TUESDAY 29th.Saint Martha.Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. They were personal friends of Jesus and entertained him to occasional meals. Jesus clearly felt at home with all of them and we know how he grieved over Lazarus and famously raised him to live again. Martha has suffered a bit from Christian tradition which made her into a model of a fussy, unrecollected busybody, concerned only with domestic matters. Of course, busy people who have to run a household can be distracted easily but Jesus speaks gently and lovingly to Martha and encourages her not to worry too much. There is no doubting Marthas appeal to most of us who share many of her concerns and we can learn from her heart-felt profession of faith at the time of Lazarus death. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world. (John 11:27).
THURSDAY 31st. Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The election of Pope Francis has put the spotlight on the vocation of the Jesuits in the Church. They were founded by a former soldier, Ignatius Lopez of Loyola. Born in 1491 he was invalided out of the army at the battle of Pamplona in 1521. It was during his convalescence that he experienced a radical conversion and the occasion of this grace was the spiritual reading which Ignatius undertook at first to while away the long hours of recuperation. By the time he died, aged 65, he had founded the Society of Jesus and honed his spiritual insights into the famous Spiritual Exercises which have stood the test of time. To this day the Exercises have a profound effect, not only on all Jesuits (including the Pope), but on all who follow them. A one phrase summary of Ignatian spirituality to find God in everything.
FRIDAY?1st AUGUST. Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Bishop, doctor of the Church and founder of the Redemptorists, Alphonsus led a long and very full life. Born in Bourbon Naples in 1696 he lived for 91 years. His first career was as a lawyer which he abandoned to become a priest. Indefatigable in his ministry to the poor and the incurable of his native city, he was nevertheless drawn to the most abandoned in the hills further south of the city. To this end he launched a community dedicated to holiness through ministry to the most abandoned. In the course of his long life he used all his many talents, poet, painter, musician, writer- to advance the Kingdom of God, always with an eye on the poor. His greatest intellectual achievement was the recasting of traditional moral theology in a more compassionate and pastoral way so as to bring the merciful redemption home to as many as possible. One of his personal desires was to come as a missionary to the Cape of Good Hope, a desire which has now been fulfilled through the presence of his Redemptorists in Bergvliet and Retreat and through the many missions and retreats in the Cape.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R