Thursday, May 28, 2020


“St. Paul VI” credit Catholic News Service
Biographical information about St. Paul VI [1]

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.
Commentary on 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23

St. Paul continues to exhort the church at Corinth to follow his example. He begins this selection with a restatement of his own imperative call: to proclaim the Gospel is a “divine compulsion.” His reward for responding to that call is that he “too may have a share in it.” His clear message is that the Gospel he proclaims and the work he accomplishes should bring glory to Christ, not to himself.

CCC: 1 Cor 9:5-18 2122; 1 Cor 9:19 876; 1 Cor 9:22 24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10

R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all you lands.
Sing to the Lord; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the Lord, you families of nations,
give to the Lord glory and praise;
give to the Lord the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Say among the nations: The Lord is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

“Announce his salvation, day after day.” This song of praise to the Lord invites all humanity to participate in God’s salvation. “This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with Isaiah Chapters 40-55, as does Psalm 98. Another version of the psalm is 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.” [3]

CCC: Ps 96:2 2143

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Commentary on Mt 16:13-19

St. Matthew’s story of how Jesus asked about what people were saying about him has a profound impact on the Church. Here, when challenged by Jesus with the question, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The second title is not present in St. Mark’s version of this encounter. The title adds an understanding that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but also the Son of God. Given this response, Jesus confers upon Simon a new name “Kephas” which comes from the root Aramaic word kepa or “rock.” When translated into Greek it is petros, and from there to Peter. The name, however, becomes the foundation for the Church. As a consequence of this exchange, Peter is given Christ’s authority, an authority that is passed down through papal succession to the Pope who sits on the Chair of Peter today.

CCC: Mt 16-18 1969; Mt 16:16-23 440; Mt 16:16 424, 442; Mt 16:17 153, 442; Mt 16:18-19 881; Mt 16:18 424, 442, 552, 586, 869; Mt 16:19 553, 1444

Especially for Catholics born in the 1960’s or later, they may look at St. Paul VI and say, “Ah, another pope sainted for his piety and service to Mother Church."  Because he was beatified on the same day as St. John Paul the Great, many will overlook his incredible contributions to our life of faith entirely.  We hope the faithful will take the time to appreciate his gift to us and to the Church he loved. 

All saints of the Church are revered because of their “heroic virtue.”  What virtues best express the gifts of St. Paul VI? One is his ability to live up to the standards of love for others that his Savior and ours most clearly exemplified.  In his life as Pope he was vilified multiple times by those he served and was the first pope to relent from excommunicating those who challenged his leadership and were openly hostile to his reforms.  It might surprise those who are brought up in our time to know that one of the most vicious attacks came because of his encyclical Humanae Vitae, a work that also showed his dedication to life.

There are many other important efforts of his papacy that need to be remembered, not the least of which was that he faithfully shepherded the Second Vatican Council to its conclusion (even today those reforms reverberate and are misunderstood).

For our part, as we celebrate his feast day, we ask for his intercession.  We pray that we might as faithfully live the values and life of Christ as he did, carrying the same keys given to St. Peter, Apostle and our first pope.  May we also be given the strength to endure all things in union with Christ, faithful to his teaching and loyal members of the living body of Christ, the Church.


[1] The photograph is “St. Paul VI” credit Catholic News Service.
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible, with the exception of the psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This republication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] NAB footnote on Psalm 96

Friday, January 3, 2020


“Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.“ 
artist and date were not cited

No proper readings have been assigned by USCCB or ICEL. These readings are posted at the Universalis site.  Alternate Readings for this memorial may be taken from the Common of Holy Men and Women.


Reading I: Genesis 12:1-4a

The Lord said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the Lord directed him.
Commentary on Gn 12:1-4a

The genealogy of the Hebrew generations that ended with Abram and his wife migrating from the land of Ur (Genesis 11:27ff) sets this reading as a formal introduction. Abram (later Abraham) is chosen by God to become a great leader of people in holiness. "The universalism that marked Genesis chapters 1-11 having now failed, the Lord begins anew, singling out one Mesopotamian - in no way distinguished from his peers as yet - and promising to make of him a great nation, not numbered in the seventy nations of chapter 10.  What the Lord promises Abram (his name is changed to "Abraham" only in Chapter 17) - land, numerous offspring, and blessing - constitutes to a large extent a reversal of some of the curses on Adam and Eve - exile, pain in childbirth, and uncooperative soil (Genesis 3:16-24)." [3]

The blessing provided here is discussed at some length in the notes on this section: “Shall find blessing in you: the sense of the Hebrew expression is probably reflexive, "shall bless themselves through you" (i.e., in giving a blessing they shall say, "May you be as blessed as Abraham"), rather than passive, "shall be blessed in you." Since the term is understood in a passive sense in the New Testament (Acts 3:25Galatians 3:8), it is rendered here by a neutral expression that admits to both meanings; so also in the blessings given by God to Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14).” [4]

CCC: Gn 12:1-4 145; Gn 12:1 59; Gn 12:2 762, 1669; Gn 12:3 706, 2676; Gn 12:3 LXX 59; Gn 12:4 2570
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
Commentary on Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Psalm 1 serves as a preface to the whole book of psalms. The psalmist here exalts those who follow the Lord’s commands, and reflects upon the blessings they will receive. As in Romans 6:19ff, this selection emphasizes the contrast between the salvation of the just and the punishment of the wicked.

This wisdom psalm begins by extolling the virtue of those who follow the law. The focus is to look to God for guidance, and not to trust only in the counsel of men. Those who reject the law will be blown away like “chaff,” an image used in the Gospel as well (Matthew 3:12).

This portion of the psalm is later echoed in Isaiah 48:17-19, like an overlapped formula of covenant.  Blessed is the man who “delights in the law day and night,” but “the way of the wicked vanishes.” It also takes up the theme of following right paths and staying true to the teachings of God: “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Commentary on Mt 5:1-12a

This section of the Sermon on the Mount begins the first of five great discourses in St. Matthew’s Gospel. He begins using a formula common in the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”(Job 5:17Proverbs 3:13Sirach 25:8-9) This designation identifies those without material resources, completely dependent upon God. (This distinction is for the devout poor.) The discourse continues, blessing those who mourn, who are meek, who “hunger” for righteousness (to adopt the Lord’s law of love in their hearts), the merciful, the clean of heart (those who are reconciled to God), the peacemakers, the persecuted, and finally those who will be reviled because they profess faith in Christ.

The litany of praises for those to be blessed by the Lord has an overarching theme. It holds up the spiritual strength of complete dependence on God for life, health, and prosperity. St. Matthew captures the strength in that dependence, and God’s promise of salvation through the words of the Savior.

It is noteworthy that the word “blessed” [μακάριοι (makάrios) in Greek and beati in Latin] is translated “happy” in many Old Testament texts.  The idea of happiness or peace as a blessing from God is an important understanding about the intent of this discourse.

CCC: Mt 5:1 581; Mt 5:3-12 1716; Mt 5:3 544, 2546; Mt 5-7 2763; Mt 5-6 764; Mt 5:8 1720, 2518; Mt 5:9 2305, 2330; Mt 5:11-12 520

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) is a remarkable example of a journey of faith coupled with a dedication to her family and to God.  She is a convert from the Anglican faith tradition who discovered the Catholic Church while on a voyage to Rome because of her husband’s illness.  She lodged with a Catholic family while there and her natural interest in things spiritual were fulfilled in Catholic worship and traditions.

Through many trials she persevered, becoming the foundress of the first Catholic school in the United States, and later the foundress of the Sisters of Charity, the first religious order founded in this country.  She did all of this while raising her five children.

Her heroic virtue in the face of tremendous obstacles is an example of the lived Gospel.  Her love of God moved her to reach out to the poor, the orphan, and the children of her time.  She was the embodiment of our Holy Mother’s love for us.

What lesson do we take away from her story?  We find ourselves still in the octave of Christmas, at time of peace and joy throughout the whole Church.  Within this holy season, we are confronted by the example of one who, like the incarnate Christ, showed the love of God to the world through her example of selfless dedication to the least of God’s children while taking care of those of her flesh and blood. 

Are we not called to do the same?  Can we claim our roles as bread-winner or stay at home parent detract us from our duty to service to others?  These are of course rhetorical questions.  We are called to be saints as well.  St. Elizabeth showed us how that might be accomplished.  Today we ask for her prayers; may we find the strength to live the Gospel as she did and, in doing so, forge our bond with the Heavenly Kingdom.


[1] The picture is “Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.“ artist and date were not cited.
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible, with the exception of the psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This republication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, © 2004 p. 30
[4] See NAB footnote on Genesis 12:1-4