Category Archives: Office of Readings

Behold! I will save my people

“By an utterly free and mysterious decree of his own wisdom and goodness, the eternal Father created the whole world.  His plan was to dignify men with a participation of his own divine life.  When in Adam men had fallen, he did not abandon them, but ceaselessly offered them help to salvation, in anticipation of Christ the Redeemer, ‘who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature’.  All the elect, before time began, the Father ‘foreknew and predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren’.

“All those who would believe in Christ he planned to assemble in the holy Church, which was already foreshadowed from the beginning of the world.  In a remarkable way the Church was prepared for throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.  Established in the present era of time, she was made manifest by the outpouring of the Spirit.  At the end of time she will achieve her glorious fulfillment.  Then, as may be read in the holy Fathers, all just men from the time of Adam, ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect’, will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

“Finally, those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the People of God.

“In the first place there is that people to whom the covenants and promises were made and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.  On account of their fathers, this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues.

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator.  In the first place among these there are the Muslims; they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and along with us adore the one and merciful God, who will judge mankind on the last day.”

Excerpt from the Constitution of the Church of the Second Vatican Council Nn 2,16

Rabbi Abraham Skorka,Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina, and Pope Francis, after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26, 2014.

A Pathway to Peace

Singing the Divine Office
Singing the Divine Office

It is to be hoped that Catholics will endeavor to co-operate actively and positively both with their separated brethren, who profess the charity of the gospel along with them, and with all men who desire true peace. It is in this way that they will fulfill their true role in the international community.

A reading from the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World N 88-90 (selection)
Office of Readings; Week 31; Tuesday

Achieving Peace

Singing the Divine Office

On the necessity of educating people to pacific attitudes of mind

People should beware of leaving the problems of peace and disarmament to the efforts of a few men without putting their own attitudes in order.  Civil rulers, who must at the same time promote the welfare of the whole world as well as protect the interests of their own people, depend to a very great extent on public opinion and public feeling.  Their peace-making efforts will be fruitless as long as hostility, contempt, and distrust as well as racial hatred and uncompromising ideologies continue to divide men and put them in opposing camps.  Hence a very great need arises to re-educate people’s attitudes and to guide public opinion in a new direction.

Those who are engaged in education, especially the education of the young, and those who mould public opinion should regard it as among their greatest responsibilities to educate people to want peace.  Every one of us needs a change of heart; we must keep in mind the needs of the whole world and see what tasks we can all perform together in order to bring about the improvement of mankind.

We must not let false hopes deceive us.  Animosity and hatred must be put aside, and firm, honest agreements about world peace must be concluded.  Otherwise, in spite of all the wonders of modern science, humanity, which is already in grace danger, may be brought to the point that the only peace it will know will be the dread peace of death.  The Church, however, is living the the midst of these anxieties, and, even though she makes these statements, she has not lost hope.  She intends to propose to our age over and over again, in season and out of season, the message of the apostle: “Behold, now is the acceptable time” for a change of heart, “behold, now is the time of salvation.”

If peace is ever to be achieved, the first condition is to remove the causes of dissension between men.  Wars thrive on these, especially on injustice.  Excessive economic inequalities and unwarranted delay in applying the remedies for them are often the causes of such dissensions.  Other causes are the quest for power, the total disregard for people’s rights, and at a deeper level, envy, distrust, pride, and other selfish passions.  Man cannot tolerate disorders of such a kind, and the inevitable result is that, even though war does not actually break out, the world is constantly disturbed by the strife and violence between men.

Exactly the same evils reappear in the relationships between nations.  If they are ever to be overcome or prevented and if violence is ever to be suppressed, it is absolutely essential that international bodies work together even more effectively and resolutely to co-ordinate their efforts and to work unsparingly to create organizations that will promote peace among men.

A reading from the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World N 82-83
Office of Readings; Week 31; Monday

July 14: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
[Pronounciation: Gah-deh-lee Deh-gah-quee-tah]

Kateri was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was baptized by Jesuit missionary Fr. Jacques de Lambertville on Easter of 1676 at the age of twenty. She devoted her life to prayer, penitential practices, and the care of the sick and aged in Caughnawaga near Montreal (where her relics are now enshrined). She incurred the hostility of her tribe because of her faith. She was devoted to the Eucharist, and to Jesus Crucified, and was called the “Lily of the Mohawks.” She died in 1680 and was beatified June 22, 1980 — the first native American to be declared “Blessed.” She was canonized on October 21, 2012.

The Office of Readings
The Second Reading
A reading from Saint of the Day, by Leonard Foley, O.F.M

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Native American nations, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York. She was to be the first person born in North America to be beatified. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk man and at nineteen finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Catherine (“Kateri”), which she took from St. Catherine of Siena, on Easter Sunday.

She was now treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people. She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a two-hundred-mile walking journey to a Christian Native American village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At twenty three she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for a Native American woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day and was accused of meeting a man there. Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.

Collect Prayer

O God, who desired the Virgin St. Kateri Tekakwitha to flower among Native Americans in a life of innocence, grant, through her intercession, that when all are gathered into your Church from every nation, tribe and tongue, they may magnify you in a single canticle of praise. 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.

Symbols: lily (a symbol of her purity); a cross (a symbol of her love of Jesus Christ); a turtle (a symbol of her clan).

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My peace I give you

Headscarf princesses by Nayzak
Artwork by Nayzak

Peace I bequeath to you,
my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

John 14:27

“Those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the people of God:

“In the first place there is that people to whom the covenants and the promises were made and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers, this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator. In the first place among these there are the Muslims; they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and along with us adore the one and merciful God, who will judge mankind on the last day.

“Nor is God himself far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and every other gift, and who as Saviour wills that all men be saved.”

Excerpted from the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council; from the Week 2 of the Year: Wednesday Office of Readings.

Reconciling Opposites

Saint Athanasius
Saint Athanasius

“The all-holy Father of Christ, beyond all created being, as supreme steersman, through his own wisdom and his own Word, our Lord and Savior Christ, guides and orders the universe for our salvation, and acts as seems best to him. And the universe is good, as it was created and thus we see it, since this is what he wills ; and no one could disbelieve it. For if the movement of creation was meaningless, and the universe was carried about haphazardly, one could well believe our statements. But if it was created with reason, wisdom, and understanding and has been arranged with complete order, then he who governs and ordered it can be none other than the Word of God.

“I mean the living and acting God, the very Word of the good God of the universe, who is other than created things and all creation ; he is rather the sole and individual Word of the good Father, who has ordered all this universe and illuminates it by his providence. He is the good Word of the good Father, and it is he who has established the order of all things, reconciling opposites and from them forming a single harmony. He is the one, Only-begotten, good God, proceeding from the Father as from a good source, who orders and contains the universe.”

Excerpted from St. Athanasius’ Discourse Against the Gentiles; from the Week 1 of the Year: Thursday Office of Readings.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Anselm
St. Anselm of Canterbury (AD 1033-1109) was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and the father of scholasticism. He is best known for his ontological proof of God’s existence.

“O Virgin, by whose blessing all nature is blessed!”

“Sky, stars, earth, rivers, day, night, and all things that are meant to serve man and be for his good rejoice because of you, our Lady. Through you they have returned to life; enriched with a new grace that words cannot describe. When they lost the noble purpose of their nature, for which they had been made, of serving and helping those who praise God, they were like dead things. They were crushed, disfigured, and abused by idol worshipers for whom they had not been made. They rejoice now as if they had come to life again. Now they are made beautiful because they serve and are used by those who believe in God.

“A new and priceless grace has made them almost leap for joy. They have not merely felt God himself, their creator, ruling them invisibly from above, but they have seen him visibly within themselves using them in his work of sanctification. These immense benefits have come through the blessed fruit of the blessed womb of the blessed Mary.

“Through the fullness of your grace, the things in the lower world rejoice in the gift of freedom and the things above the world are gladdened by being renewed. Through the one glorious Son of your glorious virginity all the just who died before his life-giving death rejoice that their captivity has been ended, and the angels delight that their half-ruined city is restored. O woman, full and more than full of grace, all creation has received of the overflow of your fullness and its youth has been renewed! O blessed and more than blessed Virgin, through your blessing all creation is blessed. Not only is creation blessed by the creator, but creation blesses its creator.

“God gave to Mary his Son, the Only-begotten of his heart, equal to himself, whom he loved as himself. From Mary he fashioned himself a Son, not another one but the same, so that by nature there would be one and the same Son both of God and of Mary. Every nature is created by God, and God is born of Mary. God created all things and Mary gave birth to God. God himself, who made all things, made himself from Mary. In this way he remade all that he had made. He who was able to make all things out of nothing, when they have been defaced would not remake them without Mary’s help.

“God is, then, Father of all created things and Mary is mother of all that has been recreated. God is Father of the institution of all things and Mary is the mother of the restitution of all things. God begot him through whom all things were made and Mary gave birth to him through whom all things are saved. God begot him without whom nothing at all exists and Mary gave birth to him without whom nothing that exists is good.

“The Lord is indeed with you. For he granted to you that all nature should owe so great a debt to you jointly with himself. ”

Excerpted from the discourses of St. Anselm; from the 8 December Office of Readings – The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.