Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 2:1-12

The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he turned to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’


Hebrews 4:1-5,11

None of you has come too late for God’s promise

Be careful: the promise of reaching the place of rest that God had for the Israelites still holds good, and none of you must think that he has come too late for it. We received the Good News exactly as they did; but hearing the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who listened. We, however, who have faith, shall reach a place of rest, as in the text: And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. God’s work was undoubtedly all finished at the beginning of the world; as one text says, referring to the seventh day: After all his work God rested on the seventh day. The text we are considering says: They shall not reach the place of rest I had for them. We must therefore do everything we can to reach this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of disobedience and be lost.


Psalm 77(78):3-4,6-8

The things we have heard and understood,

the things our fathers have told us,

these we will not hide from their children

but will tell them to the next generation:

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

the glories of the Lord and his might

and the marvellous deeds he has done,

that the next generation might know it,

the children yet to be born.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

They too should arise and tell their sons

that they too should set their hope in God

and never forget God’s deeds

but keep every one of his commands,

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

so that they might not be like their fathers,

a defiant and rebellious race,

a race whose heart was fickle,

whose spirit was unfaithful to God.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Sacraments Of Healing

1420 Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we carry this life “in earthen vessels,” and it remains “hidden with Christ in God.” We are still in our “earthly tent,” subject to suffering, illness, and death. This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin.

1421 The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

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Friday after Epiphany

+Luke 5:12-16

‘If you want to, you can cure me’

Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them.’

His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.


1 John 5:5-13

There are three witnesses: the Spirit and the water and the blood

Who can overcome the world?

Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:

Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,

not with water only,

but with water and blood;

with the Spirit as another witness –

since the Spirit is the truth –

so that there are three witnesses,

the Spirit, the water and the blood,

and all three of them agree.

We accept the testimony of human witnesses,

but God’s testimony is much greater,

and this is God’s testimony,

given as evidence for his Son.

Everybody who believes in the Son of God

has this testimony inside him;

and anyone who will not believe God

is making God out to be a liar,

because he has not trusted

the testimony God has given about his Son.

This is the testimony:

God has given us eternal life

and this life is in his Son;

anyone who has the Son has life,

anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.

I have written all this to you

so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God

may be sure that you have eternal life.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Prayer Of Thanksgiving

2637 Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.

2638 As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”; “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

Prayer Of Praise

2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the “one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.”

2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who “were glad and glorified the word of God.”

2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.

2642 The Revelation of “what must soon take place,” the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy but also by the intercession of the “witnesses” (martyrs).128 The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb. In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the “Father of lights,” from whom “every perfect gift” comes down.130 Thus faith is pure praise.

2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is “the pure offering” of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God’s name and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the “sacrifice of praise.”


Psalm 147:12-15,19-20

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

Zion, praise your God!

He has strengthened the bars of your gates

he has blessed the children within you.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

He established peace on your borders,

he feeds you with finest wheat.

He sends out his word to the earth

and swiftly runs his command.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

He makes his word known to Jacob,

to Israel his laws and decrees.

He has not dealt thus with other nations;

he has not taught them his decrees.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rel

+John 1:35-42

‘We have found the Messiah’

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.


+1 John 3:7-10

No-one sins who has been begotten by God

My children, do not let anyone lead you astray:

to live a holy life

is to be holy just as he is holy;

to lead a sinful life is to belong to the devil,

since the devil was a sinner from the beginning.

It was to undo all that the devil has done

that the Son of God appeared.

No one who has been begotten by God sins;

because God’s seed remains inside him,

he cannot sin when he has been begotten by God.

In this way we distinguish the children of God

from the children of the devil:

anybody not living a holy life

and not loving his brother

is no child of God’s.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world”

608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Psalm 97(98):1,7-9

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad.

Cloud and darkness surround the Lord; justice and right are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him; everywhere it consumes the foes.

Lightning illumines the world; the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim God’s justice; all peoples see his glory.

All who serve idols are put to shame, who glory in worthless things; all gods bow down before you.

Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice because of your judgments, O LORD.

You, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods.

The LORD loves those who hate evil, protects the lives of the faithful, rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Light dawns for the just; gladness, for the honest of heart.

Rejoice in the LORD, you just, and praise his holy name.

Source: The New American Bible


Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, SC, (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975). She established the first Catholic girls’ school in the nation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.

Biography

Early life

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born on August 28, 1774, the second child of a socially prominent couple, a surgeon, Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton of New York City. The Bayley and Charlton families were among the earliest European settlers in the New York area. Her father’s parents were French Huguenots and lived in New Rochelle, New York. As Chief Health Officer for the Port of New York, Dr. Bayley attended to immigrants disembarking from ships onto Staten Island, and cared for New Yorkers when yellow fever swept through the city (for example, killing 700 in four months).Dr. Bayley later served as the first professor of anatomy at Columbia College. Elizabeth’s mother was the daughter of a Church of England priest who was rector of St. Andrew’s Church on Staten Island for 30 years. Elizabeth was raised in what would eventually become (in the years after the American Revolution) the Episcopal Church.

Her mother, Catherine, died in 1777 when Elizabeth was three years old, possibly due to complications from the birth of her namesake Catherine, who died early the following year. Elizabeth’s father then married Charlotte Amelia Barclay, a member of the Jacobus James Roosevelt family, to provide a mother for his two surviving daughters. The new Mrs. Bayley participated in her church’s social ministry, and often took young Elizabeth with her on charitable rounds, as she visited the poor in their homes to distribute food and needed items.

The couple had five children, but the marriage ended in separation. During the breakup, their stepmother rejected Elizabeth and her older sister. Their father then traveled to London for further medical studies, so the sisters lived temporarily in New Rochelle with their paternal uncle, William Bayley, and his wife, Sarah Pell Bayley. Elizabeth endured a time of darkness, grieving the absence of a second mother, as she later reflected in her journals. In these journals, Elizabeth showed her love for nature, poetry, and music, especially the piano. Other entries expressed her religious aspirations, and favorite passages from her reading showing her introspection and natural bent toward contemplation. Elizabeth was fluent in French, a fine musician, and an accomplished horsewoman.

Marriage and motherhood

On January 25, 1794, at age 19, Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, aged 25, a wealthy businessman in the import trade. Samuel Provoost, the first Episcopal bishop of New York, presided at their wedding. Her husband’s father, William Seton (1746–1798), belonged to an impoverished noble Scottish family, and had emigrated to New York in 1758, and became superintendent and part owner of the iron-works of Ringwood, New Jersey. A loyalist, the senior William Seton was the last royal public notary for the city and province of New York. He brought his sons William (Elizabeth’s husband) and James into the import-export mercantile firm, the William Seton Company, which became Seton, Maitland and Company in 1793. The younger William had visited important counting houses in Europe in 1788, was a friend of Filippo Filicchi (a renowned merchant in Leghorn, Italy, with whom his firm traded), and brought the first Stradivarius violin to America.

Shortly after they married, Elizabeth and William moved into a fashionable residence on Wall Street. Socially prominent in New York society, the Setons belonged to Trinity Episcopal Church, near Broadway and Wall Streets. A devout communicant, Elizabeth took the Rev. John Henry Hobart (later bishop) as her spiritual director. Along with her sister-in-law Rebecca Mary Seton (1780–1804) (her soul-friend and dearest confidante), Elizabeth continued her former stepmother’s social ministry—nursing the sick and dying among family, friends, and needy neighbors. Influenced by her father she became a charter member of The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children (1797) and also served as the organization’s treasurer.

When the elder William Seton died, the Seton family fortunes waned during the volatile economic climate preceding the War of 1812. The couple took in William’s six younger siblings, ages seven to seventeen, in addition to their own five children: Anna Maria (Annina) (1795–1812), William II (1796–1868), Richard Seton (1798–1823), Catherine (1800–1891) (who was to become the first American to join the Sisters of Mercy) and Rebecca Mary (1802–1816). This necessitated a move to the larger Seton family residence.

Widowhood and conversion to Catholicism

The Seton home in New York City was located at the site on which a church now stands in her honor, with the adjacent James Watson House serving as the rectory.

A dispute between the United States of America and the French Republic from 1798 to 1800 led to a series of attacks on American shipping. The United Kingdom’s blockade of France and the loss of several of his ships at sea led William Seton into bankruptcy, and the Setons lost their home at 61 Stone Street in lower Manhattan. The following summer she and the children stayed with her father, who was still health officer for the Port of New York on Staten Island. From 1801 to 1803 they lived in a house at 8 State Street, on the site of the present Church of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (built in 1964). Through most of their married life, William Seton suffered from tuberculosis. The stress worsened his illness; his doctors sent him to Italy for the warmer climate, with Elizabeth and their eldest daughter as his companions. Upon landing at the port of Leghorn, they were held in quarantine for a month, for authorities feared they might have brought yellow fever from New York. William died on December 27, 1803, and was buried in Italy’s Old English Cemetery. Elizabeth and Anna Maria were received by the families of her late husband’s Italian business partners, who introduced her to Roman Catholicism.

Returning to New York, the widow Seton was received into the Catholic Church on March 14, 1805, by the Reverend Matthew O’Brien, pastor of St. Peter’s Church, then the city’s only Catholic church. (Anti-Catholic laws had been lifted just a few years before.) A year later, she received the sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop of Baltimore, the Right Reverend John Carroll, the only Catholic bishop in the nation.

In order to support herself and her children, Seton had started an academy for young ladies, as was common for widows of social standing in that period. After news of her conversion to Catholicism spread, however, most parents withdrew their daughters from her tutelage. In 1807, students attending a local Protestant Academy were boarded at her house on Stuyvesant Lane in the Bowery, near St. Mark’s Church.

Seton was about to move to Canada when she met a visiting priest, the Abbé Louis William Valentine Dubourg, SS, who was a member of the French émigré community of Sulpician Fathers and then president of St. Mary’s College, Baltimore. The Sulpicians had taken refuge in the United States from the religious persecution of the Reign of Terror in France and were in the process of establishing the first Catholic seminary for the United States, in keeping with the goals of their society. For several years, Dubourg had envisioned a religious school to meet the educational needs of the new nation’s small Catholic community.

Founder

After living through many difficulties in life, in 1809 Seton accepted the invitation of the Sulpicians and moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland. A year later she established the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, a school dedicated to the education of Catholic girls. This was possible due to the financial support of Samuel Sutherland Cooper, a wealthy convert and seminarian at the newly established Mount Saint Mary’s University, begun by John Dubois, S.S., and the Sulpicians.

On July 31, Seton established a religious community in Emmitsburg dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. This was the first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic school in America. This modest beginning marked the start of the Catholic parochial school system in the United States. The congregation was initially called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s. From that point on, she became known as “Mother Seton”. In 1811, the sisters adopted the rules written by St. Vincent de Paul for the Daughters of Charity in France.

Later life and death

The remainder of Seton’s life was spent in leading and developing the new congregation. Seton was described as a charming and cultured lady. Her connections to New York society and the accompanying social pressures to leave the new life she had created for herself did not deter her from embracing her religious vocation and charitable mission. The greatest difficulties she faced were actually internal, stemming from misunderstandings, interpersonal conflicts and the deaths of two daughters, other loved ones, and young sisters in the community.

Seton died on January 4, 1821, at the age of 46. Today, her remains are entombed in the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

By 1830, the Sisters were running orphanages and schools as far west as Cincinnati and New Orleans, and had established the first hospital west of the Mississippi in St. Louis.

Source: Wikipedia.

Holy Innocents, Mm

+Matthew 2:13-18

The massacre of the innocents

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,

sobbing and loudly lamenting:

it was Rachel weeping for her children,

refusing to be comforted because they were no more.


+1 John 1:5-2:2

The blood of Jesus Christ purifies us all from sin

This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ,

and the message that we are announcing to you:

God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.

If we say that we are in union with God

while we are living in darkness,

we are lying because we are not living the truth.

But if we live our lives in the light,

as he is in the light,

we are in union with one another,

and the blood of Jesus, his Son,

purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us,

we are deceiving ourselves

and refusing to admit the truth;

but if we acknowledge our sins,

then God who is faithful and just

will forgive our sins and purify us

from everything that is wrong.

To say that we have never sinned

is to call God a liar

and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,

to stop you sinning;

but if anyone should sin,

we have our advocate with the Father,

Jesus Christ, who is just;

he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,

and not only ours,

but the whole world’s.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus’ infancy

527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that is spoken against”. The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples”.

530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people.


Psalm 123(124):2-5,7-8 

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

If the Lord had not been on our side

when men rose up against us,

then would they have swallowed us alive

when their anger was kindled.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Then would the waters have engulfed us,

the torrent gone over us;

over our head would have swept

the raging waters.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Indeed the snare has been broken

and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.

Peter Canisius, P & D

+Luke 1:39-45

Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’


Song of Songs 2:8-14

See how my Beloved comes, leaping on the mountains

I hear my Beloved.

See how he comes

leaping on the mountains,

bounding over the hills.

My Beloved is like a gazelle,

like a young stag.

See where he stands

behind our wall.

He looks in at the window,

he peers through the lattice.

My Beloved lifts up his voice,

he says to me,

‘Come then, my love,

my lovely one, come.

For see, winter is past,

the rains are over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth.

The season of glad songs has come,

the cooing of the turtledove is heard

in our land.

The fig tree is forming its first figs

and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.

Come then, my love,

my lovely one, come.

My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock,

in the coverts of the cliff,

show me your face,

let me hear your voice;

for your voice is sweet

and your face is beautiful.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Mary – “Blessed is she who believed”

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.


Psalm 32(33):2-3,11-12,20-21

Of David. A maskil. 1 Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.

Happy those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit.

As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away; I groaned all the day.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength withered as in dry summer heat. Selah

Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah

Thus should all your faithful pray in time of distress. Though flood waters threaten, they will never reach them.

You are my shelter; from distress you keep me; with safety you ring me round. Selah

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart.

Source: The New American Bible


Peter Canisius, S.J. (Dutch: Pieter Kanis, 8 May 1521 – 21 December 1597) was a renowned Dutch Jesuit Catholic priest. He became known for his strong support for the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Switzerland. The restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as a Doctor of the Church.

Life

He was born in 1521 in Nijmegen in the Duchy of Guelders, which, until 1549, was part of the Habsburg Netherlands within the Holy Roman Empire and is now the Netherlands. His father was a wealthy burgermeister, Jacob Kanis. His mother, Ægidia van Houweningen, died shortly after Peter’s birth. He was sent to study at the University of Cologne, where he earned a Master’s degree in 1540, at the age of 19.

While there, he met Peter Faber, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus. Through him, Canisius became the first Dutchman to join the newly founded Society of Jesus in 1543. Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. He supervised the founding and maintenance of the first German-speaking Jesuit colleges, often with little resources at hand. At the same time he preached in the city and vicinity, and debated and taught in the university. Due to his frequent travels between the colleges, a tedious and dangerous occupation at the time, he became known as the Second Apostle of Germany.

Canisius also exerted a strong influence on the Emperor Ferdinand I. The king’s eldest son (later Maximilian II) appointed to the office of court preacher, Phauser, a married priest, who preached the Lutheran doctrine. Canisius warned Ferdinand I, verbally and in writing, and opposed Phauser in public disputations. Maximilian was obliged to dismiss Phauser and, on this account, the rest of his life he harboured a grudge against Canisius.

In 1547 he attended several sessions of the Council of Trent. Canisius was an influential teacher and preacher, especially through his “German Catechism”, a book which defined the basic principles of Catholicism in the German language and made them more accessible to readers in German-speaking countries. He was offered the post of Bishop of Vienna in 1554, but declined in order to continue his traveling and teachings. He did, however, serve as administrator of the Diocese of Vienna for one year, until a new bishop was appointed for it.

He moved to Germany, where he was one of the main Catholic theologians at the Colloquy of Worms in 1557, and later served as the main preacher in the Cathedral of Augsburg from 1559 to 1568, where he strongly witnessed to his faith on three or four occasions each week. Canisius was renowned as a popular preacher. In 1562 he founded what was to become the University of Innsbruck.

By the time he left Germany, the Society of Jesus in Germany had evolved from a small band of priests into a powerful tool of the Counter Reformation. Canisius spent the last twenty years of his life in Fribourg, where he founded the Jesuit Collège Saint-Michel, which trained generations of young men for careers and future university studies.

In 1591, at the age of 70, Canisius suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in Fribourg.

He was initially buried at the Church of St Nicholas. His remains were later transferred to the church of the Jesuit College, which he had founded and where he had spent the last year of his life, and interred in front of the main altar of the church; the room he occupied during those last months is now a chapel open for the veneration of the faithful.

Pastoral strategy

Canisius lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation and dedicated much of his work to the clarification of the Catholic faith in light of the emergence of the new Protestant doctrines. His lasting contribution is his three catechisms, which he published in Latin and German, which became widespread and popular in Catholic regions. In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome, arguing:

If you treat them right, the Germans will give you everything. Many err in matters of faith, but without arrogance. They err the German way, mostly honest, a bit simple-minded, but very open for everything Lutheran. An honest explanation of the faith would be much more effective than a polemical attack against reformers.

He rejected attacks against John Calvin and Melanchton: With words like these, we don’t cure patients, we make them incurable.

Mariology of Canisius

Canisius taught that, while there are many roads leading to Jesus Christ, for him the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the best. His sermons and letters document a clear preoccupation with Marian veneration. Under the heading “prayer” he explains the Ave Maria (Hail Mary), as the basis for Catholic Marian piety. Less known are his Marian books, in which he published prayers and contemplative texts. He is credited with adding to the Hail Mary the sentence

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.  Eleven years later it was included in the Catechism of the Council of Trent of 1566.

Canisius published an applied Mariology for preachers, in which Mary is described in tender and warm words. He actively promoted the sodalities of our Lady and the rosary associations. Theologically, Canisius defended Catholic Mariology, in his 1577 book, De Maria Virgine Incomparabili et Dei Genitrice Sacrosancta Libri Quinque.

The book was ordered by Pope Pius V to present a factual presentation of the Catholic Marian teachings in the Bible, the early Christians, the Church Fathers and contemporary theology. Canisius explains and documents Church teachings through the ages regarding the person and character of Mary, her virtues and youth. He traces historical documents about the perpetual virginity of Mary, and her freedom from sin. He explains the dogma of “Mother of God” with numerous quotations from the fathers after the Council of Ephesus. He shows that Church teaching has not changed. He answers the sola Scriptura arguments of Protestants by analyzing the biblical basis for mariology.Book five explains the Catholic view of the assumption as living faith for centuries, supported by most proment Church writers. In addition he justifies the cult of Mary within the Catholic Church.

From today’s perspective, Canisius clearly erred in some of his sources, but, because of his factual analysis of original sources, it is considered as representing one of the best theological achievements in the 16th century.

Veneration

Canisius was beatified by Pope Pius IX in the year 1864, and later canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church on 21 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI. His feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1926, for celebration on 27 April. In the liturgical reform of 1969, it was moved to 21 December, the anniversary of his death, the normal day for celebrating a saint’s entry into heaven (although it is still kept by the Society of Jesus on 27 April).

Source: Wikipedia

John of the Cross, P & D

+Matthew 11:16-19

The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place:

“We played the pipes for you,

and you wouldn’t dance;

we sang dirges,

and you wouldn’t be mourners.”

‘For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.’


+Isaiah 48:17-19

If you had been alert to my commandments, your happiness would have been like a river

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,

I lead you in the way that you must go.

If only you had been alert to my commandments,

your happiness would have been like a river,

your integrity like the waves of the sea.

Your children would have been numbered like the sand,

your descendants as many as its grains.

Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Faith

2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the “obedience of faith” as our first obligation. He shows that “ignorance of God” is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations. Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”


Psalm 1

Those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life.

Happy indeed is the man

who follows not the counsel of the wicked;

nor lingers in the way of sinners

nor sits in the company of scorners,

but whose delight is the law of the Lord

and who ponders his law day and night.

Those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life.

He is like a tree that is planted

beside the flowing waters,

that yields its fruit in due season

and whose leaves shall never fade;

and all that he does shall prosper.

Those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life.

Not so are the wicked, not so!

For they like winnowed chaff

shall be driven away by the wind:

for the Lord guards the way of the just

but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

Those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life.

Source: The New American Bible


John of the Cross (Spanish: San Juan de la Cruz; 1542 – 14 December 1591) was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar and a priest, who was born at Fontiveros, Old Castile.

John of the Cross is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church.

He was born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez into a converso family (descendents of Jewish converts to Christianity) in Fontiveros, near Ávila, a town of around 2,000 people. His father, Gonzalo, was an accountant to richer relatives who were silk merchants. However, when in 1529 he married John’s mother, Catalina, who was an orphan of a lower class, Gonzalo was rejected by his family and forced to work with his wife as a weaver. John’s father died in 1545, while John was still only around three years old. Two years later, John’s older brother Luis died, probably as a result of insufficient nourishment caused by the penury to which John’s family had been reduced. After this, John’s mother Catalina took John and his surviving brother Francisco, and moved first in 1548 to Arévalo, and then in 1551 to Medina del Campo, where she was able to find work weaving.

In Medina, John entered a school for around 160 poor children, usually orphans, receiving a basic education, mainly in Christian doctrine, as well as some food, clothing and lodging. While studying there, he was chosen to serve as acolyte at a nearby monastery of Augustinian nuns. Growing up, John worked at a hospital and studied the humanities at a Jesuit school from 1559 to 1563; the Society of Jesus was a new organization at the time, having been founded only a few years earlier by the Spaniard St. Ignatius of Loyola. In 1563 he entered the Carmelite Order, adopting the name John of St. Matthias.

The following year (1564) he professed his religious vows as a Carmelite and travelled to Salamanca, where he studied theology and philosophy at the prestigious University there (at the time one of the four biggest in Europe, alongside Paris, Oxford and Bologna) and at the Colegio de San Andrés. Some modern writers claim that this stay would influence all his later writings, as Fray Luis de León taught biblical studies (Exegesis, Hebrew and Aramaic) at the University: León was one of the foremost experts in Biblical Studies then and had written an important and controversial translation of the Song of Songs into Spanish. (Translation of the Bible into the vernacular was not allowed then in Spain, because of the possibility of mistranslation from Latin to Spanish which could create confusion.)

Joining the Reform of Teresa of Jesus

John was ordained a priest in 1567, and then indicated his intent to join the strict Carthusian Order, which appealed to him because of its encouragement of solitary and silent contemplation. A journey from Salamanca to Medina del Campo, probably in September 1567, changed this. In Medina he met the charismatic Carmelite nun Teresa of Jesus. She was in Medina to found the second of her convents for women. She immediately talked to him about her reformation projects for the Order: she was seeking to restore the purity of the Carmelite Order by restarting observance of its “Primitive Rule” of 1209, observance of which had been relaxed by Pope Eugene IV in 1432.

Under this Rule, much of the day and night was to be spent in the recitation of the choir offices, study and devotional reading, the celebration of Mass and times of solitude. For the friars, time was to be spent evangelizing the population around the monastery. Total abstinence from meat and lengthy fasting was to be observed from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) until Easter. There were to be long periods of silence, especially between Compline and Prime. Coarser, shorter habits, more simple than those worn since 1432, were to be worn. They were to follow the injunction against the wearing of shoes (also mitigated in 1432). It was from this last observance that the followers of Teresa among the Carmelites were becoming known as “discalced”, i.e., barefoot, differentiating themselves from the non-reformed friars and nuns.

Teresa asked John to delay his entry into the Carthusians and to follow her. Having spent a final year studying in Salamanca, in August 1568 John traveled with Teresa from Medina to Valladolid, where Teresa intended to found another monastery of nuns. Having spent some time with Teresa in Valladolid, learning more about this new form of Carmelite life, in October 1568, accompanied by Friar Antonio de Jesús de Heredia, John left Valladolid to found a new monastery for friars, the first for men following Teresa’s principles. They were given the use of a derelict house at Duruelo (midway between Ávila and Salamanca), which had been donated to Teresa. On 28 November 1568, the monastery was established, and on that same day John changed his name to “John of the Cross”.

Soon after, in June 1570, the friars found the house at Duruelo too small, and so moved to the nearby town of Mancera de Abajo. After moving on from this community, John set up a new community at Pastrana (October 1570), and a community at Alcalá de Henares, which was to be a house of studies for the academic training of the friars. In 1572 he arrived in Ávila, at the invitation of Teresa, who had been appointed prioress of the Monastery of the Incarnation there in 1571. John became the spiritual director and confessor for Teresa and the other 130 nuns there, as well as for a wide range of laypeople in the city. In 1574, John accompanied Teresa in the foundation of a new monastery in Segovia, returning to Avila after staying there a week. Beyond this, though, John seems to have remained in Ávila between 1572 and 1577.

At some point between 1574 and 1577, while praying in the Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila in a loft overlooking the sanctuary, John had a vision of the crucified Christ, which led him to create his famous drawing of Christ “from above”. In 1641, this drawing was placed in a small monstrance and kept in Ávila. This drawing inspired the artist Salvador Dalí’s 1951 work Christ of Saint John of the Cross.

The height of Carmelite tensions

The years 1575–77, however, saw a great increase in the tensions among the Spanish Carmelite friars over the reforms of Teresa and John. Since 1566 the reforms had been overseen by Canonical Visitors from the Dominican Order, with one appointed to Castile and a second to Andalusia. These Visitors had substantial powers: they could move the members of religious communities from house to house and even province to province. They could assist religious superiors in their office, and could depute other superiors from either the Dominicans or Carmelites. In Castile, the Visitor was Pedro Fernández, who prudently balanced the interests of the Discalced Carmelites against those of the friars and nuns who did not desire reform.

In Andalusia to the south, however, where the Visitor was Francisco Vargas, tensions rose due to his clear preference for the Discalced friars. Vargas asked them to make foundations in various cities, in explicit contradiction of orders from the Carmelite Prior General against their expansion in Andalusia. As a result, a General Chapter of the Carmelite Order was convened at Piacenza in Italy in May 1576, out of concern that events in Spain were getting out of hand, which concluded by ordering the total suppression of the Discalced houses.

This measure was not immediately enforced. King Philip II of Spain was supportive of some of Teresa’s reforms, and so was not immediately willing to grant the necessary permission to enforce this ordinance. The Discalced friars also found support from the papal nuncio to King Philip II, Nicolò Ormaneto (it), Bishop of Padua, who still had ultimate power as nuncio to visit and reform religious Orders. When asked by the Discalced friars to intervene, Ormaneto replaced Vargas as Visitor of the Carmelites in Andalusia (where the troubles had begun) with Jerónimo Gracián, a priest from the University of Alcalá, who was in fact a Discalced Carmelite friar himself. The nuncio’s protection helped John himself avoid problems for a time. In January 1576, John was arrested in Medina del Campo by some Carmelite friars. However, through the nuncio’s intervention, John was soon released. When Ormaneto died on 18 June 1577, however, John was left without protection, and the friars opposing his reforms gained the upper hand.

Imprisonment, writings, torture, death and recognition

On the night of 2 December 1577, a group of Carmelites opposed to reform broke into John’s dwelling in Ávila and took him prisoner. John had received an order from some of his superiors, opposed to reform, ordering him to leave Ávila and return to his original house, but John had refused on the basis that his reform work had been approved by the Spanish nuncio, a higher authority than these superiors. The Carmelites therefore took John captive. John was taken from Ávila to the Carmelite monastery in Toledo, at that time the Order’s most important monastery in Castile, where perhaps 40 friars lived. John was brought before a court of friars, accused of disobeying the ordinances of Piacenza. Despite John’s argument that he had not disobeyed the ordinances, he received a punishment of imprisonment. He was jailed in the monastery, where he was kept under a brutal regimen that included public lashing before the community at least weekly, and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell measuring ten feet by six feet, barely large enough for his body. Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole into the adjoining room. He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread and scraps of salt fish. During this imprisonment, he composed a great part of his most famous poem Spiritual Canticle, as well as a few shorter poems. The paper was passed to him by the friar who guarded his cell. He managed to escape nine months later, on 15 August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He had managed to pry the cell door off its hinges earlier that day.)

After being nursed back to health, first with Teresa’s nuns in Toledo, and then during six weeks at the Hospital of Santa Cruz,John continued with reform. In October 1578 he joined a meeting at Almodóvar del Campo of the supporters of reform, increasingly known as the Discalced Carmelites. There, in part as a result of the opposition faced from other Carmelites in recent years, they decided to demand from the Pope their formal separation from the rest of the Carmelite Order.

At this meeting John was appointed superior of El Calvario, an isolated monastery of around thirty friars in the mountains about 6 miles away from Beas in Andalusia. During this time he befriended the nun Ana de Jesús, superior of the Discalced nuns at Beas, through his visits every Saturday to the town. While at El Calvario he composed his first version of his commentary on his poem, The Spiritual Canticle, perhaps at the request of the nuns in Beas.

In 1579 he moved to Baeza, a town of around 50,000 people, to serve as rector of a new college, the Colegio de San Basilio, to support the studies of Discalced friars in Andalusia. This opened on 13 June 1579. He remained in post there until 1582, spending much of his time as a spiritual director for the friars and townspeople.

1580 was an important year in the resolution of the disputes within the Carmelites. On 22 June, Pope Gregory XIII signed a decree, titled Pia Consideratione, which authorised a separation between the Calced and Discalced Carmelites. The Dominican friar Juan Velázquez de las Cuevas was appointed to carry out the decisions. At the first General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelites, in Alcalá de Henares on 3 March 1581, John of the Cross was elected one of the “Definitors” of the community, and wrote a set of constitutions for them. By the time of the Provincial Chapter at Alcalá in 1581, there were 22 houses, some 300 friars and 200 nuns in the Discalced Carmelites.

In November 1581, John was sent by Teresa to help Ana de Jesus in founding a convent in Granada. Arriving in January 1582, she set up a monastery of nuns, while John stayed in the friars’ monastery of Los Martires, beside the Alhambra, becoming its prior in March 1582. While here, he learned of the death of Teresa in October of that year.

In February 1585, John travelled to Málaga and established a monastery of Discalced nuns there. In May 1585, at the General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelites in Lisbon, John was elected Provincial Vicar of Andalusia, a post which required him to travel frequently, making annual visitations of the houses of friars and nuns in Andalusia. During this time he founded seven new monasteries in the region, and is estimated to have travelled around 25,000 km.

In June 1588, he was elected third Councillor to the Vicar General for the Discalced Carmelites, Father Nicolas Doria. To fulfill this role, he had to return to Segovia in Castile, where in this capacity he was also prior of the monastery. After disagreeing in 1590–1 with some of Doria’s remodeling of the leadership of the Discalced Carmelite Order, though, John was removed from his post in Segovia, and sent by Doria in June 1591 to an isolated monastery in Andalusia called La Peñuela. There he fell ill, and traveled to the monastery at Úbeda for treatment. His condition worsened, however, and he died there on 14 December 1591, of erysipelas.

Veneration

The morning after John’s death huge numbers of the townspeople of Úbeda entered the monastery to view his body; in the crush, many were able to take home parts of his habit. He was initially buried at Úbeda, but, at the request of the monastery in Segovia, his body was secretly moved there in 1593. The people of Úbeda, however, unhappy at this change, sent representative to petition the pope to move the body back to its original resting place. Pope Clement VIII, impressed by the petition, issued a Brief on 15 October 1596 ordering the return of the body to Ubeda. Eventually, in a compromise, the superiors of the Discalced Carmelites decided that the monastery at Úbeda would receive one leg and one arm of the corpse from Segovia (the monastery at Úbeda had already kept one leg in 1593, and the other arm had been removed as the corpse passed through Madrid in 1593, to form a relic there). A hand and a leg remain visible in a reliquary at the Oratory of San Juan de la Cruz in Úbeda, a monastery built in 1627 though connected to the original Discalced monastery in the town founded in 1587.

The head and torso were retained by the monastery at Segovia. There, they were venerated until 1647, when on orders from Rome designed to prevent the veneration of remains without official approval, the remains were buried in the ground. In the 1930s they were disinterred, and now sit in a side chapel in a marble case above a special altar built in that decade.

Proceedings to beatify John began with the gathering of information on his life between 1614 and 1616, although he was only beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X, and was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726. When his feast day was added to the General Roman Calendar in 1738, it was assigned to 24 November, since his date of death was impeded by the then-existing octave of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This obstacle was removed in 1955 and in 1969 Pope Paul VI moved it to the dies natalis (birthday to heaven) of the saint, 14 December. The Church of England commemorates him as a “Teacher of the Faith” on the same date. In 1926, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI after the definitive consultation of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., professor of philosophy and theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome.

Literary works

Saint John of the Cross is considered one of the foremost poets in the Spanish language. Although his complete poems add up to fewer than 2500 verses, two of them—the Spiritual Canticle and the Dark Night of the Soul—are widely considered masterpieces of Spanish poetry, both for their formal stylistic point of view and their rich symbolism and imagery. His theological works often consist of commentaries on these poems. All the works were written between 1578 and his death in 1591, meaning there is great consistency in the views presented in them.

The Spiritual Canticle is an eclogue in which the bride (representing the soul) searches for the bridegroom (representing Jesus Christ), and is anxious at having lost him; both are filled with joy upon reuniting. It can be seen as a free-form Spanish version of the Song of Songs at a time when translations of the Bible into the vernacular were forbidden. The first 31 stanzas of the poem were composed in 1578 while John was imprisoned in Toledo. It was read after his escape by the nuns at Beas, who made copies of these stanzas. Over the following years, John added some extra stanzas. Today, two versions exist: one with 39 stanzas and one with 40, although with some of the stanzas ordered differently. The first redaction of the commentary on the poem was written in 1584, at the request of Madre Ana de Jesus, when she was prioress of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Granada. A second redaction, which contains more detail, was written in 1585–6.

The Dark Night (from which the spiritual term takes its name) narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to union with God. It happens during the night, which represents the hardships and difficulties met in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. There are several steps in this night, which are related in successive stanzas. The main idea of the poem can be seen as the painful experience that people endure as they seek to grow in spiritual maturity and union with God. The poem of this title was likely written in 1578 or 1579. In 1584-5, John wrote a commentary on the first two stanzas and first line of the third stanza of the poem.

The Ascent of Mount Carmel is a more systematic study of the ascetical endeavour of a soul looking for perfect union, God and the mystical events happening along the way. Although it begins as a commentary on the poem The Dark Night, it rapidly drops this format, having commented on the first two stanzas of the poem, and becomes a treatise. It was composed sometime between 1581 and 1585.

A four-stanza work, Living Flame of Love, describes a greater intimacy, as the soul responds to God’s love. It was written in a first redaction at Granada between 1585-6, apparently in two weeks,and in a mostly identical second redaction at La Peñuela in 1591.

These, together with his Dichos de Luz y Amor (or “Sayings of Light and Love”) and Saint Teresa’s writings, are the most important mystical works in Spanish, and have deeply influenced later spiritual writers all around the world. Among these are T. S. Eliot, Thérèse de Lisieux, Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and Thomas Merton. John has also influenced philosophers (Jacques Maritain), theologians (Hans Urs von Balthasar), pacifists (Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan and Philip Berrigan) and artists (Salvador Dalí). Pope John Paul II wrote his theological dissertation on the mystical theology of Saint John of the Cross.

Source: Wikipedia

Ambrose, B & D

+Matthew 9:27-31

‘Take care that no-one learns about this’

As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, ‘Take pity on us, Son of David.’ And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up with him and he said to them, ‘Do you believe I can do this?’ They said, ‘Sir, we do.’ Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you.’ And their sight returned. Then Jesus sternly warned them, ‘Take care that no one learns about this.’ But when they had gone, they talked about him all over the countryside.

 

Isaiah 29:17-24

In a very short time, the deaf will hear and the eyes of the blind will see

The Lord says this:

In a short time, a very short time,

shall not Lebanon become fertile land

and fertile land turn into forest?

The deaf, that day,

will hear the words of a book

and, after shadow and darkness,

the eyes of the blind will see.

But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more

and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel;

for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish,

and all be destroyed who are disposed to do evil:

those who gossip to incriminate others,

those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator

and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.

Therefore the Lord speaks,

the God of the House of Jacob,

Abraham’s redeemer:

No longer shall Jacob be ashamed,

no more shall his face grow pale,

for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst,

he shall hold my name holy.

They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob,

stand in awe of the God of Israel.

Erring spirits will learn wisdom

and murmurers accept instruction.

The Jerusalem Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”


Psalm 26(27):1,4,13-14

 

The Lord is my light and my help.

 

The Lord is my light and my help;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

before whom shall I shrink?

The Lord is my light and my help.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,

for this I long,

to live in the house of the Lord,

all the days of my life,

to savour the sweetness of the Lord,

to behold his temple.

The Lord is my light and my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness

in the land of the living.

Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.

Hope in the Lord!

The Lord is my light and my help.

Source:The Jerusalem Bible


Aurelius Ambrosius (Italian: Sant’Ambrogio [ˌsantamˈbrɔːdʒo]; Lombard: Sant’Ambroeus [ˌsãtãˈbrøːs]), better known in English as Saint Ambrose (/ˈæmbroʊz/; c. 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism, and has been accused of fostering persecutions of Arians, Jews, and pagans.

Traditionally, Ambrose is credited with promoting “antiphonal chant”, a style of chanting in which one side of the choir responds alternately to the other, as well as with composing Veni redemptor gentium, an Advent hymn.

Ambrose was one of the four original Doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on Augustine of Hippo.

Life

Early life

Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family about 340 and was raised in Gallia Belgica (present-day Trier, Germany). His father is sometimes identified with Aurelius Ambrosius, a praetorian prefect of Gaul; but some scholars identify his father as an official named Uranius who received an imperial constitution dated 3 February 339 (addressed in a brief extract from one of the three emperors ruling in 339, Constantine II, Constantius II, or Constans, in the Codex Theodosianus, book XI.5).

His mother was a woman of intellect and piety and she was a member of roman gens of Aurelii Symmachi and thus Ambrose was cousin of the orator Q. Aurelius Symmachus.

Ambrose’s siblings, Satyrus (who is the subject of Ambrose’s De excessu fratris Satyri) and Marcellina, are also venerated as saints. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint’s symbology.

After the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his father’s career. He was educated in Rome, studying literature, law, and rhetoric. Praetorian Prefect Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus first gave him a place in the council and then in about 372 made him governor of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan, which was then (beside Rome) the second capital in Italy.

Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374, when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a very popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West, he was a recognizable figure in the court of Valentinian I. Ambrose never married.

Bishop of Milan

In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Nicene Church and Arians. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, and the Arians challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call, “Ambrose, bishop!”, which was taken up by the whole assembly.

Ambrose was known to be Nicene Christian in belief, but also acceptable to Arians due to the charity shown in theological matters in this regard. At first he energetically refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared: Ambrose was neither baptized nor formally trained in theology. Upon his appointment, Ambrose fled to a colleague’s home seeking to hide. Upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, Ambrose’s host gave him up. Within a week, he was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan.

As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land, making only provision for his sister Marcellina (who later became a nun), and committed the care of his family to his brother.This raised his popularity even further, giving him considerable political leverage over even the emperor. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of “The Goodness of Death”.

Arianism

According to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan. He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome. Using his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West, to his advantage, he studied the Old Testament and Greek authors like Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters. He applied this knowledge as preacher, concentrating especially on exegesis of the Old Testament, and his rhetorical abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who hitherto had thought poorly of Christian preachers.

In the confrontation with Arians, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were contrary to the Nicene creed and thus to the officially defined orthodoxy. The Arians appealed to many high level leaders and clergy in both the Western and Eastern empires. Although the western Emperor Gratian supported orthodoxy, the younger Valentinian II, who became his colleague in the Empire, adhered to the Arian creed. Ambrose did not sway the young prince’s position. In the East, Emperor Theodosius I likewise professed the Nicene creed; but there were many adherents of Arianism throughout his dominions, especially among the higher clergy.

In this contested state of religious opinion, two leaders of the Arians, bishops Palladius of Ratiaria and Secundianus of Singidunum, confident of numbers, prevailed upon Gratian to call a general council from all parts of the empire. This request appeared so equitable that he complied without hesitation. However, Ambrose feared the consequences and prevailed upon the emperor to have the matter determined by a council of the Western bishops. Accordingly, a synod composed of thirty-two bishops was held at Aquileia in the year 381. Ambrose was elected president and Palladius, being called upon to defend his opinions, declined. A vote was then taken, when Palladius and his associate Secundianus were deposed from their episcopal offices.

Nevertheless, the increasing strength of the Arians proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385 or 386 the emperor and his mother Justina, along with a considerable number of clergy and laity, especially military, professed Arianism. They demanded two churches in Milan, one in the city (the Basilica of the Apostles), the other in the suburbs (St Victor’s), to the Arians. Ambrose refused and was required to answer for his conduct before the council. He went, his eloquence in defense of the Church reportedly overawing the ministers of Valentinian, so he was permitted to retire without making the surrender of the churches. The day following, when he was performing divine service in the basilica, the prefect of the city came to persuade him to give up at least the Portian basilica in the suburbs. As he still refused, certain deans or officers of the court were sent to take possession of the Portian basilica, by hanging up in it imperial escutcheons to prepare for the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter.

In spite of Imperial opposition, Bishop Ambrose declared:

If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

The imperial court was displeased with the religious principles of Ambrose, however his aid was soon solicited by the Emperor. When Magnus Maximus usurped the supreme power in Gaul, and was meditating a descent upon Italy, Valentinian sent Ambrose to dissuade him from the undertaking, and the embassy was successful.

A second later embassy was unsuccessful. The enemy entered Italy and Milan was taken. Justina and her son fled but Ambrose remained at his post and did good service to many of the sufferers by causing the plate of the church to be melted for their relief.

In 385 Ambrose, backed by Milan’s populace, refused Valentinian II’s imperial request to hand over the Portian basilica for the use of Arian troops. In 386 Justina and Valentinian received the Arian bishop Auxentius the younger, and Ambrose was again ordered to hand over a church in Milan for Arian usage. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves inside the church, and the imperial order was rescinded.

Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius was excommunicated by Ambrose for the massacre of 7,000 people at Thessalonica in 390, after the murder of the Roman governor there by rioters. Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt — Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance. Ambrose also forced Theodosius to retreat from compensating a Jewish community in Mesopotamia when a synagogue was burnt down by militant Christians. These incidents show the strong position of a bishop in the Western part of the empire, even when facing a strong emperor — the controversy of John Chrysostom with a much weaker emperor a few years later in Constantinople led to a crushing defeat of the bishop.

In 392, after the death of Valentinian II and the acclamation of Eugenius, Ambrose supplicated the emperor for the pardon of those who had supported Eugenius after Theodosius was eventually victorious.

Attitude towards Jews

In his treatise on Abraham, Ambrose warns against intermarriage with pagans, Jews, or heretics.In 388, Emperor Theodosius the Great was informed that a crowd of Christians, led by their bishop, had destroyed the synagogue at Callinicum on the Euphrates, in retaliation for the burning of their church by the Jews. He ordered the synagogue rebuilt at the expense of the bishop. Ambrose held firm with the Emperor against any show of favoritism for the Jews. He wrote to the Emperor, pointing out that he was thereby “exposing the bishop to the danger of either acting against the truth or of death”; in the letter “the reasons given for the imperial rescript are met, especially by the plea that the Jews had burnt many churches”. In the course of the letter Ambrose speaks of the clemency that the emperor had shown with regard to the many houses of wealthy people and churches that had been destroyed by unruly mobs, with many then still not restored and then adds: “There is, then, no adequate cause for such a commotion, that the people should be so severely punished for the burning of a building, and much less since it is the burning of a synagogue, a home of unbelief, a house of impiety, a receptacle of folly, which God Himself has condemned. For thus we read, where the Lord our God speaks by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah: ‘And I will do to this house, which is called by My Name, wherein ye trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh, and I will cast you forth from My sight, as I cast forth your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim. And do not thou pray for that people, and do not thou ask mercy for them, and do not come near Me on their behalf, for I will not hear thee. Or seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah?’ God forbids intercession to be made for those.”Yet, Ambrose did not oppose punishing those who were directly responsible for destroying the synagogue.

