Confessor, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
ST. EPHREM is the light and glory of the Syriac Church. A mere youth, he entered on the religious life at Nisibis, his native place. Long years of retirement taught him the science of the Saints, and then God called him to Edessa, there to teach what he had learned so well. He defended the Faith against heresies, in books which have made him known as the Prophet of the Syrians. Crowds hung upon his words. Tears used to stop his voice when he preached. He trembled and made his hearers tremble at the thought of God's judgments; but he found in compunction and humility the way to peace, and he rested with unshaken confidence in the mercy of our blessed Lord. "I am setting out," he says, speaking of his own death, "I am setting out on a journey hard and dangerous. Thee, O Son of God, I have taken for my Viaticum. When I am hungry, I will feed on Thee. The infernal fire will not venture near me, for it cannot bear the fragrance of Thy Body and Thy Blood." His hymns won the hearts of the people, drove out the hymns of the Gnostic heretics, and gained for him the title which he bears in the Syriac Liturgy to this day—"the Harp of the Holy Ghost." Passionate as he was by nature, from the time he entered religion no one ever saw him angry. Abounding in labors till the last, he toiled for the suffering poor at Edessa in the famine of 378, and there lay down to die in extreme old age. What was the secret of success so various and so complete? Humility, which made him distrust himself and trust God. Till his death, he wept for the slight sins committed in the thoughtlessness of boyhood. He refused the dignity of the priesthood. "I," he told St. Basil, whom he went to see at the bidding of the Holy Spirit, "I am that Ephrem who has wandered from the path of heaven." Then bursting into tears, he cried out, "O my father, have pity on a sinful wretch, and lead me on the narrow way."
Reflection. —Humility is the path which leads to abiding peace and brings us near to the consolations of God.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ecclus. 15, 5
In the midst of the church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. 91, 2. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O Most High. Glory be …
O God, Who didst give blessed Bonaventure to be a minister of everlasting salvation unto Thy people, grant, we beseech Thee, that, as we have had him for our teacher on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven. Through our Lord.
Epistle • 2 Tim. 4, 1-8
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy.
[His charge to Timothy. He tells him of his approaching death and desires him to come to him.]
Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.
Gradual • Ps. 36, 30, 31
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom and his tongue shall speak judgement: the law of his God is in his heart; and his steps shall not be supplanted.
Alleluia, alleluia. Ecclus. 45, 9. The Lord loved him, and adorned him: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 5, 13-19
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ's sermon upon the mount. The eight beatitudes.]
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Offertory • Ps 88, 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him; and in My name shall his horn be exalted. (P. T. Alleluia.)
May the annual festival of blessed Bonaventure, Thy confessor and pontiff, we beseech Thee, O Lord, render us acceptable to Thy loving -kindness, that through these offices of pious atonement a blessed reward my attend him and he may win for us the gifts of Thy grace. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 24, 46, 47
Blessed is that servant whom, when his lord shall come, he shall find watching; Amen, I say to you, he shall set him over all his goods. (P. T. Alleluia.)
O God, the rewarder of faithful souls, grant that, through the prayers of blessed Bonaventure, Thy confessor and bishop, who august solemnity we celebrate, we may obtain pardon of our sins. Through our Lord.