S. Angela Merici| S. John Chrysostom| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Angela Merici
Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women.
As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.
She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.
As with so many saints, history is mostly concerned with their activities. But we must always presume deep Christian faith and love in one whose courage lasts a lifetime, and who can take bold new steps when human need demands.
In a time when change is problematic to many, it may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to her sisters: “If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it with prudence and good advice.”
St. John Chrysostom
The ambiguity and intrigue surrounding John, the great preacher (his name means "golden-mouthed") from Antioch, are characteristic of the life of any great man in a capital city. Brought to Constantinople after a dozen years of priestly service in Syria, John found himself the reluctant victim of an imperial ruse to make him bishop in the greatest city of the empire. Ascetic, unimposing but dignified, and troubled by stomach ailments from his desert days as a monk, John became a bishop under the cloud of imperial politics.
If his body was weak, his tongue was powerful. The content of his sermons, his exegesis of Scripture, were never without a point. Sometimes the point stung the high and mighty. Some sermons lasted up to two hours.
His lifestyle at the imperial court was not appreciated by many courtiers. He offered a modest table to episcopal sycophants hanging around for imperial and ecclesiastical favors. John deplored the court protocol that accorded him precedence before the highest state officials. He would not be a kept man.
His zeal led him to decisive action. Bishops who bribed their way into office were deposed. Many of his sermons called for concrete steps to share wealth with the poor. The rich did not appreciate hearing from John that private property existed because of Adam's fall from grace any more than married men liked to hear that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.
Aloof, energetic, outspoken, especially when he became excited in the pulpit, John was a sure target for criticism and personal trouble. He was accused of gorging himself secretly on rich wines and fine foods. His faithfulness as spiritual director to the rich widow, Olympia, provoked much gossip attempting to prove him a hypocrite where wealth and chastity were concerned. His actions taken against unworthy bishops in Asia Minor were viewed by other ecclesiastics as a greedy, uncanonical extension of his authority.
Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Eudoxia were determined to discredit John. Theophilus feared the growth in importance of the Bishop of Constantinople and took occasion to charge John with fostering heresy. Theophilus and other angered bishops were supported by Eudoxia. The empress resented his sermons contrasting gospel values with the excesses of imperial court life. Whether intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel (1 Kings 9:1—21:23) and impious Herodias (Mark 6:17-29) were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.
John Chrysostom's preaching, by word and example, exemplifies the role of the prophet to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. For his honesty and courage he paid the price of a turbulent ministry as bishop, personal vilification and exile.
Bishops "should set forth the ways by which are to be solved very grave questions concerning the ownership, increase and just distribution of material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among all people" (Vatican II, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, 12).
Patron Saint of:
Love must be translated from feeling and thinking into concrete action in order to be real and credible. Love is not only an interior disposition; it is action with and for others.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Our heavenly Father knows you are in need...abandon yourself with confidence into His arms.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
The 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, 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 based on her 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 26: Uniting Your Interior Cross With Christ
As you grow closer to God you will, at times, feel many things. Some will encounter feelings of rejection by God. God never rejects us but the interior feelings of rejection can be real. This leads some to despair. If you find yourself, now or in the future, struggling with despair, do not be afraid and do not give in. Let God come to you in that experience and be present to you as you suffer through it (See Diary #23).
Continue to look deep within your heart this day. What do you see? If it is painful to look inside, then know that this pain is a pathway toward God. It may not make sense and it may be hard, but God the Father chose the path of the Cross for the Son. By embracing His Cross both exteriorly and interiorly, Jesus united all human nature to His Godhead. Let your suffering become a means of your holiness this day and a source of your unity with God.
Lord, as I continue to look deep within at my heart, help me to see myself as You see me. Help me to sort out any pain and suffering I carry. And help me to freely unite that interior pain to Your Cross just as You did. In this act, help me to discover The Divine Mercy You won for the world. Jesus, I trust in You.”