November 19, 2017

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017, Year A

Parable of The Talents

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


The gospel accounts of last weekend, this weekend and next weekend are all taken from the 24th and 25th chapters of St. Matthew. The teachings presented in them by Christ are his last ones before he was to enter into Jerusalem and there be put to death. They are his final testament to his disciples, intended to guide them and us in the “already but not yet” time, that time between his presence here on earth and his Second Coming at the end of the world. These final teachings are therefore of great importance. And, when you plumb them to their depths, they are challenging – even menacing.

Last week’s parable told us about the five wise and the five foolish virgins. The foolish ones did not look ahead and make provision for the coming of the bridegroom. They were guilty of the sin of presumption – presuming that in their lack of oil for their lamps the wise ones would provide for them. Their even greater presumption was that once they finally arrived at the banquet the bridegroom would let them, along with the others who had prepared themselves, into the wedding feast. They found the door slammed in their faces.

Today’s parable is about the servant who lacked courage, and who being fear-driven, was consequently unproductive, excusing himself by accusing his master of being a hard man. This servant, like the foolish virgins, was looking for an excuse. He was in a state of denial, denying his own responsibilities.

Next weekend we will be hearing about others who were do-nothings, who were unproductive, and who found themselves to be outsiders because they ignored all that God had given them.

God has given us enormous treasures, talents, in Christ his Son. We have a powerful currency, the powers that God has given us. Christ is interested in productivity. He isn’t looking for passive dependent persons to follow him, to be his post-Ascension agents here on earth. He wants, rather, gamblers and risk-takers to be his followers and to vivify his Church. Doesn’t it strike you that the parables of Jesus center on farming, fishing and business activities, all involving risk–taking? Remember the man who found the pearl of great price and then risked all of his net worth to acquire it? Remember the fishing episodes when Jesus asked Peter to throw out his nets yet again even though he had gone through the whole night without catching a single fish? And remember, too, that episode when Jesus came upon a poor little fig tree that produced nothing and thereupon was going to annihilate it, but held back when the landscaper asked him to wait a year so he could manure it, tend it, and bring it to bear fruit.

Christianity without courage is Christianity without blood and spirit. God encourages us to jump into life and run the risk of growing. It doesn’t take courage to hide in our fear. It takes courage to risk something new.

All around us these days we hear talk about our sluggish economy. Experts, pundits, and commentators incessantly present us tiny bits of evidence upon which they predict that our economy is turning around and will come roaring back in another year. Productivity figures are bandied about. The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index is cited over and over again by Wall Street analysts and commentators.

What are our economists all looking for? Risk-takers! Go out and spend, they tell us. Invest, buy and get the currency changing hands again, they insist.

I hope you also notice that they are all asking us to have faith, to make faith-based decisions, to act, and act boldly, on faith.

Well, Christ is giving us the same challenge. He’s telling us that faith isn’t something we can get and keep all to ourselves. Rather it is the currency of the Divine Economy, the engine that drives it. And faith isn’t something we can hide, clutch, and hold only unto ourselves. It needs to be invested in the lives of others and thereby multiplied. Only then can it possibly bear fruit. Only then can our world get better. We were given the Faith not simply to save our own skins… but to save the world!

Turning the other cheek is a profound risk. It requires a tremendous investment in self-confidence to turn the other cheek. So does forgiving seventy-times seven times. One takes a tremendous risk when one tells another “I love you” and “I want to belong to you for the rest of our lives.” Assuming that others, even your adversaries, are acting in good faith requires a great expenditure of your spiritual capital. Showing compassion and giving tender loving care to those who are anything but loveable, who are self-concerned, self-centered and grasping, requires an investment of your own risk capital.

Having the courage to be openly Catholic is something that is personally demanding to each one of us here. It’s not easy to stand up for good priests and defend them in the face of the withering scorn directed at them and our Church these days, especially by the cultured despisers of religion and who are regular opinion columnists in our elite media.

Coming to Mass, especially when it’s not convenient, requires a risk, a risk that must be made in order to increase your own spiritual productivity, not the sort of productivity that benefits just you yourself, but that which is productive of good fruit in the lives of those around you.

