Monday, January 31, 2011

Let Your Hearts Take Comfort, All Who Hope In The Lord.

Memorial of Saint John Bosco, priest
Reading I
Hebrews 11:32-40
Brothers and sisters:
What more shall I say?
I have not time to tell
of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah,
of David and Samuel and the prophets,
who by faith conquered kingdoms,
did what was righteous, obtained the promises;
they closed the mouths of lions,
put out raging fires,
escaped the devouring sword;
out of weakness they were made powerful,
became strong in battle,
and turned back foreign invaders.
Women received back their dead
through resurrection.
Some were tortured
and would not accept deliverance,
in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Others endured mockery, scourging,
even chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, sawed in two,
put to death at sword’s point;
they went about in skins of sheep or goats,
needy, afflicted, tormented.
The world was not worthy of them.
They wandered about in deserts and on mountains,
in caves and in crevices in the earth.

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith,
did not receive what had been promised.
God had foreseen something better for us,
so that without us they should not be made perfect.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 31
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
Blessed be the LORD whose wondrous mercy
he has shown me in a fortified city.
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
Once I said in my anguish,
“I am cut off from your sight”;
Yet you heard the sound of my pleading
when I cried out to you.
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.
R. Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Mark 5:1-20
Jesus and his disciples came
to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs
who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer,
even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound
with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart
by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me,
Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him,
“Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “Legion is my name.
There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine
was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
And he let them,
and the unclean spirits came out
and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand
rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away
and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man
who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident
explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed
pleaded to remain with him
But Jesus would not permit him
but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off
and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
St. John Bosco

John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play.

Encouraged during his youth to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.

After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, John opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.

By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. His interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.

John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854 he and his followers informally banded together under Francis de Sales.

With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.

John Bosco educated the whole person—body and soul united. He believed that Christ’s love and our faith in that love should pervade everything we do—work, study, play. For John Bosco, being a Christian was a full-time effort, not a once-a-week, Mass-on-Sunday experience. It is searching and finding God and Jesus in everything we do, letting their love lead us. Yet, John realized the importance of job-training and the self-worth and pride that comes with talent and ability so he trained his students in the trade crafts, too.

“Every education teaches a philosophy; if not by dogma then by suggestion, by implication, by atmosphere. Every part of that education has a connection with every other part. If it does not all combine to convey some general view of life, it is not education at all” (G.K. Chesterton, The Common Man).

Patron Saint of:

Saint of the Day

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit; The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Theirs!

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,
who have observed his law;
seek justice, seek humility;
perhaps you may be sheltered
on the day of the LORD’s anger.

But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
who shall take refuge
in the name of the LORD:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
they shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 146
 R: Blessed the poor in spirit;
the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit;
the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those
who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit;
the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
The fatherless and the widow
the LORD sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit;
the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
+++    +++    +++    +++
Reading II
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Consider your own calling,
brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise
by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world
to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world
to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly
and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing
those who are something,
so that no human being
might boast before God.
It is due to him
that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
“Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”
Matthew 5:1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down,
his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst
for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you
when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil
against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
St. Hyacintha of Mariscotti

Hyacintha accepted God’s standards somewhat late in life. Born of a noble family near Viterbo, she entered a local convent of sisters who followed the Third Order Rule. However, she supplied herself with enough food, clothing and other goods to live a very comfortable life amid these sisters pledged to mortification.

A serious illness required that Hyacintha’s confessor bring Holy Communion to her room. Scandalized on seeing how soft a life she had provided for herself, the confessor advised her to live more humbly. Hyacintha disposed of her fine clothes and special foods. She eventually became very penitential in food and clothing; she was ready to do the most humble work in the convent. She developed a special devotion to the sufferings of Christ and by her penances became an inspiration to the sisters in her convent. She was canonized in 1807.

How differently might Hyacintha’s life have ended if her confessor had been afraid to question her pursuit of a soft life! Or what if she had refused to accept any challenge to her comfortable pattern of life? Francis of Assisi expected give and take in fraternal correction among his followers. Humility is required both of the one giving it and of the one receiving the correction; their roles could easily be reversed in the future. Such correction is really an act of charity and should be viewed that way by all concerned.

Francis told his friars: "Blessed is the servant who would accept correction, accusation, and blame from another as patiently as he would from himself. Blessed is the servant who when he is rebuked quietly agrees, respectfully submits, humbly admits his fault, and willingly makes amends."
(Admonition XXII).

Saint of the Day

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blessed Be The Lord The God Of Israel: He Has Come To His People.

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith Abraham obeyed
when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out,
not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land
as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob,
heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward
to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
and Sarah herself was sterile
for he thought that the one
who had made the promise was trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be
strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show
that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land
from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire
a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed
to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test,
offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises
was ready to offer his only son,
of whom it was said,
Through Isaac descendants
shall bear your name.
He reasoned that God was able
to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old.
that he would save us from our sins
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the bonds of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Mark 4:35-41
On that day, as evening drew on,
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd,
they took Jesus with them in the boat
just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up
and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe
and said to one another,
“Who then is this
whom even wind and sea obey?”
Servant of God Brother Juniper
(d. 1258)

"Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers," said Francis of this holy friar.
We don’t know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish "places" for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars!

Another time Juniper had been commanded to quit giving part of his clothing to the half-naked people he met on the road. Desiring to obey his superior, Juniper once told a man in need that he couldn’t give the man his tunic, but he wouldn’t prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away.

He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.

What can we make of Juniper? He certainly seems to be the first of many Franciscan "characters." No doubt some of the stories about him have improved considerably in the retelling. Although the stories about Juniper may seem a little quaint, his virtues were not. He was humble because he knew the truth about God, himself and others. He was patient because he was willing to suffer ("patience" comes from patior meaning "to suffer") in his following of Jesus.

It is said that St. Francis once described the perfect friar by citing "the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind, whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the cross" (Mirror of Perfection, #85).

Saint of the Day

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Just One Shall Live By Faith.

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas,
priest and doctor of the Church
Reading I
Hebrews 10:32-39
Remember the days past when,
after you had been enlightened,
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed
to abuse and affliction;
at other times you associated yourselves
with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings
of those in prison
and joyfully accepted
the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had
a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance
to do the will of God
and receive what he has promised.

For, after just a brief moment,
he who is to come shall come;
he shall not delay.
But my just one shall live by faith,
and if he draws back
I take no pleasure in him.

We are not among those
who draw back and perish,
but among those who have faith
and will possess life.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 37
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Trust in the LORD and do good,
that you may dwell in the land
and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will grant you your heart’s requests.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn
for you like the light;
bright as the noonday
shall be your vindication.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
By the LORD are the steps of a man made firm,
and he approves his way.
Though he fall, he does not lie prostrate,
for the hand of the LORD sustains him.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them
and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked
and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
R. The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear,
then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe,
he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that,
when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up
and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky
can dwell in its shade.”

With many such parables
he spoke the word to them
as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples
he explained everything in private.
St. Thomas Aquinas

By universal consent, Thomas Aquinas is the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor.

At five he was given to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in his parents’ hopes that he would choose that way of life and eventually became abbot. In 1239 he was sent to Naples to complete his studies. It was here that he was first attracted to Aristotle’s philosophy.

By 1243, Thomas abandoned his family’s plans for him and joined the Dominicans, much to his mother’s dismay. On her order, Thomas was captured by his brother and kept at home for over a year.

Once free, he went to Paris and then to Cologne, where he finished his studies with Albert the Great. He held two professorships at Paris, lived at the court of Pope Urban IV, directed the Dominican schools at Rome and Viterbo, combated adversaries of the mendicants, as well as the Averroists, and argued with some Franciscans about Aristotelianism.

His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The unity, harmony and continuity of faith and reason, of revealed and natural human knowledge, pervades his writings. One might expect Thomas, as a man of the gospel, to be an ardent defender of revealed truth. But he was broad enough, deep enough, to see the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and to see reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished.

The Summa Theologiae, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied, “I cannot go on.... All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” He died March 7, 1274.

We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality and inclusiveness. We should be determined anew to exercise the divine gift of reason in us, our power to know, learn and understand. At the same time we should thank God for the gift of his revelation, especially in Jesus Christ.

“Hence we must say that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act. But he does not need a new light added to his natural light, in order to know the truth in all things, but only in some that surpasses his natural knowledge” (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 109, 1).

Patron Saint of:
Catholic schools

Saint of the Day

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take Care, For the Measure You Measure With Will Be Measured Out To You.

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 10:19-25
Brothers and sisters:
Since through the Blood of Jesus
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary
by the new and living way
he opened for us through the veil,
that is, his flesh,
and since we have
“a great priest over the house of God,”
let us approach with a sincere heart
and in absolute trust,
with our hearts sprinkled clean
from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession
that gives us hope,
for he who made the promise is trustworthy.
We must consider how to rouse one another
to love and good works.
We should not stay away from our assembly,
as is the custom of some,
but encourage one another,
and this all the more
as you see the day drawing near.
+++    +++     +++    +++
Psalm 24
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 4:21-25
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed
under a bushel basket or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden
except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure
will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.”
St. Angela Merici

Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women.

As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.

She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.

She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.

At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.

As with so many saints, history is mostly concerned with their activities. But we must always presume deep Christian faith and love in one whose courage lasts a lifetime, and who can take bold new steps when human need demands.

In a time when change is problematic to many, it may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to her sisters: “If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it with prudence and good advice.”

Saint of the Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Proclaim God's Marvelous Deeds To All The Nations.

Memorial of Saint Timothy and Saint Titus, bishops
Reading I
2 Timothy 1:1-8
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience
as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly
in my prayers, night and day.
I yearn to see you again,
recalling your tears,
so that I may be filled with joy,
as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.

For this reason, I remind you
to stir into flame the gift of God
that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.


Titus 1:1-5 
Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ
for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones
and the recognition of religious truth,
in the hope of eternal life
that God, who does not lie,
promised before time began,
who indeed at the proper time
revealed his word
in the proclamation
with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith:
grace and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our savior.

For this reason I left you in Crete
so that you might set right
what remains to be done
and appoint presbyters in every town,
as I directed you.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 96
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all you lands.
Sing to the Lord; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the Lord, you families of nations,
give to the Lord glory and praise;
give to the Lord the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Say among the nations: The Lord is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 4:1-20
On another occasion,
Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction
he said to them,

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground
where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once
because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose,
it was scorched and it withered
for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil
and produced fruit.
It came up and grew
and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything
comes in parables, so that

they may look and see
but not perceive,
and hear and listen
but not understand,
in order that they may not
be converted and be forgiven.”

Jesus said to them,
“Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand
any of the parables?

The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path
where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear,
Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.

And these are the ones
sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word,
receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots;
they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes
because of the word,
they quickly fall away.

Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things
intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.

But those sown on rich soil are the ones
who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty
and a hundredfold.”
Saints Timothy and Titus

Timothy (d. 97?): What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried bishop. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local Churches which Paul had founded.

Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.

Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. (“Let no one have contempt for your youth,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12a.) Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus (d. 94?): Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel: “When I went to Troas...I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.... For even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus...” (2 Corinthians 2:12a, 13; 7:5-6). 

When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.... And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses and appointing presbyter-bishops.

In Titus we get another glimpse of life in the early Church: great zeal in the apostolate, great communion in Christ, great friendship. Yet always there is the problem of human nature and the unglamorous details of daily life: the need for charity and patience in “quarrels with others, fears within myself,” as Paul says. Through it all, the love of Christ sustained them. At the end of the Letter to Titus, Paul says that when the temporary substitute comes, “hurry to me.”

“But when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy” (Titus 3:4-8).

Patron Saint of:
Stomach disorders

Saint of the Day

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go Out To All The World And Tell The Good News.

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the Apostle
Reading I
Acts 22:3-16
Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel
I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God,
just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women
and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest
and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received
letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus
to bring back to Jerusalem in chains
for punishment those there as well.
“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky
suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground
and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean
whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice
of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me,
‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told
about everything appointed for you to do.’
Since I could see nothing
because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions
and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias,
a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of
by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment
I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors
designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One,
and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized
and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”


Acts 9:1-22
Saul, still breathing murderous threats
against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus,
that, if he should find any men or women
who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.

On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came,
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city
and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with him
stood speechless, for they heard the voice
but could see no one.

Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes
he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand
and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see,
and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him,
“Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas
for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen
a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”

But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources
about this man,
what evil things he has done
to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”

But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles,
kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him
what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you
on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight
and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten,
he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days
with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once
to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said,
“Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly
to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?”
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews
who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 117
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
 Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 16:15-18
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The Conversion of St. Paul

Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal — being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people — the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a).

Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new.

So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.

Paul is undoubtedly hard to understand. His style often reflects the rabbinical style of argument of his day, and often his thought skips on mountaintops while we plod below. But perhaps our problems are accentuated by the fact that so many beautiful jewels have become part of the everyday coin in our Christian language.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Saint of the Day

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sing To the Lord A New Song, For He Has Done Marvelous Deeds.

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales,
bishop and doctor of the Church
Reading I
Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
Christ is mediator of a new covenant:
since a death has taken place
for deliverance from transgressions
under the first covenant,
those who are called may receive
the promised eternal inheritance.

For Christ did not enter into
a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one,
but heaven itself,
that he might now appear
before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year
into the sanctuary with blood
that is not his own; if that were so,
he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all
he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed
that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 98
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 3:22-30
The scribes who had come
from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began
to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house
to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

St. Francis de Sales

Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder’s place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for the Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.

At 35 he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”

Besides his two well-known books, The Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman.... It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world. ”

In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he had time to collaborate with another saint, Jeanne Frances de Chantal (August 12), in the work of establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.

Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”

Francis de Sales tells us: “The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.”

Patron Saint of:

Saint of the Day

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The People Who Sit In Darkness Have Seen A Great Light

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Isaiah 8:23-9:3-1
First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified
the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom
where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 27
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Reading II
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
I urge you, brothers and sisters,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united
in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me
about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people,
that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize
but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ
might not be emptied of its meaning.
Matthew 4:12-23
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth
and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land
overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there
and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee,
mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat
and their father and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Blessed Mother Marianne Cope

Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th-century Hawaii, that disease sparked great generosity in the woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai. Her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii, a territory annexed to the United States during her lifetime (1898).

Mother Marianne’s generosity and courage were celebrated at her May 14, 2005, beatification in Rome. She was a woman who spoke “the language of truth and love” to the world, said Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Cardinal Martins, who presided at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, called her life “a wonderful work of divine grace.” Speaking of her special love for persons suffering from leprosy, he said, “She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.” 

On January 23, 1838, a daughter was born to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. The girl was named after her mother. Two years later the Cope family immigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara worked in a factory until August 1862, when she went to the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After profession in November of the next year, she began teaching at Assumption parish school.

Marianne held the post of superior in several places and was twice the novice mistress of her congregation. A natural leader, three different times she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much that would be useful during her years in Hawaii.

Elected provincial in 1877, Mother Marianne was unanimously re-elected in 1881. Two years later the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to run the Kakaako Receiving Station for people suspected of having leprosy. More than 50 religious communities in the United States and Canada were asked. When the request was put to the Syracuse sisters, 35 of them volunteered immediately. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu; on the island of Maui they also opened a hospital and a school for girls.

In 1888, Mother Marianne and two sisters went to Molokai to open a home for “unprotected women and girls” there. The Hawaiian government was quite hesitant to send women for this difficult assignment; they need not have worried about Mother Marianne! On Molokai she took charge of the home that Blessed Damien DeVeuster (d. 1889) had established for men and boys. Mother Marianne changed life on Molokai by introducing cleanliness, pride and fun to the colony. Bright scarves and pretty dresses for the women were part of her approach.

Awarded the Royal Order of Kapiolani by the Hawaiian government and celebrated in a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mother Marianne continued her work faithfully. Her sisters have attracted vocations among the Hawaiian people and still work on Molokai.

Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918.

The government authorities were reluctant to allow Mother Marianne to be a mother on Molokai. Thirty years of dedication proved their fears unfounded. God grants gifts regardless of human short-sightedness and allows those gifts to flower for the sake of the kingdom.

Soon after Mother Marianne died, Mrs. John F. Bowler wrote in the Honolulu Advertiser, “Seldom has the opportunity come to a woman to devote every hour of 30 years to the mothering of people isolated by law from the rest of the world. She risked her own life in all that time, faced everything with unflinching courage and smiled sweetly through it all.”

