shall await the coming of the judge who will judge the world in equity and the peoples in his truth.

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