20th Sunday after Pentecost
FEAST OF ST. JOHN OF CAPISTRANO
John 20, Verse 19
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for FEAR of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “PEACE be with you.”
The doors were lock they were afraid, very afraid; they had no peace.
From cowards to bold witnesses
How could one explain the transformation in Jesus’ followers? One day they are cowering in fear, hiding themselves from the public, the next they are all boldly proclaiming that Jesus is alive! What happened?
At his arrest, all of his disciples fled away and were scared for their lives: Mark 14:50 “Then everyone deserted him and fled.” Matt 26:56 “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” The day of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were still hiding for fear of the Jews. Jesus’ disciples were clearly cowards and were trying to preserve their lives. However, look what happens a few weeks later: Acts 4:31, 33 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly…With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” They all of a sudden were not scared for their lives any longer and risked imprisonment, persecution and certain death for testifying about the risen Saviour.
Eleven of the twelve apostles died a martyr’s death! Look at the way the following followers of Jesus died:
Andrew was crucified.
Bartholomew was crucified.
James, brother of Jesus was stoned.
James, son of Alphaeus was crucified.
James, son of Zebedee was killed by the sword.
John died naturally.
Matthew was crucified.
Peter was crucified upside down.
Philip was crucified.
Simon was crucified.
Thaddeus was killed by arrows.
Thomas died of a spear thrust.
Who in their right mind would die for a lie? Maybe if that person was a lunatic. But how can one explain a group of people being willing to die for a lie? This is just impossible. What compelled these disciples to preach the message of a risen Saviour is the fact that they had witnessed with their own eyes that Jesus had been risen indeed! Their changed lives provide a solid testimony that Jesus is alive! BE AT PEACE
Read Saint John Paul II’s encyclical letter- “Rich in Mercy”.
How do you see the mysteries of the Lord’s Sacred Passion manifest in the Church today?
As Christ’s Mystical Body and His Bride, the Church must pass through the mysteries of her Divine Spouse. The current crisis is without any doubt the moment of the deepest suffering for the Church, of her most intense participation in the Sacred Passion of Christ. The greatest Passion of the Church is not persecution by her enemies from outside, but persecution by her enemies from within ruthless people without faith who have managed to reach high and influential ecclesiastical offices.
When Christ suffered in Gethsemane, He didn’t receive support from His Apostles, since even the three whom He took with Him into the garden slept while He prayed and suffered the deepest spiritual anguish, His agony. When Christ was arrested and interrogated, the Apostle Peter, whom He constituted the visible rock of His Church, in a cowardly way thrice denied Him. When Christ was crucified, there remained only one faithful Apostle at His side, St. John, together with Our Lady and the other holy women.
From the circumstances of Christ’s Passion, we can better understand the spiritual and even mystical sense of the suffering of Christ’s Bride, the Church. The current crisis within the Church represents the deepest form of suffering, since the Church is now persecuted, scourged, stripped, and derided not by her enemies but to a large extent by her Shepherds, by many of those who are successors of the Apostles, by many traitors in the clerical ranks who are the new Judases.
Here I cannot fail to quote the following words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which he wrote in 1948 and which are strikingly relevant and significant for the current situation: “[Satan] will set up a Counter-church, which will be the ape of the Church. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.... The False Prophet will have a religion without a cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit Church. Christ’s Church will be one, and the False Prophet will create the other. The false Church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions, forming some type of global association, a world parliament of Churches. It will be emptied of all divine content; it will be the mystical body of the Antichrist. The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the False Prophet. Satan will recruit him from our bishops.”
This is a fearsome thought, that Satan will corrupt the hierarchy of the Church in order to establish a false Church. How should the faithful respond?
When Christ suffered in Gethsemane, He was strengthened by an angel. This is a deep mystery: God in His human nature wanted to be consoled and strengthened by a creature. In this enormous spiritual crisis, we are witnessing inside the Church, Christ is being consoled and strengthened by the souls who remain faithful to the purity of the Catholic faith, by souls who live a chaste Christian life, by souls who are committed to a life of intense prayer, by souls who do not run away from the suffering Christ, from the suffering Mother Church. The consolation and strength which Christ received from the angel in Gethsemane already contained the acts of expiation and reparation of all the faithful souls throughout the history of the Church.
So many souls are suffering in our day, especially over the past fifty years, because of the tremendous crisis of the Church. The most precious are hidden sufferings of the little ones, of the persons who were put out to the periphery of Church by the liberal, worldly, and unbelieving ecclesiastical establishment. Their sufferings are precious, since they are consoling and strengthening Christ who is mystically suffering in our current crisis within the Church. We also know the famous expression of Blaise Pascal in his Pensées: “Jesus will be in agony even to the end of the world. We must not sleep during that time” (n. 533). The current crisis of the Church, which is a mystical suffering of Christ in and for His Church, should call us to avoid spiritual sleep and be watchful, so that we may not be deceived by the spirit of the world which has so penetrated the Church. When the Church was passing through the great tempest of spiritual crisis in the sixteenth century—a crisis caused mainly by the infidelity, spiritual laziness, and scandalous lifestyle of the clergy—St. Peter Canisius, the second apostle of Germany, formulated this shocking phrase: “Peter sleeps, but Judas is awake.”
We can fully apply this statement to the current crisis in the Church. The highest ecclesiastical authorities were to a great extent sleeping during the past five decades, by not preventing the promotion of unworthy persons to influential ecclesiastic positions. Unbelieving and oftentimes morally corrupt bishops and cardinals were the new Judases, who were very much awake and ready to betray Christ in various ways. Memorable are the words of St. Vincent de Paul, who said that priests who live like the vast majority are the greatest enemies of the Church, and that the depravity of the clerical state is the principal cause of the ruin of the Church.
These words are fully applicable to the current situation of the crisis within the Church. Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his recent book Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse [The Day is Now Far Spent], speaks about the shattering reality and mystery of Judas in the ranks of the clergy. The first chapter of his book is entitled, “Alas, Judas Iscariot,” where we read the following words: “The mystery of betrayal oozes from the walls of the Church.... We experience the mystery of iniquity, the mystery of betrayal, the mystery of Judas.... The evil of an efficacious activism has infiltrated everywhere.... We seek to imitate the organization of large companies. We forget that only prayer is the blood that can irrigate the heart of the Church.... The one who does not pray anymore has already betrayed. Already he is ready for all the compromises with the world. He is walking on the path of Judas.”
However, even in midst of so many clerical Judases inside the Church today, we have to maintain always a supernatural vision of the victory of Christ, who will triumph through the suffering of His Bride, who will triumph through the suffering of the pure and little ones in all ranks of the members of the Church: children, youth, families, religious, priests, bishops, and cardinals. When they remain faithful to Christ, when they keep unblemished the Catholic faith, when they live in chastity and humility, they are the pure and little ones in the Church.
The following words of St. Paul, which aptly apply to individual souls, apply in much the same way to the Church, and to the Church of our days in particular: “If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17). St. Alexander of Alexandria, the immediate predecessor of St. Athanasius, left us the following precious statement on the invincibility of the Church: “The only one catholic and apostolic Church will remain always indestructible, even if the entire world wages war against her. Because her Lord strengthened her, saying: ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world’ (Jn 16:33).”
On the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square are inscribed the words Christus vincit, and the tip of that obelisk contains a relic of the true Cross. The Roman Church, the Apostolic See of St. Peter, is crowned, so to speak, with these luminous words Christus vincit, and with the power of the Holy Cross of Christ. Even if during the present crisis and spiritual obfuscation one might have the impression that the enemies of Christ and His Cross have to a certain extent occupied the Holy See, Christ will defeat them. Christus vincit!
ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY
My esteemed Brothers in the
and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
7. The duty to keep Sunday holy, especially by sharing in the Eucharist and by relaxing in a spirit of Christian joy and fraternity, is easily understood if we consider the many different aspects of this day upon which the present Letter will focus our attention.
Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life. From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have not ceased to repeat: "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!". In the same way, today I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us "his day" as an ever-new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.
20th Sunday after Pentecost
The final manifestation of Christ...the Church focuses on making our hearts ready through faith as we "redeem the times".
