Rose of Lima, V

+Matthew 22:1-14

Invite everyone you can to the wedding

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 50(51):12-15,18-19

I shall pour clean water over you and all your sins will be washed away.

A pure heart create for me, O God,

put a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

I shall pour clean water over you and all your sins will be washed away.

Give me again the joy of your help;

with a spirit of fervour sustain me,

that I may teach transgressors your ways

and sinners may return to you.

I shall pour clean water over you and all your sins will be washed away.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,

burnt offering from me you would refuse,

my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.

A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

I shall pour clean water over you and all your sins will be washed away.


Rose of Lima, T.O.S.D. (April 20, 1586 – August 24, 1617), was a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic in Lima, Peru, who became known for both her life of severe asceticism and her care of the needy of the city through her own private efforts. A lay member of the Dominican Order, she has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, being the first person born in the Americas to be canonized as a saint.

As a saint, Rose of Lima has been designated as a co-patroness of the Philippines along with Saint Pudentiana; both saints were both moved to second-class patronage in September 1942 by Pope Pius XII, but Rose remains the primary patroness of Peru and the indigenous natives of Latin America. Her image is featured on the highest denomination banknote of Peru.

Biography

She was born Isabel Flores de Oliva in the city of Lima, then in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on April 20, 1586. She was one of the many children of Gaspar Flores, a harquebusier in the Imperial Spanish army, born in Baños de Montemayor (Spain), and his wife, María de Oliva y Herrera, a criolla native of Lima. Her later nickname “Rose” comes from an incident in her babyhood: a servant claimed to have seen her face transform into a rose. In 1597 she was confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Toribio de Mogrovejo, who was also to be declared a saint. She formally took the name of Rose at that time.

As a young girl—in emulation of the noted Dominican tertiary, St. Catherine of Siena—she began to fast three times a week and performed severe penances in secret. When she was admired for her beauty, Rose cut off her hair and smeared pepper on her face, upset that men were beginning to take notice of her. She rejected all suitors against the objections of her friends and her family. Despite the censure of her parents, she spent many hours contemplating the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily, an extremely rare practice in that period. She was determined to take a vow of virginity, which was opposed by her parents, who wished her to marry. Finally, out of frustration, her father gave her a room to herself in the family home.

After daily fasting, she took to permanently abstaining from eating meat. She helped the sick and hungry around her community, bringing them to her room and taking care of them. Rose sold her fine needlework, and took flowers that she grew to market, to help her family. She made and sold lace and embroidery to care for the poor, and she prayed and did penance in a little grotto that she had built. Otherwise, she became a recluse, leaving her room only for her visits to church.

She attracted the attention of the friars of the Dominican Order. She wanted to become a nun, but her father forbade it, so she instead entered the Third Order of St. Dominic while living in her parents’ home. In her twentieth year she donned the habit of a tertiary and took a vow of perpetual virginity. She only allowed herself to sleep two hours a night at most, so that she had more hours to devote to prayer. She donned a heavy crown made of silver, with small spikes on the inside, in emulation of the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ.

For eleven years she lived this way, with intervals of ecstasy, and eventually died on August 24, 1617, at the young age of 31. It is said that she prophesied the date of her death. Her funeral was held in the cathedral, attended by all the public authorities of Lima.

Source: Wikipedia

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Alphonsus Liguori, B & D

+Matthew 13:44-46

He sells everything he owns and buys the field

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 58(59):2-5,10-11,17-18

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

Rescue me, God, from my foes;

protect me from those who attack me.

O rescue me from those who do evil

and save me from blood-thirsty men.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

See, they lie in wait for my life;

powerful men band together against me.

For no offence, no sin of mine, Lord,

for no guilt of mine they rush to take their stand.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,

for you, O God, are my stronghold,

the God who shows me love.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

As for me, I will sing of your strength

and each morning acclaim your love

for you have been my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my distress.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,

for you, O God, are my stronghold,

the God who shows me love.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

Source: Jerusalem Bible


Saint Alphonsus Liguori CSsR (1696–1787), sometimes called Alphonsus Maria Liguori, was an Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, scholastic philosopher, and theologian.

He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists). In 1762 he was appointed Bishop of Sant’Agata dei Goti. A prolific writer, he published nine editions of his Moral Theology in his lifetime, in addition to other devotional and ascetic works and letters. Among his best known works are The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross, the latter still used in parishes during Lenten devotions.

He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. One of the most widely read Catholic authors, he is the patron saint of confessors.

Early years

He was born in Marianella, near Naples, then part of the Kingdom of Naples, on 27 September 1696. He was the eldest of eight children of Giuseppe and Anna Cavalieri Liguori. Two days after he was born, he was baptized at the Church of Our Lady the Virgin as Alphonsus Mary Anthony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de’ Liguori. The family was of noble and ancient lineage, but the branch to which the Saint belonged had become somewhat impoverished. Alphonsus’s father, Don Joseph de’ Liguori, was a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys. His mother was of Spanish descent.

Education

Liguori learned to ride and fence but was never a good shot because of poor eyesight. Myopia and chronic asthma precluded a military career so his father had him educated for the legal profession. He was taught by tutors before entering the University of Naples, where he graduated with doctorates in civil and canon law at 16. He remarked later that he was so small at the time that he was almost buried in his doctor’s gown and that all the spectators laughed. When he was 18, like many other nobles, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy with whom he assisted in the care of the sick at the hospital for “incurables”.

He became a successful lawyer. He was thinking of leaving the profession and wrote to someone, “My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death”. At 27, after having lost an important case, the first he had lost in eight years of practicing law, he made a firm resolution to leave the profession of law. Moreover, he heard an interior voice saying: “Leave the world, and give yourself to me.”

Career change

In 1723, he decided to offer himself as a novice to the Oratory of St. Philip Neri with the intention of becoming a priest. His father opposed the plan, but after two months (and with his Oratorian confessor’s permission), he and his father compromised: he would study for the priesthood but not as an Oratorian and live at home. He was ordained on 21 December 1726, at 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and the marginalized youth of Naples. He became very popular because of his plain and simple preaching. He said: “I have never preached a sermon which the poorest old woman in the congregation could not understand”. He founded the Evening Chapels, which were managed by the young people themselves. The chapels were centers of prayer and piety, preaching, community, social activities and education. At the time of his death, there were 72, with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting those who had been alienated from their faith.

Liguori suffered from scruples much of his adult life and felt guilty about the most minor issues relating to sin.Moreover, the saint viewed scruples as a blessing at times and wrote: “Scruples are useful in the beginning of conversion…. they cleanse the soul, and at the same time make it careful”.

In 1729, Alphonsus left his family home and took up residence in the Chinese Institute in Naples. It was there that he began his missionary experience in the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples, where he found people who were much poorer and more abandoned than any of the street children in Naples. In 1731, while he was ministering to earthquake victims in the town of Foggia, Alphonsus claimed to have had a vision of the Virgin Mother in the appearance of a young girl of 13 or 14, wearing a white veil.

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

On 9 November 1732, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, when Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa told him that it had been revealed to her that he was the one that God had chosen to found the congregation. He founded the congregation with the charism of preaching popular missions in the city and the countryside. Its goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism, a heresy that supported a very strict morality: “the penitents should be treated as souls to be saved rather than as criminals to be punished”. He is said never to have refused absolution to a penitent.

A gifted musician and composer, he wrote many popular hymns and taught them to the people in parish missions. In 1732, while he was staying at the Convent of the Consolation, one of his order’s houses in the small city of Deliceto in the province of Foggia in Southeastern Italy, Liguori wrote the Italian carol “Tu scendi dalle stelle” (“From Starry Skies Descending”) in the musical style of a pastorale. The version with Italian lyrics was based on his original song written in Neapolitan, which began Quanno nascette Ninno (When the child was born). As it was traditionally associated with the zampogna, or large-format Italian bagpipe, it became known as Canzone d’i zampognari the (“Carol of the Bagpipers”).

Bishop

Alphonsus was consecrated Bishop of Sant’Agata dei Goti in 1762. He tried to refuse the appointment by using his age and infirmities as arguments against his consecration. He wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He first addressed ecclesiastical abuses in the diocese, reformed the seminary and spiritually rehabilitated the clergy and faithful. He suspended those priests who celebrated Mass in less than 15 minutes and sold his carriage and episcopal ring to give the money to the poor. In the last years of his life, he suffered a painful sickness and a bitter persecution from his fellow priests, who dismissed him from the Congregation that he had founded.

Death

In 1775, he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy, where he died on 1 August 1787.

Veneration and legacy

He was beatified on 15 September 1816 by Pope Pius VII and canonized on 26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.

In 1949, the Redemptorists founded the Alphonsian Academy for the advanced study of Catholic moral theology. He was named the patron of confessors and moral theologians by Pope Pius XII on 26 April 1950, who subsequently wrote of him in the encyclical Haurietis aquas.

Works

Overview

Alphonsus was a prolific and popular author. He was proficient in the arts, his parents having had him trained by various masters, and he was a musician, painter, poet and author at the same time. Alphonsus wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology. The 21,500 editions and the translations into 72 languages that his works have undergone attest to the fact that he is one of the most widely-read Catholic authors.

His best known musical work is his Christmas hymn Quanno Nascetti Ninno, later translated into Italian by Pope Pius IX as Tu scendi dalle stelle (“From Starry Skies Thou Comest”).

Moral theology

Alphonsus’ greatest contribution to the Church was in the area of moral theology. His masterpiece was The Moral Theology (1748), which was approved by the Pope himself and was born of Alphonsus’ pastoral experience, his ability to respond to the practical questions posed by the faithful and his contact with their everyday problems. He opposed sterile legalism and strict rigorism. According to him, those were paths closed to the Gospel because “such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church”. His system of moral theology is noted for its prudence, avoiding both laxism and excessive rigor. He is credited with the position of Aequiprobabilism, which avoided Jansenist rigorism as well as laxism and simple probabilism. Since its publication it has remained in Latin, often in 10 volumes or in the combined 4-volume version of Gaudé. It saw only recently its first publication in translation, in an English translation made by Ryan Grant and published in 2017 by Mediatrix Press. The English translation of the work is projected to be around 5 volumes.

Mariology

His Mariology, though mainly pastoral in nature, rediscovered, integrated and defended that of St Augustine of Hippo, St Ambrose of Milan and other fathers; it represented an intellectual defence of Mariology in the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, against the rationalism to which his often flaming Marian enthusiasm contrasted.

The Glories of Mary

Marian Devotion

Prayers to the Divine Mother

Spiritual Songs

The True Spouse of Jesus Christ

Other works

Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection

The Way of Salvation and of Perfection

The Way of the Cross,

The History of Heresies,

Preparation for Death,

The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ

The Holy Eucharist

Victories of the Martyrs

Source: Wikipedia

Benedict, Ab

+Matthew 10:1-7

‘Go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel’

Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows:

‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


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


Benedict of Nursia (Latin: Benedictus de Nursia; Italian: Benedetto da Norcia; Vulgar Latin: *Benedecto; Gothic: 𐌱𐌴𐌽𐌴𐌳𐌹𐌺𐍄, Benedikt; c. 2 March 480 – 543 or 547 AD) is a Christian saint, who is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion and Old Catholic Churches. He is a patron saint of Europe.

Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Lazio, Italy (about 40 miles (64 km) to the east of Rome), before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. The Order of Saint Benedict is of later origin and, moreover, not an “order” as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations.

Benedict’s main achievement is his “Rule of Saint Benedict”, containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness (ἐπιείκεια, epieikeia), and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of western monasticism.

Rule of St. Benedict

Seventy-three short chapters comprise the Rule. Its wisdom is of two kinds: spiritual (how to live a Christocentric life on earth) and administrative (how to run a monastery efficiently). More than half the chapters describe how to be obedient and humble, and what to do when a member of the community is not. About one-fourth regulate the work of God (the Opus Dei). One-tenth outline how, and by whom, the monastery should be managed.

Following the golden rule of Ora et Labora – pray and work, the monks each day devoted eight hours to prayer, eight hours to sleep, and eight hours to manual work, sacred reading, or works of charity.

Early life

He was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia, the modern Norcia, in Umbria. A tradition which Bede accepts makes him a twin with his sister Scholastica. If 480 is accepted as the year of his birth, the year of his abandonment of his studies and leaving home would be about 500. Saint Gregory’s narrative makes it impossible to suppose him younger than 20 at the time. He was old enough to be in the midst of his literary studies, to understand the real meaning and worth of the dissolute and licentious lives of his companions, and to have been deeply affected by the love of a woman. He was at the beginning of life, and he had at his disposal the means to a career as a Roman noble; clearly he was not a child.

Benedict was sent to Rome to study, but was dissatisfied by the life he found there. He does not seem to have left Rome for the purpose of becoming a hermit, but only to find some place away from the life of the great city. He took his old nurse with him as a servant and they settled down to live in Enfide. Enfide, which the tradition of Subiaco identifies with the modern Affile, is in the Simbruini mountains, about forty miles from Rome and two from Subiaco.

A short distance from Enfide is the entrance to a narrow, gloomy valley, penetrating the mountains and leading directly to Subiaco. The path continues to ascend, and the side of the ravine, on which it runs, becomes steeper, until a cave is reached above which the mountain now rises almost perpendicularly; while on the right, it strikes in a rapid descent down to where, in Saint Benedict’s day, 500 feet (150 m) below, lay the blue waters of the lake. The cave has a large triangular-shaped opening and is about ten feet deep. On his way from Enfide, Benedict met a monk, Romanus of Subiaco, whose monastery was on the mountain above the cliff overhanging the cave. Romanus had discussed with Benedict the purpose which had brought him to Subiaco, and had given him the monk’s habit. By his advice Benedict became a hermit and for three years, unknown to men, lived in this cave above the lake.

Later life

Gregory tells us little of these years. He now speaks of Benedict no longer as a youth , but as a man  of God. Romanus, Gregory tells us, served the saint in every way he could. The monk apparently visited him frequently, and on fixed days brought him food.

During these three years of solitude, broken only by occasional communications with the outer world and by the visits of Romanus, Benedict matured both in mind and character, in knowledge of himself and of his fellow-man, and at the same time he became not merely known to, but secured the respect of, those about him; so much so that on the death of the abbot of a monastery in the neighbourhood (identified by some with Vicovaro), the community came to him and begged him to become its abbot. Benedict was acquainted with the life and discipline of the monastery, and knew that “their manners were diverse from his and therefore that they would never agree together: yet, at length, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent” (ibid., 3). The experiment failed; the monks tried to poison him. The legend goes that they first tried to poison his drink. He prayed a blessing over the cup and the cup shattered. Thus he left the group and went back to his cave at Subiaco. There lived in the neighborhood a priest called Florentius who, moved by envy, tried to ruin him. He tried to poison him with poisoned bread. When he prayed a blessing over the bread, a raven swept in and took the loaf away. From this time his miracles seem to have become frequent, and many people, attracted by his sanctity and character, came to Subiaco to be under his guidance. Having failed by sending him poisonous bread, Florentius tried to seduce his monks with some prostitutes. To avoid further temptations, in 530 Benedict left Subiaco. He founded 12 monasteries in the vicinity of Subiaco, and, eventually, in 530 he founded the great Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, which lies on a hilltop between Rome and Naples.

During the invasion of Italy, Totila, King of the Goths, ordered a general to wear his kingly robes and to see whether Benedict would discover the truth. Immediately the Saint detected the impersonation, and Totila came to pay him due respect.

Source: Wikipedia

Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 4:26-34

The kingdom of God is a mustard seed growing into the biggest shrub of all

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 91

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague,

Will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield.

You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.

Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.

You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see.

You have the LORD for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.

No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.

For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.

With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.

Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high.

All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor.

With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power.

Source: The New American Bible

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

+John 4:43-54

Go home: your son will live

Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. He himself had declared that there is no respect for a prophet in his own country, but on his arrival the Galileans received him well, having seen all that he had done at Jerusalem during the festival which they too had attended.

He went again to Cana in Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a court official there whose son was ill at Capernaum and, hearing that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judaea, he went and asked him to come and cure his son as he was at the point of death. Jesus said, ‘So you will not believe unless you see signs and portents!’ ‘Sir,’ answered the official ‘come down before my child dies.’ ‘Go home,’ said Jesus ‘your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way; and while he was still on the journey back his servants met him with the news that his boy was alive. He asked them when the boy had begun to recover. ‘The fever left him yesterday’ they said ‘at the seventh hour.’ The father realised that this was exactly the time when Jesus had said, ‘Your son will live’; and he and all his household believed.

This was the second sign given by Jesus, on his return from Judaea to Galilee.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 29

A psalm of David. Give to the LORD, you heavenly beings, give to the LORD glory and might;

Give to the LORD the glory due God’s name. Bow down before the LORD’S holy splendor!

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over the mighty waters.

The voice of the LORD is power; the voice of the LORD is splendor.

The voice of the LORD cracks the cedars; the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon,

Makes Lebanon leap like a calf, and Sirion like a young bull.

The voice of the LORD strikes with fiery flame;

the voice of the LORD rocks the desert; the LORD rocks the desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. All in his palace say, “Glory!”

The LORD sits enthroned above the flood! The LORD reigns as king forever!

May the LORD give might to his people; may the LORD bless his people with peace!

Source: The New American Bible


 

Timothy and Titus, Bb

+Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 95

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.

Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.

For the LORD is the great God, the great king over all gods,

Whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the tops of the mountains.

The sea and dry land belong to God, who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.

There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.

Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways.”

Therefore I swore in my anger: “They shall never enter my rest.”

Source: The New American Bible


Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning “honouring God”  or “honoured by God” ) was an early Christian evangelist and the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus, who tradition relates died around the year AD 97.

Timothy was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, born of a Jewish mother who had become a Christian believer, and a Greek father. The Apostle Paul met him during his second missionary journey and he became Paul’s companion and co-worker along with Silas. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. Paul entrusted him with important assignments. He is addressed as the recipient of the First and Second Epistles to Timothy.

Life

Timothy was a native of Lystra in Lycaonia (Anatolia). When Paul and Barnabas first visited Lystra, Paul healed one crippled from birth, leading many of the inhabitants to accept his teaching. When he returned a few years later with Silas, Timothy was already a respected member of the Christian congregation, as were his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, both Jews. In 2 Timothy 1:5, his mother and grandmother are noted as eminent for their piety and faith. Timothy is said to have been acquainted with the Scriptures since childhood. In 1 Corinthians 16:10 there is a suggestion that he was by nature reserved and timid: “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord”.

