The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Posts Tagged ‘Meditations’

Wednesday, February 13, 2013: Resources for Ash Wednesday (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 10, 2013



  • Readings in the NJB Translation. Scroll down. Used in most English speaking countries. For some reason the site has the Gospel reading before the second reading.
  • Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.

GENERAL RESOURCES: sites that usually deal with the readings as a whole (with some occasional specialty studies). Commentaries on individual readings are listed further below.

  • Word Sunday. Although called “Word Sunday” the site also offers resources on holy days, solemnities, etc. The readings in both and literal translation, notes on the text, podcast, children’s reading.
  • Unofficial LectionaryReadings from the Douay-Rheims Challoner version followed by notes from the old Haydock Commentary.
  • SacerdosGives the theme of the readings, the doctrinal message, and pastoral application.
  • Lector NotesBrief historical and theological background on the readings. Can be printed out, copied, and used as bulletin insert.
  • The Bible Workshop. Links to several relevant articles, contains a reading guide to the gospel text, a comparison of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).


COMMENTARIES ON THE RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17.


COMMENTARIES ON THE GOSPEL: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.





HOMILIES: Pending.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, Lent, liturgy, Notes on 2 Corinthians, Notes On Joel, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

St John Chrysostom’s Homily on Matthew 1:17-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 16, 2012

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.”

He hath divided all the generations into three portions, to indicate that not even when their form of government was changed did they become better, but alike under an aristocracy, and under a king, and under an oligarchy, they were in the same evil ways, and whether popular leaders, or priests, or kings controlled them, it was no advantage to them in the way of virtue.

But wherefore hath he in the middle portion passed over three kings, and in the last, having set down twelve generations, affirmed them to be fourteen? The former question I leave for you to examine;1 for neither is it needful for me to explain all things to you, lest ye should grow indolent: but the second we will explain.2 To me then he seems in this place to be putting in the place of a generation, both the time of the captivity, and Christ Himself, by every means connecting Him with us. And full well doth he put us in mind of that captivity, making it manifest that not even when they went down thither, did they become more sober-minded; in order that from everything His coming may be shown to be necessary.

“Why then,” one may say, “doth not Mark do this, nor trace Christ’s genealogy, but utter everything briefly?” It seems to me that Matthew was before the rest in entering on the subject (wherefore he both sets down the genealogy with exactness, and stops at those things which require it): but that Mark came after him, which is why he took a short course, as putting his hand to what had been already spoken and made manifest.3

How is it then that Luke not only traces the genealogy, but doth it through a greater number? As was natural, Matthew having led the way, he seeks to teach us somewhat in addition to former statements. And each too in like manner imitated his master; the one Paul, who flows fuller than any river; the other Peter, who studies brevity.

2. And what may be the reason that Matthew said not at the beginning, in the same way as the prophet, “the vision which I saw,” and “the word which came unto me”? Because he was writing unto men well disposed, and exceedingly attentive to him. For both the miracles that were done cried aloud, and they who received the word were exceeding faithful. But in the case of the prophets, there were neither so many miracles to proclaim them; and besides, the tribe of the false prophets, no small one, was riotously breaking in upon them: to whom the people of the Jews gave even more heed. This kind of opening therefore was necessary in their case.

And if ever miracles were done, they were done for the aliens’ sake, to increase the number of the proselytes; and for manifestation of God’s power, if haply their enemies having taken them captives, fancied they prevailed, because their own gods were mighty: like as in Egypt, out of which no small “mixed multitude”4 went up; and, after that, in Babylon, what befell touching the furnace and the dreams. And miracles were wrought also, when they were by themselves in the wilderness; as also in our case: for among us too, when we had just come out of error, many wonderful works were shown forth; but afterwards they stayed, when in all countries true religion had taken root.

And what took place at a later period5 were few and at intervals; for example, when the sun stood still in its course, and started back in the opposite direction. And this one may see to have occurred in our case also. For so even in our generation, in the instance of him who surpassed all in ungodliness, I mean Julian, many strange things happened. Thus when the Jews were attempting to raise up again the temple at Jerusalem, fire burst out from the foundations, and utterly hindered them all; and when both his treasurer,6 and his uncle and namesake, made the sacred vessels the subject of their open insolence, the one was “eaten with worms, and gave up the ghost,”7 the other “burst asunder in the midst.” Moreover, the fountains failing,8 when sacrifices were made there, and the entrance of the famine into the cities together with the emperor himself, was a very great sign. For it is usual with God to do such things; when evils are multiplied, and He sees His own people afflicted, and their adversaries greatly intoxicated with their dominion over them, then to display His own power; which he did also in Persia with respect to the Jews.

3. Wherefore, that he was not acting without an object, or by chance, when he distributed Christ’s forefathers into three portions, is plain from what hath been said. And mark, too, whence he begins, and where he ends. From Abraham to David; from David to the captivity of Babylon; from this unto Christ Himself. For both at the beginning he put the two in close succession, David and Abraham, and also in summing up he mentions both in the same way. And this, because, as I have already said, it was to them that the promises were made.

But why can it be, that as he mentioned the captivity of Babylon, he did not mention also the descent into Egypt? Because they had ceased to be any longer afraid of the Egyptians, but the Babylonians they dreaded still. And the one thing was ancient, but the other fresh, and had taken place of late. And to the one they were carried down for no sins, but to the other, transgressions were the cause of their being removed.

And also with regard to the very names, if any one were to attempt to translate their etymologies, even thence would he derive great matter of divine speculation,9 and such as is of great importance with regard to the New Testament: as, for instance, from Abraham’s name, from Jacob’s, from Solomon’s, from Zorobabel’s. For it was not without purpose that these names were given them. But lest we should seem to be wearisome by running out a great length, let us pass these things by, and proceed to what is urgent.

