Thursday, September 9, 2010


Prayer to Saint Peter Claver

Dear Saint of our modern times,
you were permeated with compassion for the oppressed,
for human beings sold as slaves and treated as expendable beasts.

While alleviating their natural ills, you also took away their spiritual ills,
and taught them the surpassing knowledge of Christ.

Inspire many of our contemporaries to become self-sacrificing missionaries like you.



Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest

Reading 1
1 Cor 8:1b-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.

So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols:
we know that there is no idol in the world,
and that there is no God but one.
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth
(there are, to be sure, many "gods" and many "lords"),
yet for us there is

one God, the Father,
from whom all things are and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things are and through whom we exist.

But not all have this knowledge.
There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now
that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols,
their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.

Thus, through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin,
I will never eat meat again,
so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 23-24

R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.

R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.

R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked,
and lead me in the way of old.

R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Lk 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:

"To you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."


September 9

St. Peter Claver (1581-1654)

A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena (now in Colombia), a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615.

By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although the practice of slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled "supreme villainy" by Pius IX, it continued to flourish.

Peter Claver's predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work, declaring himself "the slave of the Negroes forever."

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God's saving love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.

After four years of sickness which forced the saint to remain inactive and largely neglected, he died on September 8, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the black outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp.

He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.


O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.*

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, for he is our God.


The dusky veil of night hath laid
The varied hues of earth in shade;
Before thee, righteous Judge of all,
We contrite in confession fall.
Take far away our load of sin,
Our soiled minds make clean within:
Thy sovereign grace, O Christ, impart,
From all offence to guard our heart.
For lo! our mind is dull and cold,
envenomed by sin’s baneful hold:
Fain would it now the darkness flee
And seek, Redeemer, unto thee.
Far from it drive the shades of night,
Its inmost darkness put to flight;
Till in the daylight of the Blest
It joys to find itself at rest.
Almighty Father, hear our cry
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord most high,
Who with the Holy Ghost and thee
Doth live and reign eternally.

A lament at the ruin of the house of David
Psalm 88 (89)

Look, Lord, see how we are mocked.

But you have spurned and rejected him;
you are enraged against your anointed.
You have repudiated the covenant of your servant,
you have trampled his crown in the dust.
You have demolished his walls
and laid his fortifications in ruins.
Anyone who passes can despoil him;
he is a mockery among his neighbours.
You have strengthened the arm of those who oppress him,
you have gladdened the hearts of his enemies.
You have turned back the sharp edge of his sword;
you have deprived him of your help in battle.
You have put an end to his splendour,
and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him from head to foot in shame.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Look, Lord, see how we are mocked.
Psalm 88 (89)

I am the root and lineage of David, I am the shining morning star.

How long, O Lord, will you hide yourself? For ever?
Will your anger always burn like fire?
Remember how short is my time.
Was it truly so pointless, your creation of man?
Who is the man who can live and not die,
who can save his life from the grasp of the underworld?
Where are the kindnesses you showed us of old?
Where is the truth of your oath to David?
Remember, Lord, how your servants are taunted,
the taunts I bear in my bosom, the taunts of the nations –
the insults of your enemies, Lord,
the insults that follow the steps of your anointed!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

I am the root and lineage of David, I am the shining morning star.
Psalm 89 (90)

Let the Lord's glory shine upon us

Our years fade away like grass, but you, Lord, are eternal.
Lord, you have been our refuge
from generation to generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before earth and heaven were conceived,
from all time to all time, you are God.
You turn men into dust,
you say to them “go back, children of men.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday, that has passed;
like a short watch in the night.
When you take them away, they will be nothing but a dream;
like the grass that sprouts in the morning:
in the morning it grows and flowers,
in the evening it withers and dries.
For we are made weak by your anger,
thrown into confusion by your wrath.
You have gazed upon our transgressions;
the light of your face illuminates our secrets.
All our days vanish in your anger,
we use up our years in a single breath.
Seventy years are what we have,
or eighty for the stronger ones;
and most of that is labour and sadness –
quickly they pass, and we are gone.
Who can comprehend the power of your wrath?
Who can behold the violence of your anger?
Teach us to reckon our days like this,
so that our hearts may be led at last to wisdom.
Turn to us, Lord, how long must we wait?
Let your servants call on you and be answered.
Fill us with your kindness in the morning,
and we shall rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
Give us joy for as long as you afflicted us,
for all the years when we suffered.
Let your servants see your great works,
and let their children see your glory.
Let the glory of the Lord God be upon us:
make firm the work of your hands.
Make firm the work of your hands.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Our years fade away like grass, but you, Lord, are eternal.
Lord, from you springs life;
– in your light we shall see light.

Lamentations 1:1-12,18-20


Oh, how lonely she sits,
the city once thronged with people,
as if suddenly widowed.
Though once great among the nations,
she, the princess among provinces,
is now reduced to vassalage.
She passes her nights weeping;
the tears run down her cheeks.
Not one of all her lovers
remains to comfort her.
Her friends have all betrayed her
and become her enemies.
Judah is exiled after her downfall
and harsh enslavement.
She dwells among the nations now,
but finds no relief there.
Her pursuers all overtake her
in places where there is no way out.
The roads to Zion are in mourning;
no one comes to her festivals now.
Her gateways are all deserted;
her priests groan;
her virgins are grief-stricken;
she suffers bitterly.
Her oppressors now have the upper hand,
her enemies enjoy prosperity;
The Lord himself has made her suffer
for her many, many sins;
her little children have left her as prisoners
driven in front of the oppressor.
From the daughter of Zion
all her glory has departed.
Her leaders were like rams
that find no pasture.
Listlessly they took the road,
driven by the drover.
Jerusalem remembers
her days of misery and distress,
when her people fell before the enemy
and no one came to help her.
Her oppressors looked at her
and laughed at her downfall.
Jerusalem has sinned grievously
and she has become a thing unclean.
All those who used to honour her despise her”;
they have seen her nakedness.
While she herself groans
and turns her face away.
Her filth clings to the hem of her clothes.
She had never thought of ending like this,
sinking as low as this.
She has no one to comfort her.
‘O Lord, look on my degradation;
my enemy is triumphant.’
The oppressor has laid his hands
on all she treasured;
she has seen the pagans
enter her sanctuary,
men whom you had forbidden
to attend your Assembly.
All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they barter their valuables for food,
to keep life in them.
‘Look, O Lord, and mark
how despised I am.’
All you who pass this way,
look and see:
is any sorrow like the sorrow
that afflicts me,
with which the Lord has struck me
on the day of his burning anger?
The Lord is acting rightly,
for I had rebelled against his order.
Listen therefore, all you nations,
and see my sorrow.
My virgins and my young men
have gone into exile.
I called for help to my lovers;
they failed me.
My priests and my elders
were perishing inside the city,
as they searched for food
to keep life in them.
Look, O Lord. How great my anguish!
My entrails shudder;
my heart turns over inside me.
Alas! I have always been a rebel –
and now, outside, the sword has robbed me of my children,
and inside, there is death.


My eyes are dark with weeping; no comforter is near to revive my courage. Tell me, is there any sorrow like my sorrow?

All you who pass by, look and see: is there any sorrow like my sorrow?

St Bruno's commentary on Psalm 83

If I forget you, Jerusalem

How delightful is your dwelling-place, Lord of hosts!
My soul is weak with longing for the courts of your palace

That is, for the broad spaces of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the city of God.

Blessed are they who dwell in your house:

they will praise you for ever.
Now the psalmist shows why he desires to enter the courts of the Lord: Lord, God of all powers in heaven, my king and my God, blessed are they who dwell in your house. It is as if he said, ‘Who would not wish to enter your courts, since you are God, that is, the Creator, the Lord of the powers, the King, and since all are blessed who live in your house?’ Because ‘courts’ and ‘house’ mean the same thing here. When he says ‘blessed’ he means that they have all conceivable blessedness. And they are surely blessed, because they will praise you with loving devotion for ever, that is, for all eternity. They would not be able to praise the Lord for all eternity unless they were blessed for all eternity.

Blessed the man whose help comes from you,
who has set his heart on climbing to you.

But no-one can reach this blessedness on his own, even if he has hope, faith and love. Blessed is the man whose help comes from you – in other words, only the man whose help comes from you will attain the blessedness he has set his heart on. That is to say: the only people who will attain blessedness are those who set their hearts on climbing many steps of virtue and good works, but also receive the help of your grace. No-one can climb by himself, as the Lord himself has said: No-one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man who is in heaven.

I say that he is climbing to you because he now lives in the valley of tears, that is, in this present life, which is lowly and filled with the tears of tribulation; as opposed to the other life, which can be called a mountain in comparison, a mountain full of joy.

Since the psalmist has said, Blessed the man whose help comes from you, one might ask, ‘Will God give his help?’ The answer is that help is truly offered by God to the blessed. For the lawgiver, that is, Christ, gave us the law and he gives us and will go on giving us blessings (that is, the many gifts of grace) by which he blesses his own people. This means he will raise them up to blessedness, and so they will go from strength to strength as they climb. In the future heavenly Zion Christ will be seen, the God of gods, and since he is God he will make his people divine also. Or, if you prefer, you can say that the God of gods, God the Trinity, will be visible in a spiritual sense in those who dwell in Zion. By the light of their understanding they will see God in themselves in a way that now they cannot, for God will be all in all.


We are now God’s children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become; all we know is that when Christ appears we shall become like him, because we shall see him as he really is.

Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure; all we know is that when Christ appears we shall become like him, because we shall see him as he really is.

O God, you have redeemed us and adopted us.

Grant to your beloved children
that their belief in Christ
may bring them true liberty and an eternal inheritance.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.