Because in accordance with the words of the First Council of Orleans, some pious Christian congregations in the earliest ages of the Church, especially the clergy, began to fast seventy days before Easter, on this Sunday, which was therefore called Septuagesima” – the seventieth day. The same is the case with the Sundays following, which are called Sexagesima, Quinquagesima , Quadragesima, because some Christians commenced to fast sixty days, others fifty, others forty days before Easter, until finally, to make it properly uniform, Popes Gregory and Gelasius arranged that all Christians should fast forty days before Easter, commencing with Ash-Wednesday.
With this blog reflection, I have added a new “temporary’ section titled,”New Translation of the Mass”. I will rotate and repeat 11 changes in the congregation’s part of the Mass, until the beginning of Advent this year.
Hopefully it will be interesting and educational. Please let me know.
Today in Catholic History:
† 1862 – Saint Gabriele dell’ Addolorata, patron of Italian Catholic youth, dies at age 23
† 1891 – Birth of Anne Samson, oldest-ever nun documented (d. 2004)
† 1973 – Pope Paul VI publishes constitution “motu proprio Quo aptius”
† 1994 – Maronite church near Beirut bombed, 10 killed
† 1995 – Death of Philip Sherrington, opus Dei Priest, at age 51
† Memorials/Feasts: Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows; Saint Leander; Saint Honorine
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” – Blaise Pascal
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
On February 6, the Church celebrates the memory of the first Christian martyrs of Japan (protomartyrs), all 26 of whom were crucified on a hill just outside Nagasaki on February 5, 1597. This group consisted of 6 Friars Minors, seventeen Japanese Franciscan Tertiaries, three other Japanese, Jesuit priest Paul Miki, and his two catechists. Among the friars, the most known was Pietro Battista, a Spanish priest who had been sent to evangelize Japan along with other Franciscans from the Philippines in 1593.
They worked tirelessly proclaiming the gospel, and building churches and a hospital in Meako. In November 1596, more Franciscans had arrived in Japan when their ship ran aground because of a sea storm. Among them was Felipe de Jesus who was traveling from the Philippines to his native Mexico to be ordained as a priest. Since he began collaborating in the mission, he was also condemned to die when emperor Taycosama, who had initially accepted Christian missionaries, imposed an edict condemning to death these friars coming from the Philippines and their companions.
The group was forced to walk from Kyoto to Nagasaki, a distance of over 800 km, enduring cold weather conditions, and suffering imprisonment, torture and public scorn. Once they were crucified, their executioners pierced them on both sides with two spears crossing each other inside the chest and coming out of their bodies by the shoulders, causing them to die almost immediately.
Felipe de Jesus was the first one to be executed and became the first Mexican saint. In one of the letters Peter Baptist wrote during his final days, he stated: The sentence pronounced against us was written on a sign and carried before us. The sign read that we were condemned to death because we preached the law of Nauan (i.e., the law of Christ) contrary to the command of Taycosama and would be crucified when we reached Nagasaki. For this we were happy and consoled in the Lord since we had forfeited our lives to preach his law.
These martyrs provide us with the opportunity to reflect on our Christian commitment to proclaim the gospel in our present world not only with our words, but also with our lives. They were courageous and faithful in witnessing Christ through evangelization, service, and accepting persecution gladly and with relentless hope.
Their witness also helps to illustrate the content of Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Day of Peace 2011 (numbers 6-10), especially regarding the public dimension of faith. This dimension should be acknowledged and respected by all societies as a path for true peace and integral human development.
Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching about the meaning of “Enough”. His message is: “Don’t worry about tomorrow”. Jesus tells all to not look at the past too long; rather, let tomorrow take care of itself. Pay attention to today.
24 “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? 27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? 28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. 34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. (NAB Matthew 6:24–34)
Our ultimate goal is God; and to attain this goal, one needs to commit oneself – – fully, totally, and entirely to God. (Could I stress the complete surrender one needs any better?!) One cannot have two supreme and opposing goals.
Today’s Gospel reading is the final (third) part of the instructions from the “Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus. Today, He is teaching on the way of life in the kingdom of Heaven on earth. This reading, and its associated reflection, is about trusting God and performing “acts of loving service” to our neighbor’s on a daily basis.
(The first two parts of the “Sermon on the Mount” and its associated reflections can be found at):
Part one: “Blessed are the …. AH, You Know ‘em! So, start LIVING ‘EM!” – Matthew 5:1-12a:
Part two: ♫“All We Need Is Love; Dah, – Dah, Dah Dah, Dah!”♫ – Matthew 5:38–48:
What do the phrases “serving two masters” and “being anxious” have in common? They each have the same internal source: a division within oneself. The word “anxiety” literally means “being of two minds”.
