“There’s a New Marshall in Town Phillip!” – Acts 8:1b-8†


Today in Catholic History:
† 753 BC – Romulus and Remus found Rome (traditional).
† 1073 – Death of Pope Alexander II
† 1509 – Henry VIII ascends the throne of England (unofficially) at the death of his father, Henry VII.
† 1651 – Birth of Blessed Joseph Vaz, Apostle of Ceylon (d. 1711)
† 1673 – Birth of Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick, Holy Roman Empire Empress (d. 1742)
† 1767 – Birth of Elisabeth of Württemberg, Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire (d. 1790)
† 1854 – Birth of William Stang, Roman Catholic Bishop (d. 1907)
† Liturgical feasts: Holy Infant of Good Health, Saint Abdecalas, Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Anastasius I, Saint Konrad von Parzham, Saint Wolbodo

 

Today’s reflection is about Saul’s personal mission to destroy the Catholic Church.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

Every man is a fool in some man’s opinion. — Spanish Proverb

Today’s Meditation:

There broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.  Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.  Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.  Thus Philip went down to (the) city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.  With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.  For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured.  There was great joy in that city.  (NAB Acts 8:1b-8) 

The severity of the persecution that breaks out against the Jerusalem community concentrates on the word of Jesus’ resurrection being spread among all the people of the region,  and the dispersal of the Jewish Christian community from Jerusalem, resulting in the conversion of the Samaritans (see Acts 8:4-17, 25).  

All were scattered . . . except the apostles” is an observation that led some modern scholars to conclude that the persecution was limited to the Hellenist (Grecian oriented) Christians, and that the Hebrew Christians were not molested.  Perhaps this is because the Hebrew Christians attitude toward the law and temple was still more in line with that of their fellow Jews.  

Saul . . . was trying to destroy the church” because Saul was able to perceive that the Christian movement among the Jews of Jerusalem, contained the seeds of a major doctrinal divergence from Judaism.  A pupil of Gamaliel the Elder, a Pharisee doctor of the Jewish Law, who was a man of great respect (see Acts 22:3); Saul was totally dedicated to the law as the way of salvation (see Gal 1:13-14), Saul accepted the task of crushing the Christian movement.  He believed that the Christian teachings detracted from the importance of the Jewish Temple and laws.  His vehement opposition to Christianity reveals how difficult it was for a Jew of his time to accept a messianic revelation that differed so greatly from the general expectation of the tradition of the  messiah.

Saul’s devotion to the Jewish faith was so strong and militant in his approach, that it was hard for anyone to dissuade him from his Jewish faith and beliefs, nor his mission to literally destroy any believers of Jesus being the messiah or Christ-figure.  The strength of his devotion to a religion never changed: only his religion changed.  After becoming a Christian, his faith was at least equal to Jesus’ disciples and apostles.

Phillip left for “heathen” turf.  He felt certain that no one would ever come for him so far away from the center of the Jewish faith.  Jesus went to the “unwanted” in Jewish society: the sick, lame, and criminals.  Now, His disciples have gone to areas that the Jewish faith is of little concern.  Jesus said He is he Bread of Life, and now He is becoming the Bread of Life for all: the devout, and the uncommitted; the religious and the secular; the Jew and the pagan.

The crowds apparently were not only interested with what Phillip- was telling them, they accepted his teachings and became followers: they became Christians.  With accepting the faith, they also became vessels for the Holy Spirit, and miracles are always present when the Holy Spirit is involved.  The majority only had the small miracle of knowing that through Jesus, they will live for eternity in paradise regardless of what happens in their mortal lives.  Some had added miracles of healing: mentally, physically, and most definitely spiritually.

Any time I have found that people that have let God into their lives, great joy and awe erupts with illuminating emotions on all faces: the individuals involved, and in the witnesses.  Watch people when they are baptized, confirmed, or have just received forgiveness through the Sacrament of reconciliation.  Look at the faces of the parents of adult children that enter the Church during the Easter Season through the RCIA program.  See all the faces on the altar and in the pews, at a wedding ceremony.  All you see is joy, with only one not happy: Satan.

“Lord Jesus, use me as you used Phillip to evangelize to the ‘heathens’ in my own society.  Let me be an instrument of your love and peace.  Amen.” 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Conrad of Parzham 1818-1894

Conrad, whose baptismal name was John, was the son of the devout and honest couple George Birndorfer and Gertrude Niedermayer. He was born on a farm near the town of Parzham in Bavaria in the year 1818. From his earliest years he gave indications of his future sanctity by his modesty and love of solitude. The fervor of his devotion was noticeable especially when he prayed in church, the distant location of which was no hindrance to his visiting it frequently even in inclement weather. He was inflamed with great love for the Blessed Virgin, and each day fervently recited the rosary. On feast days he frequently made a journey to some remote shrine of the Mother of God. During such pilgrimages, always made on foot, he was constantly engaged in prayer, and when he returned in the evening, he was usually still fasting.

Having spent his youthful years on the farm, closely united to God by means of interior union with Him, he decided at the age of 31 to bid farewell to the world. After disposing of a very large inheritance, he received permission to be admitted as a lay brother among the Capuchins.

Immediately after his profession he was sent to the convent of St. Anne in the city of Altoetting. This place is particularly renowned among all others in Germany for its shrine of the Mother of Mercy, and hundreds, even thousands of the faithful come there daily. Because of the great concourse of people in this city, the duty of the porter at the friary is a very difficult one. As soon as he arrived, this charge was given to Conrad, who retained it until his death. Diligent at his work, sparing in words, bountiful to the poor, eager and ready to receive and help strangers, Brother Conrad calmly fulfilled the task of porter for more than 40 years, during which time he greatly benefited the inhabitants of the city as well as strangers in all their needs of body and soul.

Among the virtues he practiced, he loved silence in a special way. His spare moments during the day were spent in a nook near the door where it was possible for him to see and adore the Blessed Eucharist. During the night he would deprive himself of several hours of sleep, to devote the time to prayer either in the oratory of the brothers or in the church. Indeed, it was quite generally believed that he never took any rest, but continually occupied himself in work and exercises of devotion.

On a certain feast day, when he had ministered to a large number of pilgrims, he felt his strength leaving him. He was obliged to manifest his weakness to his superior. Obedience sent him to bed. Only three days later, little children, to whom the news of Conrad’s sickness had not been given lest they be over saddened, gathered as by instinct around the friary, reciting the rosary. As Blessed Father Francis had died to the music of the birds he loved, so his son died with the voices of the children, these lovely creatures of God, ringing in his ears. On April 21, 1894, the Capuchin porter heard the sound of the Bell for which he had so patiently waited. For the last time he ran to the Door. But this time the Door was literally his Christ.

His heroic virtues and the miracles he performed won for him the distinction to be ranked among the Blessed by Pope Pius XI in the year 1930. Four years later, the same pope, approving additional miracles which had been performed, solemnly inscribed his name in the list of saints.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #21:

On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.   Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

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