Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saint Rose of Viterbo

At a very early age Rose proved herself to be very different from her contemporaries, what made her so different is her outstanding and obvious holiness in one so young.

What is known of Rose is that she was born around the year 1235 to poor parents and had to earn her living from a very young age, as many children had to do in order to feed themselves and provide a roof over their heads. In the thirteenth century there were no social or welfare services, to help out the poorer families.

Rose was noticeable by her holiness mainly because many had fallen away from the Faith or had become lukewarm this was due also to the fact that Emperor Frederick II was persecuting the Church and its followers. During a time where many people worked from sun up to sun set with little or no breaks in between their work life and their home life many resorted to simple but mindless pleasures to help alleviate the dreariness of their lives. This is why Rose stood out amongst the crowd, unlike the rest of the people Rose remained steadfast and grounded in the Church with a filial love and devotion.

From a young age Rose would pray before the Blessed Sacrament for hours with such love and devotion that many were in awe of this young girls evident holiness while others became annoyed at this girls faithfulness when they had let their own faith fall into lukewarmness. Rose from a young age grasped the fact that in order to gain any joy in life one must receive it from the Divine, for true peace can only come through Christ. This was a lesson that stamped itself into this young girls life as she prayed with zealousness and practiced mortifications upon herself.

The practice of severe penances was normal in the Era that Rose lived, as many holy and devout souls enjoined Christ in His suffering for the love of all mankind. During these difficult years while many suffered from oppression it was Rose who understood that it is God who ennobles all that we do so long as it is done with love and obedience to His Will. So no matter how hard times were or how difficult it was to survive it is God that strengthens the soul to persevere. Rose understood that it is God that gives us the joy we seek and not in a gaining of 'worldly' comforts.

Due to her severe mortifications Rose became ill, and even though friends and family tried to make her become less severe still Rose continued to suffer for the sake of souls. Even from a young age Rose longed to join a Religious Order, her dearest dream did not become a reality, but Rose accepted all as the Will of God deemed it.

It was during one of these severe illnesses that Rose nearly lost her life as consumption consumed her ragged and worn body made weak through her severe penances. When all seemed lost, Rose suddenly leaned up from her bed and exclaimed to those present, "All of you here, why do you not greet the Queen of the world? Do you not see Mary, the August Mother of my God, coming forward? Let us go to meet Her, and prostrate ourselves before Her majesty!" Those gathered at her death bed were astonished as they could not see what Rose herself was seeing that through the intervention of our Blessed Mother, Rose was cured. Our Lady also informed Rose that she would enter the Third Order of the Franciscans, but this would not be welcomed by all as Our Lady informed Rose, "reprove, convince, exhort and bring back the erring to the paths of salvation. If your endeavors bring upon you sarcasm and mockery, persecution and labor, you must bear them patiently... Those who assist you will be enriched with all the graces of the Lord."

From these words Rose's mission in life became reality as she endeavored to fulfill what our Lady had instructed her. She had a great love for the poor and practiced the corporal works of mercy while instructing and reproving those who had fallen away from the Faith. These were also perilous times as Rose fell foul of the Emperor and with her parents she had to flee her native town of Viterbo. When it came to protecting the Church Rose had the courage of a lioness protecting her young, she was truly fearless in the face of oppression.

There were many miracles attributed to this holy young girl as she lived her Faith with fierce courage and fortitude. It is thought that Rose raised her Aunt from the dead, and when she confronted a sorceress in her region Rose was tied to a burning pyre where the flames did not touch her, many who witnessed this miracle converted back to their Faith.

Though Rose was never to become a Religious Sister, still she served the Church through the Third Order Franciscans.

Due to her many mortifications which may have strengthened her soul it invariably weakened her body. Rose became very ill and died at only 18 years of age, surrounded by her loving family and friends.

Rose of Viterbo died in the year 1251.

Saint Rose of Viterbo was canonized in the year 1457 by Pope Callistus III.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Saint John Fisher

Like his friend Thomas More, John Fisher would also pay the ultimate price for his fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church at the hands of the vindictive and heretical King Henry the VIII.

Unlike Thomas More and John Fisher, King Henry VIII was ruled more by lustful passions than zealous principles! It comes as no surprise that this despotic ruler would murder two of the Churches finest men and all for whim, as he allowed his lust to have full reign, rather than his conscience!

John Fisher was born in the year 1460 to prosperous parents who wanted the best for their very bright and intelligent son, they sent their son to the university of Cambridge where he earned his degree in theology in the year 1487. He then spent a few years as Vicar of Northallerton before moving on to become Proctor of his university he earned a D.D in theology in the year 1501, thus making him one of the most learned theologians of his time.

He was a man of many gifts and of a resolute nature this was acknowledged at his university where was not only Proctor but also vice-chancellor before becoming chancellor for life a great honour indeed. During these busy years he met Lady Margaret Beaufort he would eventually become her Confessor and friend. It was with the encouragement of John Fisher that Lady Margaret donated considerable sums of money to the university. Upon her death in 1509 Lady Margaret Beaufort bequeathed to John Fisher some land in which she wished to build a college which would become known as St. Johns College.

Life went along fairly smoothly for John Fisher as he was given more responsibility within his area of skill, he was known for his quiet manner, deep devotion to the Church and his love of learning which he wished to share with all those he came into contact with. He had learned the skill of diplomacy and his personal integrity was never in question, though he was a learned man, he also had a deep love and concern for the poor.

In 1504 John was made Bishop of Rochester a position he maintained for thirty years. He proved to be a good Bishop and kept in touch with all people from all walks of life. He was very much a hands on Bishop who had the wellbeing of his parish at the forefront of his mind, and to instruct future Priests into the Faith with as much devotion as he had within himself.

It was around the time that Martin Luther who challenged the very fabric of the Church, that John Fisher would become close friends with Thomas More as they both sought to denounce Luther's heretical position. In conjunction with Thomas More, John Fisher wrote his apologetic in reference to the Luther heresy in his work 'Confutatio'. The difference with John Fishers work is that while he denounced the error of Luther he did not resort to personal insults or attacks but rather wrote the Truth to expose the Luther error while maintaining the Christian virtue of prudence over bluster.

While both Thomas More and John Fisher worked on refuting Luther's challenge, they also worked alongside the King which would prove to be their undoing. While both Thomas and John were moral men of high principles, King Henry the VIII was not as they would soon find out.

So it was in the year 1527 that King Henry VIII decided to annul the marriage of his first wife Catherine of Aragon, a deeply devout woman of the Church. The King knowing of John's deep virtue and great knowledge sent Cardinal Wosley to seek out the opinion of John Fisher concerning the Kings right to divorce his first wife. John Fisher gave this request much thought and after investigating the issue he sided with Rome on the issue of divorce, this displeased King Henry the VIII greatly!

John Fisher was a man of remarkable character who would not be swayed from his love of the Church and so remained an obedient son of the Church till the end, for John never reversed his first assessment of the Kings position, the King was wrong and Rome was right! Just as in the case of his good friend Thomas More, John must have realised his days were numbered for no-one crossed this out of control King without punishment. Being a resolute and unswerving man of high principles John courageously spoke out in favour of Queen Catherine and that the Kings marriage remained intact in the eyes of the Church despite King Henry's wanton disregard towards the Church's Teaching.

Things came to a head when upon marrying Anne Boleyn, the King insisted that an oath be taken that recognised that only the children of the King and Queen Anne be recognised as legitimate this was anathema to both John and Thomas More, both refused to make the oath. This action enraged the King and infuriated the headstrong young Queen, and both men found themselves arrested and taken to the Tower, a fearful place to be.

It was also discovered that John Fisher was seriously ill but the King showed no compassion and was further enraged when the Catholic Church pronounced that John would henceforth be known as Cardinal of the title of St. Vitalis. This was too much for the King and he urged with full malice to try and implicate John Fisher in open heresy towards himself. The King used one of his confidants to seek out John Fisher and to request his private opinion on the King becoming the Head of the Church of England, John trusted this particular man and replied to the question 'that the King was not, nor could be, by the law of God, Supreme Head of the church of England.' This would seal Johns fate.

