I have heard it said that people who have attended parochial schools, especially in mission areas around the world, never hear about Jesus. This to me is an odd complaint - we would not even be there if it were not for Jesus. Our job is not to proselytize or indoctrinate, as some may believe and practice, but to bring Christ's love and justice into the world. One way this happens, the Church believes, is by using the vehicle of education. We are "evangelizers" (gospelers); that is our process and mission. As the saying we attribute to St. Francis goes: "Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words." This can mean going into hostile environments to serve all of the people of God, baptized or not, where it is dangerous enough just to be Catholic but would be foolhardy to be brazen proselytizers. And anyway, trying to force people to God would accomplish not the goal of loving but only our own self interests and deaths. If we die for loving that is one thing, but to die for vain pride, that accomplishes nothing. We are vilified and castigated for just being Catholic, regardless of what we say or do. Yet the fact that even without preaching or proselytizing we can be seen as Catholic is a powerful witness to the world. We want others to know the joy of dedicating your life to Christ so that the Spirit can enter their hearts and transform them. It is the badge of honor of many missionaries (and the Church as a whole) to serve Jesus through their brothers and sisters by meeting their needs, Robert and William included.
In many places evangelization begins with education, to which missionary work dedicates much time and effort, like the merciful vine-dresser of the Gospel, patiently waiting for fruit after years of slow cultivation; in this way they bring forth a new people able to evangelize, who will take the Gospel to those places where it otherwise would not have been thought possible. The Church can also be defined as 'mother' for those who will one day have faith in Christ. I hope, therefore, that the holy people of God will continue to exercise this maternal service of mercy, which helps those who do not yet know the Lord to encounter and love Him. Faith is God’s gift and not the result of proselytizing; rather it grows thanks to the faith and charity of evangelizers who witness to Christ. As they travel through the streets of the world, the disciples of Jesus need to have a love without limits, the same measure of love that our Lord has for all people. We proclaim the most beautiful and greatest gifts that He has given us: His life and His love.
-- Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Sunday, May 16, 2016
Apr 27th - Zita of Lucca
Becoming a saint is actually really easy - being canonized, well that is a different story.
Zita lived a pious and humble life. A house servant her whole life, despite run-ins with the family she served and fellow servants over her generosity they could find no fault in her service, eventually rewarding her with the truest of Scriptural rewards: the keys to the house.
So it did not take much for her to be a saint, except perhaps the everyday grind of servitude, which she supplemented with daily Mass and private prayer.
Part of the canonization process is the digging up of the saint's body to verify several things about the person. In Zita's case not only was everything verified but she was also intact, meaning that she was an incorruptible, a term which hearkens back to the Scriptures: "because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption." (Acts 2:27, 13:35; Psalm 16:10) It is a statement not just to the physical body but to the soul as well - that is what makes her a saint - the incorruptibility of her soul.
This seeming obsession with bodies, bones, relics...frankly it can be a bit off-putting for some but we do not shy away from death or the things of death. We in fact celebrate them, for death is not Death, nor the body our Heavenly Body. We are an Easter People, a people of death and resurrection, and "Alleluia!" is our song.
Zita pray for us that we may serve God everyday and in everyday ways; pray that our souls may also be incorrupt and that the white garment of our baptism may be still white when we present it to the Lord.
...a servant is not holy if she is not busy; lazy people of our position is fake holiness.
Apr 28th - Peter Chanel
Today is also the feast of Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort who too was a missionary of sorts.
What does it mean to be a missionary? What does it mean to devote one's life to spreading the Gospel? Where does one have to go in order to be a missionary?
Peter and Louis both answer this question. Being a missionary means being present to the people who need you wherever you go. Being a missionary means putting yourself out there, somewhere outside yourself, into unknown situations and places.
Being a Christian means the same thing. To be a Christian and to be a missionary are pretty much the same thing. We do not do anything special or different; we become Christ for those around us. Being a missionary does not mean going off to exotic places but going where Christ is needed despite troubles or resistance.
Peter stumbled into his situation. But he did not let that stop him from living Christ to those he lived among. Did he accomplish as grandiosely as Louis? Yes, because he was just a successful in bringing peace and comfort to those he served.
In the end it cost them both their lives, Peter as a martyr, Louis in a long life, and that is true of us all. That is the point: when we give our lives over, we give them over; long or short it does not matter: as Paul states, they are lost to us. What matters is that we give them over to Christ. It was said of Peter by one of his catechumens: "He loves us. He does what he teaches. He forgives his enemies. His teaching is good." What better epitaph could any servant hope for?
It does not matter whether or not I am killed; the religion has taken root on the island; it will not be destroyed by my death, since it comes not from men but from God.
-- attributed to Peter soon before his death
Apr 29th - Catherine of Sienna
What is there to say? Mystic, consul, theologian, letter-writer, Doctor, vigorous proponent of the Truth and doing things right. Amidst chaos and doubt that that the Church could even survive, she showed that the Spirit was in charge, not mere men. I am as blown away by this saint today as they were in her day.
You must know, then, that every tear comes from the heart, because there is no member in the body that has so much desire to satisfy the heart as the eye. If it has pain, the eye manifests it; and if it is a pain of the sensitive part, it can produce tears that generate death, because they come from a heart in which there is a disordered love that is outside of me. ...And so the eye, that wishes to satisfy the heart, weeps into my love and that of its neighbor, with love of the heart, pained only for the offense done to me and the injury done to the neighbor, not for its own pain or individual injury. ...Oh, my most adored daughter, how glorious is that soul that has managed to truly pass from the tempestuous sea to me, the peaceful sea, and has filled the vessel of the heart in the sea that I am, highest and eternal God. Thus the eye, that is like a conduit that comes from the heart, seeks to satisfy it and thus pours out tears.
– Dialog, On the Value of Tears
With this light that is given to the eye of the intellect, Thomas Aquinas saw Me, wherefore he acquired the light of much science; also Augustine, Jerome, and the doctors, and my saints. They were illuminated by My Truth to know and understand My Truth in darkness.
By My Truth I mean the Holy Scripture, which seemed dark because it was not understood; not through any defect of the Scriptures, but of them who heard them, and did not understand them. Wherefore I sent this light to illuminate the blind and coarse understanding, uplifting the eye of the intellect to know the Truth....
So you see that the eye of the intellect has received supernatural light, infused by grace, by which the doctors and saints knew light in darkness, and of darkness made light. The intellect was, before the Scriptures were formed, wherefore, from the intellect came science, because in seeing they discerned. It was thus that the holy prophets and fathers understood, who prophesied of the coming and death of My Son, and the Apostles, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, which gave them that supernatural light.
...when the eye of the intellect is ravished by the fire of My charity, in which charity it receives the supernatural light. With this light the souls in the unitive state love Me, because love follows the intellect, and the more it knows the more can it love. Thus the one feeds the other, and, with this light, they both arrive at the Eternal Vision of Me, where they see and taste Me, in Truth, the soul being separated from the body, as I told you when I spoke to you of the blissfulness that the soul received in Me.
-- Dialog, 11
Apr 30th - Pius V
If we think about the important moments in Church history (so many - starting with Creation! but I wander) there always seem to be two sides to the story; with the early heresies you can point to definite winners and losers but as time went on it became less black and white. The basic problems remain the same but the new players brought subtleties to the table which made it harder to define the good guys from the bad guys.
Even today people attempt to make things black and white though, while easier to live with and requires a lot less thinking and compassion. But easy is not always the correct way to go as Jesus points out time and again. While it makes it easier to know who your enemies are, according to Jesus that should only do so to make it easier to identify those who you have to love.
The evangelists never say "God told me" or "I think that". They report the Truth as revealed and by doing so avoid telling us what to think and believe and lay the ground work for what we think and believe. This way of thinking about the Truth is counter to many today and to many of the Re-formers including Mohammad (PBUH) and others like Joseph Smith. To that end it is the misguided reasoning of humans to think that they know what someone else is thinking (much less God); it is the weakness of re-formers to think that they know what is best, that they have "figured it out" or that they understand what someone was thinking in the past without the weight of history. This is what shamefully divides the Body of Christ. If we only hear or adhere to the parts that agree with what we think, then we sin against the Spirit who has revealed all and has guided us since Creation.
All that because I feel that Pius had fallen beneath the wheels of personal opinion. Like so many popes he is either revered or reviled, and often for the wrong reasons, reasons that divide not unite - that which was crux of his papacy.
The reforms of Trent fell to Pius when he became pope. He created congregations to correctly uphold and spread the Faith and to preserve Church doctrine. He oversaw the creation of new seminaries, a new breviary, a new missal, and a new catechism. He also wrote many admonishments to guide those who were to implement these reforms. Through hind-sight we may want to call these things set in stone but, like Paul VI after him, he struggled with those who resisted these reforms, both religious and political, and those who outright rejected them. Yet through it all he continued to serve the poor and needy and to bring Christ into the world in all that he did.
People want to make what Pius did in their own image and with their own understanding. I do not read anything in his works which reaches the limitation that some place upon the papacy or the liturgy.
Now, I will not say that "I think that..." - that would fly in the face of all I believe and write in this reflection - but call on us all to not shame the memory of Pius nor place words in his mouth but understand what he intended to do and not what I want him to have intended to have done and thereby to serve Christ and charity in all we do. To do otherwise makes us no better than those against whom he struggled to guide and continues to fracture the Body of Christ.
The Roman Pontiffs, and the other Holy Fathers, our predecessors, when they were pressed in upon by temporal or spiritual wars, or troubled by other trials, in order that they might more easily escape from these, and having achieved tranquillity, might quietly and fervently be free to devote themselves to God, were wont to implore the divine assistance, through supplications or Litanies to call forth the support of the saints, and with David to lift up their eyes unto the Mountains, trusting with firm hope that thence would they receive aid.
1. Prompted by their example, and, as is piously believed, by the Holy Spirit, the inspired Blessed founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, (whose institutes and rule we ourselves expressly professed when we were in minor orders), in circumstances similar to those in which we now find ourselves, when parts of France and of Italy were unhappily troubled by the heresy of the Albegenses, which blinded so many of the worldly that they were raging most savagely against the priests of the Lord and the clergy, raised his eyes up unto heaven, unto that mountain of the Glorious Virgin Mary, loving Mother of God. For she by her seed has crushed the head of the twisted serpent, and has alone destroyed all heresies, and by the blessed fruit of her womb has saved a world condemned by the fall of our first parent. From her, without human hand, was that stone cut, which, struck by wood, poured forth the abundantly flowing waters of graces. And so Dominic looked to that simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which the same most Blessed Virgin is venerated by the angelic greeting repeated one hundred and fifty times, that is, according to the number of the Davidic Psalter, and by the Lord’s Prayer with each decade. Interposed with these prayers are certain meditations showing forth the entire life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thus completing the method of prayer devised by the by the Fathers of the Holy Roman Church. This same method St. Dominic propagated, and it was, spread by the Friars of Blessed Dominic, namely, of the aforementioned Order, and accepted by not a few of the people. Christ’s faithful, inflamed by these prayers, began immediately to be changed into new men. The darkness of heresy began to be dispelled, and the light of the Catholic Faith to be revealed. Sodalities for this form of prayer began to be instituted in many places by the Friars of the same Order, legitimately deputed to this work by their Superiors, and confreres began to be enrolled together.
2. Following the example of our predecessors, seeing that the Church militant, which God has placed in our hands, in these our times is tossed this way and that by so many heresies, and is grievously troubled and afflicted by so many wars, and by the depraved morals of men, we also raise our eyes, weeping but full of hope, unto that same mountain, whence every aid comes forth, and we encourage and admonish each member of Christ’s faithful to do likewise in the Lord.
-- From Consueverunt Romani
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