Friday of week 25 in Ordinary Time

Luke 9:18-22

‘You are the Christ of God’

One day when Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ It was Peter who spoke up. ‘The Christ of God’ he said. But he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

  ‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’


Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

There is a time for every occupation under heaven

There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven:

A time for giving birth,

  a time for dying;

  a time for planting,

  a time for uprooting what has been planted.

A time for killing,

  a time for healing;

  a time for knocking down,

  a time for building.

A time for tears,

  a time for laughter;

  a time for mourning,

  a time for dancing.

A time for throwing stones away,

  a time for gathering them up;

  a time for embracing,

  a time to refrain from embracing.

A time for searching,

  a time for losing;

  a time for keeping,

  a time for throwing away.

A time for tearing,

  a time for sewing;

  a time for keeping silent,

  a time for speaking.

A time for loving,

  a time for hating;

  a time for war,

  a time for peace.

What does a man gain for the efforts that he makes? I contemplate the task that God gives mankind to labour at. All that he does is apt for its time; but though he has permitted man to consider time in its wholeness, man cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end.


Psalm 143(144):1-4

Blessed be the Lord, my rock.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock.

He is my love, my fortress;

  he is my stronghold, my saviour

my shield, my place of refuge.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock.

Lord, what is man that you care for him,

  mortal man, that you keep him in mind;

man, who is merely a breath

  whose life fades like a passing shadow?

Blessed be the Lord, my rock.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Good News: God has sent his Son

422 ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’ This is ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’: God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation – he has sent his own ‘beloved Son’.

423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’, ‘descended from heaven’, and ‘came in the flesh’. For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’

424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.

“To preach. . . the unsearchable riches of Christ”

425 The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” It and they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. and we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

Friday of week 24 in Ordinary Time

Luke 8:1-3

The women who accompanied Jesus

Jesus made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.


1 Corinthians 15:12-20

If Christ has not been raised, your belief is useless

Now if Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ himself cannot have been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and your believing it is useless; indeed, we are shown up as witnesses who have committed perjury before God, because we swore in evidence before God that he had raised Christ to life. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

  But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.


Psalm 16(17):1,6-8,15

I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.

Lord, hear a cause that is just,

  pay heed to my cry.

Turn your ear to my prayer:

  no deceit is on my lips.

I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.

I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.

  Turn your ear to me; hear my words.

Display your great love, you whose right hand saves

  your friends from those who rebel against them.

I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.

Guard me as the apple of your eye.

  Hide me in the shadow of your wings

As for me, in my justice I shall see your face

  and be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory.

I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“The kingdom of God is at hand”

541 “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel.'” “To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth.” Now the Father’s will is “to raise up men to share in his own divine life”. He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, “on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdoms”.

542 Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the “family of God”. By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery – his death on the cross and his Resurrection – he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Into this union with Christ all men are called.

Friday of week 22 in Ordinary Time

Luke 5:33-39

When the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast

The Pharisees and the scribes said to Jesus, ‘John’s disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.’

He also told them this parable, ‘No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

‘And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “The old is good” he says.’


1 Corinthians 4:1-5

The Lord alone is our judge

People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.


Psalm 36(37):3-6,27-28,39-40

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

If you trust in the Lord and do good,

then you will live in the land and be secure.

If you find your delight in the Lord,

he will grant your heart’s desire.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Commit your life to the Lord,

trust in him and he will act,

so that your justice breaks forth like the light,

your cause like the noon-day sun.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Then turn away from evil and do good

and you shall have a home for ever;

for the Lord loves justice

and will never forsake his friends.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord,

their stronghold in time of distress.

The Lord helps them and delivers them

and saves them: for their refuge is in him.

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The New Law Or The Law Of The Gospel

1965 The New Law or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed. It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit and through him it becomes the interior law of charity: “I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel. . . . I will put my laws into their hands, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

1966 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It works through charity; it uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it:

If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount, as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, he will doubtless find there . . . the perfect way of the Christian life. . . . This sermon contains . . . all the precepts needed to shape one’s life.

1967 The Law of the Gospel “fulfills,” refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection.21 In the Beatitudes, the New Law fulfills the divine promises by elevating and orienting them toward the “kingdom of heaven.” It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith – the poor, the humble, the afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of Christ and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom.

1968 The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: it reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the impure, where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors, in emulation of the divine generosity.

1969 The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the “Father who sees in secret,” in contrast with the desire to “be seen by men.” Its prayer is the Our Father.

1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between “the two ways” and to put into practice the words of the Lord.26 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets.”

The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the “new commandment” of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us.

1971 To the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount it is fitting to add the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, such as Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-5, etc. This doctrine hands on the Lord’s teaching with the authority of the apostles, particularly in the presentation of the virtues that flow from faith in Christ and are animated by charity, the principal gift of the Holy Spirit. “Let charity be genuine. . . . Love one another with brotherly affection. . . . Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”29 This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church.30

1972 The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who “does not know what his master is doing” to that of a friend of Christ – “For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” – or even to the status of son and heir.

1973 Besides its precepts, the New Law also includes the evangelical counsels. The traditional distinction between God’s commandments and the evangelical counsels is drawn in relation to charity, the perfection of Christian life. The precepts are intended to remove whatever is incompatible with charity. The aim of the counsels is to remove whatever might hinder the development of charity, even if it is not contrary to it.

1974 The evangelical counsels manifest the living fullness of charity, which is never satisfied with not giving more. They attest its vitality and call forth our spiritual readiness. The perfection of the New Law consists essentially in the precepts of love of God and neighbor. The counsels point out the more direct ways, the readier means, and are to be practiced in keeping with the vocation of each:

[God] does not want each person to keep all the counsels, but only those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths, as charity requires; for it is charity, as queen of all virtues, all commandments, all counsels, and, in short, of all laws and all Christian actions that gives to all of them their rank, order, time, and value.

Saint Augustine, Bishop, Doctor

Matthew 25:1-13

The wise and foolish virgins

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’


1 Corinthians 1:17-25

We preach a crucified Christ, the power and wisdom of God

Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed. The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save. As scripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing all the learning of the learned. Where are the philosophers now? Where are the scribes? Where are any of our thinkers today? Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message that we preach. And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here are we preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.


Psalm 32(33):1-2,4-5,10-11

The Lord fills the earth with his love.

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;

for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,

with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

The Lord fills the earth with his love.

For the word of the Lord is faithful

and all his works to be trusted.

The Lord loves justice and right

and fills the earth with his love.

The Lord fills the earth with his love.

He frustrates the designs of the nations,

he defeats the plans of the peoples.

His own designs shall stand for ever,

the plans of his heart from age to age.

The Lord fills the earth with his love.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

He Will Come Again In Glory

Christ already reigns through the Church. . .

668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.” Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.

669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom”.

670 Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour”. “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.” Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.

. . .until all things are subjected to him

671 Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover. Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.” That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”

672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace. According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.


Augustine of Hippo (/ɔːˈɡʌstɪn/ or /ˈɔːɡəstiːn/; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430) was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in north Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Era. Among his most important works are The City of God and Confessions.

Background

Augustine of Hippo (/ɔːˈɡʌstɪn/, /əˈɡʌstɪn/,[20] or /ˈɔːɡʌstɪn/; Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis;[ 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, (/ˈɔːstɪn/ or /ˈɑːstɪn/), is known by various cognomens throughout the Christian world across its many denominations including Blessed Augustine, and the Doctor of Grace (Latin: Doctor gratiae)

Hippo Regius, where Augustine was the bishop, was in modern-day Annaba, Algeria, located in Numidia (Roman province of Africa).

Childhood and education

Augustine was born in the year 354 AD in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa.His mother, Monica or Monnica, was a devout Christian; his father Patricius was a Pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed. Scholars generally agree that Augustine and his family were Berbers, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, but that they were heavily Romanized, speaking only Latin at home as a matter of pride and dignity. In his writings, Augustine leaves some information as to the consciousness of his African heritage. For example, he refers to Apuleius as “the most notorious of us Africans,” to Ponticianus as “a country man of ours, insofar as being African,” and to Faustus of Mileve as “an African Gentleman.”

Augustine’s family name, Aurelius, suggests that his father’s ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212. Augustine’s family had been Roman, from a legal standpoint, for at least a century when he was born.It is assumed that his mother, Monica, was of Berber origin, on the basis of her name, but as his family were honestiores, an upper class of citizens known as honorable men, Augustine’s first language is likely to have been Latin.

At the age of 11, Augustine was sent to school at Madaurus (now M’Daourouch), a small Numidian city about 19 miles (31 km) south of Thagaste. There he became familiar with Latin literature, as well as pagan beliefs and practices. His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden. He tells this story in his autobiography, The Confessions. He remembers that he did not steal the fruit because he was hungry, but because “it was not permitted.” His very nature, he says, was flawed. ‘It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.” From this incident he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin, and in need of the grace of Christ.

At the age of 17, through the generosity of his fellow citizen Romanianus, Augustine went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. It was while he was a student in Carthage that he read Cicero’s dialogue Hortensius (now lost), which he described as leaving a lasting impression and sparking his interest in philosophy. Although raised as a Christian, Augustine left the church to follow the Manichaean religion, much to his mother’s despair. As a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits. The need to gain their acceptance forced inexperienced boys like Augustine to seek or make up stories about sexual experiences. It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

At about the age of 19, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. Though his mother wanted him to marry a person of his class, the woman remained his lover for over fifteen years and gave birth to his son Adeodatus, who was viewed as extremely intelligent by his contemporaries. In 385, Augustine ended his relationship with his lover in order to prepare himself to marry a ten-year-old heiress. (He had to wait for two years because the legal age of marriage for women was twelve.) By the time he was able to marry her, however, he instead decided to become a celibate priest.

Augustine was from the beginning a brilliant student, with an eager intellectual curiosity, but he never mastered Greek —he tells us that his first Greek teacher was a brutal man who constantly beat his students, and Augustine rebelled and refused to study. By the time he realized that he needed to know Greek, it was too late; and although he acquired a smattering of the language, he was never eloquent with it. However, his mastery of Latin was another matter. He became an expert both in the eloquent use of the language and in the use of clever arguments to make his points.

Move to Carthage, Rome, Milan

Augustine taught grammar at Thagaste during 373 and 374. The following year he moved to Carthage to conduct a school of rhetoric and would remain there for the next nine years.Disturbed by unruly students in Carthage, he moved to establish a school in Rome, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced, in 383. However, Augustine was disappointed with the apathetic reception. It was the custom for students to pay their fees to the professor on the last day of the term, and many students attended faithfully all term, and then did not pay.

Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, who while traveling through Carthage had been asked by the imperial court at Milan to provide a rhetoric professor. Augustine won the job and headed north to take his position in Milan in late 384. Thirty years old, he had won the most visible academic position in the Latin world at a time when such posts gave ready access to political careers.

Although Augustine showed some fervour for Manichaeism, he was never an initiate or “elect”, but an “auditor”, the lowest level in the sect’s hierarchy. While still at Carthage a disappointing meeting with the Manichaean Bishop, Faustus of Mileve, a key exponent of Manichaean theology, started Augustine’s scepticism of Manichaeanism. In Rome, he reportedly turned away from Manichaeanism, embracing the scepticism of the New Academy movement. Because of his education, Augustine had great rhetorical prowess and was very knowledgeable of the philosophies behind many faiths. At Milan, his mother’s religiosity, Augustine’s own studies in Neoplatonism, and his friend Simplicianus all urged him towards Christianity. Initially Augustine was not strongly influenced by Christianity and its ideologies, but after coming in contact with Ambrose of Milan, Augustine reevaluated himself and was forever changed.

Like Augustine, Ambrose was a master of rhetoric, but older and more experienced.

Augustine was very much influenced by Ambrose, even more than by his own mother and others he admired. Augustine arrived in Milan and was immediately taken under the wing by Ambrose. Within his Confessions, Augustine states, “That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should.”

Soon, their relationship grew, as Augustine wrote, “And I began to love him, of course, not at the first as a teacher of the truth, for I had entirely despaired of finding that in thy Church—but as a friendly man.” Augustine visited Ambrose in order to see if Ambrose was one of the greatest speakers and rhetoricians in the world. More interested in his speaking skills than the topic of speech, Augustine quickly discovered that Ambrose was a spectacular orator. Eventually, Augustine says that he was spiritually led into the faith of Christianity.

Augustine’s mother had followed him to Milan and arranged a marriage for him. Although Augustine accepted this marriage, for which he had to abandon his concubine, he was deeply hurt by the loss of his lover. He wrote, “My mistress being torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, my heart, which clave to her, was racked, and wounded, and bleeding.” Augustine confessed that he was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, so he procured another concubine since he had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age. However, his emotional wound was not healed, even began to fester.

There is evidence that Augustine may have considered this former relationship to be equivalent to marriage. In his Confessions, he admitted that the experience eventually produced a decreased sensitivity to pain. Augustine eventually broke off his engagement to his eleven-year-old fiancée, but never renewed his relationship with either of his concubines. Alypius of Thagaste steered Augustine away from marriage, saying that they could not live a life together in the love of wisdom if he married. Augustine looked back years later on the life at Cassiciacum, a villa outside of Milan where he gathered with his followers, and described it as Christianae vitae otium – the Christian life of leisure.

Christian conversion and priesthood

In late August of 386, at the age of 31, after having heard and been inspired and moved by the story of Ponticianus’s and his friends’ first reading of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert, Augustine converted to Christianity. As Augustine later told it, his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to “take up and read” (Latin: tolle, lege), which he took as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw. Augustine read from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – the “Transformation of Believers” section, consisting of chapters 12 to 15 – wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers, and the believers’ resulting behaviour. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14, to wit:

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.

He later wrote an account of his conversion – his very transformation, as Paul described – in his Confessions (Latin: Confessiones), which has since become a classic of Christian theology and a key text in the history of autobiography. This work is an outpouring of thanksgiving and penitence. Although it is written as an account of his life, the Confessions also talks about the nature of time, causality, free will, and other important philosophical topics. The following is taken from that work:

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,

Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.

Thou was with me when I was not with Thee.

Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.

Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispell my blindness.

Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.

For Thyself Thou hast made us,

And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.

Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.

Ambrose baptized Augustine, along with his son Adeodatus, in Milan on Easter Vigil, April 24–25, 387. A year later, in 388, Augustine completed his apology On the Holiness of the Catholic Church. That year, also, Adeodatus and Augustine returned home to Africa. Augustine’s mother Monica died at Ostia, Italy, as they prepared to embark for Africa. Upon their arrival, they began a life of aristocratic leisure at Augustine’s family’s property. Soon after, Adeodatus, too, died. Augustine then sold his patrimony and gave the money to the poor. The only thing he kept was the family house, which he converted into a monastic foundation for himself and a group of friends.

In 391 Augustine was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius (now Annaba), in Algeria. He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combating the Manichaean religion, to which he had formerly adhered.

In 395, he was made coadjutor Bishop of Hippo, and became full Bishop shortly thereafter, hence the name “Augustine of Hippo”; and he gave his property to the church of Thagaste. He remained in that position until his death in 430. He wrote his autobiographical Confessions in 397–398. His work The City of God was written to console his fellow Christians shortly after the Visigoths had sacked Rome in 410.

Augustine worked tirelessly in trying to convince the people of Hippo to convert to Christianity. Though he had left his monastery, he continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a regula for his monastery that led to his designation as the “patron saint of regular clergy.”

Much of Augustine’s later life was recorded by his friend Possidius, bishop of Calama (present-day Guelma, Algeria), in his Sancti Augustini Vita. Possidius admired Augustine as a man of powerful intellect and a stirring orator who took every opportunity to defend Christianity against its detractors. Possidius also described Augustine’s personal traits in detail, drawing a portrait of a man who ate sparingly, worked tirelessly, despised gossip, shunned the temptations of the flesh, and exercised prudence in the financial stewardship of his see.

Death and veneration

Shortly before Augustine’s death the Vandals, a Germanic tribe that had converted to Arianism, invaded Roman Africa. The Vandals besieged Hippo in the spring of 430, when Augustine entered his final illness. According to Possidius, one of the few miracles attributed to Augustine, the healing of an ill man, took place during the siege. According to Possidius, Augustine spent his final days in prayer and repentance, requesting that the penitential Psalms of David be hung on his walls so that he could read them. He directed that the library of the church in Hippo and all the books therein should be carefully preserved. He died on 28 August 430. Shortly after his death, the Vandals lifted the siege of Hippo, but they returned not long thereafter and burned the city. They destroyed all of it but Augustine’s cathedral and library, which they left untouched.

Augustine was canonized by popular acclaim, and later recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII. His feast day is 28 August, the day on which he died. He is considered the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Pius X, Pope

Matthew 22:34-40

The commandments of love

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’


Ezekiel 37:1-14

A vision of Israel’s death and resurrection

The hand of the Lord was laid on me, and he carried me away by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley, a valley full of bones. He made me walk up and down among them. There were vast quantities of these bones on the ground the whole length of the valley; and they were quite dried up. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘You know, Lord.’ He said, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Say, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this to these bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am the Lord.”’ I prophesied as I had been ordered. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a sound of clattering; and the bones joined together. I looked, and saw that they were covered with sinews; flesh was growing on them and skin was covering them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, “The Lord says this: Come from the four winds, breath; breathe on these dead; let them live!”’ I prophesied as he had ordered me, and the breath entered them; they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great, an immense army.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They keep saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone; we are as good as dead.” So prophesy. Say to them, “The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.”’


Psalm 106(107):2-9

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let them say this, the Lord’s redeemed,

whom he redeemed from the hand of the foe

and gathered from far-off lands,

from east and west, north and south.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Some wandered in the desert, in the wilderness,

finding no way to a city they could dwell in.

Hungry they were and thirsty;

their soul was fainting within them.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their need

and he rescued them from their distress

and he led them along the right way,

to reach a city they could dwell in.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let them thank the Lord for his love,

for the wonders he does for men:

for he satisfies the thirsty soul;

he fills the hungry with good things.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Jesus said to his disciples: “Love one another even as I have loved you.”

2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ the second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”


Pope Saint Pius X (Italian: Pio X), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, (2 June 1835 – 20 August 1914) was Pope from August 1903 to his death in 1914. He was canonized in 1954. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology. His most important reform was to order the codification of the first Code of Canon Law, which collected the laws of the Church into one volume for the first time. He was also considered a pastoral pope, in the sense of encouraging personal holiness, piety and a daily lifestyle reflecting deep Christian values. He was born in the town of Riese, which would later append “Pio X” (Pius X’s name in Italian) to the town’s name.

Pius X was particularly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the specific title of Our Lady of Confidence; his papal encyclical Ad diem illum expresses his desire through Mary to renew all things in Christ, which he had defined as his motto in his first encyclical. Pius X believed that there was no surer or more direct road than by the Virgin Mary to achieve this goal. Pius X was the only pope in the 20th century with extensive pastoral experience and implementation at the parish level, which led him to favor the use of the vernacular language in teaching catechesis, while the encouragement for frequent reception of holy communion became a lasting innovation of his papacy. His immediate predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, had actively promoted a synthesis between the Catholic Church and secular culture; faith and science; and divine revelation and reason. Pius X defended the Catholic faith against popular 19th-century attitudes and views such as indifferentism and relativism which his predecessors had warned against as well. He followed the example of Leo XIII by promoting Thomas Aquinas and Thomism as the principal philosophical method to be taught in Catholic institutions. Pius X vehemently opposed modernism, which claimed that Roman Catholic dogma should be modernized and blended with nineteenth-century philosophies. He viewed modernism as an import of secular errors affecting three areas of Roman Catholic belief: theology, philosophy, and dogma.

Personally, Pius X combined within himself a strong sense of compassion, benevolence and poverty, but also stubbornness and a certain stiffness. He wanted to be pastoral in the sense that he was the only pope in the 20th century who gave Sunday homily sermons in the pulpit every week. After the 1908 Messina earthquake he filled the Apostolic Palace with refugees, long before the Italian government acted. He rejected any kind of favours for his family; his brother remained a postal clerk, his favourite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people. I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor. During his papacy, some of the world-renowned Marian images were granted a Canonical Coronation, namely the Our Lady of Aparecida, Our Lady of the Cape, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá, Our Lady of the Lake of Mexico, Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, Virgin of Help of Venezuela, Our Lady of Carmel of New York, and the Immaculate Conception within the Chapel of the Choir inside Saint Peter’s Basilica were granted its prestigious honors.

Considered a holy person by many, public veneration of Pope Pius X began soon after his death. Numerous petitions resulted in an early process of beatification which started in the 1920s, and which resulted in his canonization on 29 May 1954. The Society of Saint Pius X, a Traditionalist Catholic group, is named in his honor. St. Peter’s Basilica holds a monumental statue of him and the town of his birth was renamed after his canonization.

Early life and ministry

Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born in Riese, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Austrian Empire (now Italy, province of Treviso) in 1835. He was the second born of ten children of Giovanni Battista Sarto (1792–1852) and Margarita Sanson (1813–94). He was baptised 3 June 1835. Giuseppe’s childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 3.75 miles (6.04 km) to school each day.

Giuseppe had three brothers and six sisters: Giuseppe Sarto, 1834 (died after six days); Angelo Sarto, 1837–1916; Teresa Parolin-Sarto, 1839–1920; Rosa Sarto, 1841–1913; Antonia Dei Bei-Sarto, 1843–1917; Maria Sarto, 1846–1930; Lucia Boschin-Sarto, 1848–1924; Anna Sarto, 1850–1926; Pietro Sarto, 1852 (died after six months). He rejected any kind of favours for his family; his brother remained a postal clerk, his favourite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three single sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome, in the same way as other people of the same humble background lived.

At a young age, Giuseppe studied Latin with his village priest, and went on to study at the gymnasium of Castelfranco Veneto. “In 1850 he received the tonsure from the Bishop of Treviso, and was given a scholarship [from] the Diocese of Treviso” to attend the Seminary of Padua, “where he finished his classical, philosophical, and theological studies with distinction”.

On 18 September 1858, Sarto was ordained a priest, and became chaplain at Tombolo. While there, Father Sarto expanded his knowledge of theology, studying both Saint Thomas Aquinas and canon law, while carrying out most of the functions of the parish pastor, who was quite ill. In 1867, he was named archpriest of Salzano. Here he restored the Church and expanded the hospital, the funds coming from his own begging, wealth and labour. He became popular with the people when he worked to assist the sick during the cholera plague that swept into northern Italy in the early 1870s. He was named a canon of the cathedral and chancellor of the Diocese of Treviso, also holding offices such as spiritual director and rector of the Treviso seminary, and examiner of the clergy. As chancellor he made it possible for public school students to receive religious instruction. As a priest and later bishop, he often struggled over solving problems of bringing religious instruction to rural and urban youth who did not have the opportunity to attend Catholic schools.

In 1878, Bishop Zinelli died, leaving the Bishopric of Treviso vacant. Following Zinelli’s death, the canons of cathedral chapters (of which Monsignor Sarto was one) inherited the episcopal jurisdiction as a corporate body, and were chiefly responsible for the election of a vicar-capitular who would take over the responsibilities of Treviso until a new bishop was named. In 1879, Sarto was elected to the position, in which he served from December of that year to June 1880.

After 1880, Sarto taught dogmatic theology and moral theology at the seminary in Treviso. On 10 November 1884, he was appointed bishop of Mantua by Leo XIII. He was consecrated six days later in Rome in the church of Sant’Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine, Rome, by Lucido Cardinal Parocchi, assisted by Pietro Rota, and by Giovanni Maria Berengo. He was appointed to the honorary position of assistant at the pontifical throne on 19 June 1891. Father Sarto required papal dispensation from Pope Leo XIII before episcopal consecration as he lacked a doctorate, making him the last Pope without a doctorate before Pope Francis.

Cardinal and Patriarch

Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in an open consistory on 12 June 1893. He was created and proclaimed as Cardinal-Priest of San Bernardo alle Terme. Three days after this, Cardinal Sarto was privately named Patriarch of Venice. His name became public two days later. This caused difficulty, however, as the government of the reunified Italy claimed the right to nominate the patriarch based on its previous alleged exercise by the Emperor of Austria. The poor relations between the Roman Curia and the Italian civil government since the annexation of the Papal States in 1870 placed additional strain on the appointment. The number of vacant sees soon grew to 30. Sarto was finally permitted to assume the position of patriarch in 1894.

As cardinal-patriarch, Sarto avoided political involvement, allocating his time for social works and strengthening parochial banks. However, in his first pastoral letter to the Venetians, Cardinal Sarto argued that in matters pertaining to the pope, “There should be no questions, no subtleties, no opposing of personal rights to his rights, but only obedience.”

Pontifical election of 1903

On 20 July 1903, Leo XIII died, and at the end of that month the conclave convened to elect his successor. According to historians, the favorite was the late pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla. On the first ballot, Rampolla received 24 votes, Gotti had 17 votes, and Sarto five votes. On the second ballot, Rampolla had gained five votes, as did Sarto. The next day, it seemed that Rampolla would be elected. However, the veto (jus exclusivae) against Rampolla’s nomination, by Polish Cardinal Jan Puzyna de Kosielsko from Kraków in the name of Emperor Franz Joseph (1848–1916) of Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed. Many in the conclave, including Rampolla, protested against the veto, and it was even suggested that he be elected pope despite the veto.

However, the third vote had already begun, and thus the conclave had to continue with the voting, which resulted in no clear winner, though it did indicate that many of the conclave wished to turn their support to Sarto, who had 21 votes upon counting. The fourth vote showed Rampolla with 30 votes and Sarto with 24. It seemed clear that the cardinals were moving toward Sarto.

On the following morning, the fifth vote of the conclave was taken, and the count had Rampolla with 10 votes, Gotti with two votes, and Sarto with 50 votes. Thus, on 4 August 1903, Cardinal Sarto was elected to the pontificate. This marked the last time a veto would be exercised by a Catholic monarch in the proceedings of the conclave.

At first, it is reported, Sarto declined the nomination, feeling unworthy. Additionally, he had been deeply saddened by the Austro-Hungarian veto and vowed to rescind these powers and excommunicate anyone who communicated such a veto during a conclave. With the cardinals asking him to reconsider, it is further reported, he went into solitude, and took the position after deep prayer in the Pauline chapel and the urging of his fellow cardinals.

In accepting the papacy, Sarto took as his papal name Pius X, out of respect for his recent predecessors of the same name, particularly that of Pope Pius IX (1846–78), who had fought against theological liberals and for papal supremacy. Pius X’s traditional coronation took place on the following Sunday, 9 August 1903. Upon being elected pope he was also formally the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, prefect of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches and prefect of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation. There was however a cardinal-secretary to run these bodies on a day-to-day basis.

The pontificate of Pius X was noted for its conservative theology and reforms in liturgy and church law. In what became his motto, the Pope stated in 1903 that his papacy would undertake Instaurare Omnia in Christo, or “to restore all things in Christ.” In his first encyclical (E supremi apostolatus, 4 October 1903), he stated his overriding policy as follows: “We champion the authority of God. His authority and Commandments should be recognized, deferred to, and respected.”

His simple origins became clear right after his election, when he wore a pectoral cross made of gilded metal on the day of his coronation and when his entourage was horrified, the new pope complained that he always wore it and that he had brought no other with him. He was well known for cutting down on papal ceremonies. He also abolished the custom of the pope dining alone, which had been established by Pope Urban VIII, and invited his friends to eat with him.

When chided by Rome’s social leaders for refusing to make his peasant sisters papal countesses, he responded: “I have made them sisters of the Pope; what more can I do for them?”

He developed a reputation as being very friendly with children. He carried candy in his pockets for the street urchins in Mantua and Venice, and taught catechism to them. During papal audiences, he would gather children around him and talk to them about things that interested them. His weekly catechism lessons in the courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican always included a special place for children, and his decision to require the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in every parish was partly motivated by a desire to reclaim children from religious ignorance.

Church reforms and theology

Pius X promoted daily communion for all Catholics, a practice that was criticized for introducing irreverence. In his 1904 encyclical Ad diem illum, he views Mary in the context of “restoring everything in Christ”.

