Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

+John 6:35-40

It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son should have eternal life

Jesus said to the crowd:

‘I am the bread of life.

He who comes to me will never be hungry;

he who believes in me will never thirst.

But, as I have told you,

you can see me and still you do not believe.

All that the Father gives me will come to me,

and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away;

because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will,

but to do the will of the one who sent me.

Now the will of him who sent me

is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me,

and that I should raise it up on the last day.

Yes, it is my Father’s will

that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,

and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“I BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY”

988 The Christian Creed – the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God’s creative, saving, and sanctifying action – culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.

989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.

990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.

991 Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.”

How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.


Psalm 65

For the leader. A psalm of David. A song.

To you we owe our hymn of praise, O God on Zion; To you our vows must be fulfilled,

you who hear our prayers. To you all flesh must come

with its burden of wicked deeds. We are overcome by our sins; only you can pardon them.

Happy the chosen ones you bring to dwell in your courts. May we be filled with the good things of your house, the blessings of your holy temple!

You answer us with awesome deeds of justice, O God our savior, The hope of all the ends of the earth and of far distant islands.

You are robed in power, you set up the mountains by your might.

You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

Distant peoples stand in awe of your marvels; east and west you make resound with joy.

You visit the earth and water it, make it abundantly fertile. God’s stream is filled with water; with it you supply the world with grain. Thus do you prepare the earth:

you drench plowed furrows, and level their ridges. With showers you keep the ground soft, blessing its young sprouts.

You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.

The untilled meadows also drip; the hills are robed with joy.

The pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys blanketed with grain; they cheer and sing for joy.

Source: The New American Bible

 

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Stanislaus, B & M

+John 3:16-21

God sent his Son into the world so that through him the world might be saved

 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost

but may have eternal life.

For God sent his Son into the world

not to condemn the world,

but so that through him the world might be saved.

No one who believes in him will be condemned;

but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,

because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.

On these grounds is sentence pronounced:

that though the light has come into the world

men have shown they prefer darkness to the light

because their deeds were evil.

And indeed, everybody who does wrong

hates the light and avoids it,

for fear his actions should be exposed;

but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,

so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To Judge The Living And The Dead

678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”. Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.


Psalm 33

Rejoice, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.

Sing to God a new song; skillfully play with joyful chant.

For the LORD’S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.

The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.

By the LORD’S word the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host.

The waters of the sea were gathered as in a bowl; in cellars the deep was confined.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all who dwell in the world show reverence.

For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place.

The LORD foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples.

But the plan of the LORD stands forever, wise designs through all generations.

Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.

From heaven the LORD looks down and observes the whole human race,

Surveying from the royal throne all who dwell on earth.

The one who fashioned the hearts of them all knows all their works.

A king is not saved by a mighty army, nor a warrior delivered by great strength.

Useless is the horse for safety; its great strength, no sure escape.

But the LORD’S eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help,

Delivering them from death, keeping them alive in times of famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and shield.

For in God our hearts rejoice; in your holy name we trust.

May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you.

Source: The New American Bible


Stanislaus of Szczepanów, or Stanisław Szczepanowski, (July 26, 1030 – April 11, 1079) was a Bishop of Kraków known chiefly for having been martyred by the Polish king Bolesław II the Bold. Stanislaus is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.

Elevation of Bishop and King

According to tradition, Stanisław was born at Szczepanów, a village in Lesser Poland, the only son of the noble and pious Wielisław and Bogna. He was educated at a cathedral school in Gniezno (then the capital of Poland) and later, according to different sources, in Paris or Liège. On his return to Poland, Stanisław was ordained a priest by Lambert II Suła, Bishop of Kraków.

After the Bishop’s death (1072), Stanisław was elected his successor but accepted the office only at the explicit command of Pope Alexander II. Stanisław was one of the earliest native Polish bishops. He also became a ducal advisor and had some influence on Polish politics.

Stanisław’s major accomplishments included bringing papal legates to Poland, and reestablishment of a metropolitan see in Gniezno. The latter was a precondition for Duke Bolesław’s coronation as king, which took place in 1076. Stanisław then encouraged King Bolesław to establish Benedictine monasteries to aid in the Christianization of Poland.

Property dispute

Saint Stanisław leads Piotr before the royal tribunal

Stanisław’s initial conflict with King Bolesław was over a land dispute. The Bishop had purchased for the diocese a piece of land on the banks of the Vistula river near Lublin from a certain Peter (Piotr), but after Piotr’s death the land had been claimed by his family. The King ruled for the claimants, but – according to legend – Stanisław resurrected Piotr so that he could confirm that he had sold the land to the Bishop.

