Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 RV 15:1-4

I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring:
seven angels with the seven last plagues,
for through them God’s fury is accomplished.

Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.
On the sea of glass were standing those
who had won the victory over the beast
and its image and the number that signified its name.
They were holding God’s harps,
and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
 

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 7-8, 9

R. (Rev. 15: 3b) Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!
Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth;
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

 

 

Alleluia RV 2:10C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Christ Over Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is something we’ve become all too familiar with in our current, well, culture. But, for those of you who may not know what cancel culture is – on dictionary.com, cancel culture is described as being, “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

Society has been trying to cancel Christianity, and especially Catholicism, for a long time now. They’ve been taking God out of our schools, silencing our voices on social media and so much more. And everything we say related to the faith is most definitely considered “offensive.”

What we’re experiencing in our culture today sounds a lot like today’s Gospel reading, where Jesus says to the crowd, “they will seize and persecute you” and “you will be hated by all because of my name.”

We’ve already been persecuted. We’re already hated. This isn’t news to us. In fact, it’s been happening to Christians for centuries. We can instead draw strength from our brothers and sisters that have gone before us and who have dealt with the same persecutions that we’re facing. We can pray through the intercession of the martyrs who willingly gave up their lives in defense of the faith.

We can also look to Christ as our example – a man who was so reviled and hated for his counter-cultural teachings that they sought any way to put him to death. His death wasn’t the political victory the Romans and Jewish leaders thought it would be. Rather, it was a spiritual victory for all who followed after Christ, a victory that cancelled sin and death and opened the gates of Heaven for us all.

Jesus wasn’t cancelled. Neither are we cancelled, although many may try. Instead, we give testimony to our faith in God and our relationship with Jesus, looking to the Holy Spirit to inspire us with the words “that will be powerless to resist or refute.” For when we preach what is good, true and beautiful, it is impossible to ignore.

This Gospel isn’t one of despair or distress; rather, it is one of hope, for Jesus tells us that not a hair on our heads will be destroyed and “by perseverance you will secure your lives.”

So, no matter what the world believes or may try to do, we have the power. We have the victory. We have Christ on our side, Christ who is bigger than the world and who cancels out everything about cancel culture.

Contact the author

Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Markus Winkler, https://unsplash.com/photos/7EwWeNyzSwQ

It’s Going to be OK

In all the other years of my life, even ones that were less than great, I haven’t taken much notice of the Scripture passages we read as we came to the end of the liturgical year. That’s not to say I was oblivious but the end of days seemed too fantastical and far off to cause me much interior unsettledness. After this year, though, I suspect we are all sitting up a little straighter in the pews. What if this is it? What if this is the beginning of the end? Perhaps the sickles are soon to be swung across the earth separating the saints and the sinners. Maybe the destruction of the temple is upon us. Our nation is rising against itself, there were a record number of wildfires, a record number of tropical storms, and some weird clouds of dust that blew over from Africa.

I’ve posed this question to my husband several times this year as bad thing kept following bad thing. The poor man shook his head because he doesn’t share my embrace of memento mori, that is, the remembrance of one’s own death.

For a while, I secretly kind of hoped it was the start of end days. It’s been a tiring year of wave after wave of events that make me want to crawl back under the covers in the morning. Let’s be done with it, I thought. But I’m reminded of some wise words from St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5) and “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20).

As we hear about the end of the world in our liturgical readings, I suspect this isn’t it and that’s ok. I could be wrong, and that’s ok too. There’s much we don’t know and the uncertainty is hard for many of us. What we do know is that we must remain hopeful. We will die one day and the world will end one day. As Christians we deal with that through the virtue of hope in eternal joy with God in heaven. Our time here on earth is tiny compared to our time in eternity. Hope in this reality will not disappoint us.

We find further comfort knowing that even though there is a lot of sin and ugliness right now and it may feel bleak, God will shower us in grace. And in the end, whether we’re talking about our life, our world or just this rotten time, it’s going to be ok. Have hope and pray for grace. It really is going to be ok.

Contact the author

Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids.  She loves finding God in the silly and ordinary.  She writes for Ascension Press, Catholic Mom, and her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Eucharistic Adoration is expected to be released summer 2021. You can reach her at merridith.frediani@gmail.com

Feature Image Credit: Rory Hennessey, https://unsplash.com/photos/FQxII3eqkJk

St. Catherine of Alexandria

St. Catherine of AlexandriaCatholics and other Christians around the world celebrate today, Nov. 25, the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a revered martyr of the fourth century.

St. Catherine was the subject of great interest and devotion among later medieval Christians. Devotees relished tales of her rejection of marriage, her rebuke to an emperor, and her decision to cleave to Christ even under threat of torture. Pope John Paul II restored the celebration of her memorial to the Roman Catholic calendar in 2002.

Catherine’s popularity as a figure of devotion, during an era of imaginative hagiography, has obscured the facts of her life. It is likely that she was of noble birth, a convert to Christianity, a virgin by choice (before the emergence of organized monasticism), and eventually a martyr for the faith.

Accounts of Catherine’s life also agree on the location where she was born, educated, and bore witness to her faith. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was a center of learning in the ancient world, and tradition represents Catherine as the highly educated daughter of a noble pagan family.

It is said that a vision of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus spurred her conversion, and the story has inspired works of art which depict her decision to live as a virginal “spouse of Christ.”

The Emperor Maxentius ruled Egypt during Catherine’s brief lifetime, a period when multiple co-emperors jointly governed the Roman Empire. During this time, just before the Emperor Constantine’s embrace and legalization of Christianity, the Church was growing but also attracting persecution.

Catherine, eager to defend the faith she had embraced, came before Maxentius to protest a brutal campaign against the Church. At first, the emperor decided to try and persuade her to renounce Christ. But in a debate that the emperor proceeded to arrange between Catherine and a number of pagan philosophers, Catherine prevailed – with her skillful apologetics converting them instead.

Maxentius’ next stratagem involved an offer to make her his mistress. She not only rebuffed the emperor, but also reportedly convinced his wife to be baptized.

Enraged by Catherine’s boldness and resolve, the Emperor resolved to break her will through torture on a spiked wheel. Tradition holds that she was miraculously freed from the wheel, either before or during torture. Finally, she was beheaded.

Maxentius later died in a historic battle against his Co-Emperor Constantine in October of 312, after which he was remembered disdainfully, if at all. St. Catherine, meanwhile, inspired generations of philosophers, consecrated women, and martyrs.

Ironically, or perhaps appropriately – given both her embrace of virginity, and her “mystic marriage” to Christ – young women in many Western European countries were once known to seek her intercession in finding their husbands. Regrettably, the torture wheel to which she herself may have been subjected was subsequently nicknamed the “Catherine wheel,” and used even among Christian kingdoms.

Today, St. Catherine of Alexandria is more appropriately known as the namesake of a monastery at Mount Sinai that claims to be the oldest in the world.