Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 1, 2014

7d1c80decca9fe78c137eb098eaab1fb_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Fear is a basic emotion, and it is one that the scriptures repeatedly call us to resist. Jesus invites us to depend only on God and rely on nothing else. Walter Ciszek, the great Jesuit missionary to Russia who spent 15 years in Soviet prisons, wrote in his spiritual memoir of his incarceration, He Leadeth Me, that the kind of surrender that is our call is like the moment when a child resists the swim instructor’s coaching to let go and fall into the water. At first, terror grips the child, not believing that support is there. When the child finally relaxes, however, she sees she is indeed floating atop the water: that she is being sustained, and acceptance and serenity accompany that moment. Jesus calls his disciples in today’s gospel to understand the reality of God’s providence: the assurance that God is the one constant in their lives and the true source of comfort, trust, and faith.

Saint of the day: Blessed Luigi Variara was born in Viarigi (Asti), Italy, on January 15, 1875 and died on February 1, 1923 in Cucuta, Colombia. He was an apostle to the lepers in Colombia and founder of the congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who ran the homes he set up for lepers. He was born to Pietro Variara and Livia Bussa. When he was 12 years old he entered the Salesian Oratory in Turin, while the founder Don Bosco of the Salesian Congregation, was still alive. Luigi had the privilege of meeting this Saint John sdg_BeatoLuigiVariaraBosco on one occasion, and it was an encounter that changed his life. John Bosco looked into the eyes of the young boy, and this gaze was for Luigi a confirmation of his future Salesian vocation. Don Bosco died a month later on January 31, 1888.

In 1891 he entered the novitiate and shortly afterward he made his profession in the hands of Bl. Michael Rua, Don Bosco’s first successor. After his novitiate, Luigi studied of philosophy at Valsalice and met Fr. Michele Unia, the Salesian apostle of lepers of Colombia, who had come to speak to the community about his mission. His talk won Luigi over, and in 1894 he left for Colombia with Fr. Unia when he returned. Here he dedicated himself to the lepers of Agua de Dios, sharing with them his passion for music and drama. Fr. Unia died shortly thereafter, leaving Luigi and three other priests in charge of the leper colony. The three years before his priestly ordination in 1898 proved to be a time of spiritual growth and maturation for the young Luigi, who came to understand better the reality of sacrifice and self-giving in serving others, and in running the risk of contagion through continual contact with lepers. After his ordination, he exercised his duties as priest in the leper colony, and with responsibility for the parish, often spending four or five hours a day in the confessional. He also continued to teach music and variaradrama. From the first year of his priesthood, Luigi felt the need to open a leprosarium for young patients, a project that mirrored that of his predecessor, Fr. Unia. The scope of such a foundation was to educate these children in the faith, reading, writing, and skills in manual labor. In 1905 the “Michele Unia Youth Hostel” was opened, and he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the same year to provide care for the residents of the hostel. His greatest trial was his transfer from Agua de Dios to Venezuela, a separation from his Congregation which cast a shadow of mystery on the foundation itself and began 18 years of misunderstandings for Luigi. He was transferred from city to city after leaving Agua de Dios, and in 1921 he was definitively moved to Táriba. He continued, however, to keep in contact with Mother Lozano, co-foundress of the Institute. He assured her that there was “nothing to fear: if it is a work of God, it will last”. Luigi Variara died on February 1, 1923 in Cucuta. The Congregation is currently present in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Dominican Republic and Equatorial Guinea and is dedicated in the service of the poor and the sick. He was beatified in 2002.

Spiritual reading: Prayer is opening into Love, opening into that radiant and center-less Love that surpasses and enfolds all of life. The truly holy person is wholly open to this Loving Presence through every happening of the day. (Tilden Edwards)


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