Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek



In some areas of the world today (such as Holy Family University, Philadelphia PA), the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth are celebrating the feast of the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek.

From the Congregation’s website:

“Sister Mary Stella CSFN, (Adela Mardosewicz) and her 10 companion sisters were executed by the Nazi regime on 1 August 1943 and buried in a common grave outside Nowogródek, then in Poland now part of Belarus.

In the wake of mass arrests the previous month in Nowogrodek, Sister Mary Stella and her companions prayed:

‘O God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us who are free from family obligations and spare those who have wives and children.’

Sr. Stella and her 10 companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 5, 2000.” See more at the Sisters’ website.

O Most Blessed Trinity,
we praise and thank You
for the example of Blessed Mary Stella
and Her ten companions,
Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
who by imitating Jesus Christ,
offered themselves as a sacrifice of love.
God of mercy and compassion,
through the merits of their martyrdom
and by their intercession,
grant us the grace we humbly ask…
(insert intention here)…
so that like them,
we may witness with our lives
to the presence of the Kingdom of God’s love
and extend it to the human family
throughout the world.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Martyred Sisters of Nowogródek,
pray for us.





Friday of Week XXII


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15.)

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (part 2 of the background of Saint Gregory of Nyssa is found here) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“The meaning of the “creation,” of which he is firstborn, is not unknown to us. For we recognize a twofold creation of our nature, the first that of our conception and birth, the second that of our new creation. But there would have been no need for the second creation had we not crippled the first by our disobedience. Accordingly, when the first creation had grown old and vanished away, it was necessary that there should be a new creation in Christ … for the maker of human nature at the first and afterwards is one and the same. Then he took dust from the earth and formed man: again he took dust from the Virgin and did not merely form man, but formed man about himself: then he created; afterwards, he was created: then the Word made flesh; afterwards, the Word became flesh, that he might change our flesh to spirit, through becoming a partaker with us in flesh and blood. Of this new creation therefore in Christ, which he himself began, he was called the firstborn.” (Against Eunomius, 4.)



Collect
God of might,
giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of Your Name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
You may nurture in us what is good and,
by Your watchful care,
keep safe what You have nurtured.
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





Blessed are the poor in spirit


Friday of Week XXII Ordinary Time 
(Bishop of Rome and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from his Sermon on the Beatitudes


It cannot be doubted that the poor can more easily attain the blessing of humility than those who are rich. In the case of the poor, the lack of worldly goods is often accompanied by a quiet gentleness, whereas the rich are more prone to arrogance. Nevertheless, many wealthy people are disposed to use their abundance not to swell their own pride but to perform works of benevolence. They consider their greatest gain what they spend to alleviate the distress of others.

This virtue is open to all men, no matter what their class or condition, because all can be equal in their willingness to give, however unequal they may be in earthly fortune. Indeed, their inequality in regard to worldly means is unimportant, provided they are found equal in spiritual possessions. Blessed, therefore, is that poverty which is not trapped by the love of temporal things and does not seek to be enriched by worldly wealth, but desires rather to grow rich in heavenly goods.

The apostles were the first after the Lord himself to provide us with an example of this generous poverty, when they all equally left their belongings at the call of the heavenly master. By an immediate conversion they were turned from the catching of fish to become fishers of men, and by their own example they won many others to the imitation of their own faith. In these first sons of the Church there was but one heart and one soul among all who believed. Abandoning all their worldly property and possessions in their dedicated poverty, they were enriched with eternal goods, and in accordance with the apostolic preaching, they rejoiced to have nothing of this world and to possess all things with Christ.

Therefore, when the apostle Peter was on his way up to the temple and was asked for alms by the lame man, he replied: Silver and gold I have not; but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk. What is more sublime than this humility? And what could be richer than this poverty? Though Peter cannot assist with money, he can confer gifts of nature. With a word Peter brought healing to the man who had been lame from birth; he who did not give a coin with the emperor’s image refashioned the image of Jesus in this man.

And by the riches of this treasure, not only did he help the man who recovered the power to walk, but also five thousand others who believed the preaching of the apostle because of this miraculous cure. Thus Peter, who in his poverty had no money to give to the beggar, bestowed such a bounty of divine grace that in restoring to health the feet of one man, he healed the hearts of many thousands of believers. He had found all of them lame; but he made them leap for joy in 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

 

 


MEMORIAL


— Saint Gregory the Great —


(Bishop of Rome and Father of the Church)


“... giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light... ” (Colossians 1:12.)

Saint Basil the Great offers the following insight on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“For he himself has bound the strong man and stolen his goods, that is, humanity itself, whom our enemy had abused in every evil activity. God has created “vessels fit for the Master’s use,” that is, us who have been perfected for every work through the preparation of that part of us which is in our own control. Thus we gained our approach to the Father through him, being translated from “the power of darkness to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (On the Holy Spirit, 8)



Collect
O God,
Who care for Your people with gentleness
and rule them in love,
through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory,
endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom
those to whom You have given authority to govern,
that the flourishing of a holy flock
may become the eternal joy of the shepherds.
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

 


For Christ’s love
I do not spare myself in speaking of Him


MEMORIAL 
(Bishop of Rome and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from his Homily on Ezekiel


Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Note that a man whom the Lord sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.

How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching.

I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgment of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge. Indeed when I was in the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers. Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters.

I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and of the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must become an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience and at times I must deal with them in all charity.

With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel? Moreover, in my position I must often communicate with worldly men. At times I let my tongue run, for if I am always severe in my judgments, the worldly will avoid me, and I can never attack them as I would. As a result I often listen patiently to chatter. And because I too am weak, I find myself drawn little by little into idle conversation, and I begin to talk freely about matters which once I would have avoided. What once I found tedious I now enjoy.

