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Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 01-21-13, M, St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
USCCb.org/RNAB ^ | 01-21-13 | Revised New American Bible

Posted on 01/20/2013 7:45:36 PM PST by Salvation

January 21, 2013

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

 

Reading 1 Heb 5:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days when he 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 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R.(4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Gospel Mk 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”



TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; ordinarytime; prayer; saints
For your reading, reflection, faith-sharing, comments, questions, discussion.

1 posted on 01/20/2013 7:45:44 PM PST by Salvation
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2 posted on 01/20/2013 7:50:54 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Hebrews 5:1-10

Christ Has Been Made High Priest by God the Father


[1] For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of
men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. [2] He can deal gently
with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. [3] Be-
cause of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of
the people. [4] And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by
God, just as Aaron was.

[5] So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appoin-
ted by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; [6]
as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of
Melchizedek.”

[7] In the days of the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplica-
tions, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and
he was heard for his godly fear. [8] Although he was a Son, he learned obedience
through what he suffered; [9] and being made perfect he became the source of
eternal salvation to all who obey him, [10] being designated by God a high priest
after the order of Melchizedek.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-10. The central theme of the epistle, broached in 2:17 and taken up again in 4:
14-15, is discussed from here up to the start of chapter 10 — the theme of Christ
as high priest, the high priest who really can free us from all sin. In fact, Christ is
the only perfect Priest: other priests—in both natural religions and the Jewish re-
ligion — are only prefigurements of Christ. The first thing to be emphasized, be-
cause the writer is addressing people of Jewish background, is that Christ’s priest-
hood is on a higher plane than that of the priests of the Old Law. However, the
argument applies not only to the priesthood of Aaron, to whose family all Israelite
priests belonged, but also, indirectly, to all forms of priesthood before Christ. But
there is a basic difference, in that whereas other priests were chosen by men,
Aaron was chosen by God. Sacred Scripture introduces him as Moses’ brother
(cf. Ex 6:20), acting as his interpreter to Pharaoh (because Moses was “slow of
speech”: Ex 4: 10; cf. 7:1-2) and joining him to lead the people out of Egypt (cf.
Ex 4:27-30). After the Israelites left Egypt, God himself instituted the priesthood
of Aaron to minister and carry out divine worship at the tabernacle and later at
the temple in Jerusalem (cf. Ex 28:1-5).

Divine intervention, therefore, brought to a close the period when sacrifice was
offered by the head of the family or the chief of the tribe and when no specific
calling or external ordination rite was connected with priesthood. Thus, for exam-
ple, in the Book of Genesis we read that Cain, and Abel, themselves offered sac-
rifices (cf. Gen 4:35), as did Noah after coming safely through the flood (cf. Gen
8:20); and the patriarchs often offered sacrifices to God in adoration or thanksgi-
ving or to renew their Covenant—for example, Abraham (cf. Gen 12:8; 15:8-17;
22:1-13) and Jacob (cf. Gen 26:25; 33:20), etc.

Although for a considerable time after the institution of the Aaron priesthood,
sacrifices continued to be offered also by private individuals — for example, in the
period of the Judges, the sacrifice of Gideon (Judg 6:18,25-26) or that of Sam-
son’s parents (Judg 13:15-20) — gradually the convictions grew that to be a priest
a person had to have a specific vocation, one which was not given to anyone out-
side males of the line of Aaron (cf. Judg 17:7-13), whom God had chosen from
out of all the people of Israel, identifying him by the sign of his rod sprouting buds
(Num 17:16-24). God himself meted out severe punishment to Korah and his
sons when they tried to set themselves up as rivals of Aaron: they were devoured
by fire from heaven (cf. Num 16); and it was specified in Mosaic legislation time
and time again that only the sons of Aaron could act as priests (cf. Num 3:10;
17:5; 18:7). This priesthood offered the sacrifices of Mosaic worship—the burnt
offerings, cereal offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (cf. Lev 6). To the de-
scendants of Aaron, assisted by the Levites, was entrusted also the care of the
tabernacle and the protection of the ark of the Covenant. They received their mi-
nistry and had it confirmed by the offering of sacrifice and by anointing of the
man’s head and hands with oil (Ex 29; Lev 8-9; Num 3:3). For all these reasons
Hebrew priests were honored and revered by the people and regarded (not without
reason, because God had ordained them) as on a much higher plane than other
priests particularly those of the peoples of Canaan, the priests of Baal, for exam-
ple. In Christ’s time the high priest was the highest religious authority in Israel;
his words were regarded as oracular statements, and his decisions could have
important political repercussions.

However, Christ came with the very purpose of taking this ancient institution and
transforming it into a new, eternal priesthood. Every Christian priest is, as it were,
Christ’s instrument or an extension of his sacred humanity. Christian priests do
not act in their own name, nor are they mere representatives of the people: they
act in the name of God. “Here we have the priest’s identity: he is direct and daily
instrument of the saving grace which Christ has won for us” (St. J. Escriva, “In
Love with the Church”, 39). It is really Christ who is acting through them by
means of their words, gestures etc. All of this means that Christian priesthood
cannot be separated from the eternal priesthood of Christ. This extension of God’s
providence (in the form of the Old Testament priesthood and the priesthood insti-
tuted by Christ in the New Testament and the mission entrusted to New Testa-
ment priests) should lead us to love and honor the priesthood irrespective of the
human defects and shortcomings of these ministers of God: “To love God and
not venerate his Priests...is not possible” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 74).

1a. These words provide a very good short definition of what every priest is.

“The office proper to a priest”, St Thomas Aquinas points out, “is to be a media-
tor between God and the people, inasmuch as he bestows divine things on the
people (he is called “sacerdos” (priest), which means ‘a giver of sacred things’,
“sacra dans” [...]), and again inasmuch as he offers the people’s prayer to God
and in some way makes satisfaction to God for their sins” (”Summa Theologiae”,
III, q.22, a.1).

In this passage of the letter we can detect an echo of the description of Aaron in
the Book of Sirach: “He chose him out of all the living to offer sacrifice to the Lord,
incense and a pleasing odor as a memorial portion, to make atonement for the
people” (Sir 45:16). Four elements characterize the office of the high priest (the
text speaks of the “high” priest in the strict sense, but it is applicable to all
priests —1) his special dignity, because although he is a man he has been spe-
cially chosen by God; 2) the purpose of his mission, which is the good of man-
kind (”to act on behalf of men”); 3) the “material” side of his office, that is, public
divine worship; 4) the specific acts he must perform, the offering of sacrifice at
appropriate times.

In the specific case of priesthood instituted by God—such as that of Aaron or the
new priesthood instituted by Christ—the calling (”taken” or “chosen” from among
men) is not simply an influence the person feels interiorly, or a desire to be a
priest: its divine origin is confirmed by nomination by the proper authority, and
by official consecration.

1b. A priest is “chosen from among men”, that is, he should possess a human
nature. This is a further sign of God’s mercy: to bring about our salvation he uses
someone accessible to us, one who shares our human condition, “so that man
might have someone like himself to have recourse to” (St Thomas, “Commentary
on Heb, ad loc.”). These words also indicate the extent of God’s kindness be-
cause they remind us that the divine Redeemer not only offered himself and
made satisfaction for the sins of all, but desired that “the priestly life which the
divine Redeemer had begun in his mortal body by his prayers and sacrifice
(should not cease). He willed it to continue unceasingly through the ages in his
mystical body, which is the Church; and therefore he instituted a visible priest-
hood to offer everywhere a clean oblation (Mal 1:11), so that all men all over the
world, being diverted from sin, might serve God conscientiously, and of their own
free will” (Pius XII, “Mediator Dei”, 1).

He is “chosen from among men” also in the sense that he is given special con-
secration which is some way marks him off from the rest of the people of God.
St John Chrysostom comments, recalling Jesus triple question to Peter after the
Resurrection (cf. Jn 21:15-17): “When he asked Peter if he loved him, he did not
do so because he needed to know whether his disciple loved him, but because
he wanted to show how great his own love was; thus, when he says, ‘Who then
is the faithful and prudent servant’, he does not say this because he does not
know the answer, but in order to show us how unique and wonderful an honor it
is, as can be deduced from the rewards: ‘he will place him over all his goods.’
And he concludes that the priest ought to be outstanding in holiness (”De Sacer-
dotio”, II, 1-2).

“The priests of the New Testament”, Vatican II reminds us, “are, by their vocation
to ordination, set apart in some way in the midst of the people of God, but this is
not in order that they should be separated from that people or from anyone, but
that they should be completely consecrated to the task for which God chose
them” (”Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 3). This calling, then, constitutes a distinction
but not a separation because it is indissolubly linked to a specific mission: a
priest is “chosen from among men” but for the purpose of acting “on behalf of
men in relation to God”. In this delicate balance between divine call and spiritual
mission to men lies the essence of priesthood. Christians, therefore, should ne-
ver view a priest as “just another person”. “They want to find in the priest the vir-
tues appropriate to any Christian and even any upright man—understanding, jus-
tice, commitment to work (priestly work, in this case), charity, good manners,
social refinement. But the faithful also want to be able to recognize clearly the
priestly character: they expect the priest to pray, not to refuse to administer the
sacraments; they expect him to be open to everyone and not set himself up to
take charge of people or become an aggressive leader of human factions, of
whatever shade (cf. “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 6). They expect him to bring love
and devotion to the celebration of Mass, to sit in the confessional, to console the
sick and the troubled; to teach sound doctrine to children and adults, to preach
the Word of God and no mere human science which—no matter how well he may
know it—is not the knowledge that saves and brings eternal life; they expect him
to give counsel and be charitable to those in need” (St. J. Escriva, “In Love with
the Church”, 42).

Priests “could not be the servants of Christ unless they were witnesses and dis-
pensers of a life other than that of this earth. On the other hand, they would be
powerless to serve men if they remained aloof from their life and circumstances”
(”Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 3). In this connection, Pope John Paul II has made the
following appeal: “Yes, you are chosen from among men, given to Christ by the
Father, to be in the world, “in the heart of society”. You are appointed to act on
behalf of men (Heb 5:1). The priesthood is the sacrament whereby the Church
is to be seen as the society of the people of God; it is the ‘social’ sacrament.
Priests should ‘convoke’ each of the communities of the people of God, around
them but not for themselves—for Christ!” (”Homily at an Ordination of Priests”, 15
June 1980).

The specific function of the priest has, then, been clearly identified: he is con-
cerned about his brethren but he is not here to solve temporal problems; his role
is only “in relation to God”. “Christian ministerial priesthood is different from any
other priesthood in that it is not an office to which someone is appointed by others
to intercede with God on their behalf; it is a mission to which a man is called by
God (Heb 5: 1-10; 7:24; 9: 11-28) to be towards others a living sign of the pre-
sence of Christ, the only Mediator (1 Tim 2:5), Head and Shepherd of his people
[...]. In other words, Christian priesthood is essentially (this is the only possible
way it can be understood) an eminently sacred mission, both in its origin (Christ)
and in its content (the divine mystery) and by the very manner in which it is con-
ferred (a sacrament)” (A. del Portillo, “On Priesthood”, pp. 59f).

2-3. From the moral qualities a priest needs, these verses single out mercy and
compassion, which lead him, on the one hand, to be gentle to sinners and, at the
same time, to desire to make personal reparation for their sins. The Latin transla-
tion of v. 2a puts the emphasis on the fact that the priest shares in suffering for
sin: he can “suffer along with” (”aeque condolere”) but in just measure on seeing
those who go astray, and, imitating Christ, he can himself perform some of the
penance those sinners should be doing. The original word translated here as
“deal gently” recalls the profound, but serene, sorrow which Abraham felt when
Sarah died (cf. Gen 23:2) and at the same time it alludes to the need for forbea-
rance, generosity and understanding: a priest must be a person who, while rejec-
ting sin, is understanding to the sinner and conscious that it may take him time
to mend his ways. He is also inclined to put the sinner’s intentions in the best
light (cf. Gal 6:1): people do not always sin deliberately; they can sin out of ig-
norance (that is, not realizing the gravity of their actions) and, more often than
not, out of weakness.

