11 December, Wednesday – Human Strength is Finite

Dec 11 – Memorial for St. Damasus I, pope

Damasus (306-384) was raised in a pious family. His father was a priest in Rome, and Damasus served for a time as deacon in his father’s church, St. Laurence. He was ordained a priest and became assistant to Pope Liberius. He was elected the 37th pope in a disputed election in which a minority chose the anti-pope Ursinus. The two reigned simultaneously in Rome which eventually led to violence between their supporters and Damasus’ false accusation of a crime.

His pontificate suffered from the rise of Arianism, and from several schisms including break-away groups in Antioch, Constantinople, Sardinia, and Rome. However, it was during his reign that Christianity was declared the religion of the Roman state. He enforced the 370 edict of Emperor Valentinian controlling gifts to prelates, and opposed Arianism and Apollinarianism. He supported the 374 council of Rome which decreed the valid books of the Bible, and the Grand Council of Constantinople in 381 which condemned Arianism.

He was the patron of his secretary, St. Jerome, and commissioned him to make the translation of scripture now known as the Vulgate. Damasus restored catacombs, shrines, and the tombs of martyrs, and wrote poetry and metrical inscriptions about and dedicated to martyrs. They state that he would like to be buried in the catacombs with the early martyrs, but that the presence of one of his lowly status would profane such an august place. Ten of his letters, personal and pontifical, have survived.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 40:25-31

‘To whom could you liken me and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look. Who made these stars if not he who drills them like an army, calling each one by name?

So mighty is his power, so great his strength, that not one fails to answer.

How can you say, Jacob, how can you insist, Israel, ‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord, my rights are ignored by my God’?

Did you not know? Had you not heard?

The Lord is an everlasting God, he created the boundaries of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary, his understanding is beyond fathoming. He gives strength to the wearied, he strengthens the powerless.

Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles.

They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire.

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Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

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He does not faint or grow weary

One of my favorite scriptures is Lamentations 3:22-24, “The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, His mercies are not spent. They are renewed each morning, so great is His faithfulness.”.

There have been times in my life when I could only get through the next minute because of my faith in Him. It was His strength I needed to even take another breath. As I continue to grow in my spiritual life reading scripture daily, I find this sentiment reiterated on so many pages.

Mental and emotional strength make the difference in our days. Some days, we have mental and emotional toughness, and some days we do not. Some days, just getting out of bed can be the victory. Our strengths are conditional and can be exhausted. Day after day after day of a hardship can take a significant toll on our bodies, minds and emotions. We can get a good night’s sleep, but our mental, emotional and physical bodies are not always renewed to the brim upon waking.

Sometimes, it’s a small issue that we need His strength to get through a test in school, a presentation at work, a confrontation at work, an issue with a friend or a family member.  These are common daily situations that are scattered throughout our life. And then there are the bigger situations, times when we pray and all we can do is lean into His strength to continue. Seasons in our life when we are faced with a serious illness or loss of a significant relationship, job and even death of someone we love. We all experience times when we feel (and actually left to our own are) helpless and hopeless, and without our faith we would be.  Our shoulders are not broad enough. We labor and are heavy laden. We need rest. And He takes our yoke. He does not faint nor grow weary. He can handle our burden, all of our burdens.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer:  Father God, I give you my problems, those I’ve created on my own and those that You have allowed to be placed in my path. I ask you to constantly remind me that I am not bothering You with my problems and that You desire to carry my yoke.   Your grace and mercy amaze me!

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Father, for always carrying my burdens, especially the ones that I have only because of my disobedience. Thank you Father God, for always giving me rest in your loving arms. 

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