October 15 Devotional (2021)


October 15th Commemoration: Saint Teresa of Ávila
(Nun and Reformer of the Church)

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to Manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


October 15, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: Ps 104:1-9, 24, 35b / Is 47:1-9 / Rev 17:1-18

Invitatory

The mercy of the Lord is everlasting: Come let us adore him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, 

* and to the Holy Ghost. 

As it was in the beginning, is now, 

* and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Opening Prayer

Oh my God!  I offer you all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to his infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them in the furnace of his merciful love.

Saint Therese of Lisieux [1]

The Hymn: “Come, Christians, Join to Sing” by Christian H. Bateman


A Fourth Century Prayer for Light and Guidance

Teach us always to keep in mind Your judgments, and to discourse of them, and own You continually as our Lord and Friend. Govern by Your will the works of our hands; and lead us in the right way, that we may do what is well-pleasing and acceptable to You, that through us unworthy Your holy name may be glorified. To You alone be praise and honor and worship eternally. AMEN. 

—Basil [2]

Short Verse

“We are mirrors of God, created to reflect him. Even when the water is not calm, it reflects the sky.”

Ernesto Cardenal
(quotation source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35b

In wisdom you have made them all

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

O Lord my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with honor and majesty,

wrapped in light as with a garment.

You stretch out the heavens like a tent,

you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,

you make the clouds your chariot,

you ride on the wings of the wind,

you make the winds your messengers,

fire and flame your ministers.

You set the earth on its foundations,

so that it shall never be shaken.

You cover it with the deep as with a garment;

the waters stood above the mountains.

At your rebuke they flee;

at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.

They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys

to the place that you appointed for them.

You set a boundary that they may not pass,

O Lord, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Praise the Lord!


A Fourth Century Prayer of Adoration 

O You Good Omnipotent, Who so cares for every one of us, as if You care for him alone; and so for all, as if all were but one! Blessed is the man who loves You, and his friend in You, and his enemy for You. For he only loses none dear to him, to whom all are dear in Him who cannot be lost. And who is that but our God, the God that made heaven and earth, and fills them, even by filling them creating them. And Your law is truth, and truth is Thyself. I behold how some things pass away that others may replace them, but You never depart, O God, my Father supremely good, Beauty of all things beautiful. To You will I intrust whatsoever I have received from You, so shall I lose nothing. You made me for Yourself, and my heart is restless until it repose in You. AMEN. 

—Augustine [3]

Midday Intercession

[4]

Short Verse

“He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely.”

St. Catherine of Siena
[quotation source]
Woodcut in 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle depicting the fall of Babylon.

Midday Reading: Isaiah 47:1-9

Throneless nations

1 Come down and sit in the dust,

O virgin daughter of Babylon;

sit on the ground without a throne,

O daughter of the Chaldeans!

For you shall no more be called

tender and delicate.

2 Take the millstones and grind flour,

put off your veil,

strip off your robe, uncover your legs,

pass through the rivers.

3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,

and your disgrace shall be seen.

I will take vengeance,

and I will spare no one.

4 Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts is his name—

is the Holy One of Israel.

5 Sit in silence, and go into darkness,

O daughter of the Chaldeans;

for you shall no more be called

the mistress of kingdoms.

6 I was angry with my people;

I profaned my heritage;

I gave them into your hand;

you showed them no mercy;

on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.

7 You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”

so that you did not lay these things to heart

or remember their end.

8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,

who sit securely,

who say in your heart,

“I am, and there is no one besides me;

I shall not sit as a widow

or know the loss of children”:

9 These two things shall come to you

in a moment, in one day;

the loss of children and widowhood

shall come upon you in full measure,

in spite of your many sorceries

and the great power of your enchantments.

Midday Lesson

The Humiliation of Babylon

“Here Isaiah predicted the fall of Babylon more than 150 years before it happened. At this time, Babylon had not yet emerged as the mightiest force on earth, the proud empire that would destroy Judah and Jerusalem. But the Babylonians, Judah’s captors, would become captives themselves in 539 B.C. God, not Babylon, has the ultimate power. He used Babylon to punish his sinful people; he would use Medo-Persia to destroy Babylon and free his people.” [5]

Our reading begins with the words (verse 1), Come down and sit in the dust… without a throne. “Royal power was symbolized by a throne (cf. 6:1). Its symbolism was so powerful that Sennacherib took a portable throne along to receive homage from those whom he captured. The loss of the throne thus indicated despair and powerlessness.” [6]

“Grinding grain at the flour mill [verse 2] was one of the most menial of tasks, often done by slave girls in both Egypt and Mesopotamia.” [7]  Verse 2 reads, Take the millstones and grind flour, put off your veil, strip off your robe, uncover your legs, pass through the rivers. Regarding the words, put off your veil, “in Middle Assyrian and Hittite laws, a married woman was veiled at the wedding, apparently by the husband, and veiling publicly indicates that wedding. In the Gilgamesh Epic, Gilgamesh mourns his dead friend Enkidu by covering Enkidu’s face ‘like a bride,’ suggesting a bride is the paradigmatic veiled person. There is no indication from pictorial representations that veils were regularly worn in Israel or among her neighbors by married women subsequently, suggesting their use only by brides in conjunction with the ceremony itself. It is the veiling that turns the woman into a bride, according to a Middle Assyrian law: ‘If a man would veil his concubine, 5 (or) 6 of his companions he shall gather and he shall veil her in their presence. He shall say, ‘She is (my) wife.’’ This covering symbolizes the duty of care and provision. The bride’s unveiling by the groom in private symbolized the new intimate relationship. In contrast, a harlot was not to veil herself; her head had to remain uncovered. Unveiling such as this is the sign of an extramarital relationship, since the veil was neither placed nor removed by a husband but by the woman herself in the context of intimacy with others. Unveiling or uncovering such as this is the sign of a breach of relationship. In Old Babylonian texts from Nuzi and elsewhere, stripping and expulsion signified a divorce, in which she is stripped and driven out naked. bare your legs. Respectable women are generally portrayed with long skirts, so uncovered legs were considered inappropriate.” [8]

Nakedness, verse 3, was “reserved for people who were poor, prisoners (20:2–4), dancing girls, or worse.” [9]

“The use of ‘I am’ [in verse 8] would have immediately struck a chord for this Israelite audience… but there is no claim too arrogant for these kings to make for themselves. An Assyrian king of the ninth century, Ashurnasirpal, had a list of 11 ‘I am’ titles for himself.” [10]

Verse 9 mentions many sorceries. “Babylonia was famous in the ancient world for its magic and divinatory practices. Literally thousands of texts have been uncovered that deal with a multitude of subjects, including incantations that help alleviate the pain of a toothache, help a baby that is stuck in the womb, and help a mother who is barren. It appears that the common person hired an incantation priest for even the most mundane problem. The priest then came and recited a spell to either exorcise a problematic demon or other divine irritant. Incantations and magical spells were used frequently in Mesopotamia, often in close proximity with medical texts since they both concerned, among other things, the avoidance or amelioration of sickness. Incantations were intended to magically bind the supernatural powers that posed a threat.” [11]

“Caught up in the pursuit of power and pleasure, Babylon believed in its own greatness and claimed to be the only power on earth. Babylon felt completely secure, and Nebuchadnezzar, its king, exalted himself as a ‘god.’ But the true God taught Nebuchadnezzar a powerful lesson by taking everything away from him (Dan 4:28-37). Our society is addicted to pleasure and power, but these can quickly vanish. Look at your own life and ask yourself how you can be more responsible with the talents and possessions God has given you. How can you use your life for God’s honor rather than your own?” [12]


A Third Century Prayer for Table Grace 

In the evening and morning and noonday we praise You, we thank You, and pray You, Master of all, to direct our prayers as incense before You. Let not our hearts turn away to words or thoughts of wickedness, but keep us from all things that might hurt us; for to You, O Lord, our eyes look up, and our hope is in Thee: confound us not, O our God; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. 

—Eastern Church Vespers [13]

Short Verse

“Abba John the Less used to say, ‘Humility and the fear of God are more excellent than all the [other J virtues.’”

Sayings of the Holy Fathers
[14]
The Whore of Babylon
by William Blake 1809

Eventide Reading: Revelation 17:1-18

Earth’s kings conquered

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7 But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

Eventide Lesson

The Great Prostitute and the Beast

Today’s reading from the Revelation of John comes from a section about Babylon being “destroyed by a great angel (17:1-19:10).” [15]

“The harlot [prostitute, v. 1] of the vision is referred to as Babylon, the ancient city known for its moral transgressions and its pagan governance. Its seven hills could represent either Rome or Jerusalem, each of which was referred to as a ‘City of Seven Hills.'” [16] The Roman Empire, the most likely candidate for the harlot “with its claims of divinity, sovereignty, and eternity (see vv. 9, 18), [was] opposed to God and the Church: symbolic of all evil rule. In the Bible, harlotry frequently symbolizes apostasy and idolatry (see Is 1:21; 23:15; Jer 13:25-27; Ezk 16; Hos 4:12; Nah 3:4).” [17] Whether Jerusalem or the Roman Empire, “Babylon is being taken to task for its pagan practices, its rejection of Christ, and its persecution of Christians.” [18]

“The many waters on which the harlot is seated [verse 1] portray both the waters of Babylon – the canals and tributaries of the Euphrates [Ps 137:1; Jer 28:12-13] – and the waters of Rome, the seas surrounding Italy. They symbol the nations who submit to the harlot’s rule (v. 15).” [19]

“Fornication [sexual immorality, v. 2], committed by the kings of the earth with the harlot, is a metaphor for infidelity to the Lord (Jer 3:1-5; Ezk 23; Hos 2). The vassal kingdoms within the Roman Empire [had] accepted the cults of Rome and her emperors and [had] solidified their obeisance with political and economic obligations – and [had] fallen into moral decadence.” [20] Thus, “the wine of this fornication… made the inhabitants of the earth to become drunk, seduced, and stupefied by a hideous eucharist of death, focused on the persecution and martyrdom of Christians (v. 6; see Jer 28:7).” [21]

