St. Peter Damian
Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.
Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing. His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.
Already in those days Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of St. Romuald (June 19) at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.
The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.
Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony (the buying of church offices), and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance. He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon, complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.
He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.
He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072.
In 1828 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.
Peter was a reformer and if he were alive today would no doubt encourage the renewal started by Vatican II. He would also applaud the greater emphasis on prayer that is shown by the growing number of priests, religious and laypersons who gather regularly for prayer, as well as the special houses of prayer recently established by many religious communities.
"...Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers" (St. Peter Damian).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
Your death on the cross has set me free.
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. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The Word of God
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
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.
Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Even in the early Church, the debate about faith and works was a heated one! But here, James is telling us that faith is not something just to be talked about; it's to be lived! As followers of Christ, we demonstrate the extent of our faith all day long, consciously or unconsciously, by the way we live.
Our works don't earn us salvation. However, we make our love of God visible through the things we do. Abraham demonstrated his faith when he trusted God and prepared to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Mother Teresa demonstrated her faith when, even though she didn't feel God's presence, she continued to serve the poor, encourage her sisters, and trust God's providence. Neither of these friends of God was saved because of his or her actions, of course, but their actions did give us a glimpse into the faith that supported everything they did.
What James is pointing to here is the "wheel of holiness." God gives us the gift of faith. With that faith, we seek his presence in prayer and are moved deeply when he touches our hearts. Changed by what we have experienced, we find ourselves becoming more generous and selfless. This self-giving in turn nourishes our love for God and our desire to be with him, so we return to him in prayer. And so it continues. We form habits of holiness; we become more disposed toward God; it becomes more natural for us to demonstrate our faith in our everyday situations.
No matter where you are in this circle, let God take you farther! Do you have faith? Great! Act on it. Find someone today who needs you, and help him or her out. Are you busy working for God's kingdom? Keep it up, but make sure you are cultivating your spiritual life as well. Righteousness isn't about proving yourself by your deeds; it's about letting your faith show itself. It's about embracing all that God has done for you and wanting more. It's not talking about faith but showing it in the way you live!
"Thank you, Father, for the gift of faith! Draw me close to you so that my faith makes itself known in every choice I make and every word I speak. I don't want just to sound like a believer; I want to be one!"
Psalm 112:1-6; Mark 8:34--9:1
St. James sounds pretty serious when saying faith without works is dead, and it is because he is, and when I say "he is" it means HE is. Because it is the Holy Spirit that is speaking and reaching constantly, and this is an action, Love in Action. I remember one time my sister and brother in law were in a serious argument, the kind that meant they were going to separate. He is the "anti-catholic" (which since he's asked me not to call him that), but I insisted on taking him to the holiest place on earth...in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There we prayed together. When we got back to our shop, as we sat in the truck, we talked a while and I had explained that all he'd ever done proved to be hatred and animosity towards me and my family. He denied it, and he even reached towards me and grabbed my knee and said "but I love you bro", and I lauged and said "you can't say it, you have to do it and show it!". Then my sister called, and on that phone call they made up. I saw God working, a miracle. I don't think it ever occured to him that our special visit was the cause of love joining them...and God is love. Had I not taken him to our Lord, and just said "I hope ya'll work it out" or "I will pray for you guys", I don't know that things would've ended on the same note. What's funny is how the devil has people divided, even on a dispute about "faith without works". We need faith to work, but works won't get you there alone, both go hand in hand, both sides of the arguement are right in this case, faith, and works. In my cursillo, Padre Andres said "we can't have all this study and piety and just keep it all in, it'd be like a fat cow that just keeps taking everything in". This is a day to realize faith, that is to say, make faith real. Make faith a hardcore reality. Because if I say I have faith, and it never shows, what good is it? Some said St. Francis said they never spoke a word while going through a town to evangelize, but historians find this not to be true, St. Francis spoke to every soul of salvation. Now, let me speak from my experience. We are made of dirt and spirit, earth and spirit. Yet our spirit is as dirt, it needs to be toiled and worked before planting a seed. I say this because some of us think we can just invite people to faith and are surprised they don't take the bait. That's because not enough soil preparation has been done. We need to pray for them constantly, fast, do whatever it takes, and also be constant in bringing them to the Lord. That is why in cursillo, we have the motto, "Make a friend, (tend to the soil), Be a friend (work the soil) and then Bring a friend to Christ (plant the seed). So what we have here is a tremendous amount of work that very few care to take on, as if we are almost ashamed to do it, ashamed to pray in public, ashamed to speak about our personal relationship with God, ashamed to share the light of Christ! It is no wonder our Lord says in the Holy Gospel that He too will be ashamed of this person when He comes again in Glory. Yet His Kingdom comes, and His will shall be done. He is made glorious by the glory we give Him. Do you know what glory means? It means bringing about a physical, visible phenomenon. From NewAdvent.org: "This meaning is found for instance in Exodus 24:16: "And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai"; in Luke 2:9, and in the account of the Transfiguration on Mount Thabor. In very many places the term is employed to signify the witness which the created universe bears to the nature of its Creator, as an effect reveals the character of its cause. Frequently in the New Testament it signifies a manifestation of the Divine Majesty, truth, goodness or some other attribute through His incarnate Son, as, for instance, in John 1:14: "(and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth"; Luke 2:32, "A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel"; and throughout the prayer of Christ for his disciples, John 17. Here too, as elsewhere, we find the idea that the perception of this manifested truth works towards a union of man with God. " So who sees the Kingdom of God? Who sees the Son of God? Whoever gives true honor and true glory, because He honors and glorifies those in Him. There are people dying daily for the faith, for our Lord. We don't hear about it in the news because it is "old news", things that have been going on since the crucifixion of our Lord our Christ, yet this is the glory, the witness, the martyr that denies this life to gain the real life. Come lent in a couple weeks, we will be asked to give up and give. Sacrifice, fast, give something to Him, and He gives in return because we can not outgive Him. We are to empty ourselves and pray more. What better time to do this than now? Every Friday we should all do this no matter what denomination you are, for our Lord was crucified, gave Glory on a Friday, gave his last drop of blood for this day, for you to live and bask in His light. I told my son last night as I tucked him in to bed on the top bunk bed "pray to God", "but where is he" he asked me, "he is everywhere in your heart", "I was alone the other day, where were you all" he asked me, confused I said I don't know when you're talking about (i think we were outside the house) "do not be afraid because he is always with you, you can feel Him in your heart". This is where our Lord resides and is made manifest for the world, and that is why every soul is precious. I love those who have worked themselves to the bone for the Lord, but even more ... a Holy soul that gives true honor and glory