The parable of the unjust judge
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’
And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’
+3 John 1:5-8
It is our duty to welcome missionaries and contribute our share to their work
My friend, you have done faithful work in looking after these brothers, even though they were complete strangers to you. They are a proof to the whole Church of your charity and it would be a very good thing if you could help them on their journey in a way that God would approve. It was entirely for the sake of the name that they set out, without depending on the pagans for anything; it is our duty to welcome men of this sort and contribute our share to their work for the truth.
The New American Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Church’s ultimate trial
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
Hallelujah. I will praise the LORD with all my heart in the assembled congregation of the upright.
Great are the works of the LORD, to be treasured for all their delights.
Majestic and glorious is your work, your wise design endures forever.
You won renown for your wondrous deeds; gracious and merciful is the LORD.
You gave food to those who fear you, mindful of your covenant forever.
You showed powerful deeds to your people, giving them the lands of the nations.
The works of your hands are right and true, reliable all your decrees,
Established forever and ever, to be observed with loyalty and care.
You sent deliverance to your people, ratified your covenant forever; holy and awesome is your name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it. Your praise endures forever.
Source: The New American Bible
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, T.O.S.F. (German: Heilige Elisabeth von Thüringen, Hungarian: Árpád-házi Szent Erzsébet; 7 July 1207 – 17 November 1231), also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia or Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia, was a princess of the Kingdom of Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, Germany, and a greatly venerated Catholic saint who was an early member of the Third Order of St. Francis, by which she is honored as its patroness.
Elizabeth was married at the age of 14, and widowed at 20. After her husband’s death she sent her children away and regained her dowry, using the money to build a hospital where she herself served the sick. She became a symbol of Christian charity after her death at the age of 24 and was quickly canonized.
Early Life and Marriage
Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and Gertrude of Merania. Her mother’s sister was Hedwig of Andechs, wife of Duke Heinrich I of Silesia. Her ancestry included many notable figures of European royalty, going back as far as Vladimir the Great of the Kievan Rus. According to tradition, she was born in Hungary, possibly in the castle of Sárospatak, on 7 July 1207.
A sermon printed in 1497 by the Franciscan friar Osvaldus de Lasco, a church official in Hungary, is the first to name Sárospatak as the saint’s birthplace, perhaps building on local tradition. The veracity of this account is not without reproach: Osvaldus also translates the miracle of the roses (see below) to Elizabeth’s childhood in Sárospatak and has her leave Hungary at the age of five.
According to a different tradition she was born in Pozsony, Hungary, (present-day Bratislava, Slovakia), where she lived in the Castle of Posonium until the age of four.
Elizabeth was brought to the court of the rulers of Thuringia in central Germany, to be betrothed to Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia (also known as Ludwig IV), a future union which would reinforce political alliances between the families. She was raised by the Thuringian court and would have been familiar with the local language and culture.
In 1221, at the age of fourteen, Elizabeth married Louis; the same year he was enthroned as Landgrave, and the marriage appears to have been happy.
Religious inclinations, influences
In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived, and the teenage Elizabeth not only learned about the ideals of Francis of Assisi, but started to live them. Louis was not upset by his wife’s charitable efforts, believing that the distribution of his wealth to the poor would bring eternal reward; he is venerated in Thuringia as a saint, though he was never canonized by the Church.
It was also about this time that the priest and later inquisitor Konrad von Marburg gained considerable influence over Elizabeth when he was appointed as her confessor. In the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and plague wrought havoc in Thuringia, Louis, a staunch supporter of the Hohenstaufen Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, represented Frederick II at the Imperial Diet held in Cremona.
Elizabeth assumed control of affairs at home and distributed alms in all parts of their territory, even giving away state robes and ornaments to the poor. Below Wartburg Castle, she built a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to them.
Elizabeth’s life changed irrevocably on 11 September 1227 when Louis, en route to join the Sixth Crusade, died of a fever in Otranto, Italy, just a few weeks before the birth of her daughter Gertrude. Upon hearing the news of her husband’s death, Elizabeth reportedly said, “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today.” His remains were returned to Elizabeth in 1228 and entombed at the Abbey of Reinhardsbrunn.
After Louis’ death, his brother, Henry (German: Heinrich) Raspe, assumed the regency during the minority of Elizabeth’s eldest child, Hermann (1222–1241). After bitter arguments over the disposal of her dowry — a conflict in which Konrad was appointed as the official Defender of her case by Pope Gregory IX — Elizabeth left the court at Wartburg and moved to Marburg in Hesse.
