Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 29, 2007
Behold the lilies of the fields
Let us honour two sisters who were beatified this year
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
Blessed Sara Salkahaz
The political climate with the rise of the Nazis to power became difficult and dangerous. The convent where she was superior was one of the few that dared to defy the Nazis and refused to fly the swastika for the celebration of the "homecoming" of the Nazi general.
As the persecutions became fiercer and bloodier, and hundreds of innocent Jews were jailed, sent to concentration camps, or simply killed, Sara spent herself unreservedly in visiting the camps, alleviating suffering and hiding Jewish girls in her convent.
At the same time, she was very worried about the fate of her sisters in the society who went about constantly endangering their lives by their acts of charity. A desire filled her heart to be a victim for them and if God would accept, to die for them.
"Accept my death with all its suffering as a ransom for the life of my Sisters - particularly of the elderly, the ill and the weak. In place of my miserable sinful life spare their life; protect them from torture, from threats, but especially from the loss of fidelity to you, to the Church, to their vocation and to our society. O dear Jesus, I now accept with total serenity and willingness that kind of death with all its anguish and pain that you please to send. Amen."
On Dec. 27, 1944, she was betrayed for harbouring Jews, and together with a group she tried to hide, was taken to the shore of the Danube. Stripped of their clothing, Sister Sara turned around, facing the executioners, and made a great sign of the cross and was shot. She was beatified on Sept. 17, 2006.
Maria came from a deeply religious Protestant pastor's family. When she entered the Catholic Church in October 1888, she was disowned by her family and released from her position as a nurse a mental facility. Alone, penniless and without employment, she sought shelter in a convent where the sisters ran a home for the aged.
She performed arduous house-cleaning tasks in exchange for food and shelter. Maria was also introduced to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
"During the first days of my stay at the convent, the Forty Hours Devotion was observed. It was the first exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and nocturnal adoration I had ever attended.
"I cannot find words to describe my feelings. I was so filled with holy joy that I knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament from nine o' clock in the evening until two o'clock in the morning without realizing the time. God inflamed my heart with such fervour that later on, all the sorrows sent to me, or allowed to happen to me by God's grace, seemed to me only a drop of water on a glowing iron. When I awoke in the morning, my heart was filled with a burning love of God."
From then on she herself became poor for the sake of the poor, homeless for the sake of the homeless. She placed her life in the service of God. In order to realize this goal, she founded a religious congregation, the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus on July 2, 1891.
Mother Maria Teresa took for a model St. Teresa of Jesus, the great Spanish mystic and reformer. Mother Maria Teresa took the Carmelite spirit of prayer and coupled it with apostolic service.
Her concern was aimed especially at poor and neglected children, above all those who had no home. Her loving dedication was further directed to families and individuals who had left the Church, to the lonely, the aged, to immigrants and transient workers - simply all who were homeless in any way.
"The good Lord will give you grace and his Holy Spirit and he will bless your humility; but I wish you would learn to love the cross with all your heart, in whatever form or manner it comes. Whether it comes from the outside or from within yourself, whether it comes from strangers or from our own sisters; it is always handed to us by a holy and loving hand that you should kiss.
"Then, take the cross and press it to your heart and pray to the Holy Spirit, that you may be able to carry it to honour God. All that is needed is patience. You will learn that year by year; the science of the cross is a long course of study, and we are always beginners and novices."
Christ's love for us, expressed through the cross, deepens our sensitivity to those who suffer around us. When we share the sufferings of others, we imitate Christ's emptying of himself for the sake of love. Mother Maria Teresa was beatified on May 13, 2006.
"The harvest is great, the labourers are few"
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