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Tuesday of Holy Week: Commentary from the Church Fathers

The Gospel reading for Tuesday of Holy Week is John 13:21–33, 36–38 (open the daily reading in the Verbum web app). How do the Fathers of the Church read the Gospel?

It is no light question, brethren, that meets us in the Gospel of the blessed John, when he says: “When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” Was it for this reason that Jesus was troubled, not in flesh, but in spirit, that He was now about to say, “One of you shall betray me”? Did this occur then for the first time to His mind, or was it at that moment suddenly revealed to Him for the first time, and so troubled Him by the startling novelty of so great a calamity? Was it not a little before that He was using these words, “He that eateth bread with me will lift up his heel against me”? And had He not also, previously to that, said, “And ye are clean, but not all”? where the evangelist added, “For He knew who should betray Him:” to whom also on a still earlier occasion He had pointed in the words, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Why is it, then, that He “was now troubled in spirit,” when “He testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me”? Was it because now He had so to mark him out, that he should no longer remain concealed among the rest, but be separated from the others, that therefore “He was troubled in spirit”? Or was it because now the traitor himself was on the eve of departing to bring those Jews to whom he was to betray the Lord, that He was troubled by the imminency of His passion, the closeness of the danger, and the swooping hand of the traitor, whose resolution was foreknown? For some such cause it certainly was that Jesus “was troubled in spirit,” as when He said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.” And accordingly, just as then His soul was troubled as the hour of His passion approached; so now also, as Judas was on the point of going and coming, and the atrocious villainy of the traitor neared its accomplishment, “He was troubled in spirit.”

St. Augustine – Homilies on the Gospel of John

His being troubled in spirit, was the human part, suffering under the excess of the spiritual. For if every Saint lives, acts, and suffers in the spirit, how much more is this true of Jesus, the Rewarder of Saints.

Origen

Next, dearly beloved, as John the Evangelist says, when the Lord “handed over bread that had been dipped” to his betrayer as a clear sign, the devil seized on Judas completely. He now possessed, in the act of his wickedness, the one whom before he had shackled with evil thoughts. While [Judas] reclined with the others at table only with respect to his body, in his mind he was arming the hatred of priests, the lies of witnesses, and the rage of ignorant people. When the Lord saw what infamy Judas was intent upon, he said, “What you are doing, do quickly.” This was the word not of one commanding, but allowing; not of one in fear, but of one prepared. The Lord had power over all time but showed himself as allowing no delay for the traitor and as carrying out his Father’s will for the redemption of the world, so that he neither forced nor feared the crime prepared by his persecutors.

Pope St. Leo the Great

Next, since He had delivered these injunctions to them because they were about to traverse the whole world, upon reflecting that the traitor would be deprived of both these advantages and would enjoy the benefit of neither of them—neither of patient endurance in his trials nor of the services of persons extending him hospitality—Christ was once more troubled. It was to reveal this, and to make it clear that He was troubled on account of the traitor, that the Evangelist added: ‘When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit and said solemnly, “One of you will betray me.” ’ Once again He struck them all with terror by not mentioning the traitor by name. Moreover, some were in doubt, even though they were conscious of no wrong-doing, for they considered Christ’s statement more to be trusted than their own reason. And that is why they looked at one another. Therefore, by limiting the entire matter of His betrayal to one man He reduced their fear, but by adding ‘One of you’ He disturbed them all.

St. John Chrysostom – Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist: Homilies 48–88

Three Readings for Palm Sunday

Jesus’ Death is part of the mystery of God’s unfolding plan. The Salvation the Lord offers us isn’t always realized in the situations of this life; sometimes our deliverance from the forces that oppose and oppress us occurs in the Resurrection. Nonetheless, this prayer helps us to find meaning in our suffering, to have confidence in our trials, and to re-affirm our faith when things don’t go our way by remembering that God is in ultimate control. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we end by asking that we not be led into temptation and that we be delivered from evil. The temptation we most want to avoid is that of believing that God has abandoned us, God hates us, or that God doesn’t care about us. When we pray to be delivered from evil, we are not praying to be preserved from it (that is unrealistic in a world infected by sin) but that we will not be overcome by it; that means we pray for perseverance, deliverance, vindication, and salvation from the evil situations we endure.

Come Follow Me: Discipleship Reflections on the Sunday Gospel Readings for Liturgical Year

What a heady beginning to the Passover festivities this day seemed to be for the apostles. It started out with this unexpected triumphant moment, when all their secret ambitions of glory and fame seemed to be coming true. Jesus rode into Jerusalem amidst the acclamation and praise of the people, the crowds going wild. Though the apostles had listened to the teaching of the Master about humility and the last place, the roots of ambitious excitement die hard. In fact, just listening to Jesus’ teaching wasn’t enough. Their ambitions would only die with his own death, when they would be hiding together in a dark closet somewhere, hoping to escape with their lives… In the journey we fall and are forgiven, fall again and are forgiven again. In the journey we discover that the cross does not have the last word, and never will. We are not people of the cross, but people of the resurrection!

Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections

What God would not permit His Scriptures to pass over in silence, we too may not pass over in silence. And you shall listen to it. Our Lord’s passion, as we know, happened but once; Christ died once, the just for the unjust. And we know, we possess it as certain and hold with unshakable faith, that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, and death shall no more have dominion over Him. These are the Apostle’s words. Yet, for fear we should forget what occurred but once, it is re-enacted every year for us to remember. Does Christ die as often as the celebration of Easter comes round? No; the yearly remembrance brings before our eyes, in a way, what once happened long ago and stirs in us the same emotions as if we beheld our Lord hanging upon the cross; not in mockery, of course, but as believers. For as He hung on the tree He was mocked; seated in heaven He is worshiped. Or rather, is He not still being mocked, though now our anger is not directed against the Jews, who at any rate derided Him as He was dying, not when He was reigning? And who is there that even today derides Christ? Would there were but one, would there were but two, would they could be numbered! All the chaff of His own threshing floor mocks Him, and the wheat groans to witness its Lord insulted. I would groan over it with you; indeed, it is the season for mourning. We are celebrating our Lord’s passion; it is the season for sighing and weeping, the season for making confession and supplication. Yet who among us is capable of shedding tears in proportion to such immense sorrow?

St. Augustine on the Psalms, Vol. 1

St. Augustine Reads St. Matthew

Fra Angelico – The Conversion of St. Augustine

This week in the lectionary we read from the 11th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. The chapter focuses on John the Baptist. Here St. Augustine explains Christ’s teaching in Matthew 11:25-27, which follows right after Christ’s description of John’s prophecy.

We have heard the Son of God saying, I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth. What doth he confess to Him? Wherein doth he praise Him? Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Who are the wise and prudent? Who the babes? What hath He hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes? By the wise and prudent, He signifieth those of whom St. Paul speaks; Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? Yet perhaps thou still askest who they are. They are they peradventure who in their much disputation concerning God, have spoken falsely of Him; who, puffed up by their own doctrines, could in no wise find out and know God, and who for the God whose substance is incomprehensible and invisible, have thought the air and sky to be God, or the sun to be God, or any thing which holds high place among the creatures to be God. For observing the grandeur and beauty and powers of the creatures, they rested in them, and found not the Creator.

St. Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament (A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and West; Oxford; London 1844–1845)

Leave the “Begats” Behind: Why You Should Read Augustine in New Translations

Understanding the Church means learning from the Church Fathers. And the best way to learn from the Church Fathers is to read them for yourself.

But what versions should you read—the older, better-known translations, or the new, easier-to-read ones? [Read more…]

Superb Catholic Diversity in One Collection

This month only, get 30% off the Eerdmans Catholic Collection (48 vols.) in the Publisher Spotlight on Eerdmans.

Here are four reasons you’ll want to get this fantastic collection today: [Read more…]

Last Chance to Get St. Augustine’s City of God for Free!

St. Augustine’s The City of God is a true Christian classic. It is perhaps one of the most profound treatises on Christianity and government. In The City of God, St. Augustine envisions Christianity as a spiritual force, which should preoccupy itself with the heavenly city—the New Jerusalem—rather than on earthly municipal and state affairs.

If The City of God is not in your library, it should be. And since the first seven books are free this month, now’s the perfect time to add this philosophical and political masterpiece to your Verbum library and enjoy the benefits of reading the text with integrated Verbum functionality. [Read more…]

Snag Individual Church Father Volumes for $9.99 Each

The Church Fathers—great leaders of the first 400 years of the Church—were our first theologians and pastors. And far from being dry or boring, their writings are a vibrant wellspring of wisdom, knowledge, and truth.

These giants of the early Christian faith remain some of the most authoritative men in all of Church history. Their writings may be centuries old, but their truths are timeless and applicable. [Read more…]

Get City of God for Free, Plus 2 More Volumes for under $5

This month, you can get Saint Augustine: The City of God, Books I–VII  for free plus two more volumes from the Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.) for less than $5! Throughout June, we’re sharing excerpts from Saint Augustine: The City of God to give you a preview of the thoughtful and thought-provoking literary treatise you can expect from this month’s free book.

Today’s excerpt comes from The City of God by St. Augustine: [Read more…]

The Church and Technology, Part II

To better understand the Church’s position on technology, let’s turn to a apostolic letter from Pope John Paul II in 2005:

To those working in communication, especially to believers involved in this important field of society, I extend the invitation which, from the beginning of my ministry as Pastor of the Universal Church, I have wished to express to the entire world “Do not be afraid!”

Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank ‘among the marvelous things’ – inter mirifica  which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom. (On the Rapid Development of Technology, To Those Responsible for Communications)

It’s worth noting that the Church has, not surprisingly, been thinking and discussing technology for many decades! John Paul II begins his apostolic letter, quoted above, with a reference to a decree from Vatican II December 4, 1963 Inter Mirifica, in which Pope Paul VI stated:

“Man’s genius has with God’s help produced marvelous technical inventions from creation, especially in our times. The Church, our mother, is particularly interested in those which directly touch man’s spirit and which have opened up new avenues of easy communication of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientations.”

So, we can proceed with confidence into the new frontiers of technology.

At Verbum, we are committed to providing the highest quality Catholic resources in the world. Our powerful software and an extensive library, in the words of St. Augustine, informs and delights believers as they learn more about their faith.

St. Augustine’s City of God on the sacrifice of the Mass

Today’s guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, a Logos copywriter.

Verbum makes it easy to compare texts and perform theological and ecclesiological studies across the history of the Church. Since today is the Feast of St. Augustine, let’s take a journey through the history of our faith by way of his writings. In this journey, I’m curious to see how the “sacrifice of praise” from our Mass is echoed throughout Augustinian ideas. Let’s stick with his City of God or we could easily be here all day.

Book XVII of the City of God presents Augustine’s take on Jewish history as a prefiguration of Christianity. Augustine analyzes two orders of Old Testament priesthood (Melchisedech vs. Aaron) and draws the conclusion that Melchisedech’s priesthood was a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ in his own sacrifice (by extension, also the sacrifice of the Mass). He goes further, exploring the priesthood of all believers, and how this priesthood offers up a sacrifice of praise:

Therefore, this short and simple and soul-saving expression of faith, ‘Put me, I beseech thee, to somewhat of thy priestly office, that I may eat a morsel of bread,’ is itself the ‘piece of silver,’ [read: praise] because it is brief and is the word of the Lord Himself dwelling in the believer’s heart. Earlier in the text He had said that He had given the house of Aaron food from the Old Testament victims: ‘I gave to thy father’s house for food of all the fiery sacrifices of the children of Israel’—that is, of the Jewish sacrifices. Accordingly, at this point, He said: ‘That I may eat a morsel of bread,’ for this is the sacrifice of Christians in the New Testament.

In the previous paragraphs, Augustine mentions that the order of Aaron has dissolved away and the order of Melchisedech has been perfected and translated into Christ’s priesthood, culminating in the consecration of himself as the Eucharist. In fact, his whole argument is to the fulfillment of the prophecy in 1 Kings 2:27-36 of the ending of the priesthood of Aaron while yet retaining a priesthood of an eternal order.

The Prophet’s concluding clause, ‘that I may eat a morsel of bread,’ (1 Kings 2:27-36) succinctly depicts the very species of the sacrifice in question, the same of which the Priest Himself said: ‘The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ (John 6:51) It is this sacrifice and no other. Let the reader understand, then, the sacrifice according to the order of Melchisedech, not any sacrifice according to the order of Aaron.

Let’s be clear: the “morsel of bread” is indeed a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, but the sentiment, “Put me, I beseech thee, to … thy priestly office, that I may eat…” is the foreshadowing of our sacrifice of praise, our desire to commune with God and to join with him in his Paschal sacrifice. Did Augustine come up with this idea on his own? I wouldn’t think so. Origen echoed this sentiment barely a few centuries before Augustine.

Hear what Peter says about the faithful: You are ‘an elect race, royal, priestly, a holy nation, a chosen people.’ Therefore, you have a priesthood because you are ‘a priestly nation,’ and for this reason ‘you ought to offer an offering of praise to God,’ an offering of prayers, an offering of mercy, an offering of purity, an offering of justice, an offering of holiness. (Homilies on Leviticus 1-16, Hom. 9.1.3)

And well over a thousand years later, Vatican II brings it full-circle:

[The people] should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all. (Sancrosanctum Concilium 48, emphasis mine)

This is why, in the Mass, sometimes referred to as the “sacrifice of praise,” the priest prays in the Eucharistic prayers, “Remember, Lord, your servants, N. and N., and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them…”

For a short time, you can get a library of St. Augustine’s writings on sale with coupon code AUGUSTINE14. This offer ends September 1, so don’t miss out!

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