The Word of God

September 30, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Jerome, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 457

Reading 1 – JB 9:1-12, 14-16

Job answered his friends and said:

I know well that it is so;
but how can a man be justified before God?
Should one wish to contend with him,
he could not answer him once in a thousand times.
God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
who has withstood him and remained unscathed?

He removes the mountains before they know it;
he overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth out of its place,
and the pillars beneath it tremble.
He commands the sun, and it rises not;
he seals up the stars.

He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads upon the crests of the sea.
He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south;
He does great things past finding out,
marvelous things beyond reckoning.

Should he come near me, I see him not;
should he pass by, I am not aware of him;
Should he seize me forcibly, who can say him nay?
Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

How much less shall I give him any answer,
or choose out arguments against him!
Even though I were right, I could not answer him,
but should rather beg for what was due me.
If I appealed to him and he answered my call,
I could not believe that he would hearken to my words.

Responsorial Psalm – 88:10BC-11, 12-13, 14-15

R.    (3) Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
Daily I call upon you, O LORD;
to you I stretch out my hands.
Will you work wonders for the dead?
Will the shades arise to give you thanks?
R.    Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
Do they declare your mercy in the grave,
your faithfulness among those who have perished?
Are your wonders made known in the darkness,
or your justice in the land of oblivion?
R.    Let my prayer come before you, Lord.
But I, O LORD, cry out to you;
with my morning prayer I wait upon you.
Why, O LORD, do you reject me;
why hide from me your face?
R.    Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Alleluia – PHIL 3:8-9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
 “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

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Letting Go Of Suffering


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 30, 2020

“Job answered his friends and said: ‘I know well that it is so; but how can a man be justified before God?'” There once was this criminal who had been accused of a crime and was presented before the king to hear his sentencing. The king told him he had a choice of two punishments. He could be hung by a rope or take what’s behind the big, dark, scary, iron door. The criminal quickly decided on the rope. As the noose was being slipped on him, he turned to the king and asked. “By the way, out of curiosity, what’s behind that door?” The king laughed and said: “You know, it’s funny, I offer everyone the same choice, and nearly everyone picks the rope.” “So,” said the criminal, “Tell me. What’s behind the door? I mean, obviously, I won’t tell anyone,” he said, pointing to the noose around his neck. The king paused then answered, “Freedom, but it seems most people are so afraid of the unknown that they immediately take the rope.”

“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” As we conclude yet another September of our lives, our thoughts and attention will draw ever more close to the gifts awaiting us in the remaining weeks of the Liturgical Year including, All Saints and All Souls Days, Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas. Today, let us examine the place and power of fear in our lives and adopt the childlike trust and faith in our loving God.

I read once that people really do not fear the unknown, rather, they fear what they think they know about the unknown. That always made sense to me: fear is truly useless. It has stalled great decisions and prevented great people to rise above the wickedness and pettiness around them. Do you remember how much damage was inflicted when people allowed fear to decide their future? Religious leaders plotted and conspired to murder; healed people turned on their Healer; strong Apostles (for the most part) fled, denied, and betrayed their Master. However now, the scenes have changed: the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus has allowed once fearful people to change their thinking and readjust their life paths. The words of the Alleluia Verse have become the lyrics of a new song in the hearts of those who believe: “I consider all things so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Nhat Hanh

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September 30, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Jerome, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 648

Reading 1 – 2 TM 3:14-17

Beloved:
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,
because you know from whom you learned it,
and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that one who belongs to God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

R.    (12) Lord, teach me your statutes.
How shall a young man be faultless in his way?
By keeping to your words.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.
In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R.    Lord, teach me your statutes.

Alleluia – SEE ACTS 16:14B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 13:47-52

Jesus said to the disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.  
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
Jesus asked them:
“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old.”

St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church
c. 345 – 420

A prickly scholar translates the Bible into Latin forever and always

Today’s saint was living in Antioch in the 370s when he had a vision. Jerome was standing in the presence of the seated Christ, who asked him who he was. “I am a Christian,” Jerome responded. “LIAR!” Jesus yelled. “You are a Ciceronian, not a Christian, for where your treasure is, there also is your heart.” Jerome indeed loved Cicero and other Latin stylists. Their works and fine prose gave him the greatest pleasure. But Jerome had also been reared in a Christian home, been baptized as an adult in Rome, and had frequently descended into the darkened catacombs to pray at the tombs of the martyrs and saints. His double identity as both a scholar of Latin and Greek rhetoric on the one hand, and as a committed Christian on the other hand, dueled within him. Jerome fervently loved God and the Catholic religion with all his soul, but it was a troubled soul. Jerome was full of spit and vinegar. He was a complex man and a complex saint.     

Saint Jerome was born in an unknown year in a region northeast of Venice, Italy. His father sent him as a young man to Rome to perfect his education under a famous tutor. Jerome was a superb student and mastered Latin and Greek.  At about the age of thirty, he decided to become a monk and traveled to the desert of Syria. For four years he lived a life of austerity, penance, and isolation. He fasted from the classics he loved so much and instead studied Hebrew from a Jewish convert. When he finally came out of the desert, he was ordained a priest in Antioch but never truly exercised any priestly ministry. He studied under the great Saint Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople and began to publish some translations and biblical commentaries. Around 382 Jerome went to Rome with his bishop to serve as an interpreter and aide. Jerome impressed Pope Saint Damasus, who asked him to be his secretary.

At this point, in his forties and while living in Rome, Jerome began the monumental task of translating the entire Bible into Latin from original Greek and Hebrew texts. It would take him years. The existing Old Latin Bible was not cohesive, but a jumble of texts stitched together under one cover. Various scholars had generated divergent translations for purely local use. So the Gospel of John in a Jerusalem-based manuscript differed from the same Gospel in a manuscript in Gaul. The one Church, spread throughout the known world, needed one Bible to match its broad scope and theological unity. Jerome was the man for the job. After just a few years in Rome, after the death of his patron Pope Damasus, and due to the enemies his blunt words and fiery temper always seemed to create, Saint Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land. He lived in a cave near Bethlehem and focused on translating. Some holy and pious women from Rome followed him there and formed a quasi-monastic community around him.

Jerome’s translation, known as the Vulgate, became the standard Latin version of the Bible over time, pushing the Old Latin version into oblivion. The Council of Trent formally stated that the Vulgate was the official Bible of the Catholic Church. So Catholicism has a “The Bible,” a claim which no other church can make. No “The Bible” ever floated down from heaven on a golden pillow. Except for Jerome’s, a “The Bible” doesn’t exist. There are thousands of ancient scraps of Scripture from hundreds of ancient texts from scores of libraries and monasteries in dozens of countries, but a publisher and its consultants ultimately choose which texts to include in any published Bible and which to exclude. Catholicism has no such flimsy process. Its sacred word is not dependent on scholarly fashion and whim. It has a baseline. The Vulgate is like a dropped anchor resting on the ocean floor. It keeps the ship of the Church from drifting. Catholicism is a religion of the Word more than of the Book, but it has a definitive book, nonetheless. The fiery Saint Jerome died peacefully in 420, exhausted from his scholarly labors and life of penance. His remains can be found directly below the high altar of Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome in a handsome porphyry sarcophagus.

Saint Jerome, you lived a life dedicated to studying the Word of God, to penance, and to prayer. You placed your knowledge and scholarly gifts at the service of the Church, which used them wisely. Help all the faithful to serve the Church as much as the Church serves them. 

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Matthew


black & white photo of young man pensively looking into camera

“Love transforms one into what one loves.” St. Catherine of Siena

The human heart has to be ranked high on the list of the greatest mysteries of the world. Just think about that for a while. Do you know of anything else so mysterious, wonderful, painful, imaginative, creative, warm and cold, mean and loving, and sometimes all in the same day? 

According to most online internet-for-wanna-be medical experts like me, the heart beats about 100,000 times every day, pumping close to 1,900 gallons of blood to every cell in the body. This adds up to about 36.5 million beats a year, nearly 700,000 gallons of blood yearly, and 2.5 billion beats in an average lifetime. Some heart surgeons liken  every contraction to the effort it would take for us to hold a tennis ball in our palm and give it a good hard squeeze. Yet as incredibly marvelous as our heart is, it is only one of many examples in this universe of ours that is designed to tell us something about our Creator. This is the idea behind the story of a man named Matthew.

Matthew was a bright, clever, and witty young man who caught the eyes of his elementary school teachers early on. Most of the time, he was extremely helpful, courteous, and kind, but like with all of us, there was a not-so-bright side. Don’t get me wrong, please. We are not talking about some latent criminal in the making, at least not at first. You see, he loved comic books, all kinds, all of the genres. When he had the chance to accompany his mom to the grocery store, when grocery stores still had rows and rows of magazines and comic books for sale, Matthew would wait there until she was finished shopping. She always knew exactly where to find him, patiently and safely waiting to carry some of the bags of food and other items back to the car. Once in a while, he was rewarded with a comic book of his choice, normally plastering a huge smile on Matthew’s face.  

Somewhere along the way, Matthew developed a troubling habit of stealing his comic treasures from the grocery store. There was not always time and money to purchase a couple of them after their regular visit to supply their home with necessities and perhaps because it seemed easier than just asking and being told “no,” Matthew began to steal his favorite commodity. One or two at first, then several, placing them under his shirt so that he wouldn’t be noticed or that his sweat wouldn’t ruin the bright-colored ink off the pages. 

The first time he was caught, his father decided that he would not overreact as his own father had done with him on some, not the same kinds of infractions, but similar in scope regarding the deceit that it took to cover up the disobedience. His wife had found two comic books hidden under the pillow case, not with other “legally” purchased items. His father very calmly collected them and then drove his pre-teenage son back to the grocery where he had him return the heist, ask forgiveness, then pay for them out of his allowance. Upon returning home, he would engage in a stern and thoughtful lecture about stealing. 

Perhaps prematurely, Matthew’s dad had secretly patted himself on the back for having successfully averted a major crisis. Thinking that he may even call his own dad to brag a little, he began to set his sights on helping his son prepare for the wiles of high school, not too far away in the distance. This, however, was about the time that it happened again. Believing in his own mind and self-critically posturing himself as the one who definitely will NOT be receiving the “Father of the Year” award, this time he was angry. He yelled a bit, only to find that the louder he got, the more stoned-faced Matthew appeared to be. He was motivated by a sense of failure mixed with disappointment and laced with worry, he knew something had to be done and no idle threat would do. “Matthew,” he continued, “No son of mine is going to grow up and be a thief. It’s a comic today but it’ll be a car tomorrow. If this happens again, I warn you, I will have to spank you.”  

[Now here is when we need to break away a little from the telling of this story to enter a small but worthwhile disclaimer. We are not advocating corporal punishment nor are we criticizing it. Every parent must come to their own decision about their child’s discipline.] 

That having been said, things crept back to normal but there was clearly something different. Father and son were not talking as much anymore. Simple acts of affection and playful nudges were no longer accepted by the growing Matthew. He was either too old for his parents’ doting or he was still mad about the threat and did not know how to process all of this while testosterone, and the emptiness about fitting in and looking cool, beset his psyche. 

Perhaps a family vacation miles away in the midst of nature would be perfect for all of them. There was a state park about three hours from their home, far from the maddening crowds and looming changes. No TV or other distractions, just family time would be great. There would be no huge grocery store, just a little trading post for sodas and bait, and those camping sort-of necessities. But Matthew was at that age where he had one foot in childhood and one perious toe in his perceived notion of being a man. Things were changing fast and it was overwhelming. But he did not put up a fight, nor did he act excited. He was successful at curbing his enthusiasm and remained quiet during the entire travel to the vacation spot and even when they arrived. And as quickly as they had spent this time together, it was over, and life, such that it was, returned to normal. 

The week before school was about to start, the silence in the house began to grow heavy. Eye contact between parents and son increased with alarming regularity. While Matthew was polite and civil enough, especially around dinner, there was something quite not right and soon the mystery would be revealed. It was a pleasant enough day outside as one discovery led to another event reaching a watershed moment. Dad was at work and Matthew was at a friend’s house while Mom was cleaning the house and getting ready for dinner. That’s when she found them. Three brand new comic books, two of which were still in plastic covers hidden very cleverly between the towels over his dresser. Her heart sank for she knew this was going to ignite a firestorm that had been building up all these months. And she was right. 

She had called her husband at work and had already summoned Matthew back home where he was waiting in his room for his dad’s return. He was clearly upset while Matthew tried to keep calm and unfocused. When his father asked him where these particular comic books were from, Matthew did not hide anything. In a characteristically adolescent tone of voice, he quickly admitted that he stole them. He somehow thought that he would be somewhat in the clear since he stole these comic books while they were away on vacation and all but tried to lessen the consequences since they couldn’t drive all the way back to return them as he had previously been forced to do at the local grocery store. 

This pivotal encounter between father and son had begun with this: “Matthew, I told you what was going to happen if this should ever happen again, that I would have to spank you.” “But why, Dad? We can’t return them so they’re mine,” came the feebly concocted response. “I’ll do better than that, Matthew.” And with that, his dad took the comic books with his son outside where he quickly fired up the bar-b-que pit and with one fell swoop, tossed theme into the flames where they seemed to burst into a fireball, no doubt because of the richly entrenched colorful ink that characteristically displays the comic genre. After the last piece of charred ash ended its freefall into the wind, his dad continued: “Matthew, go to your room and wait for me.” 