The Old Testament makes a clear distinction between sin committed unwittingly
(cf. Lev 4:2-27; Num 14:24, 27-29) and sins of rebelliousness (cf. Num 15:22-31;
Deut 17:12). Further on (cf. Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-27; 12:17), the letter will again refer
to the gravity of sins committed out of malice. Here, however, it is referring to sin,
whether grave or not, committed out of weakness. “Ignorant” and “wayward” are
almost synonymous, for a person who sins out of ignorance is described in He-
brews by a word which means “he who goes astray, he who does not know the
way”. The basic reason why a priest should be understanding and compassio-
nate is his awareness of his own weakness. Thus, the Church puts these words
on his lips in Eucharistic Prayer I: “’nobis quoque peccatoribus’—for ourselves,
too, sinners” (cf. Wis 9:5-6). A priest is compassionate and understanding be-
cause “he himself is beset with weakness”. The word translated as “beset” con-
tains the idea of surrounded or covered by or wrapped as if in a cloak. Pope Pius
XI wrote: “When we see a man exercising this faculty (of forgiving sins), we can-
not but repeat (not out of pharisaical scandal, but with reverent amazement)
those words, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ (Lk 7:49). It is the Man-God,
who had and has ‘authority on earth to forgive sins’ (Lk 5:24), and has chosen to
communicate it to his priests, and thereby with the generosity of divine mercy to
meet the human conscience’s need of purification. Hence the great consolation
the guilty man receives who experiences remorse and contritely hears the priest
tell him in God’s name, ‘I absolve you from your sins.’ The fact that he hears this
said by someone who himself will need to ask another priest to speak the same
words to him, does not debase God’s merciful gift: it enhances it, for the hand of
God who works this wonder is seen (as operating) by means of a frail creature”
(Pius XII, “Ad Catholici Sacerdotii”).

3. Everyone, including the priest, is a sinner. In the Old Testament rites for the
Day of Atonement (”Yom Kippur”), the high priest, before entering the Holy of
Holies, offered a sin-offering for his own sins (cf. Lev 16:3, 6, 11; Heb 9:6-14); so
too the priests of the New Testament have a duty to be holy, to reject sin, to ask
for forgiveness of their own sins, and to intercede for sinners.

The model the priest should always have before him is Jesus Christ, the eternal
high priest. “The main motive force actuating a priest should be the determination
to attain the closest union with the divine Redeemer [...]. He should continually
keep Christ before his eyes. Christ’s commands, actions and example he should
follow most assiduously, in the conviction that it is not enough for him to submit
to the duties by which the faithful are bound, but that he must at a daily increa-
sing pace pursue the perfection of life which the high dignity of a priest demands”
(Pius XII, “Menti Nostrae”, 7). But, one might object, Christ never had any defect,
never sinned, because his human nature was perfect and totally holy: is he not
therefore too perfect a model for men who when it comes down to it are sinners?
The answer is, No, not at all, for he himself said, “I have given you an example,
that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15). Besides, when the text
(v. 2) refers to “weakness” this may refer to two things — the weakness of human
nature (of man as creature), and the imperfection resulting from his faults and his
passions. The former kind of defect is one Christ shares with us; the second is
one he does not.

For this very reason, in the case of the priest, consciousness of his sins, plus
his conviction that he has been called by Christ, moves him to be very committed
to his apostolic ministry of reconciliation and penance; and in the first instance
priests perform this ministry for one another. “Priests, who are consecrated by
the anointing of the Holy Spirit and sent by Christ, mortify the works of the flesh
in themselves and dedicate themselves completely to the service of people” (Va-
tican II, “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 12). As Pope John Paul II has stressed, “the
priest’s celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the other sacraments,
his pastoral zeal, his relationship with the faithful, his communion with his bro-
ther priests, his collaboration with his bishop, his life of prayer — in a word, the
whole of his priestly existence — suffers an inexorable decline if by negligence
or for some other reason he fails to receive the sacrament of Penance at regular
intervals and in a spirit of genuine faith and devotion. If a priest were no longer to
go to confession or properly confess his sins, his priestly being and his priestly
action would feel the effect of this very soon, and it would also be noticed by the
community of which he was the pastor.

“But I also add that even in order to be a good and effective minister of Penance
he priest needs to have recourse to the source of grace and holiness present in
this sacrament. We priests, on the basis of our personal experience, can certain-
ly say that, the more careful we are to receive the sacrament of Penance and to
approach it frequently and with good dispositions, the better we fulfill our own mi-
nistry as confessors and ensure that our penitents benefit from it. And on the
other hand this ministry would lose much of its effectiveness if in some way we
were to stop being good penitents. Such is the internal logic of this great sacra-
ment. It invites all of us priests of Christ to pay renewed attention to our personal
confession” (”Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia”, 31).

What the Pope says here ultimately stems from the fact that “as ministers of the
sacred mysteries, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass, priests act in a special
way in the person of Christ who gave himself as a victim to sanctify men” (”Pres-
byterorum Ordinis”, 13).

In this way, “Christ the shepherd is present in the priest so as continually to ac-
tualize the universal call to conversion and repentance which prepares for the co-
ming of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 4:17). He is present in order to make men
understand that forgiveness of sins, the reconciliation of the soul and God, can-
not be the outcome of a monologue, no matter how keen a person’s capacity for
reflection and self-criticism. He reminds us that no one, alone, can calm his own
conscience; that the contrite heart must submit its sins to the Church — institution,
to the man-priest, who in the sacrament of Penance is a permanent objective wit-
ness to the radical need which fallen humanity has of the man-God, the only Just
One, the only Justifier” (A. del Potillo, “On Priesthood”, p. 62).

7-9. This brief summary of Christ’s life stresses his perfect obedience to the
Father’s will, his intense prayer and his sufferings and redemptive death. As in
the hymn to Christ in Philippians 2:6-11, the point is made that Christ set his po-
wer aside and, despite his being the only-begotten Son of God, out of obedience
chose to die on the cross. His death was a true self-offering expressed in that
“loud voice” when he cried out to the Father just before he died, “into thy hands
I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). But although Jesus’ obedience was most obvious
on Calvary, it was a constant feature of “the days of his flesh”: he obeyed Mary
and Joseph, seeing in them the authority of the heavenly Father; he was obedient
to political and religious authorities; and he always obeyed the Father, identifying
himself with him to such a degree that he could say, “I have glorified thee on
earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do [...]. All mine
are thine and thine are mine” (Jn 17:4, 10).

The passage also points to Jesus prayer, the high point of which occurred in
Gethsemane on the eve of his passion. The reference to “loud cries and suppli-
cations” recalls the Gospel account of his suffering: “And being in an agony he
prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling
down upon the ground” (Lk 22:44).

Hebrews 5:7-9 is probably referring not so much to his prayer in the Garden, still
less to any prayer of Christ asking to be delivered from death, but to our Lord’s
constant prayer for the salvation of mankind. “When the Apostle speaks of these
supplications and cries of Jesus,” St John Chrysostom comments, “he does not
mean prayers which he made on his own behalf but prayers for those who would
later believe in him. And, due to the fact that the Jews did not yet have the eleva-
ted concept of Christ that they ought to have had, St Paul says that ‘he was heard’,
just as the Lord himself told his disciples, to console them, ‘If you loved me, you
would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I’
[...]. Such was the respect and reverence shown by the Son, that God the Father
could not but take note and heed his Son and his prayers” (”Hom. on Heb”, 11).

7. “In the days of his flesh”, a reference to the Incarnation. “Flesh” is synony-
mous with mortal life; this is a reference to Christ’s human nature—as in the pro-
logue to St John’s Gospel (elf. Jn 1:14) and many other places (Heb 2:14; Gal
2:20; Phil 1:22-24; 1 Pet 4:1-2) including where mention is made of Jesus being
a servant and capable of suffering (cf. Phil 2:8; Mt 20:27-28). Jesus’ human nature
“in the days of his flesh” is quite different from his divine nature and also from his
human nature after its glorification (cf. 1 Cor 15:50). “It must be said that the word
‘flesh’ is occasionally used to refer to the weakness of the flesh, as it says in 1
Cor 15:50: ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’. Christ had a weak
and mortal flesh. Therefore it says in the text, ‘In the days of his flesh’, referring
to when he was living in a flesh which seemed to be like sinful flesh, but which
was sinless” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on Heb”, 5, 1). So, this text
underlines our Lord’s being both Victim and Priest.

“Prayers and supplications”: very fitting in a priest. The two words mean much
the same; together they are a form of words which used to be employed in peti-
tions to the king or some important official. The plural tells us that there were lots
of these petitions. The writer seems to have in mind the picture of the Redeemer
who “going a little farther fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).
St Thomas comments on this description of Christ’s prayer as follows: “His ac-
tion was indeed one of offering prayers and supplications, that is, a spiritual sacri-
fice: that was what Christ offered. It speaks of prayers in the sense of petitions
because ‘The prayer of a righteous man has great power’ (Jas 5:16); and it speaks
of supplications to emphasize the humility of the one who is praying, who falls on
his knees, as we see happening in the case of him who ‘fell on his face and
prayed’ (Mt 26:39)” (”Commentary on Heb”, 5, 1).

To emphasize the force of Christ’s prayer, the writer adds, “with loud cries and
tears”. According to rabbinical teaching, there were three degrees of prayer,
each stronger than the last—supplications, cries and tears. Christian tradition has
always been touched by the humanity of the Redeemer as revealed in the way
he prays. “Everything that is being said here may be summed up in one word—
humility: that stops the mouths of those who blaspheme against Christ’s divinity
saying that it is completely inappropriate for a God to act like this. For, on the
contrary, the Godhead laid it down that [Christ’s] human nature should suffer all
this, in order to show us the extreme to which he truly became incarnate and as-
sumed a human nature, and to show us that the mystery of salvation was accom-
plished in a real and not an apparent or fictitious manner” (Theodoret of Cyrus,
“lnterpretatio Ep. ad Haebreos, ad loc.”). Christ’s prayer, moreover, teaches us
that prayer must 1) be fervent and 2) involve interior pain. “Christ had both [fervor
and pain], for the Apostle by mentioning ‘tears’ intends to show the interior groa-
ning of him who weeps in this way [...]. But he did not weep on his own account:
he wept for us, who receive the fruit of his passion” (St Thomas, “Commentary
on Heb., ad loc.”).

“He was heard for his godly fear.” St John Chrysostom’s commentary is very ap-
posite: “’He gave himself up for our sins’, he says in Gal 1:4; and elsewhere (cf.
1 Tim 2:6) he adds, ‘He gave himself as a ransom for all’. What does he mean
by this? Do you not see that he is speaking with humility of himself, because of
his mortal flesh? And, nevertheless, because he is the Son, it says that he was
heard for his godly fear” (”Hom. on Heb.”, 8). It is like a loving contention between
Father and Son. The Son wins the Father’s admiration, so generous is his self-
surrender.

And yet Christ’s prayer did not seem to be heeded, for his Father God did not
save him from ignominious death—the cup he had to drink—nor were all the Jews,
for whom he prayed, converted. But it was only apparently so: in fact Christ’s pra-
yer was heard. It is true that, like every one, the idea of dying was repugnant to
him, because he had a natural instinct to live; but, on the other hand, he wished
to die through a deliberate and rational act of his will, hence in the course of the
prayer, he said, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk 22:42). Similarly Christ wan-
ted to save all mankind—but he wanted them to accept salvation freely (cf. “Com-
mentary on Heb., ad loc.”).

8. In Christ there are two perfect and complete natures and therefore two different
levels of knowledge—divine knowledge and human knowledge. Christ’s human
knowledge includes 1) the knowledge that the blessed in heaven have, that is,
the knowledge that comes from direct vision of the divine essence; 2) the know-
ledge with which God endowed man before original sin (infused knowledge); and
3) the knowledge which man acquires through experience. This last-mentioned
knowledge could and in fact did increase (cf. Lk 2:52) in Christ’s case. Christ’s
painful experience of the passion, for example, increased this last type of know-
ledge, which is why the verse says that Christ learned obedience through suffe-
ring. There was a Greek proverb which said, “Sufferings are lessons.” Christ’s
teaching and example raise this positive view of suffering onto the supernatural
level. “In ‘suffering there is concealed’ a particular ‘power that draws a person in-
teriorly close to Christ’, a special grace [...]. 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’” (John Paul II, “Salvifici Doloris”, 26).

