Blog Post - August 4th
S. Dominic| S. John Vianney| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.
Born in old Castile, Spain, he was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.
On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, “the pure”) held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.
Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses.
Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.
His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God."
Legend has it that Dominic saw the sinful world threatened by God’s anger but saved by the intercession of Mary, who pointed out to her Son two figures: One was Dominic himself, the other a stranger. In church the next day he saw a ragged beggar enter—the man in the vision. He went up to him, embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was Francis of Assisi. The meeting of the two founders is commemorated twice a year, when on their respective feast days Dominicans and Franciscans celebrate Mass in each other’s churches and afterward sit at the same table “to eat the bread which for seven centuries has never been wanting” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).
The Dominican ideal, like that of all religious communities, is for the imitation, not merely the admiration, of the rest of the Church. The effective combining of contemplation and activity is the vocation of truck driver Smith as well as theologian Aquinas. Acquired contemplation is the tranquil abiding in the presence of God, and is an integral part of any full human life. It must be the wellspring of all Christian activity.
Patron Saint of:
St. John Vianney
A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.
His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.
Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)
With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.
His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.
Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.
Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.
Indifference toward religion, coupled with a love for material comfort, seem to be common signs of our times. A person from another planet observing us would not likely judge us to be pilgrim people, on our way to somewhere else. John Vianney, on the other hand, was a man on a journey with his goal before him at all times.
Recommending liturgical prayer, John Vianney would say, “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”
Patron Saint of:
Praying the Psalms:
The psalms, all divinely inspired, are also truly the Lord's prayers! They, too, will teach you how to pray: how to praise, how to thank, how to repent, how to petition, and even how to complain to God about suffering and injustice. It just makes sense to pray in the words that God gave us.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
As regards the spiritual afflictions and battles, I can assure you that they keep pace with my bodily sufferings. When the latter are multiplied, the former also increase.
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 216: Clarity of Mind through Authentic Love
Our Church sets before us many teachings that can only be understood by grace. Some teachings are about morality, calling us to a life of great virtue. Some teachings are about God, His very being and essence. Some teachings are about humanity and bring clarity to who we are. What’s important to understand is that nothing that the Church teaches can be fully understood without love. Love is like a window inserted into a brick wall surrounding the many truths revealed to us by God. Unless we find that window and peer through, we are left unaware of all that God wishes to teach us each day. Love of God and love of others enables us to quickly make sense of the greatest mysteries of life. Through love, our minds perceive and clarify life itself and all that God wishes to reveal to us in faith. Choose to love God and others with a spiritual, selfless and sacrificial love, and allow that love to become the source of your understanding in life (See Diary #1123).
What is it that causes you the greatest confusion? Is there some article of faith taught by the Church that you do not understand? Or perhaps there is confusion over a relationship you have, not knowing how to approach it or to resolve some underlying problem. Whatever it is that you find difficult to “solve,” know that your answer will come only when you choose to love God and others with a pure love, the love of Mercy. This is not a selfish love based on your feelings, but is a sacrificial and selfless love that imitates Jesus and His Cross. Commit to this love and you will quickly and easily comprehend the mysteries of life.
Lord, please enlighten me. Help me to realize that pure and holy love opens the door to the mysteries of life. May I open that door through my love of You, and discover all that You wish to teach me. This is a Mercy for which I am eternally grateful. Jesus, I trust in You.