“But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8)
(It sounds a little schizophrenic to me.) “Anxiety”, as used in today’s Gospel reading, is when someone tries to live in two “kingdoms”: God’s kingdom, and a materialistic (some may say Satanic) “kingdom.” Anxiety and God’s kingdom are in conflict with each other; yet, we find ourselves apparently needing to do both.
However, Jesus is telling us “NOT TO WORRY”! Anxiety and worry can pull us away from our relying on God just as assuredly as deliberate acts of evil! We know we chose to follow God’s principles and values, His path; OR, we find ourselves following the world’s principles and values, which, at the moment, may appear to be the right thing to do. That, which we choose to do, becomes our “master”. Jesus is informing us that there are some true absolutes; He reveals that we come to a point of choosing between God, OR, “mammon”.
“Mammon”? What is “Mammon”? (Hint: It is NOT a pagan God of old.) It is an Aramaic word (Jesus’ native language) meaning “wealth” or “property”. Jesus is stating that we can have only one “FIRST” priority in life; either God or earthly processions (without God).
The word “mammon”, in reality, does not have a negative connotation. Jesus is NOT saying we must forgo earthly material processions and wealth. He is only saying that God needs to be our preeminent and foremost priority in life. One can have both God and “mammon”; but can only “serve” one or the other. We human beings are not self-sufficient; we are dependent on something outside ourselves. Jesus, in no way, denies the reality of our human needs. In fact, Jesus teaches us that our first or top-most priority, that of seeking God and His kingdom, assures us He will provide all material “wealth” and “property” needed (all our human material needs). For Jesus reveals an awesome fact:
“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:32)
Jesus goes on to say:
“But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33)
However, He forbids us from making earthly material processions an object of worry, fret, and restless care. In doing so, we would in effect, become a slave to materialism instead of a “slave” to God and His divine will and providence. In a sense, we would be practicing a form of idolatry in placing earthly material objects “first”, over God’s love and providence. We have to keep God first in all we do, all we say, all we see, and all we think.
As for me, I believe I am in the palm of His hands, and He will work for my “good”:
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I just pray every single day that I don’t “spit” into His hands, which are holding me!
Since we DO need material “goods”; we do know God works “good” in all we do, therefore, that is why Jesus tells us NOT TO WORRY, no less than four times in today’s Gospel reading! So, Jesus is simply reminding us NOT to be anxious or “worry” over our needs and wants.
Look at the beauty of nature. The birds “do not sow or reap”. The flowers “do not work or spin” cloth. Yet they are still provided for by God. Human beings are worth much more than any other creations of God – we are given a soul, and the graces of free-will and reasoning. So, how could God not provide for us, as He does for all other creation? If what we place first in our lives is God and His kingdom, along with His providence and justice, we will have what we need. PERIOD!
I think Jesus is really awesome when He shows us the value of the very ordinary things in life: eating, drinking (of course, only milk and diet Mt. Dew), and our choice of clothes. He is teaching us, even still to this day, to put our entire trust and love in the providence of God, our heavenly Father; and simply to surrender ourselves into the arms of our Father, God.
“Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matthew 6:27)
Jesus is actually asking His disciples if worry can add anything to one’s physical size, length of life, or quality of one’s actions and beliefs. Compared to eternity in heaven or hell, Worry is an “empty” concept; it has no value when God is a priority in one’s life.
We need to realize that to do the job of “self-reliance”, we need one positive help (God’s grace/truth), and one negative strategy (Don’t worry). For example, we can’t prevent all sickness and injury in ours and others lives, not to mention death. So, just stop worrying! It actually should be liberating for us to know that our well-being and that of others as well, does not depend SOLELY on us! God is at work in our lives individually, and continuously – – oftentimes invisibly, in the background (if not around the corner) – – to provide for us and others, and to make up for what is lacking in our lives.
The words “of little faith” (verse 30) are found in five places in Matthew’s Gospel, but only once in one parallel verse from Luke’s Gospel:
It is used by the Gospel writer, Matthew, for those who are Jesus’ disciples; yet, whose faith in Him is not as deep as it should be (sounds like a lot of people I know, even today, within the Catholic faith.).
“He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
“Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
“When Jesus became aware of this he said, ‘You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread?’” (Matthew 16:8)
“He[Jesus] said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” (Matthew 17:20)
Matthew quotes Jesus as saying:
“But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33)
What does Jesus mean by seeking the “righteousness” of the kingdom? Righteousness is an awareness of orderliness in relationship to God; it is also an awareness of Jesus’ sovereignty. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, proclaims Jesus to be the “mightier” one (cf., Matthew 3:11) who was to come, and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. For us, as disordered, sinful humans, righteousness given to us is in the saving ability and activities of God in our lives. Righteousness comes to us in our willingness to submit to God’s plan for our salvation. Our seeking and receiving sets us apart onto God’s property, making us holy. (Holiness means being set apart for a specific purpose.)
