The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
God is Love
218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love.38 And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.
219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”
220 God’s love is “everlasting”: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.” Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
221 But St. John goes even further when he affirms that “God is love”: God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret:45 God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.
Give thanks to the LORD, who is good, whose love endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say: God’s love endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron say, God’s love endures forever.
Let those who fear the LORD say, God’s love endures forever.
In danger I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.
The LORD is with me; I am not afraid; what can mortals do against me?
The LORD is with me as my helper; I shall look in triumph on my foes.
Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in mortals.
Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in princes.
All the nations surrounded me; in the LORD’S name I crushed them.
They surrounded me on every side; in the LORD’S name I crushed them.
They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like fire among thorns; in the LORD’S name I crushed them.
I was hard pressed and falling, but the LORD came to my help.
The LORD, my strength and might, came to me as savior.
The joyful shout of deliverance is heard in the tents of the victors: “The LORD’S right hand strikes with power;
the LORD’S right hand is raised; the LORD’S right hand strikes with power.”
I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the LORD.
The LORD chastised me harshly, but did not hand me over to death.
Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the LORD.
This is the LORD’S own gate, where the victors enter.
I thank you for you answered me; you have been my savior.
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the LOD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.
LORD, grant salvation! LORD, grant good fortune!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the LORD’S house.
The LORD is God and has given us light. Join in procession with leafy branches up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, I give you thanks; my God, I offer you praise.
Give thanks to the LORD, who is good, whose love endures forever.
Source: The New American Bible
Blaise (Armenian: Սուրբ Վլասի, Soorp Vlasi; Greek: Άγιος Βλάσιος, Agios Vlasios; also known as Saint Blase), was a physician, and bishop of Sebastea in historical Armenia (modern Sivas, Turkey). According to the Acta Sanctorum, he was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron combs, and beheaded. He is the patron saint of wool combers. In the Latin Church his feast falls on 3 February, in the Eastern Churches on 11 February.
The first reference we have to him is in manuscripts of the medical writings of Aëtius Amidenus, a court physician of the very end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century; there his aid is invoked in treating objects stuck in the throat.
Marco Polo reported the place where “Messer Saint Blaise obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom”, Sebastea; the shrine near the citadel mount was mentioned by William of Rubruck in 1253. However, it appears to no longer exist.
From being a healer of bodily ailments, Saint Blaise became a physician of souls, then retired for a time to a cavern where he remained in prayer. As bishop of Sebastea, Blaise instructed his people as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills. He is said to have healed animals (who came to the saint on their own for his assistance) and to have been assisted by animals.
In 316, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia Agricolaus began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius and Saint Blaise was seized. After his interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison, and subsequently beheaded.
The Acts of St. Blaise
The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. The Acts of St. Blaise, written in Greek, are medieval.
The legend as given in the Grande Encyclopédie is as follows:
Blaise, who had studied philosophy in his youth, was a doctor in Sebaste in Armenia, the city of his birth, who exercised his art with miraculous ability, good-will, and piety. When the bishop of the city died, he was chosen to succeed him, with the acclamation of all the people. His holiness was manifest through many miracles: from all around, people came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing. In 316, Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia and of Lesser Armenia, having arrived in Sebastia at the order of the emperor Licinius to kill the Christians, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to jail, a mother set her only son, choking to death of a fish-bone, at his feet, and the child was cured straight away. Regardless, the governor, unable to make Blaise renounce his faith, beat him with a stick, ripped his flesh with iron combs, and beheaded him.
According to the Acts, while Blaise was being taken into custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was choking on a fishbone, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured. Consequently, Saint Blaise is invoked for protection against injuries and illnesses of the throat.
In many places on the day of his feast the blessing of St. Blaise is given: two burning candles, blessed on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord (“candlemas”), are held in a crossed position by a priest over the heads of the faithful or the people are touched on the throat with them. At the same time the following blessing is given: “May Almighty God at the intercession of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, preserve you from infections of the throat and from all other afflictions”. Then the priest makes the sign of the cross over the faithful.
Saint Ansgar (8 September 801 – 3 February 865), also known as Anskar or Saint Anschar, was a Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen – a northern part of the Kingdom of the East Franks. The See of Hamburg was designated a mission to bring Christianity to Northern Europe, and Ansgar became known as the “Apostle of the North”.
Ansgar was the son of a noble Frankish family, born near Amiens. After his mother’s early death, Ansgar was brought up in Corbie Abbey, and was educated at the Benedictine monastery in Picardy. According to the Vita Ansgarii (“Life of Ansgar”), when the little boy learned in a vision that his mother was in the company of Saint Mary, his careless attitude toward spiritual matters changed to seriousness (“Life of Ansgar”, 1). His pupil, successor, and eventual biographer Rimbert considered the visions of which this was the first to be the main motivation of the saint’s life.
Ansgar was a product of the phase of Christianization of Saxony (present day Northern Germany) begun by Charlemagne and continued by his son and successor, Louis the Pious. A group of monks including Ansgar were sent back to Jutland with the baptized exiled king Harald Klak. Ansgar returned two years later after educating young boys who had been purchased because Harald had possibly been driven out of his kingdom. In 822 Ansgar was one of a number of missionaries sent to found the abbey of Corvey (New Corbie) in Westphalia, and there became a teacher and preacher. Then in 829 in response to a request from the Swedish king Björn at Hauge for a mission to the Swedes, Louis appointed Ansgar missionary. With an assistant, the friar Witmar, he preached and made converts for six months at Birka, on Lake Mälaren. They organized a small congregation there with the king’s steward, Hergeir, and Mor Frideborg as its most prominent members. In 831 he returned to Louis’ court at Worms and was appointed to the Archbishopric of Hamburg. This was a new archbishopric with a see formed from those of Bremen and Verden, plus the right to send missions into all the northern lands and to consecrate bishops for them. He was given the mission of evangelizing Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The King of Sweden decided to cast lots as to whether the Christian missionaries should be admitted into his kingdom. Ansgar recommended the issue to the care of God, and the lot was favorable.
Ansgar was consecrated in November 831, and, the arrangements having been at once approved by Gregory IV, he went to Rome to receive the pallium directly from the hands of the pope and to be named legate for the northern lands. This commission had previously been bestowed upon Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims, but the jurisdiction was divided by agreement, with Ebbo retaining Sweden for himself. For a time Ansgar devoted himself to the needs of his own diocese, which was still missionary territory with but a few churches. He founded a monastery and a school in Hamburg; the school was intended to serve the Danish mission, but accomplished little.
After Louis died in 840, his empire was divided and Ansgar lost the abbey of Turholt, which had been given as an endowment for his work. Then in 845, the Danes unexpectedly raided Hamburg, destroying all the church’s treasures and books and leaving the entire diocese unrestorable. Ansgar now had neither see nor revenue. Many of his helpers deserted him, but the new king, Louis the German, came to his aid; after failing to recover Turholt for him, in 847 he awarded him the vacant diocese of Bremen, where he took up residence in 848. However, since Hamburg had been an archbishopric, the sees of Bremen and Hamburg were combined for him. This presented canonical difficulties and also aroused the anger of the Bishop of Cologne, to whom Bremen had been suffragan, but after prolonged negotiations, Pope Nicholas I approved the union of the two dioceses in 864.
Through all this political turmoil, Ansgar continued his mission to the northern lands. The Danish civil war compelled him to establish good relations with two kings, Horik the Elder and his son, Horik II. Both assisted him until his death (Wood, 124–125). He was able to secure recognition of Christianity as a tolerated religion and permission to build a church in Sleswick. He did not forget the Swedish mission, and spent two years there in person (848–850), at the critical moment when a pagan reaction was threatened, which he succeeded in averting. In 854, Ansgar returned to Sweden when king Olof ruled in Birka. According to Rimbert, he was well disposed to Christianity. On a Viking raid to Apuole (current village in Lithuania) in Courland, the Swedes plundered the Curonians.
Ansgar wore a rough hair shirt, lived on bread and water, and showed great charity to the poor. Being the first missionary in Sweden and the organiser of the hierarchy in the Nordic countries, he was declared Patron of Scandinavia. Ansgar was buried in Bremen in 865.
His life story was written by his successor as archbishop, Rimbert, in the Vita Ansgarii.