Friday, October 16, 2009


“St. Hedwig”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN 


Biographical Information about St. Hedwig [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Hedwig

Readings and Commentary:

Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16

Blessed the husband of a good wife,
twice-lengthened are his days;
A worthy wife brings joy to her husband,
peaceful and full is his life.
A good wife is a generous gift
bestowed upon him who fears the LORD;
Be he rich or poor, his heart is content,
and a smile is ever on his face.

A gracious wife delights her husband,
her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones;
A gift from the LORD is her governed speech,
and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth.
Choicest of blessings is a modest wife,
priceless her chaste soul.
A holy and decent woman adds grace upon grace;
indeed, no price is worthy of her temperate soul.
Like the sun rising in the LORD's heavens,
the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.

Commentary on
Sir 26:1-4, 13-16

The son of Sirach writes beautifully about the virtues of the “good wife”. The virtues of the good wife are extolled; thoughtfulness, humility, grace, temperance, and chastity. They bring joy to her husband and honor to her house. Although not included in this selection, these attributes are contrasted with the sins of the wicked wife in this section of the book.


Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Commentary on
Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Psalm 128 is a song of thanksgiving. It begins here with the typical blessings given to those following and having faith in the Lord. This selection uses the analogy of the family and the blessing it brings to the faithful, using the symbolism of vines and olives, imagery commonly used in sacred scripture.

It also supports the creation of woman and the marriage theme in Genesis 2:18-25. It is the logical extension of the two becoming one flesh and the children flowing from that union.


Mark 3:31-35

Jesus' mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside, they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."

Commentary on
Mk 3:31-35

This passage, while affirming our own adoption as brothers and sisters in Christ, does cause some confusion among those who take scripture at face value without understanding the culture of the time. The first part of this reading from St. Mark’s Gospel is somewhat controversial in that many of the Protestant and Evangelical apologists take the term “and his brothers” to mean his familial or biological brothers. The Church teaches that Mary bore only one child – Jesus. Responding to this scripture, Catholic scripture scholars teach that “…in Semitic usage, the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf Genesis 14:16; Genesis 29:15; Leviticus 10:4.”[3]

Another possible explanation, although it comes from an apocryphal source from the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, is that the Lord’s foster father, St. Joseph, had been previously married (and widowed).  According to “The History of Joseph the Carpenter” from this first marriage,  “[2.]… he begot for himself sons and daughters, four sons, namely, and two daughters. Now these are their names— Judas, Justus, James, and Simon. The names of the two daughters were Assia and Lydia.” These would have been the half-brothers and sisters of the Lord.

Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe, telling those gathered that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

CCC: Mk 3:31-35 500

Saint Hedwig (c.1174 - 1243)

We revere the saints because they show us, in very graphic terms, how we should live the Gospel values we have pledged to follow. There is one category that has but few representatives – the good wife. Women called to the married vocation can look to Mother Mary as the perfect example of what it means to be a perfect mother and person. But often, just as men can look at Christ and say there is the perfect man, we find it hard to grasp perfection and strive to find it. It is a lifelong pursuit (as it is for all Christians).

In St. Hedwig we find the heroic virtue of a wife and mother that demonstrates how the Holy Spirit’s gifts are faithfully applied in a more ordinary setting. St. Hedwig was truly one of those the Lord referred to when he said in the Gospel: “…for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

She was born in Bavaria and married the Duke of Silesia, by whom she had seven children. She lived a devout life, succoring the poor and the sick, for whom she built hostels. On the death of her husband in 1238 she entered the monastery of Trebnitz, where she died in 1243. [4]

In this devout life she followed the Lord’s example and command; achieving the white robe of the saints and enjoying eternal joy at the throne of the one she served in her life on earth. We praise her for her example and ask for her prayers as we try to follow the path she walked.


[1] The Picture is “St. Hedwig” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. 
[3] From the reference note on Mark 6; 3 in the NAB
[4] Taken from Universalis on St. Hedwig's feast day

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