Evangelists Pg 3
"How then are they to call upon Him in whom they have not believed? But how are they to believe Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear, if no one preaches?" ROM 10:14
There are many ways to preach and evangelize. It is not just reserved for the Evangelicals or perhaps, the Billy Grahams.
We will see many brave men and women through the ages evangelize: some quite boldly, some creatively, and others quite quietly.
St. Daniel Comboni
Saint Daniele Comboni (15 March 1831 – 10 October 1881) was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop who served in the missions in Africa and was the founder of both the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters. Comboni studied under the Venerable Nicola Mazza in Verona where he became a multi-linguist and in 1849 vowed to join the missions in the African continent although this did not occur until 1857 when he travelled to Sudan. He continued to travel back and forth from his assignment to his native land in order to found his congregations and attend to other matters, and returned in 1870 for the First Vatican Council in Rome until its premature closing due to conflict.
Comboni attempted to draw attention across Europe to the plight of the people living in poor-stricken areas in the African continent and from 1865 until mid-1865 travelled across Europe to places such as London and Paris to collect funds for a project he started to tend to the poor and ill. His mission to Africa was strengthened with his appointment as a bishop in 1877 for it allowed him greater freedom to establish branches of his order in Khartoum and Cairo amongst other locations.
Daniele Comboni was born on 15 March 1831 at Limone sul Garda in Brescia to the poor gardeners (working for a local proprietor) Luigi Comboni and Domenica Pace as the fourth of eight children; he was the sole child to survive into adulthood. At that time Limone was under the jurisdiction of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
At the age of twelve, he was sent to school in Verona on 20 February 1843 at the Religious Institute of Verona, founded by Nicola Mazza. It was there that he completed his studies in medicine and languages (he learnt French, English and Arabic) and prepared to become a priest. On 6 January 1849 he vowed that he would join the African missions, a desire he had held since 1846 after reading about the Japanese martyrs.
On 31 December 1854 in Trento he received his ordination to the priesthood from the Bishop of Trent(now Blessed) Johann Nepomuk von Tschiderer zu Gleifheim. Comboni made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 29 September to 14 October 1855. In 1857 – with the blessing of his mother – he left for Africa along with five other missionaries, also former students of Mazza. His mother gave him her blessing and said to him: "Go, Daniele, and may the Lord bless you".
MIRACLES TO SAINTHOOD
The miracle required for Comboni to be beatified was investigated on a diocesan level in São Mateus from 10 December 1990 until 29 June 1992 before it received C.C.S. validation on 30 April 1993. The miracle was the 25 December 1970 healing of the Afro-Brazilian child Maria Giuseppa Oliveira Paixão who underwent a stomach surgical procedure for an infection that grew worse over time. But their attention turned to Comboni's intercession and she was healed the next morning in a case that surprised the doctor.
The seven medical experts approved that science could not explain this cure on 9 June 1994 while six theologians agreed likewise on 22 November 1994 as did the C.C.S. members on 24 January 1995. John Paul II confirmed on 6 April 1995 that this healing was indeed a miracle and beatified Comboni in Saint Peter's Basilica on 17 March 1996.
The miracle required for him to be sainted was investigated in Khartoum from 9 May to 28 May 2001 and received C.C.S. validation on 3 September 2001 before a medical panel approved it on 11 April 2002; the theologians followed suit on 6 September 2002 as did the C.C.S. on 15 October 2002. John Paul II confirmed this miracle on 20 December 2002 and scheduled the date for Comboni's canonization in a papal consistory held on 20 February 2003; the pope canonized Comboni in Saint Peter's Square on 5 October 2003.
The miracle in question was the healing of the Muslim mother Lubana Abdel Aziz (b. 1965) who – on 11 November 1997 – was admitted into a Khartoum hospital for a caesarean section; the hospital was one that the Comboni Missionary Sisters managed. The infant was born but the mother suffered from repeated bleeding and other serious problems and was on the point of death despite a blood transfusion. The doctors were pessimistic about her chances but the nuns began a novena to Comboni. The woman healed, despite the odds, on 13 November and was discharged from the hospital on 18 November.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Virgin, Nun, Mystic
Doctor of the Church
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (French: sainte Thérèse de Lisieux), born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., was a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun who is widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known as "The Little Flower of Jesus", or simply "The Little Flower".
Thérèse has been a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics and for others because of the simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life. Together with Saint Francis of Assisi, she is one of the most popular saints in the history of the church. Pope Pius X called her "the greatest saint of modern times".
Thérèse felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, she became a nun and joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy (yet another sister, Céline, also later joined the order).
Her feast day is 1 October in the General Roman Calendar, and 3 October in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Thérèse is well-known throughout the world, with the Basilica of Lisieux being the second most popular place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes.
