Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Journeying to the heart: Readings for May 8th

Another Canadian Blessed, ignored by the American sites so the formatting is a little different! . This one would have been a contemporary of Bishop de Laval, and is nicknamed '"co-foundress of the Catholic Church in Canada."  I also liked the color of they used  to highlight certain sections, and  have incorporated it here! 

Marie Catherine of Saint Augustine (Catherine of Longpré) was an Augustinian Hospitaller Sister of the Mercy of Jesus of the "Hotel Dieu" in Quebec City.
Born on May 3, 1632, at St. Sauveur le Vicomte in Normandy, France. 
 Barely three and a half years of age, the child already burned with an ardent desire to accomplish the Will of God in all things. She did nothing without asking permission from a picture of the Blessed Virgin and she reveals in her journal that this Good Mother answered her prayers, and that she played with the Child Jesus.
On October 24, 1646, she took the religious habit, at the same time as her grandmother who, having been widowed, went to join her in the monastery. She took the name of Sister Marie Catherine of St. Augustine. Mesmerized by the same accounts that had inspired Blessed Francois de Laval, She signs her engagement to go to Canada on April 12, 1648. The crossing to the new world is dangerous and long, it lasted 3 months. Illness causes many deaths. Sister Marie Catherine herself falls ill to the incurable disease. She was going to die;However, God wants her in Canada, He watches over her and the Blessed Virgin cures her.
Having arrived in Quebec, Sister Marie Catherine courageously goes to work, sharing the hard work of the forefathers and learning the Indian languages and coping with the elements.  
Because of her grace and charity, our young hospitaller nun swiftly wins the friendship of the Indians. 
Bishop de Laval already understands the holy treasure that the "Hotel Dieu" has in the person of Sister Marie Catherine; he consults her often and recommends to her prayers the most important affairs of the diocese. Unfortunately her life was cut short, and she dies at the age of 36 in 1668, on May 8th

Reflections on Readings:

 There’s a story by a French author named Emanuel Scmidt that explores the presence of the divine in human history. He tries to look at it from God’s perspective: In the early days after all of creation had been set in motion, there was still so much of himself that God wanted to give to creation, but this was a sacred, and holy part of himself that he knew was so beautiful, that he wanted it to be kept secret. He wanted humanity to have to seek and to discover this in order to understand it’s true beauty. But where to put it? God sought high and low. It didn’t make sense for him to put it in a cave that no one would ever visit, or a high mountain that only few would ever climb. He wanted this to be a secret, but to be accessible to all. After a few days of reflections, and of searching, God decide, I will place it in one of the most unexplored, yet easily accessible places in the world: The heart of the human being. That way, when humanity is ready to uncover this secret, it will be there for them to uncover.

 With this statement, Schmit is really saying that the potential for a religious experience lies in ALL PEOPLE. Perhaps, without even knowing it, some of our brothers and sisters in the world are already experiencing God, but are uncomfortable with this traditional ‘label of God’. This is all too often one of the many challenges to evangelization that we face today, which is very different from the challenges Paul and the Early Christians faced.  We’ve seen that some of the Gentiles were more receptive to the Good news than many of their own Jewish brethren, but it was still an uphill battle for this early Christian community. First off, as we know, the Gentiles already had Gods. Paul wasn’t going to just be able to waltz in there and say ‘forget your statues, I have something way more interesting for you’ and expect that to work. As we’ve experience in the history of the world, you don’t just throw away centuries of tradition just because some guy has a few compelling arguments or some neat tricks up his sleeves.  Another challenge faced was quite simply that the Greeks and Romans did not believe in the resurrection of the Body. So for Paul to come along and speak of Jesus’ resurrection, this was something people would have scoffed at.
 Thankfully, this early community seemed to be rather gifted at communicating the Gospel. This came to me as a bit of a surprise to tell you the truth. Paul usually comes off as someone that can be a bit  standoffish, and I’ll say it,  a bit of a jerk…as much as having so much confidence that you’re right and the other guy is wrong can make one a jerk! But as we see in today’s first reading, Paul was actually much more complex, subtle, and clever than that. In speaking to the Greeks, he recognizes their ‘spirituality’ their propensity for faith and builds up on it ( what you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you). He’s not intimidated by their unbelief in the resurrection of the body, instead he focuses on the faith they have in Common,  (i.e. this belief that it is God who created the world). So  rather than seeing them as Pagans, he sees them as seekers of God’s divine presence, people groping in the darkness of the world to try to understand God. Furthermore, at least in this passage, this suggestion that there can only be one truth, and all who reject are condemned, is not present. It’s as if Paul understood this is not the time to simplify our complex faith to a mere act of judgement. And he does in verse 31 mention the judgement of the world, but this is not accusatory, but simply an invitation to contemplate the possibility of the existence of a God that interacts with us, not a God who is unknown and distant, but one who is close…in fact, he’s so close, he lies within all of us.

 This is a lot to process, and  I’m sure that the early Greek Converts were not convinced of the entire doctrine of the Church after one single speech. Jesus himself acknowledged that it was all too much.  This to me has been the most moving theme of the week: Christ carries the message to us, but he knows we can’t wrap our heads around it so quickly, and that in fact, we too would be groping around in the dark for a few centuries until we would fully comprehend the depth of the truth he was proposing to us.  THIS IS WHY the Spirit must be sent among us. Christ h as shown us the way, but the Spirit will be our Guide. And while our eyes are often set on the road ahead, the spirit will be there to remind us that the journey is also to that road within, the one that leads us to that seed that God planted so long ago in our hearts. 
Acts 17: 15, 22 - 34

15Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
22So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op'agus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
23For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, `To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man,
25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.
26And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation,
27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us,
28for `In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.'
29Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man.
30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent,
31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."
32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We will hear you again about this."
33So Paul went out from among them.
34But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionys'ius the Are-op'agite and a woman named Dam'aris and others with them
Psalms 148: 1 - 2, 11 - 14

1Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights!
2Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!
11Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
12Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
13Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
14He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!
John 16: 12 - 15

12"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

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