Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr



“Jesus replied, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?”” (Luke 17:7.)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“You do not say to your servant, “Sit down,” but require more service from him and do not thank him. The Lord also does not allow only one work or labor for you, because so long as we live we must always work. Know that you are a servant overwhelmed by very much obedience. You must not set yourself first, because you are called a son of God. Grace must be acknowledged, but nature not overlooked. Do not boast of yourself if you have served well, as you should have done. The sun obeys, the moon complies, and the angels serve. Let us not require praise from ourselves nor prevent the judgment of God and anticipate the sentence of the Judge but reserve it for its own time and Judge.” (Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 8)


Collect


Stir up in Your Church, we pray, O Lord,
the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat
as he laid down his life for the sheep,
so that through his intercession
we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit
and not be afraid
to lay down our life for others.
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









He gave his life for the unity of the Church



Bishop of Rome

An excerpt from Ecclesiam Dei

Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

In designing his Church God worked with such skill that in the fullness of time it would resemble a single great family embracing all men. It can be identified, as we know, by certain distinctive characteristics, notably its universality and unity.

Christ the Lord passed on to his apostles the task he had received from the Father: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. He wanted the apostles as a body to be intimately bound together, first by the inner tie of the same faith and love which flows into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and, second, by the external tie of authority exercised by one apostle over the others. For this he assigned the primacy to Peter, the source and visible basis of their unity for all time. So that the unity and agreement among them would endure, God wisely stamped them, one might say, with the mark of holiness and martyrdom.

Both these distinctions fell to Josaphat, archbishop of Polock of the Slavonic rite of the Eastern Church. He is rightly looked upon as the great glory and strength of the Eastern Rite Slavs. Few have brought them greater honor or contributed more to their spiritual welfare than Josaphat, their pastor and apostle, especially when he gave his life as a martyr for the unity of the Church. He felt, in fact, that God had inspired him to restore world-wide unity to the Church and he realized that his greatest chance of success lay in preserving the Slavonic rite and Saint Basil’s rule of monastic life within the one universal Church.

Concerned mainly with seeing his own people reunited to the See of Peter, he sought out every available argument which would foster and maintain Church unity. His best arguments were drawn from liturgical books, sanctioned by the Fathers of the Church, which were in common use among Eastern Christians, including the dissidents. Thus thoroughly prepared, he set out to restore the unity of the Church. A forceful man of fine sensibilities, he met with such success that his opponents dubbed him “the thief of souls.”



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 Martin of Tours, Bishop



“And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6.)

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

“They ask, “Add faith to us.” They do not ask simply for faith, for perhaps you might imagine them to be without faith. They rather ask Christ for an addition to their faith and to be strengthened in faith. Faith partly depends on us and partly is the gift of the divine grace. The beginning of faith depends on us and our maintaining confidence and faith in God with all our power. The confirmation and strength necessary for this comes from the divine grace. For that reason, since all things are possible with God, the Lord says that all things are possible for him who believes. The power that comes to us through faith is of God. Knowing this, blessed Paul also says in the first epistle to the Corinthians, “For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, and to another faith in the same Spirit.” You see that he has placed faith also in the catalogue of spiritual graces. The disciples requested that they might receive this from the Savior, contributing also what was of themselves. By the descent upon them of the Holy Spirit, he granted it to them after the fulfillment of the dispensation. Before the resurrection, their faith was so feeble that they were liable even to the charge of being “little of faith.”” (Commentary on Luke, Homilies 113-116)


Collect
O God,
Who are glorified in the Bishop Saint Martin
both by his life and death,
make new, we pray,
the wonders of Your grace in our hearts,
that neither death nor life
may separate us from Your 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.



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








Martin the poor and humble man



Ancient Christian Writer

An excerpt from his Letter 3

Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near. Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes. The clergy of that church were quarreling, and he wished to reconcile them. Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.

He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed. Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength. He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.”

Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed. Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: “Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.” As he spoke these words, he saw the devil standing near. “Why do you stand there, you bloodthirsty brute?” he cried. “Murderer, you will not have me for your prey. Abraham is welcoming me into his embrace.”

With these words, he gave up his spirit to heaven. Filled with joy, Martin was welcomed by Abraham. Thus he left this life a poor and lowly man and entered heaven rich in God’s favor.


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



“... and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:38.)

