Monday, September 30, 2013

Saint Jerome, Priest, Doctor

A commentary on Isaiah by St Jerome

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ
Saint Jerome
I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
  Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me.
  No one should think that I mean to explain the entire subject matter of this great book of Scripture in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the Lord. It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvellous works and signs. It predicts his death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Saviour of all men. I need say nothing about the natural sciences, ethics and logic. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah. Of these mysteries the author himself testifies when he writes: You will be given a vision of all things, like words in a sealed scroll. When they give the writings to a wise man, they will say: Read this. And he will reply: I cannot, for it is sealed. And when the scroll is given to an uneducated man and he is told: Read this, he will reply: I do not know how to read.
  Should this argument appear weak to anyone, let him listen to the Apostle: Let two or three prophets speak, and let others interpret; if, however, a revelation should come to one of those who are seated there, let the first one be quiet. How can they be silent, since it depends on the Spirit who speaks through his prophets whether they remain silent or speak? If they understood what they were saying, all things would be full of wisdom and knowledge. But it was not the air vibrating with the human voice that reached their ears, but rather it was God speaking within the soul of the prophets, just as another prophet says: It is an angel who spoke in me; and again, Crying out in our hearts, Abba, Father’, and I shall listen to what the Lord God says within me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday of the 26th week in ordinary time

St Polycarp's letter to the Philippians

You have been saved by grace
Polycarp and the Elders with him, to the Church of God sojourning in Philippi: all mercy and peace to you, from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Savior.
  When you welcomed those copies of the True Love and took the opportunity of setting them forward on their road, I rejoiced with you in Jesus Christ. The chains that bound them were the badges of saints, the diadems of men truly chosen by our Lord and God. I rejoiced too that your firmly rooted faith, so well-known since the earliest times, still flourishes and bears fruit for our Lord Jesus Christ. He bore the burden of our sins even as far as suffering death, and God raised him up, releasing him from the pains of the underworld; you did not see him but still you believed in him, in unspeakably glorious joy. Many desire to come into this joy, knowing that you are saved by grace, not by works, – not by your actions but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.
  So gird up your loins and serve God in fear and sincerity. Leave aside empty vanities and vulgar error, believing in him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory and a throne on his right hand, to whom are subject all things in heaven and earth, whom everything that has breath serves, who is coming as the judge of the living and of the dead: God will require vengeance for his blood from any who disobey him.
  Now he who raised him from the dead will also raise us up if we do his will and walk according to his commandments and love the things which he loved, if we refrain from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, and false witness, if we do not render evil with evil, abuse for abuse, blow for blow, or curse for curse, but if we remember what the Lord taught when he said, Do not judge, that you may not be judged; forgive and you will be forgiven; be merciful and you will receive mercy. For whatever you measure out to other people will be measured out to you also… Blessed are the poor, and they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saints Laurence Ruiz and his Companions, Martyrs

From a treatise on the psalms by Saint Hilary of Poitiers

The water of the river gives joy to God's city
St. Laurence Ruiz
The river of God is in full spate; you have provided their food, for so you have prepared it. There is no room for uncertainty about the river. For the prophet says: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. And the Lord himself says in the gospels, Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water springing forth to eternal life. And again, He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of water. Now this he said about the Holy Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive. This river of God, then, is brimful. For we are flooded with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and from that spring of life the river of God, in full flood, pours into us. We also have food prepared.
  And what is this food? That in which we are prepared for society with God: through communion of a holy body to be thereafter given a place in the communion of a holy body. That is what the present psalm means when it says, You have provided their food, for so you have prepared it – for by that food, though we are saved for the present time, we are none the less also prepared for the future.
  We who are reborn through the sacrament of baptism have the greatest joy, as we perceive within us the first stirrings of the Holy Spirit, as we begin to understand mysteries; we gain knowledge of prophecy, speech full of wisdom, security in our hope, gifts of healing, and dominion over the devils made subject to us. These gifts, like drops of liquid, permeate our inner self, and so beginning, little by little produce fruits in abundance.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest

A writing of St Vincent de Paul

Serving the poor is to be preferred above all things
Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.
  Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, he showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: He sent me to preach the good news to the poor. We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause.
  Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also loves those who love the poor. For when one person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to understand the poor and weak. We sympathise with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: I have become all things to all men. Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbours’ worries and distress. We must beg God to pour into our hearts sentiments of pity and compassion and to fill them again and again with these dispositions.
  It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Sorry for being off line these past few weeks. We were swamped with patients and kept running to different Pharmacies to "borrow" Malaria meds. We were so low on funds that I had to spend the internet fees for those very meds. I am still in this crisis as it seems the rains are slowing down but there is a increase in Malaria cases. I am still asking for your help.

God bless you all,

Br. dismas Mary

Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

The martyrs' deaths are made precious by the death of Christ
Through such glorious deeds of the holy martyrs, with which the Church blossoms everywhere, we prove with our own eyes how true it is, as we have just been singing, that precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints; seeing that it is precious both in our sight and in the sight of him for the sake of whose name it was undertaken. But the price of these deaths is the death of one man. How many deaths were bought with one dying man, who was the grain of wheat that would not have been multiplied if he had not died! You have heard his words when he was drawing near to our passion, that is, when he was drawing near to our redemption: Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
  On the cross, you see, Christ transacted a grand exchange; it was there that the purse containing our price was untied; when his side was laid open by the lance of the executioner, there poured out from it the price of the whole wide world. The faithful were bought, and the martyrs; but the faith of the martyrs has been proved, and their blood is the witness to it. The martyrs have paid back what was spent for them, and they have fulfilled what Saint John says: Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too should lay down our lives for the brethren. And in another place it says, You have sat down at a great table; consider carefully what is set before you, since you ought to prepare the same kind of thing yourself. It is certainly a great table, where the Lord of the table is himself the banquet. No-one feeds his guests on himself; that is what the Lord Christ did, being himself the host, himself the food and drink. Therefore the martyrs recognized what they ate and drank, so that they could give back the same kind of thing.
  But from where could they give back the same kind of thing, if the one who made the first payment had not given them the means of giving something back? What shall I pay back to the Lord for all the things he has paid back to me? I will receive the cup of salvation. What is this cup? The bitter but salutary cup of suffering, the cup which the invalid would fear to touch if the doctor did not drink it first. That is what this cup is; we can recognise this cup on the lips of Christ, when he says, Father, if it can be so, let this cup pass from me. It is about this cup that the martyrs said, I will receive the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.
  So are you not afraid of failing at this point? No? Why not? Because I will call upon the name of the Lord. How could the martyrs ever conquer, unless that one conquered in them who said Rejoice, since I have conquered the world? The emperor of the heavens was governing their minds and tongues, and through them overcoming the devil on earth and crowning the martyrs in heaven. O, how blessed are those who drank this cup thus! They have finished with suffering and have received honor instead.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday of the 25th week in ordinary time

St Augustine's sermon On Pastors

Do what they say, not what they do
Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!” What must you shepherds hear? Thus says the Lord God: behold, I am above the shepherds and I will call them to account for the sheep in their hands.
  Listen, sheep of God, listen and learn: God will call the bad shepherds to account for his sheep and for their deaths. As he says elsewhere in Ezekiel: Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man, “Wicked wretch, you are to die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin but you yourself will have saved your life.
  You see, brethren? Do you see how dangerous it is to keep quiet? If you remain silent, you die; and rightly. You die for your impiety and sin – it is your negligence that kills you. He who has said, As I live, says the Lord might have found a living shepherd – but since the shepherd was negligent, not warning those he had been given authority over, those whose sentry he was, he will die justly and the sentry will be justly condemned. But if – the Lord continues – you say “you are to die” with one I have threatened with the sword, and he does not avoid the sword and it comes and kills him, he will die in his sin but you will have set your soul free. That is why we must not keep silent – and you, even if we did keep silent, must listen to the words of the true Shepherd in holy Scripture.
  Since I raised the question, let us see if he takes the sheep from the dead shepherds and gives them to good ones. I certainly see him taking the sheep from the bad shepherds: I am above the shepherds, and I shall take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. For when I say to them, “Feed my sheep,” they feed themselves and not my sheep. I shall not allow them to feed my flock.
  How does he stop them from looking after his sheep? Do whatever they say, but do not do what they do. It is as if he were saying, “Their words are my words but their actions are their own.” When you avoid what the bad shepherds do, they are not in charge of you any more: when you follow what they say, it is my words you are following and it is I who am tending you.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday of the 22nd week in ordinary time

