In my last entry, I spoke of Sain. Benedict. Today, a Benedictine saint...
St. John Gualbert
St. John Gualbert
Feast: July 12
Please don't ask me about
the two headed Snake
like creature...I have no
ST. JOHN GUALBERT was born at Florence, A. D. 999. Following the profession of arms at that troubled period, he became involved in a blood-feud with a near relative. One Good Friday, as he was riding into Florence accompanied by armed men, he encountered his enemy (who had murdered his brother)in a place where neither could avoid the other. John would have slain him; but his adversary, who was totally unprepared to fight, fell upon his knees with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross, and implored him, for the sake of Our Lord's holy Passion, to spare his life. St. John said to his enemy, "I cannot refuse what you ask in Christ's name. I grant you your life, and I give you my friendship. Pray that God may forgive me my sin." Grace triumphed. A humble and changed man, he entered the Church of St. Miniato, which was near; as he was praying ,the figure of our crucified Lord, before which he was kneeling, bowed its head toward him as if to ratify his pardon. Abandoning the world, he gave himself up to prayer and penance in the Benedictine Order. Later he was led to found the congregation called of Vallombrosa, from the shady valley a few miles from Florence, where he established his first monastery. Once the enemies of the Saint came to his convent of St. Salvi, plundered it, and set fire to it, and having treated the monks with ignominy, beat them and wounded them. St. John rejoiced. "Now," he said, "you are true monks. Would that I myself had had the honor of being with you when the soldiers came, that I might have had a share in the glory of your crowns! " "At this period simony (paying to receive a sacrament, especially that of Holy ordination, allowing one to enter the hierarchy of the Church. read more about it here)and clerical immorality were rife in Italy. By his firmness and preaching St. John Gualbert successfully opposed these grave disorders. He died in 1073, having paved the way for the Gregorian reform.
( Partly Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler)
In my last entry, I spoke of our faithfulness towards God as expressed by the lives of Joseph (son of Israel, not Father of Jesus), and St Benedict. For Friday's readings, in this entry, (sorry for the confusion... and get used to it! It will happen a lot. I may skip Saturday readings too..unless there's a major event!) we come to a formal close of the story of Israel and his sons with a dramatic account of the reunion of Joseph and Jacob/Israel. The theme in Friday's becomes, not our faithfulness, but God's faithfulness. It's not an easy theme for us today. We see how God remains faithful to the tribes of Israel despite the numerous times in which they strayed from the path he set for them. We see how God shows his devotion to the people by coming to their aid time and time again.
Some may wonder today, how does God express his faithfulness to us, with all the wars, poverty, starvation, and other social problems that we face? A friend of mine once expressed his frustration around this by saying that it seems the God of the old Testament was constantly expressing his power -and he imitated somebody lifting heave weights to emphasize this- but that he doesn't do so much these days. And it's a common sentiment to express. I guess for me, the faithfulness lies not supernatural acts, but in the small things that Therese de Lisieux speaks of. I believe it's in the quiet graces that fill our lives where we find God at his most vibrant. And despite what the world tells us, I still believe that God will not abandon those who do justice -as the Psalm tells us-. As I've said once or twice before on this blog, I believe this is the reason why the poorest of the poor have deep faith. In their poverty, they encounter God, which means they encounter protection, and a sense of joy at the smaller things that they receive in life. It's hard to teach someone from a wealthier country to be grateful for the smaller things when all we ever talk about is the bigger things.
Even Jesus recognized that having faith in God does not mean 'you will never suffer'. Not only does he tell his disciples that they will know persecution and oppression, he teaches them they'll find joy in that (this should make St John Gualbert's response to his monks being attacked make more sense to you!). The joy is to suffer for one's conviction. To have to fight for them with all our lives. But of course, faith in Jesus is more than a conviction. It's a life altering experience that focuses our heart on hope, and really, no amount of suffering should ever cause one to lose any hope.
All of this to say that Faith leads to hope, which leads to incredible love, which transform everything about our lives. Maybe that's the main reason why I have my faith these days!!
Blessings on you all!!!
|Genesis 46: 1 - 7, 28 - 30|
|1||So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.|
|2||And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here am I."|
|3||Then he said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation.|
|4||I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes."|
|5||Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.|
|6||They also took their cattle and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him,|
|7||his sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.|
|28||He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to appear before him in Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.|
|29||Then Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.|
|30||Israel said to Joseph, "Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive."|