May 25 – Memorial for St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Worker; Memorial for St. Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin
St. Bede (672-735) was born around the time England was finally, completely Christianized. He was raised from age seven in the abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. He was a Benedictine monk, and the spiritual student of the founder, St. Benedict Biscop. He was ordained in 702 by St. John of Beverley. He was a teacher and author; he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.
He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
- Patron Saint Index
St. Gregory (1020-1085) was educated in Rome, Italy. He was a Benedictine monk, and chaplain to Pope Gregory VI. He was in charge of the Patrimony of St. Peter. He was a reformer and an excellent administrator. He was chosen the 152nd pope, but he declined the crown. He was chief counsellor to Pope Victor II, Pope Stephen IX, Pope Benedict X, and Pope Nicholas II. He eventually became the 157th pope.
At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property.
The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture. He summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove them out. Gregory then retreated to Salerno, Italy, where he spent the remainder of his papacy.
- Patron Saint Index
St. Catherine (1566-1607) had a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at the age of 14, but was taken back home by her family, who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalene. She as a mystic, and led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Her life was marked by many extraordinary graces. Patron Saint Index
“Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.”
What a beautiful prayer we read in today’s Gospel. One with each other in the sufferings we go through, one in the joys and laughter that we share, one in our conversations, one in our vision. What a beautiful sight to see everyone understanding each other and just putting differences aside to work together to achieve a common goal, via a common vision.
I feel the issue arises when we fail to put aside our differences — either we feel that what we want should be the way, or we simply care about ourselves more than the other; or think we know best and know better than the other. These end up being the obstacles that divide us rather than unite. In situations where I have to deal with people with a lack of self-awareness and empathy especially, I try not to have to work with them at all, to separate myself and move further away; as sometimes, it’s not worth it, they don’t seem worth it. How can we be one then?
I believe we all have our idiosyncrasies, our unique thinking and behaviours, but I feel that centering our lives on Christ, being one with Him first, will then allow all of us to be one with each other. It is not for us to say or judge if another has truly been one with Christ yet, but we can only look to ourselves if we are one with Him. For when we are truly one with Him, we will know that we can be one with everyone else.
Such a challenge indeed — how God calls to sacrifice, forgive, love and repeat the process. God doesn’t just seek this for us but He practices this first, through the life of Jesus, in the Old Testament and through the Holy Spirit today. In this, we see how we too, are challenges in all of us becoming one. Let’s pray together.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, you seem to call us to be perfect. Maybe that’s what we seem to desire for others too. When we want things our way, when we just can’t comprehend the minds of others that are so irrational. We distance ourselves or destroy relationships as they are just unforgivable.
Dear Lord, may we remember the many times that we have been forgiven, sometimes, we unknowingly may have hurt the people around us by our words and actions. We may have been on the receiving end of forgiveness too.
‘If only one day they realise…’, a phrase that I believe many of us may have prayed at various points of our lives, Lord, help us to realise that we can do more, give us your wisdom, teach us your way as with not giving in, is simply wanting others to conform or agree with our way. Help us to show your way, to live your way, to desire to be one with you and through you, be one with all. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for desiring to be one with us, in all our brokenness and unworthiness. Thank you, Lord.
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