Though John Fisher had serious health problems which may have been terminal the Kings malice towards this honorable man knew no bounds and he ordered the execution of this most noble and Godly man of principle to be beheaded.

John Fisher died in the year 1535.

Saint John Fisher was canonized in the year 1935 by Pope Pius XI.

His Feast Day is shared alongside his noble friend Saint Thomas More who shared his fate.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blessed Mother Marianne Cope

Though Barbara Koob was born in Germany in the year 1838, she did not live the rest of her life in her native country as her parents migrated to America in the hope of finding a better life for them all. The family settled in New York a bustling conglomerate of different migrants who like the Koob family hoped to live more prosperous lives in the land of the free. In order for the family to fit into their new country Barbara's parents changed their name from the German Koob to a more Anglicized Cope.

Barbara belonged to a large and loving family consisting of nine other siblings which kept the young girl busy as she helped out her mother in raising them, it also stalled her own plans of entering the Religious life. Once her siblings had reached maturity only then did Barbara follow her calling to live as a Religious and serve God.

At the age of 24 in the year 1862 Barbara entered the Order of the Sisters of St. Francis, upon receiving her habit she changed her name to Sister Marianne. When she made her religious Vows she began her work as a Sister by teaching in elementary schools, the years spent helping her mother with her younger siblings would prove invaluable.

As in many cases though Sister Marianne's life would take another turn as her skills were directed towards nursing and administration, but deep in her heart Marianne had a deep love for people which was shown by her compassionate nature towards all.

Like many Saints before her Sister Marianne became well known for her common sense attitude towards solving problems her approachable demeanor and gentle personality was loved by all. Once again though Sister Marianne's life would take yet another turn when she received a letter from a Priest requesting help in the Hawaiian Islands.

Mother Marianne along with some fellow Sisters set sail for Honolulu in 1883 where they would work as missionaries. Upon arriving both Mother Marianne and her Sisters were shocked at the deplorable state of the unhygienic hospitals, being very practical by nature Mother Marianne soon got to work and cleaned up the hospital used by those suffering with leprosy, a most dreaded and stigmatized disease.

The suffering of the lepers touched a deep chord in the heart of Mother Marianne but not only for the lepers but the family members who visited these diseased ravaged victims. This most compassionate of women then set about with her other Sisters to build a home for the children of the diseased lepers so that they too may be safe while at the same time stay in the vicinity of their ill parents.

Leprosy in those days was considered by some to be a punishment from God, Mother Marianne tried to counter act this terrible ignorance and the real fear that many had towards the lepers by educating those around her, while displaying a fearless courage in the knowledge that she too could catch this dreaded disease.

Nothing deterred this most wonderful woman, and upon learning that Fr. Damien had also contracted leprosy, Mother Marianne received him into her loving hospital community. Though this remarkable woman was fearless when confronting this disease not everyone had the same courage and upon a change in Government it was decided by the Governing body to exile the lepers to another colony. This was deeply disturbing to Mother Marianne but nonetheless she took up the challenge and went to serve and live amidst her loving community of leper victims, on the island of Molokai.

When Mother Marianne arrived it soon became evident that Fr. Damien did not have long to live and with her loving and compassionate heart she nursed this remarkable Priest while assuring him that his home for the boys would continue under her supervision. This quieted the ravaged body of Fr. Damien and he died peacefully a few months after Mother Marianne's arrival. Many lepers came to love Mother Marianne for her continual spirit of joy and compassion, she never made them feel unclean or unsightly. Her unfailing good spirits helped raise the spirits of all those around her, including her exhausted fellow Sisters.

Mother Marianne was to serve her community for the rest of her life, and unlike Fr. Damien she did not contract this dreaded illness but died of natural causes.

