1 Corinthians 15:1…

I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the Apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed

Saint Focus: Monday is the special commemoration of Sts Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin Mary whose Nativity is Sunday. Like more Jewish couples with no children they prayed earnestly for a child. Unlike most, however, they continued this into their old age and the prayer was answered. We should remember their example of persevering in prayer even when the time for an answer seems to have passed.

Prayer:  O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.

*Readings from the Practical Commentary this week
1 Kings 17

THE Philistines again took the field against the Israelites and posted themselves on one mountain, while the Israelites occupied another. And behold, there was in the camp of the Philistines a giant named Goliath. He was not only taller than any other man, but his strength was in proportion to his size. He had a brazen helmet on his head and was clothed in scaly armour of enormous weight.

He had greaves of brass on his legs, and a brazen shield on his shoulder, and the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. This giant, clad in armour from head to foot, came daily out, morning and evening, from the Philistine camp, and challenged any one of the Israelites to meet him in single combat, saying: “Give me a man, and let him fight with me hand to hand. If he be able to kill me, we will be servants to you; but if I prevail and kill him, you shall serve us.”

This went on for forty days, and there was no one found in all Israel to accept the challenge of Goliath. Hence Saul and the Israelites were in great terror and confusion, because of Goliath and of his proud boasting that they could find no man in Israel to fight him.

When David’s three eldest brothers had gone out with Saul to battle, his father told him to take bread and go to the camp, and see how it fared with his brothers. Whilst David was conversing with the people, Goliath came out, as usual, from the Philistine camp and repeated his insulting and contemptuous challenge. Full of surprise David asked: “What shall be given to the man that slayeth the Philistine who defieth the army of the living God?” Now when Eliab, his eldest brother, heard that David was asking such questions of the soldiers, he grew angry and said: “Why camest thou hither? Why didst thou leave those few sheep in the desert? I know thy pride and that thou camest down to see the battle.”

However, these words were repeated to Saul, who sent for David and said to him: “Thou art not able to withstand this Philistine, for thou art but a boy, and he is a warrior.” But David said: “Let no man be dismayed; I, thy servant, will go and fight against the Philistine. For thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion and a bear and took a ram out of the midst of the flock. And I pursued after them and struck them; and they rose up against me, and I caught them by the throat, and I strangled and killed them. I will go now and take away the reproach of the people. The Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and the bear, will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”

Prayer:  O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.


At last Saul consented and said: “Go, and the Lord be with thee.” Saul then clothed David with his own armour or coat of mail, and put a helmet of brass on his head. But David, unused to wear armour, could not move freely under its weight, and therefore he laid it aside.

Then he took his staff which he had always in his hands, and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in the shepherd’s scrip which he had with him; and taking a sling in his hand he went forth to meet the Philistine.

When Goliath drew near and beheld David coming on, he despised him and said: “Am I a dog that thou comest to me with a staff?” Then cursing David by his gods he said: “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh to the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the earth.” David answered: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts whom thou hast defied. I will slay thee and take away thy head from thee, that all may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Meanwhile the Philistine arose, advanced and made ready for the fight; David, on his part, making haste ran up to meet the giant. While running he quickly took a stone from his scrip, laid it in his sling, and swinging it swiftly he aimed and struck Goliath so violently on the forehead that he reeled and fell on his face upon the earth. Then David, rushing up and taking Goliath’s sword from its scabbard, cut off his head.

The Philistines, seeing that their champion was dead, were seized with fear and fled. But the Israelites, following after, slew a great number of them, and took possession of their camp.

Prayer:  Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from Christ’s side, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O good Jesus, hear me, Within Thy wounds hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malicious enemy defend me, In the hour of my death call me, And bid me come unto Thee, That I may praise Thee with Thy saints, and with Thy angels, Forever and ever, Amen.


1 Kings Commentary

Goliath was arrogant and trusted in his own strength and mighty weapons. He boasted, sought the single combat for his own glory and scorned the people of God. This pride was the cause of his fall. “Pride comes before a fall”, and “humiliation followeth the proud, and glory shall uphold the humble of spirit” (Prov. 29:23).

David was humble. It was no thought of renown which impelled him to fight the giant, but only zeal for God’s glory and the good of his people. He trusted in God’s help and not in his own powers or skill, and went forth to the unequal combat, full of the confidence that God would overthrow the Philistine by his means, and would thus manifest His power to the heathen. “The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Kings 17:37). God rewarded the humility and confidence of His servant by giving him a splendid victory over the terrible giant. God wished, by this victory of David, to draw the eyes of the Israelites to his virtues, and to awaken in them a feeling of gratitude towards him who was to be their future king.

Prayer:  Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


1 Kings 18…

WHEN David returned from the slaying of the Philistine, Saul called for him and asked: “Young man, of what family art thou?” Then David related all about his family and about himself. Now Jonathan, the eldest son of Saul, was standing by and listened to the words of David; and when David had made an end of speaking, Jonathan began to love him as his own soul. There was a custom for friends to exchange garments; so Jonathan took his coat and gave it to David. He took his sword, and his bow, and his girdle, and gave them also to David.

Now when David returned home with Saul, after having slain Goliath, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, with flutes and cymbals, and they sang: “Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Hearing this Saul was angry, and ever after regarded David as his rival. Next day Saul was again troubled by the evil spirit, and whilst David played the harp before him, the king threw a spear at him hoping to nail him to the wall.

David, however, stepped aside and avoided the blow. Some time after David was appointed by Saul captain over a thousand men. He was moreover promised Michol, the king’s daughter, in marriage, if he killed a hundred Philistines. By this proposal Saul hoped to get rid of David, thinking that he would never be able to fulfil the conditions, but that he would be slain by the Philistines. Saul, however, was disappointed, for David slew two hundred of the enemy, and thereby gained the affection of the whole people. This unexpected success of David enraged Saul more than ever.

Blinded by passion, Saul ordered Jonathan, his son, to kill David. But Jonathan, knowing David’s innocence and virtue and loving him exceedingly, gave warning to him and said: “My father seeketh to kill thee; wherefore look to thyself, and abide in a secret place, and thou shalt be hid.” David listened to his advice and remained hidden in the fields.

One day, however, when Saul was in a better humour than usual, Jonathan said to him: “Sin not, O king! against thy servant David, because he has not sinned against thee, and his works are very good towards thee. Why, therefore, wilt thou sin against innocent blood?”

Saul was appeased by these words of Jonathan, and swore that David should not be slain. And Jonathan brought David again into his father’s presence, and Saul was gracious to him as he had been before. At this time, however, war was renewed against the Philistines, and David went out against them and defeated them with great slaughter.

Prayer:  Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit,  grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


1 Kings 18 cont..

Then the evil spirit came back upon Saul, who tried to pierce David with his spear as he played upon the harp; but David warded off the blow and fled. Jonathan, however, took occasion once again to speak to his father in behalf of David. But Saul was angry and blamed his son for his affection for the son of Isai, who was supplanting him with the people.

He told Jonathan that so long as David lived, he could have no hope of ascending the throne. “Therefore now presently send and fetch him to me, for he is the son of death.” Jonathan asked: “Why shall he die? What hath he done?” And Saul, being enraged at Jonathan, took his spear to strike him. But Jonathan escaped and fled to David’s hiding-place, in order to warn him against returning to the court. The two friends then embraced each other, wept together, and before parting, renewed their vow of friendship in the name of God.

Saul was avowedly the tallest man in Israel, but he had not the courage to face Goliath, because he had no confidence in God. He ought to have been all the more grateful to David for freeing him and all Israel from this proud and overbearing enemy. But because the people praised David more than they praised himself, he allowed a hateful envy to take possession of his heart. From this time he disliked him, and was suspicious and distrustful of the noble-minded David. See how ungrateful and unjust envy makes a man!

David and Jonathan were knit together by a real, true, noble friendship. Jonathan loved David for his good qualities, his piety, courage, modesty &c. He loved him “as his own soul”, though he knew that David, and not he, was destined to succeed Saul as king. He remained true to his friend in his adversity, and did everything that he could to help him. David responded with all his heart to the love of the king’s son. When Jonathan died, David tore his clothes for grief, wept bitterly and expressed his sorrow in the most moving words. A true and noble friend is a great treasure; therefore Holy Scripture says: “Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and they that fear the Lord shall find him” (Ecclus. 6:15, 16). True friendship can only exist between good people. He who is not faithful to God and does not love and fear Him, will only be faithful to his friend as long as he hopes to gain something by his friendship.

Prayer:  We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
*Sub Tuum Praesidium


The point about quiet, individual time with God is that this is the time of hearing. The temptation is always to pour out our problems, worries, etc., to God. God, however already knows all that, He doesn’t need telling. This is the time to simply sit in front of an icon of Christ and listen.Try to empty oneself of thoughts about troubles, try to calm oneself, use the Jesus prayer for a bit, but achieve quiet and calm and attune yourself to sensibility. This will eventually allow God’s communication to come through. Concentrate on that icon of Christ to drown out distracting intrusions. God can and occasionally does come through quite clearly, usually before we have actually framed the question. At other times the answer seems to seep in and we feel certain that this is the answer. And most of the time there is no immediate answer, but subsequently a door will open inviting us to see a new direction or a new answer.”  (Fr Michael in the UK on prayer)

Prayer:  Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me.  Attend to the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto Thee. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.  Hearken unto me, O Lord.
*Psalm 140 (141)