Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

Image result for icon panocrator Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,  and I will give you rest.

 

“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

 

 

 

Image result for icon st. benedict

Gracious and holy Father,
 please give me:

Intellect to understand you;
 reason to discern you;
 diligence to seek you;
 wisdom to find you;
 a spirit to know you;
 a heart to meditate upon you; 
ears to hear you;
 eyes to see you;
 a tongue to proclaim you;
 a way of life pleasing to you;
 patience to wait for you; 
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me 
a perfect end,
 your holy presence, blessed resurrection, and life everlasting.  Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who in the abasement of your Son

have raised up a fallen world,

fill your faithful with holy joy,

for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin

you bestow eternal gladness.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who live and reign with God the Father in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

PalmSunday-04.jpg

Zec 9:9-10

Thus says the LORD:

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,

shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king shall come to you;

a just savior is he,

meek, and riding on an ass,

on a colt, the foal of an ass.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,

and the horse from Jerusalem;

the warrior’s bow shall be banished,

and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.1 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.2 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.3 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.4 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,5 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

1 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.

2 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.

3 Cf. Jn 18:37.

4 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.

5 Cf. Ps 118:26.

APPLICATION

The fulfillment of the age-old messianic prophecies in the person of Christ, is one of the proofs that Christ was the Messiah–the anointed king, priest and prophet–whom God had promised to send to the Chosen People. Only God can foresee contingent future events, that is, events that need not happen. I can foresee that if I set my alarm clock for 7 a.m. and wind it, it will ring at 7 a.m., but I cannot foresee that I shall be involved in a car-crash next week. The prophets of the Old Testament, illuminated by God, foretold many things concerning the future Messiah. These things were fulfilled in Christ and in no one else. Therefore, he was the one God had promised. These very prophecies were given by God beforehand so that his Messiah would be recognized when he came. And they were referred to by Christ as proofs that he was the promised Messiah (Lk. 24: 25-27).

Yet, so many of the Chosen People who knew the prophecies and saw them fulfilled in Christ, refused to accept him as such. Today’s prophecy is an evident case of this. How can one explain such blindness of intellect and such stubbornness of will? Humanly speaking, God had a difficult time dealing with his Chosen People, and yet he never once deserted them or departed from the promise he had first given to Abraham, and repeated century after century until the “fulness of time” came, and Christ appeared on earth. He fulfilled his promise to them, even though they had again and again proved themselves utterly unworthy of his kindness.

We wonder which should amaze us most: the ingratitude, the hardness of heart, the utter worldliness of the Jews, or the infinite mercy and patience of God, who not only spared and tolerated such a people, but actually loved them to the end. He did not desert them. It was they who deserted him. “He came unto his own but his own received him not” (Jn. 1 : 11).

We have a problem nearer home which can occupy our intellects more profitably than that of the meanness of the Jews toward their loving and merciful God. While the leaders of the Jews rejected Christ as an impostor and a blasphemer, our ancestors–the Gentile nations–accepted him gladly as their Redeemer and as the Son of God, who had become man and who came on earth to bring them to heaven. This is still our faith, and it is still the one and only true explanation of man’s life on this earth. We are here to prepare ourselves to merit heaven, the eternal life which Christ has earned for us. That life is the only explanation of why God created us, and the only answer to the human capabilities and natural desires that he instilled in our human nature. God raised us above all his other creatures, because he intended us to pass from this life to a future, everlasting state where perpetual joy and happiness would be our lot.

This is the meaning of the Christian faith which we profess–but how deeply does this conviction really sink into the hearts and minds of the millions who call themselves Christians? If it had sunk into the minds of the leaders of the Christian nations how could one nation be at war with another? How could injustices be rife within a Christian nation if we loved God and loved our neighbor, as the two basic commandments of the Christian faith prescribed? And to come still nearer home: how deeply does our Christian faith affect our daily actions and dealings with our fellowman? Like many of the Jews on Palm Sunday, who shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David,” but who on Good Friday morning were clamoring for Christ’s crucifixion, we too will sing “Hosanna” and “glory to God in the highest” on Sunday, but on Monday morning, we are ready to cheat our employer or our employees! Selfishness takes over and God is forgotten and our neighbor ceases to be our brother.

