Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 3, 2013

ee1e95e9e809e5d6bcec384003243e34_w600_h600_scaledGospel reading of the day:

John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Love lifts us all up. When we accept with joy the presence of another, whether or not that other is a close member of our family or a nameless homeless person in the street, we have fulfilled Jesus’ commandment to love. Jesus tells us in this passage that the ability to look beyond appearances and value the worth and dignity of another person without reservation regardless of their circumstances is liberating. It is our ability to love with abandon that liberates us so that we no are longer slaves. We who love Jesus may believe we have made a choice to love him, but Jesus assures us in this passage that we were chosen by him to love. Martin Luther once famously enunciated the principle, sola scriptura to suggest that it is by scripture alone that we are drawn to salvation and holiness. I disagree: it is love that saves us and makes us holy.

Saint of the day: A contemporary of Therese of Lisieux and Charles de Foucauld, Pauline Elisabeth Arrighi was born in Paris on October 16, 1866 to a wealthy bourgeois French family of Corsican descent. She had had hepatitis as a child, and it recurred throughout her life with attacks of varying severity. She met Félix Leseur (1861–1950), also from an affluent, Catholic family in 1887. Shortly before they married on July 31, 1889, Elisabeth discovered that Félix, who was a physician, was no longer a practicing Catholic. Félix soon became well known as un_portrait_d_elisabeth_leseur_largethe editor of an anti-clerical, atheistic newspaper in Paris. Félix and Elisabeth Leseur’s marriage was a happy one. Well-to-do by birth and marriage, Elisabeth Leseur was a part of a social group that was cultured, educated, and generally anti-religious.

When Elisabeth was able, she worked on charitable projects for poor families and funded other charitable activities. She was concerned about the poor and the least, but her deteriorating health restricted her ability to respond to this concern after 1907. In 1907 her health deteriorated to the extent that she was forced to lead a primarily sedentary life, receiving visitors and directing her household from a chaise lounge. In 1911 she had surgery and radiation for a malignant tumor, recovered, and then was bedridden by July of 1913. She died from generalized cancer in May of 1914.

Elisabeth Leseur underwent a religious conversion when she was 32 and already married. From the beginning, she organized her spiritual life around a disciplined pattern of prayer, meditation, reading, sacramental practice, and writing. Charity was the organizing principle of her asceticism. In her approach to mortification, she followed Francis de Sales who recommended moderation and ÉLISABETH AND FÉLIX LESEURinternal, hidden strategies instead of external practices. Understanding that faith was a gift that only God could give, she trusted in the power of prayer and had a profound sense of the communion of saints. Her correspondence with Soeur Marie Goby was a source of companionship and mutual spiritual support for both women. The letters were written between 1911 until shortly before Elizabeth’s death on May 3, 1914. Soeur Marie Goby was a nun of the Hospitaller Sisters who worked with the sick and injured.

Elisabeth Leseur’s husband, inconsolable in his grief, was converted by Elisabeth’s writings and an uncanny sense of her presence after her death. Félix subsequently published his wife’s journal, Journal et Pensees pour Chaque Jour; and due to its Felix Leseur, OPfavorable reception, a year later in 1918, published his wife’s letters to Soeur Goby under the title of Lettres sur la Souffrance. In the fall of 1919, Félix became a Dominican novice. He was ordained in 1923 and spent much of his remaining 27 years publicly speaking about his wife’s spiritual writings. He was instrumental in opening the cause for Elisabeth’s beatification as a saint. In the year 1924, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who would later become an archbishop and popular American television and radio figure, made a retreat under the direction of Fr. Leseur. During many hours of spiritual direction, Sheen learned of the life of Elisabeth and the conversion of Félix. Sheen subsequently repeated this conversion story in many of his presentations. The cause for the canonization of Elisabeth Leseur was started in 1934. She is currently called, Servant of God.

Spiritual reading: Providence has granted us . . . a sweet treat, and it is necessary to enjoy it immensely, to say than you, and to be transformed by the gift of self, devotion, generosity, and experienced joys. And it is also necessary when these joys are replaced by pain, to accept them with the same smile in one’s heart and be just as generous in serving another. (Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur)


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