Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday 31 August 2016 Wednesday of week 22 in Ordinary Time

From a commentary on John by Origen

Christ spoke of his body as a temple

 Image result for images:  a temple of the Holy Spirit

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, August 30, 2016

Tuesday 30 August 2016 Tuesday of week 22 in Ordinary Time

The Imitation of Christ

The Truth of the Lord endures for ever
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You thunder your judgements upon me, O Lord; you shake all my bones with fear and dread, and my soul becomes severely frightened. I am bewildered when I realise that even the heavens are not pure in your sight.
  If you discovered iniquity in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me? The stars fell from heaven, and I, mere dust, what should I expect? Those whose works seemed praiseworthy fell to the depths, and I have seen those who once were fed with the bread of angels take comfort in the husks of swine.
  There is no holiness where you have withdrawn your hand, O Lord; no profitable wisdom if you cease to rule over it; no helpful strength if you cease to preserve it. If you forsake us, we sink and perish; but if you visit us, we rise up and live again. We are unstable, but you make us firm; we grow cool, but you inflame us.
  All superficial glory has been swallowed up in the depths of your judgement upon me.
  What is all flesh in your sight? Can the clay be glorified in opposition to its Maker?
  How can anyone be stirred by empty talk if his heart is subject in the truth to God?
  If a man is subject to truth, possession of the whole world cannot swell him with pride; nor will he be swayed by the flattery of his admirers, if he has established all his trust in God.
  For those who do nothing but talk amount to nothing; they fail with their din of words, but ‘the truth of the Lord endures for ev

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday 29 August 2016 The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

From a homily by St. Bede the Venerable, priest

Precursor of Christ in birth and death
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Saint John the Baptist

As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendour of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.
  There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
  Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.
  Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.
  Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday 28 August 2016 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

The Lord has had pity on us
Happy are we if we do the deeds of which we have heard and sung. Our hearing of them means having them planted in us, while our doing them shows that the seed has borne fruit. By saying this, I wish to caution you, dearly beloved, not to enter the Church fruitlessly, satisfied with mere hearing of such mighty blessings and failing to do good works. For we have been saved by his grace, says the Apostle, and not by our works, lest anyone may boast; for it is by his grace that we have been saved. It is not as if a good life of some sort came first, and that thereupon God showed his love and esteem for it from on high, saying: “Let us come to the aid of these men and assist them quickly because they are living a good life.” No, our life was displeasing to him. He will, therefore, condemn what we have done but he will save what he himself has done in us.
  We were not good, but God had pity on us and sent his Son to die, not for good men but for bad ones, not for the just but for the wicked. Yes, Christ died for the ungodly. Notice what is written next: One will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. Perhaps someone can be found who will dare to die for a good man; but for the unjust man, for the wicked one, the sinner, who would be willing to die except Christ alone who is so just that he justifies even the unjust?
  And so, my brothers, we had no good works, for all our works were evil. Yet although men’s actions were such, God in his mercy did not abandon men. He sent his Son to redeem us, not with gold or silver but at the price of his blood poured out for us. Christ, the spotless lamb, became the sacrificial victim, led to the slaughter for the sheep that were blemished – if indeed one can say that they were blemished and not entirely corrupt. Such is the grace we have received! Let us live so as to be worthy of that great grace, and not do injury to it. So mighty is the physician who has come to us that he has healed all our sins! If we choose to be sick once again, we will not only harm ourselves, but show ingratitude to the physician as well.
  Let us then follow Christ’s paths which he has revealed to us, above all the path of humility, which he himself became for us. He showed us that path by his precepts, and he himself followed it by his suffering on our behalf. In order to die for us – because as God he could not die – the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The immortal One took on mortality that he might die for us, and by dying put to death our death. This is what the Lord did, this the gift he granted to us. The mighty one was brought low, the lowly one was slain, and after he was slain, he rose again and was exalted. For he did not intend to leave us dead in hell, but to exalt in himself at the resurrection of the dead those whom he had already exalted and made just by the faith and praise they gave him. Yes, he gave us the path of humility. If we keep to it we shall confess our belief in the Lord and have good reason to sing: We shall praise you, God, we shall praise you and call upon your name.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday 27 August 2016 Saint Monica

The Confessions of St. Augustine, bishop

Let us gain eternal wisdom
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Because the day when she was to leave this life was drawing near – a day known to you, though we were ignorant of it – she and I happened to be alone, through (as I believe) the mysterious workings of your will. We stood leaning against a window which looked out on a garden within the house where we were staying, at Ostia on the Tiber; for there, far from the crowds, we were recruiting our strength after the long journey, in order to prepare ourselves for our voyage overseas. We were alone, conferring very intimately. Forgetting what lay in the past, and stretching out to what was ahead, we enquired between ourselves, in the light of present truth, into what you are and what the eternal life of the saints would be like, for Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor human heart conceived it. And yet, with the mouth of our hearts wide open we panted thirstily for the celestial streams of your fountain, the fount of life which is with you.
  This was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. Yet you know, O Lord, how on that very day, amid this talk of ours that seemed to make the world with all its charms grow cheap, she said, “For my part, my son, I no longer find pleasure in anything that this life holds. What I am doing here still, or why I am still here, I do not know, for worldly hope has withered away for me. One thing only there was for which I desired to linger in this life: to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. And my God has granted this to me more lavishly than I could have hoped, letting me see even you spurning earthly happiness to be his servant. What am I still doing here?”
  What I replied I cannot clearly remember, because just about that time – five days later, or not much more – she took to her bed with fever. One day during her illness she lapsed into unconsciousness and for a short time was unaware of her surroundings. We all came running, but she quickly returned to her senses, and, gazing at me and my brother as we stood there, she asked in puzzlement, “Where was I?”
  We were bewildered with grief, but she looked keenly at us and said, “You are to bury your mother here”. I was silent, holding back my tears, but my brother said something about his hope that she would not die far from home but in her own country, for that would be a happier way. On hearing this she looked anxious and her eyes rebuked him for thinking so; then she turned her gaze from him to me and said, “What silly talk!” Shortly afterwards, addressing us both, she said, “Lay this body anywhere, and take no trouble over it. One thing only do I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be”. Having made her meaning clear to us with such words as she could muster, she fell silent, and the pain of the disease grew worse.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday 26 August 2016 Friday of week 21 in Ordinary Time

From a commentary on Joel by St. Jerome, priest

Return to me
Return to me with all your heart and show a spirit of repentance with fasting, weeping and mourning; so that while you fast now, later you may be satisfied, while you weep now, later you may laugh, while you mourn now, you may some day enjoy consolation. It is customary for those in sorrow or adversity to tear their garments. The gospel records that the high priest did this to exaggerate the charge against our Lord and Saviour; and we read that Paul and Barnabas did so when they heard words of blasphemy. I bid you not to tear your garments but rather to rend your hearts which are laden with sin. Like wine skins, unless they have been cut open, they will burst of their own accord. After you have done this, return to the Lord your God, from whom you had been alienated by your sins. Do not despair of his mercy, no matter how great your sins, for great mercy will take away great sins.
Image result for images: rend your hearts  For the Lord is gracious and merciful and prefers the conversion of a sinner rather than his death. Patient and generous in his mercy, he does not give in to human impatience but is willing to wait a long time for our repentance. So extraordinary is the Lord’s mercy in the face of evil, that if we do penance for our sins, he regrets his own threat and does not carry out against us the sanctions he had threatened. So by the changing of our attitude, he himself is changed. But in this passage we should interpret “evil” to mean, not the opposite of virtue, but affliction, as we read in another place: Sufficient for the day are its own evils. And, again: If there is evil in the city, God did not create it.
  In like manner, given all that we have said above – that God is kind and merciful, patient, generous with his forgiveness, and extraordinary in his mercy toward evil – lest the magnitude of his clemency make us lax and negligent, he adds this word through his prophet: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent and leave behind him a blessing? In other words, he says: “I exhort you to repentance, because it is my duty, and I know that God is inexhaustibly merciful, as David says: Have mercy on me, God, according to your great mercy, and in the depths of your compassion, blot out all my iniquities. But since we cannot know the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and knowledge of God, I will temper my statement, expressing a wish rather than taking anything for granted, and I will say: Who knows whether he will not turn and repent? “ Since he says, Who, it must be understood that it is impossible or difficult to know for sure.
  To these words the prophet adds: Offerings and tribulations for the Lord our God. What he is saying to us in other words is that, God having blessed us and forgiven us our sins, we will then be able to offer sacrifice to God.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday 25 August 2016 Saint Joseph of Calasanz, Priest

From St Joseph de Calasanz to Cardinal M.A. Tonti

Let us strive to cling to Christ and please him alone
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St Joseph de Calasanz
Everybody realizes the great dignity and merit of that ministry in which men devote themselves to the education of boys, especially poor boys, so that they may learn the way to eternal life. When, in the interests of soul and body, knowledge is imparted, piety cultivated, Christian doctrine inculcated, their teachers share in a certain manner in the work of their guardian angels.
  Help of the most excellent kind is given to young people, whatever their origin or station, so that not only are they preserved from evil but they are more easily and gently drawn towards good. It is universally accepted that when the young receive such aid, they become so much changed for the better as to be no longer recognizable for what they previously were. The young, like tender plants, are easily trained in the desired direction, but if allowed to toughen, we find that our best efforts may fail to correct their wills.
  The education of youth, particularly of the poor, while it assists them to grow in human dignity, also concerns all members of Christian society. Parents rejoice to see their children being led along the right path; civil authorities approve the formation of good-living subjects and citizens. The Church especially has cause to be glad, for, as lovers of Christ and defenders of the gospel, the young are more speedily and efficaciously brought into her many and varied fields of life and action.
  Those who undertake this work of teaching, surely a task to be carried out with the greatest care, must be endowed with overflowing charity, inexhaustible patience, and, above all, profound humility. So may they be found worthy for the Lord, in answer to their humble entreaties, to make them fellow-workers with Truth itself; may he strengthen them to carry out their noble office, and finally, may he grant them a heavenly reward in accordance with the saying: ‘Those who instruct many in virtue will shine like stars for all eternity.’
  They will attain more easily to this, if, having made profession of perpetual service, they strive wholeheartedly to cleave to Christ and to please him only, who said: ‘Whatever you did to one of the least of my little ones, you did it to me.’

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday 24 August 2016 Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

From a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom, bishop

The weakness of God is stronger than men
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It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgement, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!
  In what way is it stronger? It made its way throughout the world and overcame all men; countless men sought to eradicate the very name of the Crucified, but that name flourished and grew ever mightier. Its enemies lost out and perished; the living who waged a war on a dead man proved helpless. Therefore, when a Greek tells me I am dead, he shows only that he is foolish indeed, for I, whom he thinks a fool, turn out to be wiser than those reputed wise. So too, in calling me weak, he but shows that he is weaker still. For the good deeds which tax-collectors and fishermen were able to accomplish by God’s grace, the philosophers, the rulers, the countless multitudes cannot even imagine.
  Paul had this in mind when he said: The weakness of God is stronger than men. That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or a public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him!
  How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?
  It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday 23 August 2016 Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin

From the writings of Saint Rose of Lima, virgin

Let us know the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding
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Our Lord and Saviour lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”
  When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions.
  We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.”
  That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant. I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:
  “If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday 22 August 2016 Our Lady, Mother and Queen

From a homily by St. Amadeus of Lausanne, bishop

Queen of the world and of peace
Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honor due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.
  So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbors with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.
  Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?
  She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channeled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings, amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday 21 August 2016 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council

The foreshadowing of the new age
 Image result for images: when Christ hands over to the Father an eternal and everlasting kingdom
We do not know the time when earth and humanity will reach their completion, nor do we know the way in which the universe will be transformed. The world as we see it, disfigured by sin, is passing away. But we are sure that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth. In this new earth righteousness is to make its home, and happiness will satisfy, and more than satisfy, all the yearnings for peace that arise in human hearts. On that day, when death is conquered, the sons of God will be raised up in Christ; what was sown as something weak and perishable will be clothed in incorruption. Love and the fruits of love will remain, and the whole of creation, made by God for man, will be set free from the frustration that enslaves it.
  We are warned indeed that a man gains nothing if he wins the whole world at the cost of himself. Yet our hope in a new earth should not weaken, but rather stimulate our concern for developing this earth, for on it there is growing up the body of a new human family, a body even now able to provide some foreshadowing of the new age. Hence, though earthly progress is to be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ’s kingdom, yet in so far as it can help toward the better ordering of human society it is of great importance to the kingdom of God.
  The blessings of human dignity, brotherly communion and freedom – all the good fruits on earth of man’s co-operation with nature in the Spirit of the Lord and according to his command – will be found again in the world to come, but purified of all stain, resplendent and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father an eternal and everlasting kingdom: “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” On this earth the kingdom is already present in sign; when the Lord comes it will reach its completion.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday 20 August 2016 Saint Bernard, Abbot, Doctor

From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot

I love because I love, I love that I may love
Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.
  The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?
  Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.
  What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday 19 August 2016 Saint John Eudes, Priest

From a treatise on the admirable Heart of Jesus by Saint John Eudes, priest

The source of salvation and true life
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I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours: breath, heart, body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love and glory. You belong to him as a member belongs to the head. This is why he earnestly desires you to serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were his. He belongs to you, but more than that, he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He desires that whatever is in him may live and rule in you: his breath in your breath, his heart in your heart, all the faculties of his soul in the faculties of your soul, so that these words may be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.
  You belong to the Son of God, but more than that, you ought to be in him as the members are in the head. All that is in you must be incorporated into him. You must receive life from him and be ruled by him. There will be no true life for you except in him, for he is the one source of true life. Apart from him you will find only death and destruction. Let him be the only source of your movements, of the actions and the strength of your life. He must be both the source and the purpose of your life, so that you may fulfil these words: None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as his servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
  Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy Eucharist they are brought to perfection.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday 18 August 2016 Thursday of week 20 in Ordinary Time

Baldwin of Canterbury's Treatise on the Angel's Greeting

A flower grew up from the root of Jesse
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To the angel’s greeting, with which we greet the blessed Virgin daily with such devotion as is granted us, we are accustomed to add, ‘and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’ It was Elizabeth who, after she had been greeted by the Virgin, added these words, as though repeating the end of the angel’s salutation, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’ This is the fruit of which Isaiah speaks: ‘In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.’ What else is this fruit but the holy one of Israel, himself the seed of Abraham, the Lord’s branch, and the flower growing up from the root of Jesse, the fruit of life which we share?
  Blessed truly in the seed and blessed in the branch, blessed in the flower, blessed in his office, blessed in our thanksgiving and praise, Christ the seed of Abraham was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.
  He alone among men is found perfected in every good, he who has been given the Spirit not by measure, so that he alone can fulfill all justice. His justice is sufficient for all peoples, according to the scriptures: ‘As the earth brings forth its shoot, and a garden makes its seed sprout up, so will the Lord bring forth justice and glory before all peoples.’ This is the shoot of justice which grows by blessing and is adorned by the flower of glory. And of what glory? A glory as sublime as can be imagined — indeed so sublime as cannot be imagined. For the flower grows up from the root of Jesse. To what height? To the highest possible point, since ‘Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.’ His greatness is raised up above the heavens, so that he may be the Lord’s branch in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth on high.
  What fruit is there for us in this fruit? What else but the fruit of blessing from the blessed fruit? From this seed, this shoot, and this flower, proceeds the fruit of blessing; it reaches as far as ourselves: first, as it were the seed, through the grace of forgiveness; then, as in the shoot, through growth in righteousness; lastly, as in the flower, through the hope or the attaining of glory. For he is blessed by God, and in God — that is, so that God may be glorified in him; he is blessed also for us, so that blessed by him we may be glorified in him, since through the promise spoken to Abraham God gave him the blessing of all nations.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday 17 August 2016 Wednesday of week 20 in Ordinary Time

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

He who perseveres to the end will be saved
 Image result for images:He who perseveres to the end will be saved
Whenever we suffer some distress or tribulation, there we find warning and correction for ourselves. Our holy scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the gospel is not silent about scandals; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has this life of ours ever been, from the time of the first man, from when he deserved death and received the curse, that curse from which Christ our Lord delivered us?
  So we must not complain, brothers, as some of them complained, as the apostle says, and perished from the serpents. What fresh sort of suffering, brothers, does the human race now endure that our fathers did not undergo? Or when do we endure the kind of sufferings which we know they endured? Yet you find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the times of their parents, and should then complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now.
  If you have now been delivered from the curse, if you have now believed in the Son of God; if you are now well versed or trained in sacred scripture, I am surprised that you should reckon Adam to have had good times. Your parents carried the burden of Adam as well. Indeed it was Adam who heard the words: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, and you shall work the ground from which you were taken; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you. He deserved this, he received this, he was given this as the result of God’s just judgement. Why then do you think past times were better than yours? From that Adam to the Adam of today, toil and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood? Have we forgotten those burdensome times of famine and wars? They were written about to prevent us complaining of the present time against God.
  What times those were! Do not we all shudder to hear or read of them? So we have rather cause for congratulating ourselves than grounds for complaining about our own times.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday 16 August 2016 Saint Stephen of Hungary

From admonitions to his son by Saint Stephen

Son, listen to your father's instruction
My dearest son, if you desire to honor the royal crown, I advise, I counsel, I urge you above all things to maintain the Catholic and apostolic faith with such diligence and care that you may be an example for all those placed under you by God and that all the clergy may rightly call you a man of true Christian profession. Failing to do this, you may be sure that you will not be called a Christian or a son of the Church. Indeed, in the royal palace – after the faith itself – the Church holds second place, first propagated as she was by our head, Christ; then transplanted, firmly constituted and spread through the whole world by his members, the apostles and holy fathers. And though she always produced fresh offspring, nevertheless in certain places she is regarded as ancient.
  However, dearest son, even now in our kingdom the Church is proclaimed as young and newly planted; and for that reason she needs more prudent and trustworthy guardians lest a benefit which the divine mercy bestowed on us undeservedly should be destroyed and annihilated through your idleness, indolence or neglect.
  My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak.
  Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up too much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honourable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.
  All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday 15 August 2016 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Your body is holy and glorious
In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.
  Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her Son and to be honoured by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.
  St Germanus of Constantinople considered that the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.
  Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our savior and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.
  All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.
  It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
  So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.