Sometimes Religious Superiors Make Good Decisions Even When They Don't Mean To.

The Seventh Friday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest.

Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:

• James 5: 9-12.
• Psalm 103: 1-4, 8-9, 11-12.
• Mark 10: 1-12.

Ember Friday of Pentecost.*

Lessons from the feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:

• Joel 2: 23-24, 26-27.
[The Gradual is omitted.]
[Sequence] Veni, Sancte Spiritus…**
• Luke 5: 17-26.

Pentecost Friday; and, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Thaleleus.

Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:

• Romans 2: 14-29.
• Matthew 5: 33-41.

8:19 AM 5/20/2016 — Today we are blessed to celebrate the Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, of whom we spoke way back in January, just after the Octave of Christmas, on the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. His full name was Bernardine Albizechi, and he was born in 1380 in Siena to a very noble family, but was known, even as a very young man, for his devotion to the Mother of God and for the poor: he spent a lot of time performing works of mercy and charity at the Santa Maria della Scala hospital in Siena. When he came to consider the religious life, he was led by God to choose the Franciscan order, in which he was known for his humility and patience, and in which he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood.
     He suffered from a speech impediment which afflicted him with a very weak and hoarse voice, so he was a little agitated when his superiors, following that long tradition of thoughtful administration that persists in religious life even today, decided that he should devote himself to preaching; but, being an obedient friar, he applied himself to the task, and found that, as a result of his obedience, God blessed him with a cure of this handicap, and he became a very effective preacher, traveling all over Italy which, at that time, had fallen into a condition of spiritual and moral decline. He fought against this by focusing many of his homilies on the Third Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20: 7 Douay-Rheims); not because cursing was, by any means, the worst problem Italy was facing at the time, but because he wisely saw that any effective campaign at spiritual reform needed some sort of emblematic focus to serve as a launching pad, and he found it by preaching that devotion which we know today as the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
     He was not a simple soul, but was a competent scholar quite versed in the Fathers of the Church, and took as an emblem for his preaching of the Holy Name an ancient monogram from the third century which appears to us to read “IHS.” You see it often on the covers of books and missals, and you often see it embroidered on liturgical vestments. In fact, these vestments I'm wearing now, which I typically wear only on Sundays and feasts, display this emblem, which is why I wore them today. Everyone recognizes the monogram, but a lot of people don't know what it means; they either think it stands for something in Latin, or else they come up with their own bizarre theories. It's really very simple: it's the first three letters of the name “Jesus” in Greek.
     Several times each day we pray the Hail Mary. It's official title, as you know, is the Angelic Salutation, and it comes from chapter one of Luke's Gospel, in which the angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin with the words: “Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1: 28 Knox). When it started to become popular as a prayer in the 11th century, the name of the Mother of God was inserted into it, and it started the take the form we know today: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui—“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” But it was Bernardine of Siena, as part of his preaching about the Most Holy Name, who first added the Holy Name of Jesus to the end of that sentence, which is how we pray the Hail Mary today.
     So, on his memorial today, let's include, in the intentions that each of us brings to this Holy Sacrifice, a prayer that the Most Holy Name of Jesus, so often used today in profane and godless ways, will be given the respect that the name of God deserves, so that the words of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Philippians might be fulfilled: “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” (2: 10-11 NABRE).

* In the extraordinary form, the Third Class Feast of St. Bernardine of Siena is suppressed in favor of the Octave of Pentecost. Cf. the note attached to the homily from last Wednesday for an explanation of the Ember Days.

** Cf. the homily for Pentecost Sunday for a translation of the Sequence.