RSS

Tag Archives: mustard seed

SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ARTILLERY TO DEFEND THE FAITH

“Five hundred years ago this month, our holy father St Philip Neri was born in the early hours of 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Just hours later the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity were infused into his soul in Baptism. In the wretched heat and humidity that afflict Florence in high summer it was prudent to administer the Sacrament without delay.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard which when it is sown is the tiniest seed in the field, but when grown it becomes a tree in the branches of which the birds of the air come and make their nests. The seed that was planted in St Philip’s heart in the famous Baptistery of St John, and which germinated and took root during his childhood in Florence, would eventually flourish into a mighty tree in Rome. His own room was the nest (he actually called it his ‘nido’) in which the fledgling first Oratory would become the base for an apostolic mission that would earn him the glorious title Apostle of Rome.

The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation

As other Oratories began to be established, it was St Philip’s wish that each house remain autonomous, and this status is preserved to this day in the Church’s law. Nevertheless, every Oratory is to be like a branch that stems from and is animated by that supernatural life that was nurtured in St Philip’s ‘nido’ half a millennium ago. The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation is to give encouragement and direction to anyone who seeks spiritual refreshment in the shade of its bough. An Oratory is supposed to provide a spiritual home, usually in an urban context, in which friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured under the gentle guidance of St Philip and the protection of Our Lady.

…where friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured

Mention of the Counter Reformation conjures up images of the Church rolling out all the engines of war. Established religious orders were to be reformed or suppressed; new congregations would be equipped with spiritual and intellectual artillery to defend the Faith and reclaim territories lost to schism. Jesuits were to be deployed around Europe to engage heretics in public dispute, or despatched to risk life and limb recruiting converts from the heathen New World. In contrast to this, St Philip’s mission within the Church Militant took place entirely on the home front. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘He put away from him monastic rule and authoritative speech as David refused the armour of his king… His weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light and fervour and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him.” In other words, it was through personal contact and friendship that St Philip contributed to the success of the Catholic Reformation.

The Christian/spiritual meaning of friendship

Under the tyranny of sentimentalism that reigns supreme today, there is a danger that friendship can take on a shallow meaning and be understood mainly in terms of feelings and utility. To understand how friendship was so effective in St Philip’s apostolate, it is necessary to appreciate the classical and Christian traditions in which he had been formed by the Dominicans at San Marco, and through his later studies in Rome. In the Aristotelian understanding, friendship is a ‘settled disposition’ – a habit, based on virtue. It involves the recognition of an intrinsic good in the other, and a reciprocated commitment to serve that good and make it flourish. In a truly virtuous friendship, the parties will also work together for the common good. Whereas for Aristotele such friendship is only possible between equals (he said that the one good we must never desire for our friends is that they become gods because if our wish were fulfilled then we should immediately forfeit their friendship), St Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on Sanctifying Grace makes even friendship with God a reality, because God actually shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism.

The infectious spirit of generosity and charity

Saint Philip excelled in making men’s hearts receptive to this vocation to live as friends with God. His joyful influence fostered an ambience in which his spiritual children found pleasure in each other’s company and came to assist each other in living virtuously. A shy cobbler whom St Philip spotted sitting at the back of the Oratory was summoned to the front and hugged like a long-lost child returning to a family that included cardinals and princes. A watch-seller on the verge of bankruptcy found himself suddenly overwhelmed by eager customers at the Oratory, where St Philip’s friends had been primed to come to his assistance. This infectious spirit of generosity and charity was fostered by visits to attend to the poor in the Roman hospitals. Even those who came to the Oratory with unworthy motives were eventually captivated by the ‘Winning Saint’, and some found themselves taking Holy Orders or religious vows as a result.

This school of Christian friendship was the magnificent mustard tree which developed from that seed of the Kingdom planted in St Philip’s heart at his Baptism on 22nd July 1515. By his intercession, and under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, may it continue to flourish in the Oratory today and in the years to come.”

– From: “The Oratory Parish Magazine – From the Provost”, London Oratory, Vol. 92, No. 1130 (subheadings in bold added afterwards)

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 17:14-20)

IF YOU HAD FAITH, NOTHING WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO YOU.

A man came up to Jesus and went down on his knees before him. “Lord,” he said “take pity on my son: he is a lunatic and in a wretched state; he is always falling into the fire or into the water. I took him to your disciples and they were unable to cure him.” “Faithless and perverse generation!” Jesus said in reply “How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And when Jesus rebuked it the devil came out of the boy who was cured from that moment.

Then the disciples came privately to Jesus. “Why were we unable to cast it out?” they asked. He answered, “Because you have little faith. I tell you solemnly, if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it would move; nothing would be impossible for you.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 13:31-35)

A MUSTARD SEED BECOMES A TREE SO THAT THE BIRDS OF THE AIR SHELTER IN ITS BRANCHES.

Jesus put a parable before the crowds. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:

I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Tags: , , , ,

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 13:24-43)

LET THEM BOTH GROW TILL THE HARVEST.

Jesus put another parable before the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well.

The owner’s servants went to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?’ ‘Some enemy has done this,’ he answered. And the servants said, ‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’

But he said, ‘No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.’”

He put another parable before them, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:

I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, “Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.” He said in reply, “The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED…”

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of all shrubs.

Let us pray. Grant, O Almighty God, that with our thoughts ever on spiritual things, we may please you in all that we say and do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

31st JANUARY, GOSPEL READING (MARK 4:26-34)

A MAN THROWS SEED ON THE LAND. WHILE HE SLEEPS THE SEED IS GROWING; HOW, HE DOES NOT KNOW.

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

29th JULY, GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 13:31-35)

A MUSTARD SEED BECOMES A TREE SO THAT THE BIRDS OF THE AIR SHELTER IN ITS BRANCHES.

Jesus put a parable before the crowds. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:

I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Tags: , , , , ,