Thursday, 31 December 2015

A few small changes .....

Traditionally, the last day of the year has been a day of happenings. For some, a day of endings, for others a day marking new beginnings. On this day .....

  • 1759 – Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and started brewing Guinness.
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in New Jersey.
  • 1923 – The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC.
  • 1991 – The Soviet Union was officially dissolved.

Recently, I came across this poster,

Whilst chuckling at it's wit I also realised that it only takes a few small changes to make a big difference. A difference in my own life and in the lives of others. Often it's a matter of perspective. So this evening I shall be thinking of those small changes that I might make, some marking endings, some new beginnings, as we head into a new calendar year packed with promise, potential, joys, heartache, victories, failures and surprises. It's often a matter of perspective. It's often a matter of a few small changes. 

31st December - New Year's Eve

Until relatively recently, people in Scotland celebrated the New Year and ignored Christmas, and people in England did the reverse. This was largely a result of the different pathways each country took in the 17th Century. Christmas was banned by Puritan order and at the restoration of the monarchy people were encouraged to welcome back “Old Father Christmas”. The Scottish Church frowned upon the notion, continuing to celebrate the New Year.

New Year had traditions of its own such as exchanging gifts and sending greetings but for the English it was an ambiguous feast, halfway between Christmas and Twelfth Night. Things changed when, in 1974, New Year’s Day became a Bank Holiday and now, for many, it holds more significance than Twelfth Night.

Today, for many, New Year is a time to celebrate with parties and fireworks, and say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new year with hope. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

30th December – Eugenia Ravasco

Eugenia, the third of six children born to Francesco Matteo and Carolina Mozzoni Frosconi. Eugenia's mother died when she was three, her father moved with some of the children to Genoa, Italy to find work, and Eugenia was raised in Milan by her aunt. Eugenia's father died in 1855 and she moved in with relatives (and their ten children).

Eugenia grew up in a time when opposition to the Church and the clergy was on the rise. Her family were open and active in their faith. Eugenia felt a call to religious life and she began teaching catechism and helping poor girls, especially those who lived on the street. Other young women joined in her work, and she founded the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary to teach catechism and open secular schools for the poor. Eugenia worked with great courage in the face of growing anti-clerical persecution in her region. She travelled Italy, France and Switzerland to start new communities, teach and give direction to new sisters.

Today the Sisters work in Albania, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, Africa and the Philippines in schools, parishes and missions, dedicated to youth, the poor, and promoting the dignity of women.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

29th December - Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket, also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London and Thomas à Becket (1119-1170) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He engaged in conflict with Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Becket was born on the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle. When he was 10, Becket was sent as a student to Merton Priory in England and later attended a grammar school in London, perhaps the one at St Paul's Cathedral. Becket was ordained a priest on 2 June 1162 at Canterbury, and on 3 June 1162 was consecrated as Archbishop. King Henry may have hoped that Becket would continue to put the royal government first, rather than the church. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time.

In June 1170, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, and the Bishop of Salisbury, crowned the heir apparent, Henry the Young King, at York. This was a breach of Canterbury's privilege of coronation, and Becket excommunicated all three. 

Upon hearing reports of Becket's actions, Henry is said to have uttered words that were interpreted by his men as wishing Becket killed. The king's exact words are in doubt and the most commonly quoted is "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" Or perhaps "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

Whatever Henry said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four Knights set out to confront the Archbishop. They arrived at Canterbury and informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

28th December - The Holy Innocents

Feast of the Holy Innocents, also called Childermas, or Innocents’ Day, is a day commemorating the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus. In the early church these children were regarded as the first martyrs.

This day was also one of a series of days known as the Feast of Fools, and the last day of authority for boy bishops. Parents temporarily abdicated authority. In convents and monasteries the youngest nun and monk were allowed to act as abbess and abbot for the day. These customs mocked formal expressions of religion. In medieval England the children were reminded of the mournfulness of the day by being whipped in bed in the morning; this custom survived into the 17th century. The day is still observed as a feast day and, in Roman Catholic countries, as a day of merrymaking for children.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

27th December - Feast of the Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family honours Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary, and his father Joseph as a family. The purpose of the feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families. From 1969 the feast is celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

26th December - Stephen the Martyr

Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was a Deacon and a preacher. While preaching the Gospel in the streets, angry Jews, who believed his message to be blasphemy, dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as St Paul the Apostle. Patron against headaches and patron of brick layer, casket makers, coffin makers, deacons, horses & stone masons.

Friday, 25 December 2015

25th December – Christmas Day

Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ prepared for by the season of Advent and heralds the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night.

Customs of the day include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. Father Christmas, St Nicholas and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

24th December – Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the evening or day before Christmas Day and is observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day.

Christmas celebrations often begin on the night of the 24th, due in part to the Christian liturgical day starting at sunset, a practice inherited from Jewish tradition and based on the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis: "And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day." Since tradition holds that Jesus was born at night, Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth.

During the Reformation many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

In many parts of the world gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day. In Spain, gifts are traditionally opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

23rd December - John Cantius

 “Fight all error, but do it with good humour, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.” 

John Cantius, (1390 – 1473), Polish, brilliant student, Priest and Professor of Theology. John was a serious, humble man, generous to a fault with the poor, sleeping little, eating no meat and little of anything else. He made one pilgrimage to Jerusalem and four pilgrimages to Rome, carrying his luggage on his back. He is patron of Poland and Lithuania.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

22nd December - Frances Xavier Cabrini

Frances, (1850 – 1917), was one of thirteen children raised on a farm. She received a convent education, and trained as a teacher. Poor health prevented her joining the order of nuns and so for six years she taught at a girl's school, the House of Providence Orphanage in Cadagono, Italy. She took religious vows in 1877, and acquitted herself so well at her work that when the orphanage closed in 1880, her bishop asked her to found the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. Pope Leo XIII then sent her to the United States to carry on this mission. She and six Sisters arrived in New York in 1889. They worked among immigrants, especially Italians. Mother Cabrini founded 67 institutions, including schools, hospitals, and orphanages in the United States, Europe and South America. She became a United States citizen during her life and after her death she was the first US citizen to be canonized.

Monday, 21 December 2015

21st December – Peter Canisius

Peter Canisius, (1521 – 1597), was a Priest and Doctor of the Church. He was educated in Cologne, studying art, civil law and theology, being awarded a master's degree at age 19. He was ordained in 1546 and travelled and worked with Ignatius of Loyola, his spiritual director. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his life, and was translated into 12 languages. He became a noted preacher and often worked with children. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

20th December - Dominic of Silos

Dominic, (1000 - 1073), was one of the most beloved of Spanish saints. A shepherd, Benedictine monk, Priest. Novice master and Prior of the house. He turned around the monastery at Silos which was in terrible trouble. He sorted out the spiritual life, straightened out its finances and rebuilt its structure. The house became a spiritual centre noted for book design, printed art, its gold and silver work, and charity to the local poor. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

19th December - Manirus of Scotland

Manirus, (700-824), missionary bishop to the Highlanders of northern Scotland. He had an on-going battle of words and ideas with the local pagans, but there was apparently little violence from either side during his work. His church is where the royal family of Great Britain worship when they are at Balmoral.

Friday, 18 December 2015

18th December - Winebald of Heidenheim

Winebald (701 – 761), an English missionary who evangelised Europe. He was born a prince, the son of Richard the King and Wunna of Wessex; brother of Willibald and Walburga; nephew of Boniface. During a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands he became ill and spent seven years in Rome, recovering and studying before finally returning to England. He became a missionary to Germany with Boniface. He was ordained in 739, worked in Bavaria and Mainz and founded a monastery at Heidenheim, serving as its first abbot.

He is patron of construction workers and engaged couples

Thursday, 17 December 2015

17th December - John of Matha

John of Matha (1160-1223) was born into Provencal nobility. He was educated at Aix, then lived as a hermit at Faucon. He earned a doctorate in theology and was ordained in 1197.

At the first Mass he celebrated, John received a vision of an angel clothed in white with a red and blue cross on his breast. The angel placed his hands on the heads of two slaves who knelt beside him. With the encouragement of Pope Innocent III, he founded the Hospitaler Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives to ransom Christian prisoners of the Moors. The congregation received papal approval in 1209. Hundreds of prisoners were ransomed and returned to their homes.

Today there are around 600 members of the Order working in prison ministries in over twenty countries, and they recently celebrated their 800 year anniversary.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

16th December - Adolphus (and Arnaldo and James)

Adolphus was one of three Mercedarian friars who, in 1314, went to Tunis to free Christian captives. On the trip home, their ship was captured by pirates, and they were imprisoned. While in captivity Adolphus ministered to other prisoners and talked about Christ. His jailers murdered him to stop his speaking up.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

15th December - Offa of Essex

Offa was King of Essex until 709, when he abdicated to take up life in a monastery in Rome. He was the son of Sigeheard of Essex, and, according to some sources, St. Osyth.

Bede described Offa as "a youth of most lovely age and beauty, and most earnestly desired by all his nation to be their king. He, with like devotion, quit his wife, lands, kindred and country, for Christ and for the Gospel, that he might receive an hundredfold in this life, and in the world to Come life everlasting.”

Monday, 14 December 2015

14th December - John of the Cross

John (1542-1591) was born in poverty and cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina del Campo, Spain. He became a Carmelite lay brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived more strictly than the Rule required and was ordained Carmelite priest aged 25. When he took up the barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, he took the name John of the Cross. After becoming master of novices and spiritual director, his reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina del Campo. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months and then becoming Vicar-general of Andalusia. His reforms revitalized the order and he was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

13th December (2015) - Gaudete Sunday

In 2015, the 13th December falls on a Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. It takes it's name from the Introit for the Latin Mass, taken from Philippians 4:4,5: "Gaudete in Domino semper" ("Rejoice in the Lord always").

The season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas, commencing on the day after the feast of St Martin (12 November), it was often called "St. Martin's Lent"—a name by which it was known as early as the fifth century. In the ninth century, Advent was reduced to four weeks. Gaudete Sunday is a counterpart to Laetare Sunday, and provides a similar break about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord's coming.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

12th December - Edburga of Thanet

d751 at Minster-on-Thanet

Only daughter of King Centwine and Queen Engyth of Wessex, the 8th century royal family of Kent. Edburga became a Benedictine nun. She was a friend and spiritual student of St Mildred of Thanet. Edburga became Abbess of Minster-on-Thanet Abbey in 716 where she built a new church. Edburga was a skilled scribe and calligrapher.

Friday, 11 December 2015

11th December - Daniel the Stylite

Daniel the Stylite* (c409 – 493) was born in Maratha in upper Mesopotamia, Turkey. He entered a monastery at the age of twelve and lived there until he was thirty-eight. During a voyage he made with his abbot to Antioch, he passed by Tellnesin and received the benediction and encouragement of Simeon Stylites. Then he visited the holy places, stayed in various convents and retired in 451 into the ruins of a pagan temple.

He established a "very large pillar" four miles north of Constantinople. The owner of the land where he placed his pillar had not been consulted, and he appealed to the emperor, Gennadius. He organised for Daniel to be evicted but for some reason ordained him a priest against his will, standing at the foot of his pillar. When the ceremony was over Daniel administered the Eucharist by means of a ladder. Daniel lived on the pillar for 33 years. By continually standing, his feet were covered with sores, cuts and ulcers. 

The following is the advice he gave to his disciples just before his death:
"Hold fast humility, practice obedience, exercise hospitality, keep the fasts, observe the vigils, love poverty, and above all maintain charity, which is the first and great commandment ....."

* A stylite, pillar dweller, or pillar-saint is a Christian ascetic who live on pillars, preaching, fasting and praying. Stylites believe that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls. The first stylite was probably Simeon Stylites the Elder who climbed a pillar in Syria in 423 and remained there until his death 37 years later.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

10th December - John Roberts

One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Son of John and Anna Roberts; his ancestors were princes in Wales. Raised Protestant, John always felt an affinity for Catholicism. He studied at Oxford but left without a degree and then studied law and was ordained in Spain.

He returned to England as a missioner, was quickly arrested and exiled.

