Fifth Sunday after Easter—26 May AD 2019
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Thursday, 30 May AD 2019, is a Holy Day of Obligation
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
The Epistle and Gospel
read today provide us a pretty good summary of what we are to do to practice
our Catholic Faith. We are to “visit the fatherless and widows in their
tribulation,” to “keep ourselves unspotted from the world,” and “pray to the
Father in Jesus name.” None of these ideas should be new to us.
Saint James speaks of
“visiting” the widows and the orphans.
Obviously, he is speaking about all of the charitable acts that we ought to
perform—all of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy; feeding the
hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, burying the dead, teaching
the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, and so on. The opportunities for
doing good for our neighbors are just about limitless. Even in an affluent
nation such as ours there are many ways that we can help those around us.
Often enough it won't even cost any money, as there are plenty of people who
would benefit from a kind word, a smile, or a little bit of encouragement.
Saint James also speaks
about “keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.” Here again, he is
including a great many things in this brief phrase. Certainly, he means
that we should keep away from all of those “thou shalt nots” that we hear
about in the Commandments. But being “unspotted” implies a somewhat greater
degree of perfection than merely avoiding the serious sins. It suggests
that we should not be caught up in the things of the world. We have to make
our way of course; putting a roof over our heads and bread on the table—but
the material things in our lives ought to be less important than the
spiritual things. They ought to be a means to our salvation, rather than an
end in themselves.
The Gospel speaks of
And, perhaps, this element is the most important of the three. It is hard
to imagine anyone doing a very good job of loving his neighbor if he has
little or no love of God. It is hard to imagine how anyone could be
detached from worldly things if he is not attached to heavenly things.
More specifically, the
Gospel speaks of prayer in Jesus’ name: “If you ask the Father anything in
My name, He will give it to you.” Now, it shouldn't surprise anyone that
praying in Jesus’ name excludes a lot of the things that we might ask for.
Surely it excludes anything sinful and anything that would give us some
advantage at another person's expense or embarrassment. Praying in Jesus’
name excludes praying for the frivolous and vain things of the world—don't
be too surprised if your prayers for a fancy car or pretty clothes are
answered with a “no.” In fact, probably the best way to pray in the name of
our Lord is simply to ask God that we may humbly accept whatever He wills
for us here on earth, in order that we may one day share His happiness in
Prayer in Jesus’ name
ought not to be exclusively self-centered. Of course, we can and should ask
God for the things that will make our life on earth reasonably comfortable,
and for the things that will bring us to salvation. But prayer must go much
farther than that. It should always include adoration—telling God how
glorious He is. It should include thanksgiving for the favors He has
already granted us. It should beg forgiveness for the bad things we have
done in our lives.
And prayer ought to
include those around us—we ought to pray for the physical and spiritual
well-being of our friends and neighbors, of those in authority in the Church
and in the government. We ought to pray, in particular, for those who lack
God’s graces; either because they have never been exposed to the Faith or
because they have simply rejected it.
And finally, our
prayers should always include the dead; friends, relatives, and benefactors
again—all the souls in Purgatory—and particularly those who have no one to
pray for them. Who knows what souls languish in Purgatory with no one earth
to remember them in prayer or at Holy Mass?
So we have, today, this
simple summary of what we must do to practice our Catholic Faith: love of
neighbor, detachment from the world, and above all, prayer. The “collect”
of this Mass expresses it well: “O God, from whom all good things do
proceed, grant Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration we may
think those things that are right, and be moved by Thy grace to do them.”
Simply stated, we are
to “visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation,” to “keep
ourselves unspotted from the world,” and “pray to the Father in Jesus name.”