Blessed John of Parma
The seventh general minister of the Franciscan Order, John was known for his attempts to bring back the earlier spirit of the Order after the death of St. Francis of Assisi.
He was born in Parma, Italy, in 1209. It was when he was a young philosophy professor known for his piety and learning that God called him to bid good-bye to the world he was used to and enter the new world of the Franciscan Order. After his profession John was sent to Paris to complete his theological studies. Ordained to the priesthood, he was appointed to teach theology at Bologna, then Naples and finally Rome.
In 1245, Pope Innocent IV called a general council in the city of Lyons, France. Crescentius, the Franciscan minister general at the time, was ailing and unable to attend. In his place he sent Father John, who made a deep impression on the Church leaders gathered there. Two years later, when the same pope presided at the election of a minister general of the Franciscans, he remembered Father John well and held him up as the man best qualified for the office.
And so, in 1247, John of Parma was elected to be minister general. The surviving disciples of St. Francis rejoiced in his election, expecting a return to the spirit of poverty and humility of the early days of the Order. And they were not disappointed. As general of the Order John traveled on foot, accompanied by one or two companions, to practically all of the Franciscan convents in existence. Sometimes he would arrive and not be recognized, remaining there for a number of days to test the true spirit of the brothers.
The pope called on John to serve as legate to Constantinople, where he was most successful in winning back the schismatic Greeks. Upon his return he asked that someone else take his place to govern the Order. St. Bonaventure, at John's urging, was chosen to succeed him. John took up a life of prayer in the hermitage at Greccio.
Many years later, John learned that the Greeks, who had been reconciled with the Church for a time, had relapsed into schism. Though 80 years old by then, John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to the East in an effort to restore unity once again. On his way, John fell sick and died.
He was beatified in 1781.
In the 13th century, people in their 30s were middle-aged; hardly anyone lived to the ripe old age of 80. John did, but he didn't ease into retirement. Instead he was on his way to try to heal a schism in the Church when he died. Our society today boasts a lot of folks in their later decades. Like John, many of them lead active lives. But some aren't so fortunate. Weakness or ill health keeps them confined and lonely—waiting to hear from us.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
It is so easy to get caught up
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me.
The Word of God
I begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture I have just read.What part of it strikes a chord in me?Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story I have heard recently- will slowly rise to the surface in my consciousness.If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to me?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
2nd Week of Lent
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons. (Genesis 37:3)
Since its earliest days, the Christian church has recognized a harmony between the Old and New Testaments. The apostles sought to understand how the ancient Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. The early Church Fathers then recognized that the mystery of Christ that is hidden in the Old Testament comes fully alive in the New.
Many realities described in the Old Testament—people, events, places, or other details—anticipate realities fully revealed in the New. Scholars call them "types," or prefigurements, of Christ.
The story of Joseph gives us one of the most stirring Old Testament "types" of Jesus. Joseph, a favorite son of Jacob, was despised by his brothers, who decided to sell him into slavery in Egypt. But Joseph eventually became the instrument God used to save his family from famine: "Even though you meant harm to me," Joseph later told his brothers, "God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
It's not hard to see how many Church Fathers read Joseph's story as a foreshadowing of Jesus' life and God's plan of salvation. Just look at the many parallels between the two: both were favored sons of a loving father. Both experienced rejection from some of their own people. Both were sold for silver. Both were falsely accused and imprisoned. Both were unexpectedly exalted—Joseph to Pharaoh's throne and Jesus to the throne of God. And both provided salvation for the chosen people as well as the Gentiles around them.
Learning how people, prophecies, and events in the Old Testament find fulfillment in Jesus can help us come to a deeper grasp of the salvation that he has won for us. It can help us grasp the marvelous plan of God. It can fill us with love for our Father, who has set his grand plan in motion. So as the season of Lent unfolds, look for Jesus' "footprints" in the Old Testament readings at Mass. As you do, you'll see how much God loves his people—including you. You'll see that God has planned great and glorious things for you. Your life is secure in him!
"Jesus, you are the Lord of history. Thank you for opening my eyes to your wonderful plan for our salvation!"
Psalm 105:16-21; Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
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Alas, God's will be done.
And that is something we reflected on as we listened to an audio book by a nun, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) who was a Mystic, Stigmatist, Visionary, and a Prophet. We took an hour and still we hadn't finished the hour Jesus suffered in the garden in the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It spoke so much of how our Lord was being tortured in those moments, how evil was tormenting Him with bitter anguish and distress, to the point where He was almost unrecognizable and unresponsive. What was going on? Evil, accusations, everything trying to seize Him was thrown at Him, and it seemed to boil down to our ingratitude. How ungrateful those people will be even if you give your life to them, said the devil. "Do you really want this?", seemed to be the question. "Another 33 years of miracles and parables would not suffice" said Sister Anne. It had to be done this way. From the beginning of time the world has tried to seize the people and many millions it has, in slavery of sin, bondage, and oppression. God's wrath in the past was thrown in His face with the accuser which still lives today "if God is so good, then why is there evil" and this question straight from the devil's mouth. Joseph's brothers hated him and it wasn't even his fault. Hatred like this still lives on, in you and around you, "oh look here comes Mr./Mrs. Goody Tooshoo". Envy, greed, selfishness, pride, all things evil take over and seize the soul in contempt thus condemnation. We are not too different than those times, same book, different page we live in the Bible. The Psalms pray "Remember the marvels the Lord has done". Remember means to be grateful, and do. When Jesus says "do this in rememberance of Me" He is saying be grateful and do. Eucharist means thanksgiving, and this is the body of Christ the King. That is why we have golden chalices, sacred vessels, not because of their monetary worth, but the value we put to God. That is why the Vatican doesn't sell "all its riches and give to the poor" because it is not about the money but the value and richness given of Honor and Glory to God, lest we sell all and devalue what should be most valuable in our lives...God. Judas the betrayer also asked "why didn't that lady sell her perfume and give the money to the poor" and he sold Jesus for some silver pieces. Don't we do that? Some say "I gotta work, I can't do that church stuff". God made the world and let freedom of will live, to choose as Adam and Eve did and failed and we all suffer for the sins of one. That is why we must be accepting. The Kingdom is given to those that produce fruit. If you feel God has asked you, chosen you for something to do for Him, how blessed you are to receive the tunic, chosen to aid in the salvation of God's people. Do it with all your heart, lest it be taken away from you. God leads with the Spirit and the Spirit is among us. The Spirit is the encourager, the consoler, the hope. I ask that this Spirit strengthen us in times of duress and temptation. I ask that this day is brighter than yesterday. What we don't hear of in the stories are all the other people involved. Where were they when help was needed? They opted not to "say nothing" thus "do nothing", and evil prevails. We are fortunate to live right now where we can experience mercy and grace. Every word we read today applies to our life. Will it soak in? Will His Word soak me? Will His blood soak me? Will His love