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The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles; USA: Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin

November 18

Parable of the Talents

Speculum Humanae Salvationis
1360
Manuscript illumination Darmstadt, Germany Franciscan Media

Mosaic of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis.

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican | photo by Fczarnowski / Statue of Saint Paul in front of the facade of the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall, Rome | photo by Berthold WernerImage: The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican | photo by Fczarnowski / Image: Statue of Saint Paul in front of the facade of the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall, Rome | photo by Berthold Werner
Dedication of Churches of Saints Peter and Paul
Saint of the Day for November 18
The Story of the Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul
St. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at Saint Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319, Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.
St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where Saint Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine’s doing.
Constantine’s building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.

Reflection
Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen, and missionary to the gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey’s end: both, according to tradition, died a martyr’s death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.

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The Rite of [a Catholic Church] Dedication Now [Catholic Caucus]
DEDICATION of the BASILICAS of Saint Peter and Saint Paul/SAINT ODON or EUDES of CLUNY Abbot (942)
Dedication of the Basilicas of St Peter and St Paul

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The Story of the Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and PaulSt. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at Saint Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319, Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.

St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where Saint Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine’s doing.

Constantine’s building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.


Reflection

Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen, and missionary to the gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey’s end: both, according to tradition, died a martyr’s death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.

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The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican

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Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall

Rome

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NAVARRE BIBLE COMMENTARY (RSV)From: Revelation 4:1-11

God in Majesty
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[1] After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place after this.” [2] At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne! [3] And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald. [4] Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads. [5] From the throne issue flashes of lighting, and voices and peals of thunders and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; [6] and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: [7] the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. [8] And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

[9] And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, [10] the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, [11] “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.”

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Commentary:

1. The second part of the Apocalypse begins at this point and extends to the start of the Epilogue. The author describes visions concerning the future of mankind, particularly the ultimate outcome of history when our Lord Jesus Christ will obtain the final victory, at his second coming. It begins with a formal introduction (chaps. 4-5); this is followed by a first section as it were (6:11-11:14) covering the visions of the seven seals and the first six trumpets, which describes the event prior to the final battle. The war begins with the sound of the seventh trumpet and it goes on (this is the second section 11:15-22:5) until the beast is completely routed and the Kingdom of God is definitively established in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This introductory vision (chaps 4-5) begins with God in heaven in all his glory being worshipped and celebrated by all creation (chap. 4). He alone controls the destiny of the world and the Church.

Only Jesus knows God’s salvific plans, and he, through his death and resurrection, reveals them to us. All this is expressed in chapter 4 by the image of the Lamb who is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

1-3. The risen and glorified Christ, who spoke to St John previously (cf. 1:10-13), now invites him, in a new vision, to go up into heaven to be told God’s plan for the world. “I looked,” “I was in the Spirit,” “I went up to heaven” all describe the same phenomenon — God revealing something to the writer. Because the things he is being told are things man could not possibly discover for himself, the writer speaks about going up to heaven: this enables him to contemplate heavenly things, that is, God. Going up to heaven is the same as being in ecstasy, “being in the Spirit”, being taken over by the Holy Spirit so as to be able to understand what God wants to reveal to him (cf. note on 1:10).

He is going to be shown “what must take place after this”; it is something which has already begun to happen in the writer’s own time but it will not reach its climax until the end of the world. The revelation he is given shows him the ultimate meaning of contemporary events, the outcome of which is guaranteed by the authority of the revealer, Jesus Christ.

The description given here of heaven stresses the majesty and power of God. Heaven is depicted with a throne at its center, an image taken from Isaiah (cf. Is 6:1) and Ezekiel (cf. Ezek 1:26-28; 10:1). God’s appearance is described in terms of the vivid coloring of precious stones; this avoids the danger of defining God in human terms (an inversion of values). The rainbow round the throne further emphasizes the sublimity of God and is also a reminder (cf. Gen 9:12-17) of God’s merciful promise never to destroy mankind.

4. God’s sovereignty over the world — as symbolized by the throne — is shared in by others whom the vision also portrays as seated on thrones. They are symbolically described as twenty-four elders who act as a kind of heavenly council or senate. These elders appear frequently in the course of the book, always positioned beside God, rendering him tribute of glory and worship (cf. 4:10; 5:9; 19:4), offering him the prayers of the faithful (cf. 5:8) or explaining events to the seer (cf. 5:5; 7:13). It is not clear whether they stand for angels or saints; the Fathers and recent commentators offer both interpretations.

