for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they will collapse on the way.
- Matthew 15:32
For Catholics in England living during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the world seemed as though it had been turned upside-down. The “Old Religion” had been outlawed in favor of the government-sanctioned church. Charges of treason, and even death, awaited those who spoke out against the changes imposed by the queen and her counselors. For those who remained faithful, the sense that they had been abandoned was quite real. It was to this England that the Jesuit priest Edmund Campion returned, prepared to nourish the hungry with the Eucharist and the Word of God. Father Campion, and many others like him, gave their lives to ensure that none of the Lord’s hungry children would go without. Although the results of his labors are known only to God, we can look to Saint Edmund as a model of self-sacrifice for the service of those in need.
Advent is a time of patience and of perseverance. Those we honor as saints are Christian women, men, and children who put their faith and devotion first, regardless of whatever challenges and trials they faced. It was the dedication of the saints - including Edmund Campion and Francis Xavier (whose Memorial we celebrate today) - that kept alive the faith that has been handed down to us. Pray for the grace of perseverance during these dark Advent days.
Prayer for Wednesday of the First Week of Advent +
Prepare our hearts, we pray, O Lord our God,
by your divine power,
so that at the coming of Christ your Son
we may be found worthy of the banquet of eternal life
and merit to receive heavenly nourishment from his hand.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)