Mother Marianne Cope died in 1918.

Blessed Mother Marianne Cope was Beatified in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saint Peter the Apostle

A Reflection

Like many men Peter wanted to be seen as strong, courageous, tough and resolute. He was all these things yet paradoxically he was also, weak, cowardly, indecisive Peter was essentially the ultimate people pleaser, yet out of the twelve it was Peter who was chosen to become the leader.

When we look at the life of this great Apostle we must recognise that during his life span Peter underwent a metamorphosis that shook him to his very core and radically transformed him into a man of both courage and substance while still remaining the same Peter who would at times revert back to the attraction of a longing to be liked by the multitudes.

In order to recognise the fundamental changes that transpired within the heart and soul of Peter we must look at two events in his life which began a revolution within his very depths. The Peter that followed Jesus, listened to Jesus, lived with Jesus, ate with Jesus and who was befriended by Jesus, and who came to love Jesus for as Peter exclaimed when questioned, "he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." The Peter that could speak with such strength and conviction was spoken from a heart that had not yet been tested. During this time spent with Jesus, Peter was full of bravado and bluster a man more comfortable with action rather than prayer, a man intent upon proving his strength to all who accompanied him, including Jesus himself!

This was a man among men and he thrived in the company of his fellow Apostles and his friend Jesus, who intrigued but also baffled him, for Peter loved the commotion and roar of the crowds, he loved to be the centre of attention and the thrills that public life brought, yet so many times Jesus would insist that the mysteries he had shared with them must remain a secret. Peter was not given to thinking about things too much as the days were short and there was work to be done, after all he had spent his life as a fishermen, he knew what hard work meant. Deep thinking only left Peter perplexed, confused and frustrated, he preferred to speak less and do more, an action man in the true sense of the word.

When Jesus spoke about prayer, Peter listened with one ear, as he concentrated on more important issues, such as where they would sleep that night, what would they eat for the day and how was his family coping?..Should he return to his family or continue this journey with Jesus? All these things took much effort how could Peter find time to waste in prayer? There was too much to do! Even though for a short time Peter returned to his family he could not forget this man Jesus and his message...he also could not forget the words Jesus spoke to him which resonated in his heart and soul,"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Peter was not a fanciful man but he could no longer ignore these words which held the meaning to his existence and is the Word of life.

As Jesus traveled within his Ministry so did Peter, who followed in the Master's footsteps while keeping an eye out for anyone who may cause trouble, for was not Peter the strong one? He alone would make sure that nothing happened to Jesus for Peter was a man of action, when Peter roared everyone jumped, he was proud of his fierce courage. Though Peter loved to be seen as strong and forceful, yet the words Jesus spoke slowly took ground as Jesus spoke of the way to the Heavenly Kingdom with words Peter had never expected to hear, a way of living that puzzled him as Jesus spoke to the crowds, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land..." What was Peter to make of this kind of language and how could anyone live this message in the daily trials of life? These questions and more reverberated within the soul of Peter for one of Peter's great blessings was an insatiable curiosity a longing to know the all costs.

Because Peter believed that through Jesus one found eternal life, he was determined to ensure that nothing would happen to his beloved friend. So Peter would leave the praying to Jesus while he, a man of great physical strength would take the necessary action to protect Jesus and his fellow disciples. Nothing was going to happen to Jesus or his friends on Peters watch, he was proud of his strength for the many years he had toiled as a fisherman hauling on board vast quantities of fish caught within his net, Peter had the strength and disposition of an ox!

Peter was most comfortable on the sea, where he had learned his craft to perfection, so he was in his element when he, and the other disciples decided to cross the lake in a fishing boat. It was not long before a storm blew up and the disciples shivered in terror as the waves washed over them. Peter may have been able to earn his living by the sea but he could not tame it, so all the Apostles were amazed when they saw Jesus approach them, but was it Jesus or a ghost? With his usual bluster Peter took charge and asked Jesus to command him to walk on the water and meet him, which Jesus did, but then as the Word reveals, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Peter once again had relied on his own strength, he had not yet realised that his strength was totally reliant upon the Lord, he would soon learn this lesson in the most painful way.