Philoxenus of Mabbug (author also of The Discourses) comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“The prophet’s words are applicable to those who sin without perceiving their sin. A sinner who has received baptism, although he may be dead toward his soul because he does not perceive his sin, he is alive to God because of the grace of baptism that he possesses. This agrees with the words “God is not of the dead but of the living, for they are all living in him.” (On the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, 1.)


Collect
Almighty and merciful God,
graciously keep from us all adversity,
so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,
we may pursue in freedom of heart
the things that are yours.
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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Christ willed to save those who were perishing



Ancient Christian Author
Anonymous

An excerpt from a Second Century Homily

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Brethren, we ought to regard Jesus Christ as God and judge of the living and the dead. We should not hold our Savior in low esteem for if we esteem him but little, we may hope to obtain but little from him. Moreover, people who hear these things and think them of small importance commit sin, and we ourselves sin if we do not realize what we have been called from, who has called us, and to what place, and how much suffering Jesus Christ endured on our account.

How then shall we repay him? What fruit can we bear that would be worthy of what he has given us? For how many benefits are we not in his debt! He has enlightened our minds; he has called us sons as a father does; he saved us when we were about to perish. How then shall we praise him, how repay him for his gifts? Spiritually blind, we worshiped stones and pieces of wood, gold and silver and bronze, things made by men, and our whole life was death. Darkness enfolded us, and nothing but gloom met our eyes. Then, by his will, we escaped from the cloud that enveloped us and recovered our sight. For he saw our many errors and the damnation that awaited us, and knowing that apart from him we had no hope of salvation, he pitied us, and in his mercy saved us. He called us when we were not his people and willed us to become his people.

Rejoice, O barren woman who never bore a child; break into shouts of joy, you who never knew a mother’s pangs; for the deserted wife shall have more children than she who has a husband. When he says: Rejoice O barren woman who never bore a child, he is speaking of us, for our Church was barren until children were given her. When he says: Break into shouts of joy, you who never knew a mother’s pangs, he means that we should not grow weary like women in labor, but tirelessly and in all simplicity offer our prayers to God. He declares that the deserted wife shall have more children than she who has a husband, because faith has now made our people who seemed to have been deserted by God more numerous than those who were thought to possess him.

Another text says: I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, for it is those who are perishing who must be saved. It is a great and wonderful work to uphold those who are falling, rather than those who already stand firm. Christ willed to save people who were in danger of losing their souls, and he has been the salvation of many. When we were on the point of perishing, he came and called us.

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 of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome



On this day in 324, lands and buildings that originally belonged to the Roman Laterani family were formally dedicated as the Cathedral Church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I. The during the reign of Emperor Nero, the Laterani family lost the property to the Emperor when a family member was accused of some unknown impropriety against Nero. From the the time of Nero to the early years of the fourth century, the ‘ownership history’ is somewhat sketchy as the property eventually passes to Constantine's wife, Fausta. What is clear is that with the Edict of Toleration, the Roman Empire's relationship with the Church changed dramatically. Not only were bishops appointed civil magistrates by the emperor, Constantine also began an aggressive 'renovation' project taking existing Roman buildings and permitting the bishops to use them for places of worship and ecclesiastical gatherings/meetings. New buildings were also constructed during this time and dedicated as Churches to signal the Church’s clear visible presence in the Empire. Robin Jensen notes that this ‘church building campaign’ “symbolized the beginning of Christianity’s transition from a minority community adapting what it had available and expressing itself in familiar terms, to a powerful, wealthy and dominant segment of the population, now able to determine the forms and styles by which it expressed its own cultural identity. The imposing scale and potential grandeur of the basilica design well suited the gradually more elaborate liturgy, even as it reflected the changed social and political status of the church and became a definitive and monumental symbol of the church’s new self-understanding and cultural integration (Christianity: Origins to Constantine, page 585).”


“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 2:13.)

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

“This account of the multitude of sellers who were cast out of the temple is given by all the Evangelists, but John introduces it in a remarkably different order. After recording the testimony borne by John the Baptist to Jesus and mentioning that he went into Galilee at the time when he turned the water into wine, and after he has also noticed the sojourn of a few days in Capernaum, John proceeds to tell us that he went up to Jerusalem at the season of the Jews’ Passover, and when he had made a scourge of small cords, drove out of the temple those who were selling in it. This makes it evident that this act was performed by the Lord not on a single occasion but twice over; but that only the first instance is put on record by John, and the last by the other three.” (Harmony of the Gospels, 2.)




