Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 18, 2013

0ff22a866ae54f3b05900767c7f72d7e_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 6:44-51

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: Jesus is our sustenance. By allowing his life to permeate our lives, we come alive. There have been many wonderful and wise people throughout the ages, Confucius, the Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, and their wisdom can instruct and enlighten, but Jesus alone is food for the journey. Jesus alone is the life that gives life, not just wisdom for a moment in time, but a person whose existence flows through us and is closer to us than we are to ourselves.

Saint of the day: Cornelia Connelly, born Cornelia Peacock, was the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, a religious congregation of women. She was born in Philadelphia in 1809, began her conversion to Catholicism in the southern part of the United States, and in 1846 founded the first of many Holy Child schools, in England.

Cornelia_ConnellyAfter both her parents’ deaths, she came to live with her older sister and her sister’s husband. Despite her families protests, she married Pierce Connelly, an Episcopal priest, in December 1831, and the two moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Pierce had accepted the rectorship of the Holy Trinity Episcopal church. During this time their family grew, and experienced tragedy. In early 1840, still grieving the death of a baby daughter while living in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Cornelia made her first retreat of three days. God touched her deeply, and her interior life was profoundly changed. In February, her two-year old son John Henry was playing with his dog when the dog accidentally pushed him into a vat of boiling sugar. He died of severe burns in Cornelia’s arms after 43 hours. From this anguish Cornelia’s lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of Sorrows was born.

When Cornelia was pregnant with their fifth child in October of the same year, Pierce told her he felt called to the Catholic priesthood. Despite their youth, Cornelia agreed to move to Rome. Soon afterward Rev. Connelly elected to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood, where in July 1845 Pierce was ordained. After considerable prayer and soul-searching, Cornelia too found a calling to serve God. She went with just two of her children to Rome hoping to join the Society of the Sacred Heart. With a higher ordained priest’s help she applied to create a new teaching religious institute.

In 1846, the new Foundress, with her two youngest children and three companions, arrived in Derby. The Society of the Holy Child Jesus had begun. Its beginning was small and there were many deprivations, but a spirit of joy and peace prevailed; Cornelia was able to inspire in her sisters something of her own serenity in adversity. Soon they were running schools for the poor and needy, and holding day, night, and Sunday classes to accommodate the young factory workers. The institute, whose constitution is based on that of the Jesuits, remains devoted to teaching young women, and operates schools primarily in the United States.

venerable-cornelia-connelly-01As her Society grew and her work in education flourished, great personal anguish returned when Pierce renounced his priesthood and his Catholic faith and came to England to regain custody of their children. He removed them from the schools they were attending and denied Cornelia all contact with them, hoping thus to force her to return to him as his wife. He even pressed a lawsuit against her that gained notoriety in England, but the courts rejected his claim after a retrial.

Cornelia Connelly died on April 18, 1879, at St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, where she had established a school. Today, the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus are active in 14 countries, striving to live the apostolic life as Cornelia did, seeking to meet the wants of the age through works of spiritual mercy. They are engaged in education and related spiritual and pastoral ministries. In 1992, the Catholic Church proclaimed Cornelia as Venerable.

Spiritual reading: All we can do at Eucharist is kneel in gratitude and then stand in confidence. Actually, St Augustine said that the proper Christian posture for prayer was standing, because we no longer had to grovel before such a God or fear any God that is like Jesus. (Richard Rohr)


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