Saint Jerome Emiliani (Optional Memorial)
She begged him. (Mark 7:26)
Some of the most emotionally powerful stories in the New Testament feature a parent begging Jesus to touch their child. From the little girl who was raised from the dead to the epileptic boy, these miracles all took place because parents pushed through the crowd on their child’s behalf.
The Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel reading is another example of a persistent parent who sought out Jesus, even when he seemed to want to be left alone. She pressed Jesus to heal her daughter. Even when he initially refused her request, she didn’t give up. She asked again, until Jesus relented and restored the girl.
Since New Testament times, parental guidance and prayers have made all the difference in the lives of countless saints. St. Monica spent years praying for her wayward son, Augustine, before she finally saw her prayers answered in his conversion. He went on to become one of the great early church fathers. More recently, Louis and Zelie Martin prayed constantly that all of their children would become saints. Several of their children joined religious life, and their youngest is one of our most beloved saints: Thérèse of Lisieux.
Many of us have been influenced by the prayers of our parents. And even if you never knew your parents or if your relationship is not what it could be, you can be sure that you have spiritual parents and brothers and sisters praying for you along the way. Not only do you have your guardian angel, but you also have saints who can relate to your challenges and who are praying for you. Like the Syrophoenician woman, they are wonderfully persistent in their intercession. It’s almost as if they won’t take no for an answer, even if the answer came in an unexpected way
Let’s thank the Lord for our biological and spiritual family members who have prayed for us and mentored us over the years. You may not know everything about them, and you may not even know who they are, but they have made a difference in your life. Thank the Lord for these prayer warriors. Their persistent prayers have made you the person you are today.
“Lord, thank you for giving us people who persistently pray for us.”
1 Kings 11:4-13
Psalm 106:3-4, 35-37, 40
Saint Jerome Emiliani’s Story
A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.
In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.
Around 1532, Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928, Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.
Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of “imprisonment” to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we’re “caught” in some situation we don’t want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for “the imprisoned” and “the orphaned” all around us.
The Liturgical Feast of Saint Jerome Emiliani is February 8.
Saint Jerome Emiliani is the Patron Saint of:Orphans
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