Birgitt Hacker
Birgitt Hacker
Pastoral Associate of Adult Faith Formation & Ministries

Daily Readings

May 27, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I Acts 18:9-18

One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision,
“Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.
No one will attack and harm you,
for I have many people in this city.”
He settled there for a year and a half
and taught the word of God among them.

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,
the Jews rose up together against Paul
and brought him to the tribunal, saying,
“This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.”
When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews,
“If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud,
I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews;
but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles
and your own law, see to it yourselves.
I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.”
And he drove them away from the tribunal.
They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official,
and beat him in full view of the tribunal.
But none of this was of concern to Gallio.

Paul remained for quite some time,
and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria,
together with Priscilla and Aquila.
At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.

Responsorial Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R.        (8a)  God is king of all the earth.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
            shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
            is the great king over all the earth.
R.        God is king of all the earth.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
He brings people under us;
            nations under our feet.
He chooses for us our inheritance,
            the glory of Jacob, whom he loves.
R.        God is king of all the earth.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
            the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
            sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R.        God is king of all the earth.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia See Lk 24:46, 26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

May 26, 2022 - 4:30am

Ascension

Weekday (Saint Philip Neri)

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

May 26, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R Alleluia.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
            shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
            is the great king over all the earth.
R God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:  a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R Alleluia.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
            the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
            sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:  a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R Alleluia.
For king of all the earth is God;
            sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
            God sits upon his holy throne.
R God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:  a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R Alleluia.

Reading II Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might:
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

OR:

Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that men and women die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since through the blood of Jesus
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary
by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil,
that is, his flesh,
and since we have "a great priest over the house of God,"
let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope,
for he who made the promise is trustworthy.

Alleluia Mt 28:19a, 20b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

May 26, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I Acts 18:1-8

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus,
who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade,
stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue,
attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia,
Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word,
testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
When they opposed him and reviled him,
he shook out his garments and said to them,
“Your blood be on your heads!
I am clear of responsibility.
From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
So he left there and went to a house
belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God;
his house was next to a synagogue.
Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord
along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians
who heard believed and were baptized.

Responsorial Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R.        (see 2b)  The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:       
R.        Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
            for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
            his holy arm.
R.        The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
            in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
            toward the house of Israel.
R.        The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth have seen
            the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
            break into song; sing praise.
R.        The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia See Jn 14:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“A little while and you will no longer see me,
and again a little while later and you will see me.”
So some of his disciples said to one another,
“What does this mean that he is saying to us,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me,’
and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks?
We do not know what he means.”
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them,
“Are you discussing with one another what I said,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me’?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

May 25, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I Acts 17:15, 22—18:1

After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens,
they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy
to join him as soon as possible.

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:
“You Athenians, I see that in every respect
you are very religious.
For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines,
I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’
What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and all that is in it,
the Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,
nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.
Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.
He made from one the whole human race
to dwell on the entire surface of the earth,
and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,
so that people might seek God,
even perhaps grope for him and find him,
though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’
as even some of your poets have said,
‘For we too are his offspring.’
Since therefore we are the offspring of God,
we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image
fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.
God has overlooked the times of ignorance,
but now he demands that all people everywhere repent
because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world
with justice’ through a man he has appointed,
and he has provided confirmation for all
by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead,
some began to scoff, but others said,
“We should like to hear you on this some other time.”
And so Paul left them.
But some did join him, and became believers.
Among them were Dionysius,
a member of the Court of the Areopagus,
a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.
 

Responsorial Psalm 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14

R.        Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
            praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels;
            praise him, all you his hosts.
R.        Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Let the kings of the earth and all peoples,
            the princes and all the judges of the earth,
Young men too, and maidens,
            old men and boys.
R.        Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Praise the name of the LORD,
            for his name alone is exalted;
His majesty is above earth and heaven.
R.        Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
He has lifted up the horn of his people;
Be this his praise from all his faithful ones,
            from the children of Israel, the people close to him.
            Alleluia.
R.        Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 14:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will ask the Father
and he will give you another Advocate
to be with you always.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Saint of the Day

May 27, 2022 - 4:44am
St. Augustine of Canterbury

Feast date: May 27

An Italian Benedictine monk who became the “Apostle of the English,” Saint Augustine of Canterbury is honored by the Catholic Church on May 27.

Under the direction of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Augustine founded the famous See of Canterbury and preached the Catholic faith to the country's Anglo-Saxon pagans during the late sixth and early seventh centuries.

He is not be confused with the earlier St. Augustine of Hippo, the famous author of the “Confessions” and “City of God.”

Augustine's date of birth cannot be established, nor are any details of his early life known. Most likely born in Rome to a noble family, he entered monastic life as a young man. The community he joined had been recently founded by a Benedictine monk named Gregory, who would go on to become Pope and eventually be known as St. Gregory the Great. The friendship between Gregory and Augustine had great historical consequences, as it was the Pope who would eventually send his fellow monk to evangelize England.

Around 595, five years into his 14-year pontificate, Pope Gregory set to work on a plan for the conversion of the English people. The Catholic faith had already been preached and accepted among England's original Celtic inhabitants in earlier times, but from the mid-fifth century onward, the country was dominated by Anglo-Saxon invaders who did not accept Christianity, and were not converted by the small number of isolated Celtic Christian holdouts. Thus, England largely had to be evangelized anew.

For this task the Pope chose a group of around forty monks – including Augustine, who was to represent the delegation and communicate on its behalf. Though he was not explicitly chosen as its leader at that time, that was the role he ended up taking on with Gregory’s support. The group left for England in June 596, but some of the missionaries lost their nerve after hearing fearsome reports about the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine ended up returning to Rome, where he got further advice and support from the Pope.

Persuaded to continue on their way, the missionary-monks reached their port of departure and set sail for England in spring of 597. After arriving they gained an audience with King Ethelbert of Kent, a pagan ruler whose Frankish wife Queen Bertha was a Christian. Speaking with the king through an interpreter, Augustine gave a powerful and straightforward presentation of the Gospel message, speaking of Christ’s redemption of the world and his offer of eternal life.

Ethelbert would later convert, and eventually even be canonized as a Saint. But his initial response to Augustine’s preaching was only mildly positive: he would receive the missionaries with hospitality, and permit them to evangelize without any restriction. Despite his early ambivalence, however, the king became a generous patron of the monks. They made their home in Canterbury, after dramatically entering the city in procession with the Cross and an image of Christ.

The Canterbury community lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict, as they had in Italy, but they also preached in the surrounding area in accordance with their mission. Augustine and his companions succeeded in converting King Ethelbert himself, while Queen Bertha also became more zealous in her practice of the faith after her husband’s baptism. Augustine traveled to Gaul, where he was consecrated as a bishop for the English Church. By Christmas of 597, over ten thousand people were actively seeking baptism from the missionaries.

Through his written correspondence, Pope Gregory continued to guide the work of Augustine – the first Archbishop of Canterbury – and the other Catholic missionaries. The great Pope, and the “Apostle of England,” would both die during the same year, 604.

Though Augustine had not managed to sort out some disagreements with the native Celtic bishops, he had given the faith a firm foothold among the Anglo-Saxons. Canterbury would continue on for centuries as the ranking see of English Catholicism, until its fall into schism during the 16th century.
May 26, 2022 - 2:24pm
St. Philip Neri

Feast date: May 26

Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. At the age of 18, Philip was sent to his uncle, Romolo, a wealthy merchant at San Germano, a Neapolitan town near the base of Monte Cassino, to assist him in his business, and with the hope that he might inherit his uncle's fortune. He gained Romolo's confidence and affection, but soon after coming to San Germano Philip had a religious conversion. From then onward, he no longer cared for things of the world, and decided in 1533 to live in Rome.

While in Rome, he studied philosphy and theology, and tutored young boys. Eventually Philip became bored of learning, so he sold all of his books, gave the money he received from them to the poor, and visited the sick under the guidance of the Augustinians.

Later, he co-founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity and began to preach, and many people converted thanks to Philip's preaching and example. He was ordained in 1551.

Many people came to him for confession. He also began to work with youth. Pope Gregory XIV wanted to make Philip a cardinal, but the priest declined.

He then founded the Congregation of the Oratory, also known as the Oratorians, dedicated to preaching and teaching, and they still exist today.

He died May 27, 1595, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. He is the patron of Rome and the U.S. Army Special Forces.

May 25, 2022 - 10:24am
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Feast date: May 25

On May 25, the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, an Italian noblewoman of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries who became a Carmelite nun distinguished for her intense prayer life and devotion to frequent Holy Communion.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI marked the 400th anniversary of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi’s death in a letter to the Archbishop of Florence, her birthplace. He described her as “a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.”

“May the great mystic,” the Pope wrote, “still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.”

Born on April 2, 1566, the future “Mary Magdalene” was given the name of Caterina at the time of her birth. She was the only daughter of her parents, who both came from prominent families. Caterina was drawn to the Holy Eucharist from a young age, and she resolved to serve God as a consecrated virgin shortly after receiving her First Communion at age 10.

Late in the year 1582 she entered a strictly traditional Carmelite monastery, where Holy Communion was – unusually for the time period – administered daily. Receiving her religious habit the next year, she took the name of Mary Magdalene.

From March to May of 1584, Mary became seriously ill and was thought to be in danger of death. On May 27 of that year she made her religious vows while lying sick upon a pallet. Her recovery marked the start of an extended mystical experience, which lasted 40 days and involved extraordinary experiences taken down by her religious sisters in a set of manuscripts.

Mary served the monastery in a series of teaching and supervisory positions, while also contributing to her community through manual work. Her fellow Carmelites respected her strict sense of discipline, which was accompanied by profound charity and practical wisdom. Her experiences of suffering and temptation helped her to guide and inspire others.

Extraordinary spiritual occurrences were a frequent feature of this Carmelite nun’s life, to a much greater degree than is typical in the tradition of Catholic mysticism. Many of her experiences of God were documented by others in her community, although Mary herself disliked the attention and would seemingly have preferred for these events to remain private.

She did wish, however, to call attention to God’s love, which she saw as tragically underappreciated and unreciprocated by mankind. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is remembered for making dramatic gestures – running through the halls of her monastery, or ringing its bells at night – while proclaiming the urgent need for all people to awaken to God’s love, and respond in kind.

Her earthly life came to an end on May 25, 1607, after an excruciating illness lasting nearly three years. Pope Clement IX canonized St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi in 1669.
May 25, 2022 - 10:24am
Pope St. Gregory VII

Feast date: May 25

On May 25 the Catholic Church celebrates Pope St. Gregory VII, who sought to reform the Church and secure its freedom against the intrusion of civil rulers during his 11th century pontificate.

Born in the Italian region of Tuscany sometime between 1020 and 1025, the future Pope Gregory VII was originally named Hildebrand. His father Bonzio is thought to have been a carpenter or peasant farmer, while his mother's name is unknown. His uncle Laurentius was abbot of a monastery in Rome.

Sent to the school run by his uncle's monastery, Hildebrand entered a world of discipline and fervent devotion. After his primary education, he entered religious life as a monk. Hildebrand served as chaplain to his mentor John Gratian who had a brief and turbulent reign as Pope Gregory VI.

In 1046 Hildebrand left Rome for Cologne along with Gratian, who was forced to leave Rome and resign from the Papacy. After the former Pope's death in 1047, Hildebrand left for France and spent more than a year in the monastery at Cluny.

During 1049 he made the acquaintance of Bruno of Toul, who would soon become Pope Leo IX. Under his reign, Hildebrand was put in charge of a historic monastery, which he rescued from structural and administrative ruin through a series of reforms.

Hildebrand served Leo IX as an adviser and legate until the Pope's death in 1054. While others considered him a possible successor to Leo, Hildebrand did not wish to be elected, though he continued his work as an influential and respected cardinal during several subsequent pontificates.

In April 1073, Hildebrand was finally elected as Pope Gregory VII. Though he still did not want the office, his electors praised him as “a devout man … mighty in human and divine knowledge, a distinguished lover of equity and justice, a man firm in adversity and temperate in prosperity.”

Overwhelming challenges confronted the new Pope – including scandalous corruption among the clergy, a hardening schism between the churches of Rome and Constantinople, and a struggle against civil rulers who claimed a right to choose the Church's clergy and control its properties.

In March of 1074 Gregory promulgated a sweeping set of reforming decrees. These met with widespread opposition, but the Pope stood his ground. The resulting standoff pitted him against the German Emperor Henry IV, who sought to depose the Pope when threatened with excommunication.

The Pope carried out his threat and declared that the emperor's subjects were no longer bound to obey him as their ruler. The emperor was forced, in 1077, to come before the Pope as a penitent, spending three days waiting in the snow before he was received and given the conditions of his reconciliation.

Though temporarily reconciled, Henry was excommunicated for later attacks, which included supporting a rival Pope and invading Rome. Gregory never gave up his pontificate, but was forced to flee the city in 1084.

“I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile,” he proclaimed, just before his death in Salerno on May 25, 1085. Remembered as a champion of the Church's freedom against state intrusion, St. Gregory VII was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1728. 

May 25, 2022 - 10:24am
St. Bede the Venerable

Feast date: May 25

The Catholic Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede on May 25. The English priest, monk, and scholar is sometimes known as “the Venerable Bede” for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance.

Bede was born during 673 near the English town of Jarrow. His parents sent him at a young age to study at a monastery founded by a Benedictine abbot who would later be canonized in his own right as St. Benedict Biscop. The abbot's extensive library may have sparked an early curiosity in the boy, who would grow up to be a voracious reader and prolific writer.

Later, Bede returned to Jarrow and continued his studies with an abbot named Ceolfrid, who was a companion of St. Benedict Biscop. The abbot and a group of other monks instructed Bede not only in scripture and theology, but also in sacred music, poetry and the Greek language.

Bede's tutors could see that his life demonstrated a remarkable devotion to prayer and study, and Ceolfrid made the decision to have him ordained a deacon when he was 19. Another Benedictine monk and future saint, the bishop John of Beverley, ordained Bede in 691.

He studied for 11 more years before entering the priesthood at the age of 30, around the beginning of the eighth century. Afterward, Bede took on the responsibility of celebrating daily Mass for the members of his Benedictine community, while also working on farming, baking, and other works of the monastery.

As a monk, Bede gave absolute priority to prayer, fasting and charitable hospitality. He regarded all other works as valueless without the love of God and one's neighbor. However, Bede also possessed astounding intellectual gifts, which he used to survey and master a wide range of subjects according to an all-encompassing vision of Christian scholarship.

Bede declined a request to become abbot of his monastery. Instead, he concentrated on writing, and produced more than 45 books –  primarily about theology and the Bible, but also on science, literature, and history. He also taught hundreds of students at the monastery and its school, which became renowned throughout Britain.

During Bede's own lifetime, his spiritual and intellectual gifts garnered wide recognition. His writings on scripture were considered so authoritative that a Church council ordered them to be publicly read in English churches. Some of the most illustrious members of English society made pilgrimages to his monastery to seek his guidance, and he was personally invited to Rome by Pope Sergius.

Bede, however, was unfazed by these honors. Perhaps inspired by the Benedictine monastic ethos, which emphasizes one's absolute commitment to the monastic community, he chose not to visit Rome, or to travel any significant distance beyond the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul in Jarrow, during his entire adult life.

Instead, the world came to him – through the visitors he received, according to the Benedictine tradition of hospitality, and through his voluminous reading. And Bede, in turn, reached the world without leaving his monastery, writing books that were copied with reverence for centuries and still read today. He is one of the last Western Christian writers to be numbered among the Church Fathers.

But Bede understood that love, rather than learning, was his life's purpose. “It is better,” he famously said, “to be a stupid and uneducated brother who, working at the good things he knows, merits life in heaven, than to be one who –  though being distinguished for his learning in the Scriptures, or even holding the place of a teacher – lacks the bread of love."

Bede died on the vigil of the feast of the Ascension of Christ in 735, shortly after finishing an Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospel of John. Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1899.

 

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