Thought for the Day – 17 July – Wednesday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, C, The memorial of St Alexius of Rome – “the Man of God” “the Beggar Saint”
St Alexius is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology under 17 July in the following terms: “At Rome, in a church on the Aventine Hill, a man of God is celebrated under the name of Alexius, who, as reported by tradition, abandoned his wealthy home, for the sake of becoming poor and to beg for alms unrecognised.”
“With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man,” the Catechism plainly teaches us. “Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from Him, our Creator” (#2007). The Alexius of lore, who at least could’ve rightfully claimed the privileges associated with his family ties, instead embraced a life of severe deprivation and extravagant piety in absolute concealment.
Why? Not for points, not to earn salvation but out of a rare plenitude of gratitude and love. “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works,” is how St Thérèse of Lisieux expressed the same notion. “I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own justice and to receive from Your love the eternal possession of Yourself” (CCC 2011).
Even simpler, is St John of the Cross: “At the end of your life, you will be judged by your love” (CCC 1022) and nobody will be comparing scores.
One Minute Reflection – 17 July – Wednesday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, C – Today’s Gospel Matthew 11:25-27.
“You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them, to the childlike”…Matthew 11:25
REFLECTION – “Thus, children are in and of themselves, a treasure for humanity and also for the Church, for they constantly evoke that necessary condition for entering the Kingdom of God – that of not considering ourselves self-sufficient but in need of help, of love, of forgiveness.”…Pope Francis (General Audience, 18 March 2015)
PRAYER – Lord God, in Your wisdom You created us, by Your Providence, You rule us. Penetrate our inmost being with Your holy light so that our way of life may always be one of faithful service and childlike trust in You. Grant that we may always follow behind Your Son and grasp His hand, to lead us to You. Hear the prayers of St Alexius of Rome, who trusted completely in You alone in childlike simplicity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 17 July – Saint Alexius of Rome – (Died early 5th Century) Hermit, recluse, apostle of Prayer, Mystic, beggar – known as “the Man of God” – Patronages – Alexians (a religious apostolate), beggars, belt makers, nurses, pilgrims, travellers.
Saint Alexius, born in Rome in the fourth century, was the only son of parents pre-eminent among the Roman nobles for both their virtue and their great wealth. They were particularly noted for their almsgiving; three tables were prepared every day for all who came for assistance — pilgrims, the poor and the sick. Their son, fruit of their prayers, was married with splendid feasting to a noble young lady of the imperial family but on his wedding night, by God’s special inspiration, he secretly left Rome, longing for a solitude where he could serve God alone.
He went to Edessa in the far East, gave away all that he had brought with him, content thereafter to live by alms at the gate of Our Lady’s church in that city. His family, in the deepest grief, could not fathom the mystery of his disappearance and would have been consoled if God had taken him instead through death.
It came to pass that the servants of Saint Alexius, whom his father had sent in search of him, arrived in Edessa and seeing him among the poor at the gate of Our Lady’s church, gave him an alms, not recognising him. Whereupon, the man of God, rejoicing, said, I thank You, Lord, who have called me and granted that I should receive for Your Name’s name’s sake an alms from my own slaves. Deign to fulfil in me the work You have begun.
After seventeen years spent at the portico of the church, when his sanctity was miraculously confirmed by the Blessed Virgin, speaking through Her image to an officer of the church, Saint Alexius once more sought obscurity by flight. On his way to Tarsus contrary winds drove his ship to Rome. There no-one recognised him, in this pale and tattered mendicant, the heir of Rome’s noblest house, not even his sorrowing parents, who had vainly sent throughout the world in search of him. From his own father’s charity Saint Alexius begged a miserable shelter in his palace, under a staircase, with the leavings of his table as food. There, he spent another seventeen years, bearing patiently the mockery and ill usage of his own servants and witnessing daily, the still inconsolable grief of his spouse and parents.
At last, when death had ended this cruel martyrdom, they learned too late, who it was that they had unknowingly sheltered. A voice was heard by all in attendance at the Pope’s Mass, saying –‘Seek the man of God, he will pray for Rome and the Lord will be favourable to it, he will die on Friday.’ All the city undertook in vain to find this unknown Saint. But God had commanded Alexius himself to write down his life story and sign it, in this way He Himself confirmed His servant’s sanctity, when he was found lifeless in his retreat, holding that document in his hand. The Pope read aloud what was written on the parchment of the Saint and everywhere in Rome there was a single cry of admiration, impossible to describe.
The house of Alexius’ father Euphemian was later transformed into a church dedicated to Saint Alexius and St Boniface and the staircase – suspended above an altar, under which he had lived for 17 years, is enshrined there as a relic.