Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 02-21-14, OM, St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor/Church
Posted on 02/20/2014 8:05:02 PM PST by Salvation
February 21, 2014
Reading 1 Jas 2:14-24, 26
What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say,
“You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one.
You do well.
Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness,
and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (see 1b) Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who greatly delights in the Lord’s commands.
Gospel Mk 8:34-9:1
Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”
From: James 2:14-24, 26
Faith Without Good Works Is Dead
 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your
faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You
believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
Examples from the Bible
14-26. This passage forms the core of the letter. The sapiential method (often
used in the Old Testament) and pedagogical style of the passage help to engrave
the message on the readers’ minds: unless faith is accompanied by works, it is
barren, dead. This basic message, with different variances, is stated up to five
times (verses 14, 17, 18, 20, 26), in a cyclical, repetitive way.
The initial rhetorical question (verse 14) and the simple, vivid example of a person
who is content with giving good advice to someone in urgent need of the bare es-
sentials (verses 15-16), catch the disciples’ attention and predispose them to ac-
cept the core message, which is couched in the form of a sapiential maxim
The narrative retains its conventional tone, with a series of questions; we are
given three examples of faith: firstly (a negative example), the faith of demons,
which is of no avail (verses 18-19); contrasting with this, the faith of Abraham,
the model and father of believers (verses 20-23); and finally, the faith of a sinner
whose actions won her salvation, Rabah, the prostitute (verses 24-25). The last
sentence once again repeats the essential idea: “faith apart from works is dead”
14. This teaching is perfectly in line with that of the Master: “Not every one who
says to Me, `Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does
the will of My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
A faith without deeds cannot obtain salvation: “Even though incorporated into the
Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains
indeed in the bosom of the Church, but `in body’ not `in heart’. All children of the
Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results not
from their own merits but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in
thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they
shall be the more severely judged” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 14).
In the Christian life, therefore, there needs to be complete consistency between
the faith we profess and the deeds we do. “Unity of life”, one of the key features
of the spirituality of Opus Dei, tries to counter the danger of people leading a dou-
ble life, “on the one hand, an inner life, a life related to God; and on the other, as
something separate and distinct, their professional, social and family lives, made
up of small earthly realities [...]. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit.
And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with
God: we discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things” (St. J.
Escriva, “In Love with the Church”, 52).
15-16. This very graphic example is similar to that in the First Letter of St. John:
“If any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his
heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17); and the
conclusion is also along the same lines: “Little children, let us not love in word
or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). St. Paul gives the same tea-
ching: “the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians
4:20). Actions, works, measure the genuineness of the Christian life; they show
whether our faith and charity are real.
Almsgiving, for example, so often praised and recommended in Scripture (cf.,
e.g., Deuteronomy 15:11; Tobias 4:7-11; Luke 12:33; Acts 9:36; 2 Corinthians 8:
9), is very often a duty. Christ “will count a kindness done or refused to the poor
as done or refused to Himself [...]. Whoever has received from the divine bounty
a large share of temporal blessings whether they be external or material, or gifts
of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting
of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the ste-
ward of God’s providence, for the benefit of others” (Leo XIII, “Rerum Novarum”,
17. As well as involving firm adherence to revealed truth, faith must influence a
Christian’s ordinary life and be a standard against which he measures his con-
duct. When one’s works are not in accordance with one’s beliefs, then one’s
faith is dead.
Christian teaching also describes as “dead faith” the faith of a person in mortal
sin: because he is not in the grace of God he does not have charity, which is as
it were the soul of all the other virtues. “Faith without hope and charity neither
perfectly unites a man with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.
Therefore it is said most truly that `faith apart from works is dead’ (James 2:17ff)
and useless” (Council of Trent, “De Iustificatione”, 7).
18. The Apostle makes it crystal clear that faith without work makes no sense at
all. “The truth of faith includes not only inner belief, but also outward profession,
which is expressed not only by declaration of one’s belief, but also by the actions
by which a person shows that he has faith” (St. Thomas, “Summa Theologiae”,
II-II, q. 124, a. 5).
19. St. James goes as far as to compare a faith without works with the kind of
faith devils have, for they do believe: they are forced to believe by the evidence
of the signs (miracles and prophecies, for example) which support Christian tea-
ching (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, II-II, q. 5, a. 2). However, that faith is not saving
faith; on the contrary, it causes them to cringe by reminding them of divine jus-
tice and eternal punishment.
Commenting on this verse, St. Bede says that it is one thing to believe God, a-
nother thing to believe in God, and another to believe “towards” God (”credere in
illum”). “Believing Him is believing that what He says is true. Believing in Him
is believing that He is God. Believing `towards’ Him is loving Him. Many people,
even bad people, believe that God tells the truth; they believe it is the truth and
they do not want to, are too lazy to, follow the way truth points. Believing that
He is God is something the devils are able to do. But believing and tending to-
wards Him is true only of those who love God, who are Christians not in name
only but whose actions and lives prove them to be so. For without love faith is
of no avail. With love, it is the faith of a Christian; without love, it is the faith of
the devil” (”Super Iac. Expositio, ad loc.”).
20-26. The original addressees of the letter (Christians of Jewish background
steeped in Scripture) would have been very familiar with the two examples from
the Old Testament (Abraham and Rahab).
The patriarch Abraham is a model of faith (cf. especially Hebrews 11:8ff). St.
James highlights the fact that his faith was manifested in deeds (verse 22),
so much so that he was ready to sacrifice his own son when God, to test him,
asked him to do so (cf. Genesis 22:1ff). The text of Genesis 15:6 quoted here
(verse 23) is also used by St. Paul in his polemic against the Judaizers, to show
that “first justification” comes from faith and not from works of the Mosaic Law
(cf. Romans 4:1-25; Galatians 3:6-9); that is, Abraham was justified from the
very moment he believed in God; his works would not have any value without that
direct reference to God. In Abraham, as in every Christian who acts consistently,
faith and works totally imbue each other: works show forth faith, and faith inspires
and performs works (verses 22, 24).
The story of Rahab (verse 25) is told in the Book of Joshua (2:1-21; 6:17-25): this
woman, who was living among the Canaanites, saved the lives of two Israelite
spies whom Joshua had sent into Jericho, and for this reason she and her family
were saved when the Israelites took the city. Her actions showed her faith (cf. Jo-
shua 2:9-14; Hebrews 11:31), and led not only to her coming out unscathed and
becoming a member of the people of Israel; it also won her the honor of being one
of the four foreign women mentioned in the Gospel in our Lord’s ancestral tree (cf.
These two examples clearly show that God calls all men to believe and that all
can and should manifest their faith by exemplary living.
22-24. The Magisterium of the Church quotes these verses when it teaches that
justification, righteousness, received as a free gift in the Sacrament of Baptism,
grows in strength as the Christian responds to grace by keeping the command-
ments of God and of the Church; the righteous, the just, “increase in the very
justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, their faith is com-
pleted by works (cf. James 2:22), and they are justified the more, as it is written,
`Let the righteous still do right’ (Revelation 22:11), [...] and again: `You see that
a man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24)” (Council of
Trent, “De Iustificatione”, 10).
23. “It was reckoned to him as righteousness”: St. Paul (cf. Galatians 3:6 and
note) uses these words of Genesis 15:6 to explain that righteousness is attained
not just by Abraham’s descendants but by all who believe the word of God, whe-
ther they be Jews or not; St. James, from another perspective, quotes this text
to show that Abraham’s faith made him righteous, that is, holy. Both teachings
are complementary. Abraham believed in the divine promise that he would be
the father of a great people despite his age and his wife’s sterility; but that faith
was reinforced and manifested when it met the test God set—that of sacrificing
his only son, while still believing in the earlier promise. The same thing happens
in the case of the Christian: his initial faith is strengthened by obedience to the
commandments, and he thereby attains holiness.
“The friend of God”: Scripture also gives this touching title to Abraham (cf. Isaiah
41:8; Daniel 3:35, New Vulgate) and our Lord uses it to describe His Apostles: “I
have called you friends” (John 15:15). These are not just isolated examples, for
God calls all to be His friends; He wishes to be as intimate with everyone as He
was with Abraham and the Apostles: “We do not exist in order to pursue just any
happiness. We have been called to penetrate the intimacy of God’s own life, to
know and love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and to love
also—in that same love of the one God in three divine Persons—the angels and all
men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 133).
26. In speaking of “the spirit” St. James is referring to the “breathe of life”, “brea-
thing”. The comparison (like all those in the letter) is very graphic: we recognize
a body to be alive by its breathing: if it is not breathing it is a corpse; similarly, a
faith that is alive expresses itself in actions, especially in the acts of charity.
“Just as when a body moves we know it is alive,” St. Bernard explains, “so too
good works show that faith is alive. The soul gives life to the body, causing it to
move and feel; charity gives life to faith, causing it to act, as the Apostle says,
`faith working through love’ (Galatians 5:6). Just as the body dies when its soul
leaves it, so faith dies when charity grows cold. Therefore, when you see some-
one who is active in good works and happy and eager in his conduct, you can
be sure that faith is alive in him: his life clearly proves it to be so” (”Second
Sermon on the Holy Day of Easter”, 1).
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.
From: Mark 8:34-9:1
Christian Renunciation (Continuation)
 And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who
will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.”
35. “Life”: in the original text and the New Vulgate the word literally means “soul.”
But here, as in many other cases, “soul” and “life” are equivalent. The word “life”
is used, clearly, in a double sense: earthly life and eternal life, the life of man here-
on earth and man’s eternal happiness in Heaven. Death can put an end to earthly
life, but it cannot destroy eternal life (cf. Matthew 10:28), the life which can only
be given by Him who brings the dead back to life.
Understood in this way, we can grasp the paradoxical meaning of our Lord’s
phrase: whoever wishes to save his (earthly) life will lose his (eternal) life. But
whoever loses his (earthly) life for Me and the Gospel, will save his (eternal) life.
What, then, does saving one’s (earthly) life mean? It means living this life as if
there were no other — letting oneself be controlled by the lust of the flesh and the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16). And losing one’s (earthly)
life means mortifying, by continuous ascetical effort, this triple concupiscence —
that is, taking up one’s cross (verse 34)—and consequently seeking and savoring
the things that are God’s and not the things of the earth (cf. Colossians 3:1-2).
36-37. Jesus promises eternal life to those who are willing to lose earthly life for
His sake. He has given us example: He is the Good Shepherd who lays down
His life for His sheep (John 10:15); and He fulfilled in His own case what He said
to the Apostles on the night before He died: “Greater love has no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
38. Each person’s eternal destiny will be decided by Christ. He is the Judge who
will come to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 16:27). The sentence will de-
pend on how faithful each has been in keeping the Lord’s commandments — to
love God and to love one’s neighbor, for God’s sake. On that day Christ will not
recognize as His disciple anyone who is ashamed to imitate Jesus’ humility and
example and follow the precepts of the Gospel for fear of displeasing the world or
worldly people: he has failed to confess by his life the faith which he claims to
hold. A Christian, then, should never be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16);
he should never let himself be drawn away by the worldliness around him; rather
he should exercise a decisive influence on his environment, counting on the help
of God’s grace. The first Christians changed the ancient pagan world. God’s arm
has not grown shorter since their time (cf. Isaiah 59:1). Cf. Matthew 10:32-33 and
note on same.
9:1. The coming of the Kingdom of God with power does not seem to refer to the
second, glorious coming of Jesus at the end of time (the Parousia); it may, rather,
indicate the amazing spread of the Church in the lifetime of the Apostles. Many
of those present here will witness this. The growth and spread of the Church in
the world can be explained only by the divine power God gives to the mystical bo-
dy of Christ. The Transfiguration of our Lord, which is recounted in the next pas-
sage, is a sign, given to the Apostles, of Jesus’ divinity and of the divine powers
which He will give His Church.
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.
James 2:14-24,26 ©
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God – that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realise, you senseless man, that faith without good deeds is useless. You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified; and that is why he was called ‘the friend of God.’
You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified. A body dies when it is separated from the spirit, and in the same way faith is dead if it is separated from good deeds.
Psalm 111:1-6 ©
Happy the man who fears the Lord,
who takes delight in all his commands.
His sons will be powerful on earth;
the children of the upright are blessed.
Riches and wealth are in his house;
his justice stands firm for ever.
He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.
The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
Whenever anyone obeys what Christ has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
Mark 8:34-9:1 ©
Jesus called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to win the whole world and ruin his life? And indeed what can a man offer in exchange for his life? For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ And he said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’
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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.
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: II 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
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.
From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:
"Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8"
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Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of February has been primarily asociated with the Holy Family, probably due to the feast of Our Lord's presentation at the temple, celebrated on February 2. At the very outset of Christ's work on earth, God showed the world a family in which, as Pope Leo XIII teaches, "all men might behold a perfect model of domestic life, and of all virtue and holiness." The harmony, unity, and holiness which characterized this holy Family make it the model for all Christian families.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most kind, Bless us now and in death's agony.
FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY
O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou defend us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace, and concord in Christian love: in order that, by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Thy family, we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.
Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by thy kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.
O Saint Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity.
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, three times.
IN HONOR OF THE HOLY FAMILY
O God, heavenly Father, it was part of Thine eternal decree that Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, should form a holy family with Mary, His blessed mother, and His foster father, Saint Joseph. In Nazareth home life was sanctified, and a perfect example was given to every Christian family. Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may fully comprehend and faithfully imitate the virtues of the Holy Family so that we may be united with them one day in their heavenly glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. 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
Holy Family Chaplet
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, be with me in my last hour.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul
in peace with you.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse. Amen.
Say 3 Our Father's, 3 Hail Mary's, and 3 Glory be's.
THE HOLY FAMILY
GOD our Heavenly Father, You call all peoples to be united as one family in worshipping You as the one and true God. You willed that Your Son become man, giving Him a virgin mother and a foster father to form the Holy Family of Nazareth.
WE pray: may the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, image and model of every human family unit walk in the spirit of Nazareth and grow in the understanding of its particular mission in society and the Church. May our families be living cells of love, faithfulness and unity, thus reflecting God's covenant with humanity and Christ's redeeming love for His Church.
JESUS, Mary and Joseph protect our families from all evil; keep us, who are away from home, one in love with our dear ones.
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Universal: That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.
For Evangelization: That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization.
Friday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time
Commentary of the day
Saint Raphael Arnaiz Baron (1911-1938), a Spanish Trappist monk
Spiritual writings 07/04/1938 (trans. Mairin Mitchell)
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me"
What joy to live in the Cross of Christ! Who could complain of suffering? Only the insensate man who does not adore the Passion of Christ, the Cross of Christ, the Heart of Christ, can in his own griefs, give way to despair... How good it is to live united with the Cross of Christ.
Christ Jesus... teach me that truth which consists in rejoicing in scorn, injury, degradation; teach me to suffer with that humble, silent joy of the saints; teach me to be gentle towards those who don't love me or who despise me; teach me that truth which from the mound of Calvary you reveal to the whole world.
But I know: a very gentle voice within me explains it all; I feel something in me which comes from you and which I don't know how to put into words; so much mystery is revealed that man cannot apprehend it. I, Lord, in my way, do understand it. It is love. In that is everything. I know it, Lord, nothing more is needed, nothing more, it is love! Who shall describe the love of Christ? Let men, creatures, and all things, keep silent, so that we may hear in the stillness the whisperings of love, meek, patient, immense, infinite, which from the Cross Jesus offers us with his arms open. The world, mad, doesn't listen.
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The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Saint Peter Damian,
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
St. Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk, was the author of many important works on the liturgy, as well as on theology and morals. He supported the future Pope St. Gregory VII in his struggle for the rights of the Church.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we may so follow the teaching and example
of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian,
that, putting nothing before Christ
and always ardent in the service of your Church,
we may be led to the joys of eternal light.
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: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
Saint Peter Damian
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During the Catecheses of these Wednesdays I am commenting on several important people in the life of the Church from her origins. Today I would like to reflect on one of the most significant figures of the 11th century, St Peter Damian, a monk, a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform, initiated by the Popes of the time. He was born in Ravenna in 1007, into a noble family but in straitened circumstances. He was left an orphan and his childhood was not exempt from hardships and suffering, although his sister Roselinda tried to be a mother to him and his elder brother, Damian, adopted him as his son. For this very reason he was to be called Piero di Damiano, Pier Damiani [Peter of Damian, Peter Damian]. He was educated first at Faenza and then at Parma where, already at the age of 25, we find him involved in teaching. As well as a good grounding in the field of law, he acquired a refined expertise in the art of writing the ars scribendi and, thanks to his knowledge of the great Latin classics, became "one of the most accomplished Latinists of his time, one of the greatest writers of medieval Latin" (J. Leclercq, Pierre Damien, ermite et homme d'Église, Rome, 1960, p. 172).
He distinguished himself in the widest range of literary forms: from letters to sermons, from hagiographies to prayers, from poems to epigrams. His sensitivity to beauty led him to poetic contemplation of the world. Peter Damian conceived of the universe as a never-ending "parable" and a sequence of symbols on which to base the interpretation of inner life and divine and supra-natural reality. In this perspective, in about the year 1034, contemplation of the absolute of God impelled him gradually to detach himself from the world and from its transient realties and to withdraw to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana. It had been founded only a few decades earlier but was already celebrated for its austerity. For the monks' edification he wrote the Life of the Founder, St Romuald of Ravenna, and at the same time strove to deepen their spirituality, expounding on his ideal of eremitic monasticism.
One detail should be immediately emphasized: the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others. "Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ", he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117); and he described himself as "Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ" (Ep, 9, 1). Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: "O Blessed Cross", he exclaimed, "You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints" (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304). Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God's love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.
This great monk compiled a Rule for eremitical life in which he heavily stressed the "rigour of the hermit": in the silence of the cloister the monk is called to spend a life of prayer, by day and by night, with prolonged and strict fasting; he must put into practice generous brotherly charity in ever prompt and willing obedience to the prior. In study and in the daily meditation of Sacred Scripture, Peter Damian discovered the mystical meaning of the word of God, finding in it nourishment for his spiritual life. In this regard he described the hermit's cell as the "parlour in which God converses with men". For him, living as a hermit was the peak of Christian existence, "the loftiest of the states of life" because the monk, now free from the bonds of worldly life and of his own self, receives "a dowry from the Holy Spirit and his happy soul is united with its heavenly Spouse" (Ep 18, 17; cf. Ep 28, 43 ff.). This is important for us today too, even though we are not monks: to know how to make silence within us to listen to God's voice, to seek, as it were, a "parlour" in which God speaks with us: learning the word of God in prayer and in meditation is the path to life.
St Peter Damian, who was essentially a man of prayer, meditation and contemplation, was also a fine theologian: his reflection on various doctrinal themes led him to important conclusions for life. Thus, for example, he expresses with clarity and liveliness the Trinitarian doctrine, already using, under the guidance of biblical and patristic texts, the three fundamental terms which were subsequently to become crucial also for the philosophy of the West: processio, relatio and persona (cf. Opusc. XXXVIII: PL CXLV, 633-642; and Opusc. II and III: ibid., 41 ff. and 58 ff). However, because theological analysis of the mystery led him to contemplate the intimate life of God and the dialogue of ineffable love between the three divine Persons, he drew ascetic conclusions from them for community life and even for relations between Latin and Greek Christians, divided on this topic. His meditation on the figure of Christ is significantly reflected in practical life, since the whole of Scripture is centred on him. The "Jews", St Peter Damian notes, "through the pages of Sacred Scripture, bore Christ on their shoulders as it were" (Sermo XLVI, 15). Therefore Christ, he adds, must be the centre of the monk's life: "May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may he be perceived in our hearts" (Sermo VIII, 5). Intimate union with Christ engages not only monks but all the baptized. Here we find a strong appeal for us too not to let ourselves be totally absorbed by the activities, problems and preoccupations of every day, forgetting that Jesus must truly be the centre of our life.
Communion with Christ creates among Christians a unity of love. In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion. "Christ's Church", he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member; in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church". This is important: not only that the whole universal Church should be united, but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us. Thus the service of the individual becomes "an expression of universality" (Ep 28, 9-23). However, the ideal image of "Holy Church" illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time. For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls. Their moral life frequently left much to be desired. For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia. So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform. He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church's renewal contemplation did not suffice. He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions.
Because of his love for monastic life, 10 years later, in 1067, he obtained permission to return to Fonte Avellana and resigned from the Diocese of Ostia. However, the tranquillity he had longed for did not last long: two years later, he was sent to Frankfurt in an endeavour to prevent the divorce of Henry iv from his wife Bertha. And again, two years later, in 1071, he went to Monte Cassino for the consecration of the abbey church and at the beginning of 1072, to Ravenna, to re-establish peace with the local Archbishop who had supported the antipope bringing interdiction upon the city.
On the journey home to his hermitage, an unexpected illness obliged him to stop at the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria Vecchia Fuori Porta in Faenza, where he died in the night between 22 and 23 February 1072.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great grace that the Lord should have raised up in the life of the Church a figure as exuberant, rich and complex as St Peter Damian. Moreover, it is rare to find theological works and spirituality as keen and vibrant as those of the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana. St Peter Damian was a monk through and through, with forms of austerity which to us today might even seem excessive. Yet, in that way he made monastic life an eloquent testimony of God's primacy and an appeal to all to walk towards holiness, free from any compromise with evil. He spent himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time. He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and to the Church, but always remained, as he liked.