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Saint Ludovico of Casoria

Statue of Father Ludovico da Casoria in the portico of the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei | photo by Dario Crespi
Image: Statue of Father Ludovico da Casoria in the portico of the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei | photo by Dario Crespi

Saint Ludovico of Casoria

Saint of the Day for March 29

(March 11, 1814 – March 30, 1885)

 

Saint Ludovico of Casoria’s Story

Born in Casoria, near Naples, Arcangelo Palmentieri was a cabinet-maker before entering the Friars Minor in 1832, taking the name Ludovico. After his ordination five years later, he taught chemistry, physics, and mathematics to younger members of his province for several years.

In 1847, he had a mystical experience which he later described as a cleansing. After that, he dedicated his life to the poor and the infirm, establishing a dispensary for the poor, two schools for African children, an institute for the children of nobility, as well as an institution for orphans, the deaf, and the speechless, and other institutes for the blind, elderly, and for travelers. In addition to an infirmary for friars of his province, he began charitable institutes in Naples, Florence, and Assisi. He once said, “Christ’s love has wounded my heart.” This love prompted him to great acts of charity.

To help continue these works of mercy, in 1859 he established the Gray Brothers, a religious community composed of men who formerly belonged to the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later, he founded the Gray Sisters of St. Elizabeth for the same purpose.

Toward the beginning of his final, nine-year illness, Ludovico wrote a spiritual testament which described faith as “light in the darkness, help in sickness, blessing in tribulations, paradise in the crucifixion, and life amid death.” The local work for his beatification began within five months of Ludovico’s death. He was beatified in 1993 and canonized in 2014.


Reflection

Saintly people are not protected from suffering, but with God’s help they learn how to develop compassion from it. In the face of great suffering, we move either toward compassion or indifference. Saintly men and women show us the path toward compassion.


Minute Meditations

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St. Sixtus III, Pope

Not much is known about the history and youth of St. Sixtus, but we do know that he was born in Rome, Italy and ascended to the papacy in 432.As the 44th Pope, he approved the results of the Council of Ephesus and actively protested against the heresies of Nestorianism and Pelagianism. He restored many Roman basilicas and corresponded frequently with St. Augustine of Hippo. He died on August 18 in the year 440 of natural causes.

The Truth Will Set You Free

You have only to be truthful to cause trouble. But it’s a different kind of trouble when you are untruthful. You have to decide what kind of troublemaker you will be. Perhaps most people want to avoid causing any trouble because they are frightened of a backlash; but eventually we all have to decide. Are we going to tell the truth, to live the truth or to hide behind platitudes and half-truths? A heightened level of awareness through meditation can  allow us to be truthful even when this carries a high cost. "The truth will set you free." When meditators experience this incremental liberation from fear and evasion, they more readily come out into the open to say what they really mean. And they stand on the side of those in need rather than merely on the side of those who will be the likely winners in a conflict. In the mysterious paradoxes of reality it can often happen that divisions are necessary to create healing and a stronger union. We break the bread in order to share it and be brought into unity. The mystery here is that of separation, which is necessary for us to know ourselves before we can give ourselves to another, to God.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Understanding Stability

When Yeshua moved about Galilee he was a consistently steady, still point manifesting in many places. People who stay at home but fantasize about trips and being elsewhere do not have anything like this stability. St. Benedict says the monk “must prefer nothing to Christ.” Quite soon in my monastic life I heard the ironical version of this, “prefer nothing to a trip,” from monks who had come to understand stability primarily in geographical terms. Of course we can also be on the move as a way of keeping one step ahead of reality, being on the run from something and protecting ourselves from it. But stability, whether you are busy or not, is a fruit of meditation. It produces the clarity, discernment and good judgment that improves the quality and other-centeredness of our lives. Stability brings the point of departure and the place of arrival together in a dynamic stillness and a radical openness to change. Not a bad goal to identify, even in the last part of Lent.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Reality at the Cutting Edge

We slice up experience into beginnings, middles and ends and draw lessons from the slices. We stock our mental shelves with these stories, often adding to or refreshing them according to what we sense our listeners would like. The Irish make a living from this. Reality at the cutting edge, however, is characterized by frayed ends and incomplete conclusions. Chaos is another word for it, one that we don’t like to use about our lives. But we walk a very thin line between cosmos (order) and chaos, and most of the order we put into things has a tendency to unravel very quickly. Even when we get the key to understanding its meaning, like Jesus’s poor parents, we don’t understand it. But he went back and lived with them anyway which, for the time, was evidently enough. In the self-discipline of Lenten meditation, which sharpens our daily awareness, we get deeper and more piercing glimpses into this provisionality of life and, strangely, we even find it reassuring.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

The Importance of Friends

Friends are people who are there for us when we need them. Often we don’t know who among our acquaintances are true friends until circumstances reveal it. This being-there-for of friendship applies not only in times when external events overwhelm us and we feel helpless and alone. Friends also, on occasion, save us from ourselves. Our inner high and low pressures threaten us with a personal implosion. A friend knows us well enough to recognize this and does not walk away. Friendship, like the relationship that Jesus describes himself having with his “Father,” is like the digital cloud. Everything here down below is stored up there, non-geographically, but accessible from any physical point and at every moment. Both friends are there together in the cloud. But they are also individuals, living the friendship in all the changing circumstances of life. Perhaps this helps us understand why the way this relationship with the Father is described sounds both deeply intimate and way beyond our grasp.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Time to Move Forward

"Stand up, take your mat and walk." The man healed in the Gospel story (John 5:1-16) complains that no one has helped him to get into the magic pool while the angel was stirring the waters. He has been waiting there for thirty-eight barren years: as long, according to Deuteronomy, as the Israelites had wandered in the desert. What’s the symbolism of that? Are there problems, blocks, hang-ups in yourself, in your character, in your life, that have been with you for as long as you remember? Things that you have given up on ever getting over but which still cause you to regret, complain or feel sorry for yourself? The cause of the problem, however much it is ancient history, set deep in the early layers of your life, is linked to and sustained by the effects of the sadness or anger it has produced. So we are held in a double pincer movement: a historical trauma and an ongoing post-traumatic stress. The past has flooded and incapacitated the present, just as a computer virus invades and slows down operational functions. We are held captive and we feel no one seems to want, or to be able to help. The spirit cannot tolerate such a situation and such a waste. Given half a chance, even a brief encounter by a magical pool, it will penetrate the person and target the problem and say, “Now move on and take that damned mat with you.” This is what is happening in meditation.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Miracles Are More than Magic

Anyone concerned for a loved one in danger, is desperate for a miracle. Even when we have faced the truth and given up false hope, there remains a pocket of desperation where the dream of a miracle never dies. Our need for magic, for manipulating causes and effects from the outside, can even survive despair. Political crisis, economic downturns, fiction and boy wizards all evidence our appetite for the fast food of magical signs and wonders. When things are desperate, that is when we most want magical powers. In the Gospel, Jesus exposes this and so frees us from the addiction to magical solutions. What flows from him is the power of healing in the full force of compassion. In meditation we are saved from our own desperation, not by the external signs of magic, but by what is already within us. Jesus didn’t want people to see him as a magician or even as a messiah. He wanted more, for people to connect with him, to know him, from within themselves. There are also signs and wonders associated with that. But they are not magical. They are the real signs of a wondrous transformation of self, produced by the relationship we call faith.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Truth Is Lived, Not Spoken

The truth is not just what you say. You can wait for your lawyer to give you the oily words that will get you off the hook. But truth is lived, not spoken. It is what you live and how you live. Truth cannot be hidden. When the dust of the explosion that tries to destroy it settles, whatever you tried to conceal is more visible than ever. If you have something to hide and if you are afraid of the truth, then this is the terrible, inescapable truth of truth. It will come to light, just as reality will emerge from the ashes of the illusion that tried to evade the truth. This is true not only of deeds done. It is also true of a truth repressed in our minds and memories. A feeling that is too painful to face, a mistake too hurtful to admit, an insight too transformative to welcome. Until we come into the open and let the truth expand in the light, we will be hounded, and we will be on the run. Meditation is living the truth. In the light—in the open.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

 
 

Life Is More than Winning and Losing

We say things like “There are two kinds of people…” or “We can do one of two things…” The mind likes dualities because there’s always a winner and a loser. But, as God and the meditator know, dualities are only two-thirds of the story. The deeper, subatomic mind thinks in threes and so winning or losing isn’t the main point. As a teacher, using stories that were both simple and subtle, Jesus used the dualistic to get to the Trinitarian. Don’t we all have moments when we feel superior, if not to everyone else, then at least to the lowest? And don’t we all have, in the murkiest corners of our ego, an awareness that we are very screwed up and can do nothing about it except open ourselves, in that very place, to the God we only discover in humility? Except we do even that imperfectly. So what is the mind that is aware of this duality within us? The third, which makes one. Except it is a non-numerical oneness, a unity and a union in which duality is both healed and transcended in the process of meditation. And so there’s the paradox when Jesus says, "Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted." You obviously can’t stay long in either place then. So where are we? We arrive at that non-geographical place when we see that God is smiling.

—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB