Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time



“When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.” (Matthew 20:8.)

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

“The last ones, receiving the generosity of the Master instead of troubles, are first to receive their reward, since all those after the Lord’s coming have become — through baptism and the union with the Spirit — “sharers in God’s nature” and are called sons of God. For the prophets too have become sharers in the Spirit, but not in the same way as the faithful, since the Holy Spirit is in some way like a leaven for the souls of the faithful and changes the entire man to another condition of life. And so we have become “participants in God’s nature,” and openly we cry “Abba, Father.” The more ancient peoples did not receive the same grace. So Paul too says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” The ancients then received a spirit of slavery without the honor of adoption. Since therefore we really are first to receive a denarius, we must of necessity be said to be honored above the rest.” (Fragment 226)



Collect
O God,
Who have prepared for those who love You
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray,
with the warmth of Your love,
so that,
loving You in all things and above all things,
we may attain Your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
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





He who perseveres to the end will be saved



Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Sermo Caillau-Saint Yves

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Whenever we suffer some affliction, we should regard it both as a punishment and as a correction. Our holy Scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and rest. On the contrary, the Gospel makes no secret of the troubles and temptations that await us, but it also says that he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has there ever been in this life since the time when the first man received the just sentence of death and the curse from which Christ our Lord has delivered us?

So we must not grumble, my brothers, for as the Apostle says: Some of them murmured and were destroyed by serpents. Is there any affliction now endured by mankind that was not endured by our fathers before us? What sufferings of ours even bear comparison with what we know of their sufferings? And yet you hear people complaining about this present day and age because things were so much better in former times. I wonder what would happen if they could be taken back to the days of their ancestors—would we not still hear them complaining? You may think past ages were good, but it is only because you are not living in them.

It amazes me that you who have now been freed from the curse, who have believed in the son of God, who have been instructed in the holy Scriptures — that you can think the days of Adam were good. And your ancestors bore the curse of Adam, of that Adam to whom the words were addressed: With sweat on your brow you shall eat your bread; you shall till the earth from which you were taken, and it will yield you thorns and thistles. This is what he deserved and what he had to suffer; this is the punishment meted out to him by the just judgment of God. How then can you think that past ages were better than your own? From the time of that first Adam to the time of his descendants today, man’s lot has been labor and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood and the calamitous times of famine and war whose history has been recorded precisely in order to keep us from complaining to God on account of our own times? Just think what those past ages were like! Is there one of us who does not shudder to hear or read of them? Far from justifying complaints about our own time, they teach us how much we have to be thankful for.

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 Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28.)

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

“In gift giving it is not the gift itself that God praises and approves but the will and sincerity of the giver. He excuses and holds more acceptable the one who gave less but gave it with more perfect sincerity than the one who gave more from a fuller store but with less pure affection. Thus, from what is written about the gifts of the wealthy and from the two mites which the widow in the treasury sent for the poor, it is clear that the same also happens to those who leave everything that they possess for the love of God so as to follow undistractedly the Christ of God. They will do everything according to his word. The one who leaves the greater wealth is not more acceptable than the one who leaves the lesser. This is especially so if he leaves the lesser with his whole heart. What Peter left, along with his brother Andrew, was small and of no value, but when they both heard, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men, immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Yet they were not valued lightly by God, who knew that they had done this with great love. God knew that even if they had been endowed with much wealth they would still not have been distracted by it, nor would their desire to follow Jesus have been thwarted by it. Those who follow the Savior, therefore, will sit on the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and will receive this power in the resurrection of the dead. For this is the regeneration, a new birth, when the new heaven and the new earth are established for those who renew themselves, and a New Testament with its chalice is given.” (Commentary on Matthew, 15.)




Collect
O God,
Who made the Mother of your Son
to be our Mother and our Queen,
graciously grant that,
sustained by her intercession,
we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom
the glory promised to your children.
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





Queen of the world and of peace



Bishop

An excerpt from a Sermon

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honor due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.

So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbors with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.

Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?

She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channelled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings. amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir.

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 Pius X, Pope



“He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness...” (Matthew 19:18.)

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

”These commandments are sufficient for someone entering on the ground level of the path of eternal life. But they are not sufficient to lead one to the higher life, and certainly not to perfection. One who fails in just one of these commandments cannot even enter the beginnings of life. Anyone who wishes to enter the early stages of the path of life must be free from adultery and murder and any kind of theft. For just as the adulterer and murderer will not enter into life, so neither will the thief. Many of those who are said to believe in Christ are guilty of this sin. Just look at their daily business and the way money is entrusted to them and the crafts they practice.” (Commentary on Matthew, 16.)




Collect
O God,
Who to safeguard the Catholic faith
and to restore all things in Christ,
filled Pope Saint Pius the Tenth
with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude,
graciously grant
that, following his teaching and example,
we may gain an eternal prize.
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 song of the Church



Bishop of Rome

An excerpt from his Apostolic Constitution, Divino afflatu

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

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

 

 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time



“She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters...” (Matthew 15:27.)

In commenting on this verse from today’s Gospel, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“See her humility as well as her faith! For he had called the Jews “children,” but she was not satisfied with this. She even called them “masters,” so far was she from grieving at the praises of others. She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Behold the woman’s wisdom! She did not venture so much as to say a word against anyone else. She was not stung to see others praised, nor was she indignant to be reproached. Behold her constancy. When he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” she said, “Yes, Lord.” He called them “children,” but she called them “masters.” He used the name of a dog, but she described the action of the dog. Do you see this woman’s humility?

Then compare her humility with the proud language of the Jews: “We are Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage to any man.” “We are born of God.” But not so this woman. Rather, she calls herself a dog and them masters. So for this reason she became a child. For what does Christ then say? “O woman, great is your faith.”

So we might surmise that this is the reason he put her off, in order that he might proclaim aloud this saying and that he might crown the woman: “Be it done for you as you desire.” This means “Your faith, indeed, is able to effect even greater things than these. Nevertheless be it unto you even as you wish.” This voice was at one with the voice that said, “Let the heaven be,” and it was.

“And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Do you see how this woman, too, contributed not a little to the healing of her daughter? For note that Christ did not say, “Let your little daughter be made whole,” but “Great is your faith, be it done for you as you desire.” These words were not uttered at random, nor were they flattering words, but great was the power of her faith, and for our learning.

He left the certain test and demonstration, however, to the issue of events. Her daughter accordingly was immediately healed.” (The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 52.)




Collect
O God,
Who have prepared for those who love You
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray,
with the warmth of Your love,
so that,
loving You in all things and above all things,
we may attain Your promises, which surpass every human desire.
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

 






Salt of the earth and light of the world



Bishop and Great Eastern Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Homily on Matthew

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you into two cities only or ten or twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savor and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.

Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labor to keep that corruption from returning.

Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.

If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavor be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.

When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, they may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says; “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”

Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.

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

 

 

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time



“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, ...” (Matthew 19:13.)

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

“The children prefigure the Gentiles, to whom salvation is given through faith and the simple word. But since the goal was first to save Israel, they were at first prevented by the disciples from approaching. The action of the apostles is not about their personal desires but rather their serving as a type or prefiguring of the future proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord says that the children should not be prevented because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”; for the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit was going to be bestowed on the Gentiles by the laying on of hands, when the work of the law ceased.” (On Matthew, 19.)



Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which 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.



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





Who, O God, is like you? You take away guilt



Bishop of Barcelona

An excerpt from his A Sermon on Baptism,

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

As we have borne the image of the earthly man, so we shall bear the image of him who is from heaven; since the first man who came from the earth, is earthly, but the second man who came from heaven, is heavenly. And so, dearly beloved, we shall not die anymore. Even if we fall asleep in this body, we shall live in Christ, as he said: Whoever believes in me, even if he die, shall live.

As the Lord is our witness, we are certain that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the saints of God are alive. For concerning them the Lord says: They are all alive. For God is a God of the living, and not of the dead. And the Apostle says of himself: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I would rather die and be with Christ. And again: But while we are still in this body we are away from God, for we are guided by faith, and not by appearance. This is what we believe, dearest brothers. For the rest: If we place our hope in this world, we are the most miserable of men. Life in this world, whether it be that of beasts, wild animals or birds, as you yourselves see, is either similar to ours or more tedious. What is peculiar to man, and what Christ gives through his Spirit, is eternal life, but only if we sin no more. Thus death is acquired by sin but avoided by right living; life is lost through sin and preserved through good living. The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is Christ who redeemed us, as the Apostle says: Forgiving us all our sins and destroying what was recorded against us by disobedience, he bore our burden in public view, fixed it to the cross, stripped his own flesh, exposed the powers of this world and freely conquered them in himself. He released our shackles and destroyed our chains, as David had said: The Lord lifts up what has been torn down; the Lord frees those in shackles; the Lord gives light to the blind. And again: You have destroyed my chains; I will offer sacrifice to you with praise. And so when we come to the sign of the Lord in the sacrament of baptism we are freed of these chains and liberated by the blood of Christ and by his name.

Therefore beloved, we are washed clean but once; we are freed only once; we are received into the immortal kingdom once and for all. Once and for all are they happy whose sins are forgiven and whose stains are blotted out. Hold fast to what you have received; preserve it joyfully; sin no more. Keep yourselves as children cleansed by that sacrament and made spotless for the day of the Lord.

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