He returned to England and worked with plague victims in London. He was, again, arrested and exiled.

He returned to England and during a search for suspects involved in the Gunpowder Plot he was arrested again. Though he had no connection to the Plot, he spent months in prison and was exiled ….. again.

He again returned to England, was arrested and sent to prison. He escaped and spent a year working in London but was again arrested. His execution was arranged, was reduced and he was exiled yet again.

Returned to England a few months later, he was arrested while celebrating Mass on 2 December 1610. He was convicted on 5 December 1610 of the crime of priesthood.

He was hung, drawn and quartered on 10 December, 1610, at 33 years old. It was usual for the prisoner's innards to be drawn when still alive, but the large crowd which gathered at his execution would not allow this. He was very popular among the poor of London because of the kindness he'd shown them during the plague.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

9th December - Syrus

Syrus of Pavia, also known as Cyril, served as first the bishop of Pavia, Italy in the 1st century. Tradition says that he was appointed by the Apostles, and an old legend says that he was the boy with five loaves and two fishes who appears in the Gospels. And if not true, I wonder where the boy ended up?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

8th December - Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8. It is one of the most important Marian feasts celebrated in the liturgical calendar and is generally considered a Family day. The Church first celebrated this day as early as the 5th century in Syria.

Monday, 7 December 2015

7th December - Ambrose

Ambrose, (340-397), bishop of Milan, one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. Ambrose is credited with promoting "antiphonal chant", a style of chanting in which one side of the choir responds alternately to the other. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church, and notable for his influence on St. Augustine.

The title "Honey Tongued Doctor" was given to Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers & wax refiners. 

Patron of bee keepers, bees, bishops, candle makers, chandlers, domestic animals, geese, learning, livestock, police officers, schoolchildren, security personnel, starlings, students & wax melters.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

6th December - St Nicholas

Hooray for St Nicholas' Day! St Nicholas is celebrated as a bringer of gifts.

St Nicholas (270 – 343), was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Bishop of Myra. He is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker and he had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on this feast day.

Other practices include:
  • In Germany and Poland boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor.
  • In Ukraine, children wait for St Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows.
  • In the Netherlands, children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for St Nicholas' horse.
  • In the USA, some children leave their shoes in the foyer in hope that St Nicholas will place some coins in them 
  • In France a little donkey carries baskets filled with children's gifts, biscuits and sweets.
  • In Italy St Nicholas is the patron of Bari where it is believed he is buried. At the Festa di San Nicola the relics of the saint are carried on a boat on the sea in front of the city with boats following. As St Nicholas is said to protect children and virgins, on 6 December there is a ritual called the Rito delle nubili: unmarried women wishing to find a husband can attend an early-morning Mass in which they have to turn around a column 7 times. A similar tradition is currently observed in Sassari, where during the day of St Nicholas, patron of the city, gifts are given to young women who need help to get married.

Our modern day Father Christmas is derived from St Nicholas. Santa Claus is derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint's name in that language.

He is the patron of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers and pawnbrokers.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

5th December - Sabbas of Mar Saba

 Also known as Sabbas the Sanctified & Sabbas the Great

Sabbas (439 – 532) was known as a simple man with little education but with a firm belief in the spiritual benefits of simple living. He was a hermit from the age of 20 and an anchorite from age 30. He lived in a cave and devoting himself to prayer and manual labour, weaving ten willow baskets each day. On Saturdays he would take them to the local monastery and trade them for a week's food and a week's worth of willow wands for more baskets. He eventually took over the leadership of over 1000 monks and hermits in the region.

Sabbas led a peaceful uprising of 10 000 monks who demanded the end of the persecutions of Palestinian bishops. At age 90, Sabbas travelled to Constantinople where he successfully pled for clemency from Justinian for Samarians who were in revolt.

Friday, 4 December 2015

4th December - Nicholas Ferrar (Little Gidding)

Nicholas Ferrar, together with the wider family, moved to Little Gidding after the collapse of their merchant business. On arrival they found the church used as a barn and the house, uninhabited for 60 years, in need of extensive repair. The household grew to about 40 in number. A school was established for the children of kinsmen and friends and family. One wing of the house became an almshouse for four elderly and infirm women. A dispensary was set up in the house to provide broth and medicines to the local people.

Nicholas was ordained deacon and he established regular prayer and established matins, the litany, and evensong. He also began a round of hourly devotions in the house, augmented by nightly vigils. Nicholas devised a Harmony of the four gospels. Individual lines were cut from the four gospel narratives and pasted together to make one continuous text and the pages were also illustrated with engravings.

When King Charles heard of the Harmony’s existence, he borrowed it, returning it only when the family agreed to make another for him. The family also made others for family and friends as well as for other royals and members of the nobility. Fifteen volumes survive, four in the British Library.

The Ferrar household was an example of a godly family, neither unique nor monastic, but firmly committed to the Church of England and its Prayer Book and to God’s service. Their pattern of life placed them in a middle way. The church at Little Gidding, with its reading desk and pulpit carefully placed at equal heights on either side of the church, expressed their vision of an appropriate balance of liturgy and preaching, a balance of tradition and scripture, interpreted by reason, that remains the heritage of the present Church of England.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

3rd December - Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier, (1506 – 1552), was born to the nobility of the Basque reqion. He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris and planned a career as a professor. His friend, of Ignatius of Loyola, convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel.

In Goa, India, while waiting to take ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. He is said to have converted the entire city.

He criticised King John of Portugal over the slave trade: "You have no right to spread the Catholic faith while you take away all the country's riches. It upsets me to know that at the hour of your death you may be ordered out of paradise."

He was a successful missionary in India, the East Indies and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000 converts. He is reputed to have dined with head hunters, washed the sores of lepers in Venice, taught catechism to children in India, baptizing 10,000 in a single month. Wherever he went he would seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He travelled thousands of miles, mostly barefoot.

Patron for missions, missionaries & navigators and is often represented by a crucifix, a preacher carrying a flaming heart, a bell, and a globe.

The best way to acquire true dignity is to wash one's own clothes and boil one's own pot.

Francis Xavier

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

2nd December - Liduina Meneguzzi

Liduina Meneguzzi, also known as “Ecumenical Flame” was born to a poor farm family. She attended daily Mass, prayed often and taught catechism as soon as she was old enough. At age 14 she began working as a servant to local wealthy families, and in local hotels. In 1926 she joined the Sisters of the Congregation of Saint Francis de Sales.

She worked for years at the Santa Croce boarding school as housekeeper, sacristan, nurse and big sister to the girls. In 1937 she left for Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia, working as a nurse in the Parini Civil Hospital first with civilian patients, and after the outbreak of World War II, with injured soldiers. When the city was bombed she worked in the streets.

Her work with people of different cultures, different races and different religions gave her opportunities to talk about the goodness of God the Father. She died in 1941 of cancer in Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia and was buried in the military graveyard at Dire-Dawa at the insistence of the soldiers she cared for.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

1st December - Charles de Foucauld

Born to an aristocratic family; orphaned by age six, he and his sister Mary were raised by their grandfather. He joined the 4th Hussar regiment and in 1880 his unit was sent to Setif, Algeria. He was discharged from the service for misconduct, and moved to Evian.

He spent 15 months learning Arabic and Hebrew and then travelled into Morocco. He received the Gold Medal of the French Geographic Society for his work. He lived very simply, sleeping on the floor, spending hours each day in prayer at home and in church. Pilgrim to the Holy Lands and spent much time in spiritual retreats.

In 1890 he joined the Trappist monks at the monastery of Notre Dames-des-Neiges; he moved to the monastery of Akbes, in Syria.

He made multiple pilgrimages through the Holy Lands on foot before returning to France to study for the priesthood. After ordination he moved to the Oran region near Morocco to establish a base and found an order to evangelize Morocco. he began a program of buying slaves in order to free them, he began evangelizing nomadic Tauregs in the area of south and central Sahara. He translated the Gospels into the language of the Tauregs.

He was killed when caught in the middle of combat between French forces and Arab insurrectionists.

As soon as I believed there was a God, I understood I could do nothing else but live for him, my religious vocation dates from the same moment as my faith: God is so great. There is such a difference between God and everything that is not.