Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 29, 2013

9f2693d1a7d8ac6abf7ea66f9dca8654_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 14:21-26

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

13d83acaa158e93637181100d56b7db8_w600Reflection on the gospel reading: Pentecost this year falls on May 13, 2013, and we begin now our preparations for the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father sends to us in Jesus’ name. The Holy Spirit still moves among us to reveal truths to us that we are not prepared to hear: if the Holy Spirit has something to say to us, it’s safe to say that whether or not we’re prepared to hear it, the truth the Holy Spirit wants to tell is the only truth worth hearing. This is the same Spirit who led Jesus into the desert to be tempted, the same Spirit that deprived the Son of Man of a place to lay his head for three years, the same Spirit which spoke of suffering and death to Jesus in the Garden, and the same Spirit which led Jesus to the cross.

In an age that has technology that looks into the inner workings of the human brain, in an age that has technology that peers out to the origins of the universe in deepest space, in an age that has uncovered and understood evidence about the migrations of early humans out of Africa into the rest of the world, are we, knowing the truth is frequently unsettling and painful, prepared to understand what the Holy Spirit is teaching us about the mysteries of our humanity and God’s loving creative continuing presence?

Saint of the day: Elisabeth was born on May 25, 1851, in a humble dwelling situated on the Main Rural Road of La Presentation, a town not far from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. She was the fourth of eleven children born to Théophile Bergeron and Basiliste Petit. Her parents were poor and could not allow her to go to school very long. However, she was not lacking initiative. Thus, at the age of eight, she decided she would ‘walk to catechism classes’ and ‘make her first communion’ like her brother Octave who was eleven years old. She ran away from home, pleaded with the parish priest and, finally, succeeded in convincing her father. Elisabeth got what she wanted : she received communion for the first time on the same day as her brother.

2 ElisabethBergeronfondatricedesSoeursdeSaint-Joseph_fWhen she was fourteen, she wanted to enter the community of the Sisters of Charity of St. Hyacinthe but the Superior General said she was too young. Consequently, she stayed with her parents. When they became expatriates and settled in the United States because of the economic crisis, she moved with them. First in Brunswick, New Hampshire and then in Salem, Massachusetts, Elisabeth discovered her talents as a catechist. In the evenings, after a long day of work in the cotton mill, she found both the time and the enthusiasm to teach her immigrant compatriots the essential elements of the Catholic faith. In March 1870, the Bergerons were able to return to their own country with some savings that gave them a bit of security. Clarisse, Elisabeth’s younger sister, was by that time an excellent housekeeper. Elisabeth returned to her former dreams.

Confidently, Elisabeth went first of all to the Sisters of Mercy, then to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, and finally to the Adorers of the Precious Blood; but she failed at every one of her attempts to enter the convent. She was not discouraged and decided instead to put all of this into God’s hands, and God called her to undertake a project way beyond her imagination. For some time, the bishop of St. Hyacinthe was saddened by the plight of the rural schools: the teachers were too few and inadequately educated. He already knew Elisabeth Bergeron and invited her to come and see him. He told her about his wish that she found a congregation of teaching sisters for the poor children living out in the country. Elisabeth immediately exclaimed: ‘But, I’m not educated!’ This did not trouble the bishop. He thought of the ignorance of the apostles who, nevertheless, founded the Church. Elisabeth accepted in faith and surrendered to the will of God.

elisab10On September 12, 1877, Elisabeth Bergeron founded, with three companions more educated than herself, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Saint Hyacinthe. They moved into the abandoned schoolhouse in the town of La Providence (now a part of St. Hyacinthe). Their poverty was extreme, but their joy was great. On September 17, the new school welcomed eighty pupils, boys and girls, who were divided into two groups since there were only two teaching sisters. Elisabeth encouraged the children to learn and talked to them about God. She also saw to the numerous material tasks in order to relieve the teachers.

At the outset named Superior of the new Congregation, she held this responsibility for only two years. On the second anniversary of the founding, Bishop Moreau designated a sister who was more educated to replace her. This, Elisabeth accepted wholeheartedly. From then on, she served either as the Assistant Superior or General Councillor until 1925. By her life totally given for the service of others, Elisabeth was an example for her sisters. Neither retirement, illness, nor death prevented her from radiating God’s peace, joy, and tenderness. She died on April 29, 1936 and was declared venerable in 1996.

Spiritual reading: The sense of futility is one of the greatest evils of the day . . . People say, “What can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?” They cannot see that we can only lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. (Dorothy Day)


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