Sunday, May 31, 2015

Light, radiance and grace are in the Trinity and from the blessed Trinity

A letter by St Athanasius

Light, radiance and grace are in the Trinity and from the Trinity
Image result for Holy TrinityIt will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.
Image result for holy trinity symbol  We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.
  Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.
Image result for holy trinity symbol  Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.
Image result for holy trinity symbol  This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday of week 8 in Ordinary Time

A sermon of St Zeno of Verona

Job as a prefiguring of Christ
My beloved brethren, the story of Job prefigures that of Christ. Thus we understand it, and we can see the truth of this by detailed comparison.
  Job was called a righteous man by God; and God is righteousness itself, the fountain of righteousness from which the blessed drink. Of him it was said: The sun of righteousness shall rise for you.
  Job was called truthful; and the Lord is truly Truth itself, for as he says in the Gospel: I am the way and the truth.
  Job was rich; and what could be richer than the Lord? For all the rich are his slaves, his is the whole world and all that exists, as David said in the Psalms: The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all who live in it.
  The devil tempted Job three times; and three times, according to the Gospel, he tried to tempt the Lord.
  Everything that Job had, he lost; and for love of us the Lord forgot all his heavenly blessings and made himself poor, that we might be rich.
  The devil, raging, destroyed Job’s sons; and the Lord’s sons, the prophets, were killed by the people of the Pharisees in their madness.
  Job was disfigured with boils; and the Lord, taking on human flesh, was fouled with the sins of all mankind.
  Job’s own wife urged him to sin; and the synagogue, the bride of God, tried to compel the Lord to follow the corrupt behaviour of the elders.
  Job’s friends, it is said, insulted him; and the Lord was insulted by his own priests, his own worshippers.
  Job sits on a dunghill full of worms; and the Lord lived in a real dunghill, that is, this world, surrounded by men seething with every vice and every crime: true worms.
  Job received back his health and his riches; and the Lord, rising, did not only regain health but granted immortality to those who believed in him and took back dominion over the whole of nature. For as he himself bears witness: All things have been given to me by my Father.
  Job begot new sons to replace the ones who had died; the Lord, to replace the prophets, begot his holy sons, the Apostles.
  Job went to his rest in blessedness and peace; but the Lord remains blessed in all eternity: before time, and from the beginning of time, and to the end of all ages.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday of week 8 in Ordinary Time

The Moral Reflections on Job by Pope St Gregory the Great

The interior witness
"Job Rebuked by His Friends"

He who is mocked by his friend as I am will call on God, and God will answer him. 
 Often the frail mind, when it gains a good reputation among people for the good actions it has performed, dissipates itself in outward delights, thus putting to one side what it inwardly desires and sprawling happily in the luxury of hearing good things said about it.It is not becoming blessed that makes it happy, but being called blessed by other people. As it longs for the applause, so it abandons the very thing it was beginning to be. What made it deserving of praise in God ended up separating this weak soul from God.
  Sometimes, on the other hand, the soul perseveres in good works with constancy, and yet is buffeted by derision; it does great things but receives only abuse for them. In the end he who might have come out of himself, given praise, is thrown back into himself by insults. Thus he establishes himself more firmly in God, since outside there is no rest for him. All his hope is fixed in his creator and amongst external ridicule and abuse he wants only the good opinion of the interior witness. The further he is pushed out of human favor, the closer a neighbor he becomes to God. He pours himself out in prayer and, under attack from without, is refined with a more perfect purity so as to enter more deeply into all that is interior.
Job Mocked by his Wife
  So it is well said that He who is mocked by his friend as I am will call on God, and God will answer him. The good may be reproached by the wicked, yet they are showing them whom to seek as witness of their actions. While the soul is strengthening itself in prayer, it is uniting itself within itself in the hearing of the Most High by the very act which severs it from the approval of those around it.
  But that “mocked by his friend as I am” is important. Some people are indeed downcast at the ridicule of their fellow-men, but not as Job was: they are not the kind of men to be heard by the ears of God. When the ridicule they receive comes from their sin and not their virtue, they will get no virtuous merit from that derision.
  For the righteous man’s simplicity is laughed to scorn. It is the wisdom of this world to conceal one’s feelings behind pretense and veil one’s meaning with words, to show things that are false to be true and to show what is true to be fallacious.
  It is the wisdom of the righteous, on the other hand, to have no pretense, to use words to mean and not to hide meaning, to love the truth as it is and to avoid falsehood; to do good free of charge and to bear evil more gladly than to do evil; to treat a bad reputation resulting from faithfulness and truth as a reward and not a curse. But this simplicity of the righteous is laughed at, because the virtue of purity is considered to be folly by the wise of this world. Whatever is done in innocence seems to them to have been done in foolishness, and whatever act is commended by faithfulness seems nothing but weakness in the sight of worldly wisdom.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday of week 8 in Ordinary Time

The Moral Reflections on Job by Pope St Gregory the Great

The law of the Lord is manifold
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If only God would show you how manifold is his law. How must we interpret this law of God? How, if not by love? The love that stamps the precepts of right-living on the mind and bids us put them into practice. Listen to Truth speaking of this law: This is my commandment, that you love one another. Listen to Paul: The whole law, he declares, is summed up in love; and again: Help one another in your troubles, and you will fulfill the law of Christ. The law of Christ – does anything other than love more fittingly describe it? Truly we are keeping this law when, out of love, we go to the help of a brother in trouble.
  But we are told that this law is manifold. Why? Because love’s lively concern for others is reflected in all the virtues. It begins with two commands, but it soon embraces many more. Paul gives a good summary of its various aspects. Love is patient, he says, and kind; it is never jealous or conceited; its conduct is blameless; it is not ambitious, not selfish, not quick to take offence; it harbors no evil thoughts, does not gloat over other people’s sins, but is gladdened by an upright life.
Image result for The law of the Lord is manifold  The man ruled by this love shows his patience by bearing wrongs with equanimity; his kindness by generously repaying good for evil. Jealousy is foreign to him. It is impossible to envy worldly success when he has no worldly desires. He is not conceited. The prizes he covets lie within; outward blessings do not elate him. His conduct is blameless, for he cannot do wrong in devoting himself entirely to love of God and his neighbor. He is not ambitious. The welfare of his own soul is what he cares about. Apart from that he seeks nothing. He is not selfish. Unable to keep anything he has in this world, he is as indifferent to it as if it were another’s. Indeed, in his eyes nothing is his own but what will be so always. He is not quick to take offense. Even under provocation, thought of revenge never crosses his mind. The reward he seeks hereafter will be greater in proportion to his endurance. He harbors no evil thoughts. Hatred is utterly rooted out of a heart whose only love is goodness. Thoughts that defile a man can find no entry. He does not gloat over other people’s sins. No; an enemy’s fall affords him no delight, for loving all men, he longs for their salvation.
  On the other hand, he is gladdened by an upright life. Since he loves others as himself, he takes as much pleasure in whatever good he sees in them as if the progress were his own. That is why this law of God is manifold.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

A letter by Pope St Gregory the Great

The nation of angels was bathed with the light of holy faith

Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth, because the grain of wheat has fallen into the earth and has died. Christ has died in order to reign in heaven. Not only that: by his death we live; by his weakness we are strengthened; by his passion we are freed from suffering; impelled by his love, we are seeking in Britain brothers whom we do not know; through his help we have found those for whom we were searching, although we were not acquainted with them.
  Who, dear brother, is capable of describing the great joy of believers when they have learned what the grace of Almighty God and your own cooperation achieved among the Angles? They abandoned the errors of darkness and were bathed with the light of holy faith. With full awareness they trampled on the idols which they had previously adored with savage fear. They are now committed to Almighty God. The guidelines given them for their preaching restrain them from falling into evil ways. In their minds they are submissive to the divine precepts and consequently feel uplifted. They bow down to the ground in prayer lest their minds cling too closely to earthly things. Whose achievement is this? It is the achievement of him who said: My Father is at work until now and I am at work as well.
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Saint Augustine of Canterbury
  God chose illiterate preachers and sent them into the world in order to show the world that conversion is brought about not by men’s wisdom but rather by his own power. So in like manner God worked through weak instruments and wrought great things among the Angles. Dear brother, in this heavenly gift there is something which should inspire us with great fear and great joy.
  For I know through your love for that people, specially chosen for you, that Almighty God has performed great miracles. But it is necessary that the same heavenly gift should cause you to rejoice with fear and to fear with gladness. You should be glad because by means of external miracles the souls of the Angles have been led to interior grace. But you should tremble, lest on account of these signs, the preacher’s own weak soul be puffed up with presumption; lest, while seeming externally raised aloft in honour, it fall internally as a result of vainglory.
  We should remember that when the disciples on their joyous return from their preaching mission said to their heavenly master: Lord, in your name even devils were subjected to us, he immediately retorted: Do not rejoice about this but rather that your names are inscribed in heaven.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saint Philip Neri, Priest

