8 February, Monday — The Power of Light

8 Feb – Memorial for St. Jerome Emiliani; Memorial for St. Josephine Bakhita, virgin

St. Jerome (1481–1537) was born wealthy, the son of Angelo and Eleanor Mauroceni Emiliani. His father died when Jerome was a teenager, and he ran away from home at age 15. After a dissolute youth, he became a soldier in Venice in 1506. He commanded the League of Cambrai forces at the fortress of Castelnuovo near Trevso. He was captured by Venetian forces on Aug 27, 1511, and was chained in a dungeon. Here, he prayed to Our Lady for help and was miraculously freed by an apparition. He hung his chains on a church wall as an offering. He became Mayor of Treviso while studying for the priesthood, and was ordained in the spotted-fever plague year of 1518.

He cared for the sick and housed orphans in his own home. At night, he roamed the streets, burying those who had collapsed and died unattended. He contracted the fever himself, but survived. He founded six orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and a hospital.

He founded the Order of Somaschi (Company of Servants of the Poor, or Samascan Fathers) in 1532. It is a congregation of clerks regular vowed to the care of orphans, and named after the town of Somasca where they started, and where they founded a seminary. The society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and it continues its work today in a dozen countries. Jerome is believed to have developed the question-and-answer catechism technique for teaching children religion.

In 1928, Pope Pius XI declared him the patron saint of orphans and abandoned children.

  • Patron Saint Index

St. Josephine (1868–1947) was born to a wealthy Sudanese family. At age 9, she was kidnapped by slave-traders who gave her the name Bakhita. She was sold and resold in the markets at El Obeid and Khartoum, finally purchased in 1883 by Callisto Legnani, an Italian consul who planned to free her. She accompanied Legnani to Italy in 1885, and worked for the family of Augusto Michieli as nanny. She was treated well in Italy and grew to love the country. She joined the Church as an adult convert on Jan 9, 1890, taking the name Josephine as a symbol of her new life.

She entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice, Italy, in 1893, taking her vows on Dec 8, 1896 in Verona, and served as a Canossian Sister for the next 50 years. Her gentle presence, her warm, amiable voice, and her willingness to help with any menial task were a comfort to the poor and suffering people who came to the door of the Institute. After a biography of her was published in 1930, she became a noted and sought-after speaker, raising funds to support missions.

She was canonized on Oct 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and is thought to be the only saint originally from Sudan.

  • Patron Saint Index

Gen 1:1-19
Mk 6:53-56

God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness.

What do you think of when contemplating light and darkness, heat and cold, good and evil? Do you think of them as opposing forces? Or do you think of them as two equal powers, battling it out for supremacy?

I used to think so. That is until I read an article in My Catholic Life about light and darkness. Light dispels darkness. Once there is light, darkness cannot prevail; therefore, darkness is not an equal force to light, but simply an absence of light. Likewise, cold is the absence of warmth or heat.

More importantly, this physical principle applies to the spiritual realm of goodness and evil. God is goodness and love itself. He is the light of life, omnipotent and omniscient. With such a powerful God, victory has already been pre-determined and won! Evil has already been defeated by our Lord Jesus. He has triumphed over death and sin. Just as light dispels darkness, the goodness of God has overcome evil. Simply put, evil is but the absence of God in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still good and evil in this world. Good comes from our God. Evil comes from Satan and his minions. Although God has defeated Satan and has dominion over him; unless we have the grace of God, we can be easily influenced by the devil. He is constantly trying to lure us away from God, away from God’s protection and away from His light. Only when we are distracted and wander away from God, can the devil cause us harm by our sinning against God.  

Evil does not come from God. But sometimes, God uses evil to bring about goodness, something beautiful from something ugly. For example, the trials that we go through make us stronger and more resilient. From a terrible crisis, we see the goodness of humanity coming forth, the selfless caring of strangers.

Our life on earth is like a journey through mountains and valleys. We traverse all kinds of territory, through daylight and darkness. During the dark times, we are afraid of the shadows, of what unknown dangers lurk around us. If we but light a torch that provides us with light and warmth, we are comforted, less afraid, and less likely to stumble as we continue our way. This is the case with our spiritual life. If we turn to God for guidance, for our source of Light and of Goodness, we are comforted beyond belief and we have nothing to fear. For God created light, He is the Light and the Life, He is all we need to dispel any shadows. All we need to do is to turn to Him and to trust Him.  He is all we need.

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  
John 8:12

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, please be our guiding light.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you providing light to the world. Thank you for giving us Jesus as the Light and the Life.


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