Thursday, December 14, 2017


MEMORIAL OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS


Antiphon
Galatians 6:14

May I never boast,
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.

Collect

O God, who gave the Priest Saint John
an outstanding dedication to perfect self-denial
and love of the Cross,
grant that, by imitating him closely at all times,
we may come to contemplate eternally your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.



Memorial of Saint John of the Cross
Priest and Doctor of the Church

Reading
IS 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, "Fear not,
I will help you."
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.


Responsorial Psalm
PS 145:1 AND 9, 10-11, 12-13AB

R. The Lord is gracious and merciful;
slow to anger, and of great kindness.

I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

R. The Lord is gracious and merciful;
slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.

R. The Lord is gracious and merciful;
slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

R. The Lord is gracious and merciful;
slow to anger, and of great kindness.


Alleluia
IS 45:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel
MT 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds:

"Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."



December 14

Saint John of the Cross (1541 - 1591)

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—
strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and, like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—
as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.



O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will proclaim Your Praise!

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

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.”

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

“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.”

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.

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.
Amen.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: 
come, let us adore him.


Hymn

The Advent of our God
With eager prayers we greet
And singing haste up on the road
His glorious gift to meet.
The everlasting Son
Scorns not a Virgin’s womb;
That we from bondage may be won
He bears a bondsman’s doom.
Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet thy lowly King;
Let not thy stubborn heart despise
The peace he deigns to bring.
In clouds of awful light,
As Judge he comes again,
His scattered people to unite,
With them in heaven to reign.
Let evil flee away
Ere that dread hour shall dawn.
Let this old Adam day by day
God’s image still put on.
Praise to the Incarnate Son,
Who comes to set us free,
With God the Father, ever One,
To all eternity.


Psalm 49 (50)
True reverence for the Lord

Our God comes openly,
he keeps silence no longer.

The Lord, the God of gods has spoken:
he has summoned the whole earth, from east to west.
God has shone forth from Zion in her great beauty.
Our God will come, and he will not be silent.
Before him, a devouring fire;
around him, a tempest rages.
He will call upon the heavens above, and on the earth, to judge his people.
“Bring together before me my chosen ones, who have sealed my covenant with sacrifice.”
The heavens will proclaim his justice; for God is the true judge.

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.
Amen.

Our God comes openly,
he keeps silence no longer.


Psalm 49 (50)

Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

Listen, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
I will not reproach you with your sacrifices,
for your burnt offerings are always before me.
But I will not accept calves from your houses,
nor goats from your flocks.
For all the beasts of the forests are mine,
and in the hills, a thousand animals.
All the birds of the air – I know them.
Whatever moves in the fields – it is mine.
If I am hungry, I will not tell you;
for the whole world is mine, and all that is in it.
Am I to eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer a sacrifice to God – a sacrifice of praise;
to the Most High, fulfil your vows.
Then you may call upon me in the time of trouble:
I will rescue you, and you will honor 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.
Amen.

Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.


Psalm 49 (50)

I want love, not sacrifice;
knowledge of God, not holocausts.

To the sinner, God has said this:
Why do you recite my statutes?
Why do you dare to speak my covenant?
For you hate what I teach you,
and reject what I tell you.
The moment you saw a thief, you joined him;
you threw in your lot with adulterers.
You spoke evil with your mouth,
and your tongue made plans to deceive.
Solemnly seated, you denounced your own brother;
you poured forth hatred against your own mother’s son.
All this you did, and I was silent;
so you thought that I was just like you.
But I will reprove you –
I will confront you with all you have done.
Understand this, you who forget God;
lest I tear you apart, with no-one there to save you.
Whoever offers up a sacrifice of praise gives me true honor;
whoever follows a sinless path in life will be shown the salvation of 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.
Amen.

I want love, not sacrifice;
knowledge of God, not holocausts.


Show us your saving mercy, Lord,
– and give us your saving help.


First Reading
Isaiah 30:18-26

The Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you, for the Lord is a just God; 
happy are all who hope in him.

Yes, people of Zion, you will live in Jerusalem and weep no more. He will be gracious to you when he hears your cry; when he hears he will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes. Whether you turn to right or left, your ears will hear these words behind you, ‘This is the way, follow it.’ You will regard your silvered idols and gilded images as unclean. You will throw them away like the polluted things they are, shouting after them, ‘Good riddance!’ He will send rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the bread that the ground provides will be rich and nourishing. Your cattle will graze, that day, in wide pastures. Oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat a salted fodder, winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain, on every high hill there will be streams and watercourses, on the day of the great slaughter when the strongholds fall.  Then moonlight will be bright as sunlight and sunlight itself be seven times brighter 
– like the light of seven days in one – 
on the day the Lord dresses the wound of his people and heals the bruises his blows have left.


Responsory

In that day the Lord will bind up the wounds of his people,
and the God of justice will heal the bruises inflicted by his blow.
Blessed are all those who wait for him.

Hope in the Lord, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!
Blessed are all those who wait for him.


Second Reading
A Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross

Recognising the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus

Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, 
and even to be understood by them.

We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, 
in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.

For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.

All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, 
in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. 
The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.

Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, 
but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, 
the length, the height and the depth – 
to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.

The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, 
while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.


Responsory

What no eye has seen,
nor ear heard,
things beyond our imagining –
all that God has prepared for those who love him:
these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

The Spirit reaches the depths of everything,
even the depths of God:
these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord God, you gave Saint John of the Cross
the grace of complete self-denial
and an ardent love for the cross of Christ.
Grant that by following always in his footsteps
we may come to the eternal vision of your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MEMORIAL OF SAINT LUCY


Antiphon
Cf. Hb 2: 3; 1 Cor 4: 5

The Lord will come and he will not delay.
He will illumine what is hidden in darkness
and reveal himself to all the nations.

Collect

May the glorious intercession
of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy
give us new heart, we pray, O Lord,
so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday
in this present age
and so behold things eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.



Memorial of Saint Lucy
Virgin and Martyr

Reading
IS 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles' wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.


Responsorial Psalm
PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10

R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

R. O bless the Lord, my soul!


Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel
MT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."



December 13

Saint Lucy (283 - 304)

Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian and she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title, and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.

One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. 
If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today’s pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.

Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy’s, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, he had been crucified by the Roman soldiers after his own people turned him over to the Roman authorities. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all he said and did. 
To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.

What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.

Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs.  She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God.
She is the patroness of eyesight.



O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will proclaim Your Praise!

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

The Lord is God, the mighty God,
the great king over all the gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the highest mountains as well
He made the sea; it belongs to him,
the dry land, too, for it was formed by his hands.

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Come, then, let us bow down and worship,
bending the knee before the Lord, our maker,
For he is our God and we are his people,
the flock he shepherds.

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Today, listen to the voice of the Lord:
Do not grow stubborn, as your fathers did in the wilderness,
when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me,
Although they had seen all of my works.

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Forty years I endured that generation.
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray
and they do not know my ways.
So I swore in my anger,
“They shall not enter into my rest.”

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

God, come to my assistance.
- Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
- as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.


HYMN

Faith of our fathers! faith and prayer
shall win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
mankind shall then indeed be free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers! we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife:
and preach thee, too, as love knows how,
by kindly deeds and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Melody: St. Catherine L.M.
Music: Henri F. Henny and James G. Walton
Text: Frederick W. Faber


PSALMODY

Antiphon 1:
Men will hate you because you are mine, but he who perseveres will saved.


Psalm 2

Why this tumult among nations,
among peoples this useless murmuring?
They arise, the kings of the earth,
princes plot against the Lord and his Anointed.
Come, let us break their fetters,
come, let us cast off their yoke.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord is laughing them to scorn.
Then he will speak in his anger,
his rage will strike them with terror.
It is I who have set up my king on Zion,
my holy mountain.

I will announce the decree of the Lord:

The Lord said to me: You are my Son.
It is I who have begotten you this day.
Ask and I will bequeath you the nations,
put the ends of the earth in your possession.
With a rod of iron you will break them,
shatter them like a potter's jar.

Now, O kings, understand,
take warning, rulers of the earth;
serve the Lord with awe
and trembling, pay him your homage
lest he be angry and you perish;
for suddenly his anger will blaze.

Blessed are they who put their trust in God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
- as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.


Antiphon 1
Men will hate you because you are mine, but he who perseveres will saved.


Antiphon 2
The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come.


Psalm 33

I
Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.
O sing him a song that is new,
play loudly, with all your skill.

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

By his word the heavens were made,
by the breath of his mouth all the stars.
He collects the waves of the ocean;
he stores up the depths of the sea.

Let all the earth fear the Lord
all who live in the world revere him.
He spoke; and it came to be.
He commanded; it sprang into being.

He frustrates the designs of the nations,
he defeats the plans of the peoples.
His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
- as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

Antiphon 2
The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come.


Antiphon 3
The Lord tested his chosen ones as gold tested by fire; he has received them for ever as a sacrificial offering.


II
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men.

From the place where he dwells he gazes
on all the dwellers on the earth;
he who shapes the hearts of them all;
and considers all their deeds.

A king is not saved by his army,
nor a warrior preserved by his strength.
A vain hope for safety is the horse;
despite its power it cannot save.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
In him do our hearts find joy.
We trust in his holy name.

May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
- as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.


Antiphon 3
The Lord tested his chosen ones as gold tested by fire; he has received them for ever as a sacrificial offering.


I have known tribulation and distress.
- But in your commands I have found consolation.


FIRST READING

From the second letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians
4:7-5:8

The power of Christ is made manifest in our sufferings
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," 
we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.

Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; 
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off, we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, 
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.


RESPONSORY
Matthew 5:11:12a, 10

Blessed are you when men curse you and persecute you,
and speak every evil against you because of me.
Rejoice, be glad,
- for your reward will be great in heaven.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice.
- For your reward will be great in heaven.


SECOND READING

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Sermo 329, in natali martyrum: PL 38, 1454-1456)

The death of martyrs is precious, bought at the cost of Christ's death

The Church everywhere flourishes through the glorious deeds of the holy martyrs. With our own eyes we can judge the truth of our song, that the death of his saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. 
It is precious in our sight and in the sight of the Lord as well, for in his name they died.

But the price of these deaths is the death of one man. See how many deaths he paid for by dying himself ! For if he had not died, would the grain of wheat have been multiplied? You have heard what he said on his way to his passion, which was our redemption: Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, 
it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

On the cross he made the great exchange. There the purse which held our price was opened, for when the soldier's spear opened his side, the price of the whole world flowed forth. Thus he purchased the faithful and the martyrs. But the faith of the martyrs has been tested; their blood is the proof. They paid back the price Christ paid for them, thus fulfilling the words of Saint John: 
Just as Christ laid down his life for us, we too must lay down our lives for our brothers.

Elsewhere it is said: You are seated at a great table. Observe carefully all that is set before you, for you also must prepare such a banquet. The table is large, for the banquet is none other than the Lord of the table himself. No one has his guests feed upon himself, and yet this is precisely what Christ our Lord does; though host, he himself is both food and drink. The martyrs recognized the food and drink they were given, 
in order to make repayment in kind.

But how can they make repayment, unless he first spends his riches on them and gives them the means to repay? And what does the psalm we have sung recommend when it says: 
The death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord?

In this psalm man ponders the great things he has received from God, the great gifts of grace from the almighty: God created man, sought him when he was lost, pardoned him when he was found, supported him when he struggled in weakness, did not abandon him when he was in danger, crowned him in victory, 
and gave himself as the prize. Reflecting on all this man cries out, saying: 
What shall I give the Lord for all he has given me? I shall take up the cup of salvation.

What is this cup? It is the cup of suffering, bitter yet healthful: the cup which, if the physician did not first drink it, the sick man would fear to touch. Yes, it is the cup of suffering, and of it Christ is speaking when he says: Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me.

Of this cup the martyrs said: I shall take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. But are you not afraid you will weaken? No, they reply. And why? Because I shall call upon the name of the Lord. Do you think martyrs could have been victorious, unless he was victorious in the martyrs who said: Rejoice, for I have overcome the world? The Lord of the heavens directed their minds and tongues; through them he overcame the devil on earth and crowned them as martyrs in heaven. Blessed are those who have drunk of this cup! Their torments are at an end, and they have taken their place of honor. And so, my dear ones, consider: although you cannot see with your eyes, do so with your mind and soul, 
and see that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord.


RESPONSORY
2 Tim 4:7-8; Philippians 3:8-10

I have fought the good fight,
I have run the race to the finish,
I have kept the faith;
- now a crown of holiness awaits me.

Nothing has seemed worthwhile to me except to know Christ,
to be one with him in his sufferings,
to bear his death in my body.
- Now a crown of holiness awaits me.


PRAYER

God our Father,
you give us joy each year
in honoring the memory of Saint N. .
May her prayers be a source of help for us,
and may her example of courage and chastity be our inspiration.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.