Is not every day remembrance day?
Today we especially remember all of the victims of violence. We also pray for all who think that they can change or control the world by violence.
We pray that we all will put Christ forward, and work to end the injustices that lead to violence, especially those to which we are witting or unwitting accomplices.
Today we also celebrate Jean-Gabriel Perboyre and Charles Spinola, martyrs in China and Japan respectively. May their example of selfless love unto death inspire and guide us in work to bring the Gospel to fruition.
O my Divine Savior,
Transform me into Yourself.
May my hands be the hands of Jesus.
Grant that every faculty of my body
May serve only to glorify You.
Transform my soul and all its powers
So that my memory, will and affection
May be the memory, will and affections
I pray You
To destroy in me all that is not of You.
Grant that I may live but in You, by You and for You,
So that I may truly say, with Saint Paul,
"I live - now not I - But Christ lives in me.
-- John Gabriel
When times are tough, where is our Faith in our lives? What if something happened that took away the Eucharist or all access to the Sacraments for that matter? Christians have lived on Faith for millennia through persecution, separation, distance.
Whether times were good or times were bad, Franciscus held tight to the Faith, sharing it as he was able, joyfully offering his own son up to a vocation that most likely could end in his death as it had for many missionary clergy. Franciscus had it all, lost it, migrated from place to place, guarded our most sacred vessels from sacrilege, and held on to the most important things to help him continue to share, teach, and live the Faith. Even after being arrested and subject to torture, he continued to pray and teach until his death.
We need the Sacraments and the liturgy but what we need most is a firm foundation of Faith.
Devotionals can come and go. We can be physically denied the external practice of our Faith. We can lose the community which supports us in that Faith. Franciscus reminds us that if we have the Faith, we can never lose the moments of grace, be they sacraments or sacramental. Pray to never loose the Faith no matter what happens.
For as I see it, God has exhibited us apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and human beings alike. We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.
-- 1 Corinthians 4:9-13
One of my favorite Fathers. Thought this was appropriate as we sit under the gloom of Hurricane Irma and hurricane season in general.
The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? 'The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord.' The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.
― A homily by St John Chrysostom (Ante exsilium, nn. 1-3; PG 52, 427-430)
The Cross is the means of salvation. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him, he is not talking about burden but about salvation. Unless we take up the Cross and see that the yoke is easy and the burden light, we will have no share in his Kingdom.
Therefore we hold it high and honor it because such a thing has set us free, free to live a life of love rather than a life of sin.
If we ever took the time to think about sin in its rawest form (and we should) we might attempt to convey what Dante does through his magnificent work - no glamor, no reward, no peace. The only joy, peace, fulfillment, and realization of being who we can be comes from God, not just at the end of our journey... but on every step along the way.
"But if you please, I would like to know how far we have to go; because the slope is steeper than my eyes can see.”
Then he said to me “This Mountain is such that, at the beginning it is hardest to climb; when you go on it gets better, the higher you ascend. And when it is so gentle, like floating downstream in a boat, you will be at the end of your path. There you can hope to rest from your troubles!"
― Dante, Purgatorio, IV 85-95
According to the Gospels, Mary sat at the foot of the Cross, I think that all parents who watch their children suffer needlessly know her sorrow. Turn to her to help us understand suffering as we turn to Jesus to bind our suffering to his for the salvation of the world.
Jesus' father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
-- Luke 2:33-35
You might recognize our saint from Eucharistic Prayer I:
"your blessed Apostles and Martyrs,
Peter and Paul, Andrew,
(James, John, Thomas, James, Philip,
Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude;
Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus,
Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurence, Chrysogonus,
John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian)
and all your Saints;"
Cornelius was reluctantly elected pope during a fairly rough period of persecutions for the Church. The turmoil and fear caused division, apostasy, and heresy. In his short two year reign he worked hard against all these things, establishing himself as the legitimate pope and authority, teaching against Novatian and welcoming back those who had denounced their faith our of fear in opposition to him, all helping to keep the Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic - and practicing the forgiveness of sins that is so central to our Faith.
Pray for our pope, bishops, priests, deacons, and religious that they may remain faithful teachers and practitioners of the Faith.
Do not waste your time and your words on us. We are people endowed with reason, for whom it would be the greatest disgrace to abandon the one true God, the Maker of heaven and earth, in order to worship dumb, senseless idols. We are not afraid of torments you threaten us with. They will be easy for us to bear and will show the power of our God.
-- Saint Euphemia, in response to the Proconsul of Asia Priscus' attempt to persuade them to sacrifice to Mars (also celebrated today)
Let us begin with faith, which is the first of all the virtues that exists in the heart of a justified man. Not without reason, does the apostle add "unfeigned" to faith. For faith begins justification, provided it be true and sincere, not false or feigned. The faith of heretics does not begin justification, because it is not true, but false; the faith of bad Catholics does not begin justification, because it is not sincere, but feigned. It is said to be feigned in two ways: when either we do not really believe, but only pretend to believe; or when we indeed believe, but do not live, as we believe we ought to do.
― The Art of Dying Well, Chap III
If you have ever traveled by air, this guy is your man. He was prone to ecstasies and, during them, bouts of levitation - hence his being the patron of air travel.
Joseph did not have the book learning but his spiritual insights drew him along. There are many stories about his clumsiness, his patience, his humility, and his ignorance. He may not have been the most likely candidate for the priesthood but he was for sainthood, and so should be an inspiration and example for each of us in that department.
Today I also call attention to Stanisław Kostka, a young Jesuit who died young and was also blessed with mystical experiences and for whom my great-grandfather wrote a mass as an inspiration to the young men at the college where he taught.
Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession.
-- From the Office in the Franciscan breviary
Though celebrated in the both the East and the West, nothing is really known about Januarius. He is the patron of Naples (because he is buried there), blood banks, and volcanic eruptions - most likely because the reliquary which contains his blood liquefies and then seems to boil. Like so many, it looks like he was killed during the persecution of Diocletian. His name perhaps comes from the two-faced Roman god Janus, said to see forward and backwards, which might explain the boiling blood .
Perhaps also, his blood boiling may be a sign of not ire but passion. Perhaps he was "zealous for the Lord" like Elijah; perhaps he emulated Paul; we do not know - but we do know that his name is remembered, meaning that he lived for Christ in such a way that people who knew him remember also how he died for Christ.
Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God? He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the Devil's punishment. He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the Devil's trap.
-- 1 Timothy 3:1-7
My brethren and dear friends, think about this and reflect on it: from the beginning of time God has ordered the heavens, the earth, and all things. Consider the creation of man in this light and reflect on why he has created man, each man, in his image and likeness: why, and with what purpose.
If, then, placed as we are in this world full of danger and misery, we do not know the Lord our creator, what is the point in having been born? Our life is pointless. Thanks to God, we have come into this world. Also thanks to God, we have received baptism, we have entered the Church, and we have received the glorious name of disciples of the Lord. But what use would that name be if it did not correspond to reality? If it does not, then it is in vain that we have come into the world and entered into the Church. Moreover, such a state of affairs would not serve the Lord and his grace. It would be better for us never to have been born than to receive the grace of the Lord and then sin against him.
― From the final exhortation of Andrew Kim Taegŏn