In his exposition of Psalm 1, Ambrose says: “Virtues without faith are leaves, flourishing in appearance, but unproductive. How many pagans have mercy and sobriety but no fruit, because they do not attain their purpose! The leaves speedily fall at the wind’s breath. Some Jews exhibit purity of life and much diligence and love of study, but bear no fruit and live like leaves.”

Attitude towards pagans

Ambrose disliked Pagans, under Ambrose’s major influence, emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I carried on a persecution of Paganism. Under Ambrose’s influence, Theodosius issued the 391 “Theodosian decrees,” which with increasing intensity outlawed Pagan practises,[ and the Altar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.

Later years and death

In April 393 Arbogast, magister militum of the West and his puppet Emperor Eugenius marched into Italy to consolidate their position in regard to Theodosius I and his son, Honorius, whom Theodosius had appointed Augustus to govern the western portion of the empire. Arbogast and Eugenius courted Ambrose’s support by very obliging letters; but before they arrived at Milan, he had retired to Bologna, where he assisted at the translation of the relics of Saints Vitalis and Agricola. From there he went to Florence, where he remained until Eugenius withdrew from Milan to meet Theodosius in the Battle of the Frigidus in early September 394.

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (April 4, 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose’s body may still be viewed in the church of Saint Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated — along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Saints Gervase and Protase.

Character

Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal character at that period. But it must also be noted that he used several indirect means to obtain and support his authority with the people.

He was generous to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.

Theology

Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose’s administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects.

Ambrose’s intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia.

Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are.” Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the “right” liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

One interpretation of Ambrose’s writings is that he was a Christian universalist. It has been noted that Ambrose’s theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists. One quotation cited in favor of this belief:

Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.

One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (both for those in heaven and for those in hell). Several other works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example:

The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends.

Giving to the poor

Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.

Mariology

The theological treatises of Ambrose of Milan would come to influence Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God.

The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human?

We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit.

Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin… But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore, only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped.

Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest (Zechariah). While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation.

Ambrose viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity.

Source: Wikipedia

Andrew, Ap

+Matthew 4:18-22

‘I will make you fishers of men’

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.


+Romans 10:9-18

Faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ

If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound. Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ. Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Why the ecclesial ministry?

874 Christ is himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal:

In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. The holders of office, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the People of God . . . may attain to salvation.

875 “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?” No one – no individual and no community – can proclaim the Gospel to himself: “Faith comes from what is heard.” No one can give himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. The one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ’s authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ. From him, bishops and priests receive the mission and faculty (“the sacred power”) to act in persona Christi Capitis; deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word and charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate. The ministry in which Christ’s emissaries do and give by God’s grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a “sacrament” by the Church’s tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.

876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly “slaves of Christ,” in the image of him who freely took “the form of a slave” for us. Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.

877 Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as “the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.” Chosen together, they were also sent out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons. For this reason every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop.

878 Finally, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character. Although Christ’s ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way. Each one is called personally: “You, follow me” in order to be a personal witness within the common mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting “in his person” and for other persons: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .”; “I absolve you . . . .”

879 Sacramental ministry in the Church, then, is a service exercised in the name of Christ. It has a personal character and a collegial form. This is evidenced by the bonds between the episcopal college and its head, the successor of St. Peter, and in the relationship between the bishop’s pastoral responsibility for his particular church and the common solicitude of the episcopal college for the universal Church.


Psalm 18(19):2-5

For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.

He said: I love you, LORD, my strength,

LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!

Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.

The breakers of death surged round about me; the menacing floods terrified me.

The cords of Sheol tightened; the snares of death lay in wait for me.

In my distress I called out: LORD! I cried out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry to him reached his ears.

The earth rocked and shook; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook as his wrath flared up.

Smoke rose in his nostrils, a devouring fire poured from his mouth; it kindled coals into flame.

He parted the heavens and came down, a dark cloud under his feet.

Mounted on a cherub he flew, borne along on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness the cover about him; his canopy, heavy thunderheads.

Before him scudded his clouds, hail and lightning too.

The LORD thundered from heaven; the Most High made his voice resound.

Source: The New American Bible


Andrew the Apostle (Greek: Ἀνδρέας, Andreas; from the early 1st century B.C – mid to late 1st century A.D), also known as Saint Andrew and called in the Orthodox tradition the First-Called (Greek: Πρωτόκλητος, Prōtoklētos), was a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter.

The name “Andrew” (Greek: manly, brave, from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valour”), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews, Christians, and other Hellenized people of Judea. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Life

Saint Andrew was born according to the Christian tradition in 6 B.C in Galilee. The New Testament states that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, and likewise a son of John, or Jonah. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men” (Greek: ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthrōpōn). At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.

In the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 4:18–22) and in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:16–20) Simon Peter and Andrew were both called together to become disciples of Jesus and “fishers of men”. These narratives record that Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, observed Simon and Andrew fishing, and called them to discipleship.

In the parallel incident in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 5:1–11) Andrew is not named, nor is reference made to Simon having a brother. In this narrative, Jesus initially used a boat, solely described as being Simon’s, as a platform for preaching to the multitudes on the shore and then as a means to achieving a huge trawl of fish on a night which had hitherto proved fruitless. The narrative indicates that Simon was not the only fisherman in the boat (they signaled to their partners in the other boat … (Luke 5:7)) but it is not until the next chapter (Luke 6:14) that Andrew is named as Simon’s brother. However, it is generally understood that Andrew was fishing with Simon on the night in question. Matthew Poole, in his Annotations on the Holy Bible, stressed that ‘Luke denies not that Andrew was there’.

In contrast, the Gospel of John (John 1:35–42) states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist, to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother.Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.

Subsequently, in the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus. Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), and when Philip wanted to tell Jesus about certain Greeks seeking Him, he told Andrew first (John 12:20–22). Andrew was present at the Last Supper. Andrew was one of the four disciples who came to Jesus on the Mount of Olives to ask about the signs of Jesus’ return at the “end of the age”.

Eusebius in his church history 3,1 quoted Origen as saying that Andrew preached in Scythia. The Chronicle of Nestor adds that he preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper river as far as Kiev, and from there he traveled to Novgorod. Hence, he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (later Constantinople and Istanbul) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew. Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew’s missions in Thrace, Scythia and Achaea. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew, along with Saint Stachys, is recognized as the patron saint of the Patriarchate.

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. The iconography of the martyrdom of Andrew — showing him bound to an X-shaped cross — does not appear to have been standardized until the later Middle Ages.

Source: Wikipedia

Clement I, Po & M; Columban, Ab; Bl. Miguel Pro, P & M

+Luke 19:45-48

You have turned God’s house into a robbers’ den

Jesus went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling. ‘According to scripture,’ he said ‘my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’

He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they did not see how they could carry this out because the people as a whole hung on his words.


Apocalypse 10:8-11

I was told to swallow the scroll, and to prophesy

I, John, heard the voice I had heard from heaven speaking to me again. ‘Go,’ it said ‘and take that open scroll out of the hand of the angel standing on sea and land.’ I went to the angel and asked him to give me the small scroll, and he said, ‘Take it and eat it; it will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.’ So I took it out of the angel’s hand, and swallowed it; it was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, ‘You are to prophesy again, this time about many different nations and countries and languages and emperors.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus’ ascent to Jerusalem

557 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem.” By this decision he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”

558 Jesus recalls the martyrdom of the prophets who had been put to death in Jerusalem. Nevertheless he persists in calling Jerusalem to gather around him: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”306 When Jerusalem comes into view he weeps over her and expresses once again his heart’s desire: “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.”


Psalm 118(119):14,24,72,103,111,131

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

I rejoiced to do your will

as though all riches were mine.

Your will is my delight;

your statutes are my counsellors.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

The law from your mouth means more to me

than silver and gold.

Your promise is sweeter to my taste

than honey in the mouth.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

Your will is my heritage for ever,

the joy of my heart.

I open my mouth and I sigh

as I yearn for your commands.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.


Pope Clement I (Latin: Clemens Romanus; Greek: Κλήμης Ῥώμης; died 99), also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as Bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 to his death in 99. He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church.

Few details are known about Clement’s life. Clement was said to have been consecrated by Saint Peter, and he is known to have been a leading member of the church in Rome in the late 1st century. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. The Liber Pontificalis states that Clement died in Greece in the third year of Emperor Trajan’s reign, or 101 AD.

Clement’s only genuine extant writing is his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Clement) in response to a dispute in which certain presbyters of the Corinthian church had been deposed. He asserted the authority of the presbyters as rulers of the church on the ground that the Apostles had appointed such. His letter, which is one of the oldest extant Christian documents outside the New Testament, was read in church, along with other epistles, some of which later became part of the Christian canon. These works were the first to affirm the apostolic authority of the clergy. A second epistle, 2 Clement, was attributed to Clement, although recent scholarship suggests it to be a homily by another author. In the legendary Clementine Literature, Clement is the intermediary through whom the apostles teach the church.

According to tradition, Clement was imprisoned under the Emperor Trajan; during this time he is recorded to have led a ministry among fellow prisoners. Thereafter he was executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.

Clement is recognized as a saint in many Christian churches and is considered a patron saint of mariners. He is commemorated on 23 November in the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Lutheran Church. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity his feast is kept on 24 or 25 November.


Columbanus (Irish: Columbán, 543 – 21 November 615), also known as St. Columban, was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil Abbey in present-day France and Bobbio Abbey in present-day Italy. He is remembered as a key figure in the Hiberno-Scottish mission, or Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.

Columbanus taught an Irish monastic rule and penitential practices for those repenting of sins, which emphasised private confession to a priest, followed by penances levied by the priest in reparation for the sins. Columbanus is one of the earliest identifiable Hiberno-Latin writers.


José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, S.J., also known as Blessed Miguel Pro (born January 13, 1891 – executed November 23, 1927) was a Mexican Jesuit Catholic priest executed under the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles on charges of bombing and attempted assassination of former Mexican President Álvaro Obregón.

Pro’s arrest, lack of trial, and evidential support gained prominence during the Cristero War. Known for his religious piety and innocence, he was beatified on September 25, 1988, by Pope John Paul II as a Catholic martyr, killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith).

Historical background

At the time of Pro’s death, Mexico was ruled by fiercely anti-clerical and anti-Catholic President Plutarco Elías Calles who had begun what writer Graham Greene called the “fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.”

Childhood

Miguel Pro, whose full name was José Ramón Miguel Agustín,[4] was born into a mining family on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Zacatecas. He was the third of eleven children, four of whom had died as infants or young children. Since a young age, he was called “Cocol” as a nickname. Two of his sisters joined the convent. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at El Llano on August 15, 1911.

Jesuit life in Mexico, persecution, exile abroad, and ordination

One of his companions, Fr. Pulido, said that he “had never seen such an exquisite wit, never coarse, always sparkling.” He was noted for his charity and ability to speak about spiritual subjects without boring his audience. Fr. Pulido remarked that there were two Pros: the playful Pro and the prayerful Pro. He was known for the long periods he spent in the chapel.

Long-time President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz was ousted in 1911 after staging a rigged reelection, and a struggle for power – the Mexican Revolution – began.

Pro studied in Mexico until 1914 when a massive wave of governmental anti-Catholicism forced the novitiate to dissolve and the Jesuits to flee to Los Gatos, California, in the United States. He then went to study in Granada, Spain (1915–19), and from 1919 to 1922 taught in Nicaragua.

Back in Mexico, a new constitution for the country had been signed (1917). Five articles of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico were particularly aimed at suppression of the Catholic Church. Article 3 mandated secular education in schools, prohibiting the Church from participating in primary and secondary education. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations’ rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 revoked basic civil rights of clergy members: priests and religious workers were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were forbidden from commenting on public affairs to the press. Most of the anti-clerical provisions of the constitution were removed in 1998.

For his theological studies Pro was sent to Enghien, Belgium, where the French Jesuits (also in exile) had their faculty of Theology. His health continued to deteriorate. There he was ordained a priest on August 31, 1925. He wrote on that occasion: “How can I explain to you the sweet grace of the Holy Spirit, which invades my poor miner’s soul with such heavenly joys? I could not hold back the tears on the day of my ordination, above all at the moment when I pronounced, together with the bishop, the words of the consecration. After the ceremony the new priests gave their first blessing to their parents. I went to my room, laid out all the photographs of my family on the table, and then blessed them from the bottom of my heart.”

His first assignment as a priest was to work with the miners of Charleroi, Belgium. Despite the socialist, communist, and anarchist tendencies of the workers, he was able to win them over and preach the Gospel to them.

Three months after ordination, he was forced to undergo several operations for ulcers. He remained cheerful and courageous, explaining that the source of his strength was his prayer.

Return to Mexico

In summer 1926 – his studies in Europe completed – Father Pro returned to Mexico. On the way he visited Lourdes where he celebrated Mass and visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Father Pro arrived at Veracruz on July 8, 1926. Plutarco Elías Calles was now president of Mexico. Unlike his predecessors, Calles vigorously enforced the anti-Catholic provisions of the 1917 constitution, implementing the so-called Calles Law, which provided specific penalties for priests who criticized the government (five years’ imprisonment) or wore clerical garb in certain situations outside their churches (500 pesos). This law went into effect on July 31, 1926.

By this time, some states, such as Tabasco under the notorious anti-Catholic Tomás Garrido Canabal, had closed all the churches and cleared the entire state of openly serving priests, killing many of them, forcing a few to marry, and the remaining few serving covertly at risk of their lives. On his return Pro served a Church which was forced to go “underground.” He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics.

Details of Pro’s ministry in the underground church come from his many letters, signed with the nickname Cocol. In October 1926, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was arrested and released from prison the next day, but kept under surveillance.

Arrest and Execution

A failed attempt to assassinate Álvaro Obregón, which only wounded him, in November 1927, provided the state with a pretext for arresting Pro again, this time with his brothers Humberto and Roberto. A young engineer who honestly confessed his part in the assassination testified that the Pro brothers were not involved. Miguel and his brothers were taken to the Detective Inspector’s Office in Mexico City.

On November 23, 1927, Fr. Pro was executed without trial. President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed for the assassination attempt, but in reality for defying the virtual outlawing of Catholicism. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers throughout the country carried photos on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. However, they had the opposite effect.

Pro and his brothers were visited by Generals Roberto Cruz and Palomera Lopez around 11 p.m. on November 22, 1927. The next day, as Pro walked from his cell to the courtyard and the firing squad, he blessed the soldiers, knelt, and briefly prayed quietly. Declining a blindfold, he faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ and shouted out, “May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!” Before the firing squad were ordered to shoot, Pro raised his arms in imitation of Christ and shouted the defiant cry of the Cristeros, “Viva Cristo Rey!” – “Long live Christ the King!”. When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him at point-blank range.

Calles is reported to have looked down upon a throng of 40,000 which lined Pro’s funeral procession. Another 20,000 waited at the cemetery where he was buried without a priest present, his father saying the final words. The Cristeros became more animated and fought with renewed enthusiasm, many of them carrying the newspaper photo of Pro before the firing squad.

Beatification

At Pro’s beatification in Mexico on September 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II said:

Neither suffering nor serious illness, nor the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death.

Source: Wikipedia

Margaret of Scotland; Gertrude, V

+Luke 17:26-37

When the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed

Jesus said to the disciples:

‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.

‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.’


+2 John 1:4-9

The commandment which you have heard since the beginning is to live a life of love

It has given me great joy to find that your children have been living the life of truth as we were commanded by the Father. I am writing now, dear lady, not to give you any new commandment, but the one which we were given at the beginning, and to plead: let us love one another.

To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love.

There are many deceivers about in the world, refusing to admit that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. They are the Deceiver; they are the Antichrist. Watch yourselves, or all our work will be lost and not get the reward it deserves. If anybody does not keep within the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it, he cannot have God with him: only those who keep to what he taught can have the Father and the Son with them.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Conversion And Society

1886 Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which “subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones:”

Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.

1887 The inversion of means and ends, which results in giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it, or in viewing persons as mere means to that end, engenders unjust structures which “make Christian conduct in keeping with the commandments of the divine Law-giver difficult and almost impossible.”

1888 It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it.

1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.” This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”


Psalm 118(119):1-2,10-11,17-18

They are happy who follow God’s law.

They are happy whose life is blameless,

who follow God’s law!

They are happy who do his will,

seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law.

I have sought you with all my heart;

let me not stray from your commands.

I treasure your promise in my heart

lest I sin against you.

They are happy who follow God’s law.

Bless your servant and I shall live

and obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see

the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law.


Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093), also known as Margaret of Wessex, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Margaret was sometimes called “The Pearl of Scotland”. Born in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the shortly reigned and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to the Kingdom of England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the end of 1070, Margaret had married King Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming Queen of Scots. She was a very pious Roman Catholic, and among many charitable works she established a ferry across the Firth of Forth in Scotland for pilgrims travelling to St Andrews in Fife, which gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names. Margaret was the mother of three kings of Scotland, or four, if Edmund of Scotland, who ruled with his uncle, Donald III, is counted, and of a queen consort of England. According to the Vita S. Margaritae (Scotorum) Reginae (Life of St. Margaret, Queen (of the Scots)), attributed to Turgot of Durham, she died at Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1093, merely days after receiving the news of her husband’s death in battle. In 1250 Pope Innocent IV canonized her, and her remains were reinterred in a shrine in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Her relics were dispersed after the Scottish Reformation and subsequently lost. Mary, Queen of Scots at one time owned her head, which was subsequently preserved by Jesuits in the Scottish College, Douai, France, from where it was subsequently lost during the French Revolution.

