Jul 13 – Memorial for St. Henry II
Henry II (972–1024) was the son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. He was educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg. He became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father’s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. He ascended to the throne of Germany in 1002, and was crowned King of Pavia, Italy on 15 May 1004. He married St. Cunegunda, but was never a father. Some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way.
Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. He founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence.
He fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a centre for missions to Slavic countries. He started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and St. Cunegunda were prayerful people, and generous to the poor.
At one point he was cured of an unnamed illness by the touch of St. Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino. He became somewhat lame in his later years. Following Cunegunda’s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God’s kingdom.
- Patron Saint Index
“…for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”
Have you ever had the experience of making a hard-fought decision, only to find yourself making what seems like a complete u-turn due to a set of completely unforseen circumstances? As I write, I am pondering my discernment journey of the past few months and how decided to take a sabbatical from work — for personal and family reasons. I wanted to rest, to learn how to rest, and to also care for my loved ones.
Alas! Barely after a few months of fallow, unexpected opportunities were presented to me. I prayed about it, sought the Lord’s blessings and decided I would take the plunge into work that I had not done before. I felt a mix of excitement, trepidation, uncertainty, inspiration. What should I do? Rather, what would you have me choose, Lord?
In short, there is no sure-fire way of success for the things that require a leap of faith. I leapt. And I soared…initially. Then moments came when I doubted and floundered, and felt myself deep-dive because I was faced with several difficulties and obstacles in the work. Though not insurmountable, I could not help feeling discouraged and second-guessed my decision to re-emerge so quickly into work that was interesting yet complex. I did dwell on this thought: Did I make a wrong move?
Why do I share these? Perhaps this is my honest admission that often, we discover how fragile our hearts are; how fickle our resolve can be; and how finite our will really is! Truly, I am sometimes like my four-year-old who changes his mind about what he wants me to do for him in an instant!
“Mummy, do this for me!” Then, “No! Don’t do this! Do that! Like this!” And then, “Wait, I didn’t say I wanted it. Let me do it myself!”
You get the picture.
My weakness, and probably for most of us (as I try to comfort myself), frustrates me most when I try to “do it all by myself”. God, who is my loving Father, watches me as I struggle and cry and exhaust myself emotionally, physically, spiritually…by taking all of the yoke upon my own back. I refuse to share it with him!
I write tonight to remind myself of the blessed assurance He alone can give, even as I swim upstream in my current endeavour. One precious evening last week, as my husband was out of town and my child was staying over at grandparents, I had the rare chance to visit Novena Church. It is the place where countless novena prayer devotions take place…and God knew I needed it in my loneliness. I stumbled upon the quiet and darkened chapel, having the serendipitous buy of a slim prayer booklet called ‘Jesus, You Take Over’ with me.
Between those pages, I found the solace I needed, like a tired and fussing child who wrestles against his mother’s embrace, only to finally relent and surrender to the warmth and rhythm of her bosom. I was that child in the Lord’s arms, I was the child in Our Lady’s embrace.
These were the simple words I needed to hear:
“To be worried and restless is the opposite of surrendering to Me. If a child wants his mother to take care of him, but wants her to do it his way, he will hamper her work. Shut your eyes and go with the flow of My grace.”
This child-like wisdom settled my heart instantly, and I knew that the only way through my clouds of present unknowing, was not to fight against the fog. Instead, it was safest now to lay my weary head down for a rest in the spot I stood, and trust that Jesus would watch over my sleep, or pick me up and carry me through the confusion. Either way, I was safe to rest. I am always safe to rest in Him.
I write to embrace this truth more fully. I write to also comfort you who need to hear these words today. Jesus has got you. Jesus is with you now as you toss in this stormy sea. Let Him comfort you, free you and guide you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Jesus, I abandon myself to You. Jesus, You take over.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for this littlest of boats you give me Lord, even as I am tossed in these waves. I embrace this littleness not out of naïveté, but with child-like trust in You to care for me.