|Sorry to Invalidate Everything You Learned in School, but Galileo Was Wrong.
The Twenty-Fouth Saturday of Ordinary Time; the Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine, Bishop & Doctor of the Church; or, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday.
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• I Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49 .
• Psalm 56: 10-14.
• Luke 4-15.
If the memorial of the Doctor is observed, ferial lessons as above, or from the proper:
• Wisdom 7: 7-10, 15-16.
• Psalm 19: 8-11.
• Matthew 7: 21-29.
…or, any lessons from the common of Pastors for a Bishop, or the common of Doctors of the Church.
If the memorial of the Blessed Virgin is observed, ferial lessons as above, or any lessons from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Fourth Class Feria of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday; and, the Commemoration of the Imprinting of the Holy Stigmata on the Body of Saint Francis, Confessor.*
Lessons from the common "Salva sancta parens…" of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 24: 14-16.
• [Gradual] Benedicta et venerábilis es…**
• Luke 11: 27-28.
If a Mass for the commemoration is taken, lessons from the proper:
• Galatians 6: 14-18.
• Psalm 36: 30-31.
• Matthew 16: 24-27.
The Seventeenth Saturday after Pentecost; a Postfestive Day of the Exaltation; and, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Sophia & Her Three Children, Faith, Hope & Charity.***
Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 1: 26-29.
• John 8: 21-30.
8:51 AM 9/17/2016 — While we typically observe the memorial of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday whenever it's permitted, we're not doing so today in order to pay tribute to a man who is—and always will be—one of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church, Saint Robert Bellermine. Born in Tuscany, and at one time the Cardinal-Archbishop of Capua, Bellermine was a brilliant Jesuit scholar, preacher and apologist of the Catholic Faith during the Counter Reformation, refuting many of the heresies of Protestantism. As prefect of the Holy Office, he was instrumental in implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent. His condemnation of Galileo was correct and true, based not on any disagreement with the astronomer's theories, but rather Galileo's mental illness and lack of charity, to this day misrepresented in every treatment of the affair. Galileo, being one of the most disturbed and hate-filled individuals who ever lived, was treated very leniently by Bellermine considering the astronomer's lack of charity and vulgarity, and does not deserve the accolades offered to him today; and, anyone who thinks the Church was wrong in censoring him is ignorant of the facts of the case. Bellermine, a man filled with love and charity to the poor and oppressed, went to his well-deserved eternal reward in 1621, and is rightly regarded as one of the greatest saints of the Church. So much for that.
Today's Gospel lesson shouldn't require any explanation given that our our Blessed Lord, in a rare display of candor, explains the parable fsfor us. The sower is Himself, the seed He sows is the word of God, and the earth into which the seed falls is us; the message of the parable being that the word of God will only take root and bare fruit in us if we are prepared to receive it with a generous and well disposed heart. And our Lord even enumerates some of the things that can prevent that from happening: greed, lust, preoccupation with worldly things, and so forth.
Last year, when we looked at this parable, we reviewed our basic catechism on how the grace of the Sacraments operates: a person doesn't automatically get into heaven because he has been baptized, he doesn't automatically remain faithful in his marriage simply because he's received a sacrament uniting him to his wife, a priest isn't automatically holy simply because he's been ordained, and even the absolution we receive in confession isn't valid unless it's accompanied by a genuine desire to change. The Sacraments are not magic. A sacrament given to someone without faith is like a seed which is given no water or sunlight. It doesn’t grow just because you put it in the dirt; without these other necessary conditions, it just sits there and rots.
And I'm not telling you anything you don't know; that's why so many of us find ourselves concerned and disturbed about all this talk going around about divorced and remarried people and whether they should be admitted to Holy Communion. With all due respect to our Holy Father, it's not going to happen, because it can't. The necessity of being in the State of Grace to receive worthily is divinely revealed teaching; it can't be changed even by the Pope. Yet, you're also smart enough to know that unworthy communions happen all the time, and not always for reasons of sin, but because of a simple lack of faith. You can drag someone into church and make them march up to receive Communion, but if they don’t believe, they receive no grace. The Eucharist is real, certainly; but, the grace the Eucharist promises us does not activate, because there is no faith to feed it.
And, as obvious as all of this is, sometimes it's helpful to remind ourselves of certain things just to avoid the temptation of believing ourselves to be completely alone in our appreciation for sound doctrine. Baptism isn't a welcoming into the community of faith; it's a cleansing of original sin and a restoration of Sanctifying Grace. Confession isn't counseling and emotional reconciliation; it's absolution from our sins. Marriage isn't a celebration of love; it's the sacramental ratification of a covenant between two people and their God, authorizing them to cooperate with Him in the mystery of creation. A funeral is not a form of theatrical grief counseling; it's a prayer to speed the soul on its journey and keep it safe until the final resurrection. And the Blessed Eucharist is not a meal of fellowship; it's the sacrifice of Calvary made present to us through a reenactment of the actions and words of our Lord at the Last Supper. The Sacraments of the Church were not instituted by Christ and given to us as forms of therapy; they are not meant to heal us emotionally, but to save our souls.
Every day the Lord sows His seed in our lives. When we come to Holy Mass, He sows the seed of his grace in His word and in the Holy Mystery of his Body and Blood. Whether that grace does us any good depends entirely on what kind of soil we have provided in our hearts and in our lives. And this is exactly what our Lord is talking about in the parable. The seed is good. The soil is us. And the seed, in order to grow, not only has to fall into good soil, but must then be watered and cultivated with care every day. Growing in our relationship with God is a daily effort. The seed must be watered with prayer and grace, and the plant that grows must be frequently pruned and trimmed with sacrifice and mortification so that it will grow strong and tall.
* Two years before his death, while at prayer on Mount Alvernia, St. Francis of Assisi was rapt in contemplation and received in his own body the impressions of the sacred wounds of Christ. Pope Benedict XI ordered the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis to be obseved on this date, and Pope Paul V extended it to the universal Church.
** The Gradual is non-Scriptural: "Blessed and venerable art Thou, O Virgin Mary: Who without blemish to Thy maidenhood, wert found to be the Mother of the Saviour. O Virgin, Mother of God, He Whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed Himself in Thy womb and became Man."
*** Sophia (which means "Wisdom") and her three daughters were martyred in Rome, probably under Emperor Hadrian (117-138).