Sunday, September 8, 2019

Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the Day
RB: Ch 1:1-5 The Kinds of Monks
Mass: Wis 9:13b-18; Resp Ps 90; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25-33

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

How about this for a buona domenica, something from Dom Paul Delatte (1848-1937), great French Benedictine Abbot of Solesmes: "It is a duty for each one of us to be joyful. It is a remarkable religion in which joy is a precept, in which the command is to be happy, in which cheerfulness is a duty." Delatte is quoted in a wonderful book I just embarked upon, Sister Mary David, The Joy of God: Collected Writings (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019). Sister Mary David Totah (1957-2017), loved and respected by many, was a contemplative Benedictine nun of St Cecilia's Abbey on the Isle of Wight. You can read a tribute to her in The Tablet (17/24 August 2019, pp. 12-13). It can be risky to recommend books. Still, Mary David's book is more than worthwhile. I include a quotation related to Jesus' words in today's Gospel: Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Here she is commenting on John Henry Newman's words on joy in tribulation.

This joy in the midst of suffering is nothing other than the joy of love. It is not a question of loving suffering for itself, but of seeing the acceptance and overcoming of it, and even the choice of it, as a proof of love. It is in this love that the Christian rejoices. As St John of the Cross said, "The soul of the perfect man rejoices in that which causes the imperfect soul affliction." We often think of the Cross as an obstacle to joy, as something barring the way to happiness. The saints are far simpler: for them joy means loving someone. This means they can suffer anything and still be happy, if not on the surface, at least essentially (pp. 3-4)

No matter what comes our way this week, may we be people of joy.


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