January 19, St Joseph (Józef) Sebastian Pelczar

January 19
SAINT JOSEPH SEBASTIAN PELCZAR, BISHOP
Obligatory memorial
In the Diocese of Rzeszów:
Primary Patron Saint of the Diocese – Solemnity

Joseph Sebastian (Józef Sebastian) Pelczar was born on 17 January 1842 in Korczyna (the Diocese of Przemyśl). Brought up in a religious atmosphere, he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1864. After studying in Rome, he was the prefect of the Seminary of Przemyśl and in 1877-1899 professor of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. As a priest and professor he was known for an enthusiasm and devotion for the Blessed Sacrament, Heart of God and Blessed Virgin Mary, which he expressed in his service as a pastor and writer. Worried about the immoral conduct of girls, as well as the sick and poor, he founded the Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1894 in Kraków. In 1899 he became auxiliary bishop and in 1900 diocesan bishop of Przemyśl. He died in the odour of sanctity on 28 March 1924, after 25 years of ardent service as a bishop. John Paul II declared him blessed in 1991, and canonised him in Rome on 18 May 2003.

Common of Pastors.

[PDF Version]

OFFICE OF READINGS

SECOND READING

From the work of Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, bishop
(Spiritual Life, or Christian Perfection, Przemyśl 1924, vol 2, pp. 162-166)
The incentives to love God

What glory, what joy it is for us that God lets us love Him and admits us to sweet familiarity with Him, and even calls us His friends. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” It is still not enough: God wants our love; not that He needs it for His own happiness, but it is we who need it for our happiness. That is why He gave us a heart prepared to love and this heart is what He demands as the only pleasing offering. For this reason He also sent His Son in order to set the earth on fire of love that is to burn on the altars of human hearts. Furthermore, God asks for this heart, “Son, give me your heart” and is trying to win it over by revealing to it the infinite love of His own heart. Thus, wherever man goes, they see God’s love, they jostle love everywhere. The whole world, visible and invisible alike, calls to Him incessantly with a mysterious voice, “Man, love God.”

However, since man all too often ignores this voice, God gives them a separate commandment, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And whoever would not love you, O essential Love?!

We ought to love God as He is the worthiest of our love as the Supreme Perfection, even if there were no reward for those who love. God, as St Thomas of Aquinas says, as the supreme Truth is the first object of cognition for our mind; as the supreme Goodness – the first object of love for our heart. Then, if every essential goodness deserves our love, let alone the supreme Goodness and the source of all goodness.

We ought to love God because He is the most merciful Creator, the kindest Lord, the most caring Father. Hence, it is right for creatures to love their Creator, servants – their Lord, and children – their Father.

We ought to love God because He gave us His only begotten Son who, having taken human nature, became the Brother, Master, Saviour, King, Father, Pastor, Friend and Groom of our souls. It was He who, in the unity with the Father and Holy Spirit, loved us first, and with eternal love as He said, “With age-old love I have loved you.” With the most tender love which pales in comparison with motherly love. With the most generous love taken as far as self-sacrifice. With the love that is so great as God Himself and thus – infinite.

If you want to know the vastness of this love, meditate on the works of God that He performed for man, which are the three eternal monuments of love: the manger, the cross and the altar. Above all, stand at the foot of the cross and have a good look at the love of the Crucified, look at the Crucified. Stand before the Holy Sacrament and reflect on this unmeasured prostration of the hidden God, this immense self-sacrifice, this complete surrender to man out of boundless love. Then, penetrate the Heart of Jesus and look at His love. Indeed, no mind is able to comprehend how big is the fire that consumes this most merciful heart. If He had been told to die for us not just once, but a thousand times, or to suffer for just one man all that He suffered for us all, His love would have willingly accepted that thousandfold death and would have so suffered for one man as for all. Had it been necessary to hang on the cross until the final judgement, instead of three hours, His inexhaustible love would have done that. Therefore, Jesus has loved us more than He suffered for us.

O my God’s love, how incomparably greater you were than you revealed yourself externally. These  inexpressible sufferings and wounds are the proof of great love, but they fail to manifest all its vastness, for it rather was closed inside than revealed outside. It was a sparkle of the great fire, a drop of the bottomless sea of love. This love is at its peak in the most holy Mystery of the Altar. Whoever, then, would not love the God of love? [1]

RESPONSORY 1 John 4:16; 19

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
 Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

We love because he first loved us.
 Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O almighty and eternal God,
you inspired Saint Joseph Sebastian, bishop, to teach the paths of justice with his word, writing and example,
grant through his intercession that our knowledge and love of you may continually grow.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum. Probatum seu confirmatum, die 3 aprilis 1991. Prot. 277/91.

[1] Translated by DChojnacki (2016).

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