I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family. A gentleman came to our house and said, “Mother Teresa, there is a family who has not eaten for so long. Do something.” So, I took some rice and went there immediately. When I saw the children, their eyes were shining with hunger. I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger, but I have seen it very often. The mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her, “Where did you go; what did you do?” She gave me a very simple answer: “They [a neighbor family] are hungry also.” What struck me most was that they were a Muslim family. And she knew. I did not bring any more rice that evening, because I wanted them – Hindus and Muslims – to enjoy the joy of sharing. Those children were radiating joy – sharing their joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. You see this is where love begins – at home in the family.” [Excerpt from “A Call to Mercy” by Mother Teresa]
This happened at a time when religious violence was prevalent in India, and thousands of people died in the riots between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The unselfishly generous gift this poor woman unhesitatingly gave to her hungry neighbors, who happened to be a Muslim family, deeply touched Mother Teresa. She often looked to the poor; for their love was simple and their hearts were full of joy. Mother Teresa invites us to learn from the poor and receive their joy by sharing our blessings generously. “Not all of us are called to do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa.
How do you put years of discernment on a single piece of paper or within a single write-up? As I was praying about it, the reality of its simplicity struck me: God called and I said, “No,” until Mary softened my heart. Well, actually it was more like, God called and I said, “No.” God called again and I said, firmly, “NO!” God asked yet again and I said, “No! Marriage, Lord, marriage.” God drew me to Himself, got His mom involved and asked me once more and I said, “Well … maybe.” God, in His infinite patience, asked a final time and I answered with a resounding, “Yes!”
The first time I heard God call me was in the fifth grade. Our English class was learning how to write business letters. For our assignment we were supposed to write a formal letter to any company in which we could see ourselves working “when we grew up.” I thought for a while on it and realized that the only thing that sounded interesting and exciting to me was being a religious sister. So I wrote to a missionary sister who graciously responded to me. As part of the assignment, we were to share any responses we received with the entire class. I remember feeling embarrassed as I read her response out loud. That was enough to snuff out the desire to be a sister.
Throughout grade school the idea of being a sister was always in the back of my mind. I still heard God’s gentle voice calling me. But at that age, I did not want to confront it and so I dealt with it by saying flat out, “No.” Then, as a freshman in high school, my mom, sister and I took a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Now Jesus was pulling out the big guns and getting His Mom to help Him in His “little scheme.” He knew I had a soft spot for her and He played that card well. While in Medjugorje I felt, through Mary, the tug of the Lord growing stronger, asking me to devote my life to Him. My response was, “Sounds great, Lord, but I can devote my life to You without wearing a habit.” But Momma Mary softened my heart and helped me to be open to the idea of a marriage to Her Son. I went on through my high school years with this idea very much in the forefront of my mind.
Being the stubborn person that I am, I told God that I was not going to commit until I tasted the dating life even though I knew in my heart of hearts that it would not bring me the fulfillment or satisfaction I desired and that it would not make me truly happy. Humoring me, God sent a very holy young man into my life. Through a youth group program I met my first real boyfriend, Anthony. He was everything I wanted in a husband (God covered His bases, making sure I would have no doubts): he was a gentleman, generous, self-sacrificing, not passive, considerate, mature, respectful to me, always upholding my dignity, funny, desired to be a saint, and challenged me to be holier. As a cherry on top, he was cute as well. While we dated I felt a separation between my heart and my body. It did not feel right. Something was off. It was like my mind and my heart hit a fork in the road and went in opposite ways: my heart was going toward religious life and my mind toward marriage. In my stubbornness I was attempting to lasso my heart and pull it over to the side my mind was on. I took it to prayer and (rather stupidly, since I knew the answer) asked God what was going on. He made it very clear to me (He is so patient with us) that in order to feel whole and in order to be at peace I was to give my entire life to Him, to be a bride of Christ. With that imagery, to be Jesus’ bride, I said, without a doubt and with such joy, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Now I will not say that I did not have any doubts later or any struggles along the road. Heavens…no! How could there not be when society sees you as a strange person because you are not following the norm and getting married? I still struggled with the desire to date. I found it hard to be wooed by Someone who is not tangible in the form you want Him to be or present to you physically in body. I struggled with telling people and admitting out loud that I wanted to dedicate my life to Jesus by being a Sister. But God remained faithful to me and He kept renewing His proposal to me in various ways. He knew my heart and wooed me in ways no earthly man could. I had so much love and support from family and friends which encouraged me, kept me focused and strengthened me in times of temptation, By the grace of God I had the perseverance and commitment to remain faithful to my call throughout grade school and high school. Now, twelve years after that initial call in the fifth grade, I have joined this religious community where Jesus is continuing to woo me and pursue my heart in ways I never thought possible. In turn, I am growing so much more in love with Him!
