Sunday, September 28, 2014:  (TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME)  Readings for today:  Ezekiel 18:25-28  /  Philippians 2:1-11  /  Matthew 21:28-32:


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Reading 1 - A reading from the book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:25-28):


Thus says the LORD:
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.



Responsorial Psalm - (Psalm 25 Remember Your Mercies by David Haas):


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R: Remember your mercies, O Lord.

1. Your ways, O Lord, make known to me, teach me your paths.
Guide me, teach me, for you are my Savior.

R: Remember your mercies, O Lord.

2. Remember your compassion, Lord, and your kindness of old.
Remember this, and not my sins, in your goodness, O Lord.

R: Remember your mercies, O Lord.

3. Good and just is the Lord, the sinners know his way.
He guides the meek to justice, he teaches the humble.

R: Remember your mercies, O Lord.


Reading 2 - A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:1-11):


Brothers and sisters:

If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.



Gospel - A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew (Matthew 21:28-32):


Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."






09/28/2014 - St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) - (Feast Day: October 4):  St. Francis of Assisi was another great mystical saint.  Early on he renounced his family's riches, and began leading as literally as possible the life of Jesus in the Gospels.  He loved the poor.  He preached the Gospel even to nature and to the animals, and the animals would respond, and the birds would sing their songs as he sung hymns praising God.  People began to follow him, living lives of poverty and begging and serving the poor.  He was a miracle worker, could read the hearts of others, and even made a deal with a wolf that if the wolf stop injuring people the towns folk would give him food.  St. Francis founded several orders.  He received the stigmata.  He knew when he would die, and in death his skin became luminous and had the feel of plasticity, rather than the rigidity of death.



St. Francis of Assisi

Solemnity of our Seraphic Father
Saint Francis

Feast Day: October 4


St Francis was the son of Peter Bernardone, a wealthy merchant of Assisi. Peter intended that his first-born should follow him in his career. But Francis was in no way avaricious as was his father. Rather, he was very generous and in gay good humor readily disposed of anything at his command.

Our Lord, whose delight it is to show mercy to the merciful, intended to tear St Francis away from the danger of worldly pleasures and draw him to Himself. He permitted Francis to become seriously ill.

As St Francis lay in the solitude of the sick chamber, exhausted in body, his soul was being prepared by God for higher things. He felt a great longing for perfection, and heroic self-conquest was needed as a foundation for that edifice.

When St Francis recovered his health, he was one day crossing the plain of Assisi on horseback, when he met a leper. The unexpected sight filled him with horror, and he was minded to turn back. But he remembered his resolution, dismounted, and hastened to kiss the hand of the leper and then pressed on alms into it. As he remounted and turned to salute the leper once more, there was no one to be seen anywhere on the plain. It was Christ Himself who had appeared to Francis in the form of a leper.

St Francis so loved the poor that he frequently associated with them. Complying with a divine command, he also begged stones to repair three ruined churches. His father was enraged at the strange conduct, and had his son brought before the bishop of Assisi. There Francis returned to his father not only the money he had but the clothes he wore, saying:

"Now I can truly say, Our Father, who art in heaven."

The bishop gave him an old gardener's cloak, on the back of which Francis drew a cross with a piece of white chalk. He now begged our Lord to make known to him His will regarding the future.

Soon after, St Francis was at holy Mass in the Portiuncula. Hearing the Gospel in which our Lord commissioned His apostles to carry about with them neither gold, nor silver, nor two coats, nor shoes, the heart of Francis was filled with joy, for he recognized in it the will of God regarding his own life. In a coarse penitential garb, girded with a cord, without shoes, he entered upon a life of complete poverty and began to preach penance. This occurred in the year 1208. Francis was then about 26 years old.

Several companions soon joined him. When there were eleven in number, he went with them to Rome, where Pope Innocent III gave his approval to the new order. They lived in the severest poverty and in brotherly harmony, preaching penance to the people both by their example and by their words. The holy founder called them Friars Minor, so that they might always regard the virtue of humility as the foundation of perfection. He himself was so humble that, when the people proclaimed him a saint, he called himself the greatest sinner.

"For," St Francis said, "if God had given the greatest criminal the graces He has given me, he would have used them to better advantage than I have done."

The order grew rapidly. In 1219, at the renowned Chapter of the Mats, more than 5,000 brethren were gathered together. As Christ sent His apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations, so Francis sent out his brethren. He himself courageously faced the Sultan of Egypt and announced to him that salvation could be found only in Christ.

