Easter Math…Christ Is Risen ~ The Rt. Rev. Jay Van Lieshout, OPI

Greetings my brothers and sisters on this day of our Lord’s breaking of the bonds of death and resurrection.  Christ is Risen!

Yes, the Lord is risen indeed!

It seems as if it was just yesterday that we donned our sack cloth and inscribed on our foreheads a reminder of our own mortality; that ashen cross which reminds humanity that the Creator fashioned each of us from star dust and by the grace of the Holy Spirit’s breath we came into being.  Then, just as the ashes were place on our heads, they began to fade with the day’s toil; so, too, do our lives slowly fade away under the wear of our trials and tribulations till we once again return to the dust from which we were created.  But it is not just our lives which suffer such attenuation, the weight of our transgressions and the trespasses of others slowly eat away at our souls, a process which can lead the greatest and least among us to an inevitable spiritual death. But today we rejoice as the sting all death is eradicated, the tight fetters are loosed, the ashes of our sins have been washed away, and our souls set free from captivity!

From Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, I have preached about how the ashen cross is not just a reminder of our human mortality, it is an open invitation to the Heavenly Banquet which bears the our Lord’s charge bring with us a guest, a “+1” if you will.  It is not merely enough to show up to the feast, even if we bring gifts of finest gold, frankincense and myrrh.  No, we are called to gather those who may not have received the invite, those who feel unworthy or unwelcome, the ostracized, the poor, the hungry, the dirty, the abandoned and lost, for as St. Lawrence taught us, these as the true treasures of Christ’s church!

It is basic ecclesiastical math.  The Creator has made each of us a single an unique creation, a gift brought forth from the Earth; therefore each of us begins as the Creator’s “+1”.  By the nature of our imperfections, our lives slowly ebb away, a fraction here and a jot there, the sum of which adds up to negative one “-1”. Every child knows that subtracting 1 from 1 results in zero, the null number (+1-1=0).  Each human lives this life equation, we come to earth in birth and eventually are place in the null set tomb of death.

It grieves me so that for many of our brothers and sisters, the same withering and eventual emptiness plagues their spiritual life as well; they are born, soul brightly burning in the image of the Creator’s endless love, the travails of life choke this flame with the ashes of remorse and regret, while others, because of their own imperfections and darkness in heart, seek to further suppress or extinguish the light of those around them in hopes that this might make their light seem brighter.  The final outcome are our brothers and sisters who feel as if they are worthless; like the proverbial  number zero, they represent nothing and have no value, the light of God’s love has been replaced by endless sorry and darkness.

On this day of our Lord’s Resurrection, I tell you my brothers and sisters, God’s light can NOT be extinguished but only hidden.  God has not and will NEVER abandon any of us, we have just been blinded to the truth by the wickedness of others!

The grace, compassion and love of our Creator has no limit. Our cries have been heard.  In one benevolent act of mercy, the world received the ultimate gift of the Son of Man; the perfect “+1” born to bring the light  of truth back into the world, the “+1” who brings the scriptures to fruition , the one who came to deliver us a from the oppressive bonds of our sins and the Good News to all of humanity.  And this man, Yeshua, this manna come down from heaven, allowed Himself to be tempted, pursued, betrayed, imprisoned, whipped, weighed down with the burden of His sentence, mocked, reviled, stripped, tortured and ultimately succumbed to death in order that He might serve as the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.  Yes, like all humans, Jesus carried out the full life equation from beginning to the end, from alpha to omega, birth to death, womb to tomb: +1-1=0 for each and every one of us.

Yet Jesus was no ordinary man, He was the Creator’s Son, the Christ, and our Creator lives and not even the bands of death can hold the Son!  In three days the great mystery unfolded: Christ has died and Christ has risen and we know He will come to each of us again!  On this Holy Easter and on every Sunday we celebrate Christ’s rewriting of the life equation.  The stone blocking the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away, the shackles of spiritual death are broken and so our sack cloth of mourning is replaced with the finest white linen of rejoicing.  The Son of Man has erased the debt cause by our transgressions and now our souls have been resurrected our spiritual light shines in brilliant reflection of His Victory over death!  By the “+1” of His life and the “-1” His death on the cross we have been forgiven.  By His Resurrection the zero is broke open, spiritual emptiness and death has been overcome, and an infinite amount Grace and a limitless number of “+1” places at the banquet table have sprung forth.  No longer is the cross to be a symbol of suffering and pain, it is now an emblem of God’s invitation to boundless grace and mercy; not a reminder of what we have committed but of all that He has forgiven!

At the start of Lent we were inscribed with a cross of ashes on our foreheads to remind us that we are all born out of dust and no matter how rich or how powerful, to dust we all will return.  Now we are called to wear this this emblem as an outward sign to others, an invitation to take our hand so that we might lift others up out of the dust, a promise to untie the bonds of injustice, a light to guide others safely around the pitfalls of life, a commitment to feed our brothers and sisters who are hungry, clothe them when they are naked, and comfort them when they are alone or grieving.  This cross we bear is no longer a reminder of our mortal shortcomings, it is the invitation Christ has extended to all humanity to  attend the Heavenly banquet, the gift of His Resurrection emblazoned on us so that we may always be an invitation to all those we meet to be our “+1”.

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It Is Finished ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: IS 52:13—53:12

Responsorial Psalm: PS 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

Reading 2: HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Gospel: JN 18:1—19:42

Liturgical colour: Red.

Roman crucifixion was designed to produce a slow, agonizing death. It involved as much suffering and shame as possible. This excruciating form of public execution was bloody, violent and extremely repulsive.  The Jews believed if you were crucified, you were under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23).  It was on a Roman cross that Our dear Lord Jesus, who knew no sin, bore the sacrificial price for all of our sin.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus was repeatedly mocked, he was spat upon and he was flogged. His body was beaten so severely, He was hardly recognizable. Soldiers stripped Him and led Him outside the city to die a criminal’s death.  While on the cross, passersby hurled insults at Him. The religious leaders taunted Him as they attacked His power to save. Even the two thieves who were being crucified beside Him heaped insults on Jesus.

For a short while, I want you to think about what Jesus has done for us all through his death on the cross. Visualise in our minds our suffering Saviour. Think about the love that God has for each and every one of us, and offer him our profound and sincere thanks. Let us each ask God to wrap us tightly in his love – forgiving us, watching over us, guiding us. If anyone feels that Jesus and his love for them are not real for a large part of their life, simply ask for his help, he will always answer your call.

Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin that condemned us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “It is finished”, Jesus cried.  But by saying this, Jesus didn’t mean he was finished? NO! He is now sat at the Right hand of God the Father, and will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead. By Jesus’s  statement of “It is finished!”, Our Lord meant that the restoration of the friendship between God and humanity had been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth had been completed.

He has won forgiveness and  the possibility salvation for all people.

Nothing else needed to be done.

Salvation is complete. “It is finished”.

We call today “Good Friday”. It certainly was the farthest from being a good day for Our Lord Jesus. He endured excruciating pain, soul-wrenching agony, hanging by the nails in his hands, feet and side for hours, death on that rough wooden cross, for all of our sakes. We call today “Good Friday” because the cross is sure and definite proof of the powerful and ultimate love that God has for each of us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us.

Paul writes, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:8,10). That’s how much God loves us – Jesus died for us even though we don’t deserve it. His death has made us God’s children.

Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished” is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human amongst us has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory over death. He came to ensure that we could enter his kingdom and live with Him forever.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that your Son, Our Lord Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer us the gift of eternal life.

Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the price that was paid for our sin. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what your Son freely gave to fulfill your will for us, for the sacrifice that was done for us.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey With Jesus: Palm Sunday ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: IS 50:4-7

Responsorial Psalm: PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24.

Reading 2:  PHIL 2:6-11

Gospel: LK 22:14—23:56

Liturgical colour: Red.

As most people who probably know me well are aware, I am a person who likes to travel on journeys, whether for ministry or to visit sacred or beautiful places of the Lord’s creation. But the journey undertaken on Palm Sunday, which we celebrate today, was a journey of both joy and celebration, but also of suffering.

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate Palm Sunday. Today all those years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Jesus was totally devoted to following the will of the God his Father. Jesus was dedicated to doing whatever it took to fulfil  the mission his father had for Him. Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked God to let this cup pass from Him, but not MY will but yours oh Lord. Jesus was committed to the work of God and to fulfil his will as was predestined.

In John 12:13, we read that they broke palm branches from the trees and lined the streets in front of Jesus Christ as He made His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. ‘‘Many people….took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him and cried, ‘‘Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.’’

They correctly called Jesus the King of Israel, for He was presenting Himself as their king. This was Jesus most popular hour. There were many times, when Jesus was misunderstood and rejected  by His own, but here is one of those moments in His earthly ministry that has been called by many His most popular hour. We read that on this occasion a great multitude said, ‘‘Who is this?’’ (Matt. 21:10) We read that even the enemies of Jesus said, ‘‘….the world is gone after him.’’

(John 12:19) The occasion of Palm Sunday took place one week before His resurrection from the grave. While in a little village called Bethphage Jesus said to his disciples, ‘‘Go to a certain corner where two ways meet: there will be a home. You will find a colt tied. Bring that beast of burden. I am going to ride it into the city today.’’

So, we can see that Palm Sunday is a day of great rejoicing because of the coming of the King amongst his people.

But amongst all the rejoicing, this next week, is full of so many twists and turns far beyond our comprehension …a rollercoaster of events for Our dear Lord Jesus, preordained by God the Father and accepted willingly by our lord Jesus for sakes and for our salvation.

However, amongst the rejoicing crowds shouting ‘Hosanna!’ were also the Pharisees and Jesus knew that this journey would also lead to his death for our salivation, only five days later. This was certainly an extremely important journey and was filled by both the rejoicing and waving of palm with the shouting of ‘Hosanna!’, and the suffering of our dear Lord Jesus knowing that these very people who today rejoiced as he entered Jerusalem would also be the people who would condemn him to physical death on the cross. Jesus knew this was the will and plan of his Heavenly Father for our salvation from sin and death, he knew what had to happen and our Lord accepted this.

Palm Sunday starts the week with joy and rejoicing, but within this one same week, we see our Lord betrayed,  we see him arrested, we see him put to trial without crime before Pontius Pilate, we see him tortured, humiliated, and then crucified upon a cross at Calvary, all for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may be be saved.  Then we see the return of joy, as our Lord is resurrected from the grave..victorious over death, our sins paid for by his most blessed innocent sacrifice on our behalf.

Palm Sunday is the day which starts the week which finishes our Lord’s earthly ministry, the week where Our Lord gains salvation for us by his sacrifice of the purest love. This week both starts and ends in joy, but also leaves us with the joyful expectation for when Our Lord will once again, return in Glory.

Of course, there are many types of journeys that we can undertake in our lives, but no journey of ours can ever compare to this journey of our dear Lord and Saviour.

Taking a journey may not always mean travelling, a kind of journey can also be something unexpected which we deal with in our lives and situations in which we may find ourselves. Faith and trust in the Lord is also a kind of journey.

Where is your journey taking you?  Is Jesus going with you?

Let us pray:

Father,

Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be set free through Jesus’ death on the cross. Thank you for what this day stands for – the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the journey towards the power of the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord…”

We give you praise and honour for your ways are righteous and true. We give you worship for you are holy and just. We will declare that your love stands firm forever. For your loving kindness endures forever.

Amen.

 

Blessed Sybil Biscossis

Sybillina’s parents died when she was tiny and as soon as she was old enough to be of use to anyone, the neighbors, who had taken her in at the time she was orphaned, put her out to work. She must have been very young when she started to work, because at the age of 12, when she became blind and could not work any more, she already had several years of work behind her.

The cause of her blindness is unknown, but the child was left doubly destitute with the loss of her sight. The local chapter of the Dominican tertiary sisters took compassion on the child and brought her home to live with them. After a little while of experiencing their kind help, she wanted to join them. They accepted her, young though she was, more out of pity than in any hope of her being able to carry on their busy and varied apostolate.

They were soon agreeably surprised to find out how much she could do. She learned to chant the Office quickly and sweetly, and to absorb their teaching about mental prayer as though she had been born for it. She imposed great obligations of prayer on herself, since she could not help them in other ways. Her greatest devotion was to Saint Dominic, and it was to him she addressed herself when she finally became convinced that she simply must have her sight back so that she could help the sisters with their work.

Praying earnestly for this intention, Sybillina waited for his feast day. Then, she was certain, he would cure her. Matins came and went with no miracle; little hours, Vespers–and she was still blind. With a sinking heart, Sybillina knelt before Saint Dominic’s statue and begged him to help her. Kneeling there, she was rapt in ecstasy, and she saw him come out of the darkness and take her by the hand.

He took her to a dark tunnel entrance, and she went into the blackness at his word. Terrified, but still clinging to his hand, she advanced past invisible horrors, still guided and protected by his presence. Dawn came gradually, and then light, then a blaze of glory. “In eternity, dear child,” he said. “Here, you must suffer darkness so that you may one day behold eternal light.”

Sybillina, the eager child, was replaced by a mature and thoughtful Sybillina who knew that there would be no cure for her, that she must work her way to heaven through the darkness. She decided to become a anchorite, and obtained the necessary permission. In 1302, at the age of 15, she was sealed into a tiny cell next to the Dominican church at Pavia. At first she had a companion, but her fellow recluse soon gave up the life. Sybillina remained, now alone, as well as blind.

The first seven years were the worst, she later admitted. The cold was intense, and she never permitted herself a fire. The church, of course, was not heated, and she wore the same clothes winter and summer. In the winter there was only one way to keep from freezing–keep moving–so she genuflected, and gave herself the discipline. She slept on a board and ate practically nothing. To the tiny window, that was her only communication with the outside world, came the troubled and the sinful and the sick, all begging for her help. She prayed for all of them, and worked many miracles in the lives of the people of Pavia.

One of the more amusing requests came from a woman who was terrified of the dark. Sybillina was praying for her when she saw her in a vision, and observed that the woman–who thought she was hearing things–put on a fur hood to shut out the noise. The next day the woman came to see her, and Sybillina laughed gaily. “You were really scared last night, weren’t you?” she asked. “I laughed when I saw you pull that hood over your ears.” The legend reports that the woman was never frightened again.

Sybillina had a lively sense of the Real Presence and a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. One day a priest was going past her window with Viaticum for the sick; she knew that the host was not consecrated, and told him so. He investigated, and found he had indeed taken a host from the wrong container.

Sybillina lived as a recluse for 67 years. She followed all the Masses and Offices in the church, spending what few spare minutes she had working with her hands to earn a few alms for the poor (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: 1287 at Pavia, Lombardy, Italy

Died: 1367 of Natural Causes: Her body remains Incorrupt

Beatified: 1853 (Cultus confirmed); 1854 beautified

Patronage: Children whose parents are not married, illegitimacy, loss of parents

BLESSED ISNARD OF CHIAMPO

Blessed Isnard is another very distinguished and saintly first disciple of Saint Dominic whom Father Touron somehow overlooked. Of Isnard’s life up to the time he entered the Order practically nothing is known with certainty; whilst some of the statements anent his debut as a Friar Preacher are irreconcilable among themselves, and contrary to facts which have been ascertained in later years. Chiampo, a small town not far from Vicenza, Italy, was most likely the place of his birth; yet there are those who give the latter city this honor. Some think he was born of poor parents, and spent his youth in poverty. Others suggest that he belonged to a wealthy family by the name of Isnardi, which has been long extinct.(1)

It is beyond doubt that the future wonder-worker received the habit in Bologna, from Saint Dominic, in 1219; for this is a point on which nearly all the early authors are in accord. This truth seems certainly to prove that he was a student at the university there, and far advanced in his studies, At that time only such applicants were accepted; and this fact is a strong proof that his parents were well-to-do, for only the sons of this kind were given a higher education. Without exception the writers tell us of his singular purity of heart and religious disposition. His mind had been carefully guarded against the evils of the day, and in Bologna he proved faithful to the lessons of his earlier youth. Association with the holy man from Caleruega quickened his efforts for holiness of life and the salvation of souls.

For ten years after he entered the Order of Saint Dominic, we have no positive knowledge of where Isnard made his home. Yet the indications are that he spent this time between Bologna and Milan. In which case, of course, he labored energetically in those parts of Italy. Although a quite corpulent man, we are told, he was endowed with extraordinary energy, and was very gracious in action as well as in word. San Eustorgio, Milan, was most likely his convent for the greater part of this decade. So at least thinks Rudolph Majocchi, Blessed Isnard’s latest hagiographer.(2)

In more than one of our sketches, but especially in that of Saint Peter of Verona, we have seen how the Albigenses and kindred sects overran northern Italy at that date. Milan was one of the centers of Dominican activity against them; and it was from Milan that the convent of the Order in Pavia was founded. At Pavia the heretics were long in the ascendancy. The city was also a stronghold of Frederic II, whose Ghibellines, always opposed to the Holy See, constantly persecuted those who favored the authority of the Church. When, in 1230, zealous Rodobald Cipolla became bishop of Pavia, he found religion in a sad plight in his diocese, and began at once to seek means for a reformation.

Blessed Isnard’s reputation for holiness of life, zeal, eloquence, power over the souls of others, and fearlessness was broadcast. Most likely he had already preached in the Diocese of Pavia — perhaps many times; for the Friars Preacher of Milan carried their work in every direction. Possibly, too, he and Bishop Cipolla, himself an energetic character, had become friends at a prior date. Anyway, one of the new prelate’s first steps for the spiritual betterment of his flock was to invite the subject of our narrative from Milan, that he might establish a house of the Order at Pavia. This was in 1231; and before the close of the year we find the fathers actively engaged in their apostolate under the leadership of the man of God from Chiampo.(3)

The convent, which Rodobald Cipolla generously helped to erect, stood in the little village of Ticino, a short distance outside the walls of Pavia, and was given the name of Saint Mary of Nazareth. Throughout Italy the Friars Preacher were known as an effective aid to the hierarchy against the evils of the day. Thus Bishop Cipolla felt that, at least under Isnard, they would be an immense help to him in putting an end to the inroads of the enemy, and in freeing his diocese from the many ills in which it was enmeshed. He had not long to wait before he saw that his choice of auxiliaries was no mistake.

However, the task proved difficult, trying, and full of danger. On the one hand, the faithful, through long bad associations, had become so cold, careless, and wayward in the practice of their religious duties that it was exceeding hard to arouse them to a sense of their obligations. On the other, the Ghibellines and sectarians, ever of stubborn mood as well as violent in their methods, were even less subject to management. These possessed little or no faith. Besides they were loath to change their views, to amend their lives, or to part with the earthly goods which they had obtained by robbery or dishonesty.

As is ever the case in such conditions, the Friar Preacher’s success began with the poor and the laboring classes. For these he had a special love. He gathered them around him at the conventual church, instructed them in their religion, and inspired them with a love of its practice. Although he met with much opposition at first, it was not long before he had completely changed their lives. Reports of the good thus effected soon spread near and far. Meanwhile, he and his confrères preached throughout the City of Pavia and its environments — in churches, public squares, market places, or wherever they could find a space large enough for an audience. Gradually the wealthier Guelfs, and even not a few of the Ghibellines, began to harken to the call of grace and to receive the sacraments.

Among the little band of missioners Isnard shone with special brilliancy for his saintliness, zeal, and eloquence. The influence which he soon began to wield over the people caused the leaders of the heretics to single him out for their hatred. They mocked and ridiculed him, publicly spurned him, laughed at his corpulent figure, defamed him, threatened him, did everything in their power either to bring him into disrepute or to make him desist from his tireless apostolate. All was in vain. His sermons were incessant. He challenged his enemies wherever he met them. If they undertook to answer him, his inexorable logic put them to shame, or reduced them to silence. Never was he known to be ill natured, or to lose his patience; yet he showed the fire of divine love that glowed within his breast.

No doubt as much to demonstrate the holiness of His faithful servant as for the benefit of those to whom he preached, God blessed Isnard with the gift of miracles. The early writers mention many wrought by him both before and after his death.(4) These, quite naturally, quickened and strengthened the faith of the Catholics. They also gradually undermined the influence and broke the spirit of the heretics, many of whom were brought into the Church. By the time of the holy man’s death, the Diocese of Pavia was free from attacks by Albigenses, Catharists, and similar sects. They bad gone to other parts, been converted, or held their peace. No one could be found who would profess their principles. It was a glorious apostolate brought to a successful termination.

The Ghibellines, or adherents of Emperor Frederic II, gave Christ’s ambassador no end of worry and trouble. These were the rich who were not guided by their consciences in the acquisition of wealth; politicians without scruples; and soldiers of fortune, whose restless spirits ever led them into the service in which they might expect the greatest booty, license, and excitement. The machinations of the German monarch helped to keep them in keen antagonism to ecclesiastical authority and the interests of religion; which, of course, rendered them less responsive to our blessed’s impelling eloquence or the strong influence of his holiness and miracles. We may judge of the contempt of these friends of Frederic for the Holy See from the fact that their acts more than once led to a papal interdict on Pavia.

Still these men, who could laugh at an excommunication and interdict from the highest authority in the Church, perforce loved and admired Father Isnard. His charity, his zeal, his gentle goodness, his purity of heart, his constant efforts for the right, which they witnessed day by day, simply wrung respect from them. His dealings with Frederic II must have been much like those of John of Wildeshausen. Even when Bishop Cipolla was driven into exile, Isnard and his band of missionaries were left to continue their fruitful labors. In the absence of the ordinary, the clergy who still remained in the diocese seem to have gathered around the subject of our sketch for guidance. Possibly the saintly prelate, at the time of his departure, placed him in charge of his spiritual vineyard.(5)

Despite the turbulence and the anti-ecclesiastical spirit of the day, the holy Friar Preacher from Chiampo effected untold good even among this class of citizens. Documents which have escaped the ravages of time show that some, who deferred conversion until on their deathbeds, made him the instrument of their restitution. Others entrusted him with their charity and benefactions. Historians call him an apostle of Pavia, and largely attribute the preservation of the faith in the city to his zeal.

Another proof of the respect and confidence which Isnard enjoyed among all classes, as well as of his reputation abroad, is found in the incident which we have now to tell. From early times the Diocese of Tours, France, possessed landed estates in and around Pavia. Because of the political disturbances and the Ghibelline spirit, to which we have referred, the canons of the Tours cathedral found it impossible to collect their rents. In this dilemma, they appointed our Friar Preacher their agent; for they felt that he was the only man in northern Italy who either could obtain their dues for them, or would dare undertake the task. This was in 1240, the year after the historic excommunication of Frederic 11 by Gregory IX. The affair shows bow wisely Isnard steered his course, how all venerated him at home, and how well his courage and prudence were known even in France.(6)

Like a number of the early disciples of Saint Dominic whose lives we have outlined, the apostle and reformer of Pavia did not feel that he had done his all for the benefit of religion until he established a community of Dominican Sisters. These he placed in the immediate vicinity of his own convent, that he might the better look after their spiritual welfare. Their house bore the same name as that of the fathers — Saint Mary of Nazareth. Although he had perhaps never seen Prouille, his double institution at Pavia must have been much like that with which the Order started in southern France. The dowries of many of these sisters indicate that he founded them, in part, so that wealthy worldly dames, whom he had converted, might have a place in which they could more completely give themselves to the service of God. Saint Dominic, it will be recalled, established the community of Prouille principally with women converted from Albigensianism. When, some years after our blessed’s death, the fathers moved into the city proper, the original Saint Mary of Nazareth was turned over to the sisters.

Isnard had a profound devotion towards the Mother of God. He perpetually preached her protection over the faithful. In every way he propagated love and veneration for her. Father Majocchi thinks that this apostolate was of immense aid to him in his work of reformation; for no other piety seems to be more congenital to the affectionate Italian character. He labored zealously on almost to the very last. At least the Lives of the Brethren (Vitae Fratrum) say his final sickness was a matter of only a few days. The manuscript annals, or chronicles, of the old Friar-Preacher convent at Pavia tell us that he surrendered his pure soul to God on March 19, 1244. He knew that the end was near, prepared for it, and died as holily as he had lived.(7)

We have no account of the funeral of the man of God. Yet the great love and admiration in which he was held justify one in the belief that the Pavians attended it in immense numbers. Perhaps the sad event plunged the city in no less grief than his own community. He was buried in the Church of Saint Mary of Nazareth, where his tomb became at once a place of pilgrimage for the city and province of Pavia. Not a few miracles were wrought in answer to prayers to him. The name Isnard was often given to children at their baptism.

Later, for various reasons, the fathers moved into the city proper. First (1281), they took possession of San Marino, but gave up this place the next year for Saint Andrew’s. There they remained until 1302, when they exchanged Saint Andrew’s for Saint Thomas’, which was better suited to their purposes. At this last location they at once began a splendid temple of prayer, which was completed between 1320 and 1330. The body of Blessed Isnard, which had been brought from the extra-urban Church of Saint Mary of Nazareth to Saint Andrew’s, while the fathers lived in the latter convent, was again translated and enshrined in a marble sarcophagus built for the purpose in a chapel of the new Saint Thomas’ Church. The devotion of the people followed his relies to both of these places of rest. Nor is it any stretch of fancy to imagine that the two translations were times of great fervor for all Pavia.

Unfortunately, in a spirit of zeal and friendship, the fathers gave the use of Blessed Isnard’s Chapel, as it was called, to the University of Pavia for religious functions. Although its walls were afterwards decorated with paintings commemorative of the chief events in his life, these academic associations tended rather to decrease veneration for the saintly Friar Preacher. The misfortunes of Pavia during the Spanish-Austrian reigns of Charles V and Philip III, which lasted almost throughout the sixteenth century, well-nigh caused him (or rather his final resting-place) to be forgotten even by some members of his own Order, and his relies to be scattered to the winds. Happily the researches of Pavian historians helped to avert such a disaster.

In spite of the most thorough identification, however, and to the great sorrow of the fathers, the rector and senate of the university, though without authority in the matter, later compelled our blessed’s sarcophagus to be taken from the chapel and destroyed. This was in 1763. But, before its removal, the community reverently gathered up his relies and placed them in a wooden chest. All this was done in the presence of Cardinal Charles Francis Durini, who then closed the box, and fastened it with his seal. Thence until the suppression of Saint Thomas’ Convent by Emperor Joseph II, in 1785, Isnard’s relies were carefully preserved in the archives. The fathers then took the chest, with its precious contents, to Saint Peter’s. When, in 1799, they were also forced to leave this abode, they gave their spiritual treasure to Bishop Joseph Bertieri, O. S. A. This prelate, after an official examination, not only entrusted Isnard’s relies to the Church of Saints Gervasius and Protasius, but even ordered them to be exposed for public veneration.

It looks providential that, under all these changes and difficulties, popular devotion for Saint Dominic’s early disciple did not completely die out. That it continued to exist shows the unalterable love in which the Pavians held him. Bishop Bertieri’s act gave it new life. In 1850 portions of his relies were given to Chiampo and Vicenza. Old paintings of him here and there, which represented him as a saint, also helped the cause. In 1907 the diocesan authorities of Pavia approved of his cult, and requested the Holy See to accept their decision. The late Benedict XV, of happy memory, after a thorough investigation by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (that is, in 1919), granted his office and mass to the Friars Preacher and the Diocese of Pavia. March 22 was appointed as his feast day.

Isnard is the last of the original disciples of Dominic to be accorded the honors of the altar. The late date of his beatification affords the hope that several others of them may yet he similarly dignified by the Church.

Ambrose of Siena

Ambrose was born at Siena on 16 April 1220, of the noble family of Sansedoni. When about one year old, Ambrose was cured of a congenital deformity, in the Dominican church of St. Mary Magdalene. As a child and youth he was noted for his love of charity, exercised especially towards pilgrims, the sick in hospitals, and prisoners. He entered the novitiate of the Dominican convent in his native city at the age of seventeen, was sent to Paris to continue his philosophical and theological studies under Albert the Great and had for a fellow-student there, St. Thomas Aquinas.

In 1248 he was sent with St. Thomas to Cologne where he taught in the Dominican schools. In 1260 he was one of the band of missionaries who evangelized Hungary. In 1266 Sienna was put under an interdict for having espoused the cause of the Emperor Frederick II, then at enmity with the Holy See. The Siennese petitioned Ambrose to plead their cause before the Sovereign Pontiff, and so successfully did he do this that he obtained for his native city full pardon and a renewal of all her privileges. The Siennese soon cast off their allegiance; a second time Ambrose obtained pardon for them. He brought about a reconciliation between King Conradin of Germany and Pope Clement IV.

About this time he was chosen bishop of his native city, but he declined the office. For a time, he devoted himself to preaching the Eighth Crusade; and later, at the request of Pope Gregory X, caused the studies which the late wars had practically suspended to be resumed in the Dominican convent at Rome. After the death of Pope Gregory X he retired to one of the convents of his order, whence he was summoned by Innocent V and sent as papal legate to Tuscany. He restored peace there between Florence and Pisa and also between the dogal republics of Venice and Genoa, another pair of commercial rivals within Italy.

He died at Sienna, in 1286. His name was inserted in the Roman Martyrology in 1577. His biographers exhibit his life as one of perfect humility. He loved poetry, and many legends are told of victories over carnal temptations.

He was renowned as a preacher. His oratory, simple rather than elegant, was most convincing and effective. His sermons, although once collected, are not extant

The Feast of St. Joseph ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Liturgical Colour: White.

Reading 1: 2 SM 7:4-5A, 12-14A, 16

Responsorial Psalm: PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

Reading 2: ROM 4:13, 16-18, 22

Gospel: MT 1:16, 18-21, 24A  or: LK 2:41-51A

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, we come together as the Church to commemorate St. Joseph, the Spouse of The Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster Father of our Lord and Saviour,Jesus, when he became one of us here upon the Earth.

In the same way in which God, our Heavenly Father, who gives each of us as his children, unconditional love, care, stability and who sets us the standard with which we should strive to live our lives with his holy word in the scriptures, a true Father to each and every single one of us, who only ever wants the very best for all his children.  St. Joseph follows our Father’s example, as both husband and foster father.  He gives us examples which men should follow in their lives. Joseph cared for and provided for the Holy Household. There are many qualities that Joseph had which we could use to be the role model for Christian husbands and fathers. Joseph was a very compassionate man.  We can see an example of this when he suspected his wife of infidelity; he planned to divorce her quietly rather than denounce her publicly and expose her to public shame and penalty.

Joseph was always obedient to God and did what he knew was God’s will without thought or hesitation.  Examples of this are that he kept Mary as his wife; he protected and provided for his family when they had to flee to foreign lands to protect them from danger.

Joseph led a life of deep prayer and was in communion with God, and would always seek out that which was God’s will. God often told Joseph his will using dreams.

Joseph was a provider of care, When Jesus’s life was threatened, Joseph would take them out of danger. He took his family to Egypt and only returned when it was safe to do so, and when Jesus went missing at aged twelve, Joseph went searching for him because obviously, both parents were obviously extremely worried about Jesus’s safety.

Joseph also brought much more to Jesus’s life, he taught him his trade which Jesus worked in for about twenty years, he gave Jesus the love and stability he as any child needs, and was his earthly male role model, which was and still is vitally important for a good father to give any child.

He was a man with a firm faith in God coupled with a resilient personality, who did not complain and was not appalled nor distressed in the midst of trials and tribulations, St. Joseph knew how to face, carry and solve the burden of his vocation, of life’s difficulties and responsibilities with serenity, with complete faith and love, entrusting himself totally and unconditionally to God’s plans.

Sadly not all children are brought up in such a way today, but husbands and fathers truly should seek to follow this sincere man of God in the way they run their lives. Are you married? Do you give all the love, trust and respect to your spouse? Or with stresses and strains do you always argue or not truly make time for each other? If you have children, do you know where they are and if they are safe, or who they might be talking to online? Do you give emotional stability, patience and unconditional love? Do your children see you as the role model they need in a Father?  We should always strive to be as our heavenly Father is to each of us, whether that be to our spouses, to our children, and in fact to all as our brothers and sisters.

While the Gospels do not shed much light on St. Joseph’s life, it is believed that he died before Jesus’ public ministry.

St. Joseph is the patron of fathers, spouses, priests and seminarians. But also, St. Joseph teaches  us so much by his silent example of his life, and just how we should love God faithfully and obediently.

Let us pray:

Blessed St. Joseph, husband of Mary,

be with us this day.

You protected and cherished the Virgin;

loving the Child Jesus as your Son,

you rescued Him from the danger of death.

Defend the Church,

the household of God,

purchased by the Blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,

be with us in our trials.

May your prayers obtain for us

the strength to flee from error

and wrestle with the powers of corruption

so that in life we may grow in holiness

and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pray to God through your powerful intercession for all the fathers and spouses in the world so that they may imitate you in your faith, love and fidelity to God and your family.

 

 

 

We entrust to you as well all the families in the world so that they may imitate the virtues lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth and become its faithful image.

 

 

 

Through your intercession, may God shower more vocations to His Church, especially the vocation to priesthood, and may all priests and future priests strive be holy, faithful and apostolic ministers of Christ.