According to Augustin Calmet, an 18th-century Bible scholar, Stanisław asked the King for three days to produce his witness, Piotr. The King and court were said to have laughed at the absurd request, but the King granted Stanisław the three days. Stanisław spent them in ceaseless prayer, then, dressed in full bishop’s regalia, went with a procession to the cemetery where Piotr had been buried three years earlier. He had Piotr’s grave dug up until his remains were discovered. Then, before a multitude of witnesses, Stanisław bade Piotr rise, and Piotr did so.

Piotr was then dressed in a cloak and brought before King Bolesław to testify on Stanisław’s behalf. The dumbfounded court heard Piotr reprimand his three sons and testify that Stanisław had indeed paid for the land. Unable to give any other verdict, the King dismissed the suit against the Bishop. Stanisław asked Piotr whether he would remain alive but Piotr declined, and so was laid to rest once more in his grave and was reburied.

Bishop’s chastisement of King

A more substantial conflict with King Bolesław arose after a prolonged war in Ruthenia, when weary warriors deserted home, alarmed at tidings that their overseers were taking over their estates and wives. According to Kadłubek, the King punished the soldiers’ faithless wives very cruelly and was criticized for it by Bishop Stanisław. Jan Długosz, however, writes that the Bishop had in fact criticized the King for his own sexual immorality. According to recent historians, Stanisław took part in a plot of nobles, aimed to gain more powers or dethrone the king. Gallus Anonymus in his laconic account only condemned both “traitor bishop” and violent king.

Whatever the actual cause of the conflict between them, the result was that the Bishop excommunicated King Bolesław, which included forbidding the saying of the Divine Office by the canons of Krakow Cathedral in case Bolesław attended. The excommunication aided the King’s political opponents, and the King accused Bishop Stanisław of treason.

Martyrdom

King Bolesław sent his men to execute Bishop Stanisław without trial but when they didn’t dare to touch the Bishop, the King decided to kill the bishop himself. He is said to have slain Stanisław while he was celebrating Mass in the Skałka outside the walls of Kraków. According to Paweł Jasienica: Polska Piastów, it was actually in the Wawel castle. The guards then cut the Bishop’s body into pieces and scattered them to be devoured by wild beasts. According to the legend, his members miraculously reintegrated while the pool was guarded by four eagles. The exact date of Stanisław’s death is uncertain. According to different sources, it was either April 11 or May 8, 1079.

The murder stirred outrage through the land and led to the dethronement of King Bolesław II the Bold, who had to seek refuge in Hungary and was succeeded by his brother, Władysław I Herman.

Whether Stanisław should be regarded as a traitor or a hero, remains one of the classic unresolved questions of Polish history. Stanisław’s story has a parallel in the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 by henchmen of England’s King Henry II.

Veneration as a saint

The cult of Saint Stanisław the martyr began immediately upon his death. In 1245 his relics were translated (i.e., moved) to Kraków’s Wawel Cathedral. In the early 13th century, Bishop Iwo Odrowąż initiated preparations for Stanisław’s canonization and ordered Wincenty of Kielce to write the martyr’s vita. On September 17, 1253, at Assisi, Stanisław was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.

Pope Pius V did not include the Saint’s feast day in the Tridentine Calendar for use throughout the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequently Pope Clement VIII inserted it, setting it for May 7, but Kraków observes it on May 8, a supposed date of the Saint’s death, having done so since May 8, 1254, when it was attended by many Polish bishops and princes. In 1969, the Church moved the feast to April 11, considered to be the date of his death in 1079.

As the first native Polish saint, Stanisław is the patron of Poland and Kraków, and of some Polish dioceses. He shares the patronage of Poland with Saint Adalbert of Prague, Florian, and Our Lady the Queen of Poland.

Wawel Cathedral, which holds the Saint’s relics, became a principal national shrine. Almost all the Polish kings beginning with Władysław I the Elbow-high were crowned while kneeling before Stanisław’s sarcophagus, which stands in the middle of the cathedral. In the 17th century, King Władysław IV Vasa commissioned an ornate silver coffin to hold the Saint’s relics. It was destroyed by Swedish troops during the Deluge, but was replaced with a new one ca. 1670.

Saint Stanisław’s veneration has had great patriotic importance. In the period of Poland’s feudal fragmentation, it was believed that Poland would one day reintegrate as had the members of Saint Stanisław’s body. Half a millennium after Poland had indeed reintegrated, and while yet another dismemberment of the polity was underway in the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the framers of the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791, would dedicate this progressive political document to Saint Stanisław Szczepanowski, whose feast day fell close to the date of the Constitution’s adoption.