"A dreamer and brooder, an idealist and romantic, [the father] gave touching and naïve pet names [to his daughters]: Marie was his diamond, Pauline his noble pearl, Céline the bold one. But Thérèse was his petite reine, little queen, to whom all treasures belonged".
Zélie was so successful in manufacturing lace that by 1870 Louis had sold his watchmaking shop to a nephew and handled the traveling and bookkeeping end of his wife's lacemaking business.
Thérèse was taught at home until she was eight and a half, and then entered the school kept by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre in Lisieux. Thérèse, taught well and carefully by Marie and Pauline, found herself at the top of the class, except for writing and arithmetic.
However, because of her young age and high grades, she was bullied. The one who bullied her the most was a girl of fourteen who did poorly at school. Thérèse suffered very much as a result of her sensitivity, and she cried in silence. Furthermore, the boisterous games at recreation were not to her taste. She preferred to tell stories or look after the little ones in the infants class. "The five years I spent at school were the saddest of my life, and if my dear Céline had not been with me I could not have stayed there for a single month without falling ill."
Céline informs us, "She now developed a fondness for hiding, she did not want to be observed, for she sincerely considered herself inferior". On her free days she became more and more attached to Marie Guérin, the younger of her two cousins in Lisieux. The two girls would play at being anchorites, as the great Teresa had once played with her brother. And every evening she plunged into the family circle. "Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father's knee and tell him what marks I had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten...I needed this sort of encouragement so much."
Yet the tension of the double life and the daily self-conquest placed a strain on Thérèse. Going to school became more and more difficult.
When she was nine years old, in October 1882, her sister Pauline, who had acted as a "second mother" to her, entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux. Thérèse was devastated. She understood that Pauline was cloistered and that she would never come back. "I said in the depths of my heart: Pauline is lost to me!" The shock reawakened in her the trauma caused by her mother's death.
Thérèse aged 8, 1881
She also wanted to join the Carmelites, but was told she was too young. Yet Thérèse so impressed Mother Marie Gonzague, the prioress at the time of Pauline's entry to the community that she wrote to comfort her, calling Thérèse "my future little daughter".
At this time, Thérèse was often sick. She began to suffer from nervous tremors. The tremors started one night after her uncle took her for a walk and began to talk about Zélie. Assuming that she was cold, the family covered Therese with blankets, but the tremors continued. She clenched her teeth and could not speak. The family called Dr. Notta, who could make no diagnosis. In 1882, Dr. Gayral diagnosed that Thérèse "reacts to an emotional frustration with a neurotic attack".
Alarmed, but cloistered, Pauline began to write letters to Thérèse and attempted various strategies to intervene. Eventually Thérèse recovered after she had turned to gaze at the statue of the Virgin Mary placed in Marie's room, where Thérèse had been moved.
She reported on 13 May 1883 that she had seen the Virgin smile at her. She wrote: "Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled upon me. How happy I am." However, when Thérèse told the Carmelite nuns about this vision at the request of her eldest sister Marie, she found herself assailed by their questions and she lost confidence. Self-doubt made her begin to question what had happened. "I thought I had lied – I was unable to look upon myself without a feeling of profound horror." "For a long time after my cure, I thought that my sickness was deliberate and this was a real martyrdom for my soul".Her concerns over this continued until November 1887.
In October 1886 her oldest sister, Marie, entered the same Carmelite monastery, adding to Thérèse's grief. The warm atmosphere at Les Buissonnets, so necessary to her, was disappearing. Now only she and Céline remained with their father. Her frequent tears made some friends think she had a weak character and the Guérins indeed shared this opinion.
Thérèse also suffered from scruples, a condition experienced by other saints such as Alphonsus Liguori, also a Doctor of the Church, and Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. She wrote: "One would have to pass through this martyrdom to understand it well, and for me to express what I experienced for a year and a half would be impossible".
Christmas Eve of 1886 was a turning point in the life of Thérèse; she called it her "complete conversion." Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since the death of her mother and said that "God worked a little miracle to make me grow up in an instant ... On that blessed night … Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me, saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood".
That night, Louis Martin and his daughters, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse, attended Midnight Mass at the cathedral in Lisieux— "but there was very little heart left in them. On 1 December, Léonie, covered in eczema and hiding her hair under a short mantilla, had returned to Les Buissonnetsafter just seven weeks of the Poor Clares regime in Alençon", and her sisters were helping her get over her sense of failure and humiliation.
Back at Les Buissonnets as every year, Thérèse "as was the custom for French children, had left her shoes on the hearth, empty in anticipation of gifts, not from Father Christmas but from the Child Jesus, who was imagined to travel through the air bearing toys and cakes."
While she and Céline were going up the stairs she heard her father, "perhaps exhausted by the hour, or this reminder of the relentless emotional demands of his weepy youngest daughter", say with some irritation "Therese is far too old for this now. Fortunately this will be the last year!"
