“Father, you helped Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and honor Christ in the poor of this world. Let her prayers help us help us to serve our brothers and sisters in time of trouble and need.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
From the Franciscan Supplement for Liturgy of Hours.
In times like the ones we are going through right now, we need St. Elizabeth’s example to inspire us; and her intercessions to strengthen us!
To our Canadian brothers and sisters, we send our prayers.
You saints of Canada, please hear us and intercede for us!
Saints Jean de Brebeuf and Issac Jogues, please pray for those who died. May they be in the Father’s embrace.
Saint Marguerite d’Youville, please pray for the injured. May they experience the healing touch of the Son.
Saint Andre Bessette, CSC, and Blessed Frederic Janssone, OFM, pray for the citizens of Toronto, and all of Canada. May they all receive comfort from the Holy Spirit.
Saints of Canada, hear us!
Isaiah 49: 1-6
Acts 13: 22-26
Luke 1: 57-66, 80
“In those days, Paul said:
‘John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’
‘My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.'” (Acts 13)
On this day, Catholics, and Eastern Rite Christians celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. We remember the birth of St. John, we remember what his role in salvation history was. There are theologians who describe him as the bridge between the Old Testament times and the New Testament times. He is considered the last prophet of the Prophetic Age of Israel.
We do not much of his history; we can suspect that he spent time in the desert, fasting and in prayer. Some scholars theorize that John may have had contact with the Essenes a Jewish ascetic community. At some point, the Holy Spirit called him from the desert to the Jordan River, where he began to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, and the Kingdom of God. He called the people to a life of repentance, symbolized by them receiving baptism in the waters of the river. It was on the Jordan River, that he encountered the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. And though he felt unworthy, he baptized Jesus, so that all things would be fulfilled. After this meeting, John continued preaching and baptizing. He would call out Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, about his lifestyle, and especially his marriage to his brother’s former wife, which violated Jewish law. St. John would pay with his life for being so outspoken.
When we were baptized, we became members of the Body of Christ; as such, we share in his life as priest, prophet, and king. Focusing on our prophetic role; we are called to proclaim the Good News, either by our words or actions. As prophets, we are to speak up for the poor, the persecuted, and the refugee; and speak truth to power. As St. John the Baptist was moved by the Holy Spirit, so we also be open to the promptings of the Spirit, and be true prophets to our world.
Wednesday, January 31st, was the birthday of a Trappist monk and mystic, Father Louis, who was born in 1915. Most of the world will know him as Thomas Merton. Born to a New Zealander father and an American mother; he would eventually take up residence in the United States. While attending college in New York, he had a conversion experience, that would eventually lead him to the Abbey of Gethsemane, in Kentucky. In 1947, he became a professed member of the Trappist community; he was ordained a priest on May 26, 1949. The year before, 1948, he published his autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain,” which became the most popular book in American Catholic literature.
To be honest, I have never read the book; to the best of my recollection, my earliest encounter with his writings was either his history of the Trappist order, “The Waters of Siloe,” or one of his journals, “The Sign of Jonas.” Since then I have acquired a good size collection of his books. He had a talent for the making what it means to be a contemplative understandable; and more importantly, achievable by us ordinary folks. His writings continue to inspire me to at least try to deepen my prayer life. Some attempts have been more successful than others.
There have dry periods; sometimes very long dry periods. But when I pick up one of his books and read, I get inspired again, and try once more to live contemplatively in my daily life. And I am not alone, hundreds, if not thousands of individuals, both Christian and non-Christian, have taken up the journey, with Merton as our guide.