I found it inspiring that Pope Paul VI specifically commented on today’s reading with relationship to the idea of poverty, when he said,
“Why poverty? Is it to give God, the kingdom of God, the first place in the values which are the object of human aspirations. Jesus says: ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.’ And He says this with regard to all the other temporal goods, even necessary and legitimate ones, with which human desires are usually concerned. Christ’s poverty makes possible that detachment from earthly things which allows us to place the relationship with God at the peak of human aspirations.” (Pope Paul VI, General Audience, January 5, 1977)
I began to realize that His relationship with God was the peak of Jesus’ human aspirations. That priority set Him apart from all His brethren. Jesus’ seeking first the kingdom set Him apart as the ONE “master”, who alone, has the power to set us free from slavery of the disorder of sin, fear, pride, and all those other bad things, vices, and disordered desires. That “master”, the Lord Jesus Christ is saving us daily from all that would keep us constrained in such fears, anxieties, and sins by our worrying. God provides for his creatures in the natural order of His creation, as well as in the order of grace. So, how much more can we expect our heavenly Father – – our creator – – to do in order to sustain not only our physical bodies, but also our spiritual minds, hearts, and souls as well? It is His nature to love, heal, forgive, renew, and to make whole again His image of Himself in us. His way, saves us when we choose to place Him and His kingdom of righteousness FIRST in our lives.
So, by not worrying, we are freed to address each day’s problems as they come. Therefore, do not harbor worries and frustrations; they consume the mind, heart, and soul! Instead, be confident that we are each individually, in God’s loving and magnificently merciful care. He will most certainly care for us, if we allow Him! Do not worry then about what happened yesterday or may happen tomorrow.
“One who pays heed to the wind will not sow, and one who watches the clouds will never reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
“Do your duty ‘now’, without looking back on ‘yesterday’, which has already passed, or worrying over ‘to-morrow’, which may never come for you.” (St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 253)
In foregoing worry, we are given a grace of wisdom based on God’s Fatherly providence, as well as on our own life experiences.
In our life-span, we learn to care for our own needs, and the needs of others. As we grow, we learn to take responsibility for ours and others’ needs. Sometimes, caring for one’s need means being unable to do other tasks which we would much rather enjoy. At times, I am certain we are all enticed, coaxed, and/or tempted to NOT take responsibility for our given obligations. We are tempted to put our own needs ahead of others.
What are the consequences of making such a choice in our life? Food for thought: How you spend your time, your money, and your THOUGHTS, will reveal to you what is MOST important in your life – – and what “god” you truly follow: God Himself, OR god the idol of things!
The previous sentence highlights “your Thoughts”; it was a revelational doozy for me! I could understand, and diligently support, the concepts of spending one’s time, talents, and treasures to show one’s love for God. But our “thoughts” as proof of our dedication to God?! Yep; one’s preoccupations, one’s consuming interests, and even one’s daydreams are truly and definitely important indicators of what one worships in life! – WOW!
Can you think of a time in which you have experienced God’s care for yourself and your family and friends? God cares for us, on an individual and communal basis, every single day (every single moment) of our lives and the lives of others! He will never, ever, forget us! God looks after the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field. Please remember, and thank God daily, that we are worth much more than ALL the other things within His creation.
“Prayer of St. Francis”
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862 )
Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.
His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.
Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.
When we think of achieving great holiness by doing little things with love and grace, Therese of Lisieux comes first to mind. Like her, Gabriel died painfully from tuberculosis. Together they urge us to tend to the small details of daily life, to be considerate of others’ feelings every day. Our path to sanctity, like theirs, probably lies not in heroic doings but in performing small acts of kindness every day.
Patron Saint of: Clergy and Bitterness
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
New Translation of the Mass
In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass. It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades. It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.
The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text. At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning. At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand. Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole. It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.
In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.
Currently, the priest says, “The Lord be with you” five times: at the Entrance Rite, before the Gospel, when the Eucharistic Prayer starts, at “the sign of peace”, and finally at the dismissal. The new response from the congregation will be “And with your spirit”, instead of “And also with you”.
This is a more direct translation of the Latin and matches what many other language groups have been using for years. It will obviously take some adjustment, since we have been used to saying, “And also with you,” for so long.
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Prologue to the Rule:
Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance
In the name of the Lord!
Concerning Those Who Do Penance
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf. Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).
We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).
We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).
Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:
“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).