Saint Benedict the Moor

 

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Pray for us, Saint Benedict the Moor!

Saint Benedict the Moor was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his master, became a solitary, eventually settling with other hermits at Montepellegrino. He was made superior of the community, but when he was about thirty-eight, Pope Pius IV disbanded communities of solitaries and he became a Franciscan lay brother. He cooked at St. Mary’s convent near Palermo. He was appointed against his will, superior of the convent when it opted for the reform, though he could neither read nor write. After serving as superior, he became a novice master but asked to be relieved of his post and returned to his former position as cook. His holiness, reputation for miracles, and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook. He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807, and is the patron saint of blacks in the United States. The surname “the Moor” is a misnomer originating from the Italian IL MORO (the black.) His feast day is April 4th.

 

Reflection:

The Lord does not look on the appearance but in the heart. Our good intention matters the most, for by it our goals are set, the very foundation of our good works. Saint Benedict the Moor, though illiterate yet submissive to God’s Will was able to break the barriers of racism and indifference. His humble submission and profound disposition enable him to be appreciated and loved. He was elevated to the ranks of superior and novice master, an evidence of practicing the virtues in his life.

Prayer:

O God, by whose gift blessed Benedict the Moor persevered in imitating Christ, poor and lowly, grant us through his intercession that, faithfully walking in our own vocation, we may reach the perfection you have set before us in your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, Bishop

 

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St. Turibius, pray for us!

Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

 

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made the professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

When the Archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. Turibius was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies and suffering to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. Turibius confessed every morning to his chaplain and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was the future Saint Rose of Lima, and possibly the future Saint Martin de Porres. After 1590, he had the help of another great missionary, Francis Solanus, now also a saint.

Though very poor his people were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

Reflection

The Lord indeed writes straight with crooked lines. Against his will, and from the unlikely springboard of an Inquisition tribunal, this man became the Christlike shepherd of a poor and oppressed people. God gave him the gift of loving others as they needed it.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org

 

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Blessed John of Parma

21.jpgThe seventh general minister of the Franciscan Order, John was known for his attempts to bring back the earlier spirit of the Order after the death of Saint Francis of Assisi.

He was born in Parma, Italy, in 1209. It was when he was a young philosophy professor known for his piety and learning that God called him to bid good-bye to the world he was used to and enter the new world of the Franciscan Order. After his profession, John was sent to Paris to complete his theological studies. Ordained to the priesthood, he was appointed to teach theology at Bologna, then Naples, and finally Rome.

In 1245, Pope Innocent IV called a general council in the city of Lyons, France. Crescentius, the Franciscan minister general at the time, was ailing and unable to attend. In his place he sent Friar John, who made a deep impression on the Church leaders gathered there. Two years later, when the same pope presided at the election of a minister general of the Franciscans, he remembered Friar John well and held him up as the man best qualified for the office.

And so in 1247, John of Parma was elected to be minister general. The surviving disciples of St. Francis rejoiced in his election, expecting a return to the spirit of poverty and humility of the early days of the Order. And they were not disappointed. As general of the Order, John traveled on foot, accompanied by one or two companions, to practically all of the Franciscan convents in existence. Sometimes he would arrive and not be recognized, remaining there for a number of days to test the true spirit of the brothers.

The pope called on John to serve as legate to Constantinople, where he was most successful in winning back the schismatic Greeks. Upon his return, he asked that someone else take his place to govern the Order. At John’s urging, Saint Bonaventure was chosen to succeed him. John took up a life of prayer in the hermitage at Greccio.

Many years later, John learned that the Greeks who had been reconciled with the Church for a time, had relapsed into schism. Though 80 years old by then, John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to the East in an effort to restore unity once again. On his way, John fell sick and died.

He was beatified in 1781.

Reflection

In the 13th century, people in their 30s were middle-aged; hardly anyone lived to the ripe old age of 80. John did, but he didn’t ease into retirement. Instead he was on his way to try to heal a schism in the Church when he died. Our society today boasts a lot of folks in their later decades. Like John, many of them lead active lives. But some aren’t so fortunate. Weakness or ill health keeps them confined and lonely—waiting to hear from us.

Prayer

Lord God, who graciously imbued blessed John with heavenly doctrine, grant, through his intercession, that we may keep that same teaching faithfully and express it in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

from: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/blessed-john-of-parma/

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Kingly Office of Saint Joseph

“Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions.”  Psalm 105:21, NLT

St. Joseph and the Christ Child Enthroned with Four AngelsThis psalm prefigures the office of Saint Joseph in administering the goods of the Lord, the Sovereign King. Saint Joseph, who was simple and silent was chosen by God in governing His greatest goods— Jesus and Mary. He was not inferior in the order of hierarchy because he was the Husband and the Father in the family. His “voice is heard even to the limits of the world” because he is the HEAD, and Our Blessed Lord and Our Lady must obey the voice of Saint Joseph! His power over them was not a cruel dictatorship but a loving devotee.

Saint Joseph looked at Jesus and Mary as persons of great respect. Yet, Our Lord and Our Lady viewed Saint Joseph as a person of high regard. This mutual love that is moving in them projects a kingdom of love here on earth. What a good example of the Holy Family, a family of love, the true realm of charity!

Saint Joseph who was appointed by God to be in charge of His household was responsible. He was trustworthy by the “talent” his Master gave him. Saint Joseph was able to “increase” the “talents” that he had by being a responsible keeper of Our Lord and Our Lady― not lousy yet active— by providing them in order that God’s Will be done.

His justice, his righteousness, and his morality were befitting in becoming the ruler of the king’s possessions. It would be terrible if God chose a wicked man, where will the goods go? For a wicked administrator is liken to a man who throws pearls to the pigs which they trample underfoot.

Let us be like Saint Joseph in dispensing the goods and possessions God has entrusted us. Let it be prudent yet affectionate. Let us be a “Father” rather than a ruler, a dictator and an autocrat. Let us be Christians in all that we do, like Saint Joseph, the man of full of love.

 

Saint Joseph, be our guide!

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San Juan de Dios

 

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Saint John of God, pray for us!

“For the love of Christ controls us…”

2 Corinthians 5:14

From the time he was eight to the day he died, John followed every impulse of his heart. The challenge for him was to rush to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit gave him, not his own human temptations. But unlike many who act impulsively, when John made a decision, no matter how quickly, he stuck with it, no matter what the hardship.

At eight years old, John heard a visiting priest speak of adventures that were waiting in the age of 1503 with new worlds being opened up. That very night he ran away from home to travel with the priest and never saw his parents again. They begged their way from village to village until John fell sick. The man who nursed him back to health, the manager of a large estate, adopted John. John worked as a shepherd in the mountains until he was 27. Feeling pressure to marry the manager’s daughter, whom he loved as a sister, John took off to join the Spanish army in the war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.

When he returned he kept his spur of the moment vow, made a confession, and immediately changed his life. His comrades didn’t mind so much that John was repenting but hated that he wanted them to give up their pleasures too. So they used his impulsive nature to trick him into leaving his post on the pretext of helping someone in need. He was rescued from hanging at the last minute and thrown out of the army after being beaten and stripped. He begged his way back to his foster home where he worked as a shepherd until he heard of a new war with Moslems invading Europe. Off he went but after the war was over, he decided to try to find his real parents. To his grief, he discovered both had died in his absence.

As a shepherd, he had plenty of time to contemplate what God might want of his life. When he decided at 38 that he should go to Africa to ransom Christian captives, he quit immediately and set off for the port of Gibraltar. He was on the dock waiting for his ship when he saw a family obviously upset and grieving. When he discovered they were a noble family being exiled to Africa after political intrigues, he abandoned his original plan and volunteered to be their servant. The family fell sick when they reached their exile and John kept them alive not only by nursing them but by earning money to feed them. His job building fortifications were grueling, inhuman work and the workers were beaten and mistreated by people who called themselves Catholics. Seeing Christians act this way so disturbed John that it shook his faith. A priest advised him not to blame the Church for their actions and to leave for Spain at once. John did go back home — but only after he learned that his newly adopted family had received pardons.

In Spain, he spent his days unloading ship cargoes and his nights visiting churches and reading spiritual books. Reading gave him so much pleasure that he decided that he should share this joy with others. He quit his job and became a book peddler, traveling from town to town selling religious books and holy cards. A vision at age 41 brought him to Granada where he sold books from a little shop. (For this reason, he is the patron saint of booksellers and printers.)

After hearing a sermon from the famous John of Avila on repentance, he was so overcome by the thought of his sins that the whole town thought the little bookseller had gone from simple eccentricity to madness. After the sermon, John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. Clothes torn and weeping, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.

Friends took the distraught John to the Royal Hospital where he was interned with the lunatics. John suffered the standard treatment of the time — being tied down and daily whipping. John of Avila came to visit him there and told him his penance had gone on long enough — forty days, the same amount as the Lord’s suffering the desert — and had John moved to a better part of the hospital.

John of God could never see suffering without trying to do something about it. And now that he was free to move, although still a patient, he immediately got up and began to help the other sick people around him. The hospital was glad to have his unpaid nursing help and was not happy to release him when one day he walked in to announce he was going to start his own hospital.

John may have been positive that God wanted him to start a hospital for the poor who got bad treatment, if any, from the other hospitals, but everyone else still thought of him as a madman. It didn’t help that he decided to try to finance his plan by selling wood in the square. At night he took what little money he earned and brought food and comfort to the poor living in abandoned buildings and under bridges. Thus his first hospital was the streets of Granada.

Within an hour after seeing a sign in a window saying “House to let for lodging of the poor” he had rented the house in order to move his nursing indoors. Of course, he rented it without money for furnishings, medicine, or help. After he begged money for beds, he went out in the streets again and carried his ill patients back on the same shoulders that had carried stones, wood, and books. Once there he cleaned them, dressed their wounds, and mended their clothes at night while he prayed. He used his old experience as a peddler to beg alms, crying through the streets in his peddler’s voice, “Do good to yourselves! For the love of God, Brothers, do good!” Instead of selling goods, he took anything given — scraps of good, clothing, a coin here and there.

Throughout his life, he was criticized by people who didn’t like the fact that his impulsive love embraced anyone in need without asking for credentials or character witnesses. When he was able to move his hospital to an old Carmelite monastery, he opened a homeless shelter in the monastery hall. Immediately critics tried to close him down saying he was pampering troublemakers. His answer to this criticism always was that he knew of only one bad character in the hospital and that was himself. His urge to act immediately when he saw need got him into trouble more than a few times. Once, when he encountered a group of starving people, he rushed into a house, stole a pot of food, and gave it to them. He was almost arrested for that charity! Another time, on finding a group of children in rags, he marched them into a clothing shop and bought them all new clothes. Since he had no money, he paid for it all on credit!

Yet his impulsive wish to help saved many people in one emergency. The alarm went out that the Royal Hospital was on fire. When he dropped everything to run there, he found that the crowd was just standing around watching the hospital — and its patients — go up in flames. He rushed into the blazing building and carried or led the patients out. When all the patients were rescued, he started throwing blankets, sheets, and mattresses out the windows — how well he knew from his own hard work how important these things were. At that point, a cannon was brought to destroy the burning part of the building in order to save the rest. John stopped them, ran up the roof, and separated the burning portion with an ax. He succeeded but fell through the burning roof. All thought they had lost their hero until John of God appeared miraculously out of smoke. (For this reason, John of God is the patron saint of firefighters.)

John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, of the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is the patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.

 

In His Footsteps:

When you feel the urge to serve, help, or pray do you act on it or argue yourself out of it? Today if you feel an impulse to do good, do it immediately as John of God would have done without thinking of how practical or how embarrassing it might be.

 

Prayer:

Saint John of God, help us to act out of love as soon as we feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help us learn to fight the little voices in our heads and hearts that give us all sorts of practical reasons to wait or delay in our service of God. Amen

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Saint Ansgar

The “apostle of the north” (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did. He became a Benedictine at Corbie, France, where he had been educated. Three years later, when the king of Denmark became a convert, Ansgar went to that country for three years of missionary work, without noticeable success. Sweden asked for Christian missionaries, and he went there, suffering capture by pirates and other hardships on the way. Fewer than two years later, he was recalled, to become abbot of New Corbie (Corvey) and bishop of Hamburg. The pope made him legate for the Scandinavian missions. Funds for the northern apostolate stopped with Emperor Louis’s death. After 13 years’ work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen; Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.

He directed new apostolic activities in the North, traveling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another king. By the strange device of casting lots, the king of Sweden allowed the Christian missionaries to return.

Ansgar’s biographers remark that he was an extraordinary preacher, a humble and ascetical priest. He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table. He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.

Sweden became pagan again after his death, and remained so until the coming of missionaries two centuries later.

Reflection

History records what people do, rather than what they are. Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary. Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines. Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in his own way; he is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.

 

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Renewed Servant-Leader: The Prophet of Faith

InfantJesus_JohnBaptistA prophet is a man who is enlightened by God to foretell events; an interpreter and supernaturally enlightened herald sent by God to communicate His Will and designs to Israel. Today, in our post-modern times, to become a renewed servant-leader means to be a PROPHET OF FAITH. The faith that we received from the Holy Mother Church, pure as the wax of the bees, is to be transmitted in its exact purity and precise authenticity. The Angelic Doctor said, “Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church.” To tell the Faith: correctness, boldness and charity are necessary.

Correctness. Our faith must be free from error. The God Israel had forbidden all kinds of oracles for it is abominable before Him. Faith is a gift from God and God pass on the correct faith to people like the PROPHETS. They gave us what the Lord has commanded them to do, for us to do as well. Correct faith is essential in our worship to the Lord. Our faith must be in accordance with the truth, therefore a correct faith. For “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6) and, only CORRECT FAITH can be pleasing to the Lord. The Holy Mother Church who was and is the Prophet of All Times has the correct faith. Let us be in one accord with the Church that we may possess CORRECT FAITH.

Boldness. We must be fearless instruments of God especially in propagating the faith, for it is His joy and His joy is our strength (Neh. 8:10) As renewed servant-leader we must have the zeal of a prophet, the boldness that is not terrified by death and persecutions. In disseminating CORRECT FAITH, to be bold is a demand. We encounter lots of trouble for we inculcate “troubles” in their hearts by the truth that we proclaim — Jesus Christ our Lord. Like the Prophets of old, we must have the joy of proclaiming the Faith yet fervent. Joy, boldness and zeal should be present that the people we face can tell that this is not a lousy, poor and erroneous faith.

Charity. Charity begins at home. The parents are the first “formators” of Faith, from them we obtain the faith that was handed over from generation to generation. To announce the faith means to be charitable not empathetic. Our faith is not negotiable yet charity is not wanting. As renewed servant-leader, we must execute what the faith demands not in an empathetic manner but in a charitable way.  Moreover, Saint Paul says that love is not delighted in evil but rejoices in truth. In addition, Our Blessed Lord told us that there is no prophet in his own home. Therefore, there will be divisions because we need to place weights on our faith not for our own but for the glory of God and that is charity for God. Our zeal for God’s glory must lead others to see that they too must put stress on the Faith that they lived in.

May Our Lady, the Queen of the Prophets help us to be true witnesses of Faith, a faith that is correct, bold and charitable.

Totus Tuus Maria!

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