Timothy’s father was Greek, that is, not a Jew. Thus Timothy had not been circumcised and Paul now ensured that this was done, according to the text Acts 16:1–3, to ensure Timothy’s acceptability to the Jews whom they would be evangelizing. According to McGarvey: “Yet we see him in the case before us, circumcising Timothy with his own hand, and this ‘on account of certain Jews who were in those quarters'”. However, Acts 16:4 makes clear that this action did not compromise the decision made at the Council of Jerusalem, that gentile believers were not required to be circumcised.

Timothy became St Paul’s disciple, and later his constant companion and co-worker in preaching.In the year 52, Paul and Silas took Timothy along with them on their journey to Macedonia. Augustine extols his zeal and disinterestedness in immediately forsaking his country, his house, and his parents, to follow the apostle, to share in his poverty and sufferings. Timothy may have been subject to ill health or “frequent ailments”, and Paul encouraged him to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake” (1 Timothy 5:23).

When Paul went on to Athens, Silas and Timothy stayed for some time at Beroea and Thessalonica before joining Paul at Corinth. Timothy next appears in Acts during Paul’s stay in Ephesus (54–57), and in late 56 or early 57 Paul sent him forth to Macedonia with the aim that he would eventually arrive at Corinth. Timothy arrived at Corinth just after 1 Corinthians reached that city. The letter was not well received, and Timothy quickly returned to Ephesus to report this to Paul.

Timothy was with Paul in Corinth during the winter of 57–58 when Paul dispatched his Letter to the Romans (Romans 16:21). According to Acts 20:3–6, Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia just before Passover in 58; he left the city before Paul, going ahead of him to await Paul in Troas (Acts 20:4–5). “That is the last mention of Timothy in Acts”, Raymond Brown notes. In the year 64, Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, to govern that church.

His relationship with Paul was close and Paul entrusted him with missions of great importance. Timothy’s name appears as the co-author on 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Paul wrote to the Philippians about Timothy, “I have no one like him” (Philippians 2:19–23). When Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend Timothy for a last farewell.

That Timothy was jailed at least once during the period of the writing of the New Testament is implied by the writer of Hebrews mentioning Timothy’s release at the end of the epistle.

The apocryphal Acts of Timothy states that in the year 97, the 80-year-old bishop tried to halt a procession in honor of the goddess Diana by preaching the gospel. The angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death.

Veneration

Timothy is venerated as an apostle, saint, and martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his feast day on 22 January. The General Roman Calendar venerates Timothy together with Titus by a memorial on 26 January, the day after the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. From the 13th century until 1969 the feast of Timothy (alone) was on 24 January, the day before that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Along with Titus and Silas, Timothy is commemorated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church on 26 January. Timothy’s feast is kept by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod on 24 January.

In the 4th century, the relics of Timothy were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles near the tombs of St Andrew and St Luke.

Patronage

Timothy is the patron invoked against stomach and intestinal disorders.

Titus (/ˈtaɪtəs/; Greek: Τίτος) was an early Christian missionary and church leader, a companion and disciple of Paul the Apostle, mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles including the Epistle to Titus. He is believed to be a Gentile converted to Christianity by Paul and, according to tradition, he was consecrated as Bishop of the Island of Crete.

Titus brought a fundraising letter from Paul to Corinth, to collect for the poor in Jerusalem. Later, on Crete, Titus appointed presbyters (elders) in every city and remained there into his old age, dying in Gortyna, near the city of Candia (modern Heraklion).

Life

Titus was a Greek, apparently from Antioch, who is said to have studied Greek philosophy and poetry in his early years. He seems to have been converted by Paul, whereupon he served as Paul’s secretary and interpreter. In the year 49, Titus accompanied Paul to the council held at Jerusalem, on the subject of the Mosaic rites. Although Paul had consented to the circumcision of Timothy, in order to render his ministry acceptable among the Jews, he would not allow the same in regard to Titus, so as not to seem in agreement with those who would require it for Gentile converts.

Towards the close of the year 56, Paul, as he himself departed from Asia, sent Titus from Ephesus to Corinth, with full commission to remedy the fallout precipitated by Timothy’s delivery of 1 Corinthians and Paul’s “Painful Visit”, particularly a significant personal offense and challenge to Paul’s authority by one unnamed individual. During this journey, Titus served as the courier for what is commonly known as the “Severe Letter”, a Pauline missive that has been lost but is referred to in 2 Corinthians.

After success on this mission, Titus journeyed north and met Paul in Macedonia. There the apostle, overjoyed by Titus’ success, wrote 2 Corinthians. Titus then returned to Corinth with a larger entourage, carrying 2 Corinthians with him. Paul joined Titus in Corinth later. From Corinth, Paul then sent Titus to organize the collections of alms for the Christians at Jerusalem. Titus was therefore a troubleshooter, peacemaker, administrator, and missionary.

Early church tradition holds that Paul, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, stopped at the island of Crete to preach. Due to the needs of other churches, requiring his presence elsewhere, he ordained his disciple Titus as bishop of that island, and left him to finish the work he had started. Chrysostom says that this is an indication of the esteem St. Paul held for Titus.

Paul summoned Titus from Crete to join him at Nicopolis in Epirus. Later, Titus traveled to Dalmatia. The New Testament does not record his death.

It has been argued that the name “Titus” in 2 Corinthians and Galatians is nothing more than an informal name used by Timothy, implied already by the fact that even though both are said to be long-term close companions of Paul, they never appear in common scenes.[13] The theory proposes that a number of passages—1 Cor. 4:17, 16.10; 2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13–14, 12:18; and Acts 19.22—all refer to the same journey of a single individual, Titus-Timothy. 2 Timothy seems to dispute this, by claiming that Titus has gone to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). The fact that Paul made a point of circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3) but refused to circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3) would indicate that they are different men, although certain manuscripts of Galatians (Galatians 2:4) have been taken (by Marius Victorinus, for example) to indicate that Paul did circumcise Titus.

Veneration

The feast day of Titus was not included in the Tridentine Calendar. When added in 1854, it was assigned to 6 February. In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church assigned the feast to 26 January so as to celebrate the two disciples of Paul, Titus and Timothy, the day after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America celebrates these two, together with Silas, on the same date. The Orthodox Church commemorates him on 25 August and on 4 January.

His relics, now consisting of only his skull, are venerated in the Church of St. Titus, Heraklion, Crete, to which it was returned in 1966 after being removed to Venice during the Turkish occupation.

St. Titus is the patron saint of the United States Army Chaplain Corps. The Corps has established the Order of Titus Award, described by the Department of Defense:

Order of Titus award is the only award presented by the Chief of Chaplains to recognize outstanding performance of ministry by chaplains and chaplain assistants. The Order of Titus is awarded for meritorious contributions to the unique and highly visible Unit Ministry Team Observer Controller Program. The award recognizes the great importance of realistic, doctrinally guided combat ministry training in ensuring the delivery of prevailing religious support to the American Soldier.

Source: Wikipedia

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 22

For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?

My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them.

To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me:

“You relied on the LORD – let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you.”

Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother’s breast.

Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God.

Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar.

Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.

As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death.

Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet

that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat;

they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me.

Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog.

Save me from the lion’s mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you:

“You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!

For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.

I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.

The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!”

All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you.

For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations.

All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage.

And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you.

The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.

Source: The New American Bible


Francis of Assisi, Rel

+Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 136

Praise the LORD, who is so good; God’s love endures forever;

Praise the God of gods; God’s love endures forever;

Praise the Lord of lords; God’s love endures forever;

Who alone has done great wonders, God’s love endures forever;

Who skillfully made the heavens, God’s love endures forever;

Who spread the earth upon the waters, God’s love endures forever;

Who made the great lights, God’s love endures forever;

The sun to rule the day, God’s love endures forever;

The moon and stars to rule the night, God’s love endures forever;

Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, God’s love endures forever;

And led Israel from their midst, God’s love endures forever;

With mighty hand and outstretched arm, God’s love endures forever;

Who split in two the Red Sea, God’s love endures forever;

And led Israel through, God’s love endures forever;

But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, God’s love endures forever;

Who led the people through the desert, God’s love endures forever;

Who struck down great kings, God’s love endures forever;

Slew powerful kings, God’s love endures forever;

Sihon, king of the Amorites, God’s love endures forever;

Og, king of Bashan, God’s love endures forever;

And made their lands a heritage, God’s love endures forever;

A heritage for Israel, God’s servant, God’s love endures forever.

The LORD remembered us in our misery, God’s love endures forever;

Freed us from our foes, God’s love endures forever;

And gives food to all flesh, God’s love endures forever.

Praise the God of heaven, God’s love endures forever.

Source: The New American Bible


Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d’Assisi), born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Roman Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.

In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy  making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141).

Early life

Francis of Assisi was one of seven children born in late 1181 or early 1182 to Pietro di Bernardone, a prosperous silk merchant, and his wife Pica de Bourlemont, about whom little is known except that she was a noblewoman originally from Provence. Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco (“the Frenchman”), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French. Since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought.

While going off to war in 1202, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. In 1205, Francis left for Apulia to enlist in the army of Walter III, Count of Brienne.

Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. In 1201, he joined a military expedition against Perugia and was taken as a prisoner at Collestrada, spending a year as a captive. It is possible that his spiritual conversion was a gradual process rooted in this experience. Upon his return to Assisi in 1203, Francis returned to his carefree life. In 1204, a serious illness led him to a spiritual crisis.

A strange vision made him return to Assisi, deepening his ecclesiastical awakening. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica, an experience that moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon gathered followers. His Order was authorized by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which became an enclosed religious order for women, as well as the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance (commonly called the Third Order). As a youth, Francesco became a devotee of troubadours and was fascinated with all things Transalpine. Although many hagiographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, and love of pleasures, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came fairly early in his life, as is shown in the “story of the beggar”. In this account, he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends quickly chided and mocked him for his act of charity. When he got home, his father scolded him in rage.

According to the hagiographic legend, thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions. In response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered, “Yes, a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen”, meaning his “Lady Poverty”. He spent much time in lonely places, asking God for spiritual enlightenment. By degrees he took to nursing lepers, the most repulsive victims in the lazar houses near Assisi. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he joined the poor in begging at the doors of the churches, he said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the country chapel of San Damiano, just outside Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” He took this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, and so he sold some cloth from his father’s store to assist the priest there for this purpose.

His father, Pietro, who was highly indignant, attempted to change his mind, first with threats and then with beatings. In the midst of legal proceedings before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony, laying aside even the garments he had received from him in front of the public. For the next couple of months he lived as a beggar in the region of Assisi. Returning to the countryside around the town for two years, he embraced the life of a penitent, during which he restored several ruined chapels in the countryside around Assisi, among them the Porziuncola, the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels just outside the town, which later became his favorite abode.

Founding of the Franciscan Orders

The Friars minor

At the end of this period (on February 24, 1209, according to Jordan of Giano), Francis heard a sermon that changed his life forever. The sermon was about Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty.

Clad in a rough garment, barefoot, and, after the Gospel precept, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance. He was soon joined by his first follower, a prominent fellow townsman, the jurist Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work. Within a year Francis had eleven followers. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, and the community lived as “lesser brothers”, fratres minores in Latin. The brothers lived a simple life in the deserted lazar house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time wandering through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and full of songs, yet making a deep impression upon their hearers by their earnest exhortations.

Francis’ preaching to ordinary people was unusual since he had no license to do so. In 1209 he composed a simple rule for his followers (“friars”), the Regula primitiva or “Primitive Rule”, which came from verses in the Bible.

The rule was “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps”. In 1209, Francis led his first eleven followers to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious Order. Upon entry to Rome, the brothers encountered Bishop Guido of Assisi, who had in his company Giovanni di San Paolo, the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina. The Cardinal, who was the confessor of Pope Innocent III, was immediately sympathetic to Francis and agreed to represent Francis to the pope. Reluctantly, Pope Innocent agreed to meet with Francis and the brothers the next day. After several days, the pope agreed to admit the group informally, adding that when God increased the group in grace and number, they could return for an official admittance. The group was tonsured. This was important in part because it recognized Church authority and prevented his following from possible accusations of heresy, as had happened to the Waldensians decades earlier. Though Pope Innocent initially had his doubts, following a dream in which he saw Francis holding up the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the cathedral of Rome, thus the ‘home church’ of all Christendom), he decided to endorse Francis’ Order. This occurred, according to tradition, on April 16, 1210, and constituted the official founding of the Franciscan Order. The group, then the “Lesser Brothers” (Order of Friars Minor also known as the Franciscan Order or the Seraphic Order), preached on the streets and had no possessions. They were centered in the Porziuncola and preached first in Umbria, before expanding throughout Italy.

The Poor Clares and the Third Order

From then on, the new Order grew quickly with new vocations. Hearing Francis preaching in the church of San Rufino in Assisi in 1211, the young noblewoman Clare of Assisi became deeply touched by his message and realized her calling. Her cousin Rufino, the only male member of the family in their generation, was also attracted to the new Order (which he joined). On the night of Palm Sunday, March 28, 1212, Clare clandestinely left her family’s palace. Francis received her at the Porziuncola and thereby established the Order of Poor Ladies, later called Poor Clares. This was an Order for women, and he gave Clare a religious habit, or garment, similar to his own, before lodging her and a few female companions in a nearby monastery of Benedictine nuns. Later he transferred them to San Damiano. There they were joined by many other women of Assisi. For those who could not leave their homes, he later formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, a fraternity composed of either laity or clergy whose members neither withdrew from the world nor took religious vows. Instead, they observed the principles of Franciscan life in their daily lives. Before long, this Third Order grew beyond Italy.

Travels

Determined to bring the Gospel to all God’s creatures, Francis sought on several occasions to take his message out of Italy. In the late spring of 1212, he set out for Jerusalem, but he was shipwrecked by a storm on the Dalmatian coast, forcing him to return to Italy. On May 8, 1213, he was given the use of the mountain of La Verna (Alverna) as a gift from Count Orlando di Chiusi, who described it as “eminently suitable for whoever wishes to do penance in a place remote from mankind”. The mountain would become one of his favourite retreats for prayer.

In the same year, Francis sailed for Morocco, but this time an illness forced him to break off his journey in Spain. Back in Assisi, several noblemen (among them Tommaso da Celano, who would later write the biography of St. Francis) and some well-educated men joined his Order. In 1215, Francis went again to Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council. During this time, he probably met a canon, Dominic de Guzman (later to be Saint Dominic, the founder of the Friars Preachers, another Catholic religious order). In 1217, he offered to go to France. Cardinal Ugolino of Segni (the future Pope Gregory IX), an early and important supporter of Francis, advised him against this and said that he was still needed in Italy.

In 1219, accompanied by another friar and hoping to convert the Sultan of Egypt or win martyrdom in the attempt, Francis went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade where a Crusader army had been encamped for over a year besieging the walled city of Damietta two miles (3.2 kilometres) upstream from the mouth of one of the main channels of the Nile. The Sultan, al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin, had succeeded his father as Sultan of Egypt in 1218 and was encamped upstream of Damietta, unable to relieve it. A bloody and futile attack on the city was launched by the Christians on August 29, 1219, following which both sides agreed to a ceasefire which lasted four weeks. It was most probably during this interlude that Francis and his companion crossed the Muslims lines and were brought before the Sultan, remaining in his camp for a few days. The visit is reported in contemporary Crusader sources and in the earliest biographies of Francis, but they give no information about what transpired during the encounter beyond noting that the Sultan received Francis graciously and that Francis preached to the Muslims without effect, returning unharmed to the Crusader camp. No contemporary Arab source mentions the visit. One detail, added by Bonaventure in the official life of Francis (written forty years after the event), has Francis offering to challenge the Sultan’s “priests” to trial-by-fire in order to prove the veracity of the Christian Gospel.

Such an incident is alluded to in a scene in the late 13th-century fresco cycle, attributed to Giotto, in the upper basilica at Assisi. It has been suggested that the winged figures atop the columns piercing the roof of the building on the left of the scene are not idols but are part of the secular iconography of the sultan, affirming his worldly power which, as the scene demonstrates, is limited even as regards his own “priests” who shun the challenge. Although Bonaventure asserts that the sultan refused to permit the challenge, subsequent biographies went further, claiming that a fire was actually kindled which Francis unhesitatingly entered without suffering burns. The scene in the fresco adopts a position midway between the two extremes.

According to some late sources, the Sultan gave Francis permission to visit the sacred places in the Holy Land and even to preach there. All that can safely be asserted is that Francis and his companion left the Crusader camp for Acre, from where they embarked for Italy in the latter half of 1220. Drawing on a 1267 sermon by Bonaventure, later sources report that the Sultan secretly converted or accepted a death-bed baptism as a result of the encounter with Francis. The Franciscan Order has been present in the Holy Land almost uninterruptedly since 1217 when Brother Elias arrived at Acre. It received concessions from the Mameluke Sultan in 1333 with regard to certain Holy Places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and (so far as concerns the Catholic Church) jurisdictional privileges from Pope Clement VI in 1342.

Reorganization of the Franciscan Order and death

By this time, the growing Order of friars was divided into provinces and groups were sent to France, Germany, Hungary, and Spain and to the East. Upon receiving a report of the martyrdom of five brothers in Morocco, Francis returned to Italy via Venice. Cardinal Ugolino di Conti was then nominated by the Pope as the protector of the Order. Another reason for Francis’ return to Italy was that the friars in Italy were causing problems. The Franciscan Order had grown at an unprecedented rate compared to prior religious orders, but its organizational sophistication had not kept up with this growth and had little more to govern it than Francis’ example and simple rule. To address this problem, Francis prepared a new and more detailed Rule, the “First Rule” or “Rule Without a Papal Bull” (Regula prima, Regula non bullata), which again asserted devotion to poverty and the apostolic life. However, it also introduced greater institutional structure though this was never officially endorsed by the pope.

On September 29, 1220, Francis handed over the governance of the Order to Brother Peter Catani at the Porziuncola, but Brother Peter died only five months later, on March 10, 1221, and was buried there. When numerous miracles were attributed to the deceased brother, people started to flock to the Porziuncola, disturbing the daily life of the Franciscans. Francis then prayed, asking Peter to stop the miracles and to obey in death as he had obeyed during his life.

