Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday of the 13th week in ordinary time

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

He is the Lord our God, and we are the people of his pasture
The words we have sung contain our declaration that we are God’s flock: For he is the Lord our God who made us. He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hands. Human shepherds did not make the sheep they own; they did not create the sheep they pasture. Our Lord God, however, because he is God and Creator, made for himself the sheep which he has and pastures. No one else created the sheep he pastures, nor does anyone else pasture the sheep he created.
  In this song we have declared that we are his flock, the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hands. Let us listen therefore to the words he addresses to us as his sheep. Earlier he addressed the shepherds, but now he speaks to the sheep. We listened to those earlier words of his and we – the shepherds – trembled, but you listened without a qualm.
  What is to happen when we hear these words today? Are we in turn to be without a qualm while you tremble? By no means! We are shepherds, and the shepherd listens and trembles not only at what is said to the shepherds but also at what is said to the sheep. If he does listen without a qualm to what is said to his sheep, he is not concerned for them. And further, on that occasion we asked you in your charity to remember two points about us: first, that we are Christians, and second, that we are placed in charge. Because we are placed in charge, we are ranked among the shepherds, if we are good; but because we are Christians, we too are members of the flock with you. Therefore, whether the Lord is addressing the shepherds or the sheep, we must listen to all his words and tremble; our hearts must always remain concerned.
  And so, my brothers, let us listen to the words with which the Lord upbraids the wicked sheep and to the promises he makes to his own flock. You are my sheep, he says. Even in the midst of this life of tears and tribulations, what happiness, what great joy it is to realize that we are God’s flock! To him were spoken the words: You are the shepherd of Israel. Of him it was said: The guardian of Israel will not slumber, nor will he sleep. He keeps watch over us when we are awake; he keeps watch over us when we sleep. A flock belonging to a man feels secure in the care of its human shepherd; how much safer should we feel when our shepherd is God. Not only does he lead us to pasture, but he even created us.
  You are my sheep, says the Lord God. See, I judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. What are goats doing here in the flock of God? In the same pastures, at the same springs, goats – though destined for the left – mingle with those on the right. They are tolerated now, but will be separated later. In this way the patience of the flock develops and becomes like God’s own patience. For it is he who will do the separating, placing some on the left and others on the right.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saints Peter and Paul

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

The martyrs had seen what they proclaimed
African Martyrs
This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.
  The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter. He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky,” from “rock”; not “rock” from “Rocky.” Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.
  Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.
  Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.
  There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Immaculate Heart of Mary

A sermon of St Laurence Justinian

Mary kept all these things in her heart
As Mary pondered all she had learned from reading and from what she had heard and seen, how greatly did she increase in faith, advance in merit and become enlightened with wisdom! More and more she was consumed with burning love. Drawing life and inspiration from the heavenly mysteries which were being unlocked for her, she was filled with joy; she became alive with the Spirit, she was guided towards God and was kept humble in herself. The effects of divine grace are such indeed that they raise one from the depths to the heights, and transform one in an ever greater degree of glory. Entirely blessed was the mind of the Virgin which, through the direction of the Spirit dwelling in her, ever obeyed the command of the Word of God in all things. She was governed not by her own judgement or opinions, but she outwardly performed through her body whatever wisdom had indicated inwardly to her faith. It was surely fitting that divine Wisdom, which had built the house of the Church for its abode, should use most holy Mary as its instrument, where the observance of the law, purification of the heart, the doctrine of humility and spiritual offering were concerned.
  Imitate her, O faithful soul. Enter into the temple of your heart that you may be purified in spirit and cleansed of the pollution of your sins. In everything we do God considers our disposition rather than our actions. And so, whether we retire mentally to God in earnest contemplation and remain at rest or whether we are intent on being of service to those around us with good works and worthy undertakings, let our object be that we are motivated only by love of Christ. So the really acceptable offering of purification of the spirit is that which is rendered not in a man-made temple but in the temple of the heart, where Christ the Lord is pleased to enter.

Friday, June 27, 2014


St Bonaventure
With you is the source of life
(Logo of Nazareth Hermitage)
Take thought now, redeemed man, and consider how great and worthy is he who hangs on the cross for you. His death brings the dead to life, but at his passing heaven and earth are plunged into mourning and hard rocks are split asunder.
  It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.
  Arise, then, beloved of Christ! Imitate the dove ‘that nests in a hole in the cliff’, keeping watch at the entrance ‘like the sparrow that finds a home’. There like the turtledove hide your little ones, the fruit of your chaste love. Press your lips to the fountain, ‘draw water from the wells of your Saviour; for this is the spring flowing out of the middle of paradise, dividing into four rivers’, inundating devout hearts, watering the whole earth and making it fertile.
  Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God’s service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart. “O indescribable beauty of the most high God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendor the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time! Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries, none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows ‘the river which gladdens the city of God’ and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that ‘with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light’.