Jan 27 – Memorial for St. Angela Merici, virgin
St. Angela Merici (1474-1540) became a Franciscan tertiary at the age of 15. She received a vision telling her that she would inspire devout women in their vocation.
In Crete, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
In 1535, she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the ‘Institute of St. Ursula’ (the Ursuline Sisters), founded to teach children, beginning with religion and later expanding into secular topics; her first schools were in Desenazno and Brescia.
- Patron Saint Index
What the sower is sowing is the word
Among the huge variety of videos that one might view on Facebook, there would be those rare handful that are particularly heartwarming, uplifting and inspiring. The story of Ian Manuel and Debbie Baigrie is one such example. When Ian was 13, he was involved with an attempted robbery that ended with him shooting Debbie in the face. She miraculously survived, and Ian was given life imprisonment after confessing to the crime. While in prison, he called Debbie to ask for her forgiveness. She not only forgave him, she became his friend and advocate, helping to end the practice of giving juveniles life-without-parole sentences for crimes of lesser severity than murder.
The parable of the sower is a well-known one, and readers of this parable would usually relate to this parable by immediately placing themselves into one of the categories of receivers – are they the path, rocky ground, full of thorns or good soil? While preparing for this reflection, I came across the following quote by John Chrysostom, one of the early church fathers. “As the sower fairly and indiscriminately disperses seed broadly over all his field, so does God offer gifts to all, making no distinction between rich and poor, wise and foolish, lazy or diligent, brave or cowardly. He addresses everyone, fulfilling his part, although knowing the results beforehand…” If we are the sower, we would probably think that it is an unwise and highly uneconomical move to sow seeds along the path and among thorns. Our resources are, after all, limited. But God does not face the same constraints we do. His love and grace are always in abundance for all who are open to them, even if they do not appear to be worthy or suitable recipients.
What is so appealing about Debbie and Ian’s story? Both of them had made unlikely moves — one showed incredible humility and courage in seeking forgiveness from someone he almost killed, while the victim went beyond forgiveness to offer help and support to her attacker. Perhaps, in our effort to lead Christ-like lives, one of the keys is to make unlikely moves that will help others transform themselves from a path to a field, rocks to soil, thorn-filled to thorn-free.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the discipline to turn away from sin and find the strength to make the difficult but God-loving decisions that are uncomfortable for us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the forgiveness of God.