St. Benedict the African
Benedict held important posts in the Franciscan Order and gracefully adjusted to other work when his terms of office were up.
His parents were slaves brought from Africa to Messina, Sicily. Freed at 18, Benedict did farm work for a wage and soon saved enough to buy a pair of oxen. He was very proud of those animals. In time he joined a group of hermits around Palermo and was eventually recognized as their leader. Because these hermits followed the Rule of St. Francis, Pope Pius IV ordered them to join the First Order.
Benedict was eventually novice master and then guardian of the friars in Palermo— positions rarely held in those days by a brother. In fact, Benedict was forced to accept his election as guardian. And when his term ended he happily returned to his work in the friary kitchen.
Benedict corrected the friars with humility and charity. Once he corrected a novice and assigned him a penance only to learn that the novice was not the guilty party. Benedict immediately knelt down before the novice and asked his pardon.
In later life Benedict was not possessive of the few things he used. He never referred to them as "mine" but always called them "ours." His gifts for prayer and the guidance of souls earned him throughout Sicily a reputation for holiness. Following the example of St. Francis, Benedict kept seven 40-day fasts throughout the year; he also slept only a few hours each night.
After Benedict's death, King Philip III of Spain paid for a special tomb for this holy friar. Canonized in 1807, he is honored as a patron saint by African-Americans.
Among Franciscans a position of leadership is limited in time. When the time expires, former leaders sometimes have trouble adjusting to their new position. The Church needs men and women ready to put their best energies into leadership—but also men and women who are gracefully willing to go on to other work when their time of leadership is over.
"I did not come to be served but to serve (see Matthew 20:28), says the Lord. Those who are placed over others should glory in such an office only as much as they would were they assigned the task of washing the feet of the brothers. And the more they are upset about their office being taken from them than they would be over the loss of the office of feet, so much the more do they store up treasures to the peril of their souls (see John 12:6)" (Francis of Assisi, Admonition IV).
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Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I guess about a month ago, I went into a supply store, and the owner was at the counter and being an old high school friend, I invited him to the bible study with workers we got going on. I joked and prodded and tried to get him to say yes, and he admitted he just got done reading the bible, and I said "it's one thing to read it, but another to understand it, and another to live it" and I couldn't convince him even after a couple of weeks of calling when needing parts and still the same answer, basically no. I bring up this story because this is a story about any one of us. It is one thing to supposedly "know" the bible, and another thing to actually know or allow God to work in your life. Last night at bible study with the program by Jeff Cavins called "A (Quick) Journey Through The Bible" (click to view) , we discussed books of the bible leading up to the time of Jesus. We brought up the Maccabean revolt in which we have stories of great courage and witness meaning martyrdom. John was martyred before Jesus as well, and still they did not believe that martyr's voice and what he said about the Son of God, the lamb of God. So our Lord said if you don't believe the testimony, you still don't understand even the words of those you supposedly trust, meaning Moses, a man. For this, what comes forth from Moses is astounding, for either you were with God or against Him. When Moses came from speaking with God from the mountain, he found the people had turned from God...turned against God, and slamming the commandments on the ground the wrath God wanted to take out was still taken out by a man of God. God is always merciful, but we always turn away. It is the story of our lives, that we say we believe and live another life. We say we are Christians but live in hiding. We read of how throughout the ages people constantly turn away from God, those that at one time experienced Him in their lives. Does this sound familiar? Does it sound like something we do? To close the question was "what does this mean personally to you" and a worker said "it's obvious that God wants you to trust Him" and I looked at everyone and said "Ok, but what does Trust mean? Because we all say we got to trust God but we go on and do our own thing anyways". Towards the end, I got the answers I was needing to hear "do what God wants". When we veer off, do our own thing, we are actually not trusting in Him at all. So I ask you, "who are you trusting your life in?" Yourself? Your job? Your family? Because if you say you are trusting in God and living a life of sin, we have some serious repentance to talk about, emptying of self to allow Him to work. Your sin is breaking your family apart. Can you imagine that? That's what sin does, it is just flat out evil. As luring as it is, and good as it seems, and justify it all you want, it is just that bad. I read a quote today
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
Lord, may I never take the gift
I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord.
The Word of God
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
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.
Meditation: John 5:31-47
4th Week of Lent
Search the Scriptures. (John 5:39)
Have you ever picked up your Bible, read a passage from it, and then sat back and wondered what in the world God was trying to say to you? It's possible that you may have walked away and decided either that you were spiritually deaf or that the passage didn't have any consequence for your life. But somewhere inside your heart, you sensed that there was something in that passage for you, but you just couldn't put your finger on it.
We all know that God wants to reveal himself to us through Scripture. But just like everything else in the Christian life, Scripture won't just magically make sense to us. We need to cooperate with the Spirit, and that takes some time, some attention, and some perseverance.
The following guidelines can help you hear the Lord as you read his word. Try them over the next few days, and see if they make a difference.
Select a Scripture passage that you want to read. Maybe you will choose to follow the daily Mass readings with the meditations in this magazine.
Don't read right away, but begin with prayer. If you feel like singing or humming a hymn from Mass, do it.
When you feel ready, read the Scripture passage you have chosen.
Read it again slowly, dwelling on the words or phrases that struck you.
Use your imagination to place yourself in the scene described in this passage.
Imagine that Jesus is sitting across from you and telling you this story himself.
Be still. During this quiet period, some words or pictures may bubble up in your thoughts. This may be God speaking to you—especially if the images and thoughts lead you closer to Christ, fill you with hope, or stir your heart to love and forgive.
Try to write out what you think God is saying to you, and close with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
God wants to reveal himself to us in Scripture. Only by quiet reflection will we learn to hear his voice.
"Holy Spirit, quiet my heart, and help me to read Scripture with new ears. Let your revelation penetrate my life and guide me to become more like Christ."
Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106:19-23
"Temptation to a certain sin, to any sin whatsoever, might last throughout our whole life, yet it can never make us displeasing to God's Majesty provided we do not take pleasure in it and give consent to it. You must have great courage in the midst of temptation. Never think yourself overcome as long as they are displeasing to you, keeping clearly in mind the difference between feeling temptation and consenting to it."
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