He wrote:

Spiritually we all are her children and she is the mother of us, therefore, she is to be revered like a mother. Christ is the Word made Flesh and the Savior of mankind. He had a physical body like every other man: and as savior of the human family, he had a spiritual and mystical body, the Church. This, the Pope argues has consequences for our view of the Blessed Virgin. She did not conceive the Eternal Son of God merely that He might be made man taking His human nature from her, but also, by giving him her human nature, that He might be the Redeemer of men. Mary, carrying the Savior within her, also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Savior. Therefore, all the faithful united to Christ, are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Through a spiritual and mystical fashion, all are children of Mary, and she is their Mother. Mother, spiritually, but truly Mother of the members of Christ (S. Aug. L. de S. Virginitate, c. 6).

Within three months of his coronation, Pius X published his motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini. Classical and Baroque compositions had long been favoured over Gregorian chant in ecclesiastical music. The Pope announced a return to earlier musical styles, championed by Don Perosi. Since 1898, Perosi had been Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, a title which Pius X upgraded to “Perpetual Director.” The Pope’s choice of Dom Joseph Pothier to supervise the new editions of chant led to the official adoption of the Solesmes edition of Gregorian chant.

Liturgical changes

In his papacy, Pius X worked to increase devotion in the lives of the clergy and laity, particularly in the Breviary, which he reformed considerably, and the Mass.

Besides restoring to prominence Gregorian Chant, he placed a renewed liturgical emphasis on the Eucharist, saying, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.” To this end, he encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion. This also extended to children who had reached the “age of discretion”, though he did not permit the ancient Eastern practice of infant communion. He also emphasized frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance so that Holy Communion would be received worthily. Pius X’s devotion to the Eucharist would eventually earn him the honorific of “Pope of the Blessed Sacrament”, by which he is still known among his devotees.

In 1910, he issued the decree Quam singulari, which changed the age at which communion could be received from 12 to 7 years old, the age of discretion. The pope lowered the age because he wished to impress the event on the minds of children and stimulate their parents to new religious observance; this decree was found unwelcome in some places due to the belief that parents would withdraw their children early from Catholic schools, now that First Communion was carried out earlier.

Pius X said in his 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini:

The primary and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit is participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public, official prayer of the church.

He also sought to modify papal ceremonies to underscore their religious significance by eliminating occasions for applause. For example, when entering his first public consistory for the creation of cardinals in November 1903, he was not carried above the crowds on the sedia gestatoria as was traditional. He arrived on foot wearing a cope and mitre at the end of the procession of prelates “almost hidden behind the double line of Palatine Guards through which he passed”.

Anti-modernism

Pope Leo XIII had sought to revive the inheritance of Thomas Aquinas, ‘the marriage of reason and revelation’, as a response to secular ‘enlightenment’. Under the pontificate of Pius X neo-Thomism became the blueprint for an approach to theology. Pius X’s papacy featured vigorous condemnation of what he termed ‘modernists’ and ‘relativists’ whom he regarded as dangers to the Catholic faith (see for example his Oath Against Modernism). This is perhaps the most controversial aspect of his papacy. He also encouraged the formation and efforts of Sodalitium Pianum (or League of Pius V), an anti-Modernist network of informants, which was seen negatively by many people due to its accusations of heresy against people on the flimsiest evidence. This campaign against Modernism was run by Umberto Benigni in the Department of Extraordinary Affairs in the Secretariat of State, distributing anti-Modernist propaganda and gathering information on “culprits”. Benigni had his own secret code—Pius X was known as Mama.

Pius X’s attitude toward the Modernists was uncompromising. Speaking of those who counseled compassion to the “culprits” he said: “They want them to be treated with oil, soap and caresses. But they should be beaten with fists. In a duel, you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can.”

The movement was linked especially with certain Catholic French scholars such as Louis Duchesne, who questioned the belief that God acts in a direct way in the affairs of humanity, and Alfred Loisy, who denied that some parts of Scripture were literally rather than perhaps metaphorically true. In contradiction to Thomas Aquinas they argued that there was an unbridgeable gap between natural and supernatural knowledge. Its unwanted effects, from the traditional viewpoint, were relativism and scepticism. Modernism and relativism, in terms of their presence in the Church, were theological trends that tried to assimilate modern philosophers like Kant as well as rationalism into Catholic theology. Modernists argued that beliefs of the Church have evolved throughout its history and continue to evolve. Anti-modernists viewed these notions as contrary to the dogmas and traditions of the Catholic Church.

In a decree, entitled Lamentabili Sane Exitu (or “A Lamentable Departure Indeed”), issued 3 July 1907, Pius X formally condemned 65 modernist or relativist propositions concerning the nature of the Church, revelation, biblical exegesis, the sacraments, and the divinity of Christ. This was followed by the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (or “Feeding the Lord’s Flock”), which characterized Modernism as the “synthesis of all heresies.” Following these, Pius X ordered that all clerics take the Sacrorum antistitum, an oath against Modernism. Pius X’s aggressive stance against modernism caused some disruption within the Church. Although only about 40 clerics refused to take the oath, Catholic scholarship with modernistic tendencies was substantially discouraged. Theologians who wished to pursue lines of inquiry in line with secularism, modernism, or relativism had to stop, or face conflict with the papacy, and possibly even excommunication.

Catechism of Saint Pius X

In 1905, Pius X in his letter Acerbo Nimis mandated the existence of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (catechism class) in every parish in the world.

The Catechism of Pius X is his realisation of a simple, plain, brief, popular catechism for uniform use throughout the whole world; it was used in the ecclesiastical province of Rome and for some years in other parts of Italy; it was not, however, prescribed for use throughout the universal church. The characteristics of Pius X were “simplicity of exposition and depth of content. Also because of this, Pius X’s catechism might have friends in the future.” The catechism was extolled as a method of religious teaching in his encyclical Acerbo Nimis of April 1905.

The Catechism of Saint Pius X was issued in 1908 in Italian, as Catechismo della dottrina Cristiana, Pubblicato per Ordine del Sommo Pontifice San Pio X. An English translation runs to more than 115 pages.

Asked in 2003 whether the almost 100-year-old Catechism of Saint Pius X was still valid, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: “The faith as such is always the same. Hence the Catechism of Saint Pius X always preserves its value. Whereas ways of transmitting the contents of the faith can change instead. And hence one may wonder whether the Catechism of Saint Pius X can in that sense still be considered valid today.”

Reform of Canon Law

Canon Law in the Catholic Church varied from region to region with no overall prescriptions. On 19 March 1904, Pope Pius X named a commission of cardinals to draft a universal set of laws. Two of his successors worked in the commission, Giacomo della Chiesa, who became Pope Benedict XV and Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII. This first Code of Canon Law was promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917, with an effective date of 19 May 1918 and remained effect until Advent 1983.

Reform of Church administration

Pius X reformed the Roman Curia with the constitution Sapienti Consilio, and specified new rules enforcing a bishop’s oversight of seminaries in the encyclical Pieni L’Animo. He established regional seminaries (closing some smaller ones), and promulgated a new plan of seminary study. He also barred clergy from administering social organizations.

Church policies towards secular governments

Pius X reversed the accommodating approach of Leo XIII towards secular governments, appointing Rafael Merry del Val as Cardinal Secretary of State (Merry del Val would later have his own cause opened for canonization in 1953, but still has not been beatified). When the French president Émile Loubet visited the Italian monarch Victor Emmanuel III (1900–46), Pius X, still refusing to accept the annexation of the Papal territories by Italy, reproached the French president for this visit and refused to meet him. This led to a diplomatic break with France,  and in 1905 France issued a Law of Separation, which separated church and state, and which the Pope denounced. The effect of this separation was the Church’s loss of its government funding in France. Two French bishops were removed by the Vatican for recognising the Third Republic. Eventually, France expelled the Jesuits and broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

The Pope adopted a similar position toward secular governments in other parts of the world: in Portugal, Ireland, Poland, Ethiopia, and a number of other states with large Catholic populations. His actions and statements against international relations with Italy angered the secular powers of these countries, as well as a few others, like the UK and Russia. In Ulster, Protestants were increasingly worried that a proposed Home Rule Ireland run by Catholics inspired by Pius X would result in Rome Rule.

In 1908, the papal decree Ne Temere came into effect which complicated mixed marriages. Marriages not performed by a Catholic priest were declared legal but sacramentally invalid, worrying some Protestants that the Church would counsel separation for couples married in a Protestant church or by civil service. Priests were given discretion to refuse to perform mixed marriages or lay conditions upon them, commonly including a requirement that the children be raised Catholic. The decree proved particularly divisive in Ireland, which has a large Protestant minority, contributing indirectly to the subsequent political conflict there and requiring debates in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

As secular authority challenged that of the papacy, Pius X became more aggressive. He suspended the Opera dei Congressi, which coordinated the work of Catholic associations in Italy, as well as condemning Le Sillon, a French social movement that tried to reconcile the Church with liberal political views. He also opposed trade unions that were not exclusively Catholic.

Pius X partially lifted decrees prohibiting Italian Catholics from voting; however, he never recognised the Italian government.

Relations with the Kingdom of Italy

Initially, Pius maintained his prisoner in the Vatican stance but with the rise of socialism he began to allow the Non Expedit to be relaxed. In 1905, in his encyclical Il Fermo Proposito he allowed Catholics to vote when they were “helping the maintenance of social order” by voting for deputies who were not socialist.

Relations with Poland and Russia

Under Pius X, the traditionally difficult situation of Polish Catholics in Russia did not improve. Although Nicholas II of Russia issued a decree 22 February 1903, promising religious freedom for the Catholic Church, and, in 1905, promulgated a constitution, which included religious freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church felt threatened and insisted on stiff interpretations. Papal decrees were not permitted and contacts with the Vatican remained outlawed.

Activities for the United States

In 1908, Pius X lifted the United States out of its missionary status, in recognition of the growth of the American church. Fifteen new dioceses were created in the US during his pontificate, and he named two American cardinals. He was very popular among American Catholics, partly due to his poor background, which made him appear to them as an ordinary person who was on the papal throne.

In 1910, the pope refused an audience with former Vice-President Charles W. Fairbanks, who had addressed the Methodist association in Rome, as well as with former President Theodore Roosevelt, who intended to address the same association.

On 8 July 1914, Pope Pius X approved the request of Cardinal James Gibbons to invoke the patronage of the Immaculate Conception for the construction site of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Miracles during the pope’s lifetime

Other than the stories of miracles performed through the pope’s intercession after his death, there are also stories of miracles performed by the pope during his lifetime. On one occasion, during a papal audience, Pius X was holding a paralyzed child who wriggled free from his arms and then ran around the room. On another occasion, a couple (who had made confession to him while he was bishop of Mantua) with a two-year-old child with meningitis wrote to the pope and Pius X then wrote back to them to hope and pray. Two days later, the child was cured.

Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini (later the Archbishop of Palermo) had visited the pope after Ruffini was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and the pope had told him to go back to the seminary and that he would be fine. Ruffini gave this story to the investigators of the pontiff’s cause for canonization.

Other activities

In addition to the political defense of the Church, liturgical changes, anti-modernism, and the beginning of the codification of Canon law, the papacy of Pius X saw the reorganisation of the Roman Curia. He also sought to update the education of priests, seminaries and their curricula were reformed. In 1904 Pope Pius X granted permission for diocesan seminarians to attend the College of St. Thomas. He raised the college to the status of Pontificium on May 2, 1906, thus making its degrees equivalent to those of the world’s other Pontifical universities. By Apostolic Letter of November 8, 1908, signed by the Supreme Pontiff on November 17, the college was transformed into the Collegium Pontificium Internationale Angelicum. It would become the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in 1963.

Pius X beatified ten individuals and canonized four. Those beatified during his pontificate, were Marie Genevieve Meunier (1906), Rose Chretien (1906), Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa (1906), Saint Clarus (1907), Zdislava Berka (1907), John Bosco (1907), John of Ruysbroeck (1908), Andrew Nam Thung (1909), Agatha Lin (1909), Agnes De (1909), Joan of Arc (1909), and John Eudes (1909). Those canonized by him were Alexander Sauli (1904), Gerard Majella (1904), Clement Mary Hofbauer (1909), and Joseph Oriol (1909).

Pius X published 16 encyclicals; among them was Vehementer nos on 11 February 1906, which condemned the 1905 French law on the separation of the State and the Church. Pius X also confirmed, though not infallibly, the existence of Limbo in Catholic theology in his 1905 Catechism, saying that the unbaptized “do not have the joy of God but neither do they suffer… they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they deserve Hell or Purgatory.” On 23 November 1903, Pius X issued a papal directive, a motu proprio, that banned women from singing in church choirs (i.e. the architectural choir).

In the Prophecy of St. Malachy, the collection of 112 prophecies about the popes, Pius X appears as Ignis Ardens or “Burning Fire.”

In November 1913, Pope Pius X declared tango dancing as immoral and off-limits to Catholics. Later, in January 1914, when tango proved to be too popular to declare off-limits, Pope Pius X tried a different tack, mocking tango as “one of the dullest things imaginable,” and recommending people take up dancing the furlana, a Venetian dance, instead.

Death and burial

In 1913, Pius X suffered a heart attack, and subsequently lived in the shadow of poor health. In 1914, the pope fell ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (15 August 1914), an illness from which he would not recover. His condition was worsened by the events leading to the outbreak of World War I (1914–18), which reportedly sent the 79-year-old pope into a state of melancholy. He died on 20 August 1914 of a heart attack, only a few hours after the death of Jesuit leader Franz Xavier Wernz and on the very day when German forces marched into Brussels.

Following his death, Pius X was buried in a simple and unadorned tomb in the crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica. Papal physicians had been in the habit of removing organs to aid the embalming process. Pius X expressly prohibited this in his burial and successive popes have continued this tradition.

Canonization

Although Pius X’s canonisation took place in 1954, the events leading up to it began immediately with his death. A letter of 24 September 1916 by Monsignor Leo, Bishop of Nicotera and Tropea, referred to Pius X as “a great Saint and a great Pope.” To accommodate the large number of pilgrims seeking access to his tomb, more than the crypt would hold, “a small metal cross was set into the floor of the basilica,” which read Pius Papa X, “so that the faithful might kneel down directly above the tomb”. Masses were held near his tomb until 1930.

Devotion to Pius X between the two world wars remained high. On 14 February 1923, in honor of the 20th anniversary of his accession to the papacy, the first moves toward his canonisation began with the formal appointment of those who would carry out his cause. The event was marked by the erecting of a monument in his memory in St. Peter’s Basilica. On 19 August 1939, Pope Pius XII (1939–58) delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo. On 12 February 1943, a further development of Pius X’s cause was achieved, when he was declared to have displayed heroic virtues, gaining therefore the title “Venerable”.

On 19 May 1944, Pius X’s coffin was exhumed and was taken to the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix in St. Peter’s Basilica for the canonical examination. Upon opening the coffin, the examiners found the body of Pius X remarkably well preserved, despite the fact that he had died 30 years before and had made wishes not to be embalmed. According to Jerome Dai-Gal, “all of the body” of Pius X “was in an excellent state of conservation”. After the examination and the end of the apostolic process towards Pius X’s cause, Pius XII bestowed the title of Venerable Servant of God upon Pius X. His body was exposed for 45 days (Rome was liberated by the allies during this time), before being placed back in his tomb.

Following this, the process towards beatification began, and investigations by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (S.C.R.) into miracles performed by intercessory work of Pius X took place. The S.C.R. would eventually recognize two miracles. The first involved Sr. Marie-Françoise Deperras, a nun who had bone cancer and was cured on 7 December 1928 during a novena in which a relic of Pius X was placed on her chest. The second involved Sr. Benedetta De Maria, who had cancer, and in a novena started in 1938, she eventually touched a relic statue of Pius X and was cured.

Pope Pius XII officially approved the two miracles on 11 February 1951; and on 4 March, Pius XII, in his De Tuto, declared that the Church could continue in the beatification of the Venerable Pope Pius X. His beatification took place on 3 June 1951 at St. Peter’s before 23 cardinals, hundreds of bishops and archbishops, and a crowd of 100,000 faithful. During his beatification decree, Pius XII referred to Pius X as “Pope of the Eucharist”, in honor of Pius X’s expansion of the rite to children.

The tomb of Pope Pius X

Following his beatification, on 17 February 1952, Pius X’s body was transferred from its tomb to the Vatican basilica and placed under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation. The pontiff’s body lies within a glass and bronze-work sarcophagus for the faithful to see.

On 29 May 1954, less than three years after his beatification, Pius X was canonized, following the S.C.R.’s recognition of two more miracles. The first involved Francesco Belsami, an attorney from Naples who had a pulmonary abscess, who was cured upon placing a picture of Pope Pius X upon his chest. The second miracle involved Sr. Maria Ludovica Scorcia, a nun who was afflicted with a serious neurotropic virus, and who, upon several novenas, was entirely cured. The canonization Mass was presided over by Pius XII at Saint Peter’s Basilica before a crowd of about 800,000[45] of the faithful and church officials at St. Peter’s Basilica. Pius X became the first pope to be canonized since Pius V in 1712.

Prayer cards often depict the sanctified Pontiff with instruments of Holy Communion. In addition to being celebrated as the “Pope of the Blessed Sacrament,” St. Pius X is also the patron saint of emigrants from Treviso. He is honored in numerous parishes in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and the United States.

The number of parishes, schools, seminaries and retreat houses named after him in western countries is very large, partly because he was very well known, and his beatification and canonization in the early 1950s was during a period of time following World War II when there was a great deal of new construction in cities and population growth in the era of the baby boom, thus leading to Catholic institutional expansion that correlated with the growing society.

Pius X’s feast day was assigned in 1955 to 3 September, to be celebrated as a Double. It remained thus for 15 years. In the 1960 calendar (incorporated in the 1962 Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII, whose continued use as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is authorized under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum) the rank was changed to Third-Class Feast. The rank in the General Roman Calendar since 1969 is that of Memorial and the feast day is obligatorily celebrated on 21 August, closer to the day of his death (20 August, impeded by the feast day of St Bernard).

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was a big supporter of his canonization, partly because he had ordained the need for its existence in every diocese and because it had received a great deal of episcopal criticism, and it was thought that by canonizing the pope who gave them their mandate, this would help inoculate against this criticism.They initiated a prayer crusade for his canonization that achieved the participation of over two million names.

After the Pope’s canonization, another miracle is said to have taken place when a Christian family activist named Clem Lane suffered a major heart attack and was placed in an oxygen tent, where he was given extreme unction. A relic of the Pope was placed over his tent, and he recovered to the great surprise of his doctors.A sister of Loretto at Webster College in St Louis, Missouri, claimed that her priest brother had been cured through the Pope’s intercession as well.

Coat of arms of Pius X

The personal papal arms of Pius X are composed of the traditional elements of all papal heraldry before Pope Benedict XVI: the shield, the papal tiara, and the keys. The tiara and keys are typical symbols used in the coats of arms of pontiffs, which symbolize their authority.

The shield of Pius X’s coat of arms is charged in two basic parts, as it is per fess. In chief (the top part of the shield) shows the arms of the Patriarch of Venice, which Pius X was from 1893 to 1903. It consists of the Lion of Saint Mark proper and haloed in silver upon a silver-white background, displaying a book with the inscription of PAX TIBI MARCE on the left page and EVANGELISTA MEUS on the right page.

“Pax tibi Marce Evangelista Meus” (English: Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist) is the motto of Venice referring to the final resting place of Saint Mark. This differed from the arms of the Republic of Venice by changing the background color from red to silver even though that did not conform to heraldic rules. Previous Patriarchs of Venice had combined their personal arms with these arms of the Patriarchate. The same chief can be seen in the arms of the later popes who were Patriarchs of Venice upon election to the See of Rome, John XXIII and John Paul I. Renditions of this part of Pius X’s arms depict the lion either with or without a sword, and sometimes only one side of the book is written on.

The shield displays the arms Pius X took as Bishop of Mantua: an anchor proper cast into a stormy sea (the blue and silver wavy lines), lit up by a single six-pointed star of gold.[48] These were inspired by Hebrews Chapter 6, Versicle 19, (English: “The hope we have is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”) As Bishop Sarto, he stated that “hope is the sole companion of my life, the greatest support in uncertainty, the strongest power in situations of weakness.”

Although not present upon his arms, the only motto attributed to Pope Pius X is the one for which he is best remembered: Instaurare omnia in Christo (English: “To restore all things in Christ”), allegedly his last words before his death.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr

Matthew 19:3-12

Husband and wife are no longer two, but one body

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and to test him they said, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’

They said to him, ‘Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?’ ‘It was because you were so unteachable’ he said ‘that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: the man who divorces his wife – I am not speaking of fornication – and marries another, is guilty of adultery.’

The disciples said to him, ‘If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is not advisable to marry.’ But he replied, ‘It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’


Ezekiel 16:1-15,60,63

I clothed you with my own splendour but you made yourself a prostitute

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her filthy crimes. Say, “The Lord says this: By origin and birth you belong to the land of Canaan. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. At birth, the very day you were born, there was no one to cut your navel-string, or wash you in cleansing water, or rub you with salt, or wrap you in napkins. No one leaned kindly over you to do anything like that for you. You were exposed in the open fields; you were as unloved as that on the day you were born.

‘“I saw you struggling in your blood as I was passing, and I said to you as you lay in your blood: Live, and grow like the grass of the fields. You developed, you grew, you reached marriageable age. Your breasts and your hair both grew, but you were quite naked. Then I saw you as I was passing. Your time had come, the time for love. I spread part of my cloak over you and covered your nakedness; I bound myself by oath, I made a covenant with you – it is the Lord who speaks – and you became mine. I bathed you in water, I washed the blood off you, I anointed you with oil. I gave you embroidered dresses, fine leather shoes, a linen headband and a cloak of silk. I loaded you with jewels, gave you bracelets for your wrists and a necklace for your throat. I gave you nose-ring and earrings; I put a beautiful diadem on your head. You were loaded with gold and silver, and dressed in fine linen and embroidered silks. Your food was the finest flour, honey and oil. You grew more and more beautiful; and you rose to be queen. The fame of your beauty spread through the nations, since it was perfect, because I had clothed you with my own splendour – it is the Lord who speaks.

‘“You have become infatuated with your own beauty; you have used your fame to make yourself a prostitute; you have offered your services to all comers. But I will remember the covenant that I made with you when you were a girl, and I will conclude a covenant with you that shall last for ever. And so remember and be covered with shame, and in your confusion be reduced to silence, when I have pardoned you for all that you have done – it is the Lord who speaks.”’


Isaiah 12

The rejoicing of a redeemed people

Your anger has passed, O Lord, and you give me comfort.

Truly, God is my salvation,

I trust, I shall not fear.

For the Lord is my strength, my song,

he became my saviour.

With joy you will draw water

from the wells of salvation.

Your anger has passed, O Lord, and you give me comfort.

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!

Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!

Declare the greatness of his name.

Your anger has passed, O Lord, and you give me comfort.

Sing a psalm to the Lord

for he has done glorious deeds;

make them known to all the earth!

People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,

for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Your anger has passed, O Lord, and you give me comfort.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Marriage under the regime of sin

1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.

1608 Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them.99 Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.”

Marriage under the pedagogy of the Law

1609 In his mercy God has not forsaken sinful man. the punishments consequent upon sin, “pain in childbearing” and toil “in the sweat of your brow,” also embody remedies that limit the damaging effects of sin. After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.

1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord’s words it still carries traces of man’s “hardness of heart” which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.

1611 Seeing God’s covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People’s conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage.102 The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, a pure reflection of God’s love – a love “strong as death” that “many waters cannot quench.”


Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe OFM Conv. (Polish: Maksymilian Maria Kolbe [maksɨˌmʲilʲjan ˌmarʲja ˈkɔlbɛ]; 8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941) was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II. He was active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founding and supervising the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, operating a radio station, and founding or running several other organizations and publications.

Kolbe was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a Martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. John Paul II declared him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”.

Due to Kolbe’s efforts to promote consecration and entrustment to Mary, he is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.


Childhood

Maximilian Kolbe was born on 8 January 1894 in Zduńska Wola, in the Kingdom of Poland, which was a part of the Russian Empire, the second son of weaver Julius Kolbe and midwife Maria Dąbrowska.] His father was an ethnic German and his mother was Polish. He had four brothers. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Pabianice.

Kolbe’s life was strongly influenced in 1906 by a childhood vision of the Virgin Mary. He later described this incident:

That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.

Franciscan friar

In 1907, Kolbe and his elder brother Francis joined the Conventual Franciscans. They enrolled at the Conventual Franciscan minor seminary in Lwow later that year. In 1910, Kolbe was allowed to enter the novitiate, where he was given the religious name Maximilian. He professed his first vows in 1911, and final vows in 1914, adopting the additional name of Maria (Mary).

Kolbe was sent to Rome in 1912, where he attended the Pontifical Gregorian University. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 there. From 1915 he continued his studies at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure where he earned a doctorate in theology in 1919 or 1922 (sources vary). He was active in the consecration and entrustment to Mary. During his time as a student, he witnessed vehement demonstrations against Popes St. Pius X and Benedict XV in Rome during an anniversary celebration by the Freemasons. According to Kolbe,

They placed the black standard of the “Giordano Brunisti” under the windows of the Vatican. On this standard the archangel, St. Michael, was depicted lying under the feet of the triumphant Lucifer. At the same time, countless pamphlets were distributed to the people in which the Holy Father (i.e., the Pope) was attacked shamefully.

Soon afterward, Kolbe organized the Militia Immaculatae (Army of the Immaculate One), to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church, specifically the Freemasons, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. So serious was Kolbe about this goal that he added to the Miraculous Medal prayer:

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. And for all those who do not have recourse to thee; especially the Masons and all those recommended to thee.

In 1918, Kolbe was ordained a priest. In July 1919 he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He was strongly opposed to leftist – in particular, communist – movements. From 1919 to 1922 he taught at the Kraków seminary. Around that time, as well as earlier in Rome, he suffered from tuberculosis, which forced him to take a lengthy leave of absence from his teaching duties. In January 1922 he founded the monthly periodical Rycerz Niepokalanej (Knight of the Immaculate), a devotional publication based on French Le Messager du Coeur de Jesus (Messenger of the Heart of Jesus). From 1922 to 1926 he operated a religious publishing press in Grodno. As his activities grew in scope, in 1927 he founded a new Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanów near Warsaw, which became a major religious publishing center. A junior seminary was opened there two years later.

Between 1930 and 1936, Kolbe undertook a series of missions to East Asia. At first, he arrived in Shanghai, China, but failed to gather a following there. Next, he moved to Japan, where by 1931 he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki (it later gained a novitiate and a seminary) and started publishing a Japanese edition of the Knight of the Immaculate (Seibo no Kishi). The monastery he founded remains prominent in the Roman Catholic Church in Japan. Kolbe built the monastery on a mountainside that, according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in harmony with nature. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe’s monastery was saved because the other side of the mountain took the main force of the blast. In mid-1932 he left Japan for Malabar, India, where he founded another monastery; this one however closed after a while.Meanwhile, the monastery at Niepokalanów began in his absence to publish the daily newspaper, Mały Dziennik (The Little Daily), in alliance with the political group, the National Radical Camp (Obóz Narodowo Radykalny).This publication reached a circulation of 137,000, and nearly double that, 225,000, on weekends.

Poor health forced Kolbe to return to Poland in 1936. Two years later, in 1938, he started a radio station at Niepokalanów, the Radio Niepokalanów. He held an amateur radio licence, with the call sign SP3RN.

Death at Auschwitz

After the outbreak of World War II, which started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, Kolbe was one of the few brothers who remained in the monastery, where he organized a temporary hospital. After the town was captured by the Germans, he was briefly arrested by them on 19 September 1939 but released on 8 December. He refused to sign the Deutsche Volksliste, which would have given him rights similar to those of German citizens in exchange for recognizing his German ancestry. Upon his release he continued work at his monastery, where he and other monks provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from German persecution in their friary in Niepokalanów. Kolbe also received permission to continue publishing religious works, though significantly reduced in scope. The monastery thus continued to act as a publishing house, issuing a number of anti-Nazi German publications. On 17 February 1941, the monastery was shut down by the German authorities. That day Kolbe and four others were arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.

Continuing to act as a priest, Kolbe was subjected to violent harassment, including beating and lashings, and once had to be smuggled to a prison hospital by friendly inmates. At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

According to an eye witness, an assistant janitor at that time, in his prison cell, Kolbe led the prisoners in prayer to Our Lady. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. “The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Kolbe is said to have raised his left arm and calmly waited for the deadly injection. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday of week 18 in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:24-28

Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour. I tell you solemnly, there are some of these standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.’


