Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary



“... The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (Matthew 22:2.)

Saint Gregory the Great comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

“First we must ask whether this lesson in Matthew is what Luke describes as a dinner, since some details appear inconsistent.1 Here it is a midday meal, there a dinner; here the one who came to the marriage feast improperly dressed was cast out, and there none of those said to have entered is shown to have been cast out. From Matthew we can infer that in this passage the marriage feast represents the church of the present time, and the dinner in Luke represents the final and eternal banquet. Some who enter the one will leave it, but no one who has once entered the other will later go out. But if anyone argues that it is the same lesson, I think it better to save the faith and yield to another’s interpretation than to give in to strife. Perhaps we can reasonably take it that Luke kept silent about the man Matthew said came without a marriage garment and was thrown out. That one called it a dinner and the other a midday meal does not stand in the way of my interpretation, because when the ancients took their daily midday meal at the ninth hour it was also called a dinner.

A clearer and safer thing to say is that the Father made a marriage feast for his Son by joining the church to him through the mystery of his incarnation. The womb of the Virgin who bore him was the bridal chamber of this bridegroom, and so the psalmist says, “He has set his tent in the sun, and he is like a bridegroom coming forth from his bridal chamber.”2 He truly came forth like a bridegroom from his bridal chamber who, as God incarnate, left the inviolate womb of the Virgin to unite the church to himself.

And so he sent his servants to invite his friends to the marriage feast. He sent once, and he sent again, because first he made the prophets and later the apostles preachers of the Lord’s incarnation. He sent his servants twice with the invitation, because he said through the prophets that his only Son’s incarnation would come about, and he proclaimed through the apostles that it had.
Because those who were first invited to the marriage banquet refused to come, he said in his second invitation, “See, I have prepared my meal; my oxen and fattened animals have been slain, and everything is ready.” What do we take the oxen and fattened animals to be but the fathers of the Old and New Testaments?” (Forty Gospel Homilies, 38.)




Collect
O God,
Who made the Mother of your Son
to be our Mother and our Queen,
graciously grant that,
sustained by her intercession,
we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom
the glory promised to your children.
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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Queen of the world and of peace



Bishop

An excerpt from a Sermon

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honor due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.

So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbors with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.

Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?

She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channelled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings. amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir.


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 of Saint Pius X, Pope



“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.”” (John 21:17.)

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

“Here is a type given to the churches in that they ought to ask for a threefold confession of Christ from those who have chosen to love him by coming to him in holy baptism. And, by dwelling on this passage, instructors in religion may arrive at the knowledge that they cannot please the chief shepherd, that is, Christ, unless they take thought for the health of the sheep of his fold and their continual well-being. Surely it is true to say that they are doing the Lord himself service who take, as it were, by the hand the mind of those who have been admitted to the faith and who are expected to be called to maturity in this faith. They are, in fact, eager to establish them firmly in the faith by every help that they can offer. Therefore, by his thrice repeated confession the thrice-repeated denial of the blessed Peter was done away with. And, by the saying of our Lord, “Feed my lambs,” we must understand a renewal as it were of the apostleship already given to him, washing away the disgrace of his fall that came in the intervening period and obliterating his faintheartedness that arose from human infirmity.” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, 12.)



Collect
O God,
Who to safeguard the Catholic faith
and to restore all things in Christ,
filled Pope Saint Pius the Tenth
with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude,
graciously grant
that, following his teaching and example,
we may gain an eternal prize.
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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The song of the Church



Bishop of Rome

An excerpt from his Apostolic Constitution, Divino afflatu

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.


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 of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church



“Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world ...” (John 17:24.)

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

”The Lord himself, in the Gospel, not only declares that these same results will occur in the future but that they are to be brought about by his own intercession when he himself decides to obtain them from the Father for his disciples, saying, “Father, I will that where I am, they also may be with me. And as you and I are one, may they also be one in us.” In this, the divine likeness itself already appears to advance (if we may so express it) from being merely similar to becoming the same, because, undoubtedly, in the consummation, or the end, God is “all and in all.”

I am of the opinion that the expression by which God is said to be “all in all” means that he is “all” in each individual person. Now he will be “all” in each individual when all those with any rational understanding — cleansed from the dregs of every sort of vice and with every cloud of wickedness completely swept away — either feel, understand or think in terms wholly divine. He will be “all” in each person when that person’s understanding will no longer behold or retain anything else other than God, but God alone will be the measure and standard of all his or her movements. This is when God will be “all,” for there will no longer be any distinction of good and evil, since evil will no longer exist. For God is, then, all things, and no evil can be present where he is. Nor will there be a desire any longer to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil on the part of one who is always in the possession of good and to whom God is everything.” (On First Principles, 3)





Collect
O God,
Who made of the abbot Saint Bernard
a man consumed with zeal for Your house and
a light shining and burning in Your Church,
grant, through his intercession,
that we may be on fire
with the same Spirit and
walk always as children of light.
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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I love because I love, I love that I may love



Abbot and Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from Sermon 83

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

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 the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time



“... the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They served the Baals ...” (Judges 2:11.)

