Frances of Rome, Rel

+Mark 12:28-34

‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Psalm 80

For the leader; according to “Lilies.” Eduth. A psalm of Asaph.

Shepherd of Israel, listen, guide of the flock of Joseph! From your throne upon the cherubim reveal yourself

to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Stir up your power, come to save us.

O LORD of hosts, restore us; Let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

LORD of hosts, how long will you burn with anger while your people pray?

You have fed them the bread of tears, made them drink tears in abundance.

You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors; our enemies deride us.

O LORD of hosts, restore us; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove away the nations and planted it.

You cleared the ground; it took root and filled the land.

The mountains were covered by its shadow, the cedars of God by its branches.

It sent out boughs as far as the sea, shoots as far as the river.

Why have you broken down the walls, so that all who pass by pluck its fruit?

The boar from the forest strips the vine; the beast of the field feeds upon it.

Turn again, LORD of hosts; look down from heaven and see; Attend to this vine,

the shoot your right hand has planted.

Those who would burn or cut it down –  may they perish at your rebuke.

May your help be with the man at your right hand, with the one whom you once made strong.

Then we will not withdraw from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.

LORD of hosts, restore us; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

Source: The New American Bible


Frances of Rome, Obl.S.B., (Italian: Santa Francesca Romana) (1384 – March 9, 1440) is an Italian saint who was a wife, mother, mystic, organizer of charitable services and a Benedictine oblate who founded a religious community of oblates, who share a common life without religious vows.

Life

Frances was born in 1384 in Rome to a wealthy and aristocratic couple, Paolo Bussa and Iacobella dei Roffredeschi, in the up-and-coming district of Parione and christened in the nearby Church of St. Agnes on the famed Piazza Navona. When she was eleven years old, she wanted to be a nun, but, at about the age of twelve, her parents forced her to marry Lorenzo Ponziani, commander of the papal troops of Rome and member of an extremely wealthy family. Although the marriage had been arranged, it was a happy one, lasting for forty years, partly because Lorenzo admired his wife, and partly because he was frequently away at war.

With her sister-in-law Vannozza, Frances visited the poor and took care of the sick, inspiring other wealthy women of the city to do the same. Soon after her marriage, Frances fell seriously ill. Her husband called a man in who dabbled in magic, but Frances drove him away, and later recounted to Vannozza that St. Alexis had appeared to her and cured her.

When her mother-in-law died, Frances became mistress of the household. During a time of flood and famine, she turned part of the family’s country estate into a hospital and distributed food and clothing to the poor. According to one account, her father-in-law was so angry that he took away from her the keys to the supply rooms; but gave them back when he saw that the corn bin and wine barrel were replenished after Frances finished praying.

During the wars between the pope in Rome and various anti-popes in the Western Schism of the Catholic Church, Lorenzo served the former. According to one story, their son Battista was to be delivered as a hostage to the commander of the Neapolitan troops. Obeying this order on the command of her spiritual director, Frances took her son to the Campidoglio. On the way, she stopped in the Church of the Aracoeli located there and entrusted her son’s life to the Blessed Mother. When they arrived at the appointed site, the soldiers tried to put her son on a horse to transport him to captivity. However, the horse refused to move despite heavy whipping. The superstitious soldiers saw the hand of God in this and returned the boy to his mother.

During a period of forced exile, much of Lorenzo’s property and possessions were destroyed. In the course of one occupation of Rome by Neapolitan forces in the early part of the century, he was wounded so severely that he never fully recovered. Frances nursed him throughout the rest of his life.

Frances experienced other sorrows during her marriage to Lorenzo. They lost two children to the plague. Chaos ruled the city in that period of neglect by the pope and the ongoing warfare between him and the various forces competing for power on the Italian peninsula devastated the city. The city of Rome was largely in ruins, and wolves were known to enter the streets. Frances again opened her home as a hospital and drove her wagon through the countryside to collect wood for fire and herbs for medicine. It is said she had the gift of healing, and over 60 cases were attested to during the canonization proceedings.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “With her husband’s consent St. Frances practiced continence, and advanced in a life of contemplation. Her visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, as well as the bodily vision of her guardian angel, had revelations concerning Purgatory and Hell, and foretold the ending of the Western Schism. She could read the secrets of consciences and detect plots of diabolical origin. She was remarkable for her humility and detachment, her obedience and patience”.

On August 15, 1425, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, she founded the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, a confraternity of pious women, under the authority of the Olivetan monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria Nova in Rome, but neither cloistered nor bound by formal vows, so they could follow her pattern of combining a life of prayer with answering the needs of their society.

In March 1433 she founded a monastery at Tor de’ Specchi, near the Campidoglio, in order to allow for a common life by those members of the confraternity who felt so called] This monastery remains the only house of the Institute. That July 4, they received the approval of Pope Eugene IV as a religious congregation of oblates with private religious vows. The community later became known simply as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.

Frances herself remained in her own home, nursing her husband for the last seven years of his life from wounds he had received in battle. When he died in 1436, she moved into the monastery and became the superior. She died in 1440 and was buried in Santa Maria Nova.

Veneration

On May 9, 1608, she was canonized by Pope Paul V,[2] and in the following decades a diligent search was made for her remains, which had been hidden due to the troubled times in which she lived. Her body was found incorrupt some months after her death. Her grave was identified on April 2, 1638, (but this time only the bones remained), and her remains were reburied in the Church of Santa Maria Nova on March 9, 1649, which since then has been her feast day. Again, in 1869, her body was exhumed and has since then been displayed in a glass coffin for the veneration of the faithful. The Church of Santa Maria Nova is now usually referred to as the Church of St. Frances.

Source: Wikipedia


 

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Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 7:14-23

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,326 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Psalm 36

For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD.

Sin directs the heart of the wicked; their eyes are closed to the fear of God.

For they live with the delusion: their guilt will not be known and hated.

Empty and false are the words of their mouth; they have ceased to be wise and do good.

In their beds they hatch plots; they set out on a wicked way; they do not reject evil.

LORD, your love reaches to heaven; your fidelity, to the clouds.

Your justice is like the highest mountains; your judgments, like the mighty deep; all living creatures you sustain, LORD.

How precious is your love, O God! We take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

We feast on the rich food of your house; from your delightful stream you give us drink.

For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.

Continue your kindness toward your friends, your just defense of the honest heart.

Do not let the foot of the proud overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked disturb me.

There make the evildoers fall; thrust them down, never to rise.

Source: The New American Bible

 

 

 

Anthony, Ab

+Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Psalm 143

A psalm of David. LORD, hear my prayer; in your faithfulness listen to my pleading; answer me in your justice.

Do not enter into judgment with your servant; before you no living being can be just.

The enemy has pursued me; they have crushed my life to the ground. They have left me in darkness like those long dead.

My spirit is faint within me; my heart is dismayed.

I remember the days of old; I ponder all your deeds; the works of your hands I recall.

I stretch out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Selah

Hasten to answer me, LORD; for my spirit fails me. Do not hide your face from me, lest I become like those descending to the pit.

At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life.

Rescue me, LORD, from my foes, for in you I hope.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your kind spirit guide me on ground that is level.

For your name’s sake, LORD, give me life; in your justice lead me out of distress.

In your kindness put an end to my foes; destroy all who attack me, for I am your servant. Psalm

Source: The New American Bible


Saint Anthony or Antony (Greek: Ἀντώνιος, Antṓnios; Latin: Antonius, Coptic: Ⲁⲃⲃⲁ Ⲁⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓ, lit. ‘Avva Antoni’; c. 251 – 356) was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a saint. He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony by various epithets: Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, and Anthony of Thebes. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism, he is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17 among the Orthodox and Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Egyptian calendar used by the Coptic Church.