When we look at the life of Peter it reveals a man both courageous yet at times terrified, a man of action, yet when faced with opposition he flees. A man of strength yet when it was called upon his weakness overcame him, a man who promises much yet failed to deliver what he had boasted, that he would stand beside Jesus while all others fled. The man who had no time for prayer soon found he had placed his 'faith' in himself.

Jesus had warned all his disciples what lay ahead of him, yet when the time came for his betrayal, the disciples were in disarray as Peter who had slept when Jesus had most needed him took his sword out and cut the ear off the slave of the High Priest, once again Peter chose action despite the message that Jesus had preached, had he not learned anything from his Master?

Once Jesus was arrested, and the disciples had fled the scene, Peter was left to himself, but still he could not leave Jesus entirely alone so he watched Jesus from a safe distance or so he thought. Peter was an emotional mess, a confused and frightened man, as thoughts raced through his head...what could one man do against such a horde? Everything Peter had depended upon now deserted him, when questioned by the crowds Peter denied ever knowing Jesus not just once but three times, and once again the words of Jesus resonated within Peters heart, "Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times."

Peter stood naked before his own perception of himself, he could barely tolerate his own company, yet still he kept his eye on Jesus as he kept his distance and a well spring of self disgust rose up in him, there was no hiding now. As Peter watched in the safety of the crowds as the fire warmed those around him yet the chillness within Peter's tormented heart found no warmth.

As the crowds gathered Peter was a man torn apart, a gut wrenching torment swept through him, he so loved Jesus, yet he had denied him..still he waited.

There but for a moment stood Jesus, bloodied, ragged, spittle running down his face, as he turned and looked upon Peter. A trembling Peter could not help himself, he gazed upwards towards Jesus where their eyes met.

The look that broke Peter's heart, that shattered forever his own belief in himself, that brought Peter to breaking point and to his knees. Peter found no condemnation in the Lords eyes, he found no censure...what Peter found was infinite love and mercy, when what he longed for was to receive what he deserved, instead he found... compassionate forgiveness.

Peter was a broken man, but his torment was not over as the tears gushed forth...he still had to face the mother of Jesus. This most holy of mothers, yet he had failed to keep any of his empty promises, how could he face this most holy and courageous of mothers? Peter looked within and found himself empty.

These were the darkest hours of Peter's life as he wept bitter tears so much so that deep grooves would remain on his face to remind him of his own failures and of God's greatness. What would he say to the mother of Jesus, how could he face her who had suffered such a grievous wound? What could he say? Peter's bluster had left him.

During these long and lonely hours as the disciples fled in every direction, more words came to Peter's heart, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers." Despite not living up to his promises Peter came to understand that it is God's Promise that matters, slowly he re-gathered his strength as he now relied upon the Word spoken by Jesus. In these painful hours he trusted in himself no longer and instead trusted God as he began to understand the power of prayer.

As the disciples gathered in their hiding place, where a stunned Mary Magdalene informed the disciples that Jesus was risen, still many of them scoffed at such a thought...Peter did not, he fled to the empty tomb, no longer fearful of being seen...Peter ran and found the tomb empty.

The day that Jesus was Crucified and died was the day that Peter began to live the Gospel message, no longer relying on his own strength but instead Peter kept his eyes on his Lord and Him Crucified!

We can only imagine the humiliating experience which faced Peter when he met up with his brother disciples, having failed to live up to his former boasts. We can only imagine the words shared between Peter and the mother of Jesus, when he also had to face her with his cowardice....Peter learnt the meaning of humility and then lived it.