Saint of the Day

Saturday, January 22, 2011

God Mounts His Throne Amid Shouts Of Joy; The LORD, Amid Trumpet Blasts

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14
A tabernacle was constructed, the outer one,
in which were the lampstand, the table,
and the bread of offering;
this is called the Holy Place.
Behind the second veil was the tabernacle
called the Holy of Holies.

But when Christ came as high priest
of the good things that have come to be,
passing through the greater
and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands,
that is, not belonging to this creation,
he entered once for all into the sanctuary,
not with the blood of goats and calves
but with his own Blood,
thus obtaining eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls
and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes
can sanctify those who are defiled
so that their flesh is cleansed,
how much more will the Blood of Christ,
who through the eternal spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works
to worship the living God.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 47
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: 
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
For king of all the earth is God:
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Mark 3:20-21
Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this
they set out to seize him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
St. Vincent
(d. 304)

When Jesus deliberately began his “journey” to death, Luke says that he “set his face” to go to Jerusalem. It is this quality of rocklike courage that distinguishes the martyrs.

Most of what we know about this saint comes from the poet Prudentius. His Acts have been rather freely colored by the imagination of their compiler. But St. Augustine, in one of his sermons on St. Vincent, speaks of having the Acts of his martyrdom before him. We are at least sure of his name, his being a deacon, the place of his death and burial.

According to the story we have (and as with some of the other early martyrs the unusual devotion he inspired must have had a basis in a very heroic life), Vincent was ordained deacon by his friend St. Valerius of Zaragossa in Spain. The Roman emperors had published their edicts against the clergy in 303, and the following year against the laity. Vincent and his bishop were imprisoned in Valencia. Hunger and torture failed to break them. Like the youths in the fiery furnace (Book of Daniel, chapter three), they seemed to thrive on suffering.

Valerius was sent into exile, and Dacian, the Roman governor, now turned the full force of his fury on Vincent. Tortures that sound like those of World War II were tried. But their main effect was the progressive disintegration of Dacian himself. He had the torturers beaten because they failed.

Finally he suggested a compromise: Would Vincent at least give up the sacred books to be burned according to the emperor’s edict? He would not. Torture on the gridiron continued, the prisoner remaining courageous, the torturer losing control of himself. Vincent was thrown into a filthy prison cell — and converted the jailer. Dacian wept with rage, but strangely enough, ordered the prisoner to be given some rest.

Friends among the faithful came to visit him, but he was to have no earthly rest. When they finally settled him on a comfortable bed, he went to his eternal rest.

The martyrs are heroic examples of what God’s power can do. It is humanly impossible, we realize, for someone to go through tortures such as Vincent had and remain faithful. But it is equally true that by human power alone no one can remain faithful even without torture or suffering. God does not come to our rescue at isolated, “special” moments. God is supporting the supercruisers as well as children’s toy boats.

“Wherever it was that Christians were put to death, their executions did not bear the semblance of a triumph. Exteriorly they did not differ in the least from the executions of common criminals. But the moral grandeur of a martyr is essentially the same, whether he preserved his constancy in the arena before thousands of raving spectators or whether he perfected his martyrdom forsaken by all upon a pitiless flayer’s field” (The Roman Catacombs, Hertling-Kirschbaum).

Saint of the Day

Friday, January 21, 2011

Truth Shall Spring Out Of The Earth, And Justice Shall Look Down From Heaven

Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr
Reading I
Hebrews 8:6-13
Brothers and sisters:
Now our high priest has obtained
so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant,
enacted on better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless,
no place would have been sought for a second one.
But he finds fault with them and says:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will conclude a new covenant
with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand to lead
them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they did not stand by my covenant
and I ignored them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant
I will establish with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds
and I will write them upon their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach,
each one his fellow citizen and kin, saying,
“Know the Lord,”
for all shall know me, from least to greatest.
For I will forgive their evildoing
and remember their sins no more.

When he speaks of a “new” covenant,
he declares the first one obsolete.
And what has become obsolete
and has grown old is close to disappearing.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 85
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
Show us, O LORD, your mercy,
and grant us your salvation.
Near indeed is his salvation
to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 3:13-19
Jesus went up the mountain
and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve,
whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James,
whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
St. Agnes
(d. 258?)

Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young — 12 or 13 — when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. Various modes of death have been suggested — beheading, burning, strangling.

Legend has it she was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. She was condemned, executed and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.

Like that of modern Maria Goretti, the martyrdom of a virginal young girl made a deep impression on a society enslaved to a materialistic outlook. Like Agatha, who died in similar circumstances, Agnes is a symbol that holiness does not depend on length of years, experience or human effort. It is a gift God offers to all.

Patron Saint of:

Saint of the Day

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here Am I, LORD; I Come To Do Your Will

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 7:25--8:6
Jesus is always able to save those
who approach God through him,
since he lives forever
to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,
higher than the heavens.
He has no need, as did the high priests,
to offer sacrifice day after day,
first for his own sins
and then for those of the people;
he did that once for all
when he offered himself.
For the law appoints men subject to weakness
to be high priests,
but the word of the oath,
which was taken after the law,
appoints a son,
who has been made perfect forever.

The main point of what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest,
who has taken his seat
at the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in heaven,
a minister of the sanctuary
and of the true tabernacle
that the Lord, not man, set up.

Now every high priest is appointed
to offer gifts and sacrifices;
thus the necessity for this one also
to have something to offer.
If then he were on earth,
he would not be a priest,
since there are those who offer gifts
according to the law.
They worship in a copy and shadow
of the heavenly sanctuary,
as Moses was warned
when he was about to erect the tabernacle.
For God says, “See that you make everything
according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Now he has obtained
so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant,
enacted on better promises.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 40
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 3:7-12
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed
from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people
came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him
because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result,
those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him
they would fall down before him
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
St. Sebastian

Nothing is historically certain about St. Sebastian except that he was a Roman martyr, was venerated in Milan even in the time of St. Ambrose and was buried on the Appian Way, probably near the present Basilica of St. Sebastian. Devotion to him spread rapidly, and he is mentioned in several martyrologies as early as A.D. 350.

The legend of St. Sebastian is important in art, and there is a vast iconography. Scholars now agree that a pious fable has Sebastian entering the Roman army because only there could he assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion. Finally he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee. One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. HE was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name.

The fact that many of the early saints made such a tremendous impression on the Church—awakening widespread devotion and great praise from the greatest writers of the Church—is proof of the heroism of their lives. As has been said, legends may not be literally true. Yet they may express the very substance of the faith and courage evident in the lives of these heroes and heroines of Christ.

Patron Saint of:

Saint of the Day

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Are A Priest Forever, In The Line Of Melchizedek

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17
Melchizedek, king of Salem
and priest of God Most High,
met Abraham as he returned
from his defeat of the kings
and blessed him.
And Abraham apportioned to him
a tenth of everything.
His name first means righteous king,
and he was also “king of Salem,”
that is, king of peace.
Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
thus made to resemble the Son of God,
he remains a priest forever.

It is even more obvious
if another priest is raised up
after the likeness of Melchizedek,
who has become so,
not by a law expressed in a commandment
concerning physical descent
but by the power of a life
that cannot be destroyed.

For it is testified:
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Psalm 110
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD
will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power
in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew,
I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn,
and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Mark 3:1-6
Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there
who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
St. Fabian
(c. 250)

Fabian was a Roman layman who came into the city from his farm one day as clergy and people were preparing to elect a new pope. Eusebius, a Church historian, says a dove flew in and settled on the head of Fabian. This sign united the votes of clergy and laity and he was chosen unanimously.

He led the Church for 14 years and died a martyr’s death during the persecution of Decius in a.d. 250. St. Cyprian wrote to his successor that Fabian was an “incomparable” man whose glory in death matched the holiness and purity of his life.

In the catacombs of St. Callistus, the stone that covered Fabian’s grave may still be seen, broken into four pieces, bearing the Greek words, “Fabian, bishop, martyr.”

We can go confidently into the future and accept the change that growth demands only if we have firm roots in the past, in a living tradition. A few pieces of stone in Rome are a reminder to us that we are bearers of more than 20 centuries of a living tradition of faith and courage in living the life of Christ and showing it to the world. We have brothers and sisters who have “gone before us marked with the sign of faith,” as the First Eucharistic Prayer puts it, to light the way for us.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Tertullian).

Saint of the Day

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Son Of Man Is Lord, Even Of The Sabbath.

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 6:10-20
Brothers and sisters:
God is not unjust
so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated
for his name by having served
and continuing to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you
to demonstrate the same eagerness
for the fulfillment of hope until the end,
so that you may not become sluggish,
but imitators of those who,
through faith and patience,
are inheriting the promises.

When God made the promise to Abraham,
since he had no one greater by whom to swear,
he swore by himself, and said,
I will indeed bless you and multiply you.
And so, after patient waiting,
Abraham obtained the promise.
Now, men swear by someone
greater than themselves;
for them an oath serves as a guarantee
and puts an end to all argument.
So when God wanted
to give the heirs of his promise
an even clearer demonstration
of the immutability of his purpose,
he intervened with an oath,
so that by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we who have taken refuge
might be strongly encouraged
to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul,
sure and firm, which reaches
into the interior behind the veil,
where Jesus has entered
on our behalf as forerunner,
becoming high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 111
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through
a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path
while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing
what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need
and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God
when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering
that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man,
not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man
is lord even of the sabbath.”
St. Charles of Sezze

Charles thought that God was calling him to be a missionary in India, but he never got there. God had something better for this 17th-century successor to Brother Juniper.

Born in Sezze, southeast of Rome, Charles was inspired by the lives of Salvator Horta and Paschal Baylon to become a Franciscan; he did that in 1635. Charles tells us in his autobiography, "Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a lay brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love."

Charles served as cook, porter, sacristan, gardener and beggar at various friaries in Italy. In some ways, he was "an accident waiting to happen." He once started a huge fire in the kitchen when the oil in which he was frying onions burst into flames.

One story shows how thoroughly Charles adopted the spirit of St. Francis. The superior ordered Charles — then porter — to give food only to traveling friars who came to the door. Charles obeyed this direction; simultaneously the alms to the friars decreased. Charles convinced the superior the two facts were related. When the friars resumed giving goods to all who asked at the door, alms to the friars increased also.

At the direction of his confessor Charles wrote his autobiography, The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God. He also wrote several other spiritual books. He made good use of his various spiritual directors throughout the years; they helped him discern which of Charles’ ideas or ambitions were from God. Charles himself was sought out for spiritual advice. The dying Pope Clement IX called Charles to his bedside for a blessing.

Charles had a firm sense of God’s providence. Father Severino Gori has said, "By word and example he recalled in all the need of pursuing only that which is eternal" (Leonard Perotti, St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page 215).

He died at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome and was buried there. Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1959.

The drama in the lives of the saints is mostly interior. Charles’ life was spectacular only in his cooperation with God’s grace. He was captivated by God’s majesty and great mercy to all of us.

Father Gori says that the autobiography of Charles "stands as a very strong refutation of the opinion, quite common among religious people, that saints are born saints, that they are privileged right from their first appearance on this earth. This is not so. Saints become saints in the usual way, due to the generous fidelity of their correspondence to divine grace. They had to fight just as we do, and more so, against their passions, the world and the devil" (St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page viii).

Saint of the Day

Monday, January 17, 2011

You Are A Priest Forever, In The Line Of Melchizedek

Memorial of Saint Anthony, abbot
Reading I
Hebrews 5:1-10
Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently
with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason,
must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself
in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;
just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
In the days when he was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications
with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able
to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was,
he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation
for all who obey him.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Psalm 110
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power
the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
Yours is princely power
in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew,
I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever,
in the line of Melchizedek.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 2:18-22
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees
were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John
and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them
they cannot fast.
But the days will come
when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth
on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine
into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
St. Anthony of Egypt

The life of Anthony will remind many people of St. Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor” (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony’s life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again like Francis, he had great fear of “stately buildings and well-laden tables.”

At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. “The mule kicking over the altar” denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil — the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for “the book of nature” over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at 105.

In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a “rat race,” one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony’s hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God’s good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.

Saint of the Day