Today, 30 September 2019, the 1600th Anniversary of the death of St Jerome, Pope Francis announced and instated via his Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time to be the “Sunday of the Word of God” in order to promote a closer relationship with holy Scripture and its dissemination in the world.
“A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but, rather, a yearlong event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord,”
May the Sunday of the Word of God help his people to grow in religious and intimate familiarity with the sacred Scriptures. For as the sacred author taught of old: “This word is very near to you ,it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance” (Dt 30:14).
Given in Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on 30 September 2019, the liturgical Memorial of Saint Jerome, on the inauguration of the 1600thanniversary of his death.
Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio of the Holy Father Francis, “Aperuit illis”, instituting the Sunday of the Word of God, 30.09.2019
Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary – Day Three – 30 September
Day Three – We Pray for the Priesthood and Consecrated Life
and our personal intention:
To Our most holy Mother.
To you do we pray first with heartfelt thanks
for those who have said YES to the Father.
Help them to trust in you and your son, Jesus,
in all the challenges that they face.
Teach them patience in all things
and to accept all that happens
and when it happens, in God’s time.
We join them in total consecration to you.
Reclaim us all as you own
and mould us in all ways necessary
to conform to God’s will.
We love you, Mother Mary,
Help us all!
Daily Prayer along with our Daily Rosary:
My dearest Mother Mary, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet.
Accept this Holy Rosary, which I offer you in accordance with your requests at Fatima, as a proof of my tender love for you, for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in atonement for the offences committed against your Immaculate Heart and for this special favour which I earnestly request in my Rosary Novena: ………………………….. (Mention your request).
I beg you to present my petition to your Divine Son.
If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused.
I know, dearest Mother, that you want me
to seek God’s holy Will concerning my request.
If what I ask for should not be granted,
pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.
I offer you this spiritual Bouquet of Roses because I love you.
I put all my confidence in you,
since your prayers before God are most powerful.
For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus,
your loving Son, hear and grant my prayer.
Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.
Our Lady of the Rosary,
pray for our Holy Mother Church
and for our country.
Our Lady of Fatima,
obtain for humanity a lasting peace.
Sweet Heart of Jesus,
be my love.
Sweet Heart of Mary,
at the hour of my death,
lead me home.
Thought for the Day – 30 September – The Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest, Father and Doctor of the Church (347-419)
Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ
Saint Jerome of Bethlehem
Priest and Great Western Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his Commentary on Isaiah
“I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ – search the Scriptures and seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what He said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists – How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle – Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me.
No-one should think, that I mean to explain, the entire subject matter of this great book of Scripture, in one brief sermon, since it contains all the mysteries of the Lord. It prophesies that Emmanuel is to be born of a virgin and accomplish marvellous works and signs. It predicts His death, burial and resurrection from the dead as the Saviour of all men. I need say nothing about the natural sciences, ethics and logic. Whatever is proper to holy Scripture, whatever can be expressed in human language and understood by the human mind, is contained in the book of Isaiah. Of these mysteries the author himself testifies when he writes – You will be given a vision of all things, like words in a sealed scroll. When they give the writings to a wise man, they will say – Read this. And he will reply: I cannot, for it is sealed. And when the scroll is given to an uneducated man and he is told: Read this, he will reply: I do not know how to read.
Should this argument appear weak to anyone, let him listen to the Apostle – Let two or three prophets speak and let others interpret, if, however, a revelation should come to one of those who are seated there, let the first one be quiet. How can they be silent, since it depends on the Spirit who speaks through His prophets whether they remain silent or speak? If they understood what they were saying, all things would be full of wisdom and knowledge. But it was not the air vibrating with the human voice that reached their ears but rather, it was God speaking within the soul of the prophets, just as another prophet says: It is an angel who spoke in me and again, Crying out in our hearts, Abba, Father and I shall listen to what the Lord God says within me.”