Early Life

Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England. After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, King Canute the Great had the infant Edward exiled to the continent. He was taken first to the court of the Swedish king, Olof Skötkonung, and then to Kiev. As an adult, he travelled to Hungary, where in 1046 he supported the successful bid of King Andrew I for the Hungarian crown. King Andrew I was then also known as “Andrew the Catholic” for his extreme aversion to pagans and great loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. The provenance of Margaret’s mother, Agatha, is disputed, but Margaret was born in Hungary c. 1045. Her brother Edgar the Ætheling and sister Cristina were also born in Hungary around this time. Margaret grew up in a very religious environment in the Hungarian court.

Return to England

Still a child, she came to England with the rest of her family when her father, Edward the Exile, was recalled in 1057 as a possible successor to her great-uncle, the childless King Edward the Confessor. Whether from natural or sinister causes, her father died immediately after landing, and Margaret continued to reside at the English court where her brother, Edgar Ætheling, was considered a possible successor to the English throne. When Edward the Confessor died in January 1066, Harold Godwinson was selected as king, possibly because Edgar was considered too young. After Harold’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings later that year, Edgar was proclaimed King of England, but when the Normans advanced on London, the Witenagemot presented Edgar to William the Conqueror, who took him to Normandy before returning him to England in 1068, when Edgar, Margaret, Cristina, and their mother Agatha fled north to Northumbria, England.

Journey to Scotland

According to tradition, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumbria, England with her children and return to the continent. However, a storm drove their ship north to the Kingdom of Scotland in 1068, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The locus where it is believed that they landed is known today as St Margaret’s Hope, near the village of North Queensferry, Fife, Scotland. Margaret’s arrival in Scotland, after the failed revolt of the Northumbrian earls, has been heavily romanticized, though Symeon of Durham implied that her first meeting of Malcolm III may not have been until 1070, after William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North.

King Malcolm III was a widower with two sons, Donald and Duncan. He would have been attracted to marrying one of the few remaining members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret occurred in 1070. Subsequently, Malcolm executed several invasions of Northumberland to support the claim of his new brother-in-law Edgar and to increase his own power. These, however, had little effect save the devastation of the County.

Piety

Margaret’s biographer Turgot of Durham, Bishop of St. Andrew’s, credits her with having a civilizing influence on her husband Malcolm by reading him narratives from the Bible. She instigated religious reform, striving to conform the worship and practices of the Church in Scotland to those of Rome. This she did on the inspiration and with the guidance of Lanfranc, a future Archbishop of Canterbury. She also worked to conform the practices of the Scottish Church to those of the continental Church, which she experienced in her childhood. Due to these achievements, she was considered an exemplar of the “just ruler”, and moreover influenced her husband and children, especially her youngest son, the future King David I of Scotland, to be just and holy rulers.

“The chroniclers all agree in depicting Queen Margaret as a strong, pure, noble character, who had very great influence over her husband, and through him over Scottish history, especially in its ecclesiastical aspects. Her religion, which was genuine and intense, was of the newest Roman style; and to her are attributed a number of reforms by which the Church [in] Scotland was considerably modified from the insular and primitive type which down to her time it had exhibited. Among those expressly mentioned are a change in the manner of observing Lent, which thenceforward began as elsewhere on Ash Wednesday and not as previously on the following Monday, and the abolition of the old practice of observing Saturday (Sabbath), not Sunday, as the day of rest from labour.”

She attended to charitable works, serving orphans and the poor every day before she ate and washing the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ. She rose at midnight every night to attend the liturgy. She successfully invited the Benedictine Order to establish a monastery in Dunfermline, Fife in 1072, and established ferries at Queensferry and North Berwick to assist pilgrims journeying from south of the Firth of Forth to St. Andrew’s in Fife. She used a cave on the banks of the Tower Burn in Dunfermline as a place of devotion and prayer. St. Margaret’s Cave, now covered beneath a municipal car park, is open to the public. Among other deeds, Margaret also instigated the restoration of Iona Abbey in Scotland. She is also known to have interceded for the release of fellow English exiles who had been forced into serfdom by the Norman conquest of England.

Margaret was as pious privately as she was publicly. She spent much of her time in prayer, devotional reading, and ecclesiastical embroidery. This apparently had considerable effect on the more uncouth Malcolm, who was illiterate: he so admired her piety that he had her books decorated in gold and silver. One of these, a pocket gospel book with portraits of the Evangelists, is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.

Malcolm was apparently largely ignorant of the long-term effects of Margaret’s endeavours, not being especially religious himself. He was content for her to pursue her reforms as she desired, which was a testament to the strength of and affection in their marriage.

Death

Her husband Malcolm III, and their eldest son Edward, were killed in the Battle of Alnwick against the English on 13 November 1093. Her son Edgar was left with the task of informing his mother of their deaths. Margaret was not yet 50 years old, but a life of constant austerity and fasting had taken its toll. Already ill, Margaret died on 16 November 1093, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son. She was buried before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. In 1250, the year of her canonization, her body and that of her husband were exhumed and placed in a new shrine in the Abbey. In 1560 Mary Queen of Scots had Margaret’s head removed to Edinburgh Castle as a relic to assist her in childbirth. In 1597 Margaret’s head ended up with the Jesuits at the Scottish College, Douai, France, but was lost during the French Revolution. King Philip of Spain had the other remains of Margaret and Malcolm III transferred to the Escorial palace in Madrid, Spain, but their present location has not been discovered.

Veneration

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work for ecclesiastical reform, and charity. On 19 June 1250, after her canonisation, her remains were transferred to a chapel in the eastern apse of Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. In 1693 Pope Innocent XII moved her feast day to 10 June in recognition of the birthdate of the son of James VII of Scotland and II of England. In the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, 16 November became free and the Church transferred her feast day to 16 November, the date of her death, on which it always had been observed in Scotland. However, some traditionalist Catholics continue to celebrate her feast day on 10 June.

She is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church.


Gertrude the Great (or Saint Gertrude of Helfta; Italian: Santa Gertrude; January 6, 1256 – c. 1302) was a German Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian. She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and is inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, for celebration throughout the Latin Rite on November 16.

Life

Little is known of the early life of Gertrude. Gertrude was born on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia (within the Holy Roman Empire). At the age of four, she entered the monastery school at the monastery of St. Mary at Helfta (with much debate having occurred as to whether this monastery is best described as Benedictine or Cistercian), under the direction of its abbess, Gertrude of Hackeborn. It is speculated that she was offered as a child oblate to the Church by devout parents. Given that Gertrude implies in the Herald that her parents were long dead at the time of writing, however, it is also possible that she entered the monastery school as an orphan.

Gertrude was confided to the care of St. Mechtilde, younger sister of the Abbess Gertrude, and joined the monastic community in 1266. It is clear from her own writings that she received a thorough education in a range of subjects. She, and the nun who authored Books 1 and 3-5 of the Herald, are thoroughly familiar with scripture, the Fathers of the Church such as Augustine and Gregory the Great, and also in more contemporary spiritual writers such as Richard and Hugh of St Victor, William of St Thierry, and Bernard of Clairvaux. Moreover, Gertrude’s writing demonstrates that she was well-versed in rhetoric, and her Latin is very fluent.

In 1281, at the age of 25, she experienced the first of a series of visions that continued throughout her life, and which changed the course of her life. Her priorities shifted away from secular knowledge and toward the study of Scripture and theology. Gertrude devoted herself strongly to personal prayer and meditation, and began writing spiritual treatises for the benefit of her monastic sisters. Gertrude became one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Together with her friend and teacher St. Mechtild, she practiced a spirituality called “nuptial mysticism,” that is, she came to see herself as the bride of Christ.

Gertrude died at Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony, around 1302. Her feastday is celebrated on November 16, but the exact date of her death is unknown; the November date stems from a confusion with Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn.

Veneration

Gertrude was never formally canonized, but a liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. The Feast of St. Gertrude was extended to the universal Church by Clement XII and today is celebrated on November 16, the date of her death. Some Religious communities, including the Benedictines, celebrate her feast on November 17. Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title “the Great” to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.

Gertrude showed “tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory” and urged prayers for them.She is therefore invoked for suffering souls in purgatory. The following prayer is attributed to St. Gertrude, and is often depicted on her Prayer card:

“              Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.       ”

Perhaps for that reason, her name has been attached to a prayer that, according to a legend of uncertain origin and date (neither are found in the Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great), Christ promised to release a thousand souls from purgatory each time it was said; despite the fact that practices relative to alleged promises to free one or more souls from purgatory by the recitation of some prayer were prohibited by Pope Leo XIII. Nonetheless, the material that is found in her Revelations, such as the celebration of Gregorian Masses for the departed, is well in line with the devotions approved by the Catholic Church.

Source: Wikipedia