August 5, 2020
Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 JER 31:1-7
At that time, says the LORD,
I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel,
and they shall be my people.
Thus says the LORD:
The people that escaped the sword
have found favor in the desert.
As Israel comes forward to be given his rest,
the LORD appears to him from afar:
With age-old love I have loved you;
so I have kept my mercy toward you.
Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin Israel;
Carrying your festive tambourines,
you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits.
Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will call out on Mount Ephraim:
“Rise up, let us go to Zion,
to the LORD, our God.”
For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.
Responsorial Psalm JER 31:10, 11-12, 13
R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Alleluia LK 7:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MT 15:21-28
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.
For the readings of the Optional Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Catechism of the Catholic Church
64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts. The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. the purest figure among them is Mary.
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5TH Mt. 15:21-28 A Canaanite woman called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
- The Canaanite woman’s prayer is quite perfect. She acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah, in contrast to the disbelief of many Jews! She expresses her need simply, “Have pity on me, Lord. My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Refusing to be discouraged by either His silence or His objections, she perseveres, “Lord, help me.”
- Jesus finally points out, “It is not right to take the food of the children (those of the house of Israel) and throw it to the dogs.” He says this not to humiliate her, but to show the depth of her humility!
- “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Humility is the precursor of faith, she sees the infinite value of even the crumbs that fall from the hand of Jesus!
- We also bring our petitions to Jesus for our family members. Certainly health of mind and body is important and worthy of petition, especially in this time of the Pandemic. However, for the very same reason, isn’t our eternal salvation and theirs of the greatest importance. Thomas Kempis in The Imitation of Christ says, “It is not important to have a long life, but a holy life.”
- Knowing this, we too call out to Jesus, “Have pity on me, Lord, my spouse, or son, daughter or grandchild, or brother or sister is away from the Church.” We have prayed, maybe for many years, beseeching the Lord with tears and pleas, with sacrifices and sufferings, for their conversion.
- How often our spiritual sight dims and we become discouraged. We don’t realize that not a single prayer, tear or sigh is lost! No sacrifice or suffering overlooked. Jesus sees them all and the fullness of heart from which they flow. Only He knows the propitious time for a soul to turn to Him.
- It takes faith and humility to pray… but it takes even greater faith and greater humility to believe that we are heard! Didn’t Jesus say, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Mt. 7: 7-8)
- St. Monica was disheartened and discouraged after years of praying for her wayward son. When she followed Augustine to Milan, she sought the counsel of Bishop Ambrose. His advice, “Talk less to Augustine about God, and more to God about Augustine!”
- As a result, the Church gained two great Saints! For the graces that flowed from the ardent prayers, sacrifices and sufferings of Monica were her salvation as well as Augustine’s. Less well known is that Monica’s prayers converted not only her son, but her pagan husband and gossipy mother-in-law too! Lesson? Our good God cannot be outdone in generosity!
- Let us beg for the grace to persevere in talking to God about those we love who have lost their way, offering our prayers, sacrifices and suffering with great confidence in His grace and infinite mercy! However, let us not stop there! Let us determine to save as many souls as possible! As our model let us take Saint Jacinta Marto!
EXCERPT: JACINTA MARTO: PEARL OF GREAT PRICE! By Father Ed Broom, OMV
For the sake of brevity we would like to focus on what we believe to be the so called “Conversion” of Jacinta Marto. Indeed, we can now call her Saint Jacinta Marto, because she was canonized, with her older brother Francisco, on May 13, 2017 by Pope Francis—among the youngest saints in the Church Calendar!
By nature Jacinta was extroverted, joyful, exhilarant, expansive, playful as well as competitive, a lover of dance, and simply a lover of life! In a word, she was a typical good little girl, somewhat prayerful, a good daughter, and a good sister. However, there was nothing really extraordinary about her person and nature until something happened that radically transformed her life forever!