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Always rejoice in the Lord
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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! 
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
 The Lord is near.
 Do not be anxious about anything, ...
The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God’s enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.
  Let joy in the Lord win and go on winning, until people take no more joy in the world. Let joy in the Lord always go on growing, and joy in the world always go on shrinking until it is reduced to nothing. I do not mean that we should not rejoice as long as we are in this world, but that even while we do find ourselves in this world, we should already be rejoicing in the Lord.
  Someone may argue, “I am in the world; so obviously, if I rejoice, I rejoice where I am”. What of it? Because you are in the world, does it mean that you are not in the Lord? Listen to the same Apostle in the Acts of the Apostles, speaking to the Athenians, and saying about God and about the Lord, our Creator, In him we live, and move, and are. Since he is everywhere, there is nowhere that he is not. Is it not precisely this that he is emphasizing to encourage us? The Lord is very near; do not be anxious about anything.
  This is something tremendous, that he ascended above all the heavens but is still very near to those who dwell on earth, wherever they may be. Who can this be that is both far away and close at hand, except the one who became our near neighbor out of mercy?
  The whole of the human race, you see, is that man who was lying in the road, left there by robbers, half dead, who was ignored by the passing priest and Levite, while the passing Samaritan stopped by him to take care of him and help him; and when the Immortal, the Just, was far away from us mortals and sinners, he came down to us to become – that far distant being – our near neighbor.
  He has not treated us according to our sins. For we are his children. How do we prove this? The only Son died for us so that he would not remain the only child. He did not want to be alone, who died alone. The only Son of God made many children for God. He bought himself brothers and sisters with his blood; rejected, he accepted us; sold, he bought us back; dishonored, he honored us; killed, he brought us life.
  So then, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord, not in the world; that is, rejoice in faithfulness and not in iniquity; rejoice in the hope of eternity and not the brief flower of vanity. Rejoice thus, and wherever you are here, as long as you are here, the Lord is very near: do not be anxious about anything.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, Virgin

The writings on revelation and temptation by St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Come, Holy Spirit
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How truly wonderful you are, O Word of God, in the Holy Spirit; you cause him to infuse the soul with you, that it may join itself to God, conceive God, savor God, taste nothing but God.
  The Holy Spirit enters the soul, sealed with that precious seal of the blood of the Word, the Lamb that was slain. Indeed it is this blood that urges him to come, although the Spirit is moved of himself and desires to come.
Image result for Come, Holy Spirit  This moving Spirit in himself is the substance of the Father and of the Word, proceeding from the essence of the Father and the will of the Word, coming like a fountain into the soul, which is submerged in it. And just as two streams which rise separately mingle together so that the lesser loses its own name and takes the name of the greater, this divine Spirit acts in the same way when he enters the soul in order to join himself to it. The soul must lose its own name, which is the lesser, and relinquish it to the Spirit; it will do this if it so turns towards the Spirit that it becomes one with him.
Image result for Come, Holy Spirit  This Spirit, the dispenser of the treasures that are in the Father and keeper of the counsels that are between the Father and the Son, pours himself so sweetly into the soul that he is not perceived, and his greatness is understood by few.
  Drawn by the force of his love and yet moving with supreme freedom, he moves into all places that are suitable and disposed to receive him. He is heard by all in his frequent utterances and in his profound silence. By the force of love, being both unmoved and swiftest of all in movement, he enters all things.
  You do not remain, Holy Spirit, in the unmoved Father, nor in the Word, and yet you are always in the Father and in the Word and in yourself, and in all blessed spirits and creatures. All creatures need you, since the only-begotten Word, by shedding his blood, in his burning love placed all creatures in need of him. You repose in creatures who dispose themselves so that, by receiving your gifts, they may in purity receive your own image in themselves. You repose in those who receive in themselves the effect of the blood of the Word, and make themselves worthy dwelling-places for you.
Image result for Come, Holy Spirit  Come, Holy Spirit. May the union of the Father and the will of the Son come to us. You, Spirit of truth, are the reward of the saints, the refreshment of souls, light in darkness, the riches of the poor, the treasury of lovers, the satisfaction of the hungry, the consolation of the pilgrim Church; you are he in whom all treasures are contained.
  Come, you who, descending into Mary, caused the Word to take flesh: effect in us by grace what you accomplished in her by grace and nature.
  Come, you who are the nourishment of all chaste thoughts, the fountain of all clemency, the summit of all purity.
  Come, and take away from us all that hinders us from being absorbed in you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


 Image result for The sending of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house, alleluia.

A treatise "Against the Heresies" by St Irenaeus

The sending of the Holy Spirit
 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.
  He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.
  Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.
  This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.
Image result for The sending of the Holy Spirit  The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.
  If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.
 O God, Hear my call and let my voice come to you;
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Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever.
Of your goodness, Lord, keep us without sin for today.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your pity, Lord, be upon us, as much as we trust in you.
In you, Lord, I trust: let me never be put to shame.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday of the 7th week of Eastertide

An exposition of Ecclesiastes by St Gregory of Agrigentum

The Church in its unity speaks in the language of every nation
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The disciples spoke in the language of every nation. At Pentecost God chose this means to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit: whoever had received the Spirit spoke in every kind of tongue. We must realise, dear brothers, that this is the same Holy Spirit by whom love is poured out in our hearts. It was love that was to bring the Church of God together all over the world. And as individual men who received the Holy Spirit, speaks in the language of every people.
  Therefore if somebody should say to one of us, “You have received the Holy Spirit, why do you not speak in tongues?” his reply should be, “I do indeed speak in the tongues of all men, because I belong to the body of Christ, that is, the Church, and she speaks all languages. What else did the presence of the Holy Spirit indicate at Pentecost, except that God’s Church was to speak in the language of every people?”
  This way is the way in which the Lord’s promise was fulfilled: No one puts new wine into old wineskins. New wine is put into fresh skins, and so both are preserved. So when the disciples were heard speaking in all kinds of languages, some people were not far wrong in saying: They have been drinking too much new wine. The truth is that the disciples had now become fresh wineskins, renewed and made holy by grace. The new wine of the Holy Spirit filled them, so that their fervor brimmed over and they spoke in manifold tongues. By this spectacular miracle they became a sign of the Catholic Church, which embraces the language of every nation.
  Keep this feast, then, as members of the one body of Christ. It will be no empty festival for you if you really become what you are celebrating. For you are the members of that Church which the Lord acknowledges as his own, being himself acknowledged by her, that same Church which he fills with the Holy Spirit as she spreads throughout the world. He is like a bridegroom who never loses sight of his own bride; no one could ever deceive him by substituting some other woman.
  To you men of all nations, then who make up the Church of Christ, you the members of Christ, you, the body of Christ, you, the bride of Christ – to all of you the Apostle addresses these words: Bear with one another in love; do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Notice that when Paul urges us to bear with one another, he bases his argument on love, and when he speaks of our hope of unity, he emphasizes the bond of peace. This Church is the house of God. It is his delight to dwell here. Take care, then, that he never has the sorrow of seeing it undermined by schism and collapsing in ruins.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saint Rita of Cascia

From the treatise on the Trinity by Saint Hilary of Poitiers
The Father's gift in Christ
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Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.
  Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.
  From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.
  We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfil their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odour our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.
  This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favours it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendour that irradiates our understanding.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions, Martyrs

From a commentary on the gospel of John by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, bishop

If I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you
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After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word. We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit.
Saint Christopher Magallanes
  It was most fitting that the sending of the Spirit and his descent upon us should take place after the departure of Christ our Saviour. As long as Christ was with them in the flesh, it must have seemed to believers that they possessed every blessing in him; but when the time came for him to ascend to his heavenly Father, it was necessary for him to be united through his Spirit to those who worshipped him, and to dwell in our hearts through faith. Only by his own presence within us in this way could he give us confidence to cry out, Abba, Father, make it easy for us to grow in holiness and, through our possession of the all-powerful Spirit, fortify us invincibly against the wiles of the devil and the assaults of men.
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Saint Christopher Magallanes
  It can easily be shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life. Saul was told by the prophet Samuel: The Spirit of the Lord will take possession of you, and you shall be changed into another man. Saint Paul writes: As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another.
  Does this not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives? With the Spirit within them it is quite natural for people who had been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook, and for cowards to become men of great courage. There can be no doubt that this is what happened to the disciples. The strength they received from the Spirit enabled them to hold firmly to the love of Christ, facing the violence of their persecutors unafraid. Very true, then, was our Saviour’s saying that it was to their advantage for him to return to heaven: his return was the time appointed for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest

A sermon by St Bernardine of Siena

The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers
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Saint Bernardine of Siena

The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard. And how do you think such an immense, sudden and dazzling light of faith came into the world, if not because Jesus was preached? Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savor of this name that God called us into his marvellous light? When we have been enlightened, and in that same light behold the light of heaven, rightly may the apostle Paul say to us: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light.
  So this name must be proclaimed, that it may shine out and never be suppressed. But it must not be preached by someone with sullied mind or unclean lips, but stored up and poured out from a chosen vessel.
  That is why our Lord said of Saint Paul: He is a chosen instrument of mine, the vessel of my choice, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel. In this chosen vessel there was to be a drink more pleasing than earth ever knew, offered to all mankind for a price they could pay, so that they would be drawn to taste of it. Poured into other chosen vessels, it would grow and radiate splendor. For our Lord said: He is to carry my name.
  When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul’s voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.
  By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the name of Jesus at all times, but never more than when bearing witness to his faith.
  Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry wherever he journeyed: The night is passing away, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us conduct ourselves honourably as in the day. Paul himself showed forth the burning and shining light set upon a candlestick, everywhere proclaiming Jesus, and him crucified.
  And so the Church, the bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony, rejoices with the psalmist, singing: O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says: Sing to the Lord, and bless his name, proclaim his salvation day after day. And this salvation is Jesus, her saviour.