Oct. 11 is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I).
At 10 a.m. on Oct. 11, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize four new saints in St. Peter’s Square.
Damien of Molokai
Joseph Damien de Veuster (1840-1889) of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary was famous for serving a Hawaiian leper colony until he contracted the disease and died there at age 49.
Activity: Watch one of the movies about Damien. Warning: Preview your selection first; you may want to fast-forward for young children the depictions of the island’s immorality.
Marie de la Croix (Jeanne) Jugan (1792-1879) founded the Little Sisters of the Poor. She’s famous for saying, “We must spoil the poor all we can.”
Activity: Find a video about Jeanne at YouTube.com. To imitate her, take your children to visit a nursing home.
Sigmund Felix Felinski (1822-1895) was archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. The czar sent him to Siberia for 20 years over a religious dispute. He bravely started a parish there.
Activity: Remind children not to be defeated by difficult circumstances.
Dominican at Heart
Blessed Francisco Coll y Guitart (1812-1875), because of Spain’s suppression of religious orders, couldn’t be ordained a Dominican, but he always considered himself part of the order.
Activity: Tell your kids the difference between “secular” (that is “in the world”) priests and religious orders.
The Handsome Trappist
Rafael Arnáiz Barón (1911-1938) was a Trappist Cistercian Oblate of the Abbey of San Isidoro de Dueñas in Spain. He was very successful in school, known for being handsome, intellectual and artistic. Pope John Paul II named him a model for youth.
Activity: Discuss the different vocations with your children, and point out that there is no single type of person who enters religious life.
Oct. 15 is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, who is famous for the works that made her a doctor of the church, but also for a bookmark found among her things after her death. On it she had written: “Let nothing disturb you / Let nothing frighten you / All things are passing away: / God never changes. / Patience obtains all things. / Whoever has God lacks nothing; / God alone suffices.”
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30 or 10:17-27
Today’s readings start by praising the virtue of wisdom — and finish by pointing out that it is insufficient.
The words of praise for wisdom in the first reading are taken from the Book of Wisdom, which is sometimes called “The Wisdom of Solomon.” When Solomon was granted any wish, he chose wisdom, and the First Book of Kings calls him the wisest human being ever. But, ultimately, it was not enough. Solomon died disgraced, having rejected God and fallen into idolatry and immoral relationships.
His life shows that wisdom isn’t enough to make us moral.
It’s a great start — by it we know the difference between right and wrong, and we are able to apply the commandments to every situation. We can better discern the good.
But to act on the good, we need to choose the good — not just know it.
So, if not wisdom, is willpower enough to make one good?
That’s the question the Gospel addresses.
The rich young man approaches Christ, and we get the impression that he has both wisdom and willpower. He is wise in that he knows the commandments and knows that Christ is the right person to approach about them. He says he has also followed the commandments, and Christ seems to agree that he has.
But then Jesus tells him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”
So, wisdom is not enough, and moral uprightness is not enough, either.
To be fully human, we must also have a committed relationship with Christ.
We must put God above all lesser things. After the Incarnation, that means we must devote ourselves to God through the person of Jesus Christ.
This proves too much for the young man, as, in his day, it had proved too much for Solomon. The rich young man walks away sad, and Christ tells his apostles that riches can ultimately thwart us, by drawing our hearts from their true purpose.
If we think we’ll outwit God in the end — that we’ll spend our lives devoted to lesser things and then switch our devotion to him in the end — we should remember what the second reading says.
“No creature is concealed from him,” says the Letter of St. Paul, “but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.”
Tom and April Hoopes were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and a former Register editor.