Up to 1888 it was believed, on account of the testimony of one of Elizabeth’s servants during the canonization process, that Elizabeth was driven from the Wartburg in the winter of 1227 by her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, who acted as regent for her son, then only five years old. About 1888 various investigators (Börner, Mielke, Wenck, E. Michael, etc.) asserted that Elizabeth left the Wartburg voluntarily. She was not able at the castle to follow Konrad’s command to eat only food obtained in a way that was certainly right and proper.
Following her husband’s death, Elizabeth made solemn vows to Konrad similar to those of a nun. These vows included celibacy, as well as complete obedience to Konrad as her confessor and spiritual director. Konrad’s treatment of Elizabeth was extremely harsh, and he held her to standards of behavior which were almost impossible to meet. Among the punishments he is alleged to have ordered were physical beatings; he also ordered her to send away her three children. Her pledge to celibacy proved a hindrance to her family’s political ambitions. Elizabeth was more or less held hostage at Pottenstein, the castle of her uncle, Bishop Ekbert of Bamberg, in an effort to force her to remarry. Elizabeth, however, held fast to her vow, even threatening to cut off her own nose so that no man would find her attractive enough to marry.
Elizabeth’s second child Sophie of Thuringia (1224–1275) married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse, since in the War of the Thuringian Succession she won Hesse for her son Heinrich I, called the Child. Elizabeth’s third child, Gertrude of Altenberg (1227–1297), was born several weeks after the death of her father; she became abbess of the monastery of Altenberg Abbey, Hesse near Wetzlar.
Elizabeth built a hospital at Marburg for the poor and the sick with the money from her dowry, where she and her companions cared for them. Her official biography written as part of the canonization process describes how she ministered to the sick and continued to give money to the poor.
Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her miracle of the roses which says that whilst she was taking bread to the poor in secret, she met her husband Ludwig on a hunting party, who, in order to quell suspicions of the gentry that she was stealing treasure from the castle, asked her to reveal what was hidden under her cloak. In that moment, her cloak fell open and a vision of white and red roses could be seen, which proved to Ludwig that God’s protecting hand was at work.
Her husband, according to the vitae, was never troubled by her charity and always supported it. In some versions of this story, it is her brother in law, Heinrich Raspe, who questions her. Hers is the first of many miracles that associate Christian saints with roses, and is the most frequently depicted in the saint’s iconography.
Crucifix in the Bed
Another story about St Elizabeth, also found in Dietrich of Apolda’s Vita, relates how she laid the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her mother-in-law, who was horrified, told this immediately to Ludwig on his return. When Ludwig removed the bedclothes in great indignation, at that instant “Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.” This story also appears in Franz Liszt’s oratorio about Elizabeth.
Death and Legacy
Very soon after the death of Elizabeth, miracles were reported that happened at her grave in the church of the hospital, especially those of healing. On the suggestion of Konrad, and by papal command, examinations were held of those who had been healed between August 1232 and January 1235. The results of those examinations was supplemented by a brief vita of the saint-to-be, and together with the testimony of Elizabeth’s handmaidens and companions, proved sufficient reason for quick canonization. She was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.
The papal bull declaring her a saint is on display in the Schatzkammer of the Deutschordenskirche in Vienna, Austria. Her body was laid in a magnificent golden shrine—still to be seen today—in the Marburg church bearing her name. Her remains were removed and scattered by her own descendant, the Landgrave Philip I “the Magnanimous” of Hesse, at the time of the Reformation.
It is now a Protestant church, but has spaces set aside for Catholic worship. Marburg became a center of the Teutonic Order, which adopted St. Elizabeth as its secondary patroness. The Order remained in Marburg until its official dissolution by Napoleon in 1803. A bejeweled reliquary believed to have contained her head was taken as loot by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years’ War and is today displayed in the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.
Association with the Franciscans
After her death, Elizabeth was commonly associated with the Third Order of Saint Francis, the primarily lay branch of the Franciscan Order, which has helped propagate her cult. Whether she ever actually joined the order, only recently founded in 1221, the year when she married Louis at the age of fourteen, is not proven to everyone’s satisfaction.
It must be kept in mind though that the Third Order was such a new development in the Franciscan movement, that no one official ritual had been established at that point. Elizabeth clearly had a ceremony of consecration in which she adopted a Franciscan religious habit in her new way of life, as noted above.
From her support of the friars sent to Thuringia, she was made known to the founder, St Francis of Assisi, who sent her a personal message of blessing shortly before his death in 1226. Upon her canonization she was declared the patron saint of the Third Order of St Francis, an honor she shares with St Louis IX of France.