One Minute Reflection – 30 September – Monday of the Twenty Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 9:46–50 and The Memorial of St Gregory the Illuminator (c 257 – c 331)
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me and whoever receives me, receives him who sent me, for he who is least among you all, is the one who is great.” … Luke 9:48
REFLECTION – “The passion and lust of pride attacked some of the holy apostles. The mere argument about who of them was the greatest is the mark of an ambitious person, eager to stand at the head of the rest. Christ, who did not sleep, knows how to deliver. He saw this thought in the disciple’s mind, springing up, in the words of Scripture, like some bitter plant. He saw the weeds, the work of the wicked sower. Before it grew up tall, struck its root down deep, grew strong and took possession of the heart, He tears up the evil by the very root. In what way does the Physician of souls amputate pride’s passion? How does He deliver the beloved disciple from being the prey of the enemy and from a thing hateful to God and man? “He took a child,” it says, “and set it by him.” He made the event a means of benefiting both the holy apostles themselves and us their successors. This illness, as a rule, preys upon all those who are in any respect superior to other people.
What kind of type and representation did He make the child He had taken? He made the child a representation of an innocent and humble life. The mind of a child is empty of fraud and his heart is sincere. His thoughts are simple. He does not covet rank and does not know what is meant by one man being higher than another is. Christ brought forward the child as a pattern of simplicity and innocence and set him by Him. He showed him as in an object lesson, that He accepts and loves those who are like the child. He thinks they are worthy of standing at His side, as being like-minded with Him and anxious to walk in His steps.” … St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on Luke, Homily 54
PRAYER – Dear and Holy God, let us offer You all our daily struggles against sin and evil. Grant us the strength to resist all forms of idolatry, to seek only You and never to allow the honour of this world to seduce us. Sustain us ever more with Your word and help us to find in it, the source of life. May the Prayers of St Gregory the Illuminator, help us on the path of holiness. We ask this through Jesus our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 30 September – Monday of the Twenty Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and The Memorial of St Jerome (347-419) Father and Doctor of the Church
O Lord, show Your mercy to me By St Jerome (347-419)
O Lord, show Your mercy to me
and gladden my heart.
I am like the man on the way to Jericho
who was overtaken by robbers,
wounded and left for dead.
O Good Samaritan,
come to my aid.
I am like the sheep that went astray.
O Good Shepherd,
seek me out and bring me home
in accord with Your will.
Let me dwell in Your house
all the days of my life
and praise You for ever and ever
with those who are there.
Saint of the Day – 30 September – Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c 257 – c 331) – “Apostle to Armenia” and “Father of Armenia”- Bishop, First Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Missionary, Wonder-worker – born Grigor Lusavorich in c 257 and died in c 331 of natural causes. Also known as Gregory the Enlightener. Patronage – Armenia.
The life of Saint Gregory was first recounted in a biography dating to c 460 and the more or less contemporary History of the Armenians by Agathangelos. The saint’s was born in and around Parthia between 239 to 257. He was the son of Anak Partev the Parthian, who, being in the pay of the rival Sasanian Empire in Persia (224-651), infamously murdered the Armenian king Khosrov of Kadj. The Lusavorich family was both wealthy and influential but they were all wiped out by the revenging relatives of Khosrov. Fortunately for Gregory, he, the sole survivor of the purge, was whisked away by his nanny to the safety of Cappadoccia.
Gregory was raised as a Christian and attended a Greek Christian school. On returning to Armenia, Gregory gained a position as a palace functionary at the court of the Armenian king. There he protested the pagan religion of the period and refused to participate in its rites. The reigning monarch was Tiridates IV (Trdat III or IV), or Tiridates the Great as he would become known and he had the troublesome Gregory imprisoned, tortured and thrown into the terrible Khor Virap prison at Artashat. Known as the “pit of oblivion,” nobody ever returned from Khor Virap.
When out hunting, Tiridates often behaved like a beast, hence the legend that he was transformed into a boar. A King, who was loved by his people and especially his sister, Khosrovidought, tried in vain to return him to his senses. Khosrovidought had a dream, seeing Gregory coming out of the dungeon and healing her brother! This was especially ironic, as the illness had only manifested itself following the king’s orders to murder a group of Christian nuns who had fled persecution in Rome. Khosrovidought told the people at the Court of her dream and revealed that Gregory was living and was the only man in the world who could cure the King. As Tiridat’s condition worsened his courtiers went to the pit and to their great surprise heard a feeble “yes” to the question: “Gregory, are you still alive?” For St Gregory had been in the pit for 13 years! They lowered the rope and out came a man with a long beard and soiled clothes. But his darkened face was wrapped in an aura of light. After dressing him properly,they took him to the presence of Tiridat. Moved by a powerful force which he could not control, Tiridat knelt down before his prisoner. Gregory, putting his hands on the King’s head, prayed for him. There,upon Tiridat was cured and became a new man. He said to Gregory: “Your God is my Go, your religion is my religion.” Gregory lifted him up and embraced him. From that moment, until their death, they remained faithful friends and worked together, each in his own way for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Armenia, beginning in the year 301.
Gregory first converted the people in the capital city and in its neighbourhood. There were no bishops or clergymen left in the country, because of the severe persecutions by Tiridat. Thus, Gregory could not find people in holy orders to baptise the neophytes. Gregory himself was still a layman. Therefore, the Royal Council decided to send Gregory back to Cæsarea to be ordained as a Priest and then Bishop of Armenia.
Armenia did became a Christian state and it was a momentous moment in the country’s history as the historian RG Hovannisian here explains:
“The conversion of Armenia to Christianity was probably the most crucial step in its history. It turned Armenia sharply away from its Iranian past and stamped it for centuries with an intrinsic character, as clear to the native population, as to those outside its borders, who identified Armenia almost at once as the first state to adopt Christianity.”
Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.
As soon as Gregory returned to Armenis as the first Bishop (Katholikos) he set about formally establishing the Christian Church. Tiridates gave Saint Gregory up to 15 provinces of territory to establish the Armenian Church. The old pagan temples were torn down and the sites were converted to Christian ones and the whole nation was obliged to embrace the new faith. Churches and monasteries sprang up everywhere, including at the Khor Virap, Gregory’s home for so long, which was eventually converted into a monastery. The Armenian aristocracy quickly followed the royal family’s example and many noble families converted to Christianity.
Later in life, Gregory retired to the seclusion of the cave of Mane in northwestern Armenia where he lived as an ascetic. Gregory died there of old age around 331. The former bishop’s remains were buried at Tordan on the Euphrates River in the western province of Daranaghik, although later his bones would become prized relics in various churches across the country.
St Gregory governed the Armenian Church for about 25 years. He diligently worked for the internal organisation of the Church. His descendants carried on his work, notably his younger son Aristakes, who, known for his asceticism, was the next bishop and who attended the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 as St Gregory was too old.
Many Churches were built in his honour but perhaps the most celebrated was the cathedral at Ani built by the great architect Trdat for King Gagik (1001-1010).
He is commemorated as a Canonised Saint by all the ancient churches of the East and of the West, including the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. The Armenian Church has set aside three holy days in honour of St Gregory, commemorating three of the main events of his life – firstly, his sufferings and entrance into the dungeon, secondly, His release from the dungeon and the conversion of Armenia to Christianity, thirdly, the discovery of his relics.
On St Pope John Paul II’s historic trip in 2001 to Armenia to mark the 1700thof the conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity, he became inspired by a visit to Khor-Virab where Saint Gregory was confined. As a result, a statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator now stands (unveiled on 19 January 2005) in the Vatican’s last remaining niche along the walls of Saints leading to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Almost 2,5 metres tall, it is situate at the site where visitors wait to climb the cupola. Thousands of visitors now wait under the gentle gaze of St Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia. See the Statue below.
On 26 June 2016, Pope Francis visited Armenia and made a special pilgrimage to the Church and Monastery, where St Gregory’s pit was located. It is here, in one of the Armenian Church’s most sacred places, that Francis concluded his trip. After being welcomed by the Monastery’s superior, the he and the Pope made their way down the small stairs to the room where St Gregory had been held in captivity for 13 years. There, they lit a candle in veneration. They then entered the adjacent chapel in procession and prayed in Armenian and in Italian. Finally, the Pope and Abbot Karekin went out onto the terrace overlooking Ararat and released two doves, in the direction of the Biblical mountain, which is now beyond the border in Turkey.