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Arch Bishop Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

Spiritual Reading

  • Saturday 27 June 2020

    Saturday of week 12 in Ordinary Time 
    or Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor 

    Spiritual Reading

    Your Second Reading from the Office of Readings:

    Saturday of week 12 in Ordinary Time

    A homily on the Beatitudes by St Gregory of Nyssa
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

    Bodily health is a good thing, but what is truly blessed is not only to know how to keep one’s health but actually to be healthy. If someone praises health but then goes and eats food that makes him ill, what is the use to him, in his illness, of all his praise of health?
    We need to look at the text we are considering in just the same way. It does not say that it is blessed to know something about the Lord God, but that it is blessed to have God within oneself. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
    I do not think that this is simply intended to promise a direct vision of God if one purifies one’s soul. On the other hand, perhaps the magnificence of this saying is hinting at the same thing that is said more clearly to another audience: The kingdom of God is within you. That is, we are to understand that when we have purged our souls of every illusion and every disordered affection, we will see our own beauty as an image of the divine nature.
    And it seems to me that the Word of God, in these few words, was saying something like this: In you there is a certain desire to contemplate what is truly good. But when you hear that God’s majesty is exalted high above the heavens, that his glory is beyond comprehension, that his beauty is beyond description, that his very nature can neither be perceived nor be understood, do not fall into despair or think you can never have the sight that you desire.
    So if, by love and right living, you wash off the filth that has become stuck to your heart, the divine beauty will shine forth in you. Think of iron, which at one moment is dark and tarnished and the next, once the rust has been scraped off, shines and glistens brightly in the sun. It is the same with the inner core of man, which the Lord calls the heart. It has been in damp and foul places and is covered in patches of rust; but once the rust has been scraped off, it will recover itself and once more resemble its archetype. And so it will be good, since what resembles the good must be good itself.
    Therefore, whoever looks at himself sees in himself what he desires. And whoever is pure in heart is blessed because, seeing his own purity, he sees the archetype reflected in the image. If you see the sun in a mirror then you are not looking directly at the sky, but still you are seeing the sun just as much as someone who looks directly at it. In the same way, the Lord is saying, although you do not have the strength to withstand the direct sight of the great and inaccessible light of God, if you look within yourselves once you have returned to the grace of the image that was placed in you from the beginning, you will find in yourselves all that you seek.
    For to be God is to be pure, to be free from weakness and passion, to be separated from all evil. If these things are all true of you then God is within you. If your thought is kept pure from evil habits, free from passion and weakness, separated from all stain, you are blessed because your vision is sharp and clear. You are able to see what is invisible to those who have not been purified. The eyes of your soul have been cleansed of material filth and through the purity of your heart you have a clear sight of the vision of blessedness. What is that vision? It is purity, sanctity, simplicity, and other reflections of the brightness of the Divine nature. It is the sight of God.


    Other choices for today:

    Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor

    From a letter by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, bishop
    Defender of the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary

    That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord’s disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.
    In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the holy Virgin as “Mother of God.” I cannot resist quoting his own words: “As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Saviour; namely, that he is and has always been God, since he is the Word, Radiance and Wisdom of the Father; and that for our sake in these latter days he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man.”
    Again further on he says: “There have been many holy men, free from all sin. Jeremiah was sanctified in his mother’s womb, and John while still in the womb leaped for joy at the voice of Mary, the Mother of God.” Athanasius is a man we can trust, one who deserves our complete confidence, for he taught nothing contrary to the sacred books.
    The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, he was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendants of Abraham, fashioning a body for himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.
    It is held, therefore, that there are in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul’s declaration: When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.


    In other parts of the world and other calendars:

    Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

    The Glories of Mary by St Alphonsus Mary de' Liguori
    To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve

    Truly unfortunate are we, poor children of Eve. Guilty before God of her fault, and condemned to the same penalty, we have to wander about in this valley of tears as exiles from our country, and to weep over our many afflictions of body and soul. But blessed is he who, in the midst of these sorrows, often turns to the comfortress of the world, to the refuge of the unfortunate, to the great Mother of God, and devoutly calls upon her and invokes her!
    The holy Church carefully teaches us, “her children”, with what attention and confidence we should unceasingly have recourse to this loving protectress, and for this purpose commands a worship peculiar to Mary. This is what Mary desires. She wishes us always to seek her and invoke her aid, not as if she were begging of us these honours and marks of veneration (for they are in no way proportioned to her merit) but she desires them that, by such means, our confidence and devotion may be increased, and that, so, she may be able to give us greater succour and comfort. She, in the exercise of her mercy, knows not how to act differently from God: as he flies at once to the assistance of those who beg his aid, faithful to his promise, Ask, and you shall receive, so Mary, whenever she is invoked, is at once ready to assist him who prays to her. Nor should the multitude of our sins diminish our confidence that Mary will grant our petitions when we cast ourselves at her feet. She is the mother of mercy: but mercy would not be needed did none exist who require it. On this subject Richard of St Lawrence remarks that “as a good mother does not shrink from applying a remedy to her child infected with ulcers, however nauseous and revolting they may be, so also is our good mother unable to abandon us when we have recourse to her, that she may heal the wounds caused by our sins, however loathsome they may have rendered us”.
    This good mother’s compassion is so great, and the love she bears us is such that she does not even wait for our prayers in order to assist us, but, as St Anselm says, she is beforehand with those who desire her protection. Her love for us is so tender, that in our wants she anticipates our prayers, and her mercy is more prompt to help us than we are to ask her aid. “And this arises,” adds Richard of St Victor, “from the fact that the heart of Mary is so filled with compassion for poor sinners, that she no sooner sees our miseries than she pours her tender mercies upon us. Nor is it possible for this benign queen to behold the want of any soul without immediately assisting it.”
    Should there be anyone who doubts as to whether Mary will aid him if he has recourse to her, Innocent III thus reproves him: “Who is there that ever, when in the night of sin, had recourse to this sweet Lady without being relieved? Such a case certainly never did and never will occur.”
    Let all, then, say with full confidence, in the words of that beautiful prayer addressed to the Mother of mercy, and commonly attributed to St Bernard: “Remember, O most loving virgin Mary, that it is a thing unheard of in any age that anyone had recourse to your protection and was left unaided.”

    Copyright © 1996-2020 Universalis Publishing Limited: see www.universalis.com. Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Text of the Psalms: Copyright © 1963, The Grail (England). Used with permission of A.P. Watt Ltd. All rights reserved.