The reports of miracles ceased. Brother Peter was succeeded by Brother Elias as Vicar of Francis. Two years later, Francis modified the “First Rule”, creating the “Second Rule” or “Rule With a Bull”, which was approved by Pope Honorius III on November 29, 1223. As the official Rule of the Order, it called on the friars “to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience without anything of our own and in chastity”. In addition, it set regulations for discipline, preaching, and entry into the Order. Once the Rule was endorsed by the Pope, Francis withdrew increasingly from external affairs. During 1221 and 1222, Francis crossed Italy, first as far south as Catania in Sicily and afterwards as far north as Bologna.

While he was praying on the mountain of Verna, during a forty-day fast in preparation for Michaelmas (September 29), Francis is said to have had a vision on or about September 14, 1224, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, as a result of which he received the stigmata. Brother Leo, who had been with Francis at the time, left a clear and simple account of the event, the first definite account of the phenomenon of stigmata. “Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ.” Suffering from these stigmata and from trachoma, Francis received care in several cities (Siena, Cortona, Nocera) to no avail. In the end, he was brought back to a hut next to the Porziuncola. Here, in the place where it all began, feeling the end approaching, he spent the last days of his life dictating his spiritual Testament. He died on the evening of Saturday, October 3, 1226, singing Psalm 142 (141), “Voce mea ad Dominum”. On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX (the former cardinal Ugolino di Conti, friend of Saint Francis and Cardinal Protector of the Order). The next day, the Pope laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. Francis was buried on May 25, 1230, under the Lower Basilica, but his tomb was soon hidden on orders of Brother Elias to protect it from Saracen invaders. His exact burial place remained unknown until it was re-discovered in 1818. Pasquale Belli then constructed for the remains a crypt in neo-classical style in the Lower Basilica. It was refashioned between 1927 and 1930 into its present form by Ugo Tarchi, stripping the wall of its marble decorations. In 1978, the remains of Saint Francis were examined and confirmed by a commission of scholars appointed by Pope Paul VI, and put into a glass urn in the ancient stone tomb.

Character and legacy

It has been argued that no one else in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work of Christ, in Christ’s own way—Francis is sometimes even remembered as alter Christus, “another Christ.” This is important in understanding Francis’ character and his affinity for the Eucharist and respect for the priests who carried out the sacrament.

He and his followers celebrated and even venerated poverty. Poverty was so central to his character that in his last written work, the Testament, he said that absolute personal and corporate poverty was the essential lifestyle for the members of his Order.

He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters”, and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf. In his Canticle of the Creatures (“Praises of Creatures” or “Canticle of the Sun”), he mentioned the “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, the wind and water, and “Sister Death”. He referred to his chronic illnesses as his “sisters”. His deep sense of brotherhood under God embraced others, and he declared that “he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died”.

Francis’ visit to Egypt and attempted rapprochement with the Muslim world had far-reaching consequences, long past his own death, since after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom, it would be the Franciscans, of all Catholics, who would be allowed to stay on in the Holy Land and be recognized as “Custodians of the Holy Land” on behalf of the Catholic Church.

At Greccio near Assisi, around 1220, Francis celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known presepio or crèche (Nativity scene). His nativity imagery reflected the scene in traditional paintings. He used real animals to create a living scene so that the worshipers could contemplate the birth of the child Jesus in a direct way, making use of the senses, especially sight. Thomas of Celano, a biographer of both Francis and Saint Bonaventure, tells how he used only a straw-filled manger (feeding trough) set between a real ox and donkey. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity, with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.

Source: Wikipedia


Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.


Psalm 24(25):4-9

A psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S and all it holds, the world and those who live there.

For God founded it on the seas, established it over the rivers.

Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place?

“The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely.

They will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from their saving God.

Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD of hosts is the king of glory. Selah

Source: The New American Bible


Eusebius of Vercelli, B; Peter Julian Eymard, P

+Matthew 13:44-46

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.

St Eusebius of Vercelli

Eusebius of Vercelli (c. March 2, 283 – August 1, 371) was a bishop and saint in Italy. Along with Athanasius, he affirmed the divinity of Jesus against Arianism.

Biography

Eusebius was born in Sardinia, in 283. After his father’s martyrdom, he was taken to Rome by his mother. Having received the Ministry of Lectorate, he was a lector in Rome before he became the first bishop in Vercelli (in northern Italy), probably sometime in the early- to mid-340s. He was the first bishop to live in common with the clergy, devoting his best energies to form them in piety and zeal. According to a letter of Ambrose to the congregation in Vercelli two decades after Eusebius’ death, the local leaders recognized his piety and thus elected him rather than local candidates (Epistola lxiii, Ad Vercellenses). At some point he led his clergy to form a monastic community modelled on that of the Eastern cenobites (Ambrose, Ep. lxxxi and Serm. lxxxix). For this reason the Canons Regular of St. Augustine honor him along with Augustine as their founder (Proprium Canon. Reg., 16 December).

In 354, Pope Liberius asked Eusebius to join Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari in carrying a request to the Emperor Constantius II at Milan, pleading for the emperor to convoke a council to end the dissentions over the status of Athanasius of Alexandria and the matter of Arianism. The synod was held in Milan in 355. Eusebius attended part of the council, but refused to condemn Athanasius and so was exiled, first to Scythopolis in Syria, under the watchful eye of the Arian bishop Patrophilus, whom Eusebius calls his jailer, then to Cappadocia, and lastly to the Thebaid, in Upper Egypt. Several letters surrounding the council written to or by Eusebius still survive, as do two letters written by him during his exile.

During the reign of Emperor Constantius II, Eusebius was dragged through the streets half naked and persecuted in many ways, but never gave up the Catholic faith.

After the death of Constantius and on the accession of Julian, the exiled bishops were free to return to their sees, in 362. Eusebius passed through Alexandria and there attended Athanasius’ synod of 362 which confirmed the divinity of the Holy Ghost and the orthodox doctrine concerning the Incarnation. The synod also agreed both to deal mildly with the repentant bishops who had signed Arianizing creeds under pressure and to impose severe penalties upon the leaders of several of the Arianizing factions.

While still on his way home, Eusebius took the synod’s decisions to Antioch and hoped to reconcile the schism there. The church was divided between adherents of Eustathius of Antioch, who had been deposed and exiled by the Arians in 331, and those of the Meletians. Since Meletius’ election in 361 was brought about chiefly by the Arians, the Eustathians would not recognize him, although he solemnly proclaimed his orthodox faith after his episcopal consecration. The Alexandrian synod had desired that Eusebius should reconcile the Eustathians with Bishop Meletius, by purging his election of whatever might have been irregular in it, but Eusebius found that Lucifer of Cagliari had also passed that way, and had unilaterally consecrated Paulinus, the leader of the Eustathians, as Bishop of Antioch.

Unable to reconcile the factions, he continued towards home, visiting other churches along the way in the interest of promulgating and enforcing the orthodox faith. Once back in Vercelli in 363, he continued to be a leader with Hilary of Poitiers in defeating Arianism in the Western Church, and was one of the chief opponents of the Arian bishop Auxentius of Milan. He died in 370 or 371. Later legends of his martyrdom have no historical basis. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his feast on August 2. His former feast day of December 16 roughly coincided with his elevation as bishop. His current feast day roughly coincides with the anniversary of his death. Vercelli Cathedral is dedicated to him.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saint Peter Julian Eymard, SSS (ɛy’mɒ), (La Mure, Grenoble, France, 4 February 1811 – La Mure, 1 August 1868) was a French Catholic priest, founder of two religious institutes, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Life

Eymard was born 4 February 1811 at La Mure, Isère in the French Alps. His father was a smith whose second wife was Julian’s mother. All his life Peter Julian (or Pierre-Julien in French) had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. Before his first communion on 16 March 1823, he went on foot to the shrine of Notre-Dame du Laus. Later, he came to know about the apparition of Notre-Dame de La Salette and enjoyed traveling to various Marian shrines throughout France.

When his mother died in 1828 Julian resolved to enter the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and, despite his father’s opposition, did so in June 1822. His first attempt as a seminarian ended because of serious illness.Throughout his life, Eymard suffered from poor health, particularly ‘weakness of the lungs’ and migraine.

After his father’s death in 1831, he succeeded with the help of his former superior in gaining admission to the major seminary of the Grenoble diocese. On 20 July 1834, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble. He was assigned assistant pastor at the town of Chatte, and three years later, appointed pastor of Mount Saint-Eynard.

On his second assignment at Monteynard, the parish, which had a dilapidated church and poor rectory, consisted of a farming community with few people attending Mass. There had not been a regular pastor there for some time. The bishop urged Father Eymard’s two sisters to move with him to the rectory, which they did. In fact, they furnished the rectory, for the parish was very poor. Although Eymard is known to have revitalized the place, he was dissatisfied with parish work, and decided to join the Marists (the Society of Mary). His two sisters were quite devastated as they had dedicated their lives to serving him.

On August 20, 1837 he entered the Society of Mary seminary at Lyon, and made his profession in February 1840. He worked with lay organizations promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Eucharist, particularly in the Forty Hours. He rose to the position of Provincial of the Society at Lyon in 1844. His new responsibilities included charge of the Third Order of Mary, a lay group dedicated to Marist spirituality and to promotion of the Christian family. St. John Vianney was a member.

His eucharistic spirituality did not spring full-grown from some mystical experience, but progressively. As visitor-general, Eymard travelled throughout France to inspect the various Marist communities. He became familiar with the practice of sustained eucharistic worship during a visit to Paris in 1849, when he met with members of the Association of Nocturnal Adorers who had established exposition and perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories. After praying at the shrine of Our Lady of Fourviere on 21 January 1851, Eymard moved to establish a Marist community dedicated to eucharistic adoration. However, his desire to establish a separate fraternity promoting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was not seen as part of the charism of the Marists. His superiors disapproved, transferring him to the Marist College at La Seyne-sur-Mer. Eventually, Eymard resolved to leave the Society of Mary to begin his new religious congregation with the diocesan priest Raymond de Cuers.

Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament

On 13 May 1856, the Paris bishops consented to Eymard’s plans for a ‘Society of the Blessed Sacrament’. After many trials, Eymard and de Cuers established public exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in Paris on 6 January 1857 in a run-down building at 114 rue d’Enfer (which literally meant ‘street of hell’).

The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament began working with children in Paris to prepare them to receive their First Communion. It also reached out to non-practicing Catholics, inviting them to repent and begin receiving Communion again. Father Eymard established a common rule for the members of the society and worked toward papal approval. A second community was established in Marseille in 1859, and a third in Angers in 1862. Pius IX granted a Decree of Approbation in June 1863. Eymard was a tireless proponent of frequent Holy Communion, an idea given more authoritative backing by Pope Pius X in 1905.

On 10 January 1969 Blessed Pope Paul VI issued a Letter to the Superior General, Father Roland Huot, S.S.S., of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, lauding the most excellent function of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Outside Mass declaring all those who do so make their Eucharistic Adoration “in the name of the Church”. This concession is included in the revised Roman Ritual, Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, No. 90 in the editio typica.

By DECREE of the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, dated 9 December 1995, SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, PRIEST, was inserted in the General Roman Calendar with the rank of optional memoria.

Font and fullness of all evangelization and striking expression of the infinite love of our divine Redeemer for mankind, the Holy Eucharist clearly marked the life and pastoral activity of Peter Julian Eymard. He truly deserves to be called an outstanding apostle of the Eucharist. In fact, his mission in the Church consisted in promoting the centrality of the Eucharistic Mystery in the whole life of the Christian community.

The French sculptor Auguste Rodin received counsel from Eymard when Rodin entered the Congregation as a lay brother in 1862, having given up art after the death of his sister. Eymard recognized Rodin’s talent and advised him to return to his vocation. Rodin later produced a bust of Eymard.

Servants of the Blessed Sacrament

In 1858, together with Marguerite Guillot, he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative congregation for women. He is quoted as saying, “You take communion to become holy, not because you already are.”

Eymard was a friend and contemporary of saints Peter Chanel, Marcellin Champagnat, and Blessed Basil Moreau. He died at the age of fifty-seven in La Mure on 1 August 1868, of complications from a stroke.

Source: Wikipedia