4. Having then mentioned all His forefathers, and ending with Joseph, he did not stop at this, but added, “Joseph the husband of Mary;” intimating that it was for her sake he traced his genealogy also. Then, lest when thou hast heard of the “husband of Mary,” thou shouldest suppose that Christ was born after the common law of nature, mark, how he sets it right by that which follows. “Thou hast heard,” saith he, “of an husband, thou hast heard of a mother, thou hast heard a name assigned to the child, therefore hear the manner too of the birth. “The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise.”10 “Of what kind of birth art thou telling me, I pray thee, since thou hast already mentioned His ancestors?” “I still wish to tell thee the manner also of His birth.” Seest thou, how he wakens up the hearer? For as though he were about to speak of something unusual,11 he promises to tell also the manner thereof.

And observe a most admirable order in the things he hath mentioned. For he did not proceed directly to the birth, but puts us in mind first, how many generations he was from Abraham, how many from David, and from the captivity of Babylon; and thus he sets the careful hearer upon considering the times, to show that this is the Christ who was preached by the prophets. For when thou hast numbered the generations, and hast learnt by the time that this is He, thou wilt readily receive likewise the miracle which took place in His birth. Thus, being about to tell of a certain great thing, His birth of a virgin, he first shadows over the statement, until he hath numbered the generations, by speaking of “an husband of Mary;” or rather he doth even put in short space12 the narration of the birth itself, and then proceeds to number also the years, reminding the hearer, that this is He, of whom the patriarch jacob had said, He should then at length come, when the Jewish rulers had come to an end; of whom the prophet Daniel had proclaimed beforehand, that He should come after those many weeks. And if any one, counting the years spoken of to Daniel by the angel in a number of weeks, would trace down the time from the building of the city to His birth, by reckoning he will perceive the one to agree with the other.13

5. How then was He born, I pray thee? “When as His mother Mary was espoused:”14 He saith not “virgin,” but merely “mother;” so that his account is easy to be received. And so having beforehand prepared the hearer to look for some ordinary piece of information, and by this laying hold of him, after all he amazes him by adding the marvellous fact, saying, “Before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” He saith not, “before she was brought to the bridegroom’s house;” for indeed she was therein. It being the way of the ancients for the most part to keep their espoused wives in their house:15 in those parts, at least, where one may see the same practised even now. Thus also Lot’s sons-in-law were in his house with him. Mary then herself likewise was in the house with Joseph.

And wherefore did she not conceive before her espousal? It was, as I said at first, that what had been done might be concealed awhile, and that the Virgin might escape every evil suspicion. For when he, who had most right of all to feel jealousy, so far from making her a show, or degrading her, is found even receiving and cherishing her after her conception; it was quite clear that, unless he had fully persuaded himself that what was done was of the operation of the Holy Spirit, he would not have kept her with him, and ministered to her in all other things. And most properly hath he said, that “she was ’found’ with child,” the sort of expression that is wont to be used with respect to things strange, and such as happen beyond all expectation, and are unlooked for.

Proceed therefore no further, neither require anything more than what hath been said; neither say thou, “But how was it that the Spirit wrought this of a virgin?” For if, when nature is at work, it is impossible to explain the manner of the formation; how, when the Spirit is working miracles, shall we be able to express these? And lest thou shouldest weary the evangelist, or disturb him by continually asking these things, he hath said who it was that wrought the miracle, and so withdrawn himself. “For I know,” saith he, “nothing more, but that what was done was the work of the Holy Ghost.”

6. Shame on them who busy themselves touching the generation on high. For if this birth, which hath witnesses without number, and had been proclaimed so long a time before, and was manifested and handled with hands, can by no man be explained; of what excess of madness do they come short who make themselves busy and curious touching that unutterable generation? For neither Gabriel nor Matthew was able to say anything more, but only that it was of the Spirit; but how, of the Spirit, or in what manner, neither of them hath explained; for neither was it possible.

Nor think that thou hast learnt all, by hearing “of the Spirit;” nay, for we are ignorant of many things, even when we have learnt this; as, for instance, how the Infinite is in a womb, how He that contains all things is carried, as unborn, by a woman; how the Virgin bears, and continues a virgin. How, I pray thee, did the Spirit frame that Temple? how did He take not all the flesh from the womb, but a part thereof, and increased it, and fashioned it? For that He did come forth of the Virgin’s flesh, He hath declared by speaking of “that which was conceived in her;”16 and Paul, by saying, “made of a woman;” whereby he stops the mouths of them17 that say, Christ came among us as through some conduit. For, if this were so, what need of the womb? If this were so, He hath nothing in common with us, but that flesh is of some other kind, and not of the mass which belongs to us. How then was He of the root of Jesse? How was He a rod? how Son of man? how was Mary His mother? how was He of David’s seed? how did he “take the form of a servant?”18 how “was the Word made flesh?”19 and how saith Paul to the Romans, “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is God over all?”20 Therefore that He was of us, and of our substance,21 and of the Virgin’s womb, is manifest from these things, and from others beside; but how, is not also manifest. Do not either thou then inquire; but receive what is revealed, and be not curious about what is kept secret.

7. “And Joseph her husband, being,” saith he “a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.”22

Having said that it was of the Holy Ghost, and without cohabitation, he establishes his statement in another way again.23 Lest any one should say, “Whence doth this appear? Who hath heard, who hath seen any such thing ever come to pass?”—or lest you should suspect the disciple as inventing these things to favor his Master;—he introduces Joseph as contributing, by what he underwent, to the proof of the things mentioned; and by his narrative all but says, “If thou doubt, me, and if thou suspect my testimony, believe her husband.” For “Joseph,” saith he, “her husband, being a just man.” By “a just man” in this place he means him that is virtuous in all things. For both freedom from covetousness is justice, and universal virtue is also justice;24 and it is mostly in this latter sense that the Scripture uses the name of justice; as when it saith, “a man that was just and true;”25 and again, “they were both just.”26 Being then “just,” that is good and considerate, “he was minded to put her away privily.” For this intent he tells what took place before Joseph’s being fully informed, that thou mightest not mistrust what was done after he knew. However, such a one was not liable to be made a public example only, but that she should also be punished was the command of the law. Whereas Joseph remitted not only that greater punishment, but the less likewise, namely, the disgrace. For so far from punishing, he was not minded even to make an example of her. Seest thou a man under self-restraint, and freed from the most tyrannical of passions. For ye know how great a thing jealousy is: and therefore He said, to whom these things are clearly known, “For full of jealousy is the rage of a husband;”27 “he will not spare in the day of vengeance:” and “jealousy is cruel as the grave.”28 And we too know of many that have chosen to give up their lives rather than fall under the suspicion of jealousy. But in this case it was not so little as suspicion, the burden of the womb entirely convicting her. But nevertheless he was so free from passion as to be unwilling to grieve the Virgin even in the least matters. Thus, whereas to keep her in his house seemed like a transgression of the law, but to expose and bring her to trial would constrain him to deliver her to die; he doth none of these things, but conducts himself now by a higher rule than the law. For grace being come, there must needs henceforth be many tokens of that exalted citizenship. For as the sun, though as yet he show not his beams, doth from afar by his light illumine more than half29 the world; so likewise Christ, when about to rise from that womb, even before He came forth, shone over all the world. Wherefore, even before her travail, prophets danced for joy, and women foretold what was to come, and John, when he had not yet come forth from the belly, leaped from the very womb. Hence also this man exhibited great self-command, in that he neither accused nor upbraided, but only set about putting her away.

8. The matter then being in this state, and all at their wits’ end,30 the angel comes to solve all their difficulties. But it is worth inquiring, why the angel did not speak sooner, before the husband had such thoughts: but, “when he thought on it,” not until then, he came; for it is said, “While he thought on these things, the angel” comes. And yet to her he declares the good tidings even before she conceived. And this again contains another difficulty; for even though the angel had not spoken, wherefore was the Virgin silent, who had been informed by the angel; and why, when she saw her betrothed husband in trouble, did she not put an end to his perplexity?

Wherefore then did not the angel speak before Joseph became troubled. For we must needs explain the former difficulty first. For what reason then did he not speak? Lest Joseph should be unbelieving, and the same happen to him as to Zacharias. For when the thing was visible, belief was thenceforth easy; but when it had not yet a beginning, it was not equally easy to receive his saying. For this reason the angel spake not at the first, and through the same cause the Virgin too held her peace. For she did not think to obtain credit with her betrothed husband, in declaring to him a thing unheard of, but rather that she should provoke him the more, as though she were cloking a sin that had been committed. Since if she herself, who was to receive so great a favor, is affected somewhat after the manner of man, and saith, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”31 much more would he have doubted; and especially when hearing it from the woman who was under suspicion. Wherefore the Virgin saith nothing to him, but the angel, the time demanding it, presents himself to him.

9. Why then, it may be asked, did he not so in the Virgin’s case also, and declare the good tidings to her after the conception? Lest she should be in agitation and great trouble. For it were likely that she, not knowing the certainty, might have even devised something amiss touching herself, and have gone on to strangle or to stab herself, not enduring the disgrace. For wondrous indeed was that Virgin, and Luke points out her excellency, saying, that when she heard the salutation, she did not straightway pour herself out,32 neither did she accept the saying, but “was troubled,” seeking “what manner of salutation this might be.”33 Now she who was of such perfect delicacy would even have been distracted with dismay at the thought of her shame, not expecting, by whatever she might say, to convince any one who should hear of it, but that what had happened was adultery. Therefore to prevent these things, the angel came before the conception. Besides that, it was meet that womb should be free from trouble which the Maker of all things entered; and the soul rid of all perturbation, which was thought worthy to become the minister of such mysteries. For these reasons He speaks to the Virgin before the conception, but to Joseph at the time of travail.

And this many of the simpler sort, not understanding, have said there is a discordance; because Luke saith it was Mary to whom he declared the good tidings, but Matthew, that it was Joseph; not knowing that both took place. And this sort of thing it is necessary to bear in mind throughout the whole history; for in this way we shall solve many seeming discordances.

10. The angel then comes, when Joseph is troubled. For in addition to the causes mentioned, with a view also to the manifestation of his self-command, he defers his coming. But when the thing was on the point of taking place, then at last he presents himself. “While he thought on these things, an angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream.”34

Seest thou the mildness of the husband? So far from punishing, he did not even declare it to any one, no not even to her whom he suspected, but was thinking it over with himself, as aiming to conceal the cause even from the Virgin herself. For neither is it said that he was minded to “cast her out,” but to “put her away,” so very mild and gentle was the man. “But while he is thinking on these things, the angel appeareth in a dream.”

And why not openly, as to the shepherds, and to Zacharias, and to the Virgin? The man was exceedingly full of faith, and needed not this vision. Whereas the Virgin, as having declared to her very exceeding good tidings, greater than to Zacharias, and this before the event, needed also a marvellous vision; and the shepherds, as being by disposition rather dull and clownish.35 But this man, after the conception,36 when his soul was actually possessed with that evil suspicion, and ready to exchange it for good hopes, if there appeared any one to guide that way, readily receives the revelation. Wherefore he hath the good tidings declared to him after his suspicion, that this selfsame thing might be to him a convincing proof of the things spoken. I mean, that the fact of his having mentioned it to no one, and his hearing the angel say the very things which he thought in his mind, this afforded him an unquestionable sign that one had come from God to say it. For to Him alone it belongs to know the secrets of the heart.

