Preacher’s Sketchbook: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 14, 2013
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
Pope Benedict XVI
Joshua and his men were tackling their adversaries on the battlefield, Moses was standing on the hilltop, his hands uplifted in the position of a person praying. These raised hands of the great leader guaranteed Israel’s victory. God was with his people; he wanted them to win but made Moses’ uplifted hands the condition for his intervention. It seems incredible, but that is how it is: God needs the raised hands of his servant! Moses’ raised arms are reminiscent of the arms of Jesus on the Cross: the outspread, nailed arms with which the Redeemer won the crucial battle against the infernal enemy. His fight, his arms raised to the Father and wide open for the world, ask for other arms, other hearts that continue to offer themselves with his same love until the end of the world.
Dei Verbum, 11
Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind”.
Presbyterorum ordinis, 6
Exercising the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head, and according to their share of his authority, priests, in the name of the bishop, gather the family of God together as a brotherhood enlivened by one spirit. Through Christ they lead them in the Holy Spirit to God the Father. For the exercise of this ministry, as for the other priestly duties, spiritual power is conferred upon them for the building up of the Church. In building up of the Church, priests must treat all with exceptional kindness in imitation of the Lord. They should act toward men, not as seeking to please them, but in accord with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. They should teach them and admonish them as beloved sons, according to the words of the Apostle: “Be urgent in season, out of season, reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine”.
Pope Clement XIII, In Dominico Agro, 1
In the Lord’s field, for the tending of which Divine Providence placed Us as overseer, there is nothing which demands as much vigilant care and unremitting labor in its cultivation than guarding the good seed of Catholic teaching which the Apostles received from Jesus Christ and handed on to Us. If in laziness this is neglected, the enemy of the human race will sow weeds while the workers sleep. Then weeds will be found which should be committed to the flames rather than good grain to store in the barns. However, St. Paul strongly encourages Us to protect the faith that the saints handed on to Us. He told Timothy to preserve the sacred trust because dangerous times were coming when evil and deceitful men would exist in the Church of God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1098
The acts of faith, hope, and charity enjoined by the first commandment are accomplished in prayer. Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our adoration of God: prayer of praise and thanksgiving, intercession and petition. Prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God’s commandments. “(We) ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 140
Public and common prayer offered to God by all at the same time was customary in antiquity only on certain days and at certain times. Indeed, people prayed to God not only in groups but in private houses and occasionally with neighbors and friends. But soon in different parts of the Christian world the practice arose of setting aside special times for praying, as for example, the last hour of the day when evening set in and the lamps were lighted; or the first, heralded, when the night was coming to an end, by the crowing of the cock and the rising of the morning star. Other times of the day, as being more suitable for prayer are indicated in Sacred Scripture, in Hebrew customs or in keeping with the practice of every-day life. According to the acts of the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus Christ all came together to pray at the third hour, when they were all filled with the Holy Ghost; and before eating, the Prince of the Apostles went up to the higher parts of the house to pray, about the sixth hour; Peter and John “went up into the Temple at the ninth hour of prayer” and at “midnight Paul and Silas praying … praised God”.
St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Chap. XLV
With regard to further ceremonies connected with prayer and other devotions, let not the will be set upon other ceremonies and forms of prayer than those which Christ taught us. For it is clear that, when His disciples besought Him that He would teach them to pray, He would tell them all that is necessary in order that the Eternal Father may hear us, since He knew the Father’s nature so well. Yet all that He taught them was the Pater Noster, with its seven petitions, wherein are included all our needs, both spiritual and temporal; and He taught them not many other kinds of prayer, either in words or in ceremonies. On the contrary, He told them that when they prayed they ought not to desire to speak much, since our heavenly Father knows well what is meet for us. He charged them only, but with great insistence, that they should persevere in prayer (that is, in the prayer of the Pater Noster), saying elsewhere: “It behoves us always to pray and never to fail.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, II-II, q. 83, a. 2
Wherefore it behooves us so to account for the utility of prayer as neither to impose necessity on human affairs subject to Divine providence, nor to imply changeableness on the part of the Divine disposition. In order to throw light on this question we must consider that Divine providence disposes not only what effects shall take place, but also from what causes and in what order these effects shall proceed. Now among other causes human acts are the causes of certain effects. Wherefore it must be that men do certain actions. not that thereby they may change the Divine disposition, but that by those actions they may achieve certain effects according to the order of the Divine disposition: and the same is to be said of natural causes. And so is it with regard to prayer. For we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that we may impetrate that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers in other words “that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give,” as Gregory says.
Additional Preaching Resources
- The Year of Faith: Annus Fidei website (Holy See) and the USCCB Website.
- The Holy See: Ordinary Time
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- The King of Ages
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John