For both father and son, the waiting couldn’t have seemed any less than a prolonged eternity. Matthew knew he was in the wrong and tried desperately to come to grips with this fascination of stealing something he could have easily just asked for. His father, however, was far beyond agonizing. His threat of a spanking was probably too impetuous but he, too, had painted himself into a corner. If he did not follow through with this, he would lose his son, he thought. If he was too brutal, again, he thought he would alienate his spitting image for years to come. What would it be, then? With as much resolution and love that he could muster, he walked in. The two met eye to eye with the weight of remarkable honesty mixed with fear and anxiety clearly filling the room, transforming it from a young boy’s refuge to the starting point of real manhood. Three stiff wallops would be sufficient, he thought, and within seconds, it was done. The silence was deafening, and the air in that modest bedroom seemed to have been drawn out like some huge vacuum in space. The reactions were somewhat predictable but not altogether simple. Matthew’s upper lip began to quiver which signaled to his dad that he should leave and allow his son to maintain a bit of dignity intact. But when he left, he barely sauntered into the hallway and, upon seeing his perplexed and worried wife, slid downward against the wall onto the floor weeping miserably. “I can’t believe I just did that! I’m a beast! I can’t believe I hit him!” Now she had two children to deal with. 

We must now fast forward this particular slice of life we have just described to a couple of handful of years when Matthew is now a tall, strapping young man driving his mom around town for various sundry errands. They stop at a busy red light near the center of town when she notices a familiar place of family lore. “Look, Matthew,” as she points to the old grocery store, “the scene of the crime.”  Her attempt at humor was not too successful and was accompanied by the changing of the light to green and a very pensive young driver poised to say something deep and meaningful. 

“You know, Mom, after that last time I got in trouble, I never stole another comic book again. In fact, do you know that I never stole anything ever?” 

“Wow!,” she responded, “that must have been quite a spanking!” 

“No, Mom, that’s not it, “ he said, pausing and taking in a deep breath. “I never stole ever again because I made my daddy cry.” 

So what can we learn from the complexity of this hardworking muscle, the heart? The message may be similar to the sound of waves caressing the shore and stars quietly shining in the night sky. Deep within its chambers and pockets of incredible power and wisdom, we find billions of reasons to trust the One who created us believing that love changes everything.  

Human hearts weigh less than one pound, have about 60,000 miles worth of blood vessels, and about 2,000 of them are transplanted every year. But most importantly, they are the centers of our personality, the engines of our life’s dreams, and are completely restless until they rest in God (St. Augustine). 

And when they love at their fullest potential, the world stands still.

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Angels In The Architecture


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 29, 2020

“War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.” (First Reading) “In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Gospel)

In the great scheme of things in which God has created everything that is and ever will be, we have Angels. Their name comes from the word that means “messenger.” Since that is true, we can safely assume three very important elements about the Angels and Archangels:
1. There is a Sender of the message
2. There is a recipient of the message and, finally, and perhaps most importantly,
3. There is a message.

Today, as we commemorate the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, there may be many things around you that you simply do not or cannot understand. Perhaps you may feel that God has been quiet for an unbearable amount of time. Today’s Feast calls us not only to celebrate the great mystery which is ours and comprises a very personal and wondrous gift but also to call out to the realm of Angels clearly led by the great Saint Michael. Be open to receiving grace and help. If it’s at all possible, see if you can find some quiet time. Then Listen. You and I have got more than just mail, we have a powerful message.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

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September 29, 2020


Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Lectionary: 647

Reading 1 – DN 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
His throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.

The court was convened, and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw

One like a son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
nations and peoples of every language serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Or – Rv 12:7-12AB

War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them.”

Responsorial Psalm – 138:1-2AB, 2CDE-3, 4-5

R.    (1)  In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R.    In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R.    In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD
when they hear the words of your mouth;
And they shall sing of the ways of the LORD
“Great is the glory of the LORD
R.    In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Alleluia – PS 103:21

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Bless the LORD, all you angels,
you ministers, who do his will.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

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September 28, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus, please go here.

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, please go here.

Monday of the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 455

Reading 1 – JB 1:6-22

One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
“From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

And so one day, while his sons and his daughters
were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
a messenger came to Job and said,
“The oxen were ploughing and the asses grazing beside them,
and the Sabeans carried them off in a raid.
They put the herdsmen to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Lightning has fallen from heaven
and struck the sheep and their shepherds and consumed them;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another messenger came and said,
“The Chaldeans formed three columns,
seized the camels, carried them off,
and put those tending them to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
when suddenly a great wind came across the desert
and smote the four corners of the house.
It fell upon the young people and they are dead;
and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair.
He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said,

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

In all this Job did not sin,
nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Responsorial Psalm – 17:1BCD, 2-3, 6-7

R.    (6) Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R.    Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
From you let my judgment come;
your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.
R.    Incline your ear to me and hear my word.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R.    Incline your ear to me and hear my word.

Alleluia – MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
 because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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September 28, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus, martyr


For the Readings on Monday of the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus, martyr
Lectionary: 646

Reading 1 – 1 PT 3:14-17

Beloved:
Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you.
Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them,
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R.    (5)  Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Alleluia – MT 5:10

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:34-39

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set

a man ‘against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

St. Wenceslaus, Martyr
c. 907 – 929

A young duke is killed by a jealous brother and becomes a Czech icon

When the famous die young, their unwrinkled faces, dark hair, and youthful vigor are frozen in time, forever vital, forever attractive, forever young. Time is not given its chance to run over their skin like water over rocks. No shaping, cracking, molding or shifting of the surfaces. Before the modern cult of celebrity held up athletes, movie stars, and musicians for supreme adulation, most cultures revered their royalty, soldiers, or holy men. Kings and princes, bishops and saints, chiefs and warriors served the common good by governing, praying for, and protecting the people. There simply was no class of entertainers to distract a populace from the leadership that mattered. Today’s saint, Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, was felled in a fateful encounter with his brother Boleslaus the Cruel. Wenceslaus was already famous when he died so young and so dramatically. All the ingredients needed to guarantee a lasting legacy were present, and his memory did last. He was recognized by the Church as a martyr, posthumously given the title of King, and quickly became an iconic figure to the Bohemian people such that his Feast Day, September 28th, is a national holiday in the modern Czech Republic.

Wenceslaus lived as Christianity was still dawning in central Europe. German missionaries had been laboring for a few generations with success, but underneath the visible layer of a Christian culture there was a substrata of paganism that was rock hard. Central and Eastern Europe were passing through the normal stages of evangelization, as an age-old culture with all its customs and traditions was slowly pushed back by a greater force moving like a glacier. Catholicism had moved into Bohemia by the 900s, but the religious landscape was not yet monolithic. As our martyr’s death attests, religious and political divisions ran cracks through the culture.

The grandfather of Wenceslaus may have been converted by no less than Saints Cyril and Methodius themselves. His grandmother Ludmila was an ardent Catholic and oversaw Wenceslaus’ excellent education in which he learned to read and write both Slavonic and Latin. Wenceslaus’ mother, Drahomira, clung to the old ways, though she was nominally a Christian. When Drahomira thought Ludmila was encouraging Wenceslaus to assume power as a teen, Drahomira had her mother-in-law strangled to death with her own veil. Once he did take power, Wenceslaus banished his own mother, solidified control of western Bohemia, and became an honorable ruler. He followed the law, favored education, and promoted the form of Christianity practiced in Germany, not in the east. This was a fateful decision. Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are Slavic peoples of the Latin Rite, unlike their Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Slavic cousins just to the east. Wenceslaus was pro-Western theologically and liturgically, while retaining his Slavic identity and independence in other essential matters. This pattern was to endure, giving Slavic Catholicism its unique features.

But for all of Wenceslaus’ brief successes, in the shadows lurked Boleslaus, creating a power center in eastern Bohemia. When Wenceslaus’ wife gave birth to a son, Boleslaus knew he would not succeed his brother, so he plotted his murder. Boleslaus and his henchman struck down the young duke Wenceslaus in 929 on the Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian and on the Vigil of Saint Michael the Archangel. “Brother, may God forgive you” were our martyr’s last words.

Saint Wenceslaus, you were the model of a just ruler in your brief reign. You saw it as your sacred duty to promote the true God and His religion. Help all rulers and leaders to see morality, liturgy, prayer, and catechesis as the bedrock of a just society.

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September 28, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, martyrs


For the Readings on Monday of the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, martyrs
Lectionary: 645A

Reading 1 – 2 MC 7:1-2, 9-14

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

At the point of death, the second brother said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying.”

After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Alleluia – MT 5:10

R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.”

San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish Church | photo by Judgefloro
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions’ Story
Lorenzo was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them, and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
Lorenzo’s life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”
At that time, three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Fr. Gonzalez, died after some days. Both Fr. Shiwozuka and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but in the ensuing hours Lorenzo felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semi-circular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. Still alive, the three priests were then beheaded.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others: Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions is September 28.
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What Child Is This?


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 28, 2020

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” Our Scriptures open up with one of the most memorable quotes ever uttered by the long-suffering and monumentally patient character of Job. Scriptures that continue to infuse our way of thinking and day-to-day living with remarkable and helpful insights that we desperately need in this frenetic world. We are speaking here about a healthy, totally God-centered, and confident detachment from all the forces of darkness and disappointments that cause us or at least tempt us to worry, and lose hope as we make our way in our Spiritual lives toward Heaven. This is not always easily accomplished because as adults, we feel very often that we must work for, attain, and operate with “full control” of any given situation.

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” And once again, Jesus the Lord crowns these wonderful hopes and dreams for a much simpler, holier, and healthier way of life by asking all of us to recall and relive what it means to be a child at heart. This is quickly distinguished from being childish but rather exhibiting an amazing disposition whereby trust in God, it is the way the day begins and ends. When we receive and accept this portion of our personality and truly learn to live in the moment and be here right now, we will understand why Jesus loved children so much and why He loves us in that very same and innocently trusting way.

“The child is in me still and sometimes not so still.” Fred Rogers

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Well Done Is Better Than Well Said


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 27, 2020

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” The situation in today’s Gospel reminds us, amongst other things, that actions speak louder than words. Think of the people in your life that you can truly count on whenever necessary. We say that their words are “golden” because they are true. Many organizations have mission statements declaring that their top aims are customer service, product quality, civic integrity, putting their people first, and the like. Yet many such businesses have poor service, quality, integrity, and employee relations. Individuals may do the same thing, extolling their plans, yet failing to implement them. Organizations and individuals falling into this trap may have good intentions, and they may not recognize they are failing to live up to their rhetoric. Workplaces and those individuals we choose to be part of our lives need both effective ways of clearly living their mission and goals, and impartial and time-tested challenges and opportunities to give unvarnished feedback. “Which of the two did his father’s will?” Sounds like integrity to me.

“Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?” This entire discussion brings us right back to the First Reading. Just as the Lord is present, tender, and merciful with us, we must be honest and forthright with each other because we are responsible for each other. Many times our own friends will interpret our silence as approval in a wild variety of situations. “I didn’t know you felt that way” is a phrase that comes to mind when we do not risk rejection in the service of truth. “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.”

Perhaps the basic message today is simple: We are what we do, not what we say we’ll do.

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September 27, 2020


Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 136

Reading 1 – EZ 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

R. (6A) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Reading 2 – PHIL 2:1-11 OR 2:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

or

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia – JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

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September 26, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian, please go here.

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 454

Reading 1 – ECCL 11:9—12:8

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young
and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart,
the vision of your eyes;
Yet understand that as regards all this
God will bring you to judgment.
Ward off grief from your heart
and put away trouble from your presence,
though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

Responsorial Psalm – 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Alleluia – SEE 2 TIMOTHY 1:10

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Christ Jesus destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:43B-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

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When Meaning Is Hidden


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 26, 2020

“But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” The older we get, the more life comes into focus, but then, mysteriously, out of focus again. These thoughts may seem strange, but they are inspired by the reference in the Gospel where it seems that knowledge and understanding are withheld along this journey we call life. Life is unpredictable, but I can say with confidence that we will all at some point experience certain things:

– Things that we will never understand
– Things that make us grasp certain realities
– Things that make us better for having experienced it and
– Things that will be in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Take death, for instance. Some deaths are more horribly tragic than others and although they all may sting, some are somehow soothed with the passing of time or even partly alleviated from the joy we feel when there is a newborn in the family. It is clear that death’s true meaning is withheld for something better later on.

“Ward off grief from your heart and put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting.” The real wisdom will arrive when we stop asking questions and be completely amazed and enthralled with the One who brought everything into the light. Knowledge of the world is one thing but trusting in the Lord Jesus is what helps us to accept certain truths which make us ready to live in His presence all the days of our lives. We then can finally understand and appreciate the words of today’s Psalm: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.”

