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
Continue to love each other like brothers, and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Keep in mind those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; and those who are being badly treated, since you too are in the one body. Marriage is to be honoured by all, and marriages are to be kept undefiled, because fornicators and adulterers will come under God’s judgement. Put greed out of your lives and be content with whatever you have; God himself has said: I will not fail you or desert you, and so we can say with confidence: With the Lord to help me, I fear nothing: what can man do to me?
Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be for ever.
King Herod had heard about Jesus, since by now his name was well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Others said, ‘He is Elijah’; others again, ‘He is a prophet, like the prophets we used to have.’ But when Herod heard this he said, ‘It is John whose head I cut off; he has risen from the dead.’
Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.
An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore her an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.
The Christian life is not an easy life to live — we are called to live in a paradox, we are called to be selfless, and we are called to stand up against the popular culture we have right now. And there are definitely times where God’s call perplexes us because it is challenging us to live not how we want to live, but how we ought to live as brothers and sisters of Christ, as the heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom, as the sons and daughters of God.
We are perplexed because our heavenly Father has already written the Truth in our hearts. And even if we are perplexed, we like to listen because the message strikes a chord, after all, what we hear only makes us aware of what was already written in our hearts.
I think for the majority of the time, we already know if we are doing what is right or what is wrong.
However, there are times when we already know we are doing wrong and yet, we try to find ways to make us feel that we are doing right. I am guilty of this as well. Sometimes, I would seek out valid excuses to justify my actions. Sometimes, I would talk to my friends to share my side of the story but in such a way that will make me look like I had no other choice. Sometimes, I would even engage priests in discussion because, hoping that he will give me some way to excuse my actions.
One excuse I often hear is that ‘God will understand’ why that person chose to act in a manner that is clearly against the teachings of Christ. This is merely another way to calm the perplexity felt.
Many of us are probably guilty of seeking out excuses for our actions because following the demands of the Gospel, the Truth that is written in our hearts, would require that we change our lives and stop doing the things we want to do. However, this will not change the Truth that we know.
Living against the Truth only makes us uncomfortable. Living against the Truth for a long time can make us forget what is the Truth. Let us live in a way where we don’t have to make excuses, and just try our best to live according to the Truth God has written in our hearts. And if we do not know the full Truth yet, let us seek it with genuine desire to know and understand, and not merely to discover another way to make an excuse.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dear God, I am in need of a lot of grace to be able to live out your call to my life. Please give me all the graces I need.
Thanksgiving: Lord God, thank you for Church as it is helping me see and understand the Truth that you have written in my heart.