When it sometimes happens, that the Third Sunday, or Fourth, or Fifth, or Sixth after Epiphany is superseded, then they are placed after the Twenty-Third from Pentecost.
In the Epistle the apostle gives thanks to God in prayer for those inhabitants of Thessalonia, who have been converted to Christianity by his words, and declares to them his joy at their Christian life which they prove by their good works and their perseverance, even through all trials, in expectation of eternal reward through Christ. He assures them also of their salvation, (election) because God had caused the preaching of His gospel, which they so willingly received, to produce in them such extraordinary fruit. He praises them not only for having listened to the gospel and abandoned idolatry, but for having regulated their lives in accordance with the faith, and having become a model to distant nations, for the report of their faith had spread far, and everywhere their zealous reception of the gospel was spoken of. Would that the same could be said of all Christians!
In the Gospel today the Church and the doctrine of Christ are likened to the kingdom of Heaven. The Church is compared to a grain of mustard-seed because there is a great similarity between them. The mustard-seed, though so small, grows in Palestine so high and so rapidly, that it becomes a broad tree, in which birds can build their nests. In like manner the Church of Christ was in the beginning very small like the mustard-seed, but it soon spread so wide that numberless people, even great philosophers and princes, came to find peace and protection under its branches. Christ’s doctrine is compared to leaven because like the leaven, which quickly penetrates the flour, and makes it palatable bread, the doctrine of Christ, spreading with surprising swiftness over the then known parts of the globe, gave the Gentiles a taste for divine things and for heavenly wisdom. Thus Christ’s doctrine penetrates him who receives it, sanctifies all his thoughts, words, and deeds, and makes him pleasing to God.
The Church of Christ was propagated by the omnipotence of God and the miracles which He so frequently wrought to prove the truth and divinity of the Christian religion; the courageous faith, and the pure moral life of the early Christians, which led many pagan minds to accept the doctrine of Christ; and the persecution of Christianity, for, as Tertullian says: “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.” The false doctrine of Mahomet, the erroneous teachings of Luther, Calvin, and earlier and later heretics have, it is true, also spread quickly far and wide; but this is not to be wondered at, for it is easy to lead people to a doctrine that encourages sensuality, and to which they are carried by their evil inclinations, as was the case with the doctrine of the impostor Mahomet, and three hundred years ago with the heresy of Luther; but to spread a doctrine which demands the subduing of the carnal, earthly inclinations, and to bend the will to the yoke of obedience to faith, something more than human eloquence is required. Thus, the Chancellor of England, Thomas More, who gave his blood for the true doctrine of Christ, wrote to Luther, who was boasting of the rapid increase of his sect: “It is easy to descend; seducing the people to a bad life is nothing more marvellous than that a heavy stone should fall of its own accord to the ground;” and Melanchton, a friend of Luther, in answer to his mother’s question, whether she should remain a Catholic or receive Luther’s doctrine, wrote : “In this religion it is easy to live, in the Catholic it is easy to die.”
Why did Christ always speak in parables? That His teaching by being simple might be more easily understood, and better remembered. He who is called upon to teach others, should, as did Christ, always speak to them according to their ability to understand, and by no means seek his own honor, but the honor of God, and the benefit of those who hear him.
St Pontian Dates of birth and death unknown. The “Liber Pontificalis” (ed. Duchesne, I, 145) gives Rome as his native city and calls his father Calpurnius. With him begins the brief chronicle of the Roman bishops of the third century, of which the author of the Liberian Catalogue of the popes made use in the fourth century and which gives more exact data for the lives of the popes. According to this account Pontian was made pope 21 July, 230, and reigned until 235. The schism of Hippolytus continued during his episcopate; towards the end of his pontificate there was a reconciliation between the schismatic party and its leader with the Roman bishop. After the condemnation of Origen at Alexandria (231-2), a synod was held at Rome, according to Jerome (Epist. XXXII, iv) and Rufinus (Apol. contra Hieron., II, xx), which concurred in the decisions of the Alexandrian synod against Origen; without doubt this synod was held by Pontian (Hefele, Konziliengeschichte, 2nd ed., I, 106 sq.). In 235 in the reign of Maximinus the Thracian began a persecution directed chiefly against the heads of the Church. One of its first victims was Pontian, who with Hippolytus was banished to the unhealthy island of Sardinia. To make the election of a new pope possible, Pontian resigned 28 Sept., 235, the Liberian Catalogue says “discinctus est”. Consequently Anteros was elected in his stead. Shortly before this or soon afterwards Hippolytus, who had been banished with Pontian, became reconciled to the Roman Church, and with this the schism he had caused came to an end. How much longer Pontian endured the sufferings of exile and harsh treatment in the Sardinian mines is unknown. According to old and no longer existing Acts of martyrs, used by the author of the “Liber Pontificalis”, he died in consequence of the privations and inhuman treatment he had to bear. Pope Fabian (236-50) had the remains of Pontian and Hippolytus brought to Rome at a later date and Pontian was buried on 13 August in the papal crypt of the Catacomb of Callistus. In 1909 the original epitaph was found in the crypt of St. Cecilia, near the papal crypt. The epitaph, agreeing with the other known epitaphs of the papal crypt, reads: PONTIANOS, EPISK. MARTUR (Pontianus, Bishop, Martyr). The word mártur was added later and is written in ligature [cf. Wilpert, “Die Papstgräber und die Cäciliengruft in der Katakombe des hl. Kalixtus” (Freiburg, 1909), 1 sq., 17 sq., Plate III]. He is placed under 13 Aug. in the list of the “Depositiones martyrum” in the chronographia of 354. The Roman Martyrology gives his feast on 19 Nov.
INTROIT Psalm 96:7-8
Adore God, all you His angels: Sion hears and is glad, and the cities of Juda rejoice. Ps 96:1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Adore God, all you His angels: Sion hears and is glad, and the cities of Juda rejoice.
Grant us, we beseech You, almighty God, ever to think of spiritual things and in every word and work always to do what is well pleasing in Your sight. 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.
Be mindful of our weakness, almighty God, and because the burden of our sins weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of blessed Pontian, Your Martyr and Bishop, sustain us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. Amen.
Collect for the Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. 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. R. Amen.
EPISTLE I Thessalonians 1. 2-10
Lesson from the letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians: Brethren: We give thanks to God always for you all, making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing, being mindful of the work of your faith and labour and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father: knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election: for our Gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in
Achaia. For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but also in every place, your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves relate of us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (Whom He raised up from the dead), Jesus, Who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 101:16-17
The nations shall revere Your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. V. For the Lord has rebuilt Sion, and He shall appear in His glory. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Ps 96:1 The Lord is King; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 13:24-30
At that time Jesus spoke to the multitudes this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed of all seeds: but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof. Another parable He spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables He did not speak to them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 117:16-17
The right hand of the Lord has struck with power: the right hand of the Lord has exalted me; I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
May this offering, O God, we beseech Thee, cleanse and renew us, guide and protect us. 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. R. Amen.
By the offered gifts we beseech thee, O Lord, that thou kindly enlighten thy Church, so that thy flock may everywhere progress and prosper, and thy shepherds, under thy guidance may be pleasing to thy name. 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. R. Amen.
Secret for the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter. 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.
PREFACE of the Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 4:22
All marvelled at the words that came from the mouth of God.
We have been fed, O Lord, with heavenly delights, and beseech Thee, that we may ever hunger after those things by which we truly live. 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. R. Amen.
Being appeased, O Lord, guide thy Church, which has been nourished by holy refreshment, that under thy direction and powerful rule it may receive increase of liberty and may continue in religious integrity. 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. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Saints
May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse us and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity. 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. R. Amen.