THURSDAY THE EIGHTH OF FEBRUARY 2018
* Josephine Bakhita *
May the Lord be blessed for ever for the great gifts that he has continually heaped upon me and may all that he has created praise him. Amen.
( Teresa of Avila )
Adored by the acclaiming crowd,
he falls a man, and not a god!
He falls (no sooner deified
than smote) a sacrifice to pride,
anticipates the final hour,
and worms their fellow worm devour.
The man who praise from man receives,
nor to his God the glory gives,
in him the just reward we see
of sacrilegious vanity;
and all which nature called her own
we now refer to God alone.
But chiefly, Lord, the gifts of grace
to your sole glory we confess,
afraid to rob you of your right,
and arrogate with vain delight,
or take the homage of the throng
which only does to you belong.
Whoever, like Lucifer, aspire,
and suffer men their grace to admire,
most humbled, when exalted most.
Of Christ alone we make our boast,
and own ( if we perfection name )
perfection is with Christ the same.
( Charles Wesley )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Josephine Bakhita: Slave and Saint
Today is the anniversary of the death of Sister Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese nun who survived captivity and slavery and was officially recognised as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church in the year 2000. She died on this day in 1947.
She was born in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, where she lived a happy life with her parents and family until the age of seven or eight when she was captured by Arab slave traders, who forced her to walk barefoot over six hundred miles to the city of El Obeid.
Over the next twelve years she was bought and sold over five times.
She was forcibly converted to Islam.
She later recalled that she was so traumatised by the abduction and the mistreatment, that she forgot her family name. She took the name Bakhita which was a name the slave traders gave her, the Arabic word for “lucky.”
In 1883 in the city of Khartoum she was sold to the Italian vice-consul, who treated her kindly and respectfully. When he was recalled to Italy in 1885, she begged him to take her with him. At the end of 1888 when her master returned to Sudan she was left in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice.
The sisters introduced her to Christianity and supported her as she pled her case for freedom in the Italian Courts. She was granted her freedom in 1889, was baptised in 1890 and proceeded to join the Canossian Order. In 1902 she was stationed at a Canossian convent in Northern Italy where she would, in addition to participating in the regular life of the convent, spent her time talking about her experiences, and helping to train younger sisters for work in Africa. The townspeople who lived around her were struck by her holiness, her gentle, soothing voice, and her smile. She helped them get through the tumult of the Second World War. Many regarded her as a living saint.
Her final years were marked by pain and suffering, and confinement in a wheelchair.
Her legacy is that transformation is possible even through great suffering. On his visit to Sudan in 1993, Pope John Paul II publicly honoured her.
He said: "Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you. The daughter of Sudan sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise and yet still free. Free with the freedom of the saints."
Scripture. In "The Second Letter to the Corinthians," chapter twelve, verses nine and ten we read:
I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
... for peace in the world.
... for all who have been forcibly removed from their homes.
... for those removed from their families.
... for hostages, the trafficked and the enslaved.
... for Christians coerced into renouncing their faith and forced to adhere to a different religion.
... that we may be changed by the circumstances of our lives into being more effective bearers of the love of Christ for those we live and work among.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis:
Even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam, he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences. As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot towards repairing that body. Cut it and, up to a point, it will heal as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ himself carried out.
That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or, if they think there is not, at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the
sun shines on it.
Almighty God, by the power of your grace, you transformed the cruel sufferings of slavery in Josephine Bakhita, into a life of gentleness, compassion, and prayer. So work in us by that same grace so that we too may experience growth in holiness as we follow your son, Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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