May 25 – Memorial for St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Worker; Memorial for St. Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin
Bede (672-735) was born around the time England was finally completely Christianized. He was raised from age seven in the abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. He was a Benedictine monk, and the spiritual student of the founder, St. Benedict Biscop. He was ordained in 702 by St. John of Beverley. He was a teacher and author; he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.
He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
– Patron Saint Index
Gregory (1020-1085) was educated in Rome, Italy. He was a Benedictine monk, and chaplain to Pope Gregory VI. He was in charge of the Patrimony of St. Peter. He was a reformer and an excellent administrator. He was chosen the 152nd pope, but he declined the crown. He was chief counsellor to Pope Victor II, Pope Stephen IX, Pope Benedict X, and Pope Nicholas II. He eventually became the 157th pope.
At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property.
The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture. He summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove them out. Gregory then retreated to Salerno, Italy, where he spent the remainder of his papacy.
– Patron Saint Index
Catherine (1566-1607) had a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at the age of 14, but was taken back home by her family who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalene. She as a mystic, and led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Her life was marked by many extraordinary graces.
– Patron Saint Index
Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord; remember it is those who had endurance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the patience of Job, and understood the Lord’s purpose, realising that the Lord is kind and compassionate.
Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth, or use any oaths at all. If you mean ‘yes’, you must say ‘yes’; if you mean ‘no’, say ‘no.’ Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgement.
Jesus came to the district of Judaea and the far side of the Jordan. And again crowds gathered round him, and again he taught them, as his custom was. Some Pharisees approached him and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’
“… a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”
I’ve always thought of marriage as a team sport; you’re only going to be as strong as your weakest link. To go the distance, you have to be a united front and this happens first behind closed doors. A friend celebrating his 30th anniversary said to me that the reason they never got divorced was because of timing – neither he nor his wife ever wanted out of the marriage at the same time. One person was always fighting to keep it alive, holding the fort while the other faltered. That’s a powerful statement of love – the willingness to persevere without knowing if your partner was going to hold up their end of the partnership.
We have been married for 4 years now. Enough time has passed for us to have observed the less rosy side of each other’s personalities. My friend was definitely on to something when he offered up that morsel of practical wisdom. There have certainly been times when we have had our differences. I expect that’s the case with most marriages. Which marriage has not endured setbacks and overcome hurdles?
Scripture uses the image of the bride and groom to describe the ideal relationship between God and the Church – loving, forgiving, thoughtful, gentle, persevering. “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. To leave your mother and father means leaving the familiarity of your childhood and all of your selfish, childish bachelor/bachelorette ways behind. From here on, hardship and suffering are to be borne and celebrated together. The easy thing to do when the going gets tough, is to complain and blame. But just like in team sport, we’ll be more successful if we supported and persevered with one another as good team mates do. We can take courage from the fact that we are not alone in all this. God did send us a helper, to encourage, comfort and inspire us. Every good marriage has three parties in it – a husband, a wife, and the Holy Spirit. Now isn’t that a ‘dream team’!
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the faithfulness to include God in all of our plans, our hopes, our trials, our successes. We pray that He will be the cornerstone on which our marriages are built, that He be our foundation and our rock.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our husbands and our wives, who endure our shortfalls with grace, love, patience and humor.