Monday of the Thirty–Fourth Week of the Year II
Revelation 14:1–3, 4b–5
Psalm 23:1–2, 3–4ab, 5–6 (R. 6)
Prayer for the Holy Father
Thousands have taken to the streets in Turkey to protest the apostolic journey of the Holy Father to that country. Threats to his security are rising. Yesterday in his Angelus message the Holy Father asked for our prayers. This is what he said: “With confidence, I wish to follow in the footsteps of my venerated predecessors, Paul VI and John XXIII, and I invoke the heavenly protection of Blessed John XXIII, who for ten years was apostolic delegate in Turkey and felt great affection and esteem for that nation. I ask all of you to accompany me with prayer so that this pilgrimage may bring all the fruits willed by God.” It is crucial that we pray for the Holy Father, not only individually and privately, but also corporately and publicly during the coming days.
The Sights and Sounds of Heaven
In the First Reading, Saint John continues to gaze into the mysteries of heaven. He sees the Lamb and, all around the Lamb, those who bear “His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Ap 14:1). Not only does Saint John see the sights of heaven, he also hears the sounds of heaven: “And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters” (Ap 14:2). He hears the “new song” that is sung before the throne of God by the choir of the elect.
John the Virgin Disciple of the Lord
To John, the virgin disciple of the Lord and the virgin son by adoption of the Virgin Mother, it is given to understand the beauty of chastity. The chaste are those “who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Ap 14:4). The companions of the Lamb are distinguished by the radiance of their purity: a purity preserved by a special gift of grace, or a purity recovered by a gift of repentance.
Saint Benedict has but two words on chastity in the entire Holy Rule. Whereas other monastic rules treat of chastity at great length, Saint Benedict says simply and succinctly: Castitatem amare, to love chastity. Those two words say all that needs to be said on the subject. There is nothing negative here; no stifling prohibitions and no minute regulations. Saint Benedict’s approach is entirely positive. He presents chastity as beautiful; it is this that makes it worthy of love. Virtue, you see — all virtue — is a participation in the beauty, the truth, and the goodness of God. Saint Benedict understands that one who loves the beauty of chastity will rise to a higher love: the love of the beauty that shines on the Face of Christ.
The Generation That Seeks Your Face
It is this that explains the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm: “Lord, this is the generation that seeks your Face” (Ps 23:6). Who shall live in the intimacy of the Lamb? “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false” (Ps 23:4). Purity of heart is akin to singleheartedness. If you would be pure of heart, seek one thing only: seek always the Face of the Lord. His all–sufficient grace will do all the rest.
The Widow Who Gave All
Today’s Gospel gives us a model of purity of heart: the poor widow who gave all that she had. She is singlehearted in her gift. She holds nothing back for herself. In the gift of her two copper coins, all that she had to live on, she is an image of that other widow, the Virgin Mother who gave all that she had when she placed the lifeless Body and Blood of her Son in the cold tomb. Jesus was the life of Mary’s life. In placing the Body of Jesus in the tomb, she “put in all the living she had” (Lk 21:4). Virginal chastity makes the full gift of self possible, and the full gift of self is the perfection of virginal chastity.
O Mary Conceived Without Sin
In Paris today is the feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal of the rue du Bac. If you would follow the injunction of Saint Benedict to love chastity — castitatem amare — seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, all–holy, all–pure, all–beautiful. It is the Blessed Virgin’s joy to keep those who trust in her beneath her virginal mantle and to deep within their hearts the love of chastity. Repeat the invocation given to Saint Catherine Labouré: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” And then, rejoice in hope, for all who call on the Virgin Mary will most assuredly find themselves one day in the company of those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.