Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Saint Apollonia and the Beginning of Lent

Saint Apollonia was an aged deaconess of the church of Alexandria. It is recorded that, as she was being beaten during an anti-Christian riot, all her teeth were knocked out. She was burned to death around the year 249.

Saint Apollonia
by Francisco de Zurbarán
Because of the suffering she endured, Saint Apollonia is honored as the patron of dentists and those with toothaches.
In today’s Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees lash out at Jesus and his followers for not following the religious traditions that had been handed down by the elders. Jesus, however, reminds them that God isn’t interested in outward acts of piety. Instead, he reminds us that we must honor God in our hearts by loving and obeying God first. Our acts of devotion, if they are to be sincere, must then flow from that internal devotion and reverence.

As we celebrate the memory of the martyr Apollonia today and prepare for Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent, take time to reflect on your Lenten bona opera—“good works.” Are your Lenten resolutions an expression of heartfelt devotion or simply conforming to religious tradition or custom? Ask Saint Apollonia to help you discern the best way for you as you journey with the Lord today and throughout Lent.

Prayer +
O God,
by whose gift strength is made perfect in weakness,
grant to all who honor the glory of blessed Apollonia
that she, who drew from you the strength to triumph,
may likewise always obtain from you
the grace of victory for us.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Holy Woman Martyr)

This reflection was originally written for http://aleteia.org/daily-gospel/february-9-2016/#saint-of-the-day and published on their site on February 9, 2016.

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