Each year on the first Sunday following May 8, a procession, led by the Bishop of Kraków, goes out from Wawel to the Church on the Rock. The procession, once a local event, was popularized in the 20th century by Polish Primate Stefan Wyszyński and Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła. Wojtyla, as Pope John Paul II, called Saint Stanisław the patron saint of moral order and wanted his first papal return to Poland to occur in April 1979 in observance of the 900th anniversary to the day of his martyrdom, but the Communist rulers of that time blocked this, causing the visit to be delayed until June of that year.

Roman Catholic churches belonging to Polish communities outside Poland are often dedicated to Saint Stanisław.

In iconography, Saint Stanisław is usually depicted as a bishop holding a sword, the instrument of his martyrdom, and sometimes with Piotr rising from the dead at his feet.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

+Luke 24:13-35

They recognised him at the breaking of bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

WHAT IS THIS SACRAMENT CALLED?

1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:

Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.

1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.

1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church’s whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body. We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta) – the first meaning of the phrase “communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed – the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, viaticum. . . .

1332 Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.


Psalm 104

Bless the LORD, my soul! LORD, my God, you are great indeed! You are clothed with majesty and glory,

robed in light as with a cloak. You spread out the heavens like a tent;

you raised your palace upon the waters. You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind.

You make the winds your messengers; flaming fire, your ministers.

You fixed the earth on its foundation, never to be moved.

The ocean covered it like a garment; above the mountains stood the waters.

At your roar they took flight; at the sound of your thunder they fled.

They rushed up the mountains, down the valleys to the place you had fixed for them.

You set a limit they cannot pass; never again will they cover the earth.

You made springs flow into channels that wind among the mountains.

They give drink to every beast of the field; here wild asses quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of heaven nest; among the branches they sing.

You water the mountains from your palace; by your labor the earth abounds.

You raise grass for the cattle and plants for our beasts of burden. You bring bread from the earth,

and wine to gladden our hearts, Oil to make our faces gleam, food to build our strength.

The trees of the LORD drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon, which you planted.

There the birds build their nests; junipers are the home of the stork.

The high mountains are for wild goats; the rocky cliffs, a refuge for badgers.

You made the moon to mark the seasons, the sun that knows the hour of its setting.

You bring darkness and night falls, then all the beasts of the forest roam abroad.

Young lions roar for prey; they seek their food from God.

When the sun rises, they steal away and rest in their dens.

People go forth to their work, to their labor till evening falls.

How varied are your works, LORD! In wisdom you have wrought them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Look at the sea, great and wide! It teems with countless beings, living things both large and small.

Here ships ply their course; here Leviathan, your creature, plays.

All of these look to you to give them food in due time.

When you give to them, they gather; when you open your hand, they are well filled.

When you hide your face, they are lost. When you take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust from which they came.

When you send forth your breath, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD be glad in these works!

If God glares at the earth, it trembles; if God touches the mountains, they smoke!

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live.

May my theme be pleasing to God; I will rejoice in the LORD.

May sinners vanish from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, my soul! Hallelujah!

Source: The New American Bible


 

Wednesday of Holy Week

+Matthew 26:14-25

‘The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will’

One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.”’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The institution of the Eucharist

1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; “thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.”

1338 The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come down from heaven.

1339 Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover meal for us, that we may eat it. . . .” They went . . . and prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”. . . . And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.”

1340 By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.

“Do this in memory of me”

1341 The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words “until he comes” does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father.

1342 From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord’s command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.

1343 It was above all on “the first day of the week,” Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, that the Christians met “to break bread.” From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the Church’s life.

1344 Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes,” the pilgrim People of God advances, “following the narrow way of the cross,” toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.


Psalm 68

For the leader. A psalm of David; a song.

God will arise for battle; the enemy will be scattered; those who hate God will flee.

The wind will disperse them like smoke; as wax is melted by fire, so the wicked will perish before God.

Then the just will be glad; they will rejoice before God; they will celebrate with great joy.

Sing to God, praise the divine name; exalt the rider of the clouds. Rejoice before this God whose name is the LORD.

Father of the fatherless, defender of widows –  this is the God whose abode is holy,

Who gives a home to the forsaken, who leads prisoners out to prosperity, while rebels live in the desert.

God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the desert, Selah

The earth quaked, the heavens shook, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.

You claimed a land as your own, O God;

your people settled there. There you poured abundant rains, God, graciously given to the poor in their need.

The Lord announced the news of victory:

“The kings and their armies are in desperate flight.

All you people so numerous,

will you stay by the sheepfolds?

  1.  Every household will share the booty,
  2.  perhaps a dove sheathed with silver,
  3.  its wings covered with yellow gold.”

When the Almighty routed the kings there, the spoils were scattered like snow on Zalmon.

You high mountains of Bashan, you rugged mountains of Bashan,

You rugged mountains, why look with envy at the mountain where God has chosen to dwell, where the LORD resides forever?

God’s chariots were myriad, thousands upon thousands; from Sinai the Lord entered the holy place.

You went up to its lofty height; you took captives, received slaves as tribute. No rebels can live in the presence of God.

Blessed be the Lord day by day, God, our salvation, who carries us. Selah

Our God is a God who saves; escape from death is in the LORD God’s hands.

God will crush the skulls of the enemy, the hairy heads of those who walk in sin.

The Lord has said: “Even from Bashan I will fetch them, fetch them even from the depths of the sea.

You will wash your feet in your enemy’s blood; the tongues of your dogs will lap it up.”

Your procession comes into view, O God, your procession into the holy place, my God and king.

The singers go first, the harpists follow; in their midst girls sound the timbrels.

In your choirs, bless God; bless the LORD, you from Israel’s assemblies.

In the lead is Benjamin, few in number; there the princes of Judah, a large throng, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali, too.

Summon again, O God, your power, the divine power you once showed for us.

Show it from your temple on behalf of Jerusalem, that kings may bring you tribute.

Roar at the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of mighty bulls, the lords of nations; scatter the nations that delight in war.

Exact rich tribute from lower Egypt, from upper Egypt, gold and silver; make Ethiopia extend its hands to God.

You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; chant the praises of the Lord, Selah

Who rides the heights of the ancient heavens, whose voice is thunder, mighty thunder.

Confess the power of God, whose majesty protects Israel, whose power is in the sky.

Awesome is God in his holy place, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Source: The New American Bible


 

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

+John 8:31-42

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed

To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said:

‘If you make my word your home

you will indeed be my disciples,

you will learn the truth

and the truth will make you free.’

They answered, ‘We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, “You will be made free”?’ Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,

everyone who commits sin is a slave.

Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured,

but the son’s place is assured.

So if the Son makes you free,

you will be free indeed.

I know that you are descended from Abraham;

but in spite of that you want to kill me

because nothing I say has penetrated into you.

What I, for my part, speak of

is what I have seen with my Father;

but you, you put into action

the lessons learnt from your father.’

They repeated, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them:

‘If you were Abraham’s children,

you would do as Abraham did.

As it is, you want to kill me

when I tell you the truth

as I have learnt it from God;

that is not what Abraham did.

What you are doing is what your father does.’

‘We were not born of prostitution,’ they went on ‘we have one father: God.’ Jesus answered:

‘If God were your father, you would love me,

since I have come here from God;

yes, I have come from him;

not that I came because I chose,

no, I was sent, and by him.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

HUMAN FREEDOM IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION

1739 Freedom and sin. Man’s freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God’s plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.

1740 Threats to freedom. The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. It is false to maintain that man, “the subject of this freedom,” is “an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods.”Moreover, the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions that are needed for a just exercise of freedom are too often disregarded or violated. Such situations of blindness and injustice injure the moral life and involve the strong as well as the weak in the temptation to sin against charity. By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth.

1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.”

1742 Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world:

Almighty and merciful God,

in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful,

so that, made ready both in mind and body,

we may freely accomplish your will.


Daniel 3:52-56

You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

Blest your glorious holy name.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the temple of your glory.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest who gaze into the depths.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the firmament of heaven.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

Source: Jerusalem Bible


 

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

+John 5:17-30

The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live

Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father goes on working, and so do I.’ But that only made them even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.

To this accusation Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,

the Son can do nothing by himself;

he can do only what he sees the Father doing:

and whatever the Father does the Son does too.

For the Father loves the Son

and shows him everything he does himself,

and he will show him even greater things than these,

works that will astonish you.

Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,

so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses;

for the Father judges no one;

he has entrusted all judgement to the Son,

so that all may honour the Son

as they honour the Father.

Whoever refuses honour to the Son

refuses honour to the Father who sent him.

I tell you most solemnly,

whoever listens to my words,

and believes in the one who sent me,

has eternal life;

without being brought to judgement

he has passed from death to life.

I tell you most solemnly,

the hour will come – in fact it is here already –

when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,

and all who hear it will live.

For the Father, who is the source of life,

has made the Son the source of life;

and, because he is the Son of Man,

has appointed him supreme judge.

Do not be surprised at this,

for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves

at the sound of his voice:

those who did good will rise again to life;

and those who did evil, to condemnation.

I can do nothing by myself;

I can only judge as I am told to judge,

and my judging is just,

because my aim is to do not my own will,

but the will of him who sent me.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The progressive revelation of the Resurrection

992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. the creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:

The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws. One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.

993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord’s contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?”Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who “is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.” It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,” The sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a “witness to his Resurrection,” to “[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead.” Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. “On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.” It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?


Psalm 144

Of David.  Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war;

My safe guard and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me.

LORD, what are mortals that you notice them; human beings, that you take thought of them?

They are but a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.

LORD, incline your heavens and come; touch the mountains and make them smoke.

Flash forth lightning and scatter my foes; shoot your arrows and rout them.

Reach out your hand from on high; deliver me from the many waters; rescue me from the hands of foreign foes.

Their mouths speak untruth; their right hands are raised in lying oaths.

O God, a new song I will sing to you; on a ten-stringed lyre I will play for you.

You give victory to kings; you delivered David your servant. From the menacing sword

deliver me; rescue me from the hands of foreign foes. Their mouths speak untruth; their right hands are raised in lying oaths.

May our sons be like plants well nurtured from their youth, Our daughters, like carved columns, shapely as those of the temple.

May our barns be full with every kind of store. May our sheep increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; may our oxen be well fattened.

May there be no breach in the walls, no exile, no outcry in our streets.

Happy the people so blessed; happy the people whose God is the LORD.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Perpetua and Felicity, Mm

+Matthew 5:17-19

I have not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to complete them

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

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. 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. 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.” This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church.

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.


Psalm 147

LORD, avenging God, avenging God, shine forth!

Rise up, judge of the earth; give the proud what they deserve.

How long, LORD, shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked glory?

How long will they mouth haughty speeches, go on boasting, all these evildoers?

They crush your people, LORD, torment your very own.

They kill the widow and alien; the fatherless they murder.

They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Understand, you stupid people! You fools, when will you be wise?

Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?

Does the one who guides nations not rebuke? The one who teaches humans not have knowledge?

The LORD does know human plans; they are only puffs of air.

Happy those whom you guide, LORD, whom you teach by your instruction.

You give them rest from evil days, while a pit is being dug for the wicked.

You, LORD, will not forsake your people, nor abandon your very own.

Judgment shall again be just, and all the upright of heart will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers?

If the LORD were not my help, I would long have been silent in the grave.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your love, LORD, holds me up.

When cares increase within me, your comfort gives me joy.

Can unjust judges be your allies, those who create burdens in the name of law,

Those who conspire against the just and condemn the innocent to death?

No, the LORD is my secure height, my God, the rock where I find refuge,

Who will turn back their evil upon them and destroy them for their wickedness. Surely the LORD our God will destroy them!

Source: The New American Bible


The Passion of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicitas, and their Companions is one of the oldest and most notable early Christian texts. It survives in both Latin and Greek forms, and purports to contain the actual prison diary of the young mother and martyr Perpetua. Scholars generally believe that it is authentic although in the form we have it may have been edited by others. The text also purports to contain, in his own words, the accounts of the visions of Saturus, another Christian martyred with Perpetua. An editor who states he was an eyewitness has added accounts of the martyrs’ suffering and deaths.

Perpetua and Felicity (believed to have died in 203 AD) were Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. Vibia Perpetua was a married noblewoman, said to have been 22 years old at the time of her death, and mother of an infant she was nursing. Felicity, a slave imprisoned with her and pregnant at the time, was martyred with her. They were put to death along with others at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.

According to the passion narrative, a slave named Revocatus, his fellow slave Felicitas, the two free men Saturninus and Secundulus, and Perpetua, who were catechumens, that is, Christians being instructed in the faith but not yet baptized, were arrested and executed at the military games in celebration of the Emperor Septimus Severus’s birthday. To this group was added a man named Saturus, who voluntarily went before the magistrate and proclaimed himself a Christian.

Summary of the Passion text

The traditional view has been that Perpetua, Felicity and the others were martyred owing to a decree of Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193–211). This is based on a reference to a decree he is said to have issued forbidding conversions to Judaism and Christianity but this decree is known only from one source, the Augustan History, an unreliable mix of fact and fiction. Early church historian Eusebius describes Severus as a persecutor, but the Christian apologist Tertullian states that Severus was well disposed towards Christians, employed a Christian as his personal physician and had personally intervened to save several high-born Christians known to him from the mob. Eusebius’ description of Severus as a persecutor likely derives merely from the fact that numerous persecutions occurred during his reign, including those known in the Roman martyrology as the martyrs of Madaura as well as Perpetua and Felicity in the Roman province of Africa, but these were probably as the result of local persecutions rather than empire wide actions or decrees by Severus.

The details of the martyrdoms survive in both Latin and Greek texts (see below). Perpetua’s account of events leading to their deaths, apparently historical, is written in the first person. A brief introduction by the editor (chapters i–ii) is followed by the narrative and visions of Perpetua (iii–ix), and the vision of Saturus (xi–xiii). The account of their deaths, written by the editor who claims to be an eyewitness, is included at the end (xiv–xxi).

