The Church Conformed to Your Passion

Jesus Passions, Holy Monastery of Stavronikita...

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Psalm-prayer for this day from the Office of Readings:

Lord Jesus, you foretold that we would share in the persecutions that brought you to a violent death. The Church formed at the cost of your precious blood is even now conformed to your Passion; may it be transformed, now and eternally, by the power of your resurrection.

The Church Upon the Cross

Peter Paul Rubens/artbible

Upon the cross,

Your blood flowed

from Crown to Foot,

in streams upon Your Body,

so that there was not one space

that was not touched by Your Blood.

Your Body, the Church,

covered in Your Blood;

saved throughout Time

and for all Time

unto Eternity,

covered by Your Blood.

by Joann Nelander

The Living Church is the Body of Christ

Wolframs-Eschenbach. Church of our Lady: Altar...

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A sermon of the second century

The living church is the body of Christ

My name is constantly blasphemed by unbelievers, says the Lord. Woe to the man who causes my name to be blasphemed. Why is the Lord’s name blasphemed? Because we say one thing and do another. When they hear the words of God on our lips, unbelievers are amazed at their beauty and power, but when they see that those words have no effect in our lives, their admiration turns to scorn, and they dismiss such words as myths and fairy tales.
They listen, for example, when we tell them that God has said: It is no credit to you if you love those who love you, but only if you love your enemies, and those who hate you. They are full of admiration at such extraordinary virtue, but when they observe that we not only fail to love people who hate us, but even those who love us, they laugh us to scorn, and the Name is blasphemed.
Therefore, brothers, if we do the will of God the Father, we shall be members of the first spiritual Church that was created before the sun and the moon; but if we fail to do the will of the Lord, we shall be among those to whom it is said in Scripture: My house has been made into a robbers’ den. We must choose then, if we want to be saved, to be members of the Church of life.
You surely cannot be ignorant of the fact that the living Church is the body of Christ; for Scripture says: God made man male and female. Now the male signifies Christ, and the female signifies the Church, which, according to both the Old and New Testament, is no recent creation, but has existed from the beginning. At first the Church was purely spiritual, even as our Jesus was spiritual, but it appeared in the last days to save us.
For the spiritual Church was made manifest in the body of Christ, in order to show us that if we uphold its honour in the outward, visible form, and do not defile it, we shall, through the Holy Spirit, be made its members in the true, spiritual sense. For the body of the Church is a copy of the Spirit, and no one who defaces the copy can have any part in what the copy represents. In other words, brothers, you must preserve the honour of the body in order to share in the Spirit. For if we say that the body is the Church and the Spirit is Christ, it follows that anyone who dishonours his body, dishonours the Church. Such a man will have no part in the Spirit, which is Christ. But if the Holy Spirit is joined to it, this body can receive an immortal life that is wonderful beyond words, for the blessings that God has made ready for his chosen ones surpass all human powers of description.

Martin of Tours

St Martin of Tours

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From a letter by Sulpicius Severus:

Martin the poor and humble man

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near. Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes. The clergy of that church were quarrelling, and he wished to reconcile them. Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.

He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed. Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength. He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.”nnnn

Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed. Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: “Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.” As he spoke these words, he saw the devil standing near. “Why do you stand there, you bloodthirsty brute?” he cried. “Murderer, you will not have me for your prey. Abraham is welcoming me into his embrace.”

With these words, he gave up his spirit to heaven. Filled with joy, Martin was welcomed by Abraham. Thus he left this life a poor and lowly man and entered heaven rich in God’s favor.

Daniel’s Prayer

“Give ear, O my God, and listen; open your eyes and see our ruins and the city which bears your name. When we present our petition before you, we rely not on our just deeds, but on your great mercy. O Lord, hear! O Lord, pardon! O Lord, be attentive and act without delay, for your own sake, O my God, because this city and your people bear your name!”