S. Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary| S. Stephen of Hungary| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Joachim was the ever-chaste husband of St. Anne, the mother of our Blessed Virgin. Though advanced in years, Sts. Joachim and Anne remained fervent in their prayers to be blessed with a child. God was pleased with their devotion and chose to bless them with a miraculous conception, long past child-bearing years, as a result of their love of Him and love of each other.
Tradition teaches that while Joachim was away from home, an angel of God appeared to him in a vision. This angel promised that he and Saint Anne would bear a child who would be blessed through the ages. Upon waking from this vision, St. Joachim rushed home to share his excitement with his beloved wife. She was there to greet him, only to reveal the same good tidings as she was promised in another visitation from God's messenger.
What indescribably sweet happiness must have existed in their hearts to know God was granting them such a blessing! In gratitude and devotion to their Lord, St. Joachim delivered Mary to the service of the Temple when she was just three years old.
As a result of his exemplary love, devotion and obedience to the Will of the Father, St. Joachim was named Patron of fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, married couples, cabinet makers and linen traders. He is shown in art forms as an older man, often in the company of his beloved wife, St. Anne, and sometimes with the Blessed Mother and Jesus.
Images of Saint Joachim are often identified by the presence of his associated symbols. A book or scroll represents linen makers, a shepherd's staff for the Christian word, and a basket of doves represents peace. He is almost always dressed in green, the color of hope.
Prayer to Saint Joachim
O great and glorious Patriarch, Saint Joachim, what joy is mine when I consider that thou wast chosen among all God's holy ones to assist in the fulfillment of the mysteries of God, and to enrich our earth with the great Mother of God, Mary most holy!
By this singular privilege, thou hast become most powerful with both the Mother and her Son, so as to be able to obtain for us the graces that are needful to us; with great confidence I have recourse to thy mighty protection and I commend to thee all my needs and those of my family, both spiritual and temporal; and especially do I entrust to thy keeping the particular favor that I desire and look for from thy fatherly intercession.
And since thou wast a perfect pattern of the interior life, obtain for me the grace of interior recollection and a spirit of detachment from the transitory goods of this life, together with a lively and enduring love for Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me in like manner a sincere devotion and obedience to Holy Church and the sovereign pontiff who rules over her: to the end that I may live and die in faith and hope and perfect charity, ever invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary, and may I thus be saved. Amen.
St. Stephen of Hungary
The Church is universal, but its expression is always affected—for good or ill—by local culture. There are no “generic” Christians; there are Mexican Christians, Polish Christians, Filipino Christians. This fact is evident in the life of Stephen, national hero and spiritual patron of Hungary.
Born a pagan, he was baptized around the age of 10, together with his father, chief of the Magyars, a group who migrated to the Danube area in the ninth century. At 20 he married Gisela, sister to the future emperor, St. Henry. When he succeeded his father, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianization of the country for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. He asked the pope to provide for the Church's organization in Hungary—and also requested that the pope confer the title of king upon him. He was crowned on Christmas day in 1001.
Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.
In 1031 his son Emeric died, and the rest of Stephen's days were embittered by controversy over his successor. His nephews attempted to kill him. He died in 1038 and was canonized, along with his son, in 1083.
God’s gift of holiness is a Christlike love of God and humanity. Love must sometimes bear a stern countenance for the sake of ultimate good. Christ attacked hypocrites among the Pharisees, but died forgiving them. Paul excommunicated the incestuous man at Corinth “that his spirit may be saved.” Some Christians fought the Crusades with noble zeal, in spite of the unworthy motives of others. Today, after senseless wars, and with a deeper understanding of the complex nature of human motives, we shrink from any use of violence, physical or “silent.” This wholesome development continues as people debate whether it is possible for a Christian to be an absolute pacifist or whether evil must sometimes be repelled by force.
“Although the Church has contributed much to the development of culture, experience shows that, because of circumstances, it is sometimes difficult to harmonize culture with Christian teaching.
“These difficulties do not necessarily harm the life of faith. Indeed they can stimulate the mind to a more accurate and penetrating grasp of the faith. For recent studies and findings of science, history and philosophy raise new questions which influence life and demand new theological investigations” (Vatican II,Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 62).
Peace, patience, and above all prayerful fidelity in suffering constitute the path most of us are called to travel. Perhaps we can manage to be cheerful in the midst of suffering; this is a courageous virtue and one not easily attained.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
S. Bernard of Clairvaux ... tells us that reading is, as it were, spiritual food applied to the palate of the soul; meditation chews it by its reasoning, while prayer savors it.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Three: 189-236
We continue now to the third notebook that Saint Faustina filled with messages of Mercy from our Lord. As you enter into this notebook, pause and reflect upon all that you have read so far. Has it changed your perspective on life? Has it changed you? If it has, then continue down that same path and trust that the Lord will continue to do great things in your life. If it has not, reflect upon why!
Sometimes we need more than the words we read. We also need true prayer, deep prayer and what we may call “soaking prayer.” Consider this as you read through the reflections flowing from this notebook and allow the words to not only enter your mind, but to also enter deeper. Read them prayerfully and carefully. Speak to our Lord as Saint Faustina did. Read some more of her actual diary in addition to these reflections and learn from her humble and childlike faith.
The Lord wants to do great things in your life! Open the door, through prayer and reflection, and let Him in!
Reflection 228: The Unfailing Presence of God
Is God alive in your life? Does He live within you? Is He present to you in the inner depths of your heart day and night? There is only one thing that would ever cause God to leave you and that is mortal sin. Mortal sin is deadly sin. It’s a freely chosen act that is in grave violation of the Will of God and a grave violation of your human dignity. When you obstinately persist in such a sin, God cannot be present. He waits for repentance and looks for an opportunity to return, but remains absent as long as the mortal sin remains. But with that said, this should give you hope because it reveals that as long as you avoid mortal sin, or repent of one you have committed, you can be certain of the presence of God in your life. You may not always sense His closeness, but He is there, living within you. Do not doubt this truth and have full confidence of this absolute and irrevocable pledge of our Lord (See Diary #1181).
Reflect, today, upon the presence of God alive in your life. And if you do not sense His presence, you only need to examine your conscience and discern whether you are in mortal sin. Most likely you are not. If you are, repent immediately and seek out the Sacrament of Confession. But if you are not, then make an act of faith in the presence of God in your soul. Thank Him for being there even if you do not sense Him. And if you do not sense Him, be certain that He is there, hidden and silent for good reason. God’s closeness to you is greater than you will ever know.
Lord, I thank You for being alive in my life and for living within the depths of my soul. I thank You for being with me through all things and for never abandoning me. In those moments when I do not sense Your presence, give me faith to know You are there. And fill me with a confident trust in Your guiding Hand. Jesus, I trust in You.