Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 22, 2014

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

8dacd01e76ed3a66c73cacb2fa1c6969_w600“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The two characteristic elements of love are acceptance and joy. When we love someone, we accept them: we do not push them away but embrace them in the totality of who they are. When we love someone, we experience joy in their presence: we are glad when they are nearby. In this passage, Jesus refers to the acceptance by the Father of the Son and how he accepts us in turn. Jesus feels joy in his Father’s presence, and he wants us in loving him to feel that same joy.

Saint of the day: Saint Rita of Cascia was an Augustinian nun; she also is called Margarita. She was born in Roccaporena, near Spoleto, Italy, in 1381, and expressed from an early age the desire to become a nun. Her elderly parents insisted that she be married at the age of twelve to a man described in accounts of her life as cruel and harsh. ritaShe spent eighteen extremely unhappy years, had two sons, and was finally widowed when her husband was killed in a brawl. Both sons also died, and Rita, still anxious to become a nun, tried unsuccessfully to enter the Augustinians in their convent at Cascia. She was refused because she was a widow and because of the requirement that all sisters should be virgins.

Finally, in 1413, the order gave her entry, and she earned fame for her austerity, devotion to prayer, and charity. In the midst of chronic illnesses, she received visions and wounds on her forehead which resembled the crown of thorns. She died on May 22 at Cascia, and many miracles were reported instantly. She is honored as a patron saint of hopeless causes.

Spiritual reading: It is as if God planted a great big kiss in the middle of our spirit and all the wounds, doubts, and guilt feelings were all healed at the same moment. The experience of being loved by the Ultimate Mystery banishes every fear. (Thomas Keating)

Homily May 25, 2014 Sixth Sunday of Easter

may 25Today’s gospel is really a hard one if you stop to think about it. Jesus very clearly says that if you love him you will keep his commandments. Now here is the problem. Jesus gave only two commandments and they were pretty simple. He commanded “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” By a neighbor, he was all-inclusive of all humanity created by God. Well, if we look around the world, there sure is a whole lot of people out there to see and many that we sure find hard to like. Even close to us there are surely some we just don’t like or as some might say, can’t stand. But what Jesus is saying here is we must be in love with all those he created because in one way or another he is present in each of those he created and there is an innate worthiness of our love. God loves each as the Father he is, despite what any of us do. Christ came for each of us. His saving sacrifice was once and for all for every creature from the beginning to the final day. If his love can be all-embracing of each and every one, can he expect less of us. Certainly there is a difference between liking and loving someone, but surely we can not like a person or what he does without wishing ill or evil on them.may 25   2 To love our enemies sounds hard, but enemies are usually a country or a group. It is easy to dislike a country or a group, but can we forget each is made up of individuals. Every person should be the object of our love, because like them or not they could respond to that love and receive the Spirit of God.
Clearly, this is what it is about. Christ’s love is passed and felt person to person, day-to-day, face to face. “See how they love one another” was a mark and a magnet for the early Christians and should be so today, We are called to love all, those we know and the faceless nearby and in far off places. But how do we do daily as we go about it? Yes we see people poor and in need, but what is our response. Did we ever stop to listen to what they need? Lending a hand doesn’t mean going to the poor house or giving away the farm to use an old expression. Perhaps you might have a thought or a suggestion, or some solution to offer and lift up that person. I know we can’t respond to everyone, but then like Jesus planted a seed, shouldn’t we work on the soil and help with the growth.
However, we are human and sometimes we fall short, far short of being perfect. Even in our most intimate love may 25   3relationships we sometimes fall short, get mad and even fight. But love continues, it works through trials and disappointments and even failures. That love should be in us and spread around for all of us have been baptised and received his Spirit. Jesus tells us he and the Father are one each in the other with the Holy Spirit. Jesus who was the physical presence of God in the world is in us and has sent his Spirit to us so we can continue his work. It is how he remains with us today. It means we should be loving and looking out for those needing him the most. Sure its hard, it’s work, but it’s joyful and even fulfilling sometimes. But in loving Christ is with you more and more each day.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion by Mike on May 21, 2014

vine and branchesGospel reading of the day:

John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: It is difficult for us to perceive our connections to one another, but God as love generates everything in the universe, and all of us through our creation by God and connection to God are one in one another. Sometimes when I am cut off on the highway or feel put upon by people who ask just that one more thing from me, I can feel disconnected and out of joint. These experiences feel unpleasant because they are not aligned to our deepest reality. It is when we are in harmony with one another that we fit God’s design for us.

Saint of the day Today is the memorial of a martyred priest, Manuel Gómez González, and his martyred altar boy, Adílio Daronch. Fr. Manuel was born on May 29, 1877 in San José de Ribarteme, Pontevedra, Spain. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal in 1902. In 1913 he was transferred to the Diocese of Frederico Westphalen, Brazil. He was a pastor known for his social work in the region. Adílio Daronch, the third of Pedro Daronch and Judite Segabinazzi’s eight children, was born on 25 October 1908 at Dona Francisca in the Cachoeira do Sul municipality of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. In 1911 the family moved to Passo Fundo and in 1913 to Nonoai. Adílio was one of the adolescents who accompanied Fr. González on his long and tiring pastoral visits, which also included the native Kaingang Indians. He was also a faithful altar server and a student in the school founded by Fr. Manuel.

On May 21, 1924 when Fr. Manuel was close to his 47th birthday and Adílio was nearly 16 years of age the man and the youth gave their lives as witness to their faith and love for Jesus. The Bishop of Santa Maria asked the priest to visit the Teutonic colonies in the Três Passos forest, close to the boarder of Uruguay. After celebrating Holy Week in the parish of Nonoai and understanding that the area was rife with revolutionary movements, Fr. Manuel set out on this dangerous missionary journey, accompanied by his brave altar server and protégé, Adílio.

Along the route the priest stopped in Palmeria, where he administered the sacraments and exhorted the local revolutionaries to mutual respect, if for no other reason than the common Christian faith that they shared. The worst extremists did not appreciate his message, nor the fact that he gave Christian burial to the victims of the local bands. Thus, Fr. Manuel began to be viewed with suspicion. Continuing their missionary journey, they again stopped along the way to ask directions and to celebrate Mass on May 20, 1924. Desiring to proclaim the Good News, the missionaries did not heed the warning of the locals, who tried to dissuade them from venturing into the forest. Therefore, they accepted the “kind assistance” of the military personnel who offered to accompany them to Três Passos. In this way they fell into the trap prepared for them and were taken to a remote area of the forest, where they were bound to separate trees and shot on May 21, 1924.

Although human beings refused to accept Adílio and Fr. González’s message of mutual respect, it seems nature did, since no wild animal touched them: the inhabitants of Três Passos found their bodies still intact four days later. Their remains were buried nearby for 40 years. In 1964 their bodies were exhumed and taken to the parish church of Nonoai, and a monument was erected on the place of their martyrdom. They were beatified in 2007.

Spiritual reading:

You have only one Model: Jesus. Do not look for another.
Like Jesus during his life on earth, make yourself all things to all people.

Be human
Be an Arab in the midst of Arabs, a nomad among nomads, a worker among workers, but above all, be human.

Be a friend
Go deeply among people by sharing their life, by friendship and love. Give yourself to them completely like Jesus who came to serve and not to be served. You too become one with them.

And before being religious be human and Christian in all the strength and beauty of these terms.

(Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 20, 2014


Gospel reading of the day:

John 14:27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: It is hard to let go of people whom we love. The disciples in today’s gospel are downcast at Jesus’ prediction that he is about to die, because it means that the relationship they have with Jesus is about to undergo a profound change. They do not understand the change that is taking place, and everything weighed in the balance, they prefer to let things remain as they have been. Jesus challenges them in their adverse circumstances to consider things anew. If the disciples really love, they are to enlarge their hearts to embrace the good things that are happening to the one they love. Jesus tells them to rejoice at the new things that are unfolding in their lives.

Saint of the day: Jakub Pankiewicz was born in Nagorzanach, Poland, July 9, 1882. He was accepted by the Friars Minor in the Province of the Immaculate Conception in 1900. He made his solemn profession of vows on February 24, 1904, taking the name Anastazy. Anastazy Jakub PankiewiczOrdained a priest in 1906, he was Guardian in various fraternities, built the minor seminary in the industrial city of Lodz and was among the founders of the Congregation of the Sisters of Christ the King Antoniana. Arrested on October 10, 1941, he was interned in Dachau. He died May 20, 1942, during the so-called “transport of the disabled, on the road that leads to the crematorium of Hartheim near Linz in Austria. Preparing himself for death with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he helped a fellow prisoner on board the car a German soldier violently closed the door of the car cutting both hands. His body was then burned and the ashes were scattered. His body was burned and the ashes were scattered. He was beatified in Warsaw on June 13, 1999 with 107 other Polish martyrs.

Spiritual reading: Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. (Brené Brown)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 19, 2014

Gospel 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.” SONY DSCJudas, 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.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Pentecost this year falls on June 8, 2014, and we begin now our preparations for the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father sends to us in Jesus’ name. Jesus tells us that the Spirit comes to teach us and keep us constant in what Jesus has taught us. Jesus ties the coming of the Spirit to keeping Jesus’ commandments, loving Jesus, knowing Jesus, being loved by Jesus and the Father, and Jesus and the Father dwelling with us. Loving, knowing, and obeying Jesus all are one thing, and they are part and parcel of being loved by God and having God as our intimate partner.

rafiringa2Saint of the day: Raphael-Louis Rafiringa was born in 1856 in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. His father was one of the head blacksmiths working for Queen Ranavalona I. That same year, Madagascar lost its independence and became a French colony. Rafiringa was educated by the De La Salle Brothers in the city of his birth. He asked to be baptized when he was 13 years old. Raphael-Louis entered the La Sallian Christian Brother Congregation and made his final profession in 1889.

He was teacher, catechist and mediator of peace in turn, as well as a poet and a literary figure of sufficient acclaim he was enrolled in the national academy. However, he became most famous between 1883 and 1886 when the political situation led to the expulsion of the missionaries from the Island. The Catholics proclaimed him as their guide and for three years he kept alight the flame of the faith. When the Christian Brothers returned to Madagascar, they found many more Chris­tian communities than when they had left. Brother Rafiringa died in 1919 in Fianarantsoa. He became the first Malagasy to be beatified in 2009.

Spiritual reading: Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. (Thomas Merton)

Fr Joe’s homily at Holy Trinity May 18, 2014

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 18, 2014

91247e5b702c2e68b985d8221450e593_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Discussions of spirituality get a little squishy, because spirituality affects every human experience in ways that are pervasive but not measurable. When people attend seminars on spirituality, they frequently arrive with a desire to understand the mechanics of prayer and meditation but receive a discussion about the fruits of prayer and meditation and leave frustrated not knowing what to do to achieve what has been described. Part of the problem is that spiritual experience is as varied as the individuals who have them, since in the Father’s house there are many dwelling places, that is, there are many ways to abide in God’s presence. Another problem is that we often get started on a prayer journey expecting insight and peace, and we’re instead left with dryness and even agitation: no sense at all that we are sitting with God. Jesus in this passage of John’s gospel encourages that however we pray, we are on the way: Where I am going you know the way. He does not say to us who are already his disciples that he will show us the way; he tells us we already know the way. For Christians, the spiritual life is Jesus, and however we abide with Jesus–through centering prayer, reflection, the psalms, petitions, spiritual reading–is already Jesus. Thomas through his life with Jesus was already on a spiritual path but did not know it. We too may pray but not feel we are spiritual in any particular way. But Jesus assures us that anyone who knows him is already on a spiritual journey. The most important thing is to pray, pray no matter what. When we grieve over our failures at living the gospel, pray. When we are full of gratitude at God’s goodness, pray. Pray always. Pray without ceasing. Pray without caring what we get from praying. Pray and you will be on the way, whether or not you know it.

Spiritual reading: You could not discover the limits of the soul, even if you traveled every road to do so; such is the depth of its meaning. (Heraclitus of Ephesus)

Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter, Year A 2014

Posted in Uncategorized by Fr. Ron Stephens on May 18, 2014

Homily for the  6th Sunday of Easter, Year A  2014

As we rapidly approach the Feast of Pentecost, the event that Jesus promised the Apostles would happen and would complete his mission on the earth, the readings we have today all concern themselves with the Spirit. In our first reading today, as we continue through the history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke gives us what we would consider evidence today for the sacrament of confirmation.  As you know, the sacrament of confirmation is the full receipt of the Holy Spirit that traditionally comes for a person that has been baptized as a child, when the child reaches the age of reason and has the ability to choose to follow his or her faith.  With adults the sacrament of Confirmation usually accompanies Baptism.  In the story we are told today, we hear about the preaching of the disciple Philip that brings about the beginning of the Samaritan church. Philip obviously makes a great impression on the Samaritan people who seemed to be quite eager to hear his message to them. Along with his preaching there were many miracles and healings that took place which convinced many of the people there to accept the word of God that Philip was preaching. Philip apparently baptized a great number of the Samaritans.  It is interesting if you remember here that the Samaritans were considered enemies of the Jews, even though they believed in the same God and followed the same Scriptures. It would have been quite an event for people considered sinners and enemies to become part of the emerging Christian communities. It shows us how accepting we need to be in our own church today.

After this event, the Apostles Peter and John went to the Samaritans to pray for them, laying hands on them and allowing them to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We still use this model today when we ask the local Bishop or his representative to come and confirm at each parish.

The Second Reading from First Peter also is about the Spirit. The author is concerned with giving suffering some meaning, because many of the followers of Christ were being persecuted at this time. Peter suggests that if one suffers even though they are doing good works or for being a Christian then they become part of the sacrifice that happened for us when Christ suffered and died. They are able to join in with his suffering, suffering that leads to something good or something better. Peter says we are not to be afraid to profess our faith and our hope, and that we should be gentle and reverent in preaching the Good News. The last lines of this section bring us to the Spirit. Peter says that Jesus was put to death in the flesh but was made alive in the spirit. The Spirit is Jesus alive with us today. The Spirit works with us, through us and is in us.

This is the Spirit that Jesus today in John’s Gospel calls the Advocate. An advocate is someone who pleads for another in court or who intercedes for others when they can’t speak for themselves. This theologically dense section of the Gospel today is the best description we have of the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus first indicates that he himself is our advocate to the father in heaven. He has taken the case of men and women and pleaded to the Father. Because he cannot be with us forever, since his advocacy involves dying for us, God the father will send another Advocate who will always be with us till the end of time.  Jesus tells the Apostles that this advocate will be the Spirit of truth, and will be someone that the world does not understand because it cannot know the Spirit. Once again the will of God is not like our own. The world neither sees the Spirit or knows it.

But Jesus tells the Apostles that they will know the Spirit because the Spirit will come to them, be in them, and abide with them. Jesus knows that he must leave the Apostles physically, but he does not want to abandon them – to leave them orphans. 

He and the Spirit are one and so through the Spirit Jesus will be with us. In worldly terms, Jesus will not be physically present and the world will not see him, but he tells the Apostles that they will see him, and because he live-in the Spirit, they will live also. The we have the beautiful sentence which ties the Trinity to us: “On that day you will know that i am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” God will be present in each of us. We are indeed temples of the Lord.

Finally, Jesus stresses and re-iterates his law of love. We love Jesus by carrying out  his double commandment of loving God and neighbor. Because of that love, God will also love us and Jesus will reveal himself to us. This is really a high theology that John is describing, hard to understand in human, earthly terms, but in spiritual terms is so hopeful, so beautiful, so loving. 

Next week we will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord – the moment when Jesus goes back to the father and sits at his right hand. After just a few days in our time, the Spirit, promised by Jesus, will be present for the first time as the Apostles receive it at Pentecost. All the readings today look forward to that event as we near the end of our Easter season. This week let us look at how we are able show our love of God and neighbor, find ways to show that love and prepare for the two great feasts that are soon coming.

Let us continue to celebrate and hear this Good News as we approach the birthday of the Church, the coming of God’s Spirit to us.

Bishop Ron Stephens 

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from for $9.99 – Teaching the Church Year”]

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Homily May 18, 2014 Fifth Sunday of Easter

MAY 18  3In the gospel today, Jesus tells us that first his Father’s house has many dwelling places. It is there that he is going to prepare a place for you. When that place is ready, he is then coming for you. I find that interesting since he is preparing for us, yet the way to that place is simply following Jesus as he has called each of us to do. Philip and Thomas in today’s gospel speak up and say they do not know the way. It’s like they have had the gps for three years and still get lost because they depend on Christ being with them. Jesus tells them He is in the Father and the Father is in him. He and the Father are one and he is the way. Notice also that He as clearly as he says that there are many places, he doesn’t say they are the same. The place for each of us is prepared especially for us. How it looks and what it will be will be in accord to how we follow his way, how we are and who we are. He knows each of us intimately and our needs. MAY 1882 4Here on earth, dwelling places can be many things, from the cardboard box of the homeless man, to the multimillion dollar mansions of our sports heroes and others. What we must not forget is that it is Christ who is the way and the love of God is itself an all-embracing mansion.

While Thomas and Philip seem almost insubordinate in the gospel, our first reading reflects the growing church and some early conflicts which arose in the community. It would seem that humanity never gets it right. In Acts we see the clash of Israeli Jews with Hellenistic Jews. It involved the serving and sharing of food.may 18 One side felt slighted and angry about the distribution and there was dissension in the ranks. The Apostles as a group responded by coming together and deciding that the best thing would be to have the community select helpers who would be called deacons and thus we see the beginning of deacons and clericalism in the church. It wasn’t Peter, but all the apostles together who came back to the community for the sharing of ministry. The Spirit of God worked through the apostles with Peter as spokesman and the sharing of the community. What we see here is that the community played a big part of picking and call those to serve. They presented the chosen to the Apostles who laid hands on them.

Today, we leave it to the spirit to inspire vocations and call women and men to ministry. A call to minister most of us think is foreign to our busy lives and is something left up to “the church and the clergy”. What we sometimes forget because of our past history is that we are the church. Christ called each of us to his church and that call continues every day. The church is not a building, but flesh and blood. Each of us has abilities and talents to offer and share. Those mansions we heard about are going to be similar to the use of those abilities and talents. One thing we can always do better is to encourage one another and help discern the Spirit in us and each other. may 18--2God can plant a seed but sometimes it  is through the community. As a community we will grow, but only if we are prayerful and sharing of our faith and life in the Spirit. As much as God loves us and we come to love him, he is still a mystery and works in ways we do comprehend. Just remember, Christ was flesh and blood and he said “I am the way”

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 17, 2014

622bf62338780c8af08383ccdb23b691_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 14:7-14

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: All of human experience is shot through with the life of God. Our existence is enmeshed in God’s existence. It was this insight that encouraged Ignatius of Loyola to look for God in all things, and the psalmist to marvel, What is a human that your are mindful of him? Yet you have made him little less than a god. When Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” he is making a dramatic statement about his identification with God, but there is a sense in which each of us can repeat the Lord’s words and say them entirely truthfully about ourselves. There is nothing in God’s world that does not show forth the Father’s face if we but cultivate the eyes to see the Father in all things.

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 in March 2013, and he was beatified in August 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)