Today is Brother Thomas Mary’s 23rd birthday, his first in the monastery.
A Word from Today’s Saint
Saint Lorenzo da Brindisi (1559-1619), Doctor of the Church, whose feast we celebrate today, wrote this lovely Marian sermon on Saint John the Apostle. A great advocate of the poor of Naples, Saint Lorenzo died while en route to the King of Spain to plead their cause.
The Consolation of Saint John
I. When Saint John, the Apostle and Evangelist, the beloved disciple of Christ and after the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos, the singular son of the Cross of Christ, having been relegated to the island of Patmos, suffered many things for the Faith of Christ, he was consoled in the same place by God with many celestial and divine revelations. For, as that Apostle says: As there has abounded in us the sufferings of Christ, so also through Christ abound our consolations, for, according to the number of my sorrows in my heart, Thy consolations have made my soul rejoice.
Rapt Unto God
With singular effort Saint John, who had rested upon the breast of the Lord during the Last Supper, and had chosen the best part, as Mary had done, which would not be taken from him, had always been intent, after the Ascension of Christ the Lord into Heaven, upon divine contemplations, but in the time of tribulation he used to employ himself more vehemently with divine things; for this was the custom of the Saints. Wherefore, since Saint John at that time «enkindled by a more ardent flame, was rapt unto God, and driven above by certain, seraphic ardors, he began also to be filled from above more abundantly than usual and much more copiously with the sweetness of divine contemplation, and to feel more richly the gifts of heavenly inpourings.
Because Jesus Loved Him
Wherefore, just as God the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in our every tribulation had consoled him, just as once He did to Jacob, the Patriarch, with the vision of the heavenly staircase, to Moses with the divine apparition in the burning bush, to the three youths in the fiery furnace with angelic consolation and heavenly refreshment, and just as He did to Saint Paul, for the sake of consolation, snatching him up to the third heaven, unto Paradise itself, in an ineffable manner with the vision of celestial glory; so had He consoled Saint John in many ways. Often, with heaven unbolted, He showed him, just as He had done to Saint Stephen, the glory of Paradise, the glory of Christ, the glory of God. Often He rendered him glad with the vision and locution of the Angels, and steeped him in great joy. Often from the sublimity of the heavens, the most sweet Savior appeared to him. Often he was deigned even with the vision of the glory of the Father. O happy Saint John, thrice and four times blessed, with the gift of divine charity! Because Jesus loved him.
Love of the Mother of God
II. One thing could have been lacking to Saint John. He loved above all things Christ, with all his affection, truly from his spirit, with his whole innermost being, just the most loving bridegroom is loved by his most beloved bride. On this account, he was steeped in such great joy by the vision of Christ. But who does not know, that he was also devoted to the Virgin Theotokos, the Most Holy Mother of God, with a most high piety, that he pursued her with a most high charity as one does a most sweet and loving mother? For he knew that he was loved similarly by her as her dearest son after Christ. For even to His Mother Christ had said of Saint John: Behold Thy son! and to Saint John of His Mother: Behold thy Mother! and he accepted her, said he, the disciple, into his own, that is he accepted her among his own.
Mary, His Treasure
What, I ask, did Saint John have of his own in the world, he who, to follow Christ, had forsaken all things, father and mother, indeed even his own life? In what manner did he accept the Virgin, Mother of Christ, among his own, who having left all things, possessed nothing of his own? How ever does one show one’s feelings? He accepted her as the thing most dear to him beyond measure, as riches inestimable, as a treasure infinite. He esteemed Her his own treasure, all his riches, all his goods. Thus did Saint John pursue the Virgin Mother, with great, ineffable, inestimable affection.
But for her part, not many years after the Ascension of Christ the Lord into Heaven, Mary had also been assumed by Christ to the heavenly realms, to assist as Queen at the right hand of the Most High Emperor in golden vesture, surrounded with the variety of the heavenly court. For, about in the fifteenth year after Christ had ascended, the Virgin Theotokos was assumed into Heaven. But Saint John lived until the times of Trajan. And since he had been relegated to the Isle of Patmos by Domitian, « that monster of horrendous cruelty », after the Most Holy Virgin was already translated into Paradise, he was left “in this valley of tears” for the utility of the Church, thus by the disposition of Christ.
Consoled by the Glorious Virgin in Heaven
Saint John knowing that the Virgin had been assumed into Heaven and exalted above all the angelic orders to the right hand of Christ, could not not rejoice and exult in spirit. But deprived of the conversation and sweet solace and divine consolation of such and so great a Virgin, he could not not be sad and weep at his lot. Thus his quest for the Virgin was also a thing most familiar to him. And are we to think that she had forgotten Saint John? In what manner could she forget him, whom, accompanying in place of Christ, she was to hold to Her maternal bosom? The chief butler of the Pharaoh forgot the innocent Joseph in prison. In this manner, Mary, least of all, could be forgetful. Wherefore it helps one believe that the Most Holy Virgin would often look upon Saint John from the sublimity of the heavens, and would console him as a most dear mother does her most beloved, and at the same time loving, son.