Thérèse had begun to cry and Céline advised her not to go back downstairs immediately. Then, suddenly, Thérèse pulled herself together and wiped her tears. She ran down the stairs, knelt by the fireplace and unwrapped her surprises as jubilantly as ever.
In her account, nine years later, of 1895 : "In an instant Jesus, content with my good will, accomplished the work I had not been able to do in ten years." After nine sad years she had "recovered the strength of soul she had lost" when her mother died and, she said, "she was to retain it forever". She discovered the joy in self-forgetfulness and added, "I felt, in a word, charity enter my heart, the need to forget myself to make others happy—Since this blessed night I was not defeated in any battle, but instead I went from victory to victory and began, so to speak, "to run a giant's course".Psalms 19:5
According to Ida Görres, "Thérèse instantly understood what had happened to her when she won this banal little victory over her sensitivity, which she had borne for so long; ...freedom is found in resolutely looking away from oneself.. and the fact that a person can cast himself away from himself reveals again that being good, victory is pure grace, a sudden gift..It cannot be coerced, and yet it can be received only by the patiently prepared heart".
Biographer Kathryn Harrison: "After all, in the past she had tried to control herself, had tried with all her being and had failed. Grace, alchemy, masochism: through whatever lens we view her transport, Thérèse's night of illumination presented both its power and its danger. It would guide her steps between the mortal and the divine, between living and dying, destruction and apotheosis. It would take her exactly where she intended to go".
The character of the saint and the early experiences that shaped her have been the subject of analysis, particularly in recent years.
Apart from the family doctor who observed her in the 19th century, all other conclusions are inevitably speculative. For instance, author Ida Görres, whose formal studies had focused on church history and hagiography, wrote a psychological analysis of the saint's character.
Some authors suggest that Thérèse had a strongly neurotic aspect to her personality for most of her life. Harrison, concluded that, "her temperament was not formed for compromise or moderation...a life spent not taming but directing her appetite and her will, a life perhaps shortened by the force of her desire and ambition."
Thérèse's time as a postulant began with her welcome into the Carmel, Monday, 9 April 1888. She felt peace after she received communion that day and later wrote, "At last my desires were realized, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials".
From her childhood, Thérèse had dreamed of the desert to which God would some day lead her. Now she had entered that desert. Though she was now reunited with Marie and Pauline, from the first day she began her struggle to win and keep her distance from her sisters.
Right at the start Marie de Gonzague, the prioress, had turned the postulant Thérèse over to her eldest sister Marie, who was to teach her to follow the Divine Office. Later she appointed Thérèse assistant to Pauline in the refectory. And when her cousin Marie Guerin also entered, she employed the two together in the sacristy.
Thérèse adhered strictly to the rule which forbade all superfluous talk during work. She saw her sisters together only in the hours of common recreation after meals. At such times she would sit down beside whomever she happened to be near, or beside a nun whom she had observed to be downcast, disregarding the tacit and sometimes expressed sensitivity and even jealousy of her biological sisters.
"We must apologize to the others for our being four under one roof", she was in the habit of remarking. "When I am dead, you must be very careful not to lead a family life with one another...I did not come to Carmel to be with my sisters; on the contrary, I saw clearly that their presence would cost me dear, for I was determined not to give way to nature."
She chose a spiritual director, a Jesuit, Father Pichon. At their first meeting, 28 May 1888, she made a general confession going back over all her past sins. She came away from it profoundly relieved. The priest who had himself suffered from scruples, understood her and reassured her.
During her time as a postulant, Thérèse had to endure some bullying from other sisters because of her lack of aptitude for handicrafts and manual work. Sister St Vincent de Paul, the finest embroiderer in the community made her feel awkward and even called her 'the big nanny goat'. Thérèse was in fact the tallest in the family, 1.62 metres (approx. 5'3"). Pauline, the shortest, was no more than 1.54m tall (approx.5').
Like all religious she discovered the ups and downs related to differences in temperament, character, problems of sensitivities or infirmities. After nine years she wrote plainly, "the lack of judgment, education, the touchiness of some characters, all these things do not make life very pleasant. I know very well that these moral weaknesses are chronic, that there is no hope of cure". But the greatest suffering came from outside Carmel. On 23 June 1888, Louis Martin disappeared from his home and was found days later, in the post office in Le Havre. The incident marked the onset of her father's decline. He died on July 29, 1894.
The end of Thérèse's time as a postulant arrived on the January 10, 1889, with her taking of the habit. From that time she wore the 'rough homespun and brown scapular, white wimple and veil, leather belt with rosary, woollen 'stockings', rope sandals".
Her father's health having temporarily stabilized he was able to attend, though twelve days after her ceremony her father suffered a stroke and was taken to a private sanatorium, the Bon Sauveur at Caen, where he remained for three years before returning to Lisieux in 1892.
