Blog Post - June 1st
S. Angela Merici| S. Justin| 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.”
Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies.
As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.
Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.
Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate.
For his staunch adherence to the Christian religion, Justin was beheaded in Rome in 165.
As patron of philosophers, Justin may inspire us to use our natural powers (especially our power to know and understand) in the service of Christ and to build up the Christian life within us. Since we are prone to error, especially in reference to the deep questions concerning life and existence, we should also be willing to correct and check our natural thinking in light of religious truth. Thus we will be able to say with the learned saints of the Church: I believe in order to understand, and I understand in order to believe.
"Philosophy is the knowledge of that which exists, and a clear understanding of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and understanding" (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 3).
Who We Are:
We are formed by environment and grace, by politics and prayer, by church and conscience. All God's creatures conspire to teach us as well. We stumble, we stutter. We rise. We are lifted.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Let our tears of true contrition never fail us.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Two: 112-188
We now enter into Notebook Two of the six notebooks that make up the Diary of Saint Faustina. The reason for having more than one notebook is simply that when one notebook was filled by Saint Faustina she began with a new one. Therefore, there is nothing particularly different from one notebook to the other. However, for the purpose of this current book of daily reflections, each reflection will begin to be lengthened, starting here with Notebook Two, so as to help you, the reader, enter more deeply into the beautiful mysteries of faith and our shared spiritual life that have been revealed in these writings of Saint Faustina.
You are invited once again to take one reflection each day and to ponder it throughout the day. Try to pray the prayer for each reflection each morning, noon and evening. Allow each mystery reflected upon to become a source of wisdom and understanding for you.
Reflection 152: The Mystery of the Grace of Suffering
Human suffering is one of the greatest mysteries of life. The Diary of Saint Faustina, as well as the whole spiritual tradition of our faith, reveals much about this profound mystery of suffering. First, from a purely secular point of view, suffering is far from desirable. In fact, it is typically avoided at all costs and seen as the greatest of tragedies. However, from a Christian perspective, suffering itself has been transformed by Christ and made the greatest instrument of grace ever known. It was through His intense suffering on the Cross that the salvation of the world came about. And by freely embracing all suffering, He made it the means and source of all grace. By so doing, Jesus also invites us to see our sufferings as an opportunity for grace. By embracing it, uniting it to His Cross, and offering it to the Father, our suffering is also able to take on infinite value and become a channel of the Mercy of God. Suffering, freely embraced by a Christian, must become a sign of one’s closeness to Christ and a path to holiness (See Diary #774).
Suffering can be very difficult and yet unavoidable most often in life. Rather than run from it, reflect, today, upon the fact that God is able to use your suffering for good. This is a mysterious calling and requires the greatest of faith and trust. But when entered into, you will discover that the power of God overshadows and transforms even that which is most painful in life.
Lord, help me to entrust to You all suffering. Help me to have hope in You and to fix my gaze upon Your Cross during the most troubled times of life. Use me Lord, and use my suffering as a source of my holiness and for the up building of Your Church in holiness. Jesus, I trust in You.