Friday, April 8, 2016 
           
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
April 17, 2016
 
Gospel: (John 10:27-30)
 
Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.  No one can take them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.  The Father and I are one."
 
Reflection:
 
In many parishes, this is called "Good Shepherd Sunday" where we reflect on Jesus' care and assurance as we listen to the words "No one can take them out of my hand." We are called to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him.  We follow first by listening. Hearing Jesus-heeding his voice-is already an act of following. This is a good Sunday to bask in Jesus' care and protection, listen to his voice calling us to his loving, embracing hands, and rejoice in the goodness showered upon us who are faithful to his call. (Living Liturgy, p.120)
 
 
Vincentian Meditation:
 
It is not so much what sheep do, nor even what the shepherd does, that the key to understanding the message of Jesus is to be found.  It is rather on the quality of the shepherd that we must center our attention: on his heart and mind rather than on his functions. Think of the occasions when our Lord spoke of the shepherd. The shepherd is one who protects; one who searchers; one who speaks and calls the sheep by name. The image was a favorite one of our Lord, because it conveyed to His hearers the idea of one who cares and who does not take flight when danger threatens. The shepherd protects, searches and speaks. This is what Jesus did. Given St. Vincent's sensitivity to fulfilling the will of God in the smallest details of his life, he might well ask us: Do you consistently search out the Will of God, not only in the crisis points of your life, but day by day and hour by hour do you listen to hear his voice? (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p. 731)
 
Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
                                                                                                                       
How do we listen to the  voice of the Good Shepherd in our families and in our Conferences?
 
Closing Prayer: 
                                                                                                        
Lord Jesus, give us the grace to listen to the Good Shepherd,
-give us the grace to always search for the will of God.
For those who are lonely or overwhelmed,
-may we bring them the Good Shepherd's friendship.
For all those who are poor and destitute,
-may we bring them the Good Shepherd's protection.         
For the sick and the dying,
-may we bring them Good Shepherd's healing love.  Amen



PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

ST. ANN'S CONFERENCE WILL HOST THEIR ANNUAL FLEA MARKET

Saturday, JUNE 11TH AND Sunday, June 12th

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SAINTS OF THE WEEK



Friday, April 8 - St. Julie Billiart

Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julie Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money.

However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm laborers.

 
A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralyzed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness.

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart; she spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time.

But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, "Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an Institute marked by the cross." As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie's interest in teaching the faith. In 1803 the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor as well as young Christian girls and the training of catechists. The following year the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years.

Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Françoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium.

Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.

Saturday, April 9 - St. Casilda

Some saints' names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something.
 
And so it is with St. Casilda, the daughter of a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was herself raised as a Muslim and showed special kindness to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but was not convinced that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So, she made a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Vicenzo in northern Spain. Like so many other people who made their way there-many of them suffering from hemorrhages-Casilda sought the healing waters of the shrine. We're uncertain what brought her to the shrine, but we do know that she left it relieved of illness.

In response, she became a Christian and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It's said that she lived to be 100 years old. Her death likely occurred around the year 1050.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians have often existed throughout history, sometimes resulting in bloody conflict. Through her quiet, simple life Casilda served her Creator-first in one faith, then another.

Sunday, April 10 - St. Magdalen of Canossa

Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today's saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her.

Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind-and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction. For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes, and also among delinquent and abandoned girls.

In her mid-twenties Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home. In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction. As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Daughters of Charity emerged. Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy.
Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women.

Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers. Both groups continue to this day.

She died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.


Monday, April 11 - St. Stanislaus

Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More (June 22) and Thomas Becket (December 29) for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government.

Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital of Poland, and at Paris. He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquence and example brought about real conversion in many of his penitents, both clergy and laity. He became bishop of Kraków in 1072.

During an expedition against the Grand Duchy of Kiev, Stanislaus became involved in the political situation of Poland. Known for his outspokenness, he aimed his attacks at the evils of the peasantry and the king, especially the unjust wars and immoral acts of King Boleslaus II.

The king first excused himself, then made a show of penance, then relapsed into his old ways. Stanislaus continued his open opposition in spite of charges of treason and threats of death, finally excommunicating the king. The latter, enraged, ordered soldiers to kill the bishop. When they refused, the king killed him with his own hands.

Forced to flee to Hungary, Boleslaus supposedly spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.


Tuesday, April 12 - St. Teresa of Los Andes

One needn't live a long life to leave a deep imprint. Teresa of Los Andes is proof of that.

As a young girl growing up in Santiago, Chile, in the early 1900s, she read an autobiography of a French-born saint-Thérèse, popularly known as the Little Flower. The experience deepened her desire to serve God and clarified the path she would follow. At age 19 she became a Carmelite nun, taking the name of Teresa.

The convent offered the simple lifestyle Teresa desired and the joy of living in a community of women completely devoted to God. She focused her days on prayer and sacrifice. "I am God's," she wrote in her diary. "He created me and is my beginning and my end."

Toward the end of her short life, Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. At age 20 she contracted typhus and quickly took her final vows. She died a short time later, during Holy Week.

Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who visit her shrine in Los Andes each year. She is Chile's first saint.

Wednesday, April 13 - St. Martin I

When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch.

A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice emperors had officially favored this position, Heraclius by publishing a formula of faith and Constans II by silencing the issue of one or two wills in Christ.

Shortly after assuming the office of the papacy (which he did without first being confirmed by the emperor), Martin held a council at the Lateran in which the imperial documents were censured, and in which the patriarch of Constantinople and two of his predecessors were condemned. Constans II, in response, tried first to turn bishops and people against the pope.

Failing in this and in an attempt to kill the pope, the emperor sent troops to Rome to seize Martin and to bring him back to Constantinople. Already in poor health, Martin offered no resistance, returned with the exarch Calliopas and was then submitted to various imprisonments, tortures and hardships. Although condemned to death and with some of the torture imposed already carried out, Martin was saved from execution by the pleas of a repentant Paul, patriarch of Constantinople, who was himself gravely ill.

Martin died shortly thereafter, tortures and cruel treatment having taken their toll. He is the last of the early popes to be venerated as a martyr.

Thursday, April 14 - Blessed Peter Gonzalez

St. Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13th century to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused.

Humbled, Peter reevaluated his motivations (his bishop-uncle had secured the cathedral post for him) and started down a new path. He became a Dominican priest and proved to be a most effective preacher. He spent much of his time as court chaplain, and attempted to exert positive influence on the behavior of members of the court. After King Ferdinand III and his troops defeated the Moors at Cordoba, Peter was successful in restraining the soldiers from pillaging and persuaded the king to treat the defeated Moors with compassion.

After retiring from the court, Peter devoted the remainder of his life to preaching in northwest Spain. He developed a special mission to Spanish and Portuguese seamen. He is the patron of sailors.

Peter Gonzalez died in 1246 and was beatified in 1741.




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Please continue praying for Yolanda and Ramiro Ramirez, Angela Angel and Gloria de Luna,  all from St. Ann's Conference  who are experiencing health issues.