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Monthly Archives: January 2013

THE “PHILISTINES” STAND FOR BODILY SENSES, “MOAB” FOR THE FLESH: A SERMON BY ST ANTHONY OF PADUA

‘Then said he to the man sick of the palsy: Arise, take up thy bed and go to thy house. And he arose and went into his house…” (Mt 9:6-8). Note the words, ‘Arise’, ‘take’ and ‘go’. The palsied man rises when the sinner deserts the vices in which he has lain…

‘Take your bed’… “To take up one’s bed is to lift the flesh up from earthly desires to the will of the spirit. Then, what was a sign of weakness becomes a proof of health.” Take up your bed, then, separating your flesh from earthly things by continence, in hope of heavenly things. There is something similar in the second book of Kings, where it says that:

‘David defeated the Philistines, and brought them down. And he took the bridle of tribute out of the hands of the Philistines. And he defeated Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to earth. And he measured with two lines, one to put to death, and one to save alive; and Moab was made to serve David under tribute (2 Kg (Sm) 8:1-2).

Literally, understand the text like this: ‘David defeated the Philistines, and he took the bridle of tribute out of their hands’, the power that they had in Israel. ‘And he defeated Moab, and measured them with a line’, the one to whom he willed to give the inheritance, casting them down to earth, humbling them greatly. ‘He measured with two lines’, etc., deciding at his own pleasure whom to kill, and whom to keep alive.

Morally, the Philistines mean ‘those who fall down from drink’. They stand for the bodily senses, drunk with the drink of worldly vanity, falling into the pit of sin. They are called a ‘double ruin’, because they ruin themselves and the soul. Of this ruin the Lord says:

‘Every one that heareth these my words and doth them not shall be like a foolish man that built his house (his way of life) upon the sand (love of temporal things). And the rain (of the devil’s temptation) fell, and the floods (of carnal desire) came, and the wind (of worldly success or failure) blew; and they beat upon that house. And it fell’ (because its foundation was sand, dry sand representing temporal things which lack the moisture of grace); ‘and great was the fall thereof’ (Mt 7:26-27).

David defeats the Philistines, when the penitent strikes down his bodily senses by mortifying the flesh, and humbles them by remembering his baseness. Then he takes away the bridle of tribute, the desire of greed and lust which formerly bridled the bodily senses, so that they could not eat the straw of the Lord’s Incarnation, placed in the manger; but could only drink the water of earthly pleasure. A bridled horse cannot eat, but it can drink. So Jeremiah deplores this tribute in Lamentations, saying,

‘The prince of provinces is made tributary’ (Lam 1:1). The soul was once prince of provinces, the five senses; now it is tributary to carnal desires. But David takes out of their hand (their power) the bridle of tribute, when he takes up his bed, ‘crucifying the flesh with its vices and concupiscences’ (Gal 5:24).

‘And he defeated Moab’, etc. Moab is ‘from the father’, meaning the movement of the flesh which we have contracted from our fathers. As often as this Moab arises, we must strike it down, crush it, and cast it down to earth. We measure it by our judgement, with the line of harsh penance. We humble it and apply punishment in proportion to guilt. We should measure with two lines, two sorts of compunction. One refers to sin: this is to death, to mortifying the movement of the flesh; the other refers to desire for glory, life-giving to our spirit. So the Gospel continues: ‘Go to your house’. To go to our house is to return to paradise, man’s first home; or to inward care, lest we sin again. He rose, and went to his house… “It is a great virtue, when without delay the command is accompanied by salvation. How rightly did those present leave their blasphemies in amazement, and turn to praise of so great a majesty.”

So there follows: ‘And the multitude, seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men’ (Mt 9:8). Note that they feared and they glorified. So we say in the Introit of today’s Mass: ‘All that thou hast done to us, Lord, thou hast done in true judgement: for we have sinned against thee, and have not obeyed thy commandments’ (Dan 3:28-30).

This makes it clear that the palsied man was struck with illness because of his sins; and he could not be cured until they were forgiven. We should believe all that the Lord has done, because he does them with just judgement; and we should acknowledge our sins and glorify him with the crowds, saying, ‘But give glory to thy name, and do with us according to thy mercy’ (Dan 3:42-43).

The third part of the Epistle is concordant to this third clause: ‘He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working wiith his hands the thing that is good’, that is: ‘take up your bed’, because he who intends a good work, takes up the bed of his flesh; ‘that he may have something to give him that suffereth need’ (Eph 4:28). That is: ‘and go to your house.’ He goes to his house, when he bestows works of mercy on his soul, which suffers need.

Beloved brothers, let us then ask our Lord Jesus Christ to make us rise from sin, take up the bed of our flesh, and return to the house of heavenly blessedness. May he grant this, who is blessed, sweet and lovable, for ever and ever. Let every soul rising from the bed of the flesh say: Amen. Alleluia.

 
 

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PRAYER FOR A SPIRITUAL GRACE

TO OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR

O Mother of Perpetual Succour, with the greatest confidence I come before your sacred picture, in order to invoke your aid. You have seen the wounds which Jesus has been pleased to receive for our sake; you have seen the blood of your Son flowing for our salvation; you know how much your Son desires to apply to us the fruit of his redemption. Behold, I cast myself at your feet, and pray you to obtain for my soul the grace I stand so much in need of. O Mary, most loving of all mothers, obtain for me from the Heart of Jesus, the source of every good, this grace (mention it).

O Mother of Perpetual Succour, you desire our salvation far more than we do ourselves; your Son has given you to us for our Mother; you have yourself chosen to be called Mother of Perpetual Succour. Show me that you love me, show me that you are really my Mother; I do not trust in my merits, but in your powerful intercession; I trust in your goodness, I trust in your motherly love. Mother of Perpetual Succour, for the love you bear to Jesus your Son and my Redeemer, for the love of your great servant St Alphonsus, for the love of my soul obtain for me the grace I ask from you. Amen.

 
 

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FATHER, MAY I LOVE YOU ALONE

Holy Lord,
Father Almighty,
Eternal God,
for the sake of Your generosity
and that of Your Son
who endured suffering and death for me,
and for the sake of the wonderful holiness of His Mother
and the merits of all the Saints,
grant to me,
a sinner unworthy of Your blessings,
that I may love You alone
and ever thirst for Your love.

Let me ever have in my heart
the remembrance of the benefits of the Passion.
May I recognise my own sinfulness
and desire to be humbled and deprecated by all.
Let nothing grieve me except sin.
Amen.

 
 

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THE RADICAL ENTHUSIASM FOR SHARING THE FAITH WHICH PAUL RADIATED IS AT THE HEART OF THIS YEAR OF FAITH

HAVING THEMSELVES EXPERIENCED THE OVERWHELMING LOVE OF CHRIST, THEY BURNED TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS.

Those two great missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, travelled widely, ceaselessly preaching the news of the Kingdom despite undergoing beatings, imprisonment and rejection. St Luke tells the story of their awesome undertakings, of how they cooperated with the Spirit to tell of Jesus Christ to the various communities. On fire with the love of Jesus, they overcame every obstacle, preaching ‘in season, out of season’. We get a marvellous glimpse of this in Chapter 14 of the Acts of the Apostles when, at the end of their first missionary journey after many difficulties, they arrive in Antioch. Bursting to tell the news, “they gathered the Church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).

Having themselves experienced the overwhelming love of Christ, they burned to share it with others. “They put fresh heart into the disciples encouraging them to persevere in the faith” (Acts 14:22). The radical enthusiasm for sharing the faith which Paul radiated is at the heart of this Year of Faith. “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.” In his letter ‘Porta Fidei’ (The Door of Faith), Pope Benedict goes on to quote the words of St Augustine, “Believers strengthen themselves by believing.”

We must not let the gift of faith given to us lie wrapped up like a precious jewel hidden in a safe. “Fan into a flame the gift God gave you” (2Tim 1:6), Paul writes to Timothy, advice to encourage us also. True faith is not adhering to a bulk of doctrine, but an encounter with a living Person, Jesus. Now is the time to respond with all our hearts, with all our energies, to his welcome, “Come and see” (Jn 1:39) and allow ourselves to be transformed by his grace. Getting to know and love the Lord, listening and responding to his word, is the first step on this lifelong journey. As our love for him overflows, others are drawn to share this faith.

This Year of Faith, the Pope writes, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord. We are to radiate the Word of truth in our lives. We are invited to look at and be inspired and nourished by the great riches in the treasury of our faith. “The love of Christ urges us” (2Cor 5:17) to go through that open door and bring others with us. Let us not sit idly by but, as Paul, having reached the end of his life urged his faithful disciple Timothy, “let us stand by the truths we have learned” (2Tim 3:14).
– Published in “Far East”, Magazine of the Columban Missionaries, issue January/February 2013. Find out more about the Columban Missionaries at http://www.columbans.co.uk and http://www.columbansisters.org (external links).

 
 

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PRAYER FOR WHEN WE ARE WORN OUT

Dear Jesus, lay thy wounded Hand
upon my weary head,
and teach me to have courage
in the paths that I must tread.
Bless me, and bless those whom I love,
and give us grace to see:
these crosses bravely borne by us
will keep us close to thee.

And if at times a shadow falls
in unexpected ways,
put thy gentle Hand in mine
and guide me through the days.
So bless my people, one and all,
with thy protecting grace,
and impart to them thy Wisdom
‘ere they meet thee face to face.
Amen.

 
 

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REJOICE IN THE LORD (PSALM 33)

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.
He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth the sons of men.
From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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PRAYER TO ST BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX

ST BERNARD, ABBOT AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH; MEMORIAL: AUGUST 20

Born near Dijon in France in 1090, Bernard entered the Cistercian Order at the age of 22; he became the Abbot of Clairvaux. Despite his longing for the solitary contemplative life, he travelled a great deal in France, Germany and Italy, trying to reconcile the divisions in the Church at the time. He wrote many works on the spiritual life and theology.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father,
Saint Bernard was filled with zeal for Your house
and was a radiant light in Your Church.
By his prayers
may we be filled with his spirit of zeal
and walk always as children of light.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 
 

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