Thank God, this is not true of most of us. But it is true of far too many, and that is why our world, which was once Christian and is still nominally Christian, is a world of stress and strife where Christian is out to cheat Christian, and nation is out to subdue nation by force of arms, or by political maneuvers.

Can we do nothing about this? Of course we can! We can make our voices heard. But before we preach, we must make sure that we ourselves are practicing what we preach. We must show, by the manner of our daily lives, that getting to heaven is incomparably more important than getting on well, justly or unjustly, in this life.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

I will extol you, O my God and King,

and I will bless your name forever and ever.

Every day will I bless you,

and I will praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is faithful in all his words

and holy in all his works.

The LORD lifts up all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

READING II

icon-of-the-holy-paraclete

2 Rom 8:9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:

You are not in the flesh;

on the contrary, you are in the spirit,

if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

the one who raised Christ from the dead

will give life to your mortal bodies also,

through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters,

we are not debtors to the flesh,

to live according to the flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,

but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,

you will live.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2

CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,3 the Spirit of adoption,4 the Spirit of Christ,5 the Spirit of the Lord,6 and the Spirit of God7 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.8

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,9 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.10 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”11 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.12 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.13 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.14 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:15 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.16 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.17

CCC 990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality.18 The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.19

1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.

2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.

3 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.

4 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.

5 Rom 8:9.

6 2 Cor 3:17.

7 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.

8 1 Pet 4:14.

9 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

10 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

11 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

12 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

13 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

14 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

15 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

16 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

17 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.

18 Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6.

19 Rom 8:11.

APPLICATION

By baptism we were made adopted sons of God, because Christ, in becoming God-Incarnate, made us his brothers. We, therefore, share in the divine life and receive the spirit of God. The first effect of this indwelling of the Spirit in us, is what theologians call, sanctifying grace. As long as we retain this state of grace, we are living in union with the Blessed Trinity, and are moving daily closer to our eternal inheritance. This eternal inheritance is for all men, because Christ’s Incarnation was decreed from all eternity so that all men could live forever after their life-span on this earth. People who, through no fault of their own, have not been able to receive baptism or to know of the Christian faith, will be provided for by God, whose power is infinite. St. Paul is writing to Christian converts in this letter and deals only with them.

The man who knowingly and willingly rejects Christ and his teaching, either by refusing to learn of it when he could, or by refusing to live up to his teaching once accepted, cannot expect and will not get, that eternal life of happiness. This is a truth that should make all of us stop and think. We are Christians by baptism, but are we living according to the Christian rule of life? Are we, at this moment, living in union with the Blessed Trinity, through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit within us?

Though we may be struggling along with many minor lapses in our lives every day, if we are not conscious of any serious offense against God, the answer is yes, because we wipe out those minor lapses every time we make an act of love of God and beg his pardon for our mistakes and weaknesses. But if we have sinned seriously and have not yet repented of such serious offenses, then we have not the grace of the Holy Spirit in us and we shall have lost our inheritance in heaven if death finds us in this state.

Here it is well to call to mind the infinite mercy of God. St. Paul, as we said, is speaking of the ideal Christian, and therefore does not speak of repentance as he does elsewhere. Christ, our loving Savior, while asking us to carry our cross and follow him daily on the road of self-mortification, knew full well for he was God as well as man, that even the best could fail at times. He therefore left us a sacrament, which can wipe out even grave sins, provided we receive it with true repentance. This sacrament of God’s mercy–the Sacrament of Penance–not only wipes out our sins but brings back, to dwell within us once more, the Holy Spirit with his sanctifying grace. And besides, as every instructed Christian knows, if because of circumstances we cannot receive this sacrament, a fervent act of contrition will produce the same effects.

A Christian who continues living a sinful life, without a thought for his eternal welfare, is living in a fool’s paradise if he persuades himself that he will get “time yet” for confessing his sins to a priest or to say a fervent act of contrition, and thus put things right with God. Death is always sudden and unexpected, even for one who has spent months ill in hospital. In ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, the desire to live, which is innate in us because we were destined by God for an eternal life, will push the thought of death out of one’s mind.

There is one way to remove all the worry as to how death will find us, and that is, to follow St. Paul’s advice: to live always ready for death. This is not easy for many of us, but when we think of what is at stake–all eternity in happiness or in misery–it is a small premium to pay for so great a reward.

GOSPEL

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Mt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:

I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

for although you have hidden these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.

No one knows the Son except the Father,

and no one knows the Father except the Son

and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am meek and humble of heart;

and you will find rest for yourselves.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/070917.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.1 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”2 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”3 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.4

CCC 153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.5 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”6

CCC 240 Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”7

CCC 443 Peter could recognize the transcendent character of the Messiah’s divine sonship because Jesus had clearly allowed it to be so understood. To his accusers’ question before the Sanhedrin, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am.”8 Well before this, Jesus referred to himself as “the Son” who knows the Father, as distinct from the “servants” God had earlier sent to his people; he is superior even to the angels.9 He distinguished his sonship from that of his disciples by never saying “our Father”, except to command them: “You, then, pray like this: ‘Our Father’”, and he emphasized this distinction, saying “my Father and your Father”.10

CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”11 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”12 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”13 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.14

CCC 473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.15 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”16 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.17 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.18

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;19 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”20 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.21 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.22 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.23

CCC 1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses.24 By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.25 This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

CCC 1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.’”26

CCC 2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.27 His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.28

CCC 2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.29

CCC 2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” Humility makes us recognize that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” that is, “to little children.”30 The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us.

The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father’s name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name “Son” implies the new name “Father.”31

CCC 2785 Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us “to turn and become like children”:32 for it is to “little children” that the Father is revealed.33

[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.34

Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us. .. and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. .. What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?35

1 Mk 1:11; cf. 9:7.

2 Jn 14:1.

3 Jn 1:18.

4 Jn 6:46; cf. Mt 11:27.

5 Mt 16:17; cf. Gal 1:15; Mt 11:25.

6 DV 5; cf. DS 377; 3010.

7 Mt 11-27.

8 Lk 22:70; cf. Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-62.

9 Cf. Mt 11:27; 21:34-38; 24:36.

10 Mt 5:48; 6:8-9; 7:21; Lk 11:13; Jn 20:17.

11 Mt 11:29; Jn 14:6.

12 Mk 9:7; cf. Dt 6:4-5.

13 Jn 15:12.

14 Cf. Mk 8:34.

15 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, “Sicut aqua” ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097 Aff.; DS 475.

16 St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66 PG 90, 840A.

17 Cf. Mk 14:36; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 8:55; etc.

18 Cf. Mk 2:8; Jn 2 25; 6:61; etc.

19 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.

20 Mt 5:3.

21 Cf. Mt 11:25.

22 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.

23 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

24 Cf. Mk 8:34; Mt 11:29-30.

25 Cf. Mt 19:11.

26 FC 85; cf. Mt 11:28.

27 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.

28 Cf. Eph 1:9.

29 Cf. Mt 11:25-26; Mk 14:36.

30 Mt 11:25-27.

31 Tertullian De orat. 3: PL 1, 1155.

32 Mt 18:3.

33 Cf. Mt 11:25.

34 St. John Cassian, Coll. 9, 18 PL 49, 788c.

35 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 2, 4, 16: PL 34, 1276.

APPLICATION

Do we really appreciate the fact that we are Christians, that we know, through Christ’s revelation, that the God of heaven, the infinite Creator of the universe, has deigned to call himself our Father, and gives us the right to call him Father? Through that same Christian revelation we also know that he is infinitely merciful and cares for each single one of us more than any human father can care for his child. That he not only put us into this world and provides for us here, but that when our days here come to an end, he has prepared an everlasting abode for us, in his kingdom of peace and happiness.

Think for a moment what our world, or the people in it, were like before Christ came on earth. Ninety-seven percent of those then on earth adored false gods and offered sacrifices to idols made of wood or stone. Idolatry often made life on earth unbearable and gave no hope whatsoever of any after-life. The remaining three per cent was made up of the Chosen People who had a very limited knowledge of the true God. He had shown mercy and kindness toward them, but they feared him rather than loved him. With rare and notable exceptions, they served him out of self-interest, to get from him temporal gifts, rather than out of real gratitude and love. Their relationship to him was more like that of slaves toward their masters than that of children toward a kind and loving Father. Their life was earth-centered and their ambitions were worldly. He had revealed little or nothing to them about a life after death. The prophets spoke of a great, happy and prosperous age which was to come, when God would send his Messiah, but the most they could hope for in the way of a future life or immortality, was to live on in their descendants, so that, to be childless was one of their greatest disasters.

Pagans and Jews had the same hardships of life to face as we have, and even greater ones. They earned their daily bread with the sweat of brow and body. Their illnesses were more frequent and less bearable than ours, for they had not the medical helps that we have. Death came to young and old then as it does now, but for them it was a final parting from loved ones, and no hope of a future happy meeting served to lighten their sorrow. All their crosses were crushing weights, sent to make life more miserable. Life on earth was passed in gloom and darkness and there was no shining star in the heavens to beckon them on or give them hope.

Surely God is good to us, to put us into this world at this day and age, and give us the light of faith, and the knowledge of God and of his loving plans for us, which make the burdens of this life so relatively light and even so reasonable for us. We still have to earn our bread. We still have sickness and pains. We still have death stalking the earth, but unlike the people before Christ we now see a meaning to all these trials.

The yoke of Christ is not really a yoke but a bond of love, which joins us to him, and through him, to our loving Father in heaven. The rule of life which he asks us to keep, if we are loyal followers of his, is not a series of prohibitions and dont’s. It is rather a succession of sign-posts on the straight road to heaven, making our journey easier and safer. He does, ask us to carry our cross daily, that is, to bear the burden of each day’s duty, but once the cross is grasped firmly and lovingly it ceases to be a burden.

Ours is a world which is in an all-out search for new idols. It is a world which has left the path marked out by Christ, and forgotten or tried to forget, that man’s life does not end with death. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in this neo-pagan darkness, is surely a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank him enough. Thank you, God, for this gift. Please give us the grace and the courage to live up to it and to die in the certainty that we shall hear, as we shut our eyes on the light of this world, the consoling words, “come you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you.”

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Becoming a Seer and a Pathfinder

By a long and difficult journey, which began in a cave near Subiaco, the man Benedict has climbed up the mountain and finally up the tower. His life has been an inner climb, step by step, up the “vertical ladder.” He has reached the tower and, then, the “upper room,” which from the time of the Acts of the Apostles has been understood as a symbol of being brought together and drawn up, rising up out of the world of making and doing. He is standing at the window – he has sought and found the place where he can look out, where the wall of the world has been opened up and he can gaze into the open. He is standing. In monastic tradition, someone standing represents a man who has straightened himself up from being crouched and doubled up and is thus, not only able to stare at the earth, but he has achieved upright status and the ability to look up. Thus he becomes a seer. It is not the world that is narrowed down but the soul that is broadened out, being no longer absorbed in the particular, no longer looking at the trees and unable to see the wood, but now able to view the whole. Even better, he can see the whole because he is looking at it from on high, and he is able to gain this vantage point because he has grown inwardly great… He has to stand at the window. He must gaze out. And then the light of God can touch him; he can recognize it and can gain from it the true overview… Those great men who, by patient climbing and by the repeated purification they have received in their lives, have become seers and, therefore, pathfinders for the centuries are also relevant to us today.

An Example of Enduring to the End

Saint Gregory presented Saint Benedict as a “luminous star” in order to point the way out of the “black night of history.” In fact, the Saint’s work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the continent. This is how the reality we call “Europe” came into being.

St. Benedict…lived…completely alone for three years in a cave which has been the heart of a Benedictine monastery called the Sacro Speco (Holy Grotto) since the early Middle Ages. The period in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was a time of maturation for Benedict. It was here that he bore and overcame the three fundamental temptations of every human being: the temptation of self-affirmation and the desire to put oneself at the center, the temptation of sensuality and, lastly, the temptation of anger and revenge. In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus, having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first monasteries in the Valley of the Anio, near Subiaco. (Magnificat July 11,2014)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Image result for icon st. benedict

Novena to Saint Benedict – Feast day July 11th

Glorious Saint Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God’s grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God.

To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me.

Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor.

Inspire me to imitate you in all things.

May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life.

Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you.

I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore.

{mention your petition}

Help me, great Saint Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven.

Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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