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Blog Post - September 9th

S. Peter Claver| S. Gorgonius| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection



St. Peter Claver

(1581-1654)

Both Calendars

A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena (now in Colombia), a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615.

By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although the practice of slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled "supreme villainy" by Pius IX, it continued to flourish.

Peter Claver's predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work, declaring himself "the slave of the Negroes forever."

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God's saving love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.

After four years of sickness which forced the saint to remain inactive and largely neglected, he died on September 8, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the black outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp.

He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.

Comment:

The Holy Spirit's might and power are manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one's homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for us to imagine. Peter's determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man's, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus' Spirit.

Quote:

Peter Claver understood that concrete service like the distributing of medicine, food or brandy to his black brothers and sisters could be as effective a communication of the word of God as mere verbal preaching. As Peter Claver often said, "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."

Patron Saint of:

African-Americans

Colombia



Saints Gorgonius and Dorotheus, Martyrs

Today also in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Gorgonius, Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found below.

Martyr, suffered in 304 at Nicomedia during the persecution of Diocletian. Gorgonius held a high position in the household of the emperor, and had often been entrusted with matters of the greatest importance. At the breaking out of the persecution he was consequently among the first to be charged, and, remaining constant in the profession of the Faith, was with his companions, Dorotheus, Peter and several others, subjected to the most frightful torments and finally strangled. Diocletian, determined that their bodies should not receive the extraordinary honours which the early Christians were wont to pay the relics of the martyrs (honours so great as to occasion the charge of idolatry ), ordered them to be thrown into the sea. The Christians nevertheless obtained possession of them, and later the body of Gorgonius was carried to Rome, whence in the eighth century it was translated by St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, and enshrined in the monastery of Gorze. Many French churches obtained portions of the saint's body from Gorze, but in the general pillage of the French Revolution, most of these relics were lost. Our chief sources of information regarding these martyrs are Lactantius and Eusebius. Their feast is kept on 9 Sept.

There are five other martyrs of this name venerated in the Church. The first is venerated at Nice on 10 March; the second, martyred at Antioch, is commemorated on 11 March; the third, martyred at Rome, is honoured at Tours on 11 March; the fourth, martyred at Nicomedia, is reverenced in the East on 12 March; while the fifth is one of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, whose feast is kept 10 March.



Another Story:


ST. GORGONIUS

from VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS by St. Alphonsus


Diocletian having been greatly alarmed by a fire breaking out in 303 in his palace at Nicomedia, was told by some malevolent persons that the disaster had been caused by the Christians, who, it was said, intended to burn him alive. The emperor accordingly determined to exterminate them from the empire, and forthwith sent orders to all the governors that they should put to death all the Christians of their respective jurisdiction, without any exception whatever, and this on pain of losing not only their office, but their lives.


Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, being an implacable enemy of the Christians, caused the palace to be a second time set on fire, in order the more to incite the emperor against them; he, moreover, accused the Christian officers of the palace with being the authors of the fire, alleging that their intention was to destroy both the emperors, together with the household.


Diocletian's rage knew no bounds; and the first victim was one of his chamberlains, a zealous Christian named Peter, who being commanded to sacrifice or lose his life, answered: "I would rather lose my life than my religion. How can it be expected that I should sacrifice to the devils, who are our enemies?" Having said these words, he was hoisted in the air, and most cruelly scourged upon every part of the body; after which he was taken down, and vinegar and salt being rubbed into his torn flesh, he was roasted on a gridiron, in which torture the Christian hero terminated his life.


Diocletian was aware that the lord chamberlain Dorotheus, and Gorgonius, one of the principal officers of the household, were Christians; but as he loved them on account of their fidelity and virtue, he could not bring himself to condemn them to death. The two saints, however, had witnessed, and regarded with a kind of pious jealousy, the martyrdom of Peter; and finding themselves one day alone with the emperor, they respectfully represented to him how much he had been imposed upon by those malevolent persons, who induced him to persecute the innocent.


They continued: "What evil hath Peter done, my lord, to merit so cruel a death? True, he was a Christian; but what subjects are there in all the empire more faithful than the Christians? If to be so be considered a crime, we are willing to die for it. But it is no crime; on the contrary, we are obliged to adore the one only true God."


After this protestation, Diocletian was wavering between his regard for the saints and his hatred of their faith: but Galerius soon caused the latter to prevail; and it was intimated to them that they should renounce their faith, or suffer death.


Having refused to comply with the wishes of the emperor, they were scourged so cruelly, and their blood flowed so copiously, that the torture was suspended lest they should expire under it. However, as they were found yet alive, and firm in their resolution, they were roasted over a slow fire, upon a gridiron, and afterwards strangled.


Thus on the 9th of September, in the year 302, did they consummate their sacrifice, a striking example of the love of God, and an acceptable holocaust to His honor.


Their relics were subsequently brought to Rome, and buried on the Via Latina, whence they were translated by Pope Gregory IV to St. Peter's Church, in the year 764. Pope Paul the First granted the body of St. Gorgonius to the Bishop of Mentz, and it was again translated, in the year 1595, to Pont Mausson, where it still remains.



Daily Meditation

It's All About Jesus:

God wants all people to be saved. He fills us with his Holy Spirit—to guide and inspire us, to give us insight, wisdom, and courage. In baptism we were marked with the priestly character of Christ himself.


Quote by S. Padre Pio:

Jesus is never more close to you as He is during your spiritual battles.

Divine Mercy

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 252: The Apostolate of Mercy and Acceptance


Some people are deeply troubled in life and cannot seem to sort out their difficulties. They are “needy” in the sense that they are constantly seeking something to offer them consolation. They may believe that riches or other forms of earthly consolations are what they want but what they do not realize is that the Lord is the answer to all their needs. These wandering souls must become the focus of our mercy. One way we offer the Mercy of God to them is through our gentle presence, offering an accepting heart and listening ear. When those with heavy burdens in life discover that we care for them and wish to listen to them, they will often seize the opportunity to open up their hearts to us, revealing their wounds and troubles. It is not so much our responsibility to do the healing or to solve their problems. Our responsibility is most often to simply let them know we care and understand. This act of love and acceptance is an act of extraordinary Mercy flowing from the Heart of Jesus through us (See Diary #1282).


When you encounter others who are troubled and heavily burdened in life, how do you treat them? Do you treat them with judgment and disgust? Or do you listen to them, seek to understand them, and offer an accepting and compassionate heart? Reflect upon this question and think about those whom God has placed in your life who need to know God’s love and acceptance through you. Do not neglect this act for you are called to be an apostle of the Mercy of God.


Lord, I offer myself to You as an apostle of Your merciful Heart. Give me a true compassion and acceptance for those souls in most need of Your Divine Mercy. Help me to listen to them, seek to understand them and be there for them as a representative of Your Sacred Heart. I give myself to You, dear Lord. Use me as You will. Jesus, I trust in You.

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