There would be many more challenges that Peter would face as he continually confronted his indecisive nature, his need to please those around him.....Till he met one man who would join him in the mission entrusted to Peter, to spread the Good News to all people...that man was known as....Paul.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Saint Mary Magdalene

Mary of Magdala was a woman of character and of independent means, and like many women she was also tormented by the lifestyle she had embraced, fiercely driven on by the seven demons who seduced her senses and tempted her beyond her endurance.
This woman like many women with strong characters would have been rejected by the elite in her own society as she lived brazenly and openly but also with great inner loneliness which no amount of money nor dissolute company could assuage. Though Mary would have probably shown a bravado to the outside world, within her own soul she was tormented day and night, where was her release? Who could save one such as she?
"Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources."
The meeting between Jesus and Mary would change her life forever as she not only listened but lived what she heard from the Master, though no longer tormented or at the mercy of the demons which had possessed her soul, Mary still was a woman of commendable substance and character. Just as Mary Magdalene followed her Lord and Master, she also looked towards Mary Mother of Jesus and drew strength from the purity of heart and the humility of spirit shown by Mary most Holy. Through their love of Jesus one as Mother and the other as disciple, both Mary's would come to love and support the other as they journeyed alongside Jesus during his Ministry.
The Mother of Jesus would have been crucial factor in the developing character of Mary Magdalene, as she learnt to embrace humility, meekness and to serve others through love rather than be on the receiving end of those who had served her because she had employed them to do so. For when Jesus healed Mary He also started a revolution of love within the soul of Mary, a flame that burned with zealous love for the Truth espoused by Jesus, her Master and Messiah! This altered Mary's entire being and changed her lifestyle completely as she followed the one who had freed her from her torments, her beloved Master. Because Mary Magdalene was independently wealthy this also helped Jesus and his Apostles to continue His Ministry as Mary offered her support both spiritually and monetary as Jesus preached His Salvific message from village to village.
Mary Magdalene was also a woman of fierce courage, but like the mother of Jesus she too would have heard the rumours concerning her beloved Lord and Master as the tempest grew and those in high places plotted to destroy this man Jesus! Mary's unwavering devotion to Jesus never faltered, nor did Mary question her Savior as He spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, she accepted all for she knew that God did not lie, and unlike many others Mary did not question Jesus Divinity but accepted all on Faith.
Just as she had been healed Mary Magdalene witnessed all those who had been healed by the Master, and with great joy she rejoiced in their freedom just as she too had been freed. Though Mary rejoiced she also sensed the dark shadow which pursued her beloved Lord as the storm clouds gathered around Him, though her body trembled at what would happen to her beloved Jesus, yet her spirit was strong and unwavering.
Mary's courage would be tested to the limits as one of the twelve with deceit in his heart betrayed her beloved Lord into the hands of the despotic Sanhedrin. As Jesus wept alone and sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, both Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of Jesus kept vigil that long and lonely night at their place of lodging as morning dawned, while dark clouds enclosed around Jesus. Both Mary's arose and strode forth one to be with her beloved Son the other to stand alongside her beloved Lord.
Mary Magdalene's love and devotion for Jesus never faltered nor did self interest intercede Mary stood firm to the end irrespective of her personal safety. This unfaltering and total commitment to her Lord and Savior shows the true nature of Mary Magdalene a love so fierce that nothing would dispel it, not suffering, pain or even death...nothing would come between Mary and her beloved Master.
It was with horror and true anguish of heart as Mary Magdalene, alongside the Mother of Jesus and those closest to Jesus followed him as He was made to carry his own Cross to Golgotha. Mary would have heard the taunts thrown at her beloved Lord, she would have seen the spittle directed towards the Son of God, as she tried to protect and help Jesus beloved Mother while witnessing the dreadful journey of the one she loved with all her heart and soul....A love so pure that to this day it is misunderstood.
A woman who only a few years ago had been kept prisoner by her sinful lifestyle yet Jesus saw through her pain of heart and exorcised the demons that was demolishing her very being. Though not a prostitute Mary of Magdala had led a loose life. This woman knew she was witnessing the Crucifixion of her Lord and Savior the one who had lit a light of such spiritual depth that it would never be extinguished not by torture or death.
Mary Magdalene was a woman of immense fortitude, as she followed the path of blood left by her Lord as he reached Golgotha and nails were driven into his flesh. Mary's anguish of heart would have been almost undendurable if it were not for the fact that her love outweighed her pain and her fear. As Jesus was lifted upon the Cross to the derision of the crowds and the guards as they mocked him, one can imagine the immense strength it took for Mary a woman of uncommon valor to remain silent beneath the bloodied Cross of her Lord and Savior. As His life emptied and a sword pierced the soul of His beloved Mother, Mary most Holy.
As Jesus cried his last words, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; Mary's grief at the loss of her friend, Lord and Savior can never be expressed suffice to say that theirs was a friendship of such purity as to be untarnished by anything of a worldly nature. For upon being released from the seven demons Mary's entire being was also freed from the constraints of uninhibited passions as she embraced and lived Jesus Message in her own life.
Upon Jesus body being lowered into the loving embrace of his mournful and sorrowing Mother, Mary Magdalene and those who had stood beneath the Cross comforted each other as best they could, as they beheld the sight of the Mother as she held the bloodied and ravaged body of her beloved Son in her loving arms.
Just as Mary Magdalene had wept when she anointed our Lord's feet with her tears, now her tears were those of the heartbroken as she beheld the tortured body of her beloved friend and Savior. These tears would not be shed for long as Mary Magdalene followed the body of her Lord as he was laid in a borrowed tomb. Once the Sabbath was over Mary Magdalene with friends went once again to the tomb of Jesus in order to anoint His Body only to find his body gone!
It was to Mary his devoted friend and disciple that Jesus revealed himself as Risen and it was to Mary Magdalene who had the responsibility to inform the other disciples which she did. And so the words ring out through eternity...."I have seen the Lord,"....

Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saint Nicodemus & Saint Joseph of Arimathea

"Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him."Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.'"
Nicodemus was a studious and careful man and not given to flights of fancy, this is one of the reasons he was a respected body of the Sanhedrin, a well learned Pharisee. Which is why this man Jesus troubled him, perplexed him and soon enough, Nicodemus had to meet this mysterious man.
Though Nicodemus was curious to meet this man, Jesus, who had enacted amazing miracles, who preached that through Him sins are forgiven, who told of the Kingdom to come, and had embraced the downcasts and outcasts of society, still Nicodemus had his reputation to consider, what if he were seen to be speaking to a blasphemer, the repercussions would tarnish his good name perhaps beyond redemption?
Therefore Nicodemus played it careful, he went to see this man Jesus under cover of darkness in order to see for himself the claims that Jesus was making, could this be the Son of God? Though Nicodemus managed to speak with Jesus without being noticed he was left feeling even more confused than before upon listening to what Jesus had to say to his queries. Nicodemus probably spent the rest of the time studying the Torah and also watching and listening to Jesus from a distance, for what separated Jesus and Nicodemus was not distance but belief.
What Nicodemus was hearing meant an enormous revolution, a revolution of ultimate love and redemption not through our means but through God. Nicodemus was also a man torn apart as he realised that in order to embrace Jesus as the Son of God, he must leave his old safe life, a life he had built up over many years which had gained the respect of his contemporaries. How could he leave all that he had accrued over the years, the friends he had made within the Sanhedrin, and all for what exactly?
Nicodemus was a troubled man, for though he was a learned Pharisee he was not a hypocrite and he knew within his heart of hearts what he saw and heard, and slowly he began to live the Word he heard, 'born again'.

"Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for the Sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down....After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by."
Like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea had built up a solid reputation and had become a respectable Pharisee, well learned and just like Nicodemus, he too had a lot to lose if this man Jesus was simply yet another puff of wind, here today and gone tomorrow. So Joseph also followed Jesus in secret so as to observe this man and to then study the Torah seeking answers to the question lodged within his heart of hearts. What drove Joseph most though was fear of his contemporaries, as the whispers within the Sanhedrin would soon become a roar for the blood of Jesus, Son of God. So Joseph listened in secret to the Words of Jesus as he drew closer and closer to Jesus in the safe cocoon of anonymity. Like Nicodemus, Joseph knew that to openly support Jesus would bring down all the work he had spent a life time building, and to also be deserted by his 'friends' within the Sanhedrin, what was Joseph to do? Just as with Nicodemus, Joseph was not a hypocrite, but he was a careful man who had acquired vast wealth through shrewd and honest business dealings.
Though Jesus spent three years in Ministry to preach the Kingdom of God to all who would listen, working alongside his twelve Apostles, yet at the end of His life as Jesus breathed his last breath only one Apostle stood beneath the Cross. All the others had deserted their beloved Lord and God, but not Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea.
Upon the death of Christ, Joseph with great courage approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so he could bury him in his own tomb before the Sabbath began. These two men who had kept their distance through fear of the crowds found their courage as the crowds fled their beloved Master. It was Joseph and Nicodemus who alongside Jesus most Holy Mother buried him in a borrowed tomb, Josephs own place of rest. Throughout the Ministry of Jesus both Joseph and Nicodemus had kept their distance through fear, now at the death of the Son of God, both men found that their love of God surpassed their fear of man.
While the Apostles were in disarray Nicodemus and Joseph stepped forward, and lived what they had heard, seekers of the Truth, and understood a religion that kept men enchained by Law was no religion at all but a prison of the soul.
Through the death of Christ, Nicodemus and Joseph found God, for as Jesus had told Nicodemus, "The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." These two men became mighty in spirit through love of the one sent to save all of mankind.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saint Veronica

Veronica's Veil

There has always been much speculation about who exactly is Veronica and how she became so well known within the Catholic Church and its Traditions. Even though there is not much information about this gracious woman let us remember the compassion she showed to our Lord as He was led to his Crucifixion.

According to Catholic legend Veronica may have been the woman who Jesus healed when she touched his cloth as her suffering was intense. Veronica never forgot Jesus tender mercy in showing her such love in the face of stigmatization which she was subjected to for many years by her contemporaries who wanted nothing to do with her.

Upon hearing of this man Jesus and the outcome of his trial, Veronica journeyed into the streets so she could follow this man of sorrows. The sight that Veronica saw truly shocked and angered her as she witnessed the outright cruelty shown to this most merciful man, Jesus. Veronica continued to follow him as she wept openly at his cruel treatment, and remembered his tender words spoken to her as he healed her of her own pain and anguish.

It was when Jesus fell that Veronica moved to compassion and irrespective of her own safety or the thoughts of others, ran forward to assist this most tragic figure the bloodied body of our Saviour. Veronica through her own tears handed Jesus her cloth so he could wipe his face of the sweat, blood and spittle where many had spat their malice at Him. Veronica was heartbroken at the state of her beloved Lord and tried her hardest to aid Jesus in His need as He turned and looked at her with intense love and gratitude, before once again being whipped to keep moving. Veronica was thrown out of the way as our Lord continued his torturous path to Golgotha!

Veronica could not believe the hatred she saw amongst those who only a short while ago had thrown palms before his feet, how could such a thing happen to such a one as her beloved Lord. Veronica followed her Lord till she could bear no more and holding the cloth close to her heart she grieved the loss of this man, her beloved Lord and Saviour.

At a later time, Veronica who had kept the cloth which had the imprinted face of our Lord and Saviour upon it was told to go to Rome in order to help the Emperor Tiberius who was seriously ill. Upon placing the cloth upon his body Tiberius was instantly healed of his infirmity. The healing of Tiberius may have led to the political downfall of Pilate as he was sent into exile.

Eventually Veronica gave the most Holy veil with the imprint of our Lords face to Pope Clement to keep for the Faithful. But the painful memories of our Lords most cruel death would help Veronica to speak to all she met of the momentous Crucifixion of her Lord and Saviour, who died so that all men may be saved.

Though Veronica kept the cloth in which she wiped the face of our Lord, it is Jesus who captured her heart, and whom she loved till the end, as she spread the Gospel message of Salvation to all who would listen.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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