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

Spiritual Reading

  • Monday 20 July 2020

    Monday of week 16 in Ordinary Time 
    or Saint Apollinaris, Bishop, Martyr 

    Spiritual Reading

    Your Second Reading from the Office of Readings:

    Monday of week 16 in Ordinary Time

    From St Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Magnesians
    United in one prayer and one hope, in joy and holiness

    Since I have met the persons I have just mentioned and seeing and embracing them I have seen and embraced your whole congregation, I exhort you — be zealous to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and the presbyters in the place of the Council of the Apostles, and the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ, who was from eternity with the Father and was made manifest at the end of time. Be all in conformity with God, and respect one another, and let no man judge his neighbour according to the flesh, but in everything love one another in Jesus Christ. Let there be nothing in you which can divide you, but be united with the bishop and with those who preside over you as an example and lesson of immortality.
    Just as the Lord was united to the Father and did nothing without him, neither by himself nor through the Apostles, so you also must do nothing without the bishop and the presbyters. Do not attempt to make anything appear right for you by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope in love, in the joy which is without fault, the joy that is Jesus Christ, than whom there is nothing better. Hasten all to come together as to one temple of God, as to one altar, to one Jesus Christ, who came from the one Father, and is with one Father, and returned to one Father.
    Do not let yourselves be seduced by foreign teachings or by old and worthless fables. If we continue to live according to Jewish law then we are simply showing that we have not received grace. Look at their holy prophets: their lives were filled with Jesus Christ and inspired by his grace to teach doubters that there is one God, and for this they were persecuted. That one God manifested himself through Jesus Christ his son, who is his Word proceeding from silence and in all respects was well-pleasing to the One who sent him.
    You see how the followers of the ancient customs have come to a new hope. They no longer rule their lives by the Sabbath but by the Lord’s Day, which is our day also, the day on which also our life sprang up through him and his death. Though some deny it, it is by this mystery that we received faith, and for this reason also we suffer, that we may be found to be true disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher. If all this is true, how can we possibly not give him a place in our lives, since even the prophets were his disciples in the Spirit and looked forward to him as their teacher? They waited for him in righteousness, and when he came he raised them from the dead.


    Other choices for today:

    Saint Apollinaris, Bishop, Martyr

    From the sermons of St Peter Chrysologus
    The martyr reigns and lives

    Blessed Apollinaris, the first bishop, alone honoured the church in Ravenna with the glory of martyrdom suffered here. Following the mandate of his God, he lost his life in order to find it again for all eternity. Blessed is he who so finished the race, kept the faith, that he was truly found to occupy the first place among believers. May no one think that his title Confessor is less than that of Martyr: by God’s will he returned the battle often each day. St Paul says “I die each day”. To die only once is very little for those who can gloriously conquer the enemy more often for their king. It is not death so much as faith and dedication that make one a martyr; and just as it is a mark of virtue to fall in battle, in conflict, for the love of the king, so it is a mark of perfect virtue to engage in combat for a long time and to bring it to its conclusion. Therefore, the enemy did not make him a martyr, since he did not inflict death, but he proved him to be a martyr, because he did not remove his faith; the crafty enemy hurled the weapons that he could, and he aimed at him everything he had in his arsenal; nevertheless, he was unable to budge this bravest of leaders, nor could he tarnish his constancy. It is the highest honour, brothers, to despise this present life for the Lord’s sake, if that is necessary, but it is also glorious even while living to scorn and trample underfoot the world and its ruler.
    And what else, brothers? She has seen to it, Holy Mother Church has seen to it, that she would in no way be separated from her bishop. Behold, he lives as a good shepherd in the midst of his flock, and he who has gone before us in body is never separated from us in spirit. He has gone before us, I tell you, in his external appearance; nevertheless his body rests among us. The devil is vanquished, the persecutor has given up; but he who wanted to die for his King, lives and reigns.


    In other parts of the world and other calendars:

    Saint Elijah, Prophet, Father of the Carmelites

    From the work entitled 'Institution of the First Monks'
    The example of Elijah

    “He did according to the word of the Lord.” Namely, he withdrew into solitude from the land, the family and the house of his father, God then providing better for him as he was snatched from death and drawn to the perfection of the monastic life.
    The people of Israel, lately misled by their king, Ahab, adored Baal as the god who sent rain and fertility and all other temporal goods. The people did not think that all these things came from the true God of Israel but rather from Baal, as the Lord complained through his prophet saying: “And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold which they used for Baal.” Because of this, and wishing to show King Ahab and the people of Israel that he was the true God whom he worshipped and Baal was the false god whom the king, at the instigation of the queen, lately introduced to be adored by the people, Elijah spoke the word of the Lord to them that as long as they called upon Baal, rain could not be given them, nor in those years would “rain or dew fall upon the earth” until Elijah himself besought the God of Israel for it. And for lack of rain, a terrible drought followed in the kingdom of Samaria; for this reason the king sought to kill him.
    But Elijah, before he was sought by the king, “did according to the word of the Lord.” So as not to be found by the king, he withdrew as God indicated into solitude “from the land, the family and the house of his father,” leaving worldly riches not only mentally but actually so as not to be hindered by domestic cares, powers or earthly possessions from pursuing the perfection of the monastic life, to which God called him.
    Elijah said: “The Lord God of Israel lives, in whose sight I stand.” He deserved by right to stand before the loftiness of the divine majesty because he had set the path of his soul to such great perfection that none born of women was ever of greater fullness of holiness. For, although the Saviour said: “Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist,” Elijah is equal to John, as the angel Gabriel evidently testified when, speaking to Zachary, he asserted that John would go before Christ “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”
    Elijah’s heart, while it grew warm in the solitude from ardent love and the fire of divine love was enkindled during his meditations, frequently tasted the unspeakable glory of God and dwelt (that is, rested) in the torrent of divine love, of which God gives to drink to those who love him, as the prophet says: “You give them drink from the river of your delights.” But although Elijah was then completely absorbed in remaining peacefully in the assiduous contemplation of such ineffable delights, he could not, however, remain long with them, oppressed as he was with a corruptible body. Returned to himself, he would sometimes rejoice silently in his heart at the recollection of the sweetness he had tasted and at other times be extremely sad with the desire and hunger of tasting the sweetness of such refreshing delights.
    “And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening.” With this food Elijah replenished his exhausted body in the desert but only lest he die; nor had he a doubt that God would provide him with bread and meat to be brought by the ravens. Before he went to the torrent of Cherith, God told him, “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Therefore, while he was in Cherith, Elijah trusted in God and left the problem of his food in God’s hand “for He cared about him.” All the things necessary for that life God added to him because he sought “first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.”
    Indeed, mindful of what the prophets said and that because of the blackness of his sins and the weakness of his flesh he was removed from that secret participation of God, “he poured out his soul” because by devout prayer and humble confession” he drank from the brook,” that is, of the water of the brook, withdrawing his flesh from wine that his mind might guide him to wisdom, of which it is written: “The fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream.” Thus again Elijah was snatched in spirit “to the wonderful tent, to the house of God.” From God’s abundance he was filled and from the torrent of his love did he drink.

    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.