Voices ever ancient, ever new. Saint Monica 2013.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)

In commenting on this verse from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew from today’s Mass Readings, Origen of Alexandria writes:

“This passage teaches us that we should hasten to be righteous, not merely to appear so. Whoever strives only to appear righteous will cleanse his exterior and will take great care of what can be seen by others but will neglect his heart and his conscience. He fails to realize that the one who is eager to purify his interior life and his thoughts will also naturally want to give a healthy outward appearance as well. Whoever works hard on the externals but neglects his interior life, however, will inevitably be filled with avarice, lust, malice, and many other kinds of evil. For the one who is solicitous of his own interior salvation also takes care of his external, public reputation. But not everyone who cares first about his public reputation is also solicitous of his interior salvation. In this connection, it is written that “whoever sees a woman and lusts after her has committed adultery with her in his heart.” He who refrains from acts of fornication, therefore, but commits fornication by lusting in his heart is like the one who cleanses the outside of the cup and plate while the inside is left full of intemperance. Whoever performs acts of mercy for the purpose of earning human respect, doing his good deeds “to be seen by men,” also seems to cleanse only the exterior of the cup and plate but is full of intemperance and lust for vainglory within.” (Commentary on Matthew, 21)

Today is the Memorial of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In this excerpt from Saint Augustine’s work Confessions, he writes of his mother's death.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Saint Monica during the Angelus on 30 August 2009.

O God,
Who console the sorrowful and
Who mercifully accepted the motherly tears of
Saint Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine,
grant us, through the intercession of them both,
that we may bitterly regret our sins and
find the grace of your pardon.
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.