“A genuine faith resolves the mystery of life by the mystery of God.” Reinhold Niebuhr

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September 26, 2020 – Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian, martyrs


For the Readings on Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian, martyrs
Lectionary: 644

Reading 1 – WIS 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R.    (5)  Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Alleluia – JAS 1:12

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:28-33

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs
c. Late third–early fourth century

Catholic Prayer Cards - St Therese of Lisieux - St. Joseph - Our Lady of  Guadalupe - Sacred Heart of Jesus - John Paul the Great - Support  Missionary work

September 26—Optional Memorial
Liturgical Color: Red
Patron Saints of doctors, barbers, and pharmacists

Holy twins are honored for their healing, their poverty, and their deaths 

The ancient walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem enclose the sacred ground where the life of Jesus Christ culminated in His death, burial, and resurrection. Both the modest hill of Calvary and the rock-cut tomb in which His corpse was laid are found under the roof of this venerable church. Calvary and the tomb have long been protected from relic hunters by slabs of marble and stone cladding that conceal the rough, first-century substrata resting just below. There is a custom, still common today, of allowing the faithful to sleep overnight inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. From the time the heavy wooden doors close at dusk until they creek open again at sunrise, the pilgrim must remain in the church. This pious custom of resting and watching in the dark, all night long, near a holy site in order to soak up its latent power is called “incubation.” The custom originated in an ancient church in Constantinople housing the remains of today’s saints, Cosmas and Damian, where the faithful incubated themselves in the hope of a miraculous cure.

Similar to Saint George, legends about Saints Cosmas and Damian far outrun any verifiable historical details about their lives. The devotion to today’s saints across epochs and cultures is as broad as an ocean but as shallow as a lake. Upon a slender bed of long-lost documents is constructed the narrative that Cosmas and Damian were twins and natives of Saudi Arabia who studied medicine in Syria. They became known as the “moneyless ones” for refusing to accept payment for their healing services. They were likely martyred north of Antioch in the early fourth-century. The earliest historical anchor planting these holy brothers in the ground of history dates to around 400 A.D. Around that time a pagan visitor recorded a visit to a shrine dedicated to Cosmas and Damian in Asia Minor. In the fifth-century, a church was built to their memory in Constantinople and, in the sixth-century, a pagan temple in the Roman Forum was rededicated as a Basilica in their honor. The bright apse mosaic of Rome’s Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian still shines and shows Saints Peter and Paul presenting the twins to the glorified Christ.  

Most of the wealth of miracles that have long been attributed to Saints Cosmas and Damian involve healing, in keeping with their medical profession. The fame of these miracles, together with their martyrdom, was so widespread in the early Church that they joined that elite class of martyrs, saints, virgins, and popes whose names were inserted into the Roman Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer I, where they are still read at Mass today. Their names also ring out in ancient litanies still sung at solemn Masses. Yet close familiarity with their names may dull our curiosity about their gory end. 

No details have been preserved, but it can be supposed that Cosmas and Damian died like so many other martyrs: by crucifixion, beheading, or drowning at sea; by the goring of beasts, or by their flesh being burned off in a roar of flames. The chilling sentence of death read by a Roman official sent a cold shiver up the spine. It was irrevocable. The martyr’s fate was often to be publicly shamed, tortured, and physically destroyed in a brutal fashion in keeping with a brutal world. No miracle saved Cosmas and Damian from their violent end. As physicians, they knew well the frailty of the human body. They understood their own bodies to be cracked vessels flooded temporarily with the Holy Spirit of God. And when the time came for that earthen vessel to return to the clay from whence it came, they bravely gave up what was never theirs. They offered a witness so shocking that it was seared into the memories of those who saw it, a witness so other-worldly that a few emulated it, and untold masses of others honored it through prayer and devotion, as we still do today.

Saints Cosmas and Damian, through your heroic witness of martyrdom, we ask your intercession to embolden the weak, to strengthen the hesitant, to give words to the meek, and to unleash the hidden power of the Gospel in all those who could do more.

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Time To Shine


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 25, 2020

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens.” This rather famous passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes reinforces the claim that there is an overall, far-reaching providential care that always accompanies our walk in this life and that by trusting this assertion, we can be assured of great peace and the seeds of a happy and fulfilled life. No longer can we ask with the air of disappointment and despair, “why do all these things happen to me?” By trusting in the heavenly care God has for us and the ultimate sacrifice paid by His Son, Jesus, we do not ask, “why me?” but rather, “what now?!”

“But who do you say that I am?” This larger-than-life question that yields magnificent results is found in only one and basically rudimentary position: That knowing who Jesus is surpasses any philosophy or self-help mantra in existence. Once we realize who He is, we will come to find the most wonderful peace and happiness ever imagined because we will have discovered why He came. He came for me!

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Leo Tolstoy

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September 25, 2020


Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 453

Reading 1 – ECCL 3:1-11

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for everything under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Responsorial Psalm – 144:1B AND 2ABC, 3-4

R.    (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
my mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust.
R.    Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
LORD, what is man, that you notice him;
the son of man, that you take thought of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days, like a passing shadow.
R.    Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Alleluia – MK 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

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September 24, 2020


Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 452

Reading 1 – ECCL 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

Responsorial Psalm – 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17BC

R.    (1)  In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD!  How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R.    In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Alleluia – JN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.

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Persistence As An Art


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 24, 2020

“And he kept trying to see him.” The ravaged conscience of Herod the Madman was apparently no match for the bright celestial light emanating from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was because the insane and inane king thought he had calmed his evil heart by beheading John the Baptist but that was not going to happen. “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And is why it is of tantamount importance to remain in the state of grace and always in deep spiritual and prayerful communication with the Lord. We must be persistent in this way because eventually our own heart will not rest until it rests with Jesus.

“Nothing is new under the sun.” The First Reading substantiates this thought and direction by reminding us that all things will pass, and the vane and proud things we attempted to accomplish will amount to nothing in the greater scheme of things. What we need today and every day we are allowed to breathe is wisdom: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Persistence and trust in God during the course of our spiritual lives will yield eternal benefits and help form us into true, loving people. We must never give up or surrender. The prize is too great and awesome: “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.”

“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” Albert Ellis

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September 23, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest
Lectionary: 451

Reading 1 – PRV 30:5-9

Every word of God is tested;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Add nothing to his words,
lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver.

Two things I ask of you,
deny them not to me before I die:
Put falsehood and lying far from me,
give me neither poverty nor riches;
provide me only with the food I need;
Lest, being full, I deny you,
saying, “Who is the LORD?”
Or, being in want, I steal,
and profane the name of my God.

Responsorial Psalm – 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163

R.    (105) Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Your word, O LORD, endures forever;
it is firm as the heavens.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Through your precepts I gain discernment;
therefore I hate every false way.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Falsehood I hate and abhor;
your law I love.
R.    Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

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The Lord’s Re-direction


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 23, 2020

“And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Have you ever walked into a room and automatically felt that something was terribly wrong? And by “terribly wrong,” what is meant is an atmosphere or attitude that is so negative and critical that you just cannot get away from there fast enough. In fact, the departure is so quick and determined that you leave a trial of dust behind. The Lord Jesus knows exactly the kind of world we occupy. It is full of negative and sinful postures that seek to choke and stifle the beautiful Gospel message. He also knows that we can trust Him with every good gift and wise choice. This is why we are forewarned and thus forearmed that any belligerent or hyper-critical encounter over the Gospel must end with an encounter with the closest door and move to the next page that God has already written and waiting for us.

“Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” The great news today, among the many other blessings we see and cannot see, is the fact that the Lord has once again reaffirmed His great love for us and His constant protection over every single step we take no matter what kind of encounter is waiting for us. All we have to do is remain faithful to His Word, be fed constantly with the Eucharist, and never ever lose hope even in the face of seemingly hostile and hateful rejection.

“Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” Dr. Steve Maraboli

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September 23, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest
Lectionary: 643A

Reading 1 – GAL 2:19-20

Brothers and sisters:
Through the law I died to the law,
that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Alleluia – LK 21:36

R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 16:24-27

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each one according to his conduct.”

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest
1887- 1968

A humble friar’s love for Christ burns holes through the palms of his hands

Long-married spouses often develop similar patterns of speech. A boy might learn to walk just like his father, and a girl might favor the same hairstyle as her mom. Teenagers in the same cliques dress alike and cut their hair in a similar fashion. It is natural to adopt the traits of the one you love, to mimic their behavior, dress, speech, and habits, consciously or unconsciously. Lover and beloved converge, master and disciple unite, leader and follower bond. Today’s saint did not have a reference group apart from Christ Himself. Jesus Christ inhabited every corner of the mind, soul, and imagination of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Pio’s life fused with Christ’s so totally that Pio’s very body bore the marks of his beloved. Not the same haircut, clothes, or gait, but the same nail marks and bloody wounds. Father Pio merged with Christ such that to look upon the friar’s hands was to see the crucified palms of the Son of God on Calvary.

Padre Pio grew up dirt poor and uneducated in a village near Naples, Italy, in 1887. Neither his parents nor his grandparents could read or write. He was baptized as Francesco and helped on the family’s small plot of land as a boy. The family was deeply religious, in the good, medieval way that perdured in rural, southern Europe far longer than it did in northern lands. Saints, feast days, devotions, processions, fasts, the Mass, angels, saints, the Virgin, and God saturated the atmosphere of Pietrelcina. Little Francesco and his family breathed Catholic air. It entered their bloodstream, circulated in their veins, and oozed out of every corpuscle. When he was about ten years old, Francesco decided to dedicate his life to God as a Franciscan friar. After completing some schooling and being privately tutored, he entered a nearby Franciscan friary at age fifteen. He took the name Pio (Pius) in honor of a saint honored in his hometown. He was ordained a priest in 1910.

Padre Pio lived virtually his entire priestly life at a modest Franciscan friary in the rural town of San Giovanni Rotondo. Beginning in 1918 he began to experience the stigmata, or marks of the sufferings of Christ.  He bled where Christ bled. Holes perforated his hands. He had sharp pains in his side. He also began to display supernatural gifts: bilocation, prophecy, miracles, and healings. His personal routine of prayer and mortification was itself stupefying. He did not want his private passion to play out in public, but it did. He became famous in Italy for being holy. Then he became widely known the world over. By the time of his death in 1968, Padre Pio was a bona fide Catholic superstar.

Padre Pio had mystique. That mystique was not rooted in good looks, a chateau on the Côte d’Azur, or in movie roles. It was how he said Mass. People flocked to witness Padre Pio say long, intense, devotional Masses. In the modern world, sin has mystique. It’s cool, retrograde, impulsive, and “edgy.” A life of sin and vice is seen as more authentic than a life of goodness and virtue, because the sinner does not hide his real self behind a social curtain. Padre Pio hid nothing. He was totally authentic, totally sincere, and totally holy. His life was a rebuke of sin. He did not fake “share” others’ burdens by joining them in sin. He entered into the real drama of life by embodying Christ. A true Christian is authentic when he separates himself and his friends from sin, when he creates the mystique of Christ around him, and, like Christ, draws all men to himself.

Saint Pio, your intense love of God was communicated to the faithful in your celebration of Mass, your wise counsel in the confessional, and in your mystical experiences. What was so manifest in you was rare, but lies latent in every priest. Help every priest to be an icon of Christ.

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Are You My Mother?


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 22, 2020

“Are You My Mother?” is the story about a hatchling bird. One day his mother, thinking that her egg will stay in her nest where she left it, leaves her egg alone, and flies off to find food. The baby bird then hatches and does not understand where his mother is so he goes to look for her. As he lacks the ability to fly, he walks, and in his search, he asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother, but none of them are. This quaint and well-known children’s story helps us remember the nearly same kind of question hurled at Jesus in the Gospel today. People thought that since the Virgin Mary and other close family members were asking for Him, that Jesus would respond immediately; however, His response was nearly puzzling on first impressions: “He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.’” We could repeat with the cute story the same question in an entirely different and mesmerizing context, “God, are you my mother, my brothers, sisters, family?” The answer, however, is as mystifying as it is clarifying: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” You see, it is not the family tree replete with flesh and blood nuances and connections that brings us closer to God, but our fidelity to what He says and following what He does.

“Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.” All of us want family and we seek security in one way or another. We need intimacy to discover our place in the world and make a healthy connection with others, especially with God. What is the foundation of such levels of relationship? Fidelity and obedience. We feel and exist closer to the Lord the more we follow Him and live in the light of His love starting with our desire and success to forgive even the deepest of pains in this life, especially betrayal. Interestingly enough, the way the little short story ends and the way our own lives will find their conclusion is very similar. In the children’s book, the little bird dramatically returns to its nest just as his mother returns. The two are reunited, much to their delight, and the baby bird recounts to his mother the adventures he had looking for her. Imagine your own homecoming to Jesus in Heaven and all the stories you’ll share as you spent a lifetime looking for Him, too.

“Of course, God does not consider you hopeless. If He did He would not be moving you to seek Him (and He obviously is). What is going on in you at present is simply the beginning of the treatment. Continue seeking with cheerful seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.” C. S. Lewis

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September 22, 2020


Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 450

Reading 1 – PRV 21:1-6, 10-13

Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the LORD;
wherever it pleases him, he directs it.

All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes,
but it is the LORD who proves hearts.

To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart–
the tillage of the wicked is sin.

The plans of the diligent are sure of profit,
but all rash haste leads certainly to poverty.

Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue
is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.

The soul of the wicked man desires evil;
his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes.

When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser;
when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

The just man appraises the house of the wicked:
there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin.

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself also call and not be heard.

Responsorial Psalm – 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

R.    (35) Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
And I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever.
R.    Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Alleluia – LK 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

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September 21, 2020


Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Lectionary: 643

Reading 1 – EPH 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm – 19:2-3, 4-5

R.    (5)  Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R.    Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R.    Their message goes out through all the earth.

Alleluia Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

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A Phrase To Forget


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 20, 2020

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” One day in a classroom far, far away, there was a discussion. The school picnic had just been canceled for some forgotten reason and the students in one particular classroom began to adopt a common mantra, “It’s not fair, it’s not fair,” and they kept repeating it with numbing regularity. Their wise teacher, very close to retirement (no doubt), allowed them to spew as long as they had any air left in their lungs, then stopped, looked at all of them with a combination of compassion and pity, and then told them all that they should remove that phrase from their vocabulary banks for the rest of their years. “Life’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, and it won’t ever be,” he continued. “Never say ‘Why me?,’ rather say quietly to yourselves, ‘What now?” God will answer that question.

To bring this discussion to more concrete terms, the Gospel of the day gives us rich morsels to ponder, wonder, and then to act: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.” The vineyard is clearly a metaphor for life in the Kingdom and where we should plant ourselves and thrive as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. However, there seems to be some element of injustice here as well. The people who started out early in the morning received the same wage as those who worked for just one hour. Does that seem fair? Of course not, If this was a lesson in macroeconomics (which it is not). Remember, it is about the mysterious life in the Kingdom where not everyone has the same amount of talents, gifts, or even opportunities yet everyone is accountable for what they do with what they have. Thus jealousy and envy are vicious poisons that can kill the life of the Spirit in the one trying to follow Jesus. The wages at stake here are not actual daily wages for vineyard laborers but forgiveness, life, and salvation for all believers. Seen like this, it really does not matter when a person receives them whether early or late in life, as long as they do find them before the end of the day, the final call, death, that is. The key here is to get to get working in and for the Kingdom as soon as possible no matter who is first or second or even last because justice will come at the end of the day. The bottom line is secure. Life is clearly not fair. That’s why Jesus came and that’s why you and I must work for justice until our last breath.

“The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.” Bryant H. McGill

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September 20, 2020


Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 133

Reading 1 – IS 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

R. (18a) The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Reading 2 – PHIL 1:20C-24, 27A

Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me.
And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two.
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better.
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Alleluia – CF. ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 20:1-16A

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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September 19, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Januarius, please go here.

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 448

Reading 1 – 1 COR 15:35-37, 42-49

Brothers and sisters:
Someone may say, “How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body will they come back?”

You fool!
What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

So, too, it is written,
“The first man, Adam, became a living being,”
the last Adam a life-giving spirit.
But the spiritual was not first;
rather the natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly;
the second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Responsorial Psalm – 56:10C-12, 13-14

R.    (14) I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.
Now I know that God is with me.
In God, in whose promise I glory,
in God I trust without fear;
what can flesh do against me?
R.    I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.
I am bound, O God, by vows to you;
your thank offerings I will fulfill.
For you have rescued me from death,
my feet, too, from stumbling;
that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
R.    I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.

Alleluia – SEE LK 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”

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Let’s Take A Walk


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 19, 2020

“I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.” What does it signify or suggest when we take a walk? First, we can safely assume that we needed to get outside of our routine and even ourselves to achieve a fresh perspective on our lives and even cleanse the soul of any negative or destructive attitudes or thoughts, Secondly, we walked where it was safe and perhaps even invited someone we trusted and love to accompany the stroll with us. And finally, and by no means the end of possible answers, we knew that something good would come of this walk if only to find peace and comfort, even exercise. All this applies beautifully to the image of walking in the presence of the Lord and making sure that our deeds are worthy of light. This is what it means to live a healthy and holy life.

“When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. ‘A sower went out to sow his seed.'” In the Gospel today, there were many people “out for a walk” and this time they met Jesus. He told them a great, meaningful story about yet another person who went out on a walk, this time to sow seeds. Depending on where the seed landed determined the outcome. Here again, is yet another wonderful image for life itself. We are all walking through many different situations and circumstances. What we do during these “life-walks” and what we plant will determine not only on how the day will end, but also how each life will finish and be judged: “But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn, and you will.” Vernon Howard

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September 19, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Januarius, bishop and martyr


For the reading on Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Januarius, bishop and martyr
Lectionary: 642

Reading 1HEB 10:32-36

Brothers and sisters:
Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened,
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction;
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R.    (5)  Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R.    Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

Alleluia – JAS 1:12

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr
c. 300

An early bishop martyr is honored due to an enduring miracle of blood

In every lost corner and hidden valley of the Catholic world is a painting of the Virgin Mary that cries watery tears, a crucifix whose growing hair must be cut with scissors, a white host oozing drops of red blood, or a sacred pool whose baths make the blind see and the lame walk. Of all the miracles, wonders, and theological rarities that leave God’s family in awe, the miracle of today’s saint is one of the most astounding. Three times a year, on his day of martyrdom, September 19; on the day of his commemoration as Patron of Naples, December 16; and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, recalling the gathering together of his various relics, the blood of Saint Januarius liquefies.  

Since at least the 1300s, a small glass vial holding a deep-red, stable substance has been removed from a safe location and brought before the faithful in the Cathedral of Naples by a priest or bishop. The vial is placed near the other relics of Saint Januarius which rest under the altar. And then the drumbeat of prayers start. They sometimes continue for hours and sometimes for minutes. God is bidden, fuel is poured on the fire of faith, and the mysterious moment arrives. Spontaneously, the stable, solid, red substance is transformed into a liquid that splashes around the inside walls of the vial for all to see. The blood of Saint Januarius has come to life. The city of Naples fires a twenty-one-gun salute from a nearby castle to signal that the transformation has occurred.

There is no explanation for how this happens. But it happens, happens often, and has happened consistently for many centuries. The proof is the outcome itself. That a solid substance liquifies cannot be debated. The liquified blood must be the starting point for speculation, not a presumption of magic or sleight of hand. That some things of God cannot be explained without the informed trust of faith is simply to state that believers did not make God up. He is not understandable. If He were, then He would fit conveniently into our tiny brains and thus not be God. But no faith is needed to accept this miracle. What happens is a fact.  

Little is known about the life of Saint Januarius. An extant letter from 432 mentions him as if he were already well known. It states that a nearby bishop, a friend of Saint Augustine named Saint Paulinus of Nola, had a vision of Januarius just before Paulinus died, and that Januarius was a bishop and martyr and a well-known member of the Church of Naples. It is believed that our saint was beheaded during a persecution under the reign of Diocletian, in the decade before Christianity was legalized in the early 300s. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the liquifying of Saint Januarius’ blood is that it occurs for no specific purpose. No sick person is healed, no sacrament is celebrated, no bishop is elected. It is a divine folly. It occurs to edify, to entertain, and to inspire, as if religion were a theological sport, with God simply putting His talents on display for all to behold the spectacle from the pews, to gaze, mouth agape, at a wonder that can neither be explained nor be resisted.   

Saint Januarius, you died for the faith of the Church just as the Christian era dawned. May we follow your example of generous witness and stand astonished at the mysterious miracle that puts your name on so many lips so many centuries after you perished for Christ.

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Pass Your Plate


“Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.” Romans 5:7

I love happy people. 

These souls help take the edge off an otherwise completely miserable existence caused, in no small part, by the grueling mantras of the pessimistic, cold, among us who brood and blame like there’s no tomorrow.  The happiest people in the world have at least one thing in common. They not only know how to forgive; they also seem to be creative about it. Conversely, some of the most unpleasant, mean-spirited, and revengeful people are those who mistakenly believe that retaliation and revenge are spiritual acts of mercy. It seems we have stumbled onto a new definition of insanity, or maybe just an expanded version of the more famous (or infamous) one, “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” 

From most circles these days, especially as we hopefully and gratefully approach post-pandemic panic and political posturing, all these attitudes about love and life, and yes, forgiveness stem from our most early experiences with the world that do in fact resonate with our parents and those significant as great as those figures in life.  It is nothing short of amazing how happy a person can be when they can joyfully accept their faults, failings, and the unsweetness of life while practicing forgiveness at every possible juncture, especially with one’s closest friends and family. 

Take the remarkable example of a young father with a group of rambunctious and promising adults-in-the-making that we bring here today. His youngest of three is an eight-year-old whirling, remarkably sociable for his age, and very active, to say the least. Justin is an amazing young man today, but in the turbulent but joyous days of childhood leading up to adulthood, there were a few bumps along the way. One of the more famous and pivotal concerns was Justin’s bicycle, a lack of appreciation for time, and amazing consequences. 

Justin was a very happy child who made friends as often as he made his own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And he loved to ride his bike all around the neighborhood, check in with all his friends and acquaintances, which were many,  and very often arrived late for the family dinner. Time and time again, Dad would chastise him, every so gently, in front of his older sisters and mom, and for a while it would work, maybe even for two weeks, but soon it was back to the same late for dinner, sweaty little boy rushing in to grab what was left on the table with a frustrated father staring at him. It wasn’t working, apparently. Dad and the family had reached their patience threshold and it was time for drastic measures. 

Justin knew he was in trouble when his father called him into the kitchen. It seemed as if all the real serious conversions took place there. And he was right. It was hard enough for his dad to make the necessary expectations on his pre-teen and teenage daughters, but if he couldn’t even control his son, then this whole parenting adventure would end in a miserable flop. So here’s what happened: 

The rule was simple. Justin was to arrive back from his afternoon tour de chance, after finishing his homework previously. He had to be at the table, hands washed, appetite engaged, and ready for grace or, and here was the ominous not-so-veiled threat: He would sit at the table and go without supper  while everyone else enjoyed Mom’s home-cooked delights. “Piece of cake, Dad!,” Justin retorted. It seemed  easy enough. 

The new approach to discipline and daily family time seemed to have worked for about ten days and the family continued to move forward along with school, work, and keeping happy. But as little boys’ minds tend to drift and lose track of time, so did the inevitable moment saunter into the collective and individual memories of all who would sit at that table. It was one of those cool October early evenings when the sky turned a dark burnt orange with scatter clouds accenting the horizon. The cool breeze definitely heralded the end of that long, dry summer and there was new life in the step of those who looked forward to the typical feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas not too far away. Who could possibly remember what time it was with this magnificent backdrop. Certainly not Justin. Realizing that all his friends had already retreated to their homes for supper, and finding himself alone on his bike, it hit him: “I am late!” Yes, he was. 

Pedaling as fast as his little legs could push, and hoping against hope that they had started later than usual, or there were unexpected guests, or Mom was just taking longer to prepare everything, he knew this night was not going to be good. He was right. He rushed in and everyone was at the table staring at him. He quickly washed his hands, grabbed his place at the table, and waited for the prayer before meals. Tonight was not the night to do this. Mom had prepared his favorite: pot roast with mashed potatoes and fresh dinner rolls, butter rolling down the silky-smooth domes of each portion. The smell was amazing. He dared not look up lest the harsh lecture would ensue. His father served each plate, making an obvious overplay at the sights and smells of such a great meal. Everyone was served except Justin. He stared longingly at his empty white plate and wondered how he could forget about coming home on time. He sighed and took a sip of the glass of water by his empty plate. He then looked up hoping to offer some words of sorrow to buy him dinner when something amazing happened. 

He watched his father rise from the table without taking his eyes off of his son. He took his own plate of food and lovingly exchanged it with his son’s. Someone would have to pay for this infraction and his dad did not want Justin to go to bed hungry. He went hungry that night so that his son would never starve from God’s infinite love. As awkward as it was beautiful, the rest of the family ate and slowly began conversation as if nothing had happened. But something wonderful did happen and none of them would ever forget it. 

Love shows itself in so many and mysterious ways. It is the nature of our God who loves us in such a manner. The beauty of life is to appreciate that mystery, celebrate the love we have in this world, and realize that without sacrifice, we could never understand the wonders of what we have. God is love and when we love, and forgive, and carry the burdens of others, we can taste what Jesus has accomplished for the world and each one of us. What would you do for the ones you love? 

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

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Fresh Off The Vine


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 18, 2020

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” There is no such thing as a gardener without passion. Nor could there be one without creativity or deep insight about the earth and what comes out of it. We could even say for our purposes here that working with the soil and growing food and flowers that enrich our lives is really an art that employs the hand, the head, and the heart altogether. During these weeks before the interesting trifecta of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, we are witnesses through the Scriptures of the “firstfruits” of the sowing and planting of the Gospel enriched by the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to produce this wonderful and life-giving fruit of the world’s garden, the Church. God is like the Supreme Gardener who has placed all of creation in place and in order and brings all the blossoms in an all-powerful and all-loving gentle manner. This very truth inspired the Psalmist to invite us to sing with him today and forever: “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.”

And while we are living in a complete world of gratitude and the overwhelming sense that Jesus is right here with us through thick and thin, our behavior then reflects such living: “Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.” Clearly the Scriptures today proclaim the deep and life-giving connection with the integrity of life because of the One who has loved us into existence. If we believe in Jesus and follow Him, then our entire lives must strive to live as redeemed and ransomed people. This is how we exhibit the closeness to our hearts with the divine mysteries of creation and redemption. Jesus, using the imagery of gardening and farming, reminds all of us of this intimate relationship when He states in another passage: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” If it is true, and it is, that you can always tell a tree by its fruit, then who will people see and experience in us today. Will they see Jesus?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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September 18, 2020


Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 447

Reading 1 – 1 COR 15:12-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Responsorial Psalm – 17:1BCD, 6-7, 8B AND 15

R.    (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R.    Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
R.    Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings,
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R.    Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia – SEE MT 11:25

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.

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September 17, 2020


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, please go here.

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 446

Reading 1 – 1 COR 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the Gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the Apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.
For I am the least of the Apostles,
not fit to be called an Apostle,
because I persecuted the Church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.

Responsorial Psalm – 118:1B-2, 16AB-17, 28

R.    (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R.    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R.    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
You are my God, and I give thanks to you;
O my God, I extol you.
R.    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Alleluia – MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?”
Simon said in reply,
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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Time To Love


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 17, 2020

“I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” St. Paul makes it very clear most emphatically in his Letter to the Corinthians that humanity is lost without the Gospel. And yet, he warns all of us Christians that we cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat. Clearly we have no right to judge other people just because they do not sin like we do. St. Paul explains that the final judgement will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective, everyone stands on an equal footing with each other and thus we cannot realistically condemn others without condemning ourselves.

“Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” St. Luke continues and completes this thought for us by making sure that the Pharisees know that mere possession of laws is no evidence of virtue. Mark Twain once responded to a man who was going to the Holy Land to see where the Ten Commandments were given with, “Why don’t you just stay home and live them?” Good point, Mr. Clemens.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” “The worst prison,” St. John Paul wrote, “would be a closed heart,” and this is precisely why you and I must know the difference between judging and admonishing. Arrogant judgment condemns because it is motivated by pride; admonishing the sinner liberates because it is motivated by love. Each produces very different results.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

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September 17, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church


For the reading on Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 641

Reading 1 – WIS 7:7-10, 15-16

I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
And I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.

Now God grant I speak suitably
and value these endowments at their worth:
For he is the guide of Wisdom
and the director of the wise.
For both we and our words are in his hand,
as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R.    (10)  The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R.    (John 6:63)  Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R.    The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R.    Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R.    The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R.    Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R.    The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R.    Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R.    The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
or:
R.    Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Alleluia – SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor
1542 – 1621

A learned scholar with a warm personality drives the Counter-Reformation forward

A massive, multi-volume work of Christian theology was published in the 1580s refuting Protestant errors. The volumes were of such encyclopedic and commanding erudition that readers assumed that the name on the books’ spines, “Bellarmine,” referred to an entire faculty of scholars. But the volumes were the work of just one incredible man, today’s saint, Robert Bellarmine. He was a one-man university. The Bellarmines had a pope in the family and gave their son a broad education from his youth. Young Robert mastered numerous subjects, including the art of playing the violin. He joined the Jesuits in 1560 and taught the classics while simultaneously studying theology on his path to the Priesthood. After his ordination in 1570, he became a professor at the University of Louvain, in modern-day Belgium, and then at the Jesuit College in Rome. 

During his long career as a professor, Fr. Bellarmine never stopped learning. He was rigorous in his intellectual approach, read everything, and was particularly focused on refuting, with nuance, Protestant errors. He even learned Hebrew and wrote a Hebrew grammar to counter the thesis of a then popular Protestant history book. The times demanded that Bellarmine develop an expertise in apologetics, to be totally engaged with the red-hot controversies of his day. This was not the age for theological speculation or philosophical rumination, as the medieval scholastics could indulge in. This was the age to master first principles, to delve into the ancient sources, to root out error, and to express the perennial truths of Catholicism with renewed vigor surrounded by new art, architecture, and sacred music. It was a total mind-body approach. It was the Baroque exploding before your eyes. It was the onslaught of the Counter-Reformation, and Robert Bellarmine was the tip of the spear.

Bellarmine’s long list of accomplishments is astonishing. He helped produce a new edition of Saint Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, participated in the revision of the Julian calendar, and contributed to the authoritative Catechism which the Church published for over three hundred years. He served on a papal commission that arbitrated a major conflict over the Kingship of France, became a regional superior for the Jesuits, and was ordained a bishop and consecrated a Cardinal. He was a trusted adviser to successive popes, was tasked with resolving a bitter dispute over the theology of grace between Dominicans and Jesuits, and escaped being elected Pope himself by the narrowest of margins in 1605. After this near miss with destiny, he was appointed to serve on various Roman Congregations and as prefect of the Vatican library, so he resigned from his diocesan responsibilities and returned to Rome for the rest of his life, where he became the Holy See’s indispensable man. His long and faithful service at the highest levels of the Church culminated in his playing a role in the famous process against Galileo, who was Bellarmine’s personal friend. Our saint’s last years were spent writing devotional works on prayer and dying well. 

Robert Bellarmine accepted the trappings of his office—robes, servants, and a carriage—but he lived austerely and expected all priests to do the same. His virtues equaled his achievements. He had an attractive blend of warmth, intelligence, and big-heartedness that earned him a huge circle of friends. He knew the truth like few others but listened carefully and respectfully to all who challenged it. Robert Bellarmine was canonized in 1930 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931. He is buried in the Jesuit Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome.

Saint Robert Bellarmine, we see in your life a beautiful dedication to theological truth, personal austerity, and openness toward others. We ask your intercession before God to give all the faithful the gift to live so balanced and integrated a life.

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September 16, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Lectionary: 445

Reading 1 – 1 COR 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Responsorial Psalm – 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 AND 22

R.    (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia – SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life,
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

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September 16, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, please go here.

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Lectionary: 445

Reading 1 – 1 COR 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Responsorial Psalm – 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 AND 22

R.    (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia – SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life,
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like?
They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine,
and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr

A Pope reigns for two years, excommunicates a schismatic, and dies in exile

The twenty-first pope of the Church, Saint Cornelius, succeeded no one. After the death of Pope Saint Fabian, martyred in January 250, persecutions prohibited the clergy of Rome from electing a successor, so the Chair of Saint Peter was vacant for over a year. Finally, when the cruel Emperor Decius departed Rome on military campaign, the clergy chose Cornelius as Bishop of Rome. Not everyone was happy with the choice, especially the former future pope Novatian, who had led the Roman clergy during the vacancy and had convinced himself that he was going to be elected. Novatian’s supporters consecrated him bishop and refused to acknowledge Cornelius. Sides were taken, letters were written, and tensions heightened. After consolidating support from the esteemed Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and others, Cornelius resolved the dispute by convening a synod of bishops which excommunicated the schismatic Novatian and his followers.

Pope Cornelius reigned for a little over two years, from March 251 to June 253. Even though his time in office was brief, he made some important decisions and left an interesting legacy. Decius’ persecution gave rise to the greatest pastoral dilemma of the third century—how, and whether, to reintegrate Christians who had offered pagan sacrifice, regretted it, and desired to enter again into the embrace of Mother Church. The related question of whether bishops, priests, and deacons who had apostosized could perform valid sacraments would vex Cornelius’s successors. There were two camps on this issue. Novatian held that lapsed Christians were idolaters, and idolatry was, in the Old Testament especially, unforgivable. The Church could not absolve such apostates. They were to be judged by God alone at death. Cornelius, Saint Cyprian, and other bishops occupied a more moderate position. They taught that the lapsi could be reintegrated into the Church through repentance and an appropriate penance. Cornelius’ position won the day, forever and always, establishing an important theological precedent: There is no sin that cannot be forgiven.

Pope Cornelius also left, in his letters, an important record of the size, state, and organization of the Church of Rome, hard facts so obvious to those inside of a culture that they often go unreported in historical documents. Decius’ successor as Emperor was named Gallus, and he was no friend of Christians either. He banished Cornelius to a city not far from Rome where the Pope died of physical hardship. Saint Cornelius was buried near the papal crypt in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus. One day in 1849, an amateur archeologist, a layman who worked in the Vatican library, found a small marble shard that read NELIUS MARTYR in a field on the outskirts of Rome. But there was no martyr named Nelius. He then found another shard that read COR. The inscription is still visible today in the Catacombs of Callixtus: Cornelius Martyr. 

The Romans unsheathed their long knives in the 250s. Pope after pope was martyred by various means. But the Church did not run and hide, it stayed and grew. The blood of Cornelius and other pope-martyrs wet the soil, and the seeds of faith moistened, grew, and sprouted into the vast garden of Catholicism that slowly, and imperceptibly, took deep root in the ground of Europe. Saint Cornelius’ name is read at Mass in Eucharistic Prayer I even today, next to Saint Cyprian’s. He was staunch in his defense of the Church, yet appropriately lenient to his fellow Christians who did not possess his same fortitude. In this respect, he was as wise a pastor as he was brave a martyr.

Saint Cornelius, our Lord said that it profits a man nothing to gain the whole world if he would lose his own soul. You gained the papacy, not the whole world, yet gave it up rather than bend to the will of the Church’s enemies. Help us to persevere like you.

St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyr

The faithful soak up the blood of their beheaded bishop 

The elegantly named Thaschus Caecilius Cyprianus was born in an uncertain year in that buzzing beehive of early Christianity known as Roman North Africa. His biography epitomizes that of many greats of his era: a classically educated Roman citizen of renown finds Christ as an adult, leaves behind his exalted civic status, trades Empire for Church, and places his gifts and reputation at the service of the people as a bishop of consequence. But because he lived in times of hot persecution, Cyprian’s life did not come to a peaceful end like others with similar biographies, such as Saints Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, or Paulinus of Nola. The mighty Bishop Cyprian was sentenced to death by a local bureaucrat. On the fateful day, he knelt in the burning sand and waited for the heavy Roman sword to lop off his head. Cyprian’s cult of martyrdom sprang up instantly, even as the faithful, carrying white cloths, soaked up the holy blood that poured from his torso. His name was soon placed in the Roman Canon, where it remains today, spoken from the altar and heard by the faithful at Mass in Eucharistic Prayer I.

Cyprian was a big-hearted, well-educated “man about town” when, in his mid-forties, he was converted by the example and words of an old priest. He redirected his life, made a vow of chastity which astonished his friends, and even abstained from his greatest pleasure—the works of pagan authors. In all of Cyprian’s Christian writings, there is not one single citation of these pagans whose style and thought Cyprian had so admired. Once converted, Cyprian’s mind focused on Scripture and the growing canon of Christian theology, mostly that of his fellow North African Tertullian. Soon after his baptism, Cyprian was ordained a priest, and in 248, after first resisting the appointment, he was made the bishop of his home city of Carthage. His impressive bearing and refined education earned him deep respect among the faithful.

Under the persecution of the Emperor Decius (249–252), which so marked the life of the third-century Church, many Christians lined up at the offices of their local Roman official to offer token worship to pagan gods and to receive a libellus, or small sheet, documenting their apostasy.  Cyprian lost all his possessions in this persecution but avoided capture by going into hiding. He governed his diocese remotely through letters and was compelled to defend his flight against criticism levelled by bishops in both Rome and North Africa that he was avoiding martyrdom. Once the tide of persecution subsided, Cyprian returned to Carthage and was lenient but clear, like his contemporary Pope Cornelius, in reintegrating the lapsi back into the Church once they had performed a suitable penance.

The roiling debate over how to pastorally respond to the lapsi divided the Church in North Africa, with some priests arguing no forgiveness was possible for idolaters, and others demanding that the lapsi perform onerous penances before they were received again into the fold. Cyprian responded to these divisions by writing a treatise on Church unity, arguing that the pope’s teaching on this matter must be obeyed: “There is one God, one Christ, and but one episcopal chair, originally founded on Peter, by the Lord’s authority. There cannot be set up another altar or another priesthood.” Cyprian later clashed with Pope Stephen I over the validity of the sacraments performed by priests who had apostatized, a matter resolved after both mens’ death in favor of the Roman position of leniency.

Cyprian’s fellow North African, Saint Augustine of Hippo, in Book Five of his Confessions, recounts how his mother, Monica, prayed in a shrine dedicated to Saint Cyprian in the port city of Carthage around 375 A.D. So, approximately one hundred and twenty years after Cyprian’s death, his legacy was firmly established, fresh and alive, as it still is today.

Saint Cyprian, you served the unity of the Church as a bishop, understood the beauty and necessity of the sacraments, and accepted death over apostasy. Inspire all bishops to be magnets, drawing the faithful toward Christ and the Church through their teaching and witness.

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This Song Is For You


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 16, 2020

“We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.” Unfortunately, there are many around us who hear the refrains of hope and salvation that you and I hear but continue to go forward blindly. We must pray for each other constantly until that day that we all see clearly what Christianity and following Jesus really means and what greatness in Heaven and eternal life is just waiting for us. Today, you and I must be that voice, that speaker to announce the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord!

“Love is patient, love is kind.” Life has a lot to do with listening. Think of all the different sounds we hear every single day. We listen for important announcements and information that we deem pertinent to us. We also listen to the voices of those whom we love. So does God: What we hear during this great adventure following the Lord is the call to get real with our lives and with each other. There are many other voices shouting out at us all year long. Only one voice matters: “But I shall show you a still more excellent way.”

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

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September 15, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, please go here.

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 442/639

Reading 1 – 1 COR 12:12-14, 27-31A

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.

Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the Church
to be, first, Apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all Apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds?  Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

Responsorial Psalm – 10:1B-2, 3, 4, 5

R.    (3) We are his people: the sheep of his flock.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R.    We are his people: the sheep of his flock.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R.    We are his people: the sheep of his flock.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R.    We are his people: the sheep of his flock.
For he is good, the LORD,
whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R.    We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Sequence (Optional)
Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother!  font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the Martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Or – Lk 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

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Her Cross, My Victory


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 15, 2020

“Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the Martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.” Today, the Church remembers and honors the intense suffering and grief of the Mother of Jesus during His Passion and Death. There were actually seven individual sorrows that Mary endured as was foretold to her by Simeon the priest of the Temple on the occasion of the Lord’s Presentation. Here is a partial text of a very popular hymn somberly expressing these heartfelt sentiments: At the cross, her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword had passed. Our present hope for our Christian journey toward Heaven is easily seen in the Opening Prayer at Mass today: “Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life. Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.”

