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Commemoration of 72 Disciples

The Commemoration of the 72 Disciples

Basilica Hymn
Their Gospel goes out to all the earth
Regarding the Lord and regarding his Christ
They walked from nation to nation
O holy apostles, who preached and taught the new Gospel in the four corners, uprooted the thorns that the evil one planted through his weeds, planted good seed by means of their teaching, fulfilled and completed the charge they accepted, and transmitted [this] to the teachers and priests: O victorious athletes, O true pillars, supplicate and plead to Christ for peace!

The Garden 

Dirt is ugly alone, but what it produces can be gorgeous. The reason it is ugly, however, is not because of its color or texture, but because of its blandness, its uniformity. It is all the same, without variety, and where there is no variation, there is no physical beauty. But as a potentiality, simple dirt contains all the beauty of the most stunning gardens.

Even gardens can vary in their beauty; there are many types of plants, and a selection and arrangement may be more or less well done. Flowers of a certain color may look better next to others or not; trees bearing one fruit may accentuate others or hurt their look. Much of the work of creating beauty is precisely in this ordering. But one thing is certain: the most beautiful gardens do indeed have a great variety of plants, and not just one kind; otherwise, the view would be more like that of simple, uni-colored dirt than of a true garden.

Such is the garden of the Church, which contains many kinds of expressions of beauty, many attempts to flower forth for the glory of God. Within the Church, there are many Rites, many different traditions, many different devotions, each having its own beauty and contributing to the beauty of the whole. If all were reduced to one, the Church, the Garden of God, would lose a great deal of her beauty: if the whole Church were only the Latin Rite, for example, or if all devotions were only the Rosary, and there were nothing more, there would certainly be something and something of great value, but not the gorgeous beauty we have before us today. Something enormous would be lost.

The same is the case with the garden of the human soul: there is so much in man that is complex and mysterious, so many interlocking pieces within him that make him stand out above all other creatures. And again, much of his beauty would be lost if he were made more autonomous or more simple, even if this would make his life “easier” in some shallow way. Imagine how much less suffering there would be if man were only a spirit without a body; there would be no disease or death, but neither would there be the drama of communication and interaction. Imagine how much simpler the world would be if man had no free will: there would be no sin! But neither would there be love, or charity, or justice.

The Work and the Workers

Any gardener will testify, however, that the real work of making a beautiful garden is not in the selection or in the variety. That is an initial decision that is done with delicacy and is maintained, but not a constant trial. No, the real work of gardening is in ripping out the weeds. Yes, there is a variety and many different plants have their place in a garden, but not weeds. Though there is variety in the Church and in the soul, the true beauty of both comes out fully when evil is ripped out by Christ, who was first mistaken for a gardener by Mary Magdalene just after he rose from the dead (John 20:15).

Christ’s mission is extended in the work of the Apostles and their successors, and they continue to work within the souls of the faithful by the grace of Christ. Though the work of pulling the weeds out of the world is a job reserved for the angels (cf. Matthew 13:39), Christ reaches the weeds within our souls through his instruments in his Church:

O holy apostles, who preached and taught the new Gospel in the four corners, uprooted the thorns that the evil one planted through his weeds, planted good seed by means of their teaching, fulfilled and completed the charge they accepted, and transmitted [this] to the teachers and priests: O victorious athletes, O true pillars, supplicate and plead to Christ for peace!