Mark only, what a number of results are here. The man’s self-command is thoroughly shown; the word spoken in season contributes to his faith, and the history is freed from suspicion, in that it shows him to have felt what it was likely a husband would feel.


1 See St. Jerome in loc.
2 [St. Augustin’s Harmony of ike Gospels, ii. 4; Nicene Fathers, vol. vi. pp. 105, 106, where the sum of the names (forty) is given a symbolical significance.-R.]
3 [But see Homily I.5,6, where the independence of the evangelists is emphasized.-R.]
4 Exod. xii. 38; Jer. l. 37.
5 [Ei0 de\ kai\meta\ tau=ta he/gonen.]
6 “The tyrant commanded the sacred vessels to be delivered up to the imperial treasury
Into the Temple of God then,” at Antioch, “there entered, along with Julian the Prefect of the East, Felix the Steward of the Imperial Treasures
And they say that Julian grievously insulted the sacred table, and when Euzoius” (the Arian bishop) “endeavored to prevent him, he gave him a blow on the temple
Julian, however, presently fell into a grievous disease, and had his bowels wasted with a kind of mortification
and so came to an end of his life. Felix also for his part being afflicted with a scourge from God, had to vomit blood night and day from his mouth
until he also wasted away”. Theodoret. E H. iii. 8, 9,ed. Schulze. See also Sozom. E. H. v.8. St. Chrys. Babylam. t. v. p. 246 sub fin. where he says that Felix “burst asunder.”
7 Acts xii. 23, i. 18.
8 He mentions this miracle too with the former ones, Hom. in Ps. cx. t. 5, 738; and in his first Hom. on St. Paul, t. 8, 44. “The fountains among us, whose current is stronger than the rivers, shrank suddenly and started back (a thing which never had orcurved to them before), upon the Emperor’s attempting to defile the place with sacrifices and libations”.
9 qeori/an: the allegorical or mystical sense. See Suicer on the word; and St. Just. Mart. Cohort. ad Gr’c. p.29. A. Ed. Morell. See also in the Catena Aurea, from St. Jerome, the interpretation of the names in our Lord’s genealogy.
10 Matt. i. 18.
11 [kaino/teron.]
12 su/ntemnei.
13 See the different opinionas of the Fathers on these dates, in St. Jerome on Daniel ix.
14 Matt. i. 18.
15 Gen. xix. 8, 14.
16 Gal. iv. 4.
17 i. e., the Valentinians and some other Gnostics. Theodoret, Ep. 145. “Valentinus, and Basilides, and Baedesanes, and Harmonius, and those of their company, allow indeed the Virgin’s conception and the birth, but affirm that God the Word took nothing of the Virgin, but in a manner made Himself a passage through her as through a conduit, and that in manifesting Himself to men He was employing a mere phantom, and only seeming to be a man; as He appeared to Abraham and certain other of the ancients.” S. Epiph.H’r. xxxi. 7. “They affirm that He brought down His body from Heaven, and that as water through a conduit, so He passed through the Vtrgin Mary taking nothing of His mother’s womb, but having His body from Heaven, as I said before”. Comp. Massuet’s 1st Dissert. prefixed to the Benedictine Iren’ns, sec. 73. [Comp. the recovered work of Hippolytus (unknown when the Oxford translation was made), Refutation of all Heresies. Book VI., VII., Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V. pp. et sqq.-R.]
18 Phil. ii. 7.
19 John 1. 14.
20 Rom. ix. 5.
21 furamatoj.
22 Matt. i. 19.
23 [The punctuation of the translation has here been conformed to that of the Geeek text.-R.]
24 See Arist. Eth. Nicom. v. I, 2.
25 Job i. 1.
26 Luke i. 6.
27 34.
28 Cant. viii. 6.
29 [to= pleon.]
30 [pa/ntwn e0n a0mhxania| kaqestwtwn.]
31 Luke i. 34.
32 [That is , did not give way to her feeling with loud cry, whether of joy or grief.-R.]
33 Luke i. 29.
34 Matt. i. 20.
35 [a0groikikwteron, “more boorish.”-R.]
36 to\n to/kon.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St John Chrysostom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Prayer For Each Other: Homily Notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (with some Catechism links)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 14, 2012

This outline was prepared by Fr. George Howe and is in the public domain (published 1906).  These notes can be used for homily ideas, points for meditation, further study, etc. I’ve included some links to articles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which you might find helpful.

Sermon Plan By Father George Howe
“Making a remembrance of you in our prayers.” 1 Thess 1:2


I. The Apostle here gives us the example of thoughtful charity. The charity of prayer is based upon God who is love (see CCC. 2577),

II. Consider this practice of praying for each other.

WE ARE ALL BRETHREN: Concerning the Fatherhood of God and prayer see the CCC 2779-2785.

1. All children of the same Father,

2. Hence the wants of others should be to us as our own. When one member of our body suffers, all suffer. See CCC. 953.

3. In the epistles, the Faithful are styled “Brethren.”

4. We should help each other as members of the same family. This especially by prayer.

PRAYER FOR OTHERS: Concerning intercessory prayer see the CCC. 2634-2636.

1. Recommended

a. By Our Lord’s own words. “Our Father,” (not “my”): Matt 6:9. Concerning God as Our Father see CCC. 2786-2793. See also the Jesus teaching concerning prayer in the CCC. 2607-2615.

b. By the Apostle: “Pray one for another:” James 5:16.

c. By the practice of the Church: “Pray for us,” (plural) in the Litanies,

2. Avails more than prayer for ourselves only. Because thus accompanied by charity for others.

3. This intercessory prayer

a. Tends to advance the glory of God.

b. Brings many graces to souls.