Sister Elizabeth Beussink T.O.R. is the vocations coordinator of the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts in Catechetics and Theology from Franciscan University of Stubenville.
St Basil the Great
St. Basil, one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church and Bishop of Caesarea, was likely born in 329 and died on January 1, 379.
He ranks after Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century, especially Arianism, which denied the divine nature of Jesus Christ. He was a strong supporter of the Nicene Creed. With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he is part of the trio known as “The Three Cappadocians,” of which he was the most important in practical genius and theological writings.
Basil resisted the pressure from Emperor Valens, an Arian himself, who wanted to keep him in silence and admit the heretics to communion. No wonder, when the great St. Athanasius died, the responsibility of being the defender of the faith against Aryanism fell upon Basil.
Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described him as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.”
As a young boy growing up in Northern Spain, Francis Xavier dreamed of doing great things. At age 19 and full of ambition, he went to study in Paris where he met Ignatius of Loyola. A Scripture text Ignatius was fond of quoting had a deep impact on Francis: “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Francis took that Scripture to heart and came to understand the emptiness of earthly greatness while becoming powerfully drawn to the love of heavenly things. The humility of the Cross appeared to him more desirable than all the glories of this world. Eventually, he took vows as one of the first seven members of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, founded by Ignatius of Loyola. When one of the two Jesuits chosen to travel to Asia as a missionary became ill, Father Francis joyfully offered to substitute.
Francis pursued his missionary work with great zeal. During one of his voyages, a terrible tempest so terrified the sailors that they gave themselves up for lost. But Francis immediately drew a crucifix from his breast and leaned over the side of the vessel to touch the waves with it. But the crucifix slipped from his hand into the raging sea. Immediately, the storm ceased, but Francis was much distressed that he had lost the only crucifix he had.
The next day after landing on the coast of Malacca, Father Francis was walking along the shore when he saw a crab come out of the sea holding the crucifix between its claws. The crab walked straight to Father Francis and stopped at his feet. Francis kissed the cross and clasped it to his breast. He then bent down to bless the crab and, to his amazement, noticed a cross on the back of the crab’s shell. This miracle story was depicted on a banner that hung from St. Peter’s Basilica during Francis Xavier’s canonization ceremony. Even today, every Malacca crab bears the marking of the cross on its shell, a sign, perhaps, of God’s paternal love for Saint Francis Xavier, the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles.
During the 14th century Siena’s magistrates had sentenced two hardened criminals to a brutal public death. They were driven about town in a cart while executioners tore at their bodies with red-hot pincers. The condemned men showed no trace of remorse for their crimes and spat curses and blasphemies at the people who lined the streets. They had refused to speak with the priests who had offered to prepare them for death. Catherine of Siena happened to be visiting a friend who lived on one of the roads the cart had to travel. While she stood at the window observing the terrible scene, Catherine was moved by compassion. In her mind’s eye, she saw a mob of demons waiting to punish the condemned men even more sadistically in hell.
Catherine of Siena happened to be visiting a friend who lived on one of the roads the cart had to travel. While she stood at the window observing the terrible scene, Catherine was moved by compassion. In her mind’s eye, she saw a mob of demons waiting to punish the condemned men even more sadistically in hell.
Immediately, she began to pray for the two unfortunates. “My most merciful Lord,” she said with her characteristic frankness, “why do you show such contempt for your own creatures? Why are you letting them suffer such torture now? And even more vicious torture by these hellish spirits?” Catherine never beat around the bush, even in conversations with God.
To the amazement of all, both criminals suddenly stopped shouting curses and cried out for a priest. They wept and confessed their sins to him. The crucified Christ, they claimed, had appeared to them urging repentance and offering forgiveness. They told the crowd that they expected to be with Christ in Heaven, and then they submitted peacefully to their execution. This miraculous turn of events mystified the whole town, but Catherine’s close friends knew that she had intervened in some way. For many days after the dramatic conversions, Saint Catherine of Siena was heard to say, “Thank you, Lord, for saving them from a second prison.”
God’s merciful loves waits for us to turn back to Him. No matter how grave our sins, He longs to embrace us and draw us into His everlasting peace. Would you say ‘yes’ to His call today by making a good confession with a truly repentant heart? Surely, the Kingdom of God belongs to you.
Miracle on 34th Street is a 1994 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film written and produced by John Hughes, and directed by Les Mayfield. The film stars Richard Attenborough, Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, and Dylan McDermott, and is the first theatrical remake of the original 1947 film. Like the original, this film was released by 20th Century Fox.
Cole’s Department Store’s special events director Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) fires Tony Falacchi (Jack McGee) from being the Cole’s Department Store’s Santa Claus after he gets drunk before taking part in the Thanksgiving parade. Immediately trying to find a replacement, she spots an elderly man (Richard Attenborough) who was berating the inebriated Santa before the parade. When Dorey begs him to take over, he introduces himself as Kris Kringle. Kris does so well during the parade that he is immediately hired to be Cole’s main Santa for the holiday period.
All the children in New York begin to believe that he is the real Santa, with the exception of Dorey’s six-year-old daughter Susan (Mara Wilson). Dorey’s boyfriend, attorney Bryan Bedford (Dylan McDermott), does his best to convince Susan to believe. While being babysat one night by Kris, Susan shares with him her Christmas wish, she would like a dad, a house used every year for the Cole’s catalogue photoshoot and a baby brother. Kris asks if she would begin to believe in Santa if she got all those things. Susan agrees that she would.
Kris is credited with bringing in increasingly more sales to Cole’s than previous years. One night, he is arrested for assaulting a man on the street, later revealed to be the original drunk Santa, Tony Falacchi. Falacchi had taken revenge by means of setting up Kris to be arrested, with the help of members of staff from a rival department store of Cole’s, Shopper’s Express. With the help of Bryan, Dorey takes Kris’s case to court, and drums up support for him from the public. It soon becomes clear that to get Kris acquitted and freed, Bryan must somehow prove that not only does Santa exist, but that Kris is the real one. It is a seemingly impossible task until Bryan comes up with a plan that requires some help from Susan.
Just as the judge (Robert Prosky) is about to make his decision – and it seems he was going to rule against Kris – Susan walks up to the judge with a Christmas card containing a one dollar bill. On the back, the words In God We Trust are circled. The judge realizes that, since the US Department of Treasury can put its official faith in God on US currency with no hard evidence, then the people of New York can believe in Santa Claus in the same way. Left with no choice, the elated judge dismisses the case and declares that Santa is real, existing in the person of Kris Kringle.
Kibeho is a small site located in the southern part of Rwanda, in the administrative district of Nyaruguru. It is 36 km from the Bishop of Gikongoro’s residence and 30 km from the Bishop of Butare’s residence. Kibeho is also the name given to one of the parishes of the diocese of Gikongoro, founded in 1934 and dedicated to Mary, Mother of God.
