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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Saints of Courage and Resilience


Saints of Courage and Resilience

This past Friday was Valentine ’s Day, but not everyone knows that this day is named after the third century Roman priest and martyr, St Valentine, who was imprisoned for presiding at weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, among other acts of courageous charity during a time of persecution of Christians in Rome.

May St Valentine pray for those of you who are married, that you may have the courage to keep working on your connectedness, cherish your spouse, and come to agree on your differences, especially when communication turns more difficult, and when trust may be strained.

Resilience is a valuable virtue not only in relationships, but also for any number of areas in life. When something bad happens, we may ruminate over and over about it in our minds, digging a deeper hole for ourselves, or we may acknowledge it, reframe it in light of something positive, and choose to adapt and grow.

St Methodius and St Cyril can teach us about resilience. These two saints were brothers and they are celebrated also on February 14th. They were born in Greece, and sent to the modern day Czech Republic, when Prince Ratislav of Moravia asked for missionaries. The brothers were ahead of their time, because rather than teaching the roman alphabet, they devised the first slavic alphabet. This innovation was not quickly accepted by Rome, but thanks to their perseverance in bridging two cultures, it eventually was.

Another saint we celebrated this month who can teach us about resilience is St Josephine Bakhita. She was born in Sudan in the late 1800s, and was abducted by slave traders as a young child. Under captivity, she was tortured. The trauma erased the memory of her family given name. Yet by the Providence of God, she ended up as a religious sister in Italy, and she lived over 40 years of religious life as a Canossian sister.

Research suggests that cultivating forgiveness is a skill resilient people have. When St Josephine was asked what she would do if she met her captors again, she responded: "If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today."

God bless, Fr. Carlos, OSA


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