The biography of Anthony’s life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness (about ad 270), which seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were referred to as St. Anthony’s fire.

Life

Early years

Anthony was born in Coma in Lower Egypt in ad 251 to wealthy landowner parents. When he was about 18 years old, his parents died and left him with the care of his unmarried sister. Shortly thereafter, he decided to follow the Evangelical counsel of Jesus which reads, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven.”[Mt 19:21] Anthony gave away some of his family’s lands to his neighbors, sold the remaining property, and donated the funds thus raised to the poor. He then left to live an ascetic life, placing his sister with a group of Christian virgins, a sort of proto-convent.

Hermit

For the next fifteen years, Anthony remained in the area, spending the first years as the disciple of another local hermit. There are various legends associating Anthony with pigs: one is that he worked as a swineherd during this period.

Anthony is sometimes considered the first monk, and the first to initiate solitary desertification, but there were others before him. There were already ascetic pagan hermits (the Therapeutae) and loosely organized cenobitic communities were described by the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria in the 1st century ad as long established in the harsh environment of Lake Mareotis and in other less accessible regions. Philo opined that “this class of persons may be met with in many places, for both Greece and barbarian countries want to enjoy whatever is perfectly good.”Christian ascetics such as Thecla had likewise retreated to isolated locations at the outskirts of cities. Anthony is notable for having decided to surpass this tradition and headed out into the desert proper. He left for the alkaline Nitrian Desert (later the location of the noted monasteries of Nitria, Kellia, and Scetis) on the edge of the Western Desert about 95 km (59 mi) west of Alexandria. He remained there for 13 years.

According to Athanasius, the devil fought Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art. After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious. When his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church.

After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back into the desert to a farther mountain by the Nile called Pispir (now Der-el-Memun), opposite Arsinoe. There he lived strictly enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some 20 years. According to Athanasius, the devil again resumed his war against Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes, and scorpions. They appeared as if they were about to attack him or cut him into pieces. But the saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, “If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me.” At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke. While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread that would sustain him for six months. He did not allow anyone to enter his cell; whoever came to him stood outside and listened to his advice.

Then one day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers, who broke down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. Instead, he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow. Anthony went to Fayyum and confirmed the brethren there in the Christian faith before returning to his fort.

Amid the Diocletian Persecutions, Anthony wished to become a martyr and in 311 went to Alexandria. He visited those who were imprisoned for the sake of Christ and comforted them. When the Governor saw that he was confessing his Christianity publicly, not caring what might happen to him, he ordered him not to show up in the city. However, the Saint did not heed his threats. He faced him and argued with him in order that he might arouse his anger so that he might be tortured and martyred, but it did not happen.

Father of Monks

At the end of the persecutions, Anthony returned to his old Roman fort. By this time, many more had heard of his sanctity and he had many more visitors than before. He saw these visits as interfering with his worship and went further into the Eastern Desert. He traveled for three days before reaching a small oasis with a spring and some palm trees and chose to settle there. Disciples soon found him out and his number of visitors again continued to grow.

Anthony had not been the first ascetic or hermit, but he may properly be called the “Father of Monasticism” in Christianity, as he organized his disciples into a worshipful community and inspired similar withdrawn communities throughout Egypt and, following the spread of Athanasius’s hagiography, the Greek and Roman world. His follower Macarius the Great was particularly active in continuing his legacy.

Anthony anticipated the rule of Benedict by about 200 years, engaging himself and his disciples in manual labor. Anthony himself cultivated a garden and wove rush mats. He and his disciples were regularly sought for words of enlightenment. These statements were later collected into the book of Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Anthony himself is said to have spoken to those of a spiritual disposition personally, leaving the task of addressing the more worldly visitors to Macarius. On occasions, he would go to the monastery on the outskirts of the desert by the Nile to visit the brethren, then return to his inner monastery.

A background story of one of the surviving epistles, directed to Constantine I, recounts how the fame of Saint Anthony spread abroad and reached Emperor Constantine. The Emperor wrote to him offering praise and requesting prayers. The brethren were pleased with the Emperor’s letter, but Anthony did not pay any attention to it, and he said to them, “The books of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, commands us every day, but we do not heed what they tell us, and we turn our backs on them.” Under the persistence of the brethren who told him “Emperor Constantine loves the church”, he accepted to write him a letter blessing him, and praying for the peace and safety of the empire and the church.

According to Athanasius, Saint Anthony heard a voice telling him “Go out and see.” He went out and saw an angel who wore a girdle with a cross, one resembling the holy Eskiem (Tonsure or Schema), and on his head was a head cover (Kolansowa). He was sitting while braiding palm leaves, then he stood up to pray, and again he sat to weave. A voice came to him saying, “Anthony, do this and you will rest.” Henceforth, he started to wear this tunic that he saw, and began to weave palm leaves, and never was bored again. Saint Anthony prophesied about the persecution that was about to happen to the church and the control of the heretics over it, the church victory and its return to its former glory, and the end of the age. When Saint Macarius visited Anthony, Anthony clothed him with the monk’s garb and foretold him what would happen to him. When the day drew near for the departure of Saint Paul the First Hermit in the desert, Saint Anthony went to him and buried him, after clothing him in a tunic which was a present from St Athanasius the Apostolic, the 20th Patriarch of Alexandria.

In 338, he left the desert temporarily to visit Alexandria to help refute the teachings of Arius.Although not particularly learned, Anthony was able to confound the Arians.

Final days

When Saint Anthony felt that the day of his departure had approached, he commanded his disciples to give his staff to Saint Macarius, and to give one sheepskin cloak to Saint Athanasius and the other sheepskin cloak to Saint Serapion, his disciple. He further instructed his disciples to bury his body in an unmarked, secret grave.

He probably spoke only his native language, Coptic, but his sayings were spread in a Greek translation. He himself left no writings. His biography was written by Saint Athanasius and titled Life of Saint Anthony the Great. Many stories are also told about him in various collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Though Anthony himself did not organize or create a monastery, a community grew around him based on his example of living an ascetic and isolated life. Athanasius’ biography helped propagate Anthony’s ideals. Athanasius writes, “For monks, the life of Anthony is a sufficient example of asceticism.” Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals.

The biography of Anthony’s life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness (about ad 270), a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.

Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases, particularly skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism, erysipelas, and shingles, were referred to as St. Anthony’s fire.

Source: Wikipedia


 

Hilary, B & D

+Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Psalm 20

For the leader. A psalm of David.

The LORD answer you in time of distress; the name of the God of Jacob defend you!

May God send you help from the temple, from Zion be your support.

May God remember your every offering, graciously accept your holocaust, Selah

Grant what is in your heart, fulfill your every plan.

May we shout for joy at your victory, raise the banners in the name of our God. The LORD grant your every prayer!

Now I know victory is given to the anointed of the LORD. God will answer him from the holy heavens with a strong arm that brings victory.

Some rely on chariots, others on horses, but we on the name of the LORD our God.

They collapse and fall, but we stand strong and firm.

LORD, grant victory to the king; answer when we call upon you.

Source: The New American Bible


Hilary (Hilarius) of Poitiers (c. 310 – c. 367[1]) was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians” (Latin: Malleus Arianorum) and the “Athanasius of the West.” His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the General Roman Calendar is 13 January. In the past, when this date was occupied by the Octave Day of the Epiphany, his feast day was moved to 14 January.

 

Early life

Hilary was born at Poitiers either at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century A.D. His parents were pagans of distinction. He received a good pagan education, which included a high level of Greek. He studied, later on, the Old and New Testament writings, with the result that he abandoned his Neo-Platonism for Christianity, and with his wife and his daughter (traditionally named Saint Abra), was baptized and received into the Church.

The Christians of Poitiers so respected Hilary that about 350 or 353, they unanimously elected him their bishop. At that time Arianism threatened to overrun the Western Church; Hilary undertook to repel the disruption. One of his first steps was to secure the excommunication, by those of the Gallican hierarchy who still remained orthodox Christians, of Saturninus, the Arian Bishop of Arles, and of Ursacius and Valens, two of his prominent supporters.

About the same time, Hilary wrote to Emperor Constantius II a remonstrance against the persecutions by which the Arians had sought to crush their opponents (Ad Constantium Augustum liber primus, of which the most probable date is 355). Other Historians refer to this first book to Constantius as “Book Against Valens,” of which only fragments are extant. His efforts did not succeed at first, for at the synod of Biterrae (Béziers), summoned by the emperor in 356 with the professed purpose of settling the longstanding dispute, an imperial rescript banished the new bishop, along with Rhodanus of Toulouse, to Phrygia.

Hilary spent nearly four years in exile, although the reasons for this banishment remain obscure. The traditional explanation is that Hilary was exiled for refusing to subscribe to the condemnation of Athanasius and the Nicene faith. More recently several scholars have suggested that political opposition to Constantius and support of the usurper Silvanus may have led to Hilary’s exile.

In exile

While in Phrygia, however, he continued to govern his diocese, as well as writing two of the most important of his contributions to dogmatic and polemical theology: the De synodis or De fide Orientalium, an epistle addressed in 358 to the Semi-Arian bishops in Gaul, Germany and Britain, analyzing the views of the Eastern bishops on the Nicene controversy. In reviewing the professions of faith of the Oriental bishops in the Councils of Ancyra, Antioch, and Sirmium, he sought to show that sometimes the difference between certain doctrines and orthodox beliefs was rather in the words than in the ideas, which led to his counseling the bishops of the West to be more reserved in their condemnation.

The De trinitate libri XII, composed in 359 and 360, was the first successful expression in Latin of that Council’s theological subtleties originally elaborated in Greek. Although some members of Hilary’s own party thought the first had shown too great a forbearance towards the Arians, Hilary replied to their criticisms in the Apologetica ad reprehensores libri de synodis responsa. Hilary was a firm guardian of the Trinity as taught by the Western church, and therefore saw the foreseen Antichrist in those who repudiated the divinity of the Son and thought Him to be but a created Being. “Hence also they who deny that Christ is the Son of God must have Antichrist for their Christ,” was the way he stated it.

 

In his classic introduction to the works of Hilary, Watson summarizes Hilary’s points:

“They were the forerunners of Antichrist. . . . They bear themselves not as bishops of Christ but as priests of Antichrist. This is not random abuse, but sober recognition of the fact, stated by St. John, that there are many Antichrists. For these men assume the cloak of piety, and pretend to preach the Gospel, with the one object of inducing others to deny Christ. It was the misery and folly of the day that men endeavoured to promote the cause of God by human means and the favour of the world. Hilary asks bishops, who believe in their office, whether the Apostles had secular support when by their preaching they converted the greater part of mankind. . . .

“The Church seeks for secular support, and in so doing insults Christ by the implication that His support is insufficient. She in her turn holds out the threat of exile and prison. It was her endurance of these that drew men to her; now she imposes her faith by violence. She craves for favours at the hand of her communicants; once it was her consecration that she braved the threatenings of persecutors. Bishops in exile spread the Faith; now it is she that exiles bishops. She boasts that the world loves her; the world’s hatred was the evidence that she was Christ’s. . . . The time of Antichrist, disguised as an angel of light, has come. The true Christ is hidden from almost every mind and heart. Antichrist is now obscuring the truth that he may assert falsehood hereafter.”

