St. Julie Billiart
Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julie Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm laborers.
A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralyzed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness.
When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart; she spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time.
But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, "Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an Institute marked by the cross." As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie's interest in teaching the faith. In 1803 the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor as well as young Christian girls and the training of catechists. The following year the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years.
Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Françoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium.
Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.
Julie's immobility in no way impeded her activities. In spite of her suffering, she managed to co-found a teaching order that tended to the needs of both the poor and the well-to-do. Each of us has limitations, but the worst malady any of us can suffer is the spiritual paralysis that keeps us from doing God's work on earth.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God's dwelling-place.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form?
The Word of God
Reading 1NM 21:4-9
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Responsorial Psalm PS 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
R. (2) O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
"The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die."
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Gospel JN 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come."
So the Jews said,
"He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?"
He said to them, "You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins."
So they said to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world."
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
"When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him."
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
What is stirring in me as I pray? Am I consoled, troubled, left cold? I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side 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.
Meditation: John 8:21-30
5th Week of Lent
When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am. (John 8:28)
When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, the people who gazed on it saw two things. First, they got a graphic look at their own sins. Grumbling, blaming, complaining are as deadly as serpents. They slither their way between people and interfere with God's ability to take care of them. Second, they got a look at God's mercy; whoever looked at the bronze serpent was instantaneously healed.
In the same way, when we gaze at Jesus lifted up on the cross, we see both ourselves and Jesus more clearly.
We see ourselves as capable of mortally wounding people by our indifference, our selfishness, and our pride. We see that we can be just like Pilate as we wash our hands of responsibility for the needy. We are the soldiers mistreating the people we don't respect. We are the mob, easily swayed by the fad or feeling of the moment, rejecting anyone who seems out of step. We are the would-be followers running away at the first sign of trouble. We are the faithful friends, helpless and disconsolate, immobilized by fear. We see how our own actions have caused the pain that Jesus is experiencing as he hangs on the cross, suffering for our sins.
But that's not all. Gazing at the cross, we also see a God who became man because he loves us. We see Jesus looking at each of us with great tenderness and compassion. We hear him promising forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who turns to him in repentance. We see a Messiah who loves us unconditionally, who loves us enough to endure and conquer not only our sins but death itself.
Spend some time in front of a crucifix today, either at home or in church. Don't worry about whether you have anything to say to Jesus. Just kneel there, and gaze at him in wonder and gratitude. Have the courage to look at whatever he reveals about yourself, but don't stop there. Keep on gazing until you feel his love overpowering your sin and bringing you into the presence of Jesus, your brother and Redeemer.
"My crucified Lord, thank you for loving me enough to be lifted up on the cross."
Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21
The spanish reflection 5minutos said in a line today "...but if we do not want to let ourselves be saved, our perdition will be eternal". And can you imagine being lost forever? The people with Moses were "lost" in the desert. Not lost in a sense that they didn't know where they were in the globe, but where they were in the world...spiritually. Their senselessness brought them to nonsense, to turn on God and spit out the food from Heaven "we are DISGUSTED with this WRETCHED food". Can you imagine a Catholic that takes the Body of Christ said to be the Food, the flesh of Jesus, and then leaves the Catholic faith? Apostasy happens, a falling away from the truth, a rejection of religion, and from NewAdvent.org it says in the opening line "The word itself in its etymological sense, signifies the desertion of a post, the giving up of a state of life; he who voluntarily embraces a definite state of life cannot leave it, therefore, without becoming an apostate." Tired of it, sadly, people leave the faith to a place where they "sing" better, and "worship" better, and most often where there aren't so many "hypocrites". They blame everyone and their mommas for leaving the faith, but never themselves. The EXACT same happened with Moses, the people of God. God was providing nourishment and a plan, and they got tired of trying to figure it out. Fast forward a few thousand years and a Psalm later "O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you." and enters Jesus into the world. The people of Moses had been given a sign from God of what could save them if they see and believe. Jesus comes to the world for us to see and believe. I did not know that today we would speak of seeing what was raised up to believe, but I wanted a cross, or a lenten sign to be atop the email, and you should be able to see it by the regular "minute meditations" logo of americancatholic.org. The sign is given in hopes that you will see and believe, for Jesus says I am going where you cannot go, you belong to the world, I belong to what is above. I actually wrote a song last year with this exact scripture for most of the lyrics called "Going Away". It is a song I sung because the words tugged at my heart, as if a dying person was going away and you can not come with them, and this is OUR FATHER, as if to say we will be left alone, but Jesus says something spectacular to reverse that effect "The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him." So long as we remain in Him, He remains in us, or the other side is apostasy, abandonment of God to other gods, our own whims and fancies. Thus has been the lesson of Lent, more of Him, less of me. More of Him brings on grace, mercy, love, and charity, which is given from Him through us, whether in our every meeting of others, or Jesus in the Holy Sacraments. I want to leave you with two things I shared in friendship group last night. First, I recommend the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ with Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich (click on link to check it out), I bought the audio book to listen as I drive down the highway and listen at home with loved ones. It has given great depth and width to the Passion of our Lord, and it is said to have actually inspired the move by Mel Gibson, The Passion. But the depth I speak of is how it has impacted me personally, to hear words of scribes and pharisees that I deplore in scripture, seems to come alive as if I myself have become a scribe or pharisee in my faith. Secondly, what a Lenten journey has brought me to so far is a more grace filled experienced of a Holy Mass whereupon we receive the food from Heaven, I have felt like I've lived a cursillo at every single Mass, leaving blessed beyond compare, seeing the world in a different light, grace abounds. I want to share my experiences with the Lord with you, and so the Lord allows it to be. Consider what it means to lift up the cross now. Jesus tells the world what the Father tells Him to say. I put myself in God's hands to speak to us what God is saying. What He wants lifted up above all is the Son to shine and bathe the world in the light, the light that saves, the light that makes things grow and see the truth. This is what God wants, unless of course we get tired of it because we feel lost and hopeless, unless of course the temptor sways us to think different, and unless of course we become...unfaithful
FOOD FOR THE POOR
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