SAINT OF THE DAY – AUGUST 24

SAINT OF THE DAY – AUGUST 24

Saint Bartholomew

In the New Testament, Bartholomew is mentioned only in the lists of the apostles. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip. Jesus paid him a great compliment: “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47). When Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48b). Whatever amazing revelation this involved, it brought Nathanael to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49). But Jesus countered with, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this” (John 1:50).

Nathanael did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (see John 21:1-14). They had been fishing all night without success. In the morning, they saw someone standing on the shore though no one knew it was Jesus. He told them to cast their net again, and they made so great a catch that they could not haul the net in. Then John cried out to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When they brought the boat to shore, they found a fire burning, with some fish laid on it and some bread. Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and invited them to come and eat their meal. John relates that although they knew it was Jesus, none of the apostles presumed to inquire who he was. This, John notes, was the third time Jesus appeared to the apostles.


Reflection

Bartholomew or Nathanael? We are confronted again with the fact that we know almost nothing about most of the apostles. Yet the unknown ones were also foundation stones, the 12 pillars of the new Israel whose 12 tribes now encompass the whole earth. Their personalities were secondary—without thereby being demeaned—to their great office of bearing tradition from their first hand experience, speaking in the name of Jesus, putting the Word Made Flesh into human words for the enlightenment of the world. Their holiness was not an introverted contemplation of their status before God. It was a gift that they had to share with others. The Good News was that all are called to the holiness of being Christ’s members, by the gracious gift of God.

The simple fact is that humanity is totally meaningless unless God is its total concern. Then humanity, made holy with God’s own holiness, becomes the most precious creation of God.

SAINT OF THE DAY – August 23

SAINT OF THE DAY – August 23

Saint Rose of Lima

The first canonized saint of the New World has one characteristic of all saints—the suffering of opposition—and another characteristic which is more for admiration than for imitation—excessive practice of mortification.

She was born to parents of Spanish descent in Lima, Peru, at a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. She seems to have taken Catherine of Siena as a model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of parents and friends.

The saints have so great a love of God that what seems bizarre to us, and is indeed sometimes imprudent, is simply a logical carrying out of a conviction that anything that might endanger a loving relationship with God must be rooted out. So, because her beauty was so often admired, Rose used to rub her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches. Later, she wore a thick circlet of silver on her head, studded on the inside, like a crown of thorns.

When her parents fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day and sewed at night. Ten years of struggle against her parents began when they tried to make Rose marry. They refused to let her enter a convent, and out of obedience she continued her life of penance and solitude at home as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. So deep was her desire to live the life of Christ that she spent most of her time at home in solitude.

During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly, and the sick. This was a beginning of social services in Peru. Though secluded in life and activity, she was brought to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, who could only say that she was influenced by grace.

What might have been a merely eccentric life was transfigured from the inside. If we remember some unusual penances, we should also remember the greatest thing about Rose: a love of God so ardent that it withstood ridicule from without, violent temptation, and lengthy periods of sickness. When she died at 31, the city turned out for her funeral. Prominent men took turns carrying her coffin.


Reflection

It is easy to dismiss excessive penances of the saints as the expression of a certain culture or temperament. But a woman wearing a crown of thorns may at least prod our consciences. We enjoy the most comfort-oriented life in human history. We eat too much, drink too much, use a million gadgets, fill our eyes and ears with everything imaginable. Commerce thrives on creating useless needs on which to spend our money. It seems that when we have become most like slaves, there is the greatest talk of “freedom.” Are we willing to discipline ourselves in such an atmosphere.

CATHOLIC MOVIE SHELF

ROBE

The Robe is a 1953 American Biblical epic film that tells the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that is responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus. The film was released by 20th Century Fox and was the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope.

In Ancient Rome, Judaea, Capri, and Galilee (in the time period stretching from 32 to 38 AD.), Diana (Jean Simmons) tells Emperor Caligula that she has not heard from Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) for almost a year, when Marcellus was in Cana of Galilee. At that time, Marcellus was told by Paulus that Caligula had become the emperor.

Marcellus Gallio, son of an important Roman senator (Torin Thatcher), and himself a military tribune, introduces through flashback narration, the might and scope of the Roman empire. Marcellus is notoriously known as a ladies’ man, but is captivated by the reappearance of his childhood sweetheart, Diana, ward of the Emperor Tiberius. Diana is unofficially pledged in marriage to Tiberius’s regent, Caligula. Nevertheless, she harbors a desire for Marcellus after a promise he made when they were children that he would marry her.

Caligula, who has a longstanding feud with Marcellus, arrives at the slave market, whereupon he enters into a bidding war with Marcellus over a defiant Greek slave, Demetrius (Victor Mature). Despite Demetrius being sold for a gladiator, and expected by Caligula to be a cheap buy, Marcellus wins the bidding war by pledging 3000 gold, and Caligula storms off. Marcellus has Demetrius released and orders him to go on his own to the Gallio home. Marcellus is surprised to find Demetrius waiting for him when he arrives, since Demetrius could have run off, but Demetrius feels honor bound to Marcellus, claiming he owes Marcellus a debt.

Word reaches the Gallio home that Caligula has issued orders for Marcellus to receive a military transfer to Jerusalem in Palestine. A place of unrest, Marcellus’ father informs his son that Caligula hopes this new assignment will be his death sentence. Demetrius accompanies Marcellus to Palestine but, before the galley sails, Diana comes to see Marcellus, pledging her love for him and her intention to intercede on his behalf with Tiberius. Marcellus declares his love for Diana and asks her to make the emperor promise not to give her in marriage to Caligula.

Marcellus rides into Jerusalem with the centurion Paulus (Jeff Morrow) on the same day as Jesus’s triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. Demetrius locks eyes with Jesus and feels compelled to follow after him, although he does not. Later, Demetrius learns of the plot to arrest Jesus after overhearing Paulus and Marcellus discuss the matter. He attempts to warn Jesus, but comes across a distraught man who informs him that Jesus has already been arrested. After bemoaning how Jesus was betrayed by one of his own, and imploring Demetrius to find the others and tell them not to lose faith, Demetrius asks for the man’s name. As thunder crashes, the man reveals himself to be Judas, and he wanders off to hang himself.

Demetrius implores Marcellus to intercede on behalf of Jesus, but upon learning that Jesus has already been condemned by Pontius Pilate (Richard Boone), the procurator, Marcellus tells Demetrius the matter is settled and that he best forget he ever saw Jesus. Marcellus reports to Pilate, who informs him that Emperor Tiberius has sent for him. Before Marcellus departs, Pilate orders him to take charge of the detail of Roman soldiers assigned to crucify Jesus. While waiting for the execution to finish, Marcellus wins the robe worn by Jesus in a dice game from Paulus, who tells Marcellus that it will be a reminder of his victory over the King of the Jews.