Jerome Emiliani; Josephine Bakhita, V

+Mark 7:24-30

Jesus left Gennesaret and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not pass unrecognised. A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him straightaway and came and fell at his feet. Now the woman was a pagan, by birth a Syrophoenician, and she begged him to cast the devil out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ But she spoke up: ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied ‘but the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go home happy: the devil has gone out of your daughter.’ So she went off to her home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”


Psalm 105

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the peoples his deeds!

Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds!

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!

Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face.

Recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his signs and his words of judgment,

You descendants of Abraham his servant, offspring of Jacob the chosen one!

The LORD is our God who rules the whole earth.

He remembers forever his covenant, the pact imposed for a thousand generations,

Which was made with Abraham, confirmed by oath to Isaac,

And ratified as binding for Jacob, an everlasting covenant for Israel:

“To you I give the land of Canaan, your own allotted heritage.”

When they were few in number, a handful, and strangers there,

Wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another,

He let no one oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings:

” 3 Do not touch my anointed, to my prophets do no harm.”

Then he called down a famine on the land, destroyed the grain that sustained them.

He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, sold as a slave.

They shackled his feet with chains; collared his neck in iron,

Till his prediction came to pass, and the word of the LORD proved him true.

The king sent and released him; the ruler of peoples set him free.

He made him lord over his palace, ruler over all his possessions,

To instruct his princes by his word, to teach his elders wisdom.

Then Israel entered Egypt; Jacob lived in the land of Ham.

God greatly increased his people, made them too many for their foes.

He turned their hearts to hate his people, to treat his servants unfairly.

He sent his servant Moses, Aaron whom he had chosen.

They worked his signs in Egypt and wonders in the land of Ham.

He sent darkness and it grew dark, but they rebelled against his word.

He turned their waters into blood and killed all their fish.

Their land swarmed with frogs, even the chambers of their kings.

He spoke and there came swarms of flies, gnats through all their country.

For rain he gave them hail, flashes of lightning throughout their land.

He struck down their vines and fig trees, shattered the trees of their country.

He spoke and the locusts came, grass hoppers without number.

They devoured every plant in the land; they ravaged the crops of their fields.

He struck down every firstborn in the land, the first fruits of all their vigor.

He brought his people out, laden with silver and gold; no stragglers among the tribes.

Egypt rejoiced when they left, for panic had seized them.

He spread a cloud as a cover, and made a fire to light up the night.

They asked and he brought them quail; with bread from heaven he filled them.

He split the rock and water gushed forth; it flowed through the desert like a river.

For he remembered his sacred word to Abraham his servant.

He brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with shouts of triumph.

He gave them the lands of the nations, the wealth of the peoples to own,

That they might keep his laws and observe his teachings. Hallelujah!

Source: The New American Bible


Gerolamo Emiliani (Italian: Gerolamo Emiliani also Jerome Aemilian, Hiëronymus Emiliani) (1486 – 8 February 1537), was an Italian humanitarian, founder of the Somaschi Fathers, and saint. He was canonized in 1767 and is the patron saint of orphans.

Biography

Jerome was born in Venice, the son of Angelo Emiliani (popularly called Miani) and Eleonore Mauroceni. His father died when he was a teenager and Jerome ran away at the age of 15 to join the army. In 1508, he participated in the defense of Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray. He was appointed governor of a fortress in the mountains of Treviso, and while defending his post was taken prisoner. His escape he attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God; and he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow, and left his chains as an offering. He was then appointed podestà (Venetian magistrate) of Castelnuovo, but after a short time returned to Venice to supervise the education of his nephews. All his spare time was devoted to the study of theology and to works of charity. In the year of plague and famine (1528), he seemed to be everywhere and showed his zeal, especially for the orphans, whose number had so greatly increased. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. He rented a house for them near the church of St. Rose and, with the assistance of some pious laymen, ministered to their needs. To his charge was also committed the hospital for incurables, founded by St. Cajetan. In 1531 he went to Verona and induced the citizens to build a hospital; in Brescia, Bergamo, Milan and other places in northern Italy, he erected orphanages, for boys and for girls. At Bergamo, he also founded a hostel for repentant prostitutes.