Collect
O God, Who from living and chosen stones
prepare an eternal dwelling for Your majesty,
increase in Your Church
the spirit of grace You have bestowed,
so that by new growth Your faithful people
may build up the heavenly Jerusalem.
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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We have all been made temples of God through Baptism




An excerpt from Sermon 229

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

My fellow Christians, today is the birthday of this church, an occasion for celebration and rejoicing. We, however, ought to be the true and living temple of God. Nevertheless, Christians rightly commemorate this feast of the church, their mother, for they know that through her they were reborn in the spirit. At our first birth, we were vessels of God’s wrath; reborn, we became vessels of his mercy. Our first birth brought death to us, but our second restored us to life.

Indeed, before our baptism we were sanctuaries of the devil; but after our baptism we merited the privilege of being temples of Christ. And if we think more carefully about the meaning of our salvation, we shall realize that we are indeed living and true temples of God. God does not dwell only in structures fashioned by human hands, in homes of wood and stone, but rather he dwells principally in the soul made according to his own image and fashioned by his own hand. Therefore, the apostle Paul says: The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.

When Christ came, he banished the devil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for himself. Let us therefore do what we can with his help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple. For whoever does evil, does injury to Christ. As I said earlier, before Christ redeemed us, we were the house of the devil, but afterward, we merited the privilege of being the house of God. God himself in his loving mercy saw fit to make of us his own home.

My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified. Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised: I shall live in them, and I shall walk the corridors of their hearts.

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 Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time



“... to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:16.)

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

“The priests had to make sure when they offered sacrifices that there were no blemishes on the sacrificial victim nor faults of any kind, so that the sacrifice might be acceptable and pleasing to God. So also the one who makes a sacrifice of the gospel and preaches the Word of God must ensure that there is no blemish in his preaching, nor fault in his teaching, which might make him blameworthy at the judgment. Rather, he ought first of all to sacrifice himself, to strangle his own faults and to put to death the sins in his members, so that not only by his teaching but also by the example of his life he may make his sacrifice, which is the salvation of his disciples, acceptable to God. The Holy Spirit is the source of sanctification, and therefore the offering of the Gentiles which is made by Paul, in the role of priest, is said to be made acceptable to God by the Holy Spirit and not by the observance of the law.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)


Collect
Almighty and merciful God,
by Whose gift Your faithful offer You
right and praiseworthy service,
grant, we pray,
that we may hasten without stumbling
to receive the things You have promised.
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


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It is a holy thought to pray for the dead

Bishop and Great Eastern Father of the Church

An excerpt from In Praise of his brother, Caesarius

Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time


What is man, that you are mindful of him? What is this new mystery surrounding me? I am both small and great, both lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I am to be buried with Christ and to rise again with him, to become a co-heir with him, a son of God, and indeed God himself.

This is what the great mystery means for us; this is why God became man and became poor for our sake: it was to raise up our flesh, to recover the divine image, to re-create mankind, so that all of us might become one in Christ who perfectly became in us everything that he is himself. So we are no longer to be male and female, barbarian and Scythian, slave and free—distinctions deriving from the flesh—but are to bear within ourselves only the seal of God, by whom and for whom we were created. We are to be so formed and molded by him that we are recognized as belonging to his one family.

If only we could be what we hope to be, by the great kindness of our generous God! He asks so little and gives so much, in this life and in the next, to those who love him sincerely. In a spirit of hope and out of love for him, let us then bear and endure all things and give thanks for everything that befalls us, since even reason can often recognize these things as weapons to win salvation. And meanwhile let us commend to God our own souls and the souls of those who, being more ready for it, have reached the place of rest before us although they walked the same road as we do.

Lord and Creator of all, and especially of your creature man, you are the God and Father and ruler of your children; you are the Lord of life and death, you are the guardian and benefactor of our souls. You fashion and transform all things in their due season through your creative Word, as you know to be best in your deep wisdom and providence. Receive now those who have gone ahead of us in our journey from this life.

And receive us too at the proper time, when you have guided us in our bodily life as long as may be for our profit. Receive us prepared indeed by fear of you, but not troubled, not shrinking back on that day of death or uprooted by force like those who are lovers of the world and the flesh. Instead, may we set out eagerly for that everlasting and blessed life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory 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