THE Introit of the Mass is a humble prayer by which we confess that we are punished for our disobedience. “All that Thou hast done to us, O Lord, Thou hast done in true judgment, because we have sinned against Thee, and we have not obeyed Thy commandments; but give glory to Thy name, and deal with us according to the multitude of Thy mercy (Dan. iii.). “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”
Be appeased, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and grant to Thy faithful pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their offences, and serve Thee with secure mind.
EPISTLE. Eph. v. 15-21.
See, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore become not unwise but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury, but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: giving thanks always for all things in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father: being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.
GOSPEL. John vi. 46-53
At that time there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was - come from Judea into Galilee, went to Him, and prayed Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son dies. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.
Consolation in Sickness
To console ourselves in sickness, let us bethink ourselves that God has sent us sickness for the good of our souls; that we may thereby attain a knowledge of our sins, and make satisfaction for them; or, if we suffer innocently, we may exercise ourselves in patience, charity, humility, and such like virtues, and so increase our merits. When ill let us employ a competent physician and use the remedies he may prescribe. But before all else, let us betake ourselves to God, give ourselves up unreservedly to His will, pray Him to enlighten the physician, and bless the means employed for our recovery, and subdue our inclinations if the prescription of the physician does violence to our former habits. For how otherwise should medicine have its proper effect?
O Lord, here burn, here wound, only spare me in eternity!
ON THE CARE OF THE SICK
All who have charge of the sick should before all think of the soul, and to that end call upon Jesus to come in the Blessed Sacrament, before the sick person is past the point of receiving Him with devotion. Therefore, parents, children, relatives, and friends, if they truly love the sick, should seek to induce him to receive the Blessed Sacrament in time. At the beginning, and during the progress of the sickness, we should endeavor to encourage the patient to resignation and childlike confidence in God; should place before him the Savior, suffering and glorified, as a pattern and consolation, should pray with him, to strengthen him against desponding thoughts and the temptations of the devil; should sign him with the sign of the cross, sprinkle him with holy water, and, before all, pray for a happy death. But in caring for the soul the body is not to be neglected. We must call in time a skillful physician, give the sick person his medicines at the appointed times, keep everything clean, observe particularly the prescribed limit as to eating and drinking, and not permit the patient to have his own will, for he might often desire what would be hurtful to him. In general, we should do what, in like case, we would wish to have done for ourselves, for there is no greater work of charity than to attend a sick person, and particularly to assist him to a happy death.
St. John of Capistrano
St. John was born in 1386 at Capistrano in the Italian Province of the Abruzzi. His father was a German knight and died when he was still young. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, St. John tried to broker a peace. Unfortunately, his opponents ignored the truce and St. John became a prisoner of war. On the death of his wife he entered the order of Friars Minor, was ordained and began to lead a very penitential life. John became a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena and a noted preacher.
· The world at the time was in need of strong men to work for salvation of souls.
· Thirty percent of the population was killed by the Black Plague, the Church was split in schism and there were several men claiming to be pope.
· As an Itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, St. John preached to tens of thousands and established communities of Franciscan renewal.
· He reportedly healed the sick by making the Sign of the Cross over them. He also wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.
· He was successful in reconciling heretics.
After the fall of Constantinople, he preached a crusade against the Muslim Turks. At age 70 he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Moslems.
Things to Do
· St. John struggled with finding his vocation. Younger people can pray to St. John for help in discerning God's will for their lives.
· Learn more about the times that St. John Capistrano lived, such as the Crusades, the Black Plague, anti-popes.
· St. John is the patron of jurists. We can turn to him to help discern major decisions. We can also follow his example of strict self-discipline in order to think more clearly.
· In 1776 in Southern California, Father Junipera Serra founded the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, named for St. John, for mission work to the Indians. The mission is a historical site and has both a Catholic Basilica and the original smaller chapel that are still used for Catholic liturgy. See the Wikipedia page. There is also a tradition of the swallows returning to San Juan every March 19. Find out more about this annual event.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
CHAPTER ONE THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Article 6 MORAL CONSCIENCE
IV. Erroneous Judgment
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."
The more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by objective standards of moral conduct.
· Today is national Nut Day. Walnuts are considered one of the healthiest nuts. Walnuts contain the most omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain antioxidants that promote immune system health.
· Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
Schneider, Bishop Athanasius. Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896