Optional Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin

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“Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know him. What a great grace it is to know God!”

— St. Josephine Bakhita

For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave, but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed. Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means fortunate. She was resold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan.

Two years later he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Soon Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice’s Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine.

When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.

Josephine entered the Institute of Saint Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the local citizens. She once said, “Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”

The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Things to Do:

  • Visit these websites for more about the life of St. Josephine: Josephine Bakhita(Vatican’s biography); Josephine Bakhita – an African Saint (Has links to information about the Faith in Africa and the persecution which continues); Black Catholics: Josephine Bakhita (Life Historical Timeline)
  • The Canossian Daughters of Charity are called to contemplate, experience and share God’s love for every person and to participate in Christ‘s mission of salvation in a life of total dedication to God, communion and humble service with Mary, mother of love beneath the cross. Learn more about the Canossian Daughters of Charity, the order in which St. Josephine became a professed religious.
  • A Sister seeing St. Josephine so peaceful and always in prayer, asked, “Do you wish to go to heaven?” “I wish neither to go nor to stay. God knows where to find me, when He wants me.” To another who asked how she was going on, she answered, “I am going slowly, step by step, because I have two heavy bags to carry – one containing my own sins, the other Christ’s merits. When I get to the other side, I will open my bags and say, ‘Eternal Father, now judge!’ and to St Peter, ‘You can close that door of yours, for I’m going to stay.'” More autobiographical excerpts from St. Josephine’s wonderful story can be found here.
  • Pray for those suffering persecution in Sudan. Read what Bishop Macram Max Gassis says in this article, Sudan: Country of Terrorism, Religious Persecution, Slavery, Rape, Genocide, and Man-Made Starvation and this statement from the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Regional Conference.

via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year


Daily Scripture Readings

First Reading: Gn 1:20-2:4a (NAB)

God said,

“Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.”

And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” Evening came, and morning followed–the fifth day.

Then God said,

“Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.”

And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was.

Then God said:

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”

God created man in his image;
in the divine image he created him;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying:

“Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”

God also said:

“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.”

And so it happened.

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed–the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (NAB)

R. (2ab) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?

R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.

R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

Gospel: Mk 7:1-13 (NAB)

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die. Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

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