Perpetua’s account opens with conflict between her and her father, who wishes her to recant her belief. Perpetua refuses, and is soon baptized before being moved to prison (iii). After the guards are bribed, she is allowed to move to a better portion of the prison, where she nurses her child and gives its charge to her mother and brother (iii), and the child is able to stay in prison with her for the time being (iii).

At the encouragement of her brother, Perpetua asks for and receives a vision, in which she climbs a dangerous ladder to which various weapons are attached (iv). At the foot of a ladder is a serpent, which is faced first by Saturus and later by Perpetua (iv). The serpent does not harm her, and she ascends to a garden (iv). At the conclusion of her dream, Perpetua realizes that the martyrs will suffer (iv).

Perpetua’s father visits her in prison and pleads with her, but Perpetua remains steadfast in her faith (v). She is brought to a hearing before the governor Hilarianus and the martyrs confess their Christian faith (vi). In a second vision, Perpetua sees her brother Dinocrates, who had died unbaptized from cancer at the early age of seven (vii). She prayed for him and later had a vision of him happy and healthy, his facial disfigurement reduced to a scar (viii). Perpetua’s father again visits the prison, and Pudens (the warden) shows the martyrs honor (ix).

The day before her martyrdom, Perpetua envisions herself defeating a savage Egyptian and interprets this to mean that she would have to do battle not merely with wild beasts but with the Devil himself (x).

Saturus, who is also said to have recorded his own vision, sees himself and Perpetua transported eastward by four angels to a beautiful garden, where they meet Jocundus, Saturninus, Hinda, Artaius, and Dennis Quinntus, four other Christians who are burnt alive during the same persecution (xi–xii). He also sees Bishop Optatus of Carthage and the priest Aspasius, who beseech the martyrs to reconcile the conflicts between them (xiii).

As the editor resumes the story, Secundulus is said to have died in prison (xiv). The slave Felicitas gives birth to a daughter despite her initial concern that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom with the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women (xv). On the day of the games, the martyrs are led into the amphitheatre (xviii). At the demand of the crowd they were first scourged before a line of gladiators; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard were set on the men, and a wild cow on the women (xix). Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword (xix). The text describes Perpetua’s death as follows; “But Perpetua, that she might have some taste of pain, was pierced between the bones and shrieked out; and when the swordsman’s hand wandered still (for he was a novice), herself set it upon her own neck. Perchance so great a woman could not else have been slain (being feared of the unclean spirit) had she not herself so willed it” (xix). The text ends as the editor extols the acts of the martyrs.


 

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

+Matthew 20:17-28

They will condemn the Son of Man to death

Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the way he took the Twelve to one side and said to them, ‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will rise again.’

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Duties of civil authorities

2235 Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.

2236 The exercise of authority is meant to give outward expression to a just hierarchy of values in order to facilitate the exercise of freedom and responsibility by all. Those in authority should practice distributive justice wisely, taking account of the needs and contribution of each, with a view to harmony and peace. They should take care that the regulations and measures they adopt are not a source of temptation by setting personal interest against that of the community.

2237 Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.

The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.


Psalm 30

A psalm. A song for the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I praise you, LORD, for you raised me up and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O LORD, my God, I cried out to you and you healed me.

LORD, you brought me up from Sheol; you kept me from going down to the pit.

Sing praise to the LORD, you faithful; give thanks to God’s holy name.

For divine anger lasts but a moment; divine favor lasts a lifetime. At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing.

Complacent, I once said, “I shall never be shaken.”

LORD, when you showed me favor I stood like the mighty mountains. But when you hid your face I was struck with terror.

To you, LORD, I cried out; with the Lord I pleaded for mercy:

“What gain is there from my lifeblood, from my going down to the grave? Does dust give you thanks or declare your faithfulness?

Hear, O LORD, have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper.”

You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.

With my whole being I sing endless praise to you. O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Peter Damian, B & D

+Luke 11:29-32

The crowds got even bigger, and Jesus addressed them:

‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

JESUS AND ISRAEL’S FAITH IN THE ONE GOD AND SAVIOR

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.364 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.”365 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”.


Psalm 51

For the leader. A psalm of David,

when Nathan the prophet came to him after his affair with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.

Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.

True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.

Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.

Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.

Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.

For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.

My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Saint Peter Damian (Latin: Petrus Damianus; Italian: Pietro or Pier Damiani; c. 1007 – 21 or 22 February 1072 or 1073) was a reforming Benedictine monk and cardinal in the circle of Pope Leo IX. Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Saint Francis of Assisi and he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828. His feast day is 21 February.

Early life

Peter was born in Ravenna around 1007, the youngest of a large noble, but poor family. Orphaned early, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. After some years, another brother, Damianus, who was archpriest at Ravenna, had pity on him and took him away to be educated. Adding his brother’s name to his own, Peter made such rapid progress in his studies of theology and canon law, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza, and finally at the University of Parma, that, around the age of 25, he was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna.