There’s a lot of talk these days about accountability, usually the accountability that must be made by others – Enron executives, WorldCom executives, Wall Street banking and investment house officials, and Roman Catholic bishops. And I’m happy that they are being called into account.

But what about us? Do we realize that we too will face our own Day of Judgment; that our own little world will one day come to an end? What about our own productivity and accountability? Are our decisions fear-based or faith-based?

These last Sundays, bringing us to the end of the Church year, ought to challenge us – even disturb us. While it is true that Jesus is meek and mild, boundlessly compassionate and merciful, and that he loves us unconditionally, it is likewise true that he has great and high expectations of us. After all, God our Father didn’t create us to do nothing. It’s what he created us for that ought to occupy our attention, disturb our conscience, and prod us into spiritual productivity.

How else can we reveal God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven?

November 18, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 3

Christ the King of the Universe

November 19, 2017

"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ declared the arrival of God’s kingdom (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). It is our calling as Christians to make the kingdom of Christ a reality here on earth. Today, we pray for the grace to carry out this mission in imitation of Our Lord.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 3

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to fervently bring about Your Kingdom in my family and community.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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November 17, 2017

The Last Words of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a 19th century educator and missionary. Born in Grenoble, France, she would join the Society of the Sacred Heart and travel to America where together with her Order, she ministered to the native population. At a mission school in Saint Charles, Missouri, she spent her final hours. On the verge of her holy death, St. Rose looked toward heaven and joyously proclaimed:
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give you my heart, my soul, and my life – oh, yes, my life, generously.
— St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
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Prayer for St. Rose Philippine Duchesne's Intercession

Almighty God, who filled the heart of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make you known among all your people, grant us to follow her way and by her intercession, fill us with that same love and zeal to extend your Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 2

Christ the King of the Universe

November 18, 2017

The feast of Christ the King was created by Pope Pius XI in order to help the faithful remember that allegiance to Jesus Christ is above any other allegiance whether to the government, a cause or an ideology. Today, let us pray that we may always be loyal to, and a devoted disciple of, Our Lord, the King of kings.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 2

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to obey You before any civic authority.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

Saint Peter and Saint Paul

On November 18th, the Church celebrates the dedication of the two great Roman basilicas of St. Peter at the Vatican and of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls. The basilica of St. Peter stands on the site of the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, where stood Nero's circus. It was here that St. Peter was executed. St. Paul-outside-the-Walls, at the other end of the city, is built near where St. Paul was martyred.
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Today's feast is a spiritual journey to two holy tombs, that of St. Peter and that of St. Paul in Rome. These two basilicas, marking the place of each apostle's holy martyrdom, are the common heritage and glory of Christendom; it is, therefore, easily seen why the whole universal Church solemnly observes their dedication.

Abbot Herwegen makes the following observations on St. Peter's in Rome. The Eternal City has two principal churches, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's. Since ancient times the Lateran basilica, the mother of all churches on earth, has been the church proper to the bishop of Rome in his role as head of the local diocese. Here the Lenten season was commenced and the Easter liturgy solemnized.

The basilica of St. Peter, on the other hand, was the church of non-Romans, of pilgrims who journeyed to the city where the two great apostles were martyred. Here those celebrations were held which expressed the universal character of the Roman Church, e.g., Epiphany and the noon Mass on Christmas. The various Introits, Lessons, and chants of both these important feasts are best explained as proclaiming Christ's universal dominion His Kingship and His royal majesty.

The third lesson gives the history regarding the construction of the two basilicas. Among the holy places which the first Christians held in honor, those sites were especially dear where the bodies of holy martyrs lay. Great veneration was accorded that area of the Vatican Hill where the grave of St. Peter was located. From all lands Christians made pilgrimages to it as to the rock of faith and the foundation of the Church. In due time the legend arose that Emperor Constantine the Great, eight days after his baptism, took off his diadem, threw himself humbly upon the earth, and shed many tears. Then with pick and shovel he started digging and, in memory of the twelve apostles, carried away twelve baskets of ground. He thus set the boundaries of the basilica to be built in honor of St. Peter. When finished, the edifice was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I.

Pope Sylvester had ordered the altar to be of stone; he anointed it with chrism and decreed that in the future only stone altars were to be used. A new church, the present St. Peter's, was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on November 18, 1626. The ancient basilica of St. Paul was destroyed by fire in 1823; a new structure was consecrated by Pius IX on December 10, 1854, the occasion of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

In the perspective of the liturgy, the two churches honored today are prime examples connoting the heavenly Jerusalem. The liturgy excels in the pedagogy of passing from the material to the supernatural — the precedent for which on the point in question was already set by the author of the Apocalypse. Defend your Church, O Lord, by the protection of the holy Apostles, that, as she received from them the beginnings of her knowledge of things divine, so through them she may receive, even to the end of the world, an increase in heavenly grace. Amen.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.

Optional Memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Feast Day - November 18th 

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was born August 29, 1769, in Grenoble, France. She was the daughter of Pierre Francois Duchesne, a successful lawyer and a leader of the French Revolution and Rose Perier, an intelligent, practical, Christian woman. When Rose was twelve, she was sent to boarding school at Ste. Marie d’en Haut. Here she was educated by the Visitation nuns and drawn to their life of contemplation. She entered their congregation at the age of eighteen, but shortly thereafter, the Revolution in France forced the Nuns to disperse. Rose nursed prisoners, found shelter for orphans, and helped give food to the poor.

In December 1804, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart upon meeting Madeline Sophie Barat, the foundress of this Society. Often, during the next eleven years, Rose discussed with Mother Barat her long held dream of becoming a missionary to the American Indians in the New World. The Dream was ignited when Bishop Du Bourg visited the motherhouse in Paris to solicit the Nuns to establish schools for the Indians and French children in his diocese of St. Louis. Mother Barat gave consent to Rose, who pleaded on her knees for this mission.

On March 14, 1818, Rose left Bordeaux with four other nuns on the sailing vessel Rebecca which has an immortal place in the story of her life. The Atlantic crossing was a stormy and hazardous journey which lasted seventy days. Rose compared the noise, confusion, and terror to Judgment Day. Finally, on May 29, 1818, they anchored in New Orleans. After spending several months with the Ursulines, they sailed up the Mississippi on a steamboat to St. Louis, a trip which took 40 days.

Upon their arrival in St. Louis, they discovered Bishop Du Bourg had rented a frontier home for them in St. Charles which was a settlement of about 500 families. Here, Rose would in time open a school in a log cabin which was the first free school west of the Mississippi. The school at St. Charles did not meet with much success as parents were reluctant to send their children to school in this remote village. After a year at St. Charles, the Bishop moved them to Florissant where he assured them they would obtain students. Until their new house was ready for occupancy, the nuns and the five children with them lived on the Bishop’s farm in a log cabin more miserable than their home in St. Charles.

Progress was made at Florissant. Both a free school and a boarding school and later a novitiate were established. Life in these schools was much like that of the schools in France, although the future saint quickly realized that life on the American frontier was different from her one in Paris and exceptions had to be made. With an increase in the religious community, new schools were established in Grand Coteau, Louisiana in 1821, St. Michael’s in Louisiana in 1825, City House in St. Louis in 1827, and in 1828 St. Charles was reopened. Though her schools were prospering, the saint did not forget her desire to work among the Indians.

Finally, in June, 1841, at the age of seventy-one, she had the opportunity for real mission work with the Indians and went to serve the Potawatomi at Sugar Creek, Kansas. She was old, feeble, and unable to learn the language, but made an impression on the Potawatomi who named her "The Woman Who Prays Always". Frail health forced her to return to St. Charles where she spent her final days.

In her thirty-four years on the American frontier, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, in addition to teaching and administrative duties, undertook the hardest tasks that needed doing. She tended livestock, chopped wood, dug potatoes, mended shoes and clothing, nursed the sick, and ministered piously. She endured loneliness, yellow fever, and feelings of failure. Almighty God, who filled the heart of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, may you fill us with that same love and zeal to extend your Kingdom to all the ends of the earth.

Prayer for the Canonization of Fr. Solanus Casey

Solanus Casey

On the occasion of Father Solanus Casey's beatification, November 18, 2017, the following prayer for the canonization of this extraordinary Capuchin Franciscan priest and miracle worker may be recited for the cause of Blessed Casey and for one's own personal intentions. Blessed Father Solanus Casey, intercede for us.

Jesus, you made Fr. Solanus Casey an example
of humility, charity and selflessness.
He taught us that every human life
has value and dignity.
May we follow him in serving
the poor. the sick, the dying,
the despondent and the desperate.
Grant us, by his intercession,
and according to Your will,
the graces we implore...,
knowing that he will soon be
numbered among Your saints.

We ask this in Your name, 
through the intercession of Mary, 
Your Mother, Queen of heaven and earth. Amen.

Bl. Solanus Casey, you overcame adversity with humility in answering God’s call to the priesthood. May we, inspired by your example, persevere with equal love. 

November 16, 2017

Christ the King Novena 2017 | Day 1

Christ the King of the Universe

November 17, 2017

This novena is focused on letting God reign supreme, among all nations, among all people, and most especially within us. To start, we would like to pray for your personal intentions. If there is any one particular area of your life that you have given over to sin return it to God during this novena. Christ our King, pray for us.

Christ the King Novena Prayer - Day 1

Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship.

I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.

O Prince of Peace, may Your reign be complete in my life and in the life of the world. Christ, my King, please answer these petitions if they be in accordance with Your Holy Will…

[Mention your intentions here]

As I reflect on Your second, glorious coming and the judgment of all mankind, I beg You to show me mercy and give me the grace to become a great saint. I pray that not only will I spend eternity with You but that You may use me – a sinner – to bring others into Your Kingdom for Your glory.

Christ the King, Your Kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render Your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim Your praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns together with You, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God all powerful and loving, forever. Amen.

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Saint Gregory the Wonderworker on Humility

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker

Saint Gregory, the 3rd century bishop of Neocaesarea in Asia Minor, is usually remembered for his piety, pastoral wisdom and miracles. Known in his life as "Thaumaturgus", the wonderworker, he defended the doctrines of the Church against heretical attacks. Here he encourages all Christians to act with humility:
They who keep the commandment ought to keep it without any sordid covetousness, demanding neither recompense, nor reward, nor fee, nor anything else that bears the name of acknowledgment.
— St. Gregory Thaumaturgus 
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Prayer for St. Gregory the Wonderworker's Intercession

O holy Saint Gregory, confessor and priest of the Lord, I pray that you would intercede with God on my behalf, that, being purified from all vice, I may please Him in all things, and that He will grant me also the peace possessed by all His servants. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him be all glory and honor. Amen.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Her Life and Miracles

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Optional Memorial - November 16th 

There are people who make a lasting impact on the world even though their earthly lives are very short. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary or Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia was just such a person. Both a king’s daughter and a king’s wife, her love and care for the poor led her to be beloved by the common people during her life, and resulted in her canonization a mere four years after her death.

Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, was born in 1207. In 1221, at the age of 14, she married Louis IV of Thuringia (Germany), He ascended the Thuringian throne at the age of 16. Over the next six years Elizabeth would bear him three children. The couple were deeply in love and very devoted to each other. Louis fully supported his young wife in her spiritual life and in her prodigious efforts aiding the destitute. This included selling state treasures to assist the needy.

Tragically, in 1227, Louis died on the Sixth Crusade after promising Emperor Frederick II he would take up the cross and accompany him to the Holy Land. Elizabeth was devastated. When an uncle arranged a second marriage for her the following year, she fled to the city of Marburg where she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. There, she built a hospital for the indigent and the sick with money from her dowry. She continued to minister to the poor until her death in 1231.

Miracles attributed to her during her life and at her grave coupled with the love ordinary people felt for her led Pope Gregory IX to canonize her in 1235. Popular piety records two miracles of note. In the miracle of the roses, a young Elizabeth hides in her shawl food for the indigent from her family's' table. Upon entering the slums, she is met by her future husband (Louis) who inquires as to what she is hiding. Embarrassed, Elizabeth opens her mantle to reveal a bouquet of roses.

Another miracle associated with Elizabeth tells how she cared for the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her shocked mother-in-law, informed Louis on his return. When Louis unwrapped the bandages from the convalescing figure on the bed, "Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed."

Prayer for St. Elizabeth of Hungary's Intercession

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is the patron of Catholic charities and bakers. Almighty ever-loving God, by whose gift St. Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with all unfailing charity the needy and afflicted. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. St. Elizabeth, inspired by your example, may we duly love the Christ in others.

November 15, 2017

St. Gertrude the Great on the Merit of Suffering

Saint Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude the Great of Helfta was a 12th century German Benedictine nun, mystic and theologian. Graced with visions of Christ, her spiritual insights into mystical union with God, Purgatory, and the eternal value of suffering for our souls are a treasure for the Church. Here she speaks to the merit of suffering.
Bodily and spiritual affliction are the surest sign of Divine predilection. Gratitude for suffering is a precious jewel for our heavenly crown... Man should always firmly believe that God sends just that trial which is most beneficial for him.
— St. Gertrude the Great
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Prayer for St. Gertrude the Great's Intercession

O God, who prepared a delightful dwelling for yourself in the heart of the Virgin Saint Gertrude, graciously bring light, through her intercession, to the darkness of our hearts, that we may joyfully experience you present and at work within us always. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns together with you, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Christ the King Novena Begins November 17th

The Christ the King

This feast day was instituted by Pope Pius XI on December 11th, in 1925, within the encyclical letter Quas Primas. The Holy Father was responding to the fact that the world was becoming increasingly nationalistic and secular. Governments were claiming more and more allegiance from citizens and attempting to replace God.
While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights. – Quas Primas, 25
Pope Pius XI, therefore, created the feast of Christ the King to help the faithful to remember that our allegiance to Christ is above any allegiance to the government of a nation. Often, as society has grown increasingly secular, one pledges fidelity to ideas, ideologies or movements, in the hopes of fitting-in or winning favor:

"The faithful...by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God." Quas Primas, 33

It is particularly important to recognize the words of the encyclical in today’s climate of government intrusion on the Church. The pressures on Holy Mother Church and the faithful are becoming increasing increasingly maniacal and oppressive. Let us remain firm in our Faith and in imitation of Christ our King.

“When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power.” – Quas Primas, 31

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Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, November 19, 2017, Year A

The Parable of the talents

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut


If there is anybody here whose grandmother was (or is) a lousy cook, you may well be in a minority of one. Grandma’s (or Nana’s or Mémère’s or Nonna’s) cooking is the stuff of family memories and legends. No one cooks the way she did.

The “worthy wife” of the first reading is that kind of person. The text concludes, “Let her works praise her at the city gates.” The image here is a little foreign to us, so I’ll explain it briefly. In ancient times the city gates were the place where you were most likely to run into friends and catch up on the latest news and gossip. But when you spoke of “Mrs. Worthy,” you would be praising her, for her talents and her character, and everyone would think what a lucky man “Mr. Worthy” was.

In this context, you could reasonably take the “talents” of today’s parable to mean whatever you happen to be good at. That is not really so far off the mark, since that is the modern meaning of a word which in Jesus’ time meant an extremely large amount of money.

“Mrs. Worthy,” however, also helps us understand talents both as what you are good at, and as something that has significant value. I dare say many of you have talents that meet that criterion.

That said, the parable can’t really be just about developing our skills and using them well. That’s because the parable isn’t only about us. Yes, we can see ourselves as the “servants,” but there is also the “Master.” The parable is about both, about the relationship between them.

It’s especially the third servant, the one who hid his master’s money, that makes the point for us. His relationship toward the master was one of fear—not the abiding respect that is called “fear of the Lord,” one of the qualities we find in the worthy wife—but genuine craven fear. “I knew you were a demanding person,” he says, and so he chose not to take the risk of losing the one talent. The master had shown him, according to his abilities, equal trust with the other two servants; but he, the servant, apparently did not share his master’s trust in him.

The other two understood what was expected of them, and doubled their master’s money. Fear of the master did not paralyze them. On the contrary, they were highly motivated, perhaps because they anticipated some reward, or perhaps simply because they wished to please him.

Back to ourselves, we need to ask the same question. Not just, how can I best develop the talents have I been given, and use them? but, more importantly, why? St. Paul gives us one possible version of the answer: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night... Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do.”

The motivation is that we need to be ready when the Master returns, to give him an accounting of our stewardship. What we have received isn’t given to us only for ourselves. We are servants, after all, ideally eager to serve and anxious to show off how we have served.

