Wednesday and Thursday,
January 24 and 25

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

      First Reading: Hebrews 10: 11-18, 24-28
      Psalms: Psalm 110: 1-4
      Gospel Reading: Mark 4: 1-20

Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop, Religious Founder and Doctor of the Church

        Born in Savoy, France on August 21, 1567, nearly 50 years after the Protestant Reformation, Saint Francis de Sales would go on to play a major role in beginning the swing of the pendulum back to Holy Mother Church. Spurning the luxury of a barrister, this learned graduate of the University of Padua opted to become a priest where, guided by the Holy Spirit, his words and actions helped convert over 70,000 Calvinists back to the One, True Faith. He was so successful Pope Clement VIII elevated him to the See of the Bishopric of Geneva in 1602 at the age of 35. Accused by some of being too gentle, he offered the rationalization, "I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity." This gentleness helped convince the widow of the Baron of Chantal, none other than Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to whom Francis was Spiritual Director, to help him found the Order of Visitation Nuns (the Visitandines) in 1610. The fruits of their labors in this holy endeavor soon spread throughout Europe and eventually the world. Vowed to poverty, Francis refused all provisions and honors, including politely declining the See of Paris to remain head of the Geneva Diocese. He devoted much to writing including his two brilliant works Introduction to the Devout Life which he penned in 1609 as a guide for the nuns to-be, and seven years later wrote Treatise on the Love of God which simply points out that sanctity is achievable in everyone's life. Both books have gone on to become spiritual must-reading for religious and laity alike. Francis fell ill in the winter of 1622 in Lyons, France and passed on to his Heavenly reward three days after Christmas on December 28, 1622 at the age of 55. Later the next year he was the first person to be beatified in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was canonized 43 years later by Pope Alexander VII and declared a "Doctor of the Church" by Pope Pius IX in 1877. St. Francis de Sales holds a special place in the hearts of all editors, journalists, writers and authors as their patron saint which was made official on January 24, 1923 when Pope Pius XI proclaimed him the designated patron saint of the Catholic press.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

      First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 22: 3-16
      Psalms: Psalm 117: 1-2
      Gospel Reading: Mark 16: 15-18


        So important was the Conversion of the Apostle Paul in the development of the Church that she has set aside a special day to honor this miraculous conversion. Detailed in Acts 9: 1-30 and retold from Paul's point of view in Acts 22:1-21, the story of the Christian persecutor Saul to the zealous and holy instrument of evangelization Paul shows the strength of God's power in our lives and how He canchange anything. One thing Paul always was was sincere. Though a Roman citizen by privilege, he was first and foremost a Jew. Even as a Jew he sincerely felt his cause on behalf of the Jewish Law was just in persecuting Christians. He believed God belonged only to the Jews. The first martyr Saint Stephen was slain at Saul's command. His power and zealousness to put this Christian "fad" down drove him to more frenzied heights. It was his personal mission to round up all the Jews in Damascus who professed their belief in the man Who had been crucified. God works in strange and mystical ways. On Saul's journey to Damascus he was struck by a bolt from Heaven as he heard Our Lord say, "Saul, Saul, why doest thou persecute Me?" Because Saul was an honest and sincere man, though misguided in his zeal, God saw in him a tremendous instrument for all that He wanted to accomplish. Once Saul realized the error of his ways, his admission opened the floodgates for powerful interior graces and an infusion of the Holy Spirit which, as we know, Paul used wisely in his mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and play a vital role in bringing the "baby" Church from its weaning period into infancy and ultimately the conversion of the world. The lesson here is to remember how important the grace of God is in our lives and that we should cherish this gift always...never taking it for granted, and striving to nourish it daily through using the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit to strengthen grace in our souls.

January 24, 2001
volume 12, no. 24

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