— Saint Philip Neri —

Ordinary Time
Tuesday of the Eighth Week

“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, your burnt offerings are always before me.” (Psalm 50, 8)

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

“On this score the other inspired authors leveled their accusations, remember, that they had bypassed the more important element of virtue and were resting their hope of salvation in these things. Yet many are the words spoken about sacrifices, whereas the law about them was passed not because his wish was preeminently for such things but because he was showing considerateness for their limitations. God should be worshiped, after all, not with fumes and smells but with an impeccable lifestyle, not bodily but of the mind. The demons of the foreigners were not inclined this way, however; rather, they even looked for these things. A poet of the Greeks even seems to be suggesting as much in saying, “It is by the will of the gods, you see, we obtain this portion.” But our God is not like that: whereas those gods thirsted for human blood and in their desire to lead them into this bloodguiltiness constantly made such demands, our God by contrast wanted to remove them gradually even from the slaughter of brute beasts and so employed this considerateness in allowing sacrifices so as to abolish sacrifices. ” (Commentary on Psalm 50)



Collect
O God,
Who never cease to bestow the glory of holiness
on the faithful servants You raise up for Yourself,
graciously grant
that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire
with which He wonderfully filled
the heart of Saint Philip Neri.
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

 


Rejoice in the Lord always

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Ordinary Time: Tuesday of the Eighth Week

Saint Philip Neri

An excerpt from: Sermon 171
Saint Augustine
(bishop and Father of the Church)

The Apostle tells us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. Whoever wishes to be a friend of this world, says Scripture, will be reckoned an enemy of God. As a man cannot serve two masters, so one cannot rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.

Let joy in the Lord prevail, then, until joy in the world is no more. Let joy in the Lord go on increasing; let joy in the world go on decreasing until it is no more. This is said, not because we are not to rejoice while we are in this world, but in order that, even while we are still in this world, we may already rejoice in the Lord.

You may object: I am in the world; if I rejoice I certainly rejoice where I am. What is this? Do you mean that because you are in the world you are not in the Lord? Listen again to the Apostle, speaking now to the Athenians: in the Acts of the Apostles he says this is of God and the Lord our creator: In him we live and move and have our being. If he is everywhere, where is he not? Surely this was what he was exhorting us to realize. The Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.

This is a great truth, that he ascended above all the heavens, yet is near to those on earth. Who is this stranger and neighbor if not the one who became our neighbor out of compassion? The man lying on the road, left half-dead by robbers, the man treated with contempt by the priest and the levite who passed by, the man approached by the passing Samaritan to take care of him and help him, that man is the whole human race. When the immortal one, the holy one, was far removed from us because we were mortal and sinners, he came down to us, so that he, the stranger, might become our neighbor.

He did not treat us as our sins deserved. For we are now sons of God. How do we show this? The only Son of God died for us, so that he might not remain alone. He who died as the only Son did not want to remain as the only Son. For the only Son of God made many sons of God. he bought brothers for himself by his blood; he made them welcome by being rejected; he ransomed them by being sold; he honored them by being dishonored; he gave them life by being put to death.

So, brethren, rejoice in the Lord, not in the world. That is, rejoice in the truth, not in wickedness; rejoice in the hope of eternity, not in the fading flower of vanity. That is the way to rejoice. Wherever you are on earth, however long you remain on earth, the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.

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

“Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalm 32, 2)

In commenting on this verse from today’s Psalm, Cassiodorus writes:

“Although he is a sinner, he does not proclaim that he is entirely holy; sin is a sickness by which humanity is grievously afflicted, but instead he acknowledges his transgressions and constantly perseveres in humble satisfaction. For the one who is not pleasing to himself is pleasing to the Lord. For when we find the fault in ourselves, the truth is spoken, but when we desire to praise ourselves, we speak what is false.” (Explanation of the Psalms, 32)


Collect
Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of our 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. 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

 


If we have received good
from the hand of the Lord,
why should we not endure evil?

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Ordinary Time, Monday of the Eighth Week

An excerpt from:
Moral Reflections on Job (Book 3)
Saint Gregory the Great


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

 

 

Pentecost

“And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” (Acts of the Apostles 2:2)

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

“Thus Moses was the greatest of the prophets, yet he, when others were to receive the Spirit, suffered diminution himself. But here it is not so. For just as fire kindles as many lamps as it will, so here the abundance of the Spirit was shown. Each one received a spring of Spirit, just as he himself said, that those who believe in him shall have “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” And it was justly so. For they were not going forth to argue with the pharaoh but to wrestle with the devil. The wonderful thing is this: they made no objections when they were sent; they did not say they were “weak in voice and slow of speech.” For Moses had taught them better. They did not say they were too young. Jeremiah had made them wise. And yet they heard many fearful things, much worse than what was in former times, but they were afraid to object. For they were angels of light and the servants of things on high. No one from heaven appeared to people of former times, because they were in pursuit of matters on earth. But when man ascended on high, the Spirit descends from on high, “like the rush of a mighty wind.” Through this it is made clear that nothing will be able to stand against them and they will blow away all adversaries like a heap of dust.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 4)


Collect
O God,
Who by the mystery of today’s great feast
sanctify your whole Church
in every people and nation,
pour out, we pray,
the gifts of the Holy Spirit
across the face of the earth
and, with the divine grace that was at work
when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
fill now once more the hearts of believers.
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 sending of the Holy Spirit

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)
Pentecost

An excerpt from:
Against Heresies (Book 3)
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
(bishop, Father of the Church and martyr)

When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ. Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for 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

 

 

Easter: Saturday of the Seventh Week

“... and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts of the Apostles 28:31)

In commenting on this verse from today’s First Reading, Eusebius of Caesarea writes:

“And Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, brought his history to a close at this point, after stating that Paul spent two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large and preached the word of God without restraint. Thus after he had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom. In this imprisonment [Paul] wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death. But hear his testimony on these matters.

“At my first answer,” he says, “no one stood with me, but all forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, that by me the preaching might be fully known and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” He plainly indicates in these words that on the former occasion, in order that the preaching might be fulfilled by him, he was rescued from the mouth of the lion, referring, in this expression, to Nero, as is probable on account of the latter’s cruelty. He did not therefore afterward add the similar statement, “He will rescue me from the mouth of the lion”; for he saw in the Spirit that his end would not be long delayed. Wherefore he adds to the words “and he delivered me from the mouth of the lion” this sentence, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom,” indicating his speedy martyrdom; which he also foretells still more clearly in the same epistle, when he writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

In his Second Epistle to Timothy, moreover, he indicates that Luke was with him when he wrote that at his first defense not even Luke was there. So it is probable that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles at that time, continuing his history down to the period when he was with Paul. But these things have been adduced by us to show that Paul’s martyrdom did not take place at the time of that Roman sojourn that Luke records. It is probable indeed that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, Paul’s defense of his doctrine was more easily received; but that when he [Nero] had advanced to the commission of lawless deeds of daring, he made the apostles as well as others the subjects of his attacks.” (Ecclesiastical History, 2)



Collect
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who have celebrated
the paschal festivities,
may by your gift hold fast to them
in the way that we live our lives.
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 Church in its unity
speaks in the language of every nation

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

An excerpt from:
Sermon 8
Anonymous African Ancient Christian Writer
(sixth century)

The disciples spoke in the language of every nation. At Pentecost God chose this means to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit: whoever had received the Spirit spoke in every kind of tongue. We must realize, dear brothers, that this is the same Holy Spirit by whom love is poured out in our hearts. It was love that was to bring the Church of God together all over the world. And as individual men who received the Holy Spirit in those days could speak in all kinds of tongues, so today the Church, united by the Holy Spirit, speaks in the language of every people.

Therefore if somebody should say to one of us, “You have received the Holy Spirit, why do you not speak in tongues?” his reply should be, “I do indeed speak in the tongues of all men, because I belong to the body of Christ, that is, the Church, and she speaks all languages. What else did the presence of the Holy Spirit indicate at Pentecost, except that God’s Church was to speak in the language of every people?”

This was the way in which the Lord’s promise was fulfilled: No one puts new wine into old wineskins. New wine is put into fresh skins, and so both are preserved. So when the disciples were heard speaking in all kinds of languages, some people were not far wrong in saying: They have been drinking too much new wine. The truth is that the disciples had now become fresh wineskins, renewed and made holy by grace. The new wine of the Holy Spirit filled them, so that their fervor brimmed over and they spoke in manifold tongues. By this spectacular miracle they became a sign of the Catholic Church, which embraces the language of every nation.

Keep this feast, then, as members of the one body of Christ. It will be no empty festival for you if you really live what you are celebrating. For you are the members of that Church which the Lord acknowledges as his own, being himself acknowledged by her, that same Church which he fills with the Holy Spirit as she spreads throughout the world. He is like a bridegroom who never loses sight of his own bride; no one could ever deceive him by substituting some other woman.

To you men of all nations, then, who make up the Church of Christ, you, the members of Christ, you, the body of Christ, you, the bride of Christ, to all of you the Apostle addresses these words: Bear with one another in love; do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Notice that when Paul urges us to bear with one another, he bases his argument on love, and when he speaks of our hope of unity, he emphasizes the bond of peace. This Church is the house of God. It is his delight to dwell here. Take care, then, that he never has the sorrow of seeing it undermined by schism and collapsing in ruins.

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 Seventh Week

“Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix.”” (Acts of the Apostles 25:14)

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

“See [Paul’s] enemies who unwittingly conspired in creating a large audience. Even Agrippa himself falls into a desire for a hearing — and not only does he listen, but he does so with intensity. And then, look at [his] defense. As Festus presents it, he exposes the cruelty of the Jewish leaders. Because when the governor says these things, he is beyond suspicion, resulting in the Jewish leaders being convicted by him. For, after he has exposed the truth about all these things, then God metes out punishment. Felix condemns them, Festus condemns them and, even though he was favorably inclined, Agrippa condemns them too.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 51)


Collect
O God, who by the glorification of your Christ
and the light of the Holy Spirit
have unlocked for us the gates of eternity,
grant, we pray,
that, partaking of so great a gift,
our devotion may grow deeper
and our faith be strengthened.
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 Father’s gift in Christ

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

An excerpt from:
On the Trinity
Saint Hilary of Poitiers
(bishop and Father of the Church)

Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.

From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

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