8 Feb – 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 3:4-13
King Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, since that was the greatest of the high places – Solomon offered a thousand holocausts on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared in a dream to Solomon during the night. God said, ‘Ask what you would like me to give you.’ Solomon replied, ‘You showed great kindness to your servant David, my father, when he lived his life before you in faithfulness and justice and integrity of heart; you have continued this great kindness to him by allowing a son of his to sit on his throne today. Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in succession to David my father. But I am a very young man, unskilled in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of this people of yours that you have chosen, a people so many its number cannot be counted or reckoned. Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?’ It pleased the Lord that Solomon should have asked for this. ‘Since you have asked for this’ the Lord said ‘and not asked for long life for yourself or riches or the lives of your enemies, but have asked for a discerning judgement for yourself, here and now I do what you ask. I give you a heart wise and shrewd as none before you has had and none will have after you. What you have not asked I shall give you too: such riches and glory as no other king ever had.’
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.’ For there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat.
In Asia, the concept of 24/7 is very pervasive. We want 24/7 customer support, we want stores from where we can buy anything round the clock. When I went to Europe, the siestas frustrated me. When I went to America and Australia, the stores closing at 6pm (6pm!) drove me nuts. When I went to some place in Japan, not being able to call a cab at 10pm was a culture shock for me. So the busyness in Singapore has really pervaded my life. I honestly experience withdrawal symptoms if I suddenly have nothing to do.
And because of this, I have forgotten that I need rest. I feel guilty if I am not doing anything. Eventually, I realized that I had applied the same attitude to my ministry and my spiritual life. And even my ‘rest’ days have become days where I busy myself with other things (like touring, watching a movie). The things that I do have become a list of to-do’s.
I think there are many reasons why we choose to busy ourselves instead of taking time to rest. For me, I feel that if I were to rest, nothing would happen. I forget that after I have planted a seed and watered it for the day, I should just rest and leave it be. Or if I were to rest, I am wasting the talent that God has given to me when I could be accomplishing more for God.
For some people, they don’t truly rest because they are not comfortable being alone with themselves and God. I remember a fellow catechist who asked our youths if they were afraid to rest in God because God will reveal to them who they really are.
We should remember that it was Jesus who asked his disciples to rest after their mission. There’s work and there’s rest. Both have to be enjoyed. I was also told that it is our duty to rest.
One of my favorite saints, St Josemaria Escriva writes about rest — “I have always seen rest as time set aside from daily tasks, never as days of idleness. Rest means recuperation: to gain strength, form ideals and make plans. In other words it means a change of occupation, so that you can come back later with a new impetus to your daily job.” (The Furrow, 514)
Imagine how busy the apostles must be to have missed their meals at the time when there were no e-mails, handphones, etc. They deserved the rest Christ was inviting them to.
Perhaps, we should look at our schedule. Are we really too busy to rest?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, you taught us that there is a time for everything, even for rest. Teach us how to really rest.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for showing us that rest is as important as work.