Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on December 14, 2013

Gospel of the day:

Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; 000stetienne-712267-bmpbut I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Reflection on the gospel: This gospel passage recalls Jesus’ descent from the mount of transfiguration, which intimated Jesus’ resurrection, and the passage describes Jesus’ prediction that he had to die. In the Advent season, we can easily become distracted by portraits of the Bright Babe cradled lovingly in his mother’s arm. But there is another and deeper story behind the gauzy pictures of shepherds and wise men who come to pay homage. This child whose birth we celebrate comes to us with a very specific mission, to suffer, die, and rise.

Saint of the day: Born Catherine Kolyschkine in 1896, the Servant of God Catherine De Hueck Doherty grew up in the aristocratic privilege of Czarist Russia. She traveled throughout Europe with her parents. At fifteen, she was married to her cousin, Baron Boris De Hueck, an arranged marriage. During World War I, they both served in the army, he an officer and she a nurse. She was decorated for bravery under fire. As Russia collapsed, they returned to St. Petersburg, where they found “nothing to eat.” Forced to rummage through garbage cans, they were attacked as “aristocrats.” They escaped from Russia, hiding along the way in pig sties. Westerners, she insisted, couldn’t understand real starvation, “never having really experienced its complete absence.”

Catherine DohertyFinding refuge in England, she was received into the Catholic Church in November 1919. Raised Orthodox, she had been taught by Catholic nuns at an early age. From there, she and Boris made their way to Canada, where the two would eventually divorce. In New York, she sought work, not a cause. A lecture bureau asked her to speak on pre-revolutionary Russia, with a handsome salary. Then, all of a sudden it seemed, she gave it up to go live with the poor in the middle of the Great Depression. She began her work in Canada and came back to New York. Two things shocked her: the extent of white racism, and living conditions in Harlem. At Columbia University, she asked a professor why African-Americans weren’t discussed. He responded: “Oh, we don’t study the Negro. We study American history.” The United States, she wrote, “had this marvelous Constitution, but it doesn’t apply to Negroes.” In Harlem, she found “a no-man’s land of fear and doubt.” Where was God in it all? she asked. In 1938, she founded Friendship House, an interracial apostolate dedicated to fighting segregation. Like her friend Dorothy Day, the “B.” (the Baroness) as they called her, attracted idealistic young people nationwide.

Advocating Civil Rights could be as deadly as revolutionary Russia. She was spit at and called a “nigger lover.” At a Catholic women’s group, she was berated for eating “with dirty niggers.” When a woman told her, “You smell of the Negro,” Catherine lost her temper: “And you stink of hell!” Once at a lecture in Savannah, she was nearly beaten to death by a group of white Catholic women. “You have to preach the Gospel,” Catherine said, “without compromise or shut up. One or the other. I tried to preach it without compromise.” One of her key supporters was New York’s Cardinal Patrick J. Hayes, who was “always worried” about her. Later Catherine would remarry and move back to Canada, where she continued to be involved in apostolic work. But wherever she worked, she sought to actualize the Gospel message in the present moment. As she once told a Fordham University Jesuit: “I have never read anywhere in the gospel where Christ says to wait twenty years before living the gospel. The Good News is for now.” She died on December 14, 1985, in Combermere, Ontario, Canada at the age of 89. Her cause for canonization was introduced in 2000.

Spiritual reading: Never was font so clear, undimmed and bright; from it alone, I know proceeds all light although ’tis night. (John of the Cross)


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