Monday, December 17, 2007
The Righteous St Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary (Magdalene), lived in the village of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. During His earthly life the Lord Jesus Christ often visited the house of Lazarus, whom He much loved and called His friend (John 11:3,11), and when Lazarus had died and lain four days already in the grave, the Lord raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). (The Church remembers St Lazarus on the Saturday of the Sixth Week of Great Lent, "Lazarus Saturday.") Many of the Jews, when they heard about this, came to Bethany. Being persuaded of the reality of this most remarkable wonder, they became followers of Christ. Because of this the High Priests also wanted to kill Lazarus. Righteous Lazarus is mentioned in the Holy Gospel once more: when the Lord had come again to Bethany six days before the Passover, Lazarus was also there (John 12:1-2, 12:9-11). After his raising, St Lazarus lived another thirty years as a bishop on the island of Cyprus, where he spread Christianity and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. The holy relics of St Lazarus were discovered in Kiteia. They were within a marble coffin, upon which was inscribed: "Lazarus of the Four-Days, the friend of Christ." The Byzantine emperor Leo the Wise (886-911) gave orders to transfer the relics of St Lazarus to Constantinople in the year 898 and place them within the church of the Righteous Lazarus.
The story of Lazarus is a preview of Jesus' approaching death and resurrection. Lazarus stands for the fallen humanity about to be raised from the death of sin to life in God through Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. The illness which Jesus allows Lazarus to undergo is the symbol of our false self with all its weakness, ignorance, and pride, together with all the damage lying in the unconscious from earliest childhood to the present moment. To raise Lazarus from this illness to life in the Spirit is the most profound meaning of the event. Lazarus' resurrection manifests the full significance of Christ's resurrection, which restores sinful humanity, not only to the divine life, but to its super-abounding fullness.
Friday, December 14, 2007
When you sincerely desire inspiration to the fullest of your being, read John. Entreat him to guide you! He awaits your request. This particular doctor has a heavenly gift to bestow favors upon those who prayerfully petition him because he is so richly endowed.
Known before his religious life as Juan de Yepes, he is truly considered the mystical doctor not only by the Carmelite Order to which he wholeheartedly belonged but also for all posterity. His appeal and gifts are for the universal Church and for all creatures who seek union with God in prayer and action. God poured His Spirit in him quite abundantly. John is a master and a marvel beyond description when it comes to the imitation of Christ. He lived a thoroughly, holy, prayerful life and expressed it with generous, Christian words and actions.
God leads us, generally, through the visible rather than the invisible. No better guide than the mystical doctor will you ever find. However, this saint is so subtle and profound that he is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. St John will marvelously lead you, usually, through someone else. John relied on others and allowed himself to be recruited by Teresa of Avila in her reform of Carmel. She sensed in him a holiness and wisdom that would help her in the renewal of the Order of the Virgin, especially with the men. John was one of the original founders of the new order that God inspired St Teresa to initiate and played a vital role in many important offices that he held.
John was criticized, deprived, beaten, berated and even imprisoned by the very Religious Order he so earnestly hoped to help. He is perhaps the most misunderstood doctor of the Church precisely because he is the most mystical. The signs, signals and proof of God's overwhelming endorsement of St John of Cross to aid us are too many to conceive. John's union with God was total and thorough.
The providence of the Father allowed him to be kidnapped and kept locked up away from his monastery. He understood and accepted. Those parents with missing children, those who have love ones kidnapped or relatives who are separated have a commiserate friend they can identify and turn to with John of the Cross. He lived that desolation, isolation and separation. His intercessory powers are most extraordinary. John keenly sensed the separation of human and divine love. He was especially aware of the intimacy of Jesus. John was fully empowered with all the fruits, favors, beatitudes, blessings, graces and gifts to share with us.
St.John of the Cross lived a life of the most personal, intimate life of unity of God through his imitation of Jesus Christ.
From the Mass on his feast:
God our Father, you have shown us the mystery of the cross in the life of Saint John. May this sacrifice make us strong, keep us faithful to Christ and help us to work in the Church for the salvation of all humankind. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Her name means "light" and reminds us that all Christians are called to reflect the light of Christ to the world. It was natural that she therefore would become the patron saint of the eyes, the "light of the body." SInce her feast occurs during the days of preparation before Christmas, it has traditionally been the day in many countries, especially here in Sweden and Norway, where Christmas lights are illuminated for the first time in the season. Before the Gregorian reform of the calendar, her feastday on December 13 fell on the shortest day of the year. Therefore "Lucy candles" lighted in the homes and "Lucy fires" burned in the outdoors were a celebration that the tide of darkness and winter was turning with the return of the sun.
In the following reading St. Ambrose speaks not of physical light, but rather notes how Lucy and other holy virgins light up their grace of body with the radiance and splendor of their souls.
Saint Lucy was the child of wealthy parents. They lived in the town of Syracuse in Sicily, in the early fourth century, at the time of the persecutions of Diocletian. Her father died when she was still a baby, and she was raised by her mother Eutychia, a pious and devoted Christian.
When Lucy was still a young girl, she made a vow that she would remain unmarried, and would serve God all her life. She kept this vow a secret, so as not to draw any attention to herself.
When she was older, her mother, who did not know of her vow, promised a rich young man of Syracuse that Lucy would marry him. It was a common thing for parents to arrange their children's marriages, so the young man and Lucy's mother were quite sure that this would be acceptable to Lucy.
Lucy tried several times to persuade her mother that she did not want to marry anyone, and avoided meeting the young man as often as she could. Both her mother and the young man were angry with her, but she kept her secret and didn't tell them of her vow. She prayed, asking God for help.
Eutychia became ill with a constant hemorrhage, which made her very weak. Lucy reminded her mother of the story in the Gospels of the woman who was cured of a hemorrhage by touching Christ's cloak. She suggested that they make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Agatha to pray for healing.
While at the tomb, Eutychia was miraculously healed. Saint Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream and told her that she would be martyred for Christ's sake. Lucy told her mother of her vow and how she had prayed for some way to change her mother's mind. Grateful for healing, Eutychia allowed Lucy to follow her vow.
Angered by this change in plans, the rich young suitor denounced Lucy to the governor of the region as a Christian. When she was found guilty, a judge ordered that Lucy be sold into slavery. That, he thought, would change her mind about being a Christian.
Soldiers came to take her away, but no matter how hard they tried, Lucy stood as if rooted to the ground. The soldiers were frightened by this, a small young woman as un-moveable as a mountain. They poured oil on her head and set her on fire to try to make her move, but her body was not burned. They demanded why she was not harmed, and she replied that the power of the Lord Jesus Christ protected her. Finally, they stabbed her in the throat with a sword and she died.
Saint Lucy was welcomed into Heaven by Jesus, whom she had loved so much that she had died for Him. Since that time, many legends have grown up around her story. Some say that she was tortured and her eyes were put out before her death. For this reason, Saint Lucy is invoked as the patron of eye ailments. She is also the patron saint of Sweden, because her intercession saved the country from a famine.
In Sweden, on her feast day, the youngest girl of the household makes a procession around the house, with a head-dress of candles. She serves her family sweet buns and coffee.
Let us pray and think to one of the most gentles saints , let ask Saint Lucy intercession for us and for all we love :
Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercession of your servant, Saint Lucy, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that we may serve for your greater honor and glory. And we pray for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in heaven.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and answer our petitions. Amen.
Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.
By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use thme for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.
Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Francis Xavier was a sixteenth century man who had a promising career in academics. He was encouraged in the faith by his good friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and went to join the new community founded by Ignatius, the Society of Jesus, better known today as the Jesuits.
Francis had a passion for preaching the Gospel and living a life of Gospel simplicity. He would live with and among the poorest of the poor, sharing their living conditions, ministering to the sick, and preaching and teaching the faith. He lived in the East Indies for a time, before going on to minister to the Hindus, Malaysians, and Japanese. Francis even learned a bit of Japanese in order to communicate well with his people and to preach to them. He dreamed of going on to minister in China, but died before he could get there.
