23 Apr – Memorial of Saint George, Martyr, or Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop, Martyr
Saint George, Martyr
Several stories have been attached to Saint George, the best known of which is the Golden Legend. In it, a dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, and had gone down in painful defeat. The monster ate two sheep each day; when mutton was scarce, lots were drawn in local villages, and maidens were substituted for sheep. Into this country came Saint George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he crossed himself, rode to battle against the serpent, and killed it with a single blow with his lance. George then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals. Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor, then rode away.
Due to his chivalrous behavior (protecting women, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, largesse to the poor), devotion to Saint George became popular in the Europe after the 10th century. In the 15th century his feast day was as popular and important as Christmas. Many of his areas of patronage have to do with life as a knight on horseback. The celebrated Knights of the Garter are actually Knights of the Order of Saint George. The shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop, Martyr
Born to the Bohemian nobility. He took the name of Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg, the archbishop who healed, educated and converted him. Bishop of Prague (in the modern Czech Republic on 10 February 982. Friend of Emperor Otto III. Adalbert encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and worked on it with Saint Astricus. Opposed by the nobility in Prague and unpopular in the area, he withdrew to Rome, Italy and became a Benedictine monk, making his vows on 17 April 990; Pope John XV sent him back to Prague. anyway. Founded the monastery of Brevnov. Met more opposition from the nobility, and returned to Rome. There being no hope of his working in Prague, he was allowed to (unsuccessfully) evangelize in Pomerania, Poland, Prussia, Hungary, and Russia. He and his fellow missionaries were martyred by Prussians near Koenigsberg or Danzig at the instigation of a pagan priest. Not long before his death, Adalbert met and was a great inspiration to Saint Boniface of Querfurt.
– Patron Saint Index
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:
Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?’ Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.
Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
They shall all be taught by God
Working in a university comes with its fair share of challenges. Today, I spent an hour with a consultant who has been hired to help us with ‘culture-building’. He asked many searching questions which I answered with candour and openness of heart. I guess after five years in the job, I felt entitled to speak from a position of ‘authority’ having seen many others come and go.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to sit in on various meetings where my bosses have shared their thoughts on education as well as a variety of related topics. What I have learnt is that no one person has absolute knowledge on any given subject, myself included. People may be experts in their fields but in our culture, everyone at the table is entitled to his/her opinion and the final decision-maker has to hear from all present. This culture didn’t develop overnight and only evolved as we hired more and more faculty. This has added to a rich learning experience for staff, especially those whose job functions cut across various divisions.
On the spiritual front, I have been blessed to have been able to devote time to serving at CSC and, in the process, attend many Friday growth talks and listen to homilies given by the many priests and spiritual directors over the past four years. The education I have received at the centre has certainly enriched my understanding of the faith and contributed to my spiritual growth. But the knowledge I have received is different from the knowledge I receive at work. What I receive at work and impart to my team of young staff serves us well only at work. It does nothing for us outside of the office.
The knowledge I have gained at CSC resides within my heart and soul. I have found myself evangelizing to colleagues and friends, testifying to God’s love for me and how He has worked miracles within me over the years. It is a knowledge that sometimes springs forth without warning and is not confined to any particular location or building. In the office, at church, or even during a meal, when the opportunity arises to testify to His love for me, I find myself jumping at the chance. Whereas I now spend a lot less time telling others about what I do for a living, or what I do at work.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord wants us to get to know Him and to learn from Him. For it is only through Him that we shall learn about the true meaning of life. And it is only by His grace that we shall be empowered to spread His word and to testify to His amazing love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: We pray O Lord that you continue to nourish and sustain us in your teachings so that we can truly be your disciples and living examples of your love.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for being our ultimate teacher, guide and spiritual director.