Blog Post - July 9th
S. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions| S. Thomas More| S. Veronica Giuliani| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions
Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.
The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.
The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
The People's Republic of China and the Roman Catholic Church each have well over a billion members, but there are over 12 million Catholics in China. The reasons for that are better explained by historical conflicts than by a wholesale rejection of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Chinese-born martyrs honored by today's feast were regarded by their persecutors as dangerous because they were considered allies of enemy, Catholic countries. The martyrs born outside China often tried to distance themselves from European political struggles relating to China, but their persecutors saw them as Westerners and therefore, by definition, anti-Chinese.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is intended to benefit all peoples; today's martyrs knew that. May 21st-century Christians live in such a way that Chinese women and men will be attracted to hear that Good News and embrace it.
A year after these martyrs were canonized, Blessed John Paul II addressed a group of Chinese and Western scholars, gathered in Rome for a symposium honoring the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit scholar and Chinese intellectual.
After noting the positive contributions that Christianity had made to China, especially in health care and education, Pope John Paul II continued: "History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the church in China was not always without error, the bitter fruit of their personal limitations and of the limits of their action. Moreover, their action was often conditioned by difficult situations connected with complex historical events and conflicting political interests. Nor were theological disputes lacking, which caused bad feelings and created serious difficulties in preaching the Gospel…."I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility toward China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians."
St. Thomas More
His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ cost Thomas More his life.
Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.
Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head.
More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience.
When the executioner offered to blindfold him, More said that he would do this himself. But after he had stretched his head over the low block—it was merely a log of wood—he made a signal to the man to wait a moment. Then he made his last joke: His beard was lying on the block and he would like to remove it. At least that had committed no treason. The heavy axe went slowly up, hung a moment in the air and fell.
Four hundred years later, in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In fact, in 2000, Blessed John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, he did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. King Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king had to get rid of Thomas More.
Patron Saint of:
Politicians, public servants
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Veronica Giuliani, Virgin. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
For fifty years Ursula Giuliani lived as Sister Veronica in the Capuchin convent of Città di Castello in Umbria, Italy. With gritty determination tempered by humility, she led her sisters as novice mistress for thirty-four years and as abbess for eleven. St. Veronica governed the convent with obvious common sense. For example, so that her young novices would not get puffed up with pride, she forbade them to read the elevated works of the great spiritual masters. Instead she required them to study books on Christian basics. And as a most practical woman, she improved her sisters’ comfort by enlarging the convent rooms and having water piped inside.
Like Teresa of Ávila, another very down-to-earth saint, Veronica enjoyed an unusually profound communion with God. In the following excerpt from her Diary, she struggled to put into words her experience of the divine presence:
While I was about to go to Holy Communion, I seemed to be thrown wide open like a door flung open to welcome a close friend and then shut tight after his entry. So my heart was alone with him—alone with God. It seems impossible to relate all the effects, feelings, leaping delight and festivity my soul experienced. If I were to speak, for example, of all the happy and pleasant times shared with dear friends . . . , I would be saying nothing comparable to this joy. And if I were to add up all the occasions of rejoicing in the universe, I would be saying that all this amounts to little or nothing beside what, in an instant, my heart experiences in the presence of God. Or rather what God does to my heart, because all these other things flow from him and are his works.
Love makes the heart leap and dance. Love makes it exult and be festive. Love makes it sing and be silent as it pleases. Love grants it rest and enables it to act. Love possesses it and gives it everything. Loves takes it over completely and dwells in it. But I am unable to say more because if I wished to relate all the effects that my heart experiences in the act of going to Holy Communion and also at other times, I would never finish saying everything. It is sufficient to say that communion is a . . . mansion of love itself.
Veronica had a lifelong devotion to Christ crucified that eventually became manifested in physical signs. The marks of the crown of thorns appeared on her forehead in 1694 and the five wounds on her body in 1697. Veronica was humiliated by the stigmata itself and by her bishop’s rigorous testing of her experience. He removed the saint from ordinary community life and put her under constant observation. When he decided that the phenomena were authentic, he allowed her to return to normal convent life and continue her service to her sisters. In 1727, Veronica died of apoplexy at the age of sixty- seven.
Always keep before your mind's eye the obedience of Jesus in the garden and on the cross; He obeyed in immense conflict with no respite. Jesus' obedience was excellent, and the more bitter it was, the more beautiful it was.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
In the supernatural sphere, the first movement of our hearts is a movement toward God, which is nothing more than loving our own true good.
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 190: All Creation Gives Glory to God
All things are made for one ultimate purpose: to give praise and glory to the Most Holy Trinity. We are made for nothing more, nothing less and nothing other than this purpose. As people, we are called to give the unique praise and glory of our adoration to God through lives fully committed and surrendered to Him. This surrender and total submission of our mind and will to Him offers God the praise that is due His name. But all Creation shares in the glory of God in that all creation reflects His perfect order and, especially, His perfect Mercy. For example, the providence that God manifests in caring for the birds of the sky, creatures of the sea and all living things on Earth reveals His glory and gives Him glory by their very existence. We must see this, rejoice in it and give God glory for His Mercy that keeps all things in being (See Diary #1005).
Do you recognize the Mercy of God as manifested in all of Creation? It may be easier to recognize His Mercy when offered to us through the forgiveness of our sins and His invitation to us to share in His life. But we must also see the perfect order of Creation and, in that order, see His providential care for it as an act of great Mercy. Reflect, today, upon Creation. Think of the flowers, the bees, the animals and all the small details that make up the design of the physical world. It’s truly amazing and mysterious and reveals a God of perfect wisdom and love. Creation is a powerful revelation of God’s Mercy.
Lord, I thank You for all that You have done in this world. I thank You for designing it, creating it and keeping it all in existence in accord with Your providence. May I discover Your Heart of Mercy in all that You have made and grow in admiration of You through this gift. Jesus, I trust in You.