Nahum 2:1,3,3:1-3,6-7

Israel restored; Nineveh ruined

See, over the mountains the messenger hurries!

‘Peace!’ he proclaims.

Judah, celebrate your feasts,

carry out your vows,

for Belial will never pass through you again;

he is utterly annihilated.

Yes, the Lord is restoring the vineyard of Jacob

and the vineyard of Israel.

For the plunderers had plundered them,

they had broken off their branches.

Woe to the city soaked in blood,

full of lies,

stuffed with booty,

whose plunderings know no end!

The crack of the whip!

The rumble of wheels!

Galloping horse,

jolting chariot,

charging cavalry,

flash of swords,

gleam of spears…

a mass of wounded,

hosts of dead,

countless corpses;

they stumble over the dead.

I am going to pelt you with filth,

shame you, make you a public show.

And all who look on you will turn their backs on you and say,

‘Nineveh is a ruin.’

Could anyone pity her?

Where can I find anyone to comfort her?


Deuteronomy 32:35-36,39,41

It is the Lord who deals death and life.

It is close, the day of their ruin;

their doom comes at speed.

For the Lord will see his people righted,

he will take pity on his servants.

It is the Lord who deals death and life.

See now that I, I am He,

and beside me there is no other god.

It is I who deal death and life;

when I have struck it is I who heal.

It is the Lord who deals death and life.

When I have whetted my flashing sword

I will take up the cause of Right,

I will give my foes as good again,

I will repay those who hate me.

It is the Lord who deals death and life.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 “Body And Soul But Truly One”

362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person. But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.

368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.

Saint Ignatius Loyola, Priest

Matthew 13:54-58

A prophet is only despised in his own country

Coming to his home town, Jesus taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?’ And they would not accept him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country and in his own house’, and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.


Jeremiah 26:1-9

Jeremiah preaches in the Temple of the Lord and is threatened with death

At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word was addressed to Jeremiah by the Lord, ‘The Lord says this: Stand in the court of the Temple of the Lord. To all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the Temple of the Lord you must speak all the words I have commanded you to tell them; do not omit one syllable. Perhaps they will listen and each turn from his evil way: if so, I shall relent and not bring the disaster on them which I intended for their misdeeds. Say to them, “The Lord says this: If you will not listen to me by following my Law which I put before you, by paying attention to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send so persistently to you, without your ever listening to them, I will treat this Temple as I treated Shiloh, and make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.”’

The priests and prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah say these words in the Temple of the Lord. When Jeremiah had finished saying everything that the Lord had ordered him to say to all the people, the priests and prophets seized hold of him and said, ‘You shall die! Why have you made this prophecy in the name of the Lord, “This Temple will be like Shiloh, and this city will be desolate, and uninhabited”?’ And the people were all crowding round Jeremiah in the Temple of the Lord.


Psalm 68(69):5,8-10,14

In your great love, answer me, O God.

More numerous than the hairs on my head

are those who hate me without cause.

Those who attack me with lies

are too much for my strength.

How can I restore

what I have never stolen?

In your great love, answer me, O God.

It is for you that I suffer taunts,

that shame covers my face,

that I have become a stranger to my brothers,

an alien to my own mother’s sons.

I burn with zeal for your house

and taunts against you fall on me.

In your great love, answer me, O God.

This is my prayer to you,

my prayer for your favour.

In your great love, answer me, O God,

with your help that never fails.

In your great love, answer me, O God.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Mary’s divine motherhood

495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”. In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).


Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Basque: Ignazio Loiolakoa, Spanish: Ignacio de Loyola; c. October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556) was a Spanish Basque priest and theologian, who founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General. The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They therefore emerged as an important political force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.

Ignatius is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548.

Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and then canonized, receiving the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. His feast day is celebrated on July 31. He is the patron saint of the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Biscay as well as the Society of Jesus, and was declared patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922. Ignatius is also a foremost patron saint of soldiers.

Early Life

Íñigo López de Loyola (sometimes erroneously called Íñigo López de Recalde) was born in the municipality of Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in today’s Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. He was baptized Íñigo, after St. Enecus (Innicus) (Basque: Eneko; Spanish: Íñigo) Abbot of Oña, a medieval Basque name which perhaps means “My little one”. It is not clear when he began using the Latin name “Ignatius” instead of his baptismal name “Íñigo”. It seems he did not intend to change his name, but rather adopted a name which he believed was a simple variant of his own, for use in France and Italy where it was better understood.

Íñigo was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died soon after his birth, and he was then brought up by María de Garín, the local blacksmith’s wife. Íñigo adopted the surname “de Loyola” in reference to the Basque village of Loyola where he was born.

Military Career

As a boy Íñigo became a page in the service of a relative, Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Castile.

As a young man Íñigo had a great love for military exercises as well as a tremendous desire for fame. He framed his life around the stories of El Cid, the knights of Camelot, and the Song of Roland. He joined the army at seventeen, and according to one biographer, he strutted about “with his cape slinging open to reveal his tight-fitting hose and boots; a sword and dagger at his waist”. According to another he was “a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, and a rough punkish swordsman who used his privileged status to escape prosecution for violent crimes committed with his priest brother at carnival time.” Upon encountering a Moor who denied the divinity of Jesus, he challenged him to a duel to the death, and ran him through with his sword. He dueled many other men as well.

In 1509, at the age of 18, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera. His diplomacy and leadership qualities earned him the title “servant of the court”, which made him very useful to the Duke. Under the Duke’s leadership, Íñigo participated in many battles without injury. But at the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 he was gravely injured when a French-Navarrese expedition force stormed the fortress of Pamplona on May 20, 1521. A cannonball hit him in the legs, wounding his right leg and fracturing the left in multiple places. Íñigo was returned to his father’s castle in Loyola, where, in an era that knew nothing of anesthetics, he underwent several surgical operations to repair his legs, having the bones set and then rebroken. In the end these operations left one leg shorter than the other: Íñigo would limp for the rest of his life, and his military career was ended.

Religious conversion and visions

During his recovery from surgery, Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion which led to his experiencing a call to religious life. Hospitals in those days were run by religious orders, and the reading material available to bedridden patient tended to be selected from scripture or devotional literature. This is how Íñigo came to read a series of religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints. The work which most particularly struck him was the De Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony. This book would influence his whole life, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks. It also inspired his method of meditation, since Ludolph proposes that the reader place himself mentally at the scene of the Gospel story, visualising the crib at the Nativity, etc. This type of meditation, known as Simple Contemplation, was the basis for the method that St. Ignatius would promote in his Spiritual Exercises.

While still convalescing, Íñigo resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to the conversion of Infidels in the Holy Land. In March 1522 he had recovered sufficiently to walk again, and he visited the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, where, during an overnight vigil at the shrine, he experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. He then hung his sword and dagger before the statue of the Virgin.

From Montserrat he walked on to the nearby town of Manresa (Catalonia), where he lived for about a year, begging for his keep, and then eventually doing chores at a local hospital in exchange for food and lodging. For several months he spent much of his time praying in a cave nearby where he practiced rigorous asceticism, praying for seven hours a day, and formulating the fundamentals of his Spiritual Exercises.

Íñigo also experienced a series of visions in full daylight while at the hospital. These repetitive visions appeared as “a form in the air near him and this form gave him much consolation because it was exceedingly beautiful … it somehow seemed to have the shape of a serpent and had many things that shone like eyes, but were not eyes. He received much delight and consolation from gazing upon this object … but when the object vanished he became disconsolate”. He came to interpret this vision as diabolical in nature.

Period of study

In September 1523, Íñigo made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the goal of settling there. He remained there from September 3 to 23 but he was sent back to Europe by the Franciscans.

He returned to Barcelona and at the age of thirty-three began to attend a free public grammar school to prepare himself for entrance to a university. When his preparation was complete, he then went on to the University of Alcalá, where he studied Theology and Latin from 1524 and 1534.

There he encountered some women who had been called before the Inquisition. These women were considered alumbrados (Illuminated, Illuminati, or Enlightened Ones) – a group that was linked in their zeal and spirituality to Franciscan reforms, but had incurred mounting suspicion on the part of the administrators of the Inquisition. At one point, Íñigo was preaching on the street when three of these devout women began to experience ecstatic states. “One fell senseless, another sometimes rolled about on the ground, another had been seen in the grip of convulsions or shuddering and sweating in anguish.” This suspicious activity had taken place while Íñigo was preaching without a degree in theology. Íñigo was then singled out for interrogation by the Inquisition; however, he was later released.

After these adventurous activities, Íñigo (by now Ignatius) moved to Paris to study at the famous University. He studied at the ascetical Collège de Montaigu, where he remained for over seven years.

He arrived during a period of anti-Protestant turmoil which forced John Calvin to flee France. Very soon after his arrival Ignatius had gathered around him six key companions, all of whom he had met as fellow students at the University.— Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, all Spanish; Peter Faber, a Savoyard; and Simão Rodrigues of Portugal. Peter Faber, a young man from Savoy in the south of France, and Francis Xavier, a nobleman from the eastern end of the Basque country, were his first roommates, and would become his closest associates in founding the Jesuit order.

“On the morning of the 15th of August, 1534, in the chapel of church of Saint Peter, at Montmartre, Loyola and his six companions, of whom only one was a priest, met and took upon themselves the solemn vows of their lifelong work.”

Later, they were joined by Saint Francis Borgia, a member of the House of Borgia, who was the main aide of Emperor Charles V, and other nobles.

Ignatius obtained a master’s degree from the University of Paris at the age of forty-three. In later life he was often called “Master Ignatius” because of this.

Foundation of the Jesuit Order

In 1539, with Saint Peter Faber and Saint Francis Xavier, Ignatius formed the Society of Jesus, which was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General of the order and invested with the title of Father General by the Jesuits.

Ignatius sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Juan de Vega, the ambassador of Charles V at Rome, met Ignatius there. Esteeming Ignatius and the Jesuits, when Vega was appointed Viceroy of Sicily, he brought Jesuits with him. A Jesuit college was opened at Messina, which proved a success, and its rules and methods were afterwards copied in other colleges.

In 1548 Ignatius was briefly brought before the Roman Inquisition for examination of his book of Spiritual Exercises. But he was released and the book was finally given papal permission to be printed. It was published in a format such that the exercises were designed to be carried out over a period of 28–30 days.

Ignatius, along with the help of his personal secretary Juan Alfonso de Polanco (es) wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a monarchical organization for the order, and stressed absolute self-denial and obedience to the Pope and to superiors in the catholic hierarchy, using the motto perinde ac cadaver – “as if a dead body”, i.e. that the good Jesuit should be as well-disciplined as a corpse. But his main principle became the Jesuit motto: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”).

During the years 1553–1555, Ignatius dictated his autobiography to his secretary, Father Gonçalves da Câmara. This autobiography is a valuable key for understanding his Spiritual Exercises. It was kept in the archives of the Jesuit order for about 150 years, until the Bollandists published the text in Acta Sanctorum.

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius

Spiritual Viewpoint

Ignatius identified the various motives that lead a person to choose one course of action over another as “spirits”. A major aim of the Exercises is the development of discernment (discretio), the ability to discern between good and evil spirits. A good “spirit” can bring love, joy, peace, but also desolation, to bring one to re-examine one’s life. An evil spirit usually brings confusion and doubt, but may also prompt contentment to discourage change. The human soul is continually drawn in two directions: towards goodness but at the same time towards sinfulness.

According to the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, “choice” is the center of the Exercises, and they are directed to choosing God’s choice, i.e., ultimately to a self-abandonment to God. The Exercises “have as their purpose the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment.”

“Discernment” is very important to Ignatian thought. Through the process of discernment, the believer is led toward a direct connection between one’s thought and action and the grace of God. As such, discernment can be considered a movement toward mystical union with God, and it emphasizes the mystical experience of the believer. This aspect of the Spiritual Exercises reflects the trend toward mysticism in Catholic thought which flourished during the time of the counter-reformation (e.g., with Teresa of Ávila, Francis de Sales, and Pierre de Bérulle). However, while discernment can be understood as a mystical path, it can also more prosaically be understood as a method of subjective ethical thought. The Exercises emphasize the role of one’s own mental faculties in deciding what is right and wrong.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Charbel Makhlouf, Priest

Matthew 13:18-23

The man who hears the word and understands it yields a rich harvest

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’


Jeremiah 3:14-17

Come back, my disloyal children

Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master. I will take one from a town, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and these shall feed you on knowledge and discretion. And when you have increased and become many in the land, then – it is the Lord who speaks – no one will ever say again: Where is the ark of the covenant of the Lord? There will be no thought of it, no memory of it, no regret for it, no making of another. When that time comes, Jerusalem shall be called: The Throne of the Lord; all the nations will gather there in the name of the Lord and will no longer follow the dictates of their own stubborn hearts.


Jeremiah 31:10-13

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

O nations, hear the word of the Lord,

proclaim it to the far-off coasts.

Say: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him

and guard him as a shepherd guards his flock.’

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,

has saved him from an overpowering hand.

They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion,

they will stream to the blessings of the Lord.

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Then the young girls will rejoice and dance,

the men, young and old, will be glad.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will console them, give gladness for grief.

The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Desire For God

27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.

28 In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “in him we live and move and have our being.”

29 But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 § 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.

30 “Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart”, as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.


Saint Charbel Makhlouf, O.L.M. (or Sharbel Maklouf), (Arabic: مار شربل‎‎, May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898) was a Maronite monk and priest from Lebanon. During his life he obtained a wide reputation for holiness and he has been canonized by the Catholic Church. Many Maronite Christians have prayer cloths blessed and then place them on the sick, praying to God through the intercession of Saint Charbel, for healing.

Life

Orphan and shepherd

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 8, 1828, one of five children born to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. They lived in the village of Bekaa Kafra, possibly the highest in the Lebanese mountains. His father, a mule driver, died in August 1831, returning from corvée for the Turkish army, leaving his wife a widow to care for their children. Later she remarried a man who went on to seek Holy Orders and became the parish priest of the village.

The young Youssef was raised in a pious home and quickly became drawn to the lives of the saints and to the hermit life, as was practiced by two of his uncles. As a young boy, he was responsible for caring for the family’s small flock. He would take the flock to a grotto nearby, where he had installed an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would spend the day in prayer.

Monk

In 1851, Youssef left his family and entered the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq to begin his training as a monk, later transferring to the Monastery of St. Maron in Annaya, located in the Jbeil District near Beirut. Here he received the religious habit of a monk and took the name Charbel, after a Christian martyr in Antioch from the 2nd century. He made his final religious profession in the Order on November 1, 1853.

The young monk Charbel then began his study of philosophy and theology at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian & Justina in Kfifan, in the Batroun District of Lebanon, to prepare himself for receiving Holy Orders. Among his professors at the seminary was Father Nimatullah Kassab, who was himself later also declared a saint. He was ordained six years later, on July 23, 1859, in Bkerke. He was then sent back to St. Maron Monastery, where he lived a life of severe asceticism in the monastery.

Hermit

In 1875, Charbel was granted by the abbot of the monastery the privilege of living as a hermit at the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, a chapel under the care of the monastery. He spent the next 23 years living as a solitary hermit, until his death from a stroke on December 24, 1898.

Death and miracles

Charbel was interred at St. Maron’s Monastery on Christmas Day of that year. It was reported that, during the transport of his corpse, the inclement weather conditions hindered the pallbearers in carrying out their duty.

“Father Charbel died on the eve of Christmas; the snow was heavy. We transferred him to the monastery on Christmas day. Before we moved him, the snow was falling rapidly and the clouds were very dark. When we carried him, the clouds disappeared, and the weather cleared.” Statement by George Emmanuel Abi-Saseen, one of the pallbearers

A few months after his death, a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb and the superiors opened it to find his body still intact. Since that day, a blood-like liquid flows from his body. Experts and doctors are unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility. In the years 1950 and 1952, his tomb was opened and his body still had the appearance of a living one. The official site mentions: In this century his grave has been opened four times, the last time being in 1955, and each time “it has been noticed that his bleeding body still has its flexibility as if it were alive”; no mentioning of later openings. The Catholic Tradition website says: Father Joseph Mahfouz, the postulator of the cause, certified that in 1965 the body of Saint Charbel was still preserved intact with no alteration. In 1976 he again witnessed the opening of the grave; this time the body was completely decomposed. Only the skeleton remained.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday of week 15 in Ordinary Time

Matthew 12:1-8

The Son of Man is master of the sabbath

Jesus took a walk one sabbath day through the cornfields. His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath.’ But he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God and how they ate the loaves of offering which neither he nor his followers were allowed to eat, but which were for the priests alone? Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the sabbath day the Temple priests break the sabbath without being blamed for it? Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’


Isaiah 38:1-6,21-22,7-8

The Lord hears Hezekiah’s prayer and heals him

Hezekiah fell ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, ‘The Lord says this, “Put your affairs in order, for you are going to die, you will not live.”’ Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and addressed this prayer to the Lord, ‘Ah, Lord, remember, I beg you, how I have behaved faithfully and with sincerity of heart in your presence and done what is right in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah shed many tears.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, “The Lord, the God of David your ancestor, says this: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will cure you: in three days’ time you shall go up to the Temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. I will save you from the hands of the king of Assyria, I will protect this city.”’

‘Bring a fig poultice,’ Isaiah said, ‘apply it to the ulcer and he will recover.’ Hezekiah said, ‘What is the sign to tell me that I shall be going up to the Temple of the Lord?’ ‘Here’ Isaiah replied ‘is the sign from the Lord that he will do what he has said. Look, I shall make the shadow cast by the declining sun go back ten steps on the steps of Ahaz.’ And the sun went back the ten steps by which it had declined.


Isaiah 38:10-12,16

The canticle of Hezekiah

You have held back my life, O Lord, from the pit of doom.

I said, ‘So I must go away,

my life half spent,

assigned to the world below

for the rest of my years.’

You have held back my life, O Lord, from the pit of doom.

I said, ‘No more shall I see the Lord

in the land of the living,

no more shall I look upon men

within this world.

You have held back my life, O Lord, from the pit of doom.

‘My home is pulled up and removed

like a shepherd’s tent.

Like a weaver you have rolled up my life,

you cut it from the loom.

You have held back my life, O Lord, from the pit of doom.

‘For you, Lord, my heart will live,

you gave me back my spirit;

you cured me, kept me alive,

changed my sickness into health.’

You have held back my life, O Lord, from the pit of doom.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel’s faith in the One God and Saviour.

587 If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.

588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves. Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.

589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them. He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet. But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God’s equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God’s name.

590 Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon”, something “greater than the Temple”; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, “Before Abraham was, I AM”, and even “I and the Father are one.”

591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father’s works which he accomplished. But such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new “birth from above” under the influence of divine grace. Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer. The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief”.