Francis Xavier truly took to heart the words of St. Paul who said he made himself all things to all people in order to save at least some. Francis made it his life’s work to live as his people lived, preaching to simple folk, and calling them to Jesus. He was also able to live freely Jesus’ Gospel call today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
Now we might not have the opportunity to live as Francis Xavier did and to actually go out to distant shores to preach the Gospel. But we certainly are still called to preach it with our lives. We are called to witness to Christ to everyone we meet: family, friends, coworkers, neighbors-anyone the Lord puts in our path. Our diocese chose Francis Xavier for our patron because our founders took seriously the call to proclaim the Gospel to every person in this diocese. We are called upon to do the same, according to our own life’s vocation and state of life. May all who hear our words and see our actions come to believe and be saved.
Let us pray Litany of Saint Francis Xavier
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, Pray for us.
Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, Pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, the glory and second pillar of that holy Institute, Pray for us.
Apostle of the Indies and Japan, Pray for us.
Legate of the Holy Apostolic See, Pray for us.
Preacher of the truth, and doctor of the nations, Pray for us.
Vessel of election, to carry the Name of Jesus Christ to the kings of the earth, Pray for us.
Shining light to those who sat in the shadow of death, Pray for us.
Full of a burning zeal for the glory of God, Pray for us.
Unwearied propagator of the Christian Faith, Pray for us.
Most watchful shepherd of souls, Pray for us.
Most constant mediator on divine things, Pray for us.
Most faithful follower of Jesus Christ,
Most ardent lover of evangelical poverty, Pray for us.
Most perfect observer of religious obedience, Pray for us.
Who didst burn with the fire of Divine Love, Pray for us.
Who didst generously despise all earthly things, Pray for us.
Most able guide in the way of perfection, Pray for us.
Model of apostolic men, Pray for us.
Model of all virtues, Pray for us.
Light of infidels, and master of the faithful, Pray for us.
Angel in life and manners, Pray for us.
Patriarch in affection and care of God's people, Pray for us.
Prophet mighty in word and works, Pray for us.
Whom all nations and the Church have with one voice associated with the glorious choir of Apostles, Pray for us.
Who wast adorned with the crown of virgins, Pray for us.
Who didst aspire to the palm of martyrs, Pray for us.
Confessor in virtue and profession of life, Pray for us.
In whom we reverence, through the Divine Goodness, the merits of all Saints, Pray for us.
Whom the winds and the sea obeyed, Pray for us.
Who didst take by assault the cities that had revolted from Jesus Christ, Pray for us.
Who wast the terror of the armies of infidels, Pray for us.
Scourge of demons, and destroyer of idols, Pray for us.
Powerful defense against shipwreck, Pray for us.
Father of the poor, and refuge of the miserable,Pray for us.
Sight to the blind, and strength to the lame, Pray for us.
Protector in time of war, famine, and plague, Pray for us.
Wonderful worker of miracles, Pray for us.
Who wast endued with the gift of tongues, Pray for us.
Who wast endued with the wondrous power of raising the dead, Pray for us.
Resounding trumpet of the Holy Ghost, Pray for us.
Light and glory of the East, Pray for us.
Through the Cross, which thou didst so often raise among the Gentiles, Pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the Faith, which thou didst so marvelously propagate, We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy miracles and prophecies, We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the perils and shipwrecks which thou didst endure, We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy pains and labors, in the midst of which thou didst so ardently exclaim: Still more! still mo !, We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy heavenly raptures, in the midst of which thou didst so fervently exclaim: Enough, Lord, enough! We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the glory and happiness which now thou dost enjoy in heaven, We beseech thee, hear us.
Friend of the heavenly Bridegroom: Intercede for us.
Blessed Francis Xavier, beloved of God and men: Intercede for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, Saint Francis Xavier:
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: O God, Who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis, wast pleased to add to Thy Church the nations of the Indies: grant mercifully, that we who venerate his glorious merits may imitate his virtues. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.
~~ from "Kyrie Eleison — Two Hundred Litanies" by Benjamin Francis Musser O.F.M.,
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