Blog Post - November 17th
S. Elizabeth of Hungary| Pope S. Gregory the Great| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
In her short life Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers. This choice endeared her in the hearts of the common people throughout Europe.
At the age of 14 Elizabeth was married to Louis of Thuringia (a German principality), whom she deeply loved; she bore three children. Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan friar, she led a life of prayer, sacrifice and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate.
After six years of marriage, her husband died in the Crusades, and she was grief-stricken. Her husband’s family looked upon her as squandering the royal purse, and mistreated her, finally throwing her out of the palace. The return of her husband’s allies from the Crusades resulted in her being reinstated, since her son was legal heir to the throne.
In 1228 Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order, spending the remaining few years of her life caring for the poor in a hospital which she founded in honor of St. Francis. Elizabeth’s health declined, and she died before her 24th birthday in 1231. Her great popularity resulted in her canonization four years later.
Elizabeth understood well the lesson Jesus taught when he washed his disciples' feet at the Last Supper: The Christian must be one who serves the humblest needs of others, even if one serves from an exalted position. Of royal blood, Elizabeth could have lorded it over her subjects. Yet she served them with such a loving heart that her brief life won for her a special place in the hearts of many. Elizabeth is also an example to us in her following the guidance of a spiritual director. Growth in the spiritual life is a difficult process. We can play games very easily if we don't have someone to challenge us or to share experiences so as to help us avoid pitfalls.
"Today, there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of every individual, without exception, and to take positive steps to help a neighbor whom we encounter, whether that neighbor be an elderly person, abandoned by everyone, a foreign worker who suffers the injustice of being despised, a refugee, an illegitimate child wrongly suffering for a sin of which the child is innocent, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of Christ: 'As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me' (Matthew 25:40)" (Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 27, Austin Flannery translation).
St. Gregory the Great
Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome.
Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.
He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed.
Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king.
An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great."
His book, Pastoral Care, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.
Gregory was content to be a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave his considerable energies completely to this work.
"Perhaps it is not after all so difficult for a man to part with his possessions, but it is certainly most difficult for him to part with himself. To renounce what one has is a minor thing; but to renounce what one is, that is asking a lot" (St. Gregory,Homilies on the Gospels).
Patron Saint of:
In the very depths of forgiveness is a connection to God for which we all long; when we seek forgiveness--either the ability to give it or to get it-- we cleave to God because he is the source of all mercy. No true mercy exists apart from Him.
Quote by S. Pio:
This life is a continual struggle...Calm is reserved for heaven...
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 321: The Seraphic Soul
Everyone is called to holiness and in that holiness is able to obtain complete happiness. But God always chooses some for a special mission of holiness, a higher form of holiness. These souls could be called “Seraphic Souls.” The classic example is to compare two glasses of water. One is large and one is small. They are both filled to the brim so they are both full. But one contains more water. So it is with holiness. Some are given a special calling to reach a greater height. All people are to be “full” of the Holy Spirit and, thus, obtain perfect happiness. But some are invited higher in a unique way. This is similar to the Nine Choirs of Angels. The Seraphim are of the highest order and have as their sole purpose the worship and adoration of God. The Guardian Angels are of the lowest order and have as their primary duty the service of man. Each celestial being is perfectly happy and rejoices in the unique calling of each (See Diary #1556).
Reflect, today, upon this glorious ordering of holiness for angels and for humanity. At first, it may not seem fair that some are given a special calling to holiness and even a special sharing in the sufferings of Christ. We must all ponder this truth and rejoice in it. And as for those seraphic souls in the world, and those given a special call to share in Christ’s sufferings, we should seek them out and seek the wisdom and grace that flows from their lives. God has a good reason for such ordering; it’s our duty to embrace it with joy and to benefit from their blessed vocation.
Lord, I thank you for Your perfect wisdom in ordering the holiness of both angels and humanity. Help me to always seek out those seraphic souls, the special saints, who have reached a glorious level of holiness. Thank You for their witness and thank You for their freely embraced suffering. May the world be continually blessed by their lives. Jesus, I trust in You.