Today, Kibeho is best known as a place of apparitions and pilgrimages. The first apparition of Mary was on November 28, 1981, when Alphonsine Mumureke, a young student of the Kibeho High School, saw a lady of incomparable beauty who presented herself under the name of “Nyina Wa Jambo,” which means “Mother of the Word.” Alphonsine immediately recognized her as the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Our Savior Jesus. The phenomenon occurred subsequently and several times in succession, at long or short intervals. The Virgin asked everybody to convert, to keep faith and to pray without hypocrisy.
Alphonsine was born on March 21, 1965, in Cyizihira, in the parish of Zaza, Diocese of Kibungo. Her parents were Thaddée Gakwaya and Mary Immaculate Mukagasana. She was baptized when she was 12 years old, on July 27 1977. At the time of the apparitions, she had just been admitted to the Kibeho High School in October, 1981, immediately after her primary studies. The Kibeho High School, founded in 1967 by a parish priest, Father Grégoire Kamugisha, has changed its name several times in order to conform to the programs of the National Education Ministry. When Alphonsine was admitted in 1981, it was called Kibeho High school; and later, since 1984, “Ecole des Lettres de Kibeho” (Kibeho School of the Letters), and nowadays, since 1998, “Groupe Scolaire Mère du Verbe” (Mother of the Word High school).
The first reactions caused by these unusual events within the community of the Kibeho High School as well as outside of the high school were not temperate. There were a lot of points of view that ranged from skepticism that feared trickery to unswaying belief and intolerance of any skepticism. At the beginning, Alphonsine was viewed as a mad girl, or an unhappy girl possessed by evil; or, according to some, as a mediocre student wanting to play a prank to make her more accepted in the school conducted by the Congregation of Benebikira Sisters (i.e., Daughters of the Virgin Mary).
Many people begged for signs of credibility. At the time of the ecstasies, students and teachers were free to apply tests on the body of Alphonsine in order to check and to verify her sincerity. It was even suggested that if it was really the Blessed Virgin Mary who had visited the school, they would take it seriously, if she at least appeared to other students instead of just that poor Alphonsine from Gisaka, a region which had a reputation for the practice of magic. Alphonsine asked the Virgin to respond to the challenge by appearing to others and exhorted her schoolmates also to ask her for themselves to receive necessary enlightenment.
A short time later, two new alleged seers appeared in the high school, one after the other, and in close proximity to Alphonsine: notably Nathalie Mukamazimpaka on January 12, 1982, and Marie Claire Mukangango on March 2, 1982.
Nathalie Mukamazimpaka was born in 1964 in Munini in the present district of Nyaruguru, parish of Muganza, Diocese of Gikongoro. Her father was Laurent Ngango and her mother, Gaudence Mukabaziga. She was baptized on February 2, 1968, when she was 4 years old. During the time of the apparitions, she was registered in the Kibeho High school in the 4th class of the Teaching school. As a seer of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Nathalie is especially known for the message of redemptive suffering and unceasing prayer for a world that is very bad and at risk of falling into an abyss.
Since March 2, 1982, Marie Claire Mukangango, schoolmate of Nathalie, declared herself as a seer of the Virgin Mary. Her case was like a bomb exploding inside the high school community, because until then Marie Claire was characterized by her fierce opposition to the “so-called” apparitions claimed by Alphonsine.
Marie Claire was born in 1961 in Rusekera, in the present district of Nyamagabe, parish of Mushubi, diocese of Gikongoro. Her father was Baseka and her mother Véronique Nyiratuza. She was baptized when she was 5 years old, on August 12, 1966. During the apparitions, she studied at the Kibeho High school, in 4th class of the Teaching school. As a seer, she is especially known for the message of the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, associated with an urgent call to repentance: “Repent, repent, repent!” the Virgin said to the world through the lips by Marie Claire.
