Sunday, August 14, 2011


Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe

Opening Prayer to St. Maximilian

O St. Maximilian Kolbe, faithful follower of St. Francis, inflamed by the love of God you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue and to works of the apostolate.

Look down with favor upon us who devoutly confide in your intercession.

Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, you inspired countless souls to a holy life and various forms of the apostolate in order to do good to others and to spread the kingdom of God. Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors to draw many souls to Christ.

In your close conformity to our Divine Savior you reached such an intense degree of love that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner. Implore God that we, inflamed by such ardent charity, may through our living faith and our apostolic works witness Christ to others, and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God. Amen.

Readings and Meditations for each day of novena are given here to be followed
each day by the closing Novena prayer shown at the end.

Day 1: Maximilian's Call to Holiness
Reading: Raymond Kolbe was born of poor parents in Poland on January 7, 1894. Raymond came to love the Blessed Virgin quite early in life. This devotion did not prevent him from getting into trouble. His lively nature tried the patience of his mother. Once she remarked in exasperation, "Raymond, what is going to become of you?" After this incident there was a noticeable change in his behavior. His mother became worried. Upon questioning him, she found Raymond at first reluctant to tell her his "secret." Finally he told her how much her reproach had troubled him. He had prayed to Mary, and asked her the same question, "Mother of God, what will become of me?" She took compassion on the miserable boy and appeared to him holding in her hands two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked Raymond which one he would choose; the white signified purity, the red martyrdom. "I choose both" he answered.

Meditation: Every genuine conversion experience be it that of a mischievous child or that of a hardened adult involves the individual's humble recognition of his own weaknesses and capacity for sin. May Maximilian's humility be ours in our pursuit of Christian holiness through ongoing conversion.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 2: Maximilian Discerns God's Will
Reading: When Raymond Kolbe was a seminary student at Lwow, Poland, he bowed his face to the floor during Mass one day and promised the most holy Virgin that he would fight for her. It was a surprising thing to do, especially since he had already chosen to be a Franciscan priest. Not knowing how he was to fulfill his promise he began to picture to himself a struggle with material weapons. The more he thought about it the more he felt attracted to a military career, fighting for the freedom of his homeland under the banner of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Finally, he decided he had made a mistake: he would give up the idea of studying for the priesthood. He was on his way to inform the Minister Provincial of his decision when he was called to the parlor. His mother had just arrived for a visit. What Maria Kolbe told her son we do not know, but shortly afterward Raymond was invested in the Conventual Franciscan habit and took the name Maximilian Maria.

On September 5, 1911, he made his first vows. The following year, another crisis arose, and again Maximilian Kolbe's destiny hung in the balance. His superiors had decided to send him to Rome for philosophical and theological studies, but Friar Maximilian requested that his name be stricken from the list. That night he reconsidered. Had he not placed his own will in the way of God's will as expressed by his superiors? Was it not better to obey? The following morning he told his Provincial that he was prepared to go to Rome.

Meditation: Discernment of the direction that God wishes our lives to take requires an absolute truthfulness with oneself and God. May Maximilian's inner honesty be ours as we strive continually to do God's will.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 3: Maximilian's Consecration to Mary
Reading: It was in Rome that Friar Maximilian learned the true meaning of his call to fight for Mary. Exposed to the rabid anti-Christian forces that burgeoned in Europe he saw the need for a new era of evangelization that would bring all peoples back to God. Suddenly during prayer one morning, Friar Maximilian was enlightened to understand the critical importance of the role God had given Mary in this work. Meditating on the Miraculous Medal conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a young nineteenth-century Jewish agnostic, Friar Maximilian was illumined to perceive Mary's role as the Holy Spirit's indispensable partner and instrument in the evangelizing work of conversion and growth in holiness. He saw that this work was a spiritual war with Satan, and that Mary needed consecrated souls to serve as her knights in this battle. Maximilian lost little time putting this inspiration into action.

On October 16, 1917, he and six fellow Franciscans established the Militia of the Immaculata (MI) movement. Its goal was as simple and vast as the Church's mission: the interior transformation of all souls in Christ through the Immaculata. To achieve this goal, Friar Maximilian proposed a practical spirituality of "Total Consecration to Mary." He and all "MIs" would make a free and total offering of themselves to Our Lady, so that they might become instruments in her work for Christ.

