Saul becomes Paul. Are they the same person? Yes and no.

We know that Christ has come to make us a new creation. He makes the whole world new, and each of us new. He proclaims in today’s Gospel that his disciples will do things that were hitherto unheard of, like driving out demons, speaking new languages, overcoming poison, and healing the sick.

And we know that when Saul was knocked to the ground surrounded by a brilliant light and the voice of Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” he was never the same again. Blinded and humbled and stopped in his tracks from arresting followers of “the Way,” Saul was profoundly changed. So profound was this change that on recovering his strength he immediately began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God!

He is made new. In one moment, his cramped and somewhat self-righteous zeal for the Jewish faith has him chasing down Christians to arrest them. In the next moment, his radical new (Christian) self is worshipping with them and proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ. He is, in essence, a new creation. Even though he is the same man, he has been made new.

Did he receive a new name? Actually, he didn’t! We often think he did (and Jesus DID sometimes re-name people) because when we first encounter him in Acts he is called Saul, and we know him as Paul. Like many people in the Bible, he had two names: Saul was his Hebrew name, but he was also known by his Roman/Latin name, Paul. It seems he began to use his Roman name because it was the name the Gentiles would have been familiar with, and he felt called to preach to the Gentiles.

But he was certainly made new in Christ Jesus, as we all are!

We may not see a bright light or get knocked to the ground, but the Lord is always calling to us and always coming to us! He wants to convert our hearts and transform them to be like His Holy Heart, so that we become love, like Him. Where are the points in your life that God has stopped you in your tracks, prevented you from doing something, or changed your course? Has God ever blinded you by His Presence, given you a word or a question, directed your heart in a surprising direction?

There are many ways that God uses to confirm us in the faith and invite us into His glorious will for us. On this celebration of the Conversion of St. Paul, let’s ask him to help us make the small and large changes that will make us truly new in Christ.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: MoIsés Becerra, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/10533-san-pablo

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

Reading I Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’ 
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”

OR:

Acts 9:1-22

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his  journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” 
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, AAnanias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. 
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
All who heard him were astounded and said, 
“Is not this the man who in Jerusalem
ravaged those who call upon this name,
and came here expressly to take them back in chains
to the chief priests?”
But Saul grew all the stronger
and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus,
proving that this is the Christ.

Responsorial Psalm 117:1bc, 2

R.        (Mark 16:15)  Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R.        Alleluia, alleluia.
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
            glorify him, all you peoples!
R.        Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R.        Alleluia, alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
            and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever.
R.        Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
or:
R.        Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia See Jn 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 16:15-18

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Daily Meditation

 

Saint of the Day

 

Conversion of Saint Paul

Saint of the Day for January 25

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The Story of the Conversion of Saint Paul

Saint Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “…entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a).

Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new.

So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.


Reflection

Paul is undoubtedly hard to understand. His style often reflects the rabbinical style of argument of his day, and often his thought skips on mountaintops while we plod below. But perhaps our problems are accentuated by the fact that so many beautiful jewels have become part of the everyday coin in our Christian language.


Click here for more on the life of Saint Paul!


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Daily Reading

 

Daily Meditation

 

Our Gospel gives us an opportunity to address one of the more confusing passages in Scripture: “‘Amen, I say to you, all sins and blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.’ For they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” (Mark 3:28–30). We must keep in mind that Our Lord means what He says and He does not contradict Himself. We have to wrestle with the hard sayings, and every difficulty in Scripture can be solved, even if we do not yet have the tools to do so.

So, what is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, summarizes the issue neatly. In his Summa Theologiae (II-II, q. 14), he mentions the interpretations of Sts. Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, John Chrysostom, and Augustine, holy Fathers of the Church.

All but St. Augustine interpret blasphemy against the Spirit as literally speaking a blasphemy against the Third Person of the Trinity, namely by attributing His work to Satan. This is what the Jews did in our Gospel. Jesus had been performing miracles by His own power, glorifying God, but the Jews called Him possessed, saying that He was casting out demons by Satan’s power. In reality, Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Spirit. But the Jews said that the Spirit’s work was Satan’s work, gravely offending God.

St. Augustine interpreted blasphemy against the Spirit as final impenitence, which is the refusal to accept the mercy of God. According to Aquinas, this can happen through despair or presumption. In despair, we think ourselves unworthy of God’s mercy and resign ourselves to Hell, never daring to ask forgiveness for our shameful sins. In presumption, we think ourselves too good for God’s mercy, never stooping to ask forgiveness because we think we are perfect. Either way the result is the same: a direct offense against God’s mercy or justice, and death in the state of unrepented mortal sin.