Going back to Grandma’s cooking, what really made it so very special, after all? Secret spices? No. Fresh ingredients? No. Precise measurements? Certainly not!

It was the love, the same love that set the “worthy wife” apart, the same love that needs to set us apart as “good and faithful servants.”

The day came when Grandma wasn’t up to cooking any more. She minded that terribly, not because of the food, but because she could no longer demonstrate her love in that particular way.

When and if the time comes that we can no longer exercise the skills we have used in the Master’s service, we will lay down our various tools of the trade, and all that will be left is love. And the Master will still be well served, and well pleased.

Saint Margaret of Scotland, A Model of Virtue

Saint Margaret of Scotland

November 16th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland, also known as Margaret of Wessex. According to Divine Providence, a shipwreck near Scotland turned out to be good fortune for both that country and its monarch, because it brought the virtuous young woman to their shores. She proved to be a model mother and exemplary queen who worked hard to improve the morality of her subjects. St. Margaret is the secondary patroness of Scotland.

Margaret was born sometime around the year 1050, in Hungary, where her father was living in exile, and likewise spent her childhood there as an unusually devout and pious girl. While her birth date is uncertain, her lineage is unmistakable. The daughter of Princess Agatha of Hungary and Prince Edward Atheling, she was brought up in the court of her great uncle, Edward the Confessor, who was King of England. Her father died suddenly in 1057, the year they returned to England.

When William the Conqueror invaded that country in 1066, the family intended to flee to the continent to escape him.  A storm, however, drove their ship north to Scotland, where King Malcolm took them under his protection. It wasn’t long before Malcolm fell in love with the beautiful and gracious Margaret. The couple was married in 1070, and they had eight children, raised diligently in the Faith.

Although he had a good heart, King Malcolm — and indeed, many of his people — were rough in their manners. Margaret exuded such goodness and piety that they soon followed her example, and before long, the Scottish court was known for both its virtue and great civility. According to the Roman Breviary: "Her most remarkable virtue was love of neighbor, particularly love toward the poor. Her alms supported countless unfortunates; she provided food for three hundred and shared in the work of serving them washing their feet and kissing their wounds."

Already ill, St. Margaret died in 1093, four days after her husband and eldest son were killed in the Battle of Alnwick. Her death was occasioned by a life of near constant austerity and fasting. She was solemnly interred before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Almighty God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the destitute, grant that through her intercession and example we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

St. Gertrude the Great, German Mystic and Theologian


November 16th is the optional memorial of Saint Gertrude the Great. A 12th century Benedictine nun of the monastery of Helfta, in Saxony, she is regarded as one of the great mystics of the Middle Ages. Our Savior favored her with visions. Her book Revelations is her marvelous account of them. St. Gertrude introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart which, four centuries later, Saint Margaret Mary spread throughout the Church. She died at the beginning of the 13th century.

One of the most lovable German saints from medieval times, Gertrude, through her writings, will remain for all ages a guide to the interior life. She was born in 1256 at Eisleben and at the age of five taken to the convent at Rossdorf, where Gertrude of Hackeborn was abbess. Similarity in name has caused confusion between the two Gertrudes. St. Gertrude the Great never functioned as superior.

In spite of much ill-health, Gertrude used her exceptional natural talents well, such as her fluency in Latin. In 1281, when she was twenty-five years old, Our Lord began to appear to her and to disclose to her the secrets of mystical union. Obeying a divine wish, she recorded the graces bestowed upon her. Her most important work, Legatus Divinae Pietatis, "The Herald of Divine Love," is marked by theological profundity, sublime poetry, and great clarity. Reading it stimulates love of God. Abbot Blosius is said to have read it piously twelve times each year.

St. Gertrude died in 1302, more consumed by the fire of God's love than by fever. She is especially remembered for her devotion to the poor souls in Purgatory and her prayer on behalf of the Church Suffering (see below) O God, who prepared a delightful dwelling for yourself in the heart of the Virgin St. Gertrude, graciously bring light, through her intercession, to the darkness of our hearts, that we may joyfully experience you at work within us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer to Release Souls from Purgatory

Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great, that the following prayer would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners which would alleviate the indebtedness accrued to them:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. [Poor souls, upon attaining heaven, pray that I may also experience holy beatitude at the close of my earthly life.]

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.