So who am I to be a watchman, for I do not stand on the mountain of action but lie down in the valley of weakness? Truly the all-powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech; because I love him, I do not spare myself in speaking of him.

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 Week XXII


“... that has come to you. Just as in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you, from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth...” (Colossians 1:6.)

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

“It is much less surprising that he [Paul] used his verbs in the present tense in that passage which, as you remarked, he repeated again and again: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which is come to you as also it is in the whole world, and brings forth fruit and grows.” Although the gospel did not yet embrace the whole world, he said that it brings forth fruit and grows in the whole world, in order to show how far it would extend in bearing fruit and growing. If, then, it is hidden from us when the whole world will be filled by the church bringing forth fruit and growing, undoubtedly it is hidden from us when the end will be, but it certainly will not be before that.” (Letter 199)


Collect
God of might,
giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of Your Name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
You may nurture in us what is good and,
by Your watchful care,
keep safe what You have nurtured.
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 spoke of his body as a temple


An excerpt from A Commentary on John 
Week XXII of Ordinary Time — Wednesday

Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. It seems to me that Jesus meant the Jews in this episode to stand for sensual men and those desirous of carnal and sensual things. These Jews were angry at his expulsion of the people who were turning his Father’s house into a market. So they asked for a sign to justify these actions, a sign that would show that the Word of God, whom they refused to accept, was acting rightly. The Savior’s reply combines a statement about the temple with a prophecy about his own body, for in answer to their question: What sign can you give to justify your conduct? he says: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.

Indeed, I think that both the temple and the body of Jesus can be seen together as a type of the Church. For the Church is being built out of living stones; it is in process of becoming a spiritual dwelling for a holy priesthood, raised on the foundations of apostles and prophets, with Christ as its chief cornerstone. Hence it bears the name “temple.” On the other hand, it is written: You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it. Thus even the harmonious alignment of the stones should seem to be destroyed and fragmented and, as described in the twenty-first psalm, all the bones which go to make up Christ’s body should seem to be scattered by insidious attacks in persecutions or times of trouble, or by those who in days of persecution undermine the unity of the temple, nevertheless the temple will be rebuilt and the body will rise again on the third day, after the day of evil which threatens it and the day of consummation which follows. For the third day will dawn upon a new heaven and a new earth when these bones that form the whole house of Israel are raised up on that great day of the Lord, when death has been defeated. So the resurrection of Christ, accomplished after his suffering on the cross, embraces the mystery of the resurrection of his whole body.

For just as that physical body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward raised up, so in the same way the whole body of Christ’s holy ones has been crucified and lives no longer with its own life. For each of them, like Paul, makes his boast of nothing else but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he has himself been crucified to the world, and the world to him. But each Christian has not only been crucified with Christ and crucified to the world; he has been buried with Christ too, as Paul tells us: We have been buried with Christ. But as though already in possession of some pledge of the resurrection, Paul goes on to say: And we have risen with him.

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

 

 

Tuesday of Week XXII


“For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.” (I Thessalonians 5:5.)

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

“If you wish to see Jesus transfigured before those who went up on the mountain with him, behold with me the Jesus in the Gospels as more simply understood. This is Jesus, as one might say, known “according to the flesh” by those who do not go up through uplifting words and works to the holy mountain of wisdom. Behold him with me as known in his divinity by means of all of the Gospels, beheld in the form of God according to the knowledge that his companions had. For before them Jesus is transfigured, but not to any of those who are below. But when he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun, so that he may be manifested to the children of light. These have put off the works of darkness and have put on the armor of light16 and are no longer the children of darkness or night, but have become sons of the day and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifested, he will shine for them not only as the sun, but as the son of righteousness.” (Commentary on Matthew, 12.)


Collect
God of might,
giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of Your Name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
You may nurture in us what is good and,
by Your watchful care,
keep safe what You have nurtured.
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 truth of the Lord endures for ever


An excerpt from The Imitation of Christ (Book 3)
Week XXII of Ordinary Time — Tuesday


You thunder your judgments upon me, O Lord; you shake all my bones with fear and dread, and my soul becomes severely frightened. I am bewildered when I realize that even the heavens are not pure in your sight.

If you discovered iniquity in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me? The stars fell from heaven, and I, mere dust, what should I expect? Those whose works seemed praiseworthy fell to the depths, and I have seen those who once were fed with the bread of angels delighting in the husks of swine. There is no holiness where you have withdrawn your hand, O Lord; no profitable wisdom if you cease to rule over it; no helpful strength if you cease to preserve it. For if you forsake us, we sink and perish; but if you visit us, we rise up and live again. We are unstable, but you make us firm; we grow cool, but you inflame us.

All superficial glory has been swallowed up in the depths of your judgment upon me. What is all flesh in your sight? Can the clay be glorified in opposition to its Maker? How can anyone be aroused by empty talk if his heart is subject in the truth to God? The whole world cannot swell with pride the man who is subject to truth; nor will he be swayed by the flattery of all his admirers, if he has established all his trust in God. For those who do all the talking amount to nothing; they fail with their din of words, but the truth of the Lord endures 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

 

 

Monday of Week XXII


“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13.)

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

“And you should not grieve as the heathen do who have no hope, because we have hope, based on the most assured promise, that as we have not lost our dear ones who have departed from this life but have merely sent them ahead of us, so we also shall depart and shall come to that life where, more than ever, their dearness to us will be proportional to the closeness we shared on earth and where we shall love them without fear of parting.” (Letter 92)


Collect
God of might,
giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of Your Name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
You may nurture in us what is good and,
by Your watchful care,
keep safe what You have nurtured.
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