In our Lord’s case, his experience of suffering was connected with his generosity
in obedience. He freely chose to obey even unto death (cf. Heb 10:5-9; Rom 5:19;
Phil 2:8), consciously atoning for the first sin, a sin of disobedience. “In his suffe-
ring, sins are canceled out precisely because he alone as the only-begotten Son
could take them upon himself, accept them ‘with that love for the Father which
overcomes’ the evil of every sin; in a certain sense he annihilates this evil in the
spiritual space of the relationship between God and humanity, and fills this space
with good” (”Salvifici Doloris”, 17). Christ “learned obedience” not in the sense
that this virtue developed in him, for his human nature was perfect in its holiness,
but in the sense that he put into operation the infused virtue his human soul al-
ready possessed. “Christ knew what obedience was from all eternity, but he
learned obedience in practice through the severities he underwent particularly in
his passion and death” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on Heb., ad loc.”).

Christ’s example of obedience is something we should copy. A Christian writer
of the fifth century, Diadochus of Photike, wrote: “The Lord loved (obedience) be-
cause it was the way to bring about man’s salvation and he obeyed his Father
unto the cross and unto death; however, his obedience did not in any sense di-
minish his majesty. And so, having—by his obedience—dissolved man’s disobe-
dience, he chose to lead to blessed and immortal life those who followed the
way of obedience” (”Chapters on Spiritual Perfection”, 41).

9. Obviously Christ as God could not increase in perfection. Nor could his sacred
humanity become any holier, for from the moment of his Incarnation he received
the fullness of grace, that is, he had the maximum degree of holiness a man
could have. In this connection Thomas Aquinas points out that Christ had union
(that is, the personal union to the Son of God gratuitously bestowed on human
nature): clearly this grace is infinite as the person of the Word is infinite. The
other grace is habitual grace which, although it is received in a limited human na-
ture, is yet infinite in its perfection because grace was conferred on Christ as the
universal source of the justification of human nature (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, III,
q. 7, a. 11). In what sense, then, could Christ be “made perfect”? St Thomas pro-
vides the answer: Christ, through his passion, achieved a special glory—the im-
passibility and glorification of his body. Moreover, he attained the same perfec-
tions as we shall participate in when we are raised from the dead in glory, those
of us who believe in him (cf. “Commentary on Heb., ad loc.”). For this reason our
Redeemer could exclaim before his death, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30)—referring not
only to his own sacrifice but also to the fact that he had completely accomplished
the redeeming atonement. Christ triumphed on the cross and attained perfection
for himself and for others. In Hebrews the same verb is used for what is translated
into English as “to be made perfect” and “to finish”. Christ, moreover, by obeying
and becoming a perfect victim, truly pleasing to the Father, is more perfectly posi-
tioned to perfect others. “Obedience” is essentially docility to what God asks of
us and readiness to listen to him (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26; 2 Cor 10:5; Heb 4:3).
Christ’s obedience is a source of salvation for us; if we imitate him we will truly
form one body with him and he will be able to pass on to us the fullness of his
grace.

“Now, when you find it hard to obey, remember your Lord: ‘factus obediens usque
ad mortem, mortem autem crucis”: obedient even to accepting death, death on a
cross!’” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 628).

10. As the epistle repeatedly teaches, Christ is a high priest “after the order of
Melchizedek”. Two essential characteristics come together here: he is the eter-
nal Son of God, as announced in the messianic Psalm 2:7: “You are my Son, to-
day I have begotten you”; and he is at the same time high priest not according to
the order which God instituted with Aaron but according to the order of Melchize-
dek, also established by God. Further on the letter explains in what sense this
“order of Melchizedek” is superior to that of Levi and Aaron. What it stresses at
this point is the connection between Christ’s priesthood and his divine sonship.
Christ, the Son of God, was sent by the Father as Redeemer and mediator, and
the mediation of Christ, who is God and true man, is exercised by way of priest-
hood. So, in the last analysis Christ is Priest both by virtue of being the Son of
God and by virtue of his Incarnation as man. “The abyss of malice which sin
opens up has been bridged by his infinite charity. God did not abandon men. His
plans foresaw that the sacrifices of the Old Law would be insufficient to repair our
faults and re-establish the unity which had been lost. A man who was God would
have to offer himself up. To help us grasp in some measure this unfathomable my-
stery, we might imagine the Blessed Trinity taking counsel together in their unin-
terrupted intimate relationship of intimate love. As a result of their eternal decision,
the only-begotten Son of God the Father takes on our human condition and bears
the burden of our wretchedness and sorrow, to end up sewn with nails to a piece
of wood” (St J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 95).

It was appropriate that the divine person who became incarnate should be the
Son or Word, for “the Word has a kind of essential kinship not only with rational
nature but also universally with the whole of creation, since the Word contains
the essences of all things created by God, just as man the artist in the concep-
tion of his intellect comprehends the essences of all the products of art [...].
Wherefore all things are said to be made by the Word. Therefore, it was appro-
priate for Word to be joined to creature, that is, to human nature” (St Thomas,
“Summa Contra Gentiles”, IV, 42). Finally, it was fitting that Redemption from
sin should be brought about by way of a sacrifice offered by the same divine per-
son. So it is that Christ, the only-begotten Son, to whom God said, “You are my
son, today I have begotten you”, is also the priest to whom God swears, “Thou
art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek”.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 01/20/2013 7:52:18 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Hebrews 5:1-10

Christ Has Been Made High Priest by God the Father


[1] For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of
men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. [2] He can deal gently
with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. [3] Be-
cause of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of
the people. [4] And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by
God, just as Aaron was.

[5] So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appoin-
ted by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; [6]
as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of
Melchizedek.”

[7] In the days of the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplica-
tions, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and
he was heard for his godly fear. [8] Although he was a Son, he learned obedience
through what he suffered; [9] and being made perfect he became the source of
eternal salvation to all who obey him, [10] being designated by God a high priest
after the order of Melchizedek.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-10. The central theme of the epistle, broached in 2:17 and taken up again in 4:
14-15, is discussed from here up to the start of chapter 10 — the theme of Christ
as high priest, the high priest who really can free us from all sin. In fact, Christ is
the only perfect Priest: other priests—in both natural religions and the Jewish re-
ligion — are only prefigurements of Christ. The first thing to be emphasized, be-
cause the writer is addressing people of Jewish background, is that Christ’s priest-
hood is on a higher plane than that of the priests of the Old Law. However, the
argument applies not only to the priesthood of Aaron, to whose family all Israelite
priests belonged, but also, indirectly, to all forms of priesthood before Christ. But
there is a basic difference, in that whereas other priests were chosen by men,
Aaron was chosen by God. Sacred Scripture introduces him as Moses’ brother
(cf. Ex 6:20), acting as his interpreter to Pharaoh (because Moses was “slow of
speech”: Ex 4: 10; cf. 7:1-2) and joining him to lead the people out of Egypt (cf.
Ex 4:27-30). After the Israelites left Egypt, God himself instituted the priesthood
of Aaron to minister and carry out divine worship at the tabernacle and later at
the temple in Jerusalem (cf. Ex 28:1-5).

Divine intervention, therefore, brought to a close the period when sacrifice was
offered by the head of the family or the chief of the tribe and when no specific
calling or external ordination rite was connected with priesthood. Thus, for exam-
ple, in the Book of Genesis we read that Cain, and Abel, themselves offered sac-
rifices (cf. Gen 4:35), as did Noah after coming safely through the flood (cf. Gen
8:20); and the patriarchs often offered sacrifices to God in adoration or thanksgi-
ving or to renew their Covenant—for example, Abraham (cf. Gen 12:8; 15:8-17;
22:1-13) and Jacob (cf. Gen 26:25; 33:20), etc.

Although for a considerable time after the institution of the Aaron priesthood,
sacrifices continued to be offered also by private individuals — for example, in the
period of the Judges, the sacrifice of Gideon (Judg 6:18,25-26) or that of Sam-
son’s parents (Judg 13:15-20) — gradually the convictions grew that to be a priest
a person had to have a specific vocation, one which was not given to anyone out-
side males of the line of Aaron (cf. Judg 17:7-13), whom God had chosen from
out of all the people of Israel, identifying him by the sign of his rod sprouting buds
(Num 17:16-24). God himself meted out severe punishment to Korah and his
sons when they tried to set themselves up as rivals of Aaron: they were devoured
by fire from heaven (cf. Num 16); and it was specified in Mosaic legislation time
and time again that only the sons of Aaron could act as priests (cf. Num 3:10;
17:5; 18:7). This priesthood offered the sacrifices of Mosaic worship—the burnt
offerings, cereal offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (cf. Lev 6). To the de-
scendants of Aaron, assisted by the Levites, was entrusted also the care of the
tabernacle and the protection of the ark of the Covenant. They received their mi-
nistry and had it confirmed by the offering of sacrifice and by anointing of the
man’s head and hands with oil (Ex 29; Lev 8-9; Num 3:3). For all these reasons
Hebrew priests were honored and revered by the people and regarded (not without
reason, because God had ordained them) as on a much higher plane than other
priests particularly those of the peoples of Canaan, the priests of Baal, for exam-
ple. In Christ’s time the high priest was the highest religious authority in Israel;
his words were regarded as oracular statements, and his decisions could have
important political repercussions.

However, Christ came with the very purpose of taking this ancient institution and
transforming it into a new, eternal priesthood. Every Christian priest is, as it were,
Christ’s instrument or an extension of his sacred humanity. Christian priests do
not act in their own name, nor are they mere representatives of the people: they
act in the name of God. “Here we have the priest’s identity: he is direct and daily
instrument of the saving grace which Christ has won for us” (St. J. Escriva, “In
Love with the Church”, 39). It is really Christ who is acting through them by
means of their words, gestures etc. All of this means that Christian priesthood
cannot be separated from the eternal priesthood of Christ. This extension of God’s
providence (in the form of the Old Testament priesthood and the priesthood insti-
tuted by Christ in the New Testament and the mission entrusted to New Testa-
ment priests) should lead us to love and honor the priesthood irrespective of the
human defects and shortcomings of these ministers of God: “To love God and
not venerate his Priests...is not possible” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 74).

1a. These words provide a very good short definition of what every priest is.

“The office proper to a priest”, St Thomas Aquinas points out, “is to be a media-
tor between God and the people, inasmuch as he bestows divine things on the
people (he is called “sacerdos” (priest), which means ‘a giver of sacred things’,
“sacra dans” [...]), and again inasmuch as he offers the people’s prayer to God
and in some way makes satisfaction to God for their sins” (”Summa Theologiae”,
III, q.22, a.1).

In this passage of the letter we can detect an echo of the description of Aaron in
the Book of Sirach: “He chose him out of all the living to offer sacrifice to the Lord,
incense and a pleasing odor as a memorial portion, to make atonement for the
people” (Sir 45:16). Four elements characterize the office of the high priest (the
text speaks of the “high” priest in the strict sense, but it is applicable to all
priests —1) his special dignity, because although he is a man he has been spe-
cially chosen by God; 2) the purpose of his mission, which is the good of man-
kind (”to act on behalf of men”); 3) the “material” side of his office, that is, public
divine worship; 4) the specific acts he must perform, the offering of sacrifice at
appropriate times.

In the specific case of priesthood instituted by God—such as that of Aaron or the
new priesthood instituted by Christ—the calling (”taken” or “chosen” from among
men) is not simply an influence the person feels interiorly, or a desire to be a
priest: its divine origin is confirmed by nomination by the proper authority, and
by official consecration.

1b. A priest is “chosen from among men”, that is, he should possess a human
nature. This is a further sign of God’s mercy: to bring about our salvation he uses
someone accessible to us, one who shares our human condition, “so that man
might have someone like himself to have recourse to” (St Thomas, “Commentary
on Heb, ad loc.”). These words also indicate the extent of God’s kindness be-
cause they remind us that the divine Redeemer not only offered himself and
made satisfaction for the sins of all, but desired that “the priestly life which the
divine Redeemer had begun in his mortal body by his prayers and sacrifice
(should not cease). He willed it to continue unceasingly through the ages in his
mystical body, which is the Church; and therefore he instituted a visible priest-
hood to offer everywhere a clean oblation (Mal 1:11), so that all men all over the
world, being diverted from sin, might serve God conscientiously, and of their own
free will” (Pius XII, “Mediator Dei”, 1).

He is “chosen from among men” also in the sense that he is given special con-
secration which is some way marks him off from the rest of the people of God.
St John Chrysostom comments, recalling Jesus triple question to Peter after the
Resurrection (cf. Jn 21:15-17): “When he asked Peter if he loved him, he did not
do so because he needed to know whether his disciple loved him, but because
he wanted to show how great his own love was; thus, when he says, ‘Who then
is the faithful and prudent servant’, he does not say this because he does not
know the answer, but in order to show us how unique and wonderful an honor it
is, as can be deduced from the rewards: ‘he will place him over all his goods.’
And he concludes that the priest ought to be outstanding in holiness (”De Sacer-
dotio”, II, 1-2).

“The priests of the New Testament”, Vatican II reminds us, “are, by their vocation
to ordination, set apart in some way in the midst of the people of God, but this is
not in order that they should be separated from that people or from anyone, but
that they should be completely consecrated to the task for which God chose
them” (”Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 3). This calling, then, constitutes a distinction
but not a separation because it is indissolubly linked to a specific mission: a
priest is “chosen from among men” but for the purpose of acting “on behalf of
men in relation to God”. In this delicate balance between divine call and spiritual
mission to men lies the essence of priesthood. Christians, therefore, should ne-
ver view a priest as “just another person”. “They want to find in the priest the vir-
tues appropriate to any Christian and even any upright man—understanding, jus-
tice, commitment to work (priestly work, in this case), charity, good manners,
social refinement. But the faithful also want to be able to recognize clearly the
priestly character: they expect the priest to pray, not to refuse to administer the
sacraments; they expect him to be open to everyone and not set himself up to
take charge of people or become an aggressive leader of human factions, of
whatever shade (cf. “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 6). They expect him to bring love
and devotion to the celebration of Mass, to sit in the confessional, to console the
sick and the troubled; to teach sound doctrine to children and adults, to preach
the Word of God and no mere human science which—no matter how well he may
know it—is not the knowledge that saves and brings eternal life; they expect him
to give counsel and be charitable to those in need” (St. J. Escriva, “In Love with
the Church”, 42).

Priests “could not be the servants of Christ unless they were witnesses and dis-
pensers of a life other than that of this earth. On the other hand, they would be
powerless to serve men if they remained aloof from their life and circumstances”
(”Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 3). In this connection, Pope John Paul II has made the
following appeal: “Yes, you are chosen from among men, given to Christ by the
Father, to be in the world, “in the heart of society”. You are appointed to act on
behalf of men (Heb 5:1). The priesthood is the sacrament whereby the Church
is to be seen as the society of the people of God; it is the ‘social’ sacrament.
Priests should ‘convoke’ each of the communities of the people of God, around
them but not for themselves—for Christ!” (”Homily at an Ordination of Priests”, 15
June 1980).

The specific function of the priest has, then, been clearly identified: he is con-
cerned about his brethren but he is not here to solve temporal problems; his role
is only “in relation to God”. “Christian ministerial priesthood is different from any
other priesthood in that it is not an office to which someone is appointed by others
to intercede with God on their behalf; it is a mission to which a man is called by
God (Heb 5: 1-10; 7:24; 9: 11-28) to be towards others a living sign of the pre-
sence of Christ, the only Mediator (1 Tim 2:5), Head and Shepherd of his people
[...]. In other words, Christian priesthood is essentially (this is the only possible
way it can be understood) an eminently sacred mission, both in its origin (Christ)
and in its content (the divine mystery) and by the very manner in which it is con-
ferred (a sacrament)” (A. del Portillo, “On Priesthood”, pp. 59f).

2-3. From the moral qualities a priest needs, these verses single out mercy and
compassion, which lead him, on the one hand, to be gentle to sinners and, at the
same time, to desire to make personal reparation for their sins. The Latin transla-
tion of v. 2a puts the emphasis on the fact that the priest shares in suffering for
sin: he can “suffer along with” (”aeque condolere”) but in just measure on seeing
those who go astray, and, imitating Christ, he can himself perform some of the
penance those sinners should be doing. The original word translated here as
“deal gently” recalls the profound, but serene, sorrow which Abraham felt when
Sarah died (cf. Gen 23:2) and at the same time it alludes to the need for forbea-
rance, generosity and understanding: a priest must be a person who, while rejec-
ting sin, is understanding to the sinner and conscious that it may take him time
to mend his ways. He is also inclined to put the sinner’s intentions in the best
light (cf. Gal 6:1): people do not always sin deliberately; they can sin out of ig-
norance (that is, not realizing the gravity of their actions) and, more often than
not, out of weakness.

The Old Testament makes a clear distinction between sin committed unwittingly
(cf. Lev 4:2-27; Num 14:24, 27-29) and sins of rebelliousness (cf. Num 15:22-31;
Deut 17:12). Further on (cf. Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-27; 12:17), the letter will again refer
to the gravity of sins committed out of malice. Here, however, it is referring to sin,
whether grave or not, committed out of weakness. “Ignorant” and “wayward” are
almost synonymous, for a person who sins out of ignorance is described in He-
brews by a word which means “he who goes astray, he who does not know the
way”. The basic reason why a priest should be understanding and compassio-
nate is his awareness of his own weakness. Thus, the Church puts these words
on his lips in Eucharistic Prayer I: “’nobis quoque peccatoribus’—for ourselves,
too, sinners” (cf. Wis 9:5-6). A priest is compassionate and understanding be-
cause “he himself is beset with weakness”. The word translated as “beset” con-
tains the idea of surrounded or covered by or wrapped as if in a cloak. Pope Pius
XI wrote: “When we see a man exercising this faculty (of forgiving sins), we can-
not but repeat (not out of pharisaical scandal, but with reverent amazement)
those words, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ (Lk 7:49). It is the Man-God,
who had and has ‘authority on earth to forgive sins’ (Lk 5:24), and has chosen to
communicate it to his priests, and thereby with the generosity of divine mercy to
meet the human conscience’s need of purification. Hence the great consolation
the guilty man receives who experiences remorse and contritely hears the priest
tell him in God’s name, ‘I absolve you from your sins.’ The fact that he hears this
said by someone who himself will need to ask another priest to speak the same
words to him, does not debase God’s merciful gift: it enhances it, for the hand of
God who works this wonder is seen (as operating) by means of a frail creature”
(Pius XII, “Ad Catholici Sacerdotii”).

3. Everyone, including the priest, is a sinner. In the Old Testament rites for the
Day of Atonement (”Yom Kippur”), the high priest, before entering the Holy of
Holies, offered a sin-offering for his own sins (cf. Lev 16:3, 6, 11; Heb 9:6-14); so
too the priests of the New Testament have a duty to be holy, to reject sin, to ask
for forgiveness of their own sins, and to intercede for sinners.

The model the priest should always have before him is Jesus Christ, the eternal
high priest. “The main motive force actuating a priest should be the determination
to attain the closest union with the divine Redeemer [...]. He should continually
keep Christ before his eyes. Christ’s commands, actions and example he should
follow most assiduously, in the conviction that it is not enough for him to submit
to the duties by which the faithful are bound, but that he must at a daily increa-
sing pace pursue the perfection of life which the high dignity of a priest demands”
(Pius XII, “Menti Nostrae”, 7). But, one might object, Christ never had any defect,
never sinned, because his human nature was perfect and totally holy: is he not
therefore too perfect a model for men who when it comes down to it are sinners?
The answer is, No, not at all, for he himself said, “I have given you an example,
that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15). Besides, when the text
(v. 2) refers to “weakness” this may refer to two things — the weakness of human
nature (of man as creature), and the imperfection resulting from his faults and his
passions. The former kind of defect is one Christ shares with us; the second is
one he does not.

For this very reason, in the case of the priest, consciousness of his sins, plus
his conviction that he has been called by Christ, moves him to be very committed
to his apostolic ministry of reconciliation and penance; and in the first instance
priests perform this ministry for one another. “Priests, who are consecrated by
the anointing of the Holy Spirit and sent by Christ, mortify the works of the flesh
in themselves and dedicate themselves completely to the service of people” (Va-
tican II, “Presbyterorum Ordinis”, 12). As Pope John Paul II has stressed, “the
priest’s celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the other sacraments,
his pastoral zeal, his relationship with the faithful, his communion with his bro-
ther priests, his collaboration with his bishop, his life of prayer — in a word, the
whole of his priestly existence — suffers an inexorable decline if by negligence
or for some other reason he fails to receive the sacrament of Penance at regular
intervals and in a spirit of genuine faith and devotion. If a priest were no longer to
go to confession or properly confess his sins, his priestly being and his priestly
action would feel the effect of this very soon, and it would also be noticed by the
community of which he was the pastor.

“But I also add that even in order to be a good and effective minister of Penance
he priest needs to have recourse to the source of grace and holiness present in
this sacrament. We priests, on the basis of our personal experience, can certain-
ly say that, the more careful we are to receive the sacrament of Penance and to
approach it frequently and with good dispositions, the better we fulfill our own mi-
nistry as confessors and ensure that our penitents benefit from it. And on the
other hand this ministry would lose much of its effectiveness if in some way we
were to stop being good penitents. Such is the internal logic of this great sacra-
ment. It invites all of us priests of Christ to pay renewed attention to our personal
confession” (”Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia”, 31).

What the Pope says here ultimately stems from the fact that “as ministers of the
sacred mysteries, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass, priests act in a special
way in the person of Christ who gave himself as a victim to sanctify men” (”Pres-
byterorum Ordinis”, 13).

In this way, “Christ the shepherd is present in the priest so as continually to ac-
tualize the universal call to conversion and repentance which prepares for the co-
ming of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 4:17). He is present in order to make men
understand that forgiveness of sins, the reconciliation of the soul and God, can-
not be the outcome of a monologue, no matter how keen a person’s capacity for
reflection and self-criticism. He reminds us that no one, alone, can calm his own
conscience; that the contrite heart must submit its sins to the Church — institution,
to the man-priest, who in the sacrament of Penance is a permanent objective wit-
ness to the radical need which fallen humanity has of the man-God, the only Just
One, the only Justifier” (A. del Potillo, “On Priesthood”, p. 62).

7-9. This brief summary of Christ’s life stresses his perfect obedience to the
Father’s will, his intense prayer and his sufferings and redemptive death. As in
the hymn to Christ in Philippians 2:6-11, the point is made that Christ set his po-
wer aside and, despite his being the only-begotten Son of God, out of obedience
chose to die on the cross. His death was a true self-offering expressed in that
“loud voice” when he cried out to the Father just before he died, “into thy hands
I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). But although Jesus’ obedience was most obvious
on Calvary, it was a constant feature of “the days of his flesh”: he obeyed Mary
and Joseph, seeing in them the authority of the heavenly Father; he was obedient
to political and religious authorities; and he always obeyed the Father, identifying
himself with him to such a degree that he could say, “I have glorified thee on
earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do [...]. All mine
are thine and thine are mine” (Jn 17:4, 10).

The passage also points to Jesus prayer, the high point of which occurred in
Gethsemane on the eve of his passion. The reference to “loud cries and suppli-
cations” recalls the Gospel account of his suffering: “And being in an agony he
prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling
down upon the ground” (Lk 22:44).

Hebrews 5:7-9 is probably referring not so much to his prayer in the Garden, still
less to any prayer of Christ asking to be delivered from death, but to our Lord’s
constant prayer for the salvation of mankind. “When the Apostle speaks of these
supplications and cries of Jesus,” St John Chrysostom comments, “he does not
mean prayers which he made on his own behalf but prayers for those who would
later believe in him. And, due to the fact that the Jews did not yet have the eleva-
ted concept of Christ that they ought to have had, St Paul says that ‘he was heard’,
just as the Lord himself told his disciples, to console them, ‘If you loved me, you
would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I’
[...]. Such was the respect and reverence shown by the Son, that God the Father
could not but take note and heed his Son and his prayers” (”Hom. on Heb”, 11).

7. “In the days of his flesh”, a reference to the Incarnation. “Flesh” is synony-
mous with mortal life; this is a reference to Christ’s human nature—as in the pro-
logue to St John’s Gospel (elf. Jn 1:14) and many other places (Heb 2:14; Gal
2:20; Phil 1:22-24; 1 Pet 4:1-2) including where mention is made of Jesus being
a servant and capable of suffering (cf. Phil 2:8; Mt 20:27-28). Jesus’ human nature
“in the days of his flesh” is quite different from his divine nature and also from his
human nature after its glorification (cf. 1 Cor 15:50). “It must be said that the word
‘flesh’ is occasionally used to refer to the weakness of the flesh, as it says in 1
Cor 15:50: ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’. Christ had a weak
and mortal flesh. Therefore it says in the text, ‘In the days of his flesh’, referring
to when he was living in a flesh which seemed to be like sinful flesh, but which
was sinless” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on Heb”, 5, 1). So, this text
underlines our Lord’s being both Victim and Priest.

“Prayers and supplications”: very fitting in a priest. The two words mean much
the same; together they are a form of words which used to be employed in peti-
tions to the king or some important official. The plural tells us that there were lots
of these petitions. The writer seems to have in mind the picture of the Redeemer
who “going a little farther fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mt 26:39).
St Thomas comments on this description of Christ’s prayer as follows: “His ac-
tion was indeed one of offering prayers and supplications, that is, a spiritual sacri-
fice: that was what Christ offered. It speaks of prayers in the sense of petitions
because ‘The prayer of a righteous man has great power’ (Jas 5:16); and it speaks
of supplications to emphasize the humility of the one who is praying, who falls on
his knees, as we see happening in the case of him who ‘fell on his face and
prayed’ (Mt 26:39)” (”Commentary on Heb”, 5, 1).

To emphasize the force of Christ’s prayer, the writer adds, “with loud cries and
tears”. According to rabbinical teaching, there were three degrees of prayer,
each stronger than the last—supplications, cries and tears. Christian tradition has
always been touched by the humanity of the Redeemer as revealed in the way
he prays. “Everything that is being said here may be summed up in one word—
humility: that stops the mouths of those who blaspheme against Christ’s divinity
saying that it is completely inappropriate for a God to act like this. For, on the
contrary, the Godhead laid it down that [Christ’s] human nature should suffer all
this, in order to show us the extreme to which he truly became incarnate and as-
sumed a human nature, and to show us that the mystery of salvation was accom-
plished in a real and not an apparent or fictitious manner” (Theodoret of Cyrus,
“lnterpretatio Ep. ad Haebreos, ad loc.”). Christ’s prayer, moreover, teaches us
that prayer must 1) be fervent and 2) involve interior pain. “Christ had both [fervor
and pain], for the Apostle by mentioning ‘tears’ intends to show the interior groa-
ning of him who weeps in this way [...]. But he did not weep on his own account:
he wept for us, who receive the fruit of his passion” (St Thomas, “Commentary
on Heb., ad loc.”).

“He was heard for his godly fear.” St John Chrysostom’s commentary is very ap-
posite: “’He gave himself up for our sins’, he says in Gal 1:4; and elsewhere (cf.
1 Tim 2:6) he adds, ‘He gave himself as a ransom for all’. What does he mean
by this? Do you not see that he is speaking with humility of himself, because of
his mortal flesh? And, nevertheless, because he is the Son, it says that he was
heard for his godly fear” (”Hom. on Heb.”, 8). It is like a loving contention between
Father and Son. The Son wins the Father’s admiration, so generous is his self-
surrender.

And yet Christ’s prayer did not seem to be heeded, for his Father God did not
save him from ignominious death—the cup he had to drink—nor were all the Jews,
for whom he prayed, converted. But it was only apparently so: in fact Christ’s pra-
yer was heard. It is true that, like every one, the idea of dying was repugnant to
him, because he had a natural instinct to live; but, on the other hand, he wished
to die through a deliberate and rational act of his will, hence in the course of the
prayer, he said, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk 22:42). Similarly Christ wan-
ted to save all mankind—but he wanted them to accept salvation freely (cf. “Com-
mentary on Heb., ad loc.”).

8. In Christ there are two perfect and complete natures and therefore two different
levels of knowledge—divine knowledge and human knowledge. Christ’s human
knowledge includes 1) the knowledge that the blessed in heaven have, that is,
the knowledge that comes from direct vision of the divine essence; 2) the know-
ledge with which God endowed man before original sin (infused knowledge); and
3) the knowledge which man acquires through experience. This last-mentioned
knowledge could and in fact did increase (cf. Lk 2:52) in Christ’s case. Christ’s
painful experience of the passion, for example, increased this last type of know-
ledge, which is why the verse says that Christ learned obedience through suffe-
ring. There was a Greek proverb which said, “Sufferings are lessons.” Christ’s
teaching and example raise this positive view of suffering onto the supernatural
level. “In ‘suffering there is concealed’ a particular ‘power that draws a person in-
teriorly close to Christ’, a special grace [...]. 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’” (John Paul II, “Salvifici Doloris”, 26).

In our Lord’s case, his experience of suffering was connected with his generosity
in obedience. He freely chose to obey even unto death (cf. Heb 10:5-9; Rom 5:19;
Phil 2:8), consciously atoning for the first sin, a sin of disobedience. “In his suffe-
ring, sins are canceled out precisely because he alone as the only-begotten Son
could take them upon himself, accept them ‘with that love for the Father which
overcomes’ the evil of every sin; in a certain sense he annihilates this evil in the
spiritual space of the relationship between God and humanity, and fills this space
with good” (”Salvifici Doloris”, 17). Christ “learned obedience” not in the sense
that this virtue developed in him, for his human nature was perfect in its holiness,
but in the sense that he put into operation the infused virtue his human soul al-
ready possessed. “Christ knew what obedience was from all eternity, but he
learned obedience in practice through the severities he underwent particularly in
his passion and death” (St Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on Heb., ad loc.”).

Christ’s example of obedience is something we should copy. A Christian writer
of the fifth century, Diadochus of Photike, wrote: “The Lord loved (obedience) be-
cause it was the way to bring about man’s salvation and he obeyed his Father
unto the cross and unto death; however, his obedience did not in any sense di-
minish his majesty. And so, having—by his obedience—dissolved man’s disobe-
dience, he chose to lead to blessed and immortal life those who followed the
way of obedience” (”Chapters on Spiritual Perfection”, 41).

9. Obviously Christ as God could not increase in perfection. Nor could his sacred
humanity become any holier, for from the moment of his Incarnation he received
the fullness of grace, that is, he had the maximum degree of holiness a man
could have. In this connection Thomas Aquinas points out that Christ had union
(that is, the personal union to the Son of God gratuitously bestowed on human
nature): clearly this grace is infinite as the person of the Word is infinite. The
other grace is habitual grace which, although it is received in a limited human na-
ture, is yet infinite in its perfection because grace was conferred on Christ as the
universal source of the justification of human nature (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, III,
q. 7, a. 11). In what sense, then, could Christ be “made perfect”? St Thomas pro-
vides the answer: Christ, through his passion, achieved a special glory—the im-
passibility and glorification of his body. Moreover, he attained the same perfec-
tions as we shall participate in when we are raised from the dead in glory, those
of us who believe in him (cf. “Commentary on Heb., ad loc.”). For this reason our
Redeemer could exclaim before his death, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30)—referring not
only to his own sacrifice but also to the fact that he had completely accomplished
the redeeming atonement. Christ triumphed on the cross and attained perfection
for himself and for others. In Hebrews the same verb is used for what is translated
into English as “to be made perfect” and “to finish”. Christ, moreover, by obeying
and becoming a perfect victim, truly pleasing to the Father, is more perfectly posi-
tioned to perfect others. “Obedience” is essentially docility to what God asks of
us and readiness to listen to him (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26; 2 Cor 10:5; Heb 4:3).
Christ’s obedience is a source of salvation for us; if we imitate him we will truly
form one body with him and he will be able to pass on to us the fullness of his
grace.

“Now, when you find it hard to obey, remember your Lord: ‘factus obediens usque
ad mortem, mortem autem crucis”: obedient even to accepting death, death on a
cross!’” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 628).

10. As the epistle repeatedly teaches, Christ is a high priest “after the order of
Melchizedek”. Two essential characteristics come together here: he is the eter-
nal Son of God, as announced in the messianic Psalm 2:7: “You are my Son, to-
day I have begotten you”; and he is at the same time high priest not according to
the order which God instituted with Aaron but according to the order of Melchize-
dek, also established by God. Further on the letter explains in what sense this
“order of Melchizedek” is superior to that of Levi and Aaron. What it stresses at
this point is the connection between Christ’s priesthood and his divine sonship.
Christ, the Son of God, was sent by the Father as Redeemer and mediator, and
the mediation of Christ, who is God and true man, is exercised by way of priest-
hood. So, in the last analysis Christ is Priest both by virtue of being the Son of
God and by virtue of his Incarnation as man. “The abyss of malice which sin
opens up has been bridged by his infinite charity. God did not abandon men. His
plans foresaw that the sacrifices of the Old Law would be insufficient to repair our
faults and re-establish the unity which had been lost. A man who was God would
have to offer himself up. To help us grasp in some measure this unfathomable my-
stery, we might imagine the Blessed Trinity taking counsel together in their unin-
terrupted intimate relationship of intimate love. As a result of their eternal decision,
the only-begotten Son of God the Father takes on our human condition and bears
the burden of our wretchedness and sorrow, to end up sewn with nails to a piece
of wood” (St J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 95).

It was appropriate that the divine person who became incarnate should be the
Son or Word, for “the Word has a kind of essential kinship not only with rational
nature but also universally with the whole of creation, since the Word contains
the essences of all things created by God, just as man the artist in the concep-
tion of his intellect comprehends the essences of all the products of art [...].
Wherefore all things are said to be made by the Word. Therefore, it was appro-
priate for Word to be joined to creature, that is, to human nature” (St Thomas,
“Summa Contra Gentiles”, IV, 42). Finally, it was fitting that Redemption from
sin should be brought about by way of a sacrifice offered by the same divine per-
son. So it is that Christ, the only-begotten Son, to whom God said, “You are my
son, today I have begotten you”, is also the priest to whom God swears, “Thou
art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek”.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 01/20/2013 7:53:48 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass


First reading Hebrews 5:1-10 ©
Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honour on himself, but each one is called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ give himself the glory of becoming high priest, but he had it from the one who said to him: You are my son, today I have become your father, and in another text: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever. During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation and was acclaimed by God with the title of high priest of the order of Melchizedek.

Psalm Psalm 109:1-4 ©
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
The Lord’s revelation to my Master:
  ‘Sit on my right:
  your foes I will put beneath your feet.’
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
The Lord will wield from Zion
  your sceptre of power:
  rule in the midst of all your foes.
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
A prince from the day of your birth
  on the holy mountains;
  from the womb before the dawn I begot you.
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.
The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
  ‘You are a priest for ever,
  a priest like Melchizedek of old.’
You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.

Gospel Acclamation cf.1Th2:13
Alleluia, alleluia!
Accept God’s message for what it really is:
God’s message, and not some human thinking.
Alleluia!
Or Heb4:12
Alleluia, alleluia!
The word of God is something alive and active:
it can judge secret emotions and thoughts.
Alleluia!

Gospel Mark 2:18-22 ©
One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’

5 posted on 01/20/2013 7:56:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

 

  PRAYERS AFTER
HOLY MASS AND COMMUNION

 


Leonine Prayers
    Following are the Prayers after Low Mass which were prescribed by Pope Leo XIII who composed the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and were reinforced by Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII to pray for the conversion of Russia. Below the normal Leonine Prayers is the longer version of the Prayer to St. Michael, composed by His Excellency Pope Leo XIII to defend against The Great Apostasy.
Latin

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructis ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
(Said 3 times)

    Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evae. Ad te suspiramus gementes et fientes in hac lacrymarum valle. Eia ergo, Advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis, post hoc exilium, ostende. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

    Oremus. Deus, refugium nostrum et virtus, populum ad te clamantem propitius respice; et intercedente gloriosa, et immaculata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, ejus Sponso, ac beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quas pro conversione peccatorum, pro libertate et exaltatione sanctae Matris Ecclesiae, preces effundimus, misericors et benignus exaudi. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis, satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.

Vernacular

   Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
(Said 3 times)

   Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee to we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mouring and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

   Let us pray.
O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

   Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, 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.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.


Complete Prayer to Saint Michael
    The following is the longer version of the vital prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 after his startling vision as to the future of the Church. This prayer was dedicated for the Feast of St. Michael 1448 years from the date of the election of the first Leo - Pope Saint Leo the Great. Everyone is familiar with the first prayer below which was mandated by His Holiness as part of the Leonine Prayers after Low Mass. Below are both the short and longer versions of this poignant prayer which should never be forgotten.

    Saint 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 heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

    V: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
    R: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
    V: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
    R: As we have hoped in Thee.
    V: O Lord hear my prayer.
    R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

    V: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls. Amen.


Prayer Before the Crucifix

   Look down upon me, O good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; the while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Thy five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me, calling to mind the words which David Thy prophet said of Thee, my good Jesus: "They have pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."

Indulgence of ten years; a plenary indulgence if recited after devout reception of Holy Communion, Raccolta 201)

Anima Christi - Soul of Christ

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee, that with
Thy saints I may praise Thee for ever and ever. Amen.

Indulgence of 300 days; if recited after devout reception of Holy Communion, seven years Raccolta 131)

Prayer for Vocations

   O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst take to Thyself a body and soul like ours, to teach us the glory of self-sacrifice and service, mercifully deign to instill in other hearts the desire to dedicate their lives to Thee. Give us PRIESTS to stand before Thine Altar and to preach the words of Thy Gospel; BROTHERS to assist the priests and to reproduce in themselves Thy humility; SISTERS to teach the young and nurse the sick and to minister Thy charity to all; LAY PEOPLE to imitate Thee in their homes and families. Amen

6 posted on 01/20/2013 7:58:05 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Perpetual Novena for the Nation (Ecumenical)
7 posted on 01/20/2013 7:59:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Prayers for The Religion Forum (Ecumenical)
8 posted on 01/20/2013 8:00:35 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Continue to Pray for Pope Benedict [Ecumenical]
9 posted on 01/20/2013 8:01:48 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
 
Jesus, High Priest
 

We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.

Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.

Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.

Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.

O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.

Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests

This icon shows Jesus Christ, our eternal high priest.

The gold pelican over His heart represents self-sacrifice.

The border contains an altar and grapevines, representing the Mass, and icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.

Melchizedek: king of righteousness (left icon) was priest and king of Jerusalem.  He blessed Abraham and has been considered an ideal priest-king.

St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests.


10 posted on 01/20/2013 8:02:29 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Pray a Rosary each day for our nation.

Pray the Rosary

1.  Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

2.  The Apostles Creed:  I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

3.  The Lord's Prayer:  OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

4. (3) Hail Mary:  HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen. (Three times)

5. Glory Be:  GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Fatima Prayer: Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.

Announce each mystery, then say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and 1 Fatima prayer.  Repeat the process with each mystery.

End with the Hail Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Final step -- The Sign of the Cross

 

The Mysteries of the Rosary

By tradition, Catholics meditate on these Mysteries during prayers of the Rosary.
The biblical references follow each of the Mysteries below.


The Joyful Mysteries
(Mondays and Saturdays)

1. The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) [Spiritual fruit - Humility]
2. The Visitation (Luke 1: 39-56) [Spiritual fruit - Love of Neighbor]
3. The Nativity (Luke 2:1-20) [Spiritual fruit - Poverty of Spirit]
4. The Presentation (Luke 2:21-38) [Spiritual fruit - Purity of mind & body]
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52) [Spiritual fruit - Obedience ]

11 posted on 01/20/2013 8:04:07 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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~ PRAYER ~

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle
 Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we  humbly pray,
 and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
 by the power of God,
 Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
 Amen
+

12 posted on 01/20/2013 8:05:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

A Prayer for our Free Nation Under God
God Save Our Country web site (prayer warriors)
Prayer Chain Request for the United States of America
Pray for Nancy Pelosi
Prayer and fasting will help defeat health care reform (Freeper Prayer Thread)
Prayer Campaign Started to Convert Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians to Pro-Life
[Catholic Caucus] One Million Rosaries
Non-stop Rosary vigil to defeat ObamaCare

From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:

"Pray for Obama.  Psalm 109:8"

   

PLEASE JOIN US -

Evening Prayer
Someone has said that if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless.
Did you know that during WWII there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace?  


There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America. If you would like to participate: Every evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central) (7:00 PM Mountain) (6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, and for a return to a Godly nation. If you know anyone else who would like to participate, please pass this along. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.    Please forward this to your praying friends.


13 posted on 01/20/2013 8:06:12 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Feast of
the Holy Name of Jesus


Luke 2:21 "...Et vocatum est Nomen eius IESUS"
("And His Name was called JESUS")

Psalm 90:14 "Because he hoped in me I will deliver him:
I will protect him because he hath known My Name."

Zacharias 10:12 "I will strengthen them in the Lord,
and they shall walk in His Name, saith the Lord."

Apocalypse 3:8 "I know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut: because thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied My Name."

Apocalypse 15:4 "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and magnify Thy Name?..."

 

Blessed be the most holy Name of Jesus without end!



January Devotion: The Holy Name of Jesus

The month of January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. This feast is also celebrated on January 3. Here is an explanation of the devotion.

Since the 16th century Catholic piety has associated entire months to special devotions. The devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus has been traditionally associated with the month of January, due to its celebration on January 3. The name Jesus was given to the Holy Child at God's command (Luke 1:31). The Holy Name is all-powerful because of the Person who bears it; we honor it because of the command of Christ, that we should pray in His Name and because it reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer. Hence St. Paul was able to write to the Philippians: ". . . at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil. 2:10). By means of this devotion we also make amends for improper use of the Holy Name.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Prayer/Hymn in Honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus - Iesu, Dulcis Memoria

Iesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century hymn attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluus. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the manuscript. Parts of this hymn were used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which was formerly celebrated on the Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany, or failing such a Sunday, on January 2. The part below was used at Vespers. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was deleted, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial on January 3.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast!
Yet sweeter far Thy face to see
And in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Jesus' name,
The Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart!
0 joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus! our only hope be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity. Amen.

---Roman Breviary

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

O Divine Jesus, Thou hast promised that anything we ask of the Eternal Father in Thy name shall be granted.

O Eternal Father. In the name of Jesus, for the love of Jesus, in fulfillment of this promise, and because Jesus has said it, grant us our petitions for the sake of Jesus, Thy Divine Son. Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954


That at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
 
Phil:2:10-11
 

 
 

Litany Of The Holy Name of Jesus
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Jesus, The Name above all Names
Devotion to the Holy Name (of Jesus) [Catholic Caucus]
Lessons In Iconography : The Chi Rho - Christ
St. Francis de Sales on the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Excerpt from a Sermon) (Catholic Caucus)
St. Francis de Sales on the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)

St. Bernard on the Most Holy Name of Jesus [Ecumenical]
Saving the day in His Holy Name: St. Genevieve gets a reprieve [Catholic Caucus]
The Holy Name of Jesus
Holy Name of Jesus [San Bernadino of Siena] Ecumenical
The Holy Name of Jesus
Devotion to the Holy Name [of Jesus]
The Name of Jesus: Its Power in Our Lives
The Holy Name of Jesus
Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus
The Holy Name of Jesus

14 posted on 01/20/2013 8:07:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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JANUARY, 2013, Intentions of the Holy Father

The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.

Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.


15 posted on 01/20/2013 8:08:21 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Monday, January 21, 2013
St. Agnes, Virgin, Martyr (Memorial)
First Reading:
Psalm:
Gospel:
Hebrews 5:1-10
Psalm 110:1-4
Mark 2:18-22

All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one... The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord Himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of His Spirit.

-- Lumen Gentium 13


16 posted on 01/20/2013 8:18:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Just A Minute Just A Minute (Listen)
Some of EWTN's most popular hosts and guests in a collection of one minute inspirational messages. A different message each time you click.

17 posted on 01/20/2013 8:20:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Angelus 

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary . . . 


Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen. 


18 posted on 01/20/2013 8:23:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Saint Agnes, Virgin & Martyr

Saint Agnes, Virgin & Martyr
Memorial
January 21st

Saint Agnes
Ambrogio Borgognone - 1495 - Detached Fresco
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

History

Agnes, the daughter of a noble Roman family who had become a Christian, was martyred at the age of twelve or thirteen during a persecution of Christians when she openly declared her belief. Her name is in the Roman Canon, and in the earliest Church calendar (354 AD), her feast was assigned to January 21, on which all accounts of her death agree. Agnes was martyred in 304, in the persecution of Diocletian, or possibly earlier, in a third century persecution. According to very early accounts, her enraged persecuters attempted to burn Agnes, and when this failed, they decapitated her.

Testimony to her courageous witness was given in early accounts. An account of her martyrdom was written by Saint Ambrose (340-387) in "De Virginibus", and Pope Damasus (ca. 304-384) extolled the heroism and virtue of the young girl, reportedly telling in a poem how she bravely faced fire, concerned only that her stripped body be covered by her long hair. The Pope also wrote an inscription to her on a marble slab, which can still be seen at the foot of the stairs leading to the sepulchre in the church built over her grave during the reign of Constantine (ca 275-337). According to the description of her martyrdom by Prudentius (348-413), as part of the persecution "the judge threatened to give over her virginity to a house of prostitution, and even executed this threat; but when a young man turned a lascivious look upon the virgin, he fell to the ground stricken with blindness...".

The church built over her tomb in the 4th Century, Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura ("Saint Agnes outside the walls), stands today -- on the Via Nomentana -- much the same as it was after it was remodeled by Pope Honorius (625-638). A mosaic in the apse of the church shows the young saint as a Byzantine empress, amid flames with a sword at her feet.

Another perhaps more famous church, Sant'Agnese in Agone, faces the Piazza Navona in Rome. Originally a 9th century oratory built over the the site of her martyrdom, a brothel in the arcades of the Circus of Domitian, also known as the Circus Agonalis, it was consecrated as a church by Pope Calixtus II on January 28, 1123. The present church was extensively remodeled in the 17th century by Rainaldi, according to plans by Borromini, and was influential in Baroque architecture. The Roman ruins of the brothel where Agnes was martyred are accessible from inside the church.

Since the early middle-ages, Saint Agnes is usually depicted holding a lamb (agnus - a pun on her name) as a symbol of her purity. At least since the 9th Century, each year on the Feast of Saint Agnes, two lambs are solemnly blessed at the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura. From the wool of these lambs are made the pallium (a strip of white wool with black crosses woven into the fabric) given by the Pope to an archbishop as a sign of office.

 

Propers for the Feast of Saint Agnes

Collect:
Almighty ever-living God,
who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong,
mercifully grant,
that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes,
may follow her constancy in the faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."

Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:44-46
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.


19 posted on 01/21/2013 8:46:38 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Agnes: “Shining with the fire of divine love” (Catholic Caucus)
Pope blesses lambs on feast of St. Agnes
Looking for a husband? Pray to St Agnes...
St. Agnes, V. M. [Virgin and Martyr]
20 posted on 01/21/2013 8:47:45 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Information:
St. Agnes
Feast Day: January 21
Born:

291

Died: 304
Major Shrine:: Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Patron of: Betrothed couples; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; virgins



21 posted on 01/21/2013 8:52:59 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Interactive Saints for Kids

St. Agnes


Feast Day: January 21
Born:292 :: Died: 304

St. Agnes was a Roman girl who loved Jesus so much that she chose only him for her husband. She was very beautiful and when she was just twelve years old, many young men wished to marry her. But as Agnes had given her heart to Jesus, she would always say, "Jesus is my only husband."

She even turned down the governor's son, who became very angry. He tried to win her affection with gifts and promises but Agnes said to him, "I am already promised to the Lord." Agnes was accused of being a Christian and brought to the governor.

Then she was taken to a Roman temple in Minerva (Athena), and asked to sacrifice to pagan gods. When Agnes was led to the altar, she made the Sign of the Cross.

The governor tried to scare her by putting her in chains, but even then she refused to turn against God. Agnes suffered other tortures. Finally, she was condemned and killed for her faith at the young age of twelve in 304.

St. Ambrose and other well-known early Church saints have written about this brave girl. Agnes is buried in a cemetery named after her. In 354, Emperor Constantine's daughter built a large church there and had Agnes' body placed under the altar.

22 posted on 01/21/2013 8:57:08 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Catholic
Almanac:

Monday, January 21

Liturgical Color: Red


Today is the Memorial of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr. St. Agnes was martyred at a young age around 304 A.D. On her feast day 2 lambs are blessed and the wool they produce is used to make palliums given to archbishops by the pope.


