‘Now let us celebrate the Mass, directed by Philip and James. During the Fore-Mass they are our guides, readying us for the Sacrifice proper.
…In the Gospel [St John 14:1-13] we see the two apostles [Philip and James] with Christ between them. What a beautiful setting Easter time gives to the farewell sermons of Jesus! He is taking leave of His Church before ascending to heaven. He speaks softly, consolingly. Surely He will return; He leaves simply to prepare a place for us, then He will come to take us with Him so that we too may be where He is. In the midst of earthly troubles we need not be sad; we have a home in heaven. He Himself is readying it.
Jesus set the goal, He also showed the way. Disturbed and saddened, the apostles acted as if they knew neither the goal nor the way. With indulgent kindness Jesus said: I am the Way and, therefore, the Truth and the Life likewise. A lesson of tremendous importance! He is the focal point of our religious life, and consequently the only Way to heaven. Therefore we love to come to Mass where as the Way He gives instruction and commands, where as the Truth He speaks the Gospel message, and where as the Life He gives us His very Body in the blessed Eucharist.
…The sermon is over, our preachers are finished; these many truths are their legacy to us. Now we continue with the Sacrifice of Christ. It is also our sacrifice, we must offer it with Him. Therefore in solemn procession we approach the altar, led by our two apostles. There upon the altar they place the sum and substance of lives lived to the full – their joy, their sorrow, their labour for souls. And like an eagle enticing its young to fly into the light of the sun, so the two apostles invite us to unite our life’s sacrifices to theirs and offer all to the Father in union with Christ’s supreme oblation.
The two apostles have completed their task. Now they reverently withdraw. They take a position before the Lamb that was slain and yet lives, and offer the Mass with us. In Christ we constitute one great body – the faithful, the apostles, the saints – Christ’s mystical Body’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth and the life; that, following the steps of thy holy Apostles Saint Philip and Saint James, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The word of God, incorporeal, incorruptible and immaterial, came down to our world. Not that he had been far off before, since no part of creation was ever without him. Together with his Father he filled all things.
He came to us full of love for us and showed himself to us openly. He took pity on our race and our weakness and was so moved by the corruption that had got the better of us, that he could not allow death to rule over us any longer. Had death prevailed, creation would have perished and his Father’s work in forming man would have been in vain. Because he did not wish merely to be in a body or simply to be an apparition, he took to himself a nature which was no different from ours.
He built himself a temple, a body that is, in the Virgin, and so made himself an instrument in which to dwell and make himself known. In this way he took from us a body like our own and, since all men are subject to the corruption of death, he surrendered his body to death for all and offered it to the Father lovingly for our sake. His purpose was that, as all men died on him, the law of death which was in force against men should be abrogated. Death would have its final say in the body of the Lord and would thereafter be powerless against his fellow men. To turn men back from corruption to incorruption and rescue them from death to life, he himself destroyed death, as straw is bent up in a fire, by his incarnation and his glorious resurrection.
…So the word of God who is above all offered his own temple, his body, for the life of all, and by his death paid the debt that was due. United to us all by the human body that was his, the incorruptible Son of God clothed us all with incorruptibility by the promise of the resurrection. Even the corruption of death has no longer any power against men because of the Word who dwelt among them in one body’.
from his discourses by St Athanasius, c.296-373
Everliving God, whose servant Saint Athanasius bore witness to the mystery of the Word made flesh for our salvation: give us grace, with all thy Saints, to contend for the truth and grow into the likeness of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today’s memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, falling on May Day - a day celebrated since the late 19th century by socialists and communists as International Workers’ Day - was established by Pope Pius XII in 1958 to Christianise the concept of labour and to bring it under the patronage of Saint Joseph. From 1970, in the Ordinary Form, it was downgraded to an optional memorial (as it is in the Ordinariate Form also); it remains a feast of the first class in the Extraordinary Form. The following is from a radio address to children by Pius XII in 1958:
‘St Joseph, as you have all learned at home and at school, was a very holy man. He had to be, because he was married to the Virgin Mary, the purest, the holiest, the most exalted of all God’s creatures. More than that, the Eternal Father confided to the care of St Joseph His own only-begotten Son, become man on earth, Jesus Christ. Mary was the Mother of Jesus, the tenderest and most loving of all mothers; and though Joseph was not His father, he had for Him, by a special gift from heaven, all the natural love, all the affectionate solicitude that a father’s heart can know. With Mary, his wife, he shared all the joys and sorrows, the plans and anxieties that come to a mother in bringing up her child sorrows, the plans and anxieties that come to a mother in bringing up her child. Day after, at home and in the carpenter shop, his eyes rested on Jesus; he protected Him against the dangers of childhood; he guided His advancing years, and by hard work and with religious devotedness he provided for the increasing needs of the Mother and the Son.
What a beautiful family life there was at Nazareth! You call it the Holy Family and rightly so. In that small house you find Jesus, holy more than anyone can imagine, Who has come to help you and everybody become holy and pleasing to the Father. There you find His Mother, your Blessed Mother; and, as you know, from the first breath she breathed and all during the days of her life her soul was simply one marvellous, indescribable thing of beauty, like a precious jewel whose every facet reflected clearly, unobstructed, the infinite holiness of God. And then there was Joseph, modest, self-effacing, yet exercising authority over that family. How holy he must have been! Under his fatherly protection and ceaseless, tireless care the young Boy grew into manhood, Who later, on Calvary’s cross, dying, would restore life to man, and draw all men into oneness through grace with Himself. With Him as their Head they should then form one big, big family scattered all over the world. You call that family the Church, the one, true Catholic Church, of which you are members, and that membership is your richest treasure on earth’.
O God, the Creator of all things, who hast appointed for mankind the law of labour: graciously grant that through the example and patronage of Saint Joseph we may accomplish the work that thou hast commanded, and attain unto the rewards that thou dost promise; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Saint Joseph the Worker, Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon