Wednesday, March 3, 2010


“Saint Casimir and Jan Długosz”
by Leon Wyczółkowski, 1873 


Biographical Information about St. Casimir [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Casimir

Readings and Commentary:

Philippians 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that i have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Commentary on
Phil 3:8-14

Paul begins this selection with his own profession: all he has given up for the Lord counts for nothing as he holds Christ’s Lordship as the only thing of worth. He goes on to say that it is only through his faith in Christ that he receives salvation, that his former devotion to the Law of Moses did not accomplish salvation (as the Jews believe).

In the second section, Paul again uses himself as example, telling the Philippians that (even) he has not achieved the end goal of “perfect maturity” (a final state of grace), rather he still pursues that goal.

This discourse likely addresses some members of the community who feel they have achieved a high state of grace and have lost their humility. By his example, Paul, who in his status as founder would be considered to have been further along this course, demonstrates the humble attitude that should be present.

CCC: Phil 3:5-8 1852; 3:10 2809; 3:14 815, 1827, 1844
Psalm 15:2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

R. (l) The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 15:2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Psalm 15 is a didactic song instructing the faithful to follow God’s precepts and explaining that those who act in accord with the Law will receive God’s support and grace.

This selection records the response of the Temple representative when asked what virtues are appropriate in the eyes of God. The response lauds the person who follows the “Law,” specifically the Hebrew laws that warn against slander or false accusations. In the second strophe it honors the person who does no violence against another. And finally, in the last strophe, we are told that the person who does not charge interest on a loan (usury) is also uplifted.

CCC: Ps 15:3-7 579
John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain In my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father In my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."

Commentary on
Jn 15:9-17

The discourse on the union of Jesus with his disciples continues. His words become a monologue and go beyond the immediate crisis of Christ’s departure. In this passage Jesus focuses on the chain of love from the Father, through the Son, to his adopted sons and daughters.

There is much made of the use of the difference in the Greek words for"love" used in this discourse. When Jesus says: "No one has greater love than this…" the word agapao (intimate, selfless love) is used, while when he says: "You are my friends…" the word phileo (casual "friendly" (brotherly) type of love) is used. St. John uses the two words synonymously so the message is clear, reiterated at the end of the passage: "Love one another."

St. John also distinguishes the disciples' new relationship with God saying, “I no longer call you slaves…I have called you friends.” Jesus designates the disciples “friends of God.” This designation is supported and defined in other places in sacred scripture. It separates the disciples from Moses, Joshua, and David who carried the designation “Servants of the Lord” (see Deuteronomy 34:5Joshua 24:29, and Psalm 89:21). Calling them “friends” of God establishes the same relationship as that enjoyed by Abraham (see James 2:23): “Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called 'the friend of God.'"[4] The clear reference was that they, like Abraham, would be patriarchs of the New Covenant.

CCC: Jn 15:9-10 1824; 15:9 1823; 15:12 459, 1823, 1970, 2074; 15:13 363, 609, 614; 15:15 1972, 2347; 15:16-17 2745; 15:16 434, 737, 2615, 2815

St Casimir (1458 - 1484)

He was the second son of King Casimir IV of Poland. He assiduously cultivated the Christian virtues, especially chastity and generosity to the poor. Zealous in faith, he had a particular devotion to the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary. For several years, while his father was away in Lithuania (the Kings of Poland at this time were also Grand Dukes of Lithuania), he ruled Poland with great prudence and justice. He died of tuberculosis on 4 March 1484.”

What does the example of St. Casimir tell us about the Great Commandment proclaimed on his feast day? St. Casimir was born to a life of abundance and opulence. He was given all that the high aristocracy of his day could offer; yet he saw past the distractions of wealth and power. He saw instead the love of God and how that love must transform the world; each Christian was to do their part. Because he was in a position to do so, the young prince promoted and defended the faith. His noted prudence and justice was founded on Christ’s teaching – most notably the great law of love.

How difficult it is for someone so immersed in the politics of power to rise above those temptations to excess and lead a life of gentle piety. His example then is this; if he, who was given a princedom to rule with absolute authority could instead find the humility to follow Christ’s servant model, how much more should we who have no such distractions, follow that path? We are called by the same Gospel that called St. Casimir. Our prayer on his day is to be given the strength to live the Gospel as he did.


[1] The picture is “Saint Casimir and Jan Długosz” by Leon Wyczółkowski, 1873 
[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] Taken from the notes on St. Casimir at Universalis

No comments: