Saturday, 13 July 2013

In my last entry, I spoke of Sain. Benedict. Today, a Benedictine saint...

St. John Gualbert
BENEDICTINE ABBOT
Feast: July 12

 Please don't ask me about
the two headed Snake
like creature...I have no
clue...

Information:
Feast Day:July 12
Born:985 at Florence, Italy
Died:July 11, 1073 at Passignano near Florence, Italy
Canonized:1193 by Pope Celestine III
Patron of:forest workers; foresters; park rangers; parks

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)

Readings:
 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

1So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here am I."
3Then 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.
4I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes."
5Then 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.
6They 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,
7his sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.
28He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to appear before him in Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
29Then 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.
30Israel said to Joseph, "Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive."
Psalms 37: 3 - 4, 18 - 19, 27 - 28, 39 - 40

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
4Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
18The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide for ever;
19they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance.
27Depart from evil, and do good; so shall you abide for ever.
28For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. The righteous shall be preserved for ever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
39The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him
Matthew 10: 16 - 23

16"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
17Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues,
18and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles.
19When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour;
20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death;
22and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes

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