In this period Thérèse deepened the sense of her vocation; to lead a hidden life, to pray and offer her suffering for priests, to forget herself, to increase discreet acts of charity. She wrote, "I applied myself especially to practice little virtues, not having the facility to perform great ones ... In her letters from this period of her novitiate, Thérèse returned over and over to the theme of littleness, referring to herself as a grain of sand, an image she borrowed from Pauline...'Always littler, lighter, in order to be lifted more easily by the breeze of love'. The remainder of her life would be defined by retreat and subtraction".
She absorbed the work of John of the Cross, spiritual reading uncommon at the time, especially for such a young nun. "Oh! what insights I have gained from the works of our holy father, St. John of the Cross! When I was seventeen and eighteen, I had no other spiritual nourishment..." She felt a kinship with this classic writer of the Carmelite Order (though nothing seems to have drawn her to the writing of Teresa of Avila), and with enthusiasm she read his works, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Way of Purification, the Spiritual Canticle, the Living Flame of Love.
Passages from these writings are woven into everything she herself said and wrote. The fear of God, which she found in certain sisters, paralyzed her. "My nature is such that fear makes me recoil, with LOVE not only do I go forward, I fly".
The "little way"
Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. However, by the end of 1894, six years as a Carmelite made her realize how small and insignificant she felt. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She is said to have understood then that it was from insignificance that she had to learn to ask God's help. Along with her camera, Céline had brought notebooks with her, passages from the Old Testament, which Thérèse did not have in Carmel. (The Louvain Bible, the translation authorized for French Catholics, did not include the Old Testament). In the notebooks Thérèse found a passage from Proverbs that struck her with particular force: "Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me" (9:4).
She was struck by another passage from the Book of Isaiah: "you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you.As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you."66:12–13 She concluded that Jesus would carry her to the summit of sanctity. The smallness of Thérèse, her limits, became in this way grounds for joy, rather than discouragement. Not until Manuscript C of her autobiography did she give this discovery the name of little way, "petite voie".
I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. [...] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow. On the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.
In her quest for sanctity and in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts or great deeds. She wrote, Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.
The little way of Therese is the foundation of her spirituality. Within the Catholic Church Thérèse's way was known for some time as "the little way of spiritual childhood." but Thérèse actually wrote "little way" only three times, and she never wrote the phrase "spiritual childhood." It was her sister Pauline who, after Thérèse's death, adopted the phrase "the little way of spiritual childhood" to interpret Thérèse's path.
Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God's arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.
Thérèse's final years were marked by a steady decline that she bore resolutely and without complaint. Tuberculosis was the key element of Thérèse's final suffering, but she saw that as part of her spiritual journey.
After observing a rigorous Lenten fast in 1896, she went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and felt a joyous sensation. She wrote: "Oh! how sweet this memory really is! ... I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn't know what it was."
The next morning her handkerchief was soaked in blood and she understood her fate. Coughing up of blood meant tuberculosis, and tuberculosis meant death.
She wrote, "I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!"
To the right and to the left, I throw to my little birds the good grain that God places in my hands. And then I let things take their course! I busy myself with it no more. Sometimes, it's just as though I had thrown nothing; at other times, it does some good. But God tells me: 'Give, give always, without being concerned with the results'.
Together with Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most popular Roman Catholic saints since apostolic times. She is approachable, due in part to her historical proximity. Barbara Stewart, writing for The New York Times, once called Thérèse "...the Emily Dickinson of Roman Catholic sainthood".
As a Doctor of the Church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study, and, as a young woman whose message has touched the lives of millions, she remains the focus of much popular devotion. She was a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century because of the simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life.
Thérèse was devoted to Eucharistic meditation and on 26 February 1895, shortly before she died wrote from memory and without a rough draft her poetic masterpiece "To Live by Love" which she had composed during Eucharistic meditation. During her life, the poem was sent to various religious communities and was included in a notebook of her poems.
Thérèse lived a hidden life and "wanted to be unknown", yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography. She also left letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her becoming known.
Thérèse said on her death-bed, "I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretence", and she spoke out against some of the claims made concerning the lives of saints written in her day, "We should not say improbable things, or things we do not know. We must see their real, and not their imagined lives".
The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love", has inspired many believers up to the current day. In the face of her littleness she trusted to God her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus". The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness.
The Story of a Soul
St. Thérèse is best known today for her spiritual memoir, L'histoire d'une âme (The Story of a Soul).
After she died, everything at the convent went back to normal. One nun commented that there was nothing to say about Therese.
But Pauline put together Therese's writings (and heavily edited them, unfortunately) and sent 2000 copies to other convents.
But Therese's "little way" of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives. Within two years, the Martin family had to move because her notoriety was so great and by 1925 she had been canonized.
Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is a reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God's kingdom growing.