Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus taught in metaphor and allegory. He used the images and experiences that were accessible to the people with whom he spoke to make points about God, about himself, and about the relationship of people to God and himself. There is much I could write about the points that Jesus makes in this passage about his connection to us, but I would like to make a slightly different point that is implicit in how Jesus taught. The evidence of God’s relationship to us is all around us. It is so woven into the fabric of all the aspects of our lives that all the common things that furnish the ordinariness of our existence tells us something about the deep down things that constitute the presence of God in our lives. We only have to stop, look, and think, and we shall find God there, telling us things that we perhaps take for granted but things which are attention-grabbing and awe-inspiring when we consider them in the brightest light of our consciousness.
Saint of the day: William Southerne was an English Roman Catholic priest. He is a martyr, beatified in 1987. An alumnus and priest of the English College at Douai, he worked on the English mission mainly at Baswich, near Stafford, which then belonged to a branch of the Fowler family. He was arrested while saying Mass, and committed by a neighboring justice to Stafford gaol.
He was immediately sentenced to death for being a Catholic priest and refusing to take the oath of allegiance. He remained in prison for six days after condemnation, while a hangman was found. He was executed at Newcastle-under-Lyme on April 30, 1618.
Spiritual reading: Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God. (Ignatius of Loyola)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Each year on the fourth Sunday of Easter, the Church gives us a passage from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Parable of the Good Shepherd. For this reason, we call the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. This year, the passage we read tells us about the relationship between the sheep and the good shepherd through contrast and comparison.
At the start of the passage, Jesus contrasts the good shepherd with hired men who work for pay and are not willing to lay their lives down for the sheep because the sheep do not belong to them. Jesus is no such shepherd: the sheep belong to him and for this reason, he is ready to lay down his life to protect them. Then Jesus compares his relationship to the Father with the good shepherd’s relationship to the sheep. Just as he knows the Father and trusts the Father because of this knowledge, the sheep know the good shepherd and trust the good shepherd because of this knowledge.
Finally, the passage speaks to the ultimate triumph of Jesus’ message. In the end, all will be one: there will be one flock led by the good shepherd. We are still in this period of middle passage, but we are assured through Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life on our behalf that the triumph already has occurred. We are in the, “Already, but Not Yet,” the time when God is working out in human history the tangled strands that ultimately will be the single web of the victory of God’s unity over our disparate impulses and interests.
Spiritual reading: I should carry on in myself the life of Jesus: think his thoughts, repeat his words, his actions. May it be he that lives in me. I must be the image of Our Lord in his hidden life: I must proclaim, by my life, the Gospel from the rooftops. (Charles de Foucauld)
Gospel reading of the day:
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Peter asks the Lord, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” It is this experience that we who are Christian know in the depths of our hearts, that Christ is our perfect model, and there is no other, none beside him. Jesus today invites us to let the mystery of him deepen in our hearts as we probe his unbounded depths.
Saint of the day: The protomartyr of the South Seas, St. Peter Chanel was born in 1803 at Clet in the diocese of Belley, France. His intelligence and simple piety brought him to the attention of the local priest, Father Trompier, who saw to his elementary education. Entering the diocesan Seminary, Peter won the affection and the esteem of both students and professors. After his ordination he found himself in a rundown country parish and completely revitalized it in the three year span that he remained there. However, his mind was set on missionary work; so, in 1831, he joined the newly formed Society of Mary (Marists) which concentrated on missionary work at home and abroad. To his dismay, he was appointed to teach at the seminary at Belley and remained there for the next five years, diligently performing his duties.
In 1836, the Society was given the New Hebrides in the Pacific as a field for evangelization, and the jubilant St. Peter was appointed Superior of a little band of missionaries sent to proclaim the Faith to its inhabitants. On reaching their destination after an arduous ten month journey, the band split up and St. Peter went to the Island of Futuna accompanied by a laybrother and an English layman, Thomas Boog. They were at first well received by the pagans and their king Niuliki who had only recently forbidden canabalism. However, the kings jealousy and fear were aroused when the missionaries learned the language and gained the people’s confidence; he realized the adoption of the Christian Faith would lead to the abolition of some of the prerogatives he enjoyed as both highpriest and sovereign.
