Prayer for the People of Nepal

Pause for a moment to offer prayer for our sisters and brothers suffering in Nepal. Catholic Relief Services is among the many organizations helping to ease the suffering.


Collect
(This prayer is taken from The Roman Missal, “Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, #34:  In Time of Earthquake”)

O God,
Who set the earth on its firm foundation,
spare those who are fearful
and show favor to those who implore You,
so that, with all dangers of earthquake entirely gone,
we may continue to experience Your mercy
and serve You in thankfulness,
safe under Your protection.
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.

 
 
 
 
 

— The Lord's Day —

Easter, the Fourth Sunday


“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

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

“So listen to this unity being even more urgently drawn to your attention: “I have other sheep,” he says, “who are not of this fold.” He was talking, you see, to the first sheepfold of the race of Israel according to the flesh. But there were others, of the race of the same Israel according to faith, and they were still outside, they were of the Gentiles, predestined but not yet gathered in. He knew those whom he had predestined. He knew those whom he had come to redeem by shedding his blood. He was able to see them, while they could not yet see him. He knew them, though they did not yet believe in him. “I have,” he said, “other sheep that are not of this fold,” because they are not of the race of Israel according to the flesh. But all the same, they will not be outside this sheepfold, because “I must bring them along too, so that there may be one flock and one shepherd.” (Sermon 138)



Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,
so that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!


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 the Good Shepherd

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Easter, the Fourth Sunday

An excerpt from:
Homily 14 on the Gospels
Saint Gregory the Great


I am the good shepherd. I know my own — by which I mean, I love them — and my own know me. In plain words: those who love me are willing to follow me, for anyone who does not love the truth has not yet come to know it.

My dear brethren, you have heard the test we pastors have to undergo. Turn now to consider how these words of our Lord imply a test for yourselves also. Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him, whether the light of his truth shines in your minds. I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action. John the evangelist is my authority for this statement. He tells us that anyone who claims to know God without keeping his commandments is a liar.

Consequently, the Lord immediately adds: As the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. Clearly he means that laying down his life for his sheep gives evidence of his knowledge of the Father and the Father’s knowledge of him. In other words, by the love with which he dies for his sheep he shows how greatly he loves his Father.

Again he says: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them; they follow me, and I give them eternal life. Shortly before this he had declared: If anyone enters the sheepfold through me he shall be saved; he shall go freely in and out and shall find good pasture. He will enter into a life of faith; from faith he will go out to vision, from belief to contemplation, and will graze in the good pastures of everlasting life.

So our Lord’s sheep will finally reach their grazing ground where all who follow him in simplicity of heart will feed on the green pastures of eternity. These pastures are the spiritual joys of heaven. There the elect look upon the face of God with unclouded vision and feast at the banquet of life for ever more.

Beloved brothers, let us set out for these pastures where we shall keep joyful festival with so many of our fellow citizens. May the thought of their happiness urge us on! Let us stir up our hearts, rekindle our faith, and long eagerly for what heaven has in store for us. To love thus is to be already on our way. No matter what obstacles we encounter, we must not allow them to turn us aside from the joy of that heavenly feast. Anyone who is determined to reach his destination is not deterred by the roughness of the road that leads to it. Nor must we allow the charm of success to seduce us, or we shall be like a foolish traveler who is so distracted by the pleasant meadows through which he is passing that he forgets where he is going.

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

 

 

— Saint Mark, evangelist —

“So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)

Pope Saint Leo the Great offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“And so while at Easter it was the Lord’s resurrection which was the cause of our joy, our present rejoicing is due to his ascension into heaven. With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up in Christ above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond those heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvelous when, in spite of the withdrawal from our sight of everything that is rightly felt to command our reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, charity does not grow cold. It was in order that we might be capable of such blessedness that on the fortieth day after his resurrection, after he had made careful provision for everything concerning the preaching of the gospel and the mysteries of the new covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven before the eyes of his disciples, and so his bodily presence among them came to an end. From that time onward he was to remain at the Father’s right hand until the completion of the period ordained by God for the church’s children to increase and multiply, after which, in the same body with which he ascended, he will come again to judge the living and the dead. And so our redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because empirical sight has been replaced by a reliable teaching whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high.” (Sermon 74)

On this Feast of the Evangelist Saint Mark, it well worth pondering the Good News of Jesus Christ that he [Saint Mark] recorded.


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.


The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!


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

 


— Saint Mark, evangelist —
Preaching Truth

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Feast: Saint Mark, evangelist

An excerpt from:
Against Heresies
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
(bishop, Father of the Church and martyr)

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 judgement 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

 

 

Easter: Friday of the Third Week

“But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.” (Acts of the Apostles 9:13)

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

“Let no one imagine that Ananias speaks in disbelief of what was said or because he imagines that Christ was deceived. Far from it! Rather, afraid and trembling, he did not even pay attention to what was said, once he heard the name Paul. Moreover, the Lord did not say that he has blinded him. Fear had already taken hold of Ananias’s soul at the mention of Paul’s name. “Look,” he says, “to whom you are betraying me. ‘Indeed he came here for this very purpose,’ to arrest all who invoke your name. I fear he shall take me to Jerusalem. Why do you cast me into the mouth of the lion?” He is terrified even as he speaks these words, so that we may learn from all sides the excellence of the man. For it is not surprising that these things were said by Jews, but that these men should be so terrified shows very great proof of the power of God. Both the fear is shown and the obedience that is greater after the fear. For there was indeed need of strength.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 20)



Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who have come to know
the grace of the Lord’s Resurrection,
may, through the love of the Spirit,
ourselves rise to newness of life.
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.


The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!


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 Cross of Christ gives life to the human race

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Easter: Friday of the Third Week

An excerpt from:
A Sermon on Our Lord
Saint Ephrem
(deacon)

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strongroom and scattered all its treasure.

At length he came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognize the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

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

 

Easter: Thursday of the Third Week

“As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?”” (Acts of the Apostles 8:36)

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

“And notice again his modesty. He does not say, “Baptize me,” or keep quiet, but he utters something halfway between eagerness and reverent fear, saying, “What is to prevent me?” Do you see that he has learned the doctrines [of faith] perfectly? For the prophet indeed had the entirety: incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension, judgment to come. If he shows great eagerness, do not wonder. Be ashamed, those of you who are unbaptized! “And he commanded the chariot to stop.” He spoke and gave the order before he heard [Philip’s answer]. “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip.” This was to show that what had happened was divine, that he should not think that it was only a man.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 19)



Collect
Almighty ever-living God,
let us feel your compassion more readily
during these days when, by your gift,
we have known it more fully,
so that those you have freed
from the darkness of error
may cling more firmly
to the teachings of your truth.
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.


The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!


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 Eucharist, pledge of our resurrection

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Easter: Thursday of the Third Week

An excerpt from:
Against Heresies
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
(bishop, Father of the Church and martyr)

If our flesh is not saved, then the Lord has not redeemed us with his blood, the eucharistic chalice does not make us sharers in his blood, and the bread we break does not make us sharers in his body. There can be no blood without veins, flesh and the rest of the human substance, and this the Word of God actually became: it was with his own blood that he redeemed us. As the Apostle says: In him, through his blood, we have been redeemed, our sins have been forgiven.

We are his members and we are nourished by creatures, which is his gift to us, for it is he who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall. He declared that the chalice, which comes from his creation, was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread, which comes from his creation, was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the word of God, the eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow. How then can it be said that flesh belonging to the Lord’s own body and nourished by his body and blood is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life? Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.

The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God’s word they become the eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God’s power is shown most perfectly in weakness.

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

 

 

Easter: Wednesday of the Third Week

“Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.” (Acts of the Apostles 8:3)

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

“Great was [Saul’s] frenzy: that he was alone, that he even entered into houses; for indeed he was ready to give his life for the law. “Arresting,” it says, “men and women”: mark both the confidence, and the violence and the frenzy. All that fell into his hands, he put to all manner of ill-treatment, for in consequence of the recent murder, he had become more daring.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 18)



Collect
Be present to your family, O Lord, we pray,
and graciously ensure
those you have endowed with the grace of faith
an eternal share
in the Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!


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