Can You Forgive Yourself?

The Seventeenth Thursday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop; or, the Memorial of Saint Julian Eymard, Priest.*

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

• Jeremiah 18: 1-6.
• Psalm 146: 1-6.
• Matthew 13: 47-53.

If a Mass for Saint Eusebius is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:

• I John 5: 1-5.
• Psalm 89: 2-5, 21-22, 25, 27.
• Matthew 5: 1-12.

…or, any lessons from the common of Pastors for a Bishop.

If a Mass for Saint Eymard is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:

• Acts 4: 22-35.
• Psalm 34: 2-11.
• John 15:-8.

…or, any lessons from the common of Holy Men and Women for Religious; or, the common of Pastors for One Pastor.

The Third Class Feast of Saint Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor of the Church; and, the Commemoration of Saint Stephen I, Pope & Martyr.**

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

• II Timothy 2: 1-7.
• Psalm 118: 52-53.
• Luke 10: 1-9.

If a Mass for the commemoration is taken, lessons from the common "Si díligis me…" for One or Several Holy Popes:

• I Peter 5: 1-4, 10-11.
• Psalm 106: 32, 31.
• Matthew 16: 13-19.

9:04 AM 8/2/2018 — One of the most difficult challenges to souls seeking perfection is finding a way to combat the disease of discouragement. While our spiritual journeys are all different, the one constant we all share in the Interior Life is failure; and, the prophet Jeremiah speaks directly to this problem in our first lesson, reminding us that the secret to improving in our relationship to the Lord is recognizing that progress in this regard is—and I’ve mentioned this to you before—not a matter of effort, but one of surrender. Today the prophet uses the image of clay in the hands of a potter.
     When I was a kid my parents sent me to summer camp in Southern Maryland for the bulk of the summer, and one of the activities was pottery. My first pottery project was supposed to be an ash tray, but ended up looking nothing like an ash tray. Of course, I was no more than twelve years old at the time. But what the prophet tells us today is a very important lesson:

So I went to the potter’s house, and found him working at his wheel; just then, the thing of clay he was a-fashioning broke in his hands, and he, as the whim took him, turned it into another thing of clay. Then it was the Lord’s word came to me: You are in my hands, men of Israel, as the clay in the potter’s; why may I not do as the potter did? (18: 3-6 Knox).

     That’s Msgr. Knox’s translation of the relevant verses. And the lesson is prescient: we place ourselves in the hands of God each day, and try our best to please him. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, because we are human and share a fallen nature. And when we fail in our desire to please our Lord, why should we not simply trust our Lord to pick up the pieces and use them again? The secret, if you want to call it that, is to realize that our fidelity to the Gospel is the result of us letting go and letting God take over, rather than some sort of misguided heroic exercise in moral willpower. Of course, I’m a spiritual son of Father Frederick William Faber, a late English Victorian priest whose spiritual writings are not in vogue today, and who was condemned in his own time for making salvation to easy, even though everything he wrote and preached was full of sound philosophy and theology. I hope I can tell you more about him in the future, as it explains a lot about me and my own spirituality, especially for those of you who have come to me for confession.
     You will have noticed today that I chose to do the orations for Saint Peter Julian Eymard, whose optional memorial is today. He was the founder of the Priest-Adorers of the Holy Eucharist and the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament. In my last assignment, as rector of the Blue Army Shrine, I had a first class relic of Saint Eymard displayed in the chapel there. Born in 1811, he founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, today numbering some 875 members. In 1858 he founded the Servants of Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative community of nuns; and, is the founding father of what we know today as the Eucharistic Congress. Let us pray to him today that we may deepen our love for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Tomorrow being First Friday, we will expose the Blessed Sacrament after the morning Mass; maybe we can honor Saint Eymard by spending some time in quiet prayer with our Blessed Lord.

* A courageous defender of the Faith against the Arian Heresy, Eusebius was tortured and exiled. He is regarded as the first bishop in the West to unite the clerical and monastic vocations, dying in 371.
  Born in La Mure, France, Eymard (1811-1868) became a priest in 1835 and joined the Marists in 1840. He fostered Eucharistic Adoration and founded the Priest-Adorers of the Holy Eucharist and the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, today numbering about 900 members. In 1858 he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative order of women. He was instrumental in establishing the custom of the International Eucharistic Congress.

** Born a Neapolitan nobleman, Liguori renounced all earthly things and established the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer to preach the Gospel to the poor. Known for his preaching and writing, he reluctantly accepted the bishopric of Saint Agatha in sounthern Italy, but returned to his congregation and died in 1787.
  Pope Saint Stephen I was beheaded just as he was finishing Holy Mass, seated on his Episcopal chair in the catacombs in 257.