Thursday, April 24, 2008

APRIL 24 SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN

“Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen
and Saint Joseph of Leonessa”
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo,
c. 1750
APRIL 24

SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN,
PRIEST AND MARTYR

Additional Information about St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
Colossians 1:24-29

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God's stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is him whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.
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Commentary on
Col 1:24-29

The Apostle speaks to the great sacrifice of Christ who offered his body for the salvation of all.  Through his sufferings he joins all Christians in solidarity with himself and the Father.  In the suffering we share on earth, we join with Jesus, and participate with him in his great offering of sacrifice.

“As the community at Colossae was not personally known to Paul (see Introduction), he here invests his teaching with greater authority by presenting a brief sketch of his apostolic ministry and sufferings as they reflect those of Christ on behalf of the church (24). The preaching of God's word (Col 1:25) carries out the divine plan (the mystery, Col 1:26) to make Christ known to the Gentiles (Col 1:27). It teaches the God-given wisdom about Christ (Col 1:28), whose power works mightily in the apostle (Col 1:29).”[3]

The theme of unifying the “Body of Christ” in the face of great resistance or persecution (“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God”) serves to bring Jew and gentile together as one community. The ultimate goal of St. Paul’s ministry is to bring everyone to Christ.

 

CCC: Col 1:24 307, 618, 1508; Col 1:27 568, 772
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the Lord;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Glorify the Lord with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the Lord is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
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Commentary on
Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving and a favorite for celebrating the heroic virtue of the saints. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Psalm 34:5, 7), can teach the "poor," those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone. This psalm, in the words of one being unjustly persecuted, echoes hope for deliverance and freedom. The Lord in his faithful love always hears those who call to him for help and salvation.

CCC: Ps 34:3 716; Ps 34:8 336
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GOSPEL
John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
"Holy Father, I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them."
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Commentary on
Jn 17:20-26

Here is the final part of the “High Priestly Prayer” from the Lord’s final discourse. In this selection we are linked with the disciples as Jesus prays: …also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Again the theme of unity between the Father, and the Son, and his followers is emphasized and brought to a conclusion with “…that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.
 
CCC: Jn 17 2604, 2746, 2758; Jn 17:21-23 260, 877; Jn 17:21 820; Jn 17:22 690; Jn 17:23-26 2750; Jn 17:24 2749, 2750, 2750; Jn 17:25 2751; Jn 17:26 589, 729, 2750
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Reflection:

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, memorialized today, demonstrates to us, the modern followers of Christ, what it means to live in Christ and demonstrate unity with Christ to those who would see the Lord’s flock divided. St. Fidelis possessed those high moral standards that made him a thorn in the side of his contemporaries. Educated as a lawyer, he fought valiantly to reform the legal profession of his day (1600’s), which was fraught with greed and corruption.

What ultimately led to his martyrdom, however, was his zeal for the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church. He went with his companion, St. Joseph of Leonessa, to Switzerland to attempt to reunite those who had left the Church to follow John Calvin, the Calvinists. His efforts were very successful, and tradition holds that this was due, to a large degree, to the constant prayer of St. Fidelis. Success in the Lord’s work often earns the enmity of those who oppose it, and our hero was murdered in 1622, still following his call in Switzerland.

We hear his story and we see in scripture first St. Paul, and then the Lord, emphasizing that there is one Lord Jesus, and one God, the father. And all who believe in the Father and the Son should be one in their adoration. How often we see jealousy and disrespect between denominations that should make us ashamed for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As we recall the tireless efforts of St. Fidelis in his efforts to reunify the Church, let us pray that we will also be messengers of unity and recall that our Lord desired that: “the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."

Pax

[1] The picture used today is “Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen and Saint Joseph of Leonessa”, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, c. 1750
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] See NAB footnote on Colossians 1:24 – 2:3

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