Monthly Archives: August 2021

Fountain of Wisdom and Love

The desire Augustine saw in himself and in the human family brings a restlessness and thirst only satisfied at the fountain of true wisdom and everlasting love – Jesus Christ. 

“‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’

  “The Lord himself, our God Jesus Christ, is the fountain of life; and he calls us to himself so that we may drink from him. Who will drink? Whoever loves; whoever is filled with the word of God; whoever adores enough, whoever desires enough; whoever is on fire with the love of wisdom.

  See the source from which that fountain flows. It comes from the same place that the manna came from in the wilderness – for the same person is both bread and fountain, Christ our Lord and God, for whom we should always hunger. Even if we eat him, the bread, with love, even if we devour him with desire, let us still hunger for him like starving people. So when we drink him, the fountain, let us always drink him with overflowing love, filled with longing and delighting in the gentle taste of his sweetness.

  For the Lord is gentleness and delight. We may eat and drink of him but still we will be hungry and thirst for more; for he is our food and drink that can never be entirely consumed. He can be eaten but there will always be more left. He can be drunk but he can never be drained dry. Our bread is eternal; our fountain lasts for ever, our fountain is sweet. 

So Isaiah says: come to the water all you who are thirsty – the fountain is for the thirsty, not for the surfeited. He calls the hungry and the thirsty to himself, and they can never drink enough: the more they drink, the more they desire to drink.

The word of God on high is the fountain of Wisdom.

  If you are thirsty, drink from the fountain of life; if you are hungry, eat the bread of life. Blessed are they who hunger for that bread and thirst for that fountain; they eat and drink for ever and still they desire to eat and drink. For it is lovely above all things, that which is always eaten and drunk, always hungered and thirsted for. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’”  St.Columbanus

Lord God, renew your Church

  with the Spirit of wisdom and love

  which you gave so fully to Saint Augustine.

Lead us by that same Spirit to seek you,

  the only fountain of true wisdom

  and the source of everlasting love.

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.

Amen.

What Word Is This?

“What word is this?”
Luke 4:31-37 in a couplet
Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The first line of the couplet preserves the original Greek word order in Luke 4:36: “What word (logos) [is] this?”

Jesus then went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

Luke 4:31-37

Feasting on the Word of God

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” We often hear those words of the psalmist at Mass, calling us to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. 

We hear them at communion time at Mass, but they apply, not just to communion time, but to the entire liturgy. We taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the liturgy of the word as well as in the liturgy of the Eucharist. 

The church emphasized the part scripture has in her liturgy at the Second Vatican Council: “sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy” . ( SC 24)

 In the scriptures ” the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as support and energy for the Church, strength of faith for her sons and daughters,  food for the soul, a pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.” (DV 21)

In reforming the Mass the church directed that “the treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.” (SC 51)

Our present Sunday and weekday lectionaries, which we’re following in this blog, answer the church’s wish expressed at the council. They make the treasures of the scriptures more available for the faithful. They’re a banquet.

Yet as we know banquets, meant to be fulfilling, can sometimes be overwhelming and seem too much. We may not be able to take them all in.

Our lectionaries may seem like that: too much to take in. For example, this week in our weekday lectionary, we’re beginning to read from Luke’s Gospel, and we’ll be reading continuously from Luke till the end of November, when Advent begins. We read from Mark 1-12 for the first 9 weeks of our church year. We read from Matthew 5-25 from weeks 10 to 21. In that same period we read numerous selections for the Old Testament and the New Testament. This week we’re reading from Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians and then his letter to the Colossians. In the following weeks we’ll be reading from many of the prophets and letters of the New Testament. A big banquet. 

We might be tempted to yearn for the older lectionary for the Tridentine Mass, which is used in the Extraordinary Celebration of Mass in Latin. It contains  a much smaller sample of scripture readings: about  22 percent of the Gospels, 11 percent of the epistles and less than1 percent of the Old Testament. But that approach abandons the church’s desire to be open to the  treasures of the scripture and a deeper biblical spirituality.

We might also be tempted to abandon the liturgy altogether for another way of spirituality or devotion. But that would mean abandoning Jesus Christ. 

In her Constitution on the Liturgy, the church emphasizes the place of the Word of God in the  mystery of the Eucharist. She believes that “the two parts which, in a certain sense, go to make up the Mass, namely, the liturgy of the word and the eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship.” 

In both the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist we’re to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (SC 56) In the liturgy, Jesus Christ is with us, not just to be adored, but he also is our Teacher and Lord. He speaks to us through the scriptures and comes to us in the Bread.

He’s a patient Teacher and Lord. The lectionaries are meant to be read again and again. So be patient with them.

A Prophet for All Nations

“A Prophet for All Nations”
Luke 4:16-30 in a couplet
Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Related post: The Rejection at Nazareth
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Luke 4:16-30

August 30-September 5: Readings and Feasts

AUGUST 30 Mon Weekday 1 Thes 4:13-18/Lk 4:16-30 

31 Tue Weekday 1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11/Lk 4:31-37 

SEPTEMBER 1 Wed Weekday Col 1:1-8/Lk 4:38-44

DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION 

2 Thu Weekday Col 1:9-14/Lk 5:1-11 

 3 Fri Saint Gregory the Great, Pope  Memorial Col 1:15-20/Lk 5:33-39

4 Sat Weekday Col 1:21-23/Lk 6:1-5 

5 SUN TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Is 35:4-7a/Jas 2:1-5/Mk 7:31-37 

We’re beginning to read from Luke’s Gospel this week as Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth, and we’ll be reading Luke till the end of November, as the season of Advent begins. A good time to take an overall look at the Gospel of Luke, Here’s the Introduction from the New American Bible.

The readings from I Thessalonians end Monday and Tuesday with Paul’s teaching on the last days. Then we read from the Letter to the Colossians.  Good introduction and notes from the American Bible .

September 1 is a day for praying for creation.

We celebrate one of our greatest popes, Gregory the Great, September  3rd.

Food for Thought

“Food for Thought”
Mark 7:1-8, 14-23 “in a snailshell”
Sunday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.’

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” 

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Mark 7:1-8, 14-23

The Parable of the Talents

“The Parable of the Talents”
Matthew 25:14-30 in a couplet
Saturday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

Matthew 25:14-30

Saint Augustine

Augustine baptism
Augustine’s Baptism, Gozzoli

August 28, Feast of St. Augustine

His feast comes the day after we honor his mother Monica. Augustine was changed by encountering the mystery of God. It was not his brilliant mind or human gifts that created the encounter; it was God’s grace, which we all look for.

Yet, look at the scene of his baptism, above. There’s Monica standing behind St. Ambrose. A mother’s prayers had something to do with it too.

Here’s Augustine himself on his conversion: “Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so.” 

And God became his Light.

“O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: ‘I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me’”.

The Light was Christ.

“Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!,

Lo, you were within,

but I outside, seeking there for you,

and upon the shapely things you have made

I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.

You were with me, but I was not with you.

They held me back far from you,

those things which would have no being,

were they not in you.

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;

you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;

you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;

I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;

you touched me, and I burned for your peace.” (Confessions)

Here’s a biography of Augustine by Pope Benedict XVI

Here’s a wealth of material on Augustine from Villanova University

Monica’ Last Days at Ostia

In a beautiful section of his Confessions St. Augustine describes his mother Monica’s last days at Ostia, the seaport of Rome, where they were preparing to sail for their home in Africa. Monica, taken sick, was on her way to another homeland.  

The two of them were “leaning against a window looking out on a garden…inquiring what you are and what the eternal life of the saints would be like, for ‘Eye has not seen nor ear heard no human heart conceived it’”

“For my part, my son, I no longer find pleasure in anything this life holds,” his mother said, “ What I am doing here still, or why I am still here, I do not know, for worldly hope has withered away for me. There was only one thing I desired to live for in this life: to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. And my God has granted this to me more lavishly than I could have hoped, letting me see even you spurning earthly happiness to be his servant. What am I still doing here?”

Shortly after, Monica fell unconscious from the fever. 

She revived and said to Augustine and his brother at her side, “You are to bury your mother here”. 

“It would be better for you to be buried in your own homeland,” his brother said to her.

 “‘What silly talk!’ she replied, ‘Lay this body anywhere, and take no trouble over it. One thing only do I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.’ 

“Having made her meaning clear to us with such words as she could manage, she fell silent, and the pain of the disease grew worse.”

His mother’s death was a graced time when they drank in their thirst from “the fountain of life which is you”, Augustine wrote.