St. Angela Merici
Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a "secular institute" of religious women.
As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela's charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.
She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a "secular institute" until some years after Angela's death.
As with so many saints, history is mostly concerned with their activities. But we must always presume deep Christian faith and love in one whose courage lasts a lifetime, and who can take bold new steps when human need demands.
In a time when change is problematic to many, it may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to her sisters: "If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it with prudence and good advice."
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
Lord, may I never take the gift
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment.
The Word of God
Reading 12 SM 5:1-7, 10
All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
"Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the children of Israel out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you, 'You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.'"
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.
David was thirty years old when he became king,
and he reigned for forty years:
seven years and six months in Hebron over Judah,
and thirty-three years in Jerusalem
over all Israel and Judah.
Then the king and his men set out for Jerusalem
against the Jebusites who inhabited the region.
David was told, "You cannot enter here:
the blind and the lame will drive you away!"
which was their way of saying, "David cannot enter here."
But David did take the stronghold of Zion, which is the City of David.
David grew steadily more powerful,
for the LORD of hosts was with him.
Responsorial Psalm PS 89:20, 21-22, 25-26
R. (25a) My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
"On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth."
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand upon the sea,
his right hand upon the rivers."
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
Gospel MK 3:22-30
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul," and
"By the prince of demons he drives out demons."
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided,
he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
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.
Meditation: Mark 3:22-30
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Saint Angela Merici, Virgin
How can Satan drive out Satan? (Mark 3:23)
If you've ever been near an airfield as a huge jet takes off, you know that it can be a very powerful experience. The deafening noise, the forceful gust, and the shaking ground can make your pulse quicken and your whole body tingle.
Now imagine that you can erase the airplane and the noise, but keep that excited feeling. That's how some people have described their experience of the Holy Spirit: a quickened pulse, a sense of awe, and an excitement over all that his power can accomplish.
Sometimes, however, the Holy Spirit's work can be very subtle: perhaps a chance encounter or an answer to an unspoken prayer. It's this kind of experience, this subtle work of God, that can be overlooked all too easily.
In today's Gospel reading, the people see Jesus' miracles and fear that his power is of demonic origin. But Jesus is quick to attribute the miracles to the Holy Spirit. He even rebukes them for slandering the Holy Spirit. It's striking to see him defending the Spirit as if he were a brother or a close friend.
This close relationship with the Holy Spirit is something that God wants us to develop as well—a relationship so close that we can detect his subtle movements just as easily as his more obvious ones. Pope Francis recently urged us along the same lines:
"Let's ask ourselves: are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do I pray to him to enlighten me, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? This is a prayer we need to pray every day, every day: 'Holy Spirit, may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day.' "
Today, try to identify the Spirit's work in your life. Pray that you may be open to the word of God, to the goodness in the world, and to the beauty that we experience in creation and in our relationships. Don't wait for the noise of the jet!
"Holy Spirit, show me the ways that you are working in my life and the path that you have planned for me. Help me to recognize and acknowledge the big and little miracles you have done in my life."
2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10; Psalm 89:20-22, 25-26
Allow me to translate today's 5minutos:
"St. Mark is making us see the Gospel, as those closest to Jesus had their difficulties to believe in Him, and how, for the same, misinterpreted Him. Today it is the "scribes", the "wiseacres", the "theologists", of the era, those who, at not being at Jesus not being in accord with them, neither them with Him, they accuse Him of being "possessed", a demoniac. This is a grave accusation; as if to say: all the action of Jesus is destructive to man, it does not save nothing, and let us see with malice His every move:'He appears to cure people, but in reality wants to submit it; seems to heal it, but wans to enslave it; is ambitious and wants to dominate the world, etc. Jesus responds to the attackers, trying to reason with them: 'if Satan is being defeated, expelled from man, without power over him, how it can not be the same Satan, then it is about someone superior to him: It Is The Kingdom of God present in Jesus that with all His Power dominates and destroys evil! But the scribes prefer to call him possessed...This is the sin against the Holy Spirit!: Denying the truth so evident, wanting to go against Jesus and His salvation, not accepting that the Holy Spirit shines and sustains man, and, therefore, not accepting the forgiveness, nor the grace, nor the mercy. In the end, someone who closes themselves totally to forgiveness, because that's how they want it...and that is how they want it, because it only interests them that God fits to their preference and likes and not the other way around. ..and it is not possible! How can you be forgiven if you do not want to be forgiven? Do you want to be forgiven? Are you ready to change "preferences"? "
Today we read in the Holy Scriptures when they told David "...the lame and the blind will drive you away!" What a crazy notion, but so true. The blind and lame still lived when Jesus came to Jerusalem. The blind and lame wanted to drive Him away. So many times the blind and lame were thought to be cursed and possessed. And this is why the blind and lame, the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus, because they themselves were the ones trying to dominate the land. They themselves were taken over by something that made them speak foolishness...LIES. Today, evil works the exact same way. I've noticed how evil works, with lies, "for women's rights, we need to have abortion laws". Or "for equal rights, homosexuals need to have laws to tend to their needs". And the rights keep on coming, the blind keep yelling to the point of accusing someone like me as an evil hater. Someone praying in front of an abortion clinic, a hater of women? This hater was at the feet of his wife yesterday, tending to her feet, changing diapers at all hours of the day, asking at every moment how I can help her. This hater loves the blessings the woman gives, the caress, the tenderness of the gift of a mother. This hater of women is softened by the love of the Mother of God. Even yesterday, as I drove to Mass, I was whining as I usually do "why am I the only one that has to lead the rosary before Holy Mass?" I told my brother in law and them, "I wish others would do this, not just me". But as I spoke, I thought of our Mother, how I talk to her easier than to God, how she is the ice-breaker in my life when I find myself sickened physically or in sin, and then I am reconciled with Jesus. This falls flat in the face of the so called "puritans" who had every good intention of having a pure relationship with Christ, but has been diluted through the centuries, to the point that I would be considered a "possessed" man worshiping false idols. The case remains, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through channels we find hard to tune into, because of what WE want, and not what HE wants. It is a case of truly being WITH Christ, or AGAINST Him. And the world is not all for Christ, at least not right now, because in the end, every knee shall bow. David overtook Jerusalem, bypassing the nay-sayers. He was stronger because God was with Him. Jesus came centuries later, to overtake once and for all what is rightly His...the world. The ambition of Christ countered the fight for territory of evil. Where you are reading this, consider it where God wants to reclaim what is rightly His. We don't pray "thy Kingdom come, thy Will Be DONE" for no reason in the Lord's prayer. What is going on is nothing more than a battle. I'm on the side of puritans, those who desire to purify the world with the power of Jesus Christ, His Blood, the very divinity of which we partake in the most Holy Mass across the world. Our journey together has started already...And Jesus Will Be Found Along The Way, all for us, never against us. Had He been against us, He would have not offered Himself on the Cross. Had he been against us, He would not have left us the Love Letters..the bible. Had he been against us, He would've never made Himself known. But no, He did all the opposite. And that is how me and you are to operate. I was let down Friday at work, as if a personal attack, but I prayed, fought tooth and nail for the one who let me down, I looked outside at the sunset, I realized we are not of this world, and the hurt feelings went away, I desired mercy for the accuser. I wanted nothing ill ever for the person I love. This is Jesus speaking. He desires no evil. It is us that get in the way and let it be. We are here for a purpose, and as I said, get on the journey, and He will make it known what it is He desires, where He is at, and How He wills what is to be done.........