St Leo the Great on the Beatitudes

The blessedness of Christ's kingdom
New Creation
After pronouncing his blessing on poverty, the Lord added Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  Dearly beloved, this mourning that is promised eternal comfort has nothing in common with the afflictions of this world. No-one is made blessed by the kind of lamentation that the whole human race indulges in. The sighs and blessed tears of the saints have another cause. Holy sorrow comes from contemplating one’s own sins and the sins of others. It does not weep at the actions of divine justice but at the sins committed by human wickedness. It is the one who does evil here who is to be pitied, not the one who suffers it: for what the evil man has done thrusts him down to punishment, while what the just man has put up with leads him up into glory.
  Then the Lord added Blessed are the meek, for they shall have the earth for their inheritance. To the meek and gentle, to the lowly and unassuming, to all who are prepared to endure injury – to these the earth is promised. This is not a small or unimportant inheritance, as if “the earth” were somehow distinct from a dwelling-place in heaven: in fact, you must understand it as meaning that only the meek will enter the kingdom of heaven. This earth that is promised to the meek, that is to be given to the gentle to possess, is the body of the saints, whose humility will raise them up and clothe them in the glory of immortality, united at last with the Spirit of unity. Then the outer self will belong to the inner self at last, a peaceful and secure possession.
  The meek will possess this inheritance in everlasting peace and their right to it will never grow less. Our present perishable nature must put on imperishability and this mortal nature must put on immortality, so that a danger to the soul becomes a reward and what was onerous becomes an honour.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday of the 22nd week in ordinary time

St Leo the Great on the Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit
There is no doubt that the poor find it easier than the rich to receive the blessing of humility; for gentleness goes with poverty just as pride more commonly goes with riches. Nevertheless, very many rich people find that their wealth does not swell them up with pride: rather, they do good and benevolent things with it. For these people the greatest treasure is what they spend in relieving the distress and hardship of others.
  In the virtue of humility men of every kind and every standing meet together, because though they differ in their means they share a common purpose. Their inequality of wealth makes no difference if they are equal in spiritual blessings.
  What kind of poverty, then, is blessed? The kind that is not in love with earthly things and does not seek worldly riches: the kind that longs to be filled with the blessings of heaven.
  After our Lord himself, the Apostles have given us the best example of this greatness of heart in poverty. When their Master called, they instantly left behind all that they possessed, and from catching fish they turned swiftly to fishing for men. Their example inspired many to emulate their faith and so become like them: it was at this time that these first sons of the Church were of one heart and there was one spirit among believers. With all their possessions stripped away they received the riches of eternal blessings, and through the Apostles’ preaching they rejoiced at having nothing that the world could give and possessing all things with Christ.
  So it was that when the blessed apostle Peter was going up into the Temple and the cripple begged him for alms, he replied I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk! What could be higher than this lowliness? What could be richer than this poverty? He cannot give the support of money but he can give the gift of a restored nature. From the womb his mother brought him forth a cripple; by a word Peter raises him up to health. He did not give the image of Caesar stamped on a coin but he restored the image of Christ in the man himself.
  The man who was given the power to walk was not the only one to receive help from this rich treasure. From the same act of miraculous healing five thousand men received the gift of faith in the Apostle’s teaching. The poor man who could give nothing of what he was asked for restored one lame man to his feet but also healed the hearts of thousands: he found them lame and brought them to be lithe and agile in Christ.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday of the 22nd week in ordinary time

A sermon by Pope St Leo the Great
I shall put my laws within them
Dearly beloved, when our Lord Jesus Christ was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom and healing various illnesses throughout the whole of Galilee, the fame of his mighty works spread into all of Syria, and great crowds from all parts of Judea flocked to the heavenly physician. Because human ignorance is slow to believe what it does not see, and equally slow to hope for what it does not know, those who were to be instructed in the divine teaching had first to be aroused by bodily benefits and visible miracles so that, once they had experienced his gracious power, they would no longer doubt the wholesome effect of his doctrine. In order, therefore, to transform outward healings into inward remedies, and to cure men’s souls now that he had healed their bodies, our Lord separated himself from the surrounding crowds, climbed to the solitude of a neighboring mountain, and called the apostles to himself. From the height of this mystical site he then instructed them in the most lofty doctrines, suggesting both by the very nature of the place and by what he was doing that it was he who long ago had honored Moses by speaking to him. At that time, his words showed a terrifying justice, but now they reveal a sacred compassion, in order to fulfill what was promised in the words of the prophet Jeremiah: Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I shall establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. After those days, says the Lord, I shall put my laws within them and write them on their hearts.
  And so it was that he who had spoken to Moses spoke also to the apostles. Writing in the hearts of his disciples, the swift hand of the Word composed the ordinances of the new covenant. And this was not done as formerly, in the midst of dense clouds, amid terrifying sounds and lightning, so that the people were frightened away from approaching the mountain. Instead, there was a tranquil discourse which clearly reached the ears of all who stood nearby so that the harshness of the law might be softened by the gentleness of grace, and the spirit of adoption might dispel the terror of slavery.
  Concerning the content of Christ’s teaching, his own sacred words bear witness; thus whoever longs to attain eternal blessedness can now recognise the steps that lead to that high happiness. Blessed, he says, are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. It might have been unclear to which poor he was referring, if after the words Blessed are the poor, he had not added anything about the kind of poor he had in mind. For then the poverty that many suffer because of grave and harsh necessity might seem sufficient to merit the kingdom of heaven.
  But when he says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, he shows that the kingdom of heaven is to be given to those who are distinguished by their humility of soul rather than by their lack of worldly goods

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday of the 22nd week in ordinary time

From a commentary on John by Origen

Christ spoke of his body as a temple
Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
  It seems to me that Jesus meant the Jews in this episode to stand for sensual men and those desirous of carnal and sensual things. These Jews were angry at his expulsion of the people who were turning his Father’s house into a market. So they asked for a sign to justify these actions, a sign that would show that the Word of God, whom they refused to accept, was acting rightly. The Saviour’s reply combines a statement about the temple with a prophecy about his own body, for in answer to their question: What sign can you give to justify your conduct? he says: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
  Indeed, I think that both the temple and the body of Jesus can be seen together as a type of the Church. For the Church is being built out of living stones; it is in process of becoming a spiritual dwelling for a holy priesthood, raised on the foundations of apostles and prophets, with Christ as its chief cornerstone. Hence it bears the name “temple.” On the other hand, it is written: You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it. Thus even the harmonious alignment of the stones should seem to be destroyed and fragmented and, as described in the twenty-first psalm, all the bones which go to make up Christ’s body should seem to be scattered by insidious attacks in persecutions or times of trouble, or by those who in days of persecution undermine the unity of the temple, nevertheless the temple will be rebuilt and the body will rise again on the third day, after the day of evil which threatens it and the day of consummation which follows. For the third day will dawn upon a new heaven and a new earth when these bones that form the whole house of Israel are raised up on that great day of the Lord, when death has been defeated. So the resurrection of Christ, accomplished after his suffering on the cross, embraces the mystery of the resurrection of his whole body.
  For just as that physical body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward raised up, so in the same way the whole body of Christ’s holy ones has been crucified and lives no longer with its own life. For each of them, like Paul, makes his boast of nothing else but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he has himself been crucified to the world, and the world to him. But each Christian has not only been crucified with Christ and crucified to the world; he has been buried with Christ too, as Paul tells us: We have been buried with Christ. But as though already in possession of some pledge of the resurrection, Paul goes on to say: And we have risen with him.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope, Doctor

A sermon of St Gregory the Great

For the love of Christ I do not spare myself in preaching him
‘Son of man, I have appointed you as watchman to the house of Israel.’ Note that Ezekiel, whom the Lord sent to preach his word, is described as a watchman. Now a watchman always takes up his position on the heights so that he can see from a distance whatever approaches. Likewise whoever is appointed watchman to a people should live a life on the heights so that he can help them by taking a wide survey.
  These words are hard to utter, for when I speak it is myself that I am reproaching. I do not preach as I should nor does my life follow the principles I preach so inadequately.
  I do not deny that I am guilty, for I see my torpor and my negligence. Perhaps my very recognition of failure will win me pardon from a sympathetic judge. When I lived in a monastic community I was able to keep my tongue from idle topics and to devote my mind almost continually to the discipline of prayer. Since taking on my shoulders the burden of pastoral care, I have been unable to keep steadily recollected because my mind is distracted by many responsibilities.
  I am forced to consider questions affecting churches and monasteries and often I must judge the lives and actions of individuals; at one moment I am forced to take part in certain civil affairs, next I must worry over the incursions of barbarians and fear the wolves who menace the flock entrusted to my care; now I must accept political responsibility in order to give support to those who preserve the rule of law; now I must bear patiently the villainies of brigands, and then I must confront them, yet in all charity.
  My mind is sundered and torn to pieces by the many and serious things I have to think about. When I try to concentrate and gather all my intellectual resources for preaching, how can I do justice to the sacred ministry of the word? I am often compelled by the nature of my position to associate with men of the world and sometimes I relax the discipline of my speech. If I preserved the rigorously inflexible mode of utterance that my conscience dictates, I know that the weaker sort of men would recoil from me and that I could never attract them to the goal I desire for them. So I must frequently listen patiently to their aimless chatter. Because I am weak myself I am drawn gradually into idle talk and I find myself saying the kind of thing that I didn’t even care to listen to before. I enjoy lying back where I once was loath to stumble.
  Who am I — what kind of watchman am I? I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement, I languish rather in the depths of my weakness. And yet the creator and redeemer of mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and power to speak effectively of it. It is for love of him that I do not spare myself in preaching him.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday of the 22nd week in ordinary time

The Imitation of Christ

I taught my prophets
My son, says the Lord, listen to my words, the most delightful of all words, surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world. My words are spirit and life and cannot be comprehended by human senses alone. They are not to be interpreted according to the vain pleasure of the listener, but they must be listened to in silence and received with all humility and great affection.
  And I said: Blessed is the man whom you teach, Lord, and whom you instruct in your law; for him you soften the blow of the evil day, and you do not desert him on the earth.
  The Lord says, I have instructed my prophets from the beginning. Even to the present time I have not stopped speaking to all men, but many are deaf and obstinate in response.
  Many hear the world more easily than they hear God; they follow the desires of the flesh more readily than the pleasure of God. The world promises rewards that are temporal and insignificant, and these are pursued with great longing; I promise rewards that are eternal and unsurpassable, yet the hearts of mortals respond sluggishly.
  Who serves and obeys me in all matters with as much care as the world and its princes are served?
  Blush, then, you lazy, complaining servant, for men are better prepared for the works of death than you are for the works of life. They take more joy in vanity than you in truth.
  Yet they are often deceived in their hope, while my promise deceives no one, and leaves empty-handed no one who confides in me. What I have promised I shall give; what I have said I will fulfill for any man who remains faithful in my love unto the very end. I am the rewarder of all good men, the one who rigorously tests the devoted.
  Write my words in your heart and study them diligently, for they will be absolutely necessary in the time of temptation. Whatever you fail to understand in reading my words will become clear to you on the day of your visitation.
  I visit my elect in a double fashion: that is, with temptation and with consolation. And I read to them two lessons each day: one to rebuke them for their faults; the other to exhort them to increase their virtue.
  He who possesses my words, yet spurns them, earns his own judgment on the last day.