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” Let us reflect on the mystery and fruits of suffering as presented by St. John Paul II in a remarkable teaching borne out of his own incredible personal sufferings. First, he says that suffering empowers humility: To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In Him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. Secondly, he teaches that suffering is transformative: Down through the centuries and generations, it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace, many saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation. Finally, he writes that suffering enlivens and grows charity and love for and of others: We could say that suffering . . . is present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love that stirs in his heart and actions.

Thus, suffering in its purest sense is actually the road to holiness and a closer walk and friendship with the Lord Jesus. His mother shed human tears for the Divine Son she helped bring into this world, our world. We cry human tears but not always for what is right and just. Today we seek to move toward complete integrity on this walk of ours toward Heaven, knowing and embracing humility, deep-seated change, and charity which are all great gifts when we suffer together with Jesus always in our hearts and minds.

“Let me mingle tears with you, Mourning him who mourned for me, All the days that I may live. Christ, when you shall call me hence, Be your Mother my defense, Be your cross my victory.” Stabat Mater

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September 15, 2020 – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows


For the readings of the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, please go here.

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 639

Reading 1 – HEB 5:7-9

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 31:2 AND 3B, 3CD-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

R.    (17)  Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me,
make haste to deliver me!
R.    Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
R.    Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R.    Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R.    Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
How great is your goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.
R.    Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Sequence (Optional) Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother!  font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen.  (Alleluia)

Alleluia

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Or – LK 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

A mother is only as happy as her saddest child

Every life climbs its Calvary. Every soul has its quiet sorrow which cannot be shared in full with any other soul. This concealed pain is the very real drama that plays out behind the curtain of the duties and distractions of everyday life. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, shared in all things human, save sin, including pain and sorrow. So He wept at the death of Lazarus, and He balanced the heavy cross on his sore bones and trudged up a hill to his own execution. Thoughts and ideas can be shared in their totality. Emotions and experiences only partially so. Suffering is intensely private in that it is a personal, lived experience. The intense sufferings of Jesus Christ were intensified by His perfection. It was more unjust, more cruel, that one so perfect should suffer at the hands of creatures of His own making. Only a perfect being similar to Jesus could enter into His sorrow, could experience it somewhat as He did. That person was Mary. She was not a Goddess, of course, but the New Eve, the perfect person God intended that every person should be from the start. Because she was perfect, she most understood, and felt, the pain of her perfect Son. Shared perfection led to shared sorrow.

Today’s feast commemorates the sorrows of Mary, most especially those lived during Jesus’ passion and death. Devotional images of Mary show her heart pierced by seven swords, symbolic of seven sorrows: the prophecy of Simeon; the flight into Egypt; Jesus being lost in the temple; meeting Jesus on His way to Calvary; standing at the foot of the Cross; being present when Jesus was removed from the Cross; and her presence at His burial. Mary was perfect, but her life wasn’t perfect. She was squeezed by the same wine press of pain, humiliation, and sorrow that squeezes every life. She was unmarried and pregnant and must have heard the neighbors’ whispers as she walked the dusty streets of her town. She and her family had to flee to a far-off land to escape the murderous King Herod the Great. She lived a real life stuffed with real human drama. But her most intense sorrows were felt when she was in her late forties, when her one and only child died a public death, leaving her, already a widow, totally alone, her middle-aged face stretched with sorrow. 

When our fingers and thumb walk up and down the chain of mercy, we ruminate over things glorious, joyful, luminous, and sorrowful. We recall historical events like Christ’s Baptism and the Last Supper, and theological events like the Assumption and the Coronation. The Sorrowful Mysteries are historical. Mary hovers just off center stage. She stands nearby, amidst the crowd on the path to Calvary, upright and brave at the foot of the Cross, weeping as her dead boy is wrapped in a sheet and delicately placed on a cold slab in a rock-cut tomb. She is Our Lady of Sorrows because she, and the Church, are mothers. They give and nurture life. They feel more than men. They respond to suffering with co-suffering, not so much through actions and solutions. On today’s feast, we recall Mary’s sorrow and share in it. But our sorrow is not that of a godless Viking, a pagan Roman, or a modern secularist. Christian grief is not godless grief. Our grief, like Mary’s grief, is ameliorated by the sure and certain hope that the last word in our book is not death and despair but hope and life. Mary’s sorrow is temporary, as all of our sorrows one day will be. There is nothing that does not have a context, except for God. And the context for Christian sorrow is the Resurrection.

Mary of Sorrows, you shared the pain and sorrow of your perfect Son but were never forlorn. Help all who turn to you to unite our sorrows to yours and His so that we may co-suffer in His death and co-share in His Resurrection.

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A Grief Observed


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 14, 2020

What is the mystery of suffering? Maybe we should begin with the penalty for complaining. It did not go well for the people in the First Reading: “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.” The problem was simple: they forgot about how good God had been to them and just focused on the things in the present moment without giving thanks to the One who always took care of them. Thus, the Psalmist made it clear to them and us what we must all do: “Do not forget the works of the Lord!”

None of us like to suffer. We avoid pain and discomfort. Our whole society and culture are seemingly built around the basic premise that we must avoid all pain. The problem, however, is simple and tragic. No one can avoid suffering. No one can escape death. The simple message of today is that life is not a question about whether or not you are going to suffer; it is a question of how. We who believe in Jesus know the answer to that question. We suffer with Him so we can rise with Him. “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Again, this awakens the thoughts we raised yesterday. Which path will I take today? Whose promise will I place my entire trust?

“When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly.” St. Sebastian Valfre

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September 14, 2020


Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Lectionary: 638

Reading 1 – NM 21:4B-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm – 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R.    (see 7B)  Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R.    Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2 – PHIL 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

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Forgive To Live


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 13, 2020

“Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.” In the March 2014 issue of the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity Journal, a group of scientists published findings that concluded that forgiveness of self and others play more than a causal role with a person’s ability to deal with stress, long-term health, and longevity. The Letter to the Romans today suggests even better benefits: “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.”

The entire depth and scope of the life of Jesus has everything to do with forgiveness, and not just conditional forgiveness, either. His very self-sacrificing love offering on the cross can reverberate in one’s heart throughout the years we have left. By accepting this fundamental act of love and forgiveness, we can expect great things now and later, and desperately painful occurrences if we do not. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

What does this teach us and how can we apply what we have learned in the days ahead? Let us consider this phrase: Forgive and forgive. No, this is not a misprint: You read it correctly. Forgive and forgive. But what does it really mean? Christmas is now more or less a hundred days away and our Scriptures this week usher in a magnificent time of preparation to come with a child-like heart and soul to the manger in December to see the Baby Jesus born for us. What too often blocks us from truly experiencing the joy of Christmas and in fact joy throughout the year, is the lack of forgiveness in our hearts and in our vocabulary. Let’s change that:

Forgive the big names, the estranged family members, the ex-spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, the harsh bosses, the crafty co-workers, literally anyone that has hurt you tremendously. Probably the very people you were thinking about as you read that last sentence. Take it slowly, talk with someone you trust, and then ask the Father to help you forgive those who have deeply trespassed against you. It is real freedom.

Forgive the little infractions that occur every day, you know, like the one who cut you off on the freeway, the one who took your parking space (yes, the one with your name on it), the person who forgot your birthday, anniversary or something like that, and that one person who just seems to have the real talent of finding your last nerve and getting on it. No doubt during this week, this is probably going to happen more times than not, which means many more opportunities for grace and growth in the Lord. I have heard from others that it is a good idea just to ask God to forgive everybody who is going to pull the wrong chain that day even before you get out of bed. That means you will always be one step ahead. (And please remember that We are also “the one person” for someone else who will need to forgive us. It does balance out. Trust me.)

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” Catherine Ponder

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September 13, 2020


Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 130

Reading 1 – SIR 27:30—28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. (8) The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Reading 2 – ROM 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Alleluia – JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord;
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

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September 12, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

For the readings of the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary, please go here.

Saturday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 442/639

Reading 1 – 1 COR 10:14-22

My beloved ones, avoid idolatry.
I am speaking as to sensible people;
judge for yourselves what I am saying.
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one Body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Look at Israel according to the flesh;
are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
So what am I saying?
That meat sacrificed to idols is anything?
Or that an idol is anything?
No, I mean that what they sacrifice,
they sacrifice to demons, not to God,
and I do not want you to become participants with demons.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.
Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger?
Are we stronger than him?

Responsorial Psalm – 116:12-13, 17-18

R.    (17) To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R.    To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R.    To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia – JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:43-49

Jesus said to his disciples:
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

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Between Rock And A Sand Place


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 12, 2020

“No, I mean that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons.” Lip service is no service at all. We can believe that actions prove who someone is while their words just prove who they want to be. Nothing prospers when evil is done in the sight of the Lord especially from those from whom so much more is expected. So what are we to make of all this in application to our spiritual lives?

Again, the Gospel takes us even deeper: “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock.” So here we have the trifecta of a very successful spiritual life: listen, act, repeat. Everyone hears something but not everyone listens. Everyone does something, but not everyone acts within the will of God. In the end, everything will depend on where we placed our belief and trust, and where we built the foundation upon we will die. We know what happens to those who build on sand. Disaster, plain and simple. Building on Jesus the Rock means everything.

“To build your house on rock is to hear what Jesus says and obey. To be foolish and build your house on sand is to hear and ignore.” Kevin DeYoung

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September 12, 2020 – Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary


For the reading on Saturday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary
Lectionary: 636B

Reading 1 – GAL 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.

Responsorial Psalm – LK 1:46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.”
R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
“He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.”
R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
“He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

Alleluia – SEE LK 1:45

R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:39-47

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

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Remembering And Praying Over 911


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 11, 2020

I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” Today is a difficult day for some, problematic for others, and still a puzzle for many. What happened? Why did it happen? Is it going to happen again? For all of the above segments of our society, there must be a common, stable, and universal answer. And there is: God’s patience mercifully calls forth in us the courage to return to Him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart. “Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.” Saint Bernard goes on to ask: “But what can I count on? My own merits? No, My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as He is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits.” This is important for today: our goal must be the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in His patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of His love. We must seek mercy in the very heart of our understanding of who God is for the whole world. Let us Pray:

God, we come to you today in remembrance of the lives lost to unspeakable violence, especially those on September 11th and in its aftermath. All of us were touched by this day – from the loss of loved ones to changes in the national mood. We remember our anger and fear, gritty like sand in our teeth – anger at lives lost, at words and actions of retaliation, at excuses to oppress people in our country and around the world, fear over what might happen, over losing our own lives. We remember our sorrow, salty water flowing from our eyes, grief at loss, at the deep pain and suffering of our sisters and brothers. But we also pray that this salty water will become seed for a better tomorrow. Like these seeds, we have hope that your kingdom of peace and justice will take root and flourish in our world. And we remember the fabric of life of which we are all a part – from workers at the Pentagon to the undocumented workers at the top of the World Trade Towers to people in Afghanistan who had never heard of New York City. May we learn to sew together this fabric, with unbreakable threads so that we may cling together in solidarity and such violence may never be repeated.” Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

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September 11, 2020


Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 441

Reading 1 – 1 COR 9:16-19, 22B-27

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race,
but only one wins the prize?
Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.
They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

Responsorial Psalm – 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12

R.    (2) How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
R.    How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!
R.    How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
R.    How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
For a sun and a shield is the LORD God;
grace and glory he bestows;
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk in sincerity.
R.    How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Alleluia – SEE JOHN 17:17B, 17A

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:39-42

Jesus told his disciples a parable:
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

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My Enemy, My Love


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 10, 2020

“To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Here we see that once again, Jesus, the New Moses, and Lawgiver transforms our very way of life and that even to this day some people believe is virtually impossible. However, it is not impossible. In the First Reading we are reminded of the ultimate source of all power in this universe who is the ultimate judge and dispenser of all justice: “…there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.” The act of forgiveness and exuding mercy does so much for the heart that displays such intentions that it becomes clear that when The Lord asks us to forgive our enemies, He really and truly wants the best for our souls so that they are freed of any hatred and the scourge of evil.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Our world is definitely filled with people who have been hurt, mocked, and humiliated. This would explain why it’s easy to see how hurting people hurt people. As Christians, we are charged to remember that all people carry wounds whether they were self-inflicted or not. We all suffer in one way or another and what we truly need is patience and love rather than judgment. And if we needed any further convincing, there is this very interesting detail that is nudged between the loving lines of wisdom today: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” It is as if there was a celestial stopwatch that starts calculating the time it takes us to forgive and then uses that very time to be applied to us when we need forgiving, which, by the way, is every single day. So basically, the time to forgive is yesterday.

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Abraham Lincoln

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September 10, 2020


Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 440

Reading 1 – 1 COR 8:1B-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.

So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols:
we know that there is no idol in the world,
and that there is no God but one.
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth
(there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”),
yet for us there is

one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

But not all have this knowledge.
There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now
that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols,
their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Thus, through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Responsorial Psalm – 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 23-24

R.    (24B) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R.    Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R.    Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old.
R.    Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Alleluia – 1 JN 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

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September 9, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Lectionary: 439

Reading 1 – 1 COR 7:25-31

Brothers and sisters:
In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,
but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
So this is what I think best because of the present distress:
that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife?  Do not seek a separation.
Are you free of a wife?  Then do not look for a wife.
If you marry, however, you do not sin,
nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries;
but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life,
and I would like to spare you that.