4. Persons for whom we should pray:

a. Those in sin, or outside the Church.

Practice of S. Teresa: S. Teresa gives this as a reason for founding her convents that, as there are so many that offend God, nuns ought to pray for their conversion, especially for the defenders of the Church, for preachers and learned men who maintain its truth. She spent whole nights praying and weeping for the conversion of souls, especially those infected with heresy.

b. Those in lukewarmness or tepidity.

c. Those in sorrow, spiritual or temporal.

d. The sick and the dying. How much depends on the hour of death!

e. Our relations, friends, and benefactors.

f. Even our enemies : Matt 5:44.

5. Founded on the dogma of the Communion of Saints. Hereby the Faithful may assist each other by prayer and good works. See the CCC. 946-953.


1. Job prayed for his friends: Job 42:8.

2. Judith, asking for prayers: Judith 8:31.

3. Jeremiah, for Israel: Jer 14:11.

4. The Church, for S. Peter: Acts 12:5.

5. S. Paul asks for prayers: Rom 15:30.

6. Our Lord, for His disciples: John 17:11. See The CCC 2598-2606 on Jesus and Prayer.

7. Also for His enemies: Luke 23:34.

8. St. Stephen, for Saul: Acts 7:59.


I. Imitate this practice of the Apostle,

II. Hesitate not to ask for prayers.

III. When promising prayers to others, don’t fail to say them.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Meditations, Notes on 1 Thessalonians, Quotes, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 131

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 3, 2012

“My heart is not proud’
Evening Prayer – Tuesday of Week Three

1. We have listened to only a few words, about 30 in the original Hebrew, of Psalm 131[130]. Yet they are intense words that convey a topic dear to all religious literature: spiritual childhood. Our thoughts turn spontaneously to St Thérèse of Lisieux, to her “Little Way”, her “remaining little” in order to be held in Jesus’ arms (cf.Story of a Soul, Manuscript “C”, p. 208).

Indeed, the clear-cut image of a mother and child in the middle of the Psalm is a sign of God’s tender and maternal love, as the Prophet Hosea formerly expressed it: “When Israel was a child I loved him…. I drew [him] with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered [him] like one who raises an infant to his cheeks… I stooped to feed my child” (Hos 11: 1, 4).

2. The Psalm begins by describing an attitude quite the opposite of infancy, which, well aware of its own frailty, trusts in the help of others. In the foreground of this Psalm, instead, are pride of heart, haughty eyes and “great things” that are “too sublime for me” (cf. Ps 131[130]: 1). This is an illustration of the proud person who is described by Hebrew words that suggest “pride” and “haughtiness”, the arrogant attitude of those who look down on others, considering them inferior.

The great temptation of the proud, who want to be like God, the arbiter of good and evil (cf. Gn 3: 5), is decisively rejected by the person of prayer who chooses humble and spontaneous trust in the One Lord.

3. Thus, we move on to the unforgettable image of the mother and child. The original Hebrew text does not speak of a newborn child but of a child that has been “weaned” (Ps 131[130]: 2). Now, it is known that in the ancient Near East a special celebration marked the official weaning of a child, usually at about the age of 3 (cf. Gn 21: 8; I Sam 1: 20-23; II Mc 7: 27).

The child to which the Psalmist refers is now bound to the mother by a most personal and intimate bond, hence, not merely by physical contact and the need for food. It is a more conscious tie, although nonetheless immediate and spontaneous. This is the ideal Parable of the true “childhood” of the spirit that does not abandon itself to God blindly and automatically, but serenely and responsibly.

4. At this point, the praying person’s profession of trust is extended to the entire community: “O Israel, hope in the Lord both now and for ever” (Ps 131[130]: 3). In the entire people which receives security, life and peace from God, hope now blossoms and extends from the present to the future, “now and for ever”.

It is easy to continue the prayer by making other voices in the Psalms ring out, inspired by this same trust in God: “To you I was committed at birth, from my mother’s womb you are my God” (Ps 22[21]: 11). “Though my father and mother forsake me, yet will the Lord receive me” (Ps 27[26]: 10). “For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength” (Ps 71[70]: 5-6).

5. Humble trust, as we have seen, is opposed by pride. John Cassian, a fourth-fifth century Christian writer, warned the faithful of the danger of this vice that “destroys all the virtues overall and does not only attack the tepid and the weak, but principally those who have forced their way to the top”.

He continues: “This is the reason why Blessed David preserved his heart with such great circumspection, to the point that he dared proclaim before the One whom none of the secrets of his conscience escaped: “Lord, may my heart not grow proud, nor my gaze be raised with haughtiness; let me not seek great things that are beyond my strength’…. Yet, knowing well how difficult such custody is even for those who are perfect, he does not presume to rely solely on his own abilities, but implores the Lord with prayers to help him succeed in avoiding the darts of the enemy and in not being injured by them: “Let not the foot of the proud overtake me’ (Ps 36[35]: 12)” (Le Istituzioni Cenobitiche, XII, 6, Abbey of Praglia, Bresseo di Teolo, Padua, 1989, p. 289).

Likewise, an anonymous elderly Desert Father has handed down to us this saying that echoes Psalm 131[130]: “I have never overstepped my rank to walk higher, nor have I ever been troubled in the case of humiliation, for I concentrated my every thought on this: praying the Lord to strip me of the old man” (I Padri del Deserto. Detti, Rome, 1980, p. 287).

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Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Philippians 3:20 for the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 1, 2012

These notes can be used for homily suggestions, points for meditation, or for further study.

“For our conversation is in heaven”~Philip 3:20

THE Apostle in these words teaches that the conversation of the just is in heaven; so that if we wish to be like them we must not have our conversation about the miseries of this present life, but “in heaven.” The Apostle here lays down three things in regard to the conversation in heaven. Firstly, the reason why we should have our conversation there. Secondly, the nature of that conversation. Thirdly, the similitude between the conversation of the saints and of the angels.

I. The Reason Why We Should Have Our Conversation in Heaven:  It is to be noted, that the saints have their conversation in heaven for three reasons.

(1) For security, for he who has his conversation in heaven is secure from the dangers of this troublesome life: “Lay me down now, and put me in a surety with Thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?” Job 17:3. S. Augustine says that he who enters into the joy of his Lord is secure, and will experience the best condition in the best place.

(2) On account of delight; for he who has his conversation in heaven will have a continuous joy and delight: “For her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness,” Wisdom 8:16. Seneca compares the mind of the wise to a world above the moon, which is ever calm.

(3) On account of the necessity that there is for all earthly things to pass away. The saints know that all the earthly things here quickly are about to pass away: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall meet with fervent heat Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” 2 Pet 3:10, 14.

II. The Nature Of That Conversation:  It is to be noted, that the saints have in heaven a three- fold conversation.

(1) In ever thinking over the good things of heaven.

(2) In desiring to be ever in heaven. Of these two it is said, such an holy one is held worthily in the memory of man; he has passed ever to the joy of angels, since in the body only he is placed in the present conversation, his true conversation being in that heavenly country.

(3) The conversation of the saints in heaven consists in their living after the manner of heaven. The Gloss, on the text being, that our conversation is in heaven while we live on earth; because we have our hope there, and because we are like to the angels both in living and knowing.

III. the Similitude Between The Conversation Of The Saints And The Conversation Of The Angels: It is to be noted, that the conversation of the saints is like that of the angels in three ways.

(1) In purity.

(2) In simplicity without guile.

(3) In charity.

These three are chiefly seen in the angels: simplicity in essence, purity in nature, charity in grace. The conversation of the saints is also in these three: “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,” 2 Cor 1:12.


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Pope John Paul II’s Commentary/Meditation on Psalm 116:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 11, 2012

“O Lord… deliver me!”

1. In Psalm 116 that has just been proclaimed, the voice of the Psalmist expresses gratitude and love for the Lord after he has granted his anguished plea:  “I love the Lord for he has heard the cry of my appeal; for he turned his ear to me in the day when I called him” (Ps 116:1-2). This declaration of love is immediately followed by a vivid description of the mortal dread that has gripped the man in prayer (cf. Ps 116:3-6).

The drama is portrayed through the symbols customarily used in the Psalms. The snares that enthral life are the snares of death, the ties that enmesh it are the coils of hell, which desire to entice the living of whom it can never have “enough” (cf. Prov 30:15-16).

2. The image is that of the prey which has fallen into the trap of a relentless hunter. Death is like a vice that tightens its grip (cf. Ps 116:3). Behind the praying person, therefore, lurked the risk of death, accompanied by an agonizing psychological experience:  “they caught me, sorrow and distress” (Ps 116:3). But from that tragic abyss the person praying cried out to the only One who can stretch out his hand and extricate him from that tangle:  “O Lord, my God, deliver me!” (Ps 116:4).

This is the short but intense prayer of a man who, finding himself in a desperate situation, clings to the one rock of salvation. Thus, in the Gospel, just as the disciples cried out during the storm (cf. Matt 8:25), so Peter cried to the Lord when, walking on the water, he began to sink (cf. Matt 14:30).

3. Having been saved, the person praying proclaims that the Lord “is gracious… and just”, indeed, he has “compassion” (Ps 116:5). In the original Hebrew, the latter adjective refers to the tenderness of a mother whose “depths” it evokes.

Genuine trust always perceives God as love, even if it is sometimes difficult to grasp the course of his action. It remains certain, however, that “the Lord protects the simple hearts” (Ps 116:6). Therefore, in wretchedness and abandonment, it is always possible to count on him, the “father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (Ps 68:6).

4. A dialogue of the Psalmist with his soul now begins and continues in the remainder of the Psalm. The Psalmist invites his soul to turn back, to rediscover restful peace after the nightmare of death (cf. Ps 116:7).

The Lord, called upon with faith, stretched out his hand, broke the cords that bound the praying person, dried his tears and saved him from a headlong fall into the abyss of hell ( Ps 116:8). Henceforth, the turning point is clear and the hymn ends with a scene of light:  the person praying returns to the “land of the living”, that is, to the highways of the world, to walk in the “presence of the Lord”. He joins in the community prayer in the temple, in anticipation of that communion with God which awaits him at the end of his life (cf. 116:9).

5. To conclude, let us re-examine the most important passages of the Psalm, letting ourselves be guided by Origen, a great Christian writer of the third century whose commentary in Greek on Ps 116 has been handed down to us in the Latin version of St Jerome.

In reading that “the Lord has turned his ear to me”, he remarks:  “We are little and low; we can neither stretch out nor lift ourselves up, so the Lord turns his ear to us and deigns to hear us. In the end, since we are men and cannot become gods, God became man and bowed down, as it has been written:  “He bowed the heavens, and came down’ (Ps 18:10)”.

Indeed, the Psalm continues, “the Lord protects the simple hearts” (Ps 116[114]: 6). “If someone is great and becomes haughty and proud, the Lord does not protect him; if someone thinks he is great, the Lord has no mercy on him; but if someone humbles himself, the Lord takes pity on him and protects him. Hence, it is said, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me’ (Is 8: 18). And further, “I was helpless so he saved me'”.

So it is that the one who is little and wretched can return to peace and rest, as the Psalm says (cf. Ps 116[114]: 7), and as Origen himself comments:  “When it says:  “Turn back, my soul, to your rest’, it is a sign that previously he did have repose but then he lost it…. God created us good, he made us arbiters of our own decisions and set us all in paradise with Adam. But since, through our own free choice, we pitched ourselves down from that bliss and ended in this vale of tears, the just man urges his soul to return to the place from which it fell…. “Turn back, my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has been good’. If you, my soul, return to paradise, it is not because you yourself deserve it, but because it is an act of God’s mercy. It was your fault if you left paradise; on the other hand, your return to it is a work of the Lord’s mercy. Let us also say to our souls:  “Turn back to your rest’. Our rest is in Christ, our God” (Omelie sul Libro dei Salmi, Milan, 1993, pp. 409, 412-413).

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Fr George Howe’s Homily Notes on the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 15, 2012

These homily notes can make excellent points for meditation or further study. Filling out the points with references to the Scripture and the Catechism would also be useful.

“Our Lord wished to convey this lesson, that the neighbour is he who does
mercy and gives assistance to those in need”~Bede the Venerable.

1. The parable of the Good Samaritan, one of the most touching of all.

2. Full of varied instruction and lessons for each of us.

Points of the Parable: A CERTAIN MAN:

I. A Jew, hateful to the Samaritans: The greater therefore the merit of the Samaritan’s conduct.

II. Adam and the human race, falling into sin.

III. Each individual member of the human family.


I. The ” Vision of Peace.”

II. The Garden of Eden and the state of innocence. Where Adam had peace with God, himself, Eve and all creation.

III. The state of grace and friendship with God.

IV. Peace and joy which God wishes all men to have.


I. The “moon,” and its ever varying phases; Representing the passing goods of this inconstant world.

II. The state of sin, to which too many gravitate.


I. The devils, seeking to strip and wound our souls.

II. Their aids and agents the world and the flesh. Often more successful than their own direct efforts,

III. We fall into their hands, when we yield to temptation.

IV. Yet we can resist, for we have help at hand- God’s grace. “There are more with us than with them.” 2 Kings 6:16.

V. Despoiling us of divine grace, gifts of the Holy Ghost and merit.

THE WOUNDS, left in our soul, are:

I. Darkness in the Intellect, so that we see not the truth.

II. Weakness in the Will, whereby we easily yield,

III. Corruption in the Heart, prone now to evil.


I. The Old Law, which could not repair the Fall.

II. The priesthood of Aaron, unable to save mankind.

III. The hard-hearted, refusing efficacious means
within their power.

IV. Hateful examples of unfeeling hearts.


I. Christ Our Lord, who came to redeem us.

A. The oil: His mercy and love, in the Sacred Tribunal.

B. The wine: His Precious Blood, in the Holy Eucharist.

C. The beast: His own Humanity, in which He suffered for us.

D. The inn: the Church He founded on earth, which

1. Receives sinners to her bosom, and

2. Offers aid and help to their souls.

II. Priests of the Church, especially in the tribunal of Penance.

III. Any person, doing works of mercy to others.


I. Christ’s Vicar, and the prelates of the Church. To these, on leaving the earth, He entrusted us all.

II. Two pence:

A. Whatever is necessary to the welfare of our souls.

B. The two-fold power of Order and Jurisdiction.

III. The return: in death and judgment, to repay,

IV. How worthy of our gratitude and love.


1. Be not as the rich man, refusing pity: 1 Jn 3:17- But,

2. Imitate the good Samaritan towards all, friends or foes. For all men are neighbours.

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Fr. George Howe’s Homily Notes on Luke 10:27~The Twofold Precept

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 15, 2012

These homily notes can make excellent points for meditation or further study. Filling out the points with references to the Scripture and the Catechism would also be useful.

“Thou shall love the Lord . . . and thy neighbour.” Luke 10:27.

1. True love of God is inseparable from love of our neighbour. “There are two precepts, hut only one Charity.” S. Aug.

2. The Gospel tells us this two-fold love is essential to salvation.

3. It is therefore worthy of our serious attention.

First Precept: Love of God:

I. The very essence of Charity:Including Adoration, Homage, Reverence and Service,

II. Grounded on God’s

A. Infinite perfections : love of Charity.

B. Infinite goodness: love of Gratitude.

1. Length of His love: its eternal duration.

2. Breadth: universality of His favours.

3. Height: sublimity of His graces.

4. Depth: humiliations by which He gained them.

C. Supreme dominion over us.

D. Positive command: Deut 6:5.

III. With our whole HEART:

A. So that no love opposed to God shall enter. Abraham leaving his country for God: Gen 12:4.

B. So that God be the highest and final object of our love. Abraham ready to sacrifice his son: Gen 22:3.

C. So that He be the chief object of our affections. Magdalen, at Our Lord’s feet: Luke 7:47.

IV. With our whole SOUL:

A. Memory, recalling God’s benefits of every kind.

B. Understanding, studying His works and mercies.

C. Will, resolving to do all for His glory.

V. With our whole MIND:

A. Often turning to God in our thoughts.

B. Seeking to know God by study, instruction, etc.

VI. With our whole STRENGTH:

A. With all fervour and devotion.

B. Striving to serve God, according to His Law.

C. Working only for God and His glory: e.g. Missionaries in heathen countries.

Second Precept: Love of our Neighbour.

I. All persons, without exception. In God and for God, otherwise it is mere philanthropy,

II. Because:

A. We are all children of God and brothers of Christ: Matt 23:9.

B. In loving them, we love God: Matt 25:40.

C. It is a powerful means to obtain mercy: 1 Pet 4:8.

D. God commands it: Matt 22:39.

III. Order in Charity must be observed: e.g.

A. Our own soul before everyone and everything.

B. Our neighbour’s soul before our own body, in things of salvation.

C. Children, parents and relations.

D. Benefactors, friends and fellow-countrymen.

E. Our enemies also: Matt 5:44.

IV. This love of Charity will exist and be perfected in Heaven. Grace does not destroy Charity, but perfects it.” S. Thos. Aq.

