"Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head." — St. Charles Borromeo
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "The will of God gives to all things a supernatural and divine value for the soul submitting to it. The duties it imposes, and those it contains, with all the matters over which it is diffused, become holy and perfect, because, being unlimited in power, everything it touches shares its divine character." — Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 15 AN EXCERPT FROM Abandonment to Divine Providence
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Saint Peter Claver
Saint of the Day for September 9 (June 26, 1581 – September 8, 1654)
Saint Peter Claver's Story
A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena, a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615.
By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although the practice of slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled "supreme villainy" by Pius IX, it continued to flourish.
Peter Claver's predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work, declaring himself "the slave of the Negroes forever."
As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God's love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.
His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.
After four years of sickness, which forced the saint to remain inactive and largely neglected, he died on September 8, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the black outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp.
He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves. Reflection
The Holy Spirit's might and power are manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one's homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for us to imagine. Peter's determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected, and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man's, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus' Spirit. Saint Peter Claver is the Patron Saint of:
African Americans African Missions Colombia Comedians Communication Workers Interracial Justice
Lord, you are always there waiting for me. May I never be too busy to find time to spend in your presence.
"In these days, God taught me as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius). I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet, and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
Brothers and sisters: If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12 R. (2) How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young— Your altars, O LORD of hosts, my king and my God!
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! Blessed they who dwell in your house! continually they praise you. Blessed the men whose strength you are! their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! For a sun and a shield is the LORD God; grace and glory he bestows; The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk in sincerity.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Alleluia See Jn 17:17b, 17a R. Alleluia, alleluia. Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 6:39-42
Jesus told his disciples a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ It can be a common weakness to judge my neighbour while not recognising my own faults and need of God's mercy. Lord, today make me gaze at others as kindly as you do.
▪ God sees each of us from the inside. He sees us with a generous and compassionate gaze and does not despise or condemn us for our shortcomings and failings. I pray for humility and for a deeper capacity to perceive God's presence and action around me.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with 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.
I have made myself a slave to all. (1 Corinthians 9:19)
Today is the memorial of St. Peter Claver, a man who embodied St. Paul's approach to evangelization. He made himself a "servant to all" so that he could win them over. In fact, he described himself as a "slave of the Africans forever."
Peter Claver (1581–1654) could have studied and served the Church in his Spanish homeland. But during his Jesuit training, he heard God speak to him through the humble college doorkeeper, Alphonsus Rodriguez. Rodriguez became his mentor and suggested he become a missionary to the Spanish colonies. Excited by the prospect, Peter applied and was given permission to undertake this far more challenging and dangerous mission.
Once he arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, and witnessed the African slave trade firsthand, Claver knew he had found his calling.
Cartagena had become a booming port where ten thousand African slaves unloaded each year. Claver made it a point to meet each ship as it docked. He brought medical supplies, food, and even tobacco to the terrified Africans, and he didn't leave until he had helped each person. "We must speak to them with our hands," he said, "before we try to speak to them with our lips."
And speak to them with his lips he did! Using illustrations, translators, and his own broken Angolan, Claver taught them about Jesus and prepared them to be baptized right there at the port. He tried to show them that God's love for them was greater than anything, even their captors' cruelty.
Peter Claver strongly defended the dignity of the slaves and fought for their human rights. He did his best to make sure families were kept together. He urged slave owners to treat their newly baptized slaves as true brothers and sisters in Christ.
Everyone who came to Cartagena felt Peter Claver's influence. He did not distinguish between Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim. That is why he is the patron saint of race relations. And it's why he can be a model for us today as we face racially charged violence and prejudice.
"Lord, through the example of St. Peter Claver, you show us how to uphold the dignity of each person. Help me to look at everyone as my brother or sister in Christ."
Saint Paul ends today with "No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." Once again, our thorn in the flesh, you have to beat your opponent, your own body, because the spirit is willing...isn't it? We prayed today "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." And what does it mean that my soul "pines"? In some translations it means to faint, it is dying in a sense, for God, it is yearning, and for this we have to beat the body in this race to Heaven...so let your heart race for GOD! Our Lord enters our lives and says towards the end in the Holy Gospel "You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye." Ever felt like someone tried to give you advice, even though they don't take advice? Or, have you ever felt like you are giving advice and in the back of your mind you think "oops, I should be doing what I'm saying"? The whole splinter and log thing is funny isn't it? This whole blinding thing means much in the spiritual world. Because we are not just bodies, but spirits are in and among us, and all we know is we have this precious soul. And so, we must not defile what is in us, the soul. The soul dies little by little with sin. But the soul is nourished little by little with God. The more, the better. When our Lord says "on earth as it is in Heaven" do you not believe He means everything we live daily on earth will be as if it is in Heaven? That is, the whole of your life, was it lived for yourself OR, with Him all day long, in thoughts, deeds, and more...imagine that for just a moment. Imagine the importance of it. Last night, at the ultreya, the gathering of cursillistas, a young lady gave testimony and stressed the importance of having God in the family. Church on Sundays is one thing, but daily living...a whole other. One brother in the desert retreat that is losing his wife and kids in divorce said "I need God to be a part of my life again". I interjected "I hope one day God can be ALL of your life...not just a part of it." Another brother had kids at the retreat, I spoke with one kid alone at one point 'do you pray every day"...the kid said no. And the family faces separations constantly. The whole of life has to be daily life and every moment in between. How can we waste a moment without God? The soul soon becomes faint and weary. This is why I said to them at the retreat and to you once again, I said it on Monday and now it is Friday "Your next step is to say YES to the Lord". And then we actually do it, every minute, this little thing we call LOVE