Memorial of Saint Monica
The bee has often been presented to the Christian as a sort of role model. The bee works hard, knows its function, communicates well, defends the hive even to the point of self-sacrifice, and, perhaps most importantly, produces sweetness for itself and others.
This image fits well with Jesus’ teachings about service. The prudent and faithful servant whom the master puts in charge of his household distributes the food to the other servants at the right time, so he is blessed by his master and put in charge of more. The wicked servant abuses the other servants and eats and drinks with drunkards. At last, his master punishes him severely, and assigns him a place with the hypocrites, where there is “wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
If we consider our own personal talents as belongings entrusted to us by God for the good of all, then we must be careful to employ our talents at the right time for the benefit of the right people. If we do, then we will be blessed by God and given even more. But if, like the wicked servant, we hoard our talents, keeping the good things for ourselves or, still worse, actively making things worse for others, then we ought to be afraid of the punishment promised, repent quickly, ask pardon, and mend our ways.
Today is the feast of St. Monica. She saw her son, in his youth, imitating the wicked servant. She was afraid for him, and beseeched the divine mercy on his behalf. She used her talent for deprecatory prayer for the benefit of her son and, we may presume, others, and so she was rewarded, after death, by God himself. May we also benefit from her prayers, and, one day, share her reward. Amen.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.