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September 15: The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From the Saint Andrew Daily Missal:

Mary stood at the foot of the Cross where Jesus was hanging and, as Simeon had prophesied, a sword of sorrow pierced her soul. Powerless, “she saw her sweet child desolate in the anguish of death, and she received His last breath.” The compassion which her maternal heart felt at the foot of the Cross obtained for her as its reward the palm of martyrdom without death.

This feast was celebrated with great solemnity by the Servites in the seventeenth century. In 1817 it was extended by Pius VII to the whole Church so as to recall the sufferings she had undergone in the person of her exiled and captive head, delivered by the protection of the Blessed Virgin. Just as the first feast of the Sorrows of Mary, in Passiontide, shows us how she had her share in the sacrifice of Jesus, the second feast, in the Season after Pentecost, tells us of all the compassion which the Mother of the Saviour feels for the Church, the spouse of Jesus who is crucified in her turn and whose devotion to the Sorrows of Mary increases in these calamitous times. His Holiness Pius X in 1908 raised this feast to the rank of a solemnity of the second class.

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September 14 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From the Saint Andrew Daily Missal:

On September 14, in 335, took place the dedication of Constantine’s basilica, which enclosed both Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre. “At this date,” says Etheria, “the cross was discovered. And the anniversary is celebrated with as much solemnity as Easter or the Epiphany.” Such was the origin of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. “When I shall be raised on high, I shall draw everything unto Me” (Gospel), Jesus has said. It is because of the Saviour humbled Himself, being obedient even to the death of the cross, that God exalted Him and gave Him a name above all other names (Epistle). Wherefore we must glory in the cross of Jesus, for He is out live and our salvation (Introit) and He protects His servants against the wiles of their enemies (Offertory, Communion, Postcommunion).

Towards the end of the reign of Phocas, Chosroes, King of Persia, says the legend of the breviary, took Jerusalem, where he put to death several thousand Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which St. Helen had placed on mount Calvary.

Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, had recourse to many fasts and prayers, imploring with great fervor the help of God. He assembled an army and defeated Chosroes. He then insisted on the restitution of the cross of the Lord. Thus the precious relic was recovered after an interval of fourteen years. On his return to Jerusalem, Heraclius carried it on his shoulders in great pomp to the mountain where the Saviour Himself had borne it (A.D. 629).

An extraordinary miracle marked the occasion. Heraclius, who was loaded with ornaments of gold and precious stones, was held back by an invisible force at the entrance gate of mount Calvary and vain were his efforts to enter.

As the Emperor and all those who witnessed the scene were astonished, Zacharias, Bishop of Jerusalem, said to him: “Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from imitating the poverty of Jesus Christ and His humility in bearing His cross.” Heraclius thereupon doffed his splendid garb and walked barefooted with a common cloak on his shoulders to Calvary, where he again deposited the cross. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the original spot, the anniversary of which was celebrated on this day, became of great importance.

Let us join, in spirit, the faithful who in the Church of the Holy Cross at Rome venerate on this day the relics of the sacred wood exposed for the occasion, so that, having been privileged to adore it on this feast when we rejoice for its exaltation, we may likewise possess for all eternity the salvation and glory the Cross has won for us (Collect, Secret).

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September 12: Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary

From the Saint Andrew Daily Missal:

Just as a few days after Christmas we celebrate the holy Name of Jesus, so, after the Nativity of Mary we glorify her holy name. Eight days after the birth of the Virgin, according to the custom of the Jews, her holy parents inspired by God, say St. Jerome and St. Antoninus, gave her the name Mary. Wherefore, during the octave of the Nativity, the liturgy gives a feast in honour of this holy name.

Spain, with the approval of Rome, in 1513, was the first to celebrate it, and in 1683 it was extended to the whole Church by Innocent XI to thank Mary for the victory which John Sobieski, King of Poland, had just gained against the Turks who besieged Vienna and threatened the West.

The name of the Virgin,” says the Gospel, “was Mary.” The Hebrew name of Mary, in Latin Domina, means Lady or sovereign; for the authority of her son, Lord of the world, makes her a sovereign from her birth in fact as well as in name. Whence, as we call Jesus our Lord, we say of Mary that she is our Lady. To pronounce her name, is to proclaim her power.

Let us offer the Holy Sacrifice to God to honour the most holy name of Mary and to obtain by her intercession her continual protection.

Collect

Concede, quaésumus, omnipotens Deus: ut fidéles tui, qui sub sanctissimae Virginis Mariae nominee et protection laetántur; ejus pia intercession, a cunctis malis liberéntur in terries et ad gáudia aetérna pervenire mereántur in coelis. Per Dóminum nostrum.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that Thy faithful people, who rejoice in the name and protection of the most holy Virgin Mary, may by her loving intercession be delivered from all evils on earth and found worthy to come to everlasting joys in heaven. Through our Lord.

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The Venerable Bede (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Fathers of the Church are particularly adept at “unpacking” the allegorical meaning of Sacred Scripture. The great Father and Doctor of the Church, St. Bede the Venerable, proves no exception as he reveals the meaning of today’s Gospel.

St. Bede tells us the ten lepers represent those “having no true knowledge of faith” who “profess a variety of heretical teachings.” These people do not hide their ignorance, but loudly proclaim it as the height of knowledge, even taking pride in what they say. Since even false doctrine contains an element of truth, St. Bede says this disordered mixing of truth and falsehoods “resemble the leprosy that spots and blemished the human body with patches of true and false colour.” We are warned that such people must be excluded from the Church and placed far off so that they might change their ways and loudly cry out to Jesus.

For those who do wish to be saved, will cry out to the Lord and will humble themselves to call Him their Master. It is in this acknowledgement of their estrangement and a return to the true teachings of Jesus that they find healing.

Of those healed by Jesus, it is only the lepers, notes St. Bede, whom Jesus directs to show themselves to the priests. This is because the Jewish priesthood prefigured the Royal Priesthood of Christ, which is the Church, His mystical Body. If those who are “discolored” with the stain of false teaching are to find salvation, they must renounce their false beliefs and return home to their Lord and His House, the Church.

As for the one healed man who returns, St. Bede says, “This one who went back giving glory to God is a figure of the one Church, in devout humility before Christ. He falling down before the feet of the Lord, gives fitting thanks. For he truly gives thanks to God who repressing the thoughts of his own presumption, is humbly aware of how weak he is in himself; he who attributes no virtue to himself; who confesses that the good he does, is due to the mercy of his Creator.”

We should note as well that we’re told the elect fall on their faces, while the wicked fall backwards. “The wicked therefore, since they do not see into what they are falling, are said to fall backwards, for they rush headlong where they cannot now see what will then happen to them. But the just fall as it were upon their faces; for moved by fear, they humble themselves: of their own will they throw themselves down amid things visible, that they may be raised up amid things visible.”

The number ten holds significance as well. It is a number which signifies unity. One joined to nine represents a unity. Thus, the nine need the one to become the unity of ten. However, the one does not need the nine since one is a unity in itself. “For this reason as the one who gave thanks is approved and praised as a sign of the One Church, so the nine who did not give thanks, now rejected, are shut out from the communion of oneness. And so shall others like them remain imperfect in the number of the nine. And rightly does the Saviour ask where are they; as though He knew them not. For, with God, to know is to choose; not to know, is to reject.”

St. Bede says, “As to the body, it is easy to see that a man may have no leprosy; and yet he may not be of sound of soul. But in the light of this miracle, it troubles the mind to know how one who is thankless can be said to be made clean? But it is now easy to see, that this also can happen that someone within the society of the Church may know her true and pure doctrine, and may interpret it all in accord with the Catholic rule of faith; he may distinguish the creature from the Creator, and by this show that he is free as it were from leprosy, from the spots of lies, and nevertheless by ungrateful to God and Lord Who made him clean, because uplifted in pride, he has not thrown himself down in loving humility to give thanks, and so has become like those of whom the Apostle said: When they knew God, they have not glorified Hum as God or given thanks (Rom i. 21). Saying, they knew God, Paul shows that they have been made clean of leprosy; yet he goes on to call them ungrateful.”

Thus, we find he who humbles himself at the feet of the Lord, professing his own unworthiness, is told to rise and be on his way, comforted by the Word of God to grow in his perfection. He is saved not through his accord, but by the grace he receives from God through his faith: “For if faith made him whole who had hurried back to give thanks to his Saviour and to the One Who had made him clean, unfaith has brought spiritual ruin to those who, receiving favours from God, fail to return and give Him glory.”