Hilary also attended several synods during his time in exile, including the council at Seleucia (359) which saw the triumph of the homoion party and the forbidding of all discussion of the divine substance. In 360, Hilary tried unsuccessfully to secure a personal audience with Constantius, as well as to address the council which met at Constantinople in 360. When this council ratified the decisions of Ariminum and Seleucia, Hilary responded with the bitter In Constantium, which attacked the Emperor Constantius as Antichrist and persecutor of orthodox Christians. Hilary’s urgent and repeated requests for public debates with his opponents, especially with Ursacius and Valens, proved at last so inconvenient that he was sent back to his diocese, which he appears to have reached about 361, within a very short time of the accession of Emperor Julian.

Later life

On returning to his diocese in 361, Hilary spent most of the first two or three years trying to persuade the local clergy that the homoion confession was merely a cover for traditional Arian subordinationism. Thus, a number of synods in Gaul condemneded the creed promulgated at Council of Ariminium (359).

In about 360 or 361, with Hilary’s encouragement, Martin, the future bishop of Tours, founded a monastery at Ligugé in his diocese.

In 364, Hilary extended his efforts once more beyond Gaul. He impeached Auxentius, bishop of Milan, a man high in the imperial favour, as heterodox. Emperor Valentinian I accordingly summoned Hilary to Milan to there maintain his charges. However, the supposed heretic gave satisfactory answers to all the questions proposed. Hilary denounced Auxentius as a hypocrite as he himself was ignominiously expelled from Milan. Upon returning home, Hilary in 365, published the Contra Arianos vel Auxentium Mediolanensem liber, describing his unsuccessful efforts against Auxentius. He also (but perhaps at a somewhat earlier date) published the Contra Constantium Augustum liber, accusing the lately deceased emperor as having been the Antichrist, a rebel against God, “a tyrant whose sole object had been to make a gift to the devil of that world for which Christ had suffered.”

According to Jerome, Hilary died in Poitiers in 367.

Source: Wikipedia

Third Sunday of Advent

+John 1:6-8,19-28

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness,

as a witness to speak for the light,

so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light,

only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Luke 1:46-50,53-54

And Mary said:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Source: The New American Bible


 

Martin de Porres, Rel

+Luke 14:1-6

Now on a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. There in front of him was a man with dropsy, and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees. ‘Is it against the law’ he asked ‘to cure a man on the sabbath, or not?’ But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a sabbath day without hesitation?’ And to this they could find no answer.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Psalm 147:12-15,19-20

Hallelujah!  How good to celebrate our God in song; how sweet to give fitting praise.

The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem, gathers the dispersed of Israel,

Heals the brokenhearted, binds up their wounds,

Numbers all the stars, calls each of them by name.

Great is our Lord, vast in power, with wisdom beyond measure.

The LORD sustains the poor, but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; with the lyre celebrate our God,

Who covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, makes grass sprout on the mountains,

Who gives animals their food and ravens what they cry for.

God takes no delight in the strength of horses, no pleasure in the runner’s stride.

Rather the LORD takes pleasure in the devout, those who await his faithful care.

Glorify the LORD, Jerusalem; Zion, offer praise to your God,

Who has strengthened the bars of your gates, blessed your children within you,

Brought peace to your borders, and filled you with finest wheat.

The LORD sends a command to earth; his word runs swiftly!

Thus snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash,

Hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze.

Again he sends his word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow.

The LORD also proclaims his word to Jacob, decrees and laws to Israel.

God has not done this for other nations; of such laws they know nothing. Hallelujah!

Source: The New American Bible


Martin de Porres Velázquez, O.P. (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639), was a lay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.

He was noted for work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children’s hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and an ability to communicate with animals.

Early Life

Juan Martin de Porres Velázquez was born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on December 9, 1579. He was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Don Juan de Porres, and Ana Velázquez, a freed slave from Panama, of African or possibly part Native American descent. He had a sister named Juana, born two years later in 1581. After the birth of his sister, the father abandoned the family. Ana Velázquez supported her children by taking in laundry. He grew up in poverty and, when his mother could not support him, Martin was confided to a primary school for two years, and then placed with a barber/surgeon to learn the medical arts. He spent hours of the night in prayer, a practice which increased as he grew older.

By law in Peru, descendants of Africans and Native Americans were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. The only route open to Martin was to ask the Dominicans of Holy Rosary Priory in Lima to accept him as a donado, a volunteer who performed menial tasks in the monastery in return for the privilege of wearing the habit and living with the religious community. At the age of 15 he asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a servant boy, and as his duties grew he was promoted to almoner.

Martin continued to practice his old trades of barbering and healing and was said to have performed many miraculous cures. He also took on kitchen work, laundry, and cleaning. After eight years at Holy Rosary, the prior Juan de Lorenzana, decided to turn a blind eye to the law and permit Martin to take his vows as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. Holy Rosary was home to 300 men, not all of whom accepted the decision of De Lorenzana: one of the novices called Martin a “mulatto dog”, while one of the priests mocked him for being illegitimate and descended from slaves.

When Martin was 24, he was allowed to profess religious vows as a Dominican lay brother in 1603. He is said to have several times refused this elevation in status, which may have come about due to his father’s intervention, and he never became a priest. It is said that when his convent was in debt, he implored them: “I am only a poor mulatto, sell me.” Martin was deeply attached to the Blessed Sacrament, and he was praying in front of it one night when the step of the altar he was kneeling on caught fire. Throughout all the confusion and chaos that followed, he remained where he was, unaware of what was happening around him.

When Martin was 34, after he had been given the religious habit of a lay brother, he was assigned to the infirmary, where he was placed in charge and would remain in service until his death at the age of 59. He was known for his care of the sick. His superiors saw in him the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role. It was not long before miracles were attributed to him. Martin also cared for the sick outside his convent, often bringing them healing with only a simple glass of water. He ministered without distinction to Spanish nobles and to slaves recently brought from Africa. One day an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Martin took him to his own bed. One of his brethren reproved him. Martin replied: “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness.”

When an epidemic struck Lima, there were in this single Convent of the Rosary 60 friars who were sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the convent, separated from the professed. Martin is said to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was reported in the residence more than once. The professed, too, saw him suddenly beside them without the doors having been opened. Martin continued to transport the sick to the convent until the provincial superior, alarmed by the contagion threatening the friars, forbade him to continue to do so. His sister, who lived in the country, offered her house to lodge those whom the residence of the religious could not hold. One day he found on the street a poor Indian, bleeding to death from a dagger wound, and took him to his own room until he could transport him to his sister’s hospice. The prior, when he heard of this, reprimanded him for disobedience. He was extremely edified, however, by his reply: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” The prior gave him liberty thereafter to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy.

Martin did not eat meat. He begged for alms to procure necessities the convent could not provide. In normal times, Martin succeeded with his alms to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent. Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin’s life is said to have reflected extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. He founded a residence for orphans and abandoned children in the city of Lima.

Death and commemoration

Martin was a friend of both St. Juan Macías, a fellow Dominican lay brother, and St. Rose of Lima, a lay Dominican. By the time he died, on November 3, 1639, he had won the affection and respect of many of his fellow Dominicans as well as a host of people outside the priory. Word of his miracles had made him known as a saint throughout the region. As his body was displayed to allow the people of the city to pay their respects, each person snipped a tiny piece of his habit to keep as a relic. It is said that three habits were taken from the body. His body was then interred in the grounds of the monastery.

After De Porres died, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and said to be found intact, and exhaling a fine fragrance. Letters to Rome pleaded for his beatification; the decree affirming the heroism of his virtues was issued in 1763 by Pope Clement XIII.

Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres on October 29, 1837, and nearly 125 years later, Pope John XXIII canonized him in Rome on May 6, 1962. He is the patron saint of people of mixed race, and of innkeepers, barbers, public health workers and more, with a feast day on November 3.

Source: Wikipedia


 

Thursday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mk 12: 28-34

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 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 scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’

And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him.Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.