Lent: March 29th
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Other Commemorations: Bl. Berthold of Mount Carmel (RM) ; Other Titles: Berthold of Calabria
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It is one week before the end of Lent, a week from Spy Wednesday. This Mass reminds us that the hatred against Christ was growing, and the plot to kill Him was developing. The three young men in the fiery furnace are a reminder of what Jesus will endure. —The Vatican II Weekday Missal
Today the Roman Martyrology honors Blessed Berthold of Mount Carmel (d. 1195). He was a soldier who fought in the Crusades. Following a vision of Christ, Bertold gave up the military life and became a hermit on Mount Carmel, trying to live like Elijah the Prophet. His community gave inspiration for the founding of the Carmelites.
The debate between Jesus and those participating in the Feast of Tabernacles continues in today’s gospel reading, with the focus now on God’s truth and the breadth of its reach. Jesus declares that those who hold fast to his word “will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” His listeners—some puzzled, some indignant—respond that, as they are the stock of Abraham, they “have never been in bondage to anyone.” How is it, they demand, “that you say, ‘You will be made free’?” The discussion deteriorates from there, with Jesus’s interlocutors mistakenly imagining that he is calling them bastard children. Yet, in their confusion and misapprehension, they bring us to the heart of the matter, proclaiming, “We have one Father, even God.” To which Jesus responds that, in that case, they ought to esteem him, for “I proceeded and came forth from the Father; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
The Son, the Light of the world, is teaching those in the Temple, and us, that salvation history has entered a new phase: while Israel remains in the truth that belongs by right to the descendants of Abraham (for God does not renege on his covenantal promises), the truth first revealed to Abraham is now being offered universally. And in the Kingdom that is breaking into history in Jesus’s person and mission, abiding in covenantal truth will no longer be a matter of lineage but of faith—an act of faith that, in principle, is open to everyone, thanks to the grace of God offered to all by the Son of God. The power of Trinitarian love and the truth about God’s relationship with his human creation cannot be confined, even if the distinctive role of Israel in witnessing to this truth will remain an essential part of salvation history. Now, however, there will no longer be “Jew or Gentile…slave or free” [Galatians 3:28]. All who adhere to the Son, who reveals the truth about the Father, will be one.
This truth that Jesus offers is not something his disciples possess—as, for example, Peter, Andrew, James, and John “possess” certain “truths” about fishing on the Sea of Galilee. On the contrary, the truth of God in Christ seizes and possesses the disciples, reshaping their lives, reordering their priorities, configuring those who embrace it in the imitation of the Son. This is truth with power, and its power is evangelical: this is a truth that must be offered to others and lavishly expended in mission. For the paradox of the truth that Jesus offers is that his presence within us conforms us more closely to him, and its grasp upon us increases the more we give his truth to those who have not yet received it. There are no zero-sum games in the economy of salvation, which is the expression in time of the ever-giving, ever-receiving truth, goodness and beauty of the Holy Trinity.
—George Weigel, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches
Bl. Berthold of Mt. Carmel
Blessed Berthold seems to have had a connection with the beginnings of the Carmelite Order. He was a relative of Aymeric, the Latin patriarch of Antioch who was installed in Antioch during the crusades. At the time, there were a number of hermits from the West scattered throughout Palestine, and Berthold gathered them together, founded a community of priests who settled on Mount Carmel, and became their first superior.
There is a legend that he was born at Limoges in France, studied in Paris, and was ordained a priest there. According to the legend, he accompanied Aymeric on the crusades and found himself in Antioch when it was being besieged by the Saracens. Through his urgings, the Christians in Antioch turned to prayer and penance, and the city was delivered.
What is known for certain is that Bl. Berthold directed the building of a monastery and church on Mount Carmel and dedicated the church in honor of the prophet Elias, who had defeated the priests of Baal there and seen the vision of the cloud out over the sea. This is confirmed in a letter of Peter Emilianus to King Edward I of England in 1282.
Berthold lived out his days on Mount Carmel, ruling the community he had founded for forty-five years until his death about 1195. His example and way of life stamped the beginnings of the Carmelite Order, leading to the drawing up of the order’s rule by St. Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, about 1210. That rule was approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226 and it is this primitive rule that is considered the foundation of the Order of Mount Carmel.
But it seems to have been Berthold who first organized the monastic life of the hermits on Mount Carmel and governed them until his death. St. Brocard, who apparently was his successor, petitioned Albert to compose a rule for them, undoubtedly codifying and completing the work begun by Berthold.
—Taken from ucatholic.com
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about Bl. Berthold:
- Read more about about the Order of Carmel: On the History and Spirit of Carmel.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Station with San Marcello al Corso (St. Marcellus at the Corso):
The Station today is at the church of St. Marcellus at the Corso. Legend claims that Pope St. Marcellus (308-309) was sentenced by Emperor Maxentius to look after the horses at the station of the Imperial mail on the Via Lata, where the Via del Corso now lies. He was freed by the people, and hidden in the house of the Roman lady Lucina (see also San Lorenzo in Lucina). He was rearrested, and imprisoned in the stables.
For more on San Marcello al Corso, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.