Our faith must not only grown through humility, but we must also undertake the works of faith which follow, “which makes whole those who believe, and give glory to the Father Who is in heaven. Amen.”

+JMJ

Source: M. F. Toal (ed). The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume 4. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

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Jesus and the Ten Lepers (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

The Liturgy shows us that by faith we put all out hope in Jesus, for He is our refuge; and we ask for the virtue of charity, which renders us lovers of the Divine Law, and practitioners of it. Let us pray for an increase of faith, hope, and charity.

Collect

Omnipotens sempitérne Deus, da nobis fidei, spei, et caritátis augméntum: et, ut mereámur ássequi quod promittis, fac nos amáre quod praécipis. Per Dóminum nostrum.

Almighty and everlasting God, give to us an increase of Faith, Hope, and Charity: and that we may deserve to obtain what Thou dost promise, make us love what Thou dost command. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Gal. 3:16-22)

The Apostle of the Gentiles shows that the Mosaic Law is not the law which gives holiness of souls, since, before the Law, Abraham, father of the Hebrews, was sanctified in his faith in Jesus. All Jews or pagans, therefore, who enter into the Church and put their faith in the merits of the Passion of Christ will be saved.

Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Gospel (Lk. 17:11-19)

Our Divine Redeemer heals ten lepers, both Jews and Samaritans, who have recourse to Him. “Arise, they faith hath made thee whole.” Through His Church our Lord gives back health to the souls, Jews and Gentiles, who have recourse to Him.

At that time, as Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain town, there met Him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying: “Jesus, master, have mercy on us.” Whom when He saw, He said: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks: and this was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, “Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.” And He said to him: “Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.”

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September 8th: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

At the time of Mary’s birth the whole world was plunged into darkness. The heathen nations were steeped in vice and pride. The Jews, too, had corrupted their ways and departed from God. Everywhere there was sin and gloom, no bright spot on the face of the earth. But when Marty was born a light arose amid the darkness: the dawn of the glorious day that was to usher in the Redeemer. So, too, the darkness of the sinner’s soul is dispersed by Mary’s holy influence. Where the love of her is born in the soul, all becomes full of light, and Jesus comes to make His habitation there. Mary, in the first hour of her life, brought more glory to God than all of the Saints of the Old Testament. In her were made perfect the obedience of Abraham, the chastity of Joseph, the patience of Job, the meekness of Moses, the prudence of Josue. It is because she is the model and pattern of these and all other virtues that she can communicate them to us.

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Parable of the Good Samaritan

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, our Lord teaches us points critical to our salvation. First, we see clearly we are called to love our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and with all our mind. Further, we are to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus then goes on, in the Parable itself, to clearly define our neighbor: he is, quite simply, every other human being, known or unknown, friend or foe. Our fellow man is our neighbor and we are called to love him. Yet, what does “love him” mean?

We would do well to read this Parable carefully since our Lord makes some salient points regarding how we express our love for our fellow man. Clearly, we do not simply pass by like the priest and the Levite. Instead, we must act like the Good Samaritan. But what does he do? Does he see someone in need and call the government to demand they “do something?” Does he bemoan the fact there’s not a social program to “take care of” the injured man? Does he simply summon the “authorities” so they can “do something?” Does he go find others, and either through bribe or coercion, demand they “do something?” No!

The Good Samaritan shows us the way through his direct action in caring for his fellow man. Keep in mind, at the time Jesus spoke this story, Jews and Samaritans were enemies and did not associate with each other. Jesus teaches that despite this rivalry, the Good Samaritan himself comes to the aid of his fellow man. He does not push off that responsibility onto someone else or onto some sort of government social program.

Not only does the Good Samaritan reach out himself to aid his fellow man, at the Inn he reaches into his own pocket to pay for the injured man’s stay. He doesn’t demand the “rich” Inn Keeper pay out of his pocket for the injured man, nor demand the government pay for support of the injured man. No! Once again, we see our example: We, our selves, with our own time, talent, and treasure are called to care for our fellow man. Our Lord clearly expects us to jump in and “get our hands dirty,” not sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to “do something.”

Reach out in love to your fellow man no matter where you might find him.

+JMJ

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