Tuesday, 30 April 2013

April 30th: A peace that's out of this World!

 Our holy Guy of the Day, A Pope! A special man, who would even put Pope Francis to shame with his deep sense of service to the poor!:

St. Pius V

Born  near Alexandria, Lombardy, in a poor though noble family his lot would have been to follow a trade, but he received a good education from the Domincans, and entered the order. Was ordained in 1528. He himself was an example to all. He fasted, did penance, passed long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, traveled on foot without a cloak in deep silence, or only speaking to his companions of the things of God. His zeal against heresy caused him to be selected as inquisitor of the faith in Milan and Lombardy. He became cardinal in  1557. Not unlike Catherine of Siena, he seemed to have been a politically savvy individual.  He defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On the death of Pope Pius IV, he was, despite his tears and entreaties, elected pope, to the great joy of the whole Church.

He began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor, instead of distributing his bounty at haphazard like his predecessors. As pontiff he practiced the virtues he had displayed as a monk and a bishop. His piety was not diminished, and, in spite of the heavy labors and anxieties of his office, he made at least two meditations a day on bended knees in presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In his charity he visited the hospitals, and sat by the bedside of the sick, consoling them and preparing them to die. He washed the feet of the poor, and embraced the lepers. He was very austere and banished luxury from his court, raised the standard of morality, labored with his intimate friend, St. Charles Borromeo, to reform the clergy, obliged his bishops to reside in their dioceses, and the cardinals to lead lives of simplicity and piety. There is much more that he accomplished in the world, as he was involved with many political battles against Protestants, and supported many military campaigns against the Turks. He died in January 1572.  He was beatified 100 years later by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.
Source: EWTN

 It's always a little challenging for me to read about popes like him who were involved with the inquisitions and with the political world of his time, excommunicating Queens and princes, throwing his political clout around.It's difficult to look upon such a Pope with admiration.  And yet, it's amazing how close he remained to his Dominican formation, how he remained a deeply simple and humble man. I thought Pope Francis was doing a lot, but it's peanuts compared to Pope Pius V who was rooted in humility, simplicity and poverty, perhaps even more so than Bergolio -Pope Francis- had been. What touches me about Pious's papacy is that, no matter how much work he had to do with reforming the Church and supporting military campaigns against the Invading Turks and dealing with the Protestant reformation, he still committed so much of his time to his meditations, and to remaining close to the poor.He's a role model to many of us who struggle with that balance. As for his involvement with the inquisition and in political matters, let History judge his actions. My work is to derive spiritual inspiration from the Saints, not to criticize their actions from a historical point of view. I leave that task to historians and other scholars to focus on that aspect of his legacy! I will always try to recognize the more problematic aspects of a Saint's life, but wont' make that the focus of my blog! 

Onto our readings:
  Picking up where we left off, which was a rather crazy scene in which the Apostles went from being persecuted, to being treated as Greek Gods. You'd think that was a good thing...but the Apostles clearly were horrified by this. And today...we're back to the persecution. Tough life these guys led, let me tell ya!
 Most Striking of all in the account is how, one moment, Paul is on the verge of death, and in the other, he's preaching to more people and infusing the people with God's deep love for them.Some scholars speak of a miraculous healing that allow Paul to continue his work...overall, we can only be amazed at his perseverance.  In a recent breaking open of the word/homily, I described Paul as the 'Chuck Norris of the Bible'! He never seems to be afraid to face death or the hate and judgement of others in order to bring Christ's message to every corner of the earth...
 This passage does reflect how much these early Christians travelled. Here's a visual to give you an idea exactly where they traveled to:

Map of Missionary Journeys of St. Paul.

source: http://biblescripture.net/Acts.html

They were men of the world, that went against the logic of their world in order to communicate the new radical love that God wanted them to have. This is why they faced persecution, and all of the disciples of Jesus in those days would face a bloody death at some point. But they believed so strongly in the message of Christ, that they could have no other alternative than to lead this life in order to follow him.

 What people who are in religious life  wrestle with is how to be in this world, while not being in it. We saw how Pope Pius V was able to balance being involved with politics and military  campaigns and his deep spiritual life. That balance is crucial, but can only happen when we understand that our priorities are not the same as those of the world. Many in our world today value security, comfort and wealth over the values of scripture. Those in religious life can't abide by these worldly values. Instead, as we see in today's gospel, we have a call to receive a peace that is not of this world. This peace that Jesus offers us, as Pope Francis mentioned in his homily this morning, does not save us from all the suffering and tribulations of the world, but it makes us stronger through them. It allows us to keep our mind focused on heavenly things, not just the problems we see aroud us . We do live in this world, and must keep our attention on it and must never do that mistake that many Christians do of hating it, or rejecting everything it has to offer.At the same time, we can not let our entire lives be shaped by it. Jesus offers us so much love, and so much hope which can give us courage and strength that will allow us to live as authentically as we can.  By accepting his peace, by allowing it to live in us, we are not rejecting the world, but simply, chose to live in the  love of God, and the peace of Christ, as opposed to the hate and turmoil that we see around us.

Acts 14: 19 - 28

19 But Jews came there from Antioch and Ico'nium; and having persuaded the people,
 they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city; and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico'nium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
24Then they passed through Pisid'ia, and came to Pamphyl'ia.
25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attali'a;
26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.
27 And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
28 And they remained no little time with the disciples. 

Psalms 145: 10 - 13, 21

10All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power,
12to make known to the sons of men thy mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of thy kingdom.
13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and eve

John 14: 27 - 31
27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
28You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.
30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.

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