St Francis of Assisi was a wonderful director of souls. Thomas of Celano tells us, " means of a revelation of the Holy Spirit, Francis knew the actions of his absent brothers, laid open the secrets of their hearts, and explored their consciences! Of how many he admonished in their sleep, commanded them things to be done, forbade things not to be done!"

In order to open the way of perfection for all who wished to imitate his life, Francis established a Second Order headed by St Clare, and a Third Order, for people of both sexes living in the world. His love for souls inspired him to labor for all his fellowmen.

Still, his desire to be more intimately united with God caused St Francis to retire again and again to a solitary place to fast and pray. He was consumed with ever increasing love for the highest and greatest Good.

"In the beauty of things," says St Bonaventure, "he saw the Author of all beauty, and followed in the footsteps of his Beloved, who has imprinted His image on all created things."

Drunk with love, he could call upon creatures to extol the Creator with him, and the birds joined him in singing the praises of God.

There were many other great saints living at this time. St Fernando III was King of Castile and Leon, St Louis IX was King of France, and Saint Dominic was converting the heretics. Both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic embraced holy poverty, and through their prayer, preaching and example, in less than two decades they restored and regenerated all of Christendom. The preaching of the Franciscan friars and Domincan priest elevated the culture and spread scholasticism wherever they went. Their work, and the work of their orders, goes on even in our own time.

It was above all the passion and death of Christ on the Cross that filled his heart with love of his Saviour, and he strove to become as similar to the object of his love as possible. Two years before his death, on Mount La Verna, the crucified Saviour appeared to Francis in the form of a seraph and impressed on his body the marks of the five sacred wounds.

St Francis, of course, was also a great miracle worker. There are too many to tell here, but let a few suffice to tell the tale of his sanctity.

On one occasion a great multitude followed St Francis, and they helped themselves to the grapes they found growing in a church vineyard. The pastor of the church began to regret that the saint had stayed with him, for the vineyard was nearly destroyed. St Francis learned of the pastor's inner thoughts through supernatural means, and so asked the pastor how many measures of wine the vineyard typically produced. The pastor responded twelve, so St Francis asked the priest to be patient with the people for the love of God, promising that the vineyard would produce twenty measures that year. By the time St Francis left there were only a few meager grapes to be found, but the priest placed them in the wine press anyway. As St Francis had promised, the priest miraculously obtained twenty measures of the very best wine.

Another time, when St Francis was staying at Gubbio, the saint learned of a large and fierce wolf that was eating animals and even human beings. People lived in such fear of the creature that they carried weapons with them everywhere they went. St Francis determined to go find the wolf, and a few of the bravest townsmen went with him. St Francis did find the wolf, for it bared its teeth upon seeing him and charged. St Francis was unmoved, making the sign of the cross in the direction of the closing wolf.

The wolf closed his mouth and slowed, creeping up meekly to St Francis. The Saint commanded the wolf never to hurt anyone again, and then made a bargain with the wolf that the people of the town would bring it food if it would not attack them. The wolf remained docile, following St Francis back to town where he explained the bargain he had made with the wolf, which the towns-people kept.

Francis knew in advance the day of his death. Painful suffering preceded it, but Francis thanked God for it and declared himself ready to suffer a hundred times more if God so willed.

Prepared by all the consolations of Holy Church, and lying on the bare ground in imitation of his Saviour's death on the cross, Francis passed to his heavenly home on October 3, 1226.

Thomas of Celano was an eye-witness, and he wrote: "...his flesh, which before had been dark, was now gleaming with a dazzling whiteness and giving promise of the rewards of the blessed resurrection by reason of its beauty. They saw, finally, that his face was like the face of an angel, as though he were living and not dead; and the rest of his members had taken on the softness and pliability of an innocent child's members...his skin had not become hard, his members were not rigid. And because he glowed with such wondrous beauty before all who looked upon him, and his flesh had become even more white, it was wonderful to see. In the middle of his hands and feet, not indeed the holes made by the nails, but the nails themselves formed out of his flesh and retaining the blackness of iron, and his right side was red with blood. These signs of martyrdom did not arouse horror in the minds of those who looked upon them, but they gave his body much beauty and grace.

from: The Franciscan Book Of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, OFM


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St. Francis of Assisi's Prayer for Peace: