Sunday, October 25, 2009

St. Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão (1739-1822)

God’s plan in a person’s life often takes unexpected turns which become life-giving through cooperation with God’s grace. Born in Guarantingueta near São Paulo (Brazil), Antônio attended the Jesuit seminary in Belem but later decided to become a Franciscan friar. Invested in 1760, he made final profession the following year and was ordained in 1762. In São Paulo, he served as preacher, confessor and porter. Within a few years he was appointed confessor to the Recollects of St. Teresa, a group of nuns in that city. He and Sister Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit founded a new community of sisters under the patronage of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence. Sister Helena Maria’s premature death the next year left Father Antônio responsible for the new congregation, especially for building a convent and church adequate for their growing numbers. He served as novice master for the friars in Macacu and as guardian of St. Francis Friary in São Paulo. He founded St. Clare Friary in Sorocaba. With the permission of his provincial and the bishop, he spent his last days at the "Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz," the convent of the sisters’ congregation he had helped establish. He was beatified in Rome on October 25, 1998, and canonized in 2007. During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II quoted from the Second Letter to Timothy (4:17), "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully," and then said that Antônio "fulfilled his religious consecration by dedicating himself with love and devotion to the afflicted, the suffering and the slaves of his era in Brazil." The pope continued, "His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbour, will be an encouragement to imitate this ‘man of peace and charity.’" (

The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark (10.46-52)

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus stopped and said, Call him. So they called to the blind man, Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you. Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked him. The blind man said, Rabbi, I want to see. Go, said Jesus, your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The Holy Name
(Homily by Fr. E.J.Tyler)

It is a commonplace observation that modern Western society and culture is secular. That is to say, at the very least, it does not have a religious face. An observer, gazing at its public institutions and its public conversation, would not be led to think of God. Its life, its laws and its literature hum with incessant activity without reference to a transcendent reality on which it acknowledges dependence. That is the broad picture, but it varies greatly in its spectrum. The United States, though secular, has a much more religious culture than does Britain, and both have a more religious culture than do certain European countries. It could be argued that Australia is among the most secular countries in the world, even though a considerable portion of its citizens are religious and there is a great vitality among certain of its religious bodies and institutions. Nevertheless the culture is a secular one, and this culture is a challenge to religion. There are some obvious indicators of this secular character. How rare it is for a public official to acknowledge personal belief in God, let alone belief in Jesus Christ as the saviour from sin! Were a prime minister or other minister of Government to refer publicly to such matters in a personal way it would, I surmise, bring immediate notoriety. While the fact of crime and wrongdoing is constantly referred to and governments readily place law and order on their agendas, is “sin” ever found in public discourse? It is not. It would be a profound embarrassment to colleagues if a Government minister were to mention “sin” seriously. The fact is that the public canvassing of such matters as “sin” and, say, “Jesus as the Saviour from sin,” would probably be inappropriate - and the reason is precisely that the public culture is profoundly secular. The present secular character of Western culture has been centuries in the making. European culture was once professedly Christian. All this is to say that the Christian has a great mission ahead of him, and that mission is to bring forward in social and public discourse the name of Jesus. That name is the name that is now not mentioned - Jesus and his mission to deliver all men from sin.

In this sense our Gospel today (Mark 10:46-52) has a special relevance for the modern world, a world so profoundly influenced by Western secular culture. Jesus was passing by in the midst of a thronging crowd. We may perhaps see in that scene elements of every time and place. The crowds flow on in the great river of human societies, and in the midst of the river is the One who brings life to all. A river proverbially brings life, but in fact there is but one element in the river of humanity which brings true life, and that is the man Jesus. He has come to bring life, life in abundance, eternal life, life divine. The blind man learns that Jesus of Nazareth is in the midst of the throng of humanity passing him by and immediately he raises his voice stridently and allows nothing and no one to muffle it. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Let that cry be a symbol of the mission ahead of the modern Christian. The name of Jesus Christ has to be uttered and heard. His mission has to be proclaimed. The name means, “God saves!” At the annunciation the angel Gabriel gave this very name to him, a name coming from heaven. It expresses his unique identity and his unique mission to save his people from their sins. The salvation of the human race is dependent on him alone. One of the characteristic assumptions of a secular culture, though unmentioned and almost unconscious, is that, just as there is wrongdoing but no sin, so there is no need of salvation from sin. It is allowed that man needs rescuing from various evils - illness, disease, natural catastrophes, hunger, illiteracy, unethical and criminal behaviour - but not from “sin.” Least of all is it admitted that the “sin” which is said to afflict him is the most profound of his afflictions, indeed the one from which spring the others and the one which will damn him forever if it remains unchecked. Modern secular man makes no acknowledgment of needing a Saviour from sin. The world needs, then, to hear that cry of the blind man resounding in the public square, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

As St Paul writes in one of his Letters, the name of Jesus is above every other name. As Peter bore witness before the Sanhedrin, there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12), and as our Lord himself said, no one comes to the Father except through me. Let us pronounce this holy name frequently, every day of our lives. Let us so live that this name will be honoured and glorified not only in the hearts of men but by societies, cultures and by, indeed, the whole world. For, as Jesus Christ himself said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. By this name do we live!

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