These interpretations are not mutually exclusive, but St. John Paul II emphasizes Augustine’s interpretation in his encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Dives in Misericordia (part II, section 6). There he describes the “unforgivable sin” as unforgivable by its very nature, since it rejects the salvation offered to us through the Holy Spirit.

Whether we side with either or both interpretations, this shouldn’t be an issue for most of us. Chances are that if we are reading this, we are in the habit of turning to God for His mercy and confessing our sins in the confessional. However, it is always good to be on our guard against despair, presumption, and calling God’s good work evil. It can be easy sometimes to think that we are either too far gone or too good for God’s forgiveness.

(On his feast day, I’d also like to recommend St. Francis de Sales, another Doctor of the Church. His Introduction to the Devout Life is incredibly practical, and his section on ordinary temptations (part 4) is especially helpful.)

Contact the author

David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at ddashiellwork@gmail.com.

Feature Image Credit: Laura Tapias, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/15369-tercera-persona-santisima-trinidad

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

Reading I 2 Sm 5:1-7, 10

All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king, 
it was you who led the children of Israel out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel 
and shall be commander of Israel.’”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, 
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, 
and they anointed him king of Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king, 
and he reigned for forty years: 
seven years and six months in Hebron over Judah, 
and thirty-three years in Jerusalem
over all Israel and Judah.

Then the king and his men set out for Jerusalem 
against the Jebusites who inhabited the region.
David was told, “You cannot enter here: 
the blind and the lame will drive you away!” 
which was their way of saying, “David cannot enter here.”
But David did take the stronghold of Zion, which is the City of David. 

David grew steadily more powerful,
for the LORD of hosts was with him.

Responsorial Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 25-26

R.        (25a)  My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
Once you spoke in a vision,
            and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
            over the people I have set a youth.”
R.        My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
“I have found David, my servant;
            with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
            and that my arm may make him strong.”
R.        My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
“My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
            and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand upon the sea,
            his right hand upon the rivers.”
R.        My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.

Alleluia See 2 Tm 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, 
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself, 
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, 
he cannot stand; 
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property 
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.  
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies 
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 
will never have forgiveness, 
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” 

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Daily Meditation

 

Saint of the Day

 

Saint Francis de Sales

Saint of the Day for January 24

(August 21, 1567 – December 28, 1622)

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Saint Francis de Sales’ Story

Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder’s place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for the Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.

At 35, he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions, and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”

Besides his two well-known books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman…. It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world.”

In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he had time to collaborate with another saint, Jane Frances de Chantal, in the work of establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety, and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.


Reflection

Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”


Saint Francis de Sales is the Patron Saint of:

Authors
Deafness
Journalists
Writers


Click here for more on Francis de Sales!


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Daily Reading

 

Daily Meditation

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus went into the synagogue and read this passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

He then looked at all those who sat listening to Him and proclaimed: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Wow! We hear that and we feel excited. But the people listening then were astounded—so astounded that they became furious. They drove Him from the temple believing He had committed blasphemy. But we know that He did not. We know that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament. 

As Christ said, He was sent to “proclaim liberty to captives.” We desperately need this liberty, for we are all ensnared and held captive by something of this world—our jobs, our friend groups, social media, the news, even our phones. We allow these things to take the place of Jesus in our hearts and minds. We allow these things to fill us, and often they fill us with anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness, or more. 

But Jesus is here—and has always been here—to free us from the chains that come with these things. He doesn’t just fill us, as these things do, He brings us joy, peace, love, and harmony.

Nothing of this world can do that. Sure, many can bring happiness, but happiness is fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last. But a joy in Christ lasts. 

So let us take time to reflect on how we spend our days. Where is our focus? Are we spending so much time watching the news, playing on our phones, or scrolling through social media that Christ becomes secondary in our lives? Are we letting the world fill us with an anger that threatens to destroy the joy we have? 

Because of sin, our world is broken. This should—and often does—bring us sadness, but it’s a sadness we must not dwell upon. Instead, we must turn this sadness into an awareness that only loving and God-centered actions can effect the change we need in this world.

So, as we begin this new year, let us allow God to liberate us from our captivity and truly make this a year acceptable to the Lord. 

Contact the author

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

Feature Image Credit: Luis Ca, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/2094-un-solo-dios

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day

 

Reading I Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform 
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, 
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
            refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
            giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
            rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
            enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
            enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
            all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
            find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading II 1 Cor 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

OR:

1 Cor 12:12-14, 27

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

Alleluia Cf. Lk 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus, 
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom 
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
            The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
                        because he has anointed me 
                        to bring glad tidings to the poor.
            He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
                        and recovery of sight to the blind,
                        to let the oppressed go free,
                        and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Daily Meditation

 

Saint of the Day

 

Photograph of Mother Marianne Cope
Image: Photograph of Mother Marianne Cope | anonymous

Saint of the Day for January 23

(January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918)

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Saint Marianne Cope’s Story

Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th-century Hawaii, that disease sparked great generosity in the woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai. Her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii, a territory annexed to the United States during her lifetime (1898).

Mother Marianne’s generosity and courage were celebrated at her May 14, 2005, beatification in Rome. She was a woman who spoke “the language of truth and love” to the world, said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Cardinal Martins, who presided at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, called her life “a wonderful work of divine grace.” Speaking of her special love for persons suffering from leprosy, he said, “She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.”

On January 23, 1838, a daughter was born to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. The girl was named after her mother. Two years later the Cope family emigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara worked in a factory until August 1862, when she went to the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After profession in November of the next year, she began teaching at Assumption parish school.

Marianne held the post of superior in several places and was twice the novice mistress of her congregation. A natural leader, three different times she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much that would be useful during her years in Hawaii.

Elected provincial in 1877, Mother Marianne was unanimously re-elected in 1881. Two years later the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to run the Kakaako Receiving Station for people suspected of having leprosy. More than 50 religious communities in the United States and Canada were asked. When the request was put to the Syracuse sisters, 35 of them volunteered immediately. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu; on the island of Maui they also opened a hospital and a school for girls.

In 1888, Mother Marianne and two sisters went to Molokai to open a home for “unprotected women and girls” there. The Hawaiian government was quite hesitant to send women for this difficult assignment; they need not have worried about Mother Marianne! On Molokai she took charge of the home that Saint Damien de Veuster had established for men and boys. Mother Marianne changed life on Molokai by introducing cleanliness, pride, and fun to the colony. Bright scarves and pretty dresses for the women were part of her approach.

Awarded the Royal Order of Kapiolani by the Hawaiian government and celebrated in a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mother Marianne continued her work faithfully. Her sisters have attracted vocations among the Hawaiian people and still work on Molokai.

Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918, was beatified in 2005, and canonized seven years later.


Reflection

The government authorities were reluctant to allow Mother Marianne to be a mother on Molokai. Thirty years of dedication proved their fears unfounded. God grants gifts regardless of human shortsightedness and allows those gifts to flower for the sake of the kingdom.


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Posted by Franciscan Media.

Daily Reading

 

Daily Meditation

 

Today’s Gospel is short, only 2 verses. When I first read it I thought to myself, “Now what in the world am I going to write about for this Gospel?! There’s nothing there!” But there is so much packed into these 2 short verses. 

In today’s Gospel, we hear what seems to be talked about a lot less than Christ’s miracles and His gathering of followers. We hear that His mission was not always easy. Throughout the years He spent preaching and performing miracles, He encountered countless people who rejected Him. Many thought that Christ was crazy, that he was “out of his mind”. Despite sharing the Truth of salvation, He experienced harsh criticism and condemnation. 

In the same way that Christ was mocked, ridiculed, and shunned for telling those around Him the Truth, so too do we risk being mocked, ridiculed, and shunned for our belief in the Truth. Yesterday (and throughout the month of January), all over the country hundreds of thousands of people marched for the rights of unborn babies. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recognizes today as a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”. Those who stand for the dignity of human life in the womb are met with the same ridicule and the same bitter criticism that Christ faced in the Gospel.  

St. John Paul the Great encouraged us in our mission of protecting the dignity of human life at all stages: “Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid!” In saying “Christ is with you”, John Paul II did not mean merely on a spiritual level, although that is true too. Christ is with us in our battle to share the Truth about human life. He endured the same derision for speaking the same Truth. 

May we find great comfort in uniting our suffering and the mockery we endure to that which Christ endured. In times of sorrow and frustration, may we seek His Holy Face and be reminded that He has already won the battle and place our hope and trust in Him. 

Contact the author

Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

Feature Image Credit: https://www.cathopic.com/photo/4498-toda-vida-vale

Daily Reading

 

Saint of the Day