Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 17, 2013

do-you-love-meGospel reading of the day:

John 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In this passage Jesus contrasts the difference between life before and after a commitment to him. At the core of the passage is the question Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” It is the question which Jesus asks me today. It is the question which Jesus poses to you today. “Do you love me?” Jesus asks the question knowing that it is the decisive question, the question that goes to the essence of why we are alive. The real answer to the question decides every other issue in our lives: what we do when we get up in the morning, what we read, how we treat one another, our relationship to the needy, what we do before we go to bed at night. In the passage, Jesus contrasts the two kinds of people in the world. There are people who dress themselves and go where they want and there are people whose lives lead them to let someone else dress them and lead them where they do not want to go. In other words, people who do not love Jesus live lives on their own terms, and people who love Jesus follow the radical promptings of the Spirit. I suppose a good many of us are somewhere between those two extremes, and so Jesus continues to ask today, “Do you love me?”

Saint of the day: A Romanian Orthodox prince born in 1873, Vladimir Ghika converted to Catholicism in 1902. An ardent contemplative and active on all fronts, in diplomacy, charity and the apostolate, he became a priest, then a prelate in 1931. While still a layman, the Prince obtained two doctorates in Rome, in philosophy and theology. His writings harmoniously blend the poetry of an oriental spirit with theological rigour. He died a martyr in Romania in 1954 and his writings have been a real influence on the foundation of our Religious Family. His ghika2beatification process has just been opened. Born in a palace in Constantinople on Christmas Day, 1873, he was the grandson of the last sovereign of Moldova. A Romanian Orthodox prince, of French origins through his mother, he received a refined education, which put him in touch with the internationale elite. During his brilliant studies in Toulouse and Paris, he converted to Catholicism in 1902.

His conversion saw the beginning of his intense missionary and charitable work. Among other things, he founded the house of the Daughters of Charity in Bucharest and helped all the poor people that Providence placed in his way. As a layman, he consecrated a large part of his life to prayer and his doctrinal formation. In Rome, he obtained from the Dominican university his licence in philosophy and doctorate of theology in 1905. Pope St. Pius X persuaded him not to become a priest for the time being, because of his aged mother. But the saintly pope had appreciated the qualities of the Prince and encouraged him to develop his apostolate as a layman, as his prestige was so great among his Orthodox brothers.

World War One saw him struggle with all sorts of misery, as well as diplomacy. In 1923, at the age of 50, by special permission from Pope Pius XI who had a great reespect for him, he was ordained priest. He devoted himself with unimaginable activity to the service of all souls. Catholic or Orthodox, rich or poor, mystics or blasphemers would be the friends of this shepherd of royal blood, indefatigable traveler, traversing up to a quarter of the planet to help a single soul…”Don’t try and do a great work on your own,” he wrote, “but be a tool of happiness.” He took this “happiness” into the “zone rouge” of the Parisian suburb where he installed himself in a little railway shed on waste ground in Villejuif. His heroism and his gentleness did miracles, leading to the foundation of the parish of Villejuif. Cardinal Verdier, archbishop of Paris, appreciated the qualities of his “Prince Vincent-de-Paul” and put him in charge of the foreigners’ church in the VLADIMIR GHIKArue de Sèvres, responsible for refugees of all races and ranks. An admired writer, imitated as a spiritual director, he renewed his acquaintance with Parisian high society which could help him in his new task: Maritain, Claudel, Mauriac, H. Bordeaux, Francis Jammes, Bergson and Fr Garrigou-Lagrange would have been among his closest friends.

Monsignor Ghika founded a “Fraternity of Saint John”, which he installed in the Abbey of Auberive in Haute-Marne in 1926. This religious family of priests, sisters and lay people developed rapidly. But unhappy circumstances put an end to the community in just four years. Whatever his supernatural qualities, the Prince was not a born organiser! This setback was the heaviest burden the Prince had to bear in his entire life. World War Two found him in Romania. The terrible bombardment of Bucharest in 1944 showed his heroic devotion. Communism was installed in Romania in 1948, and King Michael invited Mgr. Ghika to follow him into exile in Paris. But audaciously, Mgr. Ghika continued to celebrate Mass publicly in Bucharest, comforting, converting and baptising. In 1952, at 80 years of age, he was arrested and disappeared into oblivion in the Julava prison. He died a martyr on May 17, 1954. A decree of martyrdom was promulgated on March 27, 2013.

Spiritual reading: If you can’t pick yourself off the floor spiritually, the solution is an attitude of gratitude. You must begin to recount all the good things in your life and thank God for them. This always uncovers a spring of joy in the soul. Being thankful is the best medicine. (Taylor Marshall)

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