Described in verse 3, “the woman’s position on the beast shows” the system of the Roman Empire “supported by the Antichrist-emperor. The names of blasphemy [v. 3] may be the divine titles assumed by the emperors.” [22]

A 1523 woodcut by Hans Burgkmair, for Martin Luther‘s translation of the New Testament, depicting the Whore of Babylon riding the seven-headed Beast (a hand-coloured copy)

“The harlot is arrayed in abominable luxury [v. 4]: purple (an extremely expensive and rare dye from the murex shellfish of Phoenicia), scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls. Contrast this with the pure linen in which the bride is arrayed in 21:2. The harlot’s cup contains the spiritual pollutions by which she contaminates humanity. In Jer 28:7, Babylon is pictured as a golden cup in the hand of the Lord which makes all the earth madly intoxicated.” [23]

Verse 5 says, And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” “Roman law stated [that] harlots must wear headbands exhibiting their name. This great harlot bears the mysterious name of BABYLON… MOTHER OF HARLOTS. For the late-first-century Christians, Babylon was incarnate in Rome (see 1Pt 5:13), but it is primarily a spiritual reality, a ‘mystery,’ transcending concrete manifestations. For Babylon has always stood for rebellion against God (see Gn 11): self-exaltation and idolatry. She is the mother OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (lit., ‘detestable things’), the prostitution of God’s creation. And she finds her life in a perverse eucharist, the death of those united with Life Incarnate.” [24]

In verses 8-11, “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is represents the Roman Empire or the hellish Antichrist, who seems to have been destroyed only to resurrect, in imitations of the true Christ.” [25] Verses 9-10 read, This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. “The seven mountains or hills (v. 9) was a well-known description of Rome herself. Numerous interpretations have been given of these verses. A likely historical explanation is that the beast is Nero, who was expected to return to life after he died; the five who have fallen (v. 10) are Augustus through Nero; Vespasian is the one who is; and the beast who is himself also the eighth (v. 11) is Domitian, seen as Nero revived. But, again, the reality seems to be transcendent as well. Certainly, at least, the eighth – the number signifying complete abundance – is a type of the final Antichrist.” [26] Thus, “the seven heads probably represent seven Roman rulers who carried out persecutions against the Church (cf. Rev 12:3)… The harlot is responsible for the deaths of many Christians through violent persecution.” [27]

Verse 12 says, And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. “The ten kings may be symbolic of all the nations allied with Antichrist in his war against the Church. They completely give themselves over to the beast, but the authority they receive is of very short duration (symbolically, one hour). Though they join the beast in his persecution fury, ultimately Christ and His faithful triumph (19:11-21). As the seal of the eucharistic bread, from which is taken the mystical ‘Lamb’ (v. 14), reads: ‘Jesus Christ Victor.’” [28]

In verses 15-18, “the peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues represent the diversity of the Roman Empire (see v. 18). Reaping what she sows, Rome will be conquered as she has conquered. That the ten horns (vassal kings) and the beast (false prophet) will rise up against the harlot (v. 16) indicates the self-destructiveness of evil (see Ezk 23:11-35). The Antichrist proves himself (in contrast to the true Christ, v. 14) the traitor or traitors. Rome will be stripped, devoured, and burned (see Lv 21:9, where death by fire is prescribed for a harlot who is the daughter of a priest).” [29]

Compline Prayer

Give me sweet repose… Let the wings of thy mercy protect me. Raise me up again in a time when thou mayest be found, at the hour of prayer; And let me awake right early to praise and worship thee. Amen.

  • Lancelot Andrewes [30]

Citations:

[1] Admin–. (2018, April 30). 5 Daily Offering prayers from 5 different saints. Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. https://popesprayerusa.net/2018/05/08/5-daily-offering-prayers-5-different-saints/

[2] Potts, J. M. (2020). Fourth Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 39). essay. 

[3] Potts, J. M. (2020). Fourth Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 41). essay. 

[4] Forward Movement. (2013). Intercessions. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 522). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[5] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Isaiah. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6012). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[6] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Isaiah. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4146). essay, Zondervan.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] Ibid, 6, P. 4147

[10] Ibid, 6, P. 4147

[11] Ibid, 6, P. 4147

[12] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Isaiah. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6013). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[13] Potts, J. M. (2020). Third Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 32). essay. 

[14] Of humility and of how a Man should think lightly of himself, and should esteem himself the Inferior of every Man. (1907). In The Sayings of the Holy Fathers: Books I and II (Kindle ed., p. 153).  W. Budge (Ed.)

[15] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1743). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[16] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Revelation. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3849). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[17] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1769). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[18] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Revelation. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3849). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[19] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1769). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[20] Ibid. 19

[21] Ibid. 19

[22] Ibid. 19

[23] Ibid. 19

[24] Ibid. 19

[25] Ibid. 19

[26] Ibid. 19, Ibid. 1769-1770

[27] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Revelation. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3849). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[28] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1770). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[29] Ibid. 28

[30] Andrewes, Lancelot. The Private Devotions and Manual for the Sick of Launcelot Andrews (Kindle ed., p. 2676). Unknown. Kindle Edition. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: