Chair of S. Peter| S. Margaret of Cortona| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Chair of S. Peter
This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church (see June 29).
After the “lost weekend” of pain, doubt and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, “The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter.” John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: “...[T]hey did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They went home. There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited fearfully behind locked doors. “Peace be with you,” he said (John 20:21b), and they rejoiced.
The Pentecost event completed Peter’s experience of the risen Christ. “...[T]hey were all filled with the holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.
Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: “... [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on them.
Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says, “...I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.... [T]hey were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel...” (Galatians 2:11b, 14a).
At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his Lord with a martyr’s death, probably in the company of many Christians.
Second-century Christians built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.
This saintly man's life is perhaps best summed up at his meeting with Jesus after the resurrection in the presence of the men Peter was to lead. In imitation of Peter's triple denial, Jesus asked him three times, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" (John 21:16b). Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. . . . Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you (John 21:16c, 17b).
Like the committee chair, this chair refers to the occupant, not the furniture. Its first occupant stumbled a bit, denying Jesus three times and hesitating to welcome gentiles into the new Church. Some of its later occupants have also stumbled a bit, sometimes even failed scandalously. As individuals, we may sometimes think a particular pope has let us down. Still, the office endures as a sign of the long tradition we cherish and as a focus for the universal Church.
Peter described our Christian calling in the opening of his First Letter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” (1 Peter 1:3a).
Also today, in the Latin Calendar, we commemorate S. Margaret of Cortona, Penitent. A story about this commemoration can be found below:
Saint Margaret was born at Laviano in Tuscany in 1247; died at Cortona, 22 February, 1297. At the age of seven years Margaret lost her mother and two years later her father married a second time. Between the daughter and her step-mother there seems to have been but little sympathy or affection, and Margaret was one of those natures who crave affection. When about seventeen years of age she made the acquaintance of a young cavalier, who, some say, was a son of Gugliemo di Pecora, lord of Valiano, with whom she one night fled from her father's house.
Margaret in her confessions does not mention her lover's name. For nine years she lived with him in his castle near Montepulciano, and a son was born to them. Frequently she besought her lover to marry her; he as often promised to do so, but never did. In her confessions she expressly says that she consented to her lover's importunities unwillingly. Wadding and others who have described her in these early years as an abandoned woman, either had not rightly read her legend, or had deepened the shadows of her early life to make her conversion seem the more wonderful. Even during this period Margaret was very compassionate towards the poor and relieved their wants; she was also accustomed to seek out quiet places where she would dream of a life given to virtue and the love of God. Once some of her neighbors bade her look to her soul before it was too late. She replied that they need have no fear of her, for that she would die a saint and that her critics would come as pilgrims to her shrine.
The sudden and brutal murder of her lover brought Margaret to the realization of God's grace.
Margaret’s first intimation of his death was the return of his favourite hound without its master. The hound led her to his body. It was characteristic of her generosity that she blamed herself for his irregular life, and began to loathe her beauty which had fascinated him. She returned to his relatives all the jewels and property he had given her and left his home; and with her little son set out for her father’s house. Her father would have received her, but his wife refused, and Margaret and her son were turned adrift. For a moment she felt tempted to trade upon her beauty; but she prayed earnestly and in her soul she seemed to hear a voice bidding her go to the Franciscan Friars at Cortona and put herself under their spiritual direction. On her arrival at Cortona, two ladies, noticing her loneliness, offered her assistance and took her home with them. They afterwards introduced her to the Franciscan Friars at the church of San Francesco in the city. For three years Margaret had to struggle hard with temptations. Naturally of a gay spirit, she felt much drawn to the world. But temptation only convinced her the more of the necessity of self-discipline and an entire consecration of herself to religion. At times remorse for the past would have led her into intemperate self-mortifications, but for the wise advice of her confessors. As it was, she fasted rigorously, abstaining altogether from flesh-meat, and generally subsisting upon bread and herbs. Her great physical vitality made such penance a necessity to her.
After three years of probation Margaret was admitted to the Third Order of St. Francis, and from this time she lived in strict poverty. Following the example of St. Francis, she went and begged her bread. But whilst thus living on alms, she gave her services freely to others; especially to the sick-poor whom she nursed. It was about the time that she became a Franciscan tertiary that the revelations began which form the chief feature in her story. It was in the year 1277, as she was praying in the church of the Franciscan Friars, that she seemed to hear these words: “What is thy wish,poverella?” and she replied: “I neither seek nor wish for aught but Thee, my Lord Jesus.” From this time forth she lived in intimate communing with Christ. At first He always addressed her as “poverella“, and only after a time of probation and purification did He call her “My child”. But Margaret, though coming to lead more and more the life of a recluse, was yet active in the service of others. She prevailed upon the city of Cortona to found a hospital for the sick-poor, and to supply nurses for the hospital, she instituted a congregation of Tertiary Sisters, known as le poverelle. She also established a confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy; the members of which bound themselves to support the hospital, and to help the needy wherever found, and particularly the respectable poor.
Moreover on several occasions Margaret intervened in public affairs for the seek of putting an end to civic feuds. Twice in obedience to a Divine command, she upbraided Guglielmo Ubertini Pazzi, Bishop of Arezzo, in which diocese Cortona was situated, because he lived more like a secular prince and soldier, than like a pastor of souls. This prelate was killed in battle at Bibbiena in 1289. The year previous to this, Margaret for the sake of greater quiet had removed her lodging from the hospital she had founded to near the ruined church of St. Basil above the city. This church she now caused to be repaired. It was here that she spent her last years, and in this church she was buried. But after her death it was rebuilt in more magnificent style and dedicated in her own name. There her body remains enshrined to this day, incorrupt, in a silver shrine over the high-altar. Although honoured as a beatafrom the time of her death.
Pope Benedict XIII canonized her amid great solemnity in 1728.
True To Ourselves:
Sometimes it takes heroic loyalty to remain true to our own values in the face of outside pressure from peer groups and society. Maybe we have honored past commitments, maybe we have not. None of us can undo the past. With God's help, all of us can make choices that are in our best interests and those of others as we go forward.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Anxiety over one's spiritual state, actually a lack of confidence in God's goodness...is a very slender thread, it is true, which keeps the spirit tied down, but it prevents the soul...from acting with holy freedom.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
This first notebook of Saint Faustina begins her private revelations given from the Heart of Jesus to her. She writes in a beautiful and simple way. Though, as mentioned in the introduction to this book, her actual words are not quoted in these reflections that follow, the messages that she received and articulated are presented.
In truth, her messages are those contained in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our Church. And if you were to read through the lives and teachings of the saints, you would find the same revelations. God has always spoken to us throughout the ages. He speaks the one Message of Truth, and He reveals that Message in love. The revelations to Saint Faustina are one new way that God continues to speak and reveal Himself to us, His sons and daughters.
The reflections in this first chapter, based on the first notebook, are intentionally short and focused. They are a way for you, the reader, to slowly and carefully listen to the Heart of God spoken to this great saint. Read these reflections slowly and prayerfully. Ponder them throughout the day and allow the Lord to speak to You the message He wants to give.
Reflection 52: Daily Prayer
What is it that makes your soul beautiful? Prayer. What is it that keeps you from sin? Prayer. What is it that fills you with hope? Prayer. What is it that leads you on the road to holiness? Prayer. Prayer is the key to all things. Without prayer, each and every day, you are directionless in life and are left to your own wisdom and ability, which is a frightening state to find yourself in (See Diary #146).
Do you pray? Not just every so often, at Sunday Mass or before meals. But do you truly pray every day? Do you spend moments alone speaking to God from the depths of your heart and let Him speak back to you? Do you allow Him to initiate a conversation of love with you every day and throughout the day? Reflect, today, upon your habit of prayer. Reflect upon whether you can honestly say that your daily conversation with God is the most important conversation you have each day. Make this a priority, the number one priority, and all else will fall into place.
Lord, I know my prayer life is weak. I know I need to give more attention to my daily conversation with You. Help me to form a strong habit of prayer, each and every day, so that this life of prayer will become the guiding light of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.