Today we celebrate the feast of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles. The name “Mary Magdalene” can evoke different images to various people. Many see her as a deranged woman suffering from being possessed by demons, while others view her as a fallen woman, even a prostitute. Although the biblical record is not silent on the matter, we are only given a few details about the life of Mary Magdalene in the Bible — and you may be surprised what the Scripture does and doesn’t say! While the facts of Mary’s life are sketchy, one thing is perfectly clear: Mary Magdalene loved Jesus, and Jesus loved her. In fact, her story will forever remain entwined with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being delivered from her tormenting captors, Mary became a disciple of Jesus, to whom she showed great love and devotion. Along with other women, Mary gave both personal and financial support to the ministry of Jesus, following Him from place to place in his missionary activities. Forever faithful to her Lord, Mary Magdalene was among the last at the cross to witness Christ’s death and, following Joseph of Arimathea to see where Jesus’ body would be laid, she was the last to leave His tomb after night had fallen. Intending to honor Christ by anointing His body with spices and perfumes, she was the first to visit the tomb on resurrection morning and the first to carry the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. What a great honor God bestowed upon Mary in permitting her to be the first witness of His resurrection! The gospel of John tells us best of what happened that day. Mary was at the tomb at first light that first Easter morning. How surprised she must have been to see the stone rolled away! Peering in the cave she saw that it was empty, which made her weep. After finding the grave empty Mary rushed to find Peter and John and blurted out “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher and we know not where they have laid him”. Peter and John went to the tomb with Mary and found that she told them the truth, but they left, departing “to their own homes”. But Mary stayed. It was then, after speaking to two angels, that Jesus revealed himself to Mary. After comforting her, Jesus commissioned Mary to be the first messenger of His resurrection. What an honor to be the first to herald the resurrection! There is much we can learn from the life of Mary Magdalene. 1. In her life we can see just how much Christ can do for a woman. He delivered her afflicted, tormented soul and healed her of all her afflictions, leaving her a changed woman. 2. Through her life we not only learn what Christ can do for us, but what we can do for Him. His great love and compassion toward her completely changed her life and led Mary to…
Reflection for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time For the Jews of old, their kings were also their shepherds. This notion implied that kings not only led the people but also provided for their needs. (lead and feed). Failing to carry out this role, resulted in disaster for the nation. It was for this reason that after the defeat and exile of God’s chosen people in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah had the following words for the shepherd-kings, “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” But rarely did a prophet condemn without offering hope. Thus from his condemnation of the kings, Jeremiah turned to proclaiming two new promises. First, that God would bring together the flock, the remnant of Israel, from their places of exile. Second, that he would raise up a shepherd from the line of David who would reign and govern wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In short, a king who took care of his flock. In today’s gospel reading, we see a glimpse of Jesus acting as this kind of shepherd. Shepherd to the Apostles, his co-workers and shepherd to the people as a whole. Seeing how much they needed rest, Jesus, the Good shepherd told his apostles, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus shepherd for their tired bodies and weary souls. Jesus gave them time for themselves to regain their strength as well as prayerfully internalize their experiences. But this was not to happen because the crowd followed them and intruded upon their privacy. Seeing the people, Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then and there, Jesus made it his priority to provide for their immediate needs. Thus he taught them many things. In this way, Jesus put into practice what he had told the people, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find.” In here Jesus showed to the Apostles and to the people the kind of shepherd that he is—the kind of shepherd that he wants his apostles to be, –the kind of shepherd Jesus wants all of us to be.
It is impossible to enter the Carmelite Order, without encountering Mary. St. Teresa had been able to steep herself in the whole rich Marian spirituality of the Order as it was expressed in its historical tradition, spiritual legends, Carmelite liturgy, popular devotion and Carmelite iconography. In her writings, the name of the Order is always coupled with that of the Virgin who is the Lady, the Patron, and the Mother of the Order. According to St Teresa, everything is Marian in the Order: the habit, the Rule, the houses. When she was appointed Prioress of the Incarnation in 1571 she placed a statue of Mary in the first place in the choir for she knew that the devotion, love and respect of all the religious converged on Mary. She told her prioress, Maria de Mendoza: “My ‘Prioress’, (the Virgin Mary) is doing wonders”. In the reform of Carmel, Teresa believed that Mary must have been the one who managed it. Brothers and sisters, in everything our devotion to Mary is all important. But it should be a devotion that does not end in oneself. Teresa reminds us regarding the use of the scapular: “All who belong to the Virgin should seek to love one another greatly” .”As we all wear the same habit, the monasteries should help one another, FOR WHAT TOUCHES ONE, TOUCHES ALL.” Properly put: FOR WHAT TOUCHES ONE should as much as possible, TOUCH everyone around us. AMEN.
Today, July 15, we celebrate the Feast of St Bonaventure, the secondary patron of our seminary. Four years ago, in Sept. 6, 2009, Pope Benedict went out of Rome and visited 2 places, Bagnoreggio and Viterbo in Italy. Viterbo is around 65 kms north of Rome. It is easy to understand why he visited Viterbo. It the place where papal conclaves was born, as history would reveal. But on his way back to his summer residence he also included in his itinerary a place called BAGNO REGGIO. Some observers ask: Why stop in such a little, seemingly unimportant town? The reason is obvious: Bonaventure, his idol, was born there in 1217. [Although the only thing that can be venerated in Bagnoreggio’s cathedral is the saints’ ‘holy arm’ (the rest of St. Bonaventure’s body is buried in France). ] We know that Bonaventure was one of the two major intellectual influences on Pope Benedict’s entire theological formation. (The other influence being St. Augustine.) St. Bonaventure is a doctor of the Church, an honor given only to a select group of only 33 men & women who have contributed greatly to our Catholic faith in theology & doctrine. St. Bonaventure lived way back in the 13th century; he became a Franciscan friar after having been very sickly as a young boy & after have been inspired by St Francis of Assisi through that illness. Bonaventure not only gives us the example of a great theologian & accomplished scholar, but he also led a life of great holiness & devotion. This is one of Bonaventure’s famous quotes: “When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that (voice) proceeding from the mouth.” In the light of this quote from St. Bonaventure, we feel guilty about considering God by just our minds & their intellects. We fail to open our hearts to all of the teachings & wisdom that he had for us. How poor our faith would be if live in that manner. We can try to trick Jesus or accuse him, we can try to follow a rigid form of religion in which our hearts are completely closed to Jesus. Yet, we know that this is not what our faith demands of us. Today as we remember St Bonaventure, the secondary patron of this seminary, it is more than just another liturgical schedule in the seminary. St Bonaventure is bringing our attention back to the raison de ‘etre of academic endeavor. It is more than just an intellectual exercise or passing an exam. Our intellectual endeavors should as far as possible bring us to closer to the author of revelation not with the use of our mind but with the aid of our heart. May the spirituality & devotion of St. Bonaventure & the rest of the saints inspire us to open our hearts to the Lord, even when it is difficult to do so.
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