For the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, quite possibly the most powerful of affirmations is given by our Lord and Savior that it isn’t that difficult to tell who are the false prophets and heretics for by their fruits we shall know them. There is nothing ambiguous about Christ’s words that a bad tree will be chopped down and rooted out, then cast into the fire. What other kind of fire would the Son of Man be talking about in His parable but eternal hellfire? It dovetails with St. Paul’s words in the epistle that the wages of sin is death, as in mortal sin equals death to eternal life; and that eternal life is available only through the grace of God, our salvation merited by Christ’s offering Himself on the Cross, shedding every last drop of His Most Precious Blood for us. A most fitting commentary to the Epistle and Gospel for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost in these tumultuous times.
The Church honours to-day several Saints who lived at different times and in different countries.
Nazarius, baptized by Pope St. Linus at Rome, in his turn baptized young Celsus who was born at Cimiez near Nice. They betook themselves to Milan, where they were arrested by the pagans and beheaded about the year 68. In 395 their bodies were discovered and in the tomb of St. Nazarius was found a phial of his blood as red as if it had been shed that very day.
From his youth Nazarius decided to devote his life to preaching Christ and to aid wandering Christians. With this intent he left Rome and arrived in Mediolanum (Milan). Saint Nazarius met Protasius and Gervasius when he was visiting Christians in the Mediolanum prison. He so loved the twins that he wanted to suffer and die with them. The ruler heard that he was visiting the prisoners, so he had Saint Nazarius beaten with rods, then driven from the city.
Saint Nazarius proceeded to Gaul (modern France), and there he successfully preached Christianity and converted many pagans. In the city of Kimel he baptized Celsius, the son of a Christian woman who entrusted her child to the saint. Nazarius raised the boy in piety, and acquired a faithful disciple and coworker in his missionary labors. The pagans threw the saints to wild animals to be eaten, but the beasts would not touch them. Afterwards, they tried to drown the martyrs in the sea, but they walked upon the water as if on dry land. The soldiers who carried out the orders were so amazed that they themselves accepted Christianity and released the holy martyrs.
Saints Nazarius and Celsius went to Milan and visited Gervasius and Protasius in prison. For this, they were brought before Nero, who ordered that Saints Nazarius and Celsius be beheaded. Soon after this the holy brothers Gervasius and Protasius were also executed. The relics of all four martyrs were stolen by a Christian named Philip, and were buried in his house.
Many years later, during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius (408-450), Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (December 7), discovered the relics of Saints Gervasius and Protasius through a revelation from God. In the reign of Arcadius and Honorius, Saint Ambrose also discovered the relics of Saints Nazarius and Celsius. The holy relics, glorified by many healings, were solemnly transferred to the Milan cathedral.
Victor I, born in Africa, succeeded St. Eleutherius, on the pontifical throne. He fixed the date of Easter for the whole Church according to the rules observed still now. He decided that any one might baptize in cases of necessity with unblessed water. He was martyred under Septimus Severus, A.D. 202.
Innocent I was born at Albano and was a contemporary of St. Augustine and of St. Jerome. The latter wrote of him: “Keep the faith of St. Innocent who fills the Apostolic Chair and who is the successor and spiritual son of Anastasius, of happy memory; receive no other doctrine, however wise and attractive it may appear.” He died A.D. 417.
INTROIT Psalm 46: 2
All ye nations, clap your hands: shout unto God with the voice of joy. (Ps. 46: 3) For the Lord is most high, He is terrible He is a great King over all the earth. v. Glory be…etc
O God, whose providence faileth not in its designs, we humbly entreat Thee, to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us all things which be profitable for 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.
Commemoratio Ss. Nazarii et Celsi Martyrum
May the martyrdom of Your Saints Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and Innocent, give us courage, O Lord, and may it give us a help to counter-balance our weakness.
Collect of the Souls
From all perils of soul and body defend us, O Lord, we beseech thee, and by the intercession of blessed and gloriosus ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, graciously grant us safety and peace that all adversities and errors being overcome, thy Church may serve thee in security and freedom…
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Romans 6: 19-23
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Brethren, I speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh for as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity for iniquity, so now yield your members to serve justice unto sanctification. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from justice. What fruit therefore had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting. For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, is life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 33: 12, 6
Come, children, hearken to me I will teach you the fear of the Lord. V. Come ye to Him and be enlightened and your faces shall not be confounded. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 46. 2) O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 7: 15-21
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth; good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith of Me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven but he that doeth the will of My Father Who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Daniel 3: 40
As in holocausts of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs so let our sacrifice be made in Thy sight this day, that it may please Thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in Thee, O Lord.
O God, who hast justified the variety of sacrifices of the Law by the perfection of this one Sacrifice: accept the Sacrifice of Thy servants who are dedicated to Thee, and sanctify it with a blessing like to that which Thou didst bestow upon the gifts of Abel, that what each one of us has offered to the honor of Thy Majesty, may profit us all unto salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
Commemoratio Ss. Nazarii et Celsi Martyrum
Grant, almighty God, that we may please You by these gifts which we bring in honor of Your Saints Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and Innocent, so that by offering them we may be strengthened by Your accepting them.
Of the souls
Hear us, O God, our salvation that through the power of this Sacrament thou mayest defend us from all enemies of soul and body and bestow upon us grace here and glory hereafter…
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Blessed 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:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Psalm 30: 3
Bow down Thine ear, make haste to deliver me.
May Thy healing work, O Lord, both mercifully free us from our perversities, and lead us to those things which are right. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.
Commemoratio Ss. Nazarii et Celsi Martyrum
Be appeased by the prayers of Your Saints Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and Innocent, O Lord, and grant, we beseech You, that the rites we perform in this life may avail for our eternal salvation.
Of the souls
May the offering of this divine Sacrament cleanse and protect us, O Lord we beseech thee, and by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, may it purify us from all sin, and free us from all adversity…
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, For ever and ever.
PROPER LAST GOSPEL Luke 21:9-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; these things must first come to pass, but the end will not be at once. Then He said to them, Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes in various places, and pestilences and famines, and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things they will arrest you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, dragging you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It shall lead to your bearing witness. Resolve therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand how you are to make your defense. For I Myself will give you utterance and wisdom, which all your adversaries will not be able to resist or gainsay. But you will be delivered up by your parents and brothers and relatives and friends; and some of you they will put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake; yet not a hair of your head shall perish. By your patience you will win your souls.
R. Thanks be to God.