Meditation: True consecration to Mary is a Marian way of livinga life of close union with Christ through the Holy Spirit. May we find in Maximilian's spirituality of Marian consecration a powerful means for living Christ's Gospel and spreading it to others.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 4: Maximilian's Faith
Reading: After his ordination, Father Maximilian returned to Poland in July 1919, worn by tuberculosis. Despite his poor health, he was assigned to the Franciscan friary at Cracow where the climate is fatal to tubercularsas a university professor. Not only was his body exhausted but at times his soul was harrowed by ridicule from some of his own Franciscan confreres. He had hoped on returning to interest all the friars at Cracow in his work. A good number of priests, brothers and student friars did respond to his call, but others shrugged their shoulders. They listened to him, then laughed among themselves, calling him a bore and a dreamer. One friar even found a nickname which delighted the detractors for awhile: "Marmalade." The young priest walked very slowly, like animated marmalade, to avoid any abrupt movement that could provoke hemorrhage. Maximilian bore this mockery with patience and mildness. Faith, alone, allowed him to find in God and the Immaculata the affirmation and support that some of his confreres initially denied him.

Meditation: When all seems lost and one is stripped of everything, there remains one vital source of spiritual energy: faith. May Maximilian's faith be ours, especially when adversity robs us of the affirmation and support we crave.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 5: Maximilian's Hope
Reading: Through Father Maximilian's efforts, the influence of the MI movement began to spread through Poland in the 1920s. As distances became too great for his one unaided human voice to reach, Maximilian realized that only the printed word would suffice. With a complete lack of capital, but full trust in providence, he began publishing the Knight of the Immaculata (Rycerz Niepokalanej) a sixteen-page magazine. Once when bankruptcy seemed imminent, he threw himself at the feet of the Immaculata and begged for help. As he was about to leave the church, he found an envelope on the altar with these words on it, "For thee, O Immaculate Mother." Inside was the exact sum to pay the debt.

In 1927 when quarters for his printshop became too small, he entered into negotiations to purchase a large tract of land for a whole "City of the Immaculata" (Niepokalanow), where he and the friars would expand their apostolate. However, he again lacked capital. He explained to the landowner, Prince Drucki-Lubecki, that he could not afford the price. Abruptly the Prince decided to make a free gift of it to Maximilian and the friars. By 1939 Niepokalanow had become the largest Franciscan friary in the world with over 700 friars and students. The circulation of their magazine exceeded 750,000 copies per month.

Meditation: When the customary human solutions to the complexities that beset our lives prove ineffective, we are placed in a situation of total dependence upon God. May Maximilian's unflagging hopea complete trust in God's providencebe ours throughout the course of our life.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 6: Maximilian's Sanctification of Labor
Reading: Father Maximilian's zeal for the inner conversion and sanctification of all people was not confined by national boundaries. With appropriate ecclesiastical permission, he and four other friars sailed to the Orient in 1930. They established themselves in Japan, where they hoped to publish the Knight of the Immaculata in Japanese. As a condition to publish the magazine, Father Maximilian was obliged to teach philosophy in the diocesan seminary. In exchange, the bishop would allow diocesan priests to help in the translating of articles into the Japanese language. Remarkably, Father Maximilian was able to publish the first issue of Seibo no Kishi within one month of his arrival. Father Maximilian soon founded a second City of the Immaculata, Mugenzai no Sono. Throughout his apostolic labors in Japan, Father Maximilian suffered constantly from high fevers, violent headaches, and abscesses, due to overwork and an inadequate diet. He concealed these problems so well, however, that for some time only his most intimate companions had any awareness of the seriousness of his condition.

Meditation: Work can serve to enhance our dignity as God's people, when we work diligently to nourish our families and build up God's kingdom. May Maximilian's zealous commitment to each task at hand stimulate our own religious zeal for the daily work that God has entrusted to us.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 7: Maximilian's Obedience
Reading: Scarcely two months after his arrival in Japan and the first publication of a Japanese version of the Knight of the Immaculata, Father Maximilian was summoned by his superiors to defend this enterprise at the Province Chapter in Lwow, Poland. Obedient as always, he left Japan for this meeting, but his heart was heavy because there was no one capable of maintaining the gigantic work in his absence. Father Maximilian had no doubts that only through full obedience would his own labors for the Immaculata's cause be fruitful. At the chapter, the very future of the Japanese Niepokalanow was put to question. The expenses were heavy, and the capitular friars discussed the prudence of undertaking such a foolish venture. Father Maximilian followed his usual tactics. Having explained all his arguments and spoken from the abundance of his heart, he remained silent, waited, closed his eyes, with his hands under his capuche he held his rosary and very slowly while his superiors discussed the business he summoned his council, reciting innumerable Hail Marys. He won on all scores and returned to Japan with full permission to continue the Immaculata's work there.