V. Without it, we cannot truly love God: 1 Jn 4:20.

VI. This love of others for God makes earth a foretaste of Heaven,

VII. This one law, if observed, would dispense with all human law.

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Homily Notes on 2 Cor 3:5~ The Secret Workings of Grace

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 15, 2012

These homily notes can make excellent points for meditation or further study. Filling out the points with references to the Scripture and the Catechism would also be useful.

“Our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Cor 3:5

1. How silently work the great forces of Nature: e.g. The morning light steals softly over the world. Noiselessly the sap stirs the naked trees in spring.

2. Thus silent is the action of God on matter, but more so still in the immaterial souls of men. If we cannot follow it in the former, still less in the latter: Luke 22:20.

3.. Consider one of God’s spiritual gifts Grace and its secret workings.

Divine Grace:

I. Man at birth pertains to the order of nature, till Baptism lifts him to a supernatural plane.

A. The difference not at once apparent, yet truly there; as,

B. Between a real and a carved acorn, little difference to the eye, yet in reality what a distance divides them!

C. So, the essential, though invisible, difference between a man in grace, and one devoid of it.

II. Grace lifts us even above the angels, considered in their nature alone.

A. A greater gift than Creation a new creation into a higher order.

B. It is literally being “born again:” Jn 3:5. First, children of Adam, by nature; then, of God, by Grace,

III. This relationship with God bestows upon us

A. Spiritual rank and dignity, beyond description. We may now address Him as “Our Father.”

B. Fellowship with Christ, since we are sons of God.

1. Relationship without an equal in condescension and love.

2. Intensified in the Incarnation, wherein Our Lord embraced

a. Temporal life, that we might acquire
the eternal.

b. Poverty, that we might share His riches.

C. Men are proud of noble ancestry. Yet what compares with the honour of being brothers of Christ!

IV. Grace makes us tabernacles of God: 1 Cor 3:16

A. The Holy Ghost dwells in a soul in Grace.

B. Where He is, there also are Father and Son: Jn 14:23.

C. We are even made partakers of the divine nature: 2 Pet 1:4. Hence the enormity of sin, committed by one in grace.

D. The soul does not become God, but God enters its innermost recesses. As light fills a clear crystal.

E. As bodies reflect light differently, so also souls, their degrees of grace 1 Cor 15:41.

V. Grace also bestows

A. A special knowledge of things spiritual; and

B. A power to discriminate between them and earthly vanities. As witness the lives of the Saints and Martyrs,

VI. It makes our every act pleasing to God, if done for supernatural ends.

A. The true “philosopher’s stone” (merit).

B. Whereby the future life is made dependent on this one.

VII. Thus is Grace, day by day, secretly working out the principles of future glory.


1. Realize the beauty and effects of Grace, then will
you guard it jealously,

2. Keep it ever bright in the soul, like the wedding garment: Matt 22:12.

3.. Grace, a joy-giving thought to sorrowful and sin-laden souls. They are made for happiness, and through Grace, will find it in eternity.

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Grace: Homily Notes on 1 Cor 15:10

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 7, 2012

These homily notes can make excellent points for meditation or further study. Filling out the points with references to the Scripture and the Catechism would also be useful.

“By the grace of God.” 1 Cor 15:10.

1. The question of Grace one of the most difficult in all theology. S. Augustine, its chief exponent: 5th century.

2. At the same time, a most important one for all.

3. Try therefore to know something of it.


I. A supernatural gift of God, freely bestowed for our sanctification and salvation.

II. There are many divisions of Grace: consider the two chief: viz.

A. Habitual, or sanctifying Grace:

1. Permanently inhering in the soul.

2. Uniting us to God, as His children.

3. The source of actual graces

4. Typified by:

a. The cleansing of Naaman: 2 Kings 5:14.

b. The wedding garment: Matt 22:12.

c. The parable of the vine: John 15:5.

B. Actual Grace:

1. Not a permanent, but a transient divine influence.

2. Enabling the soul hic et nunc to avoid evil and do good.

3. Enlightening the mind, and strengthening the will.

4. Examples:

a. The preaching of Jonah: Jonah 3.

b. The descent of the Holy Ghost: Acts 2:3.

c. The conversion of S. Paul: Acts 9.

5. Occasions of actual grace: e.g.

a. Sermons: S. Antony, the Hermit: Jan. 17.

b. Good reading: S.Ignatius: July. 31.

c. An accident: S. Norbert: June 6.

d. A death: S. Francis Borgia: Oct. 10.

e. Friendly advice: The rich young man: Matt 19:21.

6. Means to obtain it:

a. The performance of good works: Especially prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds.

b. Hearing Mass,

c. Receiving the Sacraments.

d. Attending instructions,

III. Effects of divine Grace:

A. Justification of the soul by freedom from mortal sin.

B. We become the temples of God: 1 Cor 3:16.

C. Ease in obeying the divine Law and moral precepts.

D. Great peace in the mind: Ps 119:165.

E. Good works, done for God, and then meritorious for eternity.

F. We become children of God, and heirs of His Kingdom.

G. Grace is the root of future glory. Our Glory in Heaven, proportioned to our Grace upon earth.

IV. Lost by one mortal sin, though it probably revives on repentance.

V. Without a special revelation, no one knows whether he have grace in the heart, though we may have a moral certitude of it.


1. Value this beautiful gift, producing such fruits in the soul,

2. Guard it with care, as it may easily be lost: 2 Cor.4:7. “Even if a man have the light of grace and the love of God, let him remember he is still under the open sky and not in the house, and that a breeze may put out this holy light for ever.” ~St. Bernard.

3. Avoid occasions of sin that expose you to its loss.

These notes were originally published by Fr. George Howe. 192

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