The symbolic number (twenty-four) and the way they are described suggest that they stand for saints in the glory of heaven. They are twenty-four — twelve plus twelve, that is, the number of the tribes of Israel plus that of the Apostles. Our Lord in fact promised the latter that they would sit on thrones (cf. Mt 19:28). The twenty-four elders, then, would represent the heavenly Church, which includes the old and the new Israel and which, in heaven, renders God the tribute of perfect praise and intercedes for the Church on earth. The number twenty-four has also been seen as reflecting the twenty-four priestly classes of Judaism, thereby emphasizing the liturgical dimension of heaven (cf. 1 Chron 24: 7-18; 25:1, 9-13). Whichever is the case, the white garments indicate that they have achieved everlasting salvation (cf. 3:5); and the golden crowns stand for the reward they have earned (cf. 2:10), or the prominence among Christians, who have been promised that, if they come out victorious, they will sit on Christ’s throne (cf. 3:21).

Through these visions laden with symbolism the Apocalypse shows the solidarity that exists between the Church triumphant and the Church militant — specifically, the connection between the praise that is rendered God in heaven and that which we offer him on earth, in the liturgy. The Second Vatican Council refers to this: “In the earthly liturgy we take part in the foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God […]. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he our life shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory” (“Sancrosanctum Concilium”, 8).

5. This vision is similar to the Old Testament theophanies, especially that of Sinai. There too the Lord’s presence was revealed with thunder and lightning (cf. Ex 19:16). Storms are frequently used to symbolize the salvific power and majesty of God at the moment of revelation (cf. Ps 18:14; 50:3; etc.). Further on, the author will again describe, in more detail, the signs accompanying God’s self-revealing; this gives the book a sense of on-going revelation with an increasing tempo (cf. Rev 8:5; 11:19; 16:18; etc.). It is generally accepted Church tradition to interpret fire as a manifestation of the Spirit of God. On the seven spirits, see the note on 1:4.

6-7. To describe the majesty of God, St John uses symbols which are sometimes quite difficult to interpret. This is the case with the sea as transparent as glass, and the four living creatures round the throne and on each side of it. The scene may be a kind of heavenly replica of the arrangements in Solomon’s temple where there stood in front of the Holy of Holies a huge water container called the “molten sea” supported by figures of oxen, twelve in number (cf. 1 Kings 7:23-26; 2 Chron 4:2-5). This similarity between heaven and the temple would be a way of expressing the connection between liturgy on earth and worship of God in heaven.

The crystal sea may also be an allusion to God’s absolute dominion over all forms of authority on earth. In biblical tradition the sea is often used as a symbol for the powers of darkness (cf. Rev 13:1; 21:1). To God, however, the sea is crystal-clear, that is, he is its master; cf. the way the spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters in Genesis 1:2.

Elsewhere in the Apocalypse (15:2) it speaks of the sea of glass supporting the blessed while they praise God: just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, so those who have conquered the beast will cross this solid sea to make their way to God.

The author of the Book of Revelation avails of images used by the prophets to describe the glory of Yahweh. The four living creatures are very like those in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot of the Lord drawn by four angels representing intelligence, nobility, strength and agility (cf. Ezek 1:10; 10:12; Is 6:2).

Christian tradition going back as far as St Irenaeus has interpreted these four creatures as standing for the four evangelists because they “carry” Jesus Christ to men. The one with the face of a man is St Matthew, who starts his book with the human genealogy of Christ; the lion stands for St Mark: his Gospel begins with the voice crying in the wilderness (which is where the lion’s roar can be heard); the ox is a reference to the sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem, which is where St Luke begins his account of Christ’s life, and the eagle represents St John, who soars to the heights to contemplate the divinity of the Word.

8-11. The chant of the four living creatures is virtually the same as that which the prophet Isaiah heard the six-winged seraphim sing in his vision of God in the temple of Jerusalem (cf. Is 6: 1-3). St John changes the ending by bringing in the new name of God which is an elaboration of the name “Yahweh” (cf. note on Rev 1:4). The four creatures (who, because there are four of them stand for government of the entire universe) take the lead in worshipping and praising God; but they are joined by all the people of God, as represented by the twenty-four elders, that is, the Church victorious in heaven. They throw down their crowns to show that they realize their victory is due to God, and that all power belongs to him. Essentially what they are praising here is God as creator. By reporting this vision the author of the Apocalypse is inviting the pilgrim Church on earth to associate with the worship and praise offered God the creator in heaven.

The Church uses these words of praise in its eucharistic liturgy: at the end of the Preface, it chants the angelic Sanctus in preparation for the Canon. This angelic chant, performed as it is in heaven and on earth, reminds us of the sublimity of the Mass, where the worship of God crosses the frontiers of time and space and has a positive influence on the entire world, for, “through the communion of the saints, all Christians receive grace from every Mass that is celebrated, regardless of whether there is an attendance of thousands or whether it is only a boy with his mind on other things who is there to serve. In either case, heaven and earth join with the angels of the Lord to sing: “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus …” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 88). The saintly Cure of Ars refers to this intercommunion of praise and thanksgiving, of grace and forgiveness: “The Holy Mass is a source of joy to all the heavenly court; it alleviates the poor souls in purgatory; it draws down to earth all kinds of blessings; and it gives more glory to God than all the sufferings of all the martyrs taken together, than all the penances of all the hermits, than all the tears shed for them [the holy souls] since time began and all that will be shed from now till the end of time” (“Selected Sermons”, second Sunday after Pentecost).

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From: Luke 19:11-28Parable of the Pounds
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[11] As they heard these things, [Jesus] proceeded to tell a parable, because He was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately. [12] He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive kingly power and then return. [13] Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Trade with these till I come.’ [14] But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ [15] When he returned, having received the kingly power, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. [16] The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ [17] And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ [18] And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ [19] And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.'[20] Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; [21] for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ [22] He said to him, ‘I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? [23] Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’ [24] And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’ [25] (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) [26] ‘I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [27] But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'”

The Messiah Enters the Holy City
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[28] And when He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

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Commentary:

11. The disciples had a wrong concept of the Kingdom of Heaven: they thought it was about to happen and they saw it in earthly terms: they envisaged Jesus conquering the Roman tyrant and immediately establishing the Kingdom in the holy city of Jerusalem, and that when that happened they would hold privileged positions in the Kingdom. There is always a danger of Christians failing to grasp the transcendent, supernatural character of the Kingdom of God in this world, that is, the Church, which “has but one sole purpose–that the Kingdom of God may come and the salvation of the human race may be accomplished.” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 45).

Through this parable our Lord teaches us that, although His reign has begun, it will only be fully manifested later on. In the time left to us we should use all the resources and graces God gives us, in order to merit the reward.

13. The “mina”, here translated as “pound”, was worth about 35 grams of gold. This parable is very like the parable of the talents reported in St. Matthew (cf. 25:14-30).

14. The last part of this verse, although it has a very specific context, reflects the attitude of many people who do not want to bear the sweet yoke of our Lord and who reject Him as king. “There are millions of people in the world who reject Jesus Christ in this way; or rather they reject His shadow, for they do not know Christ. They have not seen the beauty of His face; they do not realize how wonderful His teaching is. This sad state of affairs makes me want to atone to our Lord. When I hear that endless clamor–expressed more in ignoble actions than in words–I feel the need to cry out, ‘He must reign!’ (1 Corinthians 15:25)” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 179).

17. God counts on our fidelity in little things, and the greater our effort in this regard the greater the reward we will receive: “Because you have been ‘in pauca fidelis’, faithful in small things, come and join in your Master’s happiness. The words are Christ’s. ‘In pauca fidelis!…Now will you neglect little things, if Heaven itself is promised to those who mind them?” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 819).

24-26. God expects us to strive to put to good use the gifts we have received –and He lavishly rewards those who respond to His race. The king in the parable is shown to be very generous towards his servants–and generous in rewarding those who managed to increase the money they were given. But he is very severe towards the lazy servant who was also the recipient of a gift from his Lord, who did not let it erode but guarded it carefully–and for this his king criticizes him: he failed to fulfill the just command the king gave him when he gave him the money: “Trade till I come.” If we appreciate the treasures the Lord has given us — life, the gift of faith, grace — we will make a special effort to make them bear fruit — by fulfilling our duties, working hard and doing apostolate. “Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 1).

28. Normally in the Gospels when there is mention of going to the Holy City it is in terms of “going up” to Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 20:18; John 7:8), probably because geographically the city is located on Mount Zion. Besides, since the temple was the religious and political center, going up to Jerusalem had also a sacred meaning of ascending to the holy place, where sacrifices were offered to God.

Particularly in the Gospel of St. Luke, our Lord’s whole life is seen in terms of a continuous ascent towards Jerusalem, where His self-surrender reaches its high point in the redemptive sacrifice of the Cross. Here Jesus is on the point of entering the city, conscious of the fact that His passion and death are imminent.

 

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Date:
November 18