St. Maurice and Companions

Saint Maurice was a member of the Theban Legion, a Roman legion said to have been constituted by Christian soldiers from Africa, which was called to put down a revolt in Aaunum, located in modern day Switzerland, in the year 287.

Two legends exist about the martyrdom of St. Maurice and his companions. According to the legends, the legion's soldiers were either ordered to take part in pagan sacrifices, or ordered to harass and kill some local Christians. In either event the 6,600 men of Maurice's legion refused. In punishment for their disobedience, every tenth man in the legion was killed. When the remaining soldiers, fortified by St. Maurice, still refused other legions were called in to force them to follow their orders. Persisting in their refusal, they were all massacred.


St. Thomas of Villanova

On Sept. 22, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Thomas of Villanova, a 16th century Spanish Augustinian monk and archbishop who lived a life of austerity in order to provide for the spiritual and material needs of his people.

Born during 1488 in the Spanish region of Castile, in the town of Villanova de los Infantes, Thomas Garcia was raised to take after the faith and charitable works of his parents Alphonsus and Lucia. His father, a mill worker, regularly distributed food and provisions to the poor, as did his mother.

Generous and devout from an early age, their son was also intellectually gifted, beginning his studies at the University of Alcala at age 16. Within ten years he had become a professor of philosophy at that same university, where he taught for two years before being offered a more prestigious position at the University of Salamanca.

Thomas, however, chose not to continue his academic career. After his father’s death, he had determined to leave much of his inheritance to the poor and sick rather than retaining it himself. At age 28, after much deliberation, Thomas embraced a life of chastity, poverty, and religious obedience with his entry into the monastic Order of St. Augustine.

Thomas made his first vows as an Augustinian in 1517 and was ordained a priest in 1518. He taught theology within his order and became renowned for his eloquent and effective preaching in the churches of Salamanca. This led to his appointment as a court preacher and adviser to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Presented with the prospect of being named an archbishop, Thomas initially declined and instead continued his work within the Order of St. Augustine, during a period that saw its expansion across the sea to Mexico. In August of 1544, however, he was ordered by his religious superiors to accept his appointment as the Archbishop of Valencia.

Thomas arrived wearing the same well-worn monastic habit that he had worn for several years and would continue wearing for years to come. Given a donation to decorate his residence, he funnelled the money to a hospital in need of repair. After his installation, he visited local prisons and ordered changes to be made in response to their inhumane conditions.

While continuing his life of monastic asceticism, the archbishop worked to improve the spiritual lives and living conditions of the faithful. He gave special attention to the needs of the poor, feeding and sheltering them in his own residence. During the same period he worked to promote education, restore religious orthodoxy, and reform the lifestyles of clergy and laypersons.

After 11 years leading the Archdiocese of Valencia, St. Thomas of Villanova succumbed to a heart condition at the end of a Mass held in his home on Sept. 8, 1555. He is said to have died on the floor rather than in his bed, which he insisted on offering to a poor man who had come to his house. Pope Alexander VII canonized him in 1658.


Ezra 9:5-9

5 And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle rent, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God,
6 saying: "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to thee, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.
7 From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as at this day.
8 But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant, and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.
9 For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.


Luke 9:1-6

1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,
2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.
3 And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.
4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them."
6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.


Tobit 13:2-4, 7-8

2 For he afflicts, and he shows mercy; he leads down to Hades, and brings up again, and there is no one who can escape his hand.
3 Acknowledge him before the nations, O sons of Israel; for he has scattered us among them.
4 Make his greatness known there, and exalt him in the presence of all the living; because he is our Lord and God, he is our Father for ever.
7 I exalt my God; my soul exalts the King of heaven, and will rejoice in his majesty.
8 Let all men speak, and give him thanks in Jerusalem.


Heavenly Father, we beg You to accompany us

Wednesday September 22 20021
25th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezr. 9:5-8;  (R. Ps.) Tob. 13:2,3-4,5,8;
Lk. 9:1-6   (Ps Wk I)


We may need to remind ourselves from time to time that we are reading about Peter, James, John, and the nine others in today’s Gospel. They were the men whose labours led to the Church as we know it now large and powerful, at least to some degree. They were inexperienced men at the kind of work they were being asked to do. So, they were given the ability by God to do things they would never have dreamed of attempting.

In order to avoid being tempted to attribute to themselves the success of the work, they were attempting, Jesus told them not to go to the work highly self-equipped. If they did, they might be tempted to attribute to themselves any success they might experience.

They ventured out then, trusting that God would see to it that they would have what they needed to carry out the first recorded apostolic exercise in the history of the Church without the physical presence of Jesus.

Let us pray that the Church of the 2020s will be able to keep the balance between reliance on a high degree of self-equipment of all kinds and trust in God’s loving care and support.

Heavenly Father, we beg You to accompany us as we venture out to tell others of Your love for them.