Congregation of Regular Clerics

Two priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso, then joined him in his labors of charity, and in 1532 Gerolamo founded a religious society, the Congregation of Regular Clerics. The motherhouse was at Somasca, a secluded North Italian hamlet in the Comune of Vercurago between Milan and Bergamo, after which the members became known as Somaschi. In the Rule of this Society, Gerolamo stated the principal work of the community was the care of orphans, poor and sick, and demanded that dwellings, food and clothing would bear the mark of religious poverty. Devoted to the guardian angels, Emiliani entrusted the Company to the protection of the Virgin, the Holy Spirit and the Archangel Raphael.

The Congregation was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III, and the Order, which has as its official name “Clerici Regulares S. Majoli Papiae Congregationis Somaschae,” spread throughout Italy.

During an epidemic, Jerome was assisting the sick when he contracted the plague. He died in Somasca, February 8, 1537.


Josephine Margaret Bakhita, F.D.C.C., (ca. 1869 – 8 February 1947) was a Sudanese-born former slave who became a Canossian Religious Sister in Italy, living and working there for 45 years. In 2000 she was declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Early life

She was born around the year 1869 in the western Sudanese region of Darfur; in the village of Olgossa, west of Nyala and close to Mount Agilerei. She belonged to the prestigious Daju people; her well respected and reasonably prosperous father was brother of the village chief. She was surrounded by a loving family of three brothers and three sisters; as she says in her autobiography: “I lived a very happy and carefree life, without knowing what suffering”.

Sometime between the age of seven to nine, probably in February 1877, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders, who already had kidnapped her elder sister two years earlier. She was cruelly forced to walk barefoot about 960 kilometers (600 mi) to El Obeid and was already sold and bought twice before she arrived there. Over the course of twelve years (1877–1889) she was resold again three more times and then given away. It is said that the trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name; she took one given to her by the slavers, bakhita, Arabic for lucky. She was also forcibly converted to Islam.

Life as a Slave

In El Obeid, Bakhita was bought by a very rich Arab from Arab slave traders who used her as a maid in service to his two daughters. They liked her and treated her well. But after offending one of her owner’s sons, possibly for breaking a vase, the son lashed and kicked her severely that she spent more than a month unable to move from her straw bed. Her fourth owner was a Turkish general and she had to serve his mother-in-law and his wife who both were very cruel to all their slaves. Bakhita says: “During all the years I stayed in that house, I do not recall a day that passed without some wound or other. When a wound from the whip began to heal, other blows would pour down on me.”

She says that the most terrifying of all her memories there was when she (in common with other slaves) was marked by a process resembling both scarification and tattooing, which was a traditional practice throughout Sudan. As her mistress was watching her with a whip in her hand, a dish of white flour, a dish of salt and a razor were brought by a woman. She used the flour to draw patterns on her skin and then she cut deeply along the lines before filling the wounds with salt to ensure permanent scarring. A total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly, and into her right arm.

By the end of 1882, El Obeid came under the threat of an attack of Mahdist revolutionaries. The Turkish general began making preparations to return to his homeland. He sold all his slaves but selected ten of them to be sold later, on his way through Khartoum. There in 1883 Bakhita was bought by the Italian Vice Consul Callisto Legnani, who didn’t use the lash when giving orders and treated her in a loving and cordial way. Two years later, when Legnani himself had to return to Italy, Bakhita begged to go with him. By the end of 1884 they escaped from besieged Khartoum with a friend, Augusto Michieli. They traveled a risky 650-kilometer (400 mi) trip on camel back to Suakin, which then was the largest port of Sudan. In March 1885 they left Suakin for Italy and arrived at the Italian port of Genoa in April. They were met there by Augusto Michieli’s wife Signora Maria Turina Michieli. Callisto Legnani gave the enslavement of Bakhita to Turina Michieli as a present. Bakhita’s new masters took her to their family villa at Zianigo, near Mirano Veneto, about 25 km (16 mi) west of Venice. She lived there for three years and became nanny to the Michieli’s daughter Alice, known as Mimmina, born in February 1886. The Michielis brought Bakhita with them to the Sudan for nine months before returning to Italy.

Conversion to Catholicism and freedom

Suakin in the Sudan was besieged but remained in Anglo-Egyptian hands. Augusto Michieli acquired a large hotel there. He therefore decided to sell his entire property in Italy and to move his family to the Sudan permanently. Selling his house and lands took much longer than expected. By the end of 1888, Turina wanted to see her husband in the Sudan even though land transactions were not finished. Since the villa in Zianigo was already sold, Bakhita and Mimmina needed a temporary place to stay while Turina went to the Sudan without them. At the advice of their business agent Illuminato Cecchini, on 29 November 1888, Signora Turina Michieli left them in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice. When she returned to take them both to Suakin, though, Bakhita firmly refused to leave. For a full three days Mrs. Michieli tried to force the issue. So, the superior of the institute for baptismal candidates (Catechumenate) that Bakhita attended complained to the Italian authorities. On 29 November 1889 an Italian court ruled that, because the British had induced Sudan to outlaw slavery before Bakhita’s birth and because Italian law did not recognize slavery, Bakhita had never legally been a slave. For the first time in her life Bakhita found herself in control of her own destiny. She chose to remain with the Canossians. On January 9, 1890 Bakhita was baptised with the names of Josephine Margaret and Fortunata (which is the Latin translation for the Arabic Bakhita). On the same day she was also confirmed and received Holy Communion from Archbishop Giuseppe Sarto, the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, the future Pope Pius X, himself.

Canossian Sister

On 7 December 1893 Josephine Bakhita entered the novitiate of the Canossian Sisters and on 8 December 1896 she took her vows, welcomed by Cardinal Sarto. In 1902 she was assigned to the Canossian convent at Schio, in the northern Italian province of Vicenza, where she spent the rest of her life. Her only extended time away was between 1935 and 1939, when she stayed at the Missionary Novitiate in Vimercate (Milan); mostly visiting other Canossian communities in Italy, talking about her experiences and helping to prepare young sisters for work in Africa. A strong missionary drive animated her throughout her entire life – “her mind was always on God, and her heart in Africa”.

During her 42 years in Schio, Bakhita was employed as the cook, sacristan and portress (door keeper) and was in frequent contact with the local community. Her gentleness, calming voice, and ever-present smile became well known and Vicenzans still refer to her as Sor Moretta (“little brown sister”) or Madre Moretta (“black mother”). Her special charisma and reputation for sanctity were noticed by her order; the first publication of her story (Storia Meravigliosa by Ida Zanolini) in 1931, made her famous throughout Italy. During the Second World War (1939–1945) she shared the fears and hopes of the town people, who considered her a saint and felt protected by her mere presence. Not quite in vain as the bombs did not spare Schio, but the war passed without one single casualty.

Her last years were marked by pain and sickness. She used a wheelchair, but she retained her cheerfulness, and if asked how she was, she would always smile and answer: “As the Master desires.” In the extremity of her last hours her mind was driven back to the years of her slavery and she cried out: “The chains are too tight, loosen them a little, please!” After a while she came round again. Someone asked her: “How are you? Today is Saturday.” “Yes, I am so happy: Our Lady… Our Lady!” These were her last audible words.

Bakhita died at 8:10 PM on 8 February 1947. For three days her body lay on display while thousands of people arrived to pay their respects.

Source: Wikipedia

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Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus hears our prayer

2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman). The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”


Psalm 43

Grant me justice, God; defend me from a faithless people; from the deceitful and unjust rescue me.

You, God, are my strength. Why then do you spurn me? Why must I go about mourning, with the enemy oppressing me?

Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide And bring me to your holy mountain, to the place of your dwelling,

That I may come to the altar of God, to God, my joy, my delight. Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

Why are you downcast, my soul? Why do you groan within me? Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

Source: The New American Bible