Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time



“But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33.)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed during today’s Mass:

“At first he makes it abundantly clear that these things are not to be sought as if they were for us the kind of blessings for the sake of which we ought to make all our actions good actions but that they are necessities nevertheless. Then Jesus says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” In this sentence he clearly shows the difference between a good that ought to be sought as an end and a value that ought to be seen as a means. Our final good is therefore the kingdom of God and his justice. We ought to seek this good and fix our aim upon it. Let us perform all our actions for the sake of it. Yet, since we are waging war in this life in order to be able to reach that kingdom and since this life cannot be maintained unless those necessities are supplied, he says, “These things shall be given you besides, but seek you first the kingdom of God and his justice.” (Sermon on the Mount, 2.)




Collect
O God,
strength of those who hope in You,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without You
mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of Your grace
that in following Your commands
we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.
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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Prayer should be expressed in deeds as well as words



Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Dear friends, why does the fact that God has taught us such a prayer as this astonish us? Did he not express all of our prayers in his own words of life? Indeed this was already foretold by Isaiah. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke of the majesty and fidelity of God: The Lord will speak a final brief word of justice, a word throughout the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ came for all mankind. He gathered together male and female, the learned and the unlearned, the old and the young and taught them his saving doctrine. He did not want his disciples to be burdened by memorizing his teaching; he made a complete summary of his commands such as was necessary for a trusting faith, and could be quickly learned.

Thus he summarized his teaching on the mystery of eternal life and its meaning with an admirable, divine brevity: And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. Again, in quoting the first and the greatest precept of the law and the prophets, he spoke in the same way: Listen, Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depends all that is contained in the law and the prophets. On another occasion the Lord said: Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the meaning of the law and the prophets.

God taught us to pray not only by his words, but also by his actions. He taught us by his own example for he often prayed on our behalf. The Scripture says: He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. And again: He went into the hills to pray and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.

Was the sinless Lord praying for himself? No, he was praying and interceding on our behalf. He explained this to Peter: Behold Satan demanded that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Later on he prayed to the Father for everyone: I am not praying for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their preaching, that they may be one; just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us. God loves us; for the sake of our salvation he is generous toward us. He is not satisfied with redeeming us by his blood. He also prays to the Father on our behalf. Consider the love exemplified in that prayer. The Father and Son are one; we too are to abide in that oneness.



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

 






Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time



“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light ...” (Matthew 6:22.)

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

“If your eyes were completely blind, would you choose to wear gold and silk? Wouldn’t you consider your sound health to be more desirable than mere externals? For if you should lose your health or waste it, all the rest of your life would be unhappily affected. For just as when the eyes are blinded, some of the ability of the other members is diminished, their light being quenched, so also when the mind is depraved, your life will be filled with countless evils. As therefore in the body it is our aim to keep the eye sound, so also it should be our aim to keep the mind sound in relation to the soul. But if we destroy this, which ought to give light to the rest, by what means are we to see clearly any more? For as he who destroys the spring may also dry up the river, so he who has quenched the understanding may have confounded all his actions in this life. So it is said, “If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is the darkness?” For when the pilot is drowned, when the candle is put out, when the general is taken prisoner, what sort of hope will remain for those that are under his command?” (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily, 20.)



Collect
O God,
strength of those who hope in You,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without You
mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of Your grace,
that in following Your commands
we may please You by our resolve and our deeds.
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

 






We are God’s children; let us abide in his peace



Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Christ clearly laid down an additional rule to bind us by a certain contractual condition: we ask that our debts be forgiven insofar as we forgive our own debtors. Thus we are made aware that we cannot obtain what we ask regarding our own trespasses unless we do the same for those who trespass against us. This is why he says elsewhere: The measure you give will be the measure you get. And the servant who, after his master forgives all his debt, refuses to forgive his fellow servant is thrown into prison. Because he refused to be kind to his fellow servant, he lost the favor his master had given him.

Along with his other precepts Christ lays this down even more forcefully with a most vigorous condemnation. He says: When you stand up to pray, if you have anything against anyone, let it go, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. You will have no excuse on the day of judgment, for then you will be judged just as you have judged, and you will suffer whatever you have done to others.

God bids us to be peace-loving, harmonious and of one mind in his house; he wants us to live with the new life he gave us at our second birth. As sons of God, we are to abide in peace; as we have one Spirit, we should be one in mind and heart. Thus God does not receive the sacrifice of one who lives in conflict, and he orders us to turn back from the altar and be first reconciled with our brother, that God too may be appeased by the prayers of one who is at peace. The greatest offering we can make to God is our peace, harmony among fellow Christians, a people united with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When Cain and Abel first offered their sacrifices, God considered not so much the gifts as the spirit of the giver: God was pleased with Abel’s offering because he was pleased with his spirit. Thus Abel the just man, the peacemaker, in his blameless sacrifice taught men that when they offer their gift at the altar they should approach as he did, in the fear of God, simplicity of heart, ruled by justice and peaceful harmony. Since this was the character of Abel’s offering, it was only right that he himself should afterward become a sacrifice. As martyrdom’s first witness and possessing the Lord’s qualities of justice and peace, he foreshadowed the Lord’s passion in the glory of his own death. Such, then, are the men who are crowned by the Lord and will be justified with him on the day of judgment.

But Saint Paul and the sacred Scriptures tell us that the quarrelsome man and the troublemaker, who is never at peace with his brothers, cannot escape the charge of internal dissension even though he may die for Christ’s name. For it is written: He who hates his brother is a murderer, nor can he attain the kingdom of heaven. God cannot abide a murderer. He cannot be united with Christ, who has preferred to imitate Judas rather than Christ.



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 Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious



“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7.)

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

“By the example of the importunate widow who prevailed with the pitiless and cruel ruler by persevering in her requests, we are shown how to pray. We hear the insistent voice of the friend who came late at night and roused the sleeper from his bed, not for friendship’s sake but out of his urgent need. By these examples Jesus called us continually to make earnest supplication to the Father. He did not ask us to compose a prayer of ten thousand phrases and so come to him and merely repeat it. He warned against those who “think that they shall be heard for their loquacity.” “For your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” But if he already knows what we need, why do we pray? Not to inform God or instruct him but to beseech him closely, to be made intimate with him, by continuance in supplication; to be humbled; to be reminded of our sins.” (The Gospel of Matthew Homily, 19.)



Collect
O God,
giver of heavenly gifts,
who in Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
joined penitence
to a wonderful innocence of life,
grant, through his merits and intercession,
that, though we have failed
to follow him in innocence,
we may imitate him in penitence
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

 






God’s mercies shall be my song for ever



Religious

An excerpt from A Letter to His Mother

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honored lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad, then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

The divine goodness, most honored lady, is a fathomless and shoreless ocean, and I confess that when I plunge my mind into thought of this it is carried away by the immensity and feels quite lost and bewildered there. In return for my short and feeble labors, God is calling me to eternal rest; his voice from heaven invites me to the infinite bliss I have sought so languidly, and promises me this reward for the tears I have so seldom shed.

Take care above all things, most honored lady, not to insult God’s boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Savior; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness. When he takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.

I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favor and that you especially may speed with a mother’s blessing my passage across the waters till I reach the shore to which all hopes belong. I write the more willingly because I have no clearer way of expressing the love and respect I owe you as your son.


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

 

 






Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time



“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:17-18)

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

”Vainglory can find a place not only in the splendor and pomp of worldly wealth but even in the sordid garment of sackcloth as well. It is then all the more dangerous because it is a deception under the pretense of service to God. When one dazzles by immoderate adornment of the body and its raiment or by the splendor of whatever else one may possess, by that very fact one is easily shown to desire ostentatious display. This person deceives nobody by a crafty semblance of holiness. But if, through extraordinary squalor and shabbiness, one is attracting others’ attention to one’s manner of professing Christianity, and if one is doing this of choice and not merely enduring it through necessity, then one may determine by one’s other works whether one is doing it through an indifference toward needless adornment or through ambition of some kind. Indeed, the Lord has forewarned us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing: “By their fruits you shall know them.” Trials of one kind or another that cause these people to lose the very advantages they have gained through their dress or claimed to deny what they sought to gain by it will inevitably reveal whether it is a case of a wolf under a sheep’s skin or a sheep under its own. But just as sheep ought not to change their skin even though wolves sometimes hide themselves beneath it, so a Christian ought not try to delight the eyes of others by needless adornment just because pretenders very often assume that scanty garb which necessity demands and assume it for the purpose of deceiving those who are less aware.” (Sermon on the Mount, 2)



Collect
O God,
strength of those who hope in You,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without You mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of Your grace,
that in following Your commands
we may please You by our resolve and our deeds.
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





Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.



Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from his treatise On the Lord’s Prayer

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

The prayer continues: Your kingdom come. We pray that God’s kingdom will become present for us in the same way that we ask for his name to be hallowed among us. For when does God not reign, when could there be in him a beginning of what always was and what will never cease to be? What we pray for is that the kingdom promised to us by God will come, the kingdom won by Christ’s blood and passion. Then we who formerly were slaves in this world will reign from now on under the dominion of Christ, in accordance with his promise: Come, O blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

However, my dear friends, it could also be that the kingdom of God whose coming we daily wish for is Christ himself, since it is his coming that we long for. He is our resurrection, since we rise again in him; so too he can be thought of as the kingdom of God because we are to reign in him. And it is good that we pray for God’s kingdom; for though it is a heavenly kingdom, it is also an earthly one. But those who have already renounced the world are made greater by holding positions of authority in that kingdom.

After this we add: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; we pray not that God should do his will, but that we may carry out his will. How could anyone prevent the Lord from doing what he wills? But in our prayer we ask that God’s will be done in us, because the devil throws up obstacles to prevent our mind and our conduct from obeying God in all things. So if his will is to be done in us we have need of his will, that is, his help and protection. No one can be strong by his own strength or secure save by God’s mercy and forgiveness. Even the Lord, to show the weakness of the human nature which he bore, said: Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, and then, by way of giving example to his disciples that they should do God’s will and not their own, he added: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

All Christ did, all he taught, was the will of God. Humility in our daily lives, an unwavering faith, a moral sense of modesty in conversion, justice in acts, mercy in deed, discipline, refusal to harm others, a readiness to suffer harm, peaceableness with our brothers, a wholehearted love of the Lord, loving in him what is of the Father, fearing him because he is God, preferring nothing to him who preferred nothing to us, clinging tenaciously to his love, standing by his cross with loyalty and courage whenever there is any conflict involving his honor and his name, manifesting in our speech the constancy of our profession and under torture confidence for the fight, and in dying the endurance for which we will be crowned — this is what it means to wish to be a coheir with Christ, to keep God’s command; this is what it means to do the will of the Father.



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

 






Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time



“... that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

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

“Since he calls us to the adoption as sons through the only begotten Son himself, he calls us to his own likeness. For, as the Lord at once adds, “He makes his sun to rise on the good and the evil and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Now, if you would understand the expression “his sun” to mean not the sun that is visible to bodily eyes but his wisdom, to which the following expressions refer — “he is the brightness of eternal light” and also “The sun of justice is risen upon me,” as well as “But to you that fear the name of the Lord, the sun of justice shall arise” — then you must also understand the rain as a watering by the teaching of truth, because that teaching has become manifest to the good and to the evil. But you may prefer to understand it as the sun that is manifest to the bodily eyes of beasts as well as people and to understand the rain as the showers that produce the fruits that God has given us for the perfection of the body. I believe this to be surely the more probable meaning, since the other “sun” does not rise except on the good and the holy, for this is the very thing that the unjust bewail in the book that is called the Wisdom of Solomon: “And the sun [of understanding] has not risen upon us.” And the spiritual rain refreshes only the good, for the vine signifies the bad of whom it is said, “I will command my clouds not to rain upon it.” (Sermon on the Mount, 1)



Collect
O God, strength of those Who hope in You,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without You
mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of Your grace,
that in following Your commands
we may please You by our resolve and our deeds.
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





May your name be hallowed



Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr

An excerpt from his treatise On the Lord’s Prayer

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Above all, he who preaches peace and unity did not want us to pray by ourselves in private or for ourselves alone. We do not say “My Father, who art in heaven,” nor “Give me this day my daily bread.” It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all. For the people of God are all one.

God is then the teacher of harmony, peace and unity, and desires each of us to pray for all men, even as he bore all men in himself alone. The three young men shut up in the furnace of fire observed this rule of prayer. United in the bond of the Spirit they uttered together the same prayer. The witness of holy Scripture describes this incident for us, so that we might imitate them in our prayer. Then all three began to sing in unison, blessing God. Even though Christ had not yet taught them to pray, nevertheless, they spoke as with one voice.

It is for this reason that their prayer was persuasive and efficacious. For their simple and spiritual prayer of peace merited the presence of the Lord. So too, after the ascension we find the apostles and the disciples praying together in this way. Scripture relates: They all joined together in continuous prayer, with the women including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. They all joined together in continuous prayer. The urgency and the unity of their prayer declares that God, who fashions a bond of unity among those who live in his home, will admit into his divine home for all eternity only those who pray in unity.

My dear friends, the Lord’s Prayer contains many great mysteries of our faith. In these few words there is great spiritual strength, for this summary of divine teaching contains all of our prayers and petitions. And so, the Lord commands us: Pray then like this: Our Father, who art in heaven.

We are new men; we have been reborn and restored to God by his grace. We have already begun to be his sons and we can say “Father.” John reminds us of this: He came to his own home, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave the power to become children of God. Profess your belief that you are sons of God by giving thanks. Call upon God who is your Father in heaven. How merciful the Lord is to us, how kind and richly compassionate! He wished us to repeat this prayer in God’s sight, to call the Lord our Father and, as Christ is God’s Son, be called in turn sons of God! None of us would ever have dared to utter this name unless he himself had allowed us to pray in this way. And therefore, dear friends, we should bear in mind and realize that when we call God our Father we ought also to act like sons. If we are pleased to call him Father, let him in turn be pleased to call us sons.

We should live like the temples of God we are, so that it can be seen that God lives in us. No act of ours should be unworthy of the spirit. Now that we have begun to live in heaven and in spirit, all our thoughts and actions should be heavenly and spiritual; for, as the Lord God himself has said: Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be despised. And the blessed Apostle wrote in his letter: You are not your own; you were bought with a great price. So glorify and bear God in your body.

We go on to say, May your name be hallowed. It is not that we think to make God holy by our prayers; rather we are asking God that his name may be made holy in us. Indeed, how could God be made holy, he who is the source of holiness? Still, because he himself said: Be holy, for I am holy, we pray and beseech him that we who have been hallowed in baptism may persevere in what we have begun. And we pray for this every day, for we have need of daily sanctification; sinning every day, we cleanse our faults again and again by constant sanctification.



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