8 February – Memorial for St. Jerome Emiliani; Memorial for St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin
Jerome (1481–1537) was born wealthy, the son of Angelo and Eleanor Mauroceni Emiliani. His father died when Jerome was a teenager, and he ran away from home at age 15. After a dissolute youth, he became a soldier in Venice in 1506. He commanded the League of Cambrai forces at the fortress of Castelnuovo near Trevso. He was captured by Venetian forces on Aug 27, 1511, and was chained in a dungeon. Here, he prayed to Our Lady for help and was miraculously freed by an apparition. He hung his chains on a church wall as an offering. He became Mayor of Treviso while studying for the priesthood, and was ordained in the spotted-fever plague year of 1518.
He cared for the sick, and housed orphans in his own home. At night he roamed the streets, burying those who had collapsed and died unattended. He contracted the fever himself, but survived. He founded six orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and a hospital.
He founded the Order of Somaschi (Company of Servants of the Poor, or Samascan Fathers) in 1532. It is a congregation of clerks regular vowed to the care of orphans, and named after the town of Somasca where they started, and where they founded a seminary. The society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and it continues its work today in a dozen countries. Jerome is believed to have developed the question-and-answer catechism technique for teaching children religion.
In 1928, Pope Pius XI declared him the patron saint of orphans and abandoned children.
– Patron Saint Index
Josephine (1868–1947) was born to a wealthy Sudanese family. At age 9, she was kidnapped by slave-traders who gave her the name Bakhita. She was sold and resold in the markets at El Obeid and Khartoum, finally purchased in 1883 by Callisto Legnani, an Italian consul who planned to free her. She accompanied Legnani to Italy in 1885, and worked for the family of Augusto Michieli as nanny. She was treated well in Italy and grew to love the country. She joined the Church as an adult convert on Jan 9, 1890, taking the name Josephine as a symbol of her new life.
She entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice, Italy, in 1893, taking her vows on Dec 8, 1896 in Verona, and served as a Canossian Sister for the next 50 years. Her gentle presence, her warm, amiable voice, and her willingness to help with any menial task were a comfort to the poor and suffering people who came to the door of the Institute. After a biography of her was published in 1930, she became a noted and sought-after speaker, raising funds to support missions.
She was canonized on Oct 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and is thought to be the only saint originally from Sudan.
– Patron Saint Index
1 Kings 8:1-7,9-13
Solomon called the elders of Israel together in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord up from the Citadel of David, which is Zion. All the men of Israel assembled round King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, at the time of the feast (that is, the seventh month), and the priests took up the ark and the Tent of Meeting with all the sacred vessels that were in it. In the presence of the ark, King Solomon and all Israel sacrificed sheep and oxen, countless, innumerable. The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the Debir of the Temple, that is, in the Holy of Holies, under the cherubs’ wings. For there where the ark was placed the cherubs spread out their wings and sheltered the ark and its shafts. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets Moses had placed in it at Horeb, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord had made with the Israelites when they came out of the land of Egypt; they are still there today.
Now when the priests came out of the sanctuary, the cloud filled the Temple of the Lord, and because of the cloud the priests could no longer perform their duties: the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s Temple.
Then Solomon said:
‘The Lord has chosen to dwell in the thick cloud.
Yes, I have built you a dwelling,
a place for you to live in for ever.’
Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured.
They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was
When I first became a Catholic, some of my non-Catholic friends would ask me, “ How do you justify being part of a faith that condones the building of palatial places of worship while its faithful in some parts of the world starve from their hunger and poverty?” I used to get tripped up by that all the time. It would make me angry and defensive. Yes, why DID we condone that? Why wasn’t every dime spent alleviating pain, healing the sick and comforting the poor? As I grew older though, I began to understand that the glory of God is manifest not just in acts of charity. He inspires art, music, literature, architecture. He moves the body and mind to create things of transcendental beauty. We look upon something like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and it fills us with wonder. What motivates a man to create art that is so breathtaking? What is the root of inspiration? Is it a gift that is given to everyone, but only those who would struggle and expend the effort, can reap its glorious fruit?
Effort, by definition, is ‘a vigorous or determined attempt, a strenuous physical or mental exertion’. Solomon’s purpose was to build the Temple of The Lord, and he gave his life and the vast resources of his country’s coffers over to achieving that end. Today’s reading shows him celebrating all the years of planning and hard work, his reward being the Lord’s glory filling the temple of the Lord. In the gospel reading of Mark, the people tirelessly bring their sick to wherever Jesus might be, in the hope that they might be healed by his touch. “They scurried about the surrounding countryside”, searching the market places, villages and towns. There was no telling where Jesus would be, but the people never gave up.
Man’s struggle in life has always been to seek a higher purpose, to reach for something greater than himself. For those of us called to the faith, that struggle is evident in our daily walk of faith. We do not do this alone though. If we will expend the effort, God gives us the grace to stay true to the path; not stray nor be distracted, nor tire from the strain required to walk the path, nor become angry and disillusioned by failure. He gives us grace enough for the journey. All He asks is that we make the effort.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for His grace to help us to persevere when we grow weary and discouraged on our faith journeys. Let not disillusion, anger and resentment take root in our hearts and keep us from doing our work in His ministry.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gift of faith and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that moves us to create beautiful things for His glory.