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

Responsorial Psalm – 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17

R.    (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father’s house.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord, and you must worship him.
R.    Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters;
her raiment is threaded with spun gold.
In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king;
behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.
R.    Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
The place of your fathers your sons shall have;
     you shall make them princes through all the land.
R.    Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.

Alleluia – LK 6:23AB

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and leap for joy!
Your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:20-26

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.  
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

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September 9, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest
Lectionary: 636A

Reading 1 – IS 58:6-11

Thus says the LORD:
This is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (40:5A) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. (2A) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
Not so, the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or:
R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or:
R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

Alleluia – JN 13:34

R.  Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R.  Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 25:31-40

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine you did for me.'”

Saint Peter Claver, Priest
1580 – 1654

A builder of the Spanish Bridge, he personified respect for human rights

It is commonly taught that human rights were born in the Anglo-Saxon Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with nominally Christian intellectuals, including the founders of the United States, midwifing this screaming baby into the modern Western world where he is now an adult. This thesis holds, furthermore, that the recognition of universal human rights arose precisely due to the rejection of Christianity and the hierarchical Church. In other words, human rights were the obverse of traditional Catholicism. As the Church and its archaic teachings receded, the theory goes, the inherent dignity of individual man moved into the light. The problem with this thesis is twofold: first, it ignores one thousand seven hundred years of history; secondly, most Enlightenment thinkers themselves owned other human beings just like they owned cows, or at least depended on the services of slaves or took advantage of slave women. 

Today’s saint was among numerous Spanish priests, nuns, and lay men and women who built the Spanish Bridge from the Old World to the New. They knew what Jesus taught. They internalized the content of the papal encyclicals condemning the indignity and immorality of slavery. They battled over human rights in royal courts, they risked life and limb confronting their own unscrupulous countrymen in the fields and ports of New Spain, and they sacrificed their personal health to care for slaves. Their intellectual advocacy for, and practical living out of, human rights is the true source of the Western world’s embrace of human rights, not those few Anglo-Saxon intellectuals whose culture raised them to despise a broader tradition of which they were ignorant. A converted former slave owner and fellow Spanish priest named Bartolomé de las Casas laid the intellectual groundwork for people like Peter Claver, today’s saint. Claver practiced, in flesh and blood, what Las Casas had taught a few generations before him. Peter Claver lived human rights. He cared for actual persons at great cost to his own health. He did not write books like Las Casas or just give lip service to human dignity like many colonists. He implemented Catholic social teaching for over forty years, universalizing the concept of neighbor to include everyone, because everyone is made in God’s image and likeness. He epitomized the love of the Gospel. 

Saint Peter Claver was from the region around Barcelona, Spain. He joined the Jesuits and requested to serve in the American missions. Like so many saints, when he left for God, he left for good. He never returned to friends and family in Spain. He was ordained a priest in the port city of Cartagena, Colombia, in 1615, and immediately and from then on dedicated himself to the physical and spiritual care of African slaves. But he didn’t just care for them in the fields or plantations of Colombia. He met every slave ship he possibly could as soon as it dropped anchor in port. Using interpreters, he greeted the traumatized chained men and women with fresh water, ripe fruit, bandages, perfumes, food, medicine, lemons, a broad smile and charitable caresses. When weather prohibited seafaring and he didn’t have to be in port, Peter instructed and baptized whatever slaves were open to it. He baptized more than forty thousand souls. 

It is said that Saint Peter Claver lost his senses of taste and smell due to his long years of breathing obnoxious odors. He called himself the slave of the slaves. He also labored among the Spanish slave traders, attempting to convert them from their evil ways. When visiting his fellow Spaniards, he did not stay with them but in their often rancid slave quarters. This apostle of Cartagena died forgotten, alone, and poor. He was canonized in 1888. 

Saint Peter Claver, you worked among the most traumatized and destitute populations of your time, caring for slaves, because they were made in the image and likeness of God. Help us to understand, protect, and exalt the inherent dignity of every human person, just like you did.

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The Wealth Of Poverty’s Prayer


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 9, 2020

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.” Ours is a marvelous and mysterious Faith which permeates every single aspect of existence. In addition to the Scriptures, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and prayer, God becomes present to us in nature, music, art, literature, and the beauty of human relationship. What is deeply rich about the combination of the Scriptures presented on this Sabbath is the intricate connection between being accountable to one another, listening to God as closely as possible, and the power of prayer. This is most profoundly expressed in the First Beatitude which proclaims the blessing of being poor in spirit. This type of poverty means that we depend on the Lord God for everything and realize that all that we have comes from Him and His holy hand for our benefit especially our ultimate entry into Heaven. Thus, our private prayer, our speech to God will have an enormous impact on our daily conversations with other people in our lives.

Our speech is a powerful tool that can be used both for good and for evil. When properly exercised, it is certainly a blessing. But when it’s not, it can act as a curse with dire consequences for everyone involved. Parents, employers, religious and political leaders carry a great burden that is attached to authority. We must speak the truth but we must know it first. We must address what is wrong and harmful but we must not fall into the role of hypocrite and hater. The only way to ensure this delicate balance is poignantly expressed further in the account of the Beatitudes in the Gospel of the day: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.” Today you and I are called to examine our own prayer life. Do we have one? Does it fuel our choices and decisions at home and work? Does it make a difference?

St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” The beautiful Saint replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.” Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?” She replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.” There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next. Finally, Mother Teresa broke the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”

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Mother’s Day


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 8, 2020

Today we celebrate the birth of Blessed Virgin Mary and there are so many presents to open. Let us begin our festive spiritual birthday celebration. First, from the Catechism: (487) What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines, in turn, its faith in Christ. (490) To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” (Luke 1:28) In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (491) Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. (492) The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:3-4) (493) The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “The All-Holy” and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.” By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

Secondly, the only starting point in every and any discussion about the Blessed Virgin Mary is Jesus Christ, her Son. This must always be the focus of our conversation and understanding of who she is and why she is pivotal and critical to our understanding of Jesus and what He accomplished for all of humanity. It starts with the Garden of Eden described in the first chapters of Genesis when Satan, the leader of all the fallen angels, tempts Eve to first doubt her trust in the Lord and then disobey Him. Both she and Adam were permitted to eat from all the trees in Paradise except ONE. The devil, however, was not to have its’ intended and avaricious victory as the Lord made it clear that this was not the end of the battle for the soul of humanity: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers,” speaking of the ultimate combat between the forces of evil and the offspring of the descendant of Eve, who is Mary, the Mother of Jesus Our Redeemer. Thus, the “Tree of Good and Evil” is transformed into the “Tree of Life,” the wood of the Cross upon which Jesus died to “Free us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray.” (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) So if Jesus is the New Adam (Romans 5:14), then clearly Mary is New Eve. Eve = Mother of all the Living & Mary = Mother of the Church (The Body of Christ to whom she gave birth.)

Thirdly, A Tale of Two Angels: We know who the serpent in the Garden of Eden was. We all read about it in the Book of Revelation: “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.” (Chapter 12:7-9) Let’s take a good look at these two angels: The serpent in the Garden of Eden and the Angel Gabriel. One approached Eve, the other, The Virgin Mary with two very different outcomes. Satan tricked Eve by re-phrasing what God had forbidden Adam and her to approach; Gabriel’s announcement (Annunciation) was met with serious questions from Mary: “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:29) Eve’s response to the fallen angel/demon: Distrust and Disobedience. Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel: Trust and Obedience: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1) The aftermath of Eve’s choice: Death entered the world; the aftermath of Mary’s choice: Life entered the world.

Finally, the significance for our Faith: The Church has long believed and taught that the Virgin Mary had to have been preserved from any stain of sin, just as Eve was. It is also crystal-clear that God had a tremendous plan involving this woman from Nazareth who would have had to have been free from any pretext or pride when being asked to be the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. And her own body was to be free from any of sin’s dark shadows because it would be in the very recess of her human body that Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man would dwell for nine months. How could it be different?

So consider this in your prayers today in commemorating the wonderful birthday of the Mother of Jesus:

1. God has a magnificent plan for me and it started from the beginning of time.
2. He sent His only Son to die for me, both Divine like God and human-like me (thanks to the obedience of the Virgin Mary).
3. I am created to live on this earth to accomplish as much as I can while I am alive, with the great assistance of the Mother of God, “now and the hour of my death.”
4. After I die, I will be made pure and stainless to live in Heaven forever as was Mary to carry Jesus in her womb.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us. Happy Birthday!

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September 8, 2020


Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 636

Reading 1 – MI 5:1-4A

The LORD says:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah,
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
(Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
And the rest of his brethren shall return
to the children of Israel.)
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
And they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Or – Rom 8:28-30

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Responsorial Psalm – 13:6AB, 6C

R.    (Isaiah 61:10)  With delight I rejoice in the Lord.
Though I trusted in your mercy,
let my heart rejoice in your salvation.
R.    With delight I rejoice in the Lord.
Let me sing of the LORD, “He has been good to me.”
R.    With delight I rejoice in the Lord.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise;
from you rose the sun of Justice, Christ our God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 1:1-16, 18-23 OR 1:18-23

The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”

or

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”

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Sabbath As Gift


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 7, 2020

“On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.” In the Gospel today, we witnessed yet another pathetic example of hypocrisy taken to its unusual conclusion. The scribes and Pharisees would rather a man suffer from a horribly deformed hand than to be cured on the Sabbath. This is because they prefer to maintain a deformed view of reality and others suffer who do not fit into their constructs and mindsets. You see, the Sabbath is much more than law, but truly a gift of God’s care for all of us. He rested on the seventh day not out of fatigue, but to show how a fruitful life should be lived, with enough time for re-creation and renewal. Our redemption from sin and death is truly the work of God and not us. He has literally “done all the work.” Now, for this glorious break, He wants us to enjoy!

You and I unfortunately tend to rush through our busy week, maybe offering God a fleeting wave or a passing prayer. Sunday, the Sabbath, however, calls us to true and thought-out decisions with real intention. We are simply to stop from all the other things we had to do or must do or have to do, and spend quality time with Him and focus attention on Him. When we decide to obey, that is, listen to the Fourth Commandment, we become aware of the astounding and comforting truth that we really belong to God. It is not the Sabbath that we worship but the One who has initiated the Sabbath as we swim in a sort of a memorial in time, a useful tool to help us focus our attention on our awesome destiny. It has a great chance of avoiding spiritual withering within us and awakens the great promise of our Faith: “It is Christ in you, the hope for glory.”

On Sundays, try to remember this Reflection. Consider taking a different approach to the Sabbath and let God be at peace with you and for you. Cut out any unnecessary activity and focus on your hope of Heaven. Then perhaps we may truly appreciate the blessing of St. John for us as cited from his Gospel in the Alleluia Verse of today: “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.”

“The gift of the Sabbath must be treasured. Blessed are you who honour this day.” Lailah Gifty Akita

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September 7, 2020


Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 437

Reading 1 – 1 COR 5:1-8

Brothers and sisters:
It is widely reported that there is immorality among you,
and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans–
a man living with his father’s wife.
And you are inflated with pride.
Should you not rather have been sorrowful?
The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.
I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit,
have already, as if present,
pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed,
in the name of our Lord Jesus:
when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit
with the power of the Lord Jesus,
you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh,
so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not appropriate.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Responsorial Psalm – 5:5-6, 7, 12

R.    (9) Lead me in your justice, Lord.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
You hate all evildoers.
R.    Lead me in your justice, Lord.
You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
     the LORD abhors.
R.    Lead me in your justice, Lord.
But let all who take refuge in you
be glad and exult forever.
Protect them, that you may be the joy
of those who love your name.
R.    Lead me in your justice, Lord.

Alleluia – JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

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September 6, 2020


Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 127

Reading 1 – EZ 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 – ROM 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Alleluia – 2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

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Change The Earth


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 6, 2020

“If I tell the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” Our speech is a powerful gift that God has given to all humanity. It describes how we live and love and develop relationships with the world and all those who will populate our years and create masterpieces with their friendship and care for us. Our words can also betray us and there is in the present world much temptation to lie and damage the truth and cause pain even to those who want to love us and care for us. We could say that in some ways, our speech is a two-edged sword in that it can create or destroy depending on the integrity of the one who utters the host of words in a given lifetime. The Scriptures today underscore how important not only our speech is but how powerful our silence can be especially in the face of evil and apathy.

“Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” In the Gospel of today, Jesus also addresses the deep and dynamic power of our words. He goes beyond the legal aspects of vows and promises and makes sure that even our daily conversations, especially our casual conversations, are imbued with truth and light and the desire to serve the truth. Otherwise, evil will thrive and not because of the bad people we encounter but because and most due to the good people in our lives who do and say nothing. Silence may be golden, but sometimes it is yellow (cowardice).

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.” William Faulkner

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Fall In Love With God


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 5, 2020

“Learn from myself and Apollos not to go beyond what is written, so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over against another.” The world is filled with tremendous goodness and terrible evil. This much is painfully, yet hopefully clear. It all began with the events we have come to know as Original Sin. The condition in which we have found ourselves has deeply affected every stratum of our human experience bringing death and darkness into the world but which has joyfully necessitated Jesus Christ to come into our world to save us from our very selves. And the greatest news ever is that Jesus is right here, right now, for each one of us!

“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” However and even more pointedly, the Gospel of today points us to another condition of spiritual infection that is all around us. The pettiness and the self-inflated importance of the Pharisees remind us of those who have and exercise authority over us but under the lure and seduction of power on every scale which is immense depending on the degree of the power one possesses. The abuse of authority has inflicted great harm upon individuals and societies and has harmed the possibility of peace and forgiveness in our world. Jesus cuts through the very heart of the problem in the Gospel today which should ring loudly in everyone one of us no matter what state of life we occupy. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, of our days and nights, and of all authority that ever existed over human beings.

One of the basic and forgone conclusions we can draw from all of this is really quite simple: Everyone has a God. There is a single place at the center of the human heart and there is only one entity that can dwell there. If it is not the God who has been revealed to us by his Son, Jesus, then something or someone else is there in that space. It can be power, fame, money, or any other hidden vestige of selfishness, but it is certainly not the One True God whom we adore and love. No, to find complete happiness in this life that will last, even unto forever, we must fall in love with God. Consider again the words of Pedro Arrupe, SJ:

“Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.”

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September 5, 2020


Sunday Vigil Mass

Saturday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 436

Reading 1 – 1 COR 4:6B-15

Brothers and sisters:
Learn from myself and Apollos not to go beyond what is written,
so that none of you will be inflated with pride
in favor of one person over against another.
Who confers distinction upon you?
What do you possess that you have not received?
But if you have received it,
why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?
You are already satisfied; you have already grown rich;
you have become kings without us!
Indeed, I wish that you had become kings,
so that we also might become kings with you.

For as I see it, God has exhibited us Apostles as the last of all,
like people sentenced to death,
since we have become a spectacle to the world,
to angels and men alike.
We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ;
we are weak, but you are strong;
you are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty,
we are poorly clad and roughly treated,
we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands.
When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
when slandered, we respond gently.
We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all,
to this very moment.

I am writing you this not to shame you,
but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Even if you should have countless guides to Christ,
yet you do not have many fathers,
for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.

Responsorial Psalm – 145:17-18, 19-20, 21

R.    (18) The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R.    The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him,
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD keeps all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
R.    The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R.    The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Alleluia – JOHN 14:6

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 6:1-5

While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,
his disciples were picking the heads of grain,
rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.
Some Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

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September 4, 2020


Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 435

Reading 1 – 1 COR 4:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Now it is of course required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.

Responsorial Psalm – 37:3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40

R.    (39A) The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Trust in the LORD and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will grant you your heart’s requests.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Commit to the LORD your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Turn from evil and do good,
that you may abide forever;
For the LORD loves what is right,
and forsakes not his faithful ones.
Criminals are destroyed
and the posterity of the wicked is cut off.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
R.    The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.

Alleluia – JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 5:33-39

The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers,
and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same;
but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
then they will fast in those days.”
And he also told them a parable.
“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.
Otherwise, he will tear the new
and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

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Obvious Instructions


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 4, 2020

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson went on a camping trip. After sharing a good meal and a bottle of fine French wine, they retire to their tent for the night. At about 3:00 AM, Holmes nudges Watson and asks, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?” Watson said, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes asks, “And, what does that tell you?” Watson replies, “Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, it tells me that it’s about 3:00 AM. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?”
Holmes retorts, “Someone stole our tent.”

“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.” Perhaps the most obvious hurdles Christians face in following the Lord are the many distractions that soon become almost expected and then ignored. They come in all shapes and sizes from the most usual places to the most surprising places. The issue here is how to spot the obvious signs and wonders which Jesus places right in front of our eyes. The obvious instructions concerning sewing patches or storing wine are funny, in a way, but they point to something quite telling. If we truly want to be happy and find our way to Heaven, we know we can call out to Jesus and He will hear us but when He answers will He find the same conditions in our souls that led us to fall and lose faith? There must be external change to match the internal desire for transformation: “Commit to the LORD your way; trust in him, and he will act. He will make justice dawn for you like the light.”

So as we move through this first Friday of the month, look around: The blessings, the crosses, the tears and laughter, and the ability to just breathe. What do you see? Isn’t it obvious?

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September 3, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 434

Reading 1 – 1 COR 3:18-23

Brothers and sisters:
Let no one deceive himself.
If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:

God catches the wise in their own ruses,

and again:

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Responsorial Psalm – 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R.    (1) To the Lord belongs the earth and all that fills it.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R.    To the Lord belongs the earth and all that fills it.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R.    To the Lord belongs the earth and all that fills it.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R.    To the Lord belongs the earth and all that fills it.

Alleluia – MT 4:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come after me, says the Lord,
and I will make you fishers of men.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

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How Deep Is Your Love?


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 3, 2020

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” In both the Old and New Testaments, the references to fish and fishing are many and significant. The very fact that the majority of Apostles whom Jesus called to found and build the Church were fishermen is not a casual reference. There are profound reasons that make this quite significant for our own understanding of the Bible and of the Church itself. This also has implications concerning our own individual call to be good and faithful followers of Christ in this world. Let’s explore a few of them:

1. Fishing takes patience. Good things, like waiting for the fish to bite takes time, and this is certainly the case with our spiritual lives. Overcoming harmful habits and unhealthy attitudes means that we should be patient with ourselves first before moving to evangelize our family and friends.
2. Fishing requires humility. The proverbial description of “the one that got away” and the exaggerated size of the alleged near-catch humorously illustrates the need for humility out on the water and for every Christian out in the world. For the followers of Jesus, there are no more bad days, but certainly, some days are better than others.
3. Fishing involves a team of people. Keep in mind the kind of fishing that is referenced in the Scriptures. It is not the sole figure on the lake with one rod waiting patiently for the long-awaited prize for supper. No, rather the kind of fishing in both the Old and New Testaments involved using nets, large nets, that required a team of people to bring in the haul. This is clearly good when we think that it takes a community gathering of one mind to effectively bring the Gospel to a displaced and broken world.
4. Fishing feeds people. In early Christian churches, the Greek word for fish (ichthus) came to be interpreted as a sort of code word for the name of Jesus. You see, when you take the first letter of each of the Greek words for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” they spell “ichthus.” Although we cannot be sure when this identification first began or where it was first introduced, the fish has certainly become a standard Christian symbol. Perfect. We fish for Jesus, we fish with Him, and we bring Jesus to a hungering and starving people, all the while we become closer and closer. “’Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”

“Jesus, like any good fisherman, first catches the fish then cleans them.” Mark Potter

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September 3, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church


For the Readings on Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 635

Reading 1 – 2 COR 4:1-2, 5-7

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things;
not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God,
but by the open declaration of the truth
we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 7-8, 10

R.    (3) Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R.    Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Alleluia – JN 15:15B

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 22:24-30

An argument broke out among the Apostles
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
Jesus said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor
c. 540 – 604

A gifted nobleman serves Rome, becomes a monk, and then a consequential pope

When your salad is awesome, your car amazing, and your internet connection is great, there’s a problem. Overused superlatives diminish their own meaning and crowd the linguistic space reserved for things which are truly awesomeamazing, and great. Today’s saint sent the large missionary party that trekked across Europe and converted Saxon England to Catholicism, establishing a culture that endured for almost a millennium. That’sawesome! He wrote a theological work that was used for centuries by thousands of bishops to help them become more fatherly pastors. That’s amazing!

Gregorian chant is named after him; he is one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church; he was the first pope to use “Servant of the Servants of God” as a papal title; he alone preserved the memory of Saint Benedict with a biography; he made revisions to the content and structure of the Mass which are part of the liturgy until today; and he was the most impactful pope of the long span of centuries from the 500s to the 1000s. That’s great! These accomplishments thus truly merit the title Great with which Saint Gregory has been justly crowned by history

Pope Saint Gregory the Great was born into a noble Roman family with a history of service to Church and empire. The family home was perched on one of Rome’s seven ancient hills, the Caelian, which Via San Gregorio still cuts through today. His father was a Roman senator, although at a time when Italy was in decline and the imperial government was based in Constantinople. Gregory received an education in keeping with his class and became the Prefect of Rome, its highest civil position, in his early thirties. In 579 he was chosen by the pope as his emissary to the emperor’s court in Constantinople, primarily to seek the emperor’s assistance in protecting Italy from the Lombard tribes that had long ago overrun her. 

Gregory was elected the bishop of his home city in 590 and was thus obligated to abandon the quiet life of a monk, which he had been living with some friends for a few years in a small monastery near his family home. In numerous letters which have fortunately been preserved, Pope Gregory, soon after his election, bemoans the loss of his monastic solitude, peaceful recollection, and life of prayer. But he had only been a monk for a few short years. Gregory’s skills as an administrator, honed in his long years of prior civil and church leadership, proved valuable when he sat on the Chair of Saint Peter. He drew into the orbit of papal authority the bishops of France and Spain who had, until then, been operating somewhat autonomously. He secured the allegiance of Italy’s northern tribes to orthodox Catholicism, compelling them to abandon the counterfeit Arian Christianity they had held for centuries. And Gregory made the fateful decision to personally organize and promote the great, and highly successful, missionary journey of Saint Augustine of Canterbury to the Kingdom of Kent in England.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s legacy in liturgy, pastoral doctrine, and miracles left a deep mark on medieval Europe and beyond. The Council of Trent in 1562 mandated the suppression of votive Mass cycles for the dead or for any other need. But the Council Fathers made one exception: The Mass of Saint Gregory, a cycle of thirty Masses on thirty consecutive days for the release of a soul from purgatory, were not suppressed. Almost a thousand years after his death, Gregory’s memory was too venerable to suppress. Gregory was an encourager of the encouragers, a bishop who modeled, strengthened, and explained how and why his fellow bishops should be fathers first and lords second. 

Pope Saint Gregory the Great, your example of holy leadership, of scholarly practicality, of balance between universal and local concerns, helps all Christians to weigh their many duties in a proper balance and to choose correctly what matters most to God and their own salvation.
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Fever Pitch


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 2, 2020

Each one of us woke up this morning and began this day with literally a million different possibilities as to how our lives would unravel as each minute ticked away. For some, it was a bright and glorious beginning, while for others, problems made their way onto our patch almost immediately. However, one thing is for certain. We all have the same Shepherd: Jesus, and are all in fact His loved ones: “For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” Every single moment of every single day, we belong to Him and He is always watching over us. That’s the kind of love He has for us which is why we can echo the words of the Psalmist today in the very depths of our hearts: “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.”

In the Gospel today, Jesus’ healing of the fever ravishing Simon’s mother-in-law and his confrontation with the demons tells us all right here and right now that He has the power and the love to do the same for each one of us regardless of where we are, or what our station of life may be. These particular Scriptures call out to do a number of things today:

1. Acknowledge that He is present to you
2. Lift and present to Him all the matters and people you have to confront today, especially sickness
3. Believe both in His power and love
4. Wait patiently

Perhaps we could say today that we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we must confront sickness and evil on a daily basis with numbing regularity. The good news is that we are not alone in these confrontations. We carry with us the One has defeated both now and forever.

“Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. The message isn’t new, but we haven’t learned to live it yet.” Peace Pilgrim

“The Cross of Christ may have overcome evil, but it did not overcome unfairness. For that, Easter is required.” Philip Yancey

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September 2, 2020


Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 433

Reading 1 – 1 COR 3:1-9

Brothers and sisters,
I could not talk to you as spiritual people,
but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ.
I fed you milk, not solid food,
because you were unable to take it.
Indeed, you are still not able, even now,
for you are still of the flesh.
While there is jealousy and rivalry among you,
are you not of the flesh, and walking
according to the manner of man?
Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another,
“I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?

What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul?
Ministers through whom you became believers,
just as the Lord assigned each one.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth.
He who plants and he who waters are one,
and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.
For we are God’s co-workers;
you are God’s field, God’s building.

Responsorial Psalm – 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21

R.    (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R.    Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Alleluia – LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 4:38-44

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases
brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.”
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, “To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent.”
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

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Evil Is Not Sustainable


Reflection on Mass Reading for September 1, 2020

“What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” This Gospel passage is especially interesting because it is the first in Luke where we encounter demonic possession. The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits that sought entry into everyone. Evil spirits that could often enter through food or drink. All illness was caused by them. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, of dumbness, of fever; spirits which took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and of deceit and of uncleanness. It was such a spirit that Jesus exorcised here. “Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!’”

However dramatic or dark, this topic of confronting evil and evil spirits is good for each and every one of us because every day is a challenge and struggle to live this life and walk this walk. We live in a world where darkness and terror can overcome us unless we hold the Light of Christ within us, we will indeed be swallowed up in despair. Thus, the battle of light and darkness is not just outside of us, it is also within us. And we have Jesus especially in the Eucharist to help us move forward in faith. Evil is not sustainable because it has already been defeated. It is now up to us to join the winning, victorious team.

Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, free from me all that is not of You and cleanse my soul from all deceit, worry, and shame. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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September 1, 2020


Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 432

Reading 1 – 1 COR 2:10B-16

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
Among men, who knows what pertains to the man
except his spirit that is within?
Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.
We have not received the spirit of the world
but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.
And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom,
but with words taught by the Spirit,
describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.

Now the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God,
for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it,
because it is judged spiritually.
The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything
but is not subject to judgment by anyone.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm – 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13AB, 13CD-14

R.    (17) The Lord is just in all his ways.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R.    The Lord is just in all his ways.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R.    The Lord is just in all his ways.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R.    The Lord is just in all his ways.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R.    The Lord is just in all his ways.

Alleluia – LK 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

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