Religious life

About 1035, however, he gave up his secular calling and, avoiding the compromised luxury of Cluniac monasteries, entered the isolated hermitage of Fonte Avellana, near Gubbio. Both as novice and as monk, his fervor was remarkable but led him to such extremes of self-mortification in penance that his health was affected, and he developed severe insomnia.

On his recovery, he was appointed to lecture to his fellow monks. Then, at the request of Guy of Pomposa (Guido d’Arezzo) and other heads of neighboring monasteries, for two or three years he lectured to their brethren also, and (about 1042) wrote the life of St Romuald for the monks of Pietrapertosa. Soon after his return to Fonte Avellana he was appointed economus (manager or housekeeper) of the house by the prior, who designated him as his successor. In 1043 he became prior of Fonte Avellana, and remained so until his death in February 1072.

Subject-hermitages were founded at San Severino, Gamogna, Acerreta, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria and Ocri. A zealot for monastic and clerical reform, he introduced a more-severe discipline, including the practice of flagellation (“the disciplina”), into the house, which, under his rule, quickly attained celebrity, and became a model for other foundations, even the great abbey of Monte Cassino. There was much opposition outside his own circle to such extreme forms of penitence, but Peter’s persistent advocacy ensured its acceptance, to such an extent that he was obliged later to moderate the imprudent zeal of some of his own hermits.

Another innovation was that of the daily siesta, to make up for the fatigue of the night office. During his tenure of the priorate a cloister was built, silver chalices and a silver processional cross were purchased, and many books were added to the library.

Reformer

Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian closely watched the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, he strove for reforms in a deplorable time. When Benedict IX resigned the pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI) in 1045, Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the new pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, singling out the wicked bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello and of Fano.

Extending the area of his activities, he entered into communication with the Emperor Henry III. He was present in Rome when Clement II crowned Henry III and his consort Agnes, and he also attended a synod held at the Lateran in the first days of 1047, in which decrees were passed against simony.

After this he returned to his hermitage. About 1050, during the pontificate of Pope Leo IX, he wrote a scathing treatise on the vices of the clergy, including sexual abuse of minors and actions by church superiors to hide the crimes. Liber Gomorrhianus was openly addressed to the pope. Meanwhile, the question arose as to the validity of the ordinations of simoniacal clerics. Peter Damiani wrote (about 1053) a treatise, the Liber Gratissimus, in favor of their validity, a work which, though much combatted at the time, was potent in deciding the question in their favor before the end of the 12th century. Pope Benedict XVI described him as “one of the most significant figures of the 11th century … a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform.”

Philosophy

Peter often condemned philosophy. He claimed that the first grammarian was the Devil, who taught Adam to decline deus in the plural. He argued that monks should not have to study philosophy, because Jesus did not choose philosophers as disciples, and so philosophy is not necessary for salvation. But the idea (later attributed to Thomas Aquinas) that philosophy should serve theology as a servant serves her mistress originated with him.However, this apparent animosity may reflect his view that logic is only concerned with the validity of argument, rather than the nature of reality. Similar views are found in Al-Ghazali and Wittgenstein.

Damian’s tract De divina omnipotentia is frequently misunderstood. Damian’s purpose is to defend the “doctrine of omnipotence”, which he defines as the ability of God to do anything that is good, i.e., God cannot lie. Toivo J. Holopainen identifies De divina omnipotentia as “an interesting document related to the early developments of medieval discussion concerning modalities and divine omnipotence.” Peter also recognized that God can act outside time, as Gregory of Rimini later argued.

Papal envoy and Cardinal

During his illness the pope died, and Frédéric, abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected pope as Stephen IX. In the autumn of 1057, Stephen IX determined to make Damian a cardinal. For a long time Damian resisted the offer, for he was more at ease as an itinerant hermit-preacher than a reformer from within the Curia, but was finally forced to accept, and was consecrated Cardinal Bishop of Ostia on 30 November 1057.

In addition he was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio. The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all. Four months later Pope Stephen died at Florence, and the Church was once more distracted by schism. Peter was vigorous in his opposition to the antipope Benedict X, but force was on the side of the intruder and Damian retired temporarily to Fonte Avallana.

Milan

About the end of the year 1059 Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Pope Nicholas II. So bad was the state of things at Milan, that benefices (a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services) were openly bought and sold, and the clergy publicly married the women with whom they lived. The resistance of the clergy of Milan to the reform of Ariald the Deacon and Anselm, Bishop of Lucca rendered a contest so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See.

Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates. The party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. Peter boldly confronted the rioters in the cathedral, he proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision.

He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he reinstated in their benefices all who undertook to live in celibacy. This prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigorists at Rome, but was not reversed. Unfortunately, on the death of Nicholas II, the same disputes broke out; nor were they finally settled till after the martyrdom of St Ariald in 1066. Meanwhile, Peter was pleading in vain to be released from the cares of his office. Neither Nicholas II nor Hildebrand would consent to spare him.

Later career

He rendered valuable assistance to Pope Alexander II in his struggle with the antipope, Honorius II. In July 1061 the pope died and once more a schism ensued. Peter Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw, but to no purpose. Finally Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne and acting regent in Germany, summoned a council at Augsburg at which a long argument by Peter Damian was read and greatly contributed to the decision in favor of Alexander II.

In 1063 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Peter Damian was appointed legate to settle the dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Mâcon. He proceeded to France, summoned a council at Chalon-sur-Saône, proved the justice of the contentions of Cluny, settled other questions at issue in the Church of France, and returned in the autumn to Fonte Avellana.[citation needed]

While he was in France the antipope Cadalous had again become active in his attempts to gain Rome, and Peter Damian brought upon himself a sharp reproof from Alexander and Hildebrand for twice imprudently appealing to the royal power to judge the case anew. In 1067, the cardinal was sent to Florence to settle the dispute between the bishop and the monks of Vallombrosa, who accused the former of simony. His efforts, however, were not successful, largely because he misjudged the case and threw the weight of his authority on the side of the bishop. The matter was not settled until the following year by the pope in person.

Having served the papacy as legate to France and to Florence, he was allowed to resign his bishopric in 1067. After a period of retirement at Fonte Avellana, he proceeded in 1069 as papal legate to Germany, and persuaded the emperor Henry IV to give up his intention of divorcing his wife Bertha. He accomplished this task at a council in Frankfurt before returning to Fonte-Avellana.

Early in 1072 or 1073 he was sent to Ravenna to reconcile its inhabitants to the Holy See, they having been excommunicated for supporting their archbishop in his adhesion to the schism of Cadalous. On his return thence he was seized with fever near Faenza. He lay ill for a week at the monastery of Santa Maria degl’Angeli, now Santa Maria Vecchia. On the night preceding the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch, he ordered the office of the feast to be recited and at the end of the Lauds he died. He was at once buried in the monastery church, lest others should claim his relics.[citation needed]

During his concluding years he was not altogether in accord with the political ideas of Hildebrand. He died the year before Hildebrand became pope, as Gregory VII. “It removed from the scene the one man who could have restrained Gregory”, Norman F. Cantor remarked (Civilization of the Middle Ages, p 251).

Veneration

Peter Damian is a saint and was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII in 1828 with a feast day which is now celebrated on 21 February (Ordinary calendar).pl Although it was traditionally given as 23 February, this was using the Roman calendar which had 29 days in January. So in 1970, his feast was moved to 21 February, to align it with the ordinary calendar.

His body has been moved six times. Since 1898, Peter Damian has rested in a chapel dedicated to the saint in the cathedral of Faenza. No formal canonization ever took place, but his cult has existed since his death at Faenza, at Fonte-Avellana, at Monte Cassino, and at Cluny.

The saint is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a knotted rope (the disciplina) in his hand; also sometimes he is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.

Source: Wikipedia


 

Ash Wednesday

+Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

THE MANY FORMS OF PENANCE IN CHRISTIAN LIFE

1434 The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.”

1435 Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. “It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.”

1437 Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father – every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father:37 the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart Of Christ Who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.


Psalm 50

A psalm of Asaph. 1 The LORD, the God of gods, has spoken and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

From Zion God shines forth. perfect in beauty.

Our God comes and will not be silent! Devouring fire precedes, storming fiercely round about.

God summons the heavens above and the earth to the judgment of his people:

“Gather my faithful ones before me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

The heavens proclaim divine justice, for God alone is the judge. Selah

“Listen, my people, I will speak; Israel, I will testify against you; God, your God, am I.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, nor for your holocausts, set before me daily.

I need no bullock from your house, no goats from your fold.

For every animal of the forest is mine, beasts by the thousands on my mountains.

I know every bird of the heavens; the creatures of the field belong to me.

Were I hungry, I would not tell you, for mine is the world and all that fills it.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?

Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High.

Then call on me in time of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.”

But to the wicked God says: “Why do you recite my commandments and profess my covenant with your lips?

You hate discipline; you cast my words behind you!

When you see thieves, you befriend them; with adulterers you throw in your lot.

You give your mouth free rein for evil; you harness your tongue to deceit.

You sit maligning your own kin, slandering the child of your own mother.

When you do these things should I be silent? Or do you think that I am like you? I accuse you, I lay the charge before you.

“Understand this, you who forget God, lest I attack you with no one to rescue.

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God.”

Source: The New American Bible