S. Peter Chrysologus| S. Barbara| S. John Damascene| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Peter Chrysologus
A man who vigorously pursues a goal may produce results far beyond his expectations and his intentions. Thus it was with Peter of the Golden Words, as he was called, who as a young man became bishop of Ravenna, the capital of the empire in the West.
At the time there were abuses and vestiges of paganism evident in his diocese, and these he was determined to battle and overcome. His principal weapon was the short sermon, and many of them have come down to us. They do not contain great originality of thought. They are, however, full of moral applications, sound in doctrine and historically significant in that they reveal Christian life in fifth-century Ravenna. So authentic were the contents of his sermons that, some 13 centuries later, he was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIII. He who had earnestly sought to teach and motivate his own flock was recognized as a teacher of the universal Church.
In addition to his zeal in the exercise of his office, Peter Chrysologus was distinguished by a fierce loyalty to the Church, not only in its teaching, but in its authority as well. He looked upon learning not as a mere opportunity but as an obligation for all, both as a development of God-given faculties and as a solid support for the worship of God.
Some time before his death, St. Peter returned to Imola, his birthplace, where he died around A.D. 450.
Eutyches, the leader of the heresy denying the humanity of Christ, sought support from church leaders, Peter Chrysologus among them, after his condemnation in ad 448. Peter frankly told him: “In the interest of peace and the faith, we cannot judge in matters of faith without the consent of the Roman bishop.” He further exhorted Eutyches to accept the mystery of the Incarnation in simple faith. Peter reminded him that if the peace of the church causes joy in heaven, then divisions must give birth to grief.
Quite likely, it was St. Peter Chrysologus’s attitude toward learning that gave substance to his exhortations. Next to virtue, learning, in his view, was the greatest improver of the human mind and the support of true religion. Ignorance is not a virtue, nor is anti-intellectualism. Knowledge is neither more nor less a source of pride than physical, administrative or financial prowess. To be fully human is to expand our knowledge—whether sacred or secular—according to our talent and opportunity.
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Barbara, Virgin and Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found below:
The last and most severe of the persecutions in the Roman Empire was that of Diocletian which began in 303 AD and lasted until 313 AD. From this time many stories of martyrs faithful to Jesus Christ have come down through the tradition of the Church. Among these stories are those of St. Barbara, virgin and martyr. Her name does not appear in the earliest records of Christian martyrs, and veneration does not begin until the seventh century.
St. Barbara is said to have been held in solitude by her father, Dioscorus, who wanted to keep her from being influenced by the outside world. At one point she is said to have rejected an offer of marriage. Dioscorus had a private bath house built for her as he journeyed away on business. Barbara installed three windows in the bath house in honor of the Trinity.
Upon Dioscorus return from his journey he was incensed to learn that Barbara was a Christian. He brought her before the emperor thought to be named Maximinus who ordered Barbara to be tortured and beheaded. Dioscorus, in his fury, beheaded his daughter. On his way home from the execution, Dioscorus was struck by lightning and his body incinerated.
St. Barbara was martyred with another Christian woman named Juliana. Their bodies were buried by a Christian man, Valentinus. Pilgrims to the grave site were healed or received aid and consolation.
Due to the story of St. Barbara’s father being struck with lightning she became the patron saint for those who felt threatened by thunder-storms and fire. She later was also named the patron for artillerymen and miners.
The experience of a man named Henry Kock in 1448 did much to promote the continued veneration of St. Barbara. Henry was nearly burned to death in a fire. He had great devotion to St. Barbara whom he said helped him escape from the fire so that he might receive the last sacraments. St. Barbara is therefore seen as an intercessor against suffering from sudden death and for receiving the final sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
The feast of St. Barbara is December 4. In her depictions in art she is seen standing by a tower with three windows and carrying a palm of a martyr in her hand.
St. John Damascene
John spent most of his life in the monastery of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Muslim rule, indeed, protected by it. He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years he resigned and went to the monastery of St. Sabas.
He is famous in three areas. First, he is known for his writings against the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him. Second, he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers (of which he became the last). It is said that this book is for Eastern schools what the Summa of Aquinas became for the West. Thirdly, he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feasts are well known.
John defended the Church’s understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years he combined a life of prayer with these defenses and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord.
“The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says: ‘But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God....’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith).
Our Journey to God:
Who knows what lies ahead on this surprising road? While it is helpful sometimes to look back, the prize lies ahead and I pray to be able to finish the race.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Serve the Lord with a joyful spirit.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Six: 327-365
We enter, now, the last of the six notebooks that Saint Faustina filled with revelations from our Lord about His unfathomable and perfect Mercy. At this point, the Message of Mercy should be clear and evoking of a deep trust in the incomprehensible love of God. All that has been shared to this point reveals that God is relentless in His pursuit of you, seeking only to love you unconditionally and to draw you into His glorious life for all eternity.
The greatest obstacle to this call to holiness is sin. But it is abundantly clear that sin is no match for the Mercy of God. His Mercy dispels your sin in an instant, disposing of your past errors forever. God’s only desire is the present moment, for in this present moment He comes to you, descending from the heights of Heaven, entering into the inner core of your soul so as to form a perfect communion with you, lifting you up to share in His divine life.
This final notebook will be reflected upon as a summary of all that has been reflected upon thus far. Just like the reflections on the first notebook, the reflections for this notebook will be short and to the point. Once you finish this chapter you are invited to return to it often as a way of quickly and easily reminding yourself of the abundant Mercy of God. The Lord’s love is perfect in every way. Allow Him to speak this truth to you with clarity and conviction.
Reflection 338: Keeping a Secret
One act of love we can offer another is our confidentiality. We have all had experiences of people coming to us with a problem or confusion and they ask us to keep it to ourselves. Can you keep this form of a sacred secret? Confidentiality is a wonderful act of mercy to others. If you can be truly confidential, others will come to realize this quality in you and they will more readily come to you with their concerns. This act of friendship, given out of love, opens the door to others to open their hearts and let you in. As you enter in, do so with much understanding and care and the Lord will bless them through you (See Diary #1638).
Reflect upon the question of confidentiality. When someone shares something in confidence with you, do you immediately think about who else you can tell? Are you tempted to reveal these secrets or, even worse, to spread gossip? The Lord wants many souls who are there for others, to listen to them, to understand them and to love them no matter what they need to share. Be a holy listener and confidant and you will be an instrument of much Mercy.
Lord, I pray that I may become a person of great integrity, offering a compassionate and confidential ear to those who need it. Give me grace to be freed of useless chatter and gossip and to revere every person, respecting their dignity through privacy. May I never push or probe for more but only be a compassionate friend who is always there to show love. Jesus, I trust in You.