Welcome to the ULC Minister's Network

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

Spiritual Reading

  • Thursday 17 September 2020

    Thursday of week 24 in Ordinary Time 
    or Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor 

    Spiritual Reading

    Your Second Reading from the Office of Readings:

    Thursday of week 24 in Ordinary Time

    St Augustine's sermon On Pastors
    Be a model for the faithful

    When the Lord had explained what these bad shepherds seek, he also said what they neglect. The defects of the sheep are widespread. There are a very few healthy, fat sheep – that is, those that are made strong by feeding on the truth, by God’s gift making good use of the pastures – but they are not safe from the bad shepherds. Those shepherds not only do not look after the sick, the weak, the wandering and the lost, but they do as much harm as they can to the strong and sleek among the flock. Those sheep survive – by the mercy of God they survive – but the bad shepherds do what they can to kill them.
    You may ask how they do this. By living badly, by setting a bad example. There was a reason why the servants of God, eminent among shepherds, were told In everything you do make yourself an example to them of working for good, and Be a model for the faithful. Often even a strong sheep, seeing its leader living a wicked life, will turn from contemplation of the laws of the Lord to the behaviour of the man and say to itself, “if my leader lives thus, who am I that I should do things differently?” In that way the shepherd is killing the strong sheep: and if the strong, then what of the rest? Even if their strength did not come from his care – even if they were strong and healthy before he saw them – still he is killing them by his evil life.
    I say this to your loving kindness, I say it again: even if the sheep are living strong in the word of the Lord, even if they follow what their Lord has told them: Do what they say; but what they do, do not do yourselves, whoever lives wickedly in the sight of the people is a murderer in so far as he is able. Let him not flatter himself that his victim is not dead. The victim is not dead but the man is still a murderer. When a man lusts after a woman then even if she remains chaste he is still an adulterer. The Lord’s judgement is clear and true: If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. He has not come to her in his bedroom but in the interior bedroom of his heart he is already in the throes of passion with her.
    And so it is that anyone who lives wickedly in the sight of those over whom he has authority is killing them, even the strong ones, as far as he is able. Whoever imitates him dies and whoever does not imitate him lives, but as far as he himself is concerned he is killing them all. As the Lord says, You are killing the fattest sheep but you do not feed my flock.


    Other choices for today:

    Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor

    A portrait c.1622 in the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.

    St Robert Bellarmine, 'On the Ascent of the Soul to God'
    Turn my heart to your decrees

    O Lord, good and forgiving and abounding in steadfast love, who would not serve you with all his heart, when he has begun at least to taste the sweetness of your fatherly rule? What do you order your servants to do, Lord? ‘Take my yoke upon you,’ you say. What is your yoke? — ‘My yoke is easy,’ you say, ‘and my burden is light.’ Who would not willingly carry a yoke which does not press down but gives strength, and a burden which does not weigh heavily but refreshes? With justification, then, you also say, ‘and you will find rest for your souls’. What is this yoke of yours that does not tire but brings rest? It is that ‘great and first commandment: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart’. For what is easier, better and more agreeable than to love goodness, beauty and love, all of which you are, O Lord my God?
    Do you not offer a reward to those who keep the commandments, which are more desirable than a heap of gold and sweeter than honey from the comb? So in every way you offer a very ample reward, as James the apostle says: ‘The Lord has prepared the crown of life for those who love him.’ What is the crown of life? It is a good greater than all we can think of or desire: Paul quotes these words from Isaiah: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’
    There is much reward in keeping your commandments. That first and great commandment is not only profitable for the man who keeps it or for God who commands it: the other commandments of God also make perfect him who obeys them, improve him, instruct him and make him illustrious; in a word, they make him good and holy. If you understand this, realise that you have been created for the glory of God and for your own eternal salvation; this is your end, this is the object of your soul and the treasure of your heart. You will be blessed if you reach this goal, but miserable if you are cut off from it.
    Therefore consider that to be for your real good which brings you to your goal, and that to be really bad which cuts you off from this goal. Prosperity and adversity, riches and poverty, health and sickness, honour and ignominy, life and death should not be sought after for themselves by the wise man nor are they to be avoided for themselves: if they contribute to the glory of God and your eternal happiness, they are good and to be sought after; if they are obstacles to this, they are evil and to be avoided.


    In other parts of the world and other calendars:

    Saint Albert of Jerusalem, Bishop, Lawgiver of the Carmelites

    From 'The Rule of St Albert'
    Spiritual exhortations

    But because life on earth is a time of trial, and all who seek to live devoutly in Christ suffer persecution, and because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion prowls about seeking someone to devour, every care must be taken to put on the armour of God, that you may stand firm against the cunning devices of the enemy.
    Encircle your loins with the belt of chastity. Defend your breast with holy meditation, for Scripture says: Holy meditation will save you.
    Put on the breastplate of justice so that you may love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole strength, and your neighbours as yourselves.
    In all things take up the shield of faith by which you can extinguish every flaming dart from the evil one, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
    Then set the helmet of salvation on your head, that you place your hope of salvation only in the Saviour, who rescues his people from their sins. Next may you possess the sword of the spirit, which is God’s word, abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts. Just so whatever you do, let it be done in the Lord’s word.
    The Apostle recommends silence, for he specifies that one should work in it. In the same way the Prophet witnesses: Silence fosters righteousness; and again: In silence and hope will lie your strength.
    Be careful to avoid excessive talking, for as Scripture puts it, and experience teaches nothing less, In much talking sin will not be far away, and The one who is careless in speech will come to harm. Also, Many words bring the soul to grief. Again, the Lord says in the Gospel: For every rash word uttered you will have to render an account on the day of judgement.
    So let each one make a balance for his words and a careful rein for his mouth lest he stumble and fall in speech, and the fall be incurable, even mortal. With the Prophet let him be careful of his ways, that his tongue give no offence; and let him carefully and studiously cultivate silence, in which lies the fostering of righteousness.

    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.