YEAR 1916. In the year 1916, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, all of them shepherds, had a visitation by an angel, actually three times. This angel taught them how to pray, what to say in prayer, and a posture in prayer—that of prostration!
YEAR 1917. May 13 of the following year 1917, the three children were visited by the woman dressed in white; it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady would actually appear to them six times in total, culminating in October with the great miracle of the sun witnessed by more than 70, 000 people!
CONVERSION. One of the highlights and key notes of the preaching of Jesus, Saint John the Baptist, as well as Saint Peter in his Pentecost discourse, is the call to conversion. “Be converted, the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15) was actually the first words we have of Jesus in His Public ministry. There are two forms of conversion—the radical conversion of Saint Matthew who left all to follow Christ, as well as Saul of Tarsus who encountered Christ on the road to Damascus. Then there is the slow and painful process of conversion that we all have to work at on a daily basis.
RADICAL CONVERSION OF JACINTA MARTO. Basically Jacinta was a good girl all of her life. However, there was a specific event that happened to her, as well as to her brother Francisco and cousin Lucia, that would leave an indelible mark on Jacinta’s soul and radically transform her total life. When and what happened to change this little girl’s life? It was during the third apparition of Our Lady on July 13, 1917. In this most powerful apparition, Our Lady revealed to these three little shepherd children a graphic vision of HELL. Our Lady opened up her hands and it was as if the earth opened its mouth. The children could see what appeared to be a lake or even sea of immense fire. In it they could see the damned souls—some were transparent, others bronze, still others brown, and finally some were pitch black. Many souls seemed to be floating without any equilibrium, like balloons blown by the wind with no anchoring. Also, the children perceived hideous animals that were transpiercing the souls; these were the devils. In addition to this, the children could hear the cries of despair of the damned souls. This graphic and Dantesque vision of hell seen by the children never left their memories and would move them to acts of heroic virtue in the realm of sacrifice. One more note: the children said they would have died of fear if the Blessed Virgin were not present there with them. However, the Blessed Virgin Mary wanted them to experience this vision, as well as the world at large! Why? From this came conversion!
JACINTA’S CONVERSION. From that moment on Jacinta Marto would never be the same. Indeed, it was this graphic and unforgettable vision of hell on July 13, 1917 that would change her heart, her actions, and her life in its totality. Saint Pope John Paul II, in the beatification process of Jacinta and Francisco on May 13, 2000, gave them each a specific title which really exemplified the essence of their charisms, indeed the essence of their sanctity. The Pontiff called Francisco “A Little Mystic”. Whereas Jacinta he called “A Little Victim Soul”. What then is this so called “victim soul”? Such a soul offers themself to God in order to generously offer sacrifices, as well as to accept the sufferings sent by God, primarily for the purpose of souls: the conversion of poor sinners and the salvation of their immortal souls. Saint Padre Pio, Saint Therese, Josefa Menendez —all of these were victim souls. Therefore, after the vision of hell viewed by Jacinta with Francisco and Lucia, Jacinta was imbued and permeated with an insatiable desire to save souls, especially poor sinners from the horrendous but all too real place of hell.
The Catholic Church has always taught that any person who dies unrepentant in the state of mortal sin is condemned to the chastisement of hell and for all eternity. Indeed, the only one to blame is that soul himself for having chosen of his free will to commit mortal sin, live in mortal sin, and die unrepentant in mortal sin! Jacinta Marto could not forget the pain, the suffering, the anguish, the despair of those many souls that she saw in this apparent sea of fire, tortured at the same time by the many hideous devils. This graphic vision shown to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary would move Jacinta to the practice of heroic virtue in the realm of sacrifice. Let us now look into the many sacrifices undertaken by this “Little Victim Soul”, Saint Jacinta Marto.
THE HEROIC SACRIFICES OF JACINTA: A MOTIVATION FOR ALL OF US!!! Jacinta Marto had no formal education; she could neither read nor write. Her First Communion was given through the hands of an angel from heaven in 1916. She had no degree in theology and only knew the basics of her catechism. However, she had two excellent teachers who would lift her up to the heights of holiness in a very quick period of a little more than two years. Who were these teachers? The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. Let us summarily outline the sacrifices of this little shepherd girl.
1. One of the favorite past times of Jacinta was to dance; she simply loved to dance. For the sake of the salvation of souls, Jacinta willingly gave up dancing for the rest of her life!
2. Jacinta’s favorite food was the luscious and sweet grapes of the Portuguese hills and vineyards. Indeed, she loved to eat these grapes. Once again, like the dancing, she decided that she would give up these grapes, and in place of them, eat the bitter herbs and nuts from the field—a huge sacrifice. All of this done to save souls from the fires of hell!
3. She wore her normal, modest clothes. However, Jacinta, as well as Francisco and Lucia, made a hidden sacrifice that was seen by God alone and it was the ROPE. Beneath their clothes they fastened a rope around their waists. This caused them considerable discomfort during the course of the day. Our Lady told them to take it off at night so that they could at least have a good night’s repose.
4. Upon their way to the fields where they would tend their sheep, the three children would often bump into poorer children who had barely anything at all to eat. The three children would willingly offer their lunches to the poor children to eat, and thereby suffer hunger themselves during the course of the day. Why? For this simple reason, to bar the gates of hell for many poor sinners!
5. Climate: Heat! They would tend the sheep in the midst of the summer and offer up the heat. Hell, of course, is much worse, and it is forever and ever and ever!
6. On one occasion, in the middle of summer, the heat and humidity were so intense that the children were almost dying of thirst. Therefore, Lucia went to a nearby household and asked for water. She was given a pitcher of water to share with Francisco and Jacinta. When Lucia arrived with the water, the two decided that they would prefer to suffer the heat and humidity rather than drink the refreshing water. Why? Once again this sacrifice could be offered for the sake of the conversion of poor sinners, so that they would be saved from the eternal fires of hell. Consequently, Lucia poured the water onto the ground. All of them went thirsty. They had a greater thirst for the eternal salvation of immortal souls; like Jesus, who cried out on the cross: I THIRST!
7. In the same context, Jacinta could hear the crickets sounding and her head was pounding, and she started to complain. Francisco quickly intervened and reminded her that she could offer even her headache up as a sacrifice for the conversion and salvation of poor sinners. Jacinta quickly stopped complaining and did as her brother suggested!
8. Eventually the crowds would come and pester the children with interminable questions about what they saw and heard. Once again Jacinta would offer this suffering as a sacrifice for the salvation of souls.
9. Rosary in its totality. Early on the three children would obey their parents and pray the Rosary, however, in an abbreviated fashion, in which they would just say the first two words of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, so that they could proceed to their play as soon as possible. After the graphic and unforgettable vision of hell and the damned sinners, not only did the children pray the whole Rosary, but they prayed many Rosaries during the course of the day. Indeed, such was the love and thirst that the children had, but especially Jacinta, to collaborate with God in the salvation of immortal souls!
10. Sickness and Death. Our Lady asked the children if they would be willing to suffer and sacrifice for souls for God. The spokesperson, Lucia, responded with a generous YES for herself and in the name of the other two. This suffering and sacrifice would result in the early deaths of both Francisco, who died first, and then Jacinta. One of the most painful elements of the death of little Jacinta was the fact that she basically died alone. The hospital was distant from her parents’ home and they could not make it easily to this destination. Therefore, in the last days and the last hours of the death of this little Victim Soul, she died alone without the presence of any of her family members. This calls to mind one of the last words of Jesus as He hung upon the cross: “My God, My God, why hast thou abandoned me?” (Mt 27:46) To a limited degree, Jesus shared with this heroic child a part of His bitter passion. In a certain sense we can say that Jacinta went through the dark night of the soul as she suffered in the hospital, distant from all her loved ones. All to save immortal souls!
Copyright 2020 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA