I wonder what Jerome and Therese chat about in heaven
This week is chock full of feasts that are shared by both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, so for this edition we’ll merge those sections. Let’s get right to it.
These Seven Days…
…in the Ordinary Form
It is the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; and Luke 16:19-31.
This week we’re sticking with Amos and his stark condemnations of the decadence of the Jewish elite. I am particularly interested in 6:5, which is slightly less evocative but perhaps more pregnant in meaning than the other descriptions of profligacy:
Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment.
In Haydock, Calmet writes: “They think they excel [David] in music; but he consecrated his talent to a better purpose.” I would hazard my own piece of exegesis: We are to bring the music of our lives into harmony with Truth and Tradition, not ad lib to our own melody—which invariably becomes indistinguishable from that of the world around us.
In the Gospel, on Lazarus and the rich man, we see the wages of this decadence. The last line delivered by Abraham in Christ’s parable has more than a hint of foreshadowing to it:
If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.
Gustave Doré’s illustration of Lazarus and the rich man. Note the sumptuous party in the background.
…in the Extraordinary Form
It is the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle is Ephesians 3:13-21 and the Gospel is Luke 14:1-11.
We covered the second half of this week’s Gospel back in TSD 22, where it appeared in the Ordinary Form, so let’s focus here on the first half: The challenging of the Pharisees about doing good works on the sabbath, and the subsequent healing of the man with dropsy. We see a boldness in Christ here that would make most of us blush, challenging the Pharisees at their own dinner table. The Venerable Bede writes, referring to Jesus’ assertion that his hosts would hoist a valuable animal out of a pit on the sabbath:
By these words He so refutes His watchers, the Pharisees, as to condemn them also of covetousness, who in the deliverance of animals consult their own desire of wealth. How much more then ought Christ to deliver a man, who is much better than cattle!
Augustine adds a fascinating comparison (dropsy, now known broadly as edema, is an imbalance of fluids that results in swelling):
Or we rightly compare the dropsical man to a covetous rich man. For as the former, the more he increases in unnatural moisture the greater his thirst; so also the other, the more abundant his riches, which he does not employ well, the more ardently he desires them.
…in both forms of the Roman Rite
Monday, September 30, is the Feast of St. Jerome. Jerome is know mainly for two things: being mean, and writing the Latin version of the Bible (the Vulgate) on which all subsequent Catholic versions were based. On this first point, the Catholic Encyclopedia says carefully:
It is in this correspondence that the temperament of St. Jerome is most clearly seen: his waywardness, his love of extremes, his exceeding sensitiveness; how he was in turn exquisitely dainty and bitterly satirical, unsparingly outspoken concerning others and equally frank about himself.
Jerome was the second most prolific of the early Fathers, besides Augustine, and along with Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great he is considered one of the first four Latin doctors of the Church. For this reason, he was often portrayed in art as a cardinal—a role in which he would have served had it existed, and in which he continues, in a sense, to serve through his work and his heavenly intercession. He is almost always depicted at work in his study, alternately in a lavish setting reminiscent of a Renaissance university or in the shabby surroundings of an early monk.
Jerome was born around the year 347 and died in the Holy Land on this day in 420.
An elderly, emaciated, contemplative St. Jerome by Matthias Stom (1650).
Tuesday, October 1 (current calendar), or Thursday, October 3 (old calendar), is the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. What can one say that has not already been said about the most celebrated saint of modern times? (Pius X called her “the greatest saint” of the era, and Wikipedia goes so far as to say that “together with Saint Francis of Assisi, she is one of the most popular saints in the history of the church.”) She lived only 24 years, many of them cloistered, but she changed the Church and, through Her, the world.
Her simple and practical spirituality remains a balm for the busy modern world where we too often find meaning only in grand gestures and heroic acts. She is the saint of the universal call of holiness; St. Josemaría Escrivá owes her royalties. For this reason, she is also a saint of hope—the hope that with God’s grace we can be not just good but grand and heroic right here and right now in whatever circumstances we are presented with.
She suffered for years with tuberculosis before dying on September 30, 1897. Among her last words were, “I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me.” May we also come to that point where all aspects of this life, pleasant and unpleasant, take on the hue of heaven.
There is a hint of mischief in just about every photo of Thérèse. Her girlishness exists in perpetual tension with her wisdom, her seriousness, her piercing sanctity. Holiness does not transform us into something completely new; it makes us the very best version of ourselves.
Wednesday, October 2, is the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. This feast follows hot on the heels of another angelic commemoration on September 29 (falling on a Sunday this year): Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel (EF), or Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (OF). In fact, in the Extraordinary Form the same Gospel selection is used for each (Matthew 18:1-10), a shorter version of which (18:1-5, 10) is used in the OF Guardian Angels Mass. The key line, of course, is:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
Here we see scriptural confirmation both for the Guardian Angels themselves and for the perpetual, face-to-face adoration of all the heavenly angels.
The Extraordinary Form Mass includes a lovely Introit from Psalm 103 (D-R 102), also shared with the nearby St. Michael dedication:
Benedicite Dominum, omnes Angeli ejus: potentes virtute, qui facitis verbum ejus, ad audiendam vocem sermonum ejus. / Benedic, anima mea, Domino: et omnia, quae intra me sunt, nomini sancto ejus. Gloria Patri…
Bless the Lord, all yes His angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of all His orders. / Bless the Lord, O my soul; and let all that is within me praise His holy name. Glory be to the Father…
Friday, October 4, is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Just two weeks ago, in TSD 24, we discussed Francis in the context of the commemoration of his stigmata. Here, though, is the memorial of his entire earthly and heavenly life, which I will now summarize in under 50 words.
Born 1181/1182 in Assisi. Profligate. Radical conversion. Disowned merchant father. Humble brown habit. Deacon, never priest. Attracted disciples. Mendicant order approved 1210. Rapid growth. St. Clare: women’s order. Approached Egyptian sultan. No luck; wasn’t killed. Organized exploding order. Miracles. Stigmata. Died in prayer, 1226. His last words (Psalm 141/142):
Bring my soul out of prison, O Lord, that I may praise Thy name.
We’ve used Francisco de Zurbarán’s work here previously (TSD 10), and will continue to do so when possible. His portraits of the saints are profoundly devotional and yet deeply modern in their starkness and realism. He always brings a distinctive perspective to his subjects. His St. Francis is dated to 1659.
Those Seven Days
I’ll have a piece in the Scottish Catholic Observer on authentic environmentalism soon. But in the meantime…
Yang holds orthodox left-liberal positions on all the key social issues, and yet here we see a ray of humanity. Dare we hope that the Overton Window might be shifting on smut?
Click through to JD’s tweet for more interesting answers, but I thought this was a particularly helpful response:
JD Flynn@jdflynnEvery day people tell me that many Catholic catechetical or evangelical programs don't actually help people know or live the faith. I often agree. But what does? What are the things you see right now that help people want to become holy, or know the faith, or live it?
This is the beginning of a great little thread whose insights I’ll be using in later work:
Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams breaking the rules at Pittsburgh’s St. Anthony Chapel, home to more relics than any other building in the world outside the Vatican:
Hot take. (Get it?) (Get it?) (Get it?)
NCR@NCRonlineAnother way to look at Meatless Mondays is like this: If the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles --- or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. https://t.co/9x5CF4pVtS
As for me…
I was pleased to appear on the Bridge Builder podcast of the Minnesota Catholic Conference this weekend. You can listen to the show, which was based on my recent article for Angelus on grace and political realism, here.
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