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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Necessary Repetition

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Spiritual teachers tend to repeat themselves, and to repeat other teachers. Maybe there really aren’t that many different truths to tell. Just a lot of slow, sleepy human beings—like us—who need to hear the basics over and over. Consider today’s readings. People complain that God isn’t “fair,” and Ezekiel answers that God is more than fair. People choose their own fates, and people can change. Even evildoers can turn, do right, and live. “Actions speak louder than words.” A fresh new insight? Hardly. Paul tells the Philippians he would truly be encouraged if those who claimed to be believers would, in fact, look to others’ interests and not their own. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A novel idea? I don’t think so. In Jesus’ story of the farmer and his sons, everyone knows the one who said he wouldn’t work— but did—is way ahead of the one who said he would work, but didn’t. “Talk is cheap.” Heard that before?

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Readings for the Week

Monday: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 or Rv 12:7-12a;Ps 138:1-5; Jn 1:47-51
Tuesday: Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23; Ps 88:2-8; Lk 9:51-56
Wednesday: Jb 9:1-12, 14-16; Ps 88:10bc-15; Lk 9:57-62
Thursday: Jb 19:21-27; Ps 27:7-9abc, 13-14; Mt 18:1-5, 10
Friday: Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5; Ps 139:1-3, 7-10, 13-14ab; Lk 10:13-16
Saturday: Jb 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Ps 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130; Lk 10:17-24
Sunday: Is 5:1-7; Ps 80:9, 12-16, 19-20; Phil 4:6-9; Mt 21:33-43

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: Ss. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Tuesday: St. Jerome
Wednesday: St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Thursday: The Holy Guardian Angels
Friday: First Friday; Yom Kippur (Jewish day of atonement) begins at sunset
Saturday: St. Francis of Assisi; First Saturday

“So valuable to heaven is the dignity of the human soul that every member of the human race has a guardian angel from the moment the person begins to be.” —St. Jerome

Treasures from Our Tradition

Over time, the severe form of one-chance penance collapsed under lack of enthusiasm for its burdens and its public nature. As ordinary Christians prayed for the great sinners, it must have occurred to them that they were sinners no less, and they required a form of penance also. The Irish came to the rescue, never having had a public form of penance, but inventing a system called “tariff penance,” which was completely private, available to everyone, and wildly popular. After a detailed confession, priest and penitent would lie on the floor before the altar and recite a number of psalms. The priest then pronounced a judgment, a tariff, giving a task or a prayer to complete before reconciliation. The surviving guidebooks for confessors make for hair-raising reading as the sins of which the Irish people were supposedly capable were catalogued and keyed to penances. Cattle or sheep rustling might require stripping down to sing psalms in an icy brook, for example, or adultery could be the occasion for rolling in a thicket of thorns. All of this might have stayed in Ireland had not the monks had a desire to travel, blazing across Europe with their theology and their rituals, and their sense that Christians needed strong medicine for sin and the assurance of God’s forgiveness.

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