If, for some, the increased number of the seers complicated the disconcerting situation created by Alphonsine, for others, the two new cases, especially the one of Marie Claire, were interpreted as a good sign coming from heaven to show that the prayer of Alphonsine had been accepted and to sustain the faith of all those that were still hesitating to take her apparitions seriously. Different witnesses interrogated in the Kibeho High School in 1982, declared that they began to believe in the apparitions after the extraordinary experience of Marie Claire. In short, the public opinion tried to find a natural explanation for the phenomenon, but without success, considering a great number of astonishing facts that were confirmed as the days passed that defied simple human understanding.
In spite of the critics and objections of all sorts against the apparitions, a movement of belief began to develop quickly enough inside and outside of Kibeho High School. Before the Christmas holidays of 1981, a group of “converted” students and teachers appeared at a regular prayer meeting with Alphonsine, where they recited the rosary accompanied by hymns in the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
But, after May 1982, the phenomenon of the apparitions took on a new dimension when is was spreading like a brush fire outside the Kibeho High school to reach the primary school and the surrounding hills, and even the more remote locations.
Another fact to be emphasized is that on the days of public apparitions, the seers experienced practically no ecstasies. The seers experienced the apparitions individually, one at a time, while the others seers were watching along with everyone else in the crowd. These apparitions varied in duration, depending on the occurrence, and they were usually marked by heavy falls at the end of the apparition.
The apparitions were also characterized by an abundance of words, the length of the ecstasies, songs, prayers of intercession, blessings (especially by means of water), repeated falls during the same apparition on certain days (from August 15, 1982 until the end of Lent in 1983), and other mortifications. Lent of 1983 was in particular characterized by extraordinary fasting that was closely monitored by a team of physicians from the National University of Rwanda.
Alphonsine Mumureke is said to have taken, on March 20, 1982, a “mystical journey” of several hours with the Virgin in another “world” throughout “places” that she describes in symbolic language that makes one think of realities such as Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but with a vocabulary very different from the one of the Catechism. Nathalie Mukamazimpaka had a similar experience on October 30, 1982, which was closely observed by a team from the Bishop’s theological commission.
The apparitions of Kibeho had very early on attracted crowds of people. On certain days, like May 30, 1982 for example, the crowd could be estimated at more than 10,000 people of all ages and all social classes.
The apparitions of Kibeho officially ended on November 28, 1989, a date on which Alphonsine, who was at the beginning of these events, experienced the Virgin’s last apparition in public. She specified that she would not have any more apparitions publicly. This meaningful fact, which was introduced 8 years after the Virgin’s first apparition at Kibeho, is recognized as an important historical reference for anybody who would like to know what happened and form a judgment on it.
Julia Child, Julia Carolyn McWilliams, was born in August 15, 1912, Pasadena, California, U.S. and died August 13, 2004, Santa Barbara, American cooking expert, author, and television personality noted for her promotion of traditional French cuisine, especially through her programs on public TV.
Julia Child revolutionized American cuisine through her French cooking school, award-winning cookbooks, and world-renowned television programs by presenting an approachable version of sophisticated French cooking to her eager audience for four decades.
She began with a sincere passion for good food and the pleasures of cooking, studying in France in the ’50s with chef-friend Simone Beck. With the help of Louisette Bertolle, another dedicated food lover, they created a cooking school called and later, in 1961, completed their ground breaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Numerous television series followed, including Julia Child and Company, Dinner at Julia’s, Baking with Julia, and In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs. She produced a book under the name of each of her shows and also wrote The Way to Cook (1989) and Cooking with Master Chefs (1993). Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home (1999) was cowritten with chef Jacques Pépin, a friend with whom she also collaborated on television shows. Her autobiography, My Life in France (cowritten with a grandnephew, Alex Prud’homme), was published in 2006. In 2009 Nora Ephron used that volume as half of the story she told in the film Julie & Julia, featuring Meryl Streep as the popular chef.
Her book and the popular television show that followed made the mysteries of fancy French cuisine approachable, introducing gourmet ingredients, demonstrating culinary techniques, and most importantly, encouraging everyday “home chefs” to practice cooking as art, not to dread it as a chore.
A 1962 appearance on a book review show on what was then the National Educational Television (NET) station of Boston, WGBH-TV (now a major Public Broadcasting Service station), led to the inception of her first television cooking show after viewers enjoyed her demonstration of how to cook an omelette. The French Chef had its debut on February 11, 1963, on WGBH and was immediately successful. The show ran nationally for ten years and won Peabody and Emmy Awards, including the first Emmy award for an educational program. Though she was not the first television cook, Child was the most widely seen. She attracted the broadest audience with her cheery enthusiasm, distinctively warbly voice, and unpatronizing, unaffected manner.
In 1972, The French Chef became the first television program to be captioned for the deaf, even though this was done using the preliminary technology of open-captioning. Child’s second book, The French Chef Cookbook, was a collection of the recipes she had demonstrated on the show. It was soon followed in 1971 by Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, again in collaboration with Simone Beck, but not with Louisette Bertholle, with whom the professional relationship had ended. Child’s fourth book, From Julia Child’s Kitchen, was illustrated with her husband’s photographs and documented the colour series of The French Chef, as well as provided an extensive library of kitchen notes compiled by Child during the course of the show.
In the 1970s and 1980s, she was the star of numerous television programs, including Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company and Dinner at Julia’s. For the 1979 book Julia Child and More Company, she won a National Book Award in category Current Interest. In 1981, she founded the American Institute of Wine & Food, with vintners Robert Mondavi and Richard Graff, and others, to “advance the understanding, appreciation and quality of wine and food,” a pursuit she had already begun with her books and television appearances. In 1989, she published what she considered her magnum opus, a book and instructional video series collectively entitled The Way To Cook.
In the mid 90s, as part of her work with the American Institute of Wine and Food, Julia Child became increasingly concerned about children’s food education. This resulted in the initiative known as Days of Taste.
Child starred in four more series in the 1990s that featured guest chefs: Cooking with Master Chefs, In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, Baking with Julia, and Julia Child & Jacques Pépin Cooking at Home. She collaborated with Jacques Pépin many times for television programs and cookbooks. All of Child’s books during this time stemmed from the television series of the same names.
Child’s use of ingredients like butter and cream has been questioned by food critics and modern-day nutritionists. She addressed these criticisms throughout her career, predicting that a “fanatical fear of food” would take over the country’s dining habits, and that focusing too much on nutrition takes the pleasure from enjoying food. In a 1990 interview, Child said, “Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don’t suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.”
Julia Child’s kitchen, designed by her husband, was the setting for three of her television shows. It is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Beginning with In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, the Childs’ home kitchen in Cambridge was fully transformed into a functional set, with TV-quality lighting, three cameras positioned to catch all angles in the room, and a massive center island with a gas stove top on one side and an electric stovetop on the other, but leaving the rest of the Child’s appliances alone, including “my wall oven with its squeaking door.” This kitchen backdrop hosted nearly all of Child’s 1990’s television series.
Created by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts in 2015, the Julia Child Award is given to an individual (or team) who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks.
The Foundation presents the annual award in association with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History at a gala event held in Washington, D.C. in the fall. The gala is a celebration of the recipient’s accomplishments and helps raise money to support food history programming at the Museum. It features prominent speakers from throughout the national food world, and kicks off the Museum’s annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend.
Servant of God Brother Juniper
“Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers,” said Francis of Assisi about Juniper who was born at Bevagna, Italy, in 1190 AD. We don’t know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish “places” for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When Saint Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity. Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars! Brother Juniper died on 29 January 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.
“in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay…” Hebrews 10:37
The text message read, “Call. Bad news.” She was not one to ask for help. Something had to be terribly wrong. And it was. She was far from her home and a thousand miles from mine. Hospitalized during the pandemic, she was struggling alone with a grave prognosis. Our calls were agonizingly brief and incomplete because it was hard for her to speak. I could hear suffering in her voice, but oh, how she tried to disguise it. There were many questions I couldn’t ask. And there was nothing more her doctors could do. I prayed for God to hear my jumbled prayers, to come to her aid. Within days of going home, the Lord set her free. That early morning, the mountains she loved so much came alive with the colors of dawn. All she ever wanted was to go home.
Saints Timothy and Titus
Died circa 95 AD, what we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried bishop. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it. Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus. Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1Timothy 5:23). Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
“Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:32-35
That Jesus hears that his mother is outside asking to speak to him and responds this way shocks me. I imagine: How that must have hurt her! Yet I need to stop hearing this as a rejection and open myself to the incredible inclusion. We—all of us—are loved as family by God and take our place in that family circle by doing God’s will, responding to that Love with love…for each other, for ourselves, for God. Mary, more than anyone who ever lived, “did the will of God.” Dear Mother Mary, help us understand that we are right with you at that family table when we love. Help us see special ways to love today.
The great apostle was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. He surpassed all his peers in zeal for the Jewish law and their traditions, which he thought to be the cause of God, became one of the most fierce enemies and persecutors of Christians. He was one of the conspirators in the martyrdom of St. Stephan.
After the martyrdom of the holy deacon, the priests and magistrates of the Jews raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, in which Saul placed himself above the others.
In the fury of his zeal, he appealed to the high priest and Sanhedrim for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as public examples to incite terror into others.
But God was pleased to show forth in Saul his patience and mercy: Saul was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus, when, around noon, he and his company were surrounded by a great light from heaven and, fell to the ground. Then Saul heard a voice, which to him was articulate and distinct, but not understood by the rest :”Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? Christ said not: Why dost thou persecute my disciples, but me: for it is he, their head, who is chiefly persecuted in his servants.” Saul answered: “Who art thou, Lord?” Christ said: “Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecute. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad: – to contend with one so much mightier than thyself.”
There was a Christian of distinction in Damascus, Ananius, greatly respected by the Jews for his irreproachable life and great virtue. Christ appeared to this holy disciple, and commanded him to go to Saul, who was at that moment in the house of Judas at prayer. Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being familiar with the misdeeds he had done in Jerusalem and the errand for which he set out to Damascus. But our Redeemer overruled his fears, and charged him a second time to go, saying: “Go, for he is a vessel of election to carry my name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: and I will show him how much he has to suffer for my name. For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ.”
Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.
St. Paul never recalled his wonderful conversion, from which have poured forth may blessings, without raptures of gratitude and praise to the Divine and His mercy. The Church, in thanksgiving to God for such a miracle of his grace, to commemorate so miraculous an instance of his almighty power and to propose to penitents a perfect model of a true conversion, has instituted this feast, which we find mentioned in several calendars and missals of the eighth and ninth centuries, and which Pope Innocent III commanded to be observed with great solemnity.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Mark 16:15
If anyone went out into the “whole world,” it was St. Paul. Today we celebrate the conversion of the apostle Paul, probably the Church’s most ardent evangelist. He came to this vocation from an unlikely place. Known earlier as Saul of Tarsus, Paul was an aggressive persecutor of the fledging Christian movement. After a divine encounter on the road to Damascus, he made an amazing transformation to become one of the most articulate leaders of the early Church. The spectacular growth of Christianity among the Gentiles of that time was due in large part to Paul’s efforts. Despite considerable obstacles, his travels, writings and tireless work spread the faith. From terrible sinner to saint, from persecutor to persuasive preacher, Paul gives us all hope: no matter what kind of life we have lived, we can change. Indeed, we can be welcomed back into the fold.