Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church



“Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task ...” (Acts 6:3.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Now when Matthias was to be presented, it was said, “It must be someone who has been with us the whole time.”4 But not so here, since this was different. No longer did they put it to the lot, and although they could have made the choice themselves, moved as they were by the Spirit, they wanted the testimony of the people. Determining the number, ordaining the chosen and other such business rested with them, but the choice itself they entrusted to the people, so as not to give the appearance of showing favor. For even God entrusted it to Moses to choose as elders the men he knew.” (Homilies On the Acts of the Apostles, 14.)




Collect
O God,
Who set Saint Catherine of Siena
on fire with divine love
in her contemplation of the Lord’s Passion
and her service of your Church,
grant, through her intercession,
that Your people,
participating in the mystery of Christ,
may ever exult in the revelation of His glory.
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

 




I tasted and I saw



Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from her Dialogue on Divine Providence (Chapter 167)

Memorial: Saint Catherine of Siena

Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.

I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognize that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.

You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!

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








Friday of the Second Week of Easter



“... and said to them, “Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men.” (Acts 5:35.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Please note how Gamaliel discourses with gentleness. He speaks briefly to them and relates no ancient stories (though he could have), but he tells of recent events that are powerful in producing belief. He hints at this himself by saying, “For before these days,” meaning, not many days ago. If he had opened by saying, “Let these men go,” he would have aroused suspicion and his speech would not have been effective. Coming after the examples, however, it acquired its own force. See how mild his manner is, the speech not long but succinct, and his mention even of those [imposters] without anger. “And all who followed him were scattered,” he says. All this without blaspheming Christ. Again, he checks them by the impossibility and the inexpediency of the thing, saying, “You might even be found opposing God! (Homilies On the Acts of the Apostles, 14.)




Collect
O God, hope and light of the sincere,
we humbly entreat you to dispose our hearts
to offer you worthy prayer
and ever to extol you
by dutiful proclamation of your praise.
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

 




The precious and life-giving cross of Christ



Abbot

An excerpt from his Sermon on the Adoration of the Cross

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people? Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.

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

 





Thursday of the Second Week of Easter



“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.” (Acts 5:30.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“It was not with defiance that the apostles answered them, for they were teachers. And yet who, backed by an entire city and enjoying such grace, would not have spoken and uttered something big? But not these men. For they were not angered, but they pitied and wept over them and looked for a way to free them from their error and anger. No longer did they say to them, “You must judge,” but they declared, “He whom God raised, this man we proclaim.” It is by the will of God that these things are done, he says. They did not say, “Did we not say to you even then, that ‘we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’?” For they do not lust after honor. He repeats the same things: the cross, the resurrection. And they do not say why he was crucified—that it was for our sakes, but they hint at this, though not yet openly, because they wish to frighten them for a while. And yet what kind of rhetoric is this? No rhetoric at all, but always the passion, the resurrection, the ascension and the wherefore. (Homilies On the Acts of the Apostles, 13.)




Collect
O God, who for the salvation of the world
brought about the paschal sacrifice,
be favorable to the supplications of your people,
so that Christ our High Priest,
interceding on our behalf,
may by his likeness to ourselves
bring us reconciliation, and by his equality with you free us from our sins.
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

 




Let the love of God impel you



Priest

An excerpt from his Meditation 201

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

The apostle Paul states that God has placed apostles, prophets and doctors in the Church. If you meditate on this you will be convinced that you too have been given your special place. Paul testifies to this. He declares that there are different kinds of ministry and work, and that the same Holy Spirit is manifested in a variety of gifts for the good of all, that is, the good of the Church.

Therefore you should not doubt that you have been given the same kind of grace to teach boys, to instruct them in the Gospel, and to form them in religion. This is a great gift which God gave you when he called you to this holy work.

In your teaching, the boys in your charge must see by the way you teach that you are true ministers of God, full of true charity and sincere in carrying out your task. It is most important for you to realize that you are ministers not only of God but also of Jesus Christ and the Church.

Saint Paul also urges us to regard as ministers of Christ not only all who preach the Gospel but also those who write the message that Christ dictates not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the fleshy tablets of the heart—on the hearts of boys. Be driven by the love of God then, because Jesus Christ died for all, that those who live may not live for themselves but for him who died and rose for them. Let your students be moved by your untiring care for them and feel as though God were encouraging them through you, because you perform your duties as ambassadors of Christ.

Above all, let your charity and zeal show how you love the Church. Your work is for the Church, which is the body of Christ. By your diligence show your love for those whom God has given you, just as Christ loved the Church.

Take care that your boys enter into the building up of this temple so that one day they may become worthy to stand, glorious and without spot or wrinkle, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. See to it that the abundant grace God has given them may be shown in the years to come, as well as the grace given you to teach them and to bring them up to inherit the kingdom of God and our Lord Jesus 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

 





Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter



“But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said ...” (Acts 5:19.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, ‘Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’ And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and taught.” This was done for the encouragement of the disciples and for the benefit and instruction of the others. For notice how what Christ once did happened again here: he does not allow them to witness the miracle in action but provides that from which they may learn of it. This is what happened on the occasion of his resurrection: he did not let them see how he rose again. When wine is made from water, the guests do not see it (for they were drunk); the judgment he entrusts to others. Likewise in the present case, they do not see them being led out, but the evidence, from which they might understand what happened, they saw. And it was by night that the angel put them outside. Why? Because in this way they were more believed than they would have been otherwise. They would not have come to ask questions. They would not have believed otherwise.(Homilies On the Acts of the Apostles, 13.)




Collect
As we recall year by year the mysteries
by which,
through the restoration of its original dignity,
human nature has received the hope of rising again,
we earnestly beseech Your mercy, Lord,
that what we celebrate in faith
we may possess in unending love.
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

 




Christ lives in his Church



(Bishop of Rome and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from Sermon 12 on the Passion

Easter Week 2: Wednesday

My dear brethren, there is no doubt that the Son of God took our human nature into so close a union with himself that one and the same Christ is present, not only in the firstborn of all creation, but in all his saints as well. The head cannot be separated from the members, nor the members from the head. Not in this life, it is true, but only in eternity will God be all in all, yet even now he dwells, whole and undivided, in his temple the Church. Such was his promise to us when he said: See, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

And so all that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation is not for us simply a matter of past history. Here and now we experience his power at work among us. Born of a virgin mother by the action of the Holy Spirit, Christ keeps his Church spotless and makes her fruitful by the inspiration of the same Spirit. In baptismal regeneration she brings forth children for God beyond all numbering. These are the sons of whom it is written: They are born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In Christ Abraham’s posterity is blessed, because in him the whole world receives the adoption of sons, and in him the patriarch becomes the father of all nations through the birth, not from human stock but by faith, of the descendants that were promised to him. From every nation on earth, without exception, Christ forms a single flock of those he has sanctified, daily fulfilling the promise he once made: I have other sheep, not of this fold, whom it is also ordained that I shall lead; and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Although it was primarily to Peter that he said: Feed my sheep, yet the one Lord guides all the pastors in the discharge of their office and leads to rich and fertile pastures all those who come to the rock. There is no counting the sheep who are nourished with his abundant love, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of the good shepherd who died for them.

But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage; the same is true, by faith, of all who are reborn through baptism. That is why we are to celebrate the Lord’s paschal sacrifice with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The leaven of our former malice is thrown out, and a new creature is filled and inebriated with the Lord himself. For the effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive. As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.

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

 





Feast: Saint Mark, Evangelist



“Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9.)

Saint Bede the Venerable comments on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“The stronger you are in your faith, the greater will be your confidence that you can overcome the wiles of the devil. You will also be aided in this endeavor by the knowledge that what you are going through is something common to the fellowship of all Christians throughout the world. Ever since the beginning of time it has been the lot of the righteous to suffer, and what a shame it would be if you were to be the only ones unable to endure this.” (On 1 Peter)



Collect
O God,
Who raised up Saint Mark, Your Evangelist,
and endowed him
with the grace to preach the Gospel,
grant, we pray,
that we may so profit from his teaching
as to follow faithfully
in the footsteps of Christ.
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



 






Preaching Truth



Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from his Against Heresies, Book 1

Feast: Saint Mark, Evangelist

The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. By faith, we believe in one God, the almighty Father who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became man for our salvation. And we believe in the Holy Spirit who through the prophets foretold God’s plan: the coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven, and his final coming from heaven in the glory of his Father, to recapitulate all things and to raise all men from the dead, so that, by the decree of his invisible Father, he may make a just judgment in all things and so that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth to Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, our Savior and our King, and every tongue confess him.

The Church, spread throughout the whole world, received this preaching and this faith and now preserves it carefully, dwelling as it were in one house. Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition.

The faith and the tradition of the churches founded in Germany are no different from those founded among the Spanish and the Celts, in the East, in Egypt, in Libya and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world. Just as God’s creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over, so also does the Church’s preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all men who want to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Now of those who speak with authority in the churches, no preacher however forceful will utter anything different—for no one is above the Master—nor will a less forceful preacher diminish what has been handed down. Since our faith is everywhere the same, no one who can say more augments it, nor can anyone who says less diminish it.

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