Meditation: Submission to legitimate authority frees us from the tyranny of our own willfulness, stubbornness or selfishness. May Maximilian's obedience to authority in the Church move our consciences along the lines of a more generous obedience to Christ's chosen representatives.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 8: Maximilian and the Eucharist
Reading: Under Father Maximilian's spiritual leadership, the friars of Niepokalanow and Mugenzai no Sono had incredible success in their press apostolate. Their secret for success was a community life of prayer centered on the Eucharist. In the mid-1930s, when the friars of Niepokalanow were about to inaugurate their first newspaper, the Maly Dziennik (Little Journal), they had formidable opponents in the secular press of Poland. For nine days, the friars prayed day and night before the Blessed Sacrament. The newspaper venture met with a tremendous success. Years later, Father Maximilian initiated a program of daytime adoration of the Eucharist at Niepokalanow. This began on December 8, 1939, the day on which Father Maximilian and the friars were released from a three-month imprisonment by their Nazi captors. He immediately introduced adoration of the Eucharist in order to increase his "active forces of prayer." Every half hour, day after day, a fresh group of four friars took its place before our Lord in the tabernacle. This became the friars' primary apostolate.

Meditation: For every Christian, prayer is not a luxury but a necessity. Maximilian knew that prayer before the Eucharist is the ultimate source for fruitful Christian living. May our own reverence for the Eucharist reflect this same conviction.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer.

Day 9: Maximilian's Love
Reading: On February 17, 1941, Father Maximilian was arrested by the Gestapo for the second time. Subjected to extreme cruelty throughout his captivity, Father Maximilian prepared himself and his fellow prisoners for the ultimate moment: "They will not kill our souls . . . they will not be able to deprive us of the dignity of a Catholic. We will not give up."

Love was to impel Father Maximilian to become a "martyr of charity" in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. After the escape of a prisoner, ten inmates were condemned to death by starvation. Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek cried out, "What will happen to my poor family?" At that moment, Father Maximilian slipped out of line, and boldly asked the commandant if he could take the place of Sergeant Gajowniczek. The astounded officer consented. Amidst the horror of the death bunker, love triumphed. Daily prayers, rosaries and hymns were heard as Father Maximilian ministered to his nine fellow victims. Finally after two weeks, on August 14, 1941, the Nazis hastened Maximilian's death by the injection of carbolic acid.

Meditation: True charity always places the needs of others ahead of our own because true charity sees Christ himself mirrored in the face of others. May Maximilian's total love for God and neighbor always through the Immaculata characterize our own approach to Christ in others.

Novena Prayer for St. Maximilian's Intercession

O Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends," through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose life illustrated such love, we beseech you to grant our petitions. (Pause here to mention the special requests you have.)

Through the Militia of the Immaculata movement, which Maximilian founded, he spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all people, a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary.

Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our heavenly Queen in order that we may better love and serve our neighbor in imitation of your humble servant, Maximilian.



August 14, 2011

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Is 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:

Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants—
all who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
for my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.

Responsorial Psalm
67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.

R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.

R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

Reading II
Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:

I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous
and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.

Mt 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,

“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,

“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”

And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.


August 14

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941)

“I don’t know what’s going to become of you!” How many parents have said that? Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s reaction was, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me. She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red. She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom. I said, ‘I choose both.’ She smiled and disappeared.” After that he was not the same.

He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív (then Poland, now Ukraine), near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice. Though he later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships.

Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.

In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1941 he was arrested again. The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations.

A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. “This one. That one.” As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. “I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.” “Who are you?” “A priest.” No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine. In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.


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

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 23 (24)

We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
and set it firm over the waters.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
The Lord, strong in battle.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
– he is the king of glory.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.

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.

– We are God’s people, the sheep of his flock: come, let us worship him, alleluia.


Hail, day! whereon the One in Three
First formed the earth by sure decree,
The day its Maker rose again,
And vanquished death, and burst our chain.
Away with sleep and slothful ease!
We raise our hearts and bend our knees,
And early seek the Lord of all,
Obedient to the Prophet’s call:
That he may hearken to our prayer,
Stretch forth his strong right arm to spare,
And, every past offense forgiven,
Restore us to our home in heaven.
Assembled here this holy day,
This holiest hour we raise the lay;
And, O, that he to whom we sing,
May now reward our offering!
Most Holy Father, hear our cry,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord most High
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee
Doth live and reign eternally.

A call to worship
Psalm 94 (95)

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place?

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.
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 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.
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.”
“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.”

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.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place?
Psalm 65 (66)

Hymn for a sacrifice of thanksgiving

All peoples, bless our God, who gave his life to our souls, alleluia.
Cry out to God, all the earth,
sing psalms to the glory of his name,
give him all glory and praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous your works!
Faced with the greatness of your power
your enemies dwindle away.
Let all the earth worship you and sing your praises,
sing psalms to your name.”
Come and see the works of God,
be awed by what he has done for the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land,
and they crossed the waters on foot:
therefore will we rejoice in him.
In his might he will rule for all time,
his eyes keep watch on the nations:
no rebellion will ever succeed.
Bless our God, you nations,
and let the sound of your praises be heard.
Praise him who brought us to life,
and saved us from stumbling.
For you have tested us, O Lord,
you have tried us by fire, as silver is tried.
You led us into the trap,
heaped tribulations upon us.
You set other men to rule over us –
but we passed through fire and water,
and you led us out to our rest.

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.

All peoples, bless our God, who gave his life to our souls, alleluia.
Psalm 65 (66)

Come and hear, all who fear God. I will tell what he did for my soul, alleluia.

I shall enter your house with burnt-offerings.
I shall fulfil my vows to you,
the vows that I made with my lips,
the vows that I uttered in my troubles.
I shall offer you rich burnt-offerings,
the smoke of the flesh of rams;
I shall offer you cattle and goats.
Draw near and listen, you who fear the Lord,
and I will tell all that he has done for me.
I cried out aloud to him,
and his praise was on my tongue.
If I looked upon sin in the depths of my heart,
the Lord would not hear me –
but the Lord has listened,
he has heard the cry of my appeal.
Blessed be God, who has not spurned my prayer,
who has not kept his mercy from me.

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 and hear, all who fear God. I will tell what he did for my soul, alleluia.
The word of God is a living and active thing.
– It is sharper than a double-edged sword.

Isaiah 6:1-13

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings: two to cover its face, two to cover its feet and two for flying.
And they cried out to one another in this way,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’
The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:
‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:
‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’
I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’ He said:
‘Go, and say to this people,
“Hear and hear again, but do not understand;
see and see again, but do not perceive.”
Make the heart of this people gross,
its ears dull;
shut its eyes,
so that it will not see with its eyes,
hear with its ears,
understand with its heart,
and be converted and healed.’’
Then I said, ‘Until when, Lord?’ He answered:
‘Until towns have been laid waste and deserted,
houses left untenanted,
countryside made desolate,
and the Lord drives the people out.
There will be a great emptiness in the country
and, though a tenth of the people remain,
it will be stripped like a terebinth
of which, once felled, only the stock remains.
The stock is a holy seed.’

Holy, holy holy is the Lord of hosts, who was, who is, and who is to come! The whole earth is full of his glory.

The seraphim called out to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory.

From a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom, bishop

Salt of the earth and light of the world

You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you only into two cities only or ten to twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savour and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.

Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labour to keep that corruption from returning.

Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.

If others lose their savour, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavour be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.

When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, They may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”

Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.


You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you must be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Your light must shine so brightly before men that they can see your good works and glorify your Father, and then you must be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Te Deum

God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –

unceasingly, they cry:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”
The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.

Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.

You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.

And so we ask of you: give help to your servants, whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.

Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.

Bring your people to safety, Lord, and bless those who are your inheritance.
Rule them and lift them high for ever.
Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever.
Of your goodness, Lord, keep us without sin for today.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your pity, Lord, be upon us, as much as we trust in you.
In you, Lord, I trust: let me never be put to shame.

Let us pray.

Lord God,
you have prepared for those who love you
what no eye has seen, no ear has heard.

Fill our hearts with your love,
so that, loving you above all and in all,
we may attain your promises
which the heart of man has not conceived.

We make our prayer 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.