Blog Post - January 2nd
S. Basil the Great| S. Gregory Nazianzen| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Basil the Great
Basil was on his way to becoming a famous teacher when he decided to begin a religious life of gospel poverty. After studying various modes of religious life, he founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor. He is to monks of the East what St. Benedict is to the West, and Basil's principles influence Eastern monasticism today.
He was ordained a priest, assisted the archbishop of Caesarea (now southeastern Turkey), and ultimately became archbishop himself, in spite of opposition from some of the bishops under him, probably because they foresaw coming reforms.
One of the most damaging heresies in the history of the Church, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, was at its height. Emperor Valens persecuted orthodox believers, and put great pressure on Basil to remain silent and admit the heretics to communion. Basil remained firm, and Valens backed down. But trouble remained. When the great St. Athanasius (May 2) died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell upon Basil. He strove mightily to unite and rally his fellow Catholics who were crushed by tyranny and torn by internal dissension. He was misunderstood, misrepresented, accused of heresy and ambition. Even appeals to the pope brought no response. “For my sins I seem to be unsuccessful in everything.”
He was tireless in pastoral care. He preached twice a day to huge crowds, built a hospital that was called a wonder of the world (as a youth he had organized famine relief and worked in a soup kitchen himself) and fought the prostitution business.
Basil was best known as an orator. Though not recognized greatly in his lifetime, his writings rightly place him among the great teachers of the Church. Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described him as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.”
As the French say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Basil faced the same problems as modern Christians. Sainthood meant trying to preserve the spirit of Christ in such perplexing and painful problems as reform, organization, fighting for the poor, maintaining balance and peace in misunderstanding.
St. Basil said: “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
Patron Saint of:
St. Gregory Nazianzen
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”
It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.
“God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God’s greatness.”
Good Lord, give us Your Grace not to read or hear this Gospel of your bitter Passion with our eyes and ears in the manner of a pastime. But may it, with compassion, so sink into our hearts that it may serve for the everlasting profit of ourselves.--S. Thomas More
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Be extremely modest in everything.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Introductory Reflections: 1-10
We begin, today, reflecting upon an introduction to Diary of Divine Mercy of Saint Faustina. This treasure reveals Jesus’ own Heart. It reveals His infinite love and Mercy. Ponder each short daily reflection throughout the day so that, by the end of the Year, you will have pondered everything Jesus revealed to this great saint.
In the reflections that follow, you will discover many of the beautiful truths of God’s Mercy. Some may strike you to the heart, while others may not. Pay attention, especially, to those reflections that jump out at you. Some may be deeply convicting and be the cause for you to reexamine your life. Do not be afraid to let the Lord speak to you in a powerful way and do not resist His message of Mercy. If a particular message does strike you, and if this is the result of God speaking to you and challenging you, then listen. Pray over that reflection and let the Lord speak. Do not be offended and do not turn away.
This first section presents a basic introduction and overview of Saint Faustina’s Diary and the message of Divine Mercy in general. These first ten reflections are offered as a way of introducing you, by way of an overview, to the Heart of our Lord as revealed through the six notebooks Saint Faustina filled with her inspirations and private revelations. As you read through this initial section, allow yourself to be open to the newness of the concept of Divine Mercy and the devotion that flows from it. God deeply desires to pour out His Mercy in our day and age and the revelations given to Saint Faustina are a gift by which God is speaking to us in a special way.
Reflection 1: “The” Divine Mercy
When speaking of Divine Mercy we refer to this gift from God as “The Divine Mercy.” By pondering “The” Divine Mercy we are more aware of two things: First, The Divine Mercy of God is real, definite and concrete. It is not some abstract concept but it is a reality that we must understand and enter into. Second, there is only One Divine Mercy. It is “The” one and only gift of God. All that God has given us is a gift and for this gift we are to be eternally grateful.
Strive, today, to make this a glorious year of reflection on The Divine Mercy of God. Make a conscious decision to enter into all God desires for you this year.
Lord, Help me to be attentive to The Divine Mercy You pour forth day and night. Help me, during this year of reflection upon Your Mercy, to allow it to transform my life in a real and profound way. Jesus, I trust in You.