May 27 – Memorial for St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop
Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury, to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King AEthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.
He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.
- Patron Saint Index
Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: ‘If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said ‘come and stay with us’; and she would take no refusal.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father,
he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses,
because you have been with me from the outset.
Come and stay at my home.
I have been told that one of my charisms is hospitality, and that I am quite generous. I never think of it as anything noble. I just share what I have, nothing so extraordinary. Recently though, I feel that this ‘gift’ can be a double-edged sword – it can be fulfilling or can suck the life out of a person. When we are spiritually aligned with God’s will – things we do for others can be so life giving. However, when we are not in a great place, little things people ask can be energy sapping. Which was how I was feeling since January. Being in full swing with ministry work and using my ‘professional expertise’ to help in some projects, I became a bit sapped by the time Lent came around. Holy Week this year saw me crashing into new lows. Not because I was doing too much, but simply because I had no capacity to give any more.
I observed 3 things during this time:
- When we allow God to work through us, there is nothing we cannot do. But on our own strength, things can get pretty messy.
- God never, ever leaves us. He is strong when we are weak.
- He sends people to help and journey with us.
In today’s first reading, Lydia from the city of Thyatira touched me. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly. She was open to what the Lord was doing for her and it touched her immensely. God used her to bless those around her. Lydia offered kindly hospitality to Paul and his companions, having received the gift of the gospel and the grace of God. Lydia didn’t just open her heart, she also opened her home. She was not only the first European convert to Christianity, she also created the first church in her own home.
We have all been graced in various ways by the Lord. Having received from the Lord, we give from what we have received. As I look back on my own ministry, I recall the time when I was most joyful, no matter how tired and lacking in sleep, I felt much joy bursting from my heart. But what has happened to me recently? Perhaps I let ‘life’ happen, the burdens and pains of this world took over, and I had forgotten to lean on Him, to derive spiritual sustenance from God, so readily available to me. As I held onto this rope, desperately clinging on to my faith, my mind wondered if the rope was anchored to anything. Then the Lord spoke to me “It’s not you who is holding onto me. But I am holding onto to you.” Wow!!!! Indeed in weakness, He is strong.
Brothers and sisters, have you lost the joy in serving the Lord? Have you been sapped of energy? Perhaps it’s time to go back to basics. Receive the graces so readily available from the Lord. Perhaps Jesus is calling you today. Come and stay at my home.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, we have received so abundantly from you. Please show us concretely how we can give from what we have received. May You use us each day, to re-establish your church.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your fatherly love. Thank you for giving us so abundantly and unreservedly.