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

“It was the ancients who did this, of course, but because what was written is said to be “written for our sake, to whom the end of the ages has arrived,” not on their account, we should watch lest these sayings are seen to be true of more of us than of them. Do you want to see that such things are applied to us through the apostle, rather than through me? Listen for yourself to what he said: “What does Scripture say about how Elijah interceded with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they killed your prophets, they destroyed your altars, and I am left alone and they seek my soul.’ But what was the divine response? ‘I preserved for myself seven thousand men who did not bend the knee to Baal,’” then the apostle adds “‘thus, in this time also a remnant chosen by grace is saved.’” You can see, therefore, that those who “bent the knee to Baal” and those who “did not bend the knee” are understood by the apostle as the multitude of unbelievers and the remnant of believers, respectively. This demonstrates, then, that those who lived in unbelief and impiety at the time of the Savior also “bent the knee to Baal” and worshiped idols, whereas those who believed and fulfilled the works of faith “did not bend the knee to Baal.” It is never mentioned in the historical books or in the Gospels or in any other book of Scripture that some at the time of the Savior did in fact bend the knee to idols, but such an act is indeed attributed to those persons who were bound by their sins, as though held by fetters. Whenever we sin and “are taken captive to the law of sin,” therefore, we “bend our knees to Baal.” But we are not called to this, nor do we believe in this, such that we would again become servants of sin and again “bend the knee” to the devil. Instead, our calling and the purpose of our faith is both to bend the knee at the name of Jesus, for “at the name of Jesus, every knee bends in heaven and on earth and in hell,” and to bend the knee to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Homilies on Judges, 2.)




Collect
O God,
Who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
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

 


Struggles without, fears within



Bishop of Rome and Great Western Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Moral Reflections on Job

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Holy men beset by tribulation must endure the assaults of those who use violence and verbal attacks. The former they resist with the shield of patience, but against the latter they launch the sharp arrows of true doctrine. In both types of fighting they win the day through the wonderful arts that virtue bestows, for within wisdom they teach the wayward while showing a courageous contempt for outward hostility; the straying sheep they set on the right path by their teaching; the attacker they suffer and overcome. For they have nothing but patient scorn for the enemy who moves against them, but they sympathize with their weaker fellows and bring them back to the safe way, opposing the former lest they lead others astray and fearing for the latter lest they completely lose sight of the truly upright life.

Let us see how a soldier in God’s camp fights against both types of enemy. Paul says: Struggles without, fears within. He lists the attacks he must endure from without: Dangers from floods, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the pagans, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers on the seas, dangers from false brothers. He also tells us what weapons he uses against his enemies in this war: Toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, frequent fasts, cold and nakedness.

When beset by so many struggles, he guards the camp, he tells us, with great watchfulness. Immediately he adds: Besides these outward difficulties there is that daily weight upon me: my anxiety for all the churches. Thus he himself fights courageously and devotes himself compassionately to protecting his neighbors. He tells us of the evils he endures but also of the blessings he brings to others.

Let us reflect, then, on how difficult it is simultaneously to endure attacks from without and to protect the weak from within. He endures the attacks without, inasmuch as he suffers flogging and chains; inwardly he experiences fear, since he is afraid that his sufferings may be a stumbling-block not to himself but to his disciples. For this reason he writes to them: Let no one be shaken by these trials, for you know that they are our lot. Amid his own sufferings it was the fall of others he feared, lest the disciples, seeing him flogged for the faith, might refuse to acknowledge their own faith.

What an immensely loving heart! He thinks nothing of what he himself suffers and is concerned only that the disciples may be led astray interiorly. He scorns his own bodily wounds and brings healing to the inner wounds of others. It is characteristic of holy men that their own painful trials do not make them lose their concern for the well-being of others. They are grieved by the adversity they must endure, yet they look out for others and teach them needed lessons; they are like gifted physicians who are themselves stricken and lie ill. They suffer wounds themselves but bring others the medicine that restores health.



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

 





Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time



“From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three ...” (Luke 12:52.)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Even according to the letter, a religious explanation is not lacking for those with a devout understanding. We think a deeper meaning should also be explained. He added, “There will be from now on five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.” Who are these five, when the exposition given seems to be of six persons, father and son, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law? The same woman can be understood as both mother and mother-in-law, because she who is the mother of the son is the mother-in-law of his wife. According to the letter, the reason for the number is not absurd. It is evident that bonds of nature do not bind faith, because children are obedient in faith because of the duty of piety.

It also seems suitable to explain this meaning with a mystical interpretation. One man is one house, because each is the house of either God or the devil. A spiritual man is a spiritual house, as we have in the epistle of Peter, “Be also as living stories built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.” In this house, two are divided against three and three against two.” (Exposition on the Gospel of Luke, 7.)



Collect
O God,
Who have prepared for those who love You
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray,
with the warmth of Your love,
so that,
loving You in all things and above all things,
we may attain Your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
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





Salt of the earth and light of the world



Bishop and Great Eastern Father of the Church

An excerpt from his Homily on Matthew

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you into two cities only or ten or twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savor and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.

Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labor to keep that corruption from returning.

Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.

If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavor be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.

When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, they may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says; “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”

Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.

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