SECONDARY READING OF THE DAY: 18 MARCH, 2013

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THIS READING WAS A DETERMINING FACTOR IN MY YOUTH, THOUGH I WAS NOT CHRISTIAN AT THE TIME…IT TAUGHT ME TO NEVER BEAR FALSE WITNESS, NOR TO LIE, COVET, OR DISHONOR SOMEONE OUT OF JEALOUSY…IT ALSO TAUGHT ME THAT EVEN PEOPLE IN TRUSTED OFFICES, LEADERS OF MEN IN MANY WAYS, CAN BE CORRUPT AND DISHONEST….F/J

“In Babylon there lived a man named Joakim, who married a very beautiful and God-fearing woman, Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah;
her pious parents had trained their daughter according to the law of Moses.

Joakim was very rich; he had a garden near his house, and the Jews had recourse to him often because he was the most respected of them all.

That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, of whom the Lord said, “Wickedness has come out of Babylon: from the elders who were to govern the people as judges.”

These men, to whom all brought their cases, frequented the house of Joakim.

When the people left at noon, Susanna used to enter her husband’s garden for a walk.

When the old men saw her enter every day for her walk, they began to lust for her.

They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments.

One day, while they were waiting for the right moment, she entered the garden as usual, with two maids only. She decided to bathe, for the weather was warm.

Nobody else was there except the two elders, who had hidden themselves and were watching her.

“Bring me oil and soap,” she said to the maids, “and shut the garden doors while I bathe.”

As soon as the maids had left, the two old men got up and hurried to her.

“Look,” they said, “the garden doors are shut, and no one can see us; give in to our desire, and lie with us.

If you refuse, we will testify against you that you dismissed your maids because a young man was here with you.”

“I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power.

Yet it is better for me to fall into your power without guilt than to sin before the Lord.”

Then Susanna shrieked, and the old men also shouted at her, as one of them ran to open the garden doors.

When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her.

At the accusations by the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

When the people came to her husband Joakim the next day, the two wicked elders also came, fully determined to put Susanna to death.

Before all the people they ordered:
“Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, the wife of Joakim.”

When she was sent for, she came with her parents, children and all her relatives.

All her relatives and the onlookers were weeping.

In the midst of the people the two elders rose up and laid their hands on her head.

Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly.

The elders made this accusation: “As we were walking in the garden alone, this woman entered with two girls and shut the doors of the garden, dismissing the girls.

A young man, who was hidden there, came and lay with her.

When we, in a corner of the garden, saw this crime, we ran toward them.

We saw them lying together, but the man we could not hold, because he was stronger than we; he opened the doors and ran off.

Then we seized this one and asked who the young man was, but she refused to tell us. We testify to this.”

The assembly believed them, since they were elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death.

But Susanna cried aloud: “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me.”

The Lord heard her prayer.

As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud: “I will have no part in the death of this woman.”

All the people turned and asked him, “What is this you are saying?”

He stood in their midst and continued, “Are you such fools, O Israelites!

To condemn a woman of Israel without examination and without clear evidence?

Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.”

Then all the people returned in haste.

To Daniel the elders said, “Come, sit with us and inform us, since God has given you the prestige of old age.”

But he replied, “Separate these two far from one another that I may examine them.”

After they were separated one from the other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, “The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’

Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.”

“Under a mastic tree,” he answered.

“Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God shall receive the sentence from him and split you in two.”

Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought.

“Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has subverted your conscience.

This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your wickedness.

Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.”

“Under an oak,” he said.

“Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to make an end of you both.”

The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those that hope in him.

They rose up against the two elders, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury.

According to the law of Moses, they inflicted on them the penalty they had plotted to impose on their neighbor: they put them to death.

Thus was innocent blood spared that day.” -Daniel 13:1-9.15-17.19-30.33-62.

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READING OF THE DAY: 18 MARCH, 2013

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“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, «I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.»

So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified.”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone.

And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me.

Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified.

I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.”

So they said to him, “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area.

But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.” -John 8:12-20.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 18 MARCH, 2013

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St. Salvatore
Confessor, First Order
Died: 1567

In the sixteenth century when the Faith, especially in Germany, was so mightily shaken by the so-called reformers, when the Sign of the Cross was abolished as a superstitious practice, almighty God permitted this very Sign of the Cross to shine with special power and radiance, in order to strengthen the Faith in another country.

This was Spain, and it was through the great miracle worker of the sixteenth century, St Salvatore of Horta.

Saint Salvatore of Horta was born of poor parents in the year 1520. Orphaned when still quite young, he tended cattle and was later sent as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Barcelona.

His devout heart, however, was constantly prompting him to consecrate himself to God; so, when he was twenty years old, he entered the Franciscan Order as a lay brother. He distinguished himself among his brethren by rigorous mortification, profound humility, and extraordinary simplicity.

Saint Salvatore of Horta was sent to assist the brother in the kitchen, and one day, when the cook was ill, Salvatore had to undertake the entire round of duties alone. When it was close to the noon hour, the Father Guardian went to the kitchen to see what Brother Salvator had prepared.

He found the kitchen locked.

After looking for Salvatore for a considerable time, he finally found him kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, deeply absorbed in prayer.
Saint Salvatore of Horta had been there since early morning without being aware of it.

The superior reproved him severely, and Salvatore acknowledged his guilt amid many tears, begging for a severe penance. How astonished, however, were both men when they arrived at the kitchen and found all the food ready to be served; the angels had substituted for Salvatore.

After pronouncing his vows, Salvatore was sent to the convent at Tortosa. Although he was assigned in turn to the duties of cook, porter, and quester of alms, he was nevertheless continually recollected and intimately united with God.

While gathering alms, Saint Salvatore of Horta often came upon sick people for whom his prayers were requested. He would make the Sign of the Cross over them, and immediately they were healed.

News of this fact soon spread abroad and may sick were brought to the convent. All were restored to health through the Sign of the Cross which Brother Salvator made over them.

The concourse of sick people, however, finally became so great that it disturbed the good order in the convent. So the superiors sent Brother Salvatore to the nearby convent of Horta, where he spent the greater part of his religious life; hence his surname “of Horta.”

Although the transfer was made in perfect secrecy and no one had been informed of it, the sick presented themselves at the convent at Horta already in the first days after his arrival there, and their number increased daily.

The deaf, the blind, the dumb, the lame, the epileptic, came; the paralytic, the dropsical, those afflicted with fevers, and sufferers of every type were brought to him on beds, so that Brother Salvatore might restore their health.

Usually there were as many as two thousand a week, sometimes that many in one day, and once, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, as many as six thousand made their appearance.

One time the grand inquisitor, a renowned theologian, whose duty it was to guard the purity of the Faith, came in order to learn whether anything occurred there that savored of superstition.

Without giving any indication of his rank, he took his station at a corner of the church were the sick were expecting the healing hand of Brother Salvatore.

When the good religious arrived, Saint Salvatore of Horta had the sick make way for him as he passed through their ranks till he reached the grand inquisitor.

There he reverently kissed the latter’s hand, and begged him to come to the upper church, where he could watch the entire proceedings. Astonished at finding himself recognized, the inquisitor was already assured of the power from on high which held sway there. Nevertheless, he followed the brother.

Salvatore began, as usual, to admonish the sick to examine their conscience and to receive the sacraments of penance and of the Holy Eucharist worthily.

Then he blessed them with the Sign of the Cross while he called upon the Blessed Trinity and imposed on them a few prayers in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whose intercession he ascribed all the cures.

The sufferers were then all suddenly cured, except, as Salvatore had foretold, those who were not sincere in their conversion.

In order to test the humility of the brother and to preserve him in it, his superiors frequently imposed heavy trial, but he always remained an obedient, humble, and contented religious. A prominent gentleman once warned Salvatore that he should be on guard against pride and presumption.

The good brother answered: “I always think of myself as a sack full of straw; the sack is indifferent as to whether it lies in a stable or is brought into a magnificent room.”

MORE ABOUT THIS ALMOST UNKNOWN SAINT:

St. Salvatore is usually described as “of Horta” because he spent many years in the Franciscan Friary of that place. He was born at Santa Columba in the diocese of Gerona in Spain.

He came of a poor family, and lost both his parents while still a child.

Migrating to the town, he worked as a shoemaker in Barcelona. At the age of twenty, as his heart was set on the religious life, he became a Franciscan of the Observance.

Employed in the kitchen, his virtue quickly matured in these humble surroundings, but he thirsted for greater austerity, and passed on, first to the convent of St. Mary of Jesus at Tortosa, and then to the solitude of St. Mary of the Angels at Horta in the same diocese.

In that house of very strict observance, he made a protracted stay but eventually he returned to Barcelona, where his supernatural gifts attracted much notice, and where the blind, lame and deaf came to him to be healed.

He always walked barefoot, scourged himself daily, and kept long and rigorous fasts.

He was specially devoted to our Lady and to St. Paul who appeared to him on several occasions, notably on his death-bed.

St. Salvatore had gone to Sardinia in compliance with the orders of his superiors when he was seized with an illness which proved fatal.

The last two years of his life were spent on the island of Sardinia, and there he died in the convent of Cagliari on March 18, 1567. Innumerable miracles occurred also at his grave.

The uninterrupted devotion to the saint was confirmed by Pope Clement XI.

Saint Salvatore of Horta was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1938.

He was venerated as a saint during his lifetime and was eventually canonized in 1938.