Holy, In Our Own Way

The “saints next door” are holy “each in his or her own way.” Pope Francis says in Gaudete et Exultate. How about canonized saints? If you look at the saints we celebrate the last few weeks in our liturgy, they’re holy, each in their own way too.

St. Romuald, the founder of the Camadolese, remembered on June 19th, found the religious communities of his day hard to live with– they found him hard to live with too. He liked to be alone, but alone to face the mystery of God, not because he didn’t like other people. He was called to be a hermit. To know God on our own, alone, in our inner room, is part of the call we all have. Romuald reminds us of that.

St. Paulinus of Nola (June 22), a gregarious 5th century bishop, is Romuald’s opposite. He started life in politics as a member of a well-heeled Roman family. After his only child died and then his wife, he accepted God’s call to begin a larger family. As bishop of Nola in Italy he promoted the shrine of St. Felix as a pilgrimage center. The more people came, the better. He liked people. Celebrations with ringing bells and processions and statues were his specialty. In fact, if you head to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY, around his feast, you may see Italians from his area in Italy carrying a gigantic tower honoring the saint. He promoted popular religion.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga ( June 21 ) also belonged to a powerful, aristocratic family, who were shocked when the young man announced, after hearing stories of Jesuit missionaries in China, that he was entering the Jesuits. His family did everything to stop him, but the young man wouldn’t listen. He entered the Jesuits. In 1591 a fierce plague broke out in Rome where Aloysius was studying and he took care of the victims, despite his own bad health. He died from the plague, expressing his conviction that God called him to this dangerous ministry. Today he’s celebrated as a patron of those who care for victims of AIDS.

St. Thomas More (June 22) is known to many through Robert Bolt’s “Man for All Seasons” which follows More’s confrontation with Henry VIII that ended with his death in the Tower of London July 6, 1535. Bolt’s title, taken from a contemporary’s description of More, captures his complex, many-faceted personality. He was learned, devoted to his family (promoted education for women) active in his society and his church. More’s holiness was expansive. It belongs to all of life’s seasons.
Interesting to note that More and Bishop John Fisher are honored in the Church of England’s calendar (July 6) as “saints and heroes of the Christian church.”

June 21-27: Readings for the Week

JUNE 21 Mon Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious Memorial Gn 12:1-9/Mt 7:1-5 

22 Tue Weekday [Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop; Saints John Fisher, Bishop, and Thomas More, Martyrs] Gn 13:2, 5-18/Mt 7:6, 12-14 

23 Wed Weekday

Gn 15:1-12, 17-18/Mt 7:15-20 

24 Thu THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST Solemnity

Is 49:1-6/Acts 13:22-26/Lk 1:57-66, 80 

25 Fri Weekday Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22/Mt 8:1-4 

26 Sat Weekday Gn 18:1-15/Mt 8:5-17 

27 SUN THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24/2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15/Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43

We read from the later part of the Book of Genesis this week in our lectionary. The first 10 chapters described the increase and spread of humanity, beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve. Chapter 11-50 offers the story of Israel, beginning with Abraham. One difference between the two: the first chapters describe the nations settling down. In the story of Israel, Abraham is called to set out to a land God will show. 

The Nativity of John the Baptist, June 25th,  is a solemnity, celebrating the birth of John 6 months before the birth of Jesus. 

Saints like Aloysius Gonzaga remind us that young people can be saints too.

Tuesday we remember English martyrs, John Fischer, Thomas More, “Man for All Seasons.”

12 Ordinary Time Sunday

“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Inspired by Mark 4:35-41 (Sunday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time)
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Mark 4:35-41

Related post: The Eye of God in the Heart

11 Ordinary Time Saturday

“Learn from the way the wild flowers grow”
Matthew 6:25-34 in a couplet (Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time)
Related posts: Do Not Be Anxious, Days 1-7 (Luke 12:22-31)
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Matthew 6:25-34

Our Father

Jesus says in today’s gospel : “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them.Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6, 8) 

Gerhard Lohfink in his recent book “The Our Father” notes that ancient Near Eastern prayers  began with a long address to the god approached. An Akkadian prayer, for example, begins: “God of heaven and earth, firstborn of Anu, Dispenser of kingship, Chief Executive of the Assembly of the gods, Father of gods and men, Granter of agriculture, Lord of the air”.

“One senses that the forms of address had to be precise; otherwise the god would not listen. It’s not a simple matter to speak to him without making a mistake. Correct language and competence in praying are required. Above all, one must know the deity’s proper name.

Nothing of the kind in the Our Father! ‘Abba’ that’s the only address. It’s familial.”

The creed and other Christian prayers keep that address as first. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” The Creator is our Father. The creed tells us what we as God’s children have received from our Father and what we are promised. 

“We would not dare claim such a name in prayer, unless God himself had given us permission to pray this. And so, we should remember that when we call God our Father, we must live as children of God, so that whatever pleasure we take in having God for our Father, he may take the same pleasure in us.” (St. Cyprian, Commentary on the Our Father}

11 Ordinary Time Friday

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be”
Inspired by Matthew 6:19-21 (Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time)
Click phonetics for the pronunciation of agape.
Related post: Pirate for a Day
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Matthew 6:19-21

Thy Will Be Done On Earth

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. “This is not that God should do what he wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills,” St. Cyprian says in reflecting on this petition of the Our Father.

Weak as we are, we find it hard to know and to do God’s will, and so Jesus, “ showing the weakness of the humanity which he bore, said Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, and showing his disciples an example, that they should do not their own will but God’s, he went on to say nevertheless, let it not be my will, but yours.”

 Cyprian describes at length how we humans do God’s will: by dealing with others humbly, by holding steadily to our faith, by being just and merciful in what we do, by being moral in our lives.

But God’s will is to be done “on earth,’ we pray. Are only humans involved in doing God’s will, or is the earth itself involved in this petition? 

The psalms call for the earth and all creation to “bless the Lord.” The earth itself is called to do God’s will. It has a place in God’s plan. Our responsibility is to discern what God’s will is for our earthly home and see that it is done. 

Doing God’s will involves more than ourselves and human relationships. It extends to the earth as well.  One of the points Pope Francis makes in Laudato sí.

11 Ordinary Time Wednesday

“And your Father who sees in secret will repay you”
Matthew 6:1-4 in a couplet (Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time)
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Matthew 6:1-4