TSD 28: Jesus Heals

Lepers, a Paralytic, and a Kardashian

We’re gonna jump right in this week…

These Seven Days…

…in the Ordinary Form

It is the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; and Luke 17:11-19.

In this reading from the second book of Kings, we see early concern for something like simony when Elisha rejects a gift offered in gratitude for Naaman’s healing from leprosy. In the Haydock commentary we find:

They abstained from every appearance of evil, though they might lawfully have accepted such presents. Eliseus wished to convince Naaman that God's grace was not to be purchased, and to leave a lesson of moderation to future teachers.

As for the Gospel of the ten lepers, we covered that when it appeared for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost in the Extraordinary Form, in TSD 23. Be sure to check out St. Augustine’s mystical interpretation of this story.

Tuesday, October 15, is the Feast of St. Teresa of Ávila, whom I always get mixed up with Catherine of Siena. The first woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church, she was born Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada into a noble Spanish family in 1515. The Catholic Encyclopedia gives this delightful description of her parents: “Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books, and a tender and pious mother.” You could do a lot worse than “lover of serious books” as a defining quality.

Teresa’s life cannot possibly be summarized concisely. She was sickly, as so many great saints are. She is one of the most remarkable mystics in Christian history. She is one of the most remarkable writers in Christian history, with her The Interior Castle a mainstay of home libraries to this day. Her works are even appreciated outside the Church as “an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature.” She reformed the crumbling Carmelite Order, founding the Discalced Carmelites for both men and women. She was acquainted with several other contemporary saints, and was among the most well-known women in Counter-Reformation Europe.

Also like so many saints, especially women, she is a difficult figure to grasp. Her mystical reveries were often just as troubling to her as they were gratifying, with many observers identifying them as demonic. But, with trust in God and obedience toward holy spiritual advisers (including last week’s St. Francis Borgia), she maintained her footing and pressed onward in both the work of holiness and the work of this world.

This is a window in the Church of St. Teresa in Avila, said to be built on the spot where the saint was born. I let our six-year-old daughter, Teresa, select the image.

Friday, October 18, is the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Physician, historian, and artist, Luke was the Renaissance Man among the Evangelists. The Catholic Encyclopedia says flatly that “The style of [Luke’s] Gospel is superior to any N.T. writing except Hebrews.” To him are attributed not only the eponymous Gospel, but the Acts of the Apostles and (dubiously) several icons of Our Lady. Regardless of the authenticity of extant artwork attributed to him, there is no doubt that he was talented with the brush, and the Eastern Churches consider him to be the first icon painter.

Perhaps surprisingly, I can’t find much evidence of traditional celebrations of St. Luke’s Day. A couple theories off the top of my head: He’s squeezed in between Michaelmas and Martinmas, and while his activities after the Resurrection as a companion of St. Paul were prolific, he never became associated with any particular region. As far as an Apostle and Evangelist can be underappreciated, I feel St. Luke may be. So, while his feast falls on a penitential day this year, may I suggest that you do a little something special to celebrate poor Luke this week?

Francisco de Zurbarán 046.jpg

An artist appreciates an artist gazing upon Christ: Saint Luke Painting the Crucifixion by TSD favorite Francisco de Zurbarán, c. 1635-1640. The image of St. Luke is said to be a self-portrait.

…in the Extraordinary Form

It is the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle is 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 and the Gospel is Matthew 9:1-8, the story of Christ healing the paralytic.

On this Gospel, especially the actions of the healed man after his encounter with Jesus, Hilary writes:

In this paralytic the whole Gentile world is offered for healing, he is therefore brought by the ministration of Angels; he is called Son, because he is God’s work; the sins of his soul which the Law could not remit are remitted him; for faith only justifies. Lastly, he shews the power of the resurrection, by taking up his bed, teaching that all sickness shall then be no more found in the body.

The St. Andrew Missal offers a fascinating historical note on this Mass:

This 18th Sunday was originally…the Sunday following Ember Saturday with its ordinations. As these lasted until Sunday morning, this day had no proper Mass. Later on they borrowed for this Sunday the Mass composed in the sixth century for the Dedication of the Church of St. Michael [Michaelmas]…. That is why all the chants relate to the consecration of a church…. The Epistle and Gospel also allude to the newly ordained priests “blessed in Christ” and endowed with the power to pardon sinners.

Christ Healing the Paralytic at Capernaum, a 1780 engraving by Bernhard Rode.

The gradual this week, as promised above, calls us to the house of the Lord:

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. // Fiat pax in virtute tua: et abundantia in turribus tuis.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. // Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers.

Dom Johner has an interesting note on the music for this gradual, which is shared with the Fourth Sunday in Lent (pp. 139-140):

Graduals as a rule, make use of a variety of formulas and are, therefore, essentially embellishing music. Today, however, the number of typical formulas is almost negligible, and consequently we may consider it an original composition.

The desire of the singer is the attainment of peace and prosperity; for peace without prosperity is quiet misery, and prosperity without peace is unenjoyable happiness, as St. Chrysostom says. In the mouth of the Israelites, returning from exile, this psalm was a jubilant greeting to Sion.

Thursday, October 17, is the Feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. (It is the day before in the new calendar.) The Mass for this wonderful saint, who popularized devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, includes this lovely collect:

O Lord Jesus Christ who didst in a wondrous manner reveal to the blessed virgin Margaret the unsearchable riches of Thy heart; grant us through her merits and example, that we may love Thee in all things and above all things, and become worthy to dwell within Thy heart for evermore.

For more on St. Margaret and the history of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, check out TSD 12, where we covered the solemnity she helped to establish.

Image result for margaret mary alacoque body

The Catholic Encyclopedia: “When her tomb was canonically opened in July, 1830, two instantaneous cures took place. Her body rests under the altar in [the Chapel of the Apparitions, Visitation Monastery, in Paray-le-Monial, France], and many striking favours have been obtained by pilgrims attracted thither from all parts of the world.”

Those Seven Days…

One of my favorite tweets in quite some time.

This looks like a lovely liturgy. I’m really taken with the idea (you won’t be surprised) of a new Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Tradition and innovation can and must work together!

There are more options, I guess, but these are the main two.

For example: The grace of the sacraments is real and efficacious! Pray for this family!

But really. I mean, it’s 2019; Donald Trump is president; anything is possible. (Click through: Whether the whole thing is sincere or not, you can’t say her handlers don’t know an awesome aesthetic when they find one.)

For the canonization of John Henry Newman, check out this brief account of the one of the miracles credited to him. He is a saint who will always be favored by intellectuals, but the grace of sanctity is far more holistic.

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