Finally, when his own son expressed a desire to be baptized, the king’s hatred erupted and he dispatched a group of his warriors to set upon the saintly head of the missionaries. Thus, on
April 28, 1841, three years after his arrival, St. Peter was seized and clubbed to death by those he had come to save. And his death brought his work to completion – within five months the entire island was converted to Christianity.
Spiritual reading: Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true. (Thomas Merton)
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Eucharist is entry into the very life and being of Jesus. Just as Jesus humbled himself to enter into all the messiness of the human condition, he renews his commitment to be among us in a very tactile and sensate way every time we celebrate Eucharist. Here the Lord continues to join and renew his presence among Christians in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup. And it is in this that he extends us his commitment never to leave us orphans.
Saint of the day: Saint Zita was born in 1212 in Tuscany in the village of Monsagrati, not far from Lucca where, at the age of 12, she became a servant in the Faintinelli household. For a long time, she was unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten by her employers and fellow servants for her hard work and obvious goodness. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her respect for her employers. By this meek and humble self-restraint, Zita at last succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house. Her faith had enabled her to persevere against their abuse, and her constant piety gradually moved the family to a religious awakening.
Zita often said to others that devotion is false if slothful. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance, and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.
One anecdote relates a story of Zita giving her own food or that of her master to the poor. On one morning, Zita left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need. Some of the other servants ensured the Fatinelli family was aware of what happened; when they went to investigate, they claimed to have found angels in the Fatinelli kitchen, baking the bread for her.
Zita died peacefully in the Fatinelli house on April 27, 1272. It is said that a star appeared above the attic where she slept at the moment of her death. She was 60 years old, and had served and edified the family for 48 years. By her death, she was practically venerated by the family. After one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession were juridically proven, she was canonized in 1696.
Spiritual reading: God who is infinite, all powerful, has become human, the least of human beings. My way is always to seek the lowest place, to be as little as my Master, to walk with him step by step as a faithful disciple. My way is to live with my God who lived this way all his life and who has given me such an example from his very birth. (Charles de Foucauld)
Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Eucharist stands at the center of our lives and our worship. It is the touchstone at each moment of our lives. It is a part of our entry into the life of the church, the means to the end we seek, our passage into the life of the world, and the sign of our hope for eternal life. Those who eat ordinary bread live for what time bread can sustain their lives, but the bread of heaven is sustenance for the journey of endless horizons.
Saint of the day: Giovanni Battista Piamarta was born into a poor family in Brescia, Italy on November 26, 1841 and was given a sound Christian upbringing. He entered the seminary in 1860 and was ordained a priest in 1865. Fr. Piamarta focused on young people, work and families, He first worked enthusiastically with youth in rural parishes and later in Brescia. He was distinguished for his zeal and dedication to children, to the sick, and to spiritual direction. The surrounding social scene spurred him to create an institution for workers’ children. Aided by Mons. Pietro Capretti, he founded the Istituto Artigianelli. Its aim was to give boys, especially the destitute, a Christian and professional training with which to face the new industrial society. In spite of many great difficulties, he organized workshops for the different skills and built housing for 100 children. He was like a father to his boys and gave them a deeply religious upbringing. To alleviate the extreme poverty of the peasants who were emigrating to distant America, he founded, with Fr. Bonsignori, an agricultural colony in Remedello to teach and experiment with new farming techniques, which notably increased the productivity of the soil and attracted farmers from Italy and abroad. To ensure the continuity of this work, he founded the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1902. With his mother, he also paved the way for the foundation of a female congregation, the Humble Servants of the Lord. Fr. Piamarta relied on continuous prayer and total trust in divine Providence and always gave priority to the spiritual and material well-being of others. He died in Fr. Bonsignori’s arms in Remedello on April 25, 1913, surrounded by his brothers. He can be considered a father for the young, an example for priests and religious, a model for teachers, an interceder for families and the defender of workers. Along with Kateri Tekakwitha, Marianne Cope, and several others, Fr. Piamarta will be canonized in October 2012.
Spiritual reading: Unless we believe and see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor. (Mother Teresa)
Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: When we love someone, we wrap our arms around that person. Jesus comes to gather all of us into his arms. He has received a mission from the Father to save us for the Father and himself. God, who can do all things, does not undertake lightly the mission of working out our road to Godself because God’s arms exist to wrap themselves around us.
Saint of the day: A John Mark first appears in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:12), after Peter was miraculously released from prison. When Peter realized that he was really free he made his way to the house of Mary, who was the mother of John Mark and whose house seems to have been a meeting place for Jerusalem Christians. At the end of the same chapter, we are told that Saul and Barnabas who had earlier gone to Jerusalem on a relief mission to provide food for the Christians there had returned to Antioch bringing John Mark with them. Soon after this, Barnabas and Paul were chosen by the community in Antioch to go on a missionary enterprise, known now as Paul’s First Missionary Journey. They sailed from the nearby port of Seleucia and went first to Salamis on the island of Cyprus. And they brought John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, with them. From Salamis they went on to Paphos at the other end of the island, where they converted the governor to Christianity.
From Paphos the missionaries left Cyprus and went on to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, on the south coast of what is now Turkey. It was here we are told John Mark left Barnabas and Paul and returned to Jerusalem although the reason is not given. Later, when Barnabas and Saul were setting out on their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. Paul, however, was not willing to take Mark because he had left them at Perga on their first mission. This caused a serious disagreement between Barnabas and Paul. Barnabas left Paul and, taking his cousin John Mark with him, went back to Cyprus. Paul then took Silas as his missionary companion.
Relations seem to have improved subsequently because in Paul’s Letter to the Christians at Colosse, Paul writes: “Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you greetings and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.” In the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul writes: “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he can help me in the work…” In the short Letter to Philemon, Mark is cited as one of the helpers of Paul. And at the end of the First Letter of Peter we read: “Your sister church in Babylon [a code word for Rome], also chosen by God, sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark.”
There is also a tradition that Mark was the founder of the Church in Alexandria, in northern Egypt.
The writing of the second gospel is also attributed to Mark but it is not absolutely certain that it is the same person. (The authorship of ancient texts is always tricky.) The gospel was probably written in Rome before 60 AD and there are certainly indications that John Mark was there at the time. It was written in Greek and directed to Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition says that Mark was requested by the Christians of Rome to set down the teachings of Peter. This seems confirmed by the position which Peter has in this gospel. The gospel is thus understood as a record of the mission of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Peter. It is also the first gospel to be written and both Matthew and Luke in their longer gospels certainly borrow extensively from Mark. Mark’s gospel is one of the most lively and readable accounts with more emphasis on the actions of Jesus, where Jesus teaches more by what he does than what he says.
Spiritual reading: I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time–waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me. (C. S. Lewis)
The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus invites us in this passage to become one with him, to pitch our tents with him as he pitched his tent among us. The commitment he asks of us us a commitment of our whole persons, both what we believe and what we do as the result of our belief. It is an invitation not to participate in the Eucharist and nothing else; we are called to be people immersed in the Scriptures, people who are available for the poor and needy, people who live prayerfully. The communion to which Jesus invites us is one where we are immersed in the Lord’s own life.
Saint of the day: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis of Sigmaringen would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint’s life.
Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed “the poor man’s lawyer,” Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor.
As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers.
He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions.
He was accused of opposing the peasants’ national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God’s hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed.
He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.
Spiritual reading: If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark. (John of the Cross)
After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea. The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Today and across the next several days, the church reflects on Jesus’ discourse in the gospel of John concerning the bread of life. This discourse immediately follows Jesus’ use of a few loaves to feed the multitudes. Those of us who believe in Jesus within churches that have strong Eucharistic traditions easily see in the discourse on the bread of life many metaphors and allegories for the Eucharist. Jesus understands that we need food to sustain ourselves, and in his age, food was not always present in abundance. The people look for him because the hunger of their bodies draw them to him, but Jesus hastens to tell the people that the hunger of their spirits should be the reason they seek him. So it is in our lives. God is not unaware that our bodies need sustenance. God is not insensitive to our physical wants and needs. But God is wholly conscious that we often lose sight of the deepest, most permanent things as we strive to satisfy the transient ones. Let us ask God that we may persevere in our pursuit of God and the things that are of God, the bread that endures.
Saint of the day: Opposition to the Good News of Jesus did not discourage Adalbert, who is now remembered with great honor in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Germany.
Born in 956 to a noble family in Bohemia, he received part of his education from St. Adalbert of Magdeburg. At the age of 27 he was chosen as bishop of Prague. Those who resisted his program of clerical reform forced him into exile eight years later.
In time, the people of Prague requested his return as their bishop. Within a short time, however, he was exiled again after excommunicating those who violated the right of sanctuary by dragging a woman accused of adultery from a church and murdering her.
After a short ministry in Hungary, he went to preach the Good News to people living near the Baltic Sea. He and two companions were martyred in 997 by pagan priests in that region. Adalbert’s body was immediately ransomed and buried in Gniezno cathedral (Poland). In the mid-11th century his relics were moved to St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
Spiritual reading: Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! (Augustine of Hippo)
Gospel reading of the day:
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: In the gospel reading from the third Sunday of Easter, we have Luke’s account of Easter night. The two disciples who met Jesus on the road of Emmaus have returned to Jerusalem to share their experience. Suddenly, as these disciples narrate their account, Jesus himself appears in their midst.
Jesus wishes them peace, but they are disturbed, because they believe they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus quickly reassures them that he is no ghost but flesh, bones, and sinews. When Jesus offers the peace to his followers, the Greek narrative omits a verb. Since we don’t know what the verb is, we can interpret the account in one of two ways: Jesus may be offering a wish that his disciples feel peace (“Peace be with you”), or he may be making a statement about who he is (“Peace is with you”). Indeed, the disciples after their initial fear experience joy and amazement in the presence of the Lord.
Just as Jesus did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he explains to the apostles what the scriptures had revealed about why nothing that had occurred was a surprise: the scriptures foretold that his death and resurrection would take place for the reconciliation of God and humanity. Jesus charged the disciples in Jerusalem, as witnesses of these things, to tell all nations what they had seen and heard. We then, as the children begotten in spirit by the word the disciples heard that Easter night, also are charged to teach the nations, beginning in our own local communities, what it is that we know with the eyes of faith.
Spiritual reading: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
Gospel reading of the day:
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.
Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage follows immediately after the miracle of the loaves which was yesterday’s gospel passage. In this passage, the apostles have set out by boat for the other shore, and a storm tosses their vessel. Jesus walks on water, and when the apostles see this, naturally, they are afraid. But Jesus tells them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” The words It is I are no mere indication of, “Hey, it’s only me,” but instead, they reflect what God told Moses in the burning bush, “I AM.” Though we may be tossed about on the storm of life, we can count on God’s presence, and in God’s presence, we are safe and need not be afraid.
Saint of the day: Anselm of Canterbury was born of Italian nobility in 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont, Italy. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, Anselm wanted to enter religious life, but his father prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon his mother’s death, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France, and became a Benedictine monk in Normandy. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as abbot. Anselm became the Archbishop of Canterbury. A theological writer and great scholar, he a counselor to William the Conqueror. He opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He fought King William Rufus’s encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, and was exiled. He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at Council of Bari in 1098. He strongly supported celibate clergy. King Henry I invited him to return to England, but they disputed over investitures, and Anselm was exiled again to return in 1106. He is one of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages and Catholic students of philosophy and theology continue to study his arguments to this day. He died April 21, 1109 at Canterbury, England; his body is believed to be in the cathedral church at Canterbury.
Spiritual reading: I have never seen you, my Lord God, or known your face. What shall I do, Highest Lord, what shall this exile do, banished far from you as he is? What should your servant do, desperate as he is for your love yet cast away from your face? He longs to see you, and yet your face is too far away from him. He wants to come to you, and yet your dwelling place is unreachable. He yearns to discover you, and he does not know where you are. He craves to seek you, and does not know how to recognize you. Lord, you are my Lord and my God, and I have never seen you. You have made me and nurtured me, given me every good thing I have ever received, and I still do not know you. I was created for the purpose of seeing you, and I still have not done the thing I was made to do. (Proslogion by Anselm)