|Youth is Wasted on the Young.
The Twenty-Fifth Saturday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday.
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiastes 11: 9—12: 8.
• Psalm 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17.
• Luke 9: 43-45.
When a Mass for the memorial is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or any lessons from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Ember Saturday of the Holy Cross; and, the Commemoration of Our Lady of Ransom.*
Lessons from the feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Leviticus 23: 26-31.
• [Gradual] Psalm 78: 9-10.
• Hebrews 9: 2-12.
• [Tract] Psalm 116: 1-2.
• Luke 13: 6-17.
• Leviticus 23: 39-43.
• [Gradual] Psalm 83: 10, 9.
• Micah 7: 14, 16, 18-20.
• [Gradual] Psalm 89: 31, 1.
• Zechariah 8: 14-19.
• [Gradual] Psalm 140: 2.
• Daniel 3: 47-56.
The Eighteenth Saturday after Pentecost; and, the Feast of the Holy Martyr, First Among Women & Equal to the Apostles, Thecla.**
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 15: 58—16: 3.
• II Timothy 3: 10-15.
• Luke 4: 31-36.
• Matthew 25: 1-13.
7:47 AM 9/24/2016 — When I offered to you some reflections on the Bible’s wisdom literature, principally the two books from which we have been reading this week in our first lessons—Proverbs and Ecclesiastes—I had maligned them in a sense for being included in the Bible for extraneous reasons, inasmuch as they are little more than a collection of sayings amounting to not much more than home-spun wisdom; but, the passage we read in today’s first lesson from Ecclesiastes is one to which many of us can relate. Qoheleth, whom I pointed out to you before is not the author of this book but it’s editor, concludes the book with an editorial comment which is at the same time true and poignant: a beautiful expression of his appreciation for the sweetness of youth and an admonition that we should enjoy life to the full while we have it, always remembering God’s judgment.
It’s curious that he should reflect in this way, given that the Jews of his time had no refined notion of an afterlife, and wouldn’t until the advent of the Pharisees only some sixty years or so before the birth of our Lord; nevertheless, here it is. It’s therefore understandable that he doesn’t say much about this judgment, but which he is clearly associating with death. We relate to it because many of us here are in that last stage of our lives: we’ve had all the new experiences we’re going to have—for the most part—and the next new thing we have to look forward to is leaving this world for the next. For a person of faith that’s not a bad thing, but it makes us reflective and retrospective—at least it does me—and we can share Qoheleth’s sadness over the fact that life is so short, and there’s so much we stand to leave behind.
At the same time, he writes also to the young, reproaching them to remember that, while they are enjoying the joys of their youth, God is the source of that joy. From there he goes on to give his more youthful readers an extremely moving description of what they have to look forward to, obviously based on his own personal experience: when eyes grow weak, arms and legs lose their strength, teeth become few, hearing deteriorates, digestion becomes a problem, and a person gets to fearing heights and busy streets; all of these he describes in florid allegory. I don’t know about you, but I could swear this part of the book was written personally to me; I’ve got every one of those problems.
Dómine, refúgium factus es nobis, a generatióne in generatiónem. That’s the response we all just gave to today’s Psalm: “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.” And Msgr. Knox’s translation of today’s Psalm, while a bit more flowery than the translation given in the Missal, speaks to people of my age very profoundly, but should speak to the young as well:
What is our span of days? Seventy years it lasts, eighty years, if lusty folk we be; for the more part, toil and frustration; years that vanish in a moment, and we are gone. Alas, that so few heed thy vengeance, measure thy anger by the reverence we owe thee! Teach us to count every passing day, till our hearts find wisdom (Psalm 90: 10-12 Knox).
Thus, Qoheleth ends this book of sayings he has edited exactly where it began, which we read Thursday last:
Vanity of vanities … all things are vanity! What profit has a man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays (Eccl. 1: 2-4 RM3).
But he doesn’t say it in sadness: it’s simply an acknowledgment of what is, and a reminder to all of us that, no matter what trials, crosses, sufferings, frustrations, questions, tortures, turmoils and the like that come our way in this valley of tears, all that matters in the end are those things that make the difference between heaven and hell, between eternal life and eternal damnation. May God grant to all of us the grace to be able to discern the difference, and grant us the peace of mind that comes from filtering out everything else.
* The Mother of God, by repeated visions, inspired Saint Peter Nolasco and Saint Raymund of Pennafort, with the aid of King James of Aragon, to establish the Order of Our Lady of Ransom during the time of the Crusades, to assist in ransoming Christian captives from the infidels. Because today is an Ember Day, a Mass for the commemoration is not permitted, and the commemoration is made only at Lauds. The number of lessons for today's Mass is consistant with an Ember Saturday. Cf. a footnote in yesterday's post for an explanation of the Ember Days.
** Thecla was converted to the Faith by the Blessed Apostle Paul. Several attempts by the Emperor Nero to kill her all failed, and she died after a life of solitary retirement at the age of 90. She was commemorated yesterday in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite; there is no observance of her in the ordinary form.