23 posted on 01/21/2013 3:15:17 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Catholic Culture

Daily Readings for: January 21, 2013
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Ordinary Time: January 21st

Memorial of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr

Old Calendar: St. Agnes

St. Agnes (c. 304) like St. Cecilia, is to be numbered among the most famous martyrs of Rome. When the Diocletian persecution was at its height, and when priests as well as laymen were apostatizing from the faith, Agnes, a girl of twelve, freely chose to die for Christ. When she was commanded to offer incense to false gods, she raised her hand to Christ and made the Sign of the Cross. When the heathens threatened to bind her hand and foot, she herself hastened to the place of torture as a bride to her wedding feast. Pain had no terror for her—although the fetters slipped from her small hands while even the pagan bystanders were moved to tears.

When the son of the Roman prefect offered to marry her, she replied: "The one to whom I am betrothed is Christ Whom the angels serve." When the executioner, who was to behead her, hesitated, she encouraged him with the words: "Strike, without fear, for the bride does her Spouse an injury if she makes Him wait". The name of "Agnes" means "lamb-life," and hence the lamb is the symbol of the modesty and innocence of the virgin-martyr.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


St. Agnes
Agnes is one of the most glorious saints in the calendar of the Roman Church. The greatest Church Fathers vie with one another in sounding her praise and glory. St. Jerome writes: "All nations, especially their Christian communities, praise in word and writing the life of St. Agnes. She triumphed over her tender age as well as over the merciless tyrant. To the crown of spotless innocence she added the glory of martyrdom."

Our saint's name should be traced to the Greek hagne - the pure, rather than to the Latin agna - lamb. But the Latin derivation prevailed in the early Church. The reason may have been that eight days after her death Agnes appeared to her parents with a train of virgins, and a lamb at her side. St. Augustine knew both derivations. "Agnes", he writes, "means 'lamb' in Latin, but in Greek it denotes 'the pure one'". The Latin interpretation occasioned the yearly blessing of the St. Agnes lambs; it takes place on this day in the Church of which she is patron, and the wool is used in weaving the palliums worn by archbishops and, through privilege, by some bishops. In the church built by the Emperor Constantine over the saint's grave, Pope Gregory the Great preached a number of homilies. Reliable details concerning the life of St. Agnes are very few. The oldest material occurs in St. Ambrose's De Virginibus, parts of which are read today at Matins. The value of the later (definitely unauthentic) "Passion" of the saint is enhanced by the fact that various antiphons and responsories in the Office are derived from it.

From such liturgical sources we may construct the following "life of St. Agnes". One day when Agnes, then thirteen years old, was returning home from school, she happened to meet Symphronius, a son of the city prefect. At once he became passionately attracted to her and tried to win her by precious gifts. Agnes repelled him, saying: "Away from me, food of death, for I have already found another lover" (r. Ant.). "With His ring my Lord Jesus Christ has betrothed me, and He has adorned me with the bridal crown" (3. Ant., Lauds). "My right hand and my neck He has encircled with precious stones, and has given me earrings with priceless pearls; He has decked me with lovely, glittering gems" (2. Ant.). "The Lord has clothed me with a robe of gold, He has adorned me with priceless jewels" (4. Ant.). "Honey and milk have I received from His mouth, and His blood has reddened my cheeks" (5. Ant.). "I love Christ, into whose chamber I shall enter, whose Mother is a virgin, whose Father knows not woman, whose music and melody are sweet to my ears. When I love Him, I remain chaste; when I touch Him, I remain pure; when I possess Him, I remain a virgin" (2. Resp.). "I am betrothed to Him whom the angels serve, whose beauty the sun and moon admire" (9. Ant.). "For Him alone I keep my troth, to Him I surrender with all my heart" (6. Ant.).

Incensed by her rebuff, Symphronius denounced Agnes to his father, the city prefect. When he threatened her with commitment to a house of ill fame, Agnes replied: "At my side I have a protector of my body, an angel of the Lord" (2. Ant., Lauds). "When Agnes entered the house of shame, she found an angel of the Lord ready to protect her" (1. Ant., Lauds). A light enveloped her and blinded all who tried to approach. Then another judge condemned her to the stake because the pagan priests accused her of sorcery.

Surrounded by flames she prayed with outstretched arms: "I beseech You, Father almighty, most worthy of awe and adoration. Through Your most holy Son I escaped the threats of the impious tyrant and passed through Satan's filth with feet unsullied. Behold, I now come to You, whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have always desired." She gave thanks as follows: "O You, the almighty One, who must be adored, worshipped, feared - I praise You because through Your only begotten Son I have escaped the threats of wicked men and have walked through the filth of sin with feet unsullied. I extol You with my lips, and I desire You with all my heart and strength."

After the flames died out, she continued: "I praise You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Your Son the fire around me was extinguished" (4. Ant., Lauds). And now she longed for union with Christ: "Behold, what I yearned for, I already see; what I hoped for, I already hold in embrace; with Him I am united in heaven whom on earth I loved with all my heart" (Ben. Ant.). Her wish was granted; the judge ordered her beheaded. —The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Affianced couples; betrothed couples; bodily purity; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; engaged couples; gardeners; Girl Scouts; girls; rape victims; diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; virgins.

Symbols: Lamb; woman with long hair and a lamb, sometimes with a sword at her throat; woman with a dove which holds a ring in its beak; woman with a lamb at her side.

Things to Do:

  • Read St. Ambrose's De Virginibus about the martyrdom of St. Agnes. "It is the birthday of a martyr, let us offer the victim. It is the birthday of St. Agnes, let men admire, let children take courage, let the married be astounded, let the unmarried take an example."

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Day Four: Walking as Children of the Earth

Awareness of our place in God’s creation draws us together, as we realize our interdependence upon one another and the earth. Contemplating the urgent calls to environmental care, and to proper sharing and justice with regard to the fruits of the earth, Christians are called into lives of active witness, in the spirit of the year of Jubilee.

Vatican Resources


24 posted on 01/21/2013 3:21:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Word Among Us

Meditation: Mark 2:18-22

 

Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

New wine is poured into fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:22)

At first, cars were a luxury for the wealthy. But that changed in 1908 when Henry Ford found a way to build a car that almost anyone could afford. An unconventional thinker, he invented the moving assembly line, which made the process so efficient he could double workers’ wages and still lower prices. Through his unorthodox approach, Henry Ford literally changed the transportation landscape.

In Jesus’ day, Judaism was often linked with scrupulous traditions and elite groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees. But Jesus wanted to share the good news in a way that anyone could hear, understand, and embrace. Like Henry Ford, he was considered unconventional, a revolutionary even, and many of his contemporaries didn’t know what to make of him. He welcomed the sinful with assurances that they were precious to God. He healed people on the Sabbath. Through his miracles, he made God’s mercy tangible, leaving crowds astounded.

Part of what made Jesus so effective was his gentle approach in calling as many people as possible. Rather than fasting with the righteous, he dined with sinners—not because he loved food but because he loved redeeming the lost souls who gathered around the table. He favored hearts that were pliable, like new wineskins that could accept the ever-expanding power of his message.

During this Year of Faith, God is asking us to take up a new evangelization, something that is “new in ardor, new in methods, and new in expression” (Pope John Paul II). He asks each of us to try to discover what strategy works best for us. For some, it may be direct one-to-one conversations. For others, it may be making sure our lives witness to our faith more clearly. Still others may choose to evangelize through acts of service to the poor and needy. For most of us, it may be a combination of many different approaches. There is no end to the possibilities—we just need to ask the Spirit to help us!

Pray today for opportunities to evangelize. Pray, also, that those who hear or see you will have hearts open to receiving God’s good news. Together, we can change the world more than Henry Ford ever did!

“Jesus, give me wisdom in witnessing to your love. Please send forth your Spirit to renew the face of the earth!”

Hebrews 5:1-10; Psalm 110:1-4


25 posted on 01/21/2013 3:41:36 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
A Christian Pilgrim

SAINT AGNES OF ROME, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

MEMORIAL: 21 JANUARY 

St-Agnes-Virgin-Martyr

Being one of the most venerated of all Roman martyrs, Saint Agnes was executed perhaps in 304, almost certainly in the early fourth century. This famous martyr is referred to by many of the early Church writers, such as St. Ambrose [c. 340-397], St. (Pope) Damasus [pontificate: 366-384], and Prudentius [c.348-c.410] – a Christian poet know for his hymns and apologies. Her name is mentioned in the canon of the Mass. Agnes lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian [Rule: 284-305] in third-century Rome as the daughter of a rich nobleman.

Her parents were Christian at a time when most of the upper classes were still pagan. They worshiped in secret because of the emperors wanted the people to worship the pagan gods and even worship the emperors as if divine. It is still possible to visit the catacombs in Rome, dug out by night, with their hollowed out chapels where the dead were buried. Such must have been the places of worship of Agnes and her family.

Agnes was very beautiful, and being affluent, was considered to be highly marriageable at the age of twelve. She had many suitors, but she had made a promise to belong only to Christ.

At this time Emperor Diocletian was bent on the complete destruction of Christianity. Confiscating all Christian property and sacred books, he also destroyed all the churches, priests, and bishops he could find.  The prisons were filled with Christians. His was to be the last of great persecutions that had taken place for two centuries.

One suitor insisted on winning Agnes for himself. He could not understand that she was pledged to another. In his history of the period, Pope Damasus alleges that Agnes was finally forced to acknowledge her Christianity publicly. At this point her resentful suitor arranged to have her cast into prison, hoping that she would chose him over torture. But Agnes longed to die for her true love and witness with her blood. When dragged to do homage to the pagan gods, she made the sign of the cross.

Then she was forced into a house of prostitution to be tormented by lustful young men. They stripped her while she prayed but were frustrated when her long hair covered her body. The others left, but her suitor tried once more to approach her and was struck blind. She forgave him and ask Christ to restore his sight. For these sensational deeds, she was considered a Christian witch and set in a fire to die, but the fire reached for the onlookers, not for her. Finally they killed her with a sword. She is a patroness of young girls.

For your life. In our times when rapes and threats of violence are so frequent, stories of girls and women of early Christian times who were forced to choose  between purity and violent attack do not seem so legendary. It is important to seek healing if one has been sexually violated. Christian women should also avoid the company of those who do not share gospel values of chastity.

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, may Saint Agnes intercede for us, Lord, as we celebrate with joy her yearly feast: her purity and strength of souls are precious gifts which light us on our way. We pray this in the most precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Note: The text is taken (with little additions) from Ronda De Sola Chervin, Treasury of Women Saints, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines: St. Pauls, 1994, pages 136-137. 


26 posted on 01/21/2013 4:25:31 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
 
Marriage = One Man and One Woman
Til' Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for January 21, 2013:

(Martin Luther King Day) Martin Luther King is an American icon. His marriage, however, wasn’t perfect. Nobody’s is. Do you and your beloved have an ongoing tiff? Dream up a win-win solution.


27 posted on 01/21/2013 4:39:14 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Regnum Christi

The New Joy of the Bridegroom
| SPIRITUAL LIFE | SPIRITUALITY
Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr


Father Walter Schu, LC

 

Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him and objected, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

Introductory Prayer: Jesus, what a joy and what a gift to have this time to be alone with you! I want to know you more deeply. I want to hope in you more firmly. I want to love you with greater constancy in my daily life. Only you can give me these gifts. Only you can make me a bold and joyful apostle of your Kingdom.

Petition: Lord, help me to experience the new joy that comes from carrying the cross alongside you.

1. The Joy of the Bridegroom:The Old Testament prophets, especially Hosea and Isaiah, describe the relationship between Israel and Yahweh as a marriage covenant. Israel is the bride, often an unfaithful one, and Yahweh is the bridegroom. When Christ refers to himself as the bridegroom, he is appropriating a title that had been reserved to God alone. Clearly, Jesus is much more than an ordinary rabbi. What experience do we most associate with a bridegroom and the wedding feast? Joy! “Although it is true that the cross is never absent from an authentically Christian life, it is equally true that the God who meets us on that cross is the same God who created the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the mountains, laughter, sunlight, and every earthly delight” (John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, p. 365). Christ came to bring us joy, a joy that would last into eternity.

2. Should Christians Fast? Christ says that when the bridegroom is taken away, then his disciples will fast. This is his first reference in the Gospel of Mark to his coming passion. Fasting is a way of sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Fasting, sacrifices, and acts of self-denial are also means to detach ourselves from earthly goods in order to cling more firmly to Christ himself. They make us aware of how much we need God. But these ways of sharing Christ’s cross should not make us glum followers. “Some Christians give the impression that following Christ is a somber affair, or that the Christian life consists above all of dour sacrifices and boring obligations. Joyless, dreary, dull. No wonder their friends want to stay as far away from Christianity as possible!... If our friendship with Christ does not fill us with contagious enthusiasm, we’re probably being a half-hearted friend” (John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, p. 365).


3. “Behold, I Make All Things New.”
The movie The Passion of the Christ puts this phrase from Revelation on Christ’s lips when he meets his mother Mary as he carries the cross to Calvary. Christ’s “narrow gate” of the cross leads to a radically new way of life. It brings an abundance of joy, a new vigor, interior peace. The new wine of the life of grace that Christ pours out on his followers must change not only their way of life, but even their internal attitudes and consciousness.  As St. Teresa of Avila once put it,  “A sad saint is a bad saint.” What obstacles in my life do I need to overcome in order to follow Christ with greater joy and to radiate that joy to others?

Conversation with Christ:
Thank you, Lord, for the new life you came to bring — your own divine life of grace inside me and each of your followers who is faithful to you. Help me to share that joy with others. I long to be a true apostle of your joy.

Resolution:
Today I will forget about myself and seek only to help make those around me joyful.


28 posted on 01/21/2013 4:51:10 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Mark
  English: Douay-Rheims Latin: Vulgata Clementina Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)
  Mark 2
18 And the disiples of John and the Pharisees used to fast; and they come and say to him: Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast; but thy disciples do not fast? Et erant discipuli Joannis et pharisæi jejunantes : et veniunt, et dicunt illi : Quare discipuli Joannis et pharisæorum jejunant, tui autem discipuli non jejunant ? και ησαν οι μαθηται ιωαννου και οι των φαρισαιων νηστευοντες και ερχονται και λεγουσιν αυτω δια τι οι μαθηται ιωαννου και οι των φαρισαιων νηστευουσιν οι δε σοι μαθηται ου νηστευουσιν
19 And Jesus saith to them: Can the children of the marriage fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. Et ait illis Jesus : Numquid possunt filii nuptiarum, quamdiu sponsus cum illis est, jejunare ? Quanto tempore habent secum sponsum, non possunt jejunare. και ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους μη δυνανται οι υιοι του νυμφωνος εν ω ο νυμφιος μετ αυτων εστιν νηστευειν οσον χρονον μεθ εαυτων εχουσιν τον νυμφιον ου δυνανται νηστευειν
20 But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them; and then they shall fast in those days. Venient autem dies cum auferetur ab eis sponsus : et tunc jejunabunt in illis diebus. ελευσονται δε ημεραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ο νυμφιος και τοτε νηστευσουσιν εν εκειναις ταις ημεραις
21 No man seweth a piece of raw cloth to an old garment: otherwise the new piecing taketh away from the old, and there is made a greater rent. Nemo assumentum panni rudis assuit vestimento veteri : alioquin aufert supplementum novum a veteri, et major scissura fit. και ουδεις επιβλημα ρακους αγναφου επιρραπτει επι ιματιω παλαιω ει δε μη αιρει το πληρωμα αυτου το καινον του παλαιου και χειρον σχισμα γινεται
22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the wine will burst the bottles, and both the wine will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost. But new wine must be put into new bottles. Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres : alioquin dirumpet vinum utres, et vinum effundetur, et utres peribunt : sed vinum novum in utres novos mitti debet. και ουδεις βαλλει οινον νεον εις ασκους παλαιους ει δε μη ρησσει ο οινος ο νεος τους ασκους και ο οινος εκχειται και οι ασκοι απολουνται αλλα οινον νεον εις ασκους καινους βλητεον

29 posted on 01/21/2013 6:06:01 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
18. And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say to him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples fast not?
19. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
21. No man also sews a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up takes away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22. And no man puts new wine into old bottles: else the new wine does burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

GLOSS. As above, the Master was accused to the disciples for keeping company with sinners in their feasts, so now, on the other hand, the disciples are complained of to the Master for their omission of fasts, that so matter for dissension might arise amongst them. Wherefore it is said, And the disciples of John and the Pharisees used to fast.

THEOPHYL. For the disciples of John being in an imperfect state, continued in Jewish customs.

AUG. But it may be thought that he added Pharisees, because they joined with the disciples of John in saying this to the Lord, whilst in Matthew relates that the disciples of John alone said it: but the words which follow rather show that those who said it spoke not of themselves, but of others. For it goes on, And they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples, &c. For these words show, that the guests who were there came to Jesus, and had said this same thing to the disciples, so that in the words which he uses, they came, he speaks not of those same persons, of whom he had said, And the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting. But as they were fasting, those persons who remembered it, come to him. Matthew then says this, And there came to him the disciples of John, saying, because the Apostles also were there, and all eagerly, as each could, objected these things.

CHRYS. The disciples of John, therefore, and of the Pharisees, being jealous of Christ, ask Him, whether He alone of all men with His disciples could, without abstinence and toil, conquer in the fight of the passions.

BEDE; But John did not drink wine and strong drink, because he who has no power by nature, obtains more merit by abstinence. But why should the Lord, to whom it naturally belonged to forgive sins, shun those whom he could make more pure, than those who fast? But Christ also fasted, lest He should break the precept, He ate with sinners, that you might see His grace, and acknowledge His power. It goes on; And Jesus said to them, Can the children, &c.

AUG. Mark here calls them children of the nuptials, whom Matthew calls children of the bridegroom; for we understand the children of the nuptials to be not only those of the bride-groom, but also of the bride.

PSEUD-CHRYS. He then calls Himself a bridegroom, as if about to be betrothed to the Church. For the betrothal is giving an earnest, namely, that of the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which the world believed.

THEOPHYL. He also calls Himself a bridegroom, not only as betrothing to Himself virgin minds, but because the time of His first coming is not a time of sorrow, nor of sadness to believers, neither does it bring with it toil, but rest. For it is without any works of the law, giving rest by baptism, by which we easily obtain salvation without toil. But the sons of the nuptials or of the Bridegroom are the Apostles; because they, by the grace of God, are made worthy of every heavenly blessing, by the grace of God, and partakers of every joy.

PSEUD-CHRYS. But intercourse with Him, He says, is far removed from all sorrow, when He adds, As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. He is sad, from whom some good is far removed; but be who has it present with him rejoices, and is not sad.

But that He might destroy their elation of heart, and show that He intended not His own disciples to be licentious, He adds, But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken, &c. as if He said, The time will come, when they will show their firmness; for when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, they will fast as longing for His coming, and in order to unite to Him their spirits, cleansed by bodily suffering. He shows also that there is no necessity for His disciples to fast, as having present with them the Bridegroom of human nature, Who every where executes the words of God, and Who gives the seed of life. The sons of the Bridegroom also cannot, because they are infants, be entirely conformed to their Father, the Bridegroom, Who, considering their infancy, deigns to allow them not to fast: but when the Bridegroom is gone, they will fast, through desire of Him; when they have been made perfect, they will be united to the Bridegroom in marriage, and will always feast at the king's banquet.

THEOPHYL. We must also understand, that every man whose works are good is the son of the Bridegroom; he has the Bridegroom with him, even Christ, and fasts not, that is, does no works of repentance, because he does not sin: but when the Bridegroom is taken away by the man's falling into sin, then lie fasts and is penitent, that he may cure his sin.

BEDE; But in a mystical sense, it may thus be expressed; that the disciples of John and the Pharisees fast, because every man who boasts of the works of the law without faith, who follows the traditions of men, and receives the preaching of Christ with his bodily ear, and not by the faith of the heart, keeps aloof from spiritual goods, and wastes away with a fasting soul. But he who is incorporated into the members of Christ by a faithful love cannot fast, because he feasts upon His Body and Blood. It goes on, No one sews a piece of rough that is new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that fills it up takes away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

PSEUD-CHRYS. As if He said, because these are preachers of the New Testament, it is not possible that they should serve old laws; but you who follow old customs, fitly observe the fasts of Moses. But for these, who are about to hand down to men new and wonderful observances, it is not necessary to observe the old traditions, but to be virtuous in mind; some time or other however they will observe fasting with other Virtues. But this fasting is different from time fasting of the law, for that was one of restraint, this of goodwill; on account of the fervor of the Spirit, Whom they cannot yet receive, Wherefore it goes on, And no one puts new wine into old bottles: else the new wine does burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new Wine must be put in new bottles.

BEDE; For He compares His disciples to old bottles, who would burst at spiritual precepts, rather than be held in restraint by them. But they will be new bottles, when after the ascension of the Lord, they are renewed by desiring His consolation, and then new wine will come to the new bottles, that is, the fervor of the Holy Ghost will fill the hearts of spiritual men. A teacher must also take heed not to commit the hidden things of new mysteries to a soul, hardened in old wickedness.

THEOPHYL. Or else the disciples are likened to old garments on account of the infirmity of their minds, on which it was not fitting to impose the heavy command of fasting.

BEDE; Neither was it fitting to sew on a new piece; that is, a portion of doctrine which teaches a general fast from all the joy of temporal delights; for if this be done, the teaching is rent, and agrees not with the old part. But by a new garment is intended good works, which are done externally, and by the new wine, is expressed the fervor of faith, hope, and charity, by which we are reformed in our minds.

Catena Aurea Mark 2
30 posted on 01/21/2013 6:06:41 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex


The Wedding Feast at Cana

Coptic icon

31 posted on 01/21/2013 6:07:10 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: Salvation

glad to read about St Agnes .... I was always confused about this saint because many I run into do not know of St Agnes of Assisi (Nov 16, the other St Agnes), younger sister of St Clare.


32 posted on 01/21/2013 7:30:40 PM PST by campaignPete R-CT (we're the Beatniks now)
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To: campaignPete R-CT

Very different from St. Agnes of Asissi.


33 posted on 01/21/2013 9:42:02 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Delight in the Lord

 

by Food For Thought on January 21, 2013 · 

There is a great deal of bridal or wedding spirituality in the Old Testament: that is, relating to God as to one’s spouse. To take just one example, in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God says: “You shall be called `My delight is in her. For the Lord delights in you. As a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

There are very good reasons why a Christian disciple might fast. But they are just reasons. They are not a gloomy and miserly attitude that can appear very religious while being nothing of the sort. A reason may be valid for a particular occasion or a particular time. But the same reason may be unreasonable for another occasion and time. Joy is the chief characteristic of a Christian, joy even in tribulation. Joy is one of the first fruits of the Spirit.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is referring to such passages when he replied, “How can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” While the spirit of joy is around, be filled with it. Then it will stay around us a little longer. And when we have to move into sadness there will still be some effect, some coloring of that joy in us. Our sadness will not be miserable but quiet and deep. But if our joy is measured and miserable, our sadness will be an even greater misery. Our joy and our sorrow compensate each other.


34 posted on 01/21/2013 9:47:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body

 


<< Monday, January 21, 2013 >> St. Agnes
 
Hebrews 5:1-10
View Readings
Psalm 110:1-4 Mark 2:18-22
 

THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING

 
"He learned obedience from what He suffered." —Hebrews 5:8
 

What a gift suffering can be! You may be unable to perform physical or mental feats, but you are always able to suffer. Everyone can suffer. Contrary to the "wisdom" of the culture of death, suffering has great value. When everything goes perfectly for you, it's not hard to obey. "What merit is there in that?" (Mt 5:46) Even Satan commented on this when Job was blessed with prosperity, saying "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" (Jb 1:9-10).

When we can obey God as we suffer, that is a grace in us (see 1 Pt 4:13-14). This is a tremendous witness to others of our belief in the absolute lordship of Jesus. We actually learn obedience from suffering (Heb 5:8). Suffering has such great power that Jesus chose to redeem us through His suffering.

God Himself didn't create suffering, but He allows it for greater purposes. Jesus removes much unnecessary suffering through healings and miracles, but those sufferings He allows we can offer redemptively on behalf of His body (see Col 1:24). It is our joy and privilege to suffer redemptively (Phil 1:29). Through your redemptive suffering, teach a hurting world to obey God.

 
Prayer: Father, "I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us" (Rm 8:18).
Promise: Jesus "became the Source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him." —Heb 5:9
Praise: St. Agnes accepted the sword of death so that she could maintain her virginity for Christ.

35 posted on 01/21/2013 9:49:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

"What you do to the unborn child,

you do to Jesus."

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

36 posted on 01/21/2013 9:50:50 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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