St. Angela of Foligno
Some saints show marks of holiness very early. Not Angela! Born of a leading family in Foligno, Italy, she became immersed in the quest for wealth and social position. As a wife and mother, she continued this life of distraction.
Around the age of 40 she recognized the emptiness of her life and sought God's help in the Sacrament of Penance. Her Franciscan confessor helped Angela to seek God's pardon for her previous life and to dedicate herself to prayer and the works of charity.
Shortly after her conversion, her husband and children died. Selling most of her possessions, she entered the Secular Franciscan Order. She was alternately absorbed by meditating on the crucified Christ and by serving the poor of Foligno as a nurse and beggar for their needs. Other women joined her in a religious community.
At her confessor's advice, Angela wrote her Book of Visions and Instructions. In it she recalls some of the temptations she suffered after her conversion; she also expresses her thanks to God for the Incarnation of Jesus. This book and her life earned for Angela the title "Teacher of Theologians." She was beatified in 1693.
People who live in the United States today can understand St. Angela's temptation to increase her sense of self-worth by accumulating money, fame or power. Striving to possess more and more, she became more and more self-centered. When she realized she was priceless because she was created and loved by God, she became very penitential and very charitable to the poor. What had seemed foolish early in her life now became very important. The path of self-emptying she followed is the path all holy men and women must follow.
Pope John Paul II wrote: "Christ the Redeemer of the World is the one who penetrated in a unique, unrepeatable way into the mystery of the human person and entered our 'hearts.' Rightly therefore does the Second Vatican Council teach: 'The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of the human person take on light.... Christ the New Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals human beings to themselves and brings to light their most high calling'" (Redemptor Hominis, 8).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your Holy presence.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom.
How do I find myself today?
The Word of God
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! (Mark 6:50)
Even those who love entertaining know the relief of the door closing behind the last guest. You can finally begin to clean up, unwind, and get some sleep.
Jesus must have felt something like this after having miraculously fed more than five thousand people on a deserted hillside. He just had to get away and pray. So he sent his disciples ahead of him in a boat, dismissed the crowds, and headed for the hills to spend time alone with his Father.
As he was praying, he could see his disciples struggling against the wind, making little progress. Perhaps he saw in this image a metaphor for their understanding of his messiahship. They had witnessed so many of his miracles, but they still struggled to understand who he really was.
If only these disciples could learn to come to Jesus the way he had just gone to his Father! If only they could see him as their Redeemer! Perhaps these occasional glimpses into his glory would help them trust him more. He knew it would take a while, but Jesus was committed to them, so he didn't mind. So he interrupted his prayer to give them a clearer vision. He came to them on the water, in the midst of the storm, and told them, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid" (Mark 6:50).
We too can have a hard time seeing Jesus as our Messiah and grasping our need for him. Are there ways you seem to be rowing against the wind? Is something gnawing at the back of your mind? Bring it before him now. Perhaps in his wisdom he will wait, keeping his eyes on you for a more opportune moment. Or maybe he will reveal himself to you more deeply. He may even climb into your boat and still the wind. Whatever happens, try your best to trust in Jesus' power and provision. Quiet your heart so that you can hear him tell you, "It is I, do not be afraid." Surrender your concerns to Jesus. Let him meet your needs in the way he knows best.
"Lord Jesus, help me to find my courage in you, no matter my circumstances. Right now, I set aside fear and doubt. Lord, I trust you."
1 John 4:11-18; Psalm 72:1-2, 10, 12-13