Quote/s of the Day – 25 April – the Memorial St Pedro de San Jose de Betancur OFB (1626-1667) “St Francis of Assisi of the Americas” – “The Man Who was Made Charity”
Father Manuel Lobo, a Jesuit who was Brother Pedro de Betancur’s spiritual director for fifteen years, wrote:
“It was because of the great devotion he professed to the mystery of the birth of the Son of God, that, inspired from Heaven, he gave his establishment the name of Our Lady of Bethlehem. Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’—here it was that the humble shepherds found the Son of God incarnate.
Likewise, in this new Bethlehem, the poor must find not only bread but the Lord God and, with bodily food, spiritual food for the nourishment of their souls.”
Father Manuel Lobo
“Already in the land of his birth, as in every phase of his life, Brother Pedro was a deeply prayerful man, especially here where, at the hermitage of Calvary, he diligently sought God’s will at every moment.
Thus, he is an outstanding example for Christians today, whom he reminds, that training in holiness “calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer” (Novo millennio ineunte, 32). I, therefore, renew my exhortation to all the Christian communities of Guatemala and other countries, to be authentic schools of prayer where all activity is centred on prayer. An intensely devout life always bears abundant fruit.
Brother Pedro modelled his spirituality in this way, particularly in contemplation of the mysteries of Bethlehem and of the Cross. If, in the birth and childhood of Jesus, he immersed himself deeply in the fundamental event of the Incarnation of the Word — which led him to discover spontaneously, as it were, the face of God in man — then, in meditating on the Cross, he found the strength to practise mercy heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.
… Pedro de Betancurt was distinguished precisely by the humble spirit and austere life with which he practised mercy. The Apostle Paul’s recommendation went straight to his servant’s heart: “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men” (Col 3:23). Thus he was truly a brother to all, who lived in misfortune and gave himself with tenderness and immense love, to their salvation. In this way, throughout his life, his deeds showed his dedication to the sick at the little hospital of Our Lady of Bethlehem, the cradle of the Bethlehemite Order.
Brother Pedro is a legacy that cannot be lost. He must be the subject of continuous gratitude; he must be imitated with renewed purpose. This legacy must inspire among Christians and among all citizens, the desire to transform the human community into a large family, where social, political and economic relations are worthy of man and within which, the dignity of the person is promoted through effective recognition of his inalienable rights.
I would like to conclude by recalling that devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin was always present in Brother Pedro’s life of piety and mercy. May she also guide us so that, illuminated by the examples of ‘the man who was made charity,’ as Pedro de Betancur is known, we might come to her Son Jesus!”
St John Paul II (1920-2005)
Guatemala City, Tuesday 30 July 2002