Blog Post - September 5th
S. Teresa of Calcutta| S. Lawrence Justinian| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.
Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.
During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.
In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”
After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.
The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.
For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.
Mother Teresa's beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Blessed John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.
Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the 2003 beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa “one of the most relevant personalities of our age” and “an icon of the Good Samaritan.” Her life, he said, was “a bold proclamation of the gospel.”
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Lawrence Justinian, Bishop. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Lawrence Justinian, Patriarch of Venice by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
St. Lawrence was a descendant of the noble house of Giustiniani, greatly famed at Genoa, Venice and Naples. He was born 1380, of very pious parents, but early lost his father, Bernard. His mother, on whom now devolved the education of her children, redoubled her care, but Lawrence gave her very little trouble, as he was naturally inclined to virtue. One day, she made him understand that she feared he harbored ambition or pride secretly in his heart; but he answered: "fear not, mother; I have only one ambition, and that is to become a great servant of the Lord, and to be more pious than my brothers." His conduct in youth bore witness to his words; for though he lived at a period when the morals of the whole city were very corrupt, his edifying life was regarded by everyone with surprise and admiration.
To escape the danger which threatened him, he prayed most fervently to God to give him the grace to know the vocation to which he was called. While, one day, kneeling before a crucifix and an image of the Blessed Virgin, he said his prayers for this intention, he felt deep within him an intense desire to leave the world, and to serve God in the religious state. He obeyed the heavenly voice, renounced the world and all its allurements, went to the Regular Canons of St. George, in Alga, an island near Venice, and requested to be received among their number. His request was granted, and he began his novitiate cheerfully; but he soon manifested in his conduct that he was no beginner in the science of holiness, but a proficient. His superiors had much more difficulty in moderating his zeal than in animating it.
Amongst other austerities which he practiced to mortify himself, it was specially noticed that, even on the coldest days, he never warmed himself by the fire, and that, in summer, he took nothing to allay his thirst except with his meals at noon and evening. He was never seen taking the air in the convent garden, or enjoying the beauty and fragrance of the flowers. The only time when he visited his home was when he was called to see his dying mother. Still more to be admired is the fortitude with which he bore a very painful and dangerous operation on his throat for the removal of a great tumor. He himself encouraged the surgeon to begin fearlessly. "Cannot Christ," said he, "give me as much fortitude as He gave to the three youths in the furnace?" Not even a sigh escaped him during the operation he repeated only the names of Jesus and Mary. When those present uttered their profound astonishment at his self-control, he said: "How little is my suffering compared with that of the holy martyrs, who were tortured with burning torches and red hot irons, or roasted over a slow fire."
After Lawrence had been ordained priest, he daily said Mass with great devotion and seldom without tears. During the Mass on Christmas-night, heaven bestowed upon him the grace to behold his Saviour in the form of a lovely child, to the inexpressible comfort of his heart. Although he desired to remain free from all offices of honor, he was chosen general of his order, and sometime later was nominated bishop of Venice, by Pope Eugenius IV. The humble servant of the Almighty endeavored in every possible manner to escape this dignity; but at last obliged by obedience, he accepted it. As bishop, he altered nothing of the austerities he had practiced in the monastery; he visited his whole diocese, and with apostolic zeal, animated his flock to observe the Commandments of God and the Church. His income he used for the benefit of the Church and the relief of the poor.
Besides several collegiate Churches, he founded fifteen religious houses, and daily fed a great number of poor. The answer he gave to one of his relatives, who requested a contribution out of the Episcopal revenues as a marriage-portion for his daughter, must not be omitted. "It will not satisfy you if I give you but little," said he; "and if I give you much, you alone will receive it, and many others will have nothing. No, the Episcopal revenues must not be used for worldly luxuries, but to comfort the needy. Be not offended, therefore, that I cannot fulfill your desire." Thus spoke the holy bishop, whom Pope Nicholas V. soon after raised to a still higher dignity.
The Patriarch of Grado died; and as the Pope desired to nominate Lawrence as his successor, but was convinced at the same time, that the Venetians would not consent to part with their bishop, he transferred the Patriarchal chair to Venice, and declared St. Lawrence the first Patriarch of Venice. This city had indeed great reason to use all possible means not to lose the Saint, as only on his account God averted a terrible and well-deserved punishment from its walls. There lived at that time, in the Island of Corfu, a hermit, famous for his holiness, who, one day, said to a Venetian noble, who visited him: "The inhabitants of Venice have provoked God's wrath, by despising His words, and had not the tears of your Patriarch cried to Him, you would all have long since gone to destruction like the inhabitants of Sodom."
While the holy Patriarch was assiduously occupied with the functions of his high station, his strength gradually gave way and he felt his end approaching. On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, he felt, during Holy Mass, an intense desire to be admitted into the presence of his God. A fever, which seized him soon after Mass, ended with his death in a very few days. He lay on the bare floor, and not even in his last days could he be persuaded to make use of a softer bed. "Jesus Christ," said he, "died upon the hard wood of the Cross, and you desire that a sinner, like me, should lie soft and comfortable!" After receiving the holy Sacraments, he gave his last instructions to those around him. "Keep the Commandments of the Lord," said he; "nothing is more noble or excellent than to serve God." After having finished his discourse, he raised his eyes to heaven and said: "I am coming, O my Jesus!" and his soul went to God. Thus ended, in the seventy-third year of his age, the earthly career of this great and holy Patriarch. That his life in heaven had begun, was known by the manner in which the Lord honored his holy body, from which emanated a heavenly fragrance; as also, by the miracles which, at the intercession of the Saint, took place at his tomb, in favor of the infirm and the possessed.
Remember, evangelization is rooted in good relationships—with friends, coworkers, and people we meet every day. We are not in the numbers game. We want to help people discover the love and mercy of God right where they are.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Live tranquilly in the presence of God, who has loved you for a long time now, granting you His holy fear and the desire for His love.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Four: 237-262
We continue to the fourth notebook that Saint Faustina filled with reflections and revelations from Jesus. As we enter into this notebook, allow yourself to seek God in the silence. This chapter begins with Saint Faustina revealing that she was experiencing a “dark night” (Diary #1235). She lacked the sensory feelings of closeness to God. By analogy, it would be as if you were in a dark room filled with treasures and someone told you that all the treasures of this room were yours. You could not see them but you trusted the person who spoke about all that was around you. Knowledge of these treasures filled your mind even though the darkness hid them from your eyes.
So it is with God. Saint Faustina loved our Lord with all her heart and with every beat of her heart. She knew His closeness and love. But it appears that she could not sense this through her human senses. This gift of darkness allowed her to enter into a relationship with God on a spiritual level far deeper.
Seek this depth of relationship with God as you read through this chapter. Move beyond a desire to feel close to God and allow yourself to become close to God. He wants to enter your heart on a much deeper level than you ever knew possible. Be open to the newness of a relationship shrouded in darkness and allow the Lord to communicate His Mercy to you on this new level of love.
Reflection 248: Unlimited Resources
Imagine if you found a source of unlimited natural resources by creating a machine that transforms only a small amount of oxygen into an unlimited amount of energy. All you had to do is turn on the machine you created and the energy is generated endlessly. That would be quite an invention. But something like this does exist on a spiritual level. The “oxygen” it runs on is our misery and sin. And the “generator” is the Heart of Jesus. The “energy” it produces is God’s endless Mercy. If we could only understand this then our world would be flooded with this supernatural resource to an infinite degree. We must realize that God transforms our misery in life when we offer it to Him. In fact, this is His burning desire. His Heart longs to transform your misery into His Mercy so that your own life will be filled to abundance and so that, through you, the world will be filled to abundance. Give to God your misery and sin and let Him endlessly transform it (See Diary #1273).
What do you think about your own misery and sin? Do you hide it, cover it up, ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist? Do you go through life presenting the illusion of a sin-free and misery-free life? Some do this and others go to the opposite extreme, wallowing in self-pity and manifesting their misery for all to see as if their misery were a badge of honor. Neither approach is helpful. The only helpful approach is to surrender your sin and all misery to the Heart of Jesus. You can do this. You simply need to make the choice to do so. Do it today. Begin to make this act of total surrender and you will discover the miraculous power in the Heart of Jesus to transform everything into Mercy.
Oh Heart of Jesus, I run to You with my misery and pain and I surrender my sin to You, dear Lord. Please transform it into Your Mercy, enabling this gift to become a source of endless grace. Jesus, I trust in You.