S. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions| S. John of the Cross| S. Chrysogonus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
St. Andrew was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Blessed John Paul II.
Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.
The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.
Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.
Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons.
The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.
By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.
During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.
It may help a people who associate Vietnam only with a 20th-century war to realize that the cross has long been a part of the lives of the people of that country. Even as some people ask again the unanswered questions about United States involvement and disengagement, the faith rooted in Vietnam's soil proves hardier than the forces which would destroy it.
“The Church in Vietnam is alive and vigorous, blessed with strong and faithful bishops, dedicated religious, and courageous and committed laypeople.... The Church in Vietnam is living out the gospel in a difficult and complex situation with remarkable persistence and strength” (statement of three U.S. archbishops returning from Vietnam in January 1989).
St. John of the Cross
John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet and theologian-priest.
Ordained a Carmelite priest at 25 (1567), John met Teresa of Jesus (October 15) and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!
Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.
But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.
John in his life and writings has a crucial word for us today. We tend to be rich, soft, comfortable. We shrink even from words like self-denial, mortification, purification, asceticism, discipline. We run from the cross. John’s message—like the gospel—is loud and clear: Don’t—if you really want to live!
Thomas Merton said of John: "Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in St. John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified."
In John's words:
"Never was fount so clear,
undimmed and bright;
From it alone,
I know proceeds all light
although 'tis night."
Patron Saint of:
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Chrysogonus, Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Chrysogonus Martyr, suffered at Aquileia, probably during the persecution of Diocletian, was buried there, and publicly venerated by the faithful of that region. His name is found in the so-called “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” on two different days, 31 May and 24 November, with the topographical note, “in Aquileia” (“Martyrol. Hier.”, ed. De Rossi; Duchesne in “Acta SS.”, Nov. II). The Weissenburg manuscript of the “Mart. Hieron.” alone mentions the primitive the topographical indication on the latter date; the Echternach manuscript says, “Romae natale Crisogoni”, while under 23 November Chrysogonus appear again among the Roman martyrs. Very early indeed the veneration of this martyr of Aquileia was transferred to Rome, where a titular church, in Trastevere, bears his name to this day. This church (Titulus Chrysogoni) is first mentioned in the signatures of the Roman Synod of 499 (Duchesne, “Notes sur la topographie de Rome au moyen age” in “Mélanges d’archéol. et d’histoire”, VII, 227), but it probably dates from the fourth century (De Rossi, “Inscript. christ.”, II, 152, N. 27, “Bulletino di archeol. crist.”, 1887, 168). It is possible that the founder of the church was a certain Chrysogonus, and that, on account of the similarity of name, the church was soon devoted to the veneration of the martyr of Aquileia, it is also possible that from the beginning, for some unknown reason, it was consecrated to St. Chrysogonus and takes its name from him. In a similar way the veneration of St. Anastasia of Sirmium was translated to Rome (see SAINT ANASTASIA, MARTYR) about the sixth century arose a legend of the martyr that made him a Roman and brought him into relation with St. Anastasia, evidently to explain the veneration of Chrysogonus in the Roman church that bears his name. According to this legend, Chrysogonus, at first a functionary of the vicarius Urbis, was the Christian teacher of Anastasia, the daughter of the noble Roman Praetextatus. Being thrown into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he comforted by his letters the severely afflicted Anastasia. By order of Diocletian, Chrysogonus was brought before the emperor at Aquileia, condemned to death, and beheaded. His corpse, thrown into the sea, was washed ashore and buried by the aged priest, Zoilus. In the legend the death of the saint is placed on the 23rd of November. In the actual Roman martyrology his feast is celebrated on 24 November; by the Greeks on 16 April.
Women religious have been some of the most influential people in my entire life. They have influenced me by being not only friends and companions in the Lord but also role models. They are not just peers. They are also people I look up to.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The human soul is the battleground between God and Satan.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Six: 327-365
We enter, now, the last of the six notebooks that Saint Faustina filled with revelations from our Lord about His unfathomable and perfect Mercy. At this point, the Message of Mercy should be clear and evoking of a deep trust in the incomprehensible love of God. All that has been shared to this point reveals that God is relentless in His pursuit of you, seeking only to love you unconditionally and to draw you into His glorious life for all eternity.
The greatest obstacle to this call to holiness is sin. But it is abundantly clear that sin is no match for the Mercy of God. His Mercy dispels your sin in an instant, disposing of your past errors forever. God’s only desire is the present moment, for in this present moment He comes to you, descending from the heights of Heaven, entering into the inner core of your soul so as to form a perfect communion with you, lifting you up to share in His divine life.
This final notebook will be reflected upon as a summary of all that has been reflected upon thus far. Just like the reflections on the first notebook, the reflections for this notebook will be short and to the point. Once you finish this chapter you are invited to return to it often as a way of quickly and easily reminding yourself of the abundant Mercy of God. The Lord’s love is perfect in every way. Allow Him to speak this truth to you with clarity and conviction.
Reflection 328: Heaven
Heaven invites us into a life of glory and fulfillment that is beyond what we could ever comprehend. Not even in Heaven will we fully comprehend the glorious mystery of God and His Mercy. From Heaven, the saints, radiant with glory and grace, look down upon us with love, seeking to lavish us with the Mercy of God. Seek Heaven as your primary and ultimate goal in life. Do all things with this goal in mind and the treasure you will build up for all eternity will be more abundant than you could ever hope for (See Diary #1592).
Do you think about Heaven as your one true desire in life? Every act of love offered here on Earth will be remembered and exalted in Heaven. Everything we do on Earth should be but a preparation for the glorious day of our passing from this world into our eternal home. Ponder your desires and if the glories of Heaven is not front and center, be aware of that fact, redirect your focus and seek to place your eyes on this ultimate prize. As you look at the beauty and splendor of Heaven, the Lord will draw you to it with a burning desire.
Lord, please flood my heart with the joyful delight of Heaven. Help me to keep my eyes on this goal and to do all in this life as a preparation for that sweet encounter. I love You, dear Lord, and have great hope in the day of our perfect union. Jesus, I trust in You.