ORDINARY TIME


Week 8: Tuesday


“Concerning this salvation, prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and investigated it... ” (1 Peter 1:10.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Didymus the Blind writes:

“ome say that the promises and the salvation of the saints who lived before the coming of the Savior was inferior to those given to people who came afterwards and who saw Jesus in the flesh, who heard his teaching and beheld the miracles he did in his body. We must however show that this opinion is false. Christ comes in two ways. One is through the intellect, by which God is received as a divine Word. The other is through the senses, by which he appears as a historical person coming out of the womb of Mary. But the first way is more purely divine than the second, which was made necessary by the sinful behavior of mankind. For God comes to all the saints through the intellect and by his word, whether they lived before or after the coming of Christ, sanctifying each one according to his deeds. Those who lived before the coming of Christ were less informed, not because of their wickedness but because of God’s dispensation of time. Therefore it is said that the prophets examined how and at what time the salvation of their souls would be fulfilled by the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glory. They preached these things, knowing that they were not going to be revealed directly to them but would appear at some future time. Therefore it is wrong to say that their sanctification was somehow inferior to ours. (Commentary on 1 Peter.)


Collect
Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of the world
may be directed by your peaceful rule
and that your Church may rejoice,
untroubled in her devotion.
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

 






Whoever I may be, Lord,
I lie exposed to your scrutiny


(Bishop and Great Western Father of the Church)

An excerpt from a The Confessions, 

Ordinary Time Week 8: Tuesday

Lord, you know me. Let me know you. Let me come to know you even as I am known. You are the strength of my soul; enter it and make it a place suitable for your dwelling, a possession without spot or blemish. This is my hope and the reason I speak. In this hope I rejoice, when I rejoice rightly. As for the other things of this life, the less they deserve tears, the more likely will they be lamented; and the more they deserve tears, the less likely will men sorrow for them. For behold, you have loved the truth, because the one who does what is true enters into the light. I wish to do this truth before you alone by praising you, and before a multitude of witnesses by writing of you.

O Lord, the depths of a man’s conscience lie exposed before your eyes. Could anything remain hidden in me, even though I did not want to confess it to you? In that case I would only be hiding you from myself, not myself from you. But now my sighs are sufficient evidence that I am displeased with myself; that you are my light and the source of my joy; that you are loved and desired. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself; I have renounced myself and chosen you, recognizing that I can please neither you nor myself unless you enable me to do so.

Whoever I may be, Lord, I lie exposed to your scrutiny. I have already told of the profit I gain when I confess to you. And I do not make my confession with bodily words, bodily speech, but with the words of my soul and the cry of my mind which you hear and understand. When I am wicked, my confession to you is an expression of displeasure with myself. But when I do good, it consists in not attributing this goodness to myself. For you, O Lord, bless the just man, but first you justify the wicked. And so I make my confession before you in silence, and yet not in silence. My voice is silent but my heart cries out.

You, O Lord, are my judge. For though no one knows a man’s innermost self except the man’s own spirit within him, yet there is something in a man which even his own spirit does not know. But you know all of him, for you have made him. As for me, I despise myself in your sight, knowing that I am but dust and ashes; yet I know something of you that I do not know of myself.

True, we see now indistinctly as in a mirror, but not yet face to face. Therefore, so long as I am in exile from you, I am more present to myself than to you. Yet I do know that you cannot be overcome, while I am uncertain which temptations I can resist and which I cannot. Nevertheless, I have hope, because you are faithful and do not allow us to be tempted beyond our endurance, but along with the temptation you give us the means to withstand it.

I will confess, therefore, what I know of myself, and also what I do not know. The knowledge that I have of myself, I possess because you have enlightened me; while the knowledge of myself that I do not yet possess will not be mine until my darkness shall be made as the noonday sun before your face.

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

 






ORDINARY TIME


Week 8: Monday


“... to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you ...” (1 Peter 1:4.)

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

For God foresaw that the faith and behavior of people would be put right by the teaching of the gospel, and so he chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, predestinating them to be his children by partaking of the Spirit of sonship. For foreknowledge means no more than seeing what is inside a person. It is now no longer foreknowledge in effect but knowledge of something real which has been foreseen. Those to whom Peter is writing were chosen according to foreknowledge, but the calling does not come to people who are hidden from view, for their innate awareness removes any doubt about their true nature.” (Catena)


Collect
Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of the world
may be directed by your peaceful rule
and that your Church may rejoice,
untroubled in her devotion.
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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If we have received good
from the hand of the Lord,
why should we not endure evil?


(Bishop of Rome and Great Western Father of the Church)

An excerpt from Moral Reflections on Job, Book 3.

ORDINARY TIME, Week 8: Monday

When Paul perceived within himself the riches of internal wisdom, yet saw the corruptibility of his own body, he was led to say: We have this treasure in earthen vessels. Now in the blessed Job the earthen vessel felt the gaping sores without, while this treasure of wisdom remained whole and intact within. For outwardly his body was in agony, but inwardly from the treasure of wisdom came forth holy thoughts: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil? The good here refers either to the temporal or to the eternal gifts of God, and the evil to the scourges of the present time, about which the Lord says through the prophet: I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create the darkness. I make peace and create evil.

I form the light and create the darkness, for though outwardly these scourges create the darkness of anguish, inwardly knowledge enkindles the light in the mind. I make peace and create evil, for peace with God is restored to us when those things which were rightly created for us, but are not ordinarily desired, are turned into scourges and become evil for us. It is through sin that we become opposed to God; therefore, it is fitting that we should return to his peace by way of scourges. In this manner, when everything created for good is turned into a source of pain for us, the mind of the chastened man may be humbly renewed and restored to peace with his Creator.

We ought particularly to observe in Job’s words how skillfully he meets his wife’s persuading: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil? It is a great comfort in tribulation if, in times of adversity, we recall the gifts our Creator has given us. Nor will overwhelming sorrow break us, if we quickly call to mind the gifts which have sustained us. For it is written: On the day of prosperity do not forget affliction, and on the day of affliction do not forget prosperity. For if a man receives God’s gifts, but forgets his affliction, he can fall through his own excessive joy. On the other hand, when a man is bruised by scourges, but is not at all consoled by the thought of the blessings he has been fortunate to receive, he is completely cast down.

Thus both attitudes must be united so that one may be supported by the other: the memory of the gift can temper the pain of the affliction, and the foreboding and fear of the affliction can modify the joy of the gift. And so the holy Job, to soothe his soul’s depression in the midst of his wound, weighs the delightful gifts he has received even while he suffers from the scourges, saying: If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why should we not endure evil?


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

 





ORDINARY TIME


— The Lord’s Day —


MOST HOLY TRINITY


Pondering the
Father’s victorious Word: Jesus


εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

“Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”


θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

What happens when you hear the phrase, ‘the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’? Is there a particular word that captures your mind? Many of the undergraduate students that I have in class often get hung up on the word mystery. Many have heard from childhood that the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery and therefore one will never completely understand the reality. The more practical students in the class then say, “so we won’t be studying this and it certainly won’t be on the test! Correct?” “Not so fast,” I caution because the Divine Community of love and life, the singular Divine Unity of three distinct, divine Persons is the very grounding of all reality, all life and all love.

Andrei Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity in Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Part of the ‘problem’ lies, not in the word mystery itself, but how the word is grasped in Western culture. Mystery was used in the Eastern world to describe a particular way of living. In the Hellenistic world of antiquity, one was ‘initiated into the mysteries.’ Once one’s life began ‘in the mysteries,’ one’s life was different. Mystery in this original Greek context was not primarily focused on the unknowable, but on living what was known of the particular reality that now captivated one’s life. In other words, mystery was a word used to describe a very active and particular way of living life. Sure there were aspects of this living that were unknown, unclear and uncertain. The person living the mysteries knew however that deeper insights and the occasional resolution of the unknown, unclear and uncertain came only by living deeply that which is known.

Consider though how mystery is popularly understood in the West. Mystery is practically synonymous first and foremost with ‘unknowable’ or ‘can't be figured out.’ Further complications arise when these (and others) descriptions of mystery hit the pragmatic and utilitarian approach of Western culture: ‘why bother,’ why waste time trying to figure out the unfirgurable,’ etc. I'll simply take ‘it’ on faith and believe, even though I may have absolutely no idea of what I am saying.

Along with ‘taking the Holy Trinity on faith,’ Christians often try to engage theological algebra: how can 3 be 1, how can 1 be 3? We attempt an explanation with Saint Patrick's shamrock (1 leaf with 3 petals), or water (ice, liquid, steam) or a candle (wax, wick, flame). Early Christianity had its struggles with articulating an acceptable expression of the Incomprehensible. In fourth-century Constantinople, Saint Gregory of Nyssa quipped, “The whole city is full of it, the squares, the marketplaces, the crossroads, the alleyways; rag dealers, money-changers, food-sellers, they are all busy arguing. If you ask someone to give you change, he philosophizes about the Begotten and the Unbegotten; if you inquire about the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Father is greater and the Son inferior; if you ask, “Is my bath ready?” the attendant answers that the Son was made out of nothing.”

Far from an abstract, heading teaching, the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is an invitation to live life in a particular way, a way that always leads to an intensification of live and love. Saint Gregory of Nyssa in the Life of Moses summed it up this way: “May life thunder loud and pure in the proclamation of the Most Holy Trinity and may life imitate the fruit of the pomegranate!”


PREFACE

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvations,
always and everywhere to give You thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For with Your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
You are One God, One Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.

For what You have revealed to us of Your glory
we believe equally of Your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
You might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance, and their equality in majesty.

For this is praised by Angels and Archangels,
Cherubim, too, and Seraphim,
who never cease to cry out each day,
as with one voice they acclaim:







SOLEMNITY


MOST HOLY TRINITY


“The LORD begot me, the beginning of his works, the forerunner of his deeds of long ago ...” (Proverbs 8:22.)

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

First we must know this, that in Christ there is one nature, his deity, because he is the onlybegotten Son of the Father, and another human nature, which in very recent times he took upon him to fulfill the divine purpose. He is called “wisdom,” as Solomon said. He is also called “firstborn,” as the apostle Paul says: “who is the firstborn of all creation.” The firstborn is not, however, by nature a different being from wisdom but is one and the same. Finally, the apostle Paul says, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

If he is an “image of the invisible God,” he is an invisible image, and I would dare to add that as he is a likeness of the Father there is no time when he did not exist. Let the man who dares to say “There was a time when the Son was not” understand that this is what he will be saying: “Once wisdom did not exist, and word did not exist, and life did not exist.” (On First Principles)


Reflection on this Sunday’s Solemnity noting the word mystery.


Collect
God our Father, Who by sending into the world
the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race Your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore Your Unity, powerful in majesty.
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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Light, radiance and grace are in
the Trinity and from the Trinity


(Bishop and Father of the Church)

An excerpt from First Letter to Serapion

SOLEMNITY: Most Holy Trinity

It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.


Reflection on this Sunday’s Solemnity noting the word mystery.


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

 






ORDINARY TIME


Week 7: Saturday


“... he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20.)

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

“And how do you go about converting someone? It is like the seeds sown by farmers. They are sown once, but they do not survive forever unless they are carefully nurtured. And unless the tillers of the soil protect the seeds, they will be exposed to the birds and to every seedeating creature. We are just like this, unless we protect what has been sown in us by constant care, for the devil will snatch it away and our own lethargy will destroy it. The sun dries it up, the rain drowns it, and weeds choke it, so that it is not enough for the sower to pass by once only. Rather he must tend it often, driving away the birds of the air, pulling up the weeds and filling up the rocky places with much soil. He must prevent, block off and eject any form of destruction. Where soil is concerned, everything depends on the farmer, for without him it remains lifeless, ready only to suffer harm. It is not like that with spiritual soil however. For in spiritual matters it is not all up to the teachers; at least half the effort must come from the pupils. It is up to us the teachers to sow the seed but up to you the pupils to do the rest.” (Catena)


Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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

 






Approach the Lord and receive His Light


(Bishop)

An excerpt from Commentary on Ecclesiastes

Ordinary Time, Week 7: Saturday

In the words of Ecclesiastes: Light itself is delightful, and it is a great boon for the eye to have sight of the sun. Devoid of light, the world would be without beauty and life would be lifeless. That was why Moses, who saw God, said in anticipation: And God saw the light and said that it was good. To reflect on the true and eternal light is even more fitting for us. This light is Christ who enlightens every man who comes into the world, the savior and redeemer of the world. He is the one who became man and sank to the very depths of the human condition. As David said: Sing to God a hymn to his name, make a highway for him who rises to the west. His name is the Lord, rejoice before him!

This light he called delightful and foretold that it would be good to see the sun of glory. In the days of his incarnation, he said: I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but will possess the light of life. On another occasion he said: This is the judgment: the light has come into the world.

Sunlight, then, is a symbol. What we see with our eyes foretells the coming of the Sun of Justice. He was a most delightful light for those who were worthy to be instructed by him personally. He was also a radiance to those who saw him with their bodily eyes when he lived on earth as a man among men. It was not just any man they saw, for he was true God. He made the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear. He cleansed the lepers, and by a simple command he raised the dead back to life.

Now it is our supreme delight to behold him and contemplate his divine splendor with the eyes of our spirit. When we participate in and associate with that beauty, we are enlightened and adorned and this is our delight. We take delight in being saturated with the sweetness of the Spirit, in being clothed in holiness, in achieving wisdom. Finally we are filled with a joy that comes from God and endures through all the days of our earthly life. In the wise words of Ecclesiastes: A man may live for many years, but he will experience happiness throughout his days. For all who gaze upon the Sun of Justice, he is their supreme delight. David spoke of them: Let them be joyful before God and be jubilant with joy. Indeed he even said: Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, for praise befits those who are upright.

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

 






ORDINARY TIME


Week 7: Friday


“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,” that you may not incur condemnation.” (James 5:12.)

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

“Let the witness of our life be stronger than an oath, and if some shameless person dares to ask an oath from you, let your yes be yes and your no be no, instead of swearing an oath. James forbids us to swear by heaven or by earth for this reason, that we should not give the creation